2015 Rodeo Roundup - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


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Ishmael
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"2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Tue 22 Dec 06:57post reply

It's the end of the year so it's time to reflect on some of the games I played.


Bloodborne A game full of black death trappings that turns into Lovecraftian horror? That's my jam! Trouble is, in 2015 I started playing games with headphones. In Bloodborne everything is constantly shrieking, snarling and coughing at you. I often play games to unwind at the end of the day but I couldn't play Bloodborne because it was always yelling in my ears. So while I like Bloodborne I can only play it when I have a free afternoon to spend on a game that winds me back up.

Mortal Kombat X I like that the damage that occurs during the fight to the characters was toned down so the winning fighter now look scuffed up but tough as opposed to crippled for life. What I wasn't prepared for was the sweat. Characters now have beady drops of sweat covering their bodies, even the parts that are pumping out ice or hellfire. It's unnerving to have the characters look like they are built out of greasy slices of chicken. The MK programmers should look at the DoA games to see how lovingly rendered body moisture can be.

Destiny I only played through the story mode -what there was of it- but I did get to experience the game during the period when Peter Dinklage was replaced. The game went from a monotone narrator reciting nonsensical lines to a narrator who emphatically recited nonsensical lines. Some game.

Witcher 3 What sold me on the game is that the main character is fussy about details while remaining slightly detached from the emotions of the quest he is on. He's the perfect representation of the mindset that comes from playing a game full of stats and items.

Monster Hunter 4 This particular MH feels slightly more user friendly than the previous entries, meaning I wasn't lost the second I turned on the game. Still, I feel I'm missing the main component of the game by not having three other players who are willing to not only explain the game to me but play it for hours on end. I wonder if I can order extra players through an import shop?






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Spoon
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"Re(1):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Tue 22 Dec 10:09:post reply

Most Phantom Pain
MGSV The Phantom Pain
I have an enormous number of things to say about this game, so I will spare you all of that and just say that for all the warts and things which can't even be warts because they are missing (such PHANTOM PAIN), this is my game of the year.

Best Tactical Squid Action
Splatoon is the best new IP, the best non-sequel Nintendo game in probably forever, contains the most advanced graphics technology in a Nintendo game of recent times, does a lot of things in the multiplayer space that previously people would've thought nobody would get away with but now that they've made off in grand style everybody will imitate, manages to be hardcore serious competitive but also appealing to everybody across every demographic except those afraid of both kids and squids, and has a Miiverse community that will probably be unrivalled until Splat2n. The number of good things and surprising things about this game cannot be quickly stated. This game will sell one million physical copies in Japan before the end of the year, I can't remember the last new IP to do that. Nintendo has done something amazing, which is make a multiplayer online game that can compete for mindshare among children, which is a space that has titans in it, and do so on a foundering console. Everything about Splatoon is amazing. It'd be my game of the year if MGSV hadn't come out the same year.

The Phantom Shoegaze
I get that artists change over time, get bored with things they used to do, try out new stuff, etc. etc. きのこ帝国 moving ever farther from the shoegaze-y stuff that is most familiar to them into a more everyday pop would probably be less surprising to me if I actually could understand any of the interview material with them, but every time I hear one of their tracks that sounds more like what I'm used to them sounding like, I wonder why they specifically chose the direction that they have.

Medal Gear Solid
Nintendo Badge Arcade features the best new Nintendo character not found in Splatoon, certainly the best animated Nintendo character in memory, and a set of mechanisms so polished and so appealing that it is practically the devil's teat, from which children and overgrown children the world over will not be able to resist suckling from. I have managed to only spend a few dollars to earn some pixel art birds, which are currently riding on Bullet Bills in my 3DS home menu. Thank goodness for the frequency with which unappealing sets show up in the Badge Arcade, or else I would probably have done like Iggy and spent the entire dowry on it.

RPG I Actually Beat
Much to my own surprise, I managed to beat an RPG as vast as Xenoblade Chronicles, but I finally did it on the 3DS. After making it through, as much as I wanted to get back at some of the huge monsters that I accidentally discovered, as well as getting some of the skill trees that I didn't know existed until literally before fighting the last bosses, I was just so exhausted with regards to the game that I couldn't. I will eventually, though. The cast of the game, even in spite of their excessive in-combat chatter, was quite endearing. I was somewhat surprised by how little I enjoyed playing as Melia, though, given that her system at a glance looks like it should be quite involving.

Why Am I Still Here? Just to Suffer?
I have no idea why I still play DOTA2. Oh wait, I do, it's because it's the video game equivalent of boxed alcohol in every way except monetary expense. You don't even need to like it to keep playing it, in spite of many people's best efforts to remove it from their lives.

Best Animated Punch not thrown by Big Boss
One Punch Man's 2D animation is astonishing. Even if you loathe mainstream manga/anime, and even if its satirical angle falls flat on you, the animation of it is so so good.

The Nihongo Strain
I learned something really interesting about subtitled anime released on the internet recently. I asked my pal, "how come there are so few/such crummy subtitled episodes available for the new Lupin III series? It seems like every show, no matter how crappy, gets subtitled releases these days" and he told me that because it is not simulcast, fan translation of it would have to be done the "oldschool way" involving actual translation and timing and all that; i.e. the mass bulk of those subtitled shows are ripped straight from Crunchyroll or whichever other online channel. This really surprised me, but maybe it would've been less of a surprise if I had been actively following the translation "scene". I now wonder what happened to all the people that did the work of translating and timing and encoding and all that. As such, you'll find more Lupin III 2015 episodes that are translated from Italian to English than from Japanese to English. After years of surviving on other people translating stuff for them, no expertise remains that is interested in tackling some of these series. Interesting! This is probably the most interesting thing I've learned about anime in the West all year.

Such A Lust for CING
MAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU
I still haven't beaten Last Window.





[this message was edited by Spoon on Tue 22 Dec 10:10]

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"Re(1):2015 Rowdy Roundup" , posted Tue 22 Dec 15:18:post reply

(Still) Game of the Year / "Toxico-niichan is Our Sugar Daddy" Game of the Year: Dragon’s Crown (PS3/Vita, 2013-now)
With the handsome Dragon's Crown artbook and soundtrack having just come out, there's a compelling case that 2015 is still the year of Dragon’s Crown. It's especially true thanks to the continued fun of Cafe raids deep into bonus infinity dungeons in which Toxico uses his unfathomable wealth to revive our sorry asses after our fourth continue.

Beta of the Year / Best Ass-slap Percussion of the Year: Street Fighter V (PS4/PC, 2016)
My three days with the SFV beta have been the most fun I've had with any new game in 2015. Aesthetics are hit or miss for people, I know, but the improvement over SFIV is so marked that I can't help but love it. Where once there was awful music, now there is pretty good music. Where once there were universally shitty newcomers, now there are at least two interesting ones. Where once there were ugly, idiot-faced, off-model characters, now there are Hot Ryu and Hot Chun-li decently attractive characters with personality and a sense of culture. Though I still can't believe Karin and Mika came back, of all people.

Best Other Game I Almost Played That's Actually from 2015: Ori and the Blind Forest (PC/Xbox, 2015)
The creators' influence by Ghibli is evident in the profoundly beautiful visual design and music of this (apparently) Metroidvania-like adventure. It was so pretty that I actually got it in its year of release! This was before I got a new computer, however, and it got pretty hard to play a platformer while making mental adjustments for the two second delay between pressing jump and jumping. Then I got a new computer, but the moment had already passed. Oh well.

Best Dracula Clone / Best Reason to Get a PC-98 in 2015: Rusty (PC-98, 1993)
Toxico pointed me towards Rusty, a game for NEC's PC-98 that at first glance is a blatant Akumajou Dracula clone, right down to the whip-wielding protagonist, reincarnated Count Monte Carlo, geometry of certain parts of the castle, and exact copies of certain battles. What's sublime is how it takes Dracula to its logical and brilliant extension: heroine Rusty wears a leather corset and thong that actually make the whip weapon make sense aesthetically in a way that Simon’s never did and there’s lightly animated but compelling movie sequences throughout the game. What's baffling is that while it obviously cribs from SFC Dracula (“IV”), it was released concurrently with Dracula X~Rondo of Blood yet somehow has extremely similar approaches to cinematics as well as the need to rescue village girls imprisoned in the Castle…was there staff mixing, prototype leaking, or a secret Konami funding interest in C-lab?! What's outstanding is the OUT OF CONTROL soundtrack, shining like vintage PCE/Megadrive in the very best ways imaginable. Listen to the first two minutes of the penultimate sequence and go nuts. There's no way you can't!!!

"I Wonder if He Still Cing's About Me" Award: Last Window (DS, 2010)
One day Spoon and I will form an in-person support group where we sit in a circle and help ourselves talk through why we can’t finish this extraordinarily worthy follow-up to Wish Room/Hotel Dusk and last hurrah for the adventure genre. I almost picked it up this year, you know! Like, I even held my DS. I thought, "I should play this." I didn't, though.

Best Gear I Still Don’t Understand: Guilty Gear Xrd (PS4/PS3, 2014 (but almost 2015))
My Christmas download costumes for I-no and Faust are unstoppable, even if I can’t make heads or tails of what Guilty Gear is about despite (or because of) a bafflingly long tutorial that tells me things I could do but not why I would want to. But I continue to admire Guilty’s art and am alwayyyys ready to RIDE THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN

Best Gear for Americans As I Imagine Them: Metal Gear Solid 5 (PS4/PC, 2015)
I found the "ambitious" hodge-podge of horror and suspense cliches rammed into Metal Gear 5’s indulgently and unprofessionally long cacophony of an opening sequence to be pretty stupid, but I admire Kojima’s ability to basically redesign the series so everywhere looks like a Counter Strike level that will appeal (I suppose) to American gamers, while still enabling the sublime joys of launching enemies into the sky with a rocket-parachute to your base, wherein you can beat them up while having them say "thank you for the guidance, sir!" like a high school kouhai on TV.

Best Game That Still Won’t Trick Me into Getting a Wii U: Super Mario Maker (Wii U, 2015)
There’s no way I'd get a Wii U at this stage of its life, but if I did, I sure would play everyone’s Mario Maker levels from the Cafe!

Best Animation of the Year: Lupin III (TV, 2015)
I sure don't watch TV anymore, but for a lavishly animated, well-scripted new Lupin series with a great sense of place, strong understanding of Zenigata that outweighs its caution toward Fujiko, and a percussive soundtrack by Ohno Yuji's live band, I'll make an exception! Teacher is very disappointed in the class and you’ve all been very naughty students for not finding some way to watch it yet. Meet teacher in the Lupin III thread after catching up on your homework and you may still pass this term.

Best Game I Still Want to Play with the Cafe: Monaco (PC/Xbox, 2013)
Speaking of heists, no game I've yet seen (least of all official ones) so faithfully recreates the joy of Lupin III's gang of thieving personalities as Monaco, whose charmingly geometric art and robust ragtime-jazz soundtrack combine with highly unique characters and countless ways to sneak your way to victory.

Poster of the Year: Iggy (France, 19xx)
A baffling and unheard of combination of prolific posting AND rich/fun/funny/insightful commentary, Iggy’s ascent to 10,000 posts is a Cafe milestone. I'm still waiting for Geraldine's thesis on the subject, however.

Cafe Proprietor of the Year: Professor (Hydeland, 19xx)
Like the wise bartender who cleans his mugs while smiling bemusedly at the mayhem and strange characters surrounding him, Professor continues to oversee the only sensible place to talk about games...and that's also thanks to all of you here!





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Tue 22 Dec 16:29]

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"Re(1):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Fri 1 Jan 03:46post reply

I like the word “round-up”. I'm seeing all the games I played this year queuing in an uneasy line, while I shake a gun in their direction and shout “Schnelll! Schnelll! Züruck! Du! Vorangehst!”. I may even shoot one of them at some point to show I'm serious (especially if Badge Center is in the queue).
I think I need a new Hugo Boss suit.

2015 has been a very strange year, on many levels, and I'm not sad it is finally over. E3 had summed up nicely what to expect of videogames, since all the big names were seen the previous year and would be released next year, leaving only scraps for 2015.
Scraps is probably a strong word and there has been a couple of great games against all odds. But seeing all the GOTY lists gravitating towards the same 5 games feels like a waste of a perfectly fine tradition.
My problem is that I cannot feel much enthusiasm for any of the winners of the year:
* Splatoon: competitive online shooters are not my thing, but the game deserves the praise it gets. Yet another page in the long elegy “just when Nintendo seems to have fallen completely out of touch, they create something amazing that propels them back to the front line”, it is probably the most worthy of the GOTY label.
* I find difficult to look at MGS5 without thinking of the real-life comedy that exploded in its wake, the “Fuck Konami” motto, and Kojima's masterful dance in order to look like the innocent victim. Maybe it will be easier to analyse in a couple of years? Will Quiet seem less ridiculous then? Probably not.
* Mario Maker is another undeniable success, but one I prefer watching from the side, trying to understand how Nintendo managed to capture and monetize an internet subculture that had existed merely on free romhacks for years. Bonus points for detering from creating videogames people who have no business creating videogames, and that may be the WiiU's most valuable contribution to the industry.
* The Witcher 3: I have nothing to say on that. It's good? I guess?
* Bloodborne, aka Dark Souls: Soul Darker. I like the series, but not enough to buy a PS4 for it. I also think weaning myself for a year was a good idea in order to welcome DS3 next. Are otherwordly abominations and a slightly more nimble character enough to push the 4th game of an excellent but quite same-y series as a GOTY contender? Can't a game simply be a good game without being touted as the bestest thing there is?

On a more personal point of view, the year has been full of disappointments and half-successes. It will remain the year when a new mainline Basara game (with Sen no Rikyû!!) and a new Jojo cross-over game have been released, and I didn't feel like buying either. I bought the Phantom Blood game! I enjoyed the Golden Wind one! Something was clearly very wrong.

XenobladeX is probably the worst betrayal of 2015: amazing world, fantastic map building, a technical marvel built upon thousands of work-hours ruined by the worst OST in recent years and two moronic scenarists incapable of writing proper Sci-fi, proper human interactions, an actual narrative, believable emotions, and let's not even talk about comic relief. There are things I actively dislike in this industry, #FE for example, but the people responsible for ruining XenoX have a special place in my personal hell.

Daigyakuten Saiban was funny, and had plenty of lovable elements and charming characters. But it seems Takushû has fallen into the same trap as countless others before him: the first GS wasn't designed as a trilogy, it just happened to develop that way. Building DaiGS as a series from the very first episode, leaving all sorts of possible doors open, ended up leaving the entire house ajar without much build-up or satisfactory pay-off. See you in the next episode!

Two of my favourite games this year were sequels: Picross 3D 2 (as solid, charming, intuitive and satisfying as the first one) and Rythm Tengoku The Best + (well, less a sequel than ¼ sequel ¾ best of). But if I wasn't sure the new episode of the Souls series was really worthy of the GOTY position, there is no way either of these games could qualify, regardless of their merits. Rythm Tengoku in particular had great perks, between resurrecting the best elements of the GBA version, creating fantastic new games and tunes, or bringing home the point that the DS episode was indeed a mistake from head to toe, and even a traditional button layout couldn't save the drab thing. Fortunately, after each bad mini-game, the game nurses you back to health with a Wii one.

PxZ2, aka NxC2 but also "Vampire vs Sakura Taisen vs a bunch of characters that tagged along without being invited, and also Segata Sanshiro" was only fun as long as one could laugh to Morrigan's dodgy allusions or Sakura's bitchiness. Which for me was 40 hours. Not bad, I guess?

Yoshi's Woolly World was adorable AND a good Yoshi game, something that hadn't happened since the SFC. It was also a delightful occasion to make fun of people who championed Yoshi's Island yet complained about floaty jumps, hidden treasures, a game too easy to finish yet too random to 100%… YWW was useful because it illustrated once again that the plateformer genre is extremely wide and diverse, and you couldn't make two games more different than this and Tropical Freeze. Unfortunately, it also showed that even a solid game and adorable artwork amounted to nothing if nobody cared about your genre except old geezers like me. Also, WiiU curse.

Badge Center has been released in the west, just in time for my Stockholm syndrome to wear off. The endless galleries of Animal Crossing added every week, when not a single badge of Kid Icarus (new or old) has been released, finally managed to break the spell of the mesmerizing rabbit, and while I still love the little pink fuck and hope to see it in the next Smash Bros, the skilfulness with which the game trades money for shiny pebbles without any fun in-between scares me. I still play it every day.

Darius Burst Chronicles Saviour was fantastic. I have nothing bad to say about it, it's just perfectly perfect and it makes me happy.

We are now approaching the indies zone. Be on your guard!

More than any other year, I think 2015 has been saved by the indies. 2014 games got updated and became even better, genres were expanded, daring visuals were lovingly crafted, creativity was rewarded, good games surfaced over the ocean of junk, Indivisible was funded, and there was too many games for me to try. Her Story and Invisible.Inc in particular will be waiting for me in 2016.

I played those games on PC, but I'm sure quite a few of those are/will be available elsewhere if you behave like a proper lady.

Honourable mentions:
A good snowman is hard to build
Most explicit title. The game couldn't be simpler: you're a monster, you build snowmen, push snow to make snowmen, enjoy having built snowmen while sitting on a bench. It's a kind of Sokoban with just the perfect level of cuteness and clarity, short, good, makes me smile, would recommend.

Crypt of the Necrodancer
The awesomeness of the title, which probably predated any game document, is so great it collapses on itself and obscures any memory of the game I could foster.

80 Days
Apparently, “chose-your-own-adventure” games are popular. This one is a huge network of choices and consequences with inventory management and basic market stakes keeeping, in a charming package built around Jules Verne's book. Definitely worth a look if you like light-hearted steampunk.

Super Time Force Ultra
Imagine a mix of Contra and Braid. Or better, a mix of those games with the sequence at the end of every level of Super Meat Boy, when you see all your attempts at the level superimposed in a joyful explosion of gore. STFU is basically that, and manages to be fantastically addictive if you can look pass the dreadful scenario and dumb-on-purpose-to-the-point-of-being-obnoxious-not-everyone-is-Jean-Pierre-Kellams writing. My favourite 2D run-and-shoot on Steam right now, and I can tell you there's quite a few out there.

Tembo the Badass Elephant
Imagine a platformer with the rhinoceros friend of DKC, mixed with powers from the elephant and fat baby from DKC3 and some elements reminding of old 2D Sonic (not the almost auto-runner ones with designed courses and auto-aiming everything, but the ones where running fast mindlessly would get you killed while you missed every secret). The physics of a fast+heavy main character take a bit to get used to, but can get quite rewarding The game screams GAME FREAK from the very beginning, from the fantastic 2D art that oozes personality in the tiniest details (the solar panels of the satellites are peanut-shaped!), to the technical inanity of the programmers (don't try to change the button layout, modify the resolution or play the game full screen on PC if you want to be allowed to jump or walk). That's the GAME FREAK we know and love, who had trouble to work on the so-powerful Game Boy even in 1995!
To be honest, nothing in the game is particularly outstanding, but I would kill to know the hidden, behind-the-scene drama that led to the release of the game on everything EXCEPT Nintendo consoles.

Concrete Jungle
Again a mixture of concepts, this time “turn-by-turn-Columns where you fill the grid with Sim-City-like buildings in order to make points, except it's also a deck-building game where you can only select the buildings you have in your hand”. Much easier in-game than on paper. The art is divisive (it reminds me of the old board games I used to play 30 years ago, but it could turn off some people) but the game can become quite addictive.

Undertale
The indie darling of the year, which let me cold as a rock. Try-hard, not particularly funny or well written, misses everything that made Mother any good or distinctive, and not very pretty either. On the other hand, the fight system, between a danmaku and Made-in-Wario, is a great invention, and the dogs are the best dogs I've ever seen in gaming, so it balances out the flaws.

Sunless Sea
Almost another chose-your-own-adventure, Sunless Sea is a sea-faring commerce navigation in the vast underground ocean that swallowed London. Bizarre to the core, with amazing worldbuilding, there is nothing quite like it. I didn't enjoy the actual game as much as I would have liked (a bit too grindy-same-y), but I can only applaud the bold decisions that led to the release of such a weird and fascinating creature.

Darkest Dungeon
The edgy-as-fuck, darker-than-that-game-that-tried-to-be-darker-that-Dark-Souls aesthetics might turn people off (and don't get me started with the narrator), but the core of the game, a brutal and addictive dungeon crawler with disposable heroes is clean and surprisingly addictive.

Renowned Explorers Society
Another big disappointment this year, by the geniuses that made Reus on top of that, the game sends a wide selection of explorers be Lara Croft or Nathan Drake in a time when raiding tombs and destroying temples because you really, really want to own the tiny gold relic was not so frowned upon. The game has a collection of fantastic characters, and I wish more games allowed me to play a tyrannical German math teacher pacifying monkeys by threatening to tell their parents about their latest test. Unfortunately, the game lacked the spark, that indescribable something that draws you back to a game, and I lost interest very quickly. A shame, really, the setting was excellent. Worth a try if you see it on sale and you like the setting.

Top 5 indies of 2015!
5-The Consuming Shadow
Made by Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee, the game is a horror game procedurally generated where you drive through Great Britain to prevent some unspeakable horror from conquering the world by assembling clues. The game is surprisingly minimalistic and clunky at times, but greatly rewarding in its risk vs reward scheme, and has a very good level-up system that is entirely optional (which allows the game to skilfully avoid the balancing failure that plagued the likes of Rogue Legacy). The ambiance is really good if you let yourself get in, and managed to make me really ill at ease in the middle of the night.

4-Downwell
Minimalistic again, very focused reversed vertical shooter, brilliant mechanics, ridiculously low price, made by a nice guy, deserves your money.

3-Mini Metro
Oh god. This game. So sleek. So pretty. So simple. So addictive. So much time wasted drawing lines and cursing Parisian people for spawning at the wrong location because they want to go to CROSS when there is a perfectly fine SQUARE just a few stations away. Use your goddam feet, assholes.

2-Aviary Attorney
It's been released! And it's as good as anyone could have hoped! Be warned, it's only 4 hours long, but those are 4 perfect hours, the characters are fantastic, the public domain visuals and musics are more than a joke and greatly add to the goofy atmosphere, and the game ends before it outstays its welcome which is not something most Gyakuten games can say. What would have made or broken the game was the writing, and it's flawless, like the best of Takushu's. Not “good because it reads like Gyakuten”, but rather “good because it's witty, to the point, funny yet serious, has punchline characters yet creates believable and charming heroes and antagonists, which also happens to be what Gyakuten does in its good days”. Everyone should play this game, it has the recipe for happiness and a good life.

1-The Age of Decadence
After 4 minimalistic games, let me end the list with a game everything but. If you like open-ended, branching RPG (branching like Tactics Ogre, not “you can do anything so we didn't bother to write anything” like Skyrim), you probably thought about how far such a concept could be pushed, without constraints of 3D models, dubbing, sales objective or common sense to hold back the options. Apparently, someone else was wondering as well, and the answer is “pretty damn far”. It apparently also took 15 years, because the game is written in Torque and switches from VGA to S-VGA every time it detects that my graphic card can handle such an advanced technology
The Age of Decadence is a megalomaniac CRPG, set in a weird end-of-roman-empire-but-also-arabic-caliphate fantasy. You are [whatever] and can do [whatever]... that your character could want to with what it knows, what it wants and what it can do.
The game is balanced around “fights are mostly suicidal and if you make your character a powerful fighter it will probably be dumb as a rock and get fooled in the dialogues that make most of the game, but if you don't take care of your prowess you'll get slaughtered like a pig the moment you take a wrong turn in a dark alley so have fun”. Stat distribution works like a regular paper-and-pen RPG, but contrary to most other videogames that try to replicate the system, AoD manages to makes stats in Persuasion, manner, streetwise or lore more important than any sword, dodge or crafting skill thanks to the absurdly massive script.
The world is not huge, but filled with crannies and people you will likely never interact with because you decided to be a thief and not an assassin, which puts you on a totally different branch of scenario. I have a lot of trouble to progress in the game, because I keep saving after each branch, going back to the previous save, and wondering “can I really pick the other option? Oh wow yes I can and everything unfolds so differently what happens if I go there and wait what what would have happened if I had...”. I read experts saying most full games from beginning to end only allow you to see 5% of the game, and it doesn't look like an exageration to me.
AoD is certainly not a game for everyone, but it's a radical take on an idea that has become more and more cherished after disgraces such as Fallout 4's campaign.

So… Yeah! Not a bad year after all when you look at it carefully!
And all things considered, if I were to keep only one gaming-related memory this year, it would still be walking/swimming/flying through Mira in Xenoblade X. Forget the scenario and the moronic characters, the world is such a masterpiece I still feel like visiting from time to time. Not merely “great for a Japanese open world” or “great map” or “great sense of scale”: it's all that and much more. I hope the big delay on Zelda come from the fact Aonuma played XenoX, saw that the best open world builders were at Monolith, scrapped everything the team had done and had Monolith rework Hyrule.
So long, 2015, you won't be missed. Welcome 2016! Don't disappoint!

And happy new year to all!





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"Re(2):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Fri 1 Jan 04:25:post reply

quote:
Iggy stuff


Good to see that a few games I had my eyes on (Mini Metro, mainly) are quite worth checking out. Age of Decadence sounded crazy from what I read of it, in that the game is mostly about exploring huge event trees with plenty of events that aren't good for you at all, and that sounded good-ish, but the graphics that have aged poorly even though the game has just been released kind of turned me off from giving it a try. Too many games just look too good these days!

I really like Super Time Force Ultra's rewind mechanic (and it looks so cool, too!), but I found that the actual moving and shooting to not feel very good. I get that the boss enemies need to be durable enough to make uniting with past characters necessary, and for the level to contain enough deathtraps that you will want to have help to overcome them, but something more fundamental about the attacks and the walking/jumping speeds doesn't feel good to me.

I played Invisible Inc. and it's certainly a well-crafted game, and one which cements Klei as one of the few good stealth game makers out there. I think my problem with it is that as more and more time passes, in spite of how much I enjoy being surprised by randomly generated stuff and how X-COM (the DOS one!) is one of my favourite games of all time, I've grown increasingly tired of what feels like lottery progression: you unlock stuff which is more powerful or gives you more options with each run, and the difficulty of any given run is hugely dependent on random factors. So the result is that I feel like I'm just playing a lottery, even when the game balance isn't terrible. I like games which allow the player to fail, but there's this mystical triangle of challenging/rewarding(?)/fundamentally fulfilling which games dependent on random generation need to be careful with. Even

I mean, I spent more time than I want to admit playing Risk Of Rain, but there's nothing more unrewarding in that game than the fact that enemies just grow more durable as time passes, and if you don't get a mix of damage items and healing items in the chests you open, you will eventually not be able to kill the enemies and be forced to end your current game. Even if the game hands me out new item unlocks after than run and even if the feel of hitting the enemies is good and even if the music and visual design is decent, at a certain point I just feel like the game is a waste of my life, which is even worse than the game just being not fun in the first place.





[this message was edited by Spoon on Fri 1 Jan 04:31]

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"Re(3):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Fri 1 Jan 10:45:post reply

Sad to say that I have not been up to date in the video game scene these past couple years. Funny thing is I only bought some systems only for specific games on those consoles. As well as playing games that members of the cafe recommended. Especially those rare, hard to find, or niche style games. This is one of the reasons why I have become a fan of MMcafe for about 15 years.Thanks everyone for the time and contribution for reviewing and recommending video games we love. This thread is a great example.

I am still catching up to current games at this moment but at a very slow rate. Only playing games I know are worth my time.

The only new game I played this year, YATAGARASU AOC. It is a good 2-d fighter for what it offers.

I am still playing Megaman ZX Advent. It is one of the last Megaman X style game with the original Megaman series difficulty. I play it once in a while so that I can enjoy that feeling for as long as I can. We will never get a Megaman game like that again.

That wraps it up! Sad isn't it? Well can I recommend some anime in case you missed it? I am behind on that as well. But there so many, it is hard to stay up to date.

For movies:
Colorful
Children Who Chase Lost Voices
Wolf Children
Summer Wars
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Series:
Darker Than Black
Haikyuu!!

For this year, so far I am only waiting for Mighty.no9 and KOF XIV. I have never purchased or owned a Playstation ever in my life. Always choose Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, and Wii over them. I even got an Xbox 360 as my first xbox only for KOF 12 and 13. If I ever needed to get a any PS game, I would always borrow someones PS system. Now, looks like I have to buy a PS4 system for the new KOF. Sad is it not? I see it as funny! Thanks for a good year!





Long Live!

[this message was edited by neo0r0chiaku on Fri 1 Jan 10:49]

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"Re(4):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Mon 4 Jan 22:21post reply

Oh hey, it's that time again.

Most Game of The Year Game I played and Finished: Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain

I'm sure MGSV will be talked about (and has been already) but I wanna point out a couple of things:
1) It's BEAUTIFUL. And COLORFUL. Things that were not true with any realistic gritty militaristic shooter, especially those set in Afghanistan. We've been so accustomed to brown gray ugly mountains and brown gray ugly valleys in plenty of FPS games, but Kojima Productions and their art team managed to create beautiful landscapes. I'm sure Afghanistan itself is a beautiful country, but playing MGSV makes me wonder why couldn't anyone else capture the beautiful nature of the place in other games.

2) It's does Open-World Right, but Open-World does Metal Gear wrong.
When I heard MGSV was gonna be open-world, I was both excited and worried. Metal Gear always had a big "open world-like" design, somewhat. The original MSX Metal Gear was structured like a Zelda game. The whole game was set in huge map where you can travel to any point at anytime as long as you have the necessary tools to reach said place, whether it's card keys or equipment like gas masks or mine detectors or infra red lens or even remote control missiles that help you defeat a boss. Plus the whole "stealth" mechanic is really about movement and positioning, seeing which paths in an area are safe and then timing you're movement away from enemy vision. So of course a bigger playing field means more paths to consider, and it makes the game much more interesting.

What I was worried about, though, was that MGSV will have a lot of unnecessary fluff and distractions. It seems that open-world games generally lack focus and try to cram in as much stuff in them. It's been steadily growing in GTA, but GTAV took that to a new stratosphere, with tennis, pool, yoga, watching tv, boat racing etc. It’s in other games too, like Assassin's Creed, with a map STUFFED with icons depicting all sorts of shenanigans you can do but don't know if you want to, or Bethesda RPGs with massive lists of sidequests. I wasn’t interested in doing car races or fetch quests or that sort of stuff in MGSV. I didn’t want a side mission where I had to challenge Ocelot to a 3 lap car race around mother base in order to get his allegiance (although now that I think about it, I wish this particular case was true). And thankfully, MGSV stays focused on simply being a stealth action game, and while keeping the world interesting enough to warrant exploring (usually with good rewards for doing so).

Open world does hurt Metal Gear though, mostly with the plot. Metal Gear always had a sense of urgency. Usually, the the plot takes place in a duration of 24h, within a single infiltration mission (or 2 with MGS2 & 3). And within that short duration, all the major twists & revelations happen, & things escalate quickly. Having it be open world sucks a bit of that urgency out since A: It's a much longer game now, so the plot has to take place over a much longer duration, and B: Every mission has to end with a return to status quo. Every mission has to start with Big Boss infiltrating a location, doing something, & then getting out. Big Boss has to be able to travel back to mother base every hour or so, and that removes the sense of danger or even significance to your actions since whatever you're doing, it's probably something you've done before or will do again soon after. After the 12th prisoner saving mission, as fun and as varied as these missions are on a gameplay design level, it does feel like a mission like this is only about 12th as important as say saving Sokolov in MGS3.

Having said that, it still had a lot of Metal Gear moments tho

Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
(mainly the Quite fight, and the first time you save the child soldiers)

End of Spoiler

. And it still does a good job showing the growing comradely between Big Boss and his soldiers, and I’d take MGSV’s story over the mess that was MGS4 any day. It's unfortunate that it obviously had missing stuff, but I enjoyed what was there, and I really liked Quite's arc specially. But it was fun just hanging out with Kaz and Ocelot (and DD is the best). And it's a fine way to end the series as it was handled by Kojima (I'm still interested in seeing how Konami will handle the series without him. I'm just not hopeful about it). And yes, I liked that ending.

Best Game Of The Year Not of This Year, or really decade: Castlevania Bloodlines
It seems that in terms of "Classicvanias", general opinion suggest either Rondo Of Blood or Four or Three or even the First Castlevania as the best. But after giving Bloodlines some time earlier this year, I think that may be my favorite. It's the last fully original "Classicvania" before Symphony of the night came in a couple of years after and changed the formula. But it does a great job collecting all the best aspects of the series by then and putting it in one game. You have 2 characters. John Morris, who uses a whip, can grapple onto cielings sorta like Simon in Super Castlevania 4. And Eric Lecard can throw his spear at multiple directions, sorta like the 8-directional whip in Super CV4. Both characters have item crushes like Rondo. It veers away from the usual Castlevania locales, sorta like the original game boy entries, and goes for a journey set across europe in a tumultuous time of history. More importantly, the levels and enemies look great, the music (Michiru Yamane’s first for the series) is fantasic FM-Synth, and it feels difficult but never cheap like say the falling blocks section in Castlevania 3. Sure, it’s a short game since it doesn’t have multiple paths like CV3 or Rondo (although they did sorta try that in the Palace of Versailles stage), but every stage is solid, with a definite look and feel to it. I wrote more about this earlier last year so if you're interested, you could read that

It's a shame it's not been rereleased but if you like Castlevania, do not miss this.

Runner Up Game Of The Year Not of This Year, or really decade: Hagane
2D Ninja Action platformers like Ninja Gaiden or Strider or Shinobi are a favorite genre of mine. And while I did managed to finally get and Play Shinobi X/Shin Shinobi Den/ Shinobi Legions on Saturn (which was tons of goofy fun), I think Hagane might be a special kind of game. Aside from being just a genuinely well made game that controls well and with a fair difficulty level (aside from an autoscrolling stage), the art style by Keita Amemiya has that really cool “Kyoto in the far future” look, with classic Japanese mythical monsters, armor, costumes, and even architecture but with a futuristic look to them. That’s probably obvious from the amazing cover art, but I think the whole game does try to live up to that art style. Have yet to finish it though, but I plan to.

Game that is the reason I don’t have a lot of Games Of The Years in this post: Guilty Gear Xrd
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say I probably spent hundreds of hours playing Guilty Gear Xrd and about an an equal amount just watching matches of amazing Venom players. I’m actually surprised that I was able to get myself off of the game for a few weeks in order to finish MGSV (which is in itself a huge timesink). But well, Guilty Gear Xrd is just so much fun. It’s kind of the ideal fighting game sequel. For one, it is still one of the best looking games out there. It retains a lot of old characters, maintaining their general appearance but still giving some of them cool visual touch-ups and a new special or super move here and there. And there’s a bunch of new characters too (it already has as many new characters as ones introduced in the XX series whole, and we’re just heading towards the first major update). It cuts-down a few of the more unnecessarily complex mechanics (like Forced Roman Cancels, which were mostly an execution barrier) and goes for the current more versatile Yellow/Red/Purple Roman Cancels. I’m by no means an expert on Guilty Gear (especially the older games) but it seems Xrd's system emphasizes neutral gameplay a bit more than extremely long combos and offensive pressure (although Xrd still has longish combos and pressure, but they’re kinda not as long as say Blazblue). This tones down the need to memorize long combos and to learn how to block for long periods of time. I believe a player should’t lose just because they dropped a long combo or couldn’t react to insane Zato mix-up pressure for what seems like minutes at a time. Diverting the match away from that and more into periods where both players are in neutral with access to all their move-set is much more interesting. It’s still a stupidly complex game, something that doesn’t match my platonic ideal sort of simple fighting game (something like Virtua Fighter) but I think condensing Guilty Gear any further will make it not Guilty Gear anymore. I’m heavily looking forward to Revelator. And it seems Arc System Works has’t been as exploitative with updates for Xrd so far. An update every 1.5 years seems fair to me (even if it is full-priced. Although Revelator does have completely new stages and a new graphic look). I just hope they keep that and don’t get crazy trying to milk that franchise dry with more frequent full-price updates that add less and less.

Game that’s making me feel ok that we don’t have a Virtua Fighter 6 yet: Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round.

I always liked the DOA series. 4 was somewhat disappointing though. But after 4, and despite the long gap, I wasn’t really missing the series (probably because VF5 kept me busy). But when DOA5 came out, I thought it was great that they seem to have taken a more “serious fighting game” route (plus the VF guests were great). And 5 Last Round is another step towards that. Aside from having the same simple button scheme for VF (which made the VF guests feel right at home in their new game), I think the reason I like DOA ia that it allows players, even more novice ones, to reach the mind game level of competition much more quickly than other fighting games, which usually have obstacles like execution or memorization or match-up knowledge. It’s all thanks to the rock-paper-scissor mechanic spread between Hi/Mid/Lo attacks, holds, and throws. And it's presented very clearly which move beats which other moves. With this system, reads are a necessity to continue a combo during stun. No damaging combo is guaranteed, unless you instantly go for a launcher, which will not lead to much damage anyway. It’s really fun to get someone into a stun combo, get in their head and guess that they will do a hold move, and then throw them (which gives me a hi-Counter throw for extra damage). Also, as much as I love VF, it does tend to be a very surgical game. DOA definitely has more fun with itself, with intractable stages, stuff like slippery floors affecting low-attacks, even things like having no damage scaling at all in combos (which is kinda amazing for a new competitive fighting game to not have in 2015). I never really got deep into DOA before 2015, but I'm glad I did. It's a shame most FGC people seem to disregard the series as mere fanservice (the hubbub with DOAX3 probably isn't helping either), but it's a legit good 3D fighter. And maybe you haven't noticed but 3D fighting games are kind of a dying genre, especially compared to 2D fighters (which if you told me in 2001 or 2002 that in 15 years, there will be more 2D fighters than 3D ones, I would have called you crazy). If not dead, it's at least one in limbo right now, with Tekken still in "arcade-only" phase for now, SoulCalibur's status being a mystery (although there are rumors of an announcement for SC6 this year), and VF6 seeming like a thing that won't be happening anytime soon (if ever maybe). Here's hoping if Team Ninja is up for it, they could do a full-fledged DOA vs VF game next.

Didn't watch a lot of movies but I'm glad I got to watch Mad Max Fury Road close to its release, at the height of i's hype. I watched it a few days ago and it still is a revelation of an action movie. New Star Wars was fun too. Not a lot of anime either (but Jojo, One Punch Man, and Gatchaman Crowds Insight were great, the former two reminding me why I got into anime as a kid, and the latter one on why I kept watching anime as an adult) but I did get back to reading manga (still reading Naoki Urasawa stuff right now but hoping to start reading Junji Ito soon).

I still missed a few things. I do wanna play Bloodborne. I liked the 20 or so hours I played of the original Dark Souls and this more victorian take seems like the perfect 3D not-Castlevania adaptation we will ever get, especially with how Konami are nowadays. I wanna play Undertale too, partially because of the hype right now but I had a few friends recommend it to me.





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"EDF of the Year 2015" , posted Tue 5 Jan 05:36post reply

Earth Defense Force 4.1


At first I thought, "it's EDF4 and EDF4 is great, but I put all this time into EDF4 and I don't get to import my EDF4 data! Do I really want to play through EDF4 again?"

And it turns out the game is a huge improvement in a lot of ways. The smoother framerate is an obvious one, but all of the online communication options are available now in local play, there's a quick chatwheel that uses the touchpad on the DS4, you can ping the map location in your reticle by clicking the touchpad, there are many more AI helpers in the levels including vehicles, and there's new dialogue for ALL OF THEM. There are new weapons and new vehicles which open new ways of playing, there are quality of life improvements here and there, the new dynamic lighting makes underground missions more exciting while also changing how effective weapons are without any numerical changes (different weapons create different amounts of light, which is valuable in the dark), etc. etc.

The game is exactly EDF4 improved, as advertised. It isn't a radical new game or a radical new experience, but it's an improvement significant enough that even somebody who has played EDF4 for over a hundred hours (e.g. me) can fire up EDF4.1 and feel like I'm having a solidly better time. Some of the new moments are incredibly funny, in a perfectly EDF way.

The game also comes with expensive new DLC, bringing it inline with the modern generation of games. Fortunately, all of it is entirely safely ignorable!

There are some games, like MGS, that are about pushing and straining against the limits of all that there is with every release: the limits of art, technology, storytelling, sensibility, design, etc. There are some games that have a clear identity and a strong spirit but don't do that with every release, but their identity and sense of self is strong and earnest and devoid of cynicism in each release, and each release is a noticeable improvement over the last. EDF has a sense of humor that is distinctly EDF, where it is a gentle parody of many things, but never breaks the 4th wall in its parody and never becomes a caricature of itself. EDF delights in being EDF, and you can feel that delight in weapon descriptions that tell you what a piece of trash this weapon is and warn you against using it, to the game having a ready-made chat message category labelled "Mediate" that contains the line "Remember EDF pride!"

EDF isn't a chara-ge like Sengoku Basara, but it has an unwavering character unto itself. EDF is the Musou of shooting. EDF is the best.

EDF! EDF!





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"Re(1):EDF of the Year 2015" , posted Wed 6 Jan 01:27post reply

All the write-ups in this thread were brilliant but after reading through everything all I came away with is that I want to play more EDF.





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"Re(2):EDF of the Year 2015" , posted Wed 6 Jan 03:46post reply

quote:
All the write-ups in this thread were brilliant but after reading through everything all I came away with is that I want to play more EDF.



EDF!! EDF!!





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"Re(1):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 13 Jan 20:43post reply

I've been delaying doing this, but better late than never.

Non-game-but-game-related media - Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls
Technically this was released in 2014, but it ended in December and I saw it in early 2015, so I'm counting it - in this category Log Horizon would have won for 2014 I guess.
Anyway, I'm kind of amazed this got made. It's short, but it's clearly a labor of love filled with deep references to Sega lore and trivia, clearly was forced to promote some more recent Sega works like mobile stuff along the way, but still managed to find a way to bash those in favor of Sega classics and general silliness - not bad considering practically nobody else is voiced other than the 3 protagonists, embodiements of the Megadrive, Saturn and Dreamcast.
And that ending was really something, tear-inducing even, despite the tone of the whole series.

It was interesting to see that in a recent Dengeki Fighting Climax update they added a stage based on the show - between Akira, Selvaria and all the other Sega stages in that game, it looks like there's a Sega-only crossover fighter trying to get out, and I hope one day it succeeds.


Crossover achievements of the year - There's gameplay-inconsequent cameos, cross-promotional reskins that bring little new to the table, and then there's stuff that manages to bring characters and concepts from a given game to a completely different one in an entirely distinct genre while still making them feel like themselves, and succeed:

* Sm4sh Bros: As if Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man weren't enough, they brought in Ryu (fully functional with practically only 1 attack button, a controller button diet not even handheld adaptations of SF and its more typical crossovers dared), Cloud (the ability to manually charge the Limit bar is a bit odd, but makes up for it by the ability to screw himself by misusing the Up+special move) and Bayonetta (the tone of the character alone is a challenge to adapt, but they've made that, the aesthetics and gameplay all work). I really really wish this still had a story mode, could have been fun. Then again, there's...

* Project X Zone 2 - It exists, the localization was confirmed right off the bat, it now references Streets of Rage and has Segata Sanshiro, holy shit. That would have been more than enough, but it additionally got back on track to the original NxC's charm, integrating everyone's stories a whole lot more, refocusing on the Reiji/Xiaomu/Saya dynamics and bringing back some of the more interesting presences from past games like Sylphie. Plus Nintendo characters. The gameplay probably still needs tweaks (some auto-fight option that nets you less damage but makes fights quicker could work) and it would be nice to have NxC's Multiple Assaults back for even more crossover interactions, but the series is pretty much a visual novel at heart where the action sections are excuses for neat interactions and references to the original games, and I'm OK with that.

* Gouki in Tekken 7 - It's one thing to have a guest fighter, but it's something else entirely to make another company's character an official part of your series' canon, as if securing the rights and adapting an entirely different gameplay style wasn't already a challenge in itself.


Event of the year - Final Fantasy XI's Rhapsodies of Vana'diel
In an age where games rely on being online to be enjoyed at all, the incoming end of one is always a strange time - no emulator or preserved older hardware can preserve the experience to be enjoyed later. In a histories series like Final Fantasy we're used to sooner or later being able to enjoy ports of the older games in some form, especially as spin-off games like Dissidia help remind the public of older entries.
FFXI is the 1st online-only game of the series, and SE's focusing more on newer also-online XIV, whose director is also the person in charge of SE's MMO division. This spells bad news for XI, but for now it only meant its latest expansion would be the final one - it will last as long as people pay to play it, but no major efforts are to be expected to encourage that. Its end decreed not by a bang but a whimper decreed, it still set out to do something special for the occasion, and boy did it succeed for those who've enjoyed it.

However, I was kind of pissed off at SE at the time due to the whole High Score Girl mess with SNKP (it's an indirect issue, but it didn't feel right to keep giving money to the wealthier party at the time), so I'd cancelled my subscription for a while, and didn't take part in an initiative to have players sing for the song in the new story's finale - I let some friends of mine who'd played know about it though, and they took part in that.

Still, when the 1st part of Rhapsodies was announced and the perks that came with its corresponding update were revealed I caved in (a lot of it made it a lot easier to complete older content solo, and I could use the closure).

Early on the story and content weren't a big deal - the story involved visiting characters and locations from prior missions roughly in release order, and the "mission girl" for the story, Iroha, was supposed to be important because apparently she was our character's apprentice sent from the future to prevent an incoming threat. The companion comic was almost more interesting, since it poked some fun at how some important characters are present in the story even during major fights, but don't actually fight. Still, it did hint at some meta aspects of the eventual shutting down of the servers, as well as an island in a Far East not-Japan-but-pretty-damn-close continent often referenced but never visited in the game.
The 2nd part of the story released later in the year had more of the same, with a little reveal twist not too different from something past FFXI stories have done (the setting apparently has its own local multiverse - not unlike V and IX, I think? - and it played into that), and more visits to characters and places from more recent expansions (which in the process encouraged players to get that content done if they hadn't already).

The 3rd act, however, released in November at the same time as a matching FFXIV crossover event, was monumental for anyone who's been involved with the game long enough.


Spoiler (Highlight to view) -

After a glimpse into the motivations of past expansion antagonists we get to go to the previously mentioned Far East island, visit the characters and places t=from the remaining previous expansion, fight a Shinryu counterpart (Shinryu proper was already fought elsewhere before).
You use the relatively recent ability to summon NPCs as party members in a cutscene in ways currently impossible in-game in a hell of a "last stand" scene that doesn't quite bring Everyone together but comes damn close - that's probably one of the biggest gatherings of FF characters that most self-proclaimed fans of the series known nothing about.
You meet the setting's primary goddess while the Final Fantasy theme plays and she basically tells you about the game's situation in the FF multiverse. The diagnosis and remedy here is basically that as long as people have something to fight in FFXI the game lives on, really, but what a delivery... brings a tear to my eye even upon rewatching. It's also kind of interesting that later in this scene they used music from an earlier maligned expansion, A Crystalline Prophecy, which brought up some meta aspects although it did a poor job to bring closure to an early plot point seen in the game's opening sequence.
Then it makes you fight a counterpart of the final boss of FFXI's most respected story expansion, Chains of Promathia, in the same location (the Empyreal Paradox that served as the FFXI stage in Dissidia Duodecim), and after that proceeds with the usual end of mission/quest music and even the typical sequence where the mission girl for the expansion says her goodbyes and hopes to see you again.

But it's still not over, because neither is the threat in and out of the game, really.

It then has all the avatars from the game gather together to assist you by powering up yet another sometimes referenced but also so far unseen avatar, Phoenix, whose particular symbolism is somewhat dear to the circumstances at hand. The gathering of the avatars is also interesting since not only are they recurring elements of the FF series, there's at least one quest that involves getting quest items from the first 7 FF games from them, not to mention some their usual lines when you meet them elsewhere can be kinda meta too.
That in turn is followed up by another group effort of the game's cast (primarily the main mission companions from past expansions), in a more concentrated but also better coordinated and choreographed effort, which leads to a sequence where Phoenix is visible for the first (and only?) time in the game while magicking up the possibility of giving the game's problem a face you can punch - its name being Cloud of Darkness does tie neatly into some classic FF concepts too. It also makes Iroha the most useful NPC to ever fight alongside players in the game, since not only is her damage good and she can take care of herself, she she can also keep fighting even if all the players are KOed, and she can raise them to enable the fight to continue - the Phoenix bit actually backs up its symbolism here.
But that's not the only way in which the final battle is interesting - given the game's circumstances, the battle music is not bombastically dramatic, but quietly wistful like a prolonged goodbye, and the arena itself reinforces what is it you're trying to preserve by projecting scenes and landscapes from the game on its walls.
And when that's done the ending just messes with your feelings: parting words, thinly-veiled thanks from the devs from a character's lips, encouragement to stick around, and a song that gradually adds players' voices to the choir until that's all it consists of, while the staff rolls for the first time in-game, along with shots of the new not-Japan zone and some illustrations that even give something resembling closure to a few secondary plot points in the game. It still makes me tear up...


End of Spoiler



And this effort could have been restricted to FFXI, but at the same time they had a related event in XIV where the same mission NPC ends up there with memory issues she's working through (mostly through fights, but one of her battle lines there actually seems to reference the player choir in the FFXI ending), until she succeeds in remembering XI's history and characters, which makes for quite the nostalgic montage (it manages to reference even more characters than some of XI's own Rhapsodies scenes).
And then they pretty much cement their hope that XI players move to XIV by not letting her go back to her own world.


I'm sure a lot of MMOs have ended over the years and prepared for it in special ways, but considering the series context FFXI is part of, they needed to handle it in a special way, and IMO they certainly succeeded.
I still retain some hope that the fact that the game's full name is actually Final Fantasy XI Online means that one day there'll be an offline version that can preserve its charm and all the things it did right in world building - there's a mobile version, FFXI Grandmasters, I think, but it's not quite the same thing...

Sorry about the rambling, I could write about all this in even greater detail for ages...





...!!

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"Re(2):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Tue 26 Jan 22:31post reply

Nice write-up about FF11! Although I can only relate to the videos based on the characters, locations and music I recognize from TRHTHRM.

As a FF11 fan, what do you think of the choice of characters representing the game in THRTHTRM?
Shantotto / Prishe / Lilisette / Aphmau

Besides Shantotto which is popular enough for me to have known about her (and known she got an expansion named after her), were the other three characters chosen according to their popularity/prominence in special events that were contemporary to the release of TRHTRHTRHM? Or did some of the characters rather target nostalgic/former FF11 players specifically? Was there a bias towards female NPC in the game somehow? (I note that even that dimension-travelling NPC is a girl.)

Would you have preferred/though more logical to see another NPC in the game?

I am a bit curious how choices were made for this game considering the number of characters you meet. I get their choice for FF14 as I have played that game and that character is prominent in the main story.





Même Narumi est épatée !

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"Re(3):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 03:40post reply

quote:
Nice write-up about FF11! Although I can only relate to the videos based on the characters, locations and music I recognize from TRHTHRM.

As a FF11 fan, what do you think of the choice of characters representing the game in THRTHTRM?
Shantotto / Prishe / Lilisette / Aphmau



Shantotto and Prishe make a lot of sense both for people who know FFXI and those who only know Dissidia (Duodecim), but for different reasons - the prior Dissidia presence helps, but the character have very different roles.

For the most part, at least in her early days in the game, Shantotto's lore role is as usually described: a retired minister and professor with a lot of talent and disregard for the well-being of others, but it's perfectly possible to do a lot in the game without barely meeting her.
She was associated with a few optional quests (usually involving the poor journalist outside her house whom she afflicted with a curse, just because), the Windurst mission line (optional if you're not associated with that city, although nowadays you can do all the city missions; she trained another character, Ajido-Marujido, who's more involved with the events of that story and whose outfit she can actually get in Duodecim, the one with the glasses) and the black mage quests (the hat associated with the job that players can get was hers - apparently it was dirty).
Then her role got slightly expanded over time, although it's hard to say if due to dev or player preference - she got to appear in one of my favorite scenes in Chains of Promathia (IMO), and got an even greater role in Treasures of Aht Urghan, where for several missions she pretends to be an ambassador to spy on another nation's technology, and this escalation of relevance eventually raised her visibility and popularity to the point she got her own expansions and Dissidia gig - I wish I could find the interview where FFXI devs said they asked for her to be made impossible to beat (that actually happens in a way - if her character loses, it turns into a doll, implying it was never really her).
Another thing that makes Shantotto a good representative is that in a way she kind of embodies the merciless game FFXI used to be - very good at what it does, but with a major disregard and well-being of others. curiously, with the release of FFXI's final expansion, a new player-summonable NPC version of her became available which is actually a new model not present elsewhere in the game - which not only looks more boss-like terrifying between the floating and glowing red eyes, but also has 6 elemental orbs floating around her at all times - just about every aspect of FFXI's world, from player stats, to weather, spells, abilities, crafting, mob types, you name it, is associated with an element. I tend to playfully mention that she embodies FFXI and might as well be the final boss of the FF multiverse, but with that new version I wonder to which extent the devs think so too - and I certainly wonder if they have plans to have us fight that version of the character by the time the game draws closer to its actual end and a world-end-scale "bye bitches!" feels totally in character for her (since she's already been to Dissidia, FFXIV and DQX and can probably move elsewhere).

Prishe's relevance is more direct, as she's what the devs actually call a "mission girl" - since player characters in XI don't actually get to talk, the stories often involves different characters asking questions and making observations in your stead, as well as usually having their own story arcs along the way. Curiosly for the initial nation missions the primary ones tend to be guys (Trion for San d'Oria, Volker for Bastok and Ajido-Marujido for Windurst), but for the mission lines beyond tend that role tends to go to a girl (Lion for Rise of the Zilart although she first appears in the nation missions, Prishe for Chains of Promathia, Aphmau for Treasures of Aht Urghan, Lilisette for Wings of the Goddess, Arciela for Seekers of Adoulin and Iroha for Rhapsodies of Vana'diel).
There are some rough patterns to how "mission girl" roles tend to play out, like them knowing more or simply being more involved with mission story events, moments of mortal peril, and not-quite-flirting parting moments at the end of the missions where they say they hope to see you again (which is unlikely since they mostly stick to cutscenes and mission battles) - perhaps because this might be seen as targeting guys (or those who prefer women), when they finally added a male mithra (FFXI's cat people, of which only female models exist in the game with that one exception), they may have overcompensated by having the guy talk about first kisses and giving you roses regardless of your gender.
While Lion precedes Prishe, she was a bit flat as a character and mostly provided exposition on the game's initial stories, while Prishe is front and center of a lot of events in her expansion, was the first "mission girls" to actually join players in a story boss fight (I think the "mission guys" from the nation missions did that before her though, but back then it was harder for everyone to actually manage to get those fights done, let alone for all missions, so individually they were not as common a part of the player experience) and in general her personality stands out more in an almost abrasive swear-like-a-PG-rated-sailor kind of way.

Since Aphmau and Lilisette are also "mission girls", they're a natural choice, although frankly Aphmau is a lot more helpless on her own as far as actual combat goes (she's a puppetmaster). Lilisette is an interesting case, as she's the one character of mixed descent shown in the game (hume mother and elvaan dad) and IIRC actually joins a couple of mission battles.


Curiously, FFXI's presence in Lord of Vermilion II consisted only of villains: Shadowlord, the Zilart brothers, and one of the Ark Angels - there have been more interesting villains since their days, like Lady Lillth from Wings of the Goddess, but she's a bit easy to compare to Ultimecia, although a more developed character at it.

quote:

Besides Shantotto which is popular enough for me to have known about her (and known she got an expansion named after her), were the other three characters chosen according to their popularity/prominence in special events that were contemporary to the release of TRHTRHTRHM?

Or did some of the characters rather target nostalgic/former FF11 players specifically? Was there a bias towards female NPC in the game somehow? (I note that even that dimension-travelling NPC is a girl.)



I kinda ended up covering this above, but it's not really a matter of being contemporary - FFXI has lots of characters, several of them quite interesting in their own right, but filtering FFXI's cast to a setting that lacks its context and allows representation through less than a handful of characters is a brutal process. They end up having to narrow things down to character most FFXI players have met, and if the game involves combat, like Dissidia, that filters things further (so while Naja Salaheem in ToAU is pretty amusing and central to story progression, a greedy, brutal but supersticious president of a mercenary company who's not above bashing her employees' faces with a morningstar has a limited role in more multiversal events).

quote:

Would you have preferred/though more logical to see another NPC in the game?



There could have been a few other characters that would make sense in something like Dissidia and Theathrythm back when those games were released, like Maat, whom everyone must meet in order to be able to raise their level cap at a few points in the game (that includes fighting him on pre-ToAU jobs - trying to work all his possible skills into a Dissidia movelist would make Bartz look pretty simple...), or Zeid, who shows up on the common branch of every nation mission line and Zilart, if to a smaller extent than Lion, and is also heavily involved in most things related to the dark knight job, giving him a stronger combat identity. Well, and then there's Atori-Tutori, who's basically Maat's asshole master and melee counterpart to Shantotto, but you see a lot less of him as a whole.


Were a new FF crossover game to be released, Iroha would have to make it, as the game pretty much states that by the end of Vana'diel, she and her island are all that's left, and between that and being the apprentice to the player character, she's kind of the living legacy of that world when nothing else remains of it.

Also, it would be pretty amusing to have Iroha finding something familiar about Warrior of Light like in XIV, having particular animosity toward Cloud of Darkness, and having an inherent inexplicable dislike for any XIV characters...

quote:

I am a bit curious how choices were made for this game considering the number of characters you meet. I get their choice for FF14 as I have played that game and that character is prominent in the main story.



Y'shtola also appeared before in Lord of Vermillion II as the XIV rep, along with a spriggan from her game - curiously, spriggans were the only elements from XIV that made it to XI in past crossover events (are they intentionally sending XIV's pests to XI to drive the point further on which game's getting deprecated in the other's favor?...)


Sometimes I wonder if I should write som articles or make some videos about these kind of XI elements and design decisions, since there's so much to the topic that I rarely see covered - on some level I think I should put that focus into SNK stuff, but maybe FFXI could be good practice...





...!!

chazumaru
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"Re(4):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 09:32post reply

Thanks for taking the time to explain! I'll share your bit of insight with a FF11 friend of mine.

I was very busy with a lot of work-related and apartment-related stuff in the past few weeks so I could not really join the Rodeo Roundup but the most memorable game of my 2015 was Her Story. There was also a special place for Girls Mode 3, Forza Horizon 2 (actually from 2014) and Monster Hunter 4U/X in my playtime.





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"Re(5):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 10:47post reply

quote:
Thanks for taking the time to explain! I'll share your bit of insight with a FF11 friend of mine.

I was very busy with a lot of work-related and apartment-related stuff in the past few weeks so I could not really join the Rodeo Roundup but the most memorable game of my 2015 was Her Story. There was also a special place for Girls Mode 3, Forza Horizon 2 (actually from 2014) and Monster Hunter 4U/X in my playtime.

Nice try, Chaz, but Sensei still knows you skipped your Game of the Year homework despite producing 優 level work previously. Are you ready for detention?

Loona's description of FFXI is a thing of beauty. Final Oiyoiyo XII's offline online RPG was more than enough for me, but I get the impression that XI and XIV are truly doing great things for the MMORPG genre.





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"Re(6):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 20:09post reply

That was an amazing write-up, thanks!
quote:
I get the impression that XI and XIV are truly doing great things for the MMORPG genre.

Since I never could get into MMO, another thing I would be curious to know about would be the opinion on FF11/14 from players of others MMO.
What makes them different? I guess WoW is much more simple, and if you have started one you only have time for one MMO in your life, but there has to be deeper reason and game design philosophies at work that people like me cannot see?





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"Re(7):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 21:43post reply

quote:
That was an amazing write-up, thanks!
I get the impression that XI and XIV are truly doing great things for the MMORPG genre.
Since I never could get into MMO, another thing I would be curious to know about would be the opinion on FF11/14 from players of others MMO.
What makes them different? I guess WoW is much more simple, and if you have started one you only have time for one MMO in your life, but there has to be deeper reason and game design philosophies at work that people like me cannot see?



As Loona has beautifully pointed out (thanks for the amazing writeup!) the appeal of FFXI is its great setting and story. Most MMOs are about gameplay, the story is secondary. There have been many times where WoW story events have contradicted one another because they simply don't bother to keep their decades of lore consistent. It's not a priority.

Vana'diel is actually one of the most interesting settings out there. And I mean comparing it to books, not just video games. The world has a palpable sense of culture to it. It doesn't feel like it's just hitting standard fantasy tropes, or worse, shoehorning real life cultural stereotypes into fantasy races. Each faction actually feels distinct and interesting and has a nuanced believable history with its neighbors.

FFXI is immersive. It feels like you're exploring another world, more like a paper and pencil RPG while other MMOs feel like you're playing a regular video game with your friends (which is not a bad thing).

I would LOVE to have an offline version of FFXI cos despite my love for its amazing art direction and storytelling, I just can't stand MMO gameplay.

It's also worth noting that FFXI is 2.5 years older than WoW! I had forgotten that fact after all these years (and I imported the game too!)






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"Re(7):2015 Rodeo Roundup" , posted Wed 27 Jan 22:50:post reply

quote:
That was an amazing write-up, thanks!
I get the impression that XI and XIV are truly doing great things for the MMORPG genre.
Since I never could get into MMO, another thing I would be curious to know about would be the opinion on FF11/14 from players of others MMO.
What makes them different? I guess WoW is much more simple, and if you have started one you only have time for one MMO in your life, but there has to be deeper reason and game design philosophies at work that people like me cannot see?



Other than the FFs, the only other MMOs I've ever dabbled in were Star Wars The Old Republic (some friends who're really into Bioware stuff were getting into that from the beginning, so I gave it a try too; a post-WoW game) and EVE Online (mostly for the idea of it, but I never really got too involved; pre-WoW), so my perspective is likely to be limited, but there may still be some benefit in using WoW as an important point in the genre's history, not unlike with SF2 and fighting games, only with the accessibility factor reversed over time.

One impression that settles over time with FFXI is how it apparently tries to be a living world 1st and a game 2nd, something neatly covered in articles like this one originally posted on Massively (which covered only MMOs while it existed - I also like this and this from the same author and site).
After my experience with FFXI, SWTOR was pretty weird how quest objectives were so damn close to quest givers most of the time, occasionally working as breadcrumbs toward progression to different areas you were unlikely to return to - FFXIV also has a bit of that, but then again, post-WoW game.
I also don't know about other MMOs, but there are quite a few things in it that were included in the game's earlier areas that paid off the most as elements of the lore and gameplay in later expansions, like the crags, monumental structures that dominate the landscape of areas close to the starter cities, present in the initial release, but which played a major part by the 2nd expansion as entry points to new mission-relevant areas - those structures, in turn, are connected through a series of gigantic pipe-like structures visible in several areas from the original release (notably Drogaroga's Spine in Meriphataud Mountains, which arches over a considerable portion of the sky there), and consistently guarded by a specific type of creature, which ends of reflecting on something you see expanded on in an endgame area of the 1st expansion. That area, in turn, is accessed through an area that is functionally a corridor, but notably contains giant statues of the setting's primary deities - although if you don't look around you might miss one of them, Promathia - in chains, while a winged Altana is clearly visible when you take the expected linear path upon first entering it - with neatly reflects on later expansions and their topics, Chains of Promathia and Wings of the Goddess.

One of the elements that seems to stand out the most in mentions of the online FFs outside their own context is their handling of character classes/jobs, since you can play all of them on a single character, instead of being bound to a single choice made at the start - which is nice, since several job-specific quests, at least in XI, give additional insight on the broader setting along the way.

FFXIV before and after ARR might as well be 2 different games, but even if 1.0 was so poorly received that they gave it a Dalamud-into-Bahamut combo, it still had some pretty neat ideas - namely, crafting was assigned to distinct classes and you could progress through the main story as those, with combat being replaced with a mini-game meant to simulate a discussion, Parley - sadly, that idea did not survive ARR, which made story progress only possible through combat classes. I liked how changing class was as simple as changing your weapon, something that remained.
Also notable about XIV, some of its characters are about as foul-mouthed as SE can get away with - I have fond memories of a 1.0 NPC asking if another wealthy NPC (Lolorito, I think) could shit money, and a double entendre and the blacksmiths guild where a cat lady holding some metal on the forge while a big guy hit that with a hammer bragged about being the only able to take his pounding. The current game still retains its occasional mentions of "shite" and whatnot, which feels refreshing for a FF, yet fitting when at least one of the cities is filled with pirates with little use for manners.





...!!

[this message was edited by Loona on Wed 27 Jan 22:58]