Final Fantasy IV: The After Years Gripes

I’ve already talked about Final Fantasy 1 & 2, so here I am with another installment as I trek through most of the series. Today I will be talking about the 3 part game known as Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for PSP, but more specifically, the third and final game, The After Years.

Final Fantasy IV is a pretty solid game, and really is quite good. I like 2 better, but I have no real complaints about the game. The second game, titled the Interlude, is just a quick 2-3 hour plot filler basically.

Then we come to After Years. It starts off with separate tales starring most of the cast from FFIV, their lengths ranging from 2-3 hours. Most of these are okay, if not a little monotonous. You basically just venture around, doing God knows what while trying to solve the same mystery in each tale. Because they are so short, you will get in monster fights every 3 steps to make sure you really get your fill of fighting. But this is all okay, except for Edward’s tale, the wuss of the game, who is stuck with even weaker soldiers to help fight you through his tale. This is the longest tale probably, and only because it takes forever to kill anything with this weak batch of people.

But anyway, the tales all end in one of two areas, combining all the cast into two separate groups. Once you beat all the tales, you unlock the final tale, (can’t remember what it is officially called). By the time you reach this tale, you are kind of burnt out and are thankful that only another 3 hour segment and the game will be completed.

Well…it was going into this game with that mentality that really made it annoying for me, for the final tale is not short. In fact it is around 20 hours long, which is how long it took me to beat the original game. So combined with all the tales, that’s around 40 hours, which is fine, but I felt tricked that it was so long.

That isn’t even the real issue though. I don’t mind long games at all, as long as the length is through reasonable approaches, like story progression or fun gameplay and the like. This is not the case with the After Years. They just made the game long because they could. There is nothing new and clever at all with this game. It is the same locales from IV, and features the same enemies and bosses.

In short, the game drags on and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. I could type that for hours and if you read it, then you might get a feel of how much the game drags. There isn’t even a well told story, so there is nothing interesting to keep you motivated to beat it. I was just beating it for the sake of beating it.

In the final tale, after doing all sorts of stuff, you go to a new moon and have to trek through a long 14 floors of some tower or something. It might even be longer. After you finally make it through that and you again think you are close to beating the game, you are treated to another 23 floors! Dear god…really?

And again, I stress that this wouldn’t be a problem if it was fun and interesting. It is just a monotonous, never ending adventure. And here is everything I recall that really make these some 37 or more floors even more annoying.

Back Attacks…

FFIV_PSP_Back_Attack.pngThis is when the monsters randomly sneak up behind you and get in first hits. This also means your characters set in the back row are now in the front and your front row characters are in the back. Characters in the back row are usually there because they have ranged attacks and low armor values. So these back attacks, if the monsters gang up on one of these characters, ensure a speedy death for them.

This wouldn’t be so annoying, except I swear 90% of the random encounters start with back attacks. In fact, they are so often, I eventually switched the rows of my characters so I wouldn’t have to waste time switching their rows mid battle. But guess what? When I did this, the back attacks stopped happening. I rarely got a back attack. So I switched the rows back to normal, and then the back attacks started to happen overly frequent again. WTF!?!?!?!?

In addition to the game being long and dragged out, so are the battles. Even some regular enemies take forever to kill, these battles lasting close to 5 minutes sometimes. And mind you, when you get a random encounter every 1-3 steps, it becomes so tedious and time consuming. That is when the impatience and rage really starts to build. Floor by floor you go, fighting and fighting, unable to escape the relentless attacks. Oh my God, it is annoying!!

And you know what is even longer? The boss battles. Some of these take 10-15 minutes. It is just a marathon of how long you can keep your guys alive while slowly whittling down their health. And to do the most damage, you would use the most powerful spells and attacks, right? But guess what, that is incredibly time consuming as well. The more powerful the attack, the longer the animation is for the attack. Some attacks have an animation of over 10 seconds long. While they look impressive, it just adds to the length of the game horrendously. And just think, you have 5 characters, and sometimes the enemy can have just as much. If everyone involved uses some big attack, that’s like 2 minutes just for one round!

So in short, you get too many random encounters, that take too long to kill using attacks that have animations that are too long, to go through a tower that is too long, to fight a boss that is too long. And when you kill that boss, it takes like 15 seconds for the thing to explode or dissolve away. If this was a good game, you would take satisfaction away from killing it, reveling in it’s elongated destruction. But no… you are so impatient and angry at this point that each extra and unnecessary, tedious second is like someone twisting a knife in your gut.

And let me tell you how many bosses there are in those 40ish floors. Around 30, if not more. All you do in that big long tower or whatever it is is fight bosses. Over and over again. You fight nearly every boss from Final Fantasy 1-6 I’m pretty sure. I’m not even sure if there are any new bosses mixed in there. And to make matters worse, the random encounters become tougher and longer with each floor too! They eventually become all bosses themselves!

Oh yeah, and every time you kill a boss, you have to painstakingly listen to what each of your five characters individually think about that fight. I’m assuming they are thinking to themselves, because they all have nothing to do with each other. It’s like one says, “That was an interesting fight,” then another will say, “That creature had dark powers,” then another says, “It smells like death in here,” then another says “I need new socks.” Who cares? Just shut up and let me take 3 steps so I can fight another monster! This happens after EVERY BOSS!!!

While killing all the demons in hell and traversing through the tower, there are rest points. These usually spawn an entirely unnecessary story sequence which usually consists of two characters talking at night about more or less nothing. The scenes are so boring, so uninformative and so long, that it just all dumps onto the raging impatience of just wanting the putrid game to end. And there are probably about 20 of these scenes too.

And when you FINALLY get to the last boss and beat him, which takes about 30 seconds for him to explode, you think you beat the game right? Nope. Now you have to run from the place you are in, all the while getting in constant encounters with the still dying boss. This part just happens to annoy you further. It dangles the end of the game in front of you, while doing everything that annoyed you for the last 40 hours all at once.

And then when it is finally all over, you are treated to an incredibly long and boring ending. By this time you are so fed up with the game that you just want to see the final screen, save your game and never look at it again. But this never seems to happen, because my god, the ending is so long. The only thing more boring and longer that I can think of are the ending credits to any Assassin’s Creed game.

FF4 is a great game. But stay away from the After Years, because all it will do is shave a few years off your life.

Advertisements

My Top 10 3DS Games

I enjoy looking at top 10 lists, especially when they involve video games and such. It got me wondering what my top “whatever” are, so here I am, looking into my top 10 favorite Nintendo 3DS games. By my count, I have 61 3DS games, but of those 61, I have only played 45 of them, the rest are on my backlog. So of those 45 games, let’s see what my 10 favorite are.

#10

new super mario bros 2New Super Mario Bros 2

 Nintendo

2012

 

This game took an interesting take on the New Super Mario Bros series, the focus being on collecting tons upon tons of coins, even including a few new power ups and items to help you. On top of that, it is a really great platformer that far surpasses the first New Super Mario Bros game for DS.

#9

mario and luigi dream teamMario & Luigi: Dream Team

Alphadream Corporation/Nintendo

2013

The fourth game in the unique RPG series is just as hilarious, creative and bizarre as the others. Mario has to jump into Luigi’s dreams to rescue some pillow people, and in the real world, the bros have their own mission to complete. The battle system is as fun as ever, with some really cool and creative attacks, especially in the dream world. A great game for the 3DS library.

#8

mario kart 7

Mario Kart 7

Retro Studios/Nintendo

2011

 

The first numbered game in the Mario Kart series is also the first game to incorporate gliding and underwater driving, two nice additions. Tons of new and old tracks, carts, characters and other customization options make this the first handheld Mario Kart game that feels like a home console game.

#7

PaperMarioStickerStar3DSBoxartFinalPaper Mario: Sticker Star

Intelligent Systems/Nintendo

2012

 

The first handheld Paper Mario game takes the series back to it’s roots, sort of, well actually not. It’s back to turn based action in any case. It now has a world map like Super Mario World, no doubt to cater to the quick, on the go play style of handheld games. To attack, you must collect stickers of all shapes and sizes, learning to balance the small, weak ones with the huge, powerful ones, for only so many can fit in your sticker book. You get more pages as the game progresses though. This makes for a lot of fun, and some of the stickers are very creative and entertaining. The only negative thing I can think of is this is one of those games that you never know where the heck you are going, and some of the puzzles are near impossible to figure out.

The 3D visuals for this style of graphics is remarkable as well. Paper Mario is a game that should never be played without 3D. Unfortunately this will likely be the only game to ever be graced with such wonders.

#6

yoshi_new_islandYoshi’s New Island

Arzest/Nintendo

2014

 

Am I living in the 90’s again? This game feels and plays exactly like Yoshi’s Island for SNES. And that…is a wonderful, wonderful thing. There is some new additions to the gameplay, differentiating it, but keeping the core mechanics the same. It is truly a great sequel to a masterpiece. The only thing bad about it is the name.

#5

project x zone.jpgProject X Zone

Banpresto/Namco Bandai Games

2013

 

All your favorite Sega, Capcom, and Namco-Bandai characters coming together to save the world (or worlds)? And with a side of countless scantily clad women and big bouncing boobs? How could you ever go wrong? Combine those exciting elements with  great grid based RPG gameplay and you can’t at all. This game is fantastic in nearly every way. It also provides around 50 hours of gameplay, so prepare to immerse yourself in something amazing!

#4

link-between-worlds

The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Nintendo

2013

I was surprised how good this game was. It is a sequel to the beloved Link to the Past, and does everything that game did right and added it’s own unique twists as well, such as the ability to traverse the dungeons in any order and turning into some painting figure. The game is a complete masterpiece, just like its predecessor.

#3

ocarina_3d_finalThe Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D

Grezzo/Nintendo

2011

 

What do you get when you take one of the best games of all time and update it? Well, an updated version of one of the best games of all time, plus it’s now in the palm of your hand! With improved controls via the touchscreen and gyro sensors, along with updated visuals and other changes, Ocarina of Time has never looked or played so well.

#2

kingdom hearts 3dKingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Square Enix

2012

 

This game plays just like all the other great Kingdom Hearts games, but this time you get to switch between Sora and Riku while they each progress through their own separate campaigns. The game features tons of new worlds, enemies and allies, and a new fighting mechanic known as flow motion. And story wise, this game is one of the best in the series, mainly because it finally answers all the questions that you might have had from all the other games and finalizes everything out and leaves only one unopened door. That door being the long awaited Kingdom Hearts 3. Everything else has been settled and the game ends with setting the scene for the third and most likely final game in this specific story arc.

#1

smash 3dsSuper Smash Bros for 3DS

Bandai Namco Games/Nintendo

2014

 

The fourth entry in the series proves to be the best, thanks to its huge and diverse roster of characters and stages. It is also a wonderful thing to have Smash in your pocket for whenever you wish to play it.

There are a ton of collectibles and trophies. The newest idea, and probably the worst, is the inclusion of somewhat different special moves for every original character, which is nice if that was something you were hoping to mess around with. The trouble is they are so tedious to collect. You will likely get the same ones 10 times over before getting one you don’t have. Aside from that, it’s the Smash Bros gameplay we all know and love. And to me, it’s all about the fighting, so the more characters and stages, the better the games. Who cares about all that single player fuzz? Though there is certainly a ton of it if that’s your thing.

This is the first Smash Bros game to include DLC as well. There are multiple characters and stages available, and countless Mii costumes, so the fun never stops.

There you have it, my favorite games in the 3Ds library, with Smash Bros being my favorite. Thanks for reading!

 

Image result for 3ds monster hunter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nintendo Switch-First Impressions

So this past Friday was a pretty relevant day. In case you haven’t heard, Nintendo’s newest console, the home/portable hybrid called Switch was released. Today, I just want to talk about the system itself. What I like and dislike, etc. And I must say, while it is exciting for any company to come out with a new system, it is a whole lot more exciting when it happens to be a Nintendo console, strictly because they offer something different, new and exciting. It gives gamers a chance to experience something they really haven’t before. It isn’t all about graphics. It’s about the experience, about the gameplay. I seem to be in the minority when I say, I buy video games to play them, not look at them.

Any who, let’s get back to talking about the Nintendo Switch.

To start off, I was amazed how small it is. Even though I knew how small it was from videos and such, I was still completely shocked, for it is much smaller in person than you would expect. The whole console is a screen slightly bigger than the screen of the Wii U Gamepad. I’ve actually seen some of the ridiculously large cell phones come close to the size of it. Once you slip on the Joy Con controllers, that adds like 2 inches (if that) to each side. That is your entire console. By far and away the smallest home console ever made. Placing it in the dock, which connects it to your TV, only fattens it up by another inch or two. So the whole console is roughly 9 inches long with the controllers connected, four inches high, and about 2 inches wide. Those are some nice dimensions.

It is welcome news for someone like me, who has an entertainment stand a bit on the small side. I’ve already got a Ps2, PS3, PS4, SNES, N64, 2 Wii’s, Wii U and a DVD Player hooked up to the TV and I’ve more or less run out of space to put anything else in there. The small size of the Switch couldn’t have come at a better time. I can easily fit it anywhere. It makes me pray that every console in the future should downsize. While the Switch isn’t the most powerful machine out there, it is mighty impressive how small they made it nonetheless. Microsoft and Sony should follow suit, downsizing the technology before throwing out these clunky machines, only to resell them smaller years later. But those slimmed down versions are monstrous compared to Switch.

Now I just talked about how small the console itself is, but what really is shocking is how small the controller is. And I’m talking about when you slide the Joy Cons on the controller dock to play it like a normal controller. It is this tiny little guy! It took a bit to get used to using it, because the buttons are closer together than normal. But after a minute or so, you get comfortable with it. Even playing with one tiny Joy Con becomes comfortable after a short while.

While there are many ways to play the Switch, my personal favorite is having the console docked to play on the TV and just holding each Joy Con in each hand, without the controller dock. It gives you a satisfying feeling of freedom. Imagine it is like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, but without the wire tethering them together. You are not restricted to one space like you are using any other controller in the world either. You can rest your arms anywhere, have each hand in different positions and still play normally. This is especially welcome, since I have two cats that love to sit all over me when I play games, thus forcing me to move my controller to an awkward position to play around the cats, or having to adjust them so I can still play. Now, thanks to the freedom of the Joy Cons, I can have my arms where ever I want, and the cats can lay however or where ever they want.

And you know what else is small? The game cartridges. The cases are tiny, smaller even than a PSP game, or thinner, but taller than a 3Ds game case. And the actual cartridge is about half the size of a 3DS cartridge!

Now I haven’t had too much time to play around with the Switch, but I will talk about what I’ve noticed once the system is on.

Firstly, just connecting it was a problem because the included HDMI cord is too small. It’s about maybe three feet long, but when you have to weave the thing all over the place, it ended up being a few inches short.

So what’s it like when you turn it on? Right off, I don’t like how they set up the app selection in the main menu of the console. It is now like the PS4 or 3DS where everything is just lined up in one long line. I know in the 3DS you can change this to have multiple apps appear on screen in 4×4 blocks or more. I don’t know if you can do it on PS4 or not, but it’s really annoying to have to scroll through 20 different things to find an app or game you haven’t used in a while. I loved the method the Wii U and Wii used. There was like 16 apps or so on the screen. One button scrolled to the next page, where 16 more things would show up. I have a lot of digital games on my Wii U, and they are all confined to 3 or 4 pages. That’s close to 100 apps you can choose from in no time. With the Switch, it looks like you would have to scroll through each one, one by one until you find what you are looking for. I despise doing it in PS4, and I will here. You may be able to change this though, I haven’t looked into it yet.

Another thing that bothered me is there is no music in the main menu or on the eShop. The eShop itself is rather pitiful. You only have the option of buying 9 games, but hey it’s brand new, so I expect both the menu and especially the eShop to drastically improve once more games and updates come out.

Now speaking of games, how did the Switch do with launch titles? Well, I’ve got to say, it’s terrible. Zelda is the best launch title you could hope for, but other than that, there is nothing particularly a must have. There isn’t really anything at all. 1,2 Switch looks pretty cool, but the other games aren’t really my cup of tea, so whatever. What makes it worse, is Zelda isn’t even actually a true Switch title. It’s just a more advanced version of a Wii U game that was supposed to release almost 2 years ago! What were they doing this whole time? We’ve been hearing about the code name NX for like four years! They couldn’t make some good games for it by launch?

Lack of launch games don’t really bother me though. Games will come and when they do, I’ll get them. I don’t need to have everything right out of the gate, but it’s important to most people, so I thought I’d mention it.

But speaking of launch titles, this whole argument you can find between gamers on the internet with the importance of launch titles really cracks me up. Most anywhere, you will find someone say “I won’t waste $300 on a console with no games. I’ll wait until they come out with more before I buy it.” Or they’ll say things like this… especially pertaining to Wii U, “there aren’t enough games to justify buying the console.”

This argument really makes no sense. I understand what they mean, but it honestly translates to “I can’t waste $300 because it doesn’t come accompanied with 5-10 $60 games I can buy alongside it.” The other example with Wii U translates to “I don’t have money to waste on the console because there isn’t enough money for me to spend on it after I buy it to justify it.”

What sense does that make? If you aren’t going to jump into the console immediately, then yes, it is smarter to wait for a good bundle or price drops in games, but if the argument is you don’t want to waste money, that is just stupid. If you know you are going to buy it eventually and there are games you want, then you might as well get it. But to each his own. I don’t really care what people do, but don’t bash a console for stupid, nonsensical reasons.

Well, I’m getting off topic here. That is everything I have noticed with the short time I’ve used the Switch. It can only get better from here! If you are one of the people who want tons of games, then I would suggest waiting. If you don’t care, then pick one up, you won’t be sorry.

But remember, the more support for a console, especially early on, the more likely more games and support from developers there will be!

Image result for nintendo switch

Artists Whose Talents Greatly Increased Between Albums, Part 4

Phew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. You can check out part 1, 2 and 3 listed here if you’re curious. Now let’s see what other great talents need to be recognized.

common-courtesy-55bd3186960d9.jpg

“Common Courtesy” (2013) by A Day To Remember

Genre: Metal, Hardcore, Pop Punk, Screamo, Progressive

A Day To Remember have always been okay to me, with the exception of one of their albums. They had a rocky start for sure, struggling to find a consistent, flowing sound. But their incredibly catchy clean vocals always made them fun and easy to listen to. It wasn’t until this album came out that they really showed what they could do. This is the album that everyone was waiting for, using the perfect blend of hardcore and pop punk that they have been searching for for years. Every song is creative, unique, emotional and just awesome. The music is the best they’ve ever done and there isn’t one dull moment on the album. After fans had to be kept waiting for years due to a legal battle with Victory Records, we weren’t left disappointed. For an album debuting their own, brand new record label, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

still_searching

“Still Searching” (2007) by Senses Fail

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Punk/Pop

I can still remember the first time I listened to this album, and I still get amazed every time I hear a song off or it 10 years later. Their debut album was a decent, enjoyable album, nothing too special, but good. And I loved it anyway. Then Senses Fail took us by surprise with Still Searching. It was like listening to a completely new and redefined band, yet still having their original central sound mixed in there. Every song is nothing short of amazing. The worst song to me is “Can’t Be Saved” and that is like one of their biggest singles. So take that into consideration to figure out how good the rest of the songs are. The album isn’t over done. It’s straight and simple, with catchy music with nice hardcore and metal riffs blended in…in short, it’s post-hardcore at it’s finest. They aren’t the most talented band out there, but they do the best they could, and the effect was something most bands can ever only hope to achieve.

And while we are talking about Senses Fail, let’s take it further. When Still Searching came out, I was actually kind of sad. I knew nothing could top it. They would only decline from there. The album was just too perfect. But no, Senses Fail proved me wrong.

 Image result for senses fail life is not a waiting room“Life Is Not A Waiting Room” (2008) by Senses Fail

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Punk/Pop

Not even two years after one masterpiece, they release another. I loved this album before I even opened up the case. I mean, look at that awesome cover. I was excited right from there. I went into this album wondering how far it would fall short from it’s predecessor, but was pleased to find out that it took it one step beyond. It was basically the same exact style of song writing and performance, just only done better. Their talents all improved and this album shows it. The lyrics and vocals are so emotional and personal, and fit and blend so well with the music. I could listen to this album every day. Life Is Not A Waiting Room and Still Searching are easily in my top 5 favorite albums. Sadly, the decline I so feared happened after this album. They are now so bad I won’t ever likely buy another album from them again.

Image result for as i lay dying an ocean between us“An Ocean Between Us” (2007) by As I Lay Dying

Genre: Metalcore

As I Lay Dying’s first album was decent for a debut. Their second was worse, using so much uninspired, typical stock metal for music. It wasn’t until their third that they showed the world what they could do.

An Ocean Between Us can only be described as perfect. It starts off with a nice clean instrumental that builds into harmonizing, distorted guitars. This 1 minute long instrumental sets the tone for the whole album. It just builds up and gets better and better. Right after the intro song, it immediately jumps into track 2, and right away you notice an energy and ability the band has never come close to showing before. The guitars, the drums, heck, even the screams are all vastly improved. Each song is intense, never slowing down, just melting your face with some of the best metal riffs and break downs you will ever hear.

The band has come together to perfect a sound we could only dream of. They even threw in a lot more clean vocals that fit in perfect to the high energy mash of metal. It’s just a perfect, wonderful, wonderful album. And they didn’t slow down after this, either. They released two more albums with just as much high, non stop energy and amazing musicianship. All three albums are something that every metal fan needs to here.

 Image result“Recovery” (2010) by Eminem

Genre: Rap/Hip Hop

I am not exactly a fan of rap, but Eminem has always blown me away. His unique take on the genre has enticed me to follow him ever since he exploded onto the scene in the late 90’s. His first three major release albums are nothing short of incredible. He is a truly gifted writer and presents his lyrics in humorous, clever, unmatched ways. Whether he is yelling like a maniac or doing something more personal and serious, you can’t help but be drawn in by it. His fourth and fifth albums were not as good, but still had some memorable songs.

But I didn’t truly start to see just how gifted he is until Recovery. This album was a few steps up from anything he’s ever done before. Everything about it seemed more mature. He wasn’t talking about drugs and killing people, Kim and his mom all the time anymore. It was more down to earth and personal. He’s still got some goofy songs, but they are all so good. He also brings in a lot of guest vocalists to enhance his choruses. Even his beats were infinitely better, mostly consisting of real instruments and actual song structure instead of just the typical 2 measures of a computer created beat repeated over and over for 5 minutes. The way he uses this music and reacts and emotes his voice to match it makes everything that much more interesting. Sometimes I almost forget I am listening to a rap album, instead hearing a band with a fast talking vocalist, which is probably why someone like me who is not a particular fan of rap loves this so much.

This album set the tone for the new Eminem, and he has done nothing but get better and better ever since.