Thursday, August 16, 2018

Steamworld Dig 2 Review

Ok, after my recent streak of personal and retrospective posts, it's time to get back to a good old fashioned review:


Steamworld Dig 2 was an acclaimed Metroidvania when it came out on Switch last year. I put it off after getting a little burnt out on the genre. Eventually, I got the PC version for free via Twitch Prime and decided to give it a go as a buffer between all the RPGs I've been playing lately.

Pros:
  • Charming character and world design. I really liked the vibrant colors and quirky cast of NPCs.
  • The controls feel really good. Maneuvering Dot around is fun in classic Nintendo-like fashion. This especially true once you acquire upgrades like the grappling hook and jet pack.
  • The puzzle rooms add some clever challenges and let you explore all the different ways you can use your gear.
  • Exploration leads to collecting the items needed to upgrade your character, which opens up even more places to explore. This makes for a very satisfying gameplay loop.

Cons:
  • I felt that the game overly limited exploration in the beginning. Having to frequently return to town to recharge the lantern and empty your backpack was kind of irritating. Thankfully, you can get upgrades after a while that ease up these restrictions.
  • Many areas of the game  are traversed by digging tunnels (think Dig Dug). This was a novel idea at first, but eventually, I found having to smash rocks all the time got a little old. This made me appreciate the freedom of exploring the open areas a lot more.
  • Metroid and Castlevania would break things up periodically with big boss battles. This game has very few boss battles and they weren't particularly memorable.

Overall Steamworld Dig 2 is a quality Metroidvania and I think any fan of the genre should check it out. However, I couldn't help but feel like it was over-hyped by the time I got to it.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Completion Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes

If reading this post has put you in the mood to pick up a new game while also supporting this blog, you can do so via this Amazon affiliate link: Amazon Video Games 

Monday, August 13, 2018

For Pinky

Well, here we are with another non-game-specific post. This one just felt like the right thing to do.

Those of you that have been reading my posts for a while or have been following me on Twitter or Twitch probably have seen my cat Pinky make some guest appearances. For the past several years she has been my faithful gaming companion, co-streamer, and assistant reviewer. In fact, in the over 100 posts I've written in this blog, she was sitting in my lap for the majority of them. Unfortunately, our time to say goodbye to her was last week, but rather make this a mournful post, I'd like to dedicate this entry to her and celebrate the time I got to spend with her.

In addition to keeping me company during gaming time, Pinky often liked to take an active role in the vanquishing of digital enemies. Based on her interest in batting at the monitor or mashing buttons while I was playing, I’m pretty sure her favorite games were Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser and The Witcher 2 (she was a cat with diverse taste). On the topic of taste, she also contributed to some of my hardware reviews by taste testing the peripherals. Pinky was also a presence on my Twitch streams, her color commentary was picked up on the mic during several broadcasts.

Pinky may have been a small cat (~ 6lbs) but she had a huge personality. She will be missed and I’m very grateful for her companionship.

Farewell, Pinky, and thanks for all the wonderful memories!




One of her many peripheral taste tests (you'll see a theme here).
This blog doesn't cover non-gaming electronics. Pinky's work had a wider scope.

The Horipad was probably her favorite controller.
Here's some of that signature personality I mentioned.


Normally, this where the affiliate link would go. However, today, instead of buying stuff online, I encourage you to go hug your pets and tell them you love them.

 

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Sega Gap

Earlier this week when I talked about my history with gaming, I mentioned my “Rip Van Winkle period” from 2005 to 2011. However, you may have also noticed another gap in my history with game systems; with the exception of the Sega Dreamcast, I didn’t own any Sega devices. During the 90s console wars, I was always firmly on the Team Nintendo side of the schoolyard. Despite my juvenile biases, I couldn’t help but admire some of the interesting-looking content Sega had on offer that I didn’t have access to. For example, I watched Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons and read Sonic comics, but never actually played the games with a Genesis controller in my hand. Many years later, after the fires of the console wars had died down, I sampled a little bit of what the other side was playing via ports to other systems. Here’s a quick rundown:
  • Genesis – Sonic 1 through & Knuckles (via a Gamecube collection), Gunstar Heroes (Virtual Console)
  • Saturn – Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2 (1 via Panzer Dragoon Orta on Xbox, 2 via emulation)
  • Dreamcast – Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Shenmue 1 and 2, Jet Set Radio, Soul Caliber
Since the whole point of this blog is to clear backlogs and address “Gaming Shames”, I feel like there’s a rich wellspring of titles here that I’ve largely overlooked. I briefly skimmed the Sega Genesis catalog some years ago with an emulator, but I found it hard to focus on any one title. At this point, I’m looking to dig a little deeper and work a few titles into my Gaming Shames queue. I have a few ideas of what I could play but would love suggestions from readers of some must-play Sega titles (especially from the Genesis). Depending on the game, I might stream some of these Sega games on my Twitch channel. What are your favorite games from Sega history?

If reading this post has put you in the mood to pick up a game or two while also supporting this blog, you can do so via this Amazon affiliate link: Amazon Video Games 

Acknowledgments:
  • The topic for this post was largely inspired by chatting with some fellow Twitch streamers: Keyglyph, BogusMeatFactory, and HungryGoriya. Be sure to check out their channels!
  • This post is part as part of the #BlaugustReborn event. For more information about Blaugust, see this blog entry by Belghast.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Octo Update

After writing my impressions last week, I’ve sunk a bunch of additional hours into Octopath Traveler. At this point, I’ve now played through the first chapter for all eight characters, and have started the second chapter for the merchant, Tressa. Some additional thoughts now that I have a bigger picture of what this game has to offer:
  • The original demo featured the first chapter for Primrose the Dancer and Olberic the Knight. I think Square Enix made a wise decision showcasing these two characters when unveiling the game to the world. Of all eight characters, I found these two have stories with the most compelling starts, even upon second viewing. Their darker themes of revenge and justice are probably best suited to older players like me that were reeled in by this game’s resemblance to 16 and 32-bit classics.
  • The second tier of characters have less interesting stories but have likable personalities that keep me engaged. My lead character, Cyrus the Scholar, is a wannabe Sherlock Holmes on the hunt for a lost book of forbidden knowledge. There’s a mysterious air to his story that appeals to me. Also, his haughty attitude and devastatingly powerful magic make him a fun character to have as my protagonist. (I neglected to mention in my preview that the first character you play serves as your main character for the whole campaign). Tressa the Merchant is charming in a different way with her happy-go-lucky attitude and thirst for adventure. She’s also a highly opportunistic capitalist, like you would expect from a merchant, which works its way into her plot in fun ways. Her quest is also motivated by a book, so I tend to group her and Cyrus together.
  • Some of the criticisms of Octopath Traveler from major review outlets have been about “generic writing”. I think this shows a bit once we drop down into the third and fourth tier characters. I put Therion the Thief and Ophelia the Cleric in the third tier; they’re not especially interesting but I think there’s potential for their plots to go in interesting directions. In the Final Fantasy series, Square Enix has done interesting things with thieves (e.g. Balthier from FF12) and clerics (e.g. Yuna from FF10) before, so hopefully, that’ll end up being the case here.
  • In the fourth tier, we have H'aanit the Huntress and Alfyn the Apothecary. While these characters are pretty useful in combat, their dialog doesn’t do much for me. H'aanit speaks in a strange faux-Elizabethan English that seems off to me. If the game’s writers wanted to go this way with her script, I wish that they would have committed to it more fully. The strange half measure that they went with just seems awkward to me (think the original Dragon Warrior). As for Alfyn, he just wants to be the best apothecary he can be... and that's about it. Not too interesting.
  • As I had mentioned before, I started off with Cyrus and thus he's my team leader. This has worked out exceptionally well. His powerful area-of-effect elemental spells and his ability to detect enemy weaknesses make him exceptionally useful in every combat situation I've encountered.
  • I've only just started my first Chapter 2 quest and there's a noticeable difficulty spike. Many basic encounter enemies now feel on the level of mini-bosses. When I finished all the Chapter 1 stories, Cyrus was at level 22 and everyone else was in the upper teens. It feels like I'll be able to handle Chapter 2, but just barely.
  • I managed to figure out some of the side quests, but other than earning money, I'm still not sure if they matter much.
 Octopath Traveler continues to be a joy to play and it will probably keep me busy for at least the rest of this month. Since I'm increasing my posting frequency for #BlaugustReborn, I'll likely post one more impressions post before writing my review. Since this post was mainly about characters and story, the next will probably focus on combat strategy once I've gotten a taste of higher level play. In any event, I still highly recommend that any RPG fan give this game a look.

If you'd like to check out the world of Octopath Traveler for yourself while also supporting this blog, you can order a copy of the game from this Amazon affiliate link: Octopath Traveler - Nintendo Switch

PS:
If you would like to learn more about #BlaugustReborn or sign up to participate, take a look at this post from fellow game blogger, Belghast: Tales of the Aggronaut - First of Blaugust

Monday, August 6, 2018

Gaming Origin Story


While I generally don't like to talk about myself and prefer to keep this blog focused on the games themselves, it occurred to me that in two years of game blogging, I've never really gotten into my history with my favorite past time. In the spirit of #BlaugustReborn, I figured I should probably fix that. Here it goes:

My start with gaming came from an unlikely figure: my grandma. She was probably the only 60+-year-old lady hanging out in the dingy local arcade, but she could clear Pac-Man boards with the best of them.

Naturally, several years later, once I was old enough to hold a controller, she taught me how to play Donkey Kong on the NES, followed soon after by Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. Three-year-old me was, of course, terrible at all of these, with the exception of Duck Hunt if I put the Zapper’s muzzle directly against the screen. None the less, I’ve been a diehard Nintendo fan ever since.

While I may have been a massive Nintendo fan, my 8 and 16-bit gaming was limited to genres like platformers, fighting games, and racing games. I didn’t come to appreciate other genres, some of which are now favorites, like RPGs and puzzle-adventure until many years later when my family got our first computer (we were pretty late to the party on that) and my sister bought a PlayStation. The PlayStation got me into RPGs; I literally emptied my piggy bank to buy Final Fantasy 7. The PC, on the other hand, accomplished two things: introduced me to genres that weren’t available on consoles at the time (e.g. FPS and point-and-click adventure) but also sparked my interest in computer hardware that continues to this day.

My journey has looked something like this overall:
  • Nintendo – NES, SNES, Gameboy Color, N64, Gamecube, DS, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, Switch
  • Other Consoles – PS1, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox
  • PC – Dell Pentium desktop, HP AMD Athlon 64 Desktop,  ASUS i5 gaming laptop, Samsung i5 media laptop, self-assembled gaming desktop (current)
You may notice that there's a pretty large gap in my non-Nintendo gaming between the Xbox and the ASUS laptop (approximately from 2005 to 2011). Time and money were in short supply those years, so I missed the majority of a whole console generation with the exception of a few Wii games. I call this my gaming Rip Van Winkle period, and much of the focus of my backlog journey has been devoted to filling in that gap.

The past two years of taking that backlog journey with everyone in the world of game blogging has been a lot of fun! Thanks for joining me so far and happy Blaugust!

If reading this post has put you in the mood to pick up a new game while also supporting this blog, check out this Amazon affiliate link: Amazon Video Games

PS
I'm upping my blog posting frequency for the rest of the month in celebration of #BlaugustReborn. I'm aiming for at least two posts per week. If you'd like to know more about Blaugust, you get more info from this post by Belghast.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Octopath Traveler Impressions


After being enthralled by the Octopath Traveler demo last year, it was pretty clear that this classic-style JRPG would be right up my alley. The wait until the release of the full game felt long, but it has finally arrived. At this point, I'm about 10 hours into the campaign and have added five of the eight characters to my party. Here are some early thoughts on my time with the game:
  • The music and environments on display in the original demo really wowed me. Now that I've gotten to see a wider variety of what the game has to offer, I continue to be impressed by its artistic presentation. The dark forests, glittering coastlines, snow-capped mountains, and medieval towns all look great in Octopath's faux-retro graphical style. The color pallet of the game world is muted compared to a 16-bit RPG but it works well for the game's setting and tone. So far every environment has been accompanied by great music in the form of stirring orchestral pieces, somber piano sessions, or folksy tunes as appropriate.
  • While the environments themselves look lush and deep, largely due to the 2D-3D hybrid style, traversal through the world is quite linear. The side-scrolling camera angle means that there's generally only one path through an area with the occasional short detour to pick up treasure. In a sense, it's actually more restrained than the 16 and 32-bit games that Octopath resembles. Furthermore, if the player somehow does manage to get lost, the map and radar are marked with distinct green icons showing the location of the next quest objective. As a player that doesn't like spending a lot of time figuring out where to go next, I really like this design decision. However, I imagine that players expecting "open world" exploration may be a bit disappointed.
  • Another efficient design decision that Octopath makes is dividing each quest into short chapters. So far each chapter has consisted of a few cutscenes, a visit to a town, a small dungeon, and a boss battle with save points liberally placed throughout. This makes the game much easier to pick up and play for short bursts compared to other JRPGs. Most of my play sessions have been under an hour and in portable mode.
  • A minor gripe: there is no option to auto-advance fully-voiced cutscenes. In most games, I like being able to set the controller down while listening to the dialog with my hands free to do other things (mostly eating). This game doesn't let me do that since I have to tap the A button after every line of dialog. I've gotten used to it by now, but it still makes the conversations between characters sound a little stilted. 
  • There are side quests in this game, but I have no idea how to keep track of which ones I'm working on or determine what the objectives are for each. The game prompts me when I've met the criteria to start a new side quest (usually talking to the right NPC), but I have yet to figure out how to progress things from there. I'm not sure if this is a game design issue or if I'm doing something wrong. Either way, the side quests don't seem to matter much yet.
  • Every time you begin a new character's quest, that character joins the party at level one. I was initially concerned that this would make the game feel unbalanced, but that hasn't been the case. The level curve is such that the new character catches up quickly and the older characters don't become too overpowered. In other words, the difficulty curve has been smooth.
  • Some of the early bosses can take quite a beating before finally going down, however, I have yet to have one wipe out my party. 
  • Right now, the five characters I have access to are the scholar, the cleric, the merchant, the huntress, and the thief. Each one plays a little differently, but there is some overlap in their skill sets. For example, if a quest requires acquiring a key item from an NPC, I can either use the merchant to purchase the item off the NPC, or just steal it using the thief. I'm curious to see how each character's field skills work together once I've assembled the whole crew.
I was initially concerned about some of the early reviews I was seeing for this game, but I'm having a blast with Octopath Traveler so far. I'm thinking that the eagerness of some outlets to brand this game as "the next Final Fantasy 6" did it a disservice. Octopath is looking less like one grand quest with an ensemble cast like Final Fantasy 6, and more like a set of smaller stories that occasionally intertwine, a la SaGa Frontier. Thankfully for me, that's exactly what I wanted.

If you'd like to check out the world of Octopath Traveler for yourself while also supporting this blog, you can order a copy of the game from this Amazon affiliate link: Octopath Traveler - Nintendo Switch

PS:
This month marks the two-year anniversary of Tales from the Backlog! The event that got me started with blogging is called Blaugust and it returns this year as #BlaugustReborn! If you would like to learn more about Blaugust or sign up to participate, check out this post from fellow game blogger, Belghast: Tales of the Aggronaut - First of Blaugust

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Persona 4 Review

Compared to last year, 2018’s release calendar has been fairly light. While some gamers might be
lamenting this, I’ve found it has been an excellent opportunity to go back and check out some titles from prior years that I missed. Thus, I’m jumped right into tackling yet another “gaming shame”, the Megami Tensei franchise. Except for two spinoff games, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and Shin Megami Tensei Synchronicity Prologue, I haven’t gotten the chance to get into Atlus’s hugely popular RPG series. A friend was nice enough to lend me his copy of Persona 4 for PlayStation 2 back in April and it's taken me a while to finish the game and put together my thoughts.

Game overview:
Persona 4 is an RPG in which the protagonist and his friends must investigate a series of grisly
supernatural murders that have been taking place in their town. The wrinkle is that the investigators are all high school students and must juggle their school and social lives in addition to gathering clues, fighting villains, and rescuing potential victims.

Observations:
  • Persona 4 begins with an incredibly long set of introductory cutscenes. During the first two hours or so of the campaign, the game only requires player input two or three times. Putting non-interactive segments this long in a video game would probably even give a director like Hideo Kojima pause. Thankfully, the writing is pretty good, so this lengthy introduction still has entertainment value, but I still wish it the game’s designers would have broken it up a bit.
  • As the two hours’ worth of introductory material makes clear, Persona 4 focuses on developing its characters and story above all else. I found the central murder mystery to be interesting and enjoyed getting to meet the whole cast of characters. The English language voice-overs for these characters are excellent and add significantly to their personalities.
  • Atlus made some interesting choices regarding localizing this game. Despite being a 100% English translated game, locations, characters, and events all use their Japanese names (the game is set in Japan, after all). The dialog even includes honorifics with character names. It took me a little while to get used to hearing English-speaking characters calling each other -san and sempai but I have to give the voice actors credit for making it work.
  • Much of the gameplay reminds me of old-school dating sims like Tokimeki Memorial. The game follows the daily life of its typical anime teen protagonist over the course of a year as he goes to school, hangs out with his friends, works a part-time job, investigates a serial murder case, and battles demonic forces (I described it as “anime” for a reason). How and with whom the player elects to spend the hero’s time will affect his personal stats. Points in the hero's qualities like "knowledge" and "expression" open up new pathways for interactions between characters but also can affect his combat performance as well.
  • Since the hero juggles his high school life and his evil-battling life, I break the gameplay down into two modes: school mode and quest mode. School mode plays much like a visual novel or a dating sim (especially like the aforementioned Tokimeki Memorial). During the classroom segments, the protagonist may be asked questions by the teacher or may have to take exams. Scoring well on these segments improves his “knowledge” stat. After class, the player can elect to have their character attend after-school activities, work a part-time job, or spend time with his friends and family. These activities either boost general stats like “diligence” and “understanding”, or increase the “Social Link” score, which affects combat attributes when in quest mode (more on that later).
  • Outside of all the usual high school activities, the player can enter quest mode after school. The quest consists of gathering clues about the murder mystery that the characters are trying to solve by talking to NPCs and exploring dungeons to track down suspects or rescue potential victims. There are about eight dungeons in the game and the player is given a month or two of in-game time to finish each one; missing the deadline to complete a dungeon results in a game over. Thus, managing the character’s time between school mode and quest mode is crucial. 
  • The dungeons themselves are themed after each character’s inner struggle (similar to Psychonauts) but the layout of each is procedurally generated with the exception of the boss room. Most of the dungeons are eight to twelve stories tall and require and a considerable amount of time to finish (about three to five hours each in my playthrough). Running out of MP and items often means that dungeon runs have to be spread out across multiple in-game days in order to restock supplies. While I thought the character-specific theming was pretty cool and I didn't mind the procedure layouts, I couldn’t help but wish that the dungeons were a little shorter. After getting to about the sixth floor or so in a given dungeon, I found myself being a little bored of the slow dungeon crawl and wanting to just get to the boss as quickly as possible so I could advance the story.
  • The combat is in the form of traditional turn-based battles in which each character in the party can summon a demon (aka a Persona) to use special skills. Most of the strategy of regular battles involve figuring out the right skills to exploit enemy weakness and execute combos. The protagonist can collect new Personas by finding Tarot cards in the dungeon and can swap between these demonic allies in mid-battle. The rest of the characters only have one fixed Persona that they stick with for the whole game. This leads to the protagonist being the only strategic variable in boss battles which makes them less interesting than they could be. It’s important to note that bosses and regular enemies alike can exploit your characters’ weaknesses as well, which can mean that a bad roll of the dice can wipe out your whole party even during a basic encounter.
  • In addition to acquiring new Personas, the protagonist can also fuse his Personas together to form new more powerful ones. The power of these fused Personas is a function of the Social Link scores you’ve built up with each character. Every character has an affinity with one of the arcana of the Tarot deck, which correspond with the 22 races of demons in hell (yes, this game has some dark themes in it). Hence, the hero’s decisions in school mode can have a significant impact on his progression in quest mode.
  • The connection between the school mode and quest mode of the game manifests itself in some ways that are interesting and others that are jarring. Since the dungeons take place in a hellish parallel dimension to the real world (did I forget to mention that?), things going on in school mode, such as the weather, can reflect the situation in quest mode. For example, rain and fog in the school mode portion of the game foreshadow the death of a character in the dungeons, representing a quest deadline. Since checking the local news is part of the player character’s daily routine, the weather report takes on a foreboding tone that adds to the sense of tension in the story. However, there are other times where this connection didn’t work for me. If you finish a quest mode objective earlier than the game expects you to, you’ll be prompted each day with a message that says something like “you are waiting for the situation to change”, and nothing of any consequence will happen until the original due date for that quest passes. For the first half of the game, I appreciated having this bit of downtime to meet all the characters and develop the Social Links. Yet, as the game went on, I had completed most of the social links that I was interested in and found myself wishing I could turn the clock forward past all the mundane school days and get to the next main story beat. Another instance where the connection between quest mode conflicts with school mode is the relationship between social links and Tarot Arcana. When a character asks the protagonist if he’d like to hang out, the player is prompted with a message indicating the benefits of this social interaction on the strength of his Personas. I found that this made my character seem like some sort of psychopath who weighs all of his interpersonal relationships based on the perks they’ll confer to his personal arsenal of demons. I realize that this prompt is just clarifying a mechanic in the game, but the direct acknowledgment of it in this context highlights how creepy the whole thing is.
  • Regarding the character-specific theming of each chapter of the quest, Persona 4 attempts to tackle some rather heavy themes such as anxiety, depression, sexuality, and gender identity. These are ambitious subjects for a video game to tackle (especially a Japanese game from 2008) and the execution sometimes feels a little clumsy by 2018 standards. That being said, I really have to commend the game for trying. Generally, Persona 4 achieves its goal of developing each member of the cast into a relatable person that the player can sympathize and root for.
  • While I didn’t know this going in, Persona 4 has multiple endings and it is extremely easy to accidentally get the bad ending. There is a key set of dialog tree decisions during a scene late in the game that determines which ending you get. To me, it seemed unclear which choices would lead to which path. I ended up reloading the scene several times only to get different variants of the bad ending each time before ultimately giving up and looking up the exact path through the dialog tree to get to the good ending. Thankfully, the game explicitly prompts the player to save the game right before this crucial scene.
  • Something that is often said about the Persona series is how stylish it is. I agree. The music and character animations give the game an extra helping of personality over pretty much any other RPG.
  • Some notes on how I played this game: I played on the easy setting and used a PS2 emulator so that I could make liberal use of save states. I have no regrets about either of these decisions. Losing progress due to large gaps between save points and getting wiped in unforgiving battles would have significantly hampered my ability to enjoy and finish a massive game like this.
Overall, I found that the gameplay of Persona 4 was interesting at first but lost its luster as the game went on; it was the strong characters and compelling central narrative that kept me on board for the 70+ hour campaign. I'm really glad I got to experience this landmark game and I know it will stick with me for quite some time. That being said, the investment of time and mental/emotional energy required to tackle a game as large and deep as this is something that I'm only prepared to handle occasionally. In all likelihood, it will be quite some time before I'm ready to dive into another Persona title.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Completion Time: 73 hours

If you would like to pick up a copy of this game while also supporting this blog, check out the Amazon affiliate links below:
Persona 4 - PS2
Persona 4 Golden - PS Vita




Monday, July 16, 2018

Ease Further Into Ys


After having so much fun with my last Ys streaming series, "Ease Into Ys", I've decided to delve even deeper into Falcom's classic action RPG series with Ys Origin. This game is a prequel to Ys 1 & 2, but according to the series experts at Digital Emelas, it is said to be best played after the first two installments of the series. If you'd like to get caught up on what happened in those games, I'd suggest this YouTube video:


Unlike the other Ys games, instead of playing as the series protagonist, Adol, Ys Origin has three playable characters with their own story lines. At this point, I've already played through the first character's quest offline in order to get familiarity with the game and will be starting the second character's quest on my Twitch channel. Ys Origin is much more action-oriented than other RPGs I've played, even when compared to other Ys games, so it should make for a pretty briskly-paced stream.

If you'd like to join me on my journey up the Devil's Tower in Ys Origin, be sure to tune into my "Ease Further Into Ys" stream on my Twitch channel every Tuesday, starting tonight (Jul-17) at 8PM EDT!

This game has an awesome soundtrack! If you'd like to give it a listen while also supporting this blog, check it out via this Amazon Affiliate link: Ys Origin Soundtrack

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Four Job Fiesta 2018 Wrap-up


Last night, my second Four Job Fiesta campaign came to a close and it was a wild ride! Partly because of my increased familiarity with the game, and partly due to the classes I rolled, this Fiesta went much more smoothly than the last. Here are the highlights:

  • My first job was Blue Mage. Compared to last year's White Mage, the early going was much easier. Once my Blue Mage learned some basic attack magic and the Vampire skill (i.e. draining enemy HP), I had my bases covered both offensively and defensively from the get-go. It also helped that Blue Mages can use light swords and shields, so they made for serviceable physical characters as well. The only downside was that having to hunt for the correct monsters in order to learn new skills was a bit of a chore. I generally don't like classes that require doing "homework".
  • Berserker was what I rolled next. I was initially concerned about giving up control of one of my party members, but this worked out really well. Having one character devoted purely to raw offense at all times allowed me to focus on using my other characters strategically. Later on, thanks to having Reeses (formerly known as Bartz/Butz) mast the Ninja job, I was able to equip a Berserker with two weapons, making him a physical damage-dealing machine.
  • The one job I had in common from last year was Ninja. This is an awesome class! With a weapon in both hands and the ability to throw swords and shurikens, a Ninja is a great offensive character. When physical damage doesn't cut it, equipping them with the Blue Magic ability also yields good results since they have better magic stats than most other physical attack classes.
  • My final class was the most interesting: Chemist. I was uncertain at first about how to best make use of my Chemist, but once I figured it out, she became the cornerstone of my late-game strategy. Her ability to buff my characters and serve as an item-based healer proved to be invaluable in the last few dungeons, and especially against the final boss. I had some concerns about gathering enough crafting supplies to use her to abilities to their full potential, but by the end of the game, I had more than enough Dragon Fangs and Dark Matters without having to worry about farming for materials.
  • The final showdown against Exdeath went far more smoothly than I ever could have imagined! I had Cara set up as a Chemist and Lenna as a Blue Mage with the Chemist's "Mix" ability. In the first phase of the battle, I had these two ladies of science and magic whipping up all manner of buffing concoctions so that my whole party had Shell, Protect, and Reflect status as well as double their usual HP capacity! Meanwhile, Reeses was a Berserker and Faris was a Ninja; each was in the "berserk" state and equipped with a weapon in each hand. These two just whaled on the boss nonstop. Since all the chemical buffs I used carried into the second phase of the boss battle, everyone was more than capable of withstanding whatever Exdeath could throw at us. It was only a matter of time before my two berserk characters beat him into submission!
  Overall, this was a really fun campaign that encouraged me to use skills and classes that I had previously never even considered! I also finished the campaign faster and at a lower level than last year: 35 hours and at level 42. Regarding the charity side, between my contributions and those from Twitch viewers, $85 (US) went to Child's Play! I want to give a big thanks to everyone who watched or donated this year, and I'm already looking forward to next year's campaign!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Crypt of the Necrodancer Review-like



In the past, music games and Rogue-likes are two genres I've always struggled with. However,
it's currently the last week of #RhythmGameMonth and there's a major game sale going on, so I decided to give Crypt of the Necrodancer a shot.

Overview
In this game, the player navigates through four procedurally generated dungeons while moving on beat to the background music. The enemies move along with beat as well. Since this is a
Rogue-like, any items collected or progress made within each dungeon are lost upon losing a life. Thus, each dungeon must be completed in a single life. The only thing the player gets to keep after a dungeon attempt is the game's currency, diamonds. Diamonds can be spent on persistent upgrades, such HP increases, that will make subsequent dungeon runs a little easier. Diamonds can also be spent on expanding the pool of temporary items that can appear within treasure chests inside the dungeons. While diamonds can be spent after a failed dungeon attempt, they do not accumulate between multiple runs; they must all be spent before starting another run. For example, if you want a permanent upgrade that costs 12 diamonds, all 12 of those diamonds must be gathered in a single run. Overall, the game flow consists of making repeated attempts at a dungeon in hopes of either: A) making it all the way to the end, or B) gathering enough diamonds to buy an upgrade that’ll improve your chances of success in subsequent runs.

Pros
  • Since this is a rhythm game, good music is essential. Thankfully, composer Dan Baranowsky delivers in a big way. If you’ve ever wondered what fighting skeletons and dragons at a rave would be like, play this game to find out. I really enjoy chip tunes and electronic dance music, so much of my motivation to push through the dungeons would be to hear the next level’s tracks. The game comes with several alternate music mixes as well and there is even an option in the PC version to replace the background music with your own MP3s.
  • Like many indie games, this one uses a pixelated faux-8-bit graphical style. What sets this one apart is the extra layer of personality applied to the sprite animations. Everybody dances. The golems roll their shoulders to the beat, the skeletons wave their hands in the air (like they just don’t care), and the shopkeeper accompanies the background music by singing opera.
  • This isn’t a game that you can just hack and slash your way through. Every enemy moves in a distinct way and each weapon behaves differently. Thus, survival requires figuring out the right approach to any given scenario. There is a surprising amount of strategy involved.
  • The procedural level design system works quite well. While no two runs are exactly alike, there is a consistent theme within each dungeon that makes them feel distinct. With a small handful of exceptions, the game does a good job of generating level layouts that make sense and are fun to explore.

Cons
  • The Rogue-like design of this game means you will be replaying the same dungeon dozens of times before you actually make it through. The randomization of the level layouts helps a little bit with the repetitiveness, but at a certain point, I was keenly aware that I was sinking a lot of time into this game without making any tangible progress.
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer is both difficult and unforgiving. While I understand this is part of the appeal of the game for some players, I eventually became frustrated with the combination of sustained perfection and luck that was required to succeed. When I would have a winning run, it was generally because I managed to maintain the intense focus and patience needed to avoid taking too much damage and be lucky enough to find chests with high-level gear.

If you’re wondering why this is a “review-like” rather than a real review, it’s because I haven’t managed to beat this game and I don’t like giving review scores to games that I haven’t finished. Of the game’s four dungeons, I’ve managed to beat the first one and make it as far as the boss of the second one, but with only a sliver of health left. After spending several hours banging my head against the wall in the second dungeon, I found myself at the point of diminishing returns and have decided to set the game aside. I'm disappointed that I won't get to experience the second half of the game any time soon but at this point, but I'd rather move on to something else than burn myself out on a game that I otherwise enjoyed.

Time Played: 6 hours
Recommendation: A great choice for Rogue-like fans, worth trying (on heavy discount) for everyone else

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bastion Review

 The Kid had a lot of pretty things to smash...

I've been meaning to play Bastion for quite some time since friends have been recommending it to me for years. While many people gush SuperGiant's first game, I came away with mixed feelings.

Pros:
  • The dynamic narration is easily the most interesting and distinct feature of this game. I can imagine context-sensitive narration was especially impressive back in 2011 when this game was originally released.
  • The watercolor art style looks really nice and gives the environments a fairytale-like quality.
  • Being able to upgrade weapons and change load-outs gives the player a lot of tactical options. I was able to experiment with a lot of different play styles by changing my character's melee weapons, ranged attacks, and special moves.
Cons:
  • The gameplay is fun at first but feels repetitive long before the game is over. While this game is often referred to as an "action RPG", it really feels more like a hack-and-slash action game to me.
  • I found that since the environments fade in and out of existence, I wasn't really motivated to explore.
  • As cool as the narrator was, I didn't find myself particularly engaged in the story he was telling. I think the fact that the story is almost entirely conveyed to the player via the narrator made me feel somewhat detached from the characters and world.
Overall, I found playing Bastion to be an interesting experience but I was ready for it to be over by the time I got to the end of the game. The artistic presentation and weapon variety were just enough to keep me bashing my way through until the credits.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐
Completion Time: 5 hours, 24 minutes

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

E3 2018 Highlights: Nintendo



With everything else crammed into Sunday and Monday, Nintendo gets and an entire day of E3 to itself. Since I'm a huge Nintendo fan, this works out well for me. The event was a tight 42 minutes that was a rapid-fire series of trailers in the beginning and then a lengthy deep-dive into Super Smash Bros in the back half.
  • Daemon x Machina -  A mecha action game from the producer of Armored Core. As I had mentioned in my previous E3 post, I'm a big fan of giant robots blowing each other up, so I was all about this. I really liked the art style and high-contrast colors. (trailer)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Country - The story expansion for Xenoblade 2 was shown off and it looks like a pretty robust package. It appears to be a prequel story set before the events of the main game. (trailer)
  • Pokemon Let's Go - More gameplay of the previously announced Pokemon gaes was shown. I'm interested in this mostly because it appears that the entire campaign can be completed in co-op mode. (trailer)
  • Super Mario Party - Mario Party will be returning to its original digital board game format. I was amused by the fact that the trailer for this showed people playing it while camping in the woods, a continuation of the Switch advertising style. (trailer)
  • Fire Emblem Three Houses - The new Fire Emblem game for Switch looks like it's going to be really good, however, we'll have to wait until 2019 find out for sure. It uses top-down perspective when commanding units and then transitions to a 3D Musou-like view for combat animations. (trailer)
  • Fortnite and Hollow Knight - Each of these games that were previously available on other platforms were announced for Switch. Both were made available immediately on the eShop at the end of the presentation. When I played Fortnight on PC, it didn't really grab me, but knowing how popular the game is, I'm glad it's available on Switch now. I've heard that Hollow Knight is excellent, so I'll be keeping that one in mind next time I'm looking to pick up a new Metroidvania game. (trailers: Fortnite and Hollow Knight)
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate - The bulk of Nintendo's presentation was devoted to the new Smash Bros game. The main takeaway was that every playable character that has ever been in any Smash game will be present in this one, even including oddball ones like Solid Snake and Ice Climbers. It was also revealed that Daisy is being spun off from Peach to be a new character and that the roster would have at least one all-new character: Ridley from Metroid! Previously, it was announced that Splatoon Inklings are also being added to the game; some of their mechanics were explained in more detail during the presentation. Overall, this looks like the most content-rich version of Smash yet, but not a dramatic change from what we've seen before from the series. (trailer)
While this wasn't a megaton blowout of a presentation, the games that were shown looked like a lot of fun. Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Octopath Traveler will be holding down the fort for the rest of the year as far as major new releases go and there are a couple of 2019 titles that look really promising. See below for the screenshots I took while watching the conferences.

Also, if you're interested in pre-ordering any of the games that were shown and also supporting this blog, please use this Amazon affiliate link:  Amazon Video Games


Daemon x Machina

Xenoblade 2 DLC
Pokemon Let's Go
Fire Emblem Three Houses
Super Smash Bros Ultimate

E3 2018 Highlights: Ubisoft, Sony, Square Enix, Limited Run, and PC Gaming

The second day of E3 was stacked really heavily with conferences! As excited as I was for E3 this year, this was a lot to take in within a single day! I did my best to round up the highlights, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Ubisoft
Most of Ubisoft's showing this year were status updates on the games they showed last year that have yet to be released. Much of what they had on offer this year wasn't my thing (gritty realistic shooters), but there were still some things to get excited about.
  • Beyond Good and Evil 2 - We got to see more cinematic scenes of this game after last year's brief glimpse. There was also a momentary look at very early gameplay footage. In the preview footage, it was revealed the Jade, the protagonist of the first game, makes a return, possibly as a villian this time around. Ubisoft said that the game is only being shown behind closed doors this year, so Beyond Good and Evil 2 is probably still several years from release. (trailer)
  • Mario + Rabbids Donkey Kong Adventure - The upcoming expansion for Mario + Rabbids was presented with a live musical performance featuring Grant Kirkhop, the game's composer. The gameplay footage showed Donkey Kong and Cranky Rabbid as new playable characters as well as a beach-themed world to explore. I'm looking forward to this one! (trailer)
  • Starlink Battle for Atlas - This was already looking like a pretty solid spaceship dogfighting game, but then came a big surprise: a cross-over with Starfox! Shigeru Miyamoto then took the stage with Yves Guillemot to introduce this new facet of the game. The Starfox content will only be available in the Switch version of the game. I'm a little concerned about this game's "toys-to-life" features but I'm cautiously optimistic about it for now. (trailer)
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey - I was surprised to see another Assassin's Creed game so soon! This one is set in ancient Greece and lets players choose between a male and female protagonist. Ubisoft heavily emphasized that this game is first and foremost an RPG, which seems like a continuation of the groundwork laid by Assassin's Creed Origin. This was also probably the most graphically stunning game that I've seen so far this E3. (trailer)
Sony
Sony had a very bizarre presentation that featured live music, multiple venues, and technical issues. It kind of felt like a mess. However, there was also plenty of game footage shown, though I must admit that much of it was not really my thing.
  • The Last of Us 2 - This trailer probably would have landing differently with me if I had played the previous game and knew the characters. The graphics were sharp and the action was intense and visceral. During the preview, I found the abrupt transitions between romance scenes and gory imagery to be rather off putting. (extended trailer)
  • Ghosts of Tsushima - A samurai action/adventure game with some really impressive enviroments. If any of the games from this conference are going to end up convincing me to buy a PS4, it will probably be this one. (gameplay video)
  • Control - There wasn't much said about this game, but it looks like an action horror game with some surreal visuals. Could be interesting. (trailer)
  • Resident Evil 2 Remake - The PS1 survival horror game is getting a complete modern remake! (trailer)
  • Death Stranding - In the past we've only seen cutscenes from Kojima's trippy new project. There was now some gameplay footage mixed in but it mostly just showed the character walking through the environment. I'm thinking this game is still a long way off from release. (trailer)
  • Spider-Man - We got to see more gameplay footage and get a better feel for the scope of the game world. This looks like it'll be a really fun superhero game. (trailer)

Square Enix 
Square Enix took a page from Nintendo's playbook and streamed a pre-recordeed presentation rather than doing a live stage show. This stream was a mostly no-frills 30-minute showing of trailers for upcoming games. There wasn't anything particularly exciting or surprising here.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider - It looked like more Tomb Raider. I loved the 2013 game but still haven't gotten around to its sequel. In general, this new one looked good but was nothing groundbreaking. (trailer)
  • Dragon Quest 11 -The PS4/PC version was shown and it showcased a colorful cast of characters. Since I've already got a lot of RPGs on the agenda for this year, I may end up waiting for the Switch version to come out later. (trailer)
  • Octopath Traveler - There wasn't any new information about this Switch-exclusive RPG, but it's my most anticipated game of the year, so it gets a mention. We may see more of it later during Nintendo's show. (trailer)
  • Just Cause 4 - The new Just Cause looked like even more chaotic open-world action and distruction than prior entries. I liked Just Cause 2 a lot since it managed to make open world traversal fun, rather than feel like digital commuting. I might jump back into the series with this one. (trailer)
  • The Quiet Man - A story driven action game that transition between live action cutscenes and CG gameplay. This was only a teaser, so very little information was provided. I haven't seen a game use live action footage like this in a really long time. (trailer)
Limited Run
Limited Run streamed a faux-stage event that made amusing use of deliberately bad CG. Since they're a company that primarily focuses on distributing physical versions of previously-released indie games, there wasn't a lot of news in this even unless you're a cartridge collector (which I am not). However, there were two announcements that jumped out at me:
  •  The House in Fata Morgana - In addition to physical game distribution, Limited Run announced that they are now in the localization business. Fata Morgana is a gothic mystery visual novel that was previously released on PC. While the PC version has an existing English translation from MangaGamer, Limited Run is localizing the PS4 and PS Vita versions which include additonal content. I'm curious to see how Limit Run's localization efforts will turn out. (trailer)
  • Cosmic Star Heroine - This Chrono Trigger-like JPG was released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One last year and its developer has been trying to get it released on Switch ever since. It looks like Limited Run was able to pull that off. I've been interested in this game for a while but have been waiting for a Switch version, so this was very good news! (I couldn't find a Switch-specific trailer but the game will look similar to the PS4 version)
PC Gaming 
I wasn't able to sit down and give the PC Gaming show my full attention, so I only caught bits and pieces of it on my phone. The PC Gaming show tends to feature an eclectic mix of AAA and indie games and this year was no exception. Here are a couple standouts from the parts of the show I was able to catch:
  •  Neo Cab - A cyberpunk noir game about a driver for an Uber-like company. I'm expecting a lot of social commentary in this one. (trailer)
  • Archangel Hellfire - I'm always down for giant robots blowing each other up, and this game looks like it will deliver exactly that. This is a multiplayer expansion to the arcade mech shooter Archangel that was released last year. I didn't realize this during the presentation, but apparently virtual reality equipment is required to play this game. (trailer)
  • Man Eater - A open-world action RPG in which you play as a shark and swim around eating people!? I'm intrigued. (trailer)
  • Yakuza - Sega announced that the Yakuza series is coming to PC starting with Zero and Kiwami! I've been wanting to try one of these games for a while, so I was very happy to hear this. Several other Sega games are coming to PC as well. (trailer)
  • Sable - A really beautiful adventure game with a striking hand-drawn art style. At first I thought I was looking at pre-rendered footage. (trailer)
  • Rapture Rejects - A battle royale game by the creators of the Cyanide and Happiness web comic. It looks like the exact sort of crude humor one would expect from the comic. (trailer)
  • Hitman 2 - The sequel to the 2016 Hitman game. This time 47 travels to Miami to take out targets with all sorts of weapons and tools, including a frying pan and a fish! (trailer)
This day of E3 was so tightly packed with games it's hard to get my head around it all! See below for the screenshots I took while watching the conferences.

Also, if you're interested in pre-ordering any of the games that were shown and also supporting this blog, please use this Amazon affiliate link:  Amazon Video Games


Mario + Rabbids Donkey Kong Adventure
Miyamoto and Guillemot on stage for Starlink
Assassin's Creed Odyssey with new female playable character
Last of Us 2
Ghosts of Tsushima
Control
Resident Evil 2 remake
Death Stranding gameplay
Spider-Man
Dragon Quest 11
Cosmic Star Heroine
Man Eater
Sable
Rapture Rejects
Hitman 2

Monday, June 11, 2018

E3 2018 Highlights: Microsoft, Bethesda, EA, & Devolver

E3 technically hasn't even started yet and there have already been three major press conferences. Some of these were so dense with material that there's no way I can summarize everything shown. Instead, here are some personal highlights from each show:

Microsoft
Microsoft threw so many games at us at a breakneck pace that it was very hard to keep up with it. In general, I felt that it was a very strong showing that displayed a diverse catalog of games. I went into this show expecting to mostly see gritty post-apocalyptic games (not my thing), and while there still plenty of those, racing, adventure, platforming, fighting, and even kid-friendly content were all also shown.
  • Halo Unlimited, Forza Horizon 4, and Gears 5 - As anybody familiar with Microsoft's first party holdings would expect, their three biggest franchises all had a presence at their conference. The Halo trailer was mostly a teaser to show of the engine, so it will probably be a while before we see anything from that. I don't have much experience with the Gears franchise but Gears 5 showed some pretty intense story cutscenes that seemed to resonate with fans. For me, the highlight of these three was Forza Horizon 4. I've never played a Forza game but this one looked gorgeous; it was probably the most graphically impressive game of the show. Racing across Britain through the seasons looked like a lot of fun. I'll probably renew my Microsoft Game Pass subscription so that I can give some of these a shot when they come out. (trailers: Halo, Gears, Forza)
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps - The vibrant and colorful 2D world of this platformer really set it apart from the other games at the Microsoft show. In some ways it reminded me of a Rayman game. It'll be a while before this one comes out but it looks like something to look forward to. (trailer)
  • Captain Spirit - Another adventure game from DontNod set in the Life is Strange universe (it has a universe now?!). Unlike the previous games in the series, this one focuses on a father and his young son (rather than teenage girls). Other than being some sort of emotional family tale, I couldn't really get a sense for what the game will be like based on the trailer. The game will be free though, so I'll definitely find out. (trailer)
  • Tunic - This Zelda-like game caught my eye during last E3's PC gaming show and it was here again during Microsoft's presentation. It looks much more polished than it did before. I'll be keeping an eye on it. (trailer)
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 - The new Kingdom Hearts appears to prominently feature Frozen which I thought was pretty cool (no pun intended). I don't really understand what's going on in this game otherwise but it looked pretty nice. (trailer)
  • Devil May Cry - A new Devil May Cry was announced. It looks like more of the edgy stylish character action one would expect from this series. The director made an in-person appearance which I thought was a nice touch. (trailer)
  • Jump Force - A fighting game that features characters from a bunch of shonen anime like Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. I felt like the dark gritty aesthetics of the trailer didn't match up well the characters. (trailer)
  • Cyberpunk - Microsoft snuck a trailer for Witcher developer, CD Projekt Red, in at the very end of their presentation and it was worth the wait. The trailer was mostly cutscenes rather than gameplay but it was apparent that the world they are creating for this game is going to be truly engrossing. I'm really looking forward to learning more about this game. (trailer)
Bethesda
While not as jam-packed with content as the Microsoft show, Bethesda had a strong presentation
  • Rage 2 - While the surprise of the announcement may have been spoiled by Walmart Canada, there was still a lot to see with Rage 2. The extended gameplay trailer showed a chaotic Mad Max-esque world that featured both FPS gunplay and vehicular combat. It reminded me of Borderlands, so I'm interested. (trailer)
  • Doom Eternal - There was only a brief teaser shown for the sequel to Doom (2016). Since it was one of my top games of 2016, I am very excited to be getting more of the new style of Doom. (trailer)
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood - A new co-op spinoff of Wolfenstein 2 starring BJ Blascowitz's twin daughters. I'm always down for new games with co-op campaigns, so this has potential. (trailer)
  • Fallout 76 - Normally Fallout games look too drab for my taste but this new one's depiction of post-apocalyptic West Virginia looked surprisingly vibrant. That being said, I'm skeptical about the multiplayer focus of this new game gelling well with gameplay experience that players typically expect from Fallout. We'll see. (trailer)
  • Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 - Only the briefest of teasers were shown for these. Starfield is a new IP and Elder Scrolls 6 is the follow-up to Skyrim. Other than acknowledging their existence, little is known about either of these. (trailers: Starfield, Elder Scrolls)
EA & Devolver
I skipped both of these conferences this year. I got the impression from others that both of these were pretty light on content. EA mostly followed up on previously announced games like Anthem and Battlefield 5. I was a fan of the story mode in Battlefield 1, so I'm glad to hear that it will return in Battlefield 5. There were a few small surprises from these shows, however:
  • Unravel 2 - A sequel to the artsy platformer starring a cute little yarn character. (trailer)
  • Sea of Solitude - An indie game that appears to be about depression and loneliness. It had a cool art style but that was all I able to glean from the trailer.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos - Devolver is remastering From Software's over-the-top mecha game. That's about all I know about it. (trailer)

Overall, I felt that both Microsoft and Bethesda had very strong showings. See below for the screenshots I took while watching their conferences.

Also, if you're interested in pre-ordering any of the games that were shown and also supporting this blog, please use this Amazon affiliate link:  Amazon Video Games

Halo Infinite reveal

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Tunic (aka "Fox Zelda")
Cyberpunk
Rage 2
Wolfenstein YoungBlood reveal
Fallout 76
Elder Scrolls 6 teaser

Monday, June 4, 2018

E3 & Four Job Fiesta 2018 Coverage

With E3 now than less than a week away, June is a huge month for gaming! On top of the spectacle of the industry’s biggest conference, this month also marks the kickoff of several smaller gaming events including one of my personal favorites, the Four Job Fiesta. I covered both events in this blog last year and that tradition will be continuing this year. Here are some details regarding my coverage for each:

E3
In 2017, I rounded up all my personal highlights for the whole event in a single post. This year I’ll be changing up the format, with a smaller roundup for each day of E3 (June 10 - 12) and then a closing thoughts post at the end of the whole event if time permits. I managed to get both Monday and Tuesday off from work, so I will also be giving some running commentary on my Twitter page as I watch each conference live. If the mood strikes, I may also do something E3-related on Twitch or Discord.

Note: Since EA is doing their conference a day earlier than everyone else, on June 9th, I will probably not be watching it live. If there is anything noteworthy to cover from it, I will roll it into my post for June 10th along with Bethesda and Microsoft.

Four Job Fiesta
One of the highlights of 2017 for me as a gamer was taking part in the Four Job Fiesta. I am very excited to announce that I will be participating once again this year! For the uninitiated, the Four Job Fiesta is a charity event in which participants play through Final Fantasy 5 and raise money for Child’s Play. The Fiesta uses a bot to randomly assign character classes to each player’s party which ups the difficulty and makes for some fascinating improvised strategies. While last year, I streamed all 40 hours of my playthrough on my Twitch channel, this year I will be playing the more mundane parts of the campaign (especially the grinding) offline and saving the bigger game moments for a stream or two per week. I will also be writing periodic blog posts on my Fiesta campaign progress, especially whenever I get assigned a new character class.

The Fiesta officially begins on June 19th, but prior to that, I will be conducting a charity auction similar to last year. The person who donates the most to the Four Job Fiesta will get the privilege of picking a new name for my main character! By the time this post is live, the auction will be open, so please contact me on Twitter if you are interested in placing a bid. The winner of the auction and new name for my character will be announced on a Twitch stream tentatively scheduled for June 14th. This stream will also feature gameplay up until earning the first job in FF5. My first character class will be revealed on my next stream on the first official day of the Fiesta. For my charitable contribution this year, I will donate $2 for each hour it takes to complete the campaign.

If you would like to participate in the Fiesta, donate money, or just find more information, check out the Four Job Fiesta’s homepage: fourjobfiesta.com