Weekplay 202226

And suddenly, without warning, Eiyuden Chronicle Rising (PS5) ends. That was shorter than anticipated, but considering the questing was not doing anything new near the end I'm kind of relieved. The final plot twist (if you can call it that) doesn’t do much, but it does finally drop some potential political intrigue. It's very blatant almost to the point of fan service, but oh boy, did I get excited for a moment.

I’m now also realising that all those names I gave to stuff are going to pop up in the next game, aren’t they? Which is of course a Suikoden staple, but in this case it'll instantly cause 'member berry' moments in the follow-up. Hoping they might do a bit more with it though.

The ending itself was a let down with little too no build-up and a Spartan presentation that does little to provide a satisfying conclusion. The one thing it does do is explain what CJ’s name stands for, but then they introduce a teaser character with an even worse name than CJ, making me a bit anxious for the follow-up. This series might need an editor.

Due to the proper reveal of Return to Monkey Island, the Steam-bundle of the previous games is currently on sale. Which resulted in me playing through The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition (SD) once more.

First of all, it is great to come back to. I forgot a lot of puzzle solutions, yet they instantly slot back into my mind when certain sentences or situations are presented. That said I do think I prefer the pixel-art style of the original even though this special edition does a better job of showing you what you are supposed to see, making contextual clues work better. Slightly annoying that your inventory is now hidden though.

The real star is of course the script and its humour. It still holds up quite well. Other highlights include encountering the map overview. Mêlée Island™ still has this uncanny festive dark mood with its blacks and purples accentuated by pockets of light (never mind an actual circus tent). It's a great feeling to return to and I think I'll be enjoying this new run just fine. But why on earth the devs thought that new hair-do on Guybrush was a good idea is beyond me…

A smooth shooting experience. That's DOOM (PS4). It's so sleek and lean that it’s impossible to fault. You could say it is "merely" excellent.

Ran through the first episode just for the heck of and yes, it is a joy. Though every time I pull the trigger on the shotgun I mentally add a “bingo!” these days. Thanks, Tim Rogers.

Finding a new town on floor 27 in Dungeon Encounters (PS5) was a new breakthrough moment and I’ve been happily grinding deeper again.

The game has become a bit of a side dish to my usual game sessions. Something to wind down by after spending some more time on grander stuff. Not to say Dungeon Encounters is boring, but it remains a basic, highly entertaining itch scratcher. Likewise, it's great to use as a base level to compare other titles against.

I finally set aside some time for the Live-A-Live Demo Version (NSW) and boy, it did not disappoint. This is a classic Square (Enix) JRPG through and through.

Having never touched the original 16-bit game, I expected a more bitter SaGa taste to it. What I got instead, was something that felt like a precursor to Chrono Trigger's combat system. There's a grid battlefield, positioning matters, and attacks can and will vary in range and effect. All that topped with a chunky ATB implementation that also allows each unit of movement on the grid to function as another tick on the system's clock.

In terms of localization it's a hell of a lot better with Chinese/Japanese pronunciation of names than other games. Though the occasional voiced accent can feel slightly over-the-top. Still, its script manages to feel very comprehensive for a 16-bit remake, with the game only showing its dated origins when even an extended script can't fix the mechanical shortcuts of yesteryear.

The game also features interesting differences between the various eras and characters. Something that adds a welcome variation in style and difficulty to the mix. Yeah, I'm pretty much won over by this demo and I'll happily sink my teeth into the full version.

Playing Live-A-Live also reminded me that I abandoned Gato Roboto (NSW). It was just sitting there mocking me from the last tile in the main menu. I quickly gave it another spin and promptly completed it!

It is a short (around 3 hours) and fun little metroidvania and deploys a 1-bit pixel-art style to boot. Even though that can get rather straining on the eyes. The multiple unlockable colour palettes don't do a damned thing here, other than to remind you that the Virtual Boy was indeed a terrible idea.

Another thing that did stick out a bit, is that in its shortness the game doesn't spend any time in teaching you how to use certain skills. Often you just get dumped into the situation and need to learn as you go. Which is OK if you're into the genre, but it can lead to some crazy difficulty spikes as a newcomer.