The following blog is set for One Fall! Introducing first, he is the Hylian Champion! Winner of the Seven-Year Slam, making the Hylian Ring safer, one Powerbomb of Courage at a time!
Started gaming on an Atari 2600, grew into the gamer I am now with Nintendo, playing on an NES and SNES. Became more aware of the wider scope of gaming through the Playstation and Xbox. Now I'm loving the PC gaming life.
My favorite games include A Link to the Past, Terranigma, Guilty Gear X2, Viewtiful Joe, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and DotA 2.
Huge comic book reader, and currently keeping up with All New X-Men, The Flash, Dial H, and Uncanny Avengers.
My favorites are The Sandman Vol 4, Batman - Hush, and V for Vendetta.
Lover of wrestling, although not so much of the infamous Attitude Era. Much of more a CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler kinda guy.
Life-long reader of books of the fictional and non-fictional variety. Love Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Wendig and Haruki Murakami.
My biggest dream is that one day Quintet returns and makes a current generation Terranigma.
What do mages, wizards and witches do, outside of being magic users? No really, what do they do? There’s never an explanation as to why they’re learning magic, what they’re planning to do with this, how it gets applied outside of assisting some idiot with big spiky hair and a broadsword they happen to run into.
We know witches live in some secluded hut in the woods somewhere because…
Or how Druids frolic around being one with nature because...
We know mages and wizards go to school to learn magic so they can grow up and...
Oh right, there’s no further knowledge as to what the hell they do. In most cases, the bad guy has the foresight to hire at least a dozen of them as bodyguards because big thick-headed guys with giant swords can't handle magic users. So at least several mages are finding work as the equivalent of sell-swords. Sell-staves. Whatever. Somewhere out there, there's an agency letting out magic users, renting them out to the highest bidder. They're playing both sides, and as clever as this is, they could easily top that in much more lucrative ways.
Let's say your JRPG world divides elements so that one mage can only specialize in one at a time. This is just to make things a bit easier for the time being, if you're in a less traditional RPG series like Final Fantasy and can just use everything, then congratulations! All of the following is possible!
Every king would want his kingdom either surrounded by some lake, or atop a hill, or some other place that geologically gives them a strategic advantage during wartime. Makes sense, right? What if they could hire someone to improve upon this advantage? This is where you come in, because as an Earth mage, you can pretty much terraform every surface of the planet however you see fit.
Except it doesn't end there.
What if this king happens to be at war with someone who is in a place that's nearly impossible to ambush without heavy losses? Wouldn't it be nice if somehow the land advantage could be taken away? You know, for a price?
What if both kings would want a level playing field? Sure, they might not know both of them paid for an advantage, but fair's fair, right? And hey, if one of them comes out the victor, you still helped them achieve that victory somehow, so maybe an aftercare system could soften the blow of discovering all strategic advantages just stopped applying alltogether before the big battle.
Not that great with water? Like to burn things up instead? Good, because there’s enough you could do with fire. For one, you could easily start a restaurant. Grills and barbeques are the easiest routes you could take this. Seeing meat should be in endless supply thanks to random encounters, and you have an endless energy source thanks to your mana, starting up a franchise from nothing would be easy.
Now imagine winter in a time before insulated windows, central heating, or anything to keep the cold out except dressing warmer. Fire elementals could easily create a hot room for people to warm up in, or a decent heating system that should last for a while for the more fortunate costumers.
Considering yours is the power that's closest to a constant light source, you could easily keep a castle lighted up without candles easily. You could live like royalty, all just because you know how to keep a simple channeling spell up.
Ancient Indoor Skydiving.
Imagine you're a water mage. You cast water spells until your HP runs out. If you want really quick cash, you’d open up a swimming pool. All you need is a big hole to fill with your magical waters. Refreshing the water shouldn't be too hard if you have near endless supply of mana at your disposal, nearing that would be a ton of mana repleneshing items, which shouldn't be hard to afford once you've got the ball rolling.
During the colder seasons, you could team up with a fire mage to heat the swimming pool, or the area surrounding it up. That way you wouldn't need to close shop outside of summer. Besides that, you can always open up a hot spring or sauna together.
If you're really ambitious though, you'd open up one of those gigantic waterparks. With crazy slides, or maybe even rafting and surfing pools because you have more control over the currents and don't need natural formations or patterns to get a perfect situation for these things.
A much slower, and near world-economy breaking use of water elemental casters would be becoming a farmer. You’ll never suffer dry seasons. Nobody could ever raid your farm since you could just destroy them with elemental attacks if they'd even try, so you wouldn't need to farm under a single Kingdom, and instead supply the whole world separate from whatever nation your land is on. This in turn means that the Kingdom's protection costs for your farming don't apply to you, and that you'll have more control over the price of your goods.
Heart is not a real power. Fuck off.
Who even needs to go to an inn to recover anymore if you can just heal people with your magic instantly? You wouldn't need hospitals anymore. You walk in, pay your fee, get healed, and walk out.
Then there's the buffing sub-division that could easily help you get that extra boost you'd need to get through the day. There are so many extra ways the stat boosts could help people in everyday life outside of battles. Just imagine being able to buy a strength boost when moving furniture. It would make the life of regular folk so much easier, and yourself all that much richer.
You're in a Final Fantasy-type setting where you can just cast every single element? Holy shit, do you even know how lucky you are? You hit the jackpot. You can do all of the above. Heck, you could be a one-man nation. Why do you think the bad guy is pretty much always a magic user in these settings? It's so easy to just rule everything you see, it's somewhat of a miracle there are kings, shop owners, and farmers who aren't all abusing the gifts that magic have given them.
Imagine a situation where you will never run out of mana, and think of the possibilities. You can shape the land around your house with earth magic, create a farm in your backyard, have a swimming/sauna area on the side, with some extra business selling food and providing buffs. You wouldn’t even need an army to rule the world. With just one massive vacation resort, you could start a global empire.
Although at one point you'd have to either get the other mages to join your glorious empire or kill them. Otherwise they'll start banding together to stop you. They might even join that first spikey-haired dope who deluded himself into believing he's some sort of hero.
Enjoyed this particular post? Great! Because there's two previous posts about JRPG rules in which I explored the concepts of Time and Random Encounters! Go read them!
The first time I saw someone unironically say "Don't worry, I'm pro!" in an online game was in my very first game of League of Legends. I had no idea what was going on for most of the match and didn't know a carry from a support, or the difference between laning, roaming or jungling. What I did know, was that I hated Master Yi. Or at least, the kid playing him. As much as he kept saying he was a pro, told us not to worry, and even despite the fact that he did seal the victory for us, I wanted him to fail. I wanted him to fuck up, admit to his faults, uninstall the game.
Anything, but repeat how "pro" he was.
For the entire 40 minutes that the game took, I was waiting for that one key moment where he'd fuck up. It became an intense obsession that ended almost instantly the second the match was over.
Just look at this guy. What an asshole.
Not long after that match, I uninstalled League of Lesbians and decided that I'd never touch games of that type again. The constant cries of "being pro" and the endless blaming of other team members was not something I enjoyed. It seemed like the more pro someone was, the more everything was everyone else's faults. I just couldn't get behind that attitude, so I decided to leave the game and the poisonous playerbase that swarmed it behind me.
A few months later a friend sent me a DotA 2 beta key. After some protest I installed the game and tried it out.
The first few games weren't too bad. Sure, I lost more games than I won. But nobody ever claimed they were pro, the players didn't seem to blame one another anywhere near as much as they did in League of Lesbians. I was actually having fun, learning the basics of the game and figuring out just how much I actually sucked at it. Maybe if everyone in matchmaking spoke English, the experience would've been as bad as my League one, but luckily it was a nearly full Russian speaking world out there.
While playing, friends would spectate my games and send me messages over Steam, laughing at how horrible the players in my tier were while feeding me advice for whatever hero I was playing at the time. It didn't take long for me to rise out of my shitty matchmaking tier and get to a more competitive one.
By the time I started seeing more skilled players, insults started flying around chat more often. Interestingly enough, nobody bragged about their inherent skill, instead they'd focus on what went wrong and called names endlessly. As much as I hated it, it was still miles better than League ever was. Plus it got mixed with cross-team trashtalk. I'd reached a matchmaking level where everyone was as into the game as I was, and everyone wanted to improve. That's why it was made abundantly clear when you fucked up; Everyone assumes you intend to not make the same mistakes twice.
One game I played did involve someone calling his or herself pro though. Instead of telling us to relax and assuring us that nothing we could do would fuck it all up because he's so great, he pretty much bossed us around constantly. This would've been really annoying and demeaning if it wasn't for the fact that his demands were all logical and made complete sense, so we'd all follow his lead. Instead of trivializing the team, he taught us all how to play our heroes better, and got us to achieve victory together by using teamwork and strategy, even if everything came from his mind, the execution was all ours.
Then I lost my gaming setup. In fact, I lost pretty much everything I owned. That's a story for another time, so I won't get into it too much.
By the time I started building up again, I met a friend who kept playing Battlefield 3 on his laptop. He told me he was playing the game professionally at some point in his life and I believed him. Not because of his skill level, which absolutely backs up his word, but because of his attitude towards the game. He simply loves playing it, and is always looking to improve out of appreciation of it. Plus he tends to get banned from servers repeatedly for "using aimbots" when he really isn't, which he thought was hilarious.
I hadn't realized it, but in my time playing DotA 2, I'd heard people call themselves pro a lot less than while playing League. Despite that, the people I came across while playing had a much more serious attitude, matching that of the actual pro players. And by serious attitude I mean they seriously appreciate the game and want to have fun with it. I watched a bunch of pro streams during their off hours in solo queue, and the one thing I noticed was how much they'd just troll team members and do stupid things just for fun. Instead of sticking to the same-old and yelling at anyone who didn't, they'd play for fun and do stupid things on the side. Even looking at the actual pro players of League of Legends, I'm seeing that same general attitude, even if there's a lot less deviation from the usual there.
I swear that this screenshot is funny for reasons nobody but people who play the game obsessively can understand. Literally everything about it is wrong. Everything.
After a month or so, I invited that friend to DotA 2. He was incredibly reluctant at first. Bad experiences with League of Legends made him stay away from the entire MOBA side of gaming. I told him to watch me play one game and then decide if he wanted to get involved. By the time the first team fight started, he was sold. When he started playing, I told him matchmaking at first is going to be nowhere near as fun as it was on my level, but he didn't seem to mind. Lower matchmaking meant more chances to experiment with weird things to really understand the basics.
Fast forward to now, almost an entire year later. I met up with him and he's coming across pro players in matchmaking. He's pretty much top tier, while still just playing for fun. If he wanted to, he could go pro. Although I don't think he'll do that again. He once told me how much he dislikes the pro gaming lifestyle because it's too obsessive and unhealthy. Requires way too much play, taking out too much time for his preferred lifestyle.
I was around 14 in 1999, damnit.
In the meantime I'm trying to get by in League of Legends on my shitty dualcore laptop. It's one of the few active online games that my shitty laptop will play. I only recently got to ranked play because I don't play all too often, and I win nearly everything because I'm used to playing a game at a much, much higher level of matchmaking, I'm also polite to my team and know how to guide even the most unwilling players to make the right moves. Manipulative? Maybe. But it's better than being stuck with a group of players yelling at each other for 40 minutes at a time. The kindest thing anyone has ever said to me was to uninstall the game because "i suk", right before making the entire enemy team ragequit in 1v5 teamfight that I won despite my team not paying attention to my signaling. My team bragged about how pro they were after that.
I just don't understand the logic of being abusive and poisonous towards the nine people you'll be spending the next hour or so with.
Remember the part where I said I'm a really nice guy who doesn't make fun of people online? Neither do I!
Sure, my laptop can run Awesomenauts as well, but after hitting top rank before playing enough to even really settle with a character... I got bored of it. I love the multiplayer, and the game is a lot of fun to play, but despite that I still love to have some feeling for progression in it. Prestige doesn't count. Progression doesn't always have to be spelled out with numbers or unlocks, sometimes it's really just something that happens within yourself and your attitude as a player.
That's what I really liked about Dota 2. Sure, there's no real progression there besides what matchmaking tier you're in, and even that's mostly invisible. You can only tell based on how well the people around you are playing the game. Usually when you jump up a tier, you notice the difference quickly. There tend to be huge gaps in matchmaking tiers in that game, and it takes a while to adjust since a lot of old strategies no longer work as you work your way up. Entire characters just drop off as their primary reason for existing is to punish the mistakes especially made by less experienced players.
League of Legends on the other hand forces you to sit through 30 levels of unranked play before you can even get to ranked play. While I understand the idea, the way they do it ends up cushioning the egos of "pro" players the same way most shooters do these days: unlocks. Every time you level up, you get to put a point in your masteries list. You also free up a rune slot. Both of these translate over to better stats in-game.
Unlike DotA 2, where if you make an account right this moment and pick a character you'll have the exact same stats as when a pro does. League instead gives you a character with weaker stats, less health, longer ability cooldowns... It's not a gigantic difference, but it's enough to make a new player feel like they suck because of that instead of their lack of skill. That, and the fact they still have to unlock the characters.
This makes it easier for most people to start playing the game and gives them incentive to keep playing if they're not able to set their own goals, sure. It also stops the experience from becoming overwhelming early on. Yet at the same time, this makes it more difficult to compare your own play to that of a higher skilled player and realize how much you suck in comparison because even if they're playing the same characters, they'll always have different stats than what is available to you. It makes it easier for a new player to call themselves a pro gamer even if they don't understand most of the basics while holding onto a lot of stupid excuses.
I feel this is why so many people consider themselves pro in online games like Call of Duty as well. With the unlock systems in games these days, it's a lot easier to find things to blame instead of realizing your not as great as you want to believe you are. At the same time, it's also easier to keep yourself in the lead simply by having more unlocked than most. Even if it only makes a minor difference, a well-balanced game hinges on minor differences.
Fighting game communities seem to suffer a lot less of the aggressive problems around in shooters or MOBAs, but that might be because the genre has been so close to dying out it's not even funny. Most of the people around in the fighting game scene probably know how important it is for the people within it to keep their shit together. Besides, a round in a fighting game doesn't take all that long to set up or play, so shutting up and just playing is a lot easier done than in a 5v5 50-minute game.
Not that it's really no better in hugely popular fighting games over XBL or PSN. People tend to be terrible idiots on those services, especially with the shiny new games. All my negative ratings on my Xbox Live profile come from using Chun Li in Street Fighter IV, and I've been called a hacker and cheater constantly just because I know how to counter with Xianghua in Soul Calibur.
Or sacrifice your Corgi Damsel, if that's what you're more into. I don't know.
One thing that is noticeable with most games known to be unforgivably competitive: once you get to a certain point in it, the playerbase tends to become a lot better towards each other. Even if you've never been into multiplayer games and tend to go for solo experiences, you'll still see it happening around games that take ages to really master. Just look at how fans of games like Dark Souls and even Spelunky connect. It takes a lot of patience, practice, and dedication to tackle those games. So it's no surprise that the people who experienced those games have a deep appreciation towards the games and can easily connect with others who have gone through that same struggle.
Shortly after writing that, I realized that this is exactly what Shinra was doing that was sucking the life force out of the planet for cheap electricity. And here I was believing it was a cheap analogy to fossil fuel in a modern setting.
But enough about the doom and gloom of the destruction of our planet, that's not what's important right now. What is important is that the world is ending in approximately "soonish" and you just decided to spend the night at the inn. I guess there's not much of a hurry in this whole saving the world business, is there?
We've all seen this happen countless of times. Peril. Imminent destruction. It's only a matter of time before the bad guy will go through with his evil plan.
I guess neither heroes are really in that much of a hurry.
So you train yourself, repeatedly fighting against those random encounters just outside of the various towns and cities. Then, using the gold you've just collected from these encounters, you head to the inn for a night's rest. The process is repeated until the day you finally confront the big bad guy to stop his evil schemes. Luckily, you are just in time. You're always just in time. As if time itself revolves around you.
It kind of does.
Time totally does stop and start at your convenience.
As if it's not weird enough that it only becomes night when you decide to go to sleep, the sun also has a habit of rising when it's time to set out again.
Days are literally as long as you want them to be. Heck, if you wanted, you could go from the start of your journey all the way to the end before lunch. Time is a thing that happens to other people, namely NPCs. If you look unique enough, or maybe even just have blue spiky hair, you're unstuck in time, able to do whatever the hell you want. Heck, you could spend an entire never-ending day at a casino for all you care. Money is in endless supply, you have no financial ties to anywhere, and you have free reign over time. You are the closest thing to a godlike entity to exist.
No wonder groups of NPCs often rise to rebel or rule in any given setting if they always have to deal with a jerkwad hero who is unstuck in every sense of the word, and yet still feels the need to rebel against the establishment.
It's not bad enough that the main character is unstuck in time, or is easily the richest person on the planet though. For a JRPG protagonist, every day is Groundhog Day. Every single day, the same NPCs are in the same places, saying the same things. The same shops sell the same items. The same dungeons spawn the same monsters. The only difference is that they wake up in a different inn from time to time.
Death is not permanent, characters can easily get revived in various ways. No physical marks are left behind from conflict. Nothing really lasts in the world, unless the effects are caused by someone else relatively unstuck in time.
Typical JRPG Hero with his ally on a typical Quest.
From the perspective of a hero, or even that of a villain, the journey from start to finish is one of months. For the villain, it took a long time to set up the plan, to gather the army and riches, to get to where they are before the protagonist even comes into the picture.
A hero still has to hone his skill, learn abilities, find items, understand his own conflicts, and face his inner demons. The reason a boy who can barely fight a rabit and come out alive at the start of a journey can rise up to defeat the terrors that destroyed entire armies is because time is not passing for them. The hero might be waking up the same day every day, but for him it's different each day. He can take as long as he likes to train, because nobody else can progress during this time.
From the perspective of an NPC, the hero's journey generally doesn't take long. Usually it just takes a day or two, which is why nobody tends to recognize the hero when he shows up in town. Whether it's the 1st or the 80th time, it's the first time any NPC will have seen him around. Unless time has gradually progressed since his arrival, they'll fail to recognize him subsequent times, or hold any significance to this one group that dresses differently than anyone else.
So why even bother trying to take over the world if people like this exist? Who's saying that isn't the case? When JRPG heroes don't have an evil empire to fight, they fight an evil oppressor. There's always a ruling party to overthrow, so who's to say that the hero of old isn't the new villain?
You might bring up the history books, or the lore of the world, but who wrote all of that? They're mostly accounts of events from the perspective of whoever won the last battle. Given the depth of the history in most JRPGs, it's safe to say that every victorious hero immediately burns the records from a second generation before him. The next hero will follow the story based on the records of the second one before him. That way the cycle of heroes and tyrants remains intact indefinitely.
When the records are being written and rewritten, everyone is free to add as many 0s to how many years have passed since things have happened because nobody has any real concept of how time passes anymore after having been outside of the loop for so long. It gets disorienting fast.
Chapter 8: My "promised land" stabbed in the back.
Turn-based battles, and the more modern active-time battle varients are effects of this disorientation. Time flows in an abstract form for everyone involved in these fights, so it's hard to understand for everyone how or when they can move in something as generally hectic and fast-paced as an all-out fight. So instead everyone stands around trying to figure out if the opponents are also stuck in time, and if not, if moving now would break their concept of reality if they'd just attack anyway.
Breaking people's concepts of reality isn't that big of a problem in itself, but there's always that possibility that if you break enough people's perception of reality, reality itself will actually break.
And trust me, you don't want reality to break.
The last famous incident where this occurred, a giant JRPG franchise was turned into an MMO. It never quite recovered from this. Although at least it wasn't as tragic as the time it happened to a young western RPG series. That series is still in suspended animation to this day because euthanasia isn't a known concept to game genres.
I've been wanting to write about my experience with the past generation for a long time now. Mostly just so I can get some closure with it for myself. Because as much as I told myself I didn't really feel like there's any real shift happening, or my complete lack of awe towards the newer consoles, I do get sort of an "end of an era" vibe lately that I can attribute to it.
So I've tried writing about the past generation. Took a break from it. Restarted. Collected my thoughts. Tried again. Scrapped attempt after scrapped attempt, all to try and stay positive about the last generation. Because really, it wasn't a bad generation at all. Despite it almost making me quit gaming altogether on more than one occasion.
Dramatic interpretation of me hard at work writing about Generation 7.
So I decided to just write out my experience with this generation in its entirety. Not as a highlight reel, not as a failure clip show, but just as a chronological "so here's a thing that happened".
I'm not sure where I should say this generation started for me. I got both a DS and a PSP early on, the DS before the European launch, and the PSP on launch day. I sold the PSP within a month because it didn't look like it was going to go the direction I was hoping it'd go. In the meantime, my DS mostly was a system I played cheap GBA games on.
Good games were hard to find. It's weird how I keep seeing gamers from the US cry out in jealousy of all the cool deals and early releases us lucky Euro folk are getting from Nintendo online, when in reality stores tend to not reflect any of these advantages at all. At leat, not in the Netherlands. If we get a game early, chances are it will be sold out within 24 hours and won't be back in stock until long after it stops being relevant even in America. A lot of games technically did get released in Europe, but I've never seen them in stores here. Those games would include the Ace Attorney franchise, or even Hotel Dusk and the sequel. On paper, the DS sounded like a fantastic system, but being dependent on what stores where keeping in stock, it almost became a system I regretted buying more than the PSP.
World of Warcraft was a thing that happened, and I know most people aren't going to bring it up in a post that's mostly about console generations, but it is absolutely a PC gaming thing that happened at the time we started seeing what this new level of technology could bring us. Besides, I'd only started getting into WoW around the time of Burning Crusade, so Generation 7 had already begun by then.
It was a brief experience for me, since working full-time I couldn't play it enough to keep up with the peer pressure that got me into it in the first place. Everyone was a good 20-30 levels beyond me within a week, and I sort of dropped out of touch with them in-game after that. Most of my fun with WoW came from the PvP arenas, where I learned more about playing online PC games in ways that would only become apparent much, much later. Probably the best experience was the time I tried to sell a random Druid morphed into bear form to another player as a mount to a newbie, and the Druid went along with it when he realized what was happening. The second best thing was when I got the people on Communitoid to burst out laughing live on the show when I tweeted that at them.
A bigger regret did pop into my life not long after though. Having owned every major Nintendo console, I would have to buy the Wii. And yeah, the Wii does have some cool games on it that I would have loved to play, and it also had some cool games I could actually find in stores months after release, but most of the experience was underwhelming. I think it was maybe two or three months after actually releasing that I finally got my hands on Mario Galaxy, and almost half a year after release that I found Brawl in stores. I think we got the Mario Kart game before I found Brawl as well, but I honestly cannot remember it ever being in stores while I owned my Wii.
Galaxy made me fall in love with Mario as a franchise again. It mended everything that I felt Sunshine broke. Fantastic platforming, amazing music, and even looking at it now, the game is absolutely gorgeous. Especially if you consider that this is an old game on a system that was never graphically impressive.
One of my favorite games during the time I spent with my Wii was No More Heroes. Climbing my way to the top of the assassin scoreboard, and the aware absurdity of the game made me really excited about playing through it, and I feel absolutely blessed that I could find the game, because the one and only time I saw it in stores, it was an instant buy, even though I technically didn't have the money to make a 60 euro purchase like that at the time. No regrets.
Then came Brawl, and not long after that my Wii got unhooked from the TV. Brawl kind of overstayed its welcome within a week of playing. I didn't like the single player, the multiplayer felt like it had too much tacked onto it that didn't really work that well. Too many identical characters, which already started in Melee. Nobody really wanted to play it in multiplayer with me either after two or three rounds. It wasn't a game that lasted.
And that's when AboveUp decided to leave the gaming family.
Generation 7 was over. A failed start with the handhelds. A failed attempt getting into MMOs. A bad and bland experience with the newest Nintendo console. That's it. I'm out. I'm not playing video games anymore.
Okay, so maybe it didn't end there. After a couple of months had passed, I started importing Nintendo DS games from the US. I also started playing a bunch of games in an admittedly non-legal way just to be able to play them because they were impossible to get my hands on otherwise.
This is when I started playing my way through the Ace Attorney series, as well as the DS Castlevania titles. Things kind of spiraled out of control from there. I'd try to buy a game whenever I could, but if the only way was to buy a second-hand copy at more than full-price? No thanks, I'll just pirate that shit.
My renewed interest in gaming that way would end up driving me to buy an Xbox 360, and I feel that this is where the gaming generation for me really started. Because a lot of really annoying, stupid, terrible, and boring shit still happened constantly on there as well, but at least it felt like it was being balanced by some genuinely good experiences as well.
The first games I got with my Xbox was Halo 3 (came with the system), Orange Box (I just wanted TF2), and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (huge, huge fan of Morrowind). Out of those, I really loved Portal. I played Oblivion once and sold it. Then half a year later I rebought it at a much lower price and figured I'd play it with lowered expectations, and then sold it again within the week. Then a year later I figured I'd soldiered through so many unmemorable games that I should be able to hate-play it and write some funny blog posts about the broken experience the game offered, and never got past the tutorial.
I also got a bunch of Microsoft points and bought Geometry Wars and Symphony of the Night, which became my favorite games of the system for a long time.
For the first month I felt cheated somehow. I'd bought my second current generation console, and overall I didn't feel like I'd got a single experience that felt like it wasn't possible on the previous gen. Halo 3 wasn't impressive. Orange Box was all technically Half-Life 2, which was last gen. Oblivion felt much too simplified compared to Morrowind. I needed something to actually wow me. Something that felt like it offered something that was completely unlike everything I had played before.
So I wound up buying Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the very next month. I'm not a fan of war shooters. I'm not a fan of online shooters. Every sign was pointing towards me hating this game. Instead I ended up absolutely loving the experience. Say what you want about what the franchise became almost immediately after the success of Modern Warfare, the first one was an incredibly good game, especially for its time. I even ended up really enjoying the online play, although I didn't linger for more than half a year. Which is good, because apparently some time after that the xXx_360_NoScOpE_xXx bullshit started.
Shortly after that I ended up playing through games like Mass Effect (not having playing KotOR or Jade Empire made it all the more impressive) and Bioshock (amazing game, wish it never turned into a franchise). I also bought Rock Band and from that day onward I suddenly had friends coming over every week for a Rock Band session.
There were also an incredible amount of absolutely unremarkable games that I ended up playing through where gaming almost turned into a meditative event because I could just play it unthinkingly. I wasn't enjoying the game, and I wasn't disliking the experience either. The only thing that kept me from quitting them was the whole achievement metagaming mentally where I figured that if I didn't get rid of them and instead kept playing them, at least my Gamerscore would go up.
This is how I played through Far Cry 2 (drive half a minute, run into car of bad guys, shoot them, Dexter's Lab wrench animation to fix car, get back in car, repeat), or Red Faction: Guerrilla (Break stuff. Hurray.)
After a while I realized how I wasn't really enjoying myself this way, and what a ridiculous timesink it was. I quit gaming for half a year to clear my head from that mindset. Started exercising more, eating healthier, read more books. Kind of went through a massive personal change.
Then I came back to gaming and played through some really fun games, like Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, Halo ODST (The first Halo where I actually liked the single player) and Borderlands. After that my 360 red-ringed while playing Prototype.
I considered getting it fixed, but I was still in that frame of mind where I didn't really see the point in getting it fixed. There were too many times where I'd enjoyed playing the game, but really didn't feel like I liked them as much in retrospect, like Fallout 3, and too many instances where I spent way too much time playing games I absolutely did not enjoy just to beat them and get achievements, like Fable 2, Far Cry 2, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Halo 3, Ninja Gaiden 2, and too many downloadable games worth mentioning.
It was at the moment that AboveUp felt that he'd given the generation a fair chance, and that this time, he'd really leave the gaming family.
The only game that made me sad when I realized I wouldn't be able to play it anymore was Geometry Wars 2.
Still, I had my DS. I gamed my way throug SMT: Devil Survivor, 999, Professor Layton, Ghost Trick, Henry Hatsworth, Pokemon, The World Ends With You, Rune Factory, Bowser's Inside Story, Advance Wars... If anything, I was enjoying games a lot more than ever before that generation.
Then I moved to England and my roommates had both a PS3 and an Xbox 360, so the downloadable games came back. The only retail game I really ended up enjoying in this part of the generation was Halo: Reach. I hate-played my way through Dante's Inferno. That's about it.
Half a year later and somehow inexplicably living with friends in Ireland, I played my way through Assassin's Creed 1, 2 and Brotherhood. The first one felt like all too many incomplete faceless experiences this generation where the tech was there, but the actual gameplay wasn't. But man, AC2 and Brotherhood were so much fun. It was one of the few moments where I had that feeling of actually playing something of this generation again, which I hadn't noticed was missing since the Modern Warfare experience.
I also played through Dragon Age 2, an experience that can be best expressed through a long string of obscenities. Fuck that game. So hard.
Back in the Netherlands, crashing with a friend who had a monster PC, I pretty much got into a bunch of indie games. original freeware Spelunky got played a lot more than ever before. Bastion, Limbo, The Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy. Those experiences got mixed with two major free-to-play games in Tribes: Ascend and DotA 2, as well as my first time actually playing Team Fortress 2 on the PC and realizing how vastly different it had become compared to the long dead console version.
DotA 2 became the biggest game changer for me in this. I'd never been big on PC games, but it felt like everything that I had previously enjoyed about the PvP arenas in World of Warcraft years ago. Even though I initially expected it to be as horrible as my very brief League of Lesbians experience.
Right now the only gaming platform I have left is a shitty dualcore laptop that can barely run anything. Despite that, I'm really enjoying myself through games like FTL, Hotline Miami, Spelunky, and Papers, Please. Especially the reworked Spelunky. If I'd have to pick one game as my favorite of this entire generation, that would be my pick without even thinking about it.
My biggest problem with this generation is that as much as storytelling experiences where really pushed as a constant, nobody seemed to understand that for an experience to be especially powerful, it needs a definite end. To me it never feels like the generation ended because somewhere halfway through the console generation, my current generation console died. In that same way, most games would just sort of stop continuing halfway through the experience instead of actually ending.
The few games that actually did dare to end would later get DLC that would revert the ending, because the developers didn't know how to build up to an ending successfully and thought that was the real problem with the experience sort of collapsing in on itself near the end.
What do you mean with "using images to prove a point so you can't get quoted on it?"
So instead of a story actually having an ending point, we got endless cliffhangers. These cliffhangers were there in place to sell us more DLC and further sequels, which funnily enough got accepted much more easily than I feel it should have been. It's especially weird when you realize that a lot of games that tried this in the generation before it would get slammed because "they're trying to sell us one game for the price of several."
Which is actual criticism for the .hack series. A franchise I'd always hoped would get an HD collection this gen at some point just so I could buy it in one go.
There's still a lot of games I feel I need to go back and play. Lately I've been playing Valkyria Chronicles on a friend's PS3 and I'm really enjoying that. I also tried playing Bioshock Infinite, which, if I'd paid for it, would've been my absolute least favorite high profile game of the generation, with the original closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. I also played bits of Uncharted, which made me feel like I had as much control as playing a lets play.
If I'd have one regret this generation, and I'm sure to rectify this in the future, it's that I never played Demon's Souls or Dark Souls. Every time I hear people talk about it, it sounds like they're enjoying it for the exact same reasons I enjoyed Spelunky. And I know it sounds weird to compare games like that to one another, but there's that same level of deep appreciation that comes between fans of well-crafted, punishing games with a steep learning curve that is easy to recognize.
The weirdest thing I realized near the end was that I hadn't enjoyed a single Final Fantasy or Zelda game the entire time. Especially jarring when this was also the generation where I finally realized I'm the same age as the original Legend of Zelda game.
Despite all the complaints, all of the problems, all of the times I told myself I was done with gaming altogether this generation, it ended up becoming the one generation where I really decided for myself that I was really into games. I've been playing video games for my entire life. My earliest memories of traces of game influences in them, together with an awareness that I'd been gaming before even that. For most of my life, gaming was just a thing I did because I did it. I never really questioned why I was doing it, or if I was enjoying it. Several points in this generation I realized I was just playing it just because, and I wasn't enjoying myself. If this generation hadn't been so rocky for me, I never would've questioned gaming as a media form as much as I have done now, and I never would've grown as appreciate of it as I am today.
That alone makes me happy about this past decade. In that warm fuzzy feeling sorta way.
Games often work with their own rule sets. Most good games have rules that work by a set of logic that we can intuitively follow, but wouldn't make much sense outside of their genre. RPGs operate on a broken approximation of table-top rule sets that allow an entire earthquake or thunder strike to precisely hit the target and still miss. Somehow, JRPGs take the level of absurdity even further.
If I could discuss the real-life application of any game mechanic with a physicist, or any intelligent scientifically-minded person, it's the concept of Random Encounters. Everything about their existence is impossible in every way imaginable. While it's ridiculous enough that a group of enemies suddenly appear out of nowhere, there's a lot more happening here.
To prove my point, please study the following image.
This is an image of a typical JRPG hero, as brought to you by Google, in a typical room, also brought to you by Google. Now let's just say, for the sake of argument, that this room is a room in a dungeon. We can tell that this is not a town area because of the lack of shops and inns, so the only alternative is a dungeon. Dungeons don't even have to be actual dungeons, they've mostly become an umbrella term for any area in which random encounters can take place that is not the overworld.
So now that we have established combat can happen in the area pictured above, how many monsters do you see there? How many monsters do you think are actually in the room with the Average JRPG hero in the Average Room?
A. Five. B. Encounters travel in groups of three. C. Infinite. D. None.
No, really. I want you to think about this for a while. I've even put in a brief intermission to stop you from scrolling further down, just so you cheat and skip to the answer immediately.
Okay, you're back? You sure you know how many monsters there are present in that screenshot of Typical JRPG Hero in A Typical Room?
The real answer, obviously, is C. Infinite. Hope you got that right.
There are infinite monsters in the room with the hero.
How do we know this? Sure, there's a lot more monsters in the room than the eye can see, but how do we know it's infinite?
Because, even with barred doors and windows, the amount of combats that could happen within the room is endless. Locked in a room with no exits, no entrances, new monsters still keep appearing in the path of the protagonist. Provided that this set of monsters inexplicably materializes items that allow the protagonist to sustain himself, and enough monsters do provide item drops that would do just that, the protagonist could endlessly keep himself in good health indefinitely.
Why else do you think they call it farming for items?
Pictured: Typical JRPG Hero wearing a Typical Straw Hat on a Typical Farm
This wouldn't be the only way one could benefit from being stuck with random encounters either. If we could figure out the materials that Slime creatures consist of, there is a good chance we could use them as a fuel source. Once we achieve that, imagine creating a power plant built around a dungeon area to get an endless supply of slime material.
Considering the amount of plant-based monsters, as well as your average beast-type monsters, food shortages should be nearly impossible by systematically cultivating dungeon areas with a high item drop modifier. Maybe attempts at this have been made in the past. It would explain the overly elaborate and rich-looking outfits characters in these games tend to wear despite being supposedly poor.
Something must have gone wrong with these attempts, because there would be no need for money, traditional jobs, or even adventurers if everyone in the world abused the meta game as much as the heroes do.
There's only one logical explanation to this.
Monsters in JRPGs are physical manifestations of the inner anxieties and problems of the protagonists. JRPGs tend to follow the grimdark character exploration traits of the most juvenile anime archetypes, so naturally the entire cast is mentally troubled while trying to brush off their problems in loud proclamations of friendships as they crumble in a complete depressive collapse of self.
Pictured: Typical Magi Madoka Magica characters, as a stand-in for typical JRPG group of heroes.
The more troubled someone is, the more physical manifestations of their troubles flood the world. This would explain the typical rise of monsters that villagers complain about and tend to see as a new thing. Because it is new, but the heroes are just too young to realize it started around the same time they were born. Their brooding nature is the entire reason monsters have been on the rise lately, and sadly their willingness to throw their lives away at the slightest whim is being seen as a dedication to stop the monsters from expanding their reach.
It also explains why a series like Final Fantasy was so flooded with random encounters, while the slightly more optimistic Tale of cast would actually see monsters on the screen.
Although I would like to know what Mario worked out within himself in between Mario RPG and Paper Mario to stop Random Encounters from happening. Although to be fair to Mario, the encounters didn't start until after a new evil came in between Mario and Bowser, which might have given rise to an internal conflict of being equally cast aside in his role the way Bowser was.
That, or Mario is severely imbalanced and has become better at hiding it since then. It might explain why he pretended Luigi never existed for so long, or why he has no problem chasing after Princess Peach so often.
Maybe explains why there's a new major Mario game coming out near the holiday season of the Year of Luigi.
I love gaming challenges. Heck, I love any sort of challenge. Some might even say dealing with me is a challenge in itself, and trust me, that is not a reputation that is easy to build. A few years ago I decided to play through all the NES Castlevanias as part of the special Halloween gaming binge. I'd never really thought of Castlevania in regards to a Halloween type of games, mostly because they're not really horror games. Then again, I'm from the Netherlands, and the Netherlands does not celebrate Halloween. So I generally don't give Halloween much thought at all. Still, because someone came up with the idea of doing a Halloween-themed quest, and I am in no way completely stealing this idea from that person, I figured I'd do my own Halloween Quest this year.
This year, I wanted to move up a generation. Instead of going after the NES Castlevania titles, I've set my sights on bigger, better games. Starting with Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
A year ago, I decided I'd beat the NES iteration of the game, Ghosts 'n Goblins. Although I came much further than I ever had before, I didn't end up beating the game. Frustration took a hold of me the second time I died near the end. Not just the end, but the end end. Ghosts 'n Goblins has you play through the game twice in a row before allowing you to fight the final boss. That's right, after beating the final stage, you're sent back to the first stage and get to play a slightly harder version of the game. Only after reaching the end the second time do you get to actually beat it.
Remember those old games that used to make fun of you for beating the game on Easy Mode and told you to restart on a higher difficulty? Well, it's kind of slap in the face but worse because if you go game over you get to start back on Easy again. In the end I was pretty proud of my accomplishment of at least getting closer to the end than most people can say they got.
For whatever reason, I decided that this time I'd tackle the SNES version. I remember it having more power-ups, better controls, fantastic music, and generally having an awesome feel to it. A few memories of never beating the first stage as a kid would come up, but otherwise I had a feeling that maybe this time I'd actually make it.
Fuck you too, game.
There's one difference between me as a gamer now and me as a gamer when I was a kid. I've got a lot more patience now. I don't rush through games expecting victory to be handed to me anymore. My young self would imagine a whole variety of game rules that weren't there and would get frustrated when the actual game's logic didn't agree with my fantasy version of it. Whatever hardships the game could concoct, I'd be ready for them now.
Turns out I over-prepared for Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts though. It might not be much of a forgiving game, but it's a heck of a lot easier than the NES game. A lot more enjoyable too. Beat the entire game in one attempt!
So, what else have I got planned?
Well, first of all I want to finally beat Super Castlevania IV. That game has been a thorn in my side for far too long and now is the perfect time to fight my way through Dracula's castle. I've beaten all the NES Castlevania titles, vanquished almost all of the Metroidvania styled one, but I've never beaten a single SNES one. And yes, I'm following it up with Dracula X/Vampire's Kiss.
After that it's time to get out the old water pistols and 3D Glasses, because it's going to be time for Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Honestly, this is the game I'm looking forward to play the most in this challenge. I love that game.