Last game you finished

  • Mega Man X7

    This one was rough. I won't spend too much time on it, but it really was a slog to go through. Mega Man X didn't really transfer well to the third dimension.

    X7 is a hybrid of sorts. You have 3D levels that are more like an action game, and 2D levels that try to be a platformer. Neither work well. The way every character moves feels like its coated in tar, and never moves in a convincing way. It always feels like you're fighting for a better speed, and the game wants you to go very slowly. Even things like the dash feel broken, where if you try to do something like dash off a wall, you lose all your momentum midway through the jump. It makes platforming an extremely frustrating endeavor to try to take on.

    Fighting enemies is also just a slow, monotonous hurdle you need to get through in every level. For some reason, the title character Mega Man is not accessible at the beginning. You can be Zero or newcomer Axl. Axl's weapons are so weak that it sometimes takes around 50-60 shots just to take a small enemy down. Zero isn't as bad, and I primarily played with him, but getting close to guys can constantly make you fall on your back, slowing the pace even more. If you want to unlock X, you'll need to go through levels to help the Hunters. They work pretty much the same as previous games, where you'll unlock upgrades depending on who you save. They can also die, so it makes your character's sluggishness all the more noticeable. Get 65 of them, and you'll finally be able to use X, but by that time, your Zero will be so overpowered by comparison because he's been through half the game rescuing guys, it's just a small victory in not having to use Axl anymore.

    Axl and X are necessary though. Through a poor bit of design stemming from the 3d-2d hybrid, some enemies are in the foreground or background, and even in 3D, they're impossible to hit as Zero. They alleviated this by giving the characters with guns a lock-on mechanic, but often there are so many enemies on the screen, it's impossible to aim at the correct guy. In a way, this actually makes the truly 3D parts a better experience to go through because it feels more like an action game. It's almost like the game was designed with the 3D parts of stages designed first, and then forced to put them into side-scrolling segments. Either way, when Zero keeps falling on his back, it still doesn't make it an easy run.

    In the end, it's an appalling decision to lock X away for most of the game. Even when he's not there, upgrades are an absolute chore to find, and the armor upgrade (for X only, and only unlockable when you have him in your party), is a joke. It lets you do a Peter Pan glide that is honestly just a worse movement option than sliding and jumping. Bosses aren't fun to fight because they're constantly in inaccessible parts of the area, the camera can't figure out how to work in 3D or 2D, meaning jumps often end in a spiky death, and the story is just... well, I skipped it.

    There are probably fans of X7, and maybe had I played it when it came out I would have enjoyed it more and been one of them. But as it stands, X7 is like a bad tattoo. It's that mistake we just have to live with, with the story that it felt like the right thing at a different time. A growing pain we can look at, and know that we've grown up past the point of that mistake, and try our very best to laugh it off as a different time in our lives. I love Mega Man. I hate X7.

    Final Score 3/10

  • @happygaming I feel your pain! I had very similar impressions:

  • @axel said in Last game you finished:

    This shit is straight out of Glinny's Cauldron! I was more often than not laughing in disbelief at how bad it is.

    This is honestly, in short, the most accurate bulletpoint I could think of for this game.

  • 159:34:18

  • Mega Man X8

    “Somewhere along the lines, Mega Man fans had to lean on his legacy more than his trajectory; his past more than his future” – Satchell Drakes

    When I put the controller down after finishing Mega Man X8, I was exhausted. At the start, I was bright eyed with being back on a 2D plane, and excited by how much it felt improved from the previous X7. But by the end, the rug had been pulled out from under me. It came with the sad realization that just because the game had fixed one thing from the past, that didn’t mean it was the Mega Man I was looking for.

    X8 brings back the 2D platforming, although the 3D models are left in. I don’t mind this personally. While I’m arguably not a fan of 2.5D platformers, I do think the models are nice to look at. The environments also flow nicely with enemies jumping out of the backgrounds, and elements dynamically moving to make each place feel more alive. The problem comes when you’re moving. While definitely not as egregious as X7, there’s a lack of weight to the way moving and jumping feels in X8 that I never quite got used to. Jumping feels very floaty. Sliding feels like it lacks a continuous momentum. Moving feels the same, and jumping lacks any sort of hang time to make it feel like there’s a sense of control. This could be the reason that I died on the introduction stage of the game, which was not a good premonition of things to come.

    Mega Man X8 uses a ‘retry’ system. Basically, if like me, you were playing on normal, you get two retries. When those retries are up, you’re required to go back to the stage selection or new R&D lab before picking another stage. In the intro level, this isn’t unlocked yet, and so I was required to start the entire game over from the title screen. Later on, this system sort of makes sense, or at least I can gleam what they were going for. Enemies drop a currency when defeated, and the R&D lab is a place where you can spend that to improve your characters, get extra lives, etc. However, I think it’s an enormous mistake to not allow you to just jump back into the stage you’re trying to beat and continue from the start. Instead, you need to go through several extra menus just to start over. And you’ll be starting over a lot.

    Generally, X8 has fine shooting, it feels fine to slash things with Zero. Axl is there if you want to play as him, and he’ll be required for an armor piece or a secret. The biggest problem with X8 doesn’t come from its trying to mimic the blasting from the past, it comes from the level design. Levels are filled with cheap death traps everywhere. Spikes and pits make for a constant need to trial and error through levels, rather than get by through skill alone. Even then, you’ll need some luck. Enemies are extremely unbalanced. Some take away a third or more of your health with a single hit; and bringing back the same issue from X6, enemies drop more currency than anything else, so if you plan on healing, you’re out of luck. Unless you get to the halfway stage portions where you’re locked in a small room and have to kill a barrage of enemies who drop a large sum of cash and give you a single health pickup at the end.

    There’s a snow speeder level where there are several pits that are designed just to kill you deceitfully the first time you jump over it. It’s not a problem of the cueing of the jump, the ledge where you would normally land is just artificially shortened so you’ll fall into a pit the one time. This sort of design is all over the place. In a fire level, you’ll have to stay on rising platforms. If you go too high or fall too low, the screen kills you. Afterwards, there are a series of sections involving spikes. You fall faster than the screen, so you’ll need to die a couple of times to know exactly what falls end in a spiky retry. A lot of this would be alleviated if the game just controlled a little bit better, or if it zoomed the camera out a little bit, but it’s so intent on being up close to you, that you can never really plan to be a master of the jump that’s coming. I eventually turned the game to the ‘Rookie Hunter” mode because I was tearing my hair out, and even then, it didn’t stop me falling on spikes or into pits.

    What do I like about X8? For the first time since Alia came on the scene, you’re allowed to pick between one of three intel professionals. One is a master of boss weakness, one will hint at where armor pieces will be, and Alia is a mix of the other two. If you don’t want to use one, go in without one. I love that. Those armor pieces also bring something I like, that is admittedly flawed in its execution. There are two armors to find in the game, but rather than have to find all the pieces for each to make them individually accessible, X can use the pieces as you see fit and use their benefits as well. So if you want to mix and match armor from both sets, you’re allowed to do that. The problem is that the armor upgrades lack any real sort of benefit beyond a couple pieces that reduce damage or increase the speed of charging. A higher jump makes it even harder to platform, especially with ceiling spikes for instance, and a super laser beam charged gun does less damage than normal and mid charged shots. It is a neat idea, but also robs that sense of accomplishment you get when you’ve completed a new armor set to see what it looks like and what it does.

    The bosses this time around are pretty disappointing and forgettable as well. I do really like the design of Dark Mantis and the Panda dude, but they really aren’t fun to fight. They tend to be invincible for a good portion of each fight, not allowing you to hit at all. It’s probably because you do so much more damage than you would in previous games and it’s used as a tactic to balance it out. In practice it just means you wait a lot, or get your butt kicked when you didn’t deserve it because you weren’t allowed to get a hit in. Still, if you get to the bosses, you’ll generally not have a problem beating them, if you can get through their insufferably difficult, and poorly designed stages.

    One of the coolest additions to the game is the ability to get Zero new weapons. Early on, I got him a spear, and when combined with a spinning air attack, it basically takes up a good third of the screen with an attack you can use as much as you want. I used it constantly until the final boss. It didn’t feel satisfying to use because it was less of a tactic and felt more like I was weaponizing the game’s inequitable design back at it. Mega Man X7 made me very disappointed, and while X8 is an improvement, it made me angry. With all it could have improved from X7, it only did the bare minimum, and takes so many steps back for everything it attempts to change and fix. Deaths feel unfair and unearned, especially in the on rails levels. The R&D lab constantly slows down the pace of the game as you die constantly, and feels like a cheap tactic to force you to buy retries and character improvements rather than upgrade the classic Mega Man way. Bosses feel sluggish and don’t ever let you hit them. And worst of all, moving just feels like you’re never in full control, forcing you to trial and error your way through bad level design. It’s simply not a fun game to play.


  • @happygaming Why do you keep doing this to yourself haha

  • @capnbobamous I wanted to write a podcast episode about Mega Man and franchise's history, impact and current perception and standing and thought it would be good for the firsthand context.

    Don't worry, my girlfriend started something I'm very excited to write a review on next!

  • @happygaming I was looking for my own impressions of X8 to share them with you but looks like I didn't write any. That sums up my feelings about this one: entirely forgettable and pointless.

    If I could direct any game of my choosing, it would be X9. There's so much potential in this series and it's baffling to see how mediocre it became with each new entry. Let's hope that Mega Man 11 was successful enough to convince Capcom to give the series a proper shot again.

  • Detention

    As I crept through the dark creaking halls of the abandoned Taiwanese school as student Fang Ray-Shin, I was reminded that good horror doesn’t come from what you see. True, there are a share of specters and creatures that I’d encountered. What continued to get under my skin wasn’t the fear of death though, but the haunting dread that purveyed from what could have been Ray’s reality. The notes I found, and the hints and prods to the protagonists’ life continued to creep through my mind like a spider, unraveling and revealing the reality of events that transpired as a reminder that some of the best horror is gleamed from reality and everyday life.

    Red Candle Games is a very small studio in Taiwan who have developed only two games. While Devotion has been delisted and made unavailable to the market outside their home country due to a political situation (at least for the time being), their first game, Detention, is widely available and shouldn’t be missed. Set in 1960’s Taiwan in a Martial Law period called White Terror, you’ll play as protagonist and Senior student Fang Ray-Shin, who gets trapped inside her school due to a typhoon. Progressively, reality and the world begin to unravel, revealing a haunting past for the students of the school, and the horrible events happening around the period due to the Martial Law.

    While there is dialogue in Detention, most of the plot and backstory is unraveled through visual metaphors, or what one can gleam from notes found written by other students. Making your way through the hollowed halls of the school that slowly becomes more and more decrepit and bizarre, alluding increasingly to the personal life of Ray, you’ll venture through dark corridors, solve puzzles and avoid Taiwanese spirits as they try to do you harm. For the most part, you’ll spend the majority of your time focusing on the puzzles and directing yourself to where they’ll apply to your forward progression, making a mental map of locked doors and rooms that require your personal input before progress can be made. In these puzzles, you’ll find notes written by students and staff, exploring the sides of people who are trying to read forbidden books, or what forbidden relationships the staff at the school may have, but also showing the dark side of what can happen to those people when the country is under Martial Law. And those political horrors seep deeper than the fear we gleam from the monsters that roam the halls.

    Personally, I wish that these creatures that you avoid were more plentiful. They can be found more in the game’s first two acts, and hardly at all in the third, making it feel like new ones aren’t introduced as plentifully as they could be. While they’re presented meaningfully in the beginning, and you’re taught to avoid them in interesting ways through children’s storybook cutouts with great illustrations, they don’t really evolve from there, making them feel more like an afterthought by the end. Avoiding them (because Ray never acquires any sort of weapon) is still a tense experience, and is always engaging, as they’ll often block your path when you least want them around. You’re taught to hold your breath, present offerings, or to avoid looking directly at them so as to not disturb them. Their sound design is top notch as well, with creaking breaths and deep pulsating drums filling the environment with their haunting presence. Still, their utilization, or more so their lack thereof by the conclusion brings further attention to the events you’re immediately privy to; the abstract psychological horror of the puzzles and of the creeping dread as the story unfurls.

    Detention isn’t a long game. It doesn’t have a large budget written all over it. Characters feel like comic book cutouts, and while art is often beautifully abstract and harrowing, there is a sense that Red Candle is definitely not the largest studio around. Assets have a bit of a cheapness to them, and on PS4, moving left and right (because the game is a side-scrolling adventure) constantly caused screen tearing, and sometimes a rare amount of frame rate buckles. With the tribulations of financial difficulties though comes a unique triumph of heart. Detention feels personal, and it’s incredibly rare to feel as connected to a time and place that you’ve never experienced. I don’t just wish that more games explored periods of history and culture in ways such as this, I wish that horror prevailed in other games of today as much as Detention does. Detention is the best Silent Hill game that’s come out in over a decade, and if we’re lucky, we’ll someday be able to play the team’s other work. Gripes aside, if you’re a fan of horror and have become ambivalent to the genre as much as I have over the last few years because of its overreliance on jump scares, you owe it to yourself to play the creeping, slow-moving, and surprisingly unnerving experience that is Detention.


  • Dark Souls Remastered

    It took me a bit to get used to the 60fps. It's nice for the low input lag and solid performance but it never felt quite right. And when it comes to remasters is a money grab pure and simple, it's worth because From Soft sucks so much technically that they need a current gen system to make it perform well, while making absolutely nothing to the game aside from bumping the resolution up.

    Still the same game with the same wonderful level and sound design. Second time playing it and still discovering new stuff. It is a great game but this remaster is shameful.