December 3, 2013
I didn’t touch on this in my review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I really didn’t like the structure of the boss fights. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the boss fights were universally panned when the game was originally released. So much so that Square Enix actually revealed that they were outsourced, as if to shield Eidos Montreal or the otherwise stellar game from negative press. I didn’t care for them for one very specific reason – they didn’t coalesce with the way I role-played the game.
As I mentioned in my review, I played through the game attempting to go unseen. I also approached confrontations with the goal of non-lethally taking enemies out or bypassing them entirely. Neither of those play styles were options when it came to the bosses. Adam Jensen eventually came across these antagonists as the narrative unfolded, and he confronted them head on. The only resolution was to kill them very bluntly – guns blazing.
Since I role-played Adam in a different way, I was generally lacking in the hardware required to take the antagonists out. That made these fights difficult for me. The first fight was horrendously difficult as I had to get accustomed to a different play style. Meanwhile, Adam would die in a scant few hits from this initial boss. It was tough not to rage quit. I was more prepared with the later boss battles as I began always keeping a select few lethal weapons in my inventory. I didn’t find these as tough, but they weren’t easy.
For narrative purposes, these antagonists had to die. Adam talking them down or converting them to a different way of thinking would’ve stripped away the intensity and sense of threat posed by these baddies. After all, if Adam could talk everyone down, who are the ideologues leading his opposition? In that scenario, no one would believe that their point of view is the “correct” one. There wouldn’t be any honest opposition or nefarious individuals.
How should this be remedied? I don’t know. This has reportedly been addressed with the Director’s Cut so I’m curious what their resolution was. In conversations with friends, I’ve forwarded the thought that Adam could’ve found a way to sneak up on these enemies. That solves one of my qualms but he, or someone else, still needs to take them out. If Batman has taught us one thing, it’s futile locking the Joker up. One way or the other, he’s going to escape. In the end, it boils down to me role-playing Adam Jensen in a way not consistent with the narrative. However, Eidos Montreal sent mixed signals. The gameplay is open-ended, but the narrative doesn’t completely gel with any play style. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that touts multiple paths but perhaps there’s only one true way.
November 10, 2013
I’m a Pokemaniac. There, I said it. Now that it’s on the internet, I’ll never be able to reclaim those feelings and keep them caged again. Ever since Pokemon X and Y released, I’ve been surrounded by people who playing the game. This has created a certain fervor that one might describe as a zeitgeist. Well instead of joining in on the excitement directly, I’ve decided to do so in a roundabout way.
What I’ve done, is reinvigorated a plan to play through the earliest games in the series that will allow me to transfer Pokemon to the most recent releases. Therefore, my starting point is the Ruby and Sapphire era, consisting of mostly Game Boy Advance and GameCube games. The Pokemon from this generation can be transferred upwards to the DS games and then from the DS games to the 3DS games. Instead of starting with Ruby or Sapphire (or most likely Emerald because I never played it), I’ve begun with LeafGreen. Even though it and FireRed were released after Ruby and Sapphire, it makes more chronological sense to me as they are remakes of the original releases.
Being the Pokemaniac that I am, or was prior to Black and White, I’ve already played through LeafGreen. And honestly, I’m not replaying it for pure face value enjoyment. It’s a solid game but being an enhanced remake of the original games, it’s a little lacking. No, my enjoyment has stemmed from the long view I’ve got.
I’m naming my avatars differently so they’re not all simply John. I’m also nicknaming all the Pokemon I can along the way – something I’ve usually refrained from doing. I’m thinking that once (if?) this is all said and done, I’ll be able to look back at the fleet of Pokemon I’ve acquired and remember which game one of them came from and what I was doing/thinking at that time. At the very least, I’ll have a diverse cast of Pokemon that will get tons of experience from being traded!
Even though this is a process that appears like a deep dive into the Pokemon rabbit hole, it’s not as hardcore as you might think. For the most part, I’m avoiding caring too much about the multitude of stats tied to individual Pokemon. I could spend time searching for the optimal combination of traits in a specific Pokemon. Then, I could decide in which game I want to level a specific Pokemon to learn desired moves. Yet further, I could try and figure out what the hell EV training is. Instead, I’m leaving these extra opportunities for added enjoyment if I ever actually follow through and complete this grand ambition of mine.
October 29, 2013
Some games practically require you to take notes to progress. Older RPGs are a great example of this. They can be vague when guiding the player and the NPCs generally aren’t any better. I’ve found it helpful to write down the directions I receive when playing them. That way, should I take a break from the game, I won’t be completely lost upon returning – forced to consult a FAQ or simply restart.
When I played through Final Fantasy V I went a step further. With my handy tablet nearb, I noted the directions and helpful suggestions, as well as the general narrative. This resulted in a lengthy set of notes that I thought I’d publish here. Enjoy.
October 26, 2013
Okay, Final Fantasy V hasn’t been released as much as its predecessor. In fact, the first time it was officially released outside of Japan was with the American release of Final Fantasy Anthology for the PlayStation. That was in late 1999 – basically seven years after it was originally released on the Super Famicom in late 1992. It took another two and a half years for the game to eventually be released in Europe. Since then, it has been released on the Game Boy Advance and on iOS and Android platforms.
As they did for the Super Famicom release of Final Fantasy IV, Square opted for a cutesy cover over the traditional usage of Yoshitaka Amano’s artwork. Again, he was relegated to the logo design. This cover hones in on the wanderer Bartz, and easily conveys this fact. The logo chosen for this game includes a dragon intertwined with the font. This is also apt as dragons play a significant role in the narrative.
The game was subsequently released on the PlayStation in 1996. This is my favorite cover that’s been used for one of the game’s releases. The cutesy character design again reigns supreme and this time it’s highlighting the many job classes. With the exception of two as there were twenty-two job classes in the original.
So this is the version of the game that I possess. I really dig the box art, but it pertains to Final Fantasy VI, so it’s not really comparable in this article. I will mention that I had difficulty playing the disc on the PlayStation 3. There is a save screen glitch that the game freezes at. The glitch is still a factor when playing the disc on the PlayStation 2, but on that system, it’s only a graphical glitch. The menu can still be navigated and the game doesn’t freeze.
For the European release of Final Fantasy Anthology, this game received the honor of selling the game. If it’s successor was included in this package, I’m sure that wouldn’t have been the case. Still, this is prime Amano displaying the cast on one of the many ships.
For the Game Boy Advance release, a slew of extra content was added including extra job classes and an extra dungeon or two. I’d like to play these versions of the NES and SNES titles (excluding 3 which never saw an Advance release). The Japanese release included a lot of negative space, yet still left room for Amano’s character designs.
The cover used for the American and European releases however did away with that negative space and really zoomed in on the characters. Plus the large GBA banner on the left-hand side takes up much space.
Just as the case was with Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, this game has been released on many digital platforms that don’t really have box art. As I mentioned above, I prefer the box art for the Japanese PlayStation release. It’s different enough from the rest to stand out, and the cutesy design works well when displaying the many job classes.