What I'm Playing - No. 74
Image source: Magda Ehlers

What I'm Playing - No. 74

Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!

This past week was just full of gaming for me. I played 4 games, and of those 4 finished 3 of them!

There are spoilers for the second half of Beyond Good & Evil here, so I wouldn’t recommend reading that section if you’d like to remain spoiler-free for that game.

Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:

Beyond Good & Evil (PC)

This is the first game I finished this week! It was a cool blast-from-the-past for me since I’m pretty nostalgic for the GameCube/PS2/Xbox era.

finished nostalgic

I didn’t mention it last week, but there are a few stealth sections throughout the story. These were usually pretty fun, with only a couple of frustrating instances. Luckily if you get discovered, it’s easy to flee from the enemies and they give up the chase pretty easily and return to their posts quickly. Also, if you die you restart at the last checkpoint, and these are frequent so dying doesn’t become frustrating.

stealth sections usually pretty fun

Towards the end you get a spaceship, and flying around the map in it was pretty cool! It’s pretty late in the game that you get it though. You can reach a few more areas once you have it, but for the most part it’s just used to reach the final area of the game: the moon.

flying around the map the moon

The story featured some hard-hitting emotional scenes. The “Lighthouse scene” was especially memorable. Jade returns to her home, the Lighthouse, to find that it’s been destroyed by the enemy. The orphaned kids she and Pey’j looked after have been kidnapped by the DomZ. She sits down dejected by a wall and talks to her dog, Woof, who was not captured. She talks to Woof about how he couldn’t protect the kids, even though he swore he would keep them safe, and about how he’s still here safe and sound even though the kids are not. It’s such a great way of showing how Jade is feeling, because she’s obviously talking about herself and not Woof. Jade’s line near the end is really good too, she says “Did you think you’d actually be able to make a difference?” and it’s just so sad. After all this though, Jade still finds the resolves to pick herself up and continue her fight, because she can’t give up now! A lot of people can still be saved from the DomZ, and she has to fight for their sake.

destroyed She sits down dejected by a wall and talks to her dog

Beyond Good & Evil was great! It’s not perfect due to the sometimes frustrating camera and stealth segments, but it’s still quite good. It also didn’t overstay its welcome; I finished it in 9 and a half hours, so it’s not too long. I’m really glad I finally played it, and now I’m a bit curious to see how the in development Beyond Good & Evil 2 turns out.

Beyond Good & Evil not perfect quite good

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (PC)

I played through this cool little metroidvania. It reminded me of Cave Story with its graphics and of Hollow Knight with its combat. Dodging in combat is very important and you can dodge through enemies and their attacks. It also features some challenging boss battles, which furthers the Hollow Knight comparison, but combat overall seemed more forgiving than in Hollow Knight since you can heal instantly several times before your healing item needs to be recharged at a save point. What’s interesting is that Hollow Knight came out almost a year after this game.

cool little metroidvania challenging boss battles combat

I love the classic metroidvania map system. It’s a grid like in Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night. I also really enjoyed the power-ups you get. They’re tied to the 4 Crest Fragment collectibles that you need to find in order to unlock the final areas of the map, and each one also unlocks a new ability. Most of the abilities don’t actually allow you to reach new areas, but the mid-air dodge did seem to be required to reach some places. There’s also equipment that provides passive bonuses, and the items you find run out of uses but get recharged at save points. Plus, one of these items lets you turn into a cat to reach new areas, and that was pretty cool. Like other metroidvanias, there are also optional health upgrades hidden around the map that increase your maximum health.

map system Crest Fragment turn into a cat health upgrades hidden around the map

To wrap up, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight featured really nice pixel art with extremely smooth animations! It was short but satisfying, and included all the major things I enjoy in a metroidvania! I’d definitely recommend it to anybody looking for another metroidvania to play.

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight It was short

Custom Robo (N64)

I played through one last game this week: Custom Robo, for the N64! As I’ve done in many other games, when given the option to name my character, I christened him Worm. The game begins when young Worm gets a long-awaited gift from his parents: his very own Custom Robo, Ray. From there, his path to becoming a great Custom Robo commander begins!

Custom Robo Worm Custom Robo, Ray

I loved Custom Robo on the GameCube. That’s actually the 4th Custom Robo game, but the first to have an official localization. The N64 entry is the beginning of the series, playable in English thanks to a translation patch by team Star Trinket! Being able to play this game brought such a smile to my face. Unsurprisingly, it’s similar to the GameCube entry in many ways, and I now understand some of the references the GameCube title makes to this one, namely the first appearance of Marv/Fukashi, who apparently makes at least a cameo appearance in every Custom Robo game!

play this game similar to the GameCube entry in many ways Fukashi

Battles are nearly identical to that of the GameCube version. Before battle, you customize your Robo with different parts, and you can also look at your opponent’s parts to plan your strategy. After you’re done customizing, you enter the fast-paced and intense combat, where you freely run around the arena and use your gun, pods, bombs, and special attack to damage your opponent’s Robo and reduce their HP to 0. Battles start off easy, but there were a couple in the middle of the game I struggled with, and the last few fights of the game were really really tough! In one of those fights, I had to retry so many times that it gave me the option to make the fight easier by starting the opponent with reduced health. I took advantage of that option! For the very last fight of the game though, I died even more times, and no such option was offered. I managed to scrape by in the final fight, but wow was it tough!

customize your Robo reduce their HP to 0 struggled

The only thing battles in the GameCube version had that this one did not were battles with more than 2 Robos at a time. There were 2v2, 1v2, and even 3v1 battles in the GameCube game, but only 1v1 in this game. It’s not a big deal since the battles are fun, but I think having more types of battles kept things interesting in the main story of the GameCube entry.

Speaking of story, Custom Robo on N64 has a very interesting structure. I suppose it depends on what you consider the main “conflict” or “action” of the plot. Your main goal is just to battle others with your Robo, and win Custom Robo tournaments. That’s pretty much 75% of the game. The other 25% is more like your typical video game plot, where the characters need to save the day, but on a smaller scale than anything like you’d see in a huge JRPG. No one’s fighting a malevolent god in Custom Robo. It was interesting to me that this “save the day” plot point really only takes place in the last hour or two of the game. Up until that point, all you did was battle the Robos of neighborhood kids, and win Custom Robo tournaments.

smaller scale win Custom Robo tournaments

I played this game via emulation, using the Mupen64Plus Next core in Retroarch. It worked rather well, with only some minor visual glitches sometimes. However, there was a pretty serious roadblock at the very end. After winning the final battle, the screen faded to black…and stayed that way. No matter how long I waited or how many buttons I pressed, it was softlocked on that black screen. Unfortunately, the game only saves at certain points, and there was no save after the final battle. So I had to re-fight the final battle again! After struggling a bit more, I won it again and thankfully created a save state at the point. It’s a good thing I did, because the softlock happened again in the same place! It was only after I changed the CPU emulation to use an interpreter instead of the dynamic recompiler that the game made it past the black screen, and I finally reached the credits that were waiting on the other side of softlock city. That was pretty frustrating, but not at all the fault of the game or probably even the translation patch. I’m grateful that the rest of the experience went smoothly though! Like I’ve been saying, I really enjoyed Custom Robo. As of this writing, the sequel on the N64 doesn’t have an English translation, but if I ever hear of one being created I’ll check it out for sure!

the credits went smoothly

Gravity Rush: Remastered (PS4)

Okay, this is the last game I played this week, I promise! I started Gravity Rush: Remastered after having it sit downloaded on my PS4 hard drive for over a year. Gravity Rush originally released on PS Vita, but was later remastered and released on PS4, which is the version I’m playing. It takes place in the floating city Hekseville, and follows the Gravity Shifter Kat. Kat has lost her memories, but she quickly discovers she can alter gravity to fly around and walk on walls thanks to a mysterious cat that follows her everywhere.

Gravity Rush Remastered Kat

As a protagonist, Kat won me over pretty much right away. The “amnesiac protagonist” trope is a bit cliché, but Kat doesn’t spend any time crying over her missing memories. Instead, she gets right to making her own way in the city, and quickly becomes a sort of superhero by always trying to help those in need. Despite her superhuman gravity powers, she is a very down-to-earth heroine just trying to do her best in an unfamiliar city.

Kat won me over the city a sort of superhero

As an open world action game, there’s missions aplenty strewn around the city. Some of these are obviously main story missions, but there are also challenge missions as in other open world games. The gravity-shifting mechanics make traversing the city really cool though, and set Gravity Rush apart from similar games. Once you alter gravity, you can fall in that direction. There’s something really cool about falling upwards and seeing the city shrink away from you.

The gravity-shifting mechanics make combat extra fun too. You fight against strange creatures called Nevi who have recently begun attacking Hekseville. Kat can fight them on the ground by kicking them, but it’s way more fun to float in the air and use Gravity Kicks to fly toward the enemy and deliver a powerful kick which is usually enough to defeat weaker Nevi in a single blow.

Shifting gravity was pretty disorienting at first, and sometimes it still is, but I think I’ve gotten more used to it. It’s such a cool traversal mechanic, and I really love the surreal atmosphere of Hekseville too. The entire thing is just floating, and the first district you explore is covered in a perpetual twilight. It makes a strong impression. Plus the comic book style cutscenes are cool as well. I’m really enjoying Gravity Rush so far, I’m really glad I picked it up!

Shifting gravity comic book style cutscenes

Ben

(bsinky)
Ben
The self-proclaimed "Guy with the Backlog", as of this writing his Steam backlog is slowly growing to the point of consuming him. Meanwhile, he spends most of his time trying to catch up on the retro classics he missed, as well as replaying the games he grew up with.

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