While we here at Operation Rainfall love covering the latest in gaming news and sharing our reviews of titles new and classic, we also just enjoy playing games in our downtime. So with that, sit back, relax, and check out what the oprainfall gaming crew have been up to this week!
It’s been a while but we’re back from the holidays, and with it some ponderings on a slew of games played during the end of the year!
My sister and I spent the holiday playing the first three Ys games on the Turbografx CD, courtesy of the new Analogue Duo I bought for my husband. Ys is a series I’ve often said I wanted to check out but never bothered because there are so many games and the continuity was slightly confusing. The first three games are ones my husband played a long time ago and remembers fondly, so we finally just said screw it and started from the beginning (without owning an actual PC88, that is.) I can definitively say I do not like bump combat, so I let my sister play the majority of Ys I and II. I appreciate the simplicity of that game design, I’m just far too impatient for it. Ys II‘s addition of magic helped, but it was still overall not my cup of tea. Bump combat aside, the first two Ys games were incredibly charming in their presentation, with lovely sprite work and portraits that felt nostalgic despite me never having played them in the past. They definitely evoked that sense of 80s aesthetic I grew up with though, and the straightforward story only added to that feeling. There was no grand sweeping narrative, no major plot twists, no deep and misunderstood villain. It was just Adol the adventurer, doing his best to save the folks who needed his help. That’s not to say Ys I and II lacked a story or didn’t have anything to say about the fallibility of humans and the ways hubris can fracture otherwise utopian worlds, but compared to modern standards, it’s pretty quaint.
Ys III was a major departure from Ys I and II, both in story and gameplay. I played the majority of this one, since I preferred the side-scrolling action compared to the overhead bump combat, and I’ve gotta say it was both incredibly fun and incredibly infuriating at times. Some of the boss designs were just flat out unfair for the style of combat, and I banged my head against it longer than I would like (I’m looking at you, hidden cave boss with the bullshit teleporting crystals). Having rescued Ys from evil, Adol and Dogi continue their adventures, this time heading to Dogi’s homeland after hearing of nefarious things happening there. An ancient evil is being resurrected (as you do) and Adol takes it upon himself to help Dogi’s village. This will take him through mines, up a mountain, into the pit of a volcano, and deep into the heart of a corrupt empire. Again, not the most convoluted story, but a satisfying one in its simplicity. The characters are silly and suffer from some particularly bad voice acting, especially compared to Ys I and II, but the gameplay is solid and responsive. I had a blast with this one, and it’s definitely the kind of game I’m glad I played with others around so I could kvetch and laugh in equal parts with everyone else.
I would be remiss not to touch on how phenomenal the music was in all three of these games. Straight bangers the whole way through, and I can see why Nihon Falcom has the reputation it does for producing games with magnificent soundtracks. I’m looking forward to advancing through the rest of the series soon.
Continuing with the Analogue Duo, we also spent an hour or so with the charming Dragon Half board game on the Turbo CD. Seeing as the game does not have an English patch, we fumbled through to the best of our ability, but even not knowing what we were doing, the game was a lot of fun. Dragon Half features an eclectic cast of characters, and each of them break off to form four different teams that players control. You roll dice to advance around the board, which is just an arrangement of towns and castles, where you can buy items, get into fights, or take on quests, depending on the color square you land on. Blue tiles are shops and quests; yellow tiles are events – both good and bad – and red tiles are battles. Battles are played out using RNG, with the enemy and player taking turns. At the start of each round, there’s a character screen with the enemy and your team, under which is a power bar that ebbs and flows. You determine how well your team will do by timing pressing Button I such that the enemy has fewer bars and you have more bars under your character. Once that’s decided, the battle plays out automatically. If you have less power than the enemy, your team will often make mistakes, either falling down and missing the enemy, or sometimes damaging your own party instead. This mechanic can also work in your favor if the enemy has less power than you on its turn. Once you win, you earn money and experience. You’ll need money to buy the items quest givers ask for, so it’s a fun gameplay loop regardless of your level of Japanese understanding. I’d love to see an English patch of this so I can better know what I’m doing, but it was a ton of fun even with my beginner-level Japanese thanks to the animations and voice acting. If you’re a fan of Dragon Half, this game’s a hoot. – Leah
Super Mario Bros. 3
Before the holiday week, I had continued my slow and steady foray through SMB 3, crashing and burning plenty, yet it was a fun bit of gaming. Mostly fun, thankfully, however moments of actual frustration did pop up from time to time. I have to say, some of the stage designs are particularly obnoxious, probably on purpose too, having taken me several tries to figure out the necessary timing or platforming sequence to successfully get through. The forts in Worlds 4 and 5 were the main culprits of my difficulties then. I’m glad stockpiling lives is fairly easy, so far at least. Anyway, I managed to complete World 4 and make it through both of World 5’s maps as well.
I also wish to share, what has impressed me from the start are the graphics. I had forgotten how good this game can look. It’s no Kirby’s Adventure, yet SMB 3 has its moments where I can’t help but to appreciate the thought that went into particular designs. And with the cleverness and creativity of the world themes, stage designs, and enemy designs, you have a notable visual achievement here.
Another observation, it was at this point when the game started to distinctly feel more challenging. Fewer easy stages in which I could complete without taking a hit, more stages and forts where I’ll fail several times before making it through. Worlds 7 and 8, I’m fearing, will be a nightmare for me.
Unfortunately, once the holidays came about, my playthrough came to a halt. Not because of a lack of time, but because I couldn’t muster the want to do so. For several years now the holidays haven’t felt like they used to. I no longer look forward to them and the resultant depression is real. I can only hope the scales tip for the better sooner rather than later, as I would very much like to game, but at the same time, I don’t feel like it, and that feeling is currently the greater of the clashing two. – Drew D.
This week in gaming I finally finished up the very first Ys title. I decided to play the Chronicles version on Steam and I had a lot of fun with it. Though that last tower was a real pain in the ass with all the backtracking and such. Looking forward to digging into Ys II when I get a chance.
The other game I played last week was AEW: Fight Forever. I ended up getting a very late review copy of this and I have to say the game overall is pretty fun. It plays a lot like the N64 wrestling games such as WCW vs. nWo: World Tour, but has been greatly modernized. There are a good number of customization options and the story mode here is pretty fun as well. There are something I’ve found lacking here but I will go into more of that when I write up the full review this week.
Also on tap this week, Goblins! I guess Goblin Slayer lost in this world! – Steve
What games have you been playing this week? Let us know in the comments!
You can read previous Week in Gaming entries here!