The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 10

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

It occurs to me, perhaps for the first time now, that my group has actually been in the same jobs for a while now.  This is not an inherently bad thing, but it does mean that said group is moving into the territory of job levels that are a bit harder to get than they’re worth.

One of the things that the game does handle nicely by way of balance is the way that magic is balanced as a class ability.  Once you swap to a casting class, you immediately have access to every level of magic you’ve learned for that caster.  Leveling the job teaches you an increasingly large array of magic usable on every other job, so a Black Mage can always use the best black magic you have, but you have to level the class to get access to that black magic on, say, Time Mage.  And since later levels require ever more investment, it’s to your advantage to stick it out for a while.

In my group’s case, though, it was time to mix things up a little.  Especially since Faris needed another level on her Mystic Knight for Drain Sword.

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Hard Project: Jurassic Park

Fun for people who like watching from the sidelines, less so for pop culture generators.

Let’s see how absurd this all looks in another ten years of research, because we still don’t know a fragment of what we like to pretend we know about dinosaurs.

The Jurassic Park franchise seems a lot like its main draw – it keeps dying out, then getting resurrected through increasingly flimsy means as an excuse every few years.  We’re getting another movie soon, and while the temptation to see it remains because I both love Chris Pratt and dinosaurs, I also know that there’s literally no movie that has been made or will ever be made that can actually live up to what was done with the first film.

Which itself was less of a great film and more of a long love letter to special effects with a fairly straightforward plot, but at least it inspired one of the best fan videos of all time.

But I have to say, the discordant screeching of that right there is how I feel when I fire up pretty much any video game based on the franchise.  Every single time.  I’m not saying that every single one of them is terrible, I’m saying that none of them really replicate what Jurassic Park is or was, and we might need to find a different way to get our dinosaur-shooting impulses out in video game form.  A different, non-Turok way, preferably.

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Demo Driver 8: Forward to the Sky

It's kind of weird.

Anime princesses apparently have a lot of expectations they have to manage, like, all the time.

I find myself for the first time in the weird position of being able to say that Forward to the Sky is probably my favorite of the vaguely anime brawler titles that I’ve played for this feature, which is not a phrase I expected to type more or less ever.  Not that I consider that to be high praise, though; it just means that the game manages to deliver its contents more effectively than others.

By the same token, it’s not dismissal, either.  Like so many before it, this game was and is a labor of love; the people who made it are self-described fans working to make a game that feels like an anime game, and to their credit they’ve succeeded at that.  The downside is that ironic as it sounds, a game all about climbing a tower winds up without a whole lot of verticality.  The demo itself feels like a demo for what’s coming next, because it’s a very thin experience; at the same time, it’s a product that clearly wants to be exactly what it is.

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Telling Stories: Importing tone

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.There are a lot of things that I like about IDW’s current run of Transformers comics, but one of the things I like the most is the sense of tone.  Scott, Roberts, and Barber all have their own voices when writing stories, but they also all do a great job of creating the feel of a unified setting, with characters all working in the same space seven as they don’t necessarily share the same goals.  It’s heady stuff, well worth importing into roleplaying.

Obviously, I can’t import it directly into roleplaying due to the sad lack of a Transformers MMO (thanks for that, Jagex), but I can bring in parts of the tone.  Which is one of those things that doesn’t really get discussed much when it comes to roleplaying, despite the fact that it really lies at the heart of most imports.  When you’re bringing a character from other media into a game you’re playing, you’re hoping to bring some of the story developments and energy that they have in their original appearance, trying to carry that tone along with them.

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Challenge Accepted: A closer look at Super Mario Bros.

Oh, the NES limitations.

Boy, Bowser has some posture issues, huh?

It’s impossible for me to properly state the impact that Super Mario Bros. had on me as a youngster.  I can’t say conclusively that it was the first game I ever played, although it might have been; I can conclusively say, however, that it’s the earliest thing that stuck in my memory.  It was a remarkably long time before I owned an NES, so I remember playing it constantly at the houses of friends, including a few friends who may have been less “friends” and more “other kids my age with an NES.”

The down side was a number of visits that did no favors to my ability to socialize with others as a youngster; the up side was that I can go back to the game as an adult and re-examine it to find that yes, the game is pretty damn brilliant.  It’s not an endless challenge like Tetris, but it does have a number of mechanical elements that make it a brilliant challenge, and chief among those is the one element of the game that no power-up can alter – the timer.

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