The Shackled Wolves - 2021 Games Completed Thread

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Resident Evil: Village (PC)

This was just so fucking good, from start to finish.

Concrete proof you can make a creepy as all hell horror game with legitimate tension even when you actively fight the monsters in the dark.

Now I personally experience quite a bit of pop in at times, but I think that's because my PC is four years old at this point and I didn't really spend the time to fine tune my graphics settings like I should have. The FPS though ran smooth as fucking silk though so it felt great to play.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Resident Evil: Village (PC)

This was just so fucking good, from start to finish.

Concrete proof you can make a creepy as all hell horror game with legitimate tension even when you actively fight the monsters in the dark.

Now I personally experience quite a bit of pop in at times, but I think that's because my PC is four years old at this point and I didn't really spend the time to fine tune my graphics settings like I should have. The FPS though ran smooth as fucking silk though so it felt great to play.
I should play RE again. I've only ever played RE4, and skipped the others. I wanted to try out RE7, but never did, and now Village is out.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Resident Evil: Village (PC)

This was just so fucking good, from start to finish.

Concrete proof you can make a creepy as all hell horror game with legitimate tension even when you actively fight the monsters in the dark.

Now I personally experience quite a bit of pop in at times, but I think that's because my PC is four years old at this point and I didn't really spend the time to fine tune my graphics settings like I should have. The FPS though ran smooth as fucking silk though so it felt great to play.
Steve2 is currently playing RE8, and he's loving it. It cracks me up when the games makes him jump and yelp, which in turn makes me jump. The game is gorgeous. Giving me a blend of RE4 and RE7 type of vibes. I love the voice acting, and the story is keeping me entertained.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Dumping these here just so I can talk about RE8.

Dark Souls 2 (PC)
Dark Souls 3 (PC)
Sekiro (PC)
Resident Evil 7 (PC)
Picross S (NS)
Resident Evil Village (PC)

Really quick on the others: I think I'm pretty much done with the Souls games, there were only so many times I could replay them and I think I reached my limit. Sekiro's fantastic and probably the FromSoft game that I think will age best, but I also don't see myself replaying it unless I get a 4K TV in the future.

I liked Resident Evil 7 better on a replay (and with mouse aiming, since my first time playing it was on the PS4), but still not as much as REmake 2.

Picross S is about the best timesink in the world. I did all the puzzles in the first one and there are 6 of them on the Switch already.

Resident Evil Village is probably the most interesting Resident Evil game since 4 in terms of the variety of aesthetics and gameplay: at first I thought they'd blown their load early with Lady Dimitrescu and the castle being the first of the boss areas of the game, but I wasn't expecting the second area to be so different in terms of gameplay and aesthetics; it felt like going from REmake 2 to one of the Amnesia games.

I nearly shit my pants the first time I saw the baby monster, and the dolls boss fight might be the creepiest the series has ever been.

While I didn't like the rest of the game as much as that excellent first half of it, I still appreciated the change in tone and gameplay from area to area. It felt like the devs loved having an excuse to cram multiple horror genres into the same game (much like Evil Within did back in 2014).

As far as the open nature of its world, I think it struck a fine balance in rewarding me for going back and exploring previous areas more thoroughly (when they weren't blocked off) without making the map so open and empty that I'd forego backtracking entirely. And while the combat is simple, the variety in enemy designs does keep the game from becoming repetitive as I explored and progressed through the story.

Overall, I don't think the game breaks the mold in any way, but it's interesting in the way that it uses several molds to form a larger cohesive whole. Personally, I put it right alongside REmake 2 as the best RE games since 4, at least as of this first playthrough.

Random thoughts on it: the writing is as bad as it's ever been for RE games; it's the first game that makes me feel like getting a 4K monitor; compared to RE7 (which was already a good game), this is many times better; Lady Dimitrescu and Chris Redfield have awesome voices.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Mass Effect 1 (Legendary Edition) (XSX)

A very well done remaster that does more than enough to bring the game into the new decade with much needed graphical and gameplay improvements.

Also super short loading times. I cannot stress enough how having these shortened completely rejuvenates the experience and makes the game so much more enjoyable to play (and even 100%)
E1uQfROXoAM-6-k.jpg
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Mass Effect 1 (Legendary Edition) (XSX)

A very well done remaster that does more than enough to bring the game into the new decade with much needed graphical and gameplay improvements.

Also super short loading times. I cannot stress enough how having these shortened completely rejuvenates the experience and makes the game so much more enjoyable to play (and even 100%)
View attachment 3742
Steve2 is currently playing Mass Effect 1 (as part of the Legendary Edition). He's loving it, except for the parts where you drive the vehicle. He hates that.

He started this after finishing RE8 on the PS4. That was a helluva game. Fully admit to jumping multiple times while watching him play it.
 
007: Agent Under Fire (GCN)

You’d think me being the 007 fan who recently read all the Ian Fleming books, I would have played more of the games. Besides both Goldeneyes and Nightfire, I haven’t played any other.

Went to the local game store today, picked this up for 8 bucks and beat it in a few hours. It’s a short ass game, but I remember hearing how fun the multiplayer was so that probably makes up for it. It’s a fun time, but it is a 6th gen FPS so no sensitivity sliders, and phew lad, she’s sensitive. There is replay value too, get enough points and unlock some stuff like gold skins for weapons, and multiplayer bonuses.

It was a good enough way to waste away the afternoon.
 
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sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
The Outer Worlds (NS)

8.5/10
Finished it last night. I absolutely loved it. The story was fantastic. The characters were diverse with very distinct personalities. The combat was fun. The world had a great mythology about it, and I felt immersed in all of it. The decisions and relationships you make along the way play into it all, so I felt rewarded for doing all the side quests. Also, very proud of myself for getting the best ending.

Negatives: The loading screens. The load time was annoying. But I do give them credit that huge areas of the map were all connected and required no loading. Also, there a bunch of random potions and drinks that you really don't need that end up taking up a lot of space in the inventory.

For next time: I would redo the menu system to make it a bit more user friendly. When upgrading weapons and armor, it would be helpful to know what is equipped on which person, and how new armor or weapons compare to what you are currently using. Was not a deal breaker, but it would have made things easier.

There is definitely an opening for a sequel. I know Obsidian is part of Xbox Game Studios now, but hopefully they do a few more multiplatform releases.
 
Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)
Destroy All Humans! (PS4)

I haven't played Shadow of the Thicc Bois in over a decade I believe. I finished it, but remember cursing a lot. I found the controls too clunky and whatnot. The PS4 version is on sale so I picked it up. I enjoyed it a lot more this go around, and even remembered a few solutions to the boss fights despite being so long ago since I played it. Regardless of my feelings towards it, it's a damn memorable experience that's for sure.

Mind you, still had a few "oh come on" moments. I'd be grabbing on the near edge of grabble hair on the giants, only for him to try and shake me off, my body flying every which way, and the character would kinda jank off despite my holding the R2 button like it's going out of style. The last boss also was a bit of a bugger, but still, I can safely say my enjoyment of this game has increased. Will probably give The Last Guardian a go one day.


I never played a Destroy All Humans game before, but this game seemed to be the light hearted escapism fun I need. Yeah boi, this game is so fun. Playing it made me realize that over the last few years, the games I've enjoyed most are remakes or remasters of old games (Resident Evil 2 & 3, Trials of Mana, this, etc). Not sure if that speaks more to modern games or older ones, but whatever. I was laughing quite a bit during the game. The game plays solid and the tongue-in-cheek humor that pokes a lot of fun at 50's Americana and their fear of the Commies had me smiling a lot. Plus, the voice actor for your support character is voiced by the same guy who did Zim from Invader Zim. Sometimes doing an exact copy of it, and let me tell ya, having Zim dial it up to 11 to tell me my objective is something I'll never get sick of.

I'm only obviously playing it in 2021, but this retroactively became one of the best games I've played from 2020. It has some jank, I imagine the budget wasn't super high, but it got charm in spades, and lately I'd rather have an interesting and unique "7/10" (regards to the reviews it got from "professional reviewers) than a cookie cutter AAA safe game. Yeah, I know I've fully become a "old man with stick" in terms of AAA blockbuster games, but I can't deny how much fun I've had with this one.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Raji: An Ancient Epic (NS)

I had seen this game during one of the Nintendo Direct Minis or a Indie Spotlight.
It is set in ancient India and tells the story of Raji, a circus performer, whose brother Golu is stolen by demons, and she begins and epic quest to get him back.

It is a beautiful game. There is no question about that. The game could use some polish, and the controls and combat could use some fleshing out. The story is good, and the cut scenes are done in a very unique (in universe) way. You get a lot of history on the gods involved in the story, which definitely helped to flesh out the story. The voice acting was well done.

It's not a long game. Maybe 6-8 hours if you explore. I paid $10, and I think that was a very fair price.
Happy that I played it, and I think this studio has potential.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
E2tic1uXoAUf_z-.jpg

Mass Effect 2 (Legendary Edition) (XSX)

A lot of my praises from the ME1 review can just be copy pasted here but I have to reiterate:

Not spending actual, literal hours during a playthrough watching loading screens makes ME2 so much more tolerable to playthrough. Like seriously on the 360, with the game installed, you would still have 45 sec. to 90 sec loading screens when moving through the Normandy. Having those almost completely done away with brings such a wonderful breath of fresh air to the game that makes it a lot more fun.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
Monster Hunter: Rise (NS)

A shade under 70 hours. Saw the credits roll in the village; would've seen the credits roll in the hub had they not moved the goal posts with the last update. (Betting that either
we fight Narwa's and Ibushi's kid
, or
Narwa just eats Ibushi
and we fight the
sparkly
version of her.)

Utterly fantastic. I know the hipsters will be on the "MonHun was better when it was clunkier" bandwagon or something, but I think this is as near-perfect an update and modernization of the franchise as anyone could have hoped for. It keeps just enough clunk, it keeps just enough grind, it keeps just enough challenge. It would have been very easy to make this a watered down MH, but Capcom kept the soul of the series. You don't walk into new hunts as the prime badass; the monsters are always the strongest thing onscreen and can hand you your ass at a moment's notice.

That's mainly due to the attack windows being so tight. The wirebugs give us increased mobility, but Capcom made the monsters just fast enough to ensure that you're going to get walloped. Is the game still easier overall? Perhaps. I know I triple carted less here than in any previous game. But...that's also because I now have about 700+hours experience - maybe more - with the series. If I came in cold, I'm pretty sure the chances of me beating Magnamalo on my first try would have been zero.

I'm trying to think of weak points, but tbh, all of the edits are just so freaking smart. The wirebugs give you a freedom of vertical movement that is the grand payoff for 4's more vertical design. Doggos make zone-to-zone movement better (and add an element of in-battle strategy). Giving you more items per gather/mining speeds up the grind (while crucially leaving it in place, keeping dat soul). The radial menu took some getting used to, but then it became indispensable. If I'm honest, I would prefer having to hunt and paint monsters rather than having them appear right on the map, but...c'mon, that's the level of critique I'm at here.

Ichinose-san and co. are tasteful thieves, too. They pretty much stole the fire effects outta Breath of the Wild. Plus, one gets the feeling the "climb anywhere"-freedom thing was more a "oh, Zelda gave us this idea"-thing than a "we had very slow climbing in limited circumstances in 4"-thing. Ditto this one being Japanese-as-hell and featuring
"oh yeah, flying glowy Ghibli dragons are cool"
bosses.

It's like Capcom had this great old house, and did just the right amount of modern renovation. It has central air instead of window units now, they sanded/stained/sealed the hardwood floors, the kitchen cabinets got repainted, the bathrooms got spruced up, and the roof doesn't leak anymore.

But it's the same house that it always was, and if you have a blacklight and some luminol, you can still see where the prior owner killed all those hookers.
 
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Karkashan

Married to Chrom
E35uo9OXIAMRpQy.jpg
Mass Effect 3 (Legendary Edition) (XSX)

God I love these games, this trilogy, so fucking much. I'd never call it flawless, but I will call these games a perfect fit for me.

Playing through all of them really highlights in my mind the highs and lows of each individual game. The wonder of planet exploration in one, the incredible character stories in 2, the amazing gameplay and finale in 3 on the good side. The QTEs and tedium in 1, the jankiness of the combat in 1 and 2, the almost bare bones plot in 2, and then 3 not having as many cool side missions as I'd like on the more...nitpicky end.

This remaster was a fantastic way to play these games again, and although I got distracted by other multiplayer stuff here and there, it was a great handful of weekends spent in this universe.
 
Super Mario 3D World (NS)

When this game first came out in the pre-apocalyptic years of 2013 I wasn't too hot on it. I mean, it's still Mario so even a "by the books" Mario game is still great. After the Galaxy games blew me away, 3D World didn't impress me the same way those Galaxy games did. I found the level themes, gameplay, pretty much everything uninspired. Still good, but not the greatest Mario game ever like I heard some people say.

Despite that, it didn't stop me from playing the damn thing like 6 or 7 times. To 100% this bad boy you gotta clear each stage with all 5 characters, which I did. On top of that I'm sure I did a playthrough or two just for the sake of it. Over time, it grew on me, and it became a source of comfort during some difficult times. Pop in Mario 3D World for the comfiest of comfy games during shitty times.

Fast forward to now, and this is my first playthrough where I started a fresh file. So this is the first time I had to hunt all the green stars and stamps again, and boy, my opinion on this game really has improved over time. Depending on whether you're hunting for those items or not depends on how the levels are played. I guess that applies to any games with collectibles, but whether you're exploring or speed running, these levels flow masterfully. Hunting those items again for the first time since 2013 made me appreciate these levels more.

For this Switch version, they increased the speed of all the characters, and that I'm not sure if I like. I don't remember thinking the Wii U version was too slow, but here I find it's a tad too easy to overshoot your jumps just based on the speed. Sometimes even lining up for a jump is a bit more tricky. I found the controls in the U version perfect. Also, the game defaults to an isometric view sometimes, and since the camera can only rotate sometimes left or right once in a fixed distance, it's not perfect all the time in that regard. Still nothing game breaking of course, but it was an adjustment. It's because of this I found Peach to be my favorite character to play as. She's not as fast as the others, so I found I was more in control with her. Plus, have you seen her in her fire flower dress with a pony tail? She's fabulous.

Ultimately, I just had a blast with this game, despite playing it to death on the U. If we're talking the linear Mario games, I still prefer the Galaxy games, they're just untouchable in my eyes. Everything from the variety of levels, the music, even to the rag tag scooby gang that pops up in levels from time to time. Select a level that has your searching for items and you'll find a bunch of the level's inhabitants and the Toad squad in various areas of the levels and you can talk to them where they'll say "nothing here". It's nothing major, but I really love that added detail. Mario 3D World is fantastic, but it doesn't have those extra details. It cut out all the fat. Also, the last Bowser fight doesn't have the same awe as others in the series. But now I'm just nitpicking.
 
Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

This is my second playthrough after playing it at launch. I don't remember having this much fun on my first go around, but I was hooked this time. I didn't dislike the game or anything before hand either.

The only niggles I really have is due to it being a remake of Metroid 2 anyways, and the system it's on. Instead of one big map, it's broken into self contained areas. Fantastically designed areas, but once you move onto the next, you don't need to come back unless you want to find all the ammo and health pick ups. I like other Metroidvanias designed like this, but it does stick out a bit in this series. I know Fusion has separate areas, but they do connect sometimes with backtracking necessary. Again, just a little niggle. The other being that since it's a remake of M2, most boss fights are Metroids. I know there's Diggernaut and a new surprise at the end, but one of my favorite parts of this series is all the insane boss designs. In fact, more variety of smaller enemies would be great too.

I love my 3DS, but I yearn to play this in HD with a controller. I free aim a lot, so I got some finger cramping holding the L button. Other than that, it really is a beautiful game with amazing environments and background details, so I would love to play this on a TV.

Beyond that, it's a great game. Your first steps on SR388 has no music, just ambiance. When you shortly get the Scan Pulse ability and the main M2 theme kicks in, shit's tight. It's also a lot harder than I remember too. Some attacks from Diggernaut took off 3 full energy tanks. End game when I was getting all items, my health wasn't beeping in the danger zone, and a small enemy killed me.

I'm very excited to see what they pull off with Dread. Since it's not a remake, I can't wait to see what fresh ideas they come up with and expand upon. I have no worries about the developer or team they got put together.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Metroid Fusion (GBA)

Yes, I broke out my ye olde GBA SP that had been sitting for a good few years, charged up the battery (love rechargeable), and booted it back up. After our Metroid Discord discussion, and especially after the announcement of Dread, I knew I had to tackle the game once again. Trouble is, what system do I play it on? Obviously, I own it on GBA, but I also purchased it on the Wii U eShop a few years ago. I opted instead to play it on the GBA because of nostalgia reasons mostly, but also playing on the GBASP, arguably the best handheld device ever made, just felt right. Like reuniting with an old friend.

So, Metroid Fusion then. It had been well over a decade since I played all the way through it, and as a result, it instantly felt like a new experience again. I did remember some areas here, and there, but most of the boss battles felt new in terms of how to beat them, and exploration was nice and fresh I think. Naturally, I died numerous times throughout the experience as trial and error resulted in one of the more engaging moments as I fulfilled a sense of accomplishment when you dodge that attack at just the right time, and fire your blaster or missile at the precise moment afterwards.

Admittedly, Fusion is more story-driven, and by extension, more linear at least in terms of where to go. But unlike most modern titles that spoon-feed everything, it tells you go here, but will not explain how to get there, or what is ahead (sometimes, it even tells you this is your goal, but there's something you must do first that you must find). So in ways, it still feels like a proper Metroid game (If my years of playing the Prime games, and my one-time endeavor of Super Metroid is anything to go by).

One area that I do remember though are the encounters with the SA-X, which remarkably still hold up tremendously well in 2021. Even though I knew they were going to happen, those eerie footsteps, the haunting musical score, and the dark, cold sense of isolation that begs you to not go through with it, but in your mind's eye, you know you have to. This is 2002 folks on a fricking 16-bit handheld device with 2D graphics, and this game can convey that kind of emotion, and terror? It's so good.

That is not to say those encounters went without a hitch though. If I have one complaint about those encounters is it's almost too unforgiving at times as you will most likely die during your first go around on at least one or two of those moments. But at the same time, that is what makes Fusion really shine. It doesn't hold back, let alone hold your hand for an extended session. If nothing else, it takes your hand, and throws you into the direction where you need to go, and now you must use your skill, momentum, and at times, luck, in order to make it through.

Similar vibes are present during the Boss Battles, which rely on a great deal of timing, luck, and simply mashing the right buttons. Interestingly, some of the battles that I was dreading (hehehehe) actually went by pretty well. Nightmare was nowhere near as difficult as I remember, and same was true for Ridley, and Mecha-Brain. But Serris, Yakuza, and of course your final encounter with SA-X were more challenging than I remember.

And then there are the 7 different levels in the game. They were for the most part cool, and presented their own challenges along the way, although I did not take enough time to really sink, and do some collecting, plus even absorb in some of the particulars. I was more focused on making it to my next objective, so that is a product of the games' linear design. It doesn't always encourage exploration like I remember, and in some ways falls short of greatness. Still, when you're stuck on a research vessel high up in space over a planet, your options for what kind of world you're exploring do diminish somewhat (Why is there lava on a frickin' research vessel in the middle of space anyway?)

But enough semantics. Fusion is both better than I remembered, and not so much in others. So it's still up there with the greats of the franchise I think. I look forward to how Metroid Dread uses the events of Fusion, and incorporates that into the story arc for Samus. I already suspect the EMMI in Dread hunt for Samus because she has gone rogue from the Federation, and they're going after her. We will see in a few short months though!
 
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Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Scarlet Nexus (XSX)

An anime esque Action JRPG from Bandai Namco. I'd probably go and say it's the most polished of their anime esque games of this ilk to date.

Story has no brakes, but without going into spoilers all I can really say is that yes, they do wrap up most of the relevant plotlines before the end of the game. Character stories are interesting, even at their weakest.

Combat had a lot more depth than I was expecting, moreover your character's progression and their relationship with the rest of the cast actually provided meaningful, worthwhile changes to the flow and feel of combat.

As I usually do I lost my train of thought when writing up this review, but in the end I really enjoyed this game.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Bowser's Fury (NS)

Slammed this one out today. Not really long, even to 100%, but it's a ton of fun. I hope this is gonna be expanded upon on the Switch 2 or whatever the next console from Nintendo is. Maybe have a "world" to each Koopaling?

Regardless, I'm really happy I bought this with 3D World. Mario is just tops.
I loved Bowser's Fury so much. There's so much to do and explore with puzzles and things, and the constant threat of Bowser was fantastic. I definitely hope they expand upon this in a future game.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Axiom Verge (NS)

I've had this game forever, but finally got around to playing it. After E3, I was feeling the need to scratch a Metroidvania itch.
The controls are not as fluid as a Metroid game, but they are completely serviceable, and you get used to them. The throwback graphics are nice, and there is enough variety in enemies and world designs.
Some of the puzzles and secrets are not as intuitive as one might expect. I enjoyed all the boss fights, except for one near the end where I died a lot. Even the online suggestions for it were like "just hope you get enough hits in before you run out of life".
It was definitely a solid game, and I'm glad I played it. Looking forward to the sequel.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
Metroid Fusion (GBA)

2:24, 42% items.

This game is like my manhood. The older I get, the shorter it feels.

I think this is the quickest I've ever finished Fusion, and I wasn't trying to. Speed runners do this one in under an hour, of course, but I have no desire to try that. Maybe one day I'll go for sub-2 hours.

One new complaint I have is that, after replaying Samus Returns, the combat here isn't really engaging for like the first half to two-thirds of the game. I know it's because I've played this so much, but before I knew it, I had already visited every sector and had scarcely fired my weapons. Felt somewhat like a Samus walking sim.

I still enjoyed it. But time marches on. Even Super felt a little less perfect after my last SR play through (although its movement mechanics and map make up for the combat shortcomings). Fusion is still very good, but it's starting to feel its age.
 
River City Girls* (NS)

One genre I never really cared for were 2D beat-em-ups. I played the Streets of Rage games last year or two years ago (what is time?) and those were the first ones I really dug. SoR 2 in particular being an absolute joy. Well, now I can add one more, River City Girls.

Holy smokes I didn't expect to enjoy it this much. I only dabbled in RC Ransom in high school, but this is the first one I really spent time with. The main gameplay is a beat-em-up, but it's still really fun. Sound effects are good, enemies are varied and well animated, and the soundtrack truly slaps. What separates this from other games like SoR is that there are RPG elements. You can buy new moves, buy food (the first time you eat a particular one you get a permanent stat buff), and yeah, you have stats like agility and attack.

You get to pick between two characters, Kyoko and Misako. I, being the man of culture that I am, went with Misako since her artwork feature thigh high socks. Jokes on me though, both in game sprites wear them, so of course I had to play it again with Kyoko. Anyways, it's all about saving your boyfriends who were kidnapped, so the natural thing to do is fight roughly 75% of the city's population. It's very tongue in cheek.

One thing that really stuck out to me is just the general atmosphere and vibe. I'm turning 30 in a couple of months, and I know it's not a big deal, but yeah, I'm kinda thinking too much about it. This game made me feel nostalgic even though it's a new experience. It starts off in a high school, then the streets, to a shopping mall, downtown, a fair, etc. There are lots of background NPCs just hanging around, window shopping, all that jazz. Made me really think hard about my time as a kiddo, hanging around with friends at school or the beach, going to the fair that would come around once in awhile, beating up half of my hometown. Yup, life was tough in Canada.

In all seriousness, I wasn't expecting this game to make me feel old. I guess this pandemic doesn't help as I haven't seen my friends near as often as I would have otherwise, and of course, the dreaded Dirty 30. At the end of the day though, River City Girls made me a fan, and the sequel coming out next year is now one of my most anticipated.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Ghostbusters: Remastered (NS)

I didn't want to start a huge game with Skyward Sword around the corner, and I remembered I downloaded this last year when it was on a super sale.
The graphical and controller improvements from the Wii version I played are so necessary. Definitely made it much easier to play.
The story and voice acting are still fun. It plays less like a game and more like an interactive movie, which I didn't mind at all.
There were some boss battles that took more more retries than I care to admit, mainly due to having to spend half the battle protecting the other ghostbusters so they didn't die.
If you've never played it, and you're a huge fan of the movies, pick this one up if you find it for a good price.
 
Shantae: Risky's Revenge (3DS)
Serial Cleaner (NS)

Got hit with those vaccine side effects on Saturday so any gaming that day was spent with Shantae. It's short, 4-5 hours if you hunt down items, but it's still a fun one.

Serial Cleaner is getting a sequel that looks interesting, so I decided to play the first, and it's currently on sale for like 2 dollars. Was pretty fun. Premise is that each level is a crime scene where you have to dispose of the bodies, remove the evidence and clean up the blood while avoiding the cops. It's a stealth game but the stealth is pretty limited. A cop could be literally pixels away from busting your ass, but if you jump into a potted plant or cupboard, they'll go back to their patrols. You can't knock them out, so it's a balancing thing. There are objects you can turn on to distract them, and if they notice a missing item they'll investigate.

One thing that's interesting is that each time you restart a level, whether selecting it or getting caught and retrying, some bodies and items will be in a different location. Some are fixed, some have a zone they'll spawn in, so it's not like you'll load into a map and 5 bodies and 3 items will be in one room or anything. Some hiding spots will also be altered, so it's a nice way of always keeping things in mind, rather than eventually memorizing where everything is to.

Lastly, you can unlock bonus levels based on movies. The crimescene and bodies will be recognizable but obviously altered just enough to not get sued. The canteen from Star Wars A New Hope, the house from A Clockwork Orange, outside the rabbit's hole in Holy Grail, or aboard the ship in Alien, and more. Good fun, especially if you recognize the movie.

I enjoyed this one for sure, and for less than 3 dollars, there's not much to complain about. The only nit picks I have is 1) getting caught on some corners or level geometry, and 2) picking up a body is done with Y, picking up on item is done with A, and A also is the interact button, so it's a bit weird how there are two pick up buttons depending on what you need to select. Weird.
 
Hotline Miami (PC)

I always said this remained one of my favorite indie games. I mentioned HM 1 & 2 the other day, which got my thinking about the series, so I decided to play through the first one again. I'm still recovering from my attempted playthrough of 2.

Steam graciously reminds me I haven't played it since 2013, I have a little crisis at how fast time is going, but before too long the baller soundtrack is kicking, I'm being shot and stabbed, I vomit, go to the store, and when I get back, the game is installed.

Yeah, this game still kicks ass, although I did forget exactly how hard it can be. If restarts weren't so fast, this game would probably go into the bin towards the end of it. Games like this and Super Meat Boy kinda balance their bullshit out with non-existent load times. However, while I quit Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami isn't that bad. Levels are short and small enough that even after a dozen attempts, it's never too bad to retry. It's all about throwing yourself into a fire repeatedly until you either miraculously succeed, or just realize you can bait everyone into a swinging door to knock them down.

Hotline Miami 2's issue was the levels are so big and spacious that even if you use the shift key to look around, you can still get sniped from an off-screen enemy. 1 doesn't have that issue. Maybe one day I'll try 2 again, it has been 5 years since, but after playing through this, I need a break haha.
 
[Note for Kark: I think I got the abbreviations right. I think Rare Replay has seperate download for certain games that are the 360 versions, but since it was re-released for Xbox One, I used XB1. I had the Splinter Cell discs so I just used Xbox. Tomb Raider is labeled as a 360 game on the store and in "Games", but it's still a digital download that can be played on XB1 so I think that's right?]

Banjo Kazooie (XB1)
Splinter Cell (XB1)
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (XB1)
Banjo Tooie (XB1)
Tomb Raider: Underworld + Beneath the Ashes + Lara's Shadow (XB1)

I'll just lump each franchise together instead of bouncing around between them all.

So as I mentioned in the CT, I bought a cheap Xbox One S. 95% of the reason why I wanted to buy a Series was for backwards compatible, but I saw someone post a cheap one for sale and figured I mind as well buy it to play all those old titles now.

Of course, me being me, my first game on my shiny new console was a n64 game I played to death over the years. I think I did a write up about it a couple years back but it still stands, I love this game, easily one of the best platformers of all time. Sure, the nostalgia is super thicc with this one, but looking past it, it's still just a ton of fun and well designed. Tooie however never clicked with me as much. As a kid I found it too big and I couldn't figure out a lot of it. I never 100%'d it like I did multiple times with the first one. Beating it now though, fighting the last few phases of the final boss and watching the cutscene, I'm not convinced that I ever did beat it period.

This time though I did 100% this one. Part way through I realized that Tooie has some Metroidvania elements going on, and when I realized that, it all finally clicked. It helped I was in the mood for a game like this, but yeah, it definitely has a different feel than the first. Levels connect in multiple ways, moves learned in future levels will be need for some items in past ones, even certain Jiggies require doing multiple objectives in other levels. When I was a kid I liked the more straight forward level-by-level approach, it wasn't until much later that I finally got into Metroidvanias. Also, similar to my DK64 playthrough a few years back, these levels that my kid self found gargantuan are now reasonable as an adult. I guess it's also an experience thing, playing massive open world games of today makes these levels not that big in comparison.

I still like Kazooie more than Tooie, but I'm glad I finally appreciate Tooie more. I always did like it, but also always quit no matter how many times I started it. The last three levels I had to figure out for the most part fresh, as I never really dived into them much before. Good shit.

==

I love stealth games and I'm sad stealth is mostly regulated to an optional playstyle with pretty shallow mechanics. Stealth these days usually means crouching and staying out of view, movement speed and lighting be damned. I'm gonna work my way through the Splinter Cell series. It's kinda interesting how the series can be grouped into pairs. The first two, 3 and 4, then 5 and 6 all feel similar in gameplay and movement. The first one sadly wasn't as great as I remember. It's still a good time, but the levels aren't as interesting as I remember them feeling, a lot of office buildings and whatnot. The one that stands out is a butchers, just because it's not more of the same. Pandora Tomorrow fixes this, with jungles, the streets of Jerusalem, but does have more generic offices too.

The A.I. also feels a bit inconsistent too. Slowly crouch walk behind a guard and sometimes he'll hear you, if you knock him out when all he does is gasp, the other guard in the next room might come running, might not. Pandora was my first experience with the series, so I will always love it, but Chaos Theory is still king.

One cool feature about playing it on the Xbox One is that the DLC levels are included for free. Pop in the disc and boom, there they are. I never played these levels before so I was very excited to play "new" classic Splinter Cell content. So after all the multiple playthroughs spread out over a decade, how are they? They're okay. That's pretty much it haha.

I will give mad props to the backwards compatibility of the Xbox One. These are some crisp 6th gen games. I bought the HD Remasters for the PS3 years ago, but this is by far the best way to play them. Ubisoft 6th gen remasters for PS360 were kinda crap, with audio issues and usually porting the not best version of the games. That's another thing I was excited about Pandora for, this was my first time playing the Xbox version, so noticing level differences and whatnot was fun too. All in all, I'm glad I played these again. It wasn't that long ago since my last playthroughs, but still, these games are good.

==

So this is my third copy of TR Underworld. I was gifted the Wii version back when it came out in 2008. It was my first one I finished so it'll always have a special place in my heart for it. I bought the PC version years ago, and while I remember having fun, I also remember jank and bugs. I bought the 360 version of it recently because the two DLC levels are still to this day 360 exclusive. As for the main game, yeah, jank and bugs are the name of the game. This camera can be real dogshit. The game crashed around 5 times in the second level than never again until the very end when I replayed the first stage to check out an unlockable outfit. One level had textures go white, sometimes Lara's outfit or hair. Like driving a beat up old car. It honestly makes me sad because the game itself is honestly one of my favorites in the series. I really wish this had more time for Q&A. I'll honestly buy a fourth copy if they ever do a Definitive Edition with extra polish.

The levels are great, and there's only like 3 times you fight human enemies. The vast majority of the time it's just you and Lara exploring and solving puzzles, the way I like it. Sure there are some wildlife animals to fight, but I was pleasantly reminded of the OG TR. There's one levels where you have your motorcycle and have to drive to multiple ruins and temples finding the corrects keys, each with their own platforming section and/or puzzle, before you solve the main puzzle to make your way underground to more ruins. Playing this level really makes me want a "Breath of the Wild" style Tomb Raider. The new ones are Ubisoft-styled, if that makes sense, where the best Tombs are optional. I love the globe trotting of these pre-2013 games, but if they're hellbent on one map, I would love if they just expanded on this idea.

Speaking of pre-2013 TR's, this is also how I prefer Lara as a character. She dual wields pistols and submachine guns, she can backflip and side flip to avoid danger, the grappling hook is fun with combat and puzzles. Her character is also much more engaging imo. She's still smart and laser focused on her goals, but she can be fun and sassy too. It also helps that not every second line is "I've got to do this". Seriously, if you ever play Rise of the Tomb Raider, get ready to hear that a comedic amount of times.

As for the DLC levels, similar to Splinter Cell, this was my first time playing these. The first one, Beneath the Ashes, is pretty good, but it feels and looks similar to another level in the game that also takes place underneath Lara's Mansion. It really is "another level" basically. Lara's Shadow though was really fun, some of the most fun I had with it. You play as Lara's Doppelganger, and if you hold either bumper you can slow time and most really fast. I was 5 minutes away from finishing it before I paused to make supper and whatnot, the Xbox shut itself off cause I was away too long. The game doesn't create autosave files so I had to start over again. Some may say that's a bold design choice. Regardless, I wasn't upset, it meant I got to play it again and this time just speedrun it. Was a lot of fun.

And just to be clear, I do like the newest reboot series, otherwise I wouldn't have beaten Shadow like 4 times already. I do however miss a lot about the pre-2013 titles though, but at the end of the day, as long as the games stay fun that's all I can really ask for.
 
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[Note for Kark: I think I got the abbreviations right. I think Rare Replay has seperate download for certain games that are the 360 versions, but since it was re-released for Xbox One, I used XB1. I had the Splinter Cell discs so I just used Xbox. Tomb Raider is labeled as a 360 game on the store and in "Games", but it's still a digital download that can be played on XB1 so I think that's right?]

Banjo Kazooie (XB1)
Splinter Cell (Xbox)
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Xbox)
Banjo Tooie (XB1)
Tomb Raider: Underworld + Beneath the Ashes + Lara's Shadow (XB1)
In this instance (if you played them all on XB1) they would all be XB1 versions. Disc based BC games download a digital port instead of running the game natively, so it's not considered the OG version despite the OG disc giving you access to the game.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (NS)

Finished this last night, coming in at right around 50 hours.
I must say that the quality of life changes they made, including the changes to Fi, changed this from the red-headed step child of the 3D Zelda's to a game that can finally be truly appreciated for its graphics and story.
I truly loved this game this time through.
Wonderful dungeons with some challenging puzzles. Excellent final boss fight(s). And I enjoyed the interconnected side quests.
I played with joycon controls instead of the motion controls, and after a small learning curve, it became very intuitive.
 
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