Waaaay better than I expected. Totally nails movement, combat flow, and enemy variety.
Tone is also on-point, with John Stalvern being one of the more relatable blank slate avatars of gaming. Even when the game takes away my control, he still manages to do everything I want him to.
My only real complaint is that id for whatever reason decided to crowbar in an extremely intrusive and unedifying leveling system that tasks the player with doing inane actions and combing environments for upgrades, which was an especially huge drag on motivating myself to play when I had another game *without* that nonsense on my dance card. It manages to halt the momentum in a game that would otherwise have impeccable pacing, and it almost makes me regret choosing a higher difficulty mode where every unit of damage output and new character ability seems crucial to survival. Oh, and for whatever reason, there are almost no bosses (though they nail the ones that they do have).
RIP AND et cetera.
Assault Suit Leynos (Arcade Mode, Hard):
First Gunhound, now this. Weird blur filter aside (I still have no idea why they went with this after releasing a much better-looking alpha version), it feels so great to be getting 2D* mech games with decent budgets again, even if this one is technically a remake. Fortunately, Leynos/Target Earth's issue was always one of general roughness and simplicity, so a polished version with a couple of the new mechanics and much better presentation works out pretty well.
Thankfully, they did not go the full Valken route and remove all of the game's teeth, too: 1ccing the game on the standard mode puts the player through some nice paces and requires a good level of strategy and performance due to the weapon load-out and grading systems.
Even better, while I have not gotten much of a chance to try out Classic mode, what I have played of it is almost as balls to the walls sadistic as the OG Genesis version. I approve.
Nice work, Dracue -- now get Masaya to give you rights to give the same treatment Leynos 2 so that we no longer need a Japanese Saturn to play the best the series has to offer.
*Sadly, now that From has hit the bigtime and apparently completed their transition to a company that only makes """"""""RPGs"""""""", I fear that 3D mech games will not be getting similar treatment again any time soon.
(1.1, Normal 100%):
Welp, I was waiting for a definitive release a couple more updates and improvements down the line, but since Nintendo's lawyers put the kibosh on that and this is as complete as things are going to get, I finally booted this
the baby up.
I am not actually partial to most fan-games and I especially dislike most predominantly-single-person projects (good level design is hard), but this one has the benefits of A. being based on (and knicking most of its stage layouts from) a real game produced by real designers and B. having nearly a decade of development time under its belt.
First, the bad news:
-Despite all that dev time, the game is still quite evidently an amateur work. There is a slight roughness in a bunch of areas (e.g. a couple of out of bound glitches that should not have been there and a couple of crash points that I was paranoid of after reading about them).
-There were a couple of unnecessary environmental aspects that annoyed me -- like random holes in walls that one could morphball into but which also did not hold any secrets/shortcuts, serve any function for the player, or even make sense in the context of the rooms. That sort of pointless-dead-end nonsense would not make it into a standard Nintendo release.
(That is not just a figure of speech; Miyamoto literally called out another developer for designing a Mario Maker stage like that.)
-Really, my biggest criticism is that they (well, he) managed to mess up my favorite moment of the Return of Samus.
The endgame, where after a whole mission of following the Metroid counter and widdling the world number down to 1 and clearing out the main nest, the player enters the final section to showdown with the last remaining one... only for the counter to start going crazy and start counting up
before a bunch of larval stage Metroids ambush Samus. Not only does this fake-out (timed perfectly with the really-ominous music change) lead to the Aliens-style realization that the final boss is actually reproducing
Metroids, but due to the way beam upgrades worked, it is actually possible to wind up in the situation *without* the ice beam needed to defeat them, necessitating a quick retreat. Showing the larval Metroids on the global counter from the very start of the game and stacking beams totally botches that.
In a similar vein, for whatever reason killing the Metroid Queen does not affect the counter at all, which is slightly anti-climactic. If he wanted to break with the original game and include the infant Metroid in the tally, then he should have had the number tick down to 0 after the final fight and then tick back up to 1 after the egg hatched.
On the plus side:
-Now we have Metroid 2 with an actual map (and world design that can be logically mapped out in the first place), a sanely-zoomed camera, colors, more enemy variety, better music* and controls.
-Even on the default difficulty played in the standard way, the game pushed back more than I anticipated a couple of times (and not for obnoxious reasons the way that NEStroid and OG M2 did).
-The new areas, mechanics, and backstory work really well on the whole.
The Tower, the Torizo fight, the Shinespark puzzles, the electro-balls, the Hydro Station, the Reactor escape sequence, the Distribution Center, and the Federation ship 'sidequest' just seem so at home in the game -- way more than the Zero Suit sequence in ZM did.
-The spiderball is way
too good a power-up for something that the 2D entries in the series kind of forgot after the one game.
-There are a lot of nice tributes and references to the other Metroids that I appreciated (even the titles that I would rather forget, lol).
-Though they both have different strengths and weaknesses, in general I think Return of Samus is better than NEStroid, so I feel like in principle this should easily be better than Zero Mission, and at least on a first playthrough, it is. Granted, Zero Mission's best qualities are only really evident in subsequent playthroughs, so I will have to see if this holds up as well on replays down the line before determining where it should be placed relative to the other games in the franchise.
At any rate, after playing countless 'Metroidvanias' recently, this reinforces that I will take a well-done Metroid game over any of them any day of the week.
though I guess I should get around to trying axiom verge at some point.
(Furier Mode, platinum get, all art unlocked):
YO THAT LAST BOSS WTF
*reflexively chomping on twenty Nicorettes at once*
King of Fighters XIV
Man, this mode was the real deal. Nothing quite like firing up a playthrough and getting clowned by bosses that you had S-ranked on the default difficulty. Honestly they feel so different from what they used to be that it feels like the game's second half rather than a replay of the whole thing ( though I do *somewhat* wish they could have given them or their environments slight visual redesigns a la Punch-out!!'s Title Defense mode).
After beating Furier mode, I gave Speedrun mode (which is set to normal) a try and on my first run managed a sub-hour clear. I was plenty sloppy on several bosses that I normally stomp, and my relatively poor rank on the leaderboard reflected that, but on the other hand the achievements I unlocked indicated that I am at least better at the game than the people who designed it, so there is that.
(In some respects, S-ranking individual fights in Furier is easier than Furi mode, since they eased up on the 'Time' and 'Hits taken' requirements so much that as long as the player can get through without dying once (and I guess does not intentionally stand around not-attacking for several minutes), then they automatically achieve max rank and unlock the full concept art).
Nioh (Beta Demo, both DLC Marks obtained):
As much as it pains to me to say, I am going to have to insist that this game is like Dark Souls, what with the cribbing of literally their entire stage and character progression systems from it. Bonfires are now 'shrines'; bloodstains are now 'graves'; souls are now 'Amrita'; phantoms are now 'revenants', skeleton wheels are now demon wheels, co-op summons are now... wait, those are still just called co-op summons.
On the other hand, this take on the formula seems much faster-paced and twitch-based than anything From has put out in the last eleven-ish years. Sometimes (mainly during boss fights), it does a Pinnochio and even becomes a real action game. Of course then the boss finally dies and like with all the other enemies a bunch of exp points and loot pops up that I have less than zero interest in going through and generally wind up selling off (for more exp points). Too much junk tends to drop, and proper stat-management/'builds' seem like they could very easily upset the balance of the fights, which thankfully managed to tend toward 'intimidating' at the state that I tackled them at (mostly due to wearing intentionally crappy-armor, sticking only to using the first non-wood weapon I found, and strategically-suiciding to stave off the temptation of cashing in the excessive fruits of my unintentional grinding).
Still, I approve. The third and final boss of the demo in particular took me places.
(Though I wish the Twilight versions of the bosses had more effort put into changing their attack patterns rather than simply going 'okay now a couple of trash adds spawn throughout the fight'.)
good job, hayashi. here I was, all ready to use this picture to headline this entry:
and instead you and weeaboo!Geralt managed to help justify this whole 'owning a PS4' thing. congrats, no sudoku for you.
At any rate, I guess the moral of the story is that Team Ninja should stick to making DOA, Musous, and methodical stamina-based hack-n-slashes set in Japanese mythology like Muramasa/Okami.
Just stay the hell away from Ninja Gaiden and Metroid.