Another batch of games to post before RE3 and FF7 remakes take over my life.Kingdom Hearts III Re:Mind
(DLC, 2020) - This DLC basically contains two halves. The first half is a reworked endgame for KH3, which I can personally take of leave. Some of the changes are kind of neat, but honestly I feel its pretty unnecessary.
The real meat of the DLC though is the second half, which are the 14 superbosses that come with it, which are some tough sons of bitches. Yozora
was definitely the hardest for me, to the point that the guides to beat him on YouTube still take over 15 minutes just to go through all of the different attacks he can throw at you
(And this is just for one of the bosses!!!), but man between this and the Critical Mode update its hard to remember the time where I once complained that KH3 was too easy.The Oregon Trail
(1971) – Y’all didn’t think I could make it to Oregon, did you? Well you know what? Y’all can go fuck yourselves, I’m in Oregon now. President Polk even congratulated me! Fuck the haters, they’re jealous.
Apparently this original version of the game is pretty simple compared to later versions (I’m pretty sure the one I played a few times as a child at the museum must have been some later one anyways since it wasn’t text-only, or perhaps it was a knockoff of some kind), though the core ideas that people recognize of the game are still intact (Also I guess technically the boxart above is for a later version of the game, but still). I’m not sure if dysentery deaths are a thing here though, since I got everyone to Oregon alive, because I’m the greatest. ARMS
(2017) – I guess you’d call this a fighting game? It’s one where the gimmick is that its entirely in third person though, with each character being able to extend their arms for long range attacks like they’re Mr. Fantastic.
Throwing the long range punches is fun enough, though from playing arcade mode once it doesn’t seem like there’s too much more to it than that (And basic evasive options, guarding etc.). The arcade mode also throws these really annoying Mario Party-esque minigames in there which you HAVE to win to proceed which I just found a bit obnoxious. Like imagine if you couldn’t proceed in Street Fighter II’s arcade mode if you didn’t get a high enough score when you have to trash the car. It’s not like its particularly hard I guess, but its not quite what I signed up for. Shenmue III
(2019) - After 18 years the long awaited followup to Shenmue II is here, and its...okay. I was pretty positive on Shenmue I and II despite some (Intentionally) frustrating aspects about them
, but I have to say I was looking forward to returning to that kind of game in Shenmue III. And Shenmue III sort of delivers on that, but not quite in the way I expected.
Probably the biggest difference here comes down to how the games were made. Shenmue I and II were not only studio games, there was time when the first Shenmue was the most expensive video game ever made with its estimated $100 million production cost. Shenmue II didn't quite cost that much, but still benefited from systems and such put in place by the first game. Shenmue III on the other hand is straight up an indie game (It was funded through Kickstarter and a deal with Epic Games which is actually located near where me and Gendo live), and from what I can tell online it was made for...much less than $100 million dollars (This isn't even getting into inflation).
Where Shenmue III falters though is that it tries to match the scope of the first two games and it doesn't quite work. Combat for example is somehow worse than the original Shenmue despite coming out 20 years later- you have no throws, enemies just guard a bunch, fighting multiple enemies is a huge pain in the ass because there's no real way to crowd control (At least that I can tell) etc. During noncombat sections too, NPC's don't seem to be given quite as much life- like in Shenmue 1 you could follow any random NPC's entire schedule throughout the day if you wanted to, though that doesn't seem to be the case here.
Some issues can't be explained by budgetary problems though. Shenmue coined the term "QTE" back in 1999, and yet here in 2019 they've made the QTE's bizarrely hard, even on the easiest difficult. Thankfully there's not much punishment for failing a QTE, you can jump right back into them, but still why do they have to be so split-second?
You can't pause during cutscenes either, which is really weird for a new game and caused me to have to rewatch portions on YouTube a few times when I had to get up from the game suddenly.
You're also expected to actual do kung fu training now to raise Ryo's stats, which is really frustrating. They even make you grind it out on the easiest difficulty that's explicitly for just experiencing the story, which is bizarre. While you could raise Ryo's stats in Shenmue I and II, it was never required just to clear the game, but here your stats seem to determine victory more than anything.
The biggest and worst change though is what they've done do HP. During general exploration, your health is CONSTANTLY lowering. And you have to consistently buy food to keep Ryo energized. This carries over into combat too where if stumble into a fight and haven't been keeping Ryo's health up, lol you're about to get pummeled. That's "realistic" I guess, and Shenmue prides itself on sometimes needless realism if nothing else, but its the kind of realism I don't think anyone was asking for. In previous games your health would slowly regenerate during combat too, and that's gone now.
The cutscenes here too are very bizarre and bad. Like during normal dialogue scenes you'll get these weird jump cuts to black in the middle of conversations, but its not to denote time passing or anything because its the SAME conversation still after the cut. Its not for some kind of weird dramatic emphasis either, but its during mundane dialogue about looking for a random stores or something.
Also any time you talk to an NPC and they point you in the direction of a store or signpost or something else, the camera never actually shows you where they're pointing, it stays on the NPC in center frame, just pointing to things the player can't actually see. Just a bunch of a bizarre choices all around.Also the localization is really half-assed.
You get a lot of weird responses from NPC's like that. The original games did not have this problem really.
There doesn't seem to be much actual plot progression in Shenmue III either. You spend literally the entire game looking for a guy that you heard went missing at the end of Shenmue II, and at the end of the game you find him. He then gives you information you already had. Wow. In the process of actually finding the missing guy, your spend most of your time fighting a mid-level gangster and his cronies in a village whom you defeat by getting a martial arts master to teach you a new technique, and then you go to city where you fight a different mid-level gangster and his different cronies whom you defeat by getting a different martial arts master to teach you a different new technique.
And yet despite all these complaints, I still kind of liked the game? Like I think this is easily the worst of the Shenmue three, though there's still something fun about running around fairly dense areas and gradually learning them as you do your low-level detective work. I still think Shenmue I and II did that better mind you, but that aspect is still fun in Shenmue III.
There's a lot of side content in Shenmue III too that I didn't touch, so if I ever get around to replaying this I'm curious to know how different the experience would be if I focused more on that than the main story. Cuphead
(2017) – I feel like I’ve said most of what I wanted to about this game at this point, but I’ll try and summarize. It’s a good game but the minimum of 3 HP just feels too unforgiving, particularly with some of the later bosses like Dr. Kahl’s Robot or King Dice. Like I would gladly sacrifice Simple Mode, which is a truly pointless addition to the game since you can’t even get to the ending by playing it, with a mode that DOESN’T take away boss phases but at least gives you a base of 4 or 5 HP instead of 3.
Still the art style is great, the jazzy soundtrack is great, and its generally an inventive game. But the more obnoxious bosses (Particularly any where the foreground covers any actual threats that could damage you. The very last boss of the game, The Devil, has this problem unfortunately in his first phase) and the kind of bad “run ‘n’ gun” levels do bring it down. Its worth playing but boy the games that Cuphead is mechanically paying tribute to phased out of history for a reason. It would be nice if Cuphead could have kept the difficulty of that era without some of the more tedious bullshit but it doesn't quite accomplish that, sadly.Oh yeah the game might be racist too but I'm not really equipped to judge that.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris