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I have to admit, I've played a bit of The Witness when Steve was over, and was expecting it to like it since I was a massive Braid fan, but I didn't like it much (not Steve's fault, obviously). It just wasn't my kind of game in the least. That said, some exceptions aside, I'm not really a fan of puzzle games (even LucasArts' The Dig lost a point from me due to feeling more like what I'd call a "pure" puzzle game, with a lot of the gameplay just being a vehicle for introducing you to abstract puzzles, and less like an adventure game).
I tend to associate to Greek mythology rather than Skyrim when I hear the name "Talos," too. Also, I looked it up and "talus" can mean "die" (as in the singular of dice) in Latin, but I guess that's not relevant here.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:33 pm
I don't even know if this will be a "proper" review, because there'd be so much stuff to talk about this game--stuff which has already been discussed ad nauseam by reviewers much better than me--that I don't know where I'd begin or end. But I guess it's a pretty good indication that, even though this is a relatively short game for today's standards (I spent 10 hours in it), I finished it in, what, 2 or 3 days? Yep. A very small interval for a person like me. I had to forcibly tear myself off the game so I wouldn't mess up my sleep schedule too much.
Of the things I've already mentioned here, I think the most significant thing is how the plot and the gameplay mechanics justify each other. It doesn't feel like there's a "deep story" tacked on to artificially justify a pre-existing mechanic (like, say, Portal) or that the mechanic was constructed just to deliver a pre-existing "deep story" (like Talos Principle, I'd say). Instead, both elements in this game are strong enough to work independently, and they mutually justify each other. I mean, navigating a physical manifestation of a person's mind is already cool by itself, but it allows for very imaginative, diverse and wacky level design without feeling awkward or forced at all. I seriously enjoyed the level design, and I only have a very few, relatively minor quibbles. Overall, the design choices and the creativity are spot on and top notch.
Interesting to note that this game has so many hallmarks of late 90's/early 2000's games--3D platforming, lots of things to collect, cartoony aesthetics, pre-rendered cutscenes, etc.--yet it feels very fresh and justified. Okay, maybe it's my age speaking, but only very few things about it gave me any "retro" feelings, and they were good feelings nonetheless. Okay, the platforming bother me a little, especially on the very last level before the final boss (it was pretty painful), but in general it was more fun than trouble. I feel the combination of "open world" elements and item collection wasn't 100% harmonious with the more linear storytelling; for example, at one point, I was forced to grind for arrowheads to buy the cobweb duster, which was required for progress--at least it was very fast after getting the dousing rod. Also, in the last third of the game or so, it becomes kinda tedious to go back and redeem the stuff you've collected, so it loses the point a bit. Hopefully those things can be sorted out in the sequel, but I also wish they don't abandon these mechanics just because they're "retro". Collecting stuff is fun, when it serves a purpose to the game other than player compulsion, of course.
So, overall, a summary of stuff I disliked vs. stuff I liked:
A few nasty platforming sections, especially at the very end, as mentioned.
The auto-scrolling section when fighting the lungfish.
Annoying puzzles in the Milkman section, with a bit of an awkward, tacked-on use of clairvoyance, which is very much useless afterwards.
The very irritating boss at the end of the same section.
Brilliant, clever, and overall balanced level design. I was highly compelled to figure out stuff on my own.
The great diversity of powers and ways in which they can be combined.
Plenty of collectibles (figments, cards, cobwebs, emotional baggage, vaults, etc.), which serve an actual purpose.
A storyline that's compelling and interesting, wacky in just the right amounts, with excellent sense of humour.
The characters, especially the protagonist.
Pretty much everything else.
This is certainly a game I'll replay in the future. In one hand, I lament not having played this earlier, but I do think I played it at a very appropriate time. It's always great to see old games that hold up well and not for the nostalgia factor alone. Strongly recommended if anyone here hasn't played it yet.
Also, to note, I was freaking out because Sheegor sounded so much like Pinkie Pie. Turns out it's Tara Strong doing the voice. Close enough, I guess?
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:23 am
A happy little pair of reviews for a Monday night.
Slime Rancher (2017)
I recall someone making positive comments about this game, and the idea enticed me: being a rancher sorta reminded me of Stardew Valley, which I like (quick aside: you know what's the sign of a legitimate philistine? When their immediate reference for a farming-based game is Stardew Valley and NOT Harvest Moon), and the premise of being a slime rancher, of all things, sounded just quirky enough for me.
The game sets you off on a very distant planet, inhabited by slimes of all sorts. Your goal, at first, is to build up your ranch and prosper, but soon you'll see that there's a bit of a plot going on. The previous owner of the ranch left some notes for you around the place, and you receive Starmail from people, including Casey, your significant other (oh, yes, in this game, you play an actual character: Beatrix LeBeau. None of this "create your own character" shenanigans in this here game, no siree).
One big difference between this and Starde-- okay, okay, Harvest Moon and this game, is that you can't customise and build on every single tile of the ranch. Instead, you have clearly demarcated slots in which you can create several kinds of structures. You do get some fancy decorations later on, but you can't get too creative with the layouts. It's more a matter of coming up with efficient groups of structures to make work easier and more productive, and it does get complex as you progress. As you gain money, you can purchase extensions to the ranch, which provide you with more slots and more places to go. The most fundamental structures you can make are: corrals, in which you keep your slimes; gardens, in which you grow fruits and vegetables; coops, in which you grow chickens.
For a while, the main gameplay consists of going out to the world and exploring. You're armed only with the "vacpac", which works as a vacuum and lets you store items and slimes and carry them around. You'll be collecting slimes to put in your corrals, and as you feed them (each kind of slime has a specific diet, consisting of fruit, veggies and/or meat, and a favourite food), they produce "plorts", which you can sell for cash. You don't necessarily have to do this on the ranch; you can farm for plorts on the world itself, but it's far more efficient and convenient to grow them in corrals, since you will need plenty of cash in order to progress. One essential bit of rancher wisdom is that, if a slime eats a plort of some other kind of slime, it becomes a hybrid "largo" slime. Largos can't be stored in the vacpac, to they have to be moved one by one. However, each time they're fed, they produce two plorts, one for each kind they belong to, and the dietary habits of both kinds will be merged; for example, if you merge a meat-only slime with a fruit-only one, the hybrid will eat both meat and fruit. This also works for their favourites, too: when you feed a slime their favourite food, they produce twice as much plorts, so you get four from a single largo. But there's a danger: if a largo slime eats a third kind of plort, they become the terrible tarr slime, which are just plain evil: they produce no plorts, they convert nearby slimes into tarr, and they try to kill you. So yes, this is big trouble, though you find means to easily defeat them later on. But you don't want tarr in your ranch. That could be devastating.
It sure is fun to grow slimes and sell plort. As you gain money, you find ways to automate the feeding and the collecting of plorts, and you can grow food more abundantly so you can really increase production. But the big focus of the game is exploration. The world is very well designed, with interesting, beautiful areas, and different biomes that serve as home for different kinds of slimes. The tarr slimes aren't the only dangers you'll find: even though most slimes are peaceful, they can inadvertently harm you (e.g. boom slimes repeatedly explode, rad slimes have an aura of harmful radiation, etc.), and you'll sometimes meet "feral" slimes, which are hostile, and can only be tamed by being fed. You'll also meet gordo slimes, which are huge and just stand still, and once you feed them enough food (it takes quite a lot), they'll explode and give you some goodies, including slime keys, that open up new parts of the world. Exploration becomes even more fun when you purchase the jetpack, and the world is constantly inviting you to be discovered.
One of the best aspects of the game is that you can take it at the pace you prefer. Because you're not obliged to interact with NPCs, and because there's no fixed deadlines and schedules for anything, the game has this really cosy, relaxing atmosphere. The graphics are beautiful, the slimes are cute and fun to watch, and even the music is nice and interestingly written and arranged. You can just hop into the ranch, work a little and make some cash, make some upgrades, and that will be time well spent. But then you might spend an hour exploring the world, gathering stuff to bring to the ranch (like a new kind of slime or a new food item to grow). or searching for gordo slimes to feed. Eventually, you might unlock teleporters that take you to the property of other ranchers, and those will have unique activities and rewards. For my own experience, I found there was a very nice balance between growing my economy and exploring the world, and both were fun and enjoyable to do. I never felt like I was going through a legitimate chore, you know. I had fun trying to collect as many kinds of slimes as I could, and trying to manage their own challenges.
I admit that the conclusion of the "plot" was rather weak, but still, the process of getting there was totally worth it. It's sappy and sentimental, but it matches the mood of the game. Overall, if you want something relaxing and cute, I totally recommend this. The only real complaint I have is that this game isn't well optimised. Even though the graphics are very simple and basic, some areas of the game put a severe strain on my PC, and I had to turn the settings to the absolute minimum so it could be playable. And I ran GTA V on this PC, man, I mean, c'mon. But other than that, I'll most certainly play this again in the future. It has left some very fond memories.
Hollow Knight (2017)
Games like this are the reason why the AAA industry, with all its problems and fuck-ups, needs to exist. If we lived in a world where only games like this existed, video-gaming wouldn't be considered a form of entertainment.
... god, this is so infuriating. Every time I watched this game being played (mostly on GDQ), I always felt it was somewhat bland and lacklustre. But they, everybody sucks this game's dick, so there has to be more than meets the eye, right? And as far as "metroidvanias" are concerned (let me make a very serious digression here: one sign that there's something very, very, VERY wrong with the culture of gaming overall is that you have a genre of games that is simply named after other games. I despise the term "metroidvania", because it clearly suggests the game is a deliberate carbon copy. I mean, Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer, not a "mariosonic". Half-Life is a first person shooter, not a "doomquake". So why the hell is this game a "metroidvania"? Blargh.) ... so anyway, as far as 2D action-exploration games are concerned, this was very highly regarded. And I loved Ori and the Blind Forest, so I thought this game would be somewhere close to that.
I now feel filthy for having used Ori as a standard for this game. The very aptly titled Hollow Knight feels joyless, bland and cumbersome. I just couldn't understand how I was supposed to have have fun with this game. And actually, the feeling that I get is that the designers never asked themselves this very simple question: "is this fun?". Compare this to Slime Rancher; it felt like every single design decision was made for the purpose of being fun, including level design, game mechanics, graphics, sound, even the user interface. In Hollow Knight, everything stands in the way of fun. The level design is bland and uninspired, the game moves slowly and exploration is boring, and the enemies just get more and more stupid as they go. Oh, but this being a "metroidvania", at least the game makes it easy to negotiate and recognise your surroundings, right? Well, NO. There's no auto-mapping. THERE'S NO FUCKING AUTO-MAPPING, JESUS CHRIST, WHY. If you want the privilege of looking at a map, you have to find an NPC that's hidden somewhere in the level and buy a map from him. Then, if you want to complete the many remaining parts of the map, you have to buy a "quill". And you'll only fill in the map once you find a bench to "rest" (i.e. save the game). This is completely pointless, and the only result is that navigating these levels is far more confusing and boring than it could've been. Oh, yes, and everything costs money in this game, including fast travel. It reached the ridiculous extreme of having to pay to unlock a bench. I'm okay with fixed save points, but having to pay to unlock a save point? And the save point is literally a bench, so you have to pay for a bench?? Dear god, it feels every bit as dumb as it sounds.
But the feeling of true dread and horror dawned on me when I died. See, not only you gather money (or "geo") when you kill an enemy, but you gain a bit of "soul", which you use to cast spells such as healing. When a boss killed me, I lost all my geo, and my soul meter looked "broken" for some reason. Once I got back to the boss room, I had to kill a ghost of myself, and then I got my geo back, and the soul meter went back to normal. And that's when I realised that this game isn't inspired just by Super Metroid, but by another game, a truly stinking pile of shit game that I thought I had gotten rid of.
Yes, that's right: DARK SOULS.
This game is trying to be 2D Dark Souls. And then, only then, everything made sense: the boring combat, the dull exploration, the necessity of making things tiresome to make them feel more difficult. It's all here. But you know, as much as I hated Dark Souls, the game at least had a wretched logic of its own. It made sense. Hollow Knight just doesn't. It smashes together two radically different worlds of game design, and they don't gel together, and the game tries to make them stick by the power of sheer difficulty. But you know, this game isn't even properly difficult: it's just that the fights are extremely boring. And at least Dark Souls was rather beautiful to look at. Hollow Knight is a gooey, porridge-like mess, the sound design is oddly unpleasant, and even the music is extremely bland and generic. And then there are things that only an asshole would put in a game: to heal up in a game, you need to "focus" for about two seconds, and you spend your soul and gain one discrete hit point (you start out with max 5HP), in this order. If, for whatever reason, you're not able to complete process, you spend the soul and don't gain the HP. Yeah. Also, one thing about Dark Souls is that you're supposed to learn from your mistakes, and you're able to see everything the enemy does so you can learn its attacks and patterns, so the game becomes "hard but fair" (even though enemies can attack through walls and you can't, of course). In this game, when you're hit, there's a horrible flash of white and black that covers everything on screen, so you can't see what the enemy just did. It takes many tries until you get a grasp of how to dodge and counterattack, not because the enemies are tricky, but because the game is too busy looking "stylish" to be playable.
In short, I started playing this game today, spent almost five hours on it before deciding to uninstall and file it under "Never play again". And no, it wasn't the case of a ragequit; it was more of a borequit. You see, there's a really cheap-ass enemy in the game that keeps teleporting away from you, and his only attack is a homing projectile that he fires with a very short preparation animation, and since you can only kill it by swinging your nail at it, everytime you try to attack, he'll likely blast you in the face, or teleport away, or blast you in the face and teleport away. Well, the stage boss just happened to be a tougher version of that, and I realised it was impossible to have fun with such a thing, and I don't play games with the purpose of showing off how "badass" I am; I don't have an empty life, and I do have a set of useful skills, so I don't need to be good at games like this as a means of overcompensation. I play games for fun, and this game wasn't designed with fun in mind. Hollow Knight was a thoroughly unpleasant, unhappy experience, and the only thing I want from this game is distance. I'm so angry with this game, I'm even thinking of giving a second chance to Momodora.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:31 pm
Wow, you really laid into Hollow Knight! Maybe I should get it.
The concept of Slime Rancher sounds awesome (I like slime monsters), but I wonder whether it could ever live up to its promise.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:27 pm
Welp, I'm a legitimate philistine!
I haven't been playing many new games lately. Probably because a lot of things I just can't run on this potato.
I mean one that seems interesting is Resident Evil 2, the remake. Mostly because it actually goes and makes even the regular zombies frightening
But yeah, no way is anything I got gonna be able to play all that.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 10:55 pm
So, minigames, they’re great aren’t they. A nice way to get a little break from the main gameplay for a few minutes, maybe get something nice out of it. Then you have games that are all about these minigames. And then there’s microgames, when mini games aren’t “mini” enough and ten seconds sounds like way to long to clear one. Take a whole load of these and throw them at the player at increasing speeds and difficulties and you get Warioware. In this case:
The latest of the innovative, hectic and often downright bizarre series headed by everyone’s favourite avatar of avarice, Wario! As if the title doesn’t clue you in. It’s a weird sorta-remake that takes from Warioware: MegaMicrogame$, Twisted, Touched, and some new ones and mashes them all into one big definitive Warioware package with a ton of polish and full voice acting! In fact, considering each game it pulls from, that means three different control schemes are finally together, though often separated into their own categories. Don’t worry, Wario explains each one in a manner that all tutorials should, quick, patronizing and angry.
These games tend to be pretty light on story, but this one has a tiny bit more. Fresh off of a heist in the remote town of Luxeville and with a new (stolen) pot, Wario is… flat broke. Rather than sell the valuable looking pot, he instead goes for a scam; a video game tournament! It may have a ten thousand coin entry fee but some jerk who totally won’t be Wario will walk out with ten million! Roping his usual contacts around Diamond City into making his games for him again, Wario’s set to rake it in like never before! Also, a strange little girl is out to get him for some reason…
However, most of the game actually involves the various employees of Warioware inc. in a bit of a slice-of-life series of little stories…
Wario: Everyone’s favourite money-grubbing treasure hunter/shitty CEO that still somehow has more principles than actual game publisher CEOs. He handles the introduction stages and the final ones. But there’s plenty of cutscenes in the middle so you’ll get your fill of Wario. He often regards his “friends” as mere saps but he does keep a photo of the around and they’re free to come and go from his house as they please… especially since he never locks the door.
Jimmy T: A true blue disco duck and mobile phone enthusiast who handles the sports genre of the mash league. In his story, he has a bit of a friendly run-in with some fans of his, getting into an impromptu photoshoot as well as a cat that just decided to nestle itself in his ‘fro… though it’s actually a wig.
Mona: A seemingly normal high school student, until you realize she has a thing for Wario of all people. Her genre is “that’s life”. She has an important party but nothing to wear for it, so with the help of her friend/frequent boss, Joe, she’s looking for the perfect dress; like a parfait but also like Wario..?
Dribble n’ Spitz: A pair of cabbies, in spaaaaaaaaaace! While no age is given Dribble, the bulldog, is said to have a married daughter and being his superior, it’s generally accepted that Spitz is even older. The two end up getting stiffed and then caught in the crossfire of yet another space battle and despite his earlier urging to “stay cool” Spitz declares war on both factions. Their games follow the “Fantasy” genre yet most of them are more sci-fi, which the pair seem to be pretty big fans of.
5-Volt: The last of the mash league, having the ever popular “Nintendo” genre, based off past Nintendo games and knicknacks. A former gamer girl who still harbours a love of Nintendo despite focusing more on adult responsibilities. She gets into a workout pushed by a shopping channel that’s selling frying pans… that each weigh a ton apparently. She’s usually cute and encouraging but she’s VERY serious about her son not staying up past bedtime to a downright scary degree.
Ashley: A witch in training and by far one of the most popular characters, she accompanied by her cowardly imp buddy, red. She herself seems emotionless a lot of the time but has an explosive temper (don’t tell anyone but she’s kinda lonely). Her realm is fantasy and the first character in the twist league aside from Wario. At the request of a suffering demon she just summoned, she sets off to defeat Hum Gree, who’s been eating all the food in the demon’s real, leaving the poor guy with nothing. It’s an unusually nice gesture for Ashley.
Dr Crygor: A mad scientist who’s over a hundred years old and likes to augment himself, sporting a signature visor in place of his eyes though his other creations are far from practical most of the time. While picking fungi (and reuniting with an old... friend of his) he comes across an abandoned maid robot… that he apparently abandoned and is dead set on taking revenge. With all the running that goes on, that might explain why his twist games are themed around sports.
18-Volt: Not actually related to 5-Volt nor his buddy, 9-Volt. Looks like an adult but actually is a forth grader. No word on whether he was held back or just a giant. Like the previous two, his games are Nintendo themed. Noticing a young kid muscled out of giving away his game collection, he gets into a rap battle with the culprit, 13-Amp a self-proclaimed “rapping sensation”, to win them back with his own collection on the line. How nice of him!
Penny: Dr Crygor’s granddaughter, a mad scientist herself with dreams of being a pop star. To that end, she created an elixir that’s made to turn someone’s voice downright angelic with her Gramps as the guinea pig. And it works… horrible stomach pains notwithstanding, fortunately she has something for that but only time will tell if it cures her poor grampa. Hers’ are the “That’s life” games and the last of the twist league.
Kat and Ana: A pair of kindergartener twins who, despite their accomplishments in previous games including fighting off monsters and demons, still need a ninja learners’ permit. The test for which involves eating an inhuman amount of sushi for some reason. They’re the first touch league stage after the intro set and lead with “that’s life”. Kat’s older and energetic, Ana’s younger and watchful, but both of them adore all things nature. Kat’s especially fond of turtles and tortoises (as well as any other animal) while Ana’s a flower enthusiast.
9-Volt: 5-Volt’s son and Warioware’s original nintendork, so it’s no surprise what his theme is. The kid absolutely lives and breathes videogames but is also a pretty keen skateboarder. With the help of a friend of his, he learns a surprising aptitude for maths despite hating the subject… all it took was convincing him to think of it like a video game. He also enjoys DJ-ing and staying up well past his bedtime.
Young Cricket: A martial artist training under Master Mantis. Though a lot of it seems to involve rather unusual methods. Like going to an amusement part, particularly the trial of the precious prancers! Or what normal people call “riding the carousel”. Being the only conventionally handsome guy around, he’s really popular with the girls. His games are based around sports… surely a metaphor for the death-defying trial as he dives straight into the stampeding hordes to tame the untameable beasts…
Orbulon: An alien who values intellect and has very slow and gradual plans to take over Earth though he seems to enjoy the culture a little too much to be a threat. Though given he’s over a thousand years old and still pretty youthful he can afford to take it slow. He heads the fantasy genre and last of the touch league as he orders and orders and orders at the local fast food joint, only to go searching for hams to burger when they run out. In other words, his is a quest for steamed hams!
Mike: The aforementioned “friend” of Crygor’s and a pinnacle of his impractical designs, a karaoke robot… made to sweep floors. He left after falling out with Crygor and is still on shakey terms with him, though at least willing to hang out now. He has no story of his own but in the Ultra League, some of his games slip in, just blow into the microphone, simple! He talks like how you’d expect a robot to but he has a bit of an attitude and isn’t terribly helpful to his creator.
Fronk: A strange and tiny being and a… pet? Or at least that’s how 9-Volt sees him, he doesn’t like to be seen that way. He’s a co star of 9-Volt’s story but has none of his own, like Mike his games slip into the ultra leagues. They can use mash, twist or touch but they’re short even for microgames, when the speed picks up lives can be lost before the player can react. He’s apparently an old codger at the grand age of one.
Lulu: The strange little girl who’s out to beat Wario and reclaim the pot of Luxeville! She fancies herself a hero and certainly has the tools for it (well, the children’s toys) but a very short attention span and is a bit of a loudmouth. Gameplay
There’s three main “modes” here, Mash, Twist and Touch. Mash uses the A button and D-pad, Twist switches the D-pad for tilting the system and Touch just uses the touch screen. All of which have their potential difficulties (twist can get a little disorientating, touch tends to require more precision and quick thinking, mash can get unpredictable with what controls are actually being used). Each run/scenario gives you four lives and a set of microgames usually on a particular theme, you gotta beat each one in the VERY limited time you get, up until you get to a boss stage that’s the only type of microgame where you have more than about seven seconds. Oh, and it gets faster as it goes along, and in the endless versions, it levels up up to two times and the games get harder! It gets more than a little hectic, but that’s the charm, especially when going for high score runs which are the real main draw that’ll push your reflexes and quick thinking abilities to the limit!
Initially the games are split by their control schemes until later when the Ultra League is available, that mashes together the previous games and often requires you to switch from one control scheme to another on the fly!
Completing the main plot would probably only take an hour or so yet it’s incredibly replayable and also with a huge bunch of extra challenges. The best ones being Wario Interrupts, a run with Wario constantly trying to throw you off your game in many ways, Split Screen, a full-throttle, no breaks run hosted by Kat & Ana where as soon as one game ends, another begins on the other screen and Sneaky Gamer starring 9-Volt as he games waaaay past his bedtime while trying not to lose, get caught by 5-Volt or fall asleep for real when pretending to, having to multitask between microgames on the bottom screen and watching out for his mom on the top. The latter in particular shows off how scary 5-Volt can get, it has to be seen in game but needless to say, Freddy Fazbear’s got nothing on her.
Oh, there’s also all sorts of other little bits and bobs like alarms, records, and for some reason one madman over at Nintendo decided we should be able to dub over the cutscenes. Though those take coins to earn so better get onto the challenges or main mode to earn ‘em.
Well hopefully my enthusiasm came across properly because this one’s a winner (a WAH-ner?). It’s got a bit of a learning curve especially with twist and touch but the simple yet increasingly frantic gameplay really keeps ya on your toes, it’s immensely replayable and the challenge modes are right there after beating the main story in case there’s any extra spice needed! While it’s got a big cast, pretty much everyone is pretty likeable (even Wario… in an unlikeable way ) and for a compliation, it’s got way more polish and presentation than most would expect! (Charles Martinet getting full dialogue instead of just voice grunts is worth checking out on its own!) and still feels unique, even if there’s a fair few microgames veterans will recognize! It’s weird, it’s fast, it’s downright funny and got charm up the nostrils! If there’s anything to really mark it down on, it’s that some of the microgames can get a bit too fussy, especially two in Kat & Ana’s stage, one being the boss of it.
So yeah, big recommendation. Hardly an epic tale but replayable to a fault and still endearing!
(if anyone wants to know, my faves outside of Wario are 5-Volt, Kat, Ana, and Cricket’s growing on me too!)
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:10 pm
I've never really played a Warioware game, but I'm pretty intrigued. Also, your review was a fun read.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Mon May 20, 2019 7:32 pm
Factorio, pt. 2
I read my previous review of this game and laugh. I said, "I don't think it's too rich in replayability", and now I'm obsessed with this game. There's something so addictive and compulsive about playing this game that I won't be surprised if it gets considered a health hazard in the near future. It's like smoking, but instead of turning your lungs into disgusting black goo, it turns your brain into a mass of conveyor belts, assembly machines and oh my god do I need to produce MORE advanced circuits??.
See, when I played my first game and launched my first rocket, I had no idea how the game would progress. I didn't know how big and complex the factory had to be towards the end, and my tendency to craft everything by hand meant I didn't take enough advantage of the endless possibilities of automation this game offers. After several playthrough, including games aimed specifically at earning certain achievements, and after watching several videos of players much more skilled and obsessedtalented than me, I've learned a few tricks, and I'm able now to build bigger, more organised bases, and see just how insane this game can get. You see, I took 20 hours to launch one single rocket on my first playthrough, and once I reached the actual rocket launching phase, it must've taken me about one hour to build and launch the damn rocket. Well, one modality of playing this game is building a "megabase" with the aim of launching several rockets per minute. The only thing limiting the growth of your base is, in the end, the processing power and memory of your PC. You can just keep going.
Only in the free play mode, you get several options for changing how the game goes. You can eliminate enemies completely, or you can go for a "death world" and make the game all about defence and survival (I haven't tried that yet). You can have huge masses of resources so you can expand your factory without difficulty, or you can have a "rail world" with rare but rich resource patches and a large train network. You can make crafting and research more expensive and have a "marathon" game, or you can do a speedrun and beat the current world record of just less than 3 hours.
And of course, there are many ways you can build the base. One of the easiest ones is to have a bus, a set of belts carrying specific resources, which you can split off and take into specialised modules for producing new resources and feed back into the bus. You can also have modular bases, with specific inputs and outputs. Or you can have a mixed and compact base, which is more easily defended against enemies. Later on, you can build logistic robots and gradually eliminate the conveyor belts, though they require a lot of energy to maintain. You can build huge and clean solar arrays, and you can have very powerful nuclear plants.
And I'm not even talking about mods. This is all in the base game.
Factorio is currently on version 0.17, which included a lot of improvements and changes from 0.16, which is the one I had been playing. At the current state, it seems they're just going to make improvements (mostly graphical) and bug fixes in version 0.18, so the current game is very close to finished. I can't recommend this game enough; not only it makes the words "automation" and "logistics" not sound boring, but it makes those two concepts addicting. Whether you're a fan of peaceful simulation games such as Transport Tycoon, or you prefer action and real-time strategy, this is a worth game to try.
The only thing I don't care much for is the music. I must say, I really hate the way Minecraft created this culture that all crafting-survival games must have "ambient" music playing all the time. This game does not ask for music like this; even though there is a theme of isolation and fragility to the game, it's mostly focused on building, creating, automating and destroying the environment of whatever planet this takes place in. It begs for music that's more lively and propulsive, not these bland, generic "eerie" soundscapes. The music is not bad, it's just unmemorable. At this rate, I can only praise Terraria again for having such beautiful, colourful and bouncy music. Leave the "ambient" stuff for Brian Eno! Terraria has bassoons! Give us more bassoons!
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:24 pm
So, this is just an impressions thing more than anything else, siiiiince I haven’t done everything but I’ve done at least one path and know the game fairly well! But I guess if I told everything that’d be a spoiler.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses!
The closest crossover between Fire Emblem and Persona we’ll get! And a Teaching Simulator!
You take the role of Byleth (though, name and sex can be chosen), a mercenary who travels with their father, Jeralt responding to a call to help from three nobles that changes their lives and the fate of Fódlan forever. Those three are the main lords, Edlegard, Dimitri and Claude, who are set to head the three main factions of Fódlan; The Adrestian Empire, The Holy Kingdom of Fearghus and the Leicester Alliance respectively.
After which, Byleth and Jeralt are roped into joining the Church of Seiros, of which Jeralt was a former knight captain, under the insistence of the Archbishop, Rhea. Byleth in particular is tasked with teaching at the Officer’s Academy in spite of their lack of experience or traceable history.
During the initial bandit raid, Byleth also meets with a very strange girl that seemingly lives in their head, while impatient and forgetful they have the ability to turn back time.
Whatever path is taken and whichever lord is sided with will have a drastic effect on how things play out…
As said, it’s kind of a mashup between Persona and Fire Emblem! Once you pick which of the three classes to take (Black Eagles, Blue Lions, Golden Deer, headed by Edlegard, Dimitri and Claude respectively) you work on a calendar system. Each Sunday you get to decide whether to explore, host a seminar, battle or rest.
The first option is a free-roam around the Garreg Mach Monastery, where the player can do things like gardening, dining with students and faculty, fishing and the like. These will raise support ranks (social links, if you will) with other characters or earn professor experience, which allows the player to do more in free roam, instruct more students or do more optional battles, in other words they get to do more stuff each day. Also certain actions will raise a student’s motivation, which is important for instructing.
Supports can be built in battle too and often give bonuses in battle if the units with a support rank stand next to one another. However supports can be built with students outside the house too and is a potential factor in recruiting, so if you see someone you like from, say, Black Eagle house when you’re Blue Lions, you can either cozy up to them or meet their desired skills to poach them to your house.
The other most important one is battling, which we’ll get to in a bit but obviously they’re important for raising students’ actual levels and the player’s own. Y’know, so they’re less likely to be brutalized in battle.
Then during most weeks, there’s instructing. Depending on motivation and professor level, you can instruct students, that is, directly raise their proficiency with weapons which is more important than ever as each promotion requires certain ranks in certain weapons. For instance an archer will need a C in bows, or they’re not guaranteed to be able to promote. Students will also make automatic gains in whatever goals were set for them such as, say, flying (needed for winged mounts) and reason (aka offensive magic). Various students have strengths and weaknesses that’ll determine how their skills grow and is usually a good clue on what to promote them to. Though if you want you can make everyone a brigand or something. There’s also budding talents, that can become a strength if they’re trained enough in that area even if they initially suck at it.
Promotions are how units progress once they’ve hit the right level and proficiency levels, they start from noble or commoner (though both are identical) that can do anything but are good at nothing to more specialized fighters as time goes on. Some of these are straight upgrades, such as fighter > brigand > warrior. Some, especially the final tier, are more like sidegrades in places, sometimes an advanced class like swordmaster is still perfectly viable even in the endgame.
The battles play out like a mix between a turn based rpg and chess or something. After picking your units, choosing their spot on the map you and the enemy side(s) take turns moving your underlings and attacking one another, with a lot of the standard rpg stats (y’know, str and def, mag and res, ect) and some unusual ones, for instance dexterity determines accuracy and crit rates, while speed governs evasion and, if that unit has enough of a speed advantage they’ll attack twice in one turn rather than determining who goes first.
Unlike most of the other games, there’s no weapon triangle and in fact, most classes can use most weapons. So a typically axe using brigand can still use swords or bows, they just won’t gain as much skill exp or bonuses. Only exception is magic, only magic-using classes can do that, but mages can use normal weapons. Each weapon and spell has a durability, magic is typically MUCH lower but replenishes after every battle while weapon damage needs to be manually repaired. Broken weapons aren’t lost forever though, just don’t use them til they get fixed up because there’s massive penalties to that.
Lastly, there’s a matter of mounted vs infantry units. Mounted ones need a particular rank in their respective skill (a cavalier will focus on riding, a pegasus knight needs to be good with flying) ad have their perks and setbacks. Typically a horseback unit will be able to move more spaces than infantry but will also suffer heavier penalties on tiles that restrict movement. Fliers also get more movement and can bypass certain obstacles other can’t, but they also can’t benefit from terrain (for instance, forests won’t give them an evasion bonus) and they’re weak against bows. Neither can use gauntlets either but they can move after performing an action as long as they didn’t use up all their movement spaces. Both units can dismount to offset both the perks and drawbacks, so a flier going dangerously close to a bunch of archers can hop off their pegasus but will have to move again on foot before mounting again.
Uh there’s more things but I already said five mouthfuls. The game will explain all the things it needs to anyway.
… There’s an absolute ton of them so I’ll keep it to the main ones, shall I?
The player character. An initially weird and not very emotive person of unknown age who only ever knew battling. However, they start to soften a little as the story progresses.
Aka Edgelord. Imperial Princess of the Adrestian Empire and frequently shadowed by her spooky retainer, Hubert. A very solemn girl with some big ideas. She’s also just a little bit awkward.
Crown Prince to the Holy Kingdom of Fearghus. A pleasant boy if anything and embodies chivalry, yet he’s quite troubled. Often accompanied by his stern follower, Dedue.
Aka Memelord. Future leader of the Leicester Alliance. Sociable, jokey and often shifty and underhanded. He professes himself to be “shiftiness incarnate”.
Archbishop of the Church of Seiros. A calm lady one would expect to see heading a church, though she really cannot stand dissent and is pretty harsh on those who displease her…
Holy hell this game is massive! The amount of worldbuilding is nuts and everyone has their own little motivations and reasons for what makes them tic. There’s multiple sides to the story and everyone has their own motivations. For instance while the mostly-main villain works with and does some utterly awful folks and things, the society they hope to upheave ain’t exactly great either.
The teaching gimmick is a great way to get a bit more into the game and with an initially small group of units to work with, it’s a little less daunting to put care into your students, especially since you’ll have few expansions unless you go out of your way to recruit more units, which is a good idea to do. Some houses will hold units that fill a niche your initial house might not. For instance, Black Eagles has quite a few good potential mages but lacks anyone suited to being an armoured or pegasus knight. And while there’s recommended classes for everyone, the choice is ultimately yours and sometimes characters will have surprising areas of expertise. For instance, a character that’s typically a brawler might have the stats that make them even better suited to a heavy armour tank.
And for the battling, it’s mostly the same core gameplay as the others, but with extra weapon variety classes can become multipurposed and useful for more than just their main role. For instance, anyone that learns reason magic can also learn faith spells and vice versa, so in a pinch a white mage type of class can defend themselves or a black mage type can act as emergency healing if need be. An archer that can typically only attack from two spaces away can have a lance to defend themselves in close quarters or a pegasus knight could take a bow and fly around shooting down other flying units, get creative! And thanks to having to put a lot of personal care into how your units grow, there’s that little extra twinge of pride when your favourites land a surprise crit or take down a tough enemy without as much trouble. After all, you explicitly helped them grow like that!
The second half of the game is painful, in a good way.
Most of the maps will have their own neat little catches and themes to keep things interesting too, such as fog or being covered in burning rubble. Seriously (Seirosly? ) despite most folks doing nothing but complaining all the way up to release, there’s a lot of care, attention and really good decisions. Even if the calendar system can initially be overwhelming, playing online lets you see how everyone else spent their days giving players a suggestion on what to do for the day. I think the only particular area I can really complain about is that while gendered classes have always been a thing, they’re pretty prominent in this game while fates broke the borders. For instance, the faith and reason masterclass for mages? Women only. The war master, a juggernaut of axes and brawling? Men only. Like I said, advanced classes are still viable but it’s still a bother some master classes, especially ones that are pure upgrades, can be locked to gender is a bit pants especially when everything else is so open ended.
Overall, it’s one heckuva game, with plenty to do and a massive world that’s definitely worth seeing from more than one side of the story. It could actually work pretty well as a jumping on point for FE as well! As long as you’re not too daunted by time management, it’s very beginner friendly!
Oh also, there's a lot of interesting vas in this game, which is fully voiced! Actually, a fair few vas from the Persona games are here! For instance, the impatient girl with the time-warping powers? Same VA as Morgana, the shy and self-loathing Marianne has Haru's, and Makoto's voices Rhea!
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:54 pm
I came to know this game through GDQ. In SGDQ '18, they held a race, and in AGDQ '19, they had an "All Chapters" run, in the runner and commentators used all the kind of jargon and wording that convinced me I'd hate this game. Oh, it's a "hard game". Oh, it's "really good" and everyone should play it. Also, it's an indie platformer and pixellated all the way to hell and back, and, well, I usually hate games of the sort, notably Hollow Knight and Super Meat Boy.
But this game was a freebie on Epic Store, so I thought, eh, what the hell. Might as well try it.
I started my Hollow Knight review with a snark, saying games like that were the reason why the AAA industry needs to exist, otherwise gaming would be a form of torture. Well, games like Celeste are the reason why the indie industry needs to exist, because it's the kind of experience that transcends gaming. It entertained me, it affected me, and I haven't even finished it yet. That is, I finished the basic game, but there's a lot more to do and discover.
I think there's something almost intangible about this game, because it has a lot of the ingredients that I've come to associate with the hipsterish "indie" culture of gaming, yet they all work perfectly. On the surface level, Celeste is a 2D "precision platformer" with a considerable level of challenge, but it's not obnoxious like Super Meat Boy. The graphics have that retro pixellated look (at the very first cutscene, the game zooms in so much that the pixels effectively become boxes; yeah, it's very proud of its pixels), but it somehow doesn't look phony. The game actually follows a storyline with a surprisingly deep psychological theme, but it's not pretentious and self-important, like Braid or The Talos Principle. There's a charm, a spiritual depth to the game that comes through and makes all elements work together, and it's hard to explain why.
First off, the game isn't not that hard. I beat the basic levels, and I'm not that good a player. Also, in the moments when it is challenging, it doesn't keep rubbing that in your face at all times. The difficulty isn't the point of the game, and I appreciate that a lot. The way the difficulty is gradually elevated, and also modulated through each level, doesn't seem to be there just so the "hardcore gamers" can pretend their empty, hollow lives aren't meaningless. Yes, there are much more difficult variants of the levels, but they're there as a bonus, as an optional layer to a game that already feels complete without it. Celeste is a game that acknowledges, but doesn't pander to, the "hardcore" gamers. It's a videogame with a narrative, not a masturbatory device.
The basic movement consists of running, jumping, dashing and climbing walls. There are other techniques that are introduced in later parts of the game, and even "hidden" techniques that are revealed much later, in the harder levels, and that can really change the experience of the entire game. Each level also has its unique mechanics, and they are introduced in a very didactic manner, sometimes through the "tutorial bird", other times just by the gameplay itself. I finished the main game in about 6 hours, which is admittedly short, but since there's a lot of stuff to find and optional levels to try, I'm not complaining.
As for the story, the beginnings are quite unassuming, and I actually thought I'd end up ignoring. Madeline is set on climbing the Celeste Mountain in Canada, for initially unspecified reasons. Along the way, she meets Theo, who's interested in taking the best pictures and selfies of the mountain as he can. The big turnaround happens when Madeline meets a distorted image of herself in a mirror, and the image breaks out, later identifying herself as part of Madeline. She is repeatedly confronted by this "part of her", and later by a mysterious temple that physically manifests people's internal issues. This culminates in a dialogue scene between Madeline and Theo, in which many of the game's themes are explored in a very succinct, but in a very down-to-Earth and human style. I think this is as much as I can sensibly reveal without outright spoiling the entire game, but trust me, just by reading this description, you have no idea of what the game accomplishes. What I know is that, by a combination of gameplay elements, dialogue and visuals, the game explores profound psychological themes without being preachy or superficial, and during some of the game's most poignant moments, I could see myself in the protagonist. It's uncanny, in fact, but the song Fantasma that I wrote this year is about the exact same thing, and if someone guessed the song was inspired by this game, they wouldn't be too far off the mark.
I'm not being hyperbolic here: with all this concerned about games being considered works of art, and among many attempts at turning games into something "serious" and "deep", Celeste just set a new landmark. There's angsty narrator. The style is not "heavy" and "le artistique". The allegories are rather straightforward, but not hamfisted. The game is not trying to prove how deep it is; it just is. The visuals and the music match the mood very well, and they even managed to make the "voice acting" work: all the dialogue is "acted out" by synthesized noises, which is kinda reminiscent of games like Banjo-Kazooie, but it works. They went to great care to imitate spoken patterns and intonations using just synthetic notes, and what I thought would become obnoxious in the long run turned out to be essential to the game.
The bottom line is, I love this game, and no doubt I'm going to play more of it. I could even try to stream some of it someday, if you care. I had a few quibbles here and there, but they were so small and specific that I feel it's not worth discussing. I say, with no reservations, that this is a fantastic game, and I fully recommend it to anyone with reasonable gaming skills. I stress this: I'm not a frequent player of "precision" platformers, and even Super Mario Bros. annoys the hell out of me, yet I finished Celeste. Yes, I had loads of deaths, but the game is very forgiving and is not about boasting how hard it is. It's a considerable, but fair challenge with a huge pay-off, and maybe one of the most significant, honest psychological portraits of our generation.
P.S.: as an added bonus, the game was co-produced with a Brazilian studio, MiniBoss. É nóis!
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:20 pm
Just played and finished the Celeste. Yeah, pretty much agreed! I was sometimes frustrated - some of it is exceedingly speciific, but it's all doable.
Woo, I'm glad my recommendation wasn't off the mark! Glad you enjoyed. Nice stats, too.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:43 pm
Celeste, Chapter 9: Farewell
I think I have some credibility in this review, especially since I still stand by every glowing word I said about the game itself. After finally beating Chapter 9 (which was offered for free in a recent update), all I can say is that I wish I hadn't played it.
I don't wanna give too many spoilers here (even though I find all of the "spoiler" bits completely irrelevant to the game), but I strongly disliked the way the chapter set off in a really heavy emotional tone, but gave no conclusion whatsoever at the end. Nothing was resolved. This is very at odds with the rest of the game, which begins in an unassuming tone, get progressively denser and then offers one of the strongest, most resonant visual metaphors in the history of gaming. Chapter 9 builds up for a huge epic, but then ends as if nothing had happened.
And in terms of gameplay, these stages fall into every pitfall the game had avoided in the previous chapters. The rooms demand a level of precision and endurance that could only be realistically expected from speedrunners. I only beat it because I used Assist mode to slow down some rooms, and because I look at tutorials to figure out some of its most unreasonable puzzles and intended techniques. The C-sides were tough, yes, but at all times I felt like I knew what I was doing wrong and what exactly I needed to improve. Chapter 9 was constantly fighting against me, and some of the mechanics were downright unhelpful (the exploding fish). Many levels of the game felt like a big ordeal with a huge payoff; C9 felt like a massive, futile chore.
With all honesty, I don't recommend this chapter. I'm convinced that my gaming experience was better off without it, and I regret playing it. I'd literally "unplay" it if I could.
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:48 pm
That's been my general opinion of chapter nine too. And I only got halfway through before hitting a heart tax wall. But what I played of it wasn't really that enjoyable
Re: Game Reviews
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:29 pm
So the Celeste chapter 9 run is happening right now on AGDQ and, god, even just watching this run is unpleasant. It looks so messy, so polluted, so ugly. You can feel the tryhardism all over the place. Even the music is a letdown in this.
tl;dr: Celeste is still one of my favourite games ever, all eight chapters of it.