Recently, a number of our posts here have focused, in ways directly or indirectly, on challenges associated with being adult gamers. As much as we might not like to admit it, as we grow older, our gaming habits change, sometimes by choice, often by necessity. Demanding jobs, growing families, and surmounting financial concerns all eat away at free time that we may have once had to devote to games. In my gaming life, the requirements of the real world have especially impacted one of my gaming habits in particular, that of playing through a single game with multiple characters and having each follow a distinct path.
I write so many posts, and they get published in random orders, I don’t know what I’ve already said and what I haven’t. But, if I haven’t, here’s a recap: RPG’s are really, really tiring.
I have been doing nothing but playing one RPG after another for the last, I don’t know, eight months, and while they are good games, and I largely enjoy playing them, I haven’t been as thrilled to play video games as I used to be, and frankly, it worries me. I certainly wasn’t getting bored of them, as I still love them as much as ever, and people are still forbidden from touching them, or even looking at them too closely, for that matter.
Seriously, don’t touch them. Continue reading Just What the Duck Needed
As the beginning of 2014, you know how many games for which I was so incredibly excited I was counting down the minutes to the released dates? Exactly zero. That’s not to say I wasn’t looking forward to a few games (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, and Fable Anniversary, for example), or that I was oblivious to the release of the likes of Titanfall, Thief, or other big budget titles. It’s just that nothing new really lit up all my gaming cylinders.
So here we are nine months later, and only one game has me all a’jittery – Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s the only game this year that I’ve even thought of pre-ordering. And if I do get it, well…it’s still an if. (Though I probably will get it.)
Lately, I’ve been much more interested in less current games: older Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii games, as well many from generations long gone. It’s not that current games aren’t awesome and all, it’s just that…that…well… Continue reading Retro Bound?
(image by Flickr user: mattjerome_88)
Pokémon is perhaps among the most misunderstood series in the industry today. They’re games we don’t take very seriously for a variety of reasons: it’s obviously aimed at little kids; the “monsters” look silly; the plot is formulaic; the only change with each sequel is the amount of monsters available; and above all else, the gameplay is more or less just rock-paper-scissors with monsters. However, if this was the truth then by all rights the now 16-year-old series should have run its course by now. It hasn’t though; Pokémon is just as popular as it’s always been, with no end in sight. So the question is this: What is it about Pokémon that’s kept it going for so long? And the short answer is: it incredibly complex, even surprisingly so! Continue reading The Wonderful(ly Frustrating) Complexity of Pokemon
1988: Phantasy Star celebrates 25th anniversary
As far as RPGs go, Phantasy Star was among those that set the stage for future games of the genre. It’s also fondly rememeber by some as being among the best games for the Sega Master System. In the game, players traversed a planetary system called Algol that was under the thumb of a belevolent-turned-malevolent ruler named King Lassic. They took on the role of Alis, a member of the rebellion forces, who was joined by a drew of characters, and fought over the course of several different worlds to eventually face the evil Lassic. Phantasy Star set itself apart from other similar games of the time with its story-driven play and female protagonist.
It was rather early in 2008 when Square-Enix announced their plans to re-release Chrono Trigger for the Nintendo DS. After playing through the fully upgraded visuals and new 3D perspective of Final Fantasy III, I was eager to see what sort of treatment Chrono Trigger would receive. Would Square-Enix rebuild the game with a 3D engine, or keep the visuals in 2D but re-draw all of the sprites? The soundtrack certainly deserved to be re-mastered, maybe even with a symphonic performance track. My head was buzzing with the thoughts of one of my favorite games being brought back and drastically improved.
Then the first screenshots came out and they were… the same as always. It seemed that the only changes being lauded by Square-Enix were the inclusion of anime-style cutscenes (which were already made for the PS1 port, and could be watched anytime on Youtube), an extra dungeon or two, and a Pokemon-esque battle arena. Hoo-freakin-ray.
Needless to say, I gave up on buying this seemingly lackluster port and moved on to other major releases in 2008. Nearly five years (and one massive sale) later, I decided to pick up Chrono Trigger DS and complete yet another playthrough of a classic RPG. What I found upon this tiny cartridge was not just another lackluster rom-dump of an old game, but the perfect version of a Super Nintendo classic.
Right from the start of the game, there are two new options that take advantage of the design of the DS. The first of these is using the touch screen controls to navigate the game menus and commands. The second gives the option of playing with all of the menus displayed on the lower screen of the handheld, leaving the actual game world on the top screen. This is huge. Chrono Trigger is well-known for its distinct art style by Akira Toriyama, and being able to enjoy the game’s visuals without any sort of menu clutter is an excellent upgrade. All of the memorable battles and gorgeous sprite work were presented like never before, and I was able to appreciate the art from a new perspective.
The story has been expanded to a degree as well. A fresh translation was completed and included, which provides a more accurate and fleshed-out narrative. This means that all of the “cafes” from the SNES version have been transformed back into taverns and pubs, and any sort of mature content/dialogue has returned, which certainly gives the cast of characters more depth. The cutscenes add a bit of flair to the game, and run quite nicely on the DS. Furthermore, an extra ending was added, which creates stronger ties from the game to its pseudo-sequel, Chrono Cross. All of this is topped off with an in-game encyclopedia which catalogs and details every enemy, boss, item, and ending as the player encounters each one.
So far, this post must seem like nothing more than a roaring endorsement of Chrono Trigger DS (guilty as charged), but what I am really trying to get across is that this game serves as a template more publishers should follow when re-releasing older titles. Instead of simply providing players with a fancy emulator to play old games, companies should be piling on special treatment to these classics. Imagine downloading a game from the Virtual Console or PSN Classics and receiving tons of concept art, developer interviews, or even the original instruction manual for a game. Planning to release an HD collection of games from the Playstation 2? Include the original versions, voice actor interviews, bonus games; really the sky’s the limit with this stuff. It may cost a bit more to add these tidbits to a re-release, but the content is certainly worth it and I am ready for video games to receive the same fanfare and treatment as the film industry.