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About


My name is Ben. This is my blog.

I enjoy working in Adobe Flash when I have the time and I've churned out a few websites as a result. I call myself a gamer, although I'm admittedly a bit of a fanboy; you could print "Nintendo" on a roll of toilet paper and I'd bid for that shit on eBay.

Seriously though, I play a lot of games and my platform of choice right now is the DS. There are a ton of sidescrollers and traditional RPGs that I remember playing a lot when I was younger. Better yet, I missed a lot of games on the Super Nintendo back in the day (they were like $70 or something) and a big trend on the DS right now is remaking and re-releasing them for this generation of gamers. I eat that shit up. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Shiren the Wanderer FTW.


My Top Seven Favorite Game Franchises:

1. Dragon Quest
2. Half-Life
3. Mario (excluding some)
4. Castlevania
5. Metroid
6. Ace Attorney
7. Resident Evil

Some of my favorite games (In no particular order):

Paper Mario, Xenogears, Okami, the entire Resident Evil Series, Super metroid, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2, Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, The World Ends With You, Mario Kart DS, Kirby Canvas Curse, Super Mario Galaxy, Fire Emblem: Path of radience, No More Heroes, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis, Dr. Mario, Devil's Crush, Ninja gaiden (NES), Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest Heros: Rocket Slime, the Phoenix Wright series, Hotel Dusk, The Longest Journey, Breath of Fire III, Half-Life 2, Lock's Quest, Henry Hatsworth, Rhythm Heaven, and many others that I just can't think of right now...
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Hello, everyone,

I have not blogged here in about three years now!--I've been busy busy busy working on something, and I'd like to plug my game share it with all of you now.

I have made a board game--It's a roguelike board game, heavily inspired by the likes of Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon series. It's been making some *very* small rounds recently, and it got picked up by a small publisher called 5th Street Games.

It has been an interesting challenge, trying to find a happy medium between the trappings that make roguelikes unique and what makes a competitive board game fun. But I've had a year now to really tighten things up--I was heavily inspired by Chunsoft's classic Mystery Dungeon series Torneko, Shiren the Wanderer), and I'm very pleased with the results! The game is called Baldrick's Tomb, and it has four heroes traveling down to the bottom of cursed dungeon, where the insides are forever churning and rearranging. True to roguelikes, the contents of everything are a mystery, and randomly generated. You will fight monsters, trigger traps, but also use powerful scrolls and find gobs & gobs of treasure.

The publishing deal brings with it a ton of great changes. First, the game has been tightened up in all areas. If you watch the video review below, all of the issues they discuss have been addressed! Players draft their own skills, are never stopped by traps or monsters, and now have all sorts of new and interesting ways to interact with the game! Also, the game's visuals are getting a full make over, with art by Erin Fusco!

Currently, Baldrick's Tomb is on Kickstarter. I'd be thrilled if any of you would be willing to take a look at it, and if it seems like something you might be interested in, I hope you might consider backing it:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/5thstreetgames/baldricks-tomb-the-roguelike-board-game

If you'd like more information on the prototype version (the game before 5th Street picked it, you can check out these links:

An interview with The Game Crafter: http://news.thegamecrafter.com/post/26331153910/undine-studios-inducted-into-hall-of-fame

A video review from The Gamers' Table: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VVU6buIpPZ8

A written review from Father Geek: http://fathergeek.com/baldrichs-tomb/

The game's BGG page: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126340/baldricks-tomb

Thanks very much for your time!








Spoiler free, I promise!



Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Nineteen:
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinals of the Starry Skies


It's not every day I get to buy a new Dragon Quest game. Sure, I've bought dozens of DraQue games over the past two years that were new to me, but IX is new in the States to all but the most ardent of DQ fans who imported a Japanese copy to stumble through. It's been a long time coming, being announced bout four years ago and having been available in Japan for over a year, but now I finally get to see what all the fuss is about with this new-fangled "Make-your-own-character" feature.



Well, say hello to my party! I made them myself! Right now, I'm rolling with:

Ben (Myself, the main character): A level 36 Minstrel
Derrick: a level 37 Martial Artist
Steph: a level 35 Priest
Will: a level 37 warrior. Look at that bad-ass blue mohawk!

It was a lot of fun to make my party. My main character pretty much has the default settings, except he has the Cesar Chaves haircut and blue eyes... that is as much as I was able to make him look like me. The other two male characters are kinda generic, but whatever; I like the way they look! I mean, Derrick just looks like a martial Artist, and Will's got that blue hair. BLUE HAIR!



The variety of equipment you can use is staggering. We're all used to having little drawings of all the equipment and items in our DraQue games, but I can't believe the development team took so much care in modeling the equipment in 3D... it looks so good. And the fact that I can see them on my party members... Wow! I never thought I'd see an RPG hero with a turtle shell, fishnet stockings, cat ears, a slime shield, and a spear.

Prior to its release, I was admittedly a bit worried about how I might feel about Dragon Quest IX. Long-time Japanese players had their gripes with a couple of things, and some reviewers here in the states noted the overly-simplistic battle system, the lack of a good story, and a distinct lack of character development. So I was a bit scared that I might not actualy like this game. Fortunately, upon booting up IX, my fears have been cast aside as this is just good old Dragon Quest. Sure, it's weird that no one in my party ever utters a word, and even weirder that my three party members don't even exist as far as the story is concerned (The hero is alone for all story elements and cutscenes, even if the rest of the party was right there before), but it's easy to get over that when the rest of the game is so darn pleasant. And I would argue that the battle system is more robust now than it has ever been before.

The game actually reminds me a lot of VII, in the sense that the overall story arch is rarely brought up and merely ties the game together. But again, like VII, the real stories come from the various towns you visit. Tales of plagues, kidnappings, monster attacks, and other short stories are beautifully executed and introduce some great NPCs. So even though you're not going to find anything like Angelo's deep backstory (From VIII), or the Hero's decade of stone (From V), rest assured you'll find plenty of character development in the form of drama, flashbacks, and deep storytelling from the various NPCs.

If I had to gripe about something, it would be the music. I've played an ass-load of Dragon Quest games in a very short amount of time, and the music from almost all of them has been memorable. The song that plays while you ride the bird in VIII is beautiful, the town theme from V is catchy and upbeat, and the battle theme from IV is just great. The music in IX isn't bad per se, but it's certainly not anything to write home about.



I was a bit puzzled by the decision to change the name of the Dharma Temple to the Alltrades Abbey, but I'm glad the change was made now, if only because IX is so diferent from how VII handled class changes that they're hardly the same thing. In VII, when you changed classes, you maintained your level, your skills, spells, and equipment restrictions. But in IX, changing classes brings you back down to level 1, removes the spells associated with your last vocation, and strips you of all your equipment that can't be equipped with your new job (Martial Artists can't equip shields, for example)... and I mean that literally, by the way; I changed my Warrior to a Mage and was straight-up stripped down to my underwear! The only thing you carry over from one class to another is your skillset.


This seemed a bit harsh at first, but it's really kind of an interesting approach. Very late in the game, I changed the classes of my entire party, and went to fight a monster on the world map. And because I still had all the skills from my previous class, killing the baddie was a cinch. And just from that one monster, my entire team jumped from level 1 to 7!!! Then, I took my party to a cave with liquid metal slimes, and killing just a single one jumped my party from level 7 to 17, earning each character around 30 skill points!!! In just a few more minutes, by killing several more liquid metal slimes, my group was half-way through mastering new skillsets. So even though it sucks that you're so vulnerable after trying a new class for the first time, it only takes a little bit of planning and careful work to catapult your way back up the foodchain.



Things didn't always work out though... I went back to Alltrades Abbey a second time and once again changed the vocations of my entire party, reverting everyone back down to level 1. In a move that was a little overzealous in hindsight, I ran straight back to the cave where I was farming for liquid metal slimes and waited around for more to show up. Over the course of an hour, I came across nearly a dozen of them, but couldn't land one hit on a single one of them! It may have had something to do with my stats, as it never happened before when I was of a higher level, but these slimy little bastards would run every single time! That is, every single time but the last... although I was equipped with some really high-level equipment, it couldn't make up for the fact that my party was still at level 1. So when I finally came across a liquid metal slime that didn't run away, the dick landed one-hit kills on my whole party until they were all dead! Yes, MY WHOLE PARTY DIED AT THE HANDS OF A LIQUID METAL SLIME. Oops. Back to the drawing board.





I've only had Dragon Quest IX for one week, but I've been so compelled by it that I've already racked up over thirty hours on the clock. Whether it's working through the main quest, taking on odd jobs from the citizens of the world, power-leveling party members or digging through Mystery Dungeon-esque grottos, the game always has something to do. Kind of like how GTA games always have short-lived missions you can do for near-instant gratification. I can tell that I'm getting closer to the end of the main quest, which isn't nearly as long as other Dragon Quests, but I'm excited about all of the side quests and post-game content that will surely extend my playtime with the game. Not to mention multiplayer, which I'll be trying out soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~323 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours
T:TLH - ~15 hours
IX DS - ~33 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $364.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII, Torneko: TLH, two copies of IX)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

:::::::::: Torneko: The Lost Hope:

Dragon Questing Part Eighteen: The Last Hope

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Seventeen: I Came, I Saw, I Beat Some Ass.

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One










Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Eighteen:
Torneko: The Last Hope


Iím certainly no expert on the roguelike genre, but Iím not completely unfamiliar with it either. It has taken me a little over two years, but I recently conquered my first and only roguelike game ever: Shiren the Wanderer on the Nintendo DS. It was somewhat of a love-hate relationship due to the gameís strict rules and reliance on luckÖ I mean, when youíre walking with powerful equipment that youíve spent hours working on, only to trip on a splinter and die on the last level (which will send you back to the beginning of the game at level 1, without any of your items or gold), itís easy to see how a person could go from zero to f*cking pissed in a second flat.

On the other hand, the joy of a game like Shiren is when all the variables fall into place and I actually succeed. Itís a mixture of about 40% skill and 60% luck, but when the game throws a terrible situation at me and I have both the tools and the experience to know how to deal with it, the rush is unlike anything Iíve ever experienced in any other game before or since. Shiren is the most difficult game Iíve ever played, and also one of the best, most rewarding games Iíve ever touched.

I wouldnít say that Shirenís developer, ChunSoft, isnít somewhat well-known for its bevy of roguelike games, but you and I would probably know them better as the developer of the first five Dragon Quest games. Iím not exactly sure why ChunSoft and the main Dragon Quest games parted ways, but since the fifth installment, they seem to have focused almost entirely on the roguelike genre with their line of Mystery Dungeon games (They've also made quite a few visual novels that have been quite successfull). Shiren is one of those, as is Torneko: The Last Hope.



Whatís funny about the Mystery Dungeon series as a whole is that, barring some differences in difficulty and a few very nuanced mechanics, theyíre all almost exactly the same. Iím talking palette swap here in the most literal of senses; take out Shiren and the mamels (Shirenís iconic level 1 monster), insert Torneko and a few slimes respectively, and you have a different Mystery Dungeon game. This isn't really a bad thing, it just means that you shouldn't feel like you have to experience every game in the Mystery Dungeon series; just stick to the brand you're most fond of.

In the case of Torneko: The Last Hope, I had a decidedly easier time than my first Mystery Dungeon game. Instead of a single tutorial dungeon like in Shiren, Torneko starts off with about eight practice dungeons to really ease you into the game's unique mechanics before tasking you with tackling the main game. For the most part, these dungeons were really, really easy. What was interesting to me, though, was that Torneko experimented with its game play in these dungeons very early on, as opposed to doing so in post-game content. The third dungeon, for example, had no weapons inside; only various herbs to be used in the place of weapons. It was a delight to alternate between beating weaker enemies using only my bare hands, and using herbs of paralysis & dance to merely get around fighting the stronger baddies. Another dungeon bypassed weaponry in favor of scrolls, and another for staves, all with the point of teaching you how to use items to your advantage.

And you really can use some items to your advantage! If you come across a monster that's too hard to fight, simply swing the Staff of Change at it and there's a good chance it transforms into a lowly Slime. If you happen to find yourself surrounded by monsters, use a Haven Scroll to stand on so that physical attacks will no longer hurt you and you can simply beat them all to death. If you spawn in a monster house full of powerful baddies, use a Bang Scroll or two (which sounds like an ancient condom, by the way. In Shiren, this was called a Blastwave scroll... much cooler sounding), to blow them to smithereens before they even have the chance to move and simply collect all the loot!

There are a billion other examples of how the right item at the right time can get you out of almost any bind, but the point is that as far as these games are concerned, experience points are no match for real experiences. And because of this, even though most Mystery Dungeon games have about an hour's worth of content in the main game, you'll likely spend an eternity with it learning how to make it work for you. In that sense, perhaps you could think of a Mystery Dungeon game like Contra: The RPG; yeah, you might die on the last level and return to the title screen, but who cares?! The game is 45 minutes long!



For me, there were two really memorable instances of Torneko's spelunking adventures that I probably shouldn't have survived but did through nothing more than pure, dumb luck. The first took place in the Lost Forest - one of the practice dungeons. This area introduced undead monsters like Horks and Skeletons, and what set them apart from other enemies was that, when you killed them, they would become a grave instead of simply dying and disappearing. If another undead creature happened to touch the headstone, the corpse would rise again. On the last floor of the dungeon, I found myself surrounded by undead monsters and I had a crappy weapon, no herbs, and no way to otherwise deal with these butt-holes. So, I made a break for it.

I had only a few HP, and ran around furiously trying to find the exit. Because the game is universally turn-based, the enemies had no choice but to follow me (they can only attack within one space). By the time I found the staircase leading out of the dungeon, I had a disgusting, undead congo-line eight monsters long following one step behind me. Occasionally, a Hork would catch up with me and barf on my equipment (which lowers the stats), so before long I had a sword and shield with negative attack power! What does that even mean?! A single wrong move would have put me six feet under, so I had to be really careful the whole way to take diagonal steps and dodge enemies, forcing them onto the trailing fly-paper of walking corpses. Moments like this are always so intense... my heart was pumping a mile-a-minute until I was back at home safe.

The second instance was on the 25th floor of the main dungeon (out of 27 floors total), where I spawned in a monster house overflowing with high-level demons and some seriously unfair enemies. From turn one, about seven Eyeballs (you know, that old-school DQ enemy that kinda looks like a cross between an ostrich, a cyclops, and an alien?) simultaneously cast Confuse on me. I had no way of dealing with the confusion, so I just had to hope for the best. When you get confused in Torneko, your controller inputs are randomly interpreted, so pressing left on the d-pad could send you left, right, up, or down. Similarly, an attack made in one direction rarely executed desirably. To make matters worse, I was starving to death, with only 8/100 hunger remaining.

I knew couldnít effectively deal with the monsters on this floor, so I tried to just head for the exit. But after every single turn, the seven Eyeballs would all recast Confuse on me! You can probably see where this is going, but I spent TWENTY-FIVE minutes randomly wandering the floor, stepping on traps & spikes, walking into dragons, and generally getting my ass kicked while those same, douche bag Eyeballs continually cast Confuse on me.

About fifteen minutes into this debacle, my hunger reached zero and my HP steadily dwindled as I starved to death. But thankfully, and not a moment too soon, I randomly happened upon a loaf of bread during my stupor that I proceeded to eat immediately. After another ten minutes of simply fumbling all over the place, I managed to end up at the exit and left the floor.

I strongly considered turning the damn thing off, but half-way through I decided to just see how long I could survive in that state. I used almost every healing resource I had, but hey, I made it! After that, I quickly made my way through floor 26, and moved onto the boss. The Darkevil was, believe it or not, pretty easy. I just used a Haven Scroll and, save for the occasional fire-breathing dragon, was completely untouchable. He eventually dropped dead, I placed the banish chest, and I was done!

And that, ladies and gents, is Torneko. There are several post-game dungeons that I could take a crack at, but I think Iím going to quit while Iím ahead; the post-game content in Shiren was hard enough to make me put down the game for good.

There are a few other things though that I wanted to mention just because I thought they were really cool. First, the opening movie in Torneko is, hands down, the brightest point in the gameÖ it isÖ fantastic. Watch it, youíll agree:



Second--and I know this shouldnít really matter-- the font type in Torneko freaking blew my mind! It was so bold and sharpÖ I didnít think you could do this on the PS1. In fact, why werenít more games this easy to read?! Dragon Quest VIIís, for example, looked like crap! Next, and most surprisingly, the majority of the soundtrack in Torneko is fully orchestrated. Once again, I know this is a novelty, but great music like this is something that Iíve always appreciated; it adds a lot of charm and goes a long way towards making you forgive other, less favorable parts of the game. It was probably my favorite part of Dragon Quest VIII.

OK, so thatís it! I didnít think Iíd be done so quickly, as this was supposed to carry me until Dragon Quest IX came out! I donít think Iíll play through another DQ game before that though; Iíll just sit tight, putter around with Picross 3D, and patiently wait for July 11th.

So has anyone else here played Torneko: The Last Hope? What did you think? How far did you get?

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~290 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours
T:TLH - ~15 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $294.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII, Torneko: TLH)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Seventeen: I Came, I Saw, I Beat Some Ass.

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One










Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Seventeen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued





So, hey, you wanna hear something crazy? You ready for this?






Thatís right. After almost eighteen months and three different home addresses, Dragon Quest VII is officially just another notch in my DQ belt. Itís almost hard to believe; the index for the walkthrough alone was so long and daunting I didnít think Iíd ever make it out alive. But here we areÖ

Yesterday, Iíd attempted for the first time to take on Orgodemir, and failed. It was a battle of attrition, and he just had the resources to outlast me. No matter though, I took a look at my partyís strengths and weaknesses, put together a loose strategy, and made a second attempt.



Orgodemir has four different phases, each on more deadly than the last. He means business from the very beginning, but by the third phase, heís dishing out attacks that take upwards of 150 HP from each teammate. My strategy was as follows:

- Have Ben cast Twin Hits (a spell that doubles attack power) on Gabo, Aira, and himself in that order.

- Have Gabo cast Magic Wall on the party, then start wailing on the boss.

- Have Melvin cast Heal Us on every single turn, unless no one is missing more than 100 HP. In that case, just attack.

- Have Aira sing War Song twice (a song that raises the partyís defense considerably), then start wailing on the boss.

- After Ben casts Twin Hits three times, start wailing on the boss.

And, really, this worked like a charm for the first three phases. He was dishing out heavy attacks, but couldnít keep up with Melvinís healing spells. And when thing got really heavy, I just had Ben stop attacking and join in with Melvin to heal.

The fourth phase is when thing really got good. I had been saving all of Gaboís MP for this part, and I just unloaded on him with five back-to-back Ultra Hits, which took a total of 2500 HP. Orgodemir didnít stand a chance. Gaboís Ultra Hits combined with the rest of the team using normal attacks brought Orgodemir to his knees in no time at all. At first I was a little shocked at how easy it was, but no wonder: I was at level 51.

In case youíre curious, here are my teamís ending stats:



With Orgodemir dead, I was transported to the Sky Fane, and then watched an ending that would rival that of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kingís. Seriously, this last part was almost an hour long. I guess it makes sense though; what better way to end a 100+ hour game?

The ending had me flying around in my weird egg-shaped ship again, stopping off at all the towns Iíd saved. It was a good refresher course, as it reacquainted me with all the various townsfolk throughout the world. When that was done, Ben returned to his hometown to rest for the night.

The next day, Ben sets out on his first voyage with his father, Borkano, and the credits begin rolling. The whole time, Iím wondering what the hell ever happened to Kiefer, but at the very end, as Borkano pulls of a net of fish, a stone shard with some writing on it falls out:

Dear Ben,

I'm still traveling with Layla and the Dejan tribe.

I don't even know how long it has been since you and I went our separate ways. Jann has yet to return.

As the guardian of tribe, the honor of marrying Layla fell to me.

If you find this, I want you to let my father know that his son finally found his way in this world.

And, Ben, I want you to know that we are friends no matter how far we are from each other.

Your friend,
Kiefer

I couldnít have asked for a better ending to this game.

And thus draws to a close the longest game Iíve ever played, by a long-shot.

So, whatís next? Thereís less than a month to go before Dragon Quest IX comes out, so if I play another DQ game beforehand, it would definitely have to be a spin-off.

I have two games in mind: Dragon Quest Swords for Wii, or Torneko: The Last Hope for the PS1. Suggestions?

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~275 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~105 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Sixteen: Running Scared with My Tail Between My Legs

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One










Back in September of 2008, I had the pleasure of playing my first proper Dragon Quest game with "Chapters of the Chosen" for the DS. After completing it, I couldn't help but wonder why I had never played a game in this series before. I'm always complaining about the gimmicks thrown into many modern games and how I'd want nothing more than to just play a modern RPG that stripped away all the nonsense and took things back to basics.

Well, Dragon Quest has been sitting right under my nose since I was in diapers. Not content to stop at the fourth game in the series, I've set out to acquire and play through every localized Dragon Quest title right up until I replay the fourth entry ... on the NES. I've spent months lurking around eBay, and I've amassed a complete collection that now only needs me to experience it.

If you've played any of the games I'll be talking about, I'd appreciate your comments as I don't know anyone locally who I can talk to about this wonderful series.

Part Sixteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued


It was harder than I thought it would be to get myself reacclimated with certain parts of Dragon Quest VII. I mean, sure, it was simple enough to get into battles and select commands, but I had to re-teach myself what spells work and which ones don't, which are effective against certain types of enemies, and so-on.

The story is especially fuzzy to me. I don't remember how I got the big 'ol pirate ship, I don't remember what the purpose of the Crystal Castle is anymore, I donít remember how I got the flying egg with windows, I don't remember where Maribel is, and I don't remember who Sharkeye is.. I'll have to Google a story summary or something...

Regardless, it wasn't too hard to point myself in the right direction for the final dungeon. Nearly in the middle of the map, there's a tiny island with a gigantic white tower that sticks out like a giant sore thumb. If you fly the ship directly over it, you'll automatically be transported to the top of the tower. The ominous music is what tipped me off that this is where I wanted to be. I slowly worked my way down the tower, fighting really difficult enemies along the way, until I made it all the way to the bottom floor. Once there, I found a gigantic, gaping hole in the middle of the floor. I jumped down to the poison lake belowÖ

Wow, the enemies here are a lot harder than I thought they would be! I leveled up so much, I thought I'd be invincible at this point. But these monsters were kicking my ass - I had to heal after almost every single battle! The place even looked brutal, what with the walls glowing neon colors, adorned with coiled tentacles and numerous blinking eyes... like something straight out of an HR Giger art exhibit.



You know, I remember the final dungeon from Dragon Quest VIII very wellÖ it was gigantic. It probably took me a couple of hours to work my way through it, with long, winding paths, huge set piecesÖ I think it even had a town in it. I kind of expected the same from this game, but the final dungeon was actually surprisingly short; I only had about five large rooms to tread through before I was face-to-face with the hideous Demon Lord, whose name I now remember: Orgodemir.

But, wait, let me back up. Admittedly, I didnít fight him the first time I went through the dungeon. Last night, I stood at the portal to his throne room, and chickened out, big time. My MP was already running low from all the fighting on the way there, and there was no way I could face him if I couldn't even heal myself. I ran all the way back up to the surface, got the very best equipment money could buy, and leveled my party up to 51. Only took me about three hours.



Gotta love those Metal King SlimesÖ

And so, back I went, the short trip through the dungeon to the portal, and this time, I stepped through. Turns out, stepping through completely restores you HP and MP. Go Figure. Orgodemir is, as Iím sure you could guess, kind of a douche. He starts off with an attack that takes 130 HP from each party member, and then doubles up on turns by taking an additional 150 HP from Aira. Ok.. itís clear that I have to designate a healer. I chose Melvin, since he dishes out the weakest attacks, and has tons of MP (Heís mastered Tamer and Healer). I had him using HealUs on each and every turn. Gabo was dishing out the most damage with UltraHit, which would shave off about 490 HP with each attack. Ben and Aira took turns psyching up and attacking, which combined to about 500 every other turn. I also had Aira occasionally sing WarSong, which raises the whole partyís defense by about 70 or so.

Things were going really good for a while, but by around the third phase, the plan started to fall apart. As Orgodemir took more damage, he would change his form and use even stronger attacks than before, Gabo had long ago stopped using UltraHit (It takes 20 MP per use, and Gabo only has 136 MP), Melvin was running out of MP as well, and Ben & Aira just werenít doing enough damage fast enough. Orgodemir was kicking ass, and I was running out of ideas. Unfortunately, I had to give up on Orgodemirís third phase and reset.

I watched a video on YouTube to see how someone else might have gone about this fight, but it wasnít very helpful for where Iím at (Itís pretty cool though, check it out. Heís done in about eight minutes!). Even though he was about seven levels lower than I am, his entire party had mastered the GodHand class, meaning they all had the aforementioned UltraHit skill that Gabo was using. So he was dishing out about 2000 HP per round, which is pretty respectable. At this point in the game, it would probably take an additional 12 hours or more for my whole party to master the GodHand class, so Iím going to have to go a different route, and use a bit more strategy.

I figure, if Orgodemirís attacks get more painful as the battle goes on, I should probably save Gaboís UltraHits for the last form of the battle, when I know I wonít be able to last very long. Until then, heíll join Ben & Aira in alternating between psyching up and attacking. Melvin will continue with the healing duties. Iíll use Ben from time-to-time to heal as well, since he has so much MP and nothing to use it on. Lastly, Iíll occasionally have Aira sing WarSong to buff up the partyís defenses. On paper, it looks good to me, but weíll see what happensÖ

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

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Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~273 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~103 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Fifteen: Poopsockin' it Through Eden

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One
CSI










The facts:

I've been playing Dragon Quest VII since March of 2009 (dangerously close to a year-and-a-half).

I last blogged about it in August (almost a year ago.)

In the aforementioned last blog, I was 52 hours in, and half-way through the game.

Currently, the game clock registers 98 hours, and I'm at the very last dungeon.

I have not played the game since October.

Part Fifteen:

Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden... continued




So, here's what happened: My then-fiancť went away to Vegas for her bachelorette party during the last weekend in October. Having already been playing the game for seven months at that point, I made a personal goal for myself to finish Disk One during that time. I ordered a pizza, turned on the TV, and got lost in DQVII's world like never before.



Well, in just a day and a half, I met my goal. But with still so much free time left, I continued on to Disk Two and, before I knew it, I was at the end of that, as well. All that remained at that point was to work my way through the last dungeon and finally kill the Demon Lord. Figuring I probably wasn't ready for that yet, I made my way to the fabled metal slime hunting grounds, a Dragon Quest staple, and proceeded to grind on the bastards for the following 12 hours. I brought my entire party (Ben, Melvin, Aira, and Gabo) up past level 45-or-so, and had them train under several different jobs along the way, until they all had master-class skills, as well as healing abilities. I had a team of highly trained killers at my disposal, and I was now fully ready to tackle the last dungeon and beat some Demon Lord ass.

Well, that was about eight months ago... since then, I got married, moved into a dingy downtown studio apartment, started looking for houses, bought a house, and then moved into said house. Really though, that had nothing to do with me not playing Dragon Quest VII. No, you could probably chalk that up to me buying a PS3; a shiny distraction that has demanded so much of my free time since I bought it that, for a while, it completely eclipsed my mission of playing the Dragon Quest series. Beautiful games like Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, Dead Space (I don't have a 360), and Demon's Souls had introduced me to a whole new world of gaming, and to be honest, I just kind of forgot about Dragon Quest VII for a while.

But, holy crap, turns out Dragon Quest IX is getting released over here in just over a month. As much as I've enjoyed VII, I don't want to be playing the game forever, so I'm making a promise to myself to finish this great but way-too-long game before the next sequel shows up here in the states.

I've only got one dungeon left... how hard could it be?

My memory is admittedly a bit fuzzy, but here is what I experienced eight months ago:

Disk Two really brought things back for me with Dragon Quest VII. I wasnít getting bored with the game, per se, but working my way down the never-ending list of towns that needed saving did seem a little stale at times. I had gotten into such a rhythm with the game (collect enough shards Ė visit town Ė diagnose issue Ė find demon Ė kill demon Ė watch town flourish Ė look for more shards), that regardless of whatever crazy calamity had ailed whatever town, the overall adventure was a bit predictable.

But enter Disc Two, and the gameóeven though still predictableóoffered a familiarity that I was much more content with. It became the Dragon Quest I know and love; I no longer had any shards to gather, I more or less forgot about the past versions of the worlds Iíd visited, restrictions on learning classes were removed, and Iíd finally found a spot to hunt for metal slimes. And, as I mentioned earlier, boy, did I ever go hunting.



I spent twelve hours looking for metal slimes, and climbed 14 levels as a result. Iím not exactly sure what it is about this part in all the Dragon Quest games that I like so muchÖ but I think it has something to do with the metal slimeís elusiveness. Itís rare youíll run into one, and if you do, itís rare you be able to land a hit on him before he high-tails it outta there! There arenít a lot of things more gratifying than running into eight metal slimes at once, and being lucky enough to dispatch every single one of them. Same goes for coming across the fabled king metal slime.

Speaking of king metal slimes, itís not like they were common by any means, but I gotta say, I ran into more of them in this game than in every other Dragon Quest game Iíve played combined. The gameís bestiary says Iíve slain about 20 of them. I think I ran into one once while playing VIII, but didnít even mange to scratch him before he escaped. Theyíre so rare that, really, Iím not even sure there were any in IV or VÖ So even though 20 is a pretty small number, for me, itís like saying that I saw a bald eagle wrestle a ring-tailed lemur for a Slim-JimÖ twice.

The best part of Disk Two was how it broke up the pacing. Because I no longer had to worry about shards, the game presented the task of locating four spirits so they could summon God. While this still sounds like just another seek and solve mission, some of the places I visited along the way were pretty damn cool, not the least of which was SkyTown.



This place certainly reminded me of another game Iíve played before (see caption), but the real reason it stuck out so much is because itís one of the only times throughout this huge adventure that the developers really took advantage of the fact that they were working in 3D. I mean, yes, most of the game is in 3D, but most of its set pieces just seemed like a reluctant and meager upgrade from its 2D counterpartsóa pop-up book novelty, if you will. SkyTown was special in that it did something that 2D couldnít.

Iím sure you can figure it out from the picture, but SkyTown took place on a geometric shape that would twist and turn as you walked around it. It was a real treat to navigate. Even better, though, was the dungeon associated with this part of the game, which took place in some other, weird dimension. Same idea, but used the 3D navigation to an even greater effect, which made for some pretty awesome puzzles.

Anyway, when all that was done, and I awakened the four spirits, they summoned God:



Wow.

Okay, next up, I reacquaint myself with a game I havenít played in eight months, and I beat the sh*t out of it! Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ben

-----

Total elapsed time across entire Dragon Quest series: ~268 hours -

IV DS - ~30 hours
VIII - ~70 hours
I NES - ~20 hours
DQM:J - ~20 hours
V DS - ~30 hours
VII - ~98 hours

Total amount of money spent on Dragon Quest Series: $259.00 (IV, VIII twice, slime controller, I, I & II GBA, Joker, V DS, V SFAM, VII)


For the past Dragon Questing blogs, click the links below:


:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VII:

Dragon Questing Part Fourteen: Groundhog Day

Dragon Questing Part Thirteen: I am 100% Addicted to the Dharma Temple

Restoring the Planet: Dragon Questing, Part Twelve

Meet the Warriors of Eden: Dragon Questing, Part Eleven

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest V:

No Wonder Everyone Loves This Game: Dragon Questing, Part Ten

Coming to America Sans Eddie Murphy: Dragon Questing, Part Nine

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker:

I Guess They Can't All Be Gold: Dragon Questing, Part Eight

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest I:

Returning the Ball of Light: Dragon Questing, Part Seven

Getting a Grip on a Classic: Dragon Questing, Part Six

Going Back in Time: Dragon Questing, Part Five

:::::::::: From Dragon Quest VIII:

The conclusion of an Epic: Dragon Questing, Part Four

Discovering the Monster Arena: Dragon Questing, Part Three

How to Give a Boy a Heart: Dragon Questing, Part Two

Meeting the Cursed King: Dragon Questing, Part One
CSI