Valkyria Chronicles Screenshots

Anyone familiar with this site or me knows that I’m a huge fan of the Fire Emblem series of games. There’s just something about a ragtag group of characters, each with their own distinct personalities, going up against some near-unassailable evil that hits all the right notes for me. Valkyria Chronicles is one of the rare non-FE games to hit all of these same notes, alternating between humorous dialog and the crushing realities of war while sporting the kind of cel-shaded artwork that you’d never expect to work given the subject matter. It does, though, as does the combat’s mixture of real-time movement and turn-based combat. This is one of those rare gems that I’m glad I finally got a chance to play (thanks to a completely unexpected PC port) despite my PS3’s disc drive giving up the ghost. Read more →

Game Dev Story Review

This review is doomed to be a bit on the short side, if for no other reason than the fact that Game Dev Story is itself short. Beyond that, there’s no story to speak of since the game consists of managing a game developer studio, so those paragraphs I usually spend toward the beginning of reviews rambling endlessly about the narrative and characters aren’t really an option this time around. I also failed to make notes while playing, which makes things a bit more difficult. However, the fact that the game was so addictive that I couldn’t pry myself away from it to jot down notes speaks volumes about its quality. Read more →

Game Dev Story Screenshots

Game Dev Story is a fun little distraction. Short, but fun. In it, you manage an up-and-coming developer studio, choosing everything from who to employ to the genre of the games developed. Of course, that sounds incredibly boring when written out, but the description belies its diabolically addictive gameplay. It’s the kind of rare game that it’s easy to lose huge chunks of time to, and there’s nothing quite like looking at the clock and realizing that it’s 3 AM and you’ve spent the night churning out an endless number of critically-acclaimed sequels to your robot-themed action game called “Robot Dicks.” Yes, that actually happened. Read more →

Final Fantasy XIII Review

I wanted to love Final Fantasy 13, and for the first two dozen or so hours, I succeeded in doing so. However, the completely needless character drama, stunning absence of any kind of logic behind the game’s ending, and painful slogs through too-long parts of the game ensured that I was severely let down. Whereas I originally enjoyed just about everything the game had to offer, I grew to hate it by the end, even going so far as to make excuses to avoid having to play it anymore. This is a game that tells a complicated story involving deities who are never shown or even explained in enough depth to actually understand what’s happening over the course of the story, most notably toward the end, and this is unacceptable. Read more →

Final Fantasy XIII Screenshots (and rant)

Few games have frustrated me like Final Fantasy XIII. I mean, I’ve been a die-hard Final Fantasy fan since FF4 (and even still have my SNES cartridge where it’s called “Final Fantasy 2″), and I’ve even been open to changes to the series’ tried-and-true formula like the junction system in FF8. What makes 13 sting so badly is that it had so much promise; despite the complaints about it being totally linear and sporting real-time combat, I loved the first 20 or so hours of the game. Sure, the male characters—Hope in particular—were annoying at times, but there was more than enough good to outweigh the bad. Then the unthinkable happened: everything changed. The linear corridors opened up and the world was suddenly filled with enemies who could one-shot my characters. The brutal difficulty spike didn’t ruin my enjoyment anywhere near as much as the fluff, though. It seemed like every five minutes a character began to doubt themselves in a cutscene, only to have other characters give them an emotional talk about hope and wishes and magic while sappy music played in the background. Rinse and repeat, because apparently the characters in FF13 have short-term memory loss. Even that was nothing compared to the ending, though, it being a mishmash of random events that seem to happen for no reason because the actual reasons behind the end occurrences aren’t actually explained until the later games in the series. It’s just wrong that you aren’t given enough information to understand the final hour or so of the game beyond a lot of convenient stuff suddenly happening for no reason.

This is lazy writing. This is poor game design. This is maddening when the first twenty or so hours of the game were so promising. It’s like binge-eating a delicious cake and having the frosting give way to a writhing mound of worms hidden deep within, ruining the entire thing. Final Fantasy XIII is appallingly stitched together into a Frankenstein’s monster of half-baked lore and “rules of the world” that are left shrouded in mystery, allowing the strangest things to happen at the strangest times and creating so many plot holes as a result that one could be forgiven for thinking that this game’s overarching plot was scrawled out in five minutes by an intern. Read more →

Anita Sarkeesian, #Gamergate, and the myth of the boys club

Let’s get something perfectly straight—I had no problem with Anita Sarkeesian back when she was asking for funding on Kickstarter for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games videos. I didn’t donate because I hate Kickstarter (which is an entirely different topic), but I thought and still think that the inexplicably fierce backlash to something so innocuous was totally unacceptable. Around when Gamergate started, however, I was shown a clip of one of her videos where she claims that a Hitman level that takes place in a strip club includes the strippers as female representations of female sexuality that exist only to be punished for some weird sexual gratification of the player. “Okay,” I thought, “she’s clearly never played Hitman, because that’s ridiculous. You’re not supposed to kill anyone but your target. That’s the entire point of the series.” Fast-forward to the present day, around two months after Gamergate began, and my opinion of her has taken a steep nosedive thanks to some truly misguided things she’s said about the movement, those in it, and what their motivations are. Read more →

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