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Messages - Pandareus

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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.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 629: Public Estrangement
« on: September 04, 2019, 01:15:11 PM »
The game's ending let me down, that's all. The aspect of the story that I liked was neglected. There's no reason for me not to say so.

I assume, since you're catching up, that there's a gap between your listen of 627 and the episodes that came before? I'm not going to relisten to those episodes to check, but on 626 I talked about Sumer and Capcom Beat'em Up Bundle. On 624, Breakforcist Battle and Gunbird 2. These titles weren't perfect and I'm sure I had my gripes, but surely it came through that I enjoyed them.

The joystick rattle option was also in the PSN (and presumably XBLA) port of WBIML by M2 in 2012.

I assume the variety of extra challenges is the trophies/achievements?

It's not so surprising, given how those games are being talked about a lot lately due to the ports, and that seems to still be the best way to play them.

I'd play them on Vita if I had one. I've tried playing FFVII on PSPgo, but the screen is just too damn small to offer a good experience. Doesn't feel epic.

There's a game called Anodyne that would work for retroactive. It came out on PC in 2013 and just got a Switch release. It's heavily inspired by Link's Awakening, and like all of the best retroactive games, it's likely to generate mixed opinions across the board. (NWR gave it a 4/10 but it has a 75% score on metacritic.)
We're aware of it but didn't consider it for discussion since I talked about it for two New Businesses (plus another NWR podcast).

Pretty sure I didn’t touch it. The challenge is to remember when and why James brought up the bad video game duel in Never Say Never. What triggered it? It’s not obvious from the chapter titles.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 609: Anime Word Cloud
« on: February 12, 2019, 12:34:06 PM »
Kytim89: Jonny's last episode was 439, if you wanted to check that out.

ClexYoshi: I'm probably wrong, but doesn't poison affect the enemy only when they act? I thought I noticed this, or at least, I didn't notice poison damage occur at other moments. Made me think poison was particularly useless when keeping a boss pinned down.

TalkBack / Nairi: Tower of Shirin (Switch) Review
« on: December 10, 2018, 01:18:42 AM »

Welcome to Shirin. See the sights, meet the locals. Just try not to get lost.

Nairi: Tower of Shirin is a colorful point-and-click adventure with an art style straight out of a book of stories for children, set in a world where cute humans and just-as-cute anthropomorphic animals cohabit. The story starts with the main character, a human girl named Nairi, being woken up in the middle of the night by her tutor/family servant (an old racoon): no time to explain, arrangements have been made for her to be smuggled out of the city.

Her convoy ends up being attacked by desert bandits (cats). After befriending her captors she'll try to find out where her parents are,  but to do so, she'll have to re-enter the city through its poor district with the help of reformed criminal Rex, a mouse using his experience with sneaking around to explore off-limits sites and study the city's history.

If it sounds like the story deals with some heavy topics, it really doesn’t. The game is family-friendly without being childish. It is full of cute talking beagles and duck-people, and the threats made by criminal gang members only manage to come across as adorable posturing. And while the setting begs for an exploration of class stratification or a comparison of the haves and have-nots, the game mostly ignores these themes.

The game features a nice variety of puzzles. Early on, you’re faced with an “escape the room” type of situation. Halfway through, there is a lengthy string of fetch quests that manages to be enjoyable because it has you interact with lots of colorful characters. Towards the end, the game offers Layton-esque puzzles that have you figure out patterns and decipher codes. They are challenging without being impossible, but if you find yourself stumped, there is no in-game hint system to help you, which I think may be a miscalculation on the developer’s part. It can be easy to get turned around, or not notice a detail, so some optional guidance would be welcome.

Speaking of getting turned around, navigating the environments is definitely the weakest part. You explore static screens in a first-person view and move the cursor around to see where the exits are. But moving around only makes sense when you’re going to certain specific places in a certain way. Let’s say you’re facing North on screen 1, and click to head left. On the next screen (2), you’re facing West, and you can head back to screen 1 by clicking down, or head North to screen 3 by clicking to head right. This all makes sense assuming you started on screen 1.

But if you started from screen 3? You’re facing North, click down, and end up facing West on screen 2. And the game doesn’t tell you this. There is no compass, no map, no icon telling you where you just came from, so you just might click to head to the right, returning by accident to the place you just left. It’s trial-and-error navigation. By the way, there is a good four seconds of loading between screens. It gets irritating.

I guess it speaks to the strength of the writing and the atmosphere of a game when moving around it is frustrating, and yet that’s not enough to make one want to stop playing. I cannot overstate how beautiful this game is. Playing it and watching its cutscenes, I found myself wishing for an unlockable “storybook mode” that would allow me to pore over the game’s illustrations at my leisure.

One last thing I should mention: this game is Part 1 of a series, something I wish the game had disclosed upfront to set proper expectations. Tower of Shirin felt like just the right length to me and didn’t leave me feeling like I had played half of a game, but the cliffhanger ending leaves Nairi way short of fulfilling her quest. I don’t see this as a strike against the game, but being forewarned may save some people from being disappointed.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 591: The Funk Will Do That to You
« on: October 11, 2018, 09:27:01 PM »
Some bad story changes from what I've heard (I haven't played the original). Also the battles were really slow and killed the momentum. The original, from videos I've seen, was better paced.

I'd love a chance to play the original.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 585: Crocs and Ponchos
« on: August 21, 2018, 10:56:58 AM »
I'm sure they do. I'm less sure they replace them with new reviews. But maybe they do.

Let me tell you about a man who had tubes directly attached to his nipples.

He was young and naive, born into a noble family who presented a threat to a despotic Emperor, and so they were betrayed, left for dead in a hostile place almost devoid of life.

He survived, along with his mother and his deformed sister. He not only learned to survive in this harsh place: he thrived. He won over the natives, led their revolution, and avenged his father's death.

Who was this man?

They called him… Muad'Dib.

TalkBack / Shape of the World (Switch) Review
« on: June 28, 2018, 02:23:47 AM »

Ballad of the Wind Fish

The pitch for Shape of the World, a “first-person explorer” game, promises “a couple of hours escape from work, anxiety and stress”. As you move around the environments (a cove, submerged caverns, a mountain), certain details of the world such as creatures and trees appear before you. This is a feature, not the result of  terrible draw distance. It is meant to look like the world is growing and coming alive as you explore it.

Early in the game, I wished trees and other obstacles started appearing a bit further away from me than they did, however, as sometimes my already plodding pace would be slowed down inexplicably, until I stepped back and realized I was clipping through some rock formation that was not there a moment ago.

As you progress in the game by activating various switches that make floating pathways appear, leading you to triangular doors that, when crossed, either change the color palette of the current area or send you to the next one, the geography and fauna of the game becomes more diverse, the soundtrack, more intense. The moments of frustration with movement and controls don’t quite go away, but they seemed to me easier to put up with in the more stimulating later stages than in the initial bare-looking ones. I would say it took me an hour of playtime before the game fulfilled its promise of stress-free exploration.

There are no traditional narrative elements to the game, or at least you are not being told a story. It evokes themes of setbacks and ascension with its environments, with the crescendo of the music, with the literal climbing of mountains.

That’s the game in a nutshell. There are no puzzles, there is certainly no combat. There are various types of seeds for you to find and throw to make trees grow, but it’s optional. For most of the game, you are moving to the next point of interest, activating switches, observing creatures crawling or floating about, listening to the music and hopefully feeling what the developer wants you to feel, until the credits roll.

I had a tough time getting into Shape of the World at first, in big part due to the sparse initial environments and the clipping problems. And I admit I rolled my eyes a bit as the creatures I met went from bug-like critters to sea creatures floating… in the air (a trend that culminated with glimpses of a whale floating in the sky). I found it a little cliché and New Age-y. The final moments were impressive and by the time I got to them, I had started enjoying myself, but it took a long time for the game to ramp up to that point.

I could have been clearer: grinding may not be unavoidable in Pokémon, but it's kind of the whole point of the game for most people. You're building up a team, possibly to face opponents in multiplayer.

Otherwise, the appeal is to collect them all (which I say is another form of grinding), or you're playing for the story, which as I said, I found boring.


Detective Aubergine in the Salad Kingdom.

I was enlisted to review Baobabs Mausoleum Ep. 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos after I admitted being intrigued by its trailer on social media.

You have to admit it’s a pretty striking trailer. The good news is that most of what's in it (the detailed EGA-looking stills, the VCR tracking lines, the bleeding colors, the TV overlays, the catchy tune) is in the game proper. The song plays during the opening credits, and the “bad videotape” effects can be turned on in-game in the options. Frankly, I find both the art itself and the effects spectacular, though eventually I had to turn off the latter as they sometimes prevented me from being able to read the dialogue.

Unfortunately, the presentation is the most original and the most coherent part of the game.

Baobabs Mausoleum has you play as Watracio Walpurgis, a vampire eggplant with a cigarette forever dangling from his lips who also happens to be an FBI agent. Stranded just outside the town of Flamingo’s Creek (Population: 64) without a phone or wallet after crashing his car, Watracio goes to the nearby café to…run errands for whoever crosses his path, it seems.

The game is clearly inspired by the weirdness of the show Twin Peaks (and the promotional material confirms as much), but doesn’t show it much outside of its weird visuals. It’s doesn’t have a compelling mystery at the heart of it the way Twin Peaks did for a season and a half. You go through the succession of stages with seemingly no other motivation than finding the exit.

Non-playable characters have too little dialogue to make much of an impression, and the personality of Watracio himself is hard to pin down. The cigarette, the look and his admission that he often wakes up drunk in strange places point to the hardboiled detective type, but the game has him eager to fetch French fries for some surfer dude at the café, in exchange for a vinyl that will in turn lead to the next item in this string of fetch quests. He’s got all the personality of an actual eggplant.

The gameplay is disappointingly rote for a game this original in the way it presents itself. You spend most of your time looking for an item, often literal keys, that will unlock the path forward. The game throws diversions at the player such as a one-off RPG battle or a first-person sequence mid-game, but again, what you do in them isn’t especially original or even fun. It grasps at absurdity, but somehow everything feels well-trodden and familiar.

There is hope, however, right there in the title: Baobabs Mausoleum is an episodic game, and while the first episode is aimless for the majority of the couple of hours it takes to get through it, the cliffhanger ending introduces actual stakes. Should future episodes take the time needed to flesh out the characters and give us the chance to explore Flamingo’s Creek, the potential shown in the game’s trailer might be realized.

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