The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads

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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Feb 10, 2023 9:57 am

#A32

Game: C-12: Final Resistance:-
Year: 2001, 2002.
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 SCUS-94666-F-ALL

Released in the tail end of the PS's cycle, more than a year after the release of the PS2, C-12: Final Resistance was incredibly late to the party. Yet, being so late in its release may have been in its favor, as all the development secrets and tricks for the console were uncovered by then.

Unfortunately, despite taking advantage of vast collected knowledge in PS1 development, the game lacks the good application to make that knowledge count. It doesn't matter that the game may somehow be "technically" better than many other PS1 games before it because that expertise is in the service of a mediocre game at the end.

"We've been reduced to making our finest soldier a walking mutant... We don't stand a chance otherwise"

This "finest soldier" is Lieutenant Riley Vaughan, a man who has been "cybernetically" enhanced with alien technology to be able to combat the same aliens that are now ravishing earth. As the game's subtitle suggests, it's a desperate struggle, and each mission throws Vaughan from a bad situation to a worst one.

As PS1 stories go, this is neither offensively boring nor brilliant by any stretch. With some basic, competent, voice-acting and a clear forward thrust, it at least does the job of providing context to what you are doing. Yet,  while the plot may not be that boring, the world's design sure is.

Video Games are visual media, which is why the world's design can carry as much story weight as the actual writing and dialogue. Here, the world of C-12 is as boring as it can get. It's entirely indistinct with its greyish and brownish tones, and other than the striking cybernetic eye of the main character is devoid of any character itself.

Consequently, neither the game's story nor its world design does a good job of driving the player to play the game, leaving most of the responsibility on the shoulders of the gameplay.

"God knows we need all the help we can get right now"

Sadly, the gameplay's shoulders are not broad enough to hold the game aloft. Again, this is a case where we have largely competent gameplay that becomes a bit boring by design. Missions take place in similiar-looking levels with uninspiring environments, where Vaughan must complete a set of objectives within the level to progress forward.

In theory, each level is a kind of sandbox in which you fulfill the objectives, but the reality is much more linear than how it first appears. There are no optional objectives, and every area of the small map will need to be visited to complete the levels.

With first-person aiming capabilities and full camera movements, the shooting combat feels fine and is exceptional for the PS1. However, enemy designs are boring and repetitive, and the game doesn't do anything interesting for its combat to stand out.

Actually, the game does try to add in some environmental obstacles and puzzles to shake things up, but these are boring at best, and tedious most of the time. Take a mine-field you have to navigate as an example. You could only see the mines through your first-person cybernetic eye, which forces you to sop and start to recalibrate your movements labriously throughout the stupid exercise.

Again, we see excellent technical capabilities, especially regarding camera controls, in the service of basic and uninspiring gameplay.

"I'm not concerned for Vaughan. I'm confident he can take care of himself"

Finally, let's talk about the graphical abilities that are responsible for this boring and poorly designed world. Its obvious that at this stage in the console's life cycle that the polygonal graphics of C-12 is some of the console's best.

Yet, raw graphical power cannot compensate for poor art direction, and that's the case here. Even though this game has better graphical capabilities than the original Metal Gear Solid and all three Resident Evil games, its style is so boring that you will struggle to remember anything about it.

Other than the always-glowing eye of Luitenant Vaughan.

Similiarly, the music is indistincitve, with suitable action rhythms and environmental sounds playing at times, but without any track standing out in any way. The game does have some solid voice acting though.

In Conclusion:

C-12 was probably one of the final high profile releases on the PS1, and despite the technical experience it had going for it, the late release may have belied a lack of ambition in the title. This is obvious in how bland the game's world and combat feels.

Now that the game's tech has aged a bit, its design shortcomings are as obvious to see as the cybernetic eye in Vaughan's low-res face.

Final: 4/10

Pros:
  • Competent voice-acting
  • Great camera control options
  • Impressive graphics technically



Cons:
  • Forgettable story
  • Forgettable and indistinct world-building
  • Basic and boring gameplay structure
  • Combat is unimpressive and repetitive
  • Poor art direction and design
  • Bland soundtrack


"Tips"
1- Use your gun often because bullets are plenty.
2- Also use your sub-attack to shoot greneades.
3- The sub-weapon for te rocket launcher is GREAT against bosses.
4- Use the first-person view to "snipe" targets from safe distances.
5- Often when in the middle of gunfights.


"Next Game"

As I expected, C-12: Final Resistance was a disappointment from start to finish. Its clear that it had some technical knowledge behind it, but that's not enough to make a good game.

The next game in the list should have LSD: Dream Emulator, a crazy surreal game with no clear objectives. However, its Japan only, so I am going to go aheadand review a game requested by some of  you, which The Granstream Saga, the "failed" spiritual successor to Quintet's creation trilogy on the SNES. Let's see if it deserved its grim fate or not.

Stay Tuned

Lord Spencer
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Mar 17, 2023 5:36 pm

#R1

Game: The Granstream Saga-
Year: 1997, 1998.
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: Sony, THQ
Developer: Shade


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 220px-The_Granstream_Saga_Coverart

Quintet was a legendary under-the-radar developer in the days of the SNES, responsible for making games such as ActRaiser and the brilliant Heaven and Earth Trilogy (Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma. The fact that this brilliant developer is no longer active today points to a surprising decline, and that decline, unfortunately, started with The Granstream Saga.

From a conceptual level, this is a game that made sense, with an interesting story and setting and an intriguing real-time Action combat system. Developing a game for a new and exciting system, Quintet rebranded into Shade, and decided to make a game that takes advantage of the 3D capabilities of the hardware.

Yet, the game fails to be as snappy and satisfying as the developer's early SNES titles, and you can see how the uninspiring polygonal graphics conspired to add tedium to what should have been an exciting gameplay system, eventually creating a tedious game.

"Without the new Wisemen, the lands are beginning to slowly sink into the sea. Once again, an entire civilization is threatened with extinction"

From the opening anime cut-scene, which is a tool that this game uses extensively and effectively, it is clear that the game is set in an interesting world. A past conflict between various nations and a suspicious Empire lead to the world nearly being completely annihilated.

What remained of the world were a few small floating "continents" are kept from sinking into the sea by a line of "Wise Men" that elevated the landmasses upwards in the first place. In this world, where the contents are constantly shrinking (being intentionally cut by mages) to keep them from sinking, you can imagine the repair of the population.

An extremely interesting showcase of the complex world-building in this game can be seen in the continent of Volcos where an active volcano (how it operates when it's not linked to the magma at the center of the planet is never explained) is in the middle of it. This led to the creation of the ministry of balance, which ensures that the weight on both sides of the continent is the same so that neither side tips causing the volcano to erupt into it.

In this dying world, Eon is thrust as a chosen hero who can summon the memories of the past through a special bracelet to save the lands from sinking into the sea. In his quest, he is joined by two archetypical Anime ladies who help along the way while the remnants of the Empire are hell-bent on pursuing power for its own sake.

Besides its interesting setting, the narrative is not far from the usual anime cliches, even somehow shoehorning a "shower scene" for that tried-and-true Tsundre female characterization. However, this was at a time when dialogue and story were still being figured out and are frankly rather effective here.

Unfortunately, it's inconsistent in many ways due to poor dialogue writing and some odd scene direction. While the anime scenes are competently voice-acted, the in-game dialogue scenes are not, which is expected. However, there is an inconsistent use of character portraits, which could convey emotions much better than the game's primitive polygonal faces could ever do.

"As the lands continue to sink to their doom, the struggle for more power goes on..."

Two things you will immediately notice about this game. First, it is a top-down Action game in the same style as most of Quintet's SNES games, and the second is that you cannot change the awful view angle the developers perplexingly chose for the game. It's obvious that the team was more comfortable with the handcrafted artistry of sprites than the "freedom" that polygons game them.

As such, I was happy when I realized that game's main gameplay mechanic jumps into a completely different perspective. When you touch enemies in the dungeon, you zoom into a one-on-one battle with that enemy in the arena with a much better camera angle.

In battle, you try to strafe around the enemy, looking for an opening to attack. Utilizing guards and quick steps, you alternated between attack and defense in real-time action battles against a variety of cool enemies.

At least, that's what I imagine the concept was, which is completely undermined in reality by a few poor design choices.

First, there is a shortage of enemy designs and patterns that ensure that battles become repetitive before long. Second, is the lack of offensive choices for the player to engage with and customize, which eventually means you will try and avoid most fights.

Hence, the gameplay consists of running through boring dungeons viewed from an unattractive angle, trying to avoid fighting as many enemies as possible, so that you get from point A to B in the story until you hit the more exciting boss battle. If the game is been better served by a fast-forward button in a YouTube video, then it's not really fun to play.

That's, unfortunately, going to be the enduring sentiment of most players with this game. A creeping tedium permeates through the act of playing this game, obliterating any promise the game's plot or setting could ever have.

"Journeys are about meeting new and parting old... It is a cycle like the waves"

Yet, even if a game is boring to play, its visual and audio strength when coupled with a good story could still power players through it, but that's alas not the case here. In fact, I would argue, is that the game's poor use of polygonal graphics is the root cause of all its issues.

In the past, Quintent crafted interesting worlds coupled with snappy and exciting gameplay in their sprite-filled SNES worlds. It is my suspicion that they simply did not know how to do that on the PS1's hardware. From the choice of camera angle to the featureless character faces, the limitations of polygonal graphics were clear to see.

What's less clear is how it affected the gameplay. I imagine that the time spent to make sure it worked at all cut into the design of interesting dungeons and enemies to fight, which completely wasted the game's unique combat system and the developer's past in creating great levels.

So, we are left with a game world that betrays the imagination of its storytellers and its great anime cutscenes, where blank faces try to emote instead of the lovely character portraits, and you can only sigh at what could have been made on the SNES instead.

One thing that couldn't have been done on the SNES was the limited voice acting and orchestral score in the anime scenes, which were really good. Even better is the game's soundtrack, which is made by the same composers that made the soundtrack for Terranigma .

It's made in the same style as the developer's earlier work, with an excellent fusion of instruments and styles that creates a mystical and distinct cultural flavor to the game. That's evident in both town themes such as "Pixim (Pixim Town – Troubled)" theme or dungeon themes like "Shrine (Inside Kilia Shrine)".

In Conclusion:

Despite their critical success, none of Quintet's previous games were seriously successful. This may have been a precursor to difficulties in the company that both caused them to rebrand to Shade, and then fail to succeed with their first game on the PS1.

While The Granstrea Saga clearly has the fingerprints of Quintet's past titles in its story, setting, and music, it lacked the finesse that made them so fun to play, I blame that massively on the jump to 3D polygonal graphics which affected every facet of the game's design.

Overall, it's a shame that Quintet's final original game went out with a thud.

Final: 5/10

Pros:

  • Great Worl Setting
  • Nice use of anime cut-scenes
  • Interesting cast of characters despite the cliches
  • A unique real-time Action combat system
  • Great soundtrack



Cons:

  • Inconsistent use of character portraits
  • Battles become stale fast
  • Extremely boring dungeon design
  • Little incentive not to simply run through a dungeon instead of playing it
  • Terrible camera angle for the majority of the game
  • Ugly and blank polygonal world


"Tips"
1- When beating an enemy you get a colored "chest" that you can not open. This "chest" gets stronger if you beat other enemies in sequence without getting hit.
2- The increase in reward is useless unless you are a completionist, and you shouldn't be a completionist for this game.
3- Hold the R button to do quick steps, or double tap the directional buttons.
4- The sword is usually the most useful weapon.
5- Explore jars and barrels to find useful items.
6- Talk to everyone in town.
7- Interact with weird things in the environment.


"Next Game"

As a huge fan of Quintet's SNES games, I really hoped that The Granstream Saga did not deserve its mediocre reputation. Alas, it really did deserve that reputation, and it was clear that it is part of the reason that Quintet disappeared later (equally possible, Quintet's own problems could have been the cause of this game's problems as well).

I am going back to the regular Top 100 PS1 games list with a review of Syphon Filter 2, which sits at number 36 in Retro Sanctuary's list. However, I am going to first review the first Syphon Filter game first.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Apr 08, 2023 11:09 pm

#36 (S1)

Game: Syphon Filter:-
Year: 1999.
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter/Stealth
Publisher: 989 Studios
Developer: Eidetic


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 3894623-syphon-filter-playstation-front-cover

Games like Metal Gear Solid showcased the development in gameplay and storytelling that was possible on the PS1, and many aspiring developers raced to follow its example. Several attempts failed at providing a compelling narrative, compelling gameplay, or both.

Syphon Filter is one of the few games that succeeded in that regard, offering a solid story within an innovative and fun game. Despite its polygonal graphics and early 3rd Person mechanics showing their age, the first game in the series is still fun to play.

"Imagine a weapon that can target specific demographics, ethnic groups. It can wipe out whole continents, except those chosen to survive"

Set like a typical Bond movie, Syphon Filter starts with a cut scene in a Costa Rican jungle, where special agent Gabriel Logan and his partner Lian Xi uncover a viral attack plan by the terrorist mastermind Erich Roamer. The plot of the game is to discover the full details of Roamer's plan and eventually stop it.

It's a solid spy-thriller with the requisite number of betrayals, action set-pieces, countdown segments, and infiltration of bases in foreign lands. With solid voice acting by the main characters, the story is not a throwaway and is in fact one of the game's strengths. Another strength is the direction of the game's cut scenes, which wears its Bond influence on its sleeve.

One thing worth noting is the variety of mission structures and locations in the game. The first mission is set in Washington D.C. where Logan attempts to diffuse a bomb threat in a Subway station and ends up chasing the villains all the way to the Capitol building. Another has him wear a Tuxedo and infiltrate a private museum of a pharmaceutical company.

Even in areas where the game has some awkward voice acting or the odd boring mission location, it is still easy to forgive the game thanks to its ambitions and the very good things it has going.

"We do what it takes Logan. All of us..."

An interesting story doesn't make for a compelling game, and interesting mission locations wouldn't work without interesting gameplay to back it up, which is thankfully mostly the case in Syphon Filter. While it contains some stealth elements, the game is mostly a 3rd Person shooter at heart.

Logan can target enemies through a lock-on function, which is useful against enemies early on but is useless once they start wearing flak jackets. Those elite enemies can only be effectively dispatched by using the game's free-aim system, which allows the player to control an aiming reticule to snatch those precious headshots.

Unfortunately, free aiming in the age before universal dual stick control is a bit awkward, and mastering this mechanic will be necessary to overcome the game's later stage which increases rapidly in difficulty.

Thankfully, Logan moves really well in the 3D environment, with the camera following him mostly being smart about it. With the ability to strafe, which you can use while free aiming to lean out of cover, you have many survival options.

Many of these options don't work much with the game's limited number of bosses, who are all both boring and cheap, making the generous checkpoint system something to be thankful about.

"Be aware that you're now completely cut off from all reinforcements"

One you probably noticed I am yet to comment on is the stealth portion of the gameplay, which is tangential to one of the brilliant things about the game, and that's the varied mission structure. Each mission has several objectives, which, along with the level's map, are visible on the briefing (start) screen.

These objectives vary greatly, from saving a hostage to simply killing a target. Some missions introduce a fresh idea to the gameplay that isn't seen elsewhere, like a scanner to look for dead bodies or a maze-like stage where you need to look for scientists to kill (Logan doesn't have a moral compass about his orders).

Some missions are more focused on stealth than regular open shooting, and these are usually the game's weakest points. Not only are these sections painfully slow given Logan's glacial squat walking speed, but the game's poor draw distance makes them much harder than they should be.

This doesn't mean that stealth missions are completely unplayable in the game, but that they are just not as fun as everything else. Especially when getting found will summon an army of goons that will surely overwhelm you.

It's ironic that one of the game's leading aspects is actually one of its weakest. Thankfully, it is mostly peripheral in most of the game, and a little care in movement can help alleviate some of the stress in the few stealth-focused missions.

"I hope Roemer is paying you enough to die for him"

I already briefly mentioned the poor draw distance of the game, which was a common complaint about most if not all 3D games in the 5th generation of consoles. Of course, frequent pop-ins were a bigger issue in shooter games since enemies could attack you "beyond the veil". But what about other issues common to 3d games in the past?

Cameras were usually the biggest challenge in making games work in 3D space, and Syphon Filter was not an exception to that rule despite having a decent camera. Specifically, in about 20% of the game's levels, the camera is prone to errors in trailing transparency, showing pieces of the environment the player leaves behind. This greatly affects free aiming at those levels.

Other than these issues and the expected low quality of its textures, the game's graphics are surprisingly smooth, especially in motion. Characters have decent detail to them, and the polygonal make-up of the game's world lacks the jagged edges of similar games.

Musically, the game has a decent and genre-appropriate soundtrack that plays organically as you progress through a map. It isn't anything special or memorable, but it adds excitement and tension where it needs to.

In Conclusion:

As the first game in its franchise, Syphon Filter doesn't an admirable job in crafting a 3rd Person Shooter/Stealth game in a post-MGS world. Not only does it have a decent and cinematic story, but also has a solid and compelling gameplay structure and mechanics.

That doesn't mean that the game is free from flaws though, although many of those flaws were standard fare in its era. Poor draw distances and the occasional transparency flaws show the game's age, but the relative smoothness of its movement and solid gameplay systems keeps it fun even for the modern gamer.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • Very good Bond-inspired story
  • Very good voice acting
  • Good 3rd Person shooting mechanics
  • Good movement options
  • Varied mission structure
  • Decent polygonal graphics



Cons:

  • Free aiming is awkward at first
  • Boss battles aren't fun
  • Stealth gameplay isn't a lot of fun
  • Wierd difficulty spikes
  • Poor draw distance
  • Frequent trailing transparency errors


"Tips"
1- You can shoot locks to break them (and electric panels as well).
2- Learn to take advantage of your map to figure things out.
3- Beware of enemy grenades.
4- Some levels require some vertical climbing, so look up often.
5- Some dark areas will require you to use a flashlight.
6- Learn how to reliably get headshots with free aim.
7- Grenades are useful against multiple targets.
8- Final boss only dies with a gas grenade (which you can find in the room you fight him in).



"Next Game"

It looks like I am going to enjoy the Syphon Filter games on the PS1, which is good since I am going into a blogging collaboration with another member of the site on the franchise.

The second game is supposed to be better, and it's the one that sits on the Top 100 PS1 Games list by Retro Sanctuary at number 36. Here is hoping the incremental improvements of the sequel fulfill the solid potential of the first game.

Stay Tuned
Lord Spencer
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Post by Lord Spencer Mon Apr 24, 2023 1:24 pm

#36

Game: Syphon Filter 2:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter/Stealth
Publisher: 989 Studios
Developer: Eidetic


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 MV5BMjVmOGRhMDktN2YzOS00NDY5LWE4YTEtNTk2NGQxMjRmMzNkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjExODE1MDc@._V1_

The first Syphon Filter game followed the steps of Metal Gear in making an Action-packed game with some cinematic sensibilities, and it proved to be one of the better games that partially imitated the great PS1 classic.

Syphon Filter 2 is more of the same, but thanks to the lessons the development team learned, it is a much tighter experience in both its gameplay and story. As a result, I have no doubt that it is one of the greatest PS1 action games at the time and one that is still fun to play today.

"Use any and all means necessary to reach that location. The data discs must be retrieved to find a cure for Syphon Filter, and to save Lian"

If we want to compare the Syphone Filter story to Action-Espionage movies, and the first one can best be linked to a James Bond flick, then the second game is best compared to the Jason Bourne films, which is surprising considering the game released two years before the first Bourne film.

This time around, Gabriel Logan is a special agent running away from the agency that hired him, desperately trying to find a cure to the genetically modified virus that infected his partner, Lian Xing, in the first game. Initially, I thought that the otherwise strong and capable Lian would play a damsel in distress role, but I was thankfully mistaken. She becomes a playable character for almost half of the game and the narrative is better for it.

The runaway plotline makes for a consistently high-stakes story, where Logan and his allies face off against the evil conspiracies of the secretive "Agency" not to save the world or America, but simply to survive and find a cure to the virus. Yet, the "Agency" actually needs Lian's living body to extract the information necessary to mass produce the virus.

Naturally, this cat-and-mouse game leads to interesting scenarios, with the team switching from sneaking into a museum to engaging in a shoot-out in a Moscow nightclub. There are a lot of nods to action movies of the time, and the game is no slouch in introducing its own ridiculous contributions to the genre.

Overall, this game's story is more engaging and tightly paced than the original. However, due to its increased dialogue, the weakness in some of the voice-acted lines are more apparent, especially regarding the main voice of Logan which has some improper inflictions and emphasis points that fail to sell some of his lines.

"How are you going to get out of this alive? Not really sure, I'm making it up as I go"

While the series is billed as an Action-Stealth game, the first title's stealth segments felt awkward and stiff compared to the base 3rd Person Shooting gameplay. Thankfully, the promise of that billing is more fulfilled with the second game, which manages to fix many of the first game's issues.

Mainly, the crouching speed is noticeably faster, leading to more fluid movement. In addition, the draw distance both visually and in the compass radar is slightly improved. These improvements, coupled with increased stealth-weapon options made stealth missions more fun to play.

This is great considering nearly half the missions in the game are stealth-focused this time around. The majority of Lian Xing's missions are stealth-oriented, with some missions even completely stripping you of your offensive capabilities. Thankfully, the game's mechanical improvements go a long way in making these missions actually fun to play.

Not to be outdone by its newfound stealth competency, the action-oriented missions are no slouches either, with a nice mix of adrenaline-pumping shooting fests and more methodical infiltration/escape missions throughout.

Generally, I found the stage design better built this time around, and I rarely got lost regarding my surroundings and objective, with missions making more physical sense within each stage. At any point, if you need more information, you can consult a rather useful map and even check the location of your objectives, which was a feature that was inadequate in the first game.

"I want him finished, even if you have to blow up the whole state to do it"

Other than minor improvements to its movement/stealth mechanics and general mission structure, the game is technically the same as its prequel. This means that the 3rd Person Shooting mechanics, with a mixture of lock-on targeting and first-person free-aim, is nearly identical to the first game.

In 3rd Person mode, you can easily move around, run, and strafe, while locking on to your target to shoot. As long as you are fast enough to dispatch your enemies before they get a good chance at fixing their aim, Logan or Lian will be fine. However, you need to be more precise with enemies wearing flak jackets, and here is where free-aiming shines.

This system works surprisingly well, especially when you can utilize the free-aim in conjuction with the strafe buttons to aim while taking cover, yet it is still an incomplete solution to the aiming problem in 3D games at the time. A dedicated camera control scheme is notably lacking, and you can imagine the game being better with a modern twin-stick aiming method.

These issues are most apparent in the later game, where the difficulty spikes considerably, with many enemies able to immediately destroy you at first sight. In those instances, you will clamor for a better and more responsive aiming style, even though the base mechanics still work really well.

Besides some unfortunately unbalanced situations and minor graphical hiccups here and there, the gameplay is solid throughout the game and remains fun despite the "historical" mechanics in both stealth and action missions.

"What I am is a tired angry fugitive whose partner is dying. Don't try me!!"

Following so closely after the first game, there probably wasn't much time for the development team to improve their grasp of the PS1 technology, resulting in a very similar-looking game, which looks nice compared to other PS1 games but is not spectacular by any definition. Ironically, the best-looking areas were places you revised from the first game which now have more detail.

Yet, some of you may notice that the game is divided into two discs, so what's up with that?

Most likely, this is to account for the increased number of CGI scenes, which are expertly directed and while not technically impressive even by the standards of the day, are actually quite decent for their number and proximity to the in-game engine.

Also, another major contributor to the size of the is the number of audio files, especially regarding the voice acting which I touched upon earlier. Other than Logan, who is decent but has the toughest job and consequently higher standards to aspire to, the other actors do a professional job most of the time.

Notably, the music is more involved and apparent in this game, which is great since the soundtrack by Chuck Doud is on-point and nicely integrated into the game. Cool suspenseful tunes play while you are sneaking around, suddenly turning into tense guitar riffs when you are in the middle of a shootout.

Other than some minor audio and graphical errors here and there (audio suddenly missing, some camera transparency issues), this clearly a better-produced game than the first, continuing the trend of marginal but noticeable improvements for the sequel.

In Conclusion:

My main surprise when playing Syphon Filter 2 is the fact that it reviewed lower than the first game, which I think is purely due to its lacking of originality since it copies much of what the first game does. However, I think that is a poor metric to judge games by at the time and would be poorer still today.

While it is true that this sequel is heavily iterative, it improves a game with a solid foundation in almost every way, making this game much more polished and more fun to play by a noticeable margin. Playing these games back to back, I felt forced to play the first for completion's sake, while I really enjoyed playing the second, making it a clearly better game in my book.

Originality has its value, but so does excellence.

Final: 8/10

Pros:
  • Very good runaway agent story
  • Very good scene and story direction
  • Great pacing throughout
  • Improved stealth mechanics
  • Solid mission and level design
  • The Third/First Person shooting hybrid works
  • A lot of decent CGI scenes
  • Suitable soundtrack



Cons:
  • Clear awkwardness in Logan's Voice Acting
  • Free aiming is awkward at first
  • Wierd difficulty spikes
  • Some graphical and audio errors


"Tips"
1- You can shoot locks to break them (and electric panels as well).
2- Learn to take advantage of your map to figure things out.
3- Beware of enemy grenades.
4- Some levels require some vertical climbing, so look up often.
5- Stealth missions REQUIRE stealth.
6- Learn how to reliably get headshots with free aim.
7- Grenades are useful against multiple targets.
8- Use the roll to approach quietly while sneaking.
9- Beware of shooting friendly targets.
10-Take advantage of cover when fighting multiple targets.


"Next Game"

While the first Syphone Filter had clear potential, the incremental improvements of the second game made it a much more enjoyable game for me.

The third and final game of the series on the PS1 game is considered the weakest of the bunch. Yet, given the fact that the second game was reviewed worse than the first, I wonder how much that has to do with familiarity.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Mon May 22, 2023 5:58 pm

#36(S)

Game: Syphon Filter 3:-
Year: 2001.
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter/Stealth
Publisher: Sony.
Developer: Bend Studio


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 Syphon-filter-3-911-version

If you thought that a third Syphon Filter game in three years is a sign of creative fatigue, then you have thought right. For all intents and purposes, Syphon Filter 3 is almost identical to the second game but with poorer pacing and story beats.

That explains why this third outing of Gabriel Logan and friends had the lowest scores on the PS1, but is too much of a good thing necessarily bad? I actually don't think so, which is why despite the game being clearly inferior to the second outing, I still enjoyed my time with it at its best.

"She gave her life for mine, how can I live with that? The same way I will, by surviving, by not giving up, by fighting for what you believe in"

Right off the bat, you are treated to the aftermath of the death of a beloved character in a cutscene. Here, you will notice how the story immediately starts with high stakes, and you will also notice the updated technology used in the CGI cutscenes, which now show significantly better-developed facial animations than its predecessors.

Unfortunately, the game's plot and pacing take a nosedive from there, and that's mainly due to its poor choice of hinging its story on a flash-back-heavy narrative design. For more than half the game, various characters in Logan's crew testify to the US Congress (in the form of the VP) about their past relationship with the now rogue Agency.

Through each hearing, you go back in time and play a mission with that character, which does little to advance their characterization and even less in advancing the central plot. It may have been interesting to play the missions where Xian Ling and Logan first met, but all the others were completely unnecessary.

This narrative choice hampers the series's otherwise satisfying plotline and massively reduces the stakes. You know the character testifying about their history is going to survive, so why play the flashback?

At least the voice acting is a bit improved from the second game with Logan and remains solid for the rest as expected.

"Not Gabe and I, we worked for the greater good"

In many ways, I could just copy and paste the gameplay portions of my Syphon Filter 2 review, and much would apply here. This is the second time where the franchise's Action-Stealth gameplay actually works since the second game already fixed the issues of the first.

It is as satisfying as it has always been to control Logan, both when you are in a firefight or when you are sneaking around. Thankfully, there are levels catering to both styles of play. Also, the game plays exactly the same regardless of the character you choose, so it doesn't have any impact on the game which character is testifying to Congress at the moment.

One thing that is annoying here, just as it was annoying in the other games, is the sudden spikes of difficulty. In some missions, you are tasked to save hostages, and you have to headshot two or more enemies in mere seconds. In others, enemies suddenly gain a huge boost in power and accuracy, managing to deplete your armor with one barrage of bullets.

Thankfully, the checkpoints are close enough that it rarely becomes frustrating, and you could always use the trustworthy strafe to look around corners and covers.

"Discover who is behind the shadowy organization controlling the Agency"

With almost the exact same gameplay and mechanics as its predecessor, the only way Syphon Filter 3 could have differentiated itself and justified its existence was to be equally as creative in crafting new missions. Mostly, the game succeeds in that mission.

Some missions introduce interesting weaponry and/or gadgets, such as Xian Ling's mission in Afghanistan where she finds a weapon that can fire through walls. Others are simply well-crafted levels that take full advantage of the game's mechanics. Variety is key here. From a hotel in Tokyo to a survivalist camp in Colorado, there are different locations, different objectives, and different styles for many missions.

Naturally, this means that some missions are weaker than others. Personally, I don't care much about some of the escort missions, with one particular mission escorting a truck having some nasty difficulty spikes within it. Also, some missions are very short, seemingly being inserted to use the same area in a different way to pad the run time.

Generally, though, the stage design in the better levels is really good. Thanks to the handy map and objective list, you won't get lost, and the stages are built in a way you can logically navigate with ease. Missions are almost divided equally between stealth and combat focus, which showcases the best the series has to offer.

"Trust, Miss Xing, would seem to be in short supply in your agency"

For the third game in a row, not many advancements were actually made to the game's graphics or animation. Admittedly, there were fewer instances of the camera clipping through the environment, but the environment is also slightly more bland in a majority of the stages.

So, don't expect anything better than the admittedly high-tier PS1 polygonal graphics and animation in-game, with the only upgrade here being for the CGI cut-scenes. These cut-scenes are ironically reduced as a result, with the focus on the improved facial animations taking away from the masterful direction of action scenes in the previous games.

Thankfully, the audio production continued its positive trend slightly by producing another suitable soundtrack to the game. While no track immediately stands out, I can remember clearly how effectively it conveyed the various areas you traversed in the game. From the tribal sounds on the jungle missions to the spy-thriller tunes in the city.

Lastly, the voice acting is as solid this time as it has always been. Even Logan's VA slightly improved, no longer emphasizing each line as if he had some mysterious constipation.

In Conclusion:

Familiarity breeds contempt. It doesn't go as far as that in this case, but Syphon Filter 3 is an almost similar package to the second game in the series but one that is wrapped in a worse-told story.

So, while it is true that the game's mechanics and the majority of its missions meet the same high standard, you can't help but expect a sequel to be better. Failing to achieve that, I think this game is a minor disappointment, and in a way, it was common for games in the same franchise to fall on their face with the fast development cycles of the PS1 days. This one manages to fall with some dignity intact.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • Improved facial animation in the CG scenes
  • Retains the solid gameplay of the second game
  • Solid mission and level design
  • The Third/First Person shooting hybrid works
  • A lot of decent CGI scenes
  • Suitable soundtrack



Cons:

  • The plot's pacing is off
  • The flashback-heavy narrative device is boring
  • Same camera issues as the second game
  • Wierd difficulty spikes here and there
  • More throwaway missions this time around
  • Some graphical and audio errors


"Tips"
1- You can shoot locks to break them (and electric panels as well).
2- Learn to take advantage of your map to figure things out.
3- Beware of enemy grenades.
4- Some levels require some vertical climbing, so look up often.
5- Stealth missions REQUIRE stealth.
6- Learn how to reliably get headshots with free aim.
7- Grenades are useful against multiple targets.
8- Use the roll to approach quietly while sneaking.
9- Beware of shooting friendly targets.
10-Take advantage of cover when fighting multiple targets.
11-Sometimes running through enemy fire is your best option.


"Next Game"

Well, that takes care of my playthrough of the Syphon Filter franchise on the PS1. I really think this franchise is one of the premium upper-middle-tier Action-Shooter games on that console. It was clearly inspired by the success of Metal Gear and I think made a decent attempt at copying some of that formula while forging its own strong identity.

Next on the list is another Square cult classic. Threads of Fate sits comfortably in number 35 on the list. I actually played this game a long time ago, but I don't remember much of it (other than the fact that I enjoyed it) so it will be interesting going back.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Jul 08, 2023 4:03 pm

#35

Game: Threads of Fate:-
Year: 1999, 2000.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Square.
Developer: Square.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTKbCI02fF8C6WYkS9nJfJOK3pxAkZ8UJxlPZK8A1qQ1gmIKnPl2y13kPpQ73lLmeLKUYM&usqp=CAU

Made by some of the same team that developed the uber-serious Xenogears game, at a time when Square seemed to have a Midas touch, Threads of Fate was made to be a contrasting light-hearted adventure that still makes an impression. At that, the team succeeds while maintaining Square's excellent PS1 track record. Despite a number of minor issues that keep it from being a great game, is a charming and memorable title that could endear itself greatly to the player.

It did that for me when I first played it, without completing it, nearly two decades ago, and it endeared itself to me again this time as well.

"And so, my journey began... I'll find the [Relic] and save Claire, no matter what..."


Threads of Fate's story begins with the central motivation of your chosen character (from two) who trace their objective, a powerful "relic" that could grant their wishes, to the small island of Carona. There, they interact with a limited number of characters, including the non-chosen main player, who are all looking for or are impacted by the existence of this "relic".

By the end of the game, a curious thing happened, where I realized I knew the names and personalities of each and every character in the game, as if they were cast members in a play. The limited number of characters and the small environment in which the story unfolds made this an unusually dense experience, despite the game going for a save-the-world tangent at the end.

Curiously, while the charming and humorous tone of the game is consistent throughout, the choice of the main character does have an impact on the specific tone of the story. Rue is a typical and taciturn serious Square MPC (equipped with spikey hair under his hat) who aims to use the "relic" to revive Claire, a girl he loves who was accidentally killed by a mysterious man who wields a giant arm. While Mint is a selfish and spoiled princess who was demoted from the line of succession and wants to use the "relic" to avenge that insult by, ahm, CONQUERING THE WORLD.

As you can expect, Rue's story is more serious, with some solid themes about the conflict between duty and will. Its ending is also more satisfactory for nearly all parties involved since it also resolves the mystery of the main bad guys as well. In contrast, Mint's story is more comic and adventurous, especially since I don't think you are supposed to root for her since she deserved her fate. However, I should complain that she hasn't matured enough as a character through the experience even in her own story.

Despite the main story being quite simple, it is told expertly once all the pieces are revealed and each character is given the time to shine. Unfortunately, the game's first half, which involves what amount to a series of fetch quests, is criminally slow and doesn't do enough to build the main story although it does help in establishing all the characters involved.

"I'm Princess Mint. No one says no to me, just for that, I'm going to beat you to a bloody pulp"


As one of Square's more experimental titles, Threads of Fate crafts its own take on Action RPG gameplay systems, for better or worse. Although, I am not even sure the genre description is accurate since there is very little in terms of RPG systems in the gameplay. Other than some perfunctory stats which improve throughout the game, there is little to differentiate it from plain old Action games.

Regardless of how you want to describe it, the main gameplay mechanics involve combat and limited platforming in a 3D space, with platforming thankfully being very limited since it's really janky. Combat involves quick attack combos, strong attacks, jump attacks, and a unique ability for each character that I will elaborate on later, and while it is as janky as platforming, it manages to be mindless fun most of the time.

Each character has their unique mechanics. Rue can transform into the monsters he defeats, which in theory unlocks a great variety of moves for him, while Mint has an interesting magic system that allows her to combine a type of magic with a form. Both systems could have been game changers if they were better implemented. Rue is only limited to transforming into the last four monsters he defeated, which creates annoying backtracking scenarios when needing a specific monster transformation, but that's not as limiting as the fact that Rue's basic moves are almost always the best option to use in every fight. In contrast, Mint's magic system is better initially, but unless you find the optional Omega form, it becomes very difficult to cast in mid-fight.

Generally, I find that the gameplay system itself is acceptable, if janky at times. Even if it's not needed, it's still fun to transform into various monsters as Rue and Mint's jump kick is strong even outside of the comic cut scenes. Some battles get annoying, and the system is never tested to its full limit, but that's not the worst aspect of this game.

"The power of the Aeon's [Relic] might destroy the world. What do you say to that?"


The worst part about this game is how little of a game there is in it. In theory, you go into dungeons to reach a goal, but the majority of dungeons are single-line corridors with little to do in them. While some dungeons elect to have basic puzzles to shake things up, these puzzles are extremely basic and limited in both quantity and scope, that they barely register as puzzles. There are only about four dungeons of worth in the game, and all of them combined barely compare to a single dungeon in the level of Ocarina of Time for example.

Outside of dungeons, there isn't much to do either. One of the most annoying areas of the game, which is Fancy' Mels house, has you participating in a few janky mini-games that exposes the frayed limits of the game's mechanics. Later, you have the option of subjecting yourself to that horrid experience.

In the town, where it is at least fun to talk to everyone, there isn't much to do other than have a few duels with Rod the vagrant for a few hundred bucks. These you can use to upgrade your stats, which is the extent of the RPG systems in the game. Unless you count the fact that you increase HP by being hit, and MP by using magic attacks, as a sophisticated "system".

So, outside of a few nice boss battles and the occasional good dungeon, there is little to enjoy about "playing" Threads of Fate, which sees its story and charm do most of the heavy lifting. In that case, it's great for the game that it could always rely on Square's brilliant production chops.

"In this world, it's all about heart. Without heart, we're nothing!"

I feel that a great story can be conveyed with only simple graphics and a solid narrative, but comedy and charm require more creative production behind them, which is thankfully what Threads of Fate has. With some of the studio's best work in converting their unique designs into 3D polygons, the characters look like they are out of a Saturday-morning cartoon.

Besides the charming graphics, there is something to be said about the scene direction, with all cut scenes made in-engine. The camera work is exemplary, selling the drama when it needs to, but excelling mostly with its comedic touches. One of the game's innovations was in how the character's eyes tracked movement, which is used in conjunction with the camera work in selling the scenes.

With charming graphics and exceptional direction, the game could utilize the best aspects of its art direction. Unfortunately, not all designs were equal, with many forgettable monster designs and the eye-sore that it's Fancy Mel's place (the game making fun of the place doesn't get them off the hook). However, this is countered by some truly memorable designs, such as the writhing arm of the main villain in Rue's story. I played but not finished the game 20 years ago and that design stayed in my memory for all that time.

Equally impressive is the game's soundtrack, which is made by the lesser-known Final Fantasy collaborator Junya Nakano and is considered one of his favorites. Not only is the soundtrack brilliant in its own right, creating an atmosphere and style that sets the game apart, but is used brilliantly in the scenes to underscore specific emotions or character actions.

When "A Chance Meeting" plays, you know the heroes are about to turn the tables in some way with its charming beats and heroic overtone just as you know you are in for trouble whenever the "East Heaven Kingdom" track plays with its mysterious chimes and echo effects. My personal favorite, outside of the brilliant main track, is the main town's theme which welcomes you with open arms whenever you come back from any expedition, no matter how disappointing it was.

In Conclusion:

I think that it is difficult to accurately review Threads of Fate since its strong suits are hugely subjective and depend on accepting the charm and comedy of the narrative while its weakest aspects are clear to everyone. Simply put, playing the game could be a boring experience.

This is why this is a rating that will not accompany a recommendation. I don't know if you would like the game, but I was won over by its charming story and graphics, its brilliant music, and the image of Rue's nemesis with that giant arm will keep haunting me forever.

Final: 8/10

Pros:
  • A choice of two protagonists
  • A charming, comic, and memorable story
  • Does well in establishing the location and full cast of characters
  • Each character have fun unique abilities
  • Very good and charming grpahicsand memorable designs
  • Brilliant scene direction
  • Excellent music




Cons:
  • The first half of the game is quite boring
  • The combat/platforming system can be quite janky
  • Dissapointing use of the protagonist's signature abilities
  • Uninspiring dungeons
  • Little to do outside of the limited main quest


"Tips"
1- Fight Rod to get money, save beforehand not to lose anything.
2- Fight Rod and lose for easy HP gain.
3- Always buy the most expensive equipment, once available.
4- Rarely, elemental attacks are necessary.
5- For Rue, you will need certain monster transformations to progress.
6- Getting highscores in the stupid Fancy Mel mini-games is useless.
7- Go back to the volcano at the end of Mint's story ot get the Omega magic.
8- Don't sell the "Legendary" items and instead give them to the bar chef once you have them all.
9- Visit all the areas in town before the final dungeon for optional scenes.


"Next Game"

I knew that I would like this game, and I ended up liking it despite its clear fault. However, I think its more than nostalgia, since I really do think that Threads of Fate is a truly charming and memorable game.

Next on the list, after writing a report about the top 40-31 games according to Retro Sanctuary, is going to be back to the addendum list with In Cold Blood, a cult-classic Adventure game that I hope is actually good.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Mon Sep 04, 2023 8:09 pm

#A30

Game: In Cold Blood:-
Year: 2000, 2001.
Genre: Adventure.
Publisher: Sony, DreamCatcher Games.
Developer: Revolution Software.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 S-l600

Following the surprise success of the Broken Sword Adventure games on the PS1, a success that was surprising because the genre usually thrived on PCs but struggled on consoles, Sony reportedly requested that Revolution Software make a new game with the PS1 on mind.

The result was In Cold Blood, a new type of Adventure game that was unrelated to their past work, but maybe could offer something new to fans of the genre. Unfortunately, it is exactly the advances that the game made that make it so much inferior to the charming games that preceded it.

"Now, John Cord. You are going to tell me everything about your mission. You'll start at the beginning with Alpha"

If you played the two Broken Sword games on the PS1, then you are right to expect a solid story told through very good voice acting and scene direction, which is thankfully what we get hear. Although it does lose the charm and humor of those games thanks to its overly serious espionage angle, In Cold Blood offers enough of a good story that you may not have a boring time watching it all unfold on YouTube.

Starring MI6 agent John Cord, it follows him as he investigates a coup in the fictional ex-Soviet country of Volgia. Soon he is embroiled in a web of mystery, intrigue, and supernatural resources that could change the world as much as it can bend the laws of physics. In fact, you first meet him while being literally caught in the web, being interrogated by the obviously evil Vladimir Putin, I mean Dmitri Nagarov.

The majority of the game is set in flashbacks that Cord remembers while being interrogated, which puts us in his own shoes as he tries to figure out and remember how he was betrayed and captured, and then plan on what to do about it.

While the story and premise won't win any awards for originality, Revolution Software knows how to smartly manage its storytelling, resulting in an engaging tale from a narrative and performance point of view.

"What is so special about it? Everythin, it does not only bend the laws of physics, it snaps them in two""

Unfortunately, the narrative is where engagement begins and ends with this game since it's an annoying chore to actually play it. Normally, playing an Adventure game is a highly meditative experience. You take a look at the nice backgrounds, click around to hear the smart/funny commentary on the environment while you look for clues, and then solve things logically.

That meditative experience is greatly changed in this game in favor of a more active and action-oriented style. You no longer point and click, and instead, you can directly control Cord in the environment. Additionally, you also have some limited stealth and gun combat options. While this approach could work in theory, the reality is that Cord lumbers on awkwardly to such a degree that moving about becomes a slog.

It is simply not fun controlling Cord, and it certainly becomes less fun when you get fail states thanks to the awkward combat and steel sections. Yet, what makes this truly the worst is that it discourages the player from interacting with the environment because it's so damn slow.

As such, one of the main joys of playing an Adventure game, where the protagonist provides wry commentary on the environment, which provides context and personality to the game, is something you want to actively avoid here.

Other games in the genre, such as Grim Fandango, moved away from point-and-click gameplay successfully. But those usually had better art direction to highlight interaction points, and they never had the awkwardly slow screen transitions that this game has.

"The place is swarming wit guards, so don't think you could shoot your way in. Use your brain"

Although no level of art direction would have saved the game from the experience of actually playing it, it may have at least saved my poor screenshots. In another move to "update" their take on the genre, the developers opted to abandon their previous artistry and proficiency in 2D graphics and go into the realm of early 3D polygonal monstrosities.

Sure, there were enough advances in 3D technology by then that the game doesn't look too bad, especially with some nice looking converted 2D backgrounds in some areas, but the push to 3D polygons made the game much darker than it needed to be. This resulted in a difficulty in knowing which objects you could interact with, which is especially annoying when you hate the thought of moving your character around.

While their work on the Broken Sword series had timeless beauty and charm, nothing in the art direction of In Cold Blood or graphical production, including the generic design of characters such as John Cord, ever rises to that potential.

I think that smarter push to modern graphics would have been to retaint their experience with 2D graphics, but utilize more of the rather solid CGI scenes that showcase key moments in the game. They still won't look good and it would be an awful juxtaposition of styles, but it would at least save the base look of the game.

As it is, the solid voice acting is the only part of the production that gets passing grade.

In Conclusion:

As a fan of the PS1 Broken Sword games, I am a bit sad that Revolution Software basically scored a bunch of own goals in making this game. Through a sluggish "update" of the gameplay to introduce more action as well as its clumsy jump into 3D graphics, they managed to eliminate the best qualities of their previous games.

In Cold Blood is a game that will leave you cold and unintrested in completing it, as not intrigue or mystery in the world will have you strain your eyes looking at muddy screens while your boring character lumbers about like a treadless tank.

Final: 4/10

Pros:

  • Solid story, cast, and direction
  • The typical professional voice acting of Revolution Software games
  • The REMORA tool was smart and promising gameplay system


Cons:

  • Slow, lumbering gameplay
  • Awkward action/combat controls
  • Gameplay actively discourages interaction with the world
  • Slow and laggy screen transitions
  • Muddy and dark graphics
  • Polygonal models don't hold up well compared to the brilliant 2D art of the past


"Tips"
1- Courch to help you sneak behind guards.
2- Utilize your map radar function (by pausing thegame) to scout for guards ahead.
3- Some NPCs will only help you if you take to them with your gun drawn.
4- Don't run while using stairs, as it may glitch the game.


"Next Game"

I am disappointed but not surprised by my reaction to In Cold Blood. Based on my experience, many promising Adventure games failed miserably thanks to a mindless attempt at innovating the genre, lumbering it with unnecessary mechanics and systems.

Next game in the addendum list, which is frankly less reliable than the main list at this point, is going to be Jade Cocoon, which is a polarizing JRPG with pedigree from Studio Ghibli behind it. I hope its more a misunderstood gem than an undeserving cult-classic.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Oct 13, 2023 7:00 pm

#A24

Game: Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu:-
Year: 1998, 1999.
Genre: JRPG.
Publisher: Genki, Crave Entertainment.
Developer: Genki.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 Jade_Cocoon

The most striking thing about Jade Cocoon: The Story of the Tamamayu is its relation to the excellent work of Studio Ghibli thanks to the involvement of Ghibli's Katsuya Kondo in the design of the world and characters. It is immediately apparent when you watch the opening anime movie and becomes even more apparent when you consider the environmental themes within. Another inspiration was the fledgling Monster Collection genre, spearheaded by Pokemon, which inspires the Minion collection mechanics of the game and its core gameplay loop.

With such pedigree, you may be surprised by how little you know of the game since it never reached the wide audience it deserved at the time. Yet, it did have a dedicated cult following, and that's a testament to the inherent quality of the game. A quality that is just close to standing the test of time if not for a few niggling issues.

"Destruction is often what comes of the Beasts of Knowledge... This could be an act of man..."

By the end of Jade Cocoon, I was pleasantly surprised by how good its story and narrative were. Initially, with an opening that tells the world's creation myth with some poor narration, I thought the game would just try to throw as many crazy terms at us instead of telling an actual story: "Beast of Knowledge", "Minions of the Forest", etc.

Later, as the narration got worse, the myths and the world started making more sense, and the environmentalist influence of Studio Ghibli became obvious. The aforementioned "Beast of Knowledge" were the first humans, who as they developed nearly destroyed the "Forest" which protected the world. As punishment, the God of the Forest unleashes Minions that keep the humans in check and protect the forest.

In that state, a few humans who can control the Minions, known as Cocoon Masters, emerge. Your silent protagonist is such a Cocoon Master, and he gains this ability just as the latest calamity hits his village.

From there, a basic story in which the village hero journeys to save it becomes better than it had a right to be. Thanks to the small population of the village, each with their own portrait, the NPCs actually acquire a lot of depth. This comes into play whenever you come back to the town from your latest dungeon crawl and see how the tension of the catastrophe changes the village people.

Another solid narrative thread is the relationship between the hero and the wife he must take as a Cocoon Master, a girl named Mahbu from a race called the Na'gi who can purify the Cocoons (Pokeballs) for the Master to use as minions at the expense of taking the curse into her own body. It's an obvious allegory of the cost of abusing the environment, and along with the other allegories of how the "Beast of Knowledge" behaves, sells the story of the world in its simple ways.

"Without the power to summon a magic beast, you are no threat to me. Just the son of a coward. Hahahahahahaha..."

The gameplay loop is as straightforward as the story initially appears, but in contrast, doesn't gain any complexity as you progress. You go dungeon crawling in simply designed dungeons, where you could thankfully see the enemies in the field which you could try to avoid or choose to fight. There isn't much in the way of puzzles or alternate paths in these dungeons either.

Once you are in a fight, you are in a one vs. one situation with the enemy most of the time, but there are one vs. two and extremely rare one vs. three situations in the wild. Here, you can control the main character or summon one of three Minions you can equip; easily changing between them during the fight.

Mechanically, it's a basic turn-based system with little to no complications. Each enemy Minion has one of four elemental affiliations that work based on a circle of weaknesses. The key to victory is using creatures of the stronger element and attacking them with elemental attacks, which are separated into physical and magical categories. Once you weaken the monsters, you can attempt to capture them.

Each and every dungeon goes through the same loop. Enter the dungeon, capture a bunch of Minions, go back to base to recover and upgrade your equipped Minions (more on that later), and then go back into the dungeon. It would be a simple and fun loop if the battles were snappier, but there is a level of lethargy to the game that makes it quickly boring if you play it without a fast-forward feature.

This becomes more apparent near the end of the game, where what I could imagine was a lack of budget caused the team to reuse the same exact four dungeons with a different color hue. At that point, the novelty of the game's unique Monster Collection mechanics started wearing off, and I only continued the game thanks to its story and short length.

"O son of the Lion of Parel. You shall become a Cocoon Master worthy of your father's name!"

With any Monster Collection game, the loop of collecting new monsters and fighting with them is integral to the experience. In Pokemon, you collect new monsters and evolve them as you fight with them, with each monster type being unique along with its evolution path. In Shin Megami Tensei, you collect demons and then fuse them to create stronger demons and so on, with each demon type being unique but being lost when used as fusion fodder. Jade Cocoon has elements of both franchises.

You capture monsters, called Minions, and you can use them in battle to level them up. However, you can only speedily increase their power by merging them with other Minions. At first glance, this may appear to be exactly the same as SMT. However, there is the key difference that the Minions used have a direct influence on how the resulting Minion looks. In fact, the resulting Minion has a small lineage tree that traces their evolution to its grandparent Minions, giving each monster of your team a more personal touch that is closer to Pokemon than to SMT.

Merging works by grafting some of the physical characteristics of the parent Minions, along with the influence of their stats and skills, into a new creature that you can use. Later, as you continue using the resulting monster in merging experiments, you can see how nearly limitless the system seems to be, with over a thousand unique configurations you could create without counting the different color tones and textures.

Unfortunately, while this system can be incredibly fun, it has a few glaring weaknesses. First, the extremely high number of variations reduces the thrill of collecting new Minions. Second, the basic parts that most Minions are built from lead to a uniform design across the board that never raises to the level of care other Monster Collection games offer. Lastly, the limited number of Minions you could equip reduces your appetite for experimentation, since you don't have as much of a chance to use the results of it.

Still, it is a unique system that isn't widely imitated, and even if I didn't care for how my four main Minions looked, I did care about them thanks to their lineage and how they are all based on the first four Minions I ever captured from each element.

"The knowledge of man opposes the power of God, and thus the power of nature"

With some of Studio Ghibli's pedigree behind it, Jade Cocoon should have been an art piece that is only limited by the technology of the time, and that indeed turned out to be the case. While the game doesn't look as good as the animated opening movie, it does have some of the best 3D Polygonal character models in RPGs in its era. Every NPC in the village and human character looks close to their Ghibli-esque portrait, with polygonal work that rivals that of Square at the time.

These characters are also brought to life with nearly fully-voiced dialogue. As expected, the voice acting is of mixed quality. While the majority of actors give a solid enough job, a couple of notable roles are badly cast, chief among them is the old man narrator of the story's main myths.

A similar level of care to the character models went into the game's environments, which are handpainted backgrounds made in similar ways to Final Fantasy VII and the Resident Evil games. While this does create some issues because of the use of a static camera, it showcases the lush nature of the Forest nicely.

Unfortunately, as I alluded to above, the Minion designs leave much to be desired thanks to the core merging mechanics. Basically, the creatures in the game have some incredibly simple designs that can be extrapolated and interposed into hundreds of variations, such that no single monster has a level of care in its design.

Similar to the feel of the game's graphics, the soundtrack by Kimitaka Matsumae aims to evoke a naturalistic image. With plenty of flutes, tribal percussion, and an airy feel, it does build a forest or jungle-like atmosphere. Some might say it does it too well, as the various songs blend into each other; creating a cohesive sound that doesn't have any standout tracks.


In Conclusion:

There are many things that Jade Cocoon excels at, from a surprisingly gripping story and monster-merging mechanics to some of the best visual work in JRPGs outside of the masters at Square. That, along with the unquantifiable Studio Ghibli effect, explains why the game resonated so much with its cult fanbase.

However, the game is not free of shortcomings, and those do drag it down. From a rather pedestrian turn-based battle system to a lack of charm personality to the Minions you recruit and are supposed to care about.

Consequently, this is a flawed hidden gem of the PS1 era, but its flaws cannot completely hide its emerald brilliance.

Final: 7/10

Pros:

  • A surprisingly good story with an environmentalist spin
  • It showcases complex relationships thanks to the density of its setting
  • You can see the actual enemies in the field
  • Incredibly unique monster merging mechanics
  • A huge number of unique creature variations
  • Some excellent polygonal work on the main characters
  • Lush 2D painted backgrounds





Cons:

  • The voice acting is mixed and doesn't always give enough justice to the written dialogue
  • Battle mechanics are incredibly basic
  • Everything around the game is slow and the gameplay becomes boring after a while
  • Only three equipped Minion slots stunt your creativity
  • The huge number of variations leads to poor creature designs across the board
  • Minion (monsters) designs leave much to be desired




"Tips"
1- You can use the Earrings of the Hunter key item to teleport back to the village at any time.
2- The elemental circle goes like this: Earth> Water> Fire> Air> Earth.
3- The elemental circle is key to victory, and you can have your Minions be proficient in two elements.
4- It is key that you have one dedicated magic Minion, and another dedicated physical one.
5- You can press "X" to interact with the environment.
6- Guarding recovers some mana.
7- Heal yourself with Great Acors to increase your health.
8- Only try to capture enemies when their health is red.
9- Capturing enemies is the best way to upgrade your level, and merging them is the best way to upgrade your Minion's levels.
10- Stick with a few Minions so that you don't grind to level a huge group.


"Next Game"

I am glad I ended up liking Jade Cocoon despite a slow start. Not everyone will keep up with its silly phrases and stick around until the story shows its promise, and some will be bored by its simplistic combat. However, I persevered until I noticed the complexity hidden beneath the surface, and I did enjoy merging Minions and upgrading my starting crew into the ugly but powerful abominations they became.

Next game on the list is one I am positive I will enjoy, and that's Wild Arms. I played the remake on the PS2, but the original is different enough (and shorter) that I would like to experience it.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Nov 15, 2023 3:57 pm

#A23

Game: Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain:-
Year: 1996.
Genre: Action-Adventure.
Publisher: Crystal Dynamics.
Developer: Silicon Knights.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 Blood_Omen_-_Legacy_of_Kain_Coverart

Everything about Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain can be explained by director Denis Dyack's desire to make "a game which adults would want to play". As a result, Silicon Knights made a game that deserves the M rating according to the ESRB, and in the process made something that it thinks is for adults.

In fact, Blood Omen was, at best, what edgy teenagers wanted to appear more adult, as there is nothing truly "mature" about the game. In their pursuit of making a game for adults, it appears that the developers not only loaded the game with wanton bloodlust and gore but also removed the "juvenile" concept of "fun" from the game altogether.

To top that off, the game has some excruciating loading times on the PS1. So much for busy adults wanting to play this game.

"The initiation of a new Aeon. When it becomes necessary to utter a word the whole planet must be bathed in blood..."

After a CGI opening that makes it clear that this isn't a game for kids, with death, blood, and gore aplenty, you are put into control of the game's protagonist, Kain who is immediately murdered and resurrected as a vampire.

Now undead and angry, Kain must wreak vengeance against his killers and their masters. You know that because Kain will constantly narrate his thoughts, expressing his wishes for vengeance in the most graphic and edgy ways possible. In fact, that style of narration extends to the entirety of the story, which is supposed to be presented in morally ambiguous ways. That's the aim, but not the result, which is that everyone is simply terrible, but to different degrees.

Sure, the world of Blood Omen is interesting, with the central lore about the Pillars of Nosgoth and their role in preserving the balance of the world shared between humans and vampires suggesting some hidden depth. Unfortunately, this story is not elaborated on much in the game, and beyond its muddy graphics and interesting world map, there is little to gather besides the narrative pauses of Kain.

Early in the game, villagers run from you on sight (since you are a vampire), but you later get the ability to disguise as a human. I thought that would be the point the game opens up and the story starts to shine. Instead, all villagers repeat the same color dialogue while giving a hint about what to do next. There is no personality to the villagers, just as there is no personality to the world other than its fervent desire to be edgy and cool.


"I didn't care if I was in heaven or hell. All I wanted was to kill my assassins. Sometimes, you get what you wish for"

The best way to describe Blood Omen as a game is that it is an unfun Legend of Zelda with an extra dose of lacking charm. It's a top-down Action-Adventure game in a poorly designed world, filled with poorly designed dungeons, where you fight poorly designed damage-sponge enemies in boring and unresponsive combat.

Shaking the basic combat and exploration is Kane's vampire abilities and weapons. For his adventuring needs, Kane has access to some forms that allow him to talk to humans, jump over short chasms, and fast travel. To more easily dispatch his enemies, Kane can either use some powerful magic spells through an MP gauge, or limited-use gadgets that you can find while exploring.

While these systems shake things up, you will get sick of them thanks to Blood Omen's key design flaw, which is its excruciating loading times. Every time you go into a dungeon, a village house, or the main menu, you will be greeted with seconds of blackness. More deadly and frequent is the shorter, but still notable, time the game loads when you go into your magic or transformation menu. There, what's supposed to be a snappy skill management system grounds the game to a halt.

If the game ran faster, you may be able to forgive its less-than-stellar mechanics and world design. However, with its technical limitation highlighting the weakness of its combat and level design, you are forced to contemplate how much fun you would have playing something else every time you are greeted with that black screen.

"Of all the methods I employ, this is perhaps the cruelest. Causing my victim's body to shrink on itself, crushing bones and rupturing organs til the pressure inside bursts the sack of fleshy skin, springing its contents for all to see"

In its pursuit of "adult" approval, Blood Omen naturally goes for a muted color palette for its world and a more realistic design approach to its characters and creatures. Both aspects work for what the game wants to look like, and thanks to its intelligent use of polygonal graphics, the game looks fine beyond its muted graphics, Silicon Graphics was known for its technical master in regards to graphics, as evidenced by the impressive (for the time) CGI scenes that punctuated key moments in the game.

Yet, it should be immediately apparent from any screenshot of the game that there is a glaring issue regarding the presentation.

There is a big freakin banner that takes nearly a third of the screen. This banner is supposed to be the information display, but it takes so much real estate from the screen that you wonder how its design was ever approved. Seriously, this by itself is a testament to the poor design of the game.

At this point, I half expected the game's soundtrack to be a half-cooked mess. Instead, it's a solid effort at creating atmospheric music. In many ways, it complements the style of the voice acting and  the world itself

In Conclusion:

If by making a game "which adults would want to play", Silicon Knight meant making a game devoid of joy and fun, then they have succeeded with flying colors. However, I don't think that the end product is something that most people would enjoy. This is a "mature" game in the eyes of edgy teenagers who want to grow up fast.

To be fair, something is interesting about the game's uber-edgy aesthetic and style, and I could see some people enjoy it despite its janky nature. Yet, one thing no one would enjoy is the game's excessive loading time.

That's where I implore you if you are still interested in playing this unfun game (which still wouldn't be fun even if it had instant loading), then play it on anything other than a PS1.

Final: 3/10

Pros:
  • Kane's voice actor is really good
  • An interesting host of vampire abilities
  • Impressive CGI scenes for the time
  • Solid and atmospheric graphics that didn't age poorly



Cons:
  • A pathetic attempt at making a "mature" story ends up more juvenile than adult
  • Little attempts at affective world-building or storytelling
  • A boring Zelda clone
  • Poor level and combat design
  • A lot of loading time
  • There is a freaking banner covering a third of the screen




"Tips"
1- Break barrels for some loot.
2- Press the action button next to dazed enemies to suck their life force.
3- Use the wolf form for faster walking speed.
4- Some gates open based on the moon/sun phase.
5- You slowly regain MP.


"Next Game"

This is probably my most controversial review, since Blood Omen is much appreciated by some people. I think it's flawed in almost every way, and doubly so on the PS1 with its excessive loading times.

The next game on the list is one I am positive I will enjoy, and that's Wild Arms. I played the remake on the PS2, but the original is different enough (and shorter) that I would like to experience it.

Stay Tuned
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Fri Nov 17, 2023 2:28 am

I'm curious LS, what's your goal? To review every psx game ever?
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Post by Vibe Fri Nov 17, 2023 6:42 am

Whatever it is, LS :bow: I have rarely been so impressed by a thread.

I just wish he would do some of my personal faves that are on the list but not planned for review, like ISS Pro Evo, Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation and Gran Turismo 2.
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Nov 17, 2023 7:58 am

BarrileteCosmico wrote:I'm curious LS, what's your goal? To review every psx game ever?


No. My goal is to take a Top 100 PS1 Games list and play/review games in that list that I didn't play before. The condition for choosing to play and review a game depends on:


  • The game doesn't have a notably better version of it in another console (through remasters, ports, or 1:1 remakes)
  • The genre is something I am interested in or good at (which is I don't review Shmups)
  • Its not a multi-player focused game (which is why I am not reviewing fighting or sports games)
  • Its not in a genre that only got obviously better with time (racing games for example)


I already did a similar series of reviews for the SNES, Genesis, and Saturn. Next would the N64 in theory. What's different with the PS1 is that it had such a massive library of games that a Top 100 lists wasn't enough to capture all the worthwhile games. That's why I am also going through an addendum list as well.

After I complete the series, I will actually post the list I went through and a report on all 180 games that I cam covering through this exercise.
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Nov 17, 2023 8:03 am

Vibe wrote:Whatever it is, LS :bow: I have rarely been so impressed by a thread.

I just wish he would do some of my personal faves that are on the list but not planned for review, like ISS Pro Evo, Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation and Gran Turismo 2.


Thanks for reading.

Regarding the games you mentioned: I am not reviewing any sports games (despite loving Winning Eleven on the PS1) because they are multiplayer-focused, and I wouldn't be able to give the a fair shake.

I am not reviewing Racing games because I think they are in a genre that only improved with aged.

I am not reviewing Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation because it had a much better port on the Dreamcast. I may review that game if I ever reach a stage to review Dreamcast games.

That being said, by the conclusion of this series, I will post a series of reports covering all the above games and 177 others.
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Post by Vibe Fri Nov 17, 2023 9:23 am

Lord Spencer wrote:
Vibe wrote:Whatever it is, LS :bow:  I have rarely been so impressed by a thread.

I just wish he would do some of my personal faves that are on the list but not planned for review, like ISS Pro Evo, Tomb Raider -  The Last Revelation and Gran Turismo 2.


Thanks for reading.

Regarding the games you mentioned: I am not reviewing any sports games (despite loving Winning Eleven on the PS1) because they are multiplayer-focused, and I wouldn't be able to give the a fair shake.

I am not reviewing Racing games because I think they are in a genre that only improved with aged.

I am not reviewing Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation because it had a much better port on the Dreamcast. I may review that game if I ever reach a stage to review Dreamcast games.

That being said, by the conclusion of this series, I will post a series of reports covering all the above games and 177 others.


I (very subjectively :coffee: ) believe you should rethink that because while multiplayer was huge in Winning Eleven, Master League was equally important so maybe that is something to take a look at. Also racing a Nissan Primera or Opel Calibra for 2 hours straight on GT2 is something that can't be replicated, though that is a somewhat nostalgic take.

As for Tomb Raider, I am not certain now was it The Last Revelation or Chronicles that I loved so much. The one where you get stuck for hours over something very stupid and obvious but there was no googling a solution back in those times so once it took me days to climb one ladder. I also remember vividly that the background sounds of nature were so good that it felt like you were in there.
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Post by Warrior Sat Nov 18, 2023 2:05 pm

Yes Spencer you have a talent for this, i admire especially the consistency of the presentation and vocabulary. Those reviews could as well belong in specialized blogs.
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Post by Lord Spencer Thu Dec 14, 2023 7:14 pm

Vibe wrote:
Lord Spencer wrote:
Vibe wrote:Whatever it is, LS :bow:  I have rarely been so impressed by a thread.

I just wish he would do some of my personal faves that are on the list but not planned for review, like ISS Pro Evo, Tomb Raider -  The Last Revelation and Gran Turismo 2.


Thanks for reading.

Regarding the games you mentioned: I am not reviewing any sports games (despite loving Winning Eleven on the PS1) because they are multiplayer-focused, and I wouldn't be able to give the a fair shake.

I am not reviewing Racing games because I think they are in a genre that only improved with aged.

I am not reviewing Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation because it had a much better port on the Dreamcast. I may review that game if I ever reach a stage to review Dreamcast games.

That being said, by the conclusion of this series, I will post a series of reports covering all the above games and 177 others.


I (very subjectively :coffee: ) believe you should rethink that because while multiplayer was huge in Winning Eleven, Master League was equally important so maybe that is something to take a look at. Also racing a Nissan Primera or Opel Calibra for 2 hours straight on GT2 is something that can't be replicated, though that is a somewhat nostalgic take.

As for Tomb Raider, I am not certain now was it The Last Revelation or Chronicles that I loved so much. The one where you get stuck for hours over something very stupid and obvious but there was no googling a solution back in those times so once it took me days to climb one ladder. I also remember vividly that the background sounds of nature were so good that it felt like you were in there.


I agree with the Master League being a big part of Winning Eleven, but playing against other players is still the best experience you can get with it. Its also worth pointing though that even if I did not have a rule against reviewing multiplayer-focused games, I still would not review Winning Eleven since I also don't review games I completed, and I played more than 500 hours of Winning Eleven as a kid Very Happy

Racing games are still out of my scope Smile

(I need to remove some games from the review list if I want to ever get the chance to move to the N64)
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Post by Arquitecto Fri Dec 15, 2023 9:22 am

Syphon filter was a childhood fave of mine. Disagree as the first one should be rated higher as despite its flaws it was quite revolutionary for its time, itself. Second one was the same just everything in it was far far better. And was rated correctly. Third one from what I get changed developers hence why CG scenes looked even different and just didn't live up to the first. \

I hope they reignite the games..Gabe Logan Proud
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Post by Lord Spencer Fri Dec 15, 2023 9:48 am

Arquitecto wrote:Syphon filter was a childhood fave of mine. Disagree as the first one should be rated higher as despite its flaws it was quite revolutionary for its time, itself. Second one was the same just everything in it was far far better. And was rated correctly. Third one from what I get changed developers hence why CG scenes looked even different and just didn't live up to the first. \

I hope they reignite the games..Gabe Logan Proud


That's a fair point, and it may be how I would review the games if I were taking historical context into account when reviewing the games. However, my review series is all about reviewing the games from a modern point of view, as if all the games were released at the same time.

As such, while I noted how revolutionary Syphon Filter was, I must also note how its flaws don't make it as fun to play as Syphon Filter 2 does for example.

If I would order the three games, it would be 2,1,3.
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Post by Vibe Fri Dec 15, 2023 9:49 am

Arquitecto wrote:Syphon filter was a childhood fave of mine. Disagree as the first one should be rated higher as despite its flaws it was quite revolutionary for its time, itself. Second one was the same just everything in it was far far better. And was rated correctly. Third one from what I get changed developers hence why CG scenes looked even different and just didn't live up to the first. \

I hope they reignite the games..Gabe Logan Proud


I don't know if you game on Playstation, but they released it under Classics with PS Plus, so you can play it right now on new consoles.

I was thinking about playing but I didn't yet because it is a vivid memory for me, don't want to spoil it for some reason.
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Dec 23, 2023 8:10 pm

#A22

Game: Wild Arms:-
Year: 1996, 1997.
Genre: JRPG.
Publisher: Sony.
Developer: Media.Vision.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 220px-Wildarmscase

With the explosion of the JRPG genre in the 16-bit era, new games needed something to differentiate them from established franchises. Media.Vision's answer to that challenge was fusing the well-worn fantasy trappings of the genre to a Spaghetti Western look; creating something wholly unique and recognizable in the process.

Besides its "Western" setting, Wild Arms stakes a claim to greatness by simply being a very good JRPG in both its mechanics and story, achieving the rare feat of being an all-around great game. It doesn't reach the echelons of best PS1 RPGs, but oh was it close to doing so.

"Life is gradually fading from the land. Slowly, but surly, the destruction of Filgaia continues"

The world of Wild Arms is set in Filgaia, a dying planet where the desert is slowly expanding, threatening all human civilization. This phenomenon, we learn, is an aftermath of a war a millennium ago between the powers of good, comprised of humanity and the planet's Guardians as well as an advanced Elv-like race, against the Metal Demons.

In this precarious state, three heroes start the game pursuing their dreams. Rudy is a "Dream Chaser" who can use Arms, powerful ancient gun-like weapons, which frightens the people he always tries to help. Jack is a treasure hunter looking for a "Power" for some mysterious reason. Finally, there is Cecilia, a magic-capable princess who is looking for her place in the world outside of her royal status. It's a typical JRPG party, but their growth together throughout the adventure and interactions with the outside, despite the unfortunate silence of Rudy, is a highlight of the game.

After the three characters meet and join forces, the Metal Demons appear again, sowing more destruction in Filgaia. In a very effective title opening, showing the aftermath of the Demons attack, what's at stake is firmly established.

The overarching plot is not anything special beyond its "Western" setting but is populated with cool characters such as Boomerang, and well-established concepts such as nature vs. nurture and the freedom of choice. The dialogue is mostly translated well but has some glaring weaknesses.

Also, the game kinda sags in the middle act, which could have been removed with no big impact on the game's structure, but the game isn't long and doesn't suffer much from that excess bloat.

"Innocent one... Can you hear the anger of the land and the wind? The screams of the sea and the sky?"

In the same way that the game's story follows some well-trodden trails but adds some unique twists, so does the game's turn-based battle system. It is as basic as it can get, selecting one order for each of the three characters and then watching as they trade blows with the enemy based on their agility ratings. However, it does add some twists that keep it interesting.

Mainly, as characters attack and are attacked, a force gauge is filled in several levels which they can then use to perform some useful powerful moves, similar to Final Fantasy VII's limit break system. These moves are consistently useful throughout the game. For example, Cecillia's first level Force move allows her to use the "hidden properties" of items, allowing her to use a single healing item for the whole group or access a host of hidden abilities for other items. Other force moves are more straightforward, dishing out a more powerful critical attack of triple the damage of special ability.

Each character has a special twist in battle as well which requires a different system to upgrade outside of it. Rudy can use Arms, which are powerful but inaccurate weapons that consume bullets. You can find these Arms in dungeons, and spend some hard-earned cash to upgrade their damage, capacity, and accuracy. Jack's Hidden Blade skills aren't much different, but they have an MP requirement which can be reduced with special scrolls, are found in dungeons, and there is an element of luck in unlocking them.

Cecillia's magic is the most different, with access to over 40 magic skills (with most being useless) which can be bought through a special (but rather common) item. Naturally, that makes her the support character, especially since dealing with status effects, buffs/debuffs, are all important in the game.

These elements combine to make a solid if not spectacular, turn-based battle system.

"Kindness and care have no place in this wasteland... He gives people hope just to be shattered by reality..."

If the battle system in Wild Arms can be described as a salaryman in terms of ambition, then its dungeon-crawling mechanics are more akin to a Silicone Valley entrepreneur. It may have not occurred to fans of the genre, but dungeon traversal was almost always a means to have more battles, with the maze-like structure and the occasional puzzle being the only challenge. In contrast, extensive dungeon design with puzzles was mostly in the realm of Action-Adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda.

That's not the case with Wild Arms, which tries to fuse the two genres in crafting its dungeons, giving each character tools that can be used to solve puzzles in each dungeon in the game. Also, with a fast and, rather unique, dash mechanic, the game has some action-packed segments in which you try to avoid obstacles.

This means that traversing dungeons in the game is fun and is a form of gameplay, that compensates for a basic battle system and a lack of extensive optional content. Yet, while the game's heart is in the right place, the execution leaves much to be desired.

Simply, the game doesn't go far enough in developing its dungeons despite having the mechanics in the game. To some degree, it's as if the developers did not trust the players to figure things out, which when taking some of the game's more obtuse puzzles into account, may not have been such a wild thought.

Ultimately, like some of the game's other sub-systems (The Guardians for instance), it feels like a proof-of-concept that could have been much more developed, but I think it's mostly fun as it is here.

"Humans break so easily. You guys don't make very good toys"

Probably the first thing people who played Wild Arms remember is its excellent Anime opening, which is one of the first of its kind on the PS1. This opening didn't only showcase the unique wild west look of the game along with its cool character design, but it also showcased Michiko Naruke's excellent Ennio Morriconene-inspired music.

If "To the End of the Wilderness" doesn't convey the deserts of Sergio Leone in your mind, then the game's brown-filled sprites and grainy sands will. It's not something that I didn't say before, but the early sprite work of the PS1 has aged much more gracefully than much of the polygonal work that later proliferated in the console, showing much more charm and beauty than what was possible with 3D graphics at the time.

That's apparent in this game as well, which goes into polygonal models in the battle mode, with some mixed results. The chibi-styling of the main characters clashes with the "realistic" and jagged designs of the enemy. In theory, these enemies may show a uniform design philosophy, but that's difficult to notice due to the haphazard nature of early 3D graphics.

What's not haphazard is the game's brilliant soundtrack, which doesn't only lean on its Spaghetti Westen roots, and instead stands on its own as a fusion of JRPG and Western music. Tracks such as "Wayfarer of the Wilderness" evoke Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold" and there is something of Clint Eastwood in "War Demon", but then there are more classical JRPG tracks such as the regal "Adelhyde Castle" to listen to as well.

In Conclusion:

As one of the first JRPGs released on the PS1, Wild Arms was remembered fondly by those who played it but was summarily forgotten when Final Fantasy VII was released to much fanfare. That was not fair to this series in my opinion, which started strongly with this game and got even stronger with the second.

It is a shame that the series never gained the following it deserved. Otherwise, we would be whistling the new tunes of its sequels today.

Final: 8/10

Pros:
  • A good story with some solid themes
  • Very good growth for the main party
  • Some brilliant scene direction
  • Solid turn-based battle system
  • The Action-Adventure gameplay in the dungeons
  • A truly brilliant soundtrack
  • Excellent and iconic opening movie
  • Very good sprite work





Cons:
  • Rudy shouldn't be a silent protagonist
  • The story sags a bit in the middle section
  • A lot of skills/magic/Arms are useless
  • Dungeon design doesn't take full advantage of the game's mechanics
  • 3D graphics in battles didn't age well




"Tips"
1- Break boxes and inspect barrels for items. Later, the radar tool makes it easier to find treasure.
2- Crest graphs are reusable, so experiment with crafting spells.
3- Talk to NPCs in town to know what to do next and for tips on optional stuff.
4- Don't sell Cecilia's items, as you can use her force skill to do some unique magic spells early on.
5- If you kill an enemy with Cecilia's Mystic force on a Bone item, you will get a guaranteed drop.
6- All other equipment can be sold.
7- There are missable optional bosses, such as one boss during the countdown in the Maze of Death.
8- Luck is extremely useful for Jack to learn skills faster, and for his multi-hit Blade art.
9- You need enough duplicator keys to progress one optional side quest, so keep some handy.
10- Stealing items is great for getting recovery items, not for getting equipment.
11- When you access the Outer Sea, explore the islands for some optional Guardians.


"Next Game"

As expected, I loved the first Wild Arms game, and it is an obvious crime that neither it nor its sequel is part of Retro Sanctuary's top 100 PS1 games list.

Next, I am going to finally finish Wild Arms 2. I have played and loved this game before, but my save was corrupted in the middle of Disc 2, and I haven't finished the game as a result. I am looking forward to finally beating the game after nearly two decades since I first played it.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer Sat Mar 09, 2024 7:13 pm

#A22(S)

Game: Wild Arms 2:-
Year: 1999, 2000.
Genre: JRPG.
Publisher: Sony.
Developer: Media.Vision, Contrail.


The Official PlayStation 1 Gaming Threads - Page 4 Wild_ARMs_2_Cover_Art

The first Wild Arms was a very good classic JRPG with a Wild West twist, and it must have been reasonably successful since this sequel was released three years later. With the release of the sequel, Wild Arms became a bonafide franchise, with many of the tropes established in the first game carried over and expanded upon here.

I originally played the game near its release but did not finish it due to my memory card getting twice corrupted, right when I reached the second disc, which must have been one hell of a coincidence. As such, I was fully expecting to absolutely love this game when I finally got the chance to finish it 24 years later. Yet, my rosy memories of the game had to contend with reality, and some serious flaws in the game kept it from being the unqualified masterpiece I thought it was as a kid.

Don't get me wrong, it still is a very good game, but I no longer think it is within the echelons of great PS1 RPGs.

"Yes, blood did get spilled. But, in an era of delusion, if someone doesn't stand up, even more blood will be shed"]

Like in the first game, you begin your adventure with a great anime opening sequence that showcases the main characters and the world of Filgaia, with excellent animation accompanied by an instrumental version of the main song: "You'll Never Be Alone". I didn't know that the song and its lyrics would be more than a cool opening sequence, but both music and theme turn out to be very important to the story, with even some lines of dialogue at the end closely mirroring the lyrics of the song.

Once the intro is over, as is now a trope of the series, you go over the introductory chapter of the game's three main characters. Unlike the first game, two more characters join the gang with an optional sixth character available in disc 2. While all characters get the chance to shine, the main character is undoubtedly Ashley Winchester, who is possessed by a demonic form early in the game; becoming extremely powerful as a result.

Other than Ash, there is Lilka; who is a ditzy mage following the footsteps of her much more talented sister, and Brad Evans; the "hero" of a fallen rebel army who is branded a criminal and hunted at the beginning of the game. Eventually, the party is joined by Tim- a kid with the magical ability to commune with the planet's Guardians- and the serious mercenary-type Kanon.

This group of diverse characters forms, under the leadership of the mysterious Lord Irvin Veleria, the international group ARMS, which is responsible for protecting the planet from the threat of an emerging terrorist organization. The conflict between ARMS and the terrorists of Odessa is the highlight of the game's story, especially since it is here that the game has some interesting things to say about the nature of politics and nationhood.

Once you go into disc 2, the story takes a nosedive thanks to the emergence of a galactic-level threat, which lacks the personality and immediacy of Odessa and is presented in gibberish pseudo-scientific techno-babble that is more distracting than enlightening. Yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that I only feel this way due to the extremely poor localization of the game.

Yes, this is one of those PS1 games which had a noticeably bad localization effort. Nearly all the hallmarks of such shoddy work are here. Missatributed dialogue, stunted words, literal but not streamlined translation, poor choice of words, grammatical errors, and a litany of other mistakes that honestly make it difficult to reflect accurately on the strength of the story.

Still, despite the way the game jumps the shark at the second disc and its terrible localization, I enjoyed the story and was invested in these characters. The central themes of "heroism" and the message that "You'll Never Walk Alone" shone through clearly, and the strength of such a diverse cast shielded me from the worst effects of the game's "dialogue".

"Bonds made in battlefield are the strongest"

Just like its predecessor, Wild Arms 2's combat is a typical turn-based battle system with little to no complications. The sequel has two major differences though: Firstly, you can replace any character with one in the reserve party at the beginning of your turn. Secondly, the MP system is entirely gone and is fully replaced with the Force Points (FP) system.

The FP system was present in the first game, where it governed your character's "Force" abilities, but it is greatly revamped here. Each battle starts with FPs based on your character levels, and you gain more points by attacking and getting attacked. Once you accumulate enough points, you can trigger your character's special abilities, from Ashley's and Brad's ARMs to Lilka's magic. Doing this does not use your accumulated FP, nor does it raise it. You only consume FP by using the powerful "Force" abilities each character has.

One thing you may have noticed with this system is that Magic can now only be used in battle, which means healing outside of battle can only be done with items. Also, due to how FPs are not consumed when using special abilities, this means that the more powerful special attacks, from stronger ARMs to crowd-controlling magic abilities are expensive and require a few turns to build up.

However, that doesn't mean random battles become a slog, as their difficulty usually tracks with your level, and as your level increases, so do the options available to you at the beginning of the battle. If anything, the game is too easy most of the time, even against the multitude of bosses you will face.

Besides the abilities that make each character unique, there are "Personal Skills" that you could increase as you level up. Of the 25 or so "Personal Skills" a few should be invested in early, and these absolutely break the early game from a difficulty point of view.

Yet, if you are craving a challenge, you could go for the masochistic experience with the game's many optional bosses.

"No matter what you do, I believe in you and will be waiting for you to come back"

Outside of combat, the franchise's penchant for puzzles in dungeons is fully on display. With five main characters, each with their own "Tools" to tackle the dungeon puzzles, it allowed the developers to craft better and bigger puzzles than they did before.

Indeed, if the dungeons in the first game were a proof of concept, then the dungeons here are that concept fully realized. Many dungeons have multiple levels of puzzles, with some even adding in a text puzzle to solve (which is an unintended difficulty thanks to the terrible localization).

Different from the first game is an extended focus on exploration. With a fully 3D map and multiple ways of travel, you are encouraged to roam around the world looking to complete an extensive bestiary as well as engage in some cool optional quests. Most of those quests involve some optional dungeons with a Guardian item within or those uber-powerful optional bosses I mentioned, but one quest has you recruit the secret sixth character.

With multiple systems to deal with, since each character has a different upgrade system for their special abilities, a lot of optional content, and fun gameplay elements both inside and outside combat, Wild Arms 2 is engaging throughout the game.

"When we meet such grave danger, nothing should keep us apart. I wonder when it was I forgot that true strength comes from joining together?"

Released early in the PS1's lifecycle, the first Wild Arms had the good luck to depend heavily on classical sprite graphics outside of battles. Released 3 years later, Wild Arms 2 could have fallen into the trap of leaning too far into polygonal graphics that wouldn't stand the test of time.

Thankfully, that's not the case here. Character models outside of battle still retain a charming sprite look that is a bit taller and more detailed than the first game, and the 3D world is simply designed so that it doesn't show its age.

As with the first game, the graphics are fully 3D when going into battle, and these have been massively improved over the first game, even if they do show their age. Yet, you can be sure that it is due to these polygonal graphics that developers managed to cram in so many unique-looking monsters and bosses in the game. Sure, not all of them are well-designed, but variety has its merits.

Finally, let's discuss the game's soundtrack by Michiko Naruke, which is another soundtrack that is inspired by Spaghetti Western music, but also with the series's focus on a retrofuturistic setting. While most of my memories of the game were of excellent tracks such as the two opening songs, "Field-Wandering", and "Battle-Knight Blazer", I forgot that the soundtrack has a lot of duds. Rather, to be more accurate, one of the game's worst tracks is also one of its most frequent; "Battle- VS Mid-Boss" plays against all non-special bosses and it is an atrocious track.

It is a shame that the game's soundtrack isn't as uniformly brilliant as the first game.

In Conclusion:

Finally finishing this game 24 years later, I understand why I fell in love with it the first time I played it, but I am also apprehensive of some flaws that I couldn't see at the time. The story is cool at first, especially thanks to a strong cast of characters, but it is let down by some seriously bad localization job. The gameplay is simple but fun both inside and outside of combat, but it is very easy to remove any challenge from the game. The graphics and music are great, except when the polygons get too jagged and a bad tune repeats one time too many.

Yet, the game is filled with the unique style of the Wild Arms franchise in nearly everything it does. That unique style is the reason I still remember the first time I played the game, and the first time I saw that opening movie and knew, despite the instrumental version having no lyrics, that I will never be alone.

Final: 8/10

Pros:
  • A good story with some solid themes
  • Very good growth for the main party
  • Some brilliant scene direction
  • Solid turn-based battle system
  • The Action-Adventure gameplay in the dungeons
  • Brilliant opening movies
  • Good combination of sprite work and 3D graphics
  • A seriously expansive bestiary





Cons:
  • Atrocious localization effort
  • A confusing second act made more confusing by shoddy dialogue
  • Lack of challenge outside of a few bosses and the extremely tough optional bosses
  • Obtuse solution to some puzzles
  • Jagged 3D graphics in some cases
  • The soundtrack is weaker than the first game




"Tips"
1- Don't use healing gems in dungeons unless you need them later.
2- When buying equipment, prioritize the defense of Lilka and Tim.
3- The best Personal Skills are UP HP, and then UP Physical/Magical Defense.
4- Up Parameter is a good secondary Personal Skill to unlock.
5- To increase the difficulty, don't equip the latest equipment.
6- There is no need to upgrade the accuracy of Brad's ARMS.
7- Pay attention to enemies that can help you grind for gold.
8- Pay attention to items you can steal.
9- Unlock the bestiary album by finding the curious village.
10- Destroy boss parts for more gold and exp.
11- You can change equipment in battle.
12- Use the pickpocket action on bosses and enemies for restorative items.
13- When the exclamation point turns green, it means a new enemy will appear.


"Next Game"

I was afraid that Wild Arms 2 wouldn't live up to my memory of it, but despite its obvious shortcomings, it did do that. I enjoyed it greatly and I am happy to have finished it after all of that time.

Next, I am going to play another Resident Evil inspire game, Galerians, which I think has a total of FOUR DISCS. That's a lot of space for a supposedly short game, so I expect a lot of cinematics. Hopefully, the game is good as well.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Vibe Wed Mar 27, 2024 10:11 am

Since LS refuses to review Winning Eleven and give me that nostalgic throwback, I decided to evoke that nostalgia myself.

Bought a PS1 but I had trouble burning games and it's impossible to find an original disc and honestly it looked like trash on a 50+ inch TV, so I went for duckstation on PC and downloaded ISS 2.

Man, was it worth it Proud I started a Master League save immediately, decided to buy only ex Inter players, so far we have:

Toldo
Zanetti - Blanc - Samuel - Carlos

Recoba - Batistuta - Ronaldo

I put Carlos in attack though, he has 19 speed and 19 shot power, he scores a shitload. Batistuta is also crazy with 19 shot power and 19 accuracy, most shots are goals. Ronaldo is the top scorer though, best player in the game. Batistuta the top assister since main way of scoring is a 1-2 from the WF to the CF, so the main striker is more of a provider really.

Loving it so far, will probably replace Batistuta with Vieri because he's more of an Inter guy, Batistuta was there only briefly when he was old. Need to buy some midfield as well.

So still to buy:

Peruzzi as backup GK
Cannavaro, Cordoba, Matthaus and Panucci for defense
Simeone, Almeyda, Di Biagio and Stankovic for defensive midfield
Veron, Baggio and Djorkaeff for offensive midfield
Vieri, Crespo and maybe Hakan Sukur upfront.
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Post by Vibe Wed Mar 27, 2024 10:35 am

Also downloaded Sheep, Dog n Wolf, a personal favorite, playing it with family, they love it Proud

Bugs Bunny - Lost in Time next. Or was it Time Busters hmm
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Post by Warrior Wed Mar 27, 2024 4:07 pm

Is the game better than eFootball ? :coffee:
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Post by Vibe Wed Mar 27, 2024 5:35 pm

For it's time, yes, absolutely.

After playing it for a couple of days though, I tried eFootball again and it looked like the most sophisticated simulation handcrafted by gods themselves, everything was so smooth and beatiful, I could't believe my eyes.

Perspective is everything.
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Post by Warrior Wed Mar 27, 2024 6:03 pm

It's odd how i remember thinking the NHL, Madden, Fifa of the early 00s seemed so realistic at the time, almost like a real sports broadcast. In fact it was really primitive compared to today's graphics. Yet those old sports games were better imo, more effort was put into it back then, more content and not only revolving around online.

The PS1 Twisted Metals were available on PSN Premium Extra Plus and i played for the first time in like 15 years. Of course they aged terribly Laughing i've played more sophisticated games on my cellphone
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