Thursday, April 18, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#337 - 354)

 #337 Lufia: The Legend Returns (Game Boy Color) – Spring 2010

Kind of a mediocre GBC game, but it works well and it has its moments. I wish we could have seen what the original planned "Lufia 3: Ruins Chasers" game on Playstation would have looked like, instead. I spent a lot of time level-grinding in this game and farming bombs to use against the optional superbosses, which are both early in the game fights with Gades. Most of what I remember about the game is that particular struggle, not so much anything after that. I made sure to beat both of the Gades-es. Spent more time working on the optional Gades Quest than I did on the actual rest of the game.

The randomized dungeons in this game all kinda look like this, which might be the game's big downfall. I didn't like this anywhere near as much as the first two games. I mean, it's alright, but much like the original incarnation of Dragon Quest 7 it felt antiquated by 2001 when it rolled around. The 9-character party size is also kind of unwieldy. There just isn't much here to be interested in, but I made the most of it in 2010. That and the next Lufia game after this makes this one look really good in comparison.

Fondest Memory: Playing and writing about the game while sitting outside at a picnic table. Laptops are cool like that. Did a lot of this game outside just as Spring was starting, so that's what I associate it with.

Other Fondest Memory: Started this during the Shawn Michaels / Undertaker Wrestlemania 26 feud. My own struggle to overcome the nigh-unbeatable early Gades fights mirrored Shawn's struggle to run up that hill.

Toughest Part: Defeating Gades in the aforementioned fights. He's optional and you're supposed to lose, but with enough preparation the fights are winnable. You get rewards for it too which is pretty cool. This was, really, the game for me. Meant more than actually beating the game did, and I can barely even remember the actual final boss. It was some rando anyway. What, you wanted Arek? lol.

Biggest Dropped Ball: Arek was supposed to be the villain of "Ruins Chasers" after being built-up in Lufia 2. Biggest dropped ball since Lennus 3 didn't get made.

Posts HERE.

#338 Rockman: The Power Battle (Arcade) – Spring 2010

A pack-in bonus for the Mega Man Anniversary Collection which I started playing around with at this point (another PS2 thing I had collecting dust) in preparation for the upcoming Mega Man 10. This game can be beaten in all of ten minutes, and has 3 "story paths" which brings it up to a whopping 30 minutes. I plowed through it, had fun, moved on. I really liked the Yellow Devil music, as mentioned in this week's posts.

Post HERE.

#339 Rockman 2: The Power Fighters (Arcade) – Spring 2010

This one can also be beaten in a matter of minutes. It's got the green dragon from MM2 and that's my favorite part because it was such a cool surprise. In some ways it's better than the previous game, in other ways it isn't. The soundtrack is great and it's cool that it exists, though I don't get a ton out of it at this point. Would probably be more fun in a real arcade.

Favorite Robot Master: Pharaoh Man

Post HERE.

#340 Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (Wii) – Spring 2010

At this point I was done with "PS2 catch-up" and finally got a Wii, four years after release. And this was the thing I got a Wii for (well, one of them). An FFIV sequel? Sign me up. This was interesting because it was chapter-based and you could have a different save file for every character / jump between them at will. Kinda like how SaGa Frontier was in 1998. So I jumped between the character chapters and had a great time catching up with the FFIV world.

That is, until the final chapter. It's longer than the rest of the chapters combined, and it's almost entirely one big dungeon. That dungeon went on and on to the point that it took me several evening play sessions to get through it, and my girlfriend actually reached the end of her rope with me playing this so much. So that's not so good. Later I learned to not actually play things in the evening if it's GF time, and if you don't want every evening to be GF time, then don't live with her.

In future versions of this game they shorten the final dungeon, which says a lot (namely that I wasn't the only one who found it ludicrously long), and in the latest version (3D, on phones) the final dungeon is shrunk to the point that it's basically a normal-length dungeon. Other than that, this was an interesting game with an intriguing plot, and they did a good job tying all of the FF games together (well, 1 through 6 anyway) and implying that they were all in the same universe / local star group. The Creator you fight at the end could be considered the overarching bad guy of the whole series, as the one who created all of the various things that menace the inhabitants of the worlds. I guess to keep them in check or something.

Favorite Chapter: Probably the one where you play as Golbez and Fusoya, the power team-up. However I also have a soft spot for the Edward chapter, where you play as the bard himself, his secretary, and 3 random unnamed soldiers. I liked seeing what they'd do with that chapter to help Edward's survivability.

Toughest Part: The 2nd-to-last fight in the game is basically an HP check, blasting your party for like 3k damage immediately when the fight starts. If you're underleveled at all, this is the end of the line until you go level grind. This follows an extremely lengthy and difficult dungeon, too. By that point I was way beyond ready to be done with the game, only to get one-shotted and have to go grind. Was quite meh. All in all this is a tale of two games. In some ways I really enjoyed it, in other ways it overstayed its welcome.

Honorable Mention: Super Mario RPG

This is about when I started this site, and the first thing I did was put Mario RPG content on it over a few weeks. While most of it was already-written, I did replay some of the game over the previous month or so to get new shots. Playing this game through after every 14 years is a good time.

Honorable Mention: The Mega Man Series

I replayed basically the entire classic Mega Man series at this point in time and that transpired over a few months going into summer. Not sure what prompted this, but it's cool to do that every once in a while too. Also I'd never all-out crusaded the classic series before. As mentioned, this was to lead up to Mega Man 10.

In any case I had a blast with all of them, though Mega Man 8 coincided with The Breakup and led to one of those "what am I doing with my time" existential crises. Nothing like dying over and over again in the Wily Fortress 1 jet sled level on a hot summer day with no AC and a room that faces the sun, while your girlfriend is calling you saying that she needs time to herself and wants to see other people. Well, it happens.

#341 Mega Man 10 (Wii) – Summer 2010

Much like I got an Xbox 360 to play retro game Mega Man 9, I did the same thing with the Wii and this sequel. And After Years obviously. This is another great Mega Man game, with solid weapons and stage design. I think Mega Man 9 had better weapons and levels, but I enjoyed this game more because they brought the difficulty down. It's still a challenge, but nowhere near the blistering difficulty of the previous game.

Path of Least-Resistance: There's a setting you can flip where the game goes into super easymode, covering pits with dental dams and whatnot. Not really a fan. But it was there, so I used it. I think I probably shortchanged the game a bit as a result, and to this day I think of it as the easiest classic Mega Man game even though it kinda isn't. Well, Mega Man 9 was almost too hard, so it's whatever. I usually play these in a chain once every 8 years or so, so this gets to be the cooldown break after MM9.

Review HERE; Post HERE.

#342 Donkey Kong Country 3 (Super NES) – Summer 2010

My least-favorite of the trilogy, which is why I didn't play through it in the 1990's. Finally got to it in 2010. It's kind of a divisive game and some people love it. Personally I thought it had a way less interesting world than the others. It's a more "realistic" world with grassland and snowy biomes, but I'd rather see like, interesting out-there worlds.

Another issue is that this might be the most gimmicky action game I've ever played. Almost every level had some major gimmick that you had to get good at, then it'd never be used again. Also, while DKC2 had a really good optional special world, this game's special world just kinda irritated me. There was this one rapidly-autoscrolling level that was kind of nauseating.

All in all I didn't have a great experience with this and mainly played it for completion's sake, to finish the trilogy.

#343 Lufia: The Ruins of Lore (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2010

One of the worst RPGs I've ever played, definitely on the shortlist. This has nothing redeeming about it, and I only played it to finish the series in posts. I mean, I could find fun things to like in Tecmo Secret of the Stars but not this game. They made the dungeons into sprawling, confusing mazes, and it sucked all of the meager potential fun out of the game. This game was just a hassle, and someday I'm gonna look back on how I spent my life and I'll lament this game.

And on that light note, this game makes Lufia: The Legend Returns look great in comparison. I don't even know why this is called Lufia because it has nothing to do with the other games, outside of trotting out Dekar as a party member for part of it.

Posts HERE.

#344 New Super Mario Bros Wii (Wii) – Summer 2010

Don't remember much about this one except that it only took me like one day to plow through and it was a Blockbuster rental. I really have very little memory of any of the "New" Mario games except that I wasn't really a big fan and felt like they didn't capture the outstanding vibe of the classic Marioes. They were still a fun play and a good way to spend one day of gaming, but they didn't go much further than that. This was on the shortlist of things to check out once I finally got a Wii, so I did.

Honorable Mention: Mirror's Edge and Bioshock 2

I didn't finish either of these (yet) but I rented them a couple times in a row simultaneously from Blockbuster and kinda jumped between them for a few weeks. Back then you could get two things for like $1 more than one so that was cool. Until they jacked up the prices so much that it was like $10 to rent anything. No wonder they went outta business. Back in the 90's you could rent things for like $3 and usually keep them for a whole week. In any case, Mirror's Edge was awesome because the city in it kinda looks like a far-future version of Boston, where I had just moved. Had a river going through it and everything. However I was pretty depressed and making it through these two games posed a big challenge as a result. Just kept losing interest, despite how good both of them are. I'll talk about Bioshock 2 later.

#345 God of War (Playstation 2) – Summer 2010

Now we reach the Kratos trilogy which I'd been meaning to check out for a while. Got this at Blockbuster, really liked it, got drawn into the series. It's the only series I know of with Threesome Minigames, unless FF7 Rebirth decides to suddenly get amazing. (Editor's Note: This was written before the game came out. Can confirm, no Threesome Minigame in FF7 Rebirth.)

As an early PS2 action game, this first game was kind of rudimentary, but it established the basics for what followed. The bladed, flaming whip-chains are still some of the coolest weapons in all of gaming.

Worth noting that this starts a chain of things I reviewed on the site when it was just getting going.

Toughest Part: Not sure what it was called, but late in the game there's this place where you have to scale these super-tall pillars with spikes and bodies raining down into Hades and all kinds of other madness. Struggled with that part, which, again, wasn't easy with no AC and a hot room facing the sun.

Review HERE.

#346 God of War 2 (Playstation 2) – Summer 2010

Takes the first and improves the gameplay while raising the stakes. In the first one you defeat Ares the God of War and become GoW yourself, taking his place. In this game you don't just fight one deity, you fight several others including Zeus himself. It's a really logical progression: GoW you fight one god, GoW2 you fight several gods, GoW3 you fight like all the gods. Everything about this game is suitably epic and I liked it the most out of the trilogy. Just felt really well-refined without going too far over the top with the violence like the third did. Which literally everyone who played this series would disagree with me on, but it is what it is.

Review HERE.

#347 God of War 3 (Playstation 3) – Summer 2010

Objectively speaking, this is probably the best even though I liked the previous game more. The visuals are MUCH nicer in this one as they went 1080p on PS3 and spared no expense. Anyone who likes mythology is gonna be blown away by all the deities that turn up here. Mega-showdowns with Poseidon and Hades await, along with a rematch with Zeus for all the marbles. My only issue with it was that they made it obnoxiously violent this time and Kratos was basically a jackass, murdering people he didn't need to kill and being mean-spirited about it, but that's what the audience probably wanted at this point. The others were already crazy and violent, but in a way, I guess. Other than that it was a great run.

Fondest Memory: Fighting Poseidon over the ocean, with waves crashing everywhere and all kinds of chaos happening.

Review HERE.

#348 Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) – Summer 2010

The best of all the 3D Marioes, even better than the first Galaxy. This game is incredibly fun and happy. Unfortunate that as of 2024 it's still inexplicably trapped on the Wii console. While I only played Galaxy once through over one week, I played Galaxy 2 a lot and kept going back to it over a couple months. It's the one thing I played in this era that really transcended how meh I was feeling and made me forget my problems. Much like Mario Sunshine pulled off in 2003.

Biggest Surprise: Getting to the end and finding out there is a second set of 120 stars to get that unlocks after you beat the game. In other words, there are over 240 stars to get in this game. Absolutely nuts.

Toughest Part: Grandmaster Galaxy, which houses the secret 241st and 242nd stars. It's basically the optional postgame uber-challenge for people that want it, and it's ridiculous to the point of insanity. I didn't have to do this... but it was there, so I did. I'll say this, it's an interesting idea to have an optional final test of everything you've learned, and every 3D Mario game from here on out has had a final challenge like this.

Review HERE.

#349 Mega Man ZX (Nintendo DS) – Summer 2010

This is sort of "Mega Man Zero 5" but not really, jumping forward 200 years and giving us random kids as protagonists. Plays like the Zero games, with better resolution and visuals due to the system jump. However, the way they structured this game was total ass, and I spent most of my time lost in the confusing hub zone. Doesn't really do anything new or better than the Zero series and without the interesting characters and story, I had very little reason to get into this one.

Review HERE; Post HERE.

#350 Mega Man ZX Advent (Nintendo DS) – Summer 2010

Much better than the previous one in most regards, mainly because they made the hub zone streamlined and I wasn't lost all the time. Plays more like a normal Zero game, while the previous one tried to be open world and botched it. That said, this game also botches things by adding voice acting for the first time in the Zero series, and some of the worst voice acting ever. I mean they totally botched it, and it made it very difficult to take anything about this game seriously. We never got any more games in this series after this either.

The best thing about this one is that it lets you transform and take the form of defeated bosses, gaining their whole moveset, which is an awesome idea and begs the question of why they only introduced this mechanic now considering it's the last game. Then again, some of the boss forms are pretty bad / hard to manuever. Another duo-gy where you could make a case for either being better than the other.

Review HERE; Post HERE.

#351 Metroid Prime 3 (Wii) – Summer 2010

My least-favorite of the trilogy, but also the most technologically advanced. Surprised it wasn't the first thing I played on the Wii, like what happened on the Gamecube. Nope, this time it got superceded by Mario... and FFIV... and Mega Man 10. This is kind of an odd game that at times seems to take more from Halo than from the Metroid series. At times it didn't feel very Metroidish at all. All in all I wasn't a huge fan, but putting all of that aside it was good to finally play this and it is most certainly a high-quality game regardless. However, I have complaints.

While the first two Primes had you exploring closed-in single worlds with various biomes/areas, this one opts instead to have you traveling around to a bunch of planets, each one being the equivalent of an area in one of the other games. This causes them to not really interlink at all or feel like a cohesive world, but more of a series of levels you can select, which didn't feel too Metroid-like. Also most of the areas in this game are too damn bright! After how moody and atmospheric the first two were, this one was peppy in comparison. The soundtrack was also a stark departure from the earlier games, with "late 00's Wii choir music" (I don't know what else to call that trend) in a lot of it instead of the usual Retro Studios tribal beats.

Favorite Tune: The battle with Rundas has one of the greatest battle themes I've ever heard in a video game, no joke. All of the enemy bounty hunters are interesting fights, and it expands the concept from Metroid Prime Hunters of Samus being in competition with a bunch of other formidable characters.

Review HERE.

#352 Lord of the Rings Vol 1 (Super NES) – Fall 2010

One of the worst RPGs I've ever played, doesn't even have any fun badness to redeem it. Being set in the LOTR world is the only thing it has going for it. Oh, some of the music is good. For some reason the game does appeal to me, even though I know how bad it is. I played it in this timeframe to do a post on the endgame, and later revisited it to finish the post by covering the earlier game. The endgame had a certain mysterious quality to me because I never got to see it back in the 90's. The Mines of Moria was just a mythical place where you may or may not fight a Balrog; very little info was available.

The one thing that's kinda cool about this having all the characters and seeing them walking around together. It has permadeath though, so good luck keeping all of them. Especially when they all gain EXP from kills independently of each other and the weaker characters land like zero deathblows to actually get said EXP.

Beating this game is a PITA because it involves a scavenger hunt to find a bunch of gems around the world in order to open the Mines. Even then, often times the game will glitch out and just kinda not unlock the final dungeon. Other times it'll unlock without you finding all the gems. It's a bit of a programming disaster. I'd advise just using passwords to get the final dungeon open.

Toughest Part: Just getting through this damn game without it falling apart on you. The whole thing is held together with scotch tape at best. The actual toughest challenge is likely the final boss, the Balrog. He basically just mows through all your characters one by one until you find a spot where he can't hit you back and stab away from there. What a terribly-designed fight.

Post HERE.

Honorable Mentions: Dragon Quest IV DS and Dragon Quest IX

Went off to a new college right about here and didn't want to bring all my systems and be distracted by them. Wanted to do well in class and socialize/make friends, so I dedicated some energy to those things instead of gaming for a couple months. However I did bring along the DS I was gifted, along with Dragon Quest IX, to have something to play if I really did have some legit downtime. Also finally watched the Buu Saga of Dragonball Z, which funnily enough I never saw back in the day. Only watched up through Perfect Cell in DBZ's heyday, which is surprising because you'd think I'd be all over seeing the entire thing.

Back to the games, skipped over DQ8 entirely and was soured a bit by DQ7, but I got back into it with the DQ3 SFC remake a few months earlier. DQIX was fine, didn't light my world on fire or anything. Was an inoffensive way to spend some downtime. I didn't beat the game (yet) but I did steadily progress it every so often. That prompted me to pick up DQIV DS and give that a go, which was also a great way to kill some time.

#353 Demon's Crest (Super NES) – Fall 2010

Very solid game that functions as a sequel to Gargoyle's Quest 1+2. It's got that spooky Halloween aesthetic also found in Super Ghouls and Ghosts. Some cool bosses here and some cool gargoyle forms you can turn into with various abilities and strengths. Played this just to do posts and discovered an incredibly underrated SNES game.

Toughest Part: There's an optional postgame boss, which is rare for this kind of game, and they made it an insane fight.

Post HERE.

#354 Power Blade (NES) – Fall 2010

Another thing I played just to do a post, this one is most notable because I was obsessed with it as a kid. It was the cover game and main attraction for the first Nintendo Power I ever got to read, and it looked so insanely cool. Most of my memories of it aren't of the actual game, but of reading the Nintendo Power issue.

The game itself is very good for what is ostensibly a Mega Man clone with boomerangs. One of those classic platformers for the NES that isn't for everyone, but has a certain timelessness for the people who like it. Surprised it somehow took me until 2010 to get to this one in emulation. You'd think it would have been at the top of the list back in 1998.

Toughest Part: I remember the giant Terminator boss being the roughest part of the game when I played it. I think I was doing something wrong in this fight because I couldn't seem to get over the boss. Shout out to this game for having so many Terminator references in general.

Post HERE.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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