Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Modest Proposal

So I ended up watching the new Star Wars movie yesterday (this being a thing that my mother considers a much higher priority than other, more ordinary movie franchises), and I have to say it was pretty decent. (I was very happy, when all was said and done, with numerous casting decisions, with certain writing choices, and with choice of superweapon.*)

Which isn't to say it was perfect. Out of the things I can think of that aren't some manner of spoiler, I think the biggest problem I had was the... rather fuzzy sense of motion and spatial relationships that the movie had. Not counting the scene that was total nonsense in terms of astrophysics (and not in a "but this is a fictional universe" way) but was also a spoiler**, there were a lot of scenes where there was an odd sense that the arrangement of characters and objects was just not quite right, and there were a few scenes that really stood out as not making any sense.

Say what you like about the prequels and the unfortunate editing decisions from the special editions, but George Lucas is an amazing director when it comes to motion and space, and they had a consistent action style with each other and with the original trilogy. Never did I watch a Lucas-directed Star Wars movie and wonder what the hell was going on with respect to where Group A and Group B were relative to each other, but it happened to me two or three times during this film. And based on my completely unprofessional survey of a single comment section discussing the movie, I was not the only one who had this problem.

Unfortunately, I think the approach Hollywood takes to directing movies is probably the wrong approach. Having a single director monolithically control a film is going to get you a product that's not as good as if you had a team of directors actually working together.

Michael Bay, while he makes drecky movies, is also a special effects/physics director nearly on par with George Lucas, but, well, everything else about his movies tends to be pretty bad, and he's also kind of a disgusting sexist pig. J.J. Abrams' directing is solid at plenty, but just isn't quite up to complicated science fiction action scenes. And I'm sure there are other cases of directors who are pretty good at this and that and the other thing but not at something else that's potentially important.

And during an admittedly wonky moment on my part, I found myself suggesting to my sister that the solution was probably (thanks to Hollywood being full of big egos who are unlikely to enjoy being forced to get along in the way I'd prefer) to create a Frankenstein's monster out of a whole bunch of different directors, picking and choosing their best traits and combining them into a single supreme director who would then be in charge of every big-budget film.

I find myself thinking it'd probably be the easier way to get better movies.

*If you're not concerned about the SPOILER aspect... (Relatively minor spoilers below.)

I like the amount of diversity in the cast. I mean, I think they probably should have had a few more alien characters who were more prominent, but the amount of human diversity in the film was very nice.

I also like the degree of sympathetic and interesting that the stormtroopers were allowed to be. And I liked that one guy with the vibro-tonfa, he was a badass. (And I just have to shake my head at the people who complain about the scene. It was there because it was awesome, you jerks.) On the other hand, I thought that the character death was SUPER predictable and pretty meh.

Finally, while I thought that the bit of phallic comparison during the analysis scene was pretty terrible (see this little thing? It's the old superweap-NOW HERE IS THE NEW ONE SEE ITS HUGENESS AND BE JEALOUS), I kinda thought the over-the-topness of the Starkiller was awesome (I'm aware that quite a few fans of Star Wars didn't like it at all). It actually stems back to a conversation I had back around when the EU was handwaved out of continuity; I was being annoyed about it and about certain smug internet personalities who were crowing about the fact that the EU was gone because it meant that the Galaxy Gun and the Sun Crusher and other ridiculously powerful EU superweapons were also gone. In a fit of pique, I'd turned to my sister and shouted something about hoping a rapid-firing Galaxy Gun with Sun Crusher ammunition would show up in the film. If you've seen the Starkiller scene and know anything about those EU superweapons, well, the Starkiller is surprisingly close to actually being that. I joked after actually watching the film that the next superweapon was going to be a weaponized gas giant that ate galaxies as fuel.

**I'd like to know just how one of the planets that blew up was approximately as visible in the sky of the planet the characters were on as if it were as close as a moon orbiting the planet would have been. I'm willing to accept all the target planets being visible during the superweapon firing scene as artistic license, but that other bit was just a hot pile of BS. If there'd ever been any evidence that Star Wars astrophysics were similar to, say, Treasure Planet astrophysics, I'd probably have been fine with it, but there's never been any such; we're usually led to assume that physics in Star Wars are similar except where they're shown to be different.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 28, 2015

And Now, A Little Nightmare Fuel

Courtesy of RPGMaker MV's demo (MV being the most recent version of RPGMaker), one of the most genuinely horrifying demons you're ever likely to see:

What's amazing about this is that it's described only with the generic moniker "demon." It's not "parasitoid demon" or "wearing-a-hapless-angel-as-a-tail-ornament demon." It's just "demon."

I'm kind of iffy on a lot of MV's creature art in terms of art style, but I actually really like the design aesthetic it brings to the table; it's probably the most imaginative art in any of the RPGMakers.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 25, 2015


No real post today. Srry.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dora Dora Dora Dora Bandora

Reminder: The character from whom Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers villain Rita Repulsa was derived, Bandora, was known for at least occasional music numbers.

I apologize for the general catchiness of the song.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Demon God Is Moping

If the title seems incongruous, well, it actually makes perfect sense in its original context.

By far my favorite thing about playing with RPGMaker VXAce Lite so far is configuring the Dragon Quest-style* text notifications for the skills and status effects. (There's other messages that are hypothetically editable which the Lite version won't permit to be edited; a bit disappointing, to be true, but I can tolerate it until I decide if I want to purchase it or not.) There are default styles that can be configured automatically for the skills, but custom messages are much more fun.

Case in point:

"Demon God sings a horrifying song! The party found the lyrics offensive!" (Demon God is, in this case, me using a preexisting enemy design-art, name, basic concept-in a similar but also somewhat different way to the default design. I'll give the VXAce base package this much: Its enemy battle designs, i.e. skills, vulnerabilities, etc., are a big improvement over RPGMaker XP's, which are universally generic and boring as heck.)

And of course, there's also the status effect I came up with that has notifications including "[name]'s heart was broken!", "[name] is moping.", and "[name] got over that broken heart." Hence the title of this post, "Demon God is moping."**

*Dragon Quest was a rather odd hybrid of pictures and old-fashioned text-based adventure games, all things considered. Of course, it's also the most popular JRPG series inside the borders of Japan itself, to the point where it's basically the generic symbol that represents the concept of video games in Japan. As such, the basic configuration of VXAce feels like it's essentially supposed to be a Dragon Quest clone, to the point where I described it to my sister as "Dragon Quest Something: Dragon Questier."

**Actually, my version of Demon God (which is a lot stronger than the default version*** to compensate for the stronger player characters and freely flowing experience points in the practice game I've been building) can't use its strongest attack while that status is attached. So when Demon God is moping, the party's a lot safer than they might be otherwise.

***Roughly a million hitpoints (the most the default engine permits) and innate regeneration at roughly ten thousand hitpoints a turn (which is actually the lowest regeneration rate that the engine will permit for an enemy with so many hitpoints), just for starters. Stronger negative status effect infliction than the original Demon God's (who was pretty good at it), for another. I'm actually still tweaking that "strongest attack" I mentioned above, because it's hard to get good damage calculations, though realizing that this Demon God is basically always going to fight a level 99 party will eventually help a lot, once I've built new equipment for the characters. As it is, the default characters can use basic equipment and a playtest item or two to beat it pretty consistently even though each character currently has exactly one skill that they can only use as a sort of "limit break." Even without the playtest item, they can still beat it most of the time just through judicious use of the Guard command and lots of healing and attack items-I do still need to configure more of Demon God's status resistances.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Seemed Like A Good Idea to Revisit This Subject Before New Year's

On one occasion, I mentioned that there was a game with some really weird stuff in it that was supposedly set in 2015.

How weird is said stuff?

Pretty flipping weird.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Make Up Your Mind, Breath of Fire Series

I've mentioned the Breath of Fire JRPG series a few times recently, and because I've been watching a lot of junk on YouTube about it, it's rather at the forefront of my mind at the moment.

Thus, under this embed of a piece of boss music I'm going to do a little bit of aimless rambling about it.

I mentioned on a previous occasion that one of the things about the Breath of Fire series is that it seems to like game mechanics that other JRPGs avoid for the most part, most notably the fusion systems found in the first few games.

Each of the games' fusion systems was a bit different (I mention this here). This is perfectly acceptable in and of itself, and as the games are mostly nonlinear stories seemingly set in the same world, not generally a big deal. Except...

Well, the first game's primary use of fusion involved certain specific relatively specialized characters. Once you had enough characters that the whole party couldn't participate in a battle at once, one of the more specialized characters (i.e. one with narrow uses normally) gained the ability to cast a spell that would let him merge with two other relatively specialized characters, which gave him no new combat abilities but did send his stats through the roof. Over time, he'd gain more spells of a similar nature, until he finally got one that let him merge with all three of the potential fusion candidates at once, the result being even more of a combat monster. (Since the game featured eight playable characters, this fusion character represented half of the game's roster, and since you could only have four characters in the party, having that final fusion character was kind of like having 75% more characters in your party at once.) Then, towards the end of the game the game's Ryu gained a dragon form which was also a fusion form which included the entire party. (While generally awesome, it should also be noted that this turned the battles where you could use it into something of a simplistic "I hit you, you hit me, repeat until I need to heal, start over at step one" affair, because the mega dragon fusion didn't have any actual special combat abilities, just massive attack power and comparably impressive defense. Fortunately, the Breath of Fire games have an autobattle feature that means you can just sit back and watch.)

The third game's only use of fusion (there's a reason I'm going out of order) was when that game's Ryu unlocked certain dragon forms and fused with party members; this worked a bit like the first game's fusions, though from what I can tell the fusions had many more special characteristics than brute force.

The second game's use of fusion went in a completely different direction. Rather than involving multiple party members, each fusion involved a single party member and one or two of a certain group of NPCs. This basically was a big power-up that tended to give a new ability as well as greatly enhanced stats (depending on how you mixed and matched the NPCs with the party members) and a new appearance. But there's a key difference: The game's Ryu is one of two characters* not able to fuse properly, and this is explicitly because he's a dragon. Specifically, being a dragon means that any attempt to create a fusion with him will cause not only a failure but a massive explosion from the power overload.

Now, this actually wouldn't necessarily be inconsistent with the first game's lore, where the dragon fusion not only ROFLstomped a goddess but needed an awful lot of worthiness-testing to achieve the ability; one could speculate that without that testing, it was just too hard to control such a powerful form (and Breath of Fire II's Ryu hadn't even fully awakened to being a dragon yet, much less learned any significant control). But from what I can tell, the fusions from the third game were fairly casual matters, and certainly didn't seem to need all the testing and whatnot that the first game involved.

So make up your mind, Breath of Fire series! Are dragon-based fusions difficult, impossible, or easy?

(Of course, each game takes place in a different time period, so there's a possible explanation involving dilution of dragon bloodlines [and II's Ryu had a non-dragon father], but that's honestly a bit... meh.)

*The other Breath of Fire II character who is unable to fuse is Bleu/Deis, a mysterious sorceress/goddess and secret character who is actually the same person in all three games, unlike Ryu, Ryu, and Ryu (or Nina, Nina, and Nina). In Breath of Fire III, she's actually an NPC, but in the first Breath of Fire she's (obviously) also a part of the full-team dragon fusion, which means by the second game's standards that's a doubly impossible fusion.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Then there was the time that the laborious effort of clearing out a garden was represented in Breath of Fire II as part of the game's battle system.

And yes, it was an actual battle, though as far as I can tell the "enemies" don't have any way of hurting the party.

-Signing off.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Probably Qualifies As A Mashup Post

Apropos of little beyond the fact that I've been looking into the Breath of Fire JRPG series generally, have a video somebody made showcasing some of the characters' fusion forms* set to the German version of the Digimon Adventure 02 Fusion/DNADigivolution theme. (Well, that's the first half-ish of the video, it trails off into regular gameplay after that.)

It's kind of astounding to me that German dubbers chose to 1) keep the Digimon series' original soundtrack and 2) give it new German lyrics.

*In the first game, there was a specific party member who could fuse other party members into himself; this actually put a special status on the other characters and changed his stats and appearance, and I believe it let him use a few of their abilities, though it was also rather heavily a form of brute force-the fused characters didn't have very versatile combat abilities, but they did have a lot of muscle, the normal attack damage potential only outdone by the main character using a boomerang because the boomerang could hit every enemy in a battle (seriously).

The second game's fusion system actually involved fusing NPCs into the characters, causing them to transform in various ways; among the more notable transformations are of the party's dogman member into what appears to be a robot with a cannon arm, the transformation of the party's monkey-like member into what rather strongly resembles a genie, the change of the giant, vaguely rhino-like armadillo man into a tiny, cartoonish pink rhino/armadillo, and the versatile transformations of the party's gender-ambiguous/agender plant person into 1) a tiny flower bud, 2) a literalized "snapdragon," and 3) a magical girl.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Theme of An Undertale Character Who's Not Sans

Going to have an annoying day tomorrow (my refrigerator's freezer section will no longer tolerate anything being placed in it, so it's getting a replacement), so here's some music and that's all for tonight.

-Signing off.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Also, The Main Character Is Always A Dragon (Hence the Title)

It's been a bit weird looking into the Breath of Fire JRPG series, because it's not one of the more popular ones overall, despite being mostly pretty good that I can tell.

Yes, it seems to have some issues, but there are certain parts of it that easily offset that; perhaps my favorite is that it happily uses certain ideas that don't get used nearly enough in JRPGs, most notably the series' fairly signature fusion abilities. In the first game, you can combine your weaker party members into more versatile party members. That's pretty awesome.

(Also, I'm pretty sure bits of it actually inspired bits of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Ancient Egypt arc; it'd be a bit too much of a coincidence for it not to have done so. It wouldn't be the first time I found that something had clearly inspired an aspect of Yu-Gi-Oh!)

-Signing off.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Let's Split Up Into The Worst Possible Groups, Gang!

There's a particular moment in Septerra Core that I have to say is one of the most amazing ideas in the whole game; it's the sort of thing that I can never decide if it's a great idea or a terrible one, but it's certainly an idea.

During the final battle, the party splits up into three groups of three, because there are two things that need to happen before you can go fight the final boss, and Maya says this:

(Maya [because the world is about to end and the piece of it they're standing on is about to become very unlivable]: "We don't have time for that! Lobo, take Araym and Led and knock out engine room one. Grubb, you take Runner and Badu and kill engine room two. Corgan, Selina and I will head to Doskias' bridge."

Screenshot taken from this video.)

This is an... interesting way to divide up the party, because it seems like a terrible idea. Let's review the teams:

Lobo, Araym, Led: Lobo and Araym are pretty much literally best friends, actually; no problem there. But Led hates Lobo because he's physically a Jinam combat cyborg and she's from Jinam's old enemy nation, Ankara. In fact, she will literally attack him at random intervals if they're in the party together during battle. (To Lobo's credit, he doesn't reciprocate this behavior, even though this is easily Led's nastiest character trait. She's not really a particularly nice or sweet person and I see no reason to hold that against her, but then she treats one of the nicest characters in the game horribly because he looks like a category of entity she's been taught to blindly hate. Racism metaphor much?)

Grubb, Runner, Badu: Grubb is a tiny nerdy guy, good at building and fixing things and casting spells. Runner is a gigantic (slightly larger than a Smart Fortwo) robot he built, with the dazzling intellect of a dog and a laser cannon in his mouth (I think it's self-explanatory why that combination of features is unnerving). Badu is a great warrior/hunter from a primitive culture/mutated human subspecies from the deepest part of the world, adapted to live in a Nausicaa-esque Mold Forest, completely blind and reliant on sonar, has Poison Spit and Vampyre (health drain) as attacks, is about as large as Runner, and armed with "knives" that together are about the size of a surfboard... and is also completely unable to speak Septerra's lingua franca. In a non-video game party situation, that would have been a bizarre and hilarious scene.

Maya, Corgan, Selina: Maya's the party leader. Corgan is from Shell Three, which was a pretty nice place until the Chosen invaded it to make its largest city into an airship base to give their living airships the water they needed for long journeys into Septerra's depths*. Selina is a former Chosen general who was nominally the leader of a unit that destroyed some outlying towns that were potentially mustering resistance... most notably Corgan's hometown. Like Led, Corgan hates Selina so much that he'll randomly attack her during battle. (Like Lobo, Selina doesn't repay in kind, mainly because she didn't actually give the orders even though she was nominally in charge, and feels personally responsible for the slaughter even though she couldn't actually have stopped it. I reckon Corgan's somewhat more justified than Led, even if it makes putting him in a party a pain in the arse sometimes.)

So I'm a little mystified at the exact logic. I mean, the plot dictates that you should use certain specific weapons, a pair of legendary magic swords, in the final battle, and Corgan and Selina are your sword people, so I pretty much get that, even if it seems a little suicidal.

That's where it gets to the brilliant/terrible/certainly an idea part:

There are three special sidequests in the game that are intended to help build up the relationships between your party members. You can complete the game without them, but they're largely intended to make this little stretch of the game go more smoothly.

Specifically, two of these sidequests require the "hated" member of the party to do something positive for the people of the "random attack jerk" party member, and that'll offset their hatred and remove that random attacking factor. Considering how the combat engine works, completing these quests is a little less "helpful" and a little more "friggin' mandatory."**

Then there's the third sidequest, which involves getting Grubb to notice that Led is totally into him, which gives the two of them some rather neat love-powered combination attacks (that are ultimately overshadowed by the magic system of the game, which is basically itself entirely a complicated but awesome combination attack system). And... those two are in different parties in this chunk of the game for whatever reason.

I think that even if Septerra Core hadn't made much of an impression on me otherwise, I'd probably have remembered it just for this.

*Septerra is made up of a bunch of floating continents arranged into seven layers or shells which move like a huge, deranged clockwork. The highest shells have the lowest numbers.

**The battle system is loosely based on the clock-based "ATB" system found in many JRPGs. Each character has three "ranks" of attack strength, and to a point, the longer you wait the stronger your attacks will be. This is most vital for the spell system, the Fate Cards, where you combine multiple characters' moves to create spells of up to three parts to unleash the strongest attacks in the game, generally things like summon magic and the fancy and visually spectacular Destroyer/Big Bang/Black Hole spells. While you only need one character to have a full three-rank bar to get the full effect of a three-part spell, it still involves a lot of waiting... and thus the random attacking that Corgan and Led do can deprive your party of a link in your magic chain at a critical moment even if the damage done by the attack itself is negligible. Even worse, usually when Led's in the party with Lobo, it'll be under the assumption that she's that party's primary caster and using her Repair skill to be Lobo's medic.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ristar Smashes Things With His Face*

Learning about the regional differences between video games is always one of the odder things involved in looking into the subject. Games getting harder because something important got dummied out, overseas releases being more polished because they had more time to finish the product, cultural references being removed because they're "too foreign," and occasionally the "American Kirby is Hardcore" effect (characters being at least partly redesigned to look "cooler").

The game Ristar, which I recently became aware of because of the tiny Sega Genesis collection console my sister picked up, has a fistful of these things...

...which is all the stranger because apparently the two versions were actually released about a day apart.

I don't have much else to say about Ristar beyond the fact that I rather like the game overall; out of the games on the console, I've probably played it more than any of the others because its playstyle, at least on the first world, is fairly easygoing and doesn't punish patience, which is suited to me. (The other competitor for my most-played game is Mean Bean Machine, which I probably shouldn't play as much as I do because I'm bad at it, the computer cheats, and I'm enough better than everyone I might play two-player with despite being bad at it that it wouldn't be fair, and also I don't think Mean Bean Machine is a game that should be played between friends.) Never gotten past the first little tiny stretch of the third world, though-my kid brother got to the fourth world today, though, so good for him.**

Anyway, have the final boss theme. Ristar generally has good music, and Kaiser Greedy's theme is particularly so.

I actually kind of like Kaiser Greedy himself, for that matter; he's got kind of a "Castlevania Dracula" vibe, but is also a cartoony space demon.

*He crashes into walls, smashes his foes, bops around like some sort of deranged pinball occasionally, and flies face-first like a comet through space. He's pretty hardcore for a guy with four hitpoints.

**He was using a strategy that I came up with, though I don't think he remembered me suggesting it, that involved farming lives on the first bit of the first stage. There's a hidden extra life you can get a very short distance from the starting area, and an obvious extra life that you can find a little ways further in. Grab both and lose a life on purpose and the extra lives respawn, letting you get one more extra life for each loop than you're losing. Kid bro gathered about two dozen before plunging into the best run he's had on the game, getting to the main boss of the fourth world before he had to head home for the night.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sometimes You Just Have The Sudden Urge To Post Game Music

That's been pretty frequent for me lately.

Funny thing about the game this music is from: My mother loved it.

She's never really been big on computer/video games apart from solitaire and other simulations of real-world games (to the point of occasionally being something of an anti-game person), but she started playing Cosmo Bots/Cosmic Bugs at some point.

She like the demo, bought the full game, and played every level. (The game had a hundred levels, too, so that's not like it's a small time investment.)

It makes me feel kinda bad that my kid brother and I unintentionally deprived her of her primary chance to play the "sequel," Water Bugs, on the weird "arcade machine" service that was on one of our later computers. (There was a time/coin limit thing, and she didn't want to drop more money on it than she had already.)

-Signing off.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Lite Indeed

So I've been working on and off on RPGMaker XP projects for a while now, and I've mostly been having fun. Out of curiosity, though, I decided to download the "demo" version of its successor, VX Ace Lite, which is, instead of a limited time demo such as some demos are, a demo that only lets you work with a limited number of materials (the package of graphics is smaller, and there's some parts that keep you from having more than a very limited selection of characters, classes, items, etc.) but lets you otherwise do anything the full version would.

I decided to play with it for a change of pace (I've been a little bogged down on the XP projects), and have decided that, in many respects, I greatly prefer XP because it's actually graphically superior. (Part of it comes from larger, more flexible sprites, but all the artwork is generally nicer, with the exception of the enormous iconset and the battle animations; also, I like the way the battlers are set up in XP better-having the actual option to display your characters is nice, Dragon Quest homaging be damned. Also, while both have mediocre English translations, VX Ace's is worse.) Much as I like JRPGs, I've never really been a fan of tiny square-shaped people.

There's also a few things that I have to chuckle at, such as the fact that you can give a character a nickname and a description.

Sorta handy, true, especially since you need annoyingly fancy junk to get anywhere with something similar in XP, but the silly bios that come in the default game ruin the effect a bit. Admittedly, VX Ace also has multiple things built in that one has to wonder why they were left out of older versions, like a built-in vehicle system and a reflection characteristic, but if you're desperate for that there are (admittedly difficult) ways to do that in XP.

There is one thing that makes me consider whether I'd want to get the full version of VX Ace, though: The Features system in its database makes configuring battle stuff actually fun.*

Why? It's because this is a system that allows you to assign Features to things in a powerfully modular way. If you want a character to, say, have the ability to equip a sword, you can go to the Actors tab where the player characters are and assign the "Equip Weapon [Sword]" Feature to that character. Or you could give it to the character's Class instead, and it would work mostly the same way. Or you could have a different piece of equipment that assigned the "Equip Weapon [Sword]" feature. Weird (and probably pointless), yes, but you could do it. But there's a total of six different things you can assign Features to, including status effects. Yes, hypothetically you could make the ability to use a sword a status effect.

And while it's not quite the same as the Features system, the way that skills and useable items work is close to identical and similarly flexible, which is a thing I really would have appreciated in XP. (It also leads to the rather funny possibility, since they anticipated the idea of a "use item to teach skill" feature, of using a skill to teach itself; there's a rather funny scenario I came up with years ago as a thought experiment that I find myself thinking of which this might actually allow to a degree. Here's a hint to what it might entail, although I admit that might be a bit cryptic for a non-M:TG fan.)

And then there's the little Note section, which was actually the first thing that got me stirred up about the differences. There are way too many things in XP that don't have a good place to make notes to oneself, and I'd really have appreciated that.

What I really want now, though, is a magic lamp so that I can make a wish to take the parts I like from each of the two systems and fuse them together into the ultimate RPGMaker. In fact, that would be something superior to the latest, most expensive RPGMaker product, because it fixes some relatively minor graphical issues VX Ace has, keeps others, and switches the programming language to Javascript, which I've always found to be actively repulsive because of its tendency to screw up webpages.

So there you have it: My nattering about a free product that's got a better not-free version.

*I had fun with XP's for a while, but honestly it's a bit of a hassle, especially with the errors that somebody made along the line that make it hard to, for instance, give an enemy the maximum hitpoints, experience, and gold that the default engine allows. You can enter any six-digit number for those things (actually, experience and gold can both go higher)... except that you can only directly enter five digit numbers into the boxes in question, and then use the arrow buttons/keys to raise it.

I sat down and took something like an hour one day just scrolling the hitpoints up to use as a template for high-level enemies.

And oh yeah, the way one determines who can equip what is a friggin' checklist.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why You'd Name A Fighter Plane "Platypus" Is Beyond Me

Eventually, you decide questioning video game logic isn't quite worth it.

...There's even a point where you start thinking that things like the giant fruit the enemy ships drop makes sense.


-Signing off.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not Just Another Old Tank Game

So I was recently reminded of a game I'd played the demo for back in the day, Battlezone 2 (I was reminded because I was browsing, though the site doesn't have the game-I was reminded because more games from the same ancient demo disk had shown up on the site than previously), and decided to look it up.

After a bit of hunting around (and confusion relating to the fact that the game it was a sequel to gave it some backstory that didn't match well with the impressions the demo gave me), I discovered something: For a game of its simplistic sort, it had a pretty amazing story.

Which is to say that the generic faceless aliens you find yourself fighting aren't bugs or drones the way you might expect, but [SPOILERS for a game that's old enough that there are kids in high school who weren't born when it was released] some manner of mutated humans who just want to be left alone, and your evil boss created them and wants to recapture some.

Which, I have to say, is a pretty amazing deconstruction of the "faceless horde of enemies" tropes.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 20, 2015


There's two aspects to today's post; both of them have to do with the game Undertale, a game I've mentioned finding very interesting despite not having played it and not being enormously interested in actually playing it (as I've noted on many occasions, I don't really have the reflexes or hand/eye coordination).

The first is a mashup/mix/whatever of the game's No Mercy route* final boss theme, Megalovania, and a song I've never heard otherwise by the group Justice (who does pounding, intense sorts of music).

Needless to say, it's pretty neat.

The second is a stupid little anecdote from my life.

My sister and I were recently rewatching an anime (specifically Gun X Sword) and hit possibly the best episode of the series, the third to last (I'm not up for explaining why it's so good because if you ever want to watch the series, any explanation of more than the very barest details would be huge, huge, huge spoilers-note that it's something of an "emotionally painful good" sort of good, a thing I've had an appreciation for since reading the Wraith Squadron books back in the day, and my sister cries every time she watches it). Long story short, Character A, in what's stated to be one of the strongest giant robots in the series, attacks Character B while he's at his very weakest... and Character B owns the hell out of Character A.

In a way that had my sister briefly convinced that I'd been waiting for the opportunity, I promptly bellowed "GEEEETTT DUNKED ON!**" in one of my better deep, imposing voices. (I don't mean to brag, but I can go from falsetto to Darth Vader pretty easily... though I can only do Darth Vader quotes in the proper Vader voice.)

I swear it was completely spontaneous.

*PSA: The game's creator has requested that the term "genocide route" not be used (a fact I was not aware of when I first posted about Undertale) because of people making jokes about the Holocaust. ...Making jokes about the Holocaust isn't really a thing people should need to be told not to do, guys.

Besides, "No Mercy" has an interesting double meaning in the Undertale context: Not only must you actually kill every monster you fight in order to reach the route (and hunt down every possible random encounter in every area-the random encounters will eventually run out, and that's when you know you've killed enough of them), but when you fight Sans, the route's final boss, he'll kill you if you try to use the "Spare" command and his attacks don't give you the traditional few moments of invulnerability... i.e. what is commonly known as mercy invincibility.

**When trying to make peace with "No Mercy Sans" (see above for the end result of that action), the game over screen rather hilariously displays the phrase "get dunked on" (you can see a reference to this in the above video). Who knows why, other than the fact that Sans has a sense of humor.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I mentioned the idea that giant robot fighting games were the only kind that mattered (which is something my sister originally said) here.

Why do I bring it up again?

Because the same game's multiplayer gives the opportunity to unleash combiners during boss fights (you can see one example at around two minutes in, and there's several other fights as well):

This is made even better by the fact that the combiners actually seem to be pretty effective, being twenty seconds of invulnerability and massive damage before decombining.

(Find more information on the game's various combiners here, if you're curious. Only really pictures, but they show the combined forms of all four player characters, which actual gameplay doesn't allow.

...Seeing them all in the same place, incidentally, really emphasizes the "unpossible" nature of their rather Getter Robo-esque transformations.)

-Signing off.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Excuse Me While I Natter: Septerra Core Again

Septerra Core was a pretty formative experience from my late teenage years. (Even though it was older, I got into Total Annihilation when I was in college. Idiosyncratic purchase order for the win.)

And while I loved the gameplay and learned it inside and out*, it was the story, characters, and especially the world that had my attention.

Take the country of Jinam, for instance.

We never see the place in its glory, because it gets Doomsday Device'd before we have an opportunity to visit it. But we learn some fascinating (and horrifying) details about it from local Best Character Ever Lobo (you may want to enlarge the image, and I'll also provide a transcription because this is a fuzzy screenshot-also here's a link to the YouTube video I took the screenshot from if you want the voice acting; Lobo shows up a little after the fifteen minute mark):

(Lobo [responding to a piece of dialogue describing him as a Jinam Combat Cyborg]: "Once. I've heard that the combat cyborgs like me were made up of volunteers. But our memories were wiped clean and I don't remember. Some people have said that the Cyborg brains came from criminals, but I hope not.)

This one tidbit of information makes the nation of Jinam comparably horrifying to the main villain (who brings the world to the brink of destruction for the sake of his ego) and the undead plague that the otherwise idyllic Shell Three is suffering from. Yet other than the fact that Jinam actually is the place of origin of two party members, Lobo and that redheaded guy in the party in the screenshot, it's the most obscure location in the game, only visited once after it's been destroyed. (...And it's been wedged against Shell Three, so now it's full of zombies as well as rampaging malfunctioning robots and combat cyborgs. I don't remember the combat cyborgs there being treated as undead, but it wouldn't have shocked me.)

It's actually kind of interesting because the design of the Jinam cyborgs seems to be inspired a little by the battle droids from Star Wars (as a very slender "mook" robot), but they're basically an army of Robocops. (Despite their appearance, they're tough as nails, especially the high-level ones that pop up late in the game; Lobo is also in the running for strongest member of the party. I once saw Lobo shrug off a monster called the Hell God basically puking lava on him; he took less than twenty damage, while the guy next to him with a barrier [reduce damage by 50%, unless it was a fire barrier, which means reduce damage by 75%-I don't honestly remember anymore which it was] took nearly fifty. Granted, machine-type characters have really good fire resistance already, plus better equipment, but except for healing items being less effective for mechanical characters and the fact that he was awful at spellcasting, Lobo had no particular drawbacks [both of which can be negated by proper party composition-just stick Grubb or Led in there, and both problems are counteracted thanks to their good spellcasting abilities and Repair skills], could tank like a boss, was faster than the party average, and had high damage output and the best attack-oriented skillset in the game. The only characters who were tougher and could hit harder physically were also so slow and even worse at spellcasting.) There's apparently very little material left from the original person-the brain at most, probably not even the whole brain.

And the end result is considerably tougher than the basic footsoldiers of the Chosen, who are one of the three or four identifiably oldest cultures in the setting and usually identified as the most advanced nation (the arguable example of most advanced nation is a secret branch of the Chosen who also aren't such tremendous jerks and have turned themselves into living airships, which is awesome for reasons I don't feel the need to elaborate on). Those combat cyborgs seem to put the lie to their claims of absolute technological superiority, at the very least. (And they actually stole the strongest weapon they use, the Doomsday Device, from the Ankarans, Jinam's traditional enemy.)

If the plot of the game hadn't gone the particular way it had, there was a good chance that Jinam, not the Chosen, would have been the biggest threat to the well-being of the world. Instead, they got wiped out thanks to the main villain's machinations less than halfway through the game.

*Not saying I know everything about its battle system, but watching videos of other people playing it, well... I don't want to brag but I got pretty darned good at Septerra, to the point where watching other people play it makes me cringe**. Probably comes from playing the living hell out of the demo while waiting for it to arrive; at one point I had the party leveled up so that the toughest regular enemies in terms of the damage they could take, the Armored Crabs, were being one-shot-overkilled-for-more-than-twice-their-hitpoints by the weakest attacker in the party (albeit with his strongest basic attack). Then I got stuck on stupid puzzle junk twice in rapid succession ("rapid succession" being a period of a couple months overall) and spent that whole time randomly playing and thus grinding.

...That party was so overleveled. And yet there was a random boss you could run into that still took a tremendous effort to kill without the "cheating" method*** that kept one-shotting the party for most of the game, until I finally figured out what I needed to do ages later and came back... and took him out with a set of basic attacks. Yes, I killed the guardian of the Armstrong seal shrine once without cheating or strategy. My party was that overleveled. ...To be fair, he didn't actually have a lot of hitpoints, just more armor than a pair of battleships sandwiched together, and weapon scaling and level grinding eventually negate armor strength.

**This isn't intended as an attack on people; not everybody can spend over a year immersing themselves in every game, and Septerra was just one I spent at least a year on. ...I think I've also mentioned I'm an unrepentant level grinder; Septerra's where I picked up the habit. Also, I've seen at least one person pull a neat trick that I'd not been aware of in a video, so I won't claim I know everything. (Using Cloak to dodge the final boss's counterattack? Neat. I mean, I... kinda didn't play the final boss battle, because my sister had pushed through more of the story at some point and once she'd beaten the final boss, I didn't feel the need to-but she and I co-developed our playstyle, and she was just about as good at it as I was when we were at our best.) Actually, years later I found Chrono Trigger to be a blast because it was a quicker, less buggy version of the same gameplay, and my old Septerra habits served me well even though Chrono Trigger is a somewhat harder game; other than Lavos, hopeless fights, that room with six Nus, and a few cases where I ended up fighting high-level encounters by accident, I don't remember anything from that game as being a serious challenge.

***I mention that the boss in question, the Rot Beast, has few hitpoints but a lot of armor (pretty sure he had a lot more armor than the final boss, or basically anything but a couple of the Magi encounters), right? He's undead, so spamming the healing summon on him dealt him decent damage, but staying alive long enough to use it the five-plus necessary times was hard even though he tended to waste time reviving his zombie buddies when that killed them.

(This was a challenge because he dealt stupid amounts of damage, and had a hit-all attack that could, under normal conditions, one-shot the party. The only way to reasonably survive this attack was with the counter-undead barrier, which would reduce all damage from undead by a whopping 75%. That changed things from an impossible fight to a very hard one. He could still nearly one-shot most party members at will, though, because he had the spell Poison, which inflicted the Poison status. Doesn't sound so bad, and in a lot of games it wouldn't be. But Poison in Septerra scales in strength with the level of the caster versus the level of the victim, so instead of the percentage-based damage one might expect, or something piddling and annoying, as soon as the poison kicked in your character was dead even through a barrier, because poison damage and barriers don't interact and that Rot Beast had a ridiculously high level. That bastard was scarier than Draxx, the godlike necromancer who presumably created him and all other Beast enemies [and also happened to be the first Beast you encounter], who were generally a sort of miniboss archetype who were also occasionally storyline bosses. Compared to Draxx and the Rot Beast, the other story boss Beast, the Curse, was kind of a joke, though, because even though he was statistically stronger than Draxx, he had an AI bug that would make him spam the Curse spell if you set up a Ward barrier and made sure the party was cured of Curse. Free tip if the guy ever gives you trouble.)

Giving him a healing item, though, did fixed damage to him equal to the healing value of the item, and I'm pretty sure that the Root, which would long since have become one's standard healing item, does more damage to him than his total health (or close to it, failing that), and I know that the next item up on the scale would do him in. The game designers clearly didn't see this as "beating" him, though, because if you use healing items on undead, you don't get any experience.

By the way, I did kill the Rot Beast the hard way more than once. After all the grief he gave me, I felt the need to.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gotta Feel Sorry For Those Three*

I mentioned relatively recently that a lot of my love of JRPGs comes from a game that, strictly speaking, is not a JRPG at all, Septerra Core.

Septerra is a game that's a huge homage to games of the sort, however, and TVTropes actually categorizes it as one despite its Western origins because it's such a close match in terms of gameplay, storyline, and aesthetic. (That, and a certain amount of Japanese media in general; before I was aware of the Toxic Jungle/Sea of Decay from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, I was exploring Septerra's Shell Seven Mold Forest, which was a huge homage to Nausicaa and similar things that it inspired.)

So it's really nice to see that the game has gone from severe obscurity to comparatively well-known thanks to digital re-releases through things like Steam and It used to be that if you wanted to look at something from the game, you had to hunt through the game for it. Earlier, I decided to search to see if one could find the game's summon animations online, and was rewarded with a video with every player-castable spell animation in the game.

The game was... honestly a bit of a pain to play back in the day, because it didn't run well on even pretty new systems, but if you have a Windows 7-ish computer (not Windows 8**) it actually runs better than it ever did.

*Those three enemies. They got a lot of attack magic demonstrated on them.

**My sister's rather puny and aging laptop runs it like a dream. This big fancy superpowered desktop I'm blogging from? It's honestly a bit choppy. You stink, Windows 8. (And that's why I don't want Windows 10, by the way-it's supposed to be some kind of magical cross between 7 and 8, but there's literally not a single feature from 8 that's worth jack [and plenty that I'd really, really like to get rid of, like the "app" crap-the way that works really remind me of the MSDOS era, which I thought you guys were trying to move away from?], and every ad I've seen for 10 emphasizes its 8-like interface. No, guys, no.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Oh, Thanks Buddy"

I was randomly watching a longplay of an arcade beat-'em-up game called King of Dragons. (Spoiler: There's a big dragon at the end.)

Now, I've watched quite a few videos of the sort, and a lot of them were much more visually interesting than this one (see Armored Warriors) and had gameplay that looked more fun. (I should note I've played very few games of the sort; the only such games I own are a few Sega Genesis titles, on a tiny little micro game package that my sister and I bought relatively recently.) There were a couple of things in it that got my attention, such as this whimsical tree.

What really gets me about the tree is that he's essentially thanking you for getting the spiders out of his hair.

Then there's the game's wizard.

Dude does not look like he's a 5'6", 123-pound twenty-eight-year-old.

The thing really worth remembering about the game, though, is that it has a pretty great soundtrack.

That is a fine final boss theme.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Toy Story Moment

Actually a few hundred Toy Story moments all at once.

Poor Optimuses.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Unfortunate Typo Time

So I watched this playthrough of an old* arcade game recently, because I like pixel art a lot.

As was not uncommon with games of its era, it had a translation issue here and there, in this case mostly in the form of comparably minor typos.

Yeah, pretty sure that was supposed to have been "bribed," not "brided." That means something a little different.

*Mid-late nineties. Ugh that was about half my life ago now I feel old.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

That Dude's Pretty Chill

My sister recently found a complete DVD collection of Getter Robo Armageddon, which I'd watched most of on YouTube once (all but the first episode and possibly part of the second-I thought I'd seen all of the second, but watching it last night, the first chunk of the second seemed oddly unfamiliar), which we'd been hunting for a long time, so in celebration, here's some screenshots of an amazing scene from the much goofier original Getter Robo anime.

So Musashi, the comic relief character (who tends to be depicted as kind of hopeless)*, is actually so strong he appears to have thrown a full-grown man at least fifty feet upwards (based on the fact that he landed on a rather tall diving board; it surely isn't fifty feet tall, but it looks like twenty to thirty feet, and he would have been falling at a normal rate once he wasn't going upwards anymore, so, yeah) and over a hundred feet horizontally (which is probably a conservative estimate).

And Hayato was pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and didn't even seem to be putting much effort into landing properly. (Considering how violent his manga counterpart and most other incarnations of him are, his amazing chill is really even more remarkable.)

...I love almost every version of Getter Robo unironically.

*Musashi is arguably one of the most influential anime characters in the entire super robot genre, mainly because he was a goofy character who suddenly dove straight into drama and sacrificed himself to kill the dinosaurs** and save the world. I'm pretty sure that Musashi was a major influence specifically on Kamina from Gurren Lagann, which is funny/a bit weird for several reasons.

**Because dinosaurs were still around and also at least a little evil in Getter Robo. And Musashi killed them.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 2, 2015


The title of this post was what my sister said when I told her that this video was a longplay of a giant robot beat 'em up/fighting game.

I... kind of agree?

-Signing off.

Friday, October 30, 2015


That feeling when you know you've seen/heard something before, but you knew basically nothing about it so you might as well not have.

Of course, even if you've only heard it once it's pretty hard to forget a song like that.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OFF Again

Have a remix of Pepper Steak from the OFF OST.

No particular reason why, besides the fact that I've been thinking about it again because part of Undertale (the bad ending, specifically) reminds me of it rather strongly* and I've seen fanart that tells me I'm not the only one.

(The only reason OFF has its own label/tag, incidentally, is because it's bloody hard for me to find my own posts on it otherwise, "off" being such a common usage word. As far as I know, I only have one other post on it, but it's possible there are more back there that I just can't find because there's tons of casual usage of the word "off.")

*SPOILERS: Both OFF's official ending and Undertale's bad ending involve the protagonist destroying the world. For OFF, it's actually the "true ending," and unless the player decides to side with the one person standing against the Batter (since I haven't clearly stated such, the Batter is OFF's protagonist), he'll just nearly effortlessly walk over the one person trying to stop him. A far cry from Sans stomping the hell out of you, though if the player turns against the Batter, the player still wins easily because said character is weak stats-wise but has a powerful status effect he can use that trivializes the fight... and the Batter's "party"** disappears for no clear reason.

**A thing I like about OFF is that it really shows how far one can abstract certain RPG concepts. What keeps you from filling out a party with circles that have the abilities of support party members and no real story role? Nothing, and that's exactly what OFF does. They're even just called "add-ons."

Of*** course, the game also gives the abilities used by the add-ons strange, abstract names (which can make it a little hard to remember what ability does what), but it fits the strange tone of the game.

***Worth noting I mistyped "of" as "off" twice in a row.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Probably Not The Most Surreal Moment From This Game

Although it's giving it some serious effort.

I'm not absolutely sure on this, but I think the playthrough I watched featured the player going even further than this one did (skipping ahead a bit first).

-Signing off.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Here, have a (video embed of a) half-hour version of the boss theme of that guy* I talked about on Wednesday.

Because it's awesome.

*I hadn't quite looked into things enough; turns out that Sans, the guy this is sort of the theme for**, [Undertale SPOILERS, obviously-sorry for marking them poorly in the other post] isn't even necessarily the most fourth-wall-breaking character in the game. Characters attack buttons, there's at least one other character who supposedly had access to the save system before the player did, and quite a few other things of that sort.

**It's been suggested that Megalovania isn't Sans' boss fight theme, but the protagonist's, because the song's been used by the game's creator elsewhere, and it's apparently associated with people fighting to save their worlds.

And the protagonist, when fighting Sans, has long since jumped off a slippery slope, and Sans is basically the only thing standing between the player and the end of the world. (There's another boss-type character you fight later, but he goes down in one hit because the Genocide Run makes your character unstoppable to basically everyone but Sans. Because he is an hero [GRAWLIX]ing badass.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


So I've been hearing about the game Undertale lately, and while it's a game I have doubts I'd be able to play much (even though it's a turn-based RPG, the player still needs reflex-based dodging skills to avoid the minigame-like attacks... and as I've said quite a few times, I really stink at that), I have to say that the story, characters, and aspects of the engine sound like fun.

Especially the brutally powerful boss who, despite having one hitpoint and only being able to do one damage per attack, is dangerous because he exploits the engine through medium awareness (i.e. breaking the fourth wall).

Noticeable in the following video if you know what to look for: This character* particularly knows when he's beaten you before and keeps track of how many times you've fought him across your saves.

Now, a game where your saves have obligate effects on each other (which is a thing this game has) can be a bit... trollish, but it's a neat thing to see, and in particular I think it's neat because it reminds me of a character from the poorly drawn webcomic Adventurers!, which is probably more responsible for my love of CRPG/JRPGs than any other single thing but the game Septerra Core.

(Said character was stated to be free of the in-universe normal flow of space and time, and claimed that he was going to start hunting the party back to their save points and killing them there. It kinda makes me happy that something a bit like that is something that's been done in an actual game now.)

*Who comes across as a sweet-natured goofball despite being one of the strongest characters in the game, and only fights the protagonist when the protagonist kills enough people to trigger the Genocide Ending.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Probably Waiting For DVD This Time

Darnit, I should wrap up my Star Wars article series before this thing hits.

I think I actually would only have one, maybe two regular entries left, but that'll probably change when that movie comes out.

...Also, "they're real?" People have stopped believing Jedi are real or something in this continuity?

That is so stupid.

(Seriously, there are multiple species with lifespans ranging towards thousands of years, the lifespan in-universe is probably longer, digital media is a fricking thing in the Star Wars universe, and the Jedi Order existed for at least four thousand years as a hugely powerful group of public servants. Even if you discount some of that as probably-not-entirely-canonical material because of the stupid Legends retcon, the Jedi Order was still over a thousand years old, and Yoda talked about being many centuries old. Those things are irrefutably canon. Luke not knowing much about the Jedi Order could easily be attributed to living on a backwater that had never seen much Jedi presence. Seriously, Tatooine was basically the armpit of the galaxy.)

-Signing off.

Friday, October 16, 2015

This Whole Week Has Been Fairly Pointless Final Fantasy Videos

Have a guy swinging from a rope while shooting some poor mook with a machinegun.

And being a bit bored with things.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Titles Are Annoying*

If I suddenly seem a tad obsessed with JRPGs, there's a reason for that: A while ago, my sister and I bought one of the RPGMaker programs, and I've been looking into the genre that the engine is technically designed to emulate. (Frankly, it can be a little frustrating reading about neat game mechanics and knowing they're well beyond my limited programming capabilities, but them's the shakes.)

Anyway, it's kind of funny to read about these games, because some of the newer ones are talked about as being super serious business. And then...

...there's a battle where you can shove a monster off a cliff and it'll pratfall on the way.

I mean, that's exactly what happened here.

And yet this is a game where (SPOILURZ) one of the characters has a job whose description is essentially "die to give the world another ten years of peaceful life," another character is basically a ghost who kept moving to have a chance to keep a promise to his dead best friends, and another character turns out to be imaginary and will cease to exist if they save the world.

*And I forgot to add one at first.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Goofy Giant Cactus Monster

Final Fantasy VIII is a serious game*.

Hence the goofy giant cactus monster that does a weird dance when it gets the stuffing kicked out of it.

*Thus, it deserves to be picked on and picked at to some degree.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 9, 2015

It Did Take A Bit of Search Refinement

So I was listening to a piece of music I've had for ages (since long before I've had this blog, which is what, going on seven years or so now), and thought "I ought to check and see if it's still floating around on the Internet."

Happy day, it is!

Yes, it's music. The popularity of "Taking the Hobbits to Isengard" validates this as a music genre (though this obviously predates that by quite some time).

-Signing off.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Castlevania Has Great Music

Well, yesterday was a rough day for me, and it kind of made it so that I couldn't properly blog in a timely fashion. (Some jerk[s] slashed my tires the other day, and I spent a lot of yesterday getting them off so they could be replaced, and did a decent amount of work getting them back on. Plus some other junk having to do with the fact that my dad's truck I was borrowing got stuck in our driveway and is... still there, unable to be moved, because it's kind of a piece of junk and I didn't know that it wouldn't be able to shift out of park if it was on an incline.)

So here's not one, not two, but three pieces of Castlevania music, including my personal favorite piece thereof (Cemetery) and two covers by that guy who does awesome acapella covers.

I... don't like the Castlevania games, mainly because I'm bad at platforming and I will never forgive that one sequence in the first game that introduces the world to the Medusa Heads, but they've got some pretty great music overall.

-Signing off.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Probably Shouldn't Be So Amused

There's something very fundamentally amusing to me about the descriptive terminology used by the Dragon Quest game series for its battle system. The humor value is kind of exacerbated by certain kinds of enemies, at least for me.

"God appeared!"

"God was defeated!"

And also in that vein, from the YouTube description left by the video poster:

"God was going easy on me." Really.

-Signing off.

Friday, October 2, 2015


(I apologize in advance for the rather painful NES soundtrack.)

There's apparently an enemy from the Dragon Quest RPG series called the Dead Ringer, which is a bell that can summon more of itself and is fairly tough, and which is prone to rapid chain-summoning until there are eight of them (a full octave-cute), which causes them to play the Game Over music and cause, well, a game over.

I once described the enemy to my sister, and she made a face and complained about how it sounded unfair.

However bad you might think that is, it's actually fairly tame; older Dragon Quest games laugh at your concept of fairness.

From what I hear, this enemy can use the Sacrifice spell (which the party in the game finds utterly unblockable and invariably lethal when used against them, but when using it themselves discover it to be completely ineffective against any enemy of consequence) any time it feels like it, including on the first turn before the party can act. Granted, especially when you're only a couple steps away from the save point (as appears to be the case here) it's barely even a slap on the wrist, because you keep your experience and loot when this happens, but the enemy's clearly common enough, and nasty enough to kick you back to the save point a high proportion of the times it appears, to be a frustrating roadblock-there will apparently be times it catches you basically immediately before you reach a save point.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tired of Coming Up With Stupid Titles

Listen to this immediately.

There was a part of me that didn't believe the Queen version of this song could have been improved upon, but this very nearly does it.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Look At That Sass

(My cat's doing much better, if you're curious-she's now at the stage of recovery where she's had enough of us trying to take care of her and is making giving her medicine painful, which is easy for her when she's got so many pointy bits and so much of her strength has come back. Life's still pretty much turned on its head, but things are getting better a little bit at a time.)

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an image of a card from Magic: The Gathering that got a response out of me that probably wasn't intended, that being "gee, that towering Eldrazi abomination sure has a pretty sassy walk going on*."

Then, later, I saw an "animated" trailer of the sort that Wizards at the Coast has done in the past, and was pleased to see that, despite the quality of the animations varying from "eh" to "ech," from about 0:38-0:41 has the exact visual experience I'd have expected of this creature if it was in motion.

"Sassy walk" probably wasn't what they were going for.

*Despite lacking actual legs.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bad Weekend

No proper post tonight. Had two cats very sick over the weekend (while the local vet is closed), and one passed away and the other is staying at the vet's for a few days, and so I'm pretty emotionally and physically exhausted right now.

(The one who's at the vet's is Captain, who's gotten a couple of mentions on here. Captain is my precious baby cat, and I watched over her for twelve hours and used my own body heat to make sure she stayed warm while we waited for the clinic to open, even though this made me overheat and sweat a lot, and I'm usually most comfortable when I'm a little bit cold. Her prognosis is good, thankfully.

The one who died was my sister's precious baby cat. There was a lot of crying and sleeping when that was done; my sister is actually passed out right now.

It's actually been a rough few months for our family; my mother's roughly twenty-year-old cat passed away a few weeks ago, and there's been an out-of-state uncle passing away and another with a bad cancer diagnosis.)

EDIT: I'm not blogging Wednesday because Captain came home and she needs close care, and I may not blog on Friday. ...I kinda would have needed a break from blogging anyway.

-Signing off.

Friday, September 18, 2015

That Battle Should Have Been A Bit Slower*

Not many places you can see a giant turtle duke it out with an evil tree...

Final Fantasy V is one of those places.

And yes, Exdeath, that armored guy, is actually a tree.

Not a tree person (well, he is at that point, but not originally), just a tree.

*Because the combatants are a turtle and a tree, you see.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Game Used Frustrating Gameplay! It Was Super-Effective!

I think I've intimated I'm not really a fan of Pokemon, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate aspects of it.

I laughed so hard at the "punchline" of this video.

-Signing off.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why Do They Keep Making Them?

Does anybody actually like escort missions in video games?

I don't think I've ever encountered anybody who does.

-Signing off.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lazy Post

Something that fairly blew my mind: Apparently, at least some video games' demo modes are actually, instead of being recorded moves, records of gameplay that can potentially be altered. (This specific topic comes about eight minutes in.)

That's seriously weird.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Game Reviews: Book of Mages

Book of Mages: The Dark Times* (hacked version here for those who are interested, for reasons I'll clarify) is a fun if flawed game with open-ended roleplaying (sorta) and a pretty good turn-based combat system.

I think it's important to state up front: This game's combat system is, for a turn-based RPG-type combat system, much more interesting and nuanced than what most computer RPGs produce. Granted, most of those are designed for larger-scale battles than this game, so it rather needs something better than that, but it's important to establish it right off the bat.

Anyway, the combat system is built around each combatant firing off magic bolts of energy or whatever, in fairly large numbers. Complexity is added by high and low attacks and defensive countermoves plus a few other tricks (my favorite is the rather dramatic "combined" attack, which combines all one's bolts into a single massive projectile); then there are six different schools of magic, each with their own special forms of magic. Of particular note are Poison Water, with a lot of majorly annoying poison-themed abilities (more on that later), and Chaos Desert, with the ability to unleash huge storms of damage, though nearly all the schools have at least one ability that's nifty, overpowered, or just brutal. It's a little involved to explain in detail, and it'd be easier to figure out by just playing it-it has a decent in-game tutorial function.

While I enjoy the combat system, it does have one sizable flaw, and that's the whole reason I linked the hacked version: The process by which one enhances one's abilities is slow and tedious, and it takes some experimentation to figure out just what one should do while building a character's abilities, so it's way too easy to create an awful character and waste one's time. The first time I played the game, I got to the final battle with a character with third-tier combat skills who had sufficient charisma to have been elected leader of the story's "good guys" and thus ended up with a bad ending because he insisted on fighting the enemy in a series of one-on-one fights.

Incidentally, the game expects you to keep leveling up as the game progresses (even when the story is dragging you around and keeping you out of the magic caves that let you build up skill points-admittedly, you do get skill points through story events and such), and helpfully gives you a warning that you need to spend any remaining skill points right before the final battle comes up.

You have to love fourth wall-breaking NPC dialogue.

There's other types the game gives you hints, such as this bit of moral guidance the game gives you:

"Let him live if you're good. Kill him if you're evil."

You might notice that the player character is named "Great Mage" in the above; that's because I was goofing around with stupid player character names that I thought would be funny, and "Great Mage" is a title in the game that the player character is relatively likely to obtain. Hence the following exchange between a pair of drunkards (who are always, whenever you encounter them, talking about you):

"Great Mage is the Great Mage." You don't say.

Anyway, if you couldn't tell, the game's storytelling is pretty silly, partly because of iffy grammar and partly because, well, it's just plain silly, such as this conversation with a graverobber that you can potentially befriend:

Yes, you can make friends with a graverobber.

What's peculiar to me is that there's an alignment/reputation-tracking system in the game, and some things are treated as bad, some are treated as good, and some are treated as entirely neutral. One of the latter is the below:

Yes, cutting off a man's hands is treated as neutral. (The alternatives to cutting his hands off? Killing him or learning torture advice from him. There's another option, avoiding him forever, but it's impractical, and sooner or later you'll forget about it, meet him by accident and kill/dismember him. Incidentally, this is revenge for him trying to assassinate you.)

Anyway, there's a storyline involving the conflict between the "Black Robes," mages who are working for the evil current Great Mage, "White Robes," the rebels against him, and the third party who are neutral in the conflict. You can join any of the three groups, and if you're a good fighter, you can muscle your way to the top. (You don't actually need that much brute force for the White Robe route until the final battle, at which point you'll be in serious trouble if you've been neglecting your training.)

Making certain kinds of achievements, incidentally, gives you new titles, such as...


Oh yes, that final battle thing I keep bringing up? You need to do a lot of fighting during it if you're a member of the White Robes; if you're of a normal strength level, you're in for a bit of a slog at best, but if you're ranked sufficiently high... get to kill people in cutscenes. As this is oddly more fun than it should be, I ended up slaughtering every named Black Robe but the leaders, which earned me a new title:

"Bloodthurst." This didn't affect my reputation in the least either, by the way.

Speaking of reputation:

While it was a bit lower at the precise time of the election, I raised an eyebrow at the "equally good reputation" remark, because my reputation at the time was "Legend/Savior," and it was upgraded to "Legend/Holy Man" by this event. (Also, "Legend" is higher than "Myth," which seems backwards to me.)

Note that here my character was named Ghostdoom** instead of Great Mage; obviously this was a different playthrough. And yes, I won that election pretty handily; I'm not actually sure what you'd have to do to lose it. Be a major jerk, perhaps.

It doesn't stop at "Holy Man," incidentally;

...Yeah. This despite my spending time helping several random thieves and slaughtering quite a few mages in single combat. (It wasn't particularly fair, especially since I was cheating for all these screenshots.)

On the subject of single combat and ability ranking, the title of the game refers to the book in which the top hundred mages are tracked. For some reason, you ask a character called "Mysterious Hermit(s)" about the rankings, and when you're looking for the top ten mages in the book, the Hermit tells you where to go, and eventually tells you that you're the "Number One Mage."

The player character is such a childish jackass.

Anyway, if you keep asking the Hermit about your ranking even after you're Number One, he starts to get peeved at you...

...and eventually announces that he created the Book of Mages and is stronger than anyone ranked in it, and that he's going to kick your rank back down to 99.

He's basically a bonus boss, and pretty much the toughest enemy in the game; through some means, he was actually nasty enough that he posed a serious threat even to my distinctly overpowered cheat character.

As it happens, though, even his unique overpowered abilities and his extremely strong magic school (Chaos Desert) can't save him from smart playing and the cheapest strategy in the game: Poison Water's wavelock combo.

See, there's several kinds of status effects in the game which are represented by "markers" and these markers have variable numbers. Poison Water's, poison (SURPRISE), does damage equal to the number of markers, but that's pretty minor overall. Their better use is setting up for Poison Water's various spells. And Poison Water mages can also use a spell called Poison Wave, which puts ten poison markers on the opponent without any chance to counter (they're the only group to have this capability; everybody else's status effects are exclusively in the form of riders on the projectile attacks, which makes it harder to apply them). The big useful spell among the spells so-enabled is Paralyze, which allows one to remove nine poison counters to cancel an attack. In other words, put ten poison counters on, opponent takes ten poison damage, opponent tries to attack, opponent's attack is cancelled, and one poison counter is left over. There are several ways to remove poison counters (for some reason, if both combatants have poison counters, they cancel each other out until one mage or the other, or both, don't have any, so one of the ways is actually Poison Wave), but that takes up an attack, so the strategy still works. (In fact, it works a little better, because that means the opponent is spending more mana than you are.)

Once you beat the Hermit, he runs off to inform the other hermits who co-created the Book of Mages, and you get another new title.

So this game's pretty entertaining, sometimes in ways that come across as unintentional.

As noted, the game has its flaws-the story can get a little annoying, particularly if you pick a side, the skill-building is tedious if you're playing it the way it's intended to be played, and you hardly see any fights anymore if your ranking gets high enough-but there's also quite a bit of entertainment to wring out of it.

*This is technically the second game in a series, hence the subtitle, but pretend it's the only game. There's no reason to look into the first one. Basically everything about this game is better than the original, and since this game is notably flawed, well...

**This game has some of the best names since Seven Kingdoms II's Fryhtans. I suspect the mages choose their own ridiculous names. The most ridiculous examples are probably Bloodster and Wavepuke. ...The latter is the biggest piece of evidence they don't choose their own names, incidentally.

-Signing off.