deKay's Lofi Gaming

Gaming Diary

Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s different, isn’t it? The last few main Pokémon games have all claimed to be “new” in terms of how they play, with Let’s Go! doing away with proper battles with wild Pokémon, Sun and Moon being properly in 3D and Sword and Shield having the Wild Areas. Arceus is like an extrapolation of those Wild Areas, with several large regions you can freely travel around, seeing Pokémon in the wild doing what they do, and catching them by sneaking up and chucking balls at them.

This mechanic flips the original Pokémon premise on its head. Back then, you’d venture into the long grass and be pounced on by hidden ‘mons, but here it’s you furtively stalking them from the grassy hiding places ready to attack (or catch) when they’re close or distracted. It’s this feature which is the bulk of the gameplay, with different species reacting differently to you. Some, like Starly, will run as soon as you’re spotted. Some, like Aipom, will run up to you and jump around your legs harmlessly. Others will attack on sight, and I mean attack you, not your Pokémon: Another difference to the established norm. You can run away, or chuck out one of your party to fight back, but initially it’s you who can take damage and if you’re hurt too much it’s you that faints, losing some of your gathered items in the process.

They obviously realised there’s no point hiding which attacks are effective and not as everyone would just look them up. So they just tell you now.

Yes, gathered items. Not just potions and balls you have, like in previous games, but crafting materials because all games are crafting games these days. Stuff you pick up, smash open, or get from caught or defeated creatures can be used to make Pokéballs, buffs, food, and so on and although you can buy some of these things, you really don’t have the money to spend on that – at least early on, anyway.

So you wander these large open areas, trapping Pokémon and cock fighting whilst collecting Everything You Can and filling your satchel (which happens a lot, so it’s good you can pay a guy to give you more storage space) with junk and crafting balls and lures and progressing the story. But what is the story?

Well, it’s different to the previous games too. Sure, the details varied from game to game but ultimately every Pokémon title has two main stories. The personal one, where you’ve got to Be the Very Best and beat all the gym leaders and then the Elite Four and become King of All The Pokémon Trainers, and the other one where you have Team Rocket or Team Galactic or Team Skull or whoever doing Evil Deeds and you have to stop them, usually by tracking down some uber-powerful ‘mon and defeating the Team Leader. Then there’s usually some post game content, which basically just gives you the chance to complete your Pokédex. But not here! Well, not quite.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the past. A few hundred years in the past, in fact, in what would eventually be called the Sinnoh Region (the setting for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl) for reasons that become clear in the game, but is here still referred to as the Hisui Region. You appear in this world, plucked from parts (and times) unknown by Arceus at the start of the game and dropped out of the sky onto a beach just outside Jubilife Village – the seed of Jubilife City from Diamond/Pearl of course. The village is where a group of explorers, scientists and surveyors calling themselves Galaxy Team (waitaminite…) have set themselves up as an outpost in the region, wedging in between the previously-warring-but-now-more-tolerant two factions of Diamond Clan and Pearl Clan. See, it’s clever, yes?

How do you calm a frenzied Pokémon? Balms to the face.

Both clans worship the great Creator, whom they call Sinnoh, but one clan thinks it’s basically the God of Time and the other thinks it’s the God of Space. Without spoilering, they’re both right and wrong. You make friends with both Galaxy Team members and these clans throughout your adventure, which is part you trying to figure out where you came from, and trying to stop the seemingly impending doom caused by the lightning in the sky over Mount Sinnoh which you may actually be the cause of. Mostly, this involves Pokémon battles, catching Pokémon, and boss fights against massive raging Pokémon where you chuck parcels of food at their face until they calm down because of course you do. Oh, and Arceus, aside from sometimes making your “phone” device bleep occasionally, is never to be seen again. Well, not until after the main story is complete perhaps – that’s how far I’ve got.

There’s no gyms. There aren’t really even many trainers. Most people are still scared of Pokémon (and, given they’re all shown as Actual Size, who wouldn’t be) and Pokéballs are still a new invention so the many varieties like Master Balls and Net Balls and so on don’t exist yet. You can ride a handful of beasts that you obtain through the story which allow you to swim, run, jump and fly and so reach new areas. It all feels very fresh and new and yet – and yet – it’s still somehow Pokémon and feels like a Pokémon game even though it’s very different. It’s polished, although some areas are a little lacking graphically, and a bit repetitive with the Pokédex research tasks that require multiple battles or captures with each type of Pokémon and resource gathering, but then if you’re concerned about repetition you wouldn’t be playing Pokémon.

As I said, I’ve completed the story insofar as I’ve done all the missions up to the credits, but now there’s the small task of catching them all. And a million side quests and some additional story. And maybe, actually, Arceus itself.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a fantastic new entry in the series, albeit a spinoff. It’s new and old at the same time, and if the recently announced main series games Scarlet and Violet can use some of the same features then I’d love to see that too. If not, a sequel to this set in another region’s past would absolutely do me.

Super Fantasy Zone (Switch): COMPLETED!

This was hard. I’ve played it before but I don’t remember it being this difficult. In fact, last time I said this:

So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games 

Which is proof I’m an actual liar because no, no it is not. It’s bloody hard and even with saving each level I barely made it through. That said, the bosses were pretty easy – it’s the levels themselves which are virtually impossible to move five pixels without dying. Again. And again.

It was still fun though, despite all that. You can’t hate the blue skies and twinkly happy musics even if you are struggling to progress.

Metal Slug 2nd Mission (Switch): COMPLETED!

And now the sequel! It’s basically more of the same, but there are plenty of changes which improve on it. Firstly, you press pause to actually chuck a grenade (or “pineapple”, as the VO says) rather than use it to swap weapon. This makes it much easier to make use of! You can still pause by holding the button.

Secondly, there’s voices. Like the original Big Boy NeoGeo games, you get sound samples of “Heavy Machinegun!” and “Rocket Lawn Chair!” when you pick them up, which might not sound like much but it makes a big difference.

The game is also a fair bit longer than 1st Mission, doesn’t have as many “maze” missions, and reintroduces the aliens from Metal Slug 2 which were missing from 1st Mission. Your character has more colours too – I assume they mesh two or more sprites together to achieve this. While the first game is still excellent, this is better in so many ways!

Metal Slug 1st Mission (Switch): COMPLETED!

The two NeoGeo Pocket Metal Slug games are both much, much easier than the “proper” NeoGeo games in the series, and they’re also as much about platforming as running and shooting, which differs from the big versions too. They are, however, still both excellent on the tiny screen.

I’ve completed them both before (a few times, I expect), but I hadn’t remembered much from the actual levels. There are a couple where the layout is basically a maze, which was a bit annoying as I got lost and all the baddies respawn, and having to press pause to swap between gun and grenade was not ideal, but 1st Mission was a lot of fun.

SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, another NeoGeo Pocket game from that Switch compilation. And it seems I’d completed this previously – twice in fact. Like all the other fighting games on the NeoGeo Pocket, it’s very good, although they don’t half do a lot of asset reuse. At least in this one they had to create all the Capcom fighters from scratch though!

I played through it three times. First as Ken, then as Mai, then as Leona, getting the ending for each, Of course, Ken is best.

Dark Arms (Switch): COMPLETED!

This game is one I have for the NeoGeo Pocket and I remember I enjoyed it at the time, but don’t remember much about it. Aside from you shoot baddies to get souls which upgrade your guns. Seems, now I’ve completed it on the NeoGeo Pocket Colour Selection on the Switch, that really that’s all there is to it.

OK, so not quite. There’s a story which is badly translated and makes little sense, and you don’t just have a gun, you have some other weapons which you can swap between like “a big alien arm thing” and “some sort of shield I think”. But you do just go round various areas like a graveyard and a cave and a haunted house shooting (or “big alien arming”) ghosts, demons, witches, zombies, and other evil and/or undead creatures.

There’s a day and night cycle, with different characters and foes appearing at one or the other, and because of the terrible text in the game it’s a bit tricky to understand what you need to do so you basically have to wander the whole of each area several times over both day and night to make sure you’ve done everything. This may sound tedious, and it is a little, but you have to grind to improve your weapons anyway so it’s actually not too bad.

Then, when you’ve defeated the final boss it turns out that’s not the end of the game as you have to find a load of (harmless but hidden) witches to combine them together to resurrect something which isn’t really explained. So I did that and got the One True Ending.

Dark Arms was, overall, less fun than I remember but I still enjoyed it.

Aggelos (Switch): COMPLETED!

Or, “I can’t believe it’s not Wonder Boy”. Since it is, in almost every way, a Wonder Boy game. You’re a boy, with a sword, and you collect money and buy better armour and unlock abilities and it looks like a 16 bit Wonder Boy game and it plays like one and sounds like one.

But, it’s a bit slicker. It has a few improvements (like warps). It isn’t as impossible as Wonder Boy in Monster Land. But, it’s still good. Really good.

The plot is generic “find X items and banish the dark”, but it plays out in an explore the overworld, beat four “dungeons” sort of way (so is actually a little more like Zelda II in that respect, I suppose). There are massive bosses, silly side characters, and a pig who runs a pub who says you’re too young to drink there.

There’s no outstanding features, but it’s all well put together and enjoyable in a Metroidvania type way, and I do like games that are in the Metroidvania way,

Big Tournament Golf (Switch): COMPLETED!

Although I don’t like golf at all, I’ve always enjoyed a good golf game. From PGA European Tour on the Amiga, which I don’t even remember buying, through Mario Gold, NES Golf, Golf Story, and so on. One of my favourites is Neo Turf Masters for the NeoGeo Pocket, which is the Other Region name for this – Big Tournament Golf.

To be enjoyable, golf games need to be simple. Choose a club, aim, press a button to swing, set power, then set accuracy. That’s it. And Big Tournament Golf does exactly this with no fuss. There are three courses, with increasing difficulty, although actually none of them are really very hard. I completed them all over a couple of weeks, coming first in the tournaments for each.

Blaster Master Zero 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s been a few years since I completed the first Blaster Master Zero, because for some reason I forgot to buy the sequel. I have now rectified that and so here is my post. Like the original, it was great. Unlike the original, it was more fragmented, in that it was made up of lots of small levels (mostly separate planets) rather than a handful of large maps. It was still Metroidvania-y though, and a lot of fun with some great bosses.

The levels had plenty of variety, with one of them actually existing as two separate levels that had maps that intermingled. Each was in a different “phase”, so that was interesting and unusual.

After completing it, it was clear I got some sort of bad ending, so had to look up how to get the good ending – turns out you have to finish a handful of side missions, which then unlocks the real final boss.

Now to wait for Blaster Master Zero 3 to come down in price!

Design Update

A few tweaks to the layout, slider and homepage. Just seemed silly to have everything duplicated three times!

Guardians of the Galaxy (PS5): COMPLETED!

After the reports of how terrible the Avengers game was, and how in this game you only get to play (directly) as Star-Lord, Guardians of the Galaxy went right off my radar. Then I saw some positive reviews, and a lot of people were saying that actually, it was great. And they were right.

But first, some downers. You can only play as Star-Lord, with the rest of the team effectively acting as special attacks. Every level is a linear corridor with obviously sign-posted areas where you’re attacked. The combat isn’t great, especially when it comes to the camera and lock-on. There are plenty of “get stuck in objects” bugs, and sometimes the “activate object” trigger requires far too much character repositioning before it works.

However, it’s really, really good. Mainly because of the banter between the Guardians, partly because of the ridiculous plot, somewhat because of the fantastic mostly 80s soundtrack, and a little because it, in places, looks so damn good. It’s genuinely hilarious, from Mantis calling Rocket “little fuzzy” to the Space Llama eating the ship to the ship’s fridge door constantly needing to be shut, to Drax’s reading glasses. It’s not the GotG you know from the film, or the cartoon, or even the comic, but it’s close enough to some of those things without needing to be the same. There’s recognisable ancillary characters (like Cosmo), enemies (like Fin Fang Foom) and back story, but not so similar that you know exactly where the story is going.

It’s a mid-tier third person shooter, but with so much atmosphere and such fantastic dialogue that you can forgive where it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, I finally caved and bought Mario Kart 8 again. I have it for the Wii U so didn’t really need it on the Switch, but then they went and announced a load of new tracks will be coming to it and it was 33% off so here we are.

It’s the same as on the Wii U. Only you don’t get a screen each in two player and all the cups, tracks and characters are unlocked from the start. I’ve been through and come first in all the cups in 50, 100 and 150cc (so that’s more than enough to consider it “completed”), but haven’t played much of Mirror or 200cc yet.

Best character is Tanooki Mario with all his default kart options.

Touhou Luna Nights (Switch): COMPLETED!

Apparently this is an authorised fan-game based on the Touhou shooter series, but none of that means anything to me. I was just keeping an eye on it because it looked like an interesting Metroidvania game, and as it turns out, it is.

Plot is something something fake castle world something baddie something, but what that means is Castlevania without a Dracula. It’s very similar to Castlevania, even having some similar areas (like a clock tower) and enemies (like Frankenstein’s monster and skeletons), and of course it has blocked areas you need items or upgrades to access.

What’s different is in the abilities of your character. She can slow and stop time, for one thing. And “graze” enemies and projectiles in which to replenish energy. Or, graze them when time is stopped to replenish magic points. And you’ll need to replenish magic a lot, because all your attacks use it. The time stop power is also used in environmental “puzzles” too, as some objects and enemies aren’t frozen, some are frozen, and some only move (or move backwards) when time is stopped. There’s a lot of hidden room finding too, and of course a map to fill in 100%.

I completed it, and then discovered that there’s a whole extra area afterwards which I think was DLC in the original PC version of the game, so of course I had to finish that too. The end boss was especially tricky (in her second form, anyway), but I managed it. And then I went and found the few remaining areas and items to get 100%.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and it’s certainly different to play compared to how it looks – not a “standard” Metroidvania by any means.

Deiland (Switch): COMPLETED!

Set in the same universe as Summer in Mara, Deiland starts out as superficially similar – chop down trees, smash rocks, grow crops – but set on a tiny planet instead of a big sea. There’s no exploration, and you only have a couple of small areas of other planets you can travel to as the story progresses, and also unlike Summer in Mara, there’s combat.

Every so often, baddies will spawn on your little planet and you have to defeat them. If you don’t, they knock you out and nick some of your resources. They’re not hard to deal with, however, and healing is easy – just stand next to a fire for a bit.

You’ll get visitors in space ships, including a few characters who were also in Summer on Mara, who act as both quest givers and shops. Quest are almost always of the form “collect X” or “create Y”, but because you don’t need to travel far, they’re less drawn out as in Mara.

It’s a simpler game than Mara, but it’s different. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much, but it’s still worth playing.

Millie and Molly (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a simple little platform puzzle game with 100 levels. It’s similar to Fire ‘N Ice, Solomon’s Key, and Catrap in terms of gameplay, although in this game you can’t step up blocks and you can’t jump. Also, many of the levels let you use two characters (Millie and Molly, of course) with one frozen, so can be used as a “block”, while you control the other.

The aim is to defeat all the enemies (simply by touching them) on each single screen level, with some of them floating in the air and others “dropping” when you kick away blocks underneath them. The puzzle element is how you accomplish this, as you need to decide the order in which to touch them as once they’re gone you can’t stand on them, and when to kick kickable blocks or dig dig-able blocks. Some of the levels are very clever in that you think you’ve done it, only you realise at the end you made a mistake right at the start! Thankfully, there are infinite lives and infinite rewind to save on the frustration normally associated with these games.

Although the developer suggested the game is hard, I only struggled on three or four levels, with level 99 being hair-tearingly difficult. That’s not to say I found it easy, but it certainly wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting. I did, however, very much enjoy it and hope there’s either a sequel or some extra levels as DLC in the works.