I don't think it's fair to rate this, as I haven't played nearly enough to rank it amongst my completed list of games, but man... Nothing short of disappointed with Ghost of Tsushima. While I can lay the blame on the game itself for being so vapid to play and Sucker Punch for developing something so milquetoast after the InFamous titles, it's honestly all on me for fooling myself into thinking I'd enjoy an open world game for once. It can be nice to play a game like this every now and then to experience what's in vogue, but it's probably for the best that I dip out now and find something that I like playing wholeheartedly, rather than slog through a 30 hour epic solely because the same development house made games I liked 10+ years ago.
Ever feel like a whole game is designed purely for you and your taste in gameplay, aesthetics and general vibe that you cannot even fathom giving it anything less than a perfect score? Like in spite of limited-even-for-the-time camera controls, slightly overambitious mechanics and repetitious objective design, there's so much appealing, hyper specific things of interest vying for your attention that you're consistently engaged from the get go, right up to the end screen? The sort of thing that you just know you'll be hyperfixated on for months, listening to the OST on loop, memorizing it's script down to the syllable and doodling all the characters for no other reason than for pure adoration for it all?
Well, I'm pretty sure that's Poinie's Poin for me right now. I'm losing my mind at just how at home I felt playing through this early 00's treasure trove of saturated colour, psychedelic pop/rock/IDM/acid fusion soundscapes and some truly off-kilter writing (with the VA to match)! Like, I keep trying to find some sort of flaw or catch or asterisk here that prevents me from recommending it to other 3D platformer/PS2 game/90's cartoon aficionados, but... no, it really is just that easy! Go play it somehow if this (or any of the other review here) intrigue you, it'll be 6 hours you won't forget!!
It's Coolio To The MAX!!!
It's more of the same speed focused 3D platforming from the first game (which is still very good, btw), but comes with a couple of more open ended bonus levels that wind up being a ton of fun in their own right. It's really fun seeing that (usually tedious) collect-a-thon style of play boiled down and trimmed to its barest essentials, with objectives taking no more than 30 seconds to clear and stages small enough to explore with little fuss! I might prefer it over the more linear approach of the main campaign, even if the checkpoint system isn't quite built for it... Maybe something to fix in a future endeavour?
Not gonna beat around the bush: If Sonic 1 was an unexpected surprise, Sonic 2 was a bit of a disappointment. :/
Like the first game, there's not much to really say that others haven't already said a million times before. Levels are more consistently 'good' for the first two thirds of the adventure, back end of the game after Oil Ocean is kinda shitty (with Metropolis zone being especially long and annoying to get through), the final bosses really could've let you have at least a couple rings (and a checkpoint between them), you know the drill. But it's strange... years of seeing countless people proclaim that 'THIS is the best one', the 'shining example of what a Sonic game SHOULD be', that this is 'WAY BETTER than the DOGSHIT that is Sonic 1'... I can't really say I agree?
Like, there's more zones this time, but it's the kind of thing where all the colourful tile sets and unique hazards all blend together to amalgamate into something that's initially fun to play through, but ultimately forgettable as whole. Levels are sped through a little too fast for my liking, with exploration slightly de-emphasized for the sake of providing the same sort of speedy highs over and over again. Why explore for extra lives and rings when it goes against the grain at best and is actively discouraged at its very worst? It's far from unenjoyable (not with controls and physics this finely tuned), but coupled with a two act structure the levels don't have enough time to really make an impression within the short amount of time spent plowing through them?
It doesn't feel thaaaaat much better than the first game, otherwise. It's less 'good zone, bad zone' in structure, sure, but I can't say that's any worse than putting all the worst zones in the final third, either. The music is on par with the first game's score, there's not much I can say there other than 'it bangs'. Special Stages still really suck, even though they changed genre from 'bad maze' to 'bad autorunner'. One change that's definitely more mas o menos is the slight shift in art direction, which seemed like it de-emphasized the Memphis Style inspiration for a 'more colours and detail' approach to an admittedly pleasing, yet less interesting degree. It's a good looking game, don't get me wrong, but a little more 'grounded' than what I'm personally drawn to in sidescrollers (and art, generally!).
What I'm trying to say here is that it's just... a little bit mediocre, something I feel a lot about what wound up becoming 'timeless classics' during the early-to-mid 90s. Perfectly average, but nothing that felt particularly stand out compared to other games in the series (or genre itself, or even on the Mega Drive where it hailed from). Had I grown up with it as a child, replaying it over and over until the level layouts were burnt into my memory, I'd probably feel the same way about it, like the countless supporters it has. But as a someone in their late 20s with a real love and affinity for platformers, it unfortunately didn't do much for me other than register as 'good I guess' and 'a step towards Sonic 3 & Knuckles'. Here's hoping I learn to love it for what it is down the line...
...But for now, I can finally say that I've got a 'contrarian Sonic opinion' to call my very own! Can't believe I've gone so long without one, wow! ;)
Yeah, sure. It's a fantastic 3D platformer and all, but the addition of an evasive maneuver (complete with bullet time) further cements Kirby as Nintendo's very own hack & slash action series, putting it toe-to-toe with the likes of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. If they spent a little more time tweaking the ability controls to allow for at least a couple more moves (as well as adding a few more abilities too, like suplex and javelin) and allowing for quicker restarts on level challenges/boss battles, it'd be an indisputable classic of the genre, but as is there's very little that can reach the highest highs HAL Laboratory keeps managing to achieve aesthetically. Not much else to say but, uh, it's the best game to come out in 2022 so far!
Numbers Go Up: A Gothic Horror Tale.
Much more of a Cookie Clicker-style idle game than the screenshots imply, Vampire Survivors boils down the current state of the roguelite genre to it's bare, naked essentials, to such a degree that I'm surprised it even bothered to roll with the 'Castlevania asset pack' look It's got going right now. If your idea of fun is to slowly but surely watch bars fill up and tick boxes to make that process more automated, hours passing by without the stimulus of an ongoing narrative or varying presentation, boy, do I got the game for you! It didn't really do much for me, unfortunately, but I can see why it's gotten so popular as a 'chillout podcast unwind' sort of thing, it's extremely evocative of the flash based things we'd play during a class in the computer lab years ago...
A truly dangerous type of game, especially if you haven't got much time to spare for entertainment!
This game conjured many thoughts during its 20 hour duration; often contradictory or in spite of personal preconceived notions, and almost all of a positive nature. It might be hard to believe for some, but this 25 year old relic of SEGA's past still radiates much of the same power that its longtime fans have echoed on forums and comment sections in the years since it's debut...
This game should have been cancelled, viewed only through grainy magazine screenshots, compressed quicktime videos and discussed only by the dedicated via half truths and badly translated articles. And yet it made it out of a hellish development cycle, never compromising it's vision but instead working with the unique tools available on the Saturn to make something truly special. Of note is its sense of scale, often eclipsing things seen on competing systems in concept and, most impressively, in practice. From the towering mutants, war machines and rival dragons that the player regularly grapples with, to the never-ending variety of arcane ruins explored throughout the wastelands, there's always something awe inspiring to discover throughout the game's 4 discs. While its seams and shortcuts are easily noted, they are just as easily appreciated for what was attempted moreso than if the effect were pulled off perfectly. When a 3D camera has an eye for composition this good and an overall art direction that precedes the game itself at this point, what does a short draw distance really matter in the grand scheme of things...?
This game's bold choice to shift genres from its predecessors should have alienated it from the entries that came before, casting it aside as 'the black sheep' of the series and stricken from canon. But, both in terms of gameplay and narrative, it's the perfect finale to the Saturn trilogy. In particular, the way it builds off of it's prequel Panzer Dragoon Zwei is nothing short of miraculous, enhancing that game's visual storytelling in a way that only adds to that game's overall experience (rather than demystifying it, as is all too common with sequels of this verbosity) and evolving its unique scoring system into something just as fitting for a role playing game, without losing the initial appeal. Even the first game gets some love, contextualizing most of it's iconic levels into free roam environments to explore and uncover! In an era of games focused too much on leaving their pasts behind, a game with this much respect for it's heritage and roots is one to respect...
This game, frankly, should have had an awful localization, given its status as a 90's RPG and being one of the very last Saturn games for the system. And though it deviates slightly from the original Japanese (by admission of the developers themselves), it's a shockingly coherent, emotional script that conveys exactly what is needed without notable cuts, errors or over-explanation. It helps, too, in what is either a rare display of respect for it's performances or a simple way to cut costs, the original Japanese voice acting is present and in full force here, greatly enhancing the 'otherworldly' tone of the game for a foreign audience and in general, giving every spoken line that much more gravitas. After all, a narrative that's equal parts enigmatic and exciting requires (ironically enough) just as much clarity and subtlety to work, especially as it begins to twist and turn in an eerily modern way...
This game, however, isn't completely perfect, as easy as it'd be to pretend otherwise. In another unusual shift away from SEGA's other titles, it's a remarkably unchallenging game to get through, making some of it's more climactic battles over sooner than expected and it's numerous, tantalizing combat options unfortunately moot in the process. And for as brusquely paced as this game is, there's a notable slump during the second disc that coincides with the game's admittedly awkward 'on foot' sections taking centre stage. It's fascinating from a world building standpoint, but less interesting overall than the flight exploration and combat sequences it's sandwiched between...
This game was ultimately destined to be an expensive, neglected oddity. A game with this much ambition, developed by a team more interested in creating a memorable artistic experience than a profitable crowd pleaser, on a game system that was internationally sabotaged from the very beginning was never going to be a franchise spawning blockbuster. But it, at the very least, deserves some form of recognition, attention, and a reputation greater than 'expensive, artsy failure'! SEGA should forever be ashamed of themselves for losing the original source code, and given how complex and nuanced the game is, it doesn't seem likely that they'll ever invest big in the full blown remaster/remake it'd require...
This game... There's still a lot to say about this game, and yet to say anything more would be to spoil it's surprises. Its genius gameplay consolidations, its surprising story telling, its astonishing artwork and especially its marvelous music should be well known and influential, old hat and well worn topics by many. It deserves to be played by everyone, from RPG veterans looking for an unconventional setting to immerse themselves in, to action fans who just want to see dragons make shit explode in spectacular fashion. And with recent advances in emulation software (as well as modifications to the aging original hardware), there really is no better time to visit a world that has been long forsaken, yet will live forever in myths and legends...
This is probably gonna be one of those games I play every now and then, perhaps getting to the credits after about 2 years or so? Because trying to play it on a regular (weekly) basis was just a bit too repetitive and monotonous, I'm sorry to say. :/ It's genuinely got fun combat and gameplay, but it's let down by bland level design and a sense of variety that's drip fed a little too slowly for my liking.
See you in a couple years then, once I beaten the damn thing!
Another sidescrolling classic from Nifflas, with the short, succinct level design and stupendous soundscape you'd expect from his works, though this time with a wonderful 'PSN circa late 00's' graphical style with a Danish flair. It's the kind of game you have to get your hands on to really appreciate though, as it just feels oh so smooth and buttery on a gamepad! He's come such a long way since Within a Deep Forest, that's for sure...
A great puzzle platformer a la Wario Land 3 and Donkey Kong '94! The regular enemies and boss battles are more annoying than complimentary, but ultimately the core challenge of figuring out any given room's solution with your surprisingly robust moveset more than makes up for it. There's plenty to get through, too, with 10+ large-ish levels that encourage replays via a ranking system, time-to-beat and hidden coins to find. Fantastic graphical presentation as well, like everything's so fluidly animated and colourful and expressive, more like a Neo Geo Pocket game than anything on GBC! Can't say the OST lives up to it, but it's still fitting enough.
Kinda shocked this one isn't talked about more often, even with a recent English patch! It's well worth looking into, especially if you want something to chip away at over time (helps that the game picks up at the exact room you turned the game off, nifty feature that).
Can an incredibly cathartic combat system paired up with the rawest, most unhinged art direction seen yet from Grasshopper Manufacture make up for... everything else about the game? Sure! but I'd be lying if I didn't slightly regret playing this over the numerous other sequels that came out in 2021, each (I imagine) having deeper connections with their forefathers and more thoughtful development of their mechanics and themes than this...
XINGISKAN II (if you know, you know)
...And for everyone else, a wonderful little arcade style game that's easy to pick up and smooch your way through. Unlocking the 'true ending' is a little tedious, due to RNG, but that same RNG is what helps keep the game entertaining on regular playthroughs, so it's not thaaat big an issue. Not with such a such a charming, cheeky presentation! The music in particular's gonna be stuck in my head for months to come, I just know it...
Overall, it's an easy recommendation for those who want to play something simple & sweet (yet slightly saucy) between larger games. Another Onion Games classic!
The overly punishing, needlessly trial-and-error nature of the EMMI sections and some notably amateurish cutscene direction cannot spoil what is ultimately my favourite game of 2021. Slick and snappy movement, thoughtful level design and some truly difficult boss battles are complimented by a stunning attention to detail and a sense of scale unlike any other 2.5D game before it. I honestly had no idea how they'd ever continue the series after Fusion, but this is absolutely more than worthy of carrying the torch!