dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Why do bad things happen to good people? What purpose does suffering serve? Is there some greater end, some trial through which G-d is putting us with the ultimate goal of tempering us, like steel hammered out on the forge? Or is it just a part of life that we have to learn to deal with, and maintain our own composure and avoid temptation while doing so? Does G-d understand the compromises that we have to make to exist in the imperfect world, or does He gaze sternly upon us and demand better?

And if you think there's a lot of questions in the preceeding paragraph, you should see some of the dialogue in this game.

The Shivah is the first commercial game by Dave Gilbert, of Wadjet Eye fame, though I wouldn't have guessed that just from playing it. That's partially because this is the "Kosher Edition," with voice acting and revamped graphics, but also because it's polished and very well designed without a lot of the pitfalls that adventure games usually fall into. I felt more like an investigator during the Shivah than I ever did during Gabriel Knight, and without any of the latter game's sleaziness. The Shivah is grounded, which is its greatest strength.

The Shivah detective rabbi
Adventure games.

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dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
This is the game with the hat.

There's a Capcom logo that comes up every time I loaded up Minish Cap, but without that, there would have been nothing to tell me that this wasn't developed internally by Nintendo. The internet tells me that it's the same Capcom team who handled both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, so they had practice at squeezing Legend of Zelda down into a portable format. And that practice paid off, because they shaved off much of the weirdness and clunkiness from their earlier attempts and made a great Zelda game that's simple enough to not overstay its welcome but has plenty to do for people who want it. I mostly did not want it, and that's okay! I enjoyed what parts of the game I played a lot.

The Japanese title is straight and to the point: fushigi no bōshi, "the mysterious hat."

Legend of Zelda Minish Cap oversleeping
Yep, he's the hero alright.

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dorchadas: (Link to the Past Comic Master Sword)
Originally I wasn't even going to play this on my chrono-gaming march toward Breath of the Wild. It's not a mainline Zelda game, after all. Then I happened to be reading an old interview with Aonuma Eiji that mentioned that there used to be a lot more story in the game about the Imprisoning War before Miyamoto came in, pulled a ちゃぶ台返し and most of the story was thrown out. I saw elsewhere that Four Sword Adventures featured Gufū (Eng: Vaati) as the villain, making it a good lead-in to The Minish Cap. And when I posted about it on Facebook, several people said they had a great time with it, so on the list it went.

I remember reading about it when Four Swords Adventures came out, but while I did have my sister's GameCube, I didn't have a Game Boy Advance, and I certainly didn't have four of them. Of my friends at the time, I think only [livejournal.com profile] sephimb had one. Four Swords Adventures sounded like a great game, but even at the time I remember people complaining about the high investment cost, and I lost interest and never actually realized that it doesn't require multiplayer. Dolphin does allow for multiplayer with Four Swords Adventures, but from the minimal research I did, it's a giant headache and anyway I don't have three other people to play with. The game is still plenty of fun by oneself.

The Japanese name just means "four swords" (yottsu no tsurugi +), though it's a little odd. Japanese uses counters for specific objects, like 人 for people, 冊 for printed or bound books, and so on. Long, thin objects, including swords, usually take 本, so I would expect the title to be yonhon no tsurugi. There may be some subtlety in the title that escapes me.

Legend of Zelda Four Swords Waterfall and Rainbow
This is probably my favorite screenshot I took.

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Happy 25th anniversary, Kirby!

I ordered a bon voyage Kirby plush since they were available for the anniversary, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I started watching the Kirby anime, but of course, Kirby started out as a video game character. What better way to celebrate his existence than by playing the games that birthed him? I originally thought about playing Kirby's Adventure, the first Kirby game I ever played and the one that cemented my love for the series, but that's a several-hour commitment if I want to find all the secrets and unlock every part of the map. Kirby's Dream Land is bite-sized. I finished it in an hour and a half and it was fantastic.

Strange, coming primarily from later games, but fantastic.

Kirby's Dream Land eat enemy
Kirby, just let Waddle Dee waddle be!

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dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
Wind Waker is one of the few Zelda games I've played and beaten around the time it came out, along with only the original Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time. My sister owned a GameCube and kept up with the releases, though she never played the games for that long. She pre-ordered the limited edition--I still have the bonus disc with the Ocarina of Time Master Quest on it--and I'm not sure she ever played it, but when I came home from university that summer, I did. I played through and beat the game without reading any of the online invective about it and I really liked it. I didn't care about the happy, cartoony graphics. That was the year that Call of Duty first came out, and I was busy playing Morrowind and Warcraft III. Something light and happy was refreshing, especially when I spent every weekday at a summer job that I hated and was going to spend the next semester studying abroad in Ireland. At the time, it might even have been my favorite Zelda game.

On replaying, it's still good, but the cracks stand out to me in a way they didn't then.

The Japanese title, as is often true, is simple and straightforward--kaze no takuto, "The Baton of the Winds."

Wind Waker - Ship firing Cannon at shore
Incoming!

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dorchadas: (Default)
King's Quest as a series was introduced to me by the same friend who showed me Hero's QuestQuest for Glory. We played King's Quest I, in all its EGA and text-parser magnificence, and while I fondly remember its fairy-tale aesthetic and falling into the king's moat and being eaten by crocodiles, we never got particularly far. We never reached an unwinnable situation because we would always die before solving anything. But that made an impression, and I grew up playing Sierra games.

My favorite Sierra games are still the the Quests for Glory, but King's Quest VI is my favorite King's Quest out of the ones I've played until now (I, V-VIII). King's Quest V is too arbitrary and full of situations that require advance knowledge of to beat, like throwing the boot at the cat so that the rat will rescue Graham in his cell later or beating a yeti with a pie, that I didn't want to replay it and I didn't want to subject [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to it, so we watched a longplay of it. I didn't own King's Quest VII at the time we started playing and anyway it has a different style and interface than the older games, so wasn't going to begin with that one. We do not speak of King's Quest VIII. But King's Quest VI is the best iteration of the early King's Quest games, with understandable puzzles, a whimsical setting, and a minimum of no-win situations. I thought it would be fun for us to play together, and I was right.

King's Quest 6 Ignorance Kills
The credo of adventure games.

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dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
Warcraft is the series that I've put the most time into. Even completely ignoring World of Warcrafr--my main had something like 450 days /played by the time I lost interest in the game in in 2011--Warcraft III was my go-to game for pretty much all of university. I'd work on a paper for a while, load up WCIII and play a quick game, then go back to the paper. Back in high school, instead it was Warcraft II, and I was good enough that our team placed second in a tournament that the high school games club ran entirely on the strength of my performance. I mean, one of my team members forgot to build a town hall.

Warcraft I, though, I have less experience with. I came into the fandom (as the kids say nowadays) with WCII, so I got used to that game's much more capable interface. I eventually borrowed the install discs from a friend and played through Warcraft I, and then after I beat it I never went back.

Until now.

Warcraft I humans vs orcs battle
Welcome to the world of Warcraft.

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dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
I was originally planning to play both Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages--fushigi no kinomi -jikū no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Time-Space Chapter-"--together and then write a joint review because I wasn't sure there was enough difference beween them to warrant separate treatments. Obviously, now I know that's wrong. They have the same premise, where Link is tested by the Triforce and dumped into a land that may or may not really exist, but beyond that and the basic gameplay conceits of the Legend of Zelda series nearly everything is different. Oracle of Seasons focused on combat and the end result was mostly a disappointment for me, but Oracle of Ages focused on puzzles and that was a much better choice for the format. If I had played this game first and then played Seasons, I might have been happier overall. This is definitely my favorite of the two.

Oracle of Ages Nayru's Song

"Quiet! I can't hear Nayru's song!"

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
For a game that seems mostly forgotten and whose legacy only survives through cameos in the Kirby games, I got a big response to Adventures of Lolo when I posted a screenshot of a level on Facebook. I never played it as a child, but I looked at the images in Nintendo Power published as part of the Counselor's Corner and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. And like so many other games I saw in Nintendo Power, I stuck it in the back of my mind, carried it through the years, and waited until I got a chance to play it. It's worth it.



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dorchadas: (JCDenton)
​Before I begin, I have a disclaimer: [personal profile] theome bought this game for me for the purposes of he thought I would like it. And so it is with a heavy heart that I say that I...don't.

I had such high hopes! I put Read Only Memories on my Steam wishlist basically as soon as I heard about it. A new adventure game, with pixel art, in a cyberpunk setting with a robot as one of the major characters and made by the people behind GaymerX? That sounds amazing! And when I started it I was having a lot of fun, but as I played the annoyances started to pile up until an event near the end of the game that completely cut me off from caring about the story. Then it was just clicking through a lot of text boxes until the end so I could finish.


Symbolism.

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dorchadas: (Toon Link)
I'm not sure I had even heard of Oracle of Seasons--in Japanese, fushigi no kinomi -daichi no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Land Chapter-"--before I set out on my Zelda chronogaming quest. It was twinned together with Oracle of Ages and released in 2001, the height of my anti-console snobbery. My loss. But the march of time and technological progress means I can go back to those games that I missed and play them now, when I'll appreciate them. Truly, we live in the the golden age of gaming.

Oracle of Seasons is another weird portable entry, starting a trend that began with Link's Awakening and continuing to this day. The mainline console entries, with the exception of Majora's Mask, are the traditional Zelda games where Link fights Ganon and rescues the Princess, and the handheld games are the ones where he talks to a psychedelic winged whale, rides trains, and plumbs the depths of the same dungeon a dozen times. Or here, uses the progression of the seasons to save a land where the seasons have been thrown into disorder.


Link's dancing was already disordered.

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dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I heard about Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Bonfireside Chat, as a game that was similar to some aspects of the Souls games that they really liked. Then I heard it was a metroidvania game. Well, that's all I need to hear. Sign me up.

I bought it, loaded it up, and took in the beautiful pixel art and moody music. And then I moved forward and was brutally murdered by a chibi with a shield.


A deadly ambush.

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dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
Metroid II is the only Game Boy game I've played for longer than a few minutes. One of my sister's friends had a Game Boy, and for some reason that is still opaque to this day, her mother asked me to babysit for them. That mainly consisted of the friend watching TV while I played Metroid II, confusing myself with the changes between that and Metroid. Having to hunt metroids? Jumping morph ball? Trying to play a metroid game on a 160 x 144 pixel screen? I played for about half an hour, got nowhere, and then never played it again.

When I heard about Another Metroid 2 Remake, I figured it would end up vaporware like the various 3D Link's Awakening remakes or shut down before being released like Chrono Resurrection. To my utter astonishment, however, it was finished, released, and was out for almost a month before Nintendo DMCAed it. That was more than enough time for the internet to seize hold of it, and it's easy to find if you spend any time looking.


Threat detected

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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: (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: (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: (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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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: (Blue Rose)
I don't usually go to see a movie for a variety of reasons, but as a Christmas present--they can call it for the holidays all they want, but everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas knows what it really is--the vice president of our unit gave everyone two free tickets to an AMC movie, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd mentioned wanting to go see Rogue One, so I told her I would go see it. And today, we did.

Further comments in the spoiler below:

Spoilers )

It's a pretty good movie with some flaws that annoyed me, but not enough to ruin my experience.
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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