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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Karkashan

Married to Chrom
[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.
 
Hitman 3 (PS4)
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (XB1)

Similar to how I described Hitman 2 as "Season 2", this is basically "Season 3". Very familiar gameplay with a few tweaks but overall, the same experience as Hitman 2016. All they could really do to make this better is make the best batch of levels in this trilogy, but I don't think they managed to do so.

I also said why I think 2 is better than 2016, essentially that the level settings are more varied and unique. 3's batch of levels aren't as exciting or fresh as 2s, so I still have to give the nod to 2 being the best of this trilogy. I said how while I don't mind levels that mostly take place in a singular building, I just prefer it when 2 has stuff like a suburban block, a F1 style race track, a South American village, etc. 3 is mostly buildings: Someone's mansion, a nightclub, a hotel, someone's mansion but there's a winery in the basement. That sort of thing. These levels are still a ton of fun no doubt, but I guess the word is "safe". Granted, 3 may have my favorite level of the trilogy because you can dress up as a detective and solve a murder mystery. Your target's brother died and to get an audience with the target, you can solve the crime and meet her in her office. So obviously I loved the fuck out of it.

I do think this game was self-published, so they didn't have Square Enix or Warner Bros cash behind them, and it kinda shows in the cutscenes. They come off as a tad cheap. The story also wasn't as good as I'd hope following 2's cliffhanger, but hey, Hitman is a series I don't really play for the narrative, I want to overload a light display, dress up as a DJ and turn it on as my target walks by, electrifying him in a horrible "accident". Hitman 3 delivers. I have a feeling in a year or so they'll probably release an all-in-one bundle making it one huge game, and that I can't recommend enough.

==

After this playthrough of Choas Theory, I do think this is Top 5 favorite game list material. I played it numerous times as a kiddo, but this playthrough on hard was just tops. Tons of fun, way more polish, fantastic levels that are all memorable with their own twist on things, fun banter between your support crew that'll disappear from the series going forward. Everything it does it does very well. Even grabbing guards for information often made me laugh with the dialogue.

And just to flex a bit, I did this playthrough on Hard, and got 100% stealth rating across all levels, meaning no alarms, no bodies found, and no times identified as an intruder. God gamer coming through.
 
Batman: Return to Arkham: Arkham Asylum (XB1)
Prey (OG) (XB1)

I know I seem like I'm tearing through games, but I'm not writing about them as soon as I beat them haha.

Anyways, I beat the PS3 version of Batman back in February, but after hearing a few friends talk about their time with it recently, I had to go again. I picked up the remastered versions of Asylum and City for $7, and yeah, very much worth it. Not many games I can play and get all collectibles in and do it all again in roughly half a year. Just an incredible game.

This was my first time with the original Prey. I love the one that came out a few years ago, but this one was always one I wanted to try. It's been out for 15 years, and this game is still super impressive. The setting is mental, a hybrid organic and metallic spaceship. Metal walkways and labs mixed with pulsating organs and skin. When I saw vaginas on the floor and walls I knew things were gonna get weird.

The game mechanics though are what made me so impressed. You can shoot panels that flip gravity, magnetic walkways that twist all around, portals that bring you to different areas altogether, it's just so damn cool. When you're flipping a room's gravity multiple times to activate a walkway to go through a portal to another room, it's really memorable. Sometimes the portals are in boxes that you can walk behind. There's also a "spirit walk" where you can leave your physical body and walk through hazards and such. Some areas have asteroids in the room where if you go near, the gravity field changes on the fly. By all means, the level design should be incomprehensible, but mad props to the level designers for making it all work.

The pacing is pretty dope too. Action and puzzles are spread out nicely. Just a tight game all around.

Then I made the mistake of reading up on the cancelled Prey 2 and what the story would have been, fuck man, now I'm upset. Bethesda was a real piece of shit for what they did to it and the developers.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC)

So...I actually finished this a few weeks ago, but simply forgot to mention that I had completed it. But here we are...

I originally played this originally when it first came out (still have the collector's edition w/ the steel case), and enjoyed it back then, and even to this day, still enjoy it.

It's certainly a flawed/janky game, but at the end of the day, it still has a lot of great qualities, most of which have to do with the A-Life system, and how you interact with NPCs all throughout The Zone. I did not really bother with side quests much this time around like I did previously, and I'm sure it left a lot of the game off the table during this play through, but I have the other two games to play (which I have yet to ever play) to keep me occupied in prep for STALKER 2.

STALKER is the type of game that rewards you for patience, and skill. It's not meant to be played via running n' gunning as it'll just get you killed faster. But the game also contains elements that force you to think beyond the normal means, such as finding new routes to your destination, or simply scoping out the area before treading closer and closer. And you better hope you can spot anomalies, because that'll give you a bad time if you're not ready for it. And don't forget that one mutant, the Controller. You never enter long corridors/hallways ever again that first time...

Again, flawed and janky game, especially when it comes to some of the gun mechanics, but it also doesn't play like most shooters of its day. The modding community I know were very active in its early years to "improve" the game in gunplay, carrying equipment, and other things. But I think as you re-enter The Zone, it begs to be played OG, and I think the game is overall better for it. Just take it for how it is because if you're frustrated, and "have" to resort to mods, then you're already doing something wrong.
 
Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Xbox)
Splinter Cell: Conviction (360)

So already my Xbox 1 crapped out. It kept freezing up through multiple games but always worked after a hard reset. Now it just wouldn't output anything to the television. It would beep, light up, but nothing, then shut off by itself. After multiple tries over hours, it finally booted up only to freeze a couple minutes. I managed to factory reset and sell it for dirt. So in order to continue playing the Splinter Cell series I had to dig out my friend's 360 he gave me when he move. Already, I miss the stellar emulation of the 1. Double Agent ran pretty poorly at times, but I think that's to do with the 360's emulation.

That out of the way, Double Agent was a fun enough time, but it's essentially a lesser Chaos Theory. A lot of animations are reused, even some voice clips for the guards. The levels are less interesting, as is the story. I'm guessing since two studios were working on two different versions of the game, the budget and time wasn't as much as Chaos Theory. It's still good, but not as inspired. Even the guard A.I. might be a bit jankier compared to CT. I mentioned in my CT writeup that humor kinda disappeared afterwards, but DA got me with some guard interrogations.

I struggle to think of a sequel that removes so much from the previous game than with Conviction. Even with something like Resident Evil 6, as bonkers as that game is, it took multiple sequels to get there. Conviction barely resembles Splinter Cell. I think there's one section where you can't trigger an alarm, a few spots where you can slip by undetected by just climbing on the ceiling, and no non-lethal options. It's basically Gears of War at this point where if you go in the shadows, enemies will attack your last known position.

Interrogations are also removed from generic soldiers, it's scripted now on certain NPC's where you'll ask a question, they'll refuse, you cave their head in with a urinal or tv or whatever, they'll give you the answer, you'll ask another question and laughably they'll say something like "you need to work on your interrogation skills" in which you brutalize them again, repeat. Take one level for example, you gotta get into the building, so what does Sam Fisher, legendary Splinter Cell do? Blows up a gas tanker by the front gates to go in with everyone alerted. Good. Stuff.

Maybe I'm being a tad hyperbolic. There are still flash bangs and sticky cameras (which are lethal this time around), a silenced pistol, most enemy encounters can slow down a bit as you pick them off one by one, so there is some SC DNA in here, but again, a lot is removed from the older more methodical games. Basically, it boils down to there's very little "puzzle solving" here. Past games each soldier(s) was like a puzzle to assess, with a multiple ways to bypass or knock him out. Sneak up on him for the door code, or hack the keypad yourself, etc. Here it's shoot, melee, or flashbang the room and run by. Sometimes there's multiple entries to a room, but that's about it. No hiding bodies either. Pfft, and Metroid fans complain.

I really try not to use this statement, but it kept creeping into mind with this: "It's a good game, just not a good X game". I mean, it kinda does apply here. That said, whether it's the straight forwardness of it, or the lack of puzzle solving, etc I was ready for the credits to roll. It was a 3rd person cover shooter in a sea of 3rd person cover shooters during that console generation. Sure it has a few twists like "last known position" and the mark and execute, but I was still ready to move on. Not so much Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell as Tom Clancy's Angry White Boomer.

I will say, despite there being one more game, this ending did seem like a good conclusion to Sam. The dude's in his 50's (back then, older now) and he still moves faster than Nathan Drake or Lara Croft haha.

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (PC)

So...I actually finished this a few weeks ago, but simply forgot to mention that I had completed it. But here we are...

I originally played this originally when it first came out (still have the collector's edition w/ the steel case), and enjoyed it back then, and even to this day, still enjoy it.

It's certainly a flawed/janky game, but at the end of the day, it still has a lot of great qualities, most of which have to do with the A-Life system, and how you interact with NPCs all throughout The Zone. I did not really bother with side quests much this time around like I did previously, and I'm sure it left a lot of the game off the table during this play through, but I have the other two games to play (which I have yet to ever play) to keep me occupied in prep for STALKER 2.

STALKER is the type of game that rewards you for patience, and skill. It's not meant to be played via running n' gunning as it'll just get you killed faster. But the game also contains elements that force you to think beyond the normal means, such as finding new routes to your destination, or simply scoping out the area before treading closer and closer. And you better hope you can spot anomalies, because that'll give you a bad time if you're not ready for it. And don't forget that one mutant, the Controller. You never enter long corridors/hallways ever again that first time...

Again, flawed and janky game, especially when it comes to some of the gun mechanics, but it also doesn't play like most shooters of its day. The modding community I know were very active in its early years to "improve" the game in gunplay, carrying equipment, and other things. But I think as you re-enter The Zone, it begs to be played OG, and I think the game is overall better for it. Just take it for how it is because if you're frustrated, and "have" to resort to mods, then you're already doing something wrong.
Been interested in these games for awhile now, but I heard from a lot of people saying I should get a basic mod to fix the bugs and jank. Interesting to read that you think otherwise.
 
Axiom Verge 2 (NS)

Unfortunately I'm pretty disappointed in this one. The first one wasn't a masterpiece, it had some pacing issues, but I enjoyed it more than 2. 2 took out the interesting weapons and replaced it with hand axes and a boomerang. I also found the enemies annoying. Lots of them are fast, attack at a range, fly, or are too short to hit without crouching. Some get right up to you, attack, run away to attack with a different laser beam. Some explode when they die so of course they get in as close as possible. If a few are chasing you and you leave the room and return, they'll still be at the door. They also take too many hits to put down in my opinion. In the options menu you can alter how much damage you and the enemies do, so no shame here, I doubled mine and cut theirs in half. Some enemies still took 5 or 6 swings....if I could reach them. Also, no boss fights, well, kinda. Throughout the game you'll just come across huge enemies that should be a boss fight, but they're pretty pathetic (even before I altered the damage values). All of them are optional, and they mostly just drop upgrade points. There are two mandatory fights, one glitched out and didn't move while I was in my drone form, and the final fight:
you activate switches while she flies around.
Riveting stuff.

The story also didn't do much for me. Loooots of techno-babble and bizarre names that I couldn't remember. Lots of notes to find in the world, but I gave up reading them part way in. I fully admit maybe it would have eventually "clicked" if I read enough, but at this point I lost interest, most likely due to the gameplay frustrating me. The main character doesn't help much either, her knowledge and attitude of the situation appears to alter scene to scene. There are some nods to the first game, but it's been so long I can't remember much (I read a quick general synopsis before playing 2). Lastly, it ends pretty abruptly, so even if I could get into it, I'd probably feel deflated from the ending.

So yeah, did I like anything? Well, it is Metroidvania so it I had moments of fun exploring. I don't think the world is super interesting. Sometimes I'd explore, die and have to re-trace my steps and in those shorts minutes I'd forget which way I went. This isn't Dracula's castle or Planet Zebes by any stretch.

I don't want to be super negative, but there's no way around how I feel about it. I know it's a passion project and whatnot, but I think it took a lot of steps backwards. I don't want to pretend I know how to make a good game or anything, but a sequel to Axiom Verge, I would've hoped, would have doubled down on the weapons, fix up those backtracking issues, have some QOL improvements, and maybe not stick too rigidly to 8-bit Metroid.

In today's market where there's Metroidvanias coming out at such a fast pace (I feel like that scene in Pacific Rim where the scientist explains how exponentially faster the monsters are arriving is an apt comparison), I don't really recommend it. It's not terrible, or broken, or any of those words, but in a world with Metroid: Samus Returns, Hollow Knight, Ori, Bloodstained, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, Momodora, Minoria, Iconoclasts, etc etc, along with all the old classics, yeah, play those. If you absolutely adored the first game and want more lore and whatnot, go ahead though.
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Been interested in these games for awhile now, but I heard from a lot of people saying I should get a basic mod to fix the bugs and jank. Interesting to read that you think otherwise.
I think it depends on the mods really. If the mod includes adding to your weight capacity, then I would say no to that. The limited capacity in carrying items, and weapons adds to the survival aspect, and forces you to really think what you truly need. Obviously, you can carry a little bit above the 50kg or so capacity, but that seriously hinders your sprinting ability, and makes you tired faster You can collect enough endurance enhanced items, and you could sprint from area to area without stopping when under that 50kg limit. It also means you don't have to fight every single battle, and could easily run away.

Balancing on what you need vs. what you can live without such as additional med kits, food, vodka, etc is crucial to the survival elements of traversing through The Zone imo, and just giving players an unlimited capacity, or a really high one (I think I've seen upwards of 150kg), then you're carrying multiple suits, which I think also destroys the core elements.

There are mods I believe that "fix" the aiming aspect, but all it does is make the game easier to play, and I think ends up dulling it, and turns it more into a shooter than a First-Person Survival. I think one mod that could work is more variety in the side quests instead of the usual kill these enemies, or find this item. I did not do this during my playthrough, but you can actually join factions in the game (or just be a Loner if you want) if you do enough quests, and help the others. Of course, this also means the other factions don't take kindly to your presence, and will fire on you.

There's already a lot of depth in the game as it is, but much of it can only be experienced through patience, and some cunning. There are multiple ways to tackle an objective, and based on what I remember, most of the mods just made the game easier, or changed core elements that didn't make it feel like STALKER anymore, and felt more of a typical exploration title. Skyrim this is not.

EDIT: That said, if I could add one more thing to the game, that would be a fast-travel ability. But don't let it be an unlimited thing. Perhaps there would be consequences for using it too often such as avoiding fights to help others that happen. Maybe some people will think of you as a coward if you always look the other way because you have to fast-travel everywhere. I don't know though.
 
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sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Paper Mario: The Origami King (NS)

I'll start off by saying that the end result of playing this was a game I absolutely loved. I'm so glad I played it.
The art style and graphics were fantastic. The puzzles were wonderful. The worlds were fun to explore.
As I had mentioned in other areas, some parts of the regular battles were a bit repetitive. The boss battles were great and a good challenge.
Story and dialogue were fabulous. I had a great time with this game.
If you can find it for $40 or less, I say get it.
If you find it for $30 or less, jump on it immediately.
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Trine (NS)

For those that haven't played it, Trine is a physics based, puzzle platformer where you switch between the Wizard (who can use telekinesis as well as creating platforms and blocks), the Thief (who can shoot arrows and use a grappling hook, and the Knight (who has a sword, shield, and hammer). They touched the Trine and are merged together. The world has been turned to ruin and beasts and skeletons are all that is left. They must travel the land to finally release them from this state.
It's a fun game with gorgeous worlds. (I love the excessive use of glowing purple) I prefer to go through the game as the Thief, but the Wizard and Knight are definitely needed.
There are four game sin the series, and I'm on to Trine 2 next.
 
Iconoclasts (PS4)

I mentioned it in my Axiom Verge 2 write up, so that got me thinking about it. I started it last week, but got distracted by Quake for a bit, so just finishing it tonight. I even went back to my old write up in a previous Completion thread just to see if my thoughts changed and whatnot.

I've said it before, but it's a shame that a lot of games I play I tend to forget about relatively quickly. Not that they're terrible or anything, just I don't think about them soon after the credits roll. If I see the game, I can remember some levels and such, but few games stick with me long after the credits roll. Maybe it's because there's just so much entertainment fighting for our attention, maybe because a lot of them play it safe, especially in today's markets where they gotta appeal to a wide audience just to make profit. Maybe it's because they often don't make me feel something.

I'm not sure, and that can be a whole other discussion, but despite playing this two years ago, I remembered quite a bit about it. I think my opinions on it stayed relatively the same. My biggest complaint about the game still remains the lack of incentive to backtrack for treasure, since all they contain are items used for crafting buffs that don't mean much. No health upgrades or anything like that. The levels though were still fun to blast through. The areas are well designed with a good mix of puzzles and combat.

This time around I understood the story more. The characters in the game do talk philosophy and religion quite a bit. Some of these characters are really interesting and can be dissected and interpreted. They feel really human with believable actions based on what they've been through in my opinion. I think one of the "villains" can probably be considered the main character if it wasn't for the fact that, y'know, it's a game where you play as another character. The game does kinda throw you into this world, but again, where I played it before I already knew what to expect. I'd be curious to hear about other people's second playthough compared to their first. Or, maybe, I was just a dumb dumb back then.

Despite knowing how it ended and the fate of some of these characters, man this game still hit hard. I almost cried on two back to back scenes. One boss fight during the climax was one of the things that stuck with me after these years, and yeah, knowing what happened didn't make it much easier. If anything, me understanding the story more this go around only helped (or hurt?) matters. Depending on your tastes, I can see the actual end boss/ending to be either great or not so great. I like it but I don't think it lives up to the preceding hours.

So, yeah. I still recommend it. And hey, look at that, currently on sale for $8 Canadian, so what? 30 cents 'Murrican? It may be a more linear affair than most Metroidvanias, but to me, it's truly an unforgettable game. Very special in my opinion.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Quake (NS) + Scourge of Armagon, Dissolution of Eternity, Dimensions of the Past, Dimensions of the Machine

Quake was always one of those strange games for me. I knew I had played it when I was young, but my immediately family never owned it to my knowledge, so I could never remember where I played it. And although I had seen the ending of it before, I was hesitant to say that I was the person who got that ending. So along comes this remaster release by Nightdive studios and I decide to rectify this uncertainty by playing the game.

This game is a lot of fun. Yeah it's like the granddaddy of actual 3D FPS games (believe it literally came out the day before Super Mario 64), but the actual core of the game is very fun and works. As well as shooters from this century? On the whole, no, but taking it for what it is instead of what it isn't (while also not propping it up due to nostalgia or that it was "the first of its kind") and it's a very solid first person shooter.

The expansions (all four of them) are an interesting bag. The first two were developed by third parties on behalf of iD in the 90s, and introduced some new enemy types, weapons, and even ammo types that kept each of them feeling very distinct from each other and the base game while at the same time still feeling like Quake.

The latter two expansions (DOTP being released for the 20th anniversary back in 2016, and DOTM being made specifically for this remaster) take the Quake engine and fucking go places with it. They both have very interesting level designs that take advantage of the skills and the knowledge that 20 years of Quake being a part of the public consciousness provides.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (NS)

There are some parts of the FE formula that are timeless, but the lasagna dish this game was baked in is definitely showing cracks 30+ years later
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Trine 2 Complete Edition (NS)

While the graphics improved, I think the game overall took a step back from the original Trine. While the first game focused on physics based puzzles, this one just seemed like a "Best of luck" situation with their puzzles rooms. I still enjoyed it, but again, not as much as the first one.
The DLC with the goblins was definitely an effort to propel the game forward, and it seemed like a step back towards the physics of the first one.
I'm now on to Trine 3, and it is no longer a 2D side scroller. You can now move in a 3D plane while still moving left to right, so maybe a 2.5D game?
 
Quake (NS) + Scourge of Armagon, Dissolution of Eternity, Dimensions of the Past, Dimensions of the Machine
Metroid Fusion (GBA)

I finished Quake the same day as Kark, just forgot to write up about it. I've played the base game before, this was the first time I played the expansions. I don't really have anything to add to what she said, so all I'll say is it's dope. Dimensions of the Machine was downright impressive.

Fired through Metroid Fusion in around 3 hours this past weekend. I always said it was my favorite 2D one, but part way through it I had a thought pop into my head: "Is Samus Returns actually my favorite now?" Tough call. I love the boss designs and the setting in Fusion, but I had a lot more enjoyment going through SR a few months back. Hmmm.

I know Fusion is more linear and directed, but this time once I got the screw attack I wanted to go back to sector 6 for some secrets that required it, only to find I was locked out since it was end game. It never dawned on me until this playthrough, but I really don't know how to get 100% in this game. This time around I only gotten 47%. Still, it's a fun action game with some of my favorite enemy designs. I know some people are sick of him showing up, but I'd love to see Ridley-X pop up in Dread. Such a cool redesign.

In fact, another thought popped into my mind playing this: "I would love to see this remade in the style of Other M". But let's keep that a secret, I don't want the Metroid fandom after me.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
I know Fusion is more linear and directed, but this time once I got the screw attack I wanted to go back to sector 6 for some secrets that required it, only to find I was locked out since it was end game. It never dawned on me until this playthrough, but I really don't know how to get 100% in this game. This time around I only gotten 47%..
I know there's an actual point of no return where you can't go back down to the areas below, but you can actually use the screw attack to access additional paths between the different Sectors.
 
Xenoblade: Definitive Edition (NS) + Future Connected

I think with this playthrough of Xenoblade I can confirm it's one of my favorite RPG's of all time. Just stellar across the board: interesting characters, an amazing world to explore, great main plot that's unique and bonkers, fun battle system, etc. The updated music is fantastic, the boss music gives me chills to this day. I'm happy I rebought this for Switch, the updated character models look waaaaaay better, and the visuals themselves are beautiful.

Future Connected is a post game story that brings back a previously cut area from the original release. It's cool to finally experience the map, but the story is nothing stellar. It deals with themes present in the main game. The main baddy isn't that great either. To quote ET. "It's kinda hard to follow up punching god in the face.". I think that's why I usually ignore post game content in RPG's. Once you hit that emotional and climatic high of beating the main threat, which is usually a God, nothing really compares.

But before I did punch him out, I did a lot of the end game stuff, getting everyone above level 95, basically did everything I could. Was a ton of fun, but boy am I ready for shorter games again haha. I wasn't aware Tales of Arise's release date was so soon, i.e. a few days ago, so that will unfortunately wait awhile whilst I decompress from over 90 hours of anime.

So yeah, if you want to buy it, buy it for the main game. Future Connected is still good, but I don't think it's worth a buy just for that if you beaten Xenoblade on Wii or 3DS recently. I will say though, FC did give me a new waifu, so there's that.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Tales of Arise (Platinum'd) (PS5)

Freed of the shackles of the PS3, the Tales of series soars to new heights in this latest adventure by Bandai Namco.

Now to stop sounding like a PR woman I just want to say... I love this game. It does so much to streamline the Tales experience and bring it kicking and screaming to a new gen (at least, for the series) while never once losing its identity as one of the pillars of the JRPG genre.

The only two things I'll touch on the story are the following:

1) None of the twists in this game felt like complete asspulls. They all had hints or the game made you question the very nature of the lore you were given, and a lot of times your guesses wouldn't be too far from the truth. There were some things I doubt anyone could guess, but they never felt like bullshit but rather an expansion of the story, themes, and lore.

2) The friendships between all the members of the party and the romantic chemistry between the three pairs of male and female leads were very well done. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me indignant, and they made me happy to witness it all unfold.

The art style was amazing, the music was incredible, and the core mechanical gameplay loop was sublime.

I don't know yet what joys Dread may bring next month, but as of right now I have a candidate for my personal Game of the Year; and that candidate is Tales of Arise.
 
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Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Tales of Arise (PS5)

Freed of the shackles of the PS3, the Tales of series soars to new heights in this latest adventure by Bandai Namco.

Now to stop sounding like a PR woman I just want to say... I love this game. It does so much to streamline the Tales experience and bring it kicking and screaming to a new gen (at least, for the series) while never once losing its identity as one of the pillars of the JRPG genre.

The only two things I'll touch on the story are the following:

1) None of the twists in this game felt like complete asspulls. They all had hints or the game made you question the very nature of the lore you were given, and a lot of times your guesses wouldn't be too far from the truth. There were some things I doubt anyone could guess, but they never felt like bullshit but rather an expansion of the story, themes, and lore.

2) The friendships between all the members of the party and the romantic chemistry between the three pairs of male and female leads were very well done. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me indignant, and they made me happy to witness it all unfold.

The art style was amazing, the music was incredible, and the core mechanical gameplay loop was sublime.

I don't know yet what joys Dread may bring next month, but as of right now I have a candidate for my personal Game of the Year; and that candidate is Tales of Arise.
I just started this, I might finish it in either two months or two years. I like it so far.
 
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