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Finished Final Fantasy Legend (GB)

This is a spin-off to the Final Fantasy series and related to the Sa-Ga series made by Square Enix.

The whole thing with Legend is it’s “a lot more epic than it seems like it should be”. See the games I remember Game Boy original were fairly light in subject matter, emotional power and how the story is delivered. But, this game:
• Levels with a scary unkillable monster
• Real actual character death
• An ending sequence where you fight the creator of the universe
Confirmed the creator of the universe is wearing a top hat
It turns out the composer for this game is also Nobuo Uematsu the same as mainline Final Fantasy series except for XIII. If you listen carefully you can hear similarities to the rest of the series’ music.

For the gameplay, you have the flexibility of choosing all characters in your party and their type (Human, Mutant, Monster). The game suffers from some balancing issues which make certain bossfights far, far disproportionally harder than others.

There is apparently an homage to Legend in Final Fantasy XIII where (spoiler) Orphan can be killed instantly by Vanille’s Death spell. It is not 100% guarantee but there is a chance particularly if staggered. In the Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania book it says outright this was an intentional reference to Legend.

November 22nd, 2018 at 9:24 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Gundam Wing: Endless Duel (SNES)
Story Mode with Vayeate

This is a Gundam-inspired fighting game released in Japan only. You can play as several of the Gundams from the show. Gosh this game has so much graphical polish and the soundtrack is A++++. For this I played through the story mode and recorded it on my capture card.

I got this replica cart to play it

From playthrough (recorded with my awesome new capture card)–

Deathscythe and Epyon if unlocked are very over-powered in this game. In general the mechs are not very balanced. Still, my regular tends to be Vayeate because it is my favorite from the show. Life would be boring if everyone playing Street Fighter was Zangief, right?? Vayeate has a couple good features- this huge space rifle-like thing that can be used as a bludgeoning weapon, plus a few attacks that go diagonally.

August 12th, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Wonder Project J (SNES)

What it is- Pinocchio: the anime game

The scientist Geppetto has constructed a robot named Pino, part of a special family of robots called Gijin. In a tragic and sudden surprise, Geppetto was captured by the evil rulers of the kingdom before he was able to finish Pino’s programming. You play as Tinker, a magical fairy who guides Pino toward being able to rescue the kingdom and his creator Geppetto.

You don’t control Pino directly, but Tinker. Tinker can direct Pino left or right, or tell him to stop; signal to him “right!” or “wrong!” She can tell him to interact with an object, she can pick up and move objects.

Interactions with Tinker comprise the building blocks with which Pino learns language, combat, good manners, sports, musical instruments. And how not to eat the cat. (In my 1st playthrough he hoisted the cat up into the air and into his mouth and it disappeared. I think it’s a glitch, but he gained a bunch of health from it, so… I dunno…)

Another game never released in the west. It turns out there is not much of a market for these sorts of simulators. It was tantalizing reading about this in Nintendo Power magazine but there was no typical way to play it.

Playing it in the late 90s / early 2000s was difficult because it was only available in Japanese and there didn’t yet exist any English-language guides. Fortunately the gameplay is very all-ages friendly and visually explanatory, so it worked well as a learning tool for some words and vocabulary at that time.

Graphically it was all about really layered, complicated backgrounds and big smoothly-animated characters. Oh, and voice acting. In an SNES game. When Pino learns something, he actually says “Wakatte wa!” (Got it! / I understand it). There’s a poignant moment where he says “Arigatou… minna”. There were maybe 5 or 6 voice clips like that. I really want to know what percent of the cartridge was dedicated to storing wave file sound. Voice acting in SNES games exists but it’s very rare.

Today there is a 100% complete fan translation. A superb one at that. It’s been worth the wait.

February 23rd, 2018 at 12:07 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts (SNES)

This one, I streamed it live on Twitch. Thanks to those who joined in! The playthrough consisted of going through all levels of the game, beating the last boss, then doing all levels AGAIN and beating the new final boss to get the “real” ending. Completion time: about 2 hours 16 minutes.

This game was released by Capcom in ’91, making it very early-gen. It is notorious for being a finicky oldschool 2D platformer. It is all about double-jumping and its unique flavor of double-jumping is hard to get used to. It is easy to take damage and taking two damages kills you.

Something I like about this game is how it’s easy to just dive in and play without much time commitment. No long, annoying cutscenes, no tutorial, you just sort of blast right through. I practiced this game a bit while listening to an audio-book and it was a nice way to keep myself occupied. As some telegraphing is sound-based it’s not super mute friendly but you can do it.

It has some things going for it: the art direction is good for the time at which it came out, and the early and midgame levels are creatively designed.

The game is severely held back by the amount of content recycling. Enemies, bosses, level progression. The hardest-to-forgive is how it forces you to effectively play through the same content twice to get to the ending.

I don’t recommend this game. If you want a sense of what its art direction has to offer, play a different but related game Demon’s Crest.

February 14th, 2018 at 1:11 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Minion (PC)

This is an indie game developed by a friend of mine. This game follows the visual novel genre, where gameplay consists of dialogue choices that branch out into many story possibilities.

For all games of this genre, sometimes the story outcomes and narrative flow are predictable based on your decisions; sometimes they aren’t. Seeing how it unfolds is a lot of what makes it fun, though.

In this game you play the role of a minion, the title character- the lowly servant to the sorcerer-queen Althea who rules over a medieval fantasy-type kingdom. Althea is powerful but so is her ego and her potential for cruelty. She doesn’t, as a default, consider the needs of her subjects. As her minion, you have the opportunity to step in and help the subjects of her kingdom! Or not. There are a lot of different choices.

The game doesn’t transparently show its statistics to you and it keeps things interesting. You draw conclusions about what actions cause what chages if any. For example, the ‘Exercise’ action appears to improve your combat ability. Also, ‘Reading’ will improve how sensitive or artistically inclined your character is. You don’t readily see the effects of your stats, but they will affect certain events such as the annual harvest festival competitions.

Playthrough #1: A neutral-good, middle-of-the-road strategy for all my decisions. BAD IDEA. I ended up battling the dragon and getting annihilated. Since I hadn’t developed my combat skill enough, I couldn’t fight the dragon. Since I hadn’t done anything selfish, I didn’t have combat items. Since I hadn’t unlocked the relevant events, I couldn’t enlist another’s help to fight the dragon for me. This game does NOT favor the ‘balanced build’.

Playthrough #2: Be completely useless. Do nothing all the time, read books if I have no other option. Don’t help Althea. Don’t help the townspeople. Don’t go to festivals or do much of anything. Althea ended up killing me for my insolence. I don’t know what I expected!

Playthrough #3: Kiss up to Althea. She is a sorceress-queen, so this should be a valuable relationship, right? I got her gifts, went to events with her, and chose dialogue options that made her happy. I *think* this unlocked some options where she can fight battles instead of me. This mostly worked out well, except for the battle at the end against the wizard. Whatever I did, I wasn’t able to ensure she or I or the kingdom’s army were powerful enough. I have a feeling there is a special ending involving Althea but I wasn’t able to get past this part.

Playthrough #4: Lawful-good warrior. Choose decisions that benefit the townsfolk, AND exercise all the time, AND get magic items (sword, armor, shield) even if it means hiding them from Althea and getting her mad at me. This ended up working out well. I was able to kill the dragon, AND the Wichaea guards, AND the wizard himself, and get a good ending!

Overall, I loved playing this game particularly because of the writing. The culmination of how your decisions affect later outcomes was interesting to discover and the writing was the vehicle for that. Dialogue was at times serious, and silly, and breaking the 4th wall and involving pop culture references. There is considerable depth you may or may not even get to see, depending on what story branch you take.

Still need to find out what happens if you don’t throw the One Ring into the volcano. Or how to improve my dancing ability. So many unanswered questions!

February 7th, 2018 at 1:39 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Became Immortal in Deathwish (PC, Telnet)

MUD, MUSH, MUCK, and MOO, or MU*/ M** are classes of text-based multiplayer game which tend to be played over Telnet protocol. Originating from a time where there was Internet but no web browsers, many MUDs were popular in the 80s and 90s and some are still played today.

Deathwish has been continuously online since ’94, making it one of the oldest MUDs still in continuous operation.

Once called “Aaezure Odyssey”, I played it in the late 90s and early 2000s. The idea of playing a game over the Internet was really appealing, and graphical online games– while some existed– were a bad experience over the local dial-up. To describe this experience accurately, I didn’t have an Internet-capable computer at home for most of this, but it was a nice treat getting to play this game at my friend’s house, free computer hour at school or at the library. I had a friend in grade school where we’d sit down at her computer and play this game together and it was overall a good time.

In the game’s early days, the name Aaezure Odyssey was adapted because Deathwish was off-putting for some people. Since then the game has reverted back to its original name.

In 2001ish our family “upgraded” from a modem-less Apple II/c to a Windows 98 computer with working dial-up so I got a lot more opportunities to play these sorts of games. I tried out a lot of different MU*s of many different genres. But I never found one I liked as much as Deathwish.

My old character was definitely purged for idleness since it had not been logged on for about 20 years. I wasn’t sweating that too much, especially since I wanted a new toon so that I could re-experience the whole game. The purging policy used to exist to save server space. It’s not necessary now.

There were some artifacts of older times in the MUD documentation and in the MUD itself. It’s a remnant of a very different Internet. I swear somewhere there was at least one :₋). In the connected documentation to the MUD there was a helpful page explaining terms such as “lag”, “flame”, and “newbie”.

Fast forward to the current year. Log in, get past character creation and… there were actual other people playing this game. Not a ton, but… enough for it to shock me when I saw it. At odd hours, there would only be a few characters. On, say, a Saturday night, there would be 10-20 characters, with about 1-3 characters per human person. Seeing people playing and conversing with each other- this is on a MUD, in what is now the late 2010s. How? What is this? I’d type some ‘about’ command, and alongside the link to the normal hosted page, there was a Facebook link. What universe is this?

I rolled a mage as my main, and a paladin alt, partied them together and multi-played them in two side-by-side Telnet clients. The client I used had good support for scriptability so I was able to brush off my Lua, automate a lot of common actions and make the experience less grind-y and save myself some typing. Eventually, I had a cleric too, multi-playing three toons at once which is the limit.

There were moments in this game that were funny, fascinating, strange, surprising, and emotionally engaging. In some of the room descriptions and zone design you feel like there is entire world behind them even though it’s just text. It was such an adventure playing through the mortal playthrough. See, I thought I experienced a good amount of it the first time I played way back. But the game is deeper than I ever could have imagined.

Since I had reached the level cap I was given the option to “remort” my character- meaning, reset to level 1 except with some interesting improvements- or become immortal. Becoming immortal revealed a new game. That game is basically a meta-game. It is something awesome and really overwhelming.

January 6th, 2018 at 12:18 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Dark Souls III: The Ringed City DLC (PS4)

With a heavy heart, playing the supposed the last game in the series. From’s Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed that the franchise was done.

Now I have played Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1+2+3. All DLCs. Play time on average 200 hours per game, on average 3 playthroughs per game. I intend to play some multiplayer on Ringed City while there is still life on online. Other than that, that’s it.

It has been a large part of my life since playing the Chinese pre-order of Demon’s Souls back in the summer 2009, on a CRT, when I was living in Santa Clara CA. Demon’s Souls was not well marketed. Found out about it through random word of mouth. At first I thought it would be a very typical character-driven fantasy ARPG. But, everything about this game was surprising. It was created in the golden age of quest markers and in-game explanations, of which there were none. It is a fantasy RPGs and those tend to be character based, but the focus was totally on gameplay and environment. It is Japanese, but plays like a WRPG.

I understand the game a bit better if it’s contextualized against King’s Field for the PSX, understood as a spiritual predecessor to the franchise. I didn’t play King’s Field until just a few years ago, but when it came out it would have been received much the same as Dark Souls today. It’s an RPG that is so finicky and brooding with barely any background music.

Ringed City was a good time. At the same time I think they have chosen a good place to end it.

November 12th, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Cuphead (PC, Windows)

What was good
• It looks like one of those old timey cartoons!!!!
• Art direction
• This game is a literal work of art.
• Gameplay-wise, each level feels very fresh and different, where you have some standard shoot-y 2D bosses, some gravity-changing platforming, Gradius-style shooting, vertical scrolling boss fight. It has everything

What was not good
• There was this one part where ha ha just kidding it’s perfect

This game avoids having too many moves or power-ups which are “just good”; each weapon has its advantages and drawbacks, and your starting weapon– the peashooter– could very well be a good late-game choice. For example the second-to-last boss fight (King Dice) I used that one. This specials are not your musou in Dynasty Warriors. They are not “just good”, (with one exception) you are not invincible when you use them, they can and will get you killed versus if you didn’t use the special. From a gameplay perspective this makes you put a lot more thought into your actions.

This game was as challenging as everyone says it was. There were moments I thought I may not be able to make progress in it, however each boss’s moved are telegraphed one way or another so once you pick up on that it gets doable. I tend to be better that the reflex-based parts (like the bird feathers or robot missiles) while I had trouble with the weird parrying mechanic.

“Easiest” boss- the pirate. Everything in that fight is pretty killable or avoidable…
Hardest” boss- The bee. I don’t know exactly why I really had trouble with it. feels like Donkey Kong?
Favorite boss- the stageplay/actress one. There is this part where she is replaced by a cardboard cutout. It reminds me of the final fight with Kefka from FF6. It’s great.

November 4th, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

In this, ‘finished’ means 100 points on every stage of all worlds including the extra stages.

The extra stages include some Kaizo level nonsense. I’m thinking particularly of Hit That Switch. I did Hit that switch while streaming though. Darn, I should have recorded it…

This game is different from the usual format. In it, instead of Mario controlling Yoshi, Yoshi must escort the infant Mario around. If Mario becomes separated from Yoshi he makes a terrible noise, so there is a strong non-gameplay incentive to not let that happen.

This is the game where it is apparently revealed that Mario and Luigi are twins. Is this canon?

October 17th, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise (PC, DOS)

The Fatty Bear franchise is affiliated with the Putt-Putt franchise. Although Putt-Putt spanned many games, Fatty Bear was well liked and this game was re-released on Steam too.

A little girl named Kayla has a teddy bear named Fatty Bear and he and Kayla’s other toys come to life when no one is looking. Since tomorrow is Kayla’s birthday, the toys work together to make her surprise party a very special one. You need to help Fatty bake her a cake, decorate a sign, and ensure her present arrives intact.

Fatty can inspect things, and pick them up, and you navigate Fatty through the house to get cake ingredients, keys for doors, and other things that he needs. Clicking on objects makes them come to life and the animations are very entertaining and silly. Or, Fatty will have an animation with that object. Fatty is so cute!

October 7th, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink