Hot Shots Golf (PS1) – Review (kind of)

Growing up as an NES/Sega kid made me have some weird choices in the games I had as a kid. We got our Sega Genesis for Christmas and got to select from a range of games on the back of the box, getting one of them for free. I filed out the card, selecting a few games and ended up getting Pebble Beach Golf Links and played the shit out of it. I can’t say that it was my number one pick, but the whole family actually ended up liking it. The next golf game that I really ever got into would be Everybody’s Golf for the PS4, which I loved playing. So it was pretty interesting to go back to the game that started out the series on the PS1.

Just look how hot those games are!

I just have to get right out there and say that having this game on the PS Plus Premium service really made me play it in an odd way. I like the choice of game and that they added trophy support for it, I love how they’re doing that to select games even though every one of them should actually have it. I’m sure a lot of these developers are going to be hard to track down, and getting them to add trophy tags to their games will be next to impossible. The more games that get this feature, the more I’m going to play, that’s for sure.

So let’s get to the golf in this game. I don’t think it’s that great, especially compared to any golf game in todays market. My biggest gripe is the amount of control you have over your shots. The amount of options available to you make it seem like a math game at times. Let’s say you’re 50 yards from the hole and have to make chip shot, the wind is very mild and things are looking good. You hit the ball and it lands about a foot away from the hole. Because this game is emulated on the PS5, you get a rewind feature, so you rewind it and try to nudge the shot over to get your chip shot to go right in. You tap the button ever so slightly and try again, this time the ball goes two feet to the right of the hole. Shit, so let’s go back and try that again, tap it back to the left and the ball goes exactly where the other shot went. The amount of control you have is not granular enough to make every shot. It feels like it’s all integer based and not floating point. It’s actually a little crazy to think about how basic this golf model is. It’s a limitation of the technology and I’m not really faulting the game on that, even though it might feel that way. It’s nostalgic and interesting to see from a technical and historical perspective.

Where this is really evident is when you try to go for a few of the trophies, like getting a hole in one or an albatross. Let’s say you’re on a par 5 course and trying to get it in in two shots. The first one is going to have to get you close to the hole for a nice chip shot. Depending on where your first shot goes, it may just be impossible for the next shot to get in because of the way the ball physics and controls work. You’ll have to retake your first shot off the tee and try to see if you hit it in the right spot this time so the math works out for your next shot. It’s cute how simple it all is.

The craziest part of this game is just having that rewind functionality. I couldn’t help but just use it each time I fucked up. I knew it was ruining my experience of the game but I just couldn’t stop. That meant I never really fucked up a shot, every time I went to put, the ball went in, because why wouldn’t it? It made me just demolish every versus player I went up against. Knocking them all out, unlocking all the characters and trophies as I went.

One of the craziest things I came across while playing are the occasions when your computer controlled opponents get into a loop of fucking up their shots. This water hazard image shows my opponent constantly chipping her shot into the water. She was on the other bank and kept trying to chip the ball onto the green over the water. The lie of her ball just wouldn’t allow her shot to get to the green, so she kept going over and over until she hit a high number and was disqualified. It happened a few other times when they got stuck in a sand trap and the ball would never get out. The AI just doesn’t have the programming to realize the shot is impossible, where they should just chip to the side or back onto the fairway and try again from a better position.

FINAL SCORE – 6.2

It’s interesting to just see how the evolution of golf games have gone over the years. If you have any interest in golf games it’s a must play. They really had the start of something wonderful with this title, from the little characters to the fun courses. I do think that it’s way to basic to be considered seriously in todays market. There also feels like a little bit of lag is present when picking your power and accuracy. It ends up feeling random and not skill based if I was going to get the perfect shot that I wanted. I’d recommend trophy hunters and people into the history of games to give this a shot. If you want a better game of golf though, try out one of the newer versions instead.

IQ Intelligent Qube – Review (ish)

IQ: Intelligent Qube is a Playstation 1 puzzle game from 1997, making it 25 years old. That’s a little insane to think about, especially since I remember playing a demo for this game at some point around then. I also remember not really understanding what to do in the game and giving up on it fairly quick. It would then always shock me when I heard people talking about how good this game is and that it’s a bit of a classic. With that all in mind, it’s nice that this is one of the first games Sony added to their PS Plus Premium tier. I especially like that it has trophy support since we all need more ways to feed that addiction.

I booted this game up and skipped the tutorial section and instantly had no fucking clue of what to do. I kept getting run over by the rotating blocks as they slowly marched towards my little polygonol character. Instead, I hopped on YouTube and thumbed through a quick tutorial just to get the gist of the game. I was now prepared to dominate this game.

The game consists of three colored blocks, black, grey, and green. They slowly rotate in unison down the stage until falling off the edge. Your goal is to mark blocks for deletion, trying to clear all the grey blocks before they fall off. Take out a green and that spot gets marked, activate that mark and you clear all surrounding blocks. The trick is to leave all the black blocks intact, that’s where the skill lies. You’re allowed to mess up a few times, but like with any good puzzle game, it’s more rewarding and challenging to perfect each stage.

With just a little bit of knowledge of the mechanics of this puzzle game, I was quickly able to plow through the whole thing in just over an hour, getting every single trophy and earning that coveted platinum. I feel like that’s what makes a good puzzle game, being able to pick it up with the core concepts of how it works and use those to take down some puzzles.

What trivialized the game to me was the ability to use the rewind feature of the classic emulation on the PS5. Any mistakes I made were quickly rectified through a quick rewind of the game. Don’t wait to die and restart the level, just go back a few seconds and make that critical move. It was a great tool in helping me tear through a classic game in record time while getting the platinum.

I feel like that is the more interesting topic in this whole subscription service and these classic games. You provide tools that allow you to quickly put down certain games. The only thing I feel like I may miss is a fast forward feature like the modern remakes of the old Final Fantasy games have. So if you want, you can get a taste of what these classic games have to offer. You don’t have to really spend much time with them and you can beat them fairly easily. Is it the experience the developers originally wanted players to have? Not in the least, but is that okay with you?

The game controls like an old PS1 game trying to get to grips with 3D. Directional movement isn’t smooth, when the camera moves and your character is trying to do precise movement, directionality tends to get locked up (think Resident Evil controls when the camera moves). The character you control will sometimes just not move where you think he should. It could definitely be frustrating if you didn’t have the rewind function. With it I found I’d just rewind and try again without getting upset, so that feature ended up being a positive to the game design.

Final Score – 7

In the end, I’m happy for this game to be in the PS Premium tier with trophies. I am actually happy that I got to play all the way through it and have a platinum trophy to show for it. It feels like a small part of my gaming history has come to a close.

Ape Escape (PS1) – Review

Another classic PS1 game to play on my PlayStation 5. Oh how time flies. I have a lot of history with this game. I remember picking it up for PS1 when it came out back in May 1999 from my local Toy’s R Us. It was the first game to explicitly require you to use a DualShock controller. So not only did I have to buy this game, I had to get a controller with it just to play it. That’s a big ask for a kid with limited funds, but I was already sold on the possibilities this new controller could provid.

You have to see how crazy this scene is in motion, building move around, wobbling like they’re made of jelly.

What’s interesting about these times is that a full three years prior, Sega released their Saturn 3D controller to use with Nights into Dreams. That was a controller with one analogue stick, along with the traditional D-Pad, that would give you smoother control over the way your character would fly through the environments. Instead of a digital interface, like a keyboard, you got the smooth motion that only an analogue stick could provide. Sony just went to the next level and added another stick, forever changing the game. The history of console gaming has to give it up for the efforts of Sony and these developers for making it a requirement to play this game, it’s just sucks that the first person shooters of the time didn’t get the memo.

This is what I respect out of this game. I have to give it up for the fact that they were the first to go all in on this new standard of control. It’s a little harder to praise the rest of the game though. The new PS Plus subscription service allows you to play some of these old games on PS5, I’ve already played a few of the other PS1 classic games, but this title really highlights a main issue I have with these games. For context, the PS1 has some really weird graphical issues when you play them, polygons seem to be made out of Jell-O and textures warp left and right all the time. The texture warping doesn’t really bother me that much, it’s what 3D games on a PS1 look like, so I can overlook that (even though modern emulators have solved this problem). My main issue with the 3D games on PS1, and especially this one, is the way the PS1 handles vertex points. If you don’t know, a 3D object is made up of polygons, each triangle polygon is composed of three vertex points. The PS1 can only do integer translation of these vertex points, which means the hardware itself didn’t have support for floating point calculations. So what does that get us in the 3D games that came out? It means that vertices constantly snap as they move, it’s not gradual and can honestly be visually annoying and can cause headaches. I feel like this problem is exacerbated by the fact that we’re now playing these games at higher resolutions on 4K screens, the problem is just amplified to an insane degree. Modern emulators can solve these issues, but that feature is currently not supported on the emulator the PS5 uses at this time.

Ape Escape is almost hilarious to play today. As you go through a few stages, you start to realize just how small these levels are. You can catch all the monkeys and get the collectable coin(s) in about 5-10 minutes. The draw distance in the game is insanely short as well, with parts of the level fading into the skybox at about 50 feet from the character.

I ran through the whole game and got the platinum in this one as well, but I did use my trusty rewind feature. I would run up to monkeys and if they got away after a bad catch attempt, I would just rewind it and try again.

I wouldn’t say this is a great game in today’s landscape, especially considering the evolutionary leaps in controls and gameplay since this titles release. Even compared to Mario 64, which came out 3 years prior, the controls are no match to what Nintendo were already doing. The controls in this game are a little bit of a gimmick, the right stick is used to give directionality to your attacks, which makes the camera controls default to the left and right of the D-Pad. This feels horrible and actually made me change the controllers button mapping on the console level to swap the R2 and L2 for the left and right D-Pad. There wasn’t way to make this change in the game which was frustrating.

a cinematic scene without the draw fog.

Another one of those classic PS1 games that I am glad I went through and got the platinum but couldn’t see myself ever playing this again, perhaps in another 23 years or so. It feels like watching an old movie today, you have to understand the cultural context to when it was released to really appreciate it, and I appreciate this game for what it’s done. It really needed some quality of life improvements like better controls and the ability to map buttons differently. It would have also benefited heavily from modding the game to allow for floating point calculations, I really had a hard time towards the end of the game with the way the motion of the polygons were translating, it was honestly giving me a headache. I also did play this on a 77″ TV, which made the actual jumps between frames turn into inches of my screen. If you play this on a 13″ CRT monitor using VGA cables, I’m pretty positive those issues aren’t as noticeable.

The draw distance is funny.

Final Score – 6.8

Play it just to see and feel a little bit of the history of video games and to help understand where the industry evolved from. This is a landmark title that is a little rough around the edges by today’s standards. The story is basic as fuck, the graphics are hilarious, and the controls are frustrating until you adjust them on a console level, and then they’re just a bit better. It will be really interesting to see what the sequel did for the series though, so perhaps I’ll try that at some point. One more thing though, the main character Spike, sucks. I beat the game and can’t remember him having any sort of personality or even saying anything. I’m sure he must have, but this is not a mascot for Sony by any stretch of the imagination.

Big boss battle!
What until you see this in motion. The vertex points are popping all over.

I Collected ALL the Cars in Gran Turismo 7 and All I Got Was…

That’s right, I collected ALL the cars in Gran Turismo 7 and all I got was the pride in knowing I got all the cars without paying a penny!

Does that sound enticing to you? It shouldn’t.

How did I do this you may or may not ask?

Well, when the game came out, people were just talking so much shit about how it’s full of anti-consumer micro transactions that it kind of stirred something in me. For context, I beat the game, did all the books, got a majority of all the trophies, and didn’t spend a dime on in-game currency. You frankly don’t need to, that’s not really what this game is all about. If you think you need to spend money for this game, I don’t think you’ve actually played it and/or know what you’re talking about. By the time I rolled credits on the game I had a few million left in the bank and about 100 cars collected already. So what happened?

Full collection 433/433.

I grew up playing Gran Turismo on PlayStation 1. I had both GT1 and 2 for that console and my brother and I would play it constantly. I kept up with the series and bought every title released, although I did drop out of racing games and only played Sport a little bit, mostly because it came with my VR headset. I don’t consider myself a racing guy and really only stick to GT and Forza Horizon these days. So I really wasn’t sure about picking up this title, especially at the marked up 70USD price tag PS5 games are going for.

I did, however, have an idea about going for the platinum trophy in this game. Prior entries in the series have ridiculously hard platinum trophies that I would never even attempt to get. This one felt doable, except for the Le Mans trophy that requires you to buy or collect (but really buy) three legendary cars from the Hagerty dealer. These cars weren’t known at the time so people were just trying to take educated guesses until they figured it out. Looking into all this caused me to stumble on some threads about AFK credit farming in the game.

So after a little bit of reading, I decided to give this a shot. I thought it would be funny to earn money in this game while they’re charging real money to consumers to buy these credits. A little “fuck you” to the developers and people in charge at Sony that thought this was a good idea in a 70USD game. My method involved using PS Remote Play and a keyboard script that would automatically control my car and navigate through the menus to constantly play one stage over and over in a car that would win a race while riding against the railing. Silly and stupid, no doubt about it, but it works and I find that hilarious.

How many people max out the money without paying a dime?

You can see that I have all 433 cars (as of this writing that’s all the cars). Some of the harder cars to get would be the ones where you need to be invited by the dealer to buy. These invites were randomly awarded to players through the legitimately unfair roulette ticket system. Where you earn tickets of varying star ratings and then get to spin a roulette wheel for your reward. This system will 9/10 times give you the worst valued item as well, you don’t want to give the player too much money or it’ll break the economy. Polyphony Digital had some issues with this and allowed users to access all these invites for a short time, so that was prime opportunity for me to go in and scoop up all those cars, one problem done and dusted.

The next issue was the biggest, the Hagerty collection. A slowly rotating group of cars that can cost up to 20 million credits each. So as I slowly amassed my fortune, I would venture into the Hagerty collection to see if there was a new car for the day, scoop it up, and then go check the used car dealer for anything new as well. Then I would systematically go through the normal dealer, one by one, buying every car they had to offer. At first this was harder to do, the max amount of money allowed in your account was just 20 million, so you could quickly run out of money and not have anything left to buy a rare Hagerty car the next day.

Take it from me, I opened all these and got shit 98% of the time. Pointless.

When I wasn’t checking the daily deals available I would have my console running non-stop. I eventually moved it from my PS5 to my old PS4 Pro. Having the PlayStation console and computer running the remote software hard wired helped with the network connection and the hotkey software, but because I have a mesh network, sometimes doing intense internet related things on other devices would cause the connection to degrade, which would mess up the hotkey application. So it had to be monitored frequently, which was annoying. I eventually got the whole setup working well, earning millions of credits for me each day. I even took a trip around Japan and would remote into my computer from my iPad to check the progress. I could restart the farming or check out the new stock in the game through this setup, a little funky doing it all through an iPad, but I really wasn’t trying to take a laptop on this trip.

I eventually got it down to only needing one car, the Ferrari F40 ’92. I had missed it the first time it was available since I wasn’t farming cars yet. So I had to just wait on Hagerty to finally rotate through all the cars so it’d be available again. 2.6 million credits later and it was mine.

This car turned into my white whale. It was a lovely sight seeing it available, pretty cheap too!

The Aftermath

If you’d played GT7 you know you get a little message as you grow your collection. This happens when you hit certain milestones, like 100 and 200 cars. I was expecting some sort of fanfare for the person that actually got every car in the game, even all the ones they release each month for free, but nothing happened. No fanfare, congratulations, or anything. I think the real congratulations is that I did this without spending a dime of real world money.

So what are the stats you ask? Here we go.

Cars Bought – 363
Credits Spent on Cars – 424,588,607
Total Distance Driven – 116,943 Miles
Total Time Driven – 652 hours
Total Fuel Consumed – 80,432 liters
Average Fuel Consumed – 5.00 MPG
Total Credits Acquired – 469,586,047

If I were to spend real money to acquire those credits it would have cost me –
212 packs of 2 Million credits = 4,240 USD

I drove around the equator 4.7 times.
Which is about halfway to the moon.

Should other people do this? It really depends on how dedicated you are to actually completing this task. It became a part of my daily routine to have to check up on these systems and to jump into the game to check the in-game store for new stock of cars. Once I actually started, part of me couldn’t really stop either, I needed to just hit my goal of getting every car. I have a bit of OCD in me, so that helped with this method, while also being a fairly pointless endeavor in the grand scheme of things. The issue now is whether I have to continue collecting cars as they’re released. I still have a little over 40 Million credits just sitting there for new cars to come out. I also kind of stopped playing the game while this was all going on. I felt like I was wasting my time playing when it could be grinding currency for me in the background. When I first hit 100 Million, which is the new cap, I felt like I could just give it all a rest since I had bought the majority of the cars by then.

This process felt like a small way of saying “fuck you” to the people in charge of implementing these mechanics into triple A games from major developers. I would rather pay for a season pass or expansion pack once a year than see inflated currencies in my games. If you feel like in-game currency that can be bought with real money has zero effect in the way pricing or payouts are handled in the game you are absolutely wrong. However, you DO NOT have to use real currency to play and enjoy this game on a daily basis, I would actually recommend not to do this and to not grind currency like I did. I don’t get that mentality from people that truly love these games. This is a game that will get updated monthly for years to come, it’s meant to be slow played. So try to take your time and enjoy it. Save up for a car and really understand the way it drives, go for the ones you’re passionate about. Perhaps they need to add a test drive function so players can have a couple laps in different cars. I took a different route, which may hinder my long term enjoyment of this title, but I like to think I’ll still enjoy it for years to come. I do have those 50 online races to go through for my trophy still.

20 million for a car I’m probably never going to drive. Insane.

Shenmue 2 – Review

I originally played through Shenmue 2 on the XBox when it came out in 2001, so it’s been a solid 20 years since I last checked in on Ryo Hazuki. The most interesting part of playing this game is just how small and insignificant it makes the first game feel, which I wasn’t expecting. That’s because when I remember back to playing these games I had all these great memories of playing through the first Shenmue, with it’s engrossing story and memorable scenes, with the second game being little more than a footnote in my memory.

To put all this into context, Shenmue 1 is the first chapter of the saga. Shenmue 2 covers chapters 3 to 5. The missing chapter 2 is a comic book story that covers the boat trip Ryo takes after he left Yokosuka, Japan. It makes sense when I go back to my review of Shenmue and take note of how short the story is and how it basically just feels like it’s the opening to a grander story, because that’s exactly what it is.

Shenmue 2 takes place in Hong Kong and then ventures a bit into mainland China in the final, brief, chapter of the game. This is probably where I have one of my biggest complaints about this game, the location. It feels a little odd that the game went into Hong Kong in these chapters. I feel a personal disconnect from what I felt when playing Shenmue 1, perhaps it’s my own bias towards Japanese architecture and culture.

When you get off the boat at the beginning of the game you’re in Aberdeen harbor, it’s honestly one of the ugliest locations in a video game I’ve seen in a while. The buildings are all this horribly textured red brick. The lack of geometric detail and lighting, combined with low quality texture work, just makes the whole image hard to look at. It starts to get a little better as the game progresses, but even then you’re mainly inside large buildings with repeating geometry and texture work.

A really ugly environment.

Yes, this game is pretty ugly to look at. Some of the NPCs will make you laugh because of the way they’re represented. It almost feels like the Japanese developers are kind of taking the piss out of the Chinese people in their game. You do have to take into consideration that this game is a port, not a remake. It was originally developed for the Dreamcast and Microsoft made a deal to get distribution rights for the XBox in the States, which means the game models aren’t improved or anything for this title.

I went back and forth on being impressed that a Dreamcast could render scenes in such detail, but other times I was really scratching my head at just how bad things looked back then. I can really see a remake of these games with the Dragon Engine from the Yakuza developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. I would personally love a complete remaster, but I don’t see a world where that would be financially viable for a studio to commit those levels of resources and money for this brand.

So let’s talk about playing the game. The map system is almost completely useless here. You first need to buy a map for each and every area you load into. The city is broken up into multiple parts, so one map will not be enough. The names of building will not be on this map, they simply give you something in the corner of your screen to orient yourself with. If you want to find a specific place, you have to ask people for directions or find a map directory in the world that you can zoom into and look for your destination. I ended up just pulling up a map on my laptop and keeping that up, way easier.

A big complaint that I had on the first game was the amount of time I waisted just sitting around killing time as I waited for the next scheduled event to take place. In this game that’s almost completely eliminated. You can fast travel in specific instances, it’ll always give you the option to wait and speed up time. If you run out the clock on a day it’ll bring you back to your resting spot, then the next morning, it’ll give you the option to continue from yesterday and warp you back. It’s nice to see the evolution and problem solving at work. If you just want the story then this is a great quality of life feature added over the first game.

The fighting is better than it is in the first game. In Shenmue I felt like I had almost no control over a fight and just smashed the same few attacks and I’d eventually win the match. There’s a bit more strategy involved in this one, especially when you get to the later parts of the game and have to do a series of street fights to progress. It’s by no means a great fighting system. You wont have fun doing it and you wont look forward to fighting at all. Just keep at it and you’ll get through it.

Let’s not even get into the QTEs and how stupid they are. You have to do button presses at various story moments and fight sequences. This is not a good mechanic that holds up to the test of time. It was meant to provide a more cinematic experience but really it just frustrates the player if they mess up. You end up not caring about what’s happening because all you’re doing is trying to input a dumb sequence of button presses so you don’t have to start the whole sequence over again. This is a slam against all instances of QTE throughout all video games, it is simply a commentary on how they were implemented in this title.

If you intend to play this game I recommend that you use a guide to get you through the story. I don’t have time in my life to play this game the way you were supposed to when it came out. I don’t want to run around asking people where to go and piece together all the clues. Modern games would just give you waypoints on your next objective, pointing you to a restaurant you’ve never been to, this game makes you figure all that out yourself. I didn’t just want to beat this game or see the story, I was aiming to get the platinum trophy for both Shenmue 1 & 2 so I followed a trophy guide. Luckily, it was a fairly straightforward platinum and doesn’t require you to have to do a bunch of extra tasks, which is really nice.

I did come to this game for the story. I wanted to play through all three titles just to see what happens at the end of the third game. I think I owed it to my younger self to experience all the Shenmue that I can and to at least get the platinum trophy in the first two games. I’ve been looking at what’s involved for the third game and I’m not sure I care that much about collecting herbs, but I’ll see what happens when I get there.

What can I really say about the story in this game? It’s slightly better than the first game. I’m simply talking about the story itself here, not the way it’s presented or anything like that. There’s a bit more action towards the end of the game that really makes you feel like you’re actually in the second act of the game. Things are happening, granted, there all happening in a 17 story building that seems to go on forever and everything looks the same. You start to learn about the mirrors and what they do. Some mystical/magical things happen with the mirror that isn’t physically possible. Lan Di is talked about a lot and you get to see him at the end battle, but he’s not involved and just hangs off a ladder attached to a helicopter. This is literaly the weirdest game ever made.

The final chapter of the game has you going into mainland China to rescue a girl in a river chasing a deer. She seems to have magical capabilities or something and keeps reciting a poem that references you coming to her. You get to run around a forest for what seems like forever. You see the Shenmue tree and use a sword and the mirror to make a sword float in mid air. What does it all mean?!

I don’t even know…

Do you see what I’m saying? I have no idea. This is what I was left with 20 years ago, an image of this. This is what all of us Shenmue fans had to go on. Then Yu Suzuki crowdfunds a sequel to this game and it gets greenlit. I hope he can wrap up this story in the sequel because I really don’t think he’s going to get another shot at it.

Final Score – 7.1

I think it’s a better game than the original. As hard as it is for me to say that it is a better game. The setting and the sheer volume of memes from the first game make it more memorable by a mile. Is this a good game that people should actually play in 2021 though? No. Only people with a soft spot for this series should even think about going back to these games. It’s fascinating to see what they were trying to do with the technology they had at the time. They were clearly overambitious and bit off more than they could chew. If you have never experienced a Shenmue game then you really need to give it a try, it’s interesting for sure.

My First Hard-Off – Fujisawa

If you don’t know, Hard-Off is a store in Japan that sells a bunch of used stuff. Usually of the “hard” variety if you can believe it. This can be video games, consoles, stereos, CD’s, fake guns, figures, musical instruments, etc. It’s just a ton of stuff that you can dig through. The reason I go to them are for their selection of retro games. As I show of more and more of the stores that I’ve visited I’ll have more photos to really show what’s available and talk about what you can expect to find in these stores compared to other places in Japan.

This first store I chose was in Fujisawa. I selected it because it wasn’t that far for me to travel and it seemed like it was a big store. It’s also about a 5 minute walk from the station to the store, which is a great asset considering the distance of a few of the other stores I’ve visited more recently. It’s a multi story building with an Off-House, Hobby-Off and then a Hard-Off on the top floor. Those other names are for clothes and hobby stuff, pretty easy to understand.

To be honest, I really didn’t take a lot of photos of the inside of this store, which is something I’ll fix on subsequent Hard-Off excursions. The photo above was pulled off of google maps but I felt like it needed to be shown. You can see a good selection of Famicom games in the image, loose carts in bags on hooks and boxed copies on the bottom. The store had a decent selection of Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Playstation 1, 2, 3, & 4, and even some Saturn games and perhaps a random other console or two here and there. It’s a little hard to find Mega Drive games since those seem to be pretty rare outside of Akihabara.

Now, being my first store I got pretty excited and wanted to start collecting games right away. So I inevitably bought all of these games in the two images below. I never had a Super Nintendo or Super Famicom growing up, so I definitely wanted to get some of the classics for the console. I did, however, have a Nintendo 64 so I wanted to get a few of the games I loved for that console as well.

Super Famicom games I bought.

As you can tell from the images, I mostly bought boxed copies of the games and only picked up four loose carts. I do regret buying those loose carts now, I realized that I prefer to have a complete boxed copies of all my games. I love the fact that some of these games are 30 years old and are still in such good condition. It’s such a treasure to look at the box art and flip through the manual and see all the cool artwork inside. As I play these games I’ll definitely post pictures of the boxes and manuals so others can experience it as well.

N64 games I picked up.

As I visited this store I did not have a Super Famicom or N64 to play any of these titles, those consoles will come later and I’ll go into how that all works in another post.

Back to the store! Should you go visit this Hard-Off in your search for retro video games? I want to say yes and no. They do have a fairly ample selection of games and consoles available. They even had a decent, if not small money case of highly valuable games. One of the games I was looking for was Super Metroid on the Super Famicom, which they had in the money case. It was a little tattered looking and cost around 50 USD for a boxed copy, I’m pretty happy that I didn’t just buy the first copy I found and waited to see what other stores had to offer.

Look at that first image I posted and see if you can spot anything wrong with the layout of the store. This is something I only realized as I was going through all the games while in the store. A lot of the Super Famicom and Famicom games are on display right in front of a large floor to ceiling window. It’s really a shame at what they’re doing to a lot of these products. You can immediately see sun damage on a good portion of their stock. You can spot carts and boxes that have been sitting on the shelves for a long time because their colors are well faded. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a game in great condition, it’ll all probably just depend on how long they’ve been on the shelves for. The other systems, for the most part aren’t affected by any of this and still look in great shape.

All Hard-Off stores have a section they call junk. These products don’t come with a warranty and you take a risk in buying anything from here. They have blue bins full of old games that you can sort through. You’ll also find bins of AV cables, controllers and any other peripheral you can think of. The majority of these products will cost you about a dollar.

From the boxed games I bought, they ranged in price from under three dollars to about thirteen at the max. Way cheaper than the prices you’d find in Akihabara for sure, but perhaps with a few caveats that I’ll explore later on. For now, that’s one Hard-Off store down, let’s see which one we go to next! (Oh, and definitely more and more pictures of other stores.)

Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PS5) – Review

Having played the original Mass Effect on the XBox 360 when it came out, the second game on PC, and not having a solid memory of playing the third game on anything, I had to pick this collection up. This was a day one purchase and a series I truly enjoyed replaying.

This is my Shepard, there are many like her, but this one is mine.

Over the years I forgot most of the story of Mass Effect. I remembered bits about splitting up your team on a suicide mission, Mass Effect relays, sexual relationships, and scanning planets for hours on end. Having just completed the collection, I’m drawn to the relationship with Liara that my fem-Shep carried through all the games. How I spurned the advances from my other team members. How we took down the shadow broker and revived a Prothean all while saving the universe.

The games do need to be played back-to-back to get a true feeling for the brilliance of this series. If you pick up the Legendary Edition, make sure you have the time to commit to the whole series, the payoff is all the better for it. The amount of time needed to beat each ones goes up with each game. Depending on trophy hunting and completion ration, you’re looking at 15-30 hours per game.

The first game is a little rough around the edges. The environments are really basic and there isn’t much depth to any aspect of the game besides the storytelling. While that sounds like a negative, it’s not a knock against the game. You’re already jumping into a massive trilogy, so feeling this first game out and seeing that it’ll be a relatively short and easy romp provides a good sense of motivation. There aren’t a lot of side missions to mess around with. Levels are pretty basic so you’re not going to get lost or frustrated. Just dig into the fantastic story and start learning about the lore of the universe. Spend some time getting to know all of the squadmates and engross yourself into the world.

I started the game thinking that I’d go renegade (dark side), as apposed to paragon (light side). From my first interaction I realized that I just can’t be a dick to people. I wanted to help everyone out, be the hero, get my girl, and save the day. So Paragon it was.

STNG reference?

The first game has one really major choice for your character to make, it has to do with the squad-mate you send to die. You get to chose between Ashley and Kaiden, needless to say the guy took the bullet for the team on this one. He was a good soldier and understood the risks involved and was wiling to make a sacrifice for the galaxy.

I’m not going to dive deep into the story in this review because that’s the whole point of the series. The story is the main driving force and the relationships you form with your crew are all the flavor your little ice cream shop needs to stay in business. The first game does start surprisingly well. The voice acting holds up, even though the character animations and graphics don’t. It would have been really nice to have seen this series get the Demon Souls treatment and brought into the current generation of graphics. As it is, it’s a nice lookback of the evolution of the series and how their engine evolved over the three games.

The guy is old.

The second game immediately feels tighter in the gameplay area. Combat is more strategic, you don’t have to just run around with a handgun shooting people in the head. The AI in the first game is pretty horrible, characters would just move left and right like big idiots, the second game bestows them with more of a brain and they’re now capable of using cover.

The biggest addition the second game makes is the introduction of the Illusive Man played by Martin Sheen. It’s a cool concept to have this perceived enemy, with crazy eyes and a room looking over a star that is controlling your characters actions and all that it implies. You get a mix of old and new crew along with DLC characters that are all included in this game.

Illusive Man.

The game world itself expands from the first, now worlds are more detailed and not as cookie-cutter like how the first game felt. The universe is a bit bigger and has more places to explore. You now get bespoke loyalty missions with each of your squadmates. These missions allow you to get some one-on-one time with your crew to help them out and learn more about them. They are each a great chance to play a cool mission while hanging out with your crew and making them happy.

This is the game that made planet scanning a thing. The thing is, and here is a tip for all you trophy hunters, you don’t need to scan that many planets. Just take it easy, every solar system does not need to get 100% scanned or drained of resources or anything like that. It’s a waist of time, trust me. It’s funny how scanning planets is a memory I clearly have from over a decade ago…

Choices.

The hacking in this game is also so much better than the first one, you don’t have to do that simple puzzle game anymore, now you get a few different options based on the type of device you’re getting into, and they’re a little more stimulating this time which is good.

Some highlights from this game are taking down the Shadow Broker, Jack’s storyline, and the final assault where the whole team comes together to do a mission. Nobody on my team died because I looked at a trophy guide and made sure I ticked all the boxes, but it’s just fun to finally have everyone you’ve met get involved in a big mission. It made the stakes feel even that much more important to the story, especially for the player.

Old Friends.

After taking down the second game, I was almost about to stop playing and mix it up a bit with another game. I am so glad I didn’t do that and just started up the next one. Now remember, I just got the platinum in two games in a row, even though they are much easier to get now than in the original trophy list, which was something I never even considered doing. So I had a few more hours invested in each game than someone else who just wants the story. I was immediately hooked in the story and just wanted to see it through the end. I loaded up my save character and got to work!

The best thing about this game is that you get to start with a bunch of level up points that you can spend on skills, and you start with a bit of money which makes everything a little easier.

Choices

Immediately you can tell this is a new game. It just felt even better to play than the second game. Movement felt fresh and you weren’t confined to the running stamina bar you had in the second game. Character models all look pretty good, the females in this game have bodies out of magazines, which is a look. The weirdest thing I found in all these games is the way Shepard walks, there is something about her gate. When you think about it you can figure out what is happening, I think they have one skeleton that they use for all their characters. That means that everyone will have the same basic proportions and the joints will be in the same places. To accommodate certain species and genders using one rig, something has to not look right, and it’s definitely female Shepard. As she saunters around the galaxy, looking like a cowboy or something. She has one of the oddest gaits of any character in a game. It’s not a huge deal, just an interesting artifact to uncover.

Another thing that shocked me was when I saw Ashley Williams. I guess being a Specter suits her well. She cleaned herself up, got a haircut and learned how to put on makeup. It’s pretty hilarious to see how her character evolved over the games. I wonder what happened in the meetings with the character artists as they were putting this game together.

Ashely, meet Ashley. She’ll be replacing you from now on.

The thing that blew me away with the third game was just how many different environments and art assets you see in your journey. You go from a mission on a crashed ship in the middle of an ocean where you dive down in a mech suit to the bottom searching for your goal to a densely populated city where you’re helping freedom fighters take back a city. It just adds to the world building and makes you feel more connected with an actual universe of people who are all counting on the success of your mission. Compare that to some of the previous games and it does feel like there is a bigger budget on this title.

This game adds a war assets feature where every good deed you do and every alley you recruit adds to a growing pool of assets. The more you get the better your outcome is in the end. Needless to say, you kind of want to get as many forces together as possible. Not just for the number or for the outcome it provides, but you want to stay in this world just a little bit longer. You want to get that flotilla together because you’ve been hearing about these people since the first game. You feel a need to make the rounds, to touch base with everyone you can and to join hands in stopping this genocide from happening.

Perhaps it’s because Liara is my girl and I stayed faithful to her throughout the series, but I did feel a connection to her. It’s a little sad that you can’t go full dating sim with her and that you only get a few scripted moments to have any real sort of connection. It would have been nice to get that a little more fleshed out, but that’s a criticism I have for a lot of games with this type of mechanic. In the end, they did do a good job with her relationship, so I’m not complaining too much.

If you have a problem with Jack dancing on the table, you tell her to stop.

Another great moment in this game is when you get to bring everyone to your apartment to have a party. It’s a great time to just have the whole crew together for a celebration, where characters can loosen up and get drunk. It was fun seeing everyone interact with each other, which doesn’t happen that often with the dynamics of ship life.

The funny thing about the ending is that I can’t say I was overly happy about the way it turned out. For those that want to know, you get to choose between three different outcomes for the universe, or go down a secret path were it’s basically game over and you fucked up. I don’t like how ambiguous the ending feels, no matter which one you choose. I got a little beacon of hope at the end, but I still would have liked just a bit more. It’s a little sad knowing that the new game, Andromeda, doesn’t really pick up on this character arc and they team decided to start so far away from this world and everything that was established in this trilogy.

My girl.

Final Score – 9.4

This was a fantastic series. Playing through this legendary edition made me really love Mass Effect all over again. Time had worn down my appreciation for the series. It left it as a memory of something that was good, but today probably wouldn’t hold up. I was wrong. These games do hold up, and they tell a science fiction story full of depth, heart, and intrigue. I finished the series and had the same feeling I got from finishing a good TV show or movie series in which you’re fully invested in the characters and world for an extended period of time. You just want to live in it a little longer and digest everything that just happened. The only thing left for me to do would be to play through again as a renegade asshole. Here’s hoping that a remake of this series, similar to Demon’s Souls on PS5 is in the works.

Stadia – You Wont Be Missed

To the surprise of nobody, Stadia is officially making it’s first pivot into the dumpster fire of forgotten video game projects. It’s doing this by cancelling all internally developed game projects and focusing on offering it’s services to other companies.

So two Google owned game studios, about 150 creative developers, and one Jade Raymond will all have to find work elsewhere. That’s Google for you. You have to wonder what was happening at those game studios, what those games were looking like for Google to just pack it in and call it a day. Did they think the strategy they had was going to perform better in the time allotted? If so, hire me as an executive and I’ll come up with a better roadmap for you streaming service, you clearly were misled We all knew from day one, or maybe by the launch of Stadia, that it wasn’t going to be blow anyone over. I was initially excited of what could have been possible technically. Their technology allows for the possibility of having a massive amount of computational power delivering visuals impossible by the standard computer or console hardware, all to deliver breathtaking visuals and simulations. Instead, they opted to have traditional ports of games and even those didn’t always run at 4k resolutions.

What really interests me about all of this is the career of Jade Raymond. You might remember her as the attractive woman in every video produced back when she was working at Ubisoft. It felt like her beauty was a marketing tool to sell games, promote Ubisoft, and as a symbol of sexism in the industry. Yes, the gaming industry has attractive women and they can be in a position of power. I’m not saying a woman can’t be beautiful and work in video games, it felt like she was used in a lot of promotional videos and there were a lot of horny guys creeping on her in the comments section. You didn’t see a lot of women faces in gaming videos even ten years ago, so if it took Jade to kickstart it then it’s a net positive. I just wish, and she probably did too, that it wasn’t so creepy back then.

None of that really bothers me though, what really bothers me about her career, and that of another prominent female developer, Amy Hennig, is that they don’t actually make games anymore. Amy Hennig hasn’t launched a game in 10 years, but continues to work in the industry while she’s touted as this symbol of being a female director that makes AAA games, yet they keep getting cancelled. Jade Raymond is finding herself in the same situation. They take these roles at studios where they are used as a selling point for the larger company, look who we got to head our studio, two years later their game gets cancelled and the studio goes in a different direction.

I wish they would try to make a “normal” game at a “normal” studio just so it can get released. Hennig is currently at Skydance Media, which I hope culminates in a released product that we can all experience. Do something smaller, unless they’re just trying to make that money and in that case “do you”. Ken Levine would be a similar example for the male side of the industry, it’s been 8 years since his last game was released.

That might be a bit of a tangent, we are here to talk about the failure that is Stadia. We were all waiting for the shoe to drop and it just did. I never even tried the service, never had a reason to. Makes me wonder if any other company will utilize their infrastructure. Perhaps a Sony or Nintendo would think about getting onboard and renting hardware to improve their streaming capabilities to compete with Microsoft.

Days Gone – Review

This is one of those PlayStation first party games that I didn’t think I’d ever play. It’s hard getting the motivation to play open-world games, especially if you already play each new Assassin’s Creed game that comes out. Add that to the growing list of other games, like Ghost of Tsushima, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc. It’s a lot, they take up a massive amount of players time and did Sony first-party really need to dip their toes in those waters?

Ride or die.

That was until I finished up Cyberpunk 2077 and wanted to start using my PS5 again. I’m talking about a new console months after the generational shift, and I haven’t played a game on it for over a month. If you sit down with that thing it doesn’t have that many native games to play, I’ve already played Demon’s Soul and Astro Bot, what else is left? So I had to start digging into my back catalogue and see what tickled my fancy. Days gone is one of the titles included in the PlayStation Plus free game program they have with PS5 so that made my barrier to entry super easy. Going in, I had faint memories of the early E3 presentation, where they showed off the hoard at the saw mill, and I recalled something about having to find your wife, dead or alive. That’s basically all I knew about the game.

*** SPOILER WARNING ***

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

Graphics

I’ll start with graphics because why not? This game looks really nice on my PS5, even for a PS4 game that doesn’t have any real patches for next-gen. It does allow you to run the game at 60fps in resolution mode, so it feels good to move around and it’s really sharp. Honestly, playing this game and going around the open world made me give a little shout out of respect to what the PS4 was capable of, it impressed me. The frame rate will drop here and there, causing little stutters, but those honestly happen in the most random places. It probably just needs a proper patch to take advantage of all the PS5 features, since it only runs in back-compat mode those things are locked out for the game. The good thing is that I never felt any sluggishness when going up against a hoard.

The world is the shining star in graphical department. The game takes place in the mountains and lakes of Oregon. It gives the game a natural feel so you don’t get office buildings made of football fields of glass, just a lot of good old fashioned wood. It’s rendered well using the Unreal Engine, which comes as a big surprise for a first party Sony game, since they usually opt to use proprietary engines for their games. Wonder how they felt about paying a licensing fee for this title, or perhaps their investment in Epic allowed them to skirt around that issue.

Character models are really hit or miss for me. The main cast of characters are okay, with one or two standouts besides the main protagonist. Animations are also in that B tier category, they get the job done but don’t really stand out in any way. The real star of the show is the hoards.

Coming over a hill and seeing your first hoard out in the middle of nowhere is a real treat. It’s pretty rare that a game while come up with something that surprises you like this one, especially on the bigger hoards. These hoards come in all different sizes, increasing the further south you go. When you see that first large hoard, maybe you try something that you think might work, like lure them into a group and chuck a few grenades at them, that should do it. You come to find out that all you got was about 10% of the group and the rest start rushing at you as you attempt to shoot them with everything you have. Once you have the scope truly down you can start to think logically and plan out your attacks. The sheer number of enemies on screen at one time is remarkable to see. I do think the game could have stood out on it’s own with just small groups of freakers, but having these massive hoards to battle really makes it stand out in a crowded field of releases. They become the star of the show and I give them a lot of credit for doing it on the PS4.

Complaints

Deacon St. John is one of the worst characters in video games. It just needs to be said. He is one of the worst protagonists that I have ever had the privilege to control. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a disconnect with who a person is and how they represent themselves than I did with this man. It’s not that he was in a biker gang and talks about his cut (jacket) all the time, or has hands full of the most ridiculous rings imaginable. It was that his personality, or lack of, came out constantly when he tried to speak. He’s played by actor Sam Witwer, who I also am not the biggest fan of, which is all a shame because I really enjoyed the story surrounding this character. I just wish he wasn’t such an idiotic douche all the time.

This is the idiot I chose to marry.

Deacon is a biker boy who loves to ride his hog and his woman, all while treating everyone around him like they’re annoying idiots.

The game starts off, like all good fiction these days, with a zombie apocalypses. Your injured wife is placed on a helicopter with a man in a hazmat suit who promises to take her to a safe camp. You stay back with your other injured friend, Boozer, so you can help him get to the camp and meet back up with your woman. Needless to say, things happen, you don’t find her and think she’s dead, you and Boozer both survive for two full years. That’s where the gameplay part of the game picks up and you’re left to fend for yourself as you try to leave Oregon and move on with your life. Only to find that the hazmat guy is still alive and perhaps your wife, Sarah, is too.

What a nice little premise for a game. How is this hazmat guy still alive? Shit, your wife maybe alive as well? Sold!

Mysteries abound.

So the problem I had with Deacon is that he’s so stupid and annoying. Pretty simple, right? He treats everyone around him with such irreverence, he just blows everyone off. You’ll get to a camp and help them out over multiple missions, building up friendships with people that you, as the player, grow attached to. Only to have Deacon act like a 15 year old child with mood issues one second later. These people are actually nice to you, they don’t want to kill you, you’re helping them build a community, and then you just get the stinger of him being a dick. It makes so little sense, I can see how it could make sense If I inferred into his character a whole lot, but that’s not my job, the story should have conveyed that aspect to his personality. If the main character is going to act like an idiot and just treat nice people like shit all the time, give me a little more setup to why his mind works this way. Maybe something happened in the two year gap between the opening and the game. None of it is explained to any level of satisfaction so it all comes off as crass. It might also just be the way the actor chose to portray Deacon, like he had a bad take on the character.

It’s a mad mad mad world.

I get that not every person or character in a work of fiction should, or would be the most elegant of speakers and communicators. It just needs to be setup to the player in a better way. As the game went on there was just more of a disconnect between Deacon and I, he’d pull up to a camp that he had to clear out and literally yell out that it’s full of murders and rapists and shit like that, and that they all have to die, like calm down dude. I get that they’re bad, but every time you pull up to one of these camps he says the same exact thing, it’s a little comical.

That issue get’s more into the performance of Deacon, which is half of the equation I feel. The actor, Sam Witwer, is just not good in this role, or the way he was directed is off. I’ve never really been a fan of that actor and I feel like this role just does nothing for him. The vocal audio is mixed incorrectly most of the time, where characters are either speaking really softly while giving a speech to a group around a raging bonfire, or they’re just yelling at each other in a way that makes no sense for the scenario on screen. The sound design for the voices could have been handled way better.

Burn the nest to the ground!

Part of the issue comes from the type of game this is. You’re, for the most part, a lonely guy going out into this open world to kill things. Your main action in the game is to shoot bad things. You spend a lot of time with your main character, with that comes a level of connection and understanding you could say. This is what video games are all about, being a character in a foreign world, living out an experience only achievable in this form of entertainment. Dozens of hours looking at them in the center of your screen as you roam around on adventures. I just had a disconnect with how shitty I felt he was. How he’d barely answer a question, rarely ever get personal, would shut down emotionally constantly, and treated friendly people like crap. I kept wanting him to do more, say more, be more, but he was just Deacon.

What I liked

Even though I just shat all over the main character of the game, I really got into the story of this game. It starts you off in a small region of the map, doing mission after mission helping out the local camps in the region. I initially thought that this was going to be the whole game. That it was just going to take place on this, relatively small and manageable sized map, which felt oddly refreshing and quaint. Come to find out that no, you get to open up another large area and then another after that. So the game was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be.

The length of the story felt a little off to me. It seems to be broken up in three parts and they are all longer than I thought they would be. I did do every mission as they came up, so perhaps I was doing a lot of side content that didn’t really matter if you only care about the main storyline. The third part is when you get to the Wizard’s Island and discover that your wife is still alive and kicking. Which is awesome! I love that you got to find out in this game and that you got to spend a good chunk of the ending focusing on your relationship with her. She even ends up being a way better character than the blunt instrument of Deacon. I was interested in the scientific research that she was still working on, which is a way to actually reverse the zombie infection, not kill it. You get to visit her old lab and see what’s come of it. Mysteries reveal themselves and new ones form. It pulls you in, if you’re hooked as I was, and really makes you want to finish the game.

Keep it going.

The thing I wasn’t expecting is that all the mysteries that surround the freakers are not resolved by the end of the game. It felt like they had so many plot threads and the game was already so long that they just cut a bunch of them so they could focus on wrapping up a handful of smaller ones. It does leave the title wide open for a sequel, which I really did not expect coming in. If you keep playing after you beat the game you’ll even get to find out what’s happening to the hazmat guy that you’ve been in contact with throughout the whole game, and why he’s still in a hazmat suit. That’s where the real intrigue comes into play and makes me want to see what will happen in the sequel, which I hope they make. It’d be really cool to see what they can do with a freaker horde running on the PS5 natively. It’s what makes this game stand out form The Last of Us, a game that doesn’t care to answer how it happened or how to fix it, the intrigue in Days Gone is the mystery behind how it happened and if it can be fixed.

I also really liked the gameplay. You get around by riding your custom motorcycle through the land while being mindful of the amount of fuel in your tank, making sure to top it of off wherever you can get some fuel. The combat and weapons felt like a nice 3rd person action game. I had favorite weapons out of the growing arsenal at my disposal that I’d keep on me at all time, turning my character into a zombie and human killing machine. You can mix up gun combat with the strategic use of remote and motion activated bombs, Molotov cocktails, and a form of napalm. You can use lures to draw in large crowds and funnel them where you wanted, then blow them all up. At the end of the game, when you’re allowed to free roam, dozens of hoards appear all over the map that you can take down. It’s just a good way to finish leveling up, go take on a hoard, earn more XP and go for that platinum trophy. Every single one of them is slightly unique and fun to do. I ended up getting the platinum since I enjoyed playing the game and it wasn’t that much of a grind.

A family affair.

Final Score – 8.2

I enjoyed this game more than I thought I would. I loved the mystery around the story and I want to know what the hell is going on with O’Brian. I just wish the main character had a personality facelift since he took me out of the game way too much. The gameplay was great, fighting humans and hordes all felt good. The progression system, from skills to weapons, kept me looking forward to the next unlock. A proper PS5 patch would be nice to see, but it’s not the one I’m hurting the most to have. If you have a PS5 and Plus, along with some time to get into a game, definitely give this game a shot.

I want the sequel.

Resident Evil 3 (remake) – Review

I ran through this game in just a couple of days and got the platinum trophy on it before Cyberpunk 2077 hit. I was able to get it for cheap in a PlayStation Sale and just had to go through it since I loved the Resident Evil 2 Remake so much.

Now, I haven’t played Resident Evil since it came out on the PlayStation 1. Most people, I suspect, have never played it. I never felt like it was one of the beloved sequels in the series, kind of like Code Veronica, so it didn’t get the rerelease treatment often. I was a kid at the time and played it at my friends house. Back then we used to play shitty Sega CD games and speed run Resident Evil: Directors Cut, but I only remember playing this game a little bit so just about everything about it was new to me.

Just before getting into this game though, I went back to my Resident Evil 2 Remake game and got the last remaining trophies and finished up the platinum on it. I was on a bit of a roll I guess you could say. I had already heard when this game was released that it was shorter than 2, but I didn’t really understand how much that was true. It’s not that it bothered me or anything, It would have if I had paid full price though (I believe it cost 60USD on release). It’s definitely not worth that release price, especially if they’re going to release little nickel-and-dime DLC to unlock extra costumes and shit like that. It’s a bit bullshit and one of the reasons I sat on the game for so long and waited for a sale.

So right off the bat I love the way the Jill character model looks in this game. I just think there is an ineffable quality about her look that is just so well done. It’s only slightly let down by some of the lighting and animation work, but the look of the model itself is great. I feel like she’s one of the more beautiful women in gaming today, there is just something about her that makes me want to keep looking at her face. The French would call it “je ne sais quoi”, it just grabs my attention more than a lot of other female protagonists in gaming. I can just respect the choice of look they went with here, it’s definitely not how I remember Jill looking in the original. In this game, she’s a complete badass that doesn’t take any bullshit from the men around her. On the other side of the coin you have Carlos and his massive head of hair, it’s insane.

The game itself is modeled closely on the remake of 2, except now you get a dodge move. You basically just have to take the 2nd game, remove almost all puzzle solving from it and make it an hour shorter and this is the game you get. It’s so streamlined it almost makes it a speed runners game. That’s exactly what I liked most about the game too. There’s something about a game with good mechanics like this where you can just blow through it in 90 minutes.

Yes, this will happen…

What that does is it forces you to learn the patterns of each level or section, so the next time you run through it you automatically know where to go and how to deal with all the enemies. Granted, that’s only if you’re going for the trophies. If you’re not you’re just getting a short little action movie of a game, which may be disappointing to some. It would have made a good rental game.

I didn’t approach the game like that at all, I watched the story the first time and skipped it every other. I was able to unlock the rocket launcher as a starter weapon, which helped me on subsequent playthroughs. I did a run without accessing the item chest which added another degree of complication to one of my speed runs. I actually just found it fun to run through the game so much. It truly felt like being a speed runner. I tend to only play a game once these days, games are getting so fucking long that you don’t get the opportunity to just play through them more than once, or for this game more than once in a day.

The trickiest thing about RE3 had to be the last boss on the hardest difficulty, that guy was a bit of a fucker. I did have a good tip that I think others should follow, which is to listen out for a particular sound to push in the charging cells. If you time it right you can skip one of his attack animations, making the fight a lot easier.

Open with a bang.

I thought the game would use a lot more of the locations from the 2 remake, but you basically just get a little bit of the police station and the street out front. It’s not like the locations really impressed me that much in this game. It was all kind of toned down in the excitement level. Nothing really stood out to me. The whole opening section around the train station and the streets surrounding it were a little forgetful. The coolest part was probably the big head above the store, but even then it didn’t wow me.

The hospital in the later portion of the game tries to complicate it up a little bit, but you can literally just blow through it with relative ease. You don’t get that Resident Evil puzzle solving, figuring out how to open doors thing. Sure, you have to get the tape player and the tape, but just open all the rooms and look around, you’re not going to miss anything. That’s all fine though, that’s not what this game is about. We got all that in the last game.

What I really liked about the story and where this game goes is when it starts interweaving into the events of the second game. It was cool to see how the timelines fit together and really make this seem like a more cohesive package with the 2nd remake.

The boss battels, I felt, weren’t really that much of a challenge (except the last on the hardest difficulty). If you play the game right, you’re going to get the rocket launcher in your chest for your other playthroughs. It doesn’t even cause your rating to decrease so you kind of need/have to use it. Except for the playthrough you do without opening the chest, which is fun. You have a dodge move which makes maneuvering the boss arenas a lot easier, if the nemesis comes at you and you’re good at timing your rolls you shouldn’t have a problem. The arenas were memorable, particularly where he’s running around in circles on the walls and the last when you finally kill it, which was awesome.

Some nice cloth, looks like someone learned Marvelous Designer.

Final Score – 8.5

There really isn’t much else to say about this game. Listen, if you liked the 2nd remake then you’ll dig this one. Just know it’s super short and try to go for the trophies because they really add to the fun and enjoyment you get out of this title. Isn’t that a weird thing to say? With most other games the trophies are a grind and don’t add to your overall enjoyment, this title is the complete opposite. If you don’t care about trophies, you’re going to want to wait for a deep discount on the PlayStation store before pulling the trigger. If you can understand and see how the trophies push you to enjoy the game in ways you might not naturally seek out, you might find that you get a nice challenge and some more time out of this game.