Review the last game you finished

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#281

Post by DarkZero » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:19 am

i havent played the DS version either but it seems near-unanimous that the n64 version is better. it added Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong to the roster but at the expense of Banjo and Conker. understandable but still a shame.

(oh her name is Pipsy btw. they wouldnt let her drive if she was Tipsy)
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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by steeze » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:58 pm

Diddy Kong Racing deserves a reboot.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#283

Post by Marilink » Wed Apr 03, 2019 2:39 pm

Funnily enough, Scotty, my friend and I just beat Diddy Kong Racing during our free period today. We're starting up Adventure 2. That game is still so good. The Silver Coin Challenges are by far my favorite thing about it.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by steeze » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:17 pm

I've been watching some clips of it today and it's aged remarkably well. I forgot how much I like the voice that narrates everything as well as the level design. Adventure 2 should be fun. I loved the chaos garden in that lmao.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by X-3 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:19 pm

Demo: Yoshi's Crafted World: Kind of cute but I'm not that interested.
Demo: MATT DAEMON X MACHINA: This demo is pretty cool and I think the game has a lot of potential. My only big qualms right now are the overall performance (uneven framerate) and I'm not really sure what the point of going on-foot is.

3.) DEVIL MAY CRY V:

So, Devil May Cry V. For about 8 years, maybe more, this has been my “WHERE IS IT” game. The big, controversial reboot was six years ago. I like to think I'm a big fan of the series even though I'm not really that skilled. I just finished DMD in this one (this is actually why I made this post :cool:) so I think I'll give my thoughts before I try my hand at Bloody Palace or take a breather before Sekiro. (because going from one hard game to another probably isn't good for my hairline in the long-run)

Level Design: If I had to describe DMCV's level design, it would be unambitious but not annoying. That may seem like faint praise but but for this genre, I think it's a good thing. Levels are mostly straight paths with a few secret paths hidden here and there. While I do miss the Resident Evil-style level design the older games had on a personal level, the simple level design here makes replaying stages for high ranks (something the genre relies a lot on) simply a lot less of a hassle this time around. There are no annoying gimmick moments either, which is a relief for the same reasons. Here's a general example: destroying a dinosaur skeleton and solving a small puzzle to get Quicksilver so you can fight Nelo Angelo 3 in DMC1 is cool the first time. Doing it over and over again on higher difficulties because of how many times you'll die just turns it into mindless filler.

edit: Now in terms of environment design, eh. I can tell they stretched the concepts of "city" and "tree" as hard as they could but it's not terribly interesting honestly.

Gameplay: DMCV's gameplay is simply superb. It takes the strong foundation of DMC4 and lowers the skill floor while simultaneously rising the skill ceiling. Nero is as beginner-friendly as he was in DMC4, but his new Breaker system gives powerful new options to play around with. Dante maintains his style-switching system, but his individual styles have all been buffed overall, making them a lot more worthwhile and fun to use. His Devil Arms themselves are also much more interesting to use than DMC4's small selection. Not only that, but the changes made to the loadout system are genius. See, in DMC3 you chose two Devil Arms and two guns at a time to bring with you, and in DMC4 you had three of each at all times. Here you can edit how many you bring with you, and the order you'll switch through them. If you want to leave a weapon home, you can do that. If you want to bring four Devil Arms, you can also do that. This is an amazing QOL change that makes Dante easier to learn to play as while simultaneously increasing his potential in the hands of more skilled players.

DMCV introduces V as a third playable character, and he plays a lot differently from the other two. V focuses on keeping his distance while he commands three familiars to attack his foes. There's an emphasis on meter management to keep your familiars going until every enemy is wiped out. It feels a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it it's pretty simple—maybe too simple. With V what you see is what you get in terms of his options, so as a result he feels a bit undercooked. I also don't think his gameplay style melds too well with the game's boss fights, though he only really fights a couple.

Speaking of bosses, DMCV has some pretty good ones. I don't think they quite hit the highs of DMC3 but they're certainly a far cry from that game's lows. There aren't really any super-annoying enemies either, which is good. This does ironically contribute to DMC V being one of the easiest games in the series on its starting difficulty, however. If you're half-decent at the genre you'll be set until the difficulty bump in the last few missions, and if you're struggling you have plenty of resources to keep you on your feet.

Story: The story is alright, if not kind of disappointing, to be honest. While the first half is entertaining and manages to set-up high stakes, the back half feels rushed and maybe a bit too focused on fan-service. I also have my qualms about some stuff which I won't get into because spoilers. While the numerous callbacks and in-jokes are awesome, any fan who can recognize them will probably pick on the main plot twist the story leans on very quickly, which dilutes a lot of the mystery the game tries to build up. Also, to be perfectly honest, the end of the game reminds me a lot of Dragon Ball Super in a number of ways. Still, looking back that's kind of endearing in its own cheesy way.

While not a perfect game by any means, DMCV is a very strong game in the categories that I think matter for the genre, and so I think it is well worth the wait. Now Itsuno has to go make Dragon's Dogma 2. :p

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#286

Post by ScottyMcGee » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:23 am

DarkZero wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:19 am
(oh her name is Pipsy btw. they wouldnt let her drive if she was Tipsy)
I keep doing that and I don't know why.

I also keep calling it "Town and Country" instead of "Town and City" in Smash. I keep thinking of the Chrysler minivan "Town and Country".

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#287

Post by steeze » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:23 pm

3) Battlefield V (8/10)

Story: I actually haven't played that many Battlefield games but I saw gameplay and couldn't keep my hands off it. Story mode comes in four separate campaigns missions. Four different characters in four different locations. It's actually very light-hearted at times and does a good job of balancing the glorified aspects of war with the solemn reality behind it. Doesn't take itself too seriously and overall can be breezed through and enjoyed the same as taking your time to fulfill mission requirements.

Gameplay: Story mode is fun and teaches you the basics of the game fairly well. Multiplayer is kind of a wash though. 4v4 missions can be played or traditional battlefield objective style battles. They aren't anything new or special but will have their appeal with long-standing fans of the series. Some of those story missions are actually quite difficult, especially on harder difficulties. If you aren't playing to fulfill mission requirements you're actually at a disadvantage. Trying to just fight your way through levels becomes so difficult it's almost impossible if you aren't taking your time and progressing through the level the way the game says you should. Which is cool because I find some shooters make their story modes as easy and boring as possible so they have a platform to build the multiplayer off of.

Firestorm: The real gem of the game. Play with a squad or solo just like most Battle Royale games. What makes this game a little different is it's very well put together with little to no lag, guns aren't overpowered, and for the most part you are always going to be at an even standing with everyone else. This map is huge. Have I mentioned the graphics are stunning? My only gripe is with the loot drops in-game. They are terribly designed. All the items go flying all over the place and will most likely interfere with you fighting someone if you get ran up on while going through some loot. They need to be a little more fanfare when you win also. Maybe some special rewards or something otherwise it feels like an empty win. The whole point of these games is to rub it in everyone's face how much better you are at it then them.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#288

Post by I am nobody » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:08 pm

23. Dead or Alive 6 (4/6) (PC)

I played DoA 5 a ton on Vita because it came out when I was in high school and I had weirdly strict self-imposed ideas about what ways of dealing with, ah, adult stuff were acceptable back then. So I'm not one of those people that judges anyone who enjoys these games or asks why they don't go look at naked people on the internet for free, because that'd be super hypocritical, but I also don't get anything out of that aspect of it anymore. And since I suck at fighting games, that's not doing much for me either. So why waste my time on this?

Because reviews said the story was incomprehensible nonsense, and I adore bad writing, that's why. And holy **** is this bad writing. Even by the impossibly low standards set by other fighting games, the dialogue is absolutely inane and most of the cutscenes are incomprehensible. The plot, if you can call it that, consists of 7 "chapters" of a main story that seemingly omits 90% of what happens and 3-4 side episodes for the other characters that often have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the main plot. Elliot's story, for instance, consists of 2 context-less fights with Brad Wong on a pirate ship, followed by him magically teleporting to a city and fighting Hitomi for no reason, and then skips to him winning the quarterfinal, which the intro text informs you he's reached by winning the quarterfinal, because no one edited this. Technically it ends with him losing the match that leads to the semifinal (in other words, it is also a quarterfinal) against Hitomi in her story, but you can play that before him winning quarterfinal-2. And his isn't even the worst! Bayman's is just one fight at the end of the game out of literally nowhere, Kokoro's is a bunch of setup for her participation in the tournament that omits actually participating, and Nyotengu's is about literally nothing - she just randomly attacks people and laughs.

And then there's the actual scenes. Most of them are a few disjointed lines of dialogue that sound like two different writers agreed on a vague concept and then never talked to each other again. Characters just appear together with no context, inevitably get in a fight after a few lines of dialogue that often have no relation to anything we've talked about previously, and then there's a post fight cutscene where everyone's fine and both sides almost always just run away to make clear that absolutely nothing of consequence happened here. When it even remembers to have a post fight cutscene, anyway - probably a quarter of the fights just kick you back to the menu because apparently whatever happened afterward wasn't worth showing. There's also a really baffling scene at the end where button prompts show up and imply you can pick your character for the last fight, except that pressing the buttons doesn't actually do anything.

The best part is that they tried with this mess. There's over an hour of cutscenes, which is more than half the playtime of the campaign, and they've got loads of animations and assets that aren't used in the regular game. The whole thing is voiced in two languages. Someone put time and a substantial amount of money into making this, and it's just stunningly bad even for a fighting campaign. I can't recommend anyone actually go out and play the game to experience it, but it's worth looking up the cutscenes in the order the game intends you to see them just to appreciate what they've made. You don't see this kind of thing from marketed games from big publishers anymore.

Also, they're selling the campaign standalone for $20, so it's totally fair for me to ignore everything else about the game and spend three paragraphs on a story no one cared about.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#289

Post by Lord_Zack » Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:17 pm

I just finished The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, having linked from Oracle of Ages. I love top-down Zelda especially, so I enjoyed it quite a bit. The Oracles games were hardly perfect, in particular some of the enemy placements in the dungeons seemed to get a little too difficult too quickly sometimes and the throwbacks to the original game, though nice, sometimes didn't mesh well. Overall good games, but I'm looking forward to the Link's Awakening remake, which I believe will be a much better Zelda experience. Assuming I can afford a Switch by the time it comes out.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#290

Post by I am nobody » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:11 pm

24. Borderlands: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution (4/7) (PC)

I spent something like 250 hours on BL1 and 2, but I hadn't played either of them for something like 3 or 4 years before the last few months. I bought the pre-sequel in November and lasted a whole 15 minutes before deciding the writing was obnoxious and it was terrible as an FPS. Then I tried to pick up a multiplayer BL2 campaign I never finished to confirm that was better, and it wasn't. We didn't even complete a single mission before agreeing it was neither funny nor any fun.

So Gearbox gives everyone an "enhanced" version of Bl1 following the BL3 announcement and I figure I might as well check to see if that one holds up. I conveniently had one mission left in the only DLC I never finished (I think?) and figured I might as well get that done. And lo and behold, it's also awful.

The mission I had left was basically four boss fights in a row, all of which took forever because the bosses had such absurd amounts of health, and none of which involved doing anything remotely interesting. The last one had some guns I technically could've shot off, which at least would've provided an alternative to repeatedly clicking the head like the other bosses, except that said guns also had absurd amounts of health and bothering with them just would've made it take even longer. Bullet sponges can be forgiven if the gameplay is otherwise strong, but weapons don't provide any meaningful feedback beyond their damage numbers, my character was constantly getting caught on stray geometry, and sharp turns inexplicably cancel your sprint, which makes dodging a nightmare. I've played 200 hours of Overwatch since these games came out, and suffice to say that they play like absolute crap in comparison. Maybe that's not fair, but I sure don't want to go back to BL's controls.

The games always looked (I love that they never figured out how to properly scale the gun models when you get close to objects) ancient and never had more than competent music, so that just leaves the writing as a potential saving grace. And the best thing I can say about that is that there's at least less of it than in BL2. It still isn't funny, and most of it is still just memes from 10 years ago, but at least the bosses cycle their five jokes much more slowly and player characters are basically silent.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#291

Post by I am nobody » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:16 pm

Abandoned: Anno 1800 (4/21) (PC)

Look, Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II are probably my two favorite strategy games ever. I don't have a problem with strategy games that either take absolutely forever to finish or that pile systems on top of systems to the point that ever having a complete grasp of all of them is kind of hopeless. But Anno 1800 is maybe a little much.

It starts out all right. At the micro-level, it's a city builder in the vein of Caesar, with progression revolving around supplying houses with what they need to reach the next level and managing the chains necessary to produce those supplies. As you progress up the chain, you inevitably reach a point where your starting island doesn't have the resources you need, and eventually where the entire Old World doesn't, which means you've got to start a second, third, and so on city on another island. So now you're managing two cities at once in a real time game that can't be paused, and you've also got to worry about the naval trade routes between them, which magic pirates with infinite supplies of ships will attack for no reason.

And that's honestly pretty fun. It's stressful, for sure, but I was still enjoying myself up to the point where I was managing 8 different islands with a dozen trade routes between them and something like 30 resources. But everyone has to break somewhere, and for me it was the realization that I was still only halfway through the penultimate tier of houses, and that the next required resource would entail yet another trade between my colonies and the old world along with two expensive new factories, meaning I'd have to build up my cities more to pay for them, meaning my consumption of all my old resources would go up, meaning I'd need to build more production of all of those...

Maybe this would be manageable if the game provided any useful information, but it doesn't. There's no way to see if you're underproducing any resource, and keeping tabs on all of them on each of your islands is impossible, so you only find out when you run out and an island's economy suddenly tanks. Similarly, there's no way of telling when one of your services isn't providing enough protection, when one of your trade routes is exposed, when you've accidentally built on top of a building's collection area, and more, unless you're monitoring all of these things yourself or something has just exploded.

It's still playable, and if I had the time to do nothing but play this game for weeks on end until I was comfortable enough with the systems to make do with the lack of information, I could probably get to a point where those inconveniences were negligible. But I don't, and I don't think many people will. This could be an absolute masterpiece with some usability improvements. Right now, however, it's a cure for micromanagers.

R-4. Putt-Putt Joins the Parade (4/21) (PC)

Maybe it's just that joining a parade is the most boring thing a Humongous character ever did, but this one is honestly pretty awful. It's slow, you can't skip most of the animations, there's very little of the charm Humongous is known for, and you have to spend what feels like forever (actually only a few minutes) mowing lawns.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by I am nobody » Sat May 04, 2019 2:50 pm

25. Suburbia (5/1) (Android)

I got the mobile version of it for backing the Kickstarter for the Collector's Edition of the physical game. It's a mobile implementation of a board game, so I wasn't expecting much, but the campaign is actually pretty well thought out. It's a series of 10 single-player puzzle boards themed after various cities that task you with creating some very unnatural situations from some equally bizarre starting positions. Each puzzle has three difficulties, and the hardest requires careful planning to have any shot at most of the boards, which are the perfect length for mobile play at around 5 minutes each. There's vs. CPU and pass-and-play modes as well, but I didn't try those. I'd say it's a surprisingly solid offering if you're into the board game.

26. Opus Magnum (5/4) (PC)

Like all the other Zachtronics games, Opus Magnum is basically an engineering game. You've got some kind of weird machine you need to program - an alchemy board in this case - to turn inputs into the right outputs. But it's not so much about finding a solution as it is about finding a good one. Every solution takes a certain amount of time to run, costs a certain amount of money, and uses a certain amount of space, and improving any one of those almost inevitably worsens the others. So it's about picking one and making a solution that excels by that metric. I went for speed, but I've seen space or cost optimized solutions online that are incredibly clever, so there's no wrong answer.

Anyway, this is ridiculously niche and you probably knew from the first sentence whether it had any chance of appealing to you, so I'll leave it at that. If not, here's a gif of a 38-arm machine I spent three hours on earlier that explains the game way better than I can do with words:
Spoiler.
Image

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by Booyakasha » Sat May 04, 2019 3:27 pm

So, I got a free copy of 'Rayman Legends' for XBox One (Games for Gold, yeah), and so I replayed it. Still one of the best games I can think of. It's so fluid, so charming. NSMB looks kind of shoddy in comparison.

...I want more, dangit. Make another 2D Rayman game already, UbiSoft, you stinkos. Put the next unnecessary Ass Ass Creepo game on hold for a couple months and make me more Rayman.
boo---------------he sold his soul for rocky road

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by X-3 » Wed May 08, 2019 6:00 pm

4.) Sekiro: Shadows Dine for Free

I've gotta say, as a whole, I'm really not that impressed. The core deflect mechanic is fun, sure. The game is definitely at its best when you're deflecting a barrage of attacks and then countering with a deathblow. The problem is that these great moments are marred by a bunch of poor design decisions that bring the whole package down.

It's important to note that Sekiro is not a RPG. It is fundamentally not a game about customizing your stats and making builds and so-on. You have a katana and you are going to use it until the end of the game. I won't rag on Sekiro because you can't play as a Treemancer or something. That being said, the progression system that is in place is very mediocre. Many of the techniques you can acquire on the little skill trees are blatantly inferior to just pressing R1 a few times. The Prosthetic Weapons are almost all situational in usage, which not bad in theory but in practice it makes upgrading them less exciting and desirable. The (linear) health and damage upgrades you acquire over the course of the game are mostly unnoticeable due to how enemy damage/health increases as you progress. What is this, unmodded Oblivion?

This opens up another problem: the reward for exploration. Due to the fact that Sekiro is an action game, most of what you'll find in the world is character progression stuff: money, upgrade materials, that sort of thing. These rewards come to fall flat as you realize the aforementioned progression problems, leaving you only with the core gameplay to fall back on. And that gameplay has very large problems of its own.

Sekiro often feels like two games in one. The first is the world's easiest stealth game where you instagib enemies that don't see you and kill those that do see you with the power of hitting R1 a lot. The second is where you fight a boss and get 2-shot by everything they throw out. A common mistake new players will make is focusing on boss HP: what you really need to do is focus on their posture, because breaking it by filling out that bar gives you a deathblow that knocks off a bar of their health. To damage their posture, you need to attack them (either their body or their guard) and deflect their attacks by pressing the guard button as an attack hits. The timing for deflects is quite lenient, to the point that you can often lightly mash it. We're not talking about Royal Guard here, thankfully.

What this all means in practice however is a game that relies very heavily on trial and error and pattern memorization. Now, trial and error and pattern memorization are basically hallmarks of 'hard' games and I'd be lying if I implied otherwise. Sekiro takes it to an utterly unfun extreme, however. Due to how much sheer damage bosses do and the importance of deflecting, the only way to really win is to memorize their movesets down to the deflect timings. I really don't mind 'learn the boss' challenges, but Sekiro takes it to a level that's more exhausting than fun.

There are other miscellaneous issues I have with the game. There is a noticeable delay from when you press R1 to when you actually swing your katana, so you end up trading or even losing to dudes carrying massive weapons. There's a lot of reuse of mini-bosses and bosses, compounded by how some of them just aren't good fights to begin with. (ie: those Headless dudes) The story is a lot more straightforward than previous FROM titles, but doesn't really cover any interesting new ground. (immortality BAD) The 'die and resurrect' mechanic isn't really used in any particularly cool or interesting manner. I'm not sure why they included Ninjitsu at all. Dragonrot is a pointless mechanic, though considering the stuff I talked about earlier I'll take "*cough* too sick to side-quest" over "wolf, everyone is **** dead". Said side-quests are typical FROM quests, meaning that read the wiki lol. The camera is very, very bad. The Spirit Emblem system is really bad on repeated deaths against bosses.

So, I don't like Sekiro that much. There were moments where I had fun, sure. It's not as if I was a sourpuss the whole time. But those moments were outnumbered by moments where I thought I was playing a mediocre action game with tacked-on stealth elements.
Spoiler.
I unironically had more fun with Dark Soul 2. :fire: :joy: :100:

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by I am nobody » Wed May 08, 2019 8:43 pm

5. Islanders (5/5) (PC)

Islanders is a city builder without resources. Every building is free and earns you a certain number of points based on what's around it, and your goal is to score enough points to reach the threshold to get more buildings. You pick from two "packs" of buildings every time you do, and that loop repeats until you miss a threshold, which inevitably happens within 15 minutes or so because of the limited building space. At that point, if you've scored enough points to unlock the next island, you keep your score and start over there, and you lose if you haven't. Once you lose, your score gets added to the leaderboards and you start over.

It's a fine concept, and maybe I'm asking too much of a $5 game, but it's really easy and I feel like I did everything worth doing after 80 minutes. There are maybe around 20 different buildings, but they fit broadly into 3 or 4 different classes in terms of how to play them, and once you figure that out, it's pretty much just a case of running up the score until you get bored. There's no metaprogression to speak of, and competing on the leaderboards seems dull since the functionality is so limited, so I really can't see any reason to keep playing past the first few games.

Honestly, it feels like it could've been one of the Humble Originals that get thrown into the monthly bundle for free. It had about the playtime and depth of one of those, and it left me with a similar feeling of wishing they'd fleshed it out more. Except that those games are proofs-of-concept to test the waters and this is a full release. It's not bad; it just feels like a demo.

-------

This is no doubt partly my fault for not playing that many new games this year and partly coincidence that the big releases have all been outside my interests or in series I'm not caught up with, but it's really weird to be in May and still only have one game (Slay the Spire) that has any business in a yearly top 10. Admittedly, that game is absolutely phenomenal, but it's also only technically a 2019 release.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#296

Post by I am nobody » Sat May 11, 2019 11:31 am

28. Inazuma Eleven (5/11) (DS)

It's a soccer RPG for the DS that never got much attention in the US. On offense, you draw a path for whatever character has the ball and shoot/pass by tapping on the screen. On defense, you draw paths for whatever characters you want to run into the guy with the ball. Then some background magic happens with the player's elements and which of a couple moves each side selected to determine who comes away with it. Shots on goal work in a similar way, and the whole thing honestly players better than I ever would've expected was possible on the DS. 30-second halves allow for a lot more back and forth than you'd think, and the AI for players you're not controlling is great at being where you want it. I had a blast with all of the 11v11 games whether they were closely fought or were 8-0 blowouts when I replayed early-game teams.

Later matches end up being mostly decided by everybody spamming secret techniques back and forth. I wasn't sure I'd like that at first, but the animations for a lot of them are fantastic, and there's more depth to it than you'd think. Balancing offensive and defensive techniques on each of your players becomes really important, and there's a fun risk/reward system in deciding how much secret technique energy you can afford to burn in any given situation.

You spend most of your time in the overworld, though. When you're not doing story activities, there are random chests and stores to find new equipment in, random battles to fight, and new teammates to recruit. Battles are easily the game's weakest part, as they're 15-second 4v4 matches where the first goal wins, and they can almost always be won with the same two passes. You get new teammates by working through a ridiculously large tree that unlocks more branches as you progress through the story. Pick a character, go beat them in a soccer battle in the overworld, and they join your team. You get loads of story players that are objectively better, though, so in practice only a couple default players are worth replacing.

It's also a really surprisingly long game. The (I assume) native speaker who played before me took about 20 hours, and I finished just under 40 because I kept having to use a dictionary. It was worth the trouble, though, because the story is thoroughly entertaining. I think the overall tone can largely be summed up by saying that the big bad team shows up in a military-style parade, has a literal fortress, and you've no hope of beating them unless you can recruit the transfer student who gave up soccer after a tragic accident. And all for a middle school tournament. It only gets more over the top from there.

Overall, it's a solid game. Mileage might vary somewhat based on your interest in soccer and tolerance for sports-story tropes, but provided neither of those is an immediate deal-breaker, I think there's a lot to like here.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#297

Post by I am nobody » Tue May 14, 2019 4:54 pm

29. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Decisive Edition (5/13) (PS4) (the title is a little different, so it's totally a new game)

tl;dr: Before this game's sequel and Persona 5, I'd probably have told you this was the best modern JRPG. It easily has the best combat of anything in the genre, and most of the flaws are me nitpicking world building. Highly recommended.

Spoilers because I wrote a lot.
Spoiler.

Trails of Cold Steel is basically Falcom's answer to the question "what if Persona but lowish-fantasy and in a fake country broadly based on late-1800s Germany?". You play as a super-special class of military academy high schoolers who travel around the country and save the world, and in your free time you run errands for the student council, do what are clearly social links by another name, and make an attempt for the "most mini-games outside of WarioWare" world record. It's technically a successor to earlier Legend of Heroes titles, and it takes place in the "evil empire" from Trails in the Sky, but those plots are mentioned only in passing and aren't terribly important to understanding the game.

Anyway, let's start with the best bit. I normally hate combat in JRPGs, because it's almost always so shallow that I've seen all I ever care to of it 10% of the way through the game. CS addresses that in a few ways. First, it has the quartz system. Every character can equip both a master quartz, which confers major stat bonuses and a number of special abilities and levels up with use, and up to 8 regular quartzes, which confer some combination of smaller bonuses, the ability to use certain spells, and a wide variety of passive abilities. Since any of these can be equipped on any character and other equipment is similarly unrestricted, this gives you a ridiculous amount of freedom to customize your party. Any character can play pretty much any role if you're determined to make them fit, and you can make some really stupid builds if you want to. I found a way to get one character's evasion to 100% just before the final boss sequence, which made her effectively immortal, but there are a million other ways I could've taken that.

Second, it's got loads going on. In tough fights, that means you're managing your HP, EP (spells), CP (other abilities and super moves), and bravery points (follow-up attacks) across up to 7 characters on top of the combat system itself, which takes place on a 3D circle, figures out turn order based on a combination of character speed and the speed of the last thing they did, and also has big bonuses on certain turns you have to watch out for and manipulate. You can't just do the same few things every turn like in a lot of JRPGs, and on higher difficulties, bosses absolutely require attention and planning. But it makes the mob fights rewarding as well, because CP and BP build up in battle and are preserved, so there's a point to smaller battles, but mainly because you get special victory animations for winning with follow-up attacks for each pair of characters. That means there are 156 in the game (12 for individuals, 132 for pairs, and 12 for the whole team), so there's always a new one to aim for. It's a minor touch, but giving the little fights a goal makes a big difference.

I won't go into too much detail about the story. It's mainly about coming to understanding an impending civil war, and pretty much everything that happens is intended to flesh out either the sides of that conflict or your party characters. The writing can get overly flowerly at times, but it's nonetheless consistently entertaining and does a good job setting up for the sequel. As much as I hate the friendship trope that JRPGs always go for, it feels more earned in this case since so much of the game is actually about how a bunch of strangers from different sides of the war came to trust each other. It also falls victim to other JRPG tropes, particularly around its female characters, that I hate even more, but those moments are relatively infrequent in a very long game, and I otherwise enjoyed all of the characters. It got more laughs out of me than some comedy games, too.

One thing I want to specifically call out on the character front is how much this is a game about accepting people for who *they* are. Persona has done the whole thing about living with yourself, but this takes a different approach in that most of the cast has already done that. They've all got different philosophies they're perfectly happy with, and one of the core threads is how they gradually learn that that's fine. I'm particularly a fan of how, despite this being as much of a FRIENDSHIP POWER game as every other JRPG, there's an introverted character who is allowed to just be introverted without anyone treating her like she needs to be cured.

As much as I'd like that to be all I have to say about the writing, it isn't all positives. The level of imagination in the world building can be very inconsistent, with plenty of things that are legitimately cool, but also an aggravating tendency for the world's level of technology to just be whatever the plot needs it to be at that moment. Trains, radio, computers, the internet, and pedometers are all relatively new at the same time, mobile data is apparently just around the corner, and everything except trains is named "orbal radio", etc, as if the real world had just kept sticking "electric" in front of every new device indefinitely. They also forget they're trying to be Germany rather frequently and have random things that are clearly from Japanese culture instead, and it's distracting every time. But my biggest problem is its incredibly inconsistent attitude towards its female characters. As I said before, it goes for entirely too many of the usual anime nonsense in this regard, including one really stupid scene right at the beginning, but it's a bigger problem here because that's just nonsense within the world they've made. It goes way out of its way to establish that some of the physically strongest and most capable characters in this world are women, and then there's a totally throwaway scene showing that it also has "gender segregated classes" where the boys learn computers while the girls cook. Nearly every female character's relationship status or appearance is commented on at some point, which never happens for any of the males except the PC. Basically every JRPG does this, of course, but it's so much worse here because it's so out of place in the world they made.

Also, there's a big twist at the end that I don't think is foreshadowed in a way anyone could reasonably pick up on. That's dumb.

And a bunch of minor stuff: The game is just about the ultimate example of the "Guide Dangit" trope, requiring all sorts of incredibly unintuitive and easily missable actions to get even close to 100%. Although most of the minigames they made are actually pretty good, the one the lean the heaviest on, Blade, is a card game with only slightly more depth than War and I hate everything about it. The draw distance makes it really obvious this was originally a Vita game. There are some conversations where one character is voiced and the other isn't, which is a strange thing to do.

I'm going to compare it to Mass Effect, partly because that's a fair thing to do given the party structure and save game export and partly because ME has Miranda's butt. CS is a bit like that. It's a great game that you should absolutely play, and I'm not tired of it even after two 50 hour campaigns, but every now and then it has a Miranda's butt moment and takes you out of the world for some wildly out of place fan service.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#298

Post by DarkZero » Thu May 16, 2019 5:40 pm

Yooka-Laylee (Switch)

I was one of the initial Kickstarter backers for this game, not just because it was announced shortly after I completed Banjo-Kazooie and wanted more games like it, but also I liked what I saw, and I thought that it would follow a similar gameplay structure to the Banjo games while having its own distinct atmosphere and universe.

That... didn't really turn out to be the case. This game really felt like it tried to replicate the feel of Banjo-Kazooie as much as possible, even in ways it really didn't need to. Even the main characters are blatant counterparts. Maybe that's what some people wanted, but I was more expecting the game to carve out its own identity.

But oh well, how does the game play? Well for better or worse, it feels like a game Rare would have made in the late 90s. It's a good game with a lot of clever design, but it also has some of the more frustrating aspects you would expect from an N64 platfomer. If you're the kind of person who would still be willing to play Banjo-Kazooie today, you would probably enjoy this game.

Tales of Symphonia (GCN)

I unfortunately don't have much to compare this to, since its the only Tales game I've played thus far, and I generally don't play a lot of JRPGs, but I really enjoyed this game, even more than I thought I would.

Full disclosure, I only started playing this because I had the ROMs and wanted to see how the forced progressive scan worked on Nintendont with a game that doesn't natively support it, but then I just ended up playing it and getting invested in the story and characters.

The battle system is what made the game really fun imo. The real-time combat with its combo system, intricate nuance and strategy, and having a lot of different playstyles with different characters made it some of the most fun I had with the game. I deliberately ran into enemies throughout the game just because the battles were that fun (I think I ended up a little overleveled as a result lol).

The main theme of the game is an exploration of discrimination and (fantasy) racism and while I think they got their message confused a few times, they handled the subject in a suprisingly nuanced and realistic way, showing even the subtlest ways it permeates their society.

The game's length is probably a little longer than it needs to be (but it's an early 2000s JRPG so that's par for the course), it felt like some elements of the plot could be streamlined and still get the point across, but again the game is fun enough that I don't particulary mind it dragging its heels.

Don't even get me started on Zelos, that's a whole other rant.

TL;DR 9.5/10, really amazing game, even as someone who has no patience for RPGs I was completely captivated the whole way through.
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Re: Review the last game you finished

#299

Post by Apollo the Just » Thu May 16, 2019 8:03 pm

DZ i am legitimately so happy and moved that you played and enjoyed ToS, like I meme about that game a lot and am almost jaded towards it because of the hundreds of hours I've spent going fast and skipping all dialogue, but the REASON I run it is because I love that game SO much it means SO MUCH to me and the fact that a friend has played it and enjoyed it gives me REALLY BIG BUTTERFLIES

The battle system is phenomenal and the only one in the Tales series I like better is Abyss's because of FOF shenanigans. The later installments do not feel anywhere near as light imo and I don't enjoy them nearly as much. A lot of fighting game enthusiasts specifically enjoy ToS battle system and it's because of how great it feels.

IM SO HAPPY THAT YOU LIKED IT I LOVE THAT GAME SO MUCH IM GONNA GO CRY ABOUT IT

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