By Video_Game_King 12 Comments
The Temple of Elemental Evil: A Classic Greyhawk Adventure
(Well, this is certainly odd.) I haven't even finished the Let's Play of this damn thing, and I'm already blogging about it? I haven't even made the joke that reality and time have fallen apart (trust me, the next part's gonna be awesome), so this blog doesn't even make sense! *sigh* Might as well get on with it. Anyway, as you should know, Temple of Elemental Evil was a DND game made by failure of a company Troika (perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to name your company after failed Russian economic policy). I'm not sure why they failed, though. Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines: The Bloodlettening: Part IV looks pretty cool, Arcanum is a thing (I'm guessign Batman's involved, so it gets a pass), and Temple of Elemental Evil is pretty cool.
Even if it is, as I said before, a DnD-ass game. How so? Well, remember how in my eight-part series on the subject, I kinda made up the story as I went? I'm fairly certain that the game expects you to do that, because there's really no story. You get an alignment-dependent intro, some loosely connected quests (more on that later), dense-ass descriptions of any new location you find, and that's about it. I guess Troika expects you to do some actual role-playing for once. Wait, why the "I guess"? That's exactly what they want you to do. Have you seen all the options? No? Check it out, because there's a lot to it. And that's just in the goddamn character creator; jump into the actual game, and there's so much more. Tons of dialogue trees (and dialogue in general) and alternate paths (even if the game is oddly very linear) and all that other cool stuff. It's almost like a pen-and-paper RPG (probably because it, you know, is one). Of course, there is a dark side to all this RPG stuff:
The game itself is balls hard. I know that my stats sucked (only because you guys were there to tell me that), but that's kinda the point I'm going for: you have to know the DnD landscape. Don't know what constitution means? Well, it's only going to be that much funnier when bugbears start tearing through your Faliors like tissue paper. And don't think that playing intelligently will get you out of it, either; if Mento and ArbitraryWater('s head shaking at all my horrible decisions) are to be believed, you're getting it rough, no matter how smart you are. But as long as you avoid combat, it should be smooth sailing, right? First off, fuck you for being such a goddamn idiot (or being very insane). Second, the quests can be pretty difficult, too. Unless you have a map of town up, you'll spend a lot of time just wandering around the oddly huge hamlet, searching out quests by bothering every NPC available. But even if you manage to get a quest, there's not much guarantee that you'll be able to do it. It could require cash, which you only get through looting corpses...that you killed in combat. Oh, I should probably mention that this only applies to the first few levels. Later quests are easier to complete without paying out the ass. Now that I think about it, the combat gets easier, too, when you've got better weapons and spells and enough gold to make this a reality (should I bring up the console again to make a video of this?). It can still decimate you in pretty glorious ways (especially closer to the end), though, so be careful.
You know, maybe I should have introduced the combat before telling you that it's balls hard (the testicles are the part that get hard, right? Human biology is confusing). There are tons of options to choose from, like cleaving, power attacks, regular attacks, trip attacks, charge attacks, and about nine hundred other tactics. But wait: how many do you actually end up using? I believe my Slayer of Gods video sums up all the techniques you'll end up using. Part of the problem is that a lot of those attacks are never explained (the hell's a coup de grace?); the actual problem is that regular attacks are the most effective option. Maybe it's just that I'm a moron, but trip attacks were more likely to trip poor little Sexyface than they were to trip any enemies. Besides, which are you more likely to do: click through radial menus for an optional attack that still needs to be targeted, or click on the enemy and watch them get hurt? Be honest. But to be fair, the spells are a lot better about this. There's a lot more variety to them, and with all the different elements and effects and areas of effect and all that other stuff, there's more strategy to using them. No spamming magic missile because it's the only thing you know about DnD (trust me, I tried).
But I'm pretty sure that I haven't mentioned the most important part of the game, yet (I'm fairly certain this sentence will piss off all four fans of this game on the site): the dungeon crawling. Wait, how's that the most important? There are only two dungeons in the entire game. But here's the thing: those two dungeons are effing huge. And that's kinda the problem: they're effing huge, and a bit of a pain to navigate. It can take a long time to find something to do in some of these dungeons that isn't just plain fights, probably because there are tons of fights. (OK, now I can see why that earlier sentence was so stupid.) And you know what that means, right? "Tons of fights"? Are you a parrot? That can, uh, type? Ignoring that, here's the answer: tons of loot, which means tons of trips back to town to sell your crap (very slowly, I might add) because encumbrance means "you can't move more than two feet in battle". If you haven't caught on, this means that dungeon travel is cumbersome and slow and several other mean words.
Oh, and I should probably mention that this is a super glitchy game. There are so many glitches in this game that I could probably write half a blog on them alone. In fact, let's see if I can do that. First off, the pathfinding is kinda wonky. You'd think that your characters would just try to take the shortest route, but that's not at all how it works. I'm not sure how it works, since I've seen Clearly Out of Their Elemental Evil run into a room only to run out of said room. I'd mention something about not wanting to follow my directions, but I'm not exactly sure what triggers them to ignore my commands. All those unwarranted insults toward Falior, I guess? But like the screen filling up with butterflies or characters refusing to animate unless my group is within two feet of them, that's merely an annoying glitch with no long-term damage; if you want something truly bad, look no further than the save system. Prepare to lose progress regularly because of corrupted saves and whatnot. I've noticed that it can be triggered with quick saves or level-ups, but it's pretty hard to avoid, and from what I've read, there's really nothing you can do about it. I know that this game is good and everything, but it's not so fun to refight a boss again because the title screen suddenly became a map location.
(Turns out I couldn't write half a blog on the glitches.) So why do I like it, again? Simply put: all the crazy shit you can do in this game. (That statement shouldn't be surprising. It's probably the reason why I love half the games I love.) You know, like this. Why would I ever need to rest for that long? Familiars don't play a large role (now that I think about it, summons are pretty much temporary damage sponges), so it's not like I'd spam that so I could get Schrodinger back. (I would spam it, but that's a story for a nonexistent day.) And the craziness doesn't end there. For example, remember that thing about warriors forgetting their motivation? That actually happened. In fact, a lot of that crazy shit was (pretty much) true. And that's just the shit that I actually tackled. There's tons of other crap that I didn't bother touching, like marrying (heterosexual) villagers or NPCs or whatever else Mento probably blogged about, so just imagine the replay value in this thing. Then again, there are only four or five areas to the game total, and two of them are just towns. And the aesthetics can be crap when they want to be (it seems Troika has a thing against NPCs). OK, looking back on it, I'm liking this game far more than I should have. Remember all those criticisms I said before? They're still there, and I'm not deleting them. But keep in mind that I'm not deleting the parts where I said that this game is pretty cool. Mind taking a guess as to why?
- Yep, it's a WRPG, alright.
- A WRPG with tons of shit to it.
- I'm not sure if Troika meant to make this game as crazy as it is, but does that really matter?
- I know that this is a bit off-topic, but one thing I hate about playing more modern games is that the image galleries often suck when I write these blogs. Obviously, this game has no such problems.
Speaking of weird RPG shenanigans...
Classic NES Series: Ice Climber
(Oh, where am I?) Last I remember, I wrote a review blog about Temple of Elemental Evil before I actually posted the final part of my Let's Play, destroying the time stream in the process. Wait, what's this? Ice Climber? Am I back on GameSpot?....Perhaps I should explain. Long ago, when I was writing blogs that weren't any good (it was more than two months ago, smartasses), I decided to tackle a little known game called Ice Climber. Why? Because the protagonists were in Super Smash Bros. Melee. That's a flimsy reason for playing a game, and I paid for it. But years later, I decided to give it a second chance...and I paid for it.
So why did I play it...aside from the previously listed reason? Well, the Thanksgiving spirit was part of the logic behind it. After all, look at the basic premise: a...what the hell is this? A bird? A pterodactyl? An art student dropping out of college? As you can clearly tell, the graphics are pretty crap, sometimes in oddly creative ways. Anyway, that thing is stealing your food, and it's up to you to get it all back. So where's the Thanksgiving fit into it? Well, there are 32 levels to the game (keep that in mind for later), and four foods to be found in each one, meaning 128 plants to collect for your vegan Thanksgiving. (And 32 dead condors to ruin the vegan part.) And then you do it all over again, because every day is Thanksgiving in Wherever-the-Hell-This-Is.
Of course, that's a life of being in Ice Climber, and that's just impossible. Why, you ask? Well, knowing all that, you'd probably kill yourself within a week. It may or may not be intentional, but trust me: you're gonna die, at some point. (Both in this game and in your life.) Why? Well, the largest problem with the game: the jumping controls suck. How do you fuck up the controls in a platfomer, you ask? Well, if Nintendo can find a way to invent the platformer genre (or at least codify it), they can find a way to fuck it up: no horizontal movement. OK, so you can move, and maybe you can get some distance with a jump, but I doubt it's greater than a pixel at best. Getting a running start does not fix this, mainly because the physics behave no known laws of physics (actually jumping on platforms is kinda wonky, hammering tells gravity to go fuck itself, wall jumps that really don't help you, etc.). The only thing that improved my pitiful distance was not holding down the jump button, but I wouldn't recommend it, as it isn't exactly perfect. Or consistent. Or good.
Speaking of not being good, here's another reason why this game is that: it's kinda difficult. What? You were surprised that a strictly vertical platformer with poor jumping mechanics would be difficult? Man, you're easily surprised. Anyway, you're gonna miss platforms a ton of the time, which means that you need a lot of time to complete the levels. But you never have that time, partly because little furballs wish to trap you on one level so a bear can knock you down to your death. I'd be mad at the game for all this, but it's more annoying than anything to get especially pissed about. And while I'm being fair to the game (for once), it does get a surprisingly high amount of variety out of the levels. Who knew that you could get so much out of platforms, conveyor belts (on a mountain, because why not?), and clouds (that you can't jump through, because physics has clearly stopped caring at this point)? By the way, exactly how much content can you get from all that, again? About ten levels? So then why did I play for 32?....No, seriously, why did I play this game for 32 levels?
- Something about Thanksgiving oughta do, even though that was last week and it's completely irrelevant to this storyless game that fucks up its own story.
- The platforming sucks in this platforming game.
- Also..., no, that's about it, really.