Sunday, April 28, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#374 - 394)


#374 Halo 2 (Xbox) – Summer 2011

Co-opted this with the same roommate I played the first one with. Was a fantastic time. Probably have the fondest memories of this game out of the whole series because of the two-player, though Halo Reach certainly had the best story. We played this over a bunch of afternoon sessions and it's a good memory.

Favorite Weapon: I think it was like a dual-wield submachine gun setup that was new in this game, that's what I mainly remember wielding.

Quick Note: RIP to the milestone Z80 microchip, which powered the likes of Pong and Pac-Man (...neither of which I have beaten). As in any production of it in the world has ceased, and there won't be any more in the future. It's a little concerning to see a "first of its kind" (in many ways) finally cease production. Makes me wonder where we'd start over if all this tech disappeared tomorrow. Would it take 10,000 years to get back to where we are now?

#375 Resistance: Fall of Man (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

This was Sony's answer to Halo and it was worth playing. It's a similar alien invasion story, but less cartoonish and more realistic. This unfortunately means no purple lasers (yet) and the game is a bit too similar to your standard WW2 shooters. It takes place around 1950 which is different for an alien invasion.

The thing that stands out (or doesn't stand out) about this is that it looks way too much like a normal war game rather than an alien invasion game. At some point the aliens even start wearing stolen military uniforms and the game just becomes indistinguishable from most war games. However it's still good, and it's all setup for the much-better second game.

#376 Resistance 2 (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

Takes place later in time so you've got actual technology to use now, like laser beams. Also the aliens are much more alien and less human. Basically looks like a completely different game. Had a ball with this one and it was solid for its era. Wasn't the Halo slayer that Sony was hoping for but it did do well.

Honorable Mention: Wild Arms 2

Did a Wild Arms 2 replay here with the objective of beating all the superbosses, and it was a really fun time. Game has a whole plethora of superbosses with varying abilities / tiers of strength, and doing endgame level powering-up to handle those fights basically adds a whole new layer to the game. This was worth doing, and the final fight with Ragu O Ragula is probably the best fight I had in this series. While replays often bring games down a few notches as I realize I overrated them the first time, this replay actually moved Wild Arms 2 up significantly in my pantheon of RPGs from this era and I have no trouble saying it's the best game the series has offered.

#377 Dragonball Z Chou Saiya Densetsu (Super Famicom) – Summer 2011

Something I chose specifically for this site, the "DBZ RPG" for the SNES really isn't as good as the four NES DBZ RPGs I played back in the day. At least it looks nicer, being 16-bit. I did try to do this back in the day, and as I recall I couldn't get past Raditz. You have to use a certain item to stun him, and the menus were all in Japanese. As of 2011 it was fully translated, so it was no problem. Still a very grind-heavy game.

It covers the same ground as the first two NES DBZ RPGs, and does the same thing they do where none of the Z-Fighters die to Nappa and you get to bring them all to Namek. While I don't think it's as good as Gekishin Freeza, it does do one huge thing right that the NES game doesn't: You actually have SSJ Gokou vs Freeza at the end of this game. Gekishin Freeza shockingly cuts that fight to hold it over for DBZ RPG #3, which was a terrible choice.

Also, this game has a secret postgame uberboss fight with SSJ Vegeta, which is pretty cool (if super non-canon). Also probably the toughest fight in the game. It's a fun addition. This game may be weaker than the NES RPGs that do the same thing, but at least it feels complete and has a strong ending.

Toughest Part: Raditz. Much like the first Famicom DBZ RPG, you have to grind a lot to beat Raditz because at the beginning you only hit him for like 1 damage. There's also an item you need to find that causes the tail grab to take place, making the fight significantly easier by stunning him for a while.

Oh yeah, also there's a Raditz clone for some reason, so you have to beat him twice. Woe to you if you're playing in Japanese and can't read it, because you won't know to get that item (or use it if you did get it) without a guide. First time I played this I basically just got crushed by Raditz until I found the item via a guide, and even then had to level up a lot.

Unfondest Memory: The wide stances that everyone has for the entire game. Or the way-too-happy battle theme that plays for every battle in the game no matter how serious. At least there's some nostalgia attached to the battle theme, since I heard it a bunch in '99 when I was trying to figure this out.

Posts HERE.

#378 Soul Calibur 2 (Playstation 2) – Summer 2011

A game I'd liked for a long time (due to its incredibly hot female characters) but never actually got around to playing. That changed when a girl I knew said this was her favorite game and we played it. This included me beating the story mode.

My Favorite Characters: Seung Mina and Xianghua

Her Favorite Characters: Sophitia and Ivy. Particularly Ivy, who apparently had moves that were sexy to emulate while dancing. Your mileage may vary if you aren't a super-sexy young woman. Which, you know, most people aren't.

#379 Xenosaga Episode 2 (Playstation 2) – Summer 2011

This is one that had been bugging me for years, because I tried and failed to get through it in 2007 or so before I played Episode 3. This is the really not-good member of the trio, with a somewhat incomprehensible battle system, a story that felt more like a gaiden or tangent than a real sequel, and basically zero connection to Xenogears, dispelling that idea once and for all.

When this was made, they were still planning a six-game series, and it shows. There was no urgency here in terms of moving the story along or developing things. Like I said, it's more of a gaiden than anything else and felt like it would have been better off as the third act to the first game (a DLC, if you will, but those weren't around yet). Almost nothing of consequence happens in this game outside of meeting Jin at the beginning and the endgame development of Albedo. Admittedly, the whole endgame with Albedo and his castle was really well-done.

Fondest Memory: The "memory world" shaped from the childhood memories of different characters. It's bright and vibrant, like a memory world should be. My favorite part was the snowy winter version of it, walking around a neighborhood with everything covered in sparkling snow, with some wistful music playing. It was like reliving someone else's nostalgia.

#380 Bayonetta (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

Basically "DMC with a hot woman" which is a swell idea. Bayonetta herself, weirdly enough, does absolutely nothing for me. Maybe it's her exagerrated proportions. I don't know. Women love this game and it's a pretty stylish game overall, got nothing bad to say about it. I just wish the main character lit my world on fire more than "not at all". Basically a weaker version of a DMC game in my view, but some people swear by it.

#381 Dark Void (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

One of those cult games hardly anyone knew about but it was decent for its time. You play as a guy with a jetpack who battles alien ships and whatnot. It's the best Iron Man game I ever played. Not sure why we never got an actual licensed and promoted Iron Man game that was this solid. It's also over in like 3 hours, which is true of a bunch of games I played in this era.

#382 Mirror's Edge (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

Swung around and finished this off, after falling off with it a year before. Good game and there's nothing else like it. Parkouring through a futuristic city is a pretty great time. It's pretty short (10 hours or so) and I'd finished about half of it back in 2010 on rentals. So it was in the back of my head, bothering me, for months. Back then I basically had to finish everything I started and it was really tough if I didn't.

Fondest Memory: The setting of the game and how it kinda pulsed with energy. You could hear the sounds of the street below and the wind and everything you'd expect to hear while leaping from building to building. This game is special in a way that has never been replicated since (outside of the sequel).

Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII

I'd been doing a slow-walked replay of the FF series since 2005 or so, the second (and last) such full-series play I did for it. Was really into naming characters after friends of mine during this phase and also included the Advance versions of 4/5/6 in the replay series, which got mentions earlier in this list. In 2009 I did 6/7/8, in 2010 I did 9. With FF13 now out I wanted to wrap things up and had 3 left. So over the first six months or so of 2011, I slotted in these last 3. The objective being to beat all of the superbosses, which added a lot to the gameplay.

FFX: Most of these superbosses are in the Monster Arena. I didn't get all of the Celestial Weapons (just a couple of them) which made this harder than it needed to be, but it wasn't that bad overall.

FFX-2: This was easily the toughest uberboss set of the 3 (and the series in general). They put this 100-floor dungeon at the end that has most of the superbosses in it, and the last few are like insanely tough even with level 99 and maxed classes on everybody. Not even sure how I pulled it off.

FFXII: This one has a lot of really fun optional hunts, with a bunch of superbosses. Some of them are great callbacks to earlier games, like Deathgaze and Ultros. Course the main event here is Yiazmat and his legendary 50 million HP. Outside of the HP, he doesn't have a ton going for him though, and mostly just took a while.

FF superboss post HERE.

#383 Final Fantasy XIII (Playstation 3) – Summer 2011

Actually got this game in early 2010 and saved it for over a year before playing it (wanted to finish up with its predecessors too). It was the second time that I sat on an RPG for a long time before playing it, the first being DQ7, something that would be unheard of in the past when I rarely got a new game to begin with. This one was highly futuristic in a way nothing in the series had been before, so I was interested to see what they'd do with it.

This got off to a pretty meh start, as the day before I started the game I went to a wedding that my ex was also at, and she yelled at me for having the nerve to say hi and that I'd like to hang out some time if she wanted to be friends. "Something something restraining order". Hooray! Then she probably wondered why nobody talked to her at the after party. I know the last dungeon of After Years took up too much of my time, but that was a bit much.

As for the game, like I said I'd been sitting on this one for about a year waiting for a good time for it, and now I had a few weeks to kill. It's a good late summer game, with all of its lagoons and summery terrain. Most of the real meat of this game is in the much-more-open third act of the game, which has a ton of optional fights, a lot of exploration, and feels like a legit alien world in the way you usually only see in Xeno games.

Lot of people really dislike this one because of The Hallway and I understand that, but it had a pretty good battle system that moved quick and had things always going on in-between your inputs. Kind of like FF12's gambit system simplified. Most of the gameplay is switching classes around to dictate what set of moves your characters are using, provided you don't try to enter a bunch of commands yourself. While I prefer the gambit system for all of the micromanagement it allows, FF13's system is good for what it is.

The battle system and the fantastic (for 2010 PS3) visuals save the game from falling apart under the incomprehensible story/dialogue and The Hallway. The music also has some good tracks and an overall consistent "crystal" vibe. If that makes sense. This OST has a theme and a lot of tracks from it are instantly recognizable based on that theme / instrumentation.

Toughest Part: The final boss until you realize poison lands on it and is super effective. Turn everyone into Saboteurs so they spam poison until it lands, turtle up by turning everyone into Sentinels, win. Well, it's slightly more complicated than that but yeah.

#384 Dragon Quest IV (Nintendo DS) – Fall 2011

At this point school started and I did the same thing I did the previous year where I pretty much put everything away for 2 months to focus on that. However I allowed myself to finish this up, since it was the other "game to bring to college" from the previous Fall. Kinda did the same thing here, played it while I was out and about and got through the rest of it, mostly on train rides.

Given that it's an NES game that never got any real ports before this, DQ4 was one that really needed a 3D version. We also got a postgame chapter starring the villain Saro, which was a very cool thing to add and helped flesh out what was already probably the series' most memorable villain. And that was pretty much it until Halloween.

Later I finished the HD phone version (what I went with for posts, obviously) and it looks like that was different enough to count as its own game.

Posts HERE.

#385 Assassin's Creed (Playstation 3) – Fall 2011

Since I was playing through this with roommates, they had the opportunity to all go "just wait until the sequel". The sequel is of course far superior, but it would be a while before I got to it. While this first game is merely "okay" and functions as a good introduction to the series, it was the second that would cause this to end up being one of my most well-liked game series.

This one is a pretty basic "do nine chapters, each with a single assassination target". It isn't too long and it's very simplistic in what it asks. It's a good foundation for the rest of the series and it's weird that it has never gotten any remaster.

#386 Ogre Battle 64 (Nintendo 64) – Fall 2011

Don't remember much about this one except that it was decent, inoffensive, and I played it around Halloween. It's rare to see an N64 game pop on here. I think this might have been the last major N64 game that I had on my list. Really wish I remembered this better or had more to say about it. Too bad I didn't have any way to screenshot it at the time, or we'd most likely have some posts I could go back and take a gander at.

#387 Mortal Kombat IX (Playstation 3) – Fall 2011

Talked about this one a ton recently. It's probably the best game in the series, and what MK really needed from a relaunch. A tremendous retelling of the first three games in the series. While I prefer Shaolin Monks (due to letting you explore Outworld, which this doesn't), this one includes the first and third games in the story.

Favorite Character: Jade. She is statuesque.

Toughest Part: The fights with multiple foes (essentially endurance matches) that can sometimes be pretty lopsided against you (like having to fight Goro and Kintaro in one fight).

Posts HERE.

#388 Resistance 3 (Playstation 3) – Fall 2011

The end of the trilogy and the end of the battle against the alien invasion. Don't remember too much of this besides that it's the biggest and most visually-impressive of the group. They went all in with this one and threw everything out there, and the alien war reaches its pinnacle. It's a good one. Yet another sub-9 hour game, which is most of this episode at this point.

Toughest Part: The battle in NYC, specifically the part where you're defending Washington Square against hordes of aliens converging on it.

#389 Uncharted (Playstation 3) – Fall 2011

With the Resistances done I jumped into another Sony property. Had heard so many good things about this series and it seemed like everyone was into Uncharted 2 at the time. That took me a while to get to, but I played the first and liked it a lot. It really captures the "treasure hunter with fighting" Indiana Jones type vibe. This also marked me starting to get back into trophy-hunting to get more out of games, something I did a bit in 2009 when I first got the PS3 but then just sorta didn't bother with. Uncharted has some well thought-out and fun to get trophies. I didn't platinum it but I got a bunch of them.

#390 Halo 3 (Xbox 360) – Winter 2012

Had an opportunity to play XBox 360 again for the first time since I'd had one, and seized the opportunity to play a few things I'd missed out on. Top of the list was Halo 3 which I co-oped with the same roommate as the others. It was a fine game but it didn't hit as hard as the earlier ones, probably because I was used to the formula by this point. The visuals were a step up so that's cool. Though TBH I was a lot more into Reach and ODST later on.

#391 Mass Effect (Xbox 360) – Winter 2012

Also played this, which wasn't on Sony systems yet. Now this was an unexpectedly magical experience, and single-handedly got me back into "space stuff". It even prompted me to revisit a ton of Star Trek shows, including things I'd almost totally skipped over the first time around like Voyager and Enterprise. For a while after this, I was all-in on spaceships and planet-exploration. No Man's Sky would have been perfect for me here, but alas it didn't exist yet. Never got to it even when it did.

As for Mass Effect, having missed things like Knights of the Old Republic, this genre was totally new to me. I had a blast with it and the only downside was that I kinda rushed through the main story and didn't do much by way of optional content, which is where most of the meat of the game is.

Favorite Class: Vanguard. Equip a shotgun, use the power-dash abilities, and go to town.

#392 Super Mario Bros (NES) – Winter 2012

Seriously? Yeah seriously, it took me until 2012 to finally go back and beat the first game I ever played, in its original form. I felt like the Mario All-Stars version sufficed and never really thought about playing the NES "downgrades". However, they generally have a very different feel from the remakes, with that classic NES vibe. So it was worth it to finally do this. What's more, I did it on an actual console, no saves, so it took as much work as it would have in-era. I beat every world, but not all in one run of course. Warped back to whatever world I was on if I game overed, until I got all of the first seven down, and then it was just a matter of doing the 1-1, 1-2, 4-1, 4-2, World 8 run until I got it. The big surprise was that most of the game wasn't that bad at all. It didn't get particularly spicy until like World 6 or so.

Fondest Memory: Playing this in a doctor's office when I was like 5, and being pretty much obsessed with Bowser from the get-go.

Toughest Part: World 8, mainly 8-3. That's the one with all the Hammer Bros. Get here with a fire flower and it's no problem, but getting there intact is the tough part.

Post HERE.

#393 Alien Vs. Predator (Playstation 3) – Winter 2012

Back to the space theme, I got really into Alien around this time in a way I hadn't been before, even in the 90's. So playing this was a no-brainer. It's certainly the best AVP game since the Atari Jaguar one back in the day, and has nothing to do with the movies. You choose one of the 3 characters and each one has their own story campaign. They have very different HUDs as well. The space marine has a normal HUD with ammo and everything. The Predator has a HUD with infrared vision that can be changed to several other types of vision at will. The Alien has a HUD with nothing on it, just a faded and angular view of their surroundings (with a lot of peripheral vision, as fits an apex hunter).

I had a good time playing this one and left the Predator for last since it was probably the coolest campaign. Having the heat vision and everything was sick. This is hands-down the best Aliens OR Predator game that I've played, I think. The only downside to the game is that all 3 campaigns are pretty short, maybe like 4 hours each. And that's it, literally the only downside, for anyone who likes any of these IPs. Very un-sung and underrated game here.

#394 Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) – Winter 2012

The follow-up to Odin Sphere, this is a gorgeous game with a Japan theme (as opposed to the Northern Europe theme of OS). I blasted through this one quick and it was a great time. It's pretty much the apex of what a side-scrolling 2D action-RPG can be.

Fondest Memory: For a while I had this nice wood-paneled room that I had many good times in. Pretty much everything from mid 2011 to mid 2012 was played in this wood-paneled room. It was a very quiet and peaceful setting for playing games or writing, and Muramasa fit that setting well.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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