By Video_Game_King 131 Comments
(Why the fuck aren't you playing this game?) No, seriously, I want to know: what reason do you have for not playing this game? Hell, Atlus did a reprint because not enough of you assholes bought it when it first came out, so you have no goddamn excuse. Stop reading this blog, get away from your computer (or smartphone; I don't care), and get this game. I know that my pissed off attitude will probably put you off, but just fucking do it: you will be singing my praises for years to come because I was the one to unite you with a game as great as Radiant Historia.
Oh, what's that? You need reasons? Well, how about this: the story. You know, the Storia part. The part that I find to be very radiant. ひ。What exactly does it entail? Well, how about I just summarize it: two 19th century children give a spy the power of time travel so he can prevent global warming from striking the world of My Little Pony. I am not making any of that shit up. It only gets better from there once you see what it does with the time travel mechanic. My god, does it do wonders with the time travel mechanic. And no, I'm not talking about some Sun Stone bullshit (I'm getting to it, I'm getting to it); I'm talking about actual goddamn story reasons. For example, Supreme Time Lord Gorebond (who will henceforth be called "Stocke" because that's actually his name) is a tortured goddamn character. Expect to see him break down into an emotional goddamn wreck a few times throughout the game. What's that? I think I hear some of you complaining about this. SHUT YOUR GODDAMN WHORE MOUTH!!! The guy's got the power to jump all across time and change anything to his whim, so it's pretty understandable for the guy to feel like he's got the fate of the world on his shoulders. And when he finds out that there's some thing in history that he can't change, shit just goes DOWN. Dear god, are these moments effective. Believe me: you're gonna feel something for this poor bastard's sorrows (especially since you're just as powerless as Stocke is in these situations), and damn it, you're gonna love that the game can do something like this in the first place.
That's one of the things I really love about Radiant Historia: just how much it thinks things through. Let's take that time travel thing, for example. You know, the driving force behind the entire shitting plot. Turns out there are a few rules to this infinite power of the cosmos: you can only travel to certain points, it doesn't make you immortal, you can sort of cause timelines to intersect, fucking your mom is just fucking your mom (why are you going back in time to fuck your mom!?)...I know this sounds like a lot, but it really goes a long way to creating a convincing mythos. You know what else does that, though? The characters. Every single character you will ever meet ever gets some type of cool development. No matter how small their role or how insignificant their influence on the overall plot or how nonexistent their wiki page (seriously, the fuck, guys?), they're getting some of their flesh out. (Don't say a goddamn thing.) Even the villains get some pretty intricate characterization. No "I R EVUL, HIT ME TOO WIN" bullshit; instead, you get some realistic character traits and relateable motivations. You know, like they're actual goddamn people. Yea, there are some cliches present, like an ancient advanced society and whatnot, but the game utilizes them so damn well that you wouldn't even think of yelling at it for using them in the first place. And that's not even getting into the cool thematic shit that Radiant Historia delves into! You know, the reason why a lot of those cliches are so easy to overlook. What? You thought that it was just a story about how awesome time travel is? Oh, you naïve fucking fool. Radiant Historia's got an agenda to fulfill, and you're gonna sit there and enjoy it. After all, what better way to show how easy ultimate power is to abuse than to have the main villain abuse the hell out of it? Oh, but that's not all you get: you also get messages on fate and the legacies of our ancestors and about a billion other themes built up in a complex manner. You know, almost like it was telling a decent story or something. Surprising, right? RIGHT!?
Did I mention that the time travel mechanic also has gameplay implications? (Yes, I did, back in the second paragraph. Catch the fuck up.) Turns out that you, being the dumbass that you are (you don't own this game; clearly, you are not intelligent), will probably get stuck at some point in your time travel escapades. That's when you jump to another timeline, fetch whatever you need to progress, and stop sucking so hard. It's like a puzzle game that forces you to pay attention to the plot. Yea, seriously. Remember that thing about thinking things through earlier? I meant it. Of course, there's only so much you can do in the regular storyline (like cause the Apocalypse time and time again), which is why there are a billion goddamn sidequests to tackle in the world of...Vaingueur (I honestly don't think it ever comes up in the game). Don't think that's enough? For fuck's sake, you expect a lot, but let's ignore that for now as I provide an example: one of the sidequests involves you jumping between timelines to make a painter hold conversation with himself until he just gives you a knife or something. HOW FUCKING CRAZY IS THAT SHIT!? The best part, though, is that there are (as I said earlier (keep up)) a billion fucking things like this throughout the game. Hell, I'm probably still playing it right now, and I write these things weeks in advance. Then again, I'm probably playing it just to set an example for you. So I ask you again: why aren't you playing this game?
What? You need more motivation? My god, you're demanding! How about the battle system? That doing anything for you? Well, it should. Here's how it works: three-by-three grid, combos, conditional turn-based system. Plenty of room for strategic combat, and believe me, you WILL need that strategic element. Think you can just mash the attack button throughout these regular fights? You deserve all the deaths you get in this game, you goddamn pussy. You need to learn how to group enemies together so you can spam them with magic in the most awesome combo known to man, which requires using everything at your disposal. Attacks, magic, better attacks, items, super better attacks, magic (that's probably gonna get the most use), traps, status ailments...Now I know a lot of that is going to go over your head (if it didn't, it's because you've already played the game), but my point is that the battle system is tactical as shit. You can't so much as look at an enemy without thinking about battle strategies. (I am not fucking joking.) Hell, there's even strategy in which party members you bring into the fray! Do you stick with Aht as your support gal, or fuck shit up with Rosch? (You use Aht as your support. Like you had a choice in the first place.) Yes, I know what you're going to say: "What if I don't want to change party members?" So the fuck what? You still get the opportunity for a shitload of strategy, and that alone is worthy of all the praise I'm shouting in your general direction. THAT ALONE! Imagine all the other features I have to yell at you!
Don't even get me started on the presentation! The graphics....OK, the graphics aren't exactly a technical marvel. That's not to say that it looks bad (I'll rip a testicle off the motherfucker who so much as dares to say that); just that it won't make you say, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT, JUST LOOK AT THIS FUCKING GAME!!!" (I think I've already established other reasons for me to yell that at you throughout this blog). This is about as close as it comes. But I don't want to catch you saying that this game looks bad. Don't you dare say that this game looks bad, because this game looks fucking awesome. It's like somebody maanged to convert the entire 19th century into video game form. Imagine Mystic Ark with time travel. And that's not even getting into the music! It's just....NNNNGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! How do I even describe it? Elegant? Beautiful? I feel I've cheapened those words with how strongly I want to use them to describe every awesome game song I've come across. Just listen to this shit. That's some Shimomura-ass Shimomura if I've ever seen it. So I ask you YET AGAIN: why aren't you fucking playing this game? Did you bother thinking of an excuse in the time it took you to read this series of words I've yelled at you? Because that's time you didn't spend going to Amazon and getting this game!
- WHAT A FUCKING AWESOME STORY!!!
- AND WHAT GREAT COMBAT!!!
- AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE PRESENTATION...AGAIN!!!
- Seriously, why aren't you fucking playing this game? Go out and get it! NOW!!! NNNNGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
You know what else makes me angry?
Blocks that Matter
(OK, that's enough abhorrent rage for one blog.) Time to move onto something that won't make me so angry. I know what will do: a game that didn't elicit a strong reaction of any kind out of me: Blocks that Matter, yet another game in the long list of Humble Indie Bundle games confusingly clogging up my Steam and Desura libraries. Now I'm not here to insult Blocks that Matter (I guess would be the guy to do that, given that this is an indie puzzle platformer and everything). In fact, I'm not really here to do much with Blocks that Matter other than recognize it as a cool-ish game.
Or maybe a ridiculously egotistical game. Whichever's funnier, I guess. Our story begins with
a resolution so wide that I had to rent a movie theater just to display the whole game two Swedish game developers whom the game assures us are effing awesome. So awesome, in fact, that somebody feels it necessary to send men in black to kidnap them for their super awesome games. Now it's up to their lawsuit waiting to happen (Activision is very protective of Skylanders) to rescue them. And...that's really all there is to say about the story, really. Yea, there are a couple of twists at the end that make the story hard to believe (up until that point, I found the premise of "a bipedal drill rescues Swedish game developers" to be very believable), but it's hardly enough to malign the game. After all, it has some decent humor and atmosphere (by which I mean "it look and sounds pretty good") up until that point. Besides, the game's clearly not about story, so it'd be pretty stupid of me to hold this against the game. (Stupider than usual, I guess.)
So what's the game about, exactly? Puzzling and platforming. But not puzzle-platforming. What the hell does that mean? Well, for the most part, you're going to jump and drill your way through the levels, but there's a twist: there aren't always platforms to jump on. Or maybe the platform is blocking something else. Or...whatever. So what do you do? Tetris that shit up! I know that sounds pretty simple, but holy hell, does this game get a lot out of this simple concept. Exploding blocks, burning blocks, blocks that obey the laws of physics, and even some things that aren't blocks. Now picture that over the entire game. Sounds....actually, just OK, really. Not too much to get excited about.....How about this? It's actually kinda difficult. Remember those puzzle game roots? Well, they're gonna come back and bite you in the ass time and time again as you try to figure out how the fuck to assemble these blocks so you don't screw yourself big time thirty seconds later. Not that I'm complaining or anything; yea, I screwed myself royally quite a bit (and not just because of my username), but that just made me feel all the more badass when I finally managed to get through them (it doesn't take a lot for me to feel badass). Although there is a bit of a downside to this difficulty business. Remember, though, this is a puzzle-platformer, meaning that some platforming difficulties manage to sneak their way into this (even though the platforming isn't even close to the main draw for this game). For example, the timing. That's really all I have to say: timing's a bit of a factor here. I know that this sounds benign, but trust me: it can get pretty annoying to have to puzzle your way through the same level a billion times because you jumped a millisecond too early. It gets especially annoying in longer levels, what with the lack of a checkpoint system and everything.
You know what else gets annoying after a while? All the secrets to be found in these levels. Before I get into it, though, let me say that this isn't a bad thing. Keep in mind that I'm not usually the type of person to hunt out every unlockable in a game, but there's just something about Blocks that Matter that forced me to hunt down every secret. I know that it only made the game more challenging and about twenty times longer, but I just couldn't leave those things lying around. It just would feel right. Is th....Wait, I think I forgot to explain what these secrets are, probably because I have no goddamn idea. Achievements? Art gallery? Sound test? Probably. All I know is that there are these things called "blocks that matter", or as I call them: "game references". Imagine a museum dedicated to block-like objects in video games, only if it ran out of pieces pretty quickly. I can understand including Tetris in there, but why is Fire 'n Ice a block that matters? Like as good as Fire 'n Ice is (it's pretty damn cool), can you really say that it matters to gaming as a whole? There's a good chance that I'm the only person on this site who's played it. Then again, Blocks that Matter is giving people a reason to play Fire 'N Ice. For that reason alone, I'd recommend it, making the other nice things I said about it a little confusing.
- Yea, there's a story, alright.
- It's like somebody combined Tetris with a platformer....except not that.
- Does Fire 'n Ice matter to gaming? No, but it should.