Friday, April 12, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#324 - 336)

#324 Shadow of the Colossus (Playstation 2) – Winter 2010

Being largely shut-in during a brutal winter, I wanted to catch up a bit with the PS2 generation, which I'd missed a lot of. A big part of that was this game, which was hands-down the prettiest PS2 game I ever played. It looks more like a PS2.5 game, almost closer to the PS3 than the PS2 visually. More importantly, this is a game with a ton of heart and soul, and that shines through on a constant basis. Just an amazing game to see in action, even at this point with the PS3 around.

This game also looked really good on my new-ish HDTV and was the only PS2 game that I had that was in 16:9 rather than 4:3, so that was a big contributor to how memorable it was. I finished this one pretty quickly overall and don't remember any of the 16 (!!) giant bosses being any major issue. I remember the bosses themselves though, as some of them were pretty damn impressive. Considering they're the only enemies in the game, you'd expect as much.

Should also mention the sound design and how good the ambient environmental noise was. Felt like you were in a sprawling real place, with echoes, wind, and sounds of distant water. Something I didn't really encounter in a game again until the Souls series years later. In a lot of ways this is a Souls game before Souls games were a thing. The general mood and ambience, and the world being largely empty and post-cataclysm, with the ruins of a great civilization all around you, are all very From-like tropes.

Honorable Mentions: The Shadow Hearts games

Also part of my "catch up on PS2" endeavor, I bought Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant for a cool $10 each. Course they go for like $150 each nowadays which is pretty funny. They're among the (very) few things I bought and never got to really playing or finishing. They're both interesting games, and my main man Yasunori Mitsuda does the soundtrack for the second one. They've been "on the list" ever since. In some alternate universe I played both around this time and probably had a ball. Covenant is particularly good, with a rad battle system and a killer soundtrack.

#325 Pokémon Diamond (Nintendo DS) – Winter 2010

My big return to the Pokémon series after not playing it since 1999 or so. And I picked a bad time to return, because the battles in this game are insanely slow and bland. Not only is the battle system slow-moving to begin with, it has constant text messages about every little effect that's going on (DoTs, weather, etc) that further grinds things to a halt. The game itself overall is okay, and it's hard for a Pokémon game to not be fun. It's just those battles... they're so slow. Do they really have to tell you every round that "the sun continued shining" and spell out that the enemy took two different kinds of DoT damage? It gets ridiculous after a while.

Gen 4 overall is one of my least-favorite generations, but it has its fans. The good news is that they really pulled the nose up on the plane with Pokémon Platinum, a special edition of this game that fixes most of its problems (especially the speed). I didn't play that version until years later, but IMO it's a huge improvement over this.

As for this one... I don't even really associate this game with 2010, because I started playing it way back in like 2006 or so (whenever my friend gave me a DS, she also gave me this game). Yes, it took me four years to actually get through it. I did try a few times, but the slowness drove me off, and when I'd resume after an absence I usually had like zero idea what I had to do next, further slowing things down a bit. This game is a large part of why now when I know I'm not gonna play something again for a while, I'll leave myself some sort of heads-up on where I left off. Like I'll park in front of the next person I need to talk to, or next area I need to go to, etc, before shutting the game off. So when I resume years later it's no problem.

Fondest Memory: Went with Piplup as my starter and named him Nipple. Many fond times were had with Nipple leading the charge into battle. The game got harder as it went on, and so did Nipple.

Toughest Part: The final boss, Cynthia, is way above the rest of the game in challenge level. Most of the regular battles are little more than a speed bump, which makes the slowness even more dull. Final boss, though? Super tough. This is a recurring trend in the series; sometimes the very last fight available in the game has a large gulf between it and everything else, giving you something to actually train for in the endgame, and battle-testing your party composition. Which is usually fine with me. Cynthia is probably the most formidable foe in the series, relatively speaking, compared to the game she's in.

#326 Armored Core (Playstation) – Winter 2010

Surprisingly the only Armored Core game I ever got to play (outside of the recent AC6). The rest were just too damn hard to find, and even moreso now. Again, like the previous game, I don't associate this with 2010. I associate it with the late 90's when I actually played a lot of this game on rentals and had a blast. Wasn't until 2010 that I got a copy of it (for like $15 at the time lol) and finished it. Probably as part of my "finish things from before" itinerary. Seems like 2010, at least at the beginning, was a "finish old things" year like 2007 was.

Toughest Part: Just getting set up and situated to begin with, finding weapons that you like and that work, getting your mech to a point where it isn't total ass. This game gets pretty challenging if your mech isn't up to par, so looking things up online is a must.

Path of Least Resistance: Getting Human Plus maxed out at the beginning is a huge advantage. That just requires Game Overing a lot and letting your money run well into the negative, which starts the game over. Do this like five times and you get all kinds of innate boosts that help a lot. It's pretty hard to get Game Overed or run way negative on money unless you're trying to, and takes a couple hours to die that much on the first mission, but it makes the rest of the game more fun. Good thing to do and keep as a spare save file for future new games.

Favorite Tune: There are a ton of them, hard to say. The main menu theme has to win though. This is one of the finest tracks on the Playstation. You hear it a LOT too, every time you're doing any kind of mech customization back at the base.

Fondest Memory: Listening to this very theme in the demo of the game back in 1997 or so, and kind of latching onto that theme as a sort of hopeful uplifting track when I was having issues in the real world. It probably is the most "hopeful" track this game has, too. Most of the music in this game reflects that it's a sad version of the future where the war industry is completely dominant. Even most of the peppier tunes never stray from that underlying note which is impressive.

Glitch Alert: Playing a physical PS1 copy of this on the PS3, there were a ton of issues with the music just not playing. I'd say almost all of the levels had no music, or music that would just stop after a minute, and so on. So what might be the best thing about this game, the soundtrack, wasn't there when I actually played through it. Pretty lame experience. Should have emulated it. Well, getting it digitally on PS3 seems to work without a hitch and all of the music is present, so I need to try this one again. 

WTF: Unfortunately it's the only Armored Core game that's available for inexpensive digi-buying on a newer system. From Software is sitting on a gold mine with these. Most of the series is very hard to emulate and each can fetch as much as $200 on Ebay which is kind of ridiculous. I'd rather give a reasonable amount of money right to From than feed somebody's garage sale.

#327 Radical Dreamers (Super Famicom) – Winter 2010

Kind of a mysterious and magical game here, as a pseudo-sequel to Chrono Trigger that was Japan-only for a long time. It's also a text-based game and a very odd one. Was mainly only mysterious and magical before I knew exactly what it was. After finishing Romancing SaGa 3, this was the next Japan-only SFC game to go after. It only took me a day or two to get through though. Very brief game, maybe 4 hours tops.

If anything it's way more of a prequel to Chrono Cross than a sequel to Chrono Trigger. People who really like Cross will certainly get something out of this one. As a game, it was pretty simple to beat and functioned more as a choose-your-own-adventure book. Side note, I really liked those as a kid (especially the D&D ones, Castle of Illusion was the best).

Posts HERE.

#328 Shien's Revenge (Super NES) – Spring 2010

First-person ninja action and a unique experience on the SNES. One of those games that sticks with you. Some great boss designs too. At this point I had a bunch of old SNES games I wanted to emulate for various reasons, and all of them were really quick. They also all got turned into posts later. This one was particularly fun.

This game is noteworthy because it was kinda supposed to be played with the Super NES Mouse (so if emulating it, use the mouse). You move the mouse around the screen to aim your shurikens and swing your knife. The bosses are also really memorable, with interesting designs. The leader of the bad guys (above) has his brain outside his head. As far as I know it's the only great SNES Mouse game out there. Besides the fly minigame in Mario Paint, of course.

Post HERE.

#329 The Lion King (Super NES) – Spring 2010

This game makes me weirdly sad for some reason. Probably because it has a lot of music from the movie and evokes all kinds of weird nostalgia with it. First half of the game you play as junior Simba, second half you play as grown Simba. The second half is probably a lot easier since you can actually fight stuff, but it doesn't really matter because the entire game is way harder than it should have been. I rented this in 1995 or so and got mauled by it.

While it has some great moments in it that are taken right from the movie, all I really remember about this game is how ungodly difficult it is. The difficulty starts as early as Stage 2 (out of ten or so) where you have to leap across giraffes and hippopotamuses while avoiding all kinds of hazards. Not sure who they thought their audience was. In any case, the same thing happened with this that happened with True Lies: I "beat" the game in the 90's by using a level skip code and an invincibility code to do the last level, but it didn't count. Later in 2010 I went back with an emulator and beat the game semi-normally (with a few extra checkpoints, as it goes).

Toughest Part, or at least the most annoying: This section about a third of the way through the game where you have to climb a waterfall with rapidly falling logs. They fall almost faster than you can jump, so it's like trying to run up a rapid escalator. Eventually you just get worn out from trying and fall back down. It's nightmarish.

Post HERE.

#330 Shaq-Fu (Super NES) – Spring 2010

A game known for being super-terrible, so I had to see it for myself. 20 minutes later, I'd beaten another game. It's okay. I mean, it's pretty funny and there's some novelty to controlling Shaq in a fighting game. I didn't hate it or anything. Mostly just wanted shots of it so I could do a post later.

Post HERE.

#331 True Lies (Super NES) – Spring 2010

Good top-down shooter based on the hit James Cameron movie. This might have been the only video game that I bought in the 1990's and didn't actually finish. The challenge level is super high and the CPU is relentless, so getting to the end could be a pretty ridiculous task. 2010 I went back and finished the game via emulator.

Fondest Memory: Probably getting the game in the first place. It was 1995, and my mom bought me this alongside Stargate in a Caldor because we liked both movies. It was the first time I ever got more than one game at a time, and the only time until probably 1999.

Challenge: Find a James Cameron movie (from memory) that doesn't start with T or A.

Post HERE.

#332 Hagane (Super NES) – Spring 2010

Another really hard game that wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Ninja Gaidens on NES. It's pretty unique though and has some great monster designs. Like most of the above, I mostly played this to write about it. Aside from the high difficulty, the main thing I remember about the game is how damn nice the art direction is.

Especially the bosses. The boss designs are straight-up outstanding for the era. This game definitely deserves more recognition than it's gotten. It has a bit of cult status but that's about it. If someone wants a spiritual "Ninja Gaiden 4" that is going to give you a real workout and feel like an achievement when you reach the end, this is your game. I recommend emulator though, being able to give yourself a checkpoint before a boss fight helps a lot. Nobody likes boss runbacks, they add little to the game, and they're outdated at this point. Just don't cheat on the actual boss fights, because you're only cheating yourself.

Post HERE.

#333 Soldner-X: Himmelsturmer (Playstation 3) – Spring 2010

A Gradius clone of sorts for the PS3. Looked very impressive. I was all about playing HD things around this time since I had an HDTV and all I was playing was retro stuff. So I grabbed this and gave it a whirl. It's yet another short game. Plays smooth as butter and has a nice challenge level that never becomes too excessive or anything. Definitely worth a quick run. This kind of arcade-style shoot 'em up was becoming a thing of the past by this point so I'm glad it was kept alive to an extent.

Ya know, the name kind of evokes Einhander a bit. Where's Einhander on this list? How have I not played it yet as of 2010? Looks like it's in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Lumines Supernova (Playstation 3) - Spring 2010

This game had a really weird effect on me. I didn't get very far with it. Just a few stages in. The music in this game is something else, and really took me on a journey. Was having some relationship and life difficulties around this time, in terms of not knowing what I should be doing with myself, and the soundtrack of this brings me right back to it.

The first stage theme is incredibly high-energy. The next few stages drop that energy down, though.

Second stage theme is just thought-provoking for some reason. Gets you wondering what you're doing with your life and where you fit into all this.

Another track I got into. Hard to explain why exactly, but all of the tracks in this game make you feel stuff. Or at least they did back then.

#334 Terminator (Sega CD) – Spring 2010

The "good" Terminator action game from the late 80's / early 90's. It's much better than most of the garbage fire Terminator games at the time, but it's really just an average action game with great music. Had a good time giving this one a quick runthrough in 2010. I was back into Terminator that year seeing Salvation and then going down the rabbit hole of Terminator expanded lore materials and so forth. So I was really looking for a good Terminator game at the time and this is the one I checked out. At least nowadays we FINALLY have a really good Terminator game with Terminator Resistance.

Post HERE.

#335 Odin Sphere (Playstation 2) – Spring 2010

This one took a WHILE. I had it as my side-game for several months while I played through other things. The art is terrific and the game in general is very good, it just goes on for way too long and the gameplay becomes very repetitive after a while. So it was best enjoyed in doses over time. It's a bit of a beat 'em up type game and I associate it with snow, and prosciutto and mozzarella, like Romancing SaGa 3. Think I started it right around when I was playing that game. Finally got it done around this time.

Fondest Memory: The artwork is really good in this one.

#336 Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (Gamecube) – Spring 2010

This is almost a Gamecube remake of A Link to the Past, with new areas (still on the same world map) and a ton of fanservice and nostalgia. Best of all it can be played by 1 to 4 people and is a great game no matter how many people you have. It gets overlooked a lot but I absolutely consider this a key Zelda game that should be played, even if one goes it alone.

Not only does it remake my favorite Zelda's world, it looks particularly gorgeous while doing it. Also plays well, and controlling all four Links as a solo player is a lot easier than you'd think. This wasn't a return to the "Zelda Crusade" though and it'd be a few years before I got to the next one in that endeavor.

Seriously though, people sleep on this game and they really shouldn't, it's a top-tier Zelda that barely gets mentioned now. Would be cool to see it get a second life via some sort of Zelda Collection, but Nintendo hates money (while making it hand over fist anyway). This was kind of a 2D-HD game before 2D-HD existed. ...and it isn't even in HD, but you know what I mean. It's sharp. Just a tremendously fun game and a huge improvement over the first Four Swords. Being able to play it solo at all, for one thing, which Four Swords didn't permit, and having a much greater ease of multiplayer access with the Gamecube's controller ports (as opposed to needing to connect four Game Boys together). Can't say enough good things about the game.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

No comments:

Post a Comment