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!
There are lots of nice things I could say about Burroughs. I like her better than her predecessor, Arthur - for example. There was just something very "I can't let you do that, Dave" about Arthur. I still actually haven't gotten around to finishing Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, but I just had that feeling about him given all the other sci-fi and horror movie tropes seemed to play out as expected.
I would even go so far to say I like Burroughs better than Siri. Granted, I can't ask Burroughs any question I want and have her google the answer for me, but in Shin Megami Tensei IV for any Shin Megami Tensei kind of thing I would need she has an app for that.
And Burroughs has a nice, soothing voice. Navigational AIs and "oracle" kinds of character have been part of the SMT franchise since Persona 3. Our "oracle" types in Persona have either sounded like a phone sex operator, timid, beary annoying or extremely girly-girl. Since Strange Journey had no voice acting and the only navigational AL before Burroughs, I'm sticking to Arthur being a "I can't let you do that, Dave" type. I'd say between Mitsuru Kirijo and Burroughs, I'd give the edge to Burroughs and want her as my navigational AI for everything, augmenting my reality and keeping me updated on important things wherever I go.
But breakfast is not a quest nor does it require status updates.
Breakfast is breakfast. And while breakfast in East Mikado seems to be as mundane as a loaf of bread - I mean, really, not even cinnamon raisin bread - its still just breakfast. If its a late breakfast with friends, its still nothing I needed jotted down in my quest log.
These other samurai friends of mine, as it is, seem to not be aware of the concept of privacy, just walking into my room and informing me breakfast is happening. Walter not knocking I get, he's not much for rules or courtesy but someone as refined as Jonathan and Isabeau should know better. Even though Isabeau turns down the prospect of breakfast with her fellow samurai, there she is barging into my room for other things.
So if Walter and Jonathan want to eat bread by the lake late in the morning - I've made a mental note of it. This is not a quest and when I interact with my friends I don't need to know how well the "quest" is going. I am sitting by a lake eating bread. There is no objective to sitting by a lake, no treasure to hunt and no demons to slay or befriend.
Chances are of a old man dressed in gray is dragging some halfling out of his hobbit hole to slay a dragon there might be a quest there. When your high school turns into a twisted tower at night, that's something to investigate. When some rich people want me to rig a detonator to a inactive nuke in a town that was dumb enough to be built around it - it might not be noble or honest, but if there's a reward there its a quest.
Breakfast is not. Nor is lunch, dinner, getting dressed, going to the bathroom or taking a nap. Not quests. These are things people just do. However, if I decide to go idle because looking at my Demonica suit in 3D is awesome - you have permission to compliment me on how awesome I look.
All that aside - I want to keep you around, Burroughs. If you could be a permanent fixture in my 3DS, that would be great.
Some days you just wake up in a hospital turned into a demon. At least on the days you go to visit your sick teacher with two of your your classmates, some weirdo with a demon tries to kill you, your teacher stops him and then you see her end the world. After seeing the world turned inside out and all human life outside the hospital is wiped out, she expects you to find her when there are demons all over the place.
On the bright side - school's out forever.
Also, while you were in shock about the world-ending thing, this blonde boy fed you a weird worm with mandibles to turn you into your aforementioned demon self. Then there was a voice in ringing in your head, telling you to go find your "Reason" and to bring it to him.
But hey, as soon as you're up and about you're starting to make friends and influence demons thanks to a friendly pixie and a few others you just teamed up with. Together you took down a flying ice manta ray and that's a good start.
Did I mention some old man hires the son of Sparda to hunt you down?
This is Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - a step away from most of the JRPGs you know. Things take a turn for the strange pretty fast and only get more surreal from there. Even if you've played the Persona spin-offs under Shin Megami Tensei's banner, you're clearly not in for some breezy high school days or youthful coming-of-age stories here. Oh, you'll see your friends again, don't worry - just don't be surprised if they've gone to some really disturbing extremes to keep up with your fancy, tattooed all-powerful Demi-Fiend self.
In Persona you might kill time with your friends; but with SMT games, in time, you might kill your friends. Well, maybe just one of them. Or all of them. Depends which alignment you're going for, really. Most SMT games go for three or four alignments leading to the same number of endings. Nocturne ended up with six endings after its re-release (for America and Europe, that's just our normal version). Regardless, you won't be leveling up Social Links with the bridges you'll likely be burning. Gaining demon loyalty is about the best it gets - so make nice with that succubus, I promise she won't take your soul.
In Nocturne the few humans that remain are all scrambling to to amass enough spiritual energy, called Magatsuhi. to call forth a god that embodies their "Reason." There are other groups in this race, too - the Mantra, the Assembly of Nihilo and the Manikins. This on top of your two classmates, a nosy journalist, your teacher and that weird guy that tried to kill you with a demon at the start. All of them want a piece of the action, to reshape this world to their liking - and for you to willfully or unwittingly help them reach their goalsbecause RPG.
Did I mention a nice old man with a really hot nurse wants you to find all his candelabrum? Turns out some skeleton jerks stole his collection. He gave you one of the candelabrum because they resonate when they're close to one another, so you can find them and beat these jerks down to take the candelabrum things back. The old man's nurse promises to tell you more about world as you find these candelabrum. Well, anything to help make this Vortex World make more sense, right? Save some candles!
Don't underestimate those fiends, though, or Matador will pretty much own you like he does everyone else. Trial by fire, that guy. He might seem like a mini-boss, but he is more of an early high-level boss.
Facetiousness aside, Nocturne was the first JRPG I played in the last generation to carry its subject matter with the right amount of seriousness and humor. I think much of that is due to its focus on being one of the more silent entries of the series in hindsight. While you will make contact with others and commonly negotiate with demons to make them your allies, there's a sense of solitude within this particular game that I could really only put up there with Metroid, Dark Souls, Fallout or Skyrim. Much of its emptiness is to really show the world has died. You might see the odd disembodied human soul here and there, but aside from the demons the world is a lonlier place now.
Nocturne was also he most surreal game I had played since Zelda: Majora's Mask. No creepy mask salesmen here, its more about the environments themselves - like prisons where you have to fall down to reach the top floor, shopping in Ginza or visiting Hell. Part of it is also the way they employed the cel-shading. Everything area has a dream-like quality about it and the only non-SMT games from the prior generation to really get there were Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
Kazuma Kaneko's artwork was also rather striking to me. Having not played the series prior to Nocturne almost a decade ago, I thought it was rather remarkable that the character concept art matched the in-game assets almost perfectly. Additionally the monsters had really interesting designs, ranging from the dignified to the totally perverse. You had cute demons, sexy demons,... phallic demons. No matter what myth or folktale they came from, the beastiary gave a little history on the character so you felt like you were learning something about world religious and folklore.
And given the usual Law and Chaos factions were sidelined for this game, it was interesting to see where the usual Law and Chaos demons aligned with the new Reasons.
Even when you implement demon fusion to take two demons and create a new one, once you start accessing some of the higher tier fusions there's a certain symbolism to how they function. For example, to create Metatron, you have to first create Uriel, Michael and Gabriel - basically the angels that rank right beneath him. That's just an example, but its interesting how often that kind of detail can come up in the gameplay mechanics.
Admittedly, the gameplay itself feels a bit slow compared to more recent entries in the franchise and its spin-offs, but for its time the turn-based combat of the Press Turn system was refreshingly fast-paced and if you were just facing weak enemies you could fast forward the fight to auto-select physical attacks. Turns out that's been a series staple since the original Megami Tensei over 25 years ago.
In fact, much of the game's design, super-grindy as it is, seems interested in not wasting the player's time. Sacrificial fusions can boost demons to higher levels so they learn their skills more quickly in one level-up. And since demons are considered recordable data, they can be recording into a compendium to resummon. If you fuse a demon you like away you can buy it back with all its skills later.
The skill inheritance system is a bit rusty compared to more recent entries, too. Since higher-tier skills from "parent" demons have a lower percentage in being inherited in the resulting fusion, you often had to refresh the fusion a few or even several times to see an assortment of skills you wanted to pass on. More recent games restrict the inheritance of higher-tier stuff further, but commonly allow you to select the traits you want from the parent demons and you can even upgrade their skill sets with cards depending on the game.
I know I've not said much about the music here, probably because it would be a source of much gushing and I'd fill another entire post with music videos. Suffice to say, this game loves some grinding rock guitar, dance music, piano and organs. I'll just share one of my favorites and if you want to hear more, go here:
Regardless of some rough edges and a rigidly silent presentation, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is a game that still holds up well today and something I would recommend trying out even after you're done with your shiny new copy of Shin Megami Tensei IV. Its a game that both departed from and rewrote the mythos of the franchise and its own surreal, dark world remains worth experiencing.
Okay, so I don't know if anyone around here has noticed, but I really like Shin Megami Tensei.
Kidding, I think everyone knows.
My love is not to the exclusion of other RPGs, mind you, but I would say as JRPGs go its defined the last decade for me in the way Final Fantasy VI and SNES/Game Boy RPGs defined my teen years. SMT has been around about as long as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy have been, but really didn't touch western shores in a big way until just over nine years ago on the PS2
Before that, we just had the PSX Persona games and The Demon Slayer on Game Boy Color, which were placed under the "Revelations" banner. And the PSX Persona characters were deeply Americanized and laughably localized by the folks at Tecmo. Let's positive thinking!
So why do I like the series so much? Well, I'll answer that question, but before I start if you're wondering where to start with the series - just start with Shin Megami Tensei IV next week! While there will be nods and allusions to other SMT games within SMT IV, there's no direct continuity to follow. Explaining what those nods and allusions mean would be like explaining every season of Dr. Who in one blog post. And there are about as many post-apocalyptic Earths in the SMT franchise as there are Dr. Whos - so yeah, that wibbly-wobbly multiverse stuff.
But lets begin, shall we? Why does this pixie like SMT?
This is going to be more of an ongoing thing through the post, in fact, i already linked some of the music above. These are remixed compositions of Shoji Meguro's work in what are mostly SMT-related games (remixed by Niconico user Mosutoro). The dude just has amazing range, capable of crafting the right music for the tone and spirit of each game he touches. I really just can't get enough of his work.
Nocturne's soundtrack has a blend of gothic organs, rock guitar and techno. Digital Devil Saga skews to pure rock most of the time, with some sections more laid back than others. The Devil Summoner games have a bouncy, jazzy slant to them, bringing brass sections right along side the rock and they also have moments that befit the detective stories they weave. Strange Journey goes orchestral in the cinematic sense with a male choir chanting through it. No matter the game, the music tends to be really great. Even the piano bits are wonderful.
Muguro actually is not working on SMT IV, however, Ryota Kozuka (who also had a hand in Persona 4, Devil Survivor and more) will be assuming composing duties he will be reprising some of the prior composers' works in addition to having a chance to make his mark on the franchise. I'm looking forward to hearing it.
The Post-Apocalypse Setting
It might be a bit cliche from a western perspective, but the post-apocalyptic setting is a rarity for JRPGs. Often, you're not saving the world here - no, the world is already fucked - you're just going to decide where it goes from there. Kinda like Fallout, but with demons, angels and storybook characters littering the landscape rather than mutants or zombies or whatever.
Well, there are zombies, but they're technically demons here, too. Plus you can talk them out of eating you, bringing me to my next point!
Your first friend is a pixie and she teaches you how to negotiate!
Among the first characters you'll encounter on the battlefield is a friendly Pixie who will teach you how to make friends and influence demons. You're going to be alone in this post-apocalyptic wasteland, so sometimes its better to talk with the beings you meet and attempt to befriend them rather than kill them.
They often want to hear your opinions or ask for things before they'll be persuaded to join you - and sometimes they're just jerks that run off with the stuff you gave them - but sometimes the best way out of a fight is to just talk. Never hurts to ask someone to become your demon until that someone gets upset and attacks you.
Also, in Nocturne, that first Pixie you meet can eventually become a very powerful ally if you keep her around (so don't lose track of which demon you fused her to or dismiss it).
As fun as Pokemon can be, the pokemon breeding thing can get tedious when it comes to passing on traits and such. You've probably even seen the joke site for Pokemon Fusion - take two pokemon, use science and create a new one with a funny name.
SMT actually uses this idea in most of its main series games and spin-offs, minus the funny names. What's more is before you fuse your demons away into one new demon and you can record the old ones in a compendium. Then you can pay a fee to re-summon the old ones later if you need them again. So yeah, no stupid riding around on a bike, waiting for an egg to hatch and hoping you get the right EVs.
Someone's PC can also get bent.
It is important to note some high level demon traits cannot be passed on to other demons, but for the most part you can pass on traits you like to new demons, customizing them to your liking and playstyle.
Moral Alignments turned on their ear
Taking another page from western dystopias and RPGs, you have the classic Law/Neutral/Chaos alignments present in SMT, but they're never quite what they seem. In SMT, SMT II, SMT Imagine Online, and SMT IV you'll encounter two cults - the Gaians and the Messians and these guys usually represent two of those alignments.
But like the Democrats and Republicans of today are not the ones of the 1950s the meaning of these alignments - and whoever reps for them - can change. Going back to Nocturne, the old alignments were thrown out entirely and replaced with three new ones - Yosuga, Shijima and Musubi.
Yosuga believes the strong and beautiful should survive.
Shijima believes in an world of perfect stillness and order.
Musubi believes in a world where everyone is isolated and a god.
All before Heaven and Hell get their say, to boot.
You still have a few more paths you could take. Choose one, choose none, go make a deal with Lucifer or tell them all to go fuck themselves. Any answer is yours and yours alone - so do what you feel is best to shape the next world.
SMT IV appears to be going back to Law, Neutral and Chaos, but what Law and Chaos stand for this time out, what ethics the factions are advocating and how they go about them appear to differ dramatically from where they stood in the past.
Combat in SMT is not unlike what you'd find in most RPGs, but it does have it own special flavor. The Press Turn system found in Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga and SMT IV is one of the most fun and progressive combat systems I've had the pleasure of experiencing.
Going beyond just rewarding damage modifers for nailing an enemy weakness, the Press Turn system rewards critical hits and tagging elemental weaknesses with an additional attack turn. This very system inspired the "One More" system of Persona 3 and 4. Play the situation right and you can beat the enemy down quickly and efficiently.
Just as important, however, is the use of buffs and protecting your party's elemental weaknesses. Buffs in most RPGs are just sort of there, marginally affecting the outcome. In SMT those buffs mean a whole hell of a lot - particularly Sukukaja (an evasion and accuracy buff). Guarding your weakness prevents the enemy from exploiting it for an extra turn and evading a hit makes the enemy lose two attack turns. Absorbing or nullifying a damage type also blows two turns for the attacker.
Repel status, well, it steals two turns and you may eat your own sword. I have killed myself and met the Game Over screen for getting careless. So yeah, always scan new enemies for status boosts and weaknesses before attacking, if you can.
[i][b]A good challenge and preparations
Finally, SMT has some reasonably tough battles that require a fair bit of planning, along with mastery of the fusion and combat systems to win the day.
Often, I like to load up my protagonist with physical and Almighty damage skills while balancing the rest of my crew with magic, buffs and healing. Skills you may want to be on the lookout for to buff up your protagonist are Pierce, Focus, Fog Breath, Frikujel, Hassohappa, Megidolaon and various area-of-effect attacks. In Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga and Devil Survivor these skills have all served me well. Some of these skills are also protagonist-exclusive.
And you're going to want demons on your team that know all the healing magic, status cures, party buffs and enemy debuffs. Having a few magic specialists and bruisers doesn't hurt either. Situational awareness and a strong team will get you through your battles a winner.
And that's mostly why I've come to enjoy SMT so much. If were to add anything else I liked about the series, its that it does its commentaries about religions and politics without being too heavy handed about it. It might get the deeply religious or those deeply anti-religion stirred up, but what I've taken away from SMT and its spin-offs is that whatever religion or thematic device gets tapped, its not just done to be controversial and often is treated with as much respect as other themes and devices therein.
Persona is probably the most deliberate in its use of themes. Persona uses Jungian psychology as its thematic backdrop. Carl Jung had a great interest not only in religion, mythology and what that meant for the conscious and subconscious mind, the persona and the shadow - he also had an interest in tarot card reading which is another device Persona loves to draw upon for storytelling, relationship-building and gameplay mechanics.
Shin Megami Tensei and its spin-offs have a great deal of respect for much the subject matter they look at. Sure, you can also kill a disembodied head that thinks its YHVH, but even in games like Devil Survivor the series isn't afraid to question someone's Atheism, either. You can meet Lucifer and everything he says sound so right and yet... you're not sure about the guy since there's so much also biblical about him
While some of the older entries are a bit rough around the edges, I always look forward to the opportunity to see what themes were explored and what will be explored in the newer games.
In the last nine years its never gotten old for me and I think that's something special.
It all began with kicking and screaming... and clinging to the doorframe of the arcade because I didn't really want to go. I had entered a new world and suddenly I knew what my thing was, what would be my passion for years and be my all-consuming reason for living.
Besides pizza, root beer and tortilla chips.
Video game were that reason. There I could find myself hopping over barrels, driving race cars, shooting space bugs and being a cheese wheel that ate ghosts. This was the beginning. That arcade had contained a multiverse of worlds that would eventually also show me ice climbers, street fighters, knights that jousted on ostrich-back and other strange places.
To sate my hunger for games my parents started by getting me some of those lame Commodore 64 games that were really just knock-offs off better things at the arcade. Yes, even back then we had iOS-grade shovelware. In this case it was Chomp-Chase, a game where you are a much slower and less-interesting cheese wheel that eats ghosts and Super Paratrooper which was like the army version of Space Invaders but also kind of one of the earliest tower defense games. You were just a large joystick-shaped turret - if you missed too many of those paratroopers before they landed they'd just eventually shoot you up and take you apart.
But my sister and I got bored of those two games fast. Soon we were back to building couch cushion fortresses and toy mountains in the living room... or making mudpies in the backyard which scared our collie a bit.
And lo, the parents decided they would get a Nintendo Entertainment System because it was the closest thing to arcade graphics and had a selection of more interesting games. It came with the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cart and those were fun, but my dad kinda hogged Duck Hunt and my sister... well, she got too into SMB, always jumping with Mario and jerking the entire NES off the shelf and straight down to the floor below.
That's when I learned about the sturdiness of Nintendo hardware. A lesson I've learned again and again. I've even seen a 3DS bounce pretty high off of a concrete floor. Don't ask me how I managed the bounce, I'm still not quite sure. It still works just fine.
Ah, but I still haven't gotten to where things really began - The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. Once video games gave me larger worlds to roam, that was when I was really hooked. Prior to this I was quite the intrepid outdoor explorer, but you tended to come home sweaty, dirty, muddy, people didn't like when you tried to set things on fire and then you had to have that tick check when you came home even if you were just climbing up trees.
Well, no more of that once I had Zelda and Metroid. Now I had a worlds where I could be a pyromaniac or a demolitionist to discover new places. Sometimes the worst consequences were Moses charging me a lot of rupees for burning down the bush-door to his house or walking into Tourian without the Ice Beam and having the life sucked out of me by floating, vampiric space ticks. That last one is still a bit disturbing, but a that didn't get me spankings like the playing-with-matches thing did.
Sometimes people were nice about my curiosity, though. Ancient spacebird people left all kinds of neat weapons and missile expansions around to find and then there were those turncoat Moblins that would hook you up with rupees so you could continue your war on Ganon.
Oh... damn.... that was supposed to be a secret. Oh well.
It didn't end there, it only grew. Link and Samus would have many more adventures and explore strange, new places. Meeting new kinds of life and dead civilizations. Boldly going where no pixels had gone before.
Later my exploits expanded into games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy Legend. Those were really my first RPGs, full of things to explore - even if some of said exploration was scrounging for things and stuff square by square. I did defeat the Dracolord, but I have to admit making the deity-killing squad of female mutants in FFL was a bit more fun for me. And FFL's overworld theme was a bit more spirited and less melancholy than DQ's.
Final Fantasy VI (shut up, its VI, not III, VI) and Super Mario RPG were also a couple more of my gateway RPGs. It was then I learned Bowser could be a hero and the Mushroom Kingdom was pretty dysfunctional even with Mario around to save the day. With Final Fantasy VI I do regret defeating Kefka in retrospect, since he, too, was against Doma. I didn't agree with how he went about things, though, and that's why he had to be put down.
As time went on I would find more and more worlds to travel to. One had a time-travelling frog knight and a cavegirl, another consisted of a boy out of quest for revenge and asking questions about sailors. I met Link again after a trip through time and he was in some crazy town where everyone was depressed about the moon falling on them. There were also these kids that did tricks and spray-painted stuff all over Tokyo which didn't make the cops happy.
Later Deus Ex would teach me the joys of always looking for an air duct and Fallout would free me from the vault to make small talk with supermutants. They weren't all bad. I like that Marcus guy who sounds like Worf.
Oh, and one day I later found myself in Tamriel and I met this lady who I killed for her boots. Turns out they let me run real fast but I couldn't see a damn thing when I wore them.
Often, I might be exploring a surreal, post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo. Or sometimes I'm part of a tribe trapped inside a Mad Max-style virtual prison. Or a dimension-shifting luchador that can transform into a chicken. Or a mayor in a town populated by animals who've taken a progressive attitude toward crossdressing.
I play games because they just keep giving me these great worlds to explore and make me smile with their wonderful weirdness. Only in video games can you fight hordes of the undead in your heart-patterned undies or hop inside a TV and fight subconscious evils to solve murder cases. Only in video games will you ever answer an AI's questions by jumping or be a party of humans fighting carnivorous robots on the backs of two dead gods.
With so many places to go and so many people to be; with an entire multiverse at your finger tips - who can really say "no" to that?
Okay, so I've been off the c-blog radar for a bit post-wise. I guess you could say its just been a slow month and I've kinda just been in and out of games. Plus I had a free month of Netlix and I was trying to cram down as much Star Trek: TNG and DS9 as I could.
I also watched Escape from LA and went to the theater to see Man of Steel. I only cared to see Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel this summer. I'd say Star Trek was the stronger of the two, though I found the villians of both movies likeable for similar reasons. Benedict Cumberbatch's Khan and Micheal Shannon's General Zod were sort of cut from a similar cloth - very passionate, very duty-minded even if they were also kind of crazy evil.
Though in Man of Steel's case villainess Faora-Ul totally upstaged Zod in many respects, but largely because this version of Zod was much less about grandstanding and more about doing what he felt his duty to Krypton was. Him overseeing a bigger plan left Faora open to just be a total badass brawler. I hope we see her again, they could have her take Supergirl through the school of hard knocks/destroying Smallville next time out.
I also did a ton of walking this month. Lets me catch up on my podcast backlog and it forced me to find a reason to start loading up all my old CDs on iTunes. Also since I use my 3DS as the pedometer, I can stock up on Play Coins for SMT IV. The podcasts are mostly just Sup, Holmes, Podtoid and a transgender one called Sugar and Spice (interestingly enough, it features Bailey Jay, who gets mentioned on Podtoid of late).
Music-wise it was lots of Overclocked Remixes and despite how many other albums I stuffed on that SD card (seriously there's like 50 albums on it), the parakeet in the MP3 player keeps favoring Tori Amos' "Pretty Good Year." On the OC Remix front the most frequently played was "Submereged in Ambiance."
Speaking of things Donkey Kong Country, I also did go check out the Nintendo E3 event at Best Buy. There was a fairly long line for it and I got a load of Streetpass hits - probably more in succession than the rest of the time I've had a 3DS. I even got a little boost for Soul Hackers, which was nice. I stood in the line to play DKC Tropical Freeze and got to play as Diddy and piggy back on DK. It was pretty fun.
After that I hung out to watch the other games on display - Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 all looking amazing, by the way - and watched kids geek out over getting oversized Luigi hats.
There was also a lot of talk about Xbox One in that line. No one wanted one and considering my area is Xbox country, that's not a good sign for MS here. Turns out there are people from out of town and the best they can get is 56k connections.
Game-wise I'm trying to wrap up SMT Nocturne before SMT IV is out. Its kind of been an on-and-off thing since November that I keep procrastinating on it. I'm a little worried if I'll be prepared for the face-off against Lucifer and I'm trying to fuse the best demons for that encounter. Also trying to wrap up Persona 4 Golden since I've been taking my sweet time with it.
Aside from that, I picked up Resident Evil 3 to shake things up. Its actually the only one from the PSX days I never played and I do have to say for its age it holds up rather well, though I wish Jill would shut the hell up about her "final escape" each time I start.
I've also been doing a lot of thinking. I think its time for me to move away from North Carolina. I've given it like twelve years of my life since college and I just don't feel like I've gotten anywhere. The way laws are here, as someone that's trans, also put me at a tremendous disadvantage and with the strong Republican majority this state has I can't see things changing here anytime soon. If they're not going to bend on gay marriage here even after the SCOTUS rules, there's not much hope for them getting progressive on trans* people, too.
I feel a pull further north, to be honest, and its led me to check to see if I actually still have Canadian citizenship. I was born there, but I wouldn't say I ever really lived there. Turns out I might actually still be an eligible citizen and something inside me says Toronto is where I need to be. I think that big of a change could do me some good and break the monotony in my life. I sort of know my family won't approve of that, but there's just nothing here for me in NC. That and I'm tired of the summers here - they suck and are getting worse.
Whatever work I do get up there, I'm also starting to let go of the fear of wanting to be more deeply involved in video games. I don't know how I want to become involved just yet, but again, i think the answers lie where i want to move.
So that's pretty much where I'm at right now. I think I'll go back to scavanging bullets and dealing with a STARRSS-stuck monster now.
Okay, so my last post was a bit on the grumpy side about the Xbox One. Let's look at the bright side for a moment:
Those that fight what consumers want will fail and fall to a someone that didn't. A new market leader or familiar face may emerge to embrace what other corporations have been fighting or to establish the new business model those corporations wouldn't. This has happened a fair bit in the last 15 years. Sony has learned this lesson time and time again. I'm not sure they've really learned it or they're just faking like they did learn right now, but whatever the case might be I've learned the lesson.
Microsoft was apparently sleeping in class, though, so let's just review here, shall we?
Sony once banded with other big record labels and the RIAA to fight off the MP3, filesharing sites, the burning of CDs and they did this all because they liked things the way they were. They liked the money they made on CDs and didn't want the revenue to change. Additionally, the very fact that people were downloading and popularizing music by artists the record labels were not pouring millions of marketing dollars into terrified the industry. The recording industry was spending beyond their means.
Sounds a bit familar, doesn't it?
So in the grand scheme of things MP3s, filesharing sites and CD-ripping were scapegoats for the real problem - the recording industry. Rather than change with the times, accept less money through different and additional revenue streams and give the consumer a better deal the record industry chose to fight their strawmen. That's how Apple resurfaced as the force they are now. Apple saw a market the recording industry was neglecting and established the new business model the big record labels would not.
Sony, Hollywood and video streaming? Lather, rinse, repeat. This time many new options surfaced like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video after Youtube emerged on the scene. And again, overspending and overmarketing were bigger problems that any feature-length movie uploaded to Youtube ever was.
Anyway, Sony's been down the dark road Microsoft apparently wants to walk down. Maybe Sony will walk down it again, but after so many times of having to learn this lesson I would hope they know better at this point. Sony's had plenty of chances to.
Each time corporations fight the consumer and look for scapegoats some old innovator or fresh face has emerged to give consumers what they want - take comfort in that. While the gaming industry proceeds to suppress used game sales and possibly prevent you from putting a great game into the hands of a friend - someone is looking at a better way to get games into the hands of everyone and the company that figures that out will walk away an industry leader.
It could just be as simple as not running your business like a total douchebag. Nintendo, Valve, GoG and Green Man are all pretty awesome in that regard. That's why they'll get my loyalty and business this upcoming generation, so its not going to be all bad news, I think.
Much of what's coming might not be pleasant, but its looking like this industry is condemned to repeat history and that's actually a good thing in the long run.