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Let us measure

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  1. Here it is guys, with massive thanks to @Treble for all the palaver. 

     

    Game of the Year 2021

     

    A1. No More Heroes III

     

    With the recent pessimism surrounding the decline of Japanese B games, the unstoppable rise of the western AAA, Sony dropping out of the Japanese market, consumers wanting bigger and better and ray-tracinger etc. etc., it was refreshing and really pleasing to see that Grasshopper hadn't in fact got the memo, and were jankily carrying on the party like it was 2005. NMHIII has texture pop-in from a few metres away, a frame-rate that could generously be called inconsistent and very little meaningful interaction with its sparsely-populated, uncanny open world. And yet. The combat is absolutely amazing, the character and alien design is just really damn punk and the VA from Robin Atkin Downes and Noshir Dalal, as main arch-rivals Travis and alien lord Fu, just sells the whole damn stupid story in a way that will have you punching the air during their final fatal battle to be No. 1 ranked assassin in the universe. It's first and foremost just a damn good videogame, and it knows it. Oh, and the item shop theme really didn't need to go this hard but I'm really, really glad it does.

     

    A2. Shin Megami Tensei V

     

    It's not often I find myself agreeing with @Wiper's 100% correct opinions, but the fella is bang on the money here, and MegaTen V is the best JRPG I've played in ages. Taking open world cues from - what else? - BotW, the areas you find yourself in work like massive dungeons, albeit dungeons taking place in the ruins of vaguely recognisable Tokyo cityscapes, with a pleasing verticality to everything as you explore the ruins of collapsed skyscrapers searching for Miman, the korok equivalents. Starting off with faeries and the sandman in your party of recruitable, trainable monsters ripped from centuries of folklore and religion from around the world, you can kind of guess you're reaching the end game when your party consists of Loki, the Buddhist arch-demon Mara, the Virgin Mary and Lord Ganesh. With punchy combat and meaningful exploration, it never lulls during its 50-hour odd playtime.

     

    A3. Metroid Dread

     

    It might just be me, but Dread seems to be the most hardcore, difficult game Ninty has put out for ages. With all the impact of a shinespark to the face, the game has you blasting through the abandoned planet of ZDR at a pace that only lets up when you run into the EMMI robots - Dread there stealing the ultra-tense SA-X encounters from Fusion and deciding to make a game around them. It doesn't quite come together; ZDR never feels like a real, breathing planet akin to Zebes or Talon IV, and you're pretty much funneled from one area to the next in a way that makes it feel more an heir to the philosophy of Fusion and Samus Returns, rather than Prime or Super. But the boss battles are killer, the rare moments of Samus' expressing herself are badass and the animation throughout is absolutely top-notch. It's also great that they named the game Dread not after the relentless EMMIs, but the feeling that accompanies the discovery of that coveted energy tank hidden behind two tiny, inconspicuous speed boost blocks. To quote our own @Cyhwuhx, 'You want to me to shinespark where?!?'.

     

    A4. Monster Hunter Rise

     

    I bounced off World quite a bit when it released a few years ago on PS4, but Rise really clicked this year and I'm glad I can finally say that I 'get' Monster Hunter. It's all about the multiplayer. Single player is challenging and fun, but the rush that comes with playing online co-op, with friends or (usually Japanese) strangers alike, taking down a vicious Magnamalo with judicious zipping around on wirebugs, is a gaming experience that gets its hooks into you, forever chasing the next cool piece of armour made of the skin of the monster who's head you'd just caved in. The levels are wide and tall, the move sets as satisfying to learn as always, and leaping off your faithful palamute at full speed to plunge into your quarry's cranium long sword first rarely gets boring.

     

    A5. Lost Judgment

     

    It's a RGG Studios game. It's spotting UFOs so that a high school kid can come to terms with the fact that his father has run off with another woman. It's finding out what is so cursed about a lucky cat statue that seems to kill everyone who touches it. It's spotting a cat burglar panty thief who claims to be Spiderman in his defence. It's KimuTaku laying the smack down on school kids for having their shirts untucked. It's racing your drone through the streets of Yokohama to earn cash. It's working at a posh private school that somehow doesn't require any DBS checks to be the girls' dance club instructor. It's unpacking a pretty dark murder mystery. It's sitting back with a highball in the depths of Kamurocho, and then going to the Sega game centre to unwind with some House Hama of the Dead. It's punching punks for looking at you funny. It's a RGG Studios game. And it's glorious.

     

     

     

    Game of the Year (premiered anywhere pre-2021) 

     

    B1. Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye

     

    Anyone who has ever-so-cautiously piloted their spaceship through the depths of Dark Bramble, or of Giant's Deep, secretly knows: Mobius Digital want to make a horror game. And here they have, sort of. I don't think I've ever played a game that had environments that were so... cosy, yet off at the same time. It lacks the space travel that made the original game so special, and the new area to explore in EotE recalls influences from the original Myst to Amnesia, but the puzzle solving, frights and attention to detail of the new environment make a hell of a lasting impression that sticks with you.

     

    B2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

     

    Loved the motion controls on the Wii. Loved the motion controls (and the 60 fps) here. Great Zelda with an underrated soundtrack.

     

    B3. Bowser's Fury

     

    A fun Mazza that can't shake the impression of being a neat proof of concept. Short and sweet, with an entertaining central mechanic.

     

     

     

    Biggest Disappointment of the Year

     

    Z1. Still not being able to buy next gen consoles at retail

     

    Z2. Look here! It's NFTs! With this new technology on the etherhiumium block chain, we will be able to engage with our consumers content, consumers, make them free to play, play to earn, consume, unprecedented opportunities for content creation in the hands of our consumers, content, play to engage zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... fuck off

     

    Z3. 

     

     

     

    Sound Design of the Year

     

    S1. No More Heroes III

     

    S2. NEO: The World Ends with You

     

    S3. Nier Replicant

     

     

     

    Visual Design of the Year

     

    V1. NEO: The World Ends with You

     

    V2. Dungeon Encounters

     

    V3. R-Type Final 2

     

     

     

    Writing of the Year

     

    W1. Lost Judgment

     

    W2. No More Heroes III

     

    W3.

     

     

     

    Format of the Year

     

    F1. Nintendo Switch

     

     

     

    Publisher or Developer of the Year

     

    P1. Grasshopper Manufacture

  2. 11 hours ago, Calashnikov said:

    It also happens to be made by Hiroyuki Ito, going by last month’s ‘Still Playing’ column at the start of Edge’s reviews section. He was creator of the Active Time Battle system and directed FF6, 9 and 12, so, you know. That’s quite the pedigree. Dungeon Encounters I guess is a master of his craft distilling the genre right down to its essence. I’m intrigued.

     

    You've basically summed it up. Along with @Klatrymadon in the thread for it. Deliberately stripped down to the absolute bare minimum, it's hardcore dungeon charting distilled into a pure essence. And so far, addictive as all hell. 

  3. Thanks to Edge for making a big deal of Dungeon Encounters (4th best game of the year?!). I'd not even heard of it, but their praise and the game's barebones aesthetic had me downloading this afternoon. Excited to try it out tonight!

  4. It made me annoyed at the time that quite a few complaints online were taking aim at the open world and how 'empty' it was, with no rewards for exploring, completely missing the point of what the game was actually doing.

     

    It was emphatically not a Skyrim see-that-mountain open world. It was a 'here's a base, now how are you going to get inside?' open world. The number of options available to you was incredible. 

  5. 3 minutes ago, Darren said:

    I loved the fact that when Majima was alone with you know who, and then after that back at the Grand for his final showdown, he completely dropped the act and was back to how he was in Y0. But it was only temporary until he went to Majima Construction and “normal” service was resumed.

     

    Yeah, that's what is so great about his character. Occasionally throughout the series the whole act drops and you catch glimpses of the true dude underneath, usually with Kiryu. Then a moment later his goons bust in and his defences are back up again.

  6. I reckon that Y0 to Y2K make a nice little trilogy, a Majima arc if you like, or maybe a Kazama Shintaro one, that ends perfectly with the final episode of Majima Adventures in Y2K. A lot of people complained about the cheesiness, but I always thought that Majima bumping once again into a certain someone was handled very well and their interaction is an amazing bit of acting from our boy Goro.

     

    Spoiler

    Ya worked out some knots I'd had for 18 years... 🥲

     

     

     

     

  7. 23 hours ago, Lorfarius said:

    Finally clocked Yak 5 at around 50 hours. For the most I've enjoyed this but the 4th character was such a waste of time that it removed a lot from the story, rather they'd have brought the cop back from the last game for that bit. The whole thing just felt way too long and couldn't understand why the last part was so padded, has a very natural finish then.. there's a huge other section. Hoping 6 is better.

     

    Shinada's story was a bit filler, but I ended up loving the chemistry between him and his loanshark mentor Takasugi. In fact the whole chapter was worth it for Takasugi alone IMO and the amazing VA brought to his character by Sho Aikawa, who's from the same school of trashy 90s yakuza flicks as Y0's Riki Takeuchi and Hitoshi Ozawa. 

     

    They could have easily scrapped Shinada and have Takasugi show up in another chapter though, definitely. I guess they just wanted to fit a baseball match fixing storyline in there somewhere. 

     

    I love the way Y5 is just so much Yakuza crammed down your gob that you struggle to handle it all. All you can eat ga gotoku. So good. 

  8. 2 hours ago, Yasawas said:

    This is barely worth a post but it's a quiet day at work (home) and I'm a bit lonely so indulge me - I am excited because I have just discovered while playing some Metal Slug that the Arcade Archives series have reverb settings tucked away and it basically makes everything sound like a busy 90s seaside arcade! It didn't quite transform that dull Q4 Earnings Call into being twelve again in Nobles in Largs waiting on the Millport ferry, but it was close enough.

     

     

     

     

     

    I did not know this and am, for one, glad you posted. Is it under audio settings? I've got quite a few of the Neogeo Arcade Archives... 

  9. 6 hours ago, TomCGCG said:

     

    I *may* have mostly learned "24 Hour Cinderella" phonetically just in case I get an opportunity to sing it at a karaoke place in Japan one day!  It's a banger.  I don't get the Baka Mitai love though.

     

    The absolute best hidden gem in the world of Yakuza karaoke though has to be 5's Kamuro Lullaby, which Kiryu can sing on his lonesome in Fukuoka near the beginning of the game. 

     

    Seeing his long transformation from the Kiryu that blasts out the juvenile, naively anarchic Judgement in Y0, through to Y5, by which time, haggard and worn, Kiryu is singing old man enka in a tatty grey anorak, does more for his character development throughout the series than any number of plot twists and turns. 

     

    Check out the emotion in this! 

     

     

     

  10. This is exactly the kind of game that is going to appeal to about 12 people outside of Japan, but I'm also loving it. I've previously completed the original Strange Journey on DS which I adored; just such an evocative, weird, downright oppressive dungeon crawler with a dash of Pokemon. I've only just got to the second major area in this, but it's got that same sweet, inimitable, uncanny atmosphere. The music does a lot of the work, brilliant stuff.

  11. If you've got a 3DS lying around, Steel Empire looks amazing on it! The 3D layered effect on the parallax scrolling on level 3 and beyond is as impressive as anything the Sega 3D Classics do.

  12. 1 hour ago, Sane said:

    Sorry to hear that Mr. Gerbik. But know that your suffering at least has spared the rest of us a similar fate :hat:.

     

    The list of paid DLC makes me sad btw: next to the usual game balance destroying stuff like more exp there's unique sidequests to get specific demons. Even some old favourites from SMT III. I really dislike this kind of thing. I'm not going to buy it out of principle but knowing I will miss out on them leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

     

    This seems to be more and more of a thing with niche Japanese games like this, annoyingly. Publishers know that only the most hardcore of hardcore are going to pick the game up in the first place, and then it's this same group who can most likely be roped into buying pricey, exclusive, and largely cosmetic, dlc.

     

    Samurai Warriors 5, Monster Hunter Stories and R-Type Final 2 have all had similar dlc options recently.

     

  13. Lost Judgement is brilliant, don't worry @Wiper. If it was down to me I'd give it a 9.

     

    It has got, as is always the case with RGG games, such an incredible sense of place. And the combat is the best it has ever been. 

  14. It's possibly a small thing, I don't know, but in the first AW remake reveal during the Direct it took a distractingly long time to transition from map view to side on battle view when entering into combat with any unit on the field. Like there was a two-second transition via black screen each time. Obviously if you turn combat animations off this wouldn't be a problem, but most new players would be playing with the default combat animations on, and these slow transitions would add up and change the pace of the game. It all seemed a bit un-Nintendo-like.

     

    I wonder if the switch to 3D is causing more problems than imagined. 

  15. Yeah, everyone expects a

     

    Spoiler

    Batman villain origin story during the last moments of 0. Some massive humiliation event, a splash of acid in the face followed by insanity, and then a desire to kill everybody or something.

     

    The fact that Majima's transformation explicitly isn't that, makes it a lot more surprising, and a lot more human.

     

  16. Gleylancer is a 90s-videogame-ass videogame and I think I love it. Killer soundtrack, great weapon variety, lovely parallax scrolling. It reminds me of Thunder Force 3.

     

    The bosses have been a bit crap so far though. Shame as Gynoug by the same guys at Masaya had some pretty inventive bosses. Have only got to stage 5 so far, so looking forward to diving deeper. 

  17. 36 minutes ago, Down by Law said:

     

    If the game was a total mess it wouldn't have got the good reviews it did. It's got 67 on metacritic which is not mindblowing but not exactly big rigs either and well above average. Just because the story didn't play out like it did in his head, or he doesn't have a grasp of simple things 'why does he take his shoes off in the house?' 'why does he walk past this obvious shrine' 'why didn't the story end the way I wanted it to' and it's full of frankly bullshit statements presented as fact 'the only way to accrue enough money in this game is to spam the gambling' which is nonsense. I was absolutely minted by selling herbs and fish alone nevermind doing jobs and fighting in the rose garden.

    It's pretty insulting to Yu Suzuki on several occasions and any true fan would like to see a series they like do better, which with the systems in place Shenmue IV absolutely could have been. But instead he traded his fandom for clicks and when they were trying to pitch Shenmue IV to publishers they likely saw this 2 million view video and thought...nah we're not getting involved in that. The Shenmue series has always been low hanging fruit for people to rag on (J Sterling did one 'the waterworld of videogames') it's like people can't handle this lavish expensive production has a languid pace and funny voice acting so it's easier to take the piss out of something you don't understand than just move on. Bastards the lot of them

     

    Anyway i'll gladly take a Anime over nothing and I don't watch Anime so 🤷‍♂️

     

    Well put. I've talked enough about my admiration for Shenmue 3 and the team behind it, and I'm very glad it exists at all. 

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