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I do love it when a DLC expansion is unique enough that i can make it's own log out of it. Whereas The Last Spark Hunter is more of the same goodness (Tower of Doom sucks, we don't speak of that one), the Rayman DLC is actually unique. Much like Donkey Kong Adventure from the previous game, Rayman changes how you approach the game. Rayman himself is uber-busted, allowing for a variety of unique strategies you couldn't do in the main game, such as near-infinite air time (with certain conditions), area control, massive utility. Having Rabbid Mario and Rabbid Peach as the only companions meant you really had to adapt to this specific team setup.
This expansion, like the first game, also has turn-limits for bonus points. However, on the higher difficulty and intended level, i'm not sure if some of them are physically possible. Coming back to them later sure but there are maps that'd be like "how do you do this in three turns or less". Speaking of, the maps in this game are very good, very well designed to take advantage of Rayman's unique abilities in particular.
The big downside to this DLC is, i wish it was bigger. The Last Spark Hunter was longer despite being more of the same, i feel like it should've been the inverse. Still, this was fun. The music actually goes pretty hard too.
F-Zero 99 was one of today's funniest announcements but honestly, the game is pretty fun. I think it captures the spirit of F-Zero well and it's probably the best "99" game out there. Hopefully this gets enough attention for the next proper F-Zero game.
It's not every year that we get two new Atelier game in a row
except i see this becoming more likely but shhh but in addition to Atelier Ryza 3, Gust has gifted us with a remake of the very first Atelier game, Atelier Marie. Now i went and played the original a few years ago, the PS2 port specifically. I immediately realized how dated it was and decided to cut my loses early. So when the remake was announced, i was pretty excited. A game that has never left Japan being localized is a good time and a modernized remake on Atelier Marie would only be good. Was i right on that? Well, yes.
To get things out of the way, the game is a very faithful remake. The main difference it has compared to the original is a brand new artstyle, actually explorable areas (the original game was very menu-based), and an actual sense of direction. Aside from that however, the game is basically the same as the original but these differences go a long way in enhancing the experience. And, to be honest, with how different it is from modern Atelier, it might as well feel like a new game. Crafting is still the central mechanic but it doesn't at all have the depth of the modern entries. Equipment functions like normal game equipment, without any modifiers you could add to them. Items in theory have a lot of use but the combat is so piss easy, it's literally just spam Marie's skill until the enemy dies. It really goes to show that this was the first game in the series, given new life. And hey, to be fair, this game (and at least this early in the series) was much more of a sim game than an RPG game, so it's understandable why the combat in particular wouldn't be as fleshed out as the later entries.
One thing i noticed was how the tone of this game was a bit different from the modern entries. Not by much but noticeable for this series. While it still maintains it's slice-of-life elements, i was surprised to see the game touch on topics of war, causes of banditry, racism and even hints of trafficking and enslavement. All of this is told, not shown, it merely informs the backstories of certain characters, but the fact that Atelier characters can have these backstories at all is just wild. This isn't to say modern Atelier didn't get heavy with it's topics, it's just not in a way like this. Even the Dusk trilogy, which took place in a declining world, did have a, uh, lighter tone, to put it that way. The original premise of Atelier was "what if in a world of legends, you played as just a normal person", a premise that modern Atelier has pretty much abandoned. It was interesting to see the series' roots.
What surprised me the most with the gameplay was the time-limit. This game has a five-year time-limit, similar to Atelier Totori, Meruru and Ayesha. And yet, i was surprised by just how lenient it is in this game compared to those. My experiences with the latter three had soured me on this form of the series' time management (i'm fine with the more segmented approach of Atelier Rorona and Escha & Logy) so i opted for the remake's Unlimited Mode, which removes the time-limit. I uh........didn't expect fulfilling the main objective to be so easy. It's such a general requirement that you'll meet it without trying, and that's not counting the other requirements for the endings. I'm definitely gonna replay this game another time but the way it was intended, especially since there's specific events that for fundamental reasons cannot occur on Unlimited Mode.
I do think this game was a bit too faithful in regards to it's RNG. Certain events have a chance of occuring, sometimes as low as 10%. For a game about time-management, that's pretty awful but i was still fortunately able to get most of them way before the five years were up. I imagine an Atelier Elie remake is not off the table. If and when it comes, i do hope Gust does away with the RNG trigger for events. Remove them and it only changes for the better.
Atelier Marie Remake was a fun way of finally experiencing the series' roots, filled with charming characters, a good gameplay loop that allows for easy replays and of course, Gust's signature great music. It's obviously simple by the modern entries' standards but i think it does accomplish what it set out to do well.