Beaten as a Warrior on Normal difficulty. I played with the Hellfire expansion, but since that slots neatly into the existing game I wouldn't count it as a separate entry.
Somehow I'd never played the original Diablo before. I can see how it kickstarted the genre, but compared to it's sequels and many followers the original just feels a bit too simplistic and monotonous now. Still an enjoyable enough romp, except for the later levels which were rife with asshole ranged enemies. Really started to regret picking Warrior, since he has no way to deal with them except slooowly chasing them down one by one.
Post by Apollo Chungus on Jul 23, 2021 6:51:33 GMT -5
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Sonic 2006 - Extended Port (PC; First Time; 59 minutes)
This is a mod based on Sonic 06, originally made by STHE123O, and then ported over to the V2.2 version by Mikhael Blur. It takes the level themes from the original and uses them to design entirely new stages, though some of them share a structure or certain locations with their inspirations. It's a fairly neat concept, and one that mostly works out okay. It's a shockingly full mod with 9 stages and 3 bosses, along with plenty of collectable emblems to keep you revisiting and exploring stages. However, I'm a bit iffy on the texturing - a lot of it's over-detailed, which results in very grainy looking stages, and the textures for platforms aren't distinguished well enough from the surrounding walls and floors to be easily noticed. When you're going at high speeds, you really need to be able to see those platforms so you don't take a wrong turn or jump into a bottomless pit by accident. Still, it's a solid enough way of experiencing some of the ideas and plenty of the music from 06 in this gameplay style, so I'd say give it a look if the concept interests you: mb.srb2.org/addons/sonic-2006-extended-port.157/
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Switch, First Time)
I had stayed away from this for a very long time since I absolutely hated the sailing in ACIII. I can’t say I actually enjoyed it all that much in this game either, but it was less annoying when you’re largely fighting in the open sea instead of constantly crashing into the environment. I’m not going to complain too much, but it’s actually a little weird how de-emphasized some of the pirate aspects are. Because there are some required naval combats in the story, you can’t ignore pillaging ships for upgrade materials entirely, but the highest upgrade levels are really for taking on “super boss” ships. Many of the weapons are also fairly useless, so upgrading your hull and cannons a few levels are all you need to do in order to finish the story.
Befitting the engine’s ties to ACIII, you play as Connor’s grandfather, the amoral pirate Edward Kenway. Although the Templar/Assassin conflict is present, the overall focus is on a romanticized depiction of the tail end of the Golden Age of Piracy. If I hadn’t already known some things about the game’s development, I would have thought that this was originally an unrelated game that got merged into the series. Edward is technically never even an Assassin in this game and is more anti-Templar than pro-Assassin. I did like that the Templars have a real concrete goal in this game instead of the significantly vaguer political machinations of III.
Had I not already played a smidge of this when it was released, I would have hoped that the modern day plot was removed entirely. Since the whole Desmond Miles / stopping the 2012 cataclysm plot is done with, you instead play as an unnamed and unseen employee of Abstergo Entertainment poking around Edwards memories for a pirate themed product. The modern day gameplay is significantly reduced to moving around a bit of an office building in first person although you can hack into computers and get a fairly voluminous amount of background material.
Overall, I think this is somewhat of a lateral move from III for me. The story is a little more interesting in focusing a slightly more historical take on pirates than usual, but the overall gameplay is a little more boring because of all the tedious sailing and generally uninteresting environments. It’ll be interesting to see if Rogue actually shakes things up at all.
I finished in 18:58:18.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag — Aveline
This is a fairly trifling piece of DLC that brings back Aveline from AC: Liberation for around an half an hour of content. The equivalent of this for III was integrated into the main game, but this one isn’t since it uses a different character. There’s technically a story, but you’re basically just working your way from the southern end of an island to the northern end in a linear fashion arbitrarily divided into three Memories.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag — Freedom Cry
There was a lot of potential here that was entirely squandered. This features Adéwalé, Edward’s quartermaster, as he works to free slaves in 1730s Port-au-Prince. There’s a lot of elements like freeing slaves from plantations and slave ships along with building up a resistance force that have basically no point. There’s also a new naval map that’s small and very tacked on with almost nothing of interest in it.
This mainly just feels like a very low effort expansion. I think they wanted to do something related to Haiti’s revolution, but that didn’t happen until the 1790s and would have required a new character. That would have been interesting as the main game makes it seem like the Templars are explicitly anti-slavery while the Assassins are relatively indifferent as a group. That could have been an interesting wrinkle if explored further instead of this overly brief half measure.
Beat the story mode on the heel path. I actually had been playing this for a while, took a break to play Hades and came back to find out my in-progress save file was a the last match of the Story Mode. It actually ends really abruptly in the middle of the story with a "To Be Continued" teaser.
This is basically a remake of the Technos Classic, WWF Wrestlefest. Very similar graphical style and gameplay but with a Fire-Pro esque timing based grappling system instead. Also like Fire Pro you can't just start using your more powerful moves immediately. You have to use weak attacks and wear your opponent down first. Once you get the timing down, the game is very easy.
The pixel art is nice, and I really love the caricature art used in the story mode cutscenes. My only issue with the graphics is that some of the more complex moves are animated in a way that's hard to read.
The roster is a grab bag of guys not signed to any major company. There's 16 wrestlers, but very few stars. Listen, I love Nick Aldis but it's hard for me to get excited about playing as freaking Matt Cardona and Brian Myers. There's no Create-a-Wrestler, but I woudn't expect one for a game like this. The small and underwhelming is probably the game's biggest flaw, especially in an era where a standard wrestling game will have dozens of guys. I understand this game is working with some limitations though.
The story mode is well written and gives you a few branching paths but you can only be one guy (Johnny Retro AKA John Morrison AKA Johnny Mundo etc). I already mentioned that it ends very abruptly, which is too bad.
The incomplete story mode, small roster and lack of polish in places (every character in story mode cutscenes has a lot of different expressions and poses...except for Jeff Cobb for some reason. He just has the standard expression) give the game a bit of an unfinished feeling. The game is pretty fun though so I hope it sells well enough that the experience can be fleshed out with DLC. I unfortunately think it might get lost in the wrestling game shuffle with the WWE series coming back this year plus an AEW game.
Alien: Isolation (PS4) - First playthrough, Time: no idea, but too long
Probably the best Alien game ever made. Moody, athmospheric and tense first person survival horror game that's faithful to the aesthetics of the original movie, finally giving the Xenomorph it's due by making a ruthless, invincible and terrifying predator instead of cannon fodder. Great stuff. Of course, there are some flaws too. Eventually you start to see the gears works of the Alien AI and feel a bit frustrated how it's always "tethered" to you. The game is also definitely too long, especially in the latter half when it starts to feel padded. There are several segments that could by cut without losing anything of value.
I unlocked the platinum trophy, which unfortunately required three full playthroughs because I kept messing up and voiding the "no deaths" trophy. Also beat the DLCs, but those were really slight and not worth counting separately.
An update on my Cruelty Squad playthrough. After 19 hours, I've now managed to clear every stage including the bonus stages, and see to "true" ending to the game. Also, this game warrants having its rating upgraded to a 9/10 based on its pure quality. Best new game I've played all year so far.
I unfortunately think it might get lost in the wrestling game shuffle with the WWE series coming back this year plus an AEW game.
I will be picking it up with the Limited Run edition when that becomes available (might be a while if they wait for dlc). I think those should ensure the game does well enough, since I'd imagine the budget is really low. AEW's game looks like it's a long way out, so that won't be competition for the time being at least. I do think Create a Wrestler is a feature that would add a bunch of replay value and be much used considering the current roster is kind of a mish mash. Like you say, it makes sense to not be there as a priority.
Last Edit: Jul 24, 2021 5:00:31 GMT -5 by excelsior
Post by Apollo Chungus on Jul 24, 2021 7:47:01 GMT -5
Not really been in the mood much for playing other games, so I've just been going through Sonic Robo Blast 2 mods. I wasn't able to beat the surprisingly solid but tough as nails Metroid Vanguard mod (which effectively turns the game into Metroid Prime with Super Metroid mechanics thrown in like the speed booster and the ShineSpark guff), but I did clear these two mods:
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Chaos Domain (Windows; First Time; 46 minutes)
This is a four-zone mod developed for earlier versions of the game by the SRB2 Chaos Domain team led by CoatRack, and recently ported to V2.2 by ketchupik. It's decent enough, with some very cool ideas such as the puzzle-heavy second act of Egg Mansion Zone and the complete desolation of Stronghold Forest Zone. Most stages also seem to have a couple of ways to get through them, which is very much appreciated when you encounter a route that you can't overcome. However, I found the enemy placement and overuse of the Egg Lancers in the second half very obnoxious, as they constantly rush towards you while you're trying to explore or solve puzzles. It made every stage feel like a rush to the end, so I wasn't able to appreciate their ideas or explore for secret areas as much as I'd like to. Not for me, but still fairly impressive all the same: mb.srb2.org/addons/srb2-chaos-domain.2720/
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Sonic Adventure Genisys (Windows; First Time; 29 minutes)
This is a goofy April Fool's mod by Roger van der Weide, who made the Sol Sestancia Part 1 mod I wrote about a few days ago. The gist behind this is that Sonic Team has gone back in time to remake Sonic Adventure using what are generally considered the worst elements of the more recent games (wonky 2D sections, an over-emphasis on Green Hill Zone nostalgia, obnoxiously dissonant snark humour) and effectively replacing the original, and the characters send a Knuckles-based Terminator complete with terrible Arnie impressions to stop Sonic Team.
It's a mix of levels inspired by the original Sonic Adventure and some very meta levels that are amusingly strange as they are bitter about the state of the series. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about that, as I'm rather bad at knowing where the line is between deliberately silly goofs and only slightly exagerrated grievances (even for April Fools' jokes, I genuinely can't tell unless it's deeply and blatantly obvious). But there's one moment that did make me burst out with laughter at the sheer concept and how it looks within the game, so I'll recommend it for that alone. mb.srb2.org/addons/sonic-adventure-genisys.2646/
I remember being pretty impressed with this one back in the day and its a pretty good improvement over the original. For one it actually has level design and many of the bosses get a bit creative. Pretty nice music once again for the time the graphics running as fast and smooth as they did were fairly impressive.
But truth be told, I kind of hated it when I picked this up again. I kept running into absolutely everything and couldn't even clear the campaign on the easiest setting (which does nothing but give you more lives and continues as far as I can tell). I started to think that the hit detection as off or something and was ready to condemn the thing, but then I decided to read the manual of all things and there I learned you can adjust your speed via an option before levels that is really easily missed, doh. It clicked then for all the crap they throw at you and how cramped things get you move way too fast at the default speed to be precise. So I knocked it down to the lowest and while its not comfortable I was able to do much, much better. Not the best solution but hey, it worked, they needed to tweak those values just a bit more.
I'm mixed on how they handled weapons this time around. Now you only get this basic forward shot but to compensate you can grab two satellites which can be toggled to three different positions you can customize before each level. Nice idea and I like how the stages demand you make use of the feature but it doesn't change the fact that once again your main weapon is way too week and boring. I remember Iridion 2 had the same system and the weapons actually did different things, why not try that again? You also can only pick one special weapon this time around and to their credit most of them are useful now. Save for Spin. There still seems to be a dumb scoring system in place that I cant even wrap my head around but this one doesn't seem to have as much emphasis on score this time so I don't much care. Like last time theres a challenge mode with special objectives and this time they actually get creative with them instead of just 'get this score' or 'you only have one life' kind of junk. Appreciate that.
All and all I liked quite a bit. Maybe not as much as I did before but it's a good effort and I think I'll enjoy doing the challenges when I come back to it.
Rating: 7, still nothing amazing or even something I'd recommend but not bad for what it is.
"You know, I hate the fact that I am like a 87' Chrysler LeBaron trapped in a human body. Its not fair!"
Final Fantasy II (PS2, First Time, Time - 31:27) I've said a bit about this already. I played the PS1 remake on normal mode. Generally I've not played this one previously since it is such a maligned entry in the series, however I got an urge to try it for myself recently. The biggest complaints I've seen is how it is all too easy to run into something that wipes you out in the early goings, and that the level system is awkward. Generally speaking I think that these are bigger issues starting out that you progressively move beyond. You will naturally grow stronger enough to pass enemies that happen to be in your way, unless you go way off the beaten path; and the levelling system can be quite rewarding in it's ability to mould your characters to your liking once the game opens up. There's some issues with the experimentation for sure; in particular the magic points; but you can certainly grow powerful to the point you can easily wipe out any enemies should you want to put the time in to do so. For me, outside of some QoL issues such as lack of save points in dungeons (which weren't really common at the time anyway and more of a modern expectation) Final Fantasy II's biggest problem is that it doesn't put it's best foot forward. The early game can feel frustrating, and progress feels difficult. Once I gained access to the ship and was able to freely roam I found there was much more to enjoy, and the experience was largely in line with what I expect from the Final Fantasy series.
Score - 7/10
Kuru Kuru Kururin (Gamecube, First Time, Time - Est 3:30) This is a GBA game I played through on the GBA player one afternoon. Really nice action puzzler where you have to position a helicopter in an overhead perspective and ensure it's propellers don't collide with any walls as you work your way through a maze. Generally the concept allows for some challenging and addictive gameplay, although I did take advantage of the generously offered smaller propellers - I'm not sure how I would have managed without.
Score - 8/10
Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II (Gamecube, First Time, Time - 38:29) I really enjoy the original Phantasy Star series and had seen enough talk online how the game is fun regardless of the online experience. As such, I figured I would have a really good time with it offline. It's not bad; I was generally somewhat entertained; however I think being engaged has a lot to do with your ability to persevere through endless grinding... because grinding is really all there is to the offline experience. There's some nice boss battles, and generally combat requires learning enemy patterns which is nice, but there's little variety in enemies, levels are overlong and levelling up takes far too long. Of course, it's easy to see how the online game would have offered a completely different feel, since it actually has story modes, and the varying characters you see online would detract from the monotony, however I wouldn't recommend the offline game to anyone. Generally, the game just doesn't have much to offer.
Score - 6/10
Pokemon Moon (3DS, First Time, Time - 21:54) Following comments from a couple of users here after my write up of Pokemon Leaf Green I decided my next Pokemon entry would be Moon. The game is actually one that stands out from the usual entries in the series as feeling like a different take; Pokemon Moon sheds the grindiness of other titles and narrows the exploration and opts for a more linear, even somewhat cinematic, adventure style of game. I found the change made the game feel fresh and fun. What stands out for me is how well the game is presented in a way that the story feels more prominent. Yes, it's characters were wordy, but they all stood out as having their own personality. What's more, with the replacement of gyms with island challenges, we have actual boss battles, rather than just more battles against the exact same Pokemon. The storyline has an actual antagonist, who feels like one, and not just some throwaway character that shows up a couple of times that I pretty much forgot about. The only drawback to the presentation is unfortunately that the 3DS (playing on base XL) doesn't hold up well when there are more than 2 Pokemon on screen (which is more frequent and otherwise a welcome change), or with a boss fight. As a whole though, that's one notch against the game, which is otherwise actually quite the looker, and is paced with varying challenges that allow the entire game to feel fresh throughout. Honestly, I'm not sure why Pokemon Sword and Shield resorted back to the familiar series routes - perhaps long term fans weren't happy with the different direction. As a player who finds the series pretty middling, I think the change of pace was just what I needed.
Post by Apollo Chungus on Jul 27, 2021 14:04:38 GMT -5
Played through a few more Sonic Robo Blast 2 mods, and this'll be the last of them for now. There aren't many level packs made specifically for V2.2 at the moment (as it's only a year and a bit old), and I don't know if any of the levels made for previous versions can be reused without issues. Still, it's been a pretty fun time seeing what people can come up with:
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Apologue (Windows; First Time; 25 minutes)
This is a level pack made by RomioTheBadass, and while I initially attempted to play through as Fang (having done all the previous mods as Tails), I got stuck on a very tough part that only really works if you have a character with some mid-air control like Tails or Knuckles. So I started over and more or less flew over all the platform-centric challenges, which resulted in this pack actually being fairly forgettable. That's pretty much my fault, since there's plenty of moments where I could and perhaps should have bothered to play through the stages properly. There's a few good levels like Sunken Library Zone and Quandary Canyon Zone, and I like how most of them transition from one stage to the next. But I guess I wasn't in the mood for it at the time. I might give it another go down the line. mb.srb2.org/threads/srb2-apologue-v2-1e-update.27232/
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Orsland 2021 (Windows; First Time; 39 minutes)
This is a pack of levels made back in 2014 primarily by Ors, and ported to V2.2 with the help of romineblox0 and WellDoneSnake (who also designed most of Rainforest Rampage Zone). I rather like how abstract the levels look, going just for a basic set of obstacles than trying to establish a sense of place - I know that's likely by accident and not anything special, but it stands out against the other mods in that respect. I also dig the way the level designs for the boss stages recontextualize how you approach them, with the final one in particular being a neat remix of the first boss from earlier versions of Robo Blast 2. However, I wish the lighting on these stages didn't so frequently turn so dark that I have to turn the custom shaders on and off so I can see where I'm going! mb.srb2.org/addons/orsland-2021.2830/
Sonic Robo Blast 2: Starshy Stages (Windows; First Time; 38 minutes)
This level pack was created by Starshy, and is focused on levels and exploration. With Apologue fresh on my mind, I decided to play as Fang and stick with him all the way, which I managed to do. Perhaps because of that, I was able to appreciate the level design much more, to the point where this is my favourite of the the straightforward mods. Stages have a sense of progression to them in their structure, there's a couple of routes and various secret areas on offer, and they manage that fine balance of being quick to clear without feeling abrupt. At times, I even felt like I was playing a 3D version of Sonic 2, which also had meaty stages that could be cleared quickly once you figured everything out. There's a secret level I need to collect all the Chaos Emeralds to open up, so I'll definitely give this more time in the future. mb.srb2.org/threads/starshy-stages-v1-1.28330/
Messed around this afternoon and beat Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES, First Time).
This is one of many NES games I have owned for decades and have never really put forth the effort in beating it. So I thought I would today. This is the kind of thing 8 year old me would have obsessively played over a weekend until he beat it, so 36 year old me shouldn't have a problem doing it in an hour or so right?
Like a lot of 8-bit platformers based on arcade games, it's not very forgiving. One hit and you're done, plus there's some really wonky hit detection here and there. There's lot of randomness too. There's a part in the 4th or 5th level where you have to cross over a body of water jumping from platform to platform while avoiding bubbles. The bubbles have an erratic movement and the platforms sink in the water and raise at random intervals. It's frustrating but this is standard NES stuff and the game offers unlimited continues.
It's all pretty generic though, despite some amusing character designs. The port to the NES adds next to nothing from what I can tell - no shoehorned in RPG elements or shop systems or anything like that. It's a straight up, 8-bit action game arcade port and everything that comes with that. It's hardly a lost classic but I had some fun with it. Plus the game has some amusing localization choices.
Not a whole lot to say about F-Zero. Mainly just been poking around and actually polished off all the tracks recently.
Rad Racer (NES, First Time) Rad Racer II (NES, First Time)
Rad Racer II is one of the few physical NES games that I have so I played it a ton until my NES inexplicably decided to only work with SMB although this is the first time I've ever concentrated on finishing it albeit emulated. The first game is better though with controls that feel less slippery and a more reasonable difficulty. A certain amount of cautious play will still get you to the final track, but you need to be 100% aggressive from the get go in the sequel.
Also a little weird in the US exclusive sequel is that kilometers per hour was simply changed to miles per hour giving you a very unrealistic top speed of 255 MPH. The original Bugatti Veyron officially hit slightly under that and it was the fastest street legal production car when it was released in 2005. You do get a choice between a what's obviously an unlicensed Ferrari 328 and an identically performing F1 racer in the first game and presumably the same 328 in the sequel. That car has a top speed of about 255 km/h.
Super Mario Kart (Switch/SNES, First Time)
I have somehow never actually played through all of SMK before, and it is interesting to see where everything started. It is a little quaint in how small the tracks are, but the AI is super cheap even in the first game with the added wrinkle of freely useable special abilities.
Last Edit: Jul 29, 2021 10:15:04 GMT -5 by dsparil
MegaMan V (Game Boy) via 3DS virtual console, 3 hours
So I guess this was MegaMan month for me. Ended up clearing them all and I'm surprised I'm not sick of them lol. So I imagine most will say this is the best of the GB series since its all brand new content. And for the most part it is all really solid stuff. Thing is you can tell they tried really hard with this one but some of their ideas didn't pan out the best. Mostly the weapons try to be really weird this time around and unfortunately most are just plain wonky to use or get little to no use (Uranus being a prime example) the level design is really good buuuut I found 3 and 4's original levels to be just a little more interesting... and having less leap of faith shafts with spikes waiting for you.
The bosses are a bit of a mixed bag as well. Many are really close to being good fights but they tend to settle into these 1-2 patterns which just make them a joke. A slight bit of variance and maybe one more move would have saved many of them, and it could have been done. Pluto and a couple others are great encounters for what they are, I particularly liked Wily's 2nd phase. Well technically third phase with a total of 4. Yeah the last stage gets a bit bloated again with rematches with all the old rivals from the previous GB games on top of the usual rematches with the regular bosses. Its not to the point its bad but it is a bit much.
All and all I think I liked 3 just a little bit better but its about at the same level as the previous 2 games. Frankly... I think I like the Gameboy series a little more than the NES versions. I won't say they are better exactly but there is just something about them I like and makes them stick in my mind more than the NES games. Might just be due to me rediscovering my love of portable gaming again. I dunno, but I'm happy I decided to revisit this series again. It's be a nice ride.
Last Edit: Jul 30, 2021 19:34:50 GMT -5 by personman
"You know, I hate the fact that I am like a 87' Chrysler LeBaron trapped in a human body. Its not fair!"
Enjoyable. The game is definitely aimed at a younger audience much like Yo-Kai or Pokemon, but the game play was enough fun that I kept playing. Battles can be tactical when learning a new monster but once you figure out a the pattern they can drag. Thankfully random fights are a poor source of experience so you can skip the majority of these without consequence and once high level you can insta-kill enemies and still get their parts. Monster raising is painless and low level monsters can easily be made battle ready thanks to the heaping exp boost they earn. Hunting monsters for gear is also satisfying. There is a ton of post-game monsters and equipment to go after and I can tell kids/people with more time to spend on the game would love that. I however have several new games sitting on the shelf (including Cris Tales and NEO:TWEWY) and those are rapidly claiming my attention.
Solid monster raising and hunting RPG. Won't mind playing another when it inevitably gets a sequel.