The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads

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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Aug 20, 2021 2:49 pm

#A57

Game: Incredible Crisis:-
Year: 1999, 2000.
Genre: Mini-Game Collection Party Action.
Publisher: Tokuma Shoten, Titus Interactive.
Developer: Polygon Magic.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 23915-incredible-crisis-playstation-front-cover

Incredible Crisis may be one of the weirdest games released on the PS1. In fact, it may be one of the first games to showcase a typical brand of Japanese humor and wackiness that would later be replicated by games such as Captain Rainbow, Rhythm Heaven Fever, and the WarioWare series.

Like those games, this is basically a collection of small Action, Rhythm, and Puzzle mini-games presented in a wacky exterior with a wacky story. Thanks to its excellent music, character design, and art direction, the game ends up being better than the sum of its parts, and worth playing despite the weakness of some of its mini-games.

"Hey! Are you still alive!?"

The game takes place on a single day and follows the lives of the four members of a middle-class Japanese family as they prepare for the grandmother's birthday party. What ensues is some crazy and wacky story that none of them expected, including aliens, bank robberies, and big giant pink bear Kaiju.

Take the opening chapter of Taneo's (the father) day. First, he starts with some office warm-up exercise where he Disco dances with colleagues, and the next minute he starts running for his life. You see, he is working in a high-rise building next to another one where a giant globe is being installed by helicopters (not sure how that should work). However, the globe accidentally rolls into Taneo's building and seems to have a will of its own to crush him. So, as the globe chases him, he finds himself in a falling elevator, clinging to a flag pole, and then struck in the head with the falling arm of a statue.

By that point, you shouldn't be surprised when his day involves dodging traffic while strapped to an ambulance stretcher or a deeply erotic massage session with a buxom lady. All these instances are presented as different mini-games, and after each one, Taneo jumps from one crisis to another.

The rest of Taneo's family do not fare any better, as they survive bank robberies, being shrunk in size, and even some extraterrestrial shenanigans. An interesting throughline through all the four's stories is how one inexplicable event in one story is then explained in another's. This gives the wacky storyline some consistency, and ensures that the game isn't just throwing weird stuff randomly.

Everything around the game works to sell the game's wacky story, from the music to the character design, graphics, and honestly extremely good animation. Even though there is very little dialogue, it's like a slapstick comedy how everything unravels, and it works most of the time.

"Find the pressure points! The lady needs a back massage"

While the entirety of Incredible Crisis can be compressed into a short CGI movie that would still be interesting and funny to watch, I think the fact you are involved in many of the character's crisis-filled moments makes you experience the frantic nature of their story more closely.

That would be the case even if the mini-games themselves weren't that much fun.

Thankfully, the majority of the mini-games are really fun to play despite none of them being absolute stand-outs. Even better, there isn't one mini-game that stands out as being too obnoxious or difficult, even if one particularly annoying game does repeat itself three times.

Each non-repeating game has a unique style and inputs. Generally, the games are divided into three categories with some minor overlap: rhythm, action, memory, and timing. The opening chapter has a rhythm dance game like in PaRappa, running away from the globe is both about timing your button mashing and the action of dodging obstacles, the elevator is the same but with different timing and balance, and surviving the flag pole is all about timing.

Generally, I would say that each game needs you to pay attention to one action while taking care not to be impacted by the obstacles in the way, which is best demonstrated by the annoying "Titanic Away" mini-game. In that game, you mash the X button to fill a bucket with water, then use the Triangle button to dump the water overboard. All the while, you need to press the directional buttons to protect yourself from falling debris that could hit you, interrupting your work, and potentially causing the boat to sink. While other games did have similar button-mashing requirements, this one with its multi-faceted controls had the most and consequently was the most painful for me despite being one of the best games.

"Get your hands off me, you dirty old man!"

Other than the game's 24 mini-games, there isn't anything else to the game, except that is if you want to play it taking turns with others (which honestly can be hilarious). Other than that, there is no real incentive to master the game's many mini-games, and I honestly don't think the game's difficulty will keep this from being anything longer than a 3-4 hours playthrough.

This short length is both a blessing and a curse for the game.

Given the fact that the sheer variety and wackiness of the game's mini-games are what keeps you from noting any of its flaws and shortcoming, it should obvious to point out that a longer game may struggle not to repeat itself or hide its weakness behind variety.

As it is, the brief nature of the game allows you to enjoy the shenanigans the family members are involved with without getting sick of them. It is simply the perfect length to sustain its wackiness and sense of fun.

Still, that experience is simply too short, and therefore would have been difficult to recommend people ever pay full price for it when it's first released.  The game seems to think that unlocking all the mini-games when you complete the game is ample reward, but these games honestly are not very interesting or fun when divorced from the story or setting.

"It's not every day you see a middle-aged man falling out of the sky"

To sell its wacky premise, characters, and story, Incredible Crisis needed to be absolutely on-point with its graphical and sound presentation, and it passes with exploding colors.

The game is a mixture of CGI scenes bleeding into in-engine graphics that are honestly quite close in quality, with just some brief graininess with the CGI scenes. It's not cutting-edge stuff, even for the PS1 graphics, but the limited size of the game allowed the team to cram as much animation and visual details as they could.

As such, the characters move, dance, scream, and shout in both expressive and exaggerated ways that absolutely sell the slapstick shown here. That, coupled with the family's comic and suitable design, more than looks perfect for the game.

If you are trying to imagine a soundtrack based on what you have read so far, I bet you would struggle at identifying how it should sound. In hindsight, nothing would have worked as well as what the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra did for the game.

The Orchestra's Ska soundtrack is highly energetic, funny, and fits the chaotic and incredible events that Taneo and his family face throughout the game. Nothing else could capture the frantic energy of someone trying to empty water from a boat or the comic energy of a morning dance exercise.

Now I am a fan of Ska music.

In Conclusion:

Incredible Crisis is a game that defies categorization. It is simply in a class of wacky Japanese games that work solely based on their wacky premise, which takes precedence over any gameplay quality, length, or supposed replayability factors.

This wackiness is fully supported by some excellent graphical and sound presentation, which helps give an otherwise forgettable set of mini-games a sense of frantic fun and urgency.

All of this makes Incredible Crisis a truly unforgettable experience.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • Brilliant and crazy premise
  • Excellent and suitable soundtrack
  • Somefun to be had with the mini-games
  • Very good graphics


Cons:

  • Maybe should have had a little bit more dialogue
  • Not all mini-games are fun
  • Ultimetly a short, if delightful, experience


"Tips"
1-Do not bother with acing the game, just have fun and try not to lose.
2-Button mashing can only get you so far. Also, pay attention to avoid obstacles in the mini-games that have them.

"Next Game"

I am glad I finally finished this game after so many years. I played it back when it was first released but could never finish it because the TV was in the main living room in my grandfather's house, and I simply could never go past the Back Massage mini-game with the sound on (the lady's moans are seriously almost pornographic in nature). Now, I finished the game and really enjoyed it.

The next game in my playlist is a cult strategy hit, Brigandine, which is supposedly as satisfying as it is complex. In fact, if I like it, I will end up buying and playing its sequel which was released 22 years later last year.

Stay Tuned

Lord Spencer
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Post by Lord Spencer Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:53 pm

#A55

Game: Brigandine: Grand Edition:-
Year: 1998, 2000.
Genre: Strategy & Tactical RPG.
Publisher: Hearty Robin, Atlus.
Developer: Hearty Robin.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Brigandine-NTSC-PSX-FRONT

Brigandine is one of the few late 90's games that attempted to combine the Grand Strategy genre with Tactical RPGs. Oddly, all of those games, like Dragon Force on the Sega Saturn, feature a similar anime-inspired character design and story that recalled some of the classic medieval setting anime shows of the 80s.

That retro look at a time where "futuristic" and "realistic" trends were all the rage may have contributed to their relative obscurity, but their undoubted quality led to some of them being cult hits.

I am glad to say that Brigandine on the PS1, in all of its versions, certainly has the quality and pedigree to deserve its cult-favorite status. This is a really good game.

"Even if war covers the world. Even if all of Forseana burns to ash. I will fight on, fight on like a demon, I will rule it all"

The story is set in the continent of Fornesa, where a rebellion breaks out in the old Kingdom of Almekia, thrusting the entire continent into an all-out war between the six nations of the realm. With each nation having its own reasons to fight, unique characters, and perspectives, this means there are nominally six stories to choose from. From the ambitious unification quest of Norgard to the righteous revenge of New Almekia, each story promises to give a unique perspective on the war.

However, as should be expected with a game that straddles the Grand Strategy genre, the story takes a back seat to the gameplay most of the time. Since you have control over how your nation operates, this means that story beats you uncover happen at your own pace, and could be completely missed if certain mysterious conditions were not met.

In battles, characters with established relationships have unique opening dialogue that offers context for the war. Between battles, some scenes between key characters in your nation develop their personality as your quest advances, but these scenes could be missed entirely. Meanwhile, your army consists of several named knights, each with their own unique portrait and backstory, but limited interaction within the game itself.

Yet, I find this paucity of narrative to be more of an advantage than not. I find the story of Forsena's struggle and each character's motivation to be the canvas in which you paint your own story. Similar to the stories we craft for the historical figures we play as in a Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Total War game, Brigandine simply gives us the main ingredients to imagine an entirely unique narrative for the game that advances based on our actions.

That's not to say that the story that is there is lackluster. Not at all. Despite its scarcity, the main scenes and unique dialogue situation you uncover reveal an interesting cast of characters with their own morals and motivation for their battles. These are interesting stories that are sold really well by the excellent character designs and portraits, as well as the occasional anime cut-scenes.

However, the terrible voice acting does it no favors at all. Thankfully, that part is very brief.

"You misunderstand. I want to revive hope from the ashes"

The gameplay in Brigandine is divided into two main parts. The "Grand Strategy" section where you manage your towns and officers as well as direct your armies to attack or defend, and the "Tactical RPG" battles that take place when a battle actually starts. However, the game leans extremely heavily into the battles themselves, leaving the Grand Strategy elements to be more of a cosmetic than an essential element to the game.

So let's talk about the battles themselves first to explain the limitations of the Grand Strategy segments later.

These Tactical RPG battles are great, starting from their hexagonal design basis, which immediately offers more strategy than the typical square grid. At most, each side in the battle has three rune knights, each accompanied by a maximum of 6 monsters. The nature of these 21 units is key during and after the battle.

Rune Knights come in many different classes, which governs they utility in battle (offensive, supportive, defensive, magical, ranged, etc.) and their abilities to control monster unit through their Rune Power and Rune Range stats. These are the named members of your army, and they grow and develop with battle like any typical TRPG, with the ability to class upgrade or change as a result.

Depending on their Rune Power stat, these knights can be accompanied by a variety of monster units that comprise the majority of your forces. Monsters come in a variety of forms of varying Rune Power requirements. Dragons are more expensive than three ghouls for example. As such, the number of your forces may not be as important as the strength of each unit and their suitability in battle.

You mustn't treat your monsters as cannon fodder, as they permanently disappear when defeated. As such, battles become a strategic pull and push match where you try and defeat the enemy Rune Knights (thereby scattering their forces and potentially capturing some monsters) while keeping your army healthy and survivin. This I find very important, because losing monsters too often means your army will be significantly under-leveled at the end of the game.

With widely different maps, terrain structures, Rune Knight, and Monster options, there is a huge variety in the battles you can have. Ideally, this variety should sustain itself further as you utilize your vast and varied army. However, that would actually be a grave mistake. Ironically, it would be a mistake to use more than 9-11 Rune Knights in your conquests, as you will need consistent growth for that core as the enemy gets stronger with each cycle.

"A Utopia... could what starts in treason end in such a noble state"

Outside of battle, your options are limited to summoning more monsters for your armies, moving knights around towns, sending them for quests, and managing the "order" menu where you can equip characters and upgrade their classes.

As you can imagine from the way I described battles, the summoning aspect becomes moot later on since you need to avoid having to actually do it. Sending characters for quests is an automatic activity that may bring with it items you can equip, more monsters, or the occasional characters. Also, it could uncover some story scenes.

Consequently, the majority of your time on the map is simply reorganizing your army around border towns (all other towns don't need to even be occupied) as you plan your next attack. By the end of the game, I didn't have anything to do with my funds, and the map just became a semi-loading screen between my battles.

Oddly, this is not actually a disadvantage of the game as much as lost potential. In fact, it is probably better than a poorly implemented and overly complex Grand Strategy element. Yet, I feel like there were that could have made the game a bit better, like developing an economy or using the money to revive dead monsters.

As it is, the map of Forsena is another tool of self-narrative, where you imagine the story and strategic councils as you plan multiple attacks and continuously expand your territory.

"I swear, I will unite Forsena in peace soon. Perhaps when that day comes, you will sing again"

At the start of the review, I alluded to the game's 80s anime influence, and that's most apparent when you the still-image scenes depicting the game's characters. These still images look like pause screens from a famous Robin Hood anime of that era, and they do justice to the amazing character portrait art by Yoichi Kawade.

These portraits give real personality and depth to characters that otherwise may just have a few lines, and for the key characters, they fit their in-game personality and dialogue very well.

Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, there are very few unique in-battle sprites. This is a shame, because the sprite work is really good in this game. Sprites are well-animated, and the variety of monsters each have their own unique sprites.

Elsewhere in the graphical department, expect some solid if unspectacular special effects with magic attacks and a functional and expressive map (both inside and outside of battle). This is a game that doesn't need to be graphically intensive, and the many still images we get convey a suitable image of the world.

The unspectacular trend continues with the game's music, which unfortunately follows the trend of TRPGs in having a low-key musical score. Sure, there are unique themes for each nation, but the music rarely commands center stage, which is typical of the genre.

In Conclusion:

With its interesting world and an array of characters and creatures, as well as its mix of Strategic and Tactical RPG gameplay, Brigandine offers a sandbox of sorts in which to play in. In this sandbox, you can focus on the limited but solid story of the game as you plan your conquest of Forsena, and you can imagine a parallel narrative that follows your own unique path of conquest.

Thanks to the very TRPG elements and the variety of monsters and characters, you can play the game multiple times with different natures, and I don't think it will ever be boring. Sure, the game may be lacking in certain production elements, and it has some unfulfilled potential. However, the ambition of what's there ensures that fans of the game won't forget it for a long time.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • Very good character portraits
  • Strategic elements give you a lot of flexibility in how to play the game
  • A big variety of units that grow with battles
  • Excellent TRPG gameplay with hexagonal style maps


Cons:

  • The Strategic elements maybe should have more things to do
  • Some story segments are hidden behind mysterious conditions
  • Some basic production shortcomings such as few unique sprites and meddling music


"Tips"
1-If you are playing anything more difficult than easy, then just stick with a core rotation of 9-11 characters and their armies.
2-Focus on protecting your border towns by always leaving three officers in them (Even when attacking from those towns when there is another path).
3-Attacking a city from different directions can be very helpful.
4-Aquatic units are extremely helpful on water tiles.
5-Its best to stick together, but pay attention to casters with area-of-effect attacks.
6-Generally, it is best to kill all enemy units before attacking the Rune Knight, but go for the knight if in trouble.
7-Don't forget to equip both your characters and monster with the loot you get from battles and quests.
8-Send the reminder of your army to quests.
9-There is an elemental triangle to attacks. Red vs. Green vs. Blue.

"Next Game"

I enjoyed Brigandine very much. So much that I am buying its long-delayed sequel, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on the Nintendo Switch.

The next game on my addendum review list is the twin set of King's Field games on the PS1, numbers 2 and 3. I have low expectations of how these early From Software games aged, and might even end up skipping actually reviewing them.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Sep 18, 2021 6:39 pm

#A53(S)

Game: Mega Man Legends:-
Year: 1997, 1998.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 7113-mega-man-legends-playstation-front-cover

I think it's weird how much people like Mega Man Legends. Objectively, I don't think it excels in any one thing that it does. It has charming graphics that are terribly constrained by technical limitations. A well-realized world that is absurdly small in scope. Good gameplay ideas that become repetitive and boring on closer scrutiny.

Yet, it combines all these partially flawed systems into a passionate package that manages to charm despite itself. It manages to evoke some special feeling that I think stuck with fans of the game since its release, and grew with its sequel and the unrealized hopes of a third game.

Mega Man Legends managed to become a truly legendary game.

"The Mother Lode--a treasure so great that if it were discovered, it would provide so much power that the world will never fear running out of energy"

Other than the name of its protagonist, there is nothing in Mega Man Legends that remotely suggests a connection to the series at large. Instead, it takes place in an entirely new world that appears to be a vague post-apocalypse of sorts. The earth was flooded at large, and civilizations thrived in pockets of islands in a vast ocean and supported themselves by digging for "ancient" technology. In that world, Mega Man is part of a family unit of diggers comprised of Roll and her grandfather as well as a cute pet robot monkey.

The set-up is unique, and creates a world that is slightly reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films (especially the early Future Boy Conan anime). However, that only works because of the delightful characters which come to life with great animations and some surprisingly competent voice acting. Seriously, it is surprising how much better the VA here is than the legendary bad lines in the Mega Man 8 cut scenes.

At the start of the game, Mega Man and crew crash land into Kattlelox island, a large settlement with a lot of mysterious ruins underground. As they attempt to fix their airship, the island comes under attack by a group of lovable pirates, the Bonne family, who try and discover and steal the island's treasure.

Mega Man's frequent run-ins with the Bonnes and his attempt to uncover the potentially disastrous secret of the island constitutes the rest of the game. Meanwhile, you can get to know the residents of Kattelox and help them with their various problems.

Although the game's final twist does give it interesting lore, Mega Man Legends is all about the feeling of being in a Saturday night's cartoon main hero. The Bonnes are a classicly "evil" pirate family with charming characters, over-the-top acting, and motives, and a weird knack for surviving the explosions and always coming back with bigger and badder robots. In that comedic conflict, Mega Man builds his reputation as a hero for the town.

Obviously, this was the intro to a bigger narrative, and it builds the character of Mega Man and the supporting cast to a great degree.

"There are a lot of stories about the treasure, but no one knows exactly what it is"

With its transition into 3D, I am sure it wasn't immediately obvious how the core Mega Man formula and experience can be effectively translated into 3D space. Maybe Capcom has tried many things before simply coming with something drastically different.

Basically, this is an Action-Adventure game that even predates Ocarina of Time, with dungeons replacing the typical stages in a Mega Man game, and a sort of 3rd Person Shooting action as the core gameplay mechanic.

Mega Man can move around and shoot his buster gun, and can stop and lock on for better accuracy and to hit flying enemies. It's not very smooth in the first Mega Man Legends game, but the kernel of a good thing does exist here.

The main detractor is that enemies simply rush into you too fast, which makes the only viable and best tactic to deal with them is to strafe around them while rotating the camera. This move is the main one you need to learn, and you will need to use it for most fights in the game.

Other than the buster cannon, there are a lot of other sub-weapons that you can use. However, you can only swap between them outside of a dungeon, and using them costs energy that cannot be recouped inside. This significantly reduced my desire to use them, nor did I ever feel compelled to do so for anything except bosses.

As for the dungeons themselves, they are uninspired in their construction, and a poor replacement for the iconic and challenging stages of the past 2D games. With the concept of digging, you would expect more labyrinthian designs and/or puzzles, but the focus is mostly on light confrontations and getting three key items in each dungeon.

"I will use my ultimate digging machine, the Marlwolf, to dig up the treasure myself, and I won't let a little blue boy get in my way either"

Although the main gameplay segments of the game are not really engaging, Mega Man Legends wisely shakes things up with the Bonne family confrontations and bosses. The Bonne family fights are presented as "missions" and they frequently have a unique hook to them and some kind of time limit.

For example, one mission has you protect the government building from their robot tanks, while another is a battle in lack. These showcase a different side to the gameplay, that while not mechanically great, is varied and fun in its execution.

The variety in mission is not matched by the boss fights, which are exciting with how big they are, but you will still deal with all of them the same way, strafing around and shooting until they explode. Admittedly, that's still fun to do with the big bosses, especially since these are the best fights in the game.

Outside of battle, there are some light RPG mechanics and a number of sidequests and mini-games to play. The RPG elements come in the form of upgrades you can buy and install to your buster, or upgrading the sub-weapons with the money you get from enemies. Upgrading all weapons can be extremely expensive, so it is recommended to only upgrade what you are going to use.

One interesting thing is that stuff you find in dungeons can be used to make more sub-weapons and even some key equipment. For instance, you get a helmet that improves your defense, and a skating shoe that makes it a breeze walking around town.

Speaking of the town, this is a well-realized place with a lot of character and side-quests that remind me of a lower-stakes Majora's Mask town. It's fun talking to everyone around, and there are some side quests and fun mini-games you can take part in.

However, a major issue with some of the sidequests is that they are dependant on the passing of real in-game time, which frankly meant I didn't do all of them. This is a shame, because the ones that I did added to my experience despite their simplicity.

"He'll see, it will be the Bonnes who get the last laugh in this game"

The Mega Man series is known for its great graphical design, which culminated with the excellent sprite work of the Mega Man X series. Naturally, the fledgling scene of 3D art could never compete with the absolute mastery that Capcom had with 2D sprites, but the artists had a solid background to work from. This was most apparent in the design of the various Robot enemies, the Bonne family, and the game's own minion-like Servebots.

It resulted in crafting a charing and memorable world that pops despite low polygon count and its blocky edges. Taking a more colorful style than the X series, Mega Man Legends goes full throttle with the Saturday Night cartoon look that hides the limitations of the hardware. Sure, there are clearly some graphical hiccups here and there, but the end result is something that is playable and nice despite its age.

Like many early 3D games, it looks especially good in motion, both inside and outside of cut-scenes, which is due to the good animations which even extend to typical anime-like facial expressions.

Unfortunately, I don't think the music approached the level we are used to with this series, and this is most apparent in the dungeons. Mega Man stages have great stage music that ranges from action-packed and blood-pumping to mystical and atmospheric. Here, with the exception of the last dungeon in the game, it's just a constant mysterious droning noise.

Ironically, I don't think that's due to the soundtrack itself though as much as the sound direction. Simply put, music is not well-utilized in the game.

Other than the music, the voice acting is really good as I discussed above. In fact, it complements the in-scene acting really well, which was actually made using motion-capture.

In Conclusion:

With its charming world and characters and a story that looks like it is directly pulled from the classic cartoons of the past, it was inevitable that the game would make some people fall in love with it. It is a seriously charming game with lots of things to like.

However, I cannot but wonder if perhaps there should have been more substance to the game, especially when it came to its limited dungeons and the repetitive combat. Also, while the story was charming enough, you feel like they shouldn't have kept the stakes so low until the very end and maybe should have explored the mystery of the world a bit more.

I think these faults ultimately keep the game from being a true great like it aspires to be, but I am hopeful that its sequel ironed some of those issues out, because I already love the game despite its flaws.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-night cartoon


Cons:

  • Not a very good use of music
  • The combat gets repetitive after a while
  • Simple dungeons and stages


"Tips"
1-Learn the strafing shooting method (run around while rotating the camera and shooting).
2-Look inside holes on walls to find stuff, they are obvious.
3-Upgrade the sub-weapons you want to use first.
4-Play and win the mini-games to get stuff.
5-Look inside trash cans and boxes.
6-Learn how to use the terrible lock-on system.
7-Sub-weapons can be very useful.
8-The big brown walls can only be destroyed by an end-game drill sub-weapon.
9-Learn the strafing shooting method.

"Next Game"

After strafing and shooting my way through Mega Man Legends, I think I can clearly see how the second game improved on it in many ways, but I still managed to love this game nonetheless.

The next game on my review list will Mega Man Legends 2, where I will finally beat this game after losing my save when the game was first released. My guess is that it will just make me wish for a Mega Man Legends 3 game even more than I already do.

Stay Tuned


Last edited by Lord Spencer on Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Lord Awesome Sun Sep 19, 2021 3:17 am

Lord Spencer wrote:I enjoyed Brigandine very much. So much that I am buying its long-delayed sequel, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on the Nintendo Switch.


Damn, that is like a huge gap for a sequel there
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Post by rincon Sun Sep 19, 2021 10:30 am

I really wanted mega man legends as a kid, being an rpg and mega man fan at the time, but never had a chance to play the game. Was cool to read your review
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Post by Robespierre Sun Sep 19, 2021 11:39 am

Just yesterday I was talking with my friends on how much I feel luckly to have played on FIFA99 as first football game

ok , it was not so modern etc but it was special. Beginning from soundtracks

I don't know if it depends on fact that I was 9
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Post by Lord Spencer Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:26 pm

rincon wrote:I really wanted mega man legends as a kid, being an rpg and mega man fan at the time, but never had a chance to play the game. Was cool to read your review


Damn, you read the incomplete review Laughing

I published it because my computer was shutting down Laughing

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Post by Robespierre Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:50 pm

Honestly I can't wait to read recension about the 24th Proud (wipeout)
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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:18 pm

#A53

Game: Mega Man Legends 2:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Mega-Man-Legends-2-PAL-PSX-FRONT

The first Mega Man Legends game had a unique charm that made it a cult favorite despite what I consider to be some significant flaws and limitations. It looks like it was just a dress rehearsal for Capcom though, as the second Legends game manage to correct almost all of those flaws, greatly advance the game's formula, and still retain much of its charm.

While not a perfect game, far from it, Mega Man Legends 2 is a flawed masterpiece that encompasses the full meaning of this designation. It's a massive shame that we may never get the third game in this sub-franchise

"The Mother Lode, which has been sought after by all mankind for numerous generations, does lie buried in this island"

While the story of the first Mega Man Legends game took a while to start and was confined to one small island, it immediately gets going in the sequel and is much more expanded in scope. It begins with an expertly crafted scene that shows Professor Barrel and a long-time associate announcing their latest attempt to land in the ominous Forbidden Island in search of an ancient treasure onboard their new airship, The Sulfur Bottom

This fully-voiced scene introduces key characters and concepts, establishes the central intrigue and mystery of the story, and showcases the Saturday Morning Cartoon charm that I found so endearing about the game.

Outside of the Sulfur Bottom, Mega Man and Roll are busy saving their ship from being burned thanks to a cooking accident by their pet monkey, but then find themselves in the middle of having to go to the Forbidden Island to save Professor Barrel. Ironically, it turns out that going to Forbidden Island is just the beginning of the game, and the start of Mega Man's quest to find the four keys to unlock the Mother Lode, an ancient treasure of apparently enormous value.

In the middle of that quest, a Pirate group lead by the lovable Bonnes are racing to find the same keys, and some mysterious human-looking "Ancients" are in the background making thinly veiled threats.

The big-picture story is interesting and full of mystery and intrigue. However, it is truly the journey and the way the characters interact that give the game its unique charm. While the quest for the four keys is a big McGuffin chase, each key is held in a unique location with its own unique story and fun interaction with the pirate army. These are like episodes in a really fun Cartoon, and the scene construction and comedic style takes a lot of inspiration from the shows Mega Man was initially inspired by.

Like those shows, there is real heart behind the comedy, and the games know when to raise the stakes to make you care for these characters and remember who they are. It's not surprising that Tron Bonne and her idiotic Servbots are still popular to this day.

"She's not really searching for the Mother Lode... She is searching for her parents"

The biggest complaints about the original Mega Man Legends was in its stiff 3D movement and camera controls, which necessitated a simpler and more repetitive gameplay loop. That was evident in the simple design of the game's stages (or dungeons a they should be referred to).

That aspect is now massively improved, with much more fluid 3D animations and movements, allowing for full 3D controls rather than pseudo-tank movements. Of course, the movement wouldn't be a big bonus if the camera was still a pain to control. Thankfully, that's mostly alleviated thanks to the advanced lock-on mechanism.

Now, you can lock on while moving, which means combat is much more fluid and there is no need to circle-strafe for 90% for all encounters. Also, you can use most of your special weapons while moving, which makes them more fun than a punishment.

To take advantage of these advancements, Capcom actually bothered to include a much more varied array of enemies and some actual themed dungeons. Now, the drab locations of the past are reserved for the game's few optional dungeons, which means they don't overstay their welcome. In contrast, the main dungeons are closer in variety to a game like The Legend of Zelda (even by having a terrible water dungeon) even if they don't quite reach those highs.

Like with the first game, the absolute highlights of the game are in the both the boss battles and the Pirate missions. Boss battles are self-explanatory, and they shine much better with the improved gameplay of the second game. As for the Pirate missions, these are unique gameplay set-pieces that have Mega Man defending a location from a pirate attack, invading a fortress, or fighting one of the Bonne's massive robots.

It's a shame that with all the improvements the game made, it still retained one of the first game's major flaws; that special weapons can only be changed by talking to Roll outside of dungeons. That limits experimentation in my opinion, and makes it less fun to use the special weapons than it otherwise would be.

"You can make that poor excuse of a spotter boss you around for all that I care"

Outside of combat, there is a lot to do in the world of Mega Man Legends 2, which now consists of several minor hubs instead of one major city. These hubs have varied styles, varying from the snowy lands of Yosyonke to the desert climate of Saul Kada.

Truth be told, there isn't a lot to do in these hubs, and they don't feel as alive and changing as Kattelox island (that game's NPCs changed dialogue after every event). Once a location is liberated from the pirates, it goes into permanent stasis, which is only noticeable thanks to the original's ever-changing NPC dialogue.

This is not an issue, except in that it feels like a game of this style should have more side-quest than it actually has, especially since there are some story threads that feel like they could have more to them. As it is, the game's world is fun to walk around in but feels empty with things to do, although the side quests and mini-games that are included are certainly worth it.

One thing that the game seems to expect you to do is to go back to dungeons and grind for currency, that is of course after you also explore every nook and cranny (and search every box and can) for items to develop new parts. That's because the game's economy is out of whack. It would take an unearthly amount of grinding to fully upgrade some of the special weapons, and upgrades to Mega Man's equipment and stuff aren't cheap as well. Also, gifts you can buy Roll and fit the ship with aren't cheap either.

In fact, with the base "Digger Level" you start with, you get pitiful amounts of currency from the enemies you defeat. A solution to that is taking "Digger Tests" to raise your level, which increases the rewards as well as the difficulty of the game. In my experience, this makes the game more fun and is worth increasing it at least once.

As for upgrading everything, I would just forget about that, since you really don't need to do it, and it would frankly suck the joy out of the game to try and do so.

"Just be true to you yourself, and follow where your heart leads you"

Like with everything in the game, the production design was massively improved compared to the first game.

While it is not really apparent with the game's graphics, which were colorful and charming in the first game, it should be apparent with the variety of 3D assets as well as some neat technical feats. For instance, the entirety of Kattelox's geography was either flat or angular. Here, there are actually hills and uneven terrain. Also, there are some nice visual effects such as snowstorms and shimmering sands.

Thankfully, the game's are design and expressive character models manage to outperform the system's modest 3D capabilities, and that holds true even when you can literally see the seems of the graphics begin to crack.

So it can be said that the game graphically improved, but not massively so. What massively improved is the game's soundtrack, which actually sounds like a proper Mega Man soundtrack now. Individual stages have more personality, and there are some kicking battle tracks as well, as well as some dynamic use of music and leitmotifs throughout.

Seriously, the first game really missed having a decent soundtrack, so it's a massive improvement that the second game has a really good one. The style is different from other Mega Man games, with a focus on more atmospheric sounds that convey the mystery of the game. I can still hear the drums of the "Manda Ruin" theme and the "Nino Ruins" theme almost makes the water dungeon tolerable

A special mention goes to the voice acting, which is a solid effort that continues the good effort of this game without being spectacular. It fits the Saturday Morning vibes of the game really well and is inoffensive at its worst.

In Conclusion:

I am not blind to the game's obvious shortcomings and flaws. It has a flawed progression economy, not many things to do outside of combat, and the graphics and gameplay are still stilted compared to the masters of that genre even in that era. Also, needing Roll to change your special weapons outside of dungeons is a cardinal sin.

Yet, there is a reason fans of the game are still waiting over 20 years for Mega Man to get back from the Moon, there is a reason for such a strong attachment to this flawed game.

I think that reason is this game's extremely unique charm, which is difficult to express in words other than to guess is its sheer audacity and ambition. An ambition to make a game that so closely mirrors a Saturday Morning Cartoon, a game that fits the looks and feelings of a Ghibli film of all things, a game that is unlike any other and yet feels so familiar. While the first game had some of those elements, it felt more like a proof of concept. Mega Man Legends 2 matures that concept and presents it in this semi-glorious form.

Is it any wonder that we are all hoping for a third game that finally fully realizes the potential of that concept and all of its unique and charming glory?

Final: 9/10

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-Morning cartoon
  • Really good soundtrack and charming graphics
  • Dungeons are fun and locations are varied
  • Really fun set-pieces against the pirates


Cons:

  • Feels like there should be more to do outside of combat
  • Changing special weapons is a chore
  • Outrageous progress economy (but that doesn't detract from the game)


"Tips"
1-Learn the strafing shooting method (run around while rotating the camera and shooting).
2-Look inside holes on walls, crates, trash cans, and boxes for stuff. The drilling equipment is available early on in this game.
3-Upgrade the sub-weapons you want to use first.
4-Go to all optional mini-dungeons.
5-Immediately go into the first Digger Test. Only take the second one after getting comfortable with the game.
6-Learn how to use the cool lock-on system.
7-Sub-weapons can be very useful, but not all of them are.
8-Some walls can only be demolished by using the drill.
9-The Zetasaber is great against bosses, but makes them too easy.

"Next Game"

My memories with Mega Man Legends 2 were strong coming into this game, but I don't think I was even halfway through the game back then. Now, I finished it and loved every minute of it. Really hope against hope for a third game in the franchise, but it looks unlikely at this point.

Next, I am advancing the spin-off game, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne in the Addendum queue, as I have no idea why I put it so late after all (the addendum list placing has no meaning). I expect to like it for its personality even if the gameplay loop doesn't live up to the Legends series.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sun Oct 31, 2021 11:56 pm

#A52

Game: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne:-
Year: 1999.
Genre: Action Adventure, Puzzles, Mini-Games.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 61JTFVY2X1L

The original Mega Man Legends game introduced fans to a charming world that strongly evoked Saturday Morning cartoons and anime, and that unique charm earned it a deserved fandom despite its gameplay shortcomings. One of the biggest charming points of that game was the mischievous Bonne Sky Pirates family, with the middle sister, Tron Bonne, becoming an instant classic character along with the yellow Lego-like minions, the Servebots.

Recognizing the potential of these characters, Capcom made a complete spin-off starring the Bonne Family and their small army of Servebots, anchoring the whole thing on their charm. Unsurprisingly, to anyone who played games in the series, that charm is strong enough to pull the game beyond its modest gameplay elements into something truly special and worth playing.

"Loath's men... They said that if we can't pay back our debt, they'll make us work it off... sniff"

Despite hanging much of the game's narrative hook on the Bonne family, the game's overall narrative is actually a bit lacking. In some way, it mirrors the limited story of Mega Man Legends before it expands drastically in the sequel. Yet, unlike that game, I didn't feel that lack of an overall narrative thrust to be a deterrent to this story. In fact, it fits what we can imagine as an "episodic" show featuring the "Misadventures" of these pirates.

Starting with a semi-illegal dig, the elder brother finds himself captured by the loan shark, Loath. Apparently, Tiesel Bonne borrowed one million Zennies to finance rebuilding their pirate fleet (I am assuming after Mega Man trashes them in the first game), but couldn't pay back the loan in time. As such, it falls on Tron to do what's necessary to collect the funds. Tron and her army of Servebots that is.

You do so by going into several missions to get some cash. From robbing banks and ports to digging for treasure and rustling cattle, you will have to do whatever you can to collect the necessary funds. Unfortunately, not all missions have their own narrative and characters, with only two missions actually contributing something to the story.

Instead, it is the character of Tron and the Servebots and the charming interactions between them that propels the whole narrative. Tron alternates between being sweet and cruel, all to hide a genuinely caring personality welded to some genius-level engineering skills. As for the Servebots, these are cowardly robots that are desperate for appreciation and attention, and also are brave robots that are selfless in their devotion. The contradiction between personalities, as well as the evil you do as a pirate vs. the ostensibly nice vibe you project, is at the heart of this game's charm.

Of course, this wouldn't be possible if not for some seriously good dialogue and extensive voice acting for all the characters involved. Seriously, this is some great level of voice acting, especially when it comes to the various Servebot actors, and they manage to convey the pathetic adorableness of these minions extremely well.

"Miss Tron, do we have t? What if it's a really big and scary Reaverbot?"

As you may have guessed with the variable nature of the missions you need to get funds, there is a variety in gameplay modes as well. In fact, the game itself designates each mission with a "genre" of sorts. The main gameplay method, which is featured in three missions as well as the final encounter, is the 3rd Person Action Adventure mode fans of the Legends games are familiar with.

In this mode, designated as "Action" mode, you control Tron's big bipedal Robot and walk around in 3D space like in any Action-Adventure game. unfortunately, the advances made to this system in Mega Man Legends 2 were not yet implemented, and so movements and the locking-on actions are not as smooth as the latter game but better than the first. At least, with the big Gustaff robot, it makes more sense to be less nimble.

Other than your main weapon, you can also use a "Beacon Bomb" to order around six Servebots to attack, gather, and serve. These Servebots come with their statistics and special skills, and are indestructible and selfless allies. Generally, the game isn't really difficult, and this mode is just an excuse to wreck stuff with the Gustaff and your adorable Servebots.

Another mode is the "Puzzle" genre, which turns the game into a block movement puzzle game. While the first mission is straightforward with its puzzles, the second gets significantly harder by introducing more elements to moving the blocks. These are fun changes of pace, but they are just a taste of what a true puzzle game can be like.

The third mode is designated as "RPG" mode and is only present in one mission. What's interesting about this mode is that the Servebots get center-stage, and there is a small dungeon-crawling element to it as well as an interesting story in the mission itself. Unfortunately, while the story and ensuing Servebot interactions are certainly worthwhile, the gameplay itself is a little bit repetitive and boring.

Arguably, the variety in modes is a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are multiple modes and you can skip what you don't like (you don't need to complete all missions to collect the necessary funds). I the other hand, it keeps the game from going deep into any of these modes in a way a traditional game would.

For instance, I feel there is lost potential in what could have been done with the Action-Adventure gameplay utilizing the Servebots, and an entire game could have been built just on that mechanic alone.

"Yes, there is enough, but there's this little thing called "interest", you see?'"

Outside of the actual missions themselves, the other major element in the gameplay is the preparation aspect. As the temporary captain of the Bonne crew, you are responsible for developing the capabilities of both your equipment and crew.

This means spending some of your hard-earned Zennies on weapon and health upgrades for the Gustaf, that is after first procuring the necessary items through scouting raids and the main missions.

Other than that, you can check around the rooms in your ain ship, conversing with the Servebots and unlocking their hidden skills. That level of interaction helps you get closer to the Servebots, and with 40 of them, each with their slight take on the Servebot personality, it's seriously fun.

One aspect that starts out fun is when you get to train the strength and speed of your minions in two interesting mini-games. These mini-games are fun the first time you train four or five Servebots with. However, later, it gets extremely repetitive if you want to completely train all of your crew. Thankfully, some items you can get by scouting (a free mission that runs while playing the game) can help alleviate the grind.

To be fair to the game, you never actually need to fully train all of your crew. By the end, you just need six or seven fully trained minions. The same can be said about upgrading the Gustaf and finishing all the missions; there is more money than you need to finish the game.

Ultimately, despite not having much depth, developing the Servebots and going on missions with them helps hammer home the main gimmick of the ga, that is being part of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.

"We'll make him sorry he ever heard the name "Bonne!" Ha ha ha ha"

Being a PS1 3D game, you would be excused for immediately assuming that the game may aged terribly and be really ugly. However, like the rest of the series, this is some of the best 3D graphics works of the generation.

It becomes obvious why that is the case when you consider the design of the Servebots.

These yellow Lego-like minions have a simple, but distinctive shape. When they animate, they make exaggerated animations like in a cartoon, and their faces have some anime-inspired facial expressions drawn into the polygons. Everything in the game followed that design philosophy, which is why everything is bigger and doesn't suffer from the low resolution and polygon counts. Also, since the animations are obviously exaggerated, they don't feel uncanny or weird.

Not merely satisfied with that approach, Capcom also decided on adding some cute 2D art for all the characters, which help give them more avenues for showcasing their personality not possible on the in-game engine. Unfrotuantently, these 2D drawings were not present in Mega Man Legends 2.

Of course, another aspect that showcased the characters is the excellent voice acting that I mentioned earlier. It is as if the voice cast were pulled right out of a Saturday morning cartoon.

Another thing pulled out of cartoons is the soundtrack itself, which has a lot of quirky and short tracks that complement the humorous tone of the game. It's not as good as the track of the second Legends games and it contains few standout tracks, but it is varied enough and fitting to the style that you rarely notice its shortcomings.

It even has the sense to save its best track for the game's best moment, but I am not going to spoil what that is.


In Conclusion:

This game is bigger and better than the sum of its parts. If it was only the few mission modes and the mini-games, it wouldn't be an impressive title at all. However, in the way these modes support the charming characters, and the way these characters do the same, that the game becomes something truly special.

Capcom, Inafune in particular, created something unique and special with the Mega Man Legends series, and of the best aspects of that series is The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, both regarding the game and character.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters, especially the Servebots
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-Morning cartoon
  • Charming graphics and character design, excellent voice acting


Cons:

  • None of the modes have enough depth to them
  • Training the Servebots can become repetitive and a chore


"Tips"
1-There is more than enough money to buy all upgrades if needed.
2-Save your Strength and Speed cubes to avoid doing the last stage of the training mini-games.
3-You really only need to train 6-8 high stat Servebots.
4-Make sure to fully train all the Servebots you are using on the final mission.
5-Talk to all Servebots and see what they need.
6-You don't need to win every mission from the start, you can retreat and regroup.
7-The Bazooka weapon is useful in unlocking secret rooms in the Ruins level, you will need to go in once though to get the necessary item to make it.
8-Use circle-down to do a quick turn.

"Next Game"

As expected from a game in this series, it's extremely charming and cute. In this case, the game's charm won me over the adequate gameplay, and I ended up loving the game.

The next games on the list will be my attempt at trying one of the monster taming competitors to Pokemon, the Monster Rancher series with its two games.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:36 am

#59(S)

Game: Tomba!:-
Year: 1997. 1998.
Genre: Action Platformer Adventure.
Publisher: Whoopee Camp, Sony.
Developer: Whoopee Camp.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Tomba-NTSC-PSX-FRONT

Designed and directed by a previous Capcom visionary, Tomba! was meant to be a unique game that defies description. While ostensibly being an Action-Platformer, it also included several RPG and Adventure game elements that it is closer to describe it as a 2D Legend of Zelda than anything else.

So, in effect, the game does succeed in being a unique genre-defying title, which partially explains its critical acclaim and cult-favorite status. However, in playing it years later, it has several pacing and direction issues that are difficult to ignore, and these flaws do keep it from becoming the masterpiece that it's designed to be.

"This was once a peaceful land, until seven Evil Pigs came. They suddenly appeared and changed this land into an ugly world."

Starring the pink-haired barbarian (?) Tomba, the game immediately shows a disregard to the design conventions of the '90s with its edges and dark hues. Instead, the game's world harkens back to the '80s with some charming visuals and a sense of humor throughout.

Starting with a charming anime movie, some Evil Pig minions steal Tomba's golden bracelet, which was given to him by his late grandfather. Aiming to retrieve his stolen heirloom, Tomba instead ends up saving the land from the influence of the seven Evil Pigs.

This takes him through several areas and villages, where he interacts with an expanding cast of characters, solving both minor and major issues, which ultimately should help him find the secret location to each evil pig.  Here is where the Adventure genre influence becomes clear. Most people basically require Tomba to fetch things from some locations, and these quests are called "events" in the game. By resolving events, Tomba gets awarded with some items (which can help resolve other vents) and perks.

What's most interesting about Tomba's adventure is seeing the influence of the Evil Pigs on the world. Since each of the seven cursed an area in the land, defeating any of them lifts the curse and changes the world accordingly. For instance, an area with severe storms suddenly becomes much calmer and easier to navigate.

As expected from the premise of the story, this is not really a complex or engaging plot. However, there is some extensive dialogue between Tomba and the many characters of the world, and a lot of it is funny, helping create a charming world.

"Be careful... You must not underestimate the power of the Evil Pigs"

The game's visionary director is Tokuro Fujiwara, who is most famous for his work on the Ghosts 'n Ghoblins franchise, and you can see a lot of Arthur's in the way Tomba moves. While not nearly as rigid and unforgiving as the movement in G'nG, there is still a lot of momentum to consider when you are jumping around.

As for his attacking moves, Tomba needs to deal with his enemies dually. First, he must stun them with one of his extending weapons of choice (whips, boomerangs, chains), and then he can jump on them and throw them around. When throwing enemies, you can throw them at other enemies to defeat them immediately. It's worth noting that several enemies can be jumped on and thrown without needing to stun them.

In fact, I found that I only used my weapon rarely, and at that, only against some specific kinds of enemies. Even against bosses, sometimes it's easier to jump into them than to attempt to stun them first. That's because they are only stunned for a short amount of time, and you can still fluff the jump and get hit by their unreliable hitbox.

This reflects the general movement and mechanics of the game. While Tomba's omentum and attacking options theoretically encourage continuous movement and action, similar to Namco's Klonoa game, jumping into enemies often feels unprecise and the main melee attack forces a full stop whenever you use it. Boss battles compound these issues because they require a near-perfect jump and throw into a moving target, which ruins what are otherwise some interesting battles.

"I can see it in your eyes... You will become stronger. Just don't lose courage"

Outside of combat, Tomba is consistently fun to move, especially as you later equip him with a parasol for gliding and also gain the ability to swim. This partially alleviates the constant amount of backtracking you will need to do throughout the game.

As mentioned earlier, the main thrust of the game is clearing the many "events" it gives you, which in turn unlocks more events to clear. These range from finding a Banana and feeding it to a hungry monkey to a multi-part romp through the entire island stepping on "pumping rocks". Many of these side quests are quite cryptic, both in their description and their solution. For instance, a thief losses his bag and you find it for him in the same area, but the quest continues and he loses his bag again but in a completely different and undisclosed location.

What's more confusing are the conditions to start these events, which often depends on finishing other pre-requisite events. Frustratingly, this means that some items that can resolve some of these quests only appear when you officially log them in. That's the case for defeating the seven Evil Pigs, where you need to acquire a certain item that allows the portal to their boss battles to appear in the world. As you can imagine, this means you don't know where that portal is until you get the key item, which will require you to search all over for that elusive portal whereas a locked door would have been apparent at any time you pass through it with or without a key.

So, the game's most innovative feature becomes extremely annoying without a guide to support you, at least that's the case if you are aiming to finish the game quickly and with as few repetitions as possible. However, this system does have a unique charm if you are willing to just hang out and uncover things at your leisure. There are always new events, and just walking around can become rewarding as you find new things in the areas you revisit.

"Now take yourself and your funky hair out of my sight! My storms create havoc for everyone!!"

As hoped by the exciting opening animation and unique art design, the game's graphics manages to capture that style in a way that maximizes the abilities of the PS1 3D graphical abilities while still maintaining an objectively good look.

Set in a 2.5D world, the game's world is a combination of 3D polygonal objects like Donkey Kong Country and impressive 2D backgrounds. With its expressive characters and uniformly good design, the game manages to look good and memorable.

Interestingly, the game uses its 3D graphics really well by adding in both foreground and background layers you can jump into, as well s some levels where you completely change the perspective by "flipping" the stage and rotating the playing plane around a landmark.

Unfortunately, while the graphical style is consistently good and fits the world and characters, the equally fitting soundtrack is perhaps too apt for the title. As a result, its tracks feel similar to each other, repetitive (especially considering the amount of backtracking), and are not as fun to listen to.

As with a few of the good tracks, I feel some of the tunes needed to have more ambiance to them rather than hit you over the head with how weird and wacky the world is.

In Conclusion:

I feel like I complained more about the game than I initially intended to, and that's because I really liked what it was going for. Tomba over really well, and other than some annoying hitbox issues, I felt the game's core mechanics to be really solid. Especially when in service to a genre-defying game, where there was a lot of promise to the concept of "events" and a labyrinthian adventure game.

However, flaws in its mechanical execution, as well as the cryptic drip-feed of events and lack of signposting meant the game just had too much backtracking to be consistently fun, which I seriously hope was fixed in the sequel.

Tomba! had the potential of becoming a masterpiece. I hope the sequel managed to fulfill that potential.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • Unique genre-defying game
  • The game's world and characters are charming in graphics and design
  • Movment has a satisfying weight to it


Cons:

  • Some quests are too cryptic and cause too much backtracking
  • Several issues with hitboxes that cause unnecessary damage and stopping.
  • The game is just designed with too much backtracking in mind


"Tips"
1-Unlock the fast-travel dog as soon as you can.
2-Use a guide for an easier time. Otherwise, keep a pen and paper ready to record your observations whenever you encounter an event.
3-Early on, you can use charity wings to teleport from area to area.
4-Equipping the parasol helps you navigate some of the more dangerous platforming situations.
5-Throwing colored enemies around grants you the exp that you need to unlock some of the stronger power-ups in the game.

"Next Game"

Despite having some cool ideas, the first Tomba! game did not meet my expectations for it. But it had enough promise that I am really excited to start its sequel, which is considered a much-improved game. It's the sequel that I is ranked at #59 in the Retro Sanctuary list, and it will be my next review.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sun Dec 19, 2021 7:43 pm

#59

Game: Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return:-
Year: 1999, 2000.
Genre: Action Platformer Adventure.
Publisher: Whoopee Camp, Sony.
Developer: Whoopee Camp.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Tomba-2-NTSC-PSX-FRONT

The first Tomba! was a genre-bending game that had a lot of great ideas in combining Action Platforming mechanics with Adventure game concepts to make an entirely unique game. It succeeded at that, but it also had its share of flaws, in mechanics, pace, and direction.

Thankfully, the concept didn't die with the first game, and the team had their chance to correct most of the first's flaws with a much better second game.

"Be careful when you go there though, there's an Evil Pig spell in that area"

The Evil Pigs are back to cursing the land. The caves of Mining town are filled with hot lava, the Kujara Ranch seems subjected to unnatural climate change, and all the clowns in Clown Town were turned into pigs. Maybe they would have gotten away with it, since this land is different than the one Tomba kicked them out of last game, but they made it personal by also kidnapping his childhood friend.

And so, our pink-haired hero ventures forth to capture the Evil Pigs, throwing them inside Evil Pig Bags, in the process both lifting the curse from the world and solving a lot of minor tasks in the way.

The story is as basic as the first game, and has the same comedy and charm, but is significantly expanded through the addition of voice acting and a sidekick character that acts as Tomba's voice. As expected from your typical PS1 game, the VA varies wildly in quality, and it ruins the game's otherwise funny dialogue through annoying voices and awkward acting. It's also not something you can easily ignore, as the story is focused on more in this sequel, which means more voiced dialogue and more annoying "acting".

Thankfully, the questionable VA doesn't kill the charm of the game, which still manages to carry through in both the dialogue and the funny motions and situation the game throws at you. One running gag is the crazy ways a path is revealed from one location to another, with some ludicrously designed Rube Goldberg machines.

Also, the fact that areas change after a curse is lifted, along with a lot of dialogue changes as your both progress the story and solve more quests, is a testament to how well-developed and dense the world of the game is.

"As you can see, this village has been cursed by the Evil Pigs"

Quests, or "events" as the game likes to call them, are what differentiates the game from other Action Platformers. These "events" are scattered throughout the game, with any being optional, and they range from fetch quests to collectethons, with some mini-games in between.

Other than the main events, which are required to progress through the game, you stumble upon the rest. Thankfully, unlike in the first game, items that are necessary to complete a quest are present even before uncovering it.

As a result of resolving these quests, you often unlock new power-ups, items, chest keys, and other goodies which aid you in your journey. This not only opens up more quests, but empowers you like any properly balanced Action-Adventure game should do.

If you look at the quality of these events, then you might be a bit disappointed. However, that shouldn't be the metric on which you judge. These events give weight and meaning to what Tomba does in the world, provide narrative opportunities for some comedy, and give the illusion of an open-ended experience.

Regarding the main events, like in the first game, there is no guidance on what to do next, but the signposting is much better this time around. As you go into each new location, you help resolve its immediate issues, unlocking the path to the next location as well as uncovering a new Evil Pig Bag. It's then up to you to find where the Evil Pig Gate is, which you can easily stumble upon by resisting the same areas in no time.

"If you don't know which Evil Pig kidnapped your friend, then you'll have to fight them all"

One of the biggest changes between Tomba! 2 and its predecessor is the full integrations of polygonal graphics, and consequently utilization of a true 3D space. The game still takes place in a 2D plane, but this plane is connected to other "planes" in various ways, and the game's camera rotates as you transfer from one place to the other. The camera also followed you in a quasi 2.5D perspective that aids your depth perception and view of the world.

These graphical changes have wide-reaching mechanical effects as well since jumps change perspective as you traverse, Tomba is more floaty than ever. In fact, as you progress through the game and unlock some power-up suits, you gain the ability to glide and become even floatier as a result.

While this comes at the consequence of slowing down the gameplay somewhat, it is necessary for gauging depth in a 3D space.

Thankfully, Tomba is not over-reliant on jumping on top of enemies and throwing them around as he was in the first game. Instead, he is given more offensive options that you unlock through the game. From your basic flail to a grappling hook (which unlocks some satisfying grappling gameplay), there are many ways to dispatch your enemies.

Unfortunately, the same flexibility in approach is not afforded by the bosses, who are all a combination of a micro obstacle course and a classic jump and throw into the bag routine. This repetitiveness wouldn't have been as bad if the game wasn't end-loaded with bosses, but the obstacles are at least drastically different between each boss.

"And remember, buckets are for water, baskets are for crabs. Don't get confused"

Naturally, the biggest impact of transitioning fully into polygons was the graphics of the game, which anyone familiar with PS1 graphics could imagine being a terrible decision. Luckily, despite some obvious (and literal) rough edges, Tomba! 2 doesn't suffer too much thanks to its forgiving and cartoony art direction.

Somehow, everything in the world fits the confines of the PS1, and the edges complement the angular focus of much of the game's world design. It also helps that most of the game's locations are rich with vibrant and bright colors.

In a way, the graphics just work, with the occasionally jank in design and animations only adding rather than subtracting from the game's charms.

Just as the graphics of the game got a major overhaul, so did the focus on music, which is much more apparent this time around. Simply put, this soundtrack is much better all around, and has some really good tracks.

One thing I liked is how the same areas receive a new soundtrack once the curse is lifted, and that's not only narratively rewarding, but is also an excuse for more good music. Ironically, despite lacking some of the non-cursed themes, my favorite songs are the cursed themes of "Coal Mining Town" and "Ranch Area".

In Conclusion:

The Tomba! have a certain cult-favorite reputation, with their unique genre-bending gameplay, game concepts, and art direction. On the strength of the games, this reputation is much deserved, especially when it comes to Toba! 2.

Despite some issues with graphical and mechanical jank, some of the same pacing issues as the first game, and a small penchant for repetition, this is still a massively charmingly unique game that is worth a try for any PS1 fan.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • Unique genre-defying game
  • The game's world and characters are charming in graphics and design
  • Music is much improved with some good tracks
  • Event system adds a fun feedback loop


Cons:

  • Several issues with hitboxes that cause unnecessary damage and stopping.
  • The voice acting is mostly bad.
  • Graphics and physics can get a bit janky


"Tips"
1-Circle through the world once, and then twice for the most efficient playthrough.
2-Early on, you can use charity wings to teleport from area to area.
3-Generally speaking, the squirrel suit is the best thing you should be wearing most of the time.
4-You can't immediately resolve all events you uncover.
5-Beating the fire Evil Pig will open a connection between all realms.
6-Make sure to finish the Charlie (monkey) events.


"Next Game"

That's it for the short-lived Tomba! series, which started with a good game and ended with a very good one that is perfectly deserving of its cult-favorite status.

The next games o the list are the two PS1 Tenchu games, with the second one getting #57 in the Retro Sanctuary Top 100 PS1 games list. In theory, these are two games I should like, but they may have aged terribly with time. Let's see how it goes.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Dec 29, 2021 10:28 pm

#57

Game: Tenchu2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: 3D Stealth Action.
Publisher: Acquire, Activision.
Developer: Acquire.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Tenchu_2_birth_of_the_stealth_assassins_frontcover_large_7EzBDBGUyIoHnwC

The PS1 era saw the birth of many new franchises in gaming and a common trend between many of them is how the first game introduced core concepts and ideas that the sequel then improved upon and elevated to new rights. In many ways, Tenchu 2 looks like it follows that trend. With improved mechanics, improved mission structure, and a more focus on narrative than the original.

Yet, the game also inexplicably takes as many steps back as forward. It has a less varied mission structure, and its PS1 visuals are not saved by the good design and art direction of the first game. Most criminally, there is no soundtrack in the game's levels unlike the excellent soundscape of the original.

As such, Tenchu 2 end up in exactly the same position as its predecessor, but with entirely different weaknesses and strengths.

"A world ruled Ninja. We will no longer be forced to hide in the night like thieves. We will decide how we live and how we die"

As the subtitle of the game suggests, Birth of the Stealth Assassin, this story is actually a prequel to the first game that details the history of the Azuma Ninja and Lord Gohda whom they serve. Like with the first game, you can pick between one of the two protagonists. The stoic Ninja Rikimaru, or the feisty Kunoichi Ayame. Once you complete the game with both of them, you unlock the story of Tatsumaru, the third young member of the Azuma ninjas.

From a narrative point of view, the story follows many classic revenge story tropes with honor and duty in the background, and it clearly lays the ground for how the characters develop into the versions we are more familiar with the first game. The story might hinge on some overused cliches, but that's to be expected in that era of writing.

In the middle of a civil war in the Gohda lands, the Azuma Ninjas find themselves trapped in trying to protect their lord while a shadowy organization, the Burning Dawn, tries to create a country for Ninjas to rule and be free in (after apparently killing or subjecting all non-Ninja). Even though the end goal of the Burning Dawn is ridiculous, and the outfit of their leader an extremely impractical distraction, the story is at least engaging in a funny way.

What's not engaging however is the entirety of Ayame's voice acting performance, which completely kills any dramatic impetus in her scenes, and is not bad enough to be funny. It just comes out as really weak and a clear outlier when the rest of the voice cast oscillates between professionally competent to somewhat decent.

In a way, it fits her now weirdly cartoonish face.

"Unforgivable crimes must be punished. The traitor must die"

Being an Action Stealth game featuring Ninjas, Tenchu 2 is a deliberate game about exploring your surroundings and planning your attacks from the shadows. That is communicated in the beggening of each level, where you prepare by bringing in a few useful items (which I rararely ever needed to use), and the few objectives you are handed.

Nearly each level tasks you to reach a certain point, and the nice feature in the second game is how the map fills as you explore the level, which helps against getting lost. While most levels do not fail you if you get caught, you are graded based on your stealth performance at the end of each mission.

Playing the game and trying to get a high score is the proper way to go, which means you need to be careful as you advance and pay close attention to your Ninja sense. Since the game has only slightly better draw distance than the first (which it justifies by using the weather as an excuse), then that sense radar is your best tool in aproximating the location of your enemies.

Its worth noting that Tenchu 2 doesn't have the same veitcality as the first game, which explains the weaker utility of your trusty grappling hook. Instead, levels are larger, and some have cavernous rooms and underwater passages.

Generally, despite some similarities in level design and the repetition of playing some levels with two characters, the game is really fun if you try and avoid all enemies and be a master Ninja.

"If he had dishonored himself, only death at the hand of an Azuma Ninja will purify him. You must be prepared to kill him"

If you played the first Tenchu then the first thing you will notice with the sequel is how much faster and more fluid the character movmenets are. In addition to more fluid general movements, there are also steps you can take while crawling, longer jumps, evasive maneuvers, and even the introduction of swimming.

This makes the game's central mechanic of sneaking behind enemies and killing them much more fun, and even improves the first game's wonky combat. Yet, the mission design is actually a downgrade, with little variety and most missions requiring you to reach one area in the level's labrynthian map.

Almost always, at the end of each level, there is boss to fight. Combat is better in this game, but it still suffers from some camera issues. Initially, playingwith Ayame, I thought combat was extremely hard. However, it turns  out Ayame just suffers from reach issues and Rikimaru is therefore a much stronger fighter.

So, while the game feels better to play, it doesn't look like the level and mission design were given the same attention. As a result, most missions are somewhat samey. Ironically, there is a included mission-editor in the game, and players could actually craft more interesting missions with it if they wanted.

"The wine of victory is sweeter when you don't have to share it"

With the experience of the first game out of the way, the team at Acquire must have felt confident that they could make a bigger and more visually impressive world. At first glance, it seemed that they were able to do just the thing by looking at their impressive CGI videos, and then by looking at the bigger size of their levels.

However, just like with the smudged face of Ayame, you feel like there is a weakness in artistic design that leaves the game world feel less barren and impressive than its predecessor. At least, it varies in quality from one type of level to another, that they rarely seem to have the consistent vision that the first game enjoyed.

Still, the game's graphics are not exactly downgraded. The same courtesy cannot be said of the game's soundtrack, which is criminally non-existent. Tenchu's soundtrack was a unique fusion of sounds that made each level extremely memorable by sound alone. Surprisingly, the secondgame makes the daft decision of not replacing the soundtrack exclusively with atmospheric sounds and noises.

That in itself could be forgiven if there were areas where an excellent soundtrack could shine besides the singe boss battle track, but it is just atmospheric sounds all over. When you remember the excellent soundtrack of the first game, you gasp at the stupidity in play here.

In a way, that's much worse that the inconsistent voice acting in the game, which fits the early character of the game an is at least half competent with the notable exception of Ayame's terrible performance.

In Conclusion:

Tenchu 2 takes a major step forward with its gameplay mechanics and focus on story. Its narratively more tight while being more pleasant to play, even if the level structure is a bit repetitive. At least the core mechanics are fun to control.

If it added that aspect on top of the first game with the slightest of graphical upgrades, then it would have been an obviously superior sequel. Yet, it also decided to take some step backs in its art design with some notable graphical downgrades in textures and some character faces as a result. Most damaging was the decision not follow the first game's excellent soundtrack and instead opt for a purely atmospheric score.

For these reason, Tenchu 2 fails at being an obviously better sequel and instead works as weird kind of side step, the kind that nearly thrust you into the vision of an enemy.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • Unique genre-defining game
  • Fluid movement and mechanics
  • A decent focus on story and narrative


Cons:

  • Short draw distance hampers the game's graphics and gameplay
  • Extremely unfortunate lack of a soudntrack
  • Graphics are a little muddy, and the camera controls are lacking


"Tips"
1-Use your grappling hook well.
2-If you are planning to only play it once, use Rikimaru.
3-Guarding is really useful in boss fights, and so is paying attention to distances.
4-Sneaking also means running to guard and slashing them from the back.
5-It also means jumping and slashing from above.
6-Press select to open the map, which fills as you explore the level.
7-Use water to your advantage, as you can hide under it and quickly sneak up enemies.
8-You can also swim really fast and launch yourself from the water for a difficult to execute slashing attack.



"Next Game"

If it just had a decent soundtrack, then Tenchu 2 could have been comfortably better than the first, but they just had to ruin that. I did have fun with the game, but it could have been a better experience otherwise.

The next game in the list at #52 is space combat simulator, called Colony Wars: Vengeance, which is supposed to be one of the best of its kind. I am not very sure about the genre, and as such I am not confident I am actually going to end up reviewing this game or not.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Mar 02, 2022 4:14 pm

#A47

Game: Skullmonkeys:-
Year: 1998.
Genre: Platformer.
Publisher: Electronic Arts.
Developer: The Neverhood, Inc.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Skull-Monkeys-NTSC-PSX-FRONT

The onset of 3D graphics in the 5th generation led industry leaders in animation, such as DreamWorks, to gravitate towards making videogames. Some of those games, like Skullmonkeys, were visual and graphical masterpieces that still hold up today.

However, other than with its brilliant clay aesthetic and animations, the game is not a particularly engaging platformer at all. You are probably better served watching many of the brilliant claymation movies of the 90s instead.

"The wicker Kloggmoneky has got my people working on a deadly weapon called Evil Engine Number 9. He is going to use it to blow up the Neverhood"

The game starts with a visually impressive claymation CGI scene, where the evil Klogg disguises himself as one of the Skullmonkeys and starts commanding the idiots to build an evil death machine. One of the smarter Skullmonkeys sends a message to the hero of the game, Klaymen, to save the day.

Between each "world" in the game, another claymation CGI scene advances the story, or more commonly, is used to provide some humorous take. While the humor is almost always focused on gross-out or slap-stick humor, it is well-done enough to be really appreciated.

The closest parallel game in its style that I can think of is the Earthwork Jim series, but it doesn't have the absurdist look and consistent satirical take as that game. Klaymen is an expressive protagonist, especially with his multitude of funny animations, but the entire game's world doesn't differentiate itself from anything else other than being made of clay.

Luckily, the clay aesthetic does do a good deal of the heavy lifting towards making a world that you may care about. At least, I know that I had a blast watching all those claymation shorts.

"My people are too smart to make him a leader"

In order to see the great cutscenes, you will first have to go through each level, and that's where the game's problems begin. Simply put, it's just a rather basic and boring platformer at its core.

Mechanically, Klaymen moves fine, but with a little annoying imprecision in his movements. He can jump on top of enemies to defeat them, gaining a little jump boost in the process. Running is an option, which increases your jump's height and length. Other than jumping on top of enemies, Kleyman also has access to projectile resources which he can use to shoot at enemies.

So, while the controls are fine and there seem to be the tools to make an interesting platformer, the level design is extremely poor. Take this section as an example: a rotating platform is far enough that you need to estimate when to jump to reach it, and once you do so, there is another rotating platform after it with the same speed and timing, and then another, and then another. For six or seven straight jumps, you are making the same exact move, and that situation repeats all over the game.

Levels are built with no rhyme or reason. Obstacles are copy-pasted between levels or repeated without variety within the same level, enemies are placed in weird locations, and there is no really need to use any of your tools for the majority of the game.

In theory, each level has an upper and lower path to the end goal, but the design is so indistinctive that you could sleep fall into the lower path and not know the difference. This issue repeats across all levels, as they feel little different other than through their backgrounds.

Even the bonus stages prove to be incredibly boring, but not as boring as the repetitive and shallow bosses you occasionally fight. What adds to the frustration of boredom is the limited health hit points you have, which given some of the game's imprecisions, makes it harder than it has any right to be.

"Here is a little bonus room cause I know you had it tough, and here is a little bonus tune about collecting really cool stuff"

With its DreamWorks pedigree, and as can be seen from the excellent claymation CGI scenes, the game's production in graphics and sound is top-notch.

In line with its claymation movies scenes, the game's polygonal graphics are crafted t appear like they are made of clay and that illusion works wonderfully, at least when it comes to the characters. They move and animate fluidly, in line with their supposed substance. Even Klaymen's idle animating is crafted with care and a focus on humor.

However, the game's backgrounds and platforms are not built with the same purpose in mind, with an aesthetic that is too dark and grungy for most of the game, only occasionally beaming with personality like in the snow levels.

A similar take can be made regarding the game's soundtrack, which has a brilliant and unique soundscape but it repeats too often. At least, I felt the repetition more given the length and boring repetitive nature of each level.

The production highlights remain the game's amazing CGI scenes, which showcases expertise in claymation that isn't diluted by the console's specifications at all. In fact, that same design sensibility does show in the animation of the main character throughout the game.

In Conclusion:

Skullmonekys is a game crafted with its clay aesthetic in mind, and it absolutely nails that with its expert CGI scenes between each level and the in-game graphics and animations as well. It even manages to have a decent story and an interesting world made of clay.

Unfortunately, the clay is only half-baked when it comes to its gameplay, especially in its extremely boring and basic level design, which fails to differentiate it from the most average of Platforming games in a very crowded genre.

Final: 5/10

Pros:

  • Great claymation CGI scenes
  • The clay graphics translate really well in-game
  • A nice and unique soundtrack


Cons:

  • Extremely boring level design
  • Some imprecision in platforming creates unnecessary difficulties.
  • Background graphics are mostly too dark
  • The gameplay becomes really dull really quick


"Tips"
1-You can go inside some walls to get some secrets.
2-Collecting icons unlock bonus stages where you can get lives and resources.
3-Jumping near the head of an enemy will count as jumping in top of them.
4-Jumping after running will lead to a higher and longer jump.
5-Collect 100 clay balls to get a life.



"Next Game"

I would have probably forgiven SkullMonkeys shortcomings more as a kid given its visual charms. However, with decades of Platforming experience under my belt, I can only grade it as a mediocre platformer with an interesting aesthetic.

Hopefully, the next game I am reviewing, MediEvil II proves to be a 3D Action Platformer game with more substance. I am skipping a review of the first MediEvil game because it had a rather faithful remake (to its detriment) in 2019.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Mon Mar 14, 2022 4:50 pm

#A45

Game: MediEvil 2:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: Action-Adventure.
Publisher: Sony (SCE).
Developer: SCE Cambridge Studio.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 51922-medievil-ii-playstation-front-cover

Of the many mascot characters that Sony attempted to craft for their PlayStation brand, none wore that particular role with less grace than Sir Daniel Fortesque of the MediEvil series. That's not to say that his games were bad, but that a suit of armor with a one-eyed skull for a face is not something that usually sells a brand.

However, the competent 3D Action gameplay of the first game did showcase the console's capabilities, and the first game had enough charm and personality to commission a second game to advance the formula. While it's undoubtedly true that the sequel does fix many of the issues of the first game, the result is still a game with awkward pace, terrible combat, and little to recommend it other than its unique zombie charm.

"Sir Daniel Fortesque, back from the dead once again. The great hero of Gallowmere reduced to a dusty relic at the back of the old museum"

The game starts with a magical event that animates the dead of Victorian London, which fortuitously includes Sir Daniel, the hero who should uncover the secrets of this black magic event and put things to right. In that quest, Sir Dan meets a friendly ghost friend who moonlights as a tutorial, a professor-type with typical English traits, and the reanimated corpse of an Egyptian mummy which is inexplicably blue and sexy.

At this stage in gaming, most games in most genres required a semblance of a story to accompany the action, and MediEvil II neither bucks that trend nor improves on it in any way. This is a competent story with solid voice acting that is augmented by the game's zombie-inspired humor.

One thing to note is that the decision to use Victorian England as a setting should be brilliant, but the locations are boring and non-descript that it rarely features at all. If not for the English VA and the occasional cockney accent, this could be 19th century New York.

In a way, the style of this game isn't much different from the mid 90's style of cartoons with a focus on gross-out humor and some weird visual styles. Shows like Dexter and Courage the Cowardly Dog, which I feel were of the same cultural zeitgeist as games like Earthworm Joe and Skullmonkeys.

"Every dead soul in London is walking the streets, and a host of demons have arrived to plague us"

After Sir Dan wakes up from his long rest in the museum's crypt, he immediately springs to action with nothing but his own arm as a weapon. Not to worry, he soon finds a sword and pistol to use against the evil army of the dead (excluding himself and his allies).

The main gameplay element is its hack-and-slash combat, which is interspersed with the occasional puzzle or platforming section. All of these elements are basic, tedious, and just plain un-fun.

Combat is a messy affair regardless of whether you use your melee or ranged weapon, and that's basically due to the enemies' inability to flinch and a significant lack of invisibility frames. Instead, they will keep hacking at you, with your only means of defense being a consumable shield. Soon, you will realize the best way to survive is to frantically run around while blandly hitting the attack button or use the charged area-of-effect moves that are available with weapons you acquire later.

Speaking of acquiring weapons, that's something you can do by collecting chalices in every level, which you do by killing enough enemies to fill the chalice and then look for it somewhere on the stage.

Other than some slight visual variations, these stages are uniformly boring and are only distinguished by how bad their platforming or puzzle sections are. Admittedly, one great idea in the game is the smart use of Sir Dan's skull. You can detach it after a certain point in the game and use it for reconnaissance to help solve some puzzles.

Thankfully, that level of intelligent design carried over to the game's bosses, but they do grow a bit tedious due to their overlarge health. Which, along with the slightly erratic camera is the main constant in MediEvil II's gameplay.

"Try the hammer of Thor. You are sure to have a smashing time"

Like with its basic but unique world and character design, the production of this game can only be described s quite competent. The 3D graphics are acceptable, and the art direction is consistent throughout, with clear and fluid animations that are exaggerated both for effect and to conserve in technical work.

I just find it hard to see the potential in Sir Daniel Fortesque's world, and other than the novelty of controlling an undead character with many uses of his own skull, I am not sure this is a series that had any legs to go beyond the initial joke.

Anyways, that didn't affect the graphics department, which did their level best at the technical aspect of designing the game's world and characters, who unfortunately grow stale and indistinguishable as the game goes on despite always being competently made.

The same level of sameness and competency can be said about the game's soundtrack, which runs the gamut from spooky fun Holloween themes to medieval-inspired heroic tunes with a twinkle of fun. It's all competent, but extremely expected, and frankly nondescript.

In Conclusion:

A lot of people liked, and still like MediEvil and its sequel. They might be seeing something in the game that I am not seeing because all I can see is a mediocre Action-Adventure game with an interesting but poorly realized world and characters.

Then again, the poor reception of the first game's remake may just suggestion that this is just people's nostalgia speaking, and not the game's hidden quality.

Final: 4/10

Pros:

  • Interesting main premise and character
  • The 3D graphics, voice acting, and soundtrack are competent


Cons:

  • Extremely boring level design
  • Combat is tedious and poorly designed
  • Occassionally erratic camera makes platforming sections a chore
  • The gameplay becomes really dull really quick


"Tips"
1-Double tap the directional button to dash.
2-Press triangle during a dash for a daring dash.
3-Kill enough enemies in each level to unlock the chalice, which will give you more weapons to use if you find them.
4-Back up often to health fountain to heal
5-Note that health fountains can deplete
6-Best mode of fighting is flailing like an idiot while hitting your enemies with an AOE shockwave attack


"Next Game"

I remember not having a very great time with MediEvil or its sequel as a kid, and I thought it was due to its difficulty. Now I know that it is just not a very good game.

After playing two mediocre games in a row, I am afraid of striking with a third, and Shadow Madness as the next game in the unranked addendum list is a sketchy case. It's a JRPG made by a Western studio without much pedigree, but one that did make a couple of interesting and well-loved games. Here is hoping for a good time.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Mar 26, 2022 2:54 pm

#A43

Game: Shadow Madness:-
Year: 1999.
Genre: JRPG.
Publisher: Crave Entertainment.
Developer: Craveyward Studios, Lobotomy Studios.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 239584-shadow-madness-playstation-front-cover

Made by a number of ex-Squaresoft US employees, including the influential Ted Woolsey (whose localizations of Final Fantasy IV & VI were the best possible localizations given the constraints, fight me!), Shadow Madness was a Western attempt at making a JRPG like Final Fantasy VII.

In a way, the team succeeded in emulating their inspiration a tad too closely. It aims to look and feel like Cloud's adventure, but it misses the mark and ends up looking much worse while not playing as tightly despite being two years older. Unfortunately, the small team at Craveyard Studios just couldn't give justice to the interesting idea that they had.

"An unknown entity was attacking. It used mystic forces to wreak havoc across the land"

Unconstrained by the need for localization, the team at Craveyard Studios, including Ted Woolsey, must have been ecstatic at writing the game's story. That's evident in the dialogue, which flows naturally between characters through their conversations, and allows exposition to flow clearly and dramatically throughout the text.

It's one of the smoothest written dialogue I have seen in a JRPG, and it flows consistently while giving nuance and character to the text. Yet, the quality of dialogue shouldn't be conflated with the quality of the story and characters.

The main thrust of Shadow Madness's story is an interesting cataclysmic event that is wreaking havoc across the land as well as spreading a state of madness to the people. This cataclysm, which starts off as a mystery as the group of heroes survive through the wreckage of their homes and travel for answers, is rooted in the interesting lore of the world.

Unfortunately, while the story is intriguing and there is no fault in the dialogue, I didn't come to care much about the characters except in regards to their humorous banter. I suspect that is due to both their one-dimensional nature as well as some exceptionally ugly character design (except for Godhead, which is just a floating disembodied head that was rocking that looks before Mimir made it cool) isn't helped by the game's ugly graphics.

Say what you well about the generic design of JRPG characters, but they are at least made to be interesting and appealing in some way. Like the world, it's set in, which despite being interesting from a lot and writing point of view is just a bunch of ugly masses, the characters in Shadow Madness are such one-dimensional masses.

"Keerg's blood! Our towns are gone... We have no one left... The dead MUST be avenged!"

Other than its sub-par graphics, Shadow Madness's greatest weakness is its battle system and general gameplay loop. Nominally inspired by the team's previous connection to the Final Fantasy VI Active-Time battle system and Super Mario RPG's action inputs, Shadow Madness somehow manages to mess up both.

In battle, both the enemy and player characters operate on an invisible timer that never stops, even when you are making strategic decisions in your turn. The issue is that enemy and player timers seem to be independent. This means that your player character's timers don't advance while you choose your actions. With a very fast timer, the enemy can hit you three to four times while you are looking for specific magic or item to use.

Frustratingly, this leaves basic attacks as your best option most of the time, which come in different flavors from ranged to aggressive attacks. Ranged attacks use resources, and I didn't figure out any disadvantage to using aggressive attacks in lieu of normal ones. Now, in theory, you could augment your physical attacks by pressing the action button as your attack lands, but I found that the game gives you poor indication on timing, and rarely did see much difference and felt it more as an illusion rather than fact.

Naturally, you would think that these limitations would lead to a difficult and unfair time with the game. Yet, here is where the game's biggest issue becomes obvious, it's extremely and insultingly easy. When enemies don't whiff their attacks, they make single-digit damage unless they use magic (rarely), and I rarely had to heal or use magic at all.

Thankfully, with battles being extremely boring and inconsequential, the game has a reliable method to avoid random encounters, which is to duck whenever you hear monster roars. This won't pull back your experience growth, since you gain enough of it through occasional and mandatory battles.

It's rarely a compliment that the best thing about a game is that it allows you not to play it.

"Listen well, young visitors. I speak for the Greater Body... For all that has come, for all that follow"

Outside of battle, there isn't much to do except going from one place to another. Generally, the game is pretty linear, including its dungeons. The challenge is mostly figuring out what constitutes a path or a doorway in the game's painted background or navigating through the invisible edges of some of the environment's polygons.

Given the game's simplicity, you won't need much preparation before battles other than buying and equipping the latest defensive gear, and there isn't much to do anyway. There is no skill-learning system, crafting, or any other staples of good JRPGs.

Which is just as well given the game's limited inventory room, which would make a crating system a nightmare, and already is in a way. For some reason, there are hundreds of items that you can find and pick up, but the majority of them are completely useless and should be discarded right away.

As for side-quests, there aren't many interesting ones to speak off. However, it should be noted that the NPCs you meet and the books you read in towns are really interesting. These side stories and characters are often really interesting, especially when the characters react to them with some great dialogue.

"In the name of the One Head! Curse this foul, wooden demon! Aaaiiieee!!! We are undone!"

Sometimes, a game takes its inspiration too literally. In this case, it appears like Shadow Madness tries extremely hard to imitate Final Fantasy VII, it somehow ended up with worse versions of its ugly polygonal graphics, both inside and outside of battles.

Outside of battle, super-deformed polygonal creatures greet each other in front of hand-painted backgrounds. They don't look cute or interesting and do a poor job of imitating the newspaper-style comics of their portraits. It's frankly an achievement that a 1999 PS1 game manages to have worse polygonal models than a 1997 Saturn game would.

Inside battle, the character proportions and animations are better, but it is still a far cry from the standards of the day (or just common artistic sense) and is compounded by the poor and ugly art design throughout the whole game.

It appears that the world design was going for an Eldritch horror kind of thing, but it achieves being horrifying for all the wrong reasons.

One thing that isn't horrifying (unless it intends to be) is the game's soundtrack, which finally shows a degree of competency absent from the rest of the game besides its writing. It is moody and atmospheric where it needs to be, but also has some upbeat battle music and interesting jazzy town themes, making sure the game sounds much better than it looks.

In Conclusion:

As a freshman effort by a small team, there is much to be proud of about Shadow Madness. It has an interesting story, excellent dialogue, and good music. Yet, it shows a lack of competency (and budget) in the craft of its gameplay system and graphics.

In a way, it reminds me of the interesting experiment that was Secret of Evermore on the SNES. Except, given the generational difference, the lack of competency on the SNES didn't lead to the creation of an ugly and unpleasant game like it would have on the PS1.

Unfortunately, the graphical and gameplay shortcomings in Shadow Madness are so severe that they smother any of its better aspects.

Final: 4/10

Pros:
  • Great dialogue and script with humor and consistency.
  • Interesting story concept and lore.
  • The ability to avoid random encounters.
  • NPCs and books have interesting stories.
  • Good soundtrack.


Cons:
  • Characters are one-dimensional and have poor designs.
  • The battle system is poorly implemented and mechanically flawed.
  • The game is ridiculously easy and lacks any challenge.
  • Nothing to do outside of battle and clumsy map and dungeon designs.
  • Extremely ugly graphics both inside and outside of battle.
  • Unflattering combination of polygonal graphics and painted backgrounds.


"Tips"
1-Hold the shoulder button to duck when you hear monster roars if you want to avoid random encounters.
2-For ranged characters, choose the engage command for melee attacks without using arrows.
3-Throw away most of the useless junk you pick up (things without value or that heals little HP).
4-In Karillon city, there are thugs you could fight for huge experience boost repeatedly.
5-Don't bother much with using magic, you will rarely need it.

"Next Game"

I always hope to enjoy these little-known JRPGs, and Shadow Madness had its heart in the right place. However, the execution was aggressively off.

Now I am going back to the main Top 100 PS1 Games list by Retro Sanctuary, directly to Dino Crisis 2 at #44. However, before that, I will play and review the first Dino Crisis game. Hope it still holds up.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Apr 13, 2022 10:59 pm

#44(S)

Game: Dino Crisis:-
Year: 1999.
Genre: Survival Horror.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 240

What would Resident Evil play like if all the enemies in the game were mobile and aggressive dinosaurs? Not very differently, as the first Dino Crisis game demonstrates. If you were not aware that the game was actually made by Capcom, you would be forgiven to think that this is the most blatant Resident Evil clone that ever existed.

Since it was made by Capcom, it survives the sin of unoriginality through experience and provides a really solid PS1 Survival Horror experience, but it suffers from lacking the trapping and atmosphere of the Resident Evil locations.

"I must discover the true purpose of this project, before irreparable harm is done"

The game begins with a squad of special operation agents infiltrating an island to extract a presumably dead genius scientist, Dr. Kirk of the famed "Third Energy" theory, a gibberish concept that is used as an excuse to bring dinosaurs into the game.

When reaching the island, a member of the team lands awkwardly, and then in a scene right out of Jurassic Park (expertly rendered through the technology of the time), is gobbled up by a T-Rex. Soon, the rest of the team realizes something is terribly wrong on the island, and find themselves under threat by carnivorous dinosaurs.

Controlling the rookie of the team, Regina, you search through the island's research headquarters for Dr. Kirk, as well as a way out of the island while trying to survive being devoured by pre-historic beasts. It's supposedly riveting and tense stuff, except when the characters converse with ridiculously cheesy quips (that are not as ridiculous as the first Resident Evil game though).

The game progresses similar to the other more famous Capcom games, by finding clues, and codes, and slowly uncovering what happened on the island while nearing your escape. What holds Dino Crisis back is that the story and lore are just not as interesting, and the stakes are more minimal as well. Dinosaurs, no matter how frightening at the moment, do not have the same viral and societal fear factors as zombies, and the sterile research station doesn't do the heavy narrative work that the mansions did in Resident Evil.

One thing that the game does well though is incorporate the rest of your team in a meaningful way, offering you choices in how to tackle key points in the story, even affecting the ending at the final juncture of the game.

"This wasn't much of a fight. I don't think the guards hit anything before getting sliced and diced"

While the game's story doesn't have the same interesting trappings of the Resident Evil franchise, it sure does copy its gameplay to a tee, which is a disappointment when you consider the fact that you are dealing with supposedly deadlier enemies.

Due to the PS1's technical limitations, the dino enemies are mostly trapped in individual rooms, which makes the most efficient strategy to run through the game is to run and dodge the enemies while going from to room. However, it should be noted that sometimes, the dinos will suddenly rush into the room or corridor you escaped into (showing up in a minor cut-scene), and that can escalate into a deadly battle soon.

That's because you are outclassed in your fight against these beasts, lacking in ammo and firepower, you cannot hope to kill every enemy you face. Still, when cornered, you can always trust the little ammo you have to dispatch a dino or three, and then heal up the damage, but don't expect to survive long if you try and kill every enemy.

To be fair, even though the game functions mechanically the same as its zombified inspiration, with solid but rigid tank controls, auto-aiming, and the ever-handy quick turn button, the game does move at a slightly faster pace. This leads to some exciting chases where you can also use the environment, closing laser gates behind you, to impede the scaly predators.

Still, if you imagined that having faster and stronger enemies being the default will fundamentally shake up Capcom's PS1 Survival Horror formula, then you will be disappointed by the result here.

"I'm in... This place is so deserted. I have a bad feeling about this!"

With its slow and clunky gameplay, fixed camera angles, and fixation on puzzles, I have always argued that the Survival Horror genre is simply a more action-oriented form of Point-and-Click Adventure games. Think about it, you run around rooms, gathering clues and items, and then using them in other rooms to solve puzzles. All the while, the action is intermittent and your best option is almost always to flee.

In Dino Crisis, the puzzles are really good and fit the location and theme of the game much better than the nonsensical puzzles of the Arkley Mansion. Attempting to fix a generator, hack into a system, reformat an idea, or formulate a scientific McGuffin.

These are objectives that make sense within the context of the game, and it feels fair in how you are supposed to figure them out. Clues are accessible in books and charts visible in the environment, and hints are not too obvious to spoil the solution.

Ultimately, the majority of your experience would be running around the island's research base, trying to figure out how to get deeper into it, and resolving the obstacles in your path. Rarely was I frustrated by this part of the game, and rather enjoyed the puzzles, which didn't require much backtracking to deal with.

"This isn't a joke you idiot. We were just attacked by a big ass lizard!!"

Releasing at the tail end of the PS1's cycle, Dino Crisis came at a point where developers had a better grasp of 3D graphics, which shows in Capcom's dedication to making all environments and characters with polygons.

As expected from a game its age, the character models lack detail and have mushy faces, but the enemy models, while limited in numbers, look good and menacing. What's more disappointing are the environments, which while sterile by design, lack the beauty and detail of pre-rendered backgrounds.

Of course, this was mainly due to the PS1's lack of power, which wasn't as much of a concern with occasional expertly done CGI scenes. Those were well done and clearly were influenced by Jurassic Park in more ways than one.

It should be noted that the excellent direction of the CGI scenes extends to the in-game scenes, which made for some memorable encounters with the dinosaurs, especially the mighty T-Rex. Some of those scenes even had an early form of quick-time events, where you need to mash the buttons to escape from a dangerous situation.

As for the game's soundtrack, it's atmospheric most of the time but does have the occasional suitably epic or tense track. It doesn't stick to the memory and doesn't have the same evocative feeling as other games in the genre. The same can be said about the voice acting which is solid, which is better than being memorable for the wrong reasons.

In Conclusion:

Here is a case where a game is being judged in comparison to its peers and inspiration. I imagine if it was released before Resident Evil, then it would have rightly been celebrated as a revolutionary game. Instead, we are left with a minor mechanical step forward that misses some of the unique pulling factors of the original.

Still, this was Capcom's first attempt at making a Resident Evil clone and they stuck too close to the source material. I wonder what they have done with the sequel of this game.

Final: 7/10

Pros:
  • Occassional choice-driven sections.
  • Solid and enjoyable puzzles.
  • Great scene direction.
  • The dinosaurs look good



Cons:
  • The narrative and location aren't very interesting.
  • The game plays almost exactly like its more prestigious inspiration.
  • Polygonal graphics show their age.
  • The 3D environment is not as beautiful or evocative as pre-rendered backdrops.



"Tips"
1- Learn to utilize the map and make sense of the directions.
2- You can investigate equipment, signs, books, shelves, and other environmental objects for clues.
3- Avoid shooting dinosaurs and focus on dodging them instead.
4- Save some plugs (that are used to open ammo boxes) for the end-game.
5- You can push shelves and cabinets to expose some stuff.
6- Press R2 for a full 180 degrees turn.
7- Use environmental switches to stop or trip-up chasing dinosaurs.
8- When encountering a "danger" situation, just mash all buttons to escape.


"Next Game"

I didn't expect to enjoy a PS1 Survival Horror game at all, so I am pleasantly glad that I did end up liking Dino Crisis.

Now, I am looking forward more to playing its sequel, which is the one that sits at #44 on the Top 100 PS1 games list by Retro Sanctuary. I should note that I have a very interesting personal story with that game which I will share in my review of it.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Apr 23, 2022 1:16 pm

#44

Game: Dino Crisis 2:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: Action-Horror.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 190092-dino-crisis-2-playstation-front-cover

Moving away from aping the Survival Horror formula of Resident Evil like the first game did, Dino Crisis instead crafts its own identity as an Action-heavy take on the genre, giving justice to the concept of fighting dinosaurs for survival.

This is simply a much better sequel, and probably one of the best Action games on the PS1. Now it makes sense why my cousin was so addicted to the game when it was first released, but more on that later.

"This time, the entire research base, military institution, and a small town close-by has disappeared. In their place no lies a jungle from another time"

The first game introduced the concept of "Third Energy", which when generated somehow creates time travel portals. These portals are what introduced dinosaurs to the island in the first game. Now, an experiment with Third Energy went wrong and en entire base and neighboring town were apparently transported to the Cretaceous era where dinosaurs existed.

An elite army of soldiers, including the heroine of the first game, Regina, are transported to the period to save the transported people and bring back the date of the experiment. However, immediately in a technically impressive CGI scene, the entire army is attacked by a horde of dinosaurs, leaving only Regina and two new characters, Dylan and a surfer cowboy dude who is only memorable by how many cliches he embodies.

Inexplicably, the characters split up often, causing you to alternate between controlling Regina and Dylan as you go through the mission of finding survivors and coming back to your own time. As expected from a Capcom game from that era, the dialogue is hilariously bad, if more competent than in earlier games. Which is charming in a B-Movie kind of way.

Yet, I find the actual story and overarching story a little interesting. An entire society was transported to an era where they needed to deal with weirdly aggressive lizards, and you see the remnants of that struggle to a degree while uncovering some interesting ramifications of the time travel shenanigans.

"Come for more, huh... You one-eyed menace!!"

The first Dino Crisis game copied the Resident Evil formula almost exactly. As such, you were encouraged to avoid fighting the dinosaurs to conserve ammo, and it felt like a lesser Resident Evil game.

Dino Crisis 2 completely upends the formula, somehow creating an Action game within the same engine. Characters still have tank control, but their movement is faster and more fluid. Gunplay is faster, without any need to worry about ammo, and that's the only way to deal with hordes of dinosaurs that will attack you.

Seriously, dinosaurs come in a nearly endless supply, so much that there is a combo system of killing them rapidly without being hit. There is a system of experience points (EXP) that can be earned by performing higher combos and not getting hit within an area.

Areas are a bunch of Resident Evil like corridors with fixed camera angles that are connected to each other without any loading zones. This allows the dinosaurs to chase you as you span, and is a central reason why the game mechanically works. You are actually being actively chased by the enemy. At least, you are being chased when some enemies don't randomly spawn at the border of screen transitions (which can get annoying when it breaks your combs)

It is difficult to accurately state how good the action gameplay feels; I can only say that it feels like a proper arcade system. Each character has different weapons, with Dylan focusing on single-shot power while Regina used more rapid-fire weapons, and the battles against both hordes of raptors as well as the bigger dinosaurs (especially the Allosaurus) are really fun and satisfying.

"Okay, we will have to look for something in this world in order to get us back to our original time"

When you are not shooting dinosaurs, you are usually running from one area to another looking for a key card or a  key person. Unlike the first game, there aren't many puzzles to shake things up or information to gather from the environment. You basically go from point A to B, fighting dinosaurs along the way, and buying ammunition and items in save points. Whatever information you gather from the environment is just there to give context (you can find logs and dino files to read).

Instead of puzzles, the game shakes things up with different kinds of action. For example, there are one-off mini-games where you are in a first-person Rail Gun game, one time you control a tank, and other situations that shake up the regular action of the game.

While none of these elements add greatly to the game's already excellent gameplay mechanics, they do help keep things fresh and are surprisingly decent additions to an already solid package.

One rather extensive section is an interesting underwater section that is surprisingly not too bad. Thanks to a jet button, it introduces a verticality that works really well, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. It even has one cool boss battle against an enemy that was pitifully weak above water but is suddenly extremely dangerous under it.

Speaking of boss battles, there are several of them here, and they are mostly fun even if most are a bit too easy. In fact, the game is a bit too easy in general, with only one situation in the last boss battle that I think is unfairly hard.

"I knew it would all come down to this. There's no way humans and dinosaurs could ever coexist"

One of the major advancements made in the first Dino Crisis was the deployment of fully polygonal graphics for both the characters and the environment. It taxed the console's memory, which perhaps explains the limited size of rooms and corridors, and didn't look particularly interesting.

Dino Crisis 2 goes back to Caomco's use of pre-rendered 2D background, which works much better. Depicting the lush jungle environments of the period, as well as wreck of base overgrown by said jungle, these backgrounds are beautiful and effective at creating the atmosphere of the game. Somehow, that also allows the polygonal characters, both the low-res main heroes and the detailed dinosaurs, to pop out much better. They actually look quite decent.

Of course, this does mean that the camera angles for each screen are fixed (like in a Resident Evil game), but that was true of the first game as well. Anyways, this quick of this type of game is something you can get used to and is helped by having an auto-aim function.

Special mention to the CGI scenes, which are some of the best of their time. The in-game scenes are also really good, but sometimes, the slow-motion effect is a tad overdone to the determinant of the scenes.

Something else that helps the atmosphere is the ambient soundtrack and immersive sound effects of both jungle and beasts. There is extensive use of music with natural sounds, which swells into epic or tense tunes at the right moments, including a really good credits song.

One interesting element regarding sound is that it helps to listen to the sound effects to figure out the number of dinosaurs that spawned and their relative location, which helps alleviate the enemy spawning issue I mentioned earlier.

In Conclusion:

Now I understand why my 13-year-old cousin was so addicted to this game, which is as fun to play as is interesting to look at and watch. This brings me back to the conclusion of the story. After beating the game, he still wanted to play it and finish it in less time, which he did several times.

This culminated in an all-nighter just before school started and even missing the first day of school. When his mother knew about that, she threw the PS1 (I remember that it was the small white one) down the stairs. I distinctly remember coming into their house just as the console hit the ground.

To my knowledge, my cousin (who grew up to be a normal person) rarely if ever played video games after this. In that case, he did sign off the hobby with one hell of a game.

Final: 9/10

Pros:
  • An interesting background story and some charming B-Movies stuff.
  • The Arcade-Action gameplay is very good and engaging.
  • A good weapon variety, and a fun combo system.
  • Several sections shake up the gameplay formula.
  • Replayable due to how snappy and fun the combat is.
  • The pre-rendered backgrounds are lush and suitable.
  • Good atmospheric sounds and sights.


Cons:
  • No matter how you slice it, the dialogue and voice acting is cheesy and awkward.
  • Sometimes enemies spawn unfairly in screen transitions.
  • Can be considered too easy most of the time.


"Tips"
1- Learn to utilize the map and make sense of the directions, it is much improved from the first game and pretty detailed.
2- Enable step commands, which allow you to use Triangle to jump backward or sideways to dodge enemy attacks.
3- Taking no damage in any area is the best way, along with chaining combos, to rack up a lot of exp.
4- Be careful standing next to the level boundaries, because raptors can jump at any second.
5- There is never a need to buy recovery items since there should be more than enough for your use.
6- You can find files containing information about the world by searching cabinets, thrown-around files, and computer screens.
7- Regina's dual gun may look weak, but it is very good at handling multiple enemies.
8- Flying dinosaurs are annoying to deal with without Regina's rapid-fire weapons.
9- You will need to buy the strong weapon in the underwater section to proceed, it is not expensive so you shouldn't have any issues there.


"Next Game"

When I played the first Dino Crisis game, I was skeptical if it was worth having his mother break the console over it for my cousin. While Dino Crisis 2 may not be so fun that it is worth breaking a console for, it did justify why he became so addicted to it in the first place.

I am not sure if the #42 game, Valkyrie Profile, would be as addicting, but I am sure it's going to be a lot of fun. This is a cult-favorite Action-RPG that people still remember fondly today, and I am sure I am going to like it. It's only a question of how much?

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Jun 07, 2022 7:13 pm

#42

Game: Valkyrie Profile:-
Year: 1999, 2000.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Enix.
Developer: Tri-Ace.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 196742-valkyrie-profile-playstation-front-cover

Valkyrie Profile is just the type of game that is typical of the many hidden gems in the PS1 library. Experimental in every way, both trying to expand the genres before it and forge its own path, it ends up becoming an entirely unique game.

Not all of those experimental games succeeded, but Valkyrie Profile pulls it off extremely well. It's a game with unique and engaging gameplay, brilliant graphics and music, and a pretty good story and characters. Rarely putting a foot wrong, it fully justifies its reputation as a cult-favorite title.

"Lenneth the Valkyrie. I would not summon you, the greatest of the three Goddesses who govern destiny, without good cause. The head of Mimir told me that Ragnarok, the end of the world is drawing near"

As you may guess from the game's name, the story of Valkyrie Profile is heavily inspired by Norse mythology, with the Valkyrie, Lenneth, being your main character. At the start of the game, Lenneth is informed by the leader of the Aesir Gods, Odin, of the impending war of Ragnarok. She is then tasked by him to visit the human realm and collect the souls of dead warriors to recruit for the war.

Collecting these warriors, called Einherjars, and then training them in dungeons is the crux of this game. Each Einherjar starts with their own story, which naturally involves their tragic death, and then they join your crew as playable characters. There are about 24 characters to recruit, each with a widely different personality and story that is terrific on its own.

Unfortunately, these characters are then rarely involved with the bigger narrative, and in fact, have little to say after their initial reveal. I feel that there should have been more story sequences that involved more characters, which could have been sacrificed thanks to the sheer number of characters.

Thankfully, thanks to the excellent sprite work, character design, and voice work, each character perfectly showcases their personality in battle. For example, Kashel's arrogance is perfectly captured by his battle pose and quotes, while Jayle is clearly a more elegant knight than most, fitting her personality.

Initially, these micro-stories, both of the characters and the dungeons you go through, may seem like the only story the game has to offer, a fact that may feel more substantial if you didn't watch the optional prologue on the title screen (seriously). In that prologue, you learn of Lenneth's origin, which comes into play in optional story segments that are needed to unlock the true ending.

Only in the last two chapters does the story resolve into a cohesive whole, but I didn't feel disappointed by that. Actually, I found the central theme of the end-game to have been ever-present throughout the game, with how much care and compassion Lenneth started to show to the souls she recruited.

Still, it would have been great if the many interesting characters had more to say.

"That is your power. The power to hear the sorrow, anger, and hopes of humans near death. The power to hear their souls cry out"

In line with her job in the human world, Lenneth's task is very clear. Find the souls of dead and worthy warriors to recruit, train them in battle, and then send them to Valhalla in preparation for Ragnarok. The game is divided into eight chapters, each with 20-28 time periods to do what you need.

Typically, you start the chapter uncovering the locations of dungeons and recruitable characters (spending periods) before heading off to recruit and then train. The game has multiple difficulty levels, with more periods but harder conditions for the higher difficulty settings. I think that you should go for Normal at least since you otherwise don't have access to some characters and the true ending.

Anyways, at this stage, all you are doing is advancing text boxes, and maybe fiddling with menus. The true gameplay starts once you enter a dungeon. Here, you will notice one of the game's most defining features.

It's all in a 2D plane.

Yes, the dungeon design, and indeed the entire game's presentation, are laid out like an action platformer. You can fully control Lenneth as if in a particularly stiff Castlevania game, except that you go into another screen for a fight when attacking enemies, which I will expand on later. Everything besides battle is handled like a basic platforming game.

You have access to crystal mechanics, which can create platforms as well as do various other things (like freeze objects). Using this one skill, as well as a generous jump distance, you will traverse dungeons of increasing complexity.

From a purely technical perspective, the game's platforming is merely passable, but the dungeon designs are varied and quite fun if a bit confusing. It's a unique take for any RPG, but it works well thanks to the beautiful sprite work and background art.

However, one egregious mistake is that in most dungeons, you are required to track back to the entrance once you defeat the final boss and in effect complete the dungeon.

"In this line of work, I know there are times when you have to just grit your teeth and face death! But, that doesn't mean you should throw your life away"

While its unique take on dungeon traversal is refreshing, Valkyrie Profile only truly stretches its wings once you get into battles, which are a unique mosh of Action RPG and fighting game ideas. You control a party of four, with each character assigned to a different face button. By pressing the face buttons, you are ordering the corresponding characters to attacks, and your timing is the difference between whiffing your attacks or building a combo that obliterates your foes.

Characters come into two flavors: mages that are almost all interchangeable, and melee/ranged characters that each have a unique way of attacking and building a combo. For instance, Arngrim, one of the first characters you get, has a large sword that hits hard but does little to build a combo or launch an enemy to the air. In contrast, Jayle hits multiple times with her rapier and has a nice launching maneuver.

Doing an effective combo not only increases your damage potential but also knocks out crystals that can increase your energy or exp. Also, it builds up a meter to unleash Super Attacks. These attacks, called Purify Wierd Soul attacks (?) are flashy spectacles that do a lot of damage and can be chained to each other.

However, no matter how good you are at combos, you won't do much damage if you are party is not leveled up or equipped properly. Here, you must look at what is honestly a little bit overwhelming menu management. With hundreds of items, dozens of skills, and multiple characters, it is a bit difficult to figure out how to best upgrade your characters.

Later, it becomes obvious that you get more skill points than you can effectively use, and you will know which skills to prioritize. Also, you should be able to find good weapons to use in dungeons, and will soon learn to buy the equipment you need. It's intimidating at first, but you should eventually get the hang of it even if you don't fully grasp it.

Once you level up characters, including improving their best traits and increasing their heroism value, you are expected to transfer at least some characters back to Valhalla. This decision will ensure your party keeps getting refreshed (since it forces you to train other characters) and is not honestly as hard as I thought it would be.

"To my side my noble Einherjar"

Valkyria Profile has some of the best sprite work and 2D background art on the PS1. That should be enough qualifier to suggest that it is still one of the best-looking PS1 games, one that didn't age one bit.

The playable characters are the highlight of the bunch, and I already described how their animations, stances, and overall design suggest much more character than they ever convey in-game. This is doubly true when you consider the absolutely gorgeous portraits for each character, which both have a unique style that I didn't find anywhere else, and conveys so much about each character.

Initially, it seemed like the world's design is similarly rich. However, the greyish color palette starts becoming more obvious, and other than some brilliant locations everywhere else blends a little bit too much. The same can be said about the relative scarcity of enemy designs.

Another aspect that provides as much personality as the graphics is the voice acting (when it's there), which is surprisingly good. In a way, it also helps convey the personality of the Einherjar in the absence of much story dialogue.

What's never absent is Motoi Sakuraba's great soundtrack, which surely ranks among his best. Mysterious and haunting tunes such as "Requiem to a Predicament" and "Night to the Twilight of Everything" provides a prevailing mood that is specific to the game.

It is then doubly amazing when Sakuraba brings in one of his rapidly changing battle tracks to the mix, with both the main battle and boss battle tracks being absolute winners. Many people discount Sakuraba's work due to the similarities between his Tales albums, but his talents can't be ignored here.

In Conclusion:

As far as cult favorites go, I doubt many games would give as convincing and strong an argument for the title as Valkria Profile. This is one of the most unique and ambitious JRPGs on the PS1, and it frankly deserves much more attention than it initially got.

With excellent graphics and great sound, a bloody good and unique battle system as well as a unique mature story and setting, it is just a damn good game. It's a testament to how good this game is that I powered through without getting much bored even when I started feeling that it was a little longer than it should. Only now, at the end of the review, do I remember a feeling of impatience as the game extended for a chapter or two more than it should have.

Regardless, I am extremely glad that I finally played this game, and I hope we continue to see more of the series as I hope the latest releases succeed in some way.

Final: 8/10

Pros:
  • An interesting world and premise.
  • Many interesting characters with great backstories.
  • The character's personalities are perfectly showcased through visual and audio design.
  • Time limit creates an interesting tension.
  • Intresting and unique take on RPG dungeons.
  • Incredibly unique and engaging battle system.
  • Most characters have a varied way of attacking that shakes things up.
  • Great Sprite work and animation.
  • Excellent Character art.
  • Great soundtrack.


Cons:
  • Once recruited, the characters have little story impact.
  • No overarching story until the end of the game.
  • Time limits may mean you never know if you did all you needed to do.
  • After finishing most dungeons, you are required to track back to the entrance (WTF).
  • Complicated and labyrinthian upgrade and preparation system.
  • Limited color palette and repetitive enemy designs.
  • The game is a little longer than it should be.


"Tips"
1- Choose normal difficulty at least, don't choose easy or you unlock yourself from the true ending and many interesting dungeons and characters.
2- At the end of each dungeon, there are artifacts that you can either take or donate to Odin. Taking too many artifacts can lose you the game, so be careful.
3- Unlike regular breakable weapons, breakable magic staffs only break if you use their Super Attack.
4- To avoid weapons breaking (which sounds like a bigger issue than it really is), defeat enemies in one turn (easier said than done).
5- Status altering magic, such as Sap Guard and Reinforce Might are extremely useful in the end game. You can easily change your mage's spells at the end if you need to.
6- Some types of weapons instantly kill some type of enemies, which is incredibly useful.
7- Combos not only build the special meter, they also knock out experience crystals and items.
8- Learning to use the properties of your ice crystal spell in platforming is essential in some later dungeons. For example, you can shoot a crystal twice to break it, which creates a small slowly falling platform that you can actually use for a short while.
9- Equipe status boosting items, such as Bracelet of Zoe, when leveling up for tremendous benefits.
10- Just check the internet for the best strategy to get the true ending.


"Next Game"

I expected to like Valkyrie Profile, after all, it's known as a solid PS1 RPG with excellent sprite work, but I didn't expect to like it as much as I did now. However, in the end, I think I docked it a point due to how long it felt to finish. This is probably going to be the highest 8 I give in the PS1.

Next on the list is a game that shouldn't take as much to beat, at least not if you don't count all three games as one. I am talking about the incredibly iconic Tomb Raider. If you check the Retro Sanctuary list, you will actually see Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation at #41. However, the Dreamcast version of that game is known to be vastly superior, so I am just going to play the first three PS1 Tomb Raider games instead.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Jun 18, 2022 9:55 am

#41(S1)

Game: Tomb Raider:-
Year: 1996.
Genre: 3D Action-Platformer Adventure.
Publisher: Eidos Interactive.
Developer: Core Design


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 16220-tomb-raider-playstation-front-cover

There is no doubt that the first Tomb Raider is an absolutely iconic game. Not only was it a pioneering title at the start of the 3D era, but it also introduced the iconic character of Lara Croft, one of gaming's most famous leading ladies.

However, like many trailblazing games of that era, time wasn't kind to it, and I found playing it today to be excruciatingly stiff and boring. This iconic game is best left in museums along with the artifacts Lara casually raids.

"There's this little trinket. An age-old artifact of mystical power buried in the unfound tomb of Qualapec"

Typical to games of the era, there is little to the game's story other than introducing the setting. Lara Croft is a wealthy English adventurer that enjoys nothing more than a hobbyist, and potentially destructive, archeological adventures. Not too dissimilar to a certain Indian Jones, but with more sass, shorter shorts, and a prominent bust.

Other than that, there is a vague story about powerful artifacts that you are trying to find before a certain unethical rival, and a lot of action scenes detailing how much of an action hero Lara is. These scenes do a good job at showcasing both Lara's character, and her many, err assets.

In-game, I feel that the team did their best with the technology of the time in creating unique tombs and place to discover, but they are not particularly impressive today. For comparison, many games featuring ancient ruins on the SNES crafted better worlds with 2D drawings and sprites.

"I'm sorry. I only play for sport"

Without much of a story, a game like this one depends entirely on its gameplay. In theory, exploring tombs, jumping around to avoid dangers and cross massive chasms, and fighting monsters with dual guns should be a fun experience, and I don't doubt that it once was. However, 3D gameplay has advanced drastically since that time, and I think the many flaws of this game can no longer be tolerated.

To put it simply, Lara's movements are stiff at best and cadaveric most of the time. Without analog controls, you are forced to use some of the more obtuse tank controls in a 3D game. However, unlike with slower-paced titles like Resident Evil, you are expected to be fast and precise with your movements here.

This becomes obvious with the jumping system, where distances, jumping arcs, and timings need to perfect for Lara to grab a ledge with no level of adjustments made by the game. Otherwise, the idiot hits the wall, or the ledge, or the roof and gives off that annoying grunt sound. A sound you are expected to hear over and over again.

Of course, the nightmare doesn't stop with that. No, you must also contend with a poor camera and an even poorer fighting system. Get this scenario. You are in a square pool of water and a stupid bear is in the room. In order to fight the bear, you need to emerge from the pool at the opposite ledge and shoot at it. However, thanks to the bear's flawless tracking accuracy and speed and Lara's slow emerging speed, you are immediately mauled by the bear as you get out of the water.

At least the swimming mechanics are fine. This is the first game I played where the water mechanics are better than the ones on land.

"Vast mountains ranges to cover. Sheer walls of ice. Rocky crags and savage winds"

As one of the first 3D games in the market, Tomb Raider is both impressive and lackluster. It's impressive from a historical point of view, but is extremely barren and poorly designed even to the standards of the time. At least when it comes to the environment, since Lara's character model is pretty decent.

On the other hand, the CGI cut-scenes are really solid, with good scene direction, character acting work, and decent graphics. They are not along with the best on the PS1 but showcase the title's pioneering work in that direction.

Musically, the game is silent most of the time but plays some great music when the situation calls for it. Normally, that should happen more often as you advance through the stage, but thanks to the stiff gameplay, only silence would greet Lara's grunts of failure.

A special mention should be given to Lara's voice though, which is ironically haughty (besides those grunts) and builds the character even more so than the words themselves.

In Conclusion:

As I prefaced this review at the beginning, there is no doubting this game's iconic legacy, and after a long while, I remember my uncle mastered the game's stiff controls and was able to have Lara move semi-fluidly for a moment. That is until he screamed with rage at an unexpected camera shift that had her tumbling to her doom.

This is just a game that didn't age well, and consequently is no longer fun to play.

Final: 4/10

Pros:

  • Iconic character.
  • Expressive cut-scenes.
  • Very good underwater mechanics.
  • Very good CGI scenes.


Cons:

  • Empty and lifeless world.
  • Stiff movements make puzzle-solving excruciating.
  • Poor platforming mechanics.
  • Poor camera design.
  • Terrible fighting gameplay.
  • Lifeless and barren world.


"Tips"
1- Make sure to play the tutorial level in Lara's Mansion to learn the controls.
2- Pull out your weapons and randomly shoot whenever you go into a new area.
3- Press "Circle" for a 180 degree.
4- Jump and hit the grab button always.

"Next Game"

I half expected the first Tomb Raider to age like milk, as has happened with many of its 3D peers.

What I am now afraid of, given the rapid release of the second and third Tomb Raider games, is that no extensive improvements were made to this franchise. Oh well, if the next two games in the franchise which I should review recycled much from the first game, then I will probably recycle much from this review as well.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Jul 01, 2022 1:00 pm

#41(S2)

Game: Tomb Raider II:-
Year: 1997.
Genre: 3D Action-Platformer Adventure.
Publisher: Eidos Interactive.
Developer: Core Design


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 6753-tomb-raider-ii-playstation-front-cover

If you notice in the game's cover art, its titled Tomb Raider II: Starring Lara Croft. At this stage, it wasclear that the character and game became iconic in the gaming landscape, and that was enforced by an extensive and extremely effective ad campaign.

As I explored in my review of the first game, despite some revolutionary advancements, I don't think the firstgame was very good to begin with, and is certainly intolerble now. While the sequel improved on every aspect of the game, I think the shortned development time (to catch the hype train of the original) and the flawed basis of gameplay means this is still not a very fun game to play.

"Pardon me if that was just your way of trying the doors for me"

The story this time is about Lara stumbling into a conspiracy regarding an ancient and powerful artificat, a Tibetan dagger with the power of dragons, pursued by an Italian occultist organization. While initially short in tension, the story is explored effectively through some good PS1-era cutscenes.

With good Voice Acting, and effective scene direction, it does feel like a particularly good Indiana Jones rip-off plot, and the charisma of Lara in the leading role might have been novel enough to pull it off. Also, thanks to the globe-trotting nature of this adventure, this allows a decent level of environmental storytelling through the levels themselves, even if I felt that wasn't capitalized on enough.

One things that was missing in both games is any sort of story elements in the levels themselves. No lore to discover, conversations to eavesdrop on, and no conversations with another living creature other than in cutscenes.

It is extremely limited when compared to what other action games were doing at the time, like Resident Evil and Tenchu, and is a criminal waste of the character. In general, I feel that the game was extremely comfortable with the reputation of Lara Croft that they never felt the need to have any compelling story around her.

"Blood or answers. I have no preference, he should spill a bit of both"

Carrying on with the same formula of the first game, this is basically a 3D Action-Platformer with occasional puzzle solving. It employs much of the same movements and actions of the original, but improves slightly on every aspect.

Like I said before, when the underwater mechanics are the most fluid and satesfying in the game, then the rest of the game has significant issues.

Simply put, Lara is still stiff to move. Jumping feel awkward, difficult to adjust, and almost unresponsive. She moves in jerking motions, making it difficult to align her with key objects. For that, you will need to use slow movement buttons to slowly nudge her into position. This makes moving around an extreme pain.

All of this is annoying without anyone shooting at you, which when it happens, further degrades the experience. Even though you now have more weapon options, auto-locking into enemies and having little or awkward evasive or defensive options isn't fun. That's especially the case when the enemy's pathfinding ignores lines of site and there is little opportunity for stealth.

The majority of the game has you go into places, trying to figure out how to find keys or move things into place, and then slowly move and jump around to reach the next destination. Vehicles in a couple of levels shake things up slightly, as does the environment.

However, when the core mechanics of the gameplay are simply not fun, then no amount of variety can make up for that.

"Don't you think you've see enough?"

Of the aspects that gained a lift0up, none were as obvious as the game's graphics. Simply, everything looks much nicer and more detailed than it did before. Levels are more varied and better textured, and Lara's model received an upgrade. Its ironic to consider that her hair was an important selling point in 1997 just as Square thought it was with the reboot in 2013.

I already said the cutscenes did a good job, especially when you consider that they are almost exclusively in-engine scenes. Obviously, the CGI scenes looked better, but the game didn't need to rely on them as much.

There is an aspect in graphics that may have been impressive in the past but is actually poorly executed was the lighting system. Many areas in the game were too dark, requiring you to activate a flare to light them up. Unfortuanntely, the light didn't travel far enough, creating areas of darkness that made the game even more unpleasant to play.

One thing that was always pleasant to here is the soundtrack. Again, it was minimalistic in its usage, only kicking in when you are about to progress or as you discover the solution. The tracks are really good, and the fact that hearing them meant you are about to finish an rea made them even better to hear.

In Conclusion:

As the second most successful PS1 game in the UK, Tomb Raider II proves that iconography, brand recognition, and recognizable characterization is a more important predictor of success than quality. That's not to say that this game was as bad to play then as it is now, but that its flaws were still tolerated and contemporary similar games were made better.

Still, none of those games had the fame and appeal of Lara Croft, and that went a long way to seperate this game from the rest of the bunch.

At least in that time, Lara Croft's reputation did make a difference.

Final: 5/10

Pros:

  • Iconic character.
  • Expressive cut-scenes.
  • Varied world design.
  • Actually really good character model.


Cons:

  • Empty and lifeless world.
  • Stiff movements make puzzle-solving excruciating.
  • Poor platforming mechanics.
  • Poor camera design.
  • Terrible fighting gameplay.
  • Lighting sucks.


"Tips"
1- Make sure to play the tutorial level in Lara's Mansion to learn the controls.
2- Pull out your weapons and randomly shoot whenever you go into a new area.
3- Press "Circle" for a 180 degree.
4- Jump and hit the grab button always.
5- Use the R2 button to slowly strafe sideways.
6- Some keys are held by enemies, so you will need to kill to advance.
7- This means that fleeing from enemies is actually a bad idea, no matter how shit the gameplay is.

"Next Game"

I expected Tomb Raider II to improve on its predecessor, but not by much, and that's what happened.

Now, I actually think that Eidos were just milking the franchise at this points, and that the third game wouldn't advance the formula or mechanics at all. I am not sure if I should review it, but I will just ot be thorough with this iconic PS1 franchise. Except, I really don't think it deserves this level of respect at all.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Thu Sep 22, 2022 1:37 pm

#A40(S)

Game: Tales of Destiny:-
Year: 1997, 1998.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Namco.
Developer: Wolf Team (Namco).


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 File:Todbox

The Tales JRPG series is nowadays synonymous with comfort food; a satisfying meal that is neither complex nor memorable. Full to the brim with anime archetypes and genre cliches, it is honestly difficult to pick the different games apart.

It is then hard to imagine a time when the very things the series is known for were actually incredible innovations to the genre. The unabashed anime-ness of the series was established in the first game on the SNES, where an Anime cut-scene and vocal track inexplicably fit into the cartridge. With the second game, Tales of Destiny, the series established much of its traditions and firmly entrenched itself into becoming an anime-videogame, for better or worse.

"History books say that 6 Swordians saved our world in the ancient Aeth'er Wars"

The story begins with the hero, Stahn Aileron, stowed away on a flying dragon ship. Thanks to his heavy sleeping, which becomes a running gag throughout the game, he is found by a couple of guards just before the ship is attacked by monsters. In the middle of that confusion, Stahn finds a sentient sword, called Dymos, that forms a pact with him and helps him survive the attack. This sword, we later learn, is part of an exclusive race named, rather originally, Swordians that are awakened when the world is in trouble.

Soon, the pure-hearted hero finds himself indebted to a couple of adventurers and then hoisted to stop a mad priest from using a weapon of mass destruction to rule the world. Unsurprisingly for a Tales game, but this actually originated in this game, the story gets more complicated than that. It originates the three-act structure that the rest of the games follow closely.

What surprised me, given my ambivalence towards the plot of most games in the series, is how engaged I was with this one. Since the story moved at a rapid pace, did not bother to over-explain its concepts, and maintained some room for interpretation, it kept me engaged throughout.

Even though the Western release missed the trademark "skits" the series is known for, it still managed to effectively convey the personality of your party. That's not only due to the extensive dialogue, but also thanks to the clever use of emotional bubbles and clever sprite animations during scenes. Sweat drops, frustration clouds, tears of laughter, and other stock anime-style emotional cues are library used throughout the game, and that highlights the comedic aspects of the story and characters.

Overall, Tales of Destiny tells a straightforward story filled with big dramatic moments as well as smaller but no less important character moments. It doesn't kill its momentum by over-explaining things and is less cringy than many of its predecessors' thanks mostly to its brevity. Also, it should be mentioned, how the world keeps changing with events in the story, and that affects the dialogue and micro-stories of NPCs around the game's world, and that was extremely progressive for the era.

"Ah, I see we have some rodents here. I didn't think you would be able to follow us this far"

Ironically, while I am usually a big fan of the Tales battle system even if I dislike the story, it's the opposite here. That's because this is a very early version of the action-based Linear Motion Battle System. For those unfamiliar with combat in the Tales series, it's basically a real-time input system that is closer to fighting games than to Turn-Based RPGs.

You move your character and can freely attack and use special moves, but you can also pause the screen and issue commands to the rest of the party or use spells. That's all present in this game, but it's relatively sluggish. Stahn's movement is slow and erratic, and the combo potential of moves is very low. Also, with only four special moves mapped to shortcuts, it massively reduces your in-battle options.

Worse yet is that you can only directly control Stahn in your party unless you go through massive loopholes. That reduces the variety in gameplay that I usually love with this series. Of course, using the multiplayer option, you can control other characters, but that never was my playstyle with these games.

Another weakness of the system is the customization aspect, which is limited to buying the best equipment in every town you go to. That's fine if not for the fact that most of the weapons you find are useless. That's because there is no reason not to equip each character with their "Swordian" of choice, as that's clearly the best option.

"Do you dare to stop the winds of change and the demons of destruction?!!"

Outside of battle, the main gameplay element in the game is dungeon and overworld exploration, which is unfortunately hampered by a rather high random encounter rate. Outside of the annoyance of random encounters, dungeons are basic enough for the most part, with puzzles shaking things up a bit.

However, in one part of the game, several dungeons follow each other with the same obnoxious design premise, and those were easily my least favorite part of the game. It felt like going through the same dungeon more than four times, which is egregiously bad.

As for overworld exploration, it suffers from having one of the ugliest world maps I have ever seen, coupled with extremely linear progression. To be fair, this wasn't the focus of the game, and the linear nature of the game gently guides you through many towns and locations that are extremely well-realized.

One aspect that the series is known for is its myriad of mini-games, which are available here, and are fun with non-essential distractions. Yet, these non-essential aspects of the game, including the many micro-stories you gather by talking to NPCs, give the world a lived-in dimension that is sometimes lacking in JRPGs.

"How can I be alright? I just got caught and beaten up like a punching bag!!"

Made in 1997 and featuring a spiky-haired blonde hero, Tales of Destiny naturally drew unfavorable comparisons with Square's seminal Final Fantasy VII. One aspect that the old comparison clearly got wrong was any criticisms of the game's graphics since the sprite work of Tales of Destiny looks much better now than the polygonal monstrosities of many PS1 RPGs.

True, the game looks like it could run on the SNES, and it probably could. Except, it would be one of the prettiest and most detailed SNES games ever made. Graphically, it's extremely good 2D art for backgrounds, locations, special effects, and there is a lot of detail in the construction of rooms and houses.

However, the characters themselves are not ideal. Portraits are relegated to the status screen, and the design of each character is a chubby sprite in both the world and battles. Its not as detailed or masterful as Breath of Fire, Suikoden, or Valkyrie Profile. Instead, it aims for a feeling closer to the SNES classics, which is fairly acceptable.

Musically, the soundtrack is made by series stalwarts Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura, and it's easy to say that this is not Sakuraba's best work on the PS1. While there are really good tracks such as the aptly named "Despair" and the more upbeat "Memories Return", the majority of the tracks are merely functional. The main battle theme gets boring after a while and doesn't change much, and the dungeon themes fail to stand out most of the time.

One thing that is missing from the game is the Voice Acting in the "skits", which was not translated into the English localization. Yet, remnants of the voice acting remain in the Japanese battle chants and special attack shouts, which coupled with some good sound effects make for exciting background noise.

In Conclusion:

Despite its nice story and cast of characters, I must admit that I had to force myself to finish Tales of Destiny past the halfway point. With the story and exploration slowing down, the game's rather mundane gameplay was forced to carry its weight, and it failed to do so.

With merely nice sprite-work and functional music, the game's production design wasn't doing any of the heavy lifting wither. Instead, the residual charm of the story and characters rushed me through, but I am not sure if that's going to be the same with everyone.

At least the first act was great.

Final: 6/10

Pros:
  • A rather good and precise story.
  • A nice cast of characters.
  • Effective humor through animation and speech bubbles.
  • Some nice puzzles in dungeons.
  • NPCs' micro-stories are great.
  • Sprite graphics didn't age and places are designed really well.
  • Some good music tracks.


Cons:
  • Missing the series's trademark "skits".
  • No option to change player character.
  • Little customization options.
  • A very basic version of the Action combat system.
  • High random encounter rate.
  • Many repetitive dungeon designs.
  • Linear progression and exploration.
  • Basic character design in both portrait and sprite work.
  • Mostly functional soundtrack.


"Tips"
1- Harbor warehouses contain an item once you solve a puzzle.
2- Never change your equipped weapon from your base "Swordian", except in one dungeon where the enemies absorb fire.
3- You can interact with various objects for color dialogue.
4- Enable the combo counter option for some extra EXP (once you get the valuable item allowing it).
5- You can put food in your backpack for some passive healing, but it's practically useless.
6- Talk to NPCs for some extra context and stories.
7- Never cast spells while under attack.
8- Have some special attacks that allow you to go behind enemies to involve more of your team with the attack.
9- VERY IMPORTANT: Visit Cyril before you start the scene in Heidelberg for a nice scene with Mary.
10- Before battling Lydon, use all your gold to buy the stuff you can sell later.


"Next Game"

Despite my relatively low score, I still liked Tales of Destiny and see why it's remembered so fondly. It has its flaws, but it has the bones of something better.

Here is hoping that Tales of Destiny II, which actually is called Tales of Eternia, is the successor that first improved the franchise's gameplay.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Vibe Mon Oct 03, 2022 12:17 pm

Proud

This thread makes me happy
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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Nov 08, 2022 5:18 pm

#A40

Game: Tales of Destiny II (Eternia):-
Year: 2000, 2001.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Namco.
Developer: Wolf Team (Namco).


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 3 Image

Being the third game in the series, but only the second game released in the West after Tales of Destiny, this game was mistakingly branded with Tales of Destiny II moniker as to attract fans of the first PS1 Tales game. This decision would come to bite Namco later when they released the actual sequel to Tales of Destiny on the PS2, which they just called Tales of Destiny 2, using Arabic instead of Roman numerals. This brief history lesson is just a preamble to the actual review and an explanation as to why I am just going to call the game Tales of Eternia of ToE from now on.

One thing the original localization title made clear is that this game is a sequel to the first, and sequels, especially in the video game space, do not only mean a continuation of a story. Indeed, more often than not, sequels constitute an evolution in mechanics and presentation, which is what Tales of Eternia clearly demonstrates.

Here, we see the Tales series maturing in style and mechanics to the treasured JRPG franchise we know and love today, but that's not all that it represents. Despite some minor flaws and shortcomings, this game has the charm to stand tall alongside its more accomplished peers

"The Grand Fall is when Celestia and Inferia come close together... and then... BOOM!!"

The story of several Tales games (and indeed many JRPGs) is centered around the conflict between two worlds, and ToE is a progenitor of that trope. When Reid's quiet and boring life is disturbed by the emergence of a mysterious stranger, his extremely nice and capable childhood friend Farah convinces him to help the troubled stranger.

Obviously, the stranger is from a different world, and at first, the party cannot talk to her due to the language difference, only being able to figure out Meredy as her name. Soon, they are joined by another childhood friend, an obnoxious jerk named Keele, and the grand story reveals itself through the emergence of a literal "grand" catastrophe.

The world of Eternia is divided into two realms facing each other through a magical barrier of sorts, Celestia where Meredy is from, and Inferia where the beginning takes place. Due to some shenanigans happening in Celestia, the two worlds are set to collide in an event defined as "the grand fall".

Most of the story consists of the party's attempts at collecting the support of the world's elemental spirits, maneuvering the political obstacles of the xenophobic ruling class, and resolving minor issues in the places they visit. The stakes get higher as the story develops, and even the ultimate bad guys receive some dimensions to them (albeit too late to be of much substance), but that's not the story's main strength.

Indeed, like with the many Tales games after it, the strength of the story is in its characters, and that's even more pronounced because ToE allows its characters to be jerks sometimes. Both Reid and Keele undergo believable growth through the journey, but Farah shines as an infectious, extremely capable, and occasionally flawed moral core to the party.

Unfortunately, the character dialogue "skits" the series is known for weren't localized for the PS1 version, which is a shame considering the solid voice acting throughout the games (except for a few side characters). You bet, even Meredy's voice actor, which could have been grating with an intentionally foreign-sounding accent was actually mostly well-done and solid throughout, which is just a pleasant surprise considering the game's development era.

"There are people I love that live in this world. I'm not letting them die!"

For a series that is frequently lauded due to its Action RPG battle mechanics (personally, I care more for the battles than the story in the latter game), the first PS1 game was a bit lacking on that front. In comparison, ToE takes great strides in improving the battle system, but it still falls short in some key areas.

Almost immediately, perhaps thanks to the larger and more realistically proportioned sprites, you feel a greater fluidity in how the characters move and attack. Yet, this extra fluidity to the movement doesn't prove useful until much later in the game when you unlock skills that can chain into each other seamlessly. Before that, there is a stunted feeling to the gameplay, especially when you control Farah who I feel doesn't start feeling good to control until the halfway point of the game.

Speaking of controlling other characters, here is where the game massively improves on its predecessor, by allowing you to control any of your character members. However, one of the franchise's core issues is presented here, which is solved differently (and with various degrees of success) in every game but is not solved at all here.

Simply put, it's not fun playing as anyone other than Reid or Farah (and only later with her). Playing as one of the two casters isn't much fun, and neither of the two extra characters is useful in any capacity regardless if controlled by the player or the computer.

So, here we have an improved battle system that still doesn't reach near the heights of its potential, and that is only marginally fun when playing as two out of six characters for the entire game. It's notable progress compared to Tales of Destiny but is far from ideal.

"Spreading lies all over town about the destruction of the world... Kneel before the King! And accept your death sentence"

Another thing that is far from ideal is the heavy linear progression of the game. Given the fact that you are supposed to collect a series of McGuffins, it would have been appreciated if there was some freedom in the order of doing so. Instead, you are going through a linear path, encountering story sequences, going into dungeons, and so on.

Since the game is nicely balanced and continuously moving forward, this is a minor complaint, especially since the latter part of the game gives you a sub and a GPS for you to find the locations based on given coordinates, offering an illusion of exploration.

Outside of dungeons and overworld exploration, there are multiple systems to engage with. First and foremost is the "spell fringe" system, which allows you to equip different elemental spirits to Keele and Meredy, hereby unlocking different spells depending on the combination. It's an engaging system in theory, but there is one hard combination you must follow (give Nurse to Meredy).

Second, there is a cooking system that is actually much improved from the food system in the previous game, and it allows you to quickly recover health and spell points after battle without spending much time in menus (if you refresh frequently with ingredients).

Lastly, as is traditional with games in the series, there are several mini-games to enjoy, and while none of them is quite deep or consequential, they do offer a nice break from the game's linear monotony.

"You Bet!"

Now, let's pivot to talk about the game's graphics and presentation. When talking about the game's battle system, I already suggested that the character sprites are bigger and more detailed than the chibi representation of characters in the first Tales of Destiny, and that alludes nicely to the graphical upgrade that happened to the sequel.

Thankfully, the game's graphics are all done in 2D sprites and backgrounds with little use of 3D models in the overworld. This allowed the art style to shine at the time, and to still look beautiful today. Many of the game's key locations have gorgeous backgrounds, which are complemented really well by the more detailed sprites of the game.

It helps that the art design has a unifying look to it, in both the art style and the world-building details. Houses look livable, with recognizable items to use, and cities look distinct with their own culture but still retain a throughline in design that unifies the look of the game.

Complimenting the in-game graphics are a couple of nicely done CGI cutscenes, which, along with the amount of voice acting in the game, explains the game having 3 CDs.

I already spoke about the solid VA work when talking about the game's story, so let's discuss the game's soundtrack as well which is done by series composers Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura. With the first game, I felt the soundtrack was promising in some areas, but lacking in its overall scope, and that's no different with this game. This soundtrack is a prime example of Sakuraba at his most basic.

The majority of dungeon and town themes are forgettable, and so were the main battle themes. Only in the latter stages of the game, where some usually throwaway march and/or rebel group songs play did I hear anything memorable and cool. Considering the vastness of the soundtrack, it's a disappointment that it had so few memorable songs in it.

In Conclusion:

Tales of Eternia (or Tales of Destiny II if you prefer) isn't only a massive upgrade over the first PS1 Tales game, but a very good game on its own right. It has a nice and engaging story that is headed by a very good cast of characters, with Farah being a special highlight in both story (and later) and combat.

It helps that the story is being told through surprisingly good voice acting, and is supported by the solid Action RPG gameplay the series will be known for in the future.

Thanks to its great 2D art and sprites, it still looks great today, with the rough but limited 3D polygons adding to its charms rather than subtracting from the overall presentation. It will even allow you to forgive the rather disappointing soundtrack.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • A rather good and precise story.
  • A nice cast of characters, especially Farah.
  • Surpsisingly good voice acting.
  • Decent Action RPG Battle System when using Reid or Farah.
  • Cooking system is great.
  • The exploration element with the submarine is nice.
  • Very good sprite work.
  • Very good world design with beautiful backgrounds.


Cons:

  • Missing the series's trademark "skits".
  • Using any character other than Reid or Farah isn't much fun.
  • Little customization options.
  • Linear progression and exploration.
  • Dissapointing soundtrack.


"Tips"
1- Grab the collector's book from the village's elder at the beginning of the game.
2- You can interact with objects to uncover funny skits and get some detail on the world.
3- To get cooking recipes, interact with out-of-place objects in rooms, which are really quite obvious most of the time. This will uncover the hiding Master Chef.
4- There are some secret areas on the world map, which are mostly obvious to figure out.
5- Cooking is really useful throughout the game.
6- You can assign the shoulder buttons for spell usage by other characters, which you should utilize for healing spells.
7- On the world map, you can press Square to open the travel menu, which gives you hints about what to do next among other things.
8- To unlock Chat as a party member, talk to her to join inside the ship.
9- In the final sections of the game, use the Seyfert Key in the valuables menu for a beacon to show you the correct way.


"Next Game"

After enjoying Tales of Destiny but recognizing its clear flaws, I hoped its sequel on the PS1 improved on it, and that was the case with Tales of Eternia. It would have actually been more impressive to me back then than the Tales series's current status with me these days.

The next game I am reviewing is a Squaresoft cult classic,Brave Fencer Musashi. I don't know what to expect from the game. However, knowing Square's pedigree in that era, I am confident its at least going to be a really interesting game.

Stay Tuned
Lord Spencer
Lord Spencer
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