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Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:33 pm

#40

Game: Dark Savior.
Year: 1996 in NA and Japan.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: Climax Entertainment.

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First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste

Early fans of Sega would recognize Climax Entertainment as the team responsible for many of the best games of the Genesis. They helped Camelot Software with the first two Shining games, and they made the critically and commercially successful Landstalker title.

Taking a cue from that latter game, Climax Entertainment wanted to make another Action Adventure game on the newer consoles, but they struggled with developing in 3D.

Which is why they went back to what they knew best, and developed another isometric game that uses polygons only sparingly in the environment, but otherwise is mostly a sprite-based isometric game.

The result is Dark Savior, which is thankfully still playable today because its graphics aged semi-gracefully, and that's good news because we would have otherwise missed a very good game.

"What is it about this island...? What kind of evil things happen here?!"

Dark Savior start with a scene outside of a transport ship. A bounty hunting crew, led by the main character, Garian, have captured a vicious monster. This monster, Bilan, is to be transported to Jailer's Island to be executed.

Predictably, the monster escapes during the transport and Garian must track it (him?) down to kill it while it roams and wreaks havoc in the prison island. Complicating matters is the fact that the prison warden is not a straightforward character, and the prisoners are planning a revolt. Also, Bilan has the ability to impersonate any character it comes across (and kills).

That in itself, while pretty straightforward, is a very good setting for the story. This is further reflected by a decent translation that manages to give a good characterization of the many players in the story.

However, what truly raises the story in Dark Savior beyond the bar is the fact that it has multiple parallel stories instead of one. During the beginning of the game, you are tasked with reaching the captain's cabin as fast as possible. Depending on your time, the game diverges into one of three paths.

Each path is worth going through to see how much a single decision can affect the overall story and the lives (and deaths) of those whose fate is intertwined with Bilan and Jailer's Island.

"It will be a world of evil, by evil, for the sake of pure evil. There is no place for you there"

Expectedly, the path where you reach the captain's cabin late would have the worst final outcomes, and that's obviously by design.

The player wouldn't be expected to be able to grasp all the complexities of isometric platforming in his first five minutes with the game, which will result in getting to the captain late the first time you attempt it.

That's because Dark Savior's gameplay depends heavily on platforming in an isometric field, which requires some adjustment as you figure out the directions and the ability to direct your jumps and runs. Diagonal movement is still a pain even at the end of the game but everything else became very straightforward.

It is important to state that platforming will be about 80% of the gameplay in Dark Savior, as traversing the island's many locations is simply traversing a series of isometric platforming challenges. Many of these are not difficult at all once you get the hang of the controls, but a few do require some light puzzle solving.

What is challenging, and it did become second nature later, is the ability to move quickly in an isometric field. This is obviously needed to gain access to the other parallel stories after you finish the first one. One thing you should not is never to underestimate your running jump.

"I know now you are a brave knight. You have the skills to defeat Bilan"

The other 20% of the time you would be fighting your enemies in one-on-one fights that are a little bit like fighting game matches, but with very limited controls. You square against the enemy in a linear field and have access to two attacks, a jump, and a special.

Fights can feel like intense affairs at first, with a rapid back and forth between you and the enemy until you realize that you could spam your knock out attack infinitely and easily cheese most of the game's fights.

At least, you don't need to use Garian for all the fights. With his special ability, Garian can capture some of his enemies when defeating them (to capture an enemy, knock them down while they are at low health and use a special move). Then, you can use these captured enemies in fights for a little bit of variety, even if the underlining mechanics do not change.

In theory, the one-on-one fights should be action-packed and exciting affairs, which they are to an extent. While fun, they are really easy, and you cannot but wonder if a more strategic turn-based dueling system would have been more exciting in the long run.

"Now is the time to reach eternity... Garian..... with our burning heart.... we must become as one"

Finally, let's talk about the game's production values, which thankfully have not been fully ravaged by time.

With its choice of using 2D sprites mapped into a 3D isometric field, Dark Savior managed to preserve the look of their characters, even if the environment appears to be largely bland. Character sprites are big and detailed, and their portraits (which I wish were shown when they talk) are nice enough.

A highlight of the game's graphical design is the varied design of the game's characters, who come from many different backgrounds and species. It suggests a rich and interesting world, even if a translation error suggests India exists in this world.

Aside from the game's graphics, the game's soundtrack is top notch. There is an excellent use of drums; a foreboding beat like in Bilan's theme, or the exciting percussion of "The Battle". Then there is the variety; from the emotional "Friendship with Garian" to the epic "Decisive Battle".

It's a soundtrack that is best in its totality even if no tracks truly standout. There is an impressive variety of instruments used, and it is honestly one of the best soundtracks I have listened to on the Saturn so far.

In Conclusion:

There is something weird in my review of "Dark Savior" so far. While I see that taken individually, the game's various parts would not produce a good game, it somehow does here. At no stage did I feel like I didn't want to see what the next parallel story would reveal, and instead would have appreciated one or two more.

I cannot honestly say that playing the game should be fun. The platforming, even after you get used to it, is nothing special. Also, the fighting isn't that impressive either.

Yet, maybe because there was a lot of heart put into the game by Climax Entertainment, the game continued to absorb me even when its gameplay infuriated or bored me at times. Eventually, I just started enjoying myself, even while wishing the game had that extra polish that would have made it a great game.

Final: 8/10

Pros:

  • Unique and interesting parallel stories system
  • A decent cast of interesting characters
  • Variety of characters to use in fights
  • Good graphics and a very good soundtrack


Cons:

  • Core platforming gameplay requires getting used to
  • Fights are limited and somewhat repetitive


"Tips"
1- Try to immediately get used to the unique isometric platforming system.
2- Practice changing directions mid-jump.
3- Practice moving and jumping while dashing.
4- To capture an enemy, knock them down when their health is low and do a special move. This means that you should have a nearly complete special bar when attempting to capture.
5- Your running jump covers a lot of distance and can be used to take short-cuts.
6- To access the different parallels, then at the beginning of the game when you are asked to reach the ship captain's cabin: P1) Reach the cabin in more than 4:30 minutes, P2) Reach the cabin between 4:30 & 3:30 minutes, P3) Reach the cabin before 3:30 minutes.

"Next Game"

I am hoping Dark Savior to be the start of this list only getting good games on the 8-10 range. I wish I could have given this game a higher score, but it did have some serious weaknesses.

Next in the series is the last game released on the Saturn in Europe. Deep Fear, at number 39 in the list, is a survival horror game that I expect has not aged particularly well. So, my wish may be reserved to the game after it, but let's hope I am wrong.

Stay Tuned
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Post by RealGunner on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:25 pm

What you all playing nowadays?
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Post by futbol on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:30 pm

Bought a new Laptop. Playing Elex on it. Piranha Bytes never disappoints me. Proud

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:31 pm

@RealGunner wrote:What you all playing nowadays?


Battlefront 2, Gwent and Divinity: Original Sin 2.
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Post by M99 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:32 pm

@RealGunner wrote:What you all playing nowadays?


Don't get much time. When I do, Celeste like BC. Fun little platformer.

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Post by Thimmy on Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:13 pm

I play FIFA a few times a month, and I still host monthly FIFA tournaments at my place. For all of it's flaws, FIFA still provides casual fun that can be shared with friends, and that's a formula that never quite gets old.

Lately, I've been playing DLCs for Ni No Kuni 2, and a few older titles on PS Now, like Yakuza 5. PS Now is great value for money, man. It may not have all of the older titles that I was looking for, but it allows me to play titles that I thought looked kind of interesting in the past, but not interesting enough to warrant a purchase. There are a lot of good games on there.

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Post by RealGunner on Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:48 pm

General Games Discussion Fc7n81a4k0u21
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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:51 pm

That's the feeling i got from reading impressions this week.

Not sure I'll get it at launch as I'm mainly playing games i can play for an hour or so at a time get the feeling of accomplishment and stop playing lol. Laughing

But when I'm in the mood for something a little more substantial I'll probably try it.
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Post by Harmonica on Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:43 pm

@futbol wrote:Bought a new Laptop. Playing Elex on it. Piranha Bytes never disappoints me. Proud
Amazing game. I lost my confidence for them after Risen 3 because it didn't interest me anymore. But Elex is one of the few proper rpg's in last few years. Have you tried Morrowind yet?

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Post by futbol on Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:25 pm

@Harmonica wrote:
@futbol wrote:Bought a new Laptop. Playing Elex on it. Piranha Bytes never disappoints me. Proud
Amazing game. I lost my confidence for them after Risen 3 because it didn't interest me anymore. But Elex is one of the few proper rpg's in last few years. Have you tried Morrowind yet?


My choice was between Morrowind and Elex and I went for Elex first because of the new Laptop. My previous Laptop had an Intel UHD 620 so I went for the modern game first, now that I'm actually able to play everything.

I'm not sure I will enjoy Morrowind though. I watched a Let's Play for a bit and I think the lack of voice recording might kill it for me. I don't have a problem with text-based RPGs, after all I still enjoy the old Final Fantasys, but Morrowind seems to overwhelm you with LOTS of walls of text, not just dialogs. I will still play it though, probably just an habituation thing. I can't go without ever playing Morrowind. I'll wait for your more in-deph modding guide as well if you have some time (no hurry, it will probably take me another 2 weeks to finish Elex anyway). Smile

Risen 3 I also have to play still, I only played 1 and 2 when I still had a Desktop PC.

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Post by Harmonica on Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:36 pm

@futbol wrote:
@Harmonica wrote:
@futbol wrote:Bought a new Laptop. Playing Elex on it. Piranha Bytes never disappoints me. Proud
Amazing game. I lost my confidence for them after Risen 3 because it didn't interest me anymore. But Elex is one of the few proper rpg's in last few years. Have you tried Morrowind yet?


My choice was between Morrowind and Elex and I went for Elex first because of the new Laptop. My previous Laptop had an Intel UHD 620 so I went for the modern game first, now that I'm actually able to play everything.

I'm not sure I will enjoy Morrowind though. I watched a Let's Play for a bit and I think the lack of voice recording might kill it for me. I don't have a problem with text-based RPGs, after all I still enjoy the old Final Fantasys, but Morrowind seems to overwhelm you with LOTS of walls of text, not just dialogs. I will still play it though, probably just an habituation thing. I can't go without ever playing Morrowind. I'll wait for your more in-deph modding guide as well if you have some time (no hurry, it will probably take me another 2 weeks to finish Elex anyway). Smile

Risen 3 I also have to play still, I only played 1 and 2 when I still had a Desktop PC.
Text based dialogue has its own strengths, ability to go deeper, and without boring you as much with slow pace of talking. For my experience I tend to skip dialogue more often on voiced than text based. It was also more modder friendly until the last few years, before the good quality microphones became the standard. I think you should still give it a go, and try to force it through for a while if it doesn't feel right. If you get used to game mechanics, you'll start to enjoy the scope of Morrowind, which with Tamriel Rebuilt is unparalleled in the rpg's.

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Post by futbol on Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:20 pm

I'll definitely give it a try! Already installed the Launcher when it was free a few weeks ago.

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Post by Lord Spencer on Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:48 pm

Special Request

Game: Battalion Wars 2.
Year: 2007.
Genre: Action, Real-Time Tactical Strategy.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Kuju Entertainment.

General Games Discussion 20402-battalion-wars-2

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Fans of the Advance Wars series wouldn't immediately recognize it, but Battalion Wars 2 is the second game in a spin-off series of it. On closer look, you can see the stylistic similarities, as weapons of war are rendered in a stylistic cartoonish design. That's where the similarities end though.

Battalion Wars 2 is defined by its complicated and unique genre; Action Real-Time Tactical Strategy. Basically, you control one of many units in a squad like in a third-person shooter, and can issue orders to the rest of the units in real-time.

This duality in gameplay is the game's biggest strength, and it works wonderfully well. Yet, perhaps due to some limited scope, the game never reaches the full potential of its gameplay, as you can imagine many ways the game could have become a masterpiece.

"The Iron Legion had all but conquered the free nations of the land"

The game begins with an "ancient" battle in the game's world, where the Iron Legion was stopped from conquering the world through a superweapon deployed against them by the Solar Empire in their last stand. This weapon was then cast into the abyss so that it is never used again.

200 hundred years later, this legend inspires a fresh war between nations, as one country attacks the other in anticipation of another superweapon strike. It is a surprisingly engaging storyline, especially because you get to control several factions in separate campaigns, and also fight some campaigns in the past.

Of course, the entire story is told in colorful cut-scenes, and the nature of war is not discussed at all in the game. It is more a Saturday-night cartoon story than Saving Private Ryan.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't utilize its story well. Other than the intro text to each mission and the aforementioned cutscenes, there is little story content to ingest. It is as if the developers didn't trust themselves to add any meat to the skeleton of the story in fear of messing it up.

These colorful characters do not interact much between missions (some dialogue and reactions after each mission would have been adequate), and there is no background information beyond the unit descriptions in the extras menu.

One item I hoped would have been elaborated, or at least shown in the extras, are the newspaper clips that are shown at the beginning of each campaign. These would have served as an excellent world-builder if the articles were actually readable and accessible between missions.

All of these are missed opportunities where the story is concerned, especially when the basic premise and the fact that you play from multiple viewpoints is such a good idea.

Multiple Viewpoints in the Campaigns: +3
Limited Story Building: -5
Colorful Characters: +3

"Tally-ho men. Nothing will stand between us and finding and destroying the enemy's superweapon"

It is no exaggeration to say that the gameplay in Battalion Wars 2 is extremely unique. With its blend of third-person shooting and real-time tactical strategy gameplay, this is a game that has few equals-if any-in the market.

You nominally control one unit while the rest of the squad follows you. For the unit you control, you can move and shoot freely from a third-person perspective. For all the units that follow you, they will be fighting normally against the enemy units in their vicinity. That is until you issue specific orders to them.

This scenario will make things a little bit clear:

You are controlling an Assault Veteran (heavy machine gunner) and leading a unit consisting of Bazooka men, Anti-air gunners, a tank, and some lowly grunts. On the coast, two battleships and an anti-air frigate are moving along with your unit as well.

As the commander, the unit moves with your Assault Veteran. In the distance, you spot some RPG and Machine Gun towers that could obliterate your ground force. So, you aim at them and issue commands to your naval units to destroy them. Meanwhile, to make sure your battleships are safe, you issue an order to your frigate to shoot down the incoming gun choppers.

After destroying the towers, you go ahead with your ground force to take over the enemy camps. You issue orders to the Bazooka men and the tank to destroy the enemy tanks and barricades while your grunts take care of the infantry. As you support your grunts in gunning down the enemy infantry, you notice a number of choppers heading your way but are too far from the frigates, so you order your Anti-air gunners to take care of them.

This is a simple example of how the game plays, and it extremely satisfying when everything clicks together. Especially since you can personally command each and every unit in the game, including bombers and fighter planes.

It is in those instances that the game shows some cracks though, as the control for all units is a little wonky, but flight controls are especially bothersome due to some motion control issues. You can get used to it, but not when you also need to focus on issuing commands to your ground troops.

Unique and Excellent Gameplay: +5
Acess to a Variety of Units: +3
Some Control Issues: -2

"Honor demands we seek a war of retribution immediately. Hail the fleet. We sail to the Anglo Isles now"

With a sound gameplay system, the remainder was to make use of that system by crafting really good missions. In that regard, this game mostly delivers. I say "mostly" because, while the game does offer a number of missions with varied locations, objectives, and strategies, it still misses some strategic oomph that I wish was there.

Let's first talk about what's included.

Each campaign offers 3 or 5 missions, each that feels unique and is rewarding to go through. With a system that grades your performance, you know there is an optimal path through each mission, which is obvious enough. It is always the most fun way to play after all.

Usually, missions involve an initial defense phase, before you start gathering troops and capturing the enemy base. One thing that I felt was the case is that you either excel at the mission or get destroyed until you learn how to approach it. Unless you are using the right units for the right job, you can easily get decimated.

What could have been better is a more expansive level of control over your units, and the scenarios that could have been done with it. For instance, if you could do a tactical pause and issue some quick orders, this would have given Kuju Entertainment the ability to craft more challenging levels. Also, I wish there was a way to divide your force into two or three parts instead of having one large squad and some intermittent sea or air action.

I know that last bit is just a description of another game, but it is an example of how this type of game can be expanded upon.

Good Level Variety: +4
Doesn't Reach its Full Potential: -2

"Somewhere, somehow, someone is causing a heap of trouble and I don't know why. But sure as heck, I reckon I know who"

Finally, let's talk about the game's production. As you can see from some of these screenshots, the school of design is similar to the Advance Wars games, with colorful stylistic war machines. These are not perfectly translated from the awesome concept art, but they are well-designed nonetheless.

Sure, the Wii doesn't have the strongest graphical ability, but its standard definition graphics pop in this colorful design, and everything is clear for the player.

While the same level of design excellence does not carry to the story character's, that is simply a matter of taste. I specifically dislike the design of the Western Frontier (The US) characters.

On sound, the game does a good job of producing bangs and bombs, but not as good in crafting a memorable soundtrack. Basically, other than a pretty standard main theme, I don't recall there being any impressive tunes at all.

Good Graphical and Sound Design: +4
Forgettable Music: -2

In Conclusion:

This is a game defined entirely by its unique gameplay, which has a little comparison in the market. As a package, Nintendo decided to loosely tie it to the established Advance Wars franchise, but that is a very loose tie indeed.

I can only say that the gameplay works, with some progressive learning involved, and I ended up being very proficient in a short time. Though be careful, the game is only fun when you figure out how to get the best of its systems.

Final: 36/50

"Tips"

1- It goes without saying, but you should attack each enemy unit with their weaknesses.
2- As such, you need to learn what your enemy weaknesses are.
3- Leave vulnerable units behind (for example, leave aircraft behind when you advance to deal with anti-air machines).
4- Always do the secondary objectives.
5- Try and keep a zoomed out view to have more tactical awareness of the situation.
6- Use the map often.


"Next Game"

This is another Wii game I wouldn't have played if not for this list that I enjoyed. Not as greatly as I could have, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Next game will be my final Wii review, and the game is Shiren the Wanderer, one of the most famous Roguelike brands that released games on Nintendo devices. I am not a big fan of the genre, but this is a game that I bought on an impulse and so I am going to play and review (unless I hate it too much).

Stay Tuned
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Post by Thimmy on Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:16 pm

Close to the Sun looks like an interesting, Bioshock inspired game.. for PC players. I mean, if this isn't Bioshock inspired, I don't know what is.

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Post by danyjr on Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:26 pm

Another Epic Store Exclusive on PC.

Art deco style is definitely Bioshock-y, but the gameplay itself isn't much like Bioshock IMHO from the video I have watched. Not as much action packed and looks to be more towards the Horror genre than Action Adventure.

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Post by Thimmy on Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:48 pm

Yeah, I'm sure the actual gameplay is different, but clearly a lot of their design was inspired by Bioshock - from the upscale library- like halls and marine theme to the design of their logo.

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Post by danyjr on Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:53 pm

Definitely a game to look forward to in the uneventful 2019.

At the moment I have the following on my list:

The Last of Us 2
Wolfstein Youngblood
Mount & Blade II
Control
The Outer Worlds
Rage 2
Biomutant
Vampire Bloodlines 2

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Post by RealGunner on Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:00 pm

Wow 2019 is awful if TLOU2 doesn't show up
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Post by Thimmy on Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:09 pm

Rage 2 actually looks a lot more fun and generally improved, compared to the original game. I might actually get it.

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Post by Kaladin on Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:06 pm

@RealGunner wrote:Wow 2019 is awful if TLOU2 doesn't show up


I dont think it is, Naughty Dog has a truck record of releasing Spring/Summer

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Post by M99 on Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:11 pm

Some fall games are bound to be announced at E3. Splinter Cell hopefully.

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:29 pm

Currently this year is not as good as previous years for obvious reasons but there's still some potentially very good games to come IMO.

I'm really looking forward to Outer Worlds, Control, Jedi:Fallen Order etc etc.

Although i don't really care even if they're not good, i've turned into a games as a service pleb and just play games which update constantly because it allows me to play something for an hour and two feel fulfilled. Laughing

I'm sure i'll play big games again but right now i don't really care for it.
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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Wed May 01, 2019 3:37 pm

Maybe i was wrong hmm

https://www.gamesradar.com/well-be-seeing-more-of-the-last-of-us-2-before-e3-2019-says-industry-insider/
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Post by Harmonica on Fri May 03, 2019 12:34 pm

@danyjr wrote:Definitely a game to look forward to in the uneventful 2019.

At the moment I have the following on my list:

The Last of Us 2
Wolfstein Youngblood
Mount & Blade II
Control
The Outer Worlds
Rage 2
Biomutant
Vampire Bloodlines 2
M&B II will be publicly playable in Gamescom which is in august. But I don't think the release is before next year.

Spoiler:
Greetings warriors of Calradia!

In this week’s blog, we want to take a small step back from the game to tell you about our plans for this summer’s Gamescom, something that we’ve been asked about many times in the past few weeks. Yes, we will be attending Gamescom in Cologne, Germany this August (no surprise there, eh!).

However, there is one key difference in our attendance this year. For the first time ever, we will be making the game available for people to play in the public area of the show. This means that anyone with a ticket will be able to visit our booth and experience Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord for themselves!

As you can imagine, this is quite a huge deal for both us and (hopefully) our community. We want to be fully prepared for this momentous occasion and ensure that players get to enjoy the game in all its glory. That’s why we’ll be showing one of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord’s exciting multiplayer modes in our public booth.

For obvious reasons, play sessions in these events need to be time-limited in order to accommodate as many people as possible – and because of that, and because of the huge scope of the single-player mode, it would be impossible for visitors to experience even a glimpse of what the sandbox has to offer. However, multiplayer modes are more intense and concentrated, and allow you to experience first-hand the very core of the game: the combat system.

With that being said, we will still be taking along the singleplayer sandbox campaign which we will be showcasing in the business area of the show, so you can expect to see a wide range of screenshots and videos covering most aspects of the game around that time.

This is clearly a massive undertaking for us, so we are devoting most of our time and effort into ensuring that things go as smoothly as possible at Gamescom. Thankfully, all of the work being done on this front brings us ever closer to the release of the game, so it is time well spent! To prepare for this, we are currently running daily meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the key features of the game which will be showcased at the event and in the multiplayer beta while providing our team with a clear and efficient way to communicate with each other and provide live feedback on the current state of the game.

But, why are we announcing this to you so early? Well, we have received quite a few messages from community members asking us if they would get to play the game if they were to attend this year. We are well aware that it can be quite difficult to make arrangements to come to an event like this, both in terms of time and money, so we wanted to give you all a heads up well in advance so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to attend.

We will talk a little more about what to expect from us at Gamescom in a future blog, as well as, discussing our plans for the upcoming beta. But for now, thanks for taking the time to read this short update!

Maybe it will be the last true game ever released? Because it's taken so long, the development started before money became the only thing in game industry. Nowadays you get feeling from every single game relased or advertized, "how to extract the most money with least possible effort".

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Sun May 05, 2019 12:31 am

I saw this on a ad on youtube lol.



Thought it looked pretty promising.
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