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Your Gaming Diary 2023

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I’m currently playing through it with my wife and young daughter, and it’s probably the ideal game to play for us all together.  We’re about 3/4 through and I agree with @Hero-of-Time’s assessment so far.

It’s gotten a little repetitive for me and my wife, and I wish they’d made the different areas stand out from one another a lot more. I like the humour (in keeping with the recent Mickey short shows on Disney+ that have enough humour for grown-ups as well as children) and my daughter is really enjoying it. 

Oh, and a great inclusion is the ‘hug’ move, where two characters can choose to hug each other and this gives each player an extra temporary heart.  In our household this has lead to many occasions where someone’s lost a heart and waits with their character arms outstretched ready for a hug, nobody noticing until one of us yells “hug meeeeeee!” 😂

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Yeah, it seemed like a perfect game for families and I'm happy to see you guys are enjoying it, @WackerJr. How are you finding the camera setting in the game? I know when I was playing it sometimes felt a little too far zoomed out but then I suppose this is to accommodate 4 players on screen at once.

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With Octopath Traveler II done, it was time for another JRPG to be cleared from the backlog.


Krusty said it better than I ever could...


I knew this game would never reach the heights of Chrono Trigger but it didn't even come close to it. Awful, awful battle system and a convoluted storyline (this is coming from someone who has no trouble following Kingdom Hearts) made for a very rough experience. Baffling when you look what came before it.

I can see why many fans were disappointed by this game. I suppose I'm lucky in that I missed out on all the hype for this back in the day, what with neither games being released over here. I can't imagine loving Trigger, seeing this sequel in gaming magazines, waiting months for its release and then getting whatever the hell this is. :D

Still, part of me is happy enough to have at least played it. Unlike Trigger, I can't see me ever wanting to play it again. If anything, playing this made me want to fire up Trigger. :p


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Chrono Trigger...A game that is praised every time I read about it. And yet I could never get into it. :nono:

7 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Awful, awful battle system and a convoluted storyline (this is coming from someone who has no trouble following Kingdom Hearts) made for a very rough experience.

Yikes, sounds like a disaster. Maybe it's a good thing I haven't properly given the series a go :p

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8 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

With Octopath Traveler II done, it was time for another JRPG to be cleared from the backlog.


Krusty said it better than I ever could...


I knew this game would never reach the heights of Chrono Trigger but it didn't even come close to it. Awful, awful battle system and a convoluted storyline (this is coming from someone who has no trouble following Kingdom Hearts) made for a very rough experience. Baffling when you look what came before it.

I can see why many fans were disappointed by this game. I suppose I'm lucky in that I missed out on all the hype for this back in the day, what with neither games being released over here. I can't imagine loving Trigger, seeing this sequel in gaming magazines, waiting months for its release and then getting whatever the hell this is. :D

Still, part of me is happy enough to have at least played it. Unlike Trigger, I can't see me ever wanting to play it again. If anything, playing this made me want to fire up Trigger. :p


You should've bought it for Radical Dreamers.  Chrono Cross is the bonus extra ;)

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On 14/11/2023 at 7:01 AM, Hero-of-Time said:

Yeah, it seemed like a perfect game for families and I'm happy to see you guys are enjoying it, @WackerJr. How are you finding the camera setting in the game? I know when I was playing it sometimes felt a little too far zoomed out but then I suppose this is to accommodate 4 players on screen at once.

Now you mention it, it did bother me at first, especially where I try to record video at times and worried it was too hard to see what was actually happening.  I quickly adapted though and it doesn’t bother my wife or daughter.  I agree it must be to accommodate 4 simultaneous players and gives more opportunity for everyone to remain on screen, especially where the camera only follows player one.

If there had been combat, or tight platforming then I think it would’ve bothered me more.  As it happens, it’s quite generous with jumps and platforming, and the enemies are drawn to clearly show up against the backgrounds, so it hasn’t impacted gameplay for me.

I think I know the answer then, but does it regularly zoom out a lot even when playing it with one player?

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15 minutes ago, WackerJr said:

I think I know the answer then, but does it regularly zoom out a lot even when playing it with one player?

Yeah. I guess the perspective must stay the same regardless of how many players there are. The only time it really zoomed in was when using the health baths.

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Another day, another JRPG crossed off the backlog.

Well, this one was a nice surprise. I was half expecting some cheap Fire Emblem ripoff that Square-Enix just hastily put together and shoved out the door but I couldn't have been more wrong. The game actually plays more like a Command and Conquer than Fire Emblem.

You pick 4 units from your squad and you click when you want to move them on the map or point them towards an objective or enemy. They will then attack automatically, with you selecting special attacks for them to perform. The strategy comes into play with your position. It's best to try to create a pincer move and deal a lot of damage from behind the enemy. Some moves and classes allow for you to charge through the enemy and position yourself behind them. Others make it so the enemy focuses on them, allowing the rest of the squad to circle behind. Of course, you can just go for a head on approach as well. :D

Each of the units you pick can eventually be accompanied by a backup unit. This lets the main unit use certain moves from the backup character. For example, I was using a character on a horse who charges in and takes on the enemy face to face. He needed extra healing because of this and so I paired him with a healer class so that I could attack and heal him up before the rest of the team arrived. Another example was when I was using a healer as a msin and paired him with a bow user. This meant that he could still do some damage whilst healing at the back of the battlefield. There are lots of ways to mix and match units to create different ways of tackling missions.

Each of the maps are a breezy affair, with you probably spending 10 minutes tops on each of them. Most of them have a sub mission that requires you to finish under 6 minutes, so that should give you an idea how fast things can be over with. It also helps that the game has a double speed feature. This, along with the short missions, means it certainly has a pick up and play quality.

The main hub does seem to be a little inspired by Fire Emblem: Three Houses but thankfully it's not half as big and you can teleport to any room you want with the press of a button. Talking to characters in the hub usually gives you gold to spend on new equipment/upgrades or unlocks sidequests for you to tackle. Both main and sidequests can be repeated as many times as you like. Yup, you can grind exp and money to make your team more powerful. Needless to say that's exactly what I done. :p

Again, very surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Definitely one of the most underrated games I've played this year. I paid £15 (it's always on sale on Amazon) and got a good 30 hours out of it. Very happy with that.

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38 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Yup, you can grind exp and money to make your team more powerful.


This game's been on my radar from the start but I'll wait for it to be 15€ or be added to PS+ :p

Your post kinda makes me want to churn out the 22€ for a copy from Amazon.de right now, though :D

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Blimey! I need to do an update of my own, it’s been like forever, innit…

Well that took a while.  Better late than never though!


Advance Wars 1 Remake



Speaking of late, Advance Wars 1 + 2 Reboot Camp finally got released! I honestly thought that it was going to end up becoming the Switch's very own Starfox 2 but no! Against all odds, Wayforward's remake of the GBA classics actually came out... three years after the announcement of this collection.  Thank goodness all that nonsense with that silly Ukranian war is all done and dusted with and now we never have to worry about real life war ever agai... oh... wait...


Don't tell Nintendo that...

You can take pretty much everything I said about Advance Wars when I last wrote up about it back in 2020 and apply it here, so let's go over the remake's quality by itself.  Quite simply, Wayforward did a superb job.  While there was some initial controversy over the decision to go with 3D polygon graphics? In practice, I think it works fine.  While I'd say that the original sprite graphics probably look better overall? I don't mind the shift, as the new visuals look fine to my eye.  The only real complaint that I have is that the MD Tanks look a bit too similar to standard tanks, making me have to sometimes do a double take to make sure which units are which.  Bit annoying, but nothing gamebreaking.

The 2D art though? Bloody gorgeous! They use traditional handdrawn cel-animation for the FMV cutscenes and interstitial CO Power animations, and it all looks brill.  Like a proper Saturday morning cartoon, perfectly in-line with what the original game was always going for.  What's also interesting is that Wayforward decided to completely rewrite the game's dialogue from scratch.  Bit of an odd decision, as Nintendo's remakes usually reuse the original English scripts mostly untouched, and the original Advance Wars already had some excellent dialogue anyway; but thankfully, the new dialogue feels perfectly natural, and perfectly captures the tone and spirit of the original.


Meet your peerless strategic leader who is in charge of your lives!

The presentation is also bolstered by some rather brilliant voice acting... including the utterly inspired decision to choose Veronica Taylor as Andy... yes, the original Ash Ketchum.  You literally could not have picked a better voice actor for the role.


So meta, on so many levels...

What's even more impressive than the visual presentation is the audio.  Maddie Lim, Micaela Nachigall and Tommy Pedrini turned out some utterly incredible arrangements of the classic soundtrack.  Every single song is a certified banger, but I'll just leave you with a couple...

Special shoutout the the excellent sound design as well, as there are no less than five, yes FIVE, versions of every single theme that change as you go in and out of various menus and battle scenes.  Brilliant stuff.  Oh! Yeah.  And I know I've said this before in the game's official thread? But really, I didn't expect this game to be a showcase for the Switch's HD Rumble.  It's not gameplay changing or anything, but the game is full of brilliant little HD Rumble touches, like the clicks of the cursor, or Andy's cranking of his bike wheel in the opening FMV cutscene, or being able to feel each individual rocket being fired when you're using... err... Rockets... it's all so well done.  Wayforward put the effort in and it really shows.

There are some minor gameplay tweaks here and there, most notably the ability to select whatever stage you want in the Campaign after you finish it the first time, meaning that you no longer have to perform multiple playthroughs to unlock all the stages; while Rivals! is now unlocked by beating every stage instead of the rather obtuse way of finding it in the original... though it's still every bit as utterly brutal as it used to be!  Also, since you can now replay past stages, The Final Battle now just straight up allows you to select whichever COs you want from each army; meaning that your team composition is no longer dependent on your route through the Campaign.  While this does technically make that stage a bit easier than the original, the actual level design have thankfully not been touched.  Finally, Drake's CO Power no longer shows the location of enemy units during Fog of War as they're being hit; a significant nerf on FOW maps, that I suppose gives Sonja a little bit of a bump by proxy? (She still sucks though).  Otherwise, the gameplay is the Advance Wars you know and love... dodgy CO balancing and all.


Still every bit as satisfying 22 years on!

Gee! Wonder what game I'm gonna play next! Bet you'll never guess...

Advance Wars 2 Remake


Officially the greatest GBA game ever made, Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp: Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising: Colon Cancer is next on our list here.  Take everything I said about the remake of AW1 and apply it here pretty much.  This is the bigger & better sequel with a new cast of Saturday Morning Cartoon Monster Of The Week villains, and they're all great!

AW2 largely assumes that you've already played the first, in fact AW2 is locked by by default unless you finish AW1 or bypass the in-game warning, and has you assume the battle hardened role of Andy once again; grizzled war veteran who is now a true grandmaster of war strateg...



The sequel offers a more freeform Campaign this time around, allowing the player to choose what stages they play and in what order.  In fact, you don't actually have to play every stage to progress the story, but of course, you're gonna do it anyway because it's so much fun (and you're gonna want those Neotanks and hidden character unlocks ;)).  The overall difficulty is higher, and the level design is every bit as superb if not even moreso.  Wayforward didn't mess with a good thing here, and it's a brilliant remake of an amazing game.


Yes Lash.  I completely agree with you

Superior CO balancing, peerless level design... this game has it all.  It won the N-Europe poll for a damn good reason.  It's one of the best games that Nintendo has ever developed/published, and Wayforward's remake absolutely does the game justice.  I'm just gonna end this point on a couple more choice songs from the remake...


Metal Slug 3



I love arcade games.  However, I rarely end up finishing them proper because I prefer to try 1ccing them (or in the case of Neo Geo titles, at least under the standard 4 credits of an AES release).  I hate the idea of credit pumping your way to victory because it robs them of their intended challenge and game design, and Metal Slug 3 is way, way too hard for any normal human being to beat with only 4 credits (let alone one!).  So why is it here then?  Well... I played this game at The Heart of Gaming arcade here in London and I was here with my sister, so we decided to sit down at the cabinet and credit pump the crap out of this game!


Never thought I'd ever see this screen!

After playing through the whole game now? I can safely say that this game is absolutely not balanced for a potential 1cc.  It fully expects you to credit pump your way to the end.  Beating Metal Slug 1, 2 and X with 1-4 credits is a tough but at least reasonable challenge, but MS3? Nah.  Not gonna happen.  This is perhaps best exemplified by the end screen, which tallies up the amount of credits each player used to reach the end of the game... (was around 56 credits in total... that's a lotta moola!).

Game is still a ton of fun though!


Best homeless bum in gaming history

The Metal Slug series began in 1996 and picked up the baton that Contra had dropped onto the floor in spectacular fashion with its failed attempts at bringing the series into 3D.  It's a natural evolution of Konami's 2D run-n'-gun action with crazy action, ridiculously amazing 2D pixel art visuals, bopping soundtracks and a sharp sense of humour.  Each entry in the series largely plays similarily, being pumped out much like the Mega Man series, but each one introduces new gameplay gimmicks and a ton of reused art assets along the way.  Metal Slug 3 is the final game in the series developed by the original development team (Nazca; who also made the superb Neo Turf Masters; as well as many other arcade classics when they used to work at Irem), and they pulled out all the stops.  Every stage is packed with a ridiculous amount of enemies, setpieces, animation and balls-to-the-wall action... arguably too much even; as this game commits a bit of an arcade game sin... it's too long.  Metal Slug 1 & 2 can comfortably be beaten within 20-30 mins, but MS3? You're talking at least an hour at the minimum for someone who isn't an inhuman speedrunner; with the final stage literally being at least 50% of the entire game's runtime.  It all starts to feel a bit exhausting towards the end, as the finale begins to wear out its welcome.


This is just the first boss!

Still, being too much of a good thing is hardly the worst thing in the world.  The game is still a hell of a ride from start to finish, with enough insane action setpieces to make even Platinum Games blush.  There's even a bunch of branching paths that lead to different areas, so each playthrough can be a bit different.  Nazca certainly went out with a bang, and even though it's not my favourite in the series (I still prefer MS1 and MS2/X for their superior pacing), I can't help but admire the sheer ambition on display here.  An arcade classic for a good reason.

Lucky & Wild


Continuing my arcade adventures, I was incredibly lucky to get to play Lucky & Wild on its original arcade cabinet.  If you know anything about arcade history, you'll know that L&W cabinets are incredibly rare finds, and to find one in fully working order!? Like literal golddust.  On top of that? This game has never been re-released in any official capacity, making original cabinets and MAME your only options.

I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by to get to play the game in its original form.  And you really can't talk about this game without talking about its original cabinet.  Sporting a rather odd control setup, the cabinet features a steering wheel and TWO light guns! What the heck? How does this work then? I hear you ask.  Is it a light gun game? Or a driving game? The answer is... both!


Lucky & Wild.  Running over children since 1993

This is a 2 player game where Player 1 gets to steer the car and shoot baddies at the same time, while Player 2 merely gets to shoot because Wild is a loser.  Clearly inspired by Starsky & Hutch, you play as reckless bounty hunters who will happily drive through heaps of innocents as they shoot to kill in the name of justice and sweet sweet money.  It's a short & breezy affair that also happens to be a massive quarter muncher.  Namco clearly designed the game with spectacle in mind first, as the super scaler visuals certainly make quite the impression for a vintage 1993 title.  Unfortunately, the game is so hectic and fast paced that it's virtually impossible to complete without credit pumping your way to the end; with each player constantly taking virtually unavoidable damage, the Continue screen is an inevitability.

Ultimately, I appreciate the spectacle on display here, but I don't think it quite comes together as a whole.  It's more of a glorified rollercoaster ride than an enjoyable video game, but it's such a unique novelty that it's probably worth giving it a go if you're ever lucky enough to see a cabinet out there in the wild.

Let's Go Jungle! Lost on the Island of Spice


This is a closed booth, 2 player mounted light gun game released in 2008.  You're a nerdy scientist who is trapped on an island with your girlfriend and you need to somehow escape alive.  This game is like a stupid version of Jurassic Park on rails, filled with lovingly awful voice acting, over-the-top setpieces and thousands of bugs (the insect kind) & mutant sea monsters.  It's designed as a "couples" game, with the game tallying up you and your partner's compatibility at the end based on how well you both perform team actions throughout the game (essentially, timed and button mashy QTEs, alongside shooting targets together).  There isn't a whole lot of strategy involved, as the gameplay remains rather simple throughout; but the sheer absurdist spectacle of it all makes for a fun time with a buddy.


This screenshot sets the game's tone rather well

Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Model 3)


Jumping off the Island of Spice, we enter Jurassic Park.  And as it turns out, Let's Go Jungle is essentially a sequel to The Lost World, sharing remarkably similar mechanics, alongside its remarkably similar setting and remarkably awful voice acting.  Though The Lost World isn't set up as a couples game, it's still best played with a friend; as a fast-paced rollercoaster ride of a light gun title.  Like the other titles mentioned earlier in this post? It has never seen a re-release of any kind, not even in the recent Jurassic Park collection for modern consoles (no, really, WHY!?).


Are you a bad enough dude to stop this crisis of dinosaurs?

Puzzle Bobble 2x


Finishing off my arcade gaming binge is Puzzle Bobble 2x.  Unlike the other arcade games I previously mentioned however, I played through this one on my Egret 2 Mini.  And also unlike those other games, I actually did 1cc this bad boy :cool:

Shockingly, Puzzle Bobble 2 is the sequel to Puzzle Bobble.  I know, crazy right? But this isn't Puzzle Bobble 2, this is Puzzle Bobble 2x; the minorly upgraded version! (The best kind of upgrade!).  Compared to the crappy vanilla Puzzle Bobble 2, 2x includes an additional Puzzle Edit mode that lets you make your own custom puzzle boards (yes, even in the arcade version; can't imagine arcade operators being happy about this mode!), slightly better graphics (woohoo), an additional set of single player puzzle mode stages called X mode (try to sound surprised), and... best of all... a Happy New Year screen! Yippee!!


More Puzzle Bobble is always fine by me

So what's new with Puzzle Bobble 2 over the original game? Well, there's a proper VS CPU mode now, that's a nice start! But also, the single player mode is way better, with more interesting puzzles and a new branching path map screen that lets you choose what stages you want to tackle on the way to one of several endings...


What Puzzle Bobble learnt from Darius

Otherwise, you have better music and graphics, and that's Puzzle Bobble 2.  This is my favourite game in the series, with plenty of content and my favourite overall presentation and game feel.  It just feels good to play.  It's also rock hard if you're trying to 1cc the game... which I managed in both Puzzle Mode and VS CPU.  What else can I say? It's really good, go play it!

Pokemon Trading Card Game



In this latest episode of WHY THE HELL HAVEN'T THEY MADE A SEQUEL!? (we'll get to those later), we have Pokemon TCG for the original Gameboy (yes, it's a hybrid GB/GBC cartridge, not a GBC exclusive game; sorry @Glen-i but it's not a GBC game, no matter what you try to argue).  It got re-released for the Switch NSO service and I went apeshit over it! Oh... my God... Pokemon TCG Online, at last! (no! not now...).  This is an RPG take on the real-life Pokemon Trading Card game and even comes with a free Pokemon card! (Not on Switch though... they robbed us... cheapskates...).  But really, it's only an RPG in the loosest sense of the term, as the RPG trappings basically amount to a level select with some optional battles and a few roundabout fetch quests/trades.  It's very basic stuff... but it's enough to make the game a pretty compelling experience.


Pretty much the entire game summarised in two screenshots

This Gameboy game features all of the cards found throughout the three initial real-life TCG sets (Base, Jungle, Fossil), along with a few extras and a handful of GB exclusive cards that make use of randomisation attacks that are impossible to replicate in real-life.  If you haven't played the game before, you've probably already figured out the story.  Kill all 8 gym leaders, steal their cards and become the champion who nicks the Legendary Cards; or something like that.  Anyway, this game is all about collecting cards, beating up kids and stealing their most prized posessions; just like the real-life TCG!


Capitalism Ho!

The real-life Pokemon TCG is was a very well balanced and enjoyable card game in its own right, so naturally that means that the core gameplay here kicks arse.  But the light RPG elements and awesome music are enough to elevate the game from mere TCG simulator to essential Gameboy game in its own right.  There isn't really much to say about the game world or structure, because there really isn't much to it at all (it really is just a glorified menu screen), but it goes to show how a quality presentation and charming RPG trappings can elevate what would otherwise be a fairly rote card game.  And this game still remains the most accessible way of experiencing the Pokemon TCG's gameplay, even some 25 years on.  So go play some children's card games! I'll be waiting for you on Switch NSO to do battle, as we never got a proper sequel... and certainly never an online version of the TCG before... no, never... shut up!

Vampire Survivors


Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors... doesn't truly have an ending... but it does have a credits sequence so it counts!

This is the best slot machine I've ever played.  It's just the perfect down-time game and I find myself continuing to come back to it again and again (do the new stages count as post-game!? Honestly, @Glen-i @RedShell, I have no idea! Help me out here!).  Described by slot-machine maker extrodanare Luca Galante (AKA "poncle") as a "reverse bullet hell" game, it was a side project that was slowly developed over many years during his down-time while working for various online gambling websites.  The gameplay is ridiculously simple, you walk... and that's it! But unless your idea of walking involves being constantly attacked by literally thousands of on-screen monsters while filling the screen with seizure inducing fireworks, this is the worst Walking Simulator I've ever played!


Don't mind me, just on my morning constitutional

The goal of the game is to live... to thrive... to... not die! Well, for at least 30 minutes anyway.  Your chosen character (usually) starts out with a weapon, and said weapon fires automatically.  You just have to move and try not to walk into baddies, while your weapon attacks the nasties automatically.  When the villains are vanquished, they drop gems! And gems make level go up! Level go up means you get to choose a new weapon or passive ability (or you can level up an already collected weapon/passive to make it stronger), which lets you make more dead! Which makes level go up and make more dead! Which makes level go up...


Well that escelated quickly!

Number go up make me happy.  There's something oddly satisfying to my lizard brain as you start becoming a God of destruction, literally thousands of enemies start flooding the screen and the screen turns into a flashing seizure of colours and explosions as you continue to try not to die.  But of course, nothing lasts forever... as death inevitably comes for us all.  No stage ever lasts longer than 30 minutes, as the grim reaper himself always puts an end to your rampage... if only there were a way to cheat death itself...


What does it meeeeeeeeeaaaaannnnn!?!?!?

Oh the secrets... oh the rabbit hole goes deep... The game just keeps throwing more and more hidden things, new gameplay mechanics, new weapons, new... stuff, at you! All the time!  The roguelike elements really start to come into play after your first few runs and you unlock the second stage, as the mechanics really start to snowball wildly out of control...

There are well over 100 weapons and passive items to collect, dozens upon dozens of characters to find and unlock, so many hidden things and surprises.  And so much pointless deep lore! For such a ridiculously simple game, there's a ridiculously huge amount of things to do and see.  You're (usually) limited to only carrying 6 weapons and 6 passive items, so you have to start getting creative with your builds, and as you delve deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, you start to find some utterly broken combinations of items and weapons that can make you nigh-on invincible.  There's an immense satisfaction that comes with developing unstoppable builds, as you start to min-max and game the system to make yourself as broken as possible.

Oh and the music... oh wow, the music.  It has no right being as good as it is! Belieing the cheap & cheerful graphics on display, the music is a tour-de-force of near copyright infringement and genuinely beautiful orchestral soundscape.  Here's a bit of mood whiplash to set the mood for you...



In case you haven't figured it out yet.  The game doesn't exactly take itself seriously.  It's downright hilarious, with some of the most ridiculous Italian puns you'll ever see in a video game, and some riotously funny bestiary descriptions, written by none other than James Stephanie Sterling (Of Jimquisition fame).  Thank God for them, because the descriptions are worth the price of admission alone.



With a ridiculous number of stages, each with their own unique mechanics, literally hundreds of unlockable characters, weapons, items, gameplay features and mechanics, I'm still not done seeing everything this game has to offer... and there's MORE to come!? Oh come on!!!

But still.  I saw the credits.  It counts.

Kirby & The Amazing Mirror



The Legend Of Kirby Four Swords is a GBA game released in 2004.  It pretends to be a four player co-op game, but after the absolutely shambolic play from @Glen-i, @S.C.G and .  @BowserBasher, no.  This is a VS fighting game.

What this game actually IS though, is a four-player Metroidvania game where each player is free to wander off and explore the fully open-world map in any direction they like.  There are 8 bosses with 8 plot souvenirs that need to be collected to unlock the final boss.  You are free to tackle these bosses in any order you like, so long as you can find the copy abilities you need to get to them.  Along the way, there are dozens of treasure chests with all sorts of unlockable goodies to find... with of course, the most important one being...



This is still pretty unique as far as multiplayer games go.  I can't really think of any other multiplayer Metroidvania titles that give each player complete free reign to go off and individually explore the map at their leisure in entierly different directions with zero restrictions in play.  And HAL/Flagship did this on the GBA back in 2004!? Nuts!

Now, in theory, you're supposed to work together to explore the world, open up various paths & shortcuts and pass obstacles that require multiple players to work in harmony... but in reality?


Despite our best efforts to sabotage each other, we somehow overcame the odds and succeeded at bringing an end to Dark Mind's desires within the Mirror Realm.  Twas great fun!

While this game is still tons of fun for one player, it really does shine in multiplayer as was originally intended.  And now with the game being available to play via local wireless and online multiplayer via NSO? It really is a killer app for the service.  A must play with some buds, and still a must play in single player if you have no friends.

Starfox 64



When was the last time I spoke about Starfox 64 in one of these gaming diary threads, it can't be that long ago surel... HOLY CRAP! I'VE NEVER WRITTEN ABOUT THIS GAME BEFORE!?


No!!! Don't look at me... DON'T LOOK AT ME!!!

Well, if you've ever read a single one of my posts on this forum, you've probably figured out that I'm a bit of a fan of the series (I will defend my 9/10 Starfox Zero review to my grave!), and this game is the biggest reason why.  It's one of my favourite games of all time for a damn good reason, and it's because it's a perfectly paced, high-score chasing arcade powerhouse of a game.  I decided to do yet another quick run of the game for the hell of it (and to try out the N64 core on MiSTer), this time across the Easy path (don't find myself running that one as often as Normal/Hard).  What a game! A masterclass of pacing, with just the right peaks & valleys of action to set the mood.  Each stage featuring the perfect silence, followed by the perfect crescendo; knowing exactly when to leap forward towards the player and knowing when to pull back to allow breathing room.  The stages not being mere placid backdrops or relentless bombardment, but encouraging and rewarding experimentation, ducking & weaving with hidden paths, secrets and higher scores.  An endlessly replayable high-score chasing thrill that encourages the player to forever improve their skills.


Though Pepper's army never seems to improve... forever bested by just 4 ships.

Starfox 64 is one of the first games to ever feature full voice acting (and certainly the first to come from Nintendo), and I don't really need to say anything else, because its voice acting is legendary (and for once, for all the right reasons! Not sarcastically!).  Likewise, its presentation is stellar, from the Thunderbirds inspired visuals & characters, to the beautiful music (both bombastic and haunting in equal harmony), to the pitch perfect controls, to the perfectly tuned gameplay.  To the literal introduction of Rumble! Yes! THIS is the game to thank for your modern controllers vibrating your hands off today.  This was a revolutionary title that truely defined what it meant to be a "cinematic" game, before the term became corrupted and warped into meaning a game that plays itself.


Pure chills...


The scoring system is full of endless depth, and it gives the game its endless replayability.  What would be simple and easy to maximise is elevated by one massive addition... the Hit + system.  Shoot down multiple enemies with a single charged shot and you get +1 added onto your score for each additional enemy caught in the blast.  This is the core mechanic that makes the whole scoring system shine, and it makes some utterly ludicrious scores possible... Just to give an idea as to how high the skill ceiling can go with this game.  My best score is somewhere within the 1,500-1,600 range after like 20 years of playing on & off... The current WR is a whopping 3,085!

... and what's even more nuts? The theoretical maximum goes well beyond even this! With the current TAS climbing as high as 4,191!  There is still so much depth yet to be plumbed, and for a high-score focused game like this to still be so untapped? That's basically unheard of outside of the CAVE shooter realm!

Starfox 64 is one of the greatest games Nintendo has ever made.  And it'll probably forever remain the finest moment in Fox McCloud's career.

Mario Party 3 (Story Mode)



This is my favourite Mario Party game, but it's a multiplayer game! So why is it on this list then? Well that's because it just came out on the Switch NSO service... and there are several modes and boards that need to be unlocked by playing through the game's Story Mode.  So with me needing to finish off a fresh file to get it fully ready for multiplayer shenanegans? Yup, it's time to knuckle down and play through this epic tale of love, alliances and... actually no, it's mostly just backstabbing and revenge.

Story Mode involves you playing through every single board (both Battle Royale and Duel) back to back in single player mode against 3 other CPUs.  It is a miserable experience, as you are subjected to endless BS plays on your lonesome, with none of the dynamic fun that comes with playing against other people.  But if you want to unlock the two hidden boards (Waluigi's Island & Backtrack), the Super Hard CPU difficulty and the hidden Game Guy's Room and Mario's Puzzle Party Pro? It has to be done... and on Hard difficulty to boot.  So I had to endure and take one for the team.  Below is an accurate summary of what I had to deal with on my journey...

But fear not! I got my revenge...

... and eventually emerged victorious!

Waluigi's Island, Backtrack and Super Hard CPU difficulty unlocked! My journey's over... wait... what do you mean that Game Guy's Room hasn't been unlocked!? What do you mean that you have to achieve Miracle Star rank in Story Mode to unlock it!?!? ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT I NEED TO PLAY THROUGH STORY MODE ALL OVER AGAIN!?!?!?


... I did it.  I played through Story Mode twice just to unlock Game Guy's Room... Granted I played on Easy difficulty the second time around and with Luigi in order to give me better odds of winning the Duel Boards (He starts with Goomba, probably the best Partner to start with), but considering that achieving Miracle Star requires the player to not only win every board, but achieve S-Rank on every stage (which requires you to win with at least a two star or 3 HP advantage over second place... as difficult as it sounds!), I needed to stack the deck in my favour as best as I could...

... but many hours of torture later and...

... never again!!!

This was torture.  But it is done, and the file is now fully ready for multiplayer fun.  And in the end?


Anyway.  One of the best multiplayer games ever made, and an utterly tortuous single player experience.  But here's some more choice clips taken from my Story Mode adventure to close things out here with...





Castlevania Legends



The one and only 2D Castlevania game I have never played.  A surprise Halloween addition to the Switch NSO library, and a very welcome one, considering the insane prices that it commands on eBay, and the fact that this is the first time it has ever been re-released.  It doesn't exactly hold a stellar reputation, and it was famously written out of the series canon by series producer Koji Igarashi due to it's supposed poor quality.

Well I've played and beaten Haunted Castle.  If I can suffer that travesty of a game, I can get through anything!  There's no way that Castlevania Legends can even be remotely as bad as that tirefire...

... and I was right!


Still looks better than Haunted Castle


Better than Haunted Castle is not exactly glowing praise... or praise of any kind.  But I can't quite bring myself to call Castlevania Legends a bad game.  Developed by KCE Nagoya, a short-lived Konami studio that focused largely on cheap ports and licensed Gameboy titles, Castlevania Legends is their sole original Castlevania credit.  And while it's clearly based on the two Gameboy Castlevania titles that came before? It is their inferior in virtually every respect.  From visuals, to level design, to game feel, to audio, it is a huge step back from Belmont's Revenge in every respect, and I'd argue that The Adventure is the better game too.  It's hard to believe that it came out so late into the Gameboy's lifecycle in 1997, but there ya go.

Outside of the novel inclusion of a female Belmont protagonist, the gameplay setup is pretty standard fare.  You have a whip, you've got the standard assortment of subweapons, and the level design is pretty simplistic from start to finish, bereft of noteworthy setpieces.  The only real wrinkle in place are these seemingly random Trap Rooms that you can fall into, where you're forced to fight a set of enemies before you can escape (You earn nothing from them except a chunk of your healthbar lost, so avoid these as much as possible).


Nothing ventured, everything gained

The only other real wrinkle in play are the Soul Weapons (which are so situational that they're basically completely useless) and the Burning Mode, which a temporary invincibility that is utterly broken and should be spammed liberally against every boss you see.  Otherwise? This is really as vanilla as it gets.  But the level design is just really poor, with awful pacing and infuriating enemy placement that leaves you open to taking basically mandatory damage.

The music is also... strange.  It's not bad by any means, but it often sounds like a Silvagunner remix of other tunes...

Tetris called, it wants its Type C music back


It all contributes to this feeling of this being a Bootleg Castlevania of sorts.  I don't think this game quite deserves its scathing reputation, but it's certainly amongst the lowest tier within the series.  I'm glad I got the chance to play it, but it's certainly not a must-play by any means.

Vampire: Master of Darkness



Speaking of Bootleg Castlevania.  Welcome to Vampire: Master of Darkness! A Game Gear title originally released in 1992 (which later got a port to the European Master System in 1993), developed by SEGA and SIMS.  This is literally SEGA looking at Nintendo's stranglehold on Castlevania exclusivity and saying "We have Castlevania at home!".  It's about as brazen a knockoff as you can get in terms of core gameplay.  But the setting is admittedly pretty unique.

You play as a psychologist called Dr Ferdinand Social (Yes... really, Dr Social... no I am not making this up), who for some reason is really into Ouija boards bigtime and hears about some nasties roaming around the streets of London and killing people in the service of Jack The Ripper and later Count Dracula.  So he does the only sensible thing... and that is pick up his closest baselard sword, head out into the streets of London AND KNIFE EVERY LIVING THING THAT STANDS IN HIS WAY!!!


That'll learn you some psychology!


Aside from the surprisingly non-Engrishy dialogue and Victorian London setting & (slightly incomprehensible) story? This is a Castlevania knockoff through and through.  Knives and axes replace your whip, and your selection of subweapons range from boomerangs, to bombs, to guns, to... throwable fangs? The candles get replaced with floating masks? They at least tried to vary the iconography a bit here, but the core gameplay is vanilla Castlevania, right down to the use of stairs that work in exactly the same manner.


They tried to hide it, they really did


But unlike the real Castlevania games, Master of Darkness doesn't seem to understand the guiding principles that made Konami's series so beloved.  The level design is nonsensical, filled with stop/start pacing, iffy hit detection and enemies literally everywhere across the screen; placed completely haphazardly.  The enemies also don't follow set attack patterns, and can seemingly move however the designers felt like at the time.  In a normal Castlevania game for instance, bats always move in a particular arc, in a particular way.  Here in Master of Darkness though? They might move in a Z shape pattern, they might move in a sine wave (like a Medusa Head), they might just lunge straight in your direction, or they may move up and down in an S shape; who knows?  It's infuriating because the enemies have no consistency to them, and their haphazard placement makes the game an exercise in trial & error attrition.  To make up for this, the designers decided to give the player a crapton of health; allowing you to tank at least a dozen hits before you kick the bucket, while also generously handing out health potions.  They knew that their level & enemy design sucked, so they clearly made this change at the last minute as a band-aid solution.


Clearly the only sensible reason behind the killings, he would know, he's a social dude


Another significant problem is that the game is way too long for a Game Gear portable title... and there is NO SAVE FEATURE of any kind, not even Password saves! Thank Christ I was playing this on my 3DS, where I could put it in Sleep Mode, because it took me a good solid 4-5 hours to finish the game; there's no way that your Game Gear's batteries would've lasted that long!

The bootleg nature of the gameplay also extends to the game's music... which sounds like a bargain basement Shinobi.  Not exactly very gothic, but not offensively bad or anything... kind of like the rest of the game really.

Overall? I think I slightly preferred Castlevania Legends to this one.  It's... ok.  It's not a terrible attempt to rip off Castlevania, but Legends is the better knockoff.

And... we're all caught up! So? How did we do...

On 13/02/2023 at 6:10 PM, Dcubed said:

I guess if I have a resolution to make this year, it's to finally get through at least some of the lengthy RPGs that are stuffing up my backlog.  It was only really around the middle of last year that I managed to get myself playing RPGs again (after being left sick of them for so long), but I finally played through Octopath Traveller and FE Shadows of Valentia at least, and am currently tackling Xenoblade 2 at long last (Probably about 1/3 of the way through thus far).

Of course, there's plenty more still on the back-burner.  Including Bravely Default, Bravely Second, Bravely Default 2, Octopath Traveller 2, Triangle Strategy, Live A Live, Fire Emblem Engage, Fire Emblem Fates Special Edition (Oh God, that's THREE games in one; PLUS DLC!?), Lunar 1 & 2 (Both SEGA CD and PS1 Remake versions!), Fire Emblem Three Houses (Honestly don't really want to play this one...), Final Fantasy 7 Remake (@Glen-i is currently doing the honours for that one right now), Xenoblade 3 (Can't play until I've finished Xenoblade 2 though... that's honestly what's keeping me going with XB2 right now lol), and I'm sure there's a few others I'm forgetting.

These RPGs are all just so damn long though! (Ok, maybe not the Lunar games.  They'll probably come next after I beat XB2 actually!)

Ok.  This... didn't go so well in the end.  At least I'm currently playing through Octopath Traveller 2 though (and in THREEEEEEEE DEEEEEE no less!).  Next update coming... eventually.

And with that?


Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Goldeneye 007
The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Advance Wars 1 Remake
Advance Wars 2 Remake

Metal Slug 3
Lucky & Wild
Let's Go Jungle: Lost in the Isle of Spice
Jurrasic Park: The Lost World (Model 3 Arcade)
Puzzle Bobble 2x
Pokemon Trading Card Game
Vampire Survivors
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Starfox 64
Mario Party 3 Story Mode x2
Castlevania Legends
Vampire: Master of Darkness (Game Gear version)


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8 hours ago, Dcubed said:




This got me good. :D 

I tried playing the Advance Wars collection when it was first released earlier in the year but it didn't hold my attention. I loved it back when I played it on the GBA but it just didn't gel with me this time. I also don't remember it being that difficult. I think this was one of the reasons why I dropped it. I like a challenge in a game but when you spend half an hour on a mission, fail and have to start from scratch it becomes a pain in the butt. Guess I just ned to Git Gud. :p 

Loved reading about your trips to arcade. Man, I miss lightgun games so much. :( 

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11 hours ago, Dcubed said:

do the new stages count as post-game!? Honestly, @Glen-i @RedShell, I have no idea! Help me out here!

No. The DLC does though!


The final boss mentions traveling to new worlds to find a Vampire. According to Poncle, the DLC maps are those new worlds. Which explains why the enemies have a different theming to the base game.


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23 hours ago, Dcubed said:

The music is also... strange.  It's not bad by any means, but it often sounds like a Silvagunner remix of other tunes...

Oh my God, that's the best description you could give to that game's music! :grin:

23 hours ago, Dcubed said:

I'd argue that The Adventure is the better game too

Hey now, no need to get crazy here...

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First post here in a while and it's not quite the post that's going to bring me up-to-date on my Gaming Diary entries for the year, but with GOTY nominees recently released for TGAs and with me having played what I want to of most of this year's AAA offerings for now, I've gone ahead and am set to dive into indies between bigger games - some which were TGA nominees, but a good number of which I've gone out and researched to try and seek out any hidden gems that might have flown under the radar this year. I definitely think that the two I want to spend this post highlighting might grab the attention of some of the folks here, so let's dive in! 


Storyteller | 2023


Storyteller is an indie game developed by Daniel Benmergui and published by Annapurna Interactive in which players piece together characters, settings and panels to form a narrative laid out in the page title, and how these scenes are arranged and order impacts later scenes in the same scenario, which creates an easy to pick-up and charming little puzzle game.




The game is highly stylised with the look of a simple storybook, and some pages come with sub-objectives, such as completing the puzzle without having any characters die, having a character perform a certain action, and so on, which adds welcome depth to the game, and while the game is mostly an easygoing time with its puzzles, some of which feel incredibly satisfying to complete, there were one or two where I certainly found myself a little bit stumped, and felt that page was a bit at odds with the simplicity and craftsmanship of other solutions in the game, but I think those instances were simply down to not having to try out those particular types of solutions up to that point. I did really appreciate that there were multiple ways in which to complete a fair few of the puzzles here - I'm not really a fan of when a puzzle only has one solution, as you can often find yourself banging your head against the wall, but for the most part I thought thse were pretty breezy, and again, very satisfying to solve on some of the more complex pages.

I had good fun with Storyteller, its chilled out vibe and charming art style, and it definitely felt like the type of game you could just pick up for a page or two and come back to; what's more, it's a very tight experience, only taking me a couple of hours to complete every page and sub-objective. There are stamps made available to earn, too, which can be collected by going back through the game if you don't want to let the experience end, but I skipped out on this as I thought its length was just perfect for what it was. I also really enjoyed the occasional use of well-known classical music, too :D 

For those curious about where you can play it, right now Storyteller is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Android and iOS. 


SANABI | 2023


The first game developed by Korea-based studio Wonder Potion and published by Neowiz Games (who recently published Lies of P), SANABI is a story-driven action-platformer set in a dystopian future. Following the re-emergence of the titular terrorist SANABI the entire population of Mago City disappeared in the span of 30 minutes without leaving a trace, and so you fill the pixel-art shoes of a retired veteran soldier pulled back into the mix of things for one last job; with SANABI providing you with a clear motive for seeking vengeance, and your trusty grapple hook chain arm in tow, you'll find yourself blazing towards the centre of an industrial conspiracy. 


I thought this game had some great gameplay ideas, the grapple hook obviously has a long and storied history in gaming, but it being the centre of attention here in momentum-driven swings, zipping around from platform to ceiling to wall, and some short but snappy combat encounters felt awesome. What mixes this up as the game goes on is new platform types, new ways to interact with them, and unlocking new abilities, which leads to moments where you are just zipping through areas, and when this game is flying in these moments where everything is coming together, it feels absolutely incredible.

Unfortunately, there are a few moments where I think the game spikes in difficulty which get in the way of this, and these are typically coupled with less generous checkpoints than the game has been leading you to expect by the time that you get to them - a few times this would be down to wall-/ceiling-zips just not working at the right time for me - and there were a few times where I found myself being buffered along inside of a deadly laser field' you know, the type where you're kind of just stuck bopping around as your health chips away because you're too deep into that terrain to escape.

Some of the gameplay elements introduced later on I also feel could have been introduced quite a bit earlier, as you don't really get a good chance to make full use of them other than the final stretch of the game. 


One thing that I think this game absolutely nails, though, is its boss fights. There are one or two of these which I really just love, and though I don't want to get into them too much, I'm just so happy that they come with such a heavy emphasis on actual platforming during a boss fight in an action-platformer, rather than what I find some other games in the genre do, which is suddenly become an action-lite game. 


I mentioned before that this game was story-driven, and I want to emphasise this fact: this game has more story than any other 2D platformer that I've played. Period. It's not got stages to access from a world map, nor is it a Metroidvania with backtracking, meaning that it is a very linear experience; there are straight-up multiple cutscenes in the game, which are highly effective and very easy on the eye; and there is an overarching narrative and one or two subplots to pay attention to throughout. I think there are a few instances in the game where these cutscenes go on a beat too long, and coupled with a general heightening in difficulty, the middle 20% of this game and probably the penultimate 15% too are really poorly paced, meaning I was definitely ready tp see credits roll by the time they come around.

It's a shame, too, because this game pulls no punches and I think has an extremely well-delivered story and some very interesting characters, it just needed some tightening up in spots for me which I feel would have really allowed the story to shine through even more effectively than it did. There are beats towards the end of this game that, for me, made the moments of struggle worth it, because it was so satisfying to see the attention the folks over at Wonder Potion were paying to so many of their lines of dialogue, and I think the story payoff alone is enough of a reason to pick this game up and see it through to the end. I was left with chills when I realised what a certain object truly represented. 


Would this be a diary entry from me if I didn't mention a game's music? Of course not! And SANABI has one hell of an OST, ranging from cuter and upbeat, innocent pieces to punchy electronic and punding drums which really rubber stamps the oftentimes frenetic nature of this game. Some of my favourite tracks that I could find are the title screen theme, the first boss fight (11/10 and probably my joint favourite - listen to this one!), one of the many Mago City themes, and one of the later boss fights (another 11/10 and my other joint favourite - please listen to this one too!). Wonderful OST that'll definitely have you bobbing your head along to most of its songs. 

The other thing to highlight - which hopefully I've been doing a decent job at in this post - is the game's atmosphere and style. Every pixel is perfectly placed when it comes to this game's look, and whether it be the bright neon lights of Mago City or the powdery orange hue of a single bulb, this game has some excellent framing and cinematography which really heightens its appeal for me. There are also several times throughout the game where the developer toys with colour-graded looks, and I found that they worked really effectively for the scenes that they were used for. The world feels surprisingly fleshed out, as do its characters, and so when you throw some really solid sound design into the mix, too, this game just finds itself dripping neon and grunge in all the best ways. 





Despite some worrying pacing for a few stretches of its story and a handful of frustrating gameplay moments littered throughout the game, SANABI lives up to its style and narrative with some excellent ideas shown off in its mechanics, fun level design, great bosses, interesting characters, and awesome music. There is room for improvement, though, and so I seriously hope that this game gets a sequel/successor, because its base mechanics, story, world and characters all more than deserve it. 

If you're wondering where you can play this, SANABI is currently available on Nintendo Switch and PC.


  1. Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (2012) - completed 5th February
  2. ?????????? + ??? ??? ??????? - completed 19th April
  3. ?????? ????? ?? ?????????? - completed 26th April
  4. ???? ???? ????: ???????? - completed 8th May
  5. ????? ??????? ??? - completed 2nd September
  6. ??????? ???? ?? - completed 20th September
  7. ??????-??? + ??? ???? ???? ????? ?????? - completed 6th October
  8. ??? ?????: ???? - completed 12th October 
  9. ??????-???: ????? ??????? - completed 18th October
  10. ??????-??? ? - completed 23rd October
  11. ??????: ???? ? ?????? - completed 15th November
  12. Storyteller (2023) - completed 19th November
  13. SANABI (2023) - completed 21st November


Edited by Julius
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39 minutes ago, Julius said:

which creates an easy to pick-up and charming little puzzle game


39 minutes ago, Julius said:



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I finished Double Dragon Gaiden yesterday.


To be honest, I wasn't that keen on it when I first played it. The character movement felt stiff, some of the moves seemed a bit iffy and I didn't care much for the currency system that was in place. Once I got my head around some of these things, as well as getting used to the movement, I ended up really enjoying it.

At the start of the game you have to pick one of the 4 characters that are available to be your main and another to be your secondary, which you can swap with at any time with the press of a button. Jimmy and Billy, the two protagonists of the series, are obviously here but so are a couple of others. Marian and Uncle Matin. I'm not sure if the latter has appeared in other games before but Marian certainly has. The once helpless damsel in distress has been given a makeover and she now helps the guys fight crime. She's actually one of the most OP characters in the game. 

Yeah, you don't want to mess with Marian

After selecting your character you then have the option of 4 stages and this where where things get interesting. The order of the levels you pick will decide the difficulty and length of each of the stages. For example, if I picked the Royals area first and the Triangles area last, this would mean that the final boss of the Royals area would be very simple but the Triangles boss would be significantly harder and have different attacks/forms to their easier counterpart. Once you've been through the game a few times you will get a feel for which bosses you would prefer to face earlier in the game and which you would want to leave until the end. The same goes for the stages. Some of them can be pretty tough if left until the backend of the adventure and so you could play these first in order to miss out the harder areas.

Choose your path wisely

Throughout the levels you will be rewarded with cash. At the end of each level you will have the opportunity to spend this on upgrades. You get a selection of randomly picked power ups for you to spend your earnings on. Some I found very useful, such as an increase in health or halving the cost of SP when doing a special move. There are other things to buy such as trading your cash for tokens that will unlock extras (art, music secret characters) or you can even skip buying an upgrade and just get $500 added to your balance. The reason you would do this is because at the end of the game all of your money that you earned will translate into tokens to spend. This is where another system comes into play.

What upgrade will you pick?

Before you start the game you can apply difficulty modifiers. Making the game easier will allow you to sail through the adventure but you will have a very little pay out at the end. However, if you increase the difficulty sliders you will rake in the cash. The difficulty dictates the exchange rate of the money at the end of the game. Lets say that you go for an easy playthrough of the game. This will mean it will cost more of your money to earn a single token, whereas playing it with the difficulty sliders on the more difficult end of the scale will mean you get a lot more tokens for the same amount of cash. It's a great way for the player to customise their own experience. The settings that can be altered are things like the cost of reviving the second player, how aggressive enemies are, how much HP they have and how much health your own character will have.

The loading screen has a nice retro touch

The gameplay itself is really fun, at least once you get to grips with it. I think the main issue I had was due to me playing the likes of Streets of Rage 4 and Shredder's Revenge in recent years. These felt a lot more fluid and snappier than this but then Double Dragon was always a bit clunky. There is an upgrade you can buy which raises the characters speed and this helps tremendously in making it feel a bit faster. Combat wise it's your standard punch, kick and special move to victory that appears in games of this genre but this one has a nice twist to it. While food/energy pick ups do appear in random boxes, they can be few and far between. In order to alleviate this, you can do what is known as Crowd Control. This is when you manage to eliminate 3 enemies or more at once. If you do this then the game will drop down some food for you. If you manage to pull off wiping out 5 enemies or more then the game will drop a turkey which fills your whole health bar. I loved this mechanic and found it very useful when in a tight situation. Usually I would group enemies together and then unleash a special move. This would be enough to get the health pick up I was after, especially if using Marian's rocket launcher.

Going for the highest Crowd Control combo will give the best results

The last surprise the game throws at you I will put in spoilers.


After you complete the final area you will see the mayor. He offers you $10,000 to stop your adventure and join his side. If you accept this you will get the amount he promised added to your balance, which in turn will translate into more tokens for unlockables. However, if you refuse his offer you will then have another stage to play and get the opportunity to face off against another boss and see the true ending. It's quite a clever thing to put in and I was happily surprised by it.

So after not really feeling it at first, the game did win me over pretty quickly and I ended up playing through it 7 times in order to unlock everything I wanted. Once I got my head around what characters to use, what difficulty sliders to play on and and what upgrades to pick, I made pretty short work of the bosses. There is a lot of replay value on offer here. Music, art and characters to unlock, different parts of the levels to see, different stages of boss fights to uncover depending on when you face them...the list goes on. While I still prefer games like Shredder's Revenge and Streets of Rage 4, I think this game is up there with them purely because of the unique twist they put on the genre. The game is usually £20 and I can certainly recommend it for that price.


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Last time, I mentioned a few games I had started and immediately dropped. I won't be doing that often, as that was a byproduct of trying out a few significant NSO titles at once. I won't necessarily give my quick thoughts on why I dropped the likes of Yoshi or Burger Time :heh:

So I will stick to significant updates.

A.K.A. Block Block


Another game I got on the cheap for Capcom 2nd Stadium. This one turned out to be much better than Pnickles.

It's a series of 48 levels of pure Arkanoid in a somewhat wacky fashion (wackanoid, if you will). There's power-ups, crazy layouts for the bricks, and even the paddle has health, to motivate you to finish these levels faster.

Unfortunately, some of the later levels are too wacky, with the ball ricocheting so fast in directions you can't possibly predict. Just in case you forgot this was a coin muncher. The bright side is, no game over, just insert another coin.

It's a well made game, but even the best of arkanoids only gets 3 stars from me. Well, the best arkanoid so far, at least.

Mega Man: The Power Battle



Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters


The last games I had on the 2nd Stadium, and likely the last I'll ever purchase for that collection). I saved the best for last because... well... I've wanted to play Power Battle (PB) and Power Fighters (PF) ever since I was a teenager.

Seriously. In the early-to-mid 2000s, at the height of my personal Megaman fandom, there were these high-quality sprites circulating around, being used for webcomics and stuff, and I just wondered where they came from. Then I found out about the Arcade games from mmhp.net (virtually unchanged from the past 20 years!) and all was clear... Except I couldn't play them! They were included on a pretty cool collection for the GCN/PS2 that never came out in Europe, and that was it for a long time... until the 2nd Stadium!

So, these are actually Boss Rush kind of games. Wily revived a bunch of his old Robot Masters and Megaman goes fight them directly for a change. No stages to traverse, just drop on top of them and fight. You even gain their traditional weapons when you defeat them (Curiously, in this setup without platforms, I'd consider the game to be a Shoot'em up, like Contra, even though Megaman plays as he always has). Then go to Wily Castle and fight a couple more bosses to win the game. Fairly simple premise, not too hard to pull off and reach the end, especially if you play in Co-op mode.

And there's a bunch of cool stuff! You can play as Bass or Protoman as well (they're identical to Megaman, with some tweaks to their dashes and bullet size), and in PF, you can also select Duo (from MM8) who plays a bit differently, with heavier movement and close range punches. You can also choose your route, which determines which bosses you face (PB divides them according to game of origin, while PF mixes them up a bit more), and in PF, it also determines which mid-game permanent power-up you'll get.

And, and the Robot ReMasters look fantastic! Not only do they get updated visuals and new animations full of character (Plant Man is so dainty!), their fights feel very fresh, despite being based off their original appearance. Wood Man now has an attack where he rolls around, Stone Man now summons walls, Pharaoh Man teleports around, and Shadow Man rides on a freaking ninja frog! In PF specifically, they all learned how to block too (like in a fighting game), and they might have a second half of the fight where they change their strategy.

And, and, and the music is great! Like, it's all remixes, but they're really good remixes in the familiar Capcom 90s style, and in PF they're almost all attributed to the right Robot Masters for a good dose of nostalgia (though PB seems to have randomized them for some reason). Even the Ghosts 'n Goblins tune made it into Shade Man's stage!

And, and, and, and even though the character endings in PB are somewhat basic, in PF they actually do cool things with the lore! There's an implication that Protoman is slowly dying, that Bass was made from alien materials, there's a direct reference to the MMX series, and there's an ending for each potential co-op pairing, it's way cooler than I expected.

Finally, the difficulty curve is actually pretty well done. The first Robot Masters you face have very low health, but the later ones are really sturdy, even changing their patterns and strategies, but at least then you certainly have access to the weapon they're weak to. So you can define your strategy as you please, either dispatching the hard bosses right away, or collecting their weakness first to take care of them mid-run.

That's enough gushing. I really liked these games, it's the smoothest that Megaman has ever felt, it's a healthy injection of nostalgia, and the teenager in me feels absolutely satisfied. Power Battle alone deserves 4 stars, but Power Fighters is such a polished sequel that I'm ready to give it 5 stars.

Oh, and did you know that Megaman's uppercut debuted in Power Fighters, instead of Marvel vs. Capcom? I had no idea before playing this! And Bass has Guile's Flash Kick, and, and, and....

Shadow of the Ninja


The good thing about trying a bunch of NSO games is that you occasionally run into small gems.

Now, Shadow of the Ninja is just ok. It feels like a more agile (and more slippery) Ninja Gaiden, which is fine for the era. There's badly thought-out moments (like enemies that feel impossible to hurt at times), but the game feels good and is quite fun to play. Plus, the difficulty never really reaches the excessive frustration of Ninja Gaiden.

The main flaw is that there's no password system, or any way to save your game. Worse yet, there's next to no extra lives throughout the entire game! I'm sure that last one was a likely death knell for this game, because the extra lives always leave the impression that your extra chances matter, and that victory for this short game is just around the corner, but Shadow of the Ninja does not give you that hope. Thankfully, the NSO save states do.

And hey, the music is actually pretty good. 3 stars

Mario Kart: Super Circuit


Finally, I noticed there was only one GBA game on NSO that I hadn't considered "properly played" yet. So let's cross that system off my list.

I actually first played this at the age of 10-11 in recess. Some kid had it, I tried it out. It was fun. Now that I'm a full man, I figured the game would be pretty direct, but... uh...

It's really weird! Whenever I try to slide, my kart slides off way too much to the side, and if I try doing it a bit before the curve, there's a good chance it'll turn too much and the kart just skiddles on itself. It's really pleasant to control, but so hard to get right.

I didn't feel any of the famous rubber-banding, and Blue Shells are incredibly rare, so it definitely felt like a more fair racer than others in the franchise. I was down to face it like that, but... somehow, Mario Kart finds a way to make you pull your hair: stage hazards are awful! They're so punishing, and so easy to run into. Don't even get me started on that one curve that sends you back on the track if you slide too much, that shit is plain evil.

And why is weight so worthless? Why is DK or Bowser so easily bullied by Toad or Luigi? Why is that coin dependant? Why is speed so OP in this game? And why do the racers speak in such annoying voices every time they pass you by? I SWEAR TO GOD, IF PEACH SAYS "HERE WE GO"AGAIN, I'LL-


The game looks absolutely gorgeous for a GBA game, and it's fun to control, but it's definitely not my type. Despite this, I persevered enough to beat Rainbow Road in 150cc, so it was doing something right. 2 stars

  My 2023 log (Hide contents)

-Mega Man V (1994) Beat

-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon [Game Boy] (1997) Dropped

-Super Bomberman R (2017) Beat

-Samurai Shodown Neogeo Collection (2020) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown (1993) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown II (1994) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown III (1995) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown IV (1996) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown V (2003) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown V Special (2004) No Goal

-Samurai Shodown V Perfect (2020) No Goal

-The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog (2023) Completed

-Mechstermination Force (2019) Beat

-F-Zero 99 (2023) No Goal

-F-Zero (1990) Beat

-Fallblox (2012) Beat

-Pnickles (1995) Dropped

-Streets of Rage 2 (1992) Beat

-The Horror of Salazar House (2020) Completed

-Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (2005) Completed

-Flicky (1984) No Goal

-Castlevania Legends (1997) Beat

-Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001) Beat

-Shadow of the Ninja (1990) Completed

-A.K.A. Block Block (1991) Completed

-Mega Man: The Power Battle (1995) Completed

-Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters (1996) Completed

With that, I can cross off both the Capcom 2nd Stadium, and the GBA NSO, off my backlog! Nothing stops me from revisiting any of the games there, I simply reached a couple of small milestones.

Edited by Jonnas
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5 hours ago, Jonnas said:


It's really weird! Whenever I try to slide, my kart slides off way too much to the side, and if I try doing it a bit before the curve, there's a good chance it'll turn too much and the kart just skiddles on itself. It's really pleasant to control, but so hard to get right.


Yeah, I have this issue when I try and go back to both the original and GBA versions of the game. They both handle so differently to the newer games, so much so that I very rarely go back to them. Shame, as I loved them both when I was younger.

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The two Mega Man arcade games kick arse.  One of the rare few games that transitioned successfully from home console to arcade (I'm looking at YOU Castlevania and Silent Hill!); and really, it's such a simple concept.  Take various bosses from the main series and chuck them into a boss rush.  Done.

But it's the polished game feel, mechanics and presentation that makes it all work.  And the pacing is perfect, just the right running time for an arcade game, but with plenty of replay value.  And a fun scoring system too that encourages repeated speedrunning.   Boss.

Edited by Dcubed
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14 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Oh, and did you know that Megaman's uppercut debuted in Power Fighters, instead of Marvel vs. Capcom?

I knew this. It's called "Mega Upper".


Seriously, the tips section in Smash Ultimate will teach you stuff!

14 hours ago, Jonnas said:

And why is weight so worthless? Why is DK or Bowser so easily bullied by Toad or Luigi? Why is that coin dependant? Why is speed so OP in this game?

Oh boy! Mario Kart: Super Circuit! What a weird game! Not even made by Nintendo!

OK, so get this. Yoshi's the best character. Not a matter of opinion. Yoshi is factually the best.


Those stars mean nothing

It's because every character can reach the top speed in this game. What this means is that characters with higher accelaration will go faster because they reach top speed quicker. They also have better handling and slow down less when off-road. The heavy characters have higher weight (Useless because of the coin mechanic), and slide less on slippery tracks (woo...).

But wouldn't that mean Peach and Toad are better then Yoshi, because they're lighter? Well, no. Yoshi has better handling for some unknown reason. The developers actually acknowledge this, because using Yoshi in Grand Prix gets you no extra Skill Points.

"What are Skill Points?" I'm glad I asked! So Super Circuit is the first Mario Kart to utilise a ranking system. The highest rank is 3 stars, and you need to win all 4 races and get 36 points to have a chance to get a 3 star rank. Yes, a chance. I'm sure you've had a Grand Prix where you won every race, and only managed one star. Skill Points is why you failed to get that rank.


Perfect isn't good enough, mate!

Skill Points are invisible stat trackers that determine your ranking. All sorts of actions either add or subtract Skill Points, so if you know how it works, you'll make getting those rankings way easier.


In order to get a 3 star rank, you need to get a total of 330 Skill Points during a Grand Prix, you also need to come in first in all 4 races.

The character you choose can give you bonus points. Bowser gives 45, Wario/DK give 40, Mario/Luigi give 30, Peach/Toad give 10, and Yoshi gives you none. Despite this, I still recommend picking Yoshi. His sheer greatness will make up for the point loss.

  • For every 4 frames you spend off-road, you lose one point
  • For every 4 frames you spend not holding accelerate, you lose one point
  • Every frame you spend applying the brake loses you 2 points
  • Any time you use Triple Red Shells, you lose 5 points
  • Any time you use Lightning, you lose 5 points
  • Any time you use a Star, you lose 30 points
  • Any time you hit another racer with an item, you lose 15 points (Yes, really)
  • Each time you bump into a wall, you lose 20 points
  • Each time you spin out, you lose 15 points
  • Every time Lakitu has to place you back on the track, you lose 30 points.
  • If you restart a race, you lose 120 points

That's a lot of ways to lose points! Thankfully, there's loads of ways to increase points!

  • Simply completing each track gets you points. The amount varies depending on the actual course
  • Nailing the rocket start at the start of a race gets you 25 points
  • If you succeed in performing the rocket start when Lakitu places you back on the track, you get 25 points (You still lose 30 points from falling off in the first place, so best not)
  • Every coin you have at the end of a race gets you 4 points (!!!)
  • Every time you drive through an item box while an item already occupies your item slot, you get 15 points (Holding an item behind you doesn't count)
  • If you're hit by the Lightning item, you get 40 points. Yes, getting hit by Lightning is generally good
  • Completing a race under a set time also gets you points. It varies depending on the course
  • You also get points based on what cc you choose (50cc = 167 points, 100cc = 157, and 150cc = 143

So the best way to 3 star the game is to drive well, never use items, and get loads of coins. This is easier then it sounds with Yoshi.

Edited by Glen-i
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I remember back when the game first came out and reading all the 3 star rank theories being thrown about on places like Gamefaqs. Good times.

It's such a convoluted system. I much prefer the simplicity of a system where you win every race and you will get the highest rank.

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Finished Metroid Zero Mission today.  Been playing it at work on my GBASP during my lunch breaks for the last week or so.

Never played it before but heard good things about it. I really enjoyed it, solid graphics, incredible music and challenging bosses. Loved the zero suit level at the end.

I Decided to play this as I bought Metroid Dread the other week for Christmas among other games and thought best to have recently played a 2D metroid game beforehand

Got an everdrive for my GBA so if anyone has any recommendations for my next lunch break game, let me know.


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Just completed my yearly play of Link's Awakening on Switch. 

It really is possibly my favourite Zelda game, whether that just nostalgia of it being my first Zelda game back on the GB or something else I don't know. I just know I love the game. The Switch version is just beautiful to look at and a joy to play.

Playing back now it seems to much easier than it did back then. I remember getting so stuck on a few dungeons especially the Eagle's Tower, that damn wrecking ball. Turtle Rock seemed huge and scary to navigate, But now, I can zip through the first three dungeons no issues (I'm sure everyone can), I remember the trading sequence off by heart now and for the first time I actually got the three upgrades for the items this time round. I know I usually always get one of them, but managed to find all three this time. 

I set out to get as much as possible in hearts and the seashells, I ended up getting exactly 40 seashells for the sword upgrade and ended on 27/32 heart pieces. Did the colour dungeon to get the Blue Tunic which just makes things a hundred times easier and ad in the cream stuff that doubles your hearts effectively and you feel invincible.

climbed the mountain to wake the Wind Fish today. I've always loved the end fight, going through the different forms and trying to remember what needs to be used on each, once agin no issues remembering what to do. And of course ended with my favourite part, the long armed eyeball guy. Jump shoot, jump shoot shoot, since and repeat.

I heard the flashing and thought I was nearly done, but then remembered I still had the cream to go through, so no worries about dying at all.


The Nightmares are defeated, the wind wish awakens and I have pretty much murdered an entire island of inhabitants.

I do love doing this though

Untill next time when I think I'll have to go for all seashells and heart pieces. Possibly all the Nintendo collectable figures too.

Edited by BowserBasher
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Great read, @BowserBasher.

I get a bit like this when playing ALTTP. I can blitz through the game quite quickly now but as a youngster it took me a while. I felt the game was massive but looking at it now it's actually quite small in comparison to what we have now.

Yup, I'm another one who struggled with Eagle's Tower. I remember it well because I was on holiday at Blackpool and I for the life of me couldn't figure out how to lower the tower. My parents wanted to go for a walk but I just stayed in the flat because I was determined to figure out how to solve this puzzle. :p

It's a shame I never got on with the remake. I loved the visual style of it but I actually prefer the original. Playing it on the Switch also highlighted how tedious I found the trading sequence.

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