Thursday, April 4, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#299 - 313)


#299 Persona 3 (Playstation 2) – Winter 2009

This was an interesting, challenging game that was unlike anything else at the time. I'm not really into Japanese High School Simulators and there are about 1200 of them, but I really liked the mysticism and occult they worked into this game. The battle system heavily emphasizing elemental weaknesses was a lot of fun and the whole thing just felt very unique. Mostly enjoyed the dungeon crawling and battles, plus the Persona fusing to see what'd happen.

Fun Fact: I was playing this alongside watching the Buffy series so I have an association between the two.

Toughest Part: Nyx Avatar, who I associated with the final boss of the Buffy series, Nathan Fillion playing a similar avatar of an evil entity. Nyx Avatar was a hell of a final boss, with multiple phases and a lot of challenge to overcome.

Fondest Memory: Killing time in Tartarus, the game's massive ongoing dungeon that supplied most of the actual dungeon-crawling gameplay that I wanted more of from the game. It was a pretty chill place, with music that evolved as you progressed further in the various tiers of the dungeon.

Least-Fond Memory: The one big weakness the game has is that main character death = game over. Combine that with a fair amount of enemies using instant-death attacks, and it's a recipe for frustration. Combine that with instant-death attacks coming in two elemental types (Light and Dark) so even if you have a Persona that blocks one of them, you're still weak to the other... well, this was the game's biggest downside and probably cost me a few hours of gameplay over the whole thing from instant-death and having to start over / run back.

Favorite Tune: Between Doors is one of the chillest, more mystical tunes I've ever heard in a game. It somehow manages to instantly evoke nostalgia for other times and places.

But Why?: Was it really necessary to have the characters shoot themselves in the head every time they cast? Was this edgy in the 2000's? Why keep it in a remake in 2024? Always bothered me a bit, bothers me more now. If your fetish is playing a game with a bunch of high school students wearing Nazi armbands and shooting themselves in the head hundreds of times, you're finally covered with this one.

But Seriously: I liked this one a lot and I wish there were more of them. Personas, I mean. Never dipped into the main SMT series, maybe I should.

#300 Mother 3 (Game Boy Advance) – Spring 2009

Now this is a game that makes you FEEL. Probably the single best game on the Game Boy Advance, and one of the best RPGs of all time. Yeah, Earthbound (aka Mother 2) is a little easier on the eyes, and I have more attachment to it due to growing up with it. However objectively speaking Mother 3 does everything better than Earthbound, and really delivers some powerful messages during the journey. Probably the most "adult" 2D RPG I've ever played, despite the visuals being somewhat cartoonish. Which if anything is just the game's way of being nostalgic and charming.

So many things in this game have deeper meanings. Even just basic dialogue can tell you something about life in general, and it does a good job representing The Downtrodden and the struggles of the lower class. If Earthbound was a journey around the world full of childlike wonder, this game is its older sibling, facing a real world that is often a letdown.

One thing that is NOT a letdown is this game, and it exudes enough humor to offset all the difficult parts. It's got highs, it's got lows, I can't say enough good about it. Never got an official release for some stupid reason, but it's easy enough to emulate.

Don't remember too much about the actual difficulties of beating the game or playing through it. Don't recall anything standing out as being a particular challenge or hill to climb. This one was all about the powerful story, which is probably why I've only played it one time.

#301 Final Fantasy 6 Advance (Game Boy Advance) – Spring 2009

Swung back around and took out the last of the FF Advances. This one's great, no big whoop. Main thing it adds is some new espers. There's a postgame dungeon but it's pretty basic and doesn't do much to address or really challenge the sky-high power levels of characters in the endgame. You can roll the postgame just like you can roll the main game. The Kaiser Dragon (seen above) is the new superboss. It's one of the easiest superbosses in the series...not because it's weak, but because the cast in this game can get so strong.

Fun Fact: Kaiser Dragon was supposed to be a superboss in the original SNES version and got dummied out. It had a grey Blue Dragon model, which you can see with the Fiend Dragon in Kefka's Tower. They amped its physical appearance up quite a bit for this version.

Character of Choice: My favorite FFVI character has always been Cyan. From a look, story, and persona perspective. From an actual battle usefulness perspective... he's lacking to an extent, with a pretty bad special ability in this version. However he's still a powerful fighter-type character regardless.

Most Notable Thing: Pretty sure this is what I was playing when I started dating my first real long-term girlfriend that could really be called a serious potential-marriage relationship. Might have been during Persona 3 though. Or maybe it started during that one and got serious during this one. It was somewhere in this previous trio of RPGs.

#302 Metroid Prime Pinball (Nintendo DS) – Spring 2009

Time for some DS action as I was taking out some backlog here. This is a super fun game with great music and all kinds of references to the Metroid Prime 1. It's also very, very difficult for someone who has barely played any pinball before, and I had a real good fight trying to beat this game. After many tries, I took it down, and I had a blast all the way. It was also a good thing to play in short doses while out and about, which I was most of the time in this timeframe.

Favorite Board: The battle with Ridley (see above). Just a basic boss fight with great music. This game has a bunch of boss fights with foes from the first Metroid Prime.

Post HERE.

#303 Metroid Prime Hunters (Nintendo DS) – Spring 2009

This is sort of a "Metroid Prime 1.5" game and, as such, takes place between the first and second Primes. Not sure who was asking for a spinoff of what's already a spinoff series, but here it is. Supposedly Metroid Prime 4 is going to be a followup to this game and retroactively make it more relevant (the supposed villain of Prime 4 is also the villain here). So it wouldn't be that surprising to see it get a remaster at some point.

It's definitely the low point of the Prime series. It can't compare to any of the three console Primes and it doesn't even really try to. They shoehorned in stylus controls, and...this is probably the one game where I actually enjoyed said DS controls. Turns out they work pretty well for a first-person shooter. Still, it's kind of a generic game with generic levels, generic bosses, and not much connection to the overall Metroid series. I'm not sure why it exists, but it was fun to play...once.

Post HERE.

#304 Kirby Squeak Squad (Nintendo DS) – Summer 2009

Another Kirby game, this one introducing nefarious new villains "The Squeak Squad". Kirby must pursue these nefarious little bastards through a variety of levels. It is what it is. Not a very memorable game but it's a Kirby and I think I've played like all of those, so...yeah. It looks pretty, and you can bank a bunch of powerups at a time. Sorta like banking an item in Super Mario World, just...more than one.

#305 Kirby and the Amazing Mirror (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2009

Yet another Kirby, this one I remember a bit better. Has some nice GBA artwork. I think this one was actually prettier overall than Squeak Squad despite the lesser hardware, proving that art direction can be more important than tech level.

Posts HERE.

#306 Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2009

Had really high hopes for this game...and it didn't meet them. It has all the tools to be a great tactics game, but it introduced a terrible card-penalization system that takes most of the fun right out of it. It'll drop these rules on you at the beginning of fights, and if you break them you get inordinately punished. The rules also don't jive at all with the levels, and feel completely random. Like you might get a "no casting" rule on a level where you can only hit some of the foes with range attacks.

Draconian rules, draconian punishments, no thought put into it. Ruins the game. Got to the point where I spent more time jumping through hoops to rearrange my party to avoid breaking rules than I did worrying about the actual battles and foes. At least the sequel to this game manages to tone all of that down. Would have liked if it got rid of the card/rule system entirely but at least it lessens the punishments and makes the rules less restrictive. This first one couldn't get out of its own way. Also you frequently got stuck with certain classes because the requirements to class change got really weird after a while. I remember being stuck with basic classes for way too long because I didn't have particular item drops that were from optional content.

At the end of the day this was a game that just fought me every time I tried to have fun with it. At least the story and characters were good. But it couldn't get out of its own way.

#307 New Super Mario Bros (Nintendo DS) – Summer 2009

Wish I could remember this one a bit better. I just know I didn't like it nearly as much as the old NES/SNES games. Felt totally different. To this day I can't really tell any of the NSMBs apart either. All of that said, even a Mario game that you're not crazy about is still a great game. This wrapped up a chain of DS games that I played over the span of a couple months when I didn't have much time to be in front of the TV.

#308 Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) – Summer 2009

Good 360 RPG that got strong reviews. I remember a bunch of people saying this should have been FF13 instead of what we got. I think FF13 is fine, but I could see that argument making sense. This game did what it did very well. It's pretty difficult, especially on disc 1 when you don't have a huge range of abilities, but I didn't mind at all. It makes good use of status effects in a way I wish more games would.

Toughest Part: There's this one boss early on that has like an AOE stun or something like that, and you have to get certain abilities to mitigate it. If you haven't gotten them, then you have to go get them to continue. This particular fight got me off-guard and gave me some grief. At least it doesn't box you in and force you to win or start over.

#309 Bioshock (Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) – Summer 2009

A game so good that after I played it on the 360, I immediately replayed it on the Playstation 3 (which I traded my 360 in for right after this), and platinumed it. This is one of the best first-person shooters of all time and is more of an adventure like Metroid Prime. Tells a great story, has all kinds of tense and exciting moments, has an incredibly unique setting, and has some RPG-like mechanics like setting traps, casting spells, tricking a room full of foes to battle each other, and so on.

The Big Daddy foes are basically boss fights, but you don't have to do them, and can return later when better prepared, etc. The main thing differentiating them is their rooms/areas and how you can use those environments to win the fight. They may be optional, but defeating them is how you get currency to buy spells, so they're their own reward.

The best thing about the game is the atmosphere though. Sort of this frozen in 1959 land of horror with art deco architecture and honky-tonk tunes. It really is one of the best games of all time and right up there with Metroid Prime as far as first-person adventures go. The underwater city is a truly incredible environment to traverse, with all kinds of tunnels and pipes and things to discover. A friend of mine told me circa 2007 that this was her favorite game of all time besides Chrono Trigger, and I can actually get behind that kind of lofty praise.

Weapon of Choice: Crossbow. That thing is awesome and has some interesting upgrades, like fire arrows. Have to have good aim with it.

Plasmid of Choice: Electric Bolt. Stuns foes, can outright wipe them out under the right circumstances. Like if foes are standing in water - which happens a lot, given it's an underwater city - zap any part of the water to take them all out.

Path of Least-Resistance: I started getting good at finding ways to gimp games around this time. There's a way to farm money (and Plasmid upgrade currency? Can't remember) early-on by fighting this one respawning Big Daddy over and over again. There's a counter nearby that he has issues getting around, while your melee attack reaches over said counter. So you can get him on one side, jump to the other side, and start wailing with melee attacks until the win is secured. This is at a point in the game where you aren't really strong enough to beat any of these guys in a straight one-on-one fight. I didn't know about this on the first playthrough, but it made successive playthroughs a lot easier to be able to get a big boost of currency early-on and buy a bunch of spells.

#310 Ghostbusters (Playstation 3) – Summer 2009

Fantastic game here that feels like the lost Ghostbusters 3 movie and puts you in the shoes of the guys like no other game. I really loved this one and it's safe to say the first couple months of having a PS3 had some solid gold games in it. I think they even got the actors to come back and do the voice acting for at least some of the Ghostbusters. Wish I could remember more of this or had more to say because it's a top-shelf game that deserves more attention. Apparently it got a remaster a couple years ago, so check it out.

#311 Batman: Arkham Asylum (Playstation 3) – Summer 2009

Another top-shelf game. It's a superhero brawler that pretty much started a new genre. This was a great choice for a rental and I had a blast. I remember it being a nice challenge to beat, especially some of the key boss fights like Scarecrow and Joker's Super Shredder form.

The crazy thing is that as good as this game was, the sequel does everything that much better and blows it out of the water. Regardless, this was a great thing to play, especially off the heels of The Dark Knight being probably the best "superhero movie" of all time at that point (or even now, depending on who you ask).

#312 Kirby's Pinball Land (Game Boy) – Summer 2009

Another pinball game based on a series I grew up with. While this one is much older and pretty rudimentary, again I had a blast with it. A very quick blast though, as this is a short game. Was kind of funny to play this and Metroid Prime Pinball so close together, given what my first two Game Boy games were. And of course, this one also has boss fights and they're a lot of fun.

Post HERE.

#313 Wolfenstein (Playstation 3) – Fall 2009

One of the several relaunches of the Wolfenstein IP over the decades. This was a standalone and didn't get any sequels, and opted for a more realistic visual approach with WW2-era European cities and military bases as levels. Well it was mostly a realistic approach, because it also had spell-casting foes and crazy spirit-vision or something like that. Was kind of bonkers. This was probably a very average game, but it got elevated a bit by being one of the first things I played on my new PS3. Got upstaged considerably by yet another relaunch, Wolfenstein: The New Order, a few years later.

That wraps up about two thirds of 2009. Next up, the rest of 2009.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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