Games played in 2019

'Ere we go again, lads.

SPOILERS

OBV

Same rules apply as last time - It'll mostly be finished games but I'll mention games that I drop if I feel like talking about them.

Platforms: All Nintendo and MS consoles. Ps2/Ps3 and Vita. All Sega Consoles. Shitty laptop and marginally better desktop that I barely use.

I made a New Years Resolution to do the following:

1. Buy no new games (exceptions are OLD games, trade ins and pre orders made before this vow)

2. Finish a 3d Zelda

3. Finish a Wizardry game (or offshoot)

4. Finish a 3d Mario

List items

  • PC Original Eng Release

    (Old Sprites - I find them more effective..Rena's crab hands are the thing of nightmares alone)

    5 hours?

    Have you ever had a nightmare that felt like it never ended? Where everything that you held dear slowly fell apart around you?

    This is that story.

    The writing in this series consistently surprises me at how effective it is at making you care for the characters, and then..well..watching it all come down like a jenga game set above an active volcano.

    I could have done without the scene on the bridge, however...that was, unnecessary.

    4.5 'pick up your towel goddamit'/5

  • Ps2 (via ps3)

    30 hours

    In my round up of last year I explained that I had not enjoyed my time with Xenoblade 2...in fact I didn't enjoy my time with Xenoblade or Xenoblade X much - apathy would be a better way to describe my reaction to the first two Blade games (though X does do some interesting things and has a fantastic world which is nearly impossible to navigate) I mentioned to a friend of mine that I thought Xenosaga was far superior...or at least I remembered it being so. So in order to either destroy or validate my opinion I went back to the first Xenosaga game.

    First up - this game was released in 2001 according to the title screen. That's just crazy. Secondly this was never released in the EU so I had to import and rip it onto my ps3 (this is important to a later point).

    So does Xenosaga hold up? Yes, mostly. I say mostly because there are more than a couple of issues that may put off most people. For me they were minor.

    Let's start with the obvious - this game tries to out do Kojima when it comes to cinematics. If you cut all the FMVs from the game I reckon you'd have about 10 hours less on my clock. The thing is, I enjoyed these cutscenes - unlike the later Xenoblade games, 'Saga 1 is really well written. You have an exceptionally strong main character - Shion, along with Rubedo/Jr, Momo (her arc is good..her appearance, not so much), Ziggy and chaos. Kos-Mos, 'Saga's most famous character is just a robot, at least in this first game. She's by far the least interesting character. Each of these characters have story arcs - where they are at the beginning of the game is not where they are at the end, emotionally or physically. None of the Blade games have this - Shulk is still Shulk, Rex is just a fucking waste of space from the start.

    There's also the nice change of not having a teenage protagonist - Shion's design might be..different (and progressively gets sexed up over the games) she is a strong female character who is not controlled by men's desires.

    Second issue is how long the combat can go on for - each 'cinematic' attack can be up to 10 seconds..which means grinding takes foooorever.

    Third issue - game explains nearly nothing about how some of the systems work. I'm sure people have finished this game without putting TP into their stats or haven't used the skill system. This can be hard to understand and makes the game far easier.

    Fourth issue - bugs (at least on emulated ps3)

    So..I had one crash during a cutscene after a really tough boss. That can be worked around, but annoyingly it is impossible to go to the Robot shop in Kukai - which means no best spell in the game, which means that the last bosses can be really..really...tough. With Erde Kaiser you can one shot nearly everything (including Albedo)..without it's a slog.

    With all that said - this is probably the best JRPG I've played in years. Probably since FFXII. I highly recommend the game if you have the patience to deal with long battles, annoying bosses and some archaic designs. Hey, at least it's not random battles?

    5/5

    Seriously though...this is just the japanisation of the crazy cult that Bush was part of, trying to bring about Revelations.

  • WiiU

    25 hours, maybe less? Why can't all games have a time keeping function?

    Yeah, it was pretty good.

    4/5

  • Switch

    It says more than 10 hours..so anywhere between 10-30?

    I swear this lack of precision time keeping in my gaming habits is going to give me a complex.

    Female Saiyan

    Lvl 58

    End Credits

    Anyway - Xenoverse 2 is just Xenoverse but better. Better combat, more options, better storyline...kinda. If you want a quasi-mmo that's kinda like Destiny but with more punching and infinitely more customisation, you could do a lot worse.

    The major issue with the game, from a single player perspective, is the DLC. It's stuff that should have already been in the game or sold for far less than they're asking. Not to mention most of it was out before the Switch version was released and they didn't even bother to include it.

    They didn't

    Even

    Bother

    Scamco gotta nickle and dime I guess.

    Saiyans are also heavily favoured in the game...so if you want to get through the story, play a Saiyan. If you want to be a badass, play female buu character.

    3.5/5

    I would kill for a Bleach version of this - but that's never gonna happen.

  • Vita

    A literal year in real time - game time: 35 hours?

    Top Ace: Ryoma Nagare 130 kills

    I try to do one of these every year, at least one, but I failed by about a month on this one. Too many games, too little time.

    So - as the first OMFG actual mainline SRW in English - how did SRW Victory stack up?

    Not bad. It's no W - but, as most agree, W is the best Non OG SRW there is. V is kinda around Z I guess? It's good but very very easy and the story is - well let's start there shall we:

    3 dimensions and 9? storylines meet in SRW Victory. The main storyline is based around the superb Battleship Yamato, and their attempts to get to a distant system in order to stop a war. It's a great story with great characters and meshes well with every other main storyline bar Eva. Eva has no business being in space but that's kinda offset by how much of a beast Shinji becomes later in the game.

    Yamato and Getter/Mazin were the highlights for me - it was also nice to have FMP back again - Kurz is a demon of a sniper. As to other series - Cross Ange was interesting enough to get me to watch it - I can't say that was a good idea given that it comes across as a straight man's idea of what lesbians are - but with mechs and dragons..and prison rape. Look, Ange is just...weird. It was great to have Combattler and Daitarn back again - Banjo is a great character, though the lack of Layzer to tie in to that made me sad.

    I think it's time to retire all but Unicorn from the Gundam series - even Skull was tiresome this time, and I'm a massive Kincaid fan. 00 and Seed need to be put in the bin where they belong and the UC stuff needs a long holiday. I even wanted Wing back at moments...which says a lot. Nadesico needs to go as well - it's been used too many times.

    I'm happy if FMP stays and there are laws about Getter and Mazin that cannot under any circumstances be broken.

    Apart from that it was standard SRW stuff - the addition of the Ex meter (every kill fills up a meter that allows you to spend say, 3 points on an extra turn if you kill in one hit, or 2 points to make your attack crit) made the game faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar easier than needed. Kurz went full rambo in the second to last mission and took out 40% of the map by himself in one turn...and he's in a real not a super. Lottie in Grungust could almost one hit bosses with some spirits. It was kinda hilarious.

    Shinji could one hit bosses without spirits in Unit 13.

    It was actually kinda scary.

    Anyway - as with all SRW games, if you like the characters and series you'll enjoy the game. If not, wait or look elsewhere. I'm really looking forward to X due to Cybuster, Dunbine and a more fantasy based approach closer to my beloved Masoukishin series.

    V was good, great in some bits but very convuluted and..Cross Ange...urghhh.

    4 'the power of love is a curious thing'/5

  • Xbox 360

    Less than 10? Gonna go with that - probably about 7.

    Farewell Starbreeze - you made some really good games (Riddick,Darkness) so mediocre games (that heist game) and some really bad games (the recent ones) - this reboot of the old Syndicate property is probably somewhere between the first two - it's an ok game.

    When they said that they were rebooting Syndicate - a series that I loved waaaaay back when it was originally released (on the Amiga in my case) I was hopeful - bare in mind this was pre EA going faaaaaaaaaaaaar down the shit hole.

    Syndicate was originally an isometric..tactical game? You had four agents who could persuadatron the public to fight with them, or just minigun the crap out of enemies. The reboot is an FPS because OF COURSE IT IS - that said, it does have some interesting ideas.

    First up - Richard Morgan of Altered Carbon fame wrote the story...and it shows...kinda. It's not a great story, but you can see what he was trying to do and where the limitations of the game shut the more interesting stuff down. Given a more open world like Deus Ex, this could have been really interesting. As it is..it's workable.

    The Dart Chip: Essentially a hacking system tied to the LB that allows you to cause 3 effects - a suicide bomb, and backlash, and essentially a charm spell. Each of these effects a single enemy (though backlash can effect up to 3 in an close area) Unsurprisingly persuade is the best as it means you have an extra gun shooting - the annoying thing is that you can't use them in boss battles, or for 3 missions whole missions. They play the old 'now we take your toys away from you' nonsense - which isn't really fun and shows that they ran out of ideas.

    The chip's other use is as a bullet time/defense/xray camera all in one. Pop it on and you can see through walls (useful for shooting through them) move faster, take more damage and generally bulldoze everything.

    These are interesting ideas and fun to mess about with in the first couple of levels...and then it just turns into a corridor shooter with too many to shoot. You start getting cloaked enemies but they go down easy, or armoured enemies that you can hack and then shoot, and then hack and then shoot and the explode...and then drones that you hack and then shoot...you get the idea. The levels start well, including a great nightclub shootout, but then turn into halls, sewer, halls - typical EA FPS design. The future is very..concrete.

    It's not a bad game, it has the makings of a fantastic one, but there's just not much there from the single player perspective that you don't see in the first couple of hours.

    There is Co-Op online but..not my scene and it's 7 years old on an previous gen of hardware.

    3 'true story - when I was 11 I wanted to write my own Syndicate fanfic, I started writing and the head of my school looked at it (without permission) and mocked me for even trying, and encouraged the other kids there to do it as well - so I never wrote again. I found that nonsense 10 years later and looked at it - it wasn't bad, especially for my age. So fuck you former headmaster of my school I could have been making JK Rowling money with my Cyberpunk novels...but probably not'/5

  • Vita

    Less than 10 hours - probably about 6

    Hinata ending

    It's a VN that serves as a quasi-prequel to the Blazblue series (it's...complicated). For a VN the story was a predictable Shounen fantasy with magic and harems galore. Fair play to the writer - the girls didn't come off as being just eye candy and they actually played a significant part in the action.

    Speaking of which, I was actually impressed by the VN's presentation. Action scenes were handled well, conversation wasn't just a static picture - I guess this was closer to a kinetic novel than a pure visual one.

    Couldn't be bothered to go for any of the other endings, including the true one as I kinda knew what it was anyway.

    3 'I went to school with a girl who looks like Es - it's not that unrealistic, but still...*eyeroll*'/5

  • Xbone

    Stopped after 3 hours.

    After enjoying the first two reboot games, I just found this one really boring. It didn't do anything interesting with new mechanics (I guess the survival stuff?) and the storyline was just..tired.

    A shame

  • Xbone

    Only played most of a level by myself.

    Clearly a game meant to be played in Co-Op. I really enjoyed the ZAT games just playing by myself - but this game (despite the Pulp trapping which I adore) really felt like a chore to play alone - it just kept going and going and going.

  • Xbox 360

    God these games are a drag. I enjoyed 1,ODST and Reach but just going from essentially what amounts to, room to room, shooting everything really slowly before moving on to do the same thing with barely any sort of driving factor or personality can really grate after a while. I think I played about 4 hours but I can't really remember.

  • Vita

    28 hours to the credit roll (that's just mission level 7 - it goes up to 10)

    I actually bought Burst (which this is a remake of) waaay back in 2010, so it's been almost 10 years for me to actually get around to finishing this game.

    The best way to describe this game is a fast moving mixture of Monster Hunter mixed with Phantasy Star with an emphasis on actual story telling. Yes, there is a story here. YMMV but I actually enjoyed it - it's very 90's anime - specifically reminding me of Blue Gender, which is a good thing. The VO isn't bad either - each character (even Kota..sigh) comes across well and actually has depth beyond what you would expect in this kind of game. Is it Planescape? No - but it doesn't need to be.

    This is a hunting game - you go out into the field (a single area, as opposed to most MH/PSO type games) and beat the crap out of small monsters and then fight the boss/main monster - get materials to build better weapons (not armour...only your shield matters for defence) and items - rinse and repeat. Same old same old. What's different here is the speed - it's much faster than MH - standard movement and dashing is like dual blades in demon mode..but all the time. Weapons (3 sword types, polearm, hammer and scythe) can morph between melee and gun at the touch of a button (sniper,minigun,shotgun and..blast?) allowing for long and short range fighting. Bullets come in a range of flavours and can be edited to be completely insane - from standard shots to flamethrowers to icbm to laser death from the sky. The bullet editing is so obtuse I spent hours trying to get it to work and in the end just used what I originally had.

    Then there's the devour mechanic - holding triangle (heavy attack) causes your weapon to take a chunk out of the enemy. This is used to not only collect your items/carve from corpses, but on a live monster it'll give you a damage/speed/defense boost and give you the ability to shoot a specific bullet depending on the monster. The burst mechanic, as it is known, is kinda insane and plays a massive part in battles - knowing when you can go for a chomp or when you should block/dodge.

    If I had complaints it would be the female character designs - banging an old drum here but they're really dumb. Sakuya is a tough medic but dresses like a T'ang Dynasty hooker - the funniest shot is of her room with tons of bras hanging up in one of those drying carousels and yet she never once is seen wearing one. Alisa is..more problematic. She's apparently 15 and yet suffers from sexualisation (Sakuya is in her 20s) and also doesn't have a bra and barely anything covering her chest. Why do I give a shit? Well - Sakuya has a great storyline, she's a tough cookie who ends up dealing with tons of grief due to her boyfriend dying in front of her eyes. Alisa deals with PTSD and is manipulated in horrific ways - they're both more than just your typical waifu bait. Tsubaki is constantly struggling to stay within her clothes, all of them. It's just...boring and a shame. From my brief look at GE2 the main female character has even less clothing which is...impressive.

    I enjoyed the mechanics, storyline, characters and setting. My only complaints are the esoteric nature of the bullet editor (but how cool is it that it exists) and the female designs. If you can look past those issues - I highly recommend this game from people who enjoy MH or PSO.

    4.5 'omnomnomnom'/5

  • Patched Evo version - Vita

    27 hours

    Bracer Rank 1

    I bought Trails when it first launched on PSP years ago and tried repeatedly to get into the series - I just bounced off it time and time again. With the release of the Eng patches for the Vita versions of the series (which adds elements from the PC release like full voiced main dialogue and a turbo mode) I thought I would pick up the Japanese version of the game and try again.

    I'm very glad that I did.

    Trails in the Sky First Chapter (FC from now on) is a JRPG that calls back to the best of the best of the PSX and PS2 era. In fact I think the game was originally released in Japan during the PS2 era - and it shows. The amount of love that has been put into the world building, characters and story is exceptional. Add to that the labour of love that the translation team clearly made of the script (not to mention SC - but that's a story by itself)...it's really something.

    FC (and the FC/SC subseries as a whole) is a coming of age story - as many of these games tend to be. What sets this game apart is the quality of the writing and how much time the characters are given to grow. Estelle and Joshua, the two main characters - are great. Estelle is tomboyish and a bit dense but sweet, Joshua is quick witted, kind and..well...mysterious. Both characters develop enough throughout this first game that you come to care for each of them, Estelle especially. She has (as the main character) an actual, gosh darn it, character arc - which is very very rare in this day and age. By the end of FC you can see how far she has come, and how much further she has left to go. Then there's Olivier (best guy), Agate, Tita and best girl Kloe..and then there's....look I could go on. Even side characters you meet for 5 mins have enough character to actually be 'present' and not just wallpaper.

    The next thing of note is how side missions work within the game - as part of the Bracer guild you are given optional side missions that reward you with Bracer points, money and occasionally items/quartz. We'll get to Quartz in a minute. Side mission do a fantastic job fleshing out the world around you - you'll hear about the past of the area you're in and how they relate to other states in the area - you'll learn more about character's backstories - or you'll just help deliver a love letter to a girl in the factory. It's the little things that make the world feel alive, and FC has them in spades. The occasional problem rears its head, however. There are hidden quests that go towards your completion and that can be annoying, as well as hard time limits on when you can take certain quests. The game could be more forthcoming on those matters - but it;s hardly game breaking.

    Next is the battle system - it's a turn based system, on an isometric grid that allows for free movement. Turns are based on character speed and there are bonuses that apply to certain turns - like in Xenosaga. These can range from free magic or skills to extra items and money. It's a good system that can drag out at times - I played on easy which made the game ridiculously easy but kept the pace that I wanted for the story. I play RPGs for the story, not gameplay. Possibly the most interesting part of the battle system is Quartz. It's essentially a modified/upgraded materia system that also acts as the money system in this game. Essentially you have a small grid of about 8? slots that you can open during the course of the game. Into these slots you place Quartz which, like materia, allow you to cast spells. However, unlike materia that determines exactly what spells you can cast (like cure or fire) Quartz works on a numbered system. Each Quartz has a certain amount of sepith (element points for lack of a better description) tied to it. When you slot the Quartz into your grid, those points transfer to the character and then you can cast the spell that corresponds to that amount of elemental points. Take a fire spell - slot in attack 1 which has 1 red elemental point and you can cast fire. HP (blue) allows for healing spells...etc. What makes this interesting is that there are 10? different elemental sepith and mixing and matching them can get you all sorts of different spells ranging from speed boosts and buffs to AOE damage skills and revives. It's an experimental system - and that's cool.

    I do have complaints - the first I've covered; that being the side quest system is a wee bit obtuse at first. The other is the lack of map in dungeons - I can understand not showing where you haven't been but it really should show places where you have been. It's not game breaking given how small dungeons generally are but annoying - especially given that enemies respawn upon moving areas. At least its not a random encounter type game.

    In all FC is one of the best JRPGs I've ever played - easily. I'd put it up there with XII and Xenosaga. I highly recommend this game to anyone who remembers how JRPGs used to be and misses that time.

    5 'I teared up at the end'/5

  • Xbox 360

    Soviet/Allied finished, half of Japanese campaign.

    Roughly 15 hours?

    I didn't really think a RTS would work on console, but I'll give the remnants of Westwood/EA credit, they did a great job of making the control system work. Placing most of the major build/control options on the right trigger frees up UI space as well as the face buttons to do more basic functions. It works very well given the limitations.

    11 years is a long time...the representation of women in this game is..well it wouldn't work today. The end of the Allies campaign has a former playboy bunny (Jenny McCarthy) with a popular actress (Gemma Atkinson) in tight dresses trying to get the 'player' to go out to dinner with them. It's...kinda off. That said, given the tone of the game as a whole (it is in no way serious) it makes sense.

    I dropped the game half way through the Japanese campaign due to the fact that I found their gameplay..boring. Soviet is based around armour and naval, allied on air and control - Japan is a mixture of both and a master of none. I loved the Soviet campaign for being dumb as shit but revelling in it. Infiltrating and 'murdering' George Takai with a single conscript and a grumpy bear was great.

    Russia - 4/5

    Allied - 3/5

    Japan - 2/5

    3/5 overall. Fun but dumb..in both good and bad ways.