Together_Comic

Together_Comic's Platinum Panel and Backlog Checklist

57 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, Together_Comic said:

Obviously we are here on a trophy hunting website and so trophy goals are going to be there too.  Currently I am at 57 platinums.  When I decided I wanted to start getting platinum trophies, after Ico and The Witcher 3 I thought 100 sounded like a lofty goal that would be amazing to see. After finding PSN profiles I found that 100 wasn't even the beginning of the iceberg. lol. 

 

Hahaha I remember 5 years ago, before I created my own PSN account, talking to some friends... They mentioned having 100+ games on Steam, and I was like "Damn, that's a lot of games.. how can one person play SO MANY GAMES!". 

 

And now I have 120+ S-ranked games on my profile.. That's how "trophy hunting" changed my gaming habits. In a good way though! I have meanwhile discovered not only many amazing games I would not have played otherwise, but this hobby also encouraged me to try out genres I wasn't interested in before! 

 

 

1 hour ago, Together_Comic said:

The other major component for me is the completion percentage.  I like to see the blue boxes on the profile hit that magical 100% and watch the number at the top slowly tick up.  The goal for this year is to clean up all of the backlog sitting already on the profile and get the the oft sought after 100%.  If only for awhile until we go do that Kill Your Completion stuff so that I can keep coming back for more. 

 

Man, I would love to see 100% on my profile again... I haven't hit that number since 2019, where I started NecroDancer... And it will take quite a bit of effort to get there. I think it is a fine goal, so good luck with that! 

 

 

1 hour ago, Together_Comic said:

Thank you guys for reading and I wanted to just say thank you to all of you that I have interacted with throughout the year.  Yall never cease to add games to my backlog with your awesome reviews ( @realm722, @DrBloodmoney, @Cassylvania, @Copanele)  make me think about the hobby as a whole ( @Arcesius), or just  provide encouragement.  (@Joe Dubz , @GonzoWARgasm)

 

I appreciate it.  Happy New Year.  Lets run it back again next time!

 

Thanks to you, man :) Happy New Year to you too! Keep this checklist up for 2022 as well, always a pleasure following along! 

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@Together_Comic

 

Hey thanks for the shoutout and the free promotion. It is great to see how the community has come to really enjoy the event. I am glad it helps you keep moving up the charts. I will continue to read this in the coming year. 

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UPDATE 28 - OXENFREE

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The Premise:

Oxenfree presents a unique challenge when it comes to review because to tell you basically anything about the game is to spoil what is otherwise a great experience.  Dancing as carefully as possible around such spoilers, Oxenfree reminds me of one of those straight to video "horror" movies aimed at 13 to 14 year olds during the early 90s.  (Shout out to all yall, who are old as me and can remember such things.) But to call it a cheap horror movie would be a pretty big disservice to the game.  At its core, Oxenfree is a game about relationships, the people in them, and using those relationships for growth and it uses the horror movie set up to explore these things.

 

The Good

Once again its hard to talk about what I liked about the game without going into heavy spoilers.  The character work here is fantastic (and basically has to be since that's the whole game).  The music is top notch and does a good job at setting the atmosphere and ultimately giving me the creeps the entire time.  Without going into it, when I figured out what was going on with the...lets call it nonsensical at first advice, (its really hard to come up with something that doesn't spoil but people who have played the game, know what you are talking about.)  The story is also really compelling, though again telling you much is a disservice to the game.  Finally, this game has probably the best dialogue system I've seen in a game.  Though I love a game like Mass Effect, I always would make fun of it when you would choose the "renegade" option and Shepherd would go nuclear instead of doing or saying anything close to what the dialog wheel implied 😂 here, you can respond at any time by selecting one of three answers. The characters will even react to your silence if you don’t answer them, or if you decide to walk away and ignore them. This, combined with great writing and voice acting, makes Oxenfree one of the best virtual recreations of real humans talking to each other.  Which again is good, because it's literally the whole game. 

 

The Bad

I don't really set much stock by what people like to call "Walking Simulators", but if there were ever a game that felt like one this is it.  That is to say there isn't much game here.  It's more like watching an interactive move or playing one of those old adventure games without the puzzles.  As a result, I can imagine that if for whatever reason you aren't very into the story, then you could find the whole affair pretty boring. During subsequent playthroughs, I definitely felt the drag,  especially in the one where you can't say anything.  In a game that is strongly based around the dialog interactions seemed like a pretty bad trophy in hindsight.

 

The Trophies

Speaking of the trophies...  There not that bad here.  The game does require at minimum 3 playthroughs.  4 if you mess stuff up in your blind playthrough, but the game is only like 3ish hours long so it isn't to bad to have to do it over.  If I had to recommend an order, I'd do the blind playthrough, then the say nothing one then, then the mean one, and cap it off with the nice playthrough.  I felt so bad after the mean one, which I guess is a testament to good writing.  Otherwise there are some collectables. They don't unlock till near the end of the game so you could get them in your blind playthrough with basically no spoilers so that's nice at least. 

 

All in All

The game provides a captivating experience and a does a great job with its premise and characters.  I definitely recommend going through and playing it.  It is absolutely worth playing blind and is a strong start to the year 2022.

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UPDATE 28 - Rime 

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Rime is a 3D puzzle-platformer brought built on an atmospheric set of worlds in which silent (well mostly silent, he does shout at stuff to solve puzzles sometimes) nameless protagonist kid goes on a journey.  The game reminds me a lot of Ico and Abzu.  It tries to build character with atmosphere, scenery, and music to try and capture that subtle magic that makes those games so memorable.  I will say that doing so, Rime doesn't always live up to the comparisons that its design choices invites. 

 

Visually the game is stunning.  Everything is beautiful from the ridges in the first area to the lighthouse, to the underwater majesty in the third area, everything looks really good.  Animal life flitters and swims about.  There are towers and buildings everywhere just begging for some little wanderer boy to jump in and explore them (and man do you need to explore them for some very well hidden collectibles.)   I will say that it does somewhat lack in world building.  The worlds don't really feel like some faraway place or forgotten civilization, more so they feel kind of plastic if you catch my meaning.  Like they were specifically made so that they can have a puzzle-platformer.  The game doesn't really suffer to much from this though and again the game looks great.  

 

The music is also top notch.  The game has no dialog and I think that choice was made basically so that we can all really enjoy the orchestrated sound track playing through rime.  It really carries a lot of the burden of keeping the game from being too dry in the second-to-second gameplay.   

 

Speaking of second-to-second gameplay,  I really feel like this is where Rime struggles as a game.  It's almost like they devs sometimes forgot that the game had to be played sometimes.  With many sections of traversing up a wall, with basically no danger, or just having to run across vast stretches of land to reach the next location.  Many of the puzzles also lack in creativity.  Most of them are extremely obvious, and the others are also obvious to anyone who has played a puzzle platformer before.  They have all of the obvious find the key, push the blocks, use the orb puzzles that have been in every game of the genre since its inception.  Occasionally they do have some really cool ones that break the mold.  For example there's a sequence where you have to escort a sentinel (the guy in the platinum panel art) (or maybe he's escorting you) through a series of neat puzzle rooms that all loop in on each other and can each progress a little at a time that turns out to be inspired.  They also have some neat stuff playing with shadows, but even both of these are pretty easy and aren't going to stump you for more than a few minutes at most. 

 

The controls also suck.  Often when you're climbing stuff, the boy will just stand there since you aren't holding exactly up on the control stick, or he'll move the opposite direction than you are holding on the control stick, or the opposite direction that he was just moving.  It gets old pretty quick and lacks any sort of fluidity that you see in best in class of the genre.  Again almost like the gameplay was more of an afterthought.

 

That said....

 

 

SPOILER TERRITORY

 

I will now regale you with my head cannon for how Rime came to be developed.  

 

Somewhere in Tequila Works Studios.......

 

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And thus was poor TC's heart broken 3 times that day.   To be honest, I wasn't expecting the emotions that I felt from this game.  But I don't think that the emotions were due to the death itself, but rather the heart wrenching idea of being the father in that scenario as I approach 30.  It's was wild to feel that pain for just me.  Realizing that it must be that much more for that character, or someone that can directly relate (for example those who are fathers, and God forbid, those who have lost children)  and that all came from just 2 cutscenes at the beginning of chapter 5. It really is one of the strong parts of the game. 

 

The game also re-contextualizes the chapters of the game by tying them to the stages of grief.  This context though is hit or miss.  For example, I think it works really well in the first two chapters.  Chapter 1, called denial, sees the character chasing after the red shade that seems to be denying his existence.  Ignoring him at every turn.  I didn't really catch this when I first played through it, but when I saw the chapter title in the select screen when going to pick up the missed collectibles, I got it.  I also got chapter 2 which is titled anger.  This chapter has you running away from this guy...

 

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Who chases you throughout the level and its kind of scary and atmospheric.  (For the Record, this was my favorite chapter which is why he almost got the platinum panel, I decided to go elsewhere, but hey bonus art).  You can definitely see that the bird is angry.  

 

Where the comparison falls apart though are in bargaining and grief.   I don't really think that chapter 3 and 4 really do a good job at conveying that they are about those two parts of acceptance.  I have seen people say that chapter 1 is also a stretch since it feels like you're following the red shade more than him denying you, but I'll digress because either way its leaves half or more of the game as a miss on the whole scale.   

 

I think the game may have worked a bit better if the roles were flipped and it was actually the father who died, and the kid who was on the journey to overcome his grief, but then... that gut punch while probably effective, doesn't have the same oomph that the one they went with does.  Game design sure is tough...

 

 

 

END SPOILERS

 

The trophies for the game largely fall into three categories.  They are either story related (i.e. complete the chapter), collectibles (which are well hidden) or they are miscellaneous stuff.  There are a lot of collectibles in the game for its length, but none of them are missable since the game has a chapter select after finishing the main game, so you can always go back and grab the stuff you missed.  There really isn't anything difficult either.  The "hardest" trophy is a section where you have to swim through 3 tunnels using only one oxygen bubble.   It's not to challenging and you can just retry chapter if you end up failing.   Getting that trophy does preclude you from getting one of the collectibles though, so you'll have to come back for it.  

 

Overall Rime is a game that is ambitious in many areas, but forgets at times that it's a game and is supposed to be fun.  Some of its major themes do miss, and the controls are not good, but at the end of the day, I didn't hate my time with Rime.  On the contrary, most of the time I found myself enjoying the game.   I don't really think you'd be missing much though if you skipped out on this one, but if you're looking for an easy game, with nice visuals and music, there are worse ones out there than Rime.  

 

Enjoyment Score:  7/10

Difficulty Score 2/10

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Update 30: Platinum #60: The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel IV

 

Overview:

 

Trails of Cold Steel IV is a JRPG released by Falcom for the Playstation 4 in 2018.  It tells the story of the Ashen Chevalier Rean, his friends and students in Class 7, and their quest to stop the curse of Erebonia and defeat the great twilight.  As the fourth game in its own tetralogy and the 9th or 10th game of the long running Trails Series, 3 of which I have already reviewed in this checklist, I must say that having played the entire story, I must revise some of my opinions that I made on the earlier games, but more on that in the spoiler section.   As such, this will be a review for the culmination of the entire series.

 

Specifically For Cold Steel 4, not much has changed since Cold Steel 3 (other than the plot obviously) so many of the things that were good in the other Cold Steel Games have returned once again.  The characters are still mostly great.  The battle system remains great for customizing your characters into whatever you need them to be as well as plenty of interesting builds that can focus on one or more of the games other integrated combat mechanics.  The world build is again excellent, cleaning up a lot of my complaints from previous games and producing a satisfactory ending for the series.    If I had any complaints, there really isn’t much innovation from the previous game to this one, and some of the character resolutions didn’t feel entirely satisfying.

 

The Characters:

 

WARNING: This section will contain minor spoilers for the Cold Steel Series

 

Class 7

Machias: 

 

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The definition of Mediocrity in combat, Machias is introduced to us as the son of Imperial Governor Carl Regnitz a commoner that has taken a high position in the imperial government.  He initially dislikes nobles due to things that happened in his past, but through his experiences with Class 7 he overcomes this distaste and eventually becomes a member of the inspectorate that audits government organizations.  He holds firm to his beliefs and is a coffee and chess enthusiast.  Unfortunately, after the second game he really doesn’t get much attention as a character in the spot light.  He confronts someone who seems to have lost their way and gets them back on track, but otherwise is just sort of along for the ride.  What’s there is good, but they sort of forget about him after his arc in CS 1 and 2. 

 

Jusis:

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While my least favorite combat character in the game, Jusis really gets Falcom’s attention when it comes to character development.  Jusis is the second son of Duke Alberea on of the four great noble houses in Erebonia.  He constantly lives in the shadow of his brother Rufus and as a major noble, naturally falls into rivalry with Machias.  Eventually they put their differences aside and become friends and after the events of CS 2 takes over as acting duke of his house.  During that time, he develops a close friendship with Milium another of the members of class 7 and during CS 3 and 4 we see him evolve as a character due to his friendship with her.  He has a fondness for horses which comes in handy later on when he can borrow horses for the party to travel.  Jusis is a complete character from start to finish,  Now if only he wasn’t worthless in combat. 

 

Emma:

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Spoilers for the first game.  It’s really tough to talk about her in terms of the series without mentioning this specific thing which is revealed halfish to three quarters through the first game. In contrast to Jusis, Emma is probably the best combat character in the game, though that may just be because the Magic Focused Master Quartz are just that good.   Aside from that she is introduced to us as Class 7’s class president and highest scorerer (makes sense she’s in the literature club) and later is anigramed straight into Class 7’s  resident Sorcerer.  As a member of the Hexen clan, her goal is to find and guide the would be awakener to (who guessed it) awaken the Ashen Knight and become one of the Chevalier’s.  As the series progresses, she takes a larger role as a member of her Hexen clan and continues to lead Class 7.  A lot of the plot of CS 3 and 4 revolve around her and she is always great.  In terms of best girl, while she isn’t my choice, I probably wouldn’t argue with you if you picked her.

 

Alisa:

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Spoiler Alert Again for that first game, though if you pay even the remotest of attention, you’re likely to figure this out basically from the moment you meet the character.  As probably the best support character in the game Alisa is one who you never mind having foisted upon you by the game.  Alisa initially has the classic anime misunderstanding with the main character and thus is huffy about having landed on top of him and is probably falcom’s choice as the “main love interest”.  That said, Alisa is an excellent engineer, member of the renowned Reinford Family, and pretty good Lacrosse player as well.  Her initial arc isn’t all that compelling focusing on her relationship with a workaholic mother, but as the series progresses her family drama somehow always ends up in the middle of it.  I find it kind of interesting how the ending of the series changes based on certain happenstances with her and it definitely keeps her interesting and relevant throughout.  As far as best girl, I think that Emma and my other choice are slightly better, but again wouldn’t argue if you chose her. 

 

Fie: 

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One of the better physical attackers in the games, Fie is introduced as class 7’s outcast of outcast character.  She is mysterious, an anomaly, and is just sort of there because of Sara (more on her later).   As her past is revealed, Class 7 slowly changes her and her initial arc is that of becoming a true part of class 7.   In later games, she becomes a bracer and  a pretty important section of the plot revolves around her and said past and the way the game handles her keeps her interesting and relevant. As far as best girl goes, I think Fie is the first second tier choice.  She’s fine, but there are better options. 

 

Laura: 

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You see I like Laura, in fact, she is probably my favorite character in the game, though as an attacker she’s kind of mediocre.  The problem is her character arc is kind of nonexistent.  She is introduced as the daughter of the radiant blademaster, one of Erebonia’s best swordsmen, and her goal is to live up to that legacy.   When Fie’s past is discovered, she has a brief spat with her, but otherwise she is an encouraging and ideal knight throughout the rest of the series.  She just sort accomplishes her goal without much trial or hardship.  In CS 3 and 4 there are sections of the plot that are supposed to contribute to her character, but she just sort of takes them in stride.  IDK.  She works, she just isn’t all that interesting as a character in the plot.  In contrast, This is best girl, don’t @ me.   She is just so damn supportive, how could Rean not fall for her.

 

Elliot:

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Elliot is one of the first characters that we interact with in the entire series and he is definitely in contention for best Bro (with Crow and Giaus as the other contenders) Elliot is a music lover, who wanted to go to music school.  Unfortunately, his father a commander in the army, forced him into Thor’s Military Academy.   Elliot is later thankful for this as he grows extraordinarily from his time at Thor’s and is eventually able to graduate and become one of the hot new music producers of the time.   Sadly, that’s basically all that his character does throughout the series.  Later he serves some important plot functions with his music, but he never really gets any more growth.  As far as combat, Bro is supposed to be your healer, but really F that.  Offensive Arts this guy and he will blow up most of his opponents pretty easily.

 

Giaus: 

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Giaus is male Laura.  What I mean by this is that there really isn’t an arc for the character.  The guy starts off as a pretty complete person and only maintains this as the game moves forward.  Giaus is not a traditional citizen of Erebonia as he belongs to the tribes of Nord.  This gives him an interesting place as cultural foil for the nobility/commoner focus of the citizens of Thors.  Later he also becomes attached to a different faction which should be more interesting than it is, but the game never really focuses on it and simply uses it as a reason to justify some plot conveniences that the game needs to take.  In combat, Giaus is mostly fine, however in CS4 specifically he is probably the most busted character in the game.  His S-Attack delays all enemies and if you set him up correctly you can make it so that your opponents never get a turn. 

 

Sara:

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Sara is a bracer turned instructor for the newly installed class 7. She initially is responcible for training up the new class 7 into something special.  After the events of CS2, however, she returns to the bracer guild.  She starts to see her students, who have now graduated, as equals and joins them on their quest to end the great twilight.  Her own personal arc involving her father is also quite touching and works as a way to get you more invested in her.  As far as combat goes, in the first two games, she is bad.  Mostly because she functions as a guest character and you cannot manipulate her master quartz and in some instances her main quartz this means you’re stuck with the default ones which generally aren’t good.  After she joins Class 7 as a main member she becomes the second best physical character in the game (barring cheese) after Fie.

 

Rean:

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Rounding out the original Class 7 Rean is the main protagonist of the series and most of its happenings with a few exceptions are told from his point of view.  As the leader of the original class 7 and the teacher of the new class 7, Rean becomes the rallying point for all of the friends he has to join together and fight.  He tends to take things into his own hands and is always willing to sacrifice himself to help and save others.  While admirable, his friends often encourage him to share his burden as they walk with him to determine the fate of Erebonia.  As far as combat goes, Rean is always useful.  Depending on the game, he is good as a delay attacker, an S-Craft Spammer, or a mage.  If you want you can also build him as a guaranteed crit machine or an evasion tank.  He has the ability to justify basically anything.

 

Juna:

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Juna is a Crossbell native and member of the New Class 7 under the tutelage of instructor Rean.   She also serves a bridge between this game and the previous Trails to Azure and Trails to Zero.  As she is acquainted with the Crossbell Special Support Section.  Initially unhappy to have landed under this particular instructor, she uses the opportunity to grow and gradually develops into the heart of the New class 7.   In combat, she herself is remarkably average.  However, her order ability (exclusive to CS3 and CS4) is absolutely busted allowing you to inflict the break state more reliably on enemies.  As far as best girl, why would you pick her?  She is your student you weirdo! Don’t tell me you did it for the trophy….

 

Kurt:

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Kurt is a member of the Vander house and a member of the new class 7.  A family of bodyguards charged with protecting the imperial family.   However, due to the events of CS2, the house has fallen out of favor and Kurt must confront the Prince and his new lust for Power.  His arc has an interesting premise, the problem is the character himself is pretty bland.  He simply lacks personality, that said there are still some pretty good moments with the character.  In combat, Kurt is a passible evasion tank, but you don’t really want to use him if either Fie or Sara is available since they are just strictly better.

 

Altina:

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The “Final” of the initial members of the new class 7, Altina is probably the best written character in the games.  The problem is I cannot really tell you why, because basically any part of it would be a spoiler, so I’m going to ask you to just take my word for it.  In Combat she functions as a pretty good mage, though I would rate her as third or forth best, but that still makes her a top half character in the games, so do with that what you will. As far as bet girl… see Juna’s entry, except now it’s even weirder… stop it.

 

Now for the particularly astute among you who have played these games, you’ll notice that I left out quite a few of the characters from class 7 like:

 

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In a similar vein to Altina, talking about these characters require a lot of spoilers and I’m sure that you didn’t want to read the same entry 4 or 5 times.  That said they are all great from a writing point of view, though Musse (green hair girl) is pretty weird.  From left to right you have Millium: Bad in Combat.  Crow: Pretty good in CS4,  Musse: Second best Mage in the game and Ash: Worse Laura in combat, and Laura is already not that great.    

 

One of the interesting things about this game is that there are no throw away characters for example

 

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ALL of these characters play a pretty major role in the most of the games, some more, some less, but that is a huge cast to keep together.  That’s not to mention that all of the students of Thors, both the original and new all have distinct personalities and play into the missions and side missions of the game.  The and Most of them are good for what they are.  The law of conservation of characters is real with Falcom and I could be here forever talking about it.  The characters here are great. 

 

The Combat

 

In the Trails of Cold Steel games, there are 2 major facets to how characters play in combat, Master Quartz, and Traditional Quartz.  There are also brave orders and S-Crafts that matter too, but those are what they are.  Where the combat really shines is the former two.   They make each character customizable to what you want to do with them in the game.   Each character is allowed 1 Master Quartz and 1 Submaster Quartz.  These should be thematic to what you want to do with the character.  They are then allowed 7 Quartz slots, with 3 of them being restricted to one of the specific types of quartz.  Lets take Rean for Example.  

 

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This is a Sample Build from the Trails 4.  Note that we have Brigid as a master quartz so lets take a look at what that does. 

 

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So at level 8 like it is, Rean gets 20 Cp per enemy killed,  4 CP per Turn and a one time boost of 175 CP if his health gets low.   (CP being the point system used for abilities in this game)  So this Rean is going to look to spam his abilities.  For a Sub Quartz we have Minotauros.  Minotauros has 3 abilities as well.  It deals extra damage but delays you more before your next turn.  Increases your break damage by 150% and increases your critical rate.  However, since it’s the subquartz we only get the first of these abilities.  So if we take these in conjunctions we can understand that Rean is trying to use a powerful ability with heavy cp to wipe out all of the enemies which then in turn returns the CP.  This Rean is probably good for fighting random enemies on the field.  If you were to switch from Brigid to Magius a magic master quartz, Rean would no longer be good at this and instead would be better at using spells. 

Going back to our original picture we can also look at the quartz this Rean has equipped. 

 

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Notice how we are required to have a red and two blacks in our build.  We our augmenting are master quartz with say Carnelia that increases our attack by a lot, as well as rakan and break 3.  Both of these increase our break damage.  Meaning that if Rean doesn’t kill the enemies with his abilities, he can break them.  This renders them unable to attack and our party could then easily finish them off.  This Rean could also for example use the Goldia Gem or Mars Gem which would give more strength as well as crit chance. 

 

However, there are also limitations, each master quartz can only be equipped once so you can’t just spam the good ones over and over, and the game forces you to take different characters a lot of the time, so it’s important that you are flexible with your builds.   So maybe this Rean would be good in one area, but in the other you need a mage so you swap him to that instead.   It really gives a lot of play to the combat in the game and I could spend many a minute just playing around with character builds to optimize them. 

 

There are downsides to this though.  Once you do figure out the optimal builds and get them into place, the system really stagnates.  You become really powerful and there isn’t much to challenge you.  As such, after that combat can become a chore, since there is a lot of it in each area and you have to keep fighting to collect the enemy data for one of the trophies.   Not to say the game is easy, but the difficulty curve seems backward.  It starts hard and gets easier rather than the converse. 

 

The Trophies

 

Like basically all the other Cold Steel games, CS4 suffers from an infinite number of missible trophies as well as that whole having to play through it a second time in order to see all of the endings for the bonding trophies. 

 

I feel like I basically have to follow a guide in order to be able to not infinitely run around the map talking to everyone, their mom, their dog, and their SO.  Either that or play through the game so many times that you can’t help but find it all.  That said, that’s just the nature of trophy hunting.  I feel like one way or another I eventually run into these types of games, but PSN profiles has a really good guide that helps and is basically spoiler free that gives a checklist style of things needed to get these profile notes and other missables.  

 

The second playthrough also wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  My first playthrough clocked in at just over 80 hours so I was definitely concerned about having to go back through the game again, but after skipping all the cutscenes and not particularly going out of my way to do the side stuff I was able to get through the stuff I needed in about 8 hours.   

 

The rest is just the typical fare.  You need to do specific things in combat, but if you’re just playing the game normally most of those things are going to happen pretty naturally.  I think I had all the combat trophies by about halfway through my first playthrough of the game. 

 

Summary

 

Cold Steel IV is a pretty great game.  It is a good ending to a long running series that I have been playing since my Persona 4 gave me the JRPG itch again.   The gameplay balance tweaks and 80 plus hours of lore and content make it very solid.  

 

The characters, combat, and worldbuilding are among the higher side of the genre and while it may not live up to the powerhouses of the aforementioned P4, this is still a major selling point on the game.  I would only hesitate to recommend CSIV and the series to people if they aren’t a fan of the long form RPGs, because if you start this journey it’s going to probably be a 400ish hour investment over the four games and not a lot changes from game to game.  That said if you do like the genre, give the series a shot. 

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Update 31: 100% #10 Mega Man Legacy Collection 

 

Been a while PSN profiles.  In my time away I have managed to learn Necromancy, in that I will revive this thread from death.  That being said,  I've been away reading.   Every year, GF_Comic and I will take some time to do a buddy read of some series or another and have been for as long as we've been friends, even before we started dating.  Last year we did the Wheel of Time, this year we did Cradle series by Will White.  It's pretty interesting for a series that's 10 books deep, but its mostly what I would call junk food.  Tasty and appealing, but there isn't a lot to it.   Anyway this isn't a book review site so lets get to the meat and potatoes of today's completion.   

 

If you'll indulge the nostalgia trip,  back in the distant land of 1996 (gosh I'm getting old) little 4 year old comic got a gift from Grand Pa, his very own NES complete with a whopping 6 games.  Mario Bros 1, and 3, Tetris, Jeopardy,  Duck Hunt, and Mega Man 2.   Throughout the next 2 years of my life I played the ever-loving mess out of these games, mostly Mario and Tetris.   What I remember largely about Mega Man was that I didn't care for it.  Mostly because I don't think I ever beat a single one of the bosses at the end of the stages, and if I did, it was only one. The game was hard for a 4 year old and it relied on a weird password system to keep your progress so I always got put back to square one (not very far I realize now).  

 

Fast forward a few years and my next experience with Mega Man came when I got my very own Game Boy Advance and a copy of Mega Man Battle Network.  This time I loved it.   I think I played every single one of those up till either BN5 or 6 and I'd play it again today if capcom released this collection (Capcom PLS!!!) . This culminated with me picking up Mega Man 11 last year on a whim and enjoying that game quite a lot more than I expected to.  All of that to get to here where I found Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2 on sale for like $5-10 together so I took the plunge.  

 

Nostalgia trip complete how does Mega Man stack up today.... well it depends on which game we are talking about.  What I liked the most about MM11 was the level design and the boss fights and from what I remember of BN what kept me coming to those games was also the bosses.  And I must say on that front, All the games are very solid, and improve every game.   From MM1  Ice man is a stand out in that he rewards being precise with your jumping, has a pattern that is learnable and predictable (they all do, but I still stand by the idea that both cut man and guts man move to the least convenient spot out of pure spite). As you move forward you get more and more standouts (Air Man, Bubble Man (Not the one of Elemental Hero Fame), Quick Man, Gemini, Snake, Drill, Skull, Dive, etc.) you get the idea, if I named all the good bosses we could be here all day.  Not that I mind, but I'm sure you have things to do.  The level design elements are a lot more hit or miss.  I think for this collection, 1 is definitively the worst, the peak is in 5, and the others range somewhere in between with the higher numbers tending toward the top and the lower numbers tending towards the bottom.  I mean consider this level 

 

 

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This is the first half of Bomb Man's stage from MM1.   It's basically all the same all the way to the halfway point where it moves to a vertical section that is basically still the same then you jump on some blocks over some spikes and then you're at the boss.  It just doesn't really do it for me.  Granted when this game came out in 1987 its hard to complain about this kind of design.  I mean no one complains that SMB1 is samey, but I don't think it holds up in todays landscape.  Contrast that to this stage from Gravity Man in MM5 

 

 

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And we can really see the improvement.  It's still not going to match up to current game design, but it came a long way in the 5 years between the two games. 

 

I'd say as far as MM 1-6, if you aren't getting the nostalgia out of the games, then they aren't the greatest, but honestly I can say that about most games of this era.  I can definitely see the appeal for those playing them when they released.   The part of this collection that does stand out though is the challenges.  It's also where most of the difficulty comes in.   There are 54 challenges to complete, each on a timer and depending on how quickly you can complete them, you get one of three medals.   There is a trophy for 50 Golds, meaning you have to get pretty good at mega man if you want the 100%.   There are effectively 2 types of challenge: stage remixes and boss fights.  The stage remixes take various sections from each of the in-game stages and put them together in a hodgepodge and asks you to complete them quickly pretty please.  This, This is what gave me my fix for stage design that I wanted.  Even if the stages themselves from each of the games (especially the early ones) wouldn't be particularly compelling, if you took the best part of each of them and string them together, you end up with pretty good stages.  Then there are the boss rush stages which either consist of getting an end game boss  that you gotta do fast (Sonic style) or fighting all the bosses back to back (and you still gotta go fast).  These boss rushes are probably the more challenging sections of the game as well.  I struggled a lot particularly on the MM2 boss rush, mostly because the timer was really tight or at least it was for my skill level.   I had several runs that finished 1 or 2 seconds over the time limit, but eventually I got one that was 1 second under.   The other ones I really struggled with were the buster only boss rushes: 1 and 2 particularly.  I think I might have been my own worst enemy on these though since mostly I was overly focused on getting a near perfect run when really the only thing I needed to work on was the elecman fight which has a very nice and cheesy strat to get through it.   

 

I also have some nitpicks.  I mean it wouldn't be a TC tread without nitpicks, right?   First of all, I have discovered that the Mega Man games were designed with a D-Pad in mind....

Now that may not come as a surprise to the rest of you.... especially since the original controller looked like this...

 

 

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But for me, the surprise came around 10 or so challenges in when I found myself in the portion of the mega mans where they have added the slide, and my Left Analog Stick using self kept accidentally sliding from trying to make inputs quickly.   Consider this set up. 

 

 

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Napalm Man is going to start the fight by firing 3 missles at you which you can fire a orb at him at start and then between the second and third.   Then he's going to make the jump, and you can hit him again.  3 Missles again but this time you cant shoot him between because the missles are to close and you'll get hit, so you need to just dodge then he'll jump again and you can hit him again.  Then you he'll fire 2 bombs above you and the only way to dodge is to jump up, but not over or he'll jump into you,  dodge the explosions tilt back, so you don't land on him then slide under him when he jumps a la the green line.  That requires a  :cross::left::right::down::cross: Input all in quick succession and I am not good enough to do that consistently with a d-pad.  Its the reason fighting games use a stick.  The problem is sometimes when I did this I would tilt the stick slightly down when moving from the left input to the right input so when I hit the ground I would slide right into the boss.  "But TC I hear you cry just take the hit, it isn't a damageless attempt" and to that I say ...  :|:facepalm: why didn't I think of that. 

 

While we are nitpicking I would also get an occasional dropped input which can be frustrating especially in some situations, particularly in the level remixes where it can cause you to just fall into a pit.  There was also this weird thing where if you were using the buster and you pressed the button on the same frame you turned around Mega Man would fire the buster the wrong direction which led to infinite rage on my part.  And it was definitely the games fault and not mine.  😡

 

Still, it isn't a fib to say that I had fun with this collection.  The 6 games themselves were kind of whatever, but I had a great time with the challenges and It did indeed scratch the mega man itch I've been having.  I'll probably get around to the second half which if completion percentage is any indicator which it only some times is, is a bit easier than this one.   Would I recommend this to others?   Only if you have nostalgia for the original Mega Man or just really like Mega Man in general.  If that's the case, this one is serviceable.  However, for your average gamer,  I'd probably just point you to MM11.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

~TC 

 

 

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Update 32:  Platinum Number 61: Dragon Age 2

 

The Game Itself:  

 

Dragon Age 2 (DA2) is an action RPG released by Bioware after the success of Dragon Age Origins (DA:O or Origins)  This one leaves behind the Warden from the first game and focuses on the so called "Champion of Kirkwall" and their adventures in Thedas. Along the way, in typical RPG fashion, you will encounter several potential party members to recruit, but using the games dialog, friendship, and rivalry system, you could end up making them leave if you consistently make choices they don't agree with or they may leave immediately if you do something that fundamentally goes against their belief system.  The story focuses around the growing conflict between the mages and the templars that was briefly explored in the first game, but you know the world ending blight kind of pushed everything to the backburner and now that peace has been established tensions are higher than ever.   The game is split into a three act structure with each act escalating in stakes until the last straw finally pushes the situation to its breaking point.  

 

The gameplay mechanics have been updated from the auto-battler of the original to a more hack and slash style, that still incorporates the character class abilities at the push of a button, or via a radial menu.   Returning from DA:O is the ability to equip your party with tactics which will allow you to set them to do specific things in certain situations.  For example,  you can have a character who drops below 25% drink a health potion,  or have your warrior follow up on a rogues disorientation ability for major damage.  You can also take control of them and act manually if a situation arises that you hadn't prepared for in your tactics menu, or if your particular strategy isn't quite working.  This is the bread and butter of DA2 Combat, and there is, in fact, a lot of it.  Luckily the tactics menu is in the same menu as the level up so when your party member gets a new ability you can just equip it there

 

Together_Comic's Thoughts: Warning Spoilers Below

 

The minute-to-minute gameplay has been largely updated and feels much more engaging than in DAO.  In origins I often felt like I was just standing there waiting on Cool Downs while my team just wailed on the Enemies on screen.  Well now I get to press X while waiting on cool downs and wail on the enemies on screen XD.  While it may not seem like much the moment-to-moment engagement did a lot to ensure that I felt like I was actually playing the game rather than watching it. 

 

I was initially worried that the characters would be terrible, but after playing through I found that that wouldn’t be the case.  Merrill is by far my favorite and has I think the most interesting (and brutal) story throughout the game.  Isabella is charming as well, I often found myself giggling at the quips she had with other party members as I traveled from placed to place.  If I had a complaint, Avalene is a little dry, but still I didn’t find her irritating or boring. 

 

The story has its problems (more on that shortly) but I was entertained for the most part throughout the entirety of my 60ish hour play time.  The story also does the thing where it starts en media res and then the story is a story being told to some third part.  I’m a sucker for this trope when it is done well, a la the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Persona 5, or The Emperor’s New Groove, and this is no exception.  The I guess for want of a better word inquisitor is questioning Varric on what happened with the champion and it is expertly done, cutting back to them at just the right moments and with the right amount of snark and commentary.  I love the moment where you can see that the questioner has come around on the Champion and doesn’t quite think they are as awful as they thought in the beginning of the game. 

 

Now the pacing for the story is well a different story.  It’s just not great through out the entirety of the game.  The game is divided into three distinct acts. 

 

The first is the “Expedition Act”  The party want’s to join in on an expedition into the under roads, notable home of the darkspawn of DAO fame, to make money I guess?  They are of course denied and meet Varric the dwarf.  Varric says if they can’t get on as workers, perhaps they can become investors.  The expedition needs money and a way into the deep, and if they provide that, they can come along.  From there Act 1 boils down to “make 50 gold” which gives an excuse to go around doing quests and when you do quest you can meet the party.  I actually wished they had focused on the “ending” of that act with Bethany/Carver being arrested as a mage / joining the templars / forced to become a grey warden.  I feel like that conflict actually would have driven the story much more effectively than the one we got with Varric.

 

Act 2 is the confrontation with the Qun and the resulting fallout of that, we find out what’s been going on with Isabella the whole time and why the Qun are in the city at all, but you only have up to 4 encounters with the Qun

 

Act 3 is the boiling point of the mages vs templars which serves is meant as the primary conflict point of the game.  Where we learn that all the homies hate Anders! Like “Fuck Anders”.  And that both of the pillars the mages and the templars are big piles of garbage. 

The idea of the Mages and Templars coming to a head with the church acting as a passive peacemaker is inherently a great story payoff.   The Qun involvement is also interesting and I like the idea that we get to explore one of the less explored races from the first game.  The overall problem is that none of these points seem connected at all, and all feel entirely episodic.  Like the expedition is the Varric episode involving dwarfs and greed and betrayal.  The Qun is the Isabella episode and Act 3 is the Ander’s episode.  All of the plot points fall seemingly out of nowhere, and aren’t properly built up to for the payoff that is still good, even with the poor set up.  I can only imagine what it would be like if the game was just a little more baked. 

Another issue I had was the amount of seemingly necessary story that was hidden behind side quests.  For example, many of the mages vs templars stuff are all side quests and you would get practically no build up if you skipped them.    

 

 The game just lacks cohesion. I was informed that the game was only a 9 month development and the overall payoff for just 9 months is astounding, but I still wish we could just stick it back in the oven just a bit more. There’s a great game here if there was just a bit more polish. 

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