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1 day ago


1 day ago


melos_han_tani finished Kid Icarus
Much more of a 3 if someone were to release this today but gets points for being from the mid-80s. What stuck out to me the most was world 2 - and how the art and platforming challenges would smoothly change over a level. It reminded me of those giant , horizontal wall paintings describing an epic myth or the like - world 2 being like a contracted narration of Pit's journey across the world. The vertical worlds were okay, but not as visually interesting imo
The more glaring missteps aside, I like how precise Pit's movement and the economy of the arrows feel. At some times the enemies are a bit too fast and nimble to mesh well with the movement (the 'money rooms' with 8 of those quick-moving enemies often face this problem), but at other times the movement really shines (like the world 2 boss - I think that was an amazingly elegant application of the game's rules). Reminds me of some of the gunplay from later games like Cave Story or Kero Blaster.
I actually like the ways the vertical section's platforming gets trickier and trickier - world 3's areas where you need to shoot those demons while going back and forth from different sides of the screen were a highlight. (Even if the punishment of dying from falling is way too high...)
The money economy sort of made sense. I liked how you're encouraged to take a bit of risk to clear out screens of enemies so that you could buy health potions later. I feel like the healing springs were a bit overpowered, though...
That being said, this game reminds me of modern roguelites, especially Kid Icarus's room mechanic. The way you get a random assortment of items in the stores. As the game goes on and it gets easier to maintain a safe amount of health, the rooms become less interesting, although I appreciate the fortress levels removing your (overpowered?) weapon/armor upgrades.
The fortress levels were a cool twist, although they never amount to any kind of interesting spatial feeling - merely a labyrinth that feels randomly generated (despite being hand-authored). The need to buy the mapping items is a mistake - smaller dungeons without maps or automapping from the start would have been more interesting.
Other than that, I do love the kind of structural play Kid Icarus does with the labyrinth, vertical and horizontal levels...even if it's not executed great all the time
The finale was disappointing - to me, turning the game into a poorly executed shmup was not the best way to make finding these 'three great treasures' feel exciting. Pit's movement is slow and imprecise, the level often boring with lots of waiting, the only reasonable Medusa strategy (hanging to the back of the screen) feels like a cheese more than anything. If you removed the flying and made it a high or double jump, then built some enemies around pit's Light Arrow and the Shielding Mechanic, that could have made for a fun twist on what the game had been building up the whole way.

12 days ago


melos_han_tani completed Kid Icarus
Much more of a 3 if someone were to release this today but gets points for being from the mid-80s. What stuck out to me the most was world 2 - and how the art and platforming challenges would smoothly change over a level. It reminded me of those giant , horizontal wall paintings describing an epic myth or the like - world 2 being like a contracted narration of Pit's journey across the world. The vertical worlds were okay, but not as visually interesting imo
The more glaring missteps aside, I like how precise Pit's movement and the economy of the arrows feel. At some times the enemies are a bit too fast and nimble to mesh well with the movement (the 'money rooms' with 8 of those quick-moving enemies often face this problem), but at other times the movement really shines (like the world 2 boss - I think that was an amazingly elegant application of the game's rules). Reminds me of some of the gunplay from later games like Cave Story or Kero Blaster.
I actually like the ways the vertical section's platforming gets trickier and trickier - world 3's areas where you need to shoot those demons while going back and forth from different sides of the screen were a highlight. (Even if the punishment of dying from falling is way too high...)
The money economy sort of made sense. I liked how you're encouraged to take a bit of risk to clear out screens of enemies so that you could buy health potions later. I feel like the healing springs were a bit overpowered, though...
That being said, this game reminds me of modern roguelites, especially Kid Icarus's room mechanic. The way you get a random assortment of items in the stores. As the game goes on and it gets easier to maintain a safe amount of health, the rooms become less interesting, although I appreciate the fortress levels removing your (overpowered?) weapon/armor upgrades.
The fortress levels were a cool twist, although they never amount to any kind of interesting spatial feeling - merely a labyrinth that feels randomly generated (despite being hand-authored). The need to buy the mapping items is a mistake - smaller dungeons without maps or automapping from the start would have been more interesting.
Other than that, I do love the kind of structural play Kid Icarus does with the labyrinth, vertical and horizontal levels...even if it's not executed great all the time
The finale was disappointing - to me, turning the game into a poorly executed shmup was not the best way to make finding these 'three great treasures' feel exciting. Pit's movement is slow and imprecise, the level often boring with lots of waiting, the only reasonable Medusa strategy (hanging to the back of the screen) feels like a cheese more than anything. If you removed the flying and made it a high or double jump, then built some enemies around pit's Light Arrow and the Shielding Mechanic, that could have made for a fun twist on what the game had been building up the whole way.

12 days ago


melos_han_tani completed Metroid II: Return of Samus
It was nice to learn about Hiroji Kiyotake, one of the directors of Metroid II, and probably a leading force in the sheer personality and fun that a run of good GB platformers have - Metroid II, Super Mario Land 2, the Wario Lands...
Despite having played most Metroid games I'd never played Metroid 2. I bounced off of it a few times, but after roughing it through Metroid 1 (another brilliant game), I went ahead and played through 2.
At first I was hesitant about the structure of the game - seeming to move away from the chaotic maze of Metroid 1 for a more linear experience. But I think the structure of Metroid 2 - that of burrowing into an ant farm, exploring smaller labyrinths budding from a main path - works well. It enforces the narrative of Samus as this bounty hunter, cold bringer of death, her triumphant "overworld medley" song being replaced by the quiet nature and sounds of Metroids merely living at home.
The black and white graphics look amazing at times - especially level 3 with its mechanical sand maze and the vertical, overgrown shafts. At its best there's a real sense of encroaching into disturbing territory, the way it feels to peer from a safe path into a deep patch of forest. The variety of 'nests' the game manages to convey is inspiring! The game fully understands its visual format and how to exploit it. Metroid fights remain tricky to cheese, with the metroid becoming invincible offscreen, always feeling claustrophobic and chaotic, thrilling.
There are a handful of rough edges (the lack of save points, occasional missile/energy grinding) but I think the rest of the game makes up for it. I love the setpieces with the Metroid counter resetting in the lair, or the omega metroid attacking you after killing the alpha, or the lair of the omegas. I do think that the art could have been a bit more interesting at parts, especially with all of the vine background layers in level 3 - some later levels feel a bit empty .
That being said, the atmosphere never feels overexplained. It was fun to stumble upon the massive Chozo compounds, with dangerous robots, butted right up against Metroid caves and lush caverns.

Shoutout to the ambient music, which works really well! Unsettling, dark stuff, really understanding the 'texture' of the game boy sound palette.
--
Overall, it's a very strong game, but I can't give it the "5 stars'... I think it might be related to the economy of ammo and energy and how they inevitably shift way in your favor as you progress through the game - enemy encounters always feel a little less exciting once you have the screw attack, plasma beam, etc. It feels a bit counter to the narrative they're setting up with you diving into more dangerous lairs. The Omega metroid may look spooky, but it's not much of a threat with my 150 missiles, varia suit, and 500 energy.

14 days ago


melos_han_tani finished Iblard: Laputa no Kaeru Machi
A game based on the fantasy world, "Iblard", of Inoue Naohisa. He has a bunch of "Natural Encyclopedias" (https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%82%A4%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89%E5%8D%9A%E7%89%A9%E8%AA%8C-%E4%BA%95%E4%B8%8A-%E7%9B%B4%E4%B9%85/dp/4906268587) of Iblard, featuring many of his paintings from the 70s-present day, with little poetic descriptions of the things or places in the scene. I've know there's a game set in this world for a while, but never got around to playing it, and...
... sadly, some things are better in their original medium. The paintings are fun because they have a game-like spatial composition to it, their descriptions are "random" in that we see bits and pieces of Iblard (such as the cone-like Laputa, the trains, etc) , described in a way that's fun to imagine.
The game, instead, ties a bunch of these visual motifs into a game in a way that feels a little awkward. The game misunderstands how the wonder of Iblard works in its original medium, instead creating this 'assorted bag' of what amount to references to Iblard. The story involves a boy sucked into a picture book of Iblard, he's apparently trapped there but can do something regarding creating a "Laputa" (the flying saucer thing in the cover) to escape. As he goes along he meets some characters that pop up in the Iblard manga.
It's indeed cool, in theory, to explore and see places that the Iblard paintings and manga feature, but at some point in between the simple Myst-like puzzles and clunky 1st-person movement, the game feels like an awkward disservice to Inoue's paintings. Occasionally you literally see a painting from one of his art books, with a description that is sometimes the same as the artbooks themselves, offering info about the world. That's a neat approach, I guess, not much different from the way item lore functions in Dark Souls.
The spaces in the game are boring to walk around, occasionally you can tilt your camera or see over a small vista to get a nice sense of place, but honestly compared to the paintings I don't think this game does much visually... perhaps some games are better unplayed...
In some ways I wish this game waited a few years to be made. While I'm hesitant to say 'more graphics = better!' I think a few more years of better 3D controls and visual practices could have really helped out here. Of course, granted that they get rid of the terrible game design... enjoying Iblard's paintings is very much about vibing with and imagining yourself there, so in that sense I think a game similar to My Summer Vacation (Boku no Natsuyasumi), Attack of the Friday Monsters could work really well with the setting, depending on how willing the painter would be with letting a team write their own stories into the world.
Lastly, while I wasn't personally a fan of the music, it did resemble some of the Japanese ambient/new age/environmental music that is being uploaded to YouTube a lot nowadays, so it's worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuiq93gh0lk

1 month ago


melos_han_tani completed Iblard: Laputa no Kaeru Machi
A game based on the fantasy world, "Iblard", of Inoue Naohisa. He has a bunch of "Natural Encyclopedias" (https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%82%A4%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%89%E5%8D%9A%E7%89%A9%E8%AA%8C-%E4%BA%95%E4%B8%8A-%E7%9B%B4%E4%B9%85/dp/4906268587) of Iblard, featuring many of his paintings from the 70s-present day, with little poetic descriptions of the things or places in the scene. I've know there's a game set in this world for a while, but never got around to playing it, and...
... sadly, some things are better in their original medium. The paintings are fun because they have a game-like spatial composition to it, their descriptions are "random" in that we see bits and pieces of Iblard (such as the cone-like Laputa, the trains, etc) , described in a way that's fun to imagine.
The game, instead, ties a bunch of these visual motifs into a game in a way that feels a little awkward. The game misunderstands how the wonder of Iblard works in its original medium, instead creating this 'assorted bag' of what amount to references to Iblard. The story involves a boy sucked into a picture book of Iblard, he's apparently trapped there but can do something regarding creating a "Laputa" (the flying saucer thing in the cover) to escape. As he goes along he meets some characters that pop up in the Iblard manga.
It's indeed cool, in theory, to explore and see places that the Iblard paintings and manga feature, but at some point in between the simple Myst-like puzzles and clunky 1st-person movement, the game feels like an awkward disservice to Inoue's paintings. Occasionally you literally see a painting from one of his art books, with a description that is sometimes the same as the artbooks themselves, offering info about the world. That's a neat approach, I guess, not much different from the way item lore functions in Dark Souls.
The spaces in the game are boring to walk around, occasionally you can tilt your camera or see over a small vista to get a nice sense of place, but honestly compared to the paintings I don't think this game does much visually... perhaps some games are better unplayed...
In some ways I wish this game waited a few years to be made. While I'm hesitant to say 'more graphics = better!' I think a few more years of better 3D controls and visual practices could have really helped out here. Of course, granted that they get rid of the terrible game design... enjoying Iblard's paintings is very much about vibing with and imagining yourself there, so in that sense I think a game similar to My Summer Vacation (Boku no Natsuyasumi), Attack of the Friday Monsters could work really well with the setting, depending on how willing the painter would be with letting a team write their own stories into the world.
Lastly, while I wasn't personally a fan of the music, it did resemble some of the Japanese ambient/new age/environmental music that is being uploaded to YouTube a lot nowadays, so it's worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuiq93gh0lk

1 month ago


melos_han_tani finished FantaStep
Visually this game is very pretty - lots of early 3D spaces, interesting color palettes, especially the overworlds. I played the first hour here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxhU8zYErJ8
The game uses 2D sprites in 3D areas to neat effect, I love the cactus towers (sabokuri), and it was fun to see what areas each new kingdom held.
The writing was... pretty bare bones. The arcs in each kingdom feel sort of like a broken JRPG - you might stick a thorn into a train to slow it down. Or rescue a clan of chickens from an invasion. Or fix a rainbow bridge by finding 7 items, or help a marriage that's going to go wrong... most of the time it's fairly unremarkable, but occasionally some situations are surreal and unique - a guesthouse owner in the middle of a jungle, with a single guest - a man who can't wake up. Other humans trapped in the storybook, forced to work as clowns forever.
Due to how the game works, it's possible to miss entire kingdoms based on very unnoticeable decisions (I did). I might do a playthrough again to see those areas. Which leads to my next point - as an adventure game Fantastep... sucks lol. Puzzle solutions range from obvious to impossible to guess (one involves you having to return to the same room 5 or 6 times to find a different clue in the same spot). At one point I beat the final boss before saving each kingdom, and it set flags in such a way that some kingdom's quests were automatically completed. It's possible to miss items to complete quests! The game requires you to find 5 flower rings. The game actually has 7 or 8, relying on clues from hidden fairies to decipher which are the ones you want to use. I used the wrong rings and got the bad ending, but at that point I was locked out of the good end, and didn't really care...
Overall a pretty rough game with some great art and music. I really like the strange storybook fantasy atmosphere, even if it's roughly and poorly rendered. Definitely makes me want to check out similar vibe games from the mid/late 90s, like Napple Tale.

1 month ago


melos_han_tani completed FantaStep
Visually this game is very pretty - lots of early 3D spaces, interesting color palettes, especially the overworlds. I played the first hour here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxhU8zYErJ8
The game uses 2D sprites in 3D areas to neat effect, I love the cactus towers (sabokuri), and it was fun to see what areas each new kingdom held.
The writing was... pretty bare bones. The arcs in each kingdom feel sort of like a broken JRPG - you might stick a thorn into a train to slow it down. Or rescue a clan of chickens from an invasion. Or fix a rainbow bridge by finding 7 items, or help a marriage that's going to go wrong... most of the time it's fairly unremarkable, but occasionally some situations are surreal and unique - a guesthouse owner in the middle of a jungle, with a single guest - a man who can't wake up. Other humans trapped in the storybook, forced to work as clowns forever.
Due to how the game works, it's possible to miss entire kingdoms based on very unnoticeable decisions (I did). I might do a playthrough again to see those areas. Which leads to my next point - as an adventure game Fantastep... sucks lol. Puzzle solutions range from obvious to impossible to guess (one involves you having to return to the same room 5 or 6 times to find a different clue in the same spot). At one point I beat the final boss before saving each kingdom, and it set flags in such a way that some kingdom's quests were automatically completed. It's possible to miss items to complete quests! The game requires you to find 5 flower rings. The game actually has 7 or 8, relying on clues from hidden fairies to decipher which are the ones you want to use. I used the wrong rings and got the bad ending, but at that point I was locked out of the good end, and didn't really care...
Overall a pretty rough game with some great art and music. I really like the strange storybook fantasy atmosphere, even if it's roughly and poorly rendered. Definitely makes me want to check out similar vibe games from the mid/late 90s, like Napple Tale.

1 month ago


melos_han_tani finished Metroid
Pleasantly surprised at parts with Metroid! Dark Souls bonfire runs have nothing towards the run through Tourian, or making your way through ridiculously precise rooms of Kraid or Ridley's Lair before having to win at equally ridiculous fights.
The silence of Metroid's world works great - the art feels creepier and more organic as you go deeper into the planet, only to at times be replaced by the metallic architecture of Ridley or Kraid. It really conveys the sense of being in an alien planet, one that we'll never see all of, and one that wants Samus dead.
I found the moveset to be really well designed - not being able to shoot down and Samus being two tiles high means you have to really be aware of what's at your feet as well as how that distance affects where you shoot and jump. The screw attack adds an interesting (if chaotic) extra layer of strategy to later levels - although it feels powerful at first, it has an element of the unreliable against the flying beetles, and can feel slightly stiff to pull off in certain situations.
Enemy patterns can be very difficult but I feel like every room had some kind of 'solution', even if it was very hard to pull off. I found some of the timing windows too intense - the very long, narrow corridor in Ridley's lair with endless flying beetle pipes come to mind. Likewise, it can be hard to get your bearings as your health meter quickly depletes, with the game severely lagging when multiple enemies are on screen, and Samus's slightly limited movement conflicting with enemies that are somewhat too quick.
Health is hard to come by: this feels balanced throughout brinstar and Norfair, but takes a turn for the worse in Ridley and Kraid's areas. Part of this was that I never found the Varia suit (50% damage reduction!), but I do think that some of the long runs from the elevator to the bosses were just Too long, especially when you have to grind your health back after dying.
I thought the long beam, bombs, ice beam, missiles were all great additions to the arsenal, having their place within combat. Having the ice beam the whole game led to a really weird dynamic of having to be more precise with shots so as to not unfreeze enemies.
Room designs were generally pretty varied, and I liked that! It really felt like I was just stumbling across loot that the pirates left around - not as much like it was just a big world full of upgrades to find, designed just for me. That worked thematically with the setting. I liked that some rooms had an element of humor - the hidden hole near an energy tank, the secret morph ball passage beneath an otherwise very hard gauntlet, etc.
The copy pasted rooms felt a bit cheap, but it did add to the sense of being in a maze. I had a lot of fun drawing out my own maps for this game.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised! There's a lot to this game that could be improved, but I don't think improvement looks like Super Metroid. Key to this game are the arcade-y, yet nonlinear, stretches of making it to the next elevator or boss, and the way the game demands you to intimately know how to handle enemies and be on your guard. Things can go south really fast relative to other metroid games.

1 month ago


melos_han_tani completed Metroid
Pleasantly surprised at parts with Metroid! Dark Souls bonfire runs have nothing towards the run through Tourian, or making your way through ridiculously precise rooms of Kraid or Ridley's Lair before having to win at equally ridiculous fights.
The silence of Metroid's world works great - the art feels creepier and more organic as you go deeper into the planet, only to at times be replaced by the metallic architecture of Ridley or Kraid. It really conveys the sense of being in an alien planet, one that we'll never see all of, and one that wants Samus dead.
I found the moveset to be really well designed - not being able to shoot down and Samus being two tiles high means you have to really be aware of what's at your feet as well as how that distance affects where you shoot and jump. The screw attack adds an interesting (if chaotic) extra layer of strategy to later levels - although it feels powerful at first, it has an element of the unreliable against the flying beetles, and can feel slightly stiff to pull off in certain situations.
Enemy patterns can be very difficult but I feel like every room had some kind of 'solution', even if it was very hard to pull off. I found some of the timing windows too intense - the very long, narrow corridor in Ridley's lair with endless flying beetle pipes come to mind. Likewise, it can be hard to get your bearings as your health meter quickly depletes, with the game severely lagging when multiple enemies are on screen, and Samus's slightly limited movement conflicting with enemies that are somewhat too quick.
Health is hard to come by: this feels balanced throughout brinstar and Norfair, but takes a turn for the worse in Ridley and Kraid's areas. Part of this was that I never found the Varia suit (50% damage reduction!), but I do think that some of the long runs from the elevator to the bosses were just Too long, especially when you have to grind your health back after dying.
I thought the long beam, bombs, ice beam, missiles were all great additions to the arsenal, having their place within combat. Having the ice beam the whole game led to a really weird dynamic of having to be more precise with shots so as to not unfreeze enemies.
Room designs were generally pretty varied, and I liked that! It really felt like I was just stumbling across loot that the pirates left around - not as much like it was just a big world full of upgrades to find, designed just for me. That worked thematically with the setting. I liked that some rooms had an element of humor - the hidden hole near an energy tank, the secret morph ball passage beneath an otherwise very hard gauntlet, etc.
The copy pasted rooms felt a bit cheap, but it did add to the sense of being in a maze. I had a lot of fun drawing out my own maps for this game.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised! There's a lot to this game that could be improved, but I don't think improvement looks like Super Metroid. Key to this game are the arcade-y, yet nonlinear, stretches of making it to the next elevator or boss, and the way the game demands you to intimately know how to handle enemies and be on your guard. Things can go south really fast relative to other metroid games.

1 month ago


1 month ago


melos_han_tani completed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
didn't have time to finish but i had a good time. Even on Very Hard the combat still felt too easy though? Maybe I overrelied on the stunning weapons. fun and fast paced though. story was kind of hit or miss, had a fun 3D cartoon movie vibe at the best parts, and felt kinda tired/played out at the worst parts.

1 month ago


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1 month ago


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