dorchadas: (Majora A Terrible Fate)
Majora's Mask almost completely passed me by. I think the first time I even saw any of it was at the first Symphony of the Goddesses concert I went to, where the gameplay footage of a moon with an evil face, Link turning into some kind of plant monster and flying around using flower umbrellas, and mysterious giants assembling to defend the city completely confused me. What was this? What was even happening here? And what is it about Majora's Mask that leads Zelda Dungeon to have a huge philosophical exegesis on the game?

(The answer to that is "When there's only one Zelda game every 3-5 years, they've got to publish something")

When my sister bought a Nintendo 64, I played Super Mario 64 and I played Ocarina of Time, and sometimes I played Blast Corps, and then I played Quest 64 and that was basically it for me. The N64 was not the system for an RPG-lover like myself, so I went back to my PC games and that's why I didn't know anything about this game until I played it.

I feel like I'm still missing a lot, honestly.


"You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?"

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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
This is normally a day when I'd be writing up a summary of our Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game last night, but it was called off at the last minute when one of the players came home to find their apartment had been broken into! The thiev(es) didn't take much, fortunately--they even left the WiiU behind, which seems like a joke itself--but that's not that much compensation. And they are moving in a month...  photo emot-ohdear.png

So instead, I spent most of last night playing Majora's Mask doing the Woodfall Temple. I'm not sure how I feel about Majora's Mask's yet--I've already lost about an hour of time due to freezing and the save system only allowing saving by restarting the three-day cycle, but I love the focus on a small city and the people who live there. I can definitely see a continuation of Link's Awakening, with its weird characters doing strange things and Link stumbling into the middle of it all and trying to sort everything out. I just wish I had a better sense of what's going on.

It's the problem with trying to learn a language. I don't want to read children's books or play games with little dialogue, because then I'm not actually getting any practice in. Studying requires pushing into areas I don't know. But that means that I'm never quite sure I understand the plot. I've got a walkthrough open in the background because of these issues, and I've already made a couple major errors that confused me until I went to check, like thinking that the monkeys in the swamp had captured someone instead of being captured by someone (Xに捕まえられています). The broad strokes I understand just fine, but in a game where it's very important that I'm in particular places at specific time, I need to understand the nuances to be able to play.

I redid the background image on my Dreamwidth page so it's locally hosted and shows up in 1080p. I tried a couple images of Tokyo in the rain, but they didn't display up well--with everything else on the page, it was just a blur of neon barely visible in the background. Which I suppose is accurate to some nights I've spent in Tokyo, but it doesn't make for a good aesthetic.  photo emot-fuckyou.gif

Looking forward to a low-key weekend and hopefully being able to finish Majora's Mask!
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
One of my favorite games for the original Nintendo was Blaster Master. I played it for hours doing the same levels over and over again, because it was extremely hard. About half of my games never got past the boss of level 3, and those that did never got past the crab boss in level 5. Only once did I ever manage to beat the crab boss, and that was the last time I played Blaster Master.

So when I heard that there was a remake coming out for the Nintendo Switch, I was almost more excited for that than I was for Breath of the Wild. One of the main games of my childhood brought into the modern era? The same gameplay and areas, still with pixel art, but with modern conveniences like the ability to save and Switch's suspending the game at any time? That sounds amazing.

And it is. We ordered the Master Edition of Breath of the Wild, but I'm not playing that. I'm playing Blaster Master Zero.


Blasting again!

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Game Review: Owlboy

2017-Apr-12, Wednesday 21:07
dorchadas: (Default)
Owlboy is a gorgeous game with great music and a touching story that I can't recommend because it doesn't know what it wants to be.

Owlboy first came to my attention the same way Hyper Light Drifter did, by reading an article on Rock Paper Shotgun about it. A later review cemented it in my mind, with John Walker, who hates everything except puzzle games, gushing over the gameplay and story. And, of course, the art.

Well, I'm not sure how far Walker got into Owlboy. I suspect he never beat it, because if he had, he would have written one of his rants about difficulty preventing his enjoyment of a good game. I did beat it and that's what happened to me. I had nothing but goodwill for Owlboy when I started, but it was slowly worn away by the course of the game, and for the last hour or so I just wanted it to end. And then it finally did, I and I put down the controller, and I deleted the game, and I'm almost certainly never going to play it again.

 photo 20170408181606_1.jpg

This game is beautiful, though.

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dorchadas: (Equal time for Slime)
This post is partially inspired by the eternal complaining about "censorship" and localization, and partially by this article about Vagrant Story's localization.

One of my favorite games of all time is Chrono Trigger, and my favorite part of Chrono Trigger is the Kingdom of Zeal, where dreams come true. It's the lynchpin of the game, the only part that isn't inspired by a historical era, and the most overtly fantastical. The Enlightened live on a floating continent above the clouds and away from the ice age below, using their magic to create a post-scarcity society and leaving their Earthbound cousins without magic to fend for themselves on the ground. With the goal of surpassing even those limits and ensuring the eternal glory of the Kingdom of Zeal, they build a great machine.

In Japanese, this is just the 魔神器 (majinki, "Demonic vessel"), which is awful. For one, it gives the game away immediately and lets the player know that the Kingdom of Zeal is corrupted. For another, it's silly. No one thinks that they're evil, and the people in Zeal who mention the majinki talk about it as a means to attain greater power for helping Zeal, but with a name like that, how believable is that? Why would anyone name the machine designed to power their society the "demonic vessel"?

It's possible to read it slightly differently, as 魔・神器 instead of 魔神・器, but that just means "evil sacred treasure," which isn't any better.

In English, the majinki was localized as the "Mammon Machine," which is a fantastic name. It's alliterative and slightly ominous, but doesn't immediately make you wonder why all these people are okay with a demonic vessel powering their society. The people in Kajar and Enhasa spend their time in magical research or idle dreaming in their utopia, fed by cornucopia machines and with magic to do all the work, and talk offhandedly about how the Mammon Machine will make their kingdom even greater, and it sounds a bit strange. And then you get to the Zeal Palace, and this music starts playing, and you know something is very wrong with the Kingdom of Zeal.

Schala Mammon Machine

Of course, the name "Mammon" already gives it away, but subtly. Mammon, the pursuit of wealth which is the root of all evil. The people of Zeal already had a utopia, where no one needed to work and everyone could spend their days in the manner of their choosing. It was a bit like Omelas, it's true. There's a quote about how the Queen conscripted a bunch of Earthbound to work on the Ocean Palace, though the man phrases it in an obvious euphemism for slavery:
"The Earthbound Ones are being allowed to work on the construction of the Palace. So they do have a purpose after all."
But it's not directly build on the suffering of others, just on social exclusion, which is at least marginally better than active oppression. The Kingdom of Zeal had everything they could want, but in their pride and greed they wanted more. So pushed on by their Queen, they reached out to the power slumbering beneath the ocean, and they built a machine to tap into that power to push them beyond their already lofty place. And because of it, they lost everything.

Magus post-Zeal

Much more evocative than the "demonic vessel." A localization isn't a literally translation, and it shouldn't be, because sometimes it adds something that the original was missing.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Before Kingdom Hearts, there was another time that Square created a strange hybrid RPG with action elements!

I first played this with my sister and another kid who lived across the street, and we got almost to the end. If I remember right, we nearly stalled out in the volcano and then couldn't beat the Smith Gang when we went on to the final boss, which strikes me as almost unbelievable now that I'm replaying through. Was I ever that bad at video games? Is my memory just bad and we actually won?

Well, I won this time.


Shine get.

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
This is my favorite Kirby game!

I haven't played that many Kirby games, admittedly. Just this, Kirby's Adventure, and maybe five minutes of the original Kirby's Dream Land. But of those three, Kirby Super Star is definitely the winner. It doesn't have the complexity of Kirby's Adventure's wide levels and multiple secrets, or the simplicity of Kirby's Dreamland...but then again, in a way it has both. The real strength of Kirby Super Star is that it contains multitudes. It's structured as a series of smaller games, each of which is played and beaten individually. The first, "Spring Breeze," is a remake of Kirby's Dream Land, and the only one where King Dedede is the enemy. Another one, "The Great Cave Offensive," replicates Kirby's Adventure with its poking around every nook and cranny and using Kirby's various power-ups to unlock secrets through the medium of a treasure hunt. That's just two of the available games.

And, in perhaps the best part of the game, it's multiplayer.


Riding together.

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dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
This is the first thing I ever kickstarted, back in the heady days of 2012 when Double Fine Adventure blew up on kickstarter and revealed the wonders of crowdfunding. I had only ever played the original Wasteland for maybe an hour, but I had read multiple let's plays of it and, more importantly, I'm a huge fan of the Fallout games which were its spiritual successors. So I kicked in for a physical copy of the game (with cloth map!) and waited. And then when it came out, I heard there were some bugs so I waited for them to be fixed. And then I heard there would be a director's cut with new mechanics, so I waited for that. And then I was playing other games. But now, five years later, I finally sat down and decided that this would be the next game I would play so I could taste the fruit of that kickstarter long ago.

It's okay.


All in a day's work.

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dorchadas: (Slime)
I was one of the Final Fantasy fans that failed to make Dragon Quest popular in the West. I borrowed a friend's copy of Final Fantasy and played it to death, even beating it after weeks of work, but I saw someone playing Dragon Warrior and I just wasn't that interested. Simplistic sprites? Shakespearean English? Dying to magicians when he tried to head out to Garinham to buy stronger weapons and armor? No thank you. It wasn't until I went to university that I tried playing Dragon Warrior again, and I thought it was fun enough, persisted to the end, and then left the series behind.

Until I saw that some of the Dragon Quest games had been ported to iOS and I had a two-week-long trip to Japan coming up. I had vague memories of seeing Dragon Warrior IV in Nintendo Power and I'd heard good things about it, so I bought it, downloaded it, and loaded it up during the flight. And while I didn't beat it during the trip--I decided that writing thirty thousand words in daily blogging about it was a better use of my time--I've beaten it now! And it was pretty good!


The operative word here is "try."

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dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Yesterday I saw an article on Twitter about how video games are better than real life, and it got me thinking.

I'm lucky enough now to have a job with reasonable pay and excellent benefits, but something I'm always conscious of is that my job exists as a stop-gap. I do data quality curation, so my day is checking the results of machine algorithms and dealing with what they can't handle--since we get millions of records a month, there's no way they could all be checked by hand and no need to do it when well over 99% of the work can be automated. But automation keeps getting better, and that means the space for what I do now is continually shrinking. Eventually, it'll be gone. Not this year, probably not in the next five years, but almost certainly before I retire.

(Incidentally, this is one reason why I save so much of our income. I'm trying to get ahead of the curve while I can )

And then I think about the last year we were in Japan, after Suzugamine cancelled its contract with Lang due to a shrinking student body (shrinking so much that it later merged with another school and changed its name), when I was out of work. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd told me to treat it like a vacation, and that I could get a job when we got back to America and she was in grad school. We made an attempt to look for work closer to Chiyoda, but there wasn't much to be found, and in the end that's what I did. I taught the eikaiwa we had, but otherwise I studied Japanese, walked around the neighborhood, and played video games.

Like the article says, it was fine. I really enjoyed much of that year, though in the end I was having serious sleeping problems and it was clearly having an effect on me. But while I regret not doing more Japanese studying during that year, playing games was fun. It was interesting and challenging. The lack of a job didn't bother me at all. And why not? Unlike life, video games are fair. They have understandable rules that can be challenged and mastered, and predictable results from those rules. And if they don't fit those criteria, they're often bad games, and there are other games to play. There's no other lives to life.

That's one of the few things that provides me some hope about the automation apocalypse. Large groups of unemployed young men is usually a route to massive social unrest, if not outright revolution. If those young men are fine without work as long as they get to play video games, and if robots can do the work, well...why not let them? With some kind of basic income scheme rather than having people fight over increasingly dwindling jobs, which is what we're currently having people do? There will be massive social hurdles to overcome--"what do you mean, I'm working and my taxes are paying for him to play World of Warcraft 2?!"--but it seems like the only option that doesn't end in massive bloodshed or social unrest.

That part I'm less optimistic about. But at least I have a little hope.
dorchadas: (Grue)
For all the time I spent on DOS games in my youth, I don't go back and play them very often nowadays, even compared to how often I go back and play old console games that I used to like. Some of that is because many of the games I liked were, objectively, not very good. Replaying Jill of the Jungle reminded me how inferior it is to Super Mario Brothers 3, with the central conceit of changing forms seemingly like an afterthought and the save system removing all challenge except for going for the maximum score possible, but without the bragging rights of playing in an arcade.

But other games were great, and Solar Winds is one of them.


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Ach, mein discourse!

2017-Feb-08, Wednesday 09:51
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Multiple people have sent me this article about a parody of Wolfenstein 3D that relates to the current controversy. It is not subtle, but neither are Nazi calls for genocide. Hiyooo!  photo emot-sun.gif

Though actually, I think this is an excellent example of games as art, using the mechanics of the game to support its central point. "Isn't fascism just another political ideology?" you consider. What about their free speech? Isn't the best way to deal with bad speech more speech? If you resort to violence, aren't you no better than them?

And meanwhile the Nazis keep advancing, and keep shooting, and keep shooting, until you are dead. Because they don't care about free speech except insofar as it allows them to subvert and destroy liberal democracy from within. As the article says:
Naturally, people playing by a completely different set of rules will take advantage of this, and you’ll suffer.
This and a version of Papers, Please set in Dulles Airport are the games of our time.
dorchadas: (Link and Zelda together)
This is the game in the lineup I was most worried about replaying.

I mean, even a cursory search on the internet will find an enormous crowd of people who think that Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made, or at least in the top five. I still remember the first time I played it--I have my original gold cartridge sitting by our television--and how amazing it seemed coming from the first Zelda game, since I had only played Zelda II on a brief rental and never owned an SNES or Game Boy. Going from 8-bit self-contained screens to a giant expansive world? Running across Hyrule Prairie that first time, seeing Death Mountain in the distance and getting that "you can go there" feeling that Todd Howard mentioned in an interview about Skyrim? Combat trading sword blows, dodging and circling? It was amazing!

It was amazing, I won't deny that. At the time I first played it, I thought Ocarina of Time was the greatest game I had ever played. But I figured that it was mostly nostalgia and that since much of the amazement was based on technical innovation that had long since been obsolete, I'd have to force myself to play through this to get to Majora's Mask and then other Zelda games I haven't played.

I'm glad to say that's not the case. It's not the greatest game ever made, but I had a lot of fun with Ocarina of Time.


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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I first became aware of Hyper Light Drifter a couple years ago, after the kickstarter had finished but before there was much more info available about it, when I saw this promotional image that seared itself into my brain.



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dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Judging from the graphical style I was playing Super Mario World, though not with any level set I knew. There was some kind of extra secret level mechanic, whereby completing a set of very specific conditions in a level would warp you to another level, provide a suite of power ups, and off you go. I was trying to get past a particular jump out of a pit that required jumping on the heads of three enemies in succession when I triggered one of those warp conditions and was pulled into a new level where I became...fire bat Mario. I warped in, assumed bat form and mounted on Yoshi among the gnarled, dark trees, a flame appeared and set Mario on fire, and then, Castlevania bats started flying in from both sides.

Then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came in and woke me up, so I'll never know what fire bat Mario's powers are.  photo emot-psyduck.gif

Lyrics of the Fayth

2016-Dec-24, Saturday 22:36
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
So yesterday I was looking up the lyrics of the Hymn of the Fayth from Final Fantasy X, and after a bit of searching, I found a page that listed them as:
Ieyui (pray)
Nobomeno (savior)
Renmiri (dream)
Yojuyogo (child of prayer)
Hasatekanae (forever and ever)
Kutamae. (Grant us peace)
And I thought that can't be right, unless it's an invented language. So I decided to look up 祈りの歌 (Inori no Uta, "The Song of Prayer"), the Hymn of the Fayth's Japanese title, and see if I could find more information on it that way.

The first page I looked at, I found this picture and looking at it, without reading any of the other text, suddenly everything made sense:

 photo AB95ECF9-E762-40B9-A30E-FA9FFE2C2FA8.jpg

Red and green added by me.

I always thought the words of the Hymn of the Fayth were nonsense, but apparently they're based on a syllable scramble! The song is sung from top to bottom, left to right, red part, then green part. That gives the lyrics above. But if you read it left to right, top to bottom, then it's actually Japanese and reads
Inore yo
Ebon-ju
Yumemiyo
Inorigo
Hatenaku
Sakaetamae
Which translates to:
Pray,
Yu-Yevon
Dream,
O Fayth
Without ceasing
Make us prosper.
That's where the lyrics above came from.

Of course, all this is in the wiki article about the song, so I could have just looked there. But I didn't, and I'm happy I figured this out.
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I suppose I should technically put "Hero Quest I" in the title, but I'll get to that.

I grew up on Sierra adventures, your Kings' Quest and Spaces' Quest. But those actually came later. The first Sierra adventure game I ever played was this one, at a friend's house when we were playing around on his parents' computer. I really took to its weird combination of genre styles and, ignoring the message at the beginning of the game about piracy, I borrowed the disks from him and copied the game to my computer, where I proceeded to play it obsessively. This was around when Quest for Glory III: Wages of War came out, so I bought that and imported my character--which blew my mind, by the way--and continued his adventures, and that began a love affair that lasted to this day.

I'm not the only one. I played Heroine's Quest last year, a game that was clearly and obviously inspired by the Quest for Glory games. But I haven't played the original in over a decade, and now that I'm on vacation, and since I still remember the solutions to all the puzzles, why not?


You called?

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dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
I am not a member of the Pokemon generation.

Like I've mentioned before, I got out of consoles after the NES, so my first introduction to Pokemon as something more than that thing people talked about that I didn't know anything about at all was in Smash Brothers, so I thought of pokemon as basically natural disasters. Sometimes they were avoidable, sometimes not, and sometimes you could control them and really annoy your friends by spamming lightning bolts. But nothing about the context around them. And then while we were on the road to Chiyoda, Pokemon Go came out in Japan and I finally managed to create an account and play the game. And for whatever reason, I find it really fun and still play basically every day. Mass Transit makes it easy.

Then year is the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, and so I thought now is definitely the time. And after consulting my friends, and then ignoring most of their advice, and loaded up a copy of Pokemon Fire Red--in Japanese, for the practice--and set out on my journey to ポケモンゲットだぜ! (pokemon getto da ze!, uh, something like, "Pokemon, I'm gonna get them!")


I love how overconfident my rival was, since he lost literally every battle with me.

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dorchadas: (Warcraft Burning Moonkin)
For how long I've kept this blog--over a decade at this point--and how much time I spent playing World of Warcraft, I wrote surprisingly little about it. The last time I remember checking the /played on Manaan, my balance druid and the subject of the user picture on this entry, it was something like 410 days. Over six years, that's over four hours a day on average. I played a lot of World of Warcraft. If you check the blog tag, there's one post about the RPG campaign I want to run, two posts about my memories of playing, and two posts from the very beginning of my playing time. Almost nothing else. I guess when I was playing all the time, I didn't feel like I needed to write about it? The fish does not see the water, and so on.

Well, eventually I grew disenchanted and drifted away, and nothing I've seen since has ever convinced me to go back. Not even finally adding a real travel form. I spent six years turning into a cheetah by clicking on a hoof icon, but the pull is not strong enough.

I still really like the Warcraft setting, though. I want to run that game, I've bought the art books that I didn't get in the collector's sets that I own, and last night, I received something else I've been after for a while:

Moonkin statue

With art book for a backdrop.

Here's a dirty secret--I actually never liked Moonkin Form. I thought it was silly and didn't like the idea that druids needed to transform to accomplish anything. I do think moonkin are cute, though, and I spent years staring at feathery moonkin butt, so I have a big soft spot for them. I can see them now in my mind, wandering around Winterspring.

I set this guy up on my computer desk, where I keep most of my computer gaming memorabilia. I don't have much there, and don't usually want much there, but this was worth getting.
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd doesn't like the dark. I do. That's the way of it. Left up to myself, I leave most if not all the lights in the apartment out, since the light filtering in from the alley outside through what few openings are left in the curtains we have up is enough for me to see by. Even at night, I usually don't bother to turn on the lights when I get up and move around. The apartment layout doesn't change, after all, and my night vision is pretty good. But sometimes, when I come home, the curtains are open and all the lights are on as [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd soaks up the light.  photo Dawn.png

The last couple nights, I've been reading a Let's Play of a Japanese RPG Maker game called Corpse Party. You can probably tell what kind of game it is from the title, and even though the links to the music and sound had vanished into the internet ether--sadly, since they're the highlight--I still found it creepy enough that before I went to sleep last night, I left the living room light on.

It would have made more sense when we lived in Japan, since we basically lived in a J-Horror house. We literally had an abandoned house right next to ours, plus another abandoned compound just down the street. We had steep stairs with no railing that a spirit could easily have pushed us to our deaths down.  photo japan001.gif But here, where three quarters of the apartment is always visible from any other point in it?

Well, it's the dark. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was worried that I would think less of her when she told me that she didn't like the dark, but I don't. The dark is scary! And who knows what could be out there. I can tell myself whatever I want, but my instincts are the instincts of a savannah-dwelling ape who stayed with the group or huddled by the fire and lived, while those who knew there was nothing out there were eaten by lions. So it took me a long time to fall asleep, and while I didn't have nightmares that I remember, I woke up an hour and a half before my alarm.

Maybe it's also that the game takes place in a school. I taught in a Japanese school, and I've been in other schools. They're all laid out pretty similarly, so it was easy for me to convert the minimal RPG Maker graphics in my mind into what a decayed, rotting school would actually look like. Maybe more effective than if the graphics had been more realistic.

Usually I'm fine in the dark, but it doesn't take much.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
I still remember the day that I first played Super Mario Bros. 3. My grandparents were visiting, one of the few times they came out to visit rather than having us come to them, and my grandmother had brought a copy of the game just released that year. I had already read all about it in Nintendo Power, and I think to this day it might be the present I have anticipated the most in my entire life. When she gave it to me I literally danced all around the room, yelling "Thank you!" over and over again. Then I sat down with the Nintendo, then plugged in at the TV in the living room, and booted the game up.

It was just as great as I was led to believe. I've never seen The Wizard, but I understand why Nintendo used it as an opportunity to market the game. People call that movie a feature-length commercial, but honestly, SMB3 deserves a commercial of that length. It is, to this day, my favorite Mario game.



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dorchadas: (Baldur's Gate II)
That was a wild ride. And in some ways, I don't have much to say because I said it all already.

Baldur's Gate II hasn't unseated Morrowind as my favorite game, but it came really close. Morrowind has its mythological exploration and interesting cultures, and Baldur's Gate II has the relationships between the PC and the other party members. This is where Bioware romances started, and while they were pretty basic in their original forms, with only four romanceable NPCs and only one for a female PC, the basic structure allowed a thousand mods to bloom. Some of them good, like Xan, some of them...less so.

I wish I had written down my time through Baldur's Gate as well, because that really would have provided a complete experience. That full zero-to-hero arc is part of what makes Baldur's Gate I and II so amazing to me. In the very beginning, 250 hours of gameplay ago , Chiyo was a sheltered orphan in Candlekeep and nearly died when an assassin set upon her in the stables of her home. Years later, she fought off a powerful elven wizard in hell for custody of her soul, and this isn't even the end of her story. The Throne of Bhaal awaits.

Eventually. I'm not diving into that quite yet.

In the end, I was mostly happy with my list of mods except for Sword Coast Stratagems. I had it set so that pre-buffing was only on NPCs that the designers thought would reasonably have buffed before engaging the PCs, but that was much more extensive than I would have expected. And there were egregious moments, like stripping all the party's buffs between phases in the final battle but still allowing Irenicus to autobuff. If I could go back, I'd keep the spell AI but turn off almost everything else, including the harder battles. Those are obviously designed for someone willing to use a lot of the exploits that I turned off, like allowing simulacrums and projected images to use quickslot items, or keeping Vhailor's Helm--which I modded out of the game--on the PC and then using simulacrum/time stop cheese to do a ton of damage to enemies during time stops. I said in my original post that I'm in favor of difficulty-increasing mods as long as it doesn't mean the AI cheats, and it fell down too much on the AI cheating for my taste. It was just annoying, reducing every battle to wizards stripping buffs from each other, as I mentioned in probably a dozen posts.

The stand-out mods for me were the banter pack, which increases the number of inter-party banters, and the Xan romance mod. I took so long in Chapters 2 and 3 that almost all of the non-Imoen banters were exhausted during the time, but without the banter mod I probably would have run out of banter in the first ten hours or so. And Xan's romance... Kawaii heart emoji photo heart_emoji_by_kawaiiprincess2-d51re77.gif It's cheesy in places, but I installed it as a parody of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my relationship, with Chiyo as the eternally-chipper half and Xan as the doom and gloom half. I totally forgot the vampire dreams, which add a lot of context to Xan's eternal gloominess. It was mostly a well-written displace of understated emotion, with Xan's love coming out in little gestures unless Chiyo was under threat. The most memory part was probably when Chiyo picked a fight with a red dragon and Xan rushed over to her afterward.

If I could change anything, I'd go back and add more dialogue to the earlier sections. When I first started I would take notes while I played and do the write-ups later, so I had the gist of what was said rather than the specifics. Later on I would write the posts while I played, so I spent a lot of time transcribing dialogue. Some of that is because I was more interested in transcribing the text of plot-important dialogue rather than all the quests I was on, but part of it was wanting to more accurately preserve the experience. I might go back at some point and edit some earlier posts with the exact dialogue for more of the banter, since that's the best part.

The end of the game jumped right into Throne of Bhaal, but I'm not going to. I've been playing this game on and off for a year and a half, and the original reason I started, other than never having beaten it before, is I wanted to play the original before I played all the kickstarted isometric RPGs that were inspired by the old Infinity Engine games. And now I've done that, and I can go play Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity with a clean conscience. Probably Wasteland II first. I need a break from fantasy worlds.

Forgotten Realms as a setting seems almost overwhelming, but Baldur's Gate II presents it in a very digestible format. It really dials into the world, with the extended period in a drow city, the random githyanki that show up wanting their silver sword, the society of the elves and their gods, and Irenicus's plan.

Now I can see why Irenicus is so well-loved as a villain. Some of it is David Warner's voice acting, spoiled extensively here, but some of it is that I have a soft spot for "become a god" plots. Also, it's the way that he plans ahead. Insinuating Yoshimo into the party--when I first played the game, I took Yoshimo willingly and I would have been caught completely be surprise by his betrayal--setting up Spellhold as a trap, making common cause with the drow, starting the guild war in Athkatla...while it seems that he's distant and not paying attention for much of the game, in retrospect it's obvious that all the major plots that aren't quests to go get money, like the aforementioned quest to deal with a dragon, are the results of his plots. There are so many RPGs where the villain doesn't seem to be doing much during the game, or where the "true villain" suddenly reveals itself at the end despite never previously showing up at all *cough*FFIV*cough* that seeing one where he's so well-integrated is a joy. And most of the time, when he talked, I wouldn't skip past his dialogue because I wanted to hear the voice acting.

What a fantastic game. It took me almost 150 hours, but it was time well spent and I'm looking forward to Throne of Bhaal...eventually.
dorchadas: (Baldur's Gate II)
This is it. The final battle and the end of the game. After more than a year of playing--my first post shows that I started this back in June of last year--I finally finished one of the greatest WRPGs ever created.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. This isn't my final thoughts, this is the story of how I stabbed Irenicus and everyone working for him right in the face. So let's get to that. Meanwhile, in hell...
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dorchadas: (Baldur's Gate II)
I know I've said that I was out of other things to do several times before, but this time I really mean it. All that's left is to eliminate Irenicus's minions in Suldanessellar, free the elves, and take the fight to Irenicus. I have a high-level party, I have powerful weapons and armor, and I'm ready. Let's do this.

But first, Moon Prism Power Makeup!
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