In 2015 I had set a goal for myself to finish at least 100 games. I kept track of my progress using this list and by the time 2016 came around I ended with a grand total of 108 games finished!
Around July I thought it would be cool to write a little bit about the games I had been playing so far and I even wrote a post-mortem once I finished exactly 100 games but I still had a desire to write about the games I played in the back end of 2015. But between the post-mortem and writing way too many end-of-year lists (all those words are a different list!) I kinda got real tired of writing about video games.
So, over the past month I've been slowly jotting down my opinions in a notepad document and I've finally finished! I tried my hardest to say as much in as little words as possible but I guess when you're writing about 60+ games the end result is bound to be pretty lengthy!
I hope I managed to express my feelings about theses games adequately enough and I hope you enjoy reading them! I'd be happy to talk a bit more about any game if you mention it in a comment or something since I know I didn't touch on every single element of every game here. I also didn't thoroughly proofread a lot of this, so sorry if some if it seems to written a little strangely!
Oh! I didn't spoiler block anything either so there might be spoilers!
It's been a good long while since I played a Pokemon game of any sort. The last main entry game I played was Black on the DS and the last spin-off I played was probably the original Mystery Dungeon games. I don't own a 3DS and since I didn't want to start a brand new game on my copy of Black (It's got my starter from Emerald on it!) I had to turn somewhere else.
So I picked up Pokemon Conquest, which is a tactical RPG that is also a crossover with the Nobunaga's Ambition series. It's decent game but there are a few things about it that keep me from thinking this is a great game.
The first, I feel, may have just been an oversight but it remained a constant problem throughout my playthrough. Pokemon Conquest is a turn-based strategy game not unlike Disgaea. I'll admit that I haven't played many games like it, but those that I have played let you select which direction your unit faces when you end your turn to prevent your enemies from getting behind you and dealing extra damage. The "backstab" mechanic is in this game but you can barely control which direction you face, which leads to a lot of enemies taking advantage of this and just wiping the floor with you. I honestly have no idea why they would include the mechanic but not give the player a chance to use it to their advantage.
The traditional method of leveling up and evolving Pokemon has changed too. Most Pokemon evolve by getting one of their stats up past a threshold and finishing a battle with them. Pokemon are also attached to a warrior who has an affinity-type (like a Pokemon's type) which determines how strong their link is, which is measured in a percentage, with a Pokemon. You increase the link by fighting and doing meta-game stuff.
Hopefully this all makes sense so far because I'm about to explain the part of this that I think is junk.
When you recruit a warrior they come with a Pokemon; the creatures you usually play a Pokemon game to catch, train and evolve. With a few exceptions, the Pokemon's type doesn't match the warrior's affinity type. This means that the Pokemon probably be able to get it's stats high enough to evolve and it just won't be as strong as you might need it to be because their link maxes out at a lower percentage.
So in other words, it's basically useless and little deceptive too. Initially, you'll see a warrior with an Ekans and think "Oh man, let me recruit that person so I can evolve that Ekans into an Arbok!" or something like that. You'll then recruit the person and see that their affinity is with normal type Pokemon (Ekans is a poison type, just in case you forgot!) so in order to get the most out of this unit you'll have to take them out to capture one of the many awesome normal type pokemon in the game. Like Bidoof, for example.
While I'm on the topic of awesome Pokemon, there's quite a few that aren't in the game. It's a bit foolish to expect every pokemon to make it in the game, there were about 600+ when this game came out and there's only 199 in the game. Of those 199, it's apparent that the second generation (Gold/Silver/Crystal) got the short end of the stick. None of Johto's starter pokemon made the cut despite the fact that every other generation has at least one of it's starter's represented. It's unfortunate if that's your favorite era of creatures but at least you can get a Larvitar, so there's that.
Also, Beedril. You can get a Beedril, not a Weedle or Kakuna. Just Beedril.
With all that being said, I think it's a competent game despite my issues with it. It's probably a fine game if you don't play many of the genre and you like Pokemon and the out of combat unit management is pretty neat. I wanted to play a game with Pokemon in it and I totally did. I think I'm probably good for a while.
I already wrote about this game earlier this year, once for a review I wrote on this website and again for a Steam review.
I recommend checking them both out because they aren't just the same review in different places. The one on the site is longer though, so maybe peep the Steam version if you want something short and concise.
This game is the only piece of the Alien franchise I have actively engaged with in any capacity. I haven't seen any of the movies or played any of the other games. There's probably some books and comics based on the series but I haven't read them either.
Despite all that, I think this is a pretty cool game on it's own. I imagine it's very faithful to the source material because that's the vibe I got by playing the game and exploring the environs. The best example of this might be the iconography that's all over the game. There's a bunch of small symbols across the various locations in the game that are both helpful hints and bits of fan service. I read a guide (after I was done with the game) that explained what these symbols were and how you could use them to find items or just get a general idea of what lies beyond the doors that follow them.
It's that and the "analog future" aesthetic that give this game a lot of personality and a bit of a lived-in quality to it. Just interacting with a lot of the seemingly decades old equipment is pretty cool but you do a lot of it. There's plenty of sequences that in another game would just be a cutscene but instead it's up to you to prime and plant the bomb step by step and that's just kind of cool to me.
The stealth stuff ain't so bad either. I'd characterize it as tense rather than scary but only because everything is so dangerous. There are some enemies that you can kill but it takes a lot of items and resources to do so and just isn't worth it unless you really need to get somewhere quickly. Saves aren't totally safe either and that adds a lot of tension to something that is usually a stress reliever in any other game. It kind of reminds me of the elevator change in the Dead Space. In the first Dead Space, elevators were always a short spot where you could take a breather but in Dead Space 2 you could get attacked in the elevators. Same with saving in Isolation, most of them are safe but when they aren't the game let's you know.
The game's pretty long but I think that's mainly because of how the encounters are designed. They're slow and methodical and trying to brute force them often ends with death. A 15+ hour stealth game might not be for everyone but I certainly had a good time with it.
I've played most of the Duels of Planeswalkers games since they put out that first one but I ended up skipping last year's entry and apparently that one wasn't very good. So I was psyched to get back into digital MtG and pretty pumped that it was free too.
The game was pretty busted on launch (servers didn't work most of the time) but when things finally worked I managed to get through all the single player content in Duels. It's fine but a bit shorter compared to the other MtG games. I didn't really stick with multiplayer because I figure most people who play Magic know how to play it well which is something I don't know how to do!
I got what I wanted out of it though, I'll probably check back in if they add more single player stuff with the expansions.
I went into FFXIII knowing that it would be a long while before it "got good" and I was totally fine with that. The first 10 chapters are mostly used to deliver a lot of the story and the combat is basically all tutorial up until they let you loose in Chapter 11.
Looking back on it, I actually think it was kind of cool how the difficulty spikes the moment you're given free reign over all the characters. In the preceding chapters most of the battles (the bosses being the exceptions) could be won by just constantly attacking. I remember when I first got to Gran Pulse and fought some enemies. My first encounter was with the small wolf-like animals that are very obviously supposed to be low level fodder.
I almost died immediately.
It was the moment where I realized that I've got to actually figure out the ins and outs of the battle system and the game was a blast since then. The moment also makes sense in the context of the story too. Lightning and co. are strangers to Gran Pulse which has been alluded to being a dangerous world filled with monsters. Even Fang and Vanille who were born on Gran Pulse haven't set foot there in hundreds of years. It seems only natural that the team would stumble at first given how alien their surroundings must be to them.
The combat is definitely a large part of why I think XIII is good and it's a shame it takes so long until you're given full access to it. The high points of it are the lengthy fights that require constant class changes to manage buffs and debuffs while trying to quickly stagger the enemy (so you can deal more damage) and keeping your party alive. It's extremely tense because in typical JRPG fashion, once you screw up and die you've got to try again from the start. But it's also extremely rewarding once you pull through with a team you've assembled yourself using whatever strategies you found to be best.
It's been a while since I've thought about the story but I don't remember disliking it so it's probably alright! I mean, if I'm being honest, I probably cried at the end. I'm not sure whether to attribute it to being very tired (I finished the game at 3AM), extremely relieved or if seeing Lightning smile was enough to break me.
It might be mix of all three but it's probably that last one now that I think about it...
When I started playing MGS2 I did it side by side with the episodes of Metal Gear Scanlon 2 that were on the site. I'd watch an episode then fire up the game and play up to that point on my own. At some point, I stopped doing that because the story became harder to put down the more I played. I don't really remember when it happened (might have been sometime around the second Vamp fight) but I realized that because of how cinematic the game was I probably getting softening the experience by watching someone else's reactions to the story beats while I was seeing for the first time.
I'm really glad I decided to do play it myself before I got to the final moments of the game. I mean, I knew at some point that the Colonel says something about scissors. I knew about playing as Naked Raiden and Fission Mailed. But something about seeing that madness unfold before my very eyes was magical. The final 2 hours or so of this game are a surreal experience that I'm glad I got around to seeing this year.
Unlike MGS2, I went into Snake Eater with a slightly different approach. I would play until I decided to take a break and during my downtime I would watch Drew grenade his way through the game.
I wasn't about to make the same mistake again and I'm thankful that I went into Snake Eater totally blind. A lot of my favorite moments in this game are tied to some of the mechanics and exploring them without any knowledge of them was made them all more special.
As weird as it may sound, I really looked forward to saving the game because I knew every time I did Snake and Paramedic would have a nice conversation about movies. Same thing with hunting for food and to a lesser extent getting new equipment/visiting a new area. I would always call Para-medic, Sigint or EVA whenever I did these things just so I could hear Snake and his team talk about them.
It's not just the codec stuff that I was fond of either; using live animals as weapons, destroying food stockpiles to make the guards hungrier and a lot of the boss interactions are all still really cool and kind of impressive.
The entire fight with the Sorrow is without a doubt one of the coolest things I've seen in a game this year. I tried to play the game as non-lethally as I could to avoid any big firefights but I wasn't afraid to kill a guard if things got messy. But to see the game acknowledge how I'd been playing; to show me the people I'd killed and how I took them out by having them saunter down the river with their necks cut open or a single guy being harassed by a vulture that I had consumed early on.
And the codec calls during that sequence! And the solution to the whole boss fight! Writing about this is bringing back all sorts of fond memories of the good times that I had playing this game.
I feel like I need to end this one before I allow myself to gush about it any longer but I didn't mention the actual story yet so I'll do that! It's nowhere near the level of insanity that MGS2 was but I found it to be a solid story that does a good job of providing context for the entire series.
I'm not even ashamed to admit that I almost cried at the end!
Xeodrifter is a very lite Metroidvania game. The game is fairly short and the areas aren't connected like most games of it's type are. To move between areas you have to backtrack to the entry point, go back up to your spaceship and fly to another planet.
The fact that there's only one boss that you fight multiple times throughout the game is kind of a bummer too. I'm not totally down on the game though. I think the weapon upgrade system is neat and playing the game isn't an awful experience.
As I mentioned, it doesn't last too long but it was an enjoyable afternoon distraction.
I've spent well over 200 hours across 2 different platforms between 3 different copies of the original Dark Souls. I think that game is pretty good. But for most of that game, I already knew what to do. I knew every secret, what every boss would do and where to go next. You could argue that it doesn't matter whether or not I knew what to do and that actually doing it is what matters. I might even agree with you.
I thought I went into Dark Souls II totally blind. But that's not entirely true. I played Dark Souls so I already knew how to play a game like this. I always hit chests before I opened them and I always walked with my shield raised. I had already jumped over the biggest hurdle when it comes to playing these games and that's figuring out how to play them. Dark Souls II didn't do much to play upon my preconceived ideas of what could possibly come my way. It never felt like it was trying to do anything different, it was just more of what I had already become accustomed to. I won't remember Dark Souls II as something exciting and as memorable as the first.
I'll probably just remember it as just more, and a slightly better version, of Dark Souls. And that's fine too!
I honestly don't remember too much about the games in Retro Game Crunch. They were all pretty short and at the very best they were /interesting/ experiences. Of the 5 games that I finished from it I'd say the highlights were Paradox Lost, Shuten and End of Line.
Paradox Lost is one of those Metroidvania things where you use a gun to control time. You can pause and send enemies, or even yourself, into different time periods by shooting them with a charged shot from the gun. Shuten is a vertical shooter where you attack by deflecting projectiles or by stealing shot types from enemies.
End of Line is maybe the weirdest game of the 3 that I mentioned. It's a puzzle game where you play as a robot (series of robots maybe?) and the object of each level is to kill yourself. Every stage has a number of robots that'll fix you if try to fix you if you die so before you kill yourself you have to kill everything else.
The other two games are Wub-Wub Wescue (a platformer where you play as a pug) and Super! Clew Land Complete (platformer where you 'evolve' as you play) and those are just ok.
I played through BL2 earlier this year and wasn't that into the main campaign, for various reasons. Having played through the Pre-Sequel I think that it makes quite a few meaningful steps, albeit small ones, in the right direction.
The Pre-Sequel goes to quite a few lengths to flesh out the Borderlands universe in a way that I can only describe as admirable. Most of the playable characters (and Handsome Jack) end up dead by the end of 2 but they've been fleshed out way more than any of their predecessors. They do have the advantage of already having shown up in non-playable roles but the thing that separates them from the rest of the bunch is that they actually interact with the story and NPCs in a meaningful way.
The characters from 2 never felt like anything more than a set of abilities that would occasionally spout one-liners. The characters were present but they had very little presence. In PS, your character speaks with the NPCs and is spoken to directly which adds a lot of neat little moments across different playthroughs and adds some good humor to the game as well.
Speaking of humor, it's mostly the same kind of humor found in 2 but noticeably less meme-y. It is also 100% more Australian which, I feel, makes it funnier as a result. I know that explaining jokes makes them funnier so allow me to relay some of the choice comedic moments of the Pre-Sequel.
There is an extremely vulgar, extremely Australian shotgun by the name of Boganella. I am aware of the other talking guns from 2 but it isn't Australian so they're not as good. If you are still not convinced of the amount of Australian that pumps through this game's blood then maybe you will change your tune once I tell you that they literally just put Don Bradman in this game.
I'm talking about Sir Don Bradman the godfather of cricket. He has a side quest where you have to find his lost cricket ball for him and as a reward you get what is arguably the freshest color palette in the game.
I found all of these and a quite a few other things to be, at the very least, pretty amusing. Which is more than I can say about anything from the main campaign of 2.
I neglected to mention the few mechanical improvements in PS, so I'm going to mention them now. I really appreciate the addition of the grinder. Before, I just sold anything that wasn't as good as my current equipment and even then the money is basically useless because anything that showed up in the shop just wasn't worth using. It gives me a real reason to pick up items that I don't intend to use and gives me a chance to turn it into something better.
The "slam" and the double jump add another element to the combat beyond the regular loop of shooting, switching weapons and occasionally using your active skill. It's not a substantial addition but it is a step in the right direction. There’s also another element, Cryo (ice!) and laser weapons. Those are alright too.
I know I've been super positive on this game but the one thing Borderlands 2 has over it is a larger amount of game. The Pre-Sequel is noticeably shorter and doesn't even come close to having enough substantial DLC as 2 and it seems like it never will.
But for what it is, I was certainly satisfied with it.
There's not much I remember about Korra at this point. I'll just list off with the things that immediately come to mind when I think of this game.
It's got a couple of levels where you ride some kind of large polar bear thing that remind me of those levels from Crash Bandicoot. Anything that reminds me of old Crash ain't so bad.
I remember the game ending before I got a real grip on the mechanics and the timing for parries.
There was some kind of sport mini-game, pro-bending I think it was called, that I didn't really like playing.
After the credits there was a part where all the voice actors, who I assume are the same talents from the show, take turns saying "Thank you for playing!" and I thought that was really sweet.
I'm a bit hesitant to say that I like Apotheon because I think the combat is kind of bad. I feel it's style of combat doesn't quite work in two dimensions. Your attacks are very slow with very deliberate that have to be completed before they are executed and they drain stamina when you use them.
There are more similarities than those but it's very clearly trying to be like the Souls' games and it just wasn't clicking with me. I did enjoy it though, because whenever you would hit enemy with a particularly strong attack or a giant boulder, for example, they would just rocket across the screen in a very satisfying way. Some of the larger enemies can do the same to you but you don't take a ton of damage from it and it just felt very unwieldy in an unintentional way.
The artstyle is cool and there are some cool boss fights so as an entire product I think it's alright. Just not a real fan of the 2D Dark Souls thing.
Before I got to the last boss in Luckslinger, I would've told you that I thought that the game was ok. After spending 3 hours too many on that last encounter I'll tell you that I think it's pretty bad.
To put it simply, I just got unlucky. Not unlucky in the game's terms either. In Luckslinger when you're unlucky you fight an extra enemy or a windmill falls towards or something. I got unlucky in multiple different ways. Unlucky in ways that the game's luck system could not even begin to correct but could also be easily patched to be fixed.
The last boss fight takes place in the town, the game's hub where you can talk to people and buy upgrades. I returned from the previous outing with just enough health to buy the last health upgrade. As much as I wanted to buy it during my final hours with this game, I couldn't .
You're forced into a fight with one last gunslinger before you can get a chance to spend your money one last time. There were many times where I wondered if I could've beaten this man if I had just one more heart container. Maybe. I got unlucky though.
The boss isn't even that hard either. He just walks towards you and shoots. You can't shoot him if he's off screen and his bullet patterns are kind of tricky to dodge at a close range. It's certainly doable but tricky. Sometimes though, the boss will roll if you shoot at him. Naturally, he can't be hit while he's rolling so it's wise to just back off when he does this so you can keep yourself at a safe distance. He also advances quite a bit when he rolls, faster than the Luckslinger is able to move.
This is not the part where I got unlucky.
Sometimes, if you're unlucky, the boss will roll to dodge your shots and immediately roll again. This allows him to advance on you very quickly since he moves faster when he rolls.
This is not the part where I got unlucky.
Sometimes, if you're really unlucky, the boss will roll to dodge, shoot, and roll again. The boss can close the distance between him and the Luckslinger all while being totally invincible and covered by a spray of bullets too.
Imagine this unlucky occurrence happening multiple times over the course of several hours and you've just relived my final moments of the Luckslinger. A series of unlucky events that even a game about luck couldn't quite salvage.
At least the soundtrack is decent.
I feel like at this point, any game with a two word title that ends with 'Souls' is telegraphing that it might be kind of difficult. Titan Souls has the potential to be difficult but I just found it to be a little too easy.
It's a game about fighting bosses and a good number of them only have to be hit once before you defeat them. Your character is also rather frail and you only have one retrievable arrow at your disposal to get the job done.
Titan Souls is a game where the goal post is always in sight but most of the time there's very little obstacle on the way to it. I do like the artstyle and I really enjoyed walking across the world and exploring the environment.
The soundtrack is very nice too! It wouldn't sound totally out of place in the first town of a PS2-era JRPG.
You'd think that in the same year I spent idly thinking about Pulse X and it's numerous derivatives that I'd be all over a game where some of the enemies call you a "wasteman" and one of the playable characters quotes a Skepta track.
But... I think Bunnylord is lame. Everything the comes out of his(?) mouth just feels like forced humor and it's just lame. It's a good thing that talking with them isn't a huge part of the game. The actual running and gunning is pretty fun though.
The soundtrack is pretty solid too. Some tracks sound like the kind of over-produced electro house that you might find in a royalty free music library but most of it is decent.
Actually, now that I think about it. Bredrin Park doesn't have any Grime tracks despite being based on that whole culture. A missed opportunity if you ask me!
I really enjoyed my time with Massive Chalice and I say this as someone who didn't play a lot of New-XCOM. So maybe it's because I haven't played what most people considered to be a better game of this type but the outside of combat aspect of Massive Chalice is the thing I really like about it.
In XCOM and, I assume, other games of the like when your units die it's either due to your own mistakes or the numbers probably weren't in your favor. The same thing can (and will) happen in Massive Chalice but your units will also die because they are humans and all humans die eventually.
Arranging marriages and managing the balance between raising good soldiers while also putting genetically strong/combat strong people in positions of power to keep a steady supply of competent warriors going is really cool!
Although, about over halfway through the game's 300 year timeline, I found there to be very little challenge left. There wasn't anything left for me to research that I actually wanted to use and I had pretty much figured out the combat. But even then, that was 12 hours into a 15 hour campaign. Maybe if some mods exist out there to make things a bit harder then I'd definitely consider jumping back into it.
I've heard a few people call Grim Fandango one of the greatest adventure games of all time or, at the very least, one of the better ones. After finishing it, I guess I could see why people would say that but I thought it was just alright.
Maybe I would have a different opinion of it if I had played more (bad?) point & click adventure games? There's plenty of things to like about Grim Fandango and it's definitely an enjoyable game but I just didn't come out of it thinking too highly of it.
You might notice a trend over the next few entries as they're all games developed by WayForward! I started with Neon because I really wanted to play a brawler and Double Dragon Neon is definitely one of those!
It's alright, I suppose. Nothing particularly noteworthy about it either. Totally inoffensive!
I've never played a Bloodrayne game before so I'm not familiar with the lore of the franchise and Betrayal doesn't do much of anything to add to it or explain any of it.
There are small bits of story at the beginning and the end and they don't really make a ton of sense within the context of the game. It also didn't seem like anything a fan of the series would get a lot out of either or maybe you would!
I found the combat to be not so good. It's pretty simple since there's really only one button used for attacking but it just felt a little half baked. It felt like there should have been a deeper combo system but it just never got implemented. There's also a point near the end of the game where it becomes a difficult platformer for no reason? You are suddenly asked to jump on these really tiny enemies across a pit of lava while other enemies shoot at you. I thought that stuff was fun but it also felt like should have been in a different game or at the very least some kind of optional thing.
It's very weird, but you know what's not weird? Late title cards and this game has a pretty good one! Not good enough to make up for the not so good stuff though.
The only reason I know what Might Switch Force is before I played it was the soundtrack, which is pretty cool (and free!) if you ask me. I saw the Hyper Drive edition pop up on Steam and I bought it immediately.
As it turns out, the game's pretty rad! It's a pretty simple game but it's fun! I think it looks very nice too. I only found out after I played it that they updated the art in the version I played but the original pixel art still looks good.
Also, Patricia Wagon is the best name for a police woman I've ever heard.
Mighty Switch Force! Hose It Down!
So, this game came to the PC about the same time the original did (or it might have been a little bit before) and I bought it along with that. You know Pipe Dream/the hacking mini-game from Bioshock?
This is basically that! It was also very obviously made for touch screen devices and playing it with a mouse isn't too great. It's a neat little game. Some of the puzzles later on get pretty devious though!
You can also spray the ladies you're supposed to rescue at the end each world with water if you want! A wholly unnecessary feature but still kind of cool.
There was also this one Let's Play I briefly saw, of this very game, where the person playing described Shantae as "so, so gorgeous" and that she had very pretty hair. I distinctly remember them coming off as very genuine about their love for Shantae in a believable, and not at all creepy, way.
For some reason, this is something that has been unable to escape my mind ever since I saw it.
Anyway, I've never actually seen much of these games and I'm not sure Risky's Revenge was the best place to start with this franchise. There was enough of a game to make me interested in playing another one of these but not quite enough to where I was satisfied with what was there.
This was originally a DS e-shop game so it sort of makes some sense. Oh yeah, and I think a lot of the UI looks kind of bad! It isn't stylized at all and it just looks a bit placeholder assets to me. Other than those things, it's a totally serviceable game!
I like this game a lot!
I first became aware of Assault Android Cactus when it first hit early access in 2014 and then I saw it on a guest GotY list on this site that same year. When the quick look for it went up it was kind of the tipping point for me.
I bought this immediately after I saw it, which is something that I don't usually do but I'm so glad I did! It's got a lot of things to it that I really enjoy; a sick logo build, a sound test, chibi character art in tutorials and cute robots!!
The game's also pretty fun and has some very smart design choices! The restart options are pretty good. After you get your first S+ rank (A perfect clear) you get an option so that the game will automatically restart after you lose the chance to get the S+.
It eliminates going into a menu and hitting restart whenever you mess up, it's a nice little option that makes shooting for high scores a lot easier. In a game that's about getting high scores on a leaderboard it's a vital feature that more games should definitely borrow.
There's also a good amount of variety to the characters. All sorts of neat weapons and different styles of play than you'd expect from a twin-stick shooter. The levels also take into account the different characters to a point where whenever I unlocked a new one I could recall a level I played previously where their weapons would come in handy.
I haven't played as much of the game that I'd have liked to but I could definitely see myself losing a lot more time to it! And I really want to, it's just that my hands really start to hurt after I play for about an hour...
I like this game a whole bunch!
I feel like I've written a ton about this game on this very website but I have no idea if you've seen that stuff so I'll just rewrite it all again!
So first off, this is the craziest looking game I've ever seen. It's like someone saw that Dali painting with the melting clocks and decided that was the aesthetic for this game. And then to make it even more surreal they decided to actually make most of the assets out of figurines and clay. It's a very specific look that's pulled off pretty well. I haven't even mentioned the animated pixel art hands that show up whenever you fight stuff that also look way too good? If I could describe it one word it would probably be nightmare or dream-like. Ephemeral is another good word for it too!
The dialogue and writing also contribute to the dreamy feel of the game. Almost all of it is randomly generated and changes pretty often. It's something that I did not like at all when I saw it in Not a Hero but Hylics makes it work. When you talk to most NPCs they just kind of blurt out word garbage but there are a distinct few who actually say sensible things and they stick out. Even names of locations and descriptions of party members are generated so it comes across that you just don't know the specifics of it so you just guess the rest.
Like, you know the mountain you were on had a crazy long name but you can't quite remember what it was. Or that one of your party members was some kind of scientist or that the lady in your party was a queen of something. It's this vague sense of remembrance that
There's also the combat, which is pretty standard turn-based JRPG combat but it's surrounded by so much weirdness. Not even "random" weirdness either, a lot of the ways you improve your party are tied into exploring the world. There aren't any levels in Hylics so instead of gaining XP to get new abilities you have to find TVs that are placed throughout the world to learn new skills for battle. Every party member can learn every skill too. So whenever you get a new one you can go back and get them caught up to speed by finding and watching a TV.
You don't gain stats normally either. Stats are mostly governed by equipment, which isn't a new thing, but there is one party member (the queen I mentioned earlier) who can increase her strength by consuming(?) little bugs that are kind of all over the place. HP and MP are gained increased in a similar way. Your MP goes up every time you drink from one of the various water coolers that are just hanging around and HP... Well, to increase your HP you have to die.
Because there's no fail state in this game! Which is strange for a genre where death usually means you have to reload a save so you can grind and level up. In Hylics when you die you go to the afterlife where there's a meat grinder that you put meat into so you can increase your health, crystals that you can use for fast travel and a beach!
I'll say it again, like this game a whole bunch! So much so, that I might even say it's my favorite game that came out in 2015 or even my second favorite game that I played in 2015!
Speaking of games that I like a whole bunch, Sakura Wars is definitely up there as one of my favorite games ever made. I wasn't expecting this to be much of anything when I picked it up with a bunch of other PS2 JRPGs but man...
Everything about this game: the look, the characters, the writing, the voice acting, it all feels like an anime. Every time you go into a combat encounter there's an animated video of your crew getting into their mechs. It also plays every single time before combat begins and before the final battle it plays the long version of the video instead of the truncated version it plays in the episodes prior.
Oh and there are previews for the next episode after you finish a chapter in the game! The only possible way this could be more anime is if had opening and ending songs at the edges of each episode or commercials between them. It doesn't even present this stuff in a tongue-in-cheek or jokey kinda way either. This game is so sincere and so genuine about it that it feels like a lovingly made video game adaption of some show I could have watched when I was a kid.
It's also a visual novel that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend if given the chance. Usually VNs are all about reading text and making choices and most people consider that stuff to be pretty boring.
Sakura Wars adds a little bit of adventure game elements and some proto-Telltale style persistence. There's also lot more interactivity to the visual novel portions beyond choosing dialogue options and making choices. Sometimes a gauge will pop up because you have to adjust the intensity of what you're saying or doing. Other times there will be a timer while you contemplate making a choice or a mini-game where you have to move the sticks. I probably sound like an idiot praising things like this but trust me when I say there are moments where this stuff is awesome.
It's also kind of impressive since the game originally came out in 2005!
Then there's the relationship stuff, which might be my favorite part of the game. You can build your relationship with your teammates during the downtime to make them a little bit more powerful during combat. It's the only kind of progression that gets added to the combat and it can sometimes trigger mid-battle conversations that are nice. They're nice! There's also a 'point of no return' where you get to pick your partner for the final mission and after you do that the final few hours of the game center around that character and builds upon their arc.
I'm not quite sure how to eloquently explain it but they really do right by the characters and it's really heartwarming!
I feel like I could (and probably should?) write an entire blog post about how much I like this game and there's so much more stuff I'd like to touch on but I should probably stop because this post is going to be long enough already!
The one thing I would like to explicitly state about my time with this game is that throughout playing it I had just about the biggest smile on my face. Even writing about it now I just can't help myself from smiling! This game just makes me really happy!
ALSO; I didn't finish the game with Rosita as my partner but I went back and saw a little bit of that stuff and I almost cried. Almost!
For so long have a I heard and used the phrase Metroidvania without ever truly seeing what the "vania" half of it was. After seeing this game praised so highly and put on the schedule for the various GDQs, I finally "get it".
The movement in this game is super satisfying and it feels really great to play, which is always a nice thing to experience in a fairly old game. There were multiple times where I found myself just idly thinking about backdashing.
An incredibly odd thought but it's a testament to how awesome it feels to control Alucard.
I kind of wish I had more to say about Symphony of the Night but I kind of only played it to satisfy a curiosity I had. It definitely seems like a good 'vania but it only took me a little under 3 hours to finish the game.
Probably because this isn't the first time I've played a really good game of this type and it's not as mind-blowing as it might have been if I played it back then? Or maybe it's because I never got around to finding that upside-down castle people always talk about...
RTS' are one of those genres that I have very little experience with. Dota 2 is the only game I've played that's even remotely similar to an RTS but I recognized that it's an entirely different beast. I was curious to see if I could get into the genre. So I picked up, GrimGrimoire because it seemed like a good place to start. It also has a cute witch on the cover!
The micro is the part of RTS game that intimidates me, I always stayed away from micro heavy characters like Meepo and Chen in Dota because I feared I just wasn't dexterous enough to control them. I didn't run up against that problem during my time playing GG. Not that a PS2 controller is the best way to micro manage a bunch of units but I never felt overwhelmed because of an inability to move my units around.
I did feel overwhelmed later on in the game because I didn't really know what I was doing but I managed to beat the game with little frustration. It's a Vanillaware game so the art is as expected; stylish, fantastical and very well made. The story, which is about time travel, was pretty easy to follow up until I entered the third or fourth time loop. It was about then when I lost track of most of the character's motivations and things just got a little too crazy.
I'm definitely interested in picking up some other RTS games on the PC after spending some time with a bit of an 'easier' game. The problem I'm facing now is that I kind of don't know where to start!
If I could find another RTS with cute characters and art then I'd definitely give it a shot but no such luck. At least now I can say I have some experience with the genre now!
I had been meaning to check out the Lords of Shadow games ever since I saw one Vincent Caravella show the original game off on those various UPFs so long ago.
Lords of Shadow is an enjoyable albeit flawed game. There's probably more flaws than I can remember at this point but I remember the combat being pretty lackluster. Not the act of fighting itself but more so the rules and limitations around what you can and cannot do during combat.
I distinctly remember not being able to dodge attacks while you were in the air which made any kind of aerial combat a pretty bad idea if I was fighting more than one enemy. It also took me a while to realize that the 'unblockable' attacks that enemies do also can't be dodged which made playing on hard a little bit frustrating. Other than those little things I enjoyed playing through the game.
The puzzles were a nice break from the combat that make use of the combat moves in a clever way and I didn't mind the Uncharted-style traversal stuff.
The lore and story seems to take on a bigger role than they ever appeared to in the other Castlevania games. The story told isn't amazing but it's definitely entertaining. The worldbuilding is mostly done through scrolls you find on the various dead bodies that are in the levels and as uninteresting as that may sound they make it work.
The lore justification for them existing is that the Brotherhood on the hunt for the Lords of Shadow carry these magic scrolls with that automatically transcribe their dying thoughts so that they might aid other Brotherhood members. So mixed into the occasional hints are the thoughts of these crusaders trying their hardest to maintain their composure in the face of death and I think it's super cool!
There's also an appreciable amount of heart put into this game and it shows. I mean, look at this cartoonish scene of a skeleton sneaking up on Gabriel Belmont! There's all sorts of little things like this that show the team working on the game had some fun with it, which is always nice to see!
No matter which angle I try to look at it from I always arrive at the same conclusion; Mirror of Fate isn't a good game. It does not succeed as a Lords of Shadow game and it does not succeed as a Castlevania game.
The Lords of Shadow games, or I guess it was just "game" when this first came out, are cinematic character action games. Mirror of Fate tries to condense that kind of combat into the 2D plane and I just don't think it works.
The over-the-top combos should be fun but it just looks and feels so lame. The enemies are so benign that the combat ends up feeling like busywork instead of a challenge, even on hard mode.
I can't say I really understand the decision to spread the gameplay across 3 different characters either. They all play so similarly and the exploration suffers because of it. I'm usually the kind of person who goes crazy trying to collect everything but you barely spend any significant amount of time with each character. You never revisit any of the characters either so I never felt incentivized to seek out any collectibles or upgrades.
The story is maybe one of the only noteworthy aspects to the game but all the important story bits you'll get from Mirror of Fate are retold and explained over the course of Lords of Shadow 2.
Mirror of Fate is just plain uneccesary.
Downwell is so fun!
You jump down a well, stomp and shoot enemies and string together kill chains. It's very rogue-lite and for a game about descent there's very little depth. Which is to say, the skill and knowledge ceiling isn't as high as it's counterparts but the game is so fun!
The only difference between a combo of 25 and 225 is that the latter is just a bigger number. Getting combos higher than 25 is actually to your detriment because you don't get rewarded afterwards.
But it's so satisfying! To continuously jump on and shoot enemies as you make a rapid descent from level to level... It's just so much fun!
I'm not as into Life is Strange as most people who champion this game are. In fact, as someone who really likes Remember Me (and knows there will probably never be a sequel) I'm a little bit dissapointed in it.
I do like the game quite a bit though and I'm not about to discount how important this game is. It's obviously a game that really resonates with some people and it's awesome that it does! I'm just not one of those people.
Although there's something to be said about a game that didn't really resonate with me that somehow managed to keep me going across one big 12+ play session. There was also a point, let's say around the time I started episode 3, where I stopped really thinking about consequences and just kinda flowed through the game. This is going to sound incredibly lame, hella lame even, but I'm going to write it anyway!
I stopped playing with my mind and started playing with my heart.
It's something I didn't truly realize I did until I watched all of the GB East Playdate. The guys discuss the morality and possible outcomes of the choices before they make them where as I just kind of went with what I felt was right. I even disregarded the fact that I could just see the outcome of a choice and rewind if I wasn't satisfied. Once it was all over I felt like I every choice I made was the right one.
Also, I saved Chloe because c'mon.
As far as I'm concerned the only thing that needed to be added to Lords of Shadow 2 for me to like it was an air dash. I am delighted to tell you that in Castelvania: Lords of Shadow 2 that you can dash and dodge attacks in the air!
The entire combat system was revamped and reworked so instead of unlocking new combat abilities as the story progresses you gain XP as you defeat enemies and can unlock moves at your leisure! It's definitely an improvement over the system that was featured in the first game.
Unfortunately, because you can freely choose which combat moves you have the game can't rely on you having them for puzzles. So they took all those out and replaced them with stealth sequences. Because everybody loves stealth in non-stealth games!
I kid, but honestly there are way more missteps in this game than there are advancements. The stealth sequences, bland writing, weaker story and uninteresting use of a unique premise are all a huge bummer. I haven't even mentioned the biggest sin this game commits either; when you pick up a collectible and you die before you hit a checkpoint you have to pick it up again. This didn't happen in the first game so I honestly have no idea why this is even a thing?
Overall it's a worse game but there are a few things that I like about Lords of Shadow 2. The combat is better, as I mentioned, and I think the darker and edgier tone the game takes on is equal parts hilarious and kind of cool. Dracula vomits blood on a giant crystal within the first 30 minutes of the game and there's a scene where Satan himself just pulls someones face off. The monster designs also got way better in this sequel. They're a lot more grotesque and memorable than the safe designs of the creatures in the first game.
Even though it's a better playing game than the first it's a very disappointing sequel. The fact that it ends so abruptly and has been said to be the last game of the franchise makes it so much more disappointing.
Lots of squandered potential on this one.
When I bought this game I thought it would be pretty funny to write about it for this thing. And if you asked me what this game was when I bought it I probably would have guessed it was a poker game where you could ogle anime women in bikinis.
Surprisingly, Poker Pretty Girls Battle is just a poker game. Just a poker game. The entire 'pretty girls' part of the title is so thinly stretched over the top of this game that I'm actually surprised that it's even there at all.
I mean, there are anime ladies in this game and they have names. But they're not characters. You do not interact with them in any meaningful capacity or even see much of them beyond their image appearing next to a hand of poker being played at the table. You cannot talk to these ladies. You cannot hang out with them. You do not get to know them. You can't buy them presents like in Dead or Alive Extreme. You can't even "rub" them or whatever was going on in that one PS4 Mahjong game. It's just a poker game. Your chips aren't even worth anything. You don't get to unlock any pictures of these ladies. You don't get to unlock anything. There is no progression, only poker.
Your only reward for besting these women in a game of cards is the privilege to play more poker against a different set of women. It's just a poker game and I'm not even sure it's a good one of those. Because you could just set your bet to 'All In' and eventually you'll just win.
I'm upset there isn't any sort of lecherous angle to any part of this game. I'm upset there isn't anything else to this game other than poker.
I don't really know what I was expecting with this one. 100% Orange Juice! is a really fun game that I haven't played nearly enough of but the fun lies is the gameplay and less in the characters.
200% Mixed Juice! is definitely more about the characters since it's an RPG and not a board game focused on dice rolls. Despite not being a big fan of the developer's games I did have fun with 200%. It's a fun little inter-dimensional romp with very basic combat and endearing characters.
I mean, I did go through the trouble of getting all the achievements and 100%-ing the game...
I just imagine that I would have had a better time with it if I had played any of Orange Juice's other games.
Originally, I had planned to play Kuru Kuru Kururin and Roundabout back to back but I didn't actually own the latter by the time I started playing this game. It was on sale but I didn't buy it for whatever reason.
After finishing Kururin, I have very little desire to play another game where you pilot a constantly rotating vehicle. I fired this game back up while I was writing this and I can't even imagine how I managed to get through some of the later courses.
It gets real unforgiving later on. There aren't any checkpoints in the levels so you need to navigate the mazes with near perfect precision to finish. It's a good thing most of the levels aren't too long. The longer courses take about 3 minutes at most to finish if you're not trying to get a fast clear time.
It's definitely a challenging game but I think I've had enough of this particular brand of hellish maze game for a while.
Even now, several months after I've finished it, I can't quite find words that seem adequate enough to explain how much I appreciate Read Only Memories. But I'll try anyway!
Read Only Memories might be the only game that I can remember playing that has gone out of it's way to make me feel comfortable. To avoid any confusion, there's a point shortly after you start where Turing, a sapient machine who accompanies you throughout the game, ask how you'd like to be addressed. You can input your name as well as your preferred pronouns and as someone who has struggled trying to figure out my own self identity, it's maybe the first time I've ever felt confident answering any questions of the sort.
It was a very reassuring moment for me and it was something I didn't realize I needed.
Even without it, there's a good chance I would have probably left Read Only Memories with a positive opinion. It's an investigative adventure that isn't dissimilar to something like the Phoenix Wright and has a look that reminds a lot of certain PC-Engine games.
I've read about an update that is coming soon that's adds a little post-game stuff and I'm super excited to jump back into it and see everyone again!
The only thing that stands out about this otherwise straightforward game about an artificial human fighting through their own psyche in an effort to regain control of their body is the boss fights. Not because they're difficult or broken or amazing. It's the actual bosses themselves.
At first glance they look polygonal but upon closer inspection I discovered that all the bosses are FMV of puppets and plushies! It's not as noticeable on the first few bosses (giant furball, giant duck, giant squid) but it's painfully obvious on the last couple (dog playing drums, necromancer dog, giant plant thing?) and it's just the cutest thing I've ever seen.
The game is okay too! It's a very basic arcadey action-platformer with a premise that's the kind of thing you'd only expect to see in an old NES manual. The game also does a bit of storytelling between levels and has a couple of info dumps that are... less than good.
But it's pretty short and not too difficult either. It's the kind of game you could spend a nice few hours playing.
I adore this game's low poly character models, moody lighting and pairing it all with actual paintings results in a really cool aesthetic. The story is told in a very indirect manner and the very little info I've gleamed from it just by playing the game seems very cool.
The part where it loses me is the deliberately paced combat that just feels terrible. It's just so sluggish and unresponsive it's almost unbearable. It doesn't help that there's little to no animations either, it makes the game feel like a perpetual work in progress.
I love everything surrounding the gameplay but when it comes to actually playing Malebolgia it's like being forced to play a souls game with no armor, no shield and your least favorite weapon.
Flight and driving games are among the few kinds of games I tend to stay away from. I can't even drive a car in real life so a game where piloting any kind of virtual vehicle is the main focus just isn't interesting to me.
Luckily, Kromaia is on the arcadey side of flight games rather than the simulation side. So I found it to be a bit more approachable since I'm not at all used to flying in video games. As for the game itself, it's pretty rad! This game has an exhilarating sense of speed and the faux open world environments enable you to reach top speeds without any worry of crashing.
There is a big caveat that I think will turn off most people to this game. There are four levels, each with their own boss. After you beat the boss of that level you get access to a new ship and to beat the game you have to finish every level with every ship.
It kinda sucks but the game is supposed to have a system to make replaying the levels a lot less boring. A dynamic AI system that's supposed to adapt to how you play and serve you different types of enemies to keep you on your toes. I don't think I ended up seeing that in action but it sounds like a neat idea!
Again, this game looks super cool and has an awesome sense of speed. You can even unlock a grappling hook if you look hard enough. Bad games don't have grappling hooks in them!
I played this game on PC and I didn't bother to actually look this up but as I was playing this game I had the nagging feeling that this was originally made for phones. It's a no-button game for starters. Well, that's not totally true. I could hold down 'A' and it would put up my shield/charge up some special move that I never got to work reliably.
You also attack enemies by running into them and since it's a real-time game and not tile-based or turn-based it just feels really bad. bit Dungeon II is also a loot game but the way you level up makes a lot of the loot totally useless. When you level up you gain stats that are determined by whatever weapon you're holding. Most weapons only have one stat attached to them but there are certain weapons that have two and I ended up using one of those.
It seemed like whenever I came across a better weapon that had way better base stats than what I had equipped whenever I picked it up I would do considerably less damage. So by continuing to use a single type of weapon I was effectively making every other weapon type less and less viable.
Oh, by the way, every boss and dungeon in the game is the same.
The dungeons all contain two keys and once you find them you fight the boss. To get the keys you have to step on (or push a block onto) a switch and once you do a key will show up somewhere. Rinse and repeat for every dungeon. The bosses are even more samey, they all just fire projectiles at you and that's about it.
I didn't find most of this game to be fun. The only thing I did enjoy about it was the fact that stuns are so overpowered in this game that they allow you to literally run through every enemy and boss without worry.
For whatever reason, I really want brawlers (or beat'em'ups if you prefer to call them that) to be better. I want there to be a game that comes out to just revolutionize the genre and turn it on it's head. I think Devil's Dare could've been that game to do it, if it handled some it's elements in a different way.
There's permadeath in this game. When you die and you don't have enough money to continue you have to delete your save. The game just sits on this "Continue?" screen and your options are continue and one that says delete your save. Every time I saw this screen, my only option was to delete my save because the first, and only times, I died I never got far enough to earn enough money to continue or get the item that nets you a free continue. So I hit "Delete Your Save" and then it gracefully kicks you back to the main menu where you're given the option to start the entire game over from the beginning.
It feels so antagonistic and it might be the worst feeling implementation of permadeath I've ever seen.
That's just one of the few problems though. The other big problem is that there's very little reason to play the game multiple times. Because games with permadeath are probably designed to be played more than once, right?
There's some of that in Devil's Dare. After you complete a level you can spend money on a single upgrade, item or forgo buying something altogether and save your money. As you continue throughout the game the levels get longer and you fight different bosses. Those all sound like good ideas but... in practice I just don't think it works.
The upgrades exist in two types; those that upgrade your character's special moves or just general character improvements (more health, more money for killing enemies, etc.). There are only 3 special move upgrades (one for each move) per character and the upgrades aren't that great. Same for the other upgrades. It just didn't feel like my character was getting stronger and that the game had very little to offer in terms of replayability. I think that might be all the things I don't like, so let's move on to the positives!
I think the act of playing the game, the part where you fight dudes is alright. You can cancel every action into every other action as long as you have the meter for it and I think that's pretty fun. But even this game isn't safe from the tried and true brawler strategy of getting enemies into the corner and just hitting them forever. At least it's kind of fun to do that in Devil's Dare.
There's no kind way to put this but Dusty Revenge is a hot mess. It is functional but the ways in which it isn't make me question how anyone felt acceptable releasing it in this state. The game didn't recognize half my inputs, the placement of platforms wasn't at all representative of what was actually drawn for them and boss fights starting well before the intro cutscenes before them end.
Not to mention the various visual glitches (jittery character movement, enemies showing up as a broken mess of art in the shape of hitboxes) in an otherwise very pretty looking game.
When I first started up Life of Pixel I thought I was in for a semi-educational trip through the history of video game machines. Each set of 8 levels (it might be 6, I don't really remember) takes place in a different machine, starting with the ZX81 and goes as far as the Master System. Each set begins with a nice rundown of the technical capabilities of each machine and the levels contain, as far as I can tell, accurate visuals and music.
But that's about where the history lessons end, the gameplay is the same across every set of levels. You collect crystals and go to the exit. No changes, no variance. It's fine early on but as you advance through systems the levels get way too long and the game becomes very tedious. I would have liked, or at least appreciated, if the gameplay slowly advanced as you went from system. It would be cool to see someone try to depict how gameplay has changed since 70's.
Life of Pixel doesn't quite pull that off and just kind of feels like nothing more than a glorified nostalgia trip. Maybe I'd be singing a different tune if I actually grew up with these machines instead of just reading about them? Who knows!
I will give the devs credit though; they managed to do that weird color-blending thing that I always see in Spectrum games. So maybe this game ain't all bad...
TowerFall is only on this list because I finished all the single player content the game has to offer. It's not a very good single player experience but I don't doubt that it has the potential to be a fun time if you're playing it with someone else.
I wrote a little something about Hatred when I first finished it but I didn't save it anywhere so it's lost out there somewhere in cyberspace.
The main thing the I took away from Hatred is that it's not a good game. I compared it to Metal Slug, which is maybe not the first game someone would associate with Hatred but gameplay goals are very similar.
You shoot dudes!
The difference is how it presents this and justifies the violence. Metal Slug is a depiction of war, not a particularly accurate one but a depiction nonetheless. The people are shooting are the enemy! Sometimes they're a man with a gun and other times it's Mars People, mummies or zombies. Hatred is a depiction of a killing spree; the people you shoot are either civilians or law enforcement trying to stop your senseless rampage. It's a rather touchy subject and I don't think the game tries to say anything worthwhile about it.
Not that it needs to, I wasn't even expecting it to anyway. The initial trailers that caused such an uproar seemed to promise a rather brutal game but I don't think they made that game either. The game I played is really cheesy and really, really lame.
There's a scene near the end of the game where the main character logs into a computer (the password is 666!!!!), arms a nuke, and then proceeds to blow up a town after being cornered by the military.
The objectives in the story mode are also very, very similar to each other. Most levels have you kill X number of civilians and then survive for X number of minutes against waves of police until you're allowed to leave the level. These levels all take place in levels that are relatively open, the game mentions in the tutorial that you should explore these spaces because you might find something interesting. I never found anything of actual interest. Just people aimlessly wandering around. There are a couple levels (literally 2) that are kind of different. They're linear levels where all you have to do is move to the other end of the map.
The weapons are also not fun to use at all. All the bullet weapons, even the default pistol, are all fairly inaccurate and somehow weapons like a flamethrower or a rocket launcher manage to be incredibly dull.
But you know what game has an awesome flamethrower/rocket launcher? Metal Slug.
I don't know much about bullet hell games beyond a certain popular series but I have somehow acquired a good number of them in my Steam library. VULKAISER is one of them and I finished it so let me tell you a few things about it.
It's a shooter of the horizontal variety instead of the vertical oriented shooters I'm used to. It also uses a health system which is a lot easier to deal with instead of the one hit kills I'm used to.
It's also a pretty smart design choice because you cannot continue in this game! You have to finish every stage without losing all your health, or in other words you have to 'one credit clear' the game. I think this also the one of the few games I've ever 1CC'd.
The VULKAISER, which looks very similar to the various MAZINGER mechs to me, can also COMBINE with various other mechs (or is it mecha?) which change your shot type and bomb effect.
It's a neat game!
Another one of those shooting games. The hook Don'Yoku is that you have utilize your bombs, which are giant, buff men for whatever reason, to turn all the projectiles on screen into giant yen coins. Which, obviously, get you big points.
It took me a while to realize that this is what I was supposed to be doing and I got to final boss, which is actual bullet hell compared to the rest of the game, a few times before running out of continues. Can't say I was really feeling it but it's totally okay!
So for the first, let's say, third of Fitz the Fox was just a standard platformer. It felt a bit floaty but it was just fine. But after you beat the first boss you change characters. Instead of playing as who I assume to be the titular fox, you take control of a pink fox with a gun.
You can use the gun to shoot enemies or propel yourself forward while you're in the air, almost like a rocket jump. The game starts making the levels a lot longer and packs them with a lot more enemies. Which would be fine is the checkpointing was good. But it isn't.
If you run out of lives you have to start the entire set of levels over again from the beginning. Which would be fine if the levels were short. But they aren't. Doing an entire set of 3 5-minute long levels over and over again because the games idea of a challenge is throwing spiky thwomp-like enemies at you from off screen is not fun!
The only reason I didn't stop playing out of frustration was because by the time I decided I was done I was also just so close to finishing the game.
Not much I can really say about this one as it looks and plays just about how you'd expect. Like one of those retro throwback sorts of things.
Belladonna is very obviously somebody's first attempt at making a game. It's a point n click adventure game and the puzzles are incredibly easy. The exposition is primarily done through journal entries that are just lying around the mansion the game takes place in.
It feels like supplementary material, a prequel to a much grander story. I suppose if you wanted to put a positive spin on it, you could say it's a pretty accessible game. It's an hour long and the puzzles aren't difficult, anybody could play it and possibly have a good time!
The story isn't particularly terrible; imagine Frankenstein but with lesbians. It's a reductive way of putting but that's how it was presented to me and it delivers on that premise. So if that sounds like something you'd be into then maybe give this a shot?
If you've ever wanted to see how a translation can negatively impact a game then you should definitely play Discouraged Workers! This game was originally written in Korean and the English translation is readable but the writing is so sterile.
It reads more like an unbiased retelling of events than an actual story, if that makes any sense. Maybe I'm assigning too much blame to the translation, I can't read Korean so maybe the original script is as lifeless as what I read.
Regardless, the game lacks emotion and with a story is centered around the fairly emotional topics of unemployment, depression and suicide, emotion seems like a key component if you want people to empathize with the characters.
When I bought this, I didn't look into it very much after I found out it was about catgirls that worked in some kind of cafe. I was pretty much sold at that point so I decided it was best to avoid any specifics until I got around to playing it.
For the first few hours or so, I was really liking Nekopara. It was lighthearted fun that was silly and a little heartwarming too. I wasn't expecting much beyond cute catgirls, of which there are many, so I was definitely having a good time with it. I didn't think there could possibly be anything that could happen in the story to stop the good times.
I was wrong.
Sometime around the middle of the game (around chapter 4 if I had to guess) one of the two leading catgirls, Chocola, basically goes into heat. The main character (whose name escapes me) eventually decides that the best solution to this problem is to have sex with her. Then the same thing happens to her twin sister, Vanilla, and then he has sex with her too. A threesome occurs shortly afterwards.
Normally, I'd be totally indifferent to something like this happening. I played (and enjoyed!) HuniePop and you can have relations with a catgirl in that game too. The problem I have with Nekopara is that the first three chapters are spent establishing a paternal relationship between the main character and his two catgirls.
He states that they're both like daughters to him and even utters the classic Dad line; "They grow up so fast!". Not to mention the multiple scenes that end with the punchline "Well they are still cats after all!".
It just feels totally unwarranted and kind of gross. Granted, the actual scenes aren't present in the Steam version (which might actually be worse?) but the lead up is there and the post-coital scenes are there.
I was expecting cute catgirls, and to be fair there are quite a few of them in Nekopara, but I also got a discomforting amount of heavily implied penetration and I'm not cool with that at all.
I played through the entirety of this game. I went through all the routes and I've seen all the endings (even the secret harem ending!) in both the censored and the uncensored versions of the game. So I think I've seen enough of this game to confidently say that it's bad.
I wouldn't say it's awful by any means, but I would totally understand if someone told me they thought it was. It's just kind of bad in nearly every aspect.
The premise has a bit of potential but nothing interesting is done with it. The setup is as follows; You are a literally faceless young adult male (he has a name but honestly it doesn't even matter) who is actually the reincarnation of Zeus, king of the gods! But before you can ascend to the heavens and regain your godly powers you must choose between two goddesses, Yui Aphrodite and Ryn Athena, and make one of them your wife. As you can see, there's room for all sorts of shenanigans to occur.
Unfortunately there's very little to the whole 'slice of life' part of the title. There's even a line that mentions there could be other goddesses who might try to seduce you in order to steal one of your female companions rightful spot along side you in the heavens. Nothing like that ever happens though making it just a throwaway line that hints at what could have been.
In fact, it feels like the premise only exists to highlight the fact that Zeus slept around a lot because you're mostly boning various ladies in this game. Which is fine but even all of that stuff is pretty lackluster.
Especially if you're playing the censored version because instead of changing the scenes to something else (not to say that would be a better solution), it just cuts out the explicit descriptions of the various sex acts. You don't even get a fade to black, just a hard cut from the lead-up to the aftermath. Everyone's also fully clothed and even I know that's not how sex happens.
There's also full voice acting for pretty much all the characters except for the protagonist (because he's supposed to be you, the player!), and that's awesome! I'm glad they managed to get some people to voice most of the dialog. Too bad most of it is devoid of any actual voice "acting". Most of the reads are pretty flat and it doesn't help that the voice recordings are poorly mixed. You actually have to turn the music down in-game if you want to hear any of it.
I do think the voice actress who plays Yui is the best of the bunch even though she sounds like she constantly has her 'sexy' voice on. And you know what? I think character art is alright. Just alright.
I don't think you should play this game at all but if you do, look into buying the version that isn't censored because that's clearly the game they wanted to make from the start.
HuniePop is way too good than it has any right to be. The match 3 part of it is, anyway. Most match 3 hybrids I've played (Legend of Fae and 10,000,000 are the first to come to mind) require quick reflexes. You need to keep matching or else you'll end up in a bad situation!
In HuniePop you might be able get away with that on the first few dates but eventually the game gets pretty hard. You can build a loadout - which is made up of perfumes, shoes, stuffed animals and similar things - to basically set up combo chains and manipulate the board in your favor.
It is incredibly satisfying, not to mention absolutely essential, to build a loadout, set up a combo chain and get to a point where you can look at the board and say "I'm going to win on my next move." and then actually pull it all off. It's weird to have so much control in a type of game where you often have little to none.
I realize it's very easy to look at all the stuff surrounding the match 3 game and write it off as garbage. To be honest I wouldn't blame anyone for doing so. Those things are all very hateable but I genuinely enjoy them!
The music is pleasant, the voice acting is perfect and the art is really nice too. The sprites aren't so great but every time you finish a date you'll get a picture from the lady you just dated and all of those are very nice! I also bought the digital artbook (sorry) and a lot of extras in it are way too good???
The only thing that I wish was better are the character interactions. All the ladies have likes and dislikes but you never learn about them in any meaningful way. There are bits of personality you can gleam from the brief conversations you can have with them but there just wasn't enough of it there for me.
Still, the conversations feed back in to the match 3 game in a very significant way so I understand why it is the way it is but I can't help but feel like it could've been so much better.
So, I bought this along with Vol.1 and I figured if I suffered through I might as well suffer through another. Luckily, Vol.0 is exactly what I wanted out of the first volume. Cute catgirls doing mundane things! It's about a third of the length of the first game, which is a bummer, but it also has a crucial new feature.
At any moment, as long as there is a character sprite on screen, you can click on a little button located in the upper right which allows you to pet the character on screen. This adds an unprecedented amount of interactivity to the game since there aren't any branching paths. You can also pet them for as long as you want, never-ending joy at the click of a button!
There's also a scene where two of the catgirls are arguing and the voice acting for the scene is just two Japanese women angrily hissing and mewing at each other.
It's everything I wanted out of the first game and then some!
The problem I run into with a lot of the otome games that I've seen is that the few that look good cost a lot of money and the few that are withing my price range are kind of hard to look at. So when I saw this game on sale for the ridiculously low price of $3 on Steam I bought it without thinking twice. I was psyched! Then, I played the game and saw the premise and got even more psyched!
Your character wakes up in a space between universes with her memories gone. They've been replaced by a rather friendly spirit who offers to help you get them back. This is all the prologue mind you; the game doesn't truly begin until you are given the choice to essentially choose your route/guy you would like to date.
This all happens in this weird purgatory and the different routes are presented as alternate universes. The game even explicitly mentions that you will see the same characters but their motivations and relationships with each other could be wildly different from what you might have seen in another universe. I thought this would be super interesting since your character is an amnesiac, there would be no way of actually knowing who you could and couldn't trust. Again, the game explicitly says not to let any one trick you into think they're your boyfriend or not to fall victim to a pyramid scheme.
The reality is that everyone else plays a similar role in each route and the only thing that changes is your character's relationships with everyone else. It seems like a waste of an otherwise interesting premise but I haven't seen every route so maybe there is something interesting that I just haven't seen. But to see that the only difference between the two routes I chose was that the protagonist was romantically involved with someone else is kind of a bummer.
The routes I've seen also have some... questionable content in them. Maybe problematic is a better word to use? One of the routes has your character end up in a dog cage and part of the good ending is the guy who puts you in there justifying it by saying that "It was for your own good!". It's very strange.
A part of me does want to go back and finish out the rest of it just to see what's there. Hopefully I'll like it more than the stuff I've already seen. I mean, I'm not a relationship expert but you probably shouldn't let the person you love put you in a cage without your consent. Right??
Tembo is a very straightforward game. You run, you jump, you attack bad guys. That's kind of all there is to it, really!
I was extremely anxious in the moments before I finally started playing Valkyria Chronicles. I bought around the time it first got ported to PC but never got around to playing it until recently. After I finished Sakura Wars I did a little bit of reading and discovered that the team who worked on that game would eventually go on to make Valkyria Chronicles.
So I was expecting something similar to it and was only met with disappointment. Don't get me wrong, this is a fine game but it's not at all what I was hoping it would be. The only similarities it shares with Sakura Wars is the combat system. The battles are a lot more tense in Valkyria Chronicles but the battles were also my least favorite part of Sakura Wars.
Even the soldiers you recruit in this game ended up being pretty disappointing too. I was initially very excited to see that every soldier was unique, had a little backstory written for them and that you could even bring their friends onto the battlefield so you can boost their morale. None of that stuff, most likely due to my own incompetence, ever really payed off either.
I'm not even totally against playing another game in this series. I already own 2, so I'm probably going to play that eventually.
It's just that seeing that this was the follow up to Sakura Wars, which ended up being one of my favorite games I've ever played, and it has very little in common with the game that preceded it. But maybe it's my fault for expecting it to in the first place?
I'm lumping these two together because I played them back to back and they're part of the same series. My thoughts on Evoland can also be summed up in a few a few sentences.
To put it simply, Evoland feels a lot like a game jam game. It originally began it's life as one and it shows. There's very little originality and even though it manages to emulate a few specific games (The Legend of Zelda, various Final Fantasies, Diablo) it's never a /good/ version of those games.
Evoland 2 though? It is such a better product. The gimmick remains the same, you'll experience various visual styles and gameplay changes but it's tied to a narrative in a plausible way. The places it goes are also kind of nuts! It's still fairly telegraphed but I still got really excited whenever a big gameplay change happened.
I don't want to say any more because I don't really want to spoil the surprise for you if you think it sounds interesting. It's a lot of fun, especially if you're familiar and a fan of all different types of games. It's not quite the playable plunderphonics I had hoped it would be but it's pretty darn close!
For what may be the last Metal Gear game made by Kojima, The Phantom Pain plays like a dream. I've played through a fair number of MGS games recently and there were always neat gameplay interactions in them. But most of them were secrets, little bonuses that show that when the developers really did think of everything. TPP, being an open world game, is designed in such a way that it makes finding that stuff a lot more accessible. There are less restrictions and if you want to do something your way the game rarely does anything to stop you. And it's awesome!
But it feels like there's a distinct lack of the other thing that makes the series so special, the characters and story. The Phantom Pain definitely has it's moments but there's a lot of filler that doesn't add much to the overall narrative.
I also don't like the cassette tapes as a replacement for the codec, but I say that as someone who really likes the codec. I figured if anything on those cassettes was of any importance they would actually go through the trouble of forcing me listen to it, right? Unsurprisingly, there is a key moment where the game forces you to listen to a tape. It does take place in a cutscene but you do get a copy of the tape afterwards, so I guess I was only half-right.
I feel like I should have walked away from this game with nothing but great things to say about it but it's the only Metal Gear game I played where I spent a large portion of time actively disliking it.
I wanted to see it through to the end so I had to tolerate playing it and I was met with very little payoff.
So, I really like FFXIII and knowing the series' history with direct sequels I wasn't going into this expecting much. I don't like XIII-2 nearly as much as I would have hoped.
There are certainly things to like about it though; The game opens up a lot earlier than XIII did. There are side quests and places to explore! But the side quests I found were mostly uninteresting fetch quests and the areas are small and recycled pretty often.
The combat is mostly the same but my options felt a lot more limited in XIII-2. The party members in XIII could utilize all 6 of the combat roles but they each had 3 roles that they specialized in. Serah and Noel can also use all six roles but they never felt like they were good at anything beyond their starting roles. I suppose your third party member, one of the various tameable monsters you fight, is supposed to make up for this but the creature raising never really clicked with me. The "aha!" moment I had with the combat in XIII never happened in this game. I certainly didn't struggle with it but I never felt like I was getting the most out of all the systems available.
Oh and the story is just such a mess. Time travel stories are by their very nature complex but XIII-2 is just unnecessarily convoluted. Every event seems to be explained away with the excuse of "Well, this person is also a time traveler!". It's really, really dumb and not the good type of dumb.
I should also mention Lightning who, despite being the most important character in this game, is barely present. I have a rather... irrational fondness for Lightning. I got a little teary eyed when she finally makes her appearance near the end. But it still feels kind of deceptive to put her all over the marketing only to have have her sister and some John Drake looking dude go off and play time janitor for most of the game.
Like I said, there's plenty of cool stuff about this game; the CINEMATIC ACTIONS are fun and the Paradox Endings seem interesting even if I didn't find a lot of them. The soundtrack is also exceptional; please listen to this Nu-Metal version of the chocobo theme and tell me it's not the best/worst thing you've ever heard. As cool as those things may be it's just quite enough to overshadow the things I dislike about it. I haven't bought it yet but Lighting Returns seems like it'd be something I really enjoy, if only for the amount of Lightning and the ability to change outfits.
Someone on my Steam friends list bought and gifted me a copy of this game over the Holiday Sale and I think I played and finished it the very same day. The Metal Slug games are pretty cool! They always have been and it's nice to confirm that they continue to look awesome and play like you'd expect them to.
3 will always be my favorite but X (which I recently found out is just a slightly updated version of 2) is alright too!
I spent the first 30 minutes of my time playing Undertale trying to erase my save file so I could rename my character because I immediately thought of a better name after I started playing.
I never managed to figure out how to change my name.
Undertale is alright.