Games I've Beaten in 2018
Back in my New Years Resolutions 2018 I said that I intended to beat 10 games this year, because “That backlog needs a dent in it, seriously.” Well, I’m happy to say that I not only managed to pull it off, I also managed to beat 3 additional games on top of that! …and yes, there are way more important and impressive goals on that list but just let me have this one, alright?
I thought I’d write down some thoughts and impressions on each game I beat this year, so that’s what I’m gonna do!
1. Sadame (3DS)
I stumbled upon this one by pure accident. A sale was happening on the Nintendo eShop and I was idly browsing around, trying to spend those last couple bucks I had kicking around my account when I suddenly saw a game called Sadame. I’d never heard of it before, but it looked like a hack and slash set in ancient Japan, which intrigued me. But I was even more intrigued by the fact that I hardly found any talk about the game online…could this be a diamond in the rough, sneakily localized to be discovered by connoisseurs of obscure Japanese games?
Well it’s no diamond, but I did have fun with it despite not being a fan of loot fests. It starts off slow with simple controls but the game does open up when you stick with it. It’s simply cathartic to one-hit a pile of enemies or cut down a boss ten times more massive than you. It’s no classic, but if you like the look and setting of the game and enjoy hacking and slashing foes to relieve them of valuables, then I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out.
2. Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4)
Ah yes, the dark sheep of the series. I’ve never beaten this one when it came out, I just didn’t like it as much as the first one. I’m not sure what it was, something just felt off. But I decided to buckle down, reload my old save and plow through the thing including its DLC. And in the end I’m very glad I did, because Dark Souls 2 did grow on me quite a bit. It didn’t wow me the way DS1 had, but then what game could have?
Dark Souls 2 was a very fun romp. The bosses were a tad uninspired in places and some of them were too easy, but I had enough fun dual-wielding Katanas to not care too much. Besides, the easy boss fights were compensated by those that had you fight multiple enemies at once…Old Chaos was a nightmare, let me tell you.
Oh and I’ve actually really enjoyed the lore of DS2. If you’re interested I’d highly recommend the lore videos by VaatiVidya. To sum up, I’m really glad I went back to this one. The game gets better the longer you play and ends up being really damn good, even if it never does reach the lofty depths of its predecessor.
3. Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper (PC)
I have my girlfriend to thank for this one. I’ve never really paid attention to any of these Sherlock Holmes games made by Frogwares as they looked like cheap shovelware at first glance. But she was really nostalgic about these games so last year we sat down to play Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. I got hooked and since then we’ve beaten The Case of the Silver Earring and now this one!
The game has a really good atmosphere, foggy old Whitechapel really doesn’t seem like a place you’d like to spend too much time in; outside of a video game I mean. Puzzles were always fair and solvable as far as I can remember and the story cleverly mixed fiction with fact to make it feel authentic without becoming dry edutainment fare.
One amusing tidbit was the way you examined corpses. Jack the Ripper really, really went to town on some of his victims and letting you poke around the mutilated bodies would have really pushed the game to the mature end of the rating spectrum. So instead of working with actual bodies you look at chalk drawings and/or “ghostly” silhouettes of the victims. Things can still get rather graphic though, so this one isn’t exactly for players with a vivid imagination and weak stomachs. However, if you like point and click adventures I’d highly recommend checking the series out and if you can stomach it, this is a good one to start with.
4. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
I’ve been a bit late to the party with this one. I had this kicking around on my shelf for quite a while and when Super Mario Odyssey came out I finally got off my ass to play it. It’s really good, but nothing too special in my opinion. The visuals are amazing, the level design should be featured in textbooks and the new cat powerup is actually quite cool. However the game just doesn’t feel as fresh or interesting as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine or Mario Galaxy were. It’s an amazing platformer but not much more than a solid Mario game. Definitely give it a spin if you still have a Wii U gathering dust though! Then again, you’ve probably played it way before I did.
5. Wario Land 2 (GBC)
Talk about being late to the party… the only Wario platformers I had played so far were Master of Disguise and The Shake Dimension so I felt it was high time I go back to the past and see why people loved the original Wario games so much. After picking up Wario Land 2 on the eShop and beating it, I can see why!
It’s a solid but unconventional platformer with lots of charm. Having Wario be invincible sounds like the most backwards idea ever for an action game, but it works and encourages you to experiment and explore. And that’s what this game is about. It’s also amazing how much content there is in the game! After I’ve beaten it I was suddenly placed on a map screen that told me I had barely beaten half of what the game had to offer. Finding secret exits will take you to hidden worlds and can even result in different final bosses and endings! It’s one amazing package and I’ll definitely have to pick up the other Wario Land titles as well.
6. Ninja Blade (Xbox 360)
Anyone remember this? I played the demo back in the day and had fun, but the game kinda felt like a cheap Ninja Gaiden knockoff…and reviews weren’t exactly glowing, so it just dropped off my radar. But when I saw it sitting on a shelf in a used games store I decided to just pick it up and see if I had missed out on anything. Turns out I did.
Now to be clear, the game does feel like a cheaper Ninja Gaiden because that’s pretty much what it is. However, the core gameplay is fun enough to forgive the rough edges Ninja Blade does have. Well, the gameplay and the style. The game is set in the future, so you have this whole cyber Ninja thing going on which is pretty damn cool. The game also features a ton of kick-ass cinematic sequences that’ll have you surf on missiles, throw wrecking balls around and grind with motorcycles, just to name a few. Unfortunately these sequences are realized through quick time events, which—and I think we can finally all agree on this—are just a bit of a shit mechanic. But because these scenes are so over the top (and also quite lengthy at times) they started to feel like old FMV games. Think Road Avenger with Ninjas.
If you like Ninja action and find this game for cheap, give it a try. I had a lot of fun with it and so might you!
7. Slaps and Beans (Switch)
Probably the most obscure game on the list, at least for those of you living outside of Europe. Slaps and Beans is a beat ‘em up based on the films by Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, an Italian duo that specialized in laid-back comedies with lots of brawling. While their films have been released overseas, I don’t think they’ve ever gained as big a cult following as they have in Europe. If you’re a film buff you might remember They Call me Trinity but if you’re in Germany, there’s no way you’ve never heard of these guys. Slaps and Beans is their first official video game and if you’re a fan, it’s an amazingly satisfying experience. If you’re not…well, it’s still a solid beat ‘em up.
The graphics are very charming and the entire thing is full of references and in-jokes. The characters play as they should, with wildly different play styles and moves. The music is taken directly from the films, there’s mini-games to liven things up and you can beat up dudes using other dudes as a weapon. I’ve had an absolute blast playing this one with my dad, but I am of course very biased. I know it doesn’t hold a candle to Streets of Rage and the like, and the performance (at least on the Switch) can be absolutely abysmal at times.
Still, if you’re a fan, get this game. If you’re not but want a fun beat ‘em up, maybe watch some footage online before you make a decision! Oh and if you want to get a rough feel for Bud & Terence’s movies, here’s the opening scene of Trinity is Still my Name.
8. Rayman Origins (PS3)
Bought this game when it came out, liked it, never beat it. I’m not sure why, I kinda just forgot it existed. The other day I decided to pop it back in, start from the beginning…and then had it beaten 2 days later. What can I say? It’s beautiful, charming and just a very solid and fun platformer. Some of the music got rather annoying after a while, but I was able to tune it out because the rest of the game is just good. Not much else to say about it, really. If you like platformers, play it.
9. Dying Light (PS4)
I take ages to finish open world sandbox-type games because I tend to get bored of them quite quickly. This was no different for Dying Light, which took me…more than a year I think? That said, it’s a very good game and one of the best open world experiences I’ve had. The world is believable and super fun to explore, as there are a lot of nooks and crannies hiding all sorts of goodies. You’ll improve your skills and learn new ones over time that change the way the game is played. Why sneak around zombies when you can just plow through them with a shoulder tackle?
The parkour system works very well, I had a blast just running and bouncing my way through the city. Combat is hectic and dangerous, giving the game a survival horror vibe that I really appreciate. The atmosphere is amazing and there were quite a few memorable moments that’ll stick with me for some time. Yes, there are waaaay too many zombie games, but this is one definitely worth checking out.
10. Resident Evil Revelations (PS4)
The Resident Evil franchise has made me poo my pants since the very first installment and I’ve always had a very soft spot for its goofy storylines and corny dialogue. While Resident Evil 4 was a classic in its own right, RE5 and RE6 pretty much just turned into over the top Hollywood spectacles. I still appreciated the story, but it was a watered down experience. Resident Evil: Revelations is better than both of them, as far as I’m concerned.
I haven’t played the original on the 3DS as I didn’t want to shell out for a Circle Pad Pro, then I kinda forgot the game existed until I saw it on sale for PS4. I’m glad I picked it up because I enjoyed it a whole lot. To me the game is a very good mix of old and new Resident Evil: It has the creepy, methodical survival horror elements of the first few games while not shying away from full-blown spectacle and action scenes when the story calls for it. To me it was essentially a best-of-two-worlds scenario. And the cruise ship setting is one I’ve already enjoyed in Dead Aim so I was glad to see it return, along with a story that’s RE-dumb. Overall a very enjoyable game.
11. Assault Suit Leynos (PS4)
A remake of a Mega Drive game I’ve never played, Assault Suit Leynos is a 2D mech platforming shooting thing that stays true to its roots. By that I mean that the game is tough as nails, but rewardingly so. How tough you ask? I’ve failed the tutorial multiple times. Yes, really.
Luckily the actual game was not as punishing, even if it was still quite difficult at times. Once you get into the groove it’s a lot of fun to blow up enemy mechs and ships and the unlockable weapons add some variety. Overall I’d recommend the game if you’re looking for some old-school tough 2D action and find a cheap copy somewhere.
12. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Xbox 360)
Talk about forgettable. I took cover, shot at enemies, moved on to the next bit of cover and then the game was over. Eh.
I’m sure the game is a lot more fun with friends, but then so is getting kicked in the balls. Not to imply that this is a bad game, because it’s not. It’s just a very basic and slightly janky one that can still provide a fun time if you lower your standards and have a fondness for the RE universe. Which is pretty much the only reason I played this one.
13. Gray Matter (PC)
The first time I stumbled upon this game was when I downloaded the demo on Xbox 360 ages ago, only to promptly forget about it and the game for the next 8 years. Whoops. But now I’ve played through the entire thing and can say that it’s certainly one of the best point and click adventure games in recent memory, certainly better than Syberia. The puzzles are fair and clever, the story is an interesting mesh of magic, science and the supernatural and the characters are written fairly well. It’s a rock-solid experience that features some nice visuals to boot, so if you’re into point and clicks, do check this game out.
And that was my 2018 gaming-wise! Well, game-beating-wise anyway. A rather strange mix looking back, but I’ve had fun. Now if only I hadn’t bought more than 13 games this year, then my backlog would have actually received a dent ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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If you’ve popped over to the tutorial section recently you might have noticed that I’ve added my very first HaxeFlixel tutorial! It shows how to implement a simple, pixel-perfect 2D water shader which I used for Go! Go! PogoGirl. But a few of you might be wondering what a HaxeFlixel is. Well, it’s a 2D game framework that is as powerful as it is underrated! It runs on the (also underrated) Haxe language, is extremely well documented, open source, and has built-in functions for almost anything you’d need.
As I’m sure many of you will remember, the original Streets of Rage for the Mega Drive had multiple endings. The real canonical ending has you beat the crap out of Mr. X, thereby ending his reign of terror forever (yeah, right). However, if you confronted Mr. X with a buddy in tow, a new possible path unlocked. A quick refresher is in order. When you confront Mr. X he will ask you to join his organization.
A few years ago, Yuzo Koshiro posted a pile of old game design documents for Bare Knuckle 2 aka Streets of Rage 2 on the Ancient blog to commemorate the release of Streets of Rage 2 3D on the Nintendo 3DS. These documents gave a deep insight into the game’s inner workings, technical aspects, designs and even some cut content. They were an awesome resource for one of the most awesome games ever created.