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.

Our companion piece, Wish This Set, is taking a break this month. We’ll be back next month, so if there’s a game you’d like to see get an achievement set, let us know all about it by sending a private message to RANews RANews.

Kirby’s Block Ball (Game Boy)

Game Console Genre
Kirby's Block Ball Kirby’s Block Ball Game Boy Brick Breakers

Sometimes, even in popular franchises, a game falls through the cracks… and Kirby’s Block Ball is definitely one of these. It may look like a Breakout clone on the surface, but there’s a lot more going on here: hidden panels can have minigames or point boosting challenges; bosses are a thing, involving paddles on all four sides of the screen; you have a save file to access previous stages; and most importantly, the Borderline scores must all be passed to unlock the final level, encouraging interaction with all of these elements. All of this turns what would be just another instance of “ball break blocks” into something truly unique, and definitely worth a try!

~Prototype~ Crazy Faces (Game Gear)

Game Console Genre
\~Prototype~ Crazy Faces ~Prototype~ Crazy Faces Game Gear Puzzle, Action

What I thought I was getting and what I got were two completely different games. From the preview images, this looked like a game of slide puzzles - solve some 4x4 to 6x6 slide puzzles and call it a day. But instead, what I got was a wild adventure with a puzzle theme.

In this game, you are trying to assemble picture puzzles, each of which is 4x5, across 20 tiles and four free spaces, but there’s also side gaps, bouncing walls, decoy pieces, and even bombs that you will die to. Repeatedly. Painfully. Once you get to the stages where bombs can spawn, try to make sure you always have an escape route to shuffle the bomb out a side gap, or smash it together with one of the decoy pieces that can kill it (usually a hammer). Decoy pieces can sometimes crash into each other to destroy each other, or you can shuffle them out the side gap.

After every three levels you get a bonus level where you can match 5 of a kind to get a 50/50 between bonus points and 3 extra lives. Track down 5 of as many symbols as you can during the short peek at the board to get as many lives as you can. There’s only 12 regular stages, so it’s a short play, but a really fun one - mastery took me about 2 hours in total.

~Hack~ Teenage Super Ninja Plumbers (NES)

Game Console Genre
\~Hack~ Teenage Super Ninja Plumbers ~Hack~ Teenage Super Ninja Plumbers NES 2D Platforming

I usually say that this strange type of crossover is incongruous, yet here is just such a case. The project, or rather the hack - Teenage Super Ninja Plumbers - combines the two franchises: “Super Mario Bros” and all the well-known and beloved “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. It sounds like a strange mess that both sides may not accept.

But I ended up on the other side; it turned out to be a pretty decent and suitable project, made, YOU WON’T BELIEVE it - in 10-15 days! For such a short period of time, I didn’t expect it to come out so good. Especially since it not only has high-quality redesigned graphics, but also puts effort into the music and the structure of the levels. The hack is a bit short, but the set completely encompasses all there is to do, allowing me to fully enjoy the work that has been invested.

For those who prefer all kinds of crossovers, it should be a breath of fresh air, and interest in this concept may even introduce you to other franchises of games (cartoons, TV series, films).

Wipeout 64 (Nintendo 64)

Game Console Genre
Wipeout 64 Wipeout 64 Nintendo 64 Racing

Psygnosis was a VERY underrated video game studio. They made and published many hidden gems, such as Shadow of the Beast, Rollcage, and A Bug’s Life. Their best and most known work, Wipeout, started as a PlayStation series and found itself on the Nintendo 64 as the third installment of the series with a deal with Midway.

The game comes with a new mode: Challenge mode. The aim of the mode is to earn medals by finishing different challenges in different categories: race challenge, time attack challenge, and weapon challenge. A fourth challenge category, combo challenge, gets added when all the medals are earned, and it combines all the other categories into one. Other than having even better visuals and a soundtrack that was nicely done, the game also comes with analogue support, that make driving at high speeds much better.

I would say, Wipeout 64 is easily among the best racing games in the console, which is very impressive, considering how many good racing games are on the Nintendo 64. I would even say, it is one of the best titles that the Wipeout series has to offer.

Shufflepuck Cafe (NES)

Game Console Genre
Shufflepuck Cafe Shufflepuck Cafe NES Sports - Air Hockey

I was originally drawn to Shufflepuck Cafe by how downright bizarre the premise is. It opens with a cutscene explaining how your ship has crash landed on an alien planet, at which point you wander into the titular cantina; you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In order to escape, you’ll need to beat them all at air hockey!

While air hockey may not sound like the most riveting form of gameplay, the game quickly won me over. Each of your opponents has a huge personality, complete with a unique design, backstory, and animations that are full of character. Each one has incredibly distinct AI from the others, too, keeping each match feeling fresh and requiring you to tailor your strategy to each of your foes. The game can feel quite punishing initially, but if you stick with it you’ll find that no matter how unfair it may seem, everyone has a weakness that can be exploited. In many ways, it feels reminiscent of what makes Punch-Out so much fun.

If anything I’ve written here piques your curiosity, I implore you to give Shufflepuck Cafe a try. It’s such a delightfully weird game that I’m so glad I happened to stumble upon. I learned so much about achievement development while working on this set, and am overjoyed to have the opportunity to share this hidden gem with the RA community.

Dark Cloud 2 | Dark Chronicle (PlayStation 2)

Game Console Genre
Dark Cloud 2 | Dark Chronicle Dark Cloud 2 | Dark Chronicle PlayStation 2 Action RPG, Role-Playing Game

Dark Cloud 2 (or Dark Chronicles in Europe) is the best JRPG on the PS2 almost no one played. Coming out in the middle of that console’s life cycle in 2003, it didn’t have it easy. Competing with well known franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Persona, as well as new bangers like Kingdom Hearts. Personally, I became aware of it from a German console magazine called GamePro, where it got one of the highest ratings (90/100) in a while - unusual for a game I’d never even heard of.

Now what makes it so special? It might be one of the most densely packed PS2 games you will ever play. Although it might come across as just another rather tough dungeon crawler at first, there is just so much more to it. A key mechanic is the fact that Max can use his trusty camera to take pictures, which he can save as ideas. Those range from belts, parasols and a table all the way to mythical tree noses. Combine 3 of those (you find combination hints everywhere in the world) and the resulting invention can be crafted later on.

But that is not at all, far from it. Fishing, via unmoving bait or wiggling lures, also two different fishing contests. Spheda, a variant of golf you play on the dungeon floors with varying challenges thanks to the layout. You don’t level your character directly, but have a mass of weapons for both characters to level up, infuse them with crystals and materials you find in the world, to then turn them into different weapons. From wrenches and hammers, guns and lasers, to swords and shooting magic out of your hand. Each floor also asks for specific clear challenges, be it “no healing”, “only use Max’s gun” or “only using items”. And Georama! You need to rebuild small settlements and figure out the requirements to change the future, absolutely fantastic concept. Combine this with beautiful graphics, a memorable soundtrack, wholesome story and a general feeling of constant accomplishment as well as a cozy atmosphere and we have one of the grandest JRPGs on this system.

I played this game as a teenager, so it has been a few moons since then. It was always dear to my heart and an absolute masterpiece, but I regretted never finishing this game fully, having a sense of mastering it. lordpsycho lordpsycho has done this game an incredible service, by making one of the best RPG sets, full stop. The aim is a 100% savegame at the end, but thanks to all the mechanics being so fun and interconnected, the feeling of progression was remarkable and nonstop. Every mechanic is fully explored without going insanely overboard. So a big thank you to the lord again - my teenage dream has come true and I mastered this incredible game.

It’s a massive game, so hold your guides ready, but I have to say I enjoyed every single second of this set and everyone who is even remotely interested in a fun and memorable RPG experience - look no further. This game was a hidden gem and I sincerely wish that it won’t suffer the same fate on RA and that as many people as possible give it the attention it deserves.”

Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable (PlayStation Portable)

Game Console Genre
Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable PlayStation Portable Board Game

We all know Monopoly, right? Buy properties, build them up, be the last one with money… and know who’s essentially going to win long before the game actually ends, resulting in extreme boredom. Now, what if there was a way to remove that last part? Maybe spice up the others while we’re at it? Well, that’s exactly what Fortune Street (or Itadaki Street as the series was known prior to the Wii entry introduced it to the US) does!

While Bankruptcy can still end the game, the main goal is just to get rich enough and get back to Start! There’s also a basic Stock market, allowing more ingenious investors to benefit from their competitors’ gains! Not only that, but it’s much easier and modular to boost your property values. No longer do you need to get a Monopoly (excuse me, Domination) before you begin, though it does still increase opportunities. Now, all you have to do is invest Gold into the specific shop you want, and it’ll both grow and increase the stock value! But don’t think you can just rest on your laurels, as an opponent can always steal your shop for 5 times its current value (only 3 of which go to you!), ruining your setup… though that does mean you can do the same to them…

This particular entry has a little something special though: a crossover between Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy! Every character, every board, every board event - all of it is themed after one of those two franchises!

Now, unlike the later Wii version, the single player adventure requires beating several boards in a row, with 2nd on all non-ending boards and a straight win on the last. Though you can save between boards and at the start of your turn, so it’s not a big deal. Oddly enough, the CPUs also seem to be much more stingy with trading or selling shops than the Wii version, though they do sometimes make an offer you’d like. While Mastery is probably not a good idea, what with several cheevs depending on board events you can’t really control much at all, playing through the Single Player is still a great experience!

~Hack~ Super Mario: Christmas Season (SNES)

Game Console Genre
\~Hack~ Super Mario: Christmas Season ~Hack~ Super Mario: Christmas Season SNES [Easy / 1 Exit], 2D Platforming

Often, a Play This Set recommends a game the writer loved, but in this case, I’m going to shoutout a game whose set elevates it from a mid-level SMW hack to an incredibly fun set to play. And it’s all done with just a single stage! Super Mario Christmas Season is an SMW hack with some fun mechanics - starting with ice blocks that briefly freeze you, powerups you have to buy by collecting coins, and an inventive boss fight against a bomb-dropping Thwomp. It’s nothing radical - or insanely hard - but it’s fun enough for what it is.

Where the set really shines are the four “special conditions” needed to master the set. The level has to be completed no-powerup, coinless, no ice block hits, and all dragon coins. Those challenges can be combined - or can be done separately - all up to the player’s skill. It’s technically possible to do it in two runs - once powerupless and coinless, the second run using powerups to avoid ice blocks and collect dragon coins. Most players will prefer to do it in three runs - start by completing the powerupless run while collecting coins, play through the stage collecting more coins and buying a feather and a flower - using the flower to access the dragon coins, then finally, use the combined mastery of cape and flower to avoid coins and iceblocks.

Ultimately, the real excitement in this set comes from what could have been a straightforward level with cool gimmicks becoming a true challenge via the set’s objectives - and discovering how to clear certain jumps around coins or iceblocks - or melt them with fire - adds replayability to a single stage that you rediscover multiple times over.

~Hack~ Celeste Mario’s Zap & Dash! (NES)

Game Console Genre
\~Hack~ Celeste Mario's Zap & Dash! ~Hack~ Celeste Mario’s Zap & Dash! NES 2D Platforming

Before I talk about this set, I’d like to dip a little bit into the “inspiration” of this hack. Celeste, the origin of this idea, was first released on a virtual console called “PICO-8”. Although it had few levels, this launched the porting and expansion of this product in the game history.

How is it related to the hack? Ideas and mechanics. The authors of this hack thought: “How can you achieve a more global game from the usual Super Mario Bros.?” From the main project currently in development, enthusiasts made a mini-hack based on Dash and Zip mechanics. This hack - in all plans - plays quite differently than the original Mario.

About the set: there are tests for fans to study every corner of this project, to study the structure and mechanics themselves and their interactions with these levels. Some, on the contrary, deprive the players of something that gives them an even greater Challenge and look for solutions, calculating every jump and (or) action in their thoughts.

Is it worth getting acquainted for ordinary players? Definitely yes. This is a plus of pumping the player’s game skill, to dive not only into this hack, but, perhaps, over time - try Celeste - later yourself.

Jersey Devil (PlayStation)

Game Console Genre
Jersey Devil Jersey Devil PlayStation 3D Platforming

Back during my LP days, I was asked to play Jersey Devil at some point. Obviously I couldn’t, as that was the first I’d heard of it, but it did mean I noticed when I saw it get a set here. And it was a decent little game, holding much of the solidity from other 3D platformers at the time.

It IS possible to just skip to the final boss, and fairly easily, but that’s really the only significant flaw I can think of… though there’s not much “special” I can point to either. Of course, RA being RA, such a skip only adds to the experience instead of detracting from it, and people like me can never get enough of competent 3D platformers!

As for how the game works, you’ve got a glide, but otherwise your moveset is pretty basic… jump, attack, you get the idea. You’ve also got three collectible types: KNARF tokens, five per level, which must be collected to get to the end of that stage; Hostages, which are there just to be saved; and Nitro Boxes. Yes, Nitro like the kind Crash can’t touch, only our hero here has to. Every regular level has a boss as well, and normally they’ll keep respawning… unless you got all the Nitro Boxes. Then a victory will blow the base to kingdom come, removing that part from future revisits. Be sure to beat them damageless before that point!

In summary, we’ve got a campy horror themed 3D platformer that doesn’t really do anything wrong. Those of us who love collectathons are always looking for new quality games in the genre, so we can’t pass this up!