Play This Set

Play This Set is a showcase for our passionate community members to write about the games and achievement sets they love. Whether you’re an achievement developer looking to promote your work or a player wanting to spread the word about your favorite hidden gem, we’re always looking for new Play This Set submissions. If interested, submit your write-up as a private message to RANews RANews.

Stuntman: Ignition (PlayStation 2)

Game Console Genre
Stuntman: Ignition Stuntman: Ignition PlayStation 2 Driving, Mission-based

This was a childhood favorite of mine that I feel doesn’t get talked about that often, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it as a part of the PS2 rollout. In Stuntman Ignition, you take the role of a stunt driver performing in various movies by going through Gymkhana-style obstacle courses. It’s a cool concept, and the game pulls it off well (even if any realism the first game had is gone here). Some of these scenes can be very difficult on a first playthrough - Strike Force Omega and Never Kill Me Again have some especially annoying ones - but learning the routes for getting a perfect rating on every scene is satisfying to pull off. There’s also a puzzle mode via the Constructor Challenges if you want a break from completing the main game. There are some unfortunate visual bugs with PCSX2, but if you can look past that I recommend giving Stuntman Ignition a try.

Sonic R (Saturn)

Game Console Genre
Sonic R Sonic R Saturn Racing

Some games are revered to high heaven, receiving tons of praise from all gamers. Some games are “diamonds in the rough”, flawed but enjoyable, and usually enjoy cult followings. Some games are so terrible they are seen as nothing more than total wastes of time, lost and forgotten. And some games…are Sonic R.

What to say about Sonic R. Sonic R is a mess, but it’s a mess that I love. As a child, a game I frequently played on the GameCube was Sonic Gems Collection, and Sonic R was the third game down on that list. And I could not get enough of it. Is it small, downright pitiful, in its content? Yes. Is the handling slicker than an oiled pig on roller skates sliding down Mt. Everest? Sometimes. Is the soundtrack truly bizarre? Definitely. But it is incredibly unique. I think we need more on-foot racers. The unparalleled freedom you get from being able to head anywhere you want without being restricted by a vehicle and the platforming elements inherent to the subgenre allow for much more exciting gameplay and new possibilities in course design.

But what about the set? I think RA’s Sonic R set is a wonderful example of a mediocre but intensely interesting and potential filled idea, bringing out the best in the worst. Obviously, it has the standards. Win a race as each character, beat each track, get all the Chaos Emeralds and beat the game, collectibles, yadda yadda. But this set is 100% complete, and touches upon even the obscure bits. Reverse, Tag, and Balloon, those weird modes that are easy to overlook? It’s got ‘em, and not only that, you need to win with specific characters, forcing you to learn the quirks of the whole cast. I found shortcuts I never even knew existed in some of these tracks, like Reverse Time Trial Radical City. The times are tight, too, so you have to learn the optimal routes for each track and execute them perfectly.

But you may be thinking “big deal, it’s a racing game. Of course it should have time trials. That’s the standard!” But there’s so much more that shows a lot of thought was put into this. Do you like Amy and think people who are bad at her just don’t get how to play her? The set has you covered, as there are achievements for unlocking each character AS Amy, so you have to learn exactly when to use her boosts and take advantage of her water hovering. Not enough? How about achievements where you have to win races while only in ball form? I didn’t even know you could do that! There’s even an achievement for unlocking all the characters as Egg Robo, who is the most remote character in the entire game! And to top it all off, it has 4 super difficult achievements where you need to 100% the whole track in one go on Hard Mode, forcing you to become amazing at this game. As a kid, I didn’t even know this game had difficulty settings, and oh boy, are they difficult. You essentially need to use every shortcut, master turning tightly, optimize ring pickups, figure out the perfect route to take so you spend no time at all waiting for the emeralds, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll win.

I think the term “master” is thrown around too loosely. Sure, some games are simple and just beating them can be enough. Some games are chill and shouldn’t have stupid hard achievements forced onto them. But when I “master” a game, I really want to throw down with it. I really want to sink my teeth into it and toss it all around the room and make it mine. Sonic R does that so well. I grinded this set out for hours on end, getting incrementally better at each track and inching closer and closer to the finish line until, bloodied, brutalized, and battered, I had won. I did not “complete” the set. I did not “finish” the set. I mastered the set. I am the master. I truly felt like I had triumphed over Robotnik and his stupid Grand Prix.

Sonic R may not be a great game. Heck, maybe it’s not even a good game. But I guarantee that, if you give the set a chance, you will see what it brings to the table, for better or for worse.

Congo’s Caper (SNES)

Game Console Genre
Congo's Caper Congo’s Caper SNES Platforming

It can be easy to get lost in the razzle & dazzle of modern games, especially with the onslaught of shiny new PS2 sets. Elaborate controls, in-depth mechanics, lengthy cutscenes, mind-melting 3D graphics, gripping stories…It never ends.

Enter Congo’s Caper, a game about a monkey/caveman dude. There’s a story of some sort, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. You’ve got a jump button and an attack button, and that’s it. It’s not terribly difficult, long, or even all that memorable (Though there are a couple segments that made me say “that’s pretty rad.”). And despite all this, the game is a breath of fresh air: charming, pleasant, and just plain fun.

If you’ve already played this one, then please consider browsing through the list of Super Nintendo platformers (Or Genesis if you were one of those kids) and picking some middling game with a cool name. Return to the simple joys of life. Return to a primitive era. Return to monkey.

~Hack~ Super Mario Bros. Special: 35th Anniversary Edition (NES)

Game Console Genre
\~Hack~ Super Mario Bros. Special: 35th Anniversary Edition ~Hack~ Super Mario Bros. Special: 35th Anniversary Edition NES 2D Platforming

Let’s start with a bit of background. This creation has roots from the original “Super Mario Bros. Special” game, which was released only on Sharp X1 and PC-8000/8800 computers. But because of the decisions that were made by the “Hudson Soft” team, it turned out to be the worst port of Mario that many have seen. Frantik (author of the hack) has completely recreated all levels, ideas from the original, enemies, and, of course, power-ups. What was previously unplayable (and simply broken) has been transferred to the Mario 1 engine, turning it from a simple hack into a full-fledged and fully playable port (port hack). What was broken now feels like what it should be. The only thing as good as this hack that I’ve played in my 13 years was “Super Mario Crossover v3.0.0”. Master it and enjoy the best version of the game - just try it!

Biomotor Unitron (Neo Geo Pocket)

Game Console Genre
Biomotor Unitron Biomotor Unitron Neo Geo Pocket RPG, Strategy

Make a Mecha Mastery!

Biomotor Unitron is a small scale JRPG that does a good job of showing off what role-playing games could have looked like on the Neo Geo Pocket if there had been more of them. You play as the new operator of a robot suit, the scale of which is not defined, and are tasked with being the mecha arena champion of the game’s one town.

To do this you need to descend into one of four elemental themed dungeons to gather money and resources to improve your mech. The dungeon floor layouts are randomized, though after you run through them a few times you will see that there are only a handful of possible layouts. You fight a variety of creatures in the dungeons that all look nice the first time you see them. After a certain point you may just be fast forwarding to speed through battles to the next chest to get resources to improve your mech. Only the last level in the four dungeons is always the same as it contains an elemental boss in it somewhere as well as chests with the best loot. The difficulty spikes on these dungeons quickly and you need to have a fairly powerful suit to even make it to the bottom, let alone defeat the boss.

If you have any hope of progressing beyond the first rank in the arena, you will need to build your mech with a detailed loadout as leveling up just your pilot’s skill level by killing monsters will not carry the day. The customization is not as in depth as Armored Core or Mechwarrior - it is a handheld game, after all. There is a lot more to consider than your standard RPG. All of your mech’s attacks take a certain amount of power, so you’ll want a powerful core with a good energy reserve. Enemies all have elemental attacks, so you’ll want to pick weapons accordingly and make sure they are strong enough to actually hurt something. The elemental affinity of the suit can also be changed, so it is possible to make your suit very effective for a given dungeon and extremely vulnerable in another. However, to advance in the story you’ll have to climb the arena ladder where your pilot will face off against seemingly randomly constructed mechs, so you’ll need to retool your loadout to be able to deal with anything, otherwise you may end up having a very difficult time as attacks barely scratch some mechs (luckily, your suit has more than one weapon slot, so you are not forced to only have one element for your attacks). None of this requires a lot of brainpower. It is a nice change up from the standard “level your hero/Pokemon up” formula to win found in most RPGs. Granted, if you are having a lot of trouble in this game, another level for your pilot might not hurt.

The most effective strategy involves buying or creating new parts to try out. This is the meat of the set in this game. If you want to master this set, which should take most players less than 15-20 hours, then you will have to buy everything in the shop to try out. Items unlock as you progress in the arena. All of the good weapons need to be made using materials found in the dungeons, or bought for a ton of money. The various townspeople will also have more to say as you progress, each with their own little relationship with you. The bartender gives you weird meals which boost your stats. There is some kid who is your biggest fan, and then someone else who routinely thinks you stink no matter how many enemies you down. An old mech master in the woods will teach you super moves. And there are some more. These provide a nice reason to go forward to see where this all is headed beyond just seeing stat values go up.

Once you understand what is going on, it is not a very difficult game. It is fun to see the variety of weird ways you can make your mech. You can attach wings of several flavors and have arms that are just guns to giant hammers to drills. If there is any difficulty, it is in learning how to maximize your stats and having the right loadout for the challenge at hand. Biomotor Unitron mixes a good balance of role playing with having to learn how to master its various systems to be the best pilot around.

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (PlayStation)

Game Console Genre
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger PlayStation Space Flight Simulation

So StingX2 StingX2, in his role as RA Roulette organizer, had the unbelievable gall to roll a 50-hour Mario Party DS minigame and a high-level Toobin’ achievement I knew I didn’t have the skills to pull off. My policy is to cash in those rerolls ASAP, so I did, and I got pretty lucky: I got a Mother/Earthbound Beginnings achievement I had already earned and could load my old save to obtain again, a weird one from the Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 Subset that required navigating some Japanese menus and mashing X until I won a match, and A Loyal Friend, an achievement that was about two-thirds of the way through the storyline of Wing Commander III. I’ve always meant to play a Wing Commander game and never had, so I figured now was as good a time as any.

The first hour with the game was difficult. There’s no title sequence or main menu - you get dropped into your Carrier-class ship and have to explore, point-n-click style, to even figure out how to save the game. Once you talk to your crewmates and start your first mission, it got even worse; I had no idea how to hail other ships or use my hyperdrive to navigate to distant beacons; hell, even acceleration and braking took me five or ten minutes to figure out. Luckily, the solution was simple: RTFM. The game’s manual solved every issue I had within minutes…Almost. I still have no idea how to launch a decoy, but who needs ‘em when you’re a space ace?

This is a fantastic, thorough set by the great wilhitewarrior wilhitewarrior. The game’s flexible storyline is fully covered, and it’ll take multiple playthroughs to finish up, requiring high levels of skill and personally taking out every named enemy ace in the game. You can run your first playthrough on Rookie difficulty and still earn most of the set, but you’ll need to actually learn how to play the game and use your wingmates in order to beat each campaign on Hard. The cinematic narrative, starring Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell, is pitch-perfect, feeling like a full season of mid-budget ’90s sci-fi, like Babylon 5. You get to choose how Col. Blair responds in conversation, and the decisions you make - and failures you survive - in combat actually have an effect on how things play out. This is a perfect example of the kind of game “they don’t make any more” - one where your reward for space combat is a little bit more mil-sf TV show, and your reward for watching the show is a little bit more tactical space pilot combat sim.

Nobody has managed to master the set yet - you could still top that list. Good luck, pilot.

Nayuta no Kiseki (PlayStation Portable)

Game Console Genre
Nayuta no Kiseki Nayuta no Kiseki PlayStation Portable Action RPG

Having only been released on PSP in Japan, Nayuta no Kiseki is easily overlooked by Action RPG and Falcom fans in the rest of the world. Thankfully, between the numerous fan translations and the fantastic set by WanderingHeiho WanderingHeiho, players can now fully experience this gem. Additionally, since this is a spinoff of the main Kiseki (Trails) series and largely only related by name, it’s easily accessible to those unfamiliar with the other games.

While most of the game time takes place fighting monsters and traversing dangerous landscapes, the story is also very important to this experience. Without revealing much, the game follows the titular Nayuta on his journey to discover what lies beyond the surrounding ocean of his peaceful island from the day a mysterious tower ruins fell from the sky and landed nearby. I wasn’t expecting much out of the storytelling, but definitely found myself invested as events continued to unfold.

For me, the gameplay and combat design is where Nayuta no Kiseki really shines. Nayuta’s home island acts as a hub where he can talk to locals to accept quests, resupply at the shops, or bring your scientific findings to the local museum (in a very similar style to a familiar game about debt and neighbor interactions). Exploration is presented to the player in a level-select style. Each area has a number of levels that a player can enter any time after initially unlocking them, which helps to conveniently retry level challenges or simply grind more EXP or resources.

Combat is fairly simple at its core — Nayuta has access to a standard attack that combos with itself, a dodge roll, a jump, and equippable arts (magic). The game expands upon this in various ways such as adding new abilities at major milestones to help Nayuta in both combat and traversal, expanding Nayuta’s overall combat ability with his Master on the island, and learning new arts from various enemies throughout the stages. All of these mechanics culminate in absolutely fantastic boss encounters at the end of each area. There are bosses in this game that are easily among some of my favorites across Action RPGs in general.

All of this is brought together by the wonderful set that WanderingHeiho WanderingHeiho has put together. Not only does the set offer great challenges in both stages and bosses, but it acts as mini-walkthrough to make sure nothing is missed by the player if followed in order. On top of that, there is a Bonus subset available which provides the player with a number of saves to take on bosses with a hand-crafted and specific loadout that usually involves restricting the player greatly. The balance and care shown for creating these challenges are unlike anything else I’ve experienced in set design.

All in all, Nayuta no Kiseki game is an excellent game with an excellent set that I strongly recommend to anybody even remotely interested in Action RPGs or Falcom games. This is easily one of my favorite RA experiences.

Faselei! (Neo Geo Pocket)

Game Console Genre
Faselei! Faselei! Neo Geo Pocket Strategy

Faselei was a unique game ahead of its time. While synchronous turn-based strategy games have carved out a niche for themselves in the last 10-15 years (mainly in the indie scene), this unusual game was the last gasp of the ill-fated Neo Geo Pocket. It released at the very end of the handheld’s short lifespan and distribution in some regions was limited at best. For those who have the chance to play it, they’ll find some interesting mechanics, challenging missions, and an overall unique experience with this diamond in the rough.

The setting is pretty standard fare for your wartime mech series. In a post-World War 3, mechs called Toy Soldiers (TS) are the kings and queens of the battlefield. Just one or two TSs can easily turn the tide of any battle, meaning mercenary companies specializing in TSs garner feared reputations and (sometimes literal) king’s ransoms in contracts. You take the role of Sho, ace TS pilot for the titular Faselei mercenary company and their exploits during a civil war ongoing in the fictional nation of Istar. An intriguing web of rival mercenaries, assassinations, shady weapons research, double agents, lost siblings and more emerge. As interesting as the concept sounds, the story is probably one of the weaker aspects of the game. While there are some interesting themes and subplots that come up, the dialogue lacks weight and the plot ends up feeling like someone watched a few minutes of random Gundam series and tried to summarize it all.

The real fun of the game comes from the combat system. As stated before, the combat uses a synchronous turn-based system. You’ll plan and program your TSs moves based on your AP, your enemy will do the same, and then you’ll watch the moves unfold in real time, repeating until the mission ends in victory or defeat. While it takes a little getting used to (and the game does not hold your hand beyond the first few turns of the first mission), it ends up presenting an unusual challenge that requires tactics and anticipation foreign to a typical turn-based strategy game. Will you try to dash full speed at a group of enemies, or will you play it safe and slow so you don’t overshoot your targets? What weapon range is most likely to catch opposing mechs? There’s a reasonably wide variety of abilities and weapons that give you a fair bit of flexibility to try out some strategies, including mechs with long-range missiles, short-range shotguns, piercing beam rifles, and more.

The achievement set for this game is comprehensive, covering virtually everything the game has to offer. To master this game, you’ll need to complete the story, earn every tier 4 or otherwise special piece of equipment, obtain all the ability chips, and gain an A or S rank (determined by the amount of turns you take) on every mission. The rankings achievements are easily the most challenging piece, requiring an advanced grasp of the combat system, strategically chosen loadouts, and a good bit of luck to blaze through the missions in the required turn limit. While most missions end up tough but forgiving after a few tries, a few of the endgame missions have absolutely brutal requirements. You’ll need to become a seasoned TS pilot to earn high honors in chapters 10 and 11 especially. Those 50 point achievements aren’t just for show!

While the game isn’t without flaws (the drop system and requirements for the top equipment is obscure at best, and RNG can end up making or breaking your A/S ranking runs on later missions), it is certainly one of the most unique experiences you can find for strategy games, especially on older systems. If you’re looking for a turn-based game that emphasizes speed or just looking for an interesting twist in your next tactical foray, get in the robot and give Faselei a shot.

Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2 Plus (Arcade)

Game Console Genre
Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2 Plus Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2 Plus Arcade Puzzle

In my opinion, this is the best Tetris version, only second to the last iteration of the series, TGM 3: Terror Instinct.

In this game, instead of tracking the player score or the number of cleared lines, you have to reach level 999, and once you succeed (if you can) as quickly as possible, you earn a rank that goes up to Grand Master. The level increases for every piece locked in the playfield and for every line cleared. Every few levels the speed at which the pieces fall increases up to level 500 where they appear instantly at the bottom. Subsequent levels also increase the speed at which lines are cleared and pieces appear/lock in place. All of this results in a exponential difficulty curve that, in conjunction with very strict timing conditions and the infamous 1 minute ending credit roll where the pieces become invisible once they are locked, makes the number of players worldwide that achieved the highest rank in the game not surpass 2 digits.

The game comes with 4 other modes:

Normal, an easy version of Master that ends at level 300.

TGM+, like Master mode but with rising rows of garbage.

Death, like Master but the falling speed is set to instant from the start and the other timings decrease to absurd levels every 100 levels.

Doubles, two player cooperative mode up to level 300.

The set covers all modes (including the secret grade and some “cheats”) and every step of progression until you become a Grand Master. If you can.

Meteos (Nintendo DS)

Game Console Genre
Meteos Meteos Nintendo DS Puzzle

Meteos is a favorite of mine that I feel goes under the radar a lot. Helmed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Space Channel 5) and Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby and Super Smash Bros.), Meteos is a Match-3 Puzzle Game (wait, wait! Don’t tune out just yet!) about intergalactic war. This is an early DS game, which means you will be using the stylus (there is an option to use the D-pad and buttons, but it’s honestly much faster - and easier - to just use the stylus).

Gameplay works like this: you can slide Meteos (what the game calls the blocks) up or down, and your goal is to match at least 3 Meteos of the same element. When you do, those blocks will launch toward the top of the screen, taking everything above it to use as ammo to attack an opposing planet, but watch out, because they can do the same to you. There are 2 types of launches, Horizontal and Vertical, and it’s important to know that each planet has not only its own gravity, but also some planets are better at one type of launch than another (for example, Sferia has some good Horizontal game, but are crap at Verticals). Items can also show up occasionally, from Bombs (which can destroy blocks that are either close to it, or in a pattern, depending on the Bomb), Rockets (which can either launch blocks in nearby columns, or every column), or a Speed Lock (you can increase the speed of blocks falling by holding L or R, however, if you’re hit with a Speed Lock, then that speed can’t be affected for a few seconds). When your screen is full for too long, your planet explodes.

Meteos has 5 different Modes, including a Tutorial. Simple is where you and up to 3 opponents compete to see who can score the most kills or who can be the last planet standing with a certain number of lives (yep, it’s definitely Smash Bros, alright). Deluge is the “Survival” Mode where you test yourself to see how long you can last. Time War is where you compete for either the fastest time to launch 100 or 1,000 Meteos, or for the highest score in a 2 or 5 minute timeframe.

Finally, Star Trip is the Arcade Mode where you select a planet, and then you fight several other planets before facing off against the final boss. Star Trip itself has 3 modes of play: 1. Straight, where you go in a straight line and your opponents are semi-randomized. 2. Branch, where you are given an option of 2 planets to go to next, then you pick one, and 3. Multi, where you go up against planets in groups of 2 or 3, and you have to clear an objective if you want to stay on the harder path. No matter which path you take, Planet Meteo will be waiting at the end. Defeat it to obtain an ending.

Oh yeah, I guess I should explain that “element” thing I brought up. Each time you send a Meteo that isn’t used as launching fuel to the top of the screen, that Meteo also goes to your Bank, which you can use to fuse together Planets, Items, Sounds for Sound Test, and Rare Meteos. There are 2 types of Rare Meteos that take up a lot of your other Meteos just to fuse, and I’d say you’d have an easier time collecting them during the credits sequence after you beat Meteo in Star Trip.

This set contains seeing every ending in Star Trip, fusing every Planet, Item, and Sound, and completing each Planet’s challenge (Whether it’s doing well enough in Time War, lasting for 3 minutes in Deluge, beating 3 opponents on 1 life and the hardest settings, or beating a path on Star Trip on the highest difficulty). If you are at all a fan of puzzle games, especially the Match 3 variety, definitely give this game a shot.