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Messages - dhaabi

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General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: December 03, 2021, 09:01:18 pm »
44. The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes || PlayStation 5 || 12.02.21

As a the third title in Supermassive Game's horror anthology series, The Dark Pictures: House of Ashes should, by now, be something fans are familiar with while knowing what to expect. By far and large, the established mechanics and trends return.

Honestly, I remember watching the initial teaser trailer for this entry when it was shown in 2020, and I was not at all interested in the plot. A story about the U.S. military invasion of Iraq set in 2003? I don't know.... However, the story in House of Ashes was much better than I expected, as the entry removes itself from the psychological horror aspects presented in the former two entries and Until Dawn and instead delves into supernatural horror. Trapped underground in unknown territory, both U.S. and Iraqi forces must survive by working together to overcome their shared adversaries. As the narrative reminds us time and time again, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Remaining true to feature a playable cast of five, House of Ashes also reserves plenty of screen time for NPCs that are crucial for plot development which was a nice addition. With the extended cast, so many different types of characters were designed that showcase their varying methods in not only handling their immediate danger but also handling the war at-large. In particular, two members of the main cast see tremendous growth in their stories as the largely interact with one another. On the other hand, the remaining three members and their stories focus on a failing marriage and love affair. There are some other issues touched upon with these three characters, but the attention is given to this aspect which is something I found disappointing. Knowing this to be a life-or-death situation, I would have rather seen these characters face a different direction for the writing to have taken.

Having seen extensive gameplay of roughly four separate shared playthroughs prior to my solo playthrough, I can say confidently that the game excels in how character traits and relationships were built as this is, by far, the most successful entry in the series to rely upon these mechanics and how they relate to character outcomes. Having never seen a shared experience before for previous series entries, the weight in player decisions was paramount in a solo playthrough compared to a shared one which I believe is a development decision made right and have read that has been improved for this entry. When reading a developer Q&A segment, I learned that over 60 deaths for the main cast were implemented which shows the depth and changes the narrative offers.

After playing through each of the three available anthology entries to date, I'm definitely looking forward to what future entries offer. A teaser for the fourth entry was shown, and the content has again shifted to focus on body horror/escape horror similar to the Saw movie franchise. Going back to that developer Q&A, it was said that the team has identified 30 unique horror sub-genres that they can pull from for ideas. At the same time, they are more than interested in growing beyond the originally-planned eight entry anthology if consumer interest remains high. Building off of player feedback and growing more comfortable with what their series exists as, Supermassive Games continues to publish quality titles that horror fans of any genre will love.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: December 02, 2021, 07:51:30 pm »
43. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope || PlayStation 4 || 12.01.21

As the second formal entry of Supermassive Games' anthology series, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope continues the line of gameplay elements, themes, and tropes that its predecessor Man of Medan and earlier studio title Until Dawn established as an interactive adventure game.

Taking place in another modern day setting, the game revolves around a group of individuals surviving a bus accident in the late hours. Seeking refuge, their only means to success is to travel through the desolate town of Little Hope, which has been abandoned some decades ago. However, they soon realize that there is more to this town than meets the eye, as a mysterious fog prevails them from turning away from town while deadly forces and past demons pursue them. With the town of Little Hope's history steeped rich in history regarding witch trials of the late 17th century, the cast repeatedly comes in contact with these haunting moments of the past face-to-face.

Unlike Man of Medan which featured a cast with little personality, character development, or group interaction, Little Hope tackles these issues directly by improving upon these faults to various degrees. Gameplay feels much more balanced with cutscenes appearing regularly that showcase how each character and the group altogether address their immediate problems. As far as its narrative, the story is more interesting as more detail is given, the pacing has been improved, and the forces to overcome are more threatening. As far as quality-of-life improvements, the fixed camera positions of Man of Medan have been replaced with player camera control, which allows for improved exploration throughout a more fulfilling environment. This last change is not necessarily good or bad, but its execution was successful and better suited for Little Hope.

On the other hand, in my one playthrough, I did find negativity in how decision-making affects the outcomes of characters. While it can be praised that player choices have a huge weight regarding how later events unfold, it can not be overlooked how the endgame seems to wholly rely on the player having not only made specific choices prior but to play the entire story a certain way. During the final scene, I had no control over some characters and how they handled their threats—instead, their fates simply happened on their own as a result of these characters not having reached certain character traits. I did not enjoy this aspect, as I feel as if the player should be able to make the decisions they are wanting to make while having to confront whatever possible outcomes, however difficult they may or may not be, on their own and not be sentenced to an automatic fate.

Admittedly, fans of the series have polarizing opinions regarding this title largely relating to the ending and the variety in final character outcomes. Nevertheless, I am one who greatly enjoyed my time playing and understand the story's conclusion differently than some and not at face value which some others choose to believe. Overall, I find Little Hope to be more successful as a follow-up title.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: December 01, 2021, 04:17:12 pm »
42. PaRappa the Rapper || PlayStation || 11.30.21

As a pioneer to the rhythm genre, PaRappa the Rapper is a wonderful demonstration for early adopters to the PlayStation brand for what the console and its continued success has to offer. Having first played the game long after its debut around 2012, I quickly understood PaRappa to be something quite special.

Unlike many other rhythm games that succeeded it, PaRappa is not simply a rhythm game. Instead, it presents its music in the form of a story about titular PaRappa, a teenage dog who, over the course of the game, wishes to win the heart of his love interest Sunny Funny, a bubbly and fun flower girl. Easily, PaRappa seems to find himself in wacky situations while meeting even wackier characters, ranging from taking karate lessons to selling possessions at a flea market, in his pursuit to impress Sunny.

Set in a contemporary 1990s city, PaRappa's world is bright and eccentric while home to a variety of inhabitants, from humans to animals and anthropomorphic persons. It is a world familiar to players but, at the same time, is quite cartoon-like. While colorful, the world is simple with little to no shadows or depth, with its overall presentation looking similar to an image made in MS Paint. However, that early 90s 3D polygonal look is also present yet strongly contrasts to the characters who are fully 2D, even when viewed from a side profile.

On the topic of the gameplay itself, it is perhaps the weakest element to the game. Stages are set up in a call-and-response type fashion with PaRappa rapping in-tune with the music's flow. However, the gameplay is not that simple. While the call-and-response available, it does not guarantee success, which is especially true for later stages. At times, the player is required to experiment with inputted controls which can easily result in a spastic sound that heavily perverts the song. With a vague scoring system, PaRappa needs to maintain a Good score by the end of the final verse to clear the stage, but the vague experimentation that is sometimes necessary is by no means clear in what is acceptable or not. Fortunately, tracks are short—in addition to all sounding catchy—which allows for quick follow-up attempts. On that note, when elevating to a Cool score, PaRappa is given control to freestyle rap. I have rarely been able to reach this status, but watching videos online of others doing illustrates again how unsteady and broken freestyling is.

While not a perfect game, PaRappa the Rapper is one that I imagine many consider to be recognized positively for its entire presentation and its accomplishments. With the actual gameplay not being consistent and reliable in terms of how scoring functions, it may seem unusual to still consider PaRappa a fantastic title. The game's success is highly supported by its style and music that I'm sure many here would enjoy.

Video Game Database Discussion / Re: Error Listings and rejected edits 2021
« on: November 30, 2021, 02:15:42 pm »
okay, this is awkward beacause I just looked over both of the boxes and there is no "Package Edition", so yeah......

I'm guessing then should be just "VenusBlood Frontier International" should be just "VenusBlood Hollow International"

Edit submissions have been approved.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: November 30, 2021, 01:45:09 pm »
41. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom || PlayStation 2 || 11.28.21

Like many others, I was certainly a fan of the TV series SpongeBob SquarePants during its prime throughout the early 2000s. At the time of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom's release, I owned the game and enjoyed my time with it but eventually removed it from my collection. Nearly 20 years later, I finally was able to re-visit the game once more.

As a game referencing source material from another medium, it excels in recreating a player-driven experience. Numerous references to the TV series are shown, with most shown in the form of the diverse levels to explore. Other times, there are small moments and jokes taken from the TV series. By far and large, the game's writing and tone do well at recreating what the series is known best for, with original dialogue sounding like something that easily could have been a part of the show itself. This principle is driven further by having much of the original voice cast to reprise their roles, with only two minor characters being played by new actors.

Upon starting, I quickly realized just why this title is highly regarded, as its gameplay holds up quite well by modern standards. As a typical 3D platforming collect-a-thon, Battle for Bikini Bottom features varied controls split between three playable characters, with SpongeBob's moveset being able to be expanded upon as the narrative continues. As a children's game, the gameplay is forgiving but not always straight-forward in difficulty. When health is fully depleted, the player-character respawns at the last checkpoint which always affects most enemies and breakables. While minor, the only issue that I encountered was becoming accustomed to the camera controls which are assigned to the right analog stick as opposed to the shoulder buttons which are generally used in modern titles. Apart from this aspect, the game controls well, and any errors are largely in part to player input.

With the narrative focusing on Bikini Bottom being overrun by uncontrollable robots designed by Plankton, the core gameplay is action-oriented to combat these forces. However, another gameplay style that is revisited over and over again is a form of snowboarding that references source material. These segments are generally okay and are fairly simple to get through for a casual experience. However, if one wishes to gather all collectables, a small challenge does present itself to the player. Nevertheless, these segments added a nice change of pace to the game's action-platforming.

Overall, Battle for Bikini Bottom is a highly recommended title for fans of the show and for fans of 3D platformers. The game has aged well, and it makes sense that a remake was developed in recent years. On that note, I am glad that I pursued playing the original game as it relies on the same art direction as the show itself. On the other hand, the remake features bright, high contrasted colors which look nothing like SpongeBob from this era.

I bought way too much.  BF sales, cheap games, B2G1 sales, other shenanigans

I see you're prepared for 2022's 52++ Game Challenge.  ;)

Video Game Database Discussion / Re: Duplicate List 2021
« on: November 25, 2021, 12:13:05 pm »
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PS4 NA)
Original -
Dupe -

209341 features incorrect artwork. There are both Day One Edition and non-edition releases.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: November 24, 2021, 02:39:38 pm »
40. Carto || Nintendo Switch || 11.23.21

Having picked up Carto after watching a brief trailer and knowing nothing else, I wasn't really sure what to expect prior to playing aside from adventure-puzzle gameplay.

That being said, Carto tells the story of young titular character Carto as she travels the skies with her grandmother. As a family of cartographers, they have the ability to perform a sort of geomancy in constructing and deconstructing the world by way of map-making. The story begins as Carto accidentally creates a storm when using their map and is separated from her grandmother, while the map itself has been torn, divided, and scattered across the lands below.

Seeking to be reunited with her grandmother, Carto relies on finding the scattered map pieces while traversing the world and meeting new kinds of people. In the world presented, peoples are divided across varied regions and environments yet seem to all share ancestral origins. The first group of people Carto meets explains their people's customs, in that, upon coming-of-age, a person leaves their homeland and must find home elsewhere with another group of people. While each having their own specific cultures largely relating to their environment, each group is reliant upon their nearby terrain and wildlife while all practicing nomadic cultures.

From grasslands and forests to deserts and tundras, Carto connects the land back together as more pieces of the map is found. Throughout her journey, she inevitably solves the problems in the daily lives of those she meets. As far as the game's puzzle mechanics offer, tiles of land must be connected in certain ways or in certain proximity to other tiles. Upon doing so, the story can move froward, as characters then move to certain areas and even new tiles of land emerge. On that note, land tiles are unique and do not connect with every other tile. Environmental aspects such as rivers and paths must connect together seamlessly on each connecting side. When solving puzzles, tiles will be moved and rotated again and again. At times, how a tile is currently rotated is crucial to solving the problem at-hand. Toward the end of the game, as opposed to single tiles of land, a region's land segments are instead presented as tetrominos. There was a little more challenge in regards to some puzzles presented here, and it did come off as more annoying than not.

Overall, Carto is a casual yet endearing game. The adventure itself and people met are welcoming and warm. While there is only one large end goal, dozens of smaller goals must be met in order for young Carto to move forward as she and her grandmother inch closer to each other yet repeatedly remain out-of-reach due to the environment. As far as the game's puzzles, they do require thought but are not overly challenging. As someone who enjoys this blend of genres yet does not prefer too much of a challenge, I found Carto to offer the right level of difficulty. As a short experience of under 10 hours, Carto is recommendable for those looking for a fair amount of adventure-puzzle gameplay difficulty that offers a feel-good story.

General / Re: VGC's Anonymous/"General" Topic:
« on: November 23, 2021, 02:22:56 pm »
Looking at these sale lists, it's literally the same crap that's been put on sale year after year with a handful of recent, but not so major releases thrown in. I feel it's a sign that nothing all that exciting or important is even coming out anymore in the video games industry.

If there is a lack of discounted titles or titles not as heavily discounted, that is due to publishers knowing that they can still meet sales expectations without doing so and is especially true for Nintendo. It is not a reflection of what is to come.

News / Re: Happy Halloween & Site Updates!
« on: November 19, 2021, 10:07:01 pm »
Nice work! Could this feature include the ability to edit Wish List and Sell List items from entry pages as well?

Thrilled to hear about updates :)

*cough* Ability to Edit Your Own Items from the Game page *cough*

Added the ability to edit your Collection items from the Item page.

To clarify, this is possible when accessing the "Your Stuff" tab on an individual entry page.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2021
« on: November 18, 2021, 08:49:33 pm »
39. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan || PlayStation 4 || 11.17.21

As a planned eight-entry anthology series, The Dark Pictures is Supermassive Games' follow-up to their well-received title Until Dawn. Adopting familiar gameplay and tones as its predecessor, the collection offers more stories to be shared and decided upon by the player's involvement but in a shorter format while also allowing for a shared two-player experience. The anthology begins with Man of Medan, which, honestly, left me feeling more like I had played Man of Meh-dan.

As previously mentioned, each entry in The Dark Pictures allows for a solo or two-player experience, with my playthrough adopting for the former. Having just played Until Dawn within the past month, a lot of mechanics and details felt the same, which is something I enjoyed. However, the execution was not. As an interactive adventure title, its success is reliant upon the weight of player-input. Unfortunately, it felt that moments of critical decision made little difference to the unfolding story; additionally, these moments felt far and few between.

Critical to every adventure title, well-defined characters are key to a promising game. Again, Man of Medan struggled with this aspect too. At the end of the game, I understood who the characters were just as much as I had within the first hour of playing. While playing, there is almost zero character development. At the same time, there is almost zero character interaction between themselves. Even during free-roaming moments with characters in the vicinity, there is not even the option to speak to others. Just as Until Dawn, decisions determine characters' traits and relationships, yet this crucial element to the series felt the least developed. In the end, it felt as if my decisions had no effect on how characters interacted with others or, at the very least, responded to situations.

Relying upon quick-time events, this aspect generally did well. However, the lack of variety in them was a little disappointing. Unlike Until Dawn, which required more aim-and-respond type inputs, Man of Medan now offered only one or two of these moments. I personally enjoy the more action-oriented responses, so seeing this mechanic become largely diminished was disappointing. However, a new type of player response was added in the form of heartbeat control. While not a quick-time event, it does relay on timed button presses, and I did find this aspect to be successful. At times, the meter's tempo may change more than once, which turns a stressful moment even more so.

Lastly, and, quite frankly, I found the story to be underwhelming and, surprisingly, not scary. Perhaps this is in part to the characters, but, even on its own, the story did not feel as strong as what Until Dawn offered. With a weak cast and half-length story compared to its predecessor, Man of Medan suffers from needing more detail and world-building.

As each of the subsequent entries in the anthology follow a shorter narrative experience, I can only hope that these entries address these shortcomings. Until Dawn exceeded well with more of an expanded story and developed characters, so perhaps follow-up anthology entries can somehow find a means to lean more in to what made Until Dawn exceed so well.

Video Game Database Discussion / Re: X Box One / X Box Series X
« on: November 16, 2021, 11:23:34 am »
Ok I understand but shouldn't that mean you would need both Items listed separately under the X Box One? Because their are two separate entries at different price points.One is cross gen and the cheaper one is not? Also thank you in advance for your help with this.

So, Vanguard should have 2 entries in the Xbox One section, one for the Xbox One version, and the other for the bundle of the Xbox One & Series X versions.

There are two separate Call of Duty: Vanguard Xbox items, so two entries are permitted in the same category.

Xbox One / Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X / Xbox One

When the second item has an en entry created, the title descriptors can rely on either their differing back item numbers or their differing front black labels like I typed out above.

Video Game Database Discussion / Re: X Box One / X Box Series X
« on: November 15, 2021, 09:12:23 pm »
Xbox Series X games can be submitted. In fact, there are numerous Xbox Series X games currently in their respective categories and are valid. That being said, the community earlier this year engaged in both a discussion thread and polling thread regarding how multi-platform or co-branded releases are to be categorized in our database.

Concerning entries you've created such as Call of Duty: Vanguard, the packaging states both Xbox One and Xbox Series X. The community has decided that co-branded releases like this should be categorized in the oldest console mentioned. Entries that are currently organized in the Xbox Series X categories mention only Xbox Series X—not Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

Site Feedback / Re: Problem with adding new games
« on: November 15, 2021, 01:10:20 pm »
I've been submitting new entries within the past hour without any problem. Try resizing your images to a smaller size before submitting them. This is generally the issue when submitted entries time out which causes blank entries to be made.

Blank entries have been removed.

Video Game Database Discussion / Re: Duplicate List 2021
« on: November 13, 2021, 01:59:33 pm »
I'm not entirely sure:
Anime Freak FX Vol. 1
Those two are the exact same listing

I assume that koemo1 meant to instead also link 89974.

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