Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Harrow
Jun 30, 2012



5-Headed Snake God posted:

The SaGa series has undergone something of a revival in recent years. It's gotten a new game, a lovely mobile gacha game, and two of its more well-like entries, Romancing SaGa 2 & 3, have gotten enhanced rereleases. But their predecessor, the original Romancing SaGa, also received an enhanced remake that made it to the West, and it's one I dearly love.


This lovely, low-res image was the best I could find. It's really underappreciated.

Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song came out when I was a sophomore in college and I fell deep into it. I don't think I finished the game with every protagonist, but I did get into manipulating event ranks so I could see all the side quests and it was probably the only game I played for over a month. Absolutely love that game, and I'm glad you already linked Passionate Rhythm because that song slaps.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

mistermojo
Jul 3, 2004



f#a# posted:

I want to write about NieR: Automata, Thief II: The Metal Age, Bloodborne and maybe a few more under-the-radar games like Universal Paperclips or DUSK, but for now, this is the one that popped up as near-and-dear to my heart.

Rain World




Matthewmatosis Recommending Video

Rain World is so good, I love it. though its too bad they made the first few areas semi-open and gated behind karma which you turned a lot of people off when most of the game is kind of a linear adventure (iirc half the gates dont even require more than one level of karma). the ending is incredible too

my favorite part is when you're climbing the tower and youre dodging these weird octopuses and when you get inside and find the gravity tech, those same octopuses have fused with the environment and stretched their tentancles everywhere

Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Not enough people gushing about their favorites itt imo. It's nice and cozy to sit down with a cup of tea and type out a rant about something you love!
-----

I loving love Super Hexagon. It is probably the closest to a perfect game that I can think of. There are only two flaws in it: the first is that there is no in-game volume slider, and the game default is very loud. The second is that the announcer saying "Begin" sounds a lot like "Again" - most players hear the latter, I think. I had to really look for these two flaws, frankly. They're not real flaws.

But drat, the game is so good. I love how so much of the difficulty comes from relatively subtle things: a slightly different movement speed or the colors suddenly inverting after 60 seconds, for example. It took me a long time to understand why the very last stage, the black & white, was so difficult despite the speed and patterns being exactly the same. The game zooms in a tiny bit and stops rotating, which gives you far less time to spot the gaps in the patterns as they come in. It's such a neat little trick.

I love little details like how the music, which is amazing, doesn't always start at the beginning of a track, but rather at a random spot. Keeps it from being predictable considering how often you restart. I love what it does to the player psychologically. At a certain point, after many hours of play, you'll be so in tune with the patterns and so familiar with the music that you'll be able to consistently predict when you're about to hit the next stage just by where the music is. And that will be your downfall, sometimes. Because you know your record is, say, 47 seconds, and you know that you're about to break it even if you can't spare the briefest of glances at the timer. So your heart starts racing, you get nervous, and you die at 45 seconds like a chump. And instantly restart. Begin. Again.

I think my favorite detail is how the announcer goes silent after 60 seconds. In the first minute you're always anticipating the next stage - Line, Triangle, Square, Pentagon, Hexagon. And then there's nothing. It's just you, the patterns, and the music. For a game that is so laser-focused on pure gameplay it actually manages to evoke a bit of... loneliness? As if you've suddenly been abandoned. She comes back, briefly, at one point - if you make it far enough. But still.

I have 100 hours in this game. I haven't played it in years, but I know my muscle memory will come back pretty quickly if I ever go back.

And this is not my video, it was linked on the game's Steam forum a few years ago and it is just so perfect and adorable, it never fails to make me laugh. Someone's kid playing Super Hexagon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGe2cS-1tqM

Shine
Feb 26, 2007

No Muscles For The Majority


Glare Seethe posted:

I loving love Super Hexagon. It is probably the closest to a perfect game that I can think of.

I own this, somehow, but haven't played it. Probably was part of a bundle at some point. I'll give it a go later!

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


Jerusalem posted:

I also hit a brick wall with Anniversary, I absolutely adored the original Tomb Raider and played the hell out of it on... gently caress, what even was the console? A Sega Saturn maybe? But I hit a point in Anniversary where the camera would switch direction PRECISELY on the moment of making a jump from a giant climb up a set of walls, and so whatever direction you were pushing in would suddenly reverse and Lara would plummet to her death.

I would try pushing in the other direction but the camera cut wouldn't happen, and it got so bad I figured I must be doing something wrong and looked it up online and found a bunch of people complaining of the same problem but a bunch more saying they never saw anything like that happen, so I have no idea what the gently caress :shrug:

It's a shame because even tough the graphics are far from cutting edge, it was nice to play a somewhat "modern" version of such a fantastic game as the original Tomb Raider.
The original Tomb Raider is one of my all-time favourite games (on release, it felt like a solid, believable world in a way like nothing else, and the atmosphere of Lara exploring these vast, complex spaces with only the faint echo of her footsteps for company - at least until Bad poo poo came down - was incredibly immersive). I still play it every so often now. Anniversary, though...

I wanted to like it, but A: this Lara might be more realistic in character, but she's not nearly as cool as the original (and they had a key emotional moment being her literally having blood on her hands :rolleyes: ), and B: those loving spinning blades in Egypt, where if you don't have the stick precisely lined up on every single jump you die, killed any desire ever to play it again.

Jerusalem posted:

My first ever complete playthrough, my first soldier who was the sole survivor of the tutorial mission became the first guy to successfully get psi-powers, and ended up being the final soldier who does the thing in the final mission of the campaign. It was perfection, sheer perfection :shobon:
Same here. I named my initial squad after Formula 1 TV presenters of the day, and Jake Humphrey somehow survived the entire game - even though he was the last man standing on the final level and spent an awful lot of time peering around corners as a far greater number of aliens hunted him down

Ms Adequate
Oct 29, 2011

Baby even when I'm dead and gone
You will always be my only one, my only one
When the night is calling
No matter who I become
You will always be my only one, my only one, my only one
When the night is calling





I am going to talk about Suikoden II.

I didn't even know there was going to be a Suikoden II until I purchased Vandal Hearts 2 about two weeks earlier and found a demo disc inside. I played that demo before I played the real-rear end game I actaully got my grandma to buy for me, and I was instantly completely in love and insistent on getting another new game in a mere two weeks (which was a WILD thing to hope for outside of Christmas season). I had played S1 a good deal and loved it, but the demo for 2 was so colorful, visually crisp, with such fantastic music, that I could immediately tell it was going to blow the first one out of the water.

What I did not expect was that it would become one of my most beloved games ever, one that I still absolutely adore over two decades later. Suikoden II is a tour de force in almost every single aspect - it is much larger and grander than its predecessor, but like that one, keeps things primarily to a single country and the political events therein. The central plot concerns a major war, but it is a war for one place on a large continent, not for the whole world or universe like so many other JRPGs. (The stakes get a little more complicated towards the end but it stems from the means people use to try and win the war). Keeping these stakes allows for them to feel all the more important, because you have been to every place involved, you see in the game as the tides of war change the effects of occupation on busy and prosperous cities, and you get to know the people involved intimately. This does primarily feature your Suikoden-typical 108 potential recruits, but even randos who don't get a portrait can have their little comments that fill things in, grousing about the occupation messing with their business for example. And a great deal of the game is spent trying to shore up an alliance against the invading Highland headed by one of the best protagonists in gaming, Luca Blight (One of the very few times a murderous rear end in a top hat crazy bastard has really worked for me; you will fanatically hate him for the trauma he inflicts on Pilika) and they all have different concerns and fears. Some are already trying to subvert the enemy as best they can and join up eagerly, others have been dithering or distracted by internal matters, and so on. It all adds up to a real feeling of time and place with a lot of very believable people doing very believable things.

It also brings back a number of characters from Suikoden I, some in prominent roles (Such as Flik and Viktor who are now even more badass), and this does a really great job of providing continuity and fleshing out the wider world while still allowing for a new story in a new location. Deeply cool to go back to the capital of the first game and see what they're doing there now that their war has been over for a couple of years.

The combat system is effective and punchy, with lots of camera zooms and screen effects doing a great deal to make things feel dynamic. You have the usual set of RPG options, attacks, magic, etc., as well as special attacks where party members team up for impressive powerful attacks, and largely secret magical combos. Preparation can make a big difference too, and can dramatically change the difficulty of some battles, in a nice way that rarely makes such things mandatory but keeps them beneficial enough to be worth the bother. Still, the gameplay is not really where the game's greatest strengths lie, I would characterize it as good to very good, but nothing revolutionary or genre-defining. It's the story and characters, as well as the overall presentation, that makes Suikoden II such a classic.

As I alluded to, the game is aesthetically striking. It hooked me instantly, colorful and vibrant.



That's the kind of brightness that's going on in S2, but even in much darker scenes such as nighttime, or underground, or on a foggy mountain, it retains an exceptionally cohesive visual design that makes everything frankly gorgeous. Even on my grandma's old-rear end CRT in the late 90s it looked fantastic. They did wonderful things with primarily sprites and some polygon work, and it has stuck with me ever since. Not, however, as much as the music. This game has one of the GOAT soundtracks to any video game. It is sublime in essentially every last note and bar. As far as I'm concerned Miki Higashino is easily the equal of the much bigger names in the industry. Just listen to some of these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJtm9L7JCHs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHaqMvcGCjw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS6pf-k7ro8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCdJXTmYFu0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCJe12vKtlk

Listen to this world map theme!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaspEKH8Y8o

Doesn't it make you feel like journeying and adventuring??

And of course there's the absolute loving next level Year 3000 Banger that is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYY_FYq_R2w

It is regrettable for gamers that Higashino left the industry, but I guess when your output is the above, you've kind of won at music and can do other stuff.

Now, downsides that I will confess do sadly exist - First, though the translation is a bit stronger than the OG it's still pretty drat rough in places, to the point of occasional incomprehensibility (Nothing plot critical that I can recall, just side stuff or random interjections). There's a rather infamous bug that cuts out a couple of music tracks during particularly important scenes, leading to silence instead, though only in the NA version, so my PAL rear end for once got the better end of the stick. And for my own personal tastes there's really only one piece of endgame bonus content, and the extent to which you could call it that is debatable, as it's really just something new in a place you've already been through (And hinges on you carrying over a save file from Suikoden 1 where you got the good ending). Given how much I love the games and world I would dearly love Suikoden to have, like, serious bonus side/endgame/postgame content, but sadly that is not something the series has ever gone in for to any meaningful degree. The 'side' content instead revolves around the huge number of characters to recruit and some of them having their own stories going on to get involved in. And, to get the best ending more or less requires a guide, partly because you need all 108 Stars of Destiny (As is the case in all Suikodens) but also because there's one part where, unlike any other place in the game, you've got to do some reaction-based button pressing without any indication you should or even can.

But these are very minor letdowns in a tremendously good game. Suikoden is a beloved series by its fans, and most (Not all, but most) will call Suikoden 2 the best of the series. The strength of this series was such that, when the spiritual successor Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes hit Kickstarter a few months ago, with heavy involvement from Suikoden devs and being made by Yoshitaka Murayama, producer, writer, and developer of S1 and S2 - and fulfilling the same roles here - it hit its funding target in two hours, ended up reaching almost half a billion yen (about $4.6 million USD), hit every single stretch goal, and became the third most successful video game kickstarter to date. Some of the stretch goals strongly imply the kind of extra end/side content I want so I'm particularly pleased! It's due to hit in October 2022 and I'm very eager.

Thank you all for your attention, I would die and kill for Nanami.

Vandar
Sep 13, 2007

Isn't That Right, Chairman?





Suikoden II is fuckin' awesome and that fact that it's not mentioned in the same breath as a lot of other JRPGs like the Final Fantasies and Chrono Trigger and such is a goddamn crime.

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

how may i dook on this parade?



Pork Pro

Vandar posted:

Suikoden II is fuckin' awesome and that fact that it's not mentioned in the same breath as a lot of other JRPGs like the Final Fantasies and Chrono Trigger and such is a goddamn crime.

tbf people don't mention it mainly because virtually no one outside japan was able to play it until like 15 years after it released

Ms Adequate
Oct 29, 2011

Baby even when I'm dead and gone
You will always be my only one, my only one
When the night is calling
No matter who I become
You will always be my only one, my only one, my only one
When the night is calling





BeanpolePeckerwood posted:

tbf people don't mention it mainly because virtually no one outside japan was able to play it until like 15 years after it released

Yeah it didn't have a huge production run and I have no clue how a random Electronics Boutique (F) in Belfast managed to score some copies.

anakha
Sep 16, 2009





The Suikoden II PC port is available for free so I'll probably check it out later this year. Haven't touched that game in two decades but i remember enjoying it a lot.

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




Hell yea Suikoden 2 is for sure top 10 jrpgs of all time. Maybe even in the top 5. The music absolutely slaps. I had a good moment when I was watching Tim Roger's video on Tokimeki Memorial where I realised all of a sudden "hey this game's got Suikoden music!" because of course it does!

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




BeanpolePeckerwood posted:

tbf people don't mention it mainly because virtually no one outside japan was able to play it until like 15 years after it released

Was it really that rare of a game? I still have my ps1 discs of suikoden 1 and 2 buried in a box in the basement of my dads old house which he still owns but doesn't live at anymore

Jay Rust
Sep 27, 2011



Suikoden 2 is definitely the first game I’ve encountered that features an implied blowjob scene

No Wave
Sep 18, 2005

Yogg-Saron fan #1


fridge corn posted:

Was it really that rare of a game? I still have my ps1 discs of suikoden 1 and 2 buried in a box in the basement of my dads old house which he still owns but doesn't live at anymore
My recollection is it commanded a very high price at places you could sell your used games to. I only knew one kid who owned it (and was proud of it).

Xarbala
Feb 13, 2011






I have different picks for memorable Suiko2 music, though I will say Gothic Neclord is definitely memorable.

This is one of my favorite tracks but I will admit, to my embarrassment, that for a number of years I forgot it was from Suikoden and spent some time scouring youtube playlists for various jrpg osts looking for it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bHIu3iUjQQ
(but the standard version of the track had the telltale suiko2 vocal accompaniment so more fool me)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=595nmwHehjE


The Suiko1 version of this next track in entangled with some bittersweet memories of the nighttime scene with Odessa, and I won't lie, a lot of why it's one of my favorite tracks is because of the first game, but that's got to count for something.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQKRp2vQESY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgiZiS14xhg


Also the opening was pretty incredible for its time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f4eGQ9MIWM

FlowerRhythmREMIX
Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo


Suikoden II is one of my favorite games ever, and glad others feel the same.


This is my favorite piece of music from the game, and is something I still get caught in my head despite not playing the game in about seventeen years.

Captain_Indigo
Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"



There are two wolves inside me. One is wanting to write a passionate love letter to the Guilty Gear franchise. The other knows nobody cares and it will be a horrendous labour.

FlowerRhythmREMIX
Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo


Choose the first wolf

Harrow
Jun 30, 2012



Captain_Indigo posted:

There are two wolves inside me. One is wanting to write a passionate love letter to the Guilty Gear franchise. The other knows nobody cares and it will be a horrendous labour.

This thread is here specifically so that first wolf can just go nuts

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




Not suikoden 2 but since we're on a suikoden tune kick cant help but post this one


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCugLdA8NUU

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


fridge corn posted:

Was it really that rare of a game? I still have my ps1 discs of suikoden 1 and 2 buried in a box in the basement of my dads old house which he still owns but doesn't live at anymore

It was essentially the Panzer Dragoon Saga of the PlayStation until it's digital re-release.

VideoGames
Aug 18, 2003

^I am SO sorry^


2021 COMPLETED GAMES:
DS1, DS2, DS3, Sekiro,
TLG, NuDeS, TLOU/Left Behind,
TLOUII, Outer Wilds, Returnal,
Obra Dinn, FFVIIRemake + Intergrade, It Takes Two
Deathloop, Alien Isolation, Until Dawn


The Tomb Raider Series and why I love Anniversary The Most

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIWLT0QVPzw

I hum this music a lot. There are a ton of video game musics that I hum when I see pictures or posts that involve them but there are a small number that I just hum because they make me feel good.

Super Mario Brothers 2 first level is one, the early version of Jungle Challenge from Yooka-Laylee, Planet Wisp from Sonic Colours, The End of the World YorHa edition from Nier:Automata and from up above, the theme to Tomb Raider 1.

The music of the early Tomb Raider games (1-Underworld) are the reason why I completely and utterly fell in love with these games. They are definitely more than a few tracks but my love of this series is inextricably linked to what I did in my efforts to listen to it and how the music has impacted other things that I do in my life. So here, have a one hour version of what I believe to be the very best track in all of Tomb Raider and put it on in the background while I attempt to explain why Tomb Raider Anniversary is high up in my top 30 games of all time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqtgGUEZbA

The first Tomb Raider came out in 1996. It was on the short lived Saturn as well as the long lived Playstation and it would be a revelation in gaming to young me. Mostly because at that particular time I was still playing 2D platformers and side scrollers on my MegaDrive while occasionally dipping my toes into Wolf3D and Space Quest 1-3 on my old 386 PC.

My very good friend, D, had gotten a PlayStation about a year earlier and because most weekends I would spend at his house, this was the only way I could experience the modern games.

His Dad was always ahead of the curve with tech and I remember the day he showed me cable TV, a powerful laptop and both his apple mac and big tower PC. We even rented DVDs because his big tower PC had a DVD player!! We would sit on uncomfortable chairs in the hallway and watch them enthralled that we were doing what we had seen on sci-fi programs! That the local video store only had a few to choose from did not deter us. One weekend we rented Sphere and Nothing to Lose. Nothing to lose indeed.

My exposure to modern games (until I got a playstation a few months after this event) meant it was only the kinds of games that D liked that I would see. He and I differed quite drastically when it came to this and back when he had a MegaDrive, he loaned me a few games that he was gifted for birthdays that he hated knowing I would love them. One of them is Kid Chameleon, which also features in my top 30.



When our gaming aligned, however, it really aligned and Tomb Raider was an example. I had arrived at his house and he told me he had a game to show me.
I still recall, vividly, getting up to his room and him turning on the TV and it booting up to the menu. He had to go grab something from downstairs, so he left me alone while I sat and listened to the opening theme. That violin opening followed by the full song blossoming was enchanting. It captivated me completely and remains one of my all time most favourite pieces of music from a game.

Why that specific piece of music more than others?

It links back to a particularly dumb story. In 1993 I was 11 years old and had just discovered a way to get our ancient video recorder recording. My parents were not tech savvy and we were not well off, so both their lounge TV and my bedroom TV were connected to the same aerial and our VCR was an old top loader whose remote control was wired. We only had four TV channels so there was not a lot to watch and I would occasionally set my videos going at 8:00pm and leave them recording until they finished and then watch random stuff for fun. I discovered a program I can no longer remember the name of, but was highly invested in at the time and had watched parts 1 and 2 a few weeks earlier.

The final part was on one evening, but being only 11 I had two videos I used over and over and little space to record the whole evening like usual (as I had been saving things and waking up at specific times to get more programs). Part 2 I am sure ended on a wild cliffhanger so I needed to see the end of part 3. The day came and I made sure to get my video ready and an alarm to wake me to set it at the right time so all would be well.
I woke up late. I frantically ran to the VCR and hit record and managed to record the credits of the last episode. For a number of years that was all I had. The first two parts and then the end credits, with no closure whatsoever. The end credits had a particular style of music and in the intervening years I listened to it a lot and formulated my own ending.

It sort of haunted me that I missed the end of the show and back then it was not easy to find or do anything about, so aside from remembering the music I let go of it and moved on....until the day I walked into D’s room and heard the theme to Tomb Raider 1. It sounded so similar I immediately wondered if there was a link. Along I listened to that awesome theme and was reminded of the fact I had become so invested in something and it made me want to play the game.



And play the game we did. D had a habit of buying a game, playing through it, and then getting me to play it when I came over and sitting and watching me stumble or succeed. Tomb Raider was one of the few times he was stuck and wanted to see what I could do first. So that Saturday I sat down to play what would become one of my most favourite games of all time. To say I was unprepared was an understatement. That opening level entering the Tibetan tomb was the first time I realised Games could be this way. It sounds ridiculous now after 25 years of gaming, but it genuinely captivated me in a way I knew I had to get a playstation for this game.

The long hallways, the traps, the whistling winds and creaks of the old tomb, the secrets hidden amongst outcrops, everything about this game was unique to young me. You could hold onto the edges of blocks and shimmy along. You could jump or run jump and you could make different kinds of leaps.
Lara controlled so well despite using an interface that lacked analogue sticks. The look button being on one of the shoulders while everything else revolved around the d-pad meant that the level design was accommodating of it and it worked in her favour. Areas were comprised of squares and arranged to best resemble the tombs the designers had envisaged. You could always figure out where and when to jump if you paid attention to the seams in the layout.

My very favourite level was St. Francis’ Folly. My bestie and I, upon first entering the room with the spire, gasped. It was the first time we had played a game where the level was so big the system could not render it.

We called it ‘The Room’. Even now we will occasionally say “Hey! Remember the room?” And we know we are instinctively talking about a level in TR and not a film by Tommy Wiseau.



Looking down from the very top you would just see shadow that would eventually uncover as you worked your way down the tower. Each section had its own puzzle room relating to old mythology and the Damocles room evoked terror because of those swords in the ceiling. This whole level was simply a series of puzzles, bat fights and gorilla fights around a spire.

I had seen slowdown before, but deliberately making a level that stretched the rendering of a console was new to me and that dark shadow was tremendously effective in making me feel that there was a grandness to the level.

All the while, exploring these majestic areas and raiding expansive underground tombs there was the echoing footsteps, the ambient whistling of wind and the occasional but effective music. That theme had two more ‘versions’; one that was composed of the first half of the song and one that was the second half but edited in both the beginning and end so as not just a cut up pair of tracks.

The music use sticks with me. Never overplayed and always at moments when you knew something important or fun was going to happen and foreshadowed by the little spin of the CD in the PlayStation.

I did not complete the game while at D’s house in my first sitting, (unlike RE2 but that is for another ramble) however my parents bought a PlayStation for the whole family a few weeks later, then a few months later on my birthday I got a copy of TR1 for myself. From that point I became glued to the game.

You can imagine the joy I felt when I discovered that every single piece of music (including the voiced audio from cutscenes and the ambience of caves) from the game was stored as separate tracks on the CD. You could put the CD in any player and listen to the music to your hearts content. I would. I would put the PlayStation into music mode and play the theme song on repeat while I cleaned my room or did my homework.

Slowly over the course of a month I beat Tomb Raider - a few weeks before D did. He had put it down in the end Mines and said he was no longer enjoying it the way he had at the start. For me the game never let up. If I had made game lists back then, it would have been my second favourite game ever. Super Mario Bros 3 had the top slot for a few years and would take decades to be toppled but Tomb Raider 1 made the strongest case up until that point.

What does all of this have to do with Anniversary though?



Well, when I say I think Tomb Raider Anniversary is the best Tomb Raider, I want you to know just how much I have given this proper thought. From Tomb Raider 1 all the way up until Tomb Raider Age of Darkness I got the newest game on or a few days after my birthday. I would then do nothing but play that game till the end.

I even played and completed Tomb Raider 3 while unknowingly having bronchitis and it was me collapsing in my beanbag during the London segments that got my parents to take me to the hospital. Not that I was ignoring my health, just that I thought I was tired and trying to stay awake to finish the subway levels.

I was stupidly obsessed with raiding tombs and each subsequent game was an attempt to capture the levels that TR1 had created for me.
All themes from TR2 onwards were good. They were slight riffs on that original theme, but never quite straying too far to make it special possibly from fear of alienating fans. The gameplay also had the occasional beef ups like Lara’s hair moving, more weapons, better save points, revamped Croft Manor, bigger environments. However by the time they had reached Chronicles it was obvious that Core were burnt out.
Age of Darkness was a mess but an interesting one. The music was again riffs on the original theme but this time played by a real orchestra and while the story and gameplay was all over the place, the music again stuck with me. Oh to hear TR1’s theme played with as much gusto and care as Age of Darkness’ amazing theme.

Four years passes before we are given Tomb Raider Legend and amazingly it is a hit. This was not expected considering the diminishing returns brought about by almost all previous games but was true. It featured a better style of movement, more realistic looking environments, greater depth to the exploration, grander puzzles and the music was pretty nice. I liked it. If I had to rate it I would give it a B+. A very good entry. I was excited to see where the story was going.

Then in 2007 we got Tomb Raider Anniversary.



Well.

I am usually quite wary of remakes and I can say the vast majority of them miss something. Usually it is an attempt to give games contemporary graphics more than anything, but graphics do not make a game and a strong art direction trumps the modern style of the time. Mario Brothers 3 is still a fantastic game that pushes the NES to the limits of what it was capable of. Recreating it in the NSMB engine would do nothing for it at all.
I went into this game with apprehension. A remake of my favourite Tomb Raider as well as my second favourite game ever better be stellar. There was so much to get right and was it even possible.

Obviously me writing all these rambling passages is a confirmation that they did but you cannot blame me for being a little dramatic.

I love this game. I love everything it does, everything it enhances and everything it modifies. Even now, fourteen years later, I will break it out and give it a play through. All those aspects of TR1 that were dear to me are still here, only they have been improved.

The Room still exists, complete with almost non viewable bottom floor. (I think that was the second thing I was desperate to see!). It has the same structure as the original in both level design and plot but it runs with them more. Rather than just slapping a new coat of graphics, it makes tweaks and changes that you would expect to find now that they are using the newer Legend engine.



Lara’s movement is fantastic and all those moves your brain would make you see in the blocky world of TR1 was defined and visible within game. Climbing is no longer a case of running up to the wall, making Lara ‘oof’ as she faceplants, and then pressing jump to grab a ledge and pull yourself up or shuffle sideways.

Those walls you saw 10 years previous have been redone to allow for the Legend engine to let you climb around them. To make you the master of the terrain without losing what made the original experience one of a kind.

The story is still the same plot from TR1 but it has now been given some trails that tie it in to Legend and the subsequent game Underworld without feeling like it was done for fun or as part of a jumbled mess. These little strings of plot are there and avoidable if you never played Legend or Underworld.
Dialogue has been changed a lot but the voice actress playing Lara (Keeley Hawes) absolutely nails the role and of all the voices Lara has had, she is my favourite. While I can recall quite vividly those lines from the first and am sad a few no longer exist (“You have my total attention now. I’m not quite sure I’ve got yours though. Hello?”) the increase of the story beats leading it to being more cinematic means that Hawes has more of a chance to show off her range and ultimately shine.

I think the temptation to go really all out and completely revamp everything that was great about TR1 was probably there in Crystal Dynamics mind but they remade with restraint and I appreciate it more and more. Keeping the rough structure, the story and adding onto it with secrets and a slight rejigging of some of the later levels works for me.

Keeping the tone and loneliness of TR1 was something they could have rolled back on after their success with Legend and Zip and Allistair, but they did not and it shows a tremendous amount of care towards the source material.

Playing it takes me back to when it was one of the most important games I had played and that is a feeling I will keep revisiting for as long as I can play it.



Lastly, I need to talk about the music.

If you did leave that YouTube video I suggested at the start playing the whole time you read this jumbled mess of positive thoughts then
a) Wonderful! I hope it was as relaxing for you as it is for me and
b) This is how I spend my hours writing both creatively and for work.

When booting up Anniversary for the first time, I had hoped upon hope that the music was not changed too drastically. That memory I shared earlier is one of my most vivid in relation to gaming and I did not want Anniversary to have changed it too drastically.

Hearing an orchestral version of the TR1 theme rendered almost exactly as it was sent the younger me soaring. I did not think it possible to take that piece of music and add onto it whilst still retaining everything that made the original so good. The little flourishes and added notes are a joy. If I had to have a piece of music replace the original, then this was that piece of music.

Croft Manor, the 1 hour extended version I linked up above, was for me the pinnacle of the whole Tomb Raider soundtrack. Croft Manor had always been a fun extra alongside the early tomb raider games. It was a tutorial section inside Lara’s stately home. A load of crash mats to learn the movement, places to walk around and the occasional secret. Even a quad bike course in TR3.

Croft Manor in Anniversary was more than that and almost its own other game. It had the tutorial sections and the outside assault course but it was packed with secrets to find and hidden doors and corridors throughout the mansion while still retaining that aspect of discovery. All the while, while you searched the mansion completely alone, this music played.

You know when something clicks and you struggle to articulate exactly why?

Exploring the secrets of Croft Manor in Anniversary was one of my game clicks. The layout, the secrets, the traps, the music, the movement, the graphics, everything came together as one and showed me why I had followed a game series for 10 years.
Every little thing it did pushed every other little thing upwards in tandem until I realised I had lost hours messing about in an area that was not even the main game. All the while accompanied by music so beautiful that it helped open my creative thoughts. There are few games I have played where I lose time in such a fashion.

I use that track (my own looped and extended MP3 that I created) at home whenever I need to be in a specific kind of zone. I have played it hundreds of thousands of times and it never wears itself out.



Without Anniversary I would not have a piece of music that matter so much in how I work. I would not have a tangible link to the way an old game made me feel. I would not have one of the best remakes of all time.

Anniversary means something very personal to me and if these tangled sentences have conveyed even a percent of how I feel about it, then I will consider this tomb, raided.

Harrow
Jun 30, 2012



VideoGames posted:

My very favourite level was St. Francis’ Folly. My bestie and I, upon first entering the room with the spire, gasped. It was the first time we had played a game where the level was so big the system could not render it.

We called it ‘The Room’. Even now we will occasionally say “Hey! Remember the room?” And we know we are instinctively talking about a level in TR and not a film by Tommy Wiseau.

There's something about early 3D graphics and rendering limits that just does wonderful things to a game's sense of scale. Reading these sentences reminded me of when I first played EverQuest, way back in like 2000 or 2001. I never really got into the game for any length of time--another early MMO, Nexus: Kingdom of the Winds, had my heart--but its huge world absolutely blew me away. I was used to RPGs with big worlds, but they were always in that JRPG "overworld map" style, never something so fully open. And Nexus was 2D and had relatively small maps.

One time a buddy came over and we just messed around creating characters in EQ and running around the world just to see stuff. We got on a ship to sail from one continent to the other and were astonished that it wasn't just a teleport--that we'd be on the deck of the ship, moving through an actually-rendered sea with islands popping in and out as they got close enough to render. (Then I fell off the boat and swam around the open ocean and died on an island full of ogres, but that's another thing.) Reading about The Room you mentioned here made me think about that sense of wonder and scale and just how exciting it all was.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



VideoGames posted:

Anniversary means something very personal to me and if these tangled sentences have conveyed even a percent of how I feel about it, then I will consider this tomb, raided.

Fantastic write-up and yes I played the music all the way through it :)

But please for the love of God tell me you tracked down episode 3 of that show you wanted to record! :f5:

Ms Adequate
Oct 29, 2011

Baby even when I'm dead and gone
You will always be my only one, my only one
When the night is calling
No matter who I become
You will always be my only one, my only one, my only one
When the night is calling





First, hell yeah more Suikoden lovers! I had to restrain myself with the soundtrack because otherwise I could have linked to half the tracks on there! Suikoden I did also have some great tunes, and the ones that appear in more than one Suikoden are iconic.

Second, what a wonderful writeup about TR :allears: When I was reading about St. Francis' Folly I immediately remembered the level you meant despite not playing TR since the late 90s and never playing Anniversary. There are a few moments and locations in that game that are astonishingly memorable.

Third,

Harrow posted:

There's something about early 3D graphics and rendering limits that just does wonderful things to a game's sense of scale. Reading these sentences reminded me of when I first played EverQuest, way back in like 2000 or 2001. I never really got into the game for any length of time--another early MMO, Nexus: Kingdom of the Winds, had my heart--but its huge world absolutely blew me away. I was used to RPGs with big worlds, but they were always in that JRPG "overworld map" style, never something so fully open. And Nexus was 2D and had relatively small maps.

One time a buddy came over and we just messed around creating characters in EQ and running around the world just to see stuff. We got on a ship to sail from one continent to the other and were astonished that it wasn't just a teleport--that we'd be on the deck of the ship, moving through an actually-rendered sea with islands popping in and out as they got close enough to render. (Then I fell off the boat and swam around the open ocean and died on an island full of ogres, but that's another thing.) Reading about The Room you mentioned here made me think about that sense of wonder and scale and just how exciting it all was.

This is one of my favorite things in all video games and it breaks my heart that it's so desperately rare. I would love if you could like, say in a Final Fantasy, get aboard your airship and indicate your destination, and then while it flies you can go off and do other stuff aboard, whether that's messing with equipment, crafting, talking to party members, minigames, whatever. Include a skip function for sure, but otherwise let me just travel along.

BeanpolePeckerwood
May 4, 2004

how may i dook on this parade?



Pork Pro

hard to beat just how confident the original TR was in itself, and how much it respected the player's intelligence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTCeQk8uu1w

Fly Ricky
May 7, 2009

The Wine Taster

VideoGames posted:

The Tomb Raider Series and why I love Anniversary The Most

What a great writeup. I haven't played a Tomb Raider game since III on the PS1, but I'm going to pick up Anniversary based on this. Thanks for sharing all that.

edit: on a related note, are any of the three (?) reboot games worthwhile? I believe they’re on sale at the moment.

Fly Ricky fucked around with this message at 10:12 on Feb 10, 2021

fridge corn
Apr 2, 2003




Harrow posted:

One time a buddy came over and we just messed around creating characters in EQ and running around the world just to see stuff. We got on a ship to sail from one continent to the other and were astonished that it wasn't just a teleport--that we'd be on the deck of the ship, moving through an actually-rendered sea with islands popping in and out as they got close enough to render. (Then I fell off the boat and swam around the open ocean and died on an island full of ogres, but that's another thing.) Reading about The Room you mentioned here made me think about that sense of wonder and scale and just how exciting it all was.

My buddies and I would every now and again have naked gnome races where we would make level 1 gnomes and see who could make it from ak anon to whatever the erudite town was called first. It was a lot of fun actually

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?




If you had put a gun to my head 5 minutes before I saw this post I wouldn't have been able to tell you a thing that happened in this video, but from the first frame of it playing an ancient crypt deep in my brain opened and literally every single detail of it flooded back to the forefront of my brain. As soon as it started I immediately thought,"Pierre, you litterbug!" :vincefrog:

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


Fly Ricky posted:

What a great writeup. I haven't played a Tomb Raider game since III on the PS1, but I'm going to pick up Anniversary based on this. Thanks for sharing all that.

edit: on a related note, are any of the three (?) reboot games worthwhile? I believe they’re on sale at the moment.
Rise (the second game) is probably the best, as it benefits from the devs learning what worked and what didn't in the first game to make playing it a smoother experience. (Not that the first game was bad by any means, but Rise improves on it in almost every way.) Shadow, on the other hand, polishes the gameplay a little bit more - Lara is absolutely at her most effortlessly controllable - but the story falls apart, probably because of the change of writing team. Hanging plot threads are ignored, and the previous main villains die offscreen in a radio message. The main hub area Paititi is too big, as well; it feels like you spend an age wandering back and forth through the same places doing fetch quests.

Rise also has some amazingly atmospheric locations; the snowbound Siberian forest near the start is somewhere I'll load the whole game up just to wander around marvelling at the snow and fog effects (and brutally murdering any goons I find). If there's a flaw with the game it's that Sam, Lara's best friend she spent most of the first game trying to rescue, was written out in the most perfunctory way possible. I actually know the writer, and she told me that was a management demand she wasn't at all happy about.

Fly Ricky
May 7, 2009

The Wine Taster

Sounds great; can I go in without playing the first reboot?

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


Fly Ricky posted:

Sounds great; can I go in without playing the first reboot?
Pretty much. IIRC all you need to know is that, like the previous iterations, Lara's parents are dead and that the series baddie organisation Trinity was involved and she survived a formative experience on a spooky supernatural island with a few others, one of whom is now her sidekick. The game format is a 'craft and upgrade stuff to make yourself more powerful and open up previously inaccessible areas' Metroidvania type, so it's easy enough to get into.

Reveilled
Apr 19, 2007

Take up your rifles


Okay, I wanna finally fully write out my thoughts on the most disturbing horror game I ever played, Analogue: A Hate Story


Analogue is a game about researching a fallen society. The framing story for the game is that it is the far future, long after humanity has spread out across the stars. In the distant, distant past, before faster-than-light travel, humans would colonise new worlds on huge generation ships, moving at sublight speeds on journeys that could take centuries. One of these old generation ships the Mugunghwa, long thought to be lost in space, has reappeared, a derelict wreck, and you have been hired by a historical society to scout the ship, download the ship's logs, and if possible, determine what happened. You might recognise this premise from The Return of the Obra Dinn, and I do wonder if this game provided some inspiration, or was merely a convergent evolution.

If you're wondering how this bright interface and the mechanics of "just read text" make this a horror game, much less the most disturbing one I've ever played, bear with me.


When you arrive at the ship, you successfully power it up just enough to activate the ship's librarian AI, Hyun-ae, who then assists you in retrieving the written records of the crew in the ten or so years prior to the Mugunghwa's failure. What you find in these logs is bizarre, the inhabitants on the ship seem to have regressed culturally back to a deeply patriarchal, feudal society reminiscent of Joseon-period Korea. In the ship's society, women are very much to be seen and not heard, even literacy is a taboo secret that women can at best hope their husbands to turn a blind eye to. Like many pre-modern patriarchal societies, child-rearing and childcare are seen as the natural place of a woman, and so the notion that a woman could refuse consent to her husband is completely alien. And as a researcher in game, you end up reading a lot of text from women and men in the setting for whom these things are the default. It is not clear from the logs how society on the Mugunghwa regressed to this, but it certainly does not seen implausible that the fight for women's rights, and all the hard fought gains of the last 200 years could be reversed by some cataclysm, and the text you are reading in this game does not even bemoan the loss (nor does it pornografy it as in, say, the Gor novels). No, instead, by depicting a world where such things go unquestioned, it raises in the reader the question "what would it take to set things back?". Everyone in the logs is party to an act of monstrously inhumane oppression, and nobody even realises it. That's horrific. There's a sense of steadily rising dread and deepening despair you get about the society you're reading about that's truly unique in video games, so far as I can tell.


The game gradually spins out a narrative of the lives of two families that gets progressively sadder and sadder for one woman in particular, and the key thing that makes the game so powerful is that there's literally nothing you can do. Everyone has been dead for 600 years. There's a deep sense of powerlessness to set right things which are clearly unjust, that initially create a sense of deep, righteous anger in the player, but that impotent rage just gradually gives way to despair and just a strong feeling of anxiety and disturbance.

By the time the game was done, I felt completely emotionally drained. I couldn't sleep properly for about two weeks. No other game has affected me in anything close to that way before. I realise that might sound like a ringing anti-endorsement of the game, because who wants to feel like poo poo? But I really do recommend the game because of exactly that: it's a thought provoking, worthy experience that might cause you to really, truly think about things and empathise with others in a way you've never done before. The overriding thought that occupied my mind afterward was that at it's core, the story in Analogue isn't really fiction. It's history. It's also present. All over the world there are women oppressed in almost exactly the same way, and we all owe it to everyone on the planet to oppose the oppression of women and fight for their right to be heard.

Rinkles
Oct 24, 2010

What I'm getting at is...
Do you feel the same way?


I'm guessing there was a link to Digital: A Love Story?

fake edit: apparently they share universes

e:reading a bit more of the summary, I think this is a little too grim for me.

Rinkles fucked around with this message at 16:20 on Feb 10, 2021

Reveilled
Apr 19, 2007

Take up your rifles


Rinkles posted:

I'm guessing there was a link to Digital: A Love Story?

fake edit: apparently they share universes

e:reading a bit more of the summary, I think this is a little too grim for me.

I think yeah, technically, though with Analogue being set something like a thousand years later they have very little to connect them other than the name and the practice of denoting an AI with an asterisk in front of their name.

It is definitely a grim story. The grimmest story I've seen in a video game that wasn't just trying to be edgy in how dark it was--and arguably by being earnest about it, grimmer than any of those manage to be. But like good science fiction, there's a truth in the story that speaks to our own world, and sometimes those truths are deeply uncomfortable. I'd say it's maybe like getting a tattoo, the experience itself wasn't fun as such, but what I got out of it was more than worth it to me.

But at the same time, I couldn't begrudge anyone who didn't want to experience what Analogue offers. Especially in the current environment where there's no shortage of negative experience.

Lechtansi
Mar 23, 2004

Item Get


Payndz posted:

Rise (the second game) is probably the best, as it benefits from the devs learning what worked and what didn't in the first game to make playing it a smoother experience. (Not that the first game was bad by any means, but Rise improves on it in almost every way.) Shadow, on the other hand, polishes the gameplay a little bit more - Lara is absolutely at her most effortlessly controllable - but the story falls apart, probably because of the change of writing team. Hanging plot threads are ignored, and the previous main villains die offscreen in a radio message. The main hub area Paititi is too big, as well; it feels like you spend an age wandering back and forth through the same places doing fetch quests.

Rise also has some amazingly atmospheric locations; the snowbound Siberian forest near the start is somewhere I'll load the whole game up just to wander around marvelling at the snow and fog effects (and brutally murdering any goons I find). If there's a flaw with the game it's that Sam, Lara's best friend she spent most of the first game trying to rescue, was written out in the most perfunctory way possible. I actually know the writer, and she told me that was a management demand she wasn't at all happy about.

I was going to :effortpost: about Rise, but you already nailed the core of what I was going to say.

Rise is definitely on my "replay every few years" list - I really love it. It's survival done well - instead of it being a hassle and feeling like a chore, it forms the basis of a really cool metroidvania. The story is definitely not it's strong point, but it's fine.

I was totally bought into Tomb Raider as an open world metroidvania with cool puzzle tombs to explore. I know thats not classic TR gameplay, and who knows where the series is going next, but Rise is definitely on my top 10 games list.

peter gabriel
Nov 8, 2011

Hello Commandos


VideoGames posted:

The first Tomb Raider came out in 1996...

You've nailed it man, you've explained why I love Tomb Raider so well it feels like I wrote it.
The beauty of the game was the solitude, and the feeling that you were somewhere no one had been in a long rear end time, alone.
It really was a ground breaking game at the time, each section was a wonderfully realised puzzle within a puzzle. I recall very fondly seeing an arena like area where the game couldn't render the far side of it, it felt huge even though I was on a 14 inch CRT :v:
The sound, lack of action and general ambience all added up to something really special.

fez_machine
Nov 27, 2004



Reveilled posted:

You might recognise this premise from The Return of the Obra Dinn, and I do wonder if this game provided some inspiration, or was merely a convergent evolution.

Let me introduce you to the Mary Celeste: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Celeste

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


peter gabriel posted:

You've nailed it man, you've explained why I love Tomb Raider so well it feels like I wrote it.
The beauty of the game was the solitude, and the feeling that you were somewhere no one had been in a long rear end time, alone.
It really was a ground breaking game at the time, each section was a wonderfully realised puzzle within a puzzle. I recall very fondly seeing an arena like area where the game couldn't render the far side of it, it felt huge even though I was on a 14 inch CRT :v:
The sound, lack of action and general ambience all added up to something really special.
I just played it for a while (on my PS2, so I could use the PS1 graphics smoothing option which really does make a difference), and the old feelings came flooding back. I don't care about the tank controls, the limited draw distance, the absence of a skybox in the Lost Valley or the lack of definition you'd expect from a game that's a quarter of a century old. It all still works. Lara's a lonely figure in these vast ruined structures, exploring without guidelines and at her own pace for 99% of the time - which makes the moments when she's fighting the clock or battling for survival all the more stressful when they happen. It's a game that rewards you for matching Lara's pace; she can't rush, so neither should you. If not for the constant air of death and decay hanging over everything, it would almost be relaxing.

The more stuff they tacked on that Lara could do in the later games, the more they lost this feel of patient exploration. And it's why I don't rate Anniversary as highly for all its technical advances: it becomes almost cartoonishly manic as you roll, dodge, backflip and jump through the traps while shooting at enemies trying to activate the QTE insta-kill.

Incidentally, someone recently unearthed (in playable form) the cancelled Core Design version of Anniversary, which was surprisingly complete. There are videos on YouTube of almost all the levels. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the series.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

peter gabriel
Nov 8, 2011

Hello Commandos


Payndz posted:

It's a game that rewards you for matching Lara's pace; she can't rush, so neither should you.

That right there is a massive part of it I think.
It's Lara vs the environment most of the time and the very things you mention, like slow tank controls, lack of draw distance etc are key. While they were due in part to the limitations of the hardware it was running on they informed the decisions Eidos had to make, gameplay wise, and they did that perfectly I think.
It was also so huge at the time it's easy to forget, Lara was on the cover of magazines, not just gaming magazines either, the game felt grown up somehow and we were all coming from SNES / Megadrives at the time, it was pretty mind blowing to me back then.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply