My To-Do List

As another generation of gaming comes to a close, I can’t help but think about the games I haven’t yet gotten around to playing. Plus I’m eagerly anticipating grabbing up some of these titles during a Buy 1 Get 1 Used weekend sale at Gamestop during the holiday season! Right now we have a Wii and PS3 for home consoles, so that’s what I’ll be brainstorming for. Feel free to make any suggestions if there’s some hidden gems out there you don’t think I’ve played.

Wii

I don’t anticipate this list being too long. I own and have played most of the Nintendo staples I buy their systems for. But again, if there’s a good Wii game you’d like to suggest, pipe up!

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess– We own this one. Hubby played it and I still need to dedicate the time to experience one of the Wii’s first games.

Kirby’s Dream Collection– I love Kirby games. I bought the new Wii games that came out this generation and this is a collection of old school Kirby games I have and haven’t played.

No More Heroes– Suda 51, right? I worked at Gamestop when this game came out and it seemed to be an underground hit.

Manhunt 2– Most violent video game ever, huh? Sign me up!

The Last Story– Given who the development team is and the fact that it has Nobuo Uematsu’s music, I really don’t know how I haven’t played this game yet.

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon– I’m not under any illusions that this is a good game… it’s just collecting dust on my shelf.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles– Steve-O and I blasted through Darkside Chronicles in one sitting. I’d like to experience the first RE rail shooter.

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of them right now.

Playstation 3

I haven’t missed too many blockbuster releases in the last couple of years, but there are many less popular titles I’m wishing I’d invested in instead. And there are a few (though not many) games sitting on my shelf I haven’t beaten yet.

The Mass Effect Trilogy– I know, don’t hurt me.

Tomb Raider– This game looks totally awesome. And it has a strong female lead.

Asura’s Wrath– The over-the-top, flashy battle system looks totally up my alley.

Journey– I am trying to support indie developers more. Journey seems like a good addition to my small indie library.

Valkyria Chronicles– One of those games I own and started. Got stuck at the stupidly hard boss fight against the chick who looks like KOS-MOS and haven’t gone back to it yet.

Batman: Arkham Asylum– I recently downloaded this for stupid cheap. I suspect I will be playing it soon.

Batman: Arkham City– Of course if I like Asylum I will play this too.

Borderlands, Borderlands 2– I bet the PC version is better. Too bad I already have the disc for the first Borderlands we borrowed from someone waiting to be played.

inFamous– I even downloaded it for free when Sony offered three free games to assuage everyone when PSN was down for a month.

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch– I think it’s pretty awesome Studio Ghibli made an RPG. I’d really like to check this one out.

There are not enough hours in the day. Nevermind the mile long list of PS1 and PS2 games I have yet to beat. I really should make up a list for those, too. I also downloaded Shadow of the Colossus HD for super cheap. Honestly, I don’t know why I keep adding to my game library! I can’t help myself. The gaming gods are cruel, cruel masters.

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Bioshock Replayed!

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Would you kindly not stick that drill in my face?

I’ve had the itch to play the first Bioshock game again for a long while. Bioshock Infinite being packaged with a free copy of the game didn’t ease the urge at all. Since Infinite’s release, everyone seems to be on a big Bioshock kick, borrowing my copies of the games and discussing the ingeniously crafted universe. I got to the point where I could no longer help myself. I watched the credits roll yesterday morning and I said to myself, “Now I remember why this is the game that converted me to the world of First Person Shooters.”

There probably isn’t anything I can say about the first Bioshock game that hasn’t yet been said. But I can offer a fresh perspective as I am one of those gamers whose experience with FPS games was limited to hanging around Halo parties for the free food and being the last person selected to be on a team and always being the first to die and having the most deaths per whatever. FPS games never really clicked with me before Bioshock. I played RPGs and platformers and action games. Hell, I even played more arcade style fighting games than FPS shooters. I think, maybe because my exposure to FPS games was limited to Halo tournaments in which I exercised my right to get shanked about 100 different ways, I assumed they amounted to little more than running around shooting things in this weird camera perspective that I wasn’t used to and made life a bitch whenever an enemy snuck up behind me. In fact, I am still guilty of asking “What’s the big deal about Halo?” (probably due more to my bias against Microsoft) but after playing this gem again, I began to think that maybe Halo did the same thing for a lot of gamers that Bioshock did for me.

In a 10-15 hour campaign, Bioshock manages to do what it takes a lot of games over 30 hours to do: create an immersive and intriguing world filled with characters you can’t help but bond with. One of the most magical points of Bioshock is the strange Big Daddy-Little Sister bond. The disturbing images of young girls walking around with their dangerous (and apparently smelly) paternal figures, sticking needles into dead corpses to collect ADAM, does a lot to paint Rapture’s landscape. The Little Sisters speak very few lines, but what they do say is memorable and made it so I couldn’t help but pity them. And the Big Daddies? They don’t even need to speak. The rush of excitement and fear I felt the first few times I could hear them moaning while escorting their little ladies gave me chills. Unlike survival horror games where you often have the big badass that you must continually turn tail and run from, in Bioshock you barely have the choice NOT to go toe-to-toe with these monstrosities. And you’re rewarded fittingly for doing so.

Speaking of fighting Big Daddies, I did have a small thought when I started this playthrough that I would be a meanie and harvest the Little Sisters. That didn’t last very long. Amidst Tenenbaum’s pleas and offering to make it worth my while to save them, and remembering I had a few more trophies I wanted to unlock, I decided to play the good guy. Tenenbaum is an example of another great character who has few direct dialogue and interactions with the main character. Even less if you decide to harvest all of the Little Sisters. Tenenbaum ends up filling a maternal role for the Little Sisters she was responsible for creating (surprise, surprise), but opposing her stereotypical maternal instinct kicking in, she is a brilliant scientist who managed to escape death in Hitler’s infamous prison camps due to her incredible intellect.

Sander Cohen is another great character. I can’t believe I forgot about this crazy son of a bitch. I guess one of the perks to having a bad memory is getting to know crazy characters like him all over again. This time around I didn’t kill him when given the chance. For steadying your trigger finger, you’re rewarded with meeting Sander again in his apartment. There’s also a Power to the People station here and I was aiming to collect all of those.

I was super thorough this playthrough. I didn’t use a walkthrough and I still found all of the weapon upgrade stations and all of the Little Sisters. I still didn’t find all of the audio diaries. And this comes to one of my few not-glistening-with-admiration comments about this game. I’m not completely sold on audio logs scattered and hiding around the environment. Especially when they are the sole providers of a lot of essential information. I play games as much for the story and characters as I do for gratuitous violence and escapism. I hate missing interesting tidbits that help the player see into the eyes of other characters or explain bits of lore because I didn’t think to backtrack to a certain location after a certain plot point. Plus, whenever I am trying to pay attention to an audio log, I always seem to get inundated with splicer friends who want a piece of me. I understand the point of the mechanic, to not take away from the player and the action, but I am the kind of person who is more than happy to relinquish control for a minute if it will better help me understand why I’m doing what I’m doing, or how the underwater utopia fell from grace. Who leaves those things lying around, anyway?

Another big factor that won me over to this game is magic! I always assumed FPS games had ‘just guns.’ I’ve always been partial to magic in video games. It helps with the fantastical element. Plus magic is flashy. And requires less aiming. Anyway, guns are something I associate with the real world and don’t excite me as much as being able to turn someone into a human icicle, or hypnotizing Big Daddies, or sicking a swarm of insects on a Thuggish Splicer and standing back and chuckling as chaos ensues. And Telekinesis… My gawd. The awesomeness of being able to kill a splicer by throwing a dead splicer at it is priceless. So imagine my excitement when I heard about a FPS game with “magic” incorporated in it. In fact, as the game progresses, you begin to piece together how Plasmids, along with Andrew Ryan’s ordeals and Fontaine’s treachery, played an enormous part in leading to Rapture’s downfall.

The first Bioshock is only about five or six years old. It hasn’t aged for very long. It still stands up to the newer entries in the series, though there are some features that I wish it had. I need to play Bioshock 2 again (or don’t I?) because I don’t remember when they smartened up and let you keep track of how many audio diaries you’ve collected and such. But I wish there was a way (and if there is, can someone tell me where to find it) to keep track of your enemy research status and collection numbers like in Infinite. I also wish there was a button assigned to melee. I’d be much more inclined to use the wrench if I didn’t have to select it on the weapon wheel every time I wanted to swing it. And why, oh why, is there not a New Game+ mode?

As much as I like Infinite, it is lacking a lot of the magic Bioshock had. The Splicers made a huge impact on the world of Rapture, and they were downright hilarious at times. Seriously, they’ve got some of the best lines. And Bioshock took the time to explain the Plasmids and their effect on the world. Infinite’s Vigors are there just because they have to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed my return to Rapture and one of the best games of this generation. I can’t recommend this game enough. Even to people like me who generally aren’t interested in FPS games. If Bioshock doesn’t win you over I’ll never suggest another game to you ever again. Now… would you kindly go play this game already?

Dragon Fantasy Book 1

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It’s Dragon Quest! It’s Final Fantasy! No, it’s Dragon Fantasy!

I’m still coming down from the high of playing another fun indie gem. I’ll bet you thought my next post would be about The Last of Us. As hubby and I are playing the game through together (playing Naughty Dog’s games together has become one of our things) and we just finished a week of  “camping,” we unfortunately haven’t had as much time to play as we’d like. I did sneak my PS Vita along for the vacation and was able to sink a few hours into Dragon Fantasy.

Dragon Fantasy was made for people like me. I love old school RPGs. The lengthy dungeons and difficulty have a certain nostalgic charm to them. I also love media that is not shy about poking fun at itself. And boy, does Dragon Fantasy poke fun at itself and the genre. I knew I would enjoy this game when I fought Mr. and Mrs. Rock Monster on the world map. I won’t spoil the narration, but suffice it to say the silly one-liners and dialogue will have you chuckling.

I played the Playstation 3/Vita version of this game. It includes features such as trophies, cross-saving, and enhanced graphics and music.  This means you can swap between 8-bit NES or 16-bit SNES styles on the fly. I had a hard time deciding which I liked better. It really just depended on my mood. Although I think I like the battle theme in 8-bit style better.

Dragon Fantasy is also the only game I’ve ever earned 100% of the trophies for (I hope that gives you a general idea of how much I generally care about trophies). When I looked at the trophy list it wasn’t long or difficult, and I was also looking for a little more life out of this game since it is rather short, so I mopped up the leftover trophies after my first playthrough of all four chapters. I didn’t get a platinum trophy, but I wouldn’t really feel like I earned it because getting all the trophies in this game was really easy.

Dragon Fantasy is divided into four different chapters, so I’ll give a brief overview and opinion on each chapter.

Chapter 1: Dragon Fantasy- This is Ogden’s story. Being the longest of the four chapters, it is hard not to think of this as the main plot with the others offering supplemental information that fleshes out the story. Ogden is past his prime, having served the Queen of Westeria for many years. He is bald, thanks to losing his hair fighting a dragon when he was 16. No word on why his hair never grew back. Or how the dragon managed to miss his ginger beard. Anyway, instead of being smart and retiring, he lets “Woodsman” talk him into going on an adventure to gather legendary armor so he can battle the nefarious Dark Knight who completely embarrassed him in the scripted loss at the start of the game.

Not only is Ogden’s chapter the longest, but it is also the hardest. My advice is to enter this chapter with the following mindset: You NEED to grind and you NEED to heal. A lot. Like, between each encounter. I tried doing a “speed run” because I’m an idiot and saved over my Ogden game before I decided to go back and “read” all the books for the trophy. Doing a “speed run” without taking time to grind for a couple of good pieces of gear between dungeons wasn’t really happening. I ended up pausing to grind just like the first time I played this chapter. It is a fact of old school JRPGs anyway, only lightened by the fact that this is a short game so you won’t spend 30 hours of your life doing it.

Ogden is completely alone during his entire chapter. This means you have one character to rely on for healing and damage, thus the main reason his chapter is the hardest. My only issue with this was when I got screwed while fighting Obligatory Orcs. More than once the orc literally pummeled me to death while I was taking a nap. Then I got to trek all the way back to the volcano from the nearest town and do it all over again. In Dragon Fantasy, when you die you res at your last save (in a church) without losing any progress. The catch is you lose half of your money. Losing money was a big deal for me in about the first 3/4s of Ogden’s chapter.  So, you end up debating whether you want to take the hit in your wallet or lose any levels you gained and/or treasure chests you already opened.

Chapter 2: The Heir Unapparent- This chapter follows Prince Anders. His brother, Prince Marlon, is kidnapped in the beginning of the game. Anders is lucky enough to get booted back into the castle and escape via a secret passageway with a soldier named Chest Manstrong. I know, he has the best name ever. As you can see, this chapter starts off with multiple party members! If you play your cards right, you can have a full party to adventure with. Beware, Casty the caster has a retardedly low MP pool when you first recruit her. Remember the Final Fantasy days when Ethers were stupidly expensive and only restored a trifle amount of MP? The creators of Dragon Fantasy remember too. Ethers are cleverly disguised as Potato Juice in this game. Because of how scant her MP pool and spell list are, I equipped Casty with a Hammer and demoted her to heal bitch when needed. Anders gets a ton of cool offensive spells anyway.

I liked this chapter due to the multiple party members addition and how open it was compared to Ogden’s story. I actually sidestepped Derwent and Lakehaven the first time I played and went straight for the Trials. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I did it and survived just fine. I am a fan of using magic, and thanks to Anders’ awesome magic spells and having more than one party member I was able to use magic for more than just healing. Trust me… Ogden’s MP pool will be conserved for healing.

Chapter 3: Operation Desert Plunder- Ah, Jerald. He is one of those “thieves with a good heart stealing for the right reasons” kinda characters. In Jerald’s case, you spend his chapter going on missions to earn enough money to purchase passports for himself and his niece, Ramona. She is also a playable party member. This chapter builds on the awesomeness of Chapter 2. Here, you have multiple party members. Except now you also fight more than one monster per encounter.  And SKILLS! Like Steal! I am a loot whore and love stealing items from enemies. In fact, when I began Jerald’s chapter, I wandered around the world map without really knowing what I was doing. I entered a dungeon alone (bad idea in these types of games) and I was even able to sustain myself with the Herbs stolen from the monsters. Stealing has about as high a success rate as you would imagine, but I still somehow managed to never run out of herbs.

As with Anders’ chapter, this is pretty free roaming. Once you go to the thieves’ guild you can choose in which order you want to tackle your dungeon lootfests. Or you can do what I did and spend half an hour looting the innocent townsfolk of their money. Didn’t take me long to get that trophy. The other skills besides Steal were lackluster at best.

Intermission M: Minecraft homage/parody thing! This is a humorous side-story in which you get to recruit monsters and experience some Minecraft parodying. Unfortunately I can’t appreciate this as much as other people. I’ve never played Minecraft. I’ve only watched other people play and seen very creative bits on Youtube and such. I won’t say much about this except if you like Minecraft play it now!

A few general observations about the game. The miss rate is pretty obnoxious. From what I’ve read, it was even worse before it was patched. Missing an enemy with your weapon 2-3 times in a row is not unheard of. The monsters do have this same miss rate, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I played Dragon Fantasy on both the PS3 and Vita. Moreso on the Vita. There was one instance when my character wasn’t moving and I thought my game froze on me. After pressing a ton of buttons I didn’t lose my progress. I didn’t really like how the joystick on the Vita worked with the game. I found my character moving in directions that confused me. Otherwise, it is a relatively seamless experience.

I purchased Dragon Fantasy for $9.99 on the PSN. This includes both a PS3 and Vita version of the game. I checked the iOS store and saw it for $7.99 there. I’m on the fence about recommending this game for full price. If you’re not a retro RPG enthusiast, you’re probably better off waiting for this game to go on sale. I went trophy grinding and I’d still say I didn’t spend more than 12 hours playing this game. I enjoyed it more on the Vita because, let’s face it, grinding for money and experience is more tolerable when done in short bursts nowadays. But if you’re dying for a nostalgic NES or SNES RPG and can’t settle on a game you’ve already played, Dragon Fantasy should hold you over and give you some laughs to  boot.