Archive for the ‘Editorials’ Category
I game in Australia on the off chance that anyone that reads this site doesn’t already know. I want to have a little rant that is fairly common to hear from Australians on this here Blagosphere. Here is a brief dummy spit on the price of games and an example of a once abusive relationship turned boring and now only abusive out of habit.
Disclaimer: Post contains words you would not take home to mother ranted by some kind of bad man. Read at your own discretion.
In my campaign to write with some frequency on the forums I have been taking topics on from people in our IRC channel by demanding it from someone when they say something at an inopportune moment because I like to just be demanding for not particularly good reason. This is the results of one such scenario suggest out of left field by someone else. Beaten at my own game there I suppose.
Disclaimer: Post contains words of a vulgar and disgraceful nature by some kind of filthy swearmonger. Read at your own discretion.
Even among RPGs, a misnomer genre descended from dice-aided storytelling guided by dense tomes of lore differentiated by setting, games that truly put a well-developed setting first and focus on how the player characters work in the world around them are vanishingly rare. Whether because the usual tropes are shoved into the framework of an existing setting, or because elements of the setting are simply afterthoughts, it’s exceptional to find a case where the setting and story work symbiotically. The biggest and most consistent of these exceptions is Suikoden, Konami’s long-running and distressingly ignored RPG series. Taking elements from a classical Chinese folk story, each game takes place in a small region of a larger world, following the tale of a hero’s encounter with the True Runes, and subsequently the story of how they are swept into gathering the 108 Stars of Destiny and changing the fate of their nation.
Usually when we talk about a character being unbalanced, we mean that it makes the game less fun. Fox makes Smash Bros. Melee less fun; you either have to play Fox, play one of his counters, or get your ass handed to you by an experienced player. He’s flatly better than the rest of the cast and it makes the one of the big draws the the game, playing as your favorite Nintendo characters, less viable.
RPGs are different. Unlike the fighting game or the RTS, RPGs are and have always been a single player experience. So when a character is unbalanced in an RPG, and leaves the rest of the cast in the dust, all that means is the game just got easier. And while having one character take the challenge out of a game might be frustrating, all of us have days where we say to ourselves “I want to snap something like a twig. Do things so unholy the world itself shall tremble!”
And some great characters for doing just that might be…
It’s common in video games to wear themes on the sleeve. Whether because the writers are less experienced, or because it’s meant to be accessible to a wide range of ages and backgrounds, or because there’s something about the format which makes the lessons and ideas of a game’s story pop out a little more, who can say. Once in a while though you find a game with layers, themes upon themes, that examine the interplay between multiple core concepts rather than building a single central theme into a particular experience. Such a case, I think, is L.A. Noire, the game of corruption and deception.
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Back when the PSP was young, earlier games in the Legend of Heroes series were released for it. They looked like drab, boring little games, and it wasn’t until several years later that I bothered with the system. But now, in what we should really think of as coming from beyond the grave, a new Legend of Heroes game quite unlike the others has arrived. For starters this is an XSeed release, and I’ve learned that XSeed doesn’t give us a game if they’re not willing to stand by it and play it themselves. But more than that, just looking at the game reminds me a great deal of Skies of Arcadia, and I know that sort of high-flying, never say die spirit is something I really miss in my RPGs in recent days. Of course, that’s just looking at a box. How fair a judgment can be made from this cover? Read on.
First off, I’d like to apologize for this review being over a week late. A few things came up that prevented me from writing the review as well as I wanted, including needing to play through the game again and watching EVO. My next review should be out of the door a bit faster than this one, and I don’t intend on making these delays a habit. And with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the next game, Shadow Complex.
In doing the Thematics series, it’s important to remember that video games rarely use trained writers. At times this works out; while the people behind Final Fantasy aren’t writers by trade, they clearly has some idea of the process, and in the end it’s simply easier for a non-professional like myself to sift through the work. Other times? If we’re honest, we have to admit that there are no deeper meanings or threads binding the stories together, at least not in the mind of the fellows putting dialogue together. But of course, humans as an animal are if nothing else pattern seekers, and as such it’s entirely possible to come away from a nominally shallow story with much the same sort of impression as one clearly written with advanced technique in mind.
This brings me to today’s subject, the Chrono Series. When I considered my next project, people immediately recommended Chrono Cross, because “you can talk about CC at the drop of a hat anyway”. Which is probably a fair point, but I don’t think the failings of Chrono Cross at the writing level mean much without talking about Chrono Trigger. But in considering CT as its own article, I was unsure the game was actually written to have strong central themes. So in what follows, I’m not entirely sure if I’m stretching in order to strengthen my point later or seeing a legitimate aspect of Chrono Trigger’s story, but I think you’ll agree it makes a lot of sense and fits with what’s in the game.
Disclaimer: This review column won’t delve into RPGs much. However, I still feel that I should do these reviews for a reason.
Lots of people in our community have been obtaining 360s and PS3s as of late, and I still see remarks from various people about how there are few games that are any good on the platforms. I feel that this is not an accurate statement, and above all ignores a prominent sector of both console’s libraries: the digital distribution network. There are actually a pretty decent number of good games on both XBLA and PSN, which are easy to overlook if you’re not intimately familiar with both services. This review column was an idea I had to help alleviate this problem, to shed light on notable games on the service and hopefully convince people of what these services have to offer. I plan on updating this column once every two weeks, so that I can have time to ensure the individual reviews will be of quality.
Without further ado, here is the first review. This game I believe represents what both services are capable of, and that game is Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.