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  • The sequel to Paper Mario. It features many improvements to battles and core gameplay that I greatly appreciated, but everything else was a bit of a letdown. The writers tried to do something different with the […]

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  • jegus why are there so many innocuous-looking fantasy titles that are actually incredibly depressing

    Wandersong is an adventure game where, instead of an action hero, you play as a bard whose only ability […]

  • A Metroidvania that’s further to the Metroid end of the scale than the Castlevania one; I haven’t played many of those, so this was interesting. This game had a really great plot and aesthetic: You play as a […]

  • I just finished the first Paper Mario. It was good, and surprisingly different from Superstar Saga! The action commands were much less difficult and complex, but that helped the game regain that tactical element I […]

    • God, it’s been a while since I commented here. Hello everyone, I’m still reading.

      Paper Mario is a classic for a reason and has held up really well. It’s also a very rare instance of Nintendo using Bowser both as a serious villain and comic relief simultaneously; I’m not quite sure how they managed that, but PM64’s versions of Bowser and Peach are my favourites.

      It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I actually prefer the first game to TTYD (for a variety of reasons, I won’t go into detail since you haven’t played it); I’m really curious to see what you end up thinking of it. If nothing else, given what you’ve said here I think you’ll like the mechanical evolutions it brings, among which is that BP is no longer capped at 30.

      Also, if you like this genre of small-numbers RPGs, you may want to check out Bug Fables, if you haven’t already heard of it. Both writing-wise and mechanically, it’s a worthy successor to these games (one which I’d argue more or less surpasses them), which is particularly impressive for a crowd-funded indie game. I’ve been writing a Let’s Play, which I’ll link in case anyone finds that of interest (or would prefer to get an impression of the game before deciding whether to buy it).

  • I really enjoyed this! It reminded me a lot of UnderTale with how personalized (and delightfully silly) every enemy was, and I’m impressed by how much strategy they got out of pretty simple mechanics with the t […]

    • Since you asked: the Koopalings were originally from Super Mario Bros. 3, and returned in Super Mario World. They might’ve been in one or two other games around that time, but then they vanished for years; their return in this game was a big deal because it’d been something like a decade since we’d last seen them. Aside from the common problem of “Wendy’s the girl one whose personality is girl”, I’ve always enjoyed them, they have a lot of personality for mid-bosses.

      (If you care about lore, they’re a bit confusing. Originally, they were Bowser’s children, but they’ve since been retconned into… something that isn’t that?… because Nintendo created Bowser Junior and wanted to put more emphasis on him. I don’t know what their relation to him is supposed to be now.)

      I’ve always liked Superstar Saga; unfortunately, I think the later Mario & Luigi RPGs never quite managed to surpass it (though Bowser’s Inside Story is a close second). I agree that the strategic depth isn’t quite there (one of the reasons I prefer the Paper Mario side of the RPG series), but it’s still fun, and the real-time dodging makes the battles feel dynamic in a way that felt pretty novel.

      Did you play the original GBA version, or the enhanced remake? I remember the final boss was quite easy to die to in the original, because you started the second phase on 1 HP and (if you didn’t have equipment to automatically go first) she’d outspeed you and attack before you had a chance to heal, but IIRC they changed that?

      • I played the original. Wasn’t aware there was a remake!

        Given the koopas are an entire species, I think you could reasonably say the koopalings are just koopa soldiers Bowser promoted instead of needing to tie everything to Bowser directly.

        • The remake came out on 3ds in 2017. I haven’t played it myself but the impression I got is that it brought the visual style etc closer to the later games in the series, and tweaked a lot of the mechanics likewise (opinions seem to be mixed as to whether it’s an improvement, but at its core it’s still the same game). Bowser’s Inside Story got a similar remake in 2019.

          I think the canon now is that the Koopalings are just high-ranking minions, yes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I thought it was a shame to lose the concept of Bowser having a huge family, that incongruity added a certain something to him as a character. Maybe that’s just my nostalgia talking.

          It’s funny, it was really exciting to see them brought back in this game, but nowadays they’re in practically every Mario title (most of the New Super Mario Bros games, Super Mario Maker, a lot of the spinoffs like Mario Kart) so it seems unremarkable in retrospect.

  • Unworthy is a Soulslike Metroidvania I found in a recommendations list somewhere. Its main defining feature is that you can’t jump. It accomplishes this much better than Mable and the Wood, mainly by not […]

  • In 2019, Yahtzee Croshaw (the game reviewer who does Zero Punctuation) challenged himself to make 12 games in 12 months and document his progress every fortnight. As someone interested in game design myself, I […]

  • Another RPG by the developer of Sojourner. I had hoped he had learned some lessons and improved from last time. He did not.

    The game blurb boasts that it is an open-world game with “many challenging […]

    • I actually love old-school RPGs, though I am not one who has a nostalgic love for it. I play old-school ones all the time and I understand where they have issues, but I think the very basic RPG Maker system is fine…………. but come on.

      I have come to the conclusion that weirdly, if you want good and innovative RPG MAker games, you’re much more likely to get it out of weird porn RPGs than ones that are supposedly not just a vehicle for porn.

      Which is a shame

      • Nah, you can find good RPG Maker games just by finding the ones that understand basic visual design. Doesn’t even have to be custom graphics; Last Scenario was great and that was mostly defaults. I only want graphics that aren’t actively painful to look at, this isn’t a high bar! Why is everyone ignoring the lovely XP RTP in favor of the godawful VX RTP? Why am I the only one who sees how terrible it is? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

        • I mean, that also is most of the porn RPG Maker games too. Most of them use a combination of default and custom graphics. They just also mostly ride on their gameplay.

  • I’ve wanted to check out this game ever since it was billed to me as a “Metroidvania of knowledge”. It’s a first-person puzzler where you explore a mysterious island covered in computer terminals with puzzles to […]

    • The alternate ending is actually even worse and what you need to do to get it is so terrible I hate it with all of my soul and I hate this game with a blazing passion.

       

       

      I hope you like a ‘puzzle’ where the puzzle is fucking wasting your time!!! Literally it involves watching a movie for a very quick flash of what you need to solve. Whoops, did you blink and miss it? GET FUCKED!!!! Watch the entire thing again!

       

      The Witness is an extremely hard pass in my opinion. Garbage all the way down.

    • If you are looking for a “Metroidvania of knowledge” may I recommend Outer Wilds? It is a space exploration game where all progress are about acquiring knowledge. You technically can finish the game instantly with no trouble as soon as the game start proper, but you won’t know how and the whole game is about figuring stuff out.

       

      Oh, and there are an actual story and characters.

      • I have heard very good things about Outer Wilds and it’s on my Steam wishlist.

        • It is great. I regret not actually playing myself. I watched a let’s play on a whim without knowing anything about it and just later realized I wish I had played it myself. It is a good game to watch let’s plays, though, so there is that.

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  • Most of these weren’t bad so much as “This should have been a novel or indie film.”

    Inside: Pinstripe, TIMEFrame, Mages of Mystralia.

    Pinstripe
    Puzzle Platformer

    I found this one utterly […]

  • It’s that time several months past that time of the year again!

    Inside: Ittle Dew, Mini Ghost, Papers Please, Pyre, Out There Somewhere, Toki Tori 2, Antichamber.

    Ittle Dew
    Action Adventure

    I […]

    • Act replied 2 months ago

      ‘Papers Please’ seems like a really brazen ripoff of Beholder, but with less interesting gameplay. Weird.

      Also, everything Supergiant did after Bastion is truly amazing. It’s great to see a young developer grow and mature like that! I’ve come to love them.

      • Beholder was 3 years after Papers Please, so if anything it’s the ripoff. :p I’ve seen a lot of similar games, so I think it’s just a genre at this point.

        • Act replied 2 months ago

          Lol, well, time is a meaningless void to me at this point anyway

  • Another big Nintendo game I’m getting to fashionably late. I’m very much of two minds about this one.

    Aesthetically, the game is an absolute delight. The premise of making the different worlds feel genuinely […]

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  • Finally got around to this, 4 years late. It’s good!

    I think my most important takeaway from this game is that it’s very different from other Zelda games. It’s good at what it is, but it scratches a different […]

    • My guess is that third-person Zeldas will trend more towards open-world from now on, while the top-down ones keep the puzzle dungeoneering. But that’s just a guess.

    • Oh, and sidebar: Fanart gave me a very overinflated sense of how important Sidon would be to the plot. I thought he would be the game’s equivalent of the King of Red Lions.

  • When last we left off Dresdening, Harry’s previous fridged girlfriend, Elaine, turned up apparently alive! And now this, like her and some dude, returns from the dead.

    Now, the nature of fandom is that people […]

    • Obligatory:

    • I do think an element of what was going wrong was that it was written as if it was following through on what was set up in the first book but the first book was not written with the idea it was setting anything up.

      You can tell by how Butcher forgot the name of the lover/victim of Bianca.

      In other words, this makes no sense for actual Elaine to say, so this is something out of the Nevernever.

      What, though? She can lie, so not fae proper. Something influenced by them, some hollow construct built to resemble her?

      Perhaps it’s demons, they seemed to be fairly invested in Harry for whatever reason last time we’ve got to chat with one. But then, Mister should have Harry well in hand, so, what, rival faction?

      Demons also make sense since Arcadia is occasionally portrayed as bordering hell, so that gives us a connection to the current plot.

      Also, Harry’s actual upbringing continues to make no particular sense. Why would wizards be sending their apprentices to get a modern education?

      TBF, in general I can see an argument in favor of general education for wizards so they wouldn’t lose touch with modern society entirely and at least would be aware of the generalities of its work.

      The bigger issue here is that Justin is a brainwashing warlock who wanted to mold his apprentices into hollow obedient puppets. In other words, exactly the kind of person to favor homeschooling.

      Yay, it’s Morgan! I hope he’s brought his sword.

      He’s polished it just for Harry.

    • It really is so like Harry to look at a dark wizard control freak with proven mind control abilities, then look at his girlfriend, and assume without further reflection that his girlfriend betrayed him willingly to the dark wizard. It’s so bad I have to laugh.

      Also goddamn, at least we know Harry isn’t fae, what with that “Chivalry is a reflex and I’ll immediately reply ‘I’ll help’ to any woman who asks” bullshit. Maybe Harry thinks he’s being sincere and has already forgotten the poor girl from last book. And Monica von Onewizardindustrialrevolution (very old, established family) from Book 1. And Kim Whatshertits from Book 2.

      Morgan’s back! We’re unfortunately past the point where he wields outsized naked steel influence in Harry’s life; that really was just Book 1 stuff. Now that his bosses have been named, he’s just a mook.

  • Trash Planet is a game by the creator of HELLBOUND. It’s a very different game, taking a hard shift into post-apocalyptic science fiction and more difficult, resource-management gameplay. Much like HELLBOUND, […]

    • I’m actually testing a game that actually proves you can make a survival horror JRPG. I can’t give the name just yet, and it has problematic aspects to it by nature of being a porn game (because otherwise it wouldn’t sell as an RPG Maker game), but the actual gameplay is extremely solid. Gear is very expensive and difficult to come by and you have to always burn surprising amount of resources to win most fights, and leveling only helps so much. Characters have a wide variety of abilities and can build in several ways. If you’re in danger you can cut and run back to base but if you take too long you start to run into financial issues, so you have to balance just how wild you go with resources and knowing when to return to lick your wounds.

      • I feel that grinding and leveling is inherently at odds with survival gameplay. Survival is based on the idea of limited resources; if you can continue an action indefinitely, that’s no longer true and the game just becomes a farming sim. My only idea for how to make it work would be a FFXIII-style thing where you’re on a constant forward push and can’t revisit past areas. Soul Sunder did that and I think it worked fairly well.

    • We’re talking about survival horror games, and the concept of ‘farming’ for experience. Sorry if we were unclear.

       

      You do actually something grinding away at your overall resources – your goal is to pay off your immense debt to the yakuza before the interest payments get you. And you do have very limited resources in battle, as the party can only hold a balanced amount of each item, and they are relatively expensive to replenish. It gets expensive quick if you want to plow through without any regard for your resources, which sets you back on paying your debt, and also makes you vulnerable to interest payments sucking up more cash.

       

      You don’t directly make money from battles, you only find loot to sell and unless you actually continue on with the story you won’t be making a lot of money as the biggest money-makers are Treasure items that you only get from bosses.

    • My issue is that if you find a loop where you gain more than you lose and can be performed indefinitely, it completely breaks the economy. You can stock up on infinite resources and the only limit is your patience. In Trash Planet, this is any battle once you have Gucci, since she can restore MP and thus allow you to heal indefinitely. There’s nothing stopping you from spending several hours grinding and then trivializing the rest of the game.

      Survival games are based around limited resources, so there has to be some limit on farming to stop it from being truly infinite. Something like a system of diminishing returns or an overarching time limit may work.

  • N through P. I got distracted splitting my time with my Christmas games, so this is shorter than the previous posts. Some interesting RPGs in this one.

    Nano Driller
    Puzzle (?)

    A game where you play as […]

    • I plan to do A Short Hike, just as soon as I can upgrade my graphics capabilities to handle it. (Whyyy does everyone insist on using cutting-edge 3D graphics for all their indie games.) The other two sound interesting, I’ll have to try them.

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