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Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



That was something that annoyed me a lot about the Uncharted games when I finally got to play them - VG mentioned earlier a big appeal of the early Tomb Raiders was finding some place that it was clear NOBODY had been for centuries if not millennia, but in UC games the places Nate "discovers" are often crawling with dudes, equipment etc.

I can't remember which of the games it was, but there is one where the whole gimmick is that somebody Nate knew (his brother? just some old friend? I played them back to back and they all get mixed up) was believed dead while hunting the treasure, but it turns out he just faked his death so he could cut his partner who financed him out of the deal to keep all the treasure for himself and Nate. Throughout the rest of the game, you keep arriving at places where the other guy has also figured out is where to look, and even if he's blowing poo poo up to get there he... uhh... he did find them before Nate and his partner and they have no right to be upset or indignant at him "stealing" the discovery from them. In fact if anything THEY are the bad guys in this situation, showing up after the fact and trying to steal what this guy is legitimately entitled to a significant portion of.

I think the follow-up game they decided to just go with the far simpler idea of,"Make the bad guy an insane dictator/general" instead.

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Sway Grunt
May 15, 2004

Tenochtitlan, looking east.


Whybird posted:

Anachronox was funny, unique, and charming. Set in a Hitchhiker's-style sci-fi future of a thousand and one bizarre alien species, it created the genuine feel that you were walking through a busy, lived-in space: something that even games today struggle with.

That is my biggest memory of it - particularly the opening area, the city. I loved exploring it, rummaging around in empty apartments and such (always a favorite gaming activity of mine). I haven't played it in years but actually a few weeks ago bought it on Humble for $1 cause I wanted a Steam version to replace my physical copy (which I still have, but I don't have an optical drive anymore). I don't know when I'll actually play it again but I feel better knowing it's in my library.

The ending was a bit of a gut punch, if I recall.

peter gabriel
Nov 8, 2011

Hello Commandos


Glare Seethe posted:

That is my biggest memory of it - particularly the opening area, the city. I loved exploring it, rummaging around in empty apartments and such (always a favorite gaming activity of mine). I haven't played it in years but actually a few weeks ago bought it on Humble for $1 cause I wanted a Steam version to replace my physical copy (which I still have, but I don't have an optical drive anymore). I don't know when I'll actually play it again but I feel better knowing it's in my library.

The ending was a bit of a gut punch, if I recall.

It's on sale at 0.69p on Steam so I just grabbed it, always loved it

Whybird
Aug 2, 2009

Phaiston have long avoided the tightly competetive defence sector, but the IRDA Act 2052 has given us the freedom we need to bring out something really special.

https://team-robostar.itch.io/robostar




Nap Ghost

Glare Seethe posted:

That is my biggest memory of it - particularly the opening area, the city. I loved exploring it, rummaging around in empty apartments and such (always a favorite gaming activity of mine). I haven't played it in years but actually a few weeks ago bought it on Humble for $1 cause I wanted a Steam version to replace my physical copy (which I still have, but I don't have an optical drive anymore). I don't know when I'll actually play it again but I feel better knowing it's in my library.

The ending was a bit of a gut punch, if I recall.

Yeah, it was pretty clear that Ion Storm either ran out of cash towards the end or had a sequel planned: the ending has them defeating the immediate threat, but with a bigger, nebulous, looming threat in the wings, a whole load of unanswered questions, and a significant lack of leads.

It's still a fantastic ride to get there, though.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





Jerusalem posted:

I can't remember which of the games it was, but there is one where the whole gimmick is that somebody Nate knew (his brother? just some old friend? I played them back to back and they all get mixed up) was believed dead while hunting the treasure, but it turns out he just faked his death so he could cut his partner who financed him out of the deal to keep all the treasure for himself and Nate. Throughout the rest of the game, you keep arriving at places where the other guy has also figured out is where to look, and even if he's blowing poo poo up to get there he... uhh... he did find them before Nate and his partner and they have no right to be upset or indignant at him "stealing" the discovery from them. In fact if anything THEY are the bad guys in this situation, showing up after the fact and trying to steal what this guy is legitimately entitled to a significant portion of.
Uhh that was Uncharted 4, where Nate's brother pretends he's in debt to some criminal warlord and that's why they need to race against Rafe to get the treasure to pay back the warlord.
Then eventually it's found out that the criminal warlord has been dead for years. Rafe bailed out the brother and then the brother ditched.

It's weird that you have this as a complaint because yes this is literally a major point of character conflict in the story to the point that once Nadine, Rafe's henchman, figures it out she quits in disgust at how dumb it all is, and it pushes Elena and Nate's marriage to the breaking point. They eventually forgive Sam since they're both horny for adventure but it's acknowledged he's responsible for a lot of needless death.

The game has themes! St Dismas keeps getting brought up as the 'penitent thief' as Nate thinks he's repenting for leaving his bro for dead, while Sam is the 'unrepentant thief' with chronic double-crossing on the brain.

----

Someone else please effortpost about Prey 2017, it's a fantastic game but I don't have the screenshots and multiple playthroughs to do a real good big post.

Fart Car '97
Jul 23, 2003

o fuk traffic

Party Boat posted:

You have excellent timing.

One of my all-time favourite games is 21 years old this month. Letís talk about....



Vagrant Story is one of those games that has amassed a small but very vocal base of fans that insist on its perfection - and while Iíll say again it is one of my all-time favourite games, I do not count myself among them. In fact, I think that those who gave up playing it after bouncing off one of its many obtuse systems have some good points - but Iíll get to those.

I want to start where Vagrant Story is inarguably great - its overall presentation is simply some of the best that the PS1 has to offer. Director of Final Fantasy Tactics Yasumi Matsuno brought many of his team from that game to Vagrant Story and the two carry a very similar mood despite the significant shift in gameplay and art style. Hiroshi Minagawa and the Final Fantasy Tactics art team brought their mastery of spritework into 3D, creating models whose shifting facial expressions seemed almost impossible for the hardware to accomplish.


(The screenshots in this post were taken using the Beetle HW emulator and the super-sampling option, so will differ slightly from how the game looked on original hardware.)

This excellent thread by @dreamboum goes into detail on this far better than I would be able to, and also covers bits about the music and script with quotes from the team:

https://twitter.com/Dreamboum/status/1226610123000467457

Vagrant Storyís score was composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, and if youíve played another of the Matsuno games he worked on itíll sound instantly familiar to you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM7RIUgYIoU

The music above plays over the gameís end credits and I add it here because itís the only piece of music in the game that is fully orchestrated, and also because itís a medley that covers several of the more prominent themes in the score. The rest of the gameís music is synthesised, and while this might seem like a drawback in the age of games on CD, it was a major element that helped the gameís cinematic scenes land.



Vagrant Story is not voice-acted - the gameís lines appear in comic book bubbles that the player buttons through, meaning that the tempo of a given scene is largely dictated by the player. Despite this, the score always stays in perfect sync with the action - something which would have been impossible for CD audio at the time, but is easily accomplished by having a synthesised score. A great example from this is Climax of the Graylands Incident, which is a single continuous track that plays throughout the combat, cutscenes and boss battle of the gameís tutorial mission, rising and falling in intensity alongside the playerís actions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cr42rn8KSA

The gameís love of synth over sample extended to its sound effects, which are all produced from the PS1ís sound chip. This meant that a sound effect could have varying levels of reverb applied to it depending on how deep you were in the gameís dungeons.

And thereís plenty of dungeons - or maybe just one big one. Apart from the brief tutorial mission, the entirety of Vagrant Story takes place in the ruined city of LeŠ Monde, which the design team modelled very closely on the French medieval city of Saint-…milion.




And LeŠ Monde does feel like a real place, or at least a Playstation facsimile of a real place. Itís as interconnected and labyrinthine as any Metroidvania map, with locked doors and magical seals repeatedly forcing you into quarries, forests and around the city walls on a slow spiral into the Grand Cathedral at the cityís centre. Hereís an excellent video covering various elements of Vagrant Storyís design that fellow goon Electromax put out while I was writing this. You should check out their work in the Retro PS1 thread!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZkuriIacG4

I mention it here partially because itís simply a fantastic video, and partially because it confirmed something that Iíd wondered for a while - the gameís various areas all fit neatly together to produce one huge city map. Itís a place I just love exploring, even divorced from the story tugging me forward.

I donít want to dwell on Vagrant Storyís story for too long (even though itís what that vocal base of fans point to as the gameís crowning glory) because while I like it a great deal I donít think any summary of it I could write would be especially interesting. Suffice to say it covers nice strong themes of betrayal and lust for power, but what I really enjoy about it is its restraint. You play Vagrant Story as a party of one, and that loneliness is a significant part of the gameís tone which would be broken if cutscenes were too frequent. Early in the game the cultist leader Sydney compares player character Ashley Riot to a hunter and himself to a hart, and it feels like the gameís story has a similar relationship with the player, disappearing into the woods for long stretches only to suddenly reappear for just long enough to spur you forward.

Iíd also be remiss if I didnít mention the exceptional localisation work by Alexander O Smith. Vagrant Storyís era was one where there was still a general expectation that English localisations from Japanese would be clunky at best (Jeremy Blausteinís work on MGS1 being a notable exception), but Smith worked archaic English words and idioms into the script to fit alongside the medieval surroundings.


I knew I was in safe hands when a couple of early characters were written with distinct Scottish accents.

So how does it play? Great, with a significant reservation.

At its core, Vagrant Story is a game about trade-offs. Trade-offs are the basis of any good tactical game, and Vagrant Story has plenty of them. Maybe too many for its own good.

The most obvious trade-off is Risk, a stat that gets its own dedicated bar alongside HP and MP. Most actions in battle generate Risk, but itís increased exponentially by chain attacks. These are timing-based combos similar to those in Super Mario RPG, allowing a skilled player to execute a series of hits on an enemy before itís able to retaliate. The downside to this is that as Risk increases, Ashley becomes more inaccurate and takes increased damage. At maximum Risk even normal enemies can become lethal threats, so itís important to keep it under control by limiting your chains or using special Risk-eliminating items.

The next area of trade-off is damage calculations, and this is where we get into the weeds a bit. Aside from the end-game, weapons in Vagrant Story donít get significantly more powerful as you progress. Instead, the main way you deal damage is by exploiting enemy weaknesses. Each enemy has different defence levels against seven elemental affinities and three damage types (edged, blunt and piercing), as well as a defence decided by which one of six enemy classes it falls into. This means that the damage calculation is decided by looking across three sets of stats for both your weapon and the enemy, making it unclear exactly why your nifty silver dagger that wrecked poo poo against undead is suddenly doing 2 damage against humans. Did I mention that most enemies have multiple body parts which might have wildly different defence values? And god help you if the enemy is wearing armour, because youíll have to take that into account as well. Don't forget to keep an eye on your weapons Damage Points and Phantom Points!


Expect to spend a lot of time looking at a screen like this.

Fortunately the game tells you how much damage you can expect to do before you commit to an attack and what type it is (here you can see that weíre making an edged, physical attack against a beast type enemy), but it doesnít make the process of switching weapons any less tedious.

You see, for a trade-off to be tactically interesting, you have to know what youíre trading and why. Vagrant Storyís damage system is so opaque that itís almost impossible for a first-time player to properly engage with it. To add insult to injury, the spell that allows you to see enemy defence values is only received after the fourth boss, past the ďgently caress thisĒ point for many first-time players.

(If you are a first-time player, my advice to you is that the damage type of a weapon is by far the most important thing in the early game. Make sure you have at least one decent edged, blunt and piercing weapon at all times. And make sure you turn on updates for changes to your weapon stats in the options.)


Attacking will sometimes improve your weaponís stats against the type of enemy youíre fighting, but can also lower them against others.

The trap that a lot of people fall into with Vagrant Story is that if you end up in a fight youíre not really equipped for (or donít know how to find the weakness) i.e. most boss fights, the best way out is to chain attack like crazy, doing 1-5 damage per hit and regularly missing completely, hoping to keep your Risk under control for long enough to nickel and dime the boss to death. Itís an extremely dull and unsatisfying way to play, so itís a real shame that the game encourages you down that route so readily.


Real VS pros spend all their time looking at this screen.

This is why I say that Vagrant Storyís detractors have a good point. There is a genuinely great action-RPG with tactical depth underneath the layers of impenetrable stats, but I absolutely understand anyone who says they donít want to dig through them.

Vagrant Story is a tough game to love at times. But I really loving love it.
I remember liking this game so much tyvm for posting about it

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



bewilderment posted:

It's weird that you have this as a complaint because yes this is literally a major point of character conflict in the story

It's possibleprobable I'm conflating two separate things from different games in my head, because I definitely remember playing an earlier game and being irritated at Nate being upset at - and killing! - other people for the crime of... finding something before him?, and I guess playing all four essentially one after the other means all the plots kind of lump together in my head

sticklefifer
Nov 11, 2003

TOO EASY



You're not entirely off with that one. Rafe does have a legit claim to the treasure since he never stopped looking for it, but in the flashbacks you find out that the Drakes' mom basically discovered how to find it first, so there's a more personal level to it.

bewilderment posted:

It's weird that you have this as a complaint because yes this is literally a major point of character conflict in the story to the point that once Nadine, Rafe's henchman, figures it out she quits in disgust at how dumb it all is, and it pushes Elena and Nate's marriage to the breaking point.
Their marriage becomes strained because Nate spends the first half of the game lying to his wife about getting back into the murder-adventure business because his salvage job is boring and his wife plays Crash Bandicoot instead of exploring the world. I get that he didn't want to lose his brother again, but he really is a lovely husband in that game.

There's a funny exchange in Lost Legacy that highlights the idea of adventurers not being able to settle down in Anytown, USA. Chloe tells Nadine she's never been to the States, because all the treasure she hunts is ancient, and the US has only been around for a couple hundred years (and, presumably, a plot about raiding old Native artifacts would be problematic).

sticklefifer fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Feb 19, 2021

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


Party Boat posted:

You have excellent timing.

One of my all-time favourite games is 21 years old this month. Letís talk about....


Vagrant Story, Virtua Fighter 2, and Conker's Bad Fur Day push their respective consoles so much it's insane to think that they were running them.

THE AWESOME GHOST
Oct 21, 2005



punk rebel ecks posted:

Vagrant Story, Virtua Fighter 2, and Conker's Bad Fur Day push their respective consoles so much it's insane to think that they were running them.

Are there other games like this? Shadow of the Colossus on Ps2 is the first I thought of

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




Those kinds of games really don't get made anymore because people have some kind of baseline expectations for performance. Back in the day people thought their PS2 was exploding due to the sheer awesomeness of SotC but don't really feel the same way about CP2077 making them fall through the world.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?



Wasn't the original Red Dead Redemption running on an engine that was basically the equivalent of a nuclear fusion reactor made up entirely of paper clips and chewing gum? Which is why they've never ported it to PC? Because they're terrified of upsetting the balance made in their deal with the Elder Gods to allow it to run in the first place?

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:

Wasn't the original Red Dead Redemption running on an engine that was basically the equivalent of a nuclear fusion reactor made up entirely of paper clips and chewing gum? Which is why they've never ported it to PC? Because they're terrified of upsetting the balance made in their deal with the Elder Gods to allow it to run in the first place?
How does RDR1 run on the Xbox Series X? It's a game I'd love to play again, but I remember it being a case of oh god the loading times.

(Incidentally I'm replaying Gun on the GC, and while in my memory it looked pretty decent, in reality it seems about as detailed as Quest 64.)

Electromax
May 6, 2007


Kirby's Adventure on NES came out in 93 and looks great for the console, but flickers and slows down like half the time if more than 2 enemies are present.

Party Boat
Oct 31, 2007

where did that other dog come from

who is he



Tekken 3 was another title on PS1 that really felt like an unbelievable leap forward. The Namco System 11 arcade board used for Tekken 1 and 2 was closely based on the specs of the PS1, so they were relatively easy to port over. However, Tekken 3 was put out on the System 12 which went from a 33mhz processor to a 48 mhz one. Either they didn't need to use that extra processing overhead for Tekken 3 (which is impressive on its own given how good it looks) or they did some dark wizardry to ensure it still ran at a solid 60fps on the console.

The System 12 was also what Soul Calibur ran on, which is why the Dreamcast version was such a huge improvement over the arcade.

peter gabriel
Nov 8, 2011

Hello Commandos


Someone remade Tomb Raider 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Ae81ny_L4

Download Demo
http://tombraider-dox.com/

Castor Poe
Jul 19, 2010

Cops don't like me.
So I don't like cops.




It's just the first level tho, right?

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


THE AWESOME GHOST posted:

Are there other games like this? Shadow of the Colossus on Ps2 is the first I thought of

- Sin & Punishment
- Pulseman
- R2: Rendering Ranger
- Conker: Live and Reloaded
- C.O.P.: The Recruit
- Panorama Cotton

Party Boat
Oct 31, 2007

where did that other dog come from

who is he



Castor Poe posted:

It's just the first level tho, right?

Yeah, and that was released in 2017 so it sadly looks like it's been abandoned. It's a shame because it looks like it was trying to interpret the overall direction and feel of TR2 using the style of a more modern game, instead of just shoving the original blocky maps through a modern graphics engine.

Discendo Vox
Mar 21, 2013


Party Boat posted:

Yeah, and that was released in 2017 so it sadly looks like it's been abandoned. It's a shame because it looks like it was trying to interpret the overall direction and feel of TR2 using the style of a more modern game, instead of just shoving the original blocky maps through a modern graphics engine.

It's still under development, it seems, just extremely slow. See the creator's twitter account, here:
https://twitter.com/Nicobass_DOX

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





THE AWESOME GHOST posted:

Are there other games like this? Shadow of the Colossus on Ps2 is the first I thought of

exquisite tea posted:

Those kinds of games really don't get made anymore because people have some kind of baseline expectations for performance. Back in the day people thought their PS2 was exploding due to the sheer awesomeness of SotC but don't really feel the same way about CP2077 making them fall through the world.

It's mostly first party titles that still get to do this. Stuff like God of War PS4 and Last of Us 2 get to really stretch what are now 7 year old consoles. Horizon Zero Dawn manages to maintain its draw distance and stuff onscreen by really aggressively culling all the terrain you're not looking at so that the only things that 'exist' behind the player are NPCs/enemies moving over the collisionmap.

...of SCIENCE!
Apr 26, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 4025 days!


THE AWESOME GHOST posted:

Are there other games like this? Shadow of the Colossus on Ps2 is the first I thought of

At the end of the original Xbox's lifecycle it got ports of what were then cutting-edge PC games like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. Granted they didn't have the best performance or the highest graphical fidelity but they were complete ports. Considering that this was the same console generation where a port of Deus Ex had to have a bunch of levels chopped up into smaller pieces it was a pretty impressive feat.

Hitman: Blood Money getting a crowd engine to work on a PS2 was also a pretty impressive piece of porting.

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


exquisite tea posted:

Those kinds of games really don't get made anymore because people have some kind of baseline expectations for performance. Back in the day people thought their PS2 was exploding due to the sheer awesomeness of SotC but don't really feel the same way about CP2077 making them fall through the world.

Not all of these games have bad performance. Sin & Punishment for example had reasonable performance. Virtua Fighter 2 performed incredible.

These types of games still get made, but mostly with Sony and arguably occasionally Nintendo. The issue is that to get the most out of a system you need to use a proprietary engine designed around one piece of hardware. Only Nintendo and Sony still do this, and being honest it really shows. With the sole exception of Capcom pretty much every other company uses third party engines on top of developing games on every platform they can. Choice is great but it comes at a cost of not pushing hardware to its limits.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Great thread idea.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, from 2006, was a game much maligned upon its release, especially in the US, where it garnered broadly mediocre reviews. It was a story-driven first-person action RPG with an extremely corny (and moderately horny) narrative about 10 hours long. It was released into the shadow of another first-person action RPG you may have heard of - Oblivion - and I don't doubt that its limited scope and linear nature being perceived as antiquated and retrograde in comparison was a factor in its poor critical reception. On Metacritic, Oblivion ranks far and away the most critically acclaimed GOTY, while Dark Messiah languishes in 92nd, ranking below such classics that we all remember such as the Cars movie tie-in game and Scarface: The World is Yours.

Despite this, Dark Messiah kicks the absolute poo poo out of Oblivion, both literally and metaphorically. Why, exactly? Because to this day, it probably retains the title of having the most fun combat in any game ever made. Broadly speaking, its combat mechanics hold up fairly well and were innovative at the time and its sword combat and such is far more advanced and engaging than you'd find in Oblivion (or even Skyrim for that matter), but has since been overshadowed in complexity and technicality by a number of generally medieval games (Mount & Blades, Kingdom Come, Mordheim et al.). However, it still manages to be several times more fun than any of those games.

This is because what really makes the combat was that Dark Messiah came into being at a time where game developers were really going ham into the new physics engines. Level designers really took this to heart with Dark Messiah and built the game around an absurdly unlikely progression of locales resembling the Nar Shaddaa streets of Jedi Knight 2 that have you run around cliff faces, tombs with uncanny amounts of thin walkways and precipitous drops and just in general a suspicious over-abundance of verticality. On top of this, every level has a smŲrgŚsbord of interactive physics objects including, but not limited to, pendulous chandeliers, rickety rope bridges, huge walls on the verge of collapse, comedy traps held by only thin ropes and so on.

It has many of the classics of this era of physics games, now mostly left behind as stupidly unrealistic, such as the fact that falling on an enemy instantly crushes them, and how one flying ragdoll can strike an entire group of enemies like you were 10-pin bowling and send them careening off at all angles. The fun was by no means limited to sword and board, and the RPG elements in the game encourage cross-utilisation of stealth and magic, primarily not for the goal of becoming a strong hero but instead creating the most comedic way you can despatch your foes. Being a wizard in something like a first-person acting RPG is often the dullest poo poo imaginable, perhaps save being able to make large explosions. When you look at the magic system in Oblivion where you generally fire 3 different coloured identical balls towards enemies who then fall over, you are forced to weep on your knees when you can compare it to how you can turn your enemies into frictionless ice popsicles and send them moon-walking into bottomless pits in Dark Messiah. Even the simple act of freezing some stairs and standing temptingly nearby to attract attention puts comedy gold at your fingertips.

There were regular builds and playstyles that are ultimately familiar - you could be rogues with daggers and backstabs, archers, wizards, warriors etc. But ultimately there was only one 'true' build which all classes were obliged to follow, which represents the crowning glory of the game. Everybody who has played the game knows what I am referring to, and it is of course, the kick. Enemies, like you, have a kind of stamina. And once they are staggered, they become vulnerable to being kicked. You can kick like a jackhammer and the power of ten men. A single kick sends staggered enemies flying great distances, distances that usually carry said enemy hurtling into any number of abysses or unfortunate places. One of the oft-repeated criticisms of the game at the time was that there was a completely stupid number of conveniently placed instant killing spike racks in Dark Messiah's world which could allow you to trivialise a lot of combat. Realism aside, what reviewers failed to account for is that this is actually loving funny, and there is nothing wrong with kicking goblins 50 feet away and nailing them into walls.

What this all builds up to is a game that is just completely liberating. Combat is free-flowing and you tackle each situation, not thinking about health, or loot, or XP or any of the other foibles, but simply about the funniest way you can architect to clear a room. You can run in and kick some creaky pillar, releasing a pile of barrels than instantly knock everyone over at the slightest glancing blow, then run up and throw barrels like you were Donkey Kong in rapid fire, knocking enemies into bonfires and off castle walls. This is all tied together nicely by plotting and enemy voicing that is gleefully camp.

There's never been another game like Dark Messiah which is an absolute tragedy, but if you never played it, do yourself a favour and pick it up on sale for a couple of bucks. I could say more about how it does some other things well and its wide range of faults, but ultimately its combat alone makes it a memorable and worthwhile game to play. If my words can't sell it to you, perhaps a little bit of gameplay footage might:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1GLZILJc24

Jeza fucked around with this message at 13:13 on Feb 20, 2021

Whybird
Aug 2, 2009

Phaiston have long avoided the tightly competetive defence sector, but the IRDA Act 2052 has given us the freedom we need to bring out something really special.

https://team-robostar.itch.io/robostar




Nap Ghost

THE AWESOME GHOST posted:

Are there other games like this? Shadow of the Colossus on Ps2 is the first I thought of

I seem to recall reading how Ultima 7 kept finding itself bumping up against MS-DOS's memory management limitations, so Origin were just like "gently caress it, we're writing our own mini-operating system"

FlowerRhythmREMIX
Nov 4, 2011

Just Post, Kupo


punk rebel ecks posted:

With the sole exception of Capcom pretty much every other company uses third party engines on top of developing games on every platform they can. Choice is great but it comes at a cost of not pushing hardware to its limits.

Apologies if Iím misunderstanding, but it seems like all the big AAA devs have their own. CDPR, EA, Ubisoft have their own engines, right?

Shine
Feb 26, 2007

No Muscles For The Majority


Jeza posted:

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic

The most powerful weapon in this game was a wicker basket. The devs neglected (or hilariously decided not) to make fire actually destroy the basket, or to make the player take damage when holding a flaming basket. So just ignite the wicker basket, grab it, and walk into enemies to set them on fire

Such a silly loving game. It felt kinda like an early version of some of the VR combat games we have now, like Gorn and Blade & Sorcery, which similarly are "cheese the physics and game systems until things die." They're melee fighters that are geared toward cheesily dispatching people by the dozen.

Folks who haven't played DMoM&M, it's worth tracking down the demo, as it lets you get a feel for much of the standard combat in the game. A friend and I used to speedrun it and send each other clips using good ol' Fraps. The game is at its best when you ignore any semblance of a fair fight and just cheese everything as much as possible. Goomba stomping, kicking people into conveniently placed fire pits and spikes, chucking flaming barrels at them like a gritty Donkey Kong reboot... just have fun with all contrived nonsense.

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


I always regret not getting Dark Messiah when it came out and getting Oblivion instead.

FlowerRhythmREMIX posted:

Apologies if Iím misunderstanding, but it seems like all the big AAA devs have their own. CDPR, EA, Ubisoft have their own engines, right?

This is correct. I forget this since these engines results tend to be pretty poor outside of CDPR (looking past their massive recent blunder on consoles).

Lechtansi
Mar 23, 2004

Item Get


punk rebel ecks posted:

Not all of these games have bad performance. Sin & Punishment for example had reasonable performance. Virtua Fighter 2 performed incredible.

These types of games still get made, but mostly with Sony and arguably occasionally Nintendo. The issue is that to get the most out of a system you need to use a proprietary engine designed around one piece of hardware. Only Nintendo and Sony still do this, and being honest it really shows. With the sole exception of Capcom pretty much every other company uses third party engines on top of developing games on every platform they can. Choice is great but it comes at a cost of not pushing hardware to its limits.

I know you already mentioned Nintendo, but remember that BOTW was designed to for the Wii U, a console that came out in 2012.

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


Lechtansi posted:

I know you already mentioned Nintendo, but remember that BOTW was designed to for the Wii U, a console that came out in 2012.

And was around the power level of a console released in 2006.

Speaking of crazy powerful twilight released (and potentially released) games:

https://twitter.com/forestillusion/status/1363090008916193282

The N64 was a monster. I can only imagine if Nintendo sold the system for $300 at launch instead with a CD drive, more ram, and a bigger texture cache so it didn't take developers 4 years to find workarounds.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Shine posted:

The most powerful weapon in this game was a wicker basket. The devs neglected (or hilariously decided not) to make fire actually destroy the basket, or to make the player take damage when holding a flaming basket. So just ignite the wicker basket, grab it, and walk into enemies to set them on fire

Such a silly loving game. It felt kinda like an early version of some of the VR combat games we have now, like Gorn and Blade & Sorcery, which similarly are "cheese the physics and game systems until things die." They're melee fighters that are geared toward cheesily dispatching people by the dozen.

Folks who haven't played DMoM&M, it's worth tracking down the demo, as it lets you get a feel for much of the standard combat in the game. A friend and I used to speedrun it and send each other clips using good ol' Fraps. The game is at its best when you ignore any semblance of a fair fight and just cheese everything as much as possible. Goomba stomping, kicking people into conveniently placed fire pits and spikes, chucking flaming barrels at them like a gritty Donkey Kong reboot... just have fun with all contrived nonsense.

You're right, honestly I hadn't considered the angle that there are VR games that are really the spiritual successor to Dark Messiah's combat. And it's true, the hardware limitations sort of bring the physics back to the sillier old times. Physics is an aspect of games where the pursuit of realism isn't necessarily correct or even good, at least not all of the time.

Zybourne Clock
Oct 25, 2011

Poke me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zGrAWABcw0

Before reading on, briefly close your eyes and picture in your mind the platonic ideal of a video game. What happens if -- assuming your ideal uses a controller -- you press the A-button? If you're like me and your first console was a Nintendo 64, the answer is probably 'the character I'm controlling jumps six feet straight into the air.'

A Hat in Time does not follow this convention set by previous 3D platforming collectathons. By default it expects you to press 'B' instead, which is about my only gripe. In every other aspect, A Hat in Time is the best parts of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, thrown in a blender on high speed and made into a delicious smoothy. Though to describe it by its ingredients undersells its freshness.

The plot and overall goal of the game are simple. You play as Hat Kid, a space-traveling girl five lightyears from home, who wakes up one day to find a blue-suited member of the Mafia bonking on her spaceship window, demanding she pay a toll. When he tries to come in, the space ship's interior decompresses and scatters its time pieces - its fuel - onto the planet below. It's up to you to find and retrieve all forty of them.

But the game throws constant twists and turns on how you're supposed to get them. I don't want to spoil any (because what good is a surprise if you know it's coming?) but they're incredibly varied. What, you insist on examples? Well, in one chapter you're infiltrating a movie studio run by a train-loving owl (or so it claims) and a disco-dancing penguin, locked in a bitter feud with eachother. In another you're escaping a train that's about to self-destruct, and in a third you're locked in a Luigi's Mansion-style haunted house. You might notice a wink or two to other old-timey platformers.

In case you're wondering how these disparate parts function together, they work well. Hat Kid has a modest move set, but all of the game's challenges are built to fully make use of it. Not once in my playthroughs did I feel I was doing 'more of the same.' It even has engaging boss battles, which I feel few of its cousins have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_WX52cA9EI
You know that's not how contracts work, right?

Time pieces are the main collectible by which the story progresses, but there's more immaterial things to collect. The developers polished this game to a mirror-shine, and if you take a moment, you can't help but notice the tiny details present everywhere. For instance, in a treasure chest aboard her ship, there's a drawing of Hat Kid's parents. It's of no consequence to the story and you can only see it through careful camera manipulation, but someone took the effort to put it in. Or the million different facial expressions Hat Kid has. Bonk into a wall and she looks hurt. Run out of time on a certain mission and she looks worried. Or the dedicated taunt button that lets you blow raspberries any time you want. Or the double secret taunt that lets you dance real smug. Tiny things, and too numerous to list, but they show how much love was poured into the production process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVTx4B-u0oU#t=14s
That first idle animation is my favorite. Some grade-A characterization in 24 keyframes.

You meet a number of characters on your journey. Most try to exploit or kill you, usually both, and they're not the least bit coy about it. All have these larger-than-life cartoon villain personalities and their lines of dialogue are pure gold; you almost can't wait to hear what outrageous thing they're going to say next. They're not the kind of characters you'd expect to find in the Mushroom Kingdom. (The Empress - a cat who runs a jewel smuggling ring - would rob Peach blind. The Snatcher - a malevolent forest spirit - would probably turn Mario inside out because he can.) As a result they're all pretty memorable.


Yes, that RPG launcher fires diamond grenades.

The music deserves a special mention, both for its length (the soundtrack is over six hours long) and its bangers (click the video at the start of this post to inject 10 cc of nostalgia into your earholes for a game you're yet to play.) But much like the game itself, the music is characterized by its variation. It's difficult to describe, but in some levels the tracks mutate and evolve as you progress further into a level or do certain things. Instruments get added, or melodies become more complex. For instance, take the Nyakuza Metro level. Jump on a train car and there's a wooshing sound effect as the BPM picks up, a subtle reminder you're going fast. There's even a few remixes which don't play unless you're driving a scooter, something you might very well miss on a first playthrough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDxS8oK6hCc
Forcing me to pick a favorite track is like forcing me to pick a favorite kidney. Impossible, and quite possibly illegal -- depending on your intent.

This game is witty. Its jokes land, are funny, and don't become tired like so many games which try to be humorous on purpose. This game is pretty. Its aesthetic is like a more colorful Windwaker, and the levels are all unique and don't follow the woods-desert-beach-ice-lava progression philosophy of the genre. I can't possibly list every reason why I like it. Not only because there are too many, but because some are purely emotional and would only leak through the holes in the imperfect container that is the written word.

A Hat in Time was announced when I was finishing up my master's degree. Medically speaking, I was in a pretty bad state. My joints ached constantly, and I was tired all the time, and over the years my symptoms worsened. I stopped being able to eat, and at times I felt like I had swallowed a knife. What's worse, my doctor had no clue what was wrong with me. Watching this game grow from its original kickstarter demonstration offered a welcome distraction from the pain.

In 2015 I woke up one morning to find myself unable to walk. I got wheeled into the nearest hospital, and the last thing I remember is receiving a shot of morphine. It wasn't until years later my mother told me I spent some time in the intensive care unit, and that she believed I was going to die. These days I'm doing a lot better. My disease was diagnosed, and I now have the proper medication to mostly be without pain.

One of the hats you collect lets you stop time for a bit. Its description reads: "death is inevitable. Your time is valuable." I don't know if I ever got close to the brink of death, and quite frankly, I don't care to know. All I know is I'm glad I lived through it, and playing this game helped symbolically cap off that terrible time.

punk rebel ecks
Dec 11, 2010

We dance for socialism!


A Hat in Time is great. I just disliked the Seal DLC.

Ciaphas
Nov 20, 2005

> BEWARE, COWARD




I never did any of the DLC, myself, but now I kiiinda want to start anew and see it all again

In other news, I'm still thinking about Outer Wilds weeks after finishing it - enough so that I've been trying to find the words to post in this thread. But hoo boy is translating all my thoughts on the subject into actual readable English ever difficult

morallyobjected
Nov 3, 2012


I haven't done any DLC because they haven't been able/it isn't profitable enough to release it on PS4 and I don't want to rebuy it elsewhere, but the base game is adorable and fun

iSurrender
Aug 25, 2005
Now with 22% more apathy!

Fly Ricky posted:

These spoilers have me so stoked to play the reboots.

For content, one my top games ever is King of Dragon Pass.

I donít know how to describe the genre, but maybe text-based roguelike with beautiful art? You begin with a bunch of choices as to the history of your clan, and then attempt to build a Game of Thrones-ish empire across the land.

Turns are consecutive seasons of the years, and you are faced with not only managing the the funding of agriculture/exploration/military/etc., but also a unique event. These range from visitors to your land. paranormal phenomenon, making nice with neighbors, to fending off another clan attempting to overthrow yours.

While the amount of art is limited for practical reasons, there are an enormous amount of unique events so every play through seems fresh even after dozens of hours.

I have an almost an active dislike for the fantasy genre, but this game, and itís recent (and even better) sequel Six Ages are so good I find myself jumping into them for a bit every week.

For people who love King of Dragon Pass I feel obligated to recommend Thea: The Awakening, which while a very different games shares some of its qualities such as leading a small tribe in a world of underexplored mythology/lore with loads of text-heavy random events.

Bedlam
Feb 15, 2008

Angry thoughts



A Hat in Time also happens to be one of the few in the genre that went all in on mod support. You could easily double your content with awesome user created levels and get unique hats that do or dont break the game. For example, one mod hat you can get is Cappy and will make you be able to throw your hat and jump on it like in Mario Odyssey. Also you can get the water pack from sunshine. It's great.

dracky
Nov 8, 2010




My favorite game of all time is Dark Cloud 2 (aka Dark Chronicle) for the PS2.
I qualify it as such because I love playing it, I can play it over and over, and it's immensely satisfying in ways no other game is. It's the ultimate "desert island" game - if I could play no other games besides DC2 I'd be happy.
It's not perfect, no - it's obvious some of the mechanics like Monster Transformation aren't as fully developed as others. But still, I kinda appreciate it's there, just because they crammed so many different things to do in the game. Town building, inventing, crafting, photography, golf, fishing, pocket aquarium, weapon building, NPC recruitment, a rideable robot you can mix and match parts, said monster transformation which has a pokemon element of catching new types and evolving into more powerful ones.
And it's not like you're forced to do most of these things, most of the time you get a tutorial and a short task to finish and then you can either mess about with it for hours or just move on.
The main part of the game, going through randomly generated dungeons, is a really nice gaming loop that always feels like you're accomplishing something. EXP is tied to your weapons, which can level up, and then evolve into new ones once they reach certain stat requirements. Once a weapon reaches a certain level, you can break it down into a weapon sphere which is a consumable stat-up for your other weapons. In action this means you're managing several weapons, bringing out weaker ones to absorb up the EXP so you can break them down, leveling up the one you want to evolve to get more weapon points so you can fuse more materials to it. You're also alternating your characters based on the situation - Max has blunt weapons and guns, and Monica has swords and ranged magic, and there are different evolution trees for each type. So you've constantly got goals to accomplish - balancing out the strength of each weapon type so you're not stuck in a situation like a monster being only weak to Monica's magic and you're underlevelled in that area. It makes dungeon crawling and battling monsters super rewarding and fun. I'm surprised more RPG's haven't done a weapon building system like this one - it takes passive gameplay like random encounters and grinding exp into something you're actively managing. Final Fantasy 10 sort of came close by having your party members specialize in certain encounters and being able to swap freely between them, but weapons and sphere grids weren't very customizable until late game. DC2 is more like I've got a bunch of projects on the go, and dungeon crawling is going off gathering up exp and materials that I can put to use. It's not so wide open that I can break the game and get overpowered, certain things are still gated to story progression. But just something about leveling your weapon, gathering materials for upgrades, rationing out your points efficiently, building up a weapon just to break it down to upgrade another weapon - it's addicting.


This is fun, I swear

But aside from just getting stronger you're also rebuilding towns in a simplified Simcity type of deal - gathering up new part types and ticking off a checklist of certain things that need to be there in order to unlock the future version of the area. I love love love being able to go into a dungeon, grab a magic thing to unlock new parts, and go back to the town to build new houses and trees and rivers and bridges, and then walk around the town you made up close. The only part I think Dark Cloud 1 did better was to have individual people and their houses and belongings, it was funny to hear "you got (townsperson)" when you collected an orb in the dungeon. And it was satisfying to put people's homes back together and see them walking around. There's NPC's in DC2 but they immigrate from the hub town into the new settlements and then just stay inside.
The story and characters in DC2 are pretty weak. It has its moments but I've ignored the story for the most part. It has a show-don't-tell problem, characters just talk at you about what's happening. The music is lovely though! Especially the song after you've cleared the dungeon. Here I'll just link to it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqwcf2yjSWU
The artwork and environments are well done and very cozy. It would be nice if the story was better but I'm fine just skipping the cutscenes because playing the game is so fun on its own.

I haven't played another game like it. Terraria has some of the same elements, and I like Terraria a lot, but it's a different thing entirely. I'm playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and it has a lot of systems but so far not quite what I'm looking for.
Of course it would be great if there was a Dark Cloud 3 that kept things mostly the same and improved upon the weaker areas. Or an entirely different IP doing a spiritual sequel. But at the same time I'm fine with just having the game we got, because what it got right got as close to perfection as I see it.

Rinkles
Oct 24, 2010

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


dracky posted:


My favorite game of all time is Dark Cloud 2 (aka Dark Chronicle) for the PS2.
I qualify it as such because I love playing it, I can play it over and over, and it's immensely satisfying in ways no other game is. It's the ultimate "desert island" game - if I could play no other games besides DC2 I'd be happy.

Is Dark Cloud 1 required reading gaming to get into 2?

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Senerio
Oct 19, 2009

Ooh! Are we messing with Adora?





Rinkles posted:

Is Dark Cloud 1 required reading gaming to get into 2?

Not really. Dark Cloud 2 has a shout out here and there (especially in the postgame dungeon) but it's not necessary.

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