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PaRappa the Rapper
Pokemon Stadium is one of those rare instances where I had a ton of fun with the game back then, but would never recommend anyone trying now.
It was a huge deal for us back then to be able to play and battle with our pokemon direct from our game boy games in 3D, when you remove that magic it really diminishes the impact a smidgen especially when the main series has now been 3D for 3 (soon 4) generations. I will say a ton of the animations here are better than the ones being currently used, I still have no idea what Gamefreak has against Charizard or Dragonite being able to stand on their feet instead of awkwardly flying in place.
Without a team from a game boy transfer pack you're left with the absolutely woeful rental pokemon. Not only are these pokemon not yours, but they sometimes have these really bad move sets. How would you like a Blastoise with fucking Bide and Strength? An Alakazam with only Confusion for STAB? It's actually worse in Stadium 2 apparently, lmao a fucking Venusaur with Tackle/Growl. If you play competitively in any capacity you're gonna have a fucking aneurysm looking at some of these things.
If there is one thing I recommend playing it's the mini-games! They're a good time and even support four players! My favorite's probably the Lickitung game, I want the soundbyte for when they eat too much spicy food and go ""EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGH".
Waking up on a sunday and finding that Team Ladybug, out of nowhere, have released a brand new shooting game, is quite a nice surprise. And what's more it's really, really pretty, with an excellent combination of 3D and 2D sprites that works so well.
And the game's gimmick is pretty good - it's effectively Gradius meets Mars Matrix, with the player having a rechargeable shield that absorbs bullets and releases a blast the more is sucked. It's pretty fun and works particularly nicely with the bosses, but it's extremely lenient. Even un-upgraded it comes with about twice the energy you will ever need.
Though, in general, the game is really easy all around. Not easy by shmup standards, mind, just by game standards. The shield suck ability alone is overtuned, but on top of that, instead of dying when hit, you only lose power ups (unless on the unlockable "ridiculous" difficulty which still isnt that bad) on hit, which can allow you to take upwards of 25 hits per 4-5 minute level, even on hard and the also unlockable Arcade mode. Easy and Normal are outright insultingly easy outside of some occasional spikes in boss fights.
I've no objection to easy game, but Drainus' sheer lack of challenge feels contrary to it's other design principles - hell, after you max out your upgrades, you can get a shield like the Gradius games which feels very pointless on top of the sheer beating you can already take.
I almost feel it's an overreaction to this game's horrible feedback and some occasional visibility problems. It is often very unclear when you are actually hit, when invulnerability from your shield actually ends, and especially which parts of stage backgrounds are collidible terrain and which you can fly by freely. When actually playing on that "ridiculous" difficulty, it's sometimes hard to tell what exactly killed you at all.
The other key issue is the game's weird upgrade system. It's a fine idea on it's own, allocating resources to whatever thing you're most into is a fine evolution on the Gradius formula, but the upgrades are exceptionally poorly balanced (Laser+bits+hurricane bomb completely trivialises the game even more than it already was), and the game bizzarely doesnt constrain this upgrade system to a natural place like stage end, but lets you upgrade and reconfigure your ship at any time in the pause menu. This absolutely murders the flow of the game, but if you want to min-max you'll want to! It's a good job the game is so easy you can basically just use it at stage end but wow its a bad idea.
As mentioned, the game's core strength is its aesthetic. Boss sprites in particular look fantastic, embodying the look of something like Battle Traverse with the intricacy of Radiant Silvergun's bosses, folding and contorting as they're broken apart. The boss fights themselves are also quite good, especially the final boss and a very blatant shoutout to Gradius.
But overall the game is more a well of potential than something actually fulfilled. It's very pretty, sure, and the mechanics have good prospects, but that doesn't quite cut it. I actually think of Team Ladybug go through the effort of refining it, increasing the difficulty for some modes and sort out the issues regarding visibility, it could be a very good game. For now though, I can't reccomend it.
Completed in the ethereal sense in that while playing a couple custom levels I felt a 'complete' feeling, of which got me very emotional that will be difficult to explain but I'll try to elaborate.
I felt it near the end of the initial level included. It's a really robust intro, a casual warm hand showcasing to you what the level creator can be on offer here. It's completely short and sweet yet goes through everything you might come to expect in games of this time, even a light shocking horror segment, a heavenly vibe above the sky in the snowy mountains etc etc. It tells a full lovely almost wordless story of adventure.
And all of it is to service the spark of creation. Did you ever make custom content for anything? That wasn't really my thing. Even though I grew up around Minecraft, I'm very much a work on others' foundations sort. I like putting things within my own sort of spin rather than creating a whole drum beat from scratch. I like to marvel at what the current of electric creativity has granted others, though. I kept thinking about it since I left the starting 'story' and started downloading others. Loading up a late 00s archive and putting in folders, opening the cavern to more people's stories, from the very notoriously trippy, to calm and relaxing, to dastardly puzzly. And honestly, I bet a lot of the levels I could look at are probably shit who knows. It's very, um, human though. This whole game is very human. The community though it has long since walked away from any nurturing light that kept it growing, is very human. It's like I just stumbled upon a garden of dreams and little bits of people messing around with this same honestly janky editor. The further down the rabbit hole I got the more emotional it felt.
I hope I managed to put the feeling together right. It's very rambly to put together but it's tough to actually describe a sense of a connection, one so strong that it made a wide incredible forest you never knew about, of planters who you may never ever meet.
Dread X Collection 3
I'm just scribbling these down as I beat the games.
[Hub world is kinda annoying]
This is ok. A bit close to other AI themed horror I've seen before, and far too close to Five Nights at Freddies stuff. (God, fuck FNAF. Piece of shit rotted mind culture infecting everything. I will not buy the toys, stop showing this to children.)
Plays like an N64 platformer where every surface is ice. Had to plug in a controller just to get any consistency from the movement. Nothing to write home about here. Big empty world, rotten combat and hit detection. Another one I finished and just went "ok".
[Really need the hub world folk to shut up]
Cool wee isometric thing where you work the nightshift at a hotel. Fixing vending machines and tidying rooms. There also might be something sinister going on. The visuals are likely doing the lifting here, but that's fine.
Disparity of the Dead
This is my big favourite so far. It's got a great aesthetic to it. Extremely chill exploration of a dream-like afterlife looking for clues as to why dead people aren't arriving.
[Please be quiet]
Nice Screams at Funfair
Extremely short simple ice cream salesman sim that feels like it has horror themes tacked on to absolutely no benefit.
Cool wee thing made in 10 days. However the scale made me think there would be more to do before things devolved into tired space horror shit. Oh is something going to happen to the friendly AI? Aaaaa I'm so scared and creeped out!
Matter Over Mind
I don't know how to explain exactly what I mean by this, but it's an XBLA game.
[This is some 2005 patter and you need to stop]
A decent wee subversion of the bait and switch you usually see with this kinda thing. Got excited when I saw a folded clothes asset I immediately recognised from Paradise Killer and I did the Leo point.
This is just a nice fun time. No shite in there. https://twitter.com/NightmareModeGo/status/1527031098479353856
[I do not care about the hub plot. It is so shite. Pure modern internet parlance that everyone's adopted]
Bubbo: Adventure on Geralds Island
No. No more of this saccharine cuteness with the gradually creeping horror beneath. Sick of it. It is not scary, or interesting, or new. Fuckin' babby's first frighten. Grow up.
[The hub was my favourite part of the last Dread X Collection. This one is my most hated. I kill it]
Eden: Garden of the Faultless
Spookware @ The Video Store
A brilliant wee WarioWare clone with a gorgeous style. Three skeleton brothers doing a movie marathon, and each movie is the minigame. God I wish it was longer.
[SHUT THE FUCK UP]
This game is literal hellspawn conceived by the Dark Lord himself. A disgusting lagfest of boring and downright sadistic level design, even by Castlevania standards. The amount of pixel perfect jumps required to beat this is ludicrous.
I'm just glad I didn't grow up in the 80's/early 90's, because there is no doubt I would have fallen for that "Official Nintendo Seal of Quality" and I would have never forgiven them for it.
Recommended by teddie_fazbear as part of this list.
It's a name so iconic it's transcended its arcade roots: Donkey Kong. The classic tale of Italian vs Primate, and the shenanigans that ensue henceforth, involving barrels, sentient fireballs and lots of ladders, and for the first four levels of Donkey Kong (94'), you're lead to believe that this handheld replica is more of the same, until DK gets right back up when the game should be over and flees to the big city with Pauline in tow. A single cutscene shows you the bread and butter gameplay loop: bring the key to the door to advance. Thus does 94' reveal itself not as duplication, but as evolution.
The arcade philosophy is one that was largely bred by circumstance, of technological limits and economic goals: to make the most of what you have, you encourage replayability, skill, and mastery above all else. It's a philosophy considered niche by most but lives on in many forms, from character action games to the entirety of the shmup genre, but it has an unlikely relative in the puzzle genre. Puzzles may not have the replayability aspect due to the inherent oneness of the solution, but they emphasize similar values: skill and mastery. Learning Puyo chains in Puyo Puyo, or spacial awareness in Tetris, the idea of having a foundation that requires skill and knowledge for the player to fully expound upon. In this sense, the evolution of Arcade to Puzzle-Platformer in 94' is the best possible step Nintendo could have taken with the idea.
Making a handheld game inherently changes the game design philosophy you approach a project with, and this is where 94's strengths truly shine. The levels are all relatively bite-sized, with time limits rarely going over the three-minute mark, always focused on the main goal of bringing a comically-large key to the locked door in each level to progress, and are always clustered together in groups of 4 (3 regular levels and a fight against DK himself) before allowing you to save your game. Each cluster of levels is capped off with a cutscene that showcases a new mechanic that will be used in the next level cluster going forward, most of which lift directly from older Donkey Kong entries, from the hammers in the original arcade title, to the vine climbing mechanics of Junior (and even the appearance of the little rascal to annoy you from time to time). 94' is always introducing new mechanics, new level structures, new gimmicks to play around with and test your puzzle-solving abilities all the way until the very end, where it unfortunately falters by turning into a precision platformer gauntlet (not an inherently bad idea, Mario controls great and is about as nimble as he would be in 96's Super Mario 64, but it really downplays the strengths exemplified in the earlier worlds).
94' is a masterclass of handheld game design, a prime example of a pick up and play title that would inspire both future series such as the Mario vs Donkey Kong series (an obvious spiritual successor to 94'), as well as other puzzle platformers that would come down the line, and it's clear with titles like Donkey Kong 94' why Nintendo is considered one of the best when it comes to platformer game design.
Mechanically, Trio the Punch is quite poor. It's a beat 'em up which is both super basic, with a single attack button per character, very simple enemy designs and a very weak feedback on hits and damaging an enemy. Game strategy rarely gets any more interesting than very simple whiff punishing, like im playing Rogue Legacy 2 or Dead Cells. I do not want to play more Rogue Legacy 2 or Dead Cells.
So it's a good job Trio the Punch is impressively stupid. In each of it's minute long stages, you will start by beating up a number of Karnovs - the large, fire breathing Data East mascot inexplicably turning up about 100 times over the course of the game for... reasns? - then face a boss, which could just basically be anything from a simple gargoyle to a giant foot, to an angry man who gets mad at you hitting his tortoise shell, to a sheep. Then after winning, you get sent to a roulette wheel of powerups, which you're practically unable to influence. These include powering you down, at which point you are told "BAD CHOICE". Then, for some reason, the sheep boss might have just cursed you into being a sheep for the next level on it's death, but the sheep is also obscenely strong compared to the standard Trio. And then you get attacked by a bunch of giant heads in a stack. And sometimes the game can just decide to make your sprite tiny or force everything on screen to stop moving, or fuck knows.
The dedication to the bit is key here. On the face of it, Trio the Punch is like Parodius, Rainbow Islands, or Space Invaders 95, where it's a send up of the companies' games and tropes, but those games still have structure, are usually reverant of those properties and are also competent, or are least trying to be kind of fun in those cases, the joke is on Konami and Taito respectively. In Trio the Punch, i am 100% convinced the joke is on the player. A credit of Trio the Punch is likely to consist of a few gags that land, a few that dont, and a constant stream of the game taking the piss.
It's like pre-paying for a restaurant and finding out upon arrival that you have to eat out of a cement mixer. Yeah, its kinda funny at first, but you also have to eat out of a cement mixer. But then again, the very fact that you, the fool, are actually going through with it, becomes funny itself.
Trio the Punch is not a good game, and it's gags dont always hit. But as a sheer act of disrespect and as a wild trip for a player to go down, it's great. Data East might have pranked you, but there is often as much joy in the recipient to being dunked at the fair as there is to doing to dunking. And to be the one who's dunkedd in a game, is a rare experience indeed.
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