Trying to update game stuff again
January 09, 2019

At the moment, I'm playing five games. By the end of the year, it'll be three at once with a fourth slot available for retro action titles for those times when it looks like it'd take a LONG time to get a review out for anything I'm focusing upon. Seems, really, that of the current five, I have two that I spend a lot of time on, two I get to here and there and one that I'll be lucky to remember anything about when it's time to review it.

As for reviewing, now that I have Ocarina of Time 3D finished, I'll have to write Kingdoms of Amalur. A decent game that is good at times in that "Skyrim-lite" sort of way. But by the time I was finishing the game and working on the DLC quests, I was more than ready to move on to something else.

1. Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far (PS4): So, yeah, I bought a PS4 at the end of November and have been focused on playing a bunch of HD-turned games originally on the PS2 and various hand-held systems! YAY FOR DECISION MAKING!!!! After finishing Kingdom Hearts, I figured I'd never touch this series again, but then I saw previews for KH III and abruptly changed my mind on that. The Story So Far is one of those hilariously unessential collections, as it is nothing more than the 1.5 + 2.5 disc combined with the 2.8 disc. In fact, each disc is labeled as such, so it's basically them taking leftover discs for those two collections and dumping them into a new case to sell them all together. Right now, I have experience with four of the offerings on the 1.5 + 2.5 disc.

a. Kingdom Hearts Final Mix -- it looks better than KH (duh) and plays better, as the camera is more responsive (use right analog instead of shoulder buttons). Since I've beaten the game, I just put it on Beginner to rip through it and it is easy as hell on this mode, so I can appreciate the improvements. The only awkward areas are some of the really cramped locales (like the area at the end of Deep Jungle where you have to ascend a very compact area to get to the Keyhole), as the camera does not work remotely competently there. But in the more open areas, it doesn't get caught up on random stuff that often. Hell, this game even kinda sorta redeems the Gummi Ship levels, as they look less ugly and you get scores and mission objectives for trophies to at least give them a purpose beyond "stupid annoyance". First game got a 6/10, but I'd say this version is at least a 7, if not an 8. Progress: most of the way through with Agrabah.

b. Chain of Memories -- A fast-paced card battle game? PURE F'ING CRAP!!!! I started it, quickly started over on Beginner to just get the story without having to work on the game and, after getting to the end of the 10th floor with Sora (first fight with Vexen), I quit and just watched all the cutscenes on YouTube to get the story. I understand that the GBA had limitations so that you couldn't have a regular KH game, and that is why they went to card battles, but here, on what is a remake of the PS2 port... It basically looks and feels like Kingdom Hearts with randomly generated dungeons, but you have to watch your cards and use them strategically or your attacks won't work. Hated it. Hilariously, this crap game was the introduction for Organization XIII, who took over the mantle of primary series villains from Maleficiant and the Disney ones. Ignoble beginning to their scheming, I'd say.

c. 358/2 Days -- I feel bad for this DS game, as Chain of Memories was replicated in full and this one is only here as a cutscene movie. A lot of it was kind of dull, just focusing on Roxas, Xion and Axel eating ice cream and talking, but the last 30-45 minutes was reasonably fun to watch as the shit hit the fan.

d. Kingdom Hearts II FInal Mix -- Now this game is good. Streamlined things a bit to focus on action that mainly revolves around spamming X or the square button if you're more block, then attack-centric and hitting triangle when you get reaction commands. HD, it looks really good and I'm amazed at how many diversions there are, from all the mini-games, actual REAL boss fights with the Organization members killed off in Chains of Memories hidden in books and so on. Hell, the Gummi Ship levels are legitimately enjoyable here. They look good and provide a good variety of locales to blast stuff on. Progress: just started the first trip to Space Paranoids (TRON).

2. Borderlands 2 (360): Starting this game took forever. Because it has so much DLC compared to the other two 360 Borderlands games, on the Triple Pack, its DLC is scattered throughout all three add-on discs, so if you want to install everything on your hard drive, you need to go through four separate discs to get it all -- one for the main game, one for most of the DLC and 2 for one DLC each. The game is a lot of fun, though. A lot tougher to play solo than the first game, as enemies move around more. I've had moments of rage because I'm trying to kill one weak-ass bandit and it keeps hopping around, dodging every damn bullet I'm sending his way. I'm in the very early stages here. As in I just entered Sanctuary for the very first time.

3. Avadon 3: Warborn (Steam): The conclusion to Spiderweb's trilogy. It's like the other two games with the addition of spells that leave area-of-effect damaging zones around enemies when cast on them. The writing is a bit better, too. You're basically cleaning up all the loose ends from the rebellion against Avadon, but the main confrontation is between Redbeard (brutal keeper of Avadon who is on the run and without his official status) and the "new" Avadon, with you caught in the middle. Most everyone has an opinion on Redbeard and, by proxy, you and it plays out in a way that it's easy to feel really paranoid as you play it, with characters watching you and judging you based on how you handle situations, which escalate as time goes on. Up to the point where my collection of Hands has killed other Hands simply because they're opposed to Redbeard having power again and we were working on his behalf (under not-so-veiled threats by him). While meanwhile, Redbeard went from LOVING my dude early in the game to not even disguising contempt. It is because others are right and he gets paranoid about anyone close to him and looks for reasons to "remove" them? Is it because he's mentally declining to the point where everyone looks like an enemy? Is it because my methods aren't brutal enough for his liking? Or is it because I'm the sort of guy who follows his orders, but also works with others to undermine him (mainly out of spite for his complements turning to insults) and this series has shown he knows A LOT, meaning he probably is aware to some degree of my activities? READ ON TO FIND OUT!!!! Progress: If this game is similar in size to the first two, I'm between 2/3 and 3/4 done. The first one took me 44 hours and the second, 47 -- currently around 35 or so, I think.

4. Spyro: Year of the Dragon (PS): Midway through the second of four worlds in this game. I generally like it a lot, as there is a variety of things to do and doing them all makes most of these levels end up pretty large. The PlayStation camera is primitive and awkward and, of the optional challenges for Dragon Eggs, that wide variety also means that you'll like some and really dislike others. I do like the addition of 4 support characters that you rescue, one in each world, each with its own control scheme. I've got the kangaroo (short range kick attack, but superior jumping skills) and bird (flies and uses rocket launcher).

5. Skyblazer (SNES): I have about three levels to go. I last played it the middle of December. It'll be fun writing the review for it when it's time to go there. It's a decent action game that looks very good for the time and plays okay, I guess. Collision detection isn't that great all the time, which is noticeable because of how short-range your attack is. A lot of level diversity as each one seems to have its own sorts of challenges to overcome. Some of those challenges can be annoying, though. Going through a maze of currents taking you different directions while trying to hit the levels that change certain currents to advance, while fighting enemies on your way to arguably the most annoying boss in the game? NO THANKS!

Most recent blog posts from Rob Hamilton...

Masters Masters - January 10, 2019 (07:45 AM)
Skyblazer is fucking awesome. It was one of those underrated gems in its day, that hardcore gamers were all too eager to hold up as example of their hardcoreness. I didn't have any of the issues you mentioned re controls, but I know it can be unforgiving.

Actually, the practice of revisiting, or going back and playing for the first time, old school 8 or 16-bit action games in particular is a tricky business. They are often very hard and almost unapproachable/inaccessible by today's standards, with no fucks given about any of that.

I tried replaying ActRaiser 2 a few weeks ago.

What the hell? I beat this game in its time. I loathed my time with it this time 'round, playing it on easy. There's just no margin for error.

I think I've figured out the word to best describe most old school action games: unreasonable. What they expect from the gamer was unreasonable, and these days, we're like "yeah right!" and we move on to another of our billion choices of games to play and spend more time with ones that don't castrate us right out of the gate.
overdrive overdrive - January 10, 2019 (02:14 PM)
And I think a lot of that comes around to, whether you've played a lot of games in that era or not, if you played THAT game. When I reviewed ActRaiser 2 way back (might have even been my first review, or at least one of the first, that got some sort of GFaqs acclaim from the gang), I had the exact experience you described from your replay attempt. And that's what Skyblazer is like for me. It's fun, but hard as hell in that "do one or two stages and that's it for one session; move on to something a bit more manageable now" way. But there are a lot of games where someone not familiar with it would be in utter hate of it, but since I know it, I don't have those problems. Now, ActRaiser 2 wouldn't fit in that group, because it was all about action and like you said, no margin for error WHILE controlling a guy who wasn't all that nimble. Nowadays, most people aren't going to take the time to get completely sucked into a game like that to get to the point where they're actually really good at it.
honestgamer honestgamer - January 11, 2019 (03:06 PM)
I always wanted to play and love ActRaiser 2, because it looked absolutely gorgeous in Nintendo Power. The one time I played it, though, it soundly kicked my butt. So anyway, I have owned it on two separate occasions in my life, including one time that persists to this day. I figured it would be better to buy the game and keep it around this time, even if I never get to it, than to risk having to buy it much later when the price has gone up due to its relative rarity. I have no idea what it goes for right now, but I obtained it at a pretty reasonable price so that will have to do.
Masters Masters - January 11, 2019 (08:08 PM)
Sounds like it owns you.

Had to be said.

Also, have you had a recent go at it? You'll probably find that however badly your butt was kicked way back when, this time will be much, much worse.

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