The Trouble with Tactics

As I’m sure you can tell by my previous articles, I love RPGs and strategy games. It should follow, then, that I love the Strategy RPG genre. Just like peanut butter and pizza. Although I like some SRPGs, I have some issues with the genre, particularly the Tactical subgenre. By “Tactical”, I mean finer-scale games where you manage each individual taking part in battles.

For example, I started up Shining Force a couple months ago via the wonders of Virtual Console. I began noticing occasional oddities; enemies with low agility would move twice when my high-agility archers never got a move in, for example (Hans was useless anyways). Levels would either be quite useful or really suck.

You can’t tell from this picture, but the priest and thief are horribly under-leveled.
 →  OutRun 2006: Post to Post

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.1.08

New game from Parappa masterminds
Well this sounds promising. A new Wii game from the creator and lead artist of Parappa the Rapper. What’s this, Majesco is publishing it? That’ll be ok, a good idea doesn’t need 10 million dollars to work. Err, it’s a marching band simulator? That… sounds cool. I mean, I’ve always despised parades and anyone who likes them and walking around while playing music makes as much sense as reading while performing ballet, but… Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind?

90% of American DS owners pirate games
This comes from the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association and is wrong. It is so wrong it makes normally unbelievable things believable. If you told me the butter on my bagel was not actually butter right after telling me that 90% of DS owners pirate games, I wouldn’t think twice. →  Nobody puts article in a corner.

PS1 games you may have missed: The RPGs

As you all may be aware, Sony is finally picking up the software side of backwards compatibility for its shiny new system.

Since the PS3 doesn’t have any good RPGs or strategy games of its own yet, I would like to take this opportunity to recommend a few rare games that may actually be compatible with the PS3 by now.

I won’t lie; some of these games are inordinately expensive by used-game standards. But even the most expensive doesn’t cost twice as much as a new PS3 game.

My intent with this is to show you all that the PSX was, in some ways, an incredible system; it may not have had the sturdy character of the N64, but even though I am fascinated with obscurity, I hadn’t heard of several of these games a few years ago – well after the PS2 had taken over. →  Tony Hawk's Posting Ground

Der Langrisser: Finally translated

Lester shows Cherie what’s for.

When you hear “Langrisser”, you probably think of nothing at all unless you pay attention to Japanese-language games. Thanks to a small, talented, and dedicated group of translators, that is about to change. A group led by Derrick Sobodash has completely translated the Super Famicom game “Der Langrisser” into English.

First off: Der Langrisser is actually a remake of Langrisser 2. Why should we care? If you ever tried a little-known Strategy RPG for Genesis by the name of Warsong, you have played the first game in the Langrisser series.

Warsong is a tour de force of strategy, and could have been the start of a trend toward larger-scale SRPG battles. Unfortunately, Career Soft was the only company who maintained the trend with their Langrisser games, ending with the fifth entry (for Saturn and PSX). →  Ba da bam ba baa I’m readin’ it.

Playing catch up: Super Mario World

I was a Sega kid. This means different things to different people — I was deluded, I had bad taste, or maybe I loved action games? Yes, somewhat and no. Sega’s consoles gave me plenty of great games to play growing up, and I don’t regret knowing the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series as well as other gamers know the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

What I do regret is how little I know about the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series. Everything in life costs something, even if only time, and playing so many Sega games necessarily meant I had little opportunity for Nintendo games.

Here is a partial, embarrassing list of titles I missed that I still hope to play:

Any Final Fantasy before 6
Any Dragon Quest before 7 and after 1
Link to the Past
Chrono Trigger
Metroid
Super Metroid
Ocarina of Time
Super Mario World

Before yesterday, I had never played Super Mario World. →  Four out of five dentists recommend reading more.

Retrospectives – Suikoden series, part 2

Continued from part 1

Suikoden 2
Suikoden 2 takes place a few years after the events of Suikoden 1. It is not only the rarest and most expensive Suikoden (sometimes reaching the $100 mark) but is also usually considered the best of the series. I have to agree – it improves nearly all aspects of the first game, develops a more interesting plot and has nicer artwork.

First off, the second entry builds much upon the success of the first plot-wise. The game takes place in an area to the North of the first one, three years after the revolution in the Scarlet Moon Empire. This is the continent of the rival countries of Jowston and Highland.

The young prince of Highland, Luca Blight, is both ambitious and bloodthirsty. He chooses the main character’s army brigade as a sacrifice for the cause of war, and though the main character and his friend Jowy manage to survive, they are still swept into the ensuing conflict between the two countries. →  Jesus: Readful Bio Monster

Is Wii screwed?

Amidst all the recent articles on how the Wii is creating gamers out of grandmas and still out of stock around the nation, there are murmurs of doubt. Few people doubt the control scheme; it works well and is a lot of fun. But it remains unclear if Nintendo will be able to satisfy either their hardcore fans or their new casual gamer audience. Detractors are already labeling the Wii a repeat of the Gamecube; a platform for Nintendo games but little else.

As expected, the Wii will have a solid lineup of first party games:

Animal Crossing
Battalion Wars 2*
Big Brain Academy
Disaster: Day of Crisis*
DK Bongo Blast*
Fire Emblem
Mario Kart (not officially announced)
Mario Party 8
Mario Strikers Charged*
Metroid Prime 3*
Kirby
Pokemon Battle Revolution
Project HAMMER
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Paper Mario
Super Smash Brother Brawl

* Published but not developed by Nintendo

This move looks unfair.

 →  Europa Universalis IV: Articles of War

The cost of gaming (or not gaming)

This New Year’s, I’ll be in London. My vacation promises to be sweet, but something struck me earlier today. Does it count as regicide if the royal family is merely allowed to keep their castle for show? If you accidentally run down the Queen whilst driving the wrong way (which would be her fault in the first place for allowing people to drive on the left side of the street) does it count as vehicular regicide?

Also, if I didn’t go to England, I could afford a PS3. You must be saying, “What are you, a fucking idiot? The point of life is to experience new things, see new places, run over queens. It’ll do you good to get out of your bedroom and will give your forearm muscles some time to heal.” →  Imagine all the gamers playing for today

Yet another peculiar top 10 list

Slightly (extremely) bitter about not having my stories picked up by the big sites, I scour Slashdot, Kotaku, etc for sub par stories that gets attention on a daily basis. Today’s highlight is a top 10 list (where’d they get the idea for this one?) on the “10 lamest game consoles, ever.” Ignore the fiery rage that builds within you when you see misplaced commas and other grammar atrocities. For now, focus on the gross injustice of including the Saturn amongst the Virtual Boy, CDi, 32X and N-Gage.

The guy who proclaimed Prince of Persia: Warrior Within one of the worst games of all time clearly had some input in forming this list. Please name for me the classics for the consoles on this list:

Action Max
N Gage
32X
Gizmondo

In turn, I will name amazing Saturn games: Guardian Heroes, NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon, Panzer Dragoon Zwei, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Shining Force 3, Dragon Force, and Bomberman. →  Sonic the Readhog

Review – Disgaea

As I’ve grown older I have become more acutely aware that compromises are ubiquitous in game design. I once raised common questions like, “Why don’t they make this game longer,” “Why isn’t this game more open ended,” and “Why isn’t there more dialog in this game?”

A longer game time may dilute the story and make gameplay tedious. An open ended game is less focused and loses narrative potency, and more dialog can slow down fast paced gameplay. I now realize that for every obvious improvement, there is at least a small case to be made for keeping a design choice unchanged.

If you look closely, you’ll notice some soldiers measuring their height relative to their enemies and others looking through their item packs for healing herbs.

When I was younger I longed for complexity in games. →  Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Bore me and I sleep.

How we remember games

Our long-term opinion of a game may have little to do with how good a game actually is. How we remember games is almost as important as the games themselves. The way we remember any medium greatly shades our opinions, whether it be a game, a book or a movie. Games, unfortunately, share certain properties of the other two media that make each prone to being colored by memory.

First, I will explain what about books and movies are different from video games in regards to how we remember them. Books are highly personal experiences; no one can walk by and share some of a book with you. All of the action, drama, character’s introspection and so on happens in your mind and in your imagination. In this regard, they are different from both movies and games. →  Beyond Read & Evil

I demand the following Virtual Console games

Nintendo has announced that 24 publishers will be supporting their Wii Virtual Console. I have taken the initiative of compiling a list of the most of the publishers I recognized (at least one of their names was entirely in Japanese) and then decided on one specific game I hope each makes available. Enjoy.

KonamiCastlevania X: Rondo of Blood: The PC Engine only pinnacle of the series, or so they say, goes for a shitload of money these days.

Atlus — Some old Shin Megami Tensei games would really be appreciated. I’ve wanted to get into the series for a long time but the number of games I’ve missed make me feel a little overwhelmed.

MasayaLangriser…2 through 5 sounds good.

CapcomSweet Home: The sort of prequel to the Resident Evil series that never made it out of Japan. →  These are the games I know, I know. These are the games I know.

Where to sell your classic games

Today while looking for a deal to trade in my old DS for a new pink one (it matches my nail polish) I came across the tremendous SellVideoGames.com. The site is run by BRE Software and is an amazing deal for anyone interested in trading in their old classics. And by amazing, I mean they are taking advantage of anyone stupid enough to take them seriously.

Looking through their trade in prices for Saturn games left me speechless. $6 for Bomberman when on eBay you could get five times that price. $7.10 for Dragon Force instead of around $50 on eBay and $8.20 for Guardian Heroes instead of about $60 on eBay. Surprisingly, Suikoden 2 nets you $48.11 from BRE Software. This is a tad shy of the over $100 eBay would yield, but I expected worse. →  All this can be yours, if the read is right.

Left in Japan: The SNES edition

So many games never made it to our shores. Every once in a while, the sheer amount of gaming joy we missed out on is enough to choke me up. I’ve compiled a list of some of the more important ones and given a personal account of why it should’ve made it, what we missed out on, or other random crap. All of them are RPGs of some form or another and since today’s theme is untranslated SNES games, well, they’re all SNES games. Wait, shouldn’t that be Super Famicom then?

Zylo, is that you?

FEDA Emblem of Justice
I actually have the remake of this game for the Saturn. Unfortunately, it’s still in Japanese. It plays like Shining Force or Fire Emblem but with the ability to side with good or evil and recruit different characters based on your alliance. →  Read Read Revolution: Disney Channel Edition

Best Game Ever – Suikoden

Growing up I always played games, but only recently would I have ever thought of myself as a “gamer.” I had a Nintendo for several years, then a Genesis, but until Playstation (and High School) I played mostly NBA Jam, and whatever the rest of the kids from school/the neighborhood were playing. This included a lot of games I would now scorn, such as games licensed from movies. I always noticed Genesis games on the shelves that looked as though they might be interesting due to the dragons and medieval knights on the covers, but I was apparently unable to take the plunge at the time.

He’s a goner.

Come high school, I met a bunch of people different from myself (basically I hadn’t met anyone not Irish- or Italian-Catholic) who did different things (other than play baseball and basketball). →  [post launches in virtual reality]

The greatest video game mascot hands down in the history of the universe

Who is the best video game mascot? Mario some would answer, but they’d be stupid and wrong. Mario is overweight, and obesity is a large problem in America. If you enjoy Mario’s plump antics, you obviously don’t enjoy America or freedom.

Sonic is another obvious choice, but he is bright blue and for children. Have you ever seen his cartoon show? Not the over serious ABC piece of crap, but the one with terrible drawings and life lessons at the end of each episode. While it’s respectable that his ultimate goal is to beat up a fat guy, he saves too many animals and cares too much about the planet on his journey. Sonic is a good choice for a six year old vegan, but not men like us.

Lara Croft is another popular pick. →  Games are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.