Gaming Memories: Memory Card Madness

It’s been a while since we dove back into the old memory banks so maybe it’s time to go…back in time, so to speak. I’ve talked  before about Final Fantasy VII which is one of my favorite of the series whether it’s my absolutely favorite or not is up for debate because there are several that I really love, but this time I’m not talking about the game itself but something that happened during that very long adventure.

I’m sure you all remember multi-page memory cards, if you don’t then you’re lucky, and if you’re lucky enough not to have an issue with one then even luckier. Anyway, moving on, I had one of those atrocious things because I didn’t know any better after all I was in high school so what could I possibly know besides everything. The idea of a memory card that had 99 pages of individual memory cards seemed like a brilliant idea and up until Final Fantasy VII it was a perfectly wonderful idea. Then came the fateful day, roughly fifty or so hours into the game (possibly a little less, I’ll even say it was closer to forty or so just to be safe), I came home from school and was greeted with a corrupted save file.

Now it’s fair to say that if I don’t have a form of ADD, either back then or even now, I would be a bit surprised and while there are some things that can manage to focus my attention for long stretches of time (like FFVII for instance), being faced with having to repeat that much of a game with a lot of un-skippable cutscenes in between was devastating at the time and would be soul crushing now. Needless to say that is exactly what happened, I had to painstakingly trek through a large chunk of the game and everything I had completed just to get back to where I was and while I really loved the game both then and though, it was a frustrating experience to go through and when you figure in the replay time, and throw in how long it took me to complete the game at the time (approximately 90 hours) I invested well over one hundred hours into the game.

Needless to say, I learned two very important lessons that day, the first was to save more than once with more than one save file and the second was to almost never trust third party memory cards…and I mean like ever!

Anyone else have a fun experience like this? Losing a crap ton of hours invested in a game due to a corrupt or missing file?

The Knight of Hollow

For the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of finally playing Hollow Knight and up until now if heard nothing but wonderful things about it and after quite a bit of time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the praise it has received is well warranted. Falling into the Metroidvania style of game, Hollow Knight is every bit as challenging that you would think it would be, and at times even harder than that. Essentially the story revolves around exploring a long dead city in habited by bugs and other nasties, no it isn’t as nasty as it sounds, it’s simply the nature of the world. Throughout the adventure you face off against monstrous entities and tainted creatures all while exploring this dead city and uncovering its secrets.

Before I played it, Hollow Knight received an outrageous amount of praise and rightly so. The story itself is fantastic and detailed in several different ways, with random relics and runes to read all of which flesh out the story and paint a dire picture of a once great city that has fallen from grace. Aside from story there is of course the art style itself, hand drawn and simply beautiful, I mean seriously I honestly can’t get over how beautiful this game looks with so many varied locales and each with their own distinct style it never gets boring to look at.

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There is one thing that I really need to mention even more than the art style and that’s the music, yes, I love it, but not like I love maybe the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack, or Castlevania Symphony of the Night. No, I love this soundtrack because while it is good, it’s understated, it fits, it’s organic. Every section of this game has its own mood and sound and that is what makes it a perfect fit and it’s why I love it, because not every soundtrack has to be standout and recognizable. Don’t get me wrong it does stand on its own and I could easily see me vegging out to it but in the context of the game itself it blends into the environment and brings it all to life in an intense way.

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In the end I do love playing Hollow Knight, then again at times I hate playing it as well. It’s a beautiful and frustrating game that brings back memories of the 16-bit era (and the horrors involved) while breathing new life into modern gaming, at least in my own opinion. It’s addicting and freeing in its explorations, but also rage quit inducing when it comes to many bosses and even just random enemies. Yes, like just about anyone else I would recommend it hands down, for whatever my opinion may be worth, and anyone who enjoys the pleasures a Metroidvania style would find a great deal to love here as well.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Building A World, A Jurassic World

I’m not sure where to start here, if you don’t know anything about Jurassic World Evolution it’s basically a Jurassic Park version of Planet Zoo, which is the zoological version of Planet Coaster…wow that was deep, sort of. Essentially, it’s a city builder/tycoon style game which ranks it pretty high on my favorite genre list and while I wanted to get Planet Zoo first, this one was much more in my price range at the time of this writing. Now to be fair, since it was Jurassic Park I had planned on getting it eventually anyway, I’ve always loved the movies or at least a few of them plus the idea of running a park specifically designed to showcase dinosaurs is a pretty sweet deal too.

To start, the game is beautiful, no question about it, they took a great deal of care in bringing dinosaurs and the environment to life in an amazing way, but this game is far more than just its visuals that’s for sure. For starters it’s very easy to get in to as well as easy to play which when it comes to a tycoon style game is fairly important in my book. After that there is of course the voice acting which, while the smaller characters are well acted, the real gold for me is simply having Jeff Goldblum reprising his role (again) as Dr. Malcom. Now granted he’s not the only one to make an appearance but certainly my favorite reason.

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Okay enough filler, let’s really talk about this game, and I want to start off with what would be my biggest gripe about it from what I’ve seen. It has several different modes, but my favorite of any Tycoon/City Builder style game is sandbox mode because I just want to build and manage, and this has that with what seems a major catch. See from what I can tell, in order to actually use sandbox mode, you have to finish an island in campaign mode which is somewhat frustrating and rather annoying. To be completely honest though I’m also not surprised, as much as I enjoy this game as well as Planet Coaster, sandbox mode is the most annoying. Between Jurassic World Evolution where you have to essentially earn the right to play in sandbox mode and Planet Coaster where the mode is basically giving you everything, taking away the concept of researching rides, they haven’t found a right mix when handling the mode.

All of that being said however, that is really the only complaint I have about the game, it’s incredibly addicting and easy to play but just challenging enough to keep it interesting. Voice acting is excellent, and visuals are beautiful and quite honestly the only reason not to like this is if you aren’t a fan of dinosaurs and even then, it’s kind of iffy because it’s still an immensely enjoyable game. I will add that in addition to essentially creating a Jurassic zoo, you also get to research and hatch dinosaurs, sending teams out to find fossils and learning about them adds a little bit extra for me.

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I’m sure this isn’t as interesting as any previous post but there isn’t a lot to say, well there is and there isn’t. At the game’s core it’s your basic tycoon game but the dino doggo’s make it an extra level of interesting and well worth giving it a go though I can’t honestly say I would pay full price for it. It’s good on so many levels but definitely one worth waiting for a sale.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Back to Raccoon with Prettier Graphics

Today I have a real treat, thanks to a good friend I’m able to talk about a game that I loved in its original form and have been aching to have since it was essentially remade recently. By now I’m hoping thanks to the title you’ve figured out I’m talking about Resident Evil 2, if not, well…I’m talking about Resident Evil 2. I’ll be honest though; I don’t ever recall beating the original on the PS1 without the help of a GameShark though I will say I have no regrets in that either but that’s a subject for another day. Circling back to RE2, the newer that is, I haven’t gotten very far in I admit but almost immediately the differences are obvious and I’m not talking about just the visuals either.

I know, by now everyone has played it so going over it is pointless…well guess what I’m gonna do anyways, that’s right, let’s go through some of this starting with the biggest difference. In the past you started up after the crash where Leon and Claire separate and go off to survive, well here we start at a convenience story which in my opinion is actually better, it gives a little more context and a little more of a connection between the two. At this point though I should point out that for me the game is rather laggy at times, in fact there are moments when action starts happening is when it starts to get a little choppy and I think that’s partly due to my PC specs. Mind you now my PC isn’t exactly a lightweight but some of the parts are a bit old and could do with some upgrading, so it forces me to play on the medium side of quality as opposed to the highest setting.

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All he wants is a little kiss, honest!

Outside of the problems I’ve laid out above, and I use the word problem very loosely in this instance as the problems are on my end, there is so far nothing about this game that I do not love…even the frustration of Mr. X though I will say that Mr. X is the one thing I could most definitely do without but that’s just me I suppose. To be quite honest I prefer is more subtle use in the original vs the stalking, “nemesis” of the remake and I’ll explain why too. You see for me, games like this give me higher levels of anxiety for various reasons and not necessarily because they are scary, no, it’s the concept of dying in the game that ups the blood pressure and anxiety.

Now a lot of this stems from a very unfortunate incident involving a multi-page PS1 memory card (if you remember what those are), Final Fantasy VII, about 50 hours of playtime, and a wiped save file as a result. So imagine investing all that time in a story and now know you’ll have to repeat it all because of data loss, my fear in this case is because I have such a short attention span that I’ll just toss the game aside for years before trying again, hoping I’ll have forgotten the story enough that it will still feel new to me in a sense. All of that being said RE2 shoots all of that through the roof because Mr. X on his own creeps me the hell right out and adding that level of anxiety on top of it pushes me back to playing from save point to save point…roughly five or ten minutes at a time, before I’m somewhat forced to call it quits for a few hours or a few days.

You would think with all of that I would hate the game but to the contrary I love it, maybe even more because of it. Yes, it frustrates me at times, and reduces my play time in a sense but I don’t honestly think I would have it any other way. In the end, the RE2 remake not only does justice to the original in many ways but it reinvents the game as well with it’s modern look and updated systems. For a while Capcom seemed to be somewhat out of it in a sense, not really seeming to care much about their fanbase, and then Monster Hunter World hit, then RE2, now RE3 remakes which to me are the biggest games they’ve had in a long while and all have helped them in several ways. A better image, a more inviting modern game library, and just as bright of a future as the 80s and 90s and I honestly hope they continue this momentum.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Returning to Eorzea

As I write this it had been approximately two years since I’d last visited Final Fantasy XIV (and perhaps longer than that even) and to be completely honest I had stopped because I didn’t have the time nor the money to commit to another MMO. Fast forward to Christmas of 2019 and when asked what I wanted as a present one of the first things that leapt to mind was a time card so that I could come back and I will be completely honest, I’m happy on many levels that I asked and received exactly what I asked for.

So just a little background I suppose, up until I tried World of Warcraft around the time of the Burning Crusade expansion, I had never played an MMO before. At the very least I had never played one seriously before WoW took hold that’s for sure. I dabbled with Final Fantasy XI and it was most definitely beyond my skill set so I never truly felt a desire to go back up until I heard of FFXIV.

We all know the problems with the original release, or at least most of us do, broken and almost completely unplayable on so many levels to the point that Square-Enix made a rather bold decision in not only pulling the plug but also rebuilding the game from the ground up delivering us “A Realm Reborn”. Now when I first ventured into the rebuilt game I was amazed at what I saw, I had no idea what I was doing and was completely confused but I loved it, it felt like a Final Fantasy game should in an online world and I was most definitely not disappointed.

Now since the relaunch of FFXIV I haven’t been able to play it much if at all, my current state of existence doesn’t leave much extra room for a monthly subscription to MMOs so I’m a bit restricted to time cards when I’m able to get them and like I said thanks to receiving one recently for Christmas I was ecstatic to jump back in. I’ve missed the thrill that an MMO can provide though granted I never truly missed playing alongside other people, but I’ll get to that later. The world looks amazing and the gameplay feels just right, not too terribly confusing though it does have it’s moments, and it’s been easy (for good or bad) to slip into some old habits of playing far longer than I should and I have absolutely no regrets about that.

Now before you think that I’m some super fanboy of the game let me reassure you that as much as I enjoy it, and as amazing of a feeling that I get when it do, it’s not without its faults. Now while I applaud the fact that Square-Enix have tried to create a way of helping players by way of an online resource it can sometimes be confusing and feel incomplete, in addition some of the things that you can do in game do carry with them certain requirements which the game itself makes no mention of (riding mounts for instance leaps to mind). All of that aside though there is one thing that I really do dislike, there are often times when you are forced to group up for a quest to advance the story, including getting a mount if I understand things correctly.

Hold your tongues for a moment, I know a lot of people are thinking “but it’s an MMO the whole point is to play with other people!!!!!” you sir or madame, are completely correct however let me explain myself if I may. Over the years the one thing that I’ve always loved about MMOs is that you can play them your way, how you choose to do so and while I understand and accept the fact that these quests are done intentionally to foster a sense of teamwork and community, when you’re a massive introvert even in the online world those quests can actually induce a level of anxiety.

I’m not even joking when I say that having to group up with people in an MMO messes with me in the worst of ways, I’m terrified on so many levels. I know I don’t know the dungeon or whatever we may be doing, I’m not always completely confident that I know how to play my character, I’m constantly feeling judged because we may be struggling and I’m fairly certain that it’s my fault. In short I understand why it’s done in MMOs to a point, I just wish that in this instance it wasn’t necessary just to get to something so necessary, having to complete a few dungeons in a row just to continue on to the point of being able to get a mount to travel around easier. Now I could be wrong that I need to complete these dungeons to get to the quest I need, but every bit of info I’ve seen says I have to so it’s delayed me advancing by a lot, though that’s not to say I stopped playing, if anything there are plenty of things to do in the meantime.

One of the one things that I actually love (as a result of being terrified to group up) is the fact that you are not bound to just one class, you can explore every class and every profession with one character, eliminating the need for multiples characters which is something I can greatly appreciate for sure. So while I manage to get through being forced to group up with people I’ve never met and in some cases really do not want to, I can spend my time perfecting a multitude of crafts. Really though, in the end, and even forced grouping aside, I love it. I’ve gotten more enjoyment in a few weeks of being back than I have in years of other MMO. So long as I’m able to get a time card here and there I’ll be back again and again.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Revisiting the God of War

We all know that God of War has been a staple series for Sony since its introduction in 2005 on the PS2 and since then it’s enjoyed several successful sequels. From my own personal standpoint I’ve not played many of them, I played the original and could never beat it but always loved it because it was something new and fresh (though all those damn quick time events thoroughly pissed me off to no end), and I played the second for sure, possibly the third, and definitely a little of the PSP version and while not all of them really excited me I could always appreciate the series for what it was…plus the whole mythology aspect was awesome as well.

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When I first heard about the latest installment at first I wasn’t sure how to take it, I mean it made sense branching out to a different mythological set and I’ve always loved Norse mythology slightly more than Greek or Roman if I’m being completely honest, but on the flip-side it felt weird that it was leaving behind its roots as well. While I was unsure as to whether or not I’d like the new direction I knew I still wanted to try it and now that I’ve finally had the chance to do so I can say that I both love this installment, and dislike it at the same time (notice, however, I did not say I hated it…that’s very important here).

I will say this, it’s an incredibly beautiful game, no question there at all, and I really love the open world aspect to it but that’s one of the biggest things I dislike about it as well. Now to be fair I always have a hard time finishing open world games of any variety because it’s far too easy to get distracted and I end up never finishing the game, but the reason I dislike the open world aspect is that because of those distractions I end up getting myself in trouble, I’ll explain. I don’t know if it’s because the world opens up to you a little too early (at least in my opinion) because it seems any time I want to explore and try to do extra things I’m always met with monsters that are far higher in level than I am and the breaking point was being stuck having just hit an autosave point in an area with too high level monsters and constantly taken out almost instantly. In that case I stepped back from the game for a bit and game back and was lucky enough that there was a save just far enough back that I didn’t have to do a lot of backtracking but it was also disappointing because it was a reminder that I was nowhere near ready to explore this amazing landscape and completely frustrating as well.

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I will say this though, as frustrating as this game can be I still love it, and ended up loving it far more than I thought I would, the battles are challenging, the setting is magical, the story is not only impressive, but gets progressively more intense the more you follow it. Quite honestly, and despite my early misgivings, I can’t imagine not playing this game several times over. If nothing else God of War illustrates with epic clarity that story driven games are still loved and enjoyed and are a style that should never truly go away because as much fun as it may be to destroy your friends in an online match, nothing will compare with taking an active role in a story as it’s protagonist and seeing it through to the end. Fighting through the frustration and challenges makes even the smallest accomplishments seem epic and it’s one of the things that make gaming so inspiring for me personally, as someone that over the years has constantly let themselves down, being the hero in a game can give that feeling of accomplishment but also inspire the desire to be greater than a one already is and that’s why I’ll always come back to gaming and God of War was a great reminder of what made me fall in love with gaming in the first place.

~Fallyn Aingeal~

Rough Start to 2020

So as of this writing, or at least the beginning of this writing because I know it will take me a few days to finish it, I’m already behind on my 2020 plans though to be fair not completely my fault either. So, leading up to today (12/28), I’ve had the craziness of Christmas coupled with a nasty cold which has severely slowed down anything I wanted to work on, heck I haven’t even had time to play any games.

I had hoped that by now I would have at least a couple of reviews done and I was on track with finishing God of War but then things ground to a halt so I’ll have to find a way to catch up and get ahead. Under normal circumstances I would already give up for the year, but I’m still determined to make 2020 a turning point in every way so really, I just have to power through this cold and get back on track. I do have a few games to play that I’d like to talk about it’s just finding the time and the energy. Also coming up in four days I’ll be hitting my 38th year of existence on this floating orb so that will slow me down a little too what with celebrating and everything.

Another thing I’ve started, apparently I already had a GoodReads account and completely forgot about it, but I’d like to read and talk about more books so I set myself a challenge to read 5 books in 2020. Now I know that doesn’t sound like much but finding time to read is a challenge for me so it’s a reasonable goal in my opinion. Obviously, I want to read more than that but it’s a start.

Speaking of challenges, and getting back to my Steam list, which is every growing, I’m setting the same goal of five games to finish by the end of the year. Now just like the books there is a strong chance I can go past that, so I’ll update my goals as necessary but for right now it’s a good starting point.

Looking back I suppose I’m not truly as far behind as I thought I was, yes I had hoped to have a second review ready to give me a little more time but that’s alright. Now while this is up here and now on the first of the year there won’t be one this weekend as I’m counting this for this weeks post and it’ll still give me a little more time to get ahead, also, I got a new sketchbook finally so I’m going to be drawing again and this time really working at it.

That’s all for now folks, I know it isn’t a grand opening to the new year thanks to this cold but it’s a start and my hopes are still high that things will be just fine.

~Fallyn Aingeal~