Adding Reviews

I haven’t posted anything for awhile (if you don’t count the post from five minutes ago, which I actually wrote months ago). But I have new motivation in the blog, and that’s to add a review section.

The goal:  To provide short reviews, that are (hopefully) not biased by any previously published scores or impressions.

The score system will be borrowed from what I consider the best video game magazine that was ever published, Next Generation.  It is a simple 5 star system, but because of the simplicity the entire scale will be used.  This is in contrast to a 1-10 scale, where most games place between 7-9, with anything below not being worth playing, and anything above being considered great (really what is the difference between 8.5 and 9, or even 8 and 9 for that matter?).  At that level, the real question is it a 4 star (God of War 3), or a 5 star game (Demon Souls)?

Crisis Core I guess

So I think I mostly finished ZHP.  There are about a dozen endings but they basically require you to replay the same parts of the game until you quit from boredom (like most games from in that genre they never really end, you just sort of stop one day…).  Which is my biggest complaint, just too much bullshit to wade through to feel any real sort of completion.  But still it was fun while it lasted and it managed to hold my interest until the normal game had finished.

I’ve started playing Final Fantasy Crisis Core as it was a gift from a friend.  I almost quit after the first hour as Zach is inhumanly stupid.   I tried to find a suitable picture for Zach but all of them make him look like an emo poser (which is the only more redundant personality type in JRPG than “young brash stupid solider”) which thankfully Zach is not. 

ZHP

So I’ve cycled through a bunch of games and finally settled on one that I’ve had the patience to dive into.  Z.H.P.  Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman. 

Image

It’s not that ZHP is a great game, it’s just that it’s not an average game.  The back claims that you’re in one long boss battle through the entire game, but that’s not really true.  It’s more of a plot gimmick than anything else, but it’s an original plot gimmick.  But originality is really the best thing the game has going for it:  the mechanics, the progress of the game, and more importantly the writing.  In fact you only have one character for the entire game (like original Dragon Warrior style one character), but it works.  In a way it streamlines everything. 

So the writing is pretty bizarre from the get go.  But there is a point when a little squirrel character is describing a problem with his squirrel girlfriend that I literally had to put the handheld down and take a moment to comprehend what was on my screen. 

  “Uh… Besides bruise her uterus?”

Dive back in

I’ve mostly been sucked into ipad games lately (Jet Pack Joyride and revisiting Oblivion Stone). But I decided to fire up the PSP today. The copy of Prinny 2 that was sitting in the PSP had scared me away from the thing for so long. But I’ve learned to accept that I won’t actually beat the game, at least not in the near future. Instead I decided to unwrap the shrink wrap of one of the games that have gathered a thick coat of dust on the bottom shelf.

I originally thought about something action based, but since I finished God of War awhile back I considered a FPS. In the end I decided to settle on Knights in the Nightmare, as the packaging promising an RPG mixed with bullet hell experience was too much too pass up. Intro video was the same lame fantasy bull-shit I’ve seen a hundred times over, but I’m willing to ignore that. More to follow.

Perhaps for the best?

Ys 2 has been slow going as of late. The game is much longer than the first, but requires no less hacking, slashing, and backtracking. It seems to be moving into the final stages as the level-cap has almost been reached and more and more important monsters are killed.

I read an article about tactics ogre. It was almost painful to read about the game. I know I want to play it again but the thought of it is so daunting at the moment it’s almost nauseating, because I know if I do I will go for finishing the game without a single character being knocked out.

Here’s the article that sparked it:
http://www.kidfenris.com/valkyriegames.html

Baroque

So I’m making my way through Ys II.  It is an improvement in every way over Ys.  It introduces magic, varied equipment, the characters are better (but still basic), and even has something of a cute mascot creature (a Roo) that succeeds at being more moogle than… what’s an annoying mascot?  I like DQ’s slime, and even Shin Megami Tensei’s Jack Frost isn’t that bad.  So I guess that’s sort of the point, they’re all pretty much the exact same and this little guy is more of that (or technically you can transform yourself into one and then talk to the game’s monsters).

*The rest of this is a seriously nerdy argument, so keep a strong screen on the situation when you debate something like this.  If you ever feel you should talk about this with someone you have a crush on, don’t.

When I went to look up Ys on wikipeida, and hopefully eventually find a sketch of one of these “roos”, it instead first took me to the page of a “real” mythical city that was supposed to exist off the coast of Brittany until it was swallowed by the ocean.  Wikipedia tells us it looked something like this (Flight of King Gradlon, by E. V. Luminais, 1884):

 Seeing the picture took my mind off of “roos” and reminded me how art should be used more often as inspiration for videogames.  And I’m not talking about the ability of games to be called art, or have characteristics of art, or even to look like art, but simply the visceral nature of art.  When I see Caravaggio’s art, I see the possibility to transfer that raw emotion into an amazing game:


Recently, I felt a few moments of this when playing Tactics Ogre.  They often came at visceral moments, but also at strange times (the background of the shop screen had so much personality that it gave me a strange feeling as I waited for the words to scroll past on the screen).

Step 1 complete

I finished Ys I.  It took my much longer as a result of being by the bedside and letting it sit for a week while I played iPad games.  Not even really great iPad games, but very effective at pick up and play (which was important because I was traveling).  The game I played the most was called Legendary War.  Low budget, but it has charm and can keep you sucked in for awhile.

As for Ys, well… I enjoyed it from beginning to end, but was underwhelmed by the final boss.  He is set up for most of the game as this sort of cape wearing mysterious man, so he must be more than that, Right?  … and the name Dark Fact is not really a name at all.

 

Ys yeeeease

I started the summer with Ys I.  To say it’s simple is an understatement, but I find myself playing it as if I wasn’t a cynical asshole with RPGs.  It’s also extremely enjoyable to play through, as each level you gain makes you exponentially stronger.  So while the game world is somewhat open, you mostly get rocked if you’re not at the right level.  When you do actually find where to go, it’s satisfying in the way that solving a puzzle is.  Only change I would make is to select Hard for the difficulty, I feel like a truck the way the red-haired little main character runs over enemies.

I still haven’t made up my mind on the music yet.  I know it is supposed to have some of the greatest music of all time so I will wait to make a judgement.

Game Challenge – Summer 2011

I have to be honest, the idea for a summer game challenge came from another site http://rfgeneration.com/blogs/noiseredux which apparently itself came from another site.  Still, I can’t let the lack of originality prevent me from introducing my own challenge.  Ideally you’re supposed to pick 10 games, however since I don’t think I can have the time for ten games this summer, or the ability to get my hands on ten I would want to play, I will keep the potential roster to what I brought with me to Europe.  Games to beat, in no particular order:

Ys I&II  (PSP)
God of War:  Chains of Olympus  (PSP)
Professor Layton and the Curious Village  (DS)
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo  (PSP)
9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors  (DS)

That’s the list.  I’ve actually completed most of the Curious Village, but I feel I need something to compel me to finish it.  And Supper Puzzle Fighter II is actually part of a PSP collection I bought for cheap at the Euro equivalent of 7-11.

There is also a pretty good chance I will play Tactics Ogre again, however I will keep this separate.