Hi, Castle is the handle, and welcome to my blog. Here, you'll find me talking about the awesomeness of everything that is awesome, namely myself. I'll sprinkle a little somethin' about games and other nerdy crap from time to time—probably. I can't make any promises. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing!
Star Ocean: The Second Story is one of those games I have a love/hate relationship with. It’s like being in a romantic relationship with an idiot that gives you great sex, and it took me nearly a decade to actually realize how much of a ditz Star Ocean 2 really was. Why, the realization hit me while I was playing it a few days ago, actually.
When I fired up the ol’ PSX and popped the game in, all I could think of was how much fun I was going to have. I remembered spending hours upon hours grinding for levels, Skill Points, and Proficiency for my Killer Moves. Star Ocean 2’s combat system is extensive, and does a great job at keeping you entertained throughout the many battles you’ll have. Not to mention the “Skills” feature, which is unnecessary, but fun to tinker with. This is tri-Ace’s specialty, after all. However, once I started getting into the story its stupidity started coming at me en masse.
I’m playing as the Earthling Claude, just arriving on an alien planet called Expel (through some means that is never really explained) in time to save Rena – the co-protagonist – from a monster. After slaying the creature, Claude and Rena begin talking. I don’t think you read me. I said that Claude, the Earthling, and Rena, the Expelian start having a comprehensive conversation. How? Fuck how. It’s never explained. Does Claude possess some sort of translator? If so it’s never mentioned, and the gamer is left wondering. It bothered me, but I decided to ignore it. Adult Castle wasn’t going to ruin Teen Castle’s memories, god damn it.
I soon learned that the nonexistent language barrier wasn’t the only hole though. There’s a crap load more where that came from, and the game’s writer and director don’t seem to fucking care. Another example, Energy Nede is a 700 Million year old civilization that uses endangered animals to travel by sea and air. This civilization had ruled the galaxy once upon a time, and they don’t have airships or boats or submarines? What the hell?
The dialogue is horrendous. I mean, even by Shonen standards it’s bad. Aside from typical cornballery, the characters have this terrible habit of echoing whatever an NPC tells them while the NPC is trying to explain something, ruining the pace of the scene and making you wish you could enter the game and summon the Knights of the Round. Don’t get me started on when the characters try to get philosophical. It’s fucking laughable.
Not to mention the characters just aren’t worth caring for. Their actions and the things they say are fucking absurd most of the time. New characters join your party with unclear or nonexistent motiviations. One character abandoned his wife and business to join Claude and Rena simply because he wanted to have an adventure. How did his wife take it? Pretty fucking well. She was upset, sure, but she knew that he wouldn’t just abandon her out of the blue unless he was “serious” (I shit you not). That, and he porked her before he left.
Private Actions are there to flesh out the characters a bit; however, they don’t do much for characterization except make you hate the characters more. And, as I’ve mentioned before, the dialogue is horrible, and that’s all Private Actions are. Every time the option for a Private Action appears, it feels like the “Does this make me look fat?” question that will bring me pain no matter what kind of answer I provide.
The plot gets weaker as the game carries on. I won’t spoil, but this game has a habit of causing the characters intense pain and suffering, only to cop out at the last minute. It’s fucking irritating.
Still... I have spent 22 hours on that game. Yes, 22 fucking hours, because the “sex” is sooo good. I had told my cousin that I “probably hate Star Ocean 2,” and he replied, “Dude, you hated it way back then. You had like 80-plus hours invested, and you were complaining the entire time.” And he was fucking right. 15-year-old Castle was in an abusive relationship with Star Ocean 2, but the sex was awesome, so he pocketed all the pain the game had caused him in the recesses of his mind.
*Sniff* Fuck Star Ocean: The Second Story. While I’m at it, fuck Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, too (that’s a whole ‘nother blog, man).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to grinding in the Minhe Cavern so Claude and his party can finally reach level 90.
Some of you that follow this sorry excuse for a blog may wonder where I keep heading off. Others could give two shits. Well, to the curious, I've been off working on my music career, as well as a comic series (two, actually). Life has been pretty busy, so bear with me friends.
I don't have much to say today other than that. No gaming news to grace with my orgasm-inducing commentary or gushing (are those two one in the same?), so...I think this will be it for now. I should be getting back into the groove of writing, soon. I just need to find something to inspire me is all.
Since the release of Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there's been a bit of backlash from the franchise's dedicated fanbase, saying that the game is too easy, and offers very little to set it apart from the rest of the series. Well, quite frankly, I'm a little bit confused.
This game is motherflippin' awesome.
As one of the members of aforementioned dedicated fanbase, I can honestly say that MVC3 is pretty much the game I'd hoped it would be. It's great looking, there's a great character selection (smaller than MVC2, and larger than MVC1), and the gameplay has been re-done while still maintaining the familiarity of the previous games. So, when I'd finally picked up the game after hearing so much crap from like-minded gamers, I was baffled beyond all reason. What more do fans want?
The "Versus" series, on the Capcom side, has never been exactly a technical game like, say, the Street Fighter games. Attacks can link seamlessly with others, creating MARVELOUS!, devastating combos that will make you feel like a gaming god, and your opponent like a lowly peasant with a bum leg screaming, "but I was blocking! That's bullshit!" There, there, asshole. You just suck. Anyway.
Is that the problem? For me, executing a regular 10 hit combo in MVC3 is just as easy pulling off one in MVC2. You might have to put a little more effort into pulling one off in MVC1, but the difficulty is essentially the same. I used to get so angry when some ten year old would fuckbeat me by mashing buttons in X-Men vs. Street Fighter. I'd get even angrier, though, when some other guy pops in and floors the button-masher like an insect, because that guy knows what the fuck they're doing.
Difficulty and button-mashing aren't the problem, so what is? Did my fellow gamers want another MVC2 with 3D graphics and different characters? Well, that would have been just silly. Especially since we've been waiting for the third game for, like, fifty years. Perhaps it's--*GASP* I think I know what it is!
It's the fucking music.
It's this weak ass techno/metal soundtrack that makes you want to cringe and slap small children in the teeth. For example, as I write this the Hero Select screen is idle with that horrendous music playing in the background. What makes it worse is they tossed in that unforgettable "I wanna take you for a ride!" lyric from the previous game, but it only makes you want to kick a hole in your television.
What Marvel vs. Capcom 3 needs is what Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had--motherfucking Jazz.
That's right. That's why no one can really concentrate like they need to, because there's not a single Jazz fusion song on its soundtrack. You know what, I take this entire article back. I'm sorry for questioning you guys. Carry on.
Sorry I couldn't post a neat little header like I usually do. I'm currently not at home with Photoshop and, well, yeah.
Just like any gamer, I want every game I hear about to be good. I want that game to make love to my brain. I want to feel like the dough I coughed up was well spent. The last thing I need is for games to suck.
The media on Max Payne 3 makes me queasy, though. Remedy selling the Intellectual Property to Rockstar Games, for instance. Sure, Rockstar makes great games, but the narrative of their games tend to be muted. I'm not confident they will aim for the pulp noir atmosphere of the two games preceding it, either. Which is fine, but that's what I want from a game called Max Payne.
This is just speculation. I know nothing about the game, aside from it being set in Brazil. I have no clue how cleverly they've connected it to the previous games, or how well they've translated Remedy's game play style into their own. I suppose I'll have to reserve judgment.
Still, it fucking scares me.
To illustrate another example that inspired my irritable bowel syndrome, Kotaku reported that the Max Payne 3 devs were sent to Brazil to soak up the vibe. Ha. It's an effective method, I suppose, but I can't help but wonder if Brazil is the primary reason for the drastic setting change.
Dev One: “Alright, Max Payne 3 setting. Where do we want to snort blow off a skank's ass?”
Dev Two: “France?”
Dev Three: “No, Brazil. They got fuckin' trannies there.”
Dev One: “It's decided!”
Jokes aside, I really want this game to be good, but I won't get my hopes up. You probably shouldn't either.
Hi. Fuck that arcade X-Men game on PSN and XBL. There, I said it.
Oh, don't give me that look. You know it had to be said. Hell, I'm willing to bet you're thinking the exact same thing. Remember when you bought it—no, remember when you saw it? That nice, polished Ad that popped up in the PlayStation Store or X-Box Live? Yeah ... you creamed your pants, too. Sucker.
So you paid the "measley" ten bucks for it because, well, you want to support the culture, and you also want to relive your childhood memories on the awesomeness that is your elaborate gaming setup. Sure, you could have just as easily downloaded the game for free and played it on a MAME emulator, but you're too good for that. So you bought the damn game.
You were excited. You even called up a few dudes. "Hey, remember that X-Men game we used to play at Putt-Putt? Dude, I know, it was awesome! I have it! Come on over!"
Your friends came over with Funyuns and Four Lokos. You even cracked a Loko open for yourself, because you enjoy punishing your body as well as your self-esteem. Then you and your pals picked up your controllers and fired the game up. It's time, baby. Fuckin' X-Men.
You noticed that the only thing in "High-definition" were the goddamn life bars, and that the screen wasn't even fullscreen, but you disregarded that and fell back into the game. You remembered this game being awesome, after all. Man, it sure does feel good seeing Nightcrawler teleport all over the screen, right? Haha!
You conquered that bitch in ten minutes, and you and your friends just stared at each other, lost.
"You, uh ... you feel like playing again?" You asked.
"What the fuck was that, man?" Your chubby friend said.
The rest of your friends joined in on Tubby's "WTFs," and then you felt like an idiot for spending ten bucks to relive ten minutes of nostalgia. So now the game sits on your console's harddrive, taking up space, because you refuse to delete it on the principle that you fucking paid for it. It sits in your games folder, and when you highlight it you find all of the X-Men there with sardonic expressions.
Then you notice the blond-haired Dazzler in the front, her arms folded, smiling, staring back at you as if to say, "I just got the test results back, and I'm pregnant. You'll never get rid of me. We're having hooker babies."
You snap yourself out of your schizophrenic trance, then you pop in Red Dead Redemption and utter—
You know, I play a crap load of video role-playing games, of all types, from Final Fantasy to Elder Scrolls. I don't discriminate. I frickin' love 'em, and probably always will. However, while playing through some RPGs recently, I realized that there was something missing. Something that my geeky little heart ached for—the goddamn role-play.
The thing that attracted me to video game RPGs in the first place was the inclination of role-play. I was so amped at the thought of assuming a character in a virtual world, and playing through a story that could be shaped through my actions. So, imagine Young Castle's surprise when he picked up Chrono Trigger for the first time and realized that instances of actual role-play were infrequent, and on such a bantam scale.
Don't misunderstand. Young Castle loved the hell out of Chrono Trigger, but what he really wanted to do was get an in-depth role-playing experience. Instead, he got a (somewhat) linear plot-driven game that merely used D&D as the foundation of its combat system.
Where is the role-play in the role-playing game? Why are there so few role-playing games that grant me the power to shape my character's physical appearance, personality, and quite possibly the outcome of the plot?
Where is the immersion?
I suppose it's why I am so attracted to franchises like Mass Effect that place an emphasis on role-playing, and less emphasis on a complex combat system. Hell, as far as I'm concerned Mass Effect is one of the few video games that live up to the “RPG” name, which really frickin' sucks.
What sucks even more is seeing games practically made for actual role-playing, like WoW or FFXI, contain very little role-play. The “RP” groups are terribly small, and are often ridiculed for doing what the developers intended for them to do.
It's not surprising, though. The primary focus in most video games is the system, after all. Gamers (not excluding pen-and-paper gamers) go nuts at the prospect of creating a powerful character and dominating their environment. You would be astounded by the amount of time and energy I poured into making my Tabletop RPG character, simply to make him a FORCE in the world he lived in.
Still, I want to role-play. Pen-and-paper games are awesome and fun and exciting, but I am a video gamer as well, and I'd like to see awesomeness of pen-and-paper games work harmoniously with the virtual world. I could be asking for too much, though.
Here's an interesting question: should games that feature little to no role-play be called “RPGs”? For example: are the DragonQuest and Diablo games role-playing games, or simply dungeon crawlers?
While you answer that, I'm going to play Tales of Destiny. =Þ
Don't be put off by the Jim Sterling joke. I think he's awesome.