The year 2011… a preview.

The year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese zodiac calendar, so what better thing to do than to act like a rabbit and speed through things? Well… speed through some things, but make sure I do them right. Of course, I’ll be doing real life things, like actually not failing at school and doing things about my mental issues, but we don’t worry about that. Or, at least, we don’t worry about that in this post.

I think the main thing I want to accomplish this year is trying to finish out as many console backlogs as possible. Then again, that’s the goal for EVERY year, isn’t it? I know for the next semester, I’m going to have at least my DS, my PSP, and my 360 at school, along with MAYBE my PS2. Sadly because of rotor issues, I can’t finish as many PS1 games as I would like (until Sony decides to start releasing more PSOne Classics; supposedly Xenogears has been rated, so…), but I’ve got plenty of PS2 games to burn through. There’s also a couple of master runs I’d like to finish, both for myself and for charity, given the relative success of my charity run in Final Fantasy IX.

Games to Beat
– Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game [XBLA]
– Gunstar Heroes [XBLA]
– The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past [SNES/GBA]
– Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? [PSP]
– Zone of the Enders [PS2]
– Mega Man [NES/PS2]
– Mega Man 4 [NES/PS2]
– Mega Man 5 [NES/PS2]
– Mega Man 6 [NES/PS2]
– Mega Man 7 [SNES/PS2]
– Mega Man 8 [PS1/PS2]
– Metal Gear Solid [PS1]
– Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty [PS2]
– Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater [PS2]
– Star Ocean: The Second Story [PS1]
– The Legend of Dragoon [PS1]
– Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale [PC]
– Puzzle Agent [PC]
– Jolly Rover [PC]
– Super Meat Boy [PC]
– Portal [PC]
– Half-Life [PC]
– The Legend of Zelda [NES/GC]
– Dragon Warrior [NES/GBC]
– Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest [NES]
– Super Mario 64 [N64]
– Super Street Fighter IV [360]
– Gears of War [360]
– Final Fantasy XIII [360]
– Bayonetta [360]
– Deathsmiles [360]
– Golden Sun: Dark Dawn [NDS]
– Tales of Innocence [NDS]
– Ninja Gaiden [NES]
– Aquaria [PC]
– Xenogears [PS1]
– Devil May Cry [PS2]
– Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening Special Edition [PS2]
– Devil May Cry 4 [360]
– Bioshock [360]

Games to Buy
– Pokémon White [NDS] (3/6)
– Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation [NDS] (2/14)
– Dead Space? [360]
– Dead Space 2? [360] (1/25)
– Dissidia: Final Fantasy 012 duodecim [PSP]
– Gears of War 2? [360]
– Dead Rising 2? [360]
– Final Fantasy III [SNES]
– Mega Man Legends? [PS1]
– Xenogears [PSN/PS1]
– Bioshock 2? [360]

Planned Master Runs
– Final Fantasy I + II single-sitting run
– Final Fantasy Warrior SCC
– Final Fantasy II/IV single-sitting run
– Final Fantasy III/VI single-sitting run
– Final Fantasy VII single-sitting run
– Final Fantasy VII no materia run
– Final Fantasy VII initial equipment run
– Final Fantasy IX speedrun/Excalibur II run
– Final Fantasy X single-sitting run
– Kingdom Hearts KKSLUH run (Kingdom Key-only, Slow level-up, Hard mode)
– Kingdom Hearts II KKSLUPND run (same as previous, plus no Drive use)

Remember, these are just plans. I might do more, but I’m hoping to certainly not to less, except when it comes to the master runs. Somehow I think it wouldn’t be good for my health to do multiple single-sitting runs over a couple of school semesters (since I know most of them will be about 24 hours or a little less). If anything, I’m just hoping to get my unfinished count under 100 and have fun while doing it, while still keeping up with school (which I know I’m more than capable of) along with moving along with my transition.

Though I’d like to start now, it is sleep time. I might work on Dark Dawn or some other random stuff while driving around tomorrow.


New year, old ideas

I may or may not find an image to go with this topic, but considering I’m edging a little close to a deadline, I guess I’ll just keep it short and sweet.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned in the month of December so I couldn’t really do my posts the way I wanted to. I’m planning to fix that this year, as part of my New Year’s resolution to take more control of my life. Things have gone on too long with me just floating along; I need to be more proactive, take more action, and say, “this is my life, I’m going to do everything I can to make it the best it can be.”

So, starting today, we’re really going to work on this One-a-day thing. There will be 365 plus whatever number I did last December of entries by the time 2012 rolls around. And, hopefully, that will also bring a multitude of other good things happening in my life — in terms of school, my personal life, my health, my writing, and my gaming.

Here’s to a productive, healthy, and awesome 2011.

The sun rises

Sadly this isn’t about Dark Dawn. I know I’m getting it for Christmas (because I’m far too curious and sneaky for my own good), but I haven’t actually had a chance to actually sit down with the game in a capacity other than through an emulator, which… isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. No, this is about the series in general, which by many is the best RPG on the Game Boy Advance. And it’s true, in some ways. The sixth generation of consoles wasn’t kind to Nintendo in the RPG department – the GameCube had gems like Baten Kaitos, Tales of Symphonia, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Skies of Arcadia: Legends, but really that was about it. The GBA had Pokémon, the Final Fantasy ports, and… well, Golden Sun (there’s probably a couple random other games I’m forgetting, but none of them were really that memorable if I don’t have them; screw Chain of Memories). Given that Pokémon and Final Fantasy were already established, there wasn’t really any new IPs for Nintendo (save Baten Kaitos and Golden Sun).

Thus steps in Camelot in 2001. Having been known more for Shining Force than anything else, I really don’t know if anyone expected anything of the little RPGs. Me personally, when the first game came out, I paid it little heed, instead being enamoured with Pokémon Crystal (I could finally play as a girl!). There was this one guy at school (in band, of course) who would always be talking about the game to me. And when The Lost Age came out, the cycle continued – I was interested in the 3rd generation of Pokémon and the guy was raving about The Lost Age. Most of the time, I’d just smile and nod, but eventually I caved and bought the original Golden Sun. Man, was I missing out. I thoroughly enjoyed the first game (getting all the Djinn) and frantically searched around for copies of the second one once I had finished it. Of course, this was almost five years after the first game had come out, so everything was old news. But even still, even with the DS out there with its new Pokémon and Final Fantasy (along with a couple other worthwhile ports and some new IPs), the Golden Sun games held their own, having amazing graphics for the GBA and having gameplay that rivaled console cousins.

When word finally got out that they were actually making a DS sequel to the games, well… needless to say I wet myself a little. I’m anxiously anticipating actually popping the card into my DS and playing it for real. Though I’ll also have three other RPGs to contend with it on my little pink system – Dragon Quest IV and Dragon Quest IX, along with Tales of Innocence. Let’s not forget my ever growing 360 backlog, not to mention the additions of Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 2 when I finally get them.

Apologies for taking so long to get this entry out. I’ve been having a pretty bleh time of things, what with uni and all.

Missions missions missions

More Vesperia? Don’t mind if I do! This weekend was basically full of Street Fighter and Tales of Vesperia, more the latter than the former. Most of the time I ended up grinding for synthesis items so I could be fully outfitted with all the Skills I could possibly get. I did get most everything except for the current best armor, mostly because I was missing a certain item that you only get from a monster in the area you’re supposed to go to. I’ve since got all the items I need from them, but I’m kinda stuck at the end of the dungeon (though I could go back if I wanted).

Most of my problem is trying to get the boss’s Secret Mission. For those not in the know, every boss (or most every boss) has a “Secret Mission” associated with it, in which you have to do something specific in order to cause a scene to occur during the fight. For instance, in the latest boss fight, the Secret Mission involved knocking the boss character off of the stage. A lot of people seem to have trouble doing it, but on my second try, all I had to do was corner him and then use Overlimit to knock him off. There’s also an achievement associated with every Secret Mission (only worth 5g, but every point counts!).

The current boss’s Secret Mission involves knocking him over when he rears up for an attack. It’s… a lot easier said than done, though I’ve only tried fighting him once. More than likely when I get home this weekend, I’ll go back to it and get it.

Why am I doing all of them, you ask? For a title/costume change for the main character. Don’t you love Japanese RPGs?

Everybody was kung-fu fighting

Cyber Monday can make for some very interesting purchases, especially when you’re randomly given a gift card to Amazon. So, to pad my ever-growing collection of 360 games, given that I just got the system, I decided to snatch up a 360 copy of Super Street Fighter IV. It was only $14.99, plus free two-day shipping, so I thought, why not? I’ve been wanting it for a while now anyways and there are plenty of people to play against from my group of friends on the 360. Though I haven’t actually fought anyone online yet. All I’ve been doing is the Trials.

And boy do the Trials get you back into the groove of things. I’m mainly a “fast fighter” player – games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. I actually haven’t played a Street Fighter game “seriously” since Street Fighter II Turbo back on the Super Nintendo. I piddled around with Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game on… Saturn, I think, for a little while at a con once and I played a little bit of 3rd Strike on the Anniversary Collection, but other than that, I haven’t really played any Street Fighter at all. The Trials really help you learn the moves and their movements, I think, even if some of the later ones can get to be a bit stupid. It also helps you learn the timing for moves so you know in what frames certain moves work. Now, that’s actually really technical stuff, but it’s helpful.

As for the game itself… Maybe I started with the wrong character, or maybe it’s that I’m not used to the slower fighters, but I tried Arcade Mode using Ryu. The first two fights (against Guy and El Fuerte) weren’t that bad at all. But then came CPU Cody. Almost every time I tried (a whole three full fights), I got my ass handed to me. Maybe it’s a bad match-up, maybe I don’t know the game so well yet, maybe CPU Cody is just a bitch. But I know I’m going to really wait to do Arcade for a finishing of the game till I can talk to someone who knows the game and can tell me which might be the best to start with.

In terms of characters I really want to learn, though, I’m leaning heavily towards Guile (even though I’m terrible at charging), Cammy, and Dudley. After going through their Trials, I’m really liking both their design and how they play. Though, at least for Guile, I’m really going to have to work at them to get really good.

‘Splode again

From the awesome creative minds of Twisted Pixel, the studio that brought you gems as The Maw and Comic Jumper comes the sequel to one of the best and most popular games on XBox Live Arcade – introducing MS. SPLOSION MAN.

… okay, maybe that was a little too much of an industry pitch. But seriously, I absolutely loved Splosion Man. In fact, I loved watching it so much that the moment I got my 360, I went onto the Game Marketplace and bought it (only for it to drop down to 160 for Black Friday, so I wasted 740 of my points. *cries*). And then right afterwards, I went and spent $10 to get a Gold account so I could play the multiplayer with people. And even now I’m trying to get the last achievement for beating the game on Hardcore – which is actually a lot more fun than you might think!

I know for a fact I’m definitely picking this up when it’s supposed to come out next fall. … maybe the fact that it’s a purple/pink ‘sploding girl with a little bow helps a little, but I absolutely adored the gameplay of the original. We’ve yet to see how Twisted Pixel is going to refine it to make it even better, but I’m sure they can pull it off, if any of their other games are an indicator.

(via IGN)

Games as a means of escapism

I don’t know about most people, but I play games to get away from things. When I need to relax, one of two things happens: the music comes on or the games come on. We all have stuff that happens in our lives, but how we deal with them is what makes us different (well, one of the things). There’s really no right answer to something like this, so the best we can do is speculate.

But to me, it makes some sense that most people would use games as a means to get away from the real world – to escape into a digitally constructed world of characters that they have control over, a certainty that the real world cannot give. Whether it be your generic (space) marine, brown-tinted, shooter game or something as colorful as Flower, there’s a sense of control that gives peace to people who live in an otherwise chaotic and uncertain world. Some people take it even farther when it comes to things like MMOs, where you not only control events around you, but you also exert your own persona onto the digital world, either with your avatar or with your actions with the environment and other players. In some ways, it’s the ultimate form of escapism.

With games becoming more and more realistic, the line between virtual and reality gets further blurred, to the benefit and detriment of all – benefit for people who want that kind of realism and a detriment for those who get sucked into that world and replace the real one with a virtual one, simply because it looks similar enough, but it can be controlled. This feeling of control, I think, is what draws people in. So is the fun factor in games really a matter of how much control a player has over the game world? It would explain the popularity of strategy and simulation titles. It would explain why people get angry when the player character doesn’t move the way the player wants. But in order to truly explain “fun,” we’d probably have to get into game theory, and I haven’t read enough about that to do it justice. Certainly look it up yourselves if you’re curious!