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Raccoonus's blog

2:57 PM on 02.10.2009

Buying a bad game out of hope

Why do I buy bad games?

This is a question I often find bouncing around my head from time to time. And considering that yesterday, on a whim, I went out to my local Gamestop and bought...wait for it...ready...Musashi: Samurai Legend. It was $4.99. No, you're right. I apologize. That doesn't make it right.

His hair acts a third sword that dices enemies into 2X2 cubes of gooey flesh. If only.

Now, going into this little admission, I knew perfectly well beforehand that Musashi: Samurai Legend was not a great game. Heck, not even a good game. Reviews referred to it as bland and slow, short and linear, ugly and uninspired. And they were right on all marks. The thing is...I absolutely loved Brave Fencer Musashi on the original Playstation. It was one of those games that I played with ferocity, aiming to find every lost villager, collect every action figure, and learn all the enemy abilities (even the stupid ones no one used). That game was fun and punny, with a day-to-night cycle and a neat set of locations. Sadly, somewhere along the lines I traded in a bunch of my PS1 games, and Brave Fencer Musashi was one of them. How I regret that decision. Also gone were Metal Gear Solid, Jumping Flash!, and Trap Gunner (a lonely game, but fun with two people and some drinks).

Yup, I was an idiot.

Since then, I've been unable to find a used copy of Brave Fencer Musashi in stores. So, seeing this somewhat sequel, I felt nearly compelled to buy it. Would it fill that void in my heart devoted to Allucaneet Kingdom and Princess Fillet? Would my love for the Five Swords be sated? Would I, for $4.99, finally have what I've been looking for for so long?

Um, no.

For one thing, the game is horribly ugly. It takes cel-shading and mutates into something people are calling manga-shading, which puts this thick colored outline around characters. The rest of the environments are colored in light blues and yellows, giving the world an ethereal fell to it, as well as that of being washed out. I dunno. It kind of looks...ridiculous. See:

The brown outline looks like Musashi has a chinstrap beard. Not bad for a "kid" hero.

Another thing greatly disappointing about Musashi: Samurai Legend is the humor. It's gone. Oh sure, there's this mild attempt to poke fun at things like rescuing princesses and being destined for greatness, but it all falls horribly flat. This is because the game actually thinks it is a serious piece of adventuring. It's not. You have an old cat that can barely speak and is missing an eye as your counselor. He is no Yoda, try as though he might.

So I guess in this case the answer to my previously posed question is: out of hope. I hoped this would have done it for me, that this would have reminded me enough about the good times I had with Brave Fencer Musashi, but alas, it has only made me miss it more.

Ultimately, I should've gone to Quiznos and got a sandwich instead.   read

10:35 AM on 02.03.2009

Playing my mother's DS collection: Zenses Ocean

Another weekend home visiting my folks is allowing me to continue with this little series of posts which I first started here. My mother had two new games in her collection: Left Brain/Right Brain 2 and Zenses Ocean. Of the two puzzlers, I found the former to be of standard DS puzzle-shtick and the latter to be...oddly enjoyable.

So, Zenses Ocean is all about relaxation. Players are presented with a number of minigames inspired by such aquatic themes like beach vegetation, rippling water, the rising and falling of the tide, sea life, and so on. The challenges presented within are not about intense gameplay, about getting the best score ever, about tapping the touchscreen with the ferocity of a six-year-old trying to capture its first Pokemon. Instead, the makers of Zenses Ocean want the player to experience a surreal, soothing session of gaming, where even if you don't get the highest score on the block, it's all going to be okay. Listen to that music, hear the gentle breaking of waves, take a deep breath: let it go.

Simplicity is the name of the game, and the names of some of the games brought on by simplicity are as follows: Hot Spot, Shell Twirl, Turtle Turn, Pearl Diver, and Wave Breaker. They are fairly easy and do come with the option to increase their difficulty, but even then it's hard to get frustrated over colored shells and glowing, eviscerated crustaceans. Some are merely a memorization test, others a match like shells.

I'm not exactly sure how much my mother spent on Zenses Ocean. I hope it wasn't more than...$20. For that, it's not too shabby, especially on a rainy morning when you can toss your feet up on the couch, crank up the volume, and feel like you're at the beach. Plus, no seagulls crapping overhead.   read

8:48 AM on 12.19.2008

Destructoid things that make you go "Huh?" (NVGR)

First, let's get the standard blah-blah-blahs out of the way: Yes, I suck. Yes, this post needs more cowbell. Yes, I have the Internet searching skills of a dead hamster. Yes, yes, yes. N00bs in the houze and all that.

But I cannot for the life of me find any information about the game collection tab and the wishlist/trade tab that are blacked out above everyone's c-blog. I've only been a part of the community for a few months, but it seems like these tabs, which I'd say would greatly enhance one's blog in terms of personality and authenticity, have been in a void long before I ever arrived. Will they be implemented at some point? My ADD wants to know because listing games in the right-sided column isn't as much fun as people make it seem. Actually, it's no fun at all.

C'mon, Dtoid. Give us something to play with. It's the holidays!   read

5:46 PM on 12.01.2008

Playing my mother's DS collection: Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir

While home for Thanksgiving weekend, I took the opportunity to peruse my mother's DS collection for something to play. We're pretty much opposites when it comes to our DS purchases; I'm of the Final Fantasy IV, Puzzle Quest, and Professor Layton ilk while she tends towards Brain Voyage, Touch Master, and some weird Yoga "game". Anyways, I noticed this little cartridge in her bag called Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir and decided to give it a try. The verdict? Not a horrible timewaster, but it's a bit repetitive and lacking in visuals due to the small screens of the Nintendo DS.

(Probably missing from the list: TESTICLES)

The storyline is quirky and inane, something to do with a man named Phil T. Rich (how punny!) having gone missing and it is up to us as great detectives to discover who his rightful heir is. To do this, we play a search-and-find game on a slew of maps, trying to locate the oddest of objects. Find all the objects, beat a mini-game puzzle, move on to the next potential candidate, and rinse, lather, wash, and repeat until the very end of the game. Let's compare this to--oh good job, Paul, setting this up in the first paragraph--Professor Layton and the Curious Village. The storyline and the gameplay mechanics are completely their own beasts, but they mesh well enough together. The mini-games between scenes are the sort that a dying dog could master (use the microphone to blow dust off for fingerprints, for instance).

My mother, being the n00b she is, played the game on the Easy difficulty. This meant she could tap on the screen for infinity until she found all the hidden objects. I stepped it up with the Medium difficulty, which set a timer and also punished you for tapping too many wrong items by subtracting minutes. It didn't matter. You'll find all the clues well before the timer even comes close to running out. Unless you are blind. If you are blind, you really messed up buying *this* game. After beating the game, I unlocked the Gumshoe difficulty, as well as the Treasure Hunt bonus game. Replay value is there, with randomly generated maps, and there's also multiplayer races (though someone else needs their own cartridge to play), but after that the game is pretty much done.

As I said before, not a complete timewaster. In fact, it took me the weekend to finish up with Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, and I can verify the game is perfect for a rainy morning by the window, just tap, tap, tapping away. I think she got it for $20. I got it for free, and that's how you should try and get it. Got it?   read

12:30 PM on 11.07.2008

The Beastiary in All of Us

As I mostly play videogames of the RPG ilk, I've come across my fair share of beastiaries. These are, for those not in the know, graphically done tomes, containing a showcase of monsters your hero and his/her team have defeated so far along the Journey for Magic Crystals. A list of the enemy's strengths, weaknesses, stats, loot, and number of times it has been killed are just some of the many bullet points provided within a game's beastiary. Since many of these exist (they're just as much of an RPG staple as the ever-prolific Cure spell), I figured I'd highlight three of my favorites over the past years.

Final Fantasy XII
Remember what I just said in the above paragraph about enemy stats and treasure information? Forget it immediately. The beastiary in Final Fantasy XII is, er, quite a different beast (feel free to groan). As you traverse the landscape of Ivalice, defeating monsters and scrounging for loot, the in-game beastiary keeps track of all your kills. The first time you kill a monster, you get a small entry in your beastiary, which offers up an original piece of artwork, a small bit about its family, and a short block of text. The text is either a short description of the beast or it might be an explorer's story or legend passed down by its people. Either way, it's not the same-old, same-old. Now, once you've killed a monster for the first time, a number will pop up next to its entry, demanding more spilled blood. So, if you kill 25 more Happy Bunnies, another chunk of text about said "monster" is revealed. No stats, no direct finger-pointing to weaknesses and strengths, just flavor text upon flavor text upon flavor text. It's quite refreshing.

Rogue Galaxy
Akin to Final Fantasy XII's beastiary, the one found in Rogue Galaxy challenges you to kill kill kill. By destroying a certain enemy monster a select number of times, Jasper Rogue is able to accrue points which help him become the number one bounty hunter in da universe. Each monster entry gets a 3D representation of the monster, and you can twirl it, make it move, and zoom in under its legs to wonder where its genitals have gone to. Really, you know you've done this. Again, this beastiary is all about incentive, and the replay value really sits on going back to old locales to complete each and every entry. So it's not just there for looks (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but it's an actual gameplay element, not something vital, but something doable.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
This would be a solid example of a more-or-less typical book of monster info found in RPGs. That shouldn't really shock anyone; Dragon Quest VIII is more-or-less a pristine take on the traditional sort of RPG. It has turn-based battles, a Save the World plot, and larger-than-life characters that all fit into stereotypical nooks (i.e., white mages, thief, tank, and so on). I believe there are over 250 addable monsters, and the simplicity and easy navigation of the section make it worth a good flip through.

Huh, not surprising, but these are all PS2 RPGs released in the past two to three years. Remember, I play what I have and only what I have, as I'm a big time lurker.

The beastiary in Final Fantasy IV (for the DS) is what sparked all of this, as it is only accessible by running into Namingway when you can. That, the restricting the player of content and killing all curiosity in one swipe, is just dumb. These things are here to add to the wealth of a game and should be available from the beginning. a favorite of your own, people?   read

9:13 AM on 11.03.2008

Active Time Events (ATE) Kill Me

This is the result of choosing wrongly.

So, as I slowly inch my way towards saving up enough couch coins for an Xbox 360 I'm working through a big backlog of PS1 and PS2 games. Most of them are RPGs, and the one currently holding my attention is Final Fantasy 9. I originally got the game shortly after it was released, played through until the end of disk numero two, and then stopped. Not because I grew bored or frustrated or whatever, but when the game's disk begins skipping during an FMV and eventually becoming so bad that it freezes each and every time on a forlorn-looking from of the stupid Iifa Tree, well...there's not much else one can do but stop.

Since then, I've ditched my Playstation 1 and figured to give the game a second try on my first generation PS2. Surely will a wipe and prayer, we can get through this. Surely. Lo and behold, the same FMV part skips...but doesn't freeze. Whew. I'm on disk three! Hooray! Confetti and raining oglops everywhere!

Anyways, the point I'd like to talk about that frustrates me to no end about FF9 are the Active Time Events (ATE):

Even the translation needs a translation: FAIL!

Basically, each and every time your group enters a new city (or returns to a previously visited locale), the party splits up like the Beatles and each member heads off to explore on their own. You are left alone. You are so cold and hungry and alone. You move to the next scene and...boolup! Active Time Event! These are completely optional scenes to watch, and sometimes they give you gil or a special item, but they mostly exist to flesh out the characters and reveal some mysteries about their pasts (I'm thinking about Amarant here, the big, sulking brute that he is). Sometimes you get a choice of two or more scenes; pick one, and the other might go away FOREVER.

As a completer, this bugs the shit out of me.

Thankfully, all the ATE scripts exist on this magical place we call the Interweb, but still. Most games integrate these sorts of scenes into the game seamlessly while FF9 makes the player feel like we're on death row. You can have broiled lobster tails or filet mignon, but certainly not both.

Regardless, I'm going to try and watch as many of them as I can, but it'd be stupid to, say, restart the game over and over just to check out the ones I missed. That's not replay value, Squaresoft, that's just plain annoying. Please never do this sort of thing again.

Please.   read

2:20 PM on 10.31.2008

I Put the Fear in Introductions

Well, this is my introduction post. To be honest, I'm quite scared. I feel all this pressure to "not suck!" that I had to double-check a few times that I'm here at Destructoid and not the Something Awful forums or whathaveyou. Anyways, I did some reading and hopefully it shows.

I mused for a bit on what to say as an introduction to myself (and I kept all the generic stuff such as my name and game systems I owned over on the sidebar area) and finally landed on the idea of what type of gamer I am. I'm not talking in terms of casual and hardcore, but rather lurker-esque. Let me explain.

Growing up (I'm somewhere in my mid-twenties, if you're curious), I've always been two to three years behind in the gaming world. The Christmas I got my first home console, a mouse-gray SNES, was right around the time they were dying off and N64s and Playstation 1s were vying for attention. By the time I traded in a huge stack of SNES games ranging from the good (Yoshi's Island) to the bad (SimAnt) to the just plain weird (Uniracer) to Toys-R-Us for a huge discount on a PS1, its mightier cousin was just about ready to be released. I'm currently still playing my Playstation 2 (bought somewhere in the summer of 2002), which I got midway through its popularity cycle, and from here I'm just watching what happens with the rest of the major consoles. That's where the lurker comes out.

We all know what a lurker is, right? Think forums, people that watch but do not interact. That's exactly the type of gamer I am. I read the big blogs, I watch the gameplay videos, the in-depth reviews. I know the ins and outs of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and yet I've never once played a game on a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360. Not once, for I know no one that has these systems. This leads to lurking, to an obsessive nature to have to know everything about these new (!) and shiny (!!) and awesome (!!!) games everyone is playing the minute they are released. With enough confidence, I bet I could handle myself in a conversation about the relationship mini-game of GTA IV or how you're not supposed to drink that potion in Fable II or the way the guns handle differently in certain FPS releases. I hope to actually experience this games one day, but in the meantime I take great pleasure in following a current-gen game's journey from afar, watching like a younger/older brother on your couch, my hands shaking out of desperation. Granted, by the time I get to this point, the Xbox 720 will be out and I'll be right where I've always been, lurking in the dark.

Still, I'm in no rush. So y'all keep on keeping on, and we'll go from there.

I dunno. Hopefully you found some of that interesting. If not, I guess I'll continue to hide. But what kind of gamer are you (AND DON'T SUCK!)?   read

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