Cthulhu and Bad 16-Bit Nostalgia

Cthulhu Saves The World has done pretty well for itself since its release on steam [http://zeboyd.com/2011/07/18/zeboyd-games-revenue-from-steam-exceeds-1yr-xblig-revenue/]. Part of me thinks this is great, especially for the developer, but another part of me is annoyed by the hype the game seems to have garnered. The game is a basic 16-bit era role-playing game that adds contemporary necessities, such as a save-at-anytime feature, and puns the genre as much as presenting another entry into the epic-type story landscape.

This is the wrong type of nostalgia. If something is worth remembering about JRPG’s, isn’t the contrived storylines that repeat themselves in each new offering. What is worth honoring is the sense of adventure and the mechanics that made the endless bashing of monsters appeasable, if not outright fun. Case in point: while most would agree that Final Fantasy VIII had a more compelling story than FF7 managed to produce [a great memorial on FF 8’s story and other improvements: is found here:http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/70336-remembering-the-orphan-final-fantasy-viii/ ], FF7 was infinitely more loved in part due to the fact that the Materia system worked much better than the broken magic system its sequel introduced.

What killed the JRPG is the same adherence to traditional functionality structure that has recently destroyed the music-game genre is stagnating the Call of Duty type of first-person shooters. I wish Zeboyd games all the best, but what I want out of my RPG re-hashes aren’t the same old fighting system with a bit of a tune-up. That is not the reason why I remember the 16-bit era nor should it ever be. It is this type of misplaced nostalgia that killed the genre in the first place, stagnating everything into poorly made rip-off of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Indeed, examples of recent RPG’s that have lauded critical acclaim and good sales are the games that have kept the sense of adventure the genre is so well known for while completely overhauling the dated combat system: DQ IX, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, Persona 3. Instead, what is referenced as a time honored tradition in releases such as Cthulhu Saves The Earth, and somewhat less recently Double Fine’s Costume Quest, is the antiquated battle system. Releases like this point out that it is the battle-system (and the inventory system, as well) that has been systemically retained in the consumers and developers minds as the indicator of a role-playing game, and it is this reason why we will never get to play English versions of some really cool and genre-innovating games like Last Story or Xenoblade. After all, they are RPGs, and those are boring.


Thoughts on DarkSpore

I played this game for roughly an hour and a half before it decided to completely freeze-up my computer. I lost all the progress I made. Anyways, the time spent playing has left me with some impression on what I liked and what I did not about the game.

What I liked: Player Customization
There are a 100 heroes to choose from (eventually...), much more than the usual 3 or 4 you might find in a dungeon crawler. Even better, because of the Spore creature editor, you can basically customize your heroes to be uniquely yours. Chances are that playing multi-player I am not going to run into someone who, even if they had the same team as me, had the same looking monsters. This is amazing.

The Dungeon crawling aspect is also competent. Which is exactly what I want out of this type of game.

What Sucks: The Stick with the Carrot on it is way too long and I can't really reach the carrot and now I'm not that hungry anymore so fuck you carrot

Dungeon Crawlers work because they offer immediate satisfaction of new loot and new upgrades to the character. The problem with DarkSpore is that a) you can't access the loot until after the level is over, and 2) there's no real character stats customization to speak of, at least in the hour and a half i played. When I leveled up I just got a new power for my creatures that I couldn't choose myself, and there were no points to distribute on a character sheet or anything of the type either; the progress just doesn't feel like I'm accomplishing anyways. And since I can't access loot until after a level, I have no drive to go on for the "1-more-turn" mentality of finding that one last rare item I really want.

End result, since the game crashed on me and I lost all progress, I have no real desire to ever start the game up again. Should I?


Let Us PLay Through Together (Part II)


This game is big. Way big. And I’ve played it for a few hours now and am absolutely in love with it. So if you’re reading this, be aware that I will be going through this and I will be talking about a lot of the story points. That said, this game has a lot of branching paths so chances are if you’re planning on playing it, you may see an entirely different journey and most definitely a very different ending.
I also won’t be talking about the battle-system very much, because If I do I will never ever stop writing. It is very customizable—as should be expected from an strategy rpg—and it rewards a lot of different playing styles and tactics. If anyone wants to know more specifically, I’ll be glad to share.
Now then…

Let Us Play Together Part 2 –

In which a game is set up, a duke is rescue and a hero is born…


Chapter 1: There is blood on my hands, how long till it lies on my heart?

We’ve met Ales, the hero. Let’s take a look at his two compatriots:


First, his sister Catiua:

She’s nineteen, likes long walks on the beach, healing magic, and generally acts as the voice of caution and reason; the real maternal type.  


Then there’s Vyce, the best friend:

 Vyce is 18, same as Ales, and a real hot-head.   He generally likes running off into battle heedlessly and is a real cry baby when things don’t go his way. But he’s got passion, and that’s what really counts.


So a year before the game starts, our three protagonists home village is attacked. Dark Knights came, and generally did as someone with such an omnious sounding name is wont to do: they burned the village, killed a bunch of people—including Vyce’s dad—and ran off with Papa Pavel (Pavel is the last name of Ales and Catiua…not by my choice).  



 Now, they’re back. Or at least the guy in charge of the attack, Dark Knight Lanselot is coming to town. Naturally, Ales and his good ole’ buddy Vyce are ready to take action.  


Turns out it’s a case of mistaken identity. It’s a different Lanselot entirely, calling card: Holy Knight. 

Way different than a Dark Knight. He doesn’t even have an eye-patch! And who knew Lanselot was such a common name?  
 He and his troops want money and Ales and his friends want to save their kidnapped Duke.  A plot is made, a rescue begins. 


But not before Catiua sister expresses her concern. Ales is all she has left, she doesn't want to lose him.

All I could think at this point is “I promise that I will never die.” (Team America ftw!)


So we save the Duke and become heroes. He wants us to join his army, and Vyce jumps on the idea answering for all three of us: The Order of the Fox Den is born!


Our first task: Aid the Captain of the Knights, Sir Lenoar, take care of some Necromancer...  

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Tactics Ogre: Let Us Play Through Together (Part I)

I bought this game and I have no time to play it. So I decdided, hey! let me share my progress.  So here is part I of my tactics ogre experience:
 in which a hero is born

When it comes to rpgs, especially ones that allow some semblance of a character creation and have multiple endings, I like to make up some sort of story for the dude. Tactics Ogre is such a game. it lets you answer a few quick questions at the start of a new game before venturing off and so I didst just that. 
I present my character: 
Ales (I love that name. I take it from Ales Hemsky--awesome nhl player--and I have a feeling that when the time comes for my first kid, that is the name I am going to be voting for. My future wife will hate me.)

Question 1: In the final reckoning, who will prove false? 
I answered my friends. As this is the beginning of Ales' story, he is a naive boy with dreams of fighting for the honor and virtue of his country; in short, he wants to be knight of fairy tales. It's always the best of friends who turn on the virtuous knights in the end.

Question 2: A fire engulfs your home. Whom do you save from the flames?
Ales saves his loved ones. He dreams of honoring his wife and children to no end, even above his siblings and parents.

Question 3: What do you seek in a lover?
Youth and Beauty. The hero always gets the hot girl. 
Question 4: All men hold darkness n their hearts. What lurks in yours?
Vengeance for my country.  Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. 

Question 5: In what thing do you stand above all others?
My looks. A hero has got to look good, right?
And so Ales sets off to start his journey...