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Sprite Machine

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  1. Previously... 39.) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments - PS4 - 2014 Completed all six cases. I hadn't heard of Ukraine-based developer Frogwares and their range of Sherlock Holmes games going back to the early noughties. In fact, the first I heard of any recent Sherlock Holmes game was via the Creepy Watson video. Crimes & Punishments is a significantly better-looking (and sounding) game than I had expected. Character detail and animation are good, the environments (while small) are well realised, voice work is reasonable and the style of game allows for playing at a relaxed pace, with a mix of object searching, dialogue choices and little mini-games and other activities. I will start by saying that, whatever issues I had with the game, I still enjoyed it. It's an interesting format that I haven't seen used before and I think any fan of the great detective will find a lot to enjoy here. More games like this should be encouraged. However, the problem with a game like this is how do you make the player the one who solves the mysteries and not the character (Sherlock)? Finding all the clues is simply an exercise in ticking each thing off a list and the game helpfully shows you when you've found everything in a given area, and tells you where to go next. Instead, the deduction phase of the game has to offer alternative theories for every piece of evidence, no matter how solid and iron-clad you think it is. As a result, some of the game's cases tie themselves in illogical knots of plot-twists, red herrings and even the occasional outright contradiction. If it gave you all the answers, it wouldn't be a deduction game, but in order to allow for deduction, there has to be an unnatural amount of vague wishy-washiness to the evidence. As Sherlock Holmes himself famously once said, "when you have eliminated the implausible, whatever remains, even if it's also implausible, could also be the truth, maybe".
  2. Previously... 38.) The Walking Dead: Season Two - PC - 2013/14 Played through once, 8.5 hours. It's been nine years since I played the first season of this. Still had my save file, so the game remembered everything I did... which is more than I can say for me! Thankfully, you don't often need to remember specifics of what happened and can muddle through. This was still before Telltale starting churning out every franchise under the sun, right? It's pretty good, but I think the illusion of choice starts to break a little. The first season was incredibly fresh and this is just more of the same. It's also really bloody bleak and depressing - I don't know if I want to continue into the third season! But I'm glad I played this, finally.
  3. I wonder why Hale wasn't given the same direction, though. Was FemShep added at a later date?
  4. Question about the post-credits scene from ME3. Did I just imagine / misremember this in the original version, or did they actually change the subtitles? EDIT: Well, according to a ten year old YouTube video, my memory is wrong.
  5. Previously... 37.) Mass Effect 3 (Legendary Edition) - PS4 - 2021 (2012) That credits music, man. Completed on normal difficulty (paragon female adept - 'destroy' ending). Approximately 40 hours playtime, according to the in-game clock. About the same length as Mass Effect 2, and nearly twice as long as Mass Effect 1. Well over a hundred hours spent playing through the three games again, my third time to date... and I'm still left feeling sad that it's over. Whatever problems I may have with the ending (and there are many, even with the extended 'fixes'), I can't deny that I've enjoyed the hell out of this series once again, being part of this universe, with its big sci-fi ideas infused with smaller drama and touching character moments. This was the first time I played the two final DLCs, 'Omega' and 'Citadel' (I never bothered to buy them originally; Bioware Points were a pain in the arse and I'd moved on). While the former was a bit boring, the latter was superb. A celebration of the characters at the heart of this game, some really funny moments and well-written scenes, with a ridiculously schlocky villain to match the lighter tone. A worthwhile diversion from the galaxy at war. I'll probably come back to this series yet again, one final time maybe? I got the Legendary Edition again for free on Origin (after I'd already started on PS4) so maybe when I get a decent PC and another hundred hours of free time, I'll start another playthrough. Not for a while, though. For now, I need to let it all sink in.
  6. Previously... 34.) Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble - GG - 1994 Completed as both Sonic and Tails (all Chaos Emeralds) The fourth (and what should have been final) game in the 8-bit Sonic saga was only released on the Game Gear, and was known as Sonic & Tails 2 in Japan. This one is an improvement over previous entries, boasting nicer graphics, less slow-down, more variety and cool little set pieces and gimmicks. But it feels more sluggish, acceleration is stunted and the physics have changed slightly. Rolling off a platform now unrolls you, leading to sometimes falling onto enemies. However, you can now roll into a ball from a drop or from a spring launch (the latter is required to beat the first boss). You also only lose 30 rings when hit rather than all of them. Designed for the Game Gear specifically, the screen size problem is not usually an issue here. The level design is denser, more intricate and feels closer to the 16-bit games. Speaking of which... 35.) Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit - PC - 2022 (1994) Completed the story mode as Sonic/Tails and again as Knuckles. This is a fan-made remake of Triple Trouble in the style of a Megadrive game, currently PC only but Android and Mac versions are in the works. Principally developed by Noah Copeland, this remake reimagines the game as a sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, setting it after those events while altering the story to explain the presence of Knuckles as a villain. It's extremely well made in every regard (music, graphics, level design, zone transitions) and is easily the best Sonic fan game I've played, almost up there with Sonic Mania in terms of quality. Grab it before Sega issues a takedown! EDIT: 36.) Sonic Blast - GG - 1996 Not to be confused with Sonic 3D Blast, although it uses similar prerendered graphics that were all the rage in 1996, albeit with 2D gameplay. Imagine Donkey Kong Country if it was a terrible Sonic game, and on the Game Gear, and you're nearly there. Sonic Blast has all the problems associated with the 8-bit titles but also lots of new ones too! The graphics are ugly and messy, the screen crush is awful, character movement is slow and clunky, and the level designs are incredibly basic. I only finished it once, as Knuckles, without getting all the Chaos Emeralds (so skipped the extra final boss), as I have no desire to ever play it again. Awful.
  7. Downloadable here: https://gamejolt.com/games/sonictripletrouble16bit/322794 Currently Windows PC only (with an Android port in the works). This is a fan remake by Noah Copeland and team, of the 1994 Game Gear title Sonic Triple Trouble. I don't generally follow the fan community so I had no idea this was even a thing (there's a Sonic Chaos remake in the works too, by somebody else, but that isn't finished). I've played this and it's fantastic. It feels like an authentic Sonic title that might have been released post-S3&K. In fact, they've actually set it chronologically after those events, including some nice callbacks. It's got special stages, extra levels, cutscenes, mini-bosses, some of the best zone-transitions I've seen in any Sonic game, never mind a fan game, recreated music, expanded level designs (loosely based on the original layouts), and an unlockable Knuckles mode (with new level layouts). There's also a full-contact two-player competition mode. This is Mania-tier stuff. Well worth a look. Download the zip folder, plug a controller in, configure for full screen and away you go.
  8. Fascinating. I didn't realise Sega had a studio that released multiformat games. Did they release anything else for the PS1? I might give this a try. Is an alpha build likely to be glitchy? Could I covert it to an Eboot for Vita?
  9. Previously... 33.) Lego Jurassic World - PC - 2015 Completed all story levels once, approximately 10 hours. Might go back and unlock more stuff, but I dunno. Lots more Lego games to play. I think Lego games that feature mostly ordinary people are significantly less fun than ones that feature super-powered people. Basically, Lego games peaked with Star Wars. Droids and ships made of Lego = cool. Smashing bricks with lightsabers = cool. Using the force to build things = cool. Every other Lego game has kept the template but changed the context, and it doesn't work. (Except maybe DC/Marvel Superheroes, and possibly Harry Potter.) What's interesting about playing as a bunch of people whose abilities are "hitting things with their hands" and who are differentiated by what type of machines they can operate? InGen top brass can access certain computers, intellectuals can solves puzzle boards, archeologists can put bones together or dive into piles of shit... but you wouldn't know from looking at them because they all look like ordinary Lego people. This is the first game in the franchise I've noticed where the characters' abilities are written underneath their names! Putting voices from the movies into these games is a practice that started with Lego Lord of the Rings... with mixed results. Sound quality tends to come across muffled when they do that, especially compared to the new voices for other characters. In Lego Jurassic World, it definitely sounds like they got some of the recent cast back to do new lines, but this is mostly limited to the final quarter of the game, where suddenly the characters are incredibly verbose and obsessed with telling you exactly what they're doing, while scenes from the earlier films are largely mute outside of cutscenes. Still, the developers treat all these franchises with respect and good natured humour, and I do enjoy the family-friendly visual comedy they add to the scenes. Particularly amusing is how nobody dies in this game. Dinosaurs never successfully eat anybody, or their victims miraculously escape unharmed. Even that poor tortured woman from Jurassic World survives inside the mouth of the mosasaurus!
  10. Previously... 31.) Sonic Chaos - SMS/GG - 1993 Continuing my 8-bit Sonic revival, this is the third game in the series and the last one to be (officially) released for the Master System. On the Game Gear, it was known as Sonic & Tails in Japan, which I like more than the western name. You can play as Sonic or Tails, but not both. Tails is the game's easy mode, giving you more lives and continues, flight ability and no Chaos Emeralds to collect. As Sonic, the game is slightly harder as you have to very carefully collect enough rings to get to the special stages, and there are no shield items in this game. This means you have to play very slowly and carefully (particularly on the Game Gear!), which is the antithesis of Sonic games, isn't it? Accessing the special stages also skips the rest of the level, so if you want to see the whole game, you have to either ignore the Emeralds or play it twice! That said, aside from a few sticking points, it's a significantly easier game than the previous two, and the technology to recreate Sonic in 8-bits has progressed here, giving you slopes, almost proper loop-de-loops, and a spin-dash. 32.) Binary Domain - PC - 2012 It's a Sega double-bill! This was another Japanese developer dipping into typically 'western' style genres, namely the third-person cover shooter. Compared to Vanquish, which I played earlier this year, Binary Domain is not as over-the-top and ridiculous, and I think it's supposed to be taken seriously, unlike Vanquish, which comes across like a piss-take. The game still has a distinct Japanese vibe to it, is set in a futuristic version of Tokyo and has themes that are highly reminiscent of Snatcher, Final Fantasy VII and many more. But the characters are all generic archetypes and the writing is never more than passable. Anyway, you exclusively fight combat robots in this game, so there's lots of satisfying smashy-smashy, limbs falling off, and explosions. There are some light RPG elements, where you can upgrade your weapon stats and earn loyalty with your teammates through dialogue choices. You can also earn their trust by doing really well in battle, or lose their trust by shooting them, which happens more often than you might think given they have a tendency to walk right in front of your line of sight. There are apparently slightly different endings as well, depending on character loyalty. I wanted one of the characters, Cain, to come back for the end, but he never did for me. Surprisingly good, then. The PC version runs fantastically well on my ancient machine, although I had trouble getting my controller working without resorting to Steam's input emulation, which always felt a bit twitchy. Also, I couldn't get any of the voice command stuff to work but that's probably just me.
  11. Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) - Master System vs. Game Gear playthrough/comparison:
  12. Previously... ^ Heh, I'm gettin' déjà vu! 29.) Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (8-bit) - GG - 1992 Completed without cheating, all Chaos Emeralds. Is this the hardest mainline Sonic game ever made? It was tricky enough on the Master System, but on the Game Gear it's like playing with blinkers. UnderGround Act 3 and Green Hills Act 3 can absolutely fuck off, and then fuck off some more. 30.) Superhot VR - PS4 - 2017 (2016) I've been waiting to play this for ages and it didn't disappoint. Well, it did disappoint a little bit, but mostly for technical reasons. The limits of PSVR v1 are now being slowly felt. Blocking my face with my hands, failing to throw things properly, going out of bounds, smacking my living room walls, having to recalibrate... these problems have always been there but it takes a game as cool as Superhot VR to show them up and makes me want a new VR system to do it justice. Still, it is exceptionally cool. Having to carefully consider every move of your hands and head, while watching in all directions for projectiles coming towards you... the game has left me feeling like I'm still in it. I'm consciously making small movements as I sit at my desk now, worried that somebody is going to shoot me in the head if I move too quickly. Anyway, I completed the story mode, dabbled with the other modes, and I think I'm done. I thought the story/framing in the main Superhot game was stronger / more substantial, but that's not really what you play this for. You play this to throw an ashtray at somebody's face, grab their gun out of the air and shoot an uzi-toting dude across the room before he can get a round off at you. Super! Hot!
  13. I had this on the DS. You couldn't skip through and had to fully replay the game to get the different branches. Now try the sequel, Virtue's Last Reward. It's the same thing but a lot better!
  14. Previously... 27.) Sonic The Hedgehog (8-bit) - SMS/GG - 1991 Played through the Sega Master System and Game Gear versions, just to compare them! I always assumed Game Gear games were exactly the same as Master System games, just on a smaller screen, but that's not really the case here. Sonic 1 was optimised for the Game Gear with substantially altered level design to avoid the screen crush, redrawn sprites, nicer colours and a host of bug fixes and improvements. Of the two, I think I actually prefer it on Game Gear, despite the cramped view. Naturally, it's a painfully old-fashioned experience compared to the timeless quality of the 16-bit game, and it slows down to absolute buggery when there's more than two objects on screen at once, but it's not a bad way to spend an hour. I'm going to put a full playthrough / side-by-side comparison video up on my channel soon. I know, what a treat, right?! 28.) Superhot - PS4 - 2017 (2016) "It's the most innovative shooter I've played in years!" Time stops when you stop, everyone is made of red glass, and it feels like you're in the Matrix. There's also a trippy virtual desktop narrative framing device, which I was not prepared for. I liked this a lot. It's short, but there's always endless modes to dig into. However, I've got the VR game to play next and I'm really looking forward to that. ---- EDIT: I was certain I'd either bought or redeemed a copy of Superhot: Mind Control Delete (the expandalone/sequel) but I cannot find it on any of my launchers or accounts. I must be misremembering. Was it given away recently or in any well-known bundles? I'm really confused because I can practically 'see' its little floppy disc title card sitting there... except it's not there. Baffling memory fart. Oh well.
  15. Previously... 26.) Mass Effect 2 (Legendary Edition) - PS4 - 2021 (2010) Completed as an adept paragon femshep. Approx 41 hours. It's been a decade since I last played Mass Effect 2, and this would be my third time through, and the first with analogue controls and rumble. In terms of what they've enhanced for this edition, I don't know - it looks how I remember it on PC, just with worse performance. PS4 Pro performance is still not great but the screen tearing is less obvious than in Mass Effect 1, so I put up with it. As a sequel, Mass Effect 2 leans into certain elements of the original while side-lining others. It's still a space opera but with a larger emphasis on characters and shooter action, and less on exploration and grand scope. Gone are the identikit planet terrains that you can drive around on, replaced with arenas of chest-high walls to shoot from behind. Fortunately, as a shooter, it's far superior to the first game; but as an RPG, perhaps it's lacking. Nevertheless, that emphasis on characters is what drives the game, as you build up your elite team to take on the mysterious aliens abducting human colonies. Every characater has a recruitment mission and a loyalty mission, and there are numerous ways to interact and choices to make that have lasting repercussions, not least of which the fact that every single one of them can die in the final mission and stay dead in the sequel. In addition to all of these missions, you also have the DLC now included as standard, so your itinerary becomes absolutely massive and you end up just going around doing weird quests in whatever order you like and the story stops and waits for you, losing any urgency it might have had. In this way, it feels like a series of bite-size episodes, which is actually a pretty refreshing way to play. It's the awkward middle chapter of the trilogy but I think it's still the strongest overall. Less janky than the first game, more satisfying than the third.
  16. I don't have an Xbox but I used my £1 introductory Gamepass month to play exclusively streamed Xbox games. (Whether I'd pay a normal sub to do that is another matter, but still!)
  17. At least all my team members survived this playthrough. Last time, I lost Miranda and Legion due to not having enough charm/intimidation to quash their arguments with Jack/Tali. This time, everyone survived the suicide mission. And then a post completion mission, Arrival, to set up the sequel. Job done.
  18. Damn, I accidentally triggered the Collector abduction in ME2 before activating Legion. I literally just clicked the galaxy map and it set the chain of events in motion with no way to stop it (and no recent save to fall back on). I had all other missions done prior to the IFF mission and thought I was ready - if I'd just clicked on Legion first, I could have done his loyalty mission before the Collectors ambushed, but clearly something went wrong there. I didn't even open the map or travel anywhere, I just clicked on it and suddenly we're all piling into a shuttle. Such bullshit! So now half of my crew is gonna die.
  19. Previously... 25.) Rock Band 4 - PS4 - 2015 I wasn't sure whether to include this in my 'completed' list, because it's one of those games that essentially goes on forever. But I've now reached the credits of the docudrama mode and the world tour mode, gained over 1,000,000 fans in the latter, played almost every single song in my library at least once... so unless I'm going to actually go out and start a band, I'm basically done. Of course I will keep playing it but I'll probably start winding down or saving it for special occasions. It was my recent acquisition of the drum cymbals that got me back into this on a regular basis, so as long as they don't fall apart, I hope to come back to this game, or its sequels, time and time again. I've enjoyed plenty of music games over the years, from Um Jammer Lammy, to Gitaroo Man, to Ouendan, to Guitar Hero, and I've loved playing various Rock Band games too (mostly on guitar), but I can honestly say that Expert Pro Drums is the most fun I have ever had with any music game, ever. I'm not saying I'm really awesome at it, I don't think you have to be. Even for beginners, the cymbals are a game-changer. How a set of add-ons that were made as an afterthought to the basic drum kit can make such a huge difference to the feel of the game is incredible. Granted, most of the credit has to go to Rock Band 3 for introducing Pro Mode in the first place, but RB4 thankfully continued it at least for the drums. Absolutely, exhilaratingly, awesome. Rock on! \m/,
  20. I like it. It's short and mildly entertaining. Plus I love travelling around different planets outdoors (miss the Mako).
  21. Accidentally did the Overlord mission in ME2 before doing the first Firewalker mission, so I just randomly had the Hammerhead vehicle before later finding the Hammerhead vehicle. Whoops! You'd think they could have patched that for the Legendary edition.
  22. No particular problems with other games. Sometimes it doesn't do it for weeks. Really weird! (RE)ED(D)IT: "It's awesomeness detection... If it senses an imminent FC it will freeze the game for added challenge."
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