Postponed: Final Fantasy 7 Month

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I was hoping to dedicate this entire month to daily Final Fantasy 7 posts, but I’ve been having some technical difficulties that I won’t bother readers with. If anyone was looking forward to this besides me, oops, sorry 🙂

I’ll try to get around to doing this eventually, but now just isn’t a very good time. If anyone else has ever posted anything relevant to Final Fantasy 7, please comment below (and post a link). It might help cure my disappointment from not getting to post my own articles!

Gaming Progress: TOO MANY GAMES!!!

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Oh hell, for the sake of trying to actually play the games I own I’ve been trying to stay focused. That focus has become lax sense the holidays, and now I’m looking at a potential gaming meltdown. I have to scale it back a little, or else the games will consume me.

Most of you probably don’t have this problem, but maybe a few of you do: You play a game, it’s good, and you know you want to keep playing it. You see another game that looks good, and you try it out too. It’s cool, so you start playing it when you’re not playing the other one. One after the next, you see a few potentially great games (or just mildly interesting, but time-consuming), and you start adding them to the rotation. Suddenly, you can’t stand to look at any of them because you’ve been overloaded with games but haven’t played any of them recently enough to feel the need to play. This is where I’m at right now.

It started out simple enough. I was playing Grand Theft Auto IV while everyone else slept. I was playing Kingdom Hearts with my daughter on the days I didn’t have to work. I was playing Final Fantasy: My Life as King when I wanted to play a game while a was little on the tipsy side (blurry intoxication). Three games, that’s wasn’t too hard to manage…

…Then somewhere along the way I decided to check out Phantasy Star since I’d basically bought Sonic’s Ultimate Collection for the 360 based on the great things I’d heard about the series. It was everything I was hoping it would be, a simple, old-school RPG that was easy to pass the time playing (possibly intoxicated!). Then I thought I might want a good portable game for when I might be up all night with my third shift sleep routine while I was at my parents’ house for the holidays, so I started playing Chrono Trigger on my DS to see if I would like it. I do. After getting Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga for Christmas, me and my daughter have been digging into it almost every day, even on days when I work.

Six games. That’s probably not a lot to handle for most of you, but it gets hairy for me. I’m still pretty committed to GTA IV. I think I was over 40% when I last played, but that was a few weeks ago and I’m staring to lose the ambition I once had. The other game I need to revisit soon is Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Donald, and Goofy were last seen fighting the heartless in Halloween Town, and that was pretty close to the actual real-life holiday of Halloween. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. It has the disadvantage of being the only game I’m currently playing (kinda) that I have to get behind the TV to change cords around for (I’m lazy).

Needless to say, I’m going to have to re-focus, or else I’ll lose interest. I don’t want to lose interest while my gaming goal has been going so well. NO MORE new additions to the gaming cycle at the moment, and I’ll have to make it a point to play ALL the games at least more than once a month. This is way too much work! First world problems.

A Very Final Fantasy (and Star Wars) Christmas!

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Welcome back to my channel, blog, whatever this is! Happy New Year! I assume that most of you have sobered up by now, and those of you who haven’t probably never will, so I’m just going to jump right back into this shit…

I asked, and I received. My Christmas gifts included Final Fantasy Origins (1&2), Final Fantasy Chronicles (5+6), Final Fantasy 9, and Final Fantasy 12. The only Final Fantasy game that I’d still like to add to my collection (which doesn’t include the “sequels,” spin-offs or MMOs) is Final Fantasy 8, but I’m sure I have plenty to keep me busy for a long, LONG time!

Lego Star Wars and Lego Lord of the Rings were another couple of games I asked for and got. I wanted something new to enjoy playing with my daughter, and wanted it to be more appropriate for her age (almost 5). We’ve started playing the Lego Star Wars game, because you know, STAR WARS, EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS is AWESOME! With no conscious influence from either me or my wife, my daughter has decided that she is a huge Star Wars fan, and her favorite characters are RD-D2, BB-8, and Yoda. Of course.

I have to say that I am extremely thankful for the time I spent with my family, both here at home and out of state. I had a great holiday season, and now I have a bunch of new games, books, and hot sauces to enjoy! I honestly believe that I could restrict my entertainment budget to zero dollars a year and still have plenty of things to enjoy. Hard to beat watching the new Star Wars movie with my dad and brother, though. And that movie, damn! Admittedly, even though I’ve always liked the movies I wasn’t a HUGE Star Wars nerd, but now I am! I want to know everything there is to know about that universe! Send me books! Send me comics! Send it all!

Ehem, back to video games… I haven’t officially started a Final Fantasy goal, but I’m slowly making my way toward finishing all of the games in the main series. By the way, as I took a break before the holidays I hinted at doing something special related to RPGs, nostalgia, and basically my favorite game of all time. In case you didn’t know, that game is Final Fantasy 7. If that’s not your bag of bricks then you might want to ignore this channel for the entire month of February, because I’m declaring that as Final Fantasy 7 Month at the Gaming Backlog! Every day throughout the 29 days of February (Leap Year!) I’ll have at least one Final Fantasy 7-related post about my personal experiences and commentary. It’s going to be like one big Final Fantasy 7 party! It’s BYOB, and we’ll be looking at words instead of dancing. I hope to see you there!

OH, by the way, Final Fantasy 7 Month is also a celebration of my 100th post, which will be posted on the very first day of February!

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This is going to be my last blog post of the year. I plan on cutting back on gaming while the holidays are here since I’ll be a little more busy, but I’ll start posting again sometime in January. Then we can catch up on gaming news and my backlog gaming progress. Until then, let’s recap some stuff!

Currently, I’m playing:

Grand Theft Auto IV
Kingdom Hearts
Final Fantasy, Chrystal Chronicles: My Life as King

I mentioned in last week’s post, about how my goal might eventually begin to affect my daughter. She loves Nintendo, and I’d hate for her to have to miss out on games like Mario Party 10 just because Daddy hasn’t finished his goal yet. Right now it’s not a big deal, but she HAS expressed an interest in using her Amiibos. I don’t think she understands what “using” her amiibos means, because I haven’t been able to explain it properly (because I don’t quite understand them, either), but she knows that we need a new Nintendo to do it. (Seriously, why are those things fun??)

This year, I finished 11 games. At this rate, I won’t even be buying an eighth generation console by the time I reach my goal, because the NINTH generation will probably be on sale. Slow? Yes. Having fun, and actually finishing some of my older games? Yes to that, too. Still thinking about ignoring my goal and doing whatever the **** I wanna do? Yes.

The best game I played this year would have to be Grand Theft Auto V. There are so many things that the game did right that the only complaint anyone could really bring up was the adult themes (in a GTA game? No effing way!).

The worst game… sorry Disney, but Epic Mickey sucked. If I didn’t have a four-year old daughter I would have tossed the sequel right out the window, but I DO have a daughter and she would toss ME out the window if I ever tried it. I think that there are certain things that become more obvious when people become parents, and one of those things is the blatant way corporation use their mascots to make parents buy ANYTHING for their kids. When I finally beat Epic Mickey I was so happy that I thought about declaring an annual household holiday. My daughter, though, broke down in tears because she wanted to keep playing “the Mickey game” with her Daddy. She talked me into playing the very next day (but to my relief, we didn’t have to accomplish anything, so jump blindly into that poorly angled swamp, Mickey, because I do not care where you land anymore!!)

Have a wonderful holiday season!
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or happy Whatever Holiday You Celebrate!
The Gaming Backlog Journal will talk to you next year!

P.S. I’m thinking about doing something special during the cold and dreary month of February, 2016, so RPG fans should check back around that time if they’re feeling cold, nostalgic, and/or desiring a familiar game series to read about. More specifically, I’ll be writing about a game that I enjoy so much that it’s the only game I’m finishing a second time as a part of my goal. See ya soon!

Should My Gaming Goal Affect My Daughter?

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Before I begin, let me just say that the adorable little kid in the picture is NOT my daughter. She looks a lot like my daughter, though.

When I first started my goal (finish 50 games from older devices before getting an eighth generation console), I was the only person in my house with an interest in video games. Now that my daughter is a little older (almost 5), she’s started to play. That leaves me with a pretty unique dilemma: Should I let MY goal effect my daughter?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from my goal, like delayed gratification, appreciating what you have, not being wasteful, don’t neglect your older stuff, and so on. However, with the eighth generation of consoles are growing older all the time, I’m starting to think about how long it’s actually going to take me to finish 50 games.

So far, I’ve only finished 11 games as part of my goal! My daughter has her favorite games, like Super Mario 64 (also one of MY favorites), Red Dead Redemption (she loves horses, and the Barbie horse video game we bought her is horrible, so yes, she still gets to play a rated-M game, although audio is off to prevent swearing), and the Disney Princess game, but how long until she starts to ask, “why can’t we get the new Nintendo, so we can play those new games?”

I’m pretty sure I can see where this is leading: Christmas of 2016, Daddy gives in, and buys a Nintendo Wii U, despite only finishing 20 games on old devices. Really, though, nobody is giving me a hard time over this except for ME! This only matter to ME, and to be honest, it’s mattering less and less all the time. The more I learn to appreciate what I have, the less concerned I am with having a new console in my house. I think the point I’m trying to make to myself is, “you still have great games to play!”

And that’s true. Having a goal in place has encouraged me to play games I might not have tried if I was still using my old throw-away mentality. I bought Telltale’s The Walking Dead game, learned to love choice-driven adventure games, and bought the second season of The Walking Dead and Life is Strange as a result of that first decision. I took another shot at playing sandbox games, starting with Red Dead Redemption. I love it, and that choice led to buying and playing more sandbox games, usually at slashed prices because of their age (old games = bargains).

While I’d like my daughter to appreciate the most important lessons I’m learning from my goal, I have to keep in mind that she’s learning entirely different things. She’s trying out new things, trying to figure out who she is as a person, and trying to fit in with kids her own age. Not only that, but I WANT to be able to get her fun things if I can, as long as she’s also learning that people don’t always HAVE to get the newest gadgets to be happy. Hell, they don’t have to have ANY gadgets! I have a shelf full of books that I still read, and most of them only set me back about $2-3. We have old VHS tapes, tech that’s over a decade out-of-date, but we can still enjoy them.

Another problem I have with waiting to by the consoles I want is that I’ll only be able to buy refurbished stuff by the time I’ve completed my goal. Acquiring someone else’s old tech isn’t exactly a great reward for delaying my gratification. That thought has got me thinking about grabbing a Wii U while I still can, and while they still have a Mario Maker bundle, something else that’s only going to be around for a limited time.

So, I dunno… maybe it’s time to drop the goal and just do what I think makes sense. If anything, I could still keep my goal of completing older games, especially the games I already own. That was the biggest issue when I started. I had a bunch of old game sitting around, and I wasn’t playing any of them. I’d see something new, and I had to have it so I bought it. I would play for a few days and then I’d get tired of the game and stop playing. I’ve basically stopped doing that. Now, I only choose a few games to play at a time, play often enough to remember what I was doing, and I don’t buy anything new unless I see an exceptionally great deal. I’ve stopped being wasteful. Not only that, I’ve become excited to play all of those games I never thought I’d get around to.

Even though I’m pretty sure most of you would tell me just to do what I want, I wonder if any of you have a unique outlook about the goal I’ve set for myself, how important it may or may NOT be, and if any of you have ever found yourself in a situation similar to mine, where you were constantly finding logical reasons to call off a goal that felt much more important when you first started. Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading! Check back one week from now, because I’m going to write and schedule my END OF YEAR REVIEW…. YAY! CHEERS! Talk to you then!

DONE with Fallout Shelter. Not Finished, just DONE!

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It’s gone again. My saved game has been deleted.

The first time I ruined my game it was because I got so caught up on taking care of my shelter that I felt the need to call my wife and ask her to do things for me when I forgot. She’d taken the tablet to her mom’s house while I still had dwellers exploring the wasteland, so I asked her to bring them back to the vault. During the very short time I took trying to explain how, my vault was attacked mercilessly and by the time I was able to see how bad things were, everyone was starving, radiated, and/or dead.

The second time isn’t nearly as interesting as the first time. Nope, the second time my file was deleted was because the tablet wag lagging, and we cleared the cache to see if that would help. I think the table DID run smoother, but my saved game was gone, so screw it! I’m done!

There will be no third attempt for me. I don’t care if the game just got updated again. I get the gist of the game already, and it’s swell. Level people up, send people out for gear. When you feel safe enough, have some baby dwellers. Level them up, and give them gear. Repeat until you have as many dwellers as you want, and then you’re done with the game. Personally, I had about 55 dwellers. I was holding off before adding any more while I maxed everyone’s level, because deathclaws start showing up after vaults have 60+ dwellers.

I don’t regret playing Fallout Shelter, and it’s actually a really great game for anyone who enjoys management games. I’d recommend it to anyone who has plenty of free time to play on a dependable device, but I neither have time nor the device. Not only that, but it seems like it’s the kind of game that people aren’t supposed to finish. You were just supposed to hang onto it long enough until Fallout 4 came out. And now that Fallout 4 is actually out, I have even less reason to care about restarting Fallout Shelter again.

So that’s it for me. I failed at Fallout Shelter, but that’s fine. I played long enough to see what it was about, and I’m happy with that. But now that I’m calling it quits, I’d like to know if anyone else is still playing, especially now that Fallout 4 is out. If you are, is it unsatisfying to know that the game will never have a “You Win!” situation? If you’re okay with that, when will you finally say “I’m done,” and stop playing?

And since it’s the latest thing saturating YouTube, how is everyone enjoying Fallout 4? That’s one of the games that I won’t be able to play for a while, but it looks like it delivered what fans were looking for.

My Backlog: The Top 10 out of the First 10 (Part Two)

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This is the continuation of my top 10 list from last week, in which I reveal the top 5 games that I’ve finished from my backlog. Starting with…

5: L.A. Noire

The Good

I have some mixed opinions about this game, but the experience of getting to play a sandbox game set in the 1940s, is good enough to keep it in the top five of this list. Historic Los Angeles was recreated to near perfection (at least, they say it was) in L.A. Noire. The game combines noire elements from the movies of that decade with detective gameplay mechanics, and brilliant scenes that use the best motion capture technology I’ve ever saw in any video game, ever. The characters in this game are ACTORS in every regard. Their body movements, their facial movements, and their voices were all used to make this epic crime thriller (check out some YouTube videos, if you haven’t already seen them). The music, and radio banter stay true to that time period, as do the racial stereotypes, and realistic depictions of life in the 40s. The interiors of the houses, the crime scenes, and the clues look amazing. The developers paid a lot of attention to detail, and it paid off. By the way, the cars are AWESOME! Some people didn’t like them, because their handling sucked, but here’s the reason: It was the 40s, duh. The cares felt heavy and metallic, just like I thought they should. In my opinion, the cars were the most solid and realistic part of the game, even if they weren’t spot-on to the originals.

The Bad

I did mention having mixed opinions. The character control could have been a lot better. If Cole takes long strides during the cut scenes, why does he have to move like he’s on a Sunday stroll when I’m the one moving him? If he’s athletic enough to jump fences, climb ladders to the rooftops, and run faster than every single criminal he has to chase, why does it have to take several seconds for him to respond to the “run” command? If I’m going to be playing a character for the duration of the game, I’d like it to be fun. Onto the clues… Finding clues would have been more fun with a character that didn’t move like a pile of crap being pushed down a sidewalk with a feather duster. And who wants to lollygag around a crime scene, looking for all the clues with a sluggish main character, when the clues could be all over the place? Not to mention, I don’t want to spend all my time staring at the ground in a back alley when recreated L.A. is there to explore. Maybe a detective game isn’t for me, or maybe I have a point about staring at the ground. A big pet peeve of mine is the vagueness in video games about when simulation ends and game restrictions begins. When I first started to play, I didn’t realize I could cross the street to find a knife in the back alley. That begged the question, just how far am I supposed to Sunday-stroll down this street, anyway? I mile or two? Sometimes, I like some limitations in a game, just to keep me from wasting all damn night waiting for the controller to vibrate and let me know there’s something interactive nearby (just like a real detective!). The story wasn’t very interesting, the main character was boring, the ending was abrupt and anticlimactic, the sacrifice could have been done in a much more effective way.

4: Super Mario Galaxy

The Good

Oh hell yea, a Mario game! Do I really need to explain this? Mario is awesome, and he’s a really good jumper. He can do kicks off walls, long-jump, and he somehow manages to do a ground pound. Have you ever thought of that maneuver? It defies gravity, really. He does a little flip, pauses in midair for a millisecond, and shoots his self downward using some unknown propellant. Anyway, I digress, this specific Mario game is ALL ABOUT the gravity and outer space. I would have to guess that gravity and outer space belong on their own top ten list of my all-time favorite things, but they work wonderfully as major players in Super Mario Galaxy. Like other Mario games of the past, this one took everything conventional, and turned it upside-down. Yea, literally. With colorful new levels, interesting new game mechanics, a new addition to the Mario family named Rosalina, some new suits with unique abilities, there was almost no way this game could fail.

The Bad

I sure am fucking dizzy. The new 3D environments that twist and turn in circles around the small planets Mario has to explore can cause huge headaches if you’re not used to them. When I first started playing, I constantly found myself holding my head at an angle just to prevent disorientation. I didn’t mean to, and it didn’t work, but that’s what I did. From a top-of-Mario’s-head perspective, jumping on enemies can become frustrating. If it wasn’t for the new spin attack to keep baddies away from me, I probably would have rage quit several times. That’s hardly a gripe, though, because they did add a spin attack.

3: The Walking Dead, Season One

The Good

The characters in this game are so much more appealing than those in the sequel. The two best characters from season two are the two survivors from season one (Amid and Christa DO NOT count). Clementine is likable enough on her own in season two, but in season one, Lee is the main character. He’s one of the best characters in any game, but especially in The Walking Dead games. When we first meet him, he’s in the back of a cop car, but he turns out to be a swell guy who desperately wants to keep Clementine safe from the horrible zombie apocalypse. The other characters are cool, too, especially Lee’s friend, Kenny. The puzzles are challenging, without being too hard. I’m basing that opinion on my own level of puzzle solving proficiency, which is very limited. I found myself stuck at certain points in the game, but that made figuring out the missing piece of the puzzle that much more rewarding.

The Bad

When the puzzles weren’t going well, it was hard to stay motivated. Just like in point-and-click adventures from the past, if you’re stuck, you’re STUCK. Until you find the missing piece of the puzzle, you just have to keep walking around, trying to interact with stuff. It’s a minor gripe. Another, slightly larger gripe, has to do with the illusion of choice. I say “illusion,” because when all is said and done, the story is still written, and it’s going to be told the way the writers want it told. There are some changes in dialogue, depending on the choices you make, and maybe some people aren’t going to help you out when you want them too, but the story is still there. Within the minor elements of the game that you can actually change, sometimes the character’s act in ways that don’t seem consistent with what you would expect. That’s because they writer’s had to try to predict choices, and some choices were favored by the overall story more than others. It’s a complication that I’ve discussed in previous posts, and I understand how hard it must be to create branching story-lines, but it can be jarring when you expect something, but get something extremely different. Here’s an example: I was Kenny’s friend through MOST of the game, even going as far as being the one to put his son out of misery, when Kenny couldn’t do it, himself. When it came time to help Clementine, a little girl who was friends with Kenny’s own son, that sorry SOB wouldn’t help me! He said I had been selfish, and hadn’t helped him. WTF, KENNY?!

2: Red Dead Redemption

The Good

What a great game! This one blew me away. The main character is an outlaw living in the wild west at the turn of the century. He’s trying to redeem himself by hunting down his old gang, and former friends. As a reward, a politician has offered to forgive him of his own crimes, and let him return to his family. Times are changing. Phones, automobiles, and theaters are starting to show up in the small towns that dot the regions that represent Mexico, the mid-west, and the beginnings of big cities. The setting is a wonderful place to explore, full of great characters, and one of the best stories I’ve ever had the privileged to experience. Add a justified ending and room for a sequel, and you get one hell of a great game and the potential for a long-running franchise (hope, hope, hope, hope!)

The Bad

I would have enjoyed more options for horses, possibly being able to buy a donkey just for the laughs, or maybe a carriage for a different traveling experience from time to time. It would have been cool to operate the train on a regular basis, and control its speed. There were automobiles in the game, although limited to the more “civilized” areas, but it would have been interesting to actually be able to drive one. I know, Red Dead Redemption is not a GTA game, but I’ve grown accustomed to interacting with certain things. In a way, it makes John Marston a more interesting character, because he prefers horses over cars, but still… At the end of the game… you know, after… some years have passed, and it might have been cool to see a Wright Flyer in action. Notice how these are nit-picky? Yea, the game was awesome, so ignore THE BAD section, here.

1: Grand Theft Auto V

The Good

Where do I begin… The characters? There’s three of them, all with unique stories, objectives, and side-quests. The setting? Based on real-life Las Angeles, the fictional city of San Andreas is much more interactive than the historic L.A of L.A. Noire, and parodies the absurdities of real life at every turn. How about the cars? They’re fun to drive, each one feels unique, and there are a variety of radio stations with a wide range of genres to choose from. The cars are just the beginning, though, because you can use motorcycles, scooters (Scooter Brothers!), bicycles, boats, planes, helicopters, ATVs, tanks, and even a submarine. Customers who pre-ordered can take control of a blimp that floats above the city. The non-playable characters always seem to be involved with their own business, and many have humorous things to say. There are alternate dialogues for missions that aren’t even choice-based. You can watch TV, play golf, go to a strip club, get drunk, get high, play tennis, take a tour of the city, go swimming, skydive, etc. The main story-line is great, and there are smaller stories that are just as interesting as the one that ties the game together.

The Bad

The game was so amazing, that my old Xbox 360 couldn’t handle it. It kept crashing, only while I was playing GTA V. It worked with everything else, except GTA V! I had to buy an Xbox Slim just to play the damn game. Grand Theft Auto V, I must really love you if bought an new console just so I could play one game! But still… I had to buy an entirely new console to play this friggin game!

That concludes my top 10 out of the first 10! Let me know if you agree, and remember to follow my blog to hear more about my backlog goal progress!

My Backlog: The Top 10 out of the First 10 (Part One)

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This is the first half of a list that categorizes my favorite games from my backlog. I’ll schedule the second half for next week. I’ve finished 10 games from previous generations of consoles out of the 50 I’ve set for my goal. Life is Strange was the eleventh game I beat, and won’t show up until My Backlog: Top 10 out of the SECOND 10 list (By the way, if anyone has a better way to title these, I’d love some suggestions. Until then, I hope you get the point!)

Here they are, the top 10 games from the first 10 games I beat!

10: Epic Mickey

The Good

Epic Mickey is going to score high with any Disney enthusiast, simply because it’s Mickey “Freaking” Mouse! The game is full of highly recognizable Disney characters, the most notable being Mickey himself. It also includes lesser known Disney characters from the past, like Oswald Rabbit. My daughter loved this game so much, she cried when we finished it. She nervously sat through Mickey’s journey into the ink blot, desperately wanting me to reclaim Mickey’s captured heart, and didn’t want the game to end.

The Bad

My daughter loved this game, but she’s only four years old. She’s not old enough to see through the cheap ploy to convince gamers to drop money to play as popular characters. This game should have meant more to the creators than slapping Mickey’s name on a box, and telling everyone it was the best thing since bacon on pizza. I’ve went on several rants about how the game was broke (camera angles, unfair/not fun battles, poor level design, etc.), the creator knew it was broke when it shipped, and I would never play the sequel if my daughter hadn’t enjoyed watching me play this one. I convinced her to watch me play Kingdom Hearts, instead of jumping right into Epic Mickey 2, and we’ve BOTH been having a great time with an actual GOOD game that includes Disney characters.

9: Final Fantasy IV (DS)

The Good

This is a pretty basic RPG that includes lots of level grinding and story-telling elements. From what I’ve heard, this Final Fantasy has one of the better stories, although I found it pretty standard, if not extremely cheesy at times. That’s to be expected from a game this old. The voice acting was excellent, though, and really made the story come alive. The graphics that accompanied my Nintendo DS version of the game looked great, and I had a great time playing it.

The Bad

The DS version of the game includes an “augments” … perk? I don’t know what to call it, besides a pain in my ass. There’s absolutely no way to know how to use this system unless you look it up online. Even after I realized I was missing out on a bunch of stuff that I could never get back, I still managed to get confused by who was supposed to get what and when, and who was going to die with all my equipment, and who might show back up if I was really nice. Yea, Final Fantasy IV is BIG on heroic gestures, so SPOILER ALERT, get ready to lose some of the people you spend time leveling.

8: The Walking Dead, Season Two

The Good

Zombies… Zombies are good, right? They are when I’m talking about The Walking Dead. In Season Two, players get to fight off walkers and convince strangers not to act like assholes as Clementine, the little girl from Season One. Clementine is slightly older, and slightly more experienced. Seeing the world of walkers directly from her point of view adds a new spin to the original. If you enjoy zombies and story-driven games, definitely check this one out.

The Bad

Even IF you want a good story-driven game, this one gets predictable. Not only did this game, which has making your own choices as a huge selling point, make the story that the writers wanted to tell painfully obvious, it seemed to push itself in that direction regardless of the choices I made. Not only that, but the cast of characters weren’t nearly as likable OR interesting, as the ones in the previous season. The best part of the game was Clementine running into her old friend, Kenny, from the first game, and facing the dilemma of turning against him now that he’s turned into a total dick, or being friends with a total dick. I leaned toward the second scenario, but as I was saying previously, the game didn’t seem to like that choice. I was continually given reasons to stop enjoying my friendship (and history) with Kenny, and continually given opportunities to go against him. As far as the puzzles go, they were almost non-existent, compared to the first season. This “game” was basically a TV show that required some button mashing… Good TV show, though, for what it’s worth.

7: Brothers: A Tale of two Sons

The Good

This is a simple, puzzle-based adventure game about two brothers who are trying to save their father from dying. They don’t speak, and players aren’t given any verbal or written instructions on how to proceed. Instead, players must pay attention to body language, and the movements of their characters The big draw to this game is that half your controller is dedicated to the older brother, and the other half is dedicated to the younger. This setup creates some interesting experiences trying to get the brothers to accomplish their goals. It seems confusing, but the creators took their time creating situations that make controlling the brothers an interesting part of completing the puzzles. The scenery is beautiful, disturbing, and always interesting. The way the game is presented, the solid, unique gameplay, and the silent story with a shocking ending has stayed with me longer than any game with such small scale and affordability. If you can, go buy it. It doesn’t cost much, and it’s worth the money.

The Bad

The game is short. I used Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons to decide how short a game can be before I won’t count it toward my goal of beating 50 games. According to the website I use to determine how long I game takes to finish, this one only takes about 3 hours. It took me a bit longer, because I like to mess around. Some people might not think the small amount of content is worth the affordable price. The puzzles aren’t incredibly difficult, even near the end of the game, so it might not be challenging enough for fans of puzzle games. All I can suggest, is download the demo, KNOW that the game isn’t going to be long, and decide for yourself whether or not you want to spend the money.

6: Final Fantasy III

The Good

I played this game on a Nintendo DS, so I technically played the remake. However, it still felt like I was playing an old-school RPG, and that really pulled at my nostalgia strings. The character models, although simplistic (no noses), seemed to work really well with the story that was being told. The story itself was simplistic, and was exactly what I was looking for in a mobile game. Sometimes I want an epic adventure full of complex dialogue, amazing graphics, top voice-actors, etc., and sometimes I just want to level up some characters and move on to the next dungeon.

The Bad

When the game was first released, job systems were still a new concept. To get people used to the idea, the developers included some heavily persuasive NPC dialogue about what job class might work best, and then created scenarios in which certain areas or bosses were extremely difficult to get past unless players take the advice. This issue is less noticeable toward the end of the game (I beat the game with a party that was different from the majority of the suggested combinations I read about), but I continued to wonder if I should change my party based on how I thought the game wanted me to play. Another couple of negatives, although they didn’t bother me personally, were graphical limitations and lack of voice-acting.

That’s it for the first half of this post, but remember to follow my blog, and find out how I rate the rest of the games I’ve finished as a part of my backlog goal!

Life is Strange 5, Polarized… Time Travelling Conclussion

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This was it.

The finale of Life is Strange, titled: “Polarized”

Was it worth the wait? I’m about to give my opinion about the good, the bad, and the bogus. There will be HUGE SPOILERS throughout this post (obviously), so please wait until you conclude your own game before reading.

Let’s start off with the GOOD.

Was it just me, or were the graphics actually better in this episode than the others? It could have been my imagination, but I swear that Life is Strange looked more polished and presentable than ever before. The in-game rain still makes Max look like she’s a plastic action figure, but my God what a polished action figure she is!

The tone of episode 5 was a lot more mature, but I’m glad the developers were willing to take us down those dark roads. We get to see a torture room, listen to the sick ideologies of a psychopathic serial killer, and we get to feel a sense of loss that some of us will feel for a long time to come.

That leads perfectly into my next point, that LIS episode 5 pulls hard on the emotional strings of the players. There are a lot of scenes from past episodes, repeated as the game becomes a little more… strange. These dream-like scenes resemble mini-games in a way, but are more geared to reminding players what Max has been through. There is and eerie scene that involves Max escaping through an Alice in Wonderland-type of environment where her enemies become clones who are chasing her with flashlights. There is a different scene that is reminiscent of an art exhibit, where Max walks around in a bizarre, tilted landscape, viewing statues of past events as corresponding audio plays. It’s easily my most favorite experience out of all the episodes.

Side-note: my favorite quote is when Max says, “Life is… weird.” Awesome.

In case all of that sounds… ehem, strange, that’s because it is. This episode was the riskiest one of the series, incorporating things that I don’t think people have seen much of from these kinds of game. I’m happy to see this level of innovation from a story-based adventure game. They broke the rules, and I think it paid off. I’ll have to wait on some of the other reviews before I see if other players agree with me.

Life is Strange, “Polarized,” was far from perfect, though. Let’s talk about some of the BAD.

Episode 5 is all over the place with the plot, time travel events, who’s alive and who isn’t, what has changed and what hasn’t, what can still be fixed and what can’t. Max used her picture-focusing time-travel powers a lot in this episode, sending herself back to previous episodes to change events from the past. The developers were smart to include a slide-show to explain to players how Chaos Theory effected the time-line of events after Max made different choices, but somehow it still felt lacking after several changed events left me tired of keeping track of everything.

Some players probably handled it better than I did, but I’m a huge fan of time travel and I’m used to this kind of stuff. Players who haven’t been exposed to a lot of time travel science fiction might have a harder time understanding the progression of the game. That being said, I doubt that Square Enix got everything right, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an “Everything Wrong With” YouTube video featuring Life is Strange in the very near future.

Onto the bogus.

As I mentioned above, Max makes a lot of changes in episode 5. In one instance, Max is able to change things to near-perfection, only to discover that the massive tornado she dreamed of in episode 1 has made its way to Arcadia Bay while she is at an art gallery that’s honoring her prize-winning selfie. That’s right, Max is a recognized artist! Not only that, but the serial killer is dead, Kate Marsh never attempted suicide, and everything is pretty much how Max wants it to be… except for that damn tornado!

But why? Let me be very clear, just in case anyone who played this disagrees with me: The game developers use Max’s choice to travel through time as an explanation (not really) for why the tornado makes its way to Arcadia Bay, but they NEVER give a GOOD REASON as to WHY.

For those of you who are about to shout “CHAOS THEORY!”… well, no. I don’t care if you disagree, I still say no. For anyone who has ever watched Butterfly Effect, or the Back to the Future movies, you might already understand the concept of Chaos Theory as “the action of changing events in the past will have unforeseen consequences in the future.”

When Marty McFly’s dad, George, knocks out Biff in the first Back to the Future movie, it changes the future to reflect George’s newly found confidence. He no longer let’s Biff push him around. George is Biff’s boss, and a successful writer. NO TORNADO!

There are other time travel stories that have used Chaos Theory to explain why small changes in the past can result in much bigger changes further down the time-line, BUT giant tornadoes, double-moons, and other natural disaster are usually left out of the equation. (Maybe a time-travel story about climate change might be a little bit different, but not Life is Strange.) The reason Chaos Theory has limitations in most time-travel stories is because it only seems to make logical sense to a certain point. In other words, WHY THE HELL WOULD SAVING ARCADIA BAY EVER CAUSE A HUGE ASS TORNADO?!?!

I understand that “unforeseen consequences,” by the very definition of the phrase, means that I couldn’t possibly know how Max’s decisions might change things, but for story purposes those changes have to be explained AND make sense. If Max went back in time and dropped an atomic bomb on Arcadia Bay, I would still be shocked to see a giant tornado or twin moons show up by the end of the week. Why? Because there’s only ONE MOON, and changing the past won’t change that. Even NASA wouldn’t be able to make an exact replica of the moon and put it into orbit next to the original, so in what scenario would Max EVER be able to cause that to happen?

Also, the “unforeseen consequences” baggage that Chaos Theory carries around can usually be explained after the changes have been observed. Like this: “Oh, George McFly is more confident now because he stood up to the bully when he was in high-school, instead of backing down all the time.” But not this: “Oh, when George punched the bully he caused a chain of events that would cause the moon to clone itself thirty years later.”

…I’m feeling a little bit like I just watched the last season of Lost. You know, kind of like the developers tossed out some mysteries that they didn’t quite know how to handle. I’m sure they thought they’d have it all figured out by the end, but the best case scenario they could come up with is “time travel has unforeseen consequences.” (at least Max wasn’t dead the entire episode… am I right?) That might be okay for some of the younger science fiction fans – although, scifi fans are pretty damn smart, so maybe not – but I’ve been around the time-traveling block more than a few times, and I was hoping for a better explanation. After all, Max’s time-traveling escapades consistently demonstrated how the Butterfly Effect could have unforeseen consequences in ways that are much more logical, so that wasn’t a surprise by the end of episode 5.

But that was it. That was the surprise, the big finish. Bogus!

Thankfully those emotional strings had already been attached, or else I might not have enjoyed this episode as much… In case you were wondering, I was glued to my seat for four hours of the early morning, wanting to see what happens at the very end and how everything would be set back to right. Although it was a rehashed idea from Butterfly Effect, I was still happy with it. Time travel is a sticky story to tell, but playing Life is Strange was a great experience.

There is one thing I’d like to know, though… There is a choice that players have to make at the very end, and I chose… well, I made my choice, but I’m curious to see what would happen if I made the other choice. Hmm…

Thanks for reading. Leave your comments below, and let me know your thoughts about Life is Strange.

P.S. Happy Back to the Future Day! October 21, 2015!

Serious Fallout Shelter SNAFU


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Okay, I made a mistake. If you want to know the truth, I made a HUGE mistake; one that devastated my vault of 61 dwellers until it was basically unsalvageable (that IS a word).

This story starts out with some preparations for the last day of my work-week. I wanted to send a couple of my highest-powered lunchbox heroes into the wasteland for an extended stay so I could reap the wonderful loot after coming home for my weekend. However, as I mentioned in my previous post about this game, the device I play Fallout Shelter on belongs to my daughter, and it goes with her when she visits her grandparents.

Hmm, so I guess those high-level super-athletes of mine are going to FUCKING PERISH IN THE POST-ATOMIC WASTELAND OF DYSTOPIC TOMORROW!!! Oh, crap, I guess I need to call my wife and ask her to bring the guys home for me!

I call my wife, and she responds: “We’re busy right now.”

“Okay, that’s fine. Just, whenever you get not busy, will you please just click on the wasteland, and tell the explorers to come back. I can’t remember what it says exactly, but there’s a button that tells them to come back. If they don’t come back soon, they’ll die.”

“Oh, what happens if they die?” she asks.

“Well, I just have to spend in-game money to bring them back, but I’d rather not. It can be in-game-expensive, and could set me back quite a bit.”

“Oh… okay.”

So after a long day at her parents house, spent enjoying actual activities, I was at work… worrying about my two digital explorers. When I got a chance, I called her back, and asked her if she’d checked on them.

“No, but I thought you said you could just pay to bring them back.”

“!!! Yea, but I’d rather not!!! Can you just check. Who knows, maybe they’re still alive!”

“Okay, how do I do it.”

I told her.

“They’re dead,” she says.

“Shit, how much to revive them?”

“1,000 dollars.”

“You mean, caps.”

“What?”

“In the game, they use caps, not dollars.”

“Oh, whatever.”

“Okay, revive them, and send them home. There should be a ‘come back’ button, or something like that.”

“I don’t see the ‘come back’ button.”

“It’s in the lower right-hand corner.”

“I don’t see it.”

“Do you see anything?”

“Not a ‘come back’ button.”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a button that says “recall.”

“That’s it.”

“Okay… something’s happening… it says someone is attacking…”

“Oh… shit.”

“What do I do?”

“Maybe my guys will kill them.”

“I don’t know. I don’t see them.”

“Are the guys from the wasteland coming back?”

“How can I tell?”

“If they’re going into the wasteland, they’re facing left. If they’re coming back, they’re facing right.”

“They’re facing right.”

“Okay, they’re coming back. What about the intruders?”

“I don’t see them, anymore.”

“Whew! My dwellers must have took care of them.”

WRONG!!!

When I finally got to look at my game, the once thriving vault of 60+ dwellers had no energy, no food, and no water. The dwellers were low on health, and were suffering from radiation poisoning. After about 45 minutes of trying to recover from the horrible massacre, they started to look like they might be able to recover… and then the deathclaws attacked.

“Holy shit!”

Screw it, I thought, I might as well just start over from scratch.

And that’s what I did. Sigh, I’m taking it slow this time, and taking less risks when it comes to exploring. I have too, because I might not always be able to bring them back when I need to. I’ve learned that deathclaws only start showing up after the vault has over 60 people, so I’m going to make sure to get my people to better levels and get the some better gear before I cross that line, and I’ll have more to say about this game as I progress.