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Messages - azeke

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1
Metroid Prime (Wii, as part of Trilogy)

Super Metroid and Zero Mission at times had wistful, almost mystical atmosphere. Metroid Prime took that atmosphere and remade into 3d, walkable environments.

Game is more of an action-adventure game than FPS, the closest similarity would be Half-Life 1, which also has a lot of platforming and wandering around despite billed as pure linear first-person shooter.

Getting used to controlling game with wiimote and nunchuck took me a while -- and the problem isn't even in aiming. Having shooting on A and jumping on B (trigger) seemed backwards but it makes more sense once you start playing because you occasionaly need to mash shooting and that's harder to do on wiimote's trigger button. As game goes, all kinds of new finger tangling button combinations are introduced. Even for map or options you have to press 1 and 2 which is cumbersome when holding wiimote vertically.

Because of lack of buttons beam and vizor switching were relegated to wiimote flicks and they can be unreliable. Every once in a while game wouldn't recognize my flicks or i was getting confused and pressing vizor button when i wanted beam or vice versa. To add to frustration beam switching animation also takes a bit of time. Animation of shooting a rocket also wastes time because it switches arm cannon to rocket mode and you need to press shoot button an additional time to revert to blaster mode. It's a difference of 0.5-1 seconds but it starts to matter later in the game when you're swarmed with enemies.

Designers of this game really, REALLY thought the vizor is important. The UI, rains drops on the vizor glass, even occasional reflections on it -- they really wanted to keep reminding you that there is a piece of glass between you and the world. Many enemies LOVE to mess with your vizor, they spit on it, jam it, overload with flashbang explosions. Getting blinded for several seconds isn't even that bad but vizor shenanigans also interrupt your shot charge and drop lock-on, messing up combat.

To justify vizor's heatvision mode some rooms are completely dark. These are easily the worst parts of the game. One specific part in Phendrana drifts is a sequence of completely dark rooms filled with space pirates and drones. That part frustrated me so much i made a point to never return there again.

As much of a nightmare that was, dark rooms in mines are worse still. You have to deal with darkness, platforming AND combat metroids! You need to look at metroid outside of heatvision to determine which beam kills them, but then you have to go back to heat vision to stay on a platform, and also keep switching beams while you're doing all that. Absolute nightmare.

Bosses also get frustrating, especially when you run out of rockets during the fight. Game in general is starving for rockets and power bombs are even more rare. But they're worth it, because power bombs can triviliaze encounters and bosses that you'd rather nuke than fight through which is often a slog.

Rocket deficit is very deliberate it seems, one puzzle is even designed so you're forced to spend 36 rockets and if you leave the room -- puzzle resets. The reward for it is wavebuster -- proton pack looking beam great for destroying pesky drones (for pun's sake i also tried to bust some Chozo ghosts with it -- but regular charged shot works better against them). However wavebuster consumes lots of rockets so now you're even more starved for rockets, yay.

At least in big boss fights game has a mechanic where game reorients you towards the boss automatically after you uncurl -- really helpful, especially with wiimote turning being as slow as it is.

Final challenge of finding artifacts ended up my favourite part of entire game. Figuring out the puzzles just gave me another chance to enjoy atmosphere and location design. By that time rooms are filled with annoying enemies but at least you can just run past them or use x-ray visor for ghosts.

I actually got several artifacts before game allowed me to read hints for them, so when i came to artifact plaza, statues activated and when scanning it just said "artifact obtained". Now i kinda wish to know what the hints were.

Also while running around i was wishing Phendrana Drift had direct access to main hub on Tallon surface because having to get there through Magmoor Caverns got old. Because of that Magmoor Caverns feels more like a corridor between zones than a proper area.

In fact most of the rooms are just linear corridors with no additonal exits. It is probably this way because of 3d design but it leads to longer time traversing between levels especially with Samus not able to speed boost or even run in Metroid Prime.

My first playthough with 67% took me 16:17 hours but real time was a lot longer because of restarts -- a lot of them on Omega Pirate and last sequence of bosses because they to so long and i died on them several times.

I don't think i can go for 100% on this one -- in modern 2d Metroid games map indicates if room has an item or not and these games are the only i got 100% for. Prime doesn't do that so there goes that.

Metroid Prime music is more techno and ambient which i often use as synonym for "generic and unremarkable" but tracks in this game are very memorable. Phendrana Drifts is a classic and Magmoor Caverns is a great remix of Norfair theme from Super Metroid. I wished Metroid Prime Trilogy still had original menu select theme but for some reason it was replaced with generic choir.

Overall: Prime is a fantastic conversion of Metroid atmosphere and gameplay into 3d, great art style keeps it looking great even 20 years later, the best musical score since Super, but dark rooms suck and boss design is aggresively tedious.

2
General Gaming / Re: What is your most recent gaming purchase?
« on: July 24, 2022, 11:42:19 AM »
I kinda ended up with several 8bitdo accessories.

First i bought their GBros -- their Gamecube/Pro Controller adapter for Switch/PC. I only used it several times to connect SNES Mini controllers on some SNES games on Switch, but then i stopped paying for Switch online.

Last year i bought their wireless controller Pro2 and it was such a disappointment, i like the feel of it, but it has a very bad lag and is unusable no matter how i set it up. Apparently it is a lottery and sometimes you just get defective ones like that. It was also a hassle to sync it through bluetooth each time i want to use it, because it was losing connection.

Also another reason i wanted this controller were buttons on the back but a) you need special mobile app to set them up, andi can't be bothered b) theses button are distracting when holding the controller and i end up pressing them randomly

I bought their wireless adapter too hoping it can fix the issues but it nope.

To justify the purchase at least somewhat i now connected that wireless adapter to GBros adapter and now i can play games with SNES controller on PC. I still have to resync this setup each time so it's not ideal but whatever. Playing AM2R with original SNES controller feels nice.

3
Metroid Dread (Switch):

Ranking highly replayable games is two-fold: on the first playthrough you just go through story and and on consequent runs (fast or 100%) you truly start digging into level-design and combat design. Sometimes one harms another. Fusion puts so much emphasis on it's story it removes exploration and reduces next playthrough to just retreading the exact same path. On the other side -- Zero Mission's first playthough is kinda messy due to uneven last part, but next playthroughs are great revealing the true brillance of design that was completely obscured on first run.

Metroid Dread has a very good first playthough, probably the smoothest series ever had. It's linear as Fusion but isn't as restrictive and reaches  the highs of Super Metroid -- and then some.

You are being led along "golden path" with items spread like crumbs. Usually as soon you get a new unlock -- there is an item just lying nearby that you can now pick up and it always leads you further down the story.

Game doesn't lock you in as completely as Fusion does and you're usually free to go eplore somewhat. Adam still occasionally requires to be activated to progress further but you're never locked down and forced to finish the game like in Fusion, even Super Metroid does this on the last save room.

Pacing and level design felt great during the first run. All the bosses were fun to figure out and the final boss was challenging, capping a fantastic first playthrough.

In-game time for my first run was 9:46. Then i went for 100% on the same file and it only took me just 4 additional hours. That's on the low side because Dread doesn't have as many collectibles. QoL features also help save time: map marks if there are secret items in each room and shows competion percentages for each area. Also when you reach final area, game additionally unlocks all teleports so fast travel is even easier.

During 100% collecting it was kinda hard reading map UI, it's functional but probably should have been more schematic and less detailed to make it more readable. As it is now, it is kinda busy and makes things hard to find occasionally.

As usual, most time during 100% item hunt was spent doing shinespark puzzles. Shinepark mechanic keeps evolving: Fusion introduced shinepark stop and restart on slopes, Zero Mission added ballspark, and in Dread Samus can keep shinepark while sliding and bouncing off walls. You can even spark down and combat is designed so you can use shinespark offensively to kill some bosses faster.

Game has fantastic movement, best in the series. Samus Returns had great controls and MercurySteam evolved them even further in Dread. One of my favourite tricks in Samus Returns was using touchpad to instantly morphball and now it's a separate button. I also used counter button to stand up from morphball quickly. Dread's morphball button does both and it is a great option when you need duck/uncurl in the air or during action moments.

New abilities are great introduction. Flash shift is mandatory to dodge fast bosses and for traversal. Grapple beam also speeds up moving around levels because you can pull yourself towards any blue surface on a wall or ceiling -- especially useful underwater and in EMMI sequences.

Parries are even better than in Samus Returns and new dash parries feels good. Special cutscenes on parrying bosses' attacks are great even if they stay the same same on repeat.

Cutscenes have even more "Samus is badass" moments than in Samus Returns. Action direction and camera work is brilliant.

Areas don't stay cold, metallic and soon enough into the game you will be exploring new environments. Game makes great use of parallax and background details. Walls and blank spaces in 2d projection are pitch black and create nice contrast on my OLED tv, and i'm guessing on OLED model too. Moments when game plays with darkness and foreground shadows look stunning.

After doing 100%, i started a run for speed and it was surprising how much i got lost at first. Game still allows the player to get lost when you veer off polished "golden path" or look for speedrun shortcuts, like i did. Most i could find was long corridors you can zoom through with shinespark and it seems like it was intentionally designed that way. You even get special cutscenes for shinesparking in special spots. But apparently there are a several fully intended sequence breaks and the game is a great watch for speedrunning.

Zero Mission and Fusion had a run timer if the run was on New Game+. For some reason Dread doesn't have it, so the only way to check the time is to save and exit into main menu. In fact, there isn't much of a New Game+ at all, all you retain on save file is mark of completion and unlockable gallery art.

My "fast" playthrough was 3:41 and after that i immediately restarted on Hard. Hard mode made surprisingly little difference: just like in Samus Returns enemies and bosses hit very hard destroying several energy bars in one hit even on Normal, so it depending on the mode you will be dying in 2 or 3 hits, which doesn't matter as much. Enemies and bosses also drop lots of items and health so you will be replenishing constantly. Also while speedrunning you will be constantly running around with low health so damage numbers matter even less.

Hard fast run took me 3:21 and with that, save file was completed. Unlockable art was great but my favourite piece was Metroid Fusion-themed wallpaper.

Overall -- Metroid Dread looks great, plays well, has great level design, fantastic movement options and satisfying combat, fun bosses. Only the music feels somewhat generic and too ambient for it's own good. The best musical moment was Super Metroid remix.

If ranked within the series, Dread is better than Zero Mission and Fusion both for first/one playthrough or for repeated playthroughs. Just last year after playing Super Metroid for the first time, i couldn't believe a modern game can be as good and Dread isn't, but it's a very sold #2 and a great game in it's own right.

4
Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 327: The E3 Where Nothing Happened
« on: June 26, 2022, 09:59:44 AM »
Puppets probably cost them pretty penny, considering they were from Henson company:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ANzA2fQ8Gc

5
Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 302 - I’m Taking the Goose Down
« on: June 26, 2022, 03:29:39 AM »
Pronouncing "caesar" as "kae-sar" is the correct Latin pronunciation.

6
Podcast Discussion / Re: Feather the Crank!
« on: May 22, 2022, 07:33:40 AM »
Quote
"Who would look at Dante's Inferno and think it would make a great videogame?"

Imagine if someone made a game with main character named Dante meeting a character named Vergil and going to hell to save his love interest Trish (short of Beatrice) a full decade before Dante's Inferno...

7
Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 292 - That's a Spicy Poll
« on: April 15, 2022, 04:18:48 PM »
Quote
New Super Mario Bros U is the best 2D Mario

That's outrageous because obviously NSMB Wii is the best one. But U is close second.

8
Metroid Zero Mission (Wii U Virtual Console):

I want to reiterate how much i like SNES controller i got from SNES mini. Because Wii U still treats it as Pro Controllers i was able to play Super Metroid, Zero Mission and Fusion with it. The whole setup wiring Wiimote to SNES controller and then playing on Wii U gamepad was kinda awkward but i really liked it.

In general, i like Zero Mission, but not as much as Super. Because it's less moody maybe?.. The most enjoyable part for me was when Zero Mission veered from remaking Metroid 1 and added an original segment with unknown items and power grip. That segment really came out of nowhere and was kinda creepy.

Otherwise ZM follows the pacing of all Metroid games where you keep upgrading as you play, eventually becoming a powerhouse by the end. But the ending breaks that pacing so after peaking at the original ending you're dragged back and stripped down to nothing. Emotionally going from the high of killing Mother Brain and then having to scurry in air vents hiding from everything is too constrasting and destroys pacing. I kinda stopped caring at that point and didn't play the game for several weeks because of that.

Level design in Space Pirate ship also becomes kinda bad, with prolonged sections that are meant just to slow you down and annoy. Tunnels with dozens of bomb blocks for no other reason just to be a hassle, robots that just stands there blocking your way and gates closing if enemy sees you.

Even the final final ending annoyed me because i thought i was supposed to somehow get into the area where escape pods were so i was looking all around not realizing there will be yet another, final boss. And even after that i couldn't understand how to get into the escape pod so i died some more on final escape sequence because i didn't understand i was supposed to jump in there.

Another annoyance was defeating Mother Brain the first time and i also got kinda lost in Ridley's Lair because i was supposed to go back and forth between Norfair and Ridley on a detour through some caves to kill a wasp boss.

Once you actively start optimizing your gameplay and going for completion game becomes better. Even Mother Brain becomes easy once you understand the "secret" trick of "don't shoot the brain when it flashes".

Only then true design of Zero Mission is revealed and players realizes how the map is riddled with shortcuts like swiss cheese. First playthrough only pretends to be linear and guided by Chozo statues, but there are skips and fake walls to circumvent almost everything. Pointlessly long corridors can be zoomed right through and even seemingly random slopes can be used to chain sparkshines.

My first playthrough was 5:55:40 with 76%. First run feels weaker than in Super Metroid but second playthrough is more enjoyable due to Quality of life changes like showing area item completion percentage and map showing the presence of items.

On second playthrough i tried to "speedrun" it and got 1:41:03 with 70%. I arrived at the last area when it was already 1:30 and didn't want to spend too much time risking going over 2 hour mark, so i got less items.

Third playthrough was my 100% attempt. It took me 5:38:55. Because the game shows most items on the map, the remainder are hidden in secret rooms behind fake walls and these are the most tricky ones, including notorious puzzle rooms.

Since Fusion, shinespark puzzles became my favourite part of the series because they push the movement system to the fullest. I liked shinespark puzzles in ZM too, but overall they weren't as ingenious as the ones from Fusion. The hardest puzzle rooms in Zero Mission are the ones about Power Grip and precise twitch jumping. Adding shinespark in ball form is pretty fun but doesn't really change much.

To date i only 100%-ed Samus Returns and Zero Mission and this time i knew that final boss will be way harder than usual because of this. Back when i played Samus Returns i was really frustrated how tanky the final boss turned out to be, not realizing it was because i fully completed the game.

So far, Super is still easily the best Metroid game while Zero Mission would be #2. Onto AM2R and Metroid Prime!

9
Not according to this chart:



but feel free to make your own chart in which it is Nintendo's highest money-making game ever.  ;)
So this indicades that

War Waifus >> Road Rage >> Dog Waifus >> Generic Waifus >> Healthcare

10
4 years to tell a story?! Clearly, this is the War and Peace of the video game world.

GRRM: hold my beer.

11
Nintendo Gaming / My Nintendo memories for 3DS and Wii U
« on: February 16, 2022, 05:02:20 AM »
For a limited time Nintendo launched a site to look on your gaming stats on 3DS and WiiU:

https://my-nintendo-3ds-wiiu-memories.nintendo.com/en-US/index.html#top

My stats

3DS:
Total Play Time -- 693hrs
Total Titles Played -- 128

Most Played:
Kid Icarus: Uprising -- 96hrs
StreetPass Mii Plaza -- 53hrs
Luigi's Mansion 2 -- 31hrs

Wii U:

Total Play Time -- 4822hrs

Total Titles Played -- 80

Most Played:
YouTube (lol) -- 3301hrs
The Wonderful 101 -- 261hrs
BAYONETTA -- 197hrs

That's actually very low time spent on these systems, Youtube excluding. Still great times were had.

12
General Gaming / Re: La Mulana 2 announced
« on: January 24, 2022, 02:31:59 AM »
DLC for La-Mulana 2 -- Tower of Oannes is out!

https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/835430/view/3142950850540601010

Launched it yesterday and spent several hours roaming around re-remembering how game works.

Couldn't even find the dang level! Welp.

13
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Nintendo Switch 2021 Statistics!
« on: December 14, 2021, 03:45:13 PM »
Spent hours on Switch: 18.

Among them: 8 on Bowser's Fury, 2 on SNES App and 2 on Pacman 99.

Paltry year compared to 404 hours in 2020.

14
General Gaming / Re: Chronological gaming series' (Chrontendo and the like)
« on: December 09, 2021, 05:49:32 AM »
Lately, i've been watching/listening to Atari Archive -- similar chronological series about all released Atari games:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo_f7y6sBDmFnGbZoq1Ce_w

While i am not as invested in actual games described, history and research behind every video is very interesting.

15
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: December 06, 2021, 02:39:25 PM »
I bought a pack of 4 Nintendo vouchers a year ago, hoping that Nintendo surely will release some games that would interest me. I tried to use these vouchers to preorder Warioware and Metroid Dread but their release date was after vouchers' expiration date. So i had to buy some games to justify these vouchers. That's how i ended up buying Super Mario 3D World for the third time just for

Super Mario 3D World: Bowser Fury (Switch):

Great DLC? expansion? Bowser interruptions got a bit old by the end and the way you have to replay that boss battle, going through same motions was a bit annoying.

Still great 2 hours, and it really showed what original 3D World movement and controls are capable of in a more open world. And no, 3D World movement was never restricted to 8-directions -- it's the same here as in original game.

I think i enjoyed it more than Odyssey despite rather formulaic structure. For one it's an actual platformer which Odyssey doesn't even try to be one.

Yoku Island Express (Switch):

А fun puzzle Metroidvania, similar in design to Toki Tori 2. Finished game last year and overall enjoyed it. I think i remember being annoyed at some boss because i couldn't understand what was i supposed to do.

Metroid Fusion: (GBA cart on DS Lite)

I spent too much time tinkering with that Metroid Fusion cart and DS Lite itself to make them work so i felt motivated to finish this game on this DS Lite, come hell or high water.

It would be so easy to stay in Super Metroid's monumental shadow -- just like hundreds of games do. Even actual Metroid games after-Super, sometimes chase that Super Metroid high.

Metroid Fusion soundly rejects nostalgia and changes EVERYTHING: old yellow gunship is unceremonously destroyed and replaced with new purple one, main character's look is changed completely, ALL weapons and ALL controls are revamped. If anything, this earns mad respect for Sakamoto and team.

To justify why Samus lost all abilities again, Fusion goes to most extreme -- basically killing and rebuilding main character from ground up. All abilities are now reconceptualised as biological-genetic mutation powers instead of mechanical suit upgrades. The horror element appropriately moves on from Alien to The Thing with X-parasites shape-shifting and body horror.

Just like Metroid 2 on Gameboy, Fusion on GBA was designed around short gameplay bursts so map is divided into smaller sectors. Computer constantly briefs on what you're have to do and places targets on a map, probably to reduce frustration for players getting lost.

But how effective is that really if the game is never a walk from point A to point B? More often than not, goal will be locked behind something so you need to go around the map. Navigation panels reveal some of the map, but most of it will be hidden until you reveal it.

Fusion is not necessarily linear and signature Metroid exploration is still there but the game does feel restrictive sometimes. I wished i could skip briefing cutscenes but game doesn't allow that even on subsequent playthroughs. Which is weird because there are some QoL changes for New Game+ on completed save file, but cutscenes are still forced on you.

Near the end game straight up locks you up, shutting down all exploration, only allowing to finish the game. I had to look up where and when exactly does that happen so i don't get trapped down like that on next playthroughs. There are special passages between sectors and i discovered some of them but not the one from final sector. These passages are also hidden very deviously, so even if you know there must be one it is hard to find them, like one of these passages is placed so it is always obscured by mini-map UI.

Fusion streamlines controls and abilities to adjust to GBA's two face buttons. To eliminate weapons switching they removed scan ray, grapple beam and dedicated super rockets (super rockets are now just ugprades over regular rockets). There is no run button so Samus goes into boosted run automatically if you walk long enough. Diagonal aiming is on shoulder button and defaults to up aiming because most enemies fly and attack from above.

Most bosses are (again) rocket sponges you need to press down right shoulder button constantly. It became a problem for me because when i held DS Lite, it's right lower corner pressed too hard into my palm. I also had trouble sticking to the walls and ceiling which was especially annoying during tense boss fights. Not sure if it was my problem or controls' but half of the time Samus just refused to cling to the wall.

Also wall jumping was made easier to do, but for some reason it gets disabled after you get space jump?..

Some of the bosses were annoying like spider who can grab you, throw you on the ground and then grab you again. Similarly floating toaster boss was even more annoying because how hard it was to avoid getting hit. Compared to them, yet another Ridley fight felt refreshing because it was just a regular "shoot a bunch of rockets" deal but with wackier sound effects.

First playthrough was 5:15 with 59%. I tried to go fast on 2nd playthrough but apparently still took too much time collecting stuff with just 2:40. I then went for another playthrough with the goal of 100% but i didn't know i could restart over finished save file (marked with Metroid symbol) to see area completion marks. So i never finished it fully, just getting 93% but i enjoyed it still.

One shinespark puzzle room was especially fun to figure out and execute. It also forced me to learn how exactly shinespark works and helped to solve another puzzle that i spent several hours on previously. Space jump room wasn't as fun to do, but it was ingenious in it's own way -- like some kinda extremely annoying Flappy Bird level. Still, scouring around all sectors looking for passages and items was fun however endgame music became too repetitive because it was constantly blaring, never changing regardless in which sector i was.

Overall game is fun enough on first playthrough, but the way game traps you into endgame was disappointing. On second playthroughs i wished game would allow to skip cutscenes and opened up passages between sectors earlier. Still, a good game.

Oh, and i forgot about SA-X. I didn't think SA-X encounters made too much of an impact, it only happens like 3 times and on first playthrough it is just "hide and wait it out" scripted sequence or "run away or die in one hit". Also during endgame if you explore the game to collect items you're running all over the station but never meet SA-X, further breaking the illusion of being hunted.

Onto Zero Mission!

16
Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 273 - Featuring eShop Roundup
« on: December 04, 2021, 03:30:34 AM »
On Alex wanting to buy Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+:

Be aware that Latest update to Binding of Isaac Repentance is available physically on Nicalis store  for Switch, Ps4 and Xbox Series S/X. Weirdly enough no disc for regular Xbox One -- if they had it, i would have bought one.

Repentance is superior to Afterbirth+ in every way and is fantastic, fantastic, fantastic time.

In fact i was playing it on PC while listening to your last 5 podcasts.

17
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Run the Developer 4: Monolith Soft
« on: December 04, 2021, 01:57:52 AM »
Isn't the poll supposed to have checkboxes? At the moment you can only pick one game.

18
Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 289: Super Metroid
« on: November 23, 2021, 02:07:54 AM »
Man, these were some hot takes about Super Metroid!

But if anything this proves even more how deep the game is because players end up having such different journeys while playing it.

Hearing recommendation for Super Metroid Redux as the better choice for new players because it improves controls and such, i decided to check it out and i don't know about that.

Especially because you spent almost an hour talking how Super Metroid doesn't have enough tutorials (a completely insane argument i must add) while Redux removes those little tutorials original SM showed to player when unlocking rockets and bombs.

Controls are somewhat improved, but you still switch between rockets/grappling beam/regular shot, so you get both GBA-style shoulder button clutching while still having to frantically switch mid battle.

19
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: November 23, 2021, 01:50:20 AM »
i don't necessarily agree that the run button must be a shoulder button. Mario games use B for everything and still work.
Mario's B doubles as both fire and run. In Metroid games you might need to press/mash/charge fire while holding or releasing run indepedently. Also while during platforming and switching weapons. It is better to put often used functions on face buttons, but not when buttons you will need to press and hold simultaneously are on the opposing sides of diamond button layout.

Modern platformers like Rayman Origins and Ori map run on a shoulder/trigger. I have problems with their design otherwise but they got at least that part right.

20
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: November 21, 2021, 12:49:26 PM »
Let's catch-up.

The Room Three: (Steam)

More of the same -- more boxes, more rooms, more elaborate puzzles and doohickeys to twist, turn and pull. But with expanded scale the series already pushing the limit with how much time you have to spend walking between rooms compared to actual puzzling.

Game goes further into horror element and now has several endings. Thankfully story branches out just at the end you only need to replay the very last part to see all endings.

Devil May Cry 5: (Xbox One, Steam)



DMC5 is probably my favourite game of the last 5 years. I rarely buy new games and those that i do buy i barely play (at least within that first year). DMC5 really is the only exception. I kept coming back to it and enjoyed the process of getting 100% on it so much i did it twice -- on Xbox and Steam.

5 improves on everything i wanted to be improved on. Side-dodges finally became viable for dodging with more fluid animation. New air-taunts are great for both style and movement. Swords moveset unified across Nero and Dante, Dante has lots of fun new weapons, Nero feels much better to play.

Nero's mechanical arms weren't not game-breakers i thought they might be. Because arms break as you use them, you will have to plan ahead which arms to equip if you're going for S-ranks or in the Bloody Palace because certain arms are way better for certain enemies. And Nero gets even more abilities after finishing the game, improving the mobility and combat further still.

Dante's new weapons are fun. Ice nunchucks from DMC3 are back and gained two new elementals powers. New gauntlets have their own dodging, parrying and even style switching mechanics. Dante can dual wield 2 rocket launchers or swing a bike like weapon, even a hat turns into a weapon in Dante's hands. But the biggest upgrade is a new sword which allows Dante to create and control sword shards around him and more importantly -- tap into Sin Devil Trigger. Sin Devil Trigger is the epitome of "stupidly overpowered but fun". At first i thought this turns DMC into something like MMO where you're just waiting until gauge for your ultra move fills up and then you just activate it destroying everyone, but then i learned about Quadruple SSS.

Quadruple SSS is now my favourite action game mechanic since Bayonetta's Dodge Offset. Not only it allows to turn into badass demon for a few seconds mid combo, it also cancels nearly everything. It is a fantastic option to get out of lengthy recovery animations like the one after shooting a huge laser from double rocket launchers.

The only bad thing in DMC5 is lock-on which is bafflingly bad and inconsistent, especially compared to previous entries. DMC4 had a setting to control how game locks-on to enemies -- they removed it in 5 for some reason and instead lock-on is completely random at times. Way too often i pressed lock-on expecting it to latch on to the enemy i was fighting but game instead locked-on to a random bat across the arena. It is really puzzling how bad it is -- they polished every other aspect of the combat to a mirror sheen but lock-on is not just busted -- it's the worst in entire series.

S-ranking all the levels was quite a challenge, especially on DMD. DMC5 has lots of overpowered weapons (Dante's hat and Sin Devil Trigger and Nero's arm breakers) so it's doable with some planning. "Hell and Hell" mode that kills you on in one hit was actually easier than i thought because you still have 3 retries to finish the level and you get S-rank automatically with "No damage" bonus.

Vergil is back too and fittingly -- is more overpowered than ever before. Stupid bullshit from DMC4SE is gone: Vergil can trick down normally again and character plays way better.

Completing 100 floors of Bloody Palace without dying took me a while. Specific floors are very dangerous, especially later ones and require planning and/or training, especially the ones with Fury enemy (red lizard that is intangible most of the time). Vergil's Bloody Palace alone took me more several months of retries but when i returned to DMC5 on PC all the training paid off and i finished his BP on first try.

Overall, despite busted lock-on -- DMC5 is easily the most accessible and fun game in the series. Everything bad from DMC4 is gone, everything good from DMC3 is back and better and more. I am nowhere near skilled enough to tap into this game mechanics fully (there are entire movesets and styles that i still ignore while playing) but it is still extremely fun to control with what i can handle. It decrowns DMC3 Switch port with style-switching as the most fun game in the series.

Metal Gear Revengeance: (Steam)



Inspired by 100%-ing DMC5, i went back to MGR. I mainly played the game back in 2015-2016. Looking at my screenshots i took at the time camera and lock on were really pissing me off. After S-ranking the game in 2016 i dropped it for a while. In 2017 i finished main batch of VR-missions -- some of them were extremely finicky to complete, as VR-missions in Metal Gear series tend to be. And finally this year i finished the last of VR-missions and completed special achievements for DLC-missions.

In general -- this is a middling (if not outright bad) action game. Fundamentals are broken -- lock-on is horrific (especially with enemies that LOVE to jump/fly around across the stage), camera is probably the worst in both Metal Gear series and for Platinum. Even such a basic thing as movement is bad because main character really likes to "slide" and jump around semi-randomly when attacking -- game overall has a very "squirrelly" feeling. It feels like Platinum tried to replicate combat from Batman games where character magnetically jumps towards the closest enemy automatically.

The balance is non-existing. Metal Gear games are always anti-fun on harder levels, but this game takes this to new levels. Because your weapons are upgradeable, you're supposed to upgrade them during the campaign. And not upgrading is not an option -- you have to do it. This basically destroys all balance turning even the basic enemies into bullet- slash-sponges if you don't do upgrades. New Game on blank files is impossible -- unupgraded slash does a fraction of % of boss' life gauge. You read it right -- a fraction of 1 percent, as in -- you need to do 100-1000 slashes to kill the boss.

It feels like Platinum knew this is untenable and they added gimmick to "Revengeance" difficulty mode where parrying slash always does 10-20% of fixed damage to enemies. Ironically this makes this mode easier than previous "Very hard" mode.

Characters' movesets feel so barren. Even Raiden -- the character with the most moves has maybe 3-5 good moves, while DLC characters even less so. No weapon-switching in real-time also feels awkward. The sole point of Metal Gear UI is that so player could quickly switch WITHOUT going into dedicated pause menu screen. But in MGR you still have to pause the game so it's the worst of both worlds -- dealing with somewhat quirky Metal Gear UI conventions AND not even being able to do it on the fly. And generally that's the way with all ties to Metal Gear they did -- nearly all of it harms the game instead of elevating it: stealth is pointless, grenade system is finicky and at odds with action part of the game, Kojima productions imposed blade mode QTEs feels forced, especially with bosses.

Bosses are fun enough to play casually and music is good though tho i can't discern screaming lyrics. S-ranking magnet boss on Revengeance difficulty took me SO long... Because of insane time requirement i had to learn almost speedrunning strats to skip bosses' phases to make it in time. Same with final boss -- exploding ground crack patterns were tricky to learn. Especially when boss started to combine attacks -- he can create a lava wall and jump at you right through it so you can't even see him starting the attack.

Additionally there are DLC levels where you play as robot dog and Jetstream Sam -- rival character for Raiden. Robot dog's combat is even more basic than main character's, and so robot dog's campaign shifts more to platforming and stealth. It is very short -- around 40 minutes if played normally, or 8 minutes as a speedrun.

Jetstream Sam's campaign is still short but character's is designed so well. It is kinda similar to Ninja Gaiden because how charging changes the entire moveset. Additionally Sam can double jump, taunt and his side rolling is way faster. You're gonna need side-rolling because the hardest achievement in the game is finishing final boss of his campaign without taking damage on hardest difficulty. When Sam parries an attack he still gets chip damage so you have to roll through attacks to avoid damage. Also you need to taunt because that doubles your damage -- but also makes incoming attacks faster. No-damaging the final boss took like hundreds of retries because it so easy mess up the input for side-rolling and the boss moves around the arena so swiftly already dysfunctional MGR camera can't keep up after him so you don't even see him and have to rely on sound cues. At least sound cues are done well so the only problem was my reaction and execution. Using Mike Kobe's speedrun as a guide i finally did this and finished the whole DLC in less than an hour completing all the achievements.

Overall MGR feels like a middling action game attached to "hype" cutscenes. Half baked mechanics completely fall apart when you play past the first playthrough. Jetstream Sam's combat and movement is the most fun and well designed part of the whole game and i wished he got a full game instead.

Metroid: Samus Returns: (3DS)

This was the game i was repairing my 3DS for. Analog nub is used for both movement and aiming so had to have it in working for this game. As i was playing i was hesitant to make movements too fast, like quickly tapping "down" twice for morph ball because tugging the nub too hard was how i broke it the first time. This hampered my exploration when i discovered places where i needed to morph mid-air to push myself into a hole or start spider-balling alongside the wall.

Game has a semi-hidden way to morph-ball instantly if you press on a map on a touch-pad but the placement is awkward to press for either thumbs, especially from the left side because you simultaneously still need to push in a direction on a nub to keep the momentum going. Watching other people playing this game, i see people doing morphball mid-jump all the time to save time and i still don't understand if they really just tap down twice that fast or use touchpad.

Similarly, later in the game i needed a way to get out of morph ball quickly for a certain segment (*cough* chase sequence *cough*) and wasn't too keen double tapping "up" too fast. But i discovered that doing parry was a great way to get out of morph ball instantly.

Speaking of parrying -- complaints about it are way overblown. If anything game doesn't use parry enough because some bosses have only one parriable attack, if that. For regular enemies counter is even less of a problem because it always easier to simply jump over them or chuck a rocket at them which is how you would deal with them in all other games in the series. You can't even say that enemies attack patterns have been redesigned to force player to parry because Metroid 2 enemies (and Metroid Fusion enemies that recreate them) were already charging at you in the same manner.

Parrying felt like developers were trying to evolve series combat from "just spam rockets at everything". However the combat is still not fun enough by itself because you need to stop and wait until enemy attacks you, and this kills the flow. Maybe the old "just spam rockets" approach wasn't too bad, after all?

New robot boss plays unlike anything in original Metroid 2 and is instead a puzzle boss that forces you to do very specific things to defeat it instead just shooting rockets at it.  But another "new" boss they added is the complete opposite and IS a rocket-sponge because it is supposed to be a fanservice boss in the style of earlier games -- though i really don't think Metroid fans liked it becaгse how redundant and canon-bending it felt.

Robot boss also exposes another weird game design decision -- everything in Samus Return kills you too fast. That robot in particular has attacks that can one-shot, two-shot you even if you have fully upgraded. Even regular enemies can destroy several HP bars with one attack. This really undermines the power fantasy you get by upgrading yourself in later game. Insta-kill attacks make it really annoying to learn dodging robot's attack patterns while you wait for the part where you even have the chance to harm it -- if you figured out what to do that is.

Level design felt a bit generic and somehow more generic than Gameboy game (how is that even possible?). They did try to add some memorable vistas -- once in a while there is some picturesque Chozo temple ruins, or a dam or a crystal cave, but it all kinda blends together. Area names not having discernable themes or even a memorable names doesn't help.

New patterns on Metroid Queen boss forced me to several moves because i thought there is no way not to take damage here unless i am able to do this. With these new moves i was finally able to get all the last upgrades on a map and 100% the game.

Overall it is an okay game, but i don't think it would leave lasting impression on a new player or satisfy long-time series fan. After finishing Metroid 1, 2 and Samus Returns on 3DS, i really didn't understand why the series (at least the 2d half) warrants such a fervor...


Super Metroid: (Wii U Virtual Console)

until playing Super Metroid.

It really does feel like Super Metroid came right at the right time allowing developers to reach a perfect balance of story, moment to moment gameplay and replayability. Even the map that they added for the first time in series they managed to get juuust right on the first attempt. Super Metroid's map shows all you need but doesn't hold your hand. And some secret corridors are still hidden so there are enough areas for you to explore on your own. And for things player can't figure out -- there is a still scan ray to outright show bombable/rocketable blocks. Interesting how scan ray evolved into visors of Metroid Prime and then later kinda became industry standard becoming Detective Vision of Batman Arkham Asylum and Eagle Vision of Assasin's Creed. And retroactively turning into a scan pulse in Samus Returns.

Because we're back on the same planet as Metroid 1 areas have names and more importantly clear themes. Level design is very varied and there are lots of unique memorable assets spread all over helping to memorize the map layout in player's mind.

Still, i got stuck occasionally, but i always felt like it was my own fault. Like the area where Super Metroid locked me up until i realized game has a run button. I should have paid more attention to controls in settings or read the manual to check what all the buttons do. In the same vein -- when i gained all weapons and switching between them started getting cumbersome, i similarly wondered if there is a function to switch to regular beam instantly and there was -- it was on Y this entire time.

While i am on controls -- i was using SNES controller i got with SNES Mini and it was kinda awesome to play SNES game with the controller it was designed in mind with. I really liked the feel of that controller even if that whole Wii U setup was kinda clunky because i was using SNES controller plugged into a wiimote, and often used Gamepad as a screen while i was using my main TV for youtube watching or for podcast listening.

However, game's actual controls are really not ergonomic. The most obvious one that Y button and Select need to be swapped -- it really makes no sense to keep weapon switching that you need so often away from a face button. Run button also has no business being on face button -- it needs to be on a shoulder so bad so you can press it while you jump and shoot. Even jumping and shooting buttons are placed a bit weirdly. Good thing game has customizeable controls but it takes too much mental rewiring to relearn a game away from default so i kinda gave up and stayed on default button layout.

Another time i got stuck in my first playthrough was when i reached that glass tube connecting two zones. I knew of that place because i've seen that screenshot many times before:



I knew of this room enough to recognise when it is being referenced in other games, like in both La-Mulana games but i still never understood why exactly that place was so memorable to so many, outside of unique visual of a giant glass tube.

When i got stuck in that underwater zone i gave up after wandering around there -- and it doesn't help that this zone is extremely annoying to traverse. So i gave up and looked up the solution and it was totally fair -- i should have put 2 and 2 together to realize what the game was trying to tell me.

Bosses are mostly "just spam rockets at them", indicative to boss design in all games in the series released so far. Except for that angry shrimp boss which i managed to kill completely randomly just by trashing about and randomly button mashing when it grabbed me. I had to look it up to understand what even happened. Apparently i somehow stumbled upon a trick to kill this boss instanly. Energy bar showing that this hurts Samus as much as the boss is actually badass in retrospect.

And game continues to use UI like that to show main character's emotions: desperation, fear of death, sense of relief, even righteous anger (similar to how Ace Attorney explodes energy bar to show character's frustration). Telling a story like that with just an HP gauge and few character sprites is so much more effective than cutscenes and voice-overs to spell character's thoughts out loud they'd do today.

I knew wall jumps exist from Samus Returns so when i saw that frame of animation where Samus tries to lean against the wall, it gave me a hint i can do something there. Then i spent almost an hour just learning and practicing wall jumps. This didn't help me much to sequence break or anything but it was still satisfying to learn by myself and use ocasionally for better mobility.

Apparently you're supposed to learn wall-jumping from "animals" later in the game but i never found them until my second playthrough when i specifically was looking for them -- and despite already knowing the trick -- these guys still taught me something. There are three of these monkey like critters and they do wall jumps to teach you how it's done. After you follow them, two of them jump down and do it all over again but the third one jumps into the small hole in the wall showing me that i can and should do that too. So i spent another half an hour trying to jump and turn into morph ball to cram myself in there. Because there is no button for instant morphball in this game i had to learn to do very fast sequence of right-down-down-right inputs. This could have been elementary if i had spiderball jump but i didn't even knew it exists despite that i was on a second playthrough already.

My first playthrough was around 8 hours with 54% completion. For 2nd playthrough i went faster with ~2:30 with 66% completion (and with animals saved).

Level design, art, sound effects, pacing the unlocks, hiding secrets everywhere, and still hiding even more secrets under those secrets, even secret moves. The game is filled to the brim with content and first playthrough barely even scratches the surface because game is awesome at hiding abilities and secrets. After you finish the game, demo video on title screen even changes to cheekily tease the player more hidden moves like special beam combinations. Even now, many months after finishing the game and having watched lots of videos about it, i still keep learning new things like a simple way to get to wrecked ship without grapple beam. I learned that speedrunners use technique called ocean fly to glide over that whole sequence but that is way beyond normal player's ability. But when watching some random video just this week i found out it's possible to do it in a much simpler way, it is astonishingly easy in fact. Now it really feels like grapple beam here is almost like a ruse because of how brain dead easy it to pass through there without it.

Super Metroid music is memorable and matches the mood of the levels it plays on perfectly. It is so good, all other entries hardly even bother competing with it -- because as i realize now Samus Returns music is almost entirely made of Super Metroid remixes. Even Metroid Prime can't help but remix Super. It feels like Super Metroid's towering shadow is so long it can't help but diminish all later games in the series, at least in terms of music.

And then there are mods -- how awesome is that game's design is both robust and flexible enough to stay perfectly playable while hacked left, right and centre. There are mods that rotate, flip or turn the map upside down -- and game still stays playable all the way to 100% completion. And these are just "simple" mods -- there are mods that have entirely new map and story.

Creative prowess of such magnitude, polished craft from the beginning all the way to the end is truly awe-inspiring. I now understand completely how this game turns people into rabid fanatics of the series and creates disappointment everytime when newer games in the series can't quite measure up -- but what CAN?

Simply because how games are made now -- it is hard to imagine any modern game better than this -- even and especially from Sakamoto. Made today, the game would have too many cutscenes breaking "show don't tell" approach. Super Metroid's insane polish and detail is due to grueling development cycle -- yet another thing hardly possible today.

Modern Super Metroid just couldn't be such a rich and fruitful target for speedrunning and rom-hacking, simply because glitches, let alone hacks would be squashed within days. Super Metroid from 1994 is beatable without most of the suit upgrades, but today's dev team (justly -- from their perspective) feeling their hard work was wasted by players circumventing entire areas and aspects of the game would find ways to "fix" that (just look at latest patch for Metroid Dread where they do exactly that). Especially with perception of "shorter game is bad" which can lead to material damage of less sales.

21
General Gaming / Re: What is your most recent gaming purchase?
« on: November 08, 2021, 01:00:37 AM »
While walking around in the book store i found Russian translation of Volume 4 of Floran Gorge's "History of Nintendo", the one about Gameboy.



I already bought first 2 volumes in English and while content-wise they were great -- binding on those was super filmsy, it started to fall apart right in my hands as i was reading it.

This Russian edition already feels way more robust so there is that at least, but reading reviews i found complaints about bad translation? Whatever i just want the full set. Volume 3 was sold out in that store but i set up alerts if they restock it.

My "fixing old hardware" saga is finishing up -- local repairsman replaced power switch on my DS Lite and cleaned the contacts on d-pad. Not as thoroughly as i hoped -- i had to open the thing again and reclean contacts but being clumsy me bungled it again and kinda broke the wifi wire inside and R-shoulder button stopped working again. Messed around with it for most of the day but got R shoulder button working but i suspect DS Lite is living on borrowed time i guess i really need to finish some GBA and DS games on it.

Among those -- Metroid Fusion cart i bought way back. Apparently battery on it died so the game wasn't saving so i looked up how replace batteries on GBA cart and bought new coin battery and did it myself. The correct way would be to resoldier battery properly, but i just made do with a screwdriver and a scotch tape -- took me several retries mashing A through Metroid Fusion intro (these cutscenes are WAY too long!) to figure out the correct position of the battery -- but now it works.

I also bought Metroid Zero Mission on Wii U and Metroid Dread so now i am primed to play all games in the series.

22
Movies & TV / Re: Rate the last TV show you've seen
« on: October 29, 2021, 08:30:26 PM »
I love S:TAS (better than BTAS and JL imo), but i already own it on DVD and no way i am giving WB/DC any of my money.

23
General Gaming / Re: What is your most recent gaming purchase?
« on: October 29, 2021, 07:23:34 PM »
Latest months felt like "old consoles refurbishing season".

I got encouraged with easy it turned out to "fix" some of my gaming hardware and got a bit carried away...

I've been doing repairs on my gaming hardware here and there before that but nothing more than simply replacing batteries on 3DS and Wii U gamepad. Original gamepad battery swole up so much it even bent the back cover. I think i got scammed a bit on gamepad battery because it claimed to be additional capacity but i doesn't really holds a charge past 1 hour. Ah well, i mostly use the Gamepad in bed anyway and at least it works now.

The drift on the left joy-con stick has gone so bad it started scrolling up-down in menus. The problem became impossible to ignore so i finally decided to fix it. I bought joy-con stick replacements a while ago, and now years later i finally did it. It was rather fussy with all tiny wires inside -- but all you need is a screwdriver which usually comes together with the stick replacement set and a steady hand.

Encouraged with these replacements, i started doing my own "repairs" on other gaming hardware i have. Ol' reliable white Wii U started making weird sounds so i bought a replacement fan for it and replaced it myself. Again -- only thing one really needs is a screwdriver and access to Youtube for some tutorials.

Xbox 360 became really noisy i was considering to replace fan on it but got discouraged watching videos on how to do it properly -- Microsoft really made these things like a puzzle box -- you need some kind of metal stripe to open them properly. Ultimately i just gave the thing to a local repairman and he fixed the noise by taking it apart and oiling it AND he fixed the drift stick on the controller too.

Rubber piece on 3DS nub came off while i was playing Luigi Mansion 2, all these tugging motions really wore it down. Plastic nub under it fell apart too. I could still use the stub but it became even more uncomfortable than beofre. Bought the replacement, and put it in myself. Replacement nub is a tad smaller than the original one but it works okay.

Yay! That's Wii U, 360, and 3DS now brought back!

Next was Nintendo DS Lite. Usual problems -- shoulder triggers stopped working. Watching Youtube videos showed it should be easy enough to fix if a bit more invasive: i had to open up the microswitch under the triggers, take out a tiny metal disc inside it and clean it from rust (of whatever it is that collects on contacts). It was a bit more fussy and scary than usual but i still managed. The problem was when i put it back together i mixed up screws and pierced the plastic near the d-pad and i broke the plastic thing that connects to power switch on the right. Screw thing isn't really a problem but power switch is a huge bummer. I can still turn DS Lite on if use a pin or needle but it is such a hassle. Also d-pad buttons became unresponsive too.

I ordered a replacement for the power switch and will look into ways how to find a guy who can soldier it in or find ways to do it myself -- and clean d-pad contacts while at it.

At least this whole ordeal inspired me to use some of these consoles more and i actually finished some of the games there -- namely Samus Returns on 3DS and Super Metroid on Wii U VC.

24
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Official Sales Thread
« on: January 18, 2021, 07:34:26 AM »
Usually January charts were Playstation time but it seems like they lost even that...

25
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Official Sales Thread
« on: December 30, 2020, 02:07:05 AM »
Konami kicking CD Project's and Nintendo's ass with Train Monopoly game.

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