Let’s play catch-up!

February 21, 2010

I just punched God into the sun with my hair.  This game (Bayonetta) is nuts.  Also, awesome.  Also, completed.

Lots of other new games added to the list (and crossed off!) since last I deigned to show my face ’round these parts… Perhaps I shall discuss them!

Holiday haul netted me Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade.  Separately, I also picked up Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Demon’s Souls: Where’s My Freakin’ Subtitle?

So far, all but Demon’s Souls have also been crossed off the list, as well as Valkyria Chronicles, which had been stubbornly holding on since last winter.  It was actually one of those situations where the game was good enough that I didn’t really want it to end so as I came to the close, I kinda set it down and went on to other games.  Same sorta thing happened to me with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Final Fantasy XII.

Speaking of fantasies final, I picked up Dissidia: Final Fantasy over the summer when it came out (it’s not on the list since it’s not really a plot-driven game, although I have defeated Chaos a few times with various heroes), and it sent me on a total FF kick.  Unfortunately, it didn’t really do what I needed it to.  Rather than spurring me on to complete Final Fantasy IV on the DS (which it did drive me back to playing for a short while, although I had to start my game over for lack of remembering WTF I was doing), or driving me to finish Final Fantasy X-2 (which I did fire up again, only to be truly disgusted with the voice acting, music, “plot,” setting, theme, and just overall tone of the game… although godDAMN does it have a fun battle system)… No, instead of sending me down a productive path (in the sense of knocking some stuff off this list), it kindled a nostalgia for Final Fantasy IX, XI, and XII.  Now, IX was an incredible game, and is locked in a death struggle with XII to be my second favorite of all time (Final Fantasy VI is perched safely atop that particular mountain… fired it up via Anthology while I was on this FF bender, too, but that’s neither here nor there), but I’ve already completed it, well before this project had even begun.  XII suffers the same problem… I’ve already finished it (as seen in The List… XII didn’t get completed until this project was underway), so while playing it again would certainly be fun, I’d feel a little bad (just a little… I’ve obviously not got too big of qualms about ignoring this thing for months on end ;)

Final Fantasy XI, though… Okay… I picked it up back in The Day when it came out.  And it was awesome.  Like, totally awesome, as in I’m not sure I remembered a time (at the time) when I’d found a game quite as awesome.  Loved the graphics, loved the art design, loved the setting, LOVED the job system… it was just fantastic all around.  Too fantastic.  I ended up spending all my free time playing it.  I’m sure there’s some World of Warcraft addict reading this right now, nodding his/her head and thinking “I feel ya.”  And aside from the fact that I was losing all outside contact to the game, I was hitting a point where the actual playing wasn’t really fun anymore… I usually prefer to be able to solo in MMOs (yeah, yeah, missing the point, etc, but if I’m paying a subscription fee, I shouldn’t have to waste hours waiting for someone else to validate my playtime by stooping to joining a party with me, but that’s going off on a tangent), but FFXI absolutely demands grouping at a pretty early point in its character progression.  I finally decided that between the lack of life outside the game and the annoyance of dealing with grouping in the game that it was time to quit, so I did.  Skip ahead a few years now to last fall, and I’m going through that massive Final Fantasy bender, and thoughts of XI take root in my head… They grow and grow and just won’t go away until finally I couldn’t take it any longer, I grabbed the 14-day free trial (new email address, credit card, and address since I last played means they’ve got no idea I’d already been a subscriber before), soloed for 2 weeks (the game’s become much more solo-friendly in my absence), and then had to fight the urge to actually subscribe once it was over.  I succeeded, though, although the release of the Final Fantasy XI Ultimate Collection at EXACTLY the same time was really not helpful (nor was Steam’s discounting it during the holidays).  Anyway, this is all just to take up space say that I kinda dodged a bullet there, as if I HAD fallen back to XI, I kinda doubt I’d be posting here at all, even as late as this.

I probably will end up going back and playing some XII again at some point in the near future, though.  The impending release of Final Fantasy XIII is making me think back to the last entry and just how good it was.  Probably won’t be able to resist that for long.

Alright, so let’s get back on topic here.  Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Great game.  We need more games like this, in the 3rd-person Metroidvania milieu.  Everything that everyone has said about it truly being a Batman simulator is exactly right.  Not really sure I can add anything more to the discussion of this game than what’s already been said, so on to…

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time.  Another great game, and although it’s taken some hits for not really bringing enough new to the series, I would argue that a series that’s been honed as finely as R&C has doesn’t really NEED too much new brought to the party with each iteration.  The Clank puzzles were pretty fun and there was just the right amount of them.  I could see an entire game built around the mechanic getting annoying very quickly (sorry, Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom… your demo was fun and your aesthetic is right up my alley, but I can’t help but think you’re gonna run out of good times pretty early on), but A Crack in Time moved away from them just as I was starting to tire of it.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade.  Gorgeous.  Just a stunningly beautiful game.  Only wish it were on the 360 or the PS3, as it took absolutely NO advantage of the Wii hardware, and would look about a hojillion times better in HD than it already does in SD (which is truly saying something as it’s already jaw-dropping as it is).  Gameplay’s pretty fun, too… feels very vaguely like Metroidvania-lite, and you all know my penchant for Metroidvanias.  Played this one through all three endings with both characters… just couldn’t get enough.  It also gave me a taste to go back and try again on Odin Sphere, being by the same developer and having a similar graphic style what with the hand-painted 2D look and all.  I dug Odin Sphere back out of my closet after finishing Muramasa, but I haven’t yet fired it up, so we’ll see how that goes…

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes.  I’m not always the best at puzzle games.  Timers tend to annoy me rather than instill a sense of urgency and thus fun.  I DO like RPGs, though.  So when Infinite Interactive released Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords a couple years back, I snatched it up and found it awesome.  (I also grabbed Puzzle Quest: Galactrix upon its release, which was decidedly less awesome, but still had its moments, but I digress).  Clash of Heroes falls firmly in the puzzle/RPG genre that Infinite Interactive started… It’s a ton of fun, with a puzzle mechanic I haven’t come across before.  Not really a whole lot more I can think to say about it…  Could’ve used a bit more single-player, I suppose, but whatever… I’m not really complaining.

Demon’s Souls.  Ah, Demon’s Souls, the big gamer bogeyman of 2009.  Everyone tried to scare each other with tales of its difficulty and how harsh is the penalty for dying in it, etc., etc.  Well, everyone’s right.  It’s really tough, and when you die, it gets tougher.  But it’s also a LOT of fun, and if you’re careful and methodical, the difficulty is more than manageable.  Now, keep in mind, I haven’t finished it yet, and in fact, I’m not even super far into it, but I have taken out three bosses or so, and really only had trouble with one of them.  Big recommendation on this one.

Bayonetta.  And so we end where we began.  Bayonetta is a weird game.  Like, super weird.  As my wife put it, it looks like it was designed by either 13-year-old boys, or drag queens.  Possibly both.  But hell, the weirdness is the point.  Well, that and the awesome combat (even if it did take me until the second-to-last chapter to figure out how to change my weapons).

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I Feel Shame

January 4, 2009

Okay, so it’s coming up on half a year since my last post… did you REALLY expect any different?  I did, but apparently I’m delusional about my own ability to keep up on this blog.  But enough about that.  How about I try to catch up?

When I posted last I had just started playing around with the backwards compatibility of my PS3, having finished up Champions of Norrath.  I moved along from there to Dark Cloud 2, which had no discernable issues on the PS3, although I ended up stalling out on it again rather quickly.  I also gave the PS1 compatibility a shot (not that I had any concern about that part of it… hell, even the current PS2-less PS3s have PS1 backwards compatibility) by firing up Xenogears.  Now, Xenogears is one of those games that I picked up way back in The Day as soon as I got my PS2 but never actually got around to through no fault of its own.  I did get farther into it this time than I did originally, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve made any sort of Progress whatsoever.  I did, however, discover that the wife of one of the characters is maybe just a wee bit too forthcoming with guests as to her husband’s activities:

xenojunk1

Then again, apparently everybody knows about this dude’s “hobby”:

xenojunk2

Around that point I just sort of wandered on to other games as I have a habit of doing, leaving the PS3 to moulder for a while as I headed off towards other pursuits.  I believe it was around this time that I finally picked up Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, which I’m going to use to replace the original Final Fantasy Tactics on The List.  Again, I got further on this one than I had when I first attempted it with the original game, but I still stalled out pretty early on in the game.  And as long as I’m on the topic of handheld Fantasies Final, I should also mention that I added Final Fantasy IV for the DS onto the list.  While I have played a majority of the game in the past, I’ve never actually finished it up (never owned it when it was released here as Final Fantasy II, although my brothers and I rented it a few times, and then it always just seemed to slip through the cracks emulation-wise while I was busy with fan-translations of III and V).

So let’s see… it was probably around that point that I overhauled my PC, Enoch, in anticipation of Spore (letdown) and Fallout 3 (not a letdown).  The problem here is that having a newly-capable gaming PC led me down that path, much to the chagrin of my consoles — the focal point of this project.  I was able to sneak Fable II in when it hit, and even managed to complete it!  but for the last 3-4 months of the year, I was busy with Spore (didn’t finish), Fallout 3 (did finish and considered adding to the list since it’s “Games for Windows – LIVE”, but I figured cherry-picking’s a bit uncouth), The Witcher Enhanced Edition (didn’t finish), Left 4 Dead (finished what single-player bits there are at least once), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl (just barely started), and probably more I’m forgetting about right now.

I did end up heading back to Consoletowne after Christmas, as I doubled my PS3 library, receiving both Resistance 2 and Valkyria Chronicles as gifts.  I’m a couple of chapters into Resistance 2 and so far it’s surpassing its predecessor just as expected.  I imagine I’ll expound upon it in more detail when I’ve got more of it under my belt.  Valkyria Chronicles, however, has totally dominated my playing time between the two games.  The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is amazing, the voice acting doesn’t make me want to gouge my ears out as is so often the case with Japanese games… it’s a VERY impressive package.  Nice to see the PS3 get an awesome exclusive (although to be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting the game to go over as well in the market as it should, so it’s not like the exclusive on it is going to catapult Sony back up to the number 1 spot).

Now try not to laugh too hard, but I’m going to tentatively set myself a goal of an update at least every week in 2009.  We all know it’s not going to happen, but I really do feel shame about going almost six full months without touching this blog and would like to get back on track with it.  I do intend to eventually get through all these games, so I can’t in good conscience just give up, which means I can’t give up the posting here, either.  I believe what’s held me back from posting in the past has been a desire to always knock one out of the park with each post.  If I didn’t have something witty to say or something new to report I just left it alone.  I figure I can work on that and start posting general discussion bits if nothing else… perhaps the blog’ll become that much less entertaining than it already is (although that’s tough to fathom), but at least it won’t be totally barren.  And so with another lonely update in the books I head to bed… perhaps I’ll see you in a week?


Champions of Backwards Compatibility

July 18, 2008

I decided today to give the backwards compatibility of my PS3 its first go.  Skimming the List, I spotted Champions of Norrath, which I seemed to recall having gotten pretty far into before I got sidetracked from it and moved along to something else.  According to Sony, the only issue in the single-player part of the game is that “During gameplay, when the user displays the Inventory menu screen, portions of character model on the right side of the screen intermittently appears corrupted.”  Seeing as how the character model in the inventory screen is completely superfluous to the actual gameplay, I decided to throw it in and see what I could find out.

Turns out, it ran flawlessly for me, without even so much as a flicker of the inventory screen model appearing corrupted.  One quick quest and a boss battle later, and I’m one game closer to my goal.  I just hope all of my PS2-on-PS3 experiences go as smoothly (although I’m sure that’s a bit much to ask for).


A New Challenger Appears!

July 8, 2008

Another long drought in the beleaguered land of OHPC-istan is interrupted by the life-giving rains of my prose.  Yes, I bless you all again with my presence before I most likely scuttle back under the rock from whence I came.  As always before, I didn’t actually intend to go so long without posting, but after finishing up the classes mentioned in my last post, I’d just sort of been out of gaming too long and didn’t really know where to start in order to have something to post about.  To be fair, I also had a hell of a time trying to get back on the horse as far as my comic-reading went, as well…  In fact, I still have a bunch of issues of DMZ to catch up on.  So anyway, excuses, excuses… back to the title of the current post.

Some of you already are aware (since I know you in meatspace) and others of you may have spotted the super-stealth-ninja updates to the List (I’m sneaky like that) indicating that I am now the proud owner of one 80GB PlayStation 3 (this being the titular “new challenger”).  I had been holding off on the PS3 at first due to price considerations and general lack of interest in the system’s exclusive games roster.  Sure, the price came down with the introduction of the 40GB model, but given the pile of PS2 games I still have yet to complete, I’d like as much backwards compatibility as I can get my paws on.  The 60GB with the full backwards compatibility is, of course, discontinued and the prices are still way high on eBay.  The Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle with the 80GB system was the sweet spot for me.  With it being a limited edition, I couldn’t count on Sony making the 80GB system available ever again, so I pre-ordered the system from the Gamestapo and received it after a relatively-minor amount of drama with UPS.  With the new system come new games that need to be completed, of course, making progress on the original games on the list that much harder.

Two new games were added as a result of these goings-on: Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction and Resistance: Fall of Man.  “A-ha,” you may exclaim, “your schooling has failed you as you mistook the number 2 for the number 3!  You purchased the Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle and so I know you own that game in addition to the two you’ve named!”  You may at this point twirl your moustaches smugly whilst grinning triumphantly.  Or not.  Either way, twirling or no, I made no mistake in my previous statement as I do not intend to play Metal Gear Solid 4, and in fact will trade or sell it at the first opportunity.  Since the last Metal Gear game I played was the first Metal Gear Solid and I didn’t even finish that, I’m in no position to jump on board with the fourth installment.  Nor do I have any desire to play two and a half old games that I successfully avoided their first time around just to have the background necessary to watch play this one.

So.  Two additions accounted for… but eagle-eyed readers (you should probably see a doctor about that… or maybe a vet… not sure if having an animal’s eyes is really normal, but if it works for you, then hey… who’m I to judge?) will have noticed a total of three extra games on the List.  The final one being Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates on the DS, which I had been eyeing for some time and finally decided to snag once my classes had finished up back in May.

Through all of this, my overall percentage has, in fact, gone up.  From what, I cannot say off the top of my head, as I was too dense to note where it was before I started doing my sneaky-sneaky-behind-the-scenes-no-proper-posting List updating, but I suppose I could figure it out… [does some subtraction, some division] I’m gonna say 29.5%.  So from 29.5% up to 31.9%, the reason being that I finished every game I’ve added.  In some cases, multiple times (sort of).  Crystal Chronicles I played through a solo game in the multiplayer milieu first, and actually did so multiple times in order to get through all the difficulty levels… it was a pretty addictive game.  The single-player portion was tedious at best, however, with annoying characters and a storyline that I REALLY couldn’t have given a damn about, but a mission’s a mission and I soldiered through it solely to be able to tell you all I’ve done so.  Ratchet & Clank is another one that I played through multiple times, although the subsequent playthroughs were quick affairs of maybe two days or so, since it’s basically a New Game + situation.  I actually went through as much as I did to stretch the life of the game… it really is excellent, and with only one other game on the PS3, I wanted to make it last as long as possible.  I even went so far as to obtain every Skill Point in the game, despite my original assertions on this blog that I wasn’t going to do such a thing.  In truth, my original position is that I’m not going to require myself to hit 100% within each game, but as with Metroid Prime 3, if it happens, it happens.  Finally, then, just today (erm… yesterday, technically) I finished up Resistance with all its delectable alternate history goodness.  I may still go back through that one to get a few more Skill Points in there, although probably not all of ’em as some of ’em seem like they’re gonna be a lot more trouble than they’re worth.

And so, my updating duties completed for this quarter, I now take my leave of you.  I want to talk more about the PlayStation 3 in general, and so if all goes well, I should be posting my thoughts about the system in the near future.  I would’ve liked to go into it in this post, but the hour’s getting late, and the wordcount’s getting obscene.  Just as I mentioned in my last post, I want to get back to more-regular posting, but I make no guarantees so’s I can’t actually break any promises.