My name's Ben. I'm pretty quiet but really easy to get along with. I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, watching my brother play the NES and sometimes playing with him. The first game I ever beat was Super Mario RPG, and that's when I developed a love for video games.
Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Super Mario RPG
Team Fortress 2
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Beyond Good & Evil
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal I guess)
Michael Crichton books
Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns
Krazy Kat comics
Everyone appreciates a good voice actor. Bad voice acting can seriously turn you off to a game (I couldn't play very much of Mega Man 8 because the voice acting was atrocious). Thankfully, for the most part we're starting to get much higher quality voice acting in games today.
I've started paying much closer attention to voice acting lately, after I began recognizing certain voices from other games that I played. I was finishing up the Viewtiful Joe series a few weeks ago that I had on backlog for awhile, and I got really excited when I got to the battle with Cameo Leon in Viewtiful Joe 2. He sounded like Teddie from Persona 4 on tons of caffeine (which is a scary thought if you're at all familiar with Teddie)! I paused the game once the battle started and went to my computer to look up the voice actor for Teddie (Dave Wittenberg), and sure enough he was also credited as voicing Cameo Leon!
A few days ago I started playing Dark Cloud 2, and as soon as Max started talking I immediately thought he sounded like Viewtiful Joe. It must have been the way he laughed. I looked up the voice actors for those two characters as well, but they were voiced by two different guys. I still think they sound very similar though.
So those two instances got me thinking more about voice actors. I decided that I prefer voice actors to be unrecognizable. Even though I was excited that I recognized Cameo Leon's voice actor, I couldn't stop thinking about Teddie after that and felt like I was beating up Teddie in a chameleon costume. For regular actors in movies and television, you can see their faces, so they're already recognizable if you've seen them in something before. They could of course be wearing a ton of make-up or something so that they would be less recognizable (Johnny Depp is notorious for this. I never would have known Edward Scissorhands and Jack Sparrow were the same person if it wasn't for the credits!) but usually this isn't the case. When you watch movies, you're ideally supposed to suspend your knowledge of the actors so that they will come across as characters within a story, rather than actors in real life. This is becoming harder for me to do lately, now that I've seen so many movies and they keep casting the same actors in every movie that comes out anymore.
In video games, however, you don't get to see the actors' faces. You only get to hear their voices. So if they're good at their job, then ideally gamers shouldn't be able to recognize voice actors from one role to the other, since they're supposed to be completely different characters. It's much easier to create individual characters set apart from their actors when you can't see the actors' faces (this would also apply to animated movies or cartoons).
Of course, some people have very distinct voices, making it much easier to identify them. I may have recognized Dave Wittenberg's voice, but I do think he was trying very hard to make Cameo Leon sound different from his other roles, such as Teddie. They do sound like different characters, but there's just something about his voice that was familiar to me, probably from listening to Teddie talk so goddamn much. I was very surprised and impressed, however, to find out that Dave Wittenberg also provided the voice for Glitch in Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. He sounds completely different in that role, and I never would have guessed it was him. Glitch is a much less excitable character than Teddie or Cameo Leon, he speaks much more slowly and with a lower-pitched voice. I applaud Mr. Wittenberg for being able to voice a diverse group of characters, even if he's somewhat recognizable at times.
Another game I played recently, Portal 2, had a voice actor that I recognized immediately but for different reasons. Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson was voiced by the well-known actor, J.K. Simmons, who most may remember as J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man movies. While I do think J.K. Simmons is a hilarious person, I couldn't stop picturing his face as he delivered all of his lines in Portal 2. Though you don't get to see Cave Johnson much in the game aside from a few portraits, you can tell that he doesn't look much like J.K. Simmons, but I can't picture him as anyone else unless I'm looking at one of his portraits. I kind of felt like J.K. Simmons was supposed to be a selling point for the game, much like a famous actor would be for most movies. I still think Cave Johnson's lines were very entertaining, but I kind of wish they had found a relatively unknown (but still talented) voice actor instead of someone that everybody has heard of. Or at least J.K. Simmons could have delivered a performance that would make his voice unrecognizable from his movie roles, rather than sounding exactly like J. Jonah Jameson and every other character he's played.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West features a well-known actor as well. This time, we get to hear Andy Serkis, known for his role as Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, providing the voice for Monkey. I was much more comfortable with this choice than I would normally be with well-known actors, because Monkey sounds absolutely nothing like Gollum, and Andy Serkis' face isn't exactly immediately recognizable (at least not for me anyway). I might have preferred going into the game without knowing who the voice actor was beforehand, and then being pleasantly surprised afterwards to find out it was Gollum, but nevertheless I was able to play the game without once thinking of Gollum or Andy Serkis, because his voice work for Monkey was so unique from his other roles.
So I guess in general, I like to hear talented and enthusiastic voice work in video games, but I don't like to be picturing some other character or the voice actor's face while I'm playing. The voice actors can be well-known, as long as they provide a unique voice for each character they play. Obviously, voice actors need to work so they're most likely going to be in more than one game.
For the record, my favorite voice actor, Rob Smith, has apparently only played one video game character (at least according to IMDb), although he has had various television and movie roles. Rob Smith provided the voice for Teisel Bonne in the Mega Man Legends series, and he gave a damn good performance! He could go from a grumbling, menacing voice to an erratic, high-pitched voice in a single line, and his laughter was just incredible. He would laugh a different way every time, and each time Teisel laughed I laughed as well. He really brought life to a character who wasn't very visually appealing to me, and created one of my favorite video game characters of all time.
Hello friends! Welcome back to my freeware indie game series! This week's games are all rather short, but very fun. They're perfect for playing when you have an hour or two to spare. Also, just a heads up but I might not be doing another one of these for a while, because graduation is coming up in about two weeks. I'll be focused on finishing up my classes, preparing for graduation, trying to find a job and whatnot. It's all a little nerve-wracking. I don't really feel like I'm ready to be done with college yet. Hopefully all goes well. But in the meantime, here are five more games for you to play!
As you should probably all know by now, I'm a huge fan of games that take place underwater. In Ikachan, the predecessor to Pixel's monumental indie game, Cave Story, you control a little squid named Ikachan, who must help the members of a small underwater ecosystem which is under the control of a huge tyrant fish named Ironhead. Due to several earthquakes, the ecosystem has been cut off from the rest of the ocean, and food is beginning to run low. Ikachan must interact with various creatures (mostly what appear to be anemones) in order to obtain items and progress the story. You move by propelling yourself in a certain direction, and you can attack enemies once you find the spike hat. Attacking enemies and eating fish food (the small blue immobile fish) will increase your experience, and leveling up will increase your health and attack power. The game is MUCH shorter compared to Cave Story, but it's still a lot of fun. I really enjoy the theme song and Pixel's stylistic retro graphics. Plus, you get to play as an adorable little squid! That was definitely a selling point for me, haha. Oh, and there is a starfish character who shares my name!
Speaking of Pixel, Momodora is an awesome platformer which was heavily inspired by Pixel's Cave Story. In Momodora, you play as an orphan girl named Isadora whose mother has been sacrificed. She enters a labyrinth in search of a sacred item which will bring her mother back to life. Equipped with a magical leaf, Isadora must fight her way through the labyrinth, battling a plethora of bug-eyed enemies and collecting items and new weapons. You can find several awesome guns as well as a boomerang and a shield, although the leaf remains my favorite weapon. The graphics and level design are clearly inspired by Pixel's games, and are quite charming. I really like the character and enemy designs especially. The soundtrack is also quite excellent. The game isn't terribly long, but it's a lot of fun and I've played through it several times. I still haven't managed to find every item in the game though. It may be inspired by Cave Story, but it can definitely hold it's own as a great indie game!
Sombreros is a pretty badass and humorous Western-themed shooter game. You play as a Mexican gunslinger with infinite ammo and an awesome sombrero, in a quest to take down a corrupt politician. During the game, you can call upon the powers of your sombrero to freeze time and select up to six targets for a round of quick shots. You can replenish your sombrero's power by collecting your fallen enemies' sombreros. The game is heavily Mexican-themed, with piņata checkpoints, annoying chihuahuas, fiery habanero peppers, an awesome Western-influenced soundtrack, and other things you might find in a stereotypical Mexican setting. This game can be quite difficult at first, since you can only take one hit before you die. It took me awhile before I could get comfortable shooting down all of the enemies. Luckily, you respawn very quickly to your last checkpoint, so death is more of a minor annoyance. I also found the game to be very humorous. I loved the little cutscenes before each of the standoffs, and the dialogue was very funny, although oftentimes in a subtle way. The game definitely has a lot of personality!
Don't Look Back is an earlier title by the guy who brought you the excellent indie game, VVVVVV. Based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from ancient Greek mythology, Don't Look Back is a short platformer which follows the story of a man who has recently lost his lover. You must lead him away from her gravestone, tackling obstacles and fighting enemies along the way, and never turning back. The gameplay changes frequently to keep things interesting, and there are a few boss battles and difficult obstacles. Like in VVVVVV, whenever you die, you quickly respawn back to the screen you died on (although sometimes it will take you back a few screens). The game has very simple retro graphics with a red color palette which adds to the dark mood of the game, and the soundtrack is rather haunting. The meaning of the game's title changes periodically throughout the game, which I found to be very interesting. It shouldn't take too long to beat, and you can play it in a browser or download it to your desktop. Definitely give it a try!
Another platformer, I guess there are a lot of platformers this time around. In A Game with a Kitty, you play as a fat, lazy, and somewhat stupid (but still adorable) kitty named Kittey, wearing what looks like King Dedede's hat. The village elder asks you to investigate a mysterious tower that has appeared on the outskirts of the village, leading Kittey on his quest. You can jump on enemies to kill them, collect coins and discover several new abilities along the way, including the ability to charge forward or use your hat as a parachute. This is another rather short game, but it can become quite challenging towards the end. The retro graphics are beautiful, and remind me of a very mystical Mario game. The game is humorous and adorable, and definitely worth a try if you love old school platformers.
That wraps it up for this week's batch of indie games! Let me know what you think, and be sure to donate to the developers if you have a few bucks to spare. I hope you enjoy these games!
Hello friends! Welcome back to my free indie game series!
I've decided to spread out my posts for this series a bit more, since I'm beginning to run out of suggestions before I get a chance to play more indie games. I definitely don't plan on ending the series just yet, since there are still plenty of excellent games out there and surely there are more to come in the future. I just won't be posting every weekend like I initially planned. In somewhat unrelated news, I finally finished Portal 2 so I've had some more time to play indie games. However, I just bought Demon's Souls the other day, so that game will probably end up consuming a lot of my gaming time in the next few weeks, haha.
I figure most of you have probably already played flOw, since it's one of the more well-known freeware games out there, but I'm guessing there might still be a few who have not. Regardless, it's a great game which deserves to be mentioned. flOw is a simulation game developed by the same guy who brought you Flower for the PS3 (I actually thought Jenova Chen was a woman until just now... huh). In flOw, you control a segmented worm-like creature through an underwater environment, eating smaller organisms and fighting larger organisms as you go along. Consuming organisms will make your body longer and more powerful. There are green and red organisms on each level; eating the green ones will take you back a level and eating red ones will take you to the next level. You can see what awaits you in the next level as the organisms can be seen below you in the blurry distance. As you progress through the game, the water will become darker and the enemies will become more difficult. The controls are simple, and only involve clicking with the mouse to move and holding down the mouse to move faster; organisms are eaten automatically when you approach them. The game is particularly relaxing to play, much like Flower, with ambient music and clear, pleasant graphics. You can download it to your desktop or play it in a browser. You don't really have an excuse not to have played this one yet, so get to it if you still haven't tried it!
Action Fist is a super fun action shooter, although despite its name there are actually no fists involved. The game follows the story of a guy named Domingus, whose girlfriend, dog and favorite scarf have been stolen by a madman (Oh no, not the scarf!). You can choose to play as Domingus or his friend Ina (as well as two other unlockable characters) and shoot your way through all of the enemies and bosses on your quest to track down the madman. The boss fights are all really quite epic! My favorite boss fight is the one pictured above, with a giant robotic spider-like thing. The weapon design in this game is pretty nifty. There are three different colored bullets you can get, and colored enemies are weak to bullets of the same color, so it's a good idea to have two different colored guns on hand. There are also weapon upgrades to make your guns fire faster or fire in multiple directions and such. The game features very nice retro graphics, a badass soundtrack, several unlockable features such as new characters, difficulty levels and costumes, and a 2-player co-op mode. The thing I like most about this game, however, is the character designs. For an action game, you would expect to see a muscled, badass, possibly shirtless Rambo-type character, but in Action Fist you get to choose between a rather fashionable blonde guy with curly hair and a scarf or a woman with a long skirt and a Rambo-style bandanna who looks like she could kick your ass. It's very refreshing to see characters who defy the stereotypes of the genre.
Escape from the Underworld is an exploration platformer where you play as a fallen angel attempting find a way out of the Underworld. At the start of the game, you will be able to roam around the upper world with all of your powers intact, but once you are banished to the Underworld you will be left with absolutely no powers and only one hit point. You must then explore the complicated caverns of the Underworld to recover all of your lost abilities and hit points before finding a way out of the Underworld to reclaim your position as an angel. The game contains rather simple graphics; I'm honestly not too fond of the character designs, they're a little too simplistic for my liking (also, what's with the bunny ears?). I suppose the simple character designs could just be symbolic of light and dark, good and evil, but it still seems like it's lacking something. One of the high points of the game, however, is the absolutely stunning soundtrack! It kind of contrasts with the simple graphics, but it's wonderful to listen to and definitely gives the game some added depth. The story can be rather chilling at times, and the concept is very interesting and wonderfully executed. I can look past the unsatisfying character designs in this case, since the game as a whole is really quite amazing.
Titanion is a shoot-em-up with some very interesting game mechanics. The majority of Kenta Cho's games feature innovative game mechanics, and this one is no different. Your job in Titanion is to shoot down as many enemy insects as you can to earn a high score. Waves of insects will swoop down around you and try to collide with you or shoot at you. You are supplied with two abilities to retaliate: you can shoot them down yourself or you can use a wave attack which will allow you to take control of some of the insects, and they will begin shooting down their own kin. Doing so will greatly increase the amount of damage you shell out and will also protect you from attacks; if you are attacked while controlling insects, you will lose control of those insects but won't be hurt. The game features colorful, geometric graphics and an intense techno soundtrack. There are also three different modes of play: Basic, Classic and Modern. In Basic, you can use your control attack whenever you want; in Classic you can only use your control attack when you have no other insects in your control; and in Modern, you can't actually take control of insects but you have a super powerful attack to begin with. Classic is probably for more advanced players, but Basic is my favorite mode to play.
Tottenham is a game that's all about simplicity, and in this case I think it really works. It's a puzzle game where you play as a demolitions expert in charge of clearing a path from one subway station to the next, so that a subway line can be built between them. You can throw explosives towards the debris to clear it away, but be warned: the resulting shrapnel caused by the explosions can kill you! There are several strategies that you can use to avoid flying shrapnel, such as trying to dodge it or running and hiding behind something. Later levels also contain pests than can kill you which must be exterminated before the subway lines can be built. It's a relatively short game with a final boss battle, and your progress is saved once you complete a level. The graphics are extremely simplistic, consisting primarily of colored squares, and were apparently influenced by some mosaic art at the Tottenham Court Road station in London. The theme song played during the game is also really excellent and catchy. Don't be turned away by the simple graphics; Tottenham is a fun and challenging little puzzle game.
That's all for this week. I'll see you guys next time for some more awesome free games!
The wonderful thing about being in college right now is that pretty much everyone here has grown up with video games being a part of their lives in some way. Even if they don't consider themselves gamers, they've most likely at least played a Mario game or two and usually aren't averse to trying more games. In fact, I can't really think of a single friend that I've met in college who I haven't played a video game with at some point. Being a college gamer, I've spent a huge amount of time playing video games with my roommates, and interestingly each of my roommates have provided me with very different multiplayer gaming experiences.
"Not on my watch!"
My freshman roommate, Josh, was a gamer like me. I was very excited when I moved into my dorm room freshman year and saw that Josh had brought a Wii with him, since at the time I didn't own any of the new generation consoles. At the beginning of the year, he only had a few single player games, so I took advantage of the opportunity to play Super Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess since I hadn't been able to play them before. We didn't really play any games together on the Wii, except for the occasional bout of Wii Bowling, until Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released. Josh went out and bought it the morning of its release and started playing while I was still asleep, but kept raising the volume little by little because he really wanted me to wake up and play with him. So I awoke that morning to the sweet sounds of my roommate fighting enemies in the Subspace Emissary, and I immediately joined in and played the game with him from my bed. It was a wonderful day.
Eventually everyone else from the hall in my dorm joined in and we began playing versus matches, and we soon became seasoned pros. Playing Brawl with Josh tends to be a much different experience than playing Brawl with anyone else. Whenever we play versus matches, he waits for me to select a character and then yells, "Not on my watch!" and immediately picks a very similar character to try and best me. If I pick Falco, he always picks Fox; if I pick Ness, he always picks Lucas; or if I pick a character like Olimar that is the only one from a particular series, he'll pick the same character. Then we proceed to focus on beating each other up first to try and get the first kill in before fighting the other players. We also tend to shout each other's names whenever we're killed, even if the death was caused by someone else. He's definitely my favorite person to Brawl with.
During my sophomore and junior years, I roomed with my friends Kerry and Spenser, neither of whom would probably consider themselves a gamer even though they do enjoy playing video games occasionally. At this time I decided to buy an NES again, having unfortunately sold mine a long time ago. They both really enjoyed playing Dr. Mario, especially Kerry. She doesn't ever play games by herself really, except for Minesweeper which she is addicted to, but she does play multiplayer games like Brawl or WarioWare whenever we had a bunch of people over. Even so, Dr. Mario ended up becoming the thing that she would always suggest we play whenever we were bored. She began playing the game by herself at one point, in order to hone her skills, until we were pretty evenly matched. We would play the game for rather long periods of time, cursing at each other whenever someone gave the other player extra pieces, until we just couldn't focus anymore.
"Kerry, I don't know how much longer I can last. My eyes are going crazy." "Just one more match, Bean, we're almost done!"
Spenser tended to play a wider variety of games with me, including Donkey Kong Country, Pocky & Rocky, Bubble Bobble, and pretty much any other two player game that I was really itching to play but needed a partner for. Our game of choice, however, ended up being Mario Party. He would always ask if we could play it, and I never really turned him down.
I had the first two Mario Parties for N64 and one for Gamecube, but we usually played the N64 ones. He would always pick Yoshi and I would always pick Wario, and we'd always set one of the computers to Peach and constantly complain about how much of a bitch she was (Seriously, I honestly believe that computer Peach is way craftier than any other computer character). Spenser is actually really good at video games, so he'd usually beat me whenever we played versus games. He owned a Playstation but didn't play it too often. I was pretty impressed with his gaming abilities.
"Ben, I'm having a bad day... Can we play Mario Party?" "Of course!"
My friend Justin roomed with me over the summer after my junior year. He is a gamer, and got me to play World of Warcraft for the first time with him, although I didn't play it for very long. We also played Brawl together occasionally, but most of our gaming time together was spent watching the other play a single player game. He would watch me play Persona 3 and Dragon Quest VIII, and I would watch him play Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV. I don't really have any other friends that enjoy RPGs as much as I do, so I really enjoyed rooming with him just so that I could watch him play some of my favorite games. I don't get to watch people play games very often, which is actually something I rather enjoy doing for some reason.
Currently in my senior year, I live in a house full of guys but only really hang out with two of them, Mark and Dave. They'll play games with me occasionally, such as Brawl or Team Fortress 2, or sometimes Mark will watch me play games in my room. They are primarily Xbox gamers though, which is the one console that I don't own. I don't usually join games with them, since I'm not too crazy about Halo or Call of Duty, but rooming with Xbox gamers does at least give me a chance to watch some games that I probably won't ever play myself, which is good for my general gaming knowledge I suppose.
College has been quite an experience, and I'm happy to have had roommates with such a wide variety of gaming backgrounds. I've made many wonderful friends, and I'm so grateful to be able to share my favorite hobby with them, to show them why I love games so much and to learn some things from them as well. I'm sad that college is going to be over soon, but hopefully I'll meet some great new friends to game with in the future!
From left to right: Josh, Ray (not one of my roommates, but I do play games with him), Kerry, Mark, and myself.
Hello friends! Welcome to another batch of awesome freeware indie games! I had to skip last weekend's post, because of Easter and midterms. I've also been quite busy playing Portal 2 at my friend's house, so that's been taking up a lot of my time. I've still had some time to find and play some more indie games, though, so now I can share with you what I've been playing.
Spelunky is by far my favorite cave exploration game (with the exception of Cave Story, of course). It takes influence from La-Mulana, a game which I could never really get into. Basically, Spelunky presents you with randomly generated cave levels and arms you with bombs, rope and a whip. These levels contain gold, jewels and artifacts to collect, damsels to save, enemies to kill, traps to avoid, and items to find or purchase to help make your exploration easier. There are four different worlds to play through, as well as a hidden bonus world which you can find if you're a particularly talented spelunker. Each world contains four levels that you must beat in order to move on to the next world. The game will occasionally throw a special level your way, such as a snake pit level or a darkness level which requires you to use flares to navigate. The game can be pretty difficult, as you can die fairly easily and have to start over, but I wouldn't say that the game is mercilessly frustrating. You just have to figure out strategies to defeat certain enemies and learn how to avoid certain traps in order to navigate the levels efficiently. There's really just so many little details about this game that make it absolutely wonderful which I could probably write an entire blog post on. I feel like I learn something new about this game every time I play it. It's very addictive once you get the hang of it, and the randomly generated levels and tremendous attention to detail give it a very high replayability factor. I don't really want to spoil too much for you though, so if you haven't played it yet you should definitely give it a try.
Yet another game by my favorite indie developer, Locomalito. This game might just be my favorite of his. The game follows the story of Jean Raymond, a 13th century Cathar trying to escape persecution by the Catholic church. He finds an old church to hide in, and begins to explore the creepy ruins that he discovers hidden beneath the floorboards. The presentation of this game is very unique, with ZX Spectrum-inspired graphics consisting of bright colors against a black background, with each sprite consisting of a single color. The music fits with the style of the graphics, and is appropriately creepy. The controls are very simple, you only use the directional buttons to move, up to jump and down to crawl. The game involves avoiding enemies and jumping over obstacles in order to find and collect crosses. Once you've found all 12 crosses, you can confront the final boss. It's a particularly dark and creepy game, and the simplicity of the gameplay and graphics work very well together. Beating this game without any outside help is a very rewarding experience.
Seven Minutes is a rather strange and somewhat disorienting platformer. After touching a strange light that you are warned not to touch, an angry deity appears and informs you that you have only seven more minutes to live. What will you do with your remaining seven minutes left in this world? As you progress through the game, the deity will constantly pester you, confuse you and try to discourage you from continuing. You get infinite lives, however, so it's just a matter of persevering to the end and figuring out the various tricks that the levels try to throw at you. The game features simple graphics consisting of grays, whites and bright blues against a black background. The music is good, although the sound effects are kind of weird. The sound that the deity makes sort of gets old after awhile. The pulsating effects of the deity and his speech are also kind strange, I'm not sure how I feel about them. They definitely induce a sense of panic, however, which is a key element of the gameplay. I imagine you wouldn't want to play this game if you were epileptic. The idea of the game is quite brilliant, however, and I definitely enjoyed the game and how panicky and urgent it felt. There are two endings to discover, the proper ending contains the credits, so you'll probably need to play it multiple times in order to "beat" the game.
Cathode Rays is a very ingeniously designed puzzle game which can be downloaded to your desktop or played in a browser. The game is described as a "zero-button" game, since you don't actually use any buttons to play, just your mouse. You must guide various colored rays of light from one prism to another to complete each level. The rays will follow your mouse's movements, but they will disappear if they touch something of a different color from their own, which means you will have to start the level over. The graphics consist simply of colored lines against a black background with some sort of a vibrating visual effect, and the music is pretty awesome. The level design for this game is excellent, and many levels require very precise mouse movements in order to complete them. You'll often find yourself stuck staring at a level for a while, thinking it's impossible, before it suddenly hits you and you realize what must be done. The "zero-button" design may not sound very fun at first, but it actually works very well for this puzzle game.
Digital: A Love Story is a very intriguing, immersive and emotional experience. It's a text-based game which places you back into the Bulletin Board Systems of the late '80s. The game is presented as a computer desktop, namely the Amie Workbench, which you navigate much like your own desktop. You can open messages, download programs to the desktop, dial numbers, and reply to messages on the BBSs. There is also a music player which comes along with your desktop, which will play different songs depending on your progress in the game. The music is quite nice. Digital does an excellent job of pulling you into the world of the game. Once you start reading the various messages and getting to know the characters, you won't want to stop playing until you've beaten the game. You learn about the characters solely through their messages and replies. You are unable to read your own sent messages, although you can usually infer what you said based on the replies that you get. It might have been nice to be able to read your sent messages, as I would've liked to know what I could have said that warranted a "FUCK YOU!" from one of the characters, but I guess you can just be creative and decide what you would have said yourself. The game also has a strange way of inducing paranoia in the player. I don't really want to spoil the game or the story for anyone though, so I won't say anything more about it. If you're unsure about whether or not to play this game, I say at least give it a try. I'm not really a fan of text-based games myself, but this one was a very interesting and rather emotional experience for me.
Hope you enjoyed these picks! And don't forget to donate to the developers if you can. See you guys next week!
Having interesting characters can be a very effective way for a video game to draw players into the story. Once you begin to like a character for whatever reason, you'll usually continue to play the game to see what happens with that character and how they'll end up by the end of the game. This is especially true for characters that the player can relate to. On rare occasions, the player may even stumble upon a character that seems to portray all of the same characteristics or have all of the same thoughts as the player. This can be a wonderful experience, playing as a character that you can relate to entirely and watching their story unfold. In all of the video games that I've played so far, there is one character that stands out to me as a character to whom I can wholly relate to, who seems to share many of my own personality traits and thoughts. For me, this character would be Vivi from Final Fantasy IX.
You may be thinking, "Vivi? Come on, everyone likes Vivi! What a predictable choice." What makes Vivi so likable though? Is it because he's so cute? I don't really consider myself to be cute. Is it because he's so nice? I guess I'm generally a pretty nice guy, but that's not really why I can relate to him so well. As with any interesting character, Vivi has his fair share of "flaws," and it's these flaws that I find I can relate to the most about his character.
We meet Vivi very early on in the game in the town of Alexandria. The very first thing that happens to him is that he is knocked over by some kids running past him, causing him to drop his ticket to a theatre performance. He gets up slowly and wipes the dust off of his clothes as a nearby girl picks up his ticket and returns it to him. He fixes his hat nervously and continues on, only to be immediately knocked over again by another running kid. He gets up once again, fixes his hat, and continues on without a word of complaint.
Within these first few minutes of meeting Vivi, I had become immediately sympathetic towards his character and could start to sense parts of my own personality being reflected through his actions. I never complain about shit that happens to me, even when I would be completely justified in doing so. Vivi would have certainly been justified in yelling at the little punk for knocking him over and shouting at Vivi to get out of his way, but he didn't say a word just as I would have done. I just try not to let things get to me and carry on with my life. I also constantly worry that I'm in somebody's way when walking around in public, or that I'm being a burden to someone, which seems to be a concern that Vivi shares as he always seems to be in someone's way and nervously tries to continue on with his business. I even have some of the same mannerisms as Vivi. I'm constantly adjusting my glasses or my clothing out of nervousness in much the same way that Vivi is always adjusting his hat. I'm also told that I have a funny, stiff way of walking. I don't think I walk the same way Vivi does, but I would probably also describe Vivi's gait as funny and stiff.
This isn't where the similarities between myself and Vivi end of course. Throughout the game, Vivi is generally pretty quiet, usually only speaking when someone else addresses him or when he has something particularly important to say. I am a rather quiet fellow as well, and usually don't open up to people until I've known them for quite some time. When conversing with strangers or new acquaintances, I usually don't speak unless I'm spoken to, and tend to be rather awkward when meeting new people.
Vivi also likes to do things on his own a lot. Whenever you arrive at a new town, such as Lindblum, Dali or Cleyra, Vivi tends to go off on his own to explore and think, even if you offer to accompany him. I tend to enjoy being alone as well. I would much prefer to stay at home than go out to a party or a bar, and when I do hang out with people I like to spend time with a small group of people rather than a crowd. I also enjoy running errands alone or going out to get food by myself, although I usually won't say no if someone offers to go with me. I don't know why, but I feel more comfortable when I'm alone, being contemplative and keeping my thoughts to myself. I get the feeling that Vivi feels the same way. He also mentions at one point in the game that he never really thinks about girls or relationships, and currently I feel the same way. I think I would be comfortable just living on my own rather than in a relationship, and I'm fairly certain that's the way things will end up. We do get to see Vivi's children at the very end of the game though, which is interesting, but they never really explain where they came from or who Vivi may have ended up with.
Vivi of course has some even bigger flaws which he has to figure out how to deal with throughout the course of the game. His biggest problem is that he is constantly doubting himself and downplaying his abilities. He is a very talented black mage capable of using powerful magical spells, and the other characters, especially Steiner, seem to notice this and request his help or try to encourage him. Vivi, on the other hand, doesn't seem to think he's that special. His response to Zidane and Steiner requesting his help is, "Huh? B-but I can't do anything," even though we've already seen him use his powerful fire spells to chase away enemies. This also happens to be a major problem that I share with Vivi, and that I'm currently trying to cope with. All through school and college, I've gotten very good grades and people have told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do. However, I can never, for the life of me, seem to figure out what it is exactly that I want to do. I'm constantly considering career options which sound like I would really enjoy them, and then dropping those ideas at a moment's notice because I feel like I probably wouldn't be very good at it. I've finally ended up settling on an English major in college, even though I often feel that my writing is rather mediocre and that I don't really have anything important to say. I'm graduating at the end of this quarter, and I would like to pursue a career in writing to some degree, so this is a problem that I should probably figure out how to cope with immediately. I'm quite nervous about the future, but I'm sure I'll manage somehow.
By the end of the game, Vivi confronts some of his major flaws and personal roadblocks. He figures out his feelings regarding life and death, and decides what he wants to fight for. He becomes a very strong and admirable character. Watching this character, who seems to think and act exactly as I do, succeed in the end makes me very hopeful for my own future. I may not be in the same situation he is in, but if Vivi can figure out a way to cope with his problems, I feel confident that I can do the same.
So this is why Vivi will always have a special place in my heart, and why I can relate to him so well. Are there any video game characters that you can relate with, or that share some of your own characteristics or thoughts? I would love to hear your stories as well.