Super Castlevania IV, SNES (relay, 1 hour and 10 minutes).
All in all, I would say this one is arguably the easiest game out of the side-scrolling platforming action-type Castlevanias. Especially being able to get fully powered up with full hearts and III Cross Boomerang makes the Dracula fight a breeze. Plenty of stages have mini drumsticks of chicken hiding in candles for a bit of respite. The versatility of being able to whip in 8 directions really allows you to clean up those pesky medusa heads, ballroom dancers, or that axe armor pacing back and forth on the floor above you. Definitely one of my most favorite soundtracks in the series.
I have this (and Advent) on DS but never finished it. At first I wondered why, but that quickly became apparent. ZX is simply not as good as the Zero games. This does feel like an expanded take on the original Zero more than anything in that it's back to having selectable missions and an interconnected environment but sadly in a way that makes traversal mildly annoying and way too complicated.
It's hypothetically exciting to unlock transformations into the four Guardians from the original game, but this is a very undercooked element. Harpuia's is the only one that is actually useful as you get an air dash and hover. Leviathan's is only useful in water and even then only for superficial reasons. Fefnir's is only good for exploiting element weaknesses and Phantom's is entirely useless. It's a significantly less interesting system than EX Skills since you're entirely limited to regular slash attacks and regular projectiles with no variety. I basically played the entire game as Harpuia as there's very little reason not to.
I also need to mention how awful and laborious the process for getting two of the subtanks. One of them is simply a repetitive process that took me 35 minutes. The other is outright hateful, and took me 40 minutes on the timer which doesn't include the dozens of deaths it took. I only enabled checkpoints for this one part as I think doing it as originally designed would drive someone insane.
The only thing that saves ZX from being a complete waste is that the gameplay is still generally solid. It is easier than the Zero games, but I would say that the hardest parts are harder than anything in Zero. Part of the ease is that there's no concept of rank at all so you're totally free to take your time, get damaged and avoid enemies. However, this had the consequence of allowing for some annoying areas that wouldn't be fair with Zero's ranking system. The replacement for rank is a victory level based on avoiding attacking the boss's weakest point. Attacking it all damages the transformation granting Biometal you receive which then needs to be repaired in order to get the full weapon gauge. It is very expensive to repair Biometals so it is imperative to leave them undamaged. I managed to do so for every boss except the two fire ones as their weak point is very difficult to avoid.
Overall, still a decent game but with some significant flaws. It isn't as bad with a guide as you avoid some of the stumbling around that comes with the occasionally poor directions. The cutscenes are also significantly better looking than I expected. They seem to have originally been made in an HD-esque resolution rather than upscaled.
Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder (Arcade, first time, Time taken: 59 minutes - Mame timer)
Honestly not that hard. Difficulty is progressive and power ups are plentiful, being able to change characters is also nice. Sprite work is amazing, sound is great in places.
Postal (PC - Steam, first time, Time Taken: 3hr 40 minutes steam timer)
Completed with both add on packs (Super Postal and Special Delivery). I wanted to explore everything and get as close to 100% on each level as I could. I really enjoyed this. The game for me is a 7.5, but I've rounded it up to 8.
Last Edit: Apr 3, 2020 11:08:24 GMT -5 by alexmate
Super Robot Wars Masou Kishin - The Elemental Lords (SNES) - first time
I never had any interest in the mainline SRW series before, and I'm not even into mecha, but I was intrigued about this game because it's a gaiden that only features original characters rather than a crossover, and the gameplay and visual style is different (isometric view and so on). It's really good. Wrote a whole review here if anyone cares.
alexmate - Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder (Arcade, First Time, 59m timer/1h ref, 8.0/10) alexmate - Left 4 Dead (Windows, First Time, 7h 42m timer/7h ref, 8.0/10) alexmate - Left 4 Dead: Dead Air (Windows, First Time, 30m ref) alexmate - Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice (Windows, First Time, 2h ref) alexmate - Limbo (Windows, First Time, 3h 40m timer/3h 30m ref, 8.0/10) alexmate - one night, hot springs (Windows, First Time, 31m timer/28m ref, 7.0/10) alexmate - Painkiller: Black Edition (Windows, First Time, 8h est/10h ref, 7.0/10) alexmate - Postal (Windows, First Time, 3h 40m timer/2h 30m ref, 8.0/10) alexmate - Postal: Special Delivery (Windows, First Time, 30m ref, 8.0/10) Digitalnametag - Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout (PlayStation 4, First Time, 36h est/25h ref) Digitalnametag - Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PlayStation 4, First Time, 37h est/30h 30m ref) Digitalnametag - Legend of Zelda, The: A Link to the Past (SNES, Replay, 8h est/15h 30m ref) Digitalnametag - Mega Man X (SNES, Replay, 2h est/3h 30m ref) Digitalnametag - Mega Man Zero (PlayStation 4, Replay, 4h est/3h ref) Digitalnametag - Mega Man Zero 2 (PlayStation 4, Replay, 4h est/3h ref) Digitalnametag - Mega Man Zero 3 (PlayStation 4, Replay, 4h est/2h 30m ref) Digitalnametag - Mega Man Zero 4 (PlayStation 4, Replay, 5h est/2h 30m ref) Digitalnametag - Super Castlevania IV (SNES, First Time, 5h est/4h ref) dsparil - Again: Interactive Crime Novel (DS, First Time, 7h 35m 36s timer/10h 30m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Agatha Knife (Switch, First Time, 4h ref, 6.5/10) dsparil - AI: The Somnium Files (Switch, First Time, 21h 6m 36s timer/24h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Another Code: R — A Journey into Lost Memories (Wii, First Time, 11h 37m 6s timer/16h 30m ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Assassin's Creed III Remastered (Switch, First Time, 20h 15m timer/16h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (Switch, First Time, 5h 26m 15s timer/5h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Assassin's Creed Liberation Remastered (Switch, First Time, 22h 48m 31s timer/8h 30m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Caged Garden Cock Robin, The (Switch, First Time, 3h 30m est/5h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS, Replay, 10h 22m 36s timer/11h ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS, First Time, 8h 14m 2s timer/10h ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - Demon's Crest (SNES/Switch, Replay, 4h ref, 6.0/10) dsparil - Dogurai (Switch, First Time, 30m ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Final Fantasy X (Switch, First Time, 35h 5m 20s timer/48h ref, 6.0/10) dsparil - Get Out Kids, The (macOS, First Time, 1h 25m timer/1h ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS, Replay, 15h 30m ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - Last Window: The Secret of Cape West (DS, First Time, 12h 51m timer/14h ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - MechaNika (Switch, First Time, 2h 30m ref, 6.0/10) dsparil - Mega Man Zero (Switch, Replay, 1h 9m 53s timer/3h ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - Mega Man Zero 2 (Switch, Replay, 1h 24m 47s timer/3h ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Mega Man Zero 3 (Switch, Replay, 2h 9m 47s timer/2h 30m ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Mega Man Zero 4 (Switch, Replay, 2h 51m 30s timer/2h 30m ref, 9.0/10) dsparil - Mega Man ZX (Switch, First Time, 6h 45m 40s timer/8h 30m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Monster Tale (DS, First Time, 7h 34m timer/7h ref, 4.0/10) dsparil - Mutazione (macOS, First Time, 5h ref, 4.0/10) dsparil - Oceanhorn 2 (macOS, First Time, 9h 45m 2s timer/12h 30m ref, 4.0/10) dsparil - Pikuniku (Switch, First Time, 3h ref, 6.0/10) dsparil - Planet RIX-13 (Switch, First Time, 27m timer/50m ref, 4.0/10) dsparil - Prison Princess (Switch, First Time, 3h 50m timer/3h 30m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Rygar (NES, First Time, 2h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Sayonara Wild Hearts (macOS, First Time, 1h est/1h 30m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Shinsekai Into the Depths (macOS, First Time, 9h 57m 39s timer/10h ref, 10.0/10) dsparil - Sinless (Switch, First Time, 2h ref, 1.0/10) dsparil - Sneaky Sasquatch (macOS, First Time, 4h 12m timer/4h ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Sorry, James (Switch, First Time, 3h 30m est/3h ref, 5.0/10) dsparil - Squidlit (Switch, First Time, 40m timer/34m ref, 7.0/10) dsparil - Star Fox 2 (SNES/Switch, First Time, 43m ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Tangle Tower (macOS, First Time, 5h 30m ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Tower of Beatrice, The (Switch, First Time, 1h ref, 8.0/10) dsparil - Trace Memory (DS, Replay, 3h 25m 6s timer/5h ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Apotheon (PlayStation 4, First Time, 18h est/8h 30m ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Cosmology of Kyoto (Windows, First Time, 6h ref, 7.0/10) JoeQ - DmC: Devil May Cry (PlayStation 4, First Time, 44h 38m 13s timer/9h ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - DmC: Devil May Cry — Vergil's Downfall (PlayStation 4, First Time, 11h 35m 21s timer/2h ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Dungeon of Zolthan (Windows, First Time, 1h 5m 14s timer/58m ref, 7.0/10) JoeQ - Flat Kingdom Paper's Cut Edition (Windows, First Time, 8h 20m 55s timer/4h 30m ref, 7.0/10) JoeQ - Half-Life (Windows, Replay, 20h est/12h ref, 9.0/10) JoeQ - Half-Life: Blue Shift (Windows, Replay, 3h est/3h ref, 7.0/10) JoeQ - Half-Life: Opposing Force (Windows, Replay, 6h est/5h ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Last Eichhof, The (Windows, First Time, 30m est/22m ref, 6.0/10) JoeQ - Mario Golf: Advance Tour (GBA, First Time, 20h est/10h ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Vantage Master Online (Windows, First Time, 26h 21m ref, 8.0/10) JoeQ - Zookeeper (DS, First Time, 5h 30m ref, 7.0/10) Null0x00 - Doom 3 (Windows, Replay, 9h est/11h ref, 6.0/10) Null0x00 - Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (Windows, First Time, 4h est/4h ref, 7.0/10) Null0x00 - Final Doom: The Plutonia Experiment (Windows, First Time, 5h 10m timer/6h 30m ref, 8.0/10) Null0x00 - NiGHTS Into Dreams... (Saturn, Replay, 3h 30m est/2h 30m ref, 8.0/10) Null0x00 - Rise of the Triad: Dark War (DOS, First Time, 8h est/8h ref, 8.0/10) Null0x00 - Star Wars: Dark Forces (DOS, First Time, 8h est/9h ref, 8.0/10) paperchema - Darkness, The (Xbox One, First Time, 10h est/9h 30m ref, 7.5/10) paperchema - Titanfall 2 (Xbox One, First Time, 8h est/6h ref, 9.5/10) ResidentTsundere - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox 360, First Time, 9h est/7h ref) Snake - 1942 (NES, First Time, 4h est/2h ref, 3.0/10) Snake - Astyanax (NES, First Time, 1h est/1h ref, 6.5/10) Snake - Castlevania (NES, Replay, 40m est/3h ref, 8.0/10) Snake - Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (NES, Replay, 1h 10m est/4h ref, 9.0/10) Snake - Dragon Ball 3: Goku-den (NES, Replay, 12h est/7h 15m ref, 7.0/10) Snake - Dragon Quest (SNES, First Time, 9h est/10h ref, 5.0/10) Snake - Dragon Warrior (NES, Replay, 20h est/10h ref, 4.0/10) Snake - Legend of Zelda, The (NES, Replay, 2h 30m est/8h 30m ref, 8.0/10) Snake - Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (Game Boy, Replay, 2h est/2h ref, 6.0/10) Snake - Mega Man II (Game Boy, First Time, 1h est/1h ref, 6.0/10) Snake - Ninja Gaiden (NES, Replay, 20m timer/2h 30m ref) Snake - Salamander (PC-Engine, First Time, 30m est/30m ref, 5.0/10) Snake - Sonic CD (Sega CD, First Time, 2h est/2h ref, 6.0/10) Snake - Super Castlevania IV (SNES, Replay, 1h 10m timer/4h ref, 8.8/10) Snake - Ys III: Wanders From Ys (TurboGrafx-CD, First Time, 3h est/7h ref, 7.0/10) Son of Suzy Creamcheese - Back to Saturn X Episode 2: Fountain in the Tower of Sparks (Windows, First Time, 18h 50m timer/7h ref, 9.0/10) Son of Suzy Creamcheese - Bionic Commando (NES, First Time, 2h 20m timer/2h 30m ref, 8.0/10) Son of Suzy Creamcheese - Pokémon Shield (Switch, Replay, 19h 30m timer/25h ref) Son of Suzy Creamcheese - Super Mario Bros. (NES, Replay, 35m timer/2h ref, 10.0/10) toei - Devastator (Sega CD, Replay, 1h ref) toei - Earnest Evans (Genesis, First Time, 47m ref) toei - El Viento (Genesis, First Time, 1h ref) toei - ESWAT: City Under Seige (Genesis, Replay, 1h 30m ref) toei - GG Aleste (Game Gear, First Time, 37m ref) toei - GG Aleste 2 (Game Gear, First Time, 1h 24m ref) toei - Kenyuu Densetsu Yaiba (Game Gear, First Time, 30m ref) toei - Moldorian (Game Gear, First Time, 20h 9m ref) toei - Super Buster Bros. (SNES, First Time, 2h ref) toei - Super Robot Wars Gaiden: Masoukishin — The Elemental Lords (SNES, First Time, 23h 9m ref) toei - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy, First Time, 26m ref) toei - Tempo Jr. (Game Gear, First Time, 2h 30m ref) toei - Verytex (Game Gear, First Time, 38m ref) Woody Alien - Carpe Diem (Windows, Replay, 20m timer/15m ref, 8.0/10) Woody Alien - Carpe Diem: Reboot (Windows, First Time, 8h est/4h 30m ref, 6.0/10) Woody Alien - Cthulhu Saves Christmas (Windows, First Time, 11h est/6h ref, 6.5/10) Woody Alien - DogolraX (Windows, First Time, 2h est/1h 30m ref, 5.5/10) Woody Alien - one night, hot spring (Windows, First Time, 30m timer/28m ref, 7.0/10) Woody Alien - Pikuniku (Windows, First Time, 4h est/3h ref, 7.0/10) Woody Alien - Super Panda Adventures (Windows, First Time, 9h est/8h 30m ref, 8.5/10) X-pert74 - GRIS (Windows, First Time, 3h 42m timer/3h 30m ref) ZenithianHero - Bulb Boy (Switch, First Time, 2h est/2h ref, 7.0/10) ZenithianHero - Pan-Pan (Switch, First Time, 2h est/2h ref, 8.0/10) ZenithianHero - Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch, First Time, 15h est/9h 30m ref, 6.0/10) ZenithianHero - Yoku's Island Express (PlayStation 4, First Time, 10h est/5h 30m ref, 9.0/10) zerker - Ape Out (Switch, First Time, 2h 30m est/2h ref, 8.0/10) zerker - Astroneer (Linux, First Time, 66h est/17h ref, 9.0/10) zerker - Bomb Squad Academy (Linux, First Time, 1h 11m timer/1h ref, 7.0/10) zerker - Guacamelee! 2 (PlayStation 4, First Time, 8h 32m timer/8h 30m ref, 9.0/10) zerker - Micro Mages (NES, First Time, 1h ref, 7.0/10) zerker - Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (Switch, First Time, 16h 5m 56s timer/17h ref, 9.0/10) zerker - Paradigm (Linux, First Time, 6h ref, 8.0/10) zerker - Touryst, The (Switch, First Time, 4h 19m timer/5h 30m ref, 8.0/10)
Finally finished Fire Emblem Three Houses (Switch; first time). Saved the world with the Golden Deer and my buddy Claude. A rather enjoyable Fire Emblem game, though the Monastery stuff did drag on a bit more than I'd like. 9/10, 69:26 on the clear save file.
Advent fixes up pretty much every problem with the first ZX! The map is actually comprehensible with both named areas and being always visible on the touchscreen. The difficulty is more even, and without any overlong tasks for chips or subtasks. You get transformations for nearly every major boss so you end with 15 forms rather than 6. The story isn't anything to write home about but is a little better than the original's. There's no Biometal repair since you copy their "DNA" rather than get their Biometal.
You only have the new Biometal A this time around which has an A-Trans ability similar to Axl's but without A being based on Axl canonically. This does heavily suggests that X6 to X8 and Zero onward really are two different story branches, but I do think they could be reconciled. Having so many forms does makes some less useful just because of the large quantity compared to the length of the game, but the variety is nice. You literally become the boss so there's a good deal of variety in movement.
The difficulty is even easier than ZX though mainly because one specific ability. The horseshoe crab based Chronoforce is gigantic and only usable in water, but it's charged attack slows down time significantly for quite a long duration. I assumed for a sizeable chunk of the game that non-iceweak bosses would be immune to it based on precedent from earlier games, but it's usable at any time! Chronoforce is the second or third boss you fight so it's not even something you gain towards the end. Weapon energy regenerates in this game so it's possible to use it a few times during a boss battle if it wears off.
There's also voice acting this time around, but it's mostly more passable than good. I think the Japanese ZX had voice acting that was dropped when it was localized. There's also fewer animated cutscenes, but the subtitles are nicer looking than ZX. It's very odd to me that they use two different fonts especially since ZX's are so hard to read.
I am sad that this is still the end of the line for the Inti Mega Man games. Unlike Zero 3/4, this clearly wasn't intended to be the end of this particular subseries. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger or anything, but there is the subtle suggestion of more to come. Azure Striker Gunvolt is a decent replacement, but isn't quite as good and has some of it's own annoying elements like the incessant grinding for upgrade materials although I haven't played the newest one yet. I do hope that Capcom really does pick up the X series again like they hinted at after the success of MM11.
I finished in 7:23:35 with a play log time of 35 - 40 hours for the whole set of 6.
A thoroughly mediocre combination of picross and a slightly Ace Attorney influenced VN. The AA influence is quite real as one of the composers did the music, but that's where the similarities end. The stories for the cases are incredibly boring with only the teensiest twists. Part of the problem is that there's very few characters or locations, but better writing could have done much more within these likely budget imposed limitations. It's really a failure of imagination. The story also takes place in 1996 for seemingly no reason, and the very few period details are pretty much entirely wrong. The main character, Honor Mizrahi, has a robot sidekick named Scout and the subplot involving him is the closest the story ever gets to being interesting. However, it's basically only a factor in the second half of the last case which is simply too little too late.
Of course, picross is the main attraction, but it also falls flat there. Every piece of evidence is a picross puzzle, but because of the AA influence, you have to use Scout to Investigate the scene to find items. What completely destroys this is that the view gets zoomed in something like 5x for no reason. It's basically just pure pixel hunting especially since the hotspots are frequently in completely random locations. The cursor does have a hot/cold function when you're near the clue, but it's still incredibly annoying. Considering there's generally only two or three main locations per case, you're constantly just hopping back and forth and rescanning the same locations over and over for a new hotpot that pops up out of nowhere. At least it doesn't let you Investigate if there's nothing to find.
I suppose some of the issues could be forgiven if the puzzles were good, but they really aren't. It's hard to describe exactly why. I got so bored with this about halfway through that I switched to Picross DS for a while, and the difference in quality is palpable. There's also significant UI problems particularly with the puzzles which doesn't help things either. It's just sloppy in general. The absolute oddest but least significant bug is that the date labels for saves are not daylight savings time aware for some perplexing reason.
I'm not sure if the concept is sound in general. The more relaxed pace of picross is completely at odds with the faster pace of the "detective" gameplay, and the subject matter leaves the puzzles subjects fairly monotonous. This could have worked better as a pure VN without any of the half-assed additional gameplay and the puzzles doled out at a more measured pace. This isn't actually the most misguided picross game I've played—that easily goes to Pictoquest which bolted on poorly thought out RPG combat—but this is a close second.
I finished in about 17.5h based the play log. Edit: The play log tipped into 20 - 25 after I opened it accidentally so I actually finished in exactly 20:00 somehow.
Post by halftheisland on Apr 7, 2020 17:06:33 GMT -5
Took part for a while in last year's Game Finish Challenge but life took over. Hoping I'll manage to finish a few more games this year, although things have gotten off to a slow start!
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (Playstation 4, first time)
This sure was an Ace Combat game! It does absolutely nothing new or groundbreaking that I could see, retains many of the same frustrations of older games, and I loved every second of it. I find the core, arcadey flight mechanics incredibly enjoyable. I feel like the focus is on making you *feel* like an ace fighter pilot, rather than simulating all the complexities that come with actually being one. Combined with the fact that even on standard difficulty you can only take a few hits before death, this builds a really satisfying risk-reward system.
The game definitely has its frustrations, with a couple of difficulty spikes at Missions 10 and 15, and some annoying escort missions (looking at Mission 10 again here).
I'm struggling to think of what else there is to say about this - the plot was OK I guess and the graphics seemed quite nice. It's not going to win any converts but it's a solid entry in the series.
[Going with HLTB on this one at 10.5 hrs]
Bioshock (Playstation 4, first time, part of the Bioshock: The Collection)
I've played this before, and watched someone else play it to completion, but never actually finished the game myself. Thoroughly enjoyed it once the muscle memory sank in on the controls and the feel of the controls - the second is harder to quantify but it felt slightly slippier than more modern console FPSes, and on the first I spent the initial 3-4 hours accidentally switching to plasmids every time by trying to hold L2 to zoom.
For all it's not usually what people discuss about the game, I thought the combat was actually really soild, especially in later levels when you've got a mix of weapons and plasmids to switch between. That said, I played it on the standard difficulty and towards the end of the game was basically permanently maxed out on ammo, health and EVE.
It's hard to judge the plot, really, given how it's been endlessly dissected and analysed. Looking at it with the benefit of history, it certainly still stands up but I don't think is quite as good as we all thought back in 2007. The atmosphere, however, remains incredibly evocative and Rapture is an incredibly well-realised environment. As far as I can tell the remastering for modern consoles is subtle but effective, bringing everything more or less in line with modern expectations without materially changing the look and feel.
Looking forward to playing Bioshock 2 next.
[HLTB: 12 hrs]
Hoplite (Android, replay)
An extremely well-made "roguelite" game for mobile, Hoplite builds a lot of replayability out of very simple actions - move, stab, lunge, leap, throw, bash. I played and completed it years ago but picked it back up again this year.
Not going into much depth on this one, the free version gives you the full game up to the victory condition, with a premium purchase (around £2) giving additional features like achievements, challenge mode etc. Highly recommended for anyone looking for something short and satisfying to play.
[Time to complete: maybe 20 mins to do a winning run, maybe 3-4 hours total playtime]
Post by halftheisland on Apr 7, 2020 18:48:20 GMT -5
And a late addition, wasn't expecting to finish this tonight but got some lucky hands
Regency Solitaire (PC/Steam, 1st time)
I can't really say I've enjoyed this as such, but it's served as a pleasant enough diversion over the past couple of weeks. Essentially a series of random card puzzles based roughly around the rules of solitaire, strung together with a pretty standard Regency romance plot. There were some interesting gameplay elements, with cards which only revealed themselves after a certain number of face cards were gathered, or which required to be gathered multiple times, along with various powerups (shuffle deck, burn certain cards, etc.)
There were moments when this all coalesced to feel genuinely enjoyable, where I felt like I was plotting a route through the playable cards with some degree of skill. Realistically, however, the randomised nature meant that this was simply luck of the draw, and a lot of hands required multiple replays to beat.
It definitely has something compulsive about it - I took probably twice as long to finish as was really required due to wanting to three-star each hand and meet all of the level goals, and I ended up finishing with all but two of the achievements (beat the game in Hard mode, and get a 35 combo).
I got it on sale for £2.09 and would struggle to recommend it at any price over that.
Replayed and completed all three layouts for all 32 missions plus the bonus mission on Grand Master ranking. I actually liked the game a lot more now than when I last played it over a decade ago. You can see all the stuff that influenced Sekiro. The combat is still terrible though...
Rating: 4/5 (I'm switching back to 5 star ratings)
[Star Control II:] The Ur-Quan Masters (Windows) - Replay, Time: N/A
This was my eighth or seventh replay. Still the best game ever made.
I have no idea why I even decided to play this; I think the name just popped into my head. I had never even heard of it before the site's article from 2017 although after playing it I can kinda see why. The graphics and music are nice, but the game is incredibly easy with bosses that either have very easy to dodge attacks or exploitable AI. The final boss too is a complete joke although the one before it is a bit tougher. The levels aren't anything all too special either. The three bonus stages a nice touch, but they're all identical excluding the background and only yield extra lives which are already super plentiful. It isn't the worst way to spend an evening but also not particularly notable either.
Bionic Commando, Arcade (1st time, approx. 20 minutes)
Only 5 stages, but I think that's a pretty reasonable length to subject a kid at an arcade to. Straight up action, and noticeably a few great BGM's that end up being reused for NES Bionic Commando. I also like that the game isn't cheap about laying enemies on you to use up quarters (I would have liked to claim Ninja Combat on Neo Geo, but I just don't see how I'd be able to beat it without using up $20 worth of credits). There isn't much in the way of bosses. And some of the soldier mech designs make me wonder if they influenced Final Fantasy VI's Magitek Armor. Also unlike NES/Famicom Bionic Commando, your enemy isn't some neo-nazi revival group. Okay to play once, but I'm not in love with this one.
PC Genjin/Bonk's Adventure, Arcade (1st time, approx. 1 hour)
Interesting game, seems to allow for 2 player simultaneous play. Visually more vivid and rich than on the Turbografx-16. But also plays differently as there is no floating rotating head to help you across pitfalls. You can play any level in any order, as well as get your choice of boss fight after you beat 3 levels. Plus, at the start of each level or boss fight, there is a "record completion time," to let you know how fast you are able to finish a level. The really weird thing for me was collecting smiley faces on your head. It works into some kind of bonus score, and seems to increase your headbutt range. Ending was also pretty damn weird.
Mega Man: The Power Battle, Arcade (1st time, approx. 30 minutes)
A full playthrough with one character goes by pretty quick, about 10 minutes. There are some subtle differences between playing as Mega Man, Proto Man, and Bass. But they all have different endings. I never did get to really nail down Wiley at the end. The last fight gives you like, 9 seconds to drain his life bar and keep him from escaping in a 3rd machine form. Very easy game, and the beautiful sprites, lush music and backgrounds scream of fan service.
Originally a browser game in 2013 before become a surprise iOS hit in 2014, this is a text based simulation/RPG that honestly is significantly less interesting than I thought it would be. You start out in the eponymous dark room. You light a fire and eventually someone stumbles in and becomes your "builder" once she warms up. At this point, you start building up a small village of up to 80 people who get assigned tasks like gathering wood, hunting animals, curing meat and tanning leather depending on what buildings you have.
The initial point is to build a trade post which allows you to buy a compass. The lets you explore the surrounding area, and this is when it switches to being more of an RPG. That's a bit of a strong term, but you do have some equipment and a small selection of perks which are learned from random events. Combat is real time with a cool down for your weapons. It's advantageous to keep one of each melee weapon you find as that gives you multiple attacks. Having multiples of the same weapon doesn't seem to do anything.
You "explore" caves, ruins and other locations which are really just a series of fights and opportunities to grab resources. The amount you can travel is limited by your water and cured meat supply. Water always starts at the maximum level and can be replenished in the field. Cured meat needs to be created in the village and takes up inventory space but can also be occasionally found when exploring. It isn't readily apparent what the ultimate goal is so I won't spoil it, but you pretty much literally stumble into the endgame once you've explored enough of the wilderness.
The story is really sketchy though. It can be slightly evocative at times, but there's simply not enough. You can piece together little bits from what little detail there is, but even just giving enemies some slight description would have gone a long way as there is a decent variety of enemies. I think most of the problem comes down to this essentially being the product of two people, the original browser developer and the iOS/Switch porter. For comparison purposes, I played quite a ways into the browser game which has only the absolute minimum of detail, and the second developer added most of the story content that does exist. It would have been nice to get little bits of backstory when exploring, and a slightly more story heavy end game which is actually pretty short as it is.
There are significant differences between this version and the browser game which is free and open source. The amount of resources gathered by your villagers and from animal traps is generally higher in this version and faster too. The browser game has a 2x speed setting (hyper mode) which is still slower than the Switch port. Combat is a little easier too as cured meat heals more if used in battle, and armor gives you higher HP. There's also a perk that doubles the HP restored by meat which seems to replace medicine in the original. It’s hard to find and very expensive to trade for so this is a welcome change. It's also easier to travel around as you use less meat when moving (1 per 4 squares instead of 1 per 2), and your inventory is always larger. I think you still use the same amount of water though (1 per square), but it seemed like much less of an issue in general. The compass also actually does something instead of only being needed to access the world map.
This is really more notable for the fiasco the Switch release was almost exactly 1 year ago (4/12/19). The developer decided to "hide" a Ruby interpreter in the game and publicize the fairly easy method of accessing it (plug in a keyboard and hit `/~). This lead to it being removed from availability from the eShop, but not actually delisted as it was available for sale for about two weeks and I think delisting would take away being able to redownload for people that did buy it.
I had this in my wishlist before all the Ruby stuff came out, and I ended up taking it out after a few months because it seemed like it was never going to return. It did at some point rather quietly as the removal from download rather than delisting meant that it didn't show up as a new release when it was finally available again. I only noticed because it was sale as I check the full listing every week*.
Overall, a fairly simple game that could have used a real remake for this third version instead of a UI cleanup. There's some potential here, but it's all a little skimpy. This is actually closest to Dragon Quest Builders 2 in gameplay—specifically 2 as residents are fairly autonomous compared to 1—and moving in a direction that gave the village more detail and customization would have been a great addition. This isn’t bad, but it was hard to not feel disappointed.
I finished in 3:24.
Edit: Turns out I've had the iOS version since 2014! 🤦
* As a side note, I really wish the eShop had a more granular selection at the bottom end of the price range. Every week, it seems like nearly 90% of everything on sale ends up lumped in the bottom $9.99 and below category.