The Obsolete Gamer Show: Jan Taaks (Battle Brothers)


We talk with Jan Taaks on the release of the turned based tactical RPG, battle Brothers available on Steam. 

You lead a mercenary company in a gritty, low-power, medieval fantasy world. You decide where to go, whom to hire or to fight, what contracts to take and how to train and equip your men in a procedurally generated open world campaign.

We discuss gameplay, tactics and everything else you can expect from the world of Battle Brothers.

Features

  • Manage a medieval mercenary company in a procedurally generated open world.
  • Fight complex turn-based tactical battles with historical equipment and brutal injuries.
  • Permadeath. All characters that die in combat will stay dead – unless they return as the undead.
  • All characters come with their own background stories and traits. Want a stuttering ratcatcher, a greedy witch hunter or a drunkard disowned noble?
  • Character development without a restrictive class-system. Each character gains experience through combat, can level up and acquire powerful perks.
  • Equipment that matters. Different weapons grant unique skills – split shields with axes, stun enemies with maces, form a spearwall with spears or crush armor with a warhammer.
  • Diverse enemy roster. All enemies have unique equipment, skills and AI behavior.
  • A dynamic event system with atmospheric encounters and tough decisions outside of combat.
  • Three late game crises – a war between noble houses, a greenskin invasion and an undead scourge – add a looming threat along with new contracts, enemies and events.
  • Two full hours of orchestral soundtrack.
  • 70 Steam Achievements.

Profiled: Judy L. Tyrer

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Name: Judy L. Tyrer

Company: 3 Turn Productions

Title: Founder

Favorite Classic Game: Mario Cart (SNES)

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When you have a passion for games that stays with you your entire life and the drive and focus to peruse what you want in life you can achieve great things. That was just one of the many things we learned in our extended conversation with Judy Tyrer.

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We began with her early career and discussed her progression from starting out after university to working with companies such as Ubisoft and Sony Online Entertainment and then transitioned into her current project Ever Jane.

Set in the world of Regency England and the works of Jane Austin, the upcoming MMO is a refreshing change of pace from your standard kill and collect loot RPG. Judy walked us through the world her and her team have been working furiously on to have it ready for its January 2016 release date.

This is a show you will definitely want to check out and when you do let us know what you think.

Darkspore

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Originally, I picked Darkspore up because I wanted to see what Maxis would do with an action RPG built on Spore’s creature creator.  Spore was a mediocre sandbox game in which you guided a species through its entire evolutionary process.  The highlight was the creator, which offered the player a deep level of customization.  How does this system carry over to an action RPG?  It’s not quite what I expected, but the game does a bunch of things well.

Darkspore - Gameplay

If you’re like me, you thought you’d be making your own genetic heroes from the ground up for this game.  Wrong.  While this is disappointing, what they’ve done instead is fairly robust.  Customization of your heroes is driven by what gear you pick up, which is then integrated into their bodies.  You can mount dropped items almost anywhere on the hero’s body, with a couple exceptions like boots and weapons.  There’s a wide palette of colors and color schemes, for even more tweaking.

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I didn’t spend too much time playing dress up, but there were definitely a lot of options for crafting a unique appearance.  In addition to making cosmetic changes, the gear solely determines your level.  That is to say, there are no skill or stat leveling trees for individual heroes.  Instead, you gain “Crogenitor” levels as you play, allowing you to do things like unlock additional squad slots, heroes, and the option to chain-finish levels in succession for better loot.

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Not everyone will like it, but I feel it’s a fresh twist on the classic RPG formula.  Probably a consequence of this leveling system, there is no way to trade with other players.  I suspect the devs don’t want people getting power-geared too much, which would definitely happen if trading was a feature.  I’ve been told that they’re implementing a way to drop items on the ground, which will allow friends to trade but doesn’t help much for trading with untrustworthy strangers.

Darkspore - Gameplay

You start the game on your ship, which is your hub for genetic hero customization, multiplayer chat channels and anything else that isn’t standard gameplay.  To prepare for actual combat, you make squads of 3 heroes each.  You select one of your squads for each deployment and you can swap between squad members at will, albeit on a short cooldown.  Each hero has a unique standard attack, 2 core skills, one or more passive abilities/auras and a squad ability.

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The squad ability is interesting because it is shared amongst all 3 heroes.  Since there are upwards of 40 heroes in the game, there are many combinations of squad abilities to mix and match.  At higher difficulty levels, you will need to find the right balance of survivability, damage and crowd control to avoid becoming dead.  The possible combinations only increase as you add more buddies to your squad in multiplayer, which capped out at 4 in beta.  There are two other considerations for squad composition.

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There are 5 genetic types that your champions and enemies alike share: Necro, Plasma, Bio, Quantum and Cyber.  Enemies of the same type as your hero will deal double damage, so you’re not going to want to bring a bunch of Cyber heroes to a planet that’s all Cyber monsters.  Additionally, heroes are separated into Tempest (Mage), Ravager (Rogue) and Sentinel (Tank) classes.  You’ll want to mix and match appropriately for different situations.

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My overall impression of the game is mixed.  On one hand, the combat is crisp and fun, especially when you’re cooperating with friends.  The abilities are satisfyingly destructive and the heroes that I played all felt unique.  It’s like playing league of legends in action RPG flavor, in that you only have a handful of spells available at one time, but a ton of different characters to choose from.  There’s a good mix of enemy types with various special abilities you’ll need to adjust to.  On the other hand, there are aspects of the game that worry me.

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The level design is boring.  All the missions unlocked for the beta had simplistic layouts, making you feel like you’re on rails.  There’s only the bare minimum of exploration.  The game rewards you with loot for finding badly hidden obelisks, which is hugely disappointing to me.  Level randomization is almost nonexistent.  Zones layouts do not randomize AT ALL when you replay them, other than obelisk placement and location/composition of monster packs.

Darkspore - Gameplay

This has the potential to get incredibly stale, especially since the game follows the Diablo format where you play it 3 times over on different difficulties.  Additionally, the game offers arena style PvP which may prove impossible to balance given the sheer number of heroes.  The hero customization, while not a failure, is mostly cosmetic, which is basically a cop-out.  I would rather they left out any attempt at PvP balance and gave the player some manner of ability customization outside of items.  Lastly, the hero editor interface is somewhat clunky.  If there is a way to view all a character’s equipped gear at once, I haven’t found it.  You have to assess it one slot at a time.

Darkspore - Gameplay

That said, I will be playing this game.  The core gameplay is solid enough to provide action RPG fans with hours upon hours of casual fun with friends.  But Diablo III this ain’t.

Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones

Ever since first hearing about an RPG set as a parallel story (and not just a retelling of known events from the television show and books) in George R.R. Martin’s amazing fantasy world, I was holding out hope that it would lead to an excellent game with a compelling story.  My basic thoughts on the matter?  Well, we got halfway there.

Game of Thrones - PC

Game of Thrones is a third person action-RPG that follows the exploits of two characters, Alestyr and Mors, though their own stories that eventually wind up intersecting in later chapters.  Much like the books (but on a much more limited scale since it is just these two characters), you go from one point of view to the next, getting pieces of the story delivered to you along the way.  While the narrative execution is excellent, the game itself was sorely lacking.

Graphics – 3:

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The graphics are just terrible and I do not really have anything to sugarcoat that opinion with.  The textures lack detail and tend to be very bland.  The colors are dark and limited.  Character animate stiffly and little graphical oddities and artifacting popped up regularly as I played.  Considering how pretty Skyrim was on this same PC with settings set to half, it is amazing how bad Game of Thrones looks by comparison.

Sound & Music – 6:

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Some of the musical scores, including the television introduction (which I am very fond of) sound pretty good.  The sound effects by and large do their job – they are unremarkable and not terribly varied but they never got on my nerves either.  The voice acting was a mixed bag of mediocrity.  Almost none of the voice actors stood out as particularly impressive, though there were a handful that were painfully bad in their delivery.  Honestly most of them just muddled around average at best,which is a shame since the game is so heavily voiced and relies on these voice overs to tell the story.

Gameplay – 5:

Game of Thrones - PC
I really disliked the controls using a keyboard and mouse, but I could never get the game to recognize my PC controller.  I am not certain if a control would have made it any better, but I have serious doubts it could have been any worse.  Even adjusting all kinds of settings like sensitivity, I found the control of your character’s movement and the camera in particular to be awkward at best and frustrating the majority of the time.  A few gameplay items were implemented like a slowdown system during combat that does not freeze the action as you make tactical choices, but dramatically slows it down help.  The character customization of class and skills was fairly detailed as well.  Still, when basic movement is such a chore, it does drain a lot of the life out of the game.

Intangibles – 9:

The story is excellent.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed on that front.  Both of your main characters are well-written and very different protagonists who have very distinct roles in this twisting story.  At first their paths are completely disparate, but by the time you reach the last portions of the game, they are interwoven very nicely.  There is also a good deal of freedom of choice and some of these decisions do nothing more than change conversation branches, but most seem to have some tangible impact on things like whether or not a character will be around to talk to later in the game.  Beyond that there are multiple endings that branch off events in the final chapter, so there is some replay value to be had here as well.

Overall – 5.75:

You would think that with a score like this and the remarks above that I completely regretted my time with Game of Thrones.  While I regretted the technical shortcomings and some of the painfully awkward movement and combat, I enjoyed the story a great deal.  For me that was enough to at least enjoy the journey for the most part, though I will probably not replay this title again any time soon.  Unfortunately I suspect a lot of people, even those who are fans of the books, may not want to put their time into this game because of those shortcomings.  That is a shame too, because it is an excellent story with some good gameplay ideas that never really reached their full potential.

Soul Blazer

 Soul-Blazer

Soul Blazer for the SNES is just another wonderful title by Enix to keep us RPG geeks with something to do during the SNES era of greatness! The music is nothing but wonderful. Enix sure did a great job with the soundtrack and sound effects of their games. You can’t beat the 16-bit sound effects from yesterday. If anything, they motivate you to continue with your quest and finish up a wonderful title. Graphics wise, it is decent. You won’t find any graphics like from lets say Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger but you’ll find some decent graphics that’ll be more than enough to keep your eyes happy till the end of the game. Things look like how they are supposed to so be happy to at least have that.

Soul-Blazer

As far as the gameplay, it is quite satisfying. You will have to come up with your own strategies to defeat certain bosses. You just can’t run to them and kill them, it’s a good way to use your head in a way. There is also a level up system that of course makes you stronger. Weapons, and other items are on the way to help you finish your quest. Everything an action-RPG title should bring is here! Don’t look anywhere else! The game is quite fun but would only be good for a replay if there are extra things you might have missed on your first run. Then again, if you find defeating bad guys and playing this game as satisfying then I suggest you go for it! It’s a great experience overall and experiencing it again would just be joyful and action packed once more.

To conclude, this is a must have for anyone’s collection and anyone willing to step down the golden ages of the 16-bit era. You can’t go wrong with titles from Enix! They always delivered high quality stuff.

Skies of Arcadia

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Format: Dreamcast Genre: RPG Released: 2001 Developer: Sega (Overworks)

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Skies of Arcadia

Yes, that’s right another Dreamcast game for the list – no complaining back there. Hey, look, it’s not my fault that a signficant proportion of THE BEST GAMES EVER MADE were released on one particular console. (Funnily enough, I was never a big fan of Sega consoles before the Dreamcast came along, but I became a bit of a DC fanboy after I got one. Ah, Dreamcast, you were taken far too young! May you rest in peace in forgotten console heaven…)

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In terms of set-up, Skies of Arcadia is pretty much your standard Japanese RPG fare:  a young boy from a small village is summoned by destiny to save the world by fighting random, turn-based battles across strange new lands filled with a multitude of manga-style characters, and so on, and so forth. We’ve been here before (Grandia, Final Fantasy, etc. etc.), but the difference with Skies is the sheer imagination that has been poured into the game world, along with the strong sense of ownership you feel over the characters.

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The game world is composed of a series of floating islands that you navigate between using your trusty flying pirate ship. I couldn’t really find the screenshots to do it justice, but this floating world looks fantastic, and there’s a real sense of wonder as you explore new continents and find hidden treasures. In fact, finding the hidden ‘discoveries’ became such a distraction for me that I regularly abandoned the main plot in favour of locating these hidden gems, which were revealed by vibrations of the joypad.

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Then there’s your ship’s crew – as you progress through the game you can recruit more and more members to your crew, each of whom provides some sort of boost when battling an enemy ship. (Incidentally, the ship battles are fantastic, and make for a diverting change from the usual monster battles – see the video below for an example.) The personalities of each of the characters really shine through, and by the end of the game you find yourself becoming quite attached to your motley crew of air pirates.

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The big downside to the game for me was the random battles – I’m not totally against random battles per se, but there should be an option to avoid them if possible. Later on in the game you can purchase items that let you avoid all confrontation, but earlier on you have no option but to plough through whatever the game throws at you, which got frustrating at times. The hardest part of the game occurred about a third of the way through, when you were tasked with finding an item among a series of floating rocks. The trouble was, you were constantly attacked as you flew your ship between the rocks, and this one section became so frustrating that I almost jacked the game in right there. Thankfully I perservered, which was a good thing since the game got a whole lot better from then on in.

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It’s difficult to say exactly what sets Skies of Arcadia apart from its JRPG ilk – it could be the imaginative setting, or the neat mixture of ship and monster battles, or perhaps the excellently crafted characters. Whatever it is, it had me totally hooked, and if you’re an RPG fan it’s an absolute must buy. (NB. If you’re planning to get it, you might want to look out for Skies of Arcadia Legends, an improved version that was released for the GameCube/Wii.)

Warsong

Warsong

Okay, there is a chance you played it – but I would guess it’s unlikely.  This gem of a game came out for the Sega Genesis (and was called Langrisser overseas).  I am not sure what inspired me to pick it up at the time.  I had heard nothing about this game in any of the magazines I read, none of my friends had played it, but something about it caught my eye when I was mulling what game to purchase next.

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But something about the back of that box must have sparked my interest, because I took the game home, put it and and began to play.  The define what Warsong is, I would say it was a fantasy strategy/RPG hybrid – maybe the first I had ever played quite like it.

I immediately loved the game’s art style.  The graphics had a colorful, anime feel to them when showing character portraits.  The actual battles that took place were actually pretty active as soldiers kill each other off.  The backdrops and map designs were actually pretty well detailed also.

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The sound and music get the job done.  There was nothing terribly memorable about it, but this was a game that was more about the tactics.  It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the music, but I don’t recall it ever particularly bothering me either.

So how did the game play?  Well, there were two aspects to it.  There are the leader characters, and they are the most important.  Hints of Fire Emblem here, as when a leader dies, he or she is gone for good.  I recall saving often to prevent that from happening.  Shades of Dragonforce follow, as each of these main characters had soldiers units they could control.  Each character has a range or aura of influence and if their soldier units fight within that range, they got bonuses to their stats.  Each leader can hire different kinds of soldiers at the start of each level, and there is a sort of rock/paper/scissors mechanic to which soldier units perform best against one another.

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There are other factors as well, such as terrain and if your leader characters have any gear equipped (at the start of each level, a scenario is given to you and you have a chance to spend your hard earned gold on different kinds and quantities of soldiers, and that is also when you can choose to put a piece of equipment on a leader character).  I recall getting so good at the game that I could go through the first couple of levels or so without buying any soldier units, to conserve money for when I would need it more in subsequent levels.

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When a leader character dies (the enemy units are made up of these as well), their support soldiers will perish as well.  Some levels also have assorted neutral characters who will go after anyone who gets to o close.  Some missions are designed for certain types of soldiers as well – for example one of your heroes can hire mermen and they are almost essential for water combat – but useless in levels without water to cross.

The game is made up of twenty levels, which may not sound like much, but each stage can take quite some time to get through.  The menu and controls are very simple to navigate and while it is easy to learn – there is are so many different tactics and unit strategies to apply that there is perfectly valid reason to come back and play again once you beat the game.

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The story itself is nothing new – good guys are put on the run for attacking bad guys.  Good guys regroup after getting smacked around a bit in the first level, and rally a force to defeat not only the known bad guys, but the evil controlling them behind the scenes.  It is all really well presented though, with story pieces between levels and dialog scenes from characters on maps.  While you have no options to change the storyline itself, it was actually one that I found fairly interesting.

The RPG elements come in the form of gold, equipment, experience and levels.  In fact, this game was the inspiration to a leveling system I implimented on my MUD over a decade ago that I called a Tier system.  Your characters start off a specific class, level up to a point, and then choose one of two.  Level up some more, and you can again choose one more new class from a new set of branching options.  Some characters were so similar that their later tiers became the same thing, like Magic Knight, but there were unique ones too.  For example your lead character Garrett can become a King class, and no one else can.  Each tier brings new skills and powerful stat boosts and adds a good deal of replay value to the mix.

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And replay I did – I can recall beating this game at least three times – maybe more.  And it was a hit among my friends who initially asked: Warsong?  What’s that?

But these were the same friends I had gotten hooked on strategy games on the NES years before too (Nobunaga’s Ambition, Bandit Kings of Ancient China and Romance of the Three Kingdoms to name a few) – so they gave it a shot and not a single one disliked it.  Most of them borrowed it long enough to beat the game once if not twice (and one other friend borrowed my copy for a day and a half.  I was a bit surprised when he handed it back to me and said I could have it back.  I asked if he had not liked it – turned out he simply went out and bought his own copy afterward).

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To this day, this ranks as one of my favorite all-time video games, and influenced my opinion on what a strategy game could be.  It also had clear effects on my own game design years later for my MUD, Kingdoms of the Lost.  I played it again recently and feel that it holds up pretty well today still.  If I bring it up in conversation with most gamers though, none seem to have ever heard of, let alone played this under-appreciated classic.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDcZlC3oZWc[/youtube]

If you are interested in how it plays?  Here is a quick video down below that really shows off a lot of the game as you start off in a scenario where you and your troops are under heavy attack right off of the bat.

Two Worlds II

Polish developer Reality Pump and publisher Southpeak games teamed up to bring us the sequel to an Role Playing Game that was less than stellar. Did they build a better game, or just send out more trash? Read our review to find out.

Two Worlds II

Two Worlds II released last month, and with over 50 hours of play time just to get through the story mode, it is easy to say the game is lengthy. The story picks up 5 years after the end of Two Worlds. Your character, the hero, is a prisoner in the dark dungeons of Gandohar’s castle and any hopes he has of saving his sister, whom Gandahor has taken captive, seem to have vanished along with his freedom. In spite of a self-sacrificing battle against evil, the twins were separated and Kyra is now under the influence of a powerful magic spell from which there is no escape. Evil influences are attempting to awake the slumbering powers of an old generation in order to dominate all of Antaloor, and the hero is powerless to do anything about it.

Two Worlds II

However, just as his despair has reached its lowest ebb, a faint ray of hope appears from a completely unexpected direction. The hated Orcs have put together a rescue squad and the hero is amazed when they free him from the chains of his tormentors.  Still skeptical about this newfound truce between two races which have always been deadly enemies, the hero once again finds himself confronted by a completely new situation. He has to find out why the Orcs helped him – and learn as much as he can about their mysterious leader, the legendary Prophet Cassara. She is both beautiful and mysterious – but the hero must trust her if he has to have his long-planned revenge. So he starts out on a dangerous journey through a land desecrated by evil – a journey he hopes will shed some light on Gandohar’s dark past and help him find a weak point in the defenses of this powerful Mage. Only then can he finally rescue his sister, Kyra.

Two Worlds II

The story is long and the map of the world is huge. Voice acting is good, but not cinematically great. The hero’s voice can pass as Christian Bale’s Batman, even though the hero looks about 5′ 8″ and not exactly buff. A lot of detail has been put into the story, and each sub-quest has its own sub-story. The writers must have spent a lot of time to come up with a story that is not only long, but also entertaining. The characters fit well together and most are well thought out.

Two Worlds II

As expected with a good RPG, there are plenty of side quests to complete that are mini-stories in themselves. They usually pay well and are worth the extra time they take. Some quests you can complete as you progress along with the story, so be sure to speak to people everywhere. You have a map that you can use and each point of interest has a colored pin that represents what that point means. Active Quest Givers have a Sky Blue pin, so keep an eye out for them. Each quest you unlock is added to your quest log, and once open, you can activate a quest and track it on your map. This is handy in showing where you need to go for each quest. The quest log is divided into three categories. Pending, completed, and failed and each quest has a description, and sometimes hints.

Two Worlds II

Gameplay is along the lines of a good hack-n-slash. Where TW II sets itself apart from other games is in the weapons upgrading system and looting system. As you travel around killing, maiming, and destroying, you’ll find items that you can pick up and take with you. There are chests you can loot from, and some of these require a lockpick. Most of the items can be broken down into their elemental parts and these parts, in turn, can then be used to upgrade your weapons and armor. You are limited as to how many items you can carry, but you aren’t limited as to how many elemental parts you have. Dropping items becomes unnecessary since you can reduce the items to basic parts and carry as much of that as you want. You can have three different weapon sets configured and you need to make sure to not disassemble items you have selected for an inactive weapon set, since no warning is ever given.

Two Worlds II

Having three separate weapon sets is another design that sets TW II apart from other games. You can have one set up as an archer, one set up as a Mage, and another set up as a warrior. This comes in handy when traveling through areas with more than one type of enemy. Different enemies require different weapons to defeat them so pay attention to the enemies on-screen health meter. The meter will indicate their weaknesses, so act accordingly.

Two Worlds II

As you progress along, you’ll earn Skill Points and Attribute Points. These are then applied to different skills and attributes depending on how you want your Hero to evolve. The attributes are basic but the skills system is very detailed. With six different skills categories, and each category with its own subset, you can have your hero evolve in many different ways. If you want to be able fully upgrade weapons, you need to build up your metallurgy skills from the Crafting Skills category.

Two Worlds II

The C.R.A.F.T. (Complete Reshaping And Forging Technology) system is what is used to upgrade weapons. Special crystals can be found in the game and these can be attached to weapons and armor to increase the damage or protection of that item. A fully upgraded weapon can go along way to helping you defeat any foe you come across, so it’s best not to ignore this system.

The menu has an Alchemy tab, and learning this system is key to creating useful health and mana potions. The P.A.P.A.K. (Portable Alchemy and Potions Assembly Kit) allows you to create useful potions from herbs and organic material found throughout Antaloor. Resistance potions are also useful for resisting fire attacks from foes. Killing animals along the way seems pointless until you find out that a baboon heart is perfect for restoring health and a hairball from a cheetah can make potions stronger.

Two Worlds II

The last tab is the Magic Tab. This tab provides access to the D.E.M.O.N.S. (Dynamic Enchantment, Magic, Occultism & Necromancy System). This system governs the creation and use of spells according to the five schools of magic. These schools are Air, Earth, Wind, Fire, and the mysterious fifth element Verita. DEMONS is used to customize spells created by arranging spell cards in a balanced manner. There are carrier cards, which determine a spells core functionality. Effect cards which determine the elemental magic that gives the spell power. Last, but not least, Modifier cards which influence the nature and effects of a spell based on the spell’s core.

Two Worlds II

The story has a depth and character list that goes well beyond most RPG’s, and you could easily spend weeks playing through the entire game. Lockpicking, pick pocketing, sword fighting, quests, and so on, lead you in to a world that is well designed and though out. The overall map of Antaloor is huge, but portals can be found that help you to quickly navigate between the areas of the map. There’s also a portal stone that will allow you travel to any given portal and a personal portal stone which can be dropped in a spot and become a temporary portal so as to be able to move between your current location and another portal. This is very helpful if you need to pick a lock but are out of picks. Drop your stone, teleport to a town and buy some lock picks, then teleport back to your personal stone. Be sure to pick it back up though.

Two Worlds II

The graphics for the game could be better. They are a step up from PS2 games, but don’t quite measure up to top of the line games like God of War III and Uncharted 2. This is the one area where improvements needed to be made. The enemies are well designed, but graphically aren’t as sharp as we had hoped they would be. The game had a tendency to slow down when a lot was going on graphically, and screen blur was often seen. This doesn’t make the game unplayable at all, but does take away from the overall experience.

The music for the game was enjoyable to listen to and well placed. Tempo is used quite often to help create the overall experience of a scene or battle, and it fit nicely. The music goes from soothing and delightful, to haunting and rough.

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There is also a multiplayer element that allows you to play either with, or against online opponents. A seven chapter adventure mode is a fun co-op game. Village mode is a RTTS mode that pits you against an opponent and you race to build villages and keep them happy. Deathmatch, where you’ll team up against another group of online players. Crystal capture which is basically capture the flag. And Duel, where you’ll face off with an equal opponent and fight to the death.

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The original Two Worlds was an utter mess that probably should have been scrapped altogether. Two Worlds II, on the other hand, is what any great RPG should be. Depth in every direction, a story worth having, characters worth remembering, and a game worth playing.

Biggest piece of advice for this game: Read the Manual before playing

8

Amrack’s Gamer Profile

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Hey folks, my name is Amrack, as of now I’m a platinum League of Legends player who is getting back into streaming. But before we get into anything present, let’s go over a little history about my past.

My Name: So my name originated from my youth (like most people). To me a name is like a connection to the past that you can never experience again; it’s a memory of what I once was. When I was little (~8 years old) I use to write crazy RPG adventure books. I used to stay up talking to my brother (because I bunked with him) and role played stories with him so I had more content to write in my chapter books. Though my characters changed from story to story their names remained the same. Names like “Drakis”, “Amrak” (yes, it’s misspelled for a reason), and “Larkins”, to name a few. These were my online names that I gravitated to choose when playing games with my brother.

I took more of a liking to Amrak more than any of the other names I created because, my family wasn’t very religious at the time but my mother use to tell us things like: “what comes around goes around”, meaning if we lied or misbehaved bad karma would come our way. Well, when my siblings and I were younger (some not even born), we used to travel to Newark, NJ to see family (or what is left of my outside relatives) and on these trips we played all sorts of road games. One that really stuck out was when we played the ‘palindrome game’, it didn’t last long but it was a good mind exercise. I don’t recall being able to shout one out, my older brother and sisters always beat me to it. But I did try to make sense of the word ‘karma’ since it comes right back at you (‘back’ being the keyword here, as in ‘BACKwards’). I thought I was clever in thinking: “What is the opposite of karma?” – “Well what is karma backwards?”. The word “Amrak” didn’t mean anything but I liked the ring to it; thus creating a main character in all of my stories.

– I dont know when but i’ll be posting a part 2.

Stream: http://www.twitch.tv/amracklarkins

AND REMEMBER!!!!

Teemo 420

Oh, I got RP for this. Be Jealous! 🙂

Cthulhu Saves the World

Cthulhu Saves the World
I was never particularly fond of JRPGs you know; never even cared for Link’s 16-bit adventures on the SNES. Cthulhu, on the other hand, now that is another matter entirely. The lovable Great Old One has always been among my, let’s say, top five mythical beasts, a fact that combined with an incredibly cheap price and a high-flying indie flag led to my playing of Cthulhu Saves The World. Oh, and the Breath of Death VII CRPG the developer kindly bundled with it made the choice of buying said bundle even easier. Apparently and after 15 hours of playing with the thing I can say it was a wise choice indeed.
 Cthulhu Saves the World
Cthulhu Saves The World is, happily, much more than a retro-styled, top-down RPG with turn based combat. It is a truly funny retro-styled, top-down RPG with turn based combat. It’s one of the few games and possibly the only RPG I’ve played on a PC that sports humour that is actually any good. Really. I verified this with the help of at least three (they were four) male and female test-subjects; they all laughed and thought that the heroic version of Cthulhu the game so obviously enjoys ridiculing is a great idea indeed.
Cthulhu Saves the World
What’s more the game itself is rather good too, though definitely not exactly my kind of CRPG. It’s pure hack-and-slash with minimal exploration, only slightly confusing dungeons and simplistic combat. If it weren’t for the demented plot, the brilliantly hilarious cut-scenes, the hundreds of hidden jokes, the excellent and deep combat system, and the fact that the game wisely rewards gamers with something different every hour or so, I’d have probably given up on it, and would have lost one of the most ridiculous game finales this side of Monkey Island 2.
 Cthulhu Saves the World
Oh, yes, also the chance to discover one single gold piece in well hidden chest in one of the later dungeons. How very silly eh? Almost on the same level of silliness of not sporting an in-game map…
Cthulhu Saves the World
As an added bonus the graphics are excellent in their retro, pixel-artsy way and the music will definitely evoke that 80s console music feeling; not that I particularly adore it, but, well, some do. And after you beat the game, you’ll unlock a ton of extras and new game-modes to make sure your purchase lasts you another 10 to 15 hours. Now, that definitely is what I’d call value for money.

Verdict: A hilarious, rich, incredibly cheap and actually good RPG. Get it.

A Valley Without Wind

A Valley Without Wind
Arcen Games, the creators of the amazing AI War, have never been afraid to try radical new ideas and wildly innovate while offering deep gameplay and unique visuals. Their latest offering though, the brilliantly named A Valley Without Wind, does indeed surpass anything they have dared to dream, and even more impressively actually create, so far. Now, the best way to describe AVWWwould be as the spaced-out spawn of MidwinterTerraria and Lords of Midnight after a chemically altered night everyone is trying to forget everything about, but I simply can’t see how anyone besides me would be able to comprehend a description of this sort.
That’s why I’ve wisely come up with an alternate description too: it is a procedurally generated, side-scrolling, 2D arcade adventure, with strong exploration, RPG and strategic elements, that is sort of infinite. Is this better? Does it make sense? Well, I sure hope so, for I have only entered the still-in-BETA world of AVWW for a couple of hours and am incredibly impressed. I’m also pretty certain that it’s only by playing AVWW that one can properly understand and  fully appreciate the thing, but here’s another try:

A Valley Without Wind

Did the picture help at all? Right. Better provide you with the developer’s description then:
Environ has been shattered in the wake of an unknown cataclysm, with only small pockets of humanity left in its wake… What will you do in this strange new world? 
The creators of AI War bring you a procedurally-generated 2D side-scrolling adventure of limitless proportions. Survive and explore a vast persistent world filled with dangerous creatures, powerful magic, and ancient technology. Do so while helping other survivors establish settlements, gathering resources to craft, fending off evil invaders, and more.

Intrigued? Excellent. On to the news bits then, as you too can now have a taste of A Valley Without Wind by downloading a pretty fantastic AVWW demo. What’s more and for a mere $10 (that’s a hefty 50% discount on the launch price, that is) you can also pre-order the game and gain instant access to its current version, which, incidentally, is getting constant updates. As for me, well, I’ll be playing said BETA and will soon let you know all about my slightly more coherent thoughts on AVWWAVWW is available both for Mac and PC. You can purchase the full version for $14.99.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur - Reckoning - gameplay - screenshot -1

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an expansive action RPG. It was released as the first of a trilogy by the now-defunct Big Huge Games studio, and feels like a Fable/Elder Scrolls lovechild. KoA sports excellent game-feel, seemingly endless side quests… and a terribly generic and un-inspiring main story-line.

Kingdoms of Amalur

If this had been a JRPG or a turn-based  game, I would not have played it solely for the story. There are plenty of other games to choose from if that is what you’re looking for. Though glitchy in minor areas, KoA is an excellent choice for lovers of action RPGs who have a difficult time finding games that don’t have wonky combat controls. You begin by choosing one of 5 races, each with a couple of unique bonuses. Character models are very customizable, so long as you are only concerned about the face. The beginning features a good tutorial that gets you familiar with the basics, but make sure to manually turn tutorials off in the main menu once you get out into the main game. Amalur is pretty damn easy on Normal mode, so unless you really just want to enjoy the landscape and make a 10 hour speed-run through the main quest, play on Hard.

Kingdoms of Amalur

Primary and secondary weapon slots do not have any requirements. This means you can equip two axes, a scepter and longbow, or any possible combination of the several weapon classes to tailor to your play style. A unique “Fate” system allows you to personalize your skills even further. You are allotted points at each level-up  to apply towards any of 3 ability trees; Might, Sorcery, and Finesse. After a certain amount of points have been invested in the trees, new fates open up which grant special bonuses that correlate with your most buffed abilities.

Kingdoms of Amalur

You can gain some pretty sweet gear through various quests. You can also invest in Blacksmithing and Sagecraft abilities to forge your own unique weapons, armor, and augments. The vibrant landscape is full of herbs and plants you can harvest for Alchemical use, though I preferred just buying potions from vendors.

Overall I would definitely recommend this to friends who were fans of the original Fable, though Elder Scrolls players might find it a bit too  simplistic. If you’re looking to kill 20-60 hours, pick this up used somewhere and really enjoy the smooth controls and pretty atmosphere. 

Breath of Fire III

breath-of-fire-3

This week we are a little late with the releases but working on getting on track. This time around we have Breath of Fire 3 for the Playstation. This is truly a classic by Capcom as they got things right and better from the two previous games. As the cover says, “The Classic Role Playing Game”. This is surely a classic you won’t want to miss. Lets look at it more specifically.

breath-of-fire-3

The music is a true joy to listen to. It really makes you feel the mood of the game as if you are either in danger or in a town and need to relax and buy supplies. This is one of the great things that Capcom did with their games especially such classics as Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2. If there is something Capcom can do well is a masterful soundtrack.
breath-of-fire-iii-screenshot - psone - 3
For the year it was released, the graphics were really good. Have in mind that games such as Final Fantasy VII came out in the same year but if we compare them, Final Fantasy VII took millions of dollars to develop while Breath of Fire 3 was probably nowhere near that. There is still lots to love as the dungeons are nice and crisp as well as character animation and your surrounding environment. Well done Capcom.

breath-of-fire-3

Gameplay is quite fun and moderate. You’ll have to do lots of leveling up and exploring in this game in order to be able to advance. This is what an RPG is mainly about, you go to a dungeon, level up, and move on. Some enemies can be very troublesome so it’s up to you to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. This is what keeps the game interesting and very rewarding.
breath-of-fire-3
Like any RPG you’ll want to discover everything there is or if you missed something. Due to the length of RPGs you’ll want to make time for another run as it’ll take you 40+ hours to beat the game. If you are willing to do that, be my guest! You are going to love it either way.

Overall, this is an incredible classic that is not mentioned that often. I wish they did things right on the PS2 but they fell short and we haven’t heard anything from this series since then. Lets hope Capcom doesn’t forget about it! It’s quite good. Be sure to pick this game up and part IV as well because it’s just as good!

Final Fantasy Chronicles

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot
Squaresoft did a lot of things right but releasing games that have been around for a while was one of their mistakes as well as not polishing them. This is the case with Final Fantasy Chronicles as it finally gave us a cinematic copy of Chrono Trigger with the only con of excruciating load times. Same thing goes for Final Fantasy IV. Lets take a look at both and see how they stack up in the different categories.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot
There is no doubt that Final Fantasy games have some of the most memorable music in video game history but don’t let the sole and only release on Chrono Trigger trick you, their soundtrack is one of the most amazing ones period. There is no doubt that you’ll have these tunes engraved in your brain. As for the sound effects, get ready to enjoy the classical 16-bit era sound effects. They are just as enjoyable as the 8-bit ones.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

The graphics are 16-bit era memorable. Final Fantasy IV has beautiful dungeons and a world map with towns that are very recognizable. As usual, Final Fantasy IV has some of the towns with their shops and villager’s homes. As for Chrono Trigger, it was and probably still stands as one of the most beautiful games ever created in the SNES era. The game is just so atmospheric that you’ll feel as you are part of the story. Moving from time period to time period really drives you different atmospheres and with the help of the beautiful soundtrack, you’ll know exactly where you are.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

Gameplay is easy, enjoyable, and fun. These are the main goals of every classic game. Both Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV have their usual enjoyable leveling up system as they learn new spells and skills. Switch characters and then some. There is just so much to do and so many different ways to do it. You’ll definitely get the joy of what a 16-bit era RPG was all about.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

As with RPGs, it’s only advised that you play them through if you have the time as they are quite long. If you are a machine RPG gamer then you’ll want to beat Chrono Trigger to get all the endings. I heard there are around seven endings to the game. The easiest one being the one where you go to the future and battle Lavos right away. I do not recommend that ending although it’s one way to finish the game.

So that’s it for this week’s game. Aren’t you glad you got a double dose of RPG goodness? Other than the horrible load times, each game is quite enjoyable. You can always go and pick up the NDS re-releases of each. They will cost you quite a bit though….until next week!

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

Chrono Trigger - Android

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

The classic RPG Chrono Trigger is available now for the Android on the Google Play store for $9.99. Originally created by Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama creators of Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball, this version will contain two additional areas found in the Nintendo DS version of the game.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Developed and published by Sqaure the story features a chance encounter amid the festivities of Guardia’s Millennial Fair in Leene Square and introduces our young hero, Crono, to a girl by the name of Marle.

Deciding to explore the fair together, the two soon find themselves at an exhibition of the Telepod, the latest invention by Crono’s longtime friend Lucca.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Marle, fearless and brimming with curiosity, volunteers to assist in a demonstration. An unanticipated malfunction, however, sends her hurtling through a rift in the dimensions.

Taking hold of the girl’s pendant, Crono bravely follows in pursuit. But the world into which he emerges is the one of four centuries before…

Journey to the forgotten past, the distant future, and even to the very End of Time. The epic quest to save a planet’s future makes history once again.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Game features include:

The Dimensional Vortex: A mysterious, ever-changing dungeon existing outside of space and time.

The Lost Sanctum: Enigmatic gates in prehistoric and medieval times will lead you to these forgotten chambers.

Intuitive touch screen controls make it easier than ever to navigate this vast world of adventure.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Graphics optimized especially for Android.

Combine the powers of your party members to unleash two- and three-person combos.

Over fifty combinations in all offer players numerous options and in-depth combat!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMy3M_vgDt4[/youtube]

Twilight 2000

When you ask a retro gamer about who their favorite game companies, names like Sierra On-Line, LucasArts Entertainment, or Origin Systems often come up.  Less likely, but deserving of a look is the little known Paragon Software, the company that brought The Amazing Spider-ManMegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani ConspiracyThe PunisherSpace: 1889, and X-MEN: Madness in Murderworld, among others.  Paragon Software was also responsible for bringing one of my personal cult RPG favorites to the PC in 1991’s Twilight 2000.

Box front for the 1991 PC Game Twilight 2000

Box front for the 1991 PC Game Twilight 2000.

First, some background story.  Twilight 2000 was set in a future wherein the border tensions between China and the U.S.S.R. escalate and events unfold in Europe which draws NATO and the Warsaw Pact into direct conflict.  Conventional warfare is followed by the use of chemical weapons, which leads to tactical nuclear strikes, and finally a “limited” nuclear war engulfing the globe.  The result is widespread catastrophe and the near-collapse of civilization.  Resources are scarce and enemies are around every corner.  Warlords rule individual city-states, and the countryside is ruled by whoever has the most armament.  Your team finds themselves in what used to be western Poland, under the thumb of Baron Czarny, a despot who finds no atrocity to atrocious to commit.  Having enough to deal with without a nutbar making life even more difficult for them, a consensus is reached that the mad Baron needs to be dethroned – and that’s where the game begins.

Boris Yeltsin to the rescue!

Boris Yeltsin to the rescue!

The Twilight 2000 PC game was based on the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name, first published in 1984 by the Game Designer’s Workshop (GDW).  It was a game of its time, with the Cold War raging and fears of nuclear Armageddon permeating the international consciousness.  Players assumed the role of soldiers trapped in Europe after the final offensive and counter-offensive between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The game had a cult following, but with the close of the Cold War, the appeal of the game began to wane.  A modified history was presented in the 1993 version of the game that attempted use the attempted coup against Boris Yeltsin, then President of the Russian Federation, as the focal point of an alternate history, but never quite caught on.

Isometric exploration screen for Twilight 2000.

Isometric exploration screen for Twilight 2000.

 

Twilight 2000 combines tactical gameplay with RPG elements.  Your task is to complete missions with up to 20 soldiers.  Each of your team has different attributes, languages that they speak, and special abilities, all of which you set to make their unique personality.  Each personality will determine how your soldiers respond to your orders, so it’s important to choose wisely to avoid messy situations (not unlike the pen & paper version!).

Driving screen from Twilight 2000.

Driving screen from Twilight 2000.

The game unfolds in a variety of styles: there is a top-down map display; isometric tactical screens; front-on inventory screens; even a first-person 3-D driving mode (which was a bit ahead of its day, with polygon graphics and lighting effects based on time of day).  One of the more frustrating limits of the isometric display is that the game world, although continuous, requires new screen loads when changing locations.  This leads to frustration as you can miss an important item as it’s not on the current screen, but in gameworld terms, is only a few feet away.

Equipment screen from Twilight 2000.

Equipment screen from Twilight 2000.

The equipment screen shows off an impressive array of weaponry, armor, and general use items available to your soldiers.   Everything from Kevlar vests, various types of grenades, flashlights, thermal goggles, M-16s, Uzi’s, M9 pistols, even M203 grenade launchers!  This was the Diablo of the post-apocalyptic game genre, with something for everyone.  Yee-haw!

Map screen from Twilight 2000.

Map screen from Twilight 2000.

All in all, Twilight 2000 is a good PC game.  It’s certainly not perfect (and needed a few patches after its initial release), but it provides some decent gameplay in a well-crafted gameworld.  Pick up a copy and let the post-Apocalyptic good times roll!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_53e25MtVIA[/youtube]

You can download the game here

The Interview: Tortured Hearts

Obsolete Gamer is always on the lookout for great upcoming games. We recently had a chance to look at the Tortured Hearts project. Here is information from their official press release.

Tortured Hearts logo 2

 

Zoltan Gonda, and Csaba Foris, both well known for the legendary Commodore 64 RPG “Newcomer™,” have teamed up once again to bring PC gamers another RPG which brings back the story and gameplay that won’t let you sleep until dawn. Supported by Lenore Hoehl, the team has already produced the full story in a development environment, including a crafting system, character development sytem and many more. Currently the team is at the funding stage via Kickstarter to move the project further on with the graphics, music and sound effects, voice-overs, and combat system.

Tortured Hearts™: Or, How I Saved the Universe. Again. is an epicly epic, satirical RPG, dedicated to the proposition that most RPGs take themselves far too seriously. Since almost every imaginable plot scenario and character has already been used and overused to the point that cliches are unavoidable, Tortured Hearts™ instead revels in pointing out that the life of adventurers is one endless heroic cliche, some sort of existential trap created by the gods of RPG worlds.

Tortured Hearts - Screenshot

Tortured Hearts™ is set in the unique custom world of Eupherea, where things are different. For example, the gnome race hasn’t yet been written out of the Big Picture. Celestial bureaucracy, which functions much like ordinary mortal bureaucracy, has a hidden hand in the affairs of things and especially in the lives of adventurers.

The PC is one of many seasoned and stereotypical adventurers seeking their fortune. But it bothers the PC to be a stereotype; he doesn’t want to be identified as another loot jerk. He’s jaded by the same old dungeons and fetching quests. Yet, wherever he turns, there are still the inevitable rats to kill, puzzles to solve, errands to run. He seeks thrills, but the thrill is gone. His own quest is to get a thrill out of life again.

Some quick facts about the game:

–          About 100-150 hours of gameplay.

–          200 areas

–          Over 500 NPCs / Over 100 quests

–          Single player game, with 8 possible companions.

–          Six playable races: human, elf, half-orc, halfling, dwarf, and gnome.

–          Character skills and abilities can be developed freely. There are no predetermined classes with built-in limitations, only trends which you can follow or not. A similar system was used in Newcomer, now perfected.

–          Combat will be turn-based

–          Highly replayable: Because many NPC interactions involve choices, there are many possible ways to get through the world.

–          Graphics: 2D/3D style compareable to animated cartoons.

–          A crafting system which will create saleable items and buffs.

–          A variety of companions who contribute in an interactive way with the PC, the NPCs and each other

Obsolete Gamer reported Jorn Asche had a sit down with the team behind Tortured Hearts.

Tortured Hearts - GUI_Mockup3

Please introduce yourselves a bit to our readers, not everyone might be familiar with the projects you’ve been in so far:

Zoltan Gonda – Lead designer and writer—has been making games since 1990. An early project was Newcomer(TM) for Commodore 64, which is still around. He worked for Digital Reality and Stormregion, game developers in Hungary, on several strategy games. He made two of the top community mods for NWN 1, Tortured Hearts I and Tortured Hearts II.

Lenore Hoehl – Writer and producer – Worked with Intension Games of Hungary and later with Zoltan Gonda to make several casual games. Lenore also worked with Zoltan Gonda on the NWN modules.

So there are lots of RPG’s out there. What are the main aspects of Tortured Hearts that makes it different from all the other games out there?

It is more intricate in its choices and plot progression. You cannot do all the quests in one play through, for instance. You will not be able to see all the responses of any one group of henchmen. There are multiple outcomes to quests as well as to the game as a whole. The art and the world are unusual and detailed.

Tortured Hearts - 3D Concept

Which setting did you choose for your game? Will it be more a fantasy setting or can we even expect elements of the real world in the game?

The game starts in a fantasy world of Eupherea and progresses to more fantastic locales. But the behavior of people individually and socially is understandable and like behavior everywhere; for instance greed, and stupidity, and hope are the same and expressed as they are in the real world.

The subtitle of the game is “Or how I saved the universe. Again.” Which role does the main character and his companions play in the game and are there several different endings of the game?

The protagonist and his companions are all very experienced and professional adventurers. They have “saved the Universe” any number of times because that’s what heroes do. Yes, there are several endings.

Does the world of Tortured Hearts “live”? Do people have a special time frame when they go to work, sleep or anything of that sort?

No, we tried that in the 1st NWN mod and it was too hard for all but the most dedicated hardcore player. However, the NPCs are walking around, talking and interacting with each other and objects, so areas look alive. Sometimes the NPCs will be “out” for the PC until a condition is set.

Tortured Hearts - 3D

On the Kickstarter page a turn-based combat system has been announced. Can you give us some details? Will there be boss-fights as well?

Of course there will be boss fights. Initiative in fights depends mostly on stats with a small random factor. The party grouping can be controlled by the player and their inventory accessed during combat. There are personal traits called Tactical traits which are taken on creation, including the companions, and these are either offensive or defensive, so a different party group will have a different mix of these feat-like qualities and this will make combat a little different in every game. In combat, the player can let the companions fight through AI or control them individually.

What will the character system look like? Will it be depend upon experience points or will there be event trainers in the game who you’ll need to progress further?

Characters will have skills and abilities and one tactical trait. The skills and abilities are dependent on experience points, abilities costing more than skills. Crafting depends on skills. One craft, Junk Art, requires an NPC to complete.

Will there be also a possibility to automate the character development for all those who would like to focus more on the fights and the story of the game instead of character development?

It could be done, although it seems like it would crippling rather than helpful. We can do anything on popular demand though.

Tortured Hearts - Screenshot-2

How many main quests can be solved and how many sidequests are in the game? How long will it take to complete the game?

There’s really only one main quest. There are more than 100 side quests, most of them optional. It will probably take a minimum of 30 hours to do the essential side quests that advance the plot, and over 100 hours to do as many as possible (some will be mutually exclusive, see #2)

How far has the game been already developed? What needs to be done next?

The story has been worked out. The areas have been laid out and the connections between them mapped and transitions planned. Simple convo cut scenes have been programmed. The conversations between the PC and NPCs, between NPCs, between companions have all been done and programmed. The quests have been written and programmed. Characters and items have been created. We are now working on the GUI. Next we will model the areas and import them to the game engine, then put in the placeable items and NPCs.

How much time did you invest in the project?

At least 6000 man hours over four years.

How can the costs for such a project be calculated?

By taking the jobs to be done times the cost of man hours to do them. This project will take more than 10 people working full time for at least eighteen months.

Tortured Hearts - 3D Concept 2

Can you give us a example of a similar project so we can relate the costs? I think many people might be curious first when they read at Kickstarter that you’d like to have $300,000.

Games are like movies, the cost can be very high for a studio. I don’t know how to answer that except to say that it’s often in the millions for a big game, and this might be underfunded at $300,000. On Kickstarter, you should also remember that all the money will come in a lump sum which in the US would be subject to between 25% – 30% tax if not offset by the end of the year; if it weren’t offset the total would be cut by that much, so collecting from Kickstarter at the end of your fiscal year could be a big, even ruinous, problem.

Also Kickstarter and Amazon take a 5% cut of the pledged amount, each, so there’s another $30,000 gone. Also, Kickstarter requires rewards, and pledgers like tangible rewards, this is a big cost to the developer too. Even if we only gave away digital rewards, like a game, at a low price, it would cut into our future market by giving the greatest fans, the ones most likely to buy it, a special low rate.

What will you do if you don’t get the money in the time between?

We are going to very thriftily use what money we have from other work to make a playable demo, which we think will convince people to support the project.

Tortured Hearts - Enviornment

Which versions of the game will be available? Are there plans for a special edition with printed map etc. ?

At the moment we are only planning for a digital release, due to the cost of tangible boxes and maps. In a future Kickstarter we plan to have things like maps as digital rewards; unless we get overfunded, tangible maps and books would be a huge expense. We might sell them from our website.

Are there special races that can be played and can you tell us somehing about the way it changes the gameplay?

The races are very typical: human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling, half-orc. No half-elves. The different races start with different attribute stats as in D&D. After that they can develop by XP in whatever way the player desires.

You can few their website here.

Also check out their Facebook page.

Here is a link to their Kickstater page.

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers.~Jessi Roman

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

Single moments in history are what make up our lives.  Some moments pass by unnoticed, seemingly meaningless, lost in a neurological card catalog, while others are etched into our memories, never to be forgotten.

chronocross_kid

What was it about that day in 2nd grade (no, I’m not going to tell you what year it was!) that stood out in my memory? Santa Claus came to our class. We went up and down the rows, each naming one thing we wanted for Christmas. I was the only one that did not ask for a Nintendo! I asked for a drum set, and I got it… never did become much of a musician. At any rate, this was not the catalyst that began my transformation from the geeky kid that every one made fun of into… well, the geeky gamer girl that everyone made fun of. (Thank God for the sudden acclamation of geek culture!) No, it was not this single moment, framed in time, that changed my life, but for some reason it stuck.

I didn’t get a NES of my very own until several years later. That’s not to say that I didn’t spend hours upon hours of my formative years playing Super Mario Bros. with the boy across the street. But no, I wasn’t a “gamer” back then. I mean, I definitely remember that feeling I got the first time I found out that my Princess was in another castle… -_- and I remember how I swelled with pride when I finally beat 8-4 and found her! I mean, I have some seriously precious gaming memories that even go as far back as Sierra’s “Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter”.

space-quest-1--roger-wilco-and-the-sarien-encounter-(vga)-screenshot

There was a life-changing gaming experience for me, though. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school. I started dating this guy who had a Playstation. He changed my life forever. Not only did I end up marrying the guy, but he introduced me to Chrono Cross – most epic RPG ever! I had never played a serious RPG before… I mean, does Zelda count? No, I didn’t think so. So being all girly and stuff, I got really sucked in by the art, and the plethora of characters you could pick up. Matter of fact, to this day, a key element in how I rate an RPG is the number of playable characters.

Let’s face it, people, there’s no greater game to have launched me into the world of serious hard-core gaming. I worked a split shift at the JCC, so I had a block of four hours free time in the middle of the day. He gave me the key to his house (and unknowingly, the key to his heart <3… yeah, I’m a sap), and I’d spend those four hours immersed in the tropical archipelago, El Nido.

Chrono Cross

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers… so I went for every character… played out every possible subplot… even used the strategy guide to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And boy did I get everything! It changed my life. Really. I wonder if I had not spent those hours upon hours hanging out at his house, playing Chrono Cross… I wonder if I still would have won his heart? I’m not going to go so far as to say that gaming got me married… but maybe it did. Maybe it changed my life more than I’ll ever know.

It’s been over ten years now, and we’re still married… and still gaming! I may have gotten better at sharing, and co-op games are more fun now! But to this day, nothing has ever come close to the grand epicness that is Chrono Cross. No other game has made such an impact on my life. Even as I write this now, I’m listening to the OST, and realizing how important it is that I go back for a re-play.

Did a game ever change your life? If so, how? What game was it?

Jessi Roman is a geek, gamer, mom, proudly raising the next generation of nerds! You can read her blog here.

Gemstone Dragon

Gemstone Dragon, or The Quest for the Gemstone Dragon to give it its full name, is as traditional a CRPG as one can imagine, provided one imagines something not entirely dissimilar to Baldur’s Gate.

Gemstone Dragon - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Actually, Gemstone Dragon is the most Baldur-eque gaming experience I’ve had for quite sometime, what with its sword and sorcery plot, the traveling around fantasy worlds, the looting of corpses, the quests and side-quests, the real time combat and a plot about some sort of ancient evil rising in the way ancient evils always rise in games like this: covered in conspiracy. Now, even though its game-mechanics are not based on D&D, the game remains as traditional as one can imagine, starting off with the player selecting a portrait and his/her gender and going on to gain xp, fame and shiny bits of armour.

Gemstone Dragon - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

RPG tradition is also evident in the simple decently done tutorial that eases you into an intuitive interface, the simple yet very D&D rules system, the inventory and all those skills, basic attributes, levels, etc.

Tradition of course is no bad thing. Especially, when a tried game logic is applied to an inspired project filled with smart touches, as is the case with Gemstone Dragon. After a while you’ll forget all about mechanics, systems and interfaces, and be immersed in classic, monster brutalizing adventure to save a fantasy world. You’ll meet interesting NPCs, animals, foes and monsters, visit towns and dungeons, and -generally speaking- have a proper old-school CRPG experience.

What’s more, the game does offer something new, and I’m not referring to the lovely journal and the handy automap. No, all of Gemstone Dragon is made in flash and playable online, proving that flash can really handle huge, deep games, complete with all the graphics, save/load functions, animations, sounds and texts necessary. It does come with a few hiccups of course -you can’t for example use the right mouse button- but it’s still impressive. Would be even better if the world map could be scrolled with the cursor keys, mind…

Gemstone Dragon - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

As for the graphics, they are lovely and properly 2D, with enough detail to help your imagination do something. The sound on the other hand is mainly functional, but does help with the overall atmosphere of Gemstone Dragon. Everything actually feels like running on a simplified version of the Infinity engine.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvfknMNix2A[/youtube]

You can try a demo of Gemstone Dragon and buy both its online and downloadable version at the game’s official site.

Verdict: You probably already know if you care for Gemstone Dragon or not. It’s as honest a game as is humanly possible. As for me, I definitely enjoyed it.

Kondtantinos or Gnome is a classic and indie gaming writer. You can see his wonderful blog by following this link – Gnomes Lair.

Ten Questions: Age of Decadence

Age of Decadence, as I’ve already mentioned, will soon probably turn out to be one of the best RPGs a modern gentleman and his lady can enjoy, while also being the first truly ambitious CRPG the indie scene has ever attempted. Now, before heading off to its official website to find out more, have a read at what the developers have to say for themselves and -more importantly- their game.
The Age of Decadence logo

1. Well fearless developers, care to introduce yourselves?

Nick handles programming, Oscar does the visuals, Rami models stuff, Ivan animates it, and I [Vince] am responsible for the overall design and writing.

2. Now, how about introducing us to your forthcoming release: Age of Decadence?

It’s an RPG featuring:
– an original, low magic post-apocalyptic setting
– a detailed skill-based system
– turn-based combat with action points and different attacks
– a lot of dialogue with stat, skill, and reputation checks
– meaningful choices & consequences
– multiple paths & multiple endings

3. Any idea when we should expect to play it? Will it be a download-only title?

Sometime this year. We’ll offer both download-only digital copies and professionally done boxed copies with a full color manual, a map, and a jewel-case CD. We’ve received quite a few publishing offers, but it’s too early to tell.
The Age of Decadence - Gameplay Screenshot

4. And the name, the name… What is the significance of the Age of Decadence title?

It describes the setting. Highly anticipated sequels “The Age of Renaissance” and “The Age of Nationalism” are already in pre-production. Buy two, get the third one for free.

5. Care to elaborate a bit on the setting and story bits of the game?

The setting is post-apocalyptic fantasy. Several hundred years ago a war between two kingdoms almost destroyed them both. Magic, not unlike nuclear power, was used and supernatural allies were summoned. What’s left wasn’t in any shape to be called empires or kingdoms, so the age of town-states and decadence had begun. A lot of knowledge has been lost; magic was blamed for the devastation, and was all but banned; facilities that were seemed too dangerous were sealed.

The story begins when your character acquires an ancient map and revolves around learning where and what the map leads to, dealing with factions that have very different goals, and finally dealing with what awaits for you at the end of your journey.

6. I understand this will be more or less a turn based experience. How exactly will AoD play?

Turn-based. As for how:
– your Dex defines the amount of action point you get per turn and ranges from 6 to 12.
– all actions have AP costs, so for example swinging a short sword costs 4AP, while bringing a two-handed sword on someone’s head will cost you 6AP. So, if you have 12AP per turn, you can either attack twice with a two-hander, or 3 times with a short sword, or 4 times with a dagger.
– AoD offers a large variety of attacks: fast, regular, power, special, and aimed. Fast attacks deliver less damage, but cost 1AP less and come with a to-hit bonus which works well against fast, hard to hit opponents. Power attacks pack quite a punch, but they cost 1AP more and are easier to avoid. Aimed attacks target specific body parts, etc.

So, going with the above mentioned example, armed with a short sword and 12AP per turn, you can do 3 regular attacks, or 4 fast attacks, or 2 power attacks, in which case you’ll still have 2AP left. If you grab a dagger in your free hand, you can perform a fast attack with a dagger. We also offer throwing nets, acid, and black powder bombs to enhance your combat experience.

The Age of Decadence - Gameplay Screenshot

7. Will there be dialog? Puzzles? Moral Choices? Naked goblins?

We’ve spent all our money on dialogues and choices, so we had to skip puzzles and goblins completely. Even though they look kinda hot naked.

Overall, dialogues and choices are the main aspect of the game and the main attraction. We have seven different endings and only two involve mortal combat. You’ll be able to talk your way in and out of trouble, make allies and enemies (there are no default good and bad guys), and handle quests in non-combat ways using dialogues and text adventure elements.

8. Any information on the engine you’ll be using you’d care to share?

We are using Torque Game Engine, which was at the forefront of the WW2 technology. It’s a real pleasure to work with advanced technology and craft living & breathing photorealistic worlds.

9. How about the available quests?

Well, they are much more better than the unavailable quests, I’ll tell you that much. We have over 100 quests (104 to be specific, but that could change), but your choices will filter it down to about 60 quests per playthrough. I’m glad to report that we have 0 FedEx quests and 0 “kill x monsters/Bring me x items” quests.
The Age of Decadence - Gameplay Screenshot

10. What kind of character creation and game mechanics systems will you be using? Should we expect something like D&D or something more akin to Fallout/GURPS?

The system is skill-based. Your stats define your starting skills and then you gain and distribute skill points. We’re slowly playing a “Let’s play AoD” game on our forums, so drop by and take a look at the character system, dialogues, and some mechanics.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig4uWe_jOvQ[/youtube]

Mother

Earthbound - Mother - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Probably the only way to get a copy of this game is by reproduction method which is really worth it but if you are a cheap bastard, you can get the rom of the game with the translated patch included in it. So here we go, one of the big mistakes Nintendo made was not to release this masterpiece. The game is just a groundbreaking hit and Nintendo didn’t know what they were thinking. In fact, they had the chance to release a lot of crappy ass games errr Star Tropics 2 which also came with a battery packed in like Earthbound does…..so why not?? Nintendo, you are truly a scumbag. Anyways, we did got the one for the SNES but missed out on the GBA one so what the hell? Lets move on. The game plays like an upgraded Dragon Warrior title except with very interesting twists and a very interesting storyline. Hmm you can even fight hippies in the game with their own theme song to drift you out of your seat so to speak.

Earthbound - Mother - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The game is long and fun, the leveling system is simplistic and ideal for a NES game(We don’t need it to be so complicated especially when you are trying to have fun). Also, the characters are just your typical regular people! This game doesn’t take place in the past during the middle ages or the future? This is one of the few games that gives you the present life feel and does a good job at it. Overall, I don’t want to say much but I would highly recommend you getting a repro of it or like I said earlier, a rom file(you cheap fuck!). Either one will work…..

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PJTURgpMYM[/youtube]
To conclude, the game has a lot of interesting facts but mentioning them will probably take the fun out of it so it’s better if you find it out on your own so no spoilers for you guys. That should be it for now, so until next time.

Other recommendations:
1. Earthbound(SNES)
2. Mother 3(GBA)
3. Roms for both you cheap bastards!

Did you know?
Earthbound is called Mother in Japan….neat!

Turkish Rambo: The Rampage

Turkish Rambo

We can all make fun of a bad movie or a cheaply made movie, but this one takes the take. Just look at how the RPG fires and how he keeps finding ammo on the ground as if this was Resident Evil. If RPG’s worked like that the war in the middle east would be going much differently.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l72gxO2l2E[/youtube]

This get’s put in best of the internet.

Mutant Chronicles Monopoly

mutant chronicles

Quite straightforward this one, I believe. Save the picture (taken from this excellent site), print it, spend a few hours preparing thematically appropriate game-cards, use your Warzone minis, 2d6 and enjoy a game of Mutant Chronicles Monopoly.

Introduction: Pen and Paper RPG’s

PenandPaperrpgs
So, uh, let’s start with a disclaimer, shall we? Lovely. If you are one of the few proper pen & paper RPG gamers frequenting this site, then you really don’t need to read any further. Really. You’ll probably know all there is to it. If, on the other hand, you are video gamer or preferably a video gamer that can appreciate the intricacies of Fallout, the vast worlds of Morrowind, the demented setting of Planescape and truly enjoy your average (or garden) video game RPG, then you might just be interested in finding out a bit more on them pen & paper RPGs, the sources of inspiration behind every CRPG from Ultima to Fallout 3, in which case you should probably read on.

For starters, in an ideal world, nobody in their right mind would ever dream mentioning pen & paper before the RPG bit. The later should be enough, mainly because the vast majority of computer/video game RPGs (CRPGs) lack the actual roleplaying bit, at least in the more traditional sense, which of course you wouldn’t know unless you had already played a real RPG, something rather impossible as you wouldn’t be reading this very article, would you now? Anyway. All a CRPG ever did to earn its role-playing title was borrow some ideas (e.g. character creation), game mechanics (e.g. combat, hit points, to-hit modifiers) and/or setting (e.g. The Forgotten Realms, Shadowrun), but never came close to emulating the true, traditional, wholesome, imaginative, wholly satanic and ridiculously time-consuming RPG experience.

So, what is an RPG? Well, it’s a role playing game, that’s what it is. Players assume roles and act out impromptu parts -following certain rules and in thoroughly defined settings- much like actors in radio theatre. Only, this is interactive theatre. You not only take part in a story but actually help tell it, as you’re absolutely free to do whatever crosses your mind.

How is this achieved? Simple. One of the players assumes the very important role of Game Master, Storyteller, Dungeon Master, Keeper, whatever. Let’s call him -as most RPGers do- the GM. Well, said GM’s job is to act as the other players’ senses, describing everything they see hear and smell, as the general organizer of play, as the narrator of the main plot and as the ultimate rules referee. His or her job, essentially, is to be what a PC or games console is -say- to an Oblivion gamer: the screen, the speakers, the physics engine, the enemy A.I., the voice of Patrick Stewart.

The major difference though is that a GM, unlike even 2 PS3s supported by a Pentium 5, can react and adopt to absolutely anything a player might come up with…Hence the importance of the rest of the players in the storytelling part. They are free to experience, twist, enrich, play through and ultimately shape the GM’s plot, always following some rules, not unlike those a video game would impose on a gamer. Rules, that determine whether a player kills a monster, is stealthy enough to bypass a drowsy guard or even adequately desirable to organise an orgy. What’s more, and just like in the vast majority of CRPGs, players get to create a character, an in-game persona, typically called the PC or Player Character, as opposed to the NPC or Non Player Character, obviously played by the GM.

 

What must absolutely be understood is that the GM is not the adversary of the players. He or she is just an instrumental part of a group of people enjoying a storytelling game. After all, there is no antagonism among players. Nobody can win in the traditional way and the game never really needs to end, as PCs grow older, more experienced and set forth for new adventures (in true MMORPG fashion). RPGs are collaborative, social, storytelling, imaginative affairs, totally unlike board and war games, even though they might share the use of dice -usually to determine the success of an action, be it combat or not.

Now, provided you’re even slightly intrigued, here are some pretty popular games/systems/settings (they usually come in the guise of books, you know, them nice papery things) to get you started. Surely you’ll recognize some of the names… Dungeons and Dragons (the father of the modern RPG, pretty complex, but perfectly balanced rules, huge variety of mostly fantasy settings), Call of Cthulhu (simple rules, fantastic insanity system, spawn of Lovecraft, brilliant and comfortably short scenarios) Vampire / WoD (simple and extremely versatile rules, Gothic feel, excellent prose), Shadowrun (very tactical, smart hacking mechanics, cyberpunk meets fantasy setting), Rolemaster (more complex than an accountant’s spreadsheet, but weirdly enjoyable) and the utterly notorious Aftermath!.

Anything else you care to know? Well, that’s what the comments section is for, you know…

RPG Sex

(Disclaimer: This is a naughty post. Not explicit but naughty. If, by any chance, you happen to be a minor, I advise you to not read it. Better click here. Or google words like porn, bouncy and boobs.)

RPGs and sex. They go together like bicycles and fish. Like unwashed teenage boys and 19th century architecture. Like the police and democracy.

Despite this, RPG sex is definitely lacking. The real problem seems to be a distinct lack of sex rules, that would seamlessly integrate the whole carnal experience into the game world. Rules that would intrigue the average Game or Dungeon Master. Rules covering such topics as Inter-Species Fertility, The Wild Thing or Sexual Psionic Powers. Rules that would be free.

Thankfully, another nonexistent problem has been solved. Just download The Complete Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (a.k.a. the AD&D Book of Sex), retrieve your trusted Advanced Dungeons and Dragons manuals and have a bath. A drink too. (Download link)

OR (and that’s an apparently big or) try the BBSW Roleplaying Game, widely recognized (by me and a few mates) as the premier Hentai RPG. Download it here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is a full-fledged stand-alone freeware RPG. And BBSW stands for Big Breasts Small Waist. Quite a shock, that.


Talisman Returns

 TalismanBoardgame

Games Workshop, even if via the deceptively named Black Industries, seems to be returning to a few beloved games of yore, that don’t necessarily fit into the wargames category. It all began (Oh, praise the Dark Gods, cherish the Ruinous Powers, thank LotR!) with the new edition of the excellent Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG, went on to its 40k counterpart and is now maturing with the forthcoming release of Talisman edition 4, bound to happen when the stars are right or sometime during October 2007; whichever comes first, really. Oh, and yes, I did mean Talisman, as in Talisman.

TalismanBoardgame

Why not then hop over to the official announcement? Why not indeed. Just click here, or there for a nice press release. Expect to read something along the lines of: “Talisman is a cult fantasy board game for 2 – 6 people. Players control a myriad of characters from a heroic warrior to a powerful sorcerer. In this perilous adventure, play centres around the journey of these gallant heroes to find and claim the Crown of Command, a magical artifact with the power to destroy all rivals and make the bearer the true ruler of the kingdom.”


Dear Video Game Manuals, I’m Just Writing To Say I Miss You

Video game manuals. If you’re over the age of 19 you know what they are and what they used to be like. For those younglings who are reading this who have yet to have had their balls drop, video game manuals consisted of more than “THIS BUTTON SHOOTS AND THIS BUTTON JUMPS!” and the repetitive warnings of “Hey just to let you know, you could have a seizure playing this game.”Read More

Free Stuff: Ultima V: Revisited

Ultima V - Gameplay Screenshot
Richard Garriott‘s Ultima V (this is indeed a 5) is an ultra classic, albeit dated, RPG. One of the rare gems of the late 80s and one of the first PC games I (or anyone else for that matter) ever enjoyed, in the long forgotten era of CGA graphic cards and 8088 based PCs. Contemporary and especially younger gamers would never be able to understand how grand such a game could feel, even though they would surely appreciate Ultima V: Lazarus.
Ultima V - Gameplay Screenshot 2

 

Ultima V: Lazarus is a 500+Mb total conversion mod based on the Dungeon Siege engine, created by the (aptly named) Lazarus Team. Not only an impressive audiovisual update, but also an expansion and overall enhancement of the original, Ultima V: Lazarus is a must-download for every (Computer)RPG connoisseur. Download it from the official site.


Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger - PS1 Box

This game was one of the reasons I fell in love with RPGs. It had pretty much everything you could ask for in a game. Great story, great characters, and of course great gameplay is only a few of the amazing features this game brought. The story is the usual gotta save the world from evil but in the end it’s a fun story to play through. The game also has multiple endings so it’ll keep you coming back and fix what you did wrong to get the better ending. The gameplay is pure genius as you battle Final Fantasy style but instead of going to another screen like most RPGs. Your battle will happen wherever you find your enemies. It’s simple, fun, and exciting to battle these monsters.

 

ChronoTrigger - Gameplay Screenshot

Another feature of the battle system is the combined attack combos where you can apply combos with your allies for higher damage. You’ll of course need both allies to have their battle gauge filled and for them to have enough points to complete the attack. If one player doesn’t have enough MP, then you are out of luck.

 

Furthermore, the game features side quests that you can accomplish when you get tired of following the story among many other things. The best feature of the story that I like is the time travel factor. You can travel through time to help save the world, how fantastic! So that’s about it, be sure to pick this one out as I highly recommend it. Until next week!

Did you know? There was a text based game called Radical Dreamers that unveils a lot of info of both Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross games. Neat huh?

Dragon Warrior III

Dragon Warrior 3 Box

Dragon Warrior III

This is definitely my favorite Dragon Warrior for the NES. Apart from the introductory Dragon Warrior for the same console, Dragon Warrior 3 introduces different ways to play the game. One of the neatest ways is the option to build up your ultimate team. You can change the characters of your team to your liking and therefore have a dream team! Well, wouldn’t call it a dream team since you will be trying a lot of different characters before you find the one of your liking. Your dream team could be different from every other players dream team. For myself, I would pick all fighters and one mage just to heal but then again there are some monsters that are weak against spells and strong against hits so there goes that idea. I would probably pick two fighters, one healer, and one offensive magic user. It’s just like in FF for the NES, it worked great all the way to the end.

Dragon Warrior 3 Gameplay Screenshot

 

Dragon Warrior 3 is just one of the best RPGs for the NES period. I personally liked it better than part four and more so than part 2. I don’t think the first one counts as it’s more of an introduction to the genre. The graphics of the game are your typical Dragon Warrior for the NES graphics and the music delivers the same Dragon Warrior feel. Old RPG fans will be in heaven with the complexity this game can accomplish. The quest also keeps you involved in the game and makes you want to come back for more. As for price range, this game goes in the 20-30s depending on condition and if it comes with that damn NES box.

 

Overall, Dragon Warrior 3 is a must have for an RPG collection especially if you are trying to find those old NES titles. You won’t be disappointed I guarantee it!

Mythos Closed Beta

Mythos Logo

The closed beta for the hack-n-slash MMO Mythos is underway, but gamers can still register for the beta on the official website. Keys will be released in waves throughout the course of the beta. Fans who already have a key can redeem it by clicking here and begin playing right away.

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.

Battletech Box
Battletech Box

Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.

Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.

I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.

Munchkin Card Game
Munchkin Card Game

For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”

Vampire The Masquerade book
Vampire The Masquerade book

For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!

Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.

Spy vs Spy on the c64
Spy vs Spy on the c64

The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.

Auto Assault Box
Auto Assault Box

Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!

Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)

Ur Quan Masters Battle
Ur Quan Masters Battle

I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!

PSN gets Vagrant Story & Xenogears

Xenogears logo
Xenogears logo

Rejoice classic RPG fans soon you will be able your hands on two Square Enix titles. Although many of these titles have already been made available via PSN in Japan and even Europe poor USA has been left out in the cold until now. While we do not have a US release date as of yet it is forthcoming so keep it locked on the feed for more information.

Obsolete Intros: Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics logo
Final Fantasy Tactics logo

A true fan favorite, FFT incorporates a battle system that is not found within the RPG. While the turn base battle system is still in place the world is a series of tiles where the player moves toward the enemy.  Your actions are based on your class and you can choose various roles from the Final Fantasy world including black and white mages, summoner’s and thieves.

Your story takes place in Ivalice after a long standing war with its two neighboring nations. Not only are you dealing with rebuilding, but economic and political issues as well. After the death of the king a regent is put into place splitting the kingdoms allegiance in two which leads to the Lion War. Your main character is Ramza Beoulve a highborn cadet who finds himself in the middle of the war.

Faxanadu OST

Faxanadu box
Faxanadu box

Faxanadu came out in 1989 by publisher Hudson Soft, it is an RPG where you main goal is to defeat the Evil One. After being away from home for an untold amount of time you return to find your homeland pretty much abandoned. The Eleven King asks you to kill the Evil One because somehow that will lower unemployment and balance the budget.

In a nutshell the Evil One came to earth via meteorite (take that Superman). The Evil One transformed the Dwarves into monsters and had them attack the Elves who were all nice and peaceful living on the World Tree before this all went down. There is only one thing that can kill the Evil One and that is the Dwarven kings sword, too bad he swallowed it before he was transformed into a horrible and hard to kill monster.

[mp3player width=600 height=400 config=fmp_jw_osg_config-xml.xml playlist=faxanadu.xml]

Games I have never beat: Faxanadu

Faxanadu box

I was in the prime of my NES gaming. I was just getting into RPG’s and one of my friends came over and gave me this game. I thought to myself, why would he give me this, then and then I figured it out, he couldn’t beat it. I was all set to do what he couldn’t and then I started it up and discovered I could not beat it either. Looking back now it is sad because I really can’t remember why I was unable to beat this game.

Faxanadu came out in 1989 by publisher Hudson Soft, it is an RPG where you main goal is to defeat the Evil One. After being away from home for an untold amount of time you return to find your homeland pretty much abandoned. The Eleven King asks you to kill the Evil One because somehow that will lower unemployment and balance the budget.

Thanks to NES Guide for the Video

In a nutshell the Evil One came to earth via meteorite (take that Superman). The Evil One transformed the Dwarves into monsters and had them attack the Elves who were all nice and peaceful living on the World Tree before this all went down. There is only one thing that can kill the Evil One and that is the Dwarven kings sword, too bad he swallowed it before he was transformed into a horrible and hard to kill monster.

The game play was mainly side scrolling and you had to travel between various towns where you could talk to people, buy things and take on quests. There were also dungeons where you fought monsters and could find treasure. The hero himself could walk and jump and there were ladders to climb. In addition to your sword you also had armor, magic and various other items you needed to either get to a specific spot or in order to open something.

The graphics reminded me of the early Castlevania for the NES. The music was interesting to in it was memorable from the starting theme to the music played when you enter a church. One of the bad things was Faxanadu used a password system that had a long code you had to write down and if anyone remembers the Nintendo had an issue with its connectors where if something happened it could totally mess up the numbers and letters on the screen. Perhaps that is why I was unable to beat it.

I plan to give this game another shot and once I do will do a full review. The good news is for those of you with the virtual console you can play Faxanadu right now.

Wes Paugh: Fusion Reactions

100 Rogues logo
100 Rogues logo

Name: Wes Paugh

Company: Fusion Reactions, partnered with Dinofarm Games

Job Title: Lead Software Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Perfect Dark

Quote: This is the only game for which I think the term ‘even more perfect’ isn’t completely asinine. Goldeneye established paradigms for the genre that are rarely met with as great success by games with much larger budgets and much more content. Perfect Dark ramped up the formula in almost every way.

The difficulty of the game is cyclically reinforced by its pacing. Level / encounter design was woven brilliantly with story and non-combat objectives to provide non-life-threatening, but often intense, breaks, but I still felt free to explore at my own pace if I wanted. Further, each mission’s golden path was short (3-10 minutes), so they could each be brazenly unforgiving with to-the-second timing that had to be researched and rehearsed to be successful on the harder difficulties. And yet, it was never any less fun or intense going back to easier ones. I just felt more awesome taking the improved skills back in time.

Everything about Perfect Dark felt streamlined and polished, with enough to do to keep me satisfied no matter what experience I craved. Throw in a phenomenal multiplayer and it’s a formula that has kept me coming back for a decade, especially with its recent XBLA rebirth.

Bio: I began working for Fusion Reactions just under two years ago, with prior experience on Vicarious Vision’s Spider-man 3 as a scripter, with a degree in Software Engineering from RIT.

Fusion Reactions had decided to develop an iPhone game, somewhat on a whim. A roguelike RPG called 100 Rogues was born of our partnership with Dinofarm Games in Westchester, NY. Where our team brought software know-how to the project, Dinofarm’s Keith Burgun and Blake Reynolds brought design, music and artistic expertise.

My current work is the continued support for 100 Rogues, with more character classes, worlds and monsters, and features they require. I am currently the iPhone Game’s only full-time software developer.

Project Name: 100 Rogues

Project Info: 100 Rogues is a re-imagining of a genre of games called roguelikes. The genre is defined by strategy against a wealth of opponents with esoteric and widely varied abilities, including the world itself.

Set across a series of 3 dungeons (at time of writing), the player must navigate downward between floors, encountering new monsters and defeat each dungeon’s boss, becoming stronger along the way.

The game currently has 3 unique player classes (Crusader, Wizard, and the recently shipped Scoundrel), each with their own combat advantages and strategies focused around the skills they can learn as they progress.

Although the game is relatively short, completing it is no easy task, and could scarcely be called the point of playing. Randomly generated dungeons, permanent death without chance of reloading from a save point, and different skill-tree decisions make each play through a unique challenge that can take month of practice to reach and defeat the final boss.

Production values also raise 100 Rogues beyond the traditional roguelike, with fully-animated pixel-art, which gives the game a distinct, rich look. We poke fun at genre conventions relentlessly, too; the primary quest-giver nearly passes out from boredom as he hands down the done-to-death ‘Go Kill Satan’, and one player class is actually one of a race living, breathing skeletons… only she, in particular, has been killed and reanimated.

The game is constantly expanding and moving forward, with a fourth player class and world already in the works, a challenge mode with strategy puzzles that will continue receiving additional content, and a bevy of new game modes and features ahead.


Article Source: http://100rogues.com

The Story of First Star Origins: How Bad Economic Design Can Ruin a Good Game

First Star Origins logo
First Star Origins logo

A Background

Most people have probably never heard of a little online RPG titled First Star Origins. It appeared and “disappeared” rather quickly and silently. It was mostly only known to close followers of games created by the developer and owner of Unfun Games. I’ll quickly fill in anyone outside of the know of this tiny little company. Unfun Games developed a number of online RPGs with the title “First Star” in the name of each. It began with “First Star Online” which had a decent following for a new 2D online RPG at the time. Eventually, the source code for the server and client were up for sale and spawned games like “Terra World”. Unfun Games continued to make FSO 2 & 3 along with two tactical based online RPGs. First Star Origins was the most recent game.

First Star Origins had a new idea that sounded fantastic. Let the players build the game. Give them the content and they can build the world. And indeed they could. Players could purchase land in “squares” from the website (similar to Second Life), gather resources, and build a great number of things. It almost sounded too good to be true. From houses to mansions; from fences to interior furniture; from starting a farm to setting up a shop with an NPC to buy and sell items, players had a large amount of freedom in building the world. Players also had a large amount of crafting options in making equipment for their characters. Players could level up a number of skills related to crafting, battling, treasure hunting, farming, taming animals, fishing, etc. Finally, players had the option to build mines that would generate gold and ore. So, it actually played slightly like an RTS at times.

First Star Origins screenshot
First Star Origins screenshot

What Went Wrong

What a bunch of amazing ideas! How could anything possibly go wrong? The answer to that question is bad economic design and lack of support. Bad economic design made the currency useless and thus made shops, the auction house, and treasure hunting useless as well. Typically, in games, we interact with NPCs where we exchange money for items and vice versa. The value of those items are predetermined by the game designer. In online RPGs, the value of items can fluctuate based on factors such as how easy it is to obtain money, how easy it is to obtain items, and what the predetermined price of various NPC sold items are in the game. Supply and demand also play a large role and is the primary reason why item prices can be very different on different servers in MMORPGs. But it’s the NPCs that give the money actual value because the money would be useless otherwise. And that’s what happened in this game. There were no NPC shops and nothing could be done to the gold to give it a useful purpose.

In real life, gold has value for many reasons. It cannot be tarnished or weakened and is not affected by other substances. This allows it to maintain throughout many years in almost any environment. Gold can be used in jewelry and other crafts. It is also a nonrenewable resource. Today, it is commonly used in electronics. Gold has maintained its value better and longer than most, if not all, other monies and commodities throughout history. It is for these reasons and many more that gold has been used as a medium for trade all over the world for over a thousand years. Game money doesn’t have these traits and so it is up to the game designer to make sure that money has forced value.

In “First Star Origins” there were no NPC shops to make a use for gold. There was no way to use gold in crafting or anything else. The only use for gold was a one-time purchase of a boat for 5000 gold. This was a small amount of money and was only useful to brand new players. As a result, players refused to trade in gold. Instead, they traded in ore, wood, seed, information, and other useful resources. If a player built a shop, they were forced to use gold as a means of exchange for items so players never took shops seriously. The auction house did the same thing. Players could pan for gold or “treasure hunt” as it was known in the game. This was only useful as a skill to increase the player’s level. This easy access to gold also caused a great level of inflation to what already had no real value making it almost impossible for new players to ever have enough gold to purchase even the most basic of items in some cases. It was a good thing that it was easy to obtain them through other means.

The Decline

Players still enjoyed the game for a month or so. The more hardcore players kept playing for as long as three or four months. But the novelty soon wore off and the game lost purpose. Economic design played a major role in this. A serious lack of content, updates, quests, and other features also played major roles. Eventually, people stopped playing entirely and the game was abandoned by its creator (though the server and website are still up). It was a sad end to a game that had incredible potential. This should serve as an important lesson to designers attempting new ideas in games or real life. It is important to thoroughly think out the consequences of radically new designs and test them well before implementing those ideas in video games or anywhere else. Or else that great idea might just become obsolete.

GAMES TO BUY: CONSOLE EDITION: NOV 30 2010

video Game Store Japan
video Game Store Japan

My theory as to the reason for the lack of good games for the week after Thanksgiving is that companies feel people will be tired of buying after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Seriously not to dump on anyone’s game but this week the pickings are a slim as leftovers at my house. Anyway I will try my best to bring you something but don’t expect any high scores or anything.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

It’s been a long time for fans of the Golden Sun series but finally the follow up is here and Camelot has delivered a good RPG game for your Nintendo DS. Dark Dawn is thirty years into the future and deals with the effects from releasing the golden sun onto the world. You play as the son of the hero from the previous game against a new villain Blados.

The good thing about Dark Dawn is they kept the gameplay of the first and just updated the look to work with the additional features of the DS. You still have the turn based random combat encounters and you can still interact with the environment. There are tons of magic spells to use and over 70 Djinn which are magical creatures based on the four elements that are spread across the world. When you find these Djinn you can add them to any of your characters to add or increase their magic ability.

For those of you that haven’t played Golden Sun or don’t remember the story well there are hyperlinks within the game that reference you to the in-game encyclopedia which will give you information on the backstory. In addition there are hints and hidden messages scrolled on the walls throughout the world to help you keep on task.

All in all if you have a DS and are a Golden Sun fan, a RPG fan or both then this title is worth a pickup.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

Epic Mickey

Even if you aren’t a fan of Disney you have to admit many of their games are beautifully done and fun to play and from the looks of it Epic Mickey continues that trend. The game was created by Warren Spector who you might remember from Deus Ex and System Shock. The game itself is based on various projects, scripts, character and ideas that never quite made it past the creative offices. What this means is that while there will be a lot of familiar Disney sights and characters in Epic Mickey there are also twists and differences alone with new characters and places within the game.

In a nutshell Mickey is kidnapped and brought to a world that has various reimaging of characters. There are a ton of bad guys including a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who is jealous of Mickey’s success. Mickey interacts with the world primarily by using paint and thinner to create, fill in or erase parts of the world. You can also use the paint and thinner to attack enemies, but it is not always effective.

What’s cool is how you use the paint and thinner effects everything from the quests and items you get to even how Mickey looks and acts. If you use a lot of paint it is considered good and your appearance matches that. If you use a lot of thinner it is considers bad in a sense because you are destroying things and thus you change over time to Scrappy Mickey, while not necessarily evil this is considered the lesser choice.

Overall, this games plays like a platforms mixed in with an RPG and the paint and thinner aspect not only is cool but works well with the Wii. This one looks like a winner and is worth a look.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$

Broke Friday

Nintendo wins this week which isn’t saying much considering. I know most of you will be broke after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but these two games are still worth a shot if you have the cash. Next up is the countdown to Christmas so stay tuned for more Games to Buy.

Motivational Monday: Stereotype

Stereotype demotivational poster
Stereotype demotivational poster

Motivational Monday: Stereotype

I remember when I first started playing Everquest and decided to make a female character. I like a strong woman and honestly if I was going to stare at the ass of a character all day I preferred it to be a ladies. Most of the people I played with were real life friends, but soon enough I met a ton of people and new friendships were built.

We talked about a lot of things, but I was never one to give away much about myself including my name or race. Finally when someone found out they were very surprised; “I didn’t think many black people played RPG’s” one person said. There was nothing wrong with that statement, not to me anyway. It was true, there weren’t that many compared to Caucasians. I remember someone asking me; “Can you make a black character in Everquest?” The answer was yes you could, but I didn’t really care about that. For me it did not matter.

However, having played video games since the mid-eighties I have to admit to becoming aware of some insensitivity in video games when it has come to both women and minorities. Sometimes it was just something a black character said or how he or she was displayed in the game. Other times it was just funny, with a hint of sadness, at how black people were portrayed, especially in Japanese RPG’s.

Sadly one becomes more aware of these things when they get older. Like the old Tom and Jerry cartoons that sometimes shows the large black housekeeper lady or the blackface with the big lips when something exploded near a cartoon character. For the most part I shrugged it off and even laughed if it was really funny. Games like Grand Theft auto and the likes never bothered me because honestly I knew people who acted just like that.

Now spending more time looking back at games I have found some examples where black people weren’t shown in the best light. It is not that we have to always been portrayed like the Cosby show, but if nothing else, some of these designers need to hire a black man consultant. Saying that, I am available for hire.

Let’s take a look:

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker


I could go for the easy joke and say he didn’t count, but I can’t speak ill of the dead. Oh sure I can, look at him spinning and kicking up pixie dust when he kicks, come on! They have Michael collecting kids and making his enemies dance to death. Then again I guess Michael did kind of do that so this is pretty accurate.

Shaq Fu


I see the first issue now, why do they give all the black folks the horrible video games? We really should have a contest to see which was the worst Shaq; Shazam, Steel or Shaq Fu, all titles that start with S and were a piece of S.  So Shaq is playing himself and while sightseeing before a charity basketball game he wonders into an old man’s store and is told to walk through some backdoor portal to a new land, I think this is how slavery happened.

I like the use of “jive” talk that Shaq uses and his first fight is again a black woman where he says; “Your magic won’t work on me girlfriend.” Then he commits both domestic violence and black on black crime.

Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City


Wow, so we have another basketball themed game where MJ becomes a ninja or something and goes around fighting people with a basketball. First off, how does he have unlimited basketballs, I didn’t get that with my black man kit. Second, he starts off in a prison, subtle guys, real subtle. Third, there are basketball hoops all over the place where he can dunk. Who built this world, the Harlem Globetrotters?

Barrett Wallace: Final Fantasy 7


Mr. T with slang pulled out of Grand Theft Auto put it together and you have Mr. Wallace. Ah, the Japanese and their intricate knowledge of black culture. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that the makers of Final Fantasy were not trying to be racist and I don’t really believe the character of Barrett to be racist, but it does hit some stereotypical points. With that said he was a good friend, a great solider and one of the best examples of a parent in the game. Still some of his dialog could have undergone some tweaking.

P.S. He had a freaking gun attached to his arm!

Sazh Katzroy: Final Fantasy 13


Again we have black character that is a loving father and honestly has one of the best storylines in the game. Sure, there is a little bit of stereotyping, but much less than in other games. I have to admit that I did like the baby Chocobo hiding in his massive afro. Sazh was loyal, funny and kind which also made him one of the most likeable and realistic characters in the game. Here is a bit of fact for you. Sazh was modeled after the singer Lionel Richie and his character was to be comedic with heart a gold, think Eddie Murphy in one of his Disney films.

Darkness is:

There are a ton of African American’s in games now, some with heavy stereotypes and many with little to none.  The fact is everyone gets stereotyped and it is really the context that counts. For me, it is good to see more minorities of all kinds in games. It makes it more real and more relatable. Hell, sometimes I wish I could watch the old Tom and Jerry cartoons with that maid, she was funny.

POD: Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve logo
Parasite Eve logo

Making a few changes to the picture of the day and focusing on games that are a little bit more classic. Today we bring you pictures, screenshots, wallpapers and artwork from one of my favorite games, Parasite Eve. It was developed and published in 1998 by Square Enix and follows the story of Aya Brea a New York cop that witnesses an entire opera house spontaneously combust. It is up to her to find out not only why it happened, but why she wasn’t affected.

And as a bonus here is the trailer for Parasite Eve: The Third Birthday

Final Fantasy I: OST

Final Fantasy I: OST

It all began here with composer Nobuo Uematsu who created so much of the great music found in the Final Fantasy series. Fans and critics alike agree that the music in Final Fantasy has been excellent and even starting with the first one the quality of the sound was ahead of its time. The music drew you in, it was powerful when it was supposed to be and made you feel the emotion of the game.  The music could make you laugh, make you cry and drive you to kick the bad guys ass.

Final Fantasy I and II cover

How it all began

The story goes that while working in a music rental shop Uematsu was approached by a woman working in the art department at Square. At the time Uematsu didn’t consider it a career move in fact he thought of it as a part time job, a place to make a little extra cash and in the end would not last long. When he took the job Uematsu met Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi who asked him to compose some much for his games. In the end there were only a few requirements which included adding “battle” and “town” music, but besides that Uematsu had free reign to create the music as he saw fit and we all experienced and enjoyed the results.

Demon’s Souls

Demon’s Soul box
Demon’s Soul box

Demon’s Souls

If the hype surrounding the PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls was to be believed, I was looking forward to a game with a brutal difficulty not seen since the heyday of Rygar and Battletoads; one that had a more terrifying atmosphere than Silent Hill; and with more varied and gruesome ways to die than Dragon’s Lair combined with Space Quest. In short, the ultimate challenge for the hard-core. With the bar set so high, it seemed likely to disappoint in at least some respects. What I found was a flawed but thoroughly enjoyable third person hack and slash/dungeon crawler that threatened to send me to a video game addiction clinic before I finally managed to best it.

The basic mechanics of the game can be summed up as follows: “Kill Demons, Get Souls”. Souls are released by killing enemies and they can also be found on the corpses of deceased adventurers. Souls are effectively the unit of currency in this game and can be used to buy items, repair or upgrade equipment, learn miracles and magic, and even upgrade your character’s stats. If you die, you start back at the beginning of the level as a spirit and with all of your souls gone. There will be blue-glowing bloodstain at approximately where the game determined you messed up (if you fell down a well, for instance, it will be just before you left the ground), and if you can reach it before dying again, you can get your souls back.

Demon's Soul character
Demon’s Soul character

Combat is action-packed and extremely unforgiving. Button mashers won’t make it very far, as many of the enemies have good shields and are only vulnerable after they attack. Defensive players can turn a fight their way with a perfectly timed parry/riposte combo or open themselves up for a flurry of blows. Almost anything can kill you, so situational awareness is a must-have to survive. The game’s wide variety of weaponry and shields can be equipped in either hand and there are spells and items that can be used to enchant them. Demon’s Souls has an item upgrade system where blacksmiths can fortify your equipment in exchange for various types of ore. Some of the benefits include adding poison, bleeding, or fire damage; health or mana regeneration; and bonuses to critical hits, to name a few.

Demon's Soul
Demon’s Soul

Player characters are customizable down to the bone structure of the face and there are several “classes” to choose from that ultimately only effect your initial equipment and stats. One is free to upgrade their combat skills as they see fit and pursue different avenues of magic or types of weaponry. It may take a considerable amount of stat upgrading to do so, but it is very possible to turn a robe-clad magician into a full-plate wearing berserker with a sword nearly twice his size.

The game consists of a central hub called the Nexus that serves as your home base and has passageways to the five worlds. Each has its own distinctive art style and feel including a European castle with all the requisite archers, pikemen, and a couple of fire-breathing dragons; a shantytown filled with plague-rats, mosquitoes, and leeches, all surrounded by some of the most disgusting swampland imaginable; a temple full of samurai skeletons and flying manta-rays; and a mine that seems to go the depths of capital H hell. Each world has three or four stages each with a boss Demon that must be defeated. The souls of the boss Demons can be traded to different NPCs in exchange for spells and miracles, and in some cases, can be used to create powerful weapons.

Demon's Soul nexus
Demon’s Soul nexus

One of the innovative features in Demon’s Souls is the world tendency system. Tendency ranges in a continuum from pure white to pure black and can affect many aspects of the game. The player’s health in soul form is higher in a white world tendency and lower in the black. The amount and difficulty of enemies ramps up the blacker you get, and the type of loot dropped is also a factor. Some NPCs will only appear in pure tendencies, and there are even portions of the levels that are otherwise inaccessible until a certain world tendency has been reached. There is a system in place for keeping track of character tendency as well but it has a less dramatic effect on the game except in a few select situations.

Demon's Soul nexus
Demon’s Soul nexus

Players navigate through the game’s areas while either alive or dead. In corporeal form, the player has more health and the ability to summon up to two Blue Phantoms (spirit form players) to help him defeat the stage’s Boss Demon. Being alive has its drawbacks: dying in a level will shift the game’s world tendency towards black. There also exists the threat of being invaded and killed by a soul-hungry Black Phantom player. Spirits gain bodily form by defeating a boss Demon or assisting a player as a Blue Phantom (both of which will shift world  tendency), successfully invading and killing a host player as a Black Phantom (world and character shifted to black), or by using a magical item.

Demon's Soul shrine
Demon’s Soul shrine

In addition to the relatively seamless co-op and PVP experience, players are able to see ghostly images of other adventurers in the same areas, as well as the ability to give them hints or lure them to their doom. One of the first things you’ll notice while playing online are pools of blood scattered around. These are grisly remainders of other players that have died. By touching a bloodstains, you are able to see the last four or five seconds leading up to that player’s demise. This can be a great way to spot traps and ambushes that would otherwise give little to no warning. Another way that players can interact is by leaving messages, which can be entered through a Madlibs-style system using a library of the game’s terminology. Players can vote up useful messages and this will reward their creators with health. There is no way to down-vote messages that are misleading, false, or simply situated in places that will kill you if you try to read them, unfortunately, but there are a couple of messages (“beware false messages”, “liar!”, etc.) that can be left as tip-offs.

Demon's Soul shrine
Demon’s Soul shrine

For players that manage to finish the game’s main quest, a NG+ is available to start at the beginning with a character’s weaponry and stats intact to fight through an even more sadistic challenge. The game’s difficulty increases the more times you beat it (up to NG+8, at least!).  There is an in-game hall of fame called the Pantheon to show off the players that have the highest number of souls, most trophies achieved, etc. and this can be helpful to see what sort of equipment is favored by the best.

I had been following this game for a while, back before it was announced that there was even going to be a North American version and many people were importing Demon’s Souls from Japan. Gaming forums were full of people trading war stories about how many different ways they died before beating the first level, and I think the average was about twenty. Import sales continued to rise to the point where Demon’s Souls was released stateside. I snagged a copy from Amazon but it languished on my shelf for a couple of months before I decided to break the plastic and possibly my spirit by playing it for myself.

Demon's Soul shrine
Demon’s Soul shrine

When I finally worked up the courage to pop this game into my PS3, I was immediately grabbed by its atmospheric soundtrack and the bleakness of the art direction. The tutorial level showed me the basics of the game mechanics and drove home the message that a scrawny demon with a broken sword and no shield could easily take me down if I didn’t watch myself in combat. More and stronger baddies are introduced including the dreaded blue-eye knights with the ability to bash your shield out of your hands, chain three or four attacks together, and heal themselves if somebody did manage to wound them. More advanced combat tactics were required, such as the parry/riposte combo. I eventually found out that if I could get behind an enemy, there is a brutal backstab attack that would make the TF2 spy blush. Past the knight was an even bigger foe: the morbidly obese Vanguard demon that swings a battle axe twice the size of your character. I was under the impression that this was an unwinnable fight to utterly demoralize new players since the tutorial level invariably ends with your death, but I’ve read that it is possible to beat Vanguard here, even with the newbie equipment.

Demon's Soul valley
Demon’s Soul valley

The next couple of hours were a blur of gristly deaths. I would get past one obstacle and find myself stabbed, ambushed, crushed by a trap, toasted by a dragon, stabbed again, filled with crossbow bolts, and impaled by the blue-eye’s tougher counterpart: the red-eye knight. I was nearly at the home stretch but missed a step going down a spiral staircase and found myself plummeting to my doom, landing right on the switch that opened the gate to the end-boss. Obsolete Gamer cohort Stirge dubbed this game “You Can’t Win” around this point, which I think has a nicer ring than my nickname: “Kill Yourself Dungeon 3000”.

Demon's Soul tunnel
Demon’s Soul tunnel

There are few things that I didn’t like about this game and I don’t want them drowned out in a flood of praise for the stuff that was done right.

  • The targeting system stinks; when locked on to an enemy, it changes the controls so that moving side to side will strafe around a target rather than turn. This is usually a good thing when fighting one-on-one, but throw two or three extra combatants into the mix, and I’ll find myself dodging right into someone else’s attack or even off of a cliff. Also, if an enemy is out of range to be targeted, it will reset the camera, usually to face the wrong direction.
  • The camera is your biggest enemy. Demon’s Souls has a pretty good third-person camera system assuming you’re in an open area without a lot of debris. The camera fails miserably when in underground catacombs, some of which can be quite twisty and hard to maneuver even when you can see where you’re going.
  • When logging into the server, the world tendency will be reset to the average of all players, which can make it very hard to get to pure black or pure white. There are some occasions where the tendency will be set to pure white or pure black, such as holidays or announcements from the developers, but aside from special server events, logging in shouldn’t affect anything.
  • You can get booted back to the main menu if your internet connection becomes broken while playing online. I’ve found it better to play offline than have to gamble with the PS Network logging me out.
  • Contra-lag. The game can slow down if there’s too much stuff on the screen, like in the old-school space shooters. In some games, this bug ends up like a feature; a free bullet-time mode when things got hectic. This is unacceptable in a next-gen title.
  • This one is a minor gripe, but there is no way to sell items to merchants, so the only way to get any currency is by slaying demons or eating soul items.
Demon's Soul tunnel
Demon’s Soul tunnel

Every time you die, you start back at the beginning of the level, where you will have to fight past the legions of demonic assholes that you barely survived fighting in the first place, just to get back to your bloodstain. Many times, I’d find myself trying to rush through the beginning wave of enemies only to find myself mercilessly swordraped by some of the weakest dudes in the game.

There is a good variety to the Boss Demons. Some are relatively human-sized, others stand two-stories tall; most can kill you with a single attack, even if blocked with a good shield. The Dragon God from World 2 (Stonefang Mine) almost seems to have been borrowed from the Scarecrow sequences in Batman: Arhkam Asylum, as keeping out of the Dragon’s line of sight is the only way to survive.

Demon's Soul tunnel
Demon’s Soul tunnel

The Tower of Latria wins my award as having some of the game’s most freaky moments. You start near the top floor of a prison in a medieval castle and have to go through all five stories of it to find the keys that will let you out. There are narrow walkways and breaks in the floor that can drop you to your death if you’re not paying attention. Through the bars of the cells, you can see the emaciated forms of the prisoners, some of which will drop to their knees when you go by, as if they’re begging to be put out of their misery, others will hide in the shadows and try and shank you to death. Several lantern-carrying guards walk slowly up and down the corridors, and the only sound aside from the gibbering and shrieking of the prisoners is the eerie tolling of a bell that gets louder as the guards get closer. It somehow manages to get more disturbing once you get out of the prison and into the cathedral but I won’t spoil all the surprises. I also wouldn’t recommend playing this part right before bedtime.

Demon's Soul valley
Demon’s Soul valley

I would have to give high marks for nearly every aspect of the game’s presentation. The quality of the in-game graphics are pretty good, but perhaps a bit lacking when compared to some of the cinematic cut-scenes that introduce some of the bosses and locations. The levels are well designed and nuanced for the most part. The sound design pops; there are tons of great weapon clashes, monster growls and squeals, and magic effects. There isn’t a whole lot of voice acting in this game, but what little there is benefits from a diverse cast of expressive voices. The music ranges from epic symphonic scores to stuff that would fit right in to a 1970’s horror movie, but what I found interesting was the way that music cues are held back for boss fights or other major plot developments; for most of your time exploring the five worlds, you will be enveloped in ambient sound. This, along with the ghostly images of other players’ phantoms, helps heighten feelings of isolation and strangeness unique to Demon’s Souls.

Demon's Soul warning
Demon’s Soul warning

Playing online can be a blast if you don’t mind the occasional PVP encounter, as Black Phantom players can and will jump in on your game if you’re in body form and attempt to murder you at the most inopportune times. I’ve been able to recruit a couple of Blue Phantom players the last time that happened, and it ended up turning into a huge brawl. Summoning Blue Phantoms can be a double-edged sword, as the bosses get much harder the more players there are.

I think it was on the second or third night of my Demon’s Souls addiction, after a three hour soul-farming bender, that I left a cautionary sticky-note on the inside of the game’s case; a warning to future-me to think about what I was getting into. Of course, I didn’t pay it any heed; this game is too challenging and deep to blow off just because it’s aggravatingly hard. Also, this is one of the only games in recent memory to give me adrenaline rushes when the action gets furious. In closing, Demon’s Souls is a cruel mistress and if you like to wear nipple clamps or enjoy a good flogging, this one is for you. I’d like to leave you with some survival strategies I’ve picked up from my time with the game.

  • Watch your equipment encumbrance weight. You can load up to your maximum with a suit of plate armor and a comically large battle-axe, but this comes at the price of maneuverability. One the things that will save your skin is the rolling dodge, and if your endurance is too low for that amount of gear, you will end up on the ground for a few seconds in a very vulnerable way. The magic number to stay under is half of your maximum equipment weight.
  • Weapon upgrades. There are a limited number of Crystal Lizards that will spawn in each world, some of which are the only source for the various rare ores needed to upgrade your weapons. If you’re trying to trophy-whore this game, I recommend looking up a guide to finding out where the spawns are in advance.
  • On Royalty and magic. When I found out that the Royal class started out with a magic ring that can regenerate MP, I dumped my Temple Knight build and started the game anew. Talk about easy mode! Royals have practically no starting armor or weaponry to write home about, but the Fragrant ring is a great item for a caster, not to mention the fact that they also come equipped with Soul Arrow, the magic missile equivalent in Demon’s Souls. Having a pure caster almost breaks the game, however, as I was able to storm through most of the worlds blasting everything that moved with my pea shooter spell and effectively unlimited ammo, given a book or a magazine to read while it replenishes. I cheesed out some of the major bosses by nuking them from a distance or even by casting poison and running away. I beat the game but I feel like I’ve cheated myself in the process. Now I’m in the process of playing through as a fighter and the game is so much more challenging.
  • Common sense. A lot of this game seems like trial and error, but your biggest defense is not being dumb: keep your shield ready, peek around corners, listen for footsteps, etc. If you see a pile of freshly incinerated corpses, keep it in the back of your mind that whatever caused that will probably like to do the same thing to you.

Super Mario RPG OST

Super Mario RPG OST

What can I say I fell in love with this game. I was always a big Mario fan and shortly before its release I got big into Final Fantasy so when I saw a Squaresoft (Square Enix now) RPG built around Super Mario Bros I had to get it and was not disappointed.

Super Mario RPG OST

The gameplay was fun keeping the humor and character of Mario and adding in the role playing and battle elements of Sqaure. The story was well done as were many of the boss battles and puzzles and the music, some of the best at the time.

Check out the Classic Gaming Profile for Super Mario RPG

As always Obsolete Gamer supports the artists and composers of our favorite video game music. Support great work by purchasing the original soundtrack.

Villian Spotlight: Kefka Palazzo

Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster
Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster

Kefka Palazzo

Since the dawn of video game culture, there have been a lot of subjects you don’t bring up unless you want some greasy, unhygienic, nerd frothing from the mouth with a rabid induced rage. One of these subjects that is commonly brought up by RPG geeks which ends up in a heated debate is who is the greatest Final Fantasy villain? Normally, the debate is stomped by a wave of Sephiroth loving assholes. For some reason, long white hair, trench coats, and absurdly gigantic katanas are cool. Not just that, this guy’s freaking theme song is an orchestra chiming in death and destruction. The problem a lot of people seem to not realize is that the question asked who is the GREATEST villain in Final Fantasy. People seem to confuse cool with greatness.

I’m unsure if the sway towards Sephiroth is because a lot of people played FF VII as their first real RPG and considered anything before that garbage or mediocre. I do agree that Final Fantasy VII was a fantastic game and that Sephiroth was indeed a cool villain. The thing is, he didn’t accomplish much and his role as a villain was rather one dimensional. His creativity for slaughter was usually left with a sword swing and some fire. His actual development as a character was rather bland and nonexistent.

I know. I know.

Take a deep breath.

It hurts to hear this kind of criticism about the One Winged Angel but I’m about to open your eyes to a true villain. Someone who’s appearance was comical but their lust for destruction was their only drive in life. There wasn’t a waking moment where this monster didn’t think about the end of the world. Many villains feel this way but he isn’t a Cobra Commander or Doctor Claw replica. Where many villains fail and constantly try again, Kefka succeeds. Here’s a look into the devilish antics performed by the supernatural sociopath known as Kefka Palazzo.

As the game begins, Kefka Palazzo is only known as the Emperor’s Court Wizard and doesn’t seem to be more than just some queer looking clown. The Emperor decides to begin a process of infusing Magitek into humans. Kefka decides to volunteer for this process and is able to wield magic. Come to think of it… how was this guy the Court Wizard if he couldn’t control magic to begin with? Anyway, an obvious homage to Captain America occurs and Kefka becomes Captain Magitek and stops the World War that is plaguing the planet and is pronounced the savior of the world.

The End.

Things didn’t work out that way, sadly, for Kefka and he turned into a psychopath who deemed that everything ever in the entire world had to die. He became the Joker with magic. He forces Terra, the main character in the story, to wear a slave crown and attack a town that claims to have an Esper in their mines. Terra manages to escape the enslavement and runs off. Kefka, obviously angered by this decides to burn down an ENTIRE fucking castle just to kill a bitch. Pretty hardcore right? Sephiroth lit up a small secluded town but Kefka razed a whole castle.

Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison
Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison

After burning down a castle what else should you do? Grow impatient obviously! The Empire decides to attack the Kingdom of Doma and begins a long and drawn out siege. What does Kefka do to make things move a long faster? Does he impale a girl in the back with a sword? Hell no. Kefka poisons the kingdom’s water supply killing everyone inside, including Cyan’s, one of your party members, wife and his children. I don’t remember any Final Fantasy villains poisoning the innocent because they were consuming too much of their schedule.

When you’ve poisoned an entire kingdom what else can you do at the end of the day? Drink a cold beer and watch some TV? Take a hot shower and go to bed? Or freeze all your enemies in place and order one of them to prove their loyalty and kill their friends? The latter sounds like the best idea for this bad ass motherfucker. Unfortunately, the character he ordered to prove their loyalty stabbed him instead. But guess what? Big whoop. Instead of getting medical treatment he kills his king and draws in the powers of a couple of magical statues to become a God.

Looks like your team fucked up, huh? This guy is God and you know what his first order of business is? He isn’t going to hang a meteor over your most populated city. He reshaped the entire planet pushing it into a post apocalyptic world and then demanded people to worship him. You know what happened to the millions of people who said “Fuck that!” collectively? Independence Day. He burned them down with enough force to carve scars into the planet’s surface.

He became a God and forced people into his worship and still that isn’t good enough. This cum dumpster decides it’s a damn good idea to just end life since that shit is meaningless to him. Sure he’s defeated by the heroes of the story but that’s the point! He didn’t care if he died. In reality, he probably let them win because he was too much of a bad ass to die. He figured he was way to cool for the world of the living anyway. His death was his final “F U” to the world since he already fucked it up and now he’s dead and doesn’t have to bother to clean that shit up.

By now, I’m hoping your frothing has ended and you realize the error of your ways. I know it’s going to be hard to put away your Sephiroth figurines and wall posters but you have finally been educated or rather re-educated in the makings of a true monster and villain. You may subconsciously still blurt out Sephiroth’s name like a slutty wife screaming out her secret lover’s name when the question arises as to who is the greatest Final Fantasy antagonist but you will feel that itching in the back of your mind. You know you’re wrong and some day you can even accept that.

Kevin Saffel: Heatwave Interactive

Heatwave Interactive logo

Name: Kevin Saffel

Company: Heatwave Interactive, Inc.

Profession: CTO (read: uber nerd)

Favorite Classic Game: Ultima 7 and Ultima 7 part 2

Quote: Fantastic RPG with a great party system.  In fact I love the entire Ultima series, including Ultima Online


Tera Online: World Origins Gamescom Trailer

TERA logo
TERA logo

En Masse Entertainment is pleased to release a brand-new trailer for their award-winning action MMO title TERA, as the game is unveiled for the first time to the European audience at this week’s gamescom 2010 festival in Cologne.

This new trailer details the origins and background of the world of TERA. When the gods turned away from them to make war on one another, six mortal races were left to make their own way through the war-torn world that remained. Now the splintered peoples of TERA—humans, castanics, poporis, amani, barakas, even the elves—must unite and take aim, control, and action to preserve the last glimmer of a future hope against the growing darkness.

Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Chrono Trigger cry
Chrono Trigger cry

Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Dear Japan,
My dear and sweet Japan, it breaks my heart to write this message. I hope this tear stained letter lets you know that the way I felt about you… about us was something I will always cherish. While the flickering flame on the candle that represented my love for you has been snuffed, the moments we shared will always be emblazoned into my mind and heart.

Do you remember when we first met, my childhood friend? I was seven years old walking through the SNES rental section of Blockbuster looking for a new game to rent. My little childish sticky hands were all over the Aladdin rental box, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I imagined taking the fight to Jaffar. I skipped down the aisle looking for my mommy so that I could go home with Aladdin and enjoy the adventures of an Arabian night. The other games looked on as I gleefully took flight down towards the register. I was blind to their laminated glare.

Like a rifle’s laser scope, I could feel the pressure of a presence weighing down upon me. This entity’s gaze was fixated on me, reaching out for a friend. Slowly turning to my left, my heart went a flutter. Behind the plastic wrappings of the case was an unknown creature holding a wicked sword. Its white fur and pink nose were innocent yet it held a darkened tormenting blade that screamed out to me like a van with free candy. My grip on Aladdin loosened as he fell to the ground face down and like a handicapped older woman was unable to get up without my help. That is where Aladdin would remain though, living away his last breaths as I stepped closer to examine the enigma in front of me. My fingers raced against the title as I dared to utter the name, your name…
Final Fantasy III.

At the time I was ignorant to your true identity. How could I have known? I was only a child and you offered me the ambrosia of adventure. I brought you into my home and for the first time in my life, I learned from a game. I read, I established connections with a game’s characters, I felt remorse for a fictional struggle, and I…

Well, you know…

I fell in love.

Yes, I said it. I fell in love with you, Japan and your RPGs. I still wanted to take that magic carpet ride but not with Aladdin. You engrossed me into your adventures and made me actually care about story and my characters. I chose characters who statistically sucked but because I felt for their background, I strived to turn them into weapons of perfection so we could see their adventure through to the end. I never thought I would experience anything like this ever again. I thought our love was a once in a life time voyage, a one night stand that left me laying in my motel room bed dripping like a used whore.

I was wrong. You kindled my heart through and through for the years. You invaded my life like a powerful militant country raping and pillaging my childhood for resources. You attempted to take them by force but you didn’t expect one thing, Japan. I welcomed you with open arms.

Like Teth-Adam meeting his Isis, your power and my love for you flourished for years to come. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and the others. Month after month, year after year, it seemed like an eternity that our love would last.

Then things changed…

You became predictable. Another story about a hero who has amnesia? Another villain who dresses like David Bowie? What was that? Someone wants to destroy the world for no fucking reason? Wait, what? The hero can’t speak and can only express themselves by exclamation points and question marks? This is what you bring me?

Like a disgruntled woman on her anniversary, discontent with the predictable present of flowers and a dinner at Bennigan’s, my loins yearned for more than what you had to offer. I had seen too many movies on Lifetime. You were the villain in all of this. You were the man who didn’t lust for me and you know what, Japan? I stopped lusting for you. I went back home. I went West. I went to America.
The West showed me something that you couldn’t show me. They showed me how my actions can change the story. They showed me how my hero was capable of the greater good or the most unspeakable horror. America wasn’t one dimensional. They let me choose.

You forced me into this linear adventure with the same old characters. You took away the tragedy that I loved in you. There wasn’t any drama. You filled your games with twelve year old heroes who from the very beginning accepted their role as a savior. You are nothing like America and I’m sorry for that.

I love my complicated and deep storylines. I love my free reign in the events to unfold. I love not playing as a clean shaven emotionally complicated hero. I love The West’s Clint Eastwood attitude. It makes me feel like I’m in control. Not you! Me!

Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age have yanked me from your grasp. I didn’t secretly leave you. The evidence was there the whole time. They took what your wrought and pushed it to another level… a level that I’m afraid you won’t reach.

Japan, you are the clean shaven boy with flowers who took me to the prom, the one who promised to bring me home before 11pm. America is the boy I want to leave with after 11pm. He has tattoos, he smokes, and his motorcycle is fueled by the blood of kittens. At the end of that night, you hope I give you a kiss but America hopes they can pop all my cherries in one session.

I’m sorry Japan, but for now this is good bye. Your lack of creativity, your undying urge to force me into a position I don’t think I want to be in, your inability to manifest a story that hasn’t already been done, and making me play as a he-she has forced this.

Is this the life that you want to lead? Will you take the road that has been laid out before you or will we meet again somewhere else in our lives?

Good bye Japan…
Your Umi-kins.