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Hey, Talking Time, Whatcha Playin?

ASandoval

Old Man Gamer
(he/him)
Chrono Trigger is my favorite game and I play it once every couple of years but I had never really tried to master it, so I decided to try a low level run for the first time. I don't normally do challenge runs but the regular game is fairly breezy so I figured it wouldn't give me much trouble.

For the most part, it didn't! It felt like a decently average, semi-tense RPG like a PS2 era Megami Tensei, which made for a nice change of pace!

... And then I got to Magus and realized that was basically an end runner without dexterous fingers that I normally do not possess, at least without changing the ATB system back to Wait mode and even then it'd be a gamble. Oh well, t'was fun while it lasted.
 
Playing Hollow Knight. Have been lost looking for the stuff for the true ending, but found a promising area. Then encountered some extremely difficult platforming. I wondered if it might be the famous Path of Pain platforming, so I googled to check.

Nope. Turns out I am on the right path, but also I must clear this area replete with buzzsaw perils galore to get the widget I need to get the other thing I need to see everything.
 

Exposition Owl

Hoot, indeed!
(he/him/his)
I started Luigi’s Mansion 3, which is fun and charming, but I do have one major complaint. Luigi’s ghost dog is named Polterpup, which is OK as a name, I guess, but Puppergeist was right there.
 

Paul le Fou

AAAAAAAA
(He)
In addition to trying to finally play through Gravity Rush, I've also gone back to poking at Murder by Numbers in a vain attempt to finish some older games before I dive into new ones. Like Hades. But also I want to play Hades.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I'm still playing Breath of the Wild, but now I'm jumping around between it, still trying to finish the post-game in Dragon Quest XI, and continuing 13 Sentinels. I need to wrap up some of these things before Age of Calamity officially comes out in 3 weeks!
 
The faces in Oblivion are infamously bad, but even knowing that this cutscene near the start of the post-tutorial main quest cracked me up. (Character appears about ~30 seconds in.)

 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
It never stopped amazing me that Oblivion put so much work into sculpting those creepy nightmare faces then attached them to such hideously modeled bodies. You can see the seam where the neck model's supposed to attach to the torso model prominently on display like it's some early Dreamcast game instead of one released in 2006.

I mean, Morrowind looked like a higher res PSone game or something but its graphical abstraction counted for a lot. Oblivion's trying for a more realistic look but dove headfirst into the uncanny valley.
 
Yeah I'm going Skyrim-->Morrowind-->Oblivion and so it really sticks out as the worst of all worlds style.

With this face in addition to the obvious seam there's also just the issue that there's a kind of small zone centered around the mouth that seems to be going for realism but once you move out of that zone it's a cartoon again. Comparing the mouth to the forehead/hairline area, for example. Something about the gap between that realism zone around the mouth and the rest of the face makes it feel like it's a man wearing a rubber mask with a mouth hole, pretending to be an elf.
 

Vidfamne

Half Machine Beak Moves
Pokemon TCG via TTSim ("lol covid") with a friend who was understandably never fond of the "franchise", but who ended up loving the game mechanically. We've been playing the Base--Jungle and Base--Jungle--Fossil constructed formats, with me bringing two decks and him getting the choice ("I cut, you choose"). For us, a game usually takes 90 minutes. If you want to read some more about the game, click the spoiler:

The TCG has two main victory conditions: take six prize cards (earned by defeating enemy creatures, i.e. pokemon, in combat), or deck out the opponent. A third one is essentially linked to the first one (exhausting the opponent's bench, i.e. creature reserve). In our bouts up to now, I've always brought one stall deck and one aggro deck. One point of interest compared to MtG is that in this format at least, there really isn't a "blowout" win condition unless one side gets an unlucky starting hand. If you're stall, you can't suddenly take six prizes in a turn. Nor are there "wrath effects" that clear the board, but because creature combat is limited to 1-on-1 (the "active" pokemon), with both players able to rotate their active creature into the reserve, board states are almost assured to have long-term strategic implications. Combat tricks usually involve rotating in/out -- or forcing your opponent to do so -- rather than adding bursts of damage, though the one card that does this (PlusPower) is tremendous. Healing is also potent, but usually costs energy cards.

Everybody who has played or read about this format knows how powerful the "trainer cards" are. The first reason is that they cost no resources, unlike most pokemon, which usually require "energy cards" attached to them -- which can regularly be done only once per turn -- lest they cannot attack or retreat. The second is that their effects are on the level of "discard your hand, draw seven" (Prof. Oak) or "discard two: fetch any card from your deck" (Computer Search) or Energy Removal / Super Energy Removal -- or Lass, for that matter.

What isn't immediately apparent, especially if MtG is your usual kitchen-table fling, is that "discard your hand, draw seven" is fair and balanced in the format, to the point that it's not even best practice for all decks to run four copies. Simply put, there is almost no way to mill the opponent directly, and so the best way to achieve deck advantage is to coax the beatdown into playing Oak. The other reason is that while Item Finder can fetch trainers from the graveyard (for discarding two other cards) and Energy Retrieval or "Black Star" Mewtwo can fetch energy quite cheaply, there is no way in this format to recover a discarded pokemon; and in any case, since both players can generally expect to draw most, if not all of their deck in any given game of Base--Jungle(--Fossil), the pressure of long-term resource management is real. Moreover, discarding Oak to Oak feelsbadman.

The plethora of strong trainers and usually hair-thin margin of deck advantage also means that the "Pot of Greed" equivalent (Bill) isn't even a one-of in stall decks. Surprise and terror!

Of course, by and large, the generic strength of the trainer cards makes them staples or at least viable niche cards in both aggro and stall, even if finding the right amount for each is a secret art. What's interesting is that both sides use the same cards for different strategic objectives -- this is most apparent in the Energy Removals -- and that this is strongly interactive. Ideally, you want to remove your opponent's rarer flavour of energy or a Double Colorless Energy (the local Sol Ring), but with both players knowing this, baiting out ER on DCE becomes a tactic -- and it's great when you force your opponent to spend their SER afterwards in a less-than-comfortable position.

The heart of all the tactical interaction lies in the pokemon, of course. Some have to be placed on others ("evolved"). These generally flounder in the format, because their attacks are usually overcosted so they get trivially ER'd into uselessness, all the while your opponent can build up multiple actors. There are very notable exceptions, though. The non-evolvers are called Basics, and shape the format.

The generality by design, yet specificity by emergent "metagame" of the weakness/resistance/retreat cost system is ingenious and exemplary, and creates "second-order niches" for apparently-inferior cards all by itself. Here's an overview of the critters that my friend and I have sent into combat so far:

Hitmonchan
Basic / 70 HP (hitpoints) / Fighting type / weakness: Psychic (x2 damage) / retreat cost: 2 (energy)

JAB and SPECIAL PUNCH. The former requires 1 Fighting energy (the type system is substantially the MtG "color wheel") and inflicts 20 HP damage. The latter requires 2 Fighting + 1 Colorless (any), inflicting 40. To put it mildly, in this format with its Energy Removals, your opponent is not going to let anything have 3 energy attached to it, if they can help it, but this doesn't make the second attack worthless -- it's an urgent clock that forces out ER / SER earlier than your opponent might want it.

This is the key "generic" basic of the format, even though it's actually not first-rate if you play with Fossil and the Black Star Mewtwo; nonetheless, all creatures must first measure up to Hitmonchan's simple, but effective toolkit. While Fighting hits the weaknesses of a good variety of other key actors, it comes up as a resistance quite often as well. Psychic weakness is laughably irrelevant in Base--Jungle, but becomes a lethal weak spot with Mewtwo in the format's pool, which has an intrinsic one-hit KO (OHKO) on Chan.

Another strike against Chan is that all the other Fighting-types are worthless; the next-best is Machop, which has 50 HP, retreat cost 1, and no SPECIAL PUNCH -- in effect, Hitmonchan Lite; this makes its strong "devotion" to Fighting energy a notable drawback.

Electabuzz
Basic / 70 HP / Electric type / weakness: Fighting / retreat cost: 2

Thundershock is a 10-damage hit for 1 Lightning energy that can paralyze on a coin-flip (i.e. target can't attack or retreat next turn). For 1 Lightning + 1 Colorless, Thunderpunch deals either 40 damage (coin lands on heads), or 30 with 10 to Electabuzz itself.

The Buzz thus takes ER much better than Hitmonchan, gets a 75% 2HKO on the crew of 70HP basics, and when the damage race is a lost cause, it gets potent disruption half the time. On the flip side, Electabuzz is also unpredictable in your own plans and Wigglytuff kills it more readily and without danger to itself than Hitmonchan. Obviously, Chan itself also poses a threat to this, which is why you usually see it paired up with Scyther or Mewtwo to counter Jackie. I'd argue that it's better than Chan, not least because it's the Basic with the best odds against Mewtwo.

Scyther (Jungle)
Basic / 70 HP / Grass type / weakness: Fire / resistance: Fighting (-30 damage) / retreat cost: 0 (!)

Swords Dance costs 1 Grass energy, and doubles the damage of Slash next turn (only). Slash costs 3 Colorless, dealing 30 damage. Scyther's sole damage-dealing attack looks costly, but is a perfect match for Double Colorless Energy. This sets up obvious pressure on your opponent simply by attaching any energy to it. Scyther doesn't even really need Grass energy to function, which is another specific advantage to it.

Due to its resistance, even energyless Scyther completely owns Hitmonchan simply by parking in front of it. Your opponent will have to switch or lose all control of the battlefield, and Hitmonchan is costly to retreat whereas Scyther does it for free. This makes it a desirable inclusion in any deck that wants an answer to Chan, while not being dead weight against other foes -- if, after taking a KO or playing Scoop Up or the like, you don't want to commit to any specific match-up yet, simply send in Scyther on the interim, and retreat when the time is right.

While Scy is not a great offensive pokemon (no 40-damage attack), it is a serviceable cleaner when resources have been exhausted on both sides.

Magmar (Fossil)
Basic / 70 HP / Fire type / weakness: Water / retreat cost: 1

Smokescreen deals 10 damage for 1 Fire energy and flips a coin; if heads, the opposing pokemon's attack does nothing next turn (this effect is on the mon, so retreating bypasses it). Smog deals 20 for 2 Fire and poisons (take 10 damage at the end of each player's turn; retreating ends the effect).

Water is nigh-on irrelevant in the format, so Magmar is the one Basic with no weakness in most match-ups. This allows a healthy Magmar to force nearly everything to switch, but Scyther especially has to run for the woods. Despite its seemingly defensive character, friend and I have found that Magmar's real strength lies in its absurdly good match-ups against every single more defensive pokemon, while bringing some versatility and disruption (and low retreat cost) to all other match-ups. Stall decks hate this thing, because Smog doesn't care much about your disruption -- once the poison has been inflicted, you are on the clock. This gives aggro a chance to turn the tables on the beatdown role, and cheaply control the field.

Magmar's main drawback is the very specific energy it demands, and Fire really has nothing else besides the decent Ponyta/Rapidash line and the very role-specific Moltres.

Mewtwo ("Black Star" Wizards Promo)
Basic / 70 HP / Psychic type / weakness: Psychic / retreat cost: 2

Energy Absorption costs 1 Psychic energy, and while it deals no damage, it allows you to attach two basic Energy cards from your discard pile to Mewtwo. Psyburn is the Psychic energy version of Hitmonchan's Special Punch.

The Energy Absorption effect is tremendous, combining itself handily with all the trainers demanding discards (Computer Search, Item Finder...) and allowing Mewtwo to bypass the per-turn energy limit "Land Lotus Juzam" style. Hilariously, the best answer to Mewtwo is sometimes your own Mewtwo, leading to a mutual forcing-out of Energy Removals which are necessary, yet inefficient here (and this makes Mewtwo great as well); the more consistent option, though, is to slam a Colorless pokemon with a Psychic resistance in front of it. Mr. Mime also works very well.

There is only one other good Psychic: Mew. See below. Edit: Come to think of it, I forgot Fossil Gastly.

Lickitung (Jungle)
Basic / 90 HP / Colorless type / weakness: Fighting / retreat cost: 3

Only the first attack matters. For 1 Colorless, Lick inflicts 10 and might paralyze. Lickitung's 90 HP and Mewtwo resistance make this move deceptively strong. If you run this, you had better pair it up with 4x Scoop Up, because its retreat cost is, in effect, prohibitive.

I repeat: this threatens to beat Mewtwo in this format. "Someone page TheSL." It can also exchange blows with Basics for a while, but it won't win against most of them. Lickitung's main purpose is to stall repeatedly through healing and disruption; it does this better than Chansey, Kangaskhan or Snorlax, which are similar in their roles, but far worse at disruption or thousand-cut threats. Core piece of all the stall decks in the format.

Wigglytuff (Jungle)
Evolved (Stage 1) / 80 HP / Colorless type / weakness: Fighting / resistance: Psychic / retreat cost: 2

Lullaby costs 1 Colorless and makes the defending pokémon fall asleep, making it unable to attack/retreat for an unpredictable number of turns (flip a coin after each player's turn; wakes up if heads). DO THE WAVE costs 3 Colorless and deals 10 damage plus 10 for each pokemon on your bench (i.e. the aforementioned reserve). This had better mean 60 at all times.

Wigglytuff evolves from Jigglytuff. This is Talking Time, you all know this. Jigglypuff is a decent Basic in its own right, if unplayable if not for its evolution; it has 50 HP, the same Lullaby, and can deal 20 for 2 Colorless. Lullaby buys it time if it's forced into the active position, and 50 HP save it from easy Jab / Thunderpunch OHKOs. Suffice to say that most evolving Basics are not even this capable of self-defense, which is another reason that the format is sparse on evolution.

Once Wiggly is in, though, you get to DO THE WAVE every turn to kill every relevant aggro Basic with a simple PlusPower (trainer, +10 damage for this turn) or with any prior damage. Mewtwo can't even strike back, and things like Lickitung still get 2HKO'd. Lullaby gets Wiggly a shot at bypassing enemy disruption and, more notably, Mr. Mime, which also can't touch Tuff under most circumstances.

This thing is the main reason why Hitmonchan remains relevant in Base/Jungle/Fossil, and the main stallbreaker in the format, as neither Lickitung nor Mr. Mime can stop this forever.

Mr. Mime (Jungle)
Basic / 40 HP / Psychic type / weakness: Psychic / retreat cost: 1

It has just one attack, Meditate: for 1 Psychic and 1 Colorless, it deals 10 damage plus 10 for each 10 damage already inflicted on the opposing pokemon. What catapults Mr. Mime into the competition is its Pokemon Power (= ability), Invisible Wall: attacks that would deal more than 20 damage to it simply don't deal any at all (but this stops working while Mime is paralyzed/asleep/confused; of these, only sleep really matters, because the others always vanish before you can attack again, and aside from attacks, nothing useful inflicts the other conditions). Scyther and Mewtwo are left scratching their heads, and Electabuzz, while probably winning, must deal 10 damage apiece. The situation is less clear against Wigglytuff, as Do The Wave most usually ends up blocked but Lullaby is a 25% shot to OHKO an asleep Mime with Do The Wave. Absurdly enough, Jigglypuff wipes the floor with Mr. Mime even more decisively. Mime also hates the presence of Muk, see below, and Fossil Magmar, which simply clicks Smog to win.

While Mime is thus unviable as the sole piece in your defense, it goes well with Lickitung. Also, much as Mime can be overwhelmed by Wigglytuff, it still forces Tuff decks to play their Tuff and attach energy to it, setting them up for Energy Removal -- or Gust of Wind. They might threaten field advantage again soon, but you've won a resource management victory by all likelihood.

Ditto (Jungle)

Ditto has stats, but they usually don't matter because Ditto does what Ditto does, immediately turning into a copy of the current opposing pokémon in all respects. This effect subsides if Ditto gets slept/paralyzed/confused, making it a 50 HP standard-fare Colorless Basic with no attacks at all. Ditto has one major advantage, though, in that all energy attached to it is treated as providing energy of any type -- extending to Double Colorless Energy, even, making it a sure bet to win tempo on Hitmonchan/Electabuzz, which regularly can't make use thereof.

On the flip side, if Ditto copies a 30HP basic with a 20-damage attack (such as Rattata), and the opponent has a PlusPower, it dies with very little glamour. This is a surprisingly useful 1-of tech.

Ditto is a decent option for both stall and aggro, although it doesn't help aggro much vs. stall and it doesn't help stall at all vs. Muk-sporting aggro, because Muk shuts off all Pokemon Powers, of which Ditto's transformation is one.

----

I'll cut it short here for now, maybe I'll add Muk and Dodrio later. For now, "they're good" must suffice.

TLDR: The Base/Jungle/Fossil format is full of interactive, short-term tactics, generic fetchers for deck and discard pile, and rubberbanding without having complete blowouts; the card pool is small but offers many decisions both on quantity and quality; long-term resource management is well demanded (due to all the discards, Energy Removals, and little deck space for energy lest you lose on mons/trainers) and rewarded; unless someone's opening hand is unlucky, you're probably in for a long and tense game where skill matters far more than luck, and both players will see 90% of their decks at least. Play it!

Neither of us has yet found out how to stop Wigglytuff aggro consistently with stall. I won my Lickitung stall v. Wiggly-Muk game, but barely, because he got to Muk very late and made one tactical misstep with his Magmar vs. double Mimes.
We're going to play Dodrio v. Rain Dance tomorrow, if all goes well (so aggro vs. aggro for once).

I think I'll either skip over the other Wizards sets, though, or at most introduce selected cards from them, before moving on to the EX format, once my friend gets sufficiently hooked on this to want to try deckbuilding. Or does, by chance, someone with a passion for "retro" Pokemon TCG want to advocate for a certain format?
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
I love me some retro Pokemon TCG. Interesting to read about your meta -- for us, it was definitely similar in most respects, but some of those threats were just not part of our meta. Ditto in particular is not a card I ever saw. But big basics were definitely king of the heap.

I stopped playing a little after the Team Rocket expansion, so the formats you're discussing are the ones with which I'm most familiar. Maybe I'll have to check out the TTS mods. Is there one you recommend?
 
I've been curious about Windbound since I heard about it, but the initial reviews were buggy. But they did two big patches in September and October and it's 20% off right now! I'm having a lot of fun, although quickly decided Survivalist mode is above my skill level and switched back to the "keep your items when you die" one.

Then I found the special weapon from the Halloween DLC and oh man combat is way easier now.
 

Vidfamne

Half Machine Beak Moves
I love me some retro Pokemon TCG. Interesting to read about your meta -- for us, it was definitely similar in most respects, but some of those threats were just not part of our meta. Ditto in particular is not a card I ever saw. But big basics were definitely king of the heap.

I stopped playing a little after the Team Rocket expansion, so the formats you're discussing are the ones with which I'm most familiar. Maybe I'll have to check out the TTS mods. Is there one you recommend?
We've been using this mod, which is somewhat lightweight despite the gigantic card pool, as card images are only downloaded (from pkmncards.com) when required. The only issue I've noticed is that the Search menu will occasionally show the wrong images for the cards. This is usually fixed by closing and re-opening it.

I was far too young to play Pokemon TCG competitively when these formats were current, but I did fiend it with other kids -- and the GBC game, of course -- so BJF is the format I'm most familiar with, too. Someone who knows the modern TCG well invited me to watch Worlds 2018 on Twitch (because it was on before VGC18), and even wrote me a primer so I could follow better, but I don't remember much of that, unfortunately, besides us both being disgusted by Dedenne ex.

Yeah, I think e.g. Lickitung was never really used contemporarily, but this would be difficult to check -- the only source for TCG discussion that existed then and now seems to be Pojo. Interestingly, the first Card of the Day (Lt. Surge's Fearow line, from the Gym block) does mention the anti-Ditto tech tip. There's only four articles in this column from 2000, though -- everything else is from 2017 onwards.

The Rocket set introduced Rocket's Sneak Attack and Dark Vileplume (actually the first rare I ever pulled from a booster, in a perfume store, which at the time I certainly considered a slice of wonderland), which were far more oppressive than anything before them, and pretty much nothing else of value. Then came The Rocket's Trap in Gym block... -- I remember reading that many players quit around that time, and that the EX block (now under The Pokemon Company's aegis) fortuitously turned a dying game around.

-- Update: I got blown out by Rain Dance on about T5 lol.

Simply put, I was forced to lead Mew as my only basic, he placed Squirtle, wisely refrained from evolving or attaching energy until he Oaked himself the energy to OHKO squishy 50HP Mew (discarding another Oak). I had drawn Mr. Mime and a 50HP basic (Doduo?), saving me from immediate disaster, but he had another Squirtle to threaten Mime; I played Super Energy Removal + Gust of Wind to force Blastoise back out, but he Oaked again, chain-paralyzed Mr. Mime with Squirtle's Bubble so that I couldn't retreat it; I asked whether he held 4 Water energy again, he said yes, and I scooped. Not my finest series of interesting decisions (tm), probably because there were none to make.

There's a lesson to be had, though: Mew + Mime can't handle Rain Dance -- indeed, it's Rain Dance that puts them on the back foot. Use Buzz with Dodrio, or die in this matchup.
 
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conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
(he/him/his)
Toki Tori 2, one of the all-time great puzzle-platformers and search-actioners, was (and still is!) on sale on the Switch for a mere $2, so I snapped that up.

As a puzzle-platformer, Toki Tori 2 has the really clever idea where Toki Tori can do very little by itself (just whistle and stomp), but can use those to direct and manipulate the creatures and environment around it, and create paths forward that way. But the real genius of the game is how this concept is adapted to a search action structure. Toki Tori, the avatar, never acquires any new abilities— the player simply learns new ways to read the environment and apply their abilities. So, progress is effectively gated only by one's own knowledge… meaning an observant player can break from the intended path with ease.

And since I'm replaying the game, I'm using my existing knowledge of the game to do just that. Turns out you can break sequence on the very first screen! I've already found my way to one of the five macguffins by heading this way, and I'm excited to see just how wide open this game can get.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
It’s been about 20 years since the last time I played Lufia 2 and wow, I remembered enjoying it but I had forgotten how good it really is!

This games got some of, if not the best dungeon design I’ve ever seen in an RPG, and the localization is shockingly solid for a game of this enviroment

Now, I have already run across a fair few weird bugs, but nothing ruinous as of yet. Those are end game things.
 

karzac

(he/him)
Started Prey (2017) the other day. What a cool fucking game and a truly great opening (even if I already knew the spoiler). Definitely feeling the System Shock vibes (although I feel them by way of Bioshock, having never played SS). And it's two main hooks - the Mimics and the GLOO gun - are both awesome.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Toki Tori 2, one of the all-time great puzzle-platformers and search-actioners, was (and still is!) on sale on the Switch for a mere $2, so I snapped that up.

As a puzzle-platformer, Toki Tori 2 has the really clever idea where Toki Tori can do very little by itself (just whistle and stomp), but can use those to direct and manipulate the creatures and environment around it, and create paths forward that way. But the real genius of the game is how this concept is adapted to a search action structure. Toki Tori, the avatar, never acquires any new abilities— the player simply learns new ways to read the environment and apply their abilities. So, progress is effectively gated only by one's own knowledge… meaning an observant player can break from the intended path with ease.

And since I'm replaying the game, I'm using my existing knowledge of the game to do just that. Turns out you can break sequence on the very first screen! I've already found my way to one of the five macguffins by heading this way, and I'm excited to see just how wide open this game can get.

Yes, I get the feeling about ten years down the line people will realise what a masterpiece it is.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
(he/him/his)
I seem to have hit a minor stumbling block in Toki Tori 2: after finding three of five macguffins, it doesn't seem like I can make it to the other side of the world map, where the last two reside, without returning to the 'main' path. Alas! I was so hoping the game could be finished without ever seeing the splash screen…
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
I picked up Toki Tori 2+ on your recommendation. It's a very clever game!
 

karzac

(he/him)
So here's a gripe about Prey - the control remapping sucks. For some reason, certain sets of actions are paired together - so "toggle sneaking" and "eat food" always have to be the same key. And you can remap "Enter Focus Mode" but not "Exit Focus Mode" - that's always mapped to Mouse 3 for some dumb reason. What's the point of being able to remap some controls but not others? So annoying.
 

Aeonus

Still not amused
(he/him)
I'm working my way through Dragon Force II (Saturn) patched into English. The first Dragon Force (localized by Working Designs) was a particular favorite of mine and my brother's back in the day, and this is really taking me back.

If you're not familiar (and you probably aren't!), Dragon Force is a strategy game/RPG about picking one of 8 nations, uniting the rest of the continent/world under your banner and then defeating evil forever! I ended up getting pretty long-winded about how the games work, so let's put it under a spoilerpop!

You do this by moving your armies around a interconnected map of castles, and resolving battles by dropping two opposing, immobile generals on opposite ends of a 2d plane with up to 100 troops each. You attack the enemy troops and generals by issuing broad commands to your troops (advance! retreat! standby!) or using your general's MP on skills. If both sides run out of troops, the generals can duel, trading hits until one runs out of HP.

Troops come in a variety of types from the mundane (soldiers! cavalry! archers!) to the fantastical (harpies! zombies! dragons!) with a big ol' chart denoting which types are strong against which other types. Generals' skills start out pretty simple with things like throwing a fireball across the map to hurt the enemy general, but at high levels you learn to do things like send 5 shockwaves in parallel lines across the battlefield, killing the troops in their way and damaging the general, that can really change the balance of a fight. Defeating enemy generals (or sometimes if they run away at low health) means you capture them as POWs who can then be recruited after enough time passes, or in some cases, after you capture their nation's leader. After a certain amount of time passes on the strategic map, you are called upon to take care of 'domestic affairs,' which takes you to a menu. Here you award medals (earned by winning combats) or weapons/items (found randomly in occupied castles) to your generals, allowing them to command more troops or increasing their stats, or upgrade castles to give them a larger bonus to defenders and allow them to hold a larger number of troops to replenish your ranks.

So the decisions you're making at the strategic level are about how to deploy your armies to win fights and claim castles and level up, and in fights, how to manage your resources (troops and the general's HP & MP) to win --- or at least to lose in a way that still improves your strategic position. The big mechanical change of Dragon Force II over the first one is that you can now bring up to two types of troops into any fight, who can be commanded independently of each other. You can use this feature to try and maximize your type coverage, or give your generals some backup mages or archers, who can attack the enemy general from a safe distance once the enemy troops are wiped out.

The real fun of Dragon Force II is that, if you want to emulate it, there is apparently only one specific older version of one Saturn emulator that can play it correctly to the end, and if you want it not to crash with 200 troops in a battle, you need to change the settings in a specific way! Also, the emulator doesn't load games from files, so you need to either burn the game or mount it in a virtual optical drive. It is probably the most work I've ever had to put in just to play one game.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
I booted up the THPS1+2 remake today. While the nostalgia factor is very high, these games are harder than I remembered! It should be fun to rebuild some of that muscle memory.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Owing to my zesty love of Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale, I picked up its predecessor, Meteorfall: Journey. And am happy to report that it’s a different beast that complements its sequel but is different enough that it doesn’t feel redundant. And also, it’s just as good. It, too, is a deck building roguelite, but it plays extremely differently, and doesn’t suck up my phones battery anywhere near as quickly.

Gameplay is made up of being dealt a card from a deck that represents a full dungeon, each card being either a monster, treasure or event, with a boss monster popping up when you’re done. You can bypass any card you want, but that will leave you underequipped for the boss fight. Combats a matter of swiping either right, to activate a card at the cost of stamina, or left to consume a card and recover stamina; real easy to grasp and extremely well suited for mobile play.

It’s every bit as well suited for Terlet Play as its little brother, but Mischief the Riffraff isn’t as OP so that’s a mark against it
 
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is a pretty impressive feat for a DS game, but boy is it a nightmare of a video game otherwise. Even by the series already low standards to that point.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
It’s been about 20 years since the last time I played Lufia 2 and wow, I remembered enjoying it but I had forgotten how good it really is!

This games got some of, if not the best dungeon design I’ve ever seen in an RPG, and the localization is shockingly solid for a game of this enviroment

Now, I have already run across a fair few weird bugs, but nothing ruinous as of yet. Those are end game things.

The dialogue is surprisingly good for a mid 90s JRPG.
 
Got Gamepass again for a month or so and am excited to pick The Messenger back up. Also to play Carto, I liked the demo on Steam but my laptop couldn't handle it for too long. And Elder Scrolls Online, I like the routine that game grants me, and I feel like it's even easier to ignore all PvP stuff now too which is ideal for me.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
I think I suck at this Hades game, but once I got the hang of this hundred currency types thingie I started having fun, even if the first boss destroys me every time.
 

StriderDL

Still just a dad
(He/him/his)
Vampyr was free with PS+ so I'm taking a break from present day coronavirus epidemic to early 20th century influenza epidemic, now with vampires! It has some rough edges but I think I like it.
 
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