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Your Gaming Diary 2022

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Just finished Ori and the Blind Forest's prologue.
 
Is that the bit where you find out how the forest became blind?
So sad.
They should put warning labels on those things.
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On 6/2/2022 at 7:53 PM, Glen-i said:

I started that game, but got distracted by others. 

Haven't gotten distracted by other games but I just dropped it. It's a Metroidvania...it's pretty but there's nothing there that I haven't experienced in one of the other games of that genre. ::shrug: 

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Since Pokémon Home's latest update, I've been working on filling the regional Pokédexes in that app, because it doesn't sync with your in-game ones for some stupid reason.

This has meant that I've had to revisit the Switch titles (Not you Let's Go! You suck!) and get some pre-evolutions to deposit in Home.

Which brings me on to Shining Pearl.

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I think this is only the second time I've actually gotten a 5 star Trainer Card in a Pokémon game, and it's all thanks to the cutest Pokémon ever.

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There were no survivors...

You can't argue that he isn't, he's got the ribbon to prove it.

My Groudon, Speedy, is not only surprisingly effective in competitive battles, but he's the subject of my ribbon conquest. I've been trying to get every ribbon on him, which meant that I had to enter him in Pokémon contests. This, naturally, led to hilarity.

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That Clefairy ain't cute! Please! Get off the stage, Carly! You're embarrassing yourself!

BTW, that Turtwig was also nicknamed Speedy, naturally that made it my mortal nemesis. Only I get to use ironic naming! This version of the contest has a dance sequence. Yes, it is very awkward with Groudon! But he won all 6 of them, getting me the final star, and 100%. And that ends my current stupid quest to get all the ribbons on one Groudon, well, until Scarlet comes out (Legends:Arceus doesn't have ribbons, thankfully). Anyway, Speedy is back in Galar now, where ribbons give your Pokémon silly titles.

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Totally worth it!

BTW, if anyone has a Regice and Registeel they caught in Sword/Shield, could I borrow them sometime? I need to register them in Home, but I released mine when I brought my competitive ones in from the 3DS...

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Had the sudden urge to play through Mario Odyssey again. I didn't want to do 100% (don't even think I did that on my original save, but just felt like playing through the main game again.

Well two sittings and around 7 hours later and Bowser was defeated. Didn't realise this was such a short main game. I pretty much just followed the story picking up any moons that I saw on the way and didn't really need to back track too much to find any extra needed moons. 

Still a masterpiece of a game and so much fun to play.

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6 minutes ago, BowserBasher said:

Had the sudden urge to play through Mario Odyssey again. I didn't want to do 100% (don't even think I did that on my original save, but just felt like playing through the main game again.

Well two sittings and around 7 hours later and Bowser was defeated. Didn't realise this was such a short main game. I pretty much just followed the story picking up any moons that I saw on the way and didn't really need to back track too much to find any extra needed moons. 

Still a masterpiece of a game and so much fun to play.

Yeah, the game is crazy short if you just play to see the credits. I done the same on my second playthrough of it a couple of years back and was shocked just how fast I got through it. I think the problem is that there are far too many Moons that are just sat there right in the open to collect and so you pick those up quite easily without having to do any of the ones that require a little more time and effort.

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I think the problem is that there are far too many Moons that are just sat there right in the open to collect and so you pick those up quite easily without having to do any of the ones that require a little more time and effort.

This is the biggest reason why I didn't enjoy Odyssey as much as other similar 3D Marios.

I never bothered with 100%, but I did enjoy it when I decided to blitz through it as quickly as possible. I put it down to the really good movement options Mario has here.

It's a fun speedrun game, but I say the same about Mario 64, which is fun to 100% as well. The worlds hit the right balance of stars and world size.

Odyssey's world's are mostly just too big.

Edited by Glen-i

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Posted (edited)

Murder By Numbers (Switch)

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More than a simple Picross game, Murder by Numbers is essentially a glut of Picross puzzles, interspersed by a fast-paced and witty detective story.

The story is light-hearted, doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a few crime-story twists, and starring a variety of diverse and likeable characters. I liked the humour, although appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, with lots of one liners and references to well known TV and literary detectives, such as Miss Marple and Nancy Drew. It was pleasant to see some diversity & representation within the cast of characters too.

While you can ask questions to characters & search for objects, these are very basic and the story sections play out more as a visual novel than a puzzle game.

The Picross challenges play how you’d expect, although, even by Picross standards, a few liberties are taken with how closely the solutions actually resemble the object you’re revealing… and I’m used to having to squint to make out images in usual Picross puzzles.

The disadvantage to using Picross puzzles as the main gameplay element inbetween story sections is that it does occasionally slow down proceedings. When the story really heats up and things are happening quickly, it can be a little jarring to then have a 5-minute break to do a puzzle before heading back.

It’s not the best Picross game, nor the best crime story, but it is fun and is definitely the best ‘Picross-based-crime story’ game I’ve played!

Edited by WackerJr
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And thus, my fighting game journey of the past few months has led me to this:

Skullgirls

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GENTLEMEN AND LADIES!

So, this is going to be a meaty* one. Besides a mini-review, it's also going to be a retrospective. Yes, of the one game. I'll explain in a bit, it's a surprisingly eventful story.

Skullgirls is an indie game first released in 2012, developed by Reverge Labs and published by Autumn Games. A fighting game by FGC enthusiasts for the FGC. And the small roster was all-female, which is unusual for a western-developed game:

  • Fillia - A schoolgirl with shapeshifting hair;
  • Cerebella - A circus performer with enormous biceps on her hat;
  • Peacock - A wacky cartoon girl, Tex Avery style;
  • Parasoul - A cool military gal who wields a parasol like a sword;
  • Ms.Fortune - A punny, immortal cat-girl who can dismember her own body at will;
  • Painwheel - A grotesque, vicious girl who attacks with a bladed wheel attached to her body;
  • Valentine - A ninja nurse. An evil one at that;
  • Double - A very disgusting shapeshifter lady

As you can see, the cast was unique, but tended a bit for the violent and gross. Surprisingly, Japanese audiences took a liking to it, to the point that Konami offered to publish the game in Japan, and even get it into digital stores in consoles! With DLC characters on the horizon, things looked bright for Skullgirls.

In 2013, Autumn Games was involved in several lawsuits regarding some other game they published. Despite being unrelated to Skullgirls, these lawsuits impeded most of the support that Autumn Games was willing to give to Reverge Labs. If that wasn't enough, some friction arose with Konami (apparently they were hard to work with, imagine that), the two companies severed ties, and it led to Skullgirls being delisted from the digital stores. As a result of all this, the planned DLC entered an extended hiatus, and Reverge Labs ended up laying off every developer involved with Skullgirls.

The now-unemployed developers decided to form their own studio with more blackjack and hookers, Lab Zero, as to somehow continue developing content for their game. Luckily, Autumn Games still owned the IP, still believed in the project, and as soon as they were done with the lawsuits, they allowed Lab Zero to continue working on Skullgirls.

Since the situation was still so dire, they decided to start a crowdfunding campaign in order to help, and... it was surprisingly successful! The fandom was loyal and passionate, and this support allowed for the creation of new content, the rerelease of the game on stores (now with the subtitle of "Encore"), got a new Japanese publisher (Arc System Works, which was very fitting), was  and more importantly, several new, free DLC characters:

  • Squigly - A zombie girl with a shapeshifting pet snake;
  • Big Band - A big cyborg made of musical instruments. Also, the first male character in the roster;
  • Eliza - A dazzling Cleopatra-like sexy sorceress;
  • Beowulf - A male wrestler with a wolf motif;
  • Robo-Fortune - A robot made in the image of Ms.Fortune. Joke character, but entirely new moveset;
  • Fukua - A Fillia recolour, and almost a moveset clone. That's it, that's the joke

All of this lasted from 2014 to 2019, and updated versions of the game being released in new generations (PS4, Xbox One, Switch) were subtitled "2nd Encore". The game - and its fanbase - certainly made itself known.

After these crowdfunding goals were met, Lab Zero started work on a proper, paid DLC season. In 2020, they announced the first- no, nevermind, that's not it.

What actually happened in 2020 was that accusations of sexual harassment came out against Mike Zaimont, lead designer and programmer. An internal investigation was made, the board of Lab Zero insisted for him to resign, and after a lot of back and forth... Mike Z disbanded the board and took control of the company. This caused a mass exodus from Lab Zero, until Zaimont was the only one left. The resigned employees decided to form their own studio with less blackjack and hookers, Future Club to keep working on the game without him. Autumn Games still owned the IP, and approved of the whole situation.

...

In 2021, yes, Future Club started releasing the proper 1st Season Pass:

  • Annie - A brave sword-wielding hero;
  • Umbrella - Parasoul's cute little sister. She fights with a living, horrifying umbrella;
  • Black Dahlia - A ruthless mafia hitwoman with a lot of firearms;
  • TBA - To be announced

And finally, after years and years of close calls and snubs, Skullgirls will finally be featured at EVO 2022! 'Bout time!

Got all that? Good.

I bought the game for Steam several years ago, and played it for a while in 2018. I had never fully finished the story mode (or any single-player mode), which is why I finally decided to go back and take care of it. As it happens, my version of the game got naturally updated into 2nd Encore, which was very nice of Future Zero Reverge.

Now on to the game proper.

Presentation

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The game looks and sounds amazing!

Like, you can see the sprites on-screen already, and it's gorgeous, right? I imagine it must be a huge amount of work to use this art style in the first place, but they've committed to it from the start. Even the more recent DLC characters fit right alongside the starting roster, so you know they've been prioritizing the visual consistency, and maintaining the frame count right about equal among each character.

A lot of the music was composed by Michiru Yamane. If that name sounds familiar, that'd be because she's the Castlevania composer. Seriously, listen. Not sure how they got her, but damn! Her style fits the fighting genre like a glove.

The art style of the game is chunky, bold, and cartoony, yes, but the general aesthetic of the game is "The American 20s and 30s". As such, there's mafiosi, divas, noir detectives and... anthropomorphic animals? Not everything is one to one, but it is appropriately silly. The backgrounds looked mostly dark at launch, but the later characters brought brighter stages as well. More detail too, with plenty of NPCs in the background, quite like how SNK does it.

On the other hand, things can also get... gross. Often, too. Peacock smokes through her eye, Eliza spreads blood around and can disassemble her skeleton from her body, Painwheel is painful to look at, Bewoulf carries a severed arm for no reason, and the generally lighthearted and punny Ms.Fortune does... this. Things can get hard to stomach, even if being cute-but-gross is totally an American Cartoon tradition (which makes this game's popularity in Japan all the more surprising).

To fit the aesthetic, most of the soundtrack is pretty jazzy. Seriously, listen. And then listen some more.

A cool sign of polish is the very wide variety of available skins/colours that were added throughout the years. Almost all of them are a reference to something, and while plenty are obvious references to make (like how Fillia has Millia (Guilty Gear) colours, or Robo-Fortune having a Samus Aran skin), there are also some fitting-but-unexpected ones (like Cerebella having a Battletoads colour, or Big Band having a lovely King Dedede scheme), and some that are just obscure and surprising (Bewoulf with a Captain Planet skin, as well as Valentine having a friggin' Tales of Symphonia reference with a Sheena Fujibayashi colour scheme!). It's a smorgasboard of references, and while a lot are fighting game related, you'll be surprised at what you might recognize here.

Speaking of which, you'll find a lot of fighting game references here and there. Voice clips, move names ("Furrserker Furrage" being a personal fave), and even the combo counter will drop a reference from time to time (I swear I saw "Tatsunical!" in there. "Marvelous!" is definitely here as well, as is "Dude!" for when you get a 69-hit combo).

Finally, lovely voice acting all around. My favourites are Big Band's smooth voice, and the spunk from the default female announcer.

The Plot

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No, seriously, there's a story. Hey! My words are down here!

In a world where magic and sci-fi coexist (as well as anthropomorphic animals alongside traditional humans), there's a mystical artifact called "The Skull Heart", which is said to grant immense power to the woman who touches it, turning her into "The Skullgirl". The last Skullgirl was actually the queen to a country, and at one point, she went berserk and needed to be put down. Seven years later, a young girl called Maria re-emerges as the new Skullgirl, and she goes on a rampage on a city ruled by a powerful mafia, the Medici family. Several women (and a couple of dudes) go looking to defeat her and claim the Skull Heart, for various personal reasons.

So, I kinda like the simple plot. "Character wants something, they beat up people until they reach the thing that allows it". The weird thing is that the base roster has some lackluster story modes, not just because they're super short, but also because each tale was clearly written with two endings in mind (there's always the one spot where the girl ponders what to wish for), with the final game only allowing one of them to happen. Luckily, the DLC characters, starting with Squigly, have better, more involved plotlines with twists and turns. I hope they update the base roster's at some point.

My main issue is the inconsistency of the setting. There's a city and a mafia, but some characters talk about the politics of a neighbouring kingdom... and also there's a vague plotline about a religion that barely anybody knows... and also, there's secret labs running experiments (for whom? Governments? Private companies? The Medicis?)... and then Bewoulf comes around and his plotline involves a great war from several years ago with giants (wtf?) that aren't mentioned anywhere else... and then Annie comes from outer space and... the writers just do whatever! It feels like they come up with a different setting for every character's backstory.

One consistent thing is the existence of intelligent parasitic beings that latch onto a host: the one Fillia has on her hair, Squigly's snake, Cerebella outright compares her hat to one... If we're going to focus on the one thing going forward, that can work.

Another issue is the inconsistency of tone. It's all very wacky, but then we have sexy ninja nurses alongside the grotesque tortured soul that is Painwheel. Then you have the mess of too many tropes that Bewoulf and Eliza are. Not to say that these things can't coexist (Peacock's story can certainly mix wacky and serious well), but there needs to be some firmer direction on the whole.

Still, it's a pretty good effort, and a good way to play the game in single-player and get acquainted with a few mechanics. I'm kinda hoping they just update this game with a "Chapter 2" of the story instead of saving it for a likely-distant sequel.

Then again, I don't necessarily want to feel obligated to beat this game again...

Gameplay

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Things fall apart eventually. You knew there was a CATch, eh?

Ok, it's not that dire, but it is true that the gameplay didn't call to me much. I mean, it's fun and all, and I won't turn away a session with it, but it hasn't truly enamoured me, you know?

Best way to describe it is "Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but polished". There are 6 buttons for normal moves (3 punches, 3 kicks) like in Street Fighter, but the characters move fast and the attacks combo easy, like in Guilty Gear. With this combo, we get MvC2. I find it... not my cup of tea. The control scheme works in SF because that's a slower, more careful kind of game with small combos. A simpler control scheme works for Guilty Gear and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom because those are much faster games, and attacks work better when simple and efficient. By combining the two, you get a game that's too fast for each individual move to matter in neutral state, and when you start a combo it's really easy to twist your fingers when trying to combo whether via memory or improvisation.

We're left with a game that truly was made for the FGC, and only the FGC. Not friendly enough for mashers, not friendly enough for methodic gameplay, not that intuitive, not that capable of easing in new folk. In fact, the whole gameplan seems to consist of "Learn 4 or 5 basic combos" -> "Try to hit one of your launchers during gameplay" -> "Once you hit, perform the combo, then link it into another combo at some point, and keep doing so until you've done all the ones you know (because you can't do infinites)" -> "Try to do that again". If you enjoy seeing interminable combos from MvC2 or MvC3, you're gonna love watching Skullgirls as well.

Even zoners get complicated to deal with. Sprites are so large, that every projectile is hard to dodge. It feels like overcoming a bullet hell, and that's just when the CPU is controlling them! But if you're a MvC2 veteran, I'm sure you'll manage.

You can also see this in the character selection: there are more characters with "gimmicks" than there are characters with solid fundamentals, it feels like. Fillia is meant to be the "Ryu" of the game, but she's got no projectiles, and her rushdown isn't intuitive. Peacock is hyperfocused on projectiles. Eliza had so many gimmicks, the developers literally needed to cut some. Parasoul could be a basic swordie, but her moves with mines, remote bombs, and minions prevent her from being just that. And don't get me started on Ms.Fortune's puppet head, how do you choose a concept like that for one of your starting 8? Heck, I'm not saying gimmicks are bad (Big Band can literally play music indefinitely with one of his moves, OoT style, and I love it), but you kinda need to build the basics before attempting those, you know?

The other modes don't really help. There's a tutorial that's way too long (as in, too many lessons and missions, because that's how complex the game can get), a few trial combos that are horrible (too specific, too demanding in execution, not the most useful or intuitive bread-'n-butter combos), and a few unique missions that... actually are varied and show what the game can be, yeah, I'll give'em that.

One thing I do like a lot is how tag teams work in this game: you can pick a team of 3, a team of 2, or a solo character. The fewer the number on the team, the stronger each character gets. So a team of 3 versus one opponent can feel like a boss battle. It's simple, intuitive, and promotes player expression. Sadly, one of the very few things in this game that's simultaneously simple and deep.

There's also the option to pick your own assist moves for combos, but I imagine it must be a nightmare to balance (seriously, devs, how did you not think that option would lead to broken shit?). This is one of those things that was meant to promote creativity and player expression, but it just leads to variety into how each long combo looks like.

I do like the cast a lot, each character does feel like they have a distinct gameplay identity, whether it be Big Band's huge size, Parasoul's range, Painwheel's super armour, or Eliza's explosive gimmicks. Even Fukua's kinda funny with how much of an alternate Fillia she is. The only one I didn't like was Bewoulf - notable, because wrestlers tend to be my favourite fighting game archetype - as he felt like an inconsistent mess without a good gameplan. On the whole, I did enjoy playing with a handful of characters (Cerebella, Big Band, Robo-Fortune, Valentine, Painwheel), even if I found the system itself obtuse.

Yeah, obtuse is a good word. Great looking title, but very steep to learn. This game was true love Reverge Lab Zero Future Club were makin', but this wasn't my tuna and bacon.

4 stars out of 5! I'm still looking forward to seeing this game on EVO.

(Sprites 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)

-Defenders of Oasis (1992) Completed (April 20th)

-Katamari Damacy (2004) Completed (April 27th)

-Donkey Kong Land (1995) Beat (April 29th)

-Donkey Kong Land 2 (1996) Beat (May 11th)

-Donkey Kong Land III (1997) Completed (May 28th)

-Skullgirls (2012) Beat (May 29th)

 

Replays:

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

-Wario Land 3 (2000) (April 15th)

 

Dropped:

-Dicey Dungeons (2019) (January 3rd)

-The Room (2012) (January 8th)

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

-Virtua Fighter 2 (Mega Drive) (1996) (April 24th)

*Heh, an FGC reference right on the first sentence :heh:

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Need for Speed Payback 

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I wanted to play a car game and this one seemed to have a good singleplayer focus. Despite hearing lots of bad things…I really enjoyed it. The silly rival crew designs are a lot of fun, and the characters are cliche but likeable. Handling felt really good, and handbraking around corners was very satisfying. The main game follows a story where a bunch of criminals who end up getting mixed in with a plot to rig races (and seemingly take over the world) and your goal is to win despite this. 

I honestly liked this much more than Forza Horizon 5, it has a good structure and the cards felt more meaningful. 
 

Black

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I only played this for a couple of levels as I did not get on with it at all. I heard good things about it back in the day but it just feels dated and not as fun to play as other retro FPS games. It was difficult to follow the story due to a lack of subtitles, and the atmosphere just felt completely wrong due to a lack of music (I’m not sure if that’s how the game originally was or if it’s a bug from backwards compatibility).
 

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion 

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An incredibly fun and silly game. It’s very short, but still manages to cram in a lot of fun moments. Loosely Zelda ish with a focus on doing quests for people. 

Sniper Elite 5

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I’ve not played any previous ones, but this was on Game Pass so I thought I would try it. It really scratched the classic Hitman itch I’ve had.There’s a focus on stealth but if you get caught you can still fight - there’s a ton of difficulty settings to make it how you want it to be. The kill camera (with an X-ray view of organs being punctured) is very satisfying and there are often multiple ways to complete objectives. The levels also didn’t seem overly large while still feeling large (it felt like the space was meaningful and just wasn’t big for the sake of it). Very enjoyable game.

Supraland

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Based on the brief description of being a “sandbox” game and the simple character designs, I was expecting a silly physics game like Human: Fall Flat. I was very wrong about this, and Supraland was so much more than I expected. 

The game is not a “sandbox game” in the sense that you can do whatever you want in a playground - it’s literally set in a child’s sandbox. You play as a plasticine figure, son of the red king. The blue plasticine people cut off the water supply to your village and it’s your job to save it. Supraland’s inspiration from other games is clear. I was concerned to start with as the title screen is a clear rip-off of the Zelda theme, but thankfully other inspirations are handled much more subtle. There's a device that looks similar to a Portal gun (instrumental to puzzles) but it has its own unique uses, and you can find hidden dead bodies of characters dressed up as people from popular franchises.

Supraland is a puzzle-platformer-metroidvania. As you progress through the areas, you’ll unlock new abilities and items in order to solve new puzzles, and you will backtrack to previous areas to progress. By the end of the game, it’s immensely satisfying just how easy traversal across the map is. One problem is that there are a lot of abilities, so much that it can be easy to forget some of the combinations you can do - there’s even an NPC that starts off by saying “Are you part of the 90% club” and when you’re struggling his message will change to “At this point, 90% of players forgot you could to [ability]”. 

Even with this, I immensely enjoyed this game and even carried on after the main story to get 100% completion because the exploration, movement and puzzles were so much fun.
 

Kraken Academy

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Another 2D game where you have to complete lots of quests. This has almost no combat in it, mostly just going from point to point with a couple of minigames and quick time events, but is also still fun to play. You’re a new student at a school called Kraken Academy, and you get told that the school will be destroyed in three days and you have to free four spirits (representing the different departments of Music, Art, Sports and Drama). You get given an amulet that allows you to return to the first day.

There are a lot of fun characters that you have to befriend, and a lot of fun scenes. It’s quite a relaxing game - although I think there could have been some more fun time travel shenanigans and paradoxes.
 

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I always wanted to play Black but I never got around to it. It was stupidly hyped up back in the day.

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Posted (edited)

Insomnia was being a pain in the bum last night, so I fought off boredom by booting up NSO SNES and trying to run to the credits in Donkey Kong Country 2 moderately fast.

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Died more times then I would've liked, but eh... half asleep.

Then I did the same for Super Mario World. 17 minutes, 42 seconds. No deaths there.

That's all I have to say. What a meaningful post!

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)
Grandia HD
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
NEO: The World Ends With You (100%)
Death's Door (100%)
Pokémon Shining Pearl (100%)
Donkey Kong Country 2
Super Mario World

 

Edited by Glen-i
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Steam Deck

I've spent a day with the Steam Deck so far and am really loving it. Being able to start what feels like a new system with all my games ready, just in a new form factor is great. This really feels like it's revitalised my interest in PC gaming, especially with automatic cloud saves letting me bounce between my desktop PC and the Deck. As someone who likes to tinker as well, things like per game profiles where I can set the refresh rate of the device or how much power it needs to draw is great for maximising battery life, especially when switching between indie titles and AAA games.

I'm currently spending a lot of my time with it playing Spiritfarer, a game I tried on gamepass but dropped off almost immediately. Loving it now.

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Posted (edited)

In all my years of playing Pokémon games, I have never felt like I completed a Pokédex out of a sense of obligation rather then enjoyment, but I suppose I should offer some sense of congratulations Pokémon Legends: Arceus for bucking that trend at least.

I don't need to explain what this game is, (I'm one of the last people to actually finish it, after all) but simply put, it's the Pokémon series testing the waters of going towards an open-world format. Because nothing shakes up a formula quite like aping what's the popular trend of the time. Apparently...

Normally, I'd do a write up detailing my thoughts, but this game doesn't deserve that kind of effort, so here I am, not even on a desktop, bullet pointing what's good and bad about this game. I've already spent far too much time on it already. I'd warn you of spoilers, but I don't care.

The Good

- To be frank, the best thing about this game are the noble fights, moments when you confront what can only be described as action game boss fights, where you roll through attacks and lob balms at Pokémon when you get an opening. Do well enough, and you get to send a Pokémon out in turn-based battling for big damage! These are legit fun, and I would love to see this in Scarlet/Violet, but that's not really feasible. Geez, could you imagine 4 player co-op on that? It'd be sweet!

- The transition between exploration and battles are nice and snappy. I hope S/V retains these.

- Loading times are really good! Although Game Freak have already shown that they prioritise low loading times, and I appreciate that.

- The Pokémon animations are slightly better then other mainline games. That's cool, but this is a monkey's paw if I ever saw one. More on that in a bit.

- The dialogue is a lot of fun. The game likes to play on the whole "modern day trainer astounds people of the past with basic Pokémon training knowledge"

- The majority of the sidequests are quite good. Most of them are based around Pokémon behaviour avid Pokémon fans would recognise. It's very good. (Ignoring some outliers like the Buizel and Spiritomb quest, those suck)

- The Pokédex entries are a lot of fun to read. The context of this Professor having very little information to go on (Remember, this is set in the distant past) make for some very interesting theories on certain Pokémon. One of my favourite dexes!

The Bad

- You know what's coming, say it with me now: Open Worlds Suck! They suck SO much. Zelda couldn't make them interesting, so Pokémon had no hope. Yeah, yeah. It's not truly open world, but it's about as big as an average one. The fifth area is when the game finally broke me and I couldn't stomach playing anymore until the Home update happened, and I still had Enamorus to catch, so... Scarlet and Violet will be a true open world, and it will be nothing but a downside. Thankfully, your average Pokémon game has solid turn based battles to help me plod through the tedium. Speaking of battles:

- Game Freak, what the hell did you do to your battle system!? You ruined it, that's what! A ridiculously truncated move list, there's 180 moves, and a lot of them have had their effects changed to be similar to other moves. Stealth Rock is basically Fire Spin here. For reference, Sword and Shield has more then triple the amount.

- Abilities are gone, so a lot of Pokémon lose their uniqueness. I'd probably like Sneasel's alternate evolution's new Poison/Fighting Typing if it wasn't for the fact that Toxicroak already has that typing, meaning there's no real difference between the two in Legends.

- Yep, still on that battle system. Instead of a strict turn based system, the speed stat determines how often a Pokémon attacks. This makes the Speed stat even more OP then usual, as fast Pokemon can easily get two turns at once. That is so overpowered in Pokémon games!

- Yep, more battle gripes, there's no punishment for switching a Pokémon out. No agonising over whether spending a turn to switch out is a good idea. Just switch to whatever is best, there's literally no downsides!

- This game uses that crap EV system that Let's Go has. This makes individual Pokémon less unique. You can't specialise a Pokémon in one stat, because there's no point. This makes a lot of late game Pokémon have really spongey defenses. Basically, there's good reasons why you can't battle other players in Legends. It'd be awful! Let's Go's competitive scene died on it's arse for a reason!

- No hold items either. Strategy? Who needs that!?

- Seeing as how this game has a ridiculously large world, you'd think they could fill it up with a wide variety of Pokémon? Except no, there's only 242. That's somehow less then you can catch on Gold/Silver... For the Game Boy! That's flat out unacceptable. I put this down to the monkey's paw of slightly better animations, not a good trade-off at all.

- Just to make sure you never want to battle, wild Pokémon can run away in the middle of fights. Remember how no-one liked that in the Safari Zone? Well, now it's everywhere!

- Shiny Pokémon are so laughably common, that any non legendary Pokémon that shows up in Legends: Arceus has now retroactively tanked the value of the shiny versions of these Pokémon. I truly realised this when I randomly hatched a Shiny Rhyhorn in Shield a few weeks ago, did a little celebratory fist pump, only to suddenly think "Oh wait, hang on. Rhyhorn is in Legends..." And now all the joy has been sucked out of that rare occasion. I like Rhyperior as well, but I'll likely never use the yellow panel version, because it doesn't feel special anymore. To really hammer it home, I don't think there's a single person on N-Europe who didn't catch a random shiny in this game! It's that easy!

- To complete a Pokédex entry, you not only need to catch a Pokémon, but you have to complete enough "research tasks" to get the info. Have you ever played Xenoblade 2? Remember how you had to perform various random tasks to level up individual blades? Yeah, it's that. And it's just as tedious as it is in Xenoblade!

- The item bag has limits on how much you can hold. Pokémon ditched that back in the GBA era! Why the hell is it back!? This gets even more annoying because crafting is a thing, so you have a hundred random items to make stuff with. Just a load of boring busy work.

And that's all I can think of. I'd probably be able to somewhat overlook the open-world rubbish if it wasn't for the fact that the battle system is so mangled! Luckily, I doubt Game Freak are stupid enough to inflict that on the competitive scene of Pokémon, so it won't be in Scarlet/Violet. Shame the boring open-world is going there, but maybe the (hopefully) good battle system and the Dragon Quest IX style co-op will distract me.

I can only hope. Because the world of Pokémon is looking pretty grim to me right now.

Edited by Glen-i
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36 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

Now THAT is a Hate Play if I ever saw one! :D

Oh no, it's not just a Hate Play. Shadow the Edgehog was a Hate Play. Final Corridor XIII was a Hate Play. I didn't mind too much though, as I knew what I was subjecting myself to with those games. Legends: Arceus is more complex then that, but if I had to give it a name, I'd dub it the "Sad Play".

BotW, Xenoblade X, Mario Odyssey and this game all have a similar gameplay timeline for me that went something like:

The Naive Start: "You know, this has some neat ideas, there could be something good here"

The Gradual Realisation: "OK, that neat stuff has lost it's appeal. The open world is looking to be bigger then I hoped"

The Hate Play: "For effs sake! It's still going!? Just end already!"

The Depressing Obligation: "I'm so close to the end, that I might as well finish the job..."

Now, it's not exactly the same throughout every game. BotW, for example, never got to the Depressing Obligation, because I could just go kick Ganon in the face whenever, so once the Hate Play started, that's when I bailed.

Meanwhile, Skyrim went through the first three phases in around 2 hours! Legit, the only cool thing there is you have the option to play as a lizard person. And nothing else.

Skyrim is awful, even by open world standards.

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Katamari Damacy Reroll

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Considering how this was ported to a new engine, I was surprised as to how little they did to try and improve it, even with some simple QoL changes like autosave. That said, it’s still a fun game of collecting objects and growing in size. The sense of scale is great, going from collecting tiny objects like dice to collecting cruise chips.
 

Ryse, Son of Rome

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The gameplay in this is pretty fun. Good hack n slash action, although not a lot in terms of combos. The graphics are also still amazing to look at.

The problem is that Ryse does not seem to know what sort of game to be. It starts off trying to be fairly serious in its story (despite some major inaccuracies), but then goes completely crazy half way through and feels more like an attempt at Pirates of the Caribbean in Rome. At some point you become a gladiator in the Colosseum (before it was actually built), and the colosseum is some amazing technology where the ground is made up of squares that move up and down and change to different layouts. You also face Boudicca near York (well before York was York and before the Romans even colonised it) and she later attacks Rome while riding an Elephant. 

There are also some funny moments later on, but it’s difficult to tell if these are intentionally funny or just so terribly written that they come out as funny. 

The gameplay is also often interrupted by terrible turret sections where you rapid fire at waves and waves of enemies.

I think this could have been a better game if it either remained serious the whole game or just embraced its insanity from the beginning. 

 

Donut County

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A silly but relaxing game. The concept is a bit similar to Katamari Damacy in that you control a hole, and as objects fall through, it gets bigger, letting you consume bigger objects. It’s very short, though, and could have done with some more puzzles. 
 

 

Chorus

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A space fighting game. Starts off a bit slow, but picks up once you relocate your character’s actual ship (which has an AI), as it opens up more abilities and movements such as the ability to drift your ship and jump behind enemies. Combat is a lot of fun due to these mechanics and I was really enjoying it.

That was until a big difficulty spike where you have to defend a bunch of ships while taking out others. Assaulting the big ship is actually quite easy, but the useless people “supporting” you kept dying - the game highlights ships that are attacking, but unfortunately due to my colourblindness, I can not see these markers, which meant I couldn’t prioritise the ships that were a thread, so I couldn’t get past this part.
 

Hollow Knight

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I tried to get into this but really couldn’t. The frustrations I had reminded me of Ori and the Blind Forest, where enemies blended into the background, and were made even harder to see due to foreground elements and particle effects. I’ve heard loads of great things about it. I got past one boss and then a dungeon (with a second boss), but decided to drop the game not long after that. 

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I love Ryse. I think it's such an underrated game. The combo system was great and trying to keep them going to unlock the achievements offered a good bit of challenge. This game mirrors The Order 1886 in that both games pushed the visual effects of their respective consoles very early on but both games were flops. I also loved The Order and it's sad that both these franchises will probably never get sequels. :( 

 

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I remember enjoying Ryse but I don't remember why lol. I think it was the combat...

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20220617221126.jpg

Nexomon

A lovely monster-catching game. Very streamlined and it comes with a few annoyances (limited fast-travel system, mobile UI, occasional glitches) but I enjoyed my time with it very much.

@Hero-of-Time if you go for the Platinum, keep this guide at hand and don't leave an area until you've caught all Nexomon. It'll make your post-game grind much easier (I think you'll be able to get all the regular mon that way and don't have to run around and get annoyed with the fast-travel system :p).

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@drahkon, I played the sequel, Nexomon: Extinction. Reviewed it for the site even. If you haven't tried it, you should give it a go. Defo my surprise hit of the year. I heard it improves on a lot of things in the original (Which I have, but haven't played yet).

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19 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

If you haven't tried it, you should give it a go

It's on my list but not something for the near future, unless it'll be available on Sony's new PS+ sub.

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Super late posting my May update because I've been busy with other things, too busy to play games in fact so next months update is looking pretty barren at the moment...

I kicked off May by playing through F-Zero X on the N64 Online app, it's a game that I was already intimately familiar with, being one of the staples of multiplayer parties and sleepovers in my youth, but I don't think I ever gave the single player much attention (outside of the time trials), my brother was definitely more skilled than I was so I'm sure he was the one who unlocked everything back in the day so it felt like I was coming at F-Zero X with fresh eyes again when I booted it up on Switch. First impressions were that I had certainly grown pretty rusty since the last time I played it, I only managed to place 3rd on my first attempt at the Jack Cup on Standard, my style was more reminiscent of F-Zero on the SNES, bashing into the side of the track rather than easing around corners, but I soon started to get the hang of it - I wasn't winning every race but I was able to keep my nose in front of my nearest rival so it wasn't long until I had completed the first 4 cups on standard difficulty. Thinking I was going to breeze through the difficulties in only a few hours of place, my confidence was checked when the step up to expert proved to be very tough. I was struggling to place in the top 5 most of the time, especially on the later races, and even when I got ahead of a rival it was only for a split second, they would invariably speed off into the distance, so I knew I needed to work on my driving skill. It was a bit of a slog to be honest, the AI seemed almost superhuman at times so it was a lot more frustrating than I bargained for but eventually I got the hang of things and, thanks to familiarity with the tracks I was able to work my way through each of the cups and finally unlock X cup. I think I had the most trouble with Queen Cup, it seemed to be the most challenging one on expert and I was able to breeze through the Joker Cup afterwards so when the credits rolled it was a bit of an anticlimax. I was a bit underwhelmed with the X Cup, I remember it being amazing when I was a kid, that the game was generating the tracks itself, that you'd get a different one every time, but racing on them now they're a bit boring - not putting up much a challenge at all. I don't think I'll be bothering with Master mode, it was frustrating enough working my way through on Expert, but I will likely go back to the game to mess around in the time trials and try and get better at the Death Race (another mode that I could never get the hang of when I was younger) and it was definitely a trip down memory lane to experience it again, I have to say I know the graphics are simple to achieve a consistent 60 FPS but the game looks gorgeous to me, the simple polygons rendered crisply on the Switch screen really makes the visuals pop.

Next up I finally started Aztech Forgotten Gods and its fair to say that first impressions were pretty bad. As I have mentioned here before many times, I was a huge fan of Lienzo's previous game Mulaka so I had high hopes for their next game and was slightly disappointed when they unveiled Aztech Forgotten Gods in a Nintendo Direct, one of the things I loved about Mulaka was the ancient setting, exploring Mexican folklore and myth, so for them to unveil a title that was almost the polar opposite in terms of setting, replete with flying robots and a futuristic city, it didn't exactly live up to my expectations, it just didn't look like my kind of game but, given how much I loved Mulaka, I was willing to give Aztech a chance. As I said though, when I finally got around to firing the game up, first impressions were very poor, the camera was very awkward and the general visual presentation reminded me of a low budget PS2-era game. It didn't help that it throws you right into action either, the prologue is set thousands of years earlier than the main game and you control a character who is already at full power (ala Metroid) and, despite the button prompts and slight on screen tutorials, the character feels far too fiddly and skittish. It was definitely a big step down from Mulaka, control in that felt fluid and enjoyable from the off, so, although the prologue makes sense narratively, it felt like a bit of a misstep to drop the player right into the action. What followed was surprisingly dialogue heavy, jumping forward far into the future and putting you in control of a young woman named Achtli, a bit of a slacker who lives with her archeologist Mother in an ultra futuristic Aztech city. It felt like it went from one extreme to the other at first, from dropping you into the action unprepared to a the lengthy exposition that followed, so the pacing felt quite uneven in those early stages, but eventually Achtli accompanies her Mother to a dig site where you pick up a magical gauntlet that is inhabited by a forgotten God, your actions triggering the resurgence of multiple malevolent Gods who take it in turns to wreak havoc on the city, leaving it down to Achtli and her new gauntlet to restore the peace. The early jank definitely stuck around throughout the rest of the game but once I had got the hang of the controls and the myriad of movement options the gauntlet presents, it became a lot more enjoyable. You can definitely see the roots of Mulaka in some of the boss battles, operating on enormous scales which can be impressive at times, even if the engine hampers some of the spectacle. Visually it doesn't improve much though, the graphical style isn't the most attractive to begin with and the scale of the environments leaves the models looking quite blurry and muddy most of the time, the frame rate isn't fantastic but it was at least stable, seeming to favour a stable framerate over a stable resolution, which does dip quite low at times but on the whole I still had a good time with the game. Lienzo is clearly a small team so I can forgive them some technical shortcomings, and I went into the game wanting to love it but it definitely seems like their ambitions for the game were a bit out of line with what they could achieve with their limited resources and time. Like I said, I enjoyed some of the boss fights eventually so there is a good base there but it was much more of a disappointment than I had anticipated - hopefully they can knock it out of the park again next time.

I have been interested in playing the GTA Trilogy on Switch since the new versions were announced but, given the poor reception when they first released, I decided to wait until they'd put out a few performance patches before taking the plunge. I remember playing GTA III at the time it came out on PS2 but I would have spent most of my time just aggravating the police and trying to cause mayhem, I picked it up on Android over a decade later and finally dug into the story missions but I don't know if I actually managed to complete it, the controls weren't exactly stellar to begin with so being restricted to touch screen controls made it all the more clunky to play through, so I was interested to see how it felt to play it portably with a physical controller. After firing it up and playing through the first couple of missions I was reminded how tetchy and floaty the driving physics can be, trying to take a car up a small incline results in the car flipping over, large vehicles are far too bouncy, but most of all I was annoyed by the terrible AI - other vehicles seem to have no sense of you at all, following their proscribed paths and patterns even when you pull in front of them at a junction they won't try to move out of the way. It makes some of the missions incredibly frustrating, especially one of the early races, and it definitely hampered my enjoyment somewhat. For the most part the missions are quite easy, the objectives are incredibly simple at times, but as you get further into the game the difficulty is ramped up significantly, the last few missions in particular were just absurd, from insanely tight time limits to ridiculous tests of accuracy, often times giving you wilfully poor instructions (the second to last mission in particular was guilty of that). It was definitely disappointing going into the final mission, I had tooled up with every weapon, a shield, geared up to infiltrate the mansion, only to stripped of everything once the mission actually started. I tried it the conventional way several times, making it about halfway up the dam before getting scorched with a flame thrower before becoming so impatient that I decided to use the all weapons cheat to make it easier. It obviously helped to have access to everything but the cheat actually restricts your ammo, only giving you a few rounds for each weapon, so it was still a slight challenge that took me a few more attempts to complete. I don't really feel like I ever really engaged with the story, it feels pretty barebones in that respect (as well as being pretty outdated in terms of representation) but I had a good time speeding around Liberty City with Double Clef FM on full blast and I don't think it'll be too long until I dive into Vice City.

Lastly for May I played through the original Ninja Gaiden on the NES online app, it's a franchise I have obviously been aware of for a very long time but one that I had never played, so it felt appropriate to start at the very beginning. I had expected it to be punishingly difficult and, while some of the boss fights would certainly qualify, my first impressions were that it was actually less of a challenge than I had feared. The game is still replete with all sorts of 8-bit nonsense, with the same kind of incredibly unfair enemy placement and knock back that Castlevania is guilty of, but I felt more able to navigate the levels than I had expected. In the first few acts the biggest challenge for me was probably the time limit, it wasn't something that I really considered while I was playing through the first level, I was taking my time navigating the terrain and fighting enemies, so I didn't even make it to the first boss before the time ran out - a lesson I tried to keep in mind as I played through the rest of the game. I used the rewind function pretty liberally, there was no way I was going to be able to beat any of the final bosses without abusing that particular feature, so it wasn't as stiff as a challenge as it could have been, but I still feel like I got a good sense of the gameplay. The thing that surprised me most was the story and how much dialogue there was in the game, it would often spend several minutes on setting up the next act, sure its incredibly simple and the translation is a bit ropey, but it must have been hugely impressive back in 1988 and, with the considerable challenge it offered, dedicated players would have definitely got their moneys worth. I'd definitely be interested to try out more of the series, perhaps working my way through the 2D entries like I've done with Castlevania.

As I mentioned previously I haven't really played anything yet in June, at least not outside of Animal Crossing, I had intended to play through Xenoblade X before Chronicles 3 comes out at the end of next month but it feels like too big of a commitment with the limited time I've got at the moment so I'll have to trawl through my backlog and pick out some of the shorter games to get through first. 

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After reading drahkon's adventures in the world of Nexomon, I decided to pick it up myself while it was on sale on PSN for £4.00. I've put around 5 hours into it and I really like what I've played so far.

The game does a few things which are better than what Pokemon does. For a start, the battles are a very speedy affair. You can really get through a bunch of them in the time it would take to finish a single battle in Pokemon. A lot of the time when I play a Pokemon game I turn off the battle animations to speed things up but there is no need to do so here. I'm not sure if it's even an option. Either way, I like how fast the fights are. I've only just fought the second leader and I already have the trophy for winning 500 fights. Just shows how fast things are in the game.

The amount of exp you get in a battle is pretty generous. I was worried about the lack of an Exp Share mechanic but not having one has been absolutely fine. I have a couple of monsters that are already in the mid 30 range and others that aren't too far behind. The large amount of exp being dished out allows for you to switch your team up on a regular basis because you can always level up a new monster quite fast. 

Another thing I like is being able to see where enemy Pokemon are hiding. Bushes shake where there is an enemy encounter and so you can choose to avoid it or engage in it battle. It makes traversing the world much easier. Sadly, this system doesn't seem to apply when navigating caves. Sure, being able to see what you battle is now a thing in the newer Pokemon games but i'm comparing this to the older ones.

The writing in the game is quite funny. It's very much aware of itself and the moments where it breaks the 4th wall had me laughing away. I honestly wasn't expecting to enjoy the narrative so much.

The designs of some of the beasts are great. When playing Pokemon I usually pick my team based on the type and then how they look. It's been hard to do that here because so many of them look amazing. I'm having to constantly switch them out because I keep finding ones that look better than the last. :D 

The only downside of the game are the visuals. It does look like a mobile game and a little cheap in comparison to Pokemon but it's certainly not a deal breaker, especially when it's doing a lot of things right. Yeah, really enjoying this at the moment.

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12 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I was worried about the lack of an Exp Share mechanic but not having one has been absolutely fine.

Having one will be even better :p 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, drahkon said:

Having one will be even better :p 

Real talk, I don't agree that's always the case. If an RPG isn't balanced around how it dishes out EXP, you can get an unsatisfying difficulty curve.

It's my biggest issue with Shining Pearl. They added mandatory EXP Share to that game, but didn't rebalance most of the opponent's Pokémon, so even without grinding, you were constantly above the level of what you were fighting. Until the Pokémon League, when a 10 level jump accompanied by giving the Elite 4 and Cynthia a proper competitive team made for a sudden difficulty jump.

3 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Another thing I like is being able to see where enemy Pokemon are hiding.

Tee hee, the inspiration for Nexomon is so blatant, you couldn't stop your subconscious!

You know, if it was anyone else, I might have taken offense by the fact that I wrote an entire positive site review for the sequel, and no-one tries it, but @drahkon posts a few about the original game, and you immediately give it a go. But then, it's you, so it's more likely that you use my opinions as a red flag for what not to play. Which is fair.

Oh well, good to know that this game still had the self-aware writing that Extinction has. Because it's my favourite thing about that game.

nexomonextinctionimage1.jpg

Well, that and Domigator, which is such a blatant, brazen, knock-off of Krookodile, I kinda love it!

nexomonextinctionimage4.jpg

Anyway, I'll give you the same advice that I gave drahkon, if you still enjoy Nexomon by the time you finish the game, give Extinction a go. It seems to be a more refined game.

Edited by Glen-i

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