FFIX Versus Waltzing – Part 8

Okay, we got a little distracted by equipment and abilities, but now we’re on to the main event again. Last time on FF9 Versus, we got to experience the very first dungeon of the game, which was well laid out as an introduction to all the upcoming dungeon diving.

The story so far: The gang has escaped from the Evil Forest, but Blank is too petrified to go on (wow, I am so sorry for that. Not sorry enough to delete it, but still really sorry).

ff9-070Seems like a cool place (I’m so sorry for that).

The boss in the Evil Forest is defeated, and there’s no way back (that seems to be a recurring problem – every semi important event thus far blocks us off from any kind of backtracking). The Ice Cavern is the second dungeon of the game, and adds a little exploration and puzzle solving/trap avoiding to the general ideas introduced in the forest. Vivi recalls that the cavern takes travelers up above the Mist, and that’s probably as far as we’ll get this time.

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RPG Musings – Rewarding and Earning EXP

From the earliest console RPGs, there’s been a huge emphasis on Experience. It’s the currency that lets you progress in nearly every way. In the earliest titles it let you level up your characters to deal with the tougher challenges ahead (well, it did it automatically on earning it, but you know what I mean). As systems grew more complex it began to be applied in more complex ways. You could choose when to spend it and how (the Souls series comes to mind, as does Party XP in Breath of Fire 5). You could earn different types, each to be spent on different things (Dragon’s Dogma has two types of experience to worry about, one automatic for levels and one for skills).

That’s all well and good, but what about earning experience? The name implies that it’s an attribute gained in multiple ways. Not just fighting things, but seeing things and doing things as well. There’s some interesting options out there for rewarding exp, but rewarding for the wrong reasons in a game can encourage non-viable playstyles and a much bigger set of problems than an unoriginal system would ever cause. Lets dive a bit into exp earning methods and how they impact the games they show up in.

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FFIX Versus Equipment and Abilities – Part 7.5

This isn’t our first aside (and knowing my meandering style, it will certainly not be the last), but if I’m going to take myself seriously as performing and analysis of FF9 as a game, I need to devote some time to the equipment and abilities. The systems used to keep your characters alive and let them access optimal combat options are well developed in this game, and deserve close examination.

ff9-083It doesn’t look as exciting as battle screens, but the menu is where all of the preparation happens that makes the battles fun.
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What I Learned from Mad Max Fury Road

I had heard Fury Road was a fantastic film. With the exception of some genuinely absurd complaints, I heard exclusively good things. As a somewhat fan of Mad Max (the old trilogy is fun enough) and a somewhat fan of action films in general, I wasn’t terribly worried about getting to see it in theatres. I have a one and a half year old daughter, and while she’s amazing, she makes it very hard to go see films (which I tend to drag my feet on going to see in the theatre when I could just watch it at home in comfort later). In spite of my lack of interest in catching it quickly and my daughter keeping me quite busy, the stars aligned and my lovely wife and I were able to go watch the film on the glorious big screen.

The movie was brilliant. I knew half of why within fifteen minutes at the start. The other half I didn’t realize until after it was over and we were on our way home. Both halves are very important to talk about. So lets do that.

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FFIX Versus Blank – Part 7

Last time on FF9 Versus, we got something very excellent for the story though boring for gameplay, and a bit of combat that actually requires you to pay attention to things.

The story so far: The princess is captured by plants, and Vivi is a full-power magic-using plant-murderer.

ff9-041Have you seen this princess? (Most likely eaten by Evil plants)

So we know how to fight plants, and since the princess has been captured by them this will probably be pretty handy to know. After a touch of story we’re on our way to the very first dungeon in the game, which acts as great training for upcoming dungeons. And then the world map, another dungeon, and some proper story progression and character development. How far will we get? Knowing me, likely not very, but here goes.

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Old Man Musings – I Suck at Competition

I love competitive gaming. I enjoy watching fighting game tournaments way more than I’ve ever liked any sort of physical sport, and about as much as I like watching speed runs (which are somewhat competitive in their own right). If you’ve never seen this or this, then your are really missing out on one of the most fun aspects of gaming.

Unfortunately, there is one serious problem that I have when it comes to competitive games: I really and truly am terrible at them. There’s a lot to competitive gaming, from score attacking to fighting games to first person shooters (and don’t forget speed runs). How about we take a look at the cool stuff each one brings to the table even as I recount how I specifically suck at all of them?

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FFIX Versus Traditional Cutscenes – Part 6

Last time on FF9 Versus, we got to apply some of the wandering around and searching that we learned in spite of the game, and we finally got that combat that lets you test out some actual skills.

The story so far: The princess wanted to be kidnapped, everyone wound up on board during the play, and the ship got pretty much destroyed while fleeing Alexandria.

ff9-052They’ll be fine.

It’s time to get introduced to a few new game mechanics, and see some of the less civilized areas of the world. There’s a lot of stuff happening here, so I’m not sure how far I’ll be able to dive before I hit too many words and cut myself off. At the very least, we’re going to talk ATE and Trance. With some luck, we’ll talk magic, dungeons and world maps. Okay, here we go.

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From 3U to 4U: How Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Does It Right

This post was written at the request of T1GZ of ns4g.com. Really, it could stand to be trimmed down a lot, but damn do I love Monster Hunter, so I went crazy.

It’s important to preface this with a disclaimer that I’m a giant Monster Hunter fan. I got into the series with Monster Hunter Freedom 2, and have been locked in ever since. I mean hell, I got a tattoo of the health bar and clock HUD across my chest. This isn’t going to be about a strict and critical analysis of the Monster Hunter games – it’s going to show how 4 Ultimate took everything 3 Ultimate did and made the game so much better and you should stop reading this and go buy it and play it right now.

Still reading? Okay, it’s time to look at the specifics and show you why Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate deserves to have you playing it (especially if you played any previous entry). The changes can be classed into three categories, each one having a very different impact on the experience, but vitally important to making 4U the pinnacle of hunting monsters.

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Old Man Musings – Summer of Square

I’m sure it’s pretty apparent that I’m a giant Squaresoft fan. Having gotten really into gaming between 1997 and 2000, it’s pretty darn easy to be fond of the titles that Squaresoft put out. They formed a huge part of the Playstation library, and certainly over half of what I own on PSX discs are games that they put out. RPGs are my favourite genre of games, and during those years, Squaresoft seemed like they could do no wrong.

Obviously that couldn’t last forever (As the Play Online insert for FF9 reminded me (and Play Online itself was quite the disaster), Final Fantasy Spirits Within was just around the corner), but while it lasted, it was incredible. For me, the Squaresoft of those years was a massive inspiration, and their games forever impacted my tastes and interests. Lets go on a journey through that golden summer.

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FFIX Versus Steiner – Part 5

Last time on FF9 Versus, we finished up Vivi’s opening segment, and covered the introduction of Steiner. Also a slight aside because I completely forgot about cards.

The story so far: Vivi is hyped to watch the play, Steiner is watching over the princess, and cards are for chumps.

ff9-033About three games ago, with some liberties taken…

With a little luck, this will be the last post covering the very beginning of the game. There’s a lot to cover in a chronological sense, but so very little to talk about in an actual mechanical sense. We start to see the game actually come into its own at this point, which is very exciting stuff.

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