Retro Game Friday: Front Mission

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m back with a game that was hugely popular back in it’s day. It’s Front Mission!

Plot: I forgot how sad this story is, honestly after looking up the story for a refresher I was tempted to not bother covering this game due to how freaking depressing the story is. The story is good, but damn is it dark and depressing.

Gameplay: This was a pure tactical RPG and boy did it do it well for it’s time and helped paved the way for games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars in the future. You could customize the Wanzers to a pretty deep degree given the tech limitations and the standard of quality at the time. That being said it’s a nearly a pure single player game and while you could play with another it’s hard to do that when you shared a screen.

Art: The art was pretty great for it’s time, and it’s aged fairly well. It’s not the best of it’s era, but it holds up pretty well.

Music: I don’t remember it much at all, sorry.

Overall: A great game, but if you don’t like bawling your eyes out you might want to skip it due to the dark nature of the story.

For those who like: Mechas, Tactical RPGs, Drama, Good Story, Great Gameplay.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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Video Game Tuesday: Black Armory’s Launch was a Failure

I’m back with a familiar topic for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. It’s all about why Black Armory’s Launch was a Failure!

Black Armory?: Black Armory was the first DLC drop after Forsaken launched for Destiny 2, and it was a massive middle finger to the player base once again. There were many things I had faintly hoped Bungie had learned from in the past, but apparently five years into this series they still make really stupid mistakes.

Like what?: They decided to make the first new activity of the new DLC an activity that even people who had the very best gear the day before the DLC released couldn’t complete without being highly skilled premade group despite flaunting the ability to match make the activity and locked it behind a tedious grind. Black Armory wasn’t like past DLC that included Story Missions, Strikes, New Vendor Gear, New Exotic Armor, or Crucible Maps, instead it included none of those things, and just added a new activity and a raid that was locked for a few days after it’s launch that started off at a new gear level that was vastly over the previous cap. They included no ability to catch up for those who hadn’t reached that previous cap, so those who were just hitting 500 power level were still unable to even contemplate doing these activities until a month or more had passed depending on their luck. This has been lessened with a recent hotfixed change that made Prime Engrams drop more often up to the 600 power level cap, but that’s a really shitty bandaid that doesn’t fix the issue with RNG deciding to give you the bird and still requires players to grind constantly.

The fact that the very first activity was geared for people at 630 power level was a big fat screw you to the player base considering the cap was 600, and getting 1 or 2 increase in power level is a serious grind for everyone at the level.  People who had stocked up multiple bounties with Powerful Rewards and keys from the Raid could easily skip most of the grind and get a character past this with ease, but most people weren’t expecting to have to continue doing the same old content just to even think about doing the new stuff and still most likely fail.

This was a serious mistake on Bungie’s part, and instead of really creating a solution they hotfixed it the next day to give the activity a 5 power level decrease in total, meaning people had to spend only a day or two less in a very lucky week to get to that level. I’ve long held that Bungie has no clue how to properly communicate with their consumers, and this is another mark in the long list of proof I’ve been keeping of this fact. I had been playing Destiny 2 nearly daily since Forsaken up to the release of Black Armory, a thing that hasn’t happened since the Dark Below way back in 2014. That quickly changed when I was told to continue the grind just to do a new activity that wasn’t really all that fun in comparison to the work required to do it. I’ll be deleting Destiny 2 off my PlayStation’s hard drive once again and I’ll hope Bungie gets a clue in the future on how to treat their player base, but it’s a tiny hope now and I expect only more screw ups from them.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Retro Game Friday: Castlevania Order of Ecclesia

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m back with another Castlevania entry! It’s Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia!

Plot: The plot is okay, it’s not the best of the series by a longshot, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the later 3D reboot that graced the last gen of consoles. It’s also nice that Shanoa is a completely standalone character and in no way connected to the Belmont line of the series.

Gameplay: The gameplay is a bit like Symphony of the Night and the more classic Castlevania games. It uses the heart system which was absent from the more recent prior entries to fuel certain attacks which was absent in both Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin. I enjoyed the gameplay, and if Dawn of Sorrow had forgone the touch screen completely I wouldn’t be torn between Ecclesia and that for my top Castlevania games after Symphony of the Night.

Characters: Shanoa is our main character and she’s quite a bad ass. That being said this isn’t the best entry in terms of characters as it really revolves only around a few, namely Shanoa and Albus her enemy and once compatriot.

Art: The art is okay, and sticks to the Symphony of the Night style that was the peak of the series in my opinion. It could be a remastered with today’s standards, but it holds up fairly well regardless.

Music: I don’t remember much of it and since it was a handheld I didn’t listen to much to begin with.

Overall: A good entry, but not the best in a long running series.

For those who like: Metroidvania games, Action, Exploration, Drama, Badass Female Leads.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Video Game Tuesday: Thoughts on Blue Mages in FFXIV

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m back with my thoughts on a big announcement that happened a few weeks ago. It’s my Thoughts on Blue Mages in FFXIV!

Blue Mage?: So announced at the Las Vegas Fan Fest was not only the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion but also the announcement that Blue Mages would be coming in Patch 4.5. This has been met with some major ripples in the community and it’s pretty torn up about it.

What do we know?: That it’s going to be the first “Limited Job”. It’ll start at Level 1 and will be capped at Level 50 for a while before the cap will be raised in the future. In addition it’ll be barred from doing anything with Matchmaking, from PvP to the Random Dungeon Roulettes and the current 24 man raids if it ever reaches the current level cap. What it won’t be barred from is premade groups which means you can tackle any older content and theoretically any newish content that’s still level relevant as a Blue Mage in a group. We know we’ll be learning various abilities from monsters, including bosses like Shiva, and that the powers are going to be pretty freaking broken (as in really imbalanced in the favor of the player) with a total of 24 usable at any one time but with 49 in total that we’ll have to pick and choose from. To learn the abilities we need to merely see it in action and we may learn it. It’s not a guaranteed thing, so there is an RNG element added into it. We know that they’ll gain XP much faster than any other job in the game, so it shouldn’t be a burden to level them up just by killing mobs out in the world or doing level relevant FATEs. We know that the weapon will be a cane and the aesthetic will be the more classic take on the class rather than the more Middle Eastern versions from the Tactics sub-series. Finally it’ll have a special Blue Mage specific solo instance or challenge area called the Masked Carnival and that it’ll take players using their various abilities with high amounts of skill to perform well.

How do you feel?: Pretty excited, because Blue Mages have always been more than a bit overpowered if they had the right skills in the right situations and could pretty much kill anything with ease when those conditions were met. That doesn’t seem to be changing with it’s implementation into FFXIV. If anything this will make playing as a Solo player really fun, and those who use the class skillfully will be able to solo stuff much easier and be able to do older content without having to worry about sharing loot with other players. That isn’t to say that they can’t and won’t do content with others, if anything people will be running old group content with a mix of higher leveled classes and Blue Mages to learn certain abilities from specific bosses.

However I’m not a huge fan of the class aesthetic, and would’ve preferred the Tactics version’s. Especially since they had a perfect region in game that would make a lot of sense to have Blue Mages hail from if they went that route.

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME MAINING BLU?!?!: Look, it was never going to happen while feeling like playing a real Blue Mage. Having only limited monster abilities is just taking the class and making it another Black Mage/Warrior/Scholar depending on the role it would’ve been limited to. And before you bring up Red Mage being in a similar situation, it never was at all. They did an amazing job bringing the class to FFXIV and making it work in the classic holy class trinity without being either too overpowered or a completely underpowered class. Blue Mage could never fit in any of those roles without pissing off the other 2 roles and the developers know that. So they did something completely out of the box and made it the class to play as a solo player. Red Mage was going to either be a DPS or a Healer, and honestly they don’t need another Healer class, as they’ve got the entire spectrum of healing covered from HoT healing to Shields. So they took the White Magic spells and mixed them with the Black Magic and made it a Spell DPS class that mixes them together to make Red Magic, which was always the core concept behind the class. It makes sense, and while they have a heal that’ll help in a pinch they shouldn’t be using it unless they’re in an emergency.

That’s my thoughts on the situation and I’m looking forward to playing Blue Mage as it sounds like it’ll let me solo some old content without other people which suits my generally lone wolf nature perfectly.

Retro Game Friday: Gex Enter the Gecko

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m back with the sequel to Gex. It’s Gex Enter the Gecko!

Plot: The plot is just as nonsensical as the first one, with Gex being tasked once more to save the world. It’s not an amazing story, but it was fun as a kid and it’s not the worst plot in a platformer I’ve ever played.

Gameplay: This was the first entry in the Gex series that was in 3D and it did pretty well in making the transition. It kept the feel of the original game fairly well, but was different enough to draw in newcomers. That being said both the GameBoy Color and Nintendo 64 versions were much worse versions, so play the PC or PlayStation versions if you’ve never played this before. The constant pop culture references were great and pretty funny.

Art: Sadly this portion of the game has aged incredibly poorly, but back in the day it was pretty awesome.

Music: The music was okay from what I can remember, but I don’t remember much of it.

Overall: Give this a spin if you love Platformers, as it was a fun game for the younger crowd.

Video Game Tuesday: Setting Expectations

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m talking about the importance of a very key factor when discussing future games or plans for content. It’s all about Setting Expectations!

Expectations?: So recently we’ve had two really good examples of how NOT to set fan expectations both prior to announcing something and afterwards. The Diablo Immortal Issue, and Final Fantasy XV’s cancellation of almost every future DLC and PC support.

Diablo Immortal: Let’s get this one out of the way first. Blizzard royally screwed up with the announcement of Diablo Immortal at the recent Blizzcon. I don’t think I remember them screwing up so bad, ever. There was the Real ID fiasco that occurred years ago, but that wasn’t as bad I think. They could and had plans to announce not only Diablo Immortal, but also Diablo 4 as well at the end of that announcement. Instead they just announced Immortal, which was a huge freaking mistake. First hardcore gamers in general, and PC gamers in particular, all hate the idea of Mobile games, add in the fact that Blizzard was teaming up with NetEase to make Diablo Immortal and the whole situation looked like a huge betrayal of the Diablo fanbase. One of the developers incredibly poor response during a particularly pointed question during a Q&A session later only exacerbated the issue. They should have gone with their first plan, as it was would have been much better. People would’ve been upset, and arguably rightly so in some views. Having multiple teams working on separate projects for Diablo could be seen as overly ambitious, and division of potential labor towards the quicker goal of completing Diablo 4, as well as the blatant cash grab that was the initial response to Diablo Immortal. I don’t agree with the direction of making a Diablo game for mobile, first it seems like it could easily be a poor clone, and while the demo available was apparently okay, that was a controlled demo that was made to showcase the best of the game. The rest of the game could easily be a huge disappointment, and the response from the people who played the demo doesn’t rule out that possibility. The Blizzard seal of quality has meaning, and if they handle this poorly they could end up repeating Bungie’s mistakes that cost them pretty much every shred of credibility with the gaming community.

Final Fantasy XV: The loss of Director Hajime Tabata seems to be the root issue of this issue, and frankly it’s a huge disappointment. I was really looking forward to playing the second wave of DLC, and because it was announced I hadn’t touched the first wave of DLC. Now I’m not sure I will for a good while. I’ll probably have fun with the Final Fantasy XIV crossover stuff, but I’m highly saddened that Square Enix is cutting back on the entire DLC plan they had for 2019 and beyond. Unlike many, I was looking forward to seeing a different ending that would’ve been included in the Noctis DLC, as while I really enjoyed most of the game and the story, the later portions of the story were incredibly depressing. Knowing that we lost this DLC is highly discouraging and a huge black mark on Square Enix’s record of making Final Fantasy games for me.

How can Developers handle expectation better?: Honestly, knowing their consumers better would prevent many of these issues in my opinion. Nintendo lost many hardcore gamers with their decision to cater to the casual market with the Wii, and they are still feeling the repercussions of that decision still. Granted that the Switch is a huge success, but they lost a lot of trust with the decision to pursue gimmicky controls with the DS and Wii. Others should take note of their mistakes and keep them in mind when they are planning announcements.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

Retro game Friday: R-Type

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m back with another classic. It’s R-Type!

Gameplay: This is one of those games that is infamous for it’s incredible difficulty, but it’s also one of the first side scrolling Shoot Em Up bullet-hells that was wildly successful. The gameplay was simple at first look, but had some depth with the ability to change the “Force” item from being attached to your ship for added firepower to being detached and floating to fire secondary weapons and act as a shield. In addition you could charge shots, something that was pretty innovative for the day, and the fact that you had to learn by failing repeatedly is something that is pretty foreign by today’s game design standards.

Art: The art is okay, not super amazing, but given that it’s over 30 years old that shouldn’t be a surprise. Thankfully being pretty much fully 2D it has aged really well.

Overall: A fun game, if highly difficult. If you enjoy hard games and have never played R-Type, you ought to give a try.

For those who like: Shoot Em Ups, Bullet Hells, Sci-Fi, Difficult Gameplay.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.