Genre newbie support thread

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Craig
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Genre newbie support thread

Post by Craig » May 4th, 2018, 12:50 pm

We all love games here, but we all have genre blind spots. Maybe you've tried a few games and none have clicked, or you're sat watching a video feeling confused, bemused and two hundred years old.

But the curiosity remains.

This is a topic to ask questions about genres you're unfamiliar with. Which are the seminal games, which are good starting off points and what are the things you should know about the genre? Can you help usher in someone's love (or at the very least understanding) of a new genre?



For myself, I'd like to talk about shooters. I've been a huge fan of Contra 3 since as long as I can remember, but take away the guy running and the gravity pinning you to the ground and I'm lost. A few questions!

1) Do you feel a big difference between side scrolling and vertical scrolling shooters?

2) What is the end point for you - finishing the game, or score attack?

3) Is it something you can still enjoy while being bad at the game?

Of the current consoles I only have the Switch and my interest has been piqued by the imminent release of Ikaruga. When discussing this on Twitter someone recommended Danmaku Ultimate 3 as a good starting point - and it's relatively cheap. Are these good entry points into the genre? Thanks to all in advance, hopefully I can relay the favor in other genres.

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Michiel K
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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Michiel K » May 4th, 2018, 1:22 pm

Great thread idea! I'll respond with something substantial when I have a moment.

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by KSubzero1000 » May 4th, 2018, 1:53 pm

I'm in a similar boat as you, Craig, in that I'm also struggling to get into hardcore shoot 'em ups. But I'd like to point out just how much I love Resogun and how it has helped me understand the fundamentals of the genre a lot better. The game is surprisingly easy to pick up and very newcomer-friendly, so from the perspective of a casual, low-skilled player, I'd say it is a great entry point despite being exclusive to PlayStation consoles.

To answer your second question, score attack is definitely where the substantial long-term appeal of the game lies for me. There is a Survival mode that foregoes the multiplier mechanic of the main game and pits you against endless waves of enemies that increase in difficulty over time. You can think of it as a shooter equivalent to Tetris. This is the mode that I regularly revisit every other month or so. I find breaking my previous high scores and progressing a bit further every time to be a very rewarding experience. And this also ties into your third question: Since there is no way to 'beat' the mode and that every run is doomed to end in 'failure', this is definitely something you can enjoy without being great at it. It's just you against the machine, and the entire point is to see how long you can last.

I'm sorry if it's not very helpful considering how little I know about proper shoot 'em ups like CAVE and Treasure. But something as accessible as Resogun is definitely a blessing for someone of my skill level.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Alex79uk » May 4th, 2018, 4:20 pm

I am terrible at scrolling schmups, but they remain probably my favorite type of arcade game. Stuff like Armed Police Batrider, Darius Gaiden, 1942 and its many iterations, I love them. I prefer the older style games (as listed above) to the mental bullet hell type ones, as I just like blasting through them and have not got the patience to learn patterns etc.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by ratsoalbion » May 4th, 2018, 4:42 pm

Hee hee, I keep seeing this ‘schmups’! There’s no ‘c’ in it - it’s not an old Jewish word.
:D

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Alex79uk » May 4th, 2018, 5:08 pm

ratsoalbion wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 4:42 pm
Hee hee, I keep seeing this ‘schmups’! There’s no ‘c’ in it - it’s not an old Jewish word.
:D
Haha I don't know why I put that in there! It sounds like a cheap fizzy pop.

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Stanshall
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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Stanshall » May 4th, 2018, 5:49 pm

As much as Ikaruga is held up as the ne plus ultra shmup de rigueur, I found it a bit...shite.

Give me the decadent destruction of Dodonpachi or Ketsui any day. Excess upon wretched excess. You send a thousand bullets, I'll send twice as many back. Kill all hippies, live and let die. You get the picture.

I play for survival, for a one credit clear, on the front foot. Kill them before they kill you. Kill them before they appear on screen, and kill all their little pals, too. I can do the first three stages of Dodonpachi DaiOuJou on one life but I'm still miles off. I'll get there, though, it's one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had in gaming.

If you want to get into shmups, I can enormously recommend this guide written by a top Dodonpachi player, though it's applicable to the entire genre and full of fascinating insights.

May I present The Full Extent of the Jam:

https://goo.gl/Fi2zE

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by mikeleddy83 » May 4th, 2018, 9:55 pm

Stanshall wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 5:49 pm
As much as Ikaruga is held up as the ne plus ultra shmup de rigueur, I found it a bit...shite.
There's no shame in that. I also struggle to enjoy it and I've been playing Radiant Silvergun on and off for the last 3 months when I need a fix of excitement, Ikaruga just doesn't do that for me.

In a contemporary twist I'm not a fan of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze but I loved Donkey Kong Country Returns. Go figure.

Some shmups do come out in different platforms though and I usually like but don't love cave games but when it came to bug princess 2 on ios I was hooked as sacrilegious as that'd be to seasoned shmups fans (I'd presume at least).

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by xbenblasterx » May 4th, 2018, 10:09 pm

Sorry, i've not got anything to add to the world of shmups aside from playing Geometry Wars 2 in PGR (does that count?).

But my own genre blindspot has to be JRPG'S i've never completed one, not one. I've bought many of the years with the best intentions of completing them, my steam library is stacked with. FFIV, FFV, The Last Remnant, Tales of Xalia, Heroes in the Sky (?) and a few others i cant rightly remember. I've always been attracted to them and i've enjoyed listening to the many JRPG's covered in the show, but when it comes to actually embarking on a playthrough myself i find thr many mechanics and the walls of text put me of very quickly.

Is there an easy way to break into this genre, or am i just gunna' have to man up, and dig through the tough bits.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by KSubzero1000 » May 4th, 2018, 10:58 pm

They may perhaps not count as typical JRPGs, but how do you feel about the Pokémon games, Ben? They're significantly less wordy than others in the genre and have a very clear sense of structural progression, which makes them particularly inviting for newcomers.

Other than that, what about Undertale? It's only a few hours long and should therefore be a lot less tedious than the usual 150+ hours grindfest.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by xbenblasterx » May 4th, 2018, 11:52 pm

I'd never really considered the Pokemon series as a JRPG, perhaps thats a hangover from my youth as in that case i've played my fair few of them.

I was more after maybe a JRPG style game that perhaps streamlines a lot of the mechanics, or at least presents them with an easier curve to handle. I've heard good things on that Undertale, didnt realise that JRPG was a genre it would fall into, i'll be sure to take a look.

Thanks

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » May 5th, 2018, 3:33 am

As far as the "Hebrew" schumps are concerned, the type that Noah used to play, I prefer vertical, as that is the direction of heaven! ;)

Personally I prefer vertical shmups, as there's information being feed from top to bottom, which I find easier for my brain to interpret, and a bit easier to react to. Love my hori's too, but if I had to arbitrarily pick, tate all the way.

Finishing the game is a goal that never crossed my mind, and isn't really important to me - mostly because I have neither the time to perfect things, or the talent. It's all about the moment to moment gameplay, and just escapism. Oh, and that combination of sight and sound! Love it.

Is there something I can enjoy while being bad at the game? Every shmup! Yeah, I'm garbage at them, but they're so much fun that I don't really care. Some runs will be more successful than others, and sometimes things click, but if they don't, eh, doesn't matter.

Danmaku Unlimited 3 is pretty good... there's little design nods not just to Cave, but a little Psyvariar (or an other game where "grazing" is a mechanic), and an Ikaruga-styled pre-level intros. It's definitely it's own beast at the end of the day, and excellent value.

Honestly, Switch-wise, you're going to be spoiled for choice. Some of the Psikyo shmups, as much as I love them (and believe me I do!), they do get a bit samey, with most being vertical with the exception of Sengoku Blade. The bullet patterns are not as intense, and it's not really danmaku, and it is a lot more newbie-friendly, especially considering the variety of difficulty levels presented right from the title screen. You can clear the game very easily on 1, and die very quickly on 7.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Michiel K » May 5th, 2018, 10:21 am

Stanshall wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 5:49 pm
If you want to get into shmups, I can enormously recommend this guide written by a top Dodonpachi player, though it's applicable to the entire genre and full of fascinating insights.

May I present The Full Extent of the Jam:

https://goo.gl/Fi2zE
That guide, yeah. It's definitely insightful and useful up to a certain point, but I have some MASSIVE qualms with it.
If after reading all this you're still not convinced you should practice using MAME, you are an asshole !
I guess I am an asshole. I don't want to break games down piece by piece and program myself to play them and meticulously destroy any sense of flow or organic play... just so I can save time to become better at them? Why would I sacrifice enjoyment and discovery (and the joy of discovery) just to get an edge. What did I gain by playing a perfect game of DoDonPachi, by playing it like a robot? These are 30-40 minute arcade games. Why crap all over the game design just so you can conquer the game and 1CC it in a relatively short time?

Now, if that's your idea of enjoyment, that's all fine. Just don't lambast people who want to play a game organically and the way it was designed to be played.
I really mean it when I say copy [the videos]. Your goal is to get things in the game to happen exactly like in the video. If the video is legit (was not played with slowdown or other cheats) and scores really high, chances are everything you see in it is a golden path to scoring victory. And aren't you looking for a path to repeat and make happen exactly the same every time ? The paths in the videos are your future paths. Or well, almost, because you can still adapt and modify a
bit.
Sounds like a LOT of fun. :roll:

*Not having a go at you, Stanshall, just at the author.

Craig, to answer your questions...

1) There is more to traditional verts and horis than just their scrolling directions. They're 'secretly' governed by certain design conventions. Vertical scrolling shooters can be traced back to Xevious, in which you fly high above a planet and just focus on dodging and shooting, without anything resembling stage hazards. The design template of horizontal shooters can be traced back to Scramble and Gradius and they feature terrain that shouldn't be touched and stage hazards, some more than others. Some vertical scrollers like Radiant Silvergun, and indeed Ikaruga, break these design conventions and some horizontal scrollers like Progear and Akai Katana do the same for their respective subgenre.

2) Often finishing the game and score attacking go hand in hand with me... if there is an addictive and compelling enough scoring system in place for me... I realise I make things harder for myself that way, because scoring bigger usually involves taking more risks.

3) I don't like to think of myself being bad at the games I love. Just in terms of that I have a lot to improve on, but that nothing is beyond my grasp if I would dedicate enough time and attention to it. :) Again, that goes for the games and genres that I click with, anyway.

As far as Ikaruga goes, I know what Stanshall means. It's very much it's own beast and hardly representative of the wider genre, which is probably also why it stands out so much and gets a lot more 'mainstream' attention than anything by Cave. Masterpiece of a game, but I don't click with it that hard either.

I'm going to have to look into those Danmaku Unlimited games.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Stanshall » May 6th, 2018, 9:22 am

Michiel K wrote:
May 5th, 2018, 10:21 am
Stanshall wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 5:49 pm
The Full Extent of the Jam:

https://goo.gl/Fi2zE
That guide, yeah. It's definitely insightful and useful up to a certain point, but I have some MASSIVE qualms with it.
I do hope that his tone is slightly tongue in cheek but beyond that, I totally understand where you're coming from regarding his deconstructive approach. Certainly, I haven't been playing these games as an exercise in approaching robotic perfection (not least because I can't) but there is an element of learning patterns through play (rather than 'practice'). I suppose that's more in line with what you were saying about playing 'as intended'.

To be somewhat generous towards him, I can imagine that once you've mastered playing for survival, the only remaining challenge is playing for score. It seems that the Cave games, in particular, are designed to be played in quite a specific way, especially when trying to maintain chains. I think that's the major source of interest and enjoyment for this dude - learning the best way to maximise and exploit the scoring systems, like a puzzle. It does sound quite joyless to me but I can imagine, say, a One Bro run coming across as obtuse narcissism to someone less obsessed with the Souls games than me!

As for Danmaku Unlimited, I've really been enjoying the third game on the Switch. It's slightly paled in comparison to all the Cave stuff I've been playing (mostly for the first time) over the last couple of months but it is a very accomplished and comparatively meditative game. You may well know but it's built around grazing and chaining rather than all-out destruction. There's slightly strange (but deliberate) lack of aural feedback from your shots or damage done to enemies and you'll probably be listening more for the tick-tick which accompanies a successful graze. It possibly feels more of a puzzle game than 'shooting game' because of that, but it's great at what it does.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by kintaris » May 6th, 2018, 11:30 am

I feel like this thread is made for me, half of my posts since coming to the forum have been along the lines of "where do I start with [X]?"

I think I've gathered enough intel from the forums recently to see me through a couple of months' worth of genre spelunking, but I will be back to this thread for sure.

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Michiel K » May 6th, 2018, 1:31 pm

Stanshall wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 9:22 am

I do hope that his tone is slightly tongue in cheek but beyond that, I totally understand where you're coming from regarding his deconstructive approach. Certainly, I haven't been playing these games as an exercise in approaching robotic perfection (not least because I can't) but there is an element of learning patterns through play (rather than 'practice'). I suppose that's more in line with what you were saying about playing 'as intended'.

To be somewhat generous towards him, I can imagine that once you've mastered playing for survival, the only remaining challenge is playing for score. It seems that the Cave games, in particular, are designed to be played in quite a specific way, especially when trying to maintain chains. I think that's the major source of interest and enjoyment for this dude - learning the best way to maximise and exploit the scoring systems, like a puzzle. It does sound quite joyless to me but I can imagine, say, a One Bro run coming across as obtuse narcissism to someone less obsessed with the Souls games than me!

As for Danmaku Unlimited, I've really been enjoying the third game on the Switch. It's slightly paled in comparison to all the Cave stuff I've been playing (mostly for the first time) over the last couple of months but it is a very accomplished and comparatively meditative game. You may well know but it's built around grazing and chaining rather than all-out destruction. There's slightly strange (but deliberate) lack of aural feedback from your shots or damage done to enemies and you'll probably be listening more for the tick-tick which accompanies a successful graze. It possibly feels more of a puzzle game than 'shooting game' because of that, but it's great at what it does.
Yeah, it’s really a guide for competitive play, rather than for people looking to get into the genre. I’d be massively put off. And even then, this whole “if you don’t play the way I play on MAME with save states and my keyboard, copying other players’ scoring runs, you’re just an asshole” approach is pretty reductive.

I think I’ll leave Danmaku Unlimited for the time being and look at Crimzon Clover instead, thanks man!

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Stanshall » May 6th, 2018, 2:42 pm

I think that's a great choice. I would really love a Crimzon Clover port to the Switch (or PS4).

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Stanshall » May 6th, 2018, 2:42 pm

I think that's a great choice. I would really love a Crimzon Clover port to the Switch (or PS4).

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Flabyo » May 6th, 2018, 5:34 pm

I literally have no idea where I’d point someone to start with JRPGs now, they’ve been exceedingly average for a few years now.

If you have Wii access than ‘The Last Story’ is probably a good one, it touches most of the bases yet manages to avoid having much in the way of padding or grind (as I said at the time ‘it comes in, tells it’s story, then gets the hell out’)

The aspects of the genre I’ve really come to despise are:
1) mistaking grinding and levelling for actual content (I’m looking at you here Ni No Kuni)
2) forgetting that you’re not just telling a story, there should be some actual game (see ff13 for the worst offender there)

I tend to get so much more out of the ‘western’ style now (The Witcher series, Bethesda’s stuff etc...)

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Re: Genre newbie support thread

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » May 7th, 2018, 12:18 am

If we're talking Switch JRPG's, there's the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V. Obviously it's hard to judge the quality of an unreleased title, but it will be exclusively Switch.

And of course, Breath of the Wild is another obvious choice.

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