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Beating Games

fanboymaster

(He/Him)
Judgment is in the books, all side cases complete. The game has its issues, both common with its parent series and unique to itself but it had a compelling plot that finished strong. If I had my wishlist for a sequel it'd be making the crane style not kinda worthless, nixing the entire Keihin gang concept (most especially the character whose personality is just "fat" but really the entire thing just isn't very interesting) and cut way the hell down on the tailing missions. In general the game uses a lot of the ingredients of Yakuza to create a very different mood and style so I think there's a lot of potential in further Judgment games. It feels like the game as released has a lot of half-implemented systems meant to lend more detective flavor and I'd be interested in expansions on the ideas around disguises, lockpicking and infiltration but they really only show up in a handful of places in this game and feel more like partly implemented concepts than gamechangers.

This all isn't to say I didn't have a great time with the game, just that it feels like a Judgment 2 would really shine.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Picked up TimeSpinner again after abandoning it months ago.
I completed my playthrough(s) of this the other night. There are a few achievements I could try to get but they require doing things I'm not interested in it that I have found too difficult so I am OK with leaving those checkboxes empty.

Overall I think this is a good game and enjoyable but not necessarily a great game. The sound and graphics (a sort of enhanced 16 bit look) are good but some of the critter designs are maybe too cute - I started to feel bad about attacking them at one point. The controls and combat are solid but I think I should I should have mapped the magic attack to a different button - it was a bit hard to juggle using it and dodge attacks with the default control scheme. The "weapon upgrade" system was interesting but it felt like it was too hard to get much benefit from it and maybe it should have been designed differently.

In another thread someone mentioned that the boss fights felt too easy and didn't really punish you for playing sloppily. I usually play somewhat sloppily so that wasn't such a big deal for me but I do wonder if it's possible to not be sloppy when fighting the bosses - most of them (especially the ones near the end) fill the screen with so much BS I'm not even sure how you're supposed to dodge it. Another thing that can make the boss fights easy are the spells you can get - there's a late game spell that can mess up certain bosses if used correctly.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I would be able to recommend Darksiders Genesis as a fun co-op action game if it weren't so buggy. Crashes, dropped connections, glitches, everything.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
This was a bit ago, but I forgot to mention it: played/beat Dark Souls for the first time, going entirely blind/spoiler-free. I mostly won by just blocking forever and then shooting shit with my crossbow when there was an opening. The only times I found the game challenging was when presented challenges that blocking couldn't solve. I almost got Orstein in Smough on my first attempt (got them to phase 2 but then choked near the end), and then did get them on my second attempt (using the same method I just outlined), which I gather is notable. I was pretty thorough, but apparently I missed the DLC because I didn't hit the hooks in the correct order, but I'm not inclined to go back and chase it down. Anyway, it was a great game! I see why folks like these! I'll probably get around to DS2 at some point; it's on my wishlist.
 
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Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I blazed through Ninja Ryuukenden III again last night. It really is remarkable how much easier it is than Ninja Gaiden III - easily the most accessible on NES.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I recently treated myself to a copy of Kickmaster, one of a handful of NES grails I was still chasing. This is a fairly obscure 1992 Taito platformer in which a kingdom's only hope rests on a guy who is very good at kicking. If this game were made in 2021, it would be written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. However, this game is deadly serious. It opens with Thonolan and his brother, sir Macren, charging into the woods to fight some "scummy skeletons." Macren, who does not know how to kick even a small pebble, dies immediately, leaving Thonolan alone to face the hordes of skeletons, grim reapers, witches, dragons, gargoyles, armadillo guys, and various other badniks. Fortunately, Thonolan is the MASTER OF KICKING.

Or, to be fair, he will be, because the game starts you off at level zero, and if you collect enough experience coins from defeated enemies, you'll gain levels and more kicking techniques in a vein somewhat similar to the NES port of Double Dragon. You'll gain a slide kick, a dive kick, a double roundhouse, a knee drop, some sort of ridiculous spin kick, and several other things, as well as a variety of subweapons in the form of magic spells.

I sat down with this game today with the intention of beating it in one sitting, which I did! It's moderately difficult as NES action games go, but it has unlimited continues, fairly generous checkpoints, a password system, and a deep pool of techniques which give you a leg up if you're smart about them.

I felt pretty good, actually, about figuring out that I could freeze the final boss with the Earthquake spell, and managed to beat her on the third complete pass through the final stage.

The EXP progression keeps the game interesting throughout, and each level has up to two hidden magic spells to search for. Being a latter era NES game, there's plenty of graphical flourish and great music. This is one to check out if you've never heard of it.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Taito published it, but the developer is KID. I have to specify this because they were extremely capable developers for the system; other works by them include Burai Fighter, Isolated Warrior, Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man (an inexplicable personal favourite), the G.I. Joe platformer duology, and the undefeatable system showpiece Summer Carnival '92: Recca. Very much in the dude-action game mold of the era, with stunning technical expertise to power it all. I think people generally like their games but the name is seldom highlighted.

In later years, KID made the import semi-classic Pepsiman for PlayStation--on that team (as a 3D modeler, of all things) was one Kotaro Uchikoshi who went on to be heavily involved in the company's new direction in visual novels, and which eventually made him enough of a creative name in the field so that even people outside of the niche might have heard of him or been exposed to his work; the Zero Escape games are what he's most known for now.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
In turn, I have to specify that KID stands for Kindle Imagine Develop, which is just a superb name for a company.
 

Exposition Owl

Doctor Hoo
(he/him/his)
Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man

I remember really enjoying that game as a rental! Somehow I never realized that it had the subtitle, but I'm so glad it does. I wish more games had that kind of subtitle: Castlevania: The Castle in Transylvania. Excitebike: The Motorbike that is Exciting.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
You didn't tell them the wrinkle about collecting those coins...

Oh, yeah, so, every enemy you kill explodes out no less than three powerups, which fly through the air in three different directions. These can be small or large exp coins, small or large MP refills, life refills, 100-point gems, or damaging skulls. It's pretty hard to collect all the items an enemy drops, and they fall off the screen if you miss them. So when an enemy dies you need to make a split-second judgment of what items it drops, which you think you can grab, and which you need most.

I really liked this system, actually. Enemies almost always drop EXP and MP refills, both of which are pretty important. You just need to learn to recognize the items, and you can almost always get what you need. For the final stage, on my last pass, I was close to max level, so I prioritized the MP refills (since the game never just gives you max MP), and I had 200-plus by the time I got to the final boss, which really helped with defeating her.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Speaking of dude-action games, I set out today with a goal of beating two of them: Kickmaster and Power Blade, both of which I picked up last week at the same time. And I did!



I've owned the Famicom version of this game, Power Blazer, for several years. It's one of many Japan-to-US transitions that resulted in almost a totally different video game. Blazer stars a Mega Man-esque boy hero known as Steve Treiber (though he looks more manly in the manual's illustrations). Blade replaces him with totally-not-Schwarzenegger Chief Security Officer NOVA.

Both Steve and Nova use a boomerang as their primary attack move. Steve can only throw his straight ahead, but Nova can throw in eight directions. Moreover, the world of Power Blade has been expanded and de-cutesified (mostly). Many of the enemies have been redrawn to appear less cartoonish. Also, the levels now have a secondary objective (finding a contact with an ID card) and a new power-up, a mech suit for Nova which gives him three extra hits and a powerful wave attack.

Power Blade is also considerably easier than Blazer. The platforming is more forgiving, and the eight-way shot takes the heat out of several of the boss battles. I think the power-ups also are a bit more "sticky," in that you don't completely lose them upon death.

Blade is inarguably more approachable and rewarding than Blazer. But I do feel like it loses some of its quirky identity in the Toughening Up for the US audience. In a perfect world, I'd love to see a reskinning of Blade with the cartoonish spritework from Blazer. I doubt there's anyone obsessed enough with this game world to do something like that, though.

Anyway, it's a breezy game, with six main levels and a single final stage with a two-phase battle. In relationship to other NES action games of the era, I consider it to be pretty easy. I continued once and didn't lose a life at all on the latter several stages. Good stuff.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I didn't like Power Blazer much at all beyond what you've mentioned. I do find it pretty funny that it's one of the few cases where the game got easier coming to the States, though.

Also, that soundtrack (by Kinuyo Yamashita of Castlevania fame) is rockin'.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Got to the end of the Early Access version of Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. I'm of mixed feelings about this being a licensed game. It's so conservative with the source material. The characters are basically cardboard cutouts of Lodoss War fanart, making incomprehensible quips about rage and love, leading me to suppose that we're headed for an "it was all a dream, an evil wizard did it" sort of anti-reveal ending. It's not like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had a deep, page-turning sort of story, but at least it didn't feel fake, you know?

Still, the animation is beautiful, gameplay is smooth, and it doesn't overstay its welcome with an overly padded-out map. Plus you can cheese your way through half of the boss fights with the first spell they give you, ha.
 

Paul le Fou

ShrimpCerealTopangaHusbandIsAMeTooMilkshakeDuck
(He)
Finished off Manifold Garden, which was one of those trippy/mind-bendy first-person physics puzzle games, this one dealing with infinite spacial recursion and gravity/orientation, with some really cool environment design. I have QUBE and QUBE 2 ready to go, plus the Witness which I understand is similar, but I might switch things up genre-wise instead of diving down a hole. Or not... I seem to be In A Mood.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Got to the end of the Early Access version of Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. I'm of mixed feelings about this being a licensed game. It's so conservative with the source material. The characters are basically cardboard cutouts of Lodoss War fanart, making incomprehensible quips about rage and love, leading me to suppose that we're headed for an "it was all a dream, an evil wizard did it" sort of anti-reveal ending. It's not like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had a deep, page-turning sort of story, but at least it didn't feel fake, you know?

Still, the animation is beautiful, gameplay is smooth, and it doesn't overstay its welcome with an overly padded-out map. Plus you can cheese your way through half of the boss fights with the first spell they give you, ha.

I've been wondering on the status of this game. I loved the trailer.
 

karzac

(he/him)
Finished off Manifold Garden, which was one of those trippy/mind-bendy first-person physics puzzle games, this one dealing with infinite spacial recursion and gravity/orientation, with some really cool environment design. I have QUBE and QUBE 2 ready to go, plus the Witness which I understand is similar, but I might switch things up genre-wise instead of diving down a hole. Or not... I seem to be In A Mood.

Just a heads up: the Witness is not a physics puzzler, it's a logic puzzler. More Sudoku than Portal. It's fantastic, the sort of game that I wish I could forget in order to play fresh, but I just want to be sure you know what you're getting into. Also, get ready to see the world through Jonathan Blow's eyes: by which I mean, get ready to see his bowels, because his head's so far up his ass.
 
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Paul le Fou

ShrimpCerealTopangaHusbandIsAMeTooMilkshakeDuck
(He)
Just a heads up: th Witness is not a physics puzzler, it's a logic puzzler. More Sudoku than Portal. It's fantastic, the sort of game that I wish I could forget in order to lay fresh, but I just want to be sure you know what you're getting into.
Thanks for the heads-up! I am OK with this, regardless.
Also, get ready to see the world through Jonathan Blow's eyes: by which I mean, get ready to see his bowels, because his head's so far up his ass.
Except for that.
 

karzac

(he/him)
Thankfully, that stuff is pretty ignorable. I mean, it's kinda baked into the worldview of the game if you actually sit down and think about it for a while, but it's also easy enough to just enjoy the game as dozens upon dozens of really interesting abstract puzzles.
 
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MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
The Witness is certainly a looker from what I played of it on PS+, but man, I did not like how every puzzle is some kinda panel I have to figure out. I like my scenic adventure game puzzles to take many different forms; even if they do have different kinds of puzzles, it feels really inorganic for basically every puzzle to involve a panel of some kind.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I beat Dragon Spirit: The New Legend on NES. I cheated a little, so purebred true doom shooterheads wouldn't count this as a beat. But I felt sufficiently challenged enough to count it. This is a great game that I almost never hear anyone talking about! It's a remix of the Namco arcade game of similar title, and it's a bit of a spiritual successor to Xevious, with the same air/ground attack duo, but a new fantasy theme and a lot more bells and whistles. There's a ton of variety in the stages, with plenty of interesting environmental challenges showing up in the later stages and some bosses which require specific strategies to defeat.

The game feels quite fair, letting you continue infinitely and handing out power-ups at a rate which never makes you feel as adrift as a game like Gradius. The balance comes from some power-ups being better than others, and some functioning as downgrades, so you have to be careful which ones you pick up.

There's also a fun, organic difficulty select. The game opens with a climactic battle with the final boss of the arcade version of Dragon Spirit. If you win the battle, you proceed to play the game on its normal mode. If you lose the battle, you play on a unique easy mode, which gives you a buffed-up dragon and a much shorter game with its own (hilarious) ending.

I beat the game on normal mode. The cheating came in when I got to the final stage, which is longer than all the others with many more "gotcha" moments and tricks you need to learn. The problem here is that the game takes away your unlimited continues, so any game over kicks you back to the title screen.

I used a stage select cheat to warp myself back to the final stage, trying it over and over until I got it down. If I played again within the next few weeks, I could probably clear the game in one go, but I have other games to play, damn it.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Finally reached the end of RingFit Adventure. Still some side missions to do but soon I might try New Game Plus. But maybe not because I think you can replay the last boss and its the only way for my niece to keep seeing Dragaux. She LOVES Dragaux, AKA Big Big Monster.
 
Finally reached the end of RingFit Adventure. Still some side missions to do but soon I might try New Game Plus. But maybe not because I think you can replay the last boss and its the only way for my niece to keep seeing Dragaux. She LOVES Dragaux, AKA Big Big Monster.
You still see Drageaux! Essentially it's the same animations but different text, he's testing you or something I forget.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I have finished Fatum Betula. All endings (possible on Switch) accounted for.

This game was way shorter than I expected but it was quite a ride while it lasted. The gameplay basically boils down like this:

Step 1: Get your three vials from the scary face.

Step 2: Fill one of the vials with any liquid that's not just water.

Step 3: Dump said liquid into the water back where you met the scary face and watch the trippy ending you got.

While I'm a li'l disappointed the endings all involve the same basic goal (GET LIQUID), I still enjoyed my brief time with the game.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Got to the end of the Early Access version of Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth.
And then this week finished out the full game. It gets a lot better in that back 1/3 that wasn't available until the full release! It still plays it safe with an "it was all a dream" premise, but within those bounds, it does pull off quite a bit of character development and emotional weight. Plus a couple of fun endboss sequences!
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
I completed Super Ghouls N' Ghosts without save states. Aside from picking back where I left off at the beginning of a new stage, of course. After playing through it a number of times, the only really hard part is the 2nd run Stage 7 bosses, which are seemingly designed around around thwarting the otherwise very powerful and useful Goddess Bracelet. It's really good and definitely not skeevy that we learn the Princess' measurements in the credits, and that her name is a pun for boobs in Japanese. Very strong character that I feel invested in rescuing.

I still don't know if I like or hate this series. Maybe I'll get the PSP one that everyone hates before the store is but a memory.
 

Issun

TT's Resident Ace of Base Superfan
Myst was a very different experience from what I was expecting. Not mechanically, but aesthetically. The atmosphere was unexpected but in a very cool way. It may have a clunky interface but it was well worth powering through.
 
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