I'm 30-something. I play games and sometimes type things. I summon deities and demons, shoot raiders and wish to settle down with another girl for turn-based battles on the beach, chocobo rides and torchlit dinners in ancient Nordic tombs.
When I'm not slaying dragons or saving the galaxy, I'm probably roaming the open world, rolling into a ball to access secret passages and seeing if my Paragon rating is high enough for discounts at the mall.
For other things and stuff about me you can read here, here and here. You will learn of my origins, my trials and tribulations, how I became a superpixie and what games I really, really like!
Last week I got a Nexus 7 and talked about it. I got it to meet basic computing needs my laptop was no longer meeting. I thought that by getting this I would have to delay my conquest of Final Fantasy VI and Persona 3 Portable until I got a new Vita and now here I am...
So yeah, I turned to the dark side of the tablet and I'm resuming my journey through said games, just from scratch. I couldn't stay pure and saintly about my gaming this time.
I felt it had to be done. The generic, uniform feel of many mobile games was making me numb. There are only so many Candy Crush or Puzzles and Dragons clones I can take. Were it not for Star Wars: Tiny Death Star and Plants vs. Zombies 2 I might have gone insane before going this route - and while all those games are nice, they don't scratch my RPG itch at all. Not like this or P3P does.
So in keeping with the Star Wars theme I'm going with here I'm just "smuggling" my games to my tablet. It is piracy but its piracy of (mostly) things I already have so smuggling sounds good. It's less of a dark side choice and more a scoundrelly Han Solo decision. A mildly Renegade Shepard choice for the Star Wars uninitiated.
Plus it also gives me the excuse to play this, finally, since it never saw a US release anyway:
Its also gotten me to try some games, such as the Summon Night series, which I had not heard of or tried in years past. Discovering these games and others has had the curious effect of me adding them to my Amazon wishlist.
I try something and if I like it, I'm adding things to wish lists and before you know it I'm hunting through indie games stores for the stuff. Even with Napster back in the day it was like this for me - download some MP3s and then it was off to the record store. Though back then I also did that to lure record labels into sending promos to my campus newspaper because we did music reviews. Turns out that actually worked since those papers got to them and we had an online version of the paper.
Some "dark side" my piracy turns out to be. At this rate I'll be blowing all my money. Perhaps Tiny Death Star got it right - The Dark Side is really just in bed with everyday capitalism.
So it seems a Fallout 4 announcement is nigh. That's good to know since my plans to build a gaming PC or at least get a Steam Box to run it are also planned for next year. I love post-apocalyptic RPGs and Shin Megami Tensei V is probably a ways off, so a new Fallout is highly anticipated and clearly the next best thing for me - though I will give Wasteland 2 a shot when I'm able to.
At any rate, I'm already dreaming about scavenging for weapons, caps and fending off raiders with my trusty magnums to the tunes of days gone by. Here are four things I'd like out of Fallout 4!
Do more New Vegas-like things.
As Fallout games go, I am someone that liked FO3 but loved New Vegas. FNV felt more connected to Fallout and Fallout 2 in terms of universe, balance, morality and narrative. Perhaps part of it is the western American setting, which has a bit more series lore going for it, but it certainly didn't hurt that Obsidian developed it - they have many of the people that worked on Fallout and Fallout 2 back in their Black Isle days.
FNV had more challenge to it, it made you think harder about how to spend your perks and NPCs conversations were more in-depth. Local fame, faction and choices affected your ability to get new quests and also affected how people interacted with you. Basically, everything felt connected and your choices mattered. Your choices were reflected from start to finish.
Its important that when you champion choice in narrative that you really mean it and Obsidian seems to handle this better than most developers do. It was even rather staggering how much NPCs had to talk about compared to NPCs in Bethesda Game Studios or Bioware games. It really helped build the world right alongside your own experiences.
But the best part?
For me, it was that there was no purely good faction. Even your most altruistic, well-intentioned members of the Followers of the Apocalypse were asking you to plant bugs in someone's computers to monitor their actions. The noble NCR had little problem denying aid to those that needed it if they didn't pledge to be a citizen of the NCR. Mr. House did seem like he could bring order to the Vegas strip, but he was a man from another time trying to control the future.
We know the Legion are a bunch of slavers and thugs. We know the Brotherhood of Steel are a weapon-hoarding cult of power-armored nannies. There is no real reason to trust either.
Otherwise who's to say what's really right? It seems like no matter who you side with in New Vegas there will be some downsides. I just prefer that to being limited to good or evil.
Fallout 3 had to change things to make the Brotherhood of Steel heroic which was a questionable choice. The Enclave are not heroes, but there's no real reason to believe the BoS will work for humanity's greater good when they help you save the day and purify some east coast water supply. They have this doctrine about hording technology for themselves, after all.
A device that purifies radiated water? They'd take that.
If there was one thing that both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas got right, it was the music. Both games had excellent soundtracks that suited the tone of the games perfectly. I very much enjoyed the characters Three Dog and Mr. New Vegas as well, so I welcome the return Three Dog.
However, if I had one gripe about those games, it's that both games were too tied to licensing music from the distant past. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with licensing music from the past - it's just that there are a lot of modern bands today that do music in the style of the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's and they'd fit right in.
Being a fan of the Squirrel Nut Zippers I couldn't help but think of their music while I played Fallout 3. When I played FNV, I felt like I needed some Johnny Cash in there.
The whole series is retro-themed future fiction anyway, so why not? By series lore the bombs don't drop until 2077, so Johnny Cash fits in timeline. Its not like country music in the 60s made leaps and bounds ahead of what was done in the 50s. I think his music still would have happened, even if his career didn't start until 1968.
I think there's some room to take some liberties with music in terms of history. We don't have to be entirely bound to the 1950s and recordings before that. I think Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Prince Nez" are the kinds of songs that would fit in the Fallout universe.
Color and scenery
One of the other sticking points I have about Fallout 3 is that is not terribly colorful. It is a very gray and brown game... a very, very gray and brown game. There was a moment where there was more bright green - actual green, really, really green green. I like that part but I still thought there could stand to be more colors.
In Fallout New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim there were many moments where I would stop and have wanted to take a picture. There are some very visually breathtaking moments those games. Asceding the mountain to meet the Greybeards? Awesome view. And arriving on the New Vegas strip? I nearly barfed rainbows - the bright lights were that pretty.
Now, I know this is a post-apocalyptic series and that there are some times, well, there's practically always a wasteland filled with radiation and mutants to deal with.
Even so, I think there's room for a few more breathtaking set pieces in that vast open world. Supposedly, the setting of Fallout 4 is Boston, Massachusetts. I've never been there but as I understand it in terms of series lore Boston was one of the hardest hit areas when the bombs fell, to the point it is more common to resort to the use of androids for outdoors labor.
There's just that much radiation.
Still, I just want those moments where I can stop and take the scenery in. It doesn't have to be pretty nature scenes, I just want to see Bethesda use color to great effect like they did in Skyrim - even if its just burning neon death for androids.
It is said that Destructoid writer Jonathan Holmes makes his home in Boston, Massachusetts. It is also said, by a certain man, that Jonathan Holmes is Boston's favorite son.
Knowing this, when I arrive in Boston I expect I should see a statue of Jonathan Holmes at the center of the city. This man of legend should have a tribute to his greatness as a professional psychologist and slayer of dogs.
Now, this statue might be in ruin when I arrive. There could be a quest to restore this statue! I certainly would fix the statue.
Perhaps some children made off with his head, as the children seem to love Jonathan Holmes and want to be just like him. You may even be told they hold conventions in the man's honor where they kill dogs. These children have heard of his exploits as Lieutenant Saucy Portions, Soda Baby and Freaky Constantina. Jonathan Holmes' personas are almost as legendary as the man himself, so why not make it a quest to reassemble the statue as one of these personas to give the players some choice?
Perhaps as a reward we could watch one of his great films that he directed and allowed Willem Dafoe to star in!
Yes, this idea above all others is the one Bethesda Game Studios should consider most strongly. Todd Howard and his crew should explore the lore of Jonathan Holmes deeply, probing his innermost depths.
Perhaps as a twist, we can even see that Jonathan Holmes lives on as a supermutant. Maybe when he sees the statue it will bring a tear to his eye.
So I got this Nexus 7 thing today. My laptop ceased to be reliable, money is tight and sadly some sacrifices had to be made - namely my PS Vita and a couple games. Good news is I spent no cash on the tablet and most of my Vita stuff was digital, so my PSN games will live to fight another day.
Sadly, Pokemon X was a casualty, too. I did finish the main campaign and catch MewTwo, but I'd be lying if I said I'm a competitive player. Once I was in the Battle Maison and told Xerneas and Mewtwo were banned from that mode offline, I started to lose some Interest. When it comes to single player content, I want my freedom, not to be trained for how other people expect me to play competitively online.
Unless we're talking a co-op online game, anyway. I'd actually prefer Dark Souls beat people's heads in via single-player if they want to co-op online because I don't want to invite a phantom liability. I just don't think competitive strategy should be forced on single player offline stuff.
Anyway, I have plenty of games to attend to in the meantime - its just my completion of FFVI and plans to play some Persona games were postponed as a result of the Vita sacrifice. Not happy about it, I was about to be reunited with Gau on the Veldt and do my FemC P3 playthrough, but those will have to wait. I also wrote that sentence to remember WTF I was doing in FFVI.
I've been thinking once things are a bit more stable for me that I may get into live streaming and, more importantly, video editing. As weird as the PS Vita TV idea is to me, its more compatible with that stuff than a Vita is so maybe I'll get the Vita TV thing when it is out.
I'm still looking into what I'll need for video-based stuff. I'm not some kid going into this thinking a PS4 and Battlefield 4 would be all they need to strike gold. I am not sure if I want "internet fame" as much as the video editing skills, anyway. I also realize streaming or LPing RPGs - my primary interest - could be really boring when done incorrectly so I'm thinking about ways to address that before going in.
I say this because I've watched plenty of LPs to know that showing every damn random encounter and constantly running back to an inn for cheap heals just wastes the viewer's time. I know that if I was stuck in an RPG and were to watch an LP for help, I would not want to see those things but instead stuff like beating bosses, getting past obstacles, finding good loot and such. I don't want a Fallout video where someone is just spending half the video reverse-pickpocketing grenades and dynamite into people's pants for giggles. I want to see the real highlights, not people just goofing around.
The "goofing around" crowd seems to already be locked down anyway. I think screwing around and shooting the shit works better with live streams when you're still learning a game and showing it off. I like watching them sometimes! It is why I have a Twitch account now.
But with LPs... not so much. I mean, different people play things different ways and that's fine, but I think you need to consider your audience and what they might want if you really want one at all.
My biggest personal concern is bringing my trans*iness online that much further - barring that, I've been artfully dodging cameras all my life anyway - but again, I'm mostly looking to use games to practice video-editing skills. That's where its going to start regardless.
The Persona announcements the Sunday were cool. I'm mostly interested in Persona Q for the mash up of P3 and P4, the chibi Etrian Odyssey art style and its dungeon mechanics meeting the gameplay of the Persona games.
Also, a Chibi Kanji plushie needs to be a preorder bonus.
I get the feeling it might be the last time we see the PS2 era gameplay stylings of the series as we move on to Persona 5 on PS3... plus I think just the dance game would have been a terrible send-off for those characters..
Anyway, that's what's going on with me. I intend to be ready for PQ, P4A2 and P5 when they hit next year. Hopefully everything will back in order well before then.
In the meantime, I'll be doing some Soul Hackers and playing the Zelda Oracle games since I never finished those!
I guess you could say I'm not all aboard the next gen hype train. Even so, the Xbox One and PS4 kiosks arrived at two different Gamestops in my area and I took one of them for a spin.
I'd say both, but the Xbox One kiosk was really just the shell of a XB1 with a Blu Ray player in it. There were no games to be played, just a loop of videos to watch. So XB1 confirmed it can do video things rather than video games. Its the sort of thing that instills faith in people that their $500 dollars was money well-spent.
Thankfully, I'm not among them.
Meanwhile the PS4 kiosk, much like the Wii U kiosk before it, had actual games you could play on it. Imagine that!
But first there was the new controller. It feels fairly familiar, except the shoulder buttons and triggers are much closer together like on the 360 controller so you really only have to devote two fingers there rather than the usual four like on prior Dual Shocks. My only real complaint would be the return of the gummy L2 and R2 triggers. Like the DS3 before it, the DS4's L2 and R2 buttons have too much give and that's going to lead to some gameplay misfires (again).
That aside, I played Contrast and Knack. I will say that Contrast is a lot like Wii's Lost in Shadow or the kinds of 2D/3D puzzles the upcoming Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is angling at. Its a little more technically sound than Lost in Shadow was, though the demo did have a bit of framerate stutter here and there while running at 1080p.
That said, though, I like the mix or 3D exploration and 2D platforming, as well as the whole 1920s/30s setting and aesthetic its going for. It is used very, very well for what time the PS4's timer allowed me to explore it before resetting the system to shoo me away.
You essentially manipulate lighting in 3D situations and then become a shadow and 2D platform your way up to new 3D areas. So its like Lost in Shadow for the prohibition era with 3D stuff in it.
Knack was... well... it felt like what a Crash Bandicoot game would be like if it was very slow, drunk and liked cramming legos together to make a bigger Lego robot. You can move slowly on-rails, slowly smashing things and doing very slow un-Sonic-like homing attacks, evade things slowly with no control over the camera angle or ability to lock on to an enemy. This results in slowly getting hit by things in 2013.
What I'm getting at is the game is slow.
It looks pretty and could be a great E-rated title for kids and adults alike, but it feels like a sluggish proof of concept more than an interesting demo. This is bargain bin fare, I'm thinking. Don't worry, this game won't get anywhere quickly because it has moves like Snorlax.
As a wise man in Short Circuit 2 once said, "It is slower than molasses in January."
There were some other demos, including a FIFA one, but none of those really interested me to try. The kiosk did have a Vita as well, but I didn't look to see if there was any Remote Play demo there for it. My Vita was dangling from my wrist anyway.
So in summary: I know now that the Xbox One plays videos and PS4 plays games.
Pretty much the same song since E3.
Husky-Corgi is the best kind of dog, by the way. I am off to get Pokemon X now.
So playing FFVIII started me on a little Final Fantasy kick, steering me away from my binging on Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Fire Emblem and other games I've played this year. Its actually rather refreshing to go back and see how different things were. I'm not really in it for the nostalgia of it all so much as seeing how much I've grown and also how RPGs have changed for the better (or possibly worse).
I'm about only eleven hours in, just past the part where Relm shows Interceptor to be a bit more gentle and playful than Shadow said he was. Now we're off tracking the Espers, seeing the larger mythos of the world and even as the plot deepens the game keeps most of its elements quite simple. The story isn't convoluted or self-important, the scenarios are perfectly suited for the characters thrown into them and the slightest gesture or animation is enough to support the feelings of the characters.
Its kind of easy to see why a game like Final Fantasy XIII failed to have the spark this game did - even when it assembles the central cast of characters like FFVI does and splits them up apart early on.
Part of it was, again, keeping the story simple. When Sabin, Terra, Edgar, Banon and Locke go their separate ways, each storyarc expands the world, it introduces new playable characters with new abilities. Each scenario is crafted so potential character deficiencies are covered up with the appropriate loot drops, merchant shops and plot devices.
FFXIII left you with the same set cast with a limited range of same-y jobs to learn. And practially none of the characters were cool - just annoying.
When we find Sabin washed ashore in FFVI, though, he stumbles into your first opportunity to recruit Shadow and you can take his powerful throw ability for a spin. Potions regularly drop in random encounters to compensate for the fact you don't have a healer and you can rock some Magitek armor later to access free nukes and heals -allowing you to save those potions.
Its in this particular scenario you really see what a monster Kefka can be and that some of the generals in the Empire aren't evil - just on a different side of the conflict. The act of Kefka poisoning the water supply of Doma shows he's not only willing to murder countless innocents, but his own captured troops - all just for his own twisted kicks.
And its in this situation that Sabin and Shadow meet Cyan. Cyan is the loyal retainer of the king, sworn to serve him and his kingdom. The men Cyan trained and fought alongside, the king, along with his wife and child all die from the poison. An entire kingdom dead and he's the sole survivor. This is more than enough reason for Cyan or anyone from the Returners to hate the Empire and Kefka.
And they could have just left Cyan's motivation there, but there's that bit with the Phantom Train shortly after. Once they realize its the train to the afterlife and fight the train itself to let them off, you see Cyan's wife and son on board as it departs to the Great Beyond. Cyan starts desperately chasing it, wanting to go with them and then... its just gone.
Just.. damn. That's a bad day. Hits you in the heart like Mother Brain killing your baby metroid. Its stuff like that which makes that wicked 16-bit laughter Kefka projects all the more insidious. He's still somewhat amusingly evil in that Joker kind of way, but man you want him dead after that bit of the game alone - and the Doma poisoning is really just the start of his list of atrocities.
And again, none of that section was made too difficult even with the lack of a healer. Save points, merchants and the appropriate items are plentiful. Even if you don't have all the status cures the scenario and ailments can lead to some amazing results.
Like Sabin suplexing a train while berzerked.
And all this is just the beginning of the game, really. There are many more exciting and heartbreaking moments Squaresoft knew what they were doing with this game.
When I think about the fact that this is a game that SE wants to streamline for iOS I just hope they're doing it with their heads on straight. There's not a lot about this game that needs to be retouched, though perhaps you could tweak the spell-learning rate on some of the Magicite, I suppose.
The variety of the cast is also something we really haven't seen Square nail aside from FFIX and FFX. Each cast member has a purpose in FFVI, but the game ultimately leaves it to you to build the party you like.
Will you sow magical destruction with Terra and Strago? Add Sabin and Edgar for shoot-em-up/beat-em-up action? Perhaps the patience of a samurai or the way of the ninja is your bag. Maybe you want a wild child and magical child artists to lay waste to your enemies. Maybe you just want a gambler and a moogle to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or a thie... ahem.. Treasure Hunter to steal phat lewt. Or to have a elegant lady that can absorb enemy spells into her sword. Or some ambiguous character that just does what the last character did.
Or that yeti thing.
In FFVI, the protagonist and how you play is really for you to decide. Terra may be the canon protagonist and she's still among my favorites, but there hasn't been a cast in Final Fantasy this varied and vast before or since.
It really is a great game to revisit and I hope SE really does take a good long look at it when they do the iOS edition. It actually amazes me that when I meet self-proclaimed Final Fantasy fans that this is a game that is still on their to-do list or they've just not gotten around to or don't want to play it because its not 3D.
This is a game that can still hold its own, almost 20 years later and Terra is still a character that reminds me more of myself than Squall or Cloud might. Being a girl trapped between two worlds - I know what its like to just want to burn the bridges and withdraw because of who you are and how people might take to that. That people may feel threatened or want to take advantage of you.
Not everyone will, though.
Someone like that needs a little protection until they know who they are, can mend their own heart and find that thing they cherish and wish to protect. Rather than burn the bridges, perhaps you were meant to build them.
There are sure to be people out there that want to see you fall just because they have or because they feel only their way is right. The bridges leading to people like that are really the only ones worth burning.
The others? Those might be worth building or crossing, even worth protecting.
Sometimes its not so much the nostalgia I seek from the past as important reminders like that. I've always felt a kinship to Terra, perhaps now more than ever. It doesn't hurt that the simple approach to telling a story and elegant game design are there to maintain the magic.
So it looks like Pikachu is going to get in on the sleuthing business. A grand mystery is laid out before him and maybe only a pokemon like him can solve it. Maybe other pokemon can even help him on his quest to stop whatever evils are going down.
But first we have to make sure we've covered all the bases. Detective stories have rules. There's a theft or someone dies before we even get started and, yes, there are the witnesses, the interrogations and various plot twists. I'm confident Game Freak and Nintendo have some these things covered but all the same I'd like to pitch in my two cents. Or several.
First off, all great detective stories start with a woman with a problem. This elegant lady is down on her luck, depressed and naturally going to be incredibly beautiful. We'll need an attractive pokemon if Pikachu is our protagonist. We'll go with a female Lopunny.
She's sure to catch any Pikachu's eye.
And naturally the source of her woes is one of those "Teams" in the Pokemon Universe. Team Rocket or Plamids or Solidus or Whatever. It will have to be a pair of male and female antagonists who take their names from a famous cowboy like Bruce and Leigh, Chuck and Norreese. Or Dolph and Lara Greene.
Whoever they are they've gotten their hands on a Master Ball and are out to capture a legendary pokemon like Farfetch'd. This Master Ball somehow linked to Lopunny because of reasons. We'll say it was a precious family heirloom just to bullshit.
But before we can have Pikachu set out on this adventure, we must have him play the games from the man who created the adventure and sleuthing genres - David Cage. He needs to play Heavy Rain to know that its okay for a detective to pay a hooker to ask her questions and when to have sex with Lopunny at the Pokemon daycare center while children who need his help are in danger of drowning. And that Ellen Page looks a lot like Ellen Page.
After gaining more polygons and even more emotions, Pikachu must equip for the task at hand. For example, he'll put on his trusty deerstalker cap made famous by interstellar detective Khan Noonian Singh. He will also pack a telescope, a katana and his favorite poffin-flavored e-cigs.
Pikachu is a pokemon of the times and knows children aspire to be like him. He will not lower himself by teaching children to smoke, but enlighten them to the pleasures of vaping so Nintendo won't get sued.
And if we must partner Pikachu up with a human I have a couple ideas for that. Brad Pitt or Podtoid's Soda Baby are my top picks. Both of them seem like responsible partners and nothing could possibly go wrong with them.
If we get Brad Pitt, though, we might not want him investigating what's in any boxes and no one should ask him about fight clubs because then Meatloaf dies and is eaten.
Also, there should be birds, danes and broads because detective stories have them. I'm sure there are pokemon for that, even if they sound sexist.
Finally, we're going to need a plot twist. Once Pikachu retrieves the Master Ball from Team Diuqil Ekans and it is returned to Lopunny, she revels it is no ordinary Pokeball but a Humaball. Her evil plans are to mass produce them to capture and enslave humans to do the bidding of all pokemon. Pikachu and his partner will be tied up and hung over a pool of molten poffin mix to be made into poffins, but they escape and stop her.
How is it done? Electricity, my dear Soda Baby. Electricity.
I encourage Nintendo to totally take these ideas and make the best detective game ever.