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Messages - kashell

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General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: June 12, 2024, 09:32:20 pm »
44. Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2

I'm not sure what it was that compelled me to get back into this series. I know I liked the first Swordcraft Story (and could have sworn I wrote a review for it!), but that was over a decade ago. Twin Age was a bit more recent, but not by much. Regardless, I'm glad I returned to Lyndbaum. Swordcraft Story 2 feels like a mostly solid follow-up from the first game. The themes and narrative are a bit more mature. There are some good and not-so-good additions that I'll talk about in a review. One thing that really baffled me was the lack of suspend feature. The first game had this, so why did it go away in the second. There's something called Anywhere Diaries that let you make a hard save, but for a game that is meant for quick romps having an item on hand isn't a good look. All that to say I think I prefer the first game over the second, but the second is still fun.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: June 11, 2024, 09:05:15 am »
I got 100% in Blasphemous 2 last week.  Terrific Metroidvania.  Definitely superior to the first game, which I did like, but found clunky and awkward in some places.  The sequel had better combat and exploration, and more fun collectibles.  Big hearty recommend if this is a genre you like.  Shout out to Kashell for convincing me to pick it up when it was on sale.

Silent Hill: The Short Message is a decent walking simulator with awful dialogue and not great actual gameplay sections.  Dug the vibe, didn't care for the majority of the rest of it.

I'm so glad you liked it!

Agreed on The Short Message. I liked how modern day stuff (smart phones, social media, COVID) somehow got implemented in the Silent Hill universe but the game was so unfun to play. I'm glad it was free - even then it was still too much.

General / Re: What are you playing?
« on: June 11, 2024, 09:00:38 am »
I feel so burnt out from all of the Souls games and never liked open world style games, but all of the Elden Ring talk since it's initial release has me so damn curious about it.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: May 30, 2024, 09:51:46 am »
43. Tales of Eternia

This was a journey. To date, I've played through this five times. It's easy to forget how far the series has come since 2000. I want to talk about the bad, which isn't that bad given the game's history. First, the controls aren't as tight as I remember. I played on my PlayStation 3, which might have had something to do with what seemed like a slight delay. In a game where combat requires you to be up close and super personal with the enemy, that caused a lot of frustration. Speaking of combat, it's a shame that the game basically forces you to make Reid your main. Yes, he's the main character and has the most abilities but playing as Farah provided its own level of fun. That said, both Reid and Farah don't come into their own until you're passed the halfway point. Combat remains slightly cumbersome before that. It doesn't help that most of the enemies are small.

Taking it a step further, to get the most out of Farah, you have to really dedicate time to fight a certain number of battles (300!) with her and use her moves one too many times. I tried my hardest to stick with her for the entire journey but Reid's combos just flowed better. There's also a lack of a grade shop, a lack of new game plus, a lack of a warning that says "saving over this cleared file will start you over", tedious cooking, and close to zero story inclusion for Max and Chat. The lack of a new game plus is the biggest hit because there's some neat stuff that can only be unlocked on a clear file, but doing so means starting from ground zero.

All that to say, the game is still a solid entry in the series. The game still looks amazing. The art style is just *chef's kiss*. Mutsumi Inomata (RIP) toned down her character designs and the game is better as a result of it. Sakuraba's musical style is in full effect, too. The adage of "third time's a charm" really rings true. Funnily enough, this was my third game in the series, too. Tales of Eternia provided a lot of firsts for the series: cooking (it's still tedious, but man it's helpful), manual mode, spells that don't freeze the combat, Mystic Artes, combination skills, cameo fights, and probably more that I'm missing. It's easy to sink a good 40 to 50 hours in every playthrough. Once you get to a certain point, combat becomes fluid and addictive. I'd spend a good hour or so just running around a dungeon trying different set ups to see what did and didn't work. I remember the first time I played this I wandered into a hidden dungeon all on my own pre-GameFAQs. I felt damn proud of myself for doing so.

I still stand by the fact that this is the best entry in the series to start with. Others will recommend Symphonia. That's a fine choice, but to really see where the series got some good bedrock for what's to come, then I say Eternia. This is also the game that would benefit most from some sort of reimagining. There's a lot of potential here to fix the above mentioned flaws and make something even more epic.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: May 24, 2024, 09:11:57 am »
42. Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity - A Ending

I ran through this game again, knowing what and what not to do in order to get the best/true ending. Usurper takes place after this ending so I'm geared up to begin that whenever the time comes. What a surprise this game was. I was initially turned off by it being ANOTHER Souls-like but there was a lot more to it. I'm a sucker for the creepy and atmospheric settings so that was able to outweigh my misgivings. If anyone is looking for something quick, challenging, and imaginative then I recommend this.

General / Re: IGN just acquired a ton of their competitors
« on: May 22, 2024, 02:46:18 pm »
I don't have a horse in this race. I just wanted to point out that you can't spell ignorant without IGN.

That motto has always made me chuckle.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: May 22, 2024, 09:45:56 am »
41. Skautfold: Shrouded in Sanity - B Ending

This is the first game that's part of the Skautfold: Bloody Pack. This was an impulse buy in the most major way. No research, no word of mouth, no nothing. I just saw the cover art and thought it looked cool. The price was nice, too: two games in one pack. I'm glad collections of games are becoming more and more popular. Anyways, Shrouded of Sanity can best be described as Souls-like (sigh) mixed with Castlevania mixed with Mega Man. You play as a corpse brought back to life that needs to put a stop to a deadly fog that's covered old-timey London. Said fog has turned the workers of the palace into bloodthirsty beasts. Stopping the fog requires you to kill four boss enemies in any order and then the big-bad king. It's gothic horror setting and zippy combat give nods to Bloodborne. I finished the game in about two hours. The game is tough, but as always, it's doable with enough patience. I'm glad I picked up this pack on a whim.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: May 08, 2024, 08:21:02 am »
40. Soul Hackers 2 - Paradise Lost Ending

Along with going through New Game Plus and getting the true ending, I was also able to get the platinum trophy. All demons in the compendium have been fused or summoned. All of the teammates had their soul levels at 200. All Soul Matrices have been explored. Everything else fell into place in the first playthrough. This was a very fun game. I enjoyed it way more than Persona 3. The main SMT series will always be my favorite, but Soul Hackers deserves some flowers. I liked its neon and techno vibe, the characters were relatable and likable, and the game didn't outstay its welcome. Doing everything took a good 60 hours across two files. There isn't too much else to say that hasn't been said from my previous post about it. I'll just end this update by recommending it to RPG fans.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: May 02, 2024, 08:25:50 am »
39. R-Type Final

I finished this game on the easiest setting appropriately named Baby. I'm not a shmup person in the slightest, but as always, I think it's important to get out of your comfort zone and play something different. Also, it further helped cleanse the palette before getting into my second file of Soul Hackers 2. I had no idea that R-Type had such a long history starting all the way back in 1987. At some point, I'd like learn more about the series. In terms of this one on the PlayStation 2, it was a lot of fun despite my lack of skill. There was a ton of variety in terms of ships, enemies, levels, weapons, and secrets. Outside of some slowdown the game still looked and played smoothly. I'm glad I took a chance on this one.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 29, 2024, 10:59:43 am »
38. Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge - Shizumaru

I feel like it's important to take a break from Soul Hackers 2 since I want the platinum but don't want to get too burnt out on things. So, I'm playing shorter games in the interim. Up first is a game from my favorite fighting series: Samurai Shodown. The fourth entry isn't my favorite but it's one of the most polished. I got a game over and a bad ending when I played as Basara, but managed to get through the entire game with my homie Shizumaru. The translation is terribly funny, and I'm still not sure how to do the C+D combo. But, this is a gorgeous 2D fighter that is tight on controls and characters. I definitely recommend it.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 27, 2024, 10:33:36 am »
37. Soul Hackers 2 - Beyond the Infinite Ending

I had way more fun with this than I thought I would. It was more SMT than Persona, but still had the few tidbits of Persona that I enjoyed. Toss in a futuristic, hyper neon Japan backdrop and a groovy soundtrack, and boom. A solid game that I'll definitely play again for the platinum. My biggest issue is that New Game Plus doesn't carry over the Soul Matrix Levels. That means having to go through each one again while building them up to 200. It's not a major con, but it's what's causing me to take a break from the game instead of jumping right back in. The FF feature will definitely be used to the fullest on that journey. It's weird because nearly everything else seemed to carry over, so why not the Soul Matrix levels? Either way, great game and one I'll get to back later (much later, likely) this year.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 21, 2024, 08:28:29 am »
36. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams

Another week of meetings and demos where I don't have to do too much means more time to get into some portable fun. I did a replay of one of my favorite characters: Klonoa. Empire of Dreams on the Game Boy Advance is definitely one of the easier titles in terms of action games, but Klonoa is so damn cute that it doesn't matter. Some of the stages are more challenging due to their puzzle-like layout than the enemies. It was fun to revisit this.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 20, 2024, 10:09:39 am »
I finished The Rising Tide in Final Fantasy XVI. I'm hoping that this is the last DLC. While it was more interesting than Echoes of the Fallen, it was more of the same stuff that the game has become infamous for. New Eikon skills and abilities were appreciated, and the story about Leviathan was done very well. Mysidia was absolutely gorgeous and the new tracks hit. Sadly, the second group of abilities you get are too little, too late because by the time you get them, the entire game will have already be completed by people like myself that started the game on day one. Ultimately, there was nothing transformative about this DLC. Once again, most of the time is spent in combat fighting enemies with inflated HP. The party AI seemed a bit more helpful this time around but it's really hard to say since Clive is constantly having to dodge and counter, giving little time to see what's going on around him. And then, there's the final battle against Leviathan. Eikon battles were already problematic, but this one just amplified it turning FFXVI into a full-on third-person shooter. Even if you disregard the time limit midway through the fight, all of the nonsense and cinematography going on turned the game into a button mashing snooze fest.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 15, 2024, 09:15:22 am »
35. Samba de Amigo: Party Central

After clearing all songs on Normal, a few on Hard and Very Hard, and doing some of the stuff on Streamigo, I figure that I can count this as finished. I remember seeing the original game once at an anime convention years ago during the Dreamcast's heyday. It looked fun, but other games looked more fun so I didn't bother waiting in line to try it. So, this was my first time experiencing anything related to the world of Samba de Amigo. Like any motion-based rhythm game, this one has the usual good and bad. The good is the great selection of music (some of the tunes made it onto my gym playlist), a ton of ways to customize your amigo, and just an overall "fun" feeling when you vibe to the music. The bad is that things can get really distracting and the Wii-like motion controls. That last part is why I preferred to play with a controller. It didn't have that same maraca-feeling, but at least the timing was more precise. Both controller and joy-con have their issues, but it doesn't stop the overall package from being fun. I recommend it to music fans those looking to kill some time with a friend or by themself.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 12, 2024, 09:34:02 pm »
34. Star Ocean: The Second Story R - Rena

Rena's journey is finished. The final party was Claude, Ashton, Dias and Precis. I got the Rena x Precis ending, which was kind of dull given Precis' usual chipper attitude. I did a fair amount of scene skipping since a lot of the narrative is old-hat, and since I like Claude more than Rena. But, this was still a fun file in an already fun game. So, with the platinum trophy acquired, now what? I know for a fact that there will come a time when I get that urge to do yet another replay. This game has that kind of staying power and draw. The QoL features added make it so much easier and accessible to jump into a replay, too. A new game with Claude where I can have both Noel and Chisato in the group is next on my list. But, that won't be for a while.

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