Thursday, June 18, 2015

Six Short Lists About Video Games

Since this is my 995th post I’m filling these entries with countdowns as we head to 1000, therefore....

RPGs, board games, and video games; that covers everything doesn't it? Maybe wargames and miniature games? But the former I don't have the patience or interest for and the latter I mostly gave up on years ago. Like most people (I think) I want a very different experience from my video game vs. tabletop rpgs. Mostly I covet total abnegation and a lack of serious challenge. I can't aim fast, don't have youthful cat-like reflexes, and lose track of my units/comrades on the map. And while I admire challenging and serious indie video games that evoke serious topics and choices...that's a nope. Sorry. I'll get that at the tabletop. Instead I'll be mindlessly scouring the map for loot.

Lists are relatively presented from lowest to highest...

JRPGS
My favorite game genre, so it gets a little more detail. Linear, repetitive combat filled, and often radically stereotypical. 
  1. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth: We carefully played through each of this PS game's three endings. Then we worked our way through the Seraphic Gate mega-dungeon at the end. An amazing story with great twists, and a system for choosing and sending off your NPCs to serve the All-Father that torments you. I still hate this villain with a burning passion. The only downside to the game: f*cking jumping puzzles. The sequel on the PS2 is great, but not awesome. It loses some of the compelling mechanics from the original.
  2. Persona 4: This is a seriously tough choice. I’ve played deeply into most of the Persona games. I worked through Persona 3 twice, and I love the characters in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. But the story, characters, and mechanics in P4 add up to something unique and compelling. I’m looking forward to a second play-through with the Vita version's additional content.
  3. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne: Pretty brilliant and replayable. Has a few vertiginous moments and a metric ton of wtf. Great combat and striking art style. Just edges out Digital Devil Saga.
  4. Rune Factory Frontier: A dungeon-crawler farming sim. We really need an Agricola reskin based on this. I don’t know why I like this game to this degree; it’s slow and tedious at times, but I really enjoy the setting and characters. I didn’t care for the DS iterations and the sequel, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, is terrible.
  5. Final Fantasy Tactics: The FF game I’ve sunk the most hours into, replaying it twice. I suffered with the original terrible translation and then the more recent “actually makes sense” version. I love how you craft stories in your head for the random troopers. The DS sequels aren’t nearly as compelling. Other FF’s I like: FF XII, FF XII/XIII-2, FFXI, FFVI.
  6. ChronoCross: Made me cry at the end. Lovely world design, great characters, moving story. Tried ChronoTrigger after, but it didn’t grab me.
(Honorable Unrelated Mentions: Suikoden II, Xenoblade Chronicles, Star Ocean III, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia II, Wild Arms III, Shadow Hearts: Covenant)


General RPGs
  1. Might and Magic VI: Simply the best and worst at the same time. Great gameplay supporting dynamite world exploration. Looks like ass today. I also enjoyed MM VII and VIII a ton, but VI ate hundreds of hours of my life.
  2. City of Heroes: My favorite MMO and I’ve tried a bunch. The most fun for soloing- just flying around and checking things out. If this came out again, I’d pay full retail just to have a few hours in it. Other MMO’s I enjoyed: EQ and FFXI, but only Secret World has offered a cool but buggy single-player experience.
  3. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords: Mindless, terrific fun. Repetition and a dangling carrot. Not really a puzzle though…
  4. Halls of the Dead: Faery Tale Adventure II: An old PC game which has you running three brothers. Oddly striking visuals for the time. Has a catastrophic bug that kills the game in the later half.
  5. Jade Empire: Decent and fun, and on easy I could actually manage it. I’d like to see more of these non-Medieval/classic fantasy rpgs. And more wuxia is always good.
  6. Deus Ex: Yes, you could call it a shooter, but it felt more like an rpg when I played. I loved tailoring my character to stealth, hacking, fighting. Eventually I got to a spot where my build and the game events didn’t mesh. If I’d been more skilled, perhaps I could have made it past this. A runner up- and one that also stopped me I the late game- System Shock II.
Non-RPG Console Games
  1. SSX Tricky/SSX 3: I can’t decide between these two. Tricky has amazing, amazing, amazing level designs. I know all of them by heart. SSX 3 loses some of the insanity but adds coherency and sharper controls. The more recent sequel disappointed me hugely. It had some great stuff, but also some terrible play gimmick modes (the skysuits).
  2. Rock Band: I love singing and I’m terrible at it. Sometimes I’ll hand over the mic, but the whole time I’m thinking about the songs I’m going to sing when I get it back.
  3. Mario Golf: I don’t like golf and I’m not a big Mario fan. But I’ve played this on the Gameboy, Gamecube, and 3DS and love, love it. Mario Kart rocks but this edges it out.
  4. Blur: Contemporary racing game with power-ups and weapons. Well-designed courses, great challenges, and reasonable online play. Super fun and often overlooked.
  5. Katamari Damacy: A game made of equal parts crystallized joy and frustration.
  6. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: I had a controller which you could set to autofire. Level 99 Sword Familiar rocks.
Non-RPG Computer Games
  1. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: Don’t go. The Drones need you. For further comment, see this post.
  2. EuroTruck Simulator 2: I think this wins for stupidest game I love. On the plus side, I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I play.
  3. Starfleet Command: Soooooo buggy, but when it actually worked it felt awesome. It implemented the interesting bits from Star Fleet Battles. I loved the energy allocation systems and adored being playing as Lyrans.
  4. Half Life: The only FPS I’ve actually gotten close to the end with. Made it to the final sequence before the game destroyed me.
  5. Europa Universalis: Set it on easy and slowly repaint the world in your color. Keep the clock at a reasonable speed and you can guarantee you’ll never actually finish a campaign.
  6. Peggle: Some people suggest there’s a strategy to these games. There isn’t.
Six Games Many People Love That I Don’t Dig
Listed without comment. I’m not going to even try to defend my reactions here.
  1. Fallout (any)
  2. Elder Scrolls (any)
  3. Half Life 2
  4. World of Warcraft
  5. Baldur’s Gate and like games
  6. Vampire: Bloodlines
Six Games I Wish I Had the Coordination/Skill/Patience to Play
  1. Shadow of the Colossus: Hey, I can’t even beat the training monster.
  2. Thief: By the time I get the arrow aimed, my arm is tired.
  3. Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army: Where’s my turn-based combat you bastards?
  4. Resonance of Fate: I…I…have no idea what’s actually occurring on screen.
  5. Red Dead Redemption: F*ck you, Lasso.
  6. Eternal Darkness: Gah, what? Huh? What am I supposed to do?
Six Games I’m Going to Seriously Play Next
  1. Divinity: Original Sin: Tried the first half-hour the other night with Sherri…seems pretty awesome.
  2. Suikoden V: I’ve been working my way through these, having missed I & II before. Replaying Suikoden III has not been a great experience; I recall it more fondly than it deserves. I won’t replay IV because it starts and ends badly. OOH I got a ways into Suikoden V and I need to restart it. I liked where the story was going.
  3. Shin Megami Tensei IV: I’ve heard this is super tough and unforgiving, so I’ve held off playing it. Also, Sherri monopolizes the 3DS.
  4. Persona IV: Golden: Like the Suikoden series I’ve been replaying or finishing the earlier Persona games. But I’m impatient. I’m going to move this forward.
  5. Train Fever: I know this was on sale, but why exactly did I buy this?
  6. Rock Band in preparation for Rock Band 4: Previously purchased songs and instruments are compatible with the new game. That’s how you support a franchise. 
AGREE? DISAGREE? YOUR PICKS?

See also...
The Worst GMs from Video Games
Video Games as Tabletop RPGs
Emulation & Beyond: More Thoughts on RPGs & Video Games