Changes… They be a Coming!

I don’t know why, but over the last few weeks  I have wanted to dedicate myself to becoming more focused on what I am doing. This isn’t too mean I have lost my ADD that so richly enhances my life. No No No! I still slide between projects like no tomorrow! But I for one want to start finishing projects I start more often, and even more so, on content producing projects I want to be more focused on what exactly I am doing.

This can be seen in my recent posts about JRPGs where I am talking about how I want to focus my game playing time more on this genre, and by effect, focus my YouTubing to JRPGs as well. And this also means that I want to re-focus this blog to be more game centered than it has gotten over the last few years.

This blog did originally focus on games. The name of my blog was originally The Life & Times of Kazar, as my online name used to be Kazar. And focused on my journeys through Asheron’s Call while I was still playing that game. This was something like 15 years ago at this point, probably more! Then I stopped playing that and as I started playing MMOs that were more and more generic in quests, I found a more and more difficult time figuring out what to talk about in their regards. And then I gave up on the MMO genre almost entirely. As all that happened, I started going back to school.  I started getting a job. And so forth and so this blog has headed in two directions. 1) More random/life related entries. 2) Less entries in general. These are both related as, while i do want to share the goings on in my life and various thoughts on random topics, I do limit exactly WHAT I am willing to share online.

So yeah, this site is going to get refocused. I am hoping to have more frequent discussions of what I am doing in gaming, be it my JRPG Quest, my Minecraft play stories, News on Games (E3 is coming!) opinions, and so forth. I will likely also still have a random life event and youtube talks coming into the topics from time to time, but that is no longer going to be a focus. With that… just as a warning. When it comes to my tales of gameplay EXPECT SPOILERS!

With these changes, I decided I also want to change the general layout of the blog as well. I really like the layout I have currently. But I wan to add more gamey related functions and navigation features. For instance, I recently found the website which I intend to use for tracking my collection and progress on games, and want to incorporate some of it into this site as well somehow. Changes will certainly not be overnight, but if you notice some changes coming up here and there, you will understand why!

Thanks to all for continuing to watch and support  this site and my YouTube channel. I appreciate all the support. =)

What JRPGs to play?

In my last post, I talked about what makes a JRPG different than a WRPG due to a personal conquest of mine to take on all JRPGs ever made. But this leads me to the next query of what JRPGs I actually will be playing for this quest. Obviously i cannot actually play them all for a number of different reasons so I figured I’d spell out what those reasons are and where I will be going with the project.

The first issue at hand is availability. JRPGs get made on every console and while emulation is great, I would like to play a real version if I can. Part of the reason for this is that I am a game collector and I think the practice will help me enlarge my collection. But also because there is something nice about sitting down, controller in hand, and playing a game that you just don’t get as much sitting at your computer. Keep in mind, while there are many JRPGs on PC (MANY), the genre largely was popularized on the console so most of the games were made with the console in mind.

Being a collector, I do have a good number of consoles. As of this writing the consoles i own are as follows:

  • Atari 2600
  • NES
  • Genesis
  • SNES
  • Playstation
  • N64
  • Dreamcast
  • Playstation 2
  • Gamecube
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • Wii
  • Wii U
  • Retron 5
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Gear
  • Game Boy Advance
  • DS
  • PSP
  • Playstation Vita
  • 3DS
  • New 3DS
  • And of course… the PC.

As you can tell, I have A  LOT of systems to choose from. But I have some obvious gaps in coverage and many of these gaps are strong in the JRPG genre. My collection of consoles is going to grow as time goes on but to begin with, my selection of games will be limited by what I can play. For fun’s sake, the consoles that are currently highest priority for me to purchase going forward are as follows in no particular order:

  • Playstation 3
  • Playstation 4
  • Sega Saturn
  • Neo Geo AVS
  • Virtual Boy

Availability of what systems I have isn’t the only issue. Many JRPGs were made in Japan and were never brought over to the United States. And while I have limited knowledge of Japanese, it is that of probably a 5 year old if that lol. I do have a Rertron 5 so this keeps the door open for me to be able to import Japanese games and play them, and not only that patch them with an English translation. It is quite wonderful. But I am sure there will be more than one game where there is no English translation and/or the game is just too rare to be able to find.

The next issue we have revolves around which version do we play? Meaning, many JRPGs in particular tend to find themselves with re-releases and remakes. Final Fantasy is a good series to point to to see this happening. But you see it with Pokemon as well and many other games. I am obviously not going to play the same game 5 times just because it gets re-released.  For this, it’s going to largely be a judgement call. I will need to look at each version and see what it offers. My general feeling is to stick with the original version for Square games whenever possible because they like to change game mechanics in a bad way. For instance in FF1 newer versions take out the strategy of guessing how much health a monster has so that you don’t double up on one foe, and they also add in true random creature generation. Both of these features that they “fix” I feel make the game worse, Square is known for this sort of thing. Pokemon however gets updated well. For instance they add in breeding into FireRed since it wasn’t available in original Red, this coupled with graphics update and new dungeons enhances the experience instead of detracting from it.

Speaking of Pokemon, we may also have games like it where there are several of the same game with minor differences. For instance, Pokemon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow are all essentially the same game. For these types of games I will choose just one per generation unless the differences in the games provide a completely new experience. (For instance, what we see from the different versions of the latest Fire Emblem.) For Pokemon, I would likely pick the “3rd version” as Nintendo usually adds additional features for it and that version is generally considered the best. However, again, it depends on what is available.

There are a few unknowns to me right now on whether I will play it or not…. Strategy/Tactic JRPGs… such as Fire Emblem. Do I count it a JRPG or a tactic RPG?  Essentially do I play these games or not? I don’t know right now. They definitely hold strong themes along with RPGs and usually are games I enjoy playing, but I don’t know if I want to go for the tried and true RPG or include tactic games. Decision to come later.

Similarly, RPG Maker games. These are a toughy because there are virtually unlimited amounts of games made by amateur designers. Many of them are crap, a few are good and worth pla

Defining the JRPG Genre

Over the last few days I have been considering undergoing a personal project. To play every JRPG that has ever come out. There are a number of reasons for this… I have always wanted to have a specific niche on my youtube channel… largely Minecraft, RPGs and Strategy, and I have strayed from that. Moreover, I haven’t been playing many RPGs over the last few years and RPG really is my favorite genre. And while I do enjoy a number of older WRPGs (Older Bioware games,  Gold Box, Might & Magic, Ultima, etc), JRPG has a very special place in my heart and I do love the genre slightly more than WRPGs.

This train of thought has got me considering what exactly is a JRPG? If I am going to play all of them, I feel like this needs to be defined straight up. I have looked up a lot of info on what makes a JRPG and there actually is a fair amount of confusion on the genre. Many think it simply means that it is just an RPG made in Japan and that is the only requirement, but this definition just doesn’t seem quite right. JRPGs and WRPGs FEEL different. Sit down and play Final Fantasy 6 and then play Skyrim and tell me how the two are similar outside of there being magic and levels. Same with FF6 and Dark Souls… yet you can actually sit down and compare Dark Souls and Skyrim and these two games hold within them many similarities. Dark Souls, though it was made in Japan, has more in common with Western RPGs than JRPGs.

There are certainly a number of similarities between JRPGs that I don’t entirely feel define the genre, but are certainly common features.

  • Turn-Based – The average JRPG is turn-based, but this isn’t always true. Like many genres, once games started coming into the world of 3D, action JRPGs started becoming more of a thing. Though to this day, many JRPGs remain Turn-based, this isn’t a requirement for the genre.
  • Cute Art – Since the inception of JRPG, art has been on the cute/overemphasized eyes. The art direction generally has a lot in common with the art style of anime and manga in Japanese culture. I don’t know if this is a requirement or not for JRPGs to be honest. I can’t think of any examples of a non-cute nature, but I feel like there is no reason that a JRPG could not have a realistic art style instead.
  • Random Encounters – This I consider a more newish feature. As old games all had random encounter regardless of if it was WRPG or JRPG.  At some point, WRPGs went away from the random encounter (and subsequent grinding) whereas the JRPG has largely embraced it. I actually feel like at this point in time I could consider this a rule to be a JRPG, however I think moving forward many JRPGs are going to try to experiment with non-random encounters a little more often and I don’t see why they can’t so I don’t want to make this a rule.

So with those non-requirements but regular features out of the way,  I wanted to go into some things that I think make a JRPG. For this, I wanted to look at really what is different almost universally between the JRPG and the WRPG.

  1. Focus on Linear Plotlines – All RPGs have a plot, and to some extent, all RPGs have a linear plot. After all, there is a general beginning and ending to the story which the designer wants to tell whether it is a WRPG or a JRPG. A JRPG differs in that their story is usually much more linear, oftentimes being almost completely on rails. You go from point a, to point b to point c, etc. Until you reach the end. WRPGs generally will give you a starting point, and then let you go on your merry way, choosing how you want to get to the end. The focus on a WRPG is much more exploration based. A JRPG may have a few forks in the road, but the path is pretty well ordained, the designer has a story to tell and they want you to see it.
  2. You Control a Character – This seems odd to say, after all this is common amongst all RPGs really. But what I mean is that you are controlling a character that the designers created in a JRPG. They created the name, personality, background, class, skills and stats. You play that character in order to tell their story, you are experiencing someone else. In WRPG, they leave everything open to a blank slate and essentially let you create who you want, be it yourself or some character concept you enjoy.
  3. Group Oriented – JRPGs tend to be group based, not solo efforts (this isn’t always true but I feel it is true enough to warrant a rule for it). There may not always be a group in an RPG, but there are almost always more than one character.
    3.1 – Exception – Dungeon Crawlers are WRPGs and almost always contain a group. Outside of this subgenre, WRPGs tend to focus more on the solo protagonist.
  4. Focus on Relationships – In addition to being group based, JRPGs focus on relationships between protagonists, between protagonists and NPCs, and between protagonists and antagonists. WRPGs have relationships but that isn’t the focus. The focus is more on your interactions with the world, the setting and your equipment and stats.
  5. Luck-Based – WRPGs are very much stat-based games. You create your character, give it stats, put weapons and armor on that have many stats each, enemies have stats, what you can do is often based off skill stats, how much damage is based off stats… etc… JRPGs however rely more on the die roll. There may be stats that enhance the die roll, but by and large stats are minimal and/or hidden from the player. They are considered more to detract from the immersion of the player into the world and so are largely ignroed by the player.
  6. Elements of an RPG – This is true for both but obviously needs to be there to be considered a JRPG, otherwise you end up with Super Mario 64 being a JRPG or something. So as an RPG, a JRPG does in fact need to have levels, items used for something other than quests, quests, foes, experience, NPCs, Stores,  a campaign setting, etc that one would come to expect with an RPG.

I think that using the above 6 elements, whilst keeping the “not necessary but likely” elements in mind, we can get a good idea of what constitutes a JRPG when making a list of what games to play.

As an example, I was actually considering Final Fantasy 1 while writing up these requirements and came to the realization that Final Fantasy 1 may actually be a western RPG which seems really odd. There is a potential that games before 1995 had different requirements than games after 1995, but I kind of want to have a single ruleset for all. So Let’s look at it…

In Final Fantasy 1, I kind of want to say the story is linear, but it really isn’t for the time. You start outside the village and you can move on to the first boss without going and seeing the king first. It is  a fairly open world game and late in the game once you unlock all the ocean parts, you really can take whatever dungeons you want to take and don’t really even have to go to all. If you want to go straight to Chaos, you certainly could. You did have a group of adventurers but they were generic,  you could give them whatever names and classes you wanted,, much like an WRPG, and they didn’t interact with each other, or really anyone that much. I will say that the game was more luck based than stat based, but 2.5 out of 6 is not gonna cut it for the JRPG genre.

That realization seems odd to me, because you would think that Final Fantasy would in fact be a JRPG. At the time I would say that it probably did have more to do with region to be a JRPG… Final Fantasy 1 did a lot of things that we might see now as stepping stones to the genre. It used the WRPG as an influence and then the JRPG evolved from there, but because of its earliness, it really wasn’t what we come to think of as a JRPG now.

Re-thinking the Pain Scale

This week I was at the doctor’s office and inevitably the question came up…. On a scale of 0 to 10, how would I rate my pain that day. Like every other time I am asked this inane question, I struggled. The problem? The philosophical question of what is pain? You see doctors came up with this idea of the pain scale to judge whether someone was seeing a lot of pain or not. The problem is each person’s idea of what pain is, is wildly different.

0 seems like the easiest number to understand… Absence of pain… this has nothing to do with me. I talked to another doctor on the phone today and said it bluntly. The only way for me to achieve this is to be on Oxycodone and to be fairly lucky with my issues. That number is non-existant…

The rest? What do they mean exactly. I can assure most readers that a 1 to me is NOT a 1 to you. Very little pain is still likely a 5 or a 6 to you. If I’m at 4, you are most likely at 8. A 9 or 10 to me is something most people don’t experience more than a couple times in a lifetime and I experience it probably once a month if not more.  This creates an issue for me. Do I tell a doctor that I am at a 1 or 2 when I am experiencing a small amount of pain relative to me? It’s supposed to be according to where I am normally at that I experience pain. But if I say 1 or 2, my doctor will think that my pain is small, not much, unimportant and not worth thinking about which is completely NOT true.

Let’s take this a different way. Let’s say you have someone on a Monday chop off a toe. You might rate that pain of the be-toeing to be a 10. Tuesday, another toe… it may still be a 10, and might still be a 10 on day 3 when you lose the third toe. But on day 4 or 5, you might start adjusting to that pain and might start saying 9 instead of 10. You go through this practice daily and you might eventually find yourself used to it and might lower the pain associated with it to a 4 or 5 just because it is what you know. Does this make the pain any less important? NO! YOU ARE STILL LOSING TOES! That you as a human get used to pain, doesn’t change that there is something underlying that is causing the pain even if you find it more tolerable.

I came to the conclusion this week.. I will never again use 1 through 4. EVER EVER EVER. Doing so trivializes my pain. There is NO such thing as a 3 in reality, there is just normality and my normal is way fucking higher than that and shame on the doctor who doesn’t understand that. Which yes is all of them. I am even hesitant to say that I should ever use 5, and that my scale should start at 6 and we should just accept that I am in pain and start with that.

I am in pain, and a lot of it. I live with it, it is part of my life. To a degree, i identify with it and at this point, it might be weird for me for it to be completely gone. That’s weird to say but it’s true. I’m so used to the pain that I live with on a daily basis, I am not quite sure what life would be without it.

Still… I am tired of the pain… it is draining both physically and mentally to put up with it. As I write this… I am sitting at an 8 probably, with the knowledge that it will be a 9 by the end of the night when I go to sleep. If I can sleep at all. Not much I can do about it. I am without any sort of pain meds.

On Blogging Life

In the past month, I have gotten into a place where I am contemplating a lot of things in my life. I will be honest, I have not been in a good place. In this reflection I have been asking who am I, what am  I doing, am I doing what I love, am I around those I love, how am I using my time, and many more really core questions about how am I living my life. I am not really going to talk about the personal life reflections as much in this post. Instead,  I want to discuss the reflections I have had in regards to this blog, to my youtube channel, and to a few other things that seems somehow related. Of note… this post was originally intended as a single post. I have since decided to split it into three to be released on subsequent days just because I got all wordy.

First the blog… Somehow every 12 to 18 months, I need to remind myself that this thing is here. I always like the idea of the blog, but I often forget about it. And I do recognize that this blog is not well traveled, I am fine with that for most part. I think the height of readership of this blog was when it was far more focused because I was dedicated into one MMO and I was always talking about travels in that MMO. And it makes sense that people would read along to a single topic like that. Since my leaving the MMO scene, the blog too has sort of devolved into a what’s going on in my life and that has both made it uneven for reading and uneven for writing (as I don’t always have stuff to talk publicly about).  Theoretically, I could possibly return to a more themed blog to go along with my youtube channel, and honestly this may be worth a thought if I play a lot of Minecraft for instance, I usually have a lot of thoughts happening on Minecraft, and while a lot of that translates into the videos, there are some thoughts that I don’t express in youtube largely because there isn’t enough time to have more deep thoughts there. Still, I do like that this blog encapsulates more than one minor part of my life. I like that I can come on one day and put up some random piece of poetry that I wrote, or thoughts on Nintendo (which I will NEVER do a Nintendo youtube series unfortunately given how they deal with monetization).

I can’t help but feel like I am definitely failing in not talking about stuff that does correlate to my Youtube life however. For one, there is  a lot of stuff that I think about and even talk about in YouTube videos that probably shouldn’t be talked about there. For instance, more detailed explanations as to why episodes haven’t been happening, technical issues, thoughts I have on the videos going forward and so forth. I like being open and honest about such things but I do think that they sometimes detract from videos. This blog offers a nice outlet for these thoughts without dragging down a video in doing so.

So for this site going forward, I think I want to set a goal for myself, and I want to be careful with goals because I won’t always be successful. But I want to get at least 1 post a month on this site where I talk about whatever. And I want to have at least 1 post every 3 months that somehow pertains to my youtube channel. Whether it is talking about some random fun shit that happened off camera, talking about the decision to LP a game, or some technical issues. I feel like these goals are extremely low and thus, attainable.

Final Fantasy 2

Final Fantasy 2 took a lot of risks, that much is clear. For a game released in 1988, it had a lot of ideas that even today aren’t used often. The most obvious of which is that it is a skill-based game, not a level-based game.

As a general rule, I prefer skill-based for my Video Game RPGs. I feel it is more natural and offers some variations that level based can’t really touch. I was pretty excited by the idea of a skill-based Final Fantasy, however, the implementation is rough to say the least. So if you aren’t familiar with the base idea… if you use it, you get better at what you use. I only played the game a little bit (more on that later), but for the most part it seems ok. You don’t get like a point for each use, instead, I believe you get a greater chance of getting a point for each use. So as an example, using made up numbers, if you use a sword once in a fight you have a 5% chance of gaining a skillpoint. If you use a sword 5 times you have a 25% chance of gaining a skill point. 100 skill points and you get a level in the skill. And obviously as you level up a skill it gets increasingly more difficult to get skill points. The system is OK. the percentage chance means there are a lot of fights that you don’t get points for even if you use a skill… I find this weird. Each weapon type and spell is considered its own skill. In addition, HP and MP are use based as well… only way to get a higher max HP is to keep getting hit. But again it is percentage based on how much HP vs your max HP got hit. Even if you use most your HP in a fight… you aren’t guaranteed to gain more max HP.

The system is a bit grindy, this not abnormal for JRPGs, or even CRPGs, so is not a huge deal. The problem comes in the most natural way to grind… which is to attack yourself. I spent a couple hours in the newbie area just doing nothing but entering fights and attacking my friends. And each fight took an extreme amount of time. It was a really boring experience. I like the idea though. I have heard that Final Fantasy X returned to a skill based system and I would like to try it at some point to see if they  fixed some of the flaws from 2.

Final Fantasy 2 had a number of innovations for the series that would follow it on to today. Chocobos and the Chocobo forest were added, and really this was one of the first true unique beings within the Final Fantasy  Universe. They also introduced a rotating cast of characters. You start the game with 4 characters to name, 1 of which doesn’t play with you for much of the early game. This was really unique. They  basically set the stage for you to know from the get go that they were doing things differently here, much like in Final Fantasy 1 how saving the princess was only the beginning. Even worse, they chose the second character you named as the one to get rid of from the get go… well this was odd as I named my characters 0,1,2, and 3 because it was a Japanese game and I didn’t read Japanese and I wanted to be able to recognize my character names somewhat. Well my game went into 0, 2, 3 as my character names! Not a big deal, but kind of funny.

You then would have new party members coming and going throughout the story as required by the story  which was interesting and something they obviously decided to keep doing in future games of the series. The problem in this particular series is that many of the characters had no starting experience in any of their skills so you almost dreaded a new character being added because you would need to grind that character or just leave him be useless. Another weird thing is there was a glitch that counted each selection of an item/enemy as a use in the above system. So you would select a character to fight, back out over and over to gain extra uses in a fight. This didn’t work for the last character in the party (selecting him to fight would start the fighting round!), so grinding the last character in the party was a chore. All the new characters that got added were always the last character in your party, and unlike Final Fantasy 1, you had no ability to move people around. Oh well.

You did have the ability to move characters from the front row to the back. This is another feature that kind of continues in the series. This one in particular was more difficult though. If you put someone in the back row, it was a double edged sword. Enemies couldn’t touch them without magic or ranged weapons… but neither could you touch enemies. (And enemies had rows as well!) Was a cool feature, not a ton bad especially in a use based system. I could see this sort of restriction being a bigger deal if your person in the back row had no ranged weapons.

So as I previously stated, I was playing the japanese version of the game so I couldn’t really understand what was going on without reading guides. And so I had to trust what they told me to do and use. I can sort of read Japanese letters, but I don’t often know what the words mean. At some point the game I was supposed to take an item and throw it into an airship engine to make the airship explode… except the item the guide I was following told me to use didn’t work. I can only imagine that I either read it wrong or the guide gave it to me wrong. I looked up the word in other guides and it was spelled differently in the one other guide I could find. And I figure I must have accidentally deleted the item while trying to clean out my inventory earlier in the game. This sucked. I had no way of figuring out what exactly I was missing or if I actually missed picking up the item in the first place (which I don’t think i did).

My choice was simple. Restart or end it. The thought of going through hours of really  boring grinding did not sound great so I decided to end it. So my end story  that I cam up with for my  adventure is this…

My friends and I lived in a small town that started being attacked by  the imperial army with t heir giant flying warship. They began attacking all the neighboring towns as well. So we underwent a mission in which we snuck onto their airship, started throwing random shit into the engine in hopes of it blowing up. After this failed, we shrugged our shoulders and swore our fealty to the empire!

Hopefully Final Fantasy 3 works out better!

Final Fantasy Month

Last year in December there were a couple of streamers on Twitch playing through Final Fantasy. This was followed by Games Done Quick in January and sooner than I realized, I had a hankering to play Final Fantasy 1 and found myself even trying to learn how to speed run the game.

After a few days into mucking around with it, I thought to myself how cool it would be to go and play through all the Final Fantasy games. I didn’t own all of them, and haven’t played any game in the series since it left Nintendo consoles after 6. But I thought it would be fun to do as the older games in the series were some of my favorite RPGs on console of all time. So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if in December I go and play through them all?

Why December? Well because in December, I traditionally have a decent amount of time off from work and often find myself playing more video games during this time frame. This year is no different as I will be taking off between Christmas and New Years. I generally have my daughter for an extended period during this time and do some family stuff as well, but will still find myself with some extra time. So a few days into December. I thought to myself… Oh Shit it’s Final Fantasy month! And while I was a little late going into it. I headed forward through the Final Fantasy titles.

So obviously you start with the first in the series. Final Fantasy I long credit with my addiction to Video Games and my love to RPGs. I remember as a child going out and renting Final Fantasy 1 for the standard 2 or 3 day time, and bringing it back 2 or 3 weeks later having thoroughly played through the game and emptied my pocket with late fees. Many games give me nostalgia joy, Final Fantasy 1 is #1 on that list. Nothing beats it.

I decided not to speed run and just to play like a normal person. Not overly optimized either. I ran with a warrior, black belt, red mage and white mage. I will say that though the BB is really weak in the first few levels, they are pretty awesome the further you get with them and I totally want to try an all black belt group at some point just because they are so awesome. Still, it was a fun group.

Final Fantasy isn’t the longest game in the world, took me about a week to run through it with casual play time. Given that I spent a week on FF1, chances of getting through what 17 or 18 games in the series seems very unlikely in a months time. I still hope to at least get to through the NES games, if not the SNES games as well.

The story is pretty basic as well, though honestly, it is also extremely interesting. Bad guy travels back in time 2000 years, creates 4 fiends that in 2000 years sends bad guy back in time again and destroys the world. Process repeats over and over again. Doesn’t seem to be any real motive as to why or anything. And unfortunately most of the story line isn’t really given to you until you defeat the bad guy. Most the game, you walk around doing what you need to do with little idea as to why other than you are supposed to and if you do you will save the world. You get this really long dialog at the end explaining what was going on the whole time and then explaining how the 4 heroes aren’t the real heroes, you are! Ugh. That was hokey. Again, FF1 was a very simplistic game but they were doing some new things and it was a more simple time as well. Shouldn’t count that against the game. I still love the game in all its simplicity.

I plan on updating my progress through the series as I continue to play the games. As of this writing I am currently undertaking Final Fantasy 2… the Japanese version. I did originally want to record or stream my playthroughs, but I still don’t really have the capability of recording console games so not this year, maybe I will have the set up to be able to do that next  year. And I really want to play the original versions. Even in its most truest form, Square likes to muck with their games when they re-release. An example is in FF1, they usually make it so that your heroes attack the next enemy if the one you told them to attack is already dead. I like the strategy involved in how that works in the original, so poo on that.

E3 ’15: Day 1

Wanted to give my opinions on the first day of E3 2015. For the purposes of this article, I will ignore yesterday’s Nintendo World Championships and its announcements and Bethesday, because whatever. They were minor bits to the grand scheme.

First up is Microsoft and really their highlight was backwards compatibility with Xbox 360. Almost universally this has been pegged as their big announcement and I gotta say that I don’t see what the deal is. First of all, the purpose of backwards comparability is to provide owners of your console to have a library of games to play during the first couple of years before the real content unique to the console starts coming out. Well, adding compatibility two years after launch makes me think that Xboned owners have a couple more years of lackluster titles before they get into the meat which is very worrisome if I were a Microsoft fan. I mean yeah being able to play old games is great, but it’s a bit late for that. Second of all, Nintendo did that with the Wii U and that clearly wasn’t a system seller. And last, the comparability seems like the Xbox 360’s BW where the Xbox 1a games you could play on it were few and far between and even when you found one, it wasn’t a great play. They say they have about 100 games that will work later this year. That’s not much. So yeah, it’s nice but not a game breaker.

The second big thing they did was show off more of their VR headset the holo lens, which still is disappointingly NOT holo. First of all, let me say that I am not sold on the VR tech that has been going around the gaming verse right now, not even the grand daddy the Oculus Rift. I mean yeah the tech looks cool and I would definitely want to play with it a little bit, but I can’t see sitting down and playing with a VR headset on my face for more than a 15 minute stretch let alone a 6 hour run. It doesn’t seem like a comfortable way to play. And the same is true fro Microsoft’s solution. Second of all, even for VR, it doesn’t look great. I mean yeah the playing with Minecraft on a table was sweet, but again that doesn’t look overly fun for more than a 10 minute demo. Otherwise you just sit and look at a wall to play Minecraft how we already play it. Yipee?

I will say that the ability to install mods for Fallout 4 on the Xboned is actually kind of cool, although it mostly just begs the question of why are people getting games on the Xboned when they could just get them on a PC?

Ummm what else did Microsoft have? Halo 4 or 5 or some number whatevs, that was announced last year. A remake of Gears of War. <sigh> This is totally the generation of remakes. Gears of War 4 ok that’s something no one saw coming, a sequel to a futuristic shooter. Ok the Rare compilation of all the non-Nintendo Rare games for $30 looks cool, but sad at the same time (why not on Nintendo platform yo?) The new Rare game looks kind of lame though… it looked like it was supposed to have some personality and character but they just forgot to add it. The one and only game I actively thought looked awesome out of the entire Microsoft Press Conference was Cuphead. It looks amazing.

But hey all you Microsoft fans… I am sure you are EA fans too so you must have been happy to hear that on top of the Xbox Live Fees you will now be faces with EA Access fees. FTW.


Sony seemed to beat Microsoft in nearly every aspect yet again. How? Well instead of showing off past games, they actually showed off new and upcoming games. Sony  wasn’t without their remakes… they did show of FF7 remake, which I do think is better than a Gears of War remake, though that is just me. But for the most part it was new stuff.  Last Guardian looks weird but new and I’m interested. Horizon Zero Dawn looks really interesting and cool. Street Fighter V looks like Street Fighter V. Uncharted looks amazing just like its predecessors. And No Man’s Sky  looks phenomenal. I have said once and I will say it again.. this might be the first true killer app of the generation. I actively want to buy  a PS4 to get my hands on No Man’s Sky and every new time they show it, I just want it more. I’m sorry Microsoft, Playing 360 games doesn’t do that for me, I already have a 360 for that.

All Nighter for Old Times Sake

Men are children. It is an unequivocal fact. We display these childlike tendencies in many ways, but really it all comes down to two main categories: Sports and Toys. Sports  is obvious, some guys love watching sports of all varieties and many even continue to play sports. This is a very childlike activity in all reality, hearkening back to little league and bowling leagues. And it comes down to fun, they are fun to watch, they  are fun to play  (at least for some and really I am included in at least watching). The other category is toys. This category can come in all shapes and sizes. Guys with gyms, guys with cars, and yes, guys with games, be it video, board or any other type of game.

And so faced with an impending return to the work environment, last night that I decided to return to the roots of my childhood wonderment and decided to pull an all night Razak have Fun night. A night of game playing, fun foods, movies, and any other fun activities I could think of.  Ok, so childhood isn’t exactly right. I mean I did pull all nighters all the way back to elementary school when Final Fantasy and other video games would capture my interest and make me sneak some hours in the middle of the night playing game (thank you game boy for making it easier!). The all nighter really took fruition in High School and College where parental interference was lowered and rebellious spirit truly ignited. Unfortunately, unlike previous debacles, this one was done alone for the most part, which is slightly sad in some ways, but so is the pains of growing up. It’s a Tuesday, and people have to work! I will say, i would love to do such things again with a group of friends  to mirror sleep overs of my youth, though with jobs and kids, that likely won’t happen anymore lol.

The night started fairly low key. I bought candy in the early afternoon because why wouldn’t candy be involved? After my evening shows I went out to Papa Murphy’s and purchased a couple of pizzas that I could throw in the oven whenever I felt the hanker. And then I played Guild Wars 2 for a bit and  watched iZombie whilst sorting my mail. Really, a normal Tuesday night. I mean just cause I am having a fun night, doesn’t mean I don’t still have work to do!

My plan going forward for the night was to not sit on any one thing too long. When I had done all nighters in the past, it happened largely due to the fact that there were games or people that I got incredibly involved with (not in a romantic sense) and had a good time playing/hanging out. That isn’t entirely  true anymore. I have a few games like GW2 and DIablo 3 and even Minecraft that I enjoyed, but none that I enjoyed so much that could keep me enthralled for the night, and I don’t think I even have any friends that play long hours into the night so that isn’t even a thing anymore.

So, after watching iZombie, I returned to Guild Wars 2 for a couple more hours. And then returning downstairs to start up Legend of Zelda: Windwaker while I threw one of my pizzas in the oven to cook. When the pizza came out, I turned the channel to watch the Late Late Show with James Corden. I like him a lot, but it is on so late I know I will never get to see him much once work starts. And then mid-way through I fell asleep. Yay. I slept for a half hour and decided to try to trudge on. So I started up the reboot of Star Trek (I thought it’d be fun to watch a movie!) and I got another slice of pizza, some dr. pepper and some twizzlers and sat down and watched about an hour of that. I didn’t return to sleep, but I found myself yawning every 5 mintues. It was at this point that I got up and just decided to go to bed.

I don’t know whether the issue was trying to watch TV/movies instead of concentrating on games… If I had started playing Zelda again instead of watching Star Trek, would I have been so sleepy? My couch has the habit of putting me to sleep even under the best circumstances when I sit down and do nothing but watch. I did contemplate switching back to Zelda at the time for just such a logic. But for that one moment in time, I was like.. maybe this isn’t that big of a deal to do. Yeah it is fun. I was super pumped to try and super disappointed that I failed. But at the same time, I have never stayed up all night when I wasn’t enthralled with something. Hell even a few weeks ago when I was all into Diablo 3 I probably could have done it, but now that game seems repetitive to me. Maybe it just wasn’t in the cards. Maybe I’m just too old. I still wish there was an MMO out there that was built for me.