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Philosoraptor

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Philosoraptor last won the day on February 21 2022

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  1. There's been a bit of a paradigm shift with my short-term goals. I still plan on playing 75 games this year, but I've been focusing on quick playtesting sessions in hopes of selling games and streamlining the collection.
  2. I have official Sony component cables. However, I will fully admit that my SHMUP setup isn't ideal. My only TV is a 40'' LCD flatscreen from 2010. So, my only real option I have for Ibara is yoko. Even IF I could play it in tate, it's stretched because Ibara only outputs in 4:3 and my TV is 16:9. I still get an unstretched, 19ish inch picture out of it, so yoko isn't the end of the world. I sadly also don't have a Gameshark. I had no idea it could do those kinds of things. Mushihimesama is the other PS2 SHMUP that's often panned for blurry visuals. I have it both on the PS2 and Switch, so maybe I'll play both over the weekend and see which is better. Yup, that's accurate. The Arrange mode in PS2 Ibara is like a version 1.5 between the arcade version and Ibara Kuro, which I've never played or seen. Apparently, Kuro has a second character, is harder, and has different scoring from both the arcade version and the arrange version. I will say that I do like the arrange mode more because it does play more similarly to a more traditional Cave SHMUP. However, I'll also say that the blurry visuals and bad colors on the PS2 arcade version are the vast majority of the reason why I prefer the arrange mode. If it was an arcade-perfect port on the PS2 in the correct resolution, I'd honestly say they're as good as each other. However, with one being blurry and the other having enhanced visuals, it's a tougher sell to say they're as good as each other in this package, at least for me. Take it with a grain of salt, though, because my setup isn't ideal. Maybe a Gameshark and a CRT in tate makes a tangible difference. Regardless, I'm also hoping for an M2 port. They've done fantastic work so far.
  3. Interesting! I didn't know any of that. Very cool. If I were to pick a favorite Cave series, I'd probably go with Dodonpachi. I still think Ibara is a fantastic game, hence the 8/10 9/10. Honestly, I didn't play the arrange mode, and I only focused on the original arcade mode. I'll play the arrange mode and post a follow-up with my thoughts. Maybe it'll improve my opinion of the game. Spoiler alert - it did. I've never played the PCB, but I just watched a couple of videos of both, and the PS2 one is significantly muddier. From what research I did, it seems to be that the PS2 runs at 480i, while the arcade runs at 240p. Also, aside from bombing at especially chaotic areas in the main stages, there's no slowdown at all in the PS2 version. I think I might have noticed some slowdown once in my many playthroughs. If you want a 1:1 arcade port, the arcade mode in the PS2 version isn't it. *Edit—I just finished playing some of the arrange mode, and it's essentially a completely different game. It has weapon select, your ship slows down when firing, your ship fires bullets faster, and enemy bullets are brighter and easier to see (bright pink instead of purple). Honestly, this mode does make a difference in my scoring, and the mechanics are more to my liking. I'm bumping it up to a 9/10.
  4. I got lazy about writing up reviews for a while, but I didn't stop playing games or writing reviews in my spreadsheet. Since the last post in early March, I've beaten 32 games and met two of my three goals for the year: beat 50 games combined for consoles I don't tend to play as often (32X, Dreamcast, Gamecube, Mega Drive, PS1, PS2, PSP, PS Vita, Sega CD, Wii, Wii U, and Xbox), and beat one game on each of those consoles. My only other goal this year was to beat 75 games, and I'm still well short of that. Anyway, I'm not going to flood everyone with a thirty-two bullet wall of text with my thoughts on each game, so I'll just give the highlights. I'm also trying to better weigh my ratings against how good a game was when it came out versus its contemporaries. Games with high grades on older consoles might not still be a blah/10 game but I feel that they were at least a blah/10 game at the time. I have been retroactively adding ratings in my spreadsheet for how good and fun I think the game is today, but I omitted them from this list because it just ends up being too many ratings. I might include them in smaller write-ups in the future, though. As for what blah/10 means, I'm still going by Reed's excellent scale: Mario Tennis Aces (Switch)—A return to form, if you will, from the abysmal Ultra Smash. They still left out things I want to see in a tennis game, like five-set matches. I can understand why did that for online play, but at least give me the option to bore my friends locally, dammit. I also still think they haven't nailed down the size of the characters relative to the court, so the court seems very small compared to the early entries. Also, the racket-breaking gimmick is fine, but I wouldn't say it adds much positively or negatively. 8.5/10 Arcana Heart (PS2)—I'm only mentioning this one because decisions were made when putting this game on a disc. Instead of the updated version with "rebalanced" characters being the default, they instead opted to make the more poorly received initial arcade release the default. Even worse, they didn't even give you an option of playing one or the other from the main menu like sane people would; instead, you have to go into the "Interface" and switch the option to "Full" to get the updated version. Stupid. Otherwise, it's an old-school 2D fighter with a cheap final boss that released in 2008, making it outdated compared to deeper fighting games like Guilty Gear on day one. 6/10. KOF PS2 games (2006, Maximum Impact, XI)—All good in their own right. All of them = 8/10. Guilty Gear Judgment (PSP)—What happens when you take fighting game characters (including their combos) and plop them into a side-scrolling brawler? Well, in this case, middling dreck. And that's not because of the 21 playable characters; it's because of the bland stages, lack of enemy variety, and bland bosses. 6/10 Super Monkey Ball 1, 2, Banana Splitz (GC, GC, Vita)—Everyone's favorite digitized marble labyrinth game series, Super Monkey Ball shines in these three entries. Well, mostly. I can't recommend the Vita one as much as the ones on the Gamecube because the controls feel less precise, but 1 and 2. Hell yeah. 2 is probably one of my favorite games of all time with its array of challenging stages, dialed-in controls, and fun mini games. 1 is not too shabby either. If you haven't had a chance to play these, give 'em a shot. 1 = 9.5/10, 2 = 10/10, Vita = 7.5/10 Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC)—Not my favorite in the series because of the buginess. However, it's still a fantastic fighter chock-full of things to do and fun to be had. 9.5/10 Capcom vs. SNK 2EO (GC)—Worth mentioning because characters' special moves are mapped to various directions on the C-stick, making this an approachable fighter for newcomers. However, the control format that uses the C-stick doesn't also allow you to use the face buttons, meaning players who have put in the hours can be more precise and land better combos with the normal face buttons. 9/10 Dead or Alive games (3, Ultimate 1, Ultimate 2 [Xbox])—Ultimate 2 is the winner of this bunch with it's insane number of unlockables, lots of characters, and smooth gameplay. Strangely, I think the first DOA game runs better and is more fun on the PS1 than it is in DOA Ultimate, even with the improved graphics. 3= 9/10, Ultimate 1 = 7/10, Ultimate 2 = 9.5/10. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball—Fantastic volleyball action, the least objectification of the Xtreme games, a casino with blackjack, poker, slots, and roulette, and the option to listen to your own music at the expense of your game not loading! Plus, you can give your partner ugly gifts and slowly watch her descend into a clown show throughout the vacation. Not even heels in sand can stop these girls. 8/10. Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Soul Calibur 2, SoulCalibur (Xbox, Xbox, Dreamcast)—Not much really needs to be said about these. They're all timeless fighting games. 10/10 for everybody. Project Justice, Street Fighter EX3 (Dreamcast, PS2)—3D, or even 2.5D, wasn't kind to Capcom fighters. They have charm and decent amounts of polish, but they also have a lot of jank and floatiness. I find them to be fun regardless, but they're certainly a tier below the major 3D fighting franchises (Tekken, DOA, SoulCalibur). 7/10 for both. Power Stone 2 (Dreamcast)—My preference in the two Power Stone games. I like that the rounds last longer in 2 and the camera isn't operated by a drunken sailor. Only a mildly drunken sailor. 7/10 Magical Taruruuto-kun (Mega Drive)—A fantastic, challenging, unique platformer made by the people who eventually brought us Pokemon. The controls are tight, the graphics are insane for the Genesis/MD, and the music, honestly, isn't the best. But that's OK! Everything else makes up for it. Each of the four stages has both a miniboss of sorts and an actual boss. There are also checkpoints after certain screens, and up to three continues. Aside from the standard jump, Taruruuto-kun recieves three different types of magic after defeating the boss of the first three stages. He's also equipped with a glide, which must be used to get through narrow passageways, and a wand that he can both attack with and pick up and throw objects with. Even though it's relatively short, it's definitely one worth emulating if you don't have a Retron 5 or a Mega Drive sitting around. 8/10. Lords of Thunder (Sega CD)—This game is fantastic for 1993. Absolutely amazing. Everything runs smoothly with very little slowdown, and it's a really interesting amalgamation of both the old and new in the SHMUP genre. Almost all bullets are aimed at you, old school, but you get weapons that, when leveled up to their third stage, fill the screen, like a newer SHMUP. You also have highly-damaging melee attacks, which adds to the risk/reward gameplay, especially when your weapon isn't fully leveled up. 9/10 Knuckles Chaotix (32X)—The last thing I want to do in video games is be tied to an AI character made in 1995. Literally. The same-y stages with very few enemies and hazards don't help. Even the bosses are lackluster, and there are blatant safe spots where they'll just never hit you. Plus, with your partner, you pretty much extra invincible in this game, since they die for about ten seconds before coming back. To die, you have to kill your partner and then get hit again with zero rings. 5/10 Doom (32X)—I missed out on Doom when I was a kid. However, I had fun with this port. No, it's not perfect. Yes, it's missing levels. Yes, to strafe, you have to hold C and press a direction. Yes, it's extra pixelated, and yes it's buggy and can sometimes freeze for no reason. But, the fact that they got this game on a cartridge with 20 FPS in 1994 is impressive enough, even though the 32X could have probably handled an even better port. I also don't mind the controls, as hitboxes are pretty generous. The only other 32X game I own is Space Harrier, and I'd consider Doom to be the best of the three. 8/10. Ibara (PS2)—Considering its $200+ price tag, this is a hard one to recommend. It's glitchy, blurry, and has significantly less slowdown than the PCB. The explosion animations obfuscate bullets, and the choice of bullet colors makes them tough to pick out in frantic stages. However, it's also a Cave SHMUP, meaning it's still a very solid game despite it being neither the better version of the game nor one of the best Cave SHMUPS. 8/10 Due to the arrange mode being much better than the arcade mode, I'm bumping this up to 9/10.
  5. I have to say, I've been really enjoying the videos you make. I dig your sense of humor, and it's cool seeing both the gameplay and your art on screen at the same time. I haven't seen another creator or reviewer do anything like it. Most of all, I keep clicking play for your perspective on each game and how much fun you actually seem to have with them. I honestly struggle to find much enjoyment in games on consoles older than the NES, but you've helped me understand why they were as beloved as they were and are. Keep up the good work!
  6. I'll throw my two cents in, although I'm going to be heavily agreeing with @Floating Platforms. I'm not a completionist and don't go for platinum trophies very often. Out of my 2167 trophies, only 7 are platinums. I've beaten 108 games with trophy support across the PS3, PS Vita, and PS4, and I've played probably another 20-30 without beating them. Of the platinums I've gotten, a good chunk are bad, like Task Force Kampas, Null Drifter, and Project Starship X. They're far too easy to get for SHMUPS, only take about 20 minutes each to unlock, and can be unlocked before beating the game. According to https://psnprofiles.com/guide/10109-task-force-kampas-trophy-guide, 90% of PSNProfiles users who booted up Task Force Kampas walked away with the platinum. It's as if the developers were saying "thanks for buying the game; here's a free platinum." Two recent examples I have of good platinums are Demon's Tier + and New Super Lucky's Tale. In both cases, I ended up with a majority of the trophies through normal gameplay, and the platinum pushed me to play a few more hours to get the rest. No trophies were ridiculous to get, and the additional playtime to get them didn't make the game overstay its welcome or detract from the overall experience. To get the platinum in New Super Lucky's Tale, the hardest trophies required me to not get hit in boss battles, which I mostly was able to do on the first try during my initial run-through or a few additional tries in the postgame with the level select. I also had to collect a few missing pages, but I got 90% of them in my initial playthrough. The hardest trophy in Demon's Tier + was just unlocking/buying the six characters from the shop, which just meant a few additional dungeon runs post credits. To liken a good platinum to older examples, I'd say a good platinum is similar to when developers added bonus modes, postgame content, fun unlockables, extra characters, and other secrets to games as a reward for completing reasonable tasks. Stuff like beating higher-leveled characters from other NISA franchises in early Disgaea games to unlock them, unlocking the original Panzer Dragoon game for beating Panzer Dragoon Orta, and getting access to Cerulean Cave and Mewtwo after beating the Elite Four in Pokemon Red/Blue. A good platinum is a reward for beating the game, something that I wanted to do/get because I was enjoying the game, and something that extended playtime and challenged me while remaining fun and worthwhile. A "bad" platinum in those terms might be something like the certificate of completion for completing the Pokedex in Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (I'll include a video showing how ridiculous this actually is in a spoiler at the end), finding all 100 gold skulltulias in OOT for infinite rupees, or the postcard for collecting 120 shine sprites in Super Mario Sunshine. And since I compared getting a trophy to getting more content and goodies in older games, I should point out that a good game doesn't replace those unlockables with a platinum trophy and paid DLC. The trophy should be another part of the free unlockables and postgame content, if the game has them. Going back to my Disgaea example, the PS2 games had a bunch of unlockable characters in the postgame, while the PS3, PS4, and Switch games have significantly fewer unlockable characters in postgame and lots of paid DLC for the rest, including characters that were unlockable in the PS2 games for free. That's bad. I also don't think that having a bunch of postgame unlockables is a requirement for any game, especially if the game doesn't have any DLC. Plenty of old games didn't have unlockables, and I think a Platinum trophy and no additional unlockables is an extension of that. Neither Demon's Tier + nor New Super Lucky's Tale have any DLC, and neither really have additional unlockables either. If a game's platinum trophy can be obtained during the credits on the first playthrough, that's not a bad thing.
  7. In February, I got sucked back into FGO. And Granblue Fantasy. Back to three gachas. Pain. However, I did have some time to beat a few games since I last reported in. Granblue Fantasy: Relink (PS4)—Ooooooohhh, this is a tough one. A very, very tough one. It's hard to not be biased about this one either, since I play (and love) the gacha it's based on AND the first print of the game includes a code for the mobile game that saves literally a month or more of grinding AND helps unlock a busted character of your choice. Seriously. At the time of writing, the code alone is selling for $30-45, which is most of the price of the game. Sometimes, they sell for more. For those who speak my moon language, I ended up using mine to get Haaselia, an Evoker, and I got her about halfway to five stars just from the rewards from the code alone. I digress. Back to the PS4 game. Gameplay-wise, the battle system is very similar to Xenoblade Chronicles. However, there are 20 playable characters here. 19 are from the gacha and there's one (current) Relink exclusive. Everything is executed well, and the writing is up to the same high standard as Versus and the mobile game. Everyone's specials (ougis/charge attacks) and movesets are VERY different, and you can get a lot of additional playtime trying out characters and playing online. Instead of the weapon grid from past games and gacha game, you have a skill tree that also unlocks a variety of skills and upgrades for each playable character. Background information is shared through fate episodes, and several familiar, upgradeable weapons are available for each character. Locales are gorgeous, cities feel alive, and they even recreated all the familiar NPCs from the mobile game. They've also added lots of chests and critters to find in the towns and story islands. Because it follows the formula of the mobile game (read: quick quests to replay for drops later), most of the stages in its 20ish initial runtime to credits are broken up by running from set piece to set piece. So, even though it's hack-and-slash adjacent, it's once again closer to Xenoblade Chronicles in practice. It's fanservice for GBF fans. It's amazing. However, the game doesn't necessarily give you the best rundown of the story (or the mechanics, or the vernacular), so it's not as good of a jumping in point for new players as Versus is. Also, if you want to finish up the main story, the second arc is another 20 hours, so 40 in total. Overall, though, if you're a GBF fan, you'll love this game. 9/10 Ocean Commander (Wii)—Tough one to recommend. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but it's bland and way, WAY too easy. This game controls with the Wiimote and Nunchuck, with you holding B to fire, pressing A to bomb, and moving with the Nunchuck. You control the direction of your shots in 360 degrees by pointing the Wiimote at the screen. Each enemy destroyed gets you money which can be used to level up your weapons up to three times. However, you're an absolute unit of a bullet sponge. If I wasn't so concerned with keeping my enemy kill percentage up, I'd be curious whether you could sit in the middle of the screen and win by just holding fire. This game plays less like a SHMUP and more like the 30th best flash game on the Newgrounds homepage. Even though it boasts 20 levels and a final boss showdown, all of the levels feel the same with only minor enemy variety and spawn rates. Bosses are reused (and not even pallete swapped) in probably half the levels, and none of them are particularly large, inspired, or difficult. Overall, it's just sitting in the middle of the screen and holding the fire button for two hours, and trying to shoot the stingrays to keep your kill count up, if you're so inclined. Everything else dies from the barrage of bullets and projectiles eminating from your ship. No bugs, but no excitement. Solid meh. I'd say 4/10 at time of release, but probably 2/10 nowadays. It hasn't aged well. Mario Tennis Ultra Smash (Wii U)—The smoothest playing bad idea I've played in a while. No bugs, no framerate issues, everything has that Nintendo polish. But maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. First off, the gimmick is twofold: the first is mega mushrooms that make your character take up at least half the court (and the full court if you're DK or another large player), and the second are jump smashes and ultra smashes. Both of these things cause innumerable problems with the actual tennis itself. Just like the hypothetical-made-reality of the goalie fat enough to plug a hockey goal, the mega mushroom makes it nearly impossible to hit the ball by a supersize player, especially a large one. You can sometimes hit the special shots that appear on court to spin them around or whatever, but that's still no guarantee. Even when you're massive yourself, still no guarantee. Also, to compensate for this ridiculous mechanic, now the tennis ball itself bounces higher in unexpected ways. A shot that barely went over the net can bounce right over your head three or four times higher than you'd expect. Without the indicators on the ground telling you what shot you'd hit, it'd be even tougher to predict that. Jump smashes and ultra smashes basically take the finesse out of the game previously in older Mario Tennis entries and devolve most rallies into smashfests. They function as upgraded overhead smashes, but from the side. For ultra smashes, everyone does a mario-style super high jump overhead smash. However, because of that, they've reduced the angles you can hit the ball, especially at the net, significantly. There's no more cut shots and drop shots are mostly ineffective, making each rally just a slugfest. It's also almost impossible to hit the net or hit the ball out in this game. Speaking of the ball, it's minescule on screen, and it's even more ridiculous in the hands of a player under the effects of a mega mushroom. Plus with the size of the courts being a bit too small, it's very easy to lose track of the ball in front of a giant teammate. So, the tennis isn't the greatest. You don't have the angles to hit balls past competent computers much less good human players in mega mushroom mode, the court is too small, and the end up taking away more from the gameplay than adding. What else can be wrong with this game? Well, maybe the fact that there are only 16 characters, which is the same number as the N64 game if you don't include Transfer Pak characters, but they're of lower quality. In the N64 version, there was a significant difference in how each character type played. Serve and volley for Waluigi. Power and serve positioning for Bowser and DK. In Ultra Smash, the character types are still present, but the variation is significantly downplayed. So much so, that outside of the tricky characters like Boo, most play similarly to each other (and even the tricky characters still play pretty same-y, they mostly just fly and have a bit more curve to their shots, which is downplayed even more by the special shots that appear on the court during the match). Also, did we really need Toadette? or Sprixie Princess? Naah. Ultra Smash also contains many fewer modes than previous entries. No tournament mode here. You do have exhibition modes to take out the gimmicks if you so choose, but the default modes all have them. The replacement for the tournament is a fighting-game style "knockout challenge" where you face off against 30 characters (15 normal and then the same 15 again but as star characters) in tiebreaks one after another. Beat all 30 and you get credits (and coins to buy other star characters and courts). You can also play the knockout challenge with a supported Amiibo buddy. However, instead of modifying the rules where it's now California doubles (the team with two players has to hit between the singles lines against the team with one player, and the team with one player gets the whole court), both sides still play singles. So, you essentially get a free backup as you wail on the ball at the net. It get worse. There's ONE minigame, which is about how long you can keep a rally going. They also took away three- and five-set matches, leaving only tiebreaker, two-game, and one-set matches as options. I get that limitation for online play, but not local play. There are also fewer courts and surfaces than in previous entries. There are the usual grass, clay, and hard courts, as well as carpet, ice, sand, rebound, and mushroom (highest bouncing) court. However, due to the weird bounces, the only courts that really play differently are ice, rebound, sand, and mushroom. Even worse, they're all located in the same arena, just with a different surface. So, instead of Mario Tennis 64's cool locales and music for each court, you get the same music and a same-y surface. Mario Tennis Aces* and Mario Tennis on the virtual boy are the last Mario Tennis games I haven't played. However, of the ones I have played, this is easily the worst. Everything can be unlocked so quickly that it's easy to call this iteration a three-hour tech demo at best. 5/10 Edit: Started Aces. It's way better than Ultra Smash.
  8. Yeah I did. That explains what I wasn't getting. I didn't realize they were different animals.
  9. I must be missing something. So many people love Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, but I gave them a 6/10 and 7/10 respectively when I played them in late 2020. I played them both on the PS2, if that makes a difference, but do you see someone who gave those kinds of ratings to the first two enjoying the third? Edit* Sorry Reed. Just saw it was @Gloves who played BG3. Although, I'm still interested in hearing about what I may be missing from the first two. *What say you, Gloves?
  10. I'd be happy if he broke my record! It's something I look back on fondly, and I'm sure the_wizard_666 will feel the same way.
  11. Been a bit! I've been playing more Wii U games recently, with a focus on games that start with "Mario," apparently: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games - I didn't know what to expect with this game aside from waggle, and it delivered, both in waggle and in entertainment. Sure, there's a lot of running events and sure, drumming the Wii remote and nunchuck to run isn't the most fun thing, but the motion controls are varied across the events, even running events. Plus, it's the summer Olympics. There's lots of running events. Some events, like the trampoline, are a blast. Others, like table tennis, feel like inferior versions of both Mario Tennis AND Wii Sports tennis. On average, though, the events are well done and fun. On another note, I ended up playing this for two days to beat all the events, and I did have a little bit of muscle fatigue on my right upper bicep, but none of the events are taxing enough to put you in knots like PunchOut!! Nintendo also "spiced things up" with dream events that mimic other Olympic events (table tennis, skydiving(?), running, and fencing). Skydiving was the best because you had to navigate through rings and then pull off tricks like in the trampoline event. Running was essentially Mario Kart, but slower. Table Tennis and Fencing just added super moves to the standard events, so I'm not sure they're different enough to warrant a whole 'nuther minigame. Overall, though. I enjoyed my time with the game. More than I expected, even. I'm sure the later ones are better, and I'd be interested to see how they handle the winter Olympics. So, maybe I'll pick up a later one in the future. 8/10 Mario Kart Wii - At the time of release, this is the most polished MK game they had ever made. It's got metric tons of tracks, characters, and unlockables. It pulls all kinds of fantastic tracks from older MK games, has a killer battle mode, and a nice time trial mode. With other human players, it's a blast. However, with computers, all the fun is suddenly sucked out of the room and replaced with pure, unadulterated rage as the 4th blue shell on the final lap hits your character, this time only feet from the finish line. Yes, the garbage AI is back with all the rubberbanding and BS tricks present in previous games, but this one really has the AI spamming all kinds of overpowered items seemingly only at you, especially in 150cc and Extra. It takes away the enjoyment out of the single player experience, and since there's no longer any way to enjoy the game outside of getting a bunch of friends together or modding your Wii, it's hard to not dock it for its indisgressions. With human players, it's much more balanced, and the best players tend to finish close to or at the top. With the AI, it's all up in the air. You could race the best race and finish 10th, and I don't like that as someone who is fairly seasoned at MK and decent at racing games in general. Bikes are also busted compared to their kart counterparts to an upsetting degree. For single player, give me F-Zero and it's tough as nails, skill-based racing than pure luck and the whims of the AI in MK Wii. Oh, also, on the Wii U, the GC controller doesn't work with the GC adapter, so you're stuck with the classic controller, the wheel, or the Wiimote. 8.5/10 Mario Sports Mix - More like mixed bag, IMO. Separately, the volleyball, dodgeball, basketball, and ice hockey games are worse than other offerings on the market. The first DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball, Super Dodge Ball, NBA Street V3 (which also has Mario and co if you get it on the GC)/NBA Jam, and OG Ice Hockey/NHL 94 are all better offerings. Hell, hockey does feel like an updated Ice Hockey from the NES. However, together, they make a game that is accessible (all of the games use the Wiimote and Nunchuck, and all the games have basically the same control scheme) and could be good fun with up to four human players. However, every video game should be better with friends, so that's no point in this game's favor. That is the intention, though. All of the games are simple arcade affairs. Sometimes too simple - looking at you dodgeball. Where this game does shine is in the different courts/fields/locales/arenas. Call them what you will, but there's some REALLY good ideas here. Divide each volleyball side into 9 and play tic-tac-toe, where three in a row gets you extra points? It's here. Coins to add to points scored in all events (or add power in dodgeball)? Check. Well-implemented items like green shells? Yup. Score multipliers? Random hazards? Petey Pirahna acting as a replacement basketball hoop and gobbling down basketballs? Check, check, and check. They usually only have items, coins, and one gimmick per arena. At least one arena per sport has no gimmicks, if you wanna skip all that jazz, too. The addition of some unlockable Final Fantasy characters is a nice addition, and every character has either a power, balanced, technique stat distribution to make team building at least somewhat of a choice. However, they don't play that differently in execution. Also, in non-star cups/non sports mix cups, the AI just eats glue. In hockey, you can just sit in a corner and face the wall to run out the clock, and your opponents won't do much, if anything. They'll just skate around. Overall, what you get are four oversimplified sports games that don't feel as fluid or fast as other standalone arcade-style sports offerings, but Mario Sports Mix makes up for it with some absolute banger ideas for courts. With friends, this could be a whole helluva lot of fun, but my rating represents a single-player experience. IMO, this might be a bit underrated in the spectrum of Mario Sports games. 7/10
  12. For the first time in 8 years, I booted up my Wii U to beat Castlevania Judgment. I'm honestly surprised my Wii U still worked since it's been sitting so long. I guess that's the good news. The bad news is that Castlevania Judgment felt more at home being compared to the PS1 fighters I've been playing than any of its 2009-era contemporaries. As a Soul Calibur-esque fighting game, this game came out after SoulCalibur IV, meaning it had plenty of other good examples that came before it. What we got, though, was: A mostly two-button fighting game with a comparable moveset to PS1 fighters. Characters with one special move, which is executed with a single button press after a bar is filled up. A fighting game that seems to have been made for the Wiimote and Nunchuck combo, with somewhat baffling button assignments on the classic controller and Gamecube controller. Poorly balanced characters. Arena hazards that your character will lock onto if they're closer to them than the opponent, including zombies that follow and damage you. An...interesting, Hot-Topic-adjacent redesign of some of Castlevania's most beloved characters. Other Wii fighting games, like Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, added Wii motion and still provided comparatively deep fighting systems, but that's not what you get here. Other gripes are that the story mode plays like an arcade mode, and Arcade mode plays like the story mode minus the opening cutscene. More or less, the cutscenes are the same in both and little is added in Story mode. Overall, while this is certainly a better and more polished effort than say, Dynasty Warriors on the PS1, the 12 years between their release makes this game much more disappointing. The contemporary reviews more or less got right. It's a 5.5/10 for me.
  13. Over the weekend, I beat Klonoa: Door to Phantomile for the PS1, which included rescuing all the villagers and beating the secret level. Aside from the somewhat hit and miss controls when grabbing and then immediately jumping with the enemy in midair, this is a very, very solid 2D platformer. Even then, the control issues don't really show themselves until the secret level, which is a timed challenge. The game oozes charm, has a really good OST, and has great level design. None of the levels overstay their welcome, and, while there are some harder to find villagers/NPCs, they're never so hard to find that you need to look up a guide to find them. You can grab enemies and throw them down to double jump, forwards and backwards to attack at greater range, or towards or away from the screen to hit switches or other things in the foreground and background. Doing so much with one mechanic is what really makes this game shine. Story-wise, it's good. What narrative they do weave into the game is well written, and there are some surprises along the way. Overall, it's a fun game that has aged well. 9/10
  14. Continuing the gauntlet of PS1 fighters, I've beaten several more since I last reported in. I will say that when I'm giving grades to games, I try to think of how they grade against other games released at the time as well as how playable and enjoyable they are today. More on that later. Dead or Alive—DOA does an interesting job establishing the franchise and several of its most notable characters. However, with only 11 characters compared to 18 in the first Tekken, relatively flat arenas with explosive floors insead of walls or other hazards, a slower speed to the action in general compared to DOA games, and clunky movement, it's tough to say it was the best 3D fighter on the PS1. On the other hand, the hefty moveset for each character and very different playstyles for each character definitely make each stand out, and unlocking some of the characters can take a very long time, so this game offers lots of replayability (for better or worse). 7/10. Tekken 3—In the eternal battle of "Street Fighter, Tekken, DOA, or <some other major fighting franchise>," I feel like it just depends on the era and the iteration. For this showdown, I think Tekken 3 is better than the first DOA game because it feels more deliberate and accurate. The fighting and combos take a bit of getting used to for those used to Street Fighter, but they make sense in time. Character models look pretty good, although maybe not as good as DOA, and there are almost twice as many characters as DOA, all with reasonably unique play styles. As far as basic attacks go, neither game did the best job leading them into other combos. Tekken's more about juggling and looking for openings, and DOA is more about countering, knowing your opponent, reaction speed, and baiting them into a specific move. But, in the end, Tekken 3 has more polish and more fluid gameplay than DOA. 7.5/10. Street Fighter Alpha 2—However...if I were to choose one of the big three, I'd say Street Fighter Alpha 2 might be the best fighting game of the generation...An absolute banger of a game. Certainly the best I've played so far. Smooth gameplay, great sprites and graphics, and tons of characters. From the arcade port, the PS1 version is only missing a few frames from intro and background animations, but otherwise is intact. This game also represents a transition between the more precise combo requirements of the SNES games and the more forgiving combo requirements of newer iterations. However, it's missing more frames than the Saturn version, and the Saturn version has more characters, making it not the definitive version. Shockingly, the Saturn is, even to this day because the 30th Anniversary Collection includes the arcade version and not Gold. This is the best playing classic Street Fighter game I have played to date. 9.5/10. Dynasty Warriors—Hey, did you know the first Dynasy Warriors game was a 3D fighter? Well, it's a slow one at that with delayed movement. The characters are straight out of the Romance of the three Kingdoms, and all have weapons with various amounts of range. Hit detection with those weapons, however, is suspect at times, especially with polearms. You also seem to have invincibility frames when getting up, so lying on the ground and then getting up when the opponent is about to attack you is a legit strat for free damage. For the most part, combos are simple and Tekken-ish in nature. There are a good amount of moves as well as relatively good combos, albeit slow. Some characters ended up being quite fun, like Xu Zhu, who uses a ball on the end of a stick to more or less lollipop people to death. Overall, while not a standout on the console, Dynasty Warriors is an interesting curiousity that does enough well to still be playable in 2024, but shows its age more than one would hope. 6.5/10. Asuka 120% Final Burning Fest—So, this is a 2D fighting game about various girls trying to keep their clubs open…or something? It's about high school and clubs. Google Translate struggled to read the text because they put the autoscrolling white text over white school uniforms and white characters. Anyway, they all must fight to win a prize and then fight a teacher or something. A unique thing about this game is that there's three ways to win the fight. Everyone has a health bar and a stamina bar. If the health bar goes all the way down, you lose. However, if you deplete the opponent's stamina bar ("downing" them), that's counts for more than having less health than your opponent at rounds' end. If neither are knocked out or downed, it all comes down to who has more health. So, this game is obviously geared towards attacking, spamming, and juggling. When your special bar reaches 120%, you can even spam specials for a limited time. There's also a parry system, but it's not balanced very well and doesn't interrupt combos. So, characters like Nana who have a spinning fan attack that hits 10 times will have a few hits parried and then the rest will hit. This leads to this game essentially being a button masher with some light Street Fighter combos thrown in. It's fast, it's smooth, and it's accessible, but due to the lack of iframes and pushback, it becomes cheese-able. I think with a slightly deeper or well-thought out system, it could have been a really great game, but it falls short for what it is. 7/10. In addition to these, I played some others and wasn't a big enough fan to finish them. That, or burnout is real: Ergheiz—A full 3D fighting game that's actually closer to something like Power Stone in movement. I didn't give this one much of a spin, but it seems at least worth returning to if for no other reason than Tifa, Cloud, and Sephiroth are playable charcters. Is it great, though? I have my doubts. King of Fighters 99—This game is fine, but I'm just not the biggest fan of early KOF games. This one has a neat team mechanic that later ones do, but I just don't like how characters tend to play or control. I know this is a popular series, but it's probably my least favorite of the big franchises on the whole. Lightning Legend—A very, VERY strange 3D fighter in both content and gameplay. Blocking sometimes works unless you're the opponent and there aren't many moves. Everyone also moves like action figures. Jank. Evil Zone—Another very janky fighter for similar reasons to Lightning Legend. Shiritsu Justice Gakuen Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2—AKA Rival Schools 2. This one was enjoyable and probably better than at least DOA, but burnout is real. I'll revisit this one at some point. I've played lots of fighters in the past couple years, and, collectively, I think that the PS1/Saturn might be the worst era for fighting games to date. There were very few competent 2D fighters, and the 3D fighters were all some degree of janky, slow, or both. That includes the big names like DOA or Tekken. Sure, I gave some of the PS2 fighters like Mai-Otome Hime: Otome Butou Shi a 5.5, but I'd choose that game over almost every game I put down on the PS1 and even a number of fighters I finished on the PS1. At least Mai Otome has smooth action and resonsive characters. I think the next worst might be the SNES/Genesis era. It cannot be overstated how much fighting games on the whole have improved since the the year 2000. Aside from a few standouts, I find it hard to consistently recommend anything pre-2000 that doesn't have "Capcom" on the front of the box or case. Even then, YMMV.
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