Imperium Ludorum: Videogames Beaten by VGGers in 2020
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Heed the call - Defend the Imperium


Rules: Barbarians are at the Gates; the Imperium Ludorum will crumble unless its humble citizens rally. Five conditions must be met for the Imperium to survive (this is our VGG Community Goal).

Microbadge: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!Sodalitas: At least 40 VGGers must complete a game put on their radar in-part by another VGGer (rules: you must refer either to another user's item from this list, or from the 2019 list).

Microbadge: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!The Legion: At least 75 VGGers must complete 5 games. Stand together or perish.

Microbadge: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!The Centurians: At least 10 VGGers must complete a game with a playtime of 100 hours or more.

Microbadge: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!The Praetorians: At least 8 VGGers must complete 8 games within 12 months of their release date.

Microbadge: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!The Oracles: At least 5 VGGers must complete 5 games all from one series or franchise.

Progress on these goals is updated every two weeks
_____________________________________________________________________

Happy New Year, & Welcome!

Not sure what to play? Curious to see what others are looking forward to in 2020? Join the fray in The 2020 Videogame Challenge! Or participate in our annual '100 great games' community goal. Or unleash your inner hardware geek for Zimeon's Multiplatform Challenge. Or dive into Videogaming history with Jorgen's 35-year challenge. Or subscribe to our weekly lists.

Goals, goals, goals! Microbadge: I helped complete three or more 2017 VGG community goals!Microbadge: I helped complete three or more 2018 VGG community goals!Microbadge: I helped complete three or more 2019 VGG community goals!

Be sure to subscribe to this list so you can see what everyone else is playing!

If you want to see what VGGers were up to in years past, look here.

Feeling disenchanted, stifled by a medicore game, stuck with a dud? Stand up tall with your shoulders back, and say, 'no more!' Or, talk yourself in circles, we won't judge.

_____________________________________________________________________


Q: How much of my playtime needs to be from this year to post a "Centurions" game?
A: At least 50 hours of your playtime should be from 2020.

Q: How much of my playtime needs to be from this year to post a "Praetorians" game?
A: All playtime should be from 2020 if you are going for 'Praetorians.'

Q: Should I add a game to this list if it has already been added by somebody else?
A: Of course!

Q: Should I add a game to list more than once if I beat it more than once?
A: No, but feel free to update your original item or add a new comment beneath it.

Q: What's the easiest way to review which games are popular on this list or who is playing what?
A: Why, Grimwold's Sorting Tool, of course! Sort by User E Sort by Game
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1. Video Game: Super Dodge Ball [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1263]
Video Game: Super Dodge Ball
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Platform: NES

Clocktime: About 45 minutes.

Completion: I went straight through on the normal difficulty, no losses, no teammate KOs.

I'm not even sure what happened here - a door opened in my brain and some early-90s muscle memory popped out. I nailed most of my power shots and easily caught nearly everything the other teams threw at me. Was never in danger of losing.

Commentary: This was one of my favorite NES games as a kid, an inexplicable dark horse favorite that didn't seem to fit a mold and that everyone loved. Superficially its a sports game, but one that is zany, irreverent, brimming with humor and not remotely concerned with realism.


The most famous WWII Red Army song, "Katyusha," is embedded in the track that plays during the final match in Red Square


The game consists of eight or so matches across the globe, culminating in a hilarious showdown with the Soviet Team, right in front of the Kremlin. Before each match starts, you pick three players from a roster of six, with slight differences in toughness and signature power shots. The point of the game is to master distance & timing on your end so that you can reliably execute a power shot (where the ball turns into a glowing orb that completely defies physics/gravity and attacks the opposing team in endlessly hilarious ways). As you progress, you learn to hit multiple opponents in one shot, and also learn how to throw attacks that are basically un-catchable. You also get better at guarding against enemy shots, and even intercepting their passes to steal your turn back.

When you land a power shot, it sends the opponent ragdolling through the air with a priceless facial expression.

To finish the game, you need to be able to turn almost every possession into a successful power-shot, and you need to be able to catch the enemy's most powerful attacks. If you don't have those two things down, you'll lose midway through the game, but otherwise you'll be fine.

Come one, come all, onward to 2020!
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2. Video Game: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:2170] [Average Rating:7.16 Unranked]
Video Game: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin
Simon Woodward
New Zealand
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Game: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin.
Platform: PS3.
First Time: Yes.
Difficulty: Casual.
Time Taken: 4:40 hours.


Modest DLC quest for Dragon Age II. I played it early in Act 3. You temporarily recruit a new character (a duel-wielding rogue) and go on a heist mission to an Orlesian mansion. There are several sections, quite varied, including a garden party, a bunch of puzzles (in The Vault), and some decent combat set pieces. The story is incidental to the main game, so the DLC doesn't really add anything. But you can get some nice loot.

Rating:
7/10
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3. Video Game: Armored Warriors [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Armored Warriors
United States
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Armored Warriors - PC (Steam)
Played as part of Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle
Main game beaten
First time beaten
1 hour

2020 Videogame Challenge hardcore game beaten!
1/10 hardcore games total
1 hour total

This is another arcade beat-em-up that's in "free play" mode in Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle and is therefore very easy to beat. In this one you play as a giant mech, fighting mostly against other giant mechs. The mech suit is modular, and throughout the game you regularly switch out parts of it to get new primary and secondary weapons, adding a little variety to the fighting. It's pretty fun.
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4. Video Game: Stories Untold [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:4408]
Video Game: Stories Untold
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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Platform: PC / Epic
Time: 3 hours
First time beaten? Yes
Rating: 8/10

Stories Untold is in parts a text adventure, in others a walking simulator of searching items and in others a puzzle. It consists of four short independently playable but successive episodes. It also has a meta quality in breaking the fourth wall in original ways.

The first episode is 'A house abandoned'. On the surface, it's a plain text adventure. But you're actually watching yourself in front of an old computer playing the very same game 'A house abandoned'. This is where the meta layer comes into play. The text adventure part is simple with a very limited parser which can lead to frustration but altogether this is the easiest part of the game and maybe even the best.

The second episode starts out completely different. You are in a lab and are advised on the experiments you are to conduct. Once you mastered that part which isn't too difficult, another text adventure part follows. This was the weakest part of the game for me as I couldn't figure out what I was to do. The parser only accepts exact inputs. I never would have figured out one command I had to put in and the simple command 'look' wasn't accepted. Instead, the game expected 'look around'. Bad design in this part. Luckily, this was the only instance of this.

The third episode doesn't have any text adventure part. You are manning a relais station in Greenland and have to pass on messages. It's basically code puzzles but kind of fun including one difficult morse code puzzle.

The final episode wraps up all previous episodes and connects the seemingly independent stories. It features a bit of every type of gameplay introduced in the first three episodes.

Stories Untold is an original game with a distinct style. I never would have heard about it if it hadn't been an Epic freebie but I really enjoyed it and recommend it. Just be aware of the weakness of the parser in the text adventure parts which is excusable as the form is rather due to the story than the intention to design a modern text adventure.
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5. Video Game: What Remains of Edith Finch [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:1056]
Video Game: What Remains of Edith Finch
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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Platform: PC / Epic
Time: 2 hours
First time beaten? Yes
Rating: 7/10

Game #1 of my hardcore challenge

Day 1 of the year and already the second game completed. Admittedly, two short ones in the effort to bring down the number of my unplayed games.

What Remains of Edith Finch is a walking simulator. I didn't know what to expect except for what the title already reveals. You are Edith returning to the house of her childhood, the family home of three generations of Finchs before her. The game is about exploring this weird house and the stories of the former inhabitants. These are revealed by books and items found around the house. Each history is a unique minigame itself although of differing quality. The plot develops linearly until the resolution is reached after about 2 hours.

I liked the story although it's not the most original. It has a 'Ten little Indians' vibe. More convincing are the artistic ideas, especially in some of the family stories and the creation of the house itself. Some of the characters really come alive. A good game although I wouldn't call it the best walking simulator around.
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6. Video Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:6595]
Video Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom
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Platform: Arcade (emulated)

Clocktime: 1 hour

Completion: Banished the Dark Lich Demios - I played the Cleric and my brother-in-law played the Fighter. Tower of Doom includes a number of branching paths - we always chose to save/rescue townspeople when possible.

1/10 games down for my Hardcore Challenge!

Commentary: Long Live the CPS2 Board!



The Golden Age of side-scrolling arcade beat-em-ups was kicked off by Double Dragon (released by Technos Japan in the summer of 1987) but dominated by Capcom and Konami. These games were hugely profitable, mainstream, and cutting-edge, with western license-holders partnering with the most bankable Japanese juggernauts. It's just incredibly hard to imagine this moment in time, with a company like Konami putting out megahits like The Simpsons Arcade Game and a company like Capcom putting out fan favorites like Alien Vs. Predator. That world is so far-gone - was it a dream?

The period of time where these companies were 'printing money' roughly coincides with the Capcom Play System 1 - Capcom's in-house arcade-board that powered over 30 games between 1988-1993. The venerable beat'em'up genre faded into the sunset primarily for two reasons: the home console usurpation of arcades as mainstream profit-engines, and the field-clearing arrival of Street Fighter II and its many revisions, which completely changed developer priorities heading into the mid-90s. New technology accompanied the shift: everything Capcom published from '94 onward released on their new & improved CPS2 board.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom arrived in arcades in January that year, and I wish it could have landed two years earlier. This is such an obvious passion-project made by people who truly knew & understood the contours of D&D. Even 25 years later, this feels like Dungeons & Dragons - setting, characters, enemy types, spells, you name it. Late in the game, you have to take down a Beholder, and it's one of the more memorable and thematically well-executed battles I can think of in the genre.



In Tower of Doom, you can choose to play a Cleric, Fighter, Dwarf, or Elf, each with slightly different strengths and weaknesses, and each with access to unique attacks & abilities. The Cleric, for example, can always cast "turn undead," instantly killing every undead foe on the screen - but the spell has enough of a casting time that the other players may need to protect the cleric. So cool! As you play, you earn experience points for slaying enemies, gain levels that improve your Hit Points, find treasure that you can use to purchase supplies between levels, and collect single-use items like throwable war-hammers (handy for fighting pesky fire-breathing dragons). There are even a handful of moral choices and branching pathways, meaning not every playthrough will be the same.

The beat'em'up gameplay here isn't quite as nuanced as The Punisher (Arcade), which preceded it by a couple of months, but it's close. I do wish it had a bit more in the way of evasion, shield-guarding, and maybe some command-based special attacks, which I think they added in the sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara.

Ultimately, this is a well-made game that just wasn't in-sync with it's moment. We look back at Dungeons and Dragons now and think "how cool, a D&D arcade game!" But there's no way this had the kind of wide-eyed appeal that brands like X-men, The Simpsons, and TMNT had - and there's also no way that hardcore D&D fans weren't skeptical of seeing their super-deep pen-and-paper RPG translated into an hour long romp.

I recommend this game if you're a fan of the genre, the source material, or both.

(Armored Warriors, completed & discussed by Hirocon above, was also a CPS2 game, released in October of '94)
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7. Video Game: A Short Hike [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:3176]
Video Game: A Short Hike
Platform: PC

Time: 3 Hours

I was reminded of this game by some mentions on year-end lists, so it seemed like a good game to start off the year with.

You play as a bird named Claire. You are on a trip out in the country with your Aunt Meg, who is a ranger. You tell her that you are expecting a phone call when she tells you that there isn't any reception, except on top of the mountain. You then decide to make the climb.

This game is a combination of BotW's climbing with Celeste's self-discovery. As you go along your hike, you will meet people, you will face obstacles, you will explore. This was actually a bit more meaty a game than I was expecting, as you try to find more ways to collect golden feathers so that you have the endurance to be able to climb to the top. I didn't complete all the quests, tho I have a number to my credit.

Personally, I think this is a cute little game that's worth picking up on the cheap.
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8. Video Game: Fortune Summoners: Secret Of The Elemental Stone [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Fortune Summoners: Secret Of The Elemental Stone
Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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PC (Steam)
First Playthrough
66 hours
Frustration: High


With Fortune Summoners, I complete the Carpe Fulgar trilogy (Fortune Summoners, Chantelise, Reccettear) which I purchased solely on the strength of Reccettear without strongly researching the other two. This turned out to be a big mistake, as Reccettear was easily the best of the bunch, and Chantelise a cromulent aRPG with some difficult patches.

But Fortune Summoners was probably my least favorite yet. The game often lagged and ran super-slow, which was quite annoying indeed. 20 hours in or so, I found a thread suggesting playing in a tiny windowed mode would solve this, which it did.

What it didn't solve, was the lack of good controller support, and more generally the annoyingly unresponsive controls. Spoiled by my relatively recent play of Hollow Knight (whose lovely native controller support and tight controls with zero lag between input and action certainly helped the game become a favorite), wrestling with the controls here felt very frustrating, especially when there were enemies that managed to juggle-kill me, or when the computer controlled characters would run off, get killed, and thus prevent me from opening the next door in the dungeon.

Once I had all 3 characters on my team at once, and figured out how to manage the AI, the game became a little better, but it still felt like a slog for too much of my playthrough, and the last boss was so ridiculously difficult that after a dozen failed attempts I had to lower the difficulty to easy and still took a few more tries before I finally managed to kill her.

Anyway, this whole trilogy experience has taught me a lesson not to blind-buy games based on one good one. Meanwhile, I do not recommend this game.
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9. Video Game: Max Gentlemen [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Max Gentlemen
Kennan Ward
United States
Idaho
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Completed: Max Gentlemen
Platform: PC

Jump hats to avoid birds and beer glasses (depending on the location) while trying to get as many stacked on your head as you can. It's free, and pretty limited, kind of amusing for a little while.
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10. Video Game: Doom and Destiny [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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PC (Steam)
First Playthrough
14 Hours
Silliness: High


This RPGMaker-style JRPG is somewhat of a send-up of the genre while also following the tropes itself. Self-aware, and thus enjoyable for RPG fans on two levels, both the RPG itself, and the mockery of RPGs.

It does not, alas, have the heart or artistry of Evoland 2, one of my GOTY nods from a prior year. But Doom and Destiny is very silly, and even if it's not quite as funny as it thinks it is, there's plenty of amusing dialogue and other humorous tidbits that are pretty enjoyable.

There are also a solid number of skills to learn and sidequests to complete -- I didn't even end up with half of the Steam achievements, but grinding out 500 undead kills or backtracking through the entire game hoping to find a hidden secret isn't my idea of a good time. (And yes, I could find them all by following a guide, but that also isn't my idea of a good time.)

Still, don't let my lack of enthusiasm for hunting down every sidequest detract from the fact that as RPGMaker-style games go, this one was entertaining and certainly worthwhile for those who enjoy that sort of thing.
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11. Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:523]
Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
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Platform: Gameboy Color

Clocktime: About 23 hours (20-ish in 2019).

Completion: Defeated the evil sorceress Veran, although apparently that set the stage for Twinrova to run amok in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons.

I did not worry much about which rings I got (there's a light "collect them all" aspect to these games, with 64 equippable rings).

Commentary: I had no idea these games existed until the early 2010s. There were probably years of my life where I would have told you that the Gameboy Advance was the immediate follow-up to the original Gameboy. That's really too bad. Oracle of Ages is a substantial & polished Zelda game in its own right, and doubtless all the more impressive when "linked" with its sister title: Oracle of Seasons.

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The game begins with Zelda, the princess of Hyrule, dispatching Link to the neighboring Kingdom of Labyranna to protect Nayru, the Oracle of Ages. But Link arrives too late, and Nayru is captured by the evil Sorceress Veran. Using Nayru's power, Veran travels back in time to eliminate the Guardian Maku Tree before it takes root, and also corrupt & control Queen Ambi. Veran's ultimate goal is to build a Black Tower that will plunge the world into darkness.

There's a lot of both A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time here, but without feeling like a redux of either one. You frequently switch between the past (500 years ago) and the present, and eventually complete eight different dungeons to obtain the "essences" necessary to protect the Maku Tree. There are several familiar Zelda elements like bombs, a hookshot/longshot, and a power glove for lifting heavy objects - but also some new or less common elements, like a Roc's feather that lets you jump, pegasus seeds that grant you temporary speed, etc. The dungeons are superbly crafted and ramp up in difficulty & complexity.

Overall I'd rate this game along three separate axes. You have the more puzzle-oriented dungeons, which are a delight to untangle and easily live up to the Zelda name. You have the overworld exploration, which is pretty good most of the time, but occasionally derails into tedious over-convoluted nonsense. Without a doubt, more players have abandoned this game because of what is happening outside of dungeons than those who feel stumped inside. This is also the one area where Oracle of Ages falls significantly short of A Link to the Past... but then again, a step down from "near perfect" is still " very good."

External image


Lastly, Oracle of Ages seems very proud of its Gasha Seed / Random Ring mechanics. You plant seeds in special patches of soil, come back later to collect a Gasha Nut, open the nut to obtain a ring, take the ring to be assessed, and end up with one of 64 rings with various effects. I think two things are true: the "collect the rings" part of the game is dumb, but also irrelevant. You can only equip a single ring at a time, which is an unbelievably foolish design choice if you're trying to get players excited about finding new rings. Also, you only carry three rings in your inventory, and only change which rings you are carrying at a special shop. This all but guarantees that you will never use most rings - so I guess it's a good thing that the rings themselves are almost universally uninteresting and unimportant.

I enjoyed Oracle of Ages quite a bit, enough that I'm surprised by how overlooked it seems in the Zelda pantheon. It stumbles in one or two areas but otherwise deserves a strong recommendation.

8/10
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12. Video Game: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:439]
Video Game: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Adam Slape
United States
Collinsville
Illinois
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Platform: GBA Cartridge on a DS Lite
Play time: 8.5 hrs
First time? Yes

Finished up the last of the GBA Castlevania titles - this one was certainly the best of the three. I think I preferred the visuals and setting from Harmony of Dissonance a little more, but in all other categories this one wins.

The skill unlocks were more interesting, the music was far better, and the game felt a lot less tedious overall. The bosses were a bit on the easy side again - slightly more challenging than HoD but still far easier than Circle of the Moon. It didn't make any sense that the castle was filled with NPCs, but I appreciated the occasional break from combat, and at least there was an attempt at a story (however nonsensical).

I also think it's much easier for players to get the "good" ending in this one, which is nice, but I still think they should be a little more forthcoming with the information.
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13. Video Game: Moss [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
Video Game: Moss
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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Platform: Oculus Quest
Time to beat: several hours
Counts for Pratorians - Quest version released May 2019

Moss is a VR puzzle-platformer adventure game with interesting and beautiful environments and lots of fun and cute little details. The game and the mouse character you control (names Quill) are very charming. The gameplay is reminiscent of something like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons or Limbo, with a bit of Zelda. You move Quill around with the analogue stick and attack/jump with buttons, and at the same time, you play as a guardian spirit that can interact with the environment or stun/control enemies via your hand controllers. It works really well. I got most of the collectibles, but I missed a few that I may go back for. The VR aspect is really neat; each area is static, and you can look around it like it's a little model or dollhouse to find collectibles or alternate pathways. It's short, but it's one of the most polished and well-done VR games I've played, yet. There are a LOT of various animations for Quill and little ways the environment reacts to you that make the world feel alive.

Recommended if you like these kinds of games and have VR.

From gallery of Aarontu
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14. Video Game: Gorogoa [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:1525]
Video Game: Gorogoa
Ian Kelly
United States
Longmont
Colorado
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Platform: PC
Time taken: 1.5 hours

I'm still not sure what this game is about, but it's pretty, and the puzzling is unique.
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15. Video Game: Vader Immortal: Episode III [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Vader Immortal: Episode III
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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Platform: PC/Oculus Rift
Time played: ~2 hrs?
*Counts towards The Praetorians goal*

This is the final episode of this short trilogy of Star Wars VR experience/games, and it is the best Star Wars VR thing out there right now (though that isn't saying much, since there is basically nothing else out there for Star Wars). The story-mode takes place at Vader's castle on Mustafar sometime around the original trilogy, and is neat, though you can't die and are mostly along for the ride, and your droid companion is more annoying than ever. You do get to fight stormtroopers and shoot down TIE fighters and fight Darth Vader, which is neat, but the fight with Vader is a little underwhelming and short after all the build-up to it.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Mustafar starts to grow plants after the events of the game, and you get a vision of the future of the planet that looks like Mustafar as it appears at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker.

Overall, the story mode of the game is more of a long interactive cutscene than an actual game. It's kind of neat to experience once.

The other part of the game, the lightsaber dojo, is an actual game, and is the best part, and is much improved over the lightsaber dojo in episodes I and II. Episode I had you fighting remotes and saber training droids. Episode II added flying monsters and gave you the ability to use the force to throw your lightsaber or grab enemies. Episode III adds stormtroopers to the mix and gives you blasters, thermal detonators, force lightning, and the ability to dual wield lightsabers or use a double-sided saber. And the levels are more interesting, and there are a lot more sabers to unlock. It is the definitive lightsaber fighting VR game. (there isn't much competition, though)

Video Game: Vader Immortal: Episode III
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16. Video Game: Heavy Rain [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:127]
Video Game: Heavy Rain
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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Platform: PC / Epic
Time: 8 hours
First time beaten? Yes
Rating: 9/10

Game #2 of my hardcore challenge

Finally, this is on PC and I was able to play it. This game as the whole Qantic Dreams oeuvre polarizes. They are interactive movies in which gameplay consists of quicktime events and dialogue choices. The story can change depending on your responses and reflexes.

I love this type of game. Heavy Rain was fantastic and already is a hot contender for my game of the year 2020. The noir atmosphere is great, the production value is over the top considering that this game was developed ten years ago. The plot is dark and can be off-putting. You have to take choices you don't want to take and there is no winding back. Easily, you make a choice and regret it the instant you realize what you have done. Living with it is what makes this game a memorable experience.

I read before that it's not a difficult game. So I left the difficulty at the highest level. Clearly, I overestimated my gamepad skills. I failed many of the action sequences and got one of the worst endings possible, 'A Mother's Revenge'.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The best part of this ending was, that Lauren (the prostitute whose son was one of the victims) shot Scott (the origami killer) after she realized that he never was commissioned to investigate the origami killer. To get this ending, I failed a few critical scenes. The FBI agent Jaden was shot by the scrapyard owner, journalist Madison was tortured to death by the mad doctor, Scott failed to escape the police and hanged himself in prison after his son Shaun died as the last killer victim as there was nobody left to save him.


Pretty bleak but I enjoyed the game even more for the possibility to have such endings. There are even worse endings than this one but many better ones as well. I might replay this game at some time to see another one of the 17 possible endings but at an easier setting for the QTE events.
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17. Video Game: Assassin's Creed [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:798]
Video Game: Assassin's Creed
Jørgen K
Denmark
Copenhagen S
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Completed
Platform: Windows (GOG Galaxy)
First released: 2007
Date started: January 1st
Date finished: January 4th
First time finished? Yes
On my Hardcore list? Yes
HLTB: 15 hours
Playtime: 18 hours 21 minutes (1,101 minutes)
My rating:

-----

First completed game for me this year!

I originally tried out Assassin's Creed with my cousin for Wii, but only for a few hours or even less and never again picked it up despite wanting to.
I got a copy at GOG but didn't get to play it, and in 2018 I got to play Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - so this year I decided to start from the beginning; I am not sure if I will go on with the second game this year, as I have plenty of games to play and also have some game series to end; but I do look forward to see what will happen next.

I had completely forgotten how annoying those begging women in the city are! And even more the lunatics and drunks who likes to hit you!
One thing I did enjoy a lot was actually to hear people's scream when a guard fell into his death from a rooftop, either because I pushed him or because he lost his balance as my throwing knifes hit him... a bit sick, I know.
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18. Video Game: Opus Magnum [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:1579]
Video Game: Opus Magnum
Bob Flaherty
United States
Loves Park
Illinois
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Game: Opus Magnum
Platform: PC
Time: 35 hours (5 in 2020)
**** Hardcore Game #1 Complete***
Enjoyment: High

I love SpaceChem. I played that game a lot. It was fun to solve the puzzles, but even more fun to try and optimize them. In my mind, Opus Magnum is even better. In my opinion, it is more accessible than Space Chem because (for the main puzzles) you are not space constrained. You can build a sprawling machine, if you would like, in order to solve the puzzle. However, part of the optimization part includes both cost (each piece has a cost) and area (each piece takes up space). Me, I prefer to optimize cycles, or how fast the machine can complete the task. I suck at it, only 8 of the 36 or so main game puzzles am I at the top of my friends leader board. Several more I am only a couple cycles away. Beyond that, though, once you finish the game, the best score ever shows up in all categories. Something even more to strive for.

The pacing is not as mountainous as Space Chem. You are introduced to new concepts at what I felt was the right pace. There are still tricks and things you can do to squeeze every last cycle out of your puzzle, but that is part of the discovery of the game.

There is a story - you are an alchemist. The alchemy is building nanomachines to create substances using the four elements (air, water, fire, and earth) along with salts, and metals. Your machines consist of arms that can pivot, rotate what they are gripping, or extend. They can be sized as you need them. When you are done, you can record a gif of your machine. I like this part, it allows you to watch your machines to see where they stutter, an opportunity to optimize.

Here is a snapshot (not animated) of one of my machines for Invisible Ink. This was done at a cost of 370 gold, finished in 63 cycles and took an area of 50 hexes.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
From gallery of YellowLab

If you like puzzle games, you should give this one a shot. It is a well done game.
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19. Video Game: Killing Time at Lightspeed [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Kennan Ward
United States
Idaho
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Completed: Killing Time at Lightspeed
Platform: PC

A visual novel style game where you are taking a roughly 20 year trip to a space colony that only seems like a 30 minute trip for you. While you are traveling you keep up with news and old friends by checking on and replying to messages and posts on the current popular social media site, every time you refresh the main page over a year of time for everyone else has gone by. A good short game showing brief snippets of the lives of a small group of people as they deal with a frequently shifting tech and political climate.

https://twitter.com/Legolas_Katarn/status/121361809130678272...
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20. Video Game: Mega Man X2 [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1142]
Video Game: Mega Man X2
Железный комиссар
United States
Indiana
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Platform: SNES (via modded PSXC)

Clocktime: About 5 hours.

Completion: First time finishing, third time playing. Fun fact: X2 is the first thing I ever bought on Ebay in the early 2000s.

I got all heart containers and subtanks, as well as the radar, air-dash, x-buster, and armor upgrades.

There are three semi-hidden optional bosses during the main campaign, who can randomly distribute & redistribute themselves between the 8 main stages. They are more difficult than the 8 main-stage bosses, and very easy to permanently miss. I only defeated Agile. Since I didn't defeat Violen or Serges during the main game, I had to fight Zero during the boss-finale.

I also did not get the super-secret Shoryuken power-up.


Not technically a speedrun, but high-skill 100% with some interesting fan versions of the OST


Commentary: The fate of the X series has always been a head-scratcher for me. The NES Mega Man games had a hardcore following, were talked about in glowing terms, and sold reasonably well, but they weren't smash hits - not quite anyway. The best-selling game in the entire franchise is still 1988's Mega Man 2, with lifetime sales of 1.51 million. It's not even in Capcom's 50 best-sellers.

But, there was a very promising foundation there, and it always seemed to me that Mega Man X did a lot to make the series more accessible without compromising the experience for die-hard fans. You can play it as "direct confrontation," pitting your platforming and evasion skills against interesting levels and bosses, or you can play it as more strategic, indirect confrontation, ferreting out all of the heart-containers, subtanks, and armor upgrades, giving yourself plenty of breathing room. Mega Man X is also heavily de-emphasized instant death, which always seemed wise to me.

X2 tosses all that out the window. It's performatively hardcore in a way that irritates me - it seems to take for granted that the only people playing it are 'proud masters' of the genre and franchise. In other words, while not as exaggerated, X2 is a sequel in the tradition of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels.

External image


There are three significant ways that X2 diverges from the original. The most painful is that the upgrades hidden throughout the game now require daredevil perfectionist skill to obtain, often at the risk of instant-death. Whereas before the upgrades were a means of support and a reward for exploring, here the upgrades are a form of tough-love trolling, a kind of "need a hand? F*** you!" from the devs. -->IF<-- you get them, then yes, they help tremendously against bosses. But obtaining them is now one of the game's primary challenges, rather than its means of mitigating challenge. I would not even bother playing X2 without save states, since you often need to grind out a dozen or more instant deaths just learning how to obtain a power-up.

Secondly, instant death is about 5 times more prevalent in this game than it was in the original Mega Man X. In case that wasn't clear.

Thirdly, X2 has three optional & missable bosses, each guarding a Zero part which X wants to obtain and assemble. But, if you try to 'level up' for these fights, the optional bosses simply leave (I guess they have better things to do)... unless you collect upgrades and then deliberately suicide yourself back to the stage select screen. Along with the overall challenge level of the game, this creates an absolutely ridiculous incentive to "raid" upgrades from levels without finishing those levels, which is counter-intuitive and frankly kind of dumb.

I really don't know what Capcom was thinking with Mega Man X2. With X1, they had a game that 'worked' on multiple levels. With X2....

From gallery of JohnRayJr


5/10*

*Still, I've always wanted to climb this mountain, so, mission accomplished I suppose
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21. Video Game: Return of the Obra Dinn [Average Rating:8.37 Overall Rank:774]
Video Game: Return of the Obra Dinn
Kevin J
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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System: PC
Time: 8 hours

Return of the Obra Dinn
was played to completion
by Kevin J


In Return of the Obra Dinn, you play as an insurance claims inspector, and you set out upon the abandoned ship Obra Dinn to determine the fate of the ship and its crew and passengers. You get a magic pocketwatch which, if used on a dead body, brings you to the moment of that person's death (as well as some of the soundscape a few seconds prior to that moment). You can then walk around that frozen moment in time and investigate the people there, often finding another dead body in the scene to go back a few seconds prior to see what fate befell that person.

Your job is to identify all 60 people on board based on the crew manifest (which lists name, positions, and country of origin), determine their fate (shot, drowned, escaped, etc), and if applicable, the person who killed them.

Compared to other puzzle games, this one felt more to me like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You'll come across most people in multiple scenes, and you start to form connections, sort of like how you can sort out jigsaw pieces based on the color or try to find the edge pieces first. Once you find where a piece goes, the pool of pieces yet to place gets smaller. Sometimes you know enough to try to brute-force a few possible pieces, but sometimes you just need to leave it and come back later while you work on another section.

The game allows you to get some solutions by brute force and as best as I can tell, all but requires it for some fates. Most of the time, you can piece together answers based on logical deduction or sometimes other clues in the scene. For instance, one scene shows men up on the rigging of the ship; from that, you can assume everyone there is a "Topman" in the crew manifest. From there, you can make a guess at people's ethnicity based on their clothing, physical features, or accent. In a picture of the crew, you might notice them standing all together in a scene with another fellow; it then follows that the last fellow is probably also a Topman.

I enjoyed playing this game quite a bit; it kept me playing for hours at a time which is something I haven't done in a while. At 8 hours, it felt like a good length and didn't overstay its welcome.
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22. Video Game: LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:503]
Video Game: LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Platform : Windows
Playtime : 9.5 hours
First Time playing : No
Franchise : Lego games
Enjoyment :
The Legion : Game 2
The Oracles : Game 1


I completed the story mode of all levels in Episodes IV, V and VI, which comprise the original Star Wars Trilogy.

I find Lego games to be equally enjoyable and frustrating... I love the gameplay and the fact that you can break literally everything to collect studs... however I often find the level design frustrating.. especially levels where it seems impossible not to die repeatedly.. thereby losing all your hard earned studs!

Video Game: LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Fun with hats - Luke Leia, Princess Leia and Han Leia

This will be part of my 5 Games in the Same Franchise challenge...
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23. Video Game: Slay the Spire [Average Rating:8.36 Overall Rank:283]
Video Game: Slay the Spire
Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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PC (Steam)
Many, many playthroughs
69 Hours
Finally beat the
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Heart
with all 3 classes.


I know I said this back when I first beat the regular boss with my first class, but this game is just phenomenal. Losses always feel "fair" because you see it coming and can usually identify where you went wrong. I had the easiest time with the Defect, because it's a mage analogue, eventually got the Silent, but had a plethora of failed runs with the Ironclad before finally managing a win tonight.

I was saying to a friend visiting over New Years that the reason I love Slay the Spire is the same reason I'm giving up on Magic:Arena -- with the latter, I was always grinding quests, not enjoying the game, just wanting the results. With slay the spire, it's all about the journey, fun and compelling the whole way through.

I've disliked many a critically-acclaimed indie gem, but this one is the real deal. Highly recommended to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting.

EDIT
At 100 hours, I have now beaten the super-boss with the new Watcher class.
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24. Video Game: Super Mario Bros. 3 [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:29] [Average Rating:8.32 Unranked]
Video Game: Super Mario Bros. 3
Matt Utting
Australia
Preston
Victoria
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Time Taken: 2 hours (ish)
Platform NES (via Switch Online)
First time: no

This run through played through worlds 1 & 2 then warp whistled to 8 and struggled through. It's weird because world 8 feels both longer and shorter than I remember. I think it's because the bits before 8-1 seem to take much more time, but once you hit 8-1 there's not all that much content before you hit the castle (though it's still difficult).

So much of worlds 1 & 2 are stuck in my head and it's almost autopiloty for me. I remember where secrets are without remembering that there are secrets there and I have two of the Memory game patterns in my head (but just two annoyingly).

Having played the three SMBs for the NES, I think I like 3 the best (though SMW is still my overall 2D Mario fave). It's still a SMB game, but it has some much inventiveness and theme on it that just is playful.

But the way I play through SMB3 to beat it, skips over so much of the worlds that I enjoy exploring and playing around in. Thankfully playing on the switch I've been able to set a save point after world 2 so I can whistle to any world and goof around.
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25. Video Game: Captain Commando [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:4735]
Video Game: Captain Commando
United States
Washington
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Captain Commando - PC (Steam)
Played as part of Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle
Main game beaten
First time beaten
1 hour

2020 Videogame Challenge hardcore game beaten!
2/10 hardcore games total
2 hours total

This is the last game for me in Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle. It's hard to describe any coherent theme for this one except the design reminds me of 80s / early 90s cartoons like the first animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The gameplay was nothing special. Pretty comparable to the other beat-em-up games in the compilation.
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