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!
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.
I'm always puzzled as to why many of my dreams are zombie-related. I can't even rank them as nightmares much of the time. In fact, I don't really even have nightmares that often. I had a roommate that had a lot of them, but my dreams are mostly constant non-sequiturs with zombies and obscure celebrity cameos.
And again, the celebrities are something I rarely think about. I don't watch a lot of TV, hardly go to movies and they're never the celebrities I'm motivated to see these things for. I never get Zoe Saldana. Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson to shoot zombies with or romance, its more like I'll get an incidental meeting with 80's Sigourney Weaver: Zool Edition at a drug store before a xenomorph rings up my purchases and the zombies bust in to eat the pharmacist.
Then I step outside and I'm on a boat docking at Disneyland. Belle, Beast and Jessica Rabbit are there to greet me, Jessica give me a shotgun (she was keeping one in her cleavage, of course) and we hop into Benny the Cab to shoot zombies in Duckburg.
Sometimes I do get the creeps, though. I'm not someone that would Netflix Paranormal Activity or Evil Dead before going to bed. By the same token, there are just some games I can't play or game encounters I can't end with before going to bed otherwise I will be lying there awake all night.These things are more like things that prevent me from sleeping than they are nightmare fuel, but I'm certain if my brain was wired for nightmares they'd find their way in. Instead, they're insomnia fuel.
Redeads, Crimson Heads and Banshees - Zelda, Resident Evil and Mass Effect
I'm going to group these three together despite the differences between the Zelda, Resident Evil and Mass Effect series. They're all basically zombies, but they never get in my dreams - I just get the generic shambling undead.
My first problem is they all are far from your generic undead. Rather than silence, growling or moaning - they all scream. Screaming is unsettling and its all they ever do.
Redeads are like the opposite of Mario's Boos. With Boos, you look at them and they stop in their tracks. If Link makes eye contact with a redead they scream, he's frozen in place and they try to molest him. Despite likely knowing that last part by now, Nintendo still lets them do it - now in HD.
Crimson Heads are slightly mutated versions of your rank-and-file zombie, except they scream and run at you the second they see you rather than moan and shamble. They've also lost most of the skin on their heads and grown claws, too, making them about as nasty as Hunters. Even if you manage to torch a number of the zombie corpses in the GameCube and Wii versions of RE, you're going to eventually run out of lighter fluid and be bumrushed by one of these wailers - all because you didn't dispose of the body by burning it.
Banshees may be the worst. You take Mass Effect's sexy, matriarchal race of the Asari, infuse them with Reaper tech and mutate them into topless preggo beasts. They always scream, absorb tons of damage and can teleport to-and-fro. Nothing seems to take them down quickly, either, because like the less-scary Brutes they're just tank monsters. I'd rather deal with hordes of flaming, exploding Husks.
Grey Children - Various Silent Hill games
I haven't finished many Silent Hill games, but they have monsters that are certainly the stuff of nightmares. Its not the Pyramid Heads or freaky nurses that bother me, though, its the ones you find in the elementary school - the pint-sized terrors known as Grey Children.
Goopy little sacks of flesh wandering around school hallways with knives. Children with knives are scary enough on their own, Children of the Corn confirmed that, knowing there is a hallway full of the little monsters with knives is even worse when you know you don't have the bullets to deal with them.
Omega Metroid - Metroid II: Return of Samus
8-bit and spinach green it might be, but I never enjoyed encountering these things in Metroid II: Return of Samus. It was bad enough the Game Boy's screen and very low resolution made this the most claustrophobic entry in the franchise, this final stage of Metroid evolution is just a bundle of vaguely humanoid WTF.
And they rush you. So they're like half Crimson Head and half Grey Child. Ugh.
Mara - Various Shin Megami Tensei games
Given the right context, Mara can come off as a joke and this is often the case in main series Shin Megami Tensei games as well as the Devil Summoner series. So in that respect, he's just funny and a little embarrassing to have in your party if you're gaming on your 3DS in public.
Without context, however, Mara just comes off as a giant green penis with tentacles riding a gold chariot. The Persona series, as much as I love it, always fails to give any context to his appearance.
Thou art I. I art thou. From the sea of thy soul I emerge -
A giant green tentacled dick on wheels.
That no one in the protagonist's party is ever bothered by that is beyond me.
And to think that's not the only phallic demon to spring from the mind of Kazuma Kaneko or the only one to appear in SMT IV this year. Mara also as a friend that is more or less a razor-toothed, blistered vagina angel. So no matter your sexual orientation, Kaneko has drawn something to mess with you.
The Happy Mask Salesman- The Legend of Zelda series
Of all the things that can terrify me me in a game, I think the Happy Mask Salesman comes the closest. Not only does he manage to rope Link into doing his bidding for two games, the second time I'm pretty sure it was outright blackmail. Link was made to stalk other people on a day-to-day basis, he had to deal with a map maker I'm pretty sure is a pedo and then there's that hand that emerged from the toilet demanding paper. Doing favors for this guy leads to really strange encounters.
I even had to save cows from UFO abductions because of this guy. What other Zelda game even had UFOs?
And this twisted grinning bastard just smiling all the while and you're never quite sure if you can turn your back on him without finding a knife in it the next moment. I never can trust anyone that is that happy. I'm not sure what is in the Happy Mask Shop's backroom in Hyrule Town and I don't want to know.
Well, I'm done with Final Fantasy VIII. Because I chose to do Laguna and Squall's stories on the side in Dissidia Duodecim, I kinda fell into playing other characters and that got me sucked into playing Final Fantasy VI for the first time in a really, really long time. I still remember the key plot twists and all, but I think I may be rather fuzzy about much of the secrets the World of Ruin holds now since I probably forgot most of it.
I just know not to touch any treasure chests until the World of Ruin. And to wait for Shadow at the last second or he dies and can't be recruited again. I don't want to make Relm and Interceptor sad.
I also thought that if i was going to work on Squall as a sort of character study as introverts go, I may as well play through some of FF's most introverted characters. I'll be skipping FFIV for now and you couldn't pay me to finish FFXIII, but I may give FFVII another go after this. I think Terra, Squall and Cloud are the most important ones to cover.
I'm also playing Soul Hackers on the side to have something new in the mix. Well, its almost as old as what I've been playing but I've just not really made time for it since it came out in the US for the first time in April. Its going to by my Halloween game for the ghoulish setting since I've already played SMT IV twice over.
For a moment I did consider playing Parasite Eve since I never played that, but after seeing the Christmas Eve setting I figured maybe later. If you're wondering why I'm looking at so many old games rather than new ones its because I'm broke and have a substantial digital backlog between PSN, eShop and Steam. The focus is on the PSN stuff because I'm stuck with regularly having to load things on the shitty 4GB card on my Vita. On 3DS there is no question of what games I take with me - the answer is "all of them, you have that cheap 16GB SD card to put them on."
Anyway, yeah, its FFVI on the Vita, Soul Hackers on 3DS and not much else for now. I may go for the Zelda Oracle games next since i've never done those either and picked them up with my $30 eShop credit in July.
As for FFVI, I'm also playing it for Kefka - but that goes without saying.
So I've been off the blogging thing again for a bit. More or less life has been stressing me out and I don't like to bring that in to too much of my writing. Its one of those times where I feel pretty alienated even by family because they just can't bring themselves to listen. And I know where they got from. I remember the days as a kid where I watched my grandmother just browbeat my father over every choice he made in life at lunch and dinner,
Well, now its my turn, let's just leave it at that. Add to this that there are other people in my life trying and pushing to "fix" me and it annoys the shit out of me. If people would just give me space and stay out of my way, I could do what needs to be done and things would get bettet - it just seems like no one is willing to budge and choose to get in my way.
Largely because of that, I have turned to Final Fantasy VIII because I am totally there with Squall Leonheart right now in my most introverted state. I need to crawl my way out and find hope in humanity again - even if humanity can still be annoying and stupid at times. It ebbs and flows.
I also needed a massive, grindy collect-a-thon RPG in my life right now.
When you think about it, FFVIII is like a Christopher Nolan RPG. There are Memento and Inception-like elements all over that game. I have to collect summons, spells, cards and items to turn into other spells or items, plug those spells into the summons to boost my own stats and become grossly overpowered in the process. This while still building my ultimate weapons to get limit breaks that take things further over-the-top.
its not as much work as it sounds, actually and there's always something to do. I like that. The payoff is pretty good. It also helps that the card game, Triple Triad, is a nice diversion with great long-term rewards (Tetra Master, on the other hand, can go take a flying leap)
Another reason I was drawn back into playing it was looking at the game from two different fan theories - the Squall Is Dead theory and the "Rinoa is Ultimecia" one, in particular. If everything from Disc 2 onward never made sense to you, then the "Squall is Dead" theory seems to be a reasonable answer. The "Rinoa is Ultimecia" one is a bit more questionable, but it does explain some things Ultimecia does, says and why she's junctioned with a summon named after Squall's pendant.
That aside, it probably has one of my favorite soundtracks and even that has its mysteries. Turns out it took some time, familiarity with Latin etymology and some number-crunching to figure out the lyrics to what was originally just known as "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec." Even that title (alternately known as "Liberi Fatali") was a puzzle - an anagram for "Succession of the Witches" and "love." which were two big themes of the game.
FFVIII is just a rabbit hole and still leaves you wondering how far it actually goes.
Its all helping me get my mind off the crappy stuff, that's for sure and that feels pretty good. I'll probably have some more thoughts about my replay as I get closer to finishing it.