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Eliwood8

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Eliwood8 last won the day on June 27

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About Eliwood8

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  1. I couldn't be more pleased that nonogram puzzles (aka Picross puzzles) have become an increasingly significant genre of games, to the point where we're now seeing it incorporated into genre mash-ups. Framing the puzzle-solving gameplay around a proper story is a logical combination, and what better genre to use than visual novels? Murder by Numbers combines the story-driven appeal of a game like Phoenix Wright with the addictive puzzle mechanics of Picross, and the result is even more than the sum of its parts. Sure it may seem niche, but the stylish design, charming story, and brain-tickling puzzles makes for a winning combination. Murder by Numbers is a detective story, though your path into the field is a little unusual. You play as Honor Mizrahi, an actress on a detective show, who finds herself mixed up with actual murder cases when someone close to her is killed. As luck would have it, at the exact same time she meets SCOUT, a flying robot who assists with finding clues (clues, in this case, are represented by nonogram puzzles). The pair make an unlikely but effective detective partnership, and from there you get three more cases to puzzle over, ultimately leading you to discover more about SCOUT's mysterious origins. The writing is highly reminiscent of Phoenix Wright—there are puns aplenty and most characters are big, larger-than-life personalities that are a lot of fun and allow for plenty of funny, charming, and occasionally heartfelt scenes. The cases themselves will also keep you engaged with plenty of twists and intrigue, even if some of the twists are rather predictable for experienced gumshoes. The gameplay is pretty evenly divided between talking to/interrogating characters and solving nonogram puzzles. On each screen you have the option to talk to anyone in the area or investigate. Investigating lets you scan the screen for puzzles that provide clues to the case, such as a missing wallet or suspicious items scattered around the area. Once you have the clues, you can present them to other characters to suss out lies or inconsistencies and gradually unravel the truth of each case. It's a simple, effective gameplay loop that provides a nice balance between the long dialogue sequences typically found in visual novels and the somewhat overwhelming supply of puzzles that you're given in a typical Picross game. For anyone unfamiliar with nonogram puzzles, they're a type of logic puzzle like Sudoku. You have a grid with numbers along the sides, and those numbers provide clues on where to fill in squares on the grid, ultimately revealing a picture. The game starts off simple with 5x5 grids, but by the end will ramp up to 15x15 which provide much more complex puzzles to solve. That said, Murder by Numbers isn't a terribly difficult game, neither in puzzle-solving nor interrogations. For one thing there's basically no penalty for failing at either aside from just trying again, but it also feels like, by combining these two game genres, the developers opted to make both relatively easy so as not to scare off new players. That's not to say there aren't some rare tricky moments, but for the most part it's not hard to comfortably progress through the game. Ultimately this might be a strength of the game—getting bogged down in challenging puzzles can be a drag, and Murder by Numbers keeps its gameplay progress feeling snappy and moving, which ensures the story doesn't drag either. The game is also a bit longer than you'd probably expect. There are only four cases to solve but the last two are particularly long—all told you're looking at over fifteen hours of gameplay, potentially more depending on how quickly or slowly you solve nonogram puzzles. As mentioned though the game never feels like it drags, plus if you want even more content you'll unlock additional bonus puzzles as you progress through the game. As a puzzle game there's not a ton of incentive for replaying the whole experience, but one playthrough still provides plenty of content for the price. Nonogram puzzles can be rather dry in the visual or audio departments, so it's great to see that Murder by Numbers infuses so much personality into its presentation to really make the characters and their stories pop. The artwork is bright and colorful, capturing the 90s setting of the story, and the characters themselves are distinct and memorable. The music is also lively and engaging, and its similarities to Phoenix Wright are no mere coincidence as Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori worked on the soundtrack. Sugimori certainly has a knack for making catchy songs that meld into the background while heightening the action or dialogue on screen, and that's definitely true for Murder by Numbers as well. Murder by Numbers proves that developer Mediatonic has a keen understanding of not just visual novels and puzzle games, but how to combine them in a clever, engaging way. The writing is charming, the puzzles are satisfying, and the game's stylish presentation ensures there's never a dull moment. Fans of either visual novels or puzzle games owe it to themselves to check out Murder by Numbers, and they may just discover a new love for another genre of gaming along the way. Rating: 8 out of 10 Numbers
  2. Wow how many exclusives does that leave the Wii U now? Super Mario 3D World and Xenoblade Chronicles X are the only big ones that come to mind, or at least the ones that people are likely to really want. I hope that this is a build up to a brand new Pikmin 4 though. I liked Pikmin 3 but I'm not sure I'm gonna buy it again.
  3. Thanks for having me last night, it was fun getting back into Smash a bit! I might try to get back into joining in more regularly; I'll post if I'm going to be on. I must've joined during the second or third match 'cause I don't remember seeing Pac-Man or the Mario Maker stage, sorry about that.
  4. I haven't played the Switch version but as far as I know it should have the same accessibility options as the other versions.
  5. Adjusting the weather manually? Not that I'm aware of; coping with the weather is a common part of the survival game experience after all. I suppose it would be possible to just try to sleep through bad weather/lightning, as long as you have a safe place to sleep, but as you progress through the game it starts to rain quite often.
  6. The Flame in the Flood is a great survival game, especially for beginners in the genre. It's still plenty challenging but it feels a little more forgiving than most survival games. Really great soundtrack too. Crypt of the NecroDancer is a blast, just be aware that it is as difficult as most roguelikes—you're going to go through dozens of attempts before you finish the game even once, but this is a game all about the journey not necessarily the destination. Blossom Tales is indeed a fun throwback to 2D Zelda, and certainly worth playing if you're a fan of that style of adventure game.
  7. - #Funtime (Switch) Solid twin-sticks shooter with some novel ideas to keep the gameplay fresh and varied. Could probably use a better name though. - Rainswept (Switch) An engaging little detective story that deals with some heavy topics, though I would've preferred more actual gameplay elements. - Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (Switch) It has all the fast, frantic 2D action gameplay that I'd expect, but eh, kind of wish there was more to it. - Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch) Honestly much better than I thought it would be. I'd still prefer to see Paper Mario return to its RPG roots but this is an entertaining alternative. - Murder by Numbers (Switch) Really loving this trend of combining Picross puzzles with other game genres. This one is a solid detective story with a great deal of puzzle game charm as well. I'd love to see this generate some sequels. Console: 70 Overall: 70
  8. How do you keep a franchise feeling fresh game after game? It must be difficult balancing the impulse to repeat the same style/features of a winning formula with branching out and trying something new. For the Paper Mario series, the developers clearly went with the latter by dropping the RPG elements of the first few games and transitioning to a more purely action-adventure system. The change was clumsy, to say the least, and few would disagree that Sticker Star was the low point of the series. Color Splash made some decent steps toward restoring the panache that the franchise is known for, and now Paper Mario: The Origami King pushes forward with even bigger strides. It's still not the RPG experience that many fans most likely hoped for, but The Origami King still does an excellent job of crafting a new adventure brimming with charm. It wouldn't be a Mario game—platformer, RPG, adventure, or otherwise—without our favorite plumber setting off on a quest to rescue Princess Peach. This time she and her entire castle have been overrun by Olly, the self-proclaimed Origami King, who is literally reshaping the world one fold at a time. Mario is aided on his quest by Olivia, Olly's sister, plus you'll see Luigi, Bowser, and dozens of Toads as you work to undo Olly's reign of terror. One of the great strengths of the Paper Mario series is the personality and humor it injects into familiar Mario characters. Sure you get a bit of that in the mainline Mario platformers, but this spin-off series is where the writing can really shine, and The Origami King manages it exceedingly well. Olivia in particular is one of the most delightful companions Mario has ever had. More than just a mouthpiece for Mario or a guide for the player, her story throughout the game is genuinely engaging, and her sweet, friendly demeanor makes her instantly endearing—leave it to Nintendo to make a sentient origami such a lovable character. The game is also jam-packed with puns and various other goofy jokes, most of which are far more charming than they have any right to be. The Origami King places a fairly big emphasis on exploration. The environments are significant, larger than most Paper Mario games, and are filled with little things to interact with. As you explore you can rescue Toads who have been turned into origami shapes, collect items—both usable items and collectibles—from question blocks, and repair holes in the world with confetti wherever the paper has been torn. Each area you explore is filled with these little things to do, and it's a lot of fun to go out of your way to do them all. There's something very simple and satisfying about this kind of collection or checklist completion gameplay, plus there are some wonderfully inventive environments in the game that make exploration much more interesting than simply walking through a field or scaling a mountain. Completionists should love having so much to do in each region. The game's battle system will most likely be a divisive issue among fans once again, since there still isn't an experience points system to actually reward you for battling. However, The Origami King might have the best non-RPG battle system in the series to date. For one thing, you are still rewarded with coins and confetti, both of which are plenty useful. More importantly, this game uses a ring-based battle system which essentially makes every fight a mini-puzzle. In order to efficiently defeat enemies you'll want to line them up in a row (for jump attacks) or arrange them into a square (for hammer attacks). By manipulating the rings on the battlefield, you can move enemies into the ideal formation for your attacks. It helps keep every battle at least a little engaging, and some of the puzzles can get genuinely difficult, so it's not like this is a mindless task in each battle. The really complicated puzzles can be a bit frustrating, but you can also spend coins to get an assist from the Toads you've rescued, which is extremely helpful. The ring system can get tiresome or repetitive if you're doing a lot of battles in a row, and the lack of experience points still somewhat disincentivizes you from actually fighting instead of just avoiding enemies, but it's at least an improvement over recent Paper Mario games. And while you do need to buy equipment to use more powerful attacks, the equipment has a lengthy durability so you don't need to be constantly buying more, unless you're going out of your way to fight every enemy you meet. Boss fights take the ring-based battle mechanic one step further with a more elaborate puzzle system. This time Mario is navigating the battlefield and needs to follow arrows on the ground in order to get close enough to attack the boss. It scratches a puzzle/strategy game itch where you get the satisfaction of seeing your plans fall into place, which in this case means delivering a devastating attack against giant bosses. There are also specific strategies you'll need to employ to properly damage most bosses, and just figuring out the right steps can be an engaging challenge. In the end, The Origami King finds a unique and interesting battle system even without the standard RPG elements. It's arguable that those RPG elements would only further improve the experience, but at least battles don't feel like completely lopsided time wasters in this game. The Origami King is also a lot longer than you might expect. Given the lack of RPG mechanics, you might expect the game to skew toward a more typical action-adventure length, but there's still quite a lot to do here, and the early parts of the game in particular can be decently time-consuming. You can expect a good thirty hours or so out of the game, more if you go after all of the little collectibles that the game has to offer (including a fishing mini-game, because every game has a fishing mini-game these days). The visuals in the game are just a joy to look at, and once again push the envelope of what a world built entirely out of paper and craft supplies can be. The real-world constructed feel of the game is beautiful, and combined with the simplicity of 2D character designs it creates a rather striking yet also mellow and charming visual identity for the game. The origami characters are excellent as well, and manage to capture a realistic feel and weight of paper while still fitting perfectly with Paper Mario's aesthetic. And Olivia's adorable design is undeniably a part of what makes her so endearing. There are also some surprisingly gorgeous special effects at play here, notably the water and soil effects during specific scenes of the game, which feels like the developers showing off what the Switch can really do (and will hopefully be put to use in a new Pikmin game?). The soundtrack is excellent as well and thankfully doesn't rely too much on recycling familiar Mario tunes—it's fun to hear those songs again from time to time, but nothing beats originality, and The Origami King has some fantastic original tunes. Paper Mario: The Origami King still refuses to embrace the RPG mechanics that made the early games in the series such a smash hit with fans, but the compromises it concocts might be enough to make up for it. The ring-based battle system is a fun novelty, even if its charm does wear off at times, and the emphasis on exploration has provided a vibrant Mushroom Kingdom filled with fun and unique set pieces. Most importantly, the humor and personality of Paper Mario is well-represented here, from the pun-filled dialogue to the absolutely adorable adventure partner, Olivia. If Paper Mario can't return to its RPG roots, it has at least found a quality, engaging niche with The Origami King. Rating: 8 out of 10 Folds
  9. For North America, Dragon Quest (aka Dragon Warrior) was just viewed as too basic in gameplay and graphics, especially compared to Final Fantasy once that came out (which is arguably still true today—DQ games are relatively steady in terms of mechanics and look while FF often tries to do something flashy and unique, to mixed results). Nintendo literally gave away copies of the game through Nintendo Power since they had so overestimated demand. It wasn't until DQVIII that the series gained more mainstream popularity in America, and even then it's still probably behind FF. But yeah DQ has always been a phenomenon in Japan.
  10. Dr. Mario was never my go-to puzzle game either (that'd probably be Tetris), but I do enjoy picking it up now and then. Maybe I'll play some on the Switch this week to commemorate the anniversary.
  11. Metro Redux combines Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light into a single survival-horror FPS package. Originally released in 2010 and 2013 respectively, the two games follow the story of Dmitry Glukhovsky's novels, wherein nuclear war has created an apocalyptic landscape overrun by mutated beasts and people now live underground in the metro subway systems of Moscow. Both games exude atmosphere and style, even if the performance on the Switch has some ups and downs. More problematic, though, is the blend of survival mechanics and FPS action, which leads to some disappointing aspects of both. In Metro 2033, you play as Artyom, a young man living in a small station of the Metro who embarks on a quest to Polis, the capital of the Metro, after his station is attacked by mysterious creatures known as the Dark Ones that seem to possess psychic powers. Along the way Artyom gains allies and guides to help him on the journey, and perhaps understand the mysterious origins of the Dark Ones. The post-apocalyptic aspect of the story is solid even if it feels like it's been done before (i.e., even with vicious mutated beasts hounding the human population, the real danger is, as always, your fellow man), but the supernatural aspects of the story provide a real sense of intrigue. Metro 2033 explains very little to you outright, so it's more about immersing yourself in the world and lore of the game, which is pretty satisfying. Unfortunately the supernatural elements also feel a bit underused in Metro 2033, but thankfully they become more of a focus in Metro: Last Light's story, which also stars Artyom. Artyom himself is a bit odd as a protagonist, since during gameplay he is the classic silent, blank slate character (which also means other characters are constantly talking at you in order to tell you where to go or what to look at) but you can also find diaries written by Artyom which help flesh out the world's storytelling and adds insight to his personality. It feels unnecessary to divide Artyom's characterization like this, but at least he has some personality—you just have to find it. The Metro games might best be described as atmospheric FPS games. Unlike the typical action-focused FPS experience, both Metro games blend stealth gameplay, survival mechanics, and some scares into first-person shooter gameplay. You're actually free to approach most situations with either stealth or an all-out gunfight, though you'll always be limited by the amount of ammo you're able to scrounge up or purchase with the rare currency you can find. Whatever your playstyle preference, the atmosphere is tense as you struggle to survive against monsters and men. And whatever your playstyle preference, the Metro experience can be challenging, partly due to your limited assets and partly due to somewhat clunky gameplay design. Neither the stealth nor the gunplay feels quite ideal. Your movement and aim control are just a little too clunky to efficiently sneak around or to aim quickly and sharply, especially against monsters that will run at you and knock you around in a fury of claw attacks. Your field of vision is also limited compared to other games that focus entirely around stealth, which can be a little frustrating at times. The biggest annoyance though is when the game throws waves and waves of enemies at you like a typical FPS game, yet your limited ammo makes it hard to just go wild against fast-moving monster enemies. Metro: Last Light in particular features several large-scale battles that are more tedious than they are engaging. All that said, none of these complaints fully spoil the experience of creeping through derelict tunnels and desolate environments, but they can take you out of the game at times. The games' survival mechanics mainly center around the limited supplies that you're able to find and carry, especially filters for your gas mask which is required anytime you're on the surface or anywhere else with hazardous elements. Each filter has a limited use, which essentially puts a time limit on you whenever you don the mask—it can get tense at times when you only barely make it to a safe zone on your last filter. The most unique survival mechanic though is the way currency works. Instead of paper or metal money you actually trade bullets—powerful, military-grade bullets to be precise. You can use these powerful bullets in any machine gun, or you can use them to buy supplies when you're at a settlement. It's a really novel way of approaching the limited resources challenge of a survival game, and will definitely leave you questioning how best to use your resources. The game's controls have a few odd quirks, mostly due to using a controller as opposed to a mouse and keyboard. All of the basics—moving, aiming, shooting—are functionally fine with a controller, even if they're a bit too slow as previously mentioned, but the Metro games use an odd system for menus. Rather than having a typical pause menu for swapping guns, equipping gear like the gas mask, or checking your current goal, you have to use a combination of button presses to bring up these options. It's not terribly complicated after playing for a while, but it's a weird and unnecessary way of reinventing the wheel. Although the games run admirably well on the Switch's hardware, the one point of issue that stands out is the loading screen. Both games are divided up into little chapters and every time you enter a new one you're treated to a fairly lengthy loading screen. The good news is that this only happens when you start a new chapter—if you die and retry the loading screen is much shorter. Still, it's an annoyance that's hard to ignore. Each game lasts about ten hours, which isn't bad for a two-pack game bundle. There are also various difficulty levels to test your skills, and finding all of the diary pages may require another playthrough. Both games also have a small variety of weapons you can use, but since you can only carry three at a time you may want to replay parts of the game or the entire thing to fully experiment with different guns. And although neither game explicitly explains this, it might be worth replaying them to see if you can reach a different outcome by the end. The presentation in both games is notably dated (the first game is a decade old at this point, after all) but putting aside the technical quality of the visual design, the art direction is kind of a victim of its own success. Since the setting is post-apocalyptic, the scenery is understandably drab, full of grays and browns and rubble-strewn tunnels. It definitely succeeds in creating a certain atmosphere, it's just that that atmosphere can be rather boring after a while. The game is also in desperate need of an adjustable brightness setting. Dark shadows is a mainstay of the two games, but it can be difficult to make out what's on screen even when you have your flashlight turned on—playing in handheld mode is particularly difficult thanks to the overwhelming shadows. Thankfully you do eventually gain night vision goggles which helps alleviate the issue somewhat. The sound design is also a bit mixed, because a lot of the voice acting is shaky at best, and at worst it's laughable (notably, the voices for children). But if you're willing to focus on subtitles over audio, you can always switch to Russian voice acting which at least feels more natural given the setting. Metro Redux is a handy package for two decent survival horror FPS games. The games' atmospheric experiences make up somewhat for the rather clunky controls and mechanics of both the stealth and gunplay aspects of the gameplay, and the story is undeniably intriguing, especially when you consider the overarching plot of both games. Players looking for a more story-driven FPS would do well to check out this bundle, though anyone looking for a more purely stealth- or action-oriented game will have to cope with some awkward design choices. Rating: 7 out of 10 Metros
  12. I thought the text speed was really slow when I started too, but I got used to it. I think it's also particularly slow during the opening cutscenes for some reason, then speeds up a bit to feel a bit more natural. Also Olivia is precious and I love her.
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