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…

 

Guild Wars 2 PVP is bringing out the RAGE


I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 this weekend, and for the most part I’ve been having a blast. This is only the second beta weekend event that I have been a part of, and it’s the first weekend that I’ve tried PVP. I only touched on the World vs. World stuff for about an hour, and the rest of my PVP time was spent in the Scenario style matches. There are some things I love, and there are definitely some things I hate, so let’s get right into it:

Things I love:
There are no factions in the game. You pick a server you want to fight on (think Team Fortress 2, where you see the map and the number of people on it) and then join. It’ll place you on either the red or blue team, keeping the teams as balanced as possible. You’ll be dressed entirely in red or blue, making it very easy to tell friend from foe, but you will be able to customize your gear in PVP, just not the color.

If someone drops out, or one team ends up with 4 people while the other team has six, the game with auto-balance the teams, giving everyone the opportunity to volunteer to be moved to the other team, and if no one volunteers someone gets voluntold. That means you should never have the problem of one side winning due to having twice as many players as the other side.

When you go to the scenario PVP grounds everyone is put on an equal footing. You are given level 80 pvp gear, all of your abilities and access to any weapons/weapon abilities that your class can use. This means the PVP is always fair, and has nothing to do with one person having less skill but far superior gear. That is amazing, and I hope that they keep it. My worry is that, as there are PVP “levels” independent of the PVE level of your character, you might be able to unlock/buy better gear. If that is the case, well that sucks, but I don’t think it is.

Things I hate:
The complexity. This is only a complaint for now, because we all know the more time you put into the game, the more the complexity is going to be a boon. The problem is that when you have spent a total of one hour on your character and you jump into PVP with a level 80 character, you ARE going to be overwhelmed. Not only by all the options your class has, but by the options the other classes have as well. It’s very much a trial by fire, and I was furious with my lack of understanding/ability pretty much the entire time.

No team skill-balancing. If you get on a server, you can stay there. That means when one match/map ends, it’ll proceed to the next one. Just like Team Fortress 2. This is great when the teams are balanced skill-wise, but when you just got stomped 100-500 and they destroyed your base and killed your leader (an optional thing in these matches, very hard to do and it doesn’t happen often), the game does nothing to balance the teams. This means that you could theoretically have 10 matches in a row where you get stomped 100-500, making for a VERY aggravating time. Now, you can and SHOULD drop the match after two or three games, in order to give it time and see if they just got lucky that first game. Still, going three games where you are getting farmed with nothing to say about it can drive you insane, and I had to take breaks when I felt the rage welling up.

Lack of variety. There are at least four maps I’ve played in, but each of them was a capture and hold style game. You capture one of three to five points, then hold it to increase your teams score. There was no capture the flag, no attack/defend maps, just the capture and hold. That’s not terrible, as the maps are really pretty and seem balanced as far as each sides starting areas, but after hundreds of hours of PVP it could get pretty stale.

That’s it for now, I’ll be posting my Sylvari character creation video sometime today, and a PVP video sometime after that where yo will get to see me get destroyed pretty badly as my Ranger. For now, I’m going to take a nice bath and play some carebear PVE to keep my heart from exploding and sending bile-rage through my veins. Thanks for reading.