Thursday, February 22, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#239 - 255)

#239 Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi (Playstation 2) – Winter 2006

Another good DBZ game that I can't remember much of. I think there were a couple more Budokais between the first one I played (end of 2002) and this one. I remember being super stoked about this one and telling people about it and them not knowing what I was talking about. It's a 3D fighting game and probably heralded the latest step forward for DBZ games because it played extremely well. I don't think I did much with this, and mostly remember Tenkaichi 2 being the really awesome one that I spent a lot of time with a few years later.

Thing I Missed: At this point I had a driver's license so the era of "reading the instruction booklet in the passenger seat on the drive back from the game store" was completely over. Which is both good and bad. That era was pretty nice, but so is having a car.

#240 Super Bomberman (Super NES) – Winter 2006

Don't remember much about this, just that I didn't like it as much as Super Bomberman 2 years earlier. It's more rudimentary in comparison. Either way, it's Bomberman. You can't really go wrong with this series. I was most likely going back to finish this for completion's sake. My OCD kinda goes off when I play the second game in a series but not the first. Hell, I've been staying away from Nier Automata for six years because I wanted to play the predecessor first.

Note: You CAN go wrong with this series. Out of curiosity recently I tried playing the two NES Bombermen. While Bomberman 2 seems decent and in-line with the later SNES games (just more rudimentary), the original Bomberman verges on unplayable due to having a very unforgiving timer. Even level 1 was a PITA and I didn't get very far. Think I'll just stick to the SNES games.

#241 Phantasy Star 1 (Sega Master System) – Spring 2006

Here we go, now this is something I remember well. I love this game and it's easily my favorite of the series besides Phantasy Star 4. If you put this series up against, say, FF and DQ, I think this first game could hang with their first games and maybe even take first place. (It did come along later, but yeah)

It's a fairly basic game, and I'm not the biggest fan of the "3D maze dungeon where all the walls look the same" that was also used by some early Ultimas. However, the game has memorable characters, memorable villains, and is just plain fun. It also ties into PS4 really well and functions as a solid prequel to play before that game. PS2 is also a prequel game but it has less to do with PS4, and is a lot longer and more tedious, so I'm not sure about that one.

Either way, outstanding introduction to the series here and I liked it a lot. Too bad I've never replayed it and don't really have a reason to, so it's pretty much just relegated to the memory banks.

#242 Phantasy Star 2 (Sega Genesis) – Spring 2006

I've got mixed feelings on this one. I said it was long and tedious, but it's also a decent game in general. A lot of the mechanics PS4 uses started in this one, and it plays well. The main problem is the dungeons, which tend to be sprawling mazes that go on for way way WAY too long. Those certainly hurt the replayability.

#243 Phantasy Star 3 (Sega Genesis) – Spring 2006

And here we've got the one made by the B-Team. It's pretty bad. It does the "generations" system also used by Dragon Quest V and Romancing SaGa II where you're basically playing as several generations of characters as time goes by. However it does it worse than those two games, and there's really zero change in the world as time progresses. You'll find people 50 years down the line still doing the same things and still the same age. Very little attention to detail in this game.

Un-Fondest Memory: The giant towns where all the buildings were spaced way out from one another, forcing you to walk a lot to even go to an inn or shop. Or maybe the weird enemy designs. Or maybe the fact that the generational characters pretty much had no differences besides their hair colors.

#244 Sword of Mana (Game Boy Advance) – Spring 2006

Remake of Final Fantasy Adventure that goes off in new directions and takes great liberties, with a Legend of Mana "Precious Moments doll" artstyle which isn't my favorite. I prefer the Adventures of Mana remake that came along in the late 2010's and follows the original Seiken Densetsu game a lot more closely while giving it bright colors and HD visuals. Regardless, this was a cool game in its day and I enjoyed it.

Posts HERE.

#245 Yoshi's Safari (Super NES) – Spring 2006

At this point I realized Super Scope games were playable in emulator via a mouse. This unlocked several games I was really pumped to check out. The first one I went for was Yoshi's Safari, which shows the power of Mario to draw you in. It isn't the best Super Scope game or anything but it's got all kinds of iconic Mario foes. I would have loved this and probably played it for dozens of hours back in 1992. Crazy that I played it first, before even...

#246 T2: The Arcade Game (Super NES) – Spring 2006

...this rad to the max arcade port of something I was mildly obsessed with in the 90's. I loved this game in the arcades, though I did get rattled the first time I played it. Once I got over that, I kept going back to try and progress in the game. I never made it past the first level in the arcade, but in this home version and with quarters out of the equation, I was able to finally play the whole thing. Was surprised at how short it actually was.

Toughest Part: Stage 3. This is about the halfway point of the game and it's easily the toughest thing the game serves up. You're defending Connor's truck against an onslaught of gold terminators that can run at like 50 MPH. I bet everyone remembers this level, and it seemed like nobody could get past it in the arcade, so it may as well have been the endgame.

Post HERE.

#247 Metroid Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2006

Much like Fusion, I waited like two years to actually get to this game. Very surprising in retrospect. I get waiting a while on Zeldas or RPGs, but these Metroid games are just a few hours long. You'd think I'd be pouncing on them, given my connection to the series.

In any case, this remakes the first game in the series and it's a damn fine Metroid game, one of the best. Totally obsoletes the NES original, to the point that I've only replayed that game once since this one popped into existence. The only real issues with it are that it's short and pretty easy, and not really something I tend to replay.

Fondest Memory: Getting "unknown items" throughout the game and not knowing what it meant the first time through.

Biggest Surprise: The game having a whole new postgame with the largest area out of all of them and Zero Suit Samus making her debut. Or... de-butt, considering all the ass shots. I'll show myself out.

Post HERE.

#248 Advance Wars (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2006

Very cool Fire Emblem style strategy game where you command various units to capture resource points, gain control over maps, and win battles. It's got a great soundtrack and the story is intriguing: Several nations are at war because a shadowy group has been manipulating events behind the scenes to turn them against each other.

Eventually (like, the last two battles or so) the shadowy group is uncovered and it's the Black Hole Nation, a formidable power that has been growing unbeknownst to the main nations. In the next game you're basically fighting Black Hole from the get-go, and I tend to prefer the sequel for that reason.

#249 Advance Wars 2 (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2006

Basically the same game, just bigger and better. It's compulsively playable and fun, and they did a great job converting the Fire Emblem format into a more modern war/strategy game. It has kind of a rock/paper/scissors design like an FE game, except there are like 15 types of units that go around in a circle and have various strengths and weaknesses to others. So in that sense I guess it's kinda like a Pokemon game as well. If anyone were going to play any game from this series I would say the second is the way to go.

#250 World of Warcraft (PC) - Summer 2006

I think this is the second and final MMO to make it onto the list. This is a pretty big one because I revisited it a bunch of times over the years to play new expansions and sometimes just replay old ones. It fell off with me by the end of the 2010's (along with everyone else, it seems like) but I popped onto this game many times over the years in short bursts.

The first burst was in 2006 and that's when I played it the most. A bunch of friends were playing it and crowing endlessly about the game and how I had to get it and join their guild, then when I finally got the game, they like all quit within 3 weeks or so. Well, like 8 out of 10 of them anyway. So that was pretty lame.

The Burning Crusade expansion was in January 2007 and I played on and off up until a couple months into that. Think I was subbed for like 9 months straight altogether in that first run. It was a good time, especially early on when the game was still really mysterious and interesting.

I really fell off with it when I revisited it again at later points and realized how damn easy the game actually is. By the WOTLK expansion I could run into a pack of 5-6 enemies as a mage and AOE them down before they killed me, by spamming one button. At one point I even tried taking gear off just so enemies in leveling content would present some kind of actual threat. The easy-fication of WoW really kinda killed it, because what's the point of micromanaging and being a badass when nothing poses any threat whatsoever?

Later on, I loved the Legion expansion. It's the only one after Mists of Pandaria that I got much out of. Unfortunately that was pretty much it for the game. I couldn't get into any expansions after that and just kinda stopped trying. My favorite thing about Legion was the raid game, and it had some really good raid fights.

All of that said, I think the game is at its best during the quiet moments, like milling about in the woods back in the n00b areas.

Quick thoughts on each expansion. EQ had too many to do something like this but WoW's fewer and denser expansions are worth talking about a little more. Gonna rank each one on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the height of having fun with the game and 1 being something that I got nothing from and want a refund. The game never got that low though.

Classic (10/10) - This is all there was when I first played the game, and I really enjoyed it a lot. The world was pretty and serene and there was a lot to see. I played a Mage and went full solo-mode as usual, maxing levels in the otherworldly desert of Silithus. Also liked Winterspring (endgame) and Dun Morogh (newbie area) for their snow. Trying different classes/races was so much fun in this timeframe when everything was nice and simple, and I think I tried all of both.

The Burning Crusade (10/10) - Great expansion here that did everything a first expansion is supposed to do. Outland was an extremely interesting place with all kinds of sci-fi elements and battles raging everywhere you looked. The only potential slight strike against it is that a lot of the areas were a little bit empty and there wasn't as much specific content to do as later expansions. The zones were so memorable and fun that you barely noticed this, though, and you pretty much made your own adventure anyway. Nagrand was an incredibly gorgeous landscape and Netherstorm was just plain exciting, with everything in-between being rad too. Not a single weak zone in the expansion, which I'm not sure I can say about any other MMO expansion ever. Except maybe...

Wrath of the Lich King (9/10) - This one also didn't really have any weaknesses. Only issue with it was that the difficulty of the game was taking a nosedive, from "medium-low / perfect" to "dirt easy so nothing means anything". At least it picked up a bit for the next expansion and I had to actually micromanage and strategize a bit instead of being able to win any fight with no equipment on by hammering "1" until it ended. In any case, the snow continent theme of this was terrific, especially given that snow areas were so underutilized in the base game, and we had some more truly atmospheric locales like the Nordic alpine region of Grizzly Hills and the "frozen Mordor" landscape of Icecrown Citadel. There were also some stunningly nice dungeons, like The Nexus, which was like something out of a (really good) Final Fantasy game. I imagine I would have gotten even more out of this if I'd played Warcraft 3 but alas I still haven't gotten to that one.

Cataclysm (6/10) - This is kind of hit or miss. There are only a few new zones and most of its addition to the game is a total revamp of the old world / classic zones. Unfortunately a lot of those revamps were for the worse, and some zones I loved like Darkshore and Thousand Needles were kind of ruined by the apocalyptic wreckage and scarring of the landscape. At least the new zones were pretty nice, going for an "elemental planes" theme with a dangerous Plane of Fire equivalent. There was also a desert zone with a lot of ruins and an Egyptian theme, and I really liked that one. Fun Fact: They followed the pattern of the first few EQ expansions and had this one be a revamp of the leveling game + elemental planes, while the previous was an ice continent. Same thing EQ did. The connections are more tenuous with Burning Crusade and they're tenuous after this, but for a couple of expansions they were really drawing inspiration from EQ. Turns out WoW's content designers were mostly former EQ players and the guy leading the team was one of EQ's most famous players, the guy who formed the first power-guild and fundamentally shaped the raid game. Now he brought that extensive knowledge to WoW and it showed.

Mists of Pandaria (7/10) - Here the game takes a turn into the strange with the Panda race, but I gotta say, this one is mostly a good time. The new zones are all very pretty and have distinct Asian visual themes. Jade Forest is one of the greenest zones I've ever seen in a game. The antagonists for this one are weird shadowy spirit-demon things that don't really do it for me the way previous foes in the game did. It felt like the game had gone off the reservation and pretty much shed any D&D type roots by this point. But it was still a good expansion and there were a lot of interesting things to do.

Warlords of Draenor (5/10) - For this one they basically just remade the first expansion Burning Crusade, only not as good. I mean when it comes down to it this does look better, have more content, and have more QOL. However it's mostly reusing zones we've already seen, with a couple new ones, and the whole thing kinda has this "been there done that" vibe to it. Wasn't really into the orc villains either, and the whole thing felt like it was just setup / a prequel to the next expansion where all the REAL stuff was goin' down.

Legion (8/10) - I loved this one and it was definitely the most fun the game had been since Wrath. It's all top-heavy endgame content like raids, it continues right off of WoD's launching pad, and it has us fighting the extraterrestrial Burning Legion head-on in full-scale war in a way that Burning Crusade just gave us a taste of. They went full sci-fi with this one as you go from broken islands (the arrival point of the Legion) to futuristic ships to the very homeworld of the bad guys. That's right, the last 3 zones of the expansion are actually on another planet. That's pretty sick. Was glad I went back for this one. Felt like a real course-correct, but also felt like The End and I wasn't sure where the game was supposed to go from here.

Battle For Azeroth (6/10) - This had a distinct feeling of being "extra", like the game should have ended with Legion and now they were just giving us more postgame or something. Nothing about it felt like it was building off of what came before and it all had the vibe of unused content from old expansions that they had to throw together and form something coherent out of. They even changed the logo to a dull metal color instead of the traditional shiny gold logo, which I think was emblematic of how dull the game got by this point. I barely even remember anything about this era except that I had a tough time finishing the leveling content without being bored out of the game, much less anything else. This did have a few things going for it though. The South Seas was a nice setting and gave this a different feel from earlier expansions, and the endgame raids had you going up against N'Zoth and other Cthulhu monsters that weren't really something the game had done much with before this.

Shadowlands (3/10) - This was the first expansion that I couldn't finish. It's all weird gloomy undead stuff, the main story quest didn't seem to work very well, and it simply wasn't interesting. It's the most recent one I played, and yet the one I remember least. So for me, WoW kind of petered to a sad conclusion. I did try to go back and play it again once or twice, each time getting myself worked-up to revisit the game and give it a good shot, and each time finding myself losing interest rapidly once things got underway. The content just wasn't good here and it was pretty obvious the game had far-exceeded its sell-by date.

Dragonflight (N/A) - Never played this one, sadly. I hear it was pretty good, but over quickly and didn't really address a lot of the issues. Was all geared-up to give it a shot at launch, but Shadowlands did me in in the weeks before that.

Posts HERE.

#251 Battleclash (Super NES) – Summer 2006

Back to the Super Scope to knock off the other two games I was interested in. And lo and behold, what we have here are what might be the two best "light gun" games ever on home consoles. Definitely the best up to this point. Battleclash is tremendous. The whole game is just boss fights with giant mechs, one after another, no big whoop. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Fun Fact: This game was designed by members of Nintendo R&D1, who had made previous similar games like Duck Hunt. Maybe that's why it's so good?

Fondest Memory: The same one everyone has, that first fight with hulking green robot Garam. That dude is so iconic that Garam MK2 was the first fight in the sequel.

Favorite Mech Boss: Probably Ivan, the giant spider mech. Of course the Russian pilot would be the one with the largest mech in the game. 2nd place probably goes to Schneider, the efficient silver German mech with drill arms. That thing was pretty stylish. Hell, ALL of the bosses in this game are stylish. The sequel is even better in that regard.

#252 Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge (Super NES) - Summer 2006

While Battleclash mostly stuck to Earth, this sequel takes you on a tour of the entire solar system to fight all kinds of bad-ass mechs. The villain Anubis and his mech Thanatos is one of the more memorable mechs in the history of mech games, as is the winged archangel mech Spika.

In a way I think this game was kind of the predecessor of things like Zone of the Enders that captured the same vibe. Unfortunately it loses a lot if you play it on emulator with a mouse (compared to playing it on a TV with a Super Scope, which isn't exactly all that feasible anymore). Still a cool game to play regardless.

Favorite Mech Boss: Viscount, the gold knight mech with a shield and a bazooka. Probably the best fight in the game and also the one that springs to mind when I think of the sequel.

Fondest Memory: Reading about the game in magazines, over a decade before I ever got around to playing it. The mech designs were awesome and I knew the names of all of them.

#253 Doom 2 (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2006

Much later I finished the PC version, which is pretty much identical (just way, way, WAY nicer to look at) and it won't be on the list because it's basically the exact same game in different resolution. Back in the day though, for whatever reason, I decided to play this on the GBA, so it was a bit of a low-res mess like the first game on the SNES. I find it to be a far inferior game to the first one for a variety of reasons. Not a lot else to say about this one except that I was chipping at it for a while, doing like a stage every couple days, until I eventually got to the end. I also remember playing this a lot on emulator during breaks at work, alongside Phantasy Star 2, earlier in the year.

#254 Castlevania 2: Belmont's Revenge (Game Boy) – Fall 2006

Huge improvement over the previous game in the series to say the least. It uses the same slow game engine, but a few design tweaks make all the difference. You don't lose your weapon powerups when you get hit like you did in Castlevania Adventure, so your powerups actually persist and get to be useful. It also adds special weapons like throwing axes, which were glaringly absent from the first game. Add in level design that actually makes sense with these controls (compared to the awful level design in the first game) and a stage select, and you have a game actually worthy of the 'Vania pedigree. This is the best of the three Game Boy 'Vanias by a country mile.

Also, it's a little bit on the intangible side, but the game also has a lot of heart and soul. Like you can tell they really put a lot into this one. The only real downside to it is that the game is really, really hard. However it's hard in that normal 'Vania way where it's tough but fair and you can keep trying until you get it. Rather than the previous game which was full of cheap deaths. This one absolutely annihilates its predecessor. Unfortunately the third and final Game Boy 'Vania is more like the first one than the second, but it is what it is and it's passable.

Post HERE.

#255 Kirby Super Star (Super NES) – Fall 2006

Very surprising that it took me a full eight years after discovering emulation to get back to one of my most-wanted SNES games. This one was touted as a bunch of games in one, but when it came down to it, it was more like one big Kirby game with a lot of variety.

The Great Cave Offensive is as close as we're probably ever gonna get to a Kirby RPG.

I'd say even now this game probably stands the test of time as the best Kirby game out there (including any remakes it got, which I haven't played).

Posts HERE.

Next up: Taking a break from these for a few weeks before I go onto 2007+... got multiple things I need to finish.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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