Ys I Chronicles Plus

20170702104501_1

I never played Ys when it was first released on the Master System in 1987. Hell, I didn’t hear about it until it was re-released on Steam as Ys I & II Chronicles Plus. I pretty much instantly threw it on my wishlist (surprising because I’m not the biggest JRPG fan) but didn’t actually pick it up until a friend tried it out. He wove an  interesting tale about a unique combat mechanic, a system whereby you just walk into things and automatically trade attacks. You can, however, go at an angle or slightly off center and not take damage and that’s where the skill and timing come in. It was an interesting enough premise that I picked it up on the next Steam sale and promptly threw it into my backlog never to be seen again.

Then the #backlog_slog challenge came along. I started going through my Steam backlog from #-Z and didn’t even get to A before I reversed the sort order for no apparent reason and found Ys I Chronicles Plus staring me in the face. Alright, I said, let’s give this little RPG a go and see how it treats us. Yes, I talk about myself in the third person, but only to myself so it’s not weird or anything.

In 1987 the beginning of Ys may have been more unique, I really can’t say. Now days it’s one of the most cliche Japanese RPG openings around. You awaken in a bed with a motherly figure looking over you. That bed is located in a small, peaceful village that happens to be surrounded by horrible nightmare monsters and guess whose going to solve that?

20170702093847_1

this guy, that’s who.

That said, I actually felt lost and frustrated in Ys at first. I went all over that starting town and talked to everyone I could find. I never found any armor or weapons or anyone asking me to leave the village. Finally I decided to brave the wild wilderness with nothing but my pants and my fists. My first attempt was to kill everything on the way and see if I got any loot but that just led to many retreats back to the village to lick my wounds. So of course I just ran past the enemies and finally made my way to the first major city to buy myself a sword. Finally, the slaughter I left in my wake would be filled with less of my blood and giblets.

Once I got into the swing of things though I really enjoyed the game. With the barest hint of a story that also means you aren’t stuck talking to hundreds of NPCs, Ys is a hack and slash action RPG at its finest. It doesn’t have the longevity that Diablo’s random equipment drops gives, but Ys doesn’t demand the same amount of dedication. I played through the entire game in 6 hours and I enjoyed almost every moment of it.

If I had one complaint though it would be that the final area, the Darm Tower, felt like a total slog. At first I wasn’t aware that each level had exactly two doors and that one went down and one went up. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to figure that out actually. The tower also had two different teleporting mazes that really drug on, and when I finally got to the top I had to go back down several floors to talk to an NPC who could only help me after I had gotten past him and done something else.

20170702174710_1

This guy is the worst. That’s a Dark Fact.

OK, so there is another complaint I have with the game. The final boss is entirely bullshit. He flies around the map shooting fireballs at you and those fireballs then stop where you were and explode into a bunch of tiny fireballs. On top of this, every time you hit the boss the floor underneath him disappears and you lose even more maneuverability. Ideally I’d like to consider my options and figure out when and where I should hit the boss so that I have enough floor to stand on up until the end, but if you try that you’ll die to the fireballs. You have to hit the boss pretty much anytime you can, and after fifteen tries I finally won. It felt random and like it had nothing to do with anything I’d learned throughout the game. Yay. Oh and his name is Dark Fact, so clearly they put a lot of thought into that…

 

3089 – The Futuristic Action RPG

javaw 2017-07-01 09-06-58-66.png

What even the hell? I have no idea when I bought 3089 but it must have been one of those $1 Steam sale games. I’m honestly surprised I picked it up at all since the graphics don’t really call to me and there isn’t anything in the Steam videos that would make it a must buy title. I played it for about an hour and then turned it off and went to breakfast with my wife.

Then I came back and I was looking at my Steam games list and feeling frustrated that the game just seemed so bad while the reviews were generally positive. So I did what I always do in cases like this, I hopped onto YouTube and found a couple video reviews and gameplay channels that covered 3089. What did I learn? The game has a lot to do but nothing is particularly deep. Still, these videos gave me an idea of how I should proceed so I decided to give 3089 one more hour in honor of the #backlog_slog challenge.

javaw 2017-07-01 13-29-04-13.png

Six hours later I had beaten the game and was planning my next play-through. So what happened? Honestly I’m still not sure. The general flow of the game is that you go to quest terminals, pick up a single quest that you then do and get another quest. You do this until you get enough credits to upgrade your gear and enough skill points to improve your character to go a bit farther out and do it over again.

The quests are very simplistic. Literally “Go Kill Suzy. Once Suzy is dead go talk to Bob.” There are several types of quests, from kill quests to escort quests to spying (just looking at enemies walking in a circle) on an enemy, disarming a bomb, etc. There isn’t any flavor text for any of this though so it feels very underwhelming and “procedurally generated” which, like the rest of the world, it is.

The combat isn’t much better at first with the accuracy being extremely poor while the enemies have near pinpoint accuracy. Eventually though I learned to play the way the game wanted me to and the combat really started to click. That’s, I think, where my opinion of the game really turned around and I started having fun. The time rip ability really turned the combat into something that I looked forward to doing, and the better weapons and higher skill points helped too.

Another thing that helped my enjoyment are a few of the items. I’m not talking about the weapons and armor but the hoverboard, grappling hook and teleport gun. The hoverboard will zoom you around the map if you aren’t carrying too much. The amount of weight it can hold depends on it’s level. That goes double for the grappling hook which is a really cool way to move vertically up mountains or buildings. The teleport gun shoots a ball and when you right click you teleport to it which is super helpful for getting away from enemies or getting up a tower without fighting and losing health.

I played through generally putting all of my points into being a soldier. High guns, high health, high agility. My next play-through I’m either going to go as more of a pet class (high prestige lets you recruit more robots to follow you) or a pilot (pilot skill lets you fly and the higher it is I assume you do more damage or the game spawns better ships. Not sure yet). Or maybe I’ll go Rogue (high stealth and melee skill).

The game isn’t great, I’d say for most people to just pass on it. That said, if you watch the videos and you enjoy a sandbox game then give it a shot because for the cost it really was a lot of fun. I will say that the game ended very abruptly and I wish they had done just a bit more. Or let you continue playing after the ‘story’ ended.


If you are interested in some good YouTube videos of the game check out the below:

 

1917 – The Alien Invasion DX

20170629193659_1

The first game I played for Backlog Slog was 1917 – The Alien Invasion DX. I honestly had no idea what I was getting into here as I didn’t even remember buying it or that it was a Shoot-em-up. I did have some issues with getting my controller to work properly but it turned out to have nothing to do with the game and everything to do with my controller calibration.

I had a lot of fun with this game. I like Shmups, though I’ve never really been good at them. This one moves slowly enough that I was able to get through the entire thing, though it was a challenge. My main complaints were with sound design. The music is OK but it doesn’t really fit with what’s happening on screen. You’ll be fighting a boss and there’s soft elven wilderness music playing for some reason. Also your bullets don’t make any sound when they impact enemies unless the enemy dies. It makes fights feel less epic than they should be.

20170629200147_1

Once I beat the game I actually started again with the new smaller ship Sturmdecker. It had better firepower and speed but no shields which made the game much more difficult. I got to about level four with that ship and then turned it off for now. I’ll be back though as this is now one of those games I’ll pickup and play occasionally when the mood strikes.

Have you played 1917? Did you like it? Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

 


If you want to watch some good videos about this game on YouTube then check out the below:

Backlog Slog Challenge

Image showing steam account value and average play time

My Steam backlog has gotten out of hand, partially thanks to all of the great Steam sales over the years. I think we’re all familiar with the problem by now, you see an old game you’ve heard great things about on sale for $0.49 or $2 for the entire four game series and think “Yeah, it’d be stupid not to buy right now”. Well, I’ve been doing that since around 2008 and I’ve racked up an insane backlog. I’ve used steamdb.info’s calculator for most of this information and it’s a great way to feel really bad about your life decisions.

Lookin at my account I’ve got a total value of $3,433 but that doesn’t really matter much to me. What matters is that I’ve got 736 games owned and 408 games I’ve not played even once. That’s unacceptable so this series of posts is going to be about me slowly working through my entire Steam library. The rules are simple, I don’t have to beat a game I just have to play it for at least an hour. That is enough time for me to determine if it’s something I want to continue playing or if it’s something I never want to touch again. If I like it, I’ll aim to finish it.

That’s it. Well, that and the fact that I’m going to use the category/tag ‘backlog_slog’ with all related posts. So if you want to follow along on my adventures then just use that tag and away we go. What’s your backlog looking like? Feeling guilty about it yet? Let me know in the comments down below.

Let’s Play Death Rally

Let’s Play Death Rally

Well, this is the first video I’ve done for a long while now. I’ve been working with Twinstiq.com but I haven’t done anything with them for about a year now due to some major life changes. I’m actually unsure if I’m going to be able to make many of these videos over the next few months, but I’ve been really itching to get back into making content again!

Anyway, enjoy this Let’s Play of Death Rally, the newer one from Remedy Entertainment Ltd.

Continue reading “Let’s Play Death Rally”

STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM ME!

STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM ME!

I’ve been playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing on Steam lately and for the most part it’s an enjoyable game, though that might depend on what you like from your action RPGs. If you’re like me and you beat Diablo, cracked your knuckles and said “Job well done Mr. Fancy Pants, I’ll probably play through that game again sometime down the road” then you’ll probably get some great fun out of Van Helsing. If you’re one of those people who feel that beating the story is a minor point, and grinding for thousands of hours to get the best gear and highest paragon level, well the game has gotten better in that regard but it still lags behind the competition.

But none of that is really what I want to talk about today because today I have a complaint. In these types of games I like to feel like a badass that can leap into combat and slaughter dozens of creatures in seconds! That happens a lot of the time in Van Helsing, true, but sometimes the game just throws dozens of enemies at you, many with elemental ranged attacks, that completely overwhelm you. I’ve died just a second after an encounter has started many times while playing and while that could just be me sucking at the game, it doesn’t really bother me too much. What DOES bother me though are cowardly ranged enemies!

Continue reading “STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM ME!”

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Thoughts

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Thoughts

I’m currently playing through Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the PC and working on my review, but I thought I’d give just a couple of thoughts here. First of all the web swinging is a lot of fun. It’s much improved since the Amazing Spider-Man 1, and now you actually need something for the webs to latch onto, and you can control which web shooter to fire a web from and which direction, left or right, to fire that web. This leads to a lot more control when swinging around New York City. Not as much as Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, but in some ways I find it more fun, especially with the use of Web Rush. That said, there are some serious problems with the game.

First of all I think we can all agree that the most enjoyable part of most Spider-Man games is web swinging around New York City. Hell, I know I’m not the only one that’s loaded up Spider-Man 2 for the PS2 and just swung around for a while helping random citizens. Sadly it seems like developers are actively out to prevent that fun. What do I mean? In nearly every Spider-Man game with an open world to swing around in there are “Stages” of some plot or outbreak or whatever that slowly make it more and more tedious to swing around. In Amazing Spider-Man 2 there is a task force that is out to get criminals, and that includes Spider-Man. At first it’s fine, you keep up on your side missions to keep your hero/menace meter up and you can swing around to your hearts content, for the most part. Then you hit the second, and finally the third stage. Each stage adds more gun toting idiots and flying robots to New York, and the final stage adds barriers to block off streets when you are swinging down them. Spider-Slayer like machines are called in, there are flying machine guns, turrets, snipers, it just becomes a chore to swing around. This means that one of the most unique and fun aspects of the game is actively being hamstrung by the developers. Who chooses to do that?

The second major problem, and this feeds into the first problem, is the way they have handled the side missions and the hero/menace system. In theory it sounds great, just like in the comics J. Jonah Jameson is always trying to frame Spider-Man as a criminal, so Spidey swing between being a hero when he’s just done something good for the city, to being a menace when it’s been a while or something looks fishy. I like it. Sadly the way they have handled it is by timing all of the side missions. From the time a mission pops up you have so long to complete that mission, or it will auto fail and you will go more toward the menace side. Unless you do NOTHING but side mission after side mission you cannot help but let some fail. After a while they start showing up more, which means more are failing. And since there are only really four side missions, and each one has one to three different versions, you’re going to get bored very quickly and start skipping them whenever you can. What I ended up doing by the end is waiting until my meter was at neutral, then doing two missions to get it back up before ignoring it until it got to neutral again.

So the missions get repetitive, so what? Just swing down, beat up a few bad guys and swing out right? No. Because they decided to make every single side mission begin with a cutscene and end with a cutscene. This means you swing down, stop doing anything and wait, beat up two bad guys breaking into a building, wait, then you are free to continue what you were doing. It completely breaks the flow of the game and after you’ve seen the same opening and closing scene dozens of times you may loathe the idea of even doing another one.

I will be giving my full thoughts and a review of the game in a video in the coming week, but I thought I’d share these thoughts with anyone thinking about picking up the game. There is a lot to like here, and there are a lot of improvements over the first game. Sadly, there are a lot of steps back as well and not everyone is going to have the patience to put up with them.