Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Mongrel » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:29 pm

Brentai wrote:My experience with playing DOOMII ("doooo meeee") for the first time in 2020 is that I didn't hate Archviles even half as much as I hated Revenants. With two decades of WASD experience under your belt and in an ingrained tendency to wait and counter, Archviles are a cinch. Revenants though, their rocket fireball rockets love to do a completely improbable 180 and hit you in the back if you try to just sidestep them, often forcing you to run like an idiot to the nearest sharp corner of the map to deal with them. My strategy for dealing with them became "Never let them shoot!" which works great in that city level where you spawn in with a pair of them in sniper position over you.

Revenants were (and probably still are) definitely among my most feared enemies in DOOM 2, because yeah, they're glass cannons, but they're still NASTY-ASS glass cannons. And the glass isn't so thin that it's "hit them and they die", you still have to get a couple well-placed shots in.

Archviles are easier to deal with, but there's one level (can't remember which) where they put one in an area full of a bunch of thin brown overlapping walls made up of gratings you can see through, but are too dense to fire through, and that area is TOUGH, man. He can run around raising shit and blowing you up just fine, and you get to watch him do it 2-3 walls away, without direct line of sight to fire on him, so you have to go chasing his skinny run-forrest-run ass down.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:56 pm

nosimpleway wrote:Like the prevalence of 1/256 drops and the item-swapping Monkey Cave, it feels like a relic of a time where design philosophy was very different.

The monkey cave would be tolerable if not for (1) the limited inventory system and (2) being situated in a part of the game where you've just lost 1/3 of your party and the corresponding item storage capacity.

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:40 am

The Monkey cave is specifically designed to waste your time and annoy you, which I can respect in a way that I don't respect vs PRV.

I'm not saying the Monkey Cave is good, but at least you know the devs were intentionally trolling you. Valley just feels like an area of the game they forgot to playtest and balance.

But yeah, the game would be better without both.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:17 pm

13. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC)

It's hard to overstate how much I was looking forward to this game. SotN is one of my favorite games ever and I've loved all the Igavanias. I was a little worried about Bloodstained because of how some other Kickstarted games turned out to be kind bleh, but oh man, Bloodstained delivered and delivered hard.

You play as Miriam, a girl who kicks. Catalack stole your best shoes so you chase him into a castle but he is too fast. Along the way you have to kick enemies as you try to catch up to Catalack but fail, he is too fast and some weird kid who looks like the artist just traced over Goku keeps running back and forth over your sprite, slowing you down.

When playing the side game that is not about racing (and losing to) Catalack, Bloodstained plays like all the best ideas from all the Igavanias Iga ever worked on. Bloodstained doesn't mess around with gimmicks but instead just delivers on concepts that have worked in the past. A variety of weapon types, shops, quests, crafting, gaining soullike shards from enemies that unlock new abilities and passive boosts. As is typical with metroidvanias, the castle unfolds slowly as you gain access to new abilities, like double jump, swimming, inverting the whole universe, and ripping holes in space/time in order to go through a wall. Eventually you even catch up to Catalack, who, disguised as a ninja, will race you and if you win give you his super speed.

The graphics and music are both absolutely gorgeous, perfectly capturing that gothic fantasy feel we've all come to love more than life itself. Even Miriam can get her haircut and dyed so she can be a pink blonde who kicks skeletons.

The game now comes with a randomizer mode and playable Zangetsu, so it's the complete package. It's every Igavania fan's dream.

Do I recommend this game:
Yes. I think it's actually a good starter Igavania for anyone who hasn't played a Metroidvania before. It's nice and easy with plenty of overpowered shards to abuse for newbies.

Gameplay: 8. Miriam controls exactly like I want her to with all the shorthop attacking and kicking I could ever desire. The shards are plentiful and allow you to murder your way through monsters by throwing flying pigs at them. Or just spamming chain lightning or ARISE MYSELF AND MY SHADOW, whatever you want.

Experience: 8.5. Absolutely beautiful art and music design. Lulzy voice acting, as required. Robert Belgrade shows up and isn't Alucard. But is also Alucard. David Hayter shows up and isn't Snake. But is also Snake.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:03 pm

12. Order of Ecclesia (DS)

OoE is my favorite Igavania (Not counting Bloodstained) for three reasons:

1. It's very experimental. Using glyphs instead of weapons to attack, making every attack consume mana but mana replenish quickly, tons of elemental attacks and weaknesses, (and making them relevant) quests, all this stuff was basically brand new to the Igavania formula and added a ton.

2. It's the most challenging Igavania. (Including Bloodstained, this time.) Bosses will fuck you up. Gone is the ability to just "potion through" boss fights as potions are limited and do not heal you for much. You are required to learn each boss pattern and adapt to it. Seriously, the boss fights in OoE feel like actual bosses and not just minor speedbumps that you can just chug through. A key thing is finding the right glyph against the right boss. Sometimes this means using its elemental weakness, but often it's just about finding the right shape of attack. Long range, short range, medium range, a slew of options is available to you and you will have to experiment to find what works.

3. You can turn into a cat and talk to cats

Is OoE the best Igavania? Well, it depends on what you want. The high degree of difficulty actually turned off more casual players who were used to Igavanias letting you become as powerful as you wanted to be and break the game in half. OoE instead breaks you in half.

The game can be kind of grindy. You might end up having to farm the same chest spawns a lot.

All of the Igavanias offer a different flavor of Iga goodness. OoE happens to be the spiciest. Not everyone likes spicy. And that's okay. But I love games that force the player to play by their rules. You want to beat this boss? No, we won't let you cheese it by hiding in the corner, he's got a move that hits you there. Using flight against Dracula to chain hits into his head without having to jump? Okay, he uses a one hit kill move on you.

A lot of people hate that kind of shit. They want to be able to dictate terms to the game, not the other way around. After all, it's a game and games are meant to be fun, not punishing or cruel. And that's a fair way of looking at it. Not every game is for every player.

But me? You know me.

Do I recommend this game:
Funny, this is the only Igavania I would hesitate to tell someone to play. Again, it's a different animal than the rest of them, even Bloodstained, which borrows ideas from OoE. It's not, like, Dark Souls hard or anything, but it is not a walk in the park either. This game is best described as an uphill climb, so you can relish the view when you make it.

Gameplay: 9. Shanoa is a beautiful and deadly creature, but the enemies (especially the bosses) pack a wallop. I love the quickswap between glyph sets, I love that the game actually makes you care about elements, and I love the boss design.

Experience: 7.5. Great artwork and sound. Shanoa's sprite is incredible. However, a good bit of the level design is flat and boring. I almost feel like the designers were just bored while making the stages.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Blossom » Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:11 pm

I did replay OoE a few months ago. It was fun! I've never been able to go back to the Sora entries but this was solid.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:26 pm

11. Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse (NES)

My god, this game.

First, before we go any further, I actually recommend playing the JP/Famicom version "Akumajo Densetsu". It's superior in that it's got the sound chip, the enemies are rebalanced so they do static damage based on what enemy they are rather than the escalating CV1 style (2 in early stages, then 3, then 4 per hit, regardless of source) which makes for an overall easier playthrough, and Grant gets his throwing dagger so he can be as awesome as he should be.

Oh, and they added a bunch more enemy spawns in the US version to. And trust me, CV3 is plenty hard enough in the JP version. Go with the original here, it's superior in every way except you can't read what Alucard is saying.

Speaking of Alucard: CV3 introduces the ally system, in which three different characters can be recruited to your roster (though only one at a time).

They are:

Bad Boy Alucard in his first appearance, sporting the traditional slicked back black vampire hairdo, the ability to shoot fireballs from his cape flourishes, and bat form as his unique ability

Sypha, the frail and weak attacker, but has insanely powerful subweapons/spells

And Grant, who is fucking rad to the max. Climb walls and throw axes. Climb right over whole sections of stages. Playthrough that annoying moving platform part? Nah bro I'm just gonna climb right up into the status bar and skip all that shit

Each character has their individual strengths and weaknesses. Trevor/Ralph is the Belmont and excels at brawling. Alucard has a wide attack range and can fly. Sypha's spells are super powerful, and Grant is quick and slippery like an eel, able to climb around and avoid attacks.

Now let's talk about the best part of the game: The atmosphere.

A lot has been said about how CV1 gives the player a real sense of traversing and progressing due to it's inter-stage map screen. Said screen returns in CV3, but this time, the route isn't forced: The player can pick where they go. Certain paths will lead you to different characters and different routes/levels into the castle. Each path even varies in how difficult it is, the quick Sypha/Ship path is the easiest, while the long bottom Alucard path that eventually takes you all up through the castle basement is the hardest.

Journeying through the countryside has never been so amazing on a NES game. The graphics are incredible and remain some of the absolute the best the NES has on offer. The music is just, so great. I had to seriously grit my teeth when I picked my favorite for the link at the top, because there were some other tracks that were equally good. (In the end, when I think of CV3, I think of the Frogs leaping through the muck of a swamp.) The sound design is crisp and fresh. The forest stage has a thunderstorm crashing in the background. There's a level that's filled with the noise of rushing water through an aqueduct. Each stage is memorable not just for its design but for the sounds you associate with them.

Is there such a thing as a perfect platformer? Probably not, but CV3 comes close.

Do I recommend this game:
If I was talking about the NES version, I'd have to give a warning about the difficulty. But if you play the original Famicom version, you should be okay. The game is still plenty challenging, but not too cruel. And this is simply too much of a masterpiece of old school classicvania/platforming goodness to skip.

Gameplay: 8. The best when it comes to Classicvania. But it's still got the old clunky feel that drags it down a bit, such as not being to jump onto or off of stairs. Grant's controls are a bit hard to get used to. The bosses are actually kind of boring and they make you do repeat fights. (Drac is good though.)

Experience: 9. Absolutely amazing. The world feels truly alive, and achieving that level of immersion on NES graphics and sound (even if the game had a special sound chip) is a real feat.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:44 pm

One of only two Famicom games I own in cartridge form (the other is Kid Dracula; I got them both in the same eBay auction).

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:38 pm

Welp, that's the list up to my top 10.

But seeing how my top ten has actually changed a bit, I suppose I'll go through it anyway, if for no other reason than to just make the thread title accurate.

From now on, this is an ordered list. We're dropping the tier system.

So, I like 9 better then 10, 8 better than 9, etc. Spoilers: My list hasn't changed THAT MUCH since when I last posted it, so if you remember it from a few years ago this isn't going to surprise you or anything. But there are a few new games to talk about, and I might be able to conjure up some new things to say about SotN or whatever.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:39 pm

Alucard is really sexy and i'm going to marry him look at his fluffy outfit omg
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:42 am

It's big boy time.

10. Bloodborne (PS4)

Dark what? What souls? Pfffft. Wait, you use a shield?

Bloodborne is Dark Souls on steroids and in fast forward. Replacing the roll we have quick step, a faster and shorter dodge move and the core of the gameplay. Where Dark Souls incentivizes you to play slowly and carefully, cautiously taking each new area step by step, Bloodborne does the exact opposite. Gone is turtling behind a shield. You got hit? Retaliate within a set window and you can regain that health. Enemies are more vicious than ever before but are also more prone to hitstun, forcing the player to go on the offensive in order to survive.

Bosses are meaner and almost hilariously faster. Reaction and twitch combat is the name of the game. This is a game about getting into the brawl and coming out of it with victory grasped in your teeth and blood on your jaw. You will take damage, but you'll give as much as you take. The back and forth created by the retaliation system transforms combat into a glorious blood pumping tug of war. In Dark Souls, taking damage meant going on the defensive, waiting for a chance to use Estus to recover your health. In Bloodborne, it means going even harder on the offense.

And though I disliked that Blood Vials (the game's version of Estus) were a consumable rather than replenishable at bonfires at first, this is the correct design. This further encourages players to go on the offensive. Sure, you can heal up and play it safe, but you're not getting that Blood Vial back, so you might as well try to get that HP back in combat.

So, why? Why is it so great that the player is nearly forced into a playstyle? Is being a turtle who waits for their moment really so bad?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is "Fast paced edge of your seat gritty brawling where every action counts and dodge-counterhit is lightning fast is a lot more fun of a playstyle than just holding the shield button until your enemy drops his guard."

This is commonly known by the vets of the Souls community, where Shield-use is considered the "newbie" way to play the game. And that's certainly true! I used a shield early on in my Dark Souls adventures. But by the time I got to Bloodborne after playing DS 1, 2, and 3, I had learned better. I had learned that the game is simply more fun if you play it without a shield and instead rely on your dodge, your reaction, and your instincts.

And that's what Bloodborne is trying to tell you. It's trying to tell you that the gameplay style it's pushing you toward is actually the best and most fun way to play the game. And they're right, it is.

Bloodborne also features weapons that can transform, even mid-combo, leading to all kinds of tactical attack choices. Some enemies are better dealt with this way, others that way. You've also got your gun, which can either be used as an actual attack strategy or simply as a riposte. Gone is the backstab because it was stupid. Staggers can now be achieved simply by a fully charged heavy attack. But throwing out a slow attack in a game this quick is usually an invitation to get murdered.

The basic plot is you're a werewolf hunter dropped into a city full of werewolves, but that slowly gives way to the true majesty of Bloodborne. Lovecraftian themes and monsters. Dark dreams and twisted nightmares. Brain sucking horrors. Unknowable cosmic entities.

As you play, you will gain "insight" which is sort of the game's sanity, but in reverse. Instead of losing your sanity, you gain insight, allowing you to see more and more of the true nature of what is going on in Yharnam. But do you really want to?

Do I recommend this game:
To a souls fan? you bet your fucking ass I do. It's the best of them by a mile. To someone who wants to play a game to wind down and relax? Again, the Souls series is not about that. Bloodborne is not for everyone. But for the people is IS for, it's the rare game I would call "essential."

Gameplay: 9.5. The best a souls game has to offer. Bloody, blistering combat that gets your blood up like nothing I've played.

Experience: 9.5. This game is fucking creepy in the best goddamn possible way. The graphics are amazing and the sound design impeccable. It only lacks real characters with depth.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:49 am

obligatory:

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:51 am

9. Contra (NES)

Contra is the purest game for me. It's a run n gun and it does not fuck around with anything else. There's no handholding or tutorial or boring part. You land in the jungle and start running and gunning.

I've already talked about this one, so I don't have a lot more to say about it. Fire sucks and should be better, spread is overpowered and should be worse. The final boss is a bit underwhelming. That's about it for the flaws.

So why do I love this game so much? Again, it's the purity. It's a game that does what it does without any frills or anything to get in the way of a simple yet absolutely amazing experience.

On a technical level, the game is pretty well put together to get around hardware limitations. In order to break sprite limits, the game constantly alternately flickers your shots, so that only a certain amount are on screen at any time. This allows contra to have a lot more going on than other shooting games at the time.

Enemy design is also solid. Aside from the backpack troopers and the random patterns of a boss or two, the game's enemy design is entirely deterministic. I'm not saying it's not ball-breakingly difficult or doesn't require memorization, but the lack of rng means that once learned, you can consistently overcome the enemies you encounter with proper inputs. Boss rng patterns are telegraphed and able to be reacted to in a fair manner. This may sound like a NO DUH thing, but games at the time did not generally have this level of fairness in their design.

It may seem odd that such a simple and old game ranks this highly on my list, even beating out a masterpiece like Bloodborne. And certainly in terms of scope, Bloodborne (and plenty of other games below this one) absolutely smash Contra. But in terms of simple, fine tuned enjoyment, Contra reigns supreme.

Do I recommend this game:
Yeah. Use the Konami code if you're new to x10 your lives and give yourself a fair shot. You can even use continues which basically means you've got 90+ lives to get through the game. Even Romo managed it on his first try, and he fell into the same pit like six times in a row, like four times.

Gameplay: 10. The peak of the run and gun genre as far as I'm concerned, though there are some standouts I've never played (like any Metal Slug game.)

Experience: 6. It's fine. The backgrounds tend to be pretty stark as with a lot of NES titles. The sound design is serviceable but not great. The music is pretty good and elevates my score a bit.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Mongrel » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:08 pm

Friday wrote:9. Contra (NES)

Contra is the purest game for me. It's a run n gun and it does not fuck around with anything else. There's no handholding or tutorial or boring part. You land in the jungle and start running and gunning.
[...]

So why do I love this game so much? Again, it's the purity. It's a game that does what it does without any frills or anything to get in the way of a simple yet absolutely amazing experience.

On a technical level, the game is pretty well put together to get around hardware limitations.


This basically describes the way I feel about Doom/Doom2 and FPSes.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:31 pm

Yeah, as previously mentioned, Doom2 was a very strong contender for this slot. I consider both Contra and Doom2 the ultimate examples of just "shoot enemy" games.
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Friday » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:35 pm

it has come to my attention that I forgot about Time Crisis 2 and it 100% belongs on this list somewhere

Police Trainer is good but I consider TC2 to be the best Lightgun game ever made
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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Caithness » Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:00 pm

Happy to see CV3 so high on the list. I still consider it one of the hardest games I've ever beaten, and it also probably goes a long way in the reason I have more nostalgia for NES than SNES.

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby MrSnrub » Tue Mar 01, 2022 9:01 pm

Fantastic list so far! So where’s #s 8-1?

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Re: Friday's Ultimate Vanity Project: 100 Games, 100 Reviews

Postby Thad » Wed Mar 02, 2022 12:31 pm

I dunno if Friday will get around to finishing up this list, but here are a couple of her past lists that cover some of the same ground:

Top Ten Best Single Player Video Games (2013)

Friday's Top Ten Multiplayer Games (2019)

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