I've done pretty well this year, although as ever I seem to spend a lot of time re-playing old games. However, I also made a concerted effort to play through some PS4 and 3DS games that have been sitting in either my "to play" or "to buy" pile for years. Yay, progress!
Let's go back to January, then:
- Crash Bandicoot (PS1). I got an urge to play this and all the other PS1 Crash games on my Vita, so I did. This is probably the hardest of the three but I cleared it to 100% anyway. This game always reminds me of the early PS1 days when I borrowed my sister's PlayStation before I had my own. The music in particular is nostalgic and instantly takes me back there. It's honestly a decent platformer, from that weird era when 2D games were going out of fashion and Mario was changing the world.
- Crash Bandicoot 2 (PS1). Completed to 100% also. As above, but this one is legit better in every way. Refined mechanics, new moves and some very devious secrets and hidden levels. Again, really weird playing this again after so long!
- Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1). Completed to 104%, missed one gem for collecting all gold relics. Yeah, this must be where the weird completion stats started in Crash games. Naughty Dog did incredible things with the PS1 hardware, but otherwise it's not quite as essential as no.2. The new moves and extra controls also don't carry over to the Vita quite so well, requiring some fiddling. The 1950s themed motorcycle sections put me in the mood for...
- Full Throttle Remastered (Vita). Completed twice (played through it a second time with the audio commentaries). So I've played the original via SCUMMVM years ago and I wanted to give the remastered version a try. The new graphics are lovely, faithfully redrawn and consistent in style. A fantastic package and a pleasure to play through again.
Nothing for February. Still working through things.
- Rayman Origins (Vita). Completed all levels with all electoons, plus the bonus level. This was a really nice platformer with a lovely flow to its level design. Some frustration aside, I enjoyed it a lot.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC). Finally completed this after being on it for months. All story missions done at least once, total completion at 49%, total playtime 84 hours. I've given my opinions on this game in the Retro topic, as it concluded my otherwise retro Metal Gear marathon. Short version: really very good, but clearly unfinished.
- Her Story (PC). Pieced the story together and viewed all clips (4 hours). This was fantastic and I can't say why without spoiling it. I will definitely have to play the follow-up game from the same developer.
- Pony Island (PC). Played it to the end... I think? And then deleted it (2 hours). This was another delightful nugget to be consumed in a single evening. Again, I don't want to spoil what's so good about it if you haven't played it. I guess it's sort of a platformer crossed with a desktop simulator with some puzzle solving, but it's also totally crazy and disturbing. There is one moment where it legitimately freaked me the hell out and I will recommend it forever for that if nothing else.
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (PS1). Completed once, got the bad ending (11 hours). So this is a platform game in the form of Another World, Flashback and so on - precision canned animations, and very deadly traps. It's obscenely hard, very frustrating and you need to replay the whole thing if you fuck up and get the bad ending due to not rescuing enough thingummies. I didn't really want to. It's ugly as sin, but the pre-rendered technology was pretty clever technically.
- Cave Story+ (PC). Completed the main story mode once, on 'Easy' (5 hours). I can't recall if Easy is the default mode but I wouldn't have wanted it to be much harder than that. I quite enjoyed it - it's fun to actually play but it's a very odd game. More involved and deeper than the traditional retro games it's imitating, but still feels under-cooked in a few ways.
- Sunset (PC). Played through once (3 hours). Another PC indie game one-nighter. This is a story-driven game where the environment tells the story, a bit like Gone Home, but set in the 1970s amidst a South American revolution, and all within the walls of a single apartment. It feels like it's going to end after every 'day', but it just keeps going. I did enjoy it but I was growing bored (and sleepy) by the time it finally concluded. Worth a look, I guess.
- Super Mario World (SNES mini). Okay, so I love Super Mario World; I've had it on my list of all-time favourite games for years, but I realised I'd only ever played the GBA port and not the original. So with my SNES mini, I decided to correct this! And, to be honest, I kinda didn't like it as much. Maybe the game itself is harder or maybe playing on a TV is just a bit laggier, but I found it frequently frustrating. I was dying all over the place and really struggled on some of the later levels. I'd also completely forgotten where the secret exits were and didn't particularly feel like looking for them. As such, I 'finished' the game with the first ending only, having opened only 48 exits. I don't want to ruin the good memories.
- Pilotwings (SNES mini). Yes, I added this game to my SNES mini via a simple hack. It should have been on there in the first place - a shocking omission. It's really good! Using save states instead of writing down passwords (and abusing said save states a little bit towards the end), I cleared all the lessons and expert lessons. As an early title for the SNES, this was a game that really showed off what the specific hardware could do.
- Shadow of the Colossus (PS4). Completed on normal and hard difficulties. One of my favourite games on the PS2, again on the PS3 and on the PS4 it's better than ever. 60fps on a Pro console is a game-changer, and it looks gorgeous. A phenomenal game and one I will probably go back to again before too long.
- Alunda (PS1). Completed once (41 hours). The short version is this is not a very good game; it's like Zelda but with all the fun sucked out of it. For the long version, see my comments in the Retro folder from back in June.
- Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4). Well, I really liked the previous two Arkham games (never played Origins) so it took me far too long to get around to this one, but as I said, I was making a concerted effort to get around to missed games this year. Knight is another winner, though Asylum remains my favourite. Overused Batmobile sections aside, I loved it. Completed on normal, all missions and side missions done except for the Riddler trophies, which can frankly sod off. Watched the 'extra' ending on YouTube instead. Playtime: 34 hours.
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS). Waiting for games to get cheap is how I roll. Well worth the eight quid or whatever it cost me. I must admit, I never quite grew into the notion of all battle commands requiring stickers, like it never felt right to me as a hoarder to keep using stuff up just to fight enemies. But I had to let it go and just get on with it, and I'm glad I did. This was a nice game. Not amazing, but a nice bit of Nintendo papercraft charm. Completed 100% (with the help of a guide for the last few stickers!) (37 hours).
- Spider-Man (PS4). I posted my thoughts (and photos!) in the dedicated topic. To summarise, I think the swinging mechanic - the most important part of a Spider-Man game - is still lacking something, yet despite that this is still my favourite Spider-Man game, so everything else must be good. The combat, which I initially hated, became my favourite part. So much so that I played and played and played to 100%. I don't necessarily want the DLC but I look forward to a sequel, for sure.
- 3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS). Yeah, I frequently replay Sonic games. With the first two, I have two options for the definitive experience - the Retro Engine remakes on iOS/Android, or the stereoscopic conversion for the 3DS virtual-"Megadrive 3D". This time, I went with the latter, and as well as completing them both in September (all Emeralds run, no cheating!) I played through them again on Christmas day, because Christmas day has to be Sonic day. Has to be.
- 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS). As above. The sequel goes kinda crazy with the 3D effect, with even the grass overhang on platforms 'popping' out. These are really clever conversions because they're still basically Megadrive games with all the limitations therein. It's just that they've had Z-depth information added to every object, pixel, sprite, whatever. The special stages are insane, I have no idea how they managed to make them 3D. That said, the characters look like they're floating above the tunnel floor - the effect isn't quite right. Everything else looks excellent, though - and some of the glitches from the original game are fixed. I completed this with all Emeralds again - Supersonic ending.
- Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. (3DS). Completed once on normal, rescued all Pi'illo Folk (44 hours). Sits below Superstar Saga, naturally. Probably on par with Bower's Inside Story, or maybe slightly worse. But come on, all of these games are good, even the ones that are less good. More thoughts in the topic thread.
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch (Vita). Indie PC game that I decided to get on a handheld instead, because that's where I actually have a lot of time to play things. This is a game that is 'intentionally' frustrating, like that's the point of it. A bit like Goat Simulator but less funny. No, maybe more funny. I dunno. It's a one-note idea that doesn't outstay its welcome. Completed once on normal difficulty.
- Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PS4). Completed all levels and challenges, rescued all Bots and collected all capsules. I've typed enough words about this game, but the short version is: it's amazing. If you've got a PSVR but haven't got Astro Bot, get Astro Bot. If you haven't got a PSVR, get a PSVR. And then get Astro Bot.
- WipEout Omega Collection (PS4). I got at least a medal (mostly golds) in all HD/Fury events, and finished all the 2048 events except for A+ and prototype challenges. I also played a few races in VR, but then I got sick. So I think I'm done with it. A very nice remastered collection for WipEout fans. Just a shame the custom soundtrack feature was changed from how it worked on PS3.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS). Completed all 25 levels at least once, generally around intensity 3 or 4 (11 hours). A surprisingly good game let down by the discomfort of its control scheme. That said, I was willing to put up with it and pretty much loved it anyway. Glad I finally got around to playing it, and glad I waited for a super-stable 'New' 3DS to play it on.
- Tomb Raider II (PC). So this was the second in my 'retro replay' Tomb Raider marathon, after modding the shit out of it. Like the first game last year, I streamed every level to Twitch/Youtube and posted my thoughts in the Retro folder. TR3 is next on the list but I don't know when I'll get around to it.
Finally, onto earlier this month - December:
- Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. (3DS). So it's come to this - crossovers. I'll just quote myself from the "3DS Resurrection thread":
Finally, some more SNES mini games to conclude the year:
- Super Castlevania IV (SNES mini). Completed once, but had to use some save states to help me near the end. That Dracula fight, man. Ouch!
- Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES mini). Yet more bastard hard run-and-gun gameplay. I did pretty well, but by the time I could get to the half-way point comfortably, I couldn't be arsed to replay the first three levels again, so I stuck a save state down and carried on from there a few more times. Then I used more save states during the final level, and just before the final boss. Didn't get a chance to try 2-player. It's good, though - just relentlessly difficult, man! How did we play these games back then? Patience, lots of it.
- Super Mario Kart (SNES mini). Finally went back to this and got golds on the 100cc and 150cc modes. The latter needed some save state help, as the game is just ridiculously unfair. I mean that literally, it cheats! Rubber-banding and phantom pick-ups. And a pox on those who nudge you slightly during a perfectly-planned power-slide and push you into wall facing backwards. Fuck you, man! I mean, it's clearly the best Mario Kart game but it's also just the worst. The Worst.
- Star Fox (SNES mini). Aka Starwing. Forced my way through all three routes eventually. So apparently, the Super FX ship was supposed to be more powerful than it ended up being in its first iteration. I wonder if a better chip would have smoothed out the appalling framerate in this game, as it's a struggle to play it in 2019 - even for me. Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing feat for its time, and it's still a somewhat enjoyable game to play today, but I really did struggle to get through some bits of it. It loses its magic after the opening level, I reckon. Dat music!
Abandoned games on 2019:
- Crash Team Racing (PS1). I loved this back in the day, but the technology is pushing the old PS1 hardware a little too far for me in 2019. Also my Vita screwed up and I lost my save file, so I abandoned it. It has made me want to play the remake, though.
- Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (Vita). This is another instance of the hardware being unsuited to the job. Absolutely appalling framerate on Vita (sub 20fps in parts, I swear!) - I gave up on this version minutes into starting. For a game that was so smooth, this is a piss poor port that loses its single defining "feel". Thankfully, it came with the 60fps PS3 version at no extra cost, so I will play through them all properly at some point in the future.
- Micro Machines V3 (PS1). Also on Vita. I abandoned this because it's too fucking hard! Well, I dabbled with the 1-player Challenge mode, which is the part that's too fucking hard. It's a game for multiplayer parties, really, but it was nice to revisit it.
- Tumble VR (PS4). Abandoned for now; may dabble some more next year if I'm looking for something to play in VR. It's a nice enough game, I just never got fully into it. Also, I experienced a bug on one level, which has put me off it a little.
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (PS4). As above, I will probably never 'complete' this. However, it is excellent and original and brilliant. It just needs multiple people all willing to practice with each other, and I can't often find the time to do that. So, abandoned for now.
- Star Trek: Bridge Crew (PS4). Another one that needs multiple players, and I don't have an online sub, so I've only played it solo. Which is fine, just fiddly and difficult. And slow, very slow. But it's something I will go back into and dabble with in future. It's my own personal virtual Star Trek bridge and that's just really damned cool.
- Ultrawings (PS4). So, on the one hand, this is really cool and clever and neat. On the other, it gives me motion sickness and the controls are hard to adjust to because you can't feel what your hands are doing. I also didn't like the structure enough to keep playing it, and actually couldn't work out how to unlock more events (I know now, you have to fly over new airports and 'buy' them - this is not made clear in the game!). Ultrawings is an experience I will share with other people who want to see some VR, but it's not something for which I have the stomach to keep playing myself. At least not for now.
- Rock Band 4 (PS4). I think I just came to realise, finally, that I will never, ever 'complete' this game. But I just play it for fun on Expert guitar, occasionally get the drums out, and even more occasionally have a little Rock Band party. And that's fine, I will dabble with it for years. I'm just not trying to finish it in any sense.
We shall see what 2020 brings...