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“I Just Think They're Neat.” Like What You are Playing

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
There is absolutely nothing you can’t change about your character appearance. Plastic surgery clinics are inexpensive and everywhere
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
devil dice was a game i bought on a whim quite a while ago, and by the time i learned it had a playstation 2 sequel...i no longer saw copies of bombastic for like $5 at game stores all the time. but it was a featured title at the rta in japan marathon a few weeks ago, which reminded me again that i really had to get it, especially as i'd enjoyed showing off the game and its low-poly charms earlier this year to demi. so i finally got it lately and i keep turning it on thinking i'm gonna play for a little while then do something else, but then suddenly it's past 1am

in the earlier games the dice would sink into the floor when you made a combo, which had some interesting elements, but the "bomb" in the game's english title refers to the fact that in this game that mechanic has been replaced with...explosions. they blow up, and you lose if you're standing on them when that happens, and can cause all kinds of chain reactions and weird situations. in the end this not only doesn't shift the "best" scoring strategy much, it actually makes it even stronger because the old clearing mechanics didn't allow some of the combo extensions which are attainable in this game. at the same time there's a fun chaos that's immediately appealing and the game's mechanics offer a bit more threat of actually losing; even as a pretty moderately-skilled player myself it's pretty easy for a devil dice "credit" to go on for basically an hour, while i've gotten knocked out every time within 20-25 minutes so far in this game's corresponding mode. which is a bit more reasonable overall, although the aesthetic and vibe and maybe even ultimately the mechanics are still very appealing in the old game. it's a bit of a tossup for me, then, but i'm not that surprised

that said, the other major mode in the previous games is a very "training mode"-esque puzzle mode, where you have to combo out all the dice in a certain number of moves. this is, of course, very successful in teaching various kinds of lateral thinking and scenarios that come up in the game, but it doesn't really bring anything truly different from the core game to the table, which is where bombastic really differentiates itself. quest mode takes advantage of the concept of the explosion as an "attack" to include new elements to the puzzles, particularly enemies to be handled in various different ways, but also being able to utilize the pushing mechanic (which is deprecated from trial mode since you never drop to the ground with the explosion rules). it's got that kind of mischief makers vibe where each stage and boss is built around a certain concept and explores it before bringing out something very different for the next one, and later in the mode there start being multiple connected puzzles where you might have to solve part of one to be able to fully manipulate the objects for the next one

overall, it's not just great, but a sequel that really blew away my expectations even as a huge fan of the previous games, and easily one of my favorite games i've played this year. which is not that surprising but still
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Round Guard is the answer to the question nobody was asking of “What if we gave Peggle procedurally generated dungeons and rpg elements?”

And someone *should* have asked that question, since it’s really fun and a good video game to play right before bed
 
Devil Dice and Bombastic are both pretty great, but I'd have to give the nod to the sequel, because well... explosions! They really drive up the intensity and raise the stakes considerably. You have to keep moving, not just to keep your combos active but because you'll die if you don't. (There's a hidden mode if you just want to play Devil Dice with better graphics... I think you earn it with high scores.)

There's also a sequel to Devil Dice on the PSP, called Xi Coliseum. There are no explosions, but it looks better than the PSOne game and is built for competition with other players. Whenever I'll be in a situation where boredom is a guarantee (example: waiting for food at a restaurant), I take along my PSP Go and burn away the downtime with some Xi Coliseum... trial mode, set to three minutes of gameplay. I'm not good at it... it works on different principles from other puzzle games and it can be hard to wrap your head around them, but it keeps my mind occupied while my burger is on the grill.


By the way, watching YouTube clips of players racking up huge scores in Bombastic is a thing of beauty. I don't know how they do it, but I can't help but be in awe of their skills.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
It's been sitting in my Steam library for God knows how long, and it came well recommended, so on a whim I booted up Saints Row 4. Got far enough in that it stopped giving me the main tutorial quests and unlocked all the DLC.

This is one of those games with that thing where you can run fast and jump high, and running fast and jumping high allows you to reach orbs which make you run faster and jump higher. I love it when games have that. I think I'll stick with it for a while. Seems like the sort of game that's fun to periodically drop into.

However, after a couple hours I've realized that I dislike the hair I gave my character during character creation. Anybody know if there's a way to change that?

Yeah, look for *noun* Image clinics around, those will let you redo all of the character creation stuff for pretty cheap.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I finished Carrion. I ended up really enjoying it, just having fun with traversal, glorping around as a horrible mouth abomination, and using my powers to do horrible things to humans. It ended abruptly, although I wasn't playing it as a very linear metrovania (if indeed one at all) and it went really smoothly that way. There was little if any doubling back or exploration, so I just went with the flow. I guess there are more secret powerups, but if I just beat the game like I did, what would be the point of them anyway? I just remembered that I need to go back for the Christmas DLC thing too.

I am apparently in A Mood because I dug up Blasphemous to play almost immediately afterwards. It's interesting so far. It's extremely "hello I want to make a dark souls too" in pretty much every way, except for having build options (sadly). Oh, and not dropping your tears (souls) when you die and having to recover them; instead you get "guilt" - a bit of your special/magic bar blocked off and you get a negative modifier to your tear gain until you reclaim your death-drop spot, but you don't lose what you have; you can also have multiple death drops (so the effect stacks, but you don't lose an earlier one, since there's nothing to "lose") on the map. You can also pay to make the accumulated guilt away if you don't want to make a hike. Interesting way to approach the common convention.

Combat isn't particularly interesting, really. Dodge-slide, timed blocks, very basic sword-hitting, a few spell-like effects. Also dodge was described as letting you safely slide through enemies, which it does, except when it doesn't on some enemies/attacks, which was particularly annoying.

I do appreciate all the Catholic-Horror imagery and design; it's a really interesting take on using familiar trappings, iconography, and even meanings and teachings but giving them all just enough of a dark horror twist to make it unique and intriguing.

Currently stuck on a/the fourth boss, at a bridge before the mcguffin door, and am remembering another thing about souls-like games I dislike; difficulty. D: (The first boss also gave me trouble, but I one-shot the second and third that I fought. I am very OK with not having to pound my head too hard against enemies to get past them, thank you.)
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Currently stuck on a/the fourth boss, at a bridge before the mcguffin door,
IIRC, that boss heavily incentivizes blocking and countering. Any other approach to that battle is asking for a bad time.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I left and tracked down some extra stuff, and came back with an accessory for higher defense and an extra bile flask and got him. There are only a few opportunities to counter, and he's really fast and kinda unpredictable, but I managed to get close enough to a successful rhythm.

Been making good progress and possibly nearing the end. I've beaten 3? more bosses; the exhumed archbishop, the fire-sword guy, and the... baby being held in the background except you're actually fighting a weird briar snake? That one didn't make sense to me.

The map says 92%, I have 6/7 mea culpa altars and 25ish of the 38 cage babies. My quicksilver guy is Having A Bad Time with the man crawling out of his chest (I have one more quicksilver onhand but not enough tears to upgrade yet; that's 12000, and I need another 9999 for the Inquisitor key, so I really need to grind or something.) Just gave the third mask to the elevator and got my ass completely rocked by the penitent knight lady with the French color scheme (white armor, blue cape, red sword). I just took one swing at her and went to bed, but I am NOT looking forward to going back for more.


There are (at least) two traversal things I'm either waiting to pick up or somehow missed: whatever lets me jump out of the water/mud that slows me down (only a couple items locked behind that atm) and whatever works with those bunches of thorny vines on walls and ceilings, probably to unravel them and turn them into platforms or climbable surfaces or whatever. There are also just a couple high verticals that I'm not sure if I'll get a double-jump for or if I just need to find other ways to get to. I do often find myself wishing there was more fast-travel, but I guess it wouldn't be a Metrovania without backtracking and re-exploring.

Gripe: The first sword heart I found, with the longer block time but slower recovery from the animation if you don't block, is the only one I've ever used; all of the others feel like they have too big a tradeoff. The "more tears but no bile flask" one could be useful if I find a good grinding spot, at least?
 
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lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
There's an improved fast travel method that the game doesn't tell you about, but it's worth unlocking: if you donate 20k to the Albero church donation box, you gain the ability to fast travel between shrines rather than just the portal rooms.
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
Devil Dice and Bombastic are both pretty great, but I'd have to give the nod to the sequel, because well... explosions! They really drive up the intensity and raise the stakes considerably. You have to keep moving, not just to keep your combos active but because you'll die if you don't. (There's a hidden mode if you just want to play Devil Dice with better graphics... I think you earn it with high scores.)

There's also a sequel to Devil Dice on the PSP, called Xi Coliseum.
i think the funniest ruleset is the "advanced" one (from jumbo) though i think i still want to get better at the core rules without all of the shortcutting and weird stuff you can do with the dice hopping and stacking so i probably won't play it too much for now. not to mention that it's still important to be competent at the "basic" play even for that, as those kinds of usually impossible moves can improve efficiency in a lot of cases but if you get too focused on trying to carry out some perfect galaxy brain 2-layer move...you'll just die by not clearing the board normally

and yeah, i only learned about that one and the wonderswan color one lately, though the latter (xi little) doesn't work on my flashcart and i'm not sure i want to pay $40 for a downscaled and slower port, even if it looks totally playable and still very cute. but coliseum seems like a worthy thing to slap on my psp, since i got a new one last year and have been using it quite a lot. i really do think the ps1 has the sweet spot for the abstract puzzle mode visually to me, it's edged off and simple in a way i just love, but that's not to say there's anything to complain about in the later versions.

and yeah, it's kind of a tricky one to wrap around. like, if you look at a game like panel de pon, that would be like the most "abstract" puzzle game in my opinion, in the sense of, there's no limitation on what part of your field you can operate on. and stuff where you play from the top like tetris, puyo, magical drop, etc. is close to that but features a bit more of a "physical" limitation on your allowed moves. and a lot of games on the opposite end, where maintaining your character's position in a manageable way is frequently a critical part of the puzzle, tend to be more strictly designed puzzle games, stuff like sokoban where the levels are more like fixed objects for you to solve in a specific way and progress through; the closest thing i'd name in this kind of procedural/arcadey genre is mr. driller, where moving your person into places where they won't get crushed and can pick up air is critical to winning and losing.

and i think that represents a big part of the divide, with a lot of games in the former category having obviously intricate mechanics and metagames, lots of focus on combos and the like, and so on, while those character games tend to have more "simple" mechanics at face: in mr. driller, you press the button to blow stuff up and that's kinda it. in sokoban you just move the box onto the spot it tells you to

and so xi features an especially complex fusion in a sense, where you have to be pretty heavily concerned with not getting yourself trapped (because even if "there is nothing close to you to climb to" implies that you won't lose immediately, it costs tons of time and score potential), but you can also set up incredibly long and complex combo sequences, and are obviously encouraged to. of course, one of the reasons bombastic is more manageable in this sense is because the dice don't get "stuck" as soon as you combo them, so you can kind of rescue combos that are set up less optimally than in the original game by riding it out to the rest of the stack. but still, it's definitely a tall hill to climb.

i do think that the learning onramp is fairly generous, though. the game's loss threats are not very strict for the early stretch of any given game and it's pretty manageable to raise a "basic" combo to a respectable one by completely improvising it, trying to tag the easiest nearby dice onto what you made. obviously i don't know if anything compares to puyo like that, since that's a game which kind of feels to me like a sheer cliff to learn at first, but i do feel that i've made good progress in this series just by playing it and continuing to internalize the mechanics and maneuvers to react more quickly. and because i just enjoy the vibe so much it's very easy for me to just keep playing it and enjoy getting better even if it's not super fast or noticeable all the time
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
There's an improved fast travel method that the game doesn't tell you about, but it's worth unlocking: if you donate 20k to the Albero church donation box, you gain the ability to fast travel between shrines rather than just the portal rooms.
Damn, that's even more tears I'd need to grind out! D: Although I just realized that the bramble stuff was actually a sidequest I could've done a while ago. Not sure how I feel about that.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
There's an improved fast travel method that the game doesn't tell you about, but it's worth unlocking: if you donate 20k to the Albero church donation box, you gain the ability to fast travel between shrines rather than just the portal rooms.
I more-or-less 100%-ed that game outside of some obscure DLC bullshit and I had no idea this was a thing. Sounds like it would have been useful!
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
On a whim flipping through the backlog, having recently finished Void Bastards (which I recommend!), I decided to try out Dead Space. What an unusual style of action-horror game! It's very... methodical? "Ah, monster. Shoot leg, shoot leg, change to vertical fire mode, shoot arm." I imagine it'll get more chaotic later, but thus far it does quite feel like an engineer's mindset toward combat, haha.
 
I'd also recommend Dead Space Extraction, for all your light gun shooting needs. It's available for the Wii and PS3 (although you have to buy a special deluxe version of Dead Space 2, I think).
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
I would simply recommend Dead Space 2, which is the Aliens to the original game's Alien. Not nearly as scary, but an incredibly polished action romp with dismemberment and ridiculous plot beats in equal measure.
 

Mr. Sensible

Pitch and Putt Duffer
Picked up Onimusha: Warlords for PS2 over the weekend and upon booting it up I was instantly transported back to early 2001. I first played it at a friend-of-a-friend's house before I owned my own PS2 console, and I remember being absolutely floored by the super-advanced PS2 graphics coming out of his CRT television. Playing through the game again, I'm constantly amazed at how many of the plot beats and puzzles I remember despite never owning or renting it, and it's still a solid-ass action title two decades later.

Also, holy shit, this series absolutely embodies the concept of a now-forgotten triple-A franchise. I so rarely hear anyone mention these games today, even after that Oni1 remaster on modern consoles from a couple years back. Presumably it didn't sell well enough for Capcom to bother with properly resurrecting the franchise.
 
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Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Played back through Kirby Planet Robobot over this past couple of weeks. Sitting at 91% completion. Still a lot of fun! ESP Ability is just insta-win, Kirby using a robot to punch cars is way funnier than it should be, and the boss escalation is about what you’d expect from the franchise. The only thing I’d want is for my racked up lives to not reset when I quit and continue, and I kinda wish the sticker collectibles did something. Super fun though!
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Started playing Banners of Ruin

Get the negatives out of the way; the controls are pretty unintuitive, especially with a controller (presumably much easier with a mouse or touch-screen). Nothing ruinous, but enough that there's a lot more of a learning curve than you'd expect for a game about navigating menus.

This is basically a cross between Slay the Spire, Darkest Dungeon and Redwall. You navigate the alleyways of a sprawling city in chaos, use deckbuilder RPG combat in order to beat enemies, and also everyone is varmints and the art style is really nice.

Only had a couple of runs so far, including the tutorial, but I'm really taken with it so far.

 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I started Pikmin 3 a couple of days ago. I'm on exploration day 20 or so, and that's gotten me to a few days into the fourth? fifth? area, where I just got blue pikmin and have been tracking "Olimar" (actually Louie) after we saved him but the fucker ran off with our juice.

I really like it so far! I'm still trying to figure out how to effectively juggle 2 crews, which I almost have the hang of, but 3 is out of reach so far. I really like the exploration and puzzle-solving on the world map, though. There's also the constant Metroidvania-esque tease of locations and fruit and such just out of reach that I've had to file away to go back to now that I finally have all five pikmin types.

My biggest gripe would be that some stuff is kind of awkward (like timing the color-changing growth buttons, especially for big ones or the pink fliers). Fighting things, especially, can be really awkward. Sometimes I'm not sure what the difference between beating a monster without losing any pikmin and getting a handful of my crew eaten is. The boss fights are a combination of interesting twists on and tests of the mechanics and long, boring slogs (depending on the fight).

Scratch that, biggest grip is that they didn't call the rock pikmin "rokmin."
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Ni No Kuni 2 is a staggering improvement over the first game.

Turns out that making a game a fast paced action RPG instead of a weird clunky midpoint between Tales and Pokémon was a good decision
 
first i will complain, that d4dj groovy mix is just not designed well for phone screens despite ostensibly being made for them. everything is cluttered on the bottom half of the screen, which has 5 buttons, 2 turntables, and a slider. there seems to be some leeway and attempted programming to decide what you finger/thumb is trying to do when it hits one of those zones that intersects between a few, but it never feels not messy and especially since the slider will snap to your finger if you press there, i've had tons of slip ups where everything goes wonky and i miss 5 notes or whatever.

but i'm putting it here because it's really a delightful bite sized game with a lot of charm and a surprisingly good tracklist (and they add like a few songs a month depending on their constant events and tie-ins). it's also a game which is really undemanding about its gacha. it's about getting more points, which helps with some rewards and whatnot, but rarely affects gameplay at all. I think maybe the only thing is that, since whatever idol characters you select have skills that both increase points and tension (the bar that when it goes zero you fail) better characters means you can miss more notes and still pass, but it's probably negligible and this is a rhythm game so you want to hit every note anyway.
 
I got Hoa from Gamefly and it's just lovely. Simple platforming but rewarding, nothing stays out its welcome, and of course stunningly gorgeous. Apparently it's quite short, I haven't beaten it but am absolutely loving how peaceful it is.
 

Becksworth

Aging Hipster Dragon Dad
I’m not sure I’d recommend Neo: The World Ends With You over the DS original, but I would definitely recommend it over any of the attempts to remake the original on newer platforms.
Beat it finally, and I’d still agree with this. I think the original’s story was better, but sequel is probably the more accessible one, both in terms of the gameplay being reworked to work with a conventional controller while still feeling TWEWY…y, in terms of the main character not being so abrasive at the beginning like in the original, and just in terms of being able to find a decent version of the game in general.
 
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