By dankempster 3 Comments
Hey guys. I had originally planned for this week's blog to be Episode Eight of Enduring Final Fantasy VII, but that plan has suffered a couple of minor setbacks. The first is Red Dead Redemption, which has managed to hold my attention so strongly over the last couple of weeks that it's managed to prevent me from playing anything else. As a result of that, I still haven't gotten round to finishing up to the planned point of ending for Episode Eight. Second, after last week's mammoth blog documenting my thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII, I figured that this blog would benefit from being a little shorter, and a little less JRPG-focused. With a lot of free time on my hands later today, tomorrow and Saturday, I'm still fairly confident that Episode Eight will see the light of day before the week is out. Instead, today I felt like writing a short blog documenting some of the treasures that I've recently unearthed, both gaming-related and not.
The first instance of unearthing an unexpected treasure is in the case of Red Dead Redemption itself. With over thirty-five hours invested into this game in the last two-and-a-half weeks, I think it's safe to say that the game has captivated me. I don't want to go into too much detail regarding the game itself here (I'd much rather save that for a future blog). Instead, I want to focus on one specific aspect of the game - the way it manages its collectibles, and in particular the Treasure Hunter ambient challenge. A stubborn remnant of the earliest platforming games, collectibles gave become a persistent thorn in the side of the modern gamer. Whether it's light seeds in Prince of Persia, flags in Assassin's Creed or pigeons in Grand Theft Auto IV, the modern collect-a-thon has become an unnecessary grind, and often a means of arbitrarily padding out a game's length. Red Dead Redemption's approach to its collectibles is comparatively refreshing, and I think it's because of one simple fact - the game tells you where they are. In the case of stranger tasks, outfit assembly, hunting and even flower-picking, this is done simply by referring you to the relevant region of the game's map in which the relevant items or tasks may be found. The Treasure Hunter ambient challenge goes one step further, though, providing the player with a series of sketched-out landmarks and rough instructions on where the buried treasure may be found in relation to their position. It's a really refreshing approach to collecting which relies on the player's knowledge of the game world, and feels a lot more rewarding than Just Cause 2's hand-holding "follow-the-blip" approach to collectibles. I for one applaud Rockstar San Diego for their attempts to breathe fresh life into this stale old concept.
The second instance of unearthing unexpected treasure is also game-related. This week, I've been clearing out my room in an attempt to get rid of anything I'd accumulated that was unnecessarily taking up space. As any of you who've ever indulged in a serious clear-out will no doubt be able to testify, it's an occasion that always brings something long forgotten back to your attention. In my case, it was a small cardboard box labelled "Game Boy Games". I opened it up and, sure enough, there were just short of a dozen Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games sitting in this box:
- Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
- Grand Theft Auto Advance
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit
- Pokemon Blue Version
- Pokemon Gold Version
- Pokemon Emerald Version
- Pokemon LeafGreen Version
- Spyro: Season of Ice
Unfortunately my Game Boy Advance was nowhere to be found, and I've since remembered that I had to throw it out after it ceased to work. At the time it was no big deal, as I still had a DS Lite. However, since that was stolen back in March last year, I had no means to play any of these recently re-discovered gems. My solution was to go out into town yesterday and buy myself a Game Boy Player from my local CeX store. For those of you not familiar with the Game Boy Player, it's a nifty piece of hardware that fits itself to a GameCube and allows you to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games on a TV. At £18, I'm very happy with the purchase. Hopefully I'll finally be able to get around to finishing A Link to the Past and The Minish Cap, two fantastic games that I never saw the end of.
My final piece of unearthed treasure isn't game-related, but it's possibly my favourite one. Along with my collection of Game Boy games, my clear-out also turned up a very old USB pen that I used to keep all my schoolwork on. Popping it into my laptop and browsing through some of the files revealed a veritable treasure trove of documents, full of creative writing from my school days. Some of the more interesting files lying dormant on that USB pen include early drafts of several chapters of my planned novel, several short stories from the same universe, and even a story outline and an entire bank of lyrics for a rock opera that my old band had planned to write and record. Given that I'm currently trying to rekindle my passion for creative writing, it's been a pretty awesome experience to rediscover some of my old work, as well as quite a shock to realise how prolific I was back then. There's so much written down here that it's a surprise I got any schoolwork done at all!
I think that covers just about everything I wanted to say. I would have liked to have given some E3 impressions, but to be frank I was left sorely disappointed by the Expo this year. I'm returning to my flat in Essex tomorrow, where hopefully a copy of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker will be waiting for me. In the meantime, I'm off to dig out the PSP and make some more progress with the next episode of Enduring Final Fantasy VII (assuming Red Dead Redemption doesn't convince me to do otherwise!). Thanks for reading guys. As always, I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Red Dead Redemption (X360)