ArbitraryWater's forum posts

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@seventytwotransformations: FWIW I like the Beastmen in actual combat, given how much of their strategy revolves around winning in the initial rush. Malagor’s leadership debuffs make it extra fun when you win with a big stupid rout. But their campaign gameplay is booty, especially since they still have the broken, terrible version of the Waagh mechanic.

I do wonder if Creative Assembly considers a potential Beastmen rework too much of a resource sink versus the attach rate of the DLC. They’re the least played faction by a significant margin, and unlike the Wood Elves their roster is notably incomplete. Still, with WoC getting inevitably reworked as part of this third game I think it would... stick out in a really awkward way if the beasties were left untouched?

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

#2  Edited By ArbitraryWater

Oh boy, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Welcome back to the forums. They’re not especially active these days. Nowadays the kids use the discords and whatnot, but I’m still here posting my dubious RPG takes because I don’t know where else to put them.

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

I streamed all of Devil May Cry 2 for charity a few weeks ago, and that was after dealing with an hour of Mighty No. 9. I'm happy my suffering was apparently worth it.

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

You know, as a fellow blogger of Dubious Video Games, I've very seriously considered buying a copy of this game because I'm broken inside and it seems like it'd be funny to goof on during a stream. As a fairly big DMC/Bayonetta/Ninja Gaiden fan, the concept of "The Wheel of Dubious Character Action Games" has absolutely found some amount of space in my head. Between something like this, Ninja Blade, Garshasp... and uh, Bullet Witch? Dirge of Cerberus? there's a lot of "material" out there, especially from the late 00s/early 2010s.

But actually, given how much this game is apparently just an even edgier (and worse) God of War imitator, what if I just played actual old God of War games and rolled my eyes at those instead? Thanks for doing this. I salute you as a comrade in arms.

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@chamurai: Oh if I end up playing/streaming the Suikoden games I *have* to go for all 108 stars of destiny, right? Like, that's a bad choice that's going to happen, especially in the earlier games where there are easily miss-able characters hanging out behind an invisible wall or something.

@mento said:

Those are certainly two games from those two franchises. I guess when you call your series "The Wheel of the Dubious" you gotta go for the black sheep. This entry (and the PS3 store closure) did inspire me to finally get started on Graces F though, so a tentative "thanks" for that one - we'll see once I've played more of it. (Speaking of old Sony console games and the digital shutdown, I have to see about picking up some US PSN codes somewhere and grabbing all the PS1/PS2 Classics worth getting before they vanish...)

Good luck with Star Ocean 3. I don't bounce from RPGs I'm midway through too often, but that really started to get unplayable at some point. I'm guessing you won't get far enough in to reach where I stopped though, luckily for you. Just remember to hug those borders.

You know me. I can hardly spend my time with *beloved* installments in long-running RPG franchises. Suikoden II? PFFFT. I was tempted to do Graces F instead of Zesty, because the idea of playing through the first two hours as a bunch of snot-nosed kids seems like #dubiouscontent, but after this stream I felt like I made the right decision.

@efesell said:

I think aside from just the general playing of a PS2 JRPG in 2021 I don't think there's a lot of dubiosity inherent to Star Ocean 3. It's mostly just got good bones like most of the Star Oceans.... until after 3.

4 and 5 though, hoo boy. That series sunsets in a real unfortunate way.

it turns out the most dubious thing about Star Ocean 3 right now is the idea that Square is asking $21 for the slightly-retouched version on PSN. Apparently it never goes on sale either, so... never say I haven't made the absolute worst choices for the sake of this blog. I made 30 cents in Twitch ad revenue for all of February.

Honestly knowing what I know about Star Ocean IV and V, those sound like they could be more "quality" candidates. I mostly just picked this one because I know the twist and it's... a lot.

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@brian_: I mean, to be fair, that Superfly song is the only thing that has remotely stuck in my brain and I played that game *this week.* Well, that and my general incredulity at how they pronounced "Sorey."

@relkin said:

4 is definitely a weird place to jump into that series; it's effectively them just backpedaling after 3. They dumped basically everything that 3 brought to the series, from returning to 2's tactics strategy sequences, dumping the broken skill system, going back to something closer to the franchises normal combat system as opposed to the weird pairing thing from 3, and even went so far as to put as much in world time from the events of 3 as they could. Luckily for you, two of the three remaining games in that series you haven't played are phenomenal, and the first is totally alright (and short, like less than twenty hours short), so you've got some good games ahead of you. But...what if...

What if you just started playing Xillia again? what if you just started playing xillia again what if you just started playing xillia againWHAT IF YOU JUST STARTED PLAYING XILLIA AGAIN

Yeah, it sounds like the one Suikoden I played was the weird experimental one. The good news in that case, I guess, is that it's been almost nine years and quite frankly I don't remember most of the specifics anyway. Given its short length, I think I might push for a Suikoden 1 playthrough for the podcast sometime this year, ZP willing.

Also what if instead of starting to stream Shadow Hearts Covenant this month once I finish Xenosaga, I just picked up my Xillia save from February of 2019. I'm sure I'll be able to pick it all back up super easily. Punch doctor backstep evade go brrrr.

@heelbill said:

If I was looking to try to play through my first Tales game, and I am not willing to go as far back as Symphonia, What is my best bet?

Seems like it would be between Vesperia and Berseria, right?

I will fully admit that I am no Tales of Expertia, but based on my limited experience those seem like the two to start with, yeah, especially if we're talking about modern consoles. Symphonia was fine when I played it almost three years ago (wait, three years ago? oh no) but there's no getting around how much it does feel like a PS2-era JRPG with some of its inconveniences and quirks. The PC port is also... quite bad in the "Durante had to make a fix for it" sense. Similarly, for as much as I will go to bat for Xillia in spite of its... limitations, I'm also not going to make anyone drag out a PS3 who isn't me. Not just for that game, at least.

There's no way that Graces F's story is dumber than Xillia. I mean is it dumb? Yes, it is. But Xillia's is both the craziest story I've encountered in a JRPG outside of Final Fantasy VIII, and also has characters doing things that make zero sense.

Graces F's story is just standard JRPG levels of dumb.

I thought Graces F was a pretty fun game. The characters weren't wonderful but they were decent enough, and the combat is pretty darn good. By contrast I kind of disliked Xillia.

What I know about Graces F sounds boneheaded and dumb in a way that sounds only marginally more interesting than Zestiria, but I've watched enough combo videos to go "oh I think I see why people might like this one." I was actually musing picking it over this for the wheel, but I figured Zestiria was more universally disliked.

I might eventually write something up about Xillia if I do get around to finishing it and/or playing its oft-derided sequel, but hot damn you can tell it was definitely the threshold point around where the JRPG development scene was collapsing in on itself or going to portables. I also *really* like the combat and am vaguely into their sphere grid-ass leveling system.

@efesell said:

Suikoden IV is a fine game if you can survive sailing long enough to get your teleporter.

Zestiria though is never not boring. It’s dedication to being profoundly uninteresting is admirable. Damn I love Berseria though even if it reuses bad systems.

Good to know about Suikoden IV then, I guess. It sounds like we won't be doing Zestiria for the podcast, so that's at least one bullet dodged right there.

@mezmero said:

I've posted about it in other threads but last year was my first time playing any Tales games, namely playing Vesperia(Definitive Edition) and Berseria back to back. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them both. Sure there's some anime-ass nonsense but the kind that I can get behind. There's an 8 year gap between their releases but if you asked me I'd say that Vesperia has the edge in visual style whereas Berseria has the edge in the cast of characters. Although I enjoyed both games I'm not quite sure if I want to continue digging into this franchise as I've read mostly negative stuff about Zestria and mixed stuff about Xillia. And as well I'm not sure if I should be stoked about Tales of Arise which is meant to launch by year's end. Judging by the cover art it seems like it's meant to have dual protagonists. Whatever the case it'll be tough to top Velvet from Berseria, I was blown away by how much I loved her and her character arc.

The range of quality in Tales really does distinguish it from something like Dragon Quest, which seems remarkably consistent for something that pioneered an entire genre and survived mid-00s Square-Enix. I definitely thought it was going to be a franchise hole for me, but I think each installment is just a little too similar to each other for me to want to play more than one every few years.

I played a fair amount of Zestiria, but before that outside of Tales of Phantasia, I haven't played another Tales of, meaning that I had no point of reference. So, when I first played I sort enjoyed a lot, specially the over the top anime stuff, however I would agree with a slow pace maybe and some battles begin way too hard.

Suikoden is a curious case, I am almost curious, given the original work which the series is based on (the Water Margin or Outlaws of the Marsh), if later games, post I and II, have anything do to, expect the whole 108 Stars of Destiny. Also, I sort have this small theory, where high encounter rates, work slightly better when the visuals are way simpler, since everything is more fast than early 3D models. But, also I have to say, that encounter rate was way high that many old dungeon crawlers.

I definitely agree that a lot of older dungeon crawlers have notoriously high encounter rates, but that's often one of the reasons why I've bounced off a lot of them. Like, when I want to talk about why I like Etrian Odyssey so much, a lot of it has to do with the way it deftly balances its difficulty and power curves and also provides enough wiggle room so you're not just slogging your way through trash mob after trash mob.

PS: at some point I will play more Stranger of Sword City and I fully expect to get my ass kicked.

@genessee said:

I'll be nice and say GS4 was made under the assault of an ever-more draconian Konami board and that Zesteria has The Good Tales of Go Shiina Soundtrack.

That next game tho...hoo boy.

Star Ocean is absolutely one of those franchises I look at and go "how are there like five main series installments of this" in the same way that I've expressed incredulity about Onimusha. I've also seen enough of those games' english voice acting to know it'll probably be an entertaining stream in the same way Enchanted Arms was "entertaining."

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@lapsariangiraff: Hey, I just wanna say thanks for your post. I do think Thorton being a manipulative trash-person is absolutely canon, and in general I feel like the writing is a lot more... mean spirited than I remembered it being? Like, I know [FORMER PROMINENT RPG WRITER] has been outed as a manipulative scumbag himself, but I feel like there's a lot of that energy here.

FWIW, I also think you can absolutely still find merit in the game's ideas. I just found the execution way more abysmal than I remembered. Admittedly, I've played and derived more enjoyment from broken-ass weirdo games salvaged from the corpses of cancelled MMOs, so my tastes might be a little broken in this regard.

When I saw you playing this, I said something along the lines of, "I will hear no ill words spoken of this game!"

I would just like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize. To say this game has aged poorly is to insult the very concept of aging. Jesus Christ. This game always had that Obsidian jank; Obsidian jank plus not being a genre they specialize in plus a decade makes this particularly rough.

I'm gonna equip my rose-tinted glasses and not look too closely.

Eh, it's fine. I think there's still... merit to this game? Like, divorced from the fact that it's bad, it has a lot of good ideas. Makes you wonder how the Aliens RPG was going if this is the one that Sega decided to keep afloat.

@efesell said:

There is a single game in that list that I would say is just an unqualified Good Time and a bunch that I would I say "Now I like this game but don't play it."

@genessee said:

Ooooooooooooh there are some OOFs I've played on that list there.

This will be dubious indeed.

Sounds like a ringing endorsement to me! I'm genuinely curious what the big red flags are for the people here. For my part, I think the ones I'm most concerned about are also the ones that might require some... finagling to work properly. King's Quest VIII seems like a nightmare disaster after watching it on GDQ and realizing it was an RPG, while Konung seems... very Russian. In a way that might be fun, and might be disastrous. Oh, I guess Underworld Ascendant also exists, but I'm already aware of how much of a tire-fire that entire game's scope is.

Oh, and don't worry, if I can't get KQ8 and such to play nicely with OBS, I have... backup games.

@efesell said:

I have never understood how people came around to thinking Alpha Protocol was good actually. Like Matt Rories Alpha Protocol is a funny goof and all but man...this games bad.

I think it's absolutely a hindsight thing, because even I was like "you know there are things about Alpha Protocol that no other game does as well" before this playthrough, and I feel like I gaslit myself a little bit. I do think the game does reactivity super well, but... I think the general value I place on reactivity isn't what it used to be.

@efesell: I think it's because some people realize what the game could have been and then remember that as being the actual game rather than just unrealized potential.

@arbitrarywater: I agree about the cringy made-for-TV mid-2000's aspects of the game. Though I always wonder how Alpha Protocol would have turned out if the game had leaned less into trying to ape 24/Jason Bourne and went heavier into some of the sillier Metal Gear-like parts of the game.

The game absolutely leans towards schlock in a way that doesn't endear itself to me, especially when it starts treading its toes onto actual Bush-era Geopolitical stuff. I was gonna make a comparison to Burn Notice (which, IIRC, Jeff Gerstmann also made around the time of the game's release) but I think that'd be mean to Burn Notice. At least that show was episodic and extremely light and had Bruce Campbell.

This game always gets people giddy around these parts so i felt compelled to check it out a long chunk of time ago. There were definitly some cool ideas and i'm always up for spy-shit, but actually playing the game feels rough in a way that even a way older game like NOLF doesn't.

Having played NOLF recently, on stream, I think I'd rather play that than AP, despite my general sense from those first few hours that... it maybe doesn't hold up so great either? Eh, maybe I'll play some NOLF 2, see how that one compares. The Wheel of Dubious FPSes sure is a topic that has been floated around, unironically.

@relkin said:

That was a fun playthrough, quality of the game aside. That list of games for the wheel has me interested, and while I really don't think some of the stuff on that list is dubious at all, I guess that's for you to find out.

I'm really curious about the combat in Tales of Zestiria. Tales of Xillia (the game before it) was such a significant step forward for the franchise in terms of both the second to second combat and companion AI, and has made returning to anything released before it a struggle to play. If nothing else, I do hope they keep the Linking System (overhaul to companion AI).

Tales of Xillia *did* have very good combat, and at some point I'm thinking of doing a "Load Our Last Save" sort of dealio for it and seeing how much I can remember from my 30 hours in save file.

Zestiria, for what it's worth, sounds like the combat is fine and everything else is the problem. I don't think you can link, but the main character can basically Fusion with most of the other party members? I opted for it over Graces F, partially because it sounds like we're gonna be playing it for the podcast soon, and partially because that game is notorious for having "the best combat in a Tales game and the absolute worst story"

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

Greedfall is now on Game Pass, and my brother has played it and said it's not bad, so I'm planning on trying it out.

I saw you playing Matt Rorie's Alpha Protocol on stream the other day but wasn't able to watch, I just gotta say, if you speak ill of that game, we will have words.

Free on GamePass or PS+ is the most acceptable price for Greedfall, all things considered.

So uh, when was the last time you played Alpha Protocol? :))))

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@relkin said:

Good stuff, man. Got to cross a number of things off of my "I have this on GOG for some reason; i should probably try it out at some point" list, by watching you struggle with it in my stead. That being said, NWN2 is still something I need to play, just probably not this expansion.

The one thing you're missing here is a definitive ranking of the games you've played. Don't know what criteria you would rank them on (dubiousness? quality? "quality"?), but it seems like the thing to do.

Oh, that Definitive Ranking already exists. It's right here, but you're right that I should've linked it directly in the blog. The list is basically how much fun I had, which I'm not sure has anything to do with actual quality.

@genessee said:

Thanks for doing this. I've been expanding alot of computer gaming history (this and J-computers of the 80s and 90s) so getting some deep dives on some deep cuts has been rad.

PS: ToT, Staglands, and especially Dragon Quarter are aces. Enjoy!

Yeah, excited to check out some actual good stuff after spending the last 6 months playing, uh, not as good stuff. Tower of Time was definitely a real "I played like 3 hours of this game and really enjoyed it, then didn't touch it again for whatever reason." while Staglands was a lot of me being very into that game's entire deal but never getting very far.

Avatar image for arbitrarywater
ArbitraryWater

15950

Forum Posts

5508

Wiki Points

291

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 58

@accolade said:

I got Septerra for like $1 at Big Lots(?) in '99. The only memory I have was that the dialogue language kept changing and I had so many game breakers in the first hour that I couldn't play it.

This is the first post I've seen anyone talk about it.

A ringing endorsement for The Wheel of Dubious RPGs if ever I've read one. The Streaming/Blog series that plays and writes about the games BIG TWITCH is too "mainstream" and "remotely relevant" to play.

Yeah Septerra Core is definitly a grind. I remember killing a few of the earlier enemies and then going to the shop to see if i could buy anything good.. and you see stuff being offered for humongeous amounts of currency that aren't even close to the realm of possible purchases. Like i feel i never bought more than 1 big weapon despite at least spending 8-ish hours in total on that game. But man, i didn't play FF7 yet so i was blown away by the concept of a world with different shells and how that seperates the poor from the rich. And that overworld let you peek through the clouds onto the lower shell at times, which felt like an exciting sneak peek on future environments. Given that i first played this game as a demo, that kind of made it feel like i was able to see more of the game than a demo should let me do :P

I also thought the card system graphically looked quite spectacular. The combination aspect made the mind wonder how many cool summon-combo's there actually were in this game. Septerra Core also does a good job in differentiating the characters visually, while at the same time they still all fit into that steampunky 'junker' vibe.

Maybe i should play through this game sooner or later. I have a weird fondness for most Monolith games after all.

Well, you're definitely the person who was the most positive on Septerra Core when I mentioned it in the discord, so clearly the game did its job for a certain facet of people. Once you get past the obvious paralells to Final Fantasy VII, it seems like it's one of the more "well-made" games I've played for this feature, but my patience for slow JRPG battles extends only so far these days. If I'm going to invest in something like that for the long haul, it'll probably be something a little weirder.