I'm not done with this yet, but I love the mixture of JRPG storytelling, questing, and action platforming. Even if it's a bit janky and unbalanced. I've always felt eh about platforming games that are straight up just levels without some kind of thing to pace it out - Napple Tale is unique (similar to Nayuta no Kiseki or Gurumin) in that you get to return to a town that changes as you explore the stages. You even have to revisit stages to visit certain NPC homes, which gives the action levels an interesting mix of action platformer and JRPG.
The world is mysterious (as it's kind of a purgatory), the quests have a miyazawa kenji-esque whimsy to them. I like how you get to build furniture, even if that system is a bit repetitive. Curious to see where it goes! Also has some great music by Yoko Kanno. Inspiring art direction too. You can also jump on roofs to find stuff, which reminds me of the later Kingdom Hearts.
I wrote about this game a few years ago, idk if I agree with everything but it might be interesting: https://meloshantani.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/banjo2/
Last I played this (2017) I liked it! Good balance of levels that manage to stay navigable, reasonable # of goals and things to find, some fun revisiting with abilities, and the hub world's secrets are still neat. Some recent indie collectathons (like hat in time) feel like their movesets are too acrobatic, causing their levels to balloon confusingly in size by mashing together Super Mario 64 acrobatics-ism and Banjo-Kazooie-collecting-ism. The relative slowness of banjo works to the game's advantage, keeping them manageable. I think Banjo-Tooie had some problems with levels getting too big or having too many screen transitions.
The later levels in Banjo do get a bit unmanageable if you're trying to 100% notes, but outside of that goal it feels fun to learn about the levels and get around.
Great art and music again, and the 3D landscapes were fun to walk through. Haven't played this one in a while but I think the action platforming would come off as a bit slow for my tastes nowadays, but I remember liking looking for the hidden shards in the levels.
The first thing to note is this game's composer, Masamichi Amano, was an actual orchestral, film and anime composer! This was his first stint in games. The music is generally excellent - a lot of times in games, classical-influenced music gets stuck in cliche (think of your typical mediocre town song from a JRPG). You can tell he's drawing on a wide range of experience and that makes it a fun listen
What's neat about Quest 64 is how it's sort of prototypically 'open world', its world an imaginative mix of MMORPG open-ness, 3D towns, dungeons translated from their 2D counterparts. Is it repetitive with its endless battles? Yes. Is it tense in uninteresting and interesting ways? Yes! There is sooo little relief going through long areas like boil hole or blue cave, where one fuck-up means redoing it...
I think the hiding level-ups around the world and towns is really neat still. Also, the game not being hampered by an equipment system helps bring the battles into focus, as does the limited inventory and items in the game creating a unique texture. There's the sense of being a young, underprepared magician.
Sure, you can also use skill points in the wrong element and get stuck with bad builds! That's kind of the fun... and everyone just does the earth avalanche + magic barrier build in the end, so...
The battle system isn't executed perfectly (lining up attacks is tough, dodging is sometimes counterintuitive), but it was experimental and pretty fun most of the time! Not to mention 'seamless'..that buzzword.
I actually think the game is quite beautiful at times, using the low-poly and texture limitations to its advantage. The beanstalk at the end of Cull Hazard, the blues of Nepty's HIdeout, the expansive caverns of Blue Caves. They have an imaginative painterly quality that would be replaced by realistic lighting half the time nowadays...
On top of it all, there's such a quietness to how you progress in this game - only getting a few lines of dialogue from bosses, kings of towns, and the game being quiet otherwise. There isn't much going on in the story, but the point of Quest 64 is the quiet, difficult adventure, and I think the bare story works well in that way.
I played - the open beta I think (must have been, I wasn't old enough to buy games on my own). I think this was entirely a roleplaying game: you would join one of several military-esque organizations, staffed by real players, and have to succeed in missions or tasks (stuff like raids?) and participate to climb the ranks.
I can't remember to what extent you were promoted by purely human players, but the game felt very hang-out-able in a strange way. For me at the time it was fun to pretend to be in some kind of organization, with our main base, defending it from aliens and other players. Raiding other towns was fun.
I was in the "Guardians of Mankind" (lol) and the planet was called "Aquatica". I found this video of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ48sQ5sXRc . Pretty plain looking now, but I remember the outdoors terrace was fun to hang out in.
The game was often empty, so it was fun to just explore other organizations' worlds. Early versions of the game had interesting animation and collision bugs, so you could explore out of bounds sometimes. The dreary, space-ship-esque worlds were full of empty, arguably pointless spaces, and my time playing remains memorable to this day!
I appreciated the amount of mystery within systems that seemed unfinished. For example, in my team's home base, there were rooms with passcodes that stored alien eggs and other items. You played a minigame? to unlock them and if you failed, it triggered a base-wide alarm.
The worlds were also relatively small enough to run around and remember the layouts of... also you had bedrooms. I think I only played for a few months, and don't remember anyone who played, but it was an interesting time!
A formative and strange digital world I spent a lot of time in as a kid. The way that swathes of areas change from one to another, the music, the mystery of higher levels, the limited information in online databases, the mystique of the ever-futuristic "korean versions" that had new content, the weird little rituals of fame and trading and interacting. The sense of depth as you progress towards the Zakum mines, or into the Ant Tunnel. The poor writing and at times broken localization lent itself to a lot of hypothesizing and memorability, the extreme amount of luck required to get stronger equipment bordered on hilarious.
As a game itself... well, I think this game is honest in the sense that there's a ton of grinding, and it sucks ass to do! There's a lot of bizarre and messy decisions, but it adds up (or at least did, for me as a kid) to an overall interesting experience.
Playing as an adult, the magic, of course, is gone, but it's still a game I think about and draw on from time to time.
Pretty remarkable battle system. I think it could be balanced/more interesting but not sure how. Maybe riku's mode will be more interesting?
Dungeons a bit repetitive, normal battles are boring, but the bosses can be interesting at times. Disney story is terrible (retreads of KH1, whose disney arcs were already... bad), but I enjoy the overarching Organization plot.
If I were to redesign this game I would scrap half of the disney dungeons, keep the weird ones, make their stories weirder instead of retreads, and focus more on bosses by reducing the dungeon sizes. Grinding for map cards to get through dungeons was...bad!
The game shines during boss battles, and that's where the interesting narrative meat is, too. I think the battle system could use two improvemets:
- Remove dodge roll
- Remove JUmp
- Replace L+R sleight input with B (or A, I forget, whichever was jump)
Dodge Roll and Jump are vestigial and ported over pointlessly from KH1. In CoM they only serve to muddy the already difficult battle system and make it easy to mess up execution, which makes boss battles borderline impossible. If the bosses were redesigned around you only being able to walk around, it'd be more interesting to play as you could reasonably move, shuffle cards, build sleights.
Still an overall interesting combat system. Wish more games were weird like this!
This review contains spoilers
A few questionable sex scenes aside, this game's atmosphere (the PC-98 version) is spooky, a disturbing depiction of the time loop trope, and one of the most interesting visual novels I've played. Goes to typical ridiculous SF climaxes, but kind of works emotionally? idk. done by a brilliant and small team.
This review contains spoilers
One of our more somber games... the ending is still pretty grim but I think it was the right choice.
I love the meanderingness of the game, walking to a quiet town, exploring some strange structure, then doing it all over again. In some ways it's our "platformer JRPG"...
Features a few of my favorite songs I've written. Karst Pass and Dreamdram Canyon Power Plant feel conjured by some dreamy power I wonder if I can still recapture...
If I have any complaint, I think the game does run on too long, the power plant levels, while interesting in the moment, do lack an overall sense of pacing and drag a bit. The development cycle was loooong and our tools not great, so I think that's why it has the sense of needing to be edited better. (And that's why there's that whole huge weird postgame of unused old areas, sitting under the surface...)
In recent years I forget I made this. What a bizarre space to return to... part visual novel, part extremely sloooow 3D adventure, this was me testing the waters for a 3D game!
I find its spatial composition, lighting, minimal textures to still be stunning, even if they're a bit primitive in terms of technical artistry. I was really (and still am) into photography theory around that time, so I like to think some of that showed...
I still think the messages of the game's story resonate with me in terms of approaching being Asian in the USA. The idea that Chicago is entombed in this game is also a bit eerie for me, since I don't live there anymore.
True, the movement in the game sucks and the writing could be stronger, but hey!