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Easy entry points into specific genres


Jamie John
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Deathsmiles is fairly do-able as a shoot ‘em up - it has a system where you collect items dropped by enemies and - when you have 1000 - can spend them on powered-up attacks. Also, you can choose the order in which you take on the first six stages, and your item count carries over between levels. So you can get pretty far just by finding a “route” that suits you; one stage might be tough to begin with but more achievable if you do an easier stage beforehand and go in with 1000 items ready.

 

It’s one of the only shooters I’ve 1CC’ed (although I might have tweaked the difficulty a bit; I’m not sure) - the only real caveat for an outsider is that most of the main characters are teenage girls - there’s nothing too cringey in the content and you can safely ignore this caveat for most of the game, but certain people would be put off by that knowledge alone...

 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/314180/Deathsmiles/

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11 minutes ago, Qazimod said:

Deathsmiles is fairly do-able as a shoot ‘em up - it has a system where you collect items dropped by enemies and - when you have 1000 - can spend them on powered-up attacks. Also, you can choose the order in which you take on the first six stages, and your item count carries over between levels. So you can get pretty far just by finding a “route” that suits you; one stage might be tough to begin with but more achievable if you do an easier stage beforehand and go in with 1000 items ready.

 

It’s one of the only shooters I’ve 1CC’ed (although I might have tweaked the difficulty a bit; I’m not sure) - the only real caveat for an outsider is that most of the main characters are teenage girls - there’s nothing too cringey in the content and you can safely ignore this caveat for most of the game, but certain people would be put off by that knowledge alone...

 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/314180/Deathsmiles/

 

Ha! I remember buying that on the 360 off the back of everyone going on about how great it was, not having ever experienced a shooter before. I played it for a couple of hours, got to the end of the last stage on the easiest mode with multiple continues, thought to myself 'Is that it?' and then traded it in at CEX the next day.

 

Thanks for the recommendation, though! I've added it to my wishlist and will try to give it another go :) 

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And to keep the thread going - I might be kind of interested in finding out about decent hunting games these days. Think Monster Hunter, God Eater, Soul Sacrifice. My main trouble is that the last full-blown MH game I played was Freedom Unite on PSP and it beat me over the head with dozens of tutorials and I felt overwhelmed before I even started. I have tried other games with hunting elements and been more successful - I liked Mercenary Kings but got distracted by other games before I reached any kind of conclusion; there was also a janky Vita game called Freedom Wars that had hunting elements and I completed that. There's even a fun gametype in Destiny 2 that has you tracking, locating, fighting, chasing and ultimately defeating a strong enemy with a huge health bar, and the flow of gameplay has been likened to hunting games.

 

I did play a demo (or beta?) of MH World and that seemed pretty fun, but I never investigated further - is that still worth a look? Also I heard that the PC optimisation is a bit weird, so I wouldn't know whether to consider Steam or console...

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I did play a demo (or beta?) of MH World and that seemed pretty fun, but I never investigated further - is that still worth a look? Also I heard that the PC optimisation is a bit weird, so I wouldn't know whether to consider Steam or console...

I think MH World is generally considered to be the most accessible game in the series and was definitely designed in order to have more appeal to a Western audience. It still is quite systems-heavy compared with most over games, but it's definitely easier to get into than MH4 Ultimate, which I had to read several Wikis for before I understood. I can't comment on its PC performance, but I put 80 hours into it on the PS4 and thought it was excellent.

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Looking forward to Disco Elysium being that game for me too. CRPG’s never appealed to me growing up, but something about the art style and setting, and many other interesting things I’ve heard about it, have me really excited to check it out when it comes to Switch. I’m hoping it clicks, which might get me interested in actually playing Baldur’s Gate 3, which is a series I’ve admired from afar, but decided probably wasn’t for me. We’ll see how the CRPG thing goes.

 

Tbh I’ve only really properly got into JRPG’s within the past few years. I dabbled with them back in the day (Secret of Mana, muthaflippin’ Panzer Dragoon Saga, Paper Mario 64 and several Pokemon games - incidentally, maybe they’re the gateway lead into the genre?) because I liked the idea of sprawling fantasy adventures, but I always got fed up with random encounters, turn-based combat, and having to grind in order to level up.


Playing Earthbound when I got my SNES Classic changed my mind on that. I was always intrigued by that game, and decided to just grin and bear the mechanics in order to see what it was all about, but I ended up really gelling with it, to my pleasant surprise. I think it’s partly being an older gamer now that means I’m able to enjoy JRPG’s on a cosy relaxation type of level, whereas before I think I just got bored. 
 

I totally get the turn-based combat now, and the pleasure to be gained from grinding and levelling up, and buying and selling items and gear etc ^_^
 

I love all that now and have been playing catch up with the genre as best as I can (as much as I like JRPG’s now, there’s only so many you can fit into a year, ya know?)

 

Since Earthbound I’ve played Mother 3, O.G. Final Fantasy VII, FF VI (my favourite in the genre I’ve played so far), FF XV and Xenoblade Chronicles. I think there’s probably been a couple of others and I’d be tempted to include Undertale as another thing that got me to appreciate the genre. I get that it’s not actually a JRPG but you could say it’s a post-modern deconstruction of some of the genre’s tropes and systems, which I totally dig. 

 

Some of the other games in the genre that I’m eager to play include Chrono Trigger (which I wanted to play as a kid, but could never source for my PAL SNES), Super Mario RPG (which I have the means to play on the SNES Classic), FF IX (which is in my Switch pile thanks to a recent sale) FF7R and Dragon Quest XI, both of which I’m happy to wait for price reductions.

 

There are no doubt many more that I’d now enjoy, but those are the ones that immediately spring to mind for me, having piqued my interest for whatever various reasons over the years

 

(Feel free, anyone, to remind me of / recommend others I haven’t mentioned) :hat: 

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33 minutes ago, Qazimod said:

And to keep the thread going - I might be kind of interested in finding out about decent hunting games these days. Think Monster Hunter, God Eater, Soul Sacrifice. My main trouble is that the last full-blown MH game I played was Freedom Unite on PSP and it beat me over the head with dozens of tutorials and I felt overwhelmed before I even started. I have tried other games with hunting elements and been more successful - I liked Mercenary Kings but got distracted by other games before I reached any kind of conclusion; there was also a janky Vita game called Freedom Wars that had hunting elements and I completed that. There's even a fun gametype in Destiny 2 that has you tracking, locating, fighting, chasing and ultimately defeating a strong enemy with a huge health bar, and the flow of gameplay has been likened to hunting games.

 

I did play a demo (or beta?) of MH World and that seemed pretty fun, but I never investigated further - is that still worth a look? Also I heard that the PC optimisation is a bit weird, so I wouldn't know whether to consider Steam or console...


MH World is free for PS+ subscribers on PS5, if that was a console you intend to get at any point this year?

 

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with the MH series, and did intend to get my free MHW from that PS+ Collection, but dabbling in the recent MH Rise demo on Switch kinda put me off. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’m sure I could grow to love it with practice but I also think I could do without the time sink that would bring. I’m just getting into JRPG’s after all :blush:

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For shoot-em-ups there's Jamestown. It's a cracking little game, with a lovely scoring mechanic (vaunting). Part of the design goal was apparently to introduce newcomers to the genre, and (from memory) I think it probably does a good job with a decent tutorial (and lots of difficulty levels). Also, I love the backstory. The gameplay in this trailer looks a bit feisty, but honestly the mechanics it teaches you let you cope with this fairly easily, if sub-optimally (the challenge then is to do it optimally). I love a good shoot-em-up despite being rubbish at them, but I'm quite good at this (on lower difficulty levels at least).

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Calashnikov said:

I’d be tempted to include Undertale as another thing that got me to appreciate the genre. I get that it’s not actually a JRPG but you could say it’s a post-modern deconstruction of some of the genres tropes and systems, which I totally dig. 

 

In a lot of ways, Disco is to CRPGs what Undertale is to JRPGs, so hopefully you'll love it. It whittles down a lot of the complexities of CRPGs and plays almost like a choose-your-own adventure game, but with just enough CRPG-ness to get you interested in the genre. As @Benny said in the GOTY thread, I'm hoping to see its name up in lights in this year's awards.

 

As for JRPGs, it sounds like you're pretty into the genre already! Dragon Quest XI is about as traditional as it gets while still having all of the QoL sheen that a modern game requires. Lots of people adore it, but I've tried twice now and just ended up being bored by it. Perhaps it's just too traditional for me, but for someone who's not played a JRPG before, it is indeed an excellent entry point. Of the other games you list, I can vouch for FFIX - it's quite narrative-led, especially at the start, and fairly light on the systems, especially compared with VIII and VII, but it presents an excellent game world with some great characters. If you find you want something a little bit different then you should definitely give the remaster of FF XII a try. The story and characters are no great shakes but the battle system is excellent. Having your gambits set up in such a way that your party efficiently dispatches any type of enemy with ease while you just sit and watch the carnage unfold is immensely satisfying.

 

And MH demos are infamously rubbish, so I wouldn't put much stock in that. Pick up MH World for a tenner to play on your PS5. But once you're in, you're in big time.

 

28 minutes ago, Thor said:

@Jamie John - what a fucking excellent premise for a thread! If this is the kind of stuff you're going to come up with in your - hopefully successful - game journalism career, you're gonna go far. :D

 

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Cheers @Jamie John. Believe it or not FF XII is very next on the list of FF games I’m actually interested in playing. I almost mentioned it in that part of my post.

 

As for MHW, no need for me to spend a tenner on it. I have added it to my library for free as part of the PS5 Plus Collection, all I have to do is start the download. This was the plan until the Rise demo put me off the idea. I may yet give it a proper go. I was doing a lot of reading of old reviews and getting hyped on the idea, purely because it was part of that collection and I’d obviously heard good things.

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Yakuza 0, by extension, was a good entry point for enjoying management sims for me. When the property and hostess club management sub games were introduced I initially glazed over and just tried to brute force my way through the minimum amount required in order to progress the story. I ended up addicted to both of them and maxed out everything.

 

I similarly ended up really enjoying the base management stuff in between missions in MGS Peace Walker.

 

Levelling up girls in the Tokyo red light district and carrying out weapons R&D on an offshore military installation have got me hyped to play the heartwarming Spiritfarer some day. I think the skills I learned in those dodgy games would be oddly transferable.

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For visual novels I enjoyed the Walking Dead series by TellTale. Also Man Of Medan. Both easy it get into and mix of dialogue choices and QTE events. Both on GamePass if you have it. 

 

Shooters more tricky essentially you have bullet hell type games (Ikaruga style) or things like R-Type. R-Type dimensions EX is pretty good as it has lots of options for extra lives etc. Also the Konami Arcade Classics pack is pretty good with a good mix of vertical and horizontal shooters. Of this has the legendary Salamander game on there which is awesome. 

 

Fighters. Perhaps start with something relatively straightforward like one of the Streetfighers? I still go back to Streetfigher II because of the simple mechanics but satisfying gameplay. Find a lot of fighters overly complex these days and take a lot of time investment to learn everything. Also just pick a character and stick with it for a bit until you learn the moves. If you have GamePass have a try of Killer Instinct. That was fun and easy to get into last time I played it.

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There was a fighting game released recently, f2p which was supposed to be super easy to learn, with colour coded attacks etc. I can’t remember what it was, but no one played it when I tried. Instead, Power Rangers Battle for the Grid has a nice balance of mechanics and easy to learn combos. 

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1 hour ago, Jamie John said:

visual novels (I got the platinum on Virtue's Last Reward back in the Vita years ago, but I guess that's more of a puzzle game with lots of text, and I haven't really played anything similar since).

 

What would you recommend?

You've already done the best (and one of the least comprehensible), otherwise Phoenix Wright is an excellent and engaging entry to the genre. Also AI Somnium Files is great if you enjoyed VLR

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1 hour ago, Qazimod said:

And to keep the thread going - I might be kind of interested in finding out about decent hunting games these days. Think Monster Hunter, God Eater, Soul Sacrifice. My main trouble is that the last full-blown MH game I played was Freedom Unite on PSP and it beat me over the head with dozens of tutorials and I felt overwhelmed before I even started. I have tried other games with hunting elements and been more successful - I liked Mercenary Kings but got distracted by other games before I reached any kind of conclusion; there was also a janky Vita game called Freedom Wars that had hunting elements and I completed that. There's even a fun gametype in Destiny 2 that has you tracking, locating, fighting, chasing and ultimately defeating a strong enemy with a huge health bar, and the flow of gameplay has been likened to hunting games.

 

I did play a demo (or beta?) of MH World and that seemed pretty fun, but I never investigated further - is that still worth a look? Also I heard that the PC optimisation is a bit weird, so I wouldn't know whether to consider Steam or console...


Have you looked at theHunter Call of the Wild? It’s a hunting sim. One of the games I enjoyed the most from last gen (PS4). 

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52 minutes ago, therearerules said:

You've already done the best (and one of the least comprehensible), otherwise Phoenix Wright is an excellent and engaging entry to the genre. Also AI Somnium Files is great if you enjoyed VLR

 

It occurs to me since making my OP that I've actually played quite a few visual novels if The Walking Dead and Phoenix Wright count, which I suppose they do. I guess I've just never thought about them in that way - WD always felt like an interactive TV series, I suppose, due to its episodic nature, while in my head I'd categorised the Wright games under the 'Puzzler' banner. I think when I use the term 'visual novel' I'm referring more to things like Dangonronpa (is that what it's called?) - largely static images with very little in the way of traditional gameplay. I've heard good things about Somnium Files, though, despite the horrible name, so that's another one added to the list!

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16 hours ago, Jamie John said:

Personally, I'm especially looking for something to ease me into fighting games (I appreciate this is a very broad church, but I've never once played a fighter with a decent tutorial), shooters (I didn't get Ikaruga) and visual novels (I got the platinum on Virtue's Last Reward back in the Vita years ago, but I guess that's more of a puzzle game with lots of text, and I haven't really played anything similar since).

 

What would you recommend?

 

Killer Instinct on GamePass and Guilty Gear Xrd (the latest version of that being Rev2) are probably the best examples of fighting game tutorials and they (Guilty Gear in particular) focus on teaching genre fundamentals which can translate to other games quite nicely. The new Guilty Gear, Strive, due in April, ought to continue this trend of strong tutorials and the game itself appears to be a less complex starting point than the earlier games.

 

Almost every other fighting game tutorial is dreadful. The best approach is always to have an enthusiastic buddy you can play against and learn alongside, really. Getting too worried about the technical stuff before just having fun playing will sap the joy out of getting better.

I got better at fighting games from playing against folk on here, asking questions, sharing tips and being unemployed for 6+ months.

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7 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

Cheers @joffocakes. I've got GPU, so I can check out Killer Instinct.

 

This review suggests that MK11 is also welcoming to newcomers. Is that true in your experience, or are you not an MK kinda guy?

 

I definitely found it easier to get into than others in the series (ended up getting the Platinum Trophy twice, on PS4 then PS5) and the tutorial, while not great, is better than the average fighter's offering.

 

MK definitely feels like its own thing in regard to how combos, defense, special cancels and input motions etc work though so, as an entry point to the genre as a whole, it may not be the best choice. Highly recommended though as it's very entertaining; the attention to detail and polish is off the scale.

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10 minutes ago, joffocakes said:

 

I definitely found it easier to get into than others in the series (ended up getting the Platinum Trophy twice, on PS4 then PS5) and the tutorial, while not great, is better than the average fighter's offering.

 

MK definitely feels like its own thing in regard to how combos, defense, special cancels and input motions etc work though so, as an entry point to the genre as a whole, it may not be the best choice. Highly recommended though as it's very entertaining; the attention to detail and polish is off the scale.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't MK traditionally the most popular fighter among the filthy casual crowd, hence why it seems to get a new release every year? That in itself might speak to its accessibility. Although it might just be the gore, I suppose.

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I know everyone knows this already, but I found Hades was the game that allowed me to really enjoy a roguelike/roguelite for the first time. 
 

I had previously tried to play Binding of Isaac and Dead Cells. Got a bit further with Spelunky and even Noita. But ultimately, I found them all too daunting; too difficult. And I don’t have unlimited time to play these things. They end up feeling more like a chore - even though I just know they’re the sort of thing I could really get into if only I could just get past that difficulty/time barrier.

 

Hades just clicked though - pretty much immediately. It’s a complex game but made in such a way that I never felt out of my depth. Every element was drip fed at just the right pace. I’ve spent countless hours on it now - it was pretty much the only game I played in the second half of 2020.

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28 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't MK traditionally the most popular fighter among the filthy casual crowd, hence why it seems to get a new release every year? That in itself might speak to its accessibility. Although it might just be the gore, I suppose.

 

Yeah I think its second only to Smash? The gore is no doubt a draw but more likely it's the guarantee that there will be a wealth of stuff to do for solo player in a genre where you're lucky to get anything more than Arcade Mode (in the case of Street Fighter V at launch not even that).

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Flight Simulator over the past few weeks has massively opened my eyes to the world of simulations. I’ve always had a nagging desire to get in to them but always ultimately found them impenetrable. However the sheer beauty of the world, the whole world, has pushed me through. And it REALLY helps that there’s a brilliant community of Youtubers who’ve put hours in to great guides that let you learn the ropes. 
 

Now I’m a budding aviation nerd. 

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