Monday, January 5, 2015

Geeky Recap 2014: Road To Disappointment

WARNING:  The following post contains a very high amount of negativity. In the article the author will complain about popular TV shows, overly highly praised classic old-school console games and many other stuff that you probably consider some of the things that made your life worth living for. If you plan to complain about the things the author complains about you're obviously allowed to do so, but just be aware that doing so will give the author the chance to complain about the things you complain that the author complained about. So, before doing we suggest to ask yourself the most obvious question: is it really worth it ? Oh, it's also worth mentioning that this article will also contain *MASSIVE SPOILERS*, so please proceed with caution... or don't proceed at all. 

For me, 2014 was a year filled with great expectations about many things in different media. Unfortunately, most of these expectations had been crushed, and it's with a bitter taste in my mouth that I have to write down this article. But whether if I like it or not, it's time to get to business.


Adventure Quest Worlds: The 13 Lords of Chaos Saga finale Now, let me put me this down fair and square: the release itself was truly amazing. The revelations of the Hero's true nature and origins, followed by a multiple stage battle against Drakath that went on for a couple of weekly releases gave me some moments of pure exaltation. The problem is that the conclusion of the 13 Lords of Chaos Saga simply leads to the beginning of a whole new saga, Ancient Evils. While this new story arc looks very interesting, it's quite disappointing that after so much time and effort spent to confront the hordes of chaos, we happen to know to that the Hero (the player) and his arch-rival Drakath were simply outsmarted by the true big bad of the series, the Queen of Monsters. And the new release doesn't actually change the narrative's direction, as both the Hero and a new NPC (Syrrus the Astromancer) has been deceived by another bad guy named Karok the Worldbreaker. That leads me to a question that I'm not sure I want to be answered: how much dumb the good guys have to be to keep the story going ?

Shining Force: Resurrection of The Dark Dragon There is an episode of  Happy Days (a popular TV Show that really made a good portion of my childhood) where Fonzie tries some very dangerous trials with his motorbike because he wants to prove himself, because he feels that they just "have to be done" even if the risks are way higher than the things he will obtain by doing them. That is the philosophy that I followed in the last couple of years while struggling with my "must-play old-school JRPG games" backlog - I don't play them because I like them but because I feel that I just have to do it.
Now, many people on Gamefaqs reviewed Shining Force: Resurrection of The Dark Dragon as a game so easy that it's not even funny to play. For a veteran gamer of tactics RPGs, someone who eats Tactics Ogre for breakfast and could complete every single iteration of Fire Emblem blindfolded, that could easily be true. But for someone like myself, who struggled to beat even the original and relatively easy Final Fantasy Tactics on PSX, this game is a brutal experience, a potentially good title flawed by many horrible game design choices that make it simply unfair and unforgiving. I am very near to complete it ("only" three stages left), but it's very though to gather the willpower to get in front of the TV screen and play it again, so much that I have no shame to admit that I had to put the game on hiatus for a bit because of the stress it puts on me... and Shining Force 2 lies in wait.


Avatar: The Legend of Korra Book 4 In my previous post on this very blog, I spent positive words about Book 3: Change and how the series kept being interesting and entertaining even after the spectacular, mind-blowing events of Book 2. Now, even if I didn't find the challenge against Zaheer and his powerful followers as much as engrossing as the previous chapter, the story arc still felt consistent and well executed. Unfortunately, I don't feel I can say the same about Book 4: Balance. Now, don't get me wrong on this one: this chapter has nothing to envy to the previous ones in terms of sheer quality. The animation is fluid, the voice acting is impressive and the score is outstanding as usual. Notwithstanding that, there is something about this story arc as a whole, something that I cannot describe with words that makes it feel rushed and... uninspired. If there is something that I owe to the final chapter the Avatar-verse (at least when it comes down to the contribution of its original creators), is that it did not left me wanting for more.

Video Game High School Browsing through the internet I found this show and I got immediately hooked with it. VGHS tells the story of Brian D, who accidentally beats the strongest FPS players in the world, and gets into the prestigious Video Game High School. As much as juvenile the story can be, this web series looks gorgeous, with a directing worthy of a triple A TV show. The story, however, tends to indulge a bit too much on the romance side, with the relationship of Brian and his Team Leader, Jenny  Matrix, dragging on and on for all the three seasons of the show.
What really got me into the series to be honest, was Brian's nemesis, the above mentioned FPS champion simply known as "The Law". The Law has all the things a villain needs: he's arrogant, vicious and crazy. You're gonna hate him, and you'll just love to do so. At some point, The Law is given his own sub-plot, which in my opinion is way more involving than the main story... and than the final episode comes. I was there, waiting for The Law to finally redeem himself by joining the heroes in their final challenge and lay waste on the enemy side, but unfortunately (for me), none of this happens. The contribution of The Law in the final battle it's even counter-productive for his comrades, and the lack of any expected... no, mandatory badassness from his side makes the return of this entertaining arch-rival one of the most disappointing comebacks I've ever experienced in any media ever existed.

That's it for the Disappointment Section. Since sometimes some good stuff have to pop-up here and there, I think it's fair to spend a bit of lines also to talk about...

The Good Stuff

Lyrania 2.0 This game is a prime example of PBBG (Persistent Browser-Based Game). On the surface, it's a text-based RPG grind-fest, where all the player has to do is kill one mob after another until the current quest is completed and start over again. On a more detailed look, however, this game offers many things that you can find in MMORPGs: skills, trading, guilds, bosses, dungeons, housing etc. To make a long story short, Lyrania 2.0 takes a very simple game mechanic and develops it as much as possible, inducing me to get back to play it day by day in order to level up my equipment, buy a new jewelry slot and eventually reach the next milestone.

Dragon Tavern This Web RPG is being neglected by its developers, Rowdy Baron Games, and that's quite a shame because it has all the good things of games of this genre and almost none of the flaws they generally have. The player sure has a limited amount of Action Points per day, but this nuisance can be circumvented by making additional characters in the same account at zero cost. Each location (and sub-location) is brought with a description of its history and features, adding a good amount of flavor in a text-based game that just revolves around the same basics of grinding, looting and leveling up your character.

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