Today I kind of wanted to do a 'general update' sort of blog, but also kind of touch on a topic at the same time.
So anyone that has followed me for a while, or who has seen me around the forums over the months, is probably really confused by my behavior. I know it's probably not easy to follow such a flip-flopper:
For almost a year I've owned the XBox One. Prior to that, for a few months, I owned a 3DS XL. Not too long before that, I got the PS4. At the beginning of that year, I got the PS3. The year before that I got the Vita. The year before that, I picked up the launch 3DS. And in 2010 I picked up an XBox 360 and a Nintendo DS Lite - for the second times.
And of course, that doesn't really count my bouts of interest in certain PC games: WoW, RuneScape, Bloons Tower Defense 5.... And mobile games, and the like.
The unfortunate reality is that I react emotionally to everything without really looking at things logically, and I have a difficult time imagining things beyond the present. Were I a little smarter with my money, I probably would have held off buying my first 3DS until it had a great library of games established for it. Were I a little more patient, I could have been content with the enhanced port of Ocarina of Time on the 3DS.
Not to excuse my own stupidity, but maybe part of the reason for my behavior is I really just have to see what's going on across all fronts, before deciding which game system I enjoy the most. I had to find out for myself firsthand what the ups and downs were of this or that game system. And I had to see time unfold, and realize which recent games I enjoyed the most.
It's probably not such a huge surprise that I keep coming back to Nintendo, after time with other systems. Simply put, they make some of my favorite game IPs and view games probably more the way I do than any other developer and publisher. They have nostalgia to draw from, but also push themselves to maintain a certain level of quality, and to innovate in ways that other game companies usually don't think to.
It's obvious that there's some problems there. I realize that Nintendo has dated policies, and really could use some modernizing. I realize that the company makes a lot of backwards or questionable decisions. And I'm fully aware that they haven't made many new, successful IPs in a while. Believe me, I think it's straight-up redonkers that the New 3DS XL doesn't include a charger.
But despite all of that, I can still overlook all of those negatives in favor of the great things Nintendo is doing. And I don't think there's much of a question that I value Nintendo more than XBOX and Playstation. Sure, maybe they don't always make sense, but I can get behind Nintendo. I don't think graphics make the game, and I don't think games should be these throw-away things that we produce each year and then move on from.
I wasn't a big fan of the Wii, but I think their goal with that system was to make a game system that appealed to a more diverse group of people. And maybe for one hot second Nintendo accomplished that goal. For a while you were seeing people from all walks of life become inspired by the Wii and its implementation of motion control, and concepts like being able to create your own Mii.
The Wii did many things wrong, but it sold well and accomplished that feat.
And really, if you think about it, the Wii was literally a picture of Nintendo's company values.
It wasn't powerful, but power and graphics don't make a great game. It couldn't play DVDs, but multimedia wasn't the focus of gaming. It was backwards-compatible, to promote the idea of games lasting the test of time. These are all things I can agree with, even if the result was lousy.
Today I got thinking about the upcoming Wii-U game Splatoon. A lot of people are on the fence about the game right now, because it was announced that the game won't support voice-chat and it won't have custom multiplayer options. That's among other things. It's also a non-violent online shooter.
I never really thought about it til now, but Splatoon is probably everything I want in an online game. I don't care if it's realistic or bloody, and I 'get' the cartoony atmosphere they're going for with squid-ink battles.
I don't care that there's no voice-chat, since I rarely use voice chat in online games anyway, and I tend to dislike how people talk on mic. Bear in mind that in recent games it's actually a pain in the ass to even mass-mute other players, so I get irritated having to listen to them.
I don't care too much about customization of matches for online play, since it divides up the community and makes it harder to find a match. It's the same reason why that kind of stuff isn't allowed in SSB's online mode, if I'm not mistaken. (Even though that game has two incompatible versions...)
Maybe I'm a little interested in Splatoon. Another possibility should I ever buy a Wii-U. We'll see.
Otherwise, all systems still seem to be go to pick up a New Nintendo 3DS XL this week. I am excited about it! I guess we'll see what other expenditures I have to cover.
Perhaps spurred on by my friend's interest in Nintendo's Amiibos and their potential game functionality, I must admit that lately I've become slightly interested in the figurines. ...To a point.
For the uninitiated, Amiibos are figurines of different Nintendo characters - typically characters that appear in their first and second-party games, and for the time being mainly characters that appear in Super Smash Bros.
Amiibos can be scanned into a Wii-U gamepad, or else the New Nintendo 3DS, and present the player with added benefits in certain games. All of the SSB Amiibos can be trained and grow stronger somehow, in ways that I am still not certain about. Most Amiibos can unlock costume pieces or daily rewards in games. And some Amiibos even unlock more useful things, like exclusive weapons, characters, or gameplay modes.
Amiibos, like Skylanders and Disney Infinity, are essentially like a physical form of DLC - and they each cost $15. No matter how you look at it, their place in the video games industry is a questionable one. But also no matter how you look at it, they are a nice little collector's item.
I've personally ignored the Amiibo craze until now - mostly because I didn't own any Nintendo systems this past year. Since I am buying the New 3DS XL, and it will have a built-in Amiibo reader, it makes the prospect a tempting one.
Though I have been strongly against the use of figurines as gaming gimmicks, the charm of these toys is undeniable. Being a huge fan of Nintendo and its games, there is obviously some allure there. In particular the Marth Amiibo, since it would make a fantastic and detailed mini-statue of one of my favorite Fire Emblem characters.
...And owning Marth would also be somewhat functional. Because I expect to play as him a decent amount in Super Smash Bros. And because his is one of the few Amiibos that serves a useful purpose outside of SSB, as a character unlock for Intelligent Systems' latest game: Code Name S.T.E.A.M.
An awesome toy, a companion training device for a fighter, and a complete import of the character into another game. To me, that seems like kind of a reasonable reason to want to buy an Amiibo and spend the $15 on it.
Code Name Steam is kind of an odd little game. As much as I love Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, and as big of a supporter as I am of the games Intelligent System produces, Code Name Steam didn't exactly catch my interest the way most of their other games do.
Part of the reason for my disinterest is the game's weird premise. You command a unit led by Abe Lincoln, and comprised of various historical and fictional characters from throughout history, who are fighting a war against alien invaders. And it's set within a steam punk world.
It's different, and different can be good... This game could be hilarious, idk. But at the same time, it isn't what I think of when I think of their games.
Also doesn't help much that this game hasn't exactly received great review scores. Here on GS it received a 4 out of 10. Yikes. Other places it has fared slightly better, but not by a huge sum. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence in this experimental mish-mash of historia.
However, once you factor in the Amiibo functionality with this game, it kind of makes it worth the weirdness. It enhances it.
Suddenly it seems kind of cool that I could have a squad comprised of Marth, Ike, Lucina and the player character from Awakening, trudging through a steampunk world and fighting aliens for Abe Lincoln.
It doesn't have to make any real sense. It's just good, clean fun. And suddenly there is some added value to owning the Fire Emblem Amiibos and taking a gamble on this odd little 3DS game. So now I'm considering it. Well played, Ninty. Well played...
I'm also interested in getting the Shulk Amiibo. I still can't even play Xenoblade, so I have no idea what I think of the game or its characters yet, but I'm optimistic enough. Unlike the Marth Amiibo, Shulk doesn't offer a whole lot of extra features outside of SSB training, though he does unlock a character model viewer and a sound test mode in Xenoblade Chonicles 3D. I guess that gives me some incentive to want the figure? Right?
And it also has some really decent detail, most of the SSB Amiibos do. I can't quite say the same thing about the Super Mario series Amiibos that came out the other month, and imho don't like quite as neat. To me the Amiibos have got to look neat - otherwise why would you want to proudly display them?
Of course one thing I didn't mention is that Shulk is an 'exclusive' Amiibo. His figure is only sold at Gamestop stores, in limited quantity. Several of the Amiibos are exclusively sold at certain retailers.
And if that weren't bad enough, Marth is as hard to come by as Shulk is. That is because his Amiibo sold out super-fast pretty much everywhere whenever they randomly got his figure in stock. The same thing is true of most other Amiibos.
And herein lays the problems with the Amiibos. Nintendo can't keep up with the consumer demand for more popular Amiibos, and can't keep them in stock at most stores. They sell out instantly. Everywhere.
Scalpers will go around and buy up rare Amiibos whenever they discover a store has them in stock, and then turn around and sell them on the Internet at jacked-up prices, to make a fast profit.
While I can't agree with it, I really don't begrudge anyone for wanting to take advantage of a chaotic situation that Nintendo has yet to get under control. I mean, just a few months ago people were selling imperfect Amiibos on ebay for as much as $25,000 each. When things start off that extreme, it's no surprise that people would want to get in on the scheme.
It falls on Nintendo to produce more Amiibos, to completely over-produce them to the point that they become readily available and greatly drop in value.
If Nintendo doesn't ever fully address the situation, consumers are being denied a really basic thing: Access to a collectible of their favorite Nintendo characters, and access to a means of training specific characters in SSB.
I can't understand why Nintendo would want to purposely limit the number of Amiibos to drive up interest. This would have a severely negative effect, since Nintendo would want people to be able to buy these Amiibos... So they can in turn use them to unlock features in games that they want people to buy.
On a different, but somewhat related note...
So, I'm still not ruling out the possibility of one day owning a Wii-U. I was interested in it before, and I still kind of am. Especially now that I am getting the 3DS again.
The Wii-U already has some games I'd like to play. New Super Mario Bros. U, and its Luigi expansion. Pikmin 3. The Wii-U version of SSB. Mario Kart 8. The Wonderful 101.
And now, maybe Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Depending on what I think of the first Xenoblade when I finally get to play it next month, X could be the game that sells the Wii-U to me. But I guess we'll see.
One thing I like already is that you get to create your own main character for X. And while the game is a spiritual successor to Xenoblade (which is a spiritual successor to Xenosaga, which is a spiritual successor to Xenogears....) the story seems to largely take place in the same universe as that of the previous game, though now you get to suit up in mech units.
I see a lot of inspiration from Monolith-Soft's past in working on the Xenosaga series of games. And that really isn't a bad thing - it is quite refreshing right now. But it largely seems like X is the next step up from the first game in scope, which is fantastic news.
Of course I can't speculate too much. Gotta play the first game and see what I think of it. But I can't help thinking that a certain Amiibo will have functionality with this game, and could potentially unlock a familiar character as an extra party member...
So I should probably mention that I'm getting the new Nintendo 3DS XL...
I had made the decision even before making my previous entry. Despite some issues I have with the release cycle of Nintendo handhelds, and some of the decisions Nintendo has made over the years, I do miss the 3DS greatly and want to give it one more shot.
One might be surprised to learn that I already got a new copy of Fire Emblem Awakening the other day, in preparation for it.
Indeed, one of my greatest regrets of the past year is that I sold the 3DS a second time. And also, I never made a whole lot of progress on Fire Emblem Awakening - one of the two major games I got the 3DS XL for.
I've started messing around on the game on my fiancee's 3DS XL, just to whet my appetite for now. It's not quite the same, playing the game on a 3DS that isn't mine. And I will likely restart my game as soon as I get my new 3DS XL.
But Fire Emblem is in my blood. Ever since the release of Fire Emblem (7) on the GBA, I've been a huge fan. Sure, I die a lot. It's called hard mode for a reason. But I've gotta get right back up on that horse and be the cavalier I know I can be!
Of course, there's at least one other big game I owned on my 3DS last time, which deserves another look. It's probably the game I spent the most time playing, a little over one year ago:
Pokemon Y. It was a refreshing Pokemon game for sure, I'll give it that. I was put off by the game's focus on multiplayer content, and its slight lack of single-player content. Still, there's no denying that it was a good game.
I think the second time around will be a better one. Now I already know what to expect, and I have a better idea of which pokemon to spend the most time training. I believe that what pokemon is really about isn't "Catching 'em all" as the tagline states: I think it's more so about gathering a team of your favorites and focusing on them, and building a strong team to adventure through the story with.
Chespin was a great starter, and the addition of the Fairy type was a smart move. Pokemon is better for the improvements this game brought along.
I am eager, too, to try out Pokemon Omega Ruby, or else Pokemon Alpha Sapphire. I look at each Pokemon game as its own adventure, and try not to worry too much about transferring my overpowered team into each new title.
What makes Ruby/Sapphire a great addition on the 3DS, is that it was due for one thing, and that it gives me a game with greater focus on the single-player campaign mode of Pokemon. This is also probably the Pokemon games that I've spent the least amount of time with, and one with one of the better stories in the series.
I'll probably pick Torchic as my starter for this adventure, but Groudon and Kyogre are both equally pretty awesome. I'm leaning towards Omega Ruby, I suppose.
And I probably won't be able to say no to The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. I am a huge fan of this game, it's definitely in my top 4 Zeldas. Its competiton is the three GBC Zelda games! Behind that would probably be Windwaker and Ocarina of Time, and then A Link to the Past. That gives you an idea of how highly I value this game.
I had it on the Wii Virtual Cosole for a while, but always wanted to experience it with better controls. Having this remastered version would be like a dream come true. And the erratic nature of the race against time, seems like the perfect fit for my erratic handheld gaming habits.
The time mechanic, the masks, the plethora of side-quests and everything in-between... I think Majora's Mask is one of the greatest experiments to come out of the entire franchise. It would be an honor to own this game.
Another title, which I had planned on buying previously but had just not gotten around to, was Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. To me, Luigi's Mansion was an unexpectedly great launch title for the Gamecube. While others complained about the game's brevity, I loved the crazy originality of it. It was Mario meets Ghost-Busters meets a haunted mansion.
The sequel looks great, and got positive reception. The addition of several mansions to explore and scout for ghosts probably helped that. But the game would likely be a blast on the handheld, and it seems like a match made in heaven with its trippy ghosts being in 3D. This release was destined, as the original Luigi's Mansion was the only Gamecube game made with a potential for 3D support.
I keep forgetting it, but buying the 3DS again will finally give me the chance to play Super Smash Bros. 3DS. I love me some Smash Bros., and I've always felt that a handheld version had to happen, so I'm happy it has.
While the 3DS version is lacking some things that the Wii-U version includes, and it doesn't include cross-play with the Wii-U version.... Come on, it is freaking SSB!
A buddy of mine brought it to my attention that I could also train my favorite characters and then battle them against him on his Wii-U version of the game. I would have to buy some Amiibos, but he pointed out that the new 3DS includes a built-in Amiibo scanner, making it perfect for this.
And since I could use my 3DS as a controller if we actually play the game together on his Wii-U... Well, that's just far-out, man!
But probably the next game I'll be getting, and the one I hope to get alongside or shortly after I purchase my new Nintendo 3DS XL, is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.
Xenoblade got critical acclaim on the Wii, and many hailed it as one of the better JRPGs of last gen. The game almost didn't even come out in the US - it was Nintendo fans who played the game and wanted to see it released stateside that got Nintendo to take notice, and decided to release it elsewhere. While Nintendo only released the game in limited quantity, it still got recognition among Wii owners.
I'm eager to play it for a number of reasons. It makes sense that it's the first new 3DS exclusive game released, since it will show off the power of the updated system. It will finally give me a chance to play this game and see what the fuss was about. And the concept of exploring these massive worlds upon two gigantic robots' bodies is really interesting.
I'm hoping to stay away from buying downloadable games on the new 3DS XL for now since there is no way to save my purchases to an account, and since it would only distract me from working on these other games. Imo, this would be a nice little start for my 3DS's game library.
Now it looks like the next decision I have to make is:
"Red or black?"
I'm leaning red, since it would help it stand out a lot more.
Ever since I was a kid and got my first Gameboy Pocket, I've been a big fan of handheld game systems. In particular, the most successful brand in handheld game systems - Nintendo.
I've owned a Nintendo handheld from each line since the Gameboy Pocket - the Gameboy Color, the Gameboy Advance, the Nintendo DS, and the Nintendo 3DS. With the DS and 3DS, I've owned more than one model of the system at different points in time.
When the 3DS was announced, I was filled with a familiar sense of excitement over its impending release. Whether or not the 3D was a gimmick, I looked forward to seeing where Nintendo went after the immense popularity of the DS line. And so I got the system at launch.
The 3DS released in early 2011. Roughly 4 years ago, as hard as that is to believe. Unfortunately, it suffered a game drought for much of its first year, during which time I owned it. I was already fed up with the price of the system dropping by a decent amount a few months after its launch, but it was more annoying than anything how games were announced well before its launch date and were in development for a year or more after that.
Ocarina of Time was probably the best game I owned for the system then, but I wanted something new. I ended up selling the system by year's end, in need of fast cash.
I didn't own a 3DS in 2012 or much of 2013, but in Christmas 2013 I got the new model of the 3DS, the 3DS XL. The new model had a larger top screen, and the system in general was much bigger. It also had a power button that was harder to hit by accident.
The 3DS XL didn't come as a huge surprise, mainly because Nintendo had released similar kinds of premium versions of their handhelds in the past. While it annoyed me that the system didn't add many useful things along with the revision, such as a right circle pad and online accounts linked to your downloadable purchases, it was a decent addition to the 3DS line. I did wonder, however, why it didn't include a charging bay like the original 3DS did...
I didn't own my 3DS XL for even as long as the original 3DS, but I did use the system a lot and took better advantage of its streetpass features.
While I owned the 3DS XL, another 3DS model was also released...
The 2DS, which I never owned, came about really unexpectedly. It launched as a response to research that showed children under the age of 7 years may develop problems from viewing 3D games on the 3DS. I guess it was good that Nintendo took action and did something to counter that issue and keep itself relevant to its children gamers. But I never understood why the system was made as one solid, unfolding, gaudy piece of ugly hardware. I guess to lower the cost?
Nintendo still isn't done revising, the 3DS, however. Recently they released the new Nintendo 3DS. If casual consumers weren't already confused by the three different models of the same system currently out on the market, they should be now. The new Nintendo 3DS is also available both in its classic size, and XL size. Bringing the total number of different 3DS models to 5.
The problem here, aside from the fact that there are now more 3DS models than there are years the system has been around for, is that the new 3DS includes that second circle pad, as well as a better processor. This means that new games are coming out which play only on the new 3DS and new 3DS XL. Which means that the other 3 3DS models are now pretty much obsolete. If you want to play Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, or any of the other new games that take advantage of the new hardware and tech, you need this new 3DS.
With the exception maybe of the 2DS, the 3DS brand has essentially become as bad as the iPhone. Nintendo is getting as bad as Apple, turning their handheld game systems into throw-away experiments, in which the following year a superior successor is sure to follow, with new features and tech.
It is possible that next year, or the following year, there will be yet another version of the 3DS. Maybe the 3DS micro, or 3DS Phone for all I know. And it will sell well, despite the fact that Nintendo should have been forward-thinking and just included things like this from the start. They should have offered two model sizes from day one, they should have had two circle pads from day one. (And we ALL know they will improve that second circle pad to be as good as the first one eventually.) It probably should have had a faster processor and better hardware out of the gate - after all, the PS Vita managed to.
But the big point is, people will go out and buy the latest version of the 3DS, and in a few years Nintendo will probably make a much better handheld... And start this same cycle all over again...
I think all of the big events going on in my life right now have made me realize that I'm unsure of whether I'm doing what I really want to do with my life.
Since the tail end of 2012 I've been with the same company. My first year there I was starting to dislike it after a few months - the interaction with customers, the seemingly getting-nowhere tasks of the job, and the lack of much direction or coworkers to help me make any real progress each day. I liked it a lot better than my two previous jobs, but things still weren't working out real well.
At the end of 2013 I decided to switch to another department. It wasn't originally supposed to be a longtime thing, or maybe I didn't picture it that way at first. But it seemed different from the job I did have, and whether that meant it was better or worse, I figured it was better than just quitting and going back to the depressing job hunt. The first few months there took some getting used to - the flow of things and dealing with my new coworkers.
Things got stressful here and there, but then something unexpected happened - I started to like this job. If only for some of the people I worked with, and the slight security of it all. I held onto work at the company partly because I dreaded the prospect of having to look for new work so badly. I felt like making some friends and being accepted was kind of a decent reward for that.
Decisions I made last year are well into effect, though. I've been going to college, and I'm engaged and due to be married in less than 2 months.
College is the most difficult part of the equation right now. I went through it mostly because I needed to do something, and also because my fiancee was doing it. While I'm interested in some aspects of the IT field, I've never had much of a desire to be a technical support kind of guy. I'm interested in the programming I'm learning about right now, but a lot of it is difficult and I'm not doing well enough in school to really see myself being able to do it as a career. I feel like I don't learn enough in school, like I don't really get enough exposure to the classroom or enough class-time to really take the knowledge and run with it. I don't get that one-on-one with the professor that I'd hoped for, and classes end too quickly to really delve into subjects.
If I fail or quit school, it will just be a huge, near-worthless burden. If I pass, I feel like I will have walked away from school with only a better understanding of the fundamentals of these subjects, an associate's degree, and a better-written resume. Either way, college puts me in an awkward position - like it or not, I will need to look for new work once those school payments start coming.
College will also give me a lot of great things, there's no doubt about that. At least now I have a better understanding of how computers, networks and programming work. And I will look like a better job candidate for anything. But it will be difficult to leave this job when the time comes to pay bills, as much as I hate to admit that.
Just when I found a job where I'm somewhat stable, and I started building friendships... I'll have to go back to the job hunt I hate so much, and look for something different, and return to square one again.
And at the same time, I'm still not sure if I'm even doing the thing that I really want to do!
I watch a cartoon like Gravity Falls, and it's just fantastic. I'm jealous of a guy like Alex Hirsch. A guy pretty close to my age, just a little older than me, and he is doing what was basically my dream job as a kid. He gets to work with other talented animators in the industry, he rubs elbows with famous voice-actors and famous people, he can do his own character voices and is actually funny, and more than anything he knows his field and is successful at what he does.
Why can't I be doing something like that? Maybe, I just haven't put in my time. Maybe I just never wanted it bad enough. I don't know. I always used to dream big, but could never really follow through, and I guess that was part of my problem growing up. It probably doesn't help that I grew up on the Eastern coast of the US, rather than the Western coast, where the entertainment and computer industries are really based.
But I know deep down that I probably don't deserve it like Mr. Hirsch does. I was never a very easy-going person, I've always been edgy and spend a lot of time worrying about how other people view me. I've always been judgmental, and always wanted to do things my way - and that doesn't always work. I didn't stick with the drawing, and I was never 100% sure what I wanted to do with my life.
Anyway, those are just some things on my mind right now. Maybe I'll pursue a different kind of career, or maybe I will stick with this one and find a job I like doing in IT as well. Maybe I can preserve some of these friendships I have after this job ends. We'll see.
On a different note, I've been thinking of changing my XBOX LIVE username at some point. It is the same as it is here. Idk, I chose this name many years ago, and while I like it, I feel like I could make something a little less odd-sounding. I have some ideas in mind, but I'll have to see what is available...
I've purchased/received a lot of new games lately. Now I'm really not in short supply of a variety of games to play on both of my consoles.
I know, I've got to stop it. Seriously. But I think this is probably a pretty good stopping-point for now. I rounded off my latest string of purchases with Hotline Miami 2 the other day, and Helldivers this afternoon. Both shaping up to be really great buys thus far!
It probably won't be long until i sort through my games and delete some of those mediocre ones that I just not longer have the space for. Games like The Escapists. *cringes* Meanwhile, there will also be some surprising games that I decide to keep. I played Worms Battlegrounds the other week after avoiding it for the longest time, and it was pretty fun.
I've already started adding more games to my list. It's good that I'm interested in so many games, but I can't help but just view them as dollar signs. I know that for the most part I will probably value the really worthwhile indies over the lame or questionable ones. Games like Cuphead and Toy Solders 3 seem really promising and will likely get an instant buy from me. Meanwhile many games will probably get knocked off of the list when they release to a lot of negativity, or just don't seem as good upon further research.
...But then there's games like Secret Ponchos, and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. These are games that may very well be good, but I'm still not sure weather they are really my type of game or not. Games like these straddle the fence, and I agonize over whether or not to buy them for a long time. The same thing has happened with Octodad and Don't Starve.
At the end of the day, I can only choose to focus on a handful of games at a time. It's all I have the time and mental capacity for. But I still don't feel real bad about following all of these games. At least I know there are bound to be a lot of great games in the future!
Spring is pretty much in full bloom now. This is a great thing; there'll be no more snow or ice again for a good, long while. Rain occurs every few days, but I really don't mind it so much - I'm so fortunate now to be out of the bitter, dry cold.
This week I'm hoping to make things official. Provided that the weather can not be rainy on these coming mornings when I have time to spend, I'd like to go on some much-needed walks.
So since my last blog entry, I did sit and play Killzone Shadow Fall a little bit more again, the other day. It wasn't even this big orchestration, it wasn't necessarily a game I set out to play that morning. I just had some time til work and decided to squeeze in a multiplayer match.
It went surprisingly well. Those 20-or-so-odd minutes of gaming made me much happier about my recent decision to buy the game's season pass.
I was playing with a team of various people who were talking, but there wasn't a bunch of annoying trash-talk or anything like that. I got a couple of pretty good kills from this one spot on the map overlooking a small bridge a floor below, with the enemy players behind cover on the other side of the bridge.
I really like the support and sniper classes in that game. I think I enjoy support the most overall, but I ended up playing as a support with a turret ability, and picked up a fallen person's fors 1-shot, and that made for a really awesome combination. I kept setting down the turret to provide cover for myself, and as soon as I'd hear it going off firing at enemy players trying to cross the bridge, I got into scope mode and started picking people off.
I'm a little bummed by Better Call Saul being over for the season, but at the end of May I'll have a new season of Halt and Catch Fire to look forward to. In the interim, there are a lot of other great shows I could probably watch. But I've really been in a comedy mood.
Mr. Show has been the perfect answer to that. I've always wanted to watch the series, but never really had a way of doing so. I happened upon some episodes on Youtube the other day, and was pleased. A buddy of mine owns the DVD set, and let me borrow it - so even better!
My only complaints are that the episodes are only half an hour in length - it seems like they could easily be longer; also the seasons are very short. I understand it takes money and ideas to make a good sketch show, but it's a shame Bob and David didn't have the opportunity to make more episodes back in the 90's.
I guess they will be releasing some brand new episodes on Netflix though, so my body is ready.
Lastly, I'm starting to think about the prospect of buying a new car.
It's been something I've thought about now and then over the past few years - not really seriously, but it has been in mind.
I've owned my car since 2009 or so. I was fortunate to be able to buy my car and pay the whole thing off at once. It has been a good vehicle. But these cars just don't last forever. It is starting to fall apart here and there. Minor stuff, but it is slowly becoming inconvenient.
I think I will start looking around here and there to see what is on the market. I may decide to put it off, but it won't be long until I reach that magical point where I've owned the car for 7 years. Best to think ahead, I think.
So after debating about it for a few weeks, I decided against buying Natural Doctrine after all:
It was a livestream of the game that helped me ultimately make that decision. As much as I was hoping for a good strategy RPG on the console right now, I think this game would disappoint.
Part of the reason is that some of the characters seem downright annoying. The mage character, for example, has that snooty anime character trope that is highly irritating to listen to every time he talks.
It also seems like one of those games where you essentially have your full party from the start, which bugs me for some reason.
All of the enemies are these cute little goblins. Or, from what I saw during the livestream they were. It just seemed politically incorrect, idk.
The graphics are bad, but I assume that is because this is a cross-buy game. Not a huge deal, but it seems like hardly any polish went into the visuals. And, more importantly, it just seems mediocre.
I decided to look into the game Akiba's Trip (Akiba Strip) immediately after that:
I had ignored this game pretty much up until the other day, but some livestreams actually made this game look more interesting to me.
Essentially it's a weird little game where you run around trying to disrobe characters to 'defeat' them. And for some reason your character is a vampire, and the other people are zombies ? or something like that. And your vampire is one of the good guys.
There's some charm there, I'll admit. But eventually I determined this game is also pretty mediocre.
While this game would certainly interest my perverted side, I would be much happier just disrobing attractive female NPCs. In this game you disrobe everyone. And, you only really disrobe people down to their briefs, which might be a good thing depending on how you look at it.
I was interested in the awkward combat. You can fight the zombie people with any type of weapon pretty much, and dress up in all sorts of crazy garb. It had a sort of Dead Rising charm to it. But, the combat actually looks like it could be kind of crappy.
The thing that really made me disinterested in this game again is the lousy character dialogue screens. Something about them just clashes with my ideals of how a dialogue box should look. All in all, I think the only thing that got this game any notoriety is its perverse game mechanic, which is unfortunately not that good.
After striking out with both Natural Doctrine and Akiba's Trip as potential JRPG buys on the PS4, I looked to the future. Are there any good, upcoming JRPGs on the PS4?
Intrigued, I decided to look more closely at Dragon Quest Heroes, an upcoming PS4 exclusive:
Dragon Quest? Now THERE'S a name I can get behind! I'm a longtime fan of the DQ games. And in a world where traditional JRPGs are the minority and developers are becoming increasingly interested in mobile or online multiplayer games, it seemed like a sure buy! Right?
Well... It might at first. Even the gorgeous screenshots make this game look like an RPG fan's dream! ...Until you come to realize, that this is yet another Dynasty Warriors game with a lick of paint - similar to what Koei did with Zelda in Hyrule Warriors.
That's not to say this game will be totally awful, but it isn't really what I had in mind when I was thinking about Dragon Quest. Granted, this is probably the nicest-looking Dynasty Warriors game ever, and hopefully one of the better ones... But it isn't a true Dragon Quest game.
Of those three games, it seems like Dragon Quest Heroes will be the most fun. And that's good, it says to me that JRPG offerings are slowly getting better on the PS4. I may check this game out, I really don't know yet. It certainly isn't the answer to my prayers for a new Dragon Quest game, though. But that's fine, I can work on some of my other games while I wait on an actual JRPG to come along.
I did pretty much that. I decided to purchase the season pass for Killzone Shadow Fall, so I could get more out of that game, after coming back to it about a year after the first time I owned it.
The season pass, as it turns out, is a very respectable value. It gave me access not only to the Intercept add-on and Insurgent class, but also the 10th anniversary pack, and a buttload of bot skins. Til I was done I probably had about half of the available DLCs for this game, just from getting the season pass. That's as it should be.
Unfortunately, my brief time with the game this morning since downloading said new stuff, was less than stellar. Nobody playing really complained about me, even though I absolutely sucked, and that was good. But the bro-man trash-talk was alive and well.
Maybe I'll just never understand it, how some gamers can be so competitive. I've never been a very competitive person, so maybe I don't get it. These games just kind of make me irritated and frustrated to play online. I couldn't enjoy the Halo 5 beta because it gave me anxiety. It's part of the reason why I can't fully-enjoy Halo MCC, aside from the game being buggy as hell and having long loading times.
I will try playing Killzone again, maybe reset my loadouts and try to refamiliarize myself with the game. I'll try to finish the stupid campaign sometime. There are some things I like a lot about this game, and to be truthful, I actually think I enjoy Killzone SF more than Halo MCC. I like how you can slide into cover, and I like the various objects you can deploy like the turrets and drones.
But it's really not enough. And, maybe as far as competitive online FPS games go, that is all the more I can ever enjoy these kinds of games.
For years now I've tried to believe that gamers just like different kinds of games on an individual basis. That a person can like FPS games and RPGs equally, and that there is a gray zone to these kinds of things. I thought everyone else out there was as varied in their gaming tastes as me. But then, maybe I'm really not that varied, either. Maybe my interests in FPS games can only extend so far?
I'm beginning to give in to the idea that maybe, somehow, all of this is pre-determined. Maybe you're born either with more of this competitive, FPS-mentality, or you're born with this customizing, RPG-mentality. And maybe you can't change that - maybe some people are just more of one than they are the other.
Perhaps the reason why I enjoy Killzone so much more than Halo right now, is that you have more options:
You can play as one of four classes, with access to different weapons and abilities. You can choose all of the guns you bring with you into battle, and which abilities. You can choose from a variety of loadouts, and change your class each time you die. And, if your team has a support character that dropped a beacon somewhere, you can even choose where you respawn.
None of this, of course, changes the fact that Killzone is an FPS. But, it does explain why I enjoy it more than Master Chief Collection, a game with more single-player content and a better story.
Of course, this all does little to explain things like this:
I really enjoy Hotline Miami. I haven't managed to complete the game yet, but I've enjoyed my time with the original so much, that I decided to buy the sequel. The guarantee of more Hotline Miami is a good thing to me.
This might seem odd, given that Hotline Miami is more like an FPS game than it is an RPG. You use guns in the game, and everything is very action-based.
There is some option in Hotline Miami - which weapons you use, how you deal with enemies on a room-by-room basis.
But how do we view games like Hotline Miami, or old-school style games in general? They certainly aren't like RPGs. But then, they aren't like FPS games either, I guess.
Looking at another game, it's obvious that it's more a problem with multiplayer than it is genre:
Hearthstone is a pretty good game. I like it. I don't play the game all of the time, or even very often. But every once in a while I get the urge to play card games again, and Hearthstone is my best bet.
But here, I get a similar feeling of panic and irritation while trying to play Hearthstone with other players. I start to lose interest and become depressed whenever other players beat me.
It's not like when the CPU defeats me in a game - then I usually see it as a fun challenge to overcome. Why is it so different when other human players are thrown into the mix, even when there is little communication and gameplay is essentially the same as it would be in single-player?
I still don't have an answer. Maybe this brings me back to another old thought I've had for some time. Maybe it has a lot to do with difficulty, and how too much of it can make a game experience negative, rather than positive. Maybe too much strategy is actually what makes it difficult for me to enjoy a game?
Golden Sun 1 and 2 were, in my opinion, some fantastic RPGs back on the Gameboy Advance. But they weren't particularly difficult, save for some tough boss battles, many of which were optional.
What I liked best about the games was the story and the characters, and the design of things. I liked how you could use all of these cool powers in battle, and also use some of them outside of battle to progress through areas and find secrets.
It didn't matter that the journey wasn't that challenging, because the journey was fun. And fun is important, first and foremost, in games.
Of course that can't really explain why Nintendo's latest consoles don't do it for me. I think having a traditional gaming experience is important to the fun of it. It's not enough to have a good, fun game - the hardware has to be good, also.
One of my favorite FPS games was very well-designed and fun, and didn't limit itself to one genre's particular norms and conventions:
I speak of course, about Metroid Prime. FPS fans probably didn't like this game because there was stuff you could collect in it, and there were different cool weapons to choose from, and upgrades to find. And of course, no multiplayer.
This was like the best FPS game I've ever played in my life.
Some people will say Metroid Prime wasn't even an FPS game. Well good, if it wasn't an FPS then that makes sense. If it isn't an FPS, then I don't like FPS games at all - because they're boring as fuck. This was a fun game. I'm surprised there has never been another game quite like this, that's as good as this was.
I think my favorite game of all-time, is still probably these games:
For me, nothing really comes close to Advance Wars. I feel like everything about those games was perfect. All of the units felt useful, the characters were all likable, and I could play the game again and again against the CPU and it was great.
At least all 3 of the original games were stellar, imo. I thought Days of Ruin was alright, though I didn't like it as much as I did the others. To me, these games represented greatness. And again, nobody else has really managed to recapture the greatness of these games. They probably never will.
Some people will argue that these games are boring, and that turn-based strategy games suck. To those people, all I have to say is "Fuck you."
I understand a lot of people are bonkers for RTS games. I am not. Age of Empires is probably the only exception I have to that rule, and even then, I was never very good at it. I think I got worse anxiety playing RTS games than even some FPS games. It's that competitive style of play, you see. That's why competitive gaming has RTS's and FPS's. Those games are less about fun, and more about... Not fun.
Maybe the truth is that I hate strategy. Or, at the very least, overthinking things way too much, to the point where it's no longer fun. Maybe that is why myself and many other people do not like this game:
It's those things you don't expect that help to make games fun. When you break everything down into pure planning and strategy and skill, it really isn't fun. That's why most of us don't play games like the MLG guys. It isn't fun, it's robotic, and requires you to throw your life away to think like a robot to get good at a video game.
I was never a very good gamer, I guess. I suck at playing in groups on WOW, and having lots of rushy teens count on me. I suck at FPS games. I suck at balancing resource-management with exploration and warfare in RTS games. Maybe I will never be any good at any of those things.
Maybe I won't even be any good at ever completing another game again.
Maybe I will really lose interest in games one day? Idk.
Anyway, this blog sizes up a few of my thoughts that I have about games these days. Thanks for jumping down the rabbit hole with me. Any feedback?
Since my last blog it became April, and I went on and came back from my trip. Things went well, but I spent way more money than I should have. I spent some time rushing around and sitting in cars, but most of the driving went surprisingly quick and I had some fun moments. I think some of my least-favorite times this weekend were spent in a cramped apartment before and after the trip, so it's good to be back where I have my own space.
The weather has been getting steadily amazing. On the way back home we saw snow, but luckily that was not the case here. I'm at the point where a jacket isn't necessary most of the time, and my car actually got so warm this afternoon that I had to turn on cool air. It shouldn't be much longer til walks are a frequent thing again.
I got a lot of mail while I was away, and most of it was important documents. As much as I'd like to get some of this stuff taken care of today, it will probably have to wait until tomorrow.
I managed to get more of my overdue assignments turned in at school, but I'm still behind. I'm hoping to make some real progress and get caught up tomorrow and the following day. At the same time, I have other things I'd like to do since returning home after a couple of days spent on uncomfortable beds and in car seats. I don't think it's unreasonable to want to relax on my days off, but it's more difficult when my days off are when two of my classes occur.
More than anything, it will be difficult going back to my current schedule after having this whole weekend where I got to spend a lot of time with my fiancee. The fact of the matter is, this schedule makes it a lot more challenging to find time to spend with her, especially because there are three nights in a row where one of us has class and the other doesn't. The rest of the week we work different hours, and lately I spend a lot of my lunch breaks with coworkers. But at least there will be a lot of time spent together two months from now, with the wedding. (It is exactly two months away now - just realized that!)
I realize this hasn't been the most interesting blog post ever. I don't really mean to downplay how fun the trip was; I had some really nice times - like when I was checking out different sites on an old battlefield, or when we listened to stand-up comedy on the car rides. It's just that it's over with already, and now I have to get back into my normal routine. I am looking forward to having some me-time tomorrow though, as funny as that sounds. After spending a trip with family, I want to be by myself for a while.
This week has started off kind of weird, but I think I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip a lot more than I had been a few days ago.
Work and school have been kind of difficult to keep up with, and in the end work usually seems to win out over school since I rely on it so much for income and lasting friendships. I am behind in two of my classes; in one I owe several assignments; in the other I owe both a memoir and a resume now. Keeping up with college work is important, but it's going to be rough playing catch-up as people look to me to be responsible at work.
I think, though, that I really could use this trip away from both college and work. It won't make things any better where my overdue assignments are concerned, and it sure won't help me to move on from the weirdness of the beginning of the week at work, but it will help me to get my mind off of all of this shit and connect with my fiancee' for a while.
Even if this weekend isn't very fun or interesting, I can still look forward to the time off with a loved one. I guess that's really how I've got to look at things for now.
Also today I discovered that I'm not very good at having personal conversations with teachers. And I came to the realization that it bothers me how a lot of gamers view gaming, and how they think gaming a particular way or liking particular games is the only way.