When I was in high school, I participated in a student film that myself and some friends made. It was called "The Pirates of the Seas of Time" and told the tale of a group of silly pirates who had a staircase on their ship that would randomly summon characters from different eras of history. The first mate on the ship was named Shivered McTimber, or Shivy for short, and he wore a baseball cap and wielded a golf club; both of which he found had materialized on the deck of the ship during one of the 'time storms' that made their ship special.
One of my favorite games of all time is “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, commonly referred to simply as “Skyrim”. It is the fifth game in the long running Elder Scrolls series of games that deal with a huge fantasy world, full of elves, orcs, humans, lizardmen, cat-people, and more. Each game in the franchise has focused on a different region of the world, but Skyrim is one of the most exciting provinces to date; spanning the frigid northern part of the continent, and including environments ranging from frozen tundras, to snowy mountain peaks, to damp bogs, to forest paths.
The game’s story begins with an unnamed character being carted off to his or her execution for being “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and being associated with a wanted criminal who killed Skyrim’s last king. As you are about to be executed, a dragon suddenly attacks. No one in the world has seen a dragon for thousands of years. In the confusion you escape, and from that point on, you are free to explore this gigantic world.
The world is populated with numerous villages, cities, caves, fortresses, and ancient ruins. As you explore, you begin to uncover a prophecy that tells of the return of the dragons and the end of humanity. In the past when the dragons were subjugating or destroying the people of the world, a defender would be born known as the Dovahkiin, or “Dragonborn”; a warrior with the soul of a dragon, who is able to destroy the monsters permanently. The Dragonborn is sent on a quest to discover a way to defeat Alduin, the dragon-lord, and save the people of Skyrim from total destruction.
There are also many other things to do in the world besides following the main questline and saving the people. There are guilds you can do quests for and rise to leadership positions of. These include the Thieves Guild in the “mafia-run” city of Riften, The battle-hardened Companions of Whiterun, The Mage College of Winterhold, and the illusive Dark Brotherhood assassins guild. Along with all that, there are hundreds and hundreds of side quests you can complete in order to help people in various cities, or to acquire ancient and powerful weapons to help you in your mission to destroy the dragons.
Throughout the game, you’ll fight a variety of enemies that inhabit the wilds of the province of Skyrim. One of the most exciting enemies you’ll encounter are dragons: ancient beings resurrected by the evil dragon-lord, Alduin. Fighting these enemies is dynamic and incredibly exhilarating as they fly around, land on buildings and rocks, and breath fire or ice while trying to destroy you. When you finally bring one of the dragons down, it feels very rewarding.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game for me, is simply exploring the fully-realized and enormous world of Skyrim. There are so many interesting places to discover, that sometimes my favorite thing to do is to just wander the landscape, and explore any forts, dungeons, or caves that I come across. Most of the time, they will be filled with bandits, trolls, or evil wizards. You can spend a ton of time just exploring these interesting and beautiful locations, without even contributing to the overarching quest to stop Alduin. You can also buy a house in any of the major cities, become Thane under the Jarl’s in each of their holds, and even find a wife and get married! To top it off, there’s also a major questline involving picking a side in the civil war going on in Skyrim, and leading that respective army to victory; thus unifying the province. There really is a massive number of things to do in this world.
In conclusion, this is a game I would recommend to anyone. It’s fun to play, and very rewarding to explore. The combat is satisfying and varied (You can use swords, shields, bow-and-arrows, magic spells, axes, or hammers). As Dragonborn, you also have the ability to “Thu’um” or Shout at your enemies, using the ancient dragon language to forcibly push enemies away, breathe fire or frost, and even slow down time! Very fun, indeed.
My history began with this game the day it was released. My actual playing of it, however, did not.
Grim Fandango was a very highly anticipated adventure game from the core team of adventure game creators at Lucasarts, the video game devision of Lucasfilm Ltd. It was released the day before Halloween in 1998, and told a surreal but epic noir-styled storyline (in the vein of the Maltese Falcon), set in the world of the dead, heavily inspired by artwork created in association with the Dia de los muertos celebrations in Mexico. At the time that I purchased it, the game required 32MB of RAM to play. I only had 8. The game would frequently lock up, and be unplayable because my computer did not meet the minimum requirements to play it. A year or so later, after I had the opportunity to upgrade my computer, I was finally able to play the game that had tempted me for so very long
The main character of the game, Manuel Calavera (or 'Manny' for short) begins the game as a reaper, shepherding a poor dead soul to the land of the dead. As it turns out, he's little more than a travel agent, attempting to pay off debts he accrued in life by working for the Department of Death in the afterlife. From this downtrodden platform, he stumbles across an elaborate conspiracy that has been robbing the honest souls entering the afterlife of their just dues, as well as thieving Manny of the lucrative clients he deserves to help him pay off his community service debts.
The game stretches across 4 years, and introduces the protagonist Manny to a vast array of intriguing and amusing characters, including the loud and brash Glottis, a “travel spirit” whose existence relies on driving very, very fast. There’s also an old sea captain, a cranky TSA agent, a very unlucky French butler, a determined man attempting to cross the ocean floor on foot, and a Che Guevara-inspired revolutionary. Meeting and interacting with the intriguing characters is most of the fun of this epic game, as Manny Calavery attempts to solve the mystery of who is behind the nefarious scheme to steal honest souls’ tickets on the “Number 9”, a train that can ferry the souls of the dead to the land of eternal rest in 4 minutes instead of the 4 years the journey might take otherwise.
Most of the characters in the game are modeled after calacas skeletons which are common in Dia De Los Muertos celebrations. Other characters in the game are closer to typical 'Tim Schaefer' fare: bizzare anthropomorphic bee-men, orange monsters, and vampiric fire-beavers. There are many puzzles to solve, and sinister forces to stop.
The charm and inventiveness of the world is what made the experience so endearing to me. The locations and story were just so unique and creative, that it made me want to learn more about Dia De Los Muertos, and about South American history and culture. The game was funny too. The dialog was sharp and witty, and a joy to experience.
I've really been enjoying my time with the GiantBomb server here. This is a group of really creative people, and it's as much a pleasure to simply wander around the world and look at all the things people have built, as it is to build in the world and join in the fun. Thank you all for making this Minecraft server so pleasant and pleasurable.
Of course the game hasn't aged well, but at the time I played it, back in high school, it really felt poignant and influential to me. I'm sure now that the thematic stories within the game were so resonant with me was because of the things I was going through at the time. Looking back at the game now, it's apparent that the narrative was really multiple ideas for a plot all conjoined by loose threads; the kind of storytelling that I feel Square has learned how to do better since. All in all, the game really is a product of it's time. There's new art direction, new systems to play around in, and a new interesting take on a 'stylistically modern' fantasy RPG.
This is disappointing news, as I have been greatly looking forward to this feature. In the meantime, I continue on my quest to catch them all. I'm hoping the dream world stuff will create an opportunity to catch some more difficult Pokemon.