The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021)

  • Question for @Oscillator regarding Majora's Mask:

    You mention in your response to ffff0 that your enjoyment of the game increased a lot with the use of a guide. Do you think the game is a worse experience if you play it blind?

    Question for @Sentinel-Beach regarding Sands of Time:

    How's the difficulty? I know the whole gimmick of the series is that you can rewind time, but does this make the combat and traversal too easy? Are the stakes still there?

  • @capnbobamous Vice City's humor is what give it it's zest as GTA game. All the parodying and immature jokes might seem like it could crack the 80s flavour of Vice City but I think it coincides wonderfully with it. Just take the band Love Fist-a five-piece Scottish metal band where each of the five members' names are slang for the word "penis". Yes it's very immature and on-the-nose, but the flare presented by the band and the lunacy that ensues when you do missions for them are perfect for a GTA game. I think what makes GTA is the immaturity and stupidity, without it there's not so much of a direct contrast to the real world and therefore not so much parody. The directness is what can make the humor in GTA so enjoyable I find, yes it's very often crude but GTA revels in that and I love that Vice City is the first GTA game to truly capture it.

  • Respond to @capnbobamous question about investment to the narrative in Apex Legends.

    I think there’s more than enough narrative in Apex Legends, but since game never pushes it into your face, the level of investment will be different depending on whether you are interested in this stuff. For me personally, this level is pretty high, and it only grew over time. When I’ve started playing Apex Legends, heroes were just appearances and sets of abilities. Then I’ve noticed that each character not just have multiple unique voice lines for each action, but also several versions of each voice line (variations in intonation, an extra word, a pause – stuff like that). This sold me an idea that these characters aren’t just player’s obedient avatars – they are real people that react differently, depending on what’s going on around them. Then, as I was playing more and saw more character interactions, I’ve started to discover different layers of their personalities, histories, and relationships. Eventually my investment became so deep, that I’ve took effort to read entire Apex Legends wiki to learn about earlier seasons’ events that I’ve missed.

    So, to answer your question, yes, narrative is an important part of my enjoyment of this game, and I do care what happen next with my favorite characters. For example, a couple of seasons ago Revenant secretly swore to annihilate anyone whom Loba may eventually love with all her heart. So, when I saw that in current season Loba’s relationships with Valkyrie evolved from mutual interest to publicly expressed affection, my immediate reaction was “Oh no, keep it quiet girls! This will end poorly for both of you!”

  • @capnbobamous Regarding FF VII and oversaturation:

    Honestly, my answer is likely biased because it's my favorite game of all time, but I personally don't think so. Primarily, VII has three stretches of time in which it's in the major zeitgeist: The explosion of its initial release, the 10 year anniversary with the compilation of FF VII, and now. As you reference with the movies and a couple of spin-off games, while they do exist, they are 14 years old, and they aren't necessary to watch/play respectively to enjoy VII as it is. In the current day, with the Remake project, it has (so far) handled referencing Compilation events well without being too overt or in your face EXCEPT for the final segment of the main game and like, half of the Yuffie DLC. And since the Remake project will be years between installments (this IS Square-Enix we're talking about here), there should be enough time in-between for it to not matter. Sure, there's the Battle Royale First Soldier, but I haven't heard anything about it since the Beta and it doesn't look like it'll stick around long enough to matter, and there's Ever Crisis, which if I'm understanding it correctly, will be a chapter based "highlight reel" of many of the major story moments across the entire VII timeline, which looks to serve as a compliment to the main Remake.

    And ALL of that being said, I don't think it impacts the actual game in itself, but I do enjoy going in depth about that world. VII is a strong enough game to stand and be enjoyed on its own and while there's a lot of material and games surrounding that universe, the same could be said for many other properties, both in and out of games like Marvel, Star Wars, Call of Duty, Pokemon, etc.

  • @capnbobamous said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    Question for @Oscillator regarding Majora's Mask:

    You mention in your response to ffff0 that your enjoyment of the game increased a lot with the use of a guide. Do you think the game is a worse experience if you play it blind?

    Yes. It would still be a great experience because of the world and characters, but there are several parts of the game that are confusing and/or stressful. I know some people have quit pretty much right out of the gate because they couldn't figure out how to complete the first mission - parts of it are kind of vague. Once you get past it though, the main quest feels just like Ocarina of Time, just with the time loop mechanic. Confusing stuff doesn't really appear again until the back half of the game.

    What would definitely cause the most stress without a guide is not finding the hidden song to slow time down. In particular, the apex of the ranch quest I mentioned in my previous post can be failed with the slightest mistake at regular speed. Kyle said he quit the game at that part. :P There are also a pair of indoor Skulltula hunts that are pretty frustrating at any speed, the latter of which gives you different rewards depending on which day you complete it. >_< Finally, there is a mini dungeon right at the end of the game that is extremely difficult even WITH a guide. I think it took me something like 200 attempts. It's untimed, at least. Everything in this paragraph is optional though, so non-completionists will have a better time.

  • @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    Question to @Sentinel-Beach about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

    In gameplay video that you’ve presented, camera was seamless during traversal, but there were a lot of perspective shifts during combat. Having two different camera behaviors seem odd on its own, but it’s especially strange when the more “chaotic” version is allocated to fighting enemies. This was a very simple environment, yet I was disoriented and confused to the point that I initially thought that some portion of gameplay was cut for the interest of time.

    How camera feels when you play the game? Is it more, or less a hurdle than when you watch someone else playing it?

    You are correct that there are basically two camera systems in the game. You control the camera most of the time with the right stick like in most games, but there are also fixed angles that are usually tied to some traversal parts. In that regard this clip from the Prison was not the best it could have been. Plus, I think that because that's such a tight interior the camera struggles a bit during that fight and ends up "jumping" from time to time, trying to find the best angle. And also because the player is turning it at the same time.

    My video quota is full, otherwise I would've linked another clip from more open areas. But to answer your question, the camera doesn't feel like a hurdle when playing the game. Most of the time. :) Yes, sometimes in areas like the Prison, or when a fixed angle suddenly pops up guiding you through a traversal section. That can be a little disorientating for a second.

  • @jdincinerator said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    @sentinel-beach How do you feel Prince of Persia has inspired other games in its genre and do you hold it up as a trailblazer of sorts?

    This is a tough question to answer. The game came out in 2003 so there'd been games that had done lot of the things Sands of Time presents - even the rewind mechanic (Blinx etc.) - but it's the flawless combination of all of those that made me fall in love with the game.

    What I do think the game has that's pretty seldom used is the feeling of one continuous journey/path/escape, whatever you call it. The time frame is kept tight and everything happens one scene after the other. There aren't any cutscenes that place the Prince and Farah suddenly days ahead or miles away. That helps a lot to make the game feel really personal. You're helping the pair run through the palace, trying to undo the awful events that are constantly all around you. I think this is one aspect that some later games have used afterwards. Or at least they should! It's awesome.

  • @dipset said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    Question to @Sentinel-Beach about Sands of Time

    It's been a long time since I played this title, but I do remember thinking it's a classic. However, if my memory serves me correctly, I think I found almost everything to be improved upon in it's sequels (mainly the combat). Can you elaborate on why you think Sands of Time is better than the other games in this trilogy?

    Oh man. You went there. :) I've also played the whole trilogy multiple times and like it a lot, but they're all three so different games! You're right that specifically the combat was much improved and made way more diverse in Warrior Within, but that game's just soooo dark! In many ways, both thematically and literally. So much brown and black. It's a cool story and scenario with the Dahaka and all, but I much prefer the fairytale-like nature of Sands of Time. Easier for my mind, eyes and senses.

    The Two Thrones then again is like a hybrid of the first two games. It plays well, but it somehow lacks the soul or that certain feel of both the previous games. Whether it's the Arabian Nights or grimdark.

  • @brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    For @Sentinel-Beach regarding Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
    1.) From the clip you provided, a lot of the traversal shown was pretty repetitive: Wall run over a switch, land on the activated platform, and move on before the timer runs out. Can you speak to the level design for the game as a whole and is what was shown indicative of the entire game, or are there other platforming mechanics like swimming, climbing, shimmying, rope traversal, etc.?

    2.) The combat seems simple: Attack an enemy enough until you can use your dagger finisher: Are there other combos, abilities, skills, etc. you can implement while fighting, or is it just the mindless dance of out brute-force your opponent until the battle is over?

    1. So no, the Prison level does not show the nature of the entire game. That descent is really repetitive, no doubt about it. Usually, however, the Prince is going upwards or through some huge areas in a very elaborate way. Both outdoors and indoors. There's no swimming, but a lot of climbing, wall-running, swinging on poles, jumping, ducking from blades etc. The whole is basically full of environmental puzzles one after another, some smaller, some way bigger. There's even "laser puzzles" in the Library with light and mirrors. And you get to ascend the palace towers on the outside at a few points which are really memorable to play through. Hundreds of feet in the air, swinging and jumping there.

    2. The combat is perhaps the weakest link here, but it still feels very good. There's a certain umpf to your sword hits and you just don't grow tired to sucking the sands away into the Dagger. The combat is a lot somersaults and backflips, being on your guard, too. You can springboard from a wall with your sword first into the enemies in a devastating fashion. You also get the ability to basically turn an enemy into a vulnerable state in which they slowdown and turn "half-sand", waiting for your decisive strike. One super ability allows you to freeze all the enemies into that state and then you zap around super fast slicing them in half in one strike. That drains up all your power storage. And also, there are a couple of new swords you get through the game. The final one is really OP and basically let's you slice the enemies up with just the normal swings.

  • @shoulderguy said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    Question for @Sentinel-Beach : Tell me about the Shotgun?

    No shotgun for the Prince. :/
    Did they ever do a game for The Mummy. I could see Brendan Fraser blasting mummies and sand creatures in an environment like this.

  • @capnbobamous said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    Question for @Sentinel-Beach regarding Sands of Time:

    How's the difficulty? I know the whole gimmick of the series is that you can rewind time, but does this make the combat and traversal too easy? Are the stakes still there?

    That's a good question. You can't rewind the time endlessly, because you have these "sand slots" in the Dagger that allow for a few rewinds. The longer you hold down the button the further away in time the game let's you go. In some dire situations you only have sand left for literally a second, but that can still safe you from that lethat enemy strike that just killed you. You just have to be really quick right after the rewind this time around!

    But all in all the game isn't too hard, no. The most difficult sections are usually some of the biggest enemy encounters when the game just keeps teleporting more and more of those SOBs and you need to be careful the whole time or you'll easily end up having to start the whole encounter all over again. The traversal's much more easier in that regard. A few missed jumps are allowed because of the Dagger, but usually you just need to keep your eyes open and concentrate taking on every jump and obstacle one at a time. Satisfying moments to clear many of the longer trials/pathways.

  • @sentinel-beach

    I appreciate that answer. If I recall, I also liked the tone of Sands of Time above the sequels.

    One more question (I think we're allowed to ask two questions, right?).

    I have Sands of Time on GC. I haven't played it in years. Do you think the combat holds up in general and is generally enjoyable by today's standards?

  • @dipset said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (September 2021):

    I have Sands of Time on GC. I haven't played it in years. Do you think the combat holds up in general and is generally enjoyable by today's standards?

    I'd say that it's still solid. There are many games with worse combat system and many with better, but in Sands of Time it suits the tone and story of the game. The Prince can get overwhelmed by the enemies but he also has a fighting chance with his acrobatics and sword skills. I do have to admit that I haven't played the game in years, either, but with around dozen playthroughs behind me I want to believe that my memory still serves.

  • @DIPSET I'm a BIG fan of the original THPS trilogy. I enjoyed THUG, but had no desire to replay it. I thought the characters were all right, the soundtrack was all right, and the mechanics were all right. But I thought the level design was where it fell flat. The way I see it, is that starting with THPS 4, the series' level design switched from tight and flowing to big and ungainly.

    I have two questions stemming from this:

    1. Do you think the larger levels of those later titles, THUG included, hold up against or exceed the smaller levels of old, and if so, why?

    2. For a less apples-and-oranges comparison, there is Project 8, which I enjoyed the most out of all the later titles. Coming a few entries after THUG, it has generally the same objective system and mechanics, but uses a hybrid of the early and later level design style by stitching together many smaller, tighter areas to make one large open world. How do you think the level design philosophy of 4, THUG, et al compares against Project 8's?

  • @oscillator

    1. Hmm to be honest, I’ve never heard the take that the post THPS4 levels became unwieldy.

    I think most seasoned Tony Hawk fans agree that THUG has some of the best if not the best level design in the entire series. I can safely say Moscow is my favourite level in the whole series, but I’ll put Manhattan, New Jersey, and Hawaii up there in my ranks before I go to any levels from earlier entires. And I think that fantastic level design extended into to THUG2 before taking a dip in quality.

    Not appeal to authority, but I’ll just throw it in there that YouTuber Squared Eyed Jak does a lot of Tony Hawk coverage and he ranked every single 200+ Tony Hawk level across all games from worst to best and THUG’s Manhattan was his #1 with 3 THUG levels appearing in his top 10.


    I think it’s because they aren’t just aimlessly big but are the most well thought out in the series. A level like New Jersey can take you from the ground near the abandoned houses up onto the roofs then onto power lines, then back down into the school yard fences and playground structures, then onto the massive bridge, into a long and fast hospital loop, into a train yard, back to the hospital, back across the bridge and the loop continues.

    And it’s not just the overall lines but it’s the amount of detail within the lines and the level. There are so many quality individual spots within any given level that it’s almost a game in itself to make choices on how to combo between all of them. It’s interesting, allows for a personal sense of play and exploration, and just way deeper than any other THPS game.

    THUG levels by far have the best combo lines in the whole series. Some of the earlier games have cool levels but they don’t compliment the fundamentals of the game like THUG’s spots and lines levels do.

    A lot of the fundamentals of THUG’s design and early THPS design appears in sequels and especially in THP8 which combines a lot of the games together. I actually really like THP8’s goal structure for stuff like Bronze, Silver, Gold medals for things like “longest grind” because those types of goals encourage you to extract the most out of the level itself. But ultimately, THP8 suffers really really badly from having boring and empty levels. We’re talking wide open spaces with nothing to interact with. Compare that to Manhattan where you have so many options for objects to skate on, THP8 feels like an empty open world. So the game relies too heavily on the goals to have fun. Whereas THUG is fun to be in by virtue of the level design, the stat challenges, and spread of goal variety.

    THPS4 also shares some of THUGs design but it was still figuring out the identity of this type of game. Some of the levels like Zoo had such little flow between spots that it was almost difficult to make fun goals. The goals were rigid like doing multiple trick call outs on the same half pipe. But it definitely has its shining moments like the post-game extremely difficult score challenges and such. I think THPS4 started the job, THUG finished it.

    THUG2 has the same good qualities of level design as THUG but I don’t think it has as many great levels or goals.

    THAW has some amazing levels and others that are big and aimless. Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Downtown basically feel like the same level because they are just city streets with a few interwoven ramps.

    So all this comparing is to just make the overall point that THUG’s level design isn’t good because it’s bigger. It’s good because it’s by far more thought out than the other games in the series, and especially the games starting at and after THPS4.

  • Just wanted to say that everyone brought great arguments during cross-examination. At least for me they were invaluable for determining which games I'll be voting for.

  • Alright folks, it is time to DM me your votes. As a reminder, here are the rules:

    1. Only those who brought a game can vote
    2. You must choose your top 3 picks, with your first place game getting three points, second place getting two, and third place getting one.
    3. You may not vote for your own game.
    4. If a game gets no votes, it will be banned for a year.

    I will start to reveal the winners after I receive all the votes. For the sake of transparency I think it important to mention that I have already voted in order to avoid having your votes influence me. It wasn't easy! I also want to thank you all for participating. I think it was really fun and it wouldn't have been possible without you.

    Anyway, here is the updated list of all the submissions and cross-examination questions:

    Apex Legends

    Final Fantasy VII

    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

    Tony Hawk's Underground

    The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Katamari Damacy

    If I made a mistake let me know. The list in original topic post has been updated as well. I encourage you all to look through everything again before you make your picks.

  • Votes sent. Excited to find out what will be our first Greats!

  • Yeah we can have a little postmortem once the voting is done, but I think the presentations and cross exam went pretty well.

    Good luck!

  • My votes are in.

    I didn't present any questions, but the thread was already pretty full of text and opinions and the games aren't too unfamiliar for me, so I thought everything was already cool.