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Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (PC)

After 20 year I have finally played Halo: Combat Evolved. It wasn’t until I played some Destiny 2 back in 2019 I got the urge to explore the earlier Bungie creations. The tight FPS gameplay in Destiny 2 piqued my interest in Halo.

I bought Master Chief Collection on steam on a sale recently. I decided to play them in release order so I started with Halo: Combat Evolved. As a nintendo fanboy back in the day I pretty much hated the Xbox and Halo. I never was interested in FPS games, not just Halo, but I always wanted my darling Gamecube to be the top dog.

I’m happy that I waiting for the MCC so I could experience the game with more graphics and mouse and keyboard controls. I usually prefer a controller, but for FPS games, I’m a mouse and keyboard kind of guy.

The Anniversary Graphics compared to the Original Graphics

With a press on the tab button it’s possible to swap between the Anniversary and the original graphics. I never used the original graphics when playing, but at times I swapped to them to see the difference.

After playing Halo I actually understand the hype from back in the day. I understand why it was Xbox flagship title and its console seller. It’s still a good game, somewhat dated, but still a very solid game. It’s not a perfect game, but its scope and story are well executed.

Even after twenty years I bascially knew nothing about the story of Halo. I knew some terms I learnt from Warcraft 3 custom maps like The Covenant, The Flood and Halo. I didn’t really know what it entailed. This made the game feel fresh and the plot twist was actually new for me, even after all this time.

A very iconic cutscene

There are some weaker points, for me it’s the large maps without a good way of telling the player where to go without pointing it out too much. I found myself lost a couple of times. The other weak point is the mission The Library, very repetitive, slow and a literal flood of enemies.

After 10 hours of playing I beat the game, and I would actually say it’s one of my better gaming experiences in 2021. It made me a fan of a game that I used to hate (without anything backing my claims). I’m really looking forward to explore this franchise.

Bungie really are masters of good FPS combat, they really evolved it. The weapons feel great and heavy enough to really convey some kind of reality to the player in this fictional sci-fi world.

I would recommend everyone to test Halo: Combat Evolved to see the game that changed FPS on consoles, but also gaming in general. It’s a brilliant game that still are worth to play despite its age.

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DuckTales: Remastered (PC)

The games I write about are usually games I really like. Mostly because I don’t finish games I don’t enjoy playing. This game is the exception. DuckTales: Remastered is a gorgeous game, the art style is nearly perfect. However the gameplay leaves a lot to wish for. While there has been a few quality of life improvements over the NES original, like the easy pogo, which was first featured in DuckTales 2.

DuckTales: Remastered is one of the games that has frustrated me the most. Weird hitboxes, skipped input, bad mechanics and bloated with cutscenes are just a few things that come to mind. WIth skipped inputs I mostly mean, when walking down a platform it’s almost impossible to pogo or time a jump on the ground below making unnecessary hit a problem. The other huge complain is the hitboxes that doesn’t seem to fit the sprites.

The biggest flaw is probably that the life system. Sue to the previously stated problems, getting two lives after a “continue” isn’t enough. Especially not since losing those lives, means starting the level all over again, with all of the progress of the stage lost.

The brilliance of the original is its simplicity. It’s very straight forward, find the boss, defeat the boss collect treasure. Something that the Remaster unnecessarily butchers, artificially prolongs the levels with forced items to collect before a cutscene that takes the player to the last area with the boss.

DuckTales: Remastered is not a difficult game, it’s a cheap game. By adding stuff to do, I feel the game becomes weaker. It charm of the original is that it’s possible to beat in less than 10 minutes. With the addition of the intro stage and new objectives in the stages plus adding a final stage, the games just feels bloated.

I’ve talked a lot of the the problems, but sadly that’s the impression that this game has given me. Bosses with forced cycles, in addition to taking too many hits to defeat, makes them tedious and not exciting. The absolutely most frustrating parts was the ending sequence after the final boss. The race against Magica De Spell and Glomgold to get the Number One Dime. Instead of a straight rope to the top, the remastered “fixed” a part not needing to be fixed, making it one of the most frustraing parts due to bad controls and mechanics. After that sequence which is the last one on the NES, a new escape part is added. Scrooge has to flee from the rising lava and traverse from chain to chain to ascend to safety. The problem is that climing and especially dropping from chains to grab another one is the worst mechanic in the game. These to parts in combination with having to restart the level when all lives are gone made this a living nightmare. I really don’t like this game.

One of the positive aspects besides the graphics, is the music. Jake Kaufman’s original tunes and the arrangements of the classics are good, really good. You can really hear it is Kaufman, which is something I love. Doesn’t save the game as a whole, but it’s one of the redeeming qualities of the game. Don’t know if the music is improved, but I enjoy both the remastered tunes and the originals.

I would honestly not recommend DuckTales: Remastered to anyone, because I know I’ll never ever play it again. I think it a really bad remake. Really happy it’s over.

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Super Mario: Sunshine (Switch)

I beat Super Mario Sunshine for the first time this weekend, this time for the Switch. Not being the biggest fan of 3D Mario, which I usually am quite vocal about, made this more of a nostalgia trip rather than an enjoyable moment.

That aside, Sunshine is a charming game. Charming but very frustrating… And it’s like the first appearance of one of my favorite Nintendo characters. Pretty much my favorite, Bowser Jr.

I do like the game, it’s my third favorite 3D Mario after 3D Land and Odyssey. Playing Sunshine made me very aware of the facit that I playbgames for story and exploring nw worlds. With a story as thin as a thread and also an ending that I already knew about, all that was lett was game design and mechanics. Salt it’s not the games strongest points. The best part of the game is the cozy atmosphere and unique charm.

I knew I needed to collect 50 Shines to be able to complete the game, so that’s what I aimed for. I did however, not know that it was a set of particular 50 stars. When I got 50 stars, and the for the time, aptly named Corona Mountain did ger available, I was disappointed. I wanted the game to end. I did also get stubborn and was not about tonquit. So, I powered through, collected all remaining stars I needed and conquered Corona Mountain.

What a shitty section Corona Mountain is. A Long trail of Lava where there is a boat that doesn’t burn Up when in lava. But IF an obstacle would look at it, it would just give up and let Mario melt in the lava.

After the lava section, the final boss was the only part left. I knew what to do, but the mechanics being kind of unfair at times, it took longer than I want to admit.

When the boss was beaten and the credits started ro roll. All I wanted to do was to put the game on the shelf and not play it anymore. Maybe follow Mario and Peach’s examples and to just watch the sun set. No more Sunshine.

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Castle of Illusion (2013) (PC)

There are remakes and then there are remakes. Sega of Australia’s first (and sadly, only) game is a re-imagining of a Sega classic from the early 90’s. Castle of Illusion was released for the Mega Drive back in 1990 and is still considered as one of the better platformers on the system. If that’s true or not can be discussed for hours. Me, I do not love the original, I very much prefer the port for Sega’s 8-bit machine the Sega Master System, a different game in its entirety, but not relevant right now.

One game I however like quite a lot is the remake of the Mega Drive game, which confusing enought has the exact same name, Castle of Illusion. In my circuit we usually refer to it as HD to differentiate it from the Mega Drive (and Game Gear) and SMS versions with the same name.

There are a lot of 3D sections where Mickey can move freely in every direction

Castle of Illusion (2013) is a complete re-imagining of the same, mixing 2.5D and 3D. The overarching story and world themes are the same, but everything else i completely new. As for the story, Mickey and Minne are on a romantic picnic. This is unacceptable for the witch Mizrabel, so she kidnaps Minnie. Mickey is of course not happy, so he goes after them.

When it comes for differences from the original there are so much to talk about. For starters the game now has a hub where there are doors to be unlocked. To unlock these doors you have to collect diamonds and beat the different world bosses. You may reenter the worlds if you don’t manage to collect enough diamond. In addition to diamonds, there are other items to collect, that doesn’t do anything for progression but to unlock costumes and achievements.

The Hub World

As the games has been transformed a bit into a collect-a-thon it very appropriate to have Grant Kirkhope of Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie and Donkey Kong 64 fame rearranging the score. The music feels natural and it is mainly just the original tunes that are reworked to fit in with the new aesthetic. There are however a few parts that are new and very Kirkhope-esque.

Mickey controls very well and mechanic-wise it’s very solid except a couple of minor bugs that sadly won’t be fixed since the studio was closed down short after the game was released. Luckily they did have time to release v1.1 which added 60 FPS-support which is a must-have.

This is for me an example of a remake done right, and I’m glad I’m opted for this one and not the Duck Tales Remaster that was released around the same time.

The 2D sections are 2.5D, so the paths are noy completely straight, but you can only move in two directions.

The game is pretty short just like its original so it’s faithful in that regard. There are however plenty of stuff to collect even after finishing the game.