Ys Franchise Overview

I heard Ys is a good franchise but I don’t know shit it. I don’t know where to start and which ones are the best. Some look really dated too. Can you tell me what the franchise is, why it’s fun, and which games are worth playing?

I barely know shit about it, apart from playing Oath in Felghana and Origins. Both of those are great. The ones I’d recommend are those two, Ark of Napishtim (haven’t played, but same engine), and Ys I & II Chronicles+. Continue reading

Bloodstained E3 Demo Review

Can you elaborate more on the shittiness of Bloodstained?

Here’s a playthrough for context:

Kicks have startup, so you can’t spam them as much as short swords in previous games. Too short of a hop and you won’t get the kick to come out. Though you can totally spam the sword, so whatever. I actually beat the demo with just kicks, for some reason I didn’t realize there was a sword, That probably would have made it even easier than it already was.

I mean in terms of enemy design, just look at how many times he gets hit in this demo. It’s not many. The dullahammers are the most dangerous enemy here, but only because you can’t spam attacks at them and actually need to back up after they spin the hammer. So move in, attack, move out, wait, move in, etc. Super super simple and disappointing. Continue reading

Project M Intro & Overview

A friend of mine said that Project M isn’t very good because most characters are up there on Fox level and because of that they don’t have any match ups which tends to be a bad game (such as Squirtle gimping out players). I don’t know much about fighting games, what do you think?

Alright. Lemme explain a little. Basically, in Melee, Fox was the undisputed best character. There’s a lot of reasons for this, he’s fast, can combo people really hard, can run away and shoot lasers at them forcing them to approach, has really easy setups to kill people, has a great recovery and several different ways to recover. If you want the full lowdown, you can check a lot of different guides.

Project M originally aimed to make Brawl more similar to Melee. To be Melee 2.0. To that end they recreated a ton of extremely subtle melee mechanics. Things so small most people feel them, but don’t realize they’re ever there. Continue reading

Majora’s Mask Boss Review

What do you think of Majora’s Mask’s boss battles?

Original

Remake

Odolwa because his fight sucked in the original video

They’re weird compared to normal zelda bosses. You’re given a variety of ways to fight them. Each one incorporates the mask associated with that dungeon but doesn’t force you to use it. They all have some spatial aiming element. They’re not amazing boss battles in the scheme of things, but for a 3d zelda boss, they’re pretty good. Continue reading

Minecraft Overview

Have you ever written about Minecraft? Do you think it’s a good game?

I feel like it has parts of a good game, but it’s not entirely a game, nor a good one. It has a lot of mechanical complexity, but doesn’t totally loop all the systems together into something resembling a complete “struggle”. It has an overarching goal in the form of The End, but many people don’t play it for that reason, and it didn’t always have that. Continue reading

Skyward Sword Boss Review

Ghirahim:

He’s the first boss, so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on him. Arguably he’s a tutorial.

Basically, first phase he has one action, he’ll hold his hand out, and it will follow where your sword goes. Eventually it stops, then you need to slash him in the opposite, or close to the opposite of the direction he’s pointing. He then will get locked in hitstun if you slash continuously and will duck after a random number of hits. Trying to slash after he ducks will trigger a backstep. This doesn’t take any guesswork or heuristic approximations, you don’t need to pick between varying options, you just need to do the same thing every time. If you slash the same direction as he’s pointing, he catches your sword, and then you both get caught in an animation and let loose shortly after. Trying to slash after this will cause him to backstep. If you’re impatient, you can slash randomly during this phase and more often than not it works, even before he’s stopped following your sword. Continue reading

Thief 3: Deadly Shadows Review

Did you ever try Thief: deadly shadows? What do you think?

Yes. I think it’s good, but obviously not as good as the first two. It has % loot requirements in the levels rather than an arbitrarily chosen number, so playing on the hardest difficulty can frequently mean combing the level multiple times for that one little thing you’re missing, which is unfortunate.

I got stuck by a weird glitch where I’d be able to move in the falling state, sort of hovering along the floor, frequently.

There’s chairs that guards can sit in that totally block your ability to backstab them. This sucks.

Guards don’t perform psychic searches when they lose track of your position while investigating, so it’s a bit too easy to shake guards in investigation mode.

The Cradle level is super freaky. One of the best horror moments I’ve experienced in games, though I did play it when I was younger, in college.

No rope arrows. 😦

Way too many sleep and noisemaker arrows. Makes the levels really easy.

The combination 1st/3rd person control system functions really awkwardly in first person, because you’re still bound to your third person hitboxes and movement. You frequently need to switch to really understand what’s going on.

The locks always use the same few patterns, which you could say is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, observant players can notice this and pick locks faster, but on the other it becomes a memorization test instead of a skill test. Also the lock picking process is poorly explained.

The loading zones that cut up levels suck. Guards can’t chase you across them, so the contiguous areas that guards patrol are much smaller than the first two games, limiting both your movement and theirs.

I personally liked the hub world, but it was really limited in scope.

The inability to swim sucked.

Breaking out of prison when you get caught in the hub world was a cute idea, but it gets old after the first time.

Having gold and items stack across multiple missions maybe wasn’t the best idea, removes incentive to perform well on the next mission and lets you steamroll with a big inventory.

I can’t believe Thi4f seriously chose to take inspiration from this game over the other 2. It commits all the same mistakes but worse. I also can’t believe they decided to reboot it when Deadly Shadows had such a great sequel hook.

Ori: Definitive Edition

What do you think of Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition?

It doesn’t quite live up to all expectations; mostly because it’s hard to make the original map structure as interconnected as I would prefer given the way the world is laid out, but it does do a lot to aid the interconnectivity of the world, and the warp points are a decent compensation.

Basically, the trouble with the original as a metroidvania game is that all the major points of interest function on their own little part of the map and don’t involve movement through any others. There’s no reason to backtrack if you are interested in progressing. Each area is its own self contained obstacle course and you’d only want to return in order to pick up collectibles.

So Definitive Edition still has this problem, but they made the world more interconnected and added warp points, which makes it a bit easier to backtrack for collectibles. Also now that all the areas can be backtracked to, including dungeon areas, there’s no danger of missing collectibles in say the ginso tree.

On the upshot, they added a new dash ability. It lets you move really fast, recharges on contact with the ground. What’s also cool is that the trick where you release the control stick right as you do the move also works with Dash, so you can do a bash style boost anywhere and ride the momentum as you glide and double jump. What’s also cool about this is they had it work in combination with the charge jump, so if you charge then dash, you’ll do a charge dash that goes further and can hurt enemies and break walls.

They also added a new grenade tossing ability. It kind of makes sense given the physics engine, but doesn’t really see much use except for hitting switches that can only be hit by this ability.

These abilities are both hidden in a new area placed close to the start that is designed to avoid using most of the other abilities available to you, so you can clear those areas as soon as you get walljump or maybe double jump. I ended up not visiting this area until late in the game unfortunately (after getting charge jump, right before ascending mount horu).

I think they also placed more collectibles that can only be obtained with late-game powers in earlier sections of the game. I definitely noticed a couple blocked off by the grenade toss power.

Also interestingly, they kept all of the old glitches, and most of the old skips. I was able to perform the cutscene skip save glitch in a few places, and do a number of the old skips. Good work on their part keeping that alive.

There’s a new easy, hard, and hardcore mode. I played Hard mode, and it ramps up the damage significantly. Makes the game about as hard as I’d like. I felt the original was a bit too forgiving.

Overall, it’s definitive. It’s better than the original. It couldn’t completely overcome the original’s flaws because the world structure of the original was a bit too restrictive, but it did a nice job regardless.

Portal Review

What do you think of the Portal games?

They’re puzzle games with all their edges shaved off so they communicate to you indirectly the best way to solve the puzzle.

Every puzzle in portal is playtested and adjusted to the point that playtesters no longer get stuck.

The amount of playtesting and adjustment and willingness to abandon ideas in the name of clarity is admirable, but the end result is a bunch of puzzles that I think weren’t made to be all that hard.

Portal 2 especially gets stuck, and can’t make players get stuck, because it had to introduce so many different new mechanics, like the 3 types of paint, the excursion funnels, aerial faith plates, the new laser redirection cubes. It had to take all of these very slowly and slow down every time a new one was introduced, so it wasn’t able to delivery harder puzzles that players might get stuck on.

Getting stuck for a while isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a puzzle game, as long as the player has something to work off of. I think the Witness (or professor layton or antichamber) is a good parallel here. The Witness presented a ton of hard puzzles that had me thinking for a while and actually deducing things, or leaving and coming back later when I had an idea what to do. The Witness also gave me multiple puzzles to try out that might all lead to progress instead of just one, and made progress to the final area dependent on only solving a certain number of puzzles, only lighting up a certain number of lights instead of all of them. Portal has a linear progression system, so if you get stuck, you can’t do anything but continue to be stuck.

Portal 1 was able to deliver on harder puzzles with its challenge chambers that had a number of different ways to challenge the player, from simple speedrun, to limited portals, to a remixed version of the chamber that made it a bit harder, restricted the basic solution.

Portal 2 didn’t have this for some reason and left it up to their community, either modders or the eventual perpetual testing initiative. Also portal 2 was way more limited in where you could place portals, which simultaneously limited alternate solutions, and made the answers to puzzles more obvious. Also the sections connecting the chambers sucked, they were like pixel hunts frequently.

In this way, similar to shovel knight, portal is very much a scaffolded learning experience that was afraid to really push the boundaries once all of its concepts were established and that kinda sucks. Someone once asked me years ago what game I’d recommend to someone who wanted to get into gaming, and I said portal, because it was a game anyone could beat.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (NES)

Thoughts on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for the NES? Many people see this title as a prime example on how not to design a videogame.

I tried it out. Didn’t really get what was going on at first, some townspeople seemed to damage me, there were explosions. Then I turned into Mr Hyde and punched some people then died. Decided to read the manual, since a lot of games from that time period explained things in the manual.
http://legendsoflocalization.com/media/avgn/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/dr-jekyll-nes-manual.pdf

Became pretty obvious. The idea is that Dr Jekyll is trying to go to the church (by moving right). The different townspeople have different behaviors that can hurt you, like if they rush at you, sling rocks at you, or leave bombs when you walk over them.

When you lose all your stress meter you become Mr Hyde and can only go back to being Dr Jekyll by defeating enemies in a scrolling shooter type of thing. You can move during this scrolling shooter, which accelerates the rate at which you move left in addition to avoiding enemies and obstacles. If you reach the end of the scrolling shooter, you lose the game. You can never completely stop your progress in the shooter and when you die, it’s game over. So you need to play really well to both avoid dying and get back to Dr. Jekyll, which is where you make progress towards winning.

Interestingly, the enemies in the scrolling shooter are set up so they’ll almost always hit you if you stay on the rightmost part of the screen (the part where your movement is slowest), so either you need to take them out before they can hit you there, or move out of the rightmost edge, speeding up the rate at which you approach

My biggest criticism is the framerate is shit. Like, really shit. 15-20FPS shit. And the Jekyll portion is rather uninteresting. There’s no platforming, a lot of enemy types are samey, and the guys that leave bombs behind suck because the hitbox is way bigger than the bomb.

Dogs interestingly will come at you from the front, then after they pass you, double back, and then once they’ve passed you again, double back again. Cats have a more boring behavior, walking from behind you, but not catching up with you, then doubling back until they touch the edge of the screen and just going straight across the screen. Birds shit on you. There’s diggers that pop dirt out of the ground which spreads randomly, so you just pray it doesn’t hit you. Villagers can behave a bit more unpredictably.

What I’d say is, it’s an inspired game with an interesting concept, attempting to make progress versus trying to avoid making progress when progress is inevitable and going slow is risky. The enemy design in the Hyde level is reasonably interesting. Jekyll has his moments. Yeah, the rules aren’t telegraphed amazingly, but it’s also not completely obtuse.

Have a speedrun, dude goes into Hyde mode at about 17:00. It’s honestly really impressive. A ton of people accused him of cheating in the comments, but I can believe it.