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Thursday, February 23, 2017

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST...

Some of you might remember waaaaay back FIVE YEARS AGO...
... I played Phantasy Star IV for the Year of Retro Gaming. And I liked it. A lot. It was probably my most pleasant surprise in the entire Mega Drive library. I had no idea Sega's machine had a genuinely great R.P.G... I got about half-way through the game and then shelved it so that I could move on to the next week's games. (Playing R.P.G.s takes a lot of time, y'know...)
Well, it's taken a long time, but I finished it yesterday! (Woohoo!) I started the game from scratch. Look, as R.P.G.s go, it's not a super-long game. I've seen it estimated at 25-30 hours. But it's a good length.
 
 
I love the manga-inspired cutscenes. I don't think there was anything else like that in other 16-bit R.P.G.s, and it really makes the game stand out. The story is good, although it does change its direction a bit. The opening hours of the game felt really quite refreshing to me, taking the characters into situations I'd rarely seen. But by the end it does move more into the "destroy the ultimate darkness" cliches, and I must admit my interest in the plot waned towards the end.
The battle system is perfectly fine, but for 95% of the game, I found spamming the "Everybody Attack" macro worked fine, with very little reason to experiment with all of the different skills and techniques.
As I said in the video, the naming of all of these skills is ridiculous. I would hope if this ever got a remake they would give them proper names. Every spell and ability in the game looks like it's being presented in a foreign language, and you're supposed to memorise them all. Did my head in!
But all up, it's a really good 16-bit game. Recommended! :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

THE ARTISTRY OF ZELDA

I am loving the pants off Mark Brown's Zelda videos on YouTube. If you want a THOROUGH investigation on how Nintendo builds the dungeons in Zelda games, watch his "Boss Keys" vids. They are brilliant. This is his latest investigation, looking at what makes the very original Legend of Zelda great.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A DECENT N.E.S. LIBRARY!

So I'm sure many of you have heard that recently, some clever cookies figured out how to hack the OS in the N.E.S. Mini so that it can hold more than 30 games. I can happily tell you that yes, it works. :-)

As awesome as the N.E.S. Mini is, I had two complaints: the stupidly short controller cords and the fact that it only came with 30 games, and according to Nintendo that's all it was ever going to have. Well, sucks to be them!


What do you think of the upcoming Switch console? I've got one pre-ordered, but it's really only for Zelda. I can definitely see why it was moved over to be a Switch game; without it, the launch lineup would be the worst in gaming history! I was actually shocked and really disappointed at the lack of games revealed in the recent presentation. Nintendo has so many teams previously working on 3DS and WiiU games... and heaven knows, there's barely been any of THEM in the past year! So where are the games?? I was hoping for a schedule with a major release every month of the year from March onwards, but at the moment I'm looking like getting Zelda, the Mario Kart update (if that even counts) and Mario Odyssey... but that's not even out until Christmas! I'm crossing everything there's a bunch of aces hidden away that are going to be revealed any day now... I pre-ordered the Neon colour scheme... Still not sure what I think about it... I mean, it's good to have the left and right Joycons easily recognisable by colour... but I don't know how I'm going to cope with the asymmetrical look...


Some other games I've been playing... After loving the re-imagining of A Boy and his Blob, I'm now immersed in another remake that I'd passed by initially... King's Quest! And it's magnificent!


I'm currently in the middle of Chapter 3, and I'm finding it so, so charming and well-written. And while there are some very cute nods to the old games, the creators haven't been afraid to make this its own thing. Graham is a lot more clutzy than he ever used to be... he's quite a bit more Roger Wilco-ish now. But that's fine with me, I always loved Space Quest! Awwwwwww, imagine if Sierra let The Odd Gentlemen have Space Quest! That would be so brilliant! Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this series if you enjoy a fun fairy-tale adventure game with great storytelling.

The other day I finished The Last Guardian. It's such a bizarre game to look back on. The controls are sloppy. The camera system is TERRIBLE. The puzzles are constantly rudimentary. (Flick a switch, open the gate, flick another switch, open another gate...) The frame-rate sometimes grinds to a halt. BUT! There's Trico.


Oh, I love him. Look at his face! He's so beautiful! I want a real one, and I will cuddle it and climb all over it all day! I was mesmerised by this creature throughout the entire game, and I never for a second doubted that he was a living, breathing animal with feelings. The fact that this digital creature achieves a connection with the player that I don't think has ever been so strong in a video game before, makes all of the game's other shortcomings a lot less important. It is far from a perfect game, but I would recommend that EVERYBODY play it if you have the opportunity!

A couple of days ago I played an entire game in a day! The brand new Shantae game, Half-Genie Hero. It's the fourth in the series, and it's another triumph for WayForward, who are one of my favourite current developers.


It's a lot more straightforward than the fantastic "Pirate's Curse" game that was released a couple of years back. The levels are very linear, although there is a fair amount of back-tracking required once you gain new abilities. I didn't really find any of Half-Genie Hero very challenging, but I didn't mind. The game is so enjoyable, it's fun just playing the levels. And the new hand-drawn graphics are so pretty. I was expecting to pine for long-lost pixel-art, but I didn't at all. It's a beautiful game. Great sense of humour too! When deciding which machine to buy it on, I discovered that it was $7 cheaper on WiiU than the PS4. Which was fine, because I feel like Shantae is more at home on a Nintendo console anyway.

Summer holidays are almost over. :( I'll be heading back to work soon.
I do actually have a few videos planned for later in the year, but they won't happen until I have my new house, and that could be as late as December, so we'll wait and see. Stay cool! :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A BOY & HIS BLOB!

I have to admit, I was keen to try out WayForward's remake of "A Boy And His Blob" back when it was released for the Wii in 2009. But for whatever reason(s) - I think I was usually playing too many other games - I never ended up buying it.

Now, in December 2016, as I gaze over the (admittedly pretty awesome) sales in the PSN, I see the game has been released for PS4, and it's on special! So I buy it.

And oh wow, this game is adorable!! Not only are the hand-drawn graphics absolutely beautiful (even though they are a bit low-res... you can tell this is a Wii game, and it hasn't really been upscaled for HD) but I'm really digging the way they've adapted the gameplay of the original into something new but also familiar. I've just finished the first world (4 worlds in total, 10 levels in each) and I am hooked!

I also squeed with delight just a little bit when I first saw this location...


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

EPISODE 3 REBORN!!

Hello once again!
Here's the re-imagining of Episode 3, which highlights Tennis, Pinball, Kid Icarus and Super Mario Bros.

Even though I've remade these videos from scratch, I've made sure that I stick to my original notions back in early 2011. After playing (*cough cheating cough*) my way through all of Kid Icarus this year, I was almost tempted to say that it sits. But then I remember that if I was playing it the normal way, I'd probably still be stuck on the second or third level. So tough luck Kid Icarus, you FALL!
 

IN OTHER NEWS...
I am this close to finishing Dragon Quest VI on the DS. The game is fine. Mechanically it's as good as Dragon Quest games always are. But the story is just so, so BLAH.
D.Q.4 had that really clever concept of splitting the game up into (seemingly) unrelated "chapters" with different characters. It was novel, and I dug it. Then D.Q.5 went the opposite route and had you follow the main character throughout his entire life, from childhood all the way through to old age. Again, really original idea and well-implemented.
D.Q.6 has you travelling between a "real" world and a "dream" world. Only problem is, 90% of these worlds are the same! They have the same town names and everything! I would have thought that the dream world would at least LOOK thematically different, but no. They pretty much look exactly the same. Which makes the game very confusing.
And the double-worlds thing is its only real hook. The rest is just Regular Dragon Quest 101. Which is not BAD per se, but it's certainly disappointing after what came before.
ANYWAY.
Once D.Q.6 is done-and-dusted, I will have completed D.Q.4, 5, 6, 8 and 9. And guess what just got a 3DS release recently? That's right, D.Q.7, notoriously the longest game in the entire series... Forgive me for not leaping for joy... Bad back, you know.
In all honesty, I'm going to leave it a while before jumping into that game. I'm a bit Dragon Quested out right now.

IN MORE OTHER NEWS...
I had held off on buying the new Shantae game (1/2 Genie Hero) until the physical copy came out. Then I found out today that the physical version is for the U.S. only. Boooooo!
 

So I guess I'll just have to buy it digitally like some poor person or something. Bleugh.

IN OTHER OTHER NEWS...
It's almost the end of 2016. What a year. Following on from today's horrible news that Carrie Fisher had passed away, it's ridiculous how many celebrities have bitten the dust this year!
I listened to a guy on IGN's "Game Scoop" podcast saying that he thought 2016 was the best year for gaming in over a decade, and I almost spit my coffee out. I feel like 2016 has been a horribly disappointing year for gaming. At least for the games I play. Let's see...
 
Star Fox: A disappointment. The story was a complete retread (for the third time!) and the gameplay was borderline broken.
Disney Infinity: Ooooh, this one hurt. I feel like there are still SO many figurines that should be added to this amazing collection. I can't believe they pulled the plug just when it was finding its feet!
Street Fighter: Capcom lost me pretty much as soon as it launched. I haven't even bothered getting any of the D.L.C. characters yet. I'll wait until there's some big sale on or something. I sure as heck can't buy them with my game playing points, since you need to be a PSN member to play. Also, the game is STILL lacking an Arcade mode... Y'know, the MAIN GAME?
Final Fantasy: People are constantly saying it's a miracle that a decent game ended up releasing this year after a decade in development. Well, yeah. The game is decent. But is it a good Final Fantasy game? No. It constantly feels like the important parts of the story are happening elsewhere, and the combat is just awful. It pains me to see the FF7 remake going with such a similar-looking battle system. Add a couple of little tweaks to the old ATB system and you have a winner. FF15's combat is sloppy, messy and confusing.
Mario & Luigi: Admittedly, I feel like "Paper Jam" has the most refined and enjoyable combat system of the entire series. Too bad the story is dull, derivative and just pointless. Where's the creativity this series was known for?
Paper Mario: A renowned disappointment, though not unplayable. Just forgettable. Considering what classics the first two games were, I can't help but shake my head in disbelief at where they've taken this series.
I Am Setsuna: Was designed to be a follow-up to Chrono Trigger. It's just blah. Nice piano music though.
Ratchet & Clank: Beautiful graphics and perfectly "fine" gameplay. But it just felt like a paint-by-numbers remake. Nothing "wow" worthy or exciting, except perhaps the final boss.
Mighty No.9: Where do I even begin?? I am a MASSIVE Mega Man fan, which makes this game an even more MASSIVE let-down. Kinda breaks my heart...
Pokemon Go: The game that made the entire world go (temporarily) crazy, turns out to be actually pretty crap. I played it for a day or two and then realised that it's not a good game, and stopped. Looks like it took most people a bit more time to realise this, but it's happening...
Metroid Prime Federation Force: For the love of all that is good... This is Nintendo SPITTING into the eye of its most passionate fans. Insulting. (At least one fan managed to create a fantastic game in the Metroid 2 "AM2R" Remake - better than anything entire teams at Nintendo are doing...)

So what do all of the above games have in common? They were all 2016 disappointments. Here's hoping for a much more exciting 2017. Hopefully the Switch will add a new spark into the industry.
 I suppose this year wasn't all doom-and-gloom. There were a few games I did really enjoy...

Twilight Princess HD: One of my favourite Zelda games got an absolutely beautiful makeover. Right here in Melbourne too! Love this game to pieces! I just completed the Wolf Link Shadow Dungeon with 19.5 hearts so that my Amiibo will be ready-to-roll when Breath of the Wild launches next year!
Uncharted 4: The gunplay is still blah, but the story, the acting, the stunningly beautiful environments... Exploring the world of Uncharted is just a joy.
Pokemon Moon: It's still clutching on to too many past cruxes, but this one has definitely taken a huge step in the right direction. Really enjoyed it.
Inside: Beautiful. And messed up. To say more would be spoilers. Highly recommended. And - hooray! - a game that I can finish in just a few hours! I LOVE those games!!

Have a happy new year, everybody! Fingers crossed for a really awesome 2017!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A NEW EPISODE 2!!!

Hello out there in Blogspot Land!
Anyone there? (there...? there...? there...?)
Echo! (echo... echo... echo...)

Ah, I don't care. I've just done something I've been wanting to do for a looooong time.
I've gone all George Lucas on The Year of Retro Gaming Episode 2 and redone it!

I can sympathise with Mr. Lucas, I really can. I know some people didn't like the changes he made to the Special Editions, but I would cringe and wince every time I looked at the early episodes of my video blog. They were ameteurish and embarrassing.

So here... for your viewing pleasure, is the nice new and shiny Episode 2!


In the coming week(s) I will be giving Episode 3 the same treatment, so if you want to see it in all its horrible original glory, check it out soon before it's gone forever!

That's all I'm going to remake. Episode 4 was the Zelda episode, and while it's still pretty basic, I'm quite content with it. It's really only Episode 2 and 3 that have had be twitching with embarrassment.

In other news, I (somehow) managed to snag myself an N.E.S. Mini without pre-ordering! Which is crazy! I know that they're practically impossible to find all over the world. It's a super-cool little item, but (apart from the well-documented cord length, which is absolutely ridiculous) my only gripe is that there's no expansion port. How hard would it have been for Nintendo to release a little game card thing next year, that could be plugged into the N.E.S. Mini to unlock 30 other games? What a missed opportunity. (sigh)

Most of the games are good, but some of them seem like such wasted real estate. I could definitely do without Tecmo Bowl or Ghosts & Goblins. And why bother taking up a slot with Mario Bros. when you can play it WITHIN Super Mario 3?

People are already discussing a Super N.E.S. Mini which would be AWESOME, but 30 games would not be enough. I would find it hard to break the Super N.E.S. down to the 30 best games. We'll have to wait and see, I suppose.

Happy gaming, everyone! I doubt it will be long before I'll be back here with the remake of Episode 3! :-)

Monday, December 5, 2016

WATCH THIS SPACE...

I've started working on something...
Info to come in the next few weeks.
For now... this is the only hint I'll give you... ;-)