Victim of an overzealous TSA investigation, Mario Jumpman Mario ends up below the ocean itching to inject random liquids he finds into his veins. Or something like that.
I apologize for being quiet around here lately. Between my real job picking up with a big new project and my own little side adventure I’ll be getting into in the moment, I haven’t had a lot of time to post. It happens. But hey, that’s just the bad news. The good news is you’ll have a chance to see a lot more of me coming soon if you enjoy my trademark wit, dry observations, and eccentric ramblings.
We are going live on Twitch!
Previously I had been testing the waters out with the Premiere system – kind of like YouTube videos on Twitch but with the videos premiering “Live” at a set point before being added to an archive. Now the current plan is still to do those, but augment it with nights where I’ll be broadcasting games live. The premieres will be used for migrating my YouTube archive over to Twitch, weeks were I know I won’t be available, or for videos I need to do more post-production work on like the Sims 4 videos where I have overlays showing how much money I have and how far into my challenge I am. That in mind, my Twitch Schedule both here and on my Twitch page will make note of when a broadcast is Live or a Premiere.
The schedule is still remaining a static every 2nd and 4th wednesday at 6pm PST. If you’re interested, you can always go and give me a follow on Twitch. It doesn’t cost anything (that’s ‘Subscribing’) and you can set it up to let you know when I go live with a broadcast.
The reason this has taken so long is that well, I’m a stickler for appearance. Regardless of whether its a source of income or not, I work hard to make the visuals and flow of this website something that’s at least aesthetically pleasing to me. I like it when I can present myself in a way that I am happy with and not just with some default slapdash thing. So I have been working on developing overlays for my Stream – at least enough to start with, some functions are still defaults with some customization tossed in. I’ve been building up a theme, getting music, setting up software… I just want to be able to display something I’m proud of.
After the liveshows on Twitch, they’ll be uploaded to YouTube some time within the following week and likewise posted here when they do. So just because you miss out on the live part, doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out completely.
I would like to thank everyone on here, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for their support in this endeavor. It’s not a full time thing, it’s not even a replacement for this blog, but it is the most important thing – something I have fun doing. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or even constructive criticisms I always happily welcome them.
So last night, The Land of Odd officially made its debut on Twitch.tv as I’m sure those who follow me on Twitter saw me throwing up messages left and right about. The whole thing was quite the learning experience for a first attempt not only on the platform but also trying out Twitch’s new video producer tools which were introduced only a week ago.
Somethings I learned?
Well, the ‘Countdown’ feature begins to play at the scheduled time and not leading up it, as in a 5 minute countdown would start at 7pm and not 6:55pm, thus your video would start at 7:05. So the ones I set up to fill the gap between the videos streaming were actually throwing things further and further off schedule. The Countdowns are also a permanent fixture of your uploaded video after your premiere so now I’ve got a few videos with countdowns that are almost as long as the content itself, artificially inflating the length of them.
Also I learned that there’s no easy way to line up multiple videos back to back. They all have to scheduled to 30 minute increments and can’t overlap. So if you are like me and uploaded several (ten in my case) videos to premiere in one night, there’s going to be a lot of “Offline” screens between them – which may hurt viewership.
Moving forward, the Twitch approach to many of these videos are going to be radically different from my YouTube approach. Longer videos of 30-60 minutes will probably be more common simply because the Twitch platform is built on streaming and that tends to be a longer format than simple clickable digestible bits on YouTube. The videos will be broken up when put on YouTube though in their normal 10-20 minute chunks.
Also, when bringing old videos over to premiere I will be re-editing them into longer format videos by cropping out the starts and ends and putting them back to back. That way there will be no ‘Offline’ moments and from 7pm there will just be a single continuous video.
That being said, I would also like to direct your attention to the sidebar here on the website where we have added the schedule for the Twitch channel. We will be airing videos on the second and fourth wednesday of every month at 7pm. There’s a list of what we will be premiering with brand new content to the site being marked as such (at least until we finishing the entire backlog).
I welcome you to come and enjoy the premieres. I’ll often be there watching them too, so if you chime in on chat I will likely be around to respond, otherwise it looks like the chat gets recorded for later viewings (and you can leave chat messages at any timecode point in the already premiered videos). You can follow me on there as well and I always appreciate people who do or those who spread the word. I’m not a partner, nor is this in anyway my living, just a fun thing to do with my spare time (where I normally talk and joke at the games I play anyway.) But I’d be interested to see if this actually gains any momentum.
Thank you all, and welcome to a bold new 2018 for the Land of Odd.
I miss when video games were fun.
Oh not the games themselves – they still are fun as heck – but more so everything surrounding them. In recent years, gaming has been something of a ‘problematic fave’ to borrow a term. You can enjoy the product but damn if the dubious ethics of the publishers, the foaming rage of the fandoms, and the all out tug-of-war over artistic merit doesn’t sour the whole experience a little bit. When its gotten back to the point where people are backing away from being labeled “gamer” again (albeit for wholly different reasons) you know things have gotten bad.
I don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t know if its something about my experiences or upbringing or when I got into gaming or anything but a lot of this stuff doesn’t seem that complicated to me. Enjoy games. Treat other people with respect. Don’t assume your view is the only valid one. Sesame Street taught me this stuff. But even I’ll admit that there were periods in my life where I let them slip. I suppose none of us are without flaws.
Still it’s weird to be an outsider because of things like ‘giving the benefit of the doubt’ and ‘being optimistic about games’. For instance, I really liked the original ending to Mass Effect 3. I may have mentioned that on this blog a few (dozen) times. But I really did. It felt like a solid science fiction open ended ending that you would find in like an old Heinlein novel or something. I never got the whole ‘your choices didn’t matter’ thing because really, the entire game was a culmination of your choices. I bumped into faces that I did a side mission for back in ME1 and helped out or let live. Not everything got a big dramatic cutscene but if you read all the things (Note: This was before Final Fantasy XIII taught me that gamers don’t like to read apparently. Put down your torch, that was a joke.) your previous choices DO have an affect on things. Like the Rachni. If you take the Rachni back with you in ME3, the outcome is dependent on whether you saved them in ME1. If you did, then these Rachni will remember you and benefit the war effort. If you killed them, these are artificial Reaper controlled rachni and they will go nuts in your labs and you’ll lose precious resources from the war effort. Yes. That’s in the game.
So how is all that the benefit of the doubt? Well, generally I don’t just discount something because it’s obtuse or doesn’t make sense right away. I was a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion after all. I suppose it got drilled into me back in film school. There’s meaning and purpose behind things we create. You just might not see them right away. Take the previously mentioned Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. Is it flawed? Very. Is it difficult to understand? Can be. But if you take the time, savor it, and take in everything that it offers to you – I found it to be a magnificent game with a wonderfully fascinating story.
Even outside of game plots, there are things like DLC. Downloadable content has been viewed almost universally as a blight on the gaming landscape. Assumed to be lazy cash grabs or content ripped out from the finalized game in order to sell later to make additional cash. While I can’t argue that those things have never occurred and certainly can point to a few examples where they most definitely have, there are some positives to DLC that I don’t ever think get given the time of day. Take that “content ripped from the final game” concept. I see that one a lot. Especially with games like RPGs. People argue that they should have just included it in the final game and not sold it separately, that in ‘ye olden days’ of gaming that you would get the full product at a single price. Which isn’t really true. A lot of the stuff that ends up being DLC is stuff that is planned for the game, but can’t be finished by date they need to go gold by (the date the game needs to be finished so they can send it to be mass produced and packaged for the actual release day). A lot of times, studios will keep working on polishing the game after that point and push those updates out as a big ‘day one patch’. But a lot of times content that was planned like that would just be cut or dummied out. That happened A LOT in the old days. Heck, there’s entire plotlines to the original Knights of the Old Republic that got dummied out, and a romance plot too. Games can have massive unexplorable areas that were going to be used for something but there was no time to finish it. Going back to Mass Effect, a lot of the complaints about the DLC being “on the disc” were only partially right because yes, these planned for expansions were planned for and thus their bare bones were already in place but incomplete. All the dialogue and scenes where Kasumi Goto in Mass Effect 2 interacting with the existing missions/story were on the disc, but her model was a generic placeholder and her recruitment mission and loyalty mission where absent.
DLC is something that can – and often is – used as a second chance to save ideas from the scrap pile without having to sacrifice a release date window. But people often assume the worst, greediest, and most scummy practices imaginable. Again, I can’t say those horrible views are based somewhat on fact. There have been cases of that happening. I just think that its awfully pessimistic to paint the whole concept of post-launch content with such a negative brush based on those incidents. Now whether you don’t think the price is worth it is a whole other debate, and really that always comes down to personal taste. No different than ‘Is this game worth X dollars?’. Sometimes it isn’t. No I don’t want to spend $1.50 on a swimsuit I personally won’t ever use in Final Fantasy XIII-2 (I do have the swimsuit outfits, but that’s because they came as part of a bundle.)
I suppose a lot of this can be viewed as the ‘gaming fandom’ going through its cynical teenage years of being a long term fanbase. But there’s always those who buck the flow, and Indy gaming being embraced so wholeheartedly is just one sign of that. The fact that games made by small teams that don’t just become best sellers, but spawn entire fan followings solely around their games can just so that people can find something positive to enjoy in gaming still. It’s not just a bunch of grumps spouting witty cynicisms like a bunch of jaded critics. Gaming is something that should be enjoyable. Be that conquering the hardest difficulty if that’s your thing, or playing on ‘Story’ difficulty because you’re interested in the story and lore. You should play what you enjoy and how you enjoy. Be it Braid or Boy and His Blob, Tetris or Tekken – just enjoy your games.
Of course, that’s not that there isn’t anything to be concerned about with gaming in general. I mean, from the online threats to the unethical pressures publishers have pushed on developers, gaming as an industry and as a medium has a long way to go. And yes, there are plenty of valid criticisms that can be discussed about games. But if there was one thing I learned back in art school, it was that criticism is healthy for growth, and not everyone is going to like everything. Heck, my own writing was often berating for having ‘no substance beyond being entertaining.’ I personally believe that the important thing is to keep looking forward at how games can improve, how we can enjoy our entertainment to the fullest, and be considerate of other viewpoints that will help gaming grow into a vast and diverse community where we can all enjoy things.
Then again that’s all just me. I said I didn’t want to preach and I meant it. I’m not going to demand that my view is the right one, or the only valid one. It’s just mine. I just miss when games were fun.
If there’s one thing we nerds enjoy, it’s canon. Is this canonical? Is that? Is my OTP canonical? How does X fit into the canon? One need not look any further than the reaction to the announcement that the Star Wars Expanded Universe being retired into the Legends label to see how much a concise and clearly stated canon can matter to people. So there gets to be this mindset among fans of just about anything that whatever is stated to be canon is something akin to a holy text that must be viewed as complete and immutable from whatever state a fan finds it in. And that last bit is important because what eventually sets the bar as ‘betraying’, ‘contradicting’ or ‘ignoring’ canon depends a great deal on exactly what state the canon was in when and how you first were exposed to it.
After all, while the Green Lantern Corps was introduced in 1959, the concept of the Emotional Spectrum and the other Lantern Corps like the Red Lanterns, or the Sinestro Corps, didn’t come into being until 2006, despite it beings established that these things were in existence all along but the Green Lanterns may not have been aware of them. If you were a fan before Geoff Johns’ new interpretation of the Green Lantern universe, you might find this idea a bit on the heretical side. After all, how could the Guardians not know/expose this info? How come it took decades of issues before it was revealed that Parralax was a big space bug that was sealed away and they knew about it but kinda didn’t want to bring it up? On the same hand, if you came after that or say first got interested in Green Lantern due to the Green Lantern Animated Series – then the Emotional Spectrum and the other Lanterns are just part of the universe to you. Easy peasy.
Already we can see that time and method can dictate the view of what is considered to be canon and what isn’t. Will new Star Wars fans a decade from now when the JJ Abrams Trilogy comes to a close even think that the Legends novels were anything more than interesting What-If stories? That the Yuuzhan Vong are nothing more than glorified fanfiction characters? Perhaps. But aside from fan-interpretation and viewpoints of canon, what about when canon is changed by the ones who created it?
If you want a good example of fans getting upset at a ‘violation’ of canon by the ones who write the story themselves, look no further than our good friends at Blizzard Entertainment. Almost every expansion is met with cries of ‘That’s not what this character would do’, ‘Blizzard doesn’t care about their own canon’ or ‘This violates their own lore’, etc. I’ve played World of Warcraft since 2006 off and on, and I’ve seen these complaints so many times I’ve lost count. But it always comes back to this idea that what WAS should be preserved in a little box, and left to the point where it is never changed or influenced. Heck, I remember people complaining about the difference in characterization between Warcraft III and Vanilla WoW, almost like there was some sort of inexplicable 5 year jump mentioned in first few seconds of the opening cut scene. These characters change, the situation changes, and the world moves forward. The Forsaken were pretty much born out of Sylvanas’ quest for revenge against the Lich King. You can’t very well expect them to stay the same after their sworn mortal enemy is dead.
There’s also the issue of the fact that since WE are aware of all the details of the story and lore, we often will forget that the characters don’t. A character may not know the truth of all the details, or even heard the news if its something that happened on the completely other side of the planet and thus will act according to what they know and not what WE know. The concept of ‘metagaming’ can extend to fiction too, ya know. So while things sometimes look like a violation of canon, it can honestly sometimes just be a matter of ‘the characters wouldn’t know that’. Back to World of Warcraft for example, it’s stated in some places that the Eredar corrupted the Titan Sargeras into turning evil, it’s later revealed upon meeting the Draenei – an exiled faction of the Eredar – that it was actually the reverse. Sargeras had corrupted the Eredar. Is this a retcon? Yes, but does it break canon? No. No one who originally told the tales of Sargeras & the Eredar would have been in the position to know the facts of the tale. They are legends and fables, passed down for generations. Now when they meet the Draenei? Well, heck, Velen was THERE. He knows. Now he’s explaining it. Now you have the myth, and the fact. That’s developing canon, not violating it.
Wanting a canon to stay rigid, to have nothing new enter or depart the scene and for characters to stay the same as when we first fell in love with them just is flat out bad for storytelling. Is BioWare futzing with their own lore with TOR? Yes. Yes they are. The story is moving forward, a new enemy is appearing from beyond the borders of the galaxy and using a vastly different technique of force wielding to pursue a mission of galactic conquest. Honestly, from a personal standpoint, it’s not nearly as conflicting as say KOTOR to KOTOR2 when in the space of 5 years the entire Jedi Order was completely wiped out leaving only a few stragglers like the Exile around. No wonder they decided to set SWTOR 295 years later. Yeesh.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t ways you can mess up canon. Even Blizzard has admitted to messing up with mixing up established facts and they have employees devoted to entire task of keeping this stuff straight. But there’s a difference between ‘This never before explained thing has appeared and is attacking’ or ‘This ancient prophecy we just uncovered is coming true!’ and things like ‘Superman was never from Krypton, he’s from Snorglack-VII and always has been. Ignore what we said earlier.’ (And heck there are even acceptable ways to do that with continuity reboots, and elaborate explanations, that might reek of B.S. aren’t technically violating canon.) There are times when you just screw up and forget that you’ve already established some detail, and there are times you introduce retcons that will devastatingly run in contrast to how a character is viewed (Did you Batman ALWAYS hated rock music because his Dad told him it was bad the night they died?) but there is also just the idea that you are expanding the story and the universe.
As fans we sometimes have the tendency to get a bit zealous with our devotion to what we know. We like the permanence of the whole thing. It feels good. But that’s not necessarily what’s best for the story. For a story to grow, canon must be altered and expanded. Maybe there were 9 planets, but due to later revelations there are now 8 (or like 25). Canon must always be somewhat flexible in order for things to move forward. And I think we as fans need to be flexible with it.
Thanks for reading.
I LOVE Kingdom Hearts. Love it to pieces. Ever since I picked up the first one way back in college, I’ve done my best to try and play every single one. But that’s not easy with the insane cross platform releases. Some on the Game Boy, some on the PSP, and hey what about the one that was only available on Japanese mobile phones? That’s got to be an easy one to nab right? (Well, actually yea.) But even if you got them all, what order do all these go in? It’s clear they’re not chronological right? Well, with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (A weird and long title that is at least more descriptive than Ground Zeroes) set to be released on the Playstation 4 sometime in 2016, I figured I’d do a quick little handy right up for folks like me who are trying to figure out what order all these things come in.
0: Kingdom Hearts χ & Back Cover – Set before the events of the Keyblade War, the Chi games tell the story of the events that lead up to the War and the beginnings of the struggle between Light and Dark.
0.1: Birth by Sleep – Surrounding the adventures of three Keyblade Knights, the generation of wielders before Sora. Their adventures set the stage for the main games and explain the backstory for several series main characters & villains.
0.2: Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage – A short episode that takes places immediately following the events of the Birth By Sleep Secret Ending. Told through the framing device of Mickey telling the tale post-Dream Drop Distance.
1: Kingdom Hearts – The first game in the main ‘numbered’ series. The story of Sora, Donald, and Goofy trying to defeat the Heartless and find their friends.
1.5 – Chain of Memories & 358/2 Days – These two are occurring roughly simultaneously as the events of Chain of Memories are referenced as happening at the moment in 358/2 Days. Chain of Memories follows Sora & Riku and sets up the situation for Kingdom Hearts II, while 358/2 Days does the same but for the villains of that story: Organization XIII.
2: Kingdom Hearts II – Sora’s second grand adventure introduces us properly to the concept of the Nobodies and the battle against Organization XIII.
2.25: Re:Coded – Explores and is connected to several of the concepts from throughout the series: The fates of the characters from Birth By Sleep and their relationship to Sora, the Book of Prophecies from Chi, and sets up the beginning of Sora and Riku’s journey to become Keyblade Masters. It’s recommended to view the KH2.5 HD ReMix version of Re:Coded as it includes several important story scenes that are only available in this version.
2.5: Dream Drop Distance – Details the trials of Sora and Riku trying to earn their Master’s Marks to become Keyblade Masters, and dives more into Ansem’s plans and the true purpose of the Organization.
3: Kingdom Hearts III – Set to be released some day, this has been quoted by Nomura as the final chapter of Sora’s story in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
Now I’m just going to say that playing all of these games in chronological order may not be the best idea for new comers to the series. There’s a lot of these titles that will reference concepts or characters introduced in other games that technically take place later in the series. For example, Birth By Sleep was originally released after Kingdom Hearts II. So it is written and presented in a way that assumes some level of familiarity with Kingdoms Hearts 1, 2, Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days. However for those who are familiar with the series and want to see how the story unfolds in order, or don’t mind being confused for a couple of games as things start to snap together, this should prove to be about as interesting as coming to the Star Wars Saga fresh and watching them in order. In short: enlightening if nothing else.
Unfortunately such a grand experiment will have to wait until Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue comes out next year. Hopefully it will be released with enough time between it and Kingdom Hearts III that we can play all 9 other installments in order before then.
Victim of an overzealous TSA investigation, Mario Jumpman Mario ends up below the ocean itching to inject random liquids he finds into his veins. Or something like that.
So as I said before in my previous posts, I had decided to take some time off of the hustle and bustle of the non-stop worlds of MMOs and what not and get in touch with my roots of single player games. Single player games are actually my preferred form of story, outranking movies, books, and comics. There’s something just satisfying about playing a story to its completion and feeling like you actually changed things in the world. That’s something MMOs have always sorely lacked for me. Even if SWTOR, where choices can affect a great deal, you are ultimately on a straight path that has a clear and set beginning and end with a few dashes of flavor. The events of the Imperial Agents chapter two always occur, though not necessarily for always the same reasons. In the end, whether you are a cut throat bounty hunter, or a member of the fricking Dark Council, you still get called on to work the front lines of Makeb.
So when I feel in the mood for games where the story actually can change and alter the world around me as I play through them, I enjoy these breaks to come back to my roots and dig in with some games I may have put on the shelf, haven’t gotten to yet, or want to revisit from yesteryear. Hence, Chrono Trigger.
There’s not much I can say about Chrono Trigger that hasn’t already been said a thousand times across these worlds wide web. The game is still fantastic. It’s solid, tells a good story, and is fun. However, there is a lot of things I didn’t notice when I first played it. Which admittedly was like… middle school age I think. So around 12? Anyway, first and foremost that this game is actually incredibly simple. I mean compared to Squaresoft’s other offerings at the time. The older Final Fantasy games can seriously kick my butt still at times to this day, especially in the extra boss or final boss sense. Chrono Trigger? There’s always a trick, always some weakness, that once you know it, reduces a fight to mere child’s play and this includes the final boss. The final form of Lavos can be quite simply boiled down to: don’t attack the thing you THINK is the boss, kill the little thing to the right of it. Bam. Done. Many bosses have a weakness in the form of some kind of magic that nullifies their defenses. Really, the hardest boss fight in the whole thing was probably Magus because it’s a) early on b) the trick isn’t obvious and c) he has a wide range of heavily damaging and/or party wide attacks. The whole thing in retrospect feels like a beginners RPG. One to introduce people to the genre before graduating up to things like Final Fantasy.
The other thing I should note on my replay is that the game is really short. I completed the whole story the long way, completed all the optional side missions, collected every little doodad, unlocked every tech, and did quite a bit of grinding and the whole thing still took only about 23 hours to do. Now admittedly, if I was being honest about completion I’d have to include the X hours it would take to do a New Game+ and get all 15 other endings. But for a strict single playthrough that was surprisingly short for an RPG. Right? Or is it just me? Still, if you want an amazing old school RPG that isn’t gonna devour all your time, here ya go. The same however cannot be said for its sibling.
Well, I finished up Chrono Trigger, and I said, “What shall I play next?” and my game shelf answered “How about the sequel?” which was odd because my shelf usually recommends that I play Mega Man every time I ask it. Chrono Cross is one of those games that I played once, enjoyed it tremendously, and never picked it up again. The reasons being twofold. The first is that the plot is insanely confusing and requires a great deal of thinking to wrap your head around the combinations and consequences of time and dimensional travel presented, and second that the only way to get the “good ending” is complete bullcensored. Having to toss the correct color combo of magic (magic and attacks have colors in this game. Don’t ask me why.) and then smack with a special magic. That’s all well and good but the boss ALSO is tossing out color magic and it messes up the whole thing. TEDIOUS. So why did I start replaying it? (Still haven’t finished) Well, unlike when I was 16 (a literal half a lifetime ago now), I didn’t have access to things like FAQs on the internet. So that helps immensely with the ending. And I’m older and wiser now. Kind of. Stop giggling. So the convoluted plot so be a bit easier to follow. I hope.
As I said, I haven’t finished this one yet but I am enjoying it. The combat system is not nearly as frustrating despite five different components and resources to keep track of (Hit chance, Tech points, Tech color, Field Color, and Stamina), it becomes a fairly intuitive dance after a while. Hit to generate tech points, spend tech points to use techs, and keep in mind your colors to maximize damage. The story is also pretty cool and seems designed with the intent of multiple playthroughs. For instance, early on you can take 3 different paths to get to the next objective. Each path requires different things, and recruits a different party member. I don’t know if you can still get the other party members later in the game, or you need to grab them in a new game+ set up to recruit them all. Not too worried since this game hosts a multitude of companions (It’s in the double digits at least). But that’s kind of a cool mechanic you don’t see very often. Three paths that lock you out of the other two when you pick one? Bold and interesting choice. I didn’t even realize it was there until I accidentally locked myself out of one of the other paths.
However, if Chrono Trigger is a beginner RPG then Cross feels like a fricking Advanced Placement class. There is so much here in terms of plot, collectibles, recruitable characters, and mechanics that I can’t imagine jumping into this one right after Trigger without playing some other RPGs in between. Luckily there were YEARS between the two games when they first came out. I still look forwarding to playing this one some more and seeing how the rest of it holds up.
FINAL FANTASY VII
Okay. Alright. Confession time, readers. I… never finished FF7 before. Yes, you may laugh, jeer, throw things, etc. But I never did. I got to the point where Aerith dies and then I was done. Not because I was heart broken by the loss. Oh heck no. I NEVER liked Aerith. She always came off to me as a cheerleader mixed with a purity sue that continuously got shoved in my face because “LOOK! IT’S A TRAGIC ROMANCE!” No. It’s that by that point in the game, I had utterly stopped giving a damn about the greater plot that confused me worse than Chrono Cross, and I decided to just walk away. To give you a time frame, I bought FF7 when it was just given its greatest hits release.
Now, I can’t click anything Final Fantasy related on the internet without hearing about how no game in the entirety of the Final Fantasy series could hope to hold a candle to the MAJESTY that is Final Fantasy VII. Alright, internet. Here’s your chance to prove me wrong. I got the game again. This time on Steam. I’m playing it. I won’t stop until it’s done. And if this thing doesn’t blow me out of the water, we are having words. And I’m not going to declare this whole thing moot before then, but I have played a while so far and I am less than impressed. I mean, I get the nostalgia factor. I get the technical WOW! factor with the cutscenes and music. But that’s not what people rave to me about, they say “Vry, the characters! Vry, the story!” and I’ve only just gotten to Junon but thus far the story is pretty simple: Help the terrorists win. Yea, there’s a lot more going on with Sephiroth and the Ancients, and the Planet, but that stuff has only been set up for what I assume is coming later. Right now, I’m helping the terrorists win. I’m blowing up buildings, cutting power to innocent civilians, and doing so in the name of the Planet. Also I’m cross dressing to save my friend from a fat slum lord pimp. (Is there any actual reason for the Don Corneo stuff beyond padding and some frighteningly inappropriate rape-y dialogue?)
However, if anything has been enlightening so far it’s that the characters are so very much NOT the characters the fandom and the movie portray. Cloud is not a brooding whiny emo, he’s a snarky jerk who delights in ticking Barrett off. Sephiroth is not the cold noble warrior, he’s psychotic and obsessed and not in the entertaining Kefka/Joker way. Aerith is not the kind gentle soul, she’s a cheerleader crossed with a purity sue. Wait. Didn’t I? Lemme scroll up. Huh. Looks like I remember the annoying flower girl correctly. I also didn’t remember Tifa being as ‘teenager with a crush’-y around Cloud. Barrett and Yuffie are one note characters that can’t be incorrectly portayed. And Red XIII (who is not named Nanaki in my game. His name is “NotNanaki”) hasn’t had a ton of dialogue so far so I have no clue. Far as I know, he’s Clifford in a weird crossover.
The gameplay is standard Final Fantasy fare. You can’t make me Oooo Aaaah at pretty summons. I accidentally killed a whole village of Summoners in Final Fantasy IV. This is old hat. Although the developers seemed a but full of themselves with this new fangled CGI animation stuff. Airbuster, one of the earliest bosses you face, has animations that are so slow that you can take three turns in the time it takes it to do one. Annoying.
And please, don’t jump on me because I’m being snarky. I’m gonna play the whole game. I’m going to think about the whole game. And I get that I’m barely into Disc One of a three disc game so I can’t expect the story to be leaping off the page yet. They are doing a great job at establishing a mystery with the whole Sephiroth and Jenova thing. The Ancients are wonderfully under-explained despite apparently everyone knowing what they are already. Though the biggest problem I have so far with the game is that I have NO clue what AVALANCHE stands for and I have no clue how they know without the text boxes when someone is referring to SOLDIER (All caps) or soldier (no caps) – one being a military organization and the other being well… a soldier. Can the characters read the text boxes in game? Is that how they know?
Vry is back with his semi-trustworthy buddy Jake Armitage to beat up some trick or treaters. Or something like that.
Oh geeze, what a crazy past two months. I moved, I went to Disney World (those who follow me on Twitter got treated a series of photos of Vry & his girlfriend wearing various hats), and then the insane holiday whose name is so feared it begins with the dread letter “X” (except not really. But X-mas is almost X-men, so that makes it the better spelling. WOLVERINE SAYS SO.) And of course the one year anniversary of the end of the world. Kind of crazy to think that the world was completely destroyed by the planet Nibiru and a simultaneous massive solar flare only a year ago. How time flies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, even when you don’t push the ‘T’ key. (That’s for you Fallout 3 fans)
As for gaming this year, I haven’t explored a ton of new ground I’m sad to say. Mostly exploring my two major MMOs (SWTOR and WoW), and then dabbling in a few indie titles and oldies like Game Dev Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. I suppose I did get my feet wet with some newer titles. Finally starting to explore more in Skyrim by going around from town to town and completing them instead of doing the main storyline. I finally got to play Bioshock Infinite late this year and absolutely loved it. That ending. Oh geeze. I might have to do another post at some point just gushing my love for that ending. Probably when Burial At Sea – Episode 2 comes out and I’ll just yak about the whole thing.
Of course the other big game that I tackled this year – and still working at it – would be Final Fantasy XIII. The always controversial title that I went from downright loathing to absolutely being absorbed into the mythology of. I really need to write more about it. I keep scolding myself for not keeping up with that. But I recently got a copy of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns on pre-order now. So I imagine you will be seeing more from that.
Finally in gaming news, my girlfriend and I have recently begun our own personal retrospective on the console games of the Zelda franchise. Starting with the original NES title and currently progressing through Ocarina of Time, I haven’t decided if I’ll share my thoughts on going back through these wonderful games. But hey, if people ask I definitely will.
In some good news for the future of this blog, I received for the holidays a BlackMagicDesign Intensity Pro HD/SD capture card. This little piece of shiny tech will let me capture video from any of my consoles instead of just stuff on my computer. Combine this with a new copy of some editing software, and a 1 terabyte hard drive and hopefully I’ll be able to start producing Let’s Play videos that I keep talking about soon. I actually have the stuff. Now I just need to do it.
Overall, I must admit that I’ve been stearing towards single player games more lately than my MMOs. Neither SWTOR or WoW seems to be keeping my attention for any long period of time at the moment. I have no desire to start from scratch in another MMO, and my Steam Library is now boiling over 100 titles at the moment. Perhaps it’s time to explore the rest of my library for a bit instead of sinking time into MMOs out of habit. I want to finish leveling up some professions, but honestly I can do that later. So you’ll probably being seeing less MMO posts and more “Adventures of Vry in Skyrim” or some other weirdness for a while. If you come here looking only for weird anecdotes or rants about only specifically MMO content… I’d say sorry but let’s be honest you’ve been disappointed for a loooong while.
And now for a quick run down of non-video gaming stuff I’ve done this year:
– D&D Next Playtest: Enjoyed it. Ran a Halloween adventure. Might post it. Still need to get used to the whole saves thing.
– Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: I’m a fairly recent convert to the show, but the special was nice. Only seemed to focus on the new show – bad. John Hurt got some awesome lines – good! Answered some questions and gave the show somewhere to go – Good! Pretty much undermined a ton of my favorite characterization bits – bad.
– Comic Books! Pretty much stopped reading them. Pretty much entirely Scott Lobdell’s fault.
– Cartoons: CARTOON NETWORK. STOP CANCELING SHIT I LOVE. DAMNIT.
– Anime: I just watch stuff on Netflix. But that’s been pretty fun! That’s about it. Really.
So here’s to 2014. One year away from Third Impact. Let’s make a fun one!
“We can’t call it ‘The Warlock Manual’! Think of the negative press! Think of the angry letters! Think of all the ticked off mages!”
“Well, how about we add some of that time travel stuff those dumb mages like, and call it ‘DoT training’ instead?”
“That’ll work. No book-burning angry protestor ever looks past the cover anyway.”