98 Reviews liked by Dragonhyde
This review contains spoilers
Took me over a year of on and off playing to finally beat this fucker. I truly cannot stand this game but also I appreciate it. It is the weirdest game because I truly felt no emotional attachment or connection with the game until like the final hour. That final stretch is where all the actually cool concepts of the game are allowed a bit more room to breath and have actual meaningful implications. However I think these interesting concepts still just come out half baked.
90% of the reasoning for this is Rex. I don't dislike Rex, I don't mind the voice direction too much (it becomes funny once you give in to it), and his optimism and kindness is actually sometimes maybe kind of endearing. But mannnn I feel like he is not at all given enough development for the kind of significance he is given as the PRIMARY MORAL AGENT of the story. To elaborate, Rex's ultimate victories by the end of the game over Pyra/Mythra, Jin, Malos and the Architect are primarily philosophical, he shows EVERYONE a new way to live. I SIMPLY DO NOT BUY THIS AS THE PLAYER LOL. All the aforementioned characters have lived for hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years. For Pyra/Mythra and Malos I can appreciate that its about meeting the right person and the right time, and the intensity of Rex's optimism compensates for the relatively short blip he represents on their lifetime, sure. However, Rex's ideals are not developed in the slightest, nor is Rex really himself. Why is Rex such a great person? Because he just is (and his home village was sweet). Why does he have such an immense faith in humanity? Because he meets nice people and just sort of does. To clarify, these are not issues in isolation. I actually quite love how Rex's base optimism inspires Pyra/Mythra to reconsider their views on their self worth. However when the endgame (which is the only part of the story that truly engaged me to think) revolves around Rex's (NOT THE PARTIES) answer to the grand question of the future of mankind I truly just to not buy it. His thoughts and ideology aren't honed through opposition and introspective reconsideration, they just always exist, and he faces no marked, longing crisis that could warrant some reflection and development of these thoughts. This especially feels notable to me when Rex has philosophical exchanges with the antagonists. I really never feel like Rex actually wins any of these verbal bouts, pretty much every time the villains just sort of fold like lawn chairs to the general sentiment of Rex's consistent abrasive optimism. Which again is fine? But I wish the game would maybe steer away from Rex's fucking views on the worthiness of mankind and instead just keep in inline as someone who believes in the redemption of the villains or something.
I emphasise the focus on Rex's views here because the parties are essentially irrelevant, the game doesnt really care what Morag, Zeke, Nia and Tora think by the end, its Rex's answer that matters and quite frankly I find that answer completely lacking. Also I think the party dynamic was weak. The optional blades are also horribly implemented (you only get to experience the beginning of their stories after spending like 2 hours with them at minimum????), but 80% of their designs blow ass so you never even want to consider using them.
Also the scene direction and pacing in this game is fucking atrocious. Most scenes have like no clear directorial intent except to seemingly drag the scene on for as long as possible and to make dialogue feel awkward. I cannot believe that some of the endgame cutscene sequences actually made the final cut it is unreal how sloppy some of them are. When you realise just how much time you waste in this game just through sloppy cutscene direction alone you will STRUGGLE to beat this motherfucker, not even to mention all the terrible filler(ish) plotlines that made the cut (I want tora to be left crucified in the depths of the Mariana trench). What's even more horrible is that some scenes are actually directed amazingly, and have the peak story moments to accompany them, which somehow just makes it more annoying overall? If you're gonna be shit at least let me whip my phone out whenever I see a cutscene starting ffs (only half joking here.)
Also it is truly comical how bad the tutorials in this game are. This it's actually a miracle of technology this could be invented.
Still the fact that the endgame even warranted me to think about these things (and actually emotionally compelled me with Amalthus/Jin/Malos) is worth credit in my eyes regardless.
Also I hated the combat and world design. Field skills can eat my ass, sidequests are unbelievably roadblock filled and convoluted, and enemy placement was designed by expert CIA torturers gone game devs.
I gave it 2.5 stars and im clueless as to why but I think the sheer abrasion of the game got to me eventually. Maybe its just Stockholm Syndrome.
Mega Man Zero 3
This is my entry to the Zero series, and from both the style of gameplay and the praise this has gotten it felt like something I should like. Unfortunately it started out mediocre and only went downhill from there. I'll mostly focus on the gameplay here and why I think that doesn't work, but I'll briefly mention some other aspects of the game. The story is fucking abysmal, and I get that jumping in at the third game I'm going to miss some stuff, but I felt like it really wasn't much of that causing me to dislike it but just amateur edgelord writing and flat trope-like characters. The visuals are pretty solid, though marred somewhat by the extremely zoomed in camera. I get that it's a GBA game, but it still felt like a bit too much. The music is alright at times, but some tracks are pretty grating, and I've heard much better from GBA games.
The main gameplay loop is classic Mega Man, except the stages are for the most part much easier, and the boss fights are meant to be harder and more intricate. This along with expanded movement and a bigger focus on melee weapons seems like something I'd enjoy a lot, but I ended up hating the combat by the end of the game. Early on a big problem is that your weapons aren't very effective without charging them, particularly vs bosses when you really want the knockback/stun from fully charged attacks. This leads to the optimal strategy being to hold down both of your attack buttons all the time while also moving, jumping, and dashing. Even on controllers much more comfortable than the original GBA, this is very rough on the hands. You can get a power up a bit into the game that automatically charges your weapons, but this is easy to miss and even when you have it it takes up an upgrade spot that could otherwise be used for other abilities for what feels like an essential feature.
Kind of similar to other Mega Man titles, the difficulty curve is also very strange. It starts out very difficult, then gets easier as you go except for some absurdly large spikes in difficulty at the mid point and end of the game. I should also note here that I played with the optional checkpoints in the newer release, without which this just seems insanely tedious to complete. Even with them, the time it takes after dying before you get back into a boss fight is needlessly long and adds a lot to the frustration of the more difficult parts of the game. The bosses aim to be more difficult through more complex movement and patterns, which sometimes works but often doesn't. I get that people have mastered these games and done no damage runs, but it still feels very unfair for a first playthrough when a boss's movement is unpredictable and unreactable and you get cornered in a very small arena. I feel like better air movement would help a lot with this, but your dash is limited to use on the ground. You can get some more distance by dashing then doing a wall jump, but that's awkward and can take too long to dodge some things mid-boss fight. You also do get a double jump pretty late in the game, which helps a lot, but like I said it's pretty late. With how little health you have, and how different the boss patterns can be from attempt to attempt, I felt like many of my victories weren't satisfying but felt like I just finally got lucky with an easy pattern. I'm no stranger to difficult boss-rush type games, but this still felt like a very un-fun kind of difficulty.
Once you get past the first handful of bosses, the game mostly gets much easier. You start to breeze through the stages with your upgraded abilities, but you'll notice that many of the enemies are reused and once you have all the elements unlocked and find a boss's weakness the normal ones are kind of a pushover. The only time the normal parts of the stage are challenging at all aren't very fun either, they're either easy to run through in a single attempt or they're in the handful littered with one hit kill spikes and crushing moving blocks. The spikes are especially egregious with the overly-zoomed-in camera I mentioned before. The biggest spike in difficulty though is at the final level. After doing a typical boss rush through repeats of the entire game (ugh), the final boss was easily my least favorite part. There are three phases, the first is fairly easy but the latter two are totally new and are difficult to learn and for each attempt you have to play from the beginning of the fight again, and with no healing between phases. The third phase in particular was pretty awful, with a wider arena that the camera couldn't fit, you take a lot of offscreen damage or get cornered by the boss's quick movement that you can't see the start of. There's also very few opportunities to safely get damage in. All 3 phases of this boss have more health than a typical boss in the game, and it overall was a huge slog that I felt more relieved than accomplished to be done with.
Overall the concept for this game could be cool, but it desperately needs some quality of life changes to the camera and controls, and some rethinking on how the bosses are made difficult. As people somehow hold this up as the pinnacle of the series, I don't have much hope for any of the others and doubt I'll try them.
Maverick Hunter X is.. weird.
At its core MHX is still a decent time because it's still very much X1, but like.. it's a bit worse. There's a lot of neat stuff here such as the really lively animations, the remixes, the additional dialogue between X and the Mavericks, and even a prequel short titled "The Day of Sigma", which I'd recommend watching.
However, MHX also doesn't feel like it improves upon the SNES game very much when it comes to gameplay. For instance, despite being in widescreen, it felt like I got blindsided by enemies way more often because the camera feels so zoomed in compared to the SNES game. You have way less of a vertical view in this game and I feel it fucks with the level design which is fairly untouched from the original; though the Sigma stages are almost completely different from their SNES counterparts, unfortunately for the worse I feel. Another change I don't jive with and really don't understand is the fact that all of the upgrades have been moved to different locations. The dash is now in Flame Mammoth's stage, the body parts are in Storm Eagle's stage, etc. What was wrong with the old locations? And speaking of the armor parts, instead of moving the dash to another location, why don't you just give me the fucking thing like every MMX game after 1 did?
I definitely don't think Maverick Hunter X is as bad of a remake as say, Nightmare in Dream Land, hell in spite of it all I can't even say it's a bad remake period. But it's not a good one, either. Considering it was the intention of Inafune to remake the rest of the sprite-based MMX games if MHX did well (and you can guess how that turned out), I really don't think I could stand worse versions of four games I already don't like.
Playing 30XX is like watching how the sausage is made.
The sausage in question is not this game, and while I don't mean the above statement as a reference to the game being in early access, the fact that it is in early access certainly makes this feeling of sausage-making spectatorship more apparent. The specific element of the further development process that enables this is the fact that like many games playable by the public which are still being worked on, exact technical information about the level is being displayed in the corner of the screen at all times; this is likely so that if a player runs into a technical issue, the developers can see where it happened, making reproducing and fixing the problem easier. A side effect of this is that the seams between chunks of level become as apparent as they would be if the game still used classic Mega Man screen scrolls.
I want to be clear that I don't mean this as a negative criticism of the game, but as high praise. The game controls very well, it looks great, it sounds great. On a technical and artistic level its every bit as good as "the real thing".
I've been playing a lot of Mega Man lately, probably too much. While playing Mega Man 5, I had the thought that Napalm Man's stage felt a lot like Wood Man's stage from Mega Man 2. Sure enough, a few google searches show me that Napalm Man's stage is in fact laid out more or less the same way, though about 25% bigger.
Mega Man's level design is so formulaic that you could literally give a computer a formula that spits new Mega Man levels out. From aesthetic, to terrain layouts, to boss design, weapon types, every new iteration in classic Mega Man is putting only slight variation on the same handful of archetypes. With a handful of additions, which I don't doubt will materialize by the time this game sees a 1.0 release, and perhaps revisions, 30XX would be able to effectively replace any retro throwback Mega Man. Arguably the only reason 20XX didn't already do this was because some people didn't find the art-style appealing.
There's a reason that there hasn't been a new 2D Mario game since Mario Maker came out. Fans have made the reason clear: if Nintendo is going to make a new 2D Mario game, they better make one a helluva lot more exciting than what they've been doing for the past 4 games, because with Mario Maker we can have a near infinite amount of classic style 2D Mario levels.
Between this and fan projects like Mega Man Maker, I'm hoping that the sheer amount of Classic/X style Mega Man content reaches a sort of critical mass whereat a greater need for new explorations in 2D action platformer mechanics manifests. Maybe now that we have so many variations for this gameplay style, the next Mega Man, or spiritual successor, or fan project, or anything else, can be something other than a decades-old template with a fresh coat of paint.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
(5-year-old's review, typed by her dad)
You get to race, race, race. My favorite part is picking characters, changing the kart, the wheels, and the... flying thing? And I love it when I race until I win. And ALSO when I get in first place! I don't like when I get in last place, but I don't get ANGRY!! GRRRRRRR
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 3D Land
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