2163 Reviews liked by conman

The second time I found an obscure, highly praised indie game from a couple of friends. I really only decided to play it because I was annoyed at my computer being too shit to play another game, but I'm glad I did. I got annoyed when I was trying to find the last puzzle, only to realize after a few laps it was right in front of me.

Heart Machine. Their first game: a breakout indie hit, a breath of fresh air. A game that tells its story without dialogue and one that would earn them a fanbase that would punish them for not making more of the same, as Solar Ash was met with the same response Hyper Light Breakers received on reveal: why isn't this Hyper Light Drifter?
And it's a pity. Solar Ash is a technicolor pastiche, a marvelous bit of tech. Fast, freeflowing, with environments that loop and curl in on themselves, wrapping around seas of clouds and spanning the crumbling remains of worlds. Movement is graceful and intuitive, boss fights are elegant and refined. Your character is all but defined by their freedom to traverse the world of Solar Ash, just as they are bound by its narrative.
But that's the rub. Unlike its predecessor, Solar Ash is written, with actual words and voices to go with them. So, does it earn this departure? Absolutely. The tone is impeccable, relentless, the core theme woven throughout every moment of the game. The voice actors do an incredible job of rising to the challenge, delivering emotional, powerful dialogue, creating very real, very believable characters.
That believability, the emotional resonance inherent in the writing and its delivery, is Solar Ash's greatest strength. It is a game that is, inexorably, about endings and what we do when we are faced with them. For that to work, in a game where the plot itself is thin on the ground, the characters have to be painfully, cripplingly believable. Solar Ash is a fragmented world, filled with fragments of people, in turn bearing fragments of ourselves. A powerful statement, and a reminder that Heart Machine has greater things in store.

Currently at 40 or so hours genuinely just still amazed how NRS successfully made a good MK after 11 keep it up NRS im excited to see the future of MK go forward with this type of gameplay

That's what i'm fucking talking about bay BEE !!!

Was pretty committed to beating this until I hit the executive level and I started thinking about other video games I'd rather be playing. My own personal SHODAN, Larry Davis, sometimes mentions to me how a game he doesn't like drops in half-star increments the more he plays, and I think that about sums up how I started to feel about System Shock (2023). The difference here is that I have enough games to play right now and I'd rather not push ahead with this just to be like "yo, did you hear Nightdive made a 2.5/5 System Shock??"
Citadel Station is the same arduous maze it always was and it's still obtuse to navigate. It's massive, oppressive, and actively hostile towards your existence. Every step of the way you're fighting SHODAN, you are literally within her plucking out her eyes and shooting at the cells she sends after you like a body would attack a virus. But familiar as it is, it doesn't really add anything. The Enhanced Edition already solves a lot of System Shock's cumbersome controls, it lets you break apart its UI and chuck its superfluous elements into the trash, or you can play it the way LookingGlass intended: via a system of pulleys and levers. However, while the Enhanced Edition gives you modernized controls as an option, the remake is built with them from the ground up. You could play it with a controller if you want, like a monster.
This results in a much smoother experience, one that's accompanied by some great art direction, an excellent soundtrack, and combat that has much more ommph thanks to nearly 30 years of technological leaps in animation and graphics. It also feels completely unnecessary, and hours into getting horrifically lost and accidentally firing a mining laser at Earth again, I started to feel like my second run through the station was dragging. At its worst, removing too much of System Shock's chunkiness becomes detrimental to its charm, but perhaps that's the purist in me pining for whatever the hell this is.
Some aspects, like VR, feel actively worse than before, and I encountered a staggering amount of collision issues that sent me falling through floors and elevators. Occasional errors with the game mis-flagging my location left me spawning in regeneration booths on totally different floors, and I encountered one crash that required running through a few excruciating combat encounters in the Grove for a second time. Your mileage and PC build may vary, but I found the remake to be pretty flimsy.
It's still System Shock, which is good, but I found the remake to be a bit too buggy and conceptually boring despite the shiny new coat Nightdive has given it. I feel like you'd get more out of this if you never played the original or the Enhanced Edition, and if you have then you may find Nightdive's take to be a bit watered down. It doesn't even have the cool Hackerman intro... or rather it does, just expanded upon and rendered more dull for it, and I think from the jump that's a good way of telling you exactly what you'll get from this particular version of System Shock. Shelving this thing because I'm starting to understand how people feel about the Demon's Souls Remake and this is not good for my soul.

this could've been the best out of the first two gens if it only just had like 80 of its 100 missions cut out. instead it's one of the weakest entries so far. the nonexistent narrative and total lack of context for much of anything doesn't help either
there's way too much "go back to the brown cave and kill disorder units" and "blow up every box in this boring maze". not nearly enough "shoot enemies from atop a moving airplane" or "destroy a fleet of battleships"
this would probably be a 5/10 if not for the massive mt and the multi-ac fights. those went hard

Played during the Backloggd’s Game of the Week (19th Sep. – 25th Sep., 2023).
The 1980s and 1990s saw a significant evolution in the practice of climbing in Japan, with the newfound popularity of free climbing correlating with environmental concerns. It was the widespread construction of climbing gyms at the end of the century that cemented this development, compensating for the poor rock durability of Japan's mountain ranges – Osaka's City Rock Gym was the first to be established in 1989. The practice of free climbing spread throughout Japanese society, creating a veritable subculture with its own codes, traditions and rituals [1], while Japanese sports institutions promoted the discipline in various competitions [2]. This has culminated in the inclusion of sport climbing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Cultural production followed suit: the first high-profile production was Baku Yumemakura's Kamigami no itadaki (1997) and its manga adaptation in 2000. Shinichi Ishizuka's Gaku: Minna no yama (2003) and Shinichi Sakamoto's Kōko no hito (2007) followed in its wake, before the more adolescent slice-of-life works of recent years. Burabura Donkey seems to fit into this trend: Atsushi Kaneko explained that it was the most natural concept for him to experiment with the use of the GBA's L and R buttons [3]. The project was originally intended to use 3D assets and original characters, but Nintendo pushed for 2D and the inclusion of the Donkey Kong characters. The project was consistent with Nintendo's experimental philosophy regarding its hardware and its desire to create a tangible link between the player and the gaming experience.
Burabura Donkey demonstrates the strength of the climbing concept, but also the limitations of such a system. The title does not quite manage to balance out its difficulty due to some uninspired level design. While the physics of spinning and throwing are well recreated, the game is rather cumbersome when the player is facing enemies, and there are times when they can be caught off guard by erratic movements and permissive hitboxes. Burabura Donkey leans heavily towards the arcade variety, with timed challenges to collect Crystal Coconuts and missions in the bonus mode adding to the difficulty of the title. Nevertheless, the Adventure mode provides a good opportunity for players to familiarise themselves with Donkey Kong's movements, a necessity as the title tends to be rather painful on the fingers as the buttons have to be held down for long periods of time.
Although the concept is fresh, Burabura Donkey suffers from contradictory ideas. The presence of enemies and bosses serves to mimic the progression of Donkey Kong Country, but is sometimes superfluous or contrived. The bosses all explore different ideas, attempting to use the various concepts introduced in previous levels – the boulders Donkey Kong can grab or the bombs he can throw – but the execution is often rather awkward: the fight against Davy Bones is particularly slow and suffers greatly from the complexity of the controls. Paon's concept is solid, however, and despite disappointing sales in Japan – Burabura Donkey was a GBA exclusive – Nintendo seems to have been satisfied enough to commission Donkey Kong: Jungle Climber (2007) for the DS.
[1] On the success of free climbing and the creation of a homosocial and hierarchical subculture, see Wolfram Manzenreiter, 'No pain, no gain: embodied masculinities and lifestyle sport in Japan', in Contemporary Japan, vol. 25, no. 2, 2013, pp. 215-236.
[2] In particular, following the announcement in 2016 of the inclusion of climbing in the 2020 Olympic Games, the joint work of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbu-kagaku-shō), the Japan Sport Council (Nihon supōtsu shinkō sentā), and the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association (Nihon sangaku supōtsukuraimingu kyōkai), has led to the inclusion of climbing in high-level sports curricula, as well as the construction and renovation of facilities needed to prepare athletes. On the topic, see Ruizhi Chen, Yuan Li, 'Development and Revelation of Japanese Sport Climbing', in Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, vol. 571, 2021, pp. 873-878.
[3] '『ぶらぶらドンキー』開発スタッフインタビュー', on nintendo.co.jp, consulted on 11th June 2007.

Marriage pros:
finally sex heheeh
Marriage cons:
Have to share your dolphin lvl 3 super unblockable setup projectile with wife

The commitment to play through the entire Budokai Tenkaichi series was always a little bit absurd. Tenkaichi 3 is the game to play, so going through the first two has felt like working my way through paperwork, a gross formality before I get to the real shit that I've now completely run out of patience for. I love Dragon Ball, but Budokai Tenkaichi 2 is too damn much Dragon Ball.
Now I know that's a bold statement to make after establishing I played this game to get to Tenkaichi 3, which is known for its gargantuan roster, but Budokai Tenkaichi 2 never manages to strike a good balance between quantity and quality, and that's ultimately what boiled down to me disliking it enough to drop it. Take the story mode - where I spent the bulk of my time - which is so comprehensive it's downright excessive, covering almost every single fight present in the anime.
This results in stretches of repeat fights against the same opponents with variety coming in the form of what characters are available to you. A little context for the uninitiated: Dragon Ball is lousy with battles against incredible foes that our heroes are often ill-equipped to defeat until another more powerful warrior arrives on the scene to save the day (Goku, usually.) Tenkaichi 2 in its slavish commitment to faithfully recreate these battles represents this uneven power dynamic by constantly shifting the enemy AI between fights based on who they're going up against. This makes sense in theory but in practice it means the difficulty balance is all over the place, with some brutal opponents suddenly forgetting how to guard or use specials all-of-a-sudden. Goku showed up, don't know how to punch anymore!
The breaking point for me was playing through the two chapters covering the Cooler movies, which in true commitment to form are complete garbage. The Return of Cooler has you fight Meta-Cooler seven god damn times in a row - technically more as the last fight has you go up against five Meta-Coolers with halved health bars. I'm an ardent fan, being able to experience every single battle in the grand overarching story of Dragon Ball should appeal to me, but sometimes less is more.
On the positive end of things, the computer is generally more aggressive than it was in the previous Tenkaichi game, which helps makes battles more engaging and much more difficult to cheese. Combat also feels much more robust, and iconic attacks from the anime and manga are well-represented. There's some great roster selections, too. Yajirobe is surprisingly fun to play as (I love how he twirls his sword around to fly), and even Garlic Jr. and Lord Slug are here. Slug gang, rise up!
Unfortunately, it's also not enough to save Tenkaichi 2 from devolving into pure tedium, and after dying to the final Meta-Cooler in that set of five, I realized I wasn't having any fun and was just bored.
I don't like abandoning or shelving games and I try not to do it too often, but I don't want to be on my death bed thinking about what could've been had I not wasted 40 or 50 hours beating Tenkaichi 2. I think a lot of people will say that 2's advantage over 3 is its story mode, but I suspect trimming the fat and making it far more succinct will help me enjoy Tenkaichi 3 even more, especially if it builds and improves upon 2's already solid combat.

Welp, it has been a little bit since I took a look in the Arcade Stadium, so I decided to do that once more, and I found Legendary Wings, which when looking at bits of it on YouTube, I thought looked somewhat interesting. Sure, it looked like every other Capcom arcade game at the time, but it does mix gameplay elements together that you wouldn’t typically see mixed together at the time, so I thought that it would be a pretty good time, like with Forgotten Worlds. Instead, however, I found the game to just simply be ok. The ideas that it tries are pretty inventive for the time, and there is some kind of charm to be found with it, but it ends up being too repetitive for me to really consider it any better then just simply being ok.
The story is basically the exact same as every one of Capcom’s arcade games, that being “evil is attacking, go stop it”, except this time the main villain is named Dark, which has got to be the worst name for a villain I have ever heard in my life, the graphics are good, but again, they look like pretty much every other Capcom arcade game of that era, so it doesn’t really stick out when compared with the others, the music is good, and it fits the style and tone that the game is going for, although I doubt you’ll be able to hear it amongst all the loud-ass sound effects for whenever you shoot and kill anything, the control works well enough, giving plenty of movement options in the shmup sections, although I wish you moved faster in the side-scrolling segments, even if they don’t last that long, and the gameplay is what you would expect from arcade games of that era, but with genres mixed together to make a somewhat unique experience for 1986.
The game consists of two different gameplay styles, with you taking control of one of two winged warriors, going through five different areas and plenty of different sections of said areas, defeating any and all enemies that will ambush you and try to take you out, gather plenty of powerups and points along the way to help you out in taking out your foes, and take on several bosses along your way that will test your movements, your reflexes, and how much damage you can deal out at once. It is about what you would expect for an arcade game for the time, and when it comes to the basics, it all works as well as it should, but there are some elements of it that do bother me, which I will get to in a bit. For now though, there is the matter of the two different gameplay styles that the game switches between.
The first of these styles is your typical top-down shooter, where you shoot up plenty of enemies, use a bomb to take out enemies on the ground, and gather plenty of powerups to not only upgrade your shots, but also your speed and your firing rate. Out of the two gameplay segments, I would say that this is my preferred one, as it does feel the fastest and the most solid, but of course, it does come with your typical case of arcade syndrome, or I guess bullet-hell syndrome in this case, where there will be plenty of enemies and/or bullets being shot your way, and you are given very little time to react and dodge.
The second of these gameplay styles would be where the game changes to a side-scrolling shooter/platformer, where you travel from left to right, defeating plenty of enemies with your weapon, even if it was powered up in a previous section, and take on the bosses of the game that will give you plenty of trouble if you aren’t prepared. These sections are also alright, given how you can blaze through them quickly, and there are multiple types of these sections, such as ones where you can get plenty of treasure chests to increase your high score. However, like I mentioned earlier, when you are in these sections and are walking on the ground, you move reeeeeeeeeeeeallly slow, and while the sections themselves don’t last that long, it still does drag the game’s pacing to a screeching halt, which I am not that much of a fan of.
And speaking of not being a fan of, I am not a fan of a lot of the elements this game has, such as its repetitive nature. Despite the environments differing in the shooting sections, all of the level layouts, enemies, and section designs are the exact same throughout the entire game, making things feel extremely repetitive, especially when you have to play through five separate areas in order to beat the game. Even then, when you beat the game, you don’t even get that much of an ending. You just get a single screen of text, and then the game immediately restarts. I mean, I know that it is an arcade game from 1986, but you couldn’t have at least provided some kind of an illustration to go along with the text, or even some more text, like credits or something? It just makes the whole thing feel like even more of a waste of time.
Overall, despite how the game combines gameplay styles that make it feel pretty unique for the time, Legendary Wings ends up being a boring and repetitive slog, one that I did enjoy for a good bit when I did play it, but not a game that I think I will ever go back to in my life. I guess I could recommend it for those who are fans of arcade shooters, or even if you are a fan of Capcom’s arcade titles, but aside from that, you can just skip this one. Besides, it’s not like this game is ever going to get any kind of continuation or remake. It’s only going to get cameos in Capcom crossover games, and even then, that is just pity. PITY, I TELL YOU!
Game #351