Save Point

Money can buy everything except “love”, “friendship” and “exp points”.

Lots of Loot! May 29, 2008

Filed under: Metagaming — haounomiko @ 11:18 pm
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Not too long ago, I passed over getting a used copy of the DS game Touch Detective for $9.99 because I wasn’t sure whether it was any good; then I heard that it was, and that I should go back and get it if it was still available. Well, it was.

As were a lot of other things. Today seemed to be “tempting things you want being sold used!” day at GameStop, and I came away with quite a haul. I picked up Contact and Trace Memory, Ico (which I’ve been wanting an inexpensive copy of for a long time), and Wild Arms 3 (which I’ve heard is not great, but will probably provide me $4.99 worth of entertainment, which is what it cost). I passed over Tales of the Abyss (intriguing, but a bit expensive to add to my growing bargain-bin stack) and Shadow of the Colossus (which I can play at Justin’s place).

Now, if only I could find Silent Hill 1 for less than an arm and a leg (or, at least, the figurative equivalent– with Silent Hill, one wants to specify)…

 

Some Things Just Aren’t Worth It May 27, 2008

Filed under: Specific games — haounomiko @ 9:27 pm
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I’ve heard all about how Cooking Mama is a great game, and I like simulation-type games, so I thought I’d try it out.

I didn’t like it much. The problem is that it’s a good simulation. It is, in fact, very much like cooking for real. If I wanted to peel vegetables and try to saute everything so that it all gets cooked just the right amount at the same time, I would actually go into my kitchen and cook real food; then I would have a tasty dinner, which is a marginally better prize than a “Congratulations!” screen. (In point of fact, I usually do not want to do these things, which is why I am poster child for poor nutrition and not bothering to eat.)

Note to self: if someone makes a “clean out the catbox” game, no matter how well-received it might be, don’t bother.

 

This World Has Weird Plumbing May 26, 2008

Filed under: Metagaming,Retro games — haounomiko @ 10:54 pm
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I’ve been away for a while, attending an anime convention and visiting friends, hence the lack of updates. We played some classic Mario (I’d forgotten how much fun the American Mario 2 was! More about puzzles, less about making difficult jumps– right up my alley) and a bit of Katamari Damacy. I’d meant to finish Phoenix Wright 2 on the trip and start in on 3, but once my journey had begun, I turned on my DS to discover that I’d left it at home and instead brought– Kurupoto Cool Cool Stars. Noooooo!

The moral of the story? Next time, I’m bringing all my games. It shouldn’t really be much of a burden when my whole collection would fit in a CD case.

 

The Expanse of Endless Worlds and the Closed Window May 14, 2008

Filed under: Metagaming — haounomiko @ 4:38 pm
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Sasarai needed a PS2 memory card to transfer some saves, so he bought one at GameStop. I was surprised to see the yellow USED sticker on it– who sells their memory card? Presumably someone who’s selling the whole console, since there’s no other reason to want to do so.

Of course we looked at what saves were already on the card, since the previous owner didn’t delete them, and it was full of music games– Guitar Hero and the like. I said, “If those are the only games they’ve played, no wonder they were selling their console.”

Not to diss music games, of course; they’re fun. But I just can’t imagine that I’d be much of a gamer if music games were the only things I played. They aren’t deep, they aren’t full of as much to explore, and there’s only so much time that one would want to spend in front of the TV playing music games. By contrast, the whole of the gaming world is so deep and rich, so varied, so expansive, just beckoning me to come forth and explore these new lands. Whether it’s learning to fend for myself in the environs of Hyrule or flying over Narshe in an airship, finding out what tricks you can pull off with a P-switch in this level or crawling deep into an alien planet as Samus, I feel like there are so many places to go and so many things to do– more than I could ever even cram into one lifetime if I were an explorer or business traveller who spent my life shuttling from city to city. The things in games are so immeasurably varied and rich that there’s always something more to see. I don’t get tired of seeing everything there is to see in limitless virtual worlds; I don’t feel like I’m repeating the same thing I’ve been doing for the past few hours. I’m sure I’d get tired of Guitar Hero after a while and want a break, or perhaps even decide that I wasn’t going to bother playing it anymore.

I know that not everyone gets as much out of games as I do, but I still can’t help but wonder if a person who’s only ever played music games is missing out on something– learning that games are repetitive and full of sameness, that they’re fun but you really want to put them down after a while. I’m put in mind of the criticism often levelled at “girls’ games”, that by being mostly bad games they teach little girls that gaming is boring. Perhaps even a game that’s fun, but more repetitive and less engrossing than games can be, can teach a casual gamer that video games aren’t really all that great.

I remember when consoles used to come with a “starter game”– buy a Super Nintendo, get Super Mario World as part of the deal. I wish consoles nowadays would come with an excellent starter game, one that would show people what games can really be at their best. Even though not everyone likes the same genres, there are some games that have fairly universal appeal (who doesn’t like Katamari Damacy?) But of course, then someone would have to invest an enormous amount of time and effort into creating a wonderful game sure to be a megahit remembered fondly for decades to come– and include it as a free bonus with the console. Do we really want consoles to be more expensive, in that case? It’s a quandary.

I suppose the easy solution is to shrug and say, well, if someone doesn’t discover good games and they miss out, that’s their loss; leave the gaming to those who do. But discovering gaming is a matter of luck– kids discover video games if they happen to play them at a friend’s house or if their parents happen to decide that video games are a good gift; adults discover video games only if they’re very lucky. I’d like for everyone to have the opportunity to see the best of gaming before deciding whether it’s for them or not.

 

The Benevolence Of Squarekind May 11, 2008

Filed under: Specific games — haounomiko @ 11:51 pm
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I’ve been playing Kurupoto Cool Cool Stars for the DS. If you’ve never heard of this game, there is probably a reason, that being that it is not exactly well-done. The translation is nearly incomprehensible, and it’s an extremely simple game to begin with, so I doubt it has many fans. Still, I am a puzzle addict, so that doesn’t stop me.

It’s very obviously a children’s game– you can tell this from the beginning, which is about how the moon sneezed and the stars fell down to earth (a more G-rated tale than Katamari.) The stars have to retrieve their haloes, and they are aided in their quest by a family of pastel squares who strongly resemble Snood blocks, particularly when you complete a level. There are yodeling trees, and everyone is kind to each other and has the best of intentions. Also, it’s almost painfully easy. After completing a handful of constellations, no more were to be found, and I had thought that I had completed the game– and was only a little bit surprised when the ending appeared to consist entirely of a random picture of a dog.

However, I tried to restart the game on “normal mode” (without story) and I found a whole slew of new constellations with different puzzles to be completed. The new ones were slightly harder, so I hoped that the game gets harder over time. However, the difficulty hasn’t really gone up since then, so I’m starting to lose hope for that, and my patience in trudging my way through the easy levels is wearing thin. It isn’t entirely pointless, though– the puzzles are easy, and as I’m turning and examining them, I often end up brute-forcing a solution completely by accident. But finishing them in the shortest possible number of turns (earning a golden crown atop the star) is sometimes a bit challenging in that it requires looking at it closely and often repeating the level, so even if it doesn’t get harder, it’s not a complete waste for me. Also, it’s a good time-filler– the puzzles are quite short and the game auto-saves your progress, so you can pick it up for even a minute and do a level or two.

I wouldn’t actually recommend this game to adults– anyone who likes puzzles is most likely good enough at them that this game will be too easy. However, I think it would be fun for a kid, if that kid can sit still through lots of similar puzzles and not get bored.

 

Annoyed Hub

Filed under: Specific games — haounomiko @ 4:39 pm
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Last night Sasarai was going through the Al Bhed Home part of FFX, featuring someone repeatedly shouting something in Al Bhed through a loudspeaker. Of course I couldn’t understand what they were shouting (for all I know, it was “you can’t understand Al Bhed, lol”), but it sounded like “an annoyed hub”. We were joking about this, particularly that after a while it became annoyed players.

I wonder if the developers were trying to give us an authentic frustrated experience, or if they just didn’t realise how irritating the repetitive shouting would be. It’s a strange idea, to think that we might deliberately make entertainment annoying (unless perhaps it’s a toy for little kids, in which case it’s not the primary consumer being annoyed, anyway). It’s rather like how sometimes games need to evoke boredom or the passage of time, as when your character is locked in a jail cell or cast away on a raft; they want the player to have the idea that it’s boring, but not too boring. I suppose there is an art in trying to reach a balance where the game will evoke enough negative feeling to draw us into the story and make us feel as if we’ve gone through a lot, but not so much negative feeling that it stops being worth it for us to play through that part.

In other news, I picked up a gaming magazine yesterday, and it introduced me to a new series that Squenix is trying to establish to go along its old flagship titles of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. That’s terribly ambitious, but also good news to me, because I like new series that are just starting up. If the developers are going to put a lot of energy into something that’s not constrained by prior series expectations, that makes me happy. It also seems that the plot is political, which I like because it feels very world-spanning without being so much of a calamity that one can’t really wrap one’s mind around the potential damage. It’s possible that I might be tempted into buying a PS3 for this game, if it is a success. I still want a Wii more, though.

 

Konami Makes Obvious Move; Fans Pleased In Predictable Manner May 9, 2008

Filed under: Consoles,Metagaming,Retro games,Specific games — haounomiko @ 3:55 pm
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I said this wasn’t a news blog, right? But I have to say that Suikoden’s re-release leaves me excited. I know far too many people who’ve had trouble getting a copy of this game, people who’ve borrowed it but would have bought it if only it weren’t so rare and expensive. I’ve been saying for ages that Konami would make so much money if they’d just re-release this game (and the second one, which is even rarer)– simply put, it may even have reached a point where there are more people who want it than there are copies in existence.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly glad when game companies are busy making new titles instead of trying to ride on the success and popularity of their old ones. But when it comes to rare games that’re selling for high prices and can’t be found on any console for a lower price, re-releasing seems like a no-brainer, a win for everyone. It wouldn’t even need to be changed to be re-released, since everyone can still play PS1 games on their current Sony consoles, so it’s not obsolete (except, I suppose, to those who find old graphics to be unpalatable no matter how good the game is– in which case, I pity their never being able to experience SMB3.)

In short, yay. Now, I just need to be able to find a copy of Silent Hill 1…