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Messages - kashell

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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.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 08, 2024, 10:00:48 am »
I got about three to four hours in the demo for SaGa Emerald Beyond. Maybe less. Like any game, even one in my favorite series, I kept my expectations low. But, yikes. This was not a good demo. If it's indicative of what's to come then I'm bummed.

I played on Switch, so I was forced to select Ameya. The overall controls and schematics were clunky. Inputting selections for menus had delays whether docked or handheld. For those that play on other consoles it might be different. Exploration was fine. Combat? Not so much. Either I missed something during the influx of tutorials, or combat is truly that random. Basically, both sides might act twice, or interrupt one another, or do other bizarre things that didn't make a lick of sense.

Finally, the game was ugly. At least Scarlet Grace had some polish.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: April 04, 2024, 09:22:19 am »
33. Unicorn Overlord

I'm calling it right here, right now. This is my game of the year. I realize that Emerald SaGa and the next Mana are coming up, but this was gaming excellence in every sense. It combined the best of so many classics, poured over new features, had such a memorable cast despite its massive size, and looked/sounded beautiful from start to end. Vanilla Ware really stepped up with this one. I'm stoked to get a review going so I can continue to gush about it. It's officially made my top ten - something I never expected a modern game to do.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: March 31, 2024, 05:29:48 pm »
I'm back from the Louisville Arcade Expo, and this year's might have been one of the best. It doesn't necessarily get better each year, but it consistently provides a good time. Especially post-pandemic era. I was able to sit down and knock out some excellent games when I wasn't marveling/playing the new pinball machines. Games I won't include as "completed" are Tekken 8, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Super Smash Bros., CarnEvil, The House of the Dead 2, Dragon Masters (another Street Fight II clone from the early 90s), Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone, and probably a few more that I'm forgetting.

26. jubeat
Despite only playing this in arcades, I feel like I've gotten much better at it. The music really consume you, which makes tapping the cubes much easier than other music and rhythm games. This is also the most efficient music game; it doesn't take up too much space so I'm trying to rationalize having one in the house. ...half-joking.

27. Dance Dance Revolution Xtreme
I mean, if there's DDR, then you know good and goddamn well that ya boy is going to dance his ass off. I spent a lot of time with this one.  It was a blast, and proof that muscle memory is indeed a thing. As per usual, 1998 was the song I played the most. It's my favorite DDR song of all time. My DDR tattoo was admired during the process.

28. The Maze of the Kings
This one of the new games I played. It was first released in 2002 but didn't hear of it until now. It's a first person rail shooter that has a rogue-like element. So, the stages you move through and the enemies within are randomized. The gun is shaped like an Anubis head. The early aughts graphics were STRONG in this one, and the game was better for it. I love it when I encounter new things from yesteryear. But, this especially applies to one of my favorite eras of gaming.

29. Invasion - The Abductors
Just like The Maze of the Kings, this is another first person rail shooter I never heard of until now. And just like the above, it was released during that special period of gaming (1999) where 3D was the new big to-do. I went in with the lowest of expectations, but had such a good time that I ended up finishing it. There was a surprising amount of sleekness and polish to it that made it stand out from other games around the time like House of the Dead or CarnEvil. I would definitely sink quarters into this if I saw it outside of a free-to-play arcade.

30. Chunithm
It's like Guitar Hero, but with piano keys and a massive selection of J-Pop. Yet another game I never heard of. I think. There's a chance I played this last year but I've slept since then. This one was intense. The keys range in sizes, so the more difficult songs have smaller keys. There's also holding the keys, removing them at the right time, moving them across the keyboard, and elevating your hands at just the right angle. The music is intense and upbeat, and the way it all comes together with the keyboard is a musical masterpiece. Yet another one I hope to see outside a convention and in an arcade.

31. Rock Band
Normally, I wouldn't count Rock Band "completed" for something like this. But, I played A TON of this. Usually, I took vocals and would "sing" (see what I did there) while others played the instruments. It was a blast because it allowed me to meet and connect with other con-goers. Games and music are two things that tend to bring people from all walks of life together. Rock Band combines them in a solid way.

32. Music Gun Gun 2
I'm saving the best for last. Another game I never heard of until now. A shooting/rhythm game in all the best ways possible. Colorful graphics. A ton of music. Easy to pick up gameplay that is, naturally, close to impossible to master. Two-player options. Etc. In terms of gaming at the expo, this was the highlight. My favorite song to play was Cruel Angel's Thesis. All of the games above are fun, but this one is the one that would warrant a drive across state lines to play it. I hope to play this again in the near future, and I really hope this game comes back next year.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: March 31, 2024, 10:43:58 am »
5. Afterimage (PS4)

Holy crap. Took me over 40 hours to get the good ending in this game. Not because it’s difficult (frankly, it’s on the easy side), but because it’s just so HUGE. By far the biggest world of any Metroidvania I’ve played.

Plus, it has 10 (!!!) endings. And to get the one, canon “good” ending, there’s so many steps I never would have figured it out without looking it up.
Anyway, here’s a rundown for the MV enthusiasts out there:

- Absolutely GORGEOUS visuals
- HUGE explorable map
- Tight controls
- Fun combat
- Cool variety of weapons, each with their own advantages and special abilities
- A ton of secrets, things to do, and quests to complete
- Music is good, if unmemorable

- Map might be TOO big, game takes too long to complete
- English translation is very iffy. Script desperately needs another pass by a native English speaker
- Story is very hard to follow, partly due to the translation issues mentioned above
- Voice acting is hit-or-miss. Some names and terms aren’t pronounced the same way consistently between characters
- Almost NO guidance (some might consider that a good thing, but IMO a map this big necessitates more guidance)
- Some powers and abilities are barely explained, or not explained at all (for example, the ability to heal yourself through prayer, or how to upgrade weapons)

Thanks for this thorough write-up. I have it in my backlog for when it's time for another Metroidvania.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: March 16, 2024, 10:04:49 pm »
25. Persona 3 Reload

The first Persona I've ever finished. It's the only one the series I've had any interest in because of its sleek look and interesting themes. For some reason it kept slipping under my radar. While I'm glad I finished it, I'm so glad that it's over. The rigidness of the Social Links, some overly long cut scenes that the FF feature couldn't even help with, and most of the soundtrack were what I'll remember more than the epic story, the cool characters, and the (sometimes) fun combat. I'll always prefer the mainline SMT to this. At some point, I do want to try P5 Royal, but it'll be after a long, long time. This was a long game. If not for Unicorn Overlord being so addictive, I would likely take a massive break from RPGs.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: March 11, 2024, 02:41:20 pm »
24. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow - Soma

Of all the Castlevania games on the Game Boy Advance, this one is objectively the best. There's so much excellence packed in that it's easy to see why the majority of fans have it as their favorite of the three, and a favorite in general. I told myself that I would just make this a casual playthrough and not bother doing everything. Well, that idea got shot to Hell near the end when I kept discovering new things. As a result, I was able to get all of the Souls and most of the rare drops from all the enemies. At this point, I'm good on Metroidvanias for a while. I want to play Harmony of Dissonance with a cleansed palette, and beyond that, I want to eventually give Julius mode in this game a whirl.

General / Re: 52 Games Challenge 2024!!!!!
« on: March 05, 2024, 10:49:32 am »
Another demo down. This one was for Unicorn Overlord. And, what a demo it was. I think I logged six or seven hours in it, which is just bananas for a demo. The amount of narrative covered and the amount of stuff to do in the demo topples regular games. If this is a sign of things to come, then I can see this being a very long game. But, everything presented was epic. I feel like I'm playing a combination of Brigandine, Ogre Battle, Venus and Braves, and Final Fantasy Tactics. There are probably others in there, too. All of it is backed by Vanilla Ware's looks and sounds. My only complaint is that it is tough to play while in handheld mode. I'll still play it that way, but I'm going to try to play it docked when I get it and after I finish P3R.

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