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Protection microcontrollers continue to fall, with Rainbow Islands – Extra Version, Choplifter, Wyvern F-0, 1943: The Battle of Midway and Bionic Commando no longer needing simulation, hacks or patches. In some cases, the dumps have confirmed that the protection had been reverse-engineered correctly and the simulation was correct, but it's still important to preserve these programs. It’s also important for people repairing these systems if the original microcontrollers have failed.
There are three important sound-related fixes in this release: FM Towns CD audio playback positions have been fixed, Konami System 573 digital audio synchronisation has been improved, and a special low latency mode has been added for the PortAudio sound module.
For more advanced users and developers, more functionality has been exposed to Lua scripts and plugins. The layout file format has been overhauled to better support systems that make creative use of LEDs and LCDs. Disassembler support has been added for the Fujitsu F2MC-16 and National Semiconductor CompactRISC CR16B architectures. And if you've been following along, you might notice that we’ve waved goodbye to a little more of our C legacy with the removal of the MACHINE_CONFIG_START macro and its associated crud.
We don't have space to list all the Apple II and ZX Spectrum software list additions here, but they’re in the whatsnew.txt file. You get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.
MAMETesters Bugs Fixed
- 00349: [Graphics] (shaolins.cpp) kicker: Graphical artefacts after going through service mode tests. (Angelo Salese)
- 02060: [Graphics] (aerofgt.cpp) spinlbrk, spinlbrku, spinlbrkj: Incorrect graphics priorities. (Mamesick)
- 04159: [DIP/Input] (segas24.cpp) sgmast, sgmastc, sgmastj: Swing power input doesn’t work correctly. (Angelo Salese)
- 05516: [Misc.] Systems using TZX cassette format: [debug] Allocated memory is not freed correctly. (AmatCoder)
- 06231: [Interface] (poly88.cpp) poly88: Cassette is not working. (Robbbert)
- 06654: [Interface] (c64.cpp) c64: In some cases, changing slot cards and choosing RESET crashes MAME. (AmatCoder)
- 06655: [Interface] cgenie, coco3: Unloading and big changes in interface slots can cause crash. (AmatCoder)
- 06677: [Interface] MAME may crash when selecting a new machine if current machine has empty image slots. (AmatCoder)
- 06716: [Media Support] (spectrum.cpp) specpl3e: Fatal error when launching ZX Spectrum disks. (AmatCoder)
- 06756: [Interface] (nascom1.cpp) nascom2, nascom1: Cassette records no signal. (Robbbert)
- 06880: [Crash/Freeze] (coco3.cpp) All machines in coco12.cpp, coco3.cpp: UI/MAME crash when configuring MPI options. (AmatCoder)
- 07098: [Sound] (itech32.cpp) gt3d, gt97, gt98, gt99, gt2k, gtclassc: Incorrect sounds play during gameplay. (AJR)
- 07188: [DIP/Input] (zr107.cpp) jetwave and clones: Analog controls do not respond in game. (Hydreigon)
- 07331: [DIP/Input] (vsnes.cpp) pc_duckh, pc_hgaly, pc_wgnmn, duckhunt, hogalley: Lightgun games doesn’t work. (Enik Land)
- 07357: [Crash/Freeze] (taitojc.cpp) All sets in taitojc.cpp: Reset loop after startup screen. (AJR)
- 07362: [Crash/Freeze] (vii.cpp) jak_spdm, jak_pooh, others: [debug] DRC assertion failure. (Ryan Holtz)
- 07370: [Crash/Freeze] (namconb1.cpp) sws95, sws96, sws97: Crash during attract mode. (hap)
- 07373: [Gameplay] (iteagle.cpp) gtfore02, gtfore03, gtfore04, gtfore05, gtfore06 and clones: Games fail to boot. (Samuele Zannoli)
- 07377: [Crash/Freeze] Crash or segmentation fault when removing some slot cards. (AmatCoder)
- 07385: [Interface] (wrally.cpp) wrally: Coin inputs are don’t work. (O. Galibert)
New working machines
- The Boat [AJR, Roberto Fresca, TeamEurope, The Dumping Union]
- Commodore Chessmate [hap]
- Double Joker Poker (CGI) [Stu, hammy, The Dumping Union]
- Energopribor Debut-M [hap, Berger]
- Game & Watch: Bomb Sweeper [algestam, jeffpar, mattl]
- Game & Watch: Gold Cliff [algestam, hydef, Ewzzy, laurenstrenger, antimoof]
- Game & Watch: Safe Buster [algestam, Rygar9, Moose, foxxtrot]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto Berlin 68000 [Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto Mondial [CB-Emu, Sandro Ronco]
- Kazaam (handheld) [hap, Sean Riddle, handheldgamefan89]
- Novag Constellation [hap, Berger]
- Novag Savant [hap, Berger, Sean Riddle]
- The Open University Hektor III [Nigel Barnes, jltursan]
- Saitek Kasparov Corona (ver. D+) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Saitek Kasparov Turbo King (ver. D) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Super 21 [Roberto Freeze, Grull Osgo, TeamEurope]
- Tangerine/ETI Space Invasion (ETI) [Nigel Barnes]
New working clones
- Dragon World 3 EX / Zhongguo Long 3 EX / Dungfong Zi Zyu 3 EX / Chuugokuryuu 3 EX (ver. 101CN) [GC8TECH]
- F1 Super Lap (World, Unprotected) [Corral Tomaselli, The Dumping Union]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto B&P [CB-Emu, Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto Berlin 68000 London Upgrade [Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto Super Mondial (Ver B) [CB-Emu, Sandro Ronco]
- New Lucky 8 Lines (set 7, W-4, encrypted) [TeamEurope]
- Novag Chess Champion: MK II (ver. 2) [hap]
- Royal Casino (D-2608208A1-1, Smaller Board, set 2) [TeamEurope, The Dumping Union]
- Saitek Kasparov Corona (ver. C) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Saitek Kasparov Turbo King (ver. B, set 1) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Saitek Kasparov Turbo King (ver. B, set 2) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- SciSys Kasparov Stratos (set 2) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Tangerine Micron [Nigel Barnes]
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Turtles in Time (4 Players ver UEA) [Stephan Suys]
- Wyvern F-0 [jordigahan, ClawGrip, The Dumping Union]
- Zip & Zap (Less Explicit) [system11, The Dumping Union]
Machines promoted to working
- David Griffiths DG680 with DGOS-Z80 1.4 [Robbbert]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto MM IV [Sandro Ronco]
- Ninja Gaiden (handheld) [hap, Sean Riddle]
- SciSys Kasparov Stratos (set 1) [hap, Berger, CB-Emu]
- Tasc ChessSystem R30 [Sandro Ronco]
- VEB Mikroelektronik Erfurt Chess-Master (set 1) [Sandro Ronco]
- VEB Mikroelektronik Erfurt Chess-Master Diamond [Sandro Ronco]
Clones promoted to working
- hack Mephisto MM IV (TurboKit) [Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto MM II [Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto MM V [Sandro Ronco]
- Hegener & Glaser Mephisto Rebell 5.0 [Sandro Ronco]
- Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (RK, bootleg) [hammy, ClawGrip]
New machines marked as NOT_WORKING
- Bingo Time [TeamEurope]
- Bonanza Enterprises' Joker Poker [TeamEurope, The Dumping Union]
- Coleco / Ganz Talking Wrinkles [hap, David Viens]
- Cue (Prototype) [The Sanctum, PinMAME]
- H/H Microcomputers H/H Tiger [Centre for Computing History]
- Kodai Ouja Kyouryuu King - Mezame yo! Arata-naru Chikara!! (Japan, Ver 4.000) (MDA-C0061) [SauraphaganaxRex, MetalliC]
- Lucky 21 [TeamEurope]
- Lucky 21-D [TeamEurope]
- Lucky 25 [TeamEurope]
- Lucky 37 [TeamEurope]
- Reuters Model SK 101 BL [MCbx Old Computer Collection]
- Silicon Graphics Inc Personal Iris 4D/25 [Patrick Mackinlay]
- Southwest Technical Products Corporation SWTPC 8212 [Robbbert]
- Space Byte 8085 [AJR, S100Computers.com]
- unknown Chang Yu Electronic gambling game 1 [TeamEurope]
- unknown Chang Yu Electronic gambling game 2 [TeamEurope]
New clones marked as NOT_WORKING
- Black Tiger (Modular System) [Juan Romero, Recreativas.org, ClawGrip]
- Casino Poker (Ver PM88-01-21, German) [TeamEurope]
- Gold Strike (Barcrest) (MPU5) (V1.00, Spanish, Bilso S.A.) [jordigahan, ClawGrip, Recreativas.org]
- Honeywell Bull QuestaM [rfka01, aquarius]
- Legend of Hero Tonma (Gaelco bootleg, Modular System) [ArcadeHacker, Recreativas.org, ClawGrip]
- Lion 3500 [rfka01]
- Octek Fox II [rfka01]
- Photo Y2K 2 / Chaoji Bi Yi Bi 2 / Dajia Lai Zhao Cha 2 / Real and Fake 2 Photo Y2K (ver. 100, Japanese Board) [GC8TECH]
- Tangerine Microtan 6809 System [Nigel Barnes]
- Video Hustler (bootleg, set 4) [f205v]
New working software list additions
- apple2_flop_orig: 2400 A.D., Advanced Math Shop, Algebra Shop, Alice in Wonderland, Alternate Reality: The Dungeon (Version 2.1), Both Barrels, Bureaucracy (Release 116 / 870602), Congo, Copy II Plus (Version 2.0), The Dark Crystal, Dark Lord, Dr. Ruth's Computer Game of Good Sex, Enchanter (Release 15 / 831107), Escape!, Hollywood Hijinx (Release 37 / 861215), Infidel (Release 22 / 830916), Maniac Mansion, Math Shop, Math Shop Jr., Maxwell Manor, MECC-A279 Lewis and Clark Stayed Home (Version 1.0), MECC-A315 Freedom! (Version 1.0), Moonmist (Release 9 / 861022), The Neverending Story, Operation: FROG, Quadrant 6112, Sherwood Forest, Short Circuit, Space Shuttle: A Journey Into Space, The Sporting News: Baseball, Suspect (Release 14 / 841005), Suspended (Release 8 / 830521), Tetrad, Witness (Release 22 / 840924), World War III [4am, Firehawke]
- coco_flop: Rainbow on Disk 1986-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1986-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1986-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1987-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1988-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1989-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1990-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1991-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-04 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-05 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-06 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-07 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-08 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-09 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-10 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-11 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1992-12 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1993-01 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1993-02 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1993-03 issue, Rainbow on Disk 1994-01 issue [Firehawke]
- bbc_rom: Uniterm, Vax [Nigel Barnes]
- cd32: Vital Light (Amiga CD32 Special) [redump.org, FakeShemp]
- dragon_cart: Test De Conducción [robcfg]
- fmtowns_cd: Cat's Part-1, DOR Best Selection Gekan, G5, Gokko Vol. 01 - Doctor, Leading Company, Professional Mahjong Goku, Sekigahara, Shinjuku Labyrinth, Taiken Shiyou! Marty Channel [redump.org, r09]
- gba: Aging Cartridge (World, Rev. 1), Bibi und Tina - Ferien auf dem Martinshof (Ger, Rev. 1), Blue Angelo - Angels from the Shrine (Europe, Prototype 1), Blue Angelo - Angels from the Shrine (Europe, Prototype 2), Disney's Peter Pan - Return to Neverland (USA, Rev. 1), Dogz 2 (USA, Rev. 1), EX Monopoly (Jpn, Rev. 1), Hardcore Pool (Fra), Hunter X Hunter - Minna Tomodachi Daisakusen!! (Jpn, Rev. 1), J.League Pocket (Jpn, Rev. 1), The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring (USA, Rev. 1), King Kong - The Official Game of the Movie (Euro, English / Swedish / Norwegian / Danish / Finnish), Matantei Loki Ragnarok - Gensou no Labyrinth (Jpn, Rev. 1), Paws & Claws - Pet Vet (USA), Pocket Monsters - Leaf Green (Jpn, Rev. 1), Power Pro Kun Pocket 5 (Jpn, Rev. 1), Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time (USA, Rev. 1), Racing Fever (Fra), Riviera - Yakusoku no Chi Riviera (Jpn, Rev. 1), Shrek - Swamp Kart Speedway (USA, Rev. 1), Sim City 2000 (USA, Rev. 1), SN Systems (Jpn), Strawberry Shortcake - Ice Cream Island - Riding Camp (Euro, Rev. 1), Super Dodge Ball Advance (USA, Rev. 1), Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (USA, Rev. 1), Tweety and the Magic Gems (Ned), Ultimate Card Games (USA, Rev. 1), Ultimate Card Games (USA, Rev. 2), Wizardry Summoner (Jpn, Rev. 1), Zoids Saga (Jpn, Rev. 1) [No-Intro, FakeShemp]
- ibm5150: SimEarth: The Living Planet (3.5", v1.1), SimEarth: The Living Planet (3.5", v1.3), SimEarth: The Living Planet (5.25", v1.1), SimEarth: The Living Planet (Europe, 3.5", v1.0) [Justin Kerk]
- mephisto: Mephisto HG 240 Opening Library [CB-Emu, Sandro Ronco] Mephisto HG 440 Opening Library, Mephisto HG 550 Opening Library [Sandro Ronco]
- mt65_cass: Columbia Word, PGM Design Aid, Space Invasion, TUG EPROM Programmer, Tan-Forth [microtan.ukpc.net]
- mt65_rom: 2-Pass Assembler v1.2, DASM, Fig-FORTH 1.2, HRG Toolkit, Microsoft BASIC, Microsoft BASIC (Mousepacket Colour VDU), PGM Toolkit, Space Invasion, Toolkit, Video 80/82 Toolkit, XBug 5.2, XBug 5.3 [microtan.ukpc.net]
- odyssey2: AMOK!, Calculator!, Pong for Videopac and Odyssey²! [Justin Kerk]
- saitek_egr: Endgame ROM (ver. 1), Endgame ROM (ver. 2) [hap, Berger]
- sorcerer_cart: System Software Basic v1.1 [Robbbert]
- ti99_cart: Myarc Extended Basic II [Michael Zapf]
- vsmile_cart: Disney's Princess Cinderella - Lernen im Märchenland (Germany, Rev. 204), Disney/Pixar Findet Nemo - Nemos Unterwasserabenteuer (Germany) [TeamEurope]
Software list items promoted to working
- fmtowns_cd: The Legend of Kyrandia [redump.org, r09]
- spectrum_cass: Batman (set 8, The Hit Squad), Seymour - Take 1 (Minigame / Demo), Turbo The Tortoise (set 2, Codemasters), Wonder Boy (set 1), Wonder Boy (set 2) [AmatCoder, David Haywood]
New NOT_WORKING software list additions
- cd32: Brutal Sports Series: Football, Cannon Fodder, Castles II: Siege & Conquest, Frog Feast (Demo), Gulp!, PGA European Tour, Pierre Le Chef is... Out to Lunch, Power Drive, Power-Games, Prey: An Alien Encounter, The Seven Gates of Jambala, Sheer Delight, Simon the Sorcerer, The Speris Legacy, Strip Pot, Subwar 2050, Summer Olympix, Super Methane Bros., Super Skidmarks (set 2), Superfrog, Surf Ninjas, Syndicate, Theme Park, Trivial Pursuit, Trolls, UFO: Enemy Unknown, Ultimate Body Blows, Wembley International Soccer, Whale's Voyage, Wild Cup Soccer, Worms, Zool 2, Zool: Ninja of the "Nth" Dimension [redump.org, FakeShemp]
- dragon_cart: AMTOAX25 [David Linsley]
- fmtowns_cd: Scavenger (1993-11-11) [redump.org, r09]
- gba: Farbe (Ger), Game Boy Advance Video - Shrek (USA, Rev. 6), Game Boy Advance Video - Shrek 2 (USA, Rev. 6) [No-Intro, FakeShemp]
- mt65_rom: DVWord, EPROM Programmer, XBug 5.2 (patched tape for 1.5MHz) [microtan.ukpc.net]
- vsmilem_cart: Disney Micky Maus Wunderhaus (Germany), Fussball Meisterschaft (Germany), Sportskanone (Germany) [TeamEurope]
Translations added or modified
- Turkish [Kadir Ekşi]
- mc68hc11: Implemented more of the instructions, and cleaned up code. [68bit]
- tilemap: Added note about misleading variable names. [68bit]
- mc6846.cpp: Fixed timer modes. [68bit]
- m68040: Stop CINV DATA instruction from causing F-line exception. [AJR]
- wy100.cpp: Added keyboard, preliminary character display, and serial ports. [AJR]
- wy50kb: Fixed incorrect mapping for F4 key. [AJR]
- i8275: Calculate refresh rate from software-configured parameters. [AJR]
- Fixed calculation of TMS34010/020 shifted memory addresses for debugger save and load commands (fixes GitHub #5309). [AJR]
- Added disassembler and skeleton CPU device for CompactRISC CR16B architecture. [AJR]
- z8: Fixed calculation of half carry flag – Z8671 BASIC no longer prints “12” when the result is 18. [AJR]
- m37710: Added internal clock divider. [AJR]
- itech32.cpp: Use generic latch device for sound communications, and added second latch to 68EC020 systems. [AJR]
- cw7501, cdr4201: Added preliminary Creative CD-R 4210 and Panasonic CW-7501 SCSI CD-ROM devices. [AJR, Metropoli BBS Archive, Dirk Best]
- mcs51 disassembler updates: [AJR]
- Restored some 8052 special-function register and bit names for more advanced models.
- Added a few more T2-related names to disassembler.
- Added i8xc51fx and i8xc51gb disassemblers with additional special-function register and bit names.
- Removed i80c51 from unidasm (differences from i8051 are not significant).
- poly88, poly8813: Added S-100 bus. [AJR]
- Moved Video Terminal Interface and additional RAM to S-100 cards, and added skeleton disk controller card.
- i8155: Update port outputs on mode change. [AJR]
- tzx_cass.cpp udpates: [AmatCoder]
- Add 1 ms pause to ensure the last edge finishes properly at the end of the tape.
- Fixed loading of Generalized Data blocks.
- Fixed pulses on Standard Data blocks.
- dsk_dsk.cpp: Corrected sector size for some copy-protected tracks (fixes MT06716). [AmatCoder]
- namcos2.cpp: Removed ROZ optimization hack as it caused missing backgrounds in Phelios. [Angelo Salese]
- usgames.cpp: Changed drawing to use 6845 row update callback – fixes screen alignment. [Angelo Salese]
- seibucop.cpp: Fixed flipped sprite alignment in macro $C480 – improves SD Gundam Rainbow stage 3 mid-boss. [Angelo Salese]
- nemesis.cpp updates: [Angelo Salese]
- Changed machine configurations to use raw screen parameters.
- Fixed raster interrupt generation for Hyper Crash (fixes coin insertion and gameplay glitches).
- taito_en.cpp: Improved MB87078 divider ratios – fixes regression with Taito F3 volume control being too quiet. [Angelo Salese]
- senjyo.cpp: Fixed long-standing regression in background pixel layer width/enable handling. [Angelo Salese]
- riscpc.cpp: changed rpc700 to use proper ARM710a core, and fixed video transfers. [Angelo Salese]
- pgm.cpp: Added notes, improved metadata, and cleaned up code. [cam900]
- dooyong.cpp updates: [cam900]
- Added tilemap attribute callback, implemented tilemap ROM limits, and added support for masked tilemap priority.
- Updated notes and metadata.
- nmk16.cpp updates: [cam900]
- Moved Afega-specific code to a derived state class.
- Invalidate tilemaps when RAM bank is changed.
- Cleaned up twinactn Oki sound ROM bank switching.
- Changed Afega games to mono sound output and fixed sound output balance.
- Derive clock frequencies from crystals/oscillators found on boards.
- cps1.cpp: Moved palette initialization into machine configuration. [cam900]
- deco32.cpp: Reduced runtime tag map lookups and cleaned up code. [cam900]
- seta2.cpp: Verified sound tempo and pitch, and CPU clock frequency. [cam900]
- pgmprot_igs027a_type3.cpp: Corrected ARM7 CPU clock frequency for killbldp. [cam900]
- vamphalf.cpp updates: [cam900]
- Don’t change screen resolution and refresh rate when changing flip screen state.
- Restricted sprite drawing to clipping rectangle.
- Reduced duplication, added notes, and cleaned up code.
- qvt103.cpp: Implemented basic screen rendering. [Dirk Best]
- att630.cpp: Implemented screen rendering, and added more information to address map. [Dirk Best]
- falco5220.cpp: Identified keyboard addresses, and implemented RAM banking and preliminary graphics. [Dirk Best]
- bionicc: Correctly hooked up microcontroller, fixed audio CPU non-maskable interrupt source, and removed hacks. [Dirk Best]
- 1943.cpp: Replaced microcontroller simulation with emulation. [Dirk Best, Brian Troha, TeamEurope, The Dumping Union]
- nes, sms: Fixed light gun regressions. [Enik Land]
- 315_5124: Adjusted horizontal screen positions based on new research. [Enik Land, Charles MacDonald]
- k573dio: Fixed played sample count reporting. [Eric Vidal]
- Added an ultra-low-latency mode for PortAudio sound output module. [Eric Vidal]
- luaengine.cpp: Added accessors for snapshot target size, screen refresh interval, and snapshot bitmap. [feos]
- Disable UI startup screens when using the dummy video output module. [feos]
- MIDI: Fixed reception of several System Common messages. [Golden Child, R. Belmont]
- Added a sensorboard device mainly meant for chess piece simulation, and updated all chess drivers to use it. [hap, Sandro Ronco]
- ti99: Added support for for RAM-only standard cartridges (Myarc Exbasic II), and fixed RS-232 card DIP switches. [Michael Zapf]
- i386: Added hardware breakpoint support. [MoochMcGee]
- Moved UI colors and menu metrics into MAME UI manager class. [Nathan Woods]
- mc6847.cpp: Respond to changes in the video artifact configuration. [Nathan Woods]
- Lua engine updates: [Nathan Woods]
- Exposed effective frame skip from video manager.
- Exposed sound manager and natural keyboard objects.
- Added support for saving snapshots to absolute paths.
- Added ability to set input sequences on I/O port fields and exposed more properties.
- Exposed more device_image_interface properties and fields.
- Separated plugin options from core options, simplified boot.lua and made enabling/disabling non-existent plugins fatal.
- Added support for multiple semicolon-separated paths in the -pluginspath option.
- Added support for profiling Lua.
- Added ability to disable UI input from Lua.
- Moved the clipboard paste function from the MAME UI manager to the natural keyboard class. [Nathan Woods]
- Added an option to skip showing the file manager for mandatory slots on start. [Nathan Woods]
- mindset updates: [O. Galibert]
- Added floppy drives and LEDs.
- Implemented more video features, including 80-column mode, and improved blitter.
- Implemented I/O traps and display VRAM lookup.
- mindset: Added mouse and joystick inputs, improved palette, and added more register details. [O. Galibert, Al Kossow]
- ncd16: Fixed BERT QLC mode work, allowing terminal to boot. [O. Galibert]
- floppy: Added initial implementation of weak zone emulation. [O. Galibert]
- via6522: Changed most users to install handlers using map delegate. [O. Galibert]
- i186: Fixed bug in end-of-interrupt write handling. [O. Galibert]
- mk14: Added original SCIOS V1 monitor as a BIOS option. [Nigel Barnes]
- Overhauled microtan.cpp driver: [Nigel Barnes]
- Added TANBUG V3.1, TANBUG V.3B, TUGBUG V1.1 and TANBUG V1 monitor ROMs as BIOS options.
- Replaced XBug with original 0.75 MHz version (fixes cassette loading).
- Added Micron system (MT65 and Tanex boards only).
- Implemented the Microtan motherboard backplane and moved Tanex to slot device.
- Implemented additional Tanbus expansion cards.
- Added Space Invasion (ETI) and preliminary Microtan 6809 System emulation.
- Added SeeQ 8003 Ethernet data link controller device. [Patrick Mackinlay]
- Added Weitek WTL3132 floating-point coprocessor device. [Patrick Mackinlay]
- nscsi_cd: Made SGI CD-ROM identify as hard disk (SGI Personal Iris depends on this). [Patrick Mackinlay]
- apple2gs: Fixed game port regression. [R. Belmont]
- Added Fujitsu F2MC-16 disassembler, initial CPU core, and preliminary MB90610A and MB90611A microcontroller devices. [R. Belmont]
- enmirage: Use PWM device to get readable LED messages. [R. Belmont]
- mac128, mac512: Added preliminary GCC HyperDrive hard disk interface expansion (not working). [R. Belmont, Guru]
- fmtowns_cd.xml: Replaced disk images lacking offset correction and pre-gaps with dumps matching the redump.org database. [r09]
- Also expanded and corrected metadata.
- fmtowns.cpp updates: [r09]
- Fixed CD-DA start/end position (should be relative to beginning of table of contents).
- Fixed crash on out-of-bounds palette writes in 16-color mode.
- dbp7000: Added initial Framestore and Brush Store Card devices. [Ryan Holtz]
- pockstat: Modernized logging and machine configuration, and cleaned up code. [Ryan Holtz]
- Removed MACHINE_CONFIG_START/MACHINE_CONFIG_END and almost all remaining MCFG macros. [Ryan Holtz]
- midtunit: Added debugger commands for logging DMA drawing bitmaps in PNG format and metadata in JSON format. [Ryan Holtz]
- debugcon: Added helpcustom command to display help for custom debugger command registered by devices. [Ryan Holtz]
- SGI Newport graphics updates: [Ryan Holtz]
- Split out XMAP9, CMAP, VC2, and RB2 to separate devices.
- Merge popup, overlay and CID planes into a single buffer to better reflect hardware behavior.
- Removed support for TEXFORMAT_PALETTEA16 (16-bit indexed with alpha). [Ryan Holtz]
- aviio: Added support for reading uncompressed RGB24 and YUV420p format video frames. [Ryan Holtz]
- scc68070: Moved Quizard microcontroller simulation to cdi.cpp, and modernized logging. [Ryan Holtz]
- tascr30: Added display, inputs and SmartBoard. [Sandro Ronco]
- agat.cpp: Added basic Agat-9 emulation, including video, Apple-compatible mode, and low-level floppy drive emulation. [shattered]
- De-unrolled pixel-drawing loops in various devices and drivers. [shattered]
- Made layout format more flexible and deprecated artwork “layer” concept. [Vas Crabb]
- apple2_flop_clcracked.xml: Added several hundred more cleanly cracked software items. [4am, Firehawke]
- nemesis.cpp: Improved Bubble System interrupt sources and timings, and expanded notes. [ArcadeHacker, Lord Nightmare]
- toki_ms.cpp: Dumped missing PROM for tokims. [ArcadeHacker, Recreativas.org, ClawGrip]
- naomi.cpp: Dumped “Sammy Atomiswave MPSYSTEM” four-cabinet splitter device. [Brian Hargrove]
- mpu5.hxx: Added PIC microcontroller dump to m5gstriks (not properly hooked up). [Caps0ff, jordigahan, ClawGrip]
- rbisland.cpp: Dumped the Rainbow Islands - Extra Version C-chip data EPROM. [Caps0ff, Kevin Eshbach]
- Added dump and skeleton device for Philips CDD2000 CD-R. [Cyberia/2 Filebase]
- spectrum_cass.xml: Documented some hacks that are actually engine re-implementations. [David Haywood]
- sorcerer_cart.xml: Added developer for ssbasic. [exidyboy]
- cd32.xml: Added additional information. [FakeShemp]
- gba.xml: Added cartridge information from No-Intro. [FakeShemp]
- cps1.cpp: Re-dumped sf2rk. [hammy, Clawgrip]
- cps1.cpp: Dumped full ROM set for sf2m6. [hammy, The Dumping Union]
- zr107, gticlub, nwk-tr, hornet: Changed default DIP switch settings and changed input descriptions. [Hydreigon]
- Added dump and skeleton device for Caravalle CD-R N820s. [I-Shou University File Server]
- spectrum_cass.xml: Added proper metadata for MicroHobby stuff. [ICEknight]
- bfm_ad5.cpp, bfm_sc5.cpp: Dumped PLDs from the Bellfruit Scorpion Five main PCB and ISS Adder 5 Video Card. [jordigahan, ClawGrip]
- hiscore.dat: Updated for latest changes in MAME. [Leezer]
- model2.cpp: Dumped correct sound ROMs for Sega Rally DX sets. [Mattia Negri]
- system1.cpp: Re-dumped Choplifter microcontroller, allowing ROM patches to be removed. [Porchy]
- at.cpp: Added additional RAM and BIOS options, and updated some notes and metadata. [rfka01]
- wyvernf0.cpp: Dumped and hooked up 68705 microcontroller. [Sean Riddle, jordigahan, ClawGrip, David Haywood]
- cps1.cpp: Dumped CDT 21 ROM for dinoa. [SHVB]
- socrates.cpp: Verified that French system and cartridge ROMs match existing dumps. [TeamEurope]
- konmedal.cpp: Dumped color PROMs for Fuusen Pentai. [TeamEurope, SpinalFeyd]
- spectrum_cass.xml: Added thousands of tape images. [TZX Vault, SPA2, Steve Brown, Andrew Barker, Paul Hurd, Tony Barnett, Claus Jahn, Donald Graham, Guy Bearman, Jose Luis Soler, Krasimir Hristov, Andrew Blood, Dave Stevens, John Wilson, Edwina Brown, Walter Pooley, Tomaz Kac, Martijn van der Heide, Ramsoft, Dunny, Woody, Mikie]
2019 Report - 89 games down!
Despite the solid number, this was a bit of a mixed year. Free/nominal fees for subscription services meant I spent a fair bit of time on games which were not on my backlog (albeit most were on my wishlist, so I can treat them as a preemptive elimination!). I also had a few timesinks which I regularly went back to as I found many new games to be unsatisfying.
|The Lion's Song||4|
|AER Memories of Old||3|
|Hitman - The Complete First Season||12|
|Grim Fandango Remastered||6|
|The Deadly Tower of Monsters||5|
|Rock of Ages 2||5|
|Orwell: Ignorance is Strength||3|
|Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure||10|
|Mutant Year Zero||13|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GoTY||85|
|SteamWorld Dig 2||6|
|Batman: Arkham Knight||30|
|West of Loathing||~15|
|The Flame in the Flood||7|
|South Park: The Fractured But Whole + DLC||??|
|Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice||8|
|Yoku's Island Express||6|
|The Darkside Detective||4|
|Tales of Berseria||47|
|The Outer Worlds||21|
|Agents of Mayhem: Day One Edition||26|
|PixelJunk Nom Nom Galaxy||4|
|Shantae and the Pirate's Curse||4|
|Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition||5|
|Sid Meier's Civilization VI||31|
|Porno Studio Tycoon||3|
|Tom Clancy's The Division||21|
|Kingdom: New Lands Royal Edition||4|
|Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition||9|
|Seven: The Days Long Gone||7|
|Age of Wonders 3||12|
|Out of the Park Baseball 19||30|
|Niche: A Genetics Survival Game||3|
|Endless Space 2 - Digital Deluxe Edition||41|
|State of Decay 2||~5|
|The Banner Saga 3||~2|
|Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf||8|
|Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2||9|
|The Painscreek Killings||2|
|12 Labours of Hercules V: Kids of Hellas||3|
|Space Hulk Ascension||3|
|Super Daryl Deluxe||8|
|Think of the Children||2|
|Legend of Grimrock 2||4|
|Out of the Park Baseball 20||1|
|Iratus: Lord of the Dead||9|
|Into The Breach||5|
|There Came an Echo||1.3|
|World of Mixed Martial Arts 5||~120|
|Star Trek Timelines||~180|
|Football Manager Touch 2019||~80|
Favourite games of the year1) Rakuen
2) Finding Paradise
3) Monster Prom
4) Witcher 3 GotY
5) Yakuza 0
Most disappointing games of the year1) The Outer Worlds
2) State of Decay 2
3) Warhammer 40,000 – Space Wolf
4) Purrfect Date
5) Tom Clancy’s The Division
Thoughts on each gameThe Lion’s Song
Quite an interesting little game. It manages to link stories about music, painting, mathematics and war in a clever and engrossing way. The choices are genuinely impactful and make for tough decisions at times.
AER: Memories of Old
A short game, but quite relaxing and pretty – especially in the flight sections. I had no interest in the story, but the relatively gentle puzzles and enjoyable flights made it worthwhile.
Much like Mafia III, this is a 10-hour game elongated into a 30+ hour game by copy-pasting tasks. While in theory most tasks are optional, the slow progress and gating of upgrades essentially requires completion of much of them. This becomes a grind, and the gameplay isn’t quite enough to keep it interesting.
A mediocre story and a mediocre shooter, yet somehow more than the sum of its parts. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the days of FMV integration in games, but this wound up being quite entertaining.
Hitman – season 1
My first and only other Hitman game is Absolution, which apparently was a departure for the series. That leaves me in the position of finding this return to normality for the series as rather jarring. I prefer the linear and tighter nature of Absolution – since I don’t care enough to go back and complete them in different ways, it felt like a bit of a thin and shallow experience with a threadbare story.
Grim Fandango Remastered
I’m dreadful at P&C puzzle games, and quickly realised I wasn’t going to get far without a guide. As such, I cheated my way through most of it and just played it for the writing. Thankfully, the writing is so good that it was still fun. I wasn’t keen on Full Throttle, which I played last year, but this was amusing throughout.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters
A fun concept – a B-movie spoof – combined with surprisingly forgiving platforming mechanics. I’m not a fan of platformers generally, but the frustration-alleviating features and general sense of humour in the game made for a good experience.
Solid roguelike tactical combat, marred by some sloppy writing [I don’t think English is the first language of the writers, but at least a spell-check would have helped], a wonky interface [pertinent information like resistances is obscured] and a strangely harsh unlock system. Not a bad game by any means, but could have been better with a bit more care.
Rock of Ages 2
Bizarre concept, even more bizarre writing, but entertainingly so. It’s surprisingly good-looking and quite fun, but five hours was quite enough for me.
I haven’t played a Battlefield game since Vietnam, so this took a bit of adjusting. The campaign is very well presented and offers a nice bit of variety, but it’s over so fast. I had no interest in multiplayer, so this made for a brief, if fun, experience.
A very brief visual novel, but at least it had distinct story paths. The writing was decent, if a bit awkward. My main gripe was that you had to individually click through each line on subsequent playthroughs, which is something many visual novels these days manage to avoid.
A rather strange dodgeball game. I didn’t find the strangeness nearly as amusing as Rock of Ages 2, but it was a moderately entertaining experience with a bit of variety through the different settings and objectives.
I’m a bit mixed on this. On one hand, it had a surprising amount of content and complexity to it. On the other, it drastically inflated the complexity by veiling basic gameplay aspects. That could mean a lot of wasted time – or worse, inadvertently wrecking a multi-hour playthrough - because it wasn’t clear what you should be doing next. Walkthroughs and guides were essential. While there’s merit to a game which rewards experimentation and discovery of mechanics, there is a point at which it’s just too obtuse, and at times the game did go a bit too far in that respect.
A quite clever blend of roguelike and FPS. I’m not much of a fan of the latter, but the gameplay was fun and the roguelike elements softened the blow of failure.
I disliked Pillars of Eternity and went into this with some trepidation. Fortunately, it was a more enjoyable and accessible experience. Where Pillars just threw a mindnumbing amount of lore at me, this offered a relatively comprehensible story doled out in appropriate chunks. While it did have some of Pillars’ mechanical issues, like poor pathfinding in combat, they did not seem nearly as bad (perhaps due to the smaller scale of battles). The base management stuff seemed tacked on, confusing and wholly unnecessary. It was far from my favourite RPG, but solid enough – and didn’t overstay its welcome.
Orwell: Ignorance is Strength
I enjoyed the first Orwell game and initially found this a similarly good experience. The few changes were worthwhile ones, and the story seemed to be building up well. Then it suddenly ended. Surely I done something wrong and met an early endgame? Nope, that was it – a mere few hours of gameplay, with an ending so abrupt that I had no idea it was one until the credits rolled. There are different endings, requiring additional playthroughs, but after that disappointment I wasn’t interested in going back to it.
Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure
This was my first game in the series, and I found it enjoyable. I only had to cheat a few times (which is remarkably good by my standards!) and the cheesiness of it was all rather endearing. The sequel is now on my wishlist (though it seems to be a fair way off).
A decent puzzle/strategy game, which quickly escalates from rather placid to chaotic. The simple concept still requires a fair bit of thought to succeed, and while I bumbled through somewhat, it was fun.
Beautiful. One of my favourite games, evoking the spirit of To the Moon by dealing with weighty topics in a whimsical manner. Wonderful soundtrack and great design.
I enjoyed this more than I’d expected. It’s all a bit messy, as one would expect from a heavily physics-based game, and almost throws in too many variations, but it is fairly satisfying. In some levels it’s all too easy to get a platinum medal through sheer luck, but in other levels it takes a fair bit of skill and thought to get a good score, which is rather more satisfying.
Mutant Year Zero
This was frustrating. It has the ingredients for a solid game – great presentation, imaginative world, decent writing and voice acting and the core of a solid tactics game. The problem is that it is structured essentially like a puzzle game. The odds are so intensely stacked against you in a group battle that you must pick off enemies one by one. This makes for a slow and tedious process, especially when combined with the impact of RNG and the unsatisfying ending.
I felt a little let down by this. Presentation was good, story was fine, but the powers were mostly unengaging and the combat was frustrating. The combat issues were partly my fault in that I tried a non-lethal run, but while there were a few more non-lethal options, I would have loved an option to just punch someone in the face rather than having to stand around waiting to parry in order to launch a non-lethal attack.
This had a lot to live up to – To the Moon and A Bird Story are among my favourite games – but once again Kan Gao delivered. Touching, funny, surprising and engrossing.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – GotY Edition
I went into this with a bit of trepidation, having strongly disliked the first two games in the series. While I am a big fan of the books, the gameplay never clicked with me. This was an improvement to some degree, but I still found the combat in particular frustrating and relatively shallow. I wound up just playing it as a story, and it delivered in that respect – even many of the side quests were more memorable than the main storylines of a lot of other RPGs I’ve played. While I certainly won’t be joining the “Praise Geraldo” crew, I at least had a better experience than I did with the other games in the series.
SteamWorld Dig 2
I loved the first game. This was certainly enjoyable but did not reach quite the same heights; perhaps through lack of ambition if nothing else. Solid enough, but lacking the impact of its predecessor.
Batman: Arkham Knight
This felt like the weakest of the three main Arkham games (I didn’t like Origins much at all, but that is somewhat separate). The combat, setting and presentation were all as interesting as ever, and the story got genuinely interesting towards the end, but the damned car seemed to drag down everything it was involved in. From puzzles to battles, it always felt a bit wonky to me – a particularly sharp contrast to the famously smooth and refined movement and combat the series is known for. Unlike Asylum and City, I didn’t complete the Riddler challenges. This was primarily due to the car, which I was thoroughly sick of by the end. Perhaps I was rendered a bit grumpier than usual by that, but I also found the Rocksteady tendency to lead the player by the nose at some points, and then leave things utterly oblique at other times, to be particularly grating.
West of Loathing
Genuinely funny at times, and I loved the art style, but it did drag on a little.
The Flame in the Flood
Quite an atmospheric and appealing game. The presentation is gorgeous, albeit marred by irritating pop-in even on a GTX 1080. The gameplay is pretty easy to pick up, and while it can be frustrating in the way that a survival game with randomisation inevitably can be (and why the hell can’t I boil water to remove the bugs?!), the checkpoint system is generous enough to ameliorate this.
I am not usually one for VNs, but this is great. Entertaining characters, often hilarious (and oh so wrong) writing and easy enough to play through in 15 minutes (it says the short game is 30 minutes, but it doesn't take me anywhere near that). There is plenty of content, some of which is unlockable, meaning there is substantial replayability.
The first in the series for me, and quite enjoyable. It was funny at times, though the main plot did cause me to drift off towards the end – I wound up doing crosswords during some of the interminable cutscenes. The combat got a bit repetitive, but it was easy enough to get the hang of. I didn’t enjoy it enough to get stuck into the numerous side activities, but the main game was decent enough.
This is a curious game. It is brief (barely an hour long) and linear. The puzzles are simple. Much of the dialogue is sung, for no apparent reason - and not particularly well. The art style has been described as "claymation noire"; there's little er..."mation", and it all looks a bit muddy. Writing is fine. I chuckled at a few bits, but it's hardly memorable.For all that, I quite liked it. It's original and there's heart to it. In a sea of lazy asset flips, generic AAA games with no respect for your time and visionless projects, here's an example of people actually daring to have a go with a unique vision.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Not nearly as well-written as its predecessor, but with significantly better combat. The badge progression system was clumsy, and at one point I was left with a stack of grinding to do. Generally a solid experience, though.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Wonderful presentation, with some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in games. The gameplay itself was decent. Combat was a little too simple, and puzzles could be frustrating at times, but it’s really all about the experience.
I feel a little silly having spent a lot of money on a gaming rig when I use it to play stuff that looks like something out of the early ‘90s. Nonetheless, this was good fun – amusing story, addictive gameplay and a surprising amount of content.
Yoku’s Island Express
Cutely presented and an interesting concept. It can be infuriating at times, requiring a degree of precision which is perhaps best not associated with pinball, and getting around can be a bit confusing. Overall, though, it’s quite fun.
The Darkside Detective
A pretty simple point & click adventure (aside from one strangely hard instalment), broken into small episodes to make it easy to get through a portion at a time. Nothing exceptional, but a decent way to spend a few hours.
Tales of Berseria
A surprisingly engrossing tale. It's frequently funny and features likeable characters. The voice acting is excellent - it's a tour de force for Cristina Valenzuela in particular.
That helps mitigate a convoluted combat system. It was still throwing tutorials at me after 15 hours; I wound up ignoring them and button mashing, which seemed to work fine on Normal difficulty anyway.
Performance is rock solid. Smooth FPS, fast loading and limited pop-in.
I have never played a Tales game before, and may not play another one, but it doesn't take a love for the series to enjoy this game. Perhaps the group best warned to stay away are achievement hunters - some of them seem to take a heck of a lot of work.
The Outer Worlds
Disappointing. The simplistic combat not only makes that portion of the game dull, but also weakens the RPG aspects since you can pour all your upgrade points into speech skills, making those challenges a breeze. The writing is one-note (everyone is quirky, snarky or both), the choices are binary and rarely provoke thought (indeed, the hardest choice was one of the very first) and the characters aren't particularly interesting - nor are they given much chance to be in their shallow quests. It also performed poorly on a decent rig - though that's to be expected from Obsidian.
Agents of Mayhem
It's...not that bad. Sure, it's flawed - repetitive quests, buggy at times and nowhere near the level of Saints Row's writing - but it has an enjoyably distinct set of characters (sadly enough, the character missions were more interesting than those of Outer Worlds) and the combat is enjoyably free-flowing.
PixelJunk Nom Nom Galaxy
I liked the idea of discovering ingredients and turning them into various products, but it quickly became centred around ever more complex process designs which were of no interest to me.
A fun runner; gorgeously presented. I sucked at it though!
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Presented in an enjoyably light-hearted manner, but it felt like it was dragging on even after four hours.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition
I was quite excited to play this, since it featured three of my favourite actors – Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle and Jason Isaacs. That’s the only reason I managed to last five hours. I hated pretty much everything about it; the shoddy fixed camera, the tedious fighting, the cringeworthy writing… The sad thing is that I bought another two games in the series.
A solid little survival management game. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Zafehouse Diaries or Dead State, mainly because the RNG was a bit too impactful. It’s far too common for a game to simply be unwinnable due to a lack of rain and/or the distribution of resources in nearby locations. When things are fairer (or the difficulty is lowered) it becomes quite a grind – with no real winning condition and little in the way of variety (there are a few shallow quests of minimal value or interest) tedium ensues.
Quite liked the new mechanics and enjoyed playing as Australia (though Walzing Matilda is so distinctive that it gets a bit grating). Having spent many hours in its predecessors though, there was nothing particularly groundbreaking which compelled me to play more than a few games.
Porno Studio Tycoon
I’ll give pretty much any management game a go! Unfortunately, things weren’t particularly well explained and while there seemed to be a bit of depth, a lot of it was blocked off (to add to the confusion, the tutorial focused on mechanics which were blocked off for much of the early game).
I normally like tactical games, but this was just too unforgiving and there was no ability to grind to reduce the difficulty.
It’s basically Bubble Bobble, which is fine. It’s quite nicely presented. The problem is that each level is meant to be completed in a certain number of moves, but since the bubble colours are randomly generated, it’s mostly down to luck – you might be able to wipe out half the bubbles on your first move, or might struggle to get any matches at all.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
I got fairly close to the end of this game but was just so fed up with it that I couldn’t push myself to get through it. The story was forgettable, the shooting mechanics were mediocre, all the extraneous gameplay elements were just an annoyance and I felt the game was balanced against me as a solo player (only twice did I find a co-op partner, and both of them screamed in Korean throughout). It looked impressive, at least.
Kingdom: New Lands Edition
I really thought I’d like this game, and had it on my wishlist from release. I love management games, and have no issue with passive management. It also looked gorgeous; this is one of the best-looking pixel-art games I’ve played. Unfortunately, it did not click at all. The AI was not bright, which is inevitably a source of a lot of frustration in a passive management game. Further, the gameplay was just dull. I felt like I was running back and forth endlessly for little reward – pretty though it may have been, I found myself wishing for a button to speed up time. The positive reviews suggest it is a relaxing and chill game – I just found myself frustrated with the AI and bored by the gameplay.
Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition
For some reason I thought this was more of a starbase management sim rather than a tactical space battle sim. The starbase elements are there, but they are pretty thin. Most of the game is about the tactical space battles, which were interesting and varied enough early on, but after nine hours and no end in sight I was sick of them.
I haven’t played a FIFA game since ’98, so it was interesting to give this a go. The story mode was okay – quite well presented, but the player rating system was infuriating at times (the out-of-position penalties in particular). I did find that there was a huge gap in the difficulty settings – one was ludicrously easy (insultingly so; the AI kept missing from close range), but the next was a bit too steep for someone essentially new to the series. An option between the two would have been nice, or at least an easier difficulty which at least tried to mask how easy it was making things! I also tried management mode, but having been used to Football Manager’s detail I was not able to get into this.
Seven: The Days Long Gone
This was a frustrating experience. I really liked the concept of an isometric thief RPG, and did my best to give it a fair chance. It had its positive aspects; freedom of movement, decent voice acting and reasonable graphics. However, the freedom of movement also worked against it; confrontations with enemies often spiralled into circular chases suited to Benny Hill music and I lost count of the number of times I plunged to an untimely death through a misstep. Moreover, it didn’t really work to its premise. The game started with a tutorial centred around a stealthy heist, which seemed to be the central premise of the game. The next time I encountered a situation close to that was six hours later.
Age of Wonders 3
I loved Shadow Magic many years ago but struggled to get into this. Maps seemed to take an inordinately long time to the point that armies were monstrously large and there was no research left. Maybe I was too defensive, but the AI was very passive.
A decent little puzzle game with minimal assets.
Out of the Park Baseball 19
A slight improvement on its predecessor. The main addition was an online card-game mode, but I’m not sure that works well in a management game. My squad was rapidly full of high-end talent and I felt no real connection to the team.
Niche: A Genetics Survival Game
Nice concept, but a rather wobbly execution. The genetics aspect tended to be lost due to the fast paced and tough nature of the game; the focus was so much on just keeping any creature alive that genetics didn’t come into my thinking. Apparently the best strategy is to sit on the first island for ages and build up a tribe, but the tutorial didn’t make that clear at all.
A grindy and buggy mobile game.
Endless Space 2 – Digital Deluxe Edition
I thought I was falling out of love with the space 4X genre, having been very disappointed with the last few I placed – particularly Stellaris – but this hit the mark. The alien races are distinct, making for significantly different gameplay. The gameplay itself is always interesting; unlike Stellaris, it doesn’t hit a dead patch mid-game. I found the combat a little frustrating – seemingly even contests would often have completely one-sided results for no apparent reason – but aside from that it was a solid game.
An enjoyable little rogue-lite deck builder. While I normally prefer a bit more flexibility in deck building, tying cards to characters meant that each one had a distinctive feel which gave the game plenty of replayability.
This sounded interesting in concept, but was way too oblique for me.
State of Decay 2
This seemed like the perfect game for me – I love survival management and settlement building. Unfortunately, it wound up feeling rather like a shallow MMO – trite dialogue, grindy tasks and no real sense of purpose or direction. I just found myself engaging in long, dull runs between locations, engaging in the same shoddy combat over and over again.
The Banner Saga 3
I played the first two games in the series to completion and seem to recall enjoying them, but something about this did not click at all. I had zero interest in the story – the time between instalments has dulled my memory of it – and the gameplay just felt so flat. I’m not really sure what changed between playing the last two games and now, but I had no motivation to keep playing.
A reasonably enjoyable but forgettable board game.
Warhammer 40,000 – Space Wolf
This is a game plagued by odd design choices. It has turn-based combat (which I love), but it is deprived of so much of its strategy by the way it is designed. Enemies appear at arbitrary moments from arbitrary locations (including amid your troops) without warning or logic, meaning that success requires either a degree of fortune or grinding missions to know when and where enemies will appear. Perhaps this is to compensate for the weak AI, which is prone to boneheaded acts, but it just makes things irritating and dull.
It also has a card collecting and deck building mechanic (again, which I love). The distribution of cards, however, is bizarre – completing tasks in missions (which can take 30+ minutes each) will give a couple of low-level cards. In contrast, activating one of numerous codes from the forums provides a pile of high-level cards. “Legendary” cards are so readily available in this form that a deck can be filled with them with a few minutes’ effort. There is a clumsy system for upgrading each card, none of which is explained in the shallow tutorial.
There is also an upgrade path for your squadmates – again poorly explained – which is reliant on grinding missions. They don't use your custom decks, so while you're flooded with Elite and Legendary cards for the leader, you have to grind just to eke out a few more Uncommons for the rest of your squad.
There's really nothing else to recommend the game. Graphics and sound are serviceable and the story is barely there. It just feels like yet another Warhammer game pushed out for the sake of it.
Warhammer 40,000 – Dawn of War II
Another disappointing Warhammer game.
Again this had things I liked – a strategic layer with character progression, equippable loot, choice of missions and ebb and flow of the wider battle. However, I found this constrained by the limits placed on that strategy, with constant time pressure funnelling me into the key missions . I’m not sure how much that time pressure would have impacted on the outcome – would doing side missions result in overall failure – as it was never properly explained.
Moreover, I found the RTS gameplay really quite dull and repetitive, such that I didn’t feel compelled to continue.
Incredibly dumb – horrible dialogue, clumsy gameplay (trying to aim guns while riding was a nightmare) and buggy (the one round which I won was as a result of a bug which caused me to be invincible for most of it), but it did have some entertainment value.
Having spent 125 hours in Recettear, it's fair to say I am very much open to the burgeoning shopkeeper-by-day/dungeon-crawler-by-night genre. Unfortunately, this fell flat. Even after a relatively short period it became a dull grind.
Much of that is due to a distinct lack of charm; it looks nice in screenshots, but lacks any real character or presence in game. The absence of any decent writing is another problem; what there was of the story didn't interest me in the slightest. In contrast to a game like Recettear, filled with charm and heart, this was utterly bland. Add in the clumsy storage system, shallow shopkeeping, sluggish combat and irritatingly repetitive music, and seven hours was more than enough for me.
Was rather surprised to dislike this. I found myself getting lost far too easily, which given that it was a very linear game meant a lot of frustration. The visual presentation was grating and confusing.
Moderately interesting hacking game, but too shallow, linear and not particularly well written.
Took a while for this to click, but once it did it was decent enough. I could have spent many hours playing this in the ‘90s, but it didn’t have enough of interest for me to do so now.
12 Labours of Hercules V: Kids of Hellas
Cute enough, I suppose, but quickly became repetitive.
A music-based shooter with poorly explained shooter mechanics and music which was very much not to my taste. One track really stood out as effectively blending the music and game mechanics, but that should have been the standard rather than the exception.
This game is presented as a cutesy, tongue-in-cheek game and for the most part it pulls that off pretty well. If that was the sum of it, I'd be reasonably satisfied. Instead, there is a dark, unpleasant story underneath, with numerous descriptions of animal abuse.
It's utterly jarring - a game which is presented as being for cat lovers (not that kind of lover), yet featuring descriptions of them being victims of torture, experimentation and killing.
The closest thing to a warning on the store page is a reference to "black humour", which doesn't cover it in my view. There is no humour in these scenes, so it’s not “black humour”. I don’t know what it is, other than a simply bizarre choice. Even putting aside the lack of warning, it's an unpleasant and jarring experience. I'm at a loss as to what on earth the devs were thinking.
The writing is otherwise reasonably good. The structure of the game, however, is poor. It requires multiple playthroughs to get a proper ending, and there is no way to quickly skip the text. Prepare for RSI, clicking through page after page of dialogue, if you ever want to get to the ending.
Suffice to say, going through this once is quite enough for me.
Space Hulk Ascension
I normally love turn-based combat, especially with RPG progression, but this was just dull and frustrating. Not having a good year with Warhammer games.
Super Daryl Deluxe
All very QUIRKY, and constantly at pains to remind you of how QUIRKY it is, without ever being particularly amusing. The art style is at least eyecatching, and some of the music is decent, but the writing didn’t grab me at all. The combat was a grindy battle of attrition – the only thing worse than “kill x monster” quests are “collect x items which randomly drop from only a small percentage of monsters after you kill them” quests. Add in the ever-frustrating boss fights where you had to win through repeating an unintuitive set of actions several times, and I didn’t feel like going much further.
Think of the Children
Nice idea, and it’s good to play a locally-made game, but it’s dreadfully designed for a single player. Although it can have up to three co-op partners, it doesn’t adjust the difficulty in the slightest to cater for a solo player rendering it near-impossible.
Legend of Grimrock 2
Obtuse puzzles, clumsy combat and bland design made this quickly unappealing.
I mainly just played for the story mode, which was fine. Didn't notice much of a difference from 18.
Out of the Park Baseball 20
No discernible improvement upon its predecessor.
Some nice ideas, but thoroughly dull. In six hours I was attacked three times by bandits and spent the rest of the time painstakingly building farms.
Iratus: Lord of the Dead
An enjoyable little strategy game. I will probably go back to it since it's in early access and is constantly being rebalanced.
Into the Breach
Moderately interesting strategy, but not enough to keep me coming back.
There Came An Echo
Iridium's previous game, Before the Echo (aka Sequence) was a flawed but enjoyable hidden gem.
There Came an Echo has a similar level of charm, but two fundamental problems.
The first is that it was simply unplayable on my PC. A black screen after loading; no way past it. Apparently it was due to an incompatibility with my microphone which is rather problematic when I don't HAVE a microphone.
The second is that (having used my partner's computer to run it) ultimately it's a very raw proof of concept. Like its predecessor it has charm in the voice acting and writing, but unlike its predecessor it is just not a lot of fun to play. Put aside the gimmick of giving voice commands and you're left with a short, clumsy, shallow and frustrating experience.
World of Mixed Martial Arts 5
As usual for the series (indeed, the dev in general), a stack of good ideas marred by fundamental flaws. Good as a hypnotic experience between other games.
Star Trek Timelines
I tried this briefly a few years ago and didn't get into it, but I certainly did this year. It's all pretty shallow, but as a fan-friendly timewaster it's decent enough.
Football Manager Touch 2019
Endlessly infuriating, and a bit buggy, but always manages to draw me back in.