Game accessibility, new fans, and Fire Emblem

Radiant Dawn, my favorite entry in the Fire Emblem series and quite possibly my favorite game of all time, sells for something like 75 dollars used. The game before it, Path of Radiance (which is also a great game) costs almost double that on Amazon right now, again for a used copy. Being an early fan of something is hard, and this is doubly true when that something has been as comically mismanaged as Fire Emblem; Nintendo has consistently printed too few copies of Fire Emblem games to meet the demand from fans, leading to these ballooned prices that make many of the best games in the series unobtainable for anyone who didn’t snatch a copy early, and for a long time this allowed Nintendo to believe that there was no demand for the series here. This, despite PoR and RD receiving rave reviews from fans. I think this is what makes the success of Fire Emblem Fates so frustrating to me; this is really only the second Fire Emblem game they’ve actually marketed in any meaningful way (and even then, far more than Awakening) and printed enough copies of, so it’s no wonder the game is selling as well as it is. It’s merely tapping into demand that’s always been there. Still, one could easily be fooled into thinking that the Fates games somehow deserve more recognition than earlier games. Read more →

Dear Square-Enix: what the hell is wrong with you?

[UPDATE: The always-on DRM in Lightning Returns has been stripped out. There’s apparently still a requirement that cloud saves be on, which is weird, but from what I’ve been able to tell from reading users’ stories on the Steam forums, saves stay offline if you don’t sync to the servers. To be honest, this whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way and done a ton of damage to my opinion of Square-Enix, but at least they finally realized how stupid their original decision was.]

Dear Square-Enix,

I only rarely plan out the games that I’m going to play ahead of time, but I had a good chunk of December mapped out in a way that made me genuinely happy. I just finished playing through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 for the first time in what must be a decade to get in a Star Wars mood before the new movie comes out, and I figured the cherry on top would be following that up with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which we all know is the third game in your XIII trilogy. Given the fact that my PS3’s disc drive is broken and I’ve no real motivation to find out how to fix it, I was content to wait until it saw a PC release. There were many frustrating delays, of course, but I was happy to wait if it meant the PC version was released in a better state than the first two games. Now, it’s no secret that I loathed the first two games for various reasons, but I’m already invested in the series and I’ve heard that the third game is the best one. Who knows? Maybe I’d even end up liking it. Crazier things have happened, and it is the season of magic and rampant commercialism. We both stood to gain. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that Lightning Returns uses always-online DRM. You do remember that this is a single-player game, correct? I don’t know if this DRM is intentional or just the result of someone whose job revolves around cloud saves failing spectacularly, but I have to be completely honest—neither possibility is inspiring a great deal of confidence in you. Pirates are already playing the game (with offline saves, it should be added), so any argument for this DRM revolving around piracy is already dead in the water. I have to ask: what the hell is wrong with you, Square-Enix? Read more →

Life Is Strange theories

Life Is Strange is the last game I’ve played as of this writing, and I loved it. I can’t remember another game that’s allowed me to become so totally invested in its characters, and that’s saying a lot considering how many of those characters are of the “dumb insecure teenager” type that so often manages to be little more than grating. Even my cold, unfeeling heart was sporadically moved to feel twinges of emotion over the course of the game’s five episodes. That said, there are a number of niggling story details that didn’t add up to me. Are they plot holes left there to slowly drive me mad? I suppose that’s always a possibility, but I still can’t help but believe that a lot of the stuff in the game is purposeful and hinting at the truth behind the events in the game being more complex than it first appears. Oh, and in case it’s not painfully apparent yet, this post will be full of hella spoilers, shaka brah, so stop reading unless you’ve finished the game or just don’t care. Read more →

Save files: Ankh

I was knocked out of my normal sleep schedule recently, so I figure I’ll post some saves for the next game I’m going to review today, screenshots tomorrow, then the actual review itself the day after that. Otherwise a whole laundry list of spelling and miscellaneous grammatical errors become likely, and Ankh deserves better than that; this is one of Deck13’s earliest games, and it’s filled with the same kind of lovable weirdness that makes games like Venetica so worth it. It’s a shame the game is so rare, with it only seeming to be available secondhand or in the criminally overlooked Ankh – Anniversary Edition (which supports higher resolutions) available on Steam. These saves were made on the latter, though I confirmed that they work on the original game, as well. Read more →

I get mad at spammers so you don’t have to

This isn’t exactly a huge site that’s bursting at the seams from all the traffic it receives (in fact, I’ve done zero promotion other than linking to it on a few forums I use), and yet I receive a disgusting amount of spam. Spam from developers. Spam from PR people. Spam from people only tangentially related to gaming who want to pay me to write things about this product or that product. One developer sent me a LinkedIn request that pops up a picture of him with his kids, no doubt in some vain attempt to tug at my heartstrings and give him an “in.” That one irritates me the most because LinkedIn spams like crazy and demands a response, and I’ve gotten numerous reminders from them over the past few months that I have a pending friend request from him. The amount of blatant whoring that exists in the gaming industry is nothing short of embarrassing, and I had no idea about any of it before I created this site. Most people who dive into the review world buy in to this stuff, forge mutually beneficial friendships, take money for paid advertisements (“native advertising,” if you’re familiar with the term), and otherwise sell out.

But I’m not them. This is a site about games, not a podium for paid cheerleading. I have enough friends, and I could care less about a bunch of kids who are being used as little more than props in their father’s marketing tactic. Every so often I like to remind everyone of this, sending my spammers a not-so-nice reply. Consider this a warning about pushing my buttons, spammers. For the rest of you, consider it a token of my respect for readers (whether longtime, people visiting for the first time, or just potential readers) and my unwillingness to let anyone jeopardize the integrity of the content/opinions I put up. Read more →

About the review process

What does the header picture have to do with the topic, you ask? Absolutely nothing—I just have a lot of puppy pictures lying around my computer from my time helping out with animal rescue stuff and didn’t have anything more relevant.

But on to the reason I’m writing this: my recent NyxQuest review may have led to some questions because it occurred to me after posting that not everyone has direct access to my mind and I haven’t ever actually described how things around here work. In said review, I posted a screenshot of Amazon where the date I purchased the game is visible (July 15th) and claimed that I bought it because my last couple reviews were negative and I was looking for something I’d like. However, the first of those negative reviews was posted on July 18th. Read more →

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