The New Classics #7: Sonic Mania Plus


The Backstory: We’re dealing with the latest 2D, side-scrolling Sonic instalment; a game that was nearly single-handedly developed by Sonic fan game programmer Christian Whitehead, and reaped the most raving reviews since the Megadrive entries. I think I played it at some point in late 2017 or 2018; however, I have nearly no memories of it. I might not have been in a Sonic mood at the time; a second try was in order, just to make sure I wasn’t missing on a potential New Classic.



The Game: I guess you cannot go wrong with Green Hill and Chemical Plant as openers; whether you can impress or surprise is another matter entirely. I’ll admit it: I was a tad disappointed. Sure, these two zones sport new gimmicks; however, they look and feel way too much like their original versions which hold no secret for me whatsoever. But then came Studiopolis, and my interest was piqued. Then Flying Battery, one of my favourite Sonic zones ever, with a ton of delicious new gimmicks; by the time the superb Press Garden rolled in, I was the game’s b*tch. I confess: I cleared the entirety of SMP in two settings, over the course of a single day. And I might have played a bit more than two hours. 



This is probably the first Sonic game ever in which I love every single zone. Even Oil Ocean, which I loathed in Sonic 2, was a complete delight! Granted, I made the game conveniently easier by wisely picking up Tails; but I don’t think another character would have drastically changed my feelings about SMP. Playing with Sonic wouldn’t have made the mix of old and new zone gimmicks less stellar, or the physics less fantastic; and playing with Knuckles wouldn’t have made the boss battles less inventive and thrilling, or the atmosphere less captivating. Cherry on the cake, the new zones are quite complex while remaining perfectly navigable; I always instinctively knew where to go, and I didn’t get lost a single time. And the gimmicks… Look, SMP sports some of the best gimmicks in the entire series. I could write a whole raving post about these gimmicks; that’s how good and abundant they are.



The Verdict: Let’s end the suspense right away: I fell hard for SMP. I’ve not felt that way about a Sonic game since Sonic 3&Knuckles in the mid-90s; even the Rush games, which I love to pieces, didn’t make me feel that mix of wonderment, delight and giddiness. The whole game had me beaming and enjoying myself; without question, Sonic Mania Plus is a New Classic of mine. Thanks a million, Mr. Whitehead!



The New Classics #6: Super Neptunia RPG



The Backstory: As a raving Hyperdimension Neptunia fan, I obviously had to get my paws on that 2.5D spinoff despite its ridiculously uninspired title. Not only does said title sound like the name of a vanilla SNES game, but it’s also quite misleading. B*tch, all canon HN games are RPGs; if you wanna point out what makes SNRPG different from the rest of the crew, Neptunia Sidescrolling Galore or Super Neptunia Platformer would have been better suited. 



The Game: Indeed, the Platforming is strong with this one. I have nothing against some platform action in my RPG, as my love for Astria Ascending proves; unfortunately, SNRPG’s brand of platforming is far from being as stellar and delicious as AA’s one. The physics are wobbly at best and unreliable at worst and when I say ‘worst’, I mean jumping. It’s unprecise as heck, with jumps being either too short or too long. Not only that, but platforms have some slipperiness around the edges that makes jumping even less reliable. I cannot count the number of times I fell from a platform because I landed too far on it and slipped on the other side, or because I tried to run and jump at the very edge and slipped. 



Platforming is all nice and well (or not so much in that case), but how does the RPG part fare? Well, let’s say it’s complicated. Artisan Studios wanted to inject some exploration by allowing players to progress left and right, but also up and down between side-scrolling sections think Stage 1 of Platoon on the NES. Alas, that noble intent backfires on the player; with sections being very samey and dungeon maps very unprecise, it’s all to easy to get confused and lost. Mind you, the side-scrolling sections are obviously not meant to be labyrinthine; they just end up feeling that way, because of poor level design. 



Combat could have been the game’s saving grace and let’s be honest, it was at first. Hitting the A, B, X or Y buttons at precise times to trigger one of the four party members’ regular attack was something I had never encountered before; and it felt both nicely simple and pleasantly hypnotic. Flashier skills and better attacks were obviously on the way, and I expected a nice roll with that fighting system; however, my enthusiasm died on the spot when the game forced me to use break attacks to get rid of an HP bag boss. Break attacks are triggered through the Break meter, which has to be filled by using regular attacks; and it takes forever to fill it. It took me fifteen friggin’ minutes to clear that fight; fifteen minutes of hitting a foe that healed every turn to fill my Break meter, being hit by attacks that dealt 3-4 points of damage, healing when my HP got too low, and finally releasing a Break Attack after what felt like a million hits. Zero challenge, total boredom. This is the complete antithesis of canon HN combat — all flashy skills, endless combos and fast-paced battles.  



The Verdict: We all know where this is headed, dear fellow gamers: Super Neptunia RPG is by no means a New Classic of mine. It lacks everything I love in canon HN entries; and the things it brings are definitely not to my liking. Next please! 



Gaming, Summer Season 2022


Hullo, dear fellow gamers! Hope you’re doing just fine, and enjoying life as much as I do. Following my last post, I finally had an epiphany and figured out the miracle way to manage my time and get things done: to use a planner and write things down at set dates. You do that, and voilĂ ! Things happen just as planned! Well, that was easy enough, ain’t it? Taking the piss out of myself aside, this is the best and probably only way I can commit to a course of action. And so, here are my Summer 2022 Gaming Plans for your enjoyment — and mine! 





      Start publishing some New Classics posts. I have roughly 40 of them lined up, and it’s time to deliver them to the world! I'm gonna roll with a pace of 2-3 posts a week, and we'll see how things evolve from there.


      Put together some shared features with fellow bloggers, starting with my dear Yvonne ^^


      Answer comments! Gosh, I’m so late it’s not even funny :/


      Fix errors in my World End Syndrom walkthrough — and replay the game while I’m at it. If there ever was a VN that was meant to be read in the summer, it’s definitely WES!





      Play Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I know, I know; how can I ever think of playing that game after my tumultous love/hate relationship with XC2? The thing is, I love the Xenoblade combat and atmosphere. What I’m gonna do is play XC3 in easy mode — and play it a single time. No perennity or replaying pretence here; this is the type of sprawling game that is meant to be played once (and for all), and that’s exactly how I’m gonna play it.


      Tackle Pokemon X&Y solo runs starring Clauncher and Carbink. I’ve been itching to run with these two for years, and I’m gonna get down to it.




      Start getting rid of the games that didn’t get a spot in my precious collection. The pawn shop is the easy way out; but I’m also seriously thinking of giving away the best ones through that blog. I’ll see how I proceed when September comes; in the meantime, dear fellow gamers, don’t hesitate to put an option on any game you’d like to get! ^^


      Take the first steps to make That Extra Level! its own website. I mean it. FOR REAL.

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll make sure all of this is done and I’ll keep making such quarter plans from now on. It’s both relaxing and stimulating — and it gets things done! I’ll see you soon with some much-deserved gaming goodness, dear fellow gamers; keep doing your thing and take care! ^^