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8:40 AM on 08.17.2015

RPG Maker Workshop 01: What to expect as an RPG Making Newb

I asked about it, you* asked for it, and here it is. Welcome to the pilot episode of the RPG Maker Workshop, brought to you by JoyfulSanity.com and Destructoid.com**

*By "you" I mean a couple people this one time.

**Destructoid doesn't even know I'm writing this.

First of all, who am I and do I even have the credentials to teach RPG Maker.

As some of you may have read here or there, I have a long and storied history with RPG Maker. My first experience with RPG Maker was all the way back in the year 2000 with its first English release on the Playstation, and by first experience I mean I played Gobli's Adventure a lot and danced around when I finally made something playable. I started using the PC RPG Maker titles in 2003 by using, well, RPG Maker 2003. From there I lived and breathed RPG Maker, and that's how I got my start with posting on internet forums.

I wasn't a celebrity in the RPG Maker community at large or anything, but I was considered a "vet" on GameFAQs. I served as a mod on a large RPG Maker website, and I was even a review editor and administrator of a small site that unfortunately has since changed hands and is now defunct. I was well known for a couple of games that sadly were actually super bad and stupid, which is the only reason I don't link them here as samples of my work. More importantly, I played an absolute boatload of RPG Maker games, and I was even involved in the creation of a few tutorials and a couple "starter packs" that contained sample code for aspiring game makers to use. My activity in the community fizzled out around 2008, as at the time I felt the RPG Maker community had become too toxic and I was heading off to college anyway.

I say all this only in part to toot my own horn, but I also want to frame the perspective I'm going to offer. My experience with RPG Maker is primarily with the older editions, and I reflect a mindset that learned RPG Maker in the years prior to its official English release. Nowadays, there are tons of official tutorials and scripts that will help you build your game exactly the way you like it, but back in my day things weren't so easy.

Rather than wax nostalgic, let's move on to more important things.  

So, you just got RPG Maker. It's time for a pep talk.

And I mean it. Whether you got any iteration of RPG Maker in a humble bundle, or you just picked it up on sale recently, you now have your hands on one of the most beginner friendly game creation programs on the face of the planet. That said, if you don't want to crash and burn before you even stop dreaming of your ultimate Dark Souls X Hatoful Boyfriend RPG, then listen up.

As user friendly and awesome as any RPG Maker program is, you're not going to be making master-class RPGs right off the bat. In fact, even if you set your expectations low, you likely won't even complete your first, second, third, or even fourth game you make with it. Even with the numerous tutorials that will show you the basics, the best way to learn RPG Maker is through sheer attrition.

Think of learning RPG Maker in the same way you would play an MMORPG. You probably got into the game with dreams of overcoming insurmountable challenges and making your name known across the land, but you're going to have to start out small. By accepting small quests with easily accomplished goals, you'll learn new skills and gradually learn your strengths and weaknesses. The grind to the endgame will be long and brutal, but it's a trap to think that the game starts at endgame. By enjoying and taking in your leveling process, you'll grow to be more incredible than you ever thought you could be, and you'll be entering that endgame when you're good and ready.

Understand that you'll be seeing incredible games made with RPG Maker that employ advanced mapping techniques and unique game engines, but your first few games may wind up looking like this:

That's okay though, that's to be expected from a new user! Don't worry so much about making the perfect game at this stage. What's important now is getting your feet wet with the program, and just doodling and having fun is your best possible course of action. Remember, RPG Maker isn't about being a celebrity, RPG Maker is about being a game designer without programming knowledge.

Yes, I'd like to take a second to reiterate this. Do not purchase RPG Maker with the intention of making money off of your games. Let me be clear: I have no problem with RPG Maker games being sold commercially, as professional quality games have certainly been created with it. The problem is when game creators clearly put the cart before the horse. Buying game making software to make money leads to garbage like Victim of Xen and The Slaughtering Grounds, and neither of us want you to be the person behind those. Make games because doing so is an exciting process for you, and then eventually you may have the skills with which to produce a professional quality game.

In summary: the first step of RPG Making is to have fun. Don't worry, if you someday get super serious and take on an ambitious project, you'll have loads of opportunities to not have fun later.

I also highly recommend playing other RPG Maker games, especially ones made in the same version of the program you are using. To go back to the MMORPG analogy, you can play solo and have a good time, but it doesn't compare to making friends and helping each other achieve common goals. Playing even the most amateur RPG Maker games can help you realize what the program is capable of, and these games will help you develop a sense of what to do and what not to do as you move forward with your own projects. If you need a place to start, Destructoid's own Marche100 has released two games based on the site, and I'm sure he'd love to hear your feedback.

And finally, to all of those who may tell you that RPG Maker is an awful program that produces bad games - screw those people. RPG Maker is a tool, not a generator. It's up to the designer to make a good game, and using RPG Maker doesn't not inhibit that goal in any way. As a wise man once said, "Never give up, trust your instincts."

That's it for this episode of RPG Maker Workshop! Tune in next time where I'll discuss the pros and cons of each edition of the program, and let me know what kinds of topics you'd like me to cover in the comments!

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10:02 AM on 08.12.2015

I have found the greatest RPG character of all time.

Look at this guy.

I'm not even an hour into Covenant of Solitude, and I am floored. Not because the game itself is that great (it seems pretty mediocre so far), but because little did I expect to see the classiest man in the world fight alongside my protagonist on his quest for redemption.

I can't even handle it. Look at this guy.

While everyone else faces the player and waves their arms around to indicate how proud they are of winning the battle, this guy's just sitting at the bottom all like "ah, what a jolly old time that was, mayhaps I fancy a crumpet and tea over the carcasses of my opponents."

Here's what really gets to me though. I haven't been calling this guy "Rod" because he's actually one of many generic monsters that you create at the beginning of the game to fill out your party. That's right, Covenant of Solitude follows the Final Fantasy I "make your party" formula for the most part, so it's not like classy tophat guy has some ridiculous backstory to justify his appearance. In fact, it's even better; he's one of an entire race of classy tophat people.

Sure, the game calls them vampires, but there is literally nothing about the class that indicates that they suck blood or do anything that even relates to vampire lore. You can also see how the other monster types might actually qualify as being monsters in some fashion, but "vampires" have absolutely no animal features that would make them particularly stand out among actual humans. In other words, aside from pointy ears (in a fantasy game where pointy ears are not exactly uncommon mind you), the only unifying trait of this race is being generally good at magic and dressing fantastically. This is a world I want to live in, and no one can convince me otherwise.

I don't care what developer Magitek is working on right now, because they absolutely must make a game centered around the majesty of this character. Whether you call it Tophat Adventures, Grand Hat Fantasma, or Gentleman of the Heavens and Earth-Depths, I promise to preorder it and/or back it on kickstarter. Though part of me is sad that Covenant of Solutude probably won't have any other characters that draw this reaction out of me, I for one commend the artists for creating such a magical character. Spread the word. #IStandWithTophats

Fun fact: I originally drafted this up to try out quickposting because I thought they could be miniblogs. I was sorely mistaken and I haven't stopped crying.

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1:13 PM on 07.28.2015

The FFXIV vs. TESO debate, settled once and for all

What do you get when two MMORPGs based on two giant RPG franchises are launched within less than a year of each other?

Arguments. Lots and lots of arguments. The ongoing debate over whether Final Fantasy XIV or The Elder Scrolls Online is the superior MMORPG has become so fierce and so common that you'd think there are no other MMORPGs on the market. With the official console release of The Elder Scrolls Online launching within a month of the Final Fantasy XIV expansion Heavensward, the fires of the argument have reignited with increased fervor as fans unceasingly fight to the internet-death in honor of their favorite franchises.

Now that I have played both games for myself, I can indeed confirm, once and for all... that this debate makes about as much sense as comparing Final Fantasy X to Morrowind.

On a fundamental level, Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online are radically different games.

I'll be frank, I went into The Elder Scrolls Online under the impression that it wouldn't have a lot in common with Final Fantasy XIV, a game that I like quite a bit in case you didn't know. Even with that pretense, I was shocked at how dissimilar the two games are. To demonstrate, let's look at a few foundational features of each game.

Combat:

Final Fantasy XIV uses "tab-targeting" found in MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. It's not uncommon for players to have more than 30 skills on their hotbars, many comboing off of each other and relying on relative position to the enemy. Macros are often utilized by the playerbase.

The Elder Scrolls Online plays like an action RPG, with simple point and shoot controls. All players have dedicated light and heavy attacks, as well as a block command and slots for up to 12 skills. Macros are only possible through third party addons.

Character Progression:

Final Fantasy XIV lets players swap between all available job classes on one character. Stats and abilities are by and large determined by the job class with only a few stat points and "cross class" skills to allocate. Tank/Healer/DPS role is predetermined by each job class.

The Elder Scrolls Online locks player characters into one of four classes upon creation. Players earn skill points through leveling up and finding "skyshards" throughout the world. Players can invest points into skills learned from weapons, armor, guilds, world skills (crafting, thieving), and each class' individual skill trees. Every class is capable of performing Tank/Healer/DPS roles.

Factions:

Final Fantasy XIV starts new players in one of three cities depending on their initial class. All paths converge into one story early in the adventure, and players pick a city's "grand company" to join around level 20. Grand companies primarily determine PvP alliance and can be changed by spending ingame gil.

The Elder Scrolls Online locks players into one of three factions depending on their race. Each faction has a unique storyline; travel to other faction territories is forbidden until the core faction storyline is completed.

Crafting:

Final Fantasy XIV features a myriad of crafting recipes for each of its crafting classes. An item's success of being crafted and its quality are determined by a small crafting minigame that utilizes skills learned by each crafting class. Crafting classes have their own gear sets as well.

The Elder Scrolls Online features passive crafting skill lines, but no dedicated classes. Each item has a 100% success rate of being crafted, and the level of each item depends on how many materials are used in making it. Crafted items can then be enhanced to increase in quality, with success rates similarly influenced by how many materials are used.

And the list goes on. There are numerous additional talking points, but you probably get the picture.

In a way, none of this should be that surprising. Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls are poster children for jRPGs and wRPGs respectively, so MMORPGs that channel the traits of their heritage will naturally turn out wildly different. What this does mean, however, is that debate between the two comes almost entirely down to preference. While comparisons between the two games can be made, it has become quickly apparent to me that both games target different audiences and cater to them accordingly.

Both of these games have the right to coexist in the game industry, and we should be happy that they do.

Competition is good for the consumer, and that applies as much to videogames as it does economics.

If there's one outstanding similarity between Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online, it's that both were not favorably reviewed at launch. Both then went on to make radical changes leading to a rebranding, which then led to critical acclaim and greater respect among gamers. If either of these games had a monopoly on the MMORPG market available on current generation consoles, it's entirely possible they could have gotten by doing much less.

Some gamers are quick to say that Final Fantasy XIV should drop its subscription fees and stop being "greedy," and others will say that The Elder Scrolls Online has already died because it lost its mandatory subscription fees. Claims like these completely undermine the reality that gamers have two new, exciting, big-name MMORPGs to choose from, and each offers gamers unique experiences and caters to different needs. That, my friends, is awesome.

In an industry that likes to oversell promises of innovation while putting out the same old thing over and over again, we should be happy that Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online are so different. We should want these games to do well. It doesn't mean that you have to like both of them. In fact, it doesn't even mean you should play both of them. But at the very least, we shouldn't be wishing for the death of either of them.

As it stands, I'm enjoying The Elder Scrolls Online, and I feel I've gotten my money's worth out of it. I also have enjoyed Final Fantasy XIV for many months and believe it to have been absolutely worth the subscription fees. It feels great to play videogames and enjoy them for what they are, and respecting others for playing what they enjoy feels even greater. And if nothing else, fans of both series can find unity in addressing how I am a traitor of both franchises by writing this blog.

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12:51 PM on 07.26.2015

I'm back, and I made my own website too!

Have you ever been away from home for a really long time? Do you know that warm fuzzy feeling of seeing old friends and family for a week after being away for months at a time? That's kind of how I feel writing this post.

It's good to be home Dtoid.

Alright, maybe I haven't been totally afk for 2015. I've still managed to sneak in a few posts here and there, and I did post a couple blogs while I was at it. Still, that's a pretty minimal amount of involvement compared to the past couple of years, and I'm hoping that my silly green face will be appearing more frequently throughout the site.

So what have I been doing this year, you may ask? I'm glad you asked.

First things first, www.joyfulsanity.com now exists.

Yes, that's right, I am now the proud owner of my very own website, filled to the brim with my original content that I have printed - and will print - on the web.

Let me be clear: this website is currently 100% out-of-pocket and is no way a competitor to Destructoid or any other gaming blog. As I say in my opening post, I will continue to write Destructoid community blogs and shape my content accordingly. Beyond this post, I don't want to get spammy in advertising it unless it makes sense in the context of my writing.

That said, I sincerely hope you all check it out. Putting this together has been a labor of love, and I've even gone through and re-edited and updated all my articles to fit with my current standards. If you loved my opinions on All The Bravest, then you'll love my new expanded edition of the post! It's like getting an HD remake without having to spend 30 bucks on something you already experienced!

Seriously though, I'm prepping a lot of content to populate the site in the upcoming weeks, and I really hope you all enjoy it. And if you like what I'm doing, you could even... subscribe.

I did it. I asked for a subscription. I have officially crossed over.

That game my avatar is from has risen from the dead! Kind of!

I have been waiting long for the day when I can write a post proclaiming "my game, Driving Shadows, is finally available for download!" That day probably won't be coming anytime soon, but it has gotten a slight bit closer.

Okay, yes, it's just an RPG Maker 2000 game that dates back a generous amount of years at this point, but a chance reigniting of creative fires with its other devs has resurrected the project and put it back in development. Sure, it's a bit of a slow burn, but it feels great to be working on it again.

For my part, I recently went through the entire script with a fine tooth comb to do some editing and revision. Many hours were spent running my dialogue through an external tool that fits text into RM2K's textboxes, only to find that RPG Maker 2000 would get an official English release that is actually equipped to tell you that right in the editor. I am equal parts happy and sad.

I beat Final Fantasy XIV.

Yup, that's right, I finished the whole game. I did everything and have no reason to go back.

"JoyfulSanity, you beat an mmo?"

I certainly did.

"But even the best FFXIV players in the world haven't cleared Alexander Savage yet, how could you-"

DO YOU WANT ME TO WRITE BLOGS OR NOT!?

Real life stuff

You know your year is off to a dynamite start when your grandmother falls and breaks her hip a month into it. You also know your grandmother is a badass when she's miraculously on her feet and walking four months later. Sure, she needs help going out of the house, but still.

I joke about it now but it has actually been pretty stressful. Not even in a "wow I'm so worried and stressed" way, but seeing your whole family scramble and disrupt their lives to figure out what to do from here on out is pretty taxing. A lot of responsibilities fell from one person to another pretty quickly, and before I knew it I was marathoning roadtrips all around the northeastern part of the United States just to do all I needed to do.

More recently, my dog that I've had since I was 12 years old was put to sleep during the same week that Iwata passed. Yes, it left me sad as hell, but it also kind of hit me that I'm not a kid anymore. I figured I can either mourn what I could only see as the death of my childhood or finally embrace the difficulties that come with adulthood at the ripe old age of 26, and I want to ride that momentum of motivation for as far as it takes me.

It's the most jRPGy optimistic outlook on life that I can think of, really, and I'm not planning to change my name to PityPartySanity anytime soon. In truth, I debated whether I wanted to include these details in this blog, but if my silly little epiphanies and triumphs have any chance at helping someone else inadvertently, then it's worth including. I want to be there for those who care about me, and I don't want to lose myself in the process.

So I guess all I'm trying to say is to stay strong, keep your chin up, and make sure to subscribe to joyfulsanity.com for all the latest DAMN IT I'M ALREADY SPAMMING IT.

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9:42 AM on 06.20.2015

Let's objectively talk about Heavensward. (WARNING: 100% objective)

I had it all figured out yesterday.

I had most of the day set aside to play the brand new Final Fantasy XIV expansion Heavensward, and I was ready to binge on it until I saw enough to write up a comprehensive first impressions blog. Then along comes Chris Carter - the man who is at least 70% machine - who not only manages to write two articles about the Heavensward launch, but also was able to make it even further into the game than I was even able to get after continuing into the wee hours of the night. This makes me almost as angry as seeing a game in my most beloved franchise get a 6.5 on a major gaming website.

So rather than talk about the content of the expansion and what it brings to the table, I decided to do an in-depth analysis of what makes Heavensward enjoyable. As always, I am literally the most factual person on the internet and am known to singlehandedly cease online controversies with my irrefutable and subjective opinions. Do not read this blog if you are unable to procure a Pulitzer Prize to impulsively send me upon finishing.



Number 1: Look at this onion.

Do you see that onion? It is lovingly rendered and is the reward for helping a guy bring chocobo feed to the otherside of the town. Oh, and prior to the expansion it was only one of the most valuable items in the game.

To explain, a Thavnairian Onion is an item used to enable your chocobo to break the level cap. Being that this is an item with high demand and some players don't even have the means to obtain one, it was common to see onions go for upwards of half a million gil on the market board. To be fair, this isn't an unreasonable amount of gil by Final Fantasy XIV endgame standards, but either way it's an amount that requires some dedicated saving to even afford. Oh, and if you have dreams of grinding your chocobo to the "true" level cap, you're going to need ten of those bad boys.

Then along comes one of the first sidequests in Heavensward in which a guy goes "Hallo thar, walk for five minutes because I'm lazy" and then you just get one of these items unceremoniously. It's like the game is saying "yeah, no big deal, we're just going to blow your mind and everything you know just for giggles. Enjoy the expansion."

Seriously, damn.

Point Two: Holy crap these maps.

I've merely traveled to the two starting areas of Heavensward, and they're individually as big as any two zones in A Realm Reborn put together. The scale is so intense that even walking to that little red circle in the screenshot isn't a quick jaunt to get to. It's that big.

I look forward to exploring these wide open zones and uncovering all the secrets that lie within them, but at the same time it's not all a bed of roses. For example, let's say the shortest distance between you and your destination requires you to jump off a cliff in a mountainous area, but the moment you jump some bastard monster decides to look at you. You're now engaged in combat and therefore unable to survive falling damage, forcing you to return to your homepoint and realize that you didn't activate the fast travel marker in that area like an idiot. To clarify, this happened to a friend I know since I'm obviously too smart to do that shit.

Letter C: THE SEA OF CLOUDS

The Sea of Clouds is love. The Sea of Clouds is life.

Look at this zone. It's perfect. You are in the sky, there are beautiful ponds and wildlife everywhere, and new areas stretch as far as the eye can see. The music is charming and jumpy and the local beast tribe is a group of owl people. As a bonus, it kind of reminds me of Skies of Arcadia, which objectively makes this zone the closest we'll ever get to a Skies of Arcadia II. That's right, Heavensward is the successor to the Dreamcast, and I understand that you can't comprehend that because it makes too much sense.

I really don't have anything else to say, but... I mean. Look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Quatre: The writing is better, and the entire plot so far is "the good part."

I'm not going to lie, I skimmed over a good chunk of A Realm Reborn's leveling story. It's not that I wasn't interested, there were just too many lulls in the story and the excessively verbose writing didn't make it any better. This is something that started to improve upon entering the level 50 storyline, and the dynamite conclusion leading into Heavensward had me hoping things would only get better. I have not been disappointed.

Ishgard is immediately a more interesting city than the other cities of Final Fantasy XIV. The class divide between the locals becomes quickly apparent, and even the sidequests are used as devices to illustrate the city's culture. For example, one quest may have you delivering invitations for snooty nobles as they treat you like an errand boy, and another will have you retrieving firewood for the poor citizens since they aren't sure they have enough heat to make it through the night. While most players usually scoff at fetch quests in games as excuses for pointless filler, Heavensward shows how a seemingly stale convention can be used to flesh out the story and make the experience richer for the player.

The main story has also been riding at an excellent pace, and even the instanced story battles are more epic and involved than they ever were before. By level 52, my character has encountered a giant monster, made a harrowing escape, fought in a coliseum, and beaten up some bad guys in a fashion I've been waiting for since the conclusion of A Realm Reborn. Final Fantasy XIV has always sported a strong single player experience, but never before has it felt like you're playing a proper Final Fantasy game than it has now.

Conclusion: Heavensward is more Final Fantasy XIV, but even more refined.

It's clear to me that the developers have really honed their craft by this point, and it shines through in the expansion. Technically it's not that different than the content we've seen up to this point, but the stakes and the production have increased just enough for the game to keep feeling exciting.

It's telling that I had six other things to talk about and only got this far before feeling I've written too much, but that's the thing; it's that exciting. Maybe it's still the day one hype, maybe I'll be hating it by endgame, but so far I've gone full fanboy without feeling the need to tone it down. And that, my friends, is the objective truth.

That said, if I were you, I wouldn't wait on me to finish the expansion and give my final thoughts, as Chris Carter will likely have his full review up by tomorrow.

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1:19 PM on 02.19.2015

Review: Bacon Club Cheeseburger

 

 

It's time to join the club

 

When I first heard about Bacon Club Cheeseburger, I was skeptical to say the least. Developer McDonald's is no stranger to anti-consumer practices, and the critically panned Black Halloween Cheeseburger convinced me that my days of being invested in the Cheeseburger canon were over.

Yet as new information about Bacon Club was released in the days prior to release, it started to look too good to be true. A return to form that we haven't seen since Double Cheeseburger? More meaty content not locked behind a paywall? It seemed as if it was an elaborate hoax, or the precursor to a cruel punchline intended to crush the spirits of Cheeseburger fans.

Yet now that I've experienced Bacon Club Cheeseburger in all its entirety, I can confirm that it delivers on all that it promised, and even a little more too.

Bacon Club Cheeseburger
Developer: McDonalds Corporation
Publisher: [I think it's some guy named John? - JS] [You expect me to look that up for you? - Ed]
Released: [Can someone look this up for me? Thx. -JS] [This isn't highschool, do your own work. - Ed] [Wow, passive aggressive much? - JS] [Meet me in my office. -Ed]
MSRP: $5.49 (standalone), $7.79 (combo preorder)

The first thing you're going to notice about Bacon Club is how minimalistic its narrative is. It opens up with the text "satisfy your craving," and the player is left with no clear indication of story or character development for the rest of the adventure. Tried as I might, I scoured the meat of the game thoroughly and couldn't find any other story clues, though I was surprised that there was actually a bit of hidden narrative content that can be found by searching the box.

This unorthodox approach to storytelling may seem asinine, but it lends itself well to the overarching thesis that Bacon Club seems to send: the player is the top priority, and you should have it your way. While AAA titles have been struggling to find ways to blend gameplay and story elements without alienating those who are playing strictly for one or the other, Bacon Club leaves the story as an unspoken sidequest that can be pursued by those who are actually interested in unraveling it. In truth, the Bacon Club community has already made great strides in unraveling the many mysteries of the narrative, and those who are intrigued by meta story driven games will likely remember this one alongside titles like Dear Esther and The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo.

This would be meaningless if the core of Bacon Club was not entertaining, but fortunately McDonalds has proven that they are masters of their craft when it comes to Cheeseburger gameplay. Instead of wrapping all the content together in a tightly linear fashion like previous Cheeseburger games, Bacon Club utilizes a sandbox style approach to gameplay by setting the game in an actual box. This may seem bit jarring at first, but this small change gives players freedom in choosing what content they'd like to experience while simultaneously providing a convenient venue to save other pieces of content for later. Some gamers will inevitably complain that this shift in design is an effect of videogame homogenization perpetuated by the likes of Ubisoft and E.A, but those who approach the game with an open mind will be pleasantly surprised by all that Bacon Club has to offer.

And my oh my, does Bacon Club deliver on content. Gamers have long decried McDonalds for withholding the popular Bacon expansion pack behind a paywall in previous Cheeseburger games, but true to its title, Bacon Club ships with both a full featured Cheeseburger and Bacon without needing to shell out any extra cash. Though reviewers are usually not asked to take price into account when reviewing a videogame, I'm going to do it anyway and state that $5.49 for all the content Bacon Club packs is a great deal. The Bacon expansion virtually doubles the amount of meat contained within the game, which is saying a lot given how much content is there to begin with. Though Bacon Club's content may not reach the euphoric heights of other Cheeseburger style games from other developers, there's still an impressive amount of quality for players to sink their teeth into.

That said, Bacon Club still has an edge over the before mentioned competitors by being equally as viable to enjoy both portably and in a home environment. The bite sized nature of the gameplay in Cheeseburger games has always lent itself to excel in this area, and despite all its changes Bacon Club is no different. In fact, a gamer could in theory enjoy Bacon Club while playing another videogame altogether, so gamers can experience the thrill of purchasing a new product while simultaneously working to minimizing their gaming backlog.

As a videogame reviewer, I'm always looking for a paradoxical combination of videogames being an entirely new experience while being something I'm familiar with so I can play and review it quickly, and in this regard Bacon Club met my expectations in spades. Some gamers will inevitably argue whether Cheeseburger games can adequately count as videogames to begin with, but the reality is that Bacon Club is an enjoyable package filled to the brim with content that should appeal to anyone who owns an Xbox or a Nintendo Playstation. To be concise, it's like what would happen if Mass Effect and Skyrim had a illegitimate child with Assassin's Creed and Final Fantasy with slight influences from Braid and Thomas Was Alone also God of War Dark Souls Super Mario Bros Dragonball Z badass shooter FPS shoot 'em up Candy Crush only with epic robots and zombies and crafting. Also it's a Cheeseburger.

8 /10 Great: Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

[The Search Engine Optimization in your last paragraph is still inadequate. Please resubmit this review to me after revising and don't do something stupid like post it with all my comments included. -Ed]

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1:56 PM on 01.28.2015

Ask me questions and I will at worst verbally accost you with love

 

Confession: I wrote the title of this blog as a silly excuse to jump on the anti-badger bandwagon after the not-quite-stellar Q&A session that recently happened. However, after rereading all the badger-related posts and perhaps realizing that a blog with just a title would probably get fail-blogged, I realized an important question needed to be answered.

Who the hell is The Badger?

I don't mean that in a literal sense. There's a few intriguing clues in The Badger's words that might lead an internet sleuth in one or many directions, but that's the opposite of the point I'm trying to make here. Rather, I think we're seeing a kind of fascinating phenomenon unfolding that may or may not be what has been intended from the start.

I had zero idea of what I wanted to do for a picture here but here's the source at least

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think there's at least some merit to some of what The Badger has said thus far on Destructoid, even if it hasn't been elegantly conveyed. We can also ascertain that The Badger probably is at least a little privy to what he/she/it/they are talking about thus far, even without any clarified credentials. Yet beyond that, this persona that has taken on a public stage on Destructoid technically isn't inherently different than you, me, or any random commenter talking about videogame culture in a way that anyone outside of videogame culture wouldn't care about. The Badger is, by their own admittance, "shit posting" under the mask of anonymity that technically doesn't give them any more credit than a 4channer who claims his uncle works at Nintendo. Technically speaking, The Badger is nobody.

Yet even if The Badger was someone, would it even matter? Check this out; some of you may know this already, but I'm actually a game designer. Look at all these videogames I've designed using the highly advanced RPG Maker engine:

So tack that onto all of my blogs. Don't agree with my views on Final Fantasy? Well sorry son, I'm a game designer, and I'm a front page Destructoid writer, so I guess that makes my opinions more valuable than yours. Obviously that's not how conversations work, because otherwise Phil Fish wouldn't get even a 10th of the hate that he does now. A person's alleged background is only a framework for what's truly important: the quality of that person's words. No amount of expertise in a subject qualifies you to be a dick unless specifically being a dick is going to accomplish something that couldn't be done without being a dick, and that's something that's rather hard to quantifiably prove.

What's interesting here is that The Badger seems to show contempt for everyone. Commenters are nerds, Journalists are nerds, everyone's a "garbage fucker." If The Badger had even a little concern for what any of us thought of The Badger, they probably would not have made blatant jabs at community fan favorite Brittany Vincent. The Badger is the anti-Destructoid; In a tight-nit community that values an intimate staff and jokes about sexing each other just about every other hour, The Badger is an anonymous and strange mass of negativity that will speak to us but will under no circumstances want to be among us. To The Badger, the world is shit, and The Badger seems to believe their posts will perhaps make it less shit. Or something.

To an extent, there is value of a voice that runs as a counterpoint to the culture of Destructoid's Gardevoir fantasies and shutting up in order to just play videogames. Perhaps the plan from the start was to create a character that everyone would find reason to hate, regardless of ideology. As ShadeOfLight has observed, it's entirely possible that The Badger could just be a staff member screwing with us and we'd be none the wiser. I don't neccesarily believe that's the case, but obviously it's been effective, considering that the page views are allegedly higher than normal and all this nonsense has propelled me to write a dissertation on the subject. But in the end, the internet doesn't need another "shit poster." In case it hasn't been obvious, the internet is full of shit posters, and the last thing we need is another one. Until I see the snitnami dowse the shit flames in its shitiness, I will stand opposed. We need more people who can clean up the shit, not make more of it.

That said, ask me anything. I'm just another community member in the grand scheme of things, but at least some of you know my name and have chatted with me before. If The Badger is both anybody and nobody, then take heart that I'm at least somebody and will at some point remember you are a human being when I respond to you. Perhaps the world is shit, and perhaps I'm just an idiot among idiots acting like an idiot so some other idiots can feel less like an idiot.

But at the very least, I can take comfort in the fact that I'm not acting like an awful person.

So ask me anything.

  read


9:44 AM on 10.08.2014

JoyfulSanity's top 10 objectively best fetishes of all time!!!!

How does one write an intro for a blog about something as shameful and private as their fetishes?

Seriously, someone tell me please.

1: Elizabeth

When it comes to Persona girls, some guys like Chie for her legs, Yukiko for her laughing fits, Yukari for her OUTSTANDING B-B-B-BOOOOOW AND ARROW, etc. Then there are some people who like Persona girls who look like they might kill them in their sleep. I belong to neither of these groups but I like Elizabeth anyway.

Elizabeth's theme song in Persona 4 Arena is a final boss song from Persona 3, also she wants to turn the Velvet Room into a nightclub. Best girl.

2: Humans

Out of all the people that I have felt attraction towards over the course of my lifetime, 100% of them have been human. I've talked with my doctor about this, asking questions like why I was never confused by the likes of Knuckles the Echidna or Rainbow Dash, but he just told me that he wasn't my doctor and asked if I'd like to pay for my groceries with cash or credit.

Someday, I will find the reason why I have this shameful orientation.

3: Hitting the damage cap

The most exciting part of hitting the damage cap in an RPG isn't the moment of climax, but rather, the anticipation leading up to it. All the careful preparation, shouting buffs and debuffs when necessary, trying not to unleash too early while surviving a passionate onslaught, all leading to that one incredible moment that leaves me breathlessly whispering one phrase:

"Ninety-Nine-Thousand-Nine Hundred-Ninety-Nine"

4: Using Jigglypuff in Smash Bros.

Jifflypuff is a joke character who traditionally hangs around the bottom tier of any given Smash Bros. game, but you know what they say about tiers: tiers are for quetotal amateurs.

It's one thing for someone to lose a game in Smash Bros., but losing to someone playing as Jigglypuff results in a loss of self worth, the questioning of the existence of God, and an erection that lasts longer than four hours. I actually didn't know what to put for that last point so I just drew a Cards Against Humanities card and tossed it in.

5: Seeing Occams and Wrenchfarm some guy named Nic Rowen on the front page of Destructoid

I've been tempted to try to word some heartfelt congratulations to these two for their newfound promotions on Destructoid, but I said to myself "How can I intensify this sentiment and also make it kind of creepy at the same time?"

Nailed it.

6: Battle themes

The battle theme is the quintessential genre of music. In fact, some people don't know this, but all music is secretly a battle theme. Don't believe me? Well, J-Pop is a battle theme, American Pop is a battle theme, Classical Music is a battle theme, Jazz is a battle theme, and even Deep Purple's Ian Gillian is a battle theme.

Yes, Ian Gillian is a battle theme. I used all of those words exactly the way I meant to.

Oh, and even that super sad song used as Aeris' theme is a battle theme after she gets a sword through the back. Warning: This article contains spoilers.

7: Receiving death threats for my controversial views on Final Fantasy XIII

Warning: Graphic Violence, Strong Language, and Excessive Stupidity

I have to admit, I totally baited people on this one by not only occasionally criticizing Final Fantasy XIII, but also saying things like "I think it's bad but I enjoy it anyway," "I can see why people like it," and writing a blog that says lots of good things about Final Fantasy XIII. It's good to see that this hard work has paid off, as one look at my blog history shows that my main motivation for writing blogs is to intentionally make people upset.

8: Jokes that I get but feel kind of ashamed to admit I get so I just kind of chuckle to myself but try not to draw too much attention to it

Believe it or not, this list has taken a while to write. In fact, as I wrote the above, two years worth of thoughts made a glopping noise as my words flowed endlessly onto the page.

9: Key changes

This actually wasn't my original pick for number 9, but while writing this I was listening to the theme song from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and the key change near the end happened so suddenly that it scared the shit out of me. Perfectly valid reason to add it to my fetishes list.

Never mind that I apparently just claimed that key changes to me are like Slender Man to creepy pasta fans.

10: Pretending to have poor knowledge of what a fetish is as a thinly veiled excuse to participate in a meme and make a list about arbitrary bullshit

This is what happens when I keep trying to break my blogging hiatus and I can only ever write up to the intro.

  read


6:59 PM on 01.25.2014

Random battles aren't bad, they're just misunderstood.


Image Source: Kotaku


If you ask just about anyone what they hate the most about old school style jRPGs, there's a very high chance they'll say "random battles."

It's an idea that has been parodied to death and has been the subject of ridicule among gamers for years now, which is why many gamers consider random battles to be an "outdated" game mechanic. And the fact of the matter is, developers seem to agree. This is why we're starting to see "touch encounters" in once random battle laden series like Final Fantasy and Persona, and gamers everywhere have been showering praise on Bravely Default for including an option to reduce or even turn off random encounters at will. As I recall one person saying back in my days as a regular of the RPG Maker community, "random battles are like watching a movie and having it be interrupted every two minutes with someone bashing pots and pans together."

Yet the worst thing about random battles is that there is actually nothing wrong with them: it's actually everything around them that's flawed.



I'll always remember the dungeons in the original Final Fantasy as some of the most tense experiences I ever had as a young gamer. If I was entering a dungeon for my first time, I would never consider traversing all the way to the end in one go. Trying to do that would be foolhardy and stupid. Instead, the objective would be to explore the first floor or two, open as many treasure chests as I could, and then make a run for the exit to recover my resources and perhaps upgrade my gear if I hadn't done so already. If I got cocky and went too far in over my head, then I ran a very high risk of getting ambushed by some powerful monster and being stuck in the middle of a monster laden maze with my team either badly wounded or majorly compromised. If I didn't have enough potions or just got really unlucky with the run command, then I was looking at a bad end.

Final Fantasy I is far from the paradigm of excellent game design, but it is an excellent demonstration of what random battles can add to an RPG. Dungeons were tense because battles were unforgiving and inevitable, not little glowing orbs on the map that I could either fight or pass by if I felt like it. Although old RPGs ran wild with random encounters to pad out the playtime with grinding, random encounters were one of the main challenges to overcome in these older RPGs.



The problems with random battles really started in the SNES/PSX era of RPGs, when the RPG genre was moving to be more user friendly but retained old mechanics that were no longer being used properly. Since developers likely figured that most gamers didn't want to dedicate the better part of their week to finishing a single dungeon, the difficulty of RPGs started to drop and once scarce resources - like gold and recovery items - were given more frequently to the player. While there was nothing inherently wrong with these decisions, they made large strides in nullifying the tension that random encounters once brought to RPGs. Your heroes would be able to overcome the average group of enemies handily, and even if significant damage was dealt to the party, it was easy to buy 99 potions and just dump them on your heroes until you reached the end of the dungeon.

When random encounters don't actually threaten the player, their significance as an actual game mechanic is reduced to little more than a monotonous war of attrition that the player probably was never in danger of losing to begin with. It's not that the concept is fundamentally flawed, it's just that many games weren't well designed around the concept of random battles. It would be like if you played first person shooter games where your enemies either rarely shot back at you or were virtually incapable of actually causing you to lose the game (insert your Call of Duty joke here), and thus proclaimed that the FPS is an old and outdated genre.



For a perfect example of everything wrong with the design around random encounters, let's consider the recent remakes of Final Fantasy I, particularly the PSP version (the same could probably be said for the GBA version, but the PSP version is the one I most recently played). Square Enix changed the fundamental rules of the game to allow for a traditional magic point system and a save-anywhere feature, which are both convenient features that totally conflict with the way Final Fantasy I was designed. Enemies give the player so much EXP and gold that it's more of a challenge not to become completely overpowered, and even if a rough enemy group does appear to crush the player, it's only a few button presses away to either use some of your many healing items or reload a save point from only a few steps earlier. With a White Mage in tow, you might not even need to buy items, as it would be entirely possible for some regular cure spell spamming to keep your party healthy for an entire dungeon. 

All of these changes to the foundation actually nullify the game that was designed to be played in Final Fantasy I, and the experience of playing it becomes little more than just something you kind of keep playing and eventually win at. It's sad really, especially when considering how Final Fantasy Origin introduced many excellent tweaks to make the game more player friendly without compromising its essence. The Final Fantasy I PSP remake indicates to me that the developers did not have a firm understanding of what random battles were intended to actually add to the game, and with that in mind, it doesn't surprise me that Square Enix would design Final Fantasy XIII to be completely without the random encounters and resource management that was so prevalent in the series' roots. 

For the record, just to offer some contrast, I personally found the SNES and GBC remakes of Dragon Quest I to be wonderfully more accessible versions of the game while still keeping random encounters relevant threatening.



Fortunately, many RPGs in recent years have been either using random battles correctly or opting to not use them at all. Series like Etrian Odyssey and Shin Megami Tensei have made great strides in utilizing random battles for the benefit of the game and not just for the sake of bloat, which makes it no surprise that these games have found their own niche audiences so easily. Despite all the clichés about jRPGs and anime tropes, the genre has become diverse enough to appeal to many different types of gamers, and it's only good for the industry that there are plenty of jRPGs out there to appeal to people who vehemently hate random battles no matter how well they're used.

But at the same time, while I eagerly await Bravely Default and welcome its various difficulty settings, let's not pretend that this is some kind of cure-all for the problems with random battles. If we are so eager to suggest how to wholesale fix a classic convention of the jRPG genre, it would be best to understand what is actually broken in the first place.   read


6:28 PM on 12.05.2013

December is the month I go somber (99% NVGR)


Ever since I started blogging here around the beginning of the year, I've been thinking I should keep away from talking about personal drama or struggles for the sake of my own (joyful)sanity. For this month, I think it's for the best that should change.

Keep in mind that this blog is not actually where I'll go into detail. I just wanted to give a casual "catching up with JoyfulSanity" since I frankly burnt myself out with my Ys Buyer's Guide last week. I mean, I'm happy I've written it to refer to when I don't feel like repeating myself when people ask about the series, but that damn thing wound up being over 3,500 words, man. That's more words than four Top Ten Sexiest Dtoiders right there. So yeah, I wanted to do something a little more low-key just so no one will think I've fallen off the earth.



Anyway, last December, a lot of small things happened to be me that, individually, would have been bearable, but all together they broke me and my usually cheerful demeanor like you wouldn't believe. As much as I hate to admit it, these things still affect me a full year later, so I guess what I thought were flesh wounds have turned into full blown scars. I don't want to build this up as a tale of unprecedented misfortune, because in the grand scheme of things, what I've gone through is relatively trivial and perhaps even common. Yet with the anniversary of all this personal baggage looming closer, it has been all I've thought about.

I've actually become so caught up in my angst that I've been having trouble keeping my wit sharp enough to post comments on blogs and news stories around here. I don't know if that sounds conceited, but I actually can't bring myself to post something if I feel a mental fog is keeping my words from being as funny or informative as they should be. I guess there are benefits to having a perfectionist approach to even little things like internet comments and blog posts, but it is kind of crummy from the perspective of being an active member of a community. I apologize to any peeps who have written stellar blogs that should have gotten a fap and a comment from me, and I hope to make up for the lack of ego stroking at some point in the future. 

So basically, I figured that, instead of falling off Dtoid until my funk passes, I should instead at least attempt to do something about it just to see where it takes me. To be more specific, I hope to deviate from my regularly scheduled programming and write two or three blogs about stuff that's been happening in my life and how videogames and even Destructoid have kept me from descending too far into madness. I want to clarify that I'm not in trouble or anything, as there are plenty of others on this site that are in much more need of prayers and support than I am. But at best, I do hope to at least clear my head and ideally give a forum for some people who might be having a hard time with these trivial-except-secretly-not things that I've been dealing with. I know that feelings of isolation and solitude have been the biggest culprits of what has gotten me down all this time, so seeing even a random stranger go "hey, me too!" can be strangely comforting. Hell, even reading this Onion article made me feel better about a lot of things.



Of course, on top of all of this is the Christmas season, which really has no right to be as stressful as it is. I mean, it's easy to do holiday shopping for friends and family who are gamers, since I basically live and breathe game sale prices on the daily. But otherwise, figuring out what's useful and in a budget to give someone can occasionally be like finding a needle in a haystack that's also on top of an erupting volcano. This also is probably another symptom of me putting way too much thought into little things, so I should get that checked out or something.

While I'm writing about miscellaneous things, I'd like to give a heartfelt, long overdue thanks to all you guys who have been reading the things I write and leaving nice, intelligent comments. I still feel like a newbie around here just because of my relative time being active, but at the same time I've always felt part of the proverbial family and I'll eventually go into detail about how amazing that's been for me. I'd also like to give a shout to 4th sexiest Dtoider Mr. Andy Dixon for putting my glitches blog on the front page. Seeing my words all dolled up and edited under the Destructoid banner  was incredible, and knowing that my silly thoughts might have brought some form of joy to a wide audience was just incredible. Really, I've been in and out of many communities in my time, and while there are always some guys who make me shake my head, most of y'all are the nicest people I've ever talked to. 



That's it from me. If you've been following my work, I hope my change in tone won't be too alarming or anything, and I promise that I'm okay and probably much better off than I might have sounded. If you haven't been following my work, well... like, comment, and subscribe? Or don't. That's like, your opinion man.

Until next time,

Joyful "My momma called me Joyful and married into an excellent last name" Sanity   read


1:10 PM on 11.15.2013

Top 10 Sexiest Dtoiders


If you asked me to fill out a list of ten reasons why I come to Destructoid, numbers one through nine would probably be a picture of Marlon Brando riding a polar bear which is wearing a jetpack made of shotguns. But at number ten, I'd probably write "mad sex appeal yo" in very tiny letters.

Destructoid may like to keep Quiet about the sheer attractiveness of its staff and regulars, but I'm here to balance the scale by showcasing some of the community's finest eye candy. Since I'm a 100% objective journalist, you can rest easy knowing that the following opinions stick strictly to the facts. Break out the smooth jams and get ready to be seduced.


10: Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes made videogame history with his breakout appearance in Wario Ware Dance Dance Man (see above) by showing that men in gaming can be sexy without being sexualized. Although his videogame appearances since then have been mild, he more than makes up for it by occasionally stripping inside peoples' mouths. It is said that women can't resist talking to him about videogames.


9: Benny Disco

Benny Disco is a frog. In fact, some might go as far as to say that he's an amazing frog. And as you may know, frogs turn into handsome princes after being kissed by princesses. In other words, if you even try to argue that Benny Disco isn't sexy, you're objectively wrong, so suck on that.

Having said that, considering that Benny Disco is still a frog, he is both handsome and available. Singles, where you at?


8: Hamza Aziz

No description available. Or possible.


7: ShadeOfLight

Dark. Menacing. Mysterious. Could potentially kill me on contact. There are all phrases that might go through one's head when gazing upon ShadeOfLight. But once you break through his rugged exterior, you will be surprised to find that he enjoys cute Nintendo games and Eevees. More like TsundereOfLight, mirite? (That was funny because it rhymed)


6.5: Chris Carter

Chris Carter is Destructoid's irresistible bad boy. He doesn't care what the other critics think; he'll give games low scores just to fight the system, man. I mean, just look at these controversial review scores. Clickbait? More like CHRISbait, because we all know the real reason people keep coming back to comment on his reviews. And that is because he's sexy. And bad. Those were the things I assumed you would have guessed.


5: JoyfulSanity

I swear I don't know how this got here.


4: Mr. Andy Dixon

What can one say about Mr. Andy Dixon? Well, first of all, he's got Mr. in his name, which implies that he's a grown man, and grown-ups are sexy. Also, Dixon could be shortened to Dix, which sounds like Dicks, which is code for penis. And... umm... something about a bathrobe? I don't know, all I know is that this guy is definitely sexy, and his place on this list has nothing to do with me trying to win favor with the Community Director. 


3: Script

Whoa. Whoa. 18+ warning up in here guys. Look at Script, just standing on a pedestal, flaunting his body shamelessly for all to see. His figure is so in-your-face that you might not notice his subtle curves or his seductive smile, which are all vital details when considering why he is Destructoid's third sexiest member. I'd recommend approaching Script with a canvas and paintbrush, because you will undoubtedly want to make art when in his presence.


2: Dale North

Dale North is an actual dog that works for Destructoid. At least, I think he is, since all his articles contain photos of him and the other dogs he interviews for exclusive videogame coverage. Dale North manages to play and review jRPGs despite lacking opposable thumbs, and that is the very definition of sexy. Actually, that doesn't sound right at all. What is this a top ten list of again?

--

... Okay, so, I need to figure out a number one spot that won't cause controversy and will still be satisfying to everyone who reads it. Umm... 

... well... okay I got it!


1: Everyone Else

That's right, if your name hasn't been mentioned so far, that is because you are tied for the dubious honor of being the sexiest member of Destructoid! There is just so much sexiness and so little time to bask in it all, so just know that, if you're reading this, then you are undoubtedly among the elite in sexiness and you should be proud of yourself.

"But wait JoyfulSanity, if everyone else constitutes Destructoid's sexiest members, wouldn't that make the previous entries on the list the least sexy Dtoiders?"

Excellent question, and my response is... well...

...

SHIT.   read


2:42 PM on 11.07.2013

Pokémon X taught me how to enjoy gaming again


Playing Pokémon X brings me back to a simpler time. And no, I don't mean the days of drinking Surge and watching Nickelodeon.

I'm talking about the years after studying for weekly spelling tests and before Steam sales flooded our game libraries. A time when you'd do chores and save allowance for a month because there was that one game you really wanted. A time when playing a game and finding all the secrets wasn't about getting an achievement or a trophy, but because that was the one game you were into. You'd want to play the game slowly, take in the sights to savor the experience, and only put it away once you got all the entertainment that you could get out of that $50 investment.

Not only does Pokémon X recapture this long lost magic, but it was a potent wake-up call to the flaws of my gaming habits. Maybe they don't make 'em like they used to, but I haven't been playing 'em like I used to either.



Pokémon X (and Y) gives the player so much to do without ever making demands. When we think of what makes a "nonlinear" game, we start to think of terms like "sandbox," or "branching narrative." Pokémon X's nonlinearity is the opposite of these things, yet there is so much to see and do that no two playthroughs will be alike. I've yet to reach gym seven and have run my game clock to nearly 80 hours by breeding Pokémon, planting berries, treasure hunting with the dowsing machine, and trying to catch as many Pokémon along the way as I possibly can. The funny thing is, it's not like I'm doing everything I possibly could be doing either. Pokémon X gives me plenty to do when I stop to smell the roses, and the main quest is always there whenever I want to get back to it.

I like to call Pokémon X a "funbox" game. Whereas sandbox games give players a plethora of toys to make their own fun with in a massive world, Pokémon X gradually provides the player small individual areas that are loaded with secrets and/or introduce new subsystems or gameplay elements. Whether you spend hours exploring a new map or race through to the next area is completely up to the player's choice, as both are equally viable options. Fighting trainers in the battle chateau or even trying to "catch 'em all" are systems designed solely to entertain the player, and there is never a sense that the developers intend for players to do everything in order to "100%" the game.

This "funbox" theme is reinforced by the gang of friends the game introduces to the player near the beginning. While each character is (supposedly) traveling the same path you are, each of them have different objectives they hope to accomplish along the way. Trevor is interested in filling out the Pokédex, while your rival represents the player who wants the strongest team and probably battles competitively (even though (s)he only uses three Pokémon most of the game but that's a detail). Shauna wants to enjoy the ride without thinking too much about it, and Tierno... okay I actually don't know what Tierno represents but just bare with me on this. My point is, Pokémon X isn't a game that has a best way to be played. The game can be a shallow experience if so desired, but there is enough depth under the surface to provide the player with countless hours of entertainment. The point at which Pokémon X is "finished" is completely on the player's terms.



Pokémon X doesn't have an achievement or trophy system, and I think it's much better off for it. Now, I don't inherently oppose achievement systems. In fact, games like Mega Man 9 and The Binding of Isaac intelligently incorporate achievements into the game's design to promote replay value. Yet in general, achievements have undeniably changed the way I play games. Even when I specifically tell myself to ignore these metagame statistics, I can never shake the nagging feeling that I haven't truly beaten a game unless I fulfill a bunch of arbitrary requirements dictated on my system's dashboard. Conversely, when I consider, say, playing a game on a higher difficulty mode and there isn't an achievement for it, my accomplishment feels less significant. Maybe I'm just insane, but I do think that there's a mind game at play when a looming progress bar indicates to your friends that you've only obtained 50% of a game's achievements, even if you've played it for 50 hours or more.

With games being so cheap and plentiful thanks to Humble Bundles and sales, I've grown to rush through games without stopping to enjoy them. There are so many games I want to play, and now they're all more obtainable than ever. This makes achievements become my personal indicator of "beating" the game, regardless of how accurate an indicator they are for getting the most out of the experience. Seeing the little bar of completion read "100%" lets me breathe a sigh of relief, as it means I can finally move on to the next game I've been wanting to play. At some point, I stopped having fun while I gamed. I played games and beat games, but I simply wasn't enjoying games like I used to. Pokémon X made me finally open my eyes and realize the errors of my ways.


I love you Persona 4 Golden, but there are some trophies that you can't rationally expect me to enjoy getting.

Had there been achievements like "Herbivore: Plant 100 berries" or "I caught 'em all!: Fill the Pokédex," I honestly don't think I'd still be playing Pokémon X. These subsystems wouldn't feel like fun things that the developers created for my amusement. There would be that same nagging voice saying that I've only "beaten" the game after doing what the metagame stats tell me to do. It is because it's my choice to deviate from the main path and smell the proverbial roses that I'm able to find the game such a joy to play. No one is telling me to do everything; my journey through Kalos is going to be played however I want.

The fact of the matter is, Pokémon X's very design would make an achievement system redundant. Everything you do has a direct and rewarding impact on your options throughout the game, so no side mission is a waste of time. Petting your Pokémon in Pokémon-Aime can give bonus EXP and stat boosts, and even catching a new Pokémon means a new option for battling or breeding. Very little - if not nothing at all - feels like filler, and this is Pokémon X's greatest strength. Being fun is all the motivation the player needs to explore.



It's easy to get lost in Pokémon X's world, yet hard to ever feel lost. There are enough short term goals in the game to make me go "ehh, just five more minutes," and then hours pass by before I even know what happened. That's the gaming experience I grew up with that has kept me at this hobby decades later, and it is my goal is to keep this mindset of "just have fun" alive as I go forth into my backlog.

Pokémon X isn't going to win any awards for innovation. In fact, I wouldn't even consider Pokémon X to be my favorite entry in the series. But I know that, years from now, I'll be looking back on this game nostalgically for all the joy it has brought me. I'm glad I didn't pick it up in a bargain bin during a sale, because Pokémon X is easily worth a month of washing dishes.   read





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