Author Archive for

26
Apr
11

References for 4-Hit Combo #2

Here are some links for anyone confused about the references used in 4-Hit Combo! #2

Saw :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saw_(franchise)

SE7EN :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Se7en

Godzilla US (1998) :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godzilla_(1998_film)

Gojira :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godzilla_(1954_film)

Eureka7 :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eureka_7

Neon Genesis : Evangelion : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion

22
Jan
11

Final Fantasy Breakdown Part 1. The Original.

 

 

One day, a long time ago I went into a video game store in the mall. Final Fantasy 9 was out and I was talking to the guy working behind about the franchise. It turned out he had played and beaten every game in the franchise and I had only beaten the sixth one. I thought it was a cool thing he had accomplished and a few years later I set out to do something similar.

About five years ago I set myself the goal of beating every single one of the numbered Final Fantasy games. At the time they were up to 11 so it didn’t seem too hard.  I started at number 1 and have made it to 10 although it took several years of off and on play. I have since stalled out. I know I can’t ever truly “beat” Final Fantasy 11 but I think I played it enouph for the purposes of this series. I’m hoping that by doing this series I may reignite my fire for the series and begin to progress on the newer titles in the series that I have been avoiding.  So here is my analysis of the first entry in one of my favorite video game franchises.

The box art for the U.S. Nintendo Entertainment System version.

 

Final Fantasy, is a game that almost didn’t get made. Squaresoft had made a few NES games by this point and they put the last of their money into this game. The name “Final Fantasy” actually is defined by this. It was to be their last game ever.  I heard about this game when it came out but I didn’t play it until years later. I borrowed it from a friend during the later years of the SNES and Genesis era in the mid 1990s. I played it a bit and found myself obsessed with picking a proper party. I kept starting over to pick a diffrent group and thus didn’t make any progress until the point where I had to give it back. It was only after setting the goal of beating this game for myself that I settled down with a used copy on my original NES and defeated it. I have since aquired the Playstation remake Final Fantasy : Origins and a backup copy of the NES original and two copies of the Gameboy Advance version Final Fantasy : Dawn of Souls, and the anniversary edition for the Playstation Portable. The only versions I don’t have are on the Wonderswan and iPhone, I don’t plan to get them as they are functionally identical to the Gameboy Advance and Playstation Portable versions respectivly. I understand there are also other versions available for other cellphones that I don’t have.  So what is this game all about?

The box art for the U.S. Playstation release.

This game is a Dungeons and Dragons clone.  The story is thin but it gives the group something to do. The graphics and sound are memorable and get the job done. And the gameplay is hard requiring extensive grinding depending on your class choices. This game was a great success both in Japan and America. So what is Final Fantasy about? And why did it succeed?

So what is Final Fantasy? Back when the first game came out it was somewhat easy to define. Its a turn based role playing game set in a fantastical version of the ancient western world. In this world you control a party of four heroes who set out to defeat an ultimate evil and save the world. That sounds simple to someone who is familiar with these kind of games but there are a few terms to unpack here. Turn Based: Its not live action, its more like battleship with lots of players. The gameplay proceeds in rounds, every round you decide before it starts what each of your guys do. Then in the order of speediest guy to slowest guy (including the monsters) you watch with no control as the round unfolds. It allows for very precise strategic control of your party. Role Playing Game: A game where you take on the role of someone who is not you and make them do what you want. It used to be thought that this is a gameplay type that only fits in a swords and sorcery type world. Popular modern game series like Fallout and Persona show that nearly any setting can work with this genre. As far as gameplay role playing games are best known for their detailed combat mechanics and character improvement systems usually using levels to show how powerful a character is. The higher the level the stronger the character.

The setting is a fantastical world, its like a version of our history with a few alterations to make it more exciting.  Monsters roam the lands and people all live in houses where the doors all face south. It has many fantasy elements that are common to the genre and a few that make even the original title stand out from among other games of its era set in similar worlds. The characters weild mideval weapons like swords and axes and wear leather and metal armor. There is magic and magical healing and protective items. These things have been common in the genre since The Lord of the Rings. Its the technology that gives Final Fantasy its flavor. You come accross evidence of a lost empire called Luminaria that had robots and flying machines and such. These science fiction elements really give this world an interesting angle.

So I began my first complete passage through the game with some research. I asked the internets “what is the best class to beat the game quickly?” After all I had nine more to go I wanted to progress quickly. So I found that four Fighters or three Fighters and a Red Mage are among the groups that can make their way through the game the fastest. I chose the later setup.

Even with this carefully chosen group the going was slow. Every few steps some jerk monsters jumped out and stopped my progress while my guys chopped them to bits. About halfway through I grew impatient. I started running from battles and only fighting when the areas got harder and I needed to grow more powerful to progress safely.

Finally beating that game after flirting with the idea for about ten years felt really good.  I worked on it steadily without any breaks of more than a few days. My progress on this title was entertaining. I think that ultimatly I get tired of any one kind of party about halfway through the game. This game is one of my favorite in the series, its simple but its also fun. I few years later I beat the Gameboy Advance version more times that I would like to openly admit. Ok I beat it twice with a full party and three times with just one guy(Fighter, Whitemage and Redmage). I was eventually going to beat it with one guy from every class but my level 99 Monk couldn’t beat Chaos for the life of me. After 30 tries I decided to move on to better things.

Final Fantasy 2?

Not this one! I'll explain in part 2.

So after besting the original I set my eyes on the sequel, a very odd game that does many things nobody would see again for several decades, Final Fantasy 2.

06
Jun
10

Eve Blankets the Market

I don’t visit hundreds of websites, like most people I have a dozen or so I regularly visit that fit my interests.  So for the last two months or so every single one of my regular web-haunts has been advertising EVE-Online.  So I’m thinking that most people who like the stuff I like but don’t play EVE are wondering what the heck is it?This is the kind of advertisement that i'm talking about.

Well simply EVE-Online is an online multiplayer game about ships in outer space.  I’ve had an account on EVE-Online since 2007 and have enjoyed playing it for several years.  The story is pretty simple, in the future we filled up space then we found a portal to a new part of space we couldn’t get to otherwise. People went through en masse to this new region of the universe until one day the portal closed for no good reason.  The fledgling colonists mostly died and thousands of years later 5 civilizations arose from the ashes to eventually fill and conquer and fight over all of this region of space.

Unlike most other massively multiplayer online games EVE only has one official server, and a test server.  About thirty thousand people are online at any given time, it has lulls during the day of down to about twenty-seven thousand and it has a record of about forty-five thousand.  Also unlike other games of its ilk they shut it off for an hour every day, 4 to 5 am PST.

Before you rush over to play I want to warn everyone, EVE-Online is not for everyone.  It is very complicated and has a steep learning curve.  I’ve played a few other games in this realm like Final Fantasy 11 and City of Heroes and they are easier to learn.  City of Heroes I had down pat in about 2 weeks and Final Fantasy 11 took about a month to really get my head around.  EVE-Online has extensive tutorials but even now I don’t know how to use some of the features of the game.  For example, I could only give you fuzzy instructions on how to manufacture new items which I only did in a tutorial in 2007.  You can wring lots of fun out of EVE in a weeks worth of play, just keep in mind that utter mastery of the game would require a lot more effort than most other games on the market.

So you might be wondering, what makes this complicated game special?  I would say two aspects of its gameplay make it stand out from other similar games.  First off you never ever leave your ship. Your always floating out in space in your ship or floating in a starbase in your ship.  There is never a guy walking around that represents you, all people see of you is a unchangable portrait.  They explain this away in the setup saying that people who fly spaceships use special technology where they are permanently attached to a goo filled pod that is then inserted into various ships. The other thing that makes EVE-Online standout as a very different sort of game is the experience mechanic, very simply your character is always learning.  You set your guy a few skills to learn and logout, your guy is still learning while you’re at work or sleeping or doing whatever.

So if your still interested here are a few neat things you can busy your pod person with in Eve-Online.  Mining rocks, crafting items using the industrial system and trading are considered to be the three primary professions of EVE.  There are other ways you can busy yourself that are secondary such as Mission Running, PVP (killing other players is rad) and scamming people.  Turns out the creators of EVE don’t mind if you trick people and steal their money as long as you don’t break any of the rules while doing it.

Eve is a pretty game, each region has a different backdrop that you fly around and the ships and planets and other space things all look nice.  You will need a pretty good PC to play it.  A fancy single core with a gigabyte of RAM will run it ok.   The sound effects are forgettable and the canned music fits the atmosphere but I find it too relaxing, the game has a built-in music player that you can plug your mp3 music into so you can have your own soundtrack. I usually just keep the sound off and run iTunes in the background. My only gripe about the graphics are the character portraits, there are four playable “races” in EVE, each with three “sub-races”. You get to pick male or female, a race and a sub-race, giving you 24 faces to pick from, that’s it.  You can morph your face to look different but it’s still the same face, also once you’ve made your face your stuck with it.  The only way to change a character portrait is to pay ten bucks and go through a lengthy process that involves emailing the game people and lots of steps, annoying!

EVE has a unique way of being a very big game.  It can nearly be what you want it to be, you can quietly mine rocks in the middle of nowhere until you fall asleep from boredom or you can join an alliance of thousands of players in unguarded space and constantly fight in battles that outscale anything in the StarWars movies.  EVE does have some issues with lagging during big battles though.

So to sum it up, EVE-Online is an excellent way to spend your money and time.  But it’s not for everyone.  The game costs about fifteen dollars a month to play and you can buy a bulk time package for a reduced cost.  You can even spend in-game money to buy time that other players have bought.  Its fun but very complex and you will find yourself planning months into the future on your skill training just to get that new ship you want.

06
Jun
10

My Current Ways To Distract Myself

I have several hobbies, but I am a gamer foremost. I play video games primarily and collectable card games and board games and tabletop rpgs to a lesser extent. I currently have active accounts with EVE online and I may be activating a Champions Online account soon. I am a former player of City of Heroes and City of Villains and Dungeons & Dragons Online. I played some older text-based online games as well, Dragon Realms and Gemstone 3 primarily. I have a PS2 and a PS3 hooked up and I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 12 on the PS2 and watching videos on the PS3 lately. Besides video games I have a large collection of Magic The Gathering cards which I play occasionally. I am active on Facebook and listen to Coast To Coast AM on my iPhone. I have other interests as well but for the last few months these have captured most of my spare time. On a less interactive front I’ve recently subscribed to the anime streaming site Crunchyroll.com and have watched several series there.

13
Dec
09

Hello internetinaughts!

Greetings lost internetinaughts and welcome to my amazing first post! I can’t imagine you found your way here on purpose so I assume your lost. I feel bad for you. Since your here and I am a classy guy, I will fill your brain bucket with absolutely necessary information.  Prepare for knowledge annihilation!