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

I was sure I’d never completed this before, but as I got to the three “guards” just before the Geese/Bison double fight, I realised I had played it before. See.

Not only that, but I chose Ken to play as this time too. Because of course I would. He’s Ken!

Looking at my post from a couple of years ago though, it seems I really struggled in the final few battles last time. No such trouble this time around. Well, I mean, they weren’t a walkover but each of the guards/Geese-Bison/Iori only took a handful of attempts each.

 

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Wonder Boy in Monster Land (MS): COMPLETED!

Another game I’ve completed before, but not recently and certainly not as frequently as Mega-lo-Mania.

Helpfully, I totally missed getting the bell so had to rely on mainly faulty memory to make it through the castle at the end. I’d stocked up on Thunderflashes though, which makes taking out the dragon a lot easier when I finally got to him.

Great game, but overshadowed now by the far better Dragon’s Trap remake.

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Mega-lo-Mania (MD): COMPLETED!

I must complete this every year, I think. There’s little need to mention much about the game really, except to say that 1) I played as Scarlet, and 2) once again I reached the final level as the only person to actually put any of my men in suspended animation. Meaning another instant win.

One day, someone else will manage it. One day.

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Pulseman (MD): COMPLETED!

What’s this? A Mega Drive game I’ve never heard of? Surely not. Especially since it was written by Game Freak and published by Sega themselves. How come I’d never seen it before? Perhaps it’s because it was Japan-only?

Well, despite being Japan-only, and all the dialogue in the game being in Japanese, all the speech (and there’s a lot) is in English. Which begs more questions – why wasn’t this released outside of Japan? Bizarre.

The game itself plays like a cross between Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. Pulseman himself looks absolutely nothing like Zero from the Mega Man games, and none of the levels look anything like Aquatic Ruin, Green Hill Zone and Casino Night at all. Unlike both those games, though, Pulseman is badly animated and movement is jerky. He’s got a swipe attack and a weird backflip thing (during which he’s invulnerable), but the main gimmick for the game is his ability to charge himself up with electricity and use it mainly to become a ball that bounces round the screen.

To charge, Pulseman can either run a short distance or perform a dash. The ball he turns in to can then be used to reach higher platforms, break through certain walls, or travel along wires. There’s a power up which allows Pulseman to remain charged indefinitely, so long as you don’t die or finish the level.

Speaking of levels, they’re varied and some look incredible. In particular, backgrounds are often made up of the sort of sine-wavey trickery demo scene stuff tends to do. It’s occasionally distracting (on one later level seemingly on purpose) but it looks really clever. On the casino level you wonder how they squeezed so many colours out of a Mega Drive.

Jerkiness aside, it’s a fun game. Not too hard, sometimes frustrating (mainly due to leaps of faith or those baddies that follow you round discharging you all the time), and with lots of “wow” moments with the graphics.

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Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)

It’s widely known (he says, as a nobody on the internet) that I’m a massive fan of Hyrule Warriors. Not really the musou genre generally – just Hyrule Warriors. Such a big fan of it that I’ve put over 300 hours into the game across the four copies that I own. I thought the draw was mainly the characters from the Zelda series, but here’s Fire Emblem Warriors proving that to be nonsense.

On the face of it, Fire Emblem Warriors is a reskin of Hyrule Warriors. This makes sense, as it’s the same team making the same genre of game, but it’s very similar. Sure, the characters are different (although many are similar in how they play) and the levels are new (except most feel very much like remixed old levels), but it’s the same game. Isn’t it?

That’s what I thought. When I completed it I posted about some differences then, but having played for more than 80 hours now I’m thinking they’re even more separated. In fact, I think I might even like this more. Blasphemy, I know. Perhaps it’s the tactics, the directing commanders, the weapon triangle.

In terms of progress, having bought all the DLC, I’ve S-ranked 100% two of the scenarios in History Mode, S-ranked all of the “normal” (that is, non-time-distortion extra) levels in another two, and almost 100% S-ranked two more. I’ve then done almost all the level-70 and below missions in some other scenarios. I think perhaps I’m 75% there?

Certainly it’s a repetitive game, but no two levels are quite the same regardless of how similar they are. And it’s the best game.

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West of Loathing (Switch): COMPLETED!

A black and white stick-man role playing game set in a warped version of the Wild West where demon cows attack and there’s goblins, skeletons and necromancy and folks make their fortune mining meat? I mean, it’s a cliche setup for a game already. How could it possibly stand above the hordes of other similar titles?

I jest of course because my god is this one strange, silly game. What with quests where you must find a bowtie, or round up some cultists, or get a lumber permit for a town from another town using the most repetitive (and intentionally so) amount of to-ing and fro-ing you can imagine. All the while facing standard turn-based RPG combat against terribly drawn creatures and bandits (and sometimes inanimate statues) where your array of weapons include a pistol you found in a toilet and a club fashioned from a cactus.

OK, perhaps not so standard.

It’s not weird for the sake of weird either. In the madness of the world it all, pretty much, makes sense. The humour is spot on, poking fun at wild west, RPG and stupid pointless quest tropes. It even sticks itself in the ribs many times. West of Loathing is a genuinely funny game, never forced – except when it is on purpose and it groans with you at the terrible jokes or puns. There’s a lot of text but it’s all worth reading. One-note remarks, jokes that half-hidden or implied, punchlines you see a mile away but occasionally don’t even come because they’re so obvious. Silly stuff, like how every bottle of sarsaparilla you pick up is spelt differently because who the hell spells it correctly the first time?

West of Loathing isn’t all about the chuckles, though. The game is a decent, solid play too. The RPG mechanics are basic but through the class and levelling systems there’s an array of perks and skills you can unlock, upgrade and make use of. I’m not sure this element (although a major part of the game) alone would make it playable, but with the world and humour it is elevated to something approaching genius. Too often “funny games” can be hilarious but terrible to play, or great mechanically but the wit is grating, but West of Loathing manages a balance of both. Even the graphical style – which looks like they’ve barely bothered to even try and draw a game properly – works really well. They’ve even added a colour-blindness option in the settings. For a game 99% in black and white. Amazing.

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Rogue Aces (Switch): COMPLETED!

Well, the “Frontline Campaign” completed, at least. I’m not sure the other modes are completable? Anyway, I completed it.

And good grief was it hard. It plays out as a grid of islands, each one like a miniature normal mode, only there are a fixed number of targets to take out. Once you’ve done that, you move onto taking over another island, heading from the bottom left of the map to the top right. As you do so, the enemy head from the top right to the bottom left.

It starts out pretty easy, but once the enemy reaches you, a Baron – a highly powered up fighter plane – seeks you out on the level and really makes it difficult. I found taking him out needed to be top priority.

The final level on the map was utter chaos with many, many retreats due to being almost shot to pieces. Eventually I took everything out and won the war.

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Picross S (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s hardly innovative, being yet another game in the long line of Picross titles from Jupiter. And after Picross e to Picross e7, as well as a few others, you’d think I’d be fed up of Picross games by now, right? Well, no.

In fact, Picross S is in some ways a step beck from the 3DS games. There’s no Micross mode for a start. It also doesn’t make use of the massive Switch screen to allow huge Picross puzzles – 20×15 is your lot here.

But that doesn’t really matter all that much, as it’s Picross and Picross is great. Besides, there are more puzzles here than in any previous game (although I suspect many are repeats), and I got around 25 hours out of it. Picross S2 now, please.

Although I do have Picross e8 to get now too.

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Metal Slug 2nd Mission (NGPC): COMPLETED!

As well as completing 1st Mission, I thought I’d do 2nd Mission. Makes sense. It’s good, too.

I think I was misremembering how good, though. I was pretty certain it was better in almost every way than 1st Mission, but no. Certainly, the addition of speech, more levels, and two characters to choose from are improvements. Changing the Start button from “toggle between guns and grenades” to “throw grenade” is definitely for the best. However, the levels seem less interesting for the most part, and some – like the prison and the factory – are just rubbish. In addition, many of the bosses are just those from the original again.

They also seemed to add a lot more colour to the game, especially the player character, but this just makes them garish. The animation on the new alien foes, though, is super smooth as they sort of tear open and vomit goo. No, really.

On balance, it’s still excellent. It’s just not quite as impressive or fun as the first game.

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Metal Slug 1st Mission (NGPC): COMPLETED!

The Neo Geo Pocket had some great versions of Neo Geo games. They were reimaginings of them rather than ports, and played to the little handheld’s strengths.

Metal Slug 1st Mission looks and feels like the “grown up” version, only is more platformy, a bit less shooty, and much easier. That’s not to say it’s easy, it’s just the original Metal Slug was definitely a bit of a coin chomper. Sadly, there’s no speech, but that’s a small loss.

The levels are varied, with some needing exploration, some straightforward left-to-right jumping and shooting, a few sideways scrolling shooter sections, and some massive bosses. In some ways it feels a bit more like Mega Man than Metal Slug (not least when you get to the disappearing block section), but that’s OK as Mega Man is great too.

Oh, and it looks amazing. That NGPC could really make some pretty games. Just look at the sunset here, for example:

You can’t see from the screenshots, but the animation is awesome too, especially on you and the soldiers. The cute “SD” Metal Slug tank and jet look fantastic as well.

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