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Marche100
10:00 AM on 04.11.2014

As you may or may not recall, I made a blog a few weeks ago teasing Destructoid Story. I refused to say what it is exactly, but gave you a nice little trailer to build up a little bit of hype. In case you missed it, here it is again:



Well, the day of release is drawing nearer and nearer, so I figure that I ought to give you guys some more information.

So, what is Destructoid Story? Why don't I just have my good friend Snoop Lion tell you?



You heard the man. Destructoid Story is a visual novel. I know that some people were predicting that it was erotic fan fiction of some sort. So close, yet so far. The fan fiction thing is the close part. There's nothing erotic in this visual novel. Or isn't there...?



So, what am I using to make Destructoid Story? I've been using RPG Maker VX Ace. In other words, the newest version of RPG Maker. I've been pushing the program to its limits to make this thing (that trailer up there is in-VN footage of the opening). If you have some sort of grudge against RPG Maker/people who use RPG Maker, I suggest that you get over it and grow up. That's what I'm using. Deal with it.



You've probably noticed by now that there a good few people from Destructoid's community in this thing. Who's all in it? I'll tell you! This is a tentative list of people who will be appearing in the VN (or who I've already put in) in alphabetical order:

- Aaron "Mxy" Yost
- AboveUp
- Agidyne
- Benny Disco
- Brightside
- BrowneyeWinkin
- Char Aznable
- Dale North (mentioned, not seen)
- Everyday Legend
- Firion
- FlyByNight
- Gatsby (mentioned, not seen)
- Glowbear
- Gorilla Gravy
- Grunchk1n (mentioned, not seen)
- King Zelos
- Kir
- KymikoLoco
- Last Scion of the House of Blue Lions
- Occams' Electric Toothbrush
- Marche100 (hey, it's not like I'm not going to put myself in)
- Mr. Andy Dixon
- Niero Gonzalez (mentioned, not seen)
- Nihil
- Panzadolphin
- Philkensebben
- pkfire
- Pixielated
- Red Morgan
- Reinhold Hoffman
- Revuhlooshun
- Script
- Sephzilla
- Usedtabe
- Zodiac Eclipse 

That's tentative, but so far it's looking like the finalized list. Of course, there are other characters in the visual novel besides people from the community. Many other characters! But this is simply a list of those from the community who are in the VN.

If your name isn't on the list, I'm sorry. I've been trying to put in as many people as I can, but there are a few criteria I've been using: A) "Can I fit this person into the story without forcing it?" and B) "Do I think I can capture this person's personality or kinda-sorta make them into my own character?" 



So what's it about? Well, I'm not going to tell you much, even when it comes time for release. I'll just say this: It's about Firion, a girl who moves to a new high school, Destructoid High, on the east coast (the best coast). From there, who knows what will happen? 

Things do get pretty crazy, depending on what path you take. Speaking of which, there are going to be three main paths and three unique bad endings. The three main paths are as follows: Brightside's Path, Marche's Path, and Browneye's Path. Each one takes on a different genre. In fact, I would say that they tend to switch genres once or twice within their own paths. 

As for the unique bad endings, trust me when I say that you'll want to get them. I think my beta testers will attest to the fact that they're well worth seeing.

One last thing I want to mention here. I mentioned this in the forums a bit. In case you're wondering, this visual novel should take you around 8 hours to read (assuming you go through every path and get every unique bad ending). I hope that's satisfactory. This visual novel's got some meat on its bones, make no mistake.



One question remains (that I'm willing to answer): How far along am I and how long will it be until release? 

Well, let's see. Every bad ending is finished. Brightside and Browneye's paths are finished. I've just got my path yet to work on. After that, I just need to go over everything and polish it off and we'll be good to go. 

So...let's say that I'll release Destructoid Story in a week and a half to two weeks from now. Sound good? I hope so.

When I release, there will be a few things included with the VN. I'll have some flowcharts for your reference and there will be a message from me concerning how much this visual novel means to me on a personal level. I might also include a list of fun facts/obscure references, if I have the time.



That's all I've got. I hope that I've whet your appetite with these screenshots and information. I tried.

See you soon, Dtoid cowboy*.



* Line unapologetically stolen from Tom Fronczak.







Marche100
1:01 PM on 03.12.2014



As I've been hinting at over the past week or two, I've been working on a Destructoid-related project recently. This is a teaser for that project. I won't outright tell you what it is, but I've decided to get a bit more serious, as far as hinting goes.

Ideally, the project will be finished and released to the public within a month or two.

That's it. Without further ado, here's your teaser.




See you in a month or two (hopefully).
Photo







Marche100
11:32 PM on 01.20.2014

[left]As we all know, there's an article on the front page about Rust, a game in early access on Steam made by Facepunch Studios-or perhaps more recognizably-Garry Newman, creator of Garry's Mod. I saw a lot of people express confusion over why someone would want to buy a game that is incomplete. I myself expressed concern over the amount of trust we can place in Garry Newman, whose resume consists of Garry's Mod and not but Garry's Mod, as far as I know.

Well, as I also commented, my brother decided to pick the game up. I did not think his purchase was exactly rational (he told me he bought it just because Garry Newman made it), but what's done is done, and he can spend his money as he sees fit.

That said, I felt it was my duty to play the game and document my adventures, giving you guys an idea of what it's like. I ultimately decided that I would play the game until I died three times. I would write up this blog immediately afterwards, and I did. So, without further ado, let us dive into something I can only call something stupid, like: The Rust Files.[/left]




I awoke to find myself in a grassy field, underneath a star-filled sky. Beautiful, in its own way. Serene. That is, until I noticed the shirtless man standing near a small building a bit of a ways in front of me (you can see him in this picture).




I attempted to make contact with him. He appeared to be smashing a rock into a tree. Understandable. That's usually what we do with those things. Then I saw his hands completely disappear into the tree as he swung the rock. I figured I had best leave him be.




As I walked away, I met another young fellow by the name of Typefragger! I stared at him. He stared back at me. I stared at him. He stared back at me. I stared at him. He stared into my soul. I think I felt the faint glimmer of a true bond for a moment, there. Either that, or he was coming on to me. He ran away, so I never got to find out.




I wandered around the field for a bit, wondering what I should do, when I saw light shimmering over the tops of the mountains in the distance. I took this as a sign. I would be the first one to reach Nirvana. Either that, or it was the game telling me to get off my ass because it's nearly daytime. I decided to head down a nearby road and follow it wherever it went.




In the light of the early morning, I saw a campfire off the side of the road, still burning. Seeking some sort of human contact, I walked over to it. In the distance, what I assumed to be Rust's equivalent of Bruce Wayne's Manor stood tall against the horizon. I wanted to climb it to get my bearings, but I noticed that my health was rapidly decreasing. I was hungry. Imagine that.




I headed towards a nearby town. I saw a deer standing around doing not much of anything, so I brandished my rock and ran after it. It ran into the town. Literally. It ran straight through the rock wall that surrounded the town. I ran inside, but my time was growing short. My rads were off the charts while in the town (what) and my health was low. I found a player and begged him for food. He ran off for a moment, but seemed to reconsider and came back. He tossed me two bags with two cans of tuna in them each. How thoughtful! There truly are some good people in the world. I survived.




[left]But for how long? As soon as I stepped out of the town, I met two players. They seemed to be harmless at first. They muttered something and walked off. I went to follow them, but this was a mistake. They surrounded me, debating whether or not to kill me. I shit you not, what happened next felt like it was scripted, but it happened. A man in a coat came up from behind them, brandishing a hatchet. They turned right as he was on them and they bolted like bats out of hell. The man caught one and killed them, the other screaming "It's the hatchet man!" I tried to snap a picture for my album, but alas, he killed me right after the first man.
[/left]
[left]

I respawned, reborn anew. It had once again become nighttime. It was pitch black. Only my torch would dispel the darkness surrounding me. But hanging in the sky was the moon, shining like a beacon. I decided to head towards it, because I had nothing better to do.



As morning approached, I found myself at the edge of the ocean. The ocean was flat, the horizon one straight, horizontal line. At the edge of the ocean stood a tower. I went to climb up it, but the door leading into the tower was locked. I decided to follow the coastline. I climbed some rocks, fell off of them, broke my leg, and died.



I woke in a field, once more. There was no one around, as usual. Kind of odd, considering the server had over 1000 people on it. You'd think you would see them more often. I did see a pig. Knowing that food would be a big help, I killed it. Then, that dreadful message popped up. "Hatchet to gather". I had no hatchet. I knew you could craft one with wood and some crap, but that's boring. Time to move on.



I came across a house after wandering down a road, a bit. There was someone on top of the house. A thief, perhaps? I hailed him, but he did not respond. I decided to climb to the top of the house to get his attention, but as I drew close, I heard the unmistakable moans of a zombie. You heard me. A zombie. I didn't know I was playing DayZ. I moved on, not bothering to waste my time.



I moved on down the road and somewhere along the lines caught the attention of a black wolf. I sprinted down the road, intending to outrun it. I ran past another player, who upon seeing the wolf, began to run alongside me. We ran up the road to find two small shacks alongside the road and two other players. We looked back, and the wolf was still following us. Once the other two players saw it, they began to attack. The player who had run alongside me joined in, and not one to miss out on the fun, I did, too.



We ran all over the place, trying to hit it as it erratically shifted its focus between the four of us. We accidentally hit each other a few times, but we eventually took it down. I watched as two of the players used their hatchets to magically make the corpse disappear. Wowzers. My work there finished, I moved on. I came across a man wearing a face covering of some sort who immediately hatcheted me to death.

Now for some ending notes.

Playing Rust wasn't all that bad. Still, It's not a game I would play regularly, myself. It had a few memorable moments, but only a few in the two hours that I played. That's a lot of filler to get to the good stuff. Even then, it's just early access. Who knows how much will change between now and the actual release? Who knows how the experience will change? Only time will tell.

And with that, I'm beat. Thanks for reading. Time for sleep.[/left]
Photo Photo Photo








Emotions are a pretty cool thing. You might chuckle at David Cage's latest use of the word, but you can't deny that they're powerful. They can leave a strong lasting impression. Our minds may jump straight back to the most emotionally powerful moment of something when we think of it in the future. In a sense, emotions can define or experience. I mean think about it. When people think of the movie Titanic, their thoughts jump to the scenes that are distressing, depressing, or shocking (in the case of the painting scene). The ones that create a sudden surge of emotions.

Lord, I sound like David Cage, now. Let's just get on with this before I turn into him. I recently beat Shin Megami Tensei IV, which had a very emotional scene (kind of shocking), and it led me to think of other scenes like it that I had experienced over the many games I have played throughout my life. So, here they are.

Needless to say, there's going to be a hell of a lot of spoilers in this blog. Both pictures (there will be one for every game I talk about) and text. Here's the deal. I'm going to list every game I'll be talking about right after this little disclaimer. In the order they'll appear in. That way you can know ahead of time if you want to avert your eyes for a segment of it or not or not. I don't want to spoil anything if I can help it. Ready?

Batman: Arkham City
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Metal Gear Solid 3
Metal Gear Solid 4
Mother 3
Persona 3
Red Dead Redemption
Shin Megami Tensei IV
The Walking Dead

And now I'll put this big picture here to create a split, so you don't accidentally see #10's picture immediately (if you want to skip it).



Okay, onto number 10, then! But one final note. I'm trying to put these in some sort of order of emotional impact, but it's really hard to gauge that, so don't think this order is final by any means. I think the order isn't too far off, though.



#10: THE JOKER'S DEATH (BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY)

Say what you will about how many times the Joker has died in other Batman media, I was shocked to see the Joker die in Arkham City. Everything was in place. Hugo Strange was dead, Ra's was taken care of...all that was left was to get the Joker the antidote that you had spent the better half of the game making. It's not like I didn't expect him to try to pull something on Batman, but I knew that Batman would have given him the antidote, in the end. To see him die wasn't quite what I was expecting.

It was pretty sad, too. For all the crimes the Joker had committed, you can't help but like him. Seeing Batman carrying the Joker's body, putting it on the hood of a police car, and walking away in silence was powerful.

Of course, they found a way around all that by making a prequel to the Arkham games. That bugs me and feels like it cheapens the whole affair, when we thought we'd seen the last of the Joker in the Arkham series. But even still, that ending leaves me as speechless as Batman.



#9: SNAKE'S DEATH (9 HOURS 9 PERSONS 9 DOORS)

Playing 999 for the first time, Snake immediately stood out as one of my favorite characters in the crowd. Princely, smart, blind (yet quite able), kind...wears a nice coat. Snake was pretty damn awesome. And then he had to go and die. Not once. But twice. The first time doesn't matter so much, because it turns out that it wasn't actually him. I'm talking about the second time.

It's sad enough to see such a likable character die, but the circumstances left an impact on me. So, Snake dies in an incinerator, sacrificing himself to take Ace along with him, the guy who killed his sister (in this timeline). First of all, you have to admire him for his determination and willingness to make such a huge sacrifice. But the strangest thing that stuck out to me is how he continued to keep going despite being shot many times in the chest. It's inhuman.

"But Marche, it's fiction". Doesn't change that it was shocking and made it stick. This would probably be higher on the list if Snake's death was permanent, but it isn't. In the true ending he survives, so it's all good. But still, in that minute you see Snake die, you'd be lying if you said your heart wasn't aching.



#8: ELI VANCE'S DEATH (HALF LIFE 2: EPISODE 2)

Funny, I saw that this death was featured on an installment of Chad Concelmo's Memory Card series as a shocking loss. Well, he's not wrong there. It was certainly shocking, and heartbreaking.

Eli was apparently in Half-Life 1, although you wouldn't have known it. Many scientists shared his model, so it could have been any of them for all I knew. Half-Life 2 is where I was really introduced to him. Nice guy! He was always looking out for Alyx and Gordon, giving them guidance and cracking a few jokes along the way. Heck, by the end of Episode 2, he acted more like a father to Gordon than anything else.

That made it especially hard to accept it when he died right at the end. For all you've accomplished in the Half-Life games, you're powerless at that one moment. The moment that it matters. And then Dog showing up RIGHT AFTER ELI DIES was just the cherry on top. Nice timing. *sniff* But seriously, I think part of what made Eli's death so hard was how well written he was. He felt like a real human. It was like losing someone close to you that you had known for ages.

Damn you Valve. Damn your brilliance.



#7: THE BOSS FIGHT/DEATH SCENE (METAL GEAR SOLID 3)

No one wanted to kill The Boss. No one. For the longest time, it seemed like she was the villain, but that's not the whole story. She was playing the part of a traitor to avert nuclear war. Talk about tough ordeals. And you learn of her back story, that she was rendered infertile via atomic bomb testing, and you can't help but feel for her. Oh, and she spends pretty well the entire game acting as a mother figure, even when she's supposedly the "bad guy". Yeah.

So, you establish that you don't want to kill her, because out of anyone in Metal Gear Solid 3, she deserves to die the least (well, there are a few exceptions). But then they had to make the fight one of the most beautiful fights ever made, in a field of white flowers, and with that fight theme. You know the one. It's hard not to feel like you should be bawling your eyes out as you fight.

And then you kill her. And the flowers ripple outwards from The Boss' body and turn a shade of red. Just rip my heart out Konami. RIP IT OUT.



#6: REVOLVER OCELOT FIGHT/DEATH SCENE

Yes, I hold this particular moment in higher regard than that I listed from Metal Gear Solid 3. I never started up Metal Gear Solid 3 again just to replay that moment. But I have started up Metal Gear Solid 4 up multiple times just to relive this stunning fight.

This one isn't like the ones before it. It's not so much a matter of feeling sad for Revolver Ocelot. I mean, I still kind of do. I like him as a character. A lot. But it's more-so about the fight itself. This is a fight that's been long awaited. It's the culmination of the many events throughout the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I don't usually throw this word around, because I feel like it's overused, but it is an epic battle.

Like the moment I described from Metal Gear Solid 3, the scene around this fight is stunning. Just look at that screenshot. Beautiful. And then the fight itself plays out in phases reflecting every major Metal Gear Solid title. Don't tell me you didn't get hyped up as you went through this fight. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into how this fight would pan out, and it paid off. It's a breathtaking scene from beginning to end.

And then Ocelot said "you're pretty good" and made the hand gesture from Metal Gear Solid 3. Okay, that's where my heart broke. Metal Gear Solid 3 Ocelot was awesome.



#5: MASKED MAN FIGHT/DEATH (MOTHER 3)

This one gets points simply for bringing me pretty close to tears. Whereas the Giygas fight from Mother 2 was all about fear, I found this one to be much more powerful, because it's about the death of a loved one.

You spend some time in Mother 3 looking for Claus, who disappears. Even though that search leaves the spotlight, you know that Claus is never far from Lucas' thoughts. I know I was wondering if Claus would ever turn back up. He does, near the end of the game but brainwashed...to the extreme.

The fight itself can bring you into a pretty heightened state. The music is weird. Like, you need to go listen to it to yourself if you haven't already. It's kind of creepy, otherworldly, and at the same time sort of sad, because it has the Theme of Love song mixed into it. Of course, how can I mention the fight without talking about how Lucas and Claus' dead mother speaks to them throughout the fight, trying to get them to stop fighting. Claus clearly struggles to regain control and to listen to her voice. So sad.

But of course, even after you manage to temporarily break the brainwashing effects, Claus sacrifices himself so that he doesn't fall back into being brainwashed. It's heart shattering stuff (I keep using the word heart breaking and I need to come up with new words for it).



#4: MINATO'S DEATH (PERSONA 3)

I think the hardest deaths in games are the ones where the character you've been playing as for the entire game dies. Persona 3 is a special case. The main character's appearance is set in stone, but his personality isn't. You decide his personality, his actions (to a degree), and his interests. So, in a way, when Minato dies, it's not really him dying. It's you. That's a depressing thought.

It was pretty shocking, too. Nyx had been defeated and sealed away. Everything looked like it was going to turn out okay. Everyone was happy, again. It was, what, a month after you had even fought Nyx? And then Minato just up and falls asleep in Aigis' arms and dies. Wow. Talk about coming out of nowhere.

I think Persona 3 gets the award for most shocking death. Seriously. I was upset when he died.



#3: JOHN MARSTON'S DEATH (RED DEAD REDEMPTION)

Talk about your surprises. John Marston had finally redeemed himself. He had killed the members of his gang that he used to run with and is free of his doings with the government. He then returns to his home to raise his son and return to life as usual. But nothing could ever be that simple. I mean, we all knew there had to be a reason that the game was still going, at that point. Something bad was brewing, but that didn't make it any less of a shock.

The surprise attack on Marston's home didn't totally shock me in itself. I thought "hey, I've dealt with this kind of crap all game, I can deal with these bozos". And for a while, you do. Rockstar pretty expertly made you think that you had the possibility of making it out of that situation alive, at least for a moment.

What shocked me was when Marston actually dies. That moment gets his family to safety and steps out to hold off the attackers. There were a lot of them, and for a second, I thought "my dead eye is going to wipe the floor with you idiots". When it became clear that you were overwhelmed, I couldn't believe it. I thought that I had done something wrong. Like I could have actually won, but just failed to do so for some reason.

It was hard to accept it. It was a sad day when I finished Red Dead Redemption.



#2: ISABEAU FIGHT/DEATH (SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV)

So, you eventually fight Isabeau if you choose Law or Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei IV and it is one of the most awfully depressing scenes I have ever seen. Good lord. I'm simply speaking from experience in taking the Law route, so some of these things don't apply to Chaos.

First of all, she calls your move to totally wipe out Tokyo genocide. Well...when you put it that way...it does make me feel pretty bad, even after Jonathan's speech about preserving peace. Then you fight her, and she hints that she had feelings for the main character. Well, crap. Now, you KNOW you've chosen the wrong route, because you know where this is headed.

The worst is yet to come. So, you beat the heck out of her because you're level 70something and everything falls before you. Then you're treated to a picture of her all bloodied, like Issachar earlier in the game. Ugh. Regret. To top it all off, she wants to at least have her final choice be her own and slits her throat. Shit. Is it too late to change over to neutral?

So that's more than just a downer. That's downright sickening. I had to step away from my 3DS because I couldn't believe what had just happened. It's interesting, too, because you spend only about the first half of the game with Isabeau. So, she's like a lesser major character. And yet, I still found her death more impacting than Jonathan's, or even Flynn's (although don't get me wrong, I was very sad to see them go, too).

Atlus sure knows how to toy with everyone's emotions.



#1: LEE EVERETT'S DEATH (THE WALKING DEAD)

I know this must be near the top of most people's lists, if they've played The Walking Dead. Well, it's at the time of mine, too, because EVERYTHING about this scene is sad. And I'm talking about when you get Clementine to shoot him. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only real way that this scene can go down. Leaving him to re-animate is like denial of the fact that Clementine will have to face tough situations like this and might have to kill those she grows attached to later on.

Anyways, Let's start with Lee. Lee Everett was an awesome character. I know you could shape his personality, but he was generally a kind, caring, person and like a father to Clementine. He could do what he had to do, do the right thing, and be a leader when there was a need for him to be. I felt very attached to Lee, by the end, and found it very hard to let him go.

Moving on, the conversation between Lee and Clementine was pretty depressing. Lee trying to get Clementine to believe that she can do it, that she can survive, while he's sitting there, a few minutes from being a zombie. And then you can get Lee to tell her to keep her hair short, as one final fatherly piece of advice. Heartsplosion. Getting her to pull the trigger was almost too much, too.

But of course, the worst part of it all is that Clementine is a kid, and she has to go through all this. We've actually been talking about this in my English course. Kids are quite possibly the fastest way to get at someone's emotions, and that holds true, here. If it was some adult in Clementine's place in this scene, the scene would not be as high on the list. No way.

Now I've made myself sad.



There you have it. My 10 most emotional moments in video games. As far as I know. I'm sure there are plenty of games with emotional moments out there that I've never played. But as far as my experiences go, this feels pretty accurate.

So, now that I've emotionally drained myself by writing that, anyone care to share a few of their top emotional moments? I'm interested in seeing any that weren't on my list.
Photo Photo Photo










I just quoted myself up there in the title, because I can't think of a better title. But more importantly, I said that in the forums the other day in regards to Sonic Unleashed, which I refuse to play any further. I wish I didn't have to, but I feel that I do.

I'm human. We're all human here, I hope. As forgiving (if you want evidence of that, note that I suffered through 3 solid days of nothing but grinding in Final Fantasy XIII and lived to finish the game) and open as I am to many games, I can't finish every one. As a human, I have nerves. Things get on them. They may cause me to play through the rest of it with a much more negative outlook on the game, or even put down the game, permanently.

But that's not to say that all of my pet peeves are the fault of the game. Oh, no, there are plenty of things that irritate me to no end that can be/are caused by the player, like a careless death or two that sets you way back.

Time to vent a little (although I'm not really "angry" right now). So, here are my pet peeves in video games.



My number one pet peeve is repetition. There are different forms of repetition in games. The one I really can't stand is redoing something. Going through 30 minutes worth of game-play only to die and have to redo the whole thing? My willingness to play a game just took a massive hit.

Zack and Wiki suffered from this issue because of a lack of checkpoints. That's another pet peeve of mine: a lack of/poorly placed checkpoints. I won't get into that one beyond mentioning it, though. Back to the subject of Zack and Wiki...This is a game that has no checkpoints in its levels. Some of these levels are 10-30 minutes long.

You're supposed to think about your actions and their consequences so you don't make a fatal error in solving each level, but that's a load of crap. There are consequences in Zack and Wiki that no normal player would foresee (just look around on the web and see how many people complain about how much they die in the game, if you want proof).

So, not having the miraculous powers of foresight that the developers seem to think that I could possess, I died a lot and failed levels plenty of times. In particular, I failed on a 10 minute long level at least 6 times. Right near the end. That's over and hour it took me to complete a level that should have taken me 10 minutes. And I had to go through the same motions each time. I mean, come on. Don't tell me that you wouldn't be annoyed by that.



But there's another kind of repetition I can't stand. This one's in vast quantities. That's right, I'm talking about grinding. The joy of grinding. Who doesn't love waking up to endless hours of fighting the same enemies over and over again? Me.

This one's kind of weird, because over the years, I've built up a sort of resistance to grinding. Grinding in most RPGs doesn't even faze me, anymore. Shin Megami Tensei IV has grinding? I'd say: "What grinding?" It's just naturally become a part of how I play RPGs, so I don't even notice it, sometimes.

But even then, there are certain ones that just cross the line. I return to the subject of my experience with Final Fantasy XIII, which I referenced earlier. I can't even clearly recall the three days I spent grinding on Gran Pulse in that. It was bad. VERY bad.

To put into perspective how much I felt that I had to grind, I'll first state that many times when I have to grind in RPGs for a while I tend to watch something as I do it, to distract me and to help me through it. I watched the first four seasons of Futurama from beginning to end, Hercules, and this one documentary Jiro: Dreams of Sushi while grinding, and that wasn't all of it. I spent quite a few hours simply pacing back and forth while grinding, staring at the screen and trying to keep my mind from collapsing on itself.

Now, it can be said that I didn't need to grind that much, but Final Fantasy XIII is not an easy game. Even after all that grinding, I had no easy time getting through the final bosses. That much grinding is unacceptable. Another game that stepped over the line of acceptable grinding was Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers, although not nearly to the extent of FFXIII (and at least I still enjoyed Soul Hackers, in the end).



Now, we come to the one that made me quit Sonic Unleashed. Level requirements. Sonic Unleashed requires that you collect sun/moon medals to unlock new levels and proceed in the game. These medals are scattered throughout levels, mainly. As soon as I heard that, I decided to give up on Sonic Unleashed.

I don't think that a game like Sonic Unleashed should enforce level requirements. Maybe for optional levels, but for mandatory ones? Seriously? It might have been bearable if all of the levels were fast-paced day levels, but the werehog levels are some of the longest, most drawn out bore-fests in recent memory. (And would it have killed them to at least tell me sometime about there being level requirements, rather than for me to find out for myself via Google?) 

Of course, level requirements aren't always bad. The 3D Mario games pull the requirements off quite well. Then again, the objective of the levels in those games are to find the sprite/star/whatever, in the first place. So, fulfilling the requirement in those games comes naturally. In Sonic Unleashed it does not. It is an unnecessary impediment that disrupts the flow of a game that's already out of whack due to the conflicting paces of the day/night levels.




Even then, there are some games with unnecessary level requirements that I'll cut some slack. No More Heroes is one. Gathering the money needed to enter ranked matches by completing various tasks around town is absurd. Heck, the protagonist, Travis Touchdown, thought it was crazy when he was first told that he needed to pay. But it works. He's an assassin. He completes assassination gigs to get money. Mind blowing. Well, he can also do various side jobs like garbage collecting, but those are kind of funny, knowing Travis' personality and the fact that he's putting up with it.

What's Sonic's excuse? He's a hedgehog that runs fast and fights Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman). He collects medals. It makes no sense. What a stupid level requirement.



You all know that feeling, I bet. Getting lost. Bet you wish the game had a map, huh? Oh wait, some of them do. But what's this? The maps suck. Magnificent.

Shin Megami Tensei IV suffers heavily from its lack of navigational assistance. If I go out onto the world map in SMTIV I couldn't tell you what any of the places are just from looking at it. It has a map, but nothing is labeled on it. On top of that, when people in the game tell you to go somewhere, they don't really point you in any specific direction. They say "go here". Not "go here, which is a bit to the east". You get no hints.

Needless to say, it's easy to get lost, and very frustrated. I know you're supposed to explore and whatnot, but that's no excuse for not labeling areas on the map that you've already been to and at least pointing you east or north or whatever, when you need to go somewhere.

But SMTIV is a great game, otherwise, so I'll still play it happily. But this gets on my nerves. Big time. Heck, I'm using a walk through right now just because it gives me directions, and for a game with a map as complex as SMTIV's, I need it.



Now, I'm being general here in saying deaths, because deaths, in general, are pretty frustrating. I think we can all agree on that. But there are certain kinds that I find particularly annoying, beyond the fact that they make you lose progress.

One kind is the death is "cheap deaths". Deaths that aren't necessarily your fault as a player. My experience with cheap deaths mainly deals with poor physics/controls and object collision. For example, trying to maneuver Yoshi in Rico Harbor in Super Mario Sunshine and repeatedly falling and having to spend 5 minutes climbing back up only to where I need to be (only to fall again) caused me to put down the game and never pick it back up. Sonic Adventure caused me some cheap deaths, too. Sometimes, when Sonic clearly should have snapped onto a railing (to grind on it), it didn't pick up on the collision, and I fell to my death. Great stuff.

The other kind of death that sticks out in my mind is the "I'm one hit from killing this boss and I die" death. I'm sure many Demons Souls/Dark Souls players know the feeling you get from suffering this kind of death all too well. I just died in Wario Land: Shake It's final boss the other day as I was one hit away from killing him. I was angry, to put it lightly.




Yeah, despite all these pet peeves and the anger they bring, it gives me no pleasure to put down a game like Sonic Unleashed. Even though I've put Sonic Unleashed down, I'll still be feeling pangs of guilt for not having finished it. I hate not finishing a game, but sometimes you just have to admit that you'd be better off not playing it.

That doesn't make it any easier, though.



So, there you have it. I feel that I have adequately vented, and I really need to go to school right now. I did not think that this would take me as long as it did to write, and I don't want to be late. I'm not going to leave it off there, though, so I'll just ask the obvious question: "What are some of your pet peeves in video games?"

That's all for now. Until next time.
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Marche stepped up to the cave, sword in hand, peering into its dark depths. This was the supposed lair of the fiendish backlog, a horrific monster that lived eternal and only seemed to grow larger and stronger as time went on. Marche knew full well that he would have to face the monster, sometime. After all, it was borne of him and his purchases. He had put off slaying it for so long that something had to be done. Still, could he do it? His heart shouted at him to walk into the cave, but his mind said "no". What to do?


What manner of beast is this?! I shall slay it, henceforth!

(note: my backlog is view able here, in case you're wondering: http://forum.destructoid.com/showthread.php?133-What-games-are-YOU-currently-playing&p=1233254&viewfull=1#post1233254)  

Those of you who hang around the forums know that I've started facing down my backlog just this weekend. I'm embarking on a journey that will take months, even if I move along as quickly as I can. I want to take a step back and reflect on my backlog, how it took shape and became the monster it is today, and how I intend to fell it once and for all.

So, I guess I ought to start back at the beginning. 


Why can't *we* have highways with loop-de-loops?

My current backlog started back when I was but 5 or 6 years old, although I wouldn't have known it. I had Sonic Adventure. Played the heck out of the first few levels, but I was at the age where I didn't understand the concept of saving/auto-saving, nor did I care, so I would start a new game time I picked the game up. Heck, at the time, I don't think I understood that you can switch between characters in Sonic Adventure, so of course I never beat it.

But Sonic Adventure is a special case. It was a gift, and I didn't ask for it specifically, as I was so young I knew nothing of what games existed beyond what I could see at Wal-Mart in the display cases. Almost every other game on my backlog is a game I've bought or asked for, myself. They are all games I enjoy, to various degrees, but have never found the motivation to finish.

Twelve years this backlog has been snowballing. Twelve years. 50 games, and I know for a fact that I could put many more on that backlog, but there are just some games that I will never find the drive to finish (like Yoshi's Island DS and Wario: Master of Disguise).


Stuck playing Paper Mario for the rest of my life. Send help.

So why haven't I been able to work on that backlog for so long? Well, first of all, I will say that I have made some dents here and there in the past. Just this past summer, I beat Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Zelda: Skyward Sword, two games that have been in my backlog for years, but randomly finding the drive to surge through games like those is rare, for me.

No, the reason I haven't been able to really work on my backlog all these years is my damn brain.

First of all, you have to understand how I work. If possible, I like playing games in a) chronological/sequential order, and b) in threes. Three is a magical number. Just a few months back I decided to hit up Paper Mario: TTYD and Super Paper Mario, but taking into account the rule of threes and sequential order, I just "had" to play the first Paper Mario again, despite the fact that I've beaten it before.

Don't ever think like I do on that point, if you're trying to work on your backlog. It's a recipe for disaster. I was bored by the second chapter of the game, and my plans to work on my backlog fell apart then and there.


My mind must look like the Milkman level in Psychonauts when it comes to my backlog.

But there are much more rational reasons that I don't work on my backlog, too, and they make sense to some degree. Whenever I look at a game in my backlog and think about whether or not I want to play it, questions start pouring into my mind. Do I really have time for the 100 hour Persona 4? Will I want to play it 50 hours in from now? Do I even want to play it, now?

This constant barrage of questioning just spirals into an endless loop that has me second guessing my decision to work on my backlog, in the first place, and I always end up not playing whatever game I was considering. My heart cries out "I JUST WANT TO GET THIS GAME OFF MY BACKLOG", but my brain laughs and says "no, you're an idiot for thinking that you'll play this".

I hate my brain.


RESTRAIN THE BRAIN.

So, I've been working on my backlog all weekend and making good progress. How did I do this? How on earth, after so many years, after so many failures of trying to get anything done with my backlog, have I been able to do anything about it? Simple, really.

I told myself: "Sit down, shut up, and play the damn game, whether you like it or not."

Sounds harsher than it really is. This is really just to get me started on playing the games in my backlog. Sometimes, the hardest part of playing a game is just putting the game into the system, as odd as that sounds, and that's exactly the case, here. Because of all my second guessing, I end up putting the game down right after I pluck it from my shelf. I never even get to start it up before I'm finished with it.

Once I actually force myself to start playing the game, despite what I may be thinking, I find myself enjoying it, and it makes sense that I do. I liked them enough, initially, to want to finish them, some day, so why shouldn't I like them when I get started, now? (I do still reserve the right to dislike them after I start playing, though, as was the case with Dark Souls, although I'm giving that one last chance.)


Right now, my backlog looks like this, but when I'm finished with it, it'll look like this...in corpse form.

This weekend, I beat Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, got halfway through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, nearly beat Sonic Adventure, and started Banjo Tooie. Decent progress. So, what's the major lesson, here? I don't know if there is one. 

Everyone handles their backlog differently. For me, I just needed to really force myself to sit down and play, rather than over-think it. I know there are others that have a much easier time tackling their backlog, and there are those who have a hard time dealing with it, like I did. I guess you just have to find what works for you, even if it sounds absurd (like my method did to me, at first).

My monstrous backlog has been living for far too long. It's time to put it out of its misery, and now, I know that I have the capacity to do so. And so, I will dive into the depths of that cave where my backlog thrives, and I will carve out its heart.

Let the war on my backlog officially commence.
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