Welcome, one and all (and especially you) to this, the second instalment in my 'A Little, More Often' series of blogs. I had planned to write this last weekend, but instead opted to hold off for an additional week so as to drum up some more material to write about. The decision seems to have paid off, as I've not only completed two games since the last blog, but I've also made significant progress in two lengthy RPGs, giving me a little bit more to blog about. I'll begin where I left off last time, with:
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
I finished Munch's Oddysee the morning after posting my last blog, powering through most of the game's final third in a single sitting. Pretty much everything I said about the game two weeks ago still stands - it was a joy to return to Oddworld and re-experience the series' unique approach to both gameplay and storytelling. The shift to three-dimensional graphics isn't the upgrade that it should have been, often proving to be quite the reverse in instances where precision control becomes an issue. Most of the fun I derived from the experience came from coming up with solutions to some of the puzzles, especially in situations where I was able to circumvent the designers' intentions with a little lateral thinking. I ended up wrapping up the game with very high quarma, failing to save only ten of the game's 300+ captive creatures and subsequently receiving the good ending. I'm not sure I'll ever return to this game in the Oddworld franchise, but playing through it has left me with a desire to return to Abe's Oddysee and see if I can earn myself the elusive good ending in that title, too. I also still have Stranger's Wrath left to play, so I'm sure one way or the other, I'll be revisiting Oddworld some time soon.
I actually played through this in one evening sitting, the same day that I beat Munch's Oddysee. Well, I say 'played'... Dear Esther isn't really a game, per se - it's more an interactive narrative, where exploration of the game's Hebridean island environment yields snippets of a fragmented letter to the eponymous Esther. I have to admit, I didn't find the story all that captivating - the language is poetic and impressive from a literary standpoint, but tends to give the impression that the game's writers were trying a little too hard. Similarly, the narrative is ambiguous and open to a degree of player interpretation, but its fragmented, piecemeal delivery prevented any of it from really sticking with me long after my playthrough was over. What really entranced me about Dear Esther was the gameworld itself. The rugged, mountainous terrain and spectacular underground caverns that played host to my journey were both impressive in their scope and striking in their detail. It's an environment that I won't soon forget, even if the game itself isn't destined to stay with me for long.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
After seeing the end of two games in the space of less than twenty-four hours, I wasn't sure where to redirect my gaming attention. A few days' deliberation brought me back to this old favourite. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was pretty much the defining game of my 2004 - a good friend bought the game at the same time as me, and we spent countless hours at weekends sitting on our doorsteps with our GBAs in hand, trading items and swapping strategies between our clans. But while he made it to the end of the game's story missions, I ended up distracted by other games and only got about halfway through. Eight years on, that's something I'm trying to put right. I've put an incredible twenty hours into the game in just under a week, taking Clan Gaslight (named after my current musical obsession) through forty missions and around a quarter of the way through the story. It's been a long time since I last played a strategy RPG, so FFTA's slightly simpler mechanics and lower difficulty threshold make it an ideal re-introduction to the genre for me. The handheld, pick-up-and-play nature of the game is also an advantage, so I've been taking my DS to work and powering through a few battles in my lunch breaks. Realistically, FFTA is going to keep me occupied for a good month or so, and I'm looking forward to stacking a lot more hours on top of those initial twenty.
That's Yer Lot
And so the second 'episode' of this little blog series draws to a close. Just so you know, I don't plan on making this format shift a permanent thing. It's just an attempt to rejuvenate my interest in writing at length about video games (and writing in general), and once I've rekindled that flame I plan to return to my old, one-game-in-depth-at-a-time approach. If I should write another one of these in a couple of weeks' time, expect it to contain more thoughts on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, revisited impressions of Persona 4 from both myself and my sister, and most likely a recap of some shorter, more action-oriented game that I'll likely pick up soon. Ever-patient readers of 'Enduring Final Fantasy VII' will be pleased to know that the series will be making its thirtieth-episode comeback this month, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, thanks for reading and I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)