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Messages - Pandareus

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Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 795: Drinking Some Fresh Lon Lon Milk
« on: November 02, 2022, 12:49:14 PM »
I might have overemphasized how ameowing they are for effect. It's still pawsible to enjoy the game just fine.

TalkBack / Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 2 (Switch) Review
« on: August 25, 2022, 04:27:44 PM »

Grab a friend and revisit a classic action RPG.

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance was a hit back when it was released in 2001. The formula was simple: explore dungeons, kill enemies, pick up loot, go back to town to sell it. Do all this over and over, preferably with a friend. While it didn’t break new ground, for console players who could not turn to Diablo, it filled a niche.

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 came out three years later giving players more of the same dungeon-crawling experience. And now both titles have been ported mostly untouched to the Nintendo Switch, a console with an already sizable offering in that genre, including a couple of Diablo titles. So is Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II worth getting today?

This release on the Switch is essentially the game as it was in 2004, displayed at a higher resolution. As soon as the intro CG cutscene plays in all its artifacted glory, something becomes obvious: this game is old! It comes from the era right before game studios started to use motion capture more consistently for animating humanoid characters. Puppet-like movements in important cutscenes or the playable Dark Elf’s weird bow legged stance are not without their charms if you’re old like me and grew up playing these games.

The animations are far from the only anachronistic element in this game. Details like harmless rats being crushed into a bloody pulp when you happen to walk over them come across as tryhard juvenile edginess today, to me. But back then, gratuitous gore was instead a sign that video games were aiming for a maturing audience, compared to the colorful family-friendly games that dominated the market before. Now we’ve come full circle: as I was fighting dogs giving out realistic yelps when hit, I couldn’t help but think that today’s games are more likely to give you a cute dog as a mount or as a pet that fights alongside you.

It is remarkable how much fun the game still is 20 years later, despite being barely updated at all. I had experience with Dark Alliance before, my partner did not, and we both could not get enough of slaying monsters, leveling up, and investing points into the skills that we thought would make us even more effective monster-slaying machines. The basics of the game were always solid and remain so.

This is not to say there is no room for improvement. Before the game even starts, the game has you select a predetermined character race and class blindly. No explanation what this character’s deal is. While it’s pretty easy to figure out what weapons you will be using throughout the game as a Barbarian, you can’t quite intuit what the Dark Elf will be like. She starts out equipped with a bow. Great! You spend the next 8 hours building her up as a ranged character, until a random loading screen tip reveals that she is most skilled in unarmed combat. Presumably this information was in the original release’s manual, which you don’t have here. Adding the information into the game itself seems like a basic and obvious Quality of Life improvement.

There are a lot of nitpicks one could bring up for things that ultimately don’t kill the fun of the game. But the most impactful omission is definitely the lack of online play. Just like in old beat’em-ups, the simple and repetitive gameplay works best when you’re playing with someone. Solo, the interest is limited. Not adding co-op to this release means most people cannot experience it the optimal way: with a friend.

Ultimately, if you and a partner have played the more modern co-op action RPGs already and are looking for your next fix, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 holds up where it matters. The gameplay is fun, and the both of you might find its outmoded aspects charming. But if you don’t have a buddy (or spouse, child, etc.)  close by to pick up a sword and slay goblins with you, the appeal is much more limited.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 741: Mario's Poop Joke Sommelier
« on: October 06, 2021, 11:16:44 AM »
The English-language version of the Mario Manga that came out this year is a "Best of" collection of clips throughout the years.

There's a Luigi's Mansion chapter leading me to believe there's probably a full volume adapting Luigi's Mansion in Japan.

One chapter also has a content warning about the death of a parent, but I don't know whose parent dies.

Yeah I mean, it seems to cover everything. Vol. 7 is about Super Mario Land 2, with specific locations like Tree Zone, etc.

In the previous one, one chapter is about DK in Super Mario Kart.

Vol. 4 has a crossover with Zelda.

It's not necessarily all references to the current game either. Vol. 4, published in 1993, has Subcon and Wart.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 732: The Blaster Master Bombshell
« on: August 16, 2021, 10:08:57 AM »
Aw come on. Depressingly entertaining, right?

TalkBack / Re: R-Type Final 2 (Switch) Review
« on: May 31, 2021, 10:34:06 AM »
Been chipping away at the game for a few days now, and unless you had been chomping at the bit for a new R-Type, you should probably stay away.

I'd describe myself as a shmup tourist: my ideal shooter lets me keep a fully powered ship and see the sights. IMO, that's what the "Practice" difficulty should be. Instead, you die from a bullet grazing you, depowering you and leaving you often poorly equiped to deal with the enemies just past the checkpoint. It's incredibly frustrating.

General Gaming / Re: Four on four
« on: April 29, 2021, 11:46:12 AM »

Finished Yakuza Like a Dragon on XSX.
Played all I'll ever play of Resident Evil Revelations on 3DS.
Played through Bowser's Fury on Switch.
Fingers crossed that I can manage to finish Panzer Dragoon Zwei by tomorrow.

Podcast Discussion / Re: RetroActive 49: Resident Evil: Revelaitons
« on: March 26, 2021, 02:29:14 PM »
I know I'm super late and need to catch up but at the end of chapter 1, did I just rescue a fucking paper maché Chris!?

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 707: Real Experts in Smurf Dancing
« on: February 03, 2021, 10:19:56 AM »
Check back once the next episode comes out. James took notes on our lists and I'm assuming we're just waiting so as not to spoil people.

I can always post mine here in the meantime.

Paper Mario: The Origami King
Lonely Mountains: Downhill
A Short Hike
Streets of Rage 4

Runner-ups: Wide Ocean Big Jacket, Pikmin 3, Part-Time UFO, PixelJunk Eden 2, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mr Driller: DrillLand, Super Mario 35

Nontendo: Forza Horizon 4

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 707: Real Experts in Smurf Dancing
« on: February 01, 2021, 09:59:42 AM »
Pretty sure the "we turn Super Nintendo World into a criminal enterprise" description is counterfactual here. Wasn't the whole point that it was ridiculously easy to keep our shady operation above board?

Any actual illegal activity we could lobby to make legal.


Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 706: The Age of Pissery
« on: January 26, 2021, 10:05:04 AM »
Did he?

I think Logan was responding to the previous episode, specifically the email where we talked about F-Zero wrestling. I didn't see any tweet from letter writer James.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 704: Paid CeX Acts
« on: January 12, 2021, 02:22:52 PM »
I considered changing the graphics to the old style but Karen doesn't seem to be a fan, so I didn't push it. Even though she assures me she's enjoying it, I can't shake the feeling that she's humoring me.

Playing with the original style wouldn't fix the dumb script anyhow.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 698: Everything's a Conspiracy Now
« on: November 17, 2020, 11:43:41 AM »
Yeah, ultimately we had no desire to push through the end game and we definitely couldn't see a way to get a gold anywhere.

And the "arcade" levels you unlock by doing the side objectives? We tried a single one of those, and oof.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 697: Gerard Depardieu, Vampire Hunter
« on: November 02, 2020, 12:58:32 PM »
I'm sure it will happen once we run out of ideas, so probably sooner than anyone thinks!

TalkBack / Re: Takeshi and Hiroshi (Switch) Review
« on: August 20, 2020, 10:36:08 PM »
When I click on the screenshots in the article, they are Paper Mario: Origami King when they go full size.

Thank you, it is now fixed.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 683: Reggie's Strangely Square Back
« on: August 04, 2020, 01:59:25 PM »
Haha, folks on The Thirsty Mage also replayed TTYD recently and had the same epiphany, I think. They didn't hate it, but they talked eloquently about the flaws they saw in the level design, especially.

I'll play Origami King whenever it shows up from the library. I do enjoy the style and humor of those games, I just think personally that the original Mario & Luigi is even funnier than TTYD, and doesn't drag on in the way that I think TTYD or even ulterior M&L games did.

With the talk of eye strain and bright TVs, does that mean James and Gui play with the lights in the room off?
I suppose I haven't thought about it in a long time, but I always play with the lounge room lights on. They are wall mounted, and less bright than the main lights on the ceiling, so maybe they give a similar effect to the LED light Gui mentioned.
Maybe! My living room doesn't have the greatest lighting: no ceiling lights, just a floorstanding lamp and a table one nowhere near the TV.

Bias lighting looks like this.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 672: A Dingo Ate My Podcast
« on: May 13, 2020, 04:41:26 PM »
Chase: Cold Case Investigations - Distant Memories

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 667: Bowser's Inside Dating Sim
« on: April 30, 2020, 09:28:21 AM »

I was particularly proud of synching James' humming to the actual music. Got a little bit more time on my hands these days, so…

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 659: Sometimes It's Okay to Bean a Child
« on: February 11, 2020, 09:35:03 AM »
Are you refering to the sudden argument about having kids? Yeah, I didn't see that turn coming, though it makes sense in context and you can see in hindsight what led up to it. At least you get the possibility of patching things up somewhat depending on the order to pass the stick around at the end.

edit - I listened to a bit of the stream while at work and had a big grin on my face. I really like these characters. It's truly a great game.

Your stream also made me wonder what I missed, because you missed a couple of things at least. For instance, you're not alone on that beach. Makes you glad there are chapter stops.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 656: Top 1010 of the Decade
« on: January 22, 2020, 04:16:18 PM »
I may as well post the individual lists.


10 - Monster Hunter Generatoins Ultimate
9 - Metroid Samus Returns
8 - Super Mario 3D World (Land honorable mention)
7 - Super Mario Maker
6 - Donkey Kong Country Returns Tropical Freeze
5 - Xenoblade Chronicles X
4 - Super Mario Odyssey
3 - Mario Kart 8/Deluxe
2 - Super Smash Bros Ultimate
1 - Breath of the Wild

Honorable mentions: Splatoon, NSMB2 Deluxe, Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge, Dead Cells

10 - Etrian Odyssey IV
9 - Pac-Man CE 2+
8 - Dragon Quest XI S
7 - La Mulana
6 - Ghost Trick
5 - Super Mario 3D World
4 - Xenoblade Chronicles
3 - Pikmin 3
2 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
1 - Rhythm Heaven Fever

Honourable mentions: Overcooked 2, Shin Megami Tensei IV ,Sin & Punishment 2, Dragon Quest 9


10 - Shovel Knight
9 - Pikmin 3
8 - Xenoblade Chronicles
7 - Bayonetta 2
6 - Sin & Punishment 2
5 - Super Mario 3D Land
4 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
3 - DKC Tropical Freeze
2 - Super Smash Bros Ultimate
1 - Super Mario Galaxy 2

Honourable mentions: Splatoon, Mario Maker, Runner 2, Axiom Verge, Celeste, Skyrim, Dark Souls


10 - Radiant Historia
9 - Super Mario Odyssey
8 - Xenoblade Chronicles X
7 - Bravely Default
6 - Xenoblade Chronicles 2 + Torna
5 - Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
4 - Fire Emblem Awakening
3 - Rhythm Heaven Fever
2 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
1 - Ghost Trick

Honorable mentions: Layton vs Wright, Smash Bros Ultimate, Phoenix Wright Spirit of Justice, Fire Emblem Three Houses

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 651: Identifying Your Sugar Daddy
« on: December 10, 2019, 11:17:55 AM »
Yeah, if I hadn't been around for the first few of those puzzles, Karen's start with the game would have been a lot more rocky. Went through most of the game (dungeons 3 through 6) without much input at all, though. Once you know what the game lets you do and expects you to do, it's not so bad. It's just not that good at communicating that initially.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 650: Use Steroids, Kids
« on: December 03, 2019, 03:58:29 PM »
Thanks for answering my question, Guillaume.  I've definitely seen doctors and gone to physical therapy about my compressed disc - it's more or less something I have to live with and manage.  Sounds like Wii Fit Adventure might be modifiable enough to where I could possibly avoid aggravating it while having an in-home routine during the winter when I get a little more lazy about driving to the gym (who wants to go outside when it's below 10 degrees?).
In addition to just not doing exercises you don't want to do, looks like there's also an "assist" feature you can call up when having trouble with an exercise. I'll try to find that and report on it when I can.
Some of those accessibility features are a bit more buried into menus than I'd like.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 166: Still Talking About Nintendo
« on: October 31, 2019, 03:24:27 PM »
I like how, listening to Jonny's first track, I hear orchestral music and immediately think Dragon Quest XI but soon think it's too good and too unfamilar to be that, that's it's almost Hisaishi-esque, and only during the second track to I remember about Ni No Kuni being ported to Switch.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 638: Eaten by Buster Wolf
« on: September 11, 2019, 10:17:24 AM »
Cautiously optimistic about Luigis Mansion? lol. Such a negative view. lol. The 3DS game was amazing and the Switch game looks great too. Weird that you add a cautiously optimistic line. lol.

Dark Moon was pretty good but I had my issues with it, that I didn't repeat on this podcast. In that game you ended up going back again and again to the same mansions for various missions, and if you wanted to collect those gems or get a high score, you basically had to search each hiding place again and again, which got repetitive.

The additional gameplay mechanics in 3 make me hopeful there will be more variety in terms of puzzles and that maybe Next Level won't feel the need to pad the playtime in the same way.

TalkBack / Nintendo Switch Lite hands-on
« on: September 07, 2019, 10:22:00 AM »

I spent a solid hour with a solid handheld.

Ahead of a Montreal gaming event I was not aware of, Dreamhack, I had the chance to get my hands on the Nintendo Switch Lite in an hour-long appointment with Nintendo of Canada representatives and play demos for The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and The Witcher 3. I won’t preview these games per se (follow the links for previews or footage of the demos), but I will give my quick impressions after mainly focusing on the Nintendo Switch Lite.

My stupid hand is covering the left side, but that I can hold the unit like this is noteworthy in itself.

I turned the Nintendo Switch Lite around in my hands for a bit before starting to play any demo, and in retrospect I’m not sure if I was expecting to see anything surprising.  It is, as advertised, a smaller and lighter version of the Nintendo Switch. I couldn’t feel the weight difference for myself (approximately 0.61 lbs vs the regular Switch’s 0.88 lbs according to the technical specs) because the demo unit was weighed down by its anti-theft accoutrement, but the size difference is obvious. It’s matte yellow color is nice, but doesn’t have the glow it seems to have in marketing materials. All the buttons feel the same as on the regular Switch. Perhaps the ZR and ZL shoulder buttons felt a bit better to press down than on my regular Switch, but it might just be the difference between something that is brand new vs. my slightly beat up, 2 year old Joy-Con.

Did I say all the buttons felt the same? I meant all the ones that are there: missing are the separate Up, Down, Left and Right buttons of the left Joy-Con, replaced on the Switch Lite by a + Control Pad (D-Pad). Pressing down on a direction has a nice squishy feel to it (as opposed to the clicky feel of the left Joy-Con’s directional buttons), but unfortunately, I couldn’t test its responsiveness as none of the demos on hand actually used it.

The placement of the + Control Pad could also be an issue: low and close to the left edge of the unit (more of less the same position as the directional buttons on a regular Switch with the Joy-Con attached). Playing games on a handheld means handling the controls while also holding the device you’re playing on. When using the + Control Pad, you’re holding the Switch Lite by its bottom half with the top half of your thumb, which is both uncomfortable and weakens your grip. It feels precarious. Again, I haven’t actually played any games with it. I'm just noting that the mere presence of the + Control Pad may not solve the specific issues you may have had using the directional buttons.

One final note regarding the Nintendo Switch Lite controls: it’s by all appearances using the same control sticks as the Joy-Con. Some Switch users (including myself) have experienced “Joy-Con drift”: the control stick registers an input even when you stop touching them, often causing the character in the game you’re playing to move by themselves. Time will tell if the sticks of the Nintendo Switch Lite are as prone to this issue. They may not be. The sticks may be identical but a lot of the innards of the Joy-Con (Bluetooth antennas, IR receiver) didn’t need to be packed into the Lite.

On to the actual game demos. I started with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the HD remake of a game I played through dozens of times as a child. Nintendo stayed faithful to the spirit of the original when reinterpreting the simple sprites of the Game Boy game: the characters look like adorable little plastic figurines. It’s wonderfully appealing.

In terms of level design, the starting areas seem tile-for-tile faithful to the original. But a few little changes stand out to someone who’s played the original to death. For instance, you can find blue rupees worth 5 green rupees around, and your sword swing can cut down three tiles of grass at once instead of just one, making it easier to get enough money to play the Trendy Game. It’s the little things…

I don’t think I’m the target audience for this title. I’ve played this before. I’m good. But this probably will become the version of the game I recommend to others in the future.

The second demo was Luigi’s Mansion 3. Once again, developer Next Level Games iterates on the formula started by Nintendo on the GameCube, adding new gameplay mechanics for combat and puzzle-solving. This time, you can shoot a plunger on surfaces that normally wouldn’t be affected by your vacuum and then suck it up, to bring down a weak wall, for instance, or take an enemy’s shield away. This one new mechanic opens up new possibilities for both puzzles and combat. And there’s the addition of Gooigi, a Luigi clone also armed with a vacuum but with the extra ability to go through spikes. In single-player, you can switch between the two characters to solve puzzles, which reminded me of a similar mechanic in Pikmin 2 and 3. This is a good thing.

Finally, I played The Witcher 3 demo, which was my first experience with this game. I started where someone else had left off and quickly got eaten by wolves. Starting over from the beginning got me to do the tutorial, which was helpful. The frame rate seemed stable, if a little low, but this didn’t prevent me from pulling off the timing required to parry attacks, so that’s good enough for me. The writing was small but legible, unlike in Doom, the other current gen port I have experience with. The resolution seemed to dynamically lower at times in order to keep the framerate up. When that happens, the visuals become noticeably fuzzier. It’s an acceptable compromise for me. It’s slightly distracting, but the game remains playable.

Eventually, my time ran out and I had to make way for the representative’s next appointment. The one hour I held the Switch Lite in my hands, the unit felt sturdy and comfortable to hold (when using the stick), and the screen quality was the same as a regular Switch. The question of how long the control sticks will last is up in the air, but you may want to take the plunge anyway if the extra portability and the price difference appeal to you.

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