Adventures in JRPGing

Over the past month or so I've found myself getting back into something I had pretty much dismissed a year ago: JRPGs. Excited by all of the news regarding Persona 4: Golden, and having spent hours reading through various fantasy structures on TVtropes, I felt a need for a long, epic journey. My answer was Final Fantasy Tactics.

For a little bit of history, I first bought Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP about four years ago. I got a few levels in before decided it was not my thing. In the beginning of the game, the combat is very limited--characters can do little but use potions and normal attacks--and trying to get a correct camera angle through the 3d environments can be kind of infuriating, especially on the PSP. Flash forward to last year, when FFT was put on the App store. I bought it, tried playing again, and got the same result.

However, last month, in my gaming drought, I found myself able to push through the game's slow beginning and complex systems. What I found was a game that, while not entirely my strategical cup of tea, managed to keep me entertained for a good 40 hours or so.

By my "strategical cup of tea" I'm referring to Fire Emblem. I adore that series, and believe it to be the absolute pinnacle of turn based strategy. It seems that turn based strategy RPG fans actually split between FFT and FE, and for good reason: pretty much every possible design decision made is different. Tactics uses much smaller maps, and each battle has about a third of the characters in a FE chapter. Tactics uses an open world, whereas the vast majority of Fire Emblem games are completely linear. Turns in Tactics are based on character speed and a CT gauge; Fire Emblem just has player and enemy go turn by turn. Characters in Fire Emblem have very well-defined roles, while any non-monster character in Tactics can change their job at any time outside of combat. Characters in Fire Emblem can do little but use the weapons they have on their person, while Tactics characters have a wide variety of usable skills and spells. Fire Emblem is in 2d, while Tactics is in 3d (kind of). I think you get the picture.

Ramza is a pretty good JRPG protagonist. Even though he speaks more than most of my favorites, he's well-written and isn't whiny.

As a result of these differences, Fire Emblem plays a lot like a game of chess, while Tactics plays more like a traditional Final Fantasy game, just with a little more emphasis on movement. The increased difficulty and punishing death in Fire Emblem actually reminds me of Super Meat Boy--both are games that are seemingly very simple, yet very punishing while still remaining fair (except Fog of War, enemy critical hits, and when reinforcements come at the start of an enemy's turn. Ugh). In both series, you know every tool you have, and all of your obstacles--the difficulty comes from finesse, either mental or physical.

Tactics, on the other hand--while still difficult--gets its difficulty from asking the player to grind. Perhaps the added complication in turn order and movement stopped me from really thinking about what I was doing in each turn and how the enemy would react, but I can't think of any neat strategic maneuver I pulled while playing Tactics, aside from a few XP and boss exploits. The game's endgame was also completely ruined by the completely overpowered Arithmetician job, which basically allows you to use the most powerful spells in the game on all enemies (regardless of range), without casting time or mana use. Another problem I had was just how faceless most of the characters were. Even story characters had little personality or story relevance after their recruitment, aside from Ramza. They're very different series, and while I don't think either is better than the other, I personally prefer Fire Emblem.

I've been playing a bit of FE6, too. I like it (it's Fire Emblem), but it's probably the most difficult Fire Emblem game I've played, and the maps could use more variation.

One thing I really did enjoy in Tactics was the setting. Although the story was at times a bit too convoluted, the dark world of Ivalice is perhaps one of the best Square has created. From the Shakespearean language to characters with a practical sense of style to the world's constant throat-cutting and treachery, I really enjoyed my time in Ivalice. It was this realization, as well as Balthier's rather awesome cameo character that made me give Final Fantasy XII another try. I had played maybe an hour of it a few years ago before deciding against the combat's simplicity and actually selling the game. I bought it again, and, after playing the game for another hour, I can say that was a huge mistake.

My problem wasn't the combat this time, which hadn't come close to opening up enough for me to judge it. My problems this time were pretty much everything else; the graphics, the camera...and Vaan. While technically a very good looking game, FFXII lies in that weird JRPG voice-acting funk so popular nowadays. I'm actually fine when Persona 3 or 4 don't have any voice acting because I'm given a big icon of a character to look at--its supposed to emulate manga and anime. However, when given more realistic models and film-like camera angles, it's pretty ridiculous when a game doesn't have full voice acting. When I see a character moving its mouth, and words only come out part of the time, it's just distracting. FFXII also nestles itself firmly into the uncanny valley, which, yet again, I just can't stand.

Also, the camera is inverted and you can't change it. While it's an issue I'm sure we're past now, it doesn't make it any less inexcusable.

Oh, and, after the small intro mission, you are put into an incredibly boring situation without any present threat. Your first quest is killing rats, then you do a fetch quest, then you go out into a different area to hunt a mob. While I'm fine with mmo-esque combat, (conceptually, FFXII's combat isn't far off from KotOR or Dragon Age) single player design should not have MMO-quests.

I hate Vaan. So much.

And Vaan is perhaps the worst protagonist I've ever seen. He's whiny, awfully designed (put on a shirt you anorexic rat-face), and pretty much follows every single possible awful anime cliche ever (has platonic friend that is a girl who wears ridiculously skimpy clothing, opposes authority, hotheaded, stubborn, too young to be saving the world, has no parents). The thought of putting up with him for another 50 hours is just unbearable.

All of this is pretty unfortunate, too. From what I've heard, characters like Basch, Balthier, and Ashe are actually some of the series' best. Originally, FFXII was meant to be centered entirely on Basch, but, in fear of twelve year olds not liking a protagonist over 18 that wasn't androgynous, Square threw in Vaan.

After watching some of the Persona 4 anime (which is actually pretty well done), I felt a strong desire to go back into that series. But I didn't want to play through Persona 4 again, because then I'd just miss all the Golden content I keep hearing about. And I didn't want to play through P3 because then I'd just want all the P3P content (like direct party control), and I didn't want to buy P3P because then I'd have to play it on my PSP, and I don't like touching that thing.

So, I decided to try out some of the FES part of Persona 3: FES, which pretty much strips away everything that makes Persona stand out (social links, time management, choosing dialogue options). It's what I expected, but the AI controlled party members can be very stupid at times (Metis straight-up refuses to use wind spells on the boss that is weak to it, instead opting to attack its neutral minions). Like FFXII, I doubt I'll play more.

Although my faith in JRPGs was somewhat revitalized by FFT, FFXII took that faith and strangled it. Still, I find myself needing to defeat some big, ancient evil while leveling up characters and occasionally fighting goofy sub-bosses, so I'm going to keep looking for a good JRPG. I think I'll try to beat Dragon Quest VIII, or maybe play some more Xenogears...

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Mass Effect 3 Wishlist

  As most of you reading this know, I beat Mass Effect 2, and I really, really liked it. However, it did still have some problems, or just some things that could've been improved with in Mass Effect 3. These problems may have been present in Mass Effect 1, or may have just emerged with the new updates Mass Effect 2 threw onto the table.  
Note: this blog will contain minimal spoilers for the overall Mass Effect 2 story, but will have some key information about Tali's and the rest of the Quarian storyline, as well as spill the beans on some of the characters obtained in Mass Effect 2. In other words: you'll probably be fine reading it if you haven't beaten the game. However, you're probably better off not reading it and doing something productive instead either way. 
 

More Weapons

One of the most surprising changes I noticed in Mass Effect 2 was the drastic reduction in weapon count. While I do vastly prefer Mass Effect 2's weapon customization, I was still stuck with my starting SMG twenty-five hours into the game. While the variations between the weapons were definitely needed (burst or fully automatic assault rifle/SMG, bolt-action/semi-auto sniper rifle), Mass Effect 3 needs a little bit more weapon variation. 

More Crew Conversations

 While the volume of character dialogue in Mass Effect 2 is much greater than the original's I felt that it wasn't structured all that well. In the original Mass Effect, I knew that after I completed a main story mission, I could go down and Garrus would have something new to say. In Mass Effect 2, I would find myself running all throughout the Normandy, talking to everyone, but only having two or three of my 11-strong squad having anything new to say. I'm not saying that I want everyone to have something a new monologue to say every time I do a 45-minute quest, I'm just saying that they could maybe have some comment about the last mission I did. 

No Technical Issues. At All

 Mass Effect 2 fixed a lot of the technical problems Mass Effect 1 had. It almost obliterated the framerate and pop-in issues Mass Effect 1 had. However, "almost" isn't good enough. I also experienced three bugs/crashes that required me to restart the game. Mass Effect 3 needs to get everything right on the technical side, and make sure the game is completely locked down. 

The Liberation of the Quarian Homeworld

 I think that the Quarians are my favorite race in Mass Effect. They're humbled and interesting, but they have this air of mystery around them. Namely: WHAT THE HELL IS UNDER THEIR ENVIRO-SUITS? I think we should be able to solve that mystery by going to the Quarian homeworld and taking that place back in a gigantic, harsh war. And then, after eliminating the geth threat, Tali takes off her helmet and reveals herself to look like 
 
 

      this.

A Female Turian

 One in ten salarians are female. Krogan women are sectioned off home in an attempt to raise children. HOWEVER, Turian women should be fairly easy to come by in Citadel Space. We should see one. Hell, we should have one in our party. Hell, she should be a viable romance option. 

Plastic Surgery/Barber Shop

 It's hard to make a good looking face in Mass Effect, or at least one that won't get irritating after a few dozen hours. That's why Mass Effect 3 should let you adjust parts of your face/hair style after you've made a character. 

Different Voices for Shepard

 Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale are most definitely talented voice actors, but their voices don't quite apply to all play styles and characters. And by that I mean: I like to pretend my super hi-tech Infiltrator sniper to have a smooth British accent. Mark Meer has a soldier voice: one that isn't very good for secrecy. While yes, Meer is commander Shepard, sometimes I like to play the scoundrel, a voice which he isn't very well suited for. It may be a lot more work, but giving the player the option to change Shep's voice is something greatly increases my chances to play Mass Effect 3 over and over again.     
 
Anyways, that's what I wanna see in ME3, anything you guys want in the final chapter of the trilogy?
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Leaving No One Behind

Yesterday I beat Mass Effect 2. In the end, I beat it in 36 hours with everyone loyal, and everyone surviving the suicide mission. However, trying to get everyone to survive that suicide mission was probably one of the most intense, emotional and empathetic experiences I've ever had with a video game. 
Note: this blog drops details on the suicide mission, but besides reminding you that everyone can die, I don't really spoil much. 
 
However, before I start off my ME2 praisin' I must talk about a few of its faults. Yes, it does still have some framerate issues, and pop-in (although much less than that of Mass Effect 1) and I did have to restart the game three times because of an audio glitch, a mission-ending button not working or the game just freezing, and yes, some repeating audio and dialog can feel clunky. However, my biggest problem with Mass Effect 2 is the Paragon/Renegade slider, and its impact on the game. As someone who played a Paragon for the entirety of ME2, I just felt that I had already made all of my decisions when I decided to play as a Paragon. There was no catch-22 decision. In the original Mass Effect, there was one decision that had to be made that really didn't have a correct answer, and after making it, I honestly had to sit down and take a break from playing the game for a few hours. However, I just felt that there weren't too many moral dilemmas in Mass Effect 2, and when there were, the game helpfully put the answer it wanted me to pick at the top, and the evil answer on the bottom. And because of your alignment's heavy impact on your charm/intimidate scores, I felt like that if I ever did choose something that I thought would maybe be a better idea, I felt that I would be penalized for it based off of the simple 'Good cop, bad cop' decision I made when I started playing. 
 
And that's why the suicide mission was so awesome. There wasn't a moment of that suicide mission when I thought that myself or my crew would be safe, and that I knew what was going to happen next. Yes, I was prepared for the mission, and I did kinda cheat for finding who should be doing what, but there were honestly a few moments in that mission where I felt like I could go through the situation dozens of times without it ever being the same again. I felt like all the effort I had gone through, all the mining, all the conversations had paid off. It also made the final real decision you make in the game feel like I wasn't just choosing it because it was at the top, but because it was what I needed to do to get everyone else out alive. 
  
Besides making me feel like my harder decisions mattered more, it was also a wonderfully intense and satisfying mission. The fact that I knew everyone could die made the game really feel like a suicide mission, and made me a gigantic target for fake out after fake out. Seeing someone just barely make it through a door, someone almost fall off a cliff and someone almost faint from exhaustion had me yelling at the screen. Yelling "GO SHEPARD, GO!" and "NO JACOB, NO!" only to see everyone just barely make it out alive while knowing full-well they could die was probably one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had in a video game. 
 
But most of all, it felt like my 36 hours of preparation was worth it. 
 
That's an achievement. 
 
Anyways, now that I've finished my first playthrough, I'm going to play it again importing my renegade Shepard from the first game, and playing as an adept. Or maybe I'll just make a totally neutral soldier Shepard and only try and play based on what I think I should do.

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Knives>Guns

I love Modern Warfare 2, and while I'm not going to just flat-out say that it's my Game of the Year, it's most definitely a contender. The singleplayer is tightly packed, spec ops actually requires communication and for you to say "oscar mike" a lot, and the multiplayer is as addictive as hell. However, that addiction tends to not be enough after you've played multiplayer for a good 40 hours. Recently, I found myself getting a little bit bored of the weapons and the same pool of perks. 
 
 Then I unlocked the Tactical Knife 
 
And now there's no going back. 
 
And these are the reasons why: 
 

It's Quiet

 If you get the jump on a pack of pesky enemies with an assault rifle, maybe you'd be able to shoot two before they turn themselves around and blast you to kingdom come. Even if you do end up taking down most of the guys in the area, you're still a blip on the enemy radar. Then you'll just have some dudes hunting you down, but they'd probably be much smarter tactical knife-users. 

No Need for Ammo

 Even if you're the best gun-user ever, you still need ammo. Yeah, you can have Scavenger on, but what if you're pinned down and have no bodies to scavenge? Well, if you're a knife-wielder, you just ram your way through. If you're not? Well then, kiss your killstreak goodbye. 

It Looks Cooler

 Yes, it has no unlockable skins, but that's just because the only skin it needs is that of its victims. 

It's More Personal 

At 'least the Joker says so. 

It's More Honorable

 Remember that movie The Last Samurai? I sure as hell do, and I remember that all of the awesome samurai used the blade, and all of the pansy Japs and Americans used guns. There is no honor, skill or grace in shooting someone. Killing someone with a knife is an artform. 

You Run So Freaking Fast

 I mean, compare a lightweight, marathonned tactical-knife user to some morbidly obese light machine gunner. You can't. 

You're A Bloody Ninja

 Smoke bombs, throwing knives, deadly speed, and your blade. That's what a ninja's all about. And as we all know, ninjas are awesome.

You Still Have Your Primary Weapon

 The tactical knife is but an attachment to a secondary weapon, meaning you can still have the ghillie suit of a sniper rifle, protection of a riot shield, grenade launcher of an assault rifle, or just a back-up weapon. You won't need it, but it's that little bit of reassurance that helps comfort you. 

It Makes the Game a Cross Between Assassin's Creed and Mirror's Edge, but Not Garbage

You move hella fast, you jump far, you climb walls like a demon, and you don't get hurt from falling. I have jumped off a myriad of buildings to land right behind a dude, which then means you can get as personal as you want with your vic

It Isn't as Cheap as Akimbo 1887s

 While yes, they are pretty darn cheap, just always remember that those jerks with the dual shotguns are much bigger jerks than you. 

It Pisses People Off

 While it may not piss them off as much as a Akimbo shotgunner waiting behind the door they just walked through, it still pisses people off, which is really why anyone does anything.
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The Top Ten Games I Should've Beaten Already

Destructoid's Top 50 Games of this Decade finished up today, and I have to say that I reasonably liked it. Yeah, it lacked BioWare love, and it did have that semi-pretentious Destructoid air of "indie games are better than normal games", but Shadow of the Colossus took the top spot, and I sure as hell can't argue with that. However, what this list did best was reminding me how many great games are out there, and how many of them I might really, really like. Still, just playing a game doesn't mean I'll beat it. Hell, even if I really, really like a game it doesn't mean I'll beat it. This list is just a reminder to myself of my long list of games I need to play before I can actually pretend to know crap about games. 
 

10. Valkyria Chronicles

 My experiences with Valkyria Chronicles have been a lot like what I'd imagine an abusive relationship being like. It started off great, albeit a little cheesy, and I started to fall in love. However, after about five hours or so, I started to get some unfair punishment. I'd aim my lancer perfectly at an enemy infantry, the game would tell me "yes, this will hit" and then I'd find my shot hitting miles off of the mark. I'd find that it takes a split second for the game to stop shooting me when I start to aim. Then I started to yell, and get a little bit too mad. I was a bad person when I was with Valkyria. For every magical moment filled with role-playing and tactical glee, there was a throw of the controller. I love myself some Fire Emblem, but that's because no matter how difficult it may be, it was fair. Valkyria Chronicles may be an incredibly beautiful, fun, and magical game, but we've had some fights I don't know we can get over. However, I think that I've gone through some changes now, and I think that if I try, Valkyria can patch up our rocky relationship. 

9. Skies of Arcadia

 What's this? Another Sega RPG? This game is really just on this list because of how much I love the characters and style of Valkyria Chronicles, and because Persona 4 taught me that even a lighthearted and fairly traditional JRPG can be a fantastically memorable and whimsical experience. From what I've heard, Skies of Arcadia is one of those JRPGs that is just impossible to not like, and as a very picky person, I could use a game like that. 

8. Okami

 I played about fifteen hours of the late Clover Studios' Okami and got to the part where the game made you think it could've been over, only to then say "nope, this game still has another twenty-five hours to go". Revelations like that are hard to take, and despite my love for the game's combat, bosses, story, puzzles, graphics, characters, style, and the paintbrush mechanic, I just haven't really felt like stepping into Amaterasu's paws again. 

7. Dragon Quest V

 Dragon Quest is just a series that I pretend to love. The only entrants in the series I've ever played are V, VIII, and Rocket Slime. The only one I've beaten is--you guessed it--Rocket Slime. Like most of the games on this list, Dragon Quest V is a game that I really liked, but then stopped playing for some reason. The reason I stopped playing Dragon Quest V is because I got hitched and started gambling. Then, after buying two ridiculously overpowered swords, I got lost and couldn't find my way. I love the game's story, passes in time, party system and I'm completely fine with grinding in it. All I want is a map and some motivation. 

6. Psychonauts

 'Cause otherwise I'll keep feeling bad about myself. 

5. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

 For a second there, you might have thought that I was talking about Super Mario World. Maybe during that second there, you could've thought "WHAT? YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED SUPER MARIO WORLD? HAVE YOU NOT BREATHED AIR?". Oh yes. I have played Super Mario World. I hated it. 
Still, that's a different story for a different day. Yoshi's Island use of a character that isn't the world's most annoying mustached plumber, cool jump mechanic, and the absence of dude touching thing way smaller than him death, is something I kinda like.. I'd probably say it's the best shot I have at liking a 2d platformer, so I'm gonna try and get around to beating it. I probably won't, but I'll try. 

4. Mother 3

 Mother 3 is a game with a pretty good reason for me not to play it: I can't. Well, yes, I theoretically could download an emulator, and then the translator, but that would actually mean I wouldn't have my excuse. That, and playing a portable game on a computer just seems wrong to me. I mean, the keyboard is not a d-pad. Still, the game's modern setting, and supposedly high-lariousness make my endless wait for a port seem even longer. 

3. Final Fantasy IX

 Yet another game that I absolutely loved...the first five hours of. Actually, before I moved, I was in a pretty good funk with the game. By that, I mean I was playing it. Regularly. However, a month and a half break from the game, and it being greatly overshadowed by the colossus that was InFamous meant I probably wouldn't beat the game. Still. I should have. I loved what I played of FF9, and it seems like everyone else who beat it loved it a whole lot more. 

2. Chrono Trigger

I'm on the last dungeon of Chrono Trigger. However, much like Final Fantasy VI, I just don't want to grind to beat it. Odd that a game that offers absolutely no story or sidequest if you grind like Dragon Quest V or Persona 4  is something I pounce on, yet I cower in fear of a game like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI. However, as much as I loved FF6's story and music, I loathed its gameplay. Chrono Trigger doesn't have the problem. No. It's a tight-knit experience, and I actually brought myself to do a sidequest in it. It was actually pretty good. Actually, scratch that. It, along with the rest of Chrono Trigger, is a pretty damn fantastic game. The game's sublime way of handling encounters, cool tech system, and awesome presentation make it so. Me not beating it is a crime. 

 Yeah. Every moment of Half Life 2 was one I loved. Be it trying to solve an actual puzzle that makes actual sense, dealing with some incredibly convincing characters, or engaging in some semi-tactical, cool weapon-filled, physics based combat, I loved it all.  
 
 
 
Actually, I was going to write more, but I think I'm just going to go try and beat Half Life 2 right now instead.
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Why No Blogs?

As you may have noticed [or just forgotten], I haven't written a blog post for two months or so. Why, you may ask? 
 
 
 
No real reason. 
 
 
 
Well, I have been pretty deep in school stuff, and some confusing relationships, but I just haven't been inspired to write much of a blog recently. 
 
 
That being said, I have been playing quite a few games, but talking about how awesome Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, and Modern Warfare 2 are has been done before. Just posting this to let you know that I haven't forgotten I have a blog, but I highly doubt anyone really cares. 
 
 
 
But, I do have a whopping forty-four followers, so maybe like, two people will read this.

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I'mma totally blow your minds

Black isn't a color. It's color is based on the fact that it has no color, but that's common fact, and totally not mind-blowing. 
However, when someone is referring to a "colored person" they are technically referring to everyone BESIDES black people, as they are black, and therefore, not colored, while they are white, and therefore colored. 

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Games as an Art Form

*I must apologize in advance that most of this probably doesn't make sense at all and is just terrible rambling. 
 
The question of whether or not games are art has always been on my mind. In my opinion, "art" is a synonym for "expression" and is any form of expression, more intent on voicing the artist's opinion. So therefore, when Michael Bay decides that he should make another movie because he's low on the moolas, and only for the sole reason to showcase a bunch of explosions and attractive women in skimpy outfits, and actually voice no real opinion on anything, it's not really art. However, if Soulja Boy were to one day think about how much he wants to beat up puppies, and he wrote a song about it, since it is his own opinion and voice on a subject I would consider it art, but even though what Soulja Boy is rapping about is technically art, since it's told through his crap-tastic rapping, it doesn't make you care and is therefore bad art.
 
Now that we have what I mean when I say "art" out of the way, I'll actually write about video games as an art-form. Now games, much like most other forms of media, are in most cases--and from most points of view--are art. When you look at it from the perspective of a game developer who worked on this game for two to three years of his life and poured his heart and soul into it, the game is art. But, when you look at it from a publisher or a marketer's perspective, it's just another way to make money. Games like Halo 3 and Gears of War are by-the-numbers stories that have you shooting things, which try to shove some message and feeling into it. It ends up not being good art, as instead of thinking about what the game is trying to tell you, you're instead thinking about "HEY MAN I JUST SHOT THAT GUY IN DA FACE!".
 
However, I'm not trying to say that all shooters are solely stuck to making you think more about what you are shooting than the message it gives you. I think that Call of Duty 4 is fine art. It's about how war really is hell. From characters you've known--and in some cases, played as--dieing or the brutality of the combat, some things really hit hard, make you care, and make you think. The fact that the main campaign doesn't really have any co-op also helps make this message hit harder. While don't get me wrong, I love co-op, but trying to get someone focus and think about consequences when their friend is yelling about how there's no Mountain Dew in the fridge is nigh-impossible, and comes across as just a waste of the player's time.
 
On the other hand, you have games like Shadow of the Colossus: a game that not only gives you a momentous feeling of accomplishment when defeating a colossi, but also managed to make you care about everything you were doing. You cared about your girlfriend. You cared about the world. You cared about Agro. You cared about those colossi that you killed and what you were doing just for one life. Shadow of the Colossus didn't just make you think "that's awesome": it made you savor the bittersweet feeling of the fact that what you were doing was indeed awesome, but also in many ways wrong.   
 
Now that I'm done talking about these "mainstream art games" I'm assuming you're looking for my opinion on indie games. I think that 90% of indie games' messages just come across as forced and pointless. For the first few chapters of Flower,I freaking loved that game; it was a beautiful and relaxing experience. However, when the game started getting grey and wanted me to think about technology's slow destruction of the environment, I couldn't care less. The message felt forced. It's as if thatgamecompany thought that you can't have an independent game without some garbage message about the environment. Jason Rohrer's Passage also disappointed me. While yes, it did have some fine points and a message, the game's thoughts on death felt yet again forced. I think that when a game (or Hironobu Sakaguchi) says that playing this game will make you cry, or have some life-changing message, and then markets the game on such, is pretentious, and is simply begging for headlines. When a game only offers a promise of invoking emotion in you, it might as well be a short film or an actual film. 
 
In order to make an actually good, artistic game, you need to incorporate some strength that games have. Be it the ability to choose and have consequences for those choices (which Passage did actually decently, and Mass Effect excelled in), the immersion and fact that you are the character you played as (Half-Life 2) or have some actual interaction. This actually brings me to Heavy Rain, a game that I am very much skeptical of. Mainly because true immersion only truly works when you are basically the character, so when Norman Jayden reaches down for a fix, it's him that's doing that--I don't want him to. You are just basically watching a movie, and deciding what will happen through an over-glorified choose-your-own adventure.

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Top 5 Songs that Should've Been in The Beatles: Rock Band

The Beatles: Rock Band has a pretty good setlist. That being said, there are a few key Beatles songs that aren't in the game. This could be due to some copyright issues, the song not being very fun to play in Rock Band or a myriad of other reasons. Anyways, these are the five songs that should've been in The Beatles: Rock Band. 
Note: these songs are not only absent from the Beatles: Rock Band setlist, but there are also no plans to bring them to the game later as downloadable content. 
 

Number 5: 'She Loves You'  

While 'She Loves You' is definitely one of The Beatles' more poppy songs, it's still got some fun guitar and bass parts, some cool drum rolls, and a catchy chorus.

Number 4: 'Hey Jude'  

Firstly, I personally think that Hey Jude is not only the best Beatles song, it's also probably one of the greatest songs ever written period. Despite that, this song only clocks in at Number 4 because it's not a fun song to play on guitar or  bass, as any bassline or guitar rift is basically absent from the song. Still, Hey Jude not being in the game is a little bit of an insult to Beatles fans. 

Number 3:  'Lady Madonna'  

Lady Madonna has some pounding piano, groovy bass, an awesome guitar rift, and some catchy verses. Why isn't this song in the game? I have no idea. Should it be? Yeah. It definitely should.  

Number 2: 'Help!'  

Help! is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and is a perfect showcase of the harmonies is the game, and sports some great guitar parts. The song being absent from the soundtrack is a little bit of a crime. 

Number 1: 'Let it Be'  

Let it Be is one of the most emotional and beautiful songs ever written. There are some great vocals, and an awesome guitar solo. Unlike Hey Jude, Let it Be would be fun on all instruments, and has some fantastic lyrics and harmonies.
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Persona 3 Spoilerzone

Warning: this blog contains massive spoilers for Persona 3. If you haven't beaten it yet, don't read any further. 
 
 It finally happened. I beat Persona 3. I didn't think I could do it, but I did it, and in the way completely opposite I thought I would. I stopped playing Persona 3 four or five months ago because I didn't want to grind to beat the section of Tartarus I was on. Four and a half months later, I sucked up my pride, turned on a podcast, and grinded down. It actually wasn't bad, and ironically, I beat the game way overleveled. 
 
The reaper. I don't fear him.
I think that what made me like grinding in Persona 3 was the fact that levels meant something. They weren't just slight ability upgrades, they let me fuse cool new Personas, and near the end of the game, the top-tier Personas were a fantastic goal. Around mid-January I was level 78. I just battled the Reaper to see if I was tough enough to take on Nyx. I died quite a few times trying, but in the end, managed to take him out. And since he was about as hard as Nyx was supposed to be, I was relatively confident that I could beat him. After returning Elizabeth's request for killing the Reaper, I noticed a door behind Aigis. I went in it and saw that it was the fabled Monad block, where all of the enemies were level 90 or above. I battled a monster, and after a relatively tough battle, I got tens of thousands of experience points.  
 
Leveling up from one fight after spending half an hour grinding so I could fuse Mara seemed insane. I had seen the videos of people fighting Elizabeth and using incredibly powerful Personas, but I had never thought that I could maybe use one of them. It seemed possible now. Within the same night, I leveled up my character from 78 to 90 and had fused practically every top-tier Persona you could imagine. I had gone from barely being able to beat the Reaper to killing him in one shot, and then being fully recovered so I could do it again*. 
 
He is pretty ugly. See? 
This made the actual end-game of Persona 3 ridiculously easy, and it had already been pretty easy after I got on the grinding train. Takaya and Jin dropped like hats, and I didn't need Armageddon at all. Nyx was pretty easy too; I was taking out an arcana a turn. The only part that was frustrating was near the end of battle. Nyx put up his Moonlight Veil** and I forgot to put everyone's tactics at 'Wait' so Junpei and Aigis ran straight into his mirror-wall. I healed everyone up but then Nyx decided to charm my main character and have me heal him back to full health. Then I just said "screw it" and Armageddon'd his ugly little face. He was killed in one shot.           
 
The ending of P3 was when things kinda got a little confusing. When I thought that I'd never play P3 again, I decided to watch videos of the ending. However, what confused--and freaked me out--was when you were back in the highschool. I actually only watched the end battle with Nyx and read up on what happened after Shinjiro died, but I never actually saw anything at all relating to what happened afterwards. I actually thought it would all be a dream, as I knew that the Main Character dies at the end, and that I just saw him die. It did end up to be pretty good ending, even though things weren't quite as clear as they should've been.

Before I end this terrible blog*** I'm gonna give my take on the Persona 3 VS Persona 4 debate. I have always thought that Persona 4 was the better game, but there were times during Persona 3 where I thought that I might like it more than Persona 4. Then I battled the Reaper and remembered how bad the allied AI was. I'm not trying to beat-up on Persona 3. I really like P3, and I spent 20 more hours with it than I did Persona 4, but P4's just the superior game. The fast travel, the ability to control your party members, the humor, and the enhanced quality of the Social Links make Persona 4 a better game.
 
Now you may**** be asking "what game are you gonna play next now that you've finished with your incredibly long JRPGs?". I reply that with "more Persona 4". I never actually got the True Ending in P4, and since P3 taught me that grinding isn't bad and that top-tier Personas are awesome, I'm gonna finish Persona 4 the right way, or at least play it until The Beatles: Rock Band comes out. I also might delve into the FES part of P3: FES, buy Lost Odyssey or finally get around to playing Final Fantasy X
 
 
 
 
 
  
*There's a fusion spell using Helel and Satan called Armageddon that does 9999 damage to all enemies. I also got it so Helel had Victory Cry, which gives back all of your HP and SP after a battle.
 **A skill that reflects all damage back to you for 500.
***You still need to pretend it's the best blog ever, though. 
****By may, I mean 'most certainly aren't'. 
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