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MightyRay

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  1. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Monkey Destruction Switch in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    Your work is amazing. Such a nice, clean style that suits Sonic well.
  2. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Peachy Owl in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    Hey, it's been a while, have some more of my art

    So recently, on Hatsune Miku's Birthday there was a trend on Twitter about Amy cosplaying as her. I wanted to make something a bit different then the usual green uniform - everyone knows that alt costumes are always the best! It was also interested to see how many pinks I can fit in one picture lol
     

    And here is another commission "fresh off the presses" just posted it today. I feel like the neck was a bit too long for it to be a "pure" Sonic character, so this one leans closer to a toon or like a... Duck Tales kind of OC... But then she is a Swan, so who maybe that's okay. Also - love me drawing wisps, not sure why, I mentioned here earlier but I can't stand drawing Chaos, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed drawing these guys. 
  3. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Peachy Owl in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    So the school is this (next?) week, and I was thinking about it a lot. It's been a while, since I finished mine, but I do have lots of found memories and friends from it. So I got inspired and put this wholesome and cute thing together:

    Cream is just the cutest, and I wish we got to see more Vanilla. Shame they weren't used in games for years. At least IDW puts a bigger spotlight on those two. 
    Either way. If you already finished school - any cool memories you can share from it? If you're going back soon - anything you're excited about?
  4. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Peachy Owl in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    So I don't know if anyone here is a fan or is even familiar with Plague of Gripes - he's an artist and an animator on YT and became largely popular thanks to his ties to the Best Friends Let's Play group. A couple of weeks back, he posted "his Sonic OC". One of his fans from the subreddit commissioned me to make an art of him and I really like how it turned out. It's supposed to be a reference to this moment and originally we thought about drawing a human or a mobian mermaid next to him. But in the interest of time and money decided to go with the birds instead.

     
    Also, here is a drawing of a random OC my boyfriend made for our tabletop games. Her name is Sofil Neils. Sofil is a water wizard, that is very kind and polite, working as a teacher in a magic academy of sort. She is a companion of a fire wizard named Raskal Fires, who's a much older red chameleon, that taught her everything she knows. We use her generally as a guide that helps more gentler characters to learn their strengths.

  5. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Peachy Owl in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    Thanks you! I'm kinda new to posting my Sonic Art everywhere, but I would like to keep doing it for as long as possible
    Speaking of, here is a small bump, with some more of my stuff:

    This is Zepp, he's the 3rd hero of our tabletop campaign, very stoic, but fun character that's trying to figure out how much he has to rely on his mechanical parts. It's also probably one of the most complex commission I ever did. 

    And this is something I drew mostly for fun. Tho, as I mentioned on Twitter, for some reason I just cannot for the life of my draw Chao, something about their form just... I just can't. This one turned out alright tho. 
  6. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Peachy Owl in Peachy Owl's Art [OCs and Official]   
    Hello! I'm new here and I'm still figuring some things out, but I hope you'll like my art. Currently, I'm drawing characters for my boyfriend's tabletop campaign plus some doodles on the side.
    I also pretty much always take commissions, because rent and food are important. 
    Here are some of them:



    I will be posting my new more complete stuff here (colored artworks or commissions), but if you want to see the full scope of my work, I have a twitter and a DA, where I drop pretty much everything or newgrounds, if you like maximum quality.
    In case you're interested about me personally - I was sonic for many years, started with Adventure games, and mostly stayed for comics and music. I also used to dabble into writing fanfics and roleplaying a lot, but art is where I stopped. I'm a huge fan of Evan Stanley's and Tracy Yardley's work.
  7. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
    A couple more Matt Herms collabs.

    Pencils/Inks: Me
    Colors: Matt Herms



    The rest of these are all me.
     




  8. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
  9. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
    Pencils/Inks: Me
    Colors: Matt Herms

  10. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
  11. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
    Recent artwork I've done.



     


    "Bridge Attack"
    Pencils/Inks: Me
    Colors: Matt Herms (Commissioned)

  12. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Ink Pants in Various Sonic art of mine   
    Large version here: https://jonathondobbs.artstation.com/projects/4bDD0l

  13. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Boogie Man (Soldat)
    This is another one of those Indie games that got popular in schoolgrounds around here in large part due to the fact it was a) free, and b) could run on just about any old potato you installed it on. Obstensibly, it's an arena shooter that takes place entirely in 2D - rather than the mouse physically shifting your viewpoint around, your view more or less always remains the same and your aim just follows an onscreen cursor instead. One would think that invites problems compared to its first person counterparts, but Soldat has put in a surprising amount of work to make the game function well within its own limitations. For starters, yes, you can see other players through walls by default, but there's also a setting that obscures players whenever you aren't looking directly at them, so stealth and ambush tactics can actually still work without physically obscuring your character behind a crate or something. 2D platforming doesn't work all that well when you have realistic jumping height, especially when people are shooting at you, so Soldat just gives everyone fucking rocket boots instead so they can fly wherever they need to be within reason. And just being able to point and click at enemies is a fair bit harder than it might sound from the outside because characters are so small they don't have rendered facial features, so yes, you still need to actually aim in this game, and yes headshots are still quite a feat when all is said and done. Even the Barret sniper rifle has the ability to physically shift your viewpoint beyond your character sprites to simulate scoped zooming, which I thought was a really neat touch.
    As usual, shooting game, so gotta talk about arsenal. Soldat leans pretty light on the fantasy elements, MOSTLY themed around real life weapons, and it does somewhat fall into the same "lots of machineguns that are just small variants of each other" trap that a lot of modern shooters suffer from, between the MP5, AK47 and Steyer AUG. But still goes wild enough with whatever it has left, with dual wielded Desert Eagles, a Ruger hunting rifle, a 40mm grenade launcher, a chainsaw and a goddamn XM214 Minigun, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It honestly kinda astonishes me that you can put a minigun and a handgun in the same playing field and both will be relatively even balanced, even moreso because the game's arsenal is loadout based. Every respawn you pick a primary and secondary weapon, and both weapons will have infinite ammo save for reloads - the only pickups you find on the field are health and hand grenades. Which have the ability to... explode on impact with people for some reason, but I'm not complaining, it actually makes for some surprisingly hype plays when you're empty and don't have time to switch to a backup gun.
    It's a simple multiplayer game through and through, but the bot support is fine enough that it's still a good game to relax and unwind with even on your own. The game has been updated over the years mostly for modern OS support, and has still remained completely free all the while - in fact, it even has a Steam listing now, with upscaled graphics so people's heads aren't just a 4 pixel blob anymore. For a game with no entrance fee, it's really hard not to recommend if you can coordinate a few mates together into a game, or sometimes even just as a time waster in its own right.
  14. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Nightmare (Soul Calibur 2)
    SC2 is probably the first true 3D fighter on this list, in that the Z axis forms an integral part of its gameplay instead of throwing 3D models onto a 2D axis. It's an approach to fighting I have... mixed experiences with. It feels like so many options are stuffed too easily simply by just sidestepping as an enemy approaches, and most attacks designed specifically to counter that with wide sweeping swings have long windups that the opponent can still easily react to. It also brings with it an emphasis on Ring Outs, where knocking an opponent clear out of the arena instantly kills them, and this has inconsistent applications too. Sometimes the arena is completely surrounded by a pit, sometimes it's just one side with walls in every other direction, and sometimes it could even be just a fucking water fountain in the corner of the stage, so the effectiveness of some characters can very well depend on the locale more than how their kit functions normally. I dunno, honestly I feel like Soul Calibur would be better off if it was all or nothing, you know? Either completely enclosed or completely surrounded by pits.
    This being a fighting game, of course I gotta bring up the whole spiel about cheatcode inputs again. Contrary to what was otherwise the norm in fighting games, command inputs are actually fairly uncommon in these 3D fighters, and wherever they did exist they tended to lean more towards single moves than combo starters and continuers like they functioned as in more traditional games. And with some occasional exceptions (seriously, how the living fuck does anyone pull off Ivy's command grabs?), they're quite simple straight motions or quarter circle movements, so for once this is a fighting game besides Smash I can say that execution isn't a ludicrous barrier of entry. If any such barrier exists in Soul Calibur, it's memory. What SC2 employs instead is a system I like to internally dub "simon says" combos, where one of a series of premade strings are executed through a collection of alternating button presses instead of just stringing individual moves together where it suits the context, and honestly I feel like this approach to fighting is... equally as bad? It removes the execution barrier but makes most of the combo game happen in a controlled space you don't have much influence over, and it doesn't feel to me like these things should be mutually exclusive at all. This is before you get into the unlockable characters, which don't have a fucking readable movelist AT ALL, so actually figuring out how to play them is an absolute crapshoot.
    That being said, one thing I DO have to give SC2 credit for is the fact that it actually has a pretty extensive singleplayer campaign on top of the usual arcade ladder, with an emphasis on buying additional weapons, completing dungeons full of treasure and enemy encounters and fights with unique criteria that might not necessarily be just "hit the enemy until their health reaches 0". And honestly, it drives me up the fucking wall that more fighting games don't do this, because technically speaking fighting games are already designed like a smaller part of a much larger game with all the fat removed. How the hell is it that there aren't more fighting games where the fighting part is used where the random encounters and boss fights would otherwise sit in an RPG? I genuinely don't understand what keeps these people from using their fighting game mechanics to drive a much larger game, because it's not like they can't keep their hyper balanced focused competitive modes intact like they did for this game.
    Alright, so let's talk versions. Soul Calibur has a history of spicing things up for respective platform owners by giving each version of the game a single unique character, and in SC2 it was Link, Spawn and Heihachi. Listen, I like crossovers in fighters, but I have to be blunt about this - this is a fucking stupid approach. How exactly do you run tournies of these games if every version is legitimately different from the other? What happens if you main Heihachi and the tourney runs the Xbox version that doesn't have it? It honestly just invites an absolute clusterfuck onto its players, and it doesn't seem fair to put that responsibility onto them when the developers could simply just give every platform the same cast. It also needs to be said that I ran the Gamecube version in particular, which is honestly an indictment of just how fucking awful the Cube pad's button layout was for anything besides platformers and Smash Bros, legendary ergonomics be damned. Do you have any idea how hard it is to press B and X together without mashing the gigantic fucking A button between them? How hard was it just to make four equal sized buttons in the space given? Why do they STILL do this even after re-releasing it for Smash? Namco had their work cut out for them either way no matter what their approach to porting would have been, and there's really nobody else at fault but Nintendo for this one.
  15. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Alexander Roivas (Eternal Darkness)
    Long thought of as the magnum opus of Silicon Knights, Eternal Darkness is something of a lovecraftian themed hack and slash with elements of classic Resident Evil thrown in (no tank controls though, and thank fuck for that). The narrative spans literal millennia by way of the Tome of Eternal Darkness, a grotesque magickal book passed down through generations and contains the experiences and magickal knowledge of everyone who has ever possessed it. Each takes place in their own short story that ultimately converge in a sinister plot to summon an entire elder god to the mortal realm to enslave all humankind, with Alex here happening to be the last person in the right time to put a stop to it whilst attempting to investigate the brutal murder of her own father. While it might not seem like much by today's standards, this game was quick to boast about its storytelling vehicles. Being described as "movie like" was one hell of a compliment while it was still relevant, as there were honestly fairly few games out there that could dish it out without extensive use of FMVs until this particular console generation started winding up.
    Actually playing it is... kind of basic, in hindsight. You can use a shoulder button to target enemies and aim for specific appendages, even if you're using melee weapons - but there tends not to be any actual strategy for it besides targetting the head, and baiting out their first attack if you know it won't cause them to flinch. Even on enemies that can survive this, it makes the entire remnants of any given scuffle a joke, and it feels like at the very least certain enemies should have incentivized cutting off other limbs first or even punished going straight for the head, because it really is just "attack head: the game" as it is here. There IS a magick system in play in which you can construct spells out of an assortment of runes you pick up over the eras, but actually casting a spell takes forever because every individual rune needs to be pronounced out loud, during which a zombie can simply just slap you out of it and interrupt the casting. And despite having to put individual runes together into spells, the actual spell list is disappointingly limited, with so many rune combinations not touched apon at all, and you'll tend not to get much use out of them besides the enchant spell that lets you do even more head damage and the healing spell, with others only occasionally being used as mandatory advances of the plot before going right back to being ignored again.
    Eternal Darkness however, is probably best known for its sanity system. At any given time your character has a sanity meter, and every time you witness a monster, it goes down. When it gets low, your character starts to occasionally hallucinate before abruptly being dragged back to reality. And these hallucinations are at their most brilliant when they break the fourth wall in the process, causing the volume to turn down or mute, change channels or abruptly turn your TV off, simulate a controller malfunction and most terrifyingly and cruelly of all, pretending to delete your motherfucking save data instead of saving it. Other times though, it feels like these hallucinations openly take the piss and were implemented more for a laugh than to scare you, like causing you to grow or shrink unexpectedly or making your torso explode while trying to heal, and honestly it really takes me out of the experience when the game goes to that kind of trouble to mock itself instead of casting genuine doubt over whether what you are experience is genuinely real. This is before you get into the fact that you can restore your own sanity meter, and depending on a seemingly innocuous choice you make early on it might be the second spell you learn in the game, so you often have to intentionally neglect your sanity in order to play this game the way it was clearly designed to. It nevertheless was the best attempt at a sytem like this so far, but it makes me sad that there is so much room for improvement and as far as I can tell, nobody has ever really built on it.
    It's hard to say where things could go from here. Supposedly Nintendo owns the IP now, and to no surprise has apparently done nothing but sit on it these past 18 years. As far as I'm concerned, the critical success of Eternal Darkness was a fluke, as Silicon Knights would go on to produce bomb after bomb since - where that story ends though, is a tale for another entry in this list...
  16. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Taffer (Thievery)
    And here's our first Unreal Tournament mod of the list, a total conversion themed around the Thief universe. If you're played Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory before, the jist of it is probably already familiar to you - you have a team of thieves tasked with looting the map and completing map-specific objectives, and a team of guards tasked with killing them all. Now I know I said I never played UT online, and the same is true of this too - but thankfully, the guard team works alongside AI guards by design whenever one of their slots is unfilled, and these guards are still attentive enough that they can be a challenge all their own, so Thievery is still perfectly servicable as a singleplayer mod from the thief side if you treat all the maps as individual mini-scenarios instead of an overarching narrative. And honestly, even with the intention of playing it online (yes, some people occasionally still do when invited), it might help to try running maps solo first anyway, because like many competitive stealth games, the barrier of entry can be pretty high for most people.
    Simply put, the guards are much more heavily armed than the thieves. Thieves don't even get a sword by default - they can put starting money into it, but it costs quite a bit that could otherwise be put into flashbombs, rope/water arrows and special potions to avoid detection. And maps are often built around the idea that guards can have either quick or brightly lit access to many crucial areas at a time, so knowing the map layout - and subsequently, all the ways you can avoid the beaten path - is a critical part of figuring out how to beat maps, let alone excel at them. Needless to say, this involves dying. A lot. And dying as a thief tends to be very punishing. You do drop all your unused tools and they can be picked back up if you make it back there, but you also tend to drop your loot in the process too. Maps tend to only have somewhat more loot than is necessary to complete it, so fishing it out of a heavily trafficked area is a challenge even with AI guards. Human players, of course, know full well thieves REALLY need that money, and will camp and boobytrap it relentlessly given the choice. I guess where I'm going with this is that you really need to put work into this mod to start getting the most enjoyment out of it, and I realize not everyone will want to.
    It's a fantastic experience once you get there, though, when the rhythm of blackjacking guards, hiding bodies and panic flashbombing for safe escapes starts to set in. If you want my personal advice on where to start, TH-Korman and TH-Stronghold are probably among the most newbie and thief friendly maps to practice on, with plenty of alternate routes to discover and tricks to pull to get in and around where you need to go, and the objectives in both baps mostly speak for themselves. Thievery had a decent mapping community once apon a time, and there's enough there that you can still a nice boost to the mod's longetivity whenever you tire of all the stock maps (though granted, some map makers don't bother to add pathfinding markers for the AI). I believe there's even a port of Bafford's manor from the original games somewhere out there, which is kind of surreal to think about. If for some reason you happen to have a copy of the original Unreal Tournament and want to try this out for yourself, the original site is still open and has even been updated since the last time I played it, which I guess makes my sprite choice a little outdated. Oh well! It's how I remember it, so it's how I choose to represent it.
  17. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Master Chief (Halo series)
    Moving on from ambiguous ports and onto the Xbox proper now. There was never any doubt that the Xbox would be the strongest platform on the market from a performance standpoint when it launched, but Microsoft really had their work cut out for them when it came to software lineups. The PS2 was at the time getting the lion's share of software support, Nintendo even at the time was world famous for its first party output, and even Sega, still reeling from the legendary bitchslap that Sony gave them with the PS2, still had debatably one of the best launch lineups out of any console ever released with the Dreamcast. Microsoft would need something HUGE to be able to compete on any level - and that's where Halo comes in.
    Halo is most widely remembered as the birth of the regenerating health crazy of FPSs. It sounds incredibly stupid nowadays, but a shooter that actually incentivized taking cover to be able to replenish your ability to take damage was seen as edging towards a more realistic angle for shooters, even though most human beings can't recover from bullet wounds just by not being shot for a few seconds? At least in Halo 1 it made sense because the regenerating portion was an energy shield and you still needed to top off your physical health every now and then. Regardless of the reasoning, one thing can't be denied - it provided a new approach to shooters that wasn't just sprinting around at mach 1 and shooting people in the face, and believe or not a break from that was actually seen as a refreshing change of pace back in the day.
    However, most of the things that ACTUALLY make Halo excel are more subtle details that get taken for granted in more modern days. To demonstrate, take a look at this GIF:

    Don't see it yet? Okay, here's another one:

    Still don't get it? Okay, here's the rub: I just showed you three drastically different methods of attacking (shooting, bashing and grenading), and none of them required you to switch weapons. Sure, there are games that have done one or the other before - there are select guns in Perfect Dark that have a melee altfire, and select guns that have explosive secondaries - but Halo is one of the first notable games I can think of that standardizes these interactions no matter what weapon you're using, so you don't need to fumble through four other weapons if you need a specific weapon for a given situation - just about any other game of its day would have treated the ability to punch and the ability to throw grenades as individual weapon slots, and tend to come off as clumsy and awkward as a result. Having more options than just the fire button is almost always a good thing as far as shooters are concerned, and I can't think of a game that demonstrates this better than the Halo series.
    Halo is also one of the first console shooters I can think of that recognizes that having your aim stick to targets isn't particularly deep, while also recognizing that even twin sticks leave a lot to be desired as far as precise aiming is concerned. To this end, Bungie figured out a genius middle ground that sits so quietely in the background that most people don't even know it's there - simply put, your cursor slows down when intersecting a certain radius around an enemy, and mirrors their movements ever so slightly while you're chasing them with your crosshairs, a traits sometimes generously coined "aim assist" or "bullet magnetism". You're still required to manually track enemies with your right stick at any given time, but it ensures that you're able to focus on them with smaller, more precise movements instead of the big, jerky lurches you normally get aiming stick without it. Twin sticks will never be able to compete with mouse and keyboard in this regard, but this is such a huge step up from what consoles had prior that it's become standard in almost every first and third person shooter worth their salt since.
    Most of what people appreciate Halo for after that fact largely comes down to personal preference. Maybe people like the change in scale that lets infantry and vehicles fight side by side. Maybe they have an appreciation for its universe and narrative, or maybe they appreciate it as the first true trendsetter of the online console multiplayer world. What I think we can all agree on, though, is that the magic just isn't there anymore in modern day, turned little by little into yet another one of those shooters that fleece people for cash on top of the starting price tag. Xboxes are known more for being 3rd party boxes than anything else right now, and it honestly feels like Microsoft just doesn't know what they once had anymore.
  18. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Phoenix Wright (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)
    This is a pretty big departure from my usual fare, as I'm sure it was for most people when it first released in the west - a game that takes place almost exclusively through dialogue, and was most people's introduction to the "visual novel" style of designing games. The gameplay loop sounds simple from the outside - you're a defence lawyer, and you gather evidence from the scene of a crime, and cross reference it with testimony introduced in court to discover inconsistencies or contradictions in one or the other to direct guilt away from your client. However, it needs to be said that Phoenix Wright as a series can get pretty... wacky, for a series about legally putting murderers in their place. There's a section where you have to cross reference a fucking talking parrot on the stand, for crying out loud. And for much the same reasons as in Teenagent, this can work to both the game's advantage, and the game's biggest weaknesses.
    That being, that much of the puzzle solving in this game expects you to be in the same mindset the developers were while they were making it - so sometimes a serious problem might have a silly, wacky answer, and the onus is on the player to figure out which is which. However, the game also strongly discourages experimental guesswork by penalizing the player whenever they present the wrong piece of evidence at most given points. Depending on which game in the trilogy you're playing, this can even cause you to immediately lose the case at key moments during the trial, forcing you to redo the whole day's proceedings from scratch whenever the judge gets fed up with your guesswork. I played these games on a phone many years after the fact, wherein they had savestates you could manually set, and even THAT left me bloody annoyed and clawing for a guide sometimes, nevermind people who originally owned it on a DS and did not have that luxury either way.
    Even more annoying is that evidence often has an order of operations that isn't made entirely clear to the player, even when it definitively proves your client's innocence on its own and sometimes even when it's still directly relevant to the testimony you're objecting to. PW is programmed in such a way that either only one statement in a witness's testimony can be objected to with evidence, or only one item of evidence can be successfully used on a given statement to successfully object when there are realistically multiple options available (and often get brought up in the resulting objection without your input anyway!). For all its soap-opera-esque flair, sometimes it feels like you really ought to be able to just bring evidence right up to the judge directly and say "HOLY SHIT THE GUN HAS THE PROSECUTION WITNESS'S FINGERPRINTS ON IT AND NOT MY CLIENT'S, WHY THE ACTUAL FUCK ARE YOU IGNORING THIS" instead of waiting patiently for the witness to definitively deny culpability and treating only that as an opportunity to bring the evidence in. Speaking hypothetically, of course - it's difficult to talk about specific examples without straight up spoiling them, and honestly I feel like even bringing up the parrot earlier was a bit too much.
    When it works, though, it makes you feel like a super smart motherfucker for tearing apart the opposition's argument with what seems like a petty inconsistency at first. I won't say those moments are few and fleeting - Capcom definitely handles it a hell of a lot better than Teenagent did, and there are many cases throughout the history that are all the more memorable for it. But the system that handles evidence in these games is flawed, and those flaws have gone unfixed for far longer than they have any right to - in fact I'm convinced they're probably still there today, not that I've played past AA3. Sadly, this is the kind of game you can only really experience in its intended form once - as much grief as I've given Ace Attorney for how obnoxious some of its solutions are, it's definitely not the same once you already know how every scenario plays out. Kinda makes me wish there was a court game out there where all the crimes and evidence are randomly generated so every case is a surprise, but I guess that's a big ask for something that might never have the same public appeal Phoenix Wright did.
  19. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Ditto (Pokemon Stadium 2)
    Pokemon has an... interesting relationship with console games, almost exactly the opposite as they would be with any other IP. Whereas handheld titles were once known as bargain bin distractions designed to hook people into their console variations, console Pokemon games have a habit of being supplementary experiences to the handheld ones, to the point that a main Pokemon title recently releasing on the Switch at all was seen as precedent forming. We'll get into the how and why of that later - the point I'm making is that console Pokemon games were by design completely different experiences to what you tend to expect from their main output - sometimes to a frustrating degree - and Stadium 2 was by no means an exception.
    The first thing that stands out about Stadium 2 for me is the Pokemon Academy. Understand that until this point, fighting in actual Pokemon battles was typically ever seen as a strategy with two elements - being higher level than the enemy, and having an advantage against the enemy in the game's signature scissors-paper-rock roulette that is the typing system. The former, however, doesn't actually occur in this game, because every scenario either has strict level limits, or your opponent's levels will match your highest level Pokemon. More on that later, too. The Academy was incredible at the time because it taught you in no uncertain terms that there was actually quite a bit of strategy at the highest level of play if you had the patience to suss out a team and their moveset synergy and raise them up from scratch. From simple stuff like Thunder and Earthquake being able to stuff Fly and Dig spammers respectively (of which there were a LOT of back then) and weather effects having an effect on certain moves beyond just being a power buff, to stuff that I never would have considered such as Endure + Reversal, the separation of Defence and Special Defence and the ability to hit Pokemon with high evasion boosts. Even the MAIN Pokemon games never covered its own strategy in this kind of depth. Why the fuck did they not? It feels like something that should have gone without saying, and yet main Pokemon games seem to exhibit a greater degree of confidence in being a numbers game and not much more.
    Well, one point is that Stadium 2 needs players to grasp its strategy, because people can't brute force this game with levels. To wit, there is absolutely no focus on raising your own Pokemon from scratch - instead neary every single Pokemon of the first two generations is available to you right from the start and you simply mix and match them for the task at hand, where importing your own team is merely an optional bonus made possible by the Transfer Pak, a controller plugin that accepts Gameboy carts. This SHOULD have been the game's greatest strength - to completely remove the tedious process of levelling up your team as a barrier to competitive play, just pick some Pokemon and make them beat each other up. There's just one problem - the rental Pokemon are intentionally underpowered, with completely base stats and movesets you can't actually change to your liking, made worse still by the fact that evolved Pokemon often have significantly worse movepools than their weaker, unevolved forms. It's actually comical in a way how much of an advantage NPC trainers have over you just on account of being able to design and execute synergizing movesets completely to their liking where you can't, to the point that importing your team from a cartridge is legitimately your only option for completing some fights.
    What Pokemon Stadium 2 SHOULD have been is Pokemon Showdown before Pokemon Showdown Pokemon Showdowned. Just a game where team building and strategizing forms the core of the experience and all the obstacles in the way of doing so are removed, essentially forming a competitive Pokemon sandbox. What we got instead was a scheme purpose built to force people to buy Transfer Paks, knowing full well that the game would be a chore to play without it, and knowing full well that the ability to pick your own distribution of stats and moves would have solved this problem without the need for an external Pokemon game to make it playable. Dick move, Gamefreak. Dick move.
  20. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Ryo Hazuki (Shenmue II)
    Why in the goddamn fuck do people like this game?
    Alright, that's coming on a bit strong. Let's take a step back. There are aspects of Shenmue's design that are still felt in games today, and that much at least I have to give it credit for. It's an urban open world game in which every individual NPC has their own schedules and behaviours, almost all of which can be spoken to with fully voiced dialogue. It's a world in which the overarching goal of the narrative need not be the sole focus of your adventure, with side activities strewn all over the place and sometimes end up being extremely helpful to you regardless. It's an experience in which you need to make sure your player character has a place to sleep every night, and be able to cover rent costs wherever you're staying. The thing is, it's not designed in such a way that any of it is in any sense fun. I've played beat em up and open world adventures of all walks of life, and somehow against all odds, Shenmue II manages to be the single worst of both worlds out of any game in either genre I can recall.
    Okay, still coming on too strong. Let me elaborate.
    Let's start with that rent thing, actually. I don't have a problem with having to raise enough money to spend the night somewhere - there are plenty of games out there that do it just fine. But somehow, Shenmue is convinced the best way to handle that is an actual job in manual labour polluted with quick time events. There are other options, sure - but almost all of them either net you even less money, or come at great personal risk to your own funds, to the point that the game genuinely expects you to believe that gambling for it is a legitimate option. Either way, it feels ridiculous that a quest motivated by a martial-arts-flick-esque thirst for vengeance is reduced to padding the game out in such a fucking ridiculous, pathetic way. If there had been actual side quests or even just money to be found along the path of the main story and lifting crates was a secondary option I would not have thought twice about it.
    Even when you get to some semblance of actual action, Shenmue II is a constant anticlimax. I can only assume Yu Suzuki couldn't be fucked to make game mechanics as open ended as the world design, because entire encounters have a tendency to play out in QTE only, from fights to chases to even simple shit like breaching doors and making jumps. And it would be irritating enough if these sequences were consistently punishing - failing them can mean restarting anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes ago from scratch, and sometimes you're not given the option to repeat at all, but on one other occasion I left Ryo to follow an NPC to my destination while I went to the toilet and came back to find they'd been repeating and failing the same QTE for about 2-3 minutes straight without any consequences at all. I wish I could tell you what the actual fighting is like, but Shenmue never gives you any real chance of experiencing it - the only actual fights I got to experience from start to finish were random encounters with mook thugs. Every other fight I got into was cut short for stupid reasons, and all the sparring you do besides that is with characters that dodge your every move, so it's impossible to get a feel for how weighty or effective any given combination of moves is. Maybe it's actually deceptively complex? But I'll never know that, because the game as far as I can tell never gives you a chance to use it to anything resembling its full potential, and what little I experienced painted it as incredibly shallow button mashing instead.
    The final straw for me was coming apon the need to fight various big name prize fighters to impress... somebody. Honestly, can't remember, not important. What's important is that the biggest ones have an entry fee - and that entry fee is quadruple fucking digits. For perspective, the shift work you get from hauling crates might get you 50-100 if you're lucky. Never in all of my years have I ever seen such a shameless, disgusting padding barrier in a videogame out of nowhere as I have in Shenmue II, and it was enough for me to drop the controller right the fuck there and never touch the game again. The amount of disrespect Yu Suzuki has for the player's time and patience is fucking appalling, and once again, I cannot comprehend how anyone can still respect the man knowing this is exactly the kind of shit he pulls in Shenmue. Do yourselves a favour and just get Yakuza instead.
  21. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Big the Cat and Chao (Sonic Adventure DX / 2)
    Well, we were bound to get to this point eventually. The SAs are thought by many as one of the high points of the series alongside the original trilogy, and I can't deny the fun I had with them when they were relevant - but when you look back on them in hindsight, cracks start to form. HUGE ones. We're talking like fucking fissures here. So yeah, fair warning - I'm about to say some pretty controversial shit, but even knowing that there are people here that would flay me alive for it I still have to be objective and admit they have a lot of flaws. Some for its day, and some by modern standards.
    When talking about the Adventures, you have to remember that this was the first mainline Sonic game in over an entire console generation. Yes, Sonic Xtreme was so awful and mismanaged that it caused Sonic to miss the entirety of the Sega Saturn, forcing them to fill it with ports and spinoffs. The reason I bring it up here is because Sonic also missed the entire 3D revolution because of it, and as a result, didn't benefit from a lot of standards that had been established since - most notably in the case of its camera, which is a massive pain to control manually at any point and doesn't always cooperate even when left to do its own thing. There's other smaller things, like the awful lip syncing (legendarily awful, in SA1's case), but the camera is probably the most obvious and impactful example of it.
    Probably the biggest problems with the Adventures, though, emerge from the simple fucking inability to take a single approach to gameplay and stick with it, instead splitting it off into numerous unnecessary forks between the gameplay of individual characters. Roughly a third of both games play out in a way that could actually be described as a Sonic game, the remainder instead spreading out into experimental - and frankly unsatisfying - mutually exclusive diversions without any mechanical common ground. Some characters don't even share the same physics, let alone the same core components, and when one of them (Big) is so awful and out of place that it makes Sonic fans of all walks of life and preference - the OG poster children for bitching and bickering over the most menial, meaningless shit imaginable - unanimously agree on exactly how awful and out of place it is, it should tell you a lot about how fucking badly they read the room when it came to designing these characters. And the effect of this school of design is still felt today, long after alternate playable characters were removed from the equation completely. It's never been enough for Sega and Sonic Team to just make a game that's fun of its own merits, they always have to muddy the waters by introducting some dumbass gimmick even on the offchance that the game itself turns out fine overall, and it's right here that the practice first started.
    What this creates in practice is a game that's at its most entertaining only after you've cleared it so you can skip the extraneous bullshit that drags it down, and I honestly don't know any other games on this list that I can say that about. They feel like games that have come across replay value entirely by accident, in some of the worst possible ways. And that brings me to Chao. Look, I have to be blunt about this - all power to you if you happen to like virtual pets, especially if that still somehow persists to current day, but this shit blends with Sonic like BBQ sauce and strawberry jam. Some of you are probably weirded out hearing that after the replay value it's given them, how it encourages them to play levels again when they wouldn't normally. Do you know what it actually incentives? Playing one level over and over again for your choice of Chaos Drives, rubbing them one by one against a Chao's face in hopes that you actually have enough to make them stronger, and repeat until you hopefully have the numbers to overcome challenges you otherwise have no actual fucking control over.
    This isn't replay value - it's grinding. It's not like it even encourages you to do levels any better than you could without a Chao to look after, because collecting the drives themselves usually requires you to waste time coming to a stop or coordinating yourself to them that could otherwise be crucial ranking time, and some might even argue that engaging enemies at all in certain circumstances already costs you time anyway. It's the absolute most bare bones interaction between main game and side game imaginable, made all the more irritating by the fact that actual bonuses for platforming content - namely the then-legendary Green Hill level in SA2 - are gated off behind Emblems you can only get there.
    Does any of this mean that SA1 and 2 can't be enjoyed today? Of course not - I'm not cynical enough to claim the success of these two games is purely a fluke. Even still, the enjoyment of these two games is made in spite of their mechanics, not because of them - and had Sega or Sonic Team paid any attention to all the early warning signs that were already there this early on instead of blindly accepting these games as the golden standard for everything that came after, there's a very good chance the franchise might not be in the state it is today. There was never just any one game that doomed this franchise to mediocrity - much like their hardware efforts, Sega kept letting smaller issues pile up over the course of about a decade, and once they could no longer get back on top of things it would only take one substantial failure to ruin almost all trust in the brand they were milking.
  22. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Conker (Conker's Bad Fur Day)
    Until Bad Fur Day, Conker didn't really have much of a presence in the gaming world. He was there, sure, but an entirely different beast to what he is today, closer to something one might expect of Rare's output - but there was just something about him that couldn't compete with Rare's other mascots, let alone on the oversaturated global stage of mascot platformers of his era. So clearly what he needed was an overhaul, something that would absolutely make him stand out from everything around him, so Rare did what everyone does when they're out of ideas - they got edgy. The cutesy look was just a facade - now, it was a game with copious swearing, blood and sexual themes, and BFD goes a step further and even formulates its crudeness into actual gameplay elements - such as the ability to get shitfaced drunk in certain sections and piss on things, and an entire section of the game made almost exclusively out of shit, with a jazzy backing track punctuated by fart noises. It's one of the most juvenile experiences a game can possibly be, and the strangest thing is, it actually... worked? Not only did Conker get exactly the kind of noteriety it was looking for, it was actually legitimately a good game in its own right, which is such a rare event for this kind of approach I honestly can't think of another example of an IP that took it this far and ended up better off than they were beforehand.
    Though BFD openly appears to have the same trappings of a wide open environment, in truth it's actually much more closed off than its Rareware brothers and sisters. One could argue the cold, hard cash you collect throughout the game serves the same purpose as Jiggies and Golden Bananas, but there isn't actually all that much of it, and there are only like 2-3 bundles of it that you can collect out of sequence - so basically, it's an open environment that only incentivizes you to take a select few routes through it. It's not a huge disappointment, but it feels like they could have done much more with their level design than they ultimately did. There are sections of the game later on, especially the mansion and the warfront, that are absolute bastard to play on your first playthrough and some segments that are incredibly difficult even then, with the penultimate escape sequence from the latter forming a sharp difficulty spike that the game never really matches again, even in the lead up to the final boss. That all being said, though, if you're patient with its inconsistent difficulty BFD's singleplayer mode is still a very solid platformer overall, thanks in no small part to its peurile writing helping to distract from its faults.
    Yes, singleplayer mode - implying a multiplayer one. There's a pretty wide variety of modes, but almost all of them are wacky, chaotic fun, and its weapon balancing is unlike almost anything else I've ever seen - almost every weapon is broken in in such a weird way that their brokenness clashes with each other and cancels each other out. The SMGs can stunlock people to death pretty quickly, the revolver is a guaranteed one shot kill, the sword can decapitate people and hide you from the radar, and the bazooka is... well, a fucking bazooka. Even the throwing knives, which most people overlook in comparison, autoaim directly for people's faces whenever you're not manually aiming, which can cause instakill headshots with barely even coming to a stop for it. It's clearly not designed to be played competitively and is all the more fun for it, which is more than I can say for most multiplayer games these days - it's one thing to be fair and balanced, but too many do so at the cost of stripping options of what made them fun to play in the first place.
    Which brings us to Conker as it stands today.
    It's no secret that Rare was bought out by Microsoft before a sequel could be made, but when one of the first images you see of the game is a Tediz with pigtails dual wielding katanas, you generally take that a sign that not only is the wackyness of that multiplayer mode still intact, they're doubling down on it. Sometime between then and the release of Live and Reloaded though, someone high up said "hey you know what, this cartoon squirrel game about mixing and matching wildly different weapons needs a fucking class based shooter multiplayer instead". And to top it all off, it wasn't even a genuine sequel at the end of the day, just a literal retread of the original game with redone graphics. What the hell happened? How did they look back on everything that made Conker great and decided this was what he needed? In the years that followed Conker would probably be treated the worst out of any fallen mascot I can think of, never getting a game to himself ever again and only occasionally being trotted out as a bonus for brownie points whenever Rare or Microsoft have hit a ditch they need to dig themselves out of - and the less said about the atrocity that is Young Conker, the better.
    It's not all doom and gloom, though. Chris Seavor, the much known and loved VA for Conker, clearly got sick of the way the IP was being treated and started his own brand Gory Detail, with the eventual goal of making a spirtitual Conker successor of his own. That was about two years ago now, so here's hoping, eh?
  23. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    Wise Old Man (Runescape)
    I first saw this game over at a childhood friend's place and seeing their brother playing this in the background. Even for its time it looked incredibly basic, but there was just something enthralling about the idea that nearly every character on the screen at any time was an actual human being doing their own thing, so I decided to give it a shot. And by fuck did I give it a shot - I eventually levelled up high enough to mine and smelt Runite, learnt spells that required resources that weren't even craftable for free members even after they added the ability to craft them, and completed every quest for the free realm and left only the capacity to grow stronger after the fact. Some time after the Dungeoneering update - a skill tied into exploration of a roguelike, randomly generating dungeon - I remember standing at the entrance for a good five minutes or so wondering to myself "what the fuck am I doing"? It was then that I suddenly came apon an epiphany - I wasn't having fun. In fact, I never was.
    This seems to be a trapping of basically any MMO or live service of note - it's not the player's enjoyment that the developers and publishers value, but their engagement, their ability to keep their players stuck doing dumb, menial tasks on a loop to reap the benefits of subscription costs, ad revenue and the ability to boast to their shareholders to keep THEIR engagement too. In Runescape's case, it was the fact that gear is expensive and combat drops are crap, so you almost always had to pick up a secondary craft to make goods to sell for money, and these crafts were almost always some variation of "gather resource > move to other location > process resource into product > move to other location > sell / store finished product > move to location > repeat from step one". The only reason players couldn't just drop this grind right there and then is because Runescape is a game of constantly moving towards goals, and then shifting those goalposts once you reach that target - much like the psychology behind Cookie Clicker, except at least Cookie Clicker does not want your fucking actual money for it.
    The rest is a little hard to comment on just on account of how much the game has changed, and not always for the better. Back when I still had any investment in the game, the whole thing was just a numbers game - in a fight, it was mostly just watching two health bars trickling downwards and then quaffing down some food if it got too low, and the winner of any given fight was usually determined simply by who had more food on hand. The system has changed drastically since then, this much I know, but I don't actually know what it IS anymore because I have no inclination to get back into it because every problem I have with Runescape and practically its whole genre is an intrinsic part of how it functions. No matter what it does and what it changes, Runescape will always be less of a game and more of a business model, wherein the players are the product rather than the customer, and preying apon gullible idiots who honestly believe they can get something for nothing is the norm in all of its forms.
    And to top it all off? People barely fucking interact with each other anyway unless it's to sell other people shit, so there isn't even any reason to play it as a social experience. And that's even assuming any of them are still legitimately human anymore - the game had a serious botting problem in the state I last left it, and by all accounts it sounds like it's gotten even worse since. Listen, there are much better games to play if you're in it to interact with other people, and they're not necessarily even MMOs. Don't fall into the same trap I did and believe more people online equals more people to talk to.
  24. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    JC Denton (Deus Ex)
    So remember how I said System Shock 2 inspired other games to follow its example? Deus Ex could almost be seen as a spiritual successor of sorts. It does many of the same general things as SS2 - an overarching levelling system that rewards you for your actions and interactions, special perks that can be acquired at various points throughout the game, and open-ended design that encourages you to explore your surroundings and solve problems your own way. This is about where the similarities end - rather than trapped aboard a starship stuck in the middle of two factions fighting for dominance, you're an agent in post-dystopian Earth, hunting down terrorists that have stolen a shipment of vaccines for a deadly virus sweeping the world.  And whereas gun handling in SS2 might influence your damage, guns are always deadly in Deus Ex - increasing your skills with them simply influences how good your aim is.
    You're probably thinking "why bother levelling up guns at all if they don't make you do more damage"? I'll tell you why - because your aim is absolutely atrocious without it. This doesn't come from the Unreal "bounce off a wall and lob a fully charged glob of GES Biorifle at someone's face in midair" school of shooter design by a long shot - without the right training, bullets can fly upwards of thirty degrees off target, and unless you stand perfectly still for a good 10-20 seconds you're just incapable of hitting a small target like someone's head reliably at all. It's a game that definitely encourages you to act cautious and be the first word in any firefight, because aiming requires you to be a sitting duck for an uncomfortable amount of time, which you definitely don't want with multiple motherfuckers with machineguns bearing down on you. Be that as it may, even I think the original Deus Ex's handling of this was extreme in ways it didn't need to be - if it were a brand new cop fresh out of basic training I'd understand, but JC is an incredibly expensive revolution in nanotechnology even in his absolute most basic form, and the one place I can't suspend my disbelief in this game is the idea that anyone, let alone UNATCO, would lead an investment like that into a small enemy army and a hostage situation with weapons comprehension closer to Guns Akimbo than The Matrix, right on the doorstep of their own fucking HQ.
    The rest of the writing though is absolutely groundbreaking for its time, though, and there's worldbuilding everywhere that slowly paints such a realistic picture of how its dystopian future came to be that the whole narrative could be likened to a playable redpill. In fact, not only are many of the circumstances that lead up to Deus Ex happening right the fuck now, in some facets the real thing is actually worse than Deus Ex imagined. Healthcare systems that leave people for dead if they don't have extortionate amounts of money to pay them (hmm), World policy being influenced by the mega-rich in order to further increase the wealth gap and control the weakening general populace (Hmm). A plot to control and censor the entire internet to gaslight people into believing this is all completely normal (although China probably still uses human moderators for this in the current day). And to top it all off:

    If this sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, good. It absolutely fucking should. Most of media in general, let alone videogames, don't treat modern oppression with this kind of accuracy and still weave it into a fictional narrative in the process - and it's there, above all else, that Deus Ex shines.
    So what about the rest of the DX games? Let's get the least controversial statement out of the way first - Invisible War is crap. Apparently it still has the same political and dystopian intrigue in its writing that its predecessor did, but it's streamlined to such degrees that it's actively harmful to itself, like all weapons using a single ammo type and their gigantic, wide open environments being squashed down into tiny rooms and corridors in order to show off their cutting edge lighting without killing their framerate in the process. If any game in the series can compare to the original, it's probably Human Revolution. It's dunked way too hard into yellow/sepia filters and treats every melee attack - even ones from the front against alert enemies long past any option of stealth - as a scripted animated takedown that completely interrupts the action and freezes everyone else around you, but everything else is still solid for what it is. I haven't touched Mankind Divided at all, mainly because the rampant fucking hypocrisy of a dystopian narrative caused by out of control corporate greed while parading around preorder incentives like this was absolutely not lost on me.
  25. Thumbs Up
    MightyRay reacted to Blacklightning in ITT BL reminisces over his entire game library   
    So this game has brought us a new milestone - we're officially in the new millennium. That's right, we've covered 10 years of gaming up to this point! Is it that time already? Well I guess I DID tell myself the N64 section of this list was kind of brief. I guess I don't have anything special to say this time, but it'd feel wrong if I didn't at least point it out, so moving on to our first game of the year 2000:

    Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
    "Perfect by name" gets thrown around a lot when discussing Perfect Dark. It isn't difficult to see why - although certain aspects of it have aged worse than others, it still stands as the best console FPS of its time, and could even be described as the best non-twinstick console shooter period depending on who you ask. As I do with most FPSs, it's pertinent to start with the arsenal, and PD has plenty to love - guns of all shapes, sizes, specialties and eccentricities, from the humble Falcon 2 to the dual purpose Superdragon. Probably its best known guns serve something of a gimmicky nature, such as the Farsight XR, an alien sniper rifle that can shoot across the map through walls and has an x-ray scope to match, and the Laptop Gun, which can be thrown wholesale against any surface to function as an automated turret. Of course, with weapons this diverse, the balance ebbs and flows a lot too - it's hard to justify a semi-auto weapon at all when most enemies die in just a handful of shots anyway, and the aformentioned Farsight is considered broken in most maps just by virtue of one shot killing enemies that aren't even in the same postcode as you without any danger to your own person. Not that it helps that there's absolutely no means of restoring your health in this game even when hit by shots that you can survive - depending on your difficulty or Combat Simulator settings, getting hit at all in a firefight can more or less sentence you to death in the next, so sometimes you have to make your modest health pool last for quite a goddamn while.
    One area that Perfect Dark is almost unmatched in even today though, is feedback. I don't just mean gun sounds, even though those are fucking fabulous too - I consider the Falcon 2 and CMP low points in that regard, but every other gun looks, sounds and feels so fucking cool to fire and I never get sick of it. But no, PD excels more in how enemies react to fire, with an attention to detail not seen before and rarely seen since. Enemies flinch and writhe depending on where your shots land, and there is a ridiculous amount of unique animations for hitting them in specific areas of their body, and can even have lasting effects on them if they survive it. Hit them in the leg, and they start limping everywhere. In the arm, they clutch their wounds whenever they walk, and I wouldn't be surprised if it affected their accuracy too. You can shoot their gun right out of their motherfucking hands if you're accurate enough, and they'll even hunt it down and pick it back up if you give them the opportunity to (or pull out a backup gun if they can't find it). And yes, you can shoot them in the dick or directly up the butthole. It doesn't serve any special purpose, but the animations are definitely amusing as all hell.
    Although I love this game to death, I still have to be honest and say that standards have changed. Mechanically speaking Perfect Dark is still brilliant, but it has that sub-20fps framerate that honestly seems to be a signature of late N64 titles, and there are sections of the game that suffer horribly because of it. Even putting aside the fact that it can make the game difficult to look at, the framerate also causes inputs to buffer incorrectly between lost frames, which often means you can't actually fire certain weapons (notably the aformentioned Falcon 2) as fast as they're designed to. I don't think I've ever seen another game eat inputs so bad that it can make an entire class of weapons worthless, made all the more irritating by the fact that said weapon class almost always forms your starting weapon in any given mission.
    The good news is that there are alternatives - certain emulator options allow you play Perfect Dark at its maximum possible framerate. Isn't it kinda crazy that this game is capped at 60fps even though it can almost never reach under normal circumstances? There are also options to play the game with mouse and keyboard, which if you ask me fixes almost every other remaining problem wiht the game and makes it well worth playing today. If for some reason you want to give Microsoft more money instead, the HD port of the game on XBLA is similarly optimized in the framerate department and has updated graphics that... I guess you either like or hate. Personally I just think they're unnecessary.
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