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Topic: User Impressions/Reviews Thread

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RogerRoger

Untitled

Platform: PC, PS4 (version played), Switch and Xbox
Release Date: September 2021

***

I've been waiting a long time for this.

Eleven years, to be exact. The original, full fat version of Sonic Colours launched exclusively for the Wii back in 2010. It also appeared on NDS but there, it'd been handled by the developer responsible for the much-loved Sonic Rush games, and therefore felt more like a sequel to those 2D adventures than anything else. I've played that version many times over the years, but Colours proper? Played some of it once, about eight years ago whilst visiting a friend.

After getting Sonic Lost World on PC last year, Colours became the last remaining gap in my collection of Sonic's mainline outings; the key difference being that Lost World has always been kinda hated, whereas Colours was, and still is, held up as one of the series' highlights. Because of this disparity, I always felt like I was missing out... and so you can imagine my excitement when, back in May, a full remaster was announced, coming to a console that I actually own this time. Cut to a few weeks before its release date, and my pre-ordered physical copy (along with all physical copies across the entire EMEA region) is delayed "indefinitely" due to "supply chain issues" apparently unforeseen by SEGA.

It should've been a sign. Colours might've been a great game over a decade ago, but the steady march of time hasn't done it any favours. Neither have Blind Squirrel Entertainment, the developer responsible for one of the shoddiest remasters I've ever encountered.

Untitled
"Please feel free to fill out a brief survey after your visit. Your opinions matter to us. Unless you didn't have fun. Then we don't care."

Upon booting the game up, you're thrown straight into its first couple of acts without preamble. Clear them, and you'll discover that Sonic is aboard a giant space station which is tethering captured planets together to create Dr. Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park. The whole thing is cover for an evil scheme, of course, as Eggman attempts to harvest the energy from some cute-but-powerful alien beings called Wisps. With a little help from Tails, Sonic vows to save the Wisps and, in turn, they help him by becoming temporary in-game ability boosts which function similar to Mario's various suits. Collect the right Wisp and, at the tap of a button, you can transform Sonic into a laser beam, a drill, a ghost, a frenzied monster that eats everything in sight, or several other tools to assist your platforming progression.

The adventure itself is okay enough. Colours introduced new scriptwriters to give Sonic, Tails and particularly Eggman much more comedic material than they've ever had before, with the story's tone aiming for (and mostly hitting) the ballpark of a Saturday morning cartoon. Eggman remains a constant presence on the amusement park's PA system, dishing out hilarious parody announcements about various rides and park policies. I'm using my favourite examples here to subtitle my screenshots.

So it's all a bunch of inoffensive fluff, for the most part. What can be offensive at worst, but just feels lazy at best, is the quality of the remaster. Colours was already recognised as one of the best-looking games on the Wii, so how is it that more modern hardware makes it look worse? Why is the lighting so dull and dark (in a game literally called Colours, of all things)? Why do most of the transparent effects flicker in and out of existence? Why are so many nice environmental touches, like lens flare, missing? Why haven't any of the massive background textures been updated?

Untitled
"In space, nobody can hear you scream. Except for the person sitting next to you, so please be considerate of others. Nobody likes a screamer."

At least, by playing the PS4 version on a PS5 via backwards compatibility, I forced the in-game framerate to remain stable throughout. According to reports, Colours Ultimate suffers from noticeable performance issues on every other console. Even a PS4 Pro will drop frames and stutter on occasion, whereas I wish anybody embarking on the Switch port the very best of luck, as they endure its minute-long loading times and frequent framerate freak-outs. Please don't misconstrue this point as a comment for or against any particular platform; if I'm still noticing geometry pop-in and missing textures on my overpowered hardware, then it's clearly the fault of the game's underlying code. A week after launch, there was a quick patch to fix a life-threatening, seizure-inducing visual glitch, but otherwise? Here we are, a month down the line, with nothing but promises to try and address an abundance of bugs.

I'd have a little more faith in those promises if Blind Squirrel Entertainment hadn't clearly cut so many other corners during development. They were apparently a support studio for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition but, if you compare the phenomenal quality of that remaster with Colours Ultimate, it's almost laughable to think that they had any hand in its success.

Trailers for Colours Ultimate promised 4K visuals but trust me, they're not. During gameplay, the resolution gets pretty close, but objects still sport rough, pixelated edges. The cutscenes are the worst, though. Most are supposed to be rendered in real-time but instead, to save time, they've been imported as compressed movie files from the Wii original and apparently "upscaled" although, beyond mention of a dedicated cutscene upscaling team in the game's credits, there's little evidence to suggest that anything's been done to them. They're an unsightly, blurry mess, even worse than those I found in the PC port of Lost World. I mean, I've seen amateurs on YouTube get better results. I had to chuckle because, when you go back and try to re-watch them, they're locked to a small window in the options menu, shrinking them to a resolution more suited to their quality. Not sure why I found that so amusing, but I did.

Untitled
"Attention, ladies and gentlemen! Please make your way over to the main viewing area, where the Lightspeed Electrical Parade is about to begi... oh, and that concludes the Lightspeed Electrical Parade."

All savagery aside, the developers have applied a degree of effort to a few new gameplay additions here and there and, for the most part, they're okay. In a rather sweet callback to Sonic's pair of oft-overlooked PSP exclusives, you can unlock six tough rival races against Metal Sonic, blasting through certain levels in an effort to reach the goal before he does. The classic extra life system has been replaced by a combination of unlimited checkpoint restarts for injury deaths, and collectible "Tails Saves" for falls, whereby Tails will pick you up and drop you back to wherever you fell from (although this latter mechanic is also particularly glitchy, often breaking the game's fixed camera and forcing you to restart the level anyway). Following on from the character creation element featured in Sonic Forces, you can also customise Sonic with dozens of unlockable gloves, shoes, boost effects and auras. Naturally it's all just a bunch of gaudy eyesores but hey, a trend is a trend, right?

Actually, I tell a lie. There is one customisation option which looks really decent; it's the glowing blue spines and crackling electrical boost from last year's Sonic movie. The problem is, it was a digital pre-order incentive that'll otherwise cost you £4 to download. Which brings us to the disaster that is the Colours Ultimate remixed soundtrack because again, if you didn't pre-order a digital version of the game, you have to buy some of its tracks in another, separate £4 DLC pack. Yes, really.

Specifically, it's the three Planet Wisp tracks and, thankfully, they're the worst of a bad bunch. Any tune which previously packed a punch has been cruelly suppressed by an indistinguishable mess of shrill electronic muzak and samey overdriven guitar licks. A small handful of tracks which never had any punch to begin with do escape unscathed, with an increased tempo and more layers doing them justice (if not improving them in any meaningful way) but, broadly speaking, the new soundtrack is still a crushing disappointment more often than it's not. A direct comparison is unavoidable, because the original music is preserved to accompany the fourth, fifth and sixth acts of each level, a decision I found both gratifying and infuriating in equal measure as I was constantly reminded of how superb the soundtrack used to be. And that was before I reached the credits and listened to one of the most wholesome songs of all time, 'Speak With Your Heart', suffer the indignity of having its instrumentation performed by a dial-up modem.

Well, I suppose it could've been worse. They could've replaced the piano in Aquarium Park with an electronic kazoo or something. Guess I should be thankful for small mercies.

Aquarium Park is actually where I found myself having the most fun. It's a vibrant mixture of Japanese architecture and underwater environments, slowing things to a graceful pace whilst Sonic is submerged and yet still allowing him moments of blistering speed when back on dry land. The balance is just right, which is rare for a gimmick level, and it makes the best use of its Wisps, with rockets to help you break for the surface in a pinch and the drill propelling you forward in a cloud of bubbles. It's also nowhere near as panic-inducing as Sonic's other water-based outings, mostly thanks to the fact that, for the first time ever, you can kinda make Sonic "swim" by spamming the jump button. Linger underwater for too long and you'll still get to hear that drowning music kick in, but it never feels unfair and you're never too far from one of several lifelines. It's a thoroughly enjoyable place to explore.

Untitled
"The mighty ocean! Cradle of life! Trivialised for your amusement by Eggman Industries!"

And that's why this review is a couple days later than I'd hoped, because my experience in Aquarium Park made me realise that I'd been briefly blinded by a bad remaster. I wanted to stop and give proper consideration to the actual game at its rushed, poorly presented core... well, that, and I had to start the whole thing over. You're asked at the beginning whether you want hints and warning signs on or off, and I opted for on because hey, new game an' all. When I saw how obtrusive they were, inescapably pausing the action at several key points, I figured that I'd carry on for a bit, get the main thrust of the game, and turn 'em off later but no, there's no option to deactivate or reactivate them once you're underway. Nor is there the option to make separate save files (unlike back on the Wii) so starting over means overwriting all of your progress.

Which is annoying, but isn't much of a roadblock, as Colours is (and always was) a ridiculously short affair. There's an endurance mode in which you play through the entire game in one continuous run, and I decided to give it a shot the other day. I screwed up a couple times and even had to replay one act and yet, when all was said and done, my total time still clocked in well under ninety minutes. Add twenty-ish minutes of cutscenes, half an hour of interactive credits, and the bizarre, minimalist Sonic Simulator stuff, and you can maybe double that figure. The unlockable Wisps, hidden Red Rings and S-Rank trophies do lend levels a high degree of replayability but, if you're not enamoured with the basic gameplay or the Sonic series in general, these won't be enough to hold your attention much beyond a weekend. You'll notice the fact that, despite being brief, some acts still duplicate large chunks of geometry to pad themselves out, and you'll invariably roll your eyes when a trio of boss battles get recycled on the cheap.

Even for me, a veteran of the Blue Blur's thirty-year history, there's a lot about Colours which causes some unnecessary frustration. It introduces a double-jump for Sonic, but this shares its input with his homing attack, which is automatically triggered whenever you're in range of an enemy. Too often I tried to carefully hop around some baddies, in order to explore an alternate route, and ended up smashing them to pieces instead, left stuck on their path amidst the resulting debris. Sonic Unleashed managed to map the homing attack to another button, and it had no good reason to, so why can't Colours (which was released two years later)?

Perhaps that's an oversight on Blind Squirrel Entertainment's part; the original game had to limit its inputs in order to work with the Wii Remote, after all. Which brings me back to complaining about this lacklustre remaster more than anything else. This might be a weird point to make but, after completing Colours Ultimate, I felt like I'd played a Wii game. Surely that defeats the whole point of a remaster? After seeing what Mass Effect managed earlier in the year, and knowing that these exact same developers helped set that benchmark, and after having to wait an extra month and still not getting to play a finished game at the end of it, you can perhaps forgive me for making this review so negative.

I guess this is what it looks like when eleven years of supersonic anticipation crashes headlong into a poor product. Maybe a patch will come along and address some of the most glaring issues, but it won't fix everything. It can't. Not now.

One final announcement from Eggman and I'll wrap this up.

Untitled
"Please be aware that this ride is not safe for children under twelve. Or over thirteen. It is also not safe for thirteen-year-olds."

That's my recommendation. Colours deserves to shine far brighter than this.

"We want different things, Crosshair. That doesn't mean that we have to be enemies."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Th3solution

@RogerRoger Fantastic review, Rog. A great read, and it sounds like unfortunately it’s a more enjoyable read that the game was to play. It’s a shame really. I know how much you were looking forward to this game.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

LtSarge

@RogerRoger Great write-up mate. Too bad that you didn't find this version that enjoyable, although it sounds to me like you had issues with the gameplay in general and these issues were present in the original Wii version as well, such as the double-jumping being mapped to the same button. Not to mention that platforming in 2D levels could prove troublesome when double jumping at the wrong time. I guess the experience will be different to everyone, some may be lucky to not run into these issues while others will be less fortunate.

It really is annoying when even the best Sonic games are not being received well today due to the developer not putting enough effort into the games. It feels like this series is cursed to constantly deliver poor titles, either because they have technical issues or because the gameplay just doesn't sit well with the player. Really hope the next Sonic game turns out good.

LtSarge

RogerRoger

@Th3solution @LtSarge Thanks for reading, friends! This really is the poor remaster's fault. Given proper care and attention, I might've been able to overlook the original sins of Colours because hey, it's over a decade old, and Sonic games are rarely perfect, but... no, just shoving it out in this state is inexcusable. It's a shame because in recent years, Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces and Team Sonic Racing launched in really great shape and so, despite that older historical reputation for bugs and glitches, I had started to expect a baseline level of quality from the franchise. I am so freakin' done with games turning up broken and getting finished whilst early adopters beta test them for free. It's insidious.

Anyway, that's the fault of SEGA for palming this project off on an inexperienced developer whilst everybody at Sonic Team works on next year's brand new Sonic Rangers, which sounds promising, at least. In the meantime, I'll keep playing Colours Ultimate for its platinum, because it's Sonic and I'm me, but I can't pretend that it hasn't been a huge letdown.

"We want different things, Crosshair. That doesn't mean that we have to be enemies."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

LtSarge

The Evil Within Review - The Quintessential Survival Horror Game

To say that I enjoyed The Evil Within would be a major understatement. I’ve been playing this game every day since the beginning of this month and that’s because I just couldn’t stop playing it. This is the longest horror game I’ve played so far and I don’t think there’s another horror title besides its sequel that is longer than it. There’s just so much content here and the thing is that more content doesn’t mean a better game. But in this case, it does because the content is of such high quality. It took me roughly 20 hours to finish the game and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m genuinely impressed by how much there is to do without bogging down the overall experience and that’s one of the reasons for why I think it’s the quintessential survival horror game.

When it comes to the story, it’s hard to go into details without ruining it. So instead, I’m going to summarise the beginning of the game and hopefully you’ll be able to at least understand the premise. You play as a detective named Sebastian Castellanos when one day you hear on the dispatch radio that something’s up at the local hospital. You go to investigate with you partner Joseph and a junior detective named Kidman. When you explore the place, you find out that everyone in there is dead. Looking at the security footage, a mysterious hooded person with supernatural abilities was recorded killing everyone. As you turn around, he’s standing right behind you. He touches you and you black out. When you wake up, you realise that you’re in a completely different place and nothing seems to make sense. Welcome to the world of The Evil Within.

Subsequently, the story won’t tell you much of what’s happening as you’re left to gather information on your own through notes and diaries. You’ll frequently meet up with other characters but as a whole, the story is simply meant to push you forward to the next chapter. Most of the time, you won’t understand what’s going on but eventually, it will become clear to you exactly what’s happening. Once I realised it, and the reason behind it, the story started resonating more with me and I became even more interested in finding out how it all ends.

While the story takes a back seat in this game, the gameplay most certainly does not. When you start playing, the game will first teach you about stealth. You only start with a revolver with very little ammo and that’s it. You can punch the enemies but it doesn’t do much damage, it’s mostly there to help you push them away so that you can recover. Instead, you’re encouraged early on to sneak up behind enemies and kill them with a knife though their head. I found this part of the game very interesting and refreshing as previous survival horror games I’ve played such as Resident Evil and Dead Space haven’t had stealth at all. So I think it’s nice that this game included that as an option in order to help you preserve resources. It also made the experience more tense as you’re constantly on the lookout for enemies so that you don’t get spotted. Not to mention that there will be tons of traps placed everywhere, such as tripwires, bear traps and proximity bombs. Suffice to say, you won’t succeed in this game if you rush though each area as you’ll have hordes of enemies chasing you and traps blasting you everywhere.

That’s why this game can be a rather slow experience as you’ll have to be careful not to trigger traps or alert other enemies. Furthermore, there's a strong focus on resource gathering. Not only ammo, but also the game's own currency called ‘green gel’. As you find safe rooms throughout the game, you’ll be able upgrade you character through various ways, such as health, weapons and ammo storage. That’s another reason why it’s important to take your time and explore every nook and cranny in order to perform successfully.

As you progress, you’ll find more weapons, such as shotgun, crossbow, sniper rifle and even the classic magnum. There will also be different ammo types for your crossbow, for example freeze and explosive bolts as well as harpoons. Freeze is great against multiple enemies as they’ll instantly die once thawed out and explosive is good against multiple enemies as well but I tend to mostly use them against bosses. The harpoon is good for impaling enemies and getting them stuck to walls so that they can’t move. You can find these in the levels or craft them using the parts you’ve collected by disarming the aforementioned traps.

Another aspect of the gameplay is matches. Remember burning zombies in Resident Evil Remake so that they wouldn’t turn into Crimson Heads? It’s sort of the same thing here, except that they’re a very efficient way of getting rid of enemies that are lying down. One trick that’s very useful throughout the game is shooting an enemy once in the leg so that they fall down and then you burn them by using a match that will instantly kill them. If there are other enemies near the burning body, whether they’re standing up or lying down, they will also become engulfed in flames and die. Simply put, matches is a very efficient way of taking out enemies when you’re low on ammo. You don’t have to prepare gasoline or anything like that, just stand above a body and with the touch of a button, they’re on fire.

As a whole, I absolutely loved the gameplay of this game as you have so many different options for how you want to tackle a situation. You can either do it stealthily, go guns blazing, use your various ammo types to freeze or explode enemies, or just burn them all with matches. The weapon variety is definitely impeccable.

Speaking of variety, this game has so many different environments for its levels and this is another reason why I find it to be the quintessential survival horror game. It basically has every conceivable setting for a horror game: hospitals, farms, caves, catacombs, urban areas, water areas, factories, markets, churches, subways and even a mansion that’s a throwback to the first Resident Evil, which is so cool. If there’s one thing this game does right, it’s the variety of the levels. And the levels themselves are designed very well. They are mostly linear and don’t feature that many puzzles. It’s supposed to keep things moving along at a brisk pace and considering it can already be a slow experience having to play carefully and gathering resources, I appreciate the linear approach with minimal puzzles.

One thing to keep in mind is that this game can be rather challenging. I played it on normal difficulty and I believe playing it on casual will only give you more ammo but it will still be a challenging experience. This will definitely put off a lot of people, as evident by the trophy list on PS4 since only roughly 50 percent of the players have managed to beat the first boss. I recommend playing it only if you have already experienced multiple survival horror titles before and are familiar with the genre. Because this game will truly test your skill and this is made even more clear with the boss fights. Some may have already heard about them, but the bosses can be absolutely ruthless. Most of them will kill you in one hit and I have mixed feelings about this aspect. On one hand, it will force you to take them seriously and play at your very best in order to get past them. But on the other hand, it can get rather annoying getting killed over and over. There will also be chase scenes and these segments can also kill you in one hit. Thankfully, there are plenty of checkpoints throughout the game and they are very well-placed so it should never feel unfair. Personally, I really enjoyed the challenging aspect of this game as it made you truly appreciate all the weapons and items that you find, and it made you think more creatively on how you want to tackle each situation.

In terms of sound, there isn’t much music since it’s a horror game but the atmosphere was definitely enhanced by the creepy sounds. The enemies always let off eerie noises when they are nearby and the screams of the bosses will make you even more frightened of them. There is however one track that stood out to me and that’s the theme of the safe room. Whenever you get in close proximity of one, you’ll always hear the beautiful theme of Clair de Lune by Debussy:

So all in all, I loved The Evil Within. While the story wasn’t all that great or memorable, the challenging gameplay was so satisfying and an absolute joy to experience. I had so much fun playing this game and the fact that it offers so much high quality content has turned it into my favourite horror game of all time. I still have the DLC left to play and I can’t wait to eventually experience the sequel, which I’ve heard is even better than the first one! Simply put, I highly recommend playing this game, as long as you have experience with survival horror titles that is.

LtSarge

Ralizah

Stats are up on the main page. They're just under the directory. PS4 is actually still in first place by quite a massive degree. Shockingly, the people on the Playstation forum prefer discussing and reviewing Playstation games!

PS5 games are a little on the low side since I chose to count PS4 games being played on the PS5 as PS4 reviews.

@RogerRoger 😂 I've seen some really wild glitches and bits of gameplay footage from the Switch version of Sonic Colors. They really messed up that release. I was OK with the remaster targeting 30fps on that platform (if you play on handheld tech, you can't expect parity with home console versions for most games), but it turns out the framerate was the least of that game's issues.

Surprisingly thorough (and scathing) tech analysis of Sonic Colors: Ultimate. It seems like the poor remastering annoyed you enough that it poisoned your experience with the actual game, which is unfortunate, since I know you're a huge Sonic fan.

Interesting to hear that the control scheme was never improved now that Sonic Colors is free of the limiting Wiimote format, although perhaps that points to the lack of care taken with this release in general.

I actually rather liked the musical snippet you posted, and, looking up that ending song you mentioned, I have to say I found it intolerable in both iterations. The synthesized voice drove me up a wall.

But, yes, the music could be worse...

You'll excuse me, but I'm STILL reeling from how bad that soundtrack is!

@LtSarge You're really on a roll with these games!

Nice piece on The Evil Within. It does sound decent. Especially the environmental variety. When I first played the game, I only got about an hour in, and something rubbed me the wrong way so badly I stopped playing and sold the game, which never happens! I might have to see about picking this back up in a Steam sale or something. The inclusion of stealth in combat is probably something that should have been done in the Resident Evil games, considering their emphasis on survival and resource conversation. Sneaking past enemies HAS to be better than running past them and hoping they are unable to grab you.

Claire de Lune playing in the save rooms is a pretty cool touch. I always really liked the way the melodic tunes in the save rooms for RE1 helped the player to emotionally unwind for a few moments, since you knew you were safe when you heard it. Claire de Lune is even better, though, given how beautiful the music is.

And yeah, I've heard some great things about the sequel. The way it's structured seems pretty unique for a horror game: VERY Silent Hill-inspired, which is always a plus for me.

Edited on by Ralizah

Currently Playing
Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Definitive Mode (NS) (replay)

PSN: Ralizah

LtSarge

@Ralizah Cheers mate! Yeah, this game can honestly be a hit or miss with most people. I think if you're prepared to set aside a lot of time for it, you'll find a truly engrossing experience. I rarely do this when I play games, but when playing The Evil Within, I took the time to truly look around and explore everything. Not just for resources but to also take in the scenery because it can be such a slow-paced game. I've been watching a person on YouTube play this and he drew a comparison to Outlast where you don't really take in the scenery at all in that game because you're constantly running away. So you miss out on a lot of details because that's how the game was designed. While in The Evil Within, you can truly appreciate the attention to detail and I like that.

The interesting thing about save room music is that in the older RE titles, you could never tell if the room you're entering is a save room or not until you're actually in it. While in The Evil Within, you will actually hear the music as you get closer to the room, which really boosts that sign of relief as you're rushing towards it when you hear it. It's small things like this that enhances the overall experience.

LtSarge

Jimmer-jammer

@LtSarge glad to hear The Evil Within resonated so well with you, I enjoyed reading that. I also deeply love this series, with the second being my favourite. The first two (Kidman) DLC’s are top notch as well. I never played the third one as it didn’t interest me. I’m rather curious to see how you get on with the sequel as it is quite a bit different, though still retains (and in my opinion builds upon) that Evil Within magic.
The match mechanic is gone, Ruvik’s thread is almost entirely abandoned, the tone is largely more ‘westernized’ and its design is open world based. On paper this sounds like a disaster but somehow it’s not. For me, it’s an adventure/horror masterclass. Anyways, see you in The Marrow, Seb.

Edited on by Jimmer-jammer

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” C.S. Lewis

LtSarge

@Jimmer-jammer Thanks! I'm really looking forward to playing the DLCs soon. Do you happen to know what the third one is like? I know that you play as Kidman in the first two DLCs and they're supposedly really good, but what makes the third DLC so unappealing? The season pass on PS4 includes all three DLCs and it's the cheapest offer so I'm going to get it anyway, but I'm curious as to why that one stands out among the rest.

Sad to hear that matches are gone in the sequel, but the open world aspect is very intriguing to me. Sounds to me like the game will be similar to Silent Hill with an open world to wander around in and buildings to go in that serve as the levels. Definitely looking forward to playing it eventually!

LtSarge

Jimmer-jammer

@LtSarge so my understanding is in the third DLC you play as The Executioner, from a first person perspective. It might be cool but it’s just not really what I want out of an Evil Within game if that makes sense. I make no judgments on the experience as I haven’t played it but it’s not enticing to me.
Yeah, the open world aspect is handled really well. You have the right mindset from the first one with taking your time. Slowly working through, managing resources, doing side quests and exploring everything should net you a rewarding experience.

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” C.S. Lewis

RogerRoger

@Ralizah Oh my, yes, those Switch gameplay videos of Colours Ultimate would be funny if they weren't so tragic. Anyway, my thanks for reading, as always! Having stuck around to platinum the game this weekend, I can see where I got blinded by the remaster's rough edges, for sure. Part of me reckons I've just missed the whole Colours boat, the NDS version notwithstanding. Should I have a hankering for the game's story, environments or overall style in future, I think that's where I'll head.

Oh yeah, I love the Aquarium Park music! It's why I embedded it; despite my disappointment, I still wanted to champion something good about the game. The new music from Tropical Resort, Asteroid Coaster and a couple of the boss battles isn't bad, either. And yeah, the Speak n' Spell singer in 'Speak With Your Heart' isn't ideal. I tend not to focus on vocals, as you know, so I found that the instrumental composition of the original compensates for them (i.e. drowns them out) in a way which the harsh, stop-start beeping of the remix fails to do so. I've been known to sing along to the original, at least during the second half of the track; a rare occurrence indeed, which makes it stand out to me.

I'll just glaze over that Chronicles music you've embedded... [shudders]

Thanks for compiling those console stats on this topic, by the way. It gets quite interesting below the top two (which we pretty much predicted the other day). Not just in terms of generational age and whatnot, but also with such a strong showing from PC. I'm sure PS5 will climb the ranks soon enough!

***

@LtSarge Sweet write-up about The Evil Within, buddy! Your newfound enthusiasm for the horror genre really shines through! Despite not being a huge fan of scary stuff, I really enjoyed reading (particularly after your description of the game's opening hook) and agreed with several of your points (especially about how a long game doesn't always equal a good game; finding the right quality balance seems to be such a fine art nowadays). All the detail in the gameplay, combined with a slower pace to build tension, makes it sound pretty perfect at generating a tense atmosphere. It's effective modern experiences like these which make me glad to be sticking to the original Resi games around this time of year!

"We want different things, Crosshair. That doesn't mean that we have to be enemies."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

LtSarge

Finished all three DLC packs for The Evil Within and so I decided to write down my impressions of them. All in all, I think the additional content was absolutely worth it, even for €10. The first two DLCs are basically the main story but from the perspective of another character. It's obviously not the entire game, but it shows the moments that you didn't see with the other character. And honestly, I think you really need to play these two DLC packs in order to fully understand the story of the main game. Because here's the thing, it genuinely feels like this content was cut out from the main game. The reason I say this is because there was so much additional information and lore that wasn't in the base game that probably should've been. For example, the DLC brings up the name of the corporation behind everything. But I don't think their name is even mentioned in the main story. Imagine if the first Resident Evil game came out today and no information was given about Umbrella at all, not even its name. That's what it feels like with the DLC for The Evil Within. Information that should be crucial isn't even in the main game and you have to play the DLC in order to learn it. It's just so bizarre to me.

Other than that, I enjoyed the first two DLCs a lot. Instead of having a lot of different weapons at your disposal like in the main game, you have most of the time no weapons at all and have to rely on pure stealth in order to get through the levels. New mechanics include hiding behind cover and luring enemies to you and then running away so that you can get pass them. This was interesting when you could lure them into a room and then lock the door so that they were stuck in there. Over time, you'll find axes that can be used as one-hit kills when sneaking up behind enemies. You could also lure enemies using bottles and throwing them off buildings. So overall, I highly enjoyed the stronger focus on stealth in these DLCs. Not to mention that there was a larger emphasis on puzzles this time around, which reminded me a lot of Resident Evil. In other words, if you want a fresh experience after playing through the main game, the first two DLCs are definitely the way to go.

The third DLC is very different. It lets you play as one of the bosses from the main game called "The Executioner" and you get to absolutely destroy other enemies. Imagine if you could play as Mr. X in Resident Evil, it's kinda like that. It's basically like a fun extra thing and a good way to wind down after having played through the main game plus its two other DLCs. I had a lot of fun with it even though it was only an hour long. However, it's meant to be played through multiple times so it's kinda like the arcade mode of this game.

The other two DLCs were around three hours long each, so you're looking at a total of roughly 27 hours to get through the base game and its three DLCs, so there's a lot of content to be had here, especially for a horror game. I personally had a blast with The Evil Within plus the DLC and I highly recommend to check them out as long as you have a lot of time to set aside for this title.

Edited on by LtSarge

LtSarge

RogerRoger

@LtSarge The way those first two DLC packs integrate with the core game makes me suspect that they might've been planned all along. Which is fine, I guess. I know some folks dislike the idea of planned DLC and I suppose, in principle, I'd prefer that developers put all the important stuff in bit of their product that most people are gonna see, but... well, welcome to modern gaming, I guess.

Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed these expansions! Quite often DLC can drag down a great game, so it's always nice to experience the opposite, or at least something that maintains quality.

"We want different things, Crosshair. That doesn't mean that we have to be enemies."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

LtSarge

@RogerRoger Yeah, I think they were definitely planned. For example, I remember one cutscene in the main game where a character said a line that to me at the time didn't make any sense. Then when I played the DLC, that line made much more sense from that person's perspective. Not to mention that the main game didn't have much story to begin with. Typically with Resident Evil titles, you always learn what's truly going on towards the end of the game when you enter the final area, kinda like the lab in RE2. But in The Evil Within, you were just as clueless at the end as when you started. I mean yeah, you get to find out what's actually happening, but you never get to know why unless you play the DLC and that's what bothers me.

I think what would've been nice is if they had released a complete edition of the game and integrated the DLC with the main story, kinda like in the definitive edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. After you've cleared a specific chapter in the main game, you then get to play as the other character, and then when you're done there you switch back to the main story and so on. That would've made the story a lot more seamless and easier to understand.

LtSarge

Ralizah

@LtSarge Kinda weird they never made a GOTY version of this with all the DLC, especially if was the pre-planned sort that tacks on additional information about the main story and was probably originally planned for integration into the game proper.

Anyway, thanks for reviewing the DLC! I usually ignore it for most games, so I'll make sure not to make that mistake here if I can get a good price on it.

Currently Playing
Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Definitive Mode (NS) (replay)

PSN: Ralizah

LtSarge

@Ralizah Yeah, I think this game would've benefited a lot from a complete edition besides the DLC as it apparently launched in a poor state, especially when it came to the frame rate. I never experienced any issues playing it on my base PS4 thanks to the patches, so it would've been nice to have them on a physical copy. But alas..

Good call, I definitely think you should play the DLC if you're interested in learning more about the things that happened behind the scenes during the first game. On top of that, I read that it's very important to play the DLC before going into the second The Evil Within game, so there's also that.

LtSarge

Ralizah

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Time to Completion: 40+ hours

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Atlus' JRPG catalog on the Playstation 2 was legendary. While an early and influential force in the Japanese RPG scene since 1987, their presence worldwide was largely muted until the 2004 release in the Americas of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne on the PS2 (and its 2005 PAL release as Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call). More specifically, this was actually a localization of the Maniax edition of Nocturne, an updated re-release of the original game that launched in Japan back in 2003. Despite being the first title in the mainline SMT series to make its way overseas, it was enough of a hit outside of Japan to ensure that Atlus' subsequent games all made the jump to the West, which, aside from a freak title or two, has remained true to this day, with Atlus being one of the most consistently reliable localizers in the industry. While not the first game in the series to transition to 3D graphics presented in a third-person perspective (that honor belongs to the dubious and still unlocalized Xbox-exclusive game Shin Megami Tensei NINE), Nocturne was the first title developed by them that popularized the (then) modern embrace of home console technology, and, as such, it stands out as being unique from the Nintendo handheld-bound mainline games that released decades later on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Interestingly, this dual-lineage will be fully married together by the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V, which is releasing on a handheld Nintendo device but is also the most technically ambitious title Atlus will have released in multiple console generations. But that's a discussion for later in the year. For now, I wish to discuss the 2021 release of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster on the Nintendo Switch (also available on PC and PS4).

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Shin Megami Tensei has never been a series known for its cheery storylines, but, even by series standards, this one is a little on the dark side. You begin as an unnamed Japanese teenager who is off to meet his friends Chiaki and Isamu at the hospital so they can visit their hospitalized homeroom teacher together. It's not long before it becomes apparent that things are very off, however, with reports of cult violence and eerie portents of apocalyptic events to come being prophesied in an occult magazine that was stuffed into your hands by a strange man named Hijiri. The apocalypse happens surprisingly quickly in this one: you're barely 40 minutes into the game before you discover that a rogue member of the Ring of Gaea (a cult first introduced in the first game in the series) has somehow managed to trigger an apocalyptic event known as the Conception, which almost immediately annihilates all life on Earth and causes the city of Tokyo to twist itself into a sphere around a bizarre, sentient star-like entity known as Kagutsuchi. In order to help him to survive and fulfill his destiny, an eerie, ghost-like boy infects the protagonist with a parasite (a "magatama") that transforms him into a half-demon entity known as the Demi-Fiend.

The game's setup is... hard to explain, and little of it is presented in a way that would make sense to the player. This will go on to become a hallmark of Nocturne's storytelling, as it very much situates you in the shoes of someone who has absolutely no idea what is going on in the world around them. Other characters do, however, and have obvious agendas throughout the game. Moreso than almost any other RPG I've played to date, Nocturne eschews ordinary narrative development and requires the player to piece together what is happening throughout the game themselves, forcing them to interrogate their environments for clues and grapple with the bizarre language of the apocalyptic world they now find themselves in. This almost plotless, art-house take on the SMT formula has proven to be frustrating for some, but it also gives the game a mystique that is, quite frankly, nearly unrivaled in the medium.

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For the purpose of this review, however, it's worth exploring the narrative elements of this game in a bit more depth. Waking up in the hospital post-infection, you find yourself in a dead world full of demons and wandering ghosts. The game doesn't exactly offer you a tutorial, but it does attempt to ease you into things: the ghosts in the hospital offer friendly advice about the basic mechanics of the game, and the first demon you'll recruit is a friendly Pixie who asks you to accompany her to a late game location, where the rest of the Pixie race currently resides. Making your way out into Tokyo, the once bustling city has been transformed into something resembling a desert. You discover that this spherical realm is called a Vortex World, a sort of embryonic land whose shape will be determined by the will of one of the few humans who still live in that world (you, your friends, your teacher, and a few other characters who had all gathered in the hospital prior to the end of the world). In the Vortex World, a human with a sufficiently coherent ideology (called a "Reason" in this game) can gain power through the accumulation of spiritual energy (called "Magatsuhi") and summon a Demonic Sponsor who will work with them to bring their ideal into being.

Reasons are this game's equivalent of the traditional alignment system, and they really stand out from the somewhat rote law/neutral/chaos alignments found in other SMT games. The game features six routes, three of which align with the ideologies trumpeted by the game's Reason Holders. The first Reason is that of Yosuga, which is the most traditional of the three and aligns closely with chaos alignments from previous games in its pitiless strength worship and disdain for compassion, authority, and any form of weakness. Standing as the counterpoint to this is the Reason of Shijima, which seeks to promote a form of universal consciousness where all striving, will, and sense of identity is eliminated from sentient life in the universe. Finally, the Reason of Musubi envisions a world founded on a basis of profound metaphysical solipsism, where all individuals are the gods of their own universe and never come into contact with anyone or anything that isn't an extension of themselves, rendering genuine human contact impossible alongside compromise and social alienation.

All of the Reasons have flaws, and all of them are, interestingly, reflections of deficiencies in the people who conceived of them (there's an inherent irony in the anti-individualistic Reason of Shijima's actualization only being made possible because a single man decided to defy the universe around him and trigger the conception in the first place; the person who promotes the Reason of Yosuga, meanwhile, is someone who was always weak herself), but they manage to be compelling philosophies in their own right, and the Reason Holders go out of their way to sway your character toward their way of thinking throughout. Which leads me into something gameplay-related I'd like to praise the game for: it's much easier to go for specific routes in this game than in previous entries, because instead of adding on or taking off invisible alignment points, the routes instead are broadly determined by clear dialogue choices made in obviously important conversations throughout the game with Reason Holders.

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So, Nocturne immediately distinguishes itself thematically from every other game in the series, but its mechanical evolutions are, in my opinion, the reason the game is a classic of the genre, and arguably the most important entry in the series. The most influential change Nocturne ushered in, by far, was its introduction of the press-turn battle system, variants of which have been integrated into almost every MegaTen game released since then, including the "one more" battle system in Persona 3 - 5. Previously, SMT games featured somewhat mindless, Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest-esque battle systems where team composition didn't matter too much as long as you had high level demons with access to powerful skills. That all changed with Nocturne's battle system, which famously made it where you gain or lose turns during a round depending on how well you play. Hitting enemy weaknesses, nulling/absorbing their attacks, or getting critical hits will increase the number of times you can act, while you'll lose turns if an enemy nulls/absorbs your attacks or your character misses. Here's the brilliant thing: enemies play by the same rules, broadly speaking, and can easily sweep your team if you play poorly or don't keep a diverse assortment of demons in your party.

Manipulating the number of press turns available to you in a round is an entire metagame in itself that dramatically changes how you approach team composition, skill loadouts, etc. because they all feed in directly to how capable you are in battle. This is why, for example, having good buffs and debuffs isn't just a convenience like in most JRPGs, but is actually a matter of life or death, because it'll be difficult to nigh on impossible to defeat certain bosses in this game without being able to weaken their stats and increase your own. This change to a deeply tactical combat system dramatically affects the way the rest of the game is played, and makes the monster collecting elements more important than ever.

Not coincidentally, Atlus really doubled down on the Pokemon-ish qualities in this game. Two elements in particular stand out in this regard. The first is the introduction of the Demonic Compendium, which was missing in previous games but has since become a series mainstay. The easiest way to describe it is as an upgraded, demonic Pokedex: all of the demons that have been 'collected' in the past will be entered into the compendium and, for a price, players will be able to re-summon them, which helps dramatically when it comes to experimenting with demonic fusion and creating new types of demons. Like a pokedex, you can also read about the lore behind each of the demons when they gain an entry in your compendium. The other huge change is that certain demons in the game are now capable of evolving into stronger forms when they've hit a certain level threshold. Evolving weak demons into stronger forms is actually the only way players will be able to obtain certain demons in the game, which can't be obtained through fusions.

I want to briefly acknowledge a really helpful change made in the remastered version of this game. In the PS2 original, demon skill inheritance through fusions randomized the skills drawn from the progenitor demons, so that it was often difficult to re-roll demon fusions in such a way that you wound up with exactly the spread of skills you wanted on them. It was a needless feature that made the game more artificially difficult than it needed to be. Nocturne HD addresses this by allowing players to simply choose which skills their demons inherit. It's a small change, but the impact on player satisfaction is, IMO, immense, and it was really the one huge change I hoped to see included in this remaster.

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Previous Shin Megami Tensei games were fundamentally dungeon crawlers with semi-open world maps, and Nocturne is no different, although the heavy science-fiction/technological element has been replaced, since there's nothing resembling modern civilization in the Vortex World. While I praised SMT I's accessible dungeon design, the same can't be said here. The labyrinths you'll explore in Nocturne are truly an obnoxious mess of traps, teleporter puzzles, dead ends, etc. that made them consistently aggravating to engage with. Granted, there's more design diversity on display here than in previous games, so you get some interesting locations like Kabukicho Prison, where you have to engage in a form of gravity manipulation to progress, or the Diet Building (far and away the best dungeon in the game), where you'll have to navigate visual illusions through a labyrinthine series of hallways and rooms. But, in general, the game finds itself on the wrong side of fun vs unfun gimmicks. Although it can still safely boast better dungeon design than the truly terrible examples provided in Persona 3, Persona 4, and Digital Devil Saga 2 on the same system.

This tedium extends to the gigantic Kalpas in the Labyrinth of Amala as well, although that requires an elaborate explanation on its own. The Amala Labyrinth is a multi-floored dungeon that can be accessed throughout the game and was added in the Maniax re-release of the game. The player will be tasked with seeking out (mostly) optional boss fights with Fiends who hold magical menorahs that must be used to unlock various floors of this dungeon. Each successive floor, or Kalpa, in the Amala Labyrinth is progressively more abusive and designed to push the player to their limit with needlessly gigantic layouts, dead-ends, teleporters, poison floors, cursed rooms, and, eventually, excessively powerful random encounters. Now, you could just ignore most of this optional dungeon entirely, but at least one of the endings (the famous True Demon Ending) is locked behind it.

To digress for a moment, what's more alarming about the True Demon Ending to me is that a massive amount of in-game content is locked behind pursuing it. Moreover, the game sort of betrays its own cryptic approach to storytelling by including infodumps throughout the Labyrinth to help the player understand what is happening in the story (frankly, if Atlus cared about the storytelling in this game, they should have done a better job of integrating it into the narrative proper instead of dumping heaps of exposition onto the player in an optional dungeon). Either way, what you end up with is, from a gameplay and story comprehension perspective, is an almost objectively superior route to the game, which is a terrible approach in a game that emphasizes multiple endings and player choice. With that said, the first ending I obtained in the game, the Freedom ending, is the one that most personally resonated with me, and I don't appreciate having to replay a massive chunk of the game in order to see the additional content locked behind the True Demon Ending.

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The flow of the game itself is one largely driven by the broadly linear layout of the overworld, given the way explicit narrative elements are de-emphasized. It definitely works, but, moreso than in the first game, there were definitely moments where I found myself wondering how to progress the storyline and found myself wandering between different locations. As with other games in the series, going back to the SNES original, there's a form of fast travel across the world map: in this case, the Amala Network, a sort of abstract passageway that directs the flow of Magatsuhi across the Vortex World, takes the place of terminals, so backtracking isn't usually too painful.

Given the somewhat plotless and abstract feel of the experience and the lack of sympathetic primary characters (all of your friends seem to grow progressively more insane and inhuman as the games wears on), things would feel distinctly lonely without any characters to actually care about. And, to be honest, there aren't a lot, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to mention a race of creatures in this game that rank among my favorite in the series. These are the Manikins, a race of involantarily creepy, yet almost universally good-natured golems/mud dolls you'll encounter throughout the game. These poor things are weak and, resultantly, are subject to awful abuses and enslavement by more powerful demons, yet, with only a few exceptions, they still seem to largely maintain their humanity and strive to create a place of their own in the world. In a place as harsh as the Vortex World, it's nice to meet creatures with a bit of humanity to them. What also helps is the game's subdued and dark but definitely present sense of humor. As in the original, these most frequently crop up in often absurd interactions you have with demons during negotiations. But there's also a self-aware stupidity to certain elements and bits of NPC dialogue in the game that really help to lighten the frequently grim mood over time.

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And I guess this is where we inevitably transition to the criticisms that are to be had of this particular version of the game. Because, in truth, while I enjoy it, this release is deeply flawed. Nocturne HD is billed as a "remaster" of the game for modern consoles, and that might technically be true, but only in the most strictly literal sense of the word. While the resolution has clearly been boosted to work with HDTVs and the image quality has very slightly been touched up in spots (I'm noticing reflections on surfaces that weren't present in the original PS2 version of the game), this is still very clearly a PS2 game that has been ported over almost wholesale. The game is replete with the same low-resolution textures and chunky character models from the original release of the game, which, frankly, don't look all that great on modern systems. This profoundly lazy approach hits the game's once attractive pre-rendered cutscenes even worse, as they've been left untouched and thus play in all their 480i glory at a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means they don't fill the screen. Atlus' solution to this is to apply this horrid blurring effect to the sides of the screen when cutscenes play out, which looks far worse than if they'd just opted for black stripes or something.

The area where the presentation succeeds and fails the most in this remaster is in the sound department, however. Atlus didn't opt to use high-quality samples or re-orchestrate the battle themes in this game, so they sound horribly compressed, like they did in the original PS2 version of the game. It's truly jarring when some of the best tracks in this game sound like they're being heard on the other side of a particularly thick wall. This lack of basic concern for a major component of the audio experience is weird when you consider the fact that Atlus went to the trouble to adding a TON of voice acting to this game in both English and Japanese. And it's... pretty good voice acting. The lack of voice acting in Nocturne always stood out as a notable deficiency when compared to Atlus' other releases on the system, so Nocturne HD finally puts the game on par with other classic releases in this regard, but I truly don't understand why they'd invest in hiring multiple actors to record a ton of lines in multiple languages, but wouldn't spend a little bit of money to make sure the battle music sounds decent.

Nocturne's soundtrack isn't up to the standards of IV and IV: Apocalypse, but it is very good, full of atmospheric rock music and mood-setting tunes, along with a true banger of an opening theme. I'll go ahead and link some of my favorite pieces in this game:

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While little more than a disappointing remaster released at premium price on the PS4 for Playstation owners, this version of the game actually holds a lot more significance for Nintendo fans of Atlus. Nocturne is still readily available on the PS2 and (digitally) on PS3, but, despite the series seemingly being married to Nintendo hardware for the foreseeable future, this was the only mainline title in the series that had never released on Nintendo hardware in some form. It was also the only game that had never released at some point on a handheld gaming device. Nocturne HD represents both the portable debut and Nintendo debut of this classic game, then.

With that said, returning to my reluctant indictment of the laziness of this release, the game weirdly has some performance issues in the Nintendo Switch version. When the game first launched in Japan, this version was plagued with long load times and severe framerate dips in dungeons, which took months to iron out until we got the fairly stable build we enjoyed at launch in the West. But even at launch in the Americas, Nocturne HD still stutters in certain situations, especially when docked. It's bizarre to think that a barely touched up PS2 game doesn't run smoothly on vastly more powerful hardware. It also bears mentioning that at launch in Japan, this version of the game was even missing the improvement to demon skill inheritance I mentioned earlier. It was only included in a patch many months later after significant player pushback on the state of the release.

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The ultimate slap in the face for fans has been pricing and DLC practices. On top of everything else, Atlus had the nerve to both charge nearly full price for this release AND include a ton of day one DLC for it that should have been included by default, including content that was originally in the PS2 version of the game! Even worse is the way they tied early access to the game to the purchase of an expensive $70 "digital deluxe edition" of the game like they had previous with Persona 5 Strikers.

It's a shame, really. This game deserves better. The art design is amazing, the battle system was revolutionary, and it represented a fresh new take on the already innovative SMT formula. Despite the nasty tone this piece adopted near the end, I can't even say I regret buying it at launch, because, however repulsive Atlus' approach to this remaster was, the game is a stone-cold classic that was begging to be re-released on modern devices. With voice acting, native portability on the Switch, and with minor quality-of-life improvements, this is still the best way to experience a classic of the medium, although, unfortunately, it's one I could only recommend with certain reservations.

6.5/10

Edited on by Ralizah

Currently Playing
Shantae and the Seven Sirens - Definitive Mode (NS) (replay)

PSN: Ralizah

LtSarge

@Ralizah Very informative review, I highly enjoyed reading it. I think it's a bit of a shame that Atlus didn't put enough effort into making this a better remaster in terms of the cutscenes, the audio and so on. Not to mention that they're charging a premium price for it. Despite that, I still thought a lot of the things you mentioned, especially the gameplay, are appealing to me. The way you described it, it sounds like the game plays pretty much like the Persona games and I'm very familiar with that system, so this should be right up my alley. However, I'm not sure that this should be my first SMT game. I tend to play games in release order, which is why I was interested in playing Nocturne as my first SMT title. But stuff like poor remastering and the seemingly annoying dungeon designs kinda puts me off as I want to have the best first experience with a series that I'm starting out with. That's not to say that I'm never going to play the game, it's just that I don't think I want it to be my first SMT game. Right now, I still think I want SMT IV to be my first game in the series. I've actually been wanting to buy it for a long time now on the 3DS but it never goes on sale, but maybe I should just buy it for €20 that it costs now and start playing it. Maybe that will entice me to eventually buy Nocturne down the line as well, but hopefully it will go down in price in the meantime.

LtSarge

RogerRoger

@Ralizah And the build-up towards SMT V continues! I really, really hope that all this hype is well-rewarded come November but, whatever happens, at least you've been able to go back and thoroughly enjoy the series' history in recent months. This particular port's treatment might've been unfortunate in some areas (alas, that predatory early access and DLC monetisation is all too familiar nowadays) but at least you've been able to enjoy all the good things SMT III: Nocturne has to offer, and on contemporary hardware to boot. That has value; perhaps not to the tune of seventy bucks, but still.

And yeah, what is it with lazy remasters these days, eh...?!

As always, your writing is top-notch, and your choice of screencaps complements each point well. I really enjoyed following along with your in-depth descriptions of the plot, Reason alignment system and battle mechanics, which made it all sound far more interesting than I'd probably find it if playing for myself (not to knock you or the game, of course). I'm also a sucker for the whole "lovely people given a creepy appearance to make you question your assumptions" concept that you touch upon in describing the Manikins, so that made me smile. Thanks for continuing to share your journey!

"We want different things, Crosshair. That doesn't mean that we have to be enemies."

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Ralizah

@LtSarge Thanks a lot! Yeah, if you've played a modern Persona game, it should be pretty simple to transition over to SMT in terms of the battle system and demon fusing. SMT just tends to be more punishing in terms of damage multipliers and press turn antics (i.e. if an attack bounces off an enemy or you miss, you'll lose multiple press turns).

SMT IV was actually my first SMT game, and my third MegaTen game (after Persona 4 Golden and Devil Survivor: Overclocked). It has a punishing beginning and first dungeon, but if you can push through that, the rest of the game is pretty fantastic. Mechanically, SMT IV: Apocalypse is easily the best transition point for someone going from Persona to SMT, but it does assume familiarity with SMT IV's characters and settings, which makes it less ideal as a first game from a narrative perspective.

As much as I like Nocturne, I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first SMT experience either, tbh. Pretty much every aspect of the series was improved upon in more recent games, which hopefully carries over to the new game releasing in November as well. There are certain things it does do better than every game in the series as well, though. If you enjoy whatever game you start with, it's definitely one worth playing at some point in your life. Atlus discounts its games pretty heavily in the States, so hopefully the same remains true where you live.

@RogerRoger I probably should have started replaying the older games sooner so I could have gotten through SMT II and SMT If... as well, but I'll just return to those after SMT V. I'd like to review all of the MegaTen games at some point. Even the obscure, Japanese-only ones that has received fan translations.

But yeah, even if SMT V doesn't live up to the hype, there's still a pile of games I already know are great I could return to. It'd be a crying shame, though. Like Persona 5, this is Atlus' best opportunity to have the series go big. It's getting a ton of attention, Nintendo is pushing it hard, it's releasing on the hottest device on the market at the prime of its life, etc.

For the record, I only paid $50 for this. I wanted a physical copy, but, even if I didn't, I'll never support predatory "early release" pricing. Like with Nintendo, I absolutely love Atlus at their best, so it's disappointing to see them stooping to these sorts of tactics. Granted, Atlus games have had tons of DLC even going back to the 3DS era, but they also launched polished, complete products, and usually rewarded early adopters with free artbooks, soundtrack samplers, key chains, etc. SMT IV launched at a $10 premium on 3DS, but it also came with a sturdy collector's box and a well-illustrated 100+ page book that covered the first major chunk of the game.

The funny thing is that Sega owns Atlus now, so technically both this and Sonic Colors can be called "lazy Sega-published remasters."

But yeah, even if the port isn't ideal, it's still Nocturne on a modern portable console, y'know? I was never not going to enjoy it, although I did want to be honest about the flaws in the game and especially in the game's remastered version.

I'm not sure I was fully satisfied with this piece when I posted it (several sections were rewritten several times, tbh), so I'm glad to know it reads well.

As always, thanks for reading!

Currently Playing
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