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Messages - MagicCow64

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1
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
« on: September 22, 2020, 07:18:16 PM »
I can see people's complaints with Retro bosses but I have found they are really enjoyable. I am also a glutton for punishment. If I may bring up again my recent 200% run of DKCTP  8). In hard mode the final boss requires a perfect run since you are going in with just one heart and you only have DK, no helper monkeys. I probably spent 5-6 hours just repeating that boss fight.

But Khush, what did you think of the rocket barrel and mine cart levels?
Any favorite level(s)?
Favorite songs?
Were you getting all the puzzle pieces?

Tropical Freeze is one of my all time faves, and having beaten the game on hard mode, I don't agree about the bosses overall. They're involved, but aside from the polar bear you can speed through the phases with kool tricks. I'd suggest watching the top speed trial videos for them.

2
TalkBack / Re: Bethesda Acquired By Microsoft In US$7.5b Deal
« on: September 21, 2020, 07:37:45 PM »
Microsoft and its videogame endeavors are so strange. Here's a company that's never been market leader. Out of three consoles, its second is considered the most successful although that success is debatable depending on how it might be measured or looked at. Its hardware hasn't been all that exceptional and has a growing view of being unnecessary with so many of the games on the systems available on PC or the competitor's hardware. It has a handful of big name franchises tied to the brand (although these continuing studio acquisitions could change that) and a big reason for it entering the market (living room dominance versus Sony) no longer seems to be a factor 20 years later as tech and habits have changed.

I'd love to see actual figures showing the totals Microsoft has spent in console development and production (plus console repair), first party software development, third party deals, and studio acquisitions versus the profit from hardware and first party software. I just don't see how they've ever recouped any of their costs at this point. I don't get what their strategy going forward is or why they think it is worth still being invested in the video game market so heavily. It just seems like the strategy is throw money at the problem and that should eventually fix it. If Xbox wasn't backed by Microsoft's deep pockets, it probably have folded by now. I'd love to know the justification from Microsoft on why they aren't decreasing their money spent in the market especially as they keep pushing hardware to further drive up the cost of video game development which they'll be on the hook for with all these studios they've bought developing software for it.

Yeah, I've always found their foray into games kinda weird. The original Xbox would have been another 3DO if Halo hadn't happened to align. It always just seemed like something cooked up by a sweaty junior exec without any clear connection to Microsoft's core businesses or expertise, which resulted in them spending a ton of money on a boondoggle custom box that ended up neck and neck with the Gamecube. And then the 360, gifted the botched PS3 rollout, lost money for them despite its popularity because of the RROD, and then the Xbone pissed away even that Pyrrhic userbase advantage. And yet the division has fended off multiple shareholder revolts and MS leadership changes.

Even after all this time they don't have a clear aesthetic identity other than wrung-out HALOGEARSFORZA. (Their one big winner, Minecraft, is so agnostic as to be divorced from the Xbox brand.) I guess they've entered into an Uber-esque phase where they're trying to undercut their competitors with a steeply discounted game library service with the goal of . . . someday raising its price enough to be profitable? Especially after dropping nearly $8 billion on Zenimax? Or maybe this is just some brand loss-leader tech prestige thing now?

3
I watched a video of a Yoshi level from Galaxy 2, where you have to dick around with the pointer while platforming, and I could not come up with a viable handheld-mode solution. I guess you could have a button that auto-tongues to the closest target, but it would be really kludgy and semi-broken. I could honestly see that being enough reason to not include it in the collection. I don't think Nintendo is sweating the additional cash from a separate Wii port when the Switch is exceeding all expectations.

4
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: September 10, 2020, 07:01:08 PM »
Xbox Gamepass (PC) Continued:

Ori and the Willy Wisps:

I am on record here as finding the first game thoroughly mediocre, particularly in terms of Metroid-style design. The sequel is very similar, but significantly bigger. Within the general linear flow of the progression, however, I found the sequences better designed and more intricate, and the increased focus on horizontal mobility enhances the moment-to-moment gameplay. Swapping out the weird shooting from the first game for a Hollow Knight-esque melee-focused combat system is definitely an improvement, but the busyness of the visual design makes combat difficult to track at times, and, like with the first game, there's just too much of it. The addition of sidequests pretty much only serves to provide more secret junk to rustle up, which is fine, as the big-ass map needed the density, though I did like the races.

Like with the first game, I found the visual palette repetitive and borderline garish along the lines of Trine 2. And the sentimental narrative is even more eyerolling. Still, overall, I'd probably give this a 7/10 compared to the first game's 5/10. Weirdly, though, they removed the one formally innovative element from the first game, the incorporation of quick-saves into the basic gameplay.

Battletoads:

I have vivid memories of renting the NES game multiple times and never making it out of the tunnel level, so I am both a prime target for a revival of this property, and one of the vast majority of original players who never saw most of the game. Outside of surface similarities (beat-em-up core, vehicle segments), nothing about this new game really feels like the old game. Instead, it's more of an interactive cartoon frequently swapping genres  and inserting minigames, which is a perfectly fine approach for a game in 2020. That said, most of the constituent elements aren't that fun, and the brawler gameplay gets tiresome quickly with its dependence on spammy ranged enemies. The tongue system was a good idea, though!


Crosscode:

I'm cheating here, because I didn't finish this game. I quite liked it initially; it felt like the rare retro-styled game that leapt forward in time to carry on the particular visual and design ethos of ambitious 16-bit action RPGs. But the more I played of it, the less I liked it. Everything is just too much: too many systems, too much enemy health, too many screens between towns, too many branches on the skill trees, too much grinding required for trading, too many rooms in the dungeons, etc. By hour 25 or so with no end in sight, it felt like chewing a mouthful of dry carrots, and I just spontaneously quit the game and uninstalled.

It bears mentioning that the narrative presentation is actively offputting. The concept of the game is a confusing mess that feels like otaku fan fiction of itself, and the "We're instantly best friends!' character stuff is cringe city.

Super Lucky's Tale:


So this one is frustrating. I recall the original VR release of this getting pretty poor reviews, but also that the re-release for regular consoles being heavily tweaked and improved. Given the paucity of 3D platformers out there today, I was happy to check it out.

It was just okay at any given point, kind of a cross between Crash Bandicoot and Mario 3D World. Never particularly interesting or challenging, but basically competent and fulfilling a certain gaming need. Bad pizza of platforming, if you will.

But then like a week after I finished it, it turns out I was mistaken (?) and they put the actual rejiggered version out on Gamepass that's supposed to actually be good. Or at least a major improvement. I'll never play that version.   

5
Xbox Game Pass (PC):

My $1 intro price rolled over, but hell, I'll stick around for another month at $5. I might exhaust the catalog in that time, but I can always just drop $5 back in if a few things drop that I want to play. Although, I guess there's always the specter of them jacking the price up, but it doesn't seem to be on the near horizon.

Halo 3

Finish the fight! JK, there will be infinite Halo games. I'm not a big fan of the franchise, and in fact actively dislike the fact that it made certain of its features standard for years (very limited weapon inventory, shield regen, e.g.), but I nonetheless played through the first two games on Legendary back in the day. I got 3 on Gamefly pretty close to release, but popped it out and returned it after about an hour because it felt exactly like the previous two games and I was sick of it.

Many years later I was in the mood to revisit, and it runs great on my computer with OG graphics. And it does still feel virtually identical to the first two games. In the current landscape, however, it was moderately refreshing. It repeats the franchise's flagship sins (repetitive environments, repetitive gameplay, AI boners, weird pacing, botched checkpointing, etc.), and adds a few new ones (throw-away auxiliary items, crappy new vehicles/weapons, lack of dog-fighting, reduced enemy pool), but I mostly enjoyed blowing through the campaign on Heroic (too old to **** with Legendary bottlenecks). No collectibles, no map, no loot, no crafting, no skill tree, no stats, decent time!

As was my experience with the previous games, I had the most fun careening around trying to blow past as much combat as possible, and/or the overpowered vehicle sequences. It's bizarre they only put you in a plane for like two minutes, though. Notably, there's a hideous all-Flood level in extremely narrow corridors that 100% blows, perhaps worse than any previous Flood sequence, which always sucked. Also, the "boss fight" and final escape sequence were absolutely awful. Not sure overall why this is considered such a pinnacle, but I'm glad I can put a cap on the "real" series.

Gris

Pretty much as standard an indie cinematic platformer as can be imagined. Great hand-drawn look, decent level design, if overall very easy. Sniffing out the collectible bits tends to be more engaging, but the game is also poor at signposting how the progress works, so it's very easy to go past points of no return when you think you're trying to explore. This is a problem in a lot of these games, where "go left or right?" can screw you out of a complete run of a level. The areas in Gris are also quite long, so I have no desire to re-run them to clean up the missing stuff and possibly miss something again. On the plus side, there is no dialog, so you can completely ignore whatever "this is about emotions" thing they were going for.

The Touryist

Been interested in this for a while, but not enough to pay for it. Enter GamePass! First of all, the game looks great. They really nailed the voxel thing down to tiny details, and it definitely augmented the whole experience. Overall, it's quite a pleasant time, and keeps you chugging after progress and interaction as you open up more islands. Ultimately many of the side quests devolve into busywork with little tangible reward, but it's entertaining enough rooting around in the environments to keep you engaged, and the majority of the minigames are engaging enough in their own right. Weirdly, though, there are a few extremely irritating platforming bottlenecks that I don't understand how they made it through play-testing. There's one particular sequence where you have to jump on rotating orbs to finish a temple that just blew my mind how it existed.

6
Xbox Gamepass (PC):

I saw that this was $1 for a month to start, and wanted to play Carrion, so I signed myself up. The desktop app is weird and kinda terrible, and makes you jump through dumb sign-on hoops, and a good third of the time the games don't boot right, but given how cheap it is, these are forgivable quirks.

Carrion

I was excited for this, but it's just kinda okay. It makes a strong first impression because the monster is fun to control, and the gamefeel is quite different from much else out there. Unfortunately it's very linear, not really a metroid-type title, and fundamentally repetitive. Combat is more of a hassle than anything, and the level design is rather plain and one-note.

The Messenger

I'd been wanting to try this out for a while, and was happy to find it on the service. Ultimately, though, I found it somewhat hollow and repetitive. Some of the boss fights are fun, but most of the regular level space feels very similar to traverse regardless of whatever gimmicks are introduced here and there. The big "metroid' switch up is not actually that interesting or engaging, and the 8-bit 16-bit lightworld/darkworld flips are pretty arbitrary--nothing ever feels different.

Sunset Overdrive


One of the few Xbox titles that looked interesting this generation, and I was pleased to find this runs perfectly well on my laptop. But boy, what a whiff of a game. Once you unlock all your traversal abilities, it's genuinely fun to cruise around the map, but that only goes so far when the combat is a miserable chore and the level design is by-and-large the dullest open world suite you could imagine. There are maybe four or five story missions that actually leverage the movement toward engaging challenges, and those are easily negated by repeated, dreadful, mandatory base-defense sequences.



7
General Gaming / Re: PS5 Reveal Impressions
« on: June 15, 2020, 11:58:30 AM »
The whole "you have to watch them in 4K" thing is a bit puzzling to me. The games look like what they look like to me on a 1080 screen. There's no fuzziness at this point. The fact that they're rendering at a higher resolution than I can see does not impress me. Nothing that was shown seemed like it needed 4K for gameplay purposes and I don't feel like I'm missing any essential essence.

I agree with you in principle that 4K is excessive. I only upgrade TVs maybe once every decade, and I'm quite happy with my 1080p TV (which doesn't even support HDR, the buzzword the PS4 Pro was sold on), so I really don't care about all this 4K "Ultra HD" crap. I really doubt the vast majority of people will care, either, for at least 5 years until 4K becomes more widely adopted.

That said, I find the "nothing that was shown seemed like it NEEDED 4K for gameplay purposes" argument to be rather silly. Screen resolution never has and never will have anything to do with gameplay in non-competitive games. It's about matching a game's visual fidelity to modern display devices. If you're a big tech person & you have that 4K 60 in. TV, you want your games to support that resolution so they don't look slightly blurry on your TV's upscaling.

Yes, I'm aware of how televisions work. I was listing an additional reason why there's no particular allure for a 4K upgrade. I'd say the resolution certainly did affect things functionally up until pretty recently. I remember being pissed that I couldn't read the on-screen text on Dead Rising on the Xbox 360 because I had an SD screen.

Well, to THAT end my biggest pet peeve of this generation is games displaying text using microscopic font, something that should not happen since I HAVE a 60 in. 1080p TV.

Imagine how much tinier they can make the text in 4K

8
General Gaming / Re: PS5 Reveal Impressions
« on: June 14, 2020, 10:37:45 AM »
The whole "you have to watch them in 4K" thing is a bit puzzling to me. The games look like what they look like to me on a 1080 screen. There's no fuzziness at this point. The fact that they're rendering at a higher resolution than I can see does not impress me. Nothing that was shown seemed like it needed 4K for gameplay purposes and I don't feel like I'm missing any essential essence.

I agree with you in principle that 4K is excessive. I only upgrade TVs maybe once every decade, and I'm quite happy with my 1080p TV (which doesn't even support HDR, the buzzword the PS4 Pro was sold on), so I really don't care about all this 4K "Ultra HD" crap. I really doubt the vast majority of people will care, either, for at least 5 years until 4K becomes more widely adopted.

That said, I find the "nothing that was shown seemed like it NEEDED 4K for gameplay purposes" argument to be rather silly. Screen resolution never has and never will have anything to do with gameplay in non-competitive games. It's about matching a game's visual fidelity to modern display devices. If you're a big tech person & you have that 4K 60 in. TV, you want your games to support that resolution so they don't look slightly blurry on your TV's upscaling.

Yes, I'm aware of how televisions work. I was listing an additional reason why there's no particular allure for a 4K upgrade. I'd say the resolution certainly did affect things functionally up until pretty recently. I remember being pissed that I couldn't read the on-screen text on Dead Rising on the Xbox 360 because I had an SD screen.

9
General Gaming / Re: Games Industry Death Watch 2010-present
« on: June 13, 2020, 09:04:47 PM »
Well, if WB sells off the games division, they'll surely still want to make money on games based on their properties. Presumably Rocksteady, WB Montreal, whoever, aren't just going to trash their projects. I would think it'll just become more like the Star Wars game licensing.

10
General Gaming / Re: PS5 Reveal Impressions
« on: June 13, 2020, 08:59:31 PM »
The whole "you have to watch them in 4K" thing is a bit puzzling to me. The games look like what they look like to me on a 1080 screen. There's no fuzziness at this point. The fact that they're rendering at a higher resolution than I can see does not impress me. Nothing that was shown seemed like it needed 4K for gameplay purposes and I don't feel like I'm missing any essential essence.

11
General Gaming / PS5 Reveal Impressions
« on: June 11, 2020, 06:42:20 PM »
Hello,

Didn't see a thread, so I thought I'd start one for posterity.

I got off work an hour early, so went ahead and booted up the stream despite having no original intention to watch the reveal.

Main takeaway: They hyped up the idea that this was the biggest generational leap yet, and then showed stuff that mostly felt like a generic realization of the future of gaming from 2002.

Assorted thoughts:

-Boy, sure glad they started things out with a montage of PS4 games, and then an extended GTA V trailer.

-Also, how many minutes were burned on pretentious CGI vignettes of the controller symbols?

-A big emphasis on what felt like movie trailers, usually not followed by actual gameplay.

-The cat-in-robo-world game seemed like one of the only titles that might have novel gameplay mechanisms, probably not at all tied to the necksjen horsepower.

-Sackboy looks like a late-to-market Mario 3D World clone, but less good.

-Ratchet and Clank 8 looks a lot like previous Ratchet and Clank games, but with snazzier scene transitions and a novelty teleport mechanic

-Tim Burton's Monster Hunter looked cool, but again, doesn't seem to be particularly tech dependent.

-I've thought before that some persistent time-loop type games might be a genuinely new direction games could take with SSDs, and there were two presented. But Deathloop's actual gameplay just seems to be some multiplayer Dishonored thing, and Returnal looked like a pretty generic TPS, and is maybe just a roguelike?

-Solar Ash looked cool for the couple of seconds that appeared to be in-game, but there's also no indication of what it actually is, and I really didn't like Hyper Light Drifter.

-Some robot platformer thing? I really couldn't tell what that was and they seemed a little embarrassed about it.

-Ghostwire gave me big Gamecube-era high-concept game vibes, and not in a good way.

-There were a couple of third-person games that blended together that involved jumping around jungle-y environments, and otherwise didn't make an impression.

-What felt like 15 minutes of Gran Turismo gameplay that seemed exactly like every previous game?

-Resident Evil will continue in the bad direction of VII.

-Hitman 11

-Horizon 2 looked very impressive graphically, but also unclear if anything was actually in-game. Also did not like what I played of the previous game.

-Oddworld Soulstorm: A busier, more graphically advanced iteration of a formula that I do not care for.

-The console itself looks like a Glacier Ice Alienware router.

And that's about my takeway. Granted, my view is a bit jaundiced, but I was expecting at least a couple of showstoppers, and didn't feel any were presented. In general, it felt like a lot of stuff that had attention-catching filmic intros just turned into "oh, you shoot stuff and/or hit stuff." Kudos, though, for highlighting family friendly content.

12
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: June 08, 2020, 08:03:43 PM »
Stadia Trial: The Conclusion (?)

So my trial carried over into one more month of free games, so I've jumped back in.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid:

I didn't really know what this was, but played it for about 45 minutes. A budget fighting game with a repetitive and non-sensical story mode (why am I randomly playing as bad guys immediately after playing the same fight as the good guy?). Not my genre in any case, so I'll let this lie.

Steam World Heist:


I'm not much of a fan of the Dig games, so I was reluctant to try this, but it was a free chance, so what the hell. I got hooked pretty quick, but like the Dig games, despite getting snared by the gameplay loop, I'm not sure it's actually good.

I'm a weird case where I tend to enjoy strategy games, but also in general hate endless spawning enemies, which is pretty endemic to strategy games. I didn't mind it so much in Codename Steam, for instance, where it was more universal and part of the general "push forward to objective" pressure design. In Heist, though, with the randomly generated but claustrophobic levels, it tends to twist my tail, as the placement of the spawn doors can really put you at an arbitrary disadvantage. And the specifically harder levels heavily lean on the spawns.

Speaking of the randomly generated levels, I really fail to see the point here, as it seems to fly in the face of the whole "strategy" thing. Like, the potential layouts for any given level aren't that different, and just mainly serve to put you at an annoying random disadvantage without altering any actual fundamental approach. I don't see how this game wouldn't have been better with tightly crafted bespoke levels. Which also plays into a weird oscillation between levels feeling trivially easy or punishing.

Character progression is also kind of whack, I think? I feel like there's very little reason to sub in new underleveled characters when I have a tight three-person team from almost the get-go with short, medium, and long-range skills. I think there's only been one four-character level, as well, and I think I'm over halfway through.

Abort penalties are irritating, as I'm going for three-star runs on each level (don't have much time left on this Stadia trial), but also, I seemed to quickly run out of stuff worth buying from the shops.

Maybe I'm just missing it, but it also seems like you can't scope out the enemy movement grids; it's pretty difficult to maintain a sense of what ranges are in play, particularly with all the ladders (Rabbids Kingdom battle has a similar issue, I think, but you can at least preview the senselessly large movement grids).

I'm still playing it though, so . . .


13
More Stadia!

I didn't realize that my pro sub would hold after I canceled, but saw that there were additional free games added.


Zombie Army 4:


For some reason I thought this was a horror spin-off of a sniper game, so I was very nonplussed to discover that this is yet another horde-mode dealie with an attendantly hideous load-out interface and garish score overlay. Terrible experience, tapped out after a half hour.

The Turing Test

More of my jam in the puzzle game vein, but ultimately feels kinda undercooked and rinky dink in production. The problem with these Portal wannabes is that they never have as good a core gimmick as Portal did. In this case, the line-of-sight energy transfers, is fairly ho-hum and overly straightforward. It kind of feels like one of those physical puzzles where you move a ring through knots, but easy.

Also, another strange choice for this streaming platform, with its low production value and lack of any other potential Stadia benefit.

Speaking of Portal-likes,

Superliminal (PC):

Another undercooked indie Portal wannabe! This time the gimmick is perspectival, where any object you pick up can be up- or down-sized depending where you release it in the environment in relation to your POV. It's a neat tech trick at first but it runs out of interesting applications pretty quickly. There are some divergences into other ancillary mechanics, but none of them are particularly interesting or well developed. And like the Turing Test above, it reeks of being cobbled together with a small pool of assets in a generic engine.

14
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 19, 2020, 09:17:44 PM »
Back to the Switch!

I scrolled through the whole sale list this morning, and picked up these two titles at a steep discount:

Unraveled 2:

I've been interested in these games, but never enough to pay more than ~$4 for one. And that day has come! I completed the first two levels, and I'm enjoying it so far. It's a bit more physics dependent than I would prefer, but unlike most of these indie puzzle platformers, it actually feels fun and snappy to control. The 2D slice-of-life presentation is top notch, and flows well with the gameplay. On the other hand, the obligatory indie game "actually this is about emotions" thing is one of the most eye-rolling I've come across. Luckily it's literally in the background. I'm definitely interested to see how the level design develops, though I think I remember Iansane or someone saying it's just a lot of yarn swinging all the the way through.

Severed:

I don't love the Guacamelee games, but I had flagged this one on initial release given some pretty strong reviews. I had no idea it was on Switch, and from what I understand this really needs to be played on a touch screen. ~$4? Hell yeah! I put an hour in, and I'm really digging it so far. It reminds me of a Labyrinth game I was obsessed with as a kid on some early DOS modem gaming platform. I enjoy the touch combat, and it seems like it'll develop in kind of a rhythmy direction, which I am down with. I kind of want more environmental interaction, but I'm hopeful the game will develop more nuance as it goes. Visuals and overall vibe are very engaging.

15
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 18, 2020, 03:13:32 PM »
Stadia Trial Continued:

Gylt:

I finished this one this morning, and as I indicated above, I couldn't really recommend it to anyone. The core stealth gameplay is extremely simple and gets old almost immediately. The later buildings have bit more going on in the level-design department, but the last stretch of the game is truly lousy, with one of the worst bosses I can recall encountering (this and a few other late-game sequences feel like they weren't even playtested).

Thumper:


I'm up to level 7, and I honestly don't know how much further I'll make it. The mushy timing window for this streaming port seems to actually be working against it the further I get; there are so many inputs that it's increasingly difficult to parse the game's feedback. This is almost assuredly the worst way to play this game.

Serious Sam Collection:

I've never tried any of these before, and booted up the first game. Made it three levels in before I tapped out. I think I just strongly dislike this arena wave style, but it also plays like **** on Stadia. It hitches frequently and fails to read strafing inputs, which makes this nearly unplayable on even medium difficulty.

Grid:

I have zero interest in realistic racing games, but it's free, so why not give it a shot? I immediately hated it and didn't finish the first race.



Aaaaand that's it. I think I'm done with the Stadia service as of now. I'm a little bit tempted to pull the trigger on Red Dead 2, as I have no idea when I'll have a computer or console that could run it, but then I remember the six or so hours I played while staying at a friend's place, which I pretty thoroughly disliked.

Scrolling through the catalogue right now, and boy is this a crappy roster.

16
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 12, 2020, 08:47:18 PM »
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.

Thumper:

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.

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?

Also, did not know that about Thumper. I may just be terrible at the game. Although, today I got to the multi-track levels, and something really seems off. It tends to either not register the track hop, or it'll do two in a row. I guess this could be the fact that I'm using a joystick, but I really don't like how this feels to play with a D-pad.

17
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: April 11, 2020, 04:19:16 PM »
Google Stadia (Whatever!)

I saw that Google is giving out two free months of Stadia Pro to juice the moribund platform, so I signed myself up. It comes with 10 or so free games out of the gate, most of which I have no interest in or have already played. In general, it's pretty slick, and seems to perform significantly better than the Assassin's Creed beta. It's genuinely neat to just pop open Chrome and click play and just immediately be in a game. I have the Switch Pro controller hooked up through a USB converter on Xbox settings, and Stadia recognized it with no hitch.

As for the games:

Gylt:

It's baffling that this is the major exclusive game for the service. It's a kid-friendly take on the horror-stealth formula (the true horror is bullying!), that is too cartoony and easy to be effective for adults, and probably too scary/stressful for actual kids. It demonstrates no features unique to a streaming service, and in fact has mostly dark environments that show off the glaring streaming compression.

Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks):

I'd never heard of this, but I played a few levels and don't like it at all. It's kind of a 3D Tetris, but focused on the physics of balancing pieces. Will not be booting this back up.

Thumper:


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. At least I don't have a basis of comparison! I'm reminded of when I set up Rhythm Heaven on the Wii U pad instead of the TV, and couldn't re-play the levels at all because I'd had the wrong delayed timing burnt into my neurons. 

18
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: February 14, 2020, 09:12:26 PM »
Strongly disagree with respected Azeke, particularly about the climbing in Origns^

Disco Elysium (PC):

I bit the bullet on this after it reared its head on the end-of-the-year lists.

It makes a strong impression in its opening hours, when its D&D overlay is still intimidating and when you have seemingly urgent benchmarks to hit with hotel fees.

Unfortunately, the actual gameplay obstacle gets neutralized after a few in-game days, and you're left with a "story" experience that incorporates an abstruse 20-category stat system to mildly direct your narrative.

Add that the game desperately needs a waypoint system, and has a needlessly clunky tool interface.

As for the story itself? I guess it's cool to see political consciousness in a video game, but I struggle to recall an actual message.

19
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: January 16, 2020, 07:09:40 PM »
Disco Elysium (PC):

Terrible title! Substantively, though, I'm not sure how I feel about this after four hours or so. The praised writing is the usual gamer-with-an-English-degree stuff you see around the indie scene, just as purple and overwritten, but there's toooons of it.

I like the concept and atmosphere and all of that, but the hard D&D RPG stuff is too much. It really throws you in the deep end with dozens of opaque stat categories and ancillary systems. Right off the bat you've got a timer and the need to come up with a large amount of money, and I was on the brink of just dropping it before I happened into the necessary sum that I happened to have the skill set for and happened to get a favorable roll with. I would be much more into this if it was just a traditional point and click with an Indiana-Jones-style character preset that would affect how you can approach the obstacles.

You can also die essentially at random via interactions the game funnels you into. Very early I found my way into a cargo area that guides you to the union boss's office. You should be talking to this guy according to the logic of the investigation! But apparently it's a kind of boss battle, and I got wiped in 30 seconds for sitting in a chair. Lost 20 minutes of progress. Similarly, I made the mistake of examining the gear shifter of a car, and went into some kind of fugue state that wiped out my resolve or whatever with no warning. Another 20 minutes gone. This feels very trial-and-error but the auto-save is not kind. So now I'm paranoid about constantly making manual saves like I'm playing Fear or some ****. Oh, PC games!

Guess I'll keep going for the time being and see how far I make it.

20
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.


Did I forget W101 having long loading scenes between basic menu options, or between cutscenes within its (long) chapters? I recall everything being perfectly fluid inside the actual episodes of the game and its UI, but perhaps I have rose-tinted glasses on.

Another issue I have with DMC5 that I forgot to bring up is that I find Dante himself kinda unpleasant to play as. He felt sluggish. I much preferred Nero and V, and found it nettling that the more enjoyable playable characters got sidelined in the last third.

I hear you on the Dark Moon 3DS ergonomics, though; I made permanent indents in the circle pads with my thumbnails.

21
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: January 05, 2020, 07:03:15 PM »
Yoshi's Crafted World (Switch):

I'm about halfway through (I think?), and I'm decidedly nonplussed about this one. Which is a real shame, as I hold Good Feel in very high regard. Kirby's Epic Yarn is better than most Kirby games and is otherwise a delight, Wario Land: Shake It miraculously salvaged the shitty direction Wario Land 4 took, and Woolly World is hands-down the best Yoshi game (and finally made the formula good).

Crafted World, by comparison, feels half baked along the previous metrics at which the studio excelled.

-Level design for the most part feels very elementary, with the expanded perspective offering little in terms of genuinely interesting interactivity or problem-solving.

-Aesthetically, it feels kind of soft and bland. The whole "crafted" gimmick doesn't pop, and is applied inconsistently (the T-Rex is made of actual bones and is breaking actual stones? e.g.). Furthermore, the backgrounds extend out into the blurry yonder, which doesn't accentuate that this is a hand-built arts-and-craft environment. Plus, the "material" texture implementation feels very flat. Like, the rock that holds the sun gems looks better than most stuff in the actual levels.

-Unlike Woolly World, the standard Yoshi OCD stuff is overloaded and borderline unpleasant. You've got flowers, red coins, coins, and life meter on looong levels, and then additional Poochie pups and souvenirs on top of that. And in this game, if you finish a level missing a red coin, it's like "Great, there's a hidden cloud somewhere in the level track, or some **** tucked away in the background."

If I recall correctly, this game had significant delays, and what was originally shown had much more involved mechanics around flipping the perspective of the levels back and forth to navigate and interact with structures. That's almost entirely absent now outside of the odd little cloud challenge, and the largely pointless Poochie reverse courses. It feels like they had a significantly more ambitious plan for this thing, but couldn't execute for whatever reason, and had to patch something back together that's a bit paltry.

22
Nintendo Gaming / Re: Metroid Prime 4
« on: January 05, 2020, 06:23:58 PM »
As much as I enjoyed the Metroid Prime trilogy.  I think I would rather have a Donkey Kong Country Returns quality world and level design for Super Metroid.  And I think a Western Team could get that true Super Metroid feel of dread and storytelling from each screen, that has really been lacking in the 2D Metroid games, since Super Metroid.

Don't get me wrong, the games were great and Super Metroid Zero Mission is possibly my second favorite Super Metroid Game, but none of them properly had the level of environmental storytelling the SNES game had.

I'd definitely like them to take a whack at this (and certainly much more so than Mercury Steam), but I think there's a bit of an issue with massive oversaturation of the 2D genre at this point. (The video game version of "everything's too derivative of Pavement".)

I'd like to see a foray into a 2.5D Metroid, with "3D" maps but sidescrolling navigation (with interactivity with foreground and background elements). I'm imagining a bit of Lone Survivor's DNA in there. However, this would NOT be like Other M or those diorama-style PS2 Castlevania games. It would be very hard to pull off (probably why no one's really tried it), but I'd bet Retro could manage something formally innovative like that.

23
General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: December 24, 2019, 06:15:44 PM »
Also listening along for the Axiom Verge / Guacamelee opinions. Have both, have started neither.

The Fall: Part 2: Unbound (PC):

I very much enjoyed the first part on WiiU for what it was worth, but was surprised to find it end so abruptly (the ability menu has several blank spots still at that point).

I never got into this series, because I always confused The Fall and The Swapper for some reason. Very similar art styles I guess. Would you still recommend the first one, knowing that part 2 isn't very good?

I would easily recommend the first one if you like adventure games. The action parts are a bit tedious, but I enjoyed the approach to puzzles and interactivity with the robo suit. It's a cool concept with a well-executed atmosphere, and pretty decent writing.

Also, despite my poo-pooing, I wouldn't exactly call Part 2 bad yet. It's also a cool concept and in interesting angle on the adventure game genre, it just plays like ass. But this is one of the few genres that can withstand that.

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General Gaming / Re: What are you playing?
« on: December 21, 2019, 07:49:22 PM »
Per the finished thread, I have some irons in the fire:

Baba is You (PC):

On paper, this is an ingenious concept. A boulder-pushing-type game mixed with a programming-type game. Way to find a niche! Based on the blank spots on the world map, I'm very early in, having only finished the second world, and I can see this becoming an extreme challenge/pain in the ass.

I applaud the effort so far, but it carries a good dose of the "This is labor" feeling from a programming game like Human Resource Machine. At the same time, I feel like it's not doing a fantastic job of teaching its rules. I found it very clever when I figured out you could do crossword-style command orientations. But fast-forward an hour and I'm apparently breaking the internal coding system to try to solve a puzzle (it's giving me a frozen screen that I can resolve by pressing a direction and transforming the avatar back and forth every cardinal move?), when the solution in fact requires an understanding that a vertical identity command (Baba is Baba) invalidates a simultaneous horizontal command (Baba is Crab). Or am I doing it wrong? I don't know about this one.

The Fall: Part 2: Unbound (PC):

I very much enjoyed the first part on WiiU for what it was worth, but was surprised to find it end so abruptly (the ability menu has several blank spots still at that point).

I didn't realize the second part ever came out until the GOG winter sale, and snapped it up. In concept, it's a pretty cool semi-left turn. Instead of a straight 2D physical adventure game, now it's a janky cyberspace metroid type game, with 2D adventure game "dungeons" where you inhabit a real-world robot and have to execute an objective within a delimited environment. Cool! Except that this has maybe the worst controls of a modern game I've ever encountered. I'm invested in the concept, so I'll keep going, but good lord, you can't even push right and left without the controllable character hitching. In the action portions, it feels like the inputs only register half the time. Baffling and infuriating, with checkpointing that seems like it was not even cursorily focus-tested.

25
General Gaming / Re: What is the last game you beat? Thoughts/impressions?
« on: December 21, 2019, 07:29:34 PM »
It's freezing and I've had some PTO to burn at the end of the year, so I've played through some games.

Jedi Fallen Order (PC)

This game seems to have been picked over quite a bit already, so I'll limit my remarks. In one way, it was a relief to have a relatively focused single-player game like this available from a big publisher. They seem to be an endangered species.

On the other hand, it's kind of a lousy game. I'm not yet quite deadened enough to not enjoy moving through a 3D environment like this, but lots of it is just semi-automated window dressing. The whole Dark Souls thing also feel weirdly divorced from that kind of adventure gameplay. The enemy part could have easily been replaced by a beat-em-up system in the vein of Force Unleashed and it probably would have been a better experience. The mook fighting sucks in this game, and the enemy respawning mechanic makes zero sense in context. The Sekiro-style duels against bosses are better, but there's only a handful of them in the game, three of which are the same. And my god, fighting animals blows.

Devil May Cry 5 (PC):

So, I played through the first game on PS2 when it came out at a friend's house, and remember really liking it. It felt kind of like a 3D Zelda game skewed toward combat. I hadn't played anything like it before.

Years later, I played DMC 4 on 360, and mainly remember that it seemed to have little in common with the first game, and was kinda boring.

Year later still, and 5 seems to have little to do with either 4 or the first game. Gothic castle to, like, gothic underworld or something with 4, to modern city and vans and **** in 5? Maybe I'm just forgetting.

Anyhow, it came across to me as Bayonetta for boys, right down to the biblical sin concepts manifesting as creatures, with the same tiresome campyness, but executed more insufferably. The levels feel very bare and repetitive, and switching between characters, in combination with the extensive upgrade lists and convoluted EX mechanics, made it feel chaotic and strangely futile. I suppose you're meant to replay it a bunch for better scores and have everything unlocked, but I like to run through this type of game once as an arcadey beat-em-up evolution. (Not counting Viewtiful Joe, which is the best of this genre, and the only one I perfect-scored.) 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.


Luigi's Mansion 3 (Switch):


I was optimistic about this, despite finding that Dark Moon soured pretty badly in the last third, and overall I think it's a pretty great game. It has tons of personality and bespoke interactive elements, which mostly makes up for a fundamental gameplay system that grows somewhat stale by the end. (Oh hey, this thing spins!)

The bosses are quite fun as set-pieces (muah to the dance floor battle), and it was rewarding to go back through the floors to clean up the missing jewels with a comprehensive knowledge of the game's design language.

Certainly the best game in the series, and it's hard to envision where it goes from here. Smash Bros. trailer ghost form?

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