Avatar for secularsage



  • Registered 3 years ago
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I write. I research. I play games.

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  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 22 days ago

    I remember my jaw dropping back in 2015 when the first trailer showed off that gorgeous UI. I thought then, "this game is going to be incredible if they put that much thought into it."

    The thing is, the entire game has that level of polish. I'm only a few hours in, but I've been greatly impressed so far. The really dull aspects of getting your school year started are handled quite well, and the first palace is an evolutionary leap forward compared to Persona 4's first TV World dungeon. The combat, too, is so smooth and fast, with all of the SMT systems intact somehow. It's breathtaking.

    I'm glad Zelda came and went, because I have a feeling I'll be playing P5 fairly exclusively for the next month or two. Persona 3 and 4 are both games I sunk 100+ hours into on a single playthrough and could easily replay. P5 seems like more of the same, in the best possible way.Edited 4 weeks ago by Unknown

    Posted in Persona 5 Is Proof That Impeccably Stylish UI Design Matters

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage A month ago

    First of all, you should never believe anything Nintendo says in response to these sorts of situations. They are notoriously opaque and extremely controlling of the home console market, habits they developed long ago and are unlikely to change.

    Second, Nintendo has every ability to control the cart prices because they act as a middleman to manufacture the carts. The Game Cards are likely pretty inexpensive to make, due to Nintendo's philosophy of using established tech rather than the bleeding edge, and that they're non-writable is likely to make them cheaper, not more expensive, to manufacture.

    Third, the parity rule is stupid, but it also reflects a broader problem of Nintendo expecting to command premium prices for its content when every other platform treats physical releases as a premium ceiling for pricing and digital as the floor. Nintendo refuses to understand that physical products have a higher value because of the secondhand market, and Nintendo further complicates things by making its digital products a pain and a gamble to own.

    Fourth, and this is most important of all, Nintendo has proven with its actions time and time again it really doesn't care that much about indies, which is a mistake, since indies have proven to be a valuable source of content during the early adoption phase or lean release times of a console. Nintendo tried to court indie developers back at the Wii U launch and quickly found themselves getting the cold shoulder from most because of their low playerbase and their restrictive policies. Even those who believed in Nintendo enough to launch an exclusive title on the platform generally launched elsewhere eventually.

    I have nothing against Nintendo. They're a tremendous company with a powerfully creative culture amidst all that stuffy traditionalism. I just recognize their bad business practices for being what they are and wish they'd stop trying to do things their own way and start listening to their developers and end users' concerns.

    Posted in Nintendo Rules and Cart Prices Making Switch Games More Expensive [Report]

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    I love Castlevania - it's one of my favorite game series and I've played through all of the games up through Order of Ecclesia with great enjoyment. (I do not care for the Lords of Shadow series games or their reboot of the story. Ewww.)

    And I have to agree with Nadia - Castlevania works as a game series because it's just the right mixture of referential to old horror tropes, action-driven and weird. It's very much in the weird horror spirit of Bram Stoker's original novel Dracula, but also in the cheesier horror spirit of the 1930s Universal monster films or the 1940s and 50s films that followed. (The film Van Helsing, while not that good, is a great example of this style in more modern cinema.)

    The stories for the games are just enough to give the characters a motivation for what they're doing without requiring tons of explanation, and the characters themselves don't have a lot of depth. They're on a mission through a demon castle to destroy evil, and whatever their original intentions, it's usually the villains and side-characters, not the heroes, who are the most memorable part of the adventure. Castlevania is about exploration and encounters with strange things - the castle is as much a character as anyone in the game, and Dracula's only interesting because he's the lord of it.

    You know what sucks? The comic book series IDW produced that turned Castlevania into another vampire hunting story. And that's what I fear the Netflix show will be, even with Warren Ellis attached.

    Posted in Opinion: I Don't Have Much Hope for the Netflix Castlevania Series

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    My concern about the Switch is my concern with ANY Nintendo product since the N64: is it going to be a real game platform, or is it going to be another expensive, toy-like experience that's mostly used for playing games Nintendo itself has developed or published?

    Every time Nintendo releases a new console, the cycle is predictable: there's massive enthusiasm, there are crazy stockouts, and there's lot of buzz about whatever the flagship launch title was. And then, over the next year, people forget the thing existed and the discussion becomes, "Why isn't Nintendo doing more to make this platform successful?"

    The Wii was truly different not just in its novelty, but in how excited Nintendo was about it. They knew they were doing something really groundbreaking, and they couldn't stop talking about the possibilities of it. It was the first time since the Famicom/NES that Nintendo focused on releasing simple games aimed at casual audiences instead of more sophisticated franchise titles. Most of those wound up being the best-selling games on the platform.

    That excitement is really lacking in the Switch. So much of what the Switch promises is vague, and there's just not a lot of software to get excited about yet, much like the Wii U launch. Sadly, my suspicion is that it's a cool-looking piece of gear that will be obsolete once the novelty wears off. Unlike the 3DS, which found a sustainable market in portable games aimed mostly at youngsters, the Switch seems like an expensive sequel to the Wii U, which wouldn't be so bad if it actually played the small (but great) library of games Nintendo built for that platform.

    I say this as someone who's owned some form of every Nintendo console (including my Wii U, which I still play). I'll buy a Switch too (though not on pre-order; early adoption's an expensive way to go with any Nintendo product). But I suspect the initial enthusiasm will cool quickly when folks realize the price tag isn't worth a slightly upgraded version of Zelda.

    Posted in After Finally Getting My Hands on the Switch, I Feel Better About My Preorder

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 5 months ago

    Meh. These aren't great sales even by Nintendo standards. Best I've seen today has been Pokemon X and Y for $20 each at Best Buy - probably the best deal you'll ever get on a core Pokemon game.

    Posted in Nintendo Black Friday Sale Offers Half-price eShop Games

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 5 months ago

    My kids are really into the XY and XYZ cartoons, and they've gotten me into the X/Y games, which feature a good mix of old and new. And honestly, many of the newer Pokemon (especially the Gen 6 ones) are really strong; my kids love Pancham, Dedenne, Froakie, Fennekin, Riolu, Chespin and Noibat (and the evolutions) as much as they love the classics, and in their minds, there's no division between the generations because they're just getting into Pokemon now, and the games and cartoons make use of Pokemon from every generation. Every generation brings about some mascot-style characters and some really weird ones, and it's always interesting to see how old cult favorites get retooled in newer play systems.

    I'd argue it's all ultimately a function of age. I remember when Ruby and Sapphire came out how fans of the GB era complained that the new Pokemon were too weird or different, and I pointed out then that the reality was that they'd probably just outgrown Pokemon. They weren't watching the anime/movies anymore or talking with schoolyard friends about the games; they were college students or adults who were judging the new Pokemon based on their in-game utility. They were missing some of the key elements that made Pokemon so much fun, and I'd suggest that it's one reason why Pokemon Go (which brought as many adult fans together as it did children) got so popular over the summer and helped make the series publicly notable again.

    Posted in Hey Pokémon Fans, It's Time to End Our Obsession with the Gen One PokéDex

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 6 months ago

    I'm cautiously optimistic. While I actually enjoy my Wii U and 3DS a lot more today than I did when I first got them, it's still really difficult to get overly excited about Nintendo technology when Nintendo refuses to offer a halfway decent user interface and doesn't traditionally offer much in the way of internal storage.

    I'm also suspicious that the Nintendo Switch's graphics aren't going to be that much better than what the Wii U already provides given the reliance on a Tegra chipset (which is known for producing a lot of heat and which isn't very friendly on batteries). That tablet screen also looks really small - smaller than the 12" Surface screen I'm typing this on, and probably more like an iPad's screen. The included stand also doesn't look very stable, and anyone who's ever owned a Surface will tell you that even its stand (which is very well-designed) only works well on very flat surfaces.

    There's also the question of backwards compatability. Are the Joy-Navs motion controllers? Does the system support Wiimotes in any way? If not, a good chunk of the previous Nintendo library from 2006-2016 won't work on the Switch - even platform games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii have a shake mechanic.

    There are also more practical questions, like "How does the Switch navigate going between WiFi networks?" and "What happens if you start online, move to a place without Wi-Fi, and try to continue your game?" The 3DS and the Vita have both shown that this doesn't work so well in execution, and what winds up happening is that you're either fiddling with Wi-Fi or sighing and putting your device in airplane mode.

    All of this isn't a deal-breaker, but the reality is, this thing's going to need specialized software, which means it's going to receive fewer ports from other systems and have the same huge reliance on Nintendo and its development partners, many of whom aren't going to be excited to stop developing cheaper handheld games for the 3DS to try to focus on more expensive titles for the Switch.

    Posted in Nintendo NX Revealed as the Nintendo Switch

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 7 months ago

    I feel like NES gamers are finally starting to realize what Atari gamers figured out a decade ago - many of their old favorites really don't hold up compared to the games available today that are informed by them.

    I've been realizing lately even a number of the games we call classics are games you had to be there to understand.

    Consider Metroid: a true classic, right? If you played it in 1986 and loved it, sure. But to a modern gamer, the game is incredibly obtuse, hard to control and has a maddening password system. Metroid II: The Return of Samus has also not held up well at all (despite being a classic in many peoples' books), and a lot of that has to do with how the Gameboy hardware created gameplay compromises.

    But Super Metroid? Not only does it legitimately hold up as a great game even today, but it's also a game that even those that have come after it have had trouble equaling. There's something really different about that game - the design, presentation and controls all work together to create something that holds together for the long term. And that's a relative rarity, since many retro games require more than a little bit of qualification to enjoy in a modern context.

    As for me, I still enjoy discovering games I missed as an NES gamer and playing them in a modern context, because I'm able to play them without the baggage of expectation. It makes finding a game I'm stumbled upon recently like Shadow of the Ninja much more interesting when I can see it for its flaws as well as its strengths.

    Posted in Your Reminder: Games Have Always Been Mostly Terrible

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 8 months ago

    We DO need more games like No Man's Sky, and not just in terms of genre (though it's welcome) - what NMS really delivers on is the promise of what older cRPGs and space adventures used to provide (Starflight, Star Control II, etc.) while making the interface easy and accessible for modern players. And that's a really big deal, especially when it begins with an artistic vision ("Jump into the covers of 1970s sci-fi novels!") instead of a mechanical one.

    From HelloGames' perspective, their indie game has been a massive success, and it's certain other developers are watching. But what's especially good is that now that the product is out there and can be seen in action, it can be replicated and improved upon. The good elements of NMS will surely be a part of many games to come, and the less exciting elements will certainly be appended.

    And even Starbound, which is a really excellent game, wasn't created in a vacuum. It owes a debt to many games before it and executed a unique vision of turning those ideas into a space exploration and combat game. What it does well it adapts from the games that inspired it, and its lengthy pre-release process helped to refine those ideas even further. It'd be awesome to see developers take NMS and give it the Starbound treatment.

    Posted in I Really Want More Games Like No Man's Sky

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 8 months ago

    It occurred to me recently that Final Fantasy VI is styled after an epic opera, which is perhaps why it includes a villain who looks like an Italian clown and why there are multiple layers of plot that weave in and out like songs (including an opera within an opera!).

    I don't know why that didn't occur to me when playing the game - the beginning, after all, has a dramatic overture and everything! - but the more I've reflected on it, the more I've realized that it's exactly why the game feels so strange compared to other entries in the series. It's not as cohesive because it's broken into segments that communicate broader themes about the story, and the game goes out of its way to ensure that the characters all have their turn in the spotlight during and after the game (rather than focusing solely on one or two protagonists). Whenever I replay the game, I remember how strange the game really is and how much weirdness is in sequences that take places in places like the Phantom Train, the town of Zozo, the Magitek factory, the Esper World and the Veldt. Music plays such an important role in the game that it wouldn't feel the same without it, and the melodramatic moments only work because the game takes such pains to make the character archetypes bold and recognizable in appearance and in interactions.

    The games that followed increasingly felt like they were trying to be derivative of anime and Star Wars. And while I'd argue that FF IX and X hold up better than any other games in the series (and Chrono Trigger is the superior SNES JRPG), I think VI gets a lot of credit for being a JRPG that tried to be something much bigger than another fantasy-based adventure and which still hasn't been surpassed in its willingness to break its world into pieces to force the player to feel the despair of its cast.

    Posted in Final Fantasy VI, the Essence of a Franchise Distilled for SNES