52 Games a Year 2021 Edition/ Game Record 2021:
  • b0r1s
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    I realised I'm going to fail miserably at this. I've restarted Persona 4 on PC (I think I got half way on Vita) and I've picked up StS again, so kind of screwed myself on finishing games.
  • So, little disclaimer. For the most part I review games on older systems with their limitations taken into consideration, sure there are exceptions and many games I'd still give the same rating to if released today. The early 3D era has generally aged much worse though, and as such more games from the fifth generation have to be taken with a little extra grain of salt than most. If this was released today its borderline broke, but back in 1999...

    3. Castlevania Legacy of Darkness (N64) - 7hrs

    I have to say I enjoyed this far more than I was expecting. Is it as good as Symphony of the Night? No. Did it make the leap into 3D as well as Mario and Zelda? Nope. Is it a bad 5th gen game? I'm gonna say no.

    The controls are a little floaty sure, but I soon got used to them, and within a few minutes I felt like I had a good enough grasp on them that falling to my death was my fault and not the controls.

    Another common complaint is the camera, its not perfect but few cameras were back then, and there are even games today that struggle. You can recenter the camera behind your character with the R button which I found did the job more often than not, and you can even use the D-Pad for full 360 movement much like right analogs offer today. Granted on the N64 pad it isn't the best solution.

    The combat is ok, there's a rudimentary lock on system that targets what enemy your facing which works well enough.

    Basically I was expecting to die a thousand deaths from frustrating combat and platforming because of a bad camera, and it almost never happened. With those fears alleviated I found myself really enjoying my time with this.

    Its a very linear experience on the whole with a little back tracking with keys, switches etc here and there to pad it out. Only the Villa level has a bit more to it that'll require your thinking cap with a few obtuse puzzles. Just over a third of my total playtime came from that level alone.

    Graphics are OK, its a little first gen for N64 looks and in 1999 that wasn't particularly great but I don't think its terrible looking. The music is a bit disappointing, what there is of it is decent enough but there's not enough of it for me and its not a patch on the iconic music in other releases in the series.

    The plot is simple but decent enough, especially taking the overarching story of the four playable characters into account. Each character has a few unique levels so there's a decent amount of replayability here.

    I'm actually more tempted to replay this than I am numerous superior modern games, partly because I know I could cut the play time in half knowing what to do in certain levels now. In fact the game does have a bit of a speed runners vibe to it which is always rewarding for multiple playthroughs.

    Its got such a bad reputation now that its easy to forget the original got decent reviews back in the day. 8.2 from both Gamespot and IGN, and 81% from the highly regarded N64 Magazine. Despite being the superior version, Legacy got lower marks for being released less than 12 months later at full price, and rightly so. I guess sometimes patches and DLC are a good thing.

    Is it worth paying today? A resounding no, unless your either a Castlevania or N64 fan, even then its no guarantee. I'm a big fan of both so I guess it's easier for me to see past its short comings.

    Its a modern 3/10 mess at best, but with fifth gen goggles on its nowhere near as bad as the reputation it now has.


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  • Nice. Never played those but I remember Diehard Gamefan rating them too.
  • Was that the first of the 3D ones on N64? Cos I played it at the time and it was terrible. Second one was better.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Was the second one I played.
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  • Aha coolbeans. Yeah couldn’t remember but now I do, name rings a bell.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • 14. Cyber Shadow - Switch - (8hrs)

    Superior ninja platformer impeded by imperfect controls and an unbalanced core.  

    There's no shortage of 'retro replicated' games on modern consoles, but every so often one comes along that gets me rubbing my knees at footage with shameless excitement.  This one's been on my radar for over a year, partly due to the general awesomeness of its trailers, but equally thanks to the Yacht Club endorsement.  It must be phenomenally good if them wot made Shovel Knight picked it up for release, surely?  Unfortunately not, but I still had a great time with it on the whole. 

    You'll know what to expect if you've been following the recent trend for nu retro releases.  It's designed to impersonate an 8-bit title, from its almost-possible-at-the-time visuals and hey-hey-let's-go chiptunes to its mile wide nasty streak.  It talks the talk but mercifully doesn't walk the walk quite as twattishly as the games it draws inspiration from.  It's tough, but the checkpoints - replete with optional assists - are plentiful, so it falls some way short of evil.  Mid-bosses even stay dead if you die immediately after dispatching them, for example.  Such kindness much wow.  Be warned though, the later stages will test your patience, partly due to the imperfect controls mentioned above.  Without always being able to quite pinpoint what my qualms were [unlockable moveset spoiler alert] I had issues with the wall jump (particularly from small surfaces), the downward plunge, the imprecise and very strange parry, the hair trigger double jump and the fun-yet-fiddly dash 'n slash.  I wouldn't describe any of the above as broken, but they all felt 'a wee bit off' and as I've listed pretty much every additional move in the game you can see why the niggles add up.  Most sections could be seen off perfectly with practice, suggesting it was me at fault rather than the controls, but some still felt irritating even with success so I reserved my right to moan.  I also disliked the way certain moves always cost magic points - just let me do a vanilla DP FFS!!  The map is a mess, but amusingly so.  Lines and lines and lines.  I've got no idea how I managed to bypass level 7 completely so I'll go back for a mooch around at some point this week.  Bosses started well but learning their patterns became less rewarding as brute forcing them seemed to be a better approach than biding your time/picking your spot.  My tactic was often 'get in their face and use the upwards slash magic', which served me pretty well but shouldn't really be a viable option in a game like this.  

    I don't want to be too down on it though, much like the oft-maligned The Messenger its flaws don't get in the way of a good time overall.  Nothing I've complained about is any worse than Not Quite Right, and I'm only low-level moping because I was expecting perfection.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if the game is tidied up a touch post-launch, but we'll see.  If you appreciate the genre don't let anything in here put you off trying it for yourself.  This sort of thing feels designed for me and I'm pretty blessed as a modern gamer with old fashioned predilections.  At its best it's utterly fantastic, at its worst it's terribly annoying...and now that I've typed that I guess that's mission accomplished for a throwback platformer.  [7]


    Edit: Sitting here looking at that gif thinking I should've gone with an [8].
  • Moot_Geeza wrote:
    At its best it's utterly fantastic, at its worst it's terribly annoying...
    I think this is where I'd divert from your write up and the reason I didn't finish it - I didn't think any of it was utterly fantastic. Neat and tidy, yes, but never more than that. Not enough to stop those control issues being a deal breaker. 

    Are there any levels later on that really stand out?
  • There's a very welcome

    that works surprisingly well, other than that it's more of the same but fiddlier though.

    Mileage on utterly fantastic will vary of course, but even some of the tunes were enough of an endorphin rush for me.
  • 8 hours sounds like too long for me to put up with the issues. Maybe at some point, but not desperate to dive in.
  • I haven't had any control issues fwiw.
  • I play hardly any games tho so I do tend to just enjoy what I do play.
  • I predict Nick rolling to the credits on a mere 200 deaths. Which is when I'll blame my pad(s) again.
  • I'm a weekend gamesman only these days so, watch this space ~Sat/Sun.
  • I played to the first mid boss the other night and it felt like it needed an upward slash and a crouch.
  • It never quite shook the needs-a-crouch-feeling imo, but there's a chance you'll be catered for with the upward slash thing....
  • The control issues aren't anything to do with the basics anyway. The jump and slash stuff is very tight. It's a lot of the stuff that's added along the way that's off, and the clutter it creates.
  • 10. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle - Donkey Kong Adventure DLC (Switch)

    The main game isn't deep but it does get a lot of strategic mileage out of its main components. I can remember taking 5 or so minutes sometimes working out how to move and co-ordinate the team to maximise the damage output. It's a game mainly about working out the best way to chain together the team's abilities to completely nail opponents.
    Into that quite delicate mix between simplicity and strategy, this DLC chucks a completely over-powered Donkey Kong. He's devastating close up and at long-range, has huge movement range and can pick up, carry and chuck around virtually anything. So the already light tactical elements are wiped out for a lot of it. If you can scoop up even the biggest opponent on the map, carry him half-way across the stage, chuck him into another opponent, and then they both bounce off four or five squares in random directions, then planning goes out the window. What you've got instead is a turn-based shoot-out with a huge chaos-causing gorilla swinging around and walloping everything. Which is actually really good.

    There's 4 worlds and it's not until the fourth that the enemies and maps get hard enough to bring much need for planning back into it. The original game was overlong as well so they really did need to mix it up somehow for this to be interesting. Mission accomplished.
  • Agree on all points, was strong DLC.
  • 4. Super Castlevania IV (SNES) - 5hrs

    One of the best Castlevania games, and possibly my personal favourite.

    You could argue the whip is overpowered and that the secondary weapons lose a lot of their purpose because of it, but that's about as negative as it gets.

    Its one of my all timers, still a joy to play with some of the best music ever to grace silicon.

    A game I genuinely love that I'll continue to return to as long as I'm gaming.


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  • 15. Olija - Switch (4-5hrs)

    "Faraday, you look outrageously sharp today"

    More weirdness from Devolver Digital, only this one's even more unusual than Carrion.  I could see some badgers absolutely despising it, but it's a well made game overall.  The main gameplay feature is your spear, which you can warp to if it sticks to something.  This works well, and as the whole thing is pretty much built around that it's got a reasonably tight core.  It falls short of excellence but it's definitely solid and enjoyable, despite some strange button mapping decsions.  It's not a punishing game by any means, in fact I'm struggling to think of a similar looking title that puts up less of a resistance.  It's a bold design choice that pays off - you're the swinging dick of nearly every screen you're in, which is a welcome change as most of these types are out to kill you every chance they get.  Puzzles are on the simple side too, and the exploration is light.  There's a lot of enforced walking as the plot unfolds, which hits far more than it misses.  The heavy pixel art graphics are an acquired taste that I never quite warmed to unfortunately, but the sound design was exceptional.  All things considered this was worth the asking price for me (£13 as a pre-order), and emerges as another worthwhile indie oddity.  Take a look if you fancy something that's loosely built on the Another World/Flashback/Blackthorne/Abe's Oddysee foundation, albeit with a touch more arcade pizzazz.  [7]

  • 7.Assassins Creed: Valhalla - 65 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox Series X

    Strange one this as I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it vs how much I wanted to enjoy it. Easy stuff first, it’s stunning, like really stunning. Think I’ve played all the next gen stuff across both and this has impressed the most. The countryside is absolutely beautiful, the detail is incredible. The sky was forever making me stop to have a look and the light through the trees never got old. The weather effects deserve a mention too. Really is a stunner. Sound design was all of that too...just not writing it again.

    Game world was a step up for me over the last two as it did feel tighter, and a smaller map was much easier and more fun to navigate. Didn’t have to travel for a bloody age between fast travel points, sometimes I just wanna get on with it. I enjoyed the story in the fact that I enjoyed the Viking theme, enjoyed the complexities of the brothers etc and their warring and pillaging. Some of the characters and story arcs were excellent. The odd thing here was the inclusion of the Assassins Creed at all, maybe I missed something but it never tied in what part if any of it played in the crazy sci-fi over story, they did with the last two, so though it’s mental it made some sense, but this just threw in 10 minutes of the future stuff making it even more pointless.

    I enjoyed the story, the characters, building a community, the weapon and armour upgrade system was brilliant, it looked stunning so why aren’t I sure? I don’t really know, the combat didn’t feel quite right, and when you’re slaying hundreds of enemies that’s not good. It felt as if it was pointing towards a big ending with you collecting kingdoms fealty to you for when you need call upon them, but when you have them all it just...ends. I just don’t get it. Whilst I enjoyed it though it felt a little long it’s just left me kind of cold as it never really went anywhere or meant anything. I’m a huge fan of the new Assassins Creeds, and this could have been the best, but it ended up leaving me more...confused than disappointed.

    Still gets an 8 as there was so much good, but such a wasted opportunity to be the best Creed.
  • 8.Halo 2 Anniversary - 6 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox Series X
  • 1. Kentucky Route Zero (PS4) - 6/2 - 10hrs
    If ever there was a 'game' that I couldn't really rate, this was it. It's so different, and so surreal and weird; it just doesn't lend itself to being judged in the same way as conventional games, if judged at all. There is nothing else out there like this that I have played. You could call it a point-and-click adventure but even that is a stretch.

    All in a really good way. The writing is superb, the script often dealing with or commenting on relevant real-life contemporary issues (debt, slavery, overpowering conglomerates/companies). The art-style and sound are very apt and only add to the strangeness of it all. There were one or tow genuinely standout moments for me, in particular around a couple of the songs.

    My only gripe was that it seemed to drag in a couple of places and could've done with being a little shorter for what it is, occasionally feeling like art for art's sake. Nonetheless, it is something everyone should try at some point. Nothing else quite like it.
    [?] ESSENTIAL [?]
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  • Pretty much echoes my thoughts from a month or so ago. I didn't bother trying to rate it either.
  • Just realised the soundtrack is on Tidal, that'll do me for a nice snow walk later.
  • 11. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
    Very impressive for a lone dev to get all this done but I didn't really gel with it. There's one core thing in the game which is bursting into a room and taking everyone down in a slow-motion cinematic hail of bullets. Which is pretty good for a while but not enough for a whole game. 

    I couldn't really get to grips with it either. There's a dodge bullet button that seems like it wants to be key to the gameplay but it's often impossible to pick out the incoming bullets because there's bullets everywhere (this might be a handheld small screen problem). And you can't really shoot in dodge mode but there's always people shooting at you. So at some point, you've got to stop and just kill everyone anyway and probably get shot up a bit. In any event it's not difficult enough on default that you need it much. Very floaty controls as well.  

    There are good bits where it breaks out of that. There's a boss fight on a motorbike I liked. And I think a mid-boss robot with a weak spot that you had to slow-mo slide under which played like a 2D Vanquish. Oh and there's a mindscape surreal level bit that's fairly good. It's ok, it's fine. Shooting people in computer games is fun and this game did that. Somewhere between a [6] and a [7] so I'll take the cowards way out and give it [67%].
  • Couldn't remember what I gave that one, turns out I was roughly 3% more generous than you.  It's a pretty fun game but it goes in the lower tier of Devolver offerings.  It's a shame more people haven't played Not a Hero.  I'm often wrong about these things, but for my money it's one of the best 2D shooters in recent years once it all clicks.  I've been toying with the idea of another Katana Zero playthrough soon too, but I'll probably keep my powder dry until the seemingly ever-imminent dlc finally drops.
  • 5. Trouble Shooter (Mega Drive) - 90mins 

    Decent shoot 'em up, which the Mega Drive certainly wasn't lacking in. 

    What sets this one apart is that you control two characters named Madison and Crystal. Madison always shoots to the right, and you can toggle Crystal to shoot either side by pressing the C button. The game also has a forth wall breaking sense of humour, which is still quite rare today let alone in 1991. 

    Outside of that its quite standard fare, you shoot your main weapon with the B button, and have icons to collect throughout the stages to power up your weapon and increase/decrease your speed. 

    You have a special weapon that you can use with the A button, of which there are a handful to choose from. You don't have a set number of them to use, instead they recharge after use. If you try and use it before it recharges the charge will reset, so you have to be patient. 

    It's tough but not impossible. At 6 stages long and with two continues its definitely one that the average gamer should be able to see through. 

    Not the best shoot 'em up on the Mega Drive, but its art style and sense of humour help it stand out.


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  • regmcfly
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    3. Super Mario Sunshine

    That's all 120 shines in Super Mario Sunshine done, so none of you have to.
    I'm genuinely struggling to think if I ever did that before - I must have been close on my old GameCube, but certain ones, including the Chuckster red coin debacle, aren't memorable at all.
    What to say about it? It's the worst 3D Mario game, for sure, but even then there are moments of joy and genius within it. I'll staunchly defend the "Secret" levels where you are robbed of FLUDD and have to do some honest to goodness platforming over what looks like a woodwork kit (3D World, I see you.)
    Returning to them, with the challenge of getting red coins, under a time limit, albeit with one's trusty backpack was a nice way of reusing assets.
    And Pinna Park, Noki Bay and Bianco Hills are completely iconic, and welcome worlds in the Mario pantheon. They're genuinely fun to explore, and all incredibly distinctive. Noki Bay in particular was a joy to rediscover - a cove of little mysterious nooks and crannies.
    Yet Gelato Bay's levels (sun bird, watermelon) and Ricco Harbour's sheer existence absolutely blotch the copybook. The blue coin fiasco (finding 30 in a world, but not in one episode) is another needless faff, and necessitated liberal use of IGN guides to hundo the title. There also seems to be some sloppiness in collision detection / noticing edges that seems thoroughly out of place in the polished-to-perfection Mario Canon, and a few deaths left me grinding teeth because of that.
    It feels like a rushed game, bizarre because it was 6 years since 64, and Galaxy would follow in only 5 more, but there we are. I enjoyed returning to Delfino Isle, but would rather romp through Galaxy's worlds again. A nice place to visit...

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