Actually after posting that review I went and did Yuterald's route up to the point it was the same as Shaluami's. I thought Yuterald's (Darius) route suffered from similar problems to Shaluami's - simple yet tedious puzzles (the mirror cave - once you knew how to make colors from the mirrors, execution was easy, but you had to run a lot.) I enjoyed the above-ground areas, actually, the whole opening sequence up to entering the castle was cool and really felt like proto-Souls.
After learning more about the story - it's kind of funny how similar FromSoft games are story-wise? Is the same person just writing the same story about some dude with a sign being trapped in some weird world? Anyways, that's kind of funny. While minimal and rushed, I did like Yuterald and Shaluami... kind of sad to find out Evergrace 2 is a prequel, but that should also be interesting, I hope...
Overall, unique opening vibes (for sharline, idk about darius). Interesting ideas in the combat system but not executed that interestingly. Felt rushed
Honestly kind of inspiring overall. Didn't finish as it wasn't engaging enough (I liked sonic's the most), but the re-use of levels is cool for its time, as is the hub area... honestly I just liked exploring the hubs the most. Especially with Sonic - the level design, while flashy, didn't feel as interesting as exploring the jungles or ruins and just dashing around. Movement felt best when I was just free to dash whereever, not trying to dodge a weird assemblage of spike balls.
One of my earliest memories of this was renting it, loading up a save file at the last boss and letting the music loop. It's interesting - "Fight Against Smithy, Who Likes Transforming", is arguably a sped-up techno-influenced song (try slowing it to 75% speed), in the way that Kirby Super Star's Cocoa Cave is. I feel like that kind of stylized experimentation is getting rarer amongst game music nowadays, sadly... but that aside!
I replayed a lot of this last year. There's nothing really to the battle system, and it does feel dull after a while, but overlooking that, the pacing of the game's dungeons and scenarios feels breezy despite the 10+ hour playtime.
The story is serviceable, the subversion on Bowser's character is amusing, as is Mallow's arc. Mario's gestures are humorous, making great use of the limited visual vocabulary they had. But depth isn't really the point... it's just a very chill, cozy game to hang out in with some great art direction. The small details with the hotel, bizarre minigames that lead you to new areas, those details all work great here without feeling like they slow the pacing.
You can see a lot of this design thinking in future paper mario games - Origami King comes to mind. But I feel like those games are hampered by slower pacing, and some kind of restrain on creative control (endless Toads).
The influence of future love-de-lic (and alphadream) members is noticeable here in the game's eccentricities. I think it's a great testament to how letting AAA games be a little weird can actually lead to other interesting games down the line!
I didn't play this, just watched it on YouTube. The reunions were actually touching, I liked those! But a lot of the class reunion was based in having investment in the minor school members, which... I didn't... I can't remember what happened in most of this game. I liked the Crow and Rean scenes on the airships. This game seemed too long.
Ah, the trainwreck Trails tetralogy... I was stoked to play Cold Steel after finishing off Zero and Azure - 3D! Erebonia! Olivier lore! Cold Steel I comes off as a padded adventure. For anime JRPG standards, I don't think the cast is terrible. I like Rean and Crow's dynamic, Rean and Jusis have some nice moments during that night scene, Alisa and Rean are cute at times. I probably would have finished this but the game pads everything out over 80 hours, character backstories get shuffled off to the second installment. To cap it off there's no canon love interest, and Rean is a boring protagonist, making it worse.
There's just too much noticeable repetition, Erebonia is too big but somehow, it doesn't FEEL big in the way Liberl felt big, because you're shuttled around in a train all the time.
I quit after about 20 hours and skimmed the rest on YouTube.
I liked a handful of moments - Alisa in her parents' home, Claire and Rean at the bar. But overall I don't think I could recommend this unless you're a die-hard Trails fan (hi...)
Mechanical, tedious, designed for dictionary search algorithms. The appeal of this game is equivalent to everyone scratching off the same lotto ticket once a day - "Oh, I won! Oh, I lost."
Playing for a few weeks with a group of friends was fun, but eventually it's clear that the only thing really supporting this game was the social component, which became less exciting to watch over time. Occasionally a friend would guess it in 2, but most of the time we'd all get 3's or 4's. Getting a 3 still requires luck, but a lot of the time to me it felt like it just required wasting 15 minutes deciding what word was the most likely, scratching off letters on a notepad, taking a guess as to what Wordle's answer dictionary might be.
There's no real interesting riddle-solving here, the design depth is a bit akin to pulling a slot machine, praying for greens and yellows on your first word.
Experimental puzzle/adventure game. Technically you're supposed to play it after playing The Silver Case, but I did that and it only added to the experience a liiiitttle bit. I'm a fan of The Silver Case and to a lesser extent, 25th Ward, and I find FSR the weakest. The ways it formally pushes against playability are memorable, hilarious, tedious, but I don't find the subversions to, overall, be that interesting. Making somewhere really far to walk to only works so far until the point where it just literally becomes making somewhere way too far away.
The narrative doesn't really stick for me... I find it to pull in too many directions and feel almost free-associative, although the imagery of the plane constantly exploding, stuff like the squatting salaryman, are all memorable.
That being said, it still has nice vibes.
This game was too frightening to finish LOL but has a lot of interesting misdirection in the plot, good use of visual novel suspense and horror. Character motivations are hard to read or perceive, the settings feel claustrophobic (in a good way), conveying that isolation the characters face. I'd like to pick it up again some day if I'm feeling braver and on a visual novel kick.
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.