Ys I Chronicles Plus

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I never played Ys when it was first released on the Master System in 1987. Hell, I didn’t hear about it until it was re-released on Steam as Ys I & II Chronicles Plus. I pretty much instantly threw it on my wishlist (surprising because I’m not the biggest JRPG fan) but didn’t actually pick it up until a friend tried it out. He wove an  interesting tale about a unique combat mechanic, a system whereby you just walk into things and automatically trade attacks. You can, however, go at an angle or slightly off center and not take damage and that’s where the skill and timing come in. It was an interesting enough premise that I picked it up on the next Steam sale and promptly threw it into my backlog never to be seen again.

Then the #backlog_slog challenge came along. I started going through my Steam backlog from #-Z and didn’t even get to A before I reversed the sort order for no apparent reason and found Ys I Chronicles Plus staring me in the face. Alright, I said, let’s give this little RPG a go and see how it treats us. Yes, I talk about myself in the third person, but only to myself so it’s not weird or anything.

In 1987 the beginning of Ys may have been more unique, I really can’t say. Now days it’s one of the most cliche Japanese RPG openings around. You awaken in a bed with a motherly figure looking over you. That bed is located in a small, peaceful village that happens to be surrounded by horrible nightmare monsters and guess whose going to solve that?

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this guy, that’s who.

That said, I actually felt lost and frustrated in Ys at first. I went all over that starting town and talked to everyone I could find. I never found any armor or weapons or anyone asking me to leave the village. Finally I decided to brave the wild wilderness with nothing but my pants and my fists. My first attempt was to kill everything on the way and see if I got any loot but that just led to many retreats back to the village to lick my wounds. So of course I just ran past the enemies and finally made my way to the first major city to buy myself a sword. Finally, the slaughter I left in my wake would be filled with less of my blood and giblets.

Once I got into the swing of things though I really enjoyed the game. With the barest hint of a story that also means you aren’t stuck talking to hundreds of NPCs, Ys is a hack and slash action RPG at its finest. It doesn’t have the longevity that Diablo’s random equipment drops gives, but Ys doesn’t demand the same amount of dedication. I played through the entire game in 6 hours and I enjoyed almost every moment of it.

If I had one complaint though it would be that the final area, the Darm Tower, felt like a total slog. At first I wasn’t aware that each level had exactly two doors and that one went down and one went up. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to figure that out actually. The tower also had two different teleporting mazes that really drug on, and when I finally got to the top I had to go back down several floors to talk to an NPC who could only help me after I had gotten past him and done something else.

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This guy is the worst. That’s a Dark Fact.

OK, so there is another complaint I have with the game. The final boss is entirely bullshit. He flies around the map shooting fireballs at you and those fireballs then stop where you were and explode into a bunch of tiny fireballs. On top of this, every time you hit the boss the floor underneath him disappears and you lose even more maneuverability. Ideally I’d like to consider my options and figure out when and where I should hit the boss so that I have enough floor to stand on up until the end, but if you try that you’ll die to the fireballs. You have to hit the boss pretty much anytime you can, and after fifteen tries I finally won. It felt random and like it had nothing to do with anything I’d learned throughout the game. Yay. Oh and his name is Dark Fact, so clearly they put a lot of thought into that…

 

Backlog Slog Challenge

Image showing steam account value and average play time

My Steam backlog has gotten out of hand, partially thanks to all of the great Steam sales over the years. I think we’re all familiar with the problem by now, you see an old game you’ve heard great things about on sale for $0.49 or $2 for the entire four game series and think “Yeah, it’d be stupid not to buy right now”. Well, I’ve been doing that since around 2008 and I’ve racked up an insane backlog. I’ve used steamdb.info’s calculator for most of this information and it’s a great way to feel really bad about your life decisions.

Lookin at my account I’ve got a total value of $3,433 but that doesn’t really matter much to me. What matters is that I’ve got 736 games owned and 408 games I’ve not played even once. That’s unacceptable so this series of posts is going to be about me slowly working through my entire Steam library. The rules are simple, I don’t have to beat a game I just have to play it for at least an hour. That is enough time for me to determine if it’s something I want to continue playing or if it’s something I never want to touch again. If I like it, I’ll aim to finish it.

That’s it. Well, that and the fact that I’m going to use the category/tag ‘backlog_slog’ with all related posts. So if you want to follow along on my adventures then just use that tag and away we go. What’s your backlog looking like? Feeling guilty about it yet? Let me know in the comments down below.

Let’s Play Death Rally

Let’s Play Death Rally

Well, this is the first video I’ve done for a long while now. I’ve been working with Twinstiq.com but I haven’t done anything with them for about a year now due to some major life changes. I’m actually unsure if I’m going to be able to make many of these videos over the next few months, but I’ve been really itching to get back into making content again!

Anyway, enjoy this Let’s Play of Death Rally, the newer one from Remedy Entertainment Ltd.

Continue reading “Let’s Play Death Rally”

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Thoughts

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Thoughts

I’m currently playing through Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the PC and working on my review, but I thought I’d give just a couple of thoughts here. First of all the web swinging is a lot of fun. It’s much improved since the Amazing Spider-Man 1, and now you actually need something for the webs to latch onto, and you can control which web shooter to fire a web from and which direction, left or right, to fire that web. This leads to a lot more control when swinging around New York City. Not as much as Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, but in some ways I find it more fun, especially with the use of Web Rush. That said, there are some serious problems with the game.

First of all I think we can all agree that the most enjoyable part of most Spider-Man games is web swinging around New York City. Hell, I know I’m not the only one that’s loaded up Spider-Man 2 for the PS2 and just swung around for a while helping random citizens. Sadly it seems like developers are actively out to prevent that fun. What do I mean? In nearly every Spider-Man game with an open world to swing around in there are “Stages” of some plot or outbreak or whatever that slowly make it more and more tedious to swing around. In Amazing Spider-Man 2 there is a task force that is out to get criminals, and that includes Spider-Man. At first it’s fine, you keep up on your side missions to keep your hero/menace meter up and you can swing around to your hearts content, for the most part. Then you hit the second, and finally the third stage. Each stage adds more gun toting idiots and flying robots to New York, and the final stage adds barriers to block off streets when you are swinging down them. Spider-Slayer like machines are called in, there are flying machine guns, turrets, snipers, it just becomes a chore to swing around. This means that one of the most unique and fun aspects of the game is actively being hamstrung by the developers. Who chooses to do that?

The second major problem, and this feeds into the first problem, is the way they have handled the side missions and the hero/menace system. In theory it sounds great, just like in the comics J. Jonah Jameson is always trying to frame Spider-Man as a criminal, so Spidey swing between being a hero when he’s just done something good for the city, to being a menace when it’s been a while or something looks fishy. I like it. Sadly the way they have handled it is by timing all of the side missions. From the time a mission pops up you have so long to complete that mission, or it will auto fail and you will go more toward the menace side. Unless you do NOTHING but side mission after side mission you cannot help but let some fail. After a while they start showing up more, which means more are failing. And since there are only really four side missions, and each one has one to three different versions, you’re going to get bored very quickly and start skipping them whenever you can. What I ended up doing by the end is waiting until my meter was at neutral, then doing two missions to get it back up before ignoring it until it got to neutral again.

So the missions get repetitive, so what? Just swing down, beat up a few bad guys and swing out right? No. Because they decided to make every single side mission begin with a cutscene and end with a cutscene. This means you swing down, stop doing anything and wait, beat up two bad guys breaking into a building, wait, then you are free to continue what you were doing. It completely breaks the flow of the game and after you’ve seen the same opening and closing scene dozens of times you may loathe the idea of even doing another one.

I will be giving my full thoughts and a review of the game in a video in the coming week, but I thought I’d share these thoughts with anyone thinking about picking up the game. There is a lot to like here, and there are a lot of improvements over the first game. Sadly, there are a lot of steps back as well and not everyone is going to have the patience to put up with them.

Just been enjoying this blog’s write up of his Bloodbowl team. It’s got me thinking I might load up my own copy and do the same.

Playing it wrong

Taxederm

Taxederm and sons (all deceased) are Undead investment bankers, in looking to improve the synergistism, leadership/teamwork and out of the box thinking of their staff by undertaking team building exercises. Blood bowl was chosen at random out of a live humans stomach, most were disappointed it wasn’t “Producivity simulations” (gathering human infants to be devoured by the ghouls and leaving their skeletons to develop scale models for small scale simulations of market dynamics), but reactions soon changed when ‘C.E.O John Dowling’ (deceased) suggested that this could be used to forward their other interest, a strong portfolio in funeral and medical services.

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