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.

 

 

2017 Resolutions

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Well it’s a tad bit overdue but the year is still fresh. Only 10 days in and already 2017 shaping up to be an interesting year. As the New Year struck I was struck by an awful cold that left me out of commission for a few days. On my way to work last week my car’s driver side power window motor died leaving my window stuck down for a few days, not a lot of fun to drive in the cold and snow. Finally, this past weekend I drove back to my parents house, about 4 hours away from me, and in the middle of a white out my windshield wiper fell off making the last few hours a real challenge But it’s not all bad, the year can only get better from here!

Buy Less and Play More

This goes for games as well as books. I have a bad habit of buying more than I can play or only playing a game for a few days before moving on to something else. I rarely finish games and it’s part of h reason I started my personal backlog challenge. So the goal for the year is to play/ finish more games and books than I buy which shouldn’t be that hard because there’s nothing coming out in the nex few months that I’m looking forward too. Though I said the same thing last year where the only game I wanted wasn’t suppose to release until July, I ended up buying at least one game a month anyways.

When It Sucks Stop Reading/Playing It

This one goes more for the books side of things. Every year I set a reading goal oer at Goodreads usually around 20 books. Last year I tried 25 books and I was able to meet my goal, even exceed it by 6 books. The thing is some times it felt like a chore to read and the looming fact that I had to read at least 2 books a month to finish made reading just a little less enjoyable. I’m finding the same as I’ve been working though my backlog. Originally my goal was to finish every game. I thought if I liked it enough to buy it I should be able to finish it. I’ve found that not everything is great and not everything interests me enough to finis it. I think this year I’ll just play games until they no longer interest me. I also have to get better at putting down books when I know they aren’t good instead of forcing myself to finish them.

Change Things Up.

I read a lot of fantasy last year. In fact more than half of the 32 books I read last year were fantasy and quite frankly I’m sick of it. So I’d like to read a little more outside my comfort zone. I’m thinking some murder mysteries, some drama, maybe a romance, and I need to read way more non fiction this year The same goes for games, I feel like I played a lot of the same kind of game last year and while it’s fun to play things I know I’ll like I also have a wonderful library where I can take some chances on other games for free. And PS Plus gives me access to some different games every month and I never try them out. I’ll try to do more of that this year.

Trove Taketh and Trove Giveth Back

 

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Once upon a time Trove used to be my main game for a few months. I would play regularly with a group of friends and we had a lot of fun grinding levels and farming the night away. Then the Mantle of Power patch was released and it took away the ability to get classes through game play as well as adding an endless grinding endgame that didn’t add much to the overall game. Even though I had all the classes unlocked, putting classes behind the cash shop didn’t sit with me quite right. Especially since most of the fun I was having in Trove was trying out all of the classes. While my friends cntinued to play I stepped away from the game. Every time they asked me to come back, my answer would always be when classes aren’t only in the cash shop anymore.

Flash forward to Tuesday. Trove’s Snowfest & Get Crafty patch released. It added a whole lot of changes to the game including simplifying the market, expanding player inventory, and the ability to craft classes, costume s, and even premium items. I couldn’t resist, I downloaded the lottery 1 gig game and sat down ready to return to a game that had given me so much fun in the past.

I actually like this new crafting system for classes. Before they initially took it away you would have to farm a certain never of dungeons to fill up a bar that would give you cubits. The cubits were use to buy various items from the non premium store and it included classes.

In the new system, you unlock classes by gathering a bunch of materials and praying to RNGesus that you get some chaos cores from the chaos chests. While it takes longer to unlock every class at least for me it would give you more time to play around with your new class before unlocking another. It also probably has to do with the fact that I actually like collecting materials.

As always players have gripes when it comes to massive overhauls in one patch. Some players feel the crafting cost is too high and others don’t like how the market place has been cut from 5 currencies to 2. But what really has the majority of players up in arms is the changes to chaos chests aka premium lock boxes. Before Tuesday they were tradable and sold for a pretty penny after the patch their now farmable drops that are essential for the new crafting as they have a chance of dropping chaos cores.

Overall I think the game is taking a step in the right direction. Trove seems to be loosing its death grip on it’s players wallets and making things a little easier for new players. I do wonder if this change has to do with the games recent console release. I almost wouldn’t mind starting over on the PS4 once this patch hits over there. Sure it’s a lot of grind but I’m thinking i would be a great game to remote play on the vita. Though from what I’ve experienced so far, Trove isn’t nearly as fun playing alone.

 

Backlogged: Titanfall 2

 

Titanfall™ 2_20161201103021The last time I thought to myself “you know what I need in my life right now, a multiplayer fps” was in 2007 when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out. Well after a 9 year hiatus I decided I needed a new shooter in my gaming rotation. Enter Titanfall 2.

OK maybe it hasn’t been that long, I played a lot of Destiny’s multiplayer, I played Battlefield 4 for a while and I did get Rainbow Six Siege at the beginning of the year. Destiny was always kind of a side thing when I was bored of the PVE, I didn’t really play Battlefield 4 all that much, and my time with Rainbow Six Siege was mostly spent in the Player versus AI Terrorist Hunt. I will admit this was kind of an impulse buy. I wanted something with quick matches and I wanted to shoot things with Mechs. Plus, who’s game would capture the feel of Modern Warfare better than Respawn, the guys who made Modern Warfare.

It came out on the heels of Battlefield 1 like just a few days after. Kind of a weird plan releasing right after one of the most anticipated shooters of the year but it looks like its doing OK. I really hadn’t heard much about it before release. but afterward the internet was hailing the campaign as one of the best in years and praising the multiplayer for fixing the problems the last game had. The internet was also full of “lol this game will die in 6 months gg scrubs” predicting the fall off of players that plagued the first game.

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The campaign took me around 10 hours to beat. I’ve never been great at shooters even against AI so I died a whole lot even though I was playing the easier difficulty. The story is pretty forgettable, as in I beat this 3 weeks ago and faintly remember what its about. It’s story of a generic solider turned elite Mech Pilot who has to stop the bad guys from using a weapon to destroy the world. To Jack some credit, he was training to be a Pilot before the battle that wiped out most of the landing party. His mentor, the Pilot of the lovable Titan BT-7427 doesn’t make it and gives Jack the reins to BT seeing as he’s the only one still alive there isn’t much of a choice.  BT is your typical computer AI that takes everything too literally but he’s endearing and I never got tired of hearing him talk. The banter between BT and Jack is great.

So you may be wondering, if the story was meh why has the campaign been getting all this praise. Well, it’s the levels, the levels are really unique and I haven’t played anything like them. Each level comes with a mix of shooting things, stretching your platforming muscles, wall running, and using BT to shoot even more things.My favorite two are the factory level with all of its platforming goodness and the time travel level which adds something wholly unique to Titanfall 2.

One of the best things about the campaign is collecting all of the Titan Kits as you progress. These correspond with the Titan load outs in multiplayer so you can get a feel for each Titan before diving in. It’s also really fun to switch load outs on a whim in the campaign. One titan not working for the particular boss fight? Switch to a different one. Since theirs not cool down penalties for switching in the middle of a fight you can pull off some interesting combinations. Too bad you can’t do this in multiplayer.

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Speaking of multiplayer, Titanfall 2 has an interesting take on it. I didn’t play or follow the first one so when I jumped in to Attrition, the main game mode, I was  surprised to find AI enemies as well as other players. This really helps less than talented players, like me, contribute. They may not give as many points as an enemy player but they stand still long enough to shoot. Later in the match they seem to gain the ability to aim and do plenty of damage where they can almost kill you which just adds to the fun. At that point you most likely have your titan and are ripping through them anyways. The movement is really well done and it constantly makes you feel like an elite solider wall running and sliding around the battle field. There are constantly those moments of “whoa did you see what they just did”.  From my experience, even if your at the bottom of the score board you’re still getting your titan pretty often in battle which is nice because I don’t feel like I’m missing out on part of the game because I’m not doing well.

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All in all, I’m happy with my purchase. The campaign was short but fun and the multiplayer is fun even if your bad at shooters. The multiplayer definitely has that one more round feel and the matches are short enough that you can’t get too mad about losing. I’ve been playing for a few weeks and learning and improving has been the main hook. But that level up bar is always fun to watch fill up at the end of the match. Who doesn’t love a good level up bar?

The Magnificent Mullet of Eorzea and Other Final Fantasy 14 Things

Look at it. It’s fantastic. Serious business in the front, raging party in the back. It’s a mullet’s mullet.  It’s glorious, a true character creation masterpiece. It goes with everything, it’s durable, and easy to clean. It doesn’t even clip…that much.It begs the question why did I not have this the whole time.  Unfortunately there’s only room for one sumptuous thing on this Roegadyn’s smug mug so the elegant mustache just had to go.

I played a lot of Final Fantasy 14 this past week and over the weekend. It’s probably the most I’ve played in the last few months I’ve been subbed. Me and Jay have been playing pretty regularly at least getting the dungeon roulette done every night. This weekend I had a lot of time on my hands.

In this past week I’ve gotten my dragoon to 50 and got him spiffy new armor. I have 10 more levels to go until max and I feel like I have too many buttons to press already. Learning the combos has been fun and the animations for the skills look awesome. Let’s be honest here, when your last level 50 threw rocks at things for hours outside of dungeons, having some more buttons is a godsend.  I got my level 50 armor and much to my surprise it really doesn’t look terrible on my large character.All the other dragoons I’ve seen have been stick thin characters. Sure I may not look as sleek but I don’t look like dragoon sausage. Now if only my weapon didn’t look so much like a gardening tool.

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I’ve been trying to help Jay catch up to me in the main scenario which is taking a lot longer than I originally thought. I have to keep finding something else to work on between dungeons while he runs story quests. So I settled on getting my bard up 2 more levels to hit 50 as well. With that came completing the quests for the armor. The other classes had some interesting reasons for getting said armor. Dragoons have to go through 5 trials to prove they are worthy of it, White Mage’s need to get it to wistand the force of the Great one, the Bard’s  boils down to dig up this old man’s clothes and wear them because he deemed you worthy. What an honor. Sadly the hat is not as obnoxious as I thought it’d be but the rest of the set well makes up for it.

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In an effort to clean out some of my uncompleted quests from my journal I finished the level 30 rouge quest. I’ll admit, this was probably a mistake, because the rest of the weekend was spent leveling up my new ninja and thoroughly enjoying it. After playing dragoon, the class feels a bit simpler and with less buttons to manage though I’m sure this will change as I get higher in level.

Finally, I actually installed the expansion and put the key on my account. I’ve had it lying in a drawer for a while now. When I went to open it I actually had to dust it off. I m itching to complete the 2.XX main scenario stuff and get into the expansion which I might go ahead and do if Jay doesn’t catch up soon. Other wise I’m going to end up with yet another level 50 class.

But seriously, this mullet is amazing.