Friday, July 4, 2014

Geek Recap: Q2 2014

After skipping the recap for the previous quarter of year, here I am again to chronicle my geeky activities from April to June 2014.


Artix Games In my previous post I noted how the quest for the Blinding Light of Destiny in Adventure Quest Worlds could be tedious and time consuming. Well, what I recently discovered it's that the farming of Undead Essences was actually only the tip of the iceberg. It will take really an absurd amount of time, patience and dedication to complete it, but that's not what really bothers me (considering that I will put it on hiatus and get back to it once in a while). My real issue with it is that defeating all the monster required to finally forge the weapon will certainly get me to the game's level cap much, much before I complete it. The problem is that once I'll get there, I won't be invested in playing the game anymore, and for that reason I will assemble the Blinding Blade of Destiny (which is actually a requirement to forge the ultimate weapon) and wait until the level cap will be raised to resume the farming... assuming that it will even happen, obviously.
The classic Adventure Quest, on the other hand, made me a little upset when I had a very hard time defeating some bosses in the latest releases, until I remembered that the answer to that was simply to equip the freaking basic armor to have higher defense stats and win the fight. Putting that aside, it's still a great game and the only other little issue I have with it is that there are at least three different story arcs going on and it's not really  that easy to follow of all them, considering that two of them (the Truphma and the Transmorphers saga) are quite complex on their own.

Tanoth Online A very simple browser game based on the same concept of Bitefight, Tanoth Online is something I care about only because it demands very little time and effort to be enjoyed. The progression is slow but constant, there is no overarching plot or ultra-complex quest to pick up with. You can literally play it everyday, stop for a year and then go back to it and start right where you left. It might sound stupid for "true" gamers, but it's a winner for those who want something easy and simple that won't take you away months of your life.

Shining In The Darkness This name has been in the back of my mind since I started playing video games many years ago, being the beginning of the Shining games series. Now that I'm approximately at one third of the game itself, I'm thankful to whatever higher being (the God of Gamers ?) that I didn't have the chance to play it back then. Shining In The Darkness combines the disorienting mechanism of a first-person dungeon crawler like Eye of the Beholder and the random encounter system of the old Final Fantasy games. Translated in a just slightly more comprehensible language, it means you have to expect turn-based battles to pop up at every step you make... and I can guarantee you that in some case, this occurrence is literal. Thankfully, today is possible to play that game in your emulator (or, just as I'm doing thanks to a Google Plus post by Cody and Jon from Unqualified Gamers, right in your browser) with features like the instant save and gif maps right from Gamefaqs (on this matter, I wish to thank Paul Keating for the great work he did there). Now, if you think that this game it's a piece of cake with these helps, this is not really the case. Even with this "arrangements", Shining In The Darkness will still be a though, unnerving and time-consuming game. If anything, I will keep up playing it (and hopefully beat it) even just to marvel at how cool is to be and old-time retro-game player in this modern age, not to mention the "documentation" purpose of such feat.


Jojo Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders When Jojo Bizarre Adventures first two story arc anime transpositions finished airing some months ago, I made a "Last Impression" article on Japanator (that you can check right here), and there is very little I can do here other than reiterate the very same concepts. My biggest praise on the transposition of Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency was about how David Productions was committed to reproduce as faithfully as possible the original manga on the screen, and the only minor (and completely irrelevant) observation I could do was that the character design was just slightly different from the original. Well, this time around  even such minor remark would be totally out place: Stardust Crusaders visual style, design, and basically everything is absolutely identical to the manga. I like to think that such precision was impossible without a genuine love for this classic shonen from the anime staff, and it's safe to say that nobody could pull off such an astounding representation as David Productions, to which all true Jojo-fans of the world owe some debt of gratitude.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra Book 3 After the resolution of Book 2 (which I won't spoil here), it was difficult for me to believe that the authors could bring something to the table that could keep the viewers interested in the story, and that's where a show like Avatar sets its difference from your average Dragon Ball Z arc, where the only way to keep the story going is to replace the previous big bad with a new, more powerful big bad. Sheer power it's not the point in a show like Avatar: there are many ways to villainous characters to pose a threat to the world. And i can't avoid to mention the very two characters whose return made me rejoice (SPOILERS AHEAD). Call me nuts, but Desna and (especially) his sister Eska are the true characters who steal the show to me. Just a couple of lines with another certain "old acquaintance" of Avatar fans make the first three episodes worth watching... as if they weren't awesome already one their own.

What's next: Shine On, Crazy Backlog

The whole point of playing Shining In The Darkness is to complete the so-called "Shining Trilogy", which means that the games that will follow will be Shining Force 1 and 2.
Needless to say, I will keep up with Tanoth Online, Adventure Quest and Adventure Quest Worlds as long as I'll have an Internet connection and a bit of time to spare.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

AQW Rants: The Essence of Farming

All good things must come to an end, they say. Fortunately, this also happens to bad things (and games), too. I was dangerously near to a well-deserved quit rage, but after watching a couple of videos and tweaking my clearly under-leveled party, I managed to defeat the final boss in Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (watch my previous blog entry if you're curious to know what I think about the whole game). After a rather unfortunate tentative to play the classic dungeon crawler Shining In The Darkness I had to abandon that because of... technical issues.

And that leads to the topic of this journal rant: the magnificent, seemingly unending and incredibly entertaining  (*sarcasm*) quest for the Blinding Light of Destiny in Adventure Quest Worlds. Now, this particular quest involves gathering a massive amount (we're talking about thousands) of specific drops known as Undead Essences and Undead Energies in order to forge a super-cool weapon that gives the name to the quest itself. The craziest thing it's that I'm not actually interested in the weapon itself (which I'll keep anyway, of course) but the achievement and satisfaction that will hopefully come when I'll finish all that insane farming.

                                              "Spirit Orbs x5" ? Better luck next time....

The quest will take entire days of slaughtering the very same undead enemies in the very same area (that's was farming in every MMORPG means, after all). I'm pretty sure that I won't complete the whole thing in the near future, but at least I'll use this few weeks to give it a good run. My true objective will be trying to collect all those drops and getting to the level cap (which is currently 60) as late as possible. Why, you ask ? Because the idea of not having a level progression as you defeat your enemies anymore is very detrimental to me in enjoying a game like this. For this reason, I will avoid using those X2 Experience Boosts bonuses that those nice guys from Artix Entertainment keep throwing at me every now and then.

After all, one must put some of those Youtube "Epic Music" Playlists at use... right ? ;)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gaming Recap: Q4 2013

Here I am with another episode of my recaps, this time around focusing only of my gaming experience in the last three months. Without further ado, here I go.

Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll
Can an ending ruin a game with an engaging gameplay, and a couple of clever ideas ? After playing this game from Tecmo Koei, my answer can only be "Yes, it can". Trinity it's a very brilliant mix of beat'em up a la Devil May Cry and a dungeon crawler. The gameplay is consistent and funny at the same time, and while the RPG aspect isn't exactly mind-blowing, it manages to get the player keep searching for another chest to open or completing another side-quest to obtain a new, shiny item.
Unfortunately, I happened to casually (not joking here, really) learn about the ending as I was halfway through, and my expectations and excitement went down in a single, devastating blow. I don't want to spoil anything to the player, but I feel the necessity to give a warning: this game's ending manages to deny the player its well-deserved glory and satisfaction in a most unexpected way. The final resolution wouldn't have been so bad if we were talking about a half an hour long horror indie game, but after 30 or more hours of monster bashing, exploration and level grinding, it really looks like a joke where nobody is supposed to laugh. I guess that for many others who played it all and went through it like I did, the conclusion was tragic and emotional in some measure. To me, it was a complete disappointment.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1&2
What can be worse than a big disappointment ? A consecutive, even bigger disappointment. I had great expectations from these games, as they are considered a "must play" for PS2 in the JRPG department. I admit that the fault is partially mine: I had no idea about what I was getting into. And let me assure you, I can't help but consider DDS nothing but a glorious mess, a beautiful disaster that every casual (and even not so casual, in my humble opinion) player should stay away as far as possible.
DDS is not just a very difficult game, it's frustration in its purest form - and it's really a shame. Because these games (which is actually one game "conveniently" divided in two parts) have great characters, a compelling story-line and an outstanding cell-shading presentation. Unfortunately, they both take together all the things I learned to hate about JRPGs and mix them together to form a deadly cocktail that sapped my will to play them bit by bit.  
As I write, I am stuck inside the final dungeon grinding to get the level and the skill needed to beat the final bosses. The only reason that kept me play the second one so far (I quit the first one halfway through, and I don't regret that every single bit) it's a mix of "gamer's pride" (which I had to swallow in a good measure, considering that I have been using a walkthrough almost step by step for the sake of my mental sanity) and pure, unadulterated masochism.

Artix games
Fortunately, Adventure Quest and Adventure Quest Worlds never disappoint. Both of these games required a decent amount of time and patience, but they've been always worth it. December was a bit lacking with events in both games (you know, game developers get some holidays too), but this gave me the chance to try out some new free to play browser games, which I'm going to list in the section below.

Other F2P games
Out of curiosity (and to take a break from the horrors of DDS) I've tried several games to select a few to get back later. Hero Town, Blade of Eternity, Tynon, Doomforge, and Outwar are games that I went into but decided to drop (some for an indefinite time, some others forever). Those who caught my interest are Tanoth Online, Moonstone RPG and Glory of Gods - all games which just require a daily login and don't need an excessive commitment to be enjoyed.

What could be next
Shining in the Darkness
Way of the Samurai