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ShadeOfLight's blog

Contest: Wrenchfarm's sloppy seconds + Typing like your life depends on it!
4:13 PM on 11.01.2013
A Nintendo Fanboy's E3: A Fit Hopespot for Creativity
6:56 AM on 06.12.2013
Rakion: The crappy Korean MMO that got it right
3:37 AM on 04.01.2013
Putting my Pokémon where my mouth is: I've got dibs on Fennekin!
10:55 AM on 01.23.2013
Shade Shares: Soundtracks
11:30 AM on 10.16.2012
A Rainfall of swag! (pic heavy)
6:53 AM on 09.29.2012





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About


On the wings of death, by the hands of doom;
By the darkest light from the darkest moon;
On the wings of life, by the hands of hope;
By the brightest light from the brightest sun.

And vice versa.

I'm ShadeOfLight.
I'm a Dutch law student who loves to play the vidya. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.

I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Finally, as is to be expected I'm super excited for the new WiiU "Xeno-" game!



The Wii is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
Xenoblade Chronicles (see also: Baten Kaitos - Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean for GC)
Zelda: Twilight Princess / Skyward Sword
Smash Bros.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Madworld
Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Wario Land: Shake it!
Sonic Colors
and Metroid Prime Trilogy.

I love my WiiU as well, and even though the library still needs expanding, I had tons of fun with:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Darksiders II
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Pikmin 3
Super Mario 3D World
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Mario Kart 8

Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.

Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Antichamber
Dungeons of Dredmor
Thomas Was Alone
Mark of the Ninja
VVVVVV
Sequence
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
Bastion
To The Moon
Cave Story
LIMBO
FLY'N
Dustforce
Orcs Must Die! 2
Primordia
Machinarium
Botanicula
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
and many, many more!

Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!
Player Profile
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198005145371/
Wii U code:ShadeOfLight
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Thanks to the ever generous Wrenchfarm's awesome contest I found myself with a truckload of great new games to play, because studying is for chumps.

However, the awesomeness of this contest could not be contained by one Steam account alone. Oh no. When my Steam Library saw how many new games were coming its way, it flat-out rejected some of them. The Binding of Isaac? Steam wouldn't take it. Dark Souls? No can do. Pathologic, courtesy of the lovely Opiumherz? Denied. 
Of course, the little fact that I already owned these games may have been a relevant factor too, but I still hold that it was probably just the awesomeness.

And that's why I've decided to give the people of Destructoid a second chance to win these great games!

To reiterate, we're talking about:



Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, on Steam. 
Chances are if you're on Destructoid you know about Dark Souls. Do I really need to tell you more about it? No I don't. It's brilliant and you want it.



The Binding of Isaac, including Wrath of the Lamb, also on Steam.
One of the best and most addicting roguelikes ever. Buckets and buckets of content, ranging from cool new power-ups to new levels and the largest number of "final" bosses ever seen in video games. Also poop.



Pathologic, on GoG.
The first game of Ice-Pick Lodge, who later went on to do the surreal The Void. This game got high praise for its atmosphere, which if you're any kind of fan of horror games you'll know has been missing from most mainstream "horror" titles for a while now. Can the indies do better? You decide!

______________________________________________________________________________

But I can hear you thinking. Snickering almost. "Oh Shade", you'd say, "isn't that like the lamest thing, like, ever?" I'm not sure when you became a valley girl, but fine. "You're giving away Wrench's games you already had anyway, and you expect us to love you for it?"

NO!

We're having none of that nonsense here. In the spirit of Halloween I'm adding two games of my own into the mix! Why? Because I bloody well can, that's why. And because VIDEO GAMES.

The first is an indie game I already had in my inventory for a while, so it's high time to pass it on to someone else. I love this game dearly though, from its brilliant art directions to its gorgeous music. I'm talking about the original Trine! What does Trine have to do with Halloween? ....it has skeletons, I guess? Yeah, let's go with that. So skeletons equals Halloween and therefore we add to the winnings:



Trine, on Steam. 

But that's nowhere near the best part, because there's one more game coming the winner's way. Here we have a game that nobody saw coming. It just popped up on Steam a few days ago with an equal mix of "What the fuck?" and "Fuck yeah!"
Quick question: What's the best way to defeat zombies? Shotgun? Axe? Flamethrower? Tallahassee?

All wrong. All so very, very wrong. What do you use to kill off zombies? Keyboards, motherfuckers! Oh yeah, we're going there.
And with that, we add:



The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, on Steam!
(note that this game also includes regular The House of the Dead: Overkill)

Now ain't that a lovely batch of games right there? Damn straight it is. And winning them is easy! All you need to do is answer a simple question. So far, the screenshots of Typing of the Dead have given us some great words to kill zombies with. "Ample buxom" is my favorite, but "May I eat you" and "UNICORNS" are top-class zombie-killing words as well. Still, there have to be even better words out there. And that's where you come in!
I want to know from you:
"What words would you type to kill zombies?"

The winner will be picked at random from all the entries. I'll let this contest run for one week, that is until November 8th. After that I'll contact the lucky winner!

EDIT: Contest over, congratulations Phil!
Photo Photo Photo








Hello, my name is Shade, and I'm a Nintendo fanboy.


- Hi, Shade.

I love Nintendo. I love their games, their handhelds, their overall quirkiness, and yes, even their consoles. I wouldn't be a gamer today if it wasn't for Nintendo, and they made many of my favorite games of all time; I owe them one. More than one, come to think of it.

So while everyone else was out slamming the Xbox One and hyping over Sony's presentation, I was doing other things. Working mostly, because hey, someone's gotta do it. Microsoft consoles have never interested me in the slightest, to the point where my only response to the Xbox One is still to have a good-hearted laugh about the entire mess, and while Sony is already much more interesting to me, it's still not enough to convince me to watch its entire presentation. But I'm still a gamer, and a self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy at that, so every year I make a point of following Nintendo's conference live. As we all know, this year it was a Nintendo Direct rather than a press conference, but it ultimately came down to the same thing.

So how does someone like me feel about this Nintendo Direct?
It was...decent. Nintendo showed plenty of games, and pretty great ones at that. A new 3D Mario, Donkey Kong Country, the untitled Monolith Soft project, and Smash Bros. were all awesome games that you can bet your ass I'm going to go out of my way to buy. There was a problem, however.

Nintendo's Creativity
I have always defended Nintendo's use of its old IPs. I see a lot of people complaining about another Mario game, another Zelda, and so on. These people think that Nintendo is unoriginal, that they don't have a grain of creativity left. After all, if they still had cool ideas, why aren't we seeing new characters anymore? Is Pikmin really the best they had? Myself, I have always rejected this notion very strongly. Nintendo actually has more creativity in its right pinkie toe than most developers do in their entire body.

The reasoning is very simple; just because Nintendo decides to put its familiar faces out there doesn't mean they don't have new ideas anymore. Just look at the Mario series, for example. It started as a 2D platformer, which saw several other installments all vastly improving the tech and Mario's abilities. On the Nintendo 64, however, it took a massive leap into the third dimension. Super Mario 64 singlehandedly changed gaming, and the Mario franchise, forever. The next Mario game, Super Mario Sunshine, also changed the formula significantly. Mario was given a new setting to play around in, new goals to fulfill, new enemies to fight, and a boatload of new abilities all combined in FLUDD. Next, of course, came Super Mario Galaxy. While it was the standard fare of Mario running and jumping around trying to save Peach, Galaxy saw a whole slew of new mechanics by virtue of the planetoids he now inhabited. The new physics made Super Mario Galaxy an adventure unlike any seen before.  


- Pictured: Creativity

As such, over the course of a couple of games, all starring the familiar plumber completely unchanged, Nintendo showed creativity in gameplay that few other developers can even begin to match. And that's not even taking into account the spin-offs, such as the always awesome Paper Mario series.  

The same goes for many other series. Metroid went from a 2D action-adventure to the massive secret-ridden Super Metroid, to the amazing 3D version that was the original Metroid Prime, to an entire new control scheme in Metroid Prime 3. Even Metroid: Other M tried to change up the formula by having a mix of 2D and 3D, and a focus on story. I actually liked Other M more than most, but since it's a controversial game let's just leave it at that.

My final example will be Zelda. The Legend of Zelda was originally a top-down 2D game, then became a side-scroller for its second adventure before returning to top-down again. It too took the jump into 3D, and gloriously at that, with Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask changed things up by adding time mechanics as well as the ability to change into a bunch of different characters. Wind Waker turned the world into an ocean, making level progression vastly different from the previous games. The DS games both turned the control scheme on its head by making it touch-only. Finally, Skyward Sword (and Twilight Princess to a lesser extent) implemented motion controls to give the player direct control over Link's sword, paving the way for many creative new ways of using it to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

It's true that Nintendo banks on nostalgia a lot. It's also true that many of the games I mentioned just now could have been new IPs. But hey, we all love Nintendo characters, so what's the harm? As long as the gameplay is as unique as it is, by all means slap a familiar face on there. I don't need Prince Fluff when the game can be made equally well with Kirby. Even Kid Icarus: Uprising featured an old character, but they gave him such a massive overhaul that he's barely even recognizable anymore. Isn't that just as good as a new IP? The face is the same, the game is different.

That, right there, is the Nintendo I love. That's the Nintendo that made the world fall in love with its characters. That's the Nintendo I'll fanboy over.
That is my Nintendo.



Unfortunately, it's not 2007 anymore. It's E3 2013 now, and Mario Galaxy has been done. So has Metroid Prime 3 and Skyward Sword. I'm ready for Nintendo to show its stuff again. But after watching the Nintendo Direct, I have to wonder. Where is my Nintendo?

Directly Safe
During the Direct, Nintendo showed a number of games from existing franchises. As I've explained above, I don't mind that at all as long as they're unique and interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't get that impression this year. A lot of the stuff they showed seemed like regular continuations of what Nintendo has already been doing. A lot of it seemed simple. Safe. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD looks absolutely fucking fantastic, but it's still just The Wind Waker again. Mario Kart 8 is...well, it's just kind of Mario Kart 8, isn't it? Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another game that looks amazing, but where's the difference with Returns? New enemies and camera angles? Underwater levels? Seems a tad weak, to be honest. And what about Pikmin 3? It's going to be great, but what is it going to do differently?

Even the announcement of the new 3D Mario didn't blow me away like it should have. When it was announced that we were going to see the new WiiU Mario, I was ready for the new step. The game that is to Galaxy what Galaxy was to Sunshine. We didn't get that. Instead, we got Super Mario 3D World. Again, it looks like a fine game that I'll be buying, but at the end of the day it seems like it's going to be pretty much the same as Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS. I actually got confused and thought that it was a 3DS game at first (the title doesn't help).

Besides that, a number of characters remain on the sidelines while Nintendo focuses all of its energy on Mario and Link. Why haven't we heard anything about a Star Fox game for WiiU, for example? When will we get a new Wario platformer again (Shake it was amazing)? How has Metroid been doing since Other M? Come to think of it, how are things progressing with Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei? And most importantly, what happened to Captain Falcon? He could've been great for WiiU, as I've already pointed out last year, but he's nowhere to be found. These are all series that could easily bring something new to the table, or at least something that we haven't seen in a long time. Unfortunately, none were present yesterday.  


- The new Smash Bros. was announced, but Captain Falcon hasn't been in a new game since Brawl. That's kinda sad.

The only game they showed in Nintendo Direct that got me excited not just because it's a Nintendo game but because it seems to want to do something new was X, the otherwise untitled Monolith Soft project. This may be the fanboy in me speaking (I'm a Monolith Soft fanboy just as much as a Nintendo one, if not more so), but I thought it looked fantastic. It takes some notes from Xenoblade, always a good sign to me, but it also strives to make a fully seamless open world, has monsters which have far outgrown what Xenoblade was able to show, seems to have a big focus on transforming mechs, and has been hinted to include online multiplayer. Those are things that get me excited enough to think that it may be something more than just a safe sequel. The Wonderful 101 is another game that looks really quirky, fun and unique, but it's not Nintendo's own.

Maybe I'm being too negative over this. After all, Mario Galaxy had Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime had Metroid Prime 2, and Zelda had Twilight Princess and Spirit Tracks. All followed an old formula without much innovation, but we still saw cool new things afterwards. Hope is not lost, obviously. Maybe we're just at the point in time where all series simultaneously take a bit of a break before going into full overdrive again. We also have that new WiiU Zelda to look forward to, after all.

A Fitting Hopespot
Regardless of how much of a sign Nintendo's showing yesterday was for its game design philosophy from now on, there was one thing that got it exactly right. One thing that shows me that Nintendo's still got its stuff. One thing that shows my Nintendo. And it may not be what you think.



It's the inclusion of the Wii Fit Trainer in the new Super Smash Bros.

At first, this may seem like an odd thing to say. Doesn't the Wii Fit Trainer represent everything we don't want? Doesn't she represent Nintendo's fall into casual bullshit nobody cares about? How could she possibly be the best thing Nintendo's done all week?

Because it's the silliest fucking thing!

At first, I honestly didn't know what to make of her inclusion. I was confused. But the more I thought about it, and the more I saw from her, the more I realized that this is perfect.
Like Sakurai said in his Smash Bros. developer video, nobody saw her coming. This is pretty much undeniable, yeah. Nintendo is showing that it still knows how to dig deep and surprise us. Sure it would be cool to see Shulk make it into the game (I told you didn't I? Monolith fanboy), but what could possibly be cooler than going on www.smashbros.com and seeing a new trailer for a character you never even imagined possible?

But more than that, Nintendo has managed to make a character whose only purpose in her own game was to "show you the moves", if I may quote a certain someone, into a veritable fighter. They even managed to take a whole bunch of yoga moves and tie them to the various abilities we know and love from the Smash Bros. series. She dodges by doing a yoga move, she does a smash attack by doing a yoga move, she poses for a taunt, she twirls hoops around for an Up+B attack. She does all these thing that you wouldn't think could make sense for even a second...and yet they do! She's a normal human, a standard fighter, and yet she looks hella fun to play as right between Bowser, Samus, Kirby and the rest of Nintendo's best and brightest.  

The utter strangeness of her inclusion makes her so special to me, paired with the fact that she works so well. Just think about it! At some point during the past year, Nintendo must have had a internal roundtable. They were discussing which characters to include in the next Smash Bros. Mario and the old gang are all in of course, but who should be new? The main character from Animal Crossing would be a good fit. He's already had his own stage in Brawl, after all. Who else? Maybe we could get Mega Man in here, since we had Sonic already? Let's see, more. And right at that moment someone, some amazingly brilliant eccentric gloriousness of a person, stood up and said "You know what we should do? We should get the Wii Fit Trainer in there!"

And they rolled with it.



That's the quirky, silly, creative Nintendo I love. That's the Nintendo that's showing me they can take anything, and make it awesome. The Wii Fit Trainer is my hope that Nintendo will find its creativity again, and that Super Mario 3D World isn't the prime example of Nintendo starting to just play it safe.

She embodies my Nintendo this E3.

Photo Photo Photo








I mentioned last week that I still had two blogs that I wanted to write in the near future. Well...this was not one of them. However, something came up a few days ago that I felt warranted this topic being done a tad earlier than planned.

I think everyone about my age can relate: back when you were younger, say high school age, there were a couple of free online games you played which looking back were really pretty bad. Runescape seems to be a major offender for most people. You probably played it at some point, but you wouldn't be caught dead playing it now. Maple Story is another favorite, although I hear that one actually holds up pretty decently even now. I never played Runescape myself, but my friend got me into Maple Story a little bit. I didn't play it for very long, and my friend got way more into it than I ever did.

But there was another game my friend showed me back then. A game I wound up putting tons more hours in than he ever could have imagined when he showed it to me.
This was a little game called Rakion: Chaos Force.



If I have to sum up Rakion, it's basically a F2P class-based PvP melee MMO. Yeah, say that three times fast. But really, you should just think Team Fortress or Monday Night Combat, but replace all the guns with swords, and you'll be pretty close. That right there is more or less what Rakion was like, at least in theory, and I loved the crap out of it. In fact, the very reason I'm writing this blog is because I firmly believe that this concept still has promise.

The main game was more or less divided into three modes. You had your basic Free-for-all, which was pretty fun in and of itself but nothing special. There was Team Deathmatch, in which people were paired up in groups of six or so and scored points by killing the other team. Standard Deathmatch, no complaints; personally I found this mode to be a heck of a lot of fun. Finally, there was Golem Mode, and this worked much like Capture the Flag. Again people would be paired up into two teams, and each team had a large Golem creature in their base. The teams would then try to kill the other team's Golem in order to win the round. The trick is that you couldn't actually hurt the other team's Golem right away. Instead there was a large Golden Golem in the middle of the map. At the start of each match both teams would rush in towards the Golden Golem, which could be killed by regular attacks. The person who scored the final hit would gain a golden aura, and this meant that he or she was now able to damage the Golem at the opponent's base. Off course, this resulted in one team trying their hardest to protect their golden ally, and the other team trying even harder to kill him. This was a pretty neat mode, all in all. Either way, there could have been more variety in gameplay modes (there was a solo PvE-style mode, but fuck that noise), but overall it was fun enough for a free MMO.

Rakion featured five classes when I played it, and looking at the website now that hasn't changed yet. They are pictured below. From top to bottom, there's the Blacksmith, the Archer, the Warrior, the Ninja and the Mage.


Take a second to guess which one I picked. Go on, guess.

Each character had different strengths and weaknesses, as you would expect. There was a little combo system in place, but these combos were only a couple of hits tops. Besides that, each character had a ranged attack, with some being more reliant on it than others. The system was simple, but it worked and it felt right. There was one other special thing about all the characters, but I'll get to that later.

The Warrior was your standard all-round guy. He wielded a sword which actually had a pretty decent reach, but there's not much to say about him. His ranged attack was a knife throw. It was pretty difficult to aim, but you didn't really ever use it anyway. You had to take a second to equip your ranged weapon before you could use it with all the characters, and you had to equip your melee again afterwards, so for most characters ranged was neglected in favor of simply running up to your opponent and sticking a sword in their gut.

The Ninja was the fast one. She had two knives, ran fast and had quick combos but pretty low health. These were always a pain to fight. For ranged she had shurikens: these sucked in PvP but were insanely overpowered against Golems and other creatures. You never saw a match in Golem Mode without a Ninja or two.

The Blacksmith was the big dude. He was slow but could dish out tons of damages with that warhammer he wielded. He was pretty fun to play as, and his design was cool. For his ranged attack he had throwing axes. They did good damage, but much like the Warrior's ultimately weren't worth it. Free players could use three character slots, and a Blacksmith filled one of mine.

The Mage, whilst being so small, was another heavy hitter. His normal attacks had very short range, but he had a heavy attack in which he sent out a row of icicles in front of him. This was slow and left you open, but did huge damage and juggled anyone who got in the way. For ranged he shot homing fireballs, which was another slow but powerful attack. The Mage is another class I really liked the design on, and they were a lot of fun to use all things considered. This was the class I used as my secondary character, only surpassed by off course:



The Archer, my main (did you guess right?) was your go-to ranged gal. She had a short sword, but her combos and reach left much to be desired: slow, low damage, incredibly not worth it. Her ranged attack was obviously her bow, and this thing was her greatest strength. She was fast with this thing as well, and once you got the aiming down you were capable of wrecking people before they could even get close. The physics behind her arrows were very well done, and you really had to learn the aiming system in order for your shot to hit its mark. After a lot of training, you knew exactly how high you had to aim to hit that moving target at the other side of the map, but once you got good you could hit him every time. There was nothing more satisfying than taking your shot, waiting a second, and seeing that asshole Ninja in the distance flinch right before she got a hit off on your teammate.

Her bow was, paradoxically, even very good at close range. You could always tell the good Archers from the bad ones by looking at which of them switched to the sword when enemies came close. Rule #1 of the Rakion Archer: Never, EVER, take your sword out. Bow all day, every day. Even when enemies got right up in your face, your bow was your best friend. The thing is the Archer shot fast. Like, really fast. She could shoot so quickly that it was completely viable to lure your opponents into doing an attack, dodge and fire. Each hit stunned as well, so if you were lucky and quick, you could get off multiple hits at once. This was a fucking blast! There was also the element of learning to predict your opponent's moves which was another incredibly satisfying experience once you saw it pay off. Once you got good with her, the Archer was a beast both close range and long. And considering all the time I spent practicing, I think it's safe to say I got pretty good indeed.

One problem the Archer did have was that she sucked at Golem. Her arrows didn't do enough damage to creatures to be viable, so you were often reliant on the rest of your team. Except for that little fact that Golem Mode didn't have respawns. Once you were dead you stayed dead, and killing all your opponents was an alternate win condition. So while everyone else was hitting the Golden Golem I usually got myself a place with a nice view, so to speak, and kept picking off the enemies. This way they'd get stunned every few seconds so I bought my team time to kill the Golem for me, and on the off chance that an enemy managed to score the last hit he had already taken so much damage that killing him before he reached our base was no trouble at all. There's also that little fact that almost everyone who got the gold aura instinctively ran towards the other team's Golem in a straight line. A word of advice: do not run in straight lines when Archers are on the prowl.


Remember kids, you can't spell "funnel" without "fun"!

Eventually, some people would get so fed up with me picking away at them while they were concentrating on the Golem that they'd come after me instead. Now the Archer was a class that in my opinion was often grossly underestimated. So every once in a while an overconfident Blacksmith who got fed up with me came after me with the idea that he'd just kill me real quick and focus on the important stuff afterwards. Nine times out of ten, he left as a pincushion. That is, if he left at all. Back then, that was the best feeling in the world.

There was also this one time where I was the only one left of my team going up against three or four scattered opponents, and my own team kept urging me to switch to the sword. Because be serious, how is an Archer going to fight close range with just a bow? About ten minutes later, in what admittedly must have been my best Rakion match ever and perhaps my best multiplayer match ever period, they knew exactly how one fights close range with a bow. I won us the round that time, because each of the opponents figured they could easily take me one on one. Had they come together there would've been major problems, but none of them saw the need at that time. I don't think they ever made that mistake again. Perhaps I was wrong earlier. This was the best feeling in the world.

Anyways, the final general thing you need to know about Rakion is the Chaos system. After a certain amount of kills, and sometimes after a certain amount of deaths as a pity prize, your character could go into Chaos Mode. You became a lot bigger, were immune to damage and stun and did fucktons of damage. Basically, you were given the option to for a limited time FUCK.SHIT.UP. See each character's Chaos form below. The Mage's Chaos Form in particular was very cool, but the Ninja became even more of a bitch than she already was anyway. All in all this was a decent system, but it didn't add a whole lot. The game could've done without.


From left to right: Blacksmith, Ninja, Mage, Archer and Warrior.

This was more or less the full game, and I loved it. There were a lot of things that made this game work, but most of all it was being able to play a class-based game like this at melee range with swords and magic. Hopefully you too are able to see what made Rakion this unique little snowflake. Never before or since have I seen a game quite like this, and that's a massive shame. Because unfortunately, there's a reason I refer to Rakion as "crappy" in my title. This game had a slew of problems. While I didn't see those at the time, looking back on it now they really do break the game. I haven't gotten it to run on my Windows 7, but I doubt things have improved much since then.

Firstly, this was one of the first games I ever played where "F2P" reared its ugly head. You could get to level 20 for free, but after that your character stopped getting skill points upon level up unless you paid. Even back then I refused to pay for shit like this, so I was perpetually stuck at level 20. This was more of a skillbased game anyway, so it didn't matter much, but it was still annoying.

Secondly, Golem Mode gave huge XP gains compared to the other modes, so ultimately that was what almost 90% of the people played. Whereas Golem Mode was pretty fun as I discussed before, every once in a while you want something different. I myself loved Team Deathmatch since the Archer was pretty unsuited for Golem matches from the get-go, but those games were rare and yielded only a fraction of the XP and gold.

Thirdly, the balance in this game was whack. I have never seen such strange balancing in a class-based game. If I have to summarize it: every character was overpowered. In groups, that is. Rakion had this very strange thing in that every class was utterly broken if you had an entire team of them. Five Warriors were completely devastating, as were five Mages, as were five Ninjas, et cetera. In other games you want to make sure you have a variety of classes in your team for maximum effectiveness. In Rakion, whenever you saw a team all with the same class, you knew you were screwed, and it didn't even matter which particular class it was. To this day I have no clue how this could've happened, but that's what it was like.

Finally and by far the most painful, the netcode was complete shit. It was very rare to find a game where none of the players had huge ping, and disconnects were frequent. Lag was the rule rather than the exception, and if you could go two matches without the game crashing you were in luck.


Long story short: when this is your game's tagline, you know what time it is.

So all in all, Rakion: Chaos Force was pretty much riddled with problems. But riddle me this: what games are there that did anything like what Rakion tried to achieve? Anything at all?

Rakion had such an amazingly fun concept. You take a class-based MMO and replace the Snipers with Archers, the Heavies with Blacksmiths and the Scouts with Ninja's. You make the players get up close and personal and have them play all sorts of fun modes. They really don't have to be anything special. A simple game of Team Deathmatch or Capture the Flag changes dramatically once you take guns out of the equation. All of a sudden you need to buy your golden teammate some time, because he still has to kill the enemy's Golem and that's going to take a while. All of a sudden you have to wall off your base with Warriors and Blacksmiths, while your Archers and Mages fire away at the gold enemy before he can reach your base. All of a sudden you don't have to worry about getting close to the heavy hitter before he shreds you to bits (with a minigun, say) because he too can only do damage up close. There's all these little things that happen when you make a class-based MMO melee, but the only game I've ever seen do it was Rakion.

Where are my class-based melee MMOs, game industry? No seriously, where are they?

I have heard it said that the Dark Messiah of Might and Magic multiplayer is somewhat similar to this. Unfortunately however, I only managed to play that game relatively recently, and the multiplayer is long dead. Other than that, I'm coming up empty. Some MOBAs seem to go Rakion's direction somewhat, but more often than not MOBAs devolve into "hit the special attack button and hope it dies" whereas Rakion was much more about using your standard combos at the right time and dodging when needed. Still nothing like I was searching for.

But then something happened.
A couple of days ago, an Early Access game went up on Steam called ArcheBlade. I'm pretty sure nobody had ever heard of it. This was its trailer:


I want it said that "Dick the Megaton" is the best character name ever.

It looked...great! I was ecstatic! It has a class system, a focus on melee, simple combos with some special moves, cool characters, Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch. Could this be the game I was waiting for? Could this be Rakion, except not shitty?

Well, kind of.
This game definitely has the right idea, and it reminds me of Rakion in the best possible way. The trailer shows its potential and it definitely looks the closest to Rakion I've ever seen something come. In fact, someone on the Steam forums has already compared the two games as well.

Unfortunately, this seems like another game which doesn't bring out the full potential of the concept. I played it for a while yesterday and was left disappointed. From what I've seen your characters always attack in the direction the camera is facing rather than where the character itself is facing. This isn't much of a problem, except that it takes even the most minute angles into account. You'll be attacking an enemy, but when you turn the camera a little bit to look at who might be approaching, your next attack is going to miss simply because you turned the camera ever so slightly. More than anything this ensures that you'll never stand any chance fighting more than one opponent at a time. Either you can't focus, or you can't see. Moreover, in all the matches I played yesterday, not once did I manage to fight someone one on one. This game has a huge tendency to bundle up all the players in a small area, ultimately ensuring that fights become too chaotic for the system to really show its stuff.

Once again F2P rears its ugly head, even more horribly than Rakion's ever did. ArcheBlade, you see, makes you buy every single character. Yeah. Free to play my ass. You want to try your hand at a defensive class? Pay up. How about ranged? Pay up again. Your quick hitter sucks? Well too bad then, you already paid for it. You can pay about 20 bucks for the starter pack, but all evidence points to this game being one of those F2P titles. You know the ones. Finally, in the games of ArcheBlade I played there was also a good amount of lag present, pointing to another instance of bad netcode. And since ArcheBlade is a bit faster paced than Rakion was it becomes all the more annoying.


You like these characters? That will be 3 bucks each kthxbye.

When I think about it that way and I read the above paragraphs, I could actually see ArcheBlade becoming someone else's Rakion. I imagine right now there's a kid just like me back in high school who is loving the shit out of ArcheBlade, wondering why there are no other major games like this.

...but it looks like we'll have to keep on searching for that one game that will get it right.

So come on, gaming industry: make me that class-based melee game. Make me a Capture the Flag with swords and bows. Make me a 4v4 Deathmatch with ninjas and magic. ArcheBlade is already a step in the right direction. Keep going, keep going.

Go on.
Make me Rakion again.
....but please...make it good this time.

Photo Photo Photo








So I figured that, after raving about how much I want this to become a real thing we do on Destructoid, I should probably do my own version of calling dibs. The very least I can do is complete the trio started by burningsoup and Pixielated. Seriously though; all of you go write these. Do one retro-actively for all I care. Just make it happen. I'll even get Holmes to give you a kiss.

Froakie, you say? Chespin? Come now. We know we can't all have the best starter for Pokémon X and Y, but is that really a reason to give up that easily? You didn't have to delude yourself into thinking that you want Froakie or Chespin; you could've fought for Fennekin, like he deserves. Well too bad, you're too late now.

Now I've got dibs on Fennekin, and there's nothing you can do about it. Why do I have dibs? Oh you ignorant fool, there are so many reasons that Fennekin beats all. But you know what? I'll give you a tiny sample, just to rub it in that you can't have him anymore.

- Fennekin can be both cute and badass. Even at the same time.
Don't believe me? Watch!

Cute:


Badass:


Cute:


Badass:

Take careful note of those other two guys being not-at-all-badass

COMBO:


He is sleeping in a ring of fire. Have you ever seen anything that simultaneously cute and badass? Off course you haven't. Let's see Froakie or Chespin pull that off! So far Froakie has only been able to look like he hasn't got a clue about anything that's going on around him, and Chespin is so happy his parents should seriously consider a sugar-free diet. But Fennekin? Cute. Badass. DONE.

- Animals of the other starters already exist.
Fennekin is unique. Completely and utterly unique. Unfortunately, that doesn't hold true for our Grass and Water friends. Let's take a look:
Froakie is, obviously, a frog. But wait, haven't we seen that before? In fact, yes we have. Politoed, Seismitoad, and Toxicroak are all examples of frog-Pokémon, only one of which isn't a Water-type.
Chespin fares a little better. He bears some resemblance to a squirrel, but this position is already taken by Pokémon such as Pachirisu and Emolga. But you know what, fair enough, he probably isn't a squirrel. The other thing he looks like is a mole. Sorry, little guy, but that position is already taken as well, and Drilbur wouldn't like you messing with his game.

And what about Fennekin? Entirely unique. Not once in the entire series of Pokémon have we seen anything resembling a Fennec, or even a fox, let alone a Fire type fox. Except Vulpi None at all.

- Fennekin is legit the best fire-starter since Torchic.
Charmander was a great starter. Cyndaquil was noticeably less interesting, but the starters of the second generation were kind of weak as a whole. Torchic was great again; he was an awesome little fire chicken who could kick you square in the face once it grew up. But then came Chimchar and Tepig. Chimchar literally had a flame coming out of his butt, and Tepig was...a pig I guess? I'm sorry, but there's just so little to say about these guys. They're the vanilla of Pokémon, flavorless animals colored reddish to convince us they were Fire types. Besides, what the hell kind of name is "Tepig"? And don't even get me started on their evolutions.

Fennekin, however, has revived my love for the Fire-starter. Besides being cute and badass (see above), he is the first Fire-starter since Torchic to really have an identity of its own. It's based on a relatively niche animal compared to Chimchar and Tepig, and his large ears and tufts of fire-hair give him a charm that's hard not to appreciate. Moreover, Game Freak didn't feel the need to color him orange this time around, instead going with a much nicer yellow. They know he can stand on his own merits, that he isn't "random animal but now FIRE!" like his predecessors. He's a fennec and he's fire, and that makes enough sense as is.

- Nobody uses Internet Explorer anyway.
Admit it: the last time you used Internet Explorer it was to download Firefox. Firefox is a good browser, Fennekin is a Fire fox. Quod erat demonstrandum, he said in Julius Caesarese.



Oh, and while we're at it, I've also got dibs on Zapdos.

- Fennekin may be a Psychic type and Psychic kicks ass.
If the rumors are to be believed, all of the starters this time around may receive an additional type. So far, Bulbasaur is still the only starter with two types, because he hails from a time where Grass-Pokémon were obligated by law to also be Poison-type. But perhaps that will change in Generation VI. In fact, if the rumors are true, Chespin will be Grass/Dark, Froakie Water/Fighting and Fennekin Fire/Psychic.

You may recognize the Psychic-type as the type that was completely and utterly broken in the first Generation of Pokémon, where it devastated everything in its path. Off course, ever since then the type has been nerfed considerably, but as far as pure power, Special Attack, goes you still can't go wrong with a Psychic-type.

And Fennekin may be one. Apart from scorching its foes to a fine crisp, he may also have the ability to fling you straight into the wall with its mind. In fact, he'll even be able to fling Wailord around with his mind. Think about that. Yoda was able to lift a small spaceship with the Force, Luke could barely move his lightsaber, Fennekin FLINGS FUCKING WHALES WITH HIS MIND.
Chespin's going to fight like a cheating bitch, Froakie thinks he's Kung Fu Panda, Fennekin outclasses Yoda. There's just no contest here, honestly.

But that's not all. If Fennekin turns out to be a Fire/Psychic, there's only one other Pokémon that (consistently) shares his type. The only Fire/Psychic Pokémon currently in existence is Victini, a Legendary Pokémon from Black and White. So not only will Fennekin have a cool typing, he'll only have to share it with a Legendary who is also the Victory Pokémon. Froakie, on the other hand, will share his type with a tadpole, and Chespin will share his with a cactus and a tree. Not quite the same, is it?

- Fennekin will not be a Fighting type because I will personally punch the entirety of Game Freak in the face.
'nuff said.


Alternatively, I will hug this baby fennec...
No, that has nothing to do with anything; I just wanted an excuse to hug him.

- Fennekin has hair coming out of its ears that is also fire.
Did you know that unicorn earhairs cure every disease known to man and can grant eternal life to penguins? It's true! Point is, ear hairs are awesome, and Fennekin's got them in spades. What's more, his ear hair is fire! He has the best fire-hair this side of LeChuck, and that's gotta count for something.

- Fennekin has the most potential for evolutions.
When we first saw Charmander, how many of us could've imagined that he would evolve into the awesome dragon that is Charizard? Torchic is an even better example; how many of us foresaw that tiny chicken turn into a fearsome combination of fire, chicken and Bruce Lee?

The thing is, Fire starters have a history of turning out more awesome than you would think, whereas the others just tend to turn into a bigger version of themselves. I'll grant you Snivy, but otherwise the point more or less stands. At this point, we can only imagine what Fennekin's evolutions are going to look like. Still, it is very clear that we can expect something awesome, whatever it is. I could see him going the route of Amaterasu, and I'd be all over that.



- Red was my first ever video game.
Yep, it was. Pokémon Red was the first real game I've ever played, and it was what got me into gaming in the first place. Pokémon Red also had the final evolution of the Fire-starter on the cover. So, in a strange and entirely roundabout way, Fire-Pokémon are what got me into gaming. With that in mind, how could I possibly not love Fennekin?

And last but not least:
- There’s a Fennekin plushie.
Can’t argue with the plushies.



And that concludes it, you can't possibly need any more evidence than this. As you can clearly see, there is only one real option for a starter in Pokémon X and Y, and that is Fennekin. He's cute, badass, may be Psychic, is entirely unique, has massive potential, and has a plushie. In short, we all want him.

Well, sucks to be you then, because he's already mine!
Photo Photo Photo








As most if you will probably know, I don't tend to blog all that much. This is mostly due to time reasons, and because I don't always have anything interesting to say. I often write something when something specific has popped up that I want to talk about, but that only happens every once in a while. With this blog, I want to try things a little bit differently.

I've often made it a point that I love to share the things I like. There's just something about giving other people the chance to fall in love with the things I've been enjoying for so long that makes me want to do it time and time again. Besides that, it's also a great way to show my own appreciation of the things that mean so much to me. Finally, this allows you guys to get to know me just that little bit better. So I've decided that, rather than doing posts based on random things that pop up every now and again, I'm going to start a sort of series of just me sharing good shit. Or just regular ol' shit, if I feel so inclined. I'm not going to promise that these are going to be weekly (God knows I can't), or even monthly, but I hope to be able to update this whenever I have time and inspiration.

Here's how it's going to work. In every new edition of Shade Shares, I'm going to pick a particular theme. These can be genres, gameplay elements, plot points, or anything else really. In the blog, I'm first going to try to explain why this theme is so important to me, followed by as many of my favorite examples as I feel the need to share.

"So basically it's a top 10 only you call it something else?"
Shut up, you.
Seriously though, these are not actually meant to be Top 10's or anything like that. I don't intend to claim that the things I post here are the best, or the only good ones.

Basically, if I'm going to sum it up, it's this:
"Look you guys, these are things I like, have some."
Simple as that.

Anyway, let's be off! For the sake of trying the new site with Youtube embedding and because of the already large number of posts regarding OSTs in the past week, this time Shade Shares Soundtracks!*



Shedding a Light**

Ah, the soundtrack. Was there ever a greater piece of music than that? Beethoven, Mozart or even Justin Bieber, all the greats have nothing on the likes of Koji Kondo, Hans Zimmer or Nobuo Uematsu. Personally, I can't tell you how much I love Original Soundtracks, and those of video games in particular. Currently, I have over 14GB worth of soundtracks on this computer alone, spread over almost 4500 files spanning well over 50 games, including some that most people won't even have heard of. It's gotten to the point that I rarely listen to anything else anymore. I can hardly remember the last time I listened to an actual band and I can't for the life of me tell you which "hot" songs are on the charts right now. I guess "Gangnam Style" is on there? Is that still a thing? If "Call Me Maybe" still is I might have to go and punch something.

Either way, what is it that I love about video game soundtracks? There's a couple of reasons for this, actually.

Most importantly, it's because they bring back great memories. With one exception which we'll get to later, all the soundtracks I have belong to games I've played and loved. Because of this, I can listen to any song on its OST and instantly be transported back into the game. Hyrule Field is only two clicks away, as is World 1-1, Phendrana Drifts or any of the other worlds I've had the joy of visiting in all my time as a gamer. Even when I don't actually remember hearing a specific song in the game, just hearing it and recognizing its style is enough for all sorts of great memories to come rushing back. Once we get to my actual sharings, I'll be sure to give you some which invoke this particularly well. If you love playing video games, wouldn't you want to take that feeling with you everywhere you go? Off course you do, and that's what OSTs are for. Either that or handhelds I guess.



Secondly, I believe that video game soundtracks are developed in a unique way, like no other music before it. Above anything else, game music is designed to be listened to on repeat, more so than any other type of music. Think about it, if you've created a three-minute song for the Obligatory Fire Dungeon of Dragons and Lava, how are you going to deal with a player that takes an hour to get to the end? There's just no composing against that, so you do the only thing you reasonably can do; you make your song loop. And don't even get me started on battle themes, which you have to hear hundreds of times in a single playthrough! But then, that poses a new problem. How do you make a three-minute song play twenty times in a row without it becoming annoying is hell? Honestly, I couldn't tell you how. I have the musical ability of a deaf chimp on crack, so you really shouldn't be asking me these things. Luckily, less crappy people than me have managed to find a way, and they are the greats that we all remember.

All of this results in music that you will know by heart at the end of the game, being exposed to it for so long, as well as music that you can always listen to without any problems. Video game songs are rarely linked to specific scenes, as movie OSTs so often are, so they will invoke the general feeling of the game without causing a disconnect if you don't have the game itself in front of you, and you can listen to them as many times as you want, because that is exactly what they were designed for! That really is unique in the music world, and it's just another special factor in my undying love.


Alternatively, you get a 20-minute song like "Dancing Mad", that also works

There are many other things that I love about these pieces of music, and I'm constantly finding more. The fact that you can interact with the music in many games (you know that at some point in your life you tapped the fire button in time with the music, don't deny it), and their ability to have an amazing variety of songs (tied to different areas in the game) but still maintain a single general theme are just some of the things I really like. All in all, we should always cherish all the great things about this hobby of ours, and the video game soundtrack is one of those things that deserve our recognition.

Shade's Sharings!

Well, here we are! Hopefully this is what you've been waiting for. Now that I've tried to explain my thought process regarding game music, allow me to share some specific ones that are special to me. There are many more were these came from, and they aren't even all my favorites, but I picked these because I had something specific to say about them. Well, that, and the fact that they're awesome. So yeah.


Ocean Theme - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

This is bar none my favorite song to travel to. I honestly can't think of any song that sounds more adventurous than this one. And how could it not be awesome? After all, it plays when a young boy and his magical talking ship take to the seas on an epic journey across the seven seas (or one giant one)! I've never found anything quite like it, and that speaks volumes for this song. Not even other Zelda themes like "Hyrule Field" can compete. Whether you're traveling by plane, bus or even by foot, every mile will feel like an adventure with this in your ears. You'll almost be able to picture the Great Sea, and the many tales you have to tell about it.

People's thoughts about The Wind Waker are mixed. Hell, mine are. Many people thought that the sailing in particular could be kind of boring, and should have been sped up. Me, personally? Not once have I had any problem with any of the sailing I had to do. And I'm sure you can already guess why.


Kainé~Escape - NieR

Above, I mentioned that almost every OST I have belongs to a game I've played, but for one exception. NieR is that exception. I never actually picked this game up myself, but I did watch a Let's Play of it. Normally that wouldn't be quite enough to make you fall in love with a game or its music, but it was for NieR. This song in particular stuck out for me, and I honest to God believe that this is one of the best songs ever in video games and perhaps even beyond. I wish that there was more that I could say about this one, but I really can't. It's just great and that's what it is. So beautiful and great that I never even cared that I haven't played the game.

Ironic, for a theme based on one of the most sluttily-dressed and foulmouthed characters in video game history.


The Lost Court of Mushroom Caves - Trine 2

I wish I could post all of Trine 2's music, I really do. I had an easy time picking one song from each of the OSTs I featured here, except for this one. If there ever was such a thing as "hauntingly beautiful", I think some of these songs would definitely be it. This one right here caused me to take my hands away from the keyboard for a second just to sit there and listen. I still get the urge to do that every time I'm playing this level.

The unfortunate thing is that the music from Trine only really shines when combined with that game's awesome visuals. Regardless, this is still some of my favorite music from video games, and a big reason why I love the Trine series as much as I do. (which is to say a lot)


Soul - Madworld

I included this because it really shows how powerful video game OSTs are for me. Why? I hate rap music. Despise it. I can comfortably listen to almost any kind of music. I might not also exactly like it, but I can stand it at least. I can't stand rap music. I couldn't exactly tell you why, but just take my word for it here. So what's the deal? I actually like Madworld's soundtrack, which consists entirely of rap music. Not only can I stand it, I genuinely enjoy listening to it. I never expected to, that's for sure.

I wanted to try this game for its hilariously violent gameplay and its artstyle, but from the beginning I was set to mute this game whenever the music would start to suck. It never did. I liked all of its music, and that completely stunned me. I'll admit that this isn't my favorite soundtrack by any means, but just the fact that I like it at all is amazing. Again, I'm not sure what it is about it, but I just think its catchy and fun.

But it really is about the big picture here. Apparently video game OSTs are so great, that they not only make a genre I normally actively hate tolerable, but they even make it good.


Nega-wisp Armor Phase 2 - Sonic Colors

I love it when video games do this.
Picture this: you're fighting the final boss, big orchestral music in the background telling you in no uncertain terms: "You are fucked, my friend." This music plays throughout about 80% of the fight. But then at some point, when you get really close to beating him, the music changes. The haunting music from earlier is no more, and in its place you get awesome victory music even before the fight has actually finished. "Holy shit, you got this man, go for it!"
I remember that Super Castlevania IV did it (just watch this), but other than that I can't think of many, which is a damn shame. Recently though, I've found a new game that also does it, and it is none other than Sonic Colors.

This is the victory music that starts playing near the end of the final boss. As such, it brings back so many memories that it's not even funny. Colors was a great game, and this was a great boss, so that just happens without even trying.
But actually, there's another thing that's special about this song. It's actually a orchestral version of "Reach for the Stars"! If you don't know, "Reach for the Stars", besides a Will.i.am song (thanks for that, youtube), is also the main theme of Sonic Colors, performed by Cash Cash. It is one of the cheesiest songs ever in a Sonic game, only outdone by "Speak with your Heart"...which is also from Sonic Colors. I'm not going to lie, I like both of those songs in that special "so bad it's good" kind of way, but this version is just something else. I don't know how, and I don't know how anyone even thought of doing it, but somehow the composer for this game managed to take that horribly cheesy song, and managed to turn it epic. That's one of those things that's just crazy enough to work, and apparently they went with it. I love it, is all I can say.


Engage the Enemy - Xenoblade Chronicles

This song. This song right here. Man.
I'm going to try to be coherent here, but I can't make any promises. It's just...I mean...damn. This song gives me the chills.

Okay, I'm going to make a fair warning here. If I do make more editions of Shade Shares, expect to see Xenoblade on it more than once. I'm obsessive about that game, and I love everything about it, so don't be surprised. It's going to happen, just so you know.

This song, "Engage the Enemy", is basically the "shit is going down" song of Xenoblade. Whenever a particularly plot-important scene starts to play, this song plays with it. It works particularly well, because the song actually scales up as it goes along, so it will always coincide with the scene too. When the scene picks up, so does "Engage the Enemy". After my 120-hour playthrough of this game, some scenes will forever be etched in my mind in the best way possible. As a result, so is this music. From the two minute mark onwards, I completely lose it.

I know full well that this is not a song that is really suited to be listened to by anyone who hasn't played the game yet (even though you should), but this is still a song I wanted to share with you guys. It may very well be my favorite one ever, and at the very least it's the one I'm the most emotionally invested in. If that's not a cause for sharing, I don't know what is.

______________________________________________________________________________


And there we go! Shade has now officially shared soundtracks! I hope you've found things to enjoy, but even if you haven't I still hope that you've learned just a tiny bit about my own interests. That's why I do what I do, and hopefully I get to do more editions of this in the future. There are still some topics up here in that brain of mine, so maybe I'll get them to come out at some point in time.

In the mean time, don't hesitate to share any songs you like, because I like receiving just as much as I like giving!
*insert sex joke here*


*Also, one of these days I'm going to find a less obnoxious way of incorporating my name into this, but for now you're all stuck with this crap right here, so there you go.
** I warned you.
Photo Photo Photo








This is not a blog I was planning to do, really. But holy shit does this feel awesome. If there was ever a thing I wanted to share with you guys, this is it.

So, I just got mail. Normally this wouldn't be anything special, but today is different. Just now, I received my new favorite pieces of video game swag. I'm psyched! Here, let me guide you through it. Also, excuse the quality of my massively shitty camera phone. I was way too excited to take the time to look for a better camera.



So this was the first thing I saw. At first I wasn't exactly sure what it was, because I didn't remember ordering anything from Club Nintendo.

But it started to dawn on me soon enough.



Which is to say it hit me right around here. I hadn't ordered anything recently. But there was still something special I was waiting for. Something I had already ordered months ago. Something exclusive as fuck. This had to be that something.


Da-da-da-DAAA

So, a little backstory. I'm pretty sure that everyone still knows what Operation Rainfall was all about. Three JRPGs: Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, which were already out in Japan to great reviews, weren't going to make it to the US or Europe. However, RPG fans everywhere weren't going to take this. Operation Rainfall was launched to get these games overseas. In a stunning turn of events, it worked, and in an even more stunning turn of events, Nintendo of Europe just ran with the entire thing. Europe was the first, after Japan and way before the US, to receive Xenoblade and The Last Story, and as of yet is the only one to receive Pandora's Tower. But NoE, infamous for not getting several great games released over here, decided that this wasn't enough. Almost as if they had something to make up for (they did), they went further than ever expected. They hosted a Let's Play-contest for Xenoblade, for one thing, and even seemed to support Pandora's Tower, the least requested game, quite a lot.

But they weren't done.
As a final measure of good will, they decided to go all out. They knew that there were still hardcore JRPG fans out there, fans who weren't waiting for one of these games, or even two, but all of them. Nintendo of Europe had something in store for those exact people.



This is that something. They were going to give away an exclusive set of coins based on all three of the Operation Rainfall games to the first people who would register all three games on Club Nintendo. As far as I know, this was only done in Europe (although US may still follow, I guess?), and I'm not sure how many exactly were made, although I don't expect more than a couple thousand.

Either way, you have already guessed it: I'm one of those people.



Did I mention I'm excited as fuck right now? Because that's what I am.
So, what next? Roll call!



First up is Xenoblade Chronicles. As far as the three games go, this is definitely my favorite. I was the most excited for this one, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. The story's great, the characters are pretty good, the combat is great, the art direction and music is great, I just love this game to death and then some. This side of the coin has the title logo, which you can barely see because I suck at this. That's going to be a theme here. Also, each coin is going to have a title logo side and a symbol side. You'll see what I mean in a second.



This is Xenoblade's symbol side. The design isn't all that special, as it's just a Japanese character, but this is still my favorite. I've already said that Xenoblade is my favorite game of the three, and if you love the game, this symbol is really clever. The game's combat is completely focused on so-called "Arts". These are basically special attacks which you can perform during combat. It's difficult to explain, but it works fantastically. Shulk, the main character (with a stupid name, can't be helped), gets a set of extra-special Arts, which are activated by using his legendary sword. Upon activation, the sword will show a different symbol depending on which power is used. This is one of those symbols. It's the symbol for "Monado Enchant", which powers up your teammates and allows them to hurt the otherwise-impervious "mechon". It's the first power you gain, and completely vital from start to finish.


Artwork of Shulk performing Monado Enchant

So yeah, a great choice for this coin's symbol. Off to a good start here!

Next up:



The Last Story's title side. Of the three, this was my least favorite game, although I really wanted to love it. The combat didn't feel right for me, and the story was only so-so. I did like the characters though, and overall I still consider this a good game.



While I really like the design of this one, it actually took me a while to figure out where this symbol came from. I don't remember The Last Story as well as Xenoblade, for obvious reasons, and the symbol isn't as clear as the one coming up. I finally worked it out though. At the start of this game, Zael, the main character with a much less stupid name, gets a power called "Gathering". With this power he can pull the enemy's attention to him and he can command his allies more effectively. When that power is activated, this symbol appears on his hand. The flame actually technically isn't part of the symbol, but you can see blue "flames" rising from his hand whenever he uses Gathering, so that's where it came from. It's quite difficult to see in-game, but this pic should show what I mean:


Note the blue crap in the middle

I think there probably would have been better choices for this one, but it's still cool in my book!

Finally:



This game was actually quite a bit better than expected. The story's quite good, despite that fact that this is the least "RPG-ish" of the three. The girl you have to rescue from a horrible curse, Elena, is the sweetest damn thing ever seen in video games (to the point that I felt just as strongly about saving her as the protagonist did), and other characters are good as well. The bossfights are nice and cool, and the dungeons have some interesting ideas behind them. This game does have some problems with the camera and combat, but I otherwise found it to be a very solid game, although I was expecting this to be the least good of the three.



If you've played this game, or have even just seen some official art, this symbol should be instantly familiar to you. Of the three, this must've been by far the easiest choice for the designers as well. This symbol is featured in the game's logo, for one thing. But more importantly: this is the symbol of the curse that has been put on Elena, the one you're trying to rid her off. The symbol on her back shows that she's still under the curse, which basically means that the entire story revolves around it. It actually has a double meaning as well if you've played the game all the way through, but that's not something I'm going to spoil here.


It was a no-brainer of the best kind

By your powers combined, we are:



Fucking awesome is what we are. So yeah, this is basically what I wanted to show you guys. I'm probably one of the first people to receive these, and as far as I'm aware there aren't that many to go around in the first place, so this is completely sweet. And considering that I like each of the three games to a more or lesser extent, these commemorative coins are just icing on the cake. Well played, Nintendo of Europe, and keep up the good work!

...Wait a minute, did I miss something?
BONUS SWAG:



This is a poster I won several months ago, signed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who created a little something called Final Fantasy. Like I said, The Last Story definitely isn't my favorite game by any means, but I do really like the art here. Besides, that's not the least of names on the bottom there. Unfortunately I never managed to get my hands on Xenoblade posters, which I know are going around, because that would've been even more awesome.

Anyway, that was basically it. I'm going to find a nice place for these three coins, because these are going to get me all the ladies. I mean, ladies are into that, right?


Off course they are
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