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The freedom to get your ass kicked: The Matador!

This is inspired by Anthony Burch's recent "rant."

I'm playing SMT: Strange Journey right now and to get myself ready I had kicked off a new game of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne on my PS2. While series spin-off Persona is no slouch in challenge, the games within the main series tend to have an even harder edge.

And within these games you have a lot of freedom to customize your character and you can do the same for the demons you summon and fuse into new demons. You have moral alignments and dialog choices you've made throughout these two games and these can affect the course of the story, the endings and things of that nature. Sometimes these lead to different endgames, too. You can even talk your way out of a fight rather than run, potentially gaining a new ally or item as a result..

And in Strange Journey, alignment will even affect what ally performs a follow up attack if you exploit an enemy weakness. If the demon shares your world view, they'll attack with you. If not, they're just going to do what they're asked to do, nothing more.

Nocturne doesn't have that twist, but it still had a lot of freedom to let you play mostly to your liking. Instead of having allies to follow-up attacks based of striking weaknesses and compatible alignments, hitting a weakness just meant you got extra turns to pummel the enemy.

And when you've learned that, you're patting yourself on the back if Nocturne was your first SMT, as it was for me. You think you've learned how to play. You pass on the skills that buff you and the party because you feel might makes right and evasion buffs are lame.

And then this guy shows up:

Its all well and good to fight how you want most of the time, but Fiends like him as well as future bosses don't play by the "just melee me til you win" rule, you have to do more. Eventually, you find a nice balance between what you want and what the game expects of you. You'll customize your hero and allies to your liking, but you'll keep those buffs and debuffs in mind.

Its not the most friendly way of teaching the game, but it does teach you the values of looking at all the skills presented to you. Neglect them and you only make the game harder than it already is.
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About The Silent Protagonistone of us since 1:33 AM on 10.06.2009

I've been into games since I was able to reach the joystick on the Pac-Man arcade cabinet. That was 1982 - ever since that day I knew gaming and I would be bound by fate in some way, shape or form that I've still yet to figure out.

Until then, I've decided to just play games, enjoy them, blog about games and otherwise not shut up about them. Well, I do think about other stuff, I just keep coming back to the whole games thing.

Metroid is probably still my all-time favorite series. Its the one I keep coming back to year after year despite which version it might be. Super Metroid and Metroid Prime 2 are my favorites of the series and I also often enjoy anything Metroid-like. I enjoy the solitude and exploration of such games.

I also enjoy Shin Megami Tensei, Fallout, Deus Ex, The Elder Scrolls - pretty much anything with a lot of solitary exploration and a large world makes me a rather happy camper. To contrast this I usually need some lighter and happier games as well, which could be anything from a Pokemon game to a fashion game. Retro games of most stripes are something I still enjoy. Sometimes you just need that sort of contrast to keep going.

My platforms of choice tend to be handhelds, I'm starting to consider dropping any non-Nintendo console in favor of PC since Sony's IPs don't appeal to me and Halo just ends up on PC at some point anyway. I don't hate Playstation per se, I just hate what its become under the current Sony.

I do keep a PS2 handy to revisit Playstation's glory days. Great console, easily one of the best platforms aside from SNES, DS and Dreamcast.

As for other things about me, I guess we'll find out, won't we?