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Let us measure

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  1. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim slipped out late last year, was lost in the new console buzz, and is really, really bloody good. It is however sadly, being a Vanillaware game, front loaded with so many tired silly anime tropes and questionable character designs*, at least at first, that your eyes will roll so far back upside your head that you will see your brain, which will be staring back intently at you and questioning why exactly you're debasing yourself by playing this weeb otaku-bait shit quite obviously aimed at 40-something loser virgin hikkikomori. The fact is it's Pacific Rim as reimagined by Vanillaware, and it does that rare, great thing - tells a story that could *only* adequately be pulled off in a video game. There are 13 different characters, each with their own individual playable arcs and no immediately obvious order in which to play them, and it makes for an absolute spaghetti convoluted mess of a sci-fi plot... until it all just brilliantly comes together, in a cascade of brain-melting KERBLAMMOS not seen since the superb Virtue's Last Reward. By the time it really gets going, the game itself seems to have forgotten that it's supposed to be pandering to weebs, and focuses instead on what becomes an excellent and touching sci-fi epic. Also, being Vanillaware, its backgrounds, environments and animations are unfailingly gorgeous, seeped in hazy hues and golden sunlight which gives everything this weird, nostalgic, melancholic air. Definitely recommended, if you can stomach the style. *The two main character designers for the game are both women, for what little it's worth...
  2. As I've gotten older, and as gaming as an entertainment industry has just grown more and more massive, and as life has slowly gotten more and more in the way of carefree gaming time, I've found it easier just to admit to having a genre specialism or two that I can focus on. Usually at the expense of something else. I've also come to know my own tastes pretty well and have become fairly resistant to FOMO, which I guess is quite lucky in a way. You do see people time and again falling into the trap of buying into hype just because Metacritic/Edge/rllmuk told them to, without first really considering whether it's a game they actually want to play. Know what you like, specialise, and be OK with the fact that everyone in the whole wide world is constantly missing out on stuff. The game industry is too big. Play what speaks to you.
  3. Not really getting the complaints over graphics to be honest. It looks great to me, like a children's story book or something, a little bit Maurice Sendak-y. Can certainly see what they were going for; a more vibrant colour palette or 3D models wouldn't have looked nearly as good IMO. And the animation appears to be frame for frame like the original G&Gs. I'm not a massive fan of the series as I've always found it just too unfair and finicky, but I feel like supporting this as it's obviously a passion project.
  4. Jolly well done to everyone involved with this year's awards. As mentioned numerous times up-thread, the writing quality and style has often been much, much better than just about anything I have seen on any professional site over the last year, but with the added bonus of a personal rllmuk twist and piss jokes. Just superb stuff.
  5. Rule #2 of Yakuza - Never go for 100% completion. (Rule #1 is that you must walk everywhere, obviously. Unless the narrative at that moment in time indicates that you should be in a hurry.)
  6. Why punish yourself though? I don't think I touched the part-time hero stuff unless an SOS mission was directly on my flight path. Just focus on the excellent main narrative...
  7. The combat and (for me) the music were the best things about GoT. The swordplay works well because it relies on an accessible rock-paper-scissors stance system versus differently-armed enemies, with a satisfying parrying mechanic and solid meaty hits and effects. It feels great to play and I'm glad that they got this fundamental part of the gameplay spot on. For everything else, Wiper's comments are 100% bang on. For overall samurai shenanigans however, including the combat, the king is of course Nioh 2, which I realistically expect will place 3rd or 2nd in these prestigious rllmuk GOTY awards.
  8. I love playing as Impa in this; no idea whatsoever what is going on, I just mash X, Y and R and then some unbelievably mad stuff happens on screen and then the 1000KOs notification pops up. I don't get Zelda at all though - her R ability is to activate her runes but this never seems to do anything, and her basic Y combo just seems to cycle through ineffectual attacks. I may have missed something up thread, but can anyone provide some quick tips?
  9. OK, Chapter 12 down - levelled up to ~50 for everybody and it was fairly simple.
  10. Wow. Good to know, but intimidating. Whoever this boss is, they better be worth it...
  11. I've just unlocked the battle arena! My party's all in the early 40s at the moment, so I'm going to grind until the late 40s as per the useful advice above, and then crack on with this infamous chapter 12 I've been hearing about.
  12. Yes, would someone mind explaining Impa to me? I was mashing X, R2 and Y and before I knew it there were 12 Impas tearing up absolutely everything on screen and it was awesome, but I'd be lying if I said I had a clue what was going on.
  13. Here you go guys, sorry for cutting it close to the deadline. Game of the Year A1. Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch) - I feel a bit guilty naming a slapdash collection of three decade-plus-old ROMs, one of which doesn't even run full screen, as my GOTY. Actually, no I don't. Given Jolly's edict that we should vote for what we enjoy, not what critical consensus suggests, this collection of Mario games has been a gaming highlight this year. Three of the best 3D platformers ever made, from the master of the genre; finally getting all 120 stars in Mario 64 23 years after I first played it made me feel like an absolute king. And Sunshine, beyond all hope, still holds up! A2. Nioh 2 (PS4) - I've got a feeling this sequel to the amazingly visceral, fluid Nioh is going to go largely ignored this year, which is a massive shame as it does everything bigger and better and more samurai-er than its predecessor, providing some of the hypest, and most bloody difficult, boss battles this side of Bloodborne. A staggering amount of customisation and weapon types (those tonfas though!), a real step up in level and enemy design from the first game and the same wonderful Sengoku-era aesthetic and score makes for a proper solid meaty wagyu feast of a game. Jolly co-op makes it even better. A3. Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS4) - I really wish that the Yakuza series, that last bastion of old-school scrolling brawler gameplay, was instead a turn-based JRPG, said no one in the long history of the world. But Sega listened anyway, and I'm glad they did since it all just somehow... works. Carrying the quasi-political-commentary torch from its cousin Judgment, Y:LaD has a surprising amount to say about contemporary Japanese society and its shadier side, all wrapped up in a super-charismatic JRPG odyssey featuring politicians, homeless people, prostitutes, gangsters in nappies, and a chicken that is somehow very decisive in corporate board meetings. Not quite Ken Loach then, but a surprisingly brilliant turn for the series that has me excited for its future. A4. Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch) - After lots of faffing about during the Wii - Wii U years, this iteration of Paper Mazza finally brings the series back to the heights of TTYD and the the N64 original. Using the same episodic structure of the previous titles, the battles this time take the form of little logic puzzles, which seem to put a lot of people off, but which work for me as brain teasers that become more fun and involved as the game progresses. It's also really, really funny. And poignant in parts. Once completed, you'll never look at bob'ombs in quite the same way again. A5. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch) - There's a bit a few minutes into the second level of SoR4, set in Wood Oak City's dilapidated local precinct, where the inmates holed up behind bars suddenly break free, alarms go off, and officers burst onto the scene and start smacking people around, while you're caught up in the ensuing chaos. At the same time, this tune kicks in. And it's then that you realise that the creators of SoR 4 just fucking get it. There are loads of similarly hype moments in the game, where the action on screen and the awesome soundtrack come together to create this amazing synergy that gets the hairs on the back of your neck bristling. It feels right too, with the meatiness of the punches being felt and the flaming fat bastards still being pains in the arses; a proper and fitting tribute to the MD trilogy. Biggest Disappointment of the Year Z1. Z2. Z3. Sound Design of the Year S1. Streets of Rage 4 S2. Ghost of Tsushima S3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons Visual Design of the Year V1. Ghost of Tsushima V2. Paper Mario: The Origami King V3. Mr. Driller: Drill Land Writing of the Year W1. Yakuza: Like a Dragon W2. Paper Mario: The Origami King W3. Format of the Year F1. Nintendo Switch Publisher or Developer of the Year P1. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
  14. The Tokyo city-pop soundtrack to Picross S 5 just hits all the goddamn right vibes. The fact that you can play the 'ambient sound' of city life, including far off beeping of car horns, commuter chatter and the rumble of trains in the distance while playing, propels it up the years best OSTs.
  15. This is brilliant news. I replayed the first on Switch during lockdown and, aside from a few controller issues when compared to the DS game, it still shines bright. Hoping this can take advantage of the hardware somehow like the original did.
  16. Quite refreshing having a JRPG where you control a gang of washed-up, down-and-out, slightly unfit 40 and 50 year olds. Not a spike-haired emo teen in sight.
  17. I don't even know what game that is. I just liked the 'Big off for Phil'.
  18. Yakuza 6 is bloody good, and ended way up my list of Yaks by the time it had ended, two weeks ago. I really loved the small seaside town vibe of Onomichi; recalled for me the cosiness and character of Shenmue's Dobuita, with some really likeable characters. I loved seeing elements of the 'outside world' giving the area depth as well, like fishing boats crossing the harbour, or the heaving traffic of the suspension bridge crossing the bay in the distance. Just amazing world building. It's also got, for me, the best finale in the series, hands down. If you're not pumping the air and screaming 'Fuuucckkkk yeeaaaahhhhh!!!!' in front of your loved ones at some point during the final chapter, you're probably already dead. And that is me caught up with the Yakuza series. I'll be able to jump into LaD this weekend with no regrets!
  19. I really don't recommend racing through Y5; as mentioned loads of times in this thread it's a huuuuuuuuge game with a massive heart and it's best to let it kind of wash over you, or better yet play it with short breaks between the character chapters, during which you can go and play something else. I loved it and it's amazing in its ambition and scope - I don't think there's another video game like it really, even within the Yakuza series - but it absolutely will drag you down if all you want to do is scream through it.
  20. The game's all right, but can I just say how refreshing it is to hear Mario's name pronounced properly, in an official trailer, perhaps for the first time in human history? I'd heard 'Maaario' so many times that I thought maybe my life was a lie and that I was losing my mind. It's Mario. It's pronounced Mario. Total vindication.
  21. I just got 120 stars for Mario 64 for the first time ever tonight and I feel massively positive about the whole experience (I think I managed 117 back in the day). Really only two stars gave me frustration - the 100 coins on Tiny Huge Island, where you annoyingly have to switch between big and small and the red coins can sometimes mess you up; and then 100 coins on Rainbow Ride, which pretty much requires a perfect run through the whole course and the blue coin wall jump is infamous. I think as a game it's still bloody fantastic - if you play it on its own terms. You're gonna have to come to terms with not messing with the camera and using subtle Monkey Ball-esque movements of that analogue stick 'cos that's what the game demands of you. I never felt the game was being unfair.
  22. The 3DS eshop really brought Japanese indies to the fore, and for this reason it's got an incredible digital library of games that can't be found anywhere else - the whole Guild series springs to mind, with Yasumi Matsuno's Crimson Shroud, Attack of the Friday Monsters, AeroPorter and Starship Damrey being excellent, short, experimental treats. It also boosted M2 into the limelight with their bloody fantastic Sega 3D Classics conversions - 3DS is hands down the best place to play Outrun, Shinobi 3, Power Drift, Galaxy Force II (which will blow you away in 3D) and loads of other MD and arcade greats, because the added dimension makes them look cutting edge. I still play mine fairly regularly, if only for the GB Virtual Console! Great little console.
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