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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:19 pm 


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My PC is too weak to run AI War 2 but bought it anyway to support the dev. He's very sincere about how much he's struggling to stay afloat. A shame because all his games are unique, but none had the success of the original AI War. Hope this one becomes a hit and maybe someday we can see Stars Beyond Reach released.

In other news, recently I discovered Illwinter games and have been playing a bit of Conquest of Elysium 4 and multiplayer Dominions 4. The latter is an absurdly deep game, one that you can spend a lifetime in. Think the large-scale battles of Total War plus the magic power and variety of Master of Magic, but without the tedious micromanagement of troops and cities. And it has asynchrous multiplayer, perfect for people who don't have the time to sit in front of a PC for hours straight anymore.

I was given Dom4 for free but now I'm planning to get the latest Dominions next time it goes on sale. It's kinda expensive but very worth it.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:12 pm 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
Atelier/Mana Khemia/Ar Tonelico


Are these good games? Are there any that stand out as particularly recommendable? I don't really have any experience with Gust's stuff, but I've long thought the Atelier premise of an RPG about running an alchemy shop was interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 7:46 pm 


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Vanguard wrote:
BulletMagnet wrote:
Atelier/Mana Khemia/Ar Tonelico


Are these good games? Are there any that stand out as particularly recommendable? I don't really have any experience with Gust's stuff, but I've long thought the Atelier premise of an RPG about running an alchemy shop was interesting.


It depends what you are looking for. The gameplay isn't bad per se but it's not particularly amazing either. The big draw to me was I had a lot of fun with item synthesis/crafthing which is most of the game. I'd say give one of them a shot and see what you think. Most are dirt cheap at this point. Unfortunately the actual best one Mana Khemia 2 is a bit pricey these days...
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:24 am 


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The PS2 Atelier titles are a bit of an outlier from the rest, they're more traditional JRPGs with a bunch of item crafting (which can get rather puzzle-like when you need to make more specific/advanced stuff) in them; the ones both before (which were never localized) and since are more centrally focused on the crafting (and usually a time limit to get it done in; I should note that there's not really a "shop to run" a la Recettear) while the RPG stuff is secondary. The former group are what I played first, and are subsequently what served to sort of ease me into the Gust "style" if you will from other RPGs.

You definitely need at least some tolerance for anime-ness (particularly if you try Ar Tonelico, which is extra fan-servicey) and occasional rough edges (and/or localizations) gameplay- and presentation-wise, but the biggest draw for me personally is that the titles tend to have a very "genial" feel to them, for lack of a better term; different individual games have different amounts of it, but some of my favorite bits have been just seeing the characters react to and chat about some of the stuff they've created, and the fact that in a majority of the titles you're not out to save the world, your character tends to have a more personal, small-scale ultimate goal in mind, which gives them a different feel from most JRPGs. Definitely not for everyone, but for me they tend to scratch a particular itch that I haven't found any other games quite satisfy.

As for recommendations, as I mentioned in a previous post I've finished all the (localized) PS2 entries but kind of fell off the wagon with more recent ones; the Mana Khemias are my personal favorites, though I'd give the first Atelier Iris (the first one I played) the award for the most "personality" of that bunch. I also noted I enjoyed Ar Tonelico 2, but the dodgy localization and dating sim elements might put you off. I don't know what any of those go for these days, but if you can find any of the PS3 entries at a Gamestop they shouldn't run you more than 20 bucks; off the cuff I'm inclined to point you towards Atelier Rorona Plus, an enhanced version of the first PS3 title. Several of those also got ported to the Vita, sometimes with a few extra knicknacks, but in my experience they don't run too well; the PSP port of Mana Khemia is also infamously janky IIRC.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:50 am 


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One of the AT and MK games each have a game breaking bug that NISA somehow introduced. AT has a patch floating around online last I knew.

BM your second paragraph states it well. I love the languid pace.

The psp release of MK is indeed horrible.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:08 pm 


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BM, is this Recettear what you referred to?

why didn't anybody tell me that ZUN had plans for world domination?
Touhou-themed RPG
Touhou-themed dungeon crawler
Touhou-themed different RPG or this one? or this one?
Touhou-themed whatever this is
Touhou-themed platform
Touhou-themed tower defense


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:17 pm 


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Correct. It's a game where you run an item shop.

I forgot to mention earlier I love the Atelier games so much that I bought the JP Limited Box for the first and second. Back when I did they were only about $20 before shipping from Japan and include some great items. The first one has a music box/bookend that is just absolutely adorable and the second has a music box that rotates and has the two main characters on it. I never could find the third one for a good enough price. It was rare then and impossible to find now.

Obviously no need for the games beyond that as NISA pretty much started doing direct ports of the JP box for the US market starting with Mana Khemia. In fact the Jess Figure box is literally identical in every way and it used to be much cheaper (after the initial stock ran out) to get that by importing from Japan and buying a US copy of the "premium edition" that didn't have that. I purged a lot of LEs from my collection including many NISA releases but I kept all the GUST stuff.

Edit: Looks like PS3 is in that sweet spot where Japanese games including premium boxes are going for absolute peanuts. I'm sure I will be making some dumb purchases soon.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:23 pm 


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ED-057 wrote:
why didn't anybody tell me that ZUN had plans for world domination?
Touhou-themed RPG
Touhou-themed dungeon crawler
Touhou-themed different RPG or this one? or this one?
Touhou-themed whatever this is
Touhou-themed platform
Touhou-themed tower defense

All those are fangames. Touhou fans are crazy. Like, did you know there's a Touhou-themed Doom mod?

While I'm at it, Strange Aeons is an awesome one, but its balancing on Ultra-Violence is hot garbage. I'd advise any Doom or classic FPS fans to play it but only on HMP, even though it's a bit easy that way. Play it on UV only on your second time and only if you can stomach mapsets that aim to annoy the player as much as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:57 pm 


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So the LRG Switch release of Freedom Planet allowed me to finally play this game, literally years after originally purchasing it as a part of some Humble Bundle, all thanks to the convenience of handheld gaming.

Image

And, uh, why the fuck are people in such an uproar about Sonic Mania when Freedom Planet is better in almost every conceviable way?
This is exactly everything I'd want from a "modern" "Sonic" game, it fixes all the issues people usually have with Sonic games, and manages to exude all the most important qualities.

Every single stage is just pure, fun bliss. They are all unique and creatively designed, with tons of new original ideas coming at you constantly as they evolve dynamically while the game employs the level design itself as a method for continuous storytelling. There's simply no end to the how much the game keeps wowing me with new stuff happening. The amount of work that's been put into making every single stage stand out and constantly feel fresh demands infinite respect.

All of that is actually in a bit of a constrast to the game's primary issue, being the overly long, confusing, and basically unnecessary story segments with cringeworthy voice acting that ends up coming across as an amateur Sonic fangame - Which it might have started out as, but something every other aspect of the game surpasses by a long shot. There is the option of playing the game entirely without cutscenes, and honestly I think I would recommend that, without having even tried it. The plot is super confusing anyway, due to immediately introducing a ton of characters and pretending you already know them, as well as nearly identical, foreign location names.

While the sprites aren't always super well done, the overall visual presentation is simply gorgeous as you're zooming through the gigantic levels. And unlike most of the Sonic games, the speed is merely a tool, it never feels forced, and it also never feels like a weakness. Enemies won't hurt you on impact, and there is almost always a solid visual indication when you need to watch out for where you are going. Also, in what might be considered an imperfection in the game's attempt to replicate Sonic physics, switching to manageable speed at any moment is very basic, while moves that you might assume require a high speed (such as running along a loop) can usually be performed with little to no momentum - which in the context of keeping the gameplay entertaining is completely ok!
The boss fights are well designed, fun, and seem to embrace both fast mayham and a methodic, slow approach with equal excellence.

And, oh yeah, the game has a hitpoint system, which means you'll actually care about not getting hit. The game is by no means hard, and you get a ton of 1ups, but the fact that it actually matters whether you get hit still plays a pretty central role along with the generally fun, simple "combat" system.
Overall, though Sonic being the obvious inspiration, Freedom Planet also ends up feeling like a super fun take on Rocket Knight.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:54 pm 


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And, uh, why the fuck are people in such an uproar about Sonic Mania when Freedom Planet is better in almost every conceviable way?

Been a real while since I played FP, but I thought the last couple stages were a real chore with all the stuff that was going on there. If that hadn't been the case I might have agreed that it's superior to Mania.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:00 pm 


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ED-057 wrote:
Touhou-themed dungeon crawler


This one is pretty good. Very solid combat, boss fights, and party building. The random encounters are unfortunately a waste of your time, but that's most RPGs. I think I prefer the original Labyrinth of Touhou overall, though. Its art is really shitty, especially compared to how good it is in LoT2, but I like the dungeons and bosses better.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:03 pm 


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I wouldn't compare FP to Sonic Mania too hard. It hits an entirely different itch.
FP has the look of Sonic, but it's way more in line more with say, Rocket Knight in my eyes regarding how it plays. It's a great game still.
Also, the stages are decidedly not fun to time-attack. Mania's aren't ideal for it either, but chasing faster times in FP is way more of a chore.
The bosses in FP are definitely great, yeah. I'm pretty sure I don't actually like any of Mania's bosses.

I'm not so willing to discard FP's disregard for gravity on walls. It's weird.

As an aside, I've always wondered how to fix Sonic's ring system without just discarding it, and the Mega Play release of Sonic 1 really seems to just indicate that having a shorter time limit is the right way to go [ideally, I'd do mid-stage time-extensions instead of a single, long timer].
Getting hit takes time and re-collecting rings takes time, so you now have to care about getting hit. Going fast is a big deal because now you need to go fast. A bunch of Sonic's design flaws just evaporate under racing-game style checkpoint timing.

still eternally confused as to why Sonic never re-adopted the Sonic CD camera either [even Freedom Planet just takes it -- if you're going fast for more than a second or two, scroll the camera to see more, that's it]
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:18 pm 


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Vanguard wrote:
I think I prefer the original Labyrinth of Touhou overall, though. Its art is really shitty, especially compared to how good it is in LoT2, but I like the dungeons and bosses better.


I'm fond of the original too. The art can be replaced (use the LoT2 art, problem solved) and the fun New Game + means you can run through the game with whatever teams you want right from the start after you beat it once. "Draft Runs" are popular on Touhou forums where 3 people pick 12 characters out of the 40 and use them the entire game, where each person takes turn picking. Gotta be smart about the picks or you're running the game without much healing!
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:37 pm 


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null1024 wrote:
I wouldn't compare FP to Sonic Mania too hard. It hits an entirely different itch.

Yes and no...
Like I said (or at least hopefully hinted at?), it's entirely its own game, and I agree that a direct comparison probably isn't really fair.

But on the other hand, everything I loved about Freedom Planet is exactly the same itches that games like Sonic 3 & Knuckles have hit for me. It's not tight action gameplay, but the gameplay serves a purpose in enforcing the carefree bliss of zooming through gigantic stages full of incredible setpieces. Freedom Planet does a lot of things that I wish all the modern Sonic games would have done, and does it expertly. It just doesn't let up. It's just pure fun, and I wish Sonic Mania had been that.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:09 am 


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appreciate the input on Labyrinth of Touhou. I'll probably grab one of those, especially if I get a DLsite coupon.

As for Freedom Planet, I played it once back in June, as Lilac. Made it all the way to dreadnought part 4 in one marathon of credit feeding, and then ran short of patience and gave up, not even realizing that was the final stage. I was pretty slow at learning some of the boss patterns, or I just spammed cyclone everywhere and eventually got lucky and killed it before dying. Since you guys were talking about it, I just went back and finished the game finally, racking up 30 or so more deaths for a total of 98, lol.

I noticed the final boss had a life bar though, whereas I don't remember the bosses having a life bar before. I have to wonder if they did all along and I just didn't notice.

Didn't try time attack yet.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:49 am 


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Mega Man Battle Network 4.5: Real Operation [GBA].
Well, it's finally translated. The translation is done in a fairly faithful style to the western MMBN localizations.
The game is sure as hell a lot more fun than that "Battle Chip Challenge" game, another BN game where you don't get to control your NetNavi directly [someone wrote a patch that restores BN4 style gameplay].
It's clearly a hastily put out game made from BN4 assets, and it does a lot of time-related things to pad out gameplay length, but it's pretty neat and tries to make it as if you, the player, actually had a PET.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:23 am 


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FYI: Freedom Planet 2 is in the works!
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 4:11 am 


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This thread hipped me to Micro Mages. Haven't dipped in yet, but planning to have a go at the 4-player mode on the MiSTer.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:50 am 


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Mischief Maker wrote:

Oh great, the voice acting remains as cringeworthy as in the first.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 2:16 pm 


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Sumez wrote:
Oh great, the voice acting remains as cringeworthy as in the first.


This is one of the reasons I sometimes enjoy text-only RPGs without voiceovers, or find reading books more enjoyable than listening to an audiobook or movie version. My imagination does a better job of voicing them as I read than a guy reading an audiobook does and then doing a bad falsetto for female characters for instance.

Good selection of voice actors is a bit of an art, and it's not something I think we fully appreciate in North America. The Japanese anime and videogame industry are much better versed in it.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:20 pm 


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I think the issue here is mostly that this is a small group of indie devs that are truly working out of a love of creating the thing they want to make - not some kind of strategic marketing approach. Even though Freedom Planet has been a modest success, they decided to stick to their existing crew of voice actors which I'm assuming consists primarily of good friends and people who already have other duties in the production of the game.

I respect this, and it's how I want indie game production to be, but it doesn't change the fact that the uncomfortable amateur voice acting is a really stark contrast to the otherwise incredible production at work here.
And even with that said, it's not like the voice actors are absolutely horrible. Some of them are even somewhat competent, but paired with the game's visual style it creates a kind of uncanny valley that does no favors to the end product.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:43 pm 


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Does the game allow you to disable voices? A lot of game have audio settings for Sound, Music, Voice (such as SaiDaiOuJou's xb360 port for instance).
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:17 pm 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
I'm fond of the original too. The art can be replaced (use the LoT2 art, problem solved) and the fun New Game + means you can run through the game with whatever teams you want right from the start after you beat it once. "Draft Runs" are popular on Touhou forums where 3 people pick 12 characters out of the 40 and use them the entire game, where each person takes turn picking. Gotta be smart about the picks or you're running the game without much healing!


I saw some of that going on at shrinemaiden.org when I went to get the translation patch. Sounds interesting, but for me, recruiting characters and messing around with team compositions is too big a part of the appeal. It'd be a good way to keep things fresh if you've played through a million times, but I've only done one main game run and one main game + postgame run.

I've been using a set made from portraits by the Twilight Frontier artist. I don't suppose you've got a set of LoT2 portraits properly cut and resized to be used in LoT1?

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
This is one of the reasons I sometimes enjoy text-only RPGs without voiceovers, or find reading books more enjoyable than listening to an audiobook or movie version. My imagination does a better job of voicing them as I read than a guy reading an audiobook does and then doing a bad falsetto for female characters for instance.

Good selection of voice actors is a bit of an art, and it's not something I think we fully appreciate in North America. The Japanese anime and videogame industry are much better versed in it.


Yeah, definitely. There's nothing worse than when western adult actors try to portray child characters.

Even when the acting is fine, you can read the line in a lot less time than the actors take to deliver it, so you're either skipping the line and cutting the actor off constantly, or you're waiting around for far longer than you need to be. Text is also better suited than voice acting for games where the player can influence the story. If you name your dude in a voice acted game, you know everyone's going to awkwardly refer to you entirely in pronouns, or at best exclusively use a title or a surname. In a text game it's really easy to change up NPC sentences a bit if you solved a quest in an unconventional way or whatever. If it's voice acted they need to record a different response for each possible outcome, and the result is that it's that much cheaper and easier for the developer to minimize the number of choices you can make.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:44 pm 


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The worst part to me (of many) about listening to English dubs of anime and jrpgs is the tiny talent pool. So you hear the same people over and over again.

As far as audiobooks I've never enjoyed them. 100% team actual reading for me.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:57 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Does the game allow you to disable voices? A lot of game have audio settings for Sound, Music, Voice (such as SaiDaiOuJou's xb360 port for instance).

Maybe it does? It's worth considering.
I'm judging the game based on the actual content there, though. There's a mode that disables cutscenes entirely and just plays the stages. I'd definitely recommend that to anyone who doesn't mind missing out on the plot. But I also wish they'd just designed the game entirely around that mode - I think it would have worked wonderfully entirely without any written lines of dialogue, similar to the Sonic games.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:45 am 


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Damn, Freedom Planet looks nice. I hate coming into this, and the side-scrolling thread sometimes, there's always something else to add to the watch list!
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:10 am 


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If you have any love for the spectacles of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Freedom Planet will be up your alley. It doesn't take long to play through, so just give it a a go.


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:44 pm 


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Vanguard wrote:
I've been using a set made from portraits by the Twilight Frontier artist. I don't suppose you've got a set of LoT2 portraits properly cut and resized to be used in LoT1?


Yep, I've got one I made up that I can send you.

Quote:
Text is also better suited than voice acting for games where the player can influence the story.


This too. If you're doing a project where you've hired professional voice actors, the budget you need goes up drastically when a lot of text is involved. You either limit the amount of lines in the game that are actually voiced, or you make things linear enough that you don't need to record dozens of variations per scene. It also adds potential complication to multilingual projects, where you have to hire voice actors for each language.

In an indie project where the people working on the team do the voiceovers themselves or get volunteers to do it for free, that's more doable for lots of voice acting though.

The other limitation is in voiced games as well as movies, you don't generally have a detailed narrator's voice. Narration really can flesh out a novel in a way simply watching action taking place on-screen can't. The narrator exists to be able provide insight into character thoughts and motivations in a way that can't properly be expressed by the medium of television or movies, which is why a lot of books that get converted to movies lose their texture and richness. That narration is totally absent. In something like a manga converted to anime, or a tv show or movie made specific to the medium, there's no information conveyed to the viewer being lost due to a format change.

Without a narrator's voice, you're relying on the game's ability artwork to be able to show the kind of details in a characters face as they speak to infer what they might be thinking, their attitude, etc, and you're limited in what you can express other than voicing by your art and animations.
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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:21 pm 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Yep, I've got one I made up that I can send you.


That'd be great! Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: What [not shmup] game are you playing now?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:33 pm 


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