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Messages - azeke

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

Nintendo Gaming / Re: Nintendo Switch 2020 Statistics!
« on: December 23, 2020, 12:31:37 PM »
Hours spent on Switch: 402 (that's pretty respectable considering i play games on PC and XBone mainly, especially this year)

Number of games: 14

Most played games:
Slay The Spire (probably with a big margin too)
Devil May Cry 3SE (with Switch-exclusive style- and weapon- switching! hell yeah)
La-Mulana 1
Yoku's Island Express (neat if gimmicky game)

Asassin's Creed: Odyssey (Xbox One X):

Did all achievements in 200+ hours. It was exhausting. But still finished it 100%, the feeling is similar to how i felt after completing MGSV -- they really should have cut down most of the content and stayed slim and brief. Game is largely the same as Origins and some things are slightly improved from Origins, but the overall bloat  just becomes tiresome instead of enjoyable. They wasted so much of own their time and hard work for such a little and underwhelming outcome. It feels like they stretched their devs and talent so much -- most of the quests felt like busywork and there was no quality and impact felt for anything in the game.

The decision to make both Kassandra and Alexios playable as main characters, that alone doubled if not quadrupled their voice acting time and budget. I picked Kassandra and her VA is okay, but from what i heard of Alexios as main character in youtube videos -- he just sounds as loud buffoon. All that time these 2 actors spent on their lines (and motion capture!) feels like a complete waste on Ubisoft's part because the game is so monotonous -- NOBODY is gonna be in a hurry to replay it just to hear different VA.

Other NPC voice actors also feel like they were stretched thin. It feels like there are only 5 people doing the voices even if imdb page lists hundreds VAs. One guy especially stands out, his voice and mannerisms are so noticeable and cartoonish he always takes me out.

Gameplay-wise Odyssey is pretty much the same as Origins. Everything good that Origins brought is still there: brilliant eagle vision redesign, BOTW-like climb everywhere, less emphasis on a map and NPCs giving you directions based on actual in-game sights (again -- very similar to BOTW), great graphics, interesting setting and gorgeous vistas. The game is even more colourful than Origins and visuals really pop with HDR.

They fixed a problem i had with Origins with UI elements. Because my TV is prone to burn-in i always try to hide all UI elements but in Origins a few of them were always shown. Odyssey fixes that, allowing you to remove everything. For some of the bosses i had to bring back my health indicator and ability icons because i needed to see cooldowns on abilities and when i need to heal, but most of the game i played without most of the UI.

One of the differences from Origins is notoriety system, like in GTA or very first Assassin's Creed games. Of all things to bring back they reintroduced the most annoying one. Now you get penalized for looting and killing people (yeah, the game called Assassin's Creed penalizes you for killing -- figure that one out). Eventually the heat on you gets too unbearable with soldiers, mercenaries and even citizens and random dogs attacking you -- you're forced to run away. It's just annoying and breaks power fantasy of roaming around in this open world doing whatever.

The main villains are now yet another secret organisation they made up instead of Templars because neither Assasins nor Templars can't exist properly before Crusades start. It's not a big deal but i wonder why had to make up yet another new power-hungry "not-Templar" secret society when they already had Order of the Ancients in Origins. It is especially dumb because in DLC story Order of the Ancients shows up too! And the game have even more secret societies than these two -- there are also Followers of Ares! How many masked cults can one country have?

Odyssey also removed a longstanding tradition of baddies having post-death cutscene which at least gave some characterisation to their villains and was a signature feature of the entire series. Was that also because of bloat? They made so many cultists, they couldn't afford doing the lavish death cutscenes for all of them? It's really a shame.

The bloat also probably hurt quests -- so many quests feel like so generic like they were autogenerated. And many of them WERE: game features special time-limited quests that pop-up randomly and these are your generic "deliver this to that guy", "kill this person". Some of them are just "i'm down on my luck, gib me money plz" -- these are the best because you just get an exp right then and there without all that delivering or killing business.

The sheer number of story and side quests was why quality of writing took a major nosedive. And to make things even worse -- Ubisoft was so eager to utilise their new dialog branching systems -- number of lines were multiplied several times over. And many of the decisions you make in dialogs DO change the story rather significantly which is good in theory but looking back feels like yet another wasteful decision on their production team because they multiplied their writing and quest making budget for seemingly no result -- because again who is going to replay this huge open world game.

I actually got to see the impact my decisions make on a story -- because of a bug. Due to random error my save file got overwritten by previous version and i lost 20 hours and had to replayed some of the quests. Man, i was so demoralized because of this, i didn't touch the game for a week. But still -- what else am i to do sitting home? So i came back and it wasn't too bad and i got to see different outcomes.

And the impact of my dialog decisions also turned out to be yet another underwhelming mess. My choices definitely DO make changes but they're don't really follow any logic and just feel random. When i didn't kill one person first time around that led to additional time wasting and when i DID kill him after file-save bug it led to cutting that quest line down to 10 minutes instead of 20. There isn't really any logic or reward for doing things one way or another even if you DO replay quests.

And some of the writing is just plain bizzare, like one quest line involves an NPC asking me to kill his grandma? And this is supposedly a good and standup guy? Oh by the way, the game features "romance" system in dialog and i can romance this dude too in-between all that grandma killing. Really sets the mood.

That "romance" system is kinda hilarious for how out of the blue it is. Sometimes you just walk up to random NPC and speak for the first time and a dialog choice with heart symbol appears right away. It almost feels like a parody of romancing options from Saint's Row but implemented completely seriously.

I am okay with the fact that open-world games like AC: Origins are mostly auto-generated these days. But i really dislike the trend of not only autogenerating the map but to also fill it with autogenerated mission as well, like Shadow of Mordor does.

Odyssey introduces similar system to Shadow of Mordor orc generals with mercenaries than you occasionally have to hunt down or they start hunting down you. And as i mentioned -- some side-quests are auto-generated too. Publishers really want to cut down costs of making these huge open world games and it feels like you're being tricked.

Odyssey also has user-generated missions, though i never opened them even once. From i've seen it's bad, but i like the aspect of opening-up dev tools for quest making to players.

But the most obvious autogenerated thing in Odyssey are tombs. These are just mazes, with the same generic copy-pasted corridors and same rooms, it feels like an 8bit RPG with confusing 3d labyrinth that was added just to pad time (and it's not like Odyssey needed to add any more padding). There is no climbing, no grand set-pieces, like we got in previous games with churches and secrets inside them. We just roam around in these tombs and occasionally move some blocks to clear the way. It's especially insulting when you compare them to pyramids from Origins because each pyramid was entirely unique outside and inside.

Combat is basically the same as in Origins and the same loot system. There are now even more abilities -- they even added a second melee wheel of abilities. Lower enemies you can just kill by assasinating them one by one, but bigger enemies and especially bosses require to run around spamming arrows and waiting until cooldowns on abilities end and then activating. That's how i was killing most of the end-game enemies in Origins and the strategy stayed mostly the same here. Only this time there are no healing arrows so i have to circumvent that with different loot weapons. Overall all bosses are huge bullet-sponges so battles span a lot of time doing the same thing -- running around shooting arrows and dodging and activating abilities. It takes a lot of time and is really annoying when you die right at the end and have to redo the entire boss encounter. Cerberus boss fight was especially infuriating because it (literally) dropped you into this boss fight so the game was checkpointed and i couldn't even go back to previous point in the game and change and upgrade my loot accordingly. I think that alone took me almost an hour of retries.

Speaking of loot, they also added another annoyance -- if you get too many loot weapons and armour you become "encumbered" and start to move really slowly, so you're artificially forced to either dismantle all your trash weapons or sell them to the nearest blacksmith. Loot is just became more annoying to deal with especially the procedure of dismantling hundreds of loot trash weapons and clothing out of your inventory.

Game has lots of extra costumes, ships and costumes to buy but i was more than fine with what game was giving me, though for half a day Ubisoft REALLY wanted me to buy anything from their costume store so they've been showing an ad for their DLC sale every single time i was opening a map which was kinda annoying.

Speaking of DLCs. Game has 2 extra DLC campaigns. Each has 3 episodes each and are pretty long. One is on the same map as regular game just with added missions and other one features a new pretty big maps for each of the episode.

Legacy of the First Blade is more focused on the story -- however it just exposes further how tired Assassin's Creed's "revenge story" has become really. In both main game and in this DLC especially you always know that everyone main character becomes close to WILL die violently at the hands of baddies du-jour so they can fuel the story.

Fate of Atlantis i liked more because it had 3 rather big location with fantastic and different style. I loved "floating-islands" design of Elysium and grand gold-laced futuristic Atlantis. I really like fantastic architecture in videogames and movies -- the weirder and more aesthetic the setting is -- the more i like it.

Speaking about weird, Odyssey did something really, really, REALLY strange in (one of it's) ending and i actually kinda like it. They actually pushed the envelope on the sci-fi side of a series and changed the relationship between main characters inside and outside the animus. So kudos for that.

Overall the biggest problem with the game it is filled too much with filler. Where Origins quests and story felt brief and meaningful, Odyssey is almost all filler and at odd with itself. In Origins they purposely capped themselves to only leave the most interesting quests in and in some places there wasn't even much to do, but at least it played good. While in Odyssey it feels like bar for quality was lowered so much -- nothing leaves an impression.

It's a good game in minute to minute gameplay, but they really should have cut like 70% of it instead of stuffing it so much.

General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 13, 2020, 02:23:00 AM »
Azeke, do you have any ability to do a Stadia trial through VPN, or is that a no-go with the distances involved in any case?
My interest in streaming platforms in almost entirely academic and from technology geek standpoint. I aint jumping through hoops just to try it out.

General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 12, 2020, 06:38:42 AM »
I am actually very interested in Stadia and basically all other similar game streaming platforms.

My interest is a bit more from technological point of view, because i just think that the concept is just so cool and has many interesting upsides. And it's own unique downsides too -- but these are very interesting to me as well.

Seeing how Stadia is likely not to launch in my country until 2030 (if ever), i am more hopeful about trying out Microsoft's streaming platform. Me having a library of games on Xbox helps, and one can stream from their own Xboxes to say PC in my workplace without having to wait until Microsoft deploys their servers.


This is my first experience of the game, and it's really grabbed me. Reminds me of Rez on the PS2. I ended up playing an hour without noticing it. Very fun, great DMT-trip presentation, but even as someone who 100%ed the first two Bit Trip Runner games, it's hard as hell. This is not aided by the noticeable Stadia input lag. It doesn't matter at all in something like Gylt, but here it definitely feels like the timing is off, and I'm basically learning to play it "wrong" to account for it.

AFAIK Stadia version of Thumper has massively relaxed timings compared to regular versions.

Movies & TV / Re: Better Call Saul
« on: March 01, 2020, 11:06:21 PM »
Really like this show.

TalkBack / Re: Devil May Cry 3 (Switch) Review
« on: February 21, 2020, 02:53:22 AM »
I remember when style switching was a mod for broken PC port, that you had to jump through lots of hoops and even disable music to make it work.

So awesome there is now an official way to play superior form of DMC3.

General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: February 14, 2020, 07:43:40 AM »
Assassin's Creed: Origins (Xbox One X):

I bought Origins with my Xbox One more than a year ago now. Have been playing it in spurs and finally finished it (plus expansions) last month.

One of the new things in this one is a new Skyrim-like compass-line system showing you directions to the icons on the map. Even beside that fact that i usually disable mini-maps and other UI elements like these, i never understood how to make sense of these compass-lines. Especially now that i have OLED tv that is prone to burn-in, it's even more important for me to remove all static icons. At first i tried to remove all UI altogether but you still need enemy silhouettes and health bars on for combat, so i kept only that. There was still an icon-reminder that i have an ability point and for some reason you can't disable it. This is bad because some of the later abilities require more than one point and you eventually run out of abilities that cost only 1 -- so this icon might stay there for quite a while.

Without minimap and all kinds of nagging reminders of what you need to do and where you need to go, game looks less "check-the-box"-y than it really is.

Eagle vision in previous Assassin's Creed games was basically just a Batman-vision ripoff with weird limitations, like in Unity you could only keep it up for 2 seconds tops. But someone in Origins team came up with a fantastic idea about "eagle vision". In Origins, when you press eagle vision button, camera is yanked up high and you get a literal EAGLE vision, so you can scout around from bird's eye view perspective. You don't have to bring up map every time you need to check up your immediate surroundings nor does the world turns into magical blue-hue allowing to see through walls and automatically highlighting things of note. New eagle vision is simultaneously more "realistic", more useful AND gives player more agency.

It even makes more sense lore-wise! Eagle was a symbol of the series since Assassin's Creed 1 and each game had eagle as visual element symbolizing the main character, and only in Origins eagles actually became useful -- as camera-men, like Lakitu is for Mario 64. It's hilarious how simple this idea is.

Eagle feathers also were a part of the mythology of the series, and they were brought them back too and re-connected to the myth of Judgement of Maat. Very smart.

Setting-wise i had doubts at first, because despite that the game celebrating the history of Egypt it is set during the times of Caesar and Cleopatra which is thousands years AFTER peak of Egyptian kingdoms when they actually were building pyramids and Sphinx and stuff. Egypt as a Roman province interested me less because we kinda got too much of Roman stuff in movies and shows. Still when i started playing i actually really much enjoyed a mix of cultures represented in the game: Egyptian and Roman but also Greek. It kinda reminded me of the first AC game where cities had different architecture, religion and languages.

Diversity of nature: from deserts of Egypt to lush mountainous forests of Lybia to flooded riverbanks of Nile. Culture-wise, it would be all kinds of buildings and artifacts from (already by that time) ancient Egyptian Pyramids to Ptolemaic Lighthouse of Alexandria to glimpses of Roman domination over both Egyptian and Greek legacies -- there are a lot of sights to see and climb around.

After i finishing the game, i also fully completed Discovery tour. I especially loved fantastic detailed illustrations and maps made by professional archaeologist Jean Claude Golvin used as reference. Fascinating stuff and i like that several times they specifically note how they go against historical facts to deliver a better game. At first i thought i will only do the parts required for the achievements but ended up doing them all.

Previously, Assassin's Creed game had similar missions like these where you were being shown a normal daily life of people of that historical era, i really enjoyed the one at the end of Assasin's Creed 3 because it was a conclusion to you building this village and bringing these people there at different times during campaign and as a reward you got to see them going about their daily life. Kinda like Tarrey Town quest.

Discovery mode is like an expansion of this idea and seems like a great re-use of historical material they collected for the game. It is a great mode if you don't actually want to play the game and just want to chill out and gawk at the sights and maybe read some historical factoids.

RPG combat and all the pointless loot management is really annoying at first, combat is still pretty bad. Enemy levels are really prohibitive at the start of a game during the first hour of a game where you don't have armour, weapons and abilities. A random soldier one-hitting you is just annoying. Of all things they fixed after Unity fiasco that RPG things was one thing that they unfortunately kept in.

Climbing is pretty good, both in the cities and the nature. The way how you can climb any rocks is kinda similar of BOTW. The mission design also took a few notes Breath of the Wild -- Origins is way more exploratory and trusting of the player. In previous games -- when you get a mission -- game would just plop an icon at the exact location on the map but in Origins mission givers would just say: "go to the west, there is cave there and do this and that". It is so much more immersive to navigate the space yourself and just look around without the game just leading you like a sheep towards an icon on a map.

Modern segment of the plot is becoming smaller and smaller with each new iteration it seems -- it's just one small cave this time around. However i still really enjoyed sci-fi time-travel segments with weird-ass visions inside pyramids and sphinx. I know i am the minority here but genuinely love that element of the series and i'm sad that they listen to their playerbase and keep reducing it. Egyptian pyramids have always been a magnet for all kinds of "ancient aliens", "secret society", "super advanced precursor civilization" conspiracies so it was fun for AC that is so seeped in all these conspiracies to finally go into the pyramids.

Assasin's Creed looks amazing, plays fine, Discovery tour is a nice extra and is fun in by itself. RPG levels-based combat is still annoying at times, but at worst you can lower combat difficulty and enjoy other parts of the game -- exploring and climbing around. A fantastic reinvigoration of the series. Very polished and a great game all around.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 659: Sometimes It's Okay to Bean a Child
« on: February 10, 2020, 02:50:55 AM »
When Rhythm Thief segment started, i thought it was some kind of ad for some semi-historical fictional podcast....

TalkBack / Re: 140 (Switch) Review
« on: January 20, 2020, 10:37:58 PM »
Played the third level boss just yesterday.

Made me rage so hard. Mostly at my inability to do such a seemingly simple task. But it's probably the coolest thing game has going for it.

Devil May Cry 5 (PC):
In that view, I found Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 perfectly enjoyable, with involving spectacle, well implemented gameplay variety, and tight pacing. DMC 5 by contrast had loading screens between menu options, and loading screens in between asinine cutscenes.
You probably forgot that W101 has just as many loading screens in between chapters.

DMC5 is a brilliant game, imo and it's one of only two games of 2019 that i actually enjoyed and the only one i played past several hours (the other being Mario Maker 2).

Playing DMC5 for hundreds of hours across two platforms (Steam and Xbox) offset the disappointment from Astral Chain which i couldn't even finish...

As to my games

Luigi Mansion (3DS):

I've had 2nd game and bought a remake of the first years ago by now. Release of the 3rd game motivated me enough to actually play and finish these games.

First game is a nice adventure type game. Some decent camera tricks here and there, some very cool environments (space room was very cool).

Collectathon element with Boo hunting gets a bit old by the end.

I liked it, though maybe there was an expectation of something more substantial if you go by nostalgia-adled fans.

Luigi Mansion 2: Dark Moon (3DS):
Now this one is a real deal.

Pretty much everything is dramatically improved here: animation, scale, design.

First starting missions are paced kinda bad -- they're way too long and have you going back and forth between very few rooms for no other reason than to show you cutscene that then unlocks a door for you to progress. But after that game kinda gets into the rhythm and improves both on the pacing of each individual missions and designs of actual environments. Some of the game's best level design is in later half which is kinda of a shame. Two of the bosses that end chapters are very bad (ice sled boss and the ladder guessing game), but thankfully they're one and done affair and usually you also get 3 starts on them on first try.

Scoring all over the levels and looking for boos is actually fun this time around -- you have to look out for things that are notably missing in the environment to find boos. I was actually motivated enough to find all Boos on all levels. Didn't really felt the need to 3-star rank all levels but i definitely see how one could get into the groove of 100% everything in that game. Jewel collectibles are very fun too.

I REALLY liked it. I liked it so much -- this is the game that ruined my circle pad -- the rubber thing came off exposing cracked plastic nub behind it. I still played and enjoyed the game with just that nub.

The Witness (Epic Store):

Got the game for free back in, i don't know April? -- and have been playing it.

Finished with almost full completion. Just one puzzle away from full 100%. It must be one of those stray panels lying somewhere in the forest...

It's a very smart game, puzzle design constantly pushes you to rethink everything you see by doing seemingly minor changes and i enjoy that. Solving some of the puzzles was very tough, but i enjoyed the process of analysis and trying to glean what designer wants of me.

I had to employ external tools to solve some of them. Obviously, screenshots and notes on paper, but even beyond that i used color picker from MS Paint for one kind of puzzle. I am not sure how one can solve these without doing that and knowing colour theory.

For one of the hardest challenges in the game i even wrote a program in javascript that solved part of the challenge for me because these were annoying for me to deal with. I enjoyed writing that program so much, i kept rewriting it with many different tools and frameworks which also helped me to stay more or less up-to-date professionally. So that was fun in by itself too.

Some aspects of the game can feel pretentious to some but to me they felt too elementary if anything. While i was nodding during some voiced messages in the game, i was like "yeah-yeah, i get it" for most of them.

When i was just starting -- a big question for me was -- "why is this game in 3d to begin with?" Wouldn't it be better served just as a 2d sequence of puzzle panels since at the start that's all you see. While the game somewhat justifies placing it's puzzles in 3d i still feel the world in this game holds largely decorative function, which is a function in on by itself i admit.

Visuals are striking and beautiful and the game very consciously guides the player to move him from one impressive vista to another, even highlighting some of them with very strategically placed couches or just by with a clearing in bushes with a coastal view.

It's not a game for everyone -- you need a LOT of effort to play it and complete it and then actually complete, and then ACTUALLY for real complete it.

Herei's how my folder looked like by the end:

New challenger approaching:

TalkBack / Re: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Comes To Switch May 28
« on: May 22, 2019, 04:58:15 AM »
It's a cool game and creators refusal to implement local co-op makes sense if you actually play the game.

This game should also have one of best uses of Switch's gimmicks.

I liked Phantom Hourglass better because the power-ups and later bosses with dual-screen and touch control gimmicks were extremely ingenious, but Spirit Track has better story and is overall more streamlined. Very neat final boss too.

TalkBack / Re: Nintendo News Report: Let Us Off Atlus's Wild Ride
« on: April 04, 2019, 02:44:56 AM »
Beating Lost Levels is easy modo compared to Punch-Out!

General Gaming / Re: Google Stadia
« on: March 25, 2019, 02:07:26 AM »
People who say it's not gonna work because of poor infrastructure and data caps are hilarious.

How many hours did you spend today watching Netflix, Youtube and/or Twitch? Maybe not many if you have data restrictions but there are people who can easily hit 10 hours of streaming daily. Your infrastructure may be poor but both Netflix and Twitch prove that there are millions and millions and millions of people who are not encumbered by it at all. More importantly -- paying people.

General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: March 11, 2019, 01:18:53 AM »
Finishing up Assasin's Creed: Origins (already have long notes about the game for "what game did you beat" post). Only have endgame stuff left (got 100% on main map already) and doing DLC.

And of course daily sessions of Binding of Isaac, Slay The Spire with some Tetris 99 sprinkled in. I dug up my old 3DS Tetris gamecart to practice on my combos and t-spins.

Last weekend was all dedicated to Devil May Cry 5. This game... is weird. New character, V kinda sucks but massive progress on both Nero and Dante redeems it.

They finally made Nero fun -- on third attempt, after two stubs of a game (DMC4 and DMC4SE). I didn't even dabble into arms movement at all but overall improvements to movement are very big deal. Air taunt, divekick are great.

Dante... I am at the point in the campaign where the game goes full-on anime JRPG and i don't know if like it. Combat kinda devolves into watching bars getting filled up and then pressing the win button.

Still, because of general improvements to moveset i am actually getting to be somewhat okayish with Dante which is a major progress after DMC4 where controlling him felt like writing a PhD every time you had to do a move.

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