Let’s Play Persona 3 FES – Update Blog 2

I’ve been playing through Persona 3 FES on Youtube for the last couple of months now in a Let’s Play format, not too different to Giant Bomb’s Endurance Run of the fourth game in the series. A little while back I put up a blog on Giant Bomb regarding my thoughts of the game in relation to Persona 4 at the 25 hour point, and my opinions on what should happen with the franchise in future instalments from what I’d observed.

You can see the original blog here.

And my videos here

  

                                                                                   Part one of what will probably become (and already is) many, many videos... :/ 

I’m now 40 hours into the game, mid-way through August, and feel like it’d be a cool idea to at least post an update every now and then as I progress through the game, just to put my thoughts into words and so I have something to look back on once I finish all of this up, whenever that may be. Again, I don’t think I’ll be posting these with too much structure – I just want to jot down a few points on anything that I may have missed in my previous blog or any thoughts that may have changed in the fifteen hours since then.

I started my previous blog off focussing on the story of Persona 3, and I’m glad to say that I’ve finally reached the point where the story is picking up a bit. New parties are being introduced, although every time one question is solved another one seems to sprout up in its place to keep you thinking. It’s all very interesting, but there’s still one problem – the delivery. Since the Persona games see you going through a year of high school a lot of plot points are drawn out over a month or so in game time, so it can feel frustrating when some of the characters are fixating on one particular thing in the storyline for weeks on end without actually doing anything to answer your questions about it. Persona 4 did well to fix this problem by eliminating the last couple of months of your school year after December and squeezing a lot more narrative into the remaining months. I’m hoping that Persona 5 does something similar or at least throws in a red herring or something when shit slows down.

My thoughts on the combat may have changed a bit now, but I think a lot of that may stem from particular party characters whose AI probably wasn’t done quite as well as everyone else’s. I fully understand now when people complain about Mitsuru’s obsession with casting Marin Karin – occasionally it’ll work to charm an enemy and shut me up, but even in those situations it’s barely ever as useful as Mabufu or Bufula. While I’m fairly certain that Persona 5 won’t go back to using team tactics alone, some better AI in some situations would have made it a lot more appealing as an option I think.

The analysis system is still something I like better than Persona 4’s system; the only way I think it would be improved would be to use the Persona 4 system for Tartarus boss fights at least, filling in each of the elements on the weakness chart gradually so that your team mates knew to stop using a certain spell type after it didn’t do well the first time. Akihiko using Mazio against a trio of Hulk Hogans when it was only doing 10 points of damage each time to their 400 hit point life bar was a little annoying.

I’m up to the eighty-something-eth floor of Tartarus right now, and while the design may feel a bit tiring at some points I think I’ll have to wait a while before I see to what extent it affects me. It lacks a lot of the personal flavour that the P4 dungeons had, for sure, but I wouldn’t say I’m sick of it entirely… yet. The slight changes in music from block to block are fine with me right now too. Will wait and see how my thoughts on all of this change I suppose. :P

I talked about how I liked the fatigue system last time for drawing out your month’s grinding a bit more over the month, but another reason I’m starting to enjoy it in Persona 3 is the fact that it encourages you to start grinding with your entire party instead of just picking three dudes to plow through the entire game with. Some of the boss encounters even force you to bring a certain character or two into battle with you so you’ll need to come prepared for any situation. I realise sometimes people prefer staying with one party throughout the game because they warm up to those characters, but the Persona games do a lot of their character development outside of dungeon crawling so it’s not as if you’ll be missing out on much by sitting Junpei out for a grinding session or two.

Fusion spells are something I’d definitely like to see return in future Persona games… the fact that they were taken out of Persona 4 was a real shame. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, basically if you have two specific Personas in your possession you’ll be able to use a special skill with them for a certain portion of your total SP. I’ve laid witness to four different types so far (although Cadenza was by far the most useful of them all considering when it first became available) but some new ones in the fifth Persona instalment would be nice. 

Boss fights in the game are quite different to how they were in Persona 4, whether they be within Tartarus or as part of a Full Moon event. While Persona 4 boss fights felt like an endurance run in of themselves, in Persona 3 it never really feels like the end is too far out of reach. The catch is that bosses still deal out a good deal of damage and there’s often a lot of luck involved in getting through a battle since it really depends on what attack the enemy AI randomly picks. If your boss picks power charge, you better heal to max, put out a persona with high endurance and maybe an endurance boost like Rakukaja and hope to dear god the enemy doesn’t get lucky with critical hits or something stupid. Despite my bad luck with some Full Moon bosses I’d say that it's probably the Tartarus boss fights that have given me the most trouble thus far, particularly those which come in threes and have an uncanny ability to use high powered attacks targeting my entire party over and over before I can heal.

Social Links… if there’s one thing that I like about them which is pretty ironic considering the nature of the rest of the game, it’s how upbeat and different each of them are, and how I actually look forward to hanging out with pretty much everyone unless they go on too much about their hots for teacher. There’s a few social links that get mopey from time to time, but compared to the number of those awkward social links in Persona 4 it’s really refreshing. Did I mention you can hang out with Tanaka? Or someone in an MMORPG? Well, I guess most people who read this will have already played Persona 3 but hey, I felt like shouting that out to someone.

The characters on your party themselves, I’ll admit, probably don’t have the same charm as those in Persona 4. The only one that really exists on the same level as my old standbys Chie, Yosuke and Kanji is Junpei; otherwise the only characters I’ve started liking all that much are because of their gimmicks. Outside of those, Yukari is okay but I feel that’s only because she’s always at odds with Junpei. Akihiko is timid on the inside but boring otherwise, Mitsuru’s a bitch but also bland and Fuuka’s just annoying. Forgive me for my exaggeration here as these characters are still better than the ones you’ll find in most games, but for the standards the Persona series has set for me they’re definitely average.

That’s all I have for today. Again, I apologise for the long blog. If it’s too long for you, I’ll basically just say that I’m enjoying Persona 3 quite a bit in spite of some flaws. Check out my videos if you want to know to what extent that enjoyment is or something. Otherwise I’ll be back in another few weeks or a month or something with another blog to update when I feel like it. Thanks for reading. :) 

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Persona 3, 4, 5...

Okay, I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't Giantbomb who got me into the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises. I remember early last year, coming back to the site one day and seeing parts 1, 2 and 3 of something called an "Endurance Run" in the videos section, mixed in with all of the video reviews and quick looks I wanted to go through. Didn't take long before I was hooked, and soon enough I'd go out and finally purchase my own PS2 after all those years along with Persona 4 and Persona 3: FES.
 
I've been a fan of Pokemon for a while now, so seeing the similarities between that and the battle/fusion systems of Persona certainly had me intrigued. While those aspects would contribute to the overall greatness of the games though, they definitely weren't the selling point. Unlike Pokemon, both Persona 3 and 4 had some really deep stories and well developed characters. Take Yosuke -- he could be a bit of a homophobe and a dick at times, those were his flaws, but you still loved him regardless.
 

I finished my own file of Persona 4 after 73 hours, most of the Social Links maxed (at very least, the ones I didn't see Vinny and Jeff complete). While the ending may have become a little convoluted with the way it tried to wrap up all loose ends and its explanations for some characters' motives, it was still a great journey overall so I can say I’m pretty bummed out now that it’s over and I won’t be seeing some characters again. While Persona 3 FES wouldn’t have the same characters I had bonded with so well, there was no way to know what I was missing out on if I didn’t try. A lot of people had said it was a bit harder going back from Persona 4 to Persona 3 due to some game mechanics, but it was the only way I was going to get any more of the same social linking and fusion formula I wished for so very much.
 
So right now I’m about 25 hours or so of the way through P3. Probably would have finished the game by now if it wasn’t for the fact I was doing a Let’s Play of it (oh look, he’s pulling the blatant advertisement trick now, huh?)
 

                                                            Heyo. Okay, okay I'm no Vinny/Jeff combo, but hey. Be nice if you're going to comment. :P


As I play through it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the game and Persona 4, but funnily enough not everything in Persona 4 has actually been done better (at least not in my opinion). There’s a few mechanics in the game that I’m liking quite a lot and that I’m hoping the developers think hard about when designing Persona 5 so that they can take the best of both worlds. Take a deep breath [deep breath… deep breath… deep breath] – going to quickly outline the mechanics below that stuck out to me and which game handled them better.

Narrative in Persona 3. There’s a tower that appears each night at midnight. You and a few schoolmates have to climb it and destroy shadows. There’s actually a whole lot more to what’s going on and I can sort of glean from a distance that Persona 3’s plot is more than meets the eye, but the game does a really bad job of actually throwing you a bone about what’s really going on during the first few acts. There are members of my party who clearly know the situation better than I do, but they’re not telling me anything. Compare this to Persona 4 where there were plot developments all the time – even if they ended up as red herrings, at least it felt like things were moving. So in this sense it feels like the stories of the games are polar opposites – P3’s starting out weak and getting better later on in the story, while Persona 4’s climax ends up becoming what I felt was almost a little jarring.

Combat is different. You don’t get to control your teammates, you issue tactics to them instead. Le gasp. The thing here is, while a lot of players have suggested that this is one of the tough parts of going back to P3, I actually can’t decide what system I prefer. It’s definitely tougher, for one, but the AI doesn’t really mess up often enough to make it feel clumsy. There’s something I like though about seeing teammates react to the situation on their own and act accordingly, as if it makes them feel more lifelike as a character. Actually feel like patting Akihiko on the back when he makes a good decision in battle that gets my team the advantage.

Another aspect, although minor that I felt shouldn’t have been removed in Persona 4 was P3’s analysis system. While Teddie will ask you to “try stuff out and see what works”, in P3 tapping L1 will mean waiting a turn or two for your guide to get back to you with a full analysis of all your enemy’s weaknesses and sometimes their moves too. Only situation it was poor for was Tartarus boss fights, where the game would keep the enemy’s weaknesses a secret but you couldn’t even check up on them if you had forgotten what knocked them down before.

The full moon system of Persona 3 is a hell of a lot better than waiting for a couple of rainy days in a row with Persona 4, have to say that now. You’ll always have a counter in the top right corner ticking down until your encounter with the big boss of the month, so there’s no excuses if you don’t get your training in. Grinding is also something which seemed to have been handled better in Persona 3 – once one of your team members get tired, it’s probably time to call it quits for the day else face the consequences. This system means that you have to draw grinding out over the course of a month instead of just doing it all in one big go as soon as the next floors of the dungeon open. I can’t speak for everyone’s Persona 4 experiences, but there was something tiring about doing all of my grinding and a boss fight within one day in the game before having a month or more of social linking and nothing else. Just didn’t feel balanced enough.

Music is done by Shoji Meguro again, but instead of being mostly J-Pop with bits of rock here and there for boss fights, Persona 3 offers a weird blend of rap, hip-hop, rock and pop (altogether with weird engrish vocals). Funny thing is, while it doesn’t appeal to everyone, it’s brilliantly unique and I guess I’m lucky to be one of those players who were completely hooked by the game’s tunes after just a few hours.

First time I heard Mass Destruction? “The fuck is this?”

A month or two later when I hear it? “BABEH BABEH BABEH BABEH BABEH B-BABEH…”


 

 

 Social Links have a lot more consequences which means you can’t just do what you want and expect to get away with it (although there is a way to date all girls if you know how). I think the game has some problems in hiding a lot of its tricks behind a curtain here – if you want to max out all social links, you’ll probably need to plan things out with a FAQ and follow a strict timetable. Want to date all girls? Sure, fine, just remember that you need to hang out with a girl at least once every 60 days and each time you hang out with another date-able girl that timer will reduce by 15 days. The game doesn’t tell you any of that shit though, so while I’m happy they made things easier in P4, it’s a bit of a shame that they pretty much got rid of consequences altogether in that game

Navigation of the world and user interface. Here is the one part of Persona 3 that I would be closest to saying I “hate”. It’s not that bad, but it’s definitely something you notice when you jump between the two games. The one big thing – there’s no magic square button. You can sometimes use the help of a student in your classroom to warp you out to the main map, but otherwise navigating the world quickly is often a pain. Equipping items and stuff to your team mates is also really dumb – you’ll have to consult each of them within Tartarus and do stuff from their own separate menu instead of switching stuff around in your own menu after hitting the triangle button. Thank god Persona 4 fixed this.

Fusing new Personas is still fiddly (a bit more so than Persona 4 at times but not too much) but the main thing that stands out is not being able to see what a certain skill actually does until you have that Persona out on the field in battle. That part is really unfortunate, almost makes me want to start writing down a whole list of skills on a piece of paper with their properties. Again, glad Atlus fixed this.

That just about sums up my thoughts on the game so far. (Yeah yeah, long blog is long, tldr, whatever) I might blog again when I finally finish it or something, but otherwise just wanted to sit down and think about these things ahead of Persona 5’s proper announcement, whenever that may be. While arguably the only thing that matters for that game is good characters, writing and story (and Chie, I guess… if you really want to say that) there are definitely a lot of things which could be pulled from both Persona 3 and 4 to make the RPG experience all the better.

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Holiday Blog: The Secret of Monkey Island

It’s pretty hard to sum up my Summer thus far (yes, Summer) in one blog. Well, to be honest, I tried in a few different ways but it just wasn’t to be. As a result of finishing school and being done with study at last, I have way too much time on my hands and a bunch of games to go through. To say it’s been overwhelming would be an understatement, but either way the truth of the matter is that I wouldn’t be able to fit everything I’ve been playing into one digestible blog post if I tried. No short summaries of everything that’s been going on since I’ll skip over too many things of note - instead, I’ll try and pick one game at a time to post about and see if that works.

Now, being an ex-schoolie who hasn’t bothered to go out and find himself a job, I’m naturally a bit poor at the moment. The blockbusters of the year are a bit outside my price range, particularly at the Australian rates. So I’ve skipped over Dragon Age, Modern Warfare, Uncharted and the like for now, instead opting for a few cheaper titles, either old, second-hand games or titles from Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade service. The first of these titles? The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

 The new graphics of the Special Edition aren't top notch, but they retain a very stylised look.

It only took me twenty odd years, but I think I’ve come to the realisation at last that it's a pretty damn good game. It’s short – I picked it up last Friday (read: Christmas night after receiving some Microsoft Points) and finished it Sunday morning with roughly seven hours on my game’s clock. Then I went through again in a speedrun to pick up the remaining gamerscore for the title while exploring a few of the alternate dialogue options.

The game’s writing is still amazing today, and I’m sure it still will be when I pull the game out again in another ten years’ time. It’s really the definition of a classic, the way the humour of the script is so timeless and can transcend cultures almost twenty years apart. The game is littered with breaking of the fourth wall, tongue in cheek innuendo and other various laugh-out-loud moments which fill it with a really unique charm. Often a common concept or icon will be twisted around in some bizarre way, which in most cases led me to first ogle at the screen in bewilderment before choking up in laughter. Take sword fighting with native pirates, for example. In any other game, the focus would be on performing that string of successive slashes against your adversary. In Monkey Island, it’s all about what happens between each blow that decides who wins. When your foe shouts “You fight like a dairy farmer!” in your face, a quick response of “How appropriate! You fight like a cow!” will catch him off guard and swing the battle in your favour. It’s moments like these that you just have to tip your hat to the developers of the game at the ingenuity of the events within.

 This is what happens when you enter a swordfight without the right comebacks on hand.

The Special Edition of Monkey Island on the Xbox Live Arcade offers a few new additions to the game which help to smooth the overall experience today. The game comes with fully updated graphics for those who can’t stand the look of the pixelated original, but allows you to switch between the classic and updated graphics at will by pressing the back button on your controller. I personally stuck with the classic visuals for the majority of my adventure since I became used to the menus faster and just felt that the old graphics had a certain charm that suited the rest of the game better. The seamlessness of the switching between the two different visual styles became useful in some cases where it was hard to see some of the objects in the background, though.

Another new addition I was thankful for in the Special Edition was the inclusion of a considerate hint system preventing me from spoiling myself with an online walkthrough in a couple of situations when I became a little confused with what to do. Holding X in the Special Edition will give the player a short and vague hint of what to do, first to gently nudge the player in the right direction before giving them more detailed directions if necessary with subsequent presses of the button. It’s a simple yet really nice feature that avoids outright spoiling the solutions to the challenges you come across during the game, and I’m grateful for that.

The music, I’ll admit, is fantastic. While the redone tunes for the Special Edition were sometimes smoother sounding on the ears, I didn’t really mind listening to either version’s music – the real appeal came from the infectiously catchy melodies themselves. Whether it be the title screen’s tune, or LeChuck’s theme or the tune of the Scumm Bar, I found it incredibly hard not to hum along with the music as I played. I felt the voice work of the Special Edition occasionally didn’t really fit the characters, but this was easily rectified by switching to the classic text-only version so it wasn’t too much of a worry.

I’ll try not to go into any more specifics on so to avoid spoiling the game for anyone else who has yet to play through it. All I’ll say is that even if you’re like me and have gone this long without having experienced the game, this is a true classic that everyone should at least try out at one point or another.

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Metroid Prime, a Flashback

Last week, having finished off Super Metroid at last, I decided to pull out my disc for Metroid Prime and give it a spin. Prime had been one of my favourite games for quite some time, and soon it became clear that nothing much had changed in that respect as I powered my way through the game to complete it 100% in just a couple of days. Exciting, thrilling and wonderfully immersive are some words that come to mind, but they don’t even begin to describe the fun I have when playing this game today.

 While many fans of the Metroid series prior to Prime may have worried at the prospect of a first person shooter ruining a well-established favourite franchise, I had no such concerns. My first experiences with Samus had come with Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo 64, so Prime just looked like another awesome shooter with some exploration elements. Upon picking it up for myself, I found something much, much deeper – a game which catered to both my urges of wanting to survey every last nook and cranny of a vast-yet-barren alien planet, as well as my need to blast creepy foreign creatures into oblivion. While I run the risk of sounding cliché, Metroid Prime really was one of those games I struggled to put down which left me salivating for more even after all baddies had been blasted and all the upgrades collected.

 After the success of Metroid Prime, some key members of Retro Studios moved on to pursue careers with other companies. While this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in the industry, it became clear to me after playing through the second and third installments of the trilogy that there was something missing. Prime 2 and 3 remained great games as both first person shooters and explorative adventures, but there just wasn’t the same amount of care put into crafting them which caused a trilogy that had initiated with a big bang to slowly fizzle out later on. When I realised the two sequels lacked the same punch as the original, I was able to reflect on just what had given Prime its soul, made it such a fantastic experience and allowed it to stand above other shooter and adventure games on the market at the time.

 A gripping introduction was the first part of Prime that made it so memorable, and was something I felt the sequels fell just short of. Introductions can be tough to get right in action games, as there needs to be just the right mix of simple tutorials to get the player comfortable with the controls as well as action to keep them interested. In Prime, this entailed the exploration of a defunct Space Pirate ship, partially destroyed by an onboard experiment gone wrong. As a player, I found myself really intrigued as I trekked through the eerie ship to discover just what had occurred, the weakened enemies and rubble aboard the ship serving as an excellent masked tutorial to get me used to the gameplay.

 The introduction of Echoes, while keeping the same sort of spooky and isolated feel, didn’t manage to capture the same level of excitement as the original. Prime 3, on the other hand, didn’t mask its tutorials quite as well and forfeited the signature isolated feel of the Metroid franchise for the entire introduction by placing you onboard a Federation Gunship in the presence of other humans and bounty hunters. To its credit Prime 3 was the only game of the trilogy which didn’t strip you of your weaponry after completing the introduction, but otherwise neither Prime 2 nor Prime 3 felt like they had quite as strong introductions as the first.

 The combat in Metroid Prime is simply superb. The weapons are all very balanced in their use throughout the game and nicely varied with the effects they have on enemies and the environment. While finding a new beam weapon can be exciting due to it unlocking new areas of the game to explore, each successive weapon will make you feel much stronger than before and the effects they can have on previously-difficult enemies will make you feel unstoppable. Sheegoths, as an example, are formidable foes which can take a few charged shots and/or missiles to defeat after finding their weakpoint, but return to them with the plasma beam and you’ll be able to disintegrate them into thin air with a single charge shot. While their actual uses may be limited, all of the additional beam-combos are really neat additions that provide some nice extra options during combat, dispatching enemies quickly and looking awesome at the same time.

 All of these factors come together to provide a really strong shooting experience which took my preference over the later two Prime games mainly because of the variety of options available to the player when fighting your foes. Prime 2’s beam weapons felt a little generic and not so ground breaking or special, whereas Prime 3 got rid of most weapon options in favour of a simple, all-in-one stacked beam and combat that usually just consisted of entering a phazon-infused hypermode whose novelty wore off too soon. While the main focus of Prime was to retain the explorative gameplay of its 2D predecessors, its combat was an integral component of the overall experience which remained exciting and fun throughout the entire game.

 Exploring the world of Prime wouldn’t be so fun if the game was devoid of good environments, and it’s clear that this was something the designers sought to get right from the very beginning. Prime has your typical ice world and lava world, as well as jungle ruins, an underwater wreck, underground mines and a secret laboratory for you to explore. They’re all very fascinating locales, but what really stood out for me was how the designers were able to intertwine the right amount of natural beauty from the planet of Tallon IV as well as all of the intriguing pirate and Chozo technology housed upon the planet when creating these environments. All of Tallon IV’s inhabitants, whether they be friendly or foes, worked together to give the environment a life of its own, a sort of soul which felt alien yet believable at the same time. The game’s world was so wonderfully immersive it was incredibly easy to pass up the option of quitting at each save point, just because of the level of intrigue you had as a player in not knowing exactly what you might discover lying hidden in the next room.

 The music of Prime lent itself largely to this feeling of immersion also. Not because the tracks were fantastic stand alone tunes you could remember and hum to yourself ten years later, but because they managed to fit the environments they were assigned to and really help in setting the overall mood of the area you were exploring. I can’t recommend Prime’s entire soundtrack to everybody as quality listening material for the iPod on its own, but in the context of the game itself the music was perfect. I’m unsure if I can put my finger on why exactly I feel the music worked so well, but a theory I have pertains to the way the soundtrack sounded so foreign and alien-like. There were all sorts of sound effects and instruments used in the background of each track that I just hadn’t heard used in that sort of way before, but it worked because I was so heavily convinced that it just fitted the atmosphere of Tallon IV.
 
  

 

 

 I could go on for hours in my praise for Prime as a whole, but there’d be little point when I could be spending that time reliving my time on Tallon IV. If this blog were to have any one purpose, however, it would be to encourage everyone out there to grab Metroid Prime, pop the disc in and play. Whether they be returning to the world of Prime again or whether it be a brand new thing, Prime is one of those gaming experiences of this decade, nay, all time which should not be overlooked.

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Going back in time

It's not uncommon for me, especially knowing how rarely I'm actually able to purchase new games, to go back to old titles and play them through again. If the game is a favourite, I might play it over a dozen times and get half decent at it, like with Banjo-Kazooie or with Donkey Kong Country. Other times I just try to see whether a great game holds up after my initial hype for it has settled. I hope to play through games like Bioshock and Resident Evil 4 again in this manner later to see whether they have held up for me, but this particular time I wanted to go back to another critically acclaimed game that many may see as the best of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time holds quite a few memories for me. I myself didn't get an N64 for a long time after it was released, but I did get to see OoT at the time it was released. It was one of my first game experiences, and was really mesmerising and yet at the time I did not feel worthy of playing it myself - it was enough to sit back in awe watching someone else grasp the controls and explore its vast lands. One of these situations would be in a shopping centre behind an older boy who seemed reluctant to give up the controller to anyone. I didn't mind, even if he had lost himself in the Deku Tree and didn't seem very good at games at all. The other occasion I got to see a bit more of the game, and was at a local holiday care centre since both my parents worked full time. I remember watching older kids of about eleven or twelve riding around Hyrule on Epona; I remember a really awesome looking boss fight with Twinrova in the Spirit Temple, and I remember the older kids sighing after the caretakers forced the controller on me during the Ganondorf fight since nobody was getting a fair turn. I didn't want to play, watching was fine. It was just one of those games that had that sort of effect on you.

I didn't play through the game myself until the rerelease on the Gamecube in 2003 packaged alongside Windwaker. Despite the graphics and some of the controls and gameplay mechanics being a little dated, it still played brilliantly and hooked me from beginning to end. There was a tonne of stuff to do in sidequests too, and while I completed a few of these, a lot of them went unfinished as I got distracted with playing newer titles from that year. I could never really conceive any true feelings for the game after giving it up prematurely - while it remained a favourite I never thought of it as highly as some of my other top games. It was a fantastic game, yes, but when others brought it up as the best game ever there was this strange sense of doubt in the back of my mind that I couldn't shake. I needed to play it again with a fresh mind to know exactly what I thought of it.

Let's jump back to the present again now, enough of this remeniscing bullshit. I've just beaten the Spirit Temple again and I'm trying to go back and collect the heart pieces and skultulas that I missed before, finish the sidequests I neglected. Truth be told, I'm having a blast, and while I'm shamed to admit I haven't played enough of the Zelda games as I should have, this is my favourite by far. But then, if I take away my perception of favourite games and try and look at this objectively, it's easy to see now why so many would consider this a contender for best game of all time. Ocarina of Time has been crafted really well, and if you're able to look past a crude exterior in terms of appearance and controls today, if you take a chance to not be so shallow, you'll see that everything here has held up really well. Not only that, but it's shaped a lot of the other titles developed today with its puzzles and mechanics, which at the time were a real leap.

While it's not a top favourite for everyone, I think it's really hard to hate Ocarina of Time completely unless you're unable to appreciate classics in general or can't appreciate multiple genres. I have talked to a couple who seem to have liked Majora's Mask and despised OoT due to the lack of sidequests and things to do outside of the main story, which is a bit confusing. The game had a really powerful and gripping storyline, and the sidequests were really just afterthoughts which added to the overall experience, so if you're looking for sidequests alone then this probably isn't the right genre for you at all. But hey, I guess every game has to have a few haters, you can never please everyone.

I guess, in the end, it's games and experiences like these that make you realise how influential Shigeru Miyamoto has been on the industry over the past three decades, and perhaps wonder what things are going to be like when he finally stops making them, whether that be from retirement (yeah, right) or finally passing on. Sure, there's a lot of good designers out there able to make some top quality games, but I doubt we'll ever uncover another personality that comes close to Mr Miyamoto, at least, not any time soon.

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