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    Shmups, black metal, communism

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  1. If this is still going I'm well overdue a run through CV4! I'm really glad to see so many people here enjoying it. I received it for Christmas in 1992, when I was 6, and it's been one of my favourite games since. It has a lot of really carefully considered level design, an unmatched sense of artistic ambition and focus, and one of the most haunting and memorable soundtracks the SNES has ever belted out, which manages to draw from a broad and eclectic range of influences whilst still having really strong thematic development. CV4's also a lot easier to recommend to new players than any of the earlier classic Castlevanias, since it's generally a fair bit easier to get into and gives you multiple ways of dealing with most situations. Since people are talking about secrets, here's my favourite: in the second half of stage 6 (with the green stone floors, after all the swinging chandeliers), you can break part of the floor to reveal a staircase leading to a hidden room. If you go down there you see an old man ambling back and forth aimlessly whilst his dog runs around. There's no way of interacting with the man, but if you kill his dog he kneels next to it, sobbing. Shortly after, they both disappear in flames. It's an oddly poignant, eerie encounter that's similar in tone to some of the secrets in SotN, like the confession booth ghosts, etc. Edit: the room even has its own unique music, and of course it's sublime.
  2. Deffo! I think a lot of people could get something out of them with that incentive to put a bit of time into them for community purposes. Any controller with four shoulder buttons should be fine for them, btw. They all use the d-pad for movement and the shoulder buttons for head movements and strafing. It's weird at first but you settle into it.
  3. I've been playing as many of the earlier From games as I can over the last year or so. It's King's Field IV's turn at the moment, and it's already become one of my most treasured PS2 experiences, a mere five hours in. Some idle thoughts/fun stuff: -I've just passed through an area housing an enormous temple with many entrances and floors, surrounded by paths that all lead to complex networks of rooms. It's impressively huge, and there are still no loading screens in sight. It feels like a vast expansion of KF2's castle idea, which, along with all the returning attack animations and magic spells, is compounding the vague feeling that it's a kind of loose remake. -When certain enemies hit you in this one you get knocked off balance and the controls go all over the place for a second. It's a nice effect and heightens the feeling that you're in a real fight with consequences (which is arguably a much-needed injection of contingency and depth for KF combat). Also, it reminds me of those joker power-ups that reverse the directions for a while in older games. -I realised this has the OG "crestfallen warrior" in its opening village: a guy who feels lousy for letting his group go off fighting without him. He sits on a rock saying things like "I'm such an idiot" and "you can't be anyone important - you wouldn't be here". -Bastard swords in the PAL version are called "Bugger Blades", there's an ordinary mace called "Ultimate Spike", and there's a hammer called "Fighters' Pounder". -There's a gloriously well-timed sequence involving your arrival at a new area. Most of the game is murky and drab, but there's a really beautiful bit where, after you've been trudging around this seemingly endless subterranean network of Ghormenghast-esque stone rooms and tunnels, half the time in inky darkness, you emerge into a lush and serene forest. It's a hell of a feat to make such an area feel fresh and exciting again. There's a palpable feeling of coming up for air when you get there. Don't let the glacial pace and middling reviews put you off (KF was never particularly well received in the mainstream gaming press, but the series has always been excellent) - this is a staggering achievement and essential playing for anyone interested in the PS2's history and its relative obscurities.
  4. I'm a few hours into Crimson Shroud, which I'd also highly recommend to anyone enjoying Culdcept's board game idea, since its main conceit is that it's a literal tabletop RPG, with your characters represented as figurines in little dioramas, and dice rolls deciding the effectiveness of some of your actions, etc. The writing's pretty entertaining (it's a Yasumi Matsuno game translated by the same guy who did Vagrant Story), though the story itself is well-trodden ground, and it's got a lot of interesting systems going on with lots of potential for customising your characters. Great music and sound design, too. I hear it's a bit slight, finishing just as you expect it to open up, but it's well worth experiencing all the same. (I've never seen it on sale but it's about £8.)
  5. Thanks. Yeah, it's just the link the 3DS store tells you to follow that only offers specific amounts of credit. False alarm!
  6. I grabbed Culdcept Revolt because it was £12-odd (down from £40). It's a board/card game in which you use monsters to occupy bits of land so that your opponent has to pay a toll (in magic) each time they pass over them - if they won't pay, you enter into a card battle and the winner takes the land. The objective in each stage so far is to amass a certain amount of magic before your opponent does. I barely have a clue what I'm doing, and there's a lot more depth to it than this, but I love it, and wish I'd looked into the series properly 20 years ago. (Annoyingly, you can't just charge the exact amount of money for a game to your bank card any more, because you now have to pre-purchase specific increments online - outside the 3DS - first. Thankfully though, you can use the leftover funds on the Switch eshop if you link the accounts. Edit: this isn't quite correct, as Vorgot says! )
  7. Just received Final Fight One for the GBA, and it's probably my favourite of the FF ports that deviate significantly from the source material. It's obviously based largely on the SNES version, but it's vastly improved in lots of ways. Most obviously, it puts back a lot of what was previously omitted (notably Guy, the Industrial Area and Rolento), but the enemy behaviour also seems much more in line with the arcade game's, at least in the sense that the bastards don't give you an inch. They're constantly encircling you, poking you and punishing every moment's hesitation, every second you spend thinking instead of suplexing. Their behaviour isn't 1:1, but the result is that the game feels just as brutal as the original (although it's still possible I'll discover some cheesy way to 'game' the enemies that wasn't there before - I'll waffle another time about how well-designed the arcade game is, even compared to much later Capcom beat-'em-ups). The music is really cleverly transposed and arranged, playing to the strengths of the hardware and generally going for raw energy as opposed to a sense of drama or grandeur. The addition of the SF Alpha versions of Guy and Cody, as characters with their own movesets intact rather than 'skins', and seemingly aware (in delightfully goofy new dialogue scenes) of their winding up in the past, gives an already hefty game even more longevity. It's one of the rare and special home ports that don't feel obsolete in the light of easier access to arcade-perfect versions, and it's a heady aesthetic experience in its own right, which is about the best thing a 'compromised' port can be.
  8. Klatrymadon


    Gutted this is Xbox One exclusive - Eschatos and Ginga Force are two of the best STGs of the last decade or so, so this feels almost guaranteed to be incredible. It seems to be taking a lot of the strongest design influences from the best horis, and following Ginga Force in having hugely customisable ships with dozens of weapon loadouts.
  9. Had my first go on this today, and I love it dearly. I knew from playing the SNES original that it was going to have some depth to it, but I've still been really impressed with the amount of combat options you have, and that the game constantly tests your knowledge of them. I played it with a partner, and thought the handling of the multiplayer game was quite ingenious, too - you share both your health bar and your special attack gauge (depleted each time either of you gets hit), which changes how you read the screen and demands that you take on more responsibility for the other player, not just to keep them alive but to ensure you're both in a position to fire off the right moves at the right time. It teaches you to become a dependable, cohesive team. Aiming for a two-player 1CC could be a lot of fun! Edit: just cleared it for the first time, and I think this is already my GOTY - it's been a blast so far and is only just beginning to reveal how much there is to chew on. It's got to be up there with Curse of the Moon in terms of rewarding repeat playthroughs and making a 'short' game impressively dense. Unlocked Yaksha, who is immediately brilliant and shows huge potential for combos (and - new to this version - juggling), although I haven't figured anything out yet. It's the mark of a great beat-'em-up when each playable character essentially represents a different game. Edit: just unlocked Raiden after a 2P game. I love that he's this ludicrous epitome of the slow bruiser type but is still just as technical and nuanced as the rest of them. Really feels like you're operating a giant mech.
  10. I like what they've done with the Nemesis in this sense. The design seems to be aiming for something a bit less straightforwardly 'badass', and really communicates the excruciating distortions involved in its creation. It feels familiar and wrong in a way that's potentially even more frightening.
  11. The angle on that last one makes Nemesis look like a startled rabbit. I'm well up for this, and it's reminded me I need to play my DC copy of RE3. I was binging on the series a few months ago, playing through Deadly Silence (an astonishing remake, btw) multiple times before moving onto RE2 (PS1) and doing the same. I was a bit too burnt out to leap straight into RE3 and CV at the time, but I really want to do it soon, since they're the two main-series entries I haven't played through. My memory is terrible - most of Leon B felt new to me - so it's been really nice to (re-)discover that the writing in these games is surprisingly good, or at least better than I would have expected, and that they're genuinely really effective at doing horror.
  12. Klatrymadon


    In case anyone wants to go for this, the first batch of Switch and PS4 Collector's Editions have sold out, but there's another batch going up later (in 8 hours and 46 mins from this post). https://store.strictlylimitedgames.com/collections/all I grabbed the PS4 version, because I am profoundly stupid. (There are some things which make it worthwhile to someone who owns the original Switch release, though - it contains the first 'The Omnibus' arrange album, which is hard to come by and as far as I'm aware hadn't been reprinted since 1997, and the Darius Odyssey art book has presumably been translated. The rest I can't justify so much, but it's all nice, and Darius Plus is a great addition.)
  13. Klatrymadon


    Yeah, deffo get back into Metal Black too - if you got that far you can deffo 1CC it! How easy are the Virtua Sticks to modify? I'd love to get one and drop an LS-62 into it. Edit: Darius Cozmic Collection is getting a limited international release across two carts (or discs - there's a PS4 version too) and I might just be stupid enough to buy it again, because it now includes Darius Plus and the Darius Odyssey art book is probably (finally) translated: https://www.strictlylimitedgames.com/releases-2/darius-cozmic-collection/ it also now includes the first Omnibus arrange album, which is an absolute barn burner.
  14. Klatrymadon


    I've never liked TFIII very much either. The enemy reactions to being hit are pretty unsatisfying, and the level design can't get enough of environmental and enemy 'gotchas' (which, strangely, my big fave Metal Black is always panned for, despite having none). It has a reputation for immense speed but there's this odd disconnect: you can make the ship go really fast, and lots of attacks come at lightning speed, but the scroll speed and general pace of the levels is fairly plodding. There's a lot of dancing around in dead air between the 'fuck you' bits, and there's not much else to chew on once you've learned them. The best Tecnosoft shmup is HYPER DUEL, which is just utterly thrilling from beginning to end, with not a one of these issues.
  15. Fatal Fury Special, KOF '95/'97/2000 and Mark of the Wolves are half off on Switch at the moment (just over £3 each). They're all Hamster Arcade Archives ports, so they're good. As for cheap stick options for Switch, I've just bought a Mayflash F300 for £20 on eBay (£25 after shipping), so I'll let you know how it fares! I'm hoping to swap the stick for a Seimitsu LS-62 with the short throw mod (this commits it entirely to shmups - for fighters I'd recommend the LS-32 or Sanwa JLF), and I'll probably change the buttons too, but it's not going to push the total cost much over £60. The F300 might not be the best option if you want to mod the artwork, etc, but it's great as a cheap 'base' and has an almost universal PCB, covering all consoles from this gen and the previous one (with the slight pain of having to plug official controllers into it in some cases). I also have a Brook converter (PS3/4 to Switch), but I've only tried it briefly with a HRAP4 Kai and the console (or Darius Cozmic Collection at least) didn't seem to recognise more than two of the buttons. Possibly something to do with it having connected as player 2, but I'll have to wait a few days to experiment further...
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