Ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally come. The fine excellent people over at the Mother 3 fan translation have finished their work, testing is wrapping up, and the patch for the game will be released by the end of this week.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to go run around campus sans pants.
In the meantime, for those of you unfamiliar, a quick synopsis.
Mother 3 was released in 2003 for the GBA, and was the highly anticipated sequel to Mother 2 (Earthbound. Mother 1 was for NES and was fan translated as "Earthbound Zero", found in the usual locations). The preceding game is recognized as one of the best parody RPGs, and spoofs everything from basic Dragon Quest mechanics to American culture, of the latter containing gross exaggerations of themes seen in American TV imported to Japan. Starring the above pictured Lucas, Mother 3 parts from the traditional linear framework seen in Mother 1 and 2 in favor of a chapter based story, similar to that in Draqon Quest IV, with each chapter showing different points of view on the story. To quote the wikipedia article, "Mother 3 is set in the Nowhere Islands. Chaos ensues after an invasion by the Pig Mask Army, named after the uniforms, which resemble pigs, and its leader the "Pig King". They slowly construct a police state, while experimenting on the land's flora and fauna, and introducing new technology and infrastructure to the islands. The various chapters record the life of a boy named Lucas and his family and friends, banding together to rid the Nowhere Islands of the Pig Mask Army."
If that doesn't set your quirk alarms off, I'm not sure what will. The story sort of reminds me of a short story about the evil pie kingdom which I wrote in my AP Government exam, but that's another subject entirely.
The gymnasts among you may beg to differ, but I declare Jenga to be the ultimate balancing contest.
No, not playing the actual game, though that can be quite entertaining in its own right. What I'm referring to is something the blocks are perfectly suited for, much more so than the average domino or largish Lego block. I can recall spending hours, just me and the Jenga blocks, carefully balancing single pieces, adjusting counterweights, and fashioning several sets together to create structures of massive proportions. One breath and the whole thing could come crashing down, much to my parents' dismay upon stomping on a lone block on the living room floor.
Aside from the occasional physics sandbox, not many games have succeeded at transposing this fun to the virtual space; the games under the Jenga moniker certainly do not fit the bill. Phun does to an extent, but its complexity just as much hurts as helps it. Every other new flash game seems to be a physics playground, though most of these have goals based around the physics and not built into the physics itself. Even then, it is rare to see one that works building into the mix instead of taking pieces away while trying not to cause a collapse, as in traditional Jenga. Just over the horizon, though, is one that may be a near perfect substitute.
Some of you may be familiar with the much heralded Tower of Goo, which won several awards when it released a couple years back. Based around little oily balls which can be dragged around to fashion a tower, it does as good a job as any game of bringing good old fashioned block stacking to the computer, and its followup is coming quite soon and looking to do just as good, if not better, of a job. Made by the wonderful guys over at 2dBoy, World of Goo takes the same mechanics as its predecessor and wraps them around a series of puzzles, and then those puzzles around a story as charming as in most commercial games, to say nothing of indie masterpieces. While Tower of Goo stopped gameplay elements at its namesake, World of Goo gives those building bits a goal beyond making the highest thing possible.
I noticed RockPaperShotgun's glowing review last week and figured I would drop a preorder to see what all the hype was about, and just the chapter 1 preview they give as a preorder bonus is an amazing piece of work. Looking through the review it looks like later puzzles have other goals, but what I have played so far works pretty similarly to lemmings as far as the ultimate goal is concerned. You have numerous goo blobs which you can connect together, making structures to get all of them to a pipe at the end of the level, but each goo blob you use in the structure subtracts from the total that can possibly escape. Each level has a specific goo blob goal, and additional blobs rescued over this amount go into an extras pile. These can be used in a semi-competitive metagame, called the "World of Goo Corporation," but do not let the name fool you; it's Tower of Goo, but with leaderboards. My Jenga stacking childhood is not only fulfilled, it's also competitive. Such a blast this is, and I see 2dBoy having much success when it comes out on both PC and WiiWare on the 13th. Their preorder bonus does not stop at the preview of chapter 1, though. Those who preordered the game will be receiving download links for the full version starting on the 6th, at least on PC. There will be Linux and OSX builds as well, but those are a bit buggy at the moment and will have to wait until the 13th.
To those like me who preordered, I hope to see you in the gooey World of Goo tomorrow. Everyone else, pick it up with no hesitation when it releases on whatever platform you desire; I guarantee there will be no regrets. Meanwhile, I need to get this tower just a bit higher.
A few months ago the adventure path "Scales of War" premiered in the official Wizards D&D magazine, Dungeon. To paraphrase the description,
"The Elsir Vale has known a decade of peace following the rise of the Red Hand. The valley, as well as the town of Brindol, has flourished after adventurers defeated the threat posed by the hobgoblin armies. But now, from out of the hills to the north, a new threat has emerged. Natives of Brindol have been abducted, and the town’s war museum
—dedicated to those fallen in the war against the Red Hand—has been raided and desecrated.
Meanwhile, beyond the Vale, the rumbling rumors of more trouble have begun to surface. Warbands forming in the mountains… Monsters crawling forth from the dark bowels of the world… And people everywhere have begun waking up at night in a cold sweat, uncertain where their feelings of dismay and panic come from…"
Overall it's had a good reception, and tomorrow evening, and every Sunday evening for the next several weeks, I'll be diving into it with a few other guys through the online tabletop client Fantasy Grounds. After each session I plan on expanding on our progress in a bit more of a narrative fashion right here, both providing for me an easy way to reflect on the session and possibly providing some entertainment for any interested. Keep an eye on this blog Monday morning if you have any interest; I may also post a little prologue tomorrow before we dive into it. For a little background, here are our characters and their respective appearance descriptions and backgrounds.
Appearance - Tall and lithe with flowing silvery hair. Lightning storm seems to dance in his pupils. Those who stands next to him will feel their hair/fur prickling.
Background - Two score and five years ago, I awakened in the middle of the powerful storm that beached seven ships. Ever since, life is a constant struggle between the discipline of action and the torrent chaos of my elemental might.
For I was an impulsive and wild youth, the elders in my tribe apprentice me to an ancient eladrin to control my emotion. Under his tutelage, I learnt their way of battle. Recently, my master sent me away to see the world with my eyes unclouded with hate and anger, and to test the skills i now bear with pride.
Words of arcane are my armor, and with a thought, I can call upon elemental power to coat my sword. Woe betide those who seek me harm!
Appearance - Wavy hair and blue eyes, Rondor stands fairly tall. He is of medium build but seems to be fit. He looks closer to human but mainly because his hair covers his ears and his other features arent particularly elven.
Background - The progeny of an Elven cleric mother and a Human woodsman father, Rondor was granted opportunity to see many things as he grew. He witnessed his mother and father fight side by side to save the forest where they lived. He saw how they both were willing to fight for the good of others and not for personal gain. He witnessed his only sister die...
Pelohir (my character):
Appearance - Rough and wiry, Pelohir is heavily calloused from his years in the wilderness. Of relatively average strength, his forehead and chin are marked with numerous tattoos, and he is wary to speak of their origins. At first glance, he appears dark and brooding, his hood casting a shadow over his features and, when cast aside, revealing long hair tied into a tight braid behind his head.
Background - Raised from birth by a roving band of hunters, Pelohir was left an orphan when a pack of kobolds one night stormed through his camp, ransacking and massacring everyone except for young Palohir who had managed to hide in the brush. Now decades have passed, and since then he has wandered the wilds hunting and foraging to survive, only venturing into towns for the most necessary of supplies. For countless nights Palohir has dreamed of the only image he recalls from that eventful night, that of a massive orc dripping in blood, rallying his kobold horde with the ruins of the camp in flames about him. Palohir yearns to find this orc one day and avenge his family and former companions, and consequently deeply distrusts any half-orc he meets in his travels. Never one to stay with a group for any long period, Palohir is quiet and aloof from any companions, but can be trusted to carry out anything he sets his mind to.
Appearance - Mostly simple clothing. He wears slightly flowing clothes, though not fullrobes, basic colours except a small medium length chain necklace that notuntil someone gets close can they see a detail of Melora.
Background - Moriven grew up not close to large cities, but in the country side. His father while a simple father his mother was a wizard. They were some 10 miles from the closest human village and they tended more to the nearby forest elves. At the age of 22 he went off against his mother's wishes to a mages order, by the name of Telrec. Not a very established order, but with his limited connections and resources it was the best he could afford. The classes were tiresome and boring too easily conquered, at times he left the order to visit any nearby community of elves or simply spend some time in some more serene distant pocket. Because of his lack of interest in study he wasn't considered to be advanced enough to learn the higher magics, and so he left the order at the age of 27. One bad habit however was picked upat the order and the elves were of little help as well, and that is his belittlement of smaller races, though slight it does come out in various occasions. Fellow humans sometimes even feel a little of this at times when he speaks of the virtue of Elven culture, and Elves conversely become a little confused and sometimes silently contemptible at his theories. Part of the problem is he speaks a little too proudly and thinks himself more charismatic than he is.
Appearance - Nomad is a burly looking Drow with a small goatee and long grey hair. He is a lean but well shaped elf but isn't very strong. His two main obvious features are his glowing violet eyes and his large tattoo like spellscar on his face and left arm. The spellscar is a birthmark and glows and bleeds slightly when he uses very powerful magic (like encounter and daily spells)
Background - Nomad was born with a large spell scar on his face and his family saw it as a bad omen and was left on the surface to die. He was found and adopted into a surface dwelling cult of warlocks. Because they tended to commit terrible atrocities they were eventually killed off by a group of adventurers. Nomad was still pretty young and was shown pity by the adventurers and was left to fend for himself. That act of kindness although he was still left alone in the wilderness made him turn away from evil. Now Nomad wanders the world in search of truth, his destiny, and a god/dess to worship.
He has no preference when it comes to gods. The last one he was supposed to have worshiped, Lolth, seemed to have betrayed him and left him to the wilderness which seems to have brought him more luck. So without worshiping a specific god he worships and gives thanks to neutral gods of nature.