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7:30 PM on 02.08.2011

On my own or Online?

My friend and I had an argument today, a strange one. I was playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn on my DS, a game I have been waiting for ever since The Lost Age was released. It was a few hours after school had ended, and naturally, I was absorbed in the game. The new changes to the continent of Angara had me waist-deep in nostalgia, and watching how Alchemy changed the world kept me glued to the screen. However, halfway through the dream swamp in Kolima, my friend messaged me.

He asked whether or not I've heard of Magicka, that new RPG released for the PC a few weeks ago. Being the frequent Destructoid lurker I am, I had been somewhat following the game and affirmed that I have. What followed was the longest string of nagging I've ever heard from him since he told me to buy Minecraft again (I shared an account with a friend, and he changed the password on me so I can't play it anymore). I was really irritated, to say he least. Magicka seemed like an interesting enough game, but I just had a lot more games that I still needed to play. SMT: Strange Journey, Z.H.P., and Mass Effect 2 are just a few of the games that come to mind. Not to mention a ton of other games I've been meaning to buy for some time now.

Interestingly enough, my friend got rather pissed off at me.

Like this, except on chat.

He said he didn't care about any of the games I wanted to be playing, and told me to just buy the damn game, as it would be one of the few games that we could get so that we can play online together. But again, at the time I was absorbed in one of my many single player games, so I told him to get off my back and that I'd get it when I got through a bit of my backlog, which consisted of games I would much rather be playing. With that, my friend got angry, gave up, an left the chat.

I confess to not being a huge multiplayer fan. Don't get me wrong though, it's not like I hate it. It's something I've been known to do on occasion, like my brief obsessions with Modern Warfare 2 and Metal Gear Online. But I always get more enjoyment and fulfillment out of playing a rich single player adventure than playing with other people. I love to get lost in a world in the same way I do when I read a good book. As such, I haven't really felt a dire need to play Magicka in the same way as I do with games like the ones mentioned above. I felt as if my reasoning was sound, and for a while I had no idea why he was geting so angry with me.

But then a thought struck me. My friend wanted me to get the game for the sole purpose of us having something to do online. We both own different consoles, my PS3 to his 360, so PC gaming is the only place we can play online. He's always been raging at me to get a 360, which has pissed me off to unbelievable amounts, and for the love of god I just wanted him to leave me alone about it. But now I realize all he really wanted was a means so we could game online together. Which brings up an interesting point:

Am I fine with being the odd one out in my network of friends?

Have I been perpetuating the negative gamer stereotype? The idea in society of the lonely, antisocial kid that sits in his basement playing video games? As gaming culture has grown far more mainstream over the years through titles such as Call of Duty and even Farmville, a lot more people are taking up the hobby. Through MMOs like World of Warcraft and online gamiing on Xbox Live, social interaction is becoming far more intrinsic to the gaming experience. But I never really got into that kind of thing, as gaming is more like escapism from society to me. But now am I that lonely, nerdy kid sitting around, not wanting to play with other people?

And furthermore, I now feel like sort of a dick. Should I have just gave in, bought Magicka, and played with my friend? Even if I'll most likely enjoy it a hell of a lot less than Golden Sun or Mass Effect? Gaming is one of the few things I do by myself, and escape. But should I just give up and start playing multiplayer games to appease my friends and ditch the stereotype? I honestly have no idea. I'm definitely more of an introvert than an extrovert, and I enjoy my me time. But is that really so bad?

Okay, this blog is getting a bit too long. I'll stop my rant here before I start looking weirder than I already do for worrying about these things. But tl;dr:

Was I wrong to value playing by myself to playing with others?   read

3:50 PM on 01.26.2011

Tales of Graces F


EDIT: I figure I should post more than this, so I will. Apparently, Namco released a blurred picture of something on a teaser site as a reward for solving a riddle or some other kind of shenanigan. The internet quickly realized that this is most likely the Tales of Graces F logo. This'll be the first Tales game localized since Vesperia! Namco is notorious for never localizing their best games, ever, so this new makes me very, very happy.   read

7:08 PM on 11.24.2010

Ouroboros and other things

This thing is such a motherfucker it's UNBELIEVABLE. Why doesn't it spam me with Disaster Cycle some more? Grrr....

Apart from my Strange Journey related gripes, this is kind of an "I'm back. Again" post. After a long absence due to unexpected shitloads of schoolwork, I'm writing this. I don't really have an actual topic today, so I'm just going to do a rundown of the games I need to get in the near future, and since I'm rather low on money, advice would be greatly appreciated on which games I should put precedence above others. So good Dtoiders, help your fellow man out in his time of need.

Donkey Kong Country Returns
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Kirby's Epic Yarn
AC: Brotherhood
COD: Black Ops
Fallout: New Vegas
Sonic Colors
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Also, any other suggestions for games would be appreciated.

(Also, hopefully a more serious blog will be coming in the future. I just couldn't think of any worthwhile thoughts on recent events)   read

7:10 PM on 09.30.2010

Video Games and Treasured Memories

(A/N: This was a spur of the moment musing I decided to post in order to give shape to how I was feeling. So, here goes)

I was inspired to write this blog after seeing a list of another community member's favorite games. After seeing how radically different his favorite games were to what I consider treasured games, I decided to write a list of my own, just to see what I came up with. I thought back to all of the games I loved and consider close to my heart, and although it was difficult I came up with what I consider to be twenty of the games that are most special to me.

Megaman Battle Network 3
Cave Story
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
The World Ends With You
Pokemon Ruby
Custom Robo Battle Revolution
Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Super Mario Galaxy
Tales of Symphonia
Kingdom Hearts 2
Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django
Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door
Fallout 3
Chrono Trigger DS
Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Castle Crashers

As I'm sure you can surmise from this list, I'm not a particularly old gamer. Far from it, I'm a junior in high school and my first actual console was a Gamecube. So I'm sure there are plenty of crotchety old gamers who would shake a fist at my list and tell me how these games are shit compared to the games of the good old days. Which brings me to my point:

Above: As much as I hate to admit it, this game was critically a piece of shit

Most of those games I mentioned were never game of the year material. I mean, except for 2 or 3, they weren't critically bad. They were considered good games, but they weren't in the upper echelon of fantastic games. They wouldn't even be compared to the legendary games of yesteryear. And I know for a fact that I've played more than several GOTY material games over the years. So why don't more of those games, like Assassin's Creed 2 and Mass Effect, appear on the list?

The answer lies in the fact that I have beloved memories with each of those games mentioned above. Castle Crashers is a game I spent nearly six months playing with my best friend who I met in grade 9 of high school. I played Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door when I was extremely sick for a weekend and found comfort in the whimsical tale of Mario in a world made of craft supplies. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was the first game I got for my Gamecube on my birthday. Tales of Symphonia earned a place in my heart when it was introduced to me by my best friend in the summer of grade 7. In fact, I'm sure I can come up with a similar story for most of these games.

These games are not just special because of moving stories, addicting gameplay, or fantastic worlds. These games are special because of they were 48 hour gaming binges with my best friend. These games are special because I found comfort in them, an escape from reality, during the more difficult times of my junior high years. These games are special because they brought my cousins and I together. I buy and rent games that score 9s and high 8s on metacritic, but they just can't capture my love the way these games of yore did. How can these new games compete with games associated with the most memorable moments of my life?

Then you might ask, why keep playing new games that you know won't recapture the special feeling of those treasured memories? I would then reply that I keep playing games, I keep escaping reality, I keep having fun with friends, and keep experiencing the moving stories these games have to offer in order to create new memories. New memories I can look back on with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my chest.   read

7:52 PM on 09.29.2010

Really Late Intro Blog

This feels kinda awkward for me, but I noticed a couple of C-Blog posts that mentioned an intro post is obligatory. I realize that I've already written a couple blog posts, but one was mostly a rage fueled obstruction to logic after I suffered severe disappointment in a couple of games I played, while the other was just a spur of the moment thought I wanted to put out there just because I had no one to talk to about it.

Thankfully, however, those flew pretty much under the radar and I don't think anyone hates me yet. So, in an effort to get involved with the D-Toid community, I figured I'd start over and an obligatory intro post would be a good place to start.

Hello, my name is Ben. I've tried to start being a regular contributor a couple times, but those attempts fell apart rather quickly because I got occupied with something else. I REALLY want to make a solid effort this time to start getting involved, so I can become a part of this awesome site. I'm an avid JRPG fan, but other than that I guess I like most genres of gaming. Lately I've been occupied with portable RPGs such as Dragon Quest IX, SMT: Strange Journey, Phantasy Star Portable 2, and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.

As for which gaming devices I have, I own a PS3, a Wii, a DS, a PSP, and I have a red ringed 360 I'm too lazy to fix. I also have a steam account I really just use for Portal.

I don't really have a snappy line to go out on, so... err... yeah.   read

1:50 PM on 05.23.2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 and a couple of thoughts

Today and yesterday were great days. Why were the great days, you may ask? Because yesterday and today I saw 4 of my most frequently visited review sites give Super Mario Galaxy 2 a perfect score. Including my most trusted, Destructoid. A smile was embedded on my face, and I let out a cry of joy. Nintendo is back.

You see, I've been a Nintendo fan since the N64. In fact, I had only ever had Nintendo consoles up until this gen, for now I own both a PS2 and PS3. So underneath all of my Wii hate, due to their whoring out to casual gamers and such, it reminded me that I am a die hard Nintendo fan at heart. For to me, the Wii was an insult. I had been a loyal fan for generations, and they give me that? So I bought a 360, which eventually got RROD'd, and I got a PS3 instead afterward. After a long run of playing some great games on many different systems(which I enjoyed, don't get me wrong), I realized I had come to miss Nintendo offerings, with all the sheer amount of care and thought put into them. I missed all of their flagship franchises and all of the fun they offered.

And so, after seeing all of the praise for Super Mario Galaxy, I started to wonder. The reason the Wii receives all of the hate is to due whoring out to casual gamers and motion controls. But what would have happened if Nintendo joined the HD generation and didn't pursue motion controls? What if they had appealed to the core gamer more? They could have been so much more than they were this generation. Seeing these great games like SMG 2, NMH 2, and more just remind me of what could have been. Don't get me wrong, there are a few games I absolutely adore on the Wii, but the fact is that they could have been that much better with more powerful technology, and they are completely drowned in shitty shovelware from third party developers marketing to casuals anyway.

So I guess the bottom line is: Nintendo still has great ideas and game design, that's brought down by sub-par hardware and a bad reputation. I just wish they hadn't have committed to marketing to casual gamers, for I believe they still are a truly great company. They did create the foundation for gaming as we know it, after all.

But what's in the past is in the past. Maybe they can fix it for next generation.   read

6:43 PM on 04.06.2010

On JRPGs (My First Blog)

To start, let me say that JRPGs have, for many years, been my favorite genre of game. I adored Tales of Symphonia, the World Ends With You, Kingdom Hearts, and Persona 3. And I have a great deal of affection for older games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III as well. So as many other JRPG gamers could believe, the "dry" season of major console JRPGs was taking its toll on me. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor was enough to feed my hunger for a little while, but it still wasn't enough.

Imagine my eagerness when I went to pick up two of the newest JRPGs, a spark of excitement in my recently dreary life. White Knight Chronicles and Final Fantasy XIII. Now I am aware of the negative reception received by reviewing sites for WKC, but the bottom line in many reviews was that the hardcore JRPG crowd would still enjoy them. And I read plenty of fantastic reviews for Final Fantasy XIII.

At first, all was well. I thought I was generally enjoying these JRPG offerings. Now, the key phrase is "I thought." To my horror, I started to find I was playing these games just for the sake of playing my favorite genre. These games were BAD. FF XIII was becoming more and more like a 30 hour clichéd movie full of an uninvolving battle system and tedious linear dungeons. WKC had exceedingly boring gameplay, and a boring and predictable story to match. I was terrified. Was my favorite genre fading into the past, with attempts to "mainstream" JRPGs slowly killing the genre? Or were JRPGs simply losing their shine?

As I have recently played Chrono Trigger for the first time, and enjoyed it immensely, this leads me to not believe that I am getting bored of JRPGs. Instead, I believe that companies such as Square Enix are attempting to make these unique games marketable to the common gamer. In other words, whiny little Xbox Live kids yelling "FAGGOT!" into their headsets while playing Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2.

No, no, no, NO.

That is exactly the kind of thinking that is butchering this once unique niche in gaming. JRPGs do NOT need to be mainstreamed. It is an abysmal idea that takes away from what these wonderful games are at their core! Games with vividly coloured and wackily designed environments, deep and unique characters, with very statistically based combat systems. But the most absolutely important aspect was the story's ability to draw you in. The previously mentioned characters and environments should combine to immerse the gamer in the story. That is what I believe JRPGs are at their very core, their essence. Or at least, was at their core.

Both FFXIII and WKC suffer from what I shall now dub mainstreamization. Final Fantasy XIII was so overly simple it made me want to cry. The combat system had an auto-battle command, and I could scarcely believe it when I first saw it. Apparently Square Enix believed that all that navigating through menus during combat was too complex for the average gamer. So in consequence, during less important battles I developed a habit of changing the channel while simultaneously spamming the X button until I believed the battle was over. And the lack of world detail made me want to cry.

But Ben, you might say. The world was plenty detailed. Of course, I would say. The environments are extremely pretty and well designed, as well as there being plenty of information on the world itself. But 90% of the environments are inaccessible, because obviously the mainstream gamer can't handle a more open world. They REQUIRE a straight corridor so they won't get lost. Not to mention the fact that you have to navigate a menu to see detail on the world. As obviously mainstream gamers can't cope with that sheer amount of information. In a JRPG, where immersion in a world and story is essential, understanding the world became an OPTION. These factors combined to completely kill the immersion of FFXIII's story.

White Knight Chronicles made its first mistake by putting to much emphasis on its online portion. I believe it was provided to draw in more of the mainstream, online gamer, crowd. But the result is that the game puts much less influence on a JRPGs most important aspect. There is absolutely no need for an online component in a JRPG, as their selling point is the immersive story. They used resources to make something completely unnecessary instead of what draws the core audience to these games. Not to mention the fact that the gameplay was tedious due to a need for online compatibility.

After much thought, I realize that I have been turning a blind eye to JRPGs since Final Fantasy 7. I have much criticized Nintendo for ditching the core crowd with casual gamers on the Wii, and it has taken me years to see through my fanboy tendencies that the same thing is happening to JRPGs. Developers are trying to mimic FF7's enormous success, and create a more enjoyable game for the common gamer. The developers are responsible for the decline of the beloved niche in gaming. As usual, the core crowd is being shunted around due to the corporations knowing the core crowd will always come back for more anyway. And since I believe that they are stealing what my favorite genre essentially is, this is one less gamer they are taking money from.   read

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