911th played so far

Genre: Fighting
Platform: Playstation 1
Year of Release: 1997
Developer: Light Weight
Publisher: Square/Sony Computer Entertainment

I’ve not heard of Bushido Blade before the blog, and I don’t think I will after – there was a sequel, but it does look like it didn’t go anywhere. It feels like it fits in withe the stylings of the early Dead or Alive and other PS1 fighting game, with a weapon based focused.

Our Thoughts

Bushido Blade’s twist comes out quite early. While other fighting games take some time to get your health down, regardless of whether you fight unarmed or with a weapon, Bushido Blade is a lot more lethal – one or two hits with your weapon and the opponent goes down. It makes for a fast paced game, with blocks and avoidance being far more important, and adds to the tension. You can score quickly by going aggressive, but the risks are there because there is no second chance in here.

In addition, while technically you choose a fighter, the selection is really for the weapon each of them use. It’s the usual combination between a few factors – reach and speed and such – and really becomes the distinguishing mark between the fighters. I played on easy, which really seems well tuned to the level I’m at (an absolute fighting game novice). I got through a few campaigns, which felt good on its own.

Final Thoughts

This game pushed past of my preconceptions of the genre. Despite the PS1 era graphics, the game still looked pretty nice and stayed readable. It was also a game that’s brutal, but well balanced in provide fair, short rounds of fighting, which feels better than the drawn out fights other games offer.

#761 Halo 3

Posted: 22nd November 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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910th played so far

Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

It feels weirdly apt to cover an older Halo game now, as the anniversary edition has been recently released as I type this. It’s the last in the series that’s on the list, although Halo 3: ODST and Halo Wars were released after – we had some scheduling quirks there. Given that we played the first game roughly as far from the start as we’re near the end now, so it feels even more appropriate to try it now.

Our Thoughts

One of the big advantages of the Halo series at its best is its scale and colour – the way it takes on a large, green planet invaded by enemies, when something like Gears of War has a brown destroyed city landscape that is less inviting. Sure, it’s also not as much of a cover shooter, but for an FPS it creates a more pleasant world to move around it. The downside is that you spend a lot of time traveling from place to place, so these are often small set pieces that you don’t really get to know as well. I’ll be honest, similarly, the invasion of aliens on the halo world is as predictable, but it works quite well to keep you motivated through.

The gunplay itself is good – sometimes, I guess, with a few too many enemies, and I was caught out with the weapon scarcity once or twice. You spend a lot of time swapping out weapons you pick up from enemies. I know the scavenging is part of current (console?) games, but it was a bit frustrating to have to plan and move around for. Even so, the rest of the shooting feels good enough and so often manages to fulfill the power fantasy when you can take out a lot of enemies at once on your vehicles.

Final Thoughts

The Halo series under Bungie is deservedly loved and this entry holds up as well as the others. Halo 3 presents a nice world that feeds into the power fantasy that the series offers.

#854 Race Driver: Grid

Posted: 18th November 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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909th played so far

Genre: Racing
Platform: Playstation 3/Xbox 360/PC
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters

I’ve played plenty of racing games,and I’ll be honest, with only a couple more left to go I feel like I need something more to set them apart. At a certain point, a lot of them are the same, street circuits through fairly build up areas except where you drive past a sea or through a ravine – or you go through generic English country landscapes. At the very least, I hope for a decent progression mechanic – the Colin McRae: Dirt and Forza series have done that quite well. Most others, however, seem to thrive on a difficult tutorial, let up a bit in gameplay, but still require you to win from the start without a chance to build your skills. For Race Driver: Grid, I’m not sure whether it will go one way or the other, but it seems like the chances of this being done right are still low.

Our Thoughts

The verdict? In short, I felt this was a game that looks nice, but unless you’re a hardcore fan you’re not going to get far in – you’re probably better off trying to find a game that actually wants you to learn as you play it.

As with so many racing games, you start off with a set of cars with no grip, leading to you spinning out of control at the least notice. Even on your first lap there are some annoying turns that you end up struggling with. This means that on the first race, where you just have to finish, not even get first, I struggled to complete the race. It took me about five tries because the controls were so floaty and it put me off. You’re not helped here by the dark tracks that make it difficult to see where you’re actually going. After that first lap and race, I tried the other races, but I couldn’t make it to the end of any of them. It’s incredibly hardcore, which doesn’t work for a casual player like me.

Final Thoughts

So the game looks nice and they clearly put a lot of work into it, but as I said, they aimed this at an audience that’s not me or anyone else who hasn’t gotten deep into this type of game. I don’t think it’s necessarily as much of a must-play as the list might suggest, as it just don’t reach that playability.

#152 Carrier Command

Posted: 14th November 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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908th played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1988
Developer: Realtime Games
Publisher: Rainbird

I’ve been in control of planes and cars for this lists, very immersive mechs and various different spaceships. One thing that I don’t think I’ve touched, however, are aircraft carriers and similar massive ships. That’s all about to change, though, with Carrier Command, which puts you in charge of a massive one. It feels like having to manage all of that indirectly, rather than just fighting directly, would be enough of a strategy game, but it sounds like there are campaign maps involved with the game as well. It sounds like an interesting challenge that’d be getting far more streamlined these days – or be an obscure indie game somewhere.

Our Thoughts

There’s a very interesting idea here in Carrier Command. As I said, you’re in charge of an aircraft and tank carrier. You go from island to island and as you get close you launch various drones to take control of each island – defeat the enemy if necessary and setting up a supply base in between – several different ones depending on the lines you want to create. You set up a supply and defense network through your ‘half’ of the area, then fight the enemy backed up by the network. It’s an interesting strategic set up that combines your slow movement speed with a constant urgency as you need to outspeed your enemy. It’s a very decent set up, helped by some speed up options to get past the boring parts.

The one downside is the constant for the era – because of all the complex options, the controls are quite opaque. There’s a lot going on, not everything is possible in every situation, and it takes time just to figure out where you are. I don’t know whether I always figured out the best options, and even having a manual next to me didn’t always get me that far in. It’s a barrier to enjoyment, but it feels like a proper update – possibly a step up from the 2012 sequel – would be a lot of fun.

#212 The Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Posted: 10th November 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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907th played so far

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1991
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

I think The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is another game that I’ve only heard of because of the list. Sure, it’s had some sequels, but even now this list is the only association I’ve had with it. With it looking like a primitive, for the SNES era, side scrolling brawler, I’m not in high hopes territory today.

Our Thoughts

There are some interesting ideas at play in this game. It’s a game of two halves. Starting the game, you wander through a town area where you beat up other people Double Dragon style, with less fighting options, to get gold and such to upgrade your attacks and get other items. Part of this is exploring the village, getting some background information while looking for the different shops and options – there seem to be a lot of additional mini games later on. It’s clearly the main focus of the game, with a lot of bits that happen in there.

Then the second part is a simpler fighter platformer where you travel tbrough areas, fighting more supernatural enemies and defeat the big boss of the chapter. This part is more standard and boring, similar to other games I don’t enjoy as much, and was difficult enough that I struggled with it from early on. Then again – it’s also the boring half, which makes it more difficult to do the work.

Final Thoughts

There are some nice ideas in this game, with both the cartoon graphics and town options being really appealing. However, the other side are action levels that aren’t nearly as interesting and, as in Actraiser, are really mostly annoying filler.

#574 R-Type Final

Posted: 6th November 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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906th played so far

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem

R-Type Final is the final of the three R-Type games that we’ve played, with R-Type Delta being the middle game. They were both good looking horizontal shooters that were difficult – but I could make enough progress with the help of some extra lives to see some good shooters.

The last one will build on that – a generation of hardware later as well as, I assume, a build up on the systems… and maybe less of a reliance on arcade life counters.

Our Thoughts

I did enjoy playing R-Type Final. It’s a horizontal shooter that has the graphics that you expect to get from the Playstation 2 era, with 3D models for your ships and enemies and semi-3D, I guess billboard backgrounds that give some illusion of depth, but where that element isn’t really played with. I understand that there are a lot of ships, but I don’t quite know how that worked, but early on you end up with a lot of weapon options anyway that combine together, which means it feels like you can often have many projectiles flying around. With that you have a droid item you can eject that will give you some extra range in your attacks. The only thing I’m missing is some form of backward attacks, which felt like an annoying omission.

That came out especially strongly with the bullet sponge bosses, who’ll crawl around the entire screen. It means you can’t hit them for part of the time, but with the size of their health bars it takes a long time to get through. It feels like it makes it unnecessarily difficult. At least the game is generous in the number of retries it provides, but its checkpoints could have been placed closer to the boss. The amount of time you need to get back to the boss is a bit too long, and that crab-like boss I got blocked on was a bit too much.

Final Thoughts

While I enjoyed R-Type Final, that final boss was a killer and I feel I could have had more fun if it hadn’t been so much of a road block. It’s certainly a step up in the genre and it works especially well here as a good game.

905th played so far

Genre: Music/Management Simulation
Platform: Playstation Portable
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Pyramid/Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon, Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon. The two main phrases (attack and move,  in that order) of this game have been stuck in my head for years, ever since I started this game while on holiday in Naples – but didn’t finish at the time as I then checked my stats and realised I didn’t need any management simulations – in fact, trying to keep the Sim City series spread out meant that I had to play Sim City 2000 first, which left little time for this game until now, about a hundred games away from the end.

Still, here we are, and it feels like I got a nice treat to nearly end this genre and move towards that final set of 100 games.

Our Thoughts

There’s something quite genius about using a rhythm game to control a semi-strategy game. You use the two beats as your main methods, driving forward on a 2D stage and attacking what stands between you and the end goal. There are other drums you can get that allow for more complicated moves – mostly defend and retreat – the first two commands let you get through the early game quite easily. After that, the game’s stages depend as much on your planning as they do on your rhythm skills, with the units you bring in – ranged, foot soldiers etcetera – having as much of an impact on how you perform.

Between levels you end up in your camp, where there’s more management. Unlocking stronger troops doesn’t just come from how you progress through the battles, but also from the minigames you play. These let you birth new ones and upgrade others. It’s the more compelling part of the game, with a depth I still haven’t quite gotten to but that I’m more interested to find out – it’s one of those situations where it seems like there’s just too much.

Final Thoughts

Had I mentioned how cute these creatures are? They really are, and it’s them singing along to your music that really sets it up. With that said, this is one of those games that require you to go deep to unlock the best units and equip them, and you start feeling that pinch sooner than you think – I felt the need to go out and get materials early on. Still, the world, with its silhouetted creatures and mystic tribe feel, is just as compelling and really gives a good justification for why you’re doing this and why your actions on the game make sense in the world.

#301 Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

Posted: 29th October 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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904th played so far

Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

It feels like there was this era where Capcom created almost-parody games of itself. While SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash is a proper game, there’s also something odd about its use of the franchises. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is even more of a piss take – there is no earlier game, the title ripping off Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and it uses chibi versions of the characters in its box art to support a puzzle game. Now, with this being one from the mid-1990s, it might not be the most amazing variation, but I hope there’s something here that will work out.

Our Thoughts

Like my beloved (nostalgic for) Wario Woods, the basic gameplay of Super Puzzle Fighter Turbo II is a known one – match several blocks of a colour with their bomb, like a match three variant, and make them disappear. Combinations give you extra points and you have to keep your arena from filling up. It’s a tried and true formula, marred by the low spawn rate of bombs that means you get behind on clearing colours sooner than you should. You also normally play against an AI that’s far more difficult than you’d expect and one of the main story modes – the Street Puzzle mode – felt unbeatable to me because of it, I was usually dead in seconds. It’s some odd tuning, but when it was on, I had a good time playing the puzzles.

What really sets this game apart is that while you’re playing, two fighters from various Capcom fighting franchises are battling it out in the centre of the screen. It’s a neat little visual thing that doesn’t impact gameplay but does reward it. It also gives you the use of a taunt button – I’m not sure why, as I never figured out what it did (it’s not as if there are multiple targets), but it feels like it fits in with the overall ridiculous feel of the game.

Final Thoughts

While I don’t feel SPFT2 innovates as much on a puzzle level, the theming of the game feel quite unique and different and inviting through that. It’s fun to play through and looks cute enough while you tackle something ridiculous.

#249 Secret of Mana

Posted: 25th October 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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903rd played so far

Genre: Action/Role-Playing
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1993
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square

Thanks to a lovely Christmas present, I got the Switch port of the Mana trilogy (Collection of Mana), including the most liked Secret of Mana that ended up on the list. It took me about five months more to play it – I’m not in a rush – but it means that I haven’t just played a Switch game through their NES and SNES emulator programs, but also as a more proper game on a cart.

Every time I look up the history of this series, it gets me confused, but it’s safe to say that while its predecessors have been marketed as Final Fantasy spin-offs, in reality they’re their own list of action RPGs instead, originally as a Gameboy game but by this point as a game aimed at the SNES.

Our Thoughts

Secret of Mana is interesting as an action RPG. As there’s still some turn based element, you can’t just spam your attacks, but instead you hit, get some distance in and wait to recharge before attacking again. It still gets a bit better as you level up, but there’s a lot of planning in when you attack. In fact, playing through, the first big boss fight (falling down in a dungeon under the town) comes down to only attacking at the right time, more of a timing challenge than overpowering your opponent through speed or higher stats. The game doesn’t feel like it needs a lot of grinding, although I ran into issues not buying enough equipment when I got to the second proper town. I felt the difficulty more from enemies being hard to reach and having ranged attacks when you can’t necessarily respond to it yet, and the whole thing does become draining at times.

The world this takes place in resembles a lot of the other worlds in Final Fantasy games, elemental crystals included. You get your spells granted from them by going through the appropriate dungeons and visit towns, but the emphasis on the areas you battle in being the same that you explore makes them feel more condensed and gamey. It’s a lovely looking game – sure, dated in places because of the SNES heritage, but it works quite well for a beautiful, colourful world.

Final Thoughts

There’s something exhausting about playing Secret of Mana unprepared, and it’s one of those games I want to start over knowing what I know, so I can do a few things that much better. It’s a beautiful world with quite an involved story for its time, especially as the action elements put more pressure on what you can do with this world. It might not be up to Final Fantasy VI standards – I think you can fee that the origins of the system are handhelds – but it works.

#521 Resident Evil Zero

Posted: 21st October 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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902nd played so far

Genre: Survival Horror
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2002
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

It’s undeniable that the Resident Evil series looms large in the horror genre and the most recent remakes prove that’s still there. At the same time, I believe those remakes show that the originals needed an update and don’t feel as modern anymore.

Resident Evil Zero is the prequel to the original game and still builds on those old tropes – the awkward controls and weird adventure gaming. I can tell you now that they will get in my way, but I know I got past it, to some extent, in the past, and I hope the updates from the game make that more likely here as well.

Our Thoughts

Let’s start with the obvious – this game still has the frustrating tank controls leading you through narrow corridors – you start off on a train which does tend to be fairly narrow, but the changing camera angles and awkwardly running into the scenery because you can’t quite judge what way you’re going.  Even worse is that you’re playing with a somewhat floaty Gamecube thumbstick – WASD make it easier to fine tune your control while here it’s easy to drift left or right as you run down the carriages.

The shooting is similarly awkward, although at least that’s a genre trope to heighten the tension. Between that and exploration that only partially feels to pay off as, at this point, I’m not sure it offers much we haven’t already seen in the series. Even the partner system, where you swap between two, fails to pay off because of these controls.

The story is fine and I feel more might be in there once I got far enough, but it feels like there’s less that draws me in early on and the controls make it difficult to get further in.

Final Thoughts

There’s a decent story in here and I’m a sucker for a train set opening, but the gameplay is off putting to such an extent that I’m not thinking of touching it again – and I’m glad the final game I’ll be playing in  the series will be a more modern iteration with hopefully better controls.