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Below, you can see the 20 most recent posts in the forums, starting with the most recent post first and working backwards. Signatures, avatars and other related information have been stripped so that the page will load quickly. Each post contains a link to the thread where it was posted so you can click to see it in its original context.

Ooooh! A controversial result! Not because of who the winners are, mind you -- everyone's review was good, I read them all and concur with Jason -- but it's always controversial when a Former Site King finishes off the podium.

Anyway, glad to see a bump in volume this week, and even in quality, which was never lacking in the first place. Good job getting your controversial RotW up so fast, Venter.

You were right, hasty, and I've fixed it.

Jason, I'm pretty confident the first mention of Beetlejuice has the correct hyperlink, but wrong text. It didn't make sense until I realized I knew which review you were talking about.

As always congrats to the contributors!

This last week was a terrific one for review submissions, as seven unique people contributed analysis of a nice variety of games. Alas, I was one of those seven people, which means my review gets shuffled off to next week for Joe to read. That leaves only six high-quality reviews for me to consider.

First off, here are the three reviews that didn't rank on this unusually competitive week.

Super Neptunia RPG (PC) by One41

This is a competent review, well organized and with attention to the details that are likely to matter most to readers. The no-frills approach provides the sort of critique I would like to see every game receive, because so many games release these days that some of them never really receive the sort of old-fashioned, effective criticism a consumer might use to decide whether or not to make a purchase. It's not a review that ranks well in topics such as this one, but I'm pleased to have it on the site because I know it will be a good resource for consumers. Thanks!

No Man's Sky (PC) by Brian

This review was longer and and a bit denser than I personally found useful. It focused too much on hype versus reality for my taste, and not enough on an explanation of mechanics and their highlights. I realize the point about the early hype had to be addressed, given that you're reviewing a game notorious for evolving over time, some distance into its evolution. I also (mostly) liked your smartly chosen comparison between early critics and players and the Gibson character. Some of the sentences had rough patches that needed ironed out, but there wer ealso examples of strong writing throughout, as I have come to expect. I came away from the reading with a good sense of what you liked--the exploration and the attention to detail--but not a lot of details that might tell me whether I am likely to feel similarly.

The Princess, the Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart (PC) by EmP

There were a couple of minor grammatical errors or just misplaced words in this review (you said "climate" when you meant "acclimate" in one instance, and "exists" when you meant "exist"), but mostly the writing was very strong even though the coverage itself was--as your introduction warned--a bit of a mess. It's always a shame when censorship robs a story of a substantial portion of what made that story one worth telling in the first place, as seems to have happened here. That's an unfortunate reality that you do well to explore here, and I definitely came away understanding why the censorship crossed a line in this particular case. I'm frustrated with something I've never even played. I do wish you had gone into a little more detail on what makes the girls unique, or similar information, but since you managed to convince me that the game probably isn't worth playing in any event, I don't suppose that matters as much as it would have if the censorship weren't excessive. My toughest choice this week was deciding who to rank third: you or overdrive. Ultimately, I gave the nod to overdrive because his review covered a broader swath of useful information. It was a tough call.

And that means it is time to look at the ones that clawed their way to the top of the heap...

Third Place: The Witcher (PC) by overdrive

This was an enjoyable review. The discussion about why you play WRPGs and how The Witcher catered to that logic was a good way to open up a review of a game in that franchise, because it lets readers decide whether they agree with that perspective and lends anything you say after that an air of increased credibility (assuming they do think like you). The nitty-gritty game discussion that followed was a bit less interesting and the approach seemed a bit more scattered, but your discussion of combat was important and suitably detailed. I think you've painted an effective picture of how the game plays, and I think you'll be pleased with how the franchise progresses from there.

Runner Up: Beetlejuice (NES) by JoeTheDestroyer

This review makes Beetlejuice sound so awful I can scarcely believe it was even released in that state. But it was, and a Game Boy version happened too. LJN published the title across the platforms, which isn't a huge surprise given that company's affinity for license-based fare, but with so many things that went wrong and considering the pedigree of the developer responsible, I'm surprised the result isn't notorious. The item management in particular sounds unusually bad. You're absolutely sure there's no way to cycle through acquired items to use only the one you want? Piled together with all the other awful stuff, including ways the game traps you so that you basically can't progress, Beetlejuice sounds like a total disaster. Frankly, I'm surprised you gave it the extra half-star over a 1/5 rating. You really made the most of the material the game provided and wrote one of the most damning bash reviews I've read in a good long while.

Review of the Week: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch) by Mariner

It's difficult to find a lot to say about platformers now that might come across as insightful, but sometimes we all can use reminders. This review provides those beautifully. I loved the dissection of the platformer and what makes the good ones tick, near the beginning, which followed a spot-on metaphor. The New Super Mario Bros. games have always appealed to me, but they also have felt like a slightly tarnished imitation of their stellar predecessors. You perfectly (I feel) summed up just why that is, while providing details that should let newcomers know what makes this particular game work so capably to produce a final product that is still very good, even if it isn't as good as one might have wished. That's enough to win you the week.

Well, that's enough from me for another week! Thanks to all who contributed to make this an exceptional week full of great reviews, and congratulations on some spirited competition. There wasn't a weak review in the lot. Keep 'em coming!

Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers
PS4
https://store.na.square-enix-games.com/en_US/product/527749/final-fantasy-xiv-shadowbringers-standard-edition-ps4

Added.

I got off to a good start! And then I did something like 2 reviews in 4 months and that was kind of the end of that.

Look at Emp, making his move! Can he prevent Joe from leading this thing from wire to wire? And I see Pickhut is having a solid year too.

This weather has had me in a state so I've not been able to contribute, but I'm glad to see things carrying on: Congratulations to the participants!

Congrats mainly to Rob for scoring an easy week. We just about pulled the numbers for the podium, and decent reviews were had by all. Good job to all who subbed; better job to me!

Only three reviews to do this week, which makes me happy in my role of "guy who reads and judges reviews". Now that I'm not buried at work, I'm enjoying having a bit more "breathing time" to work on my personal projects and writing actual reviews myself, so only having to take a little bit of time away from that to do this is very welcome!

So, with no further ado, let's rank these things!

THIRD PLACE

vgc2000's Astro Chase (Atari 5200)

Huh, not every week we get an Atari 5200 review on this site. And this is a game I'd not heard about before. Which probably shouldn't surprise me, as I never owned or played this system and mainly knew it from how its ports looked better in magazines than those on my Atari 2600. This is a short review that does suffer a bit from phrasing choices (like using "not much fun to play" twice in the opening sentence, for example), but it does get its point across. It's a game that's not inherently bad, but takes too long to get going and winds up being dull because of that.

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SECOND PLACE

Brian's Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (PC)

Damn, this was a dense review! I have to admit that it took me a little while to get through this one, as I've not played any Hitman games and, therefore, at time struggled when you compared something here to something in another game. And I have to admit that I'm not overly sold on your high rating, as to me, it read like you were saying "This game is fun if you dedicate yourself to taking advantage of its jankiness concerning the stealth. But you do show that you know what you're talking about as far as this series go and do a good job of coming off as a voice of authority on Hitman. I don't know if its the most accessible review for a person interesting in learning about Hitman, but for a person with knowledge of the series and the original game that this seems to be a remake of, I can see it being a really good read.

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REVIEW OF THE WEEK (aka: Overdrive Place)

EmP's Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC)

I particularly liked your opening bit, especially since you've ragged on me before for playing some hit game a decade after everyone else, so it's nice to see you fall into that EXACT SAME TRAP of juggling so much stuff that you can occasionally wind up way behind the times. As someone who played this game WAY BEFORE YOU, reading this review brought me back down memory lane. It's not a particularly long review, but you seem to touch on all the key points from the stealth-based battling to panic enemies to the detective work to the Scarecrow's hallucination levels. This just came off as a tightly-written review that was quite satisfying to read. And that's enough praise for you, Mr. Behind The Times.
---

And that's that. Back again to do this in a few more weeks.

Gears of War 4
Xbox One
https://www.ign.com/games/gears-of-war-4

Added.

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
PS4
https://www.ign.com/games/until-dawn-rush-of-blood

Added.

Hey, thanks for getting this up quickly and the critique. I was worried that my rambling about save scumming would get in the way. It really wouldn't have bothered me as much in that game if I could truly save scum, and not have to go back through a long string of events every time I screw up an RNG-oriented event. Oh well.

are there any killer apps?

I've only played a few games in VR so far (actually, all the VR reviews I've written have been for games I've played from start to finish), so I can't really say there's a "killer app." At this point in time, I can only "recommend" based on what other people are praising as quality VR experiences, stuff like Resident Evil 7, Tetris Effect, Moss, Beat Saber (music rhythm title), Astro Bot (the PSVR's equivalent to a 3D Super Mario game), and Raw Data. I've been meaning to get to those, but at the same time, there's a surprisingly sizable catalog of VR titles on the PS4 to try, so I also want to uncover any "hidden gems."

Though, of the games I've played so far that shows the huge potential in VR gaming, titles like Pixel Ripped 1989, Statik, and Superhot VR were unique experiences, in spite of their downsides.

It's always a bit of a risk for me to write reviews when I'm working long hours. I tried to give it time so I could edit it for better clarity, but once again it boils down to organization at the outset.

Boy these lessons aren't subtle, are they? As always I appreciate the feedback. Congratulations to everyone who posted/participated!

Thanks, Pick! I tried the PS4 VR unit at an exhibition the other day... was wondering if it's worth a more serious look. You are definitely the resident expert: are there any killer apps?

Thanks for the second placement.

Funnily enough, the part about VR time constraints didn't actually enter the equation until I was towards the end of the game and wanted to end things as fast as possible. When a dialogue-heavy scene popped up, I pressed every single button on the controller, and to my shock, there wasn't an option to skip. That's when I decided to force myself through all the talking just to do two action stages in one session; by the end, all I could think about was taking the headset off to stop this strained feeling, but I needed to reach an autosave point.... But then there was more talking. It was torture.

Basically: don't waste players' time in VR. If you're gonna "pad," you better make it worthwhile.

Congrats on getting RotW, Masters! Been meaning to get that collection for some time, and while it could have been more (the collection), I liked your approach in the review. Good on everyone else on participating this week, as well.

Thanks for keeping things timely, so you don't look like a hypocrite if you remind others that they're running a bit late with their own topics. Not that such a thing would ever happen! Also, congratulations to the winners, and to all who participated to make this another solid week!

Thanks for a surprisingly punctual and insightful RotW, and the win of course. We just need to get our volume up!

High (comparative) numbers for me -- six reviews. I’ll still do this early; I need the rest of the week for grumping.

I had a lot of trouble with the ordering for these; I would change my mind on the positions right up to posting. I'll probably change my mind again afterwards. It was a very good week for reviews and you all deserve props




Starlink: Battle for Atlas [SWH] Hastypixels

It’s a rambly week this week, so we’ll start off with Hasty, who has a lot to say about Starlink, but perhaps in a way that could be better organized. Some of the information could be ordered better, so that you’re not talking about things before you’ve explained them -- this whole scan a toy nonsense holds zero interest with me, so I’m more or less ignorant of the entire scheme. Other bits of terminology turn up out of sync, like Arwing and Snow Drop.

But what this review does well once it gets going is how it hides it length with no small degree of enthusiasm. It’s probably as long as it it because you want to talk about Starlink and, because that shines through, it becomes an interesting read. I thought it closed especially strongly.

Double Dragon [NES] CptRetroBlue

Cpt has adopted screenshots into this review, but still has a habit of spacing them weird. I feel like I’ve said this before? You probably want to aim for at least two paragraphs of text between shots otherwise it looks weirdly stretched. Still, it’s a good review on what everyone believes to be a brave conversation of the foundation of brawlers. Aside from Pick; he wasn’t a fan

Danger Zone 2 [PS4] Sam1193

Sam’s clearly a very good writer and, for the purpose of this review, perhaps too good. There’s a weird criticism I’m not able to level very often. This review goes in and makes its points very well, but it suffers from being overlong and overwritten in places. Sometimes, you dwell on subjects too long and, sometimes, some word choices come across as thesaurus abuse. I’m not sure you need to bust out the likes of ‘diegetic’, ‘luxuriate’ and ‘analogous’ to talk about a diet Burnout attempt. All these words are used correctly and within the right context, it just seems like overkill. It works in points -- the introduction is very strong, and it helps relay your authority on some subjects, like talking about the previous Burnout series --but we already know you’re really good at this, dude. No need to overdo it!





THIRD Riviera: The Promised Land (PSP) Joe


Half this review is, basically, an argument towards save state scumming and, as someone with two decades of X-COM fanatasim under their belt, I struggle to accept that.

That isn’t to say I don’t get it, or that Joe’s argument in this context is without merit. It’s clear that Riviera wants you to play through the game with a sizable dose of RNG powering your adventure, but Joe makes the point that RNG is dumb and gifts you nonsense. Seeing as JRPGs are often digitized wars against your own personal OCD (I remember the sleepless nights worrying about that one chest I couldn’t figure out how to access in random dungeon #256), I get that missing out of an item because of a failed QTE or the RNG not rolling your way is rage fuel, but isn’t that the game’s sell? That each playthrough will be different because you’re not guaranteed the same items on each trip? I dunno; I’m arguing with myself here.

Joe does well to address this and sets out his stall on the matter early, but it dominates the review. The rest of the talking points kind of get swallowed up by it.


SECOND Blood & Truth [PS4] Pickhut


I’m not a big VR player, so little details like how you can only play VR games for X amount of time before you get tired make perfect sense yet, at the same time, is a facet I would have never imagined being an issue. Pick brings this up in order to highlight that while boring plot dump sections will always be boring, in this particular instance they’re doubly damning because they eat into that small window you have before you’re forced to stop playing. It’s a clever insight only obvious to people with a lot of VR time under their belt. Pick suffers to educate us.

The review itself is solid throughout, explaining the foundations of the game as a mini title expanded into a full game that fails to learn from its initial mistakes. Talking about how both strains have you groping at object while people chat in the background sounded particularly painful.


WIN Castlevania Anniversary Collection (PC) Masters


The universal rule to collections is that they always disappoint someone as an actual collection. Game X should have been included, say the braying mob, or why is Game Y included while Game Z isn’t, they demand. Marc’s happy to join in with the pitchfork waving, but takes the difficult stance of, while the collection could and perhaps should have been better, it still contains a lot of excellent titles that make the collection as a whole more than worthwhile.

Collection reviews are bastards. Most of us have had a go at them at some point, and are painfully aware of that fact, but Marc tackles this one masterfully. There’s already a bunch of universal complaints leveled at the collection which are addressed early. So he can get on with proving each title’s worth succinctly. You could say that it’s geared towards a returning player base rather than those new to Castlevania, but I’ve played precious little of these games (don’t judge me!) and managed to follow the mini reviews fine. I look forward to the seven individual reviews that follow, ETA 2025.

Marc probably wins out because only a third of his review is an advocate for save scumming.

Adventure titles like this are excellent picks for contests...

SHOTS FIRED @ ROB

Appreciate the win; I've never been able to settle into the mindset that X in my genre, but perhaps adventure games are my longest standing vice. Beating Discwolrd in a time before online FAQS and walkthrough fosters that on you, I suppose. Duty was a fun little game, and I hope it does well.

Props to Marc and Jason, who both seem to have woken up in the last few weeks to help pick up the numbers.

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