Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Kirby's Dream Land 2 (1995) - This was the first game I remember playing and owning as a child. I really loved playing Kirby on my blue Game Boy Pocket (And in retrospect I wonder if such a formative gaming experience for me being done and that little old black & white screen set the groundwork for me to be open to black & white film later on in life), and I while I still own that I sadly lost my Kirby's Dream Land 2 cartridge long ago.

I have yet to find that missing cartridge, though luckily the game came to NSO recently and I took the time to finally play through it fully. I think its still pretty fun, and I think it does a nice job still of doing the Kirby thing of being "easier" kind of platformer to introduce people to video games with (Though I think the true final boss gauntlet is a bit much for a Kirby game). I think the biggest surprise to me revisiting the game was how well the animal buddy stuff holds up. They really feel like a genuine powerup with the different variations for Kirby's powers, and honestly I think they compare favorably against the animal buddies in Donkey Kong Country 2.

Maybe its just the nostalgia talking but I think this is a great little game overall.

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Witch on the Holy Night (AKA Mahoyo, 2012) - This visual novel is remake of a novel that Nasu wrote in like 1996 (Which has apparently been buried to some degree from what I've read online), and serves as general prequel to most of Type-Moon's properties. The basic story is about an honestly pretty simple feud between two sisters (As one feels the other robbed her of her inheritance and is trying to murder our lead characters as a result) and of various other people that get dragged into it, though I did find the characters generally charming and it did honestly give me a new appreciation from how some of these characters are used in "later" Type-Moon games (Tsukihime being obvious example here, the shift from Aoko as a protagonist to Shiki is pretty startling in retrospect considering some of the uh, darker stuff that Shiki is willing to do in some of that game's routes). In terms its probably their least cynical and morally ambivalent game too. Pretty much nobody dies here and nobody's life is really ruined or anything, which is a pretty far-cry from the later, more thematically ambitious stories. That's not to say Mahoyo's story is bad or anything, but the intentions behind it are honestly pretty different (Mostly obvious in the fact that it's almost purely "kinetic" novel without any choices, barring a goofy mystery sidestory you can play after finishing the main game).

I think what impressed me the most here though was just how strong the presentation was. Everything about the game is just gorgeous, from the music to the CG's to general sprite work, to the different outfits for all the various characters. Easily one of the best looking VN's out there IMHO. One thing that particularly impressed me is how often that "shots" in the game weren't even CG's, but were created by an almost cinematic placing of the character sprites within the foreground and background. Not that Mahoyo was first game to ever use anything other than standard "3/4th headshot" for mostly static sprites (I seem to remember Umineko create weird "closeups" on faces a few time for example, as well as other games creating crude animations to show a character walking from background to foreground.), but I have yet to see any be quite as dynamic as Witch is.

The last thing to mention is that this is the first of these VN's to get an official localization, which has me very optimistic for the future as far as English releases go.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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I fondly remember playing both Kirby’s Dream Land and Kirby’s Adventure as a child, but never played Dream Land 2; hadn’t heard of it until a few years ago.
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Adventure might be my pick for most underrated NES game tbh. Its fairly late for the NES but its honestly impressive what they were able to do on it.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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I literally called the Nintendo hotline to help find one secret exit for Kirby's Adventure in order to get 100%.
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Resident Evil 4 (2023) - This game fucking rules. It modernizes RE4 so well, most noticeably I think in pacing. I thought the original game dragged a bit by time you got to the island section, but the Remake streamlines things so well that the game constantly feels like its escalating. Of course a lot of this owes to the OG RE4 smartly knowing when to throw new enemy types and variations at you but that's something that would have been easy to fuck up here but is preserved so well.

It really provides a strong contrast to combat of RE3 Remake and Village (And honestly even RE2 Ghost Survivors DLC) too- like I said in the demo, Leon just has so many options here that he's constantly fun to control and fight with and the Ganados are such fun fuckers to mow down. By comparison, as much as I love the RE2 zombies they just really don't work with the game that RE3 Remake is trying to be. With RE4, the Ganados have a combinations of weaknesses and counters to Leon's moveset.

Its also cool that despite having more linear level design than say RE2 Remake, there's a lot of really cool little skips and such that you can use to speed through the game (Especially some fairly challenging sections). I've played this game six times so far, and I was having such a different experience easily downing enemies on Professional without even bonus weapons (Though I had Ashley's armor) compared to my first playthrough on Hardcore mode where I was having a ton of fun but struggling a bit.

It's honestly a 10/10 game I think. Its hard to put into words just how good this plays and how addicting the gameplay loop is.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad (2017) - I didn't want to replay the entirety of BOTW before TOTK but I was reminded that I never did get the DLC. It's pretty solid overall, though I have to say I made a huge mistake in doing the desert/Gerudo stuff first since its by far the harder of the four sub-questlines you do before you can get into the new dungeon (Which I thought was going to be a new Divine Beast but I guess wasn't?). It didn't help that my BOTW skills were very rusty and I didn't have many hearts, so I was struggling quite a bit first to point I was regretting buying this DLC lol. Plus this section of the game makes you do the Yiga Hideout again which is easily my least favorite thing in BOTW.

Everything else was fine though, and I liked the new dungeon and the boss at the end was really cool even if I had to stock up on healing items to pummel through him.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Yeah I really liked that final boss; definitely one of the best in the game. The cycle reward is great IF you rush to do the quest as early as you can in a play-through which I did last time I played it. But if you save it for the very last thing, then I guess no reward would actually be worth it.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed (2023) - Oh hey this DLC finally came out.

I generally liked this much more than base game XB3. The character progression being tied to exploration and finding items in the overworld is a really nice touch, and I generally like this battle system more than the base game's. The Ouroboros transformations and class systems there never felt good to me, and I like how they've been replaced with the Unity system (Basically giving you plain super attack and additional benefits) and predefined class roles for the characters. If I had a major complaint is that the Chain Attack system from the base game is retained in the DLC is retained and plays out for far too long for the amount of times you'll be using it.

I also like the cast here more generally than the base game's. Matthew and A are a far more charming duo than say Noah and Mio ever were, and the party generally coming from different backgrounds addresses the complaint I had with the base game where everyone feels a bit more samey compared to parties you might see in other games.

Also the lore dump toward the end of this was pretty unexpected and shocking to me. They seem to be trying the Xenoblade trilogy, Xenoblade X, Xenosaga, and possibly even Xenogears into massive single connected story which I don't really know how to feel about. Especially with Xenoblad X being there and being premised upon the entire Earth being destroyed by out of nowhere alien invasion, which can make the struggles of other games feel kind of pointless if that's what they all were building towards. Still I'm curious about the future of the "Xeno" franchise going forward.

And not counting that stuff, I do have to say the core plot did have some elements that seemed kind of rushed to me and I was still confused about even after beating it. Like I don't really quite got the whole Alvis/A split and what drove Alvis so genocidal, or what happened to like half the cast of XB1/2, or what exactly Shulk, Rex, and A are doing in the ending. I never understood any of the Fog Beast stuff in Future Connected and still don't understand why they're running around in Aionios. Also I guess the worlds merge again in the end but I wonder how it works exactly. Like do people born on Aionios still exist or what? I really wish this prequel DLC had been the base game and gotten the full treatment while the actual base game had been a like a DLC epilogue to be honest. I had more fun here in 20ish hours than I did in the 100 it took me to clear the base game despite a few issues that come from DLC limitations.

One other thing I'll add is that after you beat the final boss here and reload your save file, the seventh character that gets added to your party really sucks in combat. She's an Attacker which you don't really need since Rex does absurd damage on his own, and her very presence adds element of randomness to Chain Attacks that can prevent you from building up damage properly for post-game challenges. This would be fine if there was way to remove her but there isn't from what I can tell.
Last edited by Raxivace on Wed May 03, 2023 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Gendo wrote: Mon Apr 24, 2023 9:24 pm Yeah I really liked that final boss; definitely one of the best in the game. The cycle reward is great IF you rush to do the quest as early as you can in a play-through which I did last time I played it. But if you save it for the very last thing, then I guess no reward would actually be worth it.
Yeah it reminds me of those RPG's where you only get the strongest weapon after being a superboss or whatever. At that point its more an in-game trophy than anything else. At least in BOTW you can rush for the motorcycle like you said.
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Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (2002) - Well now that I'm done with the Xenoblades time to go through the Xenosagas...

This game is definitely closer to spirit in Xenogears to than the Xenoblade trilogy. There's definitely more emphasis on somewhat obscurantist storytelling (Which the Xenoblades didn't really do until 3 and its DLC), and the turn-based combat system is far closer to Gears as well. Here we have Gears-esque combo system with special finishers for normal attacks, ability to pilot and upgrade mechs (Honestly the mechs seemed kind of useless though since there's maybe two battles in the entire game where you actually want to use them.), and ability to manipulate turn orders a la Final Fantasy X through "Boosting".

Each character has their own Boost Gauge that builds up over time as you do your finisher things, though I misunderstood the system at first because I didn't get that you could only Boost a character to make them next in line to take an action on a different character's turn. One annoying thing here though is that if an Enemy is Boosting they take priority over your boosting, and if you're fighting like five enemies at once you can get caught in an unfortunate cycle of enemy attacks. Until you learn powerful moves that allow you to attack the entire field at once, there's really no better strategy I found than hitting single enemies with your best attacks and healing up with multi-target heals.

It's not best combat I've ever seen in turn based JRPG but its good enough. I think it works here though because Xenosaga 1 is only like 30 hours long, compared to like Xenogears where the game is much longer and the combat wears out its welcome before even Disc 1 is finished.

The only other major gameplay thing to mention I think is that I do think the game suffers from classic problem of sidequests having absurdly specific timing to even trigger. I'm mainly thinking of the e-mail questlines here, where to even get yourself onto one of the major questlines you have to talk to specific NPC at specific time and if you don't then lol go fuck yourself. This is by no means problem unique to Xenosaga, but its annoying since the game doesn't always quite guide to this stuff.

The story I also generally liked. It has nice early 2000's sci-fi/space opera vibe and the kind of convolution and mix of refernece material that I love- weird, sci-fi, mythology, and Biblical references alongside quotations from Dirty Harry of all things. I think Shion's and KOS-MOS's relationship was my favorite thing in the game- KOS-MOS is some kind of battle android that Shion's dead boyfriend invented (Who is even revealed to have been killed by KOS-MOS prototype during some freak accident). Shion is currently mechanic for KOS-MOS, and its hard to tell how much of her fascination with KOS-MOS is scientific, how much is her viewing her as some kind of stand-in for her dead boyfriend, and if there isn't like some kind of lesbian version of the Pygmalion myth going on here (Honestly its probably a combination of the three). It's hard to say because Shion does some borderline psychotic things to keep KOS-MOS around- the whole incident where she demands KOS-MOS rescue her and this other dude Allen from an escape or else Shion will open hatch and kill both her and innocent passenger Allen is absolutely nuts thing that frankly makes her come off more like jealous girlfriend than simple scientist or some kind of mother figure. When you factor that again, KOS-MOS is from same project that killed her boyfriend or how toward the end of the game Shion receives some kind of psychic vision of the future where KOS-MOS destroys entire planet it does put Shion's willingness to pal around with her in weird but interesting light that goes beyond explicit plot about galactic conspiracies and space aliens from another dimension and such.

I'm really looking forward to play Xenosagas 2 and 3 after Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Gotta know where all this is going.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Assuming that we spend nearly as many hours on TotK as we did on BotW, thinking about anything “after” that is far too way distant future planning for me!
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I know some people put hundreds of hours into BotW, but I probably only put 40 to 50ish between the main game and the DLC. TotK will probably be similar for me.
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Final Fantasy IV (1991/2011) - It took me a while but I managed to knock this out finally (I started sometime last year I think) before TotK came out.

I just couldn't get engaged by this game at all. SNES RPG's are in a weird place for me now where their stories and characters are too developed to have the charm of the simplicity of NES titles like the original three FF games, but also not quite developed enough to be like legitimately engaging in their own right beyond need for historical contextualization. Though even the historicity argument has me wondering how much of it is more influenced by American games skipping from NES FF1 to SNES FF4 without FF2 or FF3 as stepping stones. I gotta wonder about FF2 especially here, because whereas FF4 is constantly pulling punches by revealing most of its killed characters to not be so killed after all, FF2 has characters just fucking stay dead. Cecil and Kain may be better developed characters than like Firion (The most forgotten of all Final Fantasy protagonists), but I'm not sure they're THAT much better and plenty of other FF4 characters like Rosa are still as one note as an NES character. Then again it might be problem with the English localization more than FF4 itself.

FF4 deserves credit for, AFAIK, pioneering the ATB battle system but I've also become far more ambivalent to ATB than I used to be. It kinda feels like awkward mix of turn based and action game play to me now in these older FF games (It CAN be good as something like FFX-2 shows, but that game is exception rather than norm I think), and it sucks where there are a few times where I'd die just because it took too fucking long to be able to let Rosa cast off a Curaja or something. This is particularly notable once you get to the Moon and enemies just get absurdly tanky and with an incredibly high encounter rate at that. I used to think Jimbo's woes in this area were him not being used to ATB but no, he was right and there is legitimately something very off about the difficulty spike here. I had to grind from my party from the late 40's to late 50's just to kill the final boss and even then I needed lucky RNG in the beginning with his spell spams to not just wiped out AND I needed foresight to just let Rydia stay dead the whole battle since Zeromus just countered her spells with high damage ones that targeted the full party anyways.

This also might be the worst inventory system I have ever seen in a JRPG which is an impressive feat since I've played EarthBound. It's just so insanely limited that exploring never feels good because any time I found an item I might actually want (Or god forbid you try and remove all of Kain's equipment before he leaves party) I would have to open the clunky menu and find items to delete and its just tedious. Its far too easy to to reach the max here and the Fat Chocobo system for storing item is hardly elegant supplement.

I'm glad to have finished off all the mainline FF games now except for 11, 14, and the upcoming 16 now in some form (Still not sure if I'm even going to do the MMO's but maybe someday. FF11 in particular seems hard to muster up enthusiasm for). There's also the sequels to FF4 in Interlude and The After Years I could play through my PSP version, but man I cannot even stomach the idea for more FF4 right now.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023) - I was surprised by how much I liked this. I liked Breath of the Wild well enough but didn't love it, and I was pretty skeptical going into TotK since a lot of the pre-release footage focused on constructing vehicles and such. I typically haven't liked that kind of thing in games (Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts being prime example), but I was shocked at how smooth it was to just build stuff in TotK. Cars, gliders, ramps etc. It was all very smooth.

Smooth really describes much of TotK for me, because I just had a much easier time here than I did in BotW. I didn't do everything there is to do in this game (Not even close), but nothing I ran into really irritated me the way BotW did. The Shrines I did were all fairly intuitive, the Temples were pretty straightforward (Though I do think they're slight downgrade from Divine Beasts. I missed having to manipulate the Beasts themselves here), there were no bullshit puzzles where you had to hold the Switch, no Yiga Hideout style nonsense etc.

I think the game had a pretty strong sense of progression too. The game directs you pretty early on to go underground and man is it massive, dark, and scary for the first time. The "Gloom" damage down there that temporarily seals away your Hearts is pretty intense stuff early on, and there are a lot of gangs of dudes in general too. I like how as you go on in the game though, you not only get more empowered as you did in BotW through equipment, weapons etc. but also clearing the Temples not only gives you powers but party members too! I found that to be an incredibly unexpected thing for a Zelda game to do, and it makes that underground exploring in the Depths less and less terrifying as you an amass a small little army to tackle through it. Its very empowering, and that you can run around with so many people honestly reminded me of running Fallout 3 or something with mods to expand the number of Companions you could have at once lol.

If I had a slight complaint its that the final boss was the first time I wondered if I could actually heal Gloom damage through cooking because there was no reason for me to do so before that. Luckily I had just enough stuff to heal my Gloom a few times, but that could have been potentially very frustrating.

Good game IMO.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse (2004) - To start with I have to say I find the American boxart a little bland.

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^Comparatively the Japanese boxart isn't like the best I've ever seen or anything but I think its a little more striking of an image. It makes me wonder why they changed it. Maybe the focus on KOS-MOS's ass was too much for American stores but if that were the reason it would be a silly one.

Anyways I found Xenosaga 2 to be a fairly weird game in ways I didn't expect since it strews very close to Xenosaga 1 in some ways and is very far in others. In terms of mechanics, this is still clearly a variation on Xenosaga 1's battle system with turn manipulation and such, although there are some changes. Mechs go from something you can bring out at any time to being restricted to specific sequences in the story (Barring final boss where you have option to fight him on foot or in mechs). The traditional RPG economy from Xenosaga 1 is completely gone (No money or shops at all), and instead you gain accessories and skills through Skill points. Characters have specific elements and types of attacks they're restricted to as well now.

This game also introduces "Breaking" enemies to increase the amount of damage you do to them, which would become huge part of spiritual successor franchise in Xenoblade years later. Its kinda cool to see an early version of that here.

I have to say I never quite figured out how to play Xenosaga 2 optimally though. In Xenosaga 1 your best bet was to get characters to learn special attacks that hit all enemies at once and you could more or less decimate through the rest of the game that way. I stayed on the main story path in Xenosaga 2 but by end game I felt like battles started taking a really long time (Even with speed-up option of emulators) and I don't know if I was playing wrong by that point or not. I'm not sure because I only actually died in like three or four battles through the entire game (Which is frankly less than what happened to me in Xenosaga 1), but when even some regular enemy battles were taking like 10 in-game minutes to clear it feels like something was going wrong.

I gotta say the change in art style was kinda jarring too, especially in the first half of the game where characters are still in their Xenosaga 1 outfits. Xenosaga 2 not only starts shortly after Xenosaga 1 ended, but with the party finally arriving at the planet Second Miltia after trying to get there since partway through the first game. However you go from characters looking like this...

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to this...

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...was a little shocking to me jumping into Xenosaga 2 so quickly after the first game.

I'm not sure what prompted the art style change but its jarring (That they decided to have Shion forego wearing glasses for some reason in Xenosaga 2 is kinda weird too and doesn't help). I think of all the character KOS-MOS while still in her Xenosaga 1 attire suffers the most here. She almost looks like modded Create-A-Character you'd download for Skyrim or something here. To be fair some characters like Ziggy or chaos (Lol btw at chaos' name being revealed to be Yeshua in the epilogue. I hope Xenosaga 3 goes all the way and literally has him be Jesus Christ) do look more or less the same still. And I do actually think most of the other character models do look real good (Love Shion's outfit change generally), but it is still jarring to go from more cartoony anime designs to something going for more Bebop-esque anime realism designs.

What also doesn't help is that the game feels like it had less production value than the first one did. Like in cutscenes there are far fewer times where separate high quality character models are used than normal in-game ones. I don't know if for a fact less money was spent on Xenosaga 2 but it feels like budget title compared to the first game. It doesn't help that the game doesn't seem to emulate quite as well as the first one- lots of blocky shadows and slow loading times and such for me.

The last thing to mention here is that this is a two-disc game despite the main story being like 10 hours shorter than Xenosaga 1. I know there's side quests and postgame content I decided not to do that would take up space on the discs but its a little baffling to me since its not like Xenosaga 1 didn't also have side quests.

The other weird thing here is the focus on the story shifting from Shion and KOS-MOS so heavily to instead focusing on Jr. and his rivalry with his seemingly immortal "brother", the villainous Rubedo from the previous game (Who hilariously namedrops Paul McCartney at one point and quotes lyrics from Ebony and Ivory. Can't say I've ever seen a JRPG villain do that before, though Jack from Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin being huge Frank Sinatra fan comes close). I thought their conflict and expanded backstory stuff was really pretty good but it does leave the leads I thought I was going to be following out to dry a bit. Shion and KOS-MOS's relationship isn't really explored to same degree as in the first game (In fact KOS-MOS doesn't have too much going on here really, I hope the third game picks up slack here), but Shion at least has some kinda neat stuff with her brother Jin becoming more of a character here instead of some guy just alluded to in the first game.

I did like Xenosaga 2 overall but apparently some production troubles lead to it being the way it is, and I can see why its sort of a blacksheep of the series.

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Grimace's Birthday (2023) - So McDonald's made a meme game for the Game Boy Color of all systems (Like literally while there's browser version you can run a rom of the game on a GBC emulator). I decided to check it out since I still have some nostalgic attachment to McDonalds characters of all things. The game is a fairly basic platformer but honestly its kinda decent for what it is? Like it controls alright and there wasn't any like ridiculous difficulty or anything in there. Its only four levels long but I would have played expanded version of it.

It's sort of odd seeing the McDonalds characters use Gen Z-speak in the cutscenes and such too but eh whatever.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Tsukihime: A Piece of Blue Glass Moon (2021) - The first half of the Tsukihime Remake has been available for a while now, but only recently has did the game get its English fan translation completed. Piece of Blue Glass Moon only adapts the "Near Side" routes for Arcueid and Ciel from the original game (With the "Far Side" routes of Akiha, Hisui, and Kohaku routes alongside an all new route for Satsuki being left for a later sequel called The Other Side of Red Garden), but this should not be thought of as a lack of effort. Doing just Arcueid and Ciel's routes alone here took me over 50 hours, which is about what the entirely of the original Tsukihime took me (And honestly the original game might have taken me less time). That's how expanded this is, really going out of its way to add more character moments and expand the world of the game.

I was really fond of the original game despite being rough around the edges, but I have to say this is a pretty clear improvement. Sure there's some charm in the original's roughness, but the the sprite work and drawings here have just gotten insanely better in the twenty-one years between the original and the remake.

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(2000)

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(2021)

It's not just a matter a general sprite artwork being higher quality, but similar to Witch on the Holy Night there's much greater emphasis on creating more dynamic images than simply using sprites to simulate rather bland medium shots in film. And man they really wen It all out on the art here- while the original game was lacking in CGs there's tons and tons here. Same with the music- the original had like 10 tracks (Which were admittedly all pretty decent but by the end of the original game they had overstayed their welcome I think), whereas the Remake has closer to 100 tracks.

In terms of story additions I like pretty much everything the Remake adds/replaces. One major example is the first major vampire battle with Nrvnqsr being replaced with Vlod. I thought Nrvnqsr's battle was kind of slog in the original and his power of being a walking cadre of zoo animals felt a little out of place with the rest of the VN and his character itself never did a lot for me (Though I came to like him a little more in Melty Blood). Vlod's weird Ice/Fire powers are a little more fitting to me, and him originally being a knight that fell to vampirism is waaaaay for fitting of a pull I think, since it echoes not only general vampire tropes more but thematic concerns about Shiki's character in general (In regards to if he's normal guy or actually is just some psycho killer or not). There are plenty of other new characters too that don't have an obvious corollary in the original game (Like Goto, Mio, Dr. Arach, the new church characters like Mario and Noel) though not all of their deals are fully clear after having finished

Arcueid's route is mostly similar to the original game, just expanded and at higher quality. There are a few new Bad Ends that foreshadow later developments for the Far Side routes, but its mostly similar to Evangelion 1.11 in feeling familiar but updated. Ciel's route really got a massive overhaul here though. In the original game, Ciel's route really just felt like a glorified alternate ending to Arcueid's route. Now in the Remake, her route really has more of an identity as kind of heavy action route. Battles against Noel's Vampire Form and Arcueid are really made into something of a great spectacle now, and at times even gives me Kizumonogatari vibes (especially once Shiki himself gets vampirized here). While the spectacle is fun, they really do a great job selling Shiki and Ciel's relationship and Ciel and Arcueid's rivalry here compared to the original game.

The strangest deletion to me in the game though is Len seeming to be entirely removed from the story. She was pretty tangential in the original game's story to be fair, but some of the sequels like Kagetsu Tohya and one of the Melty Bloods were kind of predicated on her character even existing. If she's flat out not around anymore, it makes me wonder what the long term plans for the franchise even are post-The Other Side of Red Garden. I wouldn't exactly be upset if we forwent Plus-Disc or Kagetsu Tohya stuff for completely new material, but it would be very weird if we also didn't get characters like Sion and Wallachia again in some form.

Also I have to say I'm surprised at how much of the sexual content remained in the game. Like the more graphic stuff being gone was expected, but more of it remained than I thought which surprised me. They did up the some of the gore too, which uh has to be some of the more graphic stuff ever put on a Nintendo console.

The only thing that stands out to me as maybe as actually weaker in the Remake than the original game is the infamous "This chair" scene.

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(2000)

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(2021)

While I I love the visuals the Remake adds here, I think the sheer amount of "This chair"'s in the original is just a little more striking, and IIRC you had to click through each individual one in the original game. The Remake just kind of auto-plays them- while I think there's argument to be made is that its simply different way to show intrusive, anti-chair based thoughts I'm not sure it really has as strong of an impact.

I'm really curious to see how the rest of the routes are handled in The Other Side of Red Garden. Akiha's was not one of my favorites in the original game, but I'm really curious to see how the Tohno family drama is handled now that we have characters like Arach and Goto running around. I have to wonder if Hisui's and Kohaku's routes are going to be differentiated more too, since in the original game Kohaku's route had kind of a problem as Ciel's route in feeling more just like a glorified alternate ending to Hisui's. Then there's whatever the hell Satsuki's is going to be- it would be nice if she could actually be saved in the Far Side routes this time but who knows how it will actually play out. My biggest concern is the writing going more for spectacle again like Ciel's route did. Sure it was fun in Ciel's route, but the Far Side routes were interesting in the original game because they downplayed action from the Near Side routes significantly for more weird psychodrama stuff and IMO were the highlight of the game. That a Piece of Blue Glass Moon's bonus ending describes Red Garden as more of a "mystery" than an action story has me optimistic though, and well there are certainly mysteries left to be resolved.

Anyways I'm very happy with Piece of Blue Glass Moon and while it will likely take Other Side of Red Garden several more years to come out and even more years on top of that to get translated, I'm very excited for the future.

EDIT: Lmao not even a few weeks after the fan translation is finish is an official localization announced at Anime Expo.

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Street Fighter V (2016) - Eh. I've heard horror stories of this one over the years, though it seems like its reputation has gone up over the year as the game has been patched and modified (I think I remember reading that the initial release of SF5 didn't even have an Arcade Mode and was totally multiplayer only? If that's true its very mind-boggling attempt to appeal to hardcore E-sports crowd at expense of everyone else). It seems like it plays fine to me, though I only did a quick run of Arcade Mode (I should probably go back to this at some point and do the Story Mode though). I think the problem is the game is that visually its kinda ugly, and now with SF6 out it seems like there's not much reason to go to this one over either older SF games or SF6.
Last edited by Raxivace on Mon Jul 03, 2023 3:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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I've been playing some Final Fantasy 16 recently and so far I have kind of mixed feelings, but I'm pretty early. People have talked up how much it lifts from Game of Thrones and Devil May Cry and such and I get why, but there's a fair amount of Evangelion and Tales of Berseria here too. I'm not really sure FF16 is going to hit any of the heights of those for me though.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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I'm about halfway through FF16 and I think this legit might be one of the least engaging games I've ever played in my entire life. Plodding story that goes nowhere (Especially after fairly dramatic start that's riff on Game of Thrones and Berseria and such), flat as hell characters, terribly uncharismatic performances from this very British dub, combat that is very mindlessly button mash-y without hint of strategy which is made even worse by how bloated enemy HP is, boring fetch quest side quests that almost never give meaningful reward because lol what would you even spend gil on? What materials would you even craft? And even main story is constantly giving what basically amounts to forced side quests anyways!!!

Like its so jarring to come into this after a year that gave me RE4 Remake, Tears of the Kingdom, and the Xenoblade 3 DLC all of which had better stories so far (Even if TOTK's was pretty simple), and all of which were much better about giving you a sense of progression to keep you engaged. FF16 is just bad NieR: Automata-esque combat that is somehow even more repetitive.

I could forgive gameplay if the story or characters were even remotely engaging to me but they're some of the blandest I've ever seen in a JRPG. It's sad because I thought the run from FF15 > 7 Remake > Stranger of Paradise was pretty solid and a nice return to form after the 12/13 era, but yeesh I'm wondering if 16 isn't like the worst game in the franchise as I play it. I think I like it slightly more than 12 at least, but that's not saying much.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Survivor (2009) - I went on a bit of a buying splurge recently and picked up a bunch of Wii games I missed out on back in the day. Since I'm a big Survivor fan I decided to check out the Wii game based on it.

Yeah that was a mistake. The game kind of sucks, sadly. It's structured similarly as the show, where you do a Reward Challenge, an Immunity Challenge (Your victory from the Reward Challenge helps you here btw), and then finally you vote somebody out that doesn't have Immunity. The Challenges are basically just standard goofy Wii gimmick minigames, and voting is pretty self-explanatory. As far as I can tell they don't have Hidden Immunity Idols or other advantages from the show worked in either, which is kind of boring.

The biggest thing that kills it though is that NPC's don't have kind of like, stock character to them. There's no really scheming against them or anything. You could do really something cool if they actually felt even remotely like, real people, but they don't. Survivor Wii ends up being more like a bad Mario Party knockoff than anything that actually feels like Survivor.

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Final Fantasy XVI (2023) - Absolutely nothing about this game worked for me. The art style, the combat, the characters, the acting, the music, the story- nothing. It's one of the most nothing experiences I've ever forced myself to finish.

It's difficult to even know where to start with this.

The combat is just low grade Platinum style in vein of NieR: Automata combat except with even less character customization options, boring Platinum style "perfect evades" (It's somewhat similar to dodging in Resident Evil 3 Remake. I think it works alright in that game but I'm not a fan of those kinds of dodges in action RPG's since they tend to mean bosses don't have even remotely interesting attack patterns to learn.), even dinkier combos than Automata's, and you can only have up to six abilities equipped at a time on a cooldown (Mean KH Birth by Sleep, a fucking PSP game, let you have up to 8 equipped at once by the end of the game). On top of all that the enemies are very easy but very tanky and take too long to kill. I don't have a problem with them being easy since FF games are meant for broad audiences, but the the fights themselves are often just a slog. I much prefer combat in Dark Souls or higher difficulty levels of the better Kingdom Hearts games where either you or the boss is going to go down fast. Instead games like FF16 just have you wailing on a dude for 5-10 minutes that probably isn't going to kill you unless you forgot to stock up on Potions or something. It's just not even remotely engaging combat.

Of course there are big "Eikon" fights where you play as the classic FF Summon Ifrit fighting other FF Summons, but those are just an even further stripped down version of the game's regular combat or just shallow spectacles filled with QTEs. It's so funny to compare this to RE4 Remake which went out of its way to remove QTEs that the original RE4 had, meanwhile, FF16 feels a bit stuck in the past.

I honestly could forgive most of this if the game were more engaging in other areas, since most FF games are pretty damn easy anyways barring occasional roadblock boss here or there, but FF16 still falls flat.

The art design is just a very generic medieval setting, with honestly not much that is very striking. The only kinda unique thing about the game are these giant crystals that are in major areas of the game's world, but that's hardly new in Final Fantasy.

The music honestly doesn't really stand out much to me either. I normally think of FF games have at least decent OST's (Even a much maligned game like FF13 had a pretty great soundtrack), but 16's mostly doesn't stand out much which is notable since it has something like 200 songs. Really the only one that stood out to me was the Eikon battle theme but that was about it. Apparently people like composer Soken's work from FF14 but having not played that game I don't get the love.

The story though is my biggest problem because it's just very, very flat overall. In first 10 hours it goes from seeming like emotionally driven revenge story about guy seeking revenge for murder of his father and brother > 13 year time skip > to guy thinking he was the one who accidentally murdered his brother after going berserk as an Eikon > to realizing brother is actually still alive and everything is cool and there's no resentment whatsoever. Dad? Who even is that lmao > 5 year time skip > lol we're off to fight bad guys now for the next 30 hours.

That's been the main character Clive's arc more or less, and it's not even remotely compelling. The whole game feels like it's designed in a way to undercut any sense of drama in favor of stoically just fighting the next bad guy slaver and it's really boring in all honesty (I've even seen the "omg my brother I'm seeking revenge for is still alive" work well as a plot twist in a different game before, so it's not even that as a premise that's inherently bad since it can be played well for drama. FF16 just does it extremely poorly). Clive is the only character you control too (Similar to "character action" games that Platinum makes, or stuff like Devil May Cry) beyond like a 20 minute segment in the prologue, and while occasionally you have "party members" they almost never have ANYTHING to say about what you're doing. If you do one of the game's many, many sidequests for example they won't often chip in with comments or anything like that. This is partly because one of the party members is Clive's pet dog. The second person most often to tag around is Clive's love interest Jill who has even less personality than the fucking dog does. She has like zero chemistry with Clive and almost no goals or even personality of her own. Like she's not even head over heels for him really, she doesn't even have personality in that sense. She just kind of blandly exists as Clive's girlfriend or whatever. The game is just allergic to having much in the way of character or party dynamics.

I kinda think they were relying on more superficially mature presentation in place of any realized characterization. Yes characters can swear like sailors now, get naked and have sex on screen (But breasts and genitals are still covered of course), and die in more gory fashions. They're clearly imitating aesthetic and general narrative style from likes of Game of Thrones and Witcher 3 here. When those were at their best though, they had underlying character work and writing beyond basic titillation. Even in past FF games, a character like Tifa from FF7 hasn't been lusted after since 1997 just because she has huge boobs and a short miniskirt- she had actual personality and interests. She was involved in love triangle, she was keeping huge secret from the party about Cloud's past, and keeping that secret affected her, also when you first meet her in the game she's a member of the terrorist organization AVALANCHE and woah you might have ethical feelings about that etc. In FF16, I don't think anyone is going to care about Jill after 20+ years even though she stabs a dude in one cutscene and gets naked in another. There's little to invest audience into the character. Jill's notable here as the main heroine, but most of the characters are like this to some degree (Female characters in particular are just shafted in general. FF16's attempt to recapture Cersei Lanister in particular is just embarrassing). Even games actually designed to sell you on the sex appeal of their characters understand you have to create an emotional connection in the audience to at least some extent too to really get an into a character's pants (Whether its in finding a character fun or alluring or pitiable or whatever else), but somehow FF16 just completely doesn't understand that.

Again I could forgive all that even if story were at least thematically interesting, but the takes on slavery here don't really interest me (The way they hop from slavery to FF7 style eco-terrorism minus any of that game's moral ambiguity is kinda weird too), and the later pivot from all that to "lol evil God existing is also like living under slavery when you think about it" just doesn't land for me. I will say its hilarious that the evil god in this game is voiced by the same Game of Thrones actor that played the bad guy in Xenoblade 3, and just like in XB3 the name of the final dungeon is even Origin.

Anyways on top of all that FF16's story is very badly paced. I mentioned the game having many sidequests, but you often have similar tedious fetch quests as part of the MAIN QUEST, often inbetween the bigger story moments. Of course you can't structure a story as going climax > climax > climax, you need down time in between. But the down time should be better than finding materials to build a boat for a newly introduced character who you're told is the daughter of another character that died several gameplay hours ago and from what I can tell never mentioned even having a daughter (Who just steals the fucking boat you guys made anyways), or spending 20 minutes finding a stolen passport so you can pass through city gates, or delivering food or whatever. You could spend time building character or whatever instead of this shit.

But FF16 makes this even worse because in-between main story missions you're constantly coming back to a main base the characters occupy called the Hideaway, where important story cutscenes happen, there's a basic shop, you can pick up sidequests and Hunts etc. The Hideaway (Particularly the second version the characters use) fucking sucks because of its basic design and Clive being so damn slow to fucking move. So many times I'd take a sidequest and have to run around the Hideaway to find another NPC who was just going to send me somewhere else anyways to get some shitty items (But not without some needlessly elongated dialogue first. We're talking several minutes of conversation just to tell you to like, pick some flowers or something). There's no point in this game from what I can tell where you can start a sidequest having already found whatever items you'd need already, so there's no point in exploring the game's few open areas ahead of time.

The kind of bland British dub doesn't help much either. It's honestly kind of sleep-inducing to me, but people seem to eat up British people reading off tedious dialogue as long as it has a slick enough presentation. Truly the worst of the English's crimes against humanity. The uh, directorial style of the game feels like it's imitating western AAA games too on top of all that, which is not my personal favorite style in the world.

Supposedly the devs that made this game also made FF14, and man I cannot imagine myself going through an even more drawn out version of FF16. It's legit some of the least fun I've ever had with a video game. It's not even that the game was like a technical mess or janky or anything, but it was unable to connect to me at all. So I'm probably going to just flatout give up on the dream of beating every mainline FF game.

Blah.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Ultra Street Fighter IV (2014) - Played a little bit of this since it was like $5 on Steam a few weeks ago. I remember playing the original SF4 when it came out, and while I can't say for certain its largely similar to what I remember playing back in 2008 just with more characters/stages/etc. Nothing really wrong with the game, though it's a lot uglier than I remember it being.

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Final Fight (1989) - I picked up Street Fighter 6 recently too, and while I'm still in the middle of that one kinda neat thing about the game is that there are full arcade games in it that I guess get cycled in and out through online updates. One of the games they have right now anyways is Final Fight, which I had never played before and only was vaguely aware of it being the game Mike Haggar is from.

Anyways it's another 2D beat-em-up which is not my favorite genre in the world, though I like that you at least have crowd control options here compared to something like Golden Axe. Otherwise its pretty standard beat-em-up stuff, though I like the boss fight against the samurai guy in boxing ring (????) where you have to throw him to get him to drop one of his two swords, and then pick up his sword to damage him. That was a clever use of the mechanics I thought.

Also the poster is cool.

EDIT: I had forgotten this but apparently this was supposed to be a Street Fighter spinoff originally called "Street Fighter '89". I guess that explains why Final Fight characters have popped up so often in mainline Street Fighter over the years. It's also curious that Capcom was trying to make Street Fighter into more of a franchise even before SF2 was made and all they had to work from was the abysmal SF1.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Hyper Dyne Side Arms (1986) - Another arcade game I played through SF6. This one is a 2D horizontal shooting game where you fly around as a mecha blasting other robots. The mecha themselves transform from plane to humanoid robot and even the in-game sprites look like one of Macross' Valkyries to me, though that the mechas in the game are apparently called "Mobilsuits" also brings Zeta Gundam to mind.

The game is kinda clunky. Any time I would grab an upgrade for my robot I would almost immediately get swarmed by enemies, making the upgrade pointless. Bosses were a little better at least since they had simple patterns you could maneuver around. There's really not much else to this game tbh.

One thing I should mention is that SF6 lets you have unlimited credits in these arcade games, and Side Arms is like Final Fight in that if you die you and use a Continue you just immediately respawn on the screen you died on. I don't know that I would have taken the time to master this game if I had to restart a level after losing all my lives tbh, it's just not quite consistent enough of a game to seem plausible to me. Final Fight is at least somewhat plausible on that front, though I don't think I would have taken the time for that either without infinite imaginary quarters.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Magic Sword (1990) - Another one of the Capcom arcade games through SF6. This is an action platformer in the vein of stuff like Castlevania. Basically there's a 51 floor tower with bad guy up top with an evil jewel, and well we can't have that so we gotta climb through this tower.

The combat is pretty basic and none of the enemies are much to write home about, though I like how you can find different partners and such throughout the levels to give you additional attacks. The levels themselves are thankfully short too- I don't think gameplay this basic would have worked with a much longer game.

It's kinda neat that this game has two different endings, based on whether you decide to take the bad guy's evil jewel for yourself or not at the end. I went with destroying it which ended up saving the land or whatever, but I'm not sure what changes if you keep the jewel for yourself.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Street Fighter 6 - Awful boxart is awful. Luckily the game itself rules. I was kinda skeptical going into this because in stillframes its kinda ugly looking and it makes the character proportions look weird, but in movement its honestly really nice looking- easily the best of the 3D Street Fighters (Capcom really making the most of the RE Engine). I also really like (Most of) the gameplay changes here. Drive Rush and Drive Impact are really fun mechanics both to use and counter against- they allow a lot of cool options and having to manage Drive Meter that facilitates all these moves is fun strategic option. I'm a little less thrilled by the addition of Modern Controls- frankly I can't actually wrap my mind around them and what options for Special Moves they allow, how their Auto Combos work etc., and I really wish in online Ranked I could choose to filter out people using them. It just feels like they're playing a different game than those of using Classic Controls. Sure, Classic Controls allow more options (And I think moves do slightly more damage under them), but against long combo strings that doesn't alleviate much (Especially since I play Cammy who doesn't have high damage to begin with). Though I have to say, as I've gotten better at Ranked, the difference between me and Modern Controls players seem less stark. I've been having way more fun Online than perhaps ever before in online SF which really goes a long way.

There's also a Story Mode here called "World Tour". World Tour kind of reminds me of a mix of the story modes of games like Mortal Kombat Deception and Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Your character is just trying to get strong, you have a Rival, there's RPG elements, Masters to learn under and learn moves from, Side Quests etc. It's all good fun though I have to say the story starts feeling dragged out a bit by time you get to Nayshall, and the Level differences between you and NPCs start ballooning to unreasonable degrees, to point where enemy grabs were doing much more damage than my Supers. Sure there are items you can use in battle here to buff yourself in battle, but there's limited supply and if you abuse them TOO much you just have to grind money anyways. I the final boss JP was like Level 58 when I first challenged him and I think was something like Level 47. I grinded up to Level 53 and between that and items it wasn't too bad, but it sucks I had to grind.

Still is World Tour is reasonably fun up until that point (And well perhaps its telling this about when I got addicted to Ranked for a while), and its nice that a lot of the Side Quests are really more about teaching you different game mechanics. SF6 has enough battle options that you don't have to master everything just to have fun playing the game and being able to win some options, but there really is a lot of depth here.

This is probably my new favorite SF game tbh. Between this and RE4 Remake, Cacpcom is on a roll this year.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Resident Evil 4: Separate Ways (2023) - RE4's DLC finally came out and its probably the best DLC in the series. The Separate Ways campaign for the original RE4 is not something I was especially a huge fan of (The only reason to even play it really was to unlock Ashley's Armor costume for the main game), but here I think it works a lot better. They do a really wonderful job having this DLC feel like a truly compact, miniature version of the base game of RE4 Remake that keeps all of that games strengths. In addition some of the stuff from OG RE4 that was not in the Remake is used here instead (The "laser room" and "It" being the most notable examples), that I think really helps Separate Ways also feel distinct from the base game too.

I also think its probably a little harder than base game RE4. I've beaten this three times now, and I was pretty concerned that I did not have enough ammo to beat Ada's El Gigante fight on both my first playthrough on Hardcore and on my S+ Professional Run as well. Luckily I was able to pull through both times, but for the S+ run I had to reset a few times and not miss most of my shots. That's partly my own fault for barely upgrading most of my weapons in that playthrough though.

Some other spots that I remember being pretty troublesome were the "Armor Room" (Again not having many upgrades for S+ is kinda my own fault), and the last enemy gauntlet in Chapter 6 before you do the laser room section.

For my S+ run this was the guide I followed:


*Well I generally followed this guy's advice, I had the infinite knife and the Chicago Sweeper from clearing Professional NG+ in under 4 hours, so I subbed in the Sweeper for the machine guy he uses since eventually you can unlock infinite ammo for it. This was a mistake, at least in the early part of the game, since your pistol and even the Bolt Action Rifle you have just really struggle against some of the early enemies without much upgrades, and well the Sweeper takes a lot of money to maintain that really probably is better spent on other weapons at first.Still once you get unlimited ammo for the Chicago Sweeper things get pretty easy and I was able to blaze through most of the rest of the DLC without much problem.

One other thing to mention is that this guy also has you eventually sell the Bolt Action for the second sniper rifle later on and use the Upgrade Ticket on the machine guy, which I'm not sure is really worth it (Assuming you're forsaking bonus weapons like he was) since the upgrade bonus for the Bolt Action does a ridiculous amount of damage. And honestly just generally upgrading that seems like it would be more useful than the machine gun to me anyways.

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^I may not be at the level of like, actual speedrunners who are clearing this thing under an hour, but it still felt pretty good to accomplish this.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (2001) - Yet another Zelda I started as a kid and never finished. I still have a lot of nostalgic love for this game and Ages and all their weird little gimmicks (Animal buddies, rings, non-Hyrule setting, non-Zelda and non-Ganon heroine and villain, the whole idea of the Linked game etc. Really helps makes it feel distinct from Link's Awakening despite how much it reuses from it.), and I had a blast revisiting Seasons at least so far and finally beating it.

I remember thinking as a kid that the whole premise of the seasons being out of order was pretty unique (Moreso than Ages' gimmick), and yeah the seasons based puzzles in the overworld are kinda cool. One thing I also liked is how the different dungeon items remained useful through the game even after the dungeon you get them in- I remember that being a complaint about more modern Zelda games, but I like how in Seasons at least later on you still have to pull out the Magic Boomerang to hit a switch or the Magnet Gloves to some insane leaping across rooms every now and then. It's cool.

It's also kinda funny to me how the whole idea of Subrosia as an area beneath Holodrum kinda resembles the Depths stuff in Tears of the Kingdom. I mean it's still pretty different since the Depths are supposed to be like, scary where almost everything there wants to kill you, but I wonder if they looked back at Seasons when thinking up ideas for TotK.

I guess I had two minor issues. The first was that I really found myself missing the improvements from the Link's Awakening Remake that helped tone down some of the menuing. This isn't really Oracle of Season's fault that it can be a bit clunky with the constant equipping and unequipping of items since the Game Boy Color only gave you so many buttons, but I'm spoiled from Switch games lol. The other big issue is that two of the Heart Pieces seem to be basically RNG. One of them is a random reward from planting trees in the game (Didn't have too much trouble getting this one thankfully), but the other one is a random drop from this witch girl NPC that you constantly but randomly run into in the game and well despite trying to grind her for like half an hour right before the final boss, I never got her to drop the Heart Piece so I just said "screw it" and moved on ahead. Pretty unfortunate and well from what I understand this won't be the last time a Capcom Zelda game has a really nonsensical RNG Heart Piece for absolutely no reason (Then again Link to the Past sort of had issues here too). Doesn't make me love the game any less, but it's notable.

Not sure when I'll get around to finally tackling the Linked game in Ages, but I'm looking forward to it.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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I played these through once about 16 years ago, on emulator. Was thinking about playing again with my wife now that they're available on the Switch. But that would require actually doing anything other than Tears of the Kingdom.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Been a little while since I played both of these at this point.

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Doki Doki Literature Club! (2017) - This is a western made visual novel that was really popular several years ago, largely because it was free to play and has a "meta" twist of looking cutesy while actually being a horror title of sorts, which is why I decided to play this for the Halloween. The basic premise here is you play as some high school dude that joins his school's Literature Club to hook up with cute girls, but oh noes 4th wall breaking horror shenanigans start happening as you pursue. The game starts glitching out and characters start hurting themselves in sometimes graphic ways blah blah blah.

I just find the whole thing to be not super effective and even kinda misguided. A lot of the "horror" is just in the vein of creepypasta and Sonic.exe nonsense, and stuff this game is lifting from like Higurashi and Umineko (As flawed as those are, Umineko in particular) I think do similar things better and with more depth at their core (Though I supposed DDLC does best it can here at only a few hours in length and not like 80+). In addition trying to be a takedown of dating/harem games is just a kinda silly premise to me, not only because of the concept itself just dumb (If not outright Orientalist) but also because from what I can tell, stuff like this hasn't been really popular within the VN-sphere for like years and years. It's all mystery games, or action stories, or tear-jerking dramas etc. for the most part these days, with eroge's space in the market largely take up by gacha games. It's like trying to do a takedown of like, silent film or something; It just doesn't exist really anymore outside of occasional throwback title like The Artist or random Guy Maddin film or whatever.

Also I have to say, just getting on each of the different girl's routes through the Poem minigame was a little annoying. I get that you're supposed to compose "poems" through picking words that are closer to your desired girl's personality, but some of the word choices are vague and frankly having to pick 20 words each time its for the minigame is just a bit much.

This game did end up fairly popular and people do seem to really like the various characters, which makes me think it probably would have been better with less shock gimmicks and putting more emphasis on storytelling and building character- that's why fans of these kinds of games, of all genders, like this kind of thing to begin with.

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Fate/Samurai Remnant (2023) - This is a Fate action RPG set in 1600's Japan, as Master/Servant pairs fight in the "Waxing Moon Ritual" to have their wish granted. I have to say its probably the closest any of these games have come to recreating the specific type of atmosphere the original FSN had, and with a pretty solid combat system too.

You mainly play as Iori Miyamoto (Heir to Musashi Miyamoto and a historical figure in his own right like most of the human cast of this game to some extent, though liberties are taken for the sake of the story). While he's a talent swordsman and can fight other humans on rough equal ground, in combat he stands little chance against enemy Servants. Luckily Iori has a Servant of his own, a Saber class one at that, who has plenty of strong abilities (And even starts at a higher Level than Iori) and switching to them in combat is largely how you're meant to take down powerful enemies like Servants. That's not to say Iori is worthless though, he's still gaining abilities and combat stances throughout the game and sometimes has to take on enemies without Saber. As you get deep into the game and replay it multiple times too, Iori begins to overtake Saber in strength and on NG+ Saber starts noting how Iori seems to be getting addicted to battle, which perhaps why the darkest ending where Iori can choose to use the Waxing Moon to launch Japan into a war for his own warrior ego's sake is locked to additional playthoughs. Of course there are other Servants you can partner with throughout the game too, and they each have their own little mini-arcs, sometimes where you even play as them.

While this may not have the monster budget something like FF16 has, its a pretty solid game and I liked running through the story and the multiple routes. The major NPCs were all charming enough, the old Japan setting was neat etc. One other thing I really liked were the board game segments where you battled for control of spaces- really reminded me of the Grail Front events in FGO- I kinda wish there was a mode that prodecurually generated these segments, since it seems like you're only able to play the ones that the story throws at you, with maybe or two extras depending on your route.

If I had one minor quibble is that some of the Trophy requirements are a little obscure and grindy, but it's nothing TOO bad now that guides should be available for the game online.
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Gendo wrote: Mon Oct 02, 2023 5:51 pm I played these through once about 16 years ago, on emulator. Was thinking about playing again with my wife now that they're available on the Switch. But that would require actually doing anything other than Tears of the Kingdom.
So are you going to play the Oracle games now that you're done with TOTK?
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Not immediately; since we have a pretty big backlog of both Switch games owned and not played and movies owned and not watched.
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Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra (2006) - Finally got around to playing this to round out the Xenosaga trilogy and its pretty great. The story wraps up pretty strongly and I have to say I was getting a bit teary at the end. I like how the emphasis was largely put back onto Shion and KOS-MOS (And related characters) after XS2 kinda left them out to dry a bit- sure arguably some of the party members like Ziggy don't get quite as much going as other characters but eh its fine.

I have to admit I do think the start of the story here is a bit shaky. XS2's story (After a prologue sequence set in the past) picks up more or less immediately after XS1 ended. XS3 on the other hand has something of a timeskip after XS2 that seems to involve Shion leaving Vector (The company she worked for in the first two games) and something about terrorism incidents. I didn't completely understand this material and its probably the most obvious example of production issues that have plagued Xenosaga as a whole from the beginning. Still things settle pretty quickly and the story kicks off towards the conclusion of the trilogy with quite a few cool twists and turns along the way. KOS-MOS turning out to house the soul of Mary Magdalene was a pretty WTF twist but I thought it was cool, and the whole (Fake?) time travel arc was a pretty unexpected direction to me but lead to some cool scenes. The ending was fairly bittersweet IMO- not just because various characters died though Jin going back to save KOS-MOS and chaos did make me wonder if he wasn't just throwing his life away, but also just being done with a series of games I've very much enjoyed up until this point.

I've enjoyed the stories to all these games, but I think XS3 has the best gameplay and largely because it drops the combo system that has plreagued this "franchise" since Xenogears. I think combos in Gears, XS1, and XS2 really just kinda dragged things out so dropping that while keeping the cool stuff like turn manipulation, a revamped Break system, and just generally faster summons (Until endgame where after beating superbosses you get the hilariously OP combination of the Erde Kaiser Sigma summon plus an accessory that reduces all Ether costs to just 1 MP. It was only at this point that I started using the speedup feature of my emulator, whereas I was much more liberal in using that for XS1 and XS2), it leaves you with a basic but snappy and quick battle system. Additionally the mecha combat is better too- I think these games had a neat idea with Fuel or whatever they call it here being what determines how many actions your mech can take during a turn, which is helpful since you're often fighting more enemies at once during a mech battle than when you're outside of them. Easily the best playing Xeno of any of the pre-Blade games IMHO. I really hope they do some kind of HD release or something of these games down the line because I'd absolutely play through this trilogy again.

It's honestly kind of a weird feeling to be all caught up on the Xeno franchise now, at least as far as the main games are concerned (There are still some weird side games that I don't think are translated into English yet, with the most notable being a combined remake of 1 and 2 on the Nintendo DS of all systems) that I'd like to play someday though I won't hold my breath). I first started Xenogears back in like 2012 (But didn't finish until 2014ish for various reasons), and now 11 years later I've gone through all these games. There have been ups and downs and a certainly a lot of jank (XS3 seemed to have the least of any of these games I think, curiously), but I've had a blast for the most part.

My final Xeno tier list:

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Individual placements on lower tiers might change with some more thought (Might swap Future Connected and XS2, and maybe XB1 and XB3), but tier placements themselves I think are more or less settled.
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Super Mario 3D Land (2011) - Not a whole lot to say about this one but I really liked it over all. I thought it was a nice twist on the Mario formula to combine the linearity of the classic 2D games with the 3D movement of Super Mario 64 and the like. It lead to just really solid gameplay and it was a nice touch that you were often alternating between SMB1-style castles or SMB3-style Airships at the end of Worlds. Probably one of the best games on the 3DS tbh.

Though the fact that its on the 3DS at all is my only complaint about the game. I constantly found myself wishing I could use my Switch Pro Controller on this game, because sometimes this was slightly clunky to play in that way action-heavy games on the 3DS can get, especially if you've been playing for a while and your hands start getting a little uncomfortable or sweaty. I lost quite a few lives on the last few Bowser levels because of this.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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You gonna play Wonder and/or Mario RPG?
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Wonder I'm waiting on for a bit since I heard it was kind of unusual for a Mario platformer and I have so many NSBM games and such left that apparently can get a bit samey. Wonder might be necessary to break the monotony of those games up a bit.

SMRPG Remake I'll play here pretty soon since I loved the SNES game as a child, and I'd been wondering for a long time now if it holds up anyways even before this new version was announced.
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Fire Emblem Engage (2023) - A little late to this since it was a January release but I finally got around to playing the new FE. I was a little skeptical going in since the last FE game I played was Three Houses which I really wasn't a huge fan of, though I'm pleased to say I really enjoyed Engage. The big thing that makes Engage work for me is that in terms of broader scope its scaled down more to something like the GBA or early 3DS games were doing. There's no huge route splits that leave parts of the game feeling undercooked, the gameplay and story pacing isn't constantly interrupted by returning to a Monastery equivalent etc. Sure Engage has the Somniel which is similar to the Monastery in that it has some light social sim stuff, but its not nearly to extent Three Houses did AND you don't HAVE to constantly be going there. There are even chapters of the game where you're cut off from the Somniel entirely.

The gameplay here is just really solid too with some solid map design. You're not just dealing with open fields or anything like some of the other FE games of the last 10ish years, and the game doles at units to you at a pretty good pace (Even if very few of them come from Paralogues unlike past games). I really liked how the game brought back past FE characters in the form of "Rings" that grant your own units increased stats and some special abilities. It was a cool way to swap abilities like, say, Warp Ragnarok between different units and create general "builds" for them. This is also leads to some cool integration of story and gameplay in Chapter 11 where not only are all your Rings that you've likely been relying on up until then stolen and used against you, but even your item that lets you reset your turns is taken for about half the stage too. This is a generally neat level where you have to escape against overpowered enemies instead of just routing the enemies, and its nice to see occasional different objective like this in the game.

I do kind of wish I had played this game on Hard Classic instead of Normal Classic, because I do think Normal got a bit easy by the endgame (And honestly there were only a few times in the game where I really had to puzzle out how to kill a boss in a single turn or whatever. BTW its cool how bosses in this game ALL have segmented health bars similar to a game like Fate/Grand Order, which adds to the strategy of how to take them out quickly). Definitely want to replay this at some point in the future.

A lot of people seem to really hate the story and I don't get it. It's pretty by the numbers FE plot (Spoiler alert there's an evil dragon causing ruckus you have to go stop) but its done well enough IMO and I thought the general characters were charming enough. There are people going as far as claiming Engage is supposed to be a parody or satire of FE stories and I just really don't see it at all. People seem mixed on the character designs too- I generally liked them and while Alear's red and blue hair took some time to grow on me and I ended up appreciating how distinct it is.

This was probably my favorite FE game overall and honestly might be my favorite Nintendo game of 2023. TotK was very good too though.
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Playing Super Mario RPG now and having a nostalgia blast but man even like 25 years later and with the addition of button prompts I can't beat Boshi in this stupid race.
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F-Zero 99 (2023)
F-Zero (1990) - Took a quick break from SMRPG to try F-Zero between the recent massive multiplayer online version and the original SNES game and yeeeeaaaaahhhhh this really doesn't seem to be my thing. I don't have much experience with this franchise beyond trying a demo for the GameCube version back in the day, but on both of these I really just don't like how loose and bumpy everything feels. Managing the energy of the cars AND having to get past a certain ranking threshold to continue in the racing are theoretically interesting mechanics but it just really doesn't click with me for whatever reason.

Might try the N64 version at some point later on for since its on NSO and to see if anything is fundamentally different.
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Super Mario RPG (2023) - Had a blast (re)visiting this, though as nostalgic as I found this experience to be it kind of confirms for me that SNES-era Square is something I'm kind of okay with leaving behind more or less. Still I think the simplicity of the game works for something that's trying to be "babby's first RPG" more or less (It was certainly one of the first ones I played on the SNES as young child!) I don't think I had realized before just how barebones the story is and how short the game is, even for the era. I beat this puppy in 10 and a half hours including Culex, though I didn't touch any of the postgame stuff they added for this remake. I mean I still find the whole thing charming, but I can't tell how much that is nostalgia at this point. So much of what I like about JRPG's is character interactions and such and while characters here are more expressive than like, casts of FF6 or Chrono Trigger (Even in SNES version!) its still hardly like super developed cast. Even after having just beaten the game again I'm not sure I could tell you if Mallow has any direct dialogue with Peach or Bowser.

Still I liked the changes to the gameplay here. Adding AOE effect to timed hits was a cool touch, and the Triple Moves were cool. I like the addition of Special Enemies while grinding through normal enemies too, which changed things up a bit. The new renditions of Yoko Shimomura's music were very nice too.

I do wish some of the platforming and minigames and such later on were made a little easier. Like I mentioned the Boshi race before and seriously wtf is that nonsense? Some of the platforming stuff in Bowser's Keep at the end is a little clunky too. Not so bad that it seriously impedes progress or anything but its noticeable, and kind of gave me flashbacks to Xenogears platforming at times.

Last thing to note is that this remake was directed by a woman, Ayako Moriwaki. It's cool to see more women in the industry. Apparently she was co-director on Pikmin 4 as well, with this being her first solo project.
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Kingdom Hearts II: Nobody May Cry (Alpha Release, 2023) - This is pretty cool. It's a mod for the PS2 version of "Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix" that completely overhauls the game, with the basic idea of combining KH2FM with Devil May Cry-like gameplay. And man even for an Alpha, I was surprised by just how much has changed here. Roxas is the sole playable character here (While the story of this mod is pretty thin, the basic premise is that Roxas escapes the digital Twilight Town unlike the real game and goes on a revenge tour against Organization XIII), and his moveset is completely revamped. He has spells now, can use Reversal whenever he wants (As long as he has MP since it counts as a spell), has his own unique Drive Forms etc. I thought this mod dropping party members was kind of a weird choice at first but Roxas is so overpowered now I think this mod is honestly easier than base game KH2FM.

The game also added in new enemies and bosses too, remixed some more basic encounters (Having Setzer, Seifer, and Vivi jump you in an alleyway during the "Seven Wonders of Twilight Town" segment was a particularly inspired choice. I guess they want revenge on you for winning the Struggle tournament? Also, btw its nice now that winning the tournament also gives you both the Medal and the Champion's Belt, whereas before you would only the former by losing and the latter by winning despite the Medal's +1 Strength honestly being the more useful reward for a decent chunk of the game), and even a whole new world by replacing Atlantica with Traverse Town from KH1! I gotta say I've never expected to see mods this extensive for a game like KH2FM. Like usually when I think of heavily modded games its like, PC versions of Bethesda games and such but not really console games from this period.

I have a few minor complaints. The first major one is that the game crashed a decent amount for me, which was unfortunate. The second is that you have to run the mod through PCSX2, since the in-game music has to be run through a separate program. It's a little bit of a bummer you can't quite burn the game to a DVD and run it on a proper PS2 as a result. The emulator that gets packed in with the mod too is set to Save State like every time you enter a new area too, which sometimes made Roxas run on his own or in a circle or whatever for some reason which could get a bit annoying.

Probably my biggest issue though is that some bosses were nerfed and probably didn't need to be. Like Oogie Boogie was a tough fight on low level Critical runs, but not like impossible and Nobody May Cry Roxas is also just stronger than Sora ever was on top of that. I feel like he could have been left as is. Some of the Pride Lands bosses are killed in literally just one hit too which is kinda strange.

Very cool mod overall though, and I can't wait to see what updates to this look like in the future, to say nothing of how opened up the world of modding KH2FM is now.

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Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (1999) - The interquel set between the two halves of Genealogy of the Holy War and the last game Nintendo themselves published on a cartridge for the Super Famicom.

Before getting into the game I have to emphasize how I weird I think it is a SNES/SFC game was coming out in 1999. That's several years into the N64's lifestyle. Like to put it into perspective, other games that came out the same year as Thracia 776 include:
  • Silent Hill
    Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
    Final Fantasy VIII
    Superman 64 (lol)
    Donkey Kong 64
    Super Smash Bros.
    Shenmue
etc. To say nothing of titles like Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2, and Xenogears being released the year before. The year before that was Final Fantasy VII. So putting out a SNES this late at all (Two years before the GameCube launched!) is uh, an interesting choice. Shenmue is a particularly interesting contrast since that game is looking so far into the future to what the open world games we have now would be like, while an anachronism like Thracia kinda seems like a ghost from the past popping up.

Luckily Thracia is a pretty cool Fire Emblem game. In this game your main Lord is Leif, who in Genealogy was just a regular unit. In early game Thracia meanwhile, he still feels just like a regular unit and it takes a pretty large chunk of the game to actually feel like a Lord in any other game of the seires. This mirrors his actual character arc too, feeling far outmatched and in over his head by the forces you're up against.

That kinda sets the tone here because for the first half or so of this game you and your army are mightly underpowered. I'm struggling to think of many other RPGs, Strategy or otherwise, where its this pronounced. The early game throws just a lot of tough bullshit out at you (And once you get to mid-game, you start getting tons of damn ballistae firing at you, enemies with annoying magic that cause rough status effects etc., and it doesn't really let up) and it will be a good long while before your ragtag band of misfits not only feel like an army but an actual legitimate contender against the enemies you're fighting against. Before that though, you really are expected to pull out absolutely anything you can not only to just survive the early game but build up your forces here. Other Fire Emblem games give you drops from enemies and you can easily buy good stuff from Stores. The Stores in Thracia meanwhile mostly suck, so a lot of your weapons are coming from "Capturing" enemies, which is the key mechanic of the early game here. I cannot stress how important it is to get some good weapons early on because wow.

Mechanically this game does other things to fuck with you, like Healers being able to MISS, this game introducing a "Fatigue" system that, after a certain point, prevents you from using your best units for too many chapters in a row, tons of arcane secrets like in Dark Souls (At least most Dark Souls secrets aren't truly missable. Here I got particularly screwed when I missed a unit that was required to unlock Chapter 24x) etc. And of course, there's the classic FE mechanic of permadeath for your units. It's a rough time, but it fits what the game is doing and you can still strategize your way through the game. And eventually you can build your army up to start doing goofy bullshit of your own through like through Warp Staff abuse and such, the Thief Staff which seems to lead to some hilarious shenanigans. It feels really empowering compared to the early game when you're stuck trying to break out of a prison for several chapters and such in long drawn out segments (One of these prison chapters even has Fog of War effect, which is particularly rough in Thracia).

I'm of course far from first to point this out, but its honestly cool how the game mechanics here are use to create tone and mood and such. You know Leif is struggling because you're struggling yourself through clearing these chapters of the game. Genealogy had a similar idea going too, but I do think its more effective here since Thracia chapters aren't like a million years long.

Still as good as the game is, you kinda have to be in a masochistic mood to go through this whole thing. If you just a fun strategy game, something like FE7 or Engage are probably better to just pick up and play. But Thracia is cool experience in its own right, even if very frustrating at times.
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Tales of Arise: Beyond the Dawn (2023) - This is a weirdly timed DLC for Tales of Arise, which came out over two years ago at this point. Arise was a game I enjoyed enough as I was playing it, but it really hasn't had as very much staying power with me in the few years since I beat it. Even taking that in account though, I'm not sure why this took as long to come out as it did. It not only seems like Arise's popularity has faded a bit, but this DLC reuses so much from the base game that it's hard to feel there's two years of effort put into here. Like there are no new playable characters or attacks or anything that make it play any differently than the base game did, and there's few in the way of new regular enemies and bosses either. There's some new dungeons I guess, but nothing to write home about.

I guess there is a fair amount of additional side quests and accompanying voice acting here, but most of the side quests are fairly quick. I do generally like the angle of the side-quests here too, where most of them deal with the fallout of the Dahnans and Renans trying to live together in a new world and the tensions that arise. This help keeps the main story feeling somewhat plausible too- the party of the base game befriending a young girl named Nazamil, a daughter of a former Lord and part Dahnan AND part Renan who feels rejected by both groups and how she kinda spirals out of control from that. It's a decent premise even buried in here, though it would be nice if it came from a DLC that felt more unique as a whole.

Last thing to mention is this DLC cost $30 which is just too much for what it is. It's hard not to compare this to something like Xenoblade 3's Future Redeemed DLC which cost the same but was an entirely unique experience, or Resident Evil 4 Remake's Separate Ways which was only ten bucks and generally more transformative than something like Beyond the Dawn was.
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This was my last game(s) of 2023.

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.hack//G.U. Vol. 1//Rebirth (2006)
.hack//G.U. Vol. 2//Reminisce (2006)
.hack//G.U. Vol. 3//Redemption (2007)
.hack//G.U. Vol. 4//Reconnection (2017) - This is a collection of HD ports of PS2 JRPG's I've been playing on and off over the years. Some people might know the basic premise of the .hack franchise from older anime series that were once popular, but the franchise revolves around players of an MMORPG known as "The World" (These particular games focus on a version called "Revision 2") that strange things seem to happen to too, from getting trapped in the game, to meet sentient AI within the game, to players falling into comas in the "real" world after having strange encounters in The World. It's an intentionally convoluted and somewhat obscurantist franchise with anime, manga, light novel, and video game entries all of which contribute to overarching story some way or another.

The G.U. PS2 trilogy were the second set of JRPG's made. They're a followup to the anime .hack//Roots, and both that anime and these games revolve around a player of "The World" called Haseo, whose friend/crush Shino falls into a coma after encounter a mysterious "Player Killer" (PKer) called Tri-Edge. Haseo vows revenge on this Tri-Edge, and while Roots anime shows the beginning of his quest and his initial moral degradation, the G.U. games has his journey pick up in full and put as much emphasis on him slowly growing out of being a jackass and the world's edgiest boy, and instead meeting other people and slowly realizing he does not want to be anti-social misanthrope as it does the mystery of killer video games and such.

I really like how the games fully commit to the MMO conceit too, since you're not just playing through levels, but you actually have to "log in" to the game through a desktop. On top of that, your character receives e-mails, can check a news website (Which provides lore larger world of the series), can check and post on an internet forum(!!!!!!!!!), has Friend's List etc. Internet forums culture is largely deader than dead at this point, sadly, but its nice to see stuff like this sort of preserve it as a time capsule as sort.

Even when you're logging into the actual MMO itself, its nice that there's focus on different servers, plenty of other "Players" running around etc. Still as much as I like the general story and characters and the way the gameplay itself is framed, the actual gameplay kind of sucks. It's very basic action RPG material that's very easy, very mindless, and very grindy. You basically only need to use physical attacks to clear the game and considering how this re-rerelease gives you more EXP than the original game did, you'll pretty quickly overpower any enemies you run into as long as you occasional fight random trash mob (BTW its worth mentioning your level and items and such carries between Volumes) And the way the game is designed where each outing into a field gives you a rank based on criteria like killing all enemies and such (And there are Trophies tied to this too), there's little reason to prevent you from just powering through everything.

On top of that, there's very few times where you just won't want to attack enemies asap. Like I think its only in the Forest of Pain bonus dungeon (Which is in the post-game of Volume 3!!!!) that you'll run into some enemies that are like, immune to physical attacks and you actually have to use magic to damage them or build up your Beast Awakening gauge at least or whatever. They really could have built more strategy into the battle system here, because we end up with something that doesn't even rise to level of average Tales combat system of like 2006.

I spent something like 110 hours between all 4 volumes to get the Platinum Trophy, and as much as I like everything else here this combat system just couldn't really support that. Things get a little better and more fun at least in the tail end of Volume 3 when Haseo gets access to his Dual Gunner class, but that really should have been introduced way sooner. I should mention I still think G.U.'s combat is a step-up from the previous set of .hack JRPG's, the IMOQ games, but still that's a low bar to pass.

The last thing to mention here is that this collection introduces a new Volume 4, which is a short little epilogue thing that's only a few hours long. The basic premise is that The World R:2 is shutting down on New Year's Day 2018 (I beat this on December 30th myself which was fitting), but Haseo has to jump back into the game to save a friend whose soul has become trapped inside of it. It's cool conceit and there's something to be said for exploring the end of online services and communities like this. I also the new character this volume introduces that keeps mistaking characters for Haseo. There's also a new animation style for the cutscenes here with a weird low FPS aesthetic that I personally enjoyed, but some online seem to not like. I thought it kinda reflected how The World was glitching out and not function properly as it was getting prepared to be shut down.

I sped through this really fast though since I reached max level in Volume 3 and while there are gameplay changes here I was too overpowered to really get a feel for how they're supposed to play. It was still a nice goodbye to the characters and I think it ties a bow on the whole experience in a way Volume 3's ending didn't quite hit for me.

I enjoyed the games overall, but I wish the actual gameplay part was better. This franchise seems more or less dead at this point, but I really hope someone inspired by the MMO conceit here or in the IMOQ games and such comes along one day and reuses the concepts to make something really cool. There's a lot to be mined out of online gaming and forums culture and such as a setting IMHO.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (1996) - I don't really understand why this has such a different reputation than DKC2. Like yes I think the boss fights are worse than that game's but on average the levels seem more or less the same to me. Like my biggest complaint about DKC3 is that a lot of the bigger flaws of DKC2 are repeated here- over-reliance on gimmicks like animal buddy levels (Rocket level in secret world is a low point in the series IMHO), some wonky hitboxes, occasional random difficulty spike etc. I don't think they're as bad here as in DKC2, but its noticeable. Like I only really enjoyed the first few batches of levels here.

Idk. DKC1 is really the only one of these games that holds up for me tbh.
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Survivor: Castaway Island (2023) - Yet another Survivor game. I actually started this a few months ago but only just now got around to actually beating it.

It's tough tbh, and a frustrating game overall. One one hand its way truer to Survivor than something like the Wii game is, as the actual game tries to incorporate social dynamics into the gameplae to build y. You actually havrelationships and manage them with other contestants! Alliances are a thing! People will target you if they don't like you! Hidden Immunity Idols are a thing and if you don't find one someone else will!

And that's all good on paper, but in execution its kinda janky. The AI is limited enough that you basically have to do everything in the game yourself. People mostly only react to YOU and what you do, and boy do people get pissed off super easily at you. Like you will harm your social standing if you don't grab enough firewood or other supplies in the day, but if other castaways don't even bother to get anything that's totally fine lol. You'll get a lot of random dialogue options when talking to people too and its often not only not clear what the option is meant to say, but on top of that people can get extremely negative reactions to what you said for very arbitrary reasons.

Which I guess is true to real life social politics to an extent, but alkis it frustrating here.

The thing is that you can't just talk to people or just gather supplies. In between challenges you have on island sections with two primary resources: time and stamina. You have 100 stamina throughout the game and these island sections are 15 minutes.

Talking to people takes up time. So if you choose to "chit-chat" with someone to build up your relationship with them, that usually takes a minute off of your clock. That's all well and good, except if you just ignore people on a day they get pissed at you and your relationship will deteriorate with them.

Which is fine except damn near everything else you do in this game costs stamina. Simply running a challenge loses you 7 stamina points. Not having a fire running at night costs you 7 stamina points, but to start one it also costs you 7 stamina points and five pieces of fire wood.

Collecting a single piece of fire wood costs you 2 stamina points (Unless you get lucky and get two drops of firewood from a single one, which does occasionally happen). To keep the firewood going though costs you 7 pieces of wood.

You also need water. If everyone on your tribe doesn't get at least a single drink of water, you lose stamina. At max you have a six person tribe, except at the merge vote where you have 7. Collecting a single thing of water costs two stamina.

Also you need to fucking eat too! And not being well fed will drain you an extra 7 stamina in the morning. And personally I found actually getting food to not be worth the effort. Hunting fish is really janky, and while you can also drop coconuts from trees I found it to just not work half the time. So you're better off gathering firewood and/or water, and hoping you can win Reward Challenges

Sure while sometimes at the end of the day other castaways will bring firewood or food or water which can help alleviate things slightly, its still not nearly enough to keep things going on their own. If you don't gather at least 8 items between firewood, water, and food you lose relationship points with your whole tribe. So you're constantly spending stamina to do shit just please these jackoffs, but there's always threat of running out of stamina and getting medevaced from the game. Sometimes you get put back in with a warning like "Lol if this happens again you're done" but other times I've just straight up lost from getting medevaced.

Now what you can do is go to sleep to restore stamina (More time on the clock = more stamina restored), but this means not spending time talking to people or doing island chores which means they get pissed at you too. And you're likely to run into this problem if you play the hard mode season Brains vs. Brawns. It's delicate balance you have to straddle between managing time, stamina, and of course social relationships themselves. This comparison isn't going to mean anything to people here, but you basically have to play like you're Redemption Island-era Boston Rob with a tight grip over everybody, while also massaging their ego's constantly AND being camp provider like Richard Hatch. If you just try and play it like new school season where everybody is theoretically trying to play with their own best interests toward winning in mind, screw everyone else, you're gonna have a rough time.

And this is all assuming btw you don't get automatically booting for losing the Merge challenge. Seriously fuck this aspect of the game. In the real show there's a vote at the Merge, here for some reason if lose the challenge you're just automatically kicked out and it sucks. And these challenges are super janky too- while some of them are pathetically easy some are incredibly hard and if you happen to get challenge you suck at it, whelp. I honestly think the Wii Survivor game might have better challenges than this one.

If you can get past the Merge nonsense though and built up relationships enough in the pre-Merge, you can more or less order your tribemates who to vote for and basically Godfather your way to the end and win. I do think its a bit sad how at Tribal Councils and ESPECIALLY at Final Tribal Council only voting takes place. There are no questions to answer or confrontations with other players. No having to answer for your actions. No having to force a metaphor to appease the producers. It's very obvious missing element that keeps the whole thing from feeling as much like Survivor as it could.

There's also a lot of jank in this game too. Twice I had some kind of glitch while accidentally trying to pause the game while opening the map or something, which froze all the characters and made me had to lose an entire day's worth of stuff just to progress the season. The presentation is just generally weak too- visually meh, no voice acting whatsover (They couldn't get Jeff Probst to read some lines?), uglyish character models etciAnother thing at Final Tribal is that even when I've masterminded my way to sitting next to somebody who, according to the in-game relationship charts, is somebody that EVERYONE ELSE HATES they can still get more votes than you and I'm not quite sure why. Even on seasons I wo it was only 4-2 both times and I don't even know who voted against me winning and why.

A lot of the actutal writing reads very strangely too. It turns out because this is a stripped down version of a FRENCH game made for a foreign version of Survivor. Apparently they cut out a lot of features from that for this American release too which is just baffling.

I did enjoy my time with this game overall and I do think there's skeleton of a good game here, but its just very rough around the edges. There's skeleton of a good Survivor game buried in here, but its hard to recommend this to anyone but really obsessed people. Which I happen to be, I played this enough to get every single Trophy in the game, which it seems few have done. Lol at this game not even having a Platinum.

Big shoutout to this video below btw, which is what helped me realize how to actually win a season here.


^The segment from 17:30 to 27:00 was huge for me. Don't think I could have realized the importance of constant "chit-chatting" without it. I spent a lot of time looking for resources for this game online and this was only one that was actually helpful.
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Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road (2020) - This is a KH mobile game that is ostensibly is a sequel to another KH mobile game, Union ?. They're technically a part of the same download (Well Union ? has been reduced to just its cutscenes at this point) but they're basically separate games. Dark Road has you playing as Xehanort, the main villain of the series, as a young man.

Seeing most of his backstory and watching all of his buddies get iced was kinda neat (And I also like seeing Xehanort tied a little more strongly to the Disney worlds), but the gameplay here is just kinda bad. Its mostly deck building stuff similar to Union ?, but if you actually play the combat yourself its just pretty middling turn based combat. There's no reason to do this though, since you can auto-battle your way through damn near the entire thing. You're even expected to this, since if you're not doing main quests you're expected to run "World Battles" which are just endless waves on enemies. Killing enemies gives you points which you use for either level ups or to buy stuff for your deck. Really, the best strategy is to just run these World Battles while you sleep over the course of a week or so. Its kinda silly that is designed that way tbh. I know this had online components originally and maybe the game was more sensible then, but by time I got around to really playing Dark Road, it was reduced to a purely solo offline game so idk.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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DKC3 was a fixture of my childhood for some weird reason. I really liked it, while I didn't care about the first one much and I never played the second. I replayed it on the Switch recently and IMO it has some fantastic music and great atmosphere and level design. Also the graphics seem like they were pretty great for a game released in 1996.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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DA still exists!
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Derived Absurdity wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 2:34 pm DKC3 was a fixture of my childhood for some weird reason. I really liked it, while I didn't care about the first one much and I never played the second. I replayed it on the Switch recently and IMO it has some fantastic music and great atmosphere and level design. Also the graphics seem like they were pretty great for a game released in 1996.
I like the music and atmosphere, and yeah the graphics are quite good for 1996, but the rest idk. A lot of the game just feels very finnicky to me now.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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Gendo wrote: Thu Jan 11, 2024 2:47 pmDA still exists!
I guess DKC3 brought me out of my shell, idk.

Idk if I'm going to post about movies again. There's a lot of movies I want to talk about but that sounds like a lot of work.
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I know that feeling and I still never got back to regular movie posting myself, though perhaps it helps to go through just one movie at a time with these things. It's not like discussion here is exactly rampant these days lol.
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Maybe. I went through a Pixar marathon earlier last year intending to say some stuff about all of their movies here, but in the end I just decided not to. Knowing your thoughts will only be read by about two or three people max is an effective demoralizer, I guess.

I also miss talking about politics here. That was fun.
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Re: Rax/Maz/Jimbo 2021 Games Thread

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While I always like seeing responses to my movie reviews, I’d do these write-ups even if I never got any at all. It’s a nice way to both track what I watch each year, and be able to come back to movies I saw a while ago and remember when I saw it and what my thoughts were.
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Silent Hill: The Short Message (2024) - A new Silent Hill game stealth dropped for free yesterday and its pretty blah. The only other modern SH game I've played is P.T. (Which will be a decade old this year anyways), and while I've known people have hated most SH games except for that and the original trilogy I thought I would give The Short Message a go. Like I said it was free and I figured it would only take a few hours of my time at most.

Unfortunately I found this kinda bad. I've seen people online derisively call this an anti-suicide PSA and that's really what it feels like to me. The story is about a teen girl who has ~trauma~ from the death of her friend. She somehow forgets her friend died though, and then after receiving a ~mysterious text message~ from the dead friend she enters a spooky apartment building, only to find herself trapped inside, haunted by a spooky flower monster, and uh time looping apparently.

The basic story is just fusion of Silent Hill 2 and P.T. (The dead messenger stuff being from SH2, and the time looping in an apartment coming from P.T.) while not being nearly as good as either (That this is coming out right before SH2 Remake is supposed to release is kinda funny, come to think of it. Reminds me of RE8 aping RE4 so hard shortly before RE4 Remake was a thing). The teen suicide, "social media and cyber bullying are baaaaaad!" stuff is just super on the nose and far from the cerebral qualities I enjoyed about the other games in the series I played. If this stuff happens to hit other people just right then well okay. For me it just felt too on the nose.

The gameplay is in first person perspective but there's no active combat. There's some slight puzzle elements which I think are fine, but instead of action this is one of those games where you're just running from a monster and if you get caught you instantly die. There are several of these sections where you get chased through a maze by this flower monster thing and its just kinda frustrating since all the different areas look very similar visually, especially while you're running. This gameplay is at its absolute worst in the final maze section where you have to find five photographs to unlock a door, and ugh. It gets too easy to get lost and I swear the monster teleports around. I think it would have been better if upon death you didn't have to refind the photos but nope, those get reset too. That normally would make sense in a survival horror game but with the time loop premise here where when you "die" you just go back a bit, I think it would have been fine here. It's just very frustrating segment for something only barely more interactive than a walking simulator.

I still have hopes for SH2 Remake and Ryukishi07's Silent Hill f, but The Short Message has me concerned about how both of these might turn out. Especially SHf, since The Short Message writer was someone named Kiichi Kanoh, who it seems worked on Higurashi, albeit the "Extra Arcs" that I have not played myself.
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