2017.8 Gaming Recap Posted on September 10, 2017 at 01:37
Alrighty folks, the year is over 2/3rds finished at this point. What games have you beaten this year so far, and what do you anticipate you'll finish before year's end?
Since my previous update, I've beaten the following:
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Virtue's Last Reward
Emily is Away
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
That brings my total count of finished games this year to 16. Last year I beat 18 games, so in order to beat that high score, I need to finish at least 3 more games before this year comes to a close.
I've already begun working my way through the final entry in the Zero Escape series, Zero Time Dilemma... so that's pretty much a lock.
I was keen on Fire Emblem after finishing Shadows of Valentia, so I immediately went back and resumed Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright... but I've cooled off on it a bit since then. Nonetheless, I'll probably work my way through it before the year's done.
Wanting to play a JRPG, I've just recently begun playing Lufia II. The Lufia series has always interested me, with its interesting mix of turn-based combat and Zelda-esque dungeons with non-random encounters... it's high time I got around to beating an entry in this series. I'm starting with Lufia II, because apparently the first Lufia game spoils Lufia II which is odd... but alright.
With those 3 games, that brings me up to 19. Certainly there's still ample time to beat even more, but to be honest I'm thinking about taking a break from gaming for a while. I might also wrap up the 2nd Phoenix Wright game to bring it up to a nice 20, but after these games I'm going to cool off from gaming for a while and focus on other things. I'm not necessarily going to stop playing games altogether, but they'll be on the back burner... maybe for quite a while. I definitely won't be trying for a high score of games beaten in 2018, and possibly not even for a few years after that.
2017.5 Gaming Recap Posted on June 27, 2017 at 12:25
So 2017 is about halfway through, and as expected my goal of trying to complete 50 games this year is looking... overly ambitious.
Nonetheless, I'd like to take this time to reflect on the games I have managed to beat so far... and also consider what games I might still finish before the year comes to a close.
In total, I've beaten 10 games so far. In order, they are:
Breath of the Wild
Human Resource Machine
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
I also have about a dozenish games that I'm making progress in, however slow and unsteady it may be.
In particular, I'm pretty close to the end of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, as well as Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors... those will definitely be wrapped up in the immediate future.
I'm only about halfway through FFVII, but I'll probably push to finish it up this year and finally get it over and done with.
I've currently got 3 Megami Tensei games that I'm fairly deep into (MT1, Nocturne, IV Apocalypse)... so I'll likely wrap up at least one of those before year's end, but I'm not likely to finish them all. I should probably pick one to focus on finishing for now, and I'm leaning towards Nocturne.
A couple games that I'm not super far into but that are short enough that I'll still probably finish them this year are Silent Hill Homecoming, and 2 Phoenix Wright games (Justice for All & Dual Destinies)
I've also recently started playing a pair of semi-retro racing games, Auto Modellista on the PS2 and Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox. I may or may not see both of their campaigns to the end, but at least Auto Modellista is highly likely because it seems super easy in spite of the wonky physics... and I think it's fairly short, at least shorter than Forza's anyway.
Now... as far as games coming out this year, there are a few that I'll definitely make time for. Final Fantasy XII Zodiac Age I'll start, but probably won't finish this year (though you never know... I do love FFXII and have been wanting to replay it for a while now). Yakuza Kiwami is a definite, as is the Life is Strange prequel. And obviously I'll also be playing through Mario Odyssey this year.
So all things considered, the list of games I'm very likely to finish before the year concludes is as follows:
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Fire Emblem Echoes
Final Fantasy VII
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
Silent Hill Homecoming
Phoenix Wright Justice for All
Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies
Not bad, not bad. That comes out to about 20 games total by the end of the year. Well shy of my original goal of 50 games, but better than I might otherwise have done. Last year I beat 17 games, and so far that's my high score... so I'll be beating that, at least.
A Few Dozenish Games in 2017 Posted on February 02, 2017 at 08:23
Alrighty... so like most new years resolutions, I think my goal of beating 50 games in 2017 is gonna be falling by the wayside.
I've been thinking about my backlog lately and I'm slowly beginning to accept that, just like movies or music, there are simply too many good games for me to realistically be able to enjoy them all. I need to be willing to let some things go.
Instead of trying to beat a laundry list of games throughout 2017, I'm gonna play things more by ear. At the end of each month, I'll reflect on what I've been playing and use that to decide how to go forward in the following month. And if any games just aren't doing anything for me, then I'll shelve them indefinitely.
...and since January just ended, let's get started eh?
in January, I started (but haven't finished) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Yakuza 0. I'm enjoying both immensely, so I'll be finishing them this month. I also made some progress in Ace Attorney Justice for All which is quite good, so I'll be wrapping that up before long.
As for new games I might start up in February... I'm actually getting a bit of a 3D platformer itch thanks to Mario Odyssey hype, so maybe I'll start up Blinx and/or Vexx... if I can resist the temptation to go with the classic Mario 64. Or maybe I'll give Mario Sunshine a whirl, since I've never played it.
Games on my 2017 list that are being shelved indefinitely:
Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. Really good game, I was enjoying it a lot while I was playing it in October/November of last year... but trying to return to it this month proved fruitless. Maybe someday I'll revisit it, but I don't feel compelled to see it through to the end right now.
Final Fantasy VII. Due to a fond remembrance of playing a FF7 demo as a kid, and seeing a badass illustration of Cloud on the Versus strategy guide in stores (not to mention a love for JRPGs), I've tried countless times to get into FF7 throughout the past decade and failed each time. I made it the farthest with my latest attempt last year, but it still hasn't managed to do much for me besides reinforce my beliefs that it hasn't aged well.
The Last Guardian. This one's the most difficult to drop since I love Ico and SotC and have heard good things about what the game builds up to... but I'm just not feeling it. Once upon a time I felt similarly about Ico, only to discover that Ico is a masterpiece a decade later... but I think that TLG's ambition is fundamentally at odds with the medium itself. I'll likely revisit this one eventually, but not anytime soon.
Halo Anniversary. Already played through Halo once. Got a kick out of revisiting it here, but I don't need to beat it.
No SWITCH HYYYPE here? Posted on January 15, 2017 at 00:50
Personally, I think the thing looks phenomenal. It's not perfect, I'll readily admit... I'm no Nintendo apologist. But it's basically what I wanted the Vita to be (a portable system that doubles as a console, rather than a portable system that kinda sorta supplements your console), it's virtually guaranteed to do gangbusters in Japan and therefore will receive good support from Japanese devs even if it doesn't do great elsewhere, and it just looks all-around awesome... so yeah, it's a knockout slam dunk hole-in-run touchdown for me.
But for real though, it's got issues (and also some non-issues)... let's discuss, shall we?
Battery life of 2.5h to 6.5h
Pretty poor, no denying that. Not as absolutely abysmal as some people make it out to be, considering battery life of other such devices. (Honestly, how many of these whiners didn't bat an eye when they bought external battery packs for their phones during the Pokemon Go craze?)... but I'll concede that for true portability, it really ought to be comfortably above the 3 hour mark.
At the same time, I don't personally care about this. Extra battery life would be nice, but in general I'm plugged in 90% of the time on my 3DS/Vita, even when playing outside of my own home. And worst case scenario, I do have a reasonably beefy external battery pack I could use if need be.
Pathetic launch lineup and not much else for the rest of the year
Launch lineups almost always only have one or two games that are truly worthwhile, if you're lucky. The Switch has the definitive version of Breath of the Wild. Whether that's appealing to you or not will obviously play a large factor in whether the Switch is an enticing proposition on day one or whether you might want to wait a bit.
...but wait for what? Out of the Switch's "80+" games currently in development, we know of 58:
Lots of titles with TBD release dates, meaning that there isn't a whole lot in the immediate future. It'll be a sparse year, most likely. Consoles have gone through worse (Just look at PS3), so it's not "NINTENDOOMED"... but this is undeniably not good for the Switch. It's clear that Nintendo is trying to strategically space out its 1st party releases to try and maintain some momentum going forward towards 2018.
Though once again, this issue personally doesn't bother me. I've got too many games as-is, and I won't even be sinking my teeth into any Switch titles until 2018. You might ask, why would I buy it now? Because I love the concept, and it's got games coming out in 2017 and beyond that I want... therefore I'm voting with my wallet and choosing to buy the Switch day one regardless.
For the record, confirmed Switch games I'm currently interested in:
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Super Mario Odyssey
Xenoblade 2 (Subject to change after I play the original)
Fire Emblem Warriors
No More Heroes 3?
Dragon Quest XI
Shin Megami Tensei V
Syberia 3 (subject to change after I play Syberia 1/2)
Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
It's too big to be portable and/or I have no need for a portable system
Regarding the size...
Totally pocketable, albeit with you probably having to detach the joycons and store them in a separate pocket.
Regarding the lack of a need for portability, I'm not buying it. I'm in my bedroom 99.9% of the time and I still find portability useful. Whether it's taking it with me on a trip out of town for the holidays, taking it over to a friend's house, reenacting game of porcelain thrones, curling up in bed with it like you might do with a good book, relinquishing the TV for other people to use, being able to easily transition between different TVs... there are tons of advantages to this system being portable. It's not just for people who travel frequently in a manner conducive to gaming.
And unlike most portable systems, this thing seamlessly performs double-duty as a traditional game console instead of being stuffed in a drawer to be forgotten about. It might not be bleeding-edge, but it's what I would consider perfectly acceptable... There are PS3/360/WiiU games that still look excellent after all, if not quite to the same degree as their current-gen counterparts.
Those joycons look so tiny and uncomfortable!
This is the one complaint that has me scratching my head the most, especially since so many people seem to dwell excessively on this point.
Yes they're small. Yes they're probably not ideal (though by most accounts it sounds like they feel more comfortable than they look, at least with the strap attachment... and I personally think most people were far overblowing how uncomfortable they looked in the first place).
Here's the thing though: They can't be big since they attach to the screen to form the portable mode, and the point of the isn't to be the ideal controller in the first place. They're just an easy surefire way to enable local multiplayer regardless of whether you have any extra real controllers. Though some games, like Arms, do make cute use of them as motion controllers... but games like those will be the exception, not the norm.
Or in other words, you probably aren't gonna use them that way unless you want to.
Non-issue for me because I probably won't hardly ever use them that way, and I have reasonably small hands even I did so it probably would be fine for me. Though for the record, I personally think Nintendo did just about the best job they reasonably could with the Switch's design and deserve more credit. It's truly remarkable how many different features and uses they packed into it, all the while managing to keep it super simple and intuitive.
Only 32 GB of storage?!
Yessir, only 32 GB of storage.
Is this bad? While more storage would always be appreciated, no not really. At most, it's a minor added expense for anyone who was hoping to go all-digital. You can get a 200 GB microSD card for less than the cost of one 32 GB Vita memory card
Is this unexpected? Are you kidding... In a portable system where costs need to be low and where hard drives, while cheap, are far too impractical? Again, no. Not at all unexpected.
"B-b-but my PS4 had 500 GB and I ran out of space super quick! Nintendoomed!" Here's the thing... PS4 and Xbox One have slow Blu-ray drives. All games on those two consoles, including physical copies, install fully to said hard drive to help achieve optimal performance. Or in other words, those two consoles have made a design choice which creates an inherent need for that space... and possibly much more, depending on how many games you accumulate.
Conversely, the Switch uses game cards. I can't claim to know the read/write speed of them, but they're almost certainly much better than the PS4 or XB1's Bluray read speed. Physical games on Switch won't have the same need of being installed that they do on PS4/XB1.
Or in other words, 32 GB is a bit small but totally understandable, and it'll be a lot less of an issue than most people think unless they're planning to go fully digital.
Paid online service, that also requires a smartphone app? And we only get loaner 20-year-old games?
There's no sugar coating it, Nintendo did a pretty poor job communicating this. And based on the information we know so far, this whole thing definitely reeks of "MS and Sony are getting away with it, so we'll have ourselves a piece of that pie too" rather than seeming reasonable and justifiable.
But there are so many details we don't know (like pricing, for instance), so this is one of those things where it's probably best to reserve judgment until we know more. That being said, anyone using this as ammo against the Switch to argue in favor of the PS4 or XB1 is seriously daft.
Regarding online functionality being handled via an iOS/Android app... well it's certainly a bit of an odd choice, and could potentially be problematic for anyone who doesn't happen to own such a device. But at the same time, I can kind of see what they're going for... There are Playstation and Xbox apps, so imagine that except more robust. It also frees the Switch's OS from having to handle those functions, which means it can potentially use less hardware resources... and in turn, make those extra resources available to games. But again, we know very little... and stacking assumptions on top of assumptions is never a good idea.
Lastly, one thing we can wholeheartedly judge: Nintendo being super stingy with their ancient software. Take one glance at eShop prices and you'll realize that this is nothing new, but yeah... one NES or SNES game monthly? And it's only good for the month? Unless the online service is ridiculously cheap (Like, Pokemon Bank cheap... and includes Pokemon Bank as part of the service), this is ridiculously scrooge-tastic. Speaking of money...
$299? I could buy a PS4 or XB1 for that! With a bundled game included!
Not really a fair comparison, though not for this reason Nintendo apologists like to use: "PS4 was $400 at launch, and Xbox One was $500" ...Utter horseshit, the price that the PS4 and XB1 launched at are completely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how much they cost alongside the Switch on store shelves.
Why the comparison is actually unfair has less to do with launch prices, and more to do with the fact that Switch is a compact portable device whereas the PS4 and XB1 are big boxes. It's apples and oranges... but by all means, go run around in grocery stores tossing fruit out of people's carts because they could be buying two of a different fruit for the same price.
At the same time though, I question the validity of Nintendo's argument that they couldn't afford to include a game at the $299 price point. I'm eager to see the Switch torn down and BOM analyzed. But even if it turns out that they're just barely breaking even at $299, they've got no shortage of old NES/SNES games... you seriously mean to tell me that you couldn't toss us a bone, Nintendo? C'mon... that's bullshit and you know it. But hey, if Switch doesn't sell and we see a repeat of the 3DS Ambassador Program, that'd be some sweet karmic justice.
50 Games in 2017 Posted on January 04, 2017 at 02:51
I played through a lot of cool games in 2016... Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, The Legend of Zelda, Persona 1-3, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Uncharted, etc.... But with thousands of games still sitting in my backlog, I can't rest on my laurels in 2017. I intend to beat these 50 titles this year:
9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors
Ace Attorney: Justice for All
Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow
Clock Tower 3
Dragon Quest II
Emily is Away
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy VII
Majora's Mask 3D
Ni no Kuni
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Rule of Rose
Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne
Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill Downpour
Silent Hill Homecoming
Silent Hill Origins
Silent Hill Shattered Memories
The Last Guardian
Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Yu-Gi-Oh Legacy of the Duelist
Zone of the Enders
Exciting stuff, right? I mainly focused on JRPGs in 2016, so I've decided that I'll focus on clearing out a lot of my survival horror backlog in 2017. In addition to focusing on those, I'll also be tying up some loose ends from last year, as well as prepare for some of the great games dropping this year (even if I don't get to most of those until next year).
And by "that", naturally I'm referring to my unrivaled masterpiece titled Splendid Genesis Memorikan. The magnum opus to end all opi. There's more to it than meets the eye, so let's break this turd apart so we can flush it away.
The clue to what it's all about is in the title, though maybe not immediately apparent due to the first two words being meaningless fluff. The real meat is there in the last two words:
Memori (目盛) = Scale
Kan (間) = Across
Together the idea conveyed is "across the scales". Okay, so... what does that actually mean? Let's find out.
In the opening, you're just a dude alone in a room with a table that has a stopwatch atop it. Seemingly meaningless, but we'll be returning to this scene at the end of the game, and it's key to the idea of this game. For now we'll move on.
In the next room, there are two NPCs. These guys fill the player in on the game's "plot". Entities called "ryeMoths" have invaded, and you're tasked with defeating their mothership. The mothership being called "otherShip" isn't particularly meaningful, but what about ryeMoths? Well, ryemoth is an anagram of M-Theory, which loosely ties into the idea of the game.
And they are, in fact, strings. Not peanuts having seizures.
The middle portion of the game tries to escalate the sense of scale. The space ship is huge relative to the player character, but it seems much more insignificant once you're piloting it. You join up with a fleet of other ships and combine to form "Supercluster Galaxy Robo", which sounds like it should be huge and epic, but....
It's barely a few pixels. And that's apparently at over 9000% scale. And the otherShip? Well it's not even fully on-screen, yet it takes up the entire right side of the screen. And that's apparently at a scale of 0.000001% its actual size. Or in other words, the otherShip is unfathomably larger than the Supercluster Galaxy Robo. Over 9 million times larger... and even then, this isn't as large as it ought to be, given the final revelation. Speaking of which...
After you defeat the otherShip, you return to the room from the start of the game. Only this time, the table has shifted all the way over to the wall on the right. Furthermore, the stopwatch is broken. What caused all this?
Well, it's a bit of a leap given the information that the game provides, but... the implication was intended to be that the stopwatch was the otherShip. The core idea of Memorikan was scale as a dimension, and that as you zoom out to the largest of scales you eventually loop back in on the smallest of scales.
Not particularly well executed, but that's what procrastination does to a project.
So after finally getting fed up with the organization (or lack thereof) of my various games and emulators, I decided it's time to set up an emulator front end on my Windows machine.
I looked into several, even tried a handful of them in rapid fire succession... and ultimately I've decided to settle on LaunchBox.
Retroarch's XMB-esque frontend is pretty solid, but the fact that it can only be used for launching games that currently have Retroarch cores kills it for me. I want to be able to launch my PS2, Gamecube and Wii games too!
EmulationStation, the first one I tried outside of Retroarch, looks nice and I was about to stop my search there... but just as I was reconsidering due to ES being a bit too basic for my taste, I ran into some issues that sealed its fate: The metadata scraper is too bare bones. For instance, no matter how hard I tried, it could not scrape metadata for Ico despite the fact that I know the database it's using has it.... I'm guessing the short 3-letter name is the culprit. But the real big issue is that sometimes scraped metadata wouldn't stick. I tried multiple things (giving administrator privileges to ES, saving and resaving metadata, quitting the app "properly" through its menu option) and nothing seemed to resolve the issue... sometimes metadata would stick, other times it wouldn't. Not worth the hassle of trying to figure out what's causing it, and not worth having to worry whether my metadata's gonna stay or not.
LaunchBox, the second one I tried and the one I ultimately came back to, is essentially OpenEmu for Windows minus the built-in emulator cores... it's also a bit uglier than OpenEmu, but a bit more flexible. Though the issue I have with it, which is what made me keep looking for alternatives, is that a lot of features and options are locked behind a paywall... including its entire Big Picture equivalent mode (called Big Box). At the end of the day though, I can live with that... So I've gotta use keyboard and mouse to launch my games for the time being, big deal.
Briefly tried GameEx and Attract Mode, and looked at a few other frontends like Hyperspin and mGalaxy before deciding LaunchBox is the overall best option despite some valuable features and options being inaccessible.
Mobile Gaming (+ small update) Posted on October 09, 2016 at 04:24
First off, quick update regarding the game I was developing. Accidentally deleted it, so I'm back to square none.
Thinking I'll do a more quick and dirty game for my next project. Maybe a Pong/Breakout hybrid... and/or more messing around with creating custom image formats. Space-filling curves are interesting and seem like they could potentially help file sizes when combined my previous image format (which you can read about here: http://www.64digits.com/users/index.php?userid=S3xySeele&cmd=comments&id=271284)
Anyway... Mobile gaming.
Have smartphones made dedicated portable gaming devices redundant/obsolete? Well... yes and no.
Yes because these smartphones are very powerful devices that are technically capable of running high end games. No because these smartphones are very powerful devices that are technically capable of running high end games.
Or in other words, smartphones don't make just portable gaming devices redundant. They also make consoles redundant.
I can AirPlay my iPhone 6S to my Apple TV and enjoy games with console-level graphics (not quite "bleeding edge" console graphics, but certainly comparable to the likes of PS3 & 360 which, if we're being completely honest, is perfectly fine). Then I can disconnect from AirPlay and continue playing those same games on the go, without skipping a beat. And with emulators like Provenance, I've got all manner of game systems in my pocket... that I can then play seamlessly on the big screen when I'm home.
The only thing that hampers the experience is the lack of consistent controller support. It would be nice if Apple created a high-quality official MFi controller for iOS/tvOS/macOS, and put their foot down and said all games must support it going forward.
In any case, despite the redundancy, I think neither consoles or handheld gaming devices are going away any time soon.... and that's why I think that if the rumors about the Nintendo NX being a console/handheld hybrid turn out to be true, it could really be something special. It would basically be like the iPhone/ATV scenario I described, except with the controller issue sorted out and overall higher quality games.