Friday, April 19, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#355 - 373)

#355 Castlevania (NES) – Fall 2010

2010's Halloween festivities included a post series on the 'Vanias, which I'd never played before this aside from Super Castlevania IV in 1998. It's now one of my favorite game series in existence, but back in 2010 I don't know if I really "got it". The posts basically just made fun of the games and got a negative reception in the comments, so later I replayed the series and did the posts over again with a bit more respect.

As for the game itself, it's fine, the first of its kind (on a Nintendo system anyway) and something that got imitated quite a lot going forward. It's a classic, but personally I'd play the later ones first if I wanted to reach for a 'Vania. The knockback upon getting hit is a real problem that makes the game less fun.

Post HERE.

#356 Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES) – Fall 2010

A game that gets frequently panned online. I kinda liked it, but I also had the help of Nintendo Power maps and emulator saves. It's the genesis of the "Metroidvania" design and definitely a rudimentary and crude version of it. Similar design to the first game, just more open, trying new things, and so forth. Bosses were pretty lame in this one compared to the first, and there were only a couple of them. Not something I'll ever play again, and nearly the worst of the 2D 'Vanias overall (CV Adventure on Game Boy is worse), but I don't dislike it.

Favorite Thing: The fire whip is really nice and probably one of the coolest weapons on the NES. Too bad it didn't really ever appear in the other action ' least for a while. Circle of the Moon has it as a weapon enchant effect, but it isn't particularly good in that game and you have a lot of better spell effects to use instead. At least it's there at all though!

Post HERE.

#357 Castlevania III: Akumajou Densetsu (Famicom) – Fall 2010

Played the Japanese version of this one (hence Famicom) to hear the better sound chip version of the music. Best of the NES trilogy, Alucard's debut, and a really fun game in general. Course it's also super hard. If you're not in any kind of hurry and willing to just play it for a while, it works itself out. Top of the list for NES challenges that would net you some playground street cred.

Side Note: When I was a kid, I remember the media derisively referring to Nintendo as "Nofriendo" when they weren't outright saying it'd turn kids into serial killers. I found "Nofriendo" really off-base because most of the friends I've ever actually made were because we were brought together by liking video games.

Toughest Part: The whole damn thing. This has got to be the hardest NES game not called "Ninja Gaiden". I mean, there are other games in that era that are obscenely tough because they give you limited lives (or one life) but as far as actual good games go, this is among the toughest you'll find on the system.

Post HERE.

#358 Castlevania Bloodlines (Sega Genesis) – Fall 2010

Annnd another one. I also did Super Castlevania IV after this, but it's one I previously beat many years earlier. Bloodlines is kind of an interesting one, with that signature "Genesis twang" and fast-moving gameplay that often overloads you. The choice of two characters is cool though and overall I found this to be a very fun and beatable game. The difficulty is a little overblown and I found CV3 to be much tougher. All in all it's a more accessible 'Vania for a newcomer than the NES installments.

Post HERE.

#359 Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2 (Wii) – Fall 2010

Around Thanksgiving I went and brought my Wii to school. Just that one system, and only had a handful of games for it. Still didn't want to be too distracted. Played this game for a few weeks and had a good time with it. Another DBZ fighting game, no big whoop. I remember it took a really long time to get through because there were so damn many fights and I only played it for like 20 minutes an evening.

#360 Metroid: Other M (Wii) – Winter 2010

There's a lot to be said about this game and most of it isn't good. It's a real "what we're they thinking" game. It takes place between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion and I'm not sure who was asking for that sort of inter-quel to begin with. At least it has a Queen Metroid, which is the only rendition of the QM in a 3D Metroid game. Or really any Metroid game after Metroid 2.

Biggest Surprise: The semi-postgame thing where you go through another area and fight Phantoon.

2010 review HERE. 2014 post HERE, and later more in-depth 2021 post HERE. Yeah I did this one 3 times for some reason.

#361 Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) – Winter 2010

Basically "Donkey Kong Country 4" and a really outstanding game. Retro Studios of Metroid Prime fame took over for this one and they really lived up to the DKC pedigree. Most people prefer the sequel Tropical Freeze but I like this one more myself. It took everything that made the series great in the first place and revived/modernized it.

Favorite Tune: The final boss theme. You can REALLY hear the Retro Studios Metroidness here. This could be an unused track from Metroid Prime.

Favorite Level: The one where the foreground is silhouetted against a sunset background. That level is suuuuper purdy.

Review HERE.

#362 Bioshock 2 (Playstation 3) – Winter 2011

Played a lot of this the previous Summer and with Winter Break arriving, it was time to wrap it up. At the time I thought it was kind of a pale imitation of the first game (and it is too similar in a lot of ways) but I've gained a new appreciation for it over time. The story and location may not be as interesting or novel as they were in the first game, but the gameplay here is actually a step up.

Being able to dual-wield is a big change, and setting all kinds of traps to fend off enemies was pretty awesome. I could find a good base of operations and booby trap everything around it, then lay in wait for a boss that was stalking me. Just a terrific game that tells a lot of its story through the gameplay.

Favorite Part: The DLC, Minerva's Den, is one of the better pieces of storytelling out there and a high point of the whole series.

Toughest Part: When the Alpha series Big Sisters go online and start zeroing in on you. These things are fast and furious and make the Big Daddy look old and slow in comparison, so good luck escaping. It's awesome.

Review HERE.

#363 Startropics (NES) – Winter 2011

Emulated this to do some posts. I loved the sequel back in 1999 and it was time to see what the predecessor was like. They're both really good games. Basically Zelda-likes with more action. Surprised they never did a third game, and also surprised that I never covered the second game in any way. Should probably do something about that, but I also like leaving the memories of 1999 alone.

Posts HERE.

#364 Resident Evil 4 (Wii) – Winter 2011

The last of the small group of Wii games I had to work through over December '10. I didn't actually finish this one off until January. This is one of those things that's critically acclaimed and beloved by most people, but I personally didn't really "get" it. I liked it a lot more when I played the remake many, many years later.

Fondest Memory: One of my roommates hung out a lot to watch me play this one, because it had been one of his favorite games a few years earlier. He'd sit there and do commentary, with a lot of "What're ya booyin?" entering our casual speech.

Unfondest Memory: Another roommate who didn't like me also really didn't like this game, and would make sure to walk by sighing and mumbling when it was on. So I started associating the mumbling of the zombie people in the game with the real-world negativity that was going on.

#365 Mega Man X Command Mission (Gamecube) – Winter 2011

Moved into a new place much closer to school, finally got around to this (surprisingly decent) game. It's an RPG with the X series cast. Combat is good, story is good, there are some twists and turns. I just wish it didn't have that kind of polygony X7 look to it, but it probably needed to at that point in time. Never gonna play it again, but I had a blast.

Favorite Tune: Standby Zero, the theme music of Zero powering up. This track is so insanely good and never failed to get me super pumped-up to get things done or feel better.

#366 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Playstation) – Winter 2011

Terrific, probably best-in-series game that I've played a few times now and covered on here not long ago. Also one that I kinda just ignored for over a decade. Finally got to it though, basically to cap off the Winter Vania Fest.

Toughest Part: Trying to get through it in Richter Mode with no artifacts or ability to level up. Nothing in the main game presents much of a major threat, especially once you're wielding dual Crissaegrims.

Fondest Memory: Playing this in the winter time with my windows open. The Brazilian girl in the downstairs apartment who controlled the heat for the entire house (for some reason) liked to keep the temperature absolutely cranked so she could walk around in her underwear all the time. She was very nice and we hung out a few times. Anyway, I didn't mind the heat because I could keep all the windows open and get all that fresh winter air without getting cold. Matter of fact I was mainly desperately trying to cool off. So I remember this game mainly for that, enjoying the fresh and crisp Winter air while I played.

Plasma TV Notes: I got a 50" 1080p plasma TV for the first and only time right about here. I think this was the only game I played on it. The picture was a big improvement over my old budget 720p 37" LCD TV. Looked very nice. Only problem was it had terrible burn-in issues, and very quickly the HUD and Alucard's HP meter became permanent fixtures of the image. You could see their blurry ghosts while watching other things. As cool as the TV and the game were, I quickly realized this probably wasn't gonna work out and returned the TV. Got a Samsung 47" 1080p LED TV instead and it worked out fantastic, lasting me a good four years or so before I traded up again.

Posts HERE.

#367 Mega Man Maverick Hunter X (PSP) – Spring 2011

An old friend of mine came to visit and spent a week with me. Somewhere in there when we weren't inebriated, we went shopping and she just spontaneously bought me a PSP. It was the third-coolest thing we did that week. She also got me FF7 Crisis Core, the main thing I wanted to play on it. But first, I decided to get ahold of the two PSP Mega Mans and give those a spin. First one up was the X remake.

This game is pretty solid, and plays very similarly to Mega Man X8. The only real problem with it is that MMX was already perfect and didn't need a remake. Still, they were able to flesh out the story a lot and that alone made this a worthy addition to the canon. I really wish we'd seen a "Maverick Hunter X-2" for further story fleshing-out, but unfortunately this one kind of bombed on sales.

Post HERE.

#368 Mega Man Powered Up (PSP) – Spring 2011

Here's the remake of the first classic series game. Really too bad we didn't get more of these. I didn't like Mega Man's superdeformed design at all (hence why I played the X remake first) but other than that this was actually a great game that not enough people gave a chance to. They fix some of the issues with the first NES game and made it considerably more fun, while adding two new bosses to bring it in line with the other games and their eight boss lineups.

This concluded my run of Mega Man games over the previous ten months or so. It was a good time, to say the least. Unfortunately we haven't gotten much more for the series since then. Basically just Mega Man 11. Like the previous game, I'd have liked to see what they would have done with a sequel based on MM2, but no such luck.

Post HERE.

#369 Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core (PSP) – Spring 2011

Easily the best of the "FF7 Compilation" expanded universe, but still not exactly a great game. It's kind of basic, using a mission system to warp you around, and a slot machine driven battle system. The remake of it later on is considerably better and changes the battle system quite a bit. However for 2011 I really dug this and it was cool to return to the FF7 universe and see more of Midgar. However the game did have some issues, all of which got addressed in the remake later on. Really liked playing this one and it coincided with the beginning of Spring.

Favorite Tune: Banora plains. Listened to this a lot while just walking around from place to place in real life, sometimes straight from the PSP with headphones. So my "favorite tune" and "fondest memory" are basically the same thing here.

Favorite Character: Just gonna go right out and say that Zack is the best hero character Squaresoft (or Square-Enix) ever came up with. He makes the game.

Biggest Dropped Ball: 1st Class SOLDIER Genesis, the main villain of the game, is built up well. They present him as more or less an equal power to Sephiroth, setting him up perfectly to be the bad guy in a future FFVII sequel. Dirge of Cerberus even has him appear in a post-credits scene to show that he's still around post-FFVII and has nefarious plans to rise again. So of course... Square-Enix never did anything else with him after that. He's not just a dropped ball, he's a loose end.

Review HERE.

#370 Halo (Xbox) – Spring 2011

Obtained a second new system in as many months, this time buying a retro XBox for like $20 so I could take out a few things that had been inaccessible before now. This game was pretty much entirely split screen co-opped by me and one of my roommates, which was a really fun time. As far as Xbox goes, this was the reason to have one.

Favorite Weapon: Plasma Rifle. Doesn't need to be reloaded, fires blue lasers, and just looks alien. The pistol is probably better overall since it can be charged, but I liked the rifle and stuck with that.

Toughest Part: That one library level with the Flood. Not only are they nasty enemies, the level itself is a confusing maze that drove us nuts.

#371 Dragon Quest IX (Nintendo DS) – Summer 2011

Already talked about this one quite a bit. It was my "bring one game with me to college" game and it was a nice chill time. I finally got around to finishing it a few months later. It's a perfectly good game, but I don't remember much of it except that it was chill and enjoyable.

Didn't like how small child like the main character was (I like my DQ casts to be at least mostly grown, interesting folk) but I did like that the class system made a return. There was a lot of depth to this one and it was a good choice for one game to bring to college. I'd like to revisit it once. Wish there was some kind of HD version or modern port of this in any way, because the 3D DS visuals at this point look pretty fuzzy.

But Why?: Why haven't we ever gotten any rendition of Dragon Quest X? Especially now that there's a single-player version out in Japan. They'd lose absolutely nothing by localizing that version and putting it out there for people to get while waiting for DQXII and DQ3 HD. Where are those, for that matter? Is the series in limbo with Metroid Prime 4 and Elder Scrolls 6? Let's hope not.

#372 Final Fantasy IV Complete (PSP) – Summer 2011

Got the FFIV PSP version as soon as I realized it was a thing. It's a great version of the game and looks fantastic. Also adds an entirely-new Interlude postgame linking the game to After Years. Interlude alone takes a couple hours and it was cool to have more stuff pop up after the end credits. No FF4 Advance content but I don't think we're missing much.

Say what you will about the PSP, it might have done retro Final Fantasy ports better than any other system. The only downside is that said games are stuck on the PSP, which is no longer getting any real support. The good news is that it's pretty easy to emulate the PSP.

#373 Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (PSP) – Summer 2011

Included in the same package and still a great time. Counting it as its own game as it...well, IS its own game. They fixed some of the issues with the original Wiiware version. The final dungeon is less aggressively drawn-out. The game is better-balanced, and certainly looks prettier (while losing a bit of retro aesthetic). With the addition of Interlude to the previous game, we've got a nice big super-sized version of FFIV here. Made sure to not upset any women while I plowed the final dungeon this time.

Favorite Endgame Party: Cecil, Kain, Rydia, Porom, Golbez. Pretty much your standard FFIV endgame party, except with Porom on heals and Golbez wreaking havoc. I tried adding Ceodore to try to make something out of him. Unfortunately Ceodore seems pretty underpowered, at least at the levels I bothered getting him to, and just didn't carry his weight. On some replays of the game I switched Kain out for Ursula (Yang 2.0) and that was certainly fun, but again her stats were a little iffy. The New Generation (tm) in general had weaker stats than the old guard. And finally when I replayed this for the final time a few years ago, I went with an all-lady team of Rydia, Porom, Ursula, Izayoi (ninja), and Leonora (sage). That was an interesting group.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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