Hi. Do you like hotdogs? Do you like funky fanfares playing in the background while you eat hotdogs? If so, why not press play in that video right there while reading this blog, which is kind of like eating a hotdog. Or an asshole, depending. Enjoy.
For a while there I thought I was losing the battle in giving a shit about gaming. I still don't, to an extent. But I want to care more, I just don't know where exactly to put my energy. If I were smart, I would work on a writing portfolio and use it to get hired on a dev team, and eventually make "Devil's Playground" a reality.
What, you thought I was joking last week? You thought I just pulled that out of my ass? Well, you thought right, for about half of what I wrote. The other half I'm actually hoping someone has the balls to do Fucked-Up Indie Comedy/Horror Film: the Game. Most likely starring Ellen Paige, the way things are going. I want it, and by proxy, I know you want it, too. Well actually, I don't hope for it to happen one day, because that's too much faith to put in someone else that I don't know.
I just want it.
In the meanwhile, I guess I could put energy into playing games that keep my attention for more than a couple minutes, which lately seem to be only tactical strategies with unit permadeath. Because I also play chess, and you don't get to reload your game when you loose your queen in chess.
Did I mention I suck donkey ass at chess?
My relationship with the Fire Emblem series began on the Game Boy Advance, back in 2003, I believe. Wait, that was almost a decade ago? Jesus... Anyway, it was a significantly superior experience to Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced. To put it simply, I hated almost everything about FFTA and I liked most things about Fire Emblem. I liked that it had a more mature tone akin to the first FFT game, but a different set of combat mechanics. I liked the amount of badass detail in the combat animations and I liked the music. I don't remember the story at all, but it was decent enough for me to keep going and beat the game. What I didn't like was that it reminded me of how much FFTA disappointed me. So much that I made a thread on gamefaqs entitled "Square doesn't like making good games anymore" and went on about how I had to rely on another developer to uphold quality storytelling and combat design in their RPG games.
It was met with disapproval; some of it justified, probably. My only gratification came from the fact that I had downloaded FFTA instead of buying it. One of the smartest consumer moves I ever done. Man, I felt like I really stuck it to them by not buying the game. I won that round... And then they made a sequel a few years later that sucked just as much.
I don't like Square Enix, you guys. I want them to get fucked. They're the Japanese EA as far as I'm concerned. But they make games. They may not be good games, but they're still games. That's good, right?
Anyway, Fire Emblem. After my experience with it on GBA, I snagged the Gamecube installment ASAP when it launched. It, too, looked promising as all get-out. Upgraded graphics, expanded battle mechanics, and another decent story that I'd ultimately forget the entirety of at some point. Shit delivered.
I guess story isn't really a deal-breaker for me like I used to think. Final Fantasy Tactics really set the bar, but so long as the dialogue doesn't make me want to break the disc, it's kind of a nothing matter. What matters is that I feel like a badass tactician, making badass units kill badass things in badass ways. Dude, if you ever wanted to feel that, Fire Emblem lets you fucking do it, unless you're not into the anime style art and animations. Which I am. Not to say I'm a fan of anime in general, I simply appreciate quality artwork - especially if I can make that quality artwork stab things in slow motion.
So yeah, I bought a 3DS specifically for the newest Fire Emblem. I know what you're asking, because I was faced with the same conundrum: $200 for one game? In this economy, in these hard times, do you really believe that to be the smart decision?
Bitch, I've made bad financial decisions in my lifetime. This certainly was not one of them. Plus it was on sale for $120 at Target, so shit ended up being $180 including tax (and the game) instead of $260+. See? I'm dumb, but I'm smart in my dumbness.
I've yet to beat it. Unlike other SRPGs, unit classes aren't readily available to be replaced. So when it's gone, you're that much more fucked going into the next battle without it. Which is what happened to me, pretty much for every battle after a certain point. I'd get an archer, he'd die, then I get screwed by wyvern riders. I lose a priest, then try using only potions to heal units, and then over half my guys on the field die. Way to make me feel fucking rusty, Fire Emblem Awakening.
Like hell I'm starting over on normal, but goddamn. I don't think I've reloaded saves this much since playing Dragon Age to see the different choice outcomes. That was a preference, though. I have to reload here out of necessity. I can't move forward without that fucking unit. DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? NO I CAN'T LET THE MYRMIDON KILL EVERYTHING, EVERYONE NEEDS TO LEVEL UP. GODDAMN IT, WHY WOULD YOU ATTACK TWICE LIKE THAT? IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. ATTACK ONCE SO YOU CAN DEFEND ON THE NEXT TURN AND NOT DIE YOU FUCKING IDIOT. HOW THE FUCK D-oh my bad, I guess I should've checked to see if that ONE BARBARIAN, OUT OF ALL THE FUCKING BARBARIANS ON THE MAP HAD A HAMMER INSTEAD OF AN AXE. FUCK ME, RIGHT?
You see? $180 well spent.
That happened as well. Kind of ashamed about that. Went from classic, to normal, to baby-mode, and now I'm about 6 months in and regretting starting with Ironman on. Jesus christ, this fucking game. I went looking for memes, and I must have laughed for about a half-hour straight. But really, I was crying on the inside, as you do when you play XCOM - when you're not crying on the outside...
(it's funny because it's true. and it happens a lot)
(it's funny because Africa)
(unrelated yet clever picture)
You may call yourself a god trying to beat this shit on impossible ironman. I'd call you a masochist. I was never acquainted with the original PC game, but I feel like I should have been. Then again, I might not have bothered with it, since isometric games at the time looked like butt by the time I started playing on the PC, and I don't think screenshots really do it justice. Well, screenshots don't really do ANY strategy games justice. A screenshot of chess doesn't do it justice. Unless...
Yep, I'm on board.
Because whoever loses dies.
That's what I want to happen.
I lightly touched on how important story is. Part of the charm of the unit permadeath factor is that it provides emergent story on top of the in-game story, if you're into that. Whether you want to or not, you begin creating relationships, either between you and certain units, or between the units themselves - a notion that the Fire Emblem series creators have zeroed-in on and locked down within the gameplay itself. A pretty fucking ingenious move, if I may say so (even though it smatters of dating sim, and you know how that fucking turned out). I still remember stories I created between units in FFT. And given the dark nature of the cannon storyline, shit was intense. It was a pretty big deal when a unit died, not just from all the grinding and job skill combining, but also because of the backstory I put in along with that particular unit, which is fairly easy to do in that game. I think that's what initiated my thirst for permadeath in my SRPGs.
If a game with an already intriguing plot and semi-memorable characters can allow me the luxury of directly creating further narratives within that universe, in turn, affecting the way I play the game, that's something special right there.
Unless of course you're playing XCOM, in which case, you can't get attached to anyone. Ever.
"Nihil" is the pseudonym I use for writing and gaming on the internet. I came across Destructoid by searching for information on Way of the Samurai 3. Tubatic had the most comprehensive coverage on it I'd seen anywhere.
For that, and for leading me to this extraordinary community, I thank him.