What Games Are You Playing?

It's been a while since I've properly posted on this thread so I need to go back some months on some of these as I never talked about them.

Pokemon Scarlet - The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Part 2: The Indigo Disk + Epilogue: Mochi Mayhem (DLC) (Switch)

I found both of these very enjoyable, with new areas to explore, new characters and stories as well as new and returning Pokemon there was a lot to do here.

There will be story spoilers going forward.

Starting with the first half of The Indigo Disk we visit the Blueberry Academy, located in the Unova region in the middle of the ocean. The academy features a huge terranium under said ocean which is the main new area for this DLC, split into four artifically made biomes it gives home to a lot of varied types of Pokemon.

Compared to The Teal Mask's Kitakami, this wasn't as interesting an area IMO but it was still a joy to explore and has some nice throwbacks to areas from Gen 5 which fans will appreciate.

What this area does excel in though is that we actually get some decently challenging battles unlike the main game with a lot of focus on double battles. It was nice having to use some strategy here and there though these aren't brutal by any means but an appreciated improvement from what we've had.

Story wise we continue with the character Kieran who we met in Part 1 who is now in his edgy rival arc and is now the Champion of Blueberry's Elite 4 (until you beat him and them of course). The Elite 4 members (who are all students of the academy as well) are all fun characters as well with some fun personalities. That basically covers the story for the first half of the DLC, it's just battles really which is fine as gameplay was the focus here and the real story content starts in the second half.

The second half of the story see's you (and Kieran) return to Area Zero from the end of the main game in which we get access to an even lower portion of the crater, down in the crystalline caves where the Terrastal phenomen originates and the Pokemon responsible for it which is the new Legendary PKMM, Terapagos which is a cute enough little fella.

The highlights of this area is that after being sick of **** basically Kieren catches Terapagos so he has a PKMN that can finally beat you which of course doesn't last for long, even breaking the ball it was captured in which ends in the longest Tera Raid battle yet which was a fairly fun challenge (though I didn't have much trouble) and during this battle is when Kieren is having an existential crisis from constantly losing but by the later half of the battle he comes around.

The second highlight is that you find out you were the one who originally gave the Scarlet Book to the Prof. Sada of the past during an event if you return to the top of the mountain in Kitakami, causing her to build the time machine which lead to the events of Scarlet, making this a paradox which is a very fitting revelation for this game and further gives some lore to the Paradox PKMN in a way I guess.

I will say though it still felt a lot was unanswered from the main game during the events of Area Zero. I'm not against leaving certain things a mystery or to your own interpretation but I do wish we got some more solid answers. But on the flipside it is fun to theorize on said questions still but I still wish it had a bit more, at least I expected a bit more.

Finally onto the epilogue which released a little later, now this was a lot of fun and is the equivalent to say a fun episode of the anime which doesn't take itself to seriously, a bit of a slice of life episode really.

You, Nemona, Penny and Arven take a trip back to Kitakami and meet up with Kieren and Carmine for a vacation of sorts and this leads to a lot of fun interactions as this was the first time your friends from Paldea meet with your friends from Kitakami. After some laughs you and Kieren notice your friends as well as the residenta of Kitakami start acting weird, they all start dancing and talking about Mochi. You discover this is the work of the new Mythical PKMN, Pecharunt who have influenced your friends and the townsfolk with its mochi. There are some funny cut-scenes involving this and by the end your beat and catch Pecharunt and everything turns back to normal.

Overall this was a lovely fun send-off for the game and though the game has many problems on the technical side I still had so much fun with this entry and is a shame we're not getting anymore as they really hit it with something great on the character interactions and dynamics side and wish we had more of these slice of life / comedy style plots.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (PS5) (Full Thoughts)

In my original post about this game I said I'd share my full thoughts at a later date so here they are.

This is honestly one of the best games I have ever played period. It's the sort of game you just feel like shouldn't exist, especially in this current era of gaming. Like I'm not sure how to describe it but it feels like a game and isn't ashamed of it if that makes sense.

There will be major spoilers ahead, for both this game and any other game from the FF7 universe.

I guess as a bit of backstory my first experience with the FF7 universe was with Advent Children when I was teen, I adored the movie despite not really knowing what the hell was going on but it was so cool to me. Of course over the years I already knew about the two major deaths of the series, Aerith and Zack, just without the context (I mean I knew Sephiroth killed Aerith but that was all) and I'd played a tiny bit of Dirge of Cerberus (a game I've still never beaten nor remember much from the little I played) but outside of that it wasn't until I finally played FF7 Remake a few years ago that I really got into the world of FF7 and have adored it ever since. FF7 Remake is an amazing game and I still rate it very highly though will be interesting to go back to after Rebirth.

After that I moved onto Crisis Core Reunion which wasn't that long ago and it was great to finally see what Zack was all about and I fully understood why people love him and though I knew he'd die at the end, that ending battle and scene brought me to tears regardless.

Afterwards I was unsure what to do, do I wait and go into Rebirth blind or do I play the OG FF7 as I really enjoyed Remake not knowing what the actual plot of FF7 even was but I decided to play the original in the end and I'm really glad I did as I think it further improved my experience with Rebirth as well as improved how I felt about Remake as well as made me realise the flaws of Crisis Core and Advent Children (I hate that Genesis is present at the Nibelheim reactor in CC 😅) and of course FF7 is a fantastic game by itself. I did also re-watch AC before Rebirth, didn't enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger as the plot is pretty weak but the action scenes and music are still top notch, I can't hate the movie.

Now onto Rebirth itself, where to start.

Gameplay - This is definitely my favourite combat system for a FF game, I'm already a fan of action games so the remake series not being turn-based hasn't been an issue for me personally. Though mostly the same as Remake, it has definitely been improved upon and once you adjust it feels great and of course the more abilities and materia you acquire the better it gets.

Starting with Cloud I really like that they have added a ranged attack into his default move-set as considering you play as him for the majority of the game it can be a real issue when you're stuck against an airborne enemy and may not have the equipment / abilities / party members to deal with them as easily.

Barrett feels mostly unchanged though I didn't use him much in Remake tbf but after spending more time with him in Rebirth I've really come around to his playstyle and he definitely does feel better overall.

Tifa again is mostly unchanged and was my favourite to use in Remake, she continues to have great abilities and can be a powerhouse. Due to some other characters I haven't used her as much in Rebirth but is a fantastic option still.

Aerith like in Remake I feel starts off not the strongest but once you build her up she is a fantastic character and you want her in your team at most times. This time around some of her abilities from Remake are baked in to her default move-set which worked well. I don't have much to say about her apart from put the time and effort in as it'll be worth it.

Yuffie is such a fun character to use, I enjoyed playing as her in Intergrade but due to the short time of the DLC I never got the chance to fully experiment with her gameplay but that has been rectified in Rebirth. Being a mix of a melee and ranged fighter she works great in any situation and being able to change her magic type for her ninjutsu further adds to that. I personally used her as a ranged attacker more and was one of the most common party members I used in my playthrough.

Red XIII was my biggest surprise as prior to this I was curious how'd they make a four legged animal playable in this sort of game (though we got a glimpse with non-playable Red in Remake). I really enjoyed his defence styled gameplay which I didn't think I'd be a fan of but I really came around to it very quickly. He also just feels like he powers through enemies being one of the quickest enemy killers and getting that stagger bar up fast. With Cloud and Yuffie he was the other I used the most.

Cait Sith is the odd ball, I really think I just need to spend more time with him and really learn his gameplay style as though I was starting to get some cools things out of him it wasn't really clicking with me. Like Aerith I think once I have the right materia and the like and learnt what moves to use in what situations he could possibly become quite a broken character (like in OG FF7). Definitely my least used character and really only used him when I had to or to get his weapon abilities.

Story - Picking up from Remake we jump straight into playing as Zack for a short section which was a pleasent surprise as I expected the Nibelheim flashback from the demo to be the opening segment and honestly just the fact that Zack was playable at all brought a giddy smile to my face. Though after this we don't see anymore of Zack and his world for a very long time in-game but once you do it picks up and appears more frequently but not so much it keeps interupting the main plot. These Zack portions of course are brand new and not present in the original game and because of that these were the most intriguing, especially the more we get to the endgame.

But jumping back to the main plot we get the Nibelheim flashback which is a great section and from there we cover all the way up until the end of Disc 1 of the original. This covers Kalm, the Mythril Mines, Junon, Costa del Sol, Corel, the Golden Saucer (and below), Gongaga, Cosmo Canyon, Nibelheim, the Temple of the Ancients and the Forgotten Capital. Areas the game doesn't include which you could access during this section in the original are Fort Condor, Bone Village, Rocket Town and Wutai but it's very clear these are being saved until Part 3 so it doesn't take away for me personally as I know they'll do them justice.

Some notable new additions to the story though start with Gongaga which has been very much fleshed out. This includes the appearance of the Crisis Core character Cissnei which was nice to see her again and adding new story events to the reactor in that area which ends with Tifa entering the lifestream which was a very interesting scene. The majority of the new additions though happen with during the final few chapters, which involves a lot of Zack related stuff, the multiverse and the infamous Aerith death scene. At first I was quite lost on what the hell was going on but after looking back and re-watching the scenes multiple times I have a much better idea now but there is still a lot left which we don't have answers for. I know the ending has been very divisive and I can see why but personally I still liked it a lot and am intrigued by the direction they are going in. It still left me in tears so the impact of the original was still there, much more so with how much more development and time we've got to spend with the characters, Aerith especially, she is so precious. I also think whatever happens in Part 3 will likely change how this ending is viewed, for better or worse so only time will tell.

Characters - As an extension of the story the characters are all great for the most part, I don't have many complaints. Their interactions and friendships with each other is part of the driving force of why I love this game so much, whatever they do together is a joy to see. As mentioned above Aerith is my highlight of the remake series but Barrett is easily a close second to me. All the characters from Remake and Intergrade continue to be fantastic though but those two always stand out.

With the characters introduced with Rebirth though we start with the two-faced Scottish robo-cat, Cait Sith. Though he is charming you always know he's hiding something but they have definitely toned him down from being as much of an ass as he was in the original (and that won't be the last time this happens with a character). Due to him appearing a bit later in the game and not really being present for side quests he doesn't get as much time to develop and bond with compared to the others but again once we have Part 3 we'll get to know him more but so far I like what we have.

Next is Cid, the most divisive character so far, now I definitely don't dislike him and we haven't seen much of his story at all due to no Rocket Town yet so I'll wait until Part 3 before any decisive feelings but he is definitley much different than before as in the original he was a bastard to put it bluntly, in Rebirth he is a much more nicer of a person and is unfortately missing his iconic cigarette (I'm no smoker and it's unhealthy I know but it's iconic here).

Now we have the man who just oozes edgy and cool, Vincent Valentine. Meeting him in his iconic coffin in the Shinra Mansion as always, you can't not love him. What really surprised me is the boss fight against him, one of the best additions to Rebirth and I can not wait to see how that comes into play when he is playable in Part 3. Like with Cid he doesn't have a lot of screentime in Rebirth but he definitely got more to do than Cid, even being a part of the Queen's Blood storyline which was fun. Now he is integrated into the main story unlike the original where he was optional I can't wait to see how his story will be expanded upon in the future, especially with how much love the other optional character of the original, Yuffie, got in Intergrade and Rebirth. And with Intergrade already introducing Deepground which was the focus of Dirge of Cerberus (Vincent's game) I fully expect for him to be involved with that in some way, maybe even adapting the events of DoC somewhat, despite Rebirth taking place a few years before DoC, though I don't think many people would mind if that game got retconned. I'd also take a DoC remake in the future and making it an actual good game.

World - The World of Rebirth is beautiful, so many iconic areas have been remade and expanded upon lovingly. The game is split up into regions which are open world areas with a huge number of things to do in each. Outside of the main story quests all the side content in these areas help fill out the World Intel which Chadley requests of you and due to how much I loved this game I did absolutely everything I could to max out the world Intel and got to explore every nook and cranny of this world. The side quests as well are all fantastic, you may get the odd one which isn't anything special but the majority add so much to the world and characters. I was surprised as to some of the stuff you'd only find out by doing these side quests as they're really notable to the world and story which makes these even better, you're getting worthwhile lore and the like out of these.

My most surprising part of this game though was once you leave Nibelheim in the Tiny Bronco you get the scene where it crashes and turns in a boat, you find out the game is actually fully open world and you can travel across the entire ocean to anywhere on the map, a true world map like the original. Playing it I knew some regions were connected such as the Grasslands and Junon and Corel and Gongaga but the fact you can seamlessly travel between them all was outstanding and makes me very excited for Part 3 when we get the rest of the world and the Highwind.

Music - OMG the music is this game is a masterpiece, the amount of the music in this game is crazy, from the new renditions of tracks you'd expect to new pieces and then pieces which were made for the smallest of sections, they didn't slack at all. Some of my favourite tracks would have to be the beach area of Corel with the ziplines, Kalm, the trip up Mt. Corel, Gongaga, the renditions of The Price of Freedom and the main theme of this game which Aerith sings during the Loveless performance.

Queen's Blood - I briefly mentioned this earlier but one of the major side quests in this game is the new card game introduced in Rebirth, Queen's Blood. What Queen's Blood is, is thar you have a board (somewhat like a chess board) which has three rows and with your cards you need to get the most points on the rows to win. A simple concept which as you get further into it the more layers which are added. Now when I was first saw this I kind of dreaded it as I always struggle to learn new card games and seeing that this was going to be a quest line and knowing I'd want to do everything in this game before I got it, I was ready for a slog but once I picked it up, I fell in love with it and is basically an entire second game within this already massive game. I'd easily take a standalone title of this in the future, it's very addicting and did almost every match in the game (apart from the last optional game in the Golden Saucer, I can't beat it 😅). Definitely another highlight of this game and the plot was pretty cool as well surrounding it.

Mini-Games - This is partly what I meant when I said this game feels like a game. So many of these just seem like silly things other games would see as a waste to include and though they aren't all great (some are very frustrating when going for the high rank scores) a lot were actually really solid and kept things interesting, changing things up keeping the game constantly fresh. And there is a lot of mini-games which I know not everyone will enjoy but I just love that you can see the developers had a lot of fun coming up with some of these and intrigued as to what they'll cook up for Part 3 (the Golden Saucer is already teasing the snowboarding).

Overall Thoughts - I know there is a lot I still I didn't touch on but I think I coverered all the main points and if there is anything to take away from this, is that there you'll get a lot of game for your buck with this title, one of the most content rich games on the market which is for the most part all fun to do (at least I think so).

I loved this game though from start to finish and I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. Part 3 can't come soon enough. This is easily in my top three games of all time now.

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide (DLC) (PS5)

FF fans are eating good these days, finished Rebirth not long ago and now we're back with new FF16 content.

It was great to jump back into the world of FF16 and this was a solid DLC.

There may be story spoilers ahead.

Taking place in the land of Mysidia we finally get to see blue sky again and battle the Eikon Levithan.

Before getting onto Leviathan, the smaller bosses of this DLC were some really fun fights with some interesting ways of going about them. If I was to describe it you can feel the FF14 seeping into 16 which makes for some cool fights. Now with Leviathan this was a pretty fun fight, it doesn't reach the heights of Titan or Bahamut but a solid fight overall though the DPS check on the shield was very tight, I failed like five times before breaking it and even then it was a very close call, I guess that took some of the momentum away from the fight. Still though I'm glad we got the Leviathan fight we'd all hoped for.

For the new abilites, Leviathan's Eikon abilities are pretty sweet with one of the abilites turning the game into a third-person shooter of sorts for a short period in battle. I need to spend more time with these but some solid abilities.

Once you finish the DLC and return to the Hideaway, if you interact with the giant stone you unlock another set of abilities, those being Ultima's, now I've only used them in the tutorial provided but these feel pretty broken in a fun way (thus being locked behind endgame DLC) but will be interesting to see how they function during a playthrough. I'll do a FF Mode playthrough someday.

The land of Mysidia is beautiful btw but I think I've been spoiled by Rebirth with how much more explorable that game is compared to 16 as I just want to explore every nook and cranny of Mysidia.

Story wise, it had some pretty interesting new lore which was appreciated but is quite standalone as well (like the first DLC) which is probably a good thing and the intention not to take away from the main story or make it feel like the main story is missing an important element without the DLC so no complaints on that front.

But overall this was a nice extra story and was great to visit the world of FF16 and spend time with Clive and the others. FF16 has been a great time and loved nearly every moment of it.

I've been typing for so long, look at the time 😅 woops. I guess I really did have a lot to say, even if it can be all over the place. I'm no game reviewer 😂 but I'm passionate about what I love, props to anyone who reads through it all.

Note: I'll fix the typos soon enough.
 
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Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth. As someone who has been a fan since the original PS2 Yakuza/Like A Dragon game I've loved every second of this. It feels like a love letter to the entire saga so far. It's probably a bit more accessible than your standard turn based JRPG to boot. Plus the amount of stuff to do in it is insane. I'm about 50 hours in and there's still things I haven't dipped my toes into. I get so side-tracked doing certain things that I kind of forget certain types of side content haven't been touched in hours and then go back to them only to get sucked into those. It's not the best game to start with story-wise though as the story heavily references and wraps up events from Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, Like A Dragon: Yakuza and Like A Dragon Gaiden: The man who erased his name. Glad I avoided spoilers for this one as I'd have been gutted if I found out anything about the story ahead of playing. Have invested so much time into these characters over the years they almost feel real :)
 
There is a twitter thread here showing what I mean about the localisation of Eiyuden Chronicles:


Whilst I understand that localisation does need to change things as a direct/literal translation may not carry across well, they've completely changed the meaning of some of those lines vs their more direct translations.

If I was the studio who made this game, I would be incredibly annoyed right now, they've warped the original intent and attempted to re-write parts of the story for their own agenda, it's ultimately disrespecting the works the original writers put into it.
 
I’ve been playing Bayonetta 3 and am reminded why I put it off for a while as I suck at landing combos - not a fan of the non-Bayonetta sections either but I’ll see this through as I’m halfway done.

Luckily it's not that long so you can sort of power through it, I was just playing on normal. I didn't really bother with finding all of the verses or side bits though.

Watch this when you're done, I found it pretty hilarious after just experiencing exactly what they were talking about! Spoiler tag as it contains spoilers:

 
Ratchet & Clank (2016) (PS4)

This was a really solid, fun game. This is actually the first time I've beaten a R&C game. When I was a kid I did play the original trilogy but I never beat them though playing through this it seemed I at least got half-way through the first game as I surprisingly remembered a lot from it.

I do know though that this game is an adaptation of the animated movie that came out at the time with a lot of the cut-scenes being clips from the movie itself. I haven't seen the movie and as mentioned I haven't beaten the original on PS2 so I'm not sure how faithful it is to the original.

I have played a bit of Rift Apart over at a friend's prior to me getting a PS5 and really enjoyed that so I'll have to pick that up soon enough. It is a shame the rest of the series isn't available on modern systems (I don't count cloud streaming as a viable option) but I still have my PS3 so I can play them at least whenever I want to get them.

But would definitely recommend the 2016 game if you want a short 3D platformer or relive the original with modern graphics and the like.
 
Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster
I've always been quite dismissive of FFV. Between its okay story, its okay characters and a one-dimensional villain who pretty much just says "Mwahaha!!" a lot, it doesn't measure up to IV or VI. I think the real killing blow when I played through the PS1 port 20+ years ago was how grindy it is compared to those games. IV and VI require some serious grinding before facing the final dungeon, but V calls for it earlier and more frequently. All those elements combined are why I've never got more than 5-10 hours into it during the handful of times I've revisited the PS1 version over the years.

Thankfully, the pixel remaster saves the day in the same way it has for all the early FF games, due to its experience-boosting option that takes the grind out of it. Stripped of that aggravation, I was able to start appreciating FFV's good side. Levelling job classes quicker makes it more fun to experiment with different party builds. The characters may not be as compelling or memorable as those in IV or VI, but V might be the funniest Final Fantasy game. The sprite animation brims with personality and goofy, slapstick humour, and quirky secondary antagonist Gilgamesh is far more entertaining than his "Mwahaha!!"-spewing boss Exdeath. It also benefits from the music receiving the same lush orchestral treatment as the other pixel remasters, bringing out the potential of Uematsu's original MIDI arrangements.

The pixel remaster has turned V from a borderline-skippable entry to one that I'm likely to revisit.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered
We desperately need some industry standard on when the term remaster is used. The PS5 version of TLOU2 isn't a remaster, it's a port, plain and simple. Digital Foundry's analysis found no changes other than extended draw distance for foliage and faster load times.

So is the PS5 port a waste of the £10 upgrade cost for owners of the PS4 version? That depends entirely on how you feel about No Return, the new roguelike mode. If you only like TLOU for the story and worldbuilding, don't bother with the upgrade. But if you enjoy it as one of the best stealth/cover shooters out there, it's definitely worth buying.

I appreciated that the original version of TLOU2 included a mode for revisiting the combat encounters separately, since sometimes I just want the gameplay, not the misery. I was always reluctant to play it that way though, in case I got burnt out on the campaign's combat encounters. No Return avoids that problem by remixing the encounters in arenas cut down from existing game locations, adding various objectives and gameplay modifiers, and having a large roster of unlockable characters with different initial loadouts and abilities. Combined with the improved loading times, it makes for a near seamless flow back and forth between combat and upgrading your character back at base.

I've clocked about 10 hours in No Return mode so far, so that alone has made it worth the upgrade.
 
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Recently I’ve been playing Terra Memoria, a game that I only discovered by pure chance and took a big risk in blind buying it because it looked like the game I was wanting to play and I feel that this one really deserves more attention because it’s actually pretty good, it plays like a JRPG if all the tedium and most of the grinding was removed, the combat system is pretty intuitive and the game features some exceptional soundtrack; I also love that it doesn’t force a main character on you and instead lets you pick any of the six characters to play as at any time, provided the character you want is unlocked, which doesn’t take too long overall; with that said, the game isn’t perfect, the game could do with more polish, in my playthrough, I got stuck a couple of times, though the game is aware of this and offers a safety teleport option so it’s not a massive issue but it’s still worth pointing out, despite this, I really liked this game, the good outweighs the bad and I really feel that it deserves more recognition as I wouldn’t have known about it if not for me discovering it.

Discovering Terra Memoria was like digging for gold and finding a good hidden gem instead, it would have been perfect for keeping me occupied until Eiyuden Chronicle releases but I beat the game in just over a day so now I play the waiting game, oh, what’s that? it’s out now, it has a botched localisation and isn’t all that good? oh boy I can’t wait!!!

Whilst I understand that localisation does need to change things as a direct/literal translation may not carry across well, they've completely changed the meaning of some of those lines vs their more direct translations.

If I was the studio who made this game, I would be incredibly annoyed right now, they've warped the original intent and attempted to re-write parts of the story for their own agenda, it's ultimately disrespecting the works the original writers put into it.
What annoys me about this more than anything is that the localisers picked a crowdfunded game to use as their platform, not only is it disrespectful to the original work but it also disregards the backers who funded the project in the first place, if the localisation team have a message of their own, there are plenty of other ways to get it out there that doesn’t involve piggybacking off of a project that, by the looks of things, has very little to do with said message in the first place.
 
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What annoys me about this more than anything is that the localisers picked a crowdfunded game to use as their platform, not only is it disrespectful to the original work but it also disregards the backers who funded the project in the first place, if the localisation team have a message of their own, there are plenty of other ways to get it out there that doesn’t involve piggybacking off of a project that, by the looks of things, has very little to do with said message in the first place.

100% this, it's a shame as I thought it looked interesting, it had other issue (to me) outside of the localisation quality, but it was the icing on the cake.

Still looking forward to my next decent JRPG experience!
 
Played through Resident Evil 2 (PS4) over the weekend. That was an excellent time. As someone who is bad with horror they managed to make something spooky without being overwhelming due to the charmingly comedy. And as someone who is really terrible at shooters, the lumbering zombies are cleverly slow enough that taking aim isn't too daunting, but fast enough that it encourages panic. And overall the game is short and sweet. They made something designed to be played through multiple times by ensuring nothing overstays its welcome too much. You can explore most of the rooms, solve most of the puzzles, get most of the items and get to the ending in less than 8 hours on the first try. I will definitely go back to complete Claire's story at some point and also try Resident Evil 3 someday.

Next is the HD-Remaster of Final Fantasy X-2. A direct sequel to the original Final Fantasy X that is so wildly different I'm amazed they got away with it. Final Fantasy X is a liner, tightly-structured story about 7 people on a journey. It has an underlying melancholy throughout and mechanically it's refined yet formulaic turn-based combat system featured many design innovations that are still being used to this day in Digimon Story series and the Trails of Cold Steel games. X-2 is a mission-based, open-ended game that fully embraces a pop music style for its 3 characters. With a frantic active battle system featuring mid-battle class-swapping, which has seemingly been abandoned after Final Fantasy 13 (which I have not played).

X-2 is instantly overwhelming. There is so much customisation and freedom for how to build out your characters and where to go, especially with the HD collections added game modes. I have not progressed the main story in 5 hours and have instead stumbled on side-quests and new abilities that present new possibilities and ways to play. The battles so far having been a lot of fun and because classes are so specialised you get some very powerful skills that can have appropriate downsides because you will have to give up something major. Songstress has status effects that can temporarily decimate enemies but it has no attacks. So if you are using it to counter powerful magic attacks you have to keep the pressure on with the other 2 characters who might struggle or run out of MP fast. You also master new skills independent of level and during fights, which is another interesting choice. Really looking forward to playing more soon.
 
I am a couple of days late on this but I did manage to play a few more during the month of April. Work got in the way so I took a break for the latter half of the month and this past week.



#07 - Puppeteer (PlayStation 3)
Acquired: August 2019

I wanted to check out a shorter game but also one that was available on the PlayStation 3 so I went with Japan Studio's Puppeteer which was released during the final years of the cycle, literally just before the PlayStation 4 launched. I first remember this game from when MetalJesusRocks recommended it in his hidden gems video and was also a lucky find in CeX in town years back, but it took until this year to finally give it a shot and it's a very entertaining experience.

Puppeteer is presented like you're watching a theatre experience, with crowd laughter and a narrator throughout. Our character has lost his head but can use objects to replace his own to ensure his survival and the game uses this setup a lot in a classic platformer style, so if you lose your head you have time to retrieve it otherwise you lose health (the more heads you have kept during the stage, the better your chances of success). Alongside your health are your attacks which are done using scissors which is a pretty cool feature in the gameplay, as he can travel on parts of the stage pretty fast or unlock secret items and stages.

There are a total of three stages per act and each one caught me off guard with its presentation, because I did not anticipate the level design to go into this direction especially given the first act is like a traditional fantasy. I am not going to spoil what each act focuses on because it was a very enjoyable surprise to find and my favourite are the few that are in the middle of the story campaign especially with how it uses the scissors to progress and quick time events.

The game features tons of collectibles if you wish to go for a completion route, and there are secrets tied to what head you have equipped. There is the classic difficulty you will encounter here but there's plenty of lives that you will stock to keep going. Also to mention, there is PlayStation Move support but I don't have the accessory to make use of it.

Overall Puppeteer is a proper hidden gem for the PlayStation 3 and a great way to close off that generation. It is a shame that it wasn't remastered for PlayStation 4. My playtime was roughly 6-7 hours I reckon which was done in a couple of sittings.



#08 - Stranglehold (PlayStation 3)
Acquired: June 2023

While also playing Puppeteer I also started playing Stranglehold by director John Woo with Chow Yun-fat in the leading role. This is technically a continuation to the Hard Boiled film but I haven't seen it prior and you can jump into this game without knowing anything about that.

Its a classic third person shooter with slow motion style gameplay and it's pretty decent. As I played the PS3 version, it is technically the worst version to play this game but honestly the performance in general was decent. There was a bug that I encountered when I unlocked Precision Aim and used it for the first time, the SFX started having a seizure effect and kept going nuts, like the bass boost meme multiplied by eleven. Apparently this is a common issue for specific games based on how they were developed for the PlayStation 3 and there was never a patch to address this. Thankfully it didn't occur repeatedly though it was worrying.

There are a couple of levels throughout and many of them are fairly long, but there's a lot of engaging fights throughout with different weapons available. I did think the second level felt out of place compared to the others, but I did like the ideas throughout the game like using a suitcase to store ammo during specific portions where you are stuck in a specific area until a number of enemies were defeated.

I did struggle with the boss fights due to the high amount of damage that they can do to you so there were a lot of trial and errors throughout, but at least checkpoints were there for some parts like the final boss fight and the section where you had to dodge a number of instakil lasers.

John Woo presents Stranglehold aka Hard Boiled II: Tequila Time is overall a pretty solid third person shooter that obviously borrows the Max Payne style of combat. Surprisingly challenging at parts but a short and entertaining experience. Sleeping Dogs is the better game if I had to pick and choose a Hong Kong action cop style adventure though. The PS3 version is better than I had expected given its technically the worst performing one but I've had no major issues on its performances as 30fps range is expected with this generation. This game came out before PlayStation trophies were introduced so I didn't have to worry about the idea of dealing with that.



#09 - Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PlayStation 4)
Acquired: June 2021

FEEEBOOSSSS LUUUUDAAASEEHHHHH

After finishing Final Fantasy VII Rebirth I was in the mood to play another game in the franchise. I was initially going to start Dissidia Final Fantasy NT because why not, but I figured I may get spoiled on some bits since its basically protagonist vs antagonist for each game, and therefore I changed my plans and went with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered because not only is this a mainline instalment in the franchise that I had yet to play, it's also one that I know very little about outside of the game's opening music Liberi Fatali and characters Squall, Seifer and Selphie appearing in the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

What made me look forward to playing Final Fantasy VIII is that it's one of the traditional RPG games in the franchise and I wanted a classic JRPG style combat that recaptured the same feeling I had with Final Fantasy VII classic and Final Fantasy X. And let me tell you this - Final Fantasy VIII had the biggest whiplash of gameplay that I ever had for the genre, and if you are not made aware of how the game's mechanics work you are going to experience a whole level of suffering.

So what do I mean by all of this? For some strange reason in the minds of Squaresoft back in the day, they had decided to modify the mechanics so that whenever you level up a character, you also increase the difficulty of the game. That's right, the concept of levelling up to get stronger in this game basically translates to wanting to fight the battles on the hardest difficulty. Levelling up in this game is a death sentence.

To counter the levelling up problem it's best to talk about this game's main system called the Junction, which is still liked by a lot of people to this date as it's unique to this game. Junction is this game's take on the Materia idea that Final Fantasy VII had, where you can customise each character's abilities with various magic spells and add-ons. This system is rather complicated at first and while the game does its best to explain everything, it was rather overwhelming to understand. I literally had to watch a YouTube video to learn more about the mechanics. Now I did understand the premise beforehand, but the game's tutorials showed off aspects that you wouldn't technically have access to immediately which made it rather confusing to start with. Basically a YouTube video with more context provided more sense to me on how it all works.

To explain it from my perspective, here's what it is. Junction has a few things involved in the system that make the experience come together and they are the Draw command, the Guardian Forces and also the preparations on setting up your characters. The Draw command is what you can use during combat, and it somewhat replaces the MP system in a way, where you can take magic spells from your enemies and not only keep them but also use it against them if needed. This can be Fire, Dispel, Meteor and many more. You can keep up to 100 amounts of each spell and the more stocked you are, the better for both combat and your prep on each character. These spells are key to "levelling" your health, strength and defences.

But in order to level up your stats correctly, you need a Guardian Force which is this game's equivalent to summons. There's over a dozen of them in the game, many of which you will have to find yourselves through the use of the Draw command against specific boss battles and other ways during side content. Guardian Forces are there to provide you access to stats for your character but also skills, which can range from adding a good percentage of additional Strength or Health (and many others) to your character, and also abilities to convert items into other spells. The more GF you have and the right combination slotted to each character, the better equipped your team is during the latter portions of the game. You can also pass the GF and magic between each character which is great for customisation and balancing during specific portions of the game, as you will have to switch characters a lot (and you can use the Switch command to make it easier to transfer at ease).

With Drawing magic and adding Guardian Forces to your character, the next step to levelling is prep. You want to make use of the spells you draw, especially at a maximum amount of 100 (like for instance 100 Curagas, 100 Regens, 100 Meteor, 100 Full-Life etc), to improve your character's skills. The skill slots available are HP, Strength, Vitality, Magic, Spirit as well as Speed, Evasion, Hit and Luck. There's also Elemental and Strength/Defence abilities available to help reduce damage against elemental and buffer attacks and use against enemies in combat. There are guides available online to pick and choose which spell you want to slot to each type and when you do it correctly, you can be overpowered and have high level of health very early on in the game.

Also included with the command list, is Card. Card is the key to surviving enemy encounters without levelling your character too much. It basically captures your enemy and turns them into a card that you can use in a rather addictive mini-game called Triple Triad which I wouldn't say is the same as Final Fantasy VII Rebirth's Queen's Blood but it is one that you do wish was available as a standalone game in a way. Now the difference between Queen's Blood and Triple Triad are the game rules that are not only often randomised but losing a game can mean you lose one or more of your cards (compared to the former where losing doesn't punish you in that regard).

Triple Triad is presented on a 3 x 3 grid, and the way it works is there are four numbers on each of your cards, one to represent each corner (top, down, left, right). If your card has 9 for the left side of your card, and the enemy has anything below 9 on the right side of their card, the colour of their card will become yours and adds a point to your score. The goal of Triple Triad is to secure the most points. If the card's number is identical to theirs when you or the opponent places it down, no points are given. Triple Triad is optional but you can take advantage of this mini-game by securing so many cards that can be converted into items and magic using a Guardian Force's Card Mod ability. This ability is key to overpowering your team throughout the journey.

During combat you will be provided with both EXP and AP. EXP goes to levelling up your character (and also making the game harder) while AP goes to your Guardian Force to unlock more abilities and stats. You can choose which skill your GF should learn which is great. Using the Card command will not provide you with EXP but will still offer AP. Boss battles will also not give you any EXP so you don't have to worry about those.

Now I have spent way too much explaining this whole mechanic and whatnot, but it just goes to show how complicated the developers have made Final Fantasy VIII and it's also why its such a unique instalment because it's never been used ever again. To my knowledge Final Fantasy IX went back to basics with the HP, MP and AP system. Chances are the mixed reception of this game is why they reverted back for the next instalment especially given Final Fantasy VII was their biggest hit and they probably didn't want to risk the momentum. Final Fantasy VIII still did well in terms of reviews and sales, but it's not as universally liked compared to its predecessor.

And the same can be said with its characters and storyline because it's a strange one to say the least. The story can basically be summarised by an introverted Squall meeting a female rebel called Rinoa who he slowly starts to open up to whilst also dealing with his rival Seifer and a sorceress named Edea who wants to dominate the world. The story is not really memorable in a way and it feels like they threw in ideas from time to time but I suppose its all about the journey. That said, the game gets pretty wild with its direction but I'm not going to spoil any of that, though I will say the final act has some great ideas and visually stunning graphics.

Speaking of the graphics, the game does a really awesome job with its CG cutscenes and transitions between CG animation and character models because it blends really well. I know its jarring on the Remastered version because the CG hasn't been remastered properly but I can definitely see this revolutionising the gaming industry back in the way and wowing a lot of players. The character models do look pretty good with this remaster too. The music is also very well done with Liberi Fatali and The Man with the Machine Gun both being iconic tunes that have been included in various music events and video games.

In terms of my playtime, I spent 3 hours in my initial playthrough before restarting from scratch because I underestimated the difficulty that was going to be in the way. I then spent an additional 3 hours getting prepped by using the Triple Triad mini-game to secure cards that I would convert into high amounts of magic and allowing me to upgrade my characters to strong stats. Then the rest of the game, with the support of 3x speed and turning off random encounters, took me 31 hours in total from start to finish with some extra spell grinding here and there. I was able to secure most of the Guardian Force with a few that I passed on due to high difficulty or missed opportunities.

Final Fantasy VIII is an experience that I won't forget. While it's definitely not my favourite in the franchise, I do admire Squaresoft for experimenting with this concept and its got some highs and lows throughout. Though I will say I did have to use a guide for specific parts to know that I wasn't screwing myself over due to the artificial difficulty and Junction concepts but it's not a bad game at all. I do recommend people give this game a try, especially if you love a challenge for a JRPG that isn't your usual leveling up to get stronger approach. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is available to play on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC with a physical version available for PS4 in Europe and Nintendo Switch in both Europe & Asia bundled with Final Fantasy VII classic.

And to just reiterate - Liberi Fatali goes way harder than it should for an opening tune and I actually prefer it over One-Winged Angel.




My backlog so far:
#​
PC/Steam Backlog - Game Name:​
Genre:
1​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the SkyTurn-Based RPG
2​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SCTurn-Based RPG
#​
PlayStation 3 Backlog - Game Name:​
Genre:
1​
3D Dot Game HeroesAction RPG
2​
Bleach: Soul ResurrecciónFighting
3​
Castlevania: Lords of ShadowAction, Hack n Slash
4​
CatherinePuzzle
5​
Drakengard 3Action RPG
6​
Eternal SonataTurn-Based RPG
7​
FolkloreAction RPG
8​
Gran Turismo 5 Academy EditionRacing
9​
inFAMOUSAction
10​
inFAMOUS 2Action
11​
Katamari ForeverPuzzle
12​
Prince of PersiaAction, Platformer
13​
SEGA RallyRacing
14​
Sly Cooper: Thieves in TimeAction, Platformer
15​
Split/Second: VelocityRacing
16​
Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the OverlordTactical RPG, Visual Novel
17​
Way of the Samurai 4Action
#​
PlayStation 4 Backlog - Game Name:Genre:
1​
13 Sentinels: Aegis RimTactical RPG, Visual Novel
2​
AI: The Somnium FilesAdventure, Visual Novel
3​
Black Clover: Quartet KnightsAction, Fighting
4​
Bullet Girls PhantasiaAction, Shooter
5​
Burnout Paradise RemasteredRacing
6​
The Caligula Effect: OverdoseTurn-Based RPG
7​
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New ChampionsSports
8​
Catherine Full BodyPuzzle
9​
Chaos;ChildVisual Novel
10​
Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve StarsTurn-Based RPG
11​
CRYSTARAction RPG
12​
Cyberdimension Neptunia: Four Goddesses OnlineAction RPG
13​
Danganronpa 1 ReloadVisual Novel
14​
Danganronpa 2 ReloadVisual Novel
15​
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair GirlsAction, Shooter
16​
Danganronpa V3: Killing HarmonyVisual Novel
17​
Date A Live: Rinne Utopia (Rio-Reincarnation)Visual Novel, Dating Sim
18​
Date A Live II: Ars Install (Rio-Reincarnation)Visual Novel, Dating Sim
19​
Date A Live III: Twin Edition: Rio ReincarnationVisual Novel, Dating Sim
20​
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's MemoryTurn-Based RPG
21​
Disaster Report 4: Summer MemoriesAdventure, Simulation
22​
Dissidia Final Fantasy NTArcade, Fighting
23​
Dragon Quest Heroes IIAction RPG, Musou
24​
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive EditionTurn-Based RPG
25​
Dragon's Crown ProAction RPG
26​
Dragon's Dogma: Dark ArisenAction RPG
27​
Fairy TailTurn-Based RPG
28​
Fate/Extella LinkMusou
29​
Final Fantasy IXTurn-Based RPG
30​
Full Metal Panic! Fight! Who Dares WinTactical RPG
31​
Gal*Gun 2On-Rails Shooter
32​
Gintama RumbleAction, Musou
33​
GOD EATER 3Action Hunter RPG
34​
Gravity Rush 2Action, Platformer
35​
The Great Ace Attorney: AdventuresVisual Novel
36​
The Great Ace Attorney 2: ResolveVisual Novel
37​
Gundam Breaker 3 BREAK EDITIONAction, Arcade
38​
The Hong Kong MassacreTop-Down Shooter
39​
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Infinite CombateAction RPG
40​
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of HeavenFighting
41​
Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of FujisawaPuzzle, Visual Novel
42​
LangrisserTactical RPG
43​
Langrisser IITactical RPG
44​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold SteelTurn-Based RPG
45​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IITurn-Based RPG
46​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IIITurn-Based RPG
47​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IVTurn-Based RPG
48​
Legend of ManaAction RPG
49​
Megadimension Neptunia VIITurn-Based RPG
50​
Megadimension Neptunia VIIRTurn-Based RPG
51​
MELTY BLOOD: TYPE LUMINAFighting
52​
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja StormAction, Fighting
53​
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2Action, Fighting
54​
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3Action, Fighting
55​
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: Road to BorutoAction, Fighting
56​
NEO: The World Ends With YouAction RPG
57​
Neptunia Virtual StarsAction
58​
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja WarsAction
59​
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch RemasteredTurn-Based RPG
60​
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant KingdomAction RPG
61​
Nights of AzureAction RPG
62​
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New MoonAction RPG
63​
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4Action, Musou
64​
One Piece: Unlimited World RedAction
65​
One Piece: World SeekerAction
66​
Our World Is EndedVisual Novel
67​
Persona 5 RoyalTurn-Based RPG
68​
Persona 5 StrikersAction RPG, Musou
69​
Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyVisual Novel
70​
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for AllVisual Novel
71​
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and TribulationsVisual Novel
72​
Punch LineVisual Novel
73​
Raging LoopVisual Novel
74​
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-: Prophecy of the ThroneVisual Novel
75​
Robotics;Notes DaSHVisual Novel
76​
Robotics;Notes ELITEVisual Novel
77​
RUINERAction, Shooter
78​
SD Gundam G Generation Cross RaysTactical RPG
79​
SD Gundam G Generation GenesisTactical RPG
80​
Secret of ManaAction RPG
81​
Sengoku Basara 4: SumeragiMusou
82​
Senran Kagura Burst Re:NewalAction
83​
Shadow of the ColossusPlatformer
84​
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD RemasterTurn-Based RPG
85​
Star Ocean: First Departure RAction RPG
86​
Star Ocean: The Last Hope HD RemasterAction RPG
87​
Steins;Gate EliteVisual Novel
88​
Super Neptunia RPGTurn-Based RPG
89​
Super Robot Wars 30Tactical RPG
90​
Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon DwellersTactical RPG
91​
Super Robot Wars TTactical RPG
92​
Super Robot Wars XTactical RPG
93​
Sword Art Online: Fatal BulletAction RPG
94​
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Sessions!Music, Rhythm
95​
Tales of BerseriaAction RPG
96​
Tales of VesperiaAction RPG
97​
Theatrhythm Final Bar LineMusic, Rhythm
98​
Tokyo Xanadu eX+Action RPG
99​
Trials of ManaAction RPG
100​
Utawarerumono: Mask of DeceptionTactical RPG, Visual Novel
101​
Utawarerumono: Mask of TruthTactical RPG, Visual Novel
102​
Utawarerumono: Prelude to the FallenTactical RPG, Visual Novel
103​
Utawarerumono: ZanAction, Musou
104​
Valkyria Chronicles 4Tactical RPG
105​
Valkyria RevolutionAction RPG
106​
WipEout Omega CollectionRacing
107​
The Witch and the Hundred Knight Revival EditionAction RPG
108​
WORLDEND SYNDROMEVisual Novel
109​
Yakuza 3 RemasteredAction, Beat em up
110​
Yakuza 4 RemasteredAction, Beat em up
111​
Yakuza 5 RemasteredAction, Beat em up
112​
YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this WorldVisual Novel
#​
PlayStation 5 Backlog - Game Name:Genre:
1​
Alan Wake RemasteredAction, Shooter
2​
CONTROL Ultimate EditionAction, Shooter
3​
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII -Reunion-Action RPG
4​
Cyberpunk 2077Action
5​
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami ChroniclesFighting
6​
The DioField ChronicleTactical RPG
7​
DOOM EternalAction, Shooter
8​
FANTAVISION 202XPuzzle
9​
Fate/Samurai RemnantAction RPG, Musou
10​
ForspokenAction RPG
11​
Ghost of TsushimaAction, Adventure
12​
Ghostwire: TokyoAction, Survival Horror
13​
Granblue Fantasy Re:linkAction RPG
14​
GrimGrimoire OnceMoreReal-Time Strategy RPG
15​
HadesDungeon Crawler
16​
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle RFighting
17​
JudgmentAction, Beat em up
18​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into ReverieTurn-Based RPG
19​
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His NameAction, Beat 'em up
20​
Lost JudgmentAction, Beat em up
21​
Mobile Suit Gundam BATTLE OPERATION Code FairyAction
22​
MONARKTactical RPG
23​
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs ForgottenTurn-Based RPG
24​
Neptunia ReVerseTurn-Based RPG
25​
Neptunia: Sisters vs SistersAction RPG
26​
One Piece: OdysseyTurn-Based RPG
27​
Pac-Man World Re-PacPlatformer
28​
Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit of Wonder LabyrinthMetroidvania RPG
29​
RelayerTactical RPG
30​
SD Gundam Battle AllianceAction RPG
31​
Soul Hackers 2Turn-Based RPG
32​
Star Ocean: The Divine ForceAction RPG
33​
Star Ocean: The Second Story RAction RPG
34​
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy OriginAction Souls RPG
35​
Tactics Ogre RebornTactical RPG
36​
Tales of AriseAction RPG
37​
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2Sports
38​
Unicorn OverlordTactical RPG
39​
Valkyrie ElysiumAction RPG
40​
Yakuza 7: Like a DragonTurn-Based RPG
41​
Ys IX: Monstrum NoxAction RPG
42​
Yurukill: The Calumniation GamesShoot em up, Visual Novel
#​
PlayStation Classics (via PS5) Backlog - Game Name:Genre:
1​
Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the RescuePlatformer
2​
Everybody's Golf 2Sports
3​
GrandiaTurn-Based RPG
4​
Kurushi Final: Mental BlocksPuzzle
5​
The Legend of DragoonTurn-Based RPG
6​
Twisted Metal 2Action, Racing
7​
Valkyrie Profile: LennethTurn-Based RPG
8​
Wild ArmsTurn-Based RPG
9​
Wild Arms 2Turn-Based RPG
#​
PlayStation Vita Backlog - Game Name:Genre:
1​
Bullet GirlsAction, Shooter
2​
Freedom WarsAction
3​
Valkyrie Drive BhikkhuniAction
#​
Nintendo Switch Backlog - Game Name:Genre:
1​
Akai Katana ShinBullet Hell, Shoot 'em up
2​
Avenger (Telenet Shooting Collection)Arcade, Shoot 'em up
3​
Blade Runner: Enhanced EditionAdventure, Point & Click
4​
Castlevania (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
5​
Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
6​
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
7​
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
8​
Castlevania: The Adventure (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
9​
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (Advance Collection)Action, Platform
10​
Castlevania: Bloodlines (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
11​
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Advance Collection)Action, Platform
12​
Castlevania: Dracula X (Advance Collection)Action, Platform
13​
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Advance Collection)Action, Platform
14​
Contra (Anniversary Collection)Side-scrolling Shooter
15​
Contra Hard Corps (Anniversary Collection)Side-scrolling Shooter
16​
Contra III: The Alien Wars (Anniversary Collection)Side-scrolling Shooter
17​
Cursed to GolfSports, Platformer
18​
Cytus AlphaMusic, Rhythm
19​
DeathsmilesBullet Hell, Shoot 'em up
20​
Deathsmiles IIBullet Hell, Shoot 'em up
21​
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical FreezeAction, Platform
22​
Final FantasyTurn-Based RPG
23​
Final Fantasy Adventure (Collection of Mana)Action RPG
24​
Final Fantasy IITurn-Based RPG
25​
Final Fantasy IIITurn-Based RPG
26​
Final Fantasy IVTurn-Based RPG
27​
Final Fantasy VTurn-Based RPG
28​
Final Fantasy VITurn-Based RPG
29​
Fire Emblem: EngageTactical RPG
30​
Fire Emblem: Three HousesTactical RPG
31​
Gaiares (Telenet Shooting Collection)Arcade, Shoot 'em up
32​
Granada (Telenet Shooting Collection)Arcade, Shoot 'em up
33​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from ZeroTurn-Based RPG
34​
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to AzureTurn-Based RPG
35​
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless TrailsAction RPG
36​
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildAction RPG
37​
The Legend of Zelda: Link's AwakeningAction RPG
38​
Live A LiveTactical RPG
39​
Mario Kart 8 DeluxeRacing
40​
Metroid DreadMetroidvania
41​
Metroid Prime RemasteredAction, Shooter
42​
MUSYNXMusic, Rhythm
43​
New Super Mario Bros U DeluxePlatformer
44​
Octopath TravelerTurn-Based RPG
45​
Operation C (Anniversary Collection)Side-scrolling Shooter
46​
Paper Mario: The Origami KingTurn-Based RPG
47​
Powerslave ExhumedAction, Shooter
48​
Psychic Storm (Telenet Shooting Collection)Arcade, Shoot 'em up
49​
Radiant SilvergunBullet Hell, Shoot 'em up
50​
Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little PrincessTurn-Based RPG
51​
Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl KingdomTurn-Based RPG
52​
River City Girls ZeroAction, Beat 'em ups
53​
Secret of Mana (Collection of Mana)Action RPG
54​
Senran Kagura Peach BallPinball
55​
Senran Kagura ReflexionsSimulation
56​
Shadow Man RemasteredAction, Adventure
57​
Super Castlevania IV (Anniversary Collection)Action, Platform
58​
Super Contra (Anniversary Collection)Side-scrolling Shooter
59​
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's FuryAction, Platformer
60​
Super Mario GalaxyAction, Platformer
61​
Super Mario OdysseyAction, Platformer
62​
Super Mario SunshineAction, Platformer
63​
Super Smash Bros. UltimateFighting
64​
Syd of Valis (SD Valis)Action, Platformer
65​
Trials of Mana (Collection of Mana)Action RPG
66​
Valis: The Fantasm SoldierAction, Platformer
67​
Valis IIAction, Platformer
68​
Valis IIIAction, Platformer
69​
Valis IVAction, Platformer
70​
Witch on the Holy NightVisual Novel
71​
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive EditionAction RPG
72​
Xenoblade Chronicles 2Action RPG
73​
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden CountryAction RPG
74​
Yoshi's Crafted WorldAction, Platformer

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The 2024 '40' Games Goal:
No.Game
Console​
Acquired​
Genre
1​
Quake
PS5​
2023​
Action, Shooter
2​
Quake II
PS5​
2023​
Action, Shooter
3​
MushimeSama
Switch​
2023​
Bullet Hell, Shoot 'em up
4​
Nioh 2 Remastered
PS5​
2022​
Action Souls RPG
5​
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
PS5​
2024​
Action RPG
6​
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
PS5​
2024​
Action RPG
7​
Puppeteer
PS3​
2019​
Action, Platformer
8​
Stranglehold
PS3​
2023​
Action, Shooter
9​
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
PS4​
2021​
Turn-Based RPG

FmtJjLOl.png
 
Completed Stellar Blade, I liked this game a lot, the OST and action were great. I'd highly recommend it, and there is a demo if anyone is on the fence. PS5 only.

If I had any complaints it's that the story had quite a few holes in it, and subsequently this holds it back a bit, but for a first run at a proper console game, the studio did a great job.

Late game difficulty spike was also a thing, I don't think it needs toning down too much, but the mid-game bosses could have been made a bit tougher so you had more of a difficulty trajectory.

I'm currently running through Sekiro which is just as good as I remember it being when I played and completed it on the PS4 about 5 years ago. Still my favorite Fromsoft souls type game, a lot of people like Elden Ring but I'm definitely more into Sekiro. Playing this on the PC this time around.

Planning to start Nioh 2 soon, curious to see how this plays. (edit - damnit you can't remap dodge on this game, so I'll need to wait, or I'll be getting confused on which buttons do what).
 
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I fell for the hype and bought Manor Lords yesterday. Definitely still in development, but it's OK so far. Reminds me a lot of Banished.
 
Started playing Animal Well today on Steam. It's a very pretty new pixel art Metroidvainia thingy. I had several online friends who wouldn't shut up about how good it was, so that piqued my interest. I'm enjoying it a lot so far.
 
I've completed my Sekiro run and did two of the endings, good and evil. Great game and my favorite FromSoft title to date including Elden Ring in the sorting hat. Great level design, hard but fair combat, smooth gameplay and the clang of parries really makes every boss fight feel like a dance.

I tried out Nioh 2 but I quit playing it, the normal enemies just seemed to be designed to be as annoying to face as possible, coming from such great game design as Sekiro, Nioh 2 just doesn't shape up. I gave a it a decent shot and got a few bosses in, but the bosses were easier than the random waves of trash on the way to them!

Tried out Surge 1 but combat felt clanky, which isn't that surprising coming from Sekiro and Stellar Blade. I realise I prefer faster paced combat for this type of game though I don't really want a button masher either.

I then completed Nier Replicant, this isn't as good as Nier Automata for sure, but nice OST, and it was on the whole pretty good, even if some areas became repetitive (game suffers from sending you to the same area multiple times). I felt a bit like I was mr. Side Quest at times as well, even the main quests felt like side quests, but eventually it pulls together into something more interesting.

My time in Nier Replicant:


Hellblade 2 comes out 21/05 so is likely my next game, though I'll mess about on the PC release of Ghost of Tsushima in the meantime.

Started playing Animal Well today on Steam. It's a very pretty new pixel art Metroidvainia thingy. I had several online friends who wouldn't shut up about how good it was, so that piqued my interest. I'm enjoying it a lot so far.

I heard good things about this one but don't tend to get on well with platformers, this looks good if you like them though!

After many times of starting and then stopping...I've finally completely Persona 5 Royal. Took me about 100 hours.

It's good but soooooo long!

P3R is about half the length and feels like P4.5 in quality, if you ever wanted something similar but more condensed, I recommend it.
 
Stellar Blade
It's hard to believe this is Shift Up's first big budget game. It's a high quality, polished experience across the board and has launched in a stable and seemingly bug-free state. The story borrows heavily from Nier Automata and telegraphs its twists too much, but the worldbuilding is good and you meet some endearing characters along the way. In some ways this ends up being a more emotional story than Automata, thanks to its less overt weirdness and a fairly satisfying conclusion (depending on which ending you get).

Combat goes toe-to-toe with the best soulslikes and action games in general, with solid fundamentals and an extensive skill tree to unlock. It takes a bit of getting used to though, since it initially seems to offer several defence options, but in practice you need to master parrying and perfect dodging to survive on the challenging normal difficulty. The standard block only absorbs a couple of hits before the slowly recharging shield depletes, while dodging without perfect timing hardly ever gets you out of the way. It's quite a tough game on normal difficulty, but having far more frequent checkpoints makes it a smoother and less frustrating experience than the typical soulslike (it certainly held my attention more than Dark Souls and Bloodborne). I only resorted to dropping the difficulty for the final two bosses. If you want more of a challenge on your first playthrough, since hard mode only unlocks after completing the game once, you can unequip your current outfit to access the hidden (and extremely skimpy) "skin suit" that disables your shield.

Stellar Blade does a good job of mixing up the gameplay to keep things interesting. While mostly a melee action game, there are times when it turns into a survival horror shooter (albeit not a scary one). There's also some platforming and a good fishing minigame (though the latter unlocks weirdly late in the game). Locations reward exploration, with plenty of optional upgrades and snippets of lore to find.

Overall, this is easily my new favourite soulslike, bearing in mind that it's a genre I usually don't like due to the difficulty. It's challenging, but rarely to the point of frustration, and has the option to lower difficulty at any time. I'm looking forward to what Shift Up make next.
 
It's hard to believe this is Shift Up's first big budget game. It's a high quality, polished experience across the board and has launched in a stable and seemingly bug-free state.

Best of all with no mtx either, which is funny as the developers are known from Nikke, which is a gacha game. I respect the fact we get a full game without these in a world where people try and monetise everything.

They've stated the only mtx there may be in the future will be for outfit collaborations, but you won't require them as the game has a good number of free outfits to pick from!
 
Best of all with no mtx either, which is funny as the developers are known from Nikke, which is a gacha game. I respect the fact we get a full game without these in a world where people try and monetise everything.

They've stated the only mtx there may be in the future will be for outfit collaborations, but you won't require them as the game has a good number of free outfits to pick from!
Yes, when you consider the amount that Capcom charge for pallette swaps or one new outfit, the 30+ unique outfits in Stellar Blade offer a good selection. I was a bit disappointed that the Raven suit only unlocks after beating the game though, considering how often Eve was shown wearing it in pre-release trailers.
 
I recently finished Danganronpa and am now finally getting into Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Have cleared all the objectives and side content for chapter 2 and am moving through 3.
 
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