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Blacklightning

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Everything posted by Blacklightning

  1. if fox is pronounced focks does that mean a fox is in fact made out of multiple fock

  2. Nack, or Fang?

    1. Strickerx5
    2. Your Vest Friend
    3. Ryannumber1gamer
    4. Zaysho

      Zaysho

      I like Nack

    5. Milo

      Milo

      Fang

    6. Sonictrainer

      Sonictrainer

      Nack the Fanged Sniper

    7. Supah Berry

      Supah Berry

      I tend to unconsiously edge towards Fang, even if feel it's understablely an overly edgy name and Nack I admit is more fitting.

      On a releted note, why do both he and Bean not follow the "Name, The Animal" scheme, why does his other name call him a weasel, and why the hell is he actually a jerboa wolf hybrid?

    8. Diogenes

      Diogenes

      i like to think of nack as his actual name and fang as his self-chosen code name, because he's a dork like that.

    9. Soniman

      Soniman

      Nack: Fanged Sniper 

    10. Solister

      Solister

      Fang. Grew up with it and can't stop associating Nack with Neck.

    11. AWild No.1 washed up gamer

      AWild No.1 washed up gamer

      Fang all the way.

      His theme song just screams it.

       

    12. Cuz

      Cuz

      I look to the naming conventions with Tails, and Robotnik and consolidate.

      Miles "Tails" Prower,

      Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik,

      Nack "Fang" the Weasel. 

      Because I'm banal like that. 🙃

      Edit: so yeah what Diogenes said; I turn Fang into a Nick or Handle.

    13. Blue Blood

      Blue Blood

      I think I tend to go for Nack because it rolls off the tongue more easily, but I'm just as accustomed to Fang. I'd honestly never think twice about it.

    14. AWild No.1 washed up gamer

      AWild No.1 washed up gamer

      Tails is the prowler?

      His name is miles after all I guess.

  3. ...why did snakes get associated with liars and deceivers originally, anyway?

    1. Teoskaven

      Teoskaven

      Genesis, the snake is essentially an emissary or an aspect of Lucifer wanting revenge against God by tainting Adam and Eve.
      I can imagine the thought process was that since snakes are naturally dangerous and common in the regions of the middle east, they applied this concept to warn people and teach lessons to children back then.

    2. Blue Blood

      Blue Blood

      I would hazard a guess also that it's  Biblical. But then you could also ask where those authors got the idea from.

  4. I'm not really sure why you wrote all of that up as if that tiny throwaway sentence at the end of my post was in response to you. I even specifically singled out 06's handling of it, not yours, so I'm really confused as to how you took anything I said that personally. But fine, if we're comparing notes anyway: That is quite literally what telekinesis is. If throwing oneself and others around with the power of the mind somehow doesn't fulfill that definition, I'm honestly not sure else you could be looking for. In fact it almost sounds to me like you're trying to describe an entirely different power, because a lot of what you're describing is centred more around the simple defiance of gravity than what telekinesis is as a concept. I guess fair point if you'd rather Silver played like that? I'm not saying it doesn't sound like fun - I just think it's kind of silly to blow smoke about what the "feeling" of telekinesis is supposed to be, already an incredibly subjective thing in the first place, and then somehow manage to be factually wrong about it too. It would have been so much simpler just to agree to disagree.
  5. I've been over this before, but the tl;dr version is that a good Sonic moveset prioritizes mobility above all else. Preferably you want to be able to both move and attack with the same move, but under no circumstances do you ever sacrifice mobility for it because it makes gameplay feel incredibly janky from a Sonic standpoint. Even if it ever manages to be good of its own merits, it will always beg the question of why the fuck you would ever choose a Sonic game to do it in, because Sega has plenty of other beat-em-up franchises that could stand to benefit from the inspiration. Silver in 06 is a failing in every one of these fields, and yet it's difficult to abandon it completely because it's a big part of his identity and frankly, still what most people remember him for. The best compromise that comes to mind is just to make him a Klonoa expy - have him telekinetically grab and pull enemies to him with one button press, and then either jump to use them as a platform or surf them to gain lateral distance depending on the needs of the level design. Maybe let him keep his 06 hover if there's nothing nearby to grab, although I wouldn't make it bring you to a sudden stop every time you use it. That shit's annoying.
  6. This is more what i was referring to. Kirby's had a lot of spinoffs, sure, but there's usually a substantial amount of its iconography and mechanics intact enough to justify calling it a Kirby game, and it was clear from a glance that they were built from the ground up with him in mind. Without Kirby's face in Epic Yarn, you probably couldn't tell they were related. The mechanics are fine, but they're as alien to Kirby as Doki Doki Panic was to Mario, and it can be kind of a bad habit where Nintendo are concerned. It's actually in large part because of the icy reception I had with Epic Yarn that I skipped over them, honestly. Especially because it was drawing the spotlight further from Fluff, who is honestly an interesting character who could stand to be seen and explored more, and because Yoshi didn't really feel like he had a "main" game since the N64 so humouring more of the wooly stuff felt like a bad idea. I dunno, maybe I'll give it a shot eventually, but I have a gut feeling I'd only enjoy it marginally more than i did Epic Yarn. Aaaaaand with that, the list draws to a close. Today's the last sprite. And honestly, I think I feel a little frustrated more than anything, because this has been a steady habit for almost a year and now I need to find something else to do to occupy my time. Maybe it's about time I thought about time I started trying to actually animate something, cos I started this list with the intention of being able to make a game someday and that intention definitely hasn't changed. Maybe I'll come back to this thread later to give a few awards to certain games, maybe eventually I'll put everyone together into one group picture like I originally intended. Eh, no point dwelling on shit I'll probably end up doing as spontaneously as this project started. So I guess I'll just say thanks to those of you who have been staying tuned all these months, and finish off with: Hobo (Jazzpunk) "Comedy" games usually elicit a huge groan from me. It's not uncommon for a game to establish itself as nothing more than a basic concept and a name and try to claim it's funny based on that alone, like what happens every 4-8 years when the internet has a new president to make fun of: "OooOOOooOOO lEt'S pUt ObAmA iN a ZoMbIe SuRvIvaL gAme" and then not doing anything else beyond making a functional zombie survival game that just happens to star an unusual main character. Even games that attempt to tell actual jokes tend to fall flat a lot because as it turns out comedy is a very difficult and subjective that tends to be found fairly rarely in people who program and design for a living. Even when you directly involve people who can make genuine jokes in their own medium, it matters a lot less in a videogame because good videogame humour is told through subverting the expectations its own mechanics create, not just telling it through dialogue and cutscenes, which is something that career comedians in other mediums tend to struggle a lot with. Even Stick of Truth and Fractured But Whole, despite modestly good and honest attempts in weaving the two together, tend to fall flat on delivery a lot bar a handful of honestly brilliant outliers. These are none of the words I would use to describe Jazzpunk. Jazzpunk is simply put, the funniest god damn game I've ever played. It may essentially be a walking simulator in all but name, but it constantly subverts expectations with all the mechanics and situations it does give you, and is always keen to reward you with more for looking around. You can get all the way through the intro and the first mission in under two minutes if you really wanted to, but you won't because they pack a RIDICULOUS amount of gags into such a tiny space, even going as far as to provide sidequests that don't give any material award and don't need to because the gag is its own reward. Hell, even the way your character interacts with the world on an incredibly basic level can still make for a convenient gag every now and then, such as how your character reacts to falling from a great height. As usual, trying to refrain from giving specific examples here, because genuinely funny games are best experienced with as little context as possible, just like genuinely well written games are, because honestly both are two sides of the same coin anyway. There isn't a whole lot I can bring myself to complain about. One could say that there's an overall lack of direction, but sometimes the gag is that you can interact with a specific object or NPC at all so honestly, providing any more direction than the game gives you like highlighting interactable objects might end up taking something out of the humour instead. There are occasions where they'll play the same joke more than once over multiple locations in the same level, and as much as I can appreciate the dedication necessary to make a full fledged Quake 3 clone complete with functioning AI for a single gag it definitely left me feeling frustrated that I kept re-opening it over several different places expecting something else to happen. And honestly, your player character could stand to be a lot faster than they are right now, partly because it takes too long to get anywhere and partly because that could have led to other gags of its own. On the whole though, Jazzpunk is consistently hilarious slapstick almost all the way through, and there are very, VERY few games I can say that about. It's definitely a game everyone should play once if they have the ability to, even if it won't bite the same way on subsequent playthroughs. It's just that brilliant at what it does. And that's a wrap! I'll try to fix the rest of the broken links on previous pages whenever I get a moment, but thanks again to everyone who's been keeping track of this stupid project all the while!
  7. Prince Fluff (Kirby's Epic Yarn) It isn't hard to see what Epic Yarn was going for here - it's a game themed around soft things, scored with a minimalistic, largely solo piano soundtrack, sports absolutely no fail state and is narrated entirely by one guy who is clearly trying to run an impression of a very young English children's show. I understand what they were going for - I just don't like it very much. And okay, picking on a game clearly meant for people much younger than me is obviously kind of a cheap shot, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to find value in its design decisions. Key among them being its philosophy on difficulty. Now if you're anything like I was when it first came out, you're probably asking "what difficulty? Didn't you just say there's no way to die in this game?", and honestly, you'd be right to ask. Even falling into a bottomless pit just has the game lift you back up onto a nearby platform. The basic idea is that your end of level rank is determined by how many beads you collect in the course of any given level, and taking a hit or falling off the screen causes you to drop some. From the outside, it looks like it tries to tap into the same kind of magic that Kirby's Dreamland had - people of any skill level can play it, and none of them are entirely left out. Avoiding damage is one thing, but I find it difficult to consider obsessively hunting hundreds of meaningless pickups engaging, let alone enough of a measure of the player's skill to grade them on it. It's pretty much the same problem I have with most TT Lego games - most of the time it just feels aimless in its design and hoarding shit for hoarding's own sake, although even the Lego games at least left you SOME reward for it that wasn't just a shiny medal. And I dunno, just in general I feel like it really fucks with the perceived stakes of any given game when you literally cannot lose it, and I liked it better when Dreamland simply just gave you an alternate, much harder mode instead for those left wanting more after the first playthrough. To make a statement that's less controversial though, this is one of those kinds of games any franchise of decent legacy seems to inevitably get. You know the type - your Super Mario Bros 2's, your Starfox Adventures's, your Metroid Prime Federation Force's and your Castlevania Lords of Shadow's. It's a game that has absolutely no business being a Kirby title, but gets thrust with the name and face of it anyway just for brand recognition and an incredibly vauge resemblance. Credit where credit's due, it's astonishingly smooth and well animated in gameplay, is a unique concept in its own right and as far as I can tell, works just fine with its actual intended audience. Did Nintendo really not have enough faith in those things for it to be able to hold up based on its own merits? This was a Wii title after all, right at the height of the public impression that they were ultimately for kids above all else, and I can't imagine it would have fared much worse if it'd sold on Prince Fluff's likeness instead. For me personally though, I just find it kind of dull once I get past its visual style. There is certainly room for difficulty without fail states, but it requires difficulty to be based on something other than tedium as a punishment, and this ain't it.
  8. Marx (Kirby Superstar / Superstar Ultra) I skipped on this originally because in all essence, it's a minigame collection. However, it remains THE Kirby game for a lot of people and is weirdly iconic because of it, so I guess my arm has been twisted. While Superstar does have minigames of the most literal kind, most of them are simply just... games that are minature in scope. They all share the overwhelming majority of core mechanics between them, to the point that I wonder why they didn't just stitch them together into chapters of the same ~2 hour long game. I don't know what compelled Sakurai to make a game in this style, but its influence would still remain in the franchise for years, if not in dividing games into bite sized chunks then to spend time on unnecessary fluff, to the point that at least one of them - notably Mass Attack, off the top of my head - honestly feels like more minigame than actual game. And although it wasn't the game that introduced it, Superstar was also many people's introduction to the Copy ability, so I feel like I have to vent about its caveats too. Simply put, a lot of them operate on completely different control schemes and their full functionality isn't usually immediately evident to the player, which in a game of this kind I feel like is a failing of the designers when every new ability you find requires you to pause and examine a moveset for tricks you may have missed like it's an incredibly low budget fighting game. If it were just more obscure abilities for flashiness's sake and absolutely nothing else, like it is in the case of say, Yoyo's Gazer Spiral, I wouldn't mind so much. But many levels require you to, for example, hit enemies or switches right through solid walls, and the ability of some copies to do that - like Jet, that can create a shockwave by cancelling a fully charged boost mid-flight - are never really demonstrated to the player in any form outside of that god damned movelist. Kirby games never really let go of this habit, in fact they often double down and make movesets more complicated while still requiring you to break flow and constantly pause to figure out how that shit works. I'm not saying giving a copy ability more moves is a bad thing necessarily, just that they could stand to be teaching them more by example than by a generic fucking list in the pause menu, which is only a touch less lazy than one of these: There's also balance and usefulness concerns in general with copies, but I'd be going all fucking day if I had to talk specifics. So let's just move past that and talk about the individual games themselves: - Spring Breeze is basically just a SNES remake of Kirby's Dreamland, a game that didn't even have copy abilities. So what concessions do they make for it? The answer is none - it's almost exactly the same bosses and levels the original game had, just with copy-able enemies scattered throughout it. Predictably, this wrecks most of the original game's design, which were built around the idea that you'd have to use certain attacks against them - imagine Lololo and Lalala, which once required you to suck up the boxes they were pushing around, and just fucking shooting them right through it instead. It doesn't work, and it's no surprise it's the easist game in the list because of it. - Dynablade is more in line with what I feel like Spring Breeze should've been - the bosses are designed with the copy ability in mind, but sucking wind and using their own projectiles against them is still an option for those who want to self-impose doing it the way Kirby's Dreamland would have. I just wish some bosses would have put more thought into that than "they hit the ground and create a star, and that innocuous looking star can be sucked up and spat out". I said it all the way back in the Kirby's Dreamland writeup, but it still makes no sense to me. - Gourmet Race almost feels like an afterthought, honestly. I'm sort of tempted to say doing well depends on knowing the level design ahead of time, but frankly you're only ever going to unintentionally lose at most one out of the scant three races it gives you. Most people nowadays only ever know it as a backing track for Super Smash Bros. - Great Cave Offensive is interesting in that the whole thing is just one long level with no stops or pauses involved. Even though it's largely linear, nothing is stopping you from going backwards or forwards through the game as you please, which you may feel incentivized to do because the game also features collecting hidden treasures as a side objective. I just wish they contributed to literally anything besides a number going up - you don't even get an alternate ending based on how much treasure you get, which feels like a huge cop out. On the plus side though, it has some of the better bosses of the compilation, including Computer Virus, which is just like... one of the most fucking unique boss concepts ever? Seriously, that shit merges genres together and has absolutely no right to work as well as it does. - I dunno what else to say about Revenge of Metaknight that I haven't said about the others, beyond that Metaknight and his goons give silly commentary while Kirby is wrecking their shit and I like it as a storytelling device that none of the other games have - and honestly even in modern Kirby games, tends to get neglected. - Milkyway Wishes is the big motherfucker of the bunch, and the one that will take the longest to finish, especially if like Great Cave Offensive you do it for completionist's sake. Your copy ability is disabled completely, and instead you have to find them one at a time through planets in the game's overworld, which are really just arranged versions of tropes you've already been to and bosses you've already through. I... really don't like this, honestly? Because it essentially means they no longer have to intelligently make level design around the enemies they place in it and the copies you would otherwise need to find specific secrets, and it shows. It also means you have to pause the game completely and tediously flip through every copy ability one at a time if you need a specific one or had it knocked out of you by damage, which is possibly the least elegant solution they could have used. So in closing? It's fine. It's overrated as hell, and really didn't need to be a minigame collection, but despite all the gripes I've displayed they're relatively minor optimizations in the grand scheme of things. Speaking of optimization, holy shit did the SNES version always run that badly? I swear the framerate basically halves whenever you use a Beam attack and I didn't realize it was that bad until I looked back in hindsight.
  9. Faith (Mirror's Edge) Platforming in most first person games is usually kind of an afterthought - a thing you put into a game as a moment of levity between shooting scenes without regard for whether or not the game is built to work well with it. Although there may be other games I'm not accounting for, Mirror's Edge is to this concept what Wolfenstein was to FPSs as a genre, the game from which most later games of its type draw direct influence from. To wit, Faith isn't just a character that is permanently upright, jumping from box platform to box platform - she is constantly flowing and changing in state, sporting wall runs and wall jumps and slides, rolls, vaults and climbs specific to most of the kinds of objects you can find scattered all around the rooftops, making this very much an inversion of what first person games typically tend to be: the combat is the afterthought, the one thing you're expected to avoid any opportunity you're given simply to finish the levels as fast as possible. Well, almost any opportunity. We'll get to that. While this is flashy as all hell, it also brings to light a key reason why most first person games don't take platforming seriously - simply put, you can't see your fucking feet most of the time. Those being, the point of which your model needs to make contact with a physical surface in order to not be falling. If you can't SEE that, it's very difficult to gauge when the best opportunity to jump is going to be, especially when a missed jump will almost always result in a death. This is honestly such a fundemental problem with first person platforming that honestly, I don't know if I could ever conceive of of an elegant solution to the problem besides taking player input out of the equation entirely ala Ocarina of Time and just making the player character jump automatically when running at a ledge, which kinda seems like a cop out. I think it's also kind of telling that Mirror's Edge highlights climbable and jumpable objects in red - which don't get me wrong, is a fantastic mechanic and can be turned off if people find it distracting - but even WITH that still makes routing unusually difficult on occasion. I swear I was stuck at the elevator climbing section near the end of the game for ages because it doesn't present you with a clear way forward in any direction, and attempting ANYTHING wrong will cause death from plummetting down the elevator shaft and leave you fuming over yet another loading screen as the game needs to reinitialize everything for some reason. Neither of these things tend to happen much when viewing your character model from the outside, where seeing yourself in relation to the environment and having a broad view of said environment is exactly where platforming of this kind usually thrives best. Doing it in first person looks cool, but it's a self-imposed restriction that the game can function better without. And then there's combat. In most situations, you're the only person without a gun, so actively going out of your way to take out pursuers is usually a very bad idea. Sometimes you can catch an enemy isolated and close distance in time before they notice, but even then you'll usually have to take them out by disarming them rather than attacking directly, which is a counterattack to them trying to butt you with their weapon, the timing for which tends to be either misleading or downright draconian. There ARE moves that do a better job of taking out enemies directly whenever you aren't just shooting at them (which you probably won't be, because time spent shooting isn't time spent moving and there's an achievement for not killing anyone anyway), but they're mystifyingly obscure and tend to require a very specific set of circumstances that frankly, you usually won't have time to acknowledge in time for them to be useful, such as jump kicking off of a wall run or landing on an enemy from a great height. Even when you DO try and perform them intentionally, they tend to require a lot of precision, certainly more than the consoles they were designed for could muster. Why am I bringing this up at all if the objective is to run most of the time? Because at least one section in the game REQUIRES you, for no explained reason, to take out every enemy pursuing you before you can progress, thanks to the insistence of our favourite dumbass executives at EA who thought they knew better than the people who were actually putting it together. Unsurprisingly, despite its faults, Mirror's Edge has a pretty robust speedrunning community, and even has inbuilt time trials for people looking to test themselves on it. I remember thinking the par times were kind of extreme in that you can't always reach them without outside perspective on how to route them, but I suppose that's part of the brilliance of modern speedrunning - that it's a cooperative experience of sharing strats and pooling together how things could potentially be optimized. It's a good game all in all. Just expect to slip from rooftop edges a lot because you thought you were still in contact with them.
  10. Doesn't it? Although Super Sonic tends to be the most extreme example of it, at least as far as specifically designed final bosses for it are concerned, most Sonic games introduce weird, gameplay altering gimmicks on a stage-by-stage basis all the time. S3&K alone has Marble Garden (spintop), Lava Reef (spindash elevators) and Death Egg (inverted gravity), among a host of smaller examples we take for granted because their applications are concisely demonstrated the first time you interact with them, such as the big rotating pillars you grab hold of in Carnival Night. I would honestly go as far as to suggest the concept of a Super Sonic finale is itself a stage specific gimmick in this regard, and despite not functioning as platformers really aren't as out of place as a lot of people are suggesting. As far as "super challenging final Super boss that tests fundementals rather than adaptability", I feel like you'd have to rethink the concept of Special Stages to go through with it, at least if they're still a requirement - so that they too test the same fundementals that the final boss will later use against you. I'm not against that per se? I just think the system we have works fine too, and either option can work. Oh, well when you put it that way, I'd say the best ones in the series really aren't all that different to what you're suggesting? S3&K's is almost completely self-explanatory, SA1's is basically just the existing gameplay repackaged, and SA2's is structured in a way that uses its own self-contained learning curve - all three aren't terribly complicated and use their spectacle to sell themselves in complexity's absence. Am I understanding correctly that this is exactly what you're after? Absolutely. I'm entirely aware it was kind of a Thermian argument - I was just genuinely curious what people would do in the absence of the traditional Super Sonic mixup, and I appreciate that anyone bothered to humour me on this.
  11. Let me be clear first of all - there are definitely cases throughout the series where this much is 100% true. '06 and Unleashed in particular rank among the worst of the worst for this very reason, because they're huge departures from everything the player has experienced up to that point and often need more time to adapt to than the game gives you. There are also clear exceptions to the rule in SA1 and Heroes, in that they are the same prior gameplay in all but aesthetics and an extra dash of scale added to them. That being said, I feel like making this a single issue argument of learning curves is kind of reductive, and misses the bigger picture of why some of my favourite super fights work as well as they do in spite of this. Which I'm just going to come right out and say are S3&K's and SA2's Super bosses. The first point is one you all but made yourself: as far as Doomsday Zone is concerned, Super Sonic is a reward. A bonus. Something you really have to go out of your way to unlock. To even get there in the first place you have to go through the Special Stages, which are themselves non-standard and stand in stark contrast to the core of Sonic's normal gameplay. In this respect, they synergize surprisingly well - to unlock Doomsday Zone is to display that you already have a tolerance for gameplay fundementals that can shift unexpectedly, so the shift from platformer to pseudo-schmup can't really phase anyone that's been through a minimum of seven rounds of 3D auto runner. Likewise, anyone who finds Doomsday Zone's gameplay shift distasteful is more than likely ignoring the Special Stages required to get to it anyway, so they don't have a chance to be turned off by it. Both spectrums of players get exactly what they asked for, and both are satisfied. Secondly, and probably more importantly: they're really not all that complex? Either they're so simple that the gameplay switch almost immediately speaks for itself (seriously, who could play Doomsday Zone and be tripped up with the expectation of pressing a direction to move in that direction?), or they're structured in such a way that the player's own actions form the learning curve needed to master it WHILE they're fumbling around with it. And it's in this respect that Finalhazard, whether accidentally or intentionally, is actually kind of a stroke of genius. One of the first things the player learns while experimenting is that their jump and spin buttons cause them to fly upwards and downwards respectively on the Y axis, but they also cause you to keep drifting in that direction when triggered. So players will often keep floating up and down in rhythm to try and keep themselves level with their target as well to avoid incoming lasers and hazards - and it's through this behaviour that the player discovers, completely incidentally, that either if not both of these buttons also function as a pseudo Homing Attack once they're actually in range of the Biolizard's weak spot. So the diversion from Sonic's core mechanics doesn't even need to matter if you understand what a typical player's behaviour is going to be and use that to coach them into figuring out exactly what they need to be doing and only testing them on it once they grasp it. This is what a good learning curve should already be doing anyway - just that most games don't pack it all concisely into the span of a couple of minutes like SA2's final boss does. Thirdly, mostly just out of morbid curiosity: how exactly do you do a boss battle of this nature any other way? Much of the time you can't just take Sonic's gameplay verbatim and plonk them unchanged into these confrontations because they're spaces in which platforming gameplay has no opportunity to function - often literally they take place in the cold vaccuum of space, beyond any semblance of gravity or solid surfaces to push your feet off of. Even when the final bosses are terrestrial in nature - like they were in Unleashed and Heroes - the whole thing is just a big void with a giant thing in the middle to approach and beat the shit out of. And even Adventure 1, which is an exception to both of these, has no way to test your platforming chops anyway - the whole thing is just moving in a straight line and occasionally weaving slightly to the left if a projectile approaches you. I realize I'm saying this otherwise as a advocate of characters that are consistent enough with one another that they share a core set of fundementals rather than having to master entirely different genres between them, but a game need not be the same shit from start to finish just for consistency's sake alone. Even the best of them can mix things up every now and then, because they can display a sense of restraint and forethought that Sonic Team usually doesn't have time to engage in - like that one time they introduced an entirely new beam at the very end of Metroid Prime and left the onus on the player to figure out how to use it, if we're still using Metroid Prime examples. Because Quick TIme Events are quite rightly derided as lazy-ass non-gameplay in its absolute most distillied form - a crutch that incredibly bad game designers use when they can't be bothered either designing game mechanics to suit the narrative outcome, or using the desired narrative outcome to inform the emergence of gameplay mechanics. Final boss QTEs in particular are rightly derided as the biggest possible anticlimax a game can be short of detailing the aftermath in a plain text epilogue, and it's for many of the same reasons that the OP claims - because they themselves have no respect for any of the skills the player has built up over the course of the game and relegate the final blow of the game to a glorified game of Simon Says. We already did this in the ending of Sonic Unleashed, and nobody liked it. Why on earth is anyone even entertaining the thought of going back to that now?
  12. Red (Solatorobo) God, this is a game I wish I could hold in much higher regard than I do. The writing and worldbuilding is fantastic by any standpoint - like Traffic Department 2192, there's always a sense of anticipation for what comes next, and the whole "civilization in the sky" thing has always filled my mind with intrigue. But TD2192, for all its faults, doesn't beat about the bush more than it has to. This game on the other hand, is incredibly fucking slow paced, and filled to the brim with all manner of generic busywork typical of its genre. It's a game designed as an RPG yet had no real reason to be, and comes with all the same padding involved, obsessively bloating the game with side quests that really could have just gone into developing the actual story of the game instead. Even that I might not mind so much, if most of them weren't so god damned boring. The opening mission does a good job setting a pace for the rest of the game, so to go from that to moving fucking boxes around and hunting down torn up photos stolen by little kids feels like a massive misstep. I love the world of Solatorobo, really I do, but I've never actually finished this game because it bores the piss out of me, and there's just way too much fat to get through before getting to the actual meat of it. Even once you get past the sidequest bloat, however, its mechanics still leave a lot to be desired. I'll be honest, I do admire the bravery of making an action RPG predominantly based on grappling - it's a new and unproven approach to combat that doesn't tend to get explored much outside of the sphere of fighting games, and even THEN they usually aren't given this kind of importance. Imagine building up a collection of grapples and throws over the course of a lengthy ~15-20 hour long game, and then adapting them to the situation and your ability to chain them altogether... and then lament the fact that despite being styled as an RPG, sidequests, level ups and all, you never actually grow in any manner besides some numbers going up. Here's how fights unfold once you get a feel for the mechanics: you grab a dude and flip them, then grab them in midair and slam them against the ground, then do it again, and then do it again, then wait for them to hit the ground, grab them and flip them to repeat it all over again. That's the entire fucking gameplay loop of nearly every fight in the game. It isn't like even incredibly simple mechanics can't be exciting in their own right - we briefely touched apon that in the bosses section of the Sonic Rush writeup, after all - but there's just nothing here that can hold up the weight of a 15 hour long game by itself. There really needs to be more to it besides doing the exact same chaingrab combo over and fucking over again, and yet the completely arbitary overhaul the game goes through in its second half, if anything, arguably makes things worse because now the combos are shorter and you have to wait through lengthy scripted animations to play out all the while. That's really about all I have to say about it. Fantastic worldbuilding, great writing, but the gameplay is bland as all fuck. When I was researching this game though, I was pretty surprised to find that it's based on another game - Tail Concerto for the PS1. Is that any good? I might think about giving that a shot sometime if the worldbuilding is anywhere near as good as this.
  13. Sader Fiasco (Heat Signature) Remember how I vaugely alluded to another game during the Superhot writeup? This is that game. It doesn't exactly take Superhot's mechanics verbatim, but it does share a very similar focus in slowing or stopping time for the player's benefit, allowing them to play very carefully on how to deal with their current situation with the tools they have at their disposal - even if there are bullets already flying. It allows you to pause the game at any point and sort through your inventory at your leisure, and absolutely does not judge you for doing so. In fact, it's actively encouraged, and it opens up a whole host of incredibly badass and inventive solutions to problems you would ordinarily need to act extortionately quickly on. Bad guy turns around at the last second? Whip out a Stealth Shield and point it at them to apparently vanish from thin air. Guard fires a shot off while you're trying to stab them? Use a Swapper and warp him into the path of his own bullet. Need to take someone alive, but backup is closing in and blocking your exit route? Hurl yourself and your target out the fucking window - yes, into the cold, deadly vacuum of space - and then remotely pilot your boarding pod to catch both them and yourself before they suffocate to death. The crazy shit you can do in this game is amazing, and exactly the kind of angle Superhot should have taken besides just "shoot gun at red things". Missions have something of a roguelike focus in Heat Signature - every character starts with about two items of mediocre value, and have to build up to cooler and more useful ones over the course of a run - that "run" being to raise enough funds to unlock a personal mission for that character's end goal, of which forms my first real critique of this game. These missions are usually borderline suicidal in nature and tend to have at least one trait to them that requires heavily specialized gear or a lot of luck to tackle - most commonly armour that can only be breached by certain weapons, or shields that are completely immune to damage without a tool that can crash or hack them. These tools or weapons tend to be fairly rare and take a lot of investment to find, but you have no idea what kind of shit you're going to need until after you unlock your personal mission - and you're disincentivized from performing too many missions as one character because their influence starts to diminish after they reach a certain amount of fame, which is what you need to unlock gear in shops - the only other way to get specific tools besides finding them at complete random on enemy ships - and liberate stations which is the thing you need to do to progress on a broader scale than a by-character basis. The point is, if I almost absolutely NEED a certain tool to complete a specific mission at the end of an individual run, and that tool takes a while to get, why the fuck isn't it alluded to at the start of a run? Also if you play it long enough, you start to catch onto chinks in its armour and incredibly low tech ways to cheese it - most notably with ordinary ass wrenches, which you either start with or can obtain just minutes into any run. Melee weapons are great for taking out isolated targets because most of them can lunge at a target from several character lengths away and deck them nearly instantly, but they also have a cooldown time after every swing, which is supposed to disincentivize wading into a whole room of guards and trying to bash them all into unconciousness because you'll knock out one, at most two of them before they shoot you. However, that cooldown isn't for all usage of melee weapons - it's specific to every individual one, and if you have multiple melee weapons all the other ones are still usable if you swing one of them. Rooms like this are supposed to take careful planning, strategic tool usage or a lot of patience waiting for one of them to go on patrol and brain them while they're away from the group - but once you're keyed in on how these mechanics work, you can just bring 6 wrenches to every mission and juggle them like an idiot to knock out every last one of them before they can react. It's a really ridiculous exploit that was never patched when it feels like swinging melee weapons should have applied globally to every melee weapon in your inventory - at least that way the Shortblade, the weapon intended for rapid chain-stabbing of tightly grouped enemies, would see some actual usefulness for once. Irregardless, Heat Signature is pretty hard to put down once you get into a rhythm, and is one of those games that's really good at providing writing prompts for all the amazing shit you can pull off when you think you're backed into a corner. Just don't expect it to click right away - most people will die or get captured several times before they start to get it, and there's really no shame in not being John Wick the first time you pick it up.
  14. Arle and Tee (Puyo Puyo Tetris) This is a game I sorta felt obliged to try just on principle more than anything - Puyo Puyo was at the time a series that hadn't seen an english localization in literal decades, and fans of the series were rightly fucking miffed about that happening so consistently despite the obvious demand for it outside of Japan. And I'll be the first to admit that it will probably take a while to grow on you if you don't already play either Puyo or Tetris religiously, because there's a surprising amount to them despite what their appearances might suggest. It's not unheard of that some people won't even be able to finish the story mode without a lengthy break, with Ecolo being the one boss that essentially gatekeeps your ability to finish it all the way through to the end. Once you learn how T-spins and Puyo stairs work though, it almost feels like a completely different game, and despite being on the higher end of this spectrum for once I still feel like I have to point out that this is still kind of a flaw from a design standpoint. SRS - the system that enables unusual rotations like T-spins in the first place - is absurdly janky and poorly explained, forming such a ridiculous gulf between new and competent players that it's hard not to feel like it's encouraging some kind of elitism in its players, which is pretty much the same problem I have with fighting games that use cheat codes for standard moves. If you can complete the whole story and STILL feel out of the loop on all the obscure tricks and techniques needed to fight consistently well, something has gone horribly fucking wrong with your learning curve. All the same, there's something about the combination of Puyo Puyo and Tetris that sets the imagination ablaze. Nobody expected these two properties to have any synergy, much less enough to be able to get into fights with one another, but Sega makes it look incredibly easy by tapping into the one element both games have in common - sending garbage over to your opponent's board to force them to top out earlier than you. And there are a LOT of puzzle games that follow similar mechanics that are similarly popular, which makes me wonder if one could just say "fuck it", cram them all together into one title and make puzzle smash bros or some shit like that. That being said, even the balance between these two isn't perfect. Tetris players will generally dominate any given match because 1) They can Hard Drop, which sends their current piece to the bottom of the board instantly, 2) They can store a single piece for later to give them more options, 3) Puyo Puyo can do neither of these things, and 4) garbage in Tetris boards can be directly weaponized if you're good at keeping certain lanes clear. Worse still, the garbage system doesn't change depending on the puzzle system you're fighting, which is a MUCH bigger problem for Puyo than it is for Tetris - Puyo receives garbage from above which blocks off carefully constructed chains that they desperately need to trigger to survive, while Tetris receives theirs from below, which only pushes their already existing setup upwards to the point that they invented 4 Wide combos that allow them to survive and keep attacking even when most of their board is COMPLETELY FUCKING OFFSCREEN. And it's hard not to feel like most of the balancing issues could have been solved just by making Tetris players receive Puyo garbage on top of their board rather than below it, so they have to deal with the same punishments for actually receiving hits. There's a reason that IGN's insistence that the Tetris players are at a disadvantage has become a huge meme among most of the game's playerbase: To be totally honest, I got a lot more mileage out of this game casually more than anything else. If I was bored and had nothing else to play, I could always count on picking up PPT, booting up the survival mode and seeing how many AIs I could blow through before finally topping out (usually ending on Schezo, because holy shit how do you actually stop him from launching instakill chains). I just wish the game had a traditional arcade ladder to go through members of the cast in order of difficulty, because the survival modes repeat lower tier characters a LOT and I was kinda disappointed that the sequel didn't do anything of such - and if anything, somehow made the story mode even MORE confusing. And honestly, it's hard not to feel sometimes like the outcome of a fight will hinge on who triggers their combo first, because the overwhelming majority of matches will end less than a minute in on the very first intentional attack the victor launches. But I like PPT regardless. Now please do something more about it instead of just treading water, Sega.
  15. Mae and Gregg (Night in the Woods) Yeah fuck, I know, it's another one of those story driven games that I can't talk about much without spoiling the magic of it. That's an endorsement, not a critique. I think the only real critique I can give of it is that it's an incredibly slow burning narrative - you can easily be 3-5 hours into it before the main plot hooks of the game even START to become apparent, and a few hours more before you actually start becoming capable of acting on them. That being said, it's sort of a struggle to complain about it, because even casually NitW has a relatable charm to it that few other games of its type can manage, to the point that I honestly would not have complained if the entire storyline was composed of moments like them. Just a bunch of college dropouts hanging out trying to get by in a rust belt town, doing minigames for otherwise relatively mundane sounding stuff like feeding each other pastries or trying to haul a heavy box up some stairs. There's a truly ridiculous amount of dialogue to find at your own pace if you take it apon yourself to chat with every NPC every day, a lot of places in town to find and explore as your understanding of its nooks and crannies opens up, and it even has a game within the game which itself would have still been good enough to buy all on its own, much less as an optional side thing to do in a game like this. So yeah, it might be sort of underwhelming to do a one-paragraph writeup twice in a row, but just to emphasise it further - if I'm quiet about the story in a story driven game, it's because I feel story driven games are best experienced with the least amount of context possible and I have too much respect for it to spoil it for people who have yet to experience it in that way. Believe me, if a story-driven game was ever on the list because it was BAD at storytelling, I would have a LOT fucking more to say about it. NitW is a good story driven game. Go play it if you're looking for that.
  16. Niko (Oneshot) Once apon a time I played a game on Newgrounds called One Chance. It, like Oneshot, styled itself on the idea that despite any number of your choices affecting the outcome, it could only be played once and you had to live with your decisions once you were done with it. I thought this was pretentious garbage, but it wasn't until Oneshot that I could put into words why - it makes absolutely no attempt to make the player invested in its world, and by consequence no real attachement to its characters that make its consequences feel meaningful. And its consquences, for that matter, feel incredibly unfair because most of them aren't telegraphed in any meaningful capacity, and sometimes just straight up don't make any sense as was the case for my playthrough when I chose to play with the daughter only to find it wasted the entire fucking day without warning me beforehand, and then she ended up dying anyway even though she survives if you choose another option? All I'm telling you about Oneshot in advance is that it's an order of magnitude better in both of these respects. The rest is best experienced completely blind, preferably with a few hours of free time at your disposal. And yes, I know it's on Steam. I've yet to play the Steam version to know how it compares. That's my bad.
  17. Fish Sticker (Beglitched) Beglitched is a puzzle game that isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, and I think it's important that I be up front about that. The core focus of the game just isn't going to click with everybody who plays it, and its learning curve is very much sink or swim past a certain point - there are certain levels where you are just going to end up dying a lot, losing all progress and having to start the whole stage from scratch. It is without a doubt one of the most exhausting puzzlers I've played - at least, the most exhausting one on this list anyway (honestly, I would have put Jelly No Puzzle somewhere on it if I had more than a paragraph to say about it). So first of all I'll try and describe how this game plays on a basic level: first of all every stage has an overworld map that could generously be described as some kind of Minesweeper variation. Whenever you step on a tile, it shows you a bunch of symbols that correspond to rewards, exits, traps and occasionally services, but they don't correspond to the tile you're standing on - they correspond to the other tiles it's linked to, so much like Minesweeper you have to use a process of elimination to figure out which neighouring tile corresponds to the good shit before digging into it and risking blowing yourself up or resetting the current map. Even knowing exactly how the mechanics of this work, though, this STILL gets me mixed up every now and then and I end up digging into tiles like an idiot thinking that the shiny cash prize was for the one I was standing on. This is still only half the game, though, because these overworlds have enemies and encounters are fought off mostly in their own grids, which on first glance looks like some kind of Bejewelled clone. The short version is that you have to set off an explosion at the enemy's position on the grid to damage them, but nearly all enemies in the game are completely invisible - so not only do you somehow have to by some miracle align a bomb tile with the enemy's position, you have to find out where the fuck they ARE first to even begin to hope to make any actual progress, and I feel like a lot of people give up on Beglitched (Oh, Bejewelled? Beglitched? I only JUST got that) because they have trouble grasping just how to find an enemy that has no visible presence, and then on top of that only have a limited amount of turns to do so before THEY get damaged. You're expected to use a combination of two different tiles to hunt enemies down - one that shows the distance between it and the enemy when activated, and one that shows its general direction but is pretty much useless until you upgrade it - and cross reference the two to get a feel for the enemy's coordinates before you act on them. And this is before enemies start fucking MOVING between turns, and that's to say nothing of the boss fights which all have their own brand of assholery, with notable examples being one early on which instantly damages you if you try to use your detecting tools at all and an endgame tier one where your number of turns depends on how much you pay them and the fight immediately ends if they get a chance to attack. And I honestly don't blame anyone for giving up on this game, because goddamn, getting through bosses in this game can be a fucking achievement all its own. I think this game on the list more because I liked how the writing was starting to unfold in the mid to late game, and I honestly feel like its ending kinda wasted it. For obvious reasons, I'll be tagging this part. So in closing, you'll want to be playing Beglitched more because you see something in its mechanics and don't want it to beat you - anything less than that, and you probably won't enjoy it. Just be prepared for an anticlimax at the end if you do decide to see it all the way through.
  18. Nuru (Starbound) Once AGAIN, right off that bat - there's no fucking point to making a game world that's tremendous if you can't fucking fill it with anything of substance. Starbound boasts a literal universe's worth of planets to explore and only the most asinine reasons to ever even bother with it, because under their surface most of them are virtually identical and even on the surface most don't offer anything particularly interesting or unique. On a personal level, players will only ever have to find exactly one planet - one lined with soil that rains frequently, so they can leave crops to grow on it without their interference, and leave a flag / teleporter nearby so you can warp back to it between expeditions. So what reason, then, do you have to ever visit any other planet? Simply put, in spite of the focus on a procedurally generated universe, you still have story missions to fulfill that don't take place in any of them, rather in scripted, self-contained maps that are basically just generic platformer design by any other name. And to unlock those, you have to find specific kinds of stars, visit settlements in specific types of planets orbiting them, and... scan objects. That's it. That's the entire state of progression in Starbound: spend like an entire hour just scouring settlements for shit that makes numbers go up when you scan them, and then go on to engage in a platforming level completely divorced from the mechanics of a sandbox game. And I'm just wracking my fucking brain trying to contemplate how on earth anyone in Chucklefish decided this was the right thing to do for a genre that is by definition all about letting players do things their own way. Hey, here's a tip for free - just make the story areas physical fucking locations in the universe. At least that way, the journey becomes the actual focus again - your main objective becomes gaining enough fuel to make it to the next story planet or at the very least another solar system closer to it, and the Diablo-esque micromanaging of weapons, armour and tools becomes an incidental part of engaging with the populace and its commerce or looting dungeons in search of all the stuff you need to complete the journey itself. And if sequence breaking is really such a concern, just gate areas off behind upgrades you can only get through the story missions. It wasn't like you weren't already doing that with EPPs, just make certain kinds of blocks unbreakable without a digger upgrade and make most of them story rewards. Or do what Minecraft did and spread the ingredients you need to unlock a key area across several nearby planets. Fucking christ. These people had the tech to make a nearly infinite universe and completely wasted it on circumnavigating globes in search of shit to scan. What the fuck has the world come to that people ate this shit up? At the very least, Starbound is mechanically solid, though with Terraria as its obvious inspiration that's not a huge surprise. I think the one solid complain I have about it is its hotkey system. For most versions of the game, Starbound was defined by a strange dual wielding system - originally it meant selecting one primary tool normally and selecting a second one by holding a button down while using your mouse scroll wheel, which was incredibly strange and awkward to use and too clunky to fuck around with while you were getting your ass kicked about the place. Later updates switched to a system which makes every number binding a predefined combination of items that you can change around in your downtime and in which a two handed item occupies both hands (which is necessary because they have all have alternate modes, unlike the one handed versions). This SHOULD have been objectively the better system... except in doing so, they for no fucking reason at all stripped the hotkeys down from ten - one for each number on the keyboard - to six. It isn't like it's because they're lacking in HUD space, because there's still tons of empty space either side of it, so once again I'm left wondering how the fuck Chucklefish came to the conclusion that they had any reason to cut things down like this. There ARE mods that bring it back up to the full 10 slots again, so we already know it's not impossible. I've tried repeatedly to get back into this, but I've only played the game to completion once and every subsequent attempt has just bored the shit out of me, even with the incredibly generous Workshop support to add extra flavour and unfuck whatever Chucklefish managed to screw up. And much like Terraria, trying to add brand new content to a world balance that's already finished and unchangable doesn't really work all that well, most notably in the case of mechs which have very limited usefulness in planets and can't be brought into story missions at all, only seeing genuine use in space combat which serves no other purpose but to give you more mech upgrade material you already still can't use to meaningful capacity anywhere else. I dunno man, this feels like a game that should have gone back to the drawing board a LOT fucking earlier than this.
  19. Poncho (Quadrilateral Cowboy) You'd be right to think this look seems familar - this was made by the same guys behind Gravity Bone earlier, and shares a lot of the same visual and narrative stylings of it. I'm covering this as a separate entry because unlike all its predecessors, Quadrilateral Cowboy has actual objectives and fail states like, well, an actual videogame, instead of just being a vehicle for silent storytelling. Of course, it wouldn't be these guys if the concept wasn't still contrary for its own sake, so rather than anything that could be straightforward to make or play this game instead goes for something of a computer hacker emphasis in a first person heist setting - you carry a laptop around with you at almost all times, and you can use it to interact with digitally linked objects in the physical game world. The catch is that you have to specify each and every one of them manually through typing them down on a DOS-esque command prompt, learning to string commands together in a way that still gives you time to do everything that's needed because often you can only hold certain states in effect (like setting doors to open) for three seconds at a time without sounding an alarm, which carries severe time penalties and usually causes turrets to activate and kill you. Quadrilateral Cowboy is usually pretty good at weaning you into these restrictions and challenges at a gentle and steady pace. Many of the first 2-3 sets of heists have little to no opposition at all and all the time in the world to get used to the commands and the precision needed for the the gadgets they start introducing after every set of three heists, and you can straight up just noclip through the geometry to get a good idea of what to expect in the next room. But then the difficulty spikes SHARPLY once they introduce the "Case", an unfolding rifle that you deploy in the game world and aim/fire exclusively through command prompt, and this I feel is one area where the limitations of DOS prompt style manipulation starts to show. You don't use your mouse to aim it, or even the arrow / movement keys - you have to manually type out EVERY fucking aim adjustment through degrees of x and y rotation. Any time the Case is involved in a heist, you can bet that the first 5-10 minutes of it will be JUST fine tuning the aim to be able to nail a button on some distant wall you can't reach normally, and then setting it up to fire in a way that it won't leave you trapped after it goes off. The worst example of this is after they also introduce Blink, which basically just lets you manually blink and lets you assign a command macro to a certain number of blinks. There's a building you have to rob that you can't bring your laptop into, so in additon to the agonizing prep work with the case you ALSO have to prepare every command you could conceivably need in advance to be able to remotely manipulate all the buttons you need to push with the Case from the outside. And then just for one last dose of masochism, the objective you need to steal is linked to a pressure plate that sets off an alarm 10 seconds after it's triggered, so you THEN need to quickly need to flip through at least two different Blink macros in succession to escape in time and hope you don't fumble it in a panic and have to redo ALL OF THAT FUCKING PREP WORK COMPLETELY FROM SCRATCH AGAIN. Maybe I wouldn't have minded so much if this were an endgame mission where that kind of imposing difficulty would be right at home, as a test of everything you'd learnt up to that point rather than slap bang in the middle of the fucking game where you're still getting used to some of the gadgets given to you this heist and one or two of the previous ones. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this was a rage quit moment for a lot of people, because I sure was tearing my hair out over it for a while and it probably could have used another heist or two to ease some of the mechanics in separately. Come to think of it, it's a pretty short game in general - pretty long by the standards of Citizen Abel games, definitely, but most prior games were lucky if they lasted longer than 15 minutes. It does have a sparsely populated Workshop page if you want to try some extra heists, but unfortunately the map makers are even bigger masochists than the original game's and put you into some absolutely absurd and unforgiving puzzles that honestly, I'm convinced aren't worth it besides maybe El Sorrado Speedway. One thing's for sure, though - this game still carries on the spirit of narrative that Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving started, just this time they put some actual substance between scenes so you have to work for the rest of it. And even though I do wish it was longer, it's still a fulfilling game all the same. Just don't be afraid to use the help command to see what your options are, and have a convenient pillow to scream into whenever you have to deal with that fucking Case again.
  20. Andross (Star Fox Zero) God, I bet Kamiya really regrets casually letting slip that he wanted to work on a Starfox game now. The worst thing is, I really don't actually know whether to blame him or Nintendo for how it ultimately turned out, because there are mistakes that are pretty typical of both sides. Let's start with the obvious one - its propensity to shovel gimmicky shit onto you without regard for whether it's actually comfortable, nevermind fun. Even in straightforward Arwing sections you're still expected to use your gamepad to aim your shots by tilting the gyroscope instead of just physically turning your ship towards your target like in literally any other Starfox game. I might not mind so much if this were a neat bonus and much of the fighting was still that, but many enemies in the game are designed to be undamagable if you fly at them head on, requiring you to tilt the gamepad some godawful 45-90 degrees to hit their exposed spots as you're flying over them. You can't see the motherfucking gamepad screen that shows you where you're aiming if you have to tilt it that far, lurching over the top of it or twisting your spine trying to chase your own screen around to keep up with how demanding the gyro aiming is in this game. I'm usually a strong proponent of gyro aim assistance on systems that allow it, but Zero's overreliance on it is just monkey fuck bonkers. And that's JUST the Arwings, which are still against all odds the game's strongest point. The Arwings also have a transformation gimmick where they turn into a ground based walker, which I believe was cribbed entirely from an unreleased sequel to the SNES original, and honestly I actually kinda like this? I wanted more Starfox along the lines of Assault where grounded and flying combat have importance all to their own, and swapping the Arwings themselves between different modes felt like a great compromise that only could have been better if you had a means of strafing that didn't involve barrel rolling repeatedly. The Landmaster returned in this game, and honestly I don't even know why they used it in Starfox 64 because it's always been objectively worse than Arwings? It too has a transforming mode that allows it to fly temporarily, but if you're bringing a tank into a mission that expects you to need that much ground to accomplish anything why not just bring in a fucking Arwing that doesn't have any energy restrictions in either mode and are equally competent in both of them? And then there's the Gyrowing, a VTOL copter whose defining characteristics are that it's slow as fuck, objectively weaker than the other vehicles, and has to accomplish objectives through a drone attached to you by cable which also happens to be where all your shots originate from. Did anyone - even one person - ever think to themselves "bombing runs are fun and all, but you know what I wanna do in a Starfox game? Slowly lower a drone onto a platform and make them bump into screens to hack them"??? It's about as entertaining as operating construction equipment, taken to its biggest extreme when your ability to bomb isn't on command, but rather to physically find explosive crates in the environment, make the drone latch on to them and drop them on a target below you like some kind of flying crane. What the fuck were you people thinking? Pile on top of that bosses that are usually tedious to fight and create a lot of downtime while waiting for an opportunity to deal actual damage, teammates that are somehow STILL fucking useless after all these years and contribute almost nothing to skirmishes despite their obnoxiously patronizing hints, and a level progression that is entirely linear despite its CLEAR inspiration from Starfox 64, and you have what is honestly one of the worst games in the franchise, beaten out by Starfox Command and depending on who you ask, Starfox Adventures. All it ever had to be was another Starfox 64 in all but name, and people would have been fine with it - it's almost all that any fan of the series ever fucking asks for. Which is why it kills me then that in the aftermath of Zero's release, people high up in Nintendo came right out and claimed that this gimmick-laden bullshit was absolutely not out of character for the franchise. That has a LOT of really nasty implications, key among them that Starfox has only ever existed as a testing bed for gimmicks they don't want to risk other franchises on, and that the critical and commercial success of the first two games was a total fucking accident. Most fans rightly took a statement like this as if they had just been spat in the fucking eye because it was all but an admission that their favourite franchise was second class, and I don't have any illusions that it killed the series outright for a lot of people. Next time just cut the bullshit, alright Nintendo? Nobody's interested, and you've had since 2002 to realize that - you really have no excuse anymore.
  21. Ori (Ori and the Blind Forest) A story driven game can take tens of hours to draw tears out of its players, usually brought on by a sense of familiarity and attachment you build up over the course of a lengthy adventure. Ori is special in this regard, in that it becomes a tear jerker within the first ten minutes, and as far as most people are concerned it still would have an incredible display of presentation and story telling if it ended right there. If there was an award for best prologue in all of fucking gaming, it would EASILY go to Ori's, plain and simple. That might seem like a weirdly specific boast, but I think it shines a light on how limited videogames have been as a storytelling medium, and how much investment the simple need to manually control a character through what would otherwise be a completely scripted scene can create. Most other games only do this to act as gates between areas and conceal loading transitions, which on top of being kind of a pisstake is also the best case scenario for most games, whereas others are perfectly content to segregate all narrative and gameplay apart into dialogue or cutscenes rather than allowing the player to have a direct, even if linear, hand in it. Of course, if you're in any way familiar with Ori, you'll know there's still a lot more to it than that, and it's still a pretty decent game even when you do separate it from its narrative. The first thing I have to say about it is that while Ori does have combat, it really doesn't feel all that weighty, thanks in large part to the fact that you're not even physically connected to your means of dealing damage. All of your attacking is done via this ball of light that follows you around and shoots at things completely independently of your movement. First of all, pretty much any attacks are going to feel week if you don't have to commit to them in literally any way, but even in that regard this wisp thing feels especially lazy because you don't even have to aim it either, even though you still have to manually trigger it with a button press. If the game already handles all THAT shit for you, why is the player even involved? Just make it attack automatically so the player can focus on dodging and positioning. On a similar but much more petty and obsessive note, why does it only fire in three shot bursts? Just make it either a steady stream of projectiles or one big shot at a time, it feels so inconsistent and it drives me fucking nuts aaaaaaugh. That being said, the fighting has clearly never been the focus in Ori, so I'm at least willing to handwave it to some degree. I just think it could have helped to commit all the way to either involving the player or doing its own thing without ending up in some mediocre middle ground. Ori's focus lies in more of a metroidvania way of doing things - a large map that opens up more and more as you gain new abilities, and in that respect most of the progression is mobility based, which I think are always some of my favourite ways to see characters evolve. A lot of them are pretty standard doublejump / walljump affair, but my favourite ones would have to be the combination of Bash and Light Burst, the former of which lets you bounce off of any light source (including most projectiles!) in any direction and launch it in the opposite direction, making it a mobility, attacking and puzzle tool all in one, and the latter of which is an aimable projectile which is itself a light source and subsequently Bash food. For how good the narrative itself plays out though, I feel like the progression through the Blind Forest is weirdly phoned in for a game like this? Three main dungeons with heavily dissonant tropes and mucguffins split between them, and an ability you unlock within each of them so that the dungeon serves as its own self contained tutorial for them. Yup, definitely not gonna win any points for originality there. Now this all being said, Ori also gets REALLY fucking hard, to the point that the latter parts of the game just stop being fun in any way. There are certain pretty big stretches of game which mostly devolve into dying on the same thing over and goddamn over again, which is why it then baffles me that the game then implements a fucking permadeath mode in spite of it. Some of the worst parts of the game are the chase scenes that every dungeon culminates in, most of which to my memory expect you to redo the entire thing from scratch if you screw them up, which is a lot to expect of something like five entire minutes of trial and error without trying to tear your fucking hair out over it. All my goodwill for this game was well and truly dried up by the time I got through the final boss, which is itself a a fucking chase sequence and easily the worst one out of any of them, and I do really hate that it turned out like that after the incredibly strong start it had. Haven't gotten around to Will of the Wisps yet. Prolly should. Even from a glance the combat looks a lot more engaging, so I'd like to see if the platforming followed suit.
  22. Kaho (Momodora: Revierie Under the Moonlight) This is one of a few games that are on the list for mostly personal reasons more than anything else. How I even came across it is kind of a blur - I think I happened to glimpse it briefely in amongst a compilation of other game clips I think themed around speedrunning? And I don't know what it was, but something about this game's looks simply captivates me in a way I don't think ANY other game has ever done. I don't think that's to say necessarily because it looks pretty, though I'd hardly suggest it's a bad looking game - no, because it's a particular kind of minimalism that makes pixel art look so easy. I think it's the first game I've ever looked long and hard at and decided "yeah, I could actually do this". I think in that light, it's one of the first real pushes I was given to start actively pursuing game making personally, but more pertinently to this list in particular, it is THE game that directly inspired my current artstyle - tightly packed sprites with mostly flat shading unless it's absolutely necessary to distinguish other shapes of the same colour. And although I'm still mostly happy with how it's turned out, with some exceptions (seriously what the hell did I do to Larry in Fighting Masters on page one?), Momodora gets away with it by being slick as fuck in its animation, and it's something I don't know if I could match no matter what shortcuts I invented for it. As far as the actual game goes. well, it goes by most of the tenants I already liked about platforming games that are designed this way - the fighting is deceptively simple, so much of the game's difficulty revolves more around positioning and mobility rather than trying to get to grips with some obtuse combo system. However, there are elements of it that I feel could have been emphasized a lot better than they were, probably best emphasized by the Derelict Frida boss. Rolling is almost indispensible for most boss fights, but Momodora does a really bad job at incentivizing it because most regular enemies and even the first and second bosses are entirely possible to do without even realizing it's there. But Derelict Frida absolutely fucks you up if you try to fight him without rolling, because most of his attacks are virtually unavoidable without it. The biggest clue you get that it's even a thing is a tiny button prompt that you can miss completely if you're busy dealing with the mooks of the area whenever it pops up and little goblin shits with shields that are probably intended to be outmanuevered with rolls but often turn around too quickly for it to work as a counter whereas simply jumping over them usually works better, so you can go through the first third or so of the game and completely forget it's there. This might seem like a stupid mistake to make, especially in hindsight or without prior knowledge of the way the game works, but this actually seems to be a surprisingly common mistake with new players so I don't think I'm alone in believing there's a learning curve faux pax involved here. Even once you know most of this game's tricks, Momodora is goddamn hard, exactly the kind of game you'd think about whenever someone throws the tOuGh BuT fAiR label about the place. With the exception of the final boss of all fucking things, most boss patterns are very difficult to read without having already died to them repeatedly beforehand, and I really don't believe that's the right approach to designing any videogame, much less an intentionally challenging one. Regular enemies are usually a lot better in this regard - it's almost universally punishing to take any kind of hit from one, but they telegraph most attacks in a way that makes it hard to feel like taking damage was anybody's fault bar your own. And although Momodora is technically a metroidvania, I don't remember feeling rewarded often for going out of my way to explore places because most of the ability upgrades are already plot critical anyway. In fact, backtracking often feels like a pain in the ass in a way that the game never actually resolves. It doesn't necessarily have to be a fast travel system, or movement abilities that start to approach downright gamebreaking like Super Metroid's Screw Attack and Shine Spark, but Revierie Under the Moonlight doesn't really give you anything more than a double jump and a morph ball expy, which really sucks sometimes because you REALLY have to commit to most pathways through the world and it would have been nice to have tools that trivialize them only after you've been through them already. In spite of all that, though, I really hesitate to recommend against Momodora or suggest that it's a bad game outright. Obviously I could be biased as hell considering the influence it has over my work, but the atmosphere is still unlike anything else I've ever played. I'm not talking about just the spritework here - the music is purpose built for a world that is profoundly cursed and pulls it off to amazing effect, even if it won't always make for a memorable jingle like most pixel art platformers are best known for. And despite whatever frustrations I have with the game's balance, it's the kind of adversity that I felt motivated me more to finish it, not to throw it away, which is exactly the kind of mindset that a difficult game should be encouraging. What came as a surprise to me is that Revierie Under the Moonlight is in fact one game in a series of Momodora titles, and is in fact the fourth title in the franchise, so part of me is still morbidly curious how it developed to this point and remained so unknown to me all the while. For now, I'll just close out with some of that music to emphasize the mood it pulls off.
  23. Superhot I think if there's just one thing I appreciate about Superhot, it's that it's shown us that a game can make you feel like a sharp shooting badass without going as far as making it actual twitch gameplay that requires a does of Adderall between sessions. In case you've somehow been oblivious to the how and why of that so far - the passage of time in Superhot is directly relative to your own movements. When completely motionless and not looking around, everything slows to a crawl, usually allowing you to take stock of all enemies nearby and any bullets that are wizzing towards you before committing to anything. Not that I've tried it, but this is supposedly one of the few games that are objectively better to play in VR because you can physically shift your body out of the way of enemy shots - but even without it, a lot of scenes in this game play out just like a scene from the Matrix as a result of this cleverly thought out mechanic. It's just kind of a shame that it looks sort of janky when played back in real time and doesn't always follow exactly where your aim went ingame, not to mention you have to deal with the constant repetition of SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. OVER AND FUCKING OVER WHILE TRYING TO WATCH YOUR BADASSERY UNFOLD, unless you open the replay editor which seems to have a propensity to accidentally send you to the main menu instead? It seems like it should have been pretty difficult to fuck this part of the game up, and yet they somehow found ways to. What really sucks is that Superhot really is a one trick pony - once you've gotten into and understood its core gameplay loop, it doesn't really have any way to impress you anymore, just shooting the same faceless mooks over and over again and occasionally camping their respawn points because apparently just dealing with all the enemies in the level isn't good enough??? Even Mind Control Delete, a side game that came for free if you owned the original game, could only do as good as enemies that were armoured in certain body parts or would explode into a storm of bullets when shot, which doesn't really feed into any impulse you weren't already doing in the base game. It's a tech demo that people have attempted to flesh out into a full game worth paying for, and honestly haven't done a particularly good job of it because it honestly isn't all that different from the actual tech demos I played of it before moving onto Steam for actual currency was ever a point of consideration. I actually preferred it that way, in some respects - because at least that way it wasn't taking itself seriously as much more than a gameplay vehicle. Good lord, the writing in the final game is some dire ass shit. It tries to play off like there's no fourth wall and that the game is in fact a sinister device for actually murdering people IRL, but doesn't really do so consistently, convincingly or immersively, in no way deserving of the incredibly fucking smug attitude it gives you whenever it decides it's fucking clever for whatever narrative twist it decides to throw you for. There are intriguing ideas in its premise, but there's only so much you can do with it when choice is only an illusion and you don't even do THAT particularly well like was the case in say, Spec Ops: The Line. At the end of the day, Superhot has exactly one really cool gimmick which is expected to hold the entire game's weight from beginning to end, and while I don't doubt that it's more than enough for some people, it really doesn't give this game much staying power in hindsight, especially when most of the replay value comes in the form of "okay, now replay the entire game except with an arbitary self imposed restriction". Superhot is more valuable for the precedent it set rather than the influence it had over the industry of its own merits, and there is definitely another such game that I'll cover later that not only benefits from Superhot's inspiration, it's objectively a much better game in its own right...
  24. I've moved the thread to the appropriate forum and cleaned up some needless bickering. Next time just use the report function, you fucking children.
  25. Tracer (Overwatch) I've never had a particularly high opinion of Blizzard. Not particularly sure why - maybe I just thought the Warcraft verse was completely overrated and I was really tired of hearing about it, especially when WoW came out and nobody would ever fucking shut up about it. So you can probably imagine my surprise when I saw footage of Overwatch for the first time and thought it looked... actually kind of good? I think like most people I was drawn to the characters above all else and how absurdly varied they were for what was essentially FPS King of the Hill by any other name. Guys with bog standard rifles, cyber monks who threw balls at people, a robot that can transform into a turret, a guy with a grappling hook and a shotgun, a guy who didn't even have a gun, and it just goes on and on - almost no two characters shared the same focus even when they could be placed into similar archetypes, and it felt like Overwatch had a character for literally any kind of person who could ever play it. So why is it, then, that I dread ever picking it back up? The first answer is that Overwatch is HYPER focused on competitive play, and takes every aspect of itself way too god damned seriously. It's a game that is constantly over-tweaked in response to a meta that constantly shifts and sways all over the place, and more often than not this fixation leaks into the community, who can't stand losing and can't stand having to rely on teammates to get anything done. This is made all the worse by the Play of the Game, a mechanic that picks a single player's biggest moment of the match and broadcasts it to the entire lobby apon a match's end without crediting anyone else who contributed to it. Not only does this encourage people to stupidly split from the team and leave their allies to die in the hopes of getting a lucky Ultimate off and being recognized for it after the match, it means that players who actually carry teams rarely get any actual recognition for it, for example in the case of Zarya who can create shields around herself and others that briefely make them COMPLETELY INVULNERABLE to tank otherwise devastating damage and has an ult that clumps enemies together in a fucking black hole that her teammates will usually steal kills from. I understand that highlighting an individual killing spree is a lot easier to program - I just think it can't be fucking understated just how much this shapes the behaviour of everyone who plays Overwatch. Even well coordinated, constantly communicating teams will still fish for dumb, risky plays if it means a chance of broadcasting how cool they think they are to everyone else, and it almost always comes at the expense of people who are trying to cooperate and have fun with it. And then we have to talk about lootboxes. Listen, microtransactions are already pretty evil. Let's not mince words about that - paying actual money to paint yourself blue or some shit is a fucking stupid business practice, and originally existed only as digital panhandling because the indie market needed a way to make money and still have people invested in their game at all. Microtransactions in games you already pay an entry fee to access are even worse, because they're already guaranteed to make money off base game sales and are just milking players for further profit at this stage. When you do this, and then give people only a chance of getting the items they actually want, you're basically just a casino in all but name - again, no point in mincing words about it, you're paying money for a chance outcome and psychologically abusing players into spending money for more spins of the wheel in the hopes that one of them will pay of, despite the bread crumbs they'll toss at you occasionally just for playing the game. Even while the lootbox controvesy built up to actual political intervention - in a political landscape so behind the digital times that doesn't seem to understand what the fuck net neutrality is, no less - and other publishers wisely moved on to fresher waters, the lootbox still remains Overwatch's most iconic gimmick, and that is just fucking appalling. It made more sense in hindsight once I learnt that Activision took over Blizzard at one point, but even with their influence I think everyone expected a lot better from Blizzard than this. Let me reiterate, in case the point hasn't sunk in yet - microtransactions and lootboxes are digital panhandling turned into a business practice. It's fucking pathetic, and a publisher of videogames this big should be above this kind of scum - although I guess one doesn't get as big as EA or Activision without being overtly thrifty and greedy in the process.
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