Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

March 29, 2013

Post #300 -- Our Final Fantasy

And here we are again.

I was thinking about skipping this “oh, hey, I reached a new milestone!” post, seeing as how this one coincides a little too neatly with the 1-year anniversary of the site.  It’s really awkward positioning, and tooting my own horn isn’t something I’ve ever been in the practice of.  So maybe from now on, this’ll be the last time I ever make note of a benchmark in the title of a post -- maybe I’ll make a mention of it in the first line or two of my virtual spews, but that’ll be it.  We’ll see.

But enough of that.  If the last milestone post (and the one before it) are any indication, then this is going to be high on the rankings for a while yet…which I find inexplicable, but who am I to argue with the logic of the internet?  All I can do is put out content and hope that it doesn’t inspire divine rage. 

I doubt that’ll be the case for this post -- probably because it’s got a bit of “real talk” within it.  Or at least real-ish.  Real in accordance with my skill set.

…So yeah. Not very.

March 25, 2013

I Hraet You -- The Character Page!

It's here at last!  Relatively speaking!

It goes without saying, but the next time you see this page, it won't be the same as before.  It'll be tucked away in a part of the I Hraet You tab, and things will be altered as needed.  Inevitably that means more character bios and art, because if my files are any indication there are still quite a few to go; no doubt I'll be getting some of those guys up later on.  And of course, there are certain details about these characters I've kept under wraps, for obvious (spoiler-based) reasons.  So once new chapters come in, it might be a good idea to check back every now and then.

But enough talk.  Please enjoy some brief descriptions of the cast as I showcase my tedium-bred MS Paint skills.

Oh, and GraphicsGale.  So much technology, guys.  

Let’s “discuss” God of War: Ascension.

Hey, have you ever heard of that game Mystic Heroes?

It’s an old GameCube (and PS2) title by the guys who did the Dynasty Warriors series.  And it shows; aesthetic differences aside, the goal -- as always -- is to make your way across the map, beating down as many undead soldiers, monsters, and generals as you can.  To the game’s credit, its greatest strength is the addition of magic that helps break up the monotony of mashing the attack button.  Press the Y button, and fire off, say, some lightning bolts.  Hold it down, and you can target enemies with lock-on magic.  Hit X, and you’ll be able to spice up your physical attack with magic -- and a chance to cause a status effect that’s dependent on the attack’s element (wind confuses, lightning slows, fire burns, ice freezes).  Couple that with some RPG mechanics and plenty of magic types to seek out and equip, and you’ve got yourself a handy-dandy little game.

Is it perfect?  No, of course not.  And it’s definitely started showing its age.  And that voice acting is something else, to the point where I wouldn’t even call it voice acting.  But I still like it; part of it’s in a sort of sympathetic “aw, bless your heart” capacity, as you’d expect.  But part of it is because I’m genuinely having fun with the game.  I’m planning on playing through it some more as soon as I’m able (and maybe doing a little post on it somewhere down the line).

It doesn’t bode well for God of War: Ascension when I realized I'd rather play a decade-old game instead.

March 22, 2013

Final Fantasy 13-2: Good Morning, Kupo! (Part 8)

Confession time: I’m really wary of my ability to make a good setting.

I’ve had this complex for years now.  Characters I can do, and enjoy doing.  Themes?  I can work with those.  Plot?  Give me enough time, and I can pound something out.  Setting?  Nope, nope nope nope -- you’re asking the wrong guy. 

This may be a case of me being too modest, but then again I’ve always been nervous about coming up with my own settings (and my technique in general, but we’ll set that aside for now).  Can I build a fantastic world?  Can I make it unique?  Can I weave in a framework and details?  Can I keep those details straight?  Can I even write a scene well?  There’s no doubt that I’m better at writing than I’ve ever been -- and I’ll be saying the same a year from now -- but considering what’s out there, I can’t help but get a little pensive.  Especially considering all the points that go into building a setting; I’d like to think that one day I’ll have to put some serious work into leveling up my geography skills.

Is it possible for me to get better?  Of course.  That’s pretty much a given; the fact that I’m willing to both admit my weakness and start envisioning what I need to do means that what might be my weakest point now could become my strongest (and then I’ll start faltering in another area, just to balance things out).  Whatever the case, I know that I’ve got the potential to go up and up, as long as I put in the effort and use my head.

It certainly helps that I’ve got something in particular to try and beat.

March 20, 2013

Let’s discuss video games -- with a vengeance.

Dare I say it…with a REVENGEANCE?!  (Seriously, though.  Go play Metal Gear Rising if you haven't yet.  Trust me on this.)

Improbable synonyms for a vendetta aside, I’ve been thinking about games a lot recently…well, about as much as usual, give or take a degree.  The 3DS has been out for a while now, and the Wii U is firmly lodged in stores, the hands of gamers, or the minds of millions as they wait for their store of choice to restock (at least if the Wii’s original unavailability is anything to go by).  It makes me wonder about the future of games; what’s going to happen next?  I remember how a friend of mine was utterly infuriated by Nintendo in its E3 showing, but as I’ve said (in real life and in other contexts), Nintendo’s not in any danger of failure.  The Wii U is going to be fine, hiccups here and there aside.  And while I have many…many…many reservations about the future of other companies -- hardware or software developers -- I’m more than willing to assume everything will work out.

That said, I can’t help but feel like taking steps back every now and then -- remembering the good old days, and smiling fondly thanks to those simulated sights.  And that’s why the theme of this round of Let’s Discuss is “return” -- get ready for games old and new-ish.  What will pop out before your eyes?  What fiendish sights will wreak havoc on your optic nerves?  What hyperbole can I slip into the next fifteen words or so?  Find out, or you’re certain to face a reality-destroying apocalypse!

March 18, 2013

I Hraet You -- Act 1 Recap

The first rule of I Hraet You recap videos is: you do not talk about how long it took to make I Hraet You recap videos.  And that’s all I feel like saying about that.

In any case, here’s a little something from me to you.In preparation for the upcoming deluge of new chapters for I Hraet You -- the so-called web serial novel thingamajig that’s been a fixture of this blog for the past year or so -- I’ve managed to put together a video that sums up everything that’s happened so far.  Well, “slide show” is probably the more appropriate term, but you get the idea.  In any case, this right here is fifty-five chapters (at least a hundred thousand words) summarized and compressed into a ten-minute video…featuring music from The King of Fighters…and one song from World of Goo.  I’m really getting a lot of mileage out of that four-disc soundtrack that came with KoF XIII.

Shame they didn't include any of the songs from 2002 UM, though.  Undercover is my jam.  And they left off the KoF XI version of Still Green?  That's just -- oh, right, I Hraet You.  Can't get too carried away now.

March 15, 2013

Final Fantasy 13-2: Good Morning, Kupo! (Part 7)

Before we get started, there’s something I want to talk about -- and thanks to Sirrah Yllib for bringing this to my attention.  It looks like I haven’t brought up anything about the music yet…and a part of me’s tempted to leave that bit of the game out.  I do all right when it comes to music (listening to it rather than playing it), but I’m no expert.  And when it comes to 13-2’s music I don’t have all that much to say.

It’s serviceable.  There are a couple of good songs in there, and a couple of…well, let’s call them weird songs and leave it at that.  The other songs?  Honestly, I don’t feel like they’re worth mentioning.  They’re not terrible, but you won’t see me shuffling off to YouTube to try and figure out what that one song during that one scene might have been -- kind of sad, considering that I’m almost always listening to video game music when I write these posts.  Still, I wouldn’t chalk it up as another failure of the game.  Not yet, at least.  While a good video game practically necessitates a good soundtrack, 13-2’s inoffensive music doesn’t do quite as much harm…unless of course, you’re the sort who puts extreme value on music.  In which case, express disappointment as needed.  I know I have with…you know…everything else.

March 13, 2013

Let's "discuss" Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

…Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom
The power, and the glory,
Forever and ever.

…So.  I tried CoD’s campaign the other day.

March 11, 2013

Let’s discuss Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Part 2).

You know, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my brother a couple of weeks ago.  He was really excited about the then-upcoming release of Revengeance; knowing that I tended to keep a pulse on game reviews, he asked me if I thought it would get good scores -- especially in comparison to the fresh-on-the-market DmC.  I gave him my prediction.  “No, it probably won’t get good reviews.  There’s no denying that it’ll be good, but the scores won’t be as high as DmC’s.  People will probably say the story is stupid, or confusing, or something.  Or some other flaw.”

And then the scores started popping up.  And indeed, it has seen some favorable reviews -- not enough to put its Metacritic score over DmC’s, but it is a close race.  That length seems to be a major sticking point.

But if there’s one thing that I’m starting to learn as of late, it’s that reviews are merely a suggestion of quality, not a confirmation of it.  Maybe my standards have just become annoyingly high in the last few years, but the sheer number of nines and tens from the gaming press seem to be less and less likely to translate into a “great game, great experience”, at least in my eyes.  I’m the kind of guy who READS the reviews, not just glances at the score.  And when I read about issues with the new Tomb Raider and issues with the new God of War, I’m starting to fear that I need to start magnifying those problems to figure out if a game is right for me.  Maybe I need to be doubly-negative.  If reviewers won’t be critical, I guess I’ll have to.

Which brings us back to Raiden’s Ass Kicking Jamboree.

WARNING: You are in for a crap-ton of spoilers if you read carelessly, so if you’re looking to play the game first with a fresh perspective, do so immediately.  Also, don’t do what I did and forget that the Select button lets you access the Codec and plenty of conversations with your pals.  Cripes, I’m terrible at Metal Gear games…

March 6, 2013

The Curse of the Protagonist?

You know, I’ve been thinking.  (Cue hellish organ chord and stroke of lightning here.)

I think I might have a problem -- one that only seems to become more prevalent as time passes.  It’s probably because I play a lot of video games, but I don’t think my “affliction” is linked to just one medium.  Movies, TV, books, what have you -- time and time again, I find myself wishing things were different.  That things were more to my tastes.

All too often, I find myself thinking that the main character is kind of boring -- and wishing that one of his friends was the story’s focus.

March 4, 2013

The Secret Origin of Princess Peach (In Theory)

I know that opinions may vary pretty wildly on the game, but in all honesty I like PlayStation All-Stars.  I like it a lot more than I thought I would, and even months after its release I’ll go out of my way to play online (now more than ever thanks to the presence of Emmett “Easy Money” Graves).  It’ll be interesting to see what comes next for the game, both in terms of new characters and in terms of a sequel that can improve on what we have already. 

Still, if there’s one thing I lament -- coming from someone who’s spent years playing the Smash Bros. games -- it’s the absence of a lot of true all-stars.  Chief among them, Princess Peach.  My brother swears up and down that she’s overpowered/broken, but even if that was the case (and I suspect not, given her tier list placing), I still like her beyond just giving me a good shot at victory.  There’s just something refreshing -- or maybe “hilarious” is more like it -- about being able to fling around gorillas and smack evil warlords in the face with a tennis racket.  She’s THE video game princess, and brings along with her an air of daintiness and goodness; she’s like a breath of fresh air, in the sense that she’s a respite against the MANLY MAN MEN that a lot of games would have you play as.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other female characters that I enjoy playing as or having around (more so than Peach, and by a long shot), but for what it’s worth the pink-clad princess is more than enough to put a smile on my face.

Maybe now more than ever, if my theory is correct.

March 3, 2013

Two games enter, one game leaves…

Well.  This is a unique situation.

I honestly can’t remember the last time something like this happened, if at all.  I’ve managed to finish two games -- two GREAT games, I might add -- within about a day of each other.  Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Xenoblade Chronicles are both notches on my belt now, and it’s only natural that I give them both proper Let’s Discuss posts.  Problem is, I don’t know which one to tackle first.

On the one hand, I’ve been putting Xenoblade off for months now (for reasons I still can’t explain (besides laziness)), and having finished it I feel like I need to go over bits and pieces of it.  On the other hand, Revengeance is so damn good that even if it is on the short side, I’m already thinking of playing through it again…and since finishing it, the game’s been on my mind for an almost-unhealthy amount of time.  Either way, both games are much-needed respites from schlock like Final Fantasy 13-2 and DmC, and have helped give my palate a full scrub-down.  And it’s quite possible that these games -- one or even BOTH -- are good enough to make it into my personal and currently hypothetical Top Ten.  The only way to know for sure is to get these things written up and posted here on Cross-Up.

But which one gets the first swing?  Well, I think I’ll leave that up to you all.

Here’s what we’re going to do.  Whoever comments first on this post gets to decide which game will get a Let’s Discuss post first.  What will it be?  One of the greatest JRPGs of this generation?  Or the action game primed to become one of 2013’s best?  It’s all in your hands, readers -- so make it count!

Decide the destiny!  FIGHT!

March 1, 2013

Final Fantasy 13-2: Good Morning, Kupo! (Part 6)

No.  I’m done.  I’m done with this game.

I hate it.  It makes me angry, sad, and tired all at once.  I’m tired of knowing that in its current state, the Final Fantasy brand is more likely to inspire misery than wonder.  I’m tired of seeing this company continuously stumble its way through releases.  I’m tired of being able to point out flaw after flaw after flaw in what should be an airtight, satisfying story.  And you know what?  I bet you readers are tired, too.  I read the comments, and I do my best to respond to all of them.  Time and time again, people have said things like “How could things get this bad?” and “You really need to take a break from this game.” 

Regarding how things could get this bad, consider this: it took about four or five years from the announcement of FF13 to its release, and the best Squeenix could put out was something that belonged in a dump truck.  In hindsight it’s almost silly to expect the company to put out a better product in half the time, even if they did outsource it, or at least worked in tandem with another company.  Just look at the old Serah model compared to the new.

Regarding “taking a break,” all of you are exactly right.  This game is going to be the death of me, and in more ways than one, if I keep playing it.  So I won’t.  As much as I hate to admit it, as much of a blow to my pride it is to say this…sigh…Final Fantasy 13-2 is unbeatable.  And even if it was -- even if I could grin and bear it, ignoring every single fault the game throws my way -- it’s not worth it.  There’s no reward awaiting me at the end of the final battle.  So screw it.  No more of me picking apart the story. 

As for the gameplay…