Dear Developers-Linear Video Games ARE Still Fun

Aside from all the negative attention EA is receiving for their whole Star Wars Battlefront 2 mess, they have also recently been accused of shutting down Visceral Games and moving their Star Wars project to another company because of the linearity of the game. Whether this is true, I seriously doubt it, but they have been recently saying, among other developers, that one, people don’t like linear games as much, and two, consumers want to spend a very, very long time on each game.

I assure you, that I, and many people I know still love linear games. They are just as good as non-linear games, if not better. Admittedly, the world does seem to be so obsessed with “open world” styled games, but I personally don’t understand why. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like them, but to have every game be like that is just ridiculous.

There is something to be said for games that just have you follow a path or two and not have to worry about where to go next or getting lost and all the joys that come with massive games.

To say you don’t like linear games is like saying you don’t like platformers, which is entirely possible if you were born in the last 15 years or so and are one of those people who think because the game doesn’t look and play realistically, it is crap. But should developers really be catering to that audience? Definitely not. They have no idea what a game can be or should be, they are just a bunch of dumb kids and should not be considered gamers.

gow gpThe God of War games are linear and they are some of the best games on their respective consoles. But I bet the new one coming out is going to be open world…oh boy! But this is excusable since it is a reboot, but imagine if God of War 3 was suddenly open world? It would be stupid. Those games are just intense action and it is fun. Many linear games are just as fun. Open world games are much slower moving and you spend an awful lot of time just walking around and looking for stuff. That is why many of them are over 100 hours long.

You could have just as much content in a game with a more condensed world and beat it in 30 hours. So is really adding extra walking time that much better?

Final Fantasy 13 is a game that gets much hate, and I’m pretty sure it is because of the Thundara_FFXIIIlinearity of the game. Big deal. It’s still fun. Just because there is no overworld to explore while constantly getting attacked by enemies trying to find the next town or a cave to explore to look for an item doesn’t make it a bad game. The true core is still there, and that is simply being an RPG set in a fantasy world.

And believe it or not, games don’t need DLC. Put extra effort in development and just pull the plug when it is released. Games typically are better when there is no DLC coming out 3 weeks after the game is released. Some DLC is nice, but most of it is just overpriced garbage that we don’t need. If companies actually did it right and didn’t just use it as a way to make some extra cash, then it would be actually pretty cool. But we live in a greedy, crappy world, so that will never happen.

And a lot of games now focus so much on online play, and how much they can cram into that, leaving single player modes very empty feeling. During the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era, I feel like games had much more girth to them. You got to unlock all sorts of stuff, play through a lengthy campaign that wasn’t obnoxiously long and have a great time doing it.

Now it feels like you get a slimmed down game so the devs can put more effort into the multiplayer, then instead of unlocking things, you have to purchase it later so you can pay the devs to continue to support the online aspects of the game.

Trouble with that is the majority of the gaming world still prefers playing by themselves. People suck. We have to spend all day with people. When we play games, we want to be left alone in a fake world void of other humans.

And really, if you have ever played multiplayer games with people, then you know they are a gathering of the biggest idiots on the planet. 10 year olds fighting with 30 year olds, people swearing in place of using actually grammar… it’s a mess. The gaming community certainly is one of the darker stains on the world, that is for sure. So why continue to go a route that supports such vulgar crap? Give us some solid stuff to play by ourselves. We are the majority of the market after all!

And this, ironically, brings me to the next thing developers have been saying. They claim people want to spend hundreds of hours on a single game. Gone are the days where people play a game and then move on.

This is not the case, I assure. I have a back log of over 300 games, so trust me, I don’t want to spend more than a reasonable amount of time on a game. And I assume that goes for anyone but those “gamers” who do nothing but play online Call of Duty and other online shooters. But I am not saying spending a long time on a game is a bad thing either…for it is not.

But this subject amuses me. Didn’t I just say that I wish they gave us longer single player experiences? Yes, well more valuable experiences, not necessarily longer anyhow.

But anyway, these devs are trying to keep us playing games by constantly coming out with new DLC to play. Trouble is, it’s not free and 99% of it isn’t worth buying. And again, this is really only appealing to people who play nothing but the online aspects.

cod2Speaking of Call of Duty, those games were phenomenal back in the day, when they were nothing but a single player campaign and maybe local multiplayer or whatever. The newer games are still fun, but they don’t come close to what they used to be, because all the effort goes into the online multiplayer.

So why do your original, loyal fans get shafted in favor of these people who like to do nothing but spend countless hours playing against each other? Why can’t they instead make exclusive online shooters, which fortunately seems to be a growing phenomenon, so they don’t in fact screw us single players over.

Another thing devs seem to be so worried about is replay value. How is this an issue if you are not letting us ever stop playing the game!?!?!? So they keep on adding more stuff that we can use on another playthrough and this and that, which is nice, but again, it costs a whole lot more money to do this, especially considering all of this DLC would have been included in the game 12 years ago! This is a big reason linear games are so seemingly unpopular. It is the same thing each play through…

And bottom line is, you really don’t need all this extra fluff in a game to make someone replay it. It could be the most linear game ever, but if the gameplay is fun, I am going to replay it for the sake of just having fun. I don’t need to play it for 200 hours, with new stuff added every 20 of those hours. If the gameplay isn’t all that great, it is going to be a dull, miserable 200 hours. I would much rather play a 5 hour game that is a whole lot of fun 10 times over. And big deal if I don’t replay it immediately. If it is 5 or 10 years down the line, then that means the devs did something right.

Trouble is, they won’t make extra money on it in the months following the games release, which is the whole issue here, so to their company, they did not do something right.

I’m all about trying something new, but don’t let the things from the past that actually worked be forgotten.

 

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Final Fantasy II-Now That’s More Like It

I recently ranted about the original Final Fantasy. Now I just would like to take a few minutes to talk about Final Fantasy II.

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Oh my god…what an improvement. The game literally took everything I complained about with the first and fixed it. This is a game I can see people liking and spawning dozens of sequels from.

Not to mention, it added a whole lot of unique qualities not often seen in RPG’s such as every character being able to use any weapon or spell. The leveling system is different too, having to constantly use spells and attacks to upgrade magic and weapon skills, as well as your base stats. It’s the only game in recent memory that I was excited when I got hit by things, because that meant you were that much closer to increasing your defense and hit points.

The only gripe I have with this system is it takes way too long to level up some things. Hit points go up easy enough, but your magic points take forever, as well as spells and weapon skills. The max you can get any of these skills to is 16, but you won’t get anywhere near that. I completed the game with only one kind of high spell…Cure at level 10, and that’s because you have to use it all the time. My weapons skills were level 10 as well.

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The game doesn’t make you grind all that much, which is a wonderful thing. I really hate the games that make you grind for hours. This does it very balanced, until the last dungeon. My god is it hard. I was always strong enough to get through any dungeon without too much difficulty throughout the entire game, but then you get to hell or whatever and you find yourself very underpowered.

But the best part about that is you just fight some enemies there, they beat the hell out of you and you become stronger, so I was able to progress somewhat fast regardless, and by the time I made it to the last boss, none of the enemies gave me a hard time anymore. But if you want to get to the last boss, you better set aside a few free hours. I mean, holy crap!! You have to go through a tough and lengthy cave of hell and when you finally get through that, bruised and bleeding, you find yourself in an entire castle you have to climb now, nearly twice as big as the already lengthy cave. It takes forever to get to the boss! Fortunately it was my day off and I could sit there for a long time to beat it.

That is the problem with both these games. The points in between saves are wayyy to long. Throughout the week, I really only play for 20 minutes at a time. I constantly had to shut off the game in the middle of a dungeon, or just leave it on until I had time to complete it. It’s so annoying! And if you die, you are screwed. It’s ridiculous. You have to start all over again. Thank god for the inclusion of memo saves in Origins for PlayStation or I would never have the patience to play these games.

Overall, Final Fantasy is a piece of crap, but Final Fantasy II is great. Now I am on to Final Fantasy IV!

Final Fantasy-How Did This Game Spawn Countless Sequels?

I am here to rant about a game most people have heard of… Final Fantasy. That’s right, I’m talking about numero uno! The one that started it all back on the NES in 1990. For the time where there wasn’t much expectation and they were still trying to get the genre down, I suppose it was a pretty good game. But I am saying that very loosely. There shouldn’t have been any reason to ever make a sequel to this, much less at least 20 others, though sequel really isn’t the best word since most of them have nothing to do with the rest.

Anyway, before I start my rant, I just want to give you my history with Final Fantasy. The first one I ever played was when I was back in grade school, Final Fantasy 8 for PlayStation. It was a pretty sweet game, and though it’s been well over a decade since I’ve played it, I remember enjoying it. Only problem is once I was about to beat the first disc, the game froze and I could never get past it. What a piece of junk!

Then I got Final Fantasy 7 a little after that, and I enjoyed that too, though I had commitment issues as a child and never finished it. I played for a while, then stopped for a few years, then played again and stopped again and have never gone back to it.

Oh yeah, and I also played an emulated version of Final Fantasy 3 for SNES for about 20 minutes, but never went back to it for whatever reason.

Since that time, a billion other games have come out with the title “Final Fantasy” and the only one I ever got was Crystal Chronicles for Gamecube and actually played it quite a bit, though again, I never beat it. Came close though.

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Anywho, throughout my life I have watched these games spew out and watched people rave about them. I began to wonder if I was really missing out on one of the greatest series in gaming history. So naturally, I decided to get back into the games, but starting from the beginning. Soon after I made this decision, the PlayStation store was kind enough to hold a Final Fantasy sale, and I was able to pick up 1, 2, 4,5,6 and 9. I already have 7 and 8, so I didn’t bother rebuying them. Later I got 3 and 13 on Steam.

And by the way, if you are like me and are trying to figure out which games to buy, it is quite confusing. The original versions are all numbered in a non-sequential way, for most of them were never released outside of Japan. It wasn’t until recently that they rereleased them all and renamed them the numbers they actually are supposed to be. So the FF 3 I played briefly is now officially Final Fantasy 6. It’s a confusing mess and I was nervous I was going to buy the same game twice, just with different titles. It also doesn’t help that each game has been rereleased like three times. It’s a nightmare.

Anyway, I have now finally set out on my Final Fantasy adventure, and just like I wanted to, I started from the very beginning. Though I have the updated version from Final Fantasy Origins on PlayStation, so it scares me to think that the original version is even more inferior.

So finally, what are my gripes about the game? Where to begin? Let me start off by saying, it has the potential to be a good game, but there are so many unnecessary annoying things about it that completely ruin it for me.

Let’s start with something I experienced in the very first minute of the game that set the tone for one of the most annoying games ever.

I walked into the first town and many of the people just block your path. There are many tight paths that only one person can fit through, and there are just all these jerk faces standing in my way. I shouldn’t have to wait for these idiots to move before I can proceed! And sometimes they move and I start to go, and then they quick move with lightning speed to block your path again. What crap programming! And there is an item shop that always has some douche blocking the door. I deal with idiot people standing in my way enough in real life, I don’t need it in a game too!

And that is nothing compared to the last town in the game, Lufenia or something. The entire town is practically a one person-width town and it takes forever to push your way through, having to wait every second for someone to walk over to a spot where the road widens and then move out of they way! The spell shops are kind of hidden, and I missed them at first. It wasn’t until I looked it up that I knew how to get them. But it was no wonder I missed them, because they are far off to the side where you have to follow a one person wide path, but I missed it because some guy was always standing in it, and he was nowhere near a two-wide path. So it’s no wonder I missed them. I had to wait close to 5 minutes for his old scraggly ass to move. What the fudge!

There are even sometimes bats in caves and such that love to fly in your way, forcing you to walk around them. This wouldn’t be quite so bad, but every extra step you take is a huge risk of being caught in an enemy encounter, which brings me to my next complaint…

There are a relentless amount of enemy encounters. This is far from the only game with this issue, but I don’t care about those game right now.Rarely do I get to take more than five steps without getting into a fight. This drives me crazy! Especially when you are trying to explore a dungeon and get lost. You never have time to figure out where you are going because you are constantly being bombarded with enemies to ever remember where you have been and haven’t been yet. Like, it’s crazy. And most fights aren’t exactly easy either!ff-nin

So let’s talk about all the issues I have during fights. There are quite a few!

First off and most importantly are your characters. I picked the warrior, thief, white mage and black mage. Of these four only the warrior is good. The other three are entirely useless. And I mean USELESS! Seriously, you could not beat this game and even beat more than two enemy encounters without the warrior.

The warrior has high physical attack power and high defense. Throughout the game, he can kill almost anything in one hit and he also takes very little damage. He rarely ever misses his attacks too. He’s a real stand up fellow.

The other three are just a huge liability. They miss 8 out of 10 physical attacks, and do hardly any damage when they actually connect. The mages don’t have high armor value, so they take a ton of damage, thus they can die very quickly.

Now you might be thinking, “well mages are supposed to use magic,” which is all well and fine, but this game limits your magic to the extreme. Instead of having mana or MP or anything like that, they give you spell levels. Each mage can learn three spells per level, and each level has its own set of charges. So say my black mage knows fire, lightning and some debuff spell, each a level 2 spell. By the time you buy these spells, you probably have about three charges for this spell level, meaning you can only use any of these spells 3 times. And not three times each, mind you…if you use fire, your charge drops to 2, then if you use lightning, it drops to 1, etc.

So basically you have to save your spells for really tight situations. The higher your level, the more charges you can gain, but that’s useless. The most charges you can get is 9 for each spell level.But by the time you get a decent amount of charges, those spells have no relevance anymore, meaning they are all too weak against enemies now, so why would you ever use any of those spells? My point is, your useful spells will always be limited to 2-4 charges before you and the enemies outgrow their effectiveness.ff-char

So yeah, all the characters are just there to inconvenience you. The tempting route is to just let the useless ones die and let the warrior soak up all the experience. He hardly ever takes more than 2 damage, so he is just a killing machine. But you want your other party members to level, so you do all you can to keep them alive, which is more annoying than it needs to be.

Healing is so stupid in this game. My white mage has all sorts of healing spells, but again the charges are so limited they aren’t very helpful, and even when you do use them, they only heal like a fifth of your HP. Your main way of healing is potions. But here’s the kicker. The potions only heal like 15-30 hp, and when your party has 300-600 HP and each battle the useless ones stand to lose 50-150, you have to use an awful lot of potions. So you have to constantly spend around 3,000-5,000 gil (the currency) to restock potions. Having 99 at all times is a must, for it takes 10-15 potions to bring the HP up of a severely damaged character. And you can never buy any more potent potions either. It’s always those. No high potions or super potions or anything like that. What a bunch of crap!

And speaking of potions, you better stock up on a crap ton of antidotes too, because like all old rpg’s, this game loves poison. I would venture to say that at least 60% of the enemies in the game can poison you. And the only way to cure poison is with antidotes. It is so annoying. And what’s worse…antidotes cost much more than potions, though I only usually carry around 25 with me at all times, so buying as many is not required.

Going back to annoying things about battling is the turn order. It seems to be completely random, but I swear it works to your disadvantage all the time. If you are fighting a big group of enemies, (6-9) you will more than likely need to cast a spell to do a lot of damage to them quickly. But your caster will likely go last, so if he is the target by most of the enemies he will die, leaving you with a much longer battle. Or even if he doesn’t die, it’s annoying to watch all the enemies attack you while you wait for your most important attacks to go off. Not to mention you might kill an enemy or two, making you feel like you wasted your precious spell charge. The warrior and his one shot will almost always go last too.

What is annoying is I swear the enemies you target will attack before the ones you don’t. Most of the time, I will select my targets. The ones I selected will all “happen” to attack first. Then my party will go and kill the ones that just attacked. Then all the remaining enemies attack me. What the hell? Why can’t I ever get lucky and kill an enemy before it attacks! The game cheats in that way. And what’s more. When the enemies finish out a round, you think “Oh, good, my guys will go now and finish them off.” Nope. More often than not, the enemies will attack twice in a row, once at the end of the last round, and once in the beginning of the next round, just to sneak in that last attack before they die. What bull crap!

The damage you receive is random as all hell to. I know it is supposed to be, since its an rpg and all, but this takes it to a whole new level. Like I said, my warrior will generally take 2 damage, and my other guys about 30-60 in your average fight from one hit. You start to rely on that formula to know when you heal or not, but then eventually it just will throw you for a loop. My warrior will randomly take 50 damage and the others over 100! And that isn’t even when the enemies land critical hits either. It just randomly will devastate you with the same attack that barely hurt you last round.

Another annoying thing are “enemy first strikes” which means all of them will go in advance before you can even input your commands. This happens in many rpgs and that’s fine, but it happens wayyyyyyy t0o often. I would say once every five fights or so. And it seems like forever when a group of 9 enemies gets first strike. On more than once occasion, I ran into enemy first strikes three times in a row!

There are preemptive strikes where your party can attack in advance, but that only happens about once every 20 fights. Fair, right? And the best part is there are instant death traps that take advantage of the enemy first strikes. You will be walking along a dungeon and a random encounter will occur with enemy first strike. Then they will all use instant death moves and it’s game over. Just like that, there is nothing you can do about it. What is the point of that? It doesn’t add to the challenge and improve upon the game in anyway. It makes you just want to quit the game because it’s so cheap, pointless and just a waste of time! Thus with this always being a threat you have to “memo save” which is just a temporary save for you to restart at if you die, after every battle. How annoying is that?

And when a party member dies, the only way to revive them is to bring them to a town with a church and pay a butt load of gil to revive them. The white mage can eventually learn a revive spell, but if she’s the one who dies, you’re screwed. And you’ll want to save all the charges for the revive, so using any other spell on that level is out of the question.

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If you’re in a dungeon and the white mage dies, now you have to make your way out to get to a town, fighting enemies every five steps. You don’t have enough HP to fight everything and you want to get out as fast as possible, so you start running from every fight. This tactic will lead to all your party dying except the warrior, who is too slow to run from fights. So you will sit, having to solo fight every enemy that comes along, killing them one by one. This is really fun when fighting 9 enemies, just having to wait for 9 attacks, before killing one guy, then waiting for 8 attacks and so on. You just want to die so you can restart at your memo save, but it is just faster to fight and make your way back than to wait for something to kill you, for when you have 400 HP, and they take away 1-2, it takes a long time. But even if you do run, you end up dying like right in front of a town anyway. It’s really great.

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And what is really terrifying to think about is that I guarantee the memo save is a feature added to the PS version of the game, meaning the original is probably nearly impossible to beat unless you grind the fudge out of every dungeon and have an enormous amount of patience.

“UPDATE”

I learned that you can press L1, L2, R1, R2, Start and Select to reset the game in a way where you don’t lose your memo save. This improves things slightly. SLIGHTLY!!!

Eventually, my thief became somewhat useful, and by the end of the game, he is almost as good as the warrior, but the other two suck unless I need them to perform a spell. But as I said, you are so limited to how many times you can use them that you will do everything in your power not to use a spell. You get to upgrade your character classes, which other than making them all look cooler and allowing the thief to equip heavier armor, more or less does nothing at all.

But those are my beefs with this game so far. Thankfully, I have finally beaten it. Honestly, it is not the worst game out there, but boy is it annoying, and stupid, and bad. I can’t believe this trash is what spawned the biggest franchise in video game history.

Here’s to hoping the second one is a vast improvement. Though I am doing nothing but dreading it right now…

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SNES REMIX, Where Are You?

This blog is for Nintendo and anyone who owns their products, more specifically a 3DS and/or Wii U. If you own these systems, then chances are you have heard of and probably played the NES Remix titles, (2 for Wii U, 1 for 3DS). All are fabulous games, filled with nostalgia, challenge, fun and excitement. A player can relive his childhood or experience games from a generation they were too young to live through.

When I played through NES Remix, I felt all of these things with the games I was familiar, and even found a game or two I have not played before. After beating most of it I found that the game would be very easy if it weren’t for the god awful controls and handling all games back then seemed to possess. What’s worse, most of the challenges took advantage of the poor handling and forced you to overcome it to beat the challenges within the shortest amount of time possible. To me, this isn’t very fun, all it seemed to do was remind me of why I hated gaming back then and that gamers only suffered through it because it was new and the best thing available at the time. In other words, we didn’t know any better. We didn’t realize we were suffering. But I still remember playing Super Mario Bros at the ripe age of three or four and wishing the controls were better. And the worst part is, those are some of the best controls on the system (for the earlier games anyway). But the game was fun nonetheless, and I wanted more, so I powered on through.

Though after all the nostalgia wears off and the hours of gameplay rack up and you find yourself struggling through some challenges over and over again to get those three stars, you start to realize why you were glad to leave these old games behind when something new came along. That something being the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

I dreamed more of this game actually being in existence over focusing on what I was playing. The SNES has arguably one of the best libraries of games for any console to date, and showcased some of Nintendo’s finest ideas that helped shape the gaming industry as it is today. One of the things refined the most between each system was the controls. With some exceptions, the controls and handling for all the games were phenomenal, the 16 bit graphics were gorgeous on the system and again, great games.

Imagine games such as Super Mario World, Super MarioKart, Super Metroid, A Link To The Past, all crammed into one game filled with challenges and other new exciting surprises Nintendo would be sure to add. It would truly be a wonder to behold. Holding a copy of these game in my hands would make me truly feel like a kid again.

This game would be amazing enough with just Nintendo games, but what if they expanded to third party games as well. Bam! Super Castlevania, Illusion of Gaia (if only) Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 3 (6?)…heck pretty much any game off this system would be a welcome addition.

So come on Nintendo! Fulfill my dreams, as well as thousands, dare I say millions others who I am sure share this dream. I for one would be eternally grateful. Not that I am not already, for giving me wonderful memories from my childhood with the SNES, but now it would be nice to have all those memories reinvented and brought forth with new light and a modern day twist.