In my last blog I showed off my Rock Band version of then Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Then a few days later he was hired as the Rams head coach. This is bittersweet for me. On one hand I moved to Columbia, Missouri about 4 years ago and this gives me a reason to like the Rams, on the other hand that Rams logo is a lot more complex than the NY of the Giants logo. So last night I gave it a shot and started making the Rams logo for the new and improved Steve Spagnuolo. I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with. It took me about an hour. The frustrating thing is I use Photoshop at work all day long and its quite a difference using the analog sticks on the 360 controller instead of my Wacom tablet. But this is probably the best I can do without spending serious amounts of time. The logo is mostly made of solid shapes, and the rams horn is a C. The problem I kept running into was not being able to make things small enough. I had to use other pieces to covers them up to make them look smaller. Like the eye of the ram, I took a white almond shape and covered it mostly with a blue rainbow shape. Anyway I hope you guys like it.
During last years playoffs my friends and I started noticing that the announcers never referred to Steve Spagnuolo as anything other than Steve Spagnuolo. They never called him Steve or any nickname or any variation of his name, it was always his entire name. So that kinda turned into a season long inside joke, where we kept a count of how many times they showed him or mentioned him. We always play Rock Band during halftime or between games. One day we got the great idea to make Steve Spagnuolo in Rock Band! I really wish they had a headset microphone, that would have been great. It took about 30 minutes to make the Giants logo on Steve Spagnuolo's shirt. All of our time was later validated when another friend asked us how much it cost to download the Giants logo. Its not very timely with the Giants losing last weekend, but heres our Rock Band Steve Spagnuolo.
So I made it all the way through the Climate Control and was completely dismantled by NeiFirst. I saved right before I started talking to her so I could reload right before that and try again. I've tried about 10 different times and I never come close to beating her. I read somewhere, and this may be totally wrong, that she has 1,100 hit points. I'm probably only doing 300 points of damage to her before I die. I'm pretty sure I have the best weapons and armor but she cuts Rolf's hit points literally in half with one attack. I try throwing the Trimates at him but eventually the other guys die off and I have no one left to heal Rolf. Anyway I was staring hopelessly at the death screen and it says quite simply: ROLF and the others failed to restore peace to the planet Algo.
And I just realized that I'm not going to get past NeiFirst and kind of just accepted that I'm not going to restore peace to Algo. My bad people of Algo, I tried. Thats just how this story is going to end for me. I got a lot out of the game and am glad I played it but I'm guessing I would have to grind up a level or two to even have a chance. And I just bought (and have never played) Chrono Trigger. And I can't convince myself to keep playing PS2.
Back when I was a Boy Scout we had a Toten Chip Card that proved we were responsible enough to use a pocket knife, and if we were caught being irresponsible we had a corner cut off. I feel kinda like I should get a corner cut off of my Retro Gamer Card. Sory RetroForceGO! Its all NeiFirst's fault!
I've been playing PSII for a couple months now and I really thought I'd be done already. The problem is that there are so many games out right now that I can't stay committed to playing it consistently while still playing new games. And then you add in the fact that PSII isn't the only retro game I'm playing at the moment. About two months ago I was about half through 5 or so games and I decided to just commit to one game so I could finish something before Fallout3 and Gears 2 take up all of my time. So I put most of my gaming time into Resident Evil 4. It was my first time playing that as well. It was completely amazing and worthy of all the praise its gotten. But playing that left PSII out in the cold. I feel bad but given the choice between wondering aimlessly through a dungeon hoping I don't die in a random encounter and killing Las Plagas, I'll choose the later.
I have made some progress in PSII though. I just got the leaf and took it to a guy so he can make gum that will let me breath underwater. I really like the Visiphone that lets you save anywhere. The game seems to have opened up a lot. It feels like I'm teleporting all over the place going to the different towns and using the Jet Scooter is pretty cool. Getting through the mountain to get the leaf was crazy hard. I used a map online after several failed attempts at getting through on my own. I have so much respect for all the young gamers you beat this game back in the day, I don't know how you did it. I don't have the patience anymore. With so many games to play I don't have the time or the patience to spend trying to make it through one of those dungeons on my own. I wish I could give the game the time it deserves but I just don't have the time.
Does anyone else struggle with the balance of staying current while still maintaining that retro cred?
I finally made it across the bridge! I died a couple of times trying to get the daughter out of the second tower/dungeon. And then I have to admit that I cheated a little. I looked at a map online of the dungeon. I really didn't want to, but I died twice by random encounter! It just sucks so much to put a lot of time into exploring this dungeon, and you can tell that you are only going to live through a few more battles, only to basically get to a literal dead end and have to start all over. After doing that twice I was so frustrated that I looked up a map online. I am not proud of having to resort to looking online to get help but I figure its the equivalent to asking a kid at school for help back in the day when this came out.
So after I get the daughter, Teim, she puts a bag on her head so other people won't kill her because everyone hates her dad, Darum, for killing and robbing people on the bridge. I go and save then make my way up to the bridge. I'm pretty excited at this point I feel like I'm finally going to get to a new area of the game after basically playing in the same areas for this whole first part. As I was walking up to the bridge I was thinking about the fact that my characters can't do anything while moving around the map. I can't swing my sword or punch someone or do any sort of movement other than walking. I don't know why I was thinking about this but it set me up for a big surprise. So I walk into the bridge and just after I was think about the fact that my characters can only move and I have very little control over them, the game basically goes into a cut scene. Darum walks up and says something and then Teim, still covered up, goes to confront him. And then he just cuts her down, and while I'm still in shock over that he goes and blows himself up! I just kind of stared at the screen for a bit because I did not see that coming. First of all I've been trying to get Teim since the game started and after working for hours and hours and all the frustration of the dungeons and random encounters I finally get her, and then shes just gone after all that work. And then I can't even get revenge or yell at this guy for killing his own daughter he just blows himself up. I kinda thought that they might end up in my party. I was looking forward to having the bad ass killer guy being on my team.
I was a little disappointed that the area on the other side of the bridge was basically the same as the area that I was just in. Maybe it was a little naive to think it would be drastically different, but after spending so much time trying to get across this bridge I was looking for some sort of pay off. I was looking forward to new enemies to fight and to a certain degree they are there but its a lot of the same stuff. The enemy I hate the most is Blaster. Hes the purple fluffy blob thing that hits everyone in one attack. Hes why I died so often in the second dungeon trying to get Teim. So the grass isn't much greener on the other side of the bridge but I did get to a new city and that meant a new team member. Amy joins my group and at first I really didn't know what to do with her. She was so weak I bought her all of the best armor I could. I think its very interesting that after you have to level up all of your characters to get to this area that they give you a brand new character thats so weak. It totally throws the balance of your team off. Everyone else had over 60 hit points, I think Rudo was almost at 100, and she has only 12 or something like that to start with. It was annoying at first but I think that maybe one of the reasons they did this as opposed to making her at least close to the skill level of your team at that time, was so you could get the thrill of leveling up. At that point everyone was leveling up so rarely that it was nice to see some progress in someone.
Theres not much to say about the BioSystems Labs that I havn't already said about the other buildings/dungeons. Random encounters are even more annoying when I'm simply lost, trying to figure out how to get through this place. The overlay thing was kinda neat and cool the first couple of times but now that novelty has worn out. Thats just annoying now. It just makes it more difficult to get through these dungeons. I did manage to get the recorder out of the BioSystems Labs without resorting to an internet map, which I was quite pleased about. I got the info back the Paseo and the story is unfolding a little more. It seems like such a long time since the actual plot was been mentioned. Its really been since the opening of the game that the plot was really been talked about. After that it was just go get the recorder and bring it back. A few hours of game play later, they let me in on some more stuff about the plot. I could have used a little more of the story as I was going along. I guess I really didn't notice it until they started talking about Mother Brain and the monster escaping the BioSystems Labs and the energy surge that caused the accident that I realized this stuff hasn't been talked about since I started playing. Thats pretty much where I stopped. That seemed like a good stopping place. I'm looking forward to whats on the other side of that bridge, maybe this time it'll be totally different like I was expecting before.
I almost forgot to mention the cool music guy in the new town. I think its awesome that you can select music to listen to within the game. I would have loved this back in the day. That is such a cool feature. It feels kinda like an Easter Egg or a special feature. I hope they do more with that later.
Looking back on it now, my history as a gamer is kind of embarrassing. I bought into the hype of every bad game, and some how missed most of the awesome ones. So I'm trying to make amends by playing those sweet games I missed, while I was busy playing the likes of Sewer Shark.
I've never played a Phantasy Star game. In fact the only RPG I played before this past year was Miracle Warrior for the Master System. A friend let me borrow it one summer (maybe 1993) when my family had a huge road trip and I played it on my Game Gear using the MasterGear Converter. I've since added Mass Effect and Lost Odyssey to my list of RPGs played. And I'm also currently playing The World Ends With You. But thats it those are the only RPGs I've ever played. That lets you know a little of where I'm coming from when I talk about Phantasy Star II.
I am playing PSII on my DS using the Phantasy Star compilation GBA game. I think the game is awesome so far. I love how old school it is. I love the music, the funny stuff all of the villagers say. I'm not very far at all into the game I think ROLF is a level 7. I'm on my way to get the daughter of the guy who won't let me cross the tunnel/bridge thing. While I am loving PSII so far I think that this first mission/task is poorly designed. It may be a limitation of some port but basically all I need to do is cross this bridge, but I can't cause this guy won't let me. So in order to cross the bridge I need the guys daughter, but in order to get the daughter I need the dynamite. It just seems like I'm running back and forth between the same places. Which brings me to the random encounters. There are so many random encounters! I didn't mind at first but when I'm lost in the tower trying to find the dynamite before my team dies, knowing that all of the leveling up I've done since I've saved will be gone, because I didn't bring enough Monomite. I just want to walk around the tower and find the dynamite but these things keep attacking me. The Armorants are the worst. I'm pretty much screwed anytime 3 of them pop up.
This is a total side note but all modern hand held games should have a 'save at any time' feature. I mostly play while I'm at work waiting for files to open on my computer. And while I know the PSII was obviously not designed to be a hand held RPG, its safe function makes it all the more frustrating. Multiple times I had to leave the tower when looking for the dynamite because I needed to save. So it feels like I've spent so much time looking through that tower because I get most of the way through and then have to teleport out to go save. PSII isn't the easiest game to play in small chunks, it wasn't meant to be, but still its kind of a pain in the butt.
Other than a few annoyances, that I think are mostly me being unaccustomed to this type of game, and more specifically this type of game from that era, I am really enjoying PSII. I can't wait to get across that bridge and see what is to the west.