Rant: Final Fantasy


This post is a long unstructured rant. Read at your own peril. Square Enix is the poster-child and public choice whipping boy for the decline of Japanese RPG (JRPG) popularity, and I would be hard pressed not to agree. To clarify, by “Eastern” I am referring to Final Fantasy or any Final Fantasy-esque style role-playing game. I recognize that there are other excellent titles on the market. I haven’t had a chance to play Valkyria Chronics, The World Ends With You, the Persona Series or a small number of Japanese titles on my to play list.

I remember when a Final Fantasy title used to be a real treat, the one game series that bridged the gap between Eastern and Western game storytelling and game culture. The careful attention to detail, story (no matter how ludicrous) and characters were elements that could be enjoyed by all. Nowadays, it seems as if Square Enix continues to push out more and more junk. Their flagship title, Final Fantasy, has been inundated with crap; diluted by numerous sequels and unnaturally long development cycles. Destructoid had phrased it nicely in one of their recent articles: Square Enix is, essentially, the George Lucas of Video games.

A good story offers something enjoyable to everyone. I don’t think that Final Fantasy falls into that category anymore. It seems as if every new title just panders to an increasingly narrow demographic. For example, playing a young character is fine, but I am not sexually attracted to teenagers nor do I really emotionally connect with them anymore. I can appreciate a good romance and good character development but not high school level cheese. I just don’t get my jollies off of anything like that anymore.

I liked Final Fantasy X, went back and finally finished Final Fantasy XII and learned to appreciate it. But the last game of the series that I really loved was FFIX. Unsurprisingly, FFIX was also the last game produced by Sakaguchi before he resigned from Square. Also, unless I am mistaken, FFX was the last Final Fantasy game produced under Square’s label before the company merged into Square Enix. From that point on, my enjoyment of the series sharply declined. I don’t think that Nomura is a very good character designer, certainly not as good as Sakaguchi or Matsuno.

Because of my work and real life schedule, my free gaming time is limited to a couple hours of play time at most. I need a game that will accommodate my schedule. I need the ability to pick it up and put it down in an hour or two. That means discreet, natural periods of play time, whether it be in a form of a quest, mission or whatever. Actually, it doesn’t really matter as long as there is an intelligent save mechanic in place, allowing me to save anywhere or at least frequently autosave upon entering a new area and/or exiting combat. I like not feeling lost after picking a game back up after letting it collect dust for a period of time. Usually, just a synopsis of what I have done so far as well as my correct objectives is sufficient.

Also in regards to time usage: Please cut some of the crap grinding out of role-playing games. I know that grinding is synonymous with the RPG genre, but I would rather play a 25 hour game of solid gameplay than an 80 hour game crammed with filler. In all honesty, most 80 hour games only include about 25 hours of solid gameplay, if that. If difficulty is the root issue, that problem needs to be addressed in a more intelligent manner, whether it be through improved fight mechanics or otherwise. All-in-all, Square Enix isn’t very good at pacing games.

A big part of Final Fantasy’s problem is that the game mechanics haven’t evolved much in the past two decades. It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation: On one hand, the slow turn based system is part of what defines Final Fantasy as a label. On the other, it’s one of it’s biggest problems. In theory there’s nothing wrong with a turn based system, but that system in combination with massive grinding really really really does not work out. If repetitive fighting is a must, then combat needs to be lightning quick. That means, no combat bullshit, no cute battle transactions: Combat must occur naturally. Integrating combat from other genres works for most Western style RPGs. Turning a role-playing game into a first person shooter may or may not be a good solution but if all else fails, characters and story included, it’s almost always fun to shoot someone in the face repeatedly.

And to all forms of RPGs: Please cut out some of the unnecessary micromanagement (party swapping and gearing mostly). If you are going to include 12 party members, either make the all level equally regardless of which members are active. Or at the very least, do not ever place me in a situation where I am forced to use a party member that I dislike and have thus not bothered to level.

Along similar lines: I have always appreciated games that blend gameplay elements and introduce the story in intuitive and creative ways. Never underestimate the power of doing things within a game. Passive observation has its place, but interactive play is the one element that gaming has over virtually all other forms of media. Please don’t tell me a story in the form of a giant monologue. I want to discover and experience it on my own. I love watching rendered cutscenes, but I feel like they should be on their way out or at least used more sparingly than every 5 minutes or so. Any break from gameplay detracts from the game (not only picking on JRPGs. *cough* quick time events *cough*. Looking at you Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, etc).

Final Fantasy VII:
The vast majority of Final Fantasy fans, myself included, place FFVII on a pedestal. It was an exceptional game for its time, way ahead of the competition. But nostalgia aside, I am unsure if it holds up to the test of time. I would love to see this game remade in HD and finally retired. We don’t need to dilute it with even more inane sequels.

Final Fantasy XII
I liked Basch quite a bit, he was a good character. In fact, Basch was originally supposed to be the main character. Vaan and Panelo were added later in the development cycle because adult male leads apparently don’t sell, based off of the figures from one the development team’s previous games (Vagrant story, one of my favorites by the way).

Vaan was an awkward main character. Other than providing a new perspective on the main story, I don’t recall him contributing much and by the end of the game he did not evolve much as a character. Because he was tacked on, I didn’t really emotionally invest in his story. Consequently there was a huge  disconnect between the player and the characters of FFXII. Character empathy was replaced by uninteresting and generic political intrigue. I absolutely loved FFXII’s feel, setting and design. In those departments, it is one of my favorites but I play Final Fantasy for the characters and the character stories. DON’T EVER compromise on the character stories, that’s probably one of the biggest draws for JRPGs.

Final Fantasy XIII
I’ve already said my piece about this title, but I feel as if XIII would have had a more positive reception had it not been under the Final Fantasy label. Most of the people who actually enjoyed playing this game had little no no experience with other Final Fantasy games. For better or for worse, Final Fantasy games have a list of expectations that need to be addressed. Otherwise, it’s not really a Final Fantasy game.

Final Fantasy has had a good run but I’m not sure I will be purchasing future titles if they follow the same trend. Versus XIII does look pretty good though. I’m a sucker for action RPGs so I will probably pick it up.

Final Fantasy XIV Open Beta Delayed


I am disappoint. I was looking forward to giving Final Fantasy XIV a short whirl this week without having to dish out $60 at launch. Oh well, maybe the beta won’t be pushed back too long (or outright cancelled). It’s a little worrisome that there would be critical bugs severe enough to completely pull the installer and the entire beta 3 weeks before the launch date. But on the other hand, name one large MMO with a perfect and unhithered launch? I assume that within 3 to 6 months time most of the critical bugs and server load issues will have been smoothed out. That time period is when we need to be taking a more critical look at both the game and Square Enix’s ability to support it.

That said, I still hold very little faith in Square Enix to ever hold the ability to make a decent MMO or single player RPG ever again, based off of the notable decline in their flagship titles. Unless major positive change happens, gone are the days of the JRPG dynasties. But then again, I’ve become somewhat of an MMO skeptic and obviously WoW biased. I hope I’m wrong and that it is a legitimately good game, regardless of my disinterest in subscribing.

Since I’m on the topic of FFXIV: Many people have been abuzz about the XP capping. I don’t comment too much without actually having played the game (QQ) but my question is: Is it really necessary to gate content to that extent? And, will it work toward a more casual friendly game or will it just frustrate people? All MMOs gate content to some extent, but a hard cap seems pretty harsh. I guess it depends on how much non-grind content is available. If there are for example, very comprehensive secondary systems (like crafting), it might not be that bad of a change.

But still, WoW currently rewards players for spending some time away from the game by rewarding rest experience. I have always been a fan of positive reinforcement over punishment. Penalizing the hardcore player base, the one demographic willing to stick with it through thick and thin does not seem to be that wise of a choice. I mean, charging prospective players $13 a month and then arbitrarily dictating exactly how long they can play? What? I am an adult and can dictate my own time usage. As for minors, just put a parental lock in place. That’s my 2 cents.

The Nature of Role-Playing


When people talk about where role-playing games come from, I’m pretty sure that pen and paper systems like Dungeons & Dragons come to mind. In truth, people have been role-playing for centuries, spanning from improvisational theater to murder mystery types of parlor games to even a child’s game of pretend, even though we don’t think of them as role-playing games.

So that begs the question: What exactly is a role-playing game? The term “role-playing” in modern times has been thrown around so much that is has seemingly lost its meaning. The traditional definition of a role-playing game encompasses a fairly wide range of games in which a player assumes a role in a fictitious setting. Success and failures within the game are determined by a set of rules and guidelines. The goal of any good role-playing game is to tell a collaborative story, crafted out of the choices and consequences of its players.

This is how it usually works: Each player chooses or is assigned a role or a character. Each player is in turn in charge of using that character to interact with the setting for the sake of progressing the narrative. The point is that, the players are responsible for choosing paths from their character’s point of view. It’s all about viewing something from another person’s perspective and deciding what they would do, not you.

The game world, at least in a traditional pen and paper role-playing campaign is represented by a dungeon master, who is generally in charge of managing the setting and creating any details or encounters that the players would come across on their adventure. The dungeon masters also serves as a referee, enforcing the game’s rules and providing player guidance. In a computer based RPG (CRPG), the dungeon master is represented by the AI.

So what makes a computer game apart of the role-playing game genre? First and foremost: Computer role-playing game is a misnomer: CRPGs lack the distinct ability to allow players to choose. Many of the newer RPGs such as Mass Effect, do allow for some degree of choice but ultimately lack the ability to create emergent stories based solely upon a player’s actions. At heart, a role-playing game is a story created by its players. The setting is just a construct.

A more accurate description would be interactive fiction. The player assumes the role of a character and plays through a predefined story. The game still tells a story, but a linear one. All video game narratives are linear, some just hide it better than others. But if having a story and playing an entity is the definition of a CRPG, then all computers games would be of that genre. In Mario you assume the role of Mario on a quest to save the princess. In Half-Life, a game that is ironically closer to a role-playing game than many actual CRPGs, you are for all intents and purposes Gordon Freeman. Valve has been very careful about not breaking your point of view within the game.

However, neither of these games, to say the last, are considered even close to CRPG by modern standards. Traditional CRPGs were defined by gameplay, being largely stat based and heavily influenced by D&D. Nowadays, the RPG genre spans such a wide variety of titles that gameplay itself is almost irrelevant to its definition. So again, what exactly defined a computer based role-playing game? What exact criteria separates an RPG from a non-RPG? Two things:

  1. Character progression: All CRPGs have either a leveling or an advanced skill/stat based character progression system in effect. Above all game mechanics and combat systems, character progression is the one technical element that all CRPGs have in common.
  2. A narrative: A narrative must contain (my loose definition) a setting, characters, conflict, story and dialogue. In regards to computer games, role-playing games usually have more developed story interaction than most other games of other genres. By definition, all RPGs feature a character or role that the player fills.

Both Deus Ex and Half-Life are first person shooters yet only one is considered to be a part of the role-playing genre. Even though Half-Life, as mentioned before, could arguably be truer to a role-playing game than most actual CRPGs, it is not because it has no character progression system in place. The same is true of many other RPG sub-genres: For example: Final Fantasy Tactics vs StarCraft, Puzzle Quest vs Bejeweled. Though many games have a narrative, in order to be considered a CRPG they must also have character progression.

Interesting exception: Sleep is Death. It’s a two-player collaborative story telling game. One person creates and controls the world the other persons plays an entity or a character in that world. The player and creator alternate turns: The player interacts, moves or speaks and the creator in turn alters the world. Each turn is automatically screenshotted and compiled into a story. That’s the closest thing to role-playing that I’ve ever seen in a computer game. Specifically because of the role player choice has within the game and the focus on actual story telling.

So will we ever see a “true” single-player or massively multiplayer role-playing game? One day, but not now. At the moment I don’t think that gaming technology has progressed to the point of being able to create a fully emergent story. But that said, the CRPG genre is constantly changing so the next great game could be just around the corner. I don’t think I covered everything that I wanted to cover in this post. So at some point I would like to type out at least two more articles: 1. The Appeal of Role-Playing, why we like it and what we learn. 2. Eastern vs Western Style CRPGs.

Winning, Losing, Death and Consequence

I was reading this article the other day and thought that it was interesting. This post was originally going to be a response, but it kind of went off on a tangent. So by, “Winning, Losing, Death and Consequence,” I really mean “Death and Consequence.” The other part of the title just sounded nifty. Anyway, gaming deaths should have consequences, given that they are appropriate to the nature of the game. The player should have to feel the weight of a bad decision as to not trivialize the game. At the same time, these consequences need to be reasonable.

I am not certain if it is because I have gone increasingly casual over the past couple of years, but as a working adult with relatively little free time (in comparison to uuh college), I don’t have that much time to enjoy my media of choice. I like a challenging game and I like my decisions, poor or not to have significance, but I really do not enjoy the time wasting aspect of a rough death mechanic. On any given week night I have about 3 to 4 hours of playtime after eating and what not. A half hour to an hour of time making up time after reloading a game after dying is a significant portion of my evening. I can personally do without arbitrary time wasting.

This exact criticism was one of my big beefs against Final Fantasy XII. In a long RPG, harsh death penalties severely interrupt the story, which is counterproductive given that the entire purpose of a role playing game is to progress the narrative. Sparsely placing save points and forcing players to traverse long distances after dying during a boss encounter doesn’t fit with the context of the game. It is an old mechanic originally used out of technological limitation; It doesn’t have a place within modern gaming.

Final Fantasy XIII handled death in a slightly different manner: Save points, though still used are placed with more frequency. If you die during an encounter, your party will load from the point right before you engage in battle, giving you time to rethink your strategy and swap paradigms and party members around. Many newer games follow a similar train of thought regarding death mechanics and I think that it is a good compromise. An encounter can be hard without being unnecessarily frustrating. Other than repeating a though fight x amount of times, there is relatively little disruption to the flow of the game.

Besides, why does time need to be the only method of punishment? And for the record, WoW’s punishes in the form of a hit to equipment durability. Repairs cost money and time = money (same thing :P). Death should be fun or at least more creative. Ideally, I think that character death should have a lasting effect in the game environment. I love persistent gaming environments that embrace this idea, which is what fascinates me about Dwarf Fortress (I still intend to play more of this game if I ever get over the learning curve).

You will die horribly in Dwarf Fortress. Your civilization will crumble and fall, overrun by enemies and social unrest. But losing in Dwarf Fortress is just the beginning. When you die, you can reclaim your fortress as well as your previous fortune should you chose or start a new. Either way, the efforts of your first campaign are now an active part of the gaming world. The big picture is that every event, be it winning or losing contributes to the overall story. You still lose, but your loss is a part of the game. No time is ever lost.

Death should add to the uniqueness of your particular story, instead of representing yet another tedious element of gameplay. Or rather, instead of dying and restarting from a saved game, what about just having characters that permanently die in a dynamic fashion? You could of course just reload a saved game, but I think that players should be encouraged to face the consequences of their failure within the context of the game. The goal of a game is to be challenging AND fun, not frustrating. Neither goal is mutually exclusive.

Bioware has the idea. Mass Effect 2 for example (spoilers ahead):  Towards the end of the game I was given the chance to travel through the Omega 4 Replay to rescue my crew or to delay the rescue mission for the sake of preparing myself. It was not a forced option, it was a location within the galaxy map (that I accidentally clicked on…). I chose the latter option, not knowing that my crew, including the lovely Kelly Chambers would be dissolved in a vat of acid before my eyes. I sacrificed my crew for the sake of dicking around. I really wasn’t expecting that to happen, I wasn’t expecting there to be a consequence.

A part of me still wants to reload the end of Mass Effect 2 to replay it for the sake of getting a perfect ending (I also lost Legion during the last mission). Another part of me though feels that doing so would be cheating. I think I will just stick with my original outcome. I will be missing a few buddies when the third game rolls around but that should at least make it a little bit more interesting, right?

The Assassin’s Creed Series

You see folks, this why I can never ever run a serious, as in, “professional” gaming blog. I’m just never current on anything that isn’t World of Warcraft, The Sims or the one or two other games that I am interested in enough to pre-order and actually post about before they go out of style (I also never post, but that is a different issue :P). But that aside:

Assassin’s Creed was a good game, not great by any measure, but good; It just failed to live up to the massive amount of hype constantly being pushed out at the time. I think the most disappointing aspect of the game wasn’t necessarily the repetition (though the repetition was pretty bad, I had to force myself to complete the game), but that it felt half-assed. Most people compare it too a tech demo, demonstrating the crowd reaction engine and I think that is for the most part an accurate assesment.

The overarching plot of the series is if anything, predictable if not somewhat ludicrous but I like the premise. Even though I know that the whole Animus deal is a plot gimmick, I feel that it works within the context of the game. I also like the duality between Desmond and his ancestor(s). I kind of wish that Assassin’s Creed 2 had more out-of-Animus scenes, they provided a pacing break in the gameplay (I know that am probably the only one who feels that way….).

Assassin’s Creed 2 plays out like a fluid narrative rather than a sequence of grind quests stapled together. Oh and by narrative I mean a nice variety of tasks to complete. There is a cohesive though somewhat ludicrous plot, there are characters and there are cinematics. If nothing else, it is very polished in both presentation and appearance. The bloom is way overdone, but the environments are vibrant and well designed. Unlike the first game, this game is more like what one would expect from the Playstation 3 in terms of quality.

Anyway, Assassin’s Creed 2: It is to say the least, a lot more fun than the first game. It’s more polished and rounded off with Prince of Persia style platforming mixed in with Grand Theft Auto style opendedness and side quests. The free running works a lot better than the first game in my opinion; The cities are constructed with to allow you to jump around more naturally.

No singular element in Assassin’s Creed 2 really stands out or shines. The combat system, though a little bit better than the first game still suffers from the same downfalls. You can now stab people in a couple more ways but ultimately it still boils down to just hitting the square or the circle button at the appropriate moment. Too many things on too few buttons. The side quests don’t vary too much from stabbing things or collecting things. Also, social camouflaging is great in theory but somewhat poor in execution: I really love the idea of crowd blending and being able to play in a more organic environment, but the way that it is implemented and the way the AI reacts in the game is very limiting. In practice it still feels like a game.

But you know what? I had a lot of fun playing this game. It’s not often that I play a game through completion nowadays; In fact sadly, I can probably name the games that I have actually finished this year on one hand. No single element in this game is particularly great but together all of the elements sum up to a very attractive package.

This is just a personal gripe/tangent, but: I know that the 6 assassin’s tombs are 100% optional side quests, but did those for the most part, annoy the hell out of anyone else? Jumping puzzles suck enough on the PC with full control over a mouse and keyboard. They suck to an entirely new degree when you have little to no control over where the camera pans.

By the way: The official assassin’s hand sign thing that Lucy flashes you in the first game is totally The Shocker isn’t it? 😛

UPS and Keiya’s Sims Crack Habit


Where the hell is my package going? Why did ship from Oklahoma to Kentucky when I live in California? Furthermore, why did I bother with one day shipping on Amazon instead of just running over to Best Buy to purchase it after work QQ. I ordered the newest Sims 3 expansion pack, Ambitions on Sunday. I feel obligated to write a semi-review or glitch (go go EA QA) guide at some point. Actually, I am looking forward to playing this expansion quite a bit because it changes core gameplay. World Adventures was interesting, but allowing sims to travel to other load zones broke time continuity (among other things).

Other than the three new load zones and a couple of other things, not a whole lot was added into the game. The ability to control sims while on the job, as opposed to them just vanishing into a rabbit hole for 8+ hours has been on the top of most player’s wish lists since uuuh the first game?

Oh And: Come on EA; would it have hurt you that much to roll out some of the Sims 2 expansion pack functionality into the Sims 3 base game? (like apartments). Or at the very least, some fairly significant additional content in the form of a free downloadable patch instead of pushing everything into DLC on your stupid store. I know that I will still end up purchasing every single expansion pack like an addict but still. T_T

I MUST GET BLIZZCON tickets tomorrow. Watch me get held up at work or stuck in traffic on the way home though :/. Oh and, I went a whole week without playing WoW, playing any games (iPhone games on the plane don’t count), or sitting in front of (my) computer because I *gasp* went outside! Might post about my vacation if I ever get around to sorting through photos.

Final Fantasy XIII


Whoops, this post (which has been sitting in my temp stack for two months like well all of my posts) turned into a mish mash rant of sorts. So a history first: A close elementary school friend actually introduced the Final Fantasy to me while we were in day care or something. I had received Final Fantasy I as a birthday or a Christmas gift that year or something and it was the most awesome thing evar. I actually fell in love with the series in high school/early college. That is when I more or less ultra binged on 6 through 8. I have Final Fantasy VIII wall scrolls, posters and action figures burried somewhere. My dorm room was like a shrine…

You will either love or hate Final Fantasy XIII; It’s just one of those divisive games, granted most opinions seem to lean towards the hate side. There’s a fine art to tutorial balancing that Square Enix obviously does not understand. At all. I mean, a 15 hour long tutorial, really?

But past the slow start, both the story and gameplay pick up quit ea bit. If you find the game boring initially, it is. Just grin and bear it. I am actually having a lot of fun so I will take back most of the nasty things that I was originally going to say. I take that back, this game is such a grind: Grind grind grind, short movie, grind grind. Uninspiring and cliche anime characters, bland dialogue at best (grating at worst), standard JRPG story. Final Fantasy XIII isn’t even much of an RPG anymore, it’s a bland action game without the part with the action fighting. What the hell happened?

Massive criticism aside, Final Fantasy XIII is an interesting addition to the longstanding series because it marks a very clear way in which the developers perceive the series. Quite a few gameplay and design changers were made, some of which paid off. Overall, the package fails to deliver as a whole.

So here is problem number one: While the pacing is very consistent and while enemies are fairly well placed, it is still such a huge grind. There is a huge emphasis on the combat system, which I like to some extent. The paradigm system is very fast paced and forces you to swap roles rapidly on many occasions.

In fact, the paradigm system would have been awesome if it wasn’t dumbed down. The auto attack button effectively allows you to spam ‘X’ 90% of the time. There no more random battles, and fewer enemies, which are strategically placed along your journey.  But to make up for that, some of the trash pulls are just so long. They aren’t even fast paced fun trash battles. It is as if all they did was jack their health pools up by a factor of 10. I mean, if you really wanted to, it really isn’t hard to use the pathing system to avoid most enemy encounters. But if you do that too often, your characters will be so far behind the ‘leveling’ curve (if you can even call it that), that future encounters will be near impossible. You are fucked if you do and fucked if you don’t.

So back to the pacing: Final Fantasy XIII is a very controlled experience, obviously paced with calculation which is a huge change over the traditional, wander around town, hit dungeon, wander around town paradigm. It is also shamelessly linear, which on the plus side eliminates the forced exploration. Let’s face it: All RPGs are linear, Western games are just better at hiding it. The pacing is too consistent. I miss the cliche RPG towns. Towns provided a good break in the grinding and also provided a different method of exploring character development in a more casual setting. Final Fantasy XIII is effectively a string of dungeons taped together. It is…a never ending grind, boss, grind, boss pattern.

The characters story and dialogue feel watered down. It’s not that bad per se, it’s just that at the time I had first picked up FFXIII, I had just finished playing Mass Effect 2 and before that, Dragon Age. So silly spoiled me just expected all RPGs to have decent-ish writing and dialogue or at the very least, engaging gameplay to make up for the lack of writing and dialogue.

JRPGs are feeling very tired as a genre because they haven’t changed or evolved all that much in the past decade or so, especially when oyu compare them to what other RPGs have to offer.  But to be fair, I have pretty much outgrown this genre. It’s clearly designed to appeal to a demographic that does not include myself (not a teenager anymore).

The gameplay changes are interesting but not ‘interesting’ enough to sustain the genre in my opinion. JRPGs are feeling tired, they haven’t changed much. Especially when you compare them to what Bioware has to offer. But to be fair, I think I’ve just outgrown the genre. It’s clearly designed to appeal to a demographic that is not me (not a teenager anymore). Square, I commend you for making an active effort to change the series but WTF.

On the plus side: The sky production as expected is super sky high. I mean, that game is gorgeous and some of the cut scenes are a real treat to watch. Well the good thing about it being super ass linear is that when I pick it up again in like, a year after feeling kind of bad about paying $60 for a game and not finishing it, I probably won’t feel lost to the point of having to restart the game.

And, sorry Kotaku: I totally just plucked your screenshot (which probably is just a stock image from a press release) off of Google Image because I was too lazy to take my own.

Musings: Memorable Fictional Weapons

I have an urge to post about something that isn’t related to the World of Warcraft for once. *gasp!*

So: On combining basic weapon types to create even cooler weapons. The weapons are categorized according to their dominant property. For example, the Gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII is primarily an edged weapon and is thus categorized with the other edged weapons.

Energy weapons
Phasers, lasers and disruptors.

  1. Energy weapon + Edged weapon = Lightsaber (Star Wars).
    A lightsaber is energy essentially, so it is categorized with the energy weapons.
  2. Energy weapon + Crossbow = Wookie Bowcaster (Star Wars).
    It’s a crossbow that shoots metal quarrels enveloped in energy.
  3. Energy Weapon + Frisbee = The Tron throwing discs.

Guns and Rifles
Mostly chemical propellants (bullets), but I guess this category includes anything that shoots small objects at very high velocities (railguns for example).

  1. Gun + Chainsaw = Lancer (Gears of War)
    It’s a gun with a chainsaw attached to the bottom.
  2. Gun + Melee (?) = Cherry’s Leg (Grindhouse).
    I guess?
  3. Sniper Rifle + Transporter = TR-116 (Star Trek: DS9)
    From the episode “Field of Fire.” Allows the wielder to see and shoot people through walls. 
  4. Teleporter + Gun = The Portal gun from Portal.
    A gun that shoots portals.
  5. Gun + Robot = Megatron.
    …is a gun.

Miscellaneous Ranged
Bows, crossbows, miscellaneous things that are thrown.

  1. Frisbee + Edged weapon = Xena’s frisbee blade thing.
  2. Ranged + Gun = Auto repeating crossbows and needle guns.
    Any of those miscellaneous junk throwers. 

Edged Weapons
Swords, knives, polearms and anything that is generally pointy or sharp.

  1. Blade + Gun = Gunblade (Final Fantasy VIII).
    You know, I always thought that this was kind of a dumb concept.
  2. Blade + Chainsaw = Chainsaw swords (Fallout 3 for example)
  3. Blade + Energy Weapon = Power swords (Halo).
    Categorized under edged weapons because they have physical forms.
  4. Blade + Whip = Zabimaru, Renji’s zanpakuto from Bleach.
    This weapon gets bonus points for transforming into a baboon-snake thing in bankai form.

Miscellaneous Melee Weapons
Whips, chainsaws, fists, crowbars…

  1. Whip + Knives = Ivy’s blade whip thing (Soul Caliber)
  2. Whip + Energy weapon = Ferengi Energy Whip (Star Trek)
  3. Fist + Edged Weapon = Wolverine’s Claws (and any fist blade sort of weapon)
  4. Chainsaw + Hand = Chainsaw Hand (Evil Dead)

Save Points

Early console games either used a password based saving system or none at all. Later on, certain games (Final Fantasy for example) had a small battery, allowing game data to be saved aboard the cartridge’s RAM. Save points were used because at the time, it wasn’t possible to allow on-the-fly saving on most console games because of the game state being too complex or large for the game’s memory/card/whatever. This mechanic is a perfect example of something created through technological limitation, carrying through games today.

It really though, depends on the game’s design and how the save points are used. Not all save point based games are bad. Shadow of the Colossus for example has save points that are hard to find, but it doesn’t matter because it isn’t a character progression or a grind based game (if you can’t find one nothing is really lost). It also automatically asks you to save after downing each colossus; Should you lose a colossus battle, you will be reloaded ot the start of the fight.

The Metal Gear Solid series uses a zone based saving system. You are permitted to save at any point, but the game will reload your progress to the beginning of whatever area you are in. You will lose any weapons that you have acquired and any progress made, but the zones are small enough so that it does not matter much.

Final Fantasy XII on the other hand has huge dungeons and zones with very few save points. The lack of save points is frustrated because it’s a grind based game that artificially increases it’s difficulty by forcing you to level grind in areas with very few saves. Grinding for a while and not being able to save sucks.

Ideally, I like being able to save anywhere at will (quicksaves <3). At minimum, I would like the ability to save upon entering a new zone. Additionally, when a boss fight is lost, it’s nice when a game automatically loads to the start of the fight, so that time isn’t lost repeatedly having to run back and reshuffle spells.

It might be my style of gameplay though: I like creepsaving, partially out of paranoia that the power will go out or a situation will arouse in which I will have to leave. Also because I like to experiment. It’s nice being able to quicksave before I punch a guard in the face to see what happens.

 I don’t ask that all games allow on-the-fly saving, just they the difficulty level isn’t artificially increased by reducing where you are allowed to save. There are many many ways to punish a player, but I don’t like being punished by losing an hour of progress for having to attend to real life.

Keiya’s Favorite Game Endings

SPOILER ALERT! An article about game endings naturally spoils the endings to games. I know that there are more that should be mentioned, but there are quite a few games that I have never played, finished, or just don’t remember enough of.

  • I like endings that to some wrap the story up to some extent.
  • I like endings that rren’t complete brain fucks (I love you like my own flesh and blood FFVII, but your ending was….yeah)
  • I like endings that are a culmination of these 3 qualities: The game’s story, context, and what the player has experienced.
  • Game endings don’t always have to be happy and cheery.
  • Game endings don’t always have to be depressing esoteric shitfests (anime ending syndrome).
  • I like game endings with epic music. Of the favorites listed below, I vividly remember Mega Man 3, Final Fantasy VIII, and Portal because of the music. Epic epic music.

Mega Man 3
This ending touched me as a young child. This is significant because I swear that most of all NES endings consisted of nothing more than a spash screen with “THE END” written in coloful letters. Protoman redeems himself in the end, saving his brother from the debris, Mega Man gazes at Proto Man’s sillouete in the sky…beautiful! Not to mention the music, the music is delicious.

Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is the red-headed runt stepchild of the Square universe. But, despite whatever you may feel about the game the ending is awesome. It’s my favorite Final Fantasy ending by a huge margin. It wrapped up the story with a touching 15 minute FMV sequence. The orchestrated version of Eyes on Me and the Final Fantasy theme were perfect.

Silent Hill 2
This game has no heroes. People don’t get sent to Silent Hill because they were being good… James is a sack of shit who murders his dying wife, not out of mercy, but out of his own selfishness. I know that there’s a happy ending, but the In Water ending feels most canon to the story. A tragic yet appropriate end to one of the finest game stories ever told. Oh: and some of the other ones are just fucking funny (YouTube the dog and alien ending).

Metal Gear Solid 3
A poignant ending that sets up Big Boss as a villain. Big Boss saluting The Boss’ grave as a single tear rolls down his cheek, so sad OMG. Snake succeeds in his mission and is rewarded with medals/titles despite the fact that he has, effectively, lost everything. You are forced as a player to execute The Boss, who has been a mentor and a mother figure to snake for over a decade. Despite her vision and her sacrifice, she dies a traitor in the eyes of both the US and Soviet Union, for nothing. A true patriot.

Oh my God. I don’t think a more perfect ending exists. Anywhere in any media genre. I mean, that song...There’s no reason why any of you should not have played Portal.

Metal Gear Solid 4
I am still fawning over this game and cannot give a fair opinion without gushing fangirl goodness. The microwave corridor…the Ocelot fight depicting all four games…you don’t know how hard I mashed the triangle button in the corridor. I am a huge sucker for cheesy wedding endings so screw all of you who didn’t enjoy it! I would be lying if I said that I didn’t tear up when Otacon says, “Snake…had a hard life” OMG so sad ;_;. Big Boss CQC’s Old Snake into a hug, aknowledging him as a son.

Other special moments
Additional fond memories.

  • Call of Duty 4: The slow-motion sequence right before the ending as Captain Price, with his dying breath slides his gun over to you. The playable epilogue was also awesome.
  • Metal Gear Solid 1: The alternate ending when Snake and Otacon ride off into the Alaskan sunset gay cowboy style on a snowmobile (and yes, I submitted to the torture and didn’t get the Meryl ending either *sadpanda*).
  • Final Fantasy VIj (FFIII US): The music. The character vignettes. I really love the ending music. My second favorite Final Fantasy ending.
  • Metroid: The good ending that is. The original video game surprise ending!
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: The actual ending was mediocre but the events leading up to it were epicly strange. The Arsenal Gear freakouts lmao: “I need scissors! 61!”
  • The Half-Life series: I know how most everybody feels about cliffhangers, particularly those that setup sequels, but these are well done. A cliffhanger shouldn’t feel like the developers chopped the story in half at some arbitrary point. It should, to some extent, wrap up the current story while leaving you in suspense. Though possibly a bit underwhelming, the HL endings do this well.
  • The Sims 2: Well not really, but indoor barbequeing is always a good way to end a sim family.