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What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?

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--- Quote from: Adrock on July 25, 2021, 12:19:21 AM ---No More Heroes (Switch)

This game did not age gracefully. Much of the humor didn't hold up under a 2021 lens. Maybe I found it funny when I first played the game in my early-mid 20s. At 37, it was mostly intolerable. I remember liking Travis Touchdown as a character except he's kind of a ****.

The story was nonsense. I don't know how much of it was intentionally nonsense or something Suda51 would claim was intended to be nonsense if anyone called him out on it.

No More Heroes' greatest sin was how little it respected the player's time, and the port, unfortunately, did not fix this. There are still no "Retry" and "Restart Mission" options. If you fail or know you are going to fail, you have to sit through the loading screens to leave the mission and reenter the Mission then click through the intro every time.
--- End quote ---

Thanks for this write-up!
Having never played the series myself, I've seen some people say NMH1 "deliberately wastes players' time" with the mindless overworld chores, to make... Some sort of point about how a daily grind may be boring and slow, but is more profitable/useful for progressing than the move-fast-and-break-stuff approach of the assassination lifestyle? Did you get that impression at all, or nah?

Travis did always strike me as an arrogant idiot meant to represent the worst player impulses. The type of person who has been conditioned by anime and games to think the world revolves around them, sees women as targets/objectives to unlock, and sees violence as a natural conduit for conflict resolution. Always assumed that was the central idea behind the No More Heroes title, but maybe I'm wildly off the mark there?

12 Minutes (PC):

I'd heard of this game in fits and snatches over the years and was very interested in the concept. I've thought for a long time that the adventure game genre could take a big leap forward with more contained and more interactive experiences. A time loop was a great opportunity to explore a new direction.

Unfortunately, it kind of sucks. This is probably the only game I'd rate a 5/10 and still recommend enthusiasts to check out. It's a kinda fascinating study of what could have been.

Given that this game was in the works for like five years, I have to assume that the gravity of the task, creating a 10-minute Groundhog's Day, was ultimately outside the scope of what they could achieve. That's either a troubling comment on the possibilities of interactive entertainment, or a big failure from the team.

It's easy to come up with possibilities on one hand that the game logically should have explored, but didn't or couldn't. Instead, the game feels very constricted within a constricted space. A few quality-of-life improvements, like a ZTD time map, or even a macro recording ability or a rewind, would have rendered the game absolutely trivial, which is probably why they didn't include them.

But someone should actually address this concept in a more compelling and articulated fashion! It's one of the unexplored possibilities of games!

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 becaŠ³se 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.

i don't necessarily agree that the run button must be a shoulder button. Mario games use B for everything and still work.

I used to play Mario and racing, I've been playing it since I was a kid, and I still love playing it with my son today.


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