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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
@Sarge Absolutely love Gate of Thunder. I own a copy and it's been on my list for a long time to finally get through it. One of the first PCE games I tested out (by burning it onto a disc) after I got my system back in 2015.
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
I 1CC'd it a couple of times on Easy and am working on a Normal clear and think I just enjoy everything that puts you off about it. I like that there's a new system (like always) that's solidly themed around the narrative (like always) and which lends a light persistence to Touhou it's not really had before; that the abilities that govern your new toolset are derived from known characters in accordance with their natures is the best kind of flavour that I could ask for, I think. There's a lot about the balance that feels at odds with the neutral immediacy of the shoot 'em up baseline in fresh and aged files being essentially the same as far as the act of play goes, as the cards you purchase during runs and add to your deck grow into a huge difference-maker, but again this connects to one of my favourite aspects about the series in that it's never been afraid to deviate from the norms despite being carried on the developer and audience end by extreme niche enthusiasts with ostensibly very set in stone preferences and expectations. The game feels extraordinarily hard this time on default difficulty, and I think that's nice after a couple of relatively "gentler" games; in turn you now have the ability to precisely customize the manner in which you begin closing that gap; it feels mindful of its own nature in the same way Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom was, in providing the tools to overcome or emotionally "circumvent" the hardships. A number of the ability cards interact with the game in ways that make them feel like they're speaking another language altogether, more in common with the spinoff puzzlers, which is another new interesting variable next to the "get stronger and maybe bomb" paradigm that's still the core of play.

Just very into it and am looking forward to the translation as I really want to know what this new cast is all about beyond audiovisual presence, which remains great. As Antinomy of Common Flowers was about bubble economics, Unconnected Marketeers may end up being about cryptocurrency. A game for our times.
i'm glad you're enjoying it! i really wanted to avoid saying it's bad, because i also have a high regard for zun's work, especially in a holistic sense where even when there's something i don't exactly enjoy about it i generally feel like i understand it, and the experimental and thematic nature of his work is a big part of that appreciation, especially in the case of something like this that uses a kind of fanservice in such a novel and constructive way. in this case, i really do think it mostly is that the genre that's being connected to this time is one that i've never found easy to enjoy in the first place, not some kind of underlying fault in the game
 
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Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I do acknowledge that recovery from death feels especially and uncommonly punitive, and the more I play the more it all feels like genuinely the hardest game in the series to cope with on a base level with the intensity of the patterns, lack of easy outs from them, and the durability of the enemies--absolutely nothing about it is free. I waver between delighting in that and wondering if it's working as intended at the same time... and then I get access to some new tool that flips my habits on its head and it feels like I "get" the game again in how it wants to be interacted with.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
@Dracula: I got my Duo in late 2017. Funnily enough, I still don't have much in the way of legit stuff. Actually, that shouldn't be surprising - it's a very expensive system to collect for. Did make sure to get an EverDrive, though. My drive is finicky about CD-Rs, and if I had to do it over again, I'd get a Duo-R/RX or a base PC Engine with a SSDS3. But I'm livin' the dream, owning a system I'd always wanted! Now about getting a Neo Geo...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Hah, yeah. My PCE collection is the smallest of my retro game collection. I have an everdrive and maybe around a dozen games, and I only pick up new ones every now and then. And even though I have a refurbished CD drive, it's still finnicky.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Good to know - sounds like that's just something that's common with the systems. It's not like my Sega CD or Saturn where I can pretty much throw anything at it and it's like, "Sure, no prob!"
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
@Dracula: I got my Duo in late 2017. Funnily enough, I still don't have much in the way of legit stuff. Actually, that shouldn't be surprising - it's a very expensive system to collect for. Did make sure to get an EverDrive, though. My drive is finicky about CD-Rs, and if I had to do it over again, I'd get a Duo-R/RX or a base PC Engine with a SSDS3. But I'm livin' the dream, owning a system I'd always wanted! Now about getting a Neo Geo...

I got my Duo-R in 2011, and it's honestly bananas the extent to which that particular system's games have gone up. There were always expensive ones (Sapphire, Dracula X), but back then? You could get lots of loose Hueys on eBay for very little. Even a complete copy of Salamander only set me back about $25 then. And I got like five of the wrestling games in a lot for maybe $10?

Neo-Geo, though? I splurged on a Darksoft kit and almost two years into owning one, I still don't have a single official game.

Hah, yeah. My PCE collection is the smallest of my retro game collection. I have an everdrive and maybe around a dozen games, and I only pick up new ones every now and then. And even though I have a refurbished CD drive, it's still finnicky.

Due to the above reasons, my PCE collection is definitely bigger than my 32x or NGPC collection (those libraries' size is also a factor), but yeah, a refurbished drive is a must. Mine hasn't failed me yet. *knocks every piece of wood in the room*
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I feel like if I got a Neo Geo, I'd get one legit cart, and just play the rest on my MiSTer. Although a Darksoft cart is tempting.

Tell you what, maybe I'll make it Magician Lord just for you. ;)

*checks price*

*spits out drink*

Okay, maybe that Darksoft cart is looking better.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Got the Normal 1CC in TH18; Sanae's shot coverage combined with judicious bombing (which I'm historically really bad at in every shooter despite ostensibly knowing better; like I'm somehow "cheating" at the game despite stuff like that nearly always being a central mechanic) was enough to pull it off. The ability cards continue to be really crucially-felt gamechangers conceptually and practically: the one most relevant to my clearing the game was the Yuyuko-themed "Danmaku Ghost" card, which erases a bullet nearby for every few bullets grazed, with basically nothing exempt from its effects--Misumaru's giant Yin-Yang orbs get plopped away the same as anything else, for example. There are just so many permutations to the experience here and discoveries to make along the way.
 
Grats on your clear, Peklo!

I'm not quite at TH18 yet, but I did just finish a couple clears on Hidden Star in Four Seasons, and I've started playing Wily Beast and Weakest Creature. The sheer amount of options I have available at any given time are pretty staggering: so many different ways to get to Roar mode! Undefined Fantastic Object was more straight forward since the UFO activation accomplished the same thing no matter what colors I got, so it was just a matter of "where do I want this screen clear". Feeling out when it's appropriate to go for a Roar mode that isn't aligned with my aligned spirit seems like it'll take time to put together, so it seems like I just need to throw myself at the game until I start to synthesize an understanding instead of trying to plan too much early on - but I need to pick a character and style first haha! I'm excited to spend more time with the game and even catch up to TH18 eventually.

HSiFS is good but my first clear wasn't very satisfying (Reimu, Fall vs Hard). Fall just accomplishes too much without much planning from the player. I could repeatedly use the same release-then-swoop in-and-out pattern vs bosses with dense patterns by their body to crank score, get extends, trivialize the pattern, and rebuild another activation. It doesn't work for every situation, but then I have all those bombs so.... anyway, I cleared Extra stage with Reimu which was actually very fun, the ideas really worked even if it wasn't the toughest Extra stage overall. But, really I think most of my gripe vs HFiFS was influenced by my selection of the Fall subseason, which was great for snagging a first clear but not for getting a good first impression of the game. I replayed again with Marisa (Spring) and enjoyed myself quite a bit more. While Spring can be utilized like Fall in some places, it generally requires much better positioning and planning to achieve decent score, offer protection, or get big cancels. I think if I played again, I would try to make Winter work since I think it's the most interesting from a strategic perspective, but it's very much focused on the planning aspect.

I started with TH6 almost two years ago now after a fateful night where spines related her love of the series and its world, and ever since I've been totally on board. We watched one of Yusuke's WR clears with Sakuya\Lunatic in Perfect Cherry Blossom the other night and it's mind blowing lol! I loved Silent Sinner in Blue, def want to read Wild & Horned Hermit too but it doesn't have printed copies in English, so I may just start into bedtime reading of spines' copies of Forbidden Scrollery. Haven't even started into the Hifuu Club material yet...
 
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Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Probably not that impressive (especially since I "forgot" I'd played through it not terribly long ago), but I managed to 1CC Gun-Nac on NES. Compile really did staff wizards at their company - tremendous programming work in a shooter that feels surprisingly "modern" (with modern being defined as 16-bit/arcade shooters of the time) for the system.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Unconnected Marketeers seems to me to be a fairly direct reaction and meditation from ZUN to COVID-19 and the ways in which he's grappling personally with the effects it's had on how he creates things and puts them out in the world--Comiket's first cancellation in its history last year surely weighed on his mind and fed into the themes of this game, which deals in economics and commerce in related ways to some previous games in the series, but in a more personal way tied up with the idea of trade being a social and intimate exchange on some inherent level and the idea of marketplaces as physical spaces contrasting with their increasing digitalization into facsimiles of that base state over time and how those branches conflict and clash by parties exploiting them from both ends to the detriment of ultimately all. There's a lot packed in here as far as salient thematics go, and in its way that's not a divergence from Touhou's baseline and the kind of consistently applied writing with intent that it's involved increasingly so as ZUN's matured as a person and a creator--it just feels very close to the chest in the topic that's being covered, and cathartic to an appropriate degree in turn.

Also there's a literal bug princess you fight in a cave, so there's that too.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I managed a legit win in Seirei Senshi Spriggan. It's very much a Compile game. It's very good, but I still think it's missing a special spark. I'm probably pretty weird in that I think Space Megaforce is one of my favorites of theirs from that era.

I'm surprised I've been able to legit clear the ones I've played so far. I'm not exactly a savant when it comes to this genre.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I somehow managed a legit clear of Abadox, one of the hardest NES shooters. It took a solid three hours of battering against it, though.

I decidedly did not get a legit win in Zanac, though. As I put it over on HRG, if The Guardian Legend is an affable, fun little brother, Zanac is his older brother that dunks kids' heads in toilets and steals their lunch money at school. It gets downright spiteful (something I learned afterwards is partly due to the "AI" system they've implemented, but still); while I appreciate what it contributed to TGL (the shared DNA is incredibly strong), it's just too rough for this non-shmup junkie to recommend.
 
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