I will also share my top 10 favourite games I played this year farther down.
Pt. 1 The following scores were set since May up until today:
11-7 Hatate: 486,786
The bullets need to be composed differently compared to Aya, so the kinds of RNG to look out for and how to position Hatate is a bit different. Other than that, the scene still has the same issues where waiting for the RNG and identifying the right combinations of RNG and how to position Hatate is hard and takes time. My run had 3 great shots but 2 mediocre shots, so there's still room for improvement. The absolute dream would be 500k.
7-2 Hatate: 521,579
I never really felt like playing this scene too much, because it's annoying to wait for Nazrin to move and stay up. It takes forever to get a run going. Luck was decent but if I had the patience I would get a way luckier run than this.
7-4 Hatate: 328,628
Barely an improvement. I've had dozens of runs in the same scoring area. This scene is one of the most mindless in the game; a complete waste of time, but my autism convices me that I need to get the record anyway. It's just so boring that I can't play this scene for more than a few days. I just can't stand this scene and the shitty luck it gives me
4-7 Aya: 359,516
This category is insanely hard. Great score but didn't beat t1100 with it. I might try to in the future, but it's fucking rough.
4-7 Hatate: 344,960
Another great score. I got really fucking lucky here. With Aya I had to grind for a long time until I finally made a big score jump. With Hatate I didn't need to play long until I got 2 great scores in the same day.
12-7 Aya: 1,812,676
I love this scene! This run was really good. You have to do some misdirections and then go very close to Byakuren when you take the photo. Which angle to take from is far from obvious and the RNG here is pretty severe at this level. The timings are tight. It's hard to not die, too.
12-7 Hatate: 1,987,172
Probably my best score in the game. Either that or it's tied with my 10-6 Aya score, I think. With Hatate, you also need the right misdirections, which is far from trivial because you have to quickly move through the wall of doom waves into the misdirection spot. If you wait, you'll be too late. Furthermore, Hatate has to be in a very specific spot for taking the picture. Even a slight misposition will cost you dearly. So I once again had to rely on a pixel sticker to make sure I was pixel positioned correctly each time. The RNG will often push you away, so you have to stall. My execution in this run has been matched multiple times, but the luck I got here is so outstanding as to be almost unbelievable... considering how hard it is to finish a good run even without taking luck into account. A huge score jump was made. 2 million is possible, but man, have fun with that.
12-3 Hatate: 1,827,790
It's a simple RNG grind, but I do have issues maxing the risk bonus reliably, so I always drop some points. The luck was good, but you can get luckier. If you want godtier luck, go for 1.9 million. It should be doable, although it probably would take a couple of weeks to grind for, maybe over a month if you're unlucky. Not sure, but it would be a crazy luck. I'd be fairly satisfied with 1.85m.
12-3 Aya: 1,776,617
Aya has to actually do some random dodging, otherwise it's pretty much the same thing as with Hatate. I got really fucking lucky here, but my execution was bad. If I had executed this run properly, I would've had 1.8 million. I want to try to get that much in the future.
2-4 Hatate: 182,697
Pretty simple. I got really lucky with the first phase, but I messed up the final shot. 190k here would be a great run, but a high 18xk would also be decent. This scene is just so easy and boring that I would rather spend my time on another.
10-1 Aya: 1,003,120
It was good to finally get a million points. I got 990k+ so many damn times! This scene is really fun, but I'm not sure I'll ever aim higher than this. 1.01m maybe, if I really feel like playing this again.
10-1 Hatate: 1,081,945
Amazing Run. one of my best so far, without a doubt. Hatate is a lot harder than Aya here, and I am completely satisfied with my result.
10-7 Hatate: 4,116,249
This run would've been brilliant if not for one photo... I had an average of 600k (the phases don't change on this one) until I got a low 500k shot... RNG is a huge factor for the score, but there's also a wealth of subtle optimizations. I like this scene, but it's one of the most bullshit scenes in the game with Hatate particularly. The reason is the random bullets... They will always wall you and when you go close for the photo there will often be bullets in the way so that you cant take the photo, or when you are already close, a bullet snipes you from inside the laser. What a bitch! I've been trying and trying, but it's really hard to get a run where you never get bullshitted, where you get consistently lucky photos, and where you make no major mistakes with the difficult misdirection optimizations and angles... If I could get 4.2m I would be amazed. I think I would be satisfied with something close to it (say, 4.18m)
10-7 Aya: 3,580,900
Nice run, but I want better. It's easier with Aya because you don't have to go as close to Tenshi for good shots, and you have slightly more positioning freedom for the right Angle. Misdirecting the laser is done slightly differently as well, but it's subtle. 3.62-3.63m would be my target.
10-5 Aya: 5,152,386
This scene is fun and fast paced when Tenshi doesn't move the wrong way over and over, but unfortunately that's what she tends to do... Then it turns into boring waiting. The risk/reward system on this scene is pretty cool, but at a high level, kind of unfair, but that's just how DS is so whatever. The photo tech on this scene is really fun! I met my first goal, but made 5.2 million a new goal, I'm just kinda tired of this scene so in the future I will try it again.
10-5 Hatate: 5,110,838
Harder than with Aya. Also the score is higher on the first 2 shots and then gradually becomes lower than Aya's scores. I don't think I can catch up to Aya's score with Hatate, so I'm fine with this 5.11m.
6-7 Aya: 726,190
Probably my least favorite scene in the game. If you want the macro bonus, the RNG will most likely kill you. If you back away a bit, you are more likely to be able to survive the photo, but you are more likely to lose the risk bonus. What ends up happening with Aya is that I would favor moving away a bit and hoping for a high risk bonus.
6-7 Hatate: 931,872
Take macro bonus on every photo for maximum retardation. I've finished some all macro runs, but this happened to be my best score despite missing a macro. The luck was good.
8-6 Hatate: 1,089,635
This is a good score, but I want to get a higher score and beat CKT (1,106m) if possible. I love this scene because it's of the "move through everything aggressively" kind, instead of the more boring kind of "normal" dodging you normally do in STGs. Although it is hard to finish a run without dying, scoring itself is simple and easily optimized. For that reason, it is a mastter of luck if you want your run to score high. I've had I think 7 1.07m runs and 3 1.08m runs. So getting all the way up to 1.1m, let alone going beyond 1.106m, almost seems hopeless right now. I still intend to try to get there, since I really enjoy playing this. Aya is slightly harder but not that different, so I'll grind her out as well when I am able.
That makes up 38 scores in total in this year:
Best of the year is probably these 4:
I should've played more DS this year, but I put in a decent effort and got some great scores to show for it. Definitely a quality>quantity year. Perhaps I can reach 100 mil with Aya in 2019? It'll come down to if I focus on those particular decisive high-scoring scenes that I haven't played much yet. 11-6, EX-4, et al. Hopefully I'll get this accomplishment done in 2019, but if I don't, it's no biggie. There's no rush. I'm more inclined to get outstanding scores rather than rush through the scenes. I still haven't really played the Spoiler scenes, except for SP-9, lol.
Good year overall for DS.
For the next part, I want to talk about other games I've played for the first time in 2018. I didn't play that many, but I still went ahead and made a top 10 list. Consider all of them as recommendations, and the top 2 as must-plays. Please excuse how messy the following looks due to the different image sizes..
Pt.2 My favourite games played in 2018:
SeaBed is probably my favourite visual novel by now (SubaHibi and Symphonic Rain come close, but SeaBed managed to be more personally resonating for me)
It's not exactly a game as there are no choices to make, so it's what you call a kinetic visual novel. That said, it is the most resonating VN that I have yet to encounter, and I would recommend anyone with sensibilities similar to mine to seek it out as soon as you can. It's an anti-dramatic magical realist story about two girlfriends. It's heavily grounded in psychology, consists mostly of meandering slice of life, and holds much depth and power. Reading it can be a little boring at times, but it does put you in a trance-like state. It's written in such a dry manner that I wouldn't be surprised if only readers that are depressed themselves can truly immerse themselves in it. When you start to realize the true angle of the story, you'll come to understand the true potency of the text as well. This is one for those that thinks "plot" is overrated. I can't even begin to describe how poignant SeaBed is, or how surprising it was to find this story in a medium that typically has vastly different priorities. SeaBed expresses a genuine love and empathy towards people and how they are connected, and a genuine interest in everything under the sun to boot. I can't really talk about the contents much either, lest I spoil one or another aspect of what the whole thing is really going for. So I'll just settle on this brief description. You really just have to dive in yourself.
The most brilliant 2D platformer I have played. Even Yoshi's Island, which I used to find the best, might not be as good as this one. One of the most masterful, if not the downright best game for speedrun purposes at a glance. After learning more about what speedrunning this game is really like, I'm not thrilled to learn about some of its unfortunately bad mechanical quirks... like variable input delay... but despite it all, I think it is a one of a kind masterpiece that takes a bunch of influences from classic games and just makes everything far better. Disregard the corny story. The game is a total masterpiece for gameplay reasons. The combination of mechanics and level design goes beyond any other platformer I know of. Only Yoshi's Island could possibly compare. I really appreciate how differently the characters play each level as well. If I ever start speedrunning a game again, I'd probably play this one if I'm not relearning one of the ones I've already done before (like Zelda II or Twinkle Tale for example) for better times. The game also looks beautiful and has great music.
(Huge quality gap between #2 and #3)
(#3-#6 are pretty much even)
Kind of cheating with this one, since I did play it briefly in my youth at LANs, but I'm not going to count that. I played through the singleplayer without save-loads and found it very enjoyable, albeit with a few bad or frustrating levels. Haven't been playing multiplayer but watching some matches recorded on YouTube convinced me that it is definitely a better game for competition than it is to play alone, as one would expect. The level design in the singleplayer is nonetheless outstanding, and I love the music as well. However, it is a bit of a downer that the enemy types are so limited, which does hamper the creativity of the level design and makes the whole game feel more repetitive than it should've. Weapons are fine, but I prefer arsenals with more creativity and flashiness.
4. Silent Hill 2
I'm not sure if 1 or 2 is better. I enjoyed playing 1 more for gameplay reasons (better puzzles, better balanced combat with the enemies and item drops, and less finnicky with "stand in this EXACT spot to do the thing u want to do" and such) and 2 more for theme/story reasons (it was artistic, touching and overall pretty introspective). Both are excellent in terms of their presentation, sound design and slow brooding horror, and I found many areas and individual portions of both very memorable. 2 would definitely have the edge if I didn't have a shittier experience with finding the right items and standing on the exact right spots to do what u want to do (I had to run around and re-explore the same places over and over because I just happened to be on the wrong spot to use a certain item, or mysteriously miss an item, or object, or not spawn an item that was supposed to be there, etc...)
As it is, I think 2 is perhaps slightly more impressive if you take only its good aspects into account. After all, gameplay is clearly not really the strength of this series, and 2 is more impressive artistically speaking. It makes me feel like it was the better game in retrospect, but yeah, I dunno. It operates on an entirely different emotional mode compared to the first game, and I think both games offer a different great experience, and have different kinds of unfortunate flaws.
An excellent horror game, simply put. The sound design is absolutely brilliant, and I also enjoyed the story and cinematography of it all. There are so many points where I am totally conscious of the camera angles. Even the gameplay was surprisingly solid, with a couple of well designed areas, balanced item distribution for a first playthrough, nice puzzles, and deliberately clunky combat being honestly immersive in this context. I still have some complaints, such as the design of the overworld not really making any sense from a gameplay perspective (there is no point in fighting enemies since they'll respawn anyways and items are finite, so I ended up just running through everything with the lights on. if you turn off the lights you can't read the map, so it's pretty useless when you can just run past everything instead.) and the bosses being totally unnecessary garbage. May as well just have a movie cutscene instead. Still, played on its own terms and appreciated for its strengths, I dare say it's almost as good or perhaps even with a film like Eraserhead or La femme qui se poudre. It's also impressive that they managed to pull this one off on the PS1.
https://explainremember11.wordpress.com/ This page was a tremendous help after completing it. It's definitely by far the most convoluted and in a plot sense complex VN I've completed. My 2nd game in the infinity series. If anything, This game might be a bit better than Ever17 and 999. It's a lot more intricate, way harder to understand and it expects you to figure out a million little details on your own if you want to piece together some kind of coherent meaning out of it all. What surfaces if you read about this game online is that it's more clever than Ever17. I'm also satisfied that it didn't crap itself for an ending. However, its style is still... not entirely to my taste. Just like with Ever17, there is a tremendous amount of effort put into making it as convoluted as possible, and in this case, they really push it to the limit. It's a great life and death mystery story with fantastic BGM and voice acting, but after understanding everything that really happened, the experience on the whole feels a little hollow afterwards. The game is amazing, I'm not denying it, but neither of these infinity stories completely worked for me. In Ever17's case, it's mostly the true route, which is just way too contrived and positive that I take issue with. In Remember11's case, it's that an overcomplicated plot on its own is never enough to wow me. Remember11 wowed me in a lot of other ways, but what stands out about it is nonetheless the plot structure and subtext, and I certainly don't belong to the audience that would call it a masterpiece on those terms. Great game, brilliant in some ways even, but I wasn't really... MOVED by it y'know? It doesn't completely resonate beyond just being an obviously well thought-out work, and the crux of the storytelling is always going to be divisive. Ever17 had more issues objectively, but it actually really moved me in Tsugumi's route. The problem with Remember11 is that, despite its complex plot and subtext, the narrative itself doesn't really convince me that it's especially deep or meaningful or anything. If anything it's all the little moments in the story, the mystery, confusion and human struggles, that I enjoyed most... so pretty much the same as with Ever17. Also the music is superb.
I don't often play Belt Scrollers but after playing around in this one for a while and trying to get to grips with it, I have to say this one really impresses me. It might be in my top-3 belt scrollers ATM behind with Denjin Makai II and PuLiRuLa. Fun moveset, great presentation, and solid design. It seems to me to strike a good balance between casual friendly and well designed for veterans. The stages are well composed in addition to the game not holding back when it comes to catering to a more casual audience. A great game for beginners that actually care about the genre.
An excellent 2D action game with levels and mechanics so well designed as to remind me of the arcade era. Too many games of this kind don't really understand what good design means. Volgarr is a game that gets it. That said, I actually haven't played it enough to rate it higher yet, if I ever will (just too many games to play, and I have other hobbies, man...). I could see my rating going up for this one.
A murder mystery mindfuck VN which shines in terms of atmosphere and mood. It is an emotional experience which really gets you close to the main character and his fears and paranoia. Quite an underrated work if you ask me. I dare say the last chapter is almost otherworldly in its atmosphere. I don't mean to overrate it myself, though. It's no SubaHibi, but I do think it's better than Chaos;Child.
I only ever played the NES version previously, a game of my youth, which I don't consider to be a great game. The arcade version, however, is pretty great. It is a gorgeous, vibrant experience with solid gameplay and a beautiful ending. I've co-oped the NES game with multiple people but haven't gotten to co-op the arcade version yet... However, I could only see doing so improving my opinion of it if anything.
That's it for me this year. See you in 2019.