Announcing the Wheel of Dubious RPGs: An Exercise in Justifying Poor Choices

First off, I want to thank anyone who tuned into my Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run streams and/or donated. It was (mostly) a lot of fun and I managed to raise $500 for COVID-19 relief. You can find a playlist of my archived stream here. Unfortunately, I forgot to hit record for part of it, and I still need to do some editing before I upload my day 2 stream, but if you really want to watch multiple hours of me dying horribly in Temple of Elemental Evil, then doing marginally better in Wizardry 8 while talking about the Total War franchise with GB Moderator ZombiePie, you can certainly do that. However, the thing that has actually stuck with me the most is my final stretch goal, also known as:

The Wheel of Dubious RPGs

Like anyone who has had a Steam and GOG account for about a decade, it’s fair to say I have some random-ass shit dwelling in both libraries, most of it gained from earlier years of ill-advised sale purchases. My recent bad quarantine/stimulus check choices aside, (definitely gonna play through those lengthy PS2 JRPGs, just you wait) I’d like to think age, responsibility, and regret have led me to be more disciplined than I was during the dark era of Steam mega-sales with those daily and hourly deals. We live in a civilized age now, where everything is the same price for the duration of the sale and you can refund things. Also, I kinda already bought everything I wanted to buy around 2010-2014

I spent a non-inconsequential amount of time trying to make Lionheart play nicely with OBS, and I clearly can't let that effort go to waste
I spent a non-inconsequential amount of time trying to make Lionheart play nicely with OBS, and I clearly can't let that effort go to waste

However, the random-ass shit remains, forever entombed in the “hidden” portion of my libraries, never seeing the light of day… until quarantine drove me crazy enough to consider streaming video games on the internet. Despite having less time and less patience for the old and obscure than I used to, the idea of leveraging what I had on hand for the sake of charity sounded like a fun stretch goal. Unfortunately, I’ve accidentally invested too much thought and energy into it now and you’re forced to reap the results. Every week, I will spin the wheel and stream the game chosen by its dark power, and I’ll probably end up writing something up about it if I feel so inclined. I think it’s a fun gimmick for streaming and gives me a consistent concept to follow, which is probably more exciting than just playing something hot and cool and relevant. (also sometimes I will stream things that are hot and cool and relevant)

Now, at this point you’re probably wondering: What constitutes a “dubious” RPG anyway? The metascore? The obscurity? The cult following? Well, in the legendary words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: “I know it when I see it.” Dubiosity is more than a measure of quality, it’s a measure of being. Not everything currently on the wheel is a burning trash fire, although I have to say I’ve found some choice installments of otherwise beloved RPG franchises that should make for good internet television. I’ve actually been on the record as saying I like some of them (Might and Magic IX might be a blatantly unfinished mess, but it’s still Might and Magic) but my point is that you’re not going to be finding any Fallouts or Baldur’s Gates over here (well, I could play Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel but that just seems like a bad time). I’ve also mostly kept to stuff I already own and can stream on PC, although my copy of Greedfall is on PS4 and I’m more than willing to expand to console stuff and JRPGs if we get to that point.

With that said, here's my little write-up about the first game to make it off the wheel and onto my bad choice computer screen.

Rise of the Argonauts

No Caption Provided

Release Date: December 16, 2008 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Developer: Liquid Entertainment

Time Played: A little under 5 hours

Dubiosity: 2 out of 5

Would I play more? Genuinely considering a full playthrough.

It was fortunate that this was the first game the wheel landed on (well, after Soulbringer broke everything and soft-locked my computer) because Rise of the Argonauts was the original inspiration for it in the first place. I wasn’t expecting the wheel to land on it again during my stream yesterday, but so the wheel wills, so it shall be. An action-RPG thrown out in the cold, barren mid-December from a developer more known for their RTS work, Rise of the Argonauts (also known as “The Adventures of Jason and Thicc Hercules”) has sat in my steam library for ages, untouched and unplayed until the wheel fatefully selected it. I have to assume I got it in a humble bundle at some point, because I had zero clue what it was until I actually started playing. It turns out that it’s… cut-rate Greek Mythology Mass Effect? Jason’s gotta get that Golden Fleece, there are three different locations he needs to go to, all while assembling a Bioware-esque team of fellow mythological figures and making dialogue choices that are attuned to four different gods of Olympus (Ares is Renegade, Apollo is Paragon, Athena is Lawful Neutral, and Hermes is clever.) There’s not exactly a huge emphasis on meaningful choices, but there sure is a lot of talking and some of the side quests feel like they come straight out of a mid-2000s Bioware game.

Beef HardSlab! Rip ChiselChest! Big McLargeHuge!
Beef HardSlab! Rip ChiselChest! Big McLargeHuge!

So, here’s the thing: I think this game might be totally alright. Perhaps it’s the skewed curve I’m working with here, but in spite of the obvious budget limitations, bad combat, and extremely 2008 PC port, I was having a genuinely okay time streaming Rise of the Argonauts. It has some neat ideas, like its leveling system being about dedicating your accomplishments to the gods, and thus far I’ve found the writing entirely acceptable by that mid-00s Bioware standard (the VA cast includes a bunch of veteran voice actors, such as Steve Blum, Cam Clarke, and Bioware regular/FemShep herself, Jennifer Hale), even if the occasionally bad line read or the unemotive character models takes me out of it. If nothing else, it only has a two on the dubiosity scale (dubiometer?) because there’s not very much bullshit for me to deal with between the talking, fighting, and occasional random crashes. Equipment is streamlined, leveling is straightforward, and there’s nary a half-assed mechanic or obnoxious subsystem in sight. What you see is what you get, essentially, and I think at this point I might just play more of it regardless of if it pops up again on the wheel or not because my priorities are a mess. Also Mutton Chops Hercules is hilarious and I will never stop goofing on the design they went with.

You can find the archive of my most recent stream on my twitch channel, and I’m intending on recording and archiving all of my streams on Youtube after this point. If you'd like to join in on my bad times, I'm planning on streaming 2-3 times a week for the foreseeable future (I'll figure out a more consistent schedule at some point, but for now following me is probably the easiest way to know when I'm doing stuff)

Next Game: Lands of Lore III