By ZombiePie 8 Comments
Author's Note: It has become a reoccurring joke that I do not play a lot of video games. The only contrivance that I have with this joke is that it's true. Part of it is work, and another part is my own personal problems with time management. Regardless of the reason I'm trying to get better. So please join my as I try to rectify an injustice. There will be no fancy banners, nor will I have any humorous videos to share. It's just me talking about video games...and maybe anime.
With rougelikes I feel an inclination that everyone has their “techniques” so to speak when approaching them. An often ignored aspect to roguelikes is the fact that they reward different playstyles. With my fifteen hours of FTL I found a strong preference of utilizing both offensive and defensive droids. However, FTL is a game that wants you to explore its possibilities as much as it wants you to explore every possible scenario that it has to share with you. I want to first say that for some reason I find myself enjoy the strategy game takes of the roguelike formula a lot more than the more traditional takes of the rogue-like concept (i.e. Legend of Grimrock). Another reason for my enjoyment of FTL most likely comes down to my passion for science fiction and options. The nonchalant nature of death assuages much of my fears of “spec-ing” incorrectly or leveling myself into a corner, two phobias which have led me to experiencing this massive JRPG blackhole in my video game lifetime.
I feel the slight desire to mention that FTL reminded me of another game I played a while back of a similar design structure, that game being the oft forgotten Flotilla. In fact if you enjoyed FTL and have not played Flotilla I give it a strong recommendation. Just like FTL you deal with random scenarios and premises for your battles, but with Flotilla there is an element of wackiness. The first major difference is that in Flotilla you move units around a 3D space while tackling foes. Also, Flotilla tasks you with creating and leading a fleet whereas FTL asks you to more closely manage a single ship. They are both interesting takes of the space roguelike formula that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Despite that recommendation there are two main criticisms that I have with FTL. The first issue is that many of the cruisers are downright impossible to unlock because they require an inordinate amount of luck. The exponentially slim chances of successfully accomplishing each step towards unlocking a single new cruiser is discouraging for a game that revels in the world of discovery and space exploration. Just reading over the steps you need to accomplish in order to unlock something like the Crystal Cruiser is slightly disheartening.
The second conundrum I face with the game is the same conundrum that Jeff faced last year when he placed FTL on his Game of the Year list; that issue being, I cannot for the life of me beat the Rebel Flagship. Part of this descends from my preferred play style, the use of droids and ion cannons, which I found to be woefully ill-suited for the Flagship. Indeed, the Flagship discouraged a lot of play styles that worked up until that point that I enjoyed using. Alas, sadism is also part of the course when it comes to roguelikes and it appears that just like Flotilla and previous games of this type I can honestly equivocate a liking of the game, despite never having completed it.
That all aside I enjoyed my time with FTL and plan on tinkering around with it more. Hopefully the bits and pieces that haven’t yet “clicked” with me soon will, and I can revel in the steaming hunk that is a defeated Rebel Flagship.
I had a minor debate with myself in regards to whether I wanted to write about this or A Virus Named Tom, two games that I spent a decent amount of time with, but developed a distaste for as I progressed with them. Now I say all of this to prep you for a very controversial statement. Neptune’s Pride is Risk, but slower and with a lot of spreadsheets. This is a problem for me for one main reason.
That reason being that
Risk is a giant lie. It values luck and die rolls over legitimate strategy. People who like Risk enjoy it because they have ONE good experience and think they can repeat that experience in another playthrough, impressing all those that oppose them. However, reality comes crushing down and usually in your follies you are out of the game in the first ten turns because you couldn’t get more than two states in a single continent. That and you are that one unlucky guy that got effed over before the first round and now someone is turtling Australia. That isn't strategy; that is chaos disguised as strategy. Chaos does fine in certain games, but strategy is not one of them. I am not dismissing the idea of games where a player can win against outstanding odds. No, that should always be an option or possibility in any good strategy game, but that should be a result of maneuvering tactics, tactical errors committed by an opponent, better equipped units, or Hell evenly Godly abilities work for me.
Now let’s talk about Neptune’s Pride II. Now let me further delay my stunning description of the game with a little backstory. This was all Sweep’s idea. The little British hamburger likes holding Giant Bomb mod gaming events and decided to try a browser based space Risk game that would take DAYS to complete. Part of the reasons why I joined was due to seeing the staff have a bunch of fun with Pathfinder, and as a result I was up for playing a board game with some friends.
So Neptune’s Pride did not tap into that goodwill in the way I had hoped. It was, as already mentioned, a slower more droll version of Risk. Just like Risk on multiple occasions I lost major battles despite having superior numbers and technology. However, whereas in Risk you have the dice to blame, Neptune’s Pride doesn't even share its logic behind why battles unfolded the way they do. You wait until the battle has finished and await a notification to pop up in your “Events” tab where it finally reveals the results of your engagement. It is…how do I put it…a giant cock tease. You take all of the effort to create the factories to make the ships and buy the carriers to move them and you are rewarded with…an event notification. To say that the most fundamental aspect of Neptune’s Pride is deflating is an understatement.
Another issue that I have with the game is its time commitment. Researching technology to make your space empire more efficient takes hours, and the simple act of moving around the map to deal with invasions takes days. Worse yet the game penalizes you for fundamental parts of the gameplay. Creating alliances for example costs $150 whereas carriers, which move your armies around the cost $25. That last number may not sound significant, but consider the fact that in order to actual move your army you have to spend in-game currency. The end result of all of this is a long gaming experience that is better suited to the Civilization franchise. It takes forever to do anything, and by the time you make even the most inane accomplishment, you are again only rewarded with a notification.
I guess part of my dissatisfaction came with how my fellow “peers” conducted themselves. For example, at one point MB couldn't log into his account and his empire went into AI administration. So all of his neighbors got free planets with relative ease. I on the other hand was locked into a bitter battle with the squid aliens which I later discovered were led by none other than the nefarious Sweep. HOWEVER, by the fifth day everyone’s patience had been worn thin and more and more players dropped out from the match completely. By the end it was just Chaser324 and I and he was able to gobble up another empire to finally end our suffering. I can’t recommend this to anyone. It bored my friends and myself to tears, and even my attempt at roleplaying subsided when I realized that no one was even close to winning four days in.
Oh and by other stuff I mean anime. Right now I'm watching Kill la Kill, which many of you already know about from the inordinate number of animated .gifs from it that have been posted on the internet. If only the show was always a .gif factory. I currently feel conflicted about the show. I love the action and the way it subverts the fanservice trope. I don't like it heavy handedness and pacing. In this first season there have been two episodes that have resulted in me reacting violently, one which resulted on my posting a four paragraph rant about why I did not like it. However, I keep watching it, because I KNOW it's going to "turn." This show is of course from the minds that created Gurren Lagann...so there's going to be a major "turn," that I am confident about. It's just a matter of when, and how. Even if the "turn" is bad I want to see it and as such I'm watching it consistently. If the show starts doing stupid stuff like making it official that Senketsu is Matoi's dead father, as hinted during the last episode, I'll just move onto to Samurai Flamenco, because that looks like some anime ass anime.
I guess that's one of the reasons why I like Kill la Kill. It's an anime ass anime, and revels in it.