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Which Homebrew Games Are Good (Redux)


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I feel very strongly the NES has a lot more life to give new gameplay ideas, I would never discredit anyone trying to attempt to try something new. In fact, I think this pursuit is the most admirable in all of homebrew, when it works... 

Personally I feel there is something to be said for striving to provide the player with intuitive controls out of the gate. Part of the duty of a game dev is to slowly teach the player how to play the game. When a new control scheme is suddenly dropped on me and I can't figure it out in 2-3 minutes i'll give up and move on with my busy day, not to say I won't come back to it, but it does stiffen that barrier of entry. Oftentimes my game playing time is down to 15-20 minutes a day, that might speak more about the nature of my opinion on this, but I'd rather spend that time on gameplay than getting frustrated on controls... Striking a balance of these two things seems to be the ultimate goal in my humble opinion.

 

 

 

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  • 10 months later...
On 2/21/2020 at 9:45 AM, Raftronaut said:

I feel very strongly the NES has a lot more life to give new gameplay ideas, I would never discredit anyone trying to attempt to try something new. In fact, I think this pursuit is the most admirable in all of homebrew, when it works...

I totally agree.  I love NES homebrews and own a bunch of them, but one of my only real issues is that most of them try to neatly fit into the modern sensibilities of a specific genre: this is a platformer, this is puzzle game, this is a shooter, etc.  One of my favourite aspects of OG NES games is how bizarre most of them are (Are those bats?  No, they are keese!).  As such, Lizard is undoubtedly my favourite NES homebrew in terms of concept, because playing it for the first time felt exactly like all those weekend NES rentals of my youth: it just drops you into a world that you have to sort of feel your way around and try and figure out, and the more you learn, the more you want to know.  I wish more homebrewers would make non-genre specific games like this.

As for the topic, my favourites other than Lizard include:

-Streemerz - infinitely replayable and so damn fun
-Armed for Battle - as mentioned, awesome to see a competent RTS on the NES
-NES Virus Cleaner - I'm a sucker for short Arcadey type games
-Micro Mages - the new gold standard, it goes without saying...
-Family Picross - Just happy to have a Picross game on the NES
-Lan Master - fun puzzle game and I love the music and atmosphere
-Super NESnake 2 - I grew up with Snake games, so nostalgia here, and I actually like NESnake 1 better
-Project Blue - what Battle Kid should have been: more approachable run'n'gun fun without dying every 3 seconds

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On 2/22/2020 at 12:45 AM, Raftronaut said:

I feel very strongly the NES has a lot more life to give new gameplay ideas, I would never discredit anyone trying to attempt to try something new. In fact, I think this pursuit is the most admirable in all of homebrew, when it works... 

Personally I feel there is something to be said for striving to provide the player with intuitive controls out of the gate. Part of the duty of a game dev is to slowly teach the player how to play the game. When a new control scheme is suddenly dropped on me and I can't figure it out in 2-3 minutes i'll give up and move on with my busy day, not to say I won't come back to it, but it does stiffen that barrier of entry. Oftentimes my game playing time is down to 15-20 minutes a day, that might speak more about the nature of my opinion on this, but I'd rather spend that time on gameplay than getting frustrated on controls... Striking a balance of these two things seems to be the ultimate goal in my humble opinion.

Regarding the controls bit, that precisely why I can't generally get into modern gaming.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/15/2021 at 10:00 AM, Dr. Morbis said:

-Project Blue - what Battle Kid should have been: more approachable run'n'gun fun without dying every 3 seconds

Are we playing the same game? I'm playing Project Blue right now, and honestly I'm getting ready to shut it off with no intention on returning to it, unless the Famicom version addressed some of the issues that the NES version has.

The game is quite difficult, even on the lowest setting, and for the wrong reasons. The character controls rather stiffly, and don't get me started about the jumping situation. It's like really bad parkour, you literally need to run just to be capable of reaching the proper height to kill some enemies or get to the tops of platforms to make it to the next screen. That's not fun at all.

So then you die, for a "cheap" reason, and you respawn with only two hearts, setting you up to die again quickly, before you even get situated again properly. That's not fun, it's just frustrating.

It honestly was painful just to get to the third stage. It's sad too, as the game looks amazing and I was really looking forward to this one.

Edit: it's after 3 in the morning and I'm still playing it, I definitely didn't sign up for this shit.

Edited by fcgamer
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Aaaaand....I'm done.

I haven't felt this frustrated playing a game since, honestly I have no idea. The frustration I felt was the sort of frustration you'd feel as a child, right before throwing the controller on the ground or at the tv and rage quitting.

To draw comparisons between Battle Kid (well I played the famicom version, which has the difficulty adjusted) and this: I never felt frustrated with BK, on the regular setting. There were areas that tripped me up, but it was fair, and after observing the patterns you could make it through.

PB though, it's like taking a scissors and cutting your balls off. You know what you need to do, you've maybe even done it a few times, but you get caught up repeating areas due to poor level design. It's not just challenging, it's also not fun.

This one reminds me of Mario Sunshine. It looks good, it seems like you should enjoy it, but the execution is poor, making it a masochist's paradise. Sorry guys, if you feel I'm being unfair, please address and try to justify the issues that I've noticed. For reference, I even feel that Battletoads is more fair than this.

 

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5 hours ago, Gloves said:

Sounds like somebody is just bad. 😏

I've played a lot of "difficult" NES games in my day, and I've also played a lot of "bad" games, and generally with the latter, it's poor game design that destroys the fun. A difficult game that's been designed properly will still be fun.

Today I think I'll play Battle Kid again, to get the bad taste out of my mouth from yesterday.

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6 hours ago, fcgamer said:

To draw comparisons between Battle Kid (well I played the famicom version, which has the difficulty adjusted) and this: I never felt frustrated with BK, on the regular setting. There were areas that tripped me up, but it was fair, and after observing the patterns you could make it through.
 

I was comparing my experiences of playing the North American releases of both of these games, not the Famicom versions, so, to answer your original question:

8 hours ago, fcgamer said:

Are we playing the same game?

No, I don't believe we are...

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17 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

I was comparing my experiences of playing the North American releases of both of these games, not the Famicom versions, so, to answer your original question:

No, I don't believe we are...

I was playing the NA version of PB...

Edit: Just played through the game again tonight, and here are my final thoughts on it.

I quite enjoyed the soundtrack, there are a lot of catchy tunes that complement the game well. The graphics are also superb, though sometimes the details will make it hard to figure out where to go. The ending screen is beautiful.

I might not have been 100% fair yesterday with my analysis. Today's playthrough went much better, and I managed to complete the game.

With that said, even on the easy setting, the game is very difficult. I liken the health situation somewhat to that of a shooter. If you are doing well, on a good streak, you'll progress nicely, but once you die, things will go south. Often the spots you respawn at aren't particularly friendly, and then with only two hearts, it starts to become unnecessarily  frustrating.

I mentioned the jumping situation yesterday, of which I wasn't too keen. Finally, despite only having four stages, they seem quite long. Combining this with the difficulty, and not having any sort of save option or password system, I started to feel the way some people might about Super Mario Bros 3. Just as a reference, it's almost 4am here, but when I got to the second half of the last stage tonight, I didn't want to shut the game off until I completed it, as I really didn't want to have to start all over again from the beginning.

With those points in mind, I'd probably rate the game a B- or a C+ . I honestly think it could have easily been an A+ game, one of the best homebrew to date, but I think there were a few oversights that create some problems. That's just my opinion though, and I'll gladly buy whatever else these folks release, as overall things were good.

 

Edited by fcgamer
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