Monday, May 14, 2012
Monday Musings - 14th May, 2012
So lacking the access to consoles i decided this was an opportune time to go a little more retro, seeing there are so many classic RPGs on the super nintendo that i have wanted to play. I acquired a copy of Earthbound and was ready to start that up again when my new roommate Pierce caught wind of what i was doing. "You have to play Terranigma", he said. He was rather insistent on this matter. I'd heard about the game (and i seem to be one of the few people i know that enjoyed Quintet's other Snes RPG 'Illusion of Gaia') so i said, "why the hell not?" and loaded it up.
You start underground with the world destroyed. You open Pandora's box and unleash further devastation. Then you are tasked with fixing things, first by raising the continents, then by repopulating the Earth with plants, birds, mammals, and finally humans. Once humans are raised, you're tasked with helping them with their problems, and it's in Europe in the town of Loire i find myself at this moment, with a tyrannical king and his mute daughter.
It's quite impressive the scope they tried to convey with what is really a rather straightforward action RPG. You have a dash, a jump, an attack, and a shield. With button combinations you have about five different moves of varying success (dash/jump/attack being a favourite). And holy moly, the difference that levelling can make. When trying to resurrect the mammals in Africa, i came across a boss that i was doing no damage to (and he was destroying me). I finally resigned myself to grind a couple levels, and it's insane the difference that made. The boss went down like a hot spoon through chocolate pudding. Grinding is pretty damn time consuming though, and even though it's worth it (and the whole level up sound effect makes you feel pretty good), i still dislike the practise. Really i just hate filler in my videogames and grinding is most definitely filler.
Oh and the menu screen is inside Pandora's Box. You press select and jump inside with your legs flailing. You access weapons, armour, items, and spells by travelling to different rooms inside the box... well your weird pink bat sidekick Yomi does. It's a unique touch that helps the game to stand out from what was becoming a thick glut of Jrpgs at the time i imagine.
The place i moved has consoles because two of my housemates work at videogame retailers. I was given the go ahead to play some stuff so i thought to start with i'd play what's meant to be a quick indie title i should have played years ago. That of course is Limbo. Now at the time of this writing, i'm not finished with the game yet. I dunno how close i am to the end. It seems everytime i think i'm getting near, the game keeps extending itself. What is this, Tron 2.0 (obscure joke)? To tell the truth, where i am at the moment, i'm not sure i'm having fun anymore, but i'm under the influence of what i'll call stubborn gamer syndrome. Since i know it's not that long a game, and i've been steadily making progress, even though most of the new puzzles are exercises in frustration, i persevere and eventually overcome.
The puzzles are damn clever though. Especially since the world gets more and more hostile the further you go into it. What started out as evil kids and creepy spiders turns to gravity and physics puzzles with ever present saw blades, deadly drops, and a recent addition being sensor driven machine guns. It also helps that the game is gorgeous, especially with such a simple colour palette.
This game also teaches us that trial and error gameplay is not bad game design if you have the frequent checkpoints to back it up and ease gamer frustration. Players should be mad at their inability to solve a problem, not having to traverse previously charted territory to get back to their trouble spot. Kind of similar to what i said about grinding up the page, replaying entire areas is gaming filler. I have grown despondent of gaming filler.
I'd like to take the opportunity this week to give a shoutout to a blog i discovered and have started devouring the archives of today. Killias2, a blogger and commenter over at Destructoid posted about some gaming blogs that people might enjoy and the one that i've latched onto it 'The Adventure Gamer'. Written by 'The Trickster', this bold gamer is playing through the entire run of PC graphical adventure games starting at the very beginning. Not only is he blogging and rating the games, but he's doing it all sans walkthough. He's definitely got some fortitude, but for those who like the adventure game genre (*raises hand*), he provides some good insight into his playing habits and the trails and tribulations associated with the early genre (like puzzles that make no damn sense).
And as these things go, the games you're the most familiar with and the ones that test your sanity make for the most entertaining reads (such as his time with 'Uninvited').
The blog can be found here - http://advgamer.blogspot.com/
I look forward to catching up, and then being able to follow along the discussion.
Till next week, happy gaming all!