January Recap/February Goals

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On the FFXIV front:

January Recap

  • After about 9 months and 300 hours later I’ve finally gotten myself through ARR. It’s not that I didn’t like the content or the story but I couldn’t decide what class I wanted to play, I had to try them all and after I found one I really liked and leveled to 50 I’d find another I  liked and start the process over. I really got to know all the ARR dungeons well after leveling a White Mage, a Bard, a Dragoon, and a Ninja to 50 before I completed the Main Scenario.

February Goals

  • Finishing the 2.XX content and getting into Heavensward: Its only been 3 months since I installed Heavensward, it’s about time I actually get to play it.
  • Level Monk to 42: I keep seeing that Mantra is a good cross class skill for a lot of dps classes.While I’m not particularly loving the pugilist right now it is fun to punch things and I’ll be using my Leveling Roulettes on this.

On the Backlog Front:

January:

  • I finished 3 games this month which is more than I’ve finished in a while. I now have Final Fantasy 1, Azkend 2: The World Beneath, and Risk of Rain under my belt.

February Goals

  • Finish a Steam game: I’ve been playing a lot of games on my PS4 and PS Vita but my steam backlog needs some love. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with my steam games organized by game length or not but there are some games on the sidebar that I’d like to play so I’ll probably pick one of those.
  • Start Final Fantasy 2

Matching Colors and Slining Arrows

I always forget that PS Plus gives me access to games every month and isn’t just payment to play online with my friends. Sure, I get excited and look at what’s coming next month to PS Plus and then I forget all about it. I end up remembering to add games to the library right before the next ones come out.. On the PS4 all you have to do is go to the PS Plus tab and hit “Add to Library” and the games are there for as long as PS Plus is active. They don’t even get downloaded to the console so it’s easy to forget about them As I result I haven’t actually played most of these games.

Since I’ve had the Vita I’ve grabbed a few games but they’ve stayed untouched as well. This weekend I saw that there were 4 Vita games this month and decided to try them out for once.

The Swindle

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This is a procedural generated rouge-lite stealth game. Scotland yard is about to developed a machine that will put an end to thievery in 100 days. Your goal as the leader of a band of burglars is to steal as much money as you can before the 100 days are up and hopefully destroy the machine all together. All of this with the steampunk setting and TONS of robots.

Each heist eats up one day even if you fail. If you fail you lose all the money you’ve collected in the level and you have to start over with a new thief. So far I haven’t noticed any differences in the thieves but I’ve only played the first 15 days or so. There are upgrades like the ability to hack computers, set bombs to blast through walls, and increase the difficulty for more money.

I like it so far and would like to try a full go of all 100 days at some point. The only real problem I have with the game is that some times there are rooms that are impossibe to get into or out of if you don’t have the right upgrade. This leads to having to cut ites with your employee and abandon them in a highly guarded warehouse and forfeit a day.

Azkend 2

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This game was my favorite out of the batch which I wasn’t expecting. It’s a match the colors game that utilizes the touch screen of the Vita. It plays a lot like a mobile game and it has a story mode and a few challenge modes.

This game took me by suprise. I fired it up not knowing what it was, saw it was a match the colors type of game and thought well I’ll try a level or two. 3 hours later I completed it and still wanted to play more.

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There are a variety of game modes that have you match as many of the same colored tile together as possible for different effects. One game mode has you match tiles near fog to get rid of it, one game mode has you match tiles near bugs to damage and squash them, and the classic mode has you match colors to turn all the tiles on the board over. The story starts off with a ship being pulled into a whirlpool and the woman on board discovers another world deep below the surface of the ocean. Every chapter has a few puzzles to complete to gather pieces of a tool that the MC needs to move forward. Each of these tools also becomes a power up for you to use later on.

After each chapter there is a scene depicted and you have to find specific details in the scene to get a bonus for the next chapter. Some of these were frustrating because a scene would be mostly grays and browns and it would want you to find a specific gray blob in the image but on some of the more colorful scenes this was a fun mini game.

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I’ve always liked puzzle games and matching games so I shouldn’t be surprised that I like this game so much. I think what threw me off was that this was for the Vita and not for my phone. It’s also on PS4 so I was curious to see what it had to offer. It was a solid game play experience from beginning to end and while some of the levels were challenging, nothing was impossible after experimenting with different power ups and passive skills. The story was even pretty good and the background art was awesome.

Titan Souls

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This is a streamlined rage factory. It’s in the same vein as Dark Souls and Furi where the extreme difficulty is part of the fun. Your tasked with taking down a whole temple full of bosses with your trusty arrow. Yes, just one. You can shoot the arrow and pull it back to you. If you’re touched by the boss it’s lights out and you can go back to the start and try again. Over and over again.

I didn’t care for this game. I got passed the first boss and tried the next 2 but I didn’t see any amount of fun to be had in the future. Especially since the area you start back at is just far enough away from the boss doors to make it annoying. It may also have been the control scheme on the Vita that I didn’t like and I’ll have to try it out on the PS4 to see if it’s any better. For now I can say this was my least favorite this month.

Day of the Tentacle

While I didn’t get around to trying this one out I’ve heard really good things about it and will have to make time this coming weekend to try it out.

 

 

Backlogged: Final Fantasy

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The story is relatively simple. Four warriors of light appear in the Kingdom of Coneria each holding a darkened orb. After meeting the the king sends them on a quest to rescue his daughter from the castle next door. Here the warriors fight Garland, an evil night, and save the princess. Once they return with her the king is inspired to build a bridge and the warriors of light go on their merry way. After roughing up some pirates and stealing their ship they go on a bunch of fetch quests until they learn about uniting the crystals to save the world.

After collecting all the crystals and defeating the big bad boss monster, my time with the first installment of Final Fantasy has come to an end. What can I say about such a classic game? I’m still not really sure I had fun playing this or if the curiosity of how games used to be got me through this.

There were parts I genuinely enjoyed. The first couple of areas were fun and scratched an itch for a really simple turn based combat game. I liked the first quest where the four heroes had to save a princess from Garland. The few adventures we had along the way were also really fun. Without a map I was stumbling around the wilderness just praying my heroes could survive until we saw town again. It probably took a lot of extra time but I think that was the best experience I had with this game

Some of the dungeons are tough as nails. I didn’t think an 8-bit rpg could give me so much anxiety. In Grugu Volcano after I defeated the boss my party was in bad shape. the white mage was dead we were down to our last precious health potions. As the party made its way back to the entrance the monk and the red mage were picked off. Enemies only hit my warrior for 1 damage each turn and he had a lot of health as long as he wasn’t poisoned. 3 squares from the exit a pack of adders spawned which poisoned the warrior and then destroyed his remaining health. That was an hour of playtime gone. It was disheartening but nothing a little grinding couldn’t solve.

It was around the 10 hour mark that my interest/enjoyment started to wane. It was right around the time I actually decided to follow a map. It’s frustrating when you don’t know where your going or who the last NPC was that had some useful information. The story became not so entertaining as I was flying from point to point on the map wondering  when I would run into the next crystal.

Around the 15 hour mark I was bored but it looked like I was almost to the final location so I buckled down and pulled up a walk through for the final dungeon. Even with a decently leveled party and full inventory of items I barely made it through on the first try. The walk through explained a lot like that the healing staff could be used as an item to lightly heal the whole group.

It also gave me a map of the dungeon which would not have been fun to figure out on my own. I know it’s an end game dungeon but there are so many dead ends. This final dungeon has you face all of the previous bosses and then the big bad horribleness. I almost lost this fight. By the time I got there even with the walk through I was out of my 99 healing potions and my white mage was on his last leg. What surprised me was that he only had one form which my master and his fists of overpoweredness were able to dispatch easily.

Was it fun? Yes, for a little while but it got old after the first 3rd. My total play time was 20hrs I felt like I got my moneys worth out of this one though. It was interesting to play through a game that is one of the pillars of classic RPGs. It wasn’t as basic as I thought it would be. I was surprised that I got to form my own party in the beginning. On top of that,I could pick different classes too. It really made me miss tool tips, item descriptions, and quest journals a lot.

Since I got the Origins edition for the PS Vita I also own Final Fantasy 2. I’ve heard some terrible, awful, horrendous things about FF2 and it’s weird leveling system. I’m excited to try it out. How bad could it really be?

 

 

Finishing Up A Realm Reborn

I’m back to playing Final Fantasy 14 after a month long hiatus. Patch 3.5 doesn’t really do anything me in the right now as I’m a long way off from reaching the current content, but  at least now I can queue up for the Duty Finder and have my trusty chocobo by my side.

I’ve changed things up a little since my return. For one I am no longer playing a hulking mountain of muscly man meat and have changed Kluwes into a female Au Ra. Now I have the pleasure of looking like mostly everyone else in the Duty Finder.  That’s ok though, every once and a while I like to play other races and genders. This isn’t the first time Kluwes has had a total DNA make over, he started out as a Duskwhight Elezen with long flowing locks.

It’s taken a little while to get used to my drastic decrease in character size after adventuring so long with the Roegadyen. I no longer have an over sized chocobo and I feel like the camera is lower to the ground than before. Also, it’s weird having NPC’s actually look down to me when I talk to them.

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Once I got my character set up I decided to see how much longer I had in the Main Scenario for ARR. At first I was going to level my Ninja to 50 and then do the Main Scenario but an FC mate encouraged me just to get it done.

It turns out I wasn’t actually that far from the end anyways. I had about 3 quests and 2 dungeons to complete. One of my least favorite parts of FFXIV is that story is delivered through cut scenes in the dungeons. I like the idea  because it makes dungeons all that more cinematic but trying to watch a cut scene in content that old is a sure fire way to get left way behind by a group. Luckily I on’t mind skipping the cut scenes and watching them later in the inn. Actually I found that watching the last cut scene for both Castrum Meridianum and  Praetorium was enough to understand what was going on.

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I’m not sure how I feel about the last 2 dungeons in ARR. On the one hand the scenery and backdrop for each is really pretty. On the other, especially in Castrum Meridianum, my screen ended up looking like a field of purples and greens when the group made huge pulls.

I enjoyed the Praetorium more than Castrum Meridianum. It seemed like there was more to do in the dungeon rather than just pulling everything in sight and demolishing it. A brief moment of embarrassment came when I  couldn’t figure out how to get into the Magitech so I ended up huffing it on foot the whole way while my teammates destroyed whatever horror were along the way. Turns out it was kind of fun watching my mechanical chicken teammates clear things from the ground.

The Ultima Weapon was a fun final boss and since this is a Final Fantasy game of course he had three forms. He didn’t seem all that challenging but I’m sure that had something to do with 7 people whaling on him who knew what they were doing.

With ARR finished I can start working my way through the last of the 2.XX content on my Dragoon. I still want to level up my Ninja but for now I’ll reserve that for the Daily Roulette. What I’m most excited for is the 2.XX Main Scenario to be all level 50 quests so I don’t have to take a break in the story to get a level up or three.

 

Maptastrophy! Mapocolypse! Mapstravoganza!


You don’t realize how important maps are until you don’t have one. You end up wandering around in circles in the wilderness until, exhausted, you and your friends are eaten by bears.

In video games, maps are also important in preventing being eaten by a bear. It’s a feature I’ve always taken for granted. There’s either that helpful mini map in the corner or at least somewhere in a menu. It’s nice to have even if you don’t need it and the absence is really felt when it’s not there.

I’m still making my way through Final Fantasy and up until recently I didn’t have a map and it wasn’t so bad. I found that if I vaguely  remembered the direction of places I’d been to I could stumble my way across the world but this only took me so far, about halfway through the game. Now, I’m not old enough to remember but I’m told there was a time when games came with physical maps and they weren’t packaged away in some insanely expensive collectors edition. After visiting Jay who collects retro games he showed me the map for Final Fantasy and it was then I learned I missed a whole lot of stuff and many hours could have been saved it I was given this at the start.

The map not only shows the land but it also has all the important places listed and numbered. Turns out I had missed the Ice Cave which I thought might get me another crystal. It gave me a Levistone and I think one NPC   had told me next to nothing about this Levistone or what to do with it. So I looked at the handy dandy map and went to the next number on the map and voila, this patch of desert I had been to before that had absolutely nothing there birthed an air ship. So I took the airship to the next point and got a rat tail. At this point not one single NPC told me what to do with said rat tail so thankfully the map led me to the right place.

From then on I’ve been completing one area at a time making my way to the next number on the map and the game has become enjoyable to play again. I’ve been trying really hard not to look up a walk through but I’m getting really close to throwing in the towel on that one. Either I didn’t pay close enough attention to NPC dialog or they just never told me but I’ve completed the Sunken Shrine and have no idea where I’m going next even with a map!

 

 

Dragon Quest: The Rail Shooter

Skipping ahead a few decades  since Super Ghost and Goblins, Jay and I spent the majority of last weekend playing Dragon Quests Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors for the Wii. I still can’t tell if the game had bad writing or just didn’t take itself too seriously. There are some awkward momments in dialogue like the the Armor Shop Lady greeting you as her lover but also some clever momments like characters being able to fin your house because they figure you don’t live in a shop or a church, the only other buildings in the kingdom.
Upon starting the game we got some history of the world. It’s your standard JRPG story of a great evil that took over the world and 3 people were able to defeat him and lock him in a volcano. Now 5 years later the kingdom is enjoying this time of peace.The story starts with our main character turing 16. We played 8 hours of this game and still don’t know what the main characters name is.In order to become a man or something he has to go complete a dungeon to prove his worthiness. This particular dungeon is guarded by Dirk the Knight of Worth who talks to you the whole battle in a charming British accent. Once we defeated him and he deamed us worthy we are allowed to go back to the kingdom.

All the background we get of the main character is his father used to be the best swords man in the kingdom until he lost his sword arm fighting Xiphos that great evil him and 2 other people locked in a volcano. Now dad just goes to the pub and hits on women. So after the MC goes to the cave to prove his worth he returns home to find the plot. The queen has disappeared and her son the prince is concerned because the last few weeks she’s taken up wearing a mask around. I would hope that if I took up wearing a mask around someone would at least tell me it was a little weird.

So we take the prince to go look for his mom who is wandering around the woods looking for a healing hot spring. Instead of finding the queen we find a random french girl living in the woods who saw the queen. She’s convinced she has seen the mask before as a child and remembered it being frightening and apparently this is important. I mean the mask is kind of creepy so I wouldn’t be surprised if a little kid was scared of it. So we take her back to the kingdom where we learn she used to be a nun and do absolutely nothing with this information. Later the towns people are freaking out beacuase a monster has been seen near the beach. Naturally they asked the One Handed swordsman father to do it and he agrees. But dad’s been drinking a bit too much and asks the main character to come along.

So here I am thinking ok this mission should be easy, Dad should be super overpowered even with one arm, he did help imprison the greates tevil the world has ever seen. But it turns out when dad switched classes from fighter to Mage he started back at level one and now we have a level 11 mage who only knows Kaboom…but thats ok because it pretty much one shots everything when he uses it. Me and Dad kill the scary fish man at the beach and return to the castle to find the Queen has gone into the Tower of Mirrors. Naturally the main character follows her in there and at the top of the tower the group confronts the queen. Someone finally does someting sensible and remoes the mask from the queen via sword to the face which shatters the mask. Unfortuanelty it turns out the mask was the only thing keeping Xiphos imprisoned in his volcano and now he’s free to destroy the world again DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN. And this is where we ran out of time and stopped playing, quite a cliff hanger.

The games main shtick is using the Wii-mote as a sword to fight the packs of monsters you run into. That works out better than I thought it would. The game kind of plays like a rail shooter except you can choose when you want to move forward.There isn’t a lot of free roaming in the outside world but you can click on some objects and get loot. There’s only one direction to go and that’s forward. Every once and a while your given the option to go left or right where one path leads to the next part of the dungeon and the other usually leads to a treasure chest.

The fighting actually works pretty well, it’s kind of like fruit ninja with a Wii-mote. Some packs of monsters move around making them harder to hit while others actually attack you which you have to block with your shield. Some projectiles can be hit back and helpful colored dots appear on the screen to assit you in feeling awesome about deflecting a fireball back at its creator. As your going about slaying slimes and such there is a gage that also fills up that lets you use a super move that usually kills everything in sight.

The boss battles are especially fun as they combine all the mechanics you’ve learned so far. While most of the game is pretty easy, the boss battles can actually be a bit challanging and we actually died a few times.

As a side note the only mini game was this thing, the Tambola. After you spend an arbitrary number of coins at a shop sometimes they give you a Tambola ticket. The game has you click the end of the handle and then spin the wii-mote around as fast as you can and somehow it determines a prize for you. Even after almost throwing my shoulder out trying this out, we never managed to get any result besides 5th prize and fail…But you can bet we tried it every chance we got.

While we didn’t beat the game I think we played the majority of it. Whenever I make it back home again I’m definately looking forward to finishing it.

A Weekend of Older Games

Every few months I make the trek back to my hometown to visit family and friends. This weekend was one such time. I always try and visit my friend Jay when I go home, we’ve known each other for a long time and always have fun together. Jay happens to collect everything gaming related under the sun so when I go over there we always end up playing some really old games. He’s got games from every system generation and every system to go with it. It’s kind of like a museum over there, complete with a working Panasonic 3DO. This weekend we played Super Ghosts and Goblins and Earthworm Jim on whatever this thing is. It plays a whole slew of cartridges with the only downside being the sound is a little distorted.

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Playing so many retro inspired 2D indie games, I’m always a little surprised how familiar actual retro games are when I get a chance to play them. Most of them are fun to see how far games have come. There is always that moment when you run into some piece of archaic game play or UI but for the most part these older games aren’t as alien or a simplistic as I thought they’d be.

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Super Ghosts and Goblins is one of those games that wold fall into the Metroidvania category. Jay’s convinced that this games name should also be part of the genres name but Metroidvaniagoblins just doesn’t roll off the tongue. There are chests you find throughout each level that contain new weapons and armor. You can only have one weapon and armor equipped at a time so you have to choose if its worth giving up your current ones for new ones. When you get hit you lose your armor, get hit twice and your dead. It’s hard, even on normal difficulty it’s hard but the platforming and the enemies are fair. There’s a life system and once you lose all of them you have to use a continue. This ends up not being that bad as you can give yourself 9 lives for every continue and your given 7 continues…that’s a lot of lives to go through. We ended up playing about an hour of it before we gave up and moved on.

Super Ghost and Goblins felt like a rouge-lite without procedural generated levels. When you die you have to start over but not completely. You keep the last weapon you used and sometimes there are check points. You have to go through the whole level again this time with different armor and weapons dropping from the chests. It’s also just hard enough that I felt like it was a challenge without being unfair.

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The other game we played was Earth Worm Jim which was definable an experience. I’m not sure if there’s some back story in the manual but as far as I can tell I was playing a space worm with arms and a gun. We only played the first level and what a level it was. Being chased down by garbage bats, being attacked by junk dogs, and bouncing on old tires. The level boss was a garbage can that would upper cut me into the stratosphere if I  got too close. It’s one of those games that left me wondering how exactly did someone think this up. Its a game I’d like to return to on my next trip up there but it’s a game I can only play in small doses. It has great art and colors and feels like playing a Saturday morning cartoon. It also reminds me of a random 5 dollar Steam game you buy on sale because it looks ridiculous.