pocketseizure: (Mog Toast)
As I play Final Fantasy XII, the outfits of the female characters have been driving me a bit crazy. What I was able to accept in 2007 isn't really flying with me anymore, and I feel a burning desire to fix the stupid designs, or at least try to imagine alternatives.

The worst offender is Fran, who is from a tribe called the Viera. The Viera are basically forest bunny versions of the Gerudo from the Zelda series (link) in that they're an isolated society of warrior women whose "otherness" is marked by brown skin, while they are made less threatening to the ostensibly straight male player through their sexualized clothing. As is the case with the Gerudo, the elements of "male-oriented exoticism" are unfortunate, because the Viera have an interesting culture. Likewise, Fran is a fascinating character, but... I don't really need to watch the black leather of her thong disappear into her bare butt as she runs through the desert, you know?

This is Fran's official design (link), and here is some concept art (link). I would be interested in keeping the character's features the same while designing a battlemage adventure outfit that's a bit more practical. I was thinking about actually commissioning someone in the Final Fantasy fandom, but no one jumps to mind. I'd love to see Kashuan do something like this, but...

A lot of Final Fantasy artists have moved on (typically to the Dragon Age fandom), and the ones that are still around really intimidate me. They didn't talk to me when I was a baby fan on DeviantArt, and they sure as hell aren't going to talk to me now that I'm a slightly less baby fan on Tumblr. So maybe this is something that I should try to do myself?
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
Rime (stylized as RiME for some reason) came out this past May, and people have been describing it as a cross between Journey and The Wind Waker. This comparison is apt, as Rime has the aesthetic sense of Wind Waker with a few design elements borrowed from Journey, and its particular brand of "exploration adventure" is clearly influenced by Journey, with a few gameplay elements (such as moving block puzzles) drawn from Wind Waker.

Rime is apparently supposed to be three to four hours long, and I think I'm about a third of the way through. This doesn't include the extra hour I spent trying to get past the first section of the game, an hour that I erased by resetting the game and starting over with a walkthrough. Overall, Rime isn't particularly difficult, but I want to talk a bit about this weird failure in the design of what it's probably fair to call the "tutorial mission."

Read more... )

I frequently have trouble figuring out the internal logic of games that are new to me, so this could just be a consequence of my own relative lack of skill, but I still think exploration challenges with this level of difficulty should not be part of the tutorial mission. This wouldn't be a flaw in a game that is in fact meant to be difficult, but it's definitely a problem in Rime, and it could have been avoided with a focus group of literally one shitty gamer.

My experience of fooling around with Rime has been making me appreciate how good the game design of the Zelda series is, especially Breath of the Wild, which has no artificial barriers and doesn't force the player to use an action before they've figured out how it works in a more natural and intuitive context. That being said, there is more environmental storytelling in the first hour of Rime than there is in however many 100+ hours I spent with Breath of the Wild. After I finish Rime, I want to talk more about the intense Wind Waker feels this game has been giving me.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
Me: What do we want??

Also Me: SEXY OLDER FEMALE CHARACTERS!!!

Me: WHEN DO WE WANT IT?!?!?1??

Square Enix: ffxii_fran_hd_closeup.png

Also Me: MAYBe we can wait until,, the gaming culture matures,,,, I am not sure this is what
pocketseizure: (Mog Toast)
It's been a busy week, but I've been trying to make time for Final Fantasy XII. Last night I got as far as watching Vayne's speech in Rabanastre, and I was impressed. This is partially because the voice audio has been beautifully remastered, and partially because the voice actor (someone named Elijah Alexander?) does a wonderful job, but mainly because it's a good piece of writing.

I don't remember ever having strong feelings about Vayne, mainly because I've never been 100% clear on what his story arc is supposed to be. From what I understand, he firmly believes that there should be peace in Arcadia, and he wants his little brother Larsa to preside over that peace. Vayne fears that the continued existence of Rabanastre as an independent state will only result in escalating tensions between Arcadia and Rozarria; and so, to shield his brother from becoming enmeshed in a prolonged conflict, he has the king of Rabanastre murdered by someone imitating one of the kingdom's war heroes in order to force a quick resolution. Vayne knows full well that what he's doing is evil, but he takes one for Team Larsa.

And then at some point he goes crazy and becomes the final boss monster, which has something to do with Balthier's Hot Dad. To me, a more reasonable narrative progression would result in a final boss battle against Hot Dad and Venat, but... Maybe I should talk about this later. In any case, Vayne deserved better.

Speaking of hot dads, Vaan is such a dick to Migelo. I know Vaan is only seventeen, but come on. Migelo deserves all the love. His voice actor (John DiMaggio, who is apparently also Wakka's voice actor??) does this weird cottonball mouth sort of thing, but I would not be surprised if Migelo was a total badass when he was younger. He is a master of social interaction, and the way he bows his head to Vayne after their conversation, like, hurt me.

As an aside, I would recommend that no one go looking for fan art of Migelo, just take my word on this.
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)
The God of Pre-Orders was kind to me, and I got my copy of the PS4 release of Final Fantasy XII a day early. It's been five years since I last played the game, but I still remembered exactly how long the prologue is, so I made myself sit down and suffer through it last night.

At the beginning of the game, there is an extended exposition dump about military action and political betrayal that then makes an abrupt transition to the perspective of an orphaned teenager killing rats in the sewer. I understand why it's effective that the story be told primarily from the perspective of a representative of "the common people," but I do think the prologue could have been handled more skillfully. Specifically, I wish the narrative had begun with Vaan's personal concerns and only gradually revealed the larger conflict, including Ashe and Basch's backstories. For the first few hours of the game, it's really enough to say that a small city-state was conquered by the powerful empire to the north, and foreign troops now occupy the city in preparation for the arrival of an imperial governor. Although it makes for a dramatic opening cinematic sequence, Ashe's marriage is largely immaterial to Vaan's story, as is Marquis Ondore's lengthy history lesson.

I don't dislike Vaan with the intense burning hatred I feel toward Tidus, but I'm planning on rushing through the game until the point where its real heroes, Ashe and Basch, join the party.

ALSO, NEVER FORGET: http://xii.venusgospel.net/ff12_basch.html
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
It took me four months, but I beat Breath of the Wild. I... feel so empty inside.

I accidentally skipped through the end credits, so I don't know how many hours I put into Breath of the Wild, but the post-clear map screen tells me that I've only completed 39.48% of the game. And this is after me finding and upgrading all of the gear, finding and finishing all of the shrines, and thoroughly filling out the "Hyrule Compendium" (which is basically an annotated photo album). I think that the rest of the percentage points probably have something to do with collecting all of the Korok Seeds, of which there are 900 (I've found a little more than 200, which is all you need to max out your gear slots), as well as finding and defeating every instance of every monster. Maybe I'll pick these projects back up when there is DLC available... or maybe not.

To be honest, there isn't a lot of story or lore or worldbuilding in Breath of the Wild, and running around and poking Link's face into the various nooks and crannies of the overworld map doesn't really teach you anything. After a while, everything starts to feel a little generic, and actually playing the game isn't helping me get inspired to write fic about it.

I'm not sure what to do with myself now. I'll just wait patiently for FFXII to come out, I guess.
pocketseizure: (Terra Branford)
For my class on Final Fantasy X this semester I've been using screencaps from my current Steam playthrough for my PowerPoint slideshows, but as I've been putting together my last (thank god) presentation I realized that I'm missing a crucial shot. I had a vague memory of saving someone's screengrab from Tumblr a few years ago, so I went into my old "Final Fantasy" image folder to see if it was there. In fact it was, along with dozens of screencaps of Barret being his beautiful self.







I never really thought of Barret as being one of my favorite Final Fantasy characters, but the results of my pre-2014 internet magpie tendencies prove otherwise. I have like one picture of Sephiroth, maybe three or four of Cloud, and a good half dozen of Tifa, but most of the FFVII images in that folder have something to do with Barret. Honestly I still love him, and I regret nothing.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
It's funny, but I think I'm more disciplined about playing Breath of Wild than I've ever been about anything in my life.

Don't get me wrong, playing the game doesn't feel like work, but it does require mental energy. It's not difficult, per se, but it requires that you be fully engaged with the diegetic environment. Sometimes when I get home in the evening I just want to take a bath and read for a bit and go to sleep, but I've been forcing myself to sit down on the couch and turn on the Wii U so that I can get just a little farther in Breath of the Wild.

Every night I try to play through at least one shrine. Shrines are puzzle-based mini-dungeons, and since they're hidden all over the world (often in dangerous areas) locating and then being able to access a shrine is often a major task. There are 120 shrines in the game, and some of them are significantly more difficult than others. If I can, I've also been trying to complete or at least trigger one side quest a day.

Meanwhile, I haven't gotten very far in the main quest at all. The story (such as it is) is told through a series of flashback sequences, and I watched them all on Youtube a day or two after the game came out. I mean, this game really isn't about story. There's a princess who wants to be a hero, but because she's a girl and doesn't have The Phallus Of Destiny her job is to sit in the castle and wait for the hero to save her. Some story, right? Nothing in the game really changes if the player completes one of the dungeons, so I'm saving them for when I get around to it.

For the time being, my goals in the game are to make Link (1) rich, (2) swol, (3) fashionably dressed, and (4) a certified master chef, and I am making good progress.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
It seems that there is a Wikipedia entry on video games as an art form. The major strain of criticism I've encountered (generally from inside the game dev community) that holds that games are not "art" tends toward the argument that the ontological category of "art" is transcended by the multimedia and nonlinear nature of games. The sense I get from the Wikipedia entry, however, is that there is still a debate focused on the participatory elements of the medium and the ostensible lack of creative direction of an auteur.

I've frequently run across references to Roget Ebert supposedly saying that video games are not art, a quote that (I think?) I was finally able to track down...

Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers.
 
Five years later, in April 2010, Ebert posted an essay literally titled Video Games Can Never Be Art, which was written in response to a TED Talk (that I will not link to because TED Talks are ridiculous and pretentious) in which someone quoted him being old and grumpy. Here he writes...

One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film.
 
Elsewhere in the essay he references Werner Herzog, which is never a good indication of having an open mind about new technologies. In any case, the internet exploded, and two and a half months later Ebert made another post conceding that...

I thought about those works of Art that had moved me most deeply. I found most of them had one thing in common: Through them I was able to learn more about the experiences, thoughts and feelings of other people. My empathy was engaged. I could use such lessons to apply to myself and my relationships with others. They could instruct me about life, love, disease and death, principles and morality, humor and tragedy. They might make my life more deep, full and rewarding. [...] I had to be prepared to agree that gamers can have an experience that, for them, is Art.
 
He's not happy about it, though, and mostly he justifies why he's not interested in engaging with the argument, his reasoning basically boiling down to the fact that he's not interested in playing video games. So that's a dead end.

When "video games as art" are discussed in other contexts, it seems to be in terms of "game art," which is when games are presented in the context of gallery spaces, as in the case of installations like Super Mario Clouds. Like the Ebert "debate," those conversations feel dated (probably because they in fact occurred almost ten years ago), and I wonder if the sort of games profiled by 365 Tiny Games are what are now considered to be "art games."

I don't have much to add; I'm just amused that this was ever a thing. Of course games are art.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Palmer)

Breath of the Wild has started to stress me out (I'm still overwhelmed tbh), so I've started playing Night in the Woods instead. It's a visually gorgeous game, and the writing is fantastic.

I've also been listening to the OST. There are a lot of interesting songs there, but the one I've had on repeat is Possum Springs, which is super chill and relaxing.
pocketseizure: (Needs More Zelda)
I've really been enjoying Breath of the Wild.

To be honest, I wasn't crazy about the game when I first started playing, as the "go anywhere and do anything" mode of gameplay can be a bit overwhelming. Now that I've put more than fifteen hours into it, though, I can say that I'm having a crazy amount of fun with Breath of the Wild. It's everything that I've ever enjoyed about the Zelda series in terms of adventure and exploration and the thrill of discovery. The player is free to go off on her own in any direction, but there's just enough guidance to ensure that you're never going to be completely lost or unsure of what to do next; I think the game developers were able to create a perfect balance between creative direction and player agency.

Breath of the Wild is deep and rich and full of cool things to interact with, and it's super saturated with color and charm and humor that ranges from stupid dad puns to surprisingly clever sex jokes. Also, it's been breaking my heart with its sheer beauty. The music and lighting effects are phenomenal, and the characters are gorgeously written. Link has depth, Zelda has depth, a ton of the NPCs have depth, and their stories build slowly and gradually gather momentum.

My favorite thing about the game is that it's filled with plants and animals in a vibrant and interconnected set of ecosystems. Basically Link can ride around on a horse all day hunting and fishing and collecting mushrooms and herbs, and it never gets boring. Whatever you chose to do (or not do), the game will reward you by being an absolute joy to play.

Breath of the Wild feels infinite, and its plot and background information is offered to the player in such small fragments that people will probably still be trying to put everything together years from now. I have some major concerns about the story, but it's easy to put them aside and just have fun in the wide open world.

TL; DR: Breath of the Wild gives me life.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
I keeping thinking about Ganondorf as a representation of a complicated ethical position, and I keep finding interesting references in the weirdest places. For example, these are two panels from a comic (link) illustrating one of the more disturbing ideas to come out of contemporary posthuman philosophy:

pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
I am all about this essay on modding, accessibility, and gaming:

You'll hear all sorts of discussion about the way a game is "meant" to be played. But this sort of analysis is unfair to players! Games are so often dismissive or unaccommodating, and the culture that has formed around it equally so — it prides itself on games that encourage huge time commitments, are prohibitively difficult, or pile on a ridiculous number of things to attend to. It's a culture that's fueled by a desire to feel accomplished, by winning out against a stacked deck.

I'm considering getting myself a desktop PC. This is mostly so that I can run the current edition of Photoshop without my laptop crashing, but I'd be lying if I said I don't intend to cheat at games that are too difficult or too time-consuming.

Back in the day, I used to love my Super NES Game Genie. I enjoyed using it to explore the maps of games I had no desire to master. Some people say that the experience of playing a game shouldn't be like walking through a museum, but why not? Some of us really enjoy walking through museums, and there's no shame in that.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
I played my sixth 30-minute session of Final Fantasy XV last night, and it did not go well. I'm having a lot of trouble with this game, which I'm afraid is indicative of my failure to adapt to modern gaming. The biggest problem I'm having is that the map works in a way that is not intuitive for me, and the text and maps in the official strategy guide are not in the least bit useful in helping me navigate. I'm getting lost a lot, especially when the game decides it's going to be night and I can't see anything.

FFXV is an action RPG, and combat moves extremely quickly. With four people and swarms of enemies, even the first several battles are chaotic, and the fact that the player needs to control the camera as well as Noct does not help. The entire screen is filled with rapidly shifting information, none of which I know how to process. Although you can pause the game, there's no way to slow down the battles, and they are brutal. In other words, the player is expected to start the game at a fairly high point on the learning curve.

(By the way, if your response to my admission of difficulty is "I'm not having trouble" or "my friends aren't having trouble" or "the Let's Play Youtuber I watch isn't having trouble," check yourself.)

After every battle, the game grades you on your performance. I wish you could turn this feature off, because it makes me feel awful about myself. Even worse, every time you rest for the night (which you need to do in order to tally your experience points and gain levels), the game grades you on how well your exploration went that day. Because I want to explore the map and am constantly getting lost, this makes me feel awful as well.

You suck, FFXV keeps telling me. You're barely passing. You're bad at playing this game. You're bad at games. What are you even doing.

A lot of the work I do in real life is invisible, and I don't typically get a lot of feedback, positive or otherwise. I also don't get much feedback from my creative work in fandom, which (as much as I would love to say that "I create for myself!") is also tough to handle. One of the reasons I play games is because I need to feel like I'm capable of accomplishing something. Even if it's just gaining a level or being told that I found 100% of a dungeon's treasure, I like to feel that I'm making progress.

The constant stream of negative feedback in FFXV is so hurtful and alienating, and I don't know why it has to be this way. I play Final Fantasy games to experience interesting stories and explore beautiful worlds while falling in love with quirky characters as I gradually customize their growth. If I wanted to play a hyperdrive murder simulator, I would choose another game. There are a lot of them out there!

Because FFXV is so stressful, I wind down from play sessions by playing other games, mainly Pokémon Sun and Link's Awakening. Go at your own pace. Take your time, both games say to me. You're doing great! It's not that the games aren't challenging, but rather that they're broad enough to accommodate diverse playstyles.

I'd like to advocate for "slow gaming," which I see as a more individualized and sustainable type of gaming. I'm going to need to think about what this means before I write more about it, but basically, I want to say that the style of gaming represented by FFXV should not be understood as normal or standard or something that anyone can enjoy.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
I had to work on Friday, and I didn't want to get myself too psyched up by the Nintendo Switch presentation broadcast to fall asleep, so I skipped it and went to bed.

When I woke up at six the next morning, the Nintendo Switch was sold out. Everywhere.

The Master Edition of Breath of the Wild was also sold out. Everywhere. Even in Canada.

On one hand, I don't care. I will get the Switch eventually, and despite being a huge nerd I have no use for video game memorabilia cluttering my home and office. I've had the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild preordered for months, so it's not like I'm not going to be able to play the actual game when it comes out.

On the other hand, I've had the Nintendo Switch listing pages of several online retailers bookmarked since June, and I checked them almost every single day, just in case. To have made diligent efforts in tracking this console for eight months only to miss my opportunity in an eight-hour window is beyond frustrating.

This is an important life lesson, I think. In order to succeed, you really have to be at the right place at the right time. If you're not lucky, or if you don't possess sufficient foresight, or if you don't have insider information, no amount of persistence or hard work will help you achieve your goals. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an entire book about this.

I think it's high time I accepted that, at this point in my life, I am not an outlier. I am never going to be in the right place at the right time. And that's okay! It has nothing to do with me. So why am I working so hard? I should really spend more time chilling out and enjoying myself.

And honestly? I'm not actually that excited about the new Zelda game anyway. Let me tell you about the sexism.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)



That Pokeyman Thing is a twenty-minute browser game that was put together partially in response to an interview with Werner Herzog in which the dude totally does not understand Pokémon Go.

To me, as someone who is still keeping up with Pokémon Go, That Pokeyman Thing captures the experience of playing the game quite well - it's more than a little stupid, but it's actually kind of fun, and it does encourage you to leave the house and explore your neighborhood. I usually hate WASD games, but this one is well written and well programmed, and as an added bonus the music is super catchy.

I'm on Level 27 in Pokémon Go, if anyone cares. I have been on Level 27 for months.
pocketseizure: (Default)
I really love Pokémon Sun. It's full of happiness and healing. Everyone is kind to the player-character, and everyone helps her and wants her to succeed. There is no racism or sexism or homophobia, there is no war or poverty, and there is no animal cruelty. There is an overt critique of capitalism, but it's very gentle, and the real-world history of human migration to Hawai'i is treated respectfully as well.

There's a famous quote from Slavoj Zizek that goes, "It's much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism," but the dude obviously never played any of the Pokémon games, which all function as beautiful interactive models of what a peaceful postcapitalist society might actually look like.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
I've been enjoying myself with Pokémon Sun, which has reminded me of how much I love old school JRPG gameplay.

My little brother gave me some amphetamine salt tablets for Christmas, so I think I'm going to pop half a pill and sit down and really focus on I Am Setsuna, which I had abandoned last fall because there are no save points in the middle of its endgame dungeons. This nonsense annoyed me when I was a tiny child playing a video rental store copy of Final Fantasy IV, and it annoys me now that I am a grown-ass adult. If I have played an hour of a damn game, I would like to have an option to save it, please and thank you.

One of the things I appreciate about handheld gaming is the ability to save your game whenever you want to. Your train reaches your stop? Save the game and quit. You get a text from one of your interns that requires immediate attention? Save the game and quit. You've been playing for an hour and want to do something else now? Save the game and quit.

There's a dungeon toward the end of I Am Setsuna called "the Ithees Ruins" that is super long, and to get to that dungeon you have to go through another dungeon, and just because you can see the monsters on the map doesn't mean that you can avoid fights with them. Each fight takes about two minutes, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal but becomes very obnoxious very quickly, especially since the enemies use cheap tricks (like exploding and causing damage when you kill them) that draw out the process even longer. The last time I played I Am Setsuna, I got about an hour and half into the Ithees Ruins before being like fuck it and turning off the PS4.

I don't think it's particularly a glowing endorsement of I Am Setsuna to say that you may need Aderal to make it through the endgame dungeons, but I've gotten this far already, and I'd like the see how the story turns out before I get serious about replaying Final Fantasy X.
pocketseizure: (Teh Bowz)
I'm still struggling with The Last Guardian. This game is hard in the way that NES games were hard. It teaches the player a set of rules and then refuses to play by them. Basically, the controls don't work properly.

To give an example of what I mean, there is a point in the game when the following sequence must be undertaken:

(1) The boy climbs onto a pile of rubble.
(2) The boy jumps from the rubble to a free-standing bell tower.
(3) Trico will jump on top of the tower's cupola.
(4) The boy jumps and grabs Trico's hanging tail.
(5) The boy climbs up Trico's tail onto the creature's head.
(6) Trico will look toward a ledge.
(7) The boy jumps from Trico's head onto the ledge.
(8) The boy runs along the ledge to a broken bridge over a pit.
(9) The player jumps over the small gap in the bridge to the other side.

This seems like fairly run-of-the mill video game spatial navigation, except for two things.

First, Trico does what it wants. There are no special trigger points on the map or actions that the boy can take that will ensure Trico positions itself appropriately, so the player frequently has to wait. If Trico doesn't jump onto the bell tower when the boy calls to it, the player has no way of knowing that the game expects the boy to use Trico to get to the higher vantage point. Once the boy is on top of Trico's head, there's no way of knowing that the boy can jump to one specific ledge while Trico is looking in that specific direction. I suppose some gamers are born with an instinct for these things, but I have to rely heavily on a walkthrough.

Second, even if the player knows exactly what the game requires, the boy can't run or jump with any degree of accuracy. The joystick will move the boy, but the shifting camera and its uncomfortable angles mean that it's difficult to translate the directional commands of the joystick into the desired direction of movement onscreen. Moreover, the boy runs when he wants and walks when he wants, and the player can't control his speed. The triangle button will make the boy jump; but, because the player can't control his direction or momentum, there's a lot of trial and error involved – every leap is a leap of faith. This renders the game's platforming maneuvers extremely difficult to pull off. Even something as seemingly simple as hopping over a small gap in a straight bridge will frequently result in multiple time-consuming failures.

I think my problem may simply be that I'm so used to playing Zelda games, which are the absolute pinnacle of 3D adventure exploration. I'm not accustomed to having the mechanics of a game actively work against me, and there's not really a learning curve for mastering controls that aren't consistent.

The worst thing is that The Last Guardian contains a number of dramatic set pieces in which the camera and controls work perfectly, which leads me to believe the developers could have actually made a good game if they had more... resources? staff? time? From what I understand, they had all of these things in spades, but I will admit that I'm not really sure how big budget game development works.
pocketseizure: (Needs More Zelda)
The premise of The Last Guardian is that you are a boy who has mysteriously woken up in a hole in the ground next to a chained creature that looks like a giant long haired Chihuahua with feathers. Either the species of animal is called Trico or the boy decides to call this particular puppy-bird Trico, but Trico is not doing okay. After the boy and Trico work together to escape the underground area where they've been imprisoned (or discarded?), they emerge onto a cliff overlooking a giant floating castle, which turns out to be totally empty. Since Trico really wants to go to the castle, and since the boy has nothing better to do, into the castle they go.

The game is very pretty, but it suffers from terrible controls, a terrible camera, Trico's terrible AI, and several terrible glitches.

These are the first three times I rage-quit the game:

(1) During the opening sequence, the boy needs to feed Trico three barrels of food. When I started the game, one of the barrels was not there. Even though the initial area isn't that large, I spent twenty minutes looking for the last barrel until finally going to the internet for answers. Apparently it's a glitch that one of the barrels will randomly not generate.

(2) A bit later on in the game, when the boy first enters the floating castle, Trico is too large to fit through the doorway. The boy is supposed to run through an upper hallway to emerge back outside at the front of the building, where he is supposed to call for Trico. Trico will eventually make his way outside; and, if the boy stands for long enough on a high balcony, Trico will hop on up and follow him back inside. Although this sounds simple, my description doesn't convey the sheer gigantic scale of the architecture. There is absolutely nothing to indicate to the player that Trico can "hop on up" to a ledge easily as tall as the Washington Monument, or that it can hear the boy calling from several football fields away and through multiple stone walls when its attention is focused elsewhere. That the poor game design forced me to get up, turn on my laptop, and use a walkthrough for such a seemingly easy puzzle was infuriating.

(3) You know what? It would be tedious to explain what happened here, so I won't.

Now that I'm back in DC, my homework is to play this game for half an hour every evening, which is about as much of it as I can take in one sitting. I'll just keep telling myself that it's supposed to be good, and maybe my patience will pay off.

In the meantime, I started replaying Link's Awakening and Earthbound on my Nintendo 3DS XL. Both games still manage to surprise me with how brilliant they are, and both are absolutely gorgeous on the handheld system's large screen.

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