The Survival Appeal

So recently I finally acquired The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I bet you expect me to be writing some review of it here.

Review: It’s really fun, but the rain mechanic is frustrating.

For as much hype as I put into it before it came out, I guess that review is anticlimactic. I honestly have a lot more to say about it, but nothing that hasn’t been already said. If you want a good review, just watch the videos I put in that other post I did about the game. In fact, I’m currently doing my first run-through of the game in Master mode. As in I decided to play the game for my very first time on the hardest difficulty setting. So I have some stories from that that I guess I can write about.

But not here. This game got me thinking about the appeal of the kind of game it is.

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Collect, Craft, Survive

Normally I would classify any Zelda game as a linear adventure game. And while this game has many of the elements of traditional Zelda games, such as dungeons, special equipment, and puzzle solving, Breath of the Wild introduces new mechanics that drastically change how the game is played. Mechanics such as weapon durability, cooking, and material collecting. These mechanics shift the play style from adventure to survival since you constantly have to be searching for new weapons and new materials to aid you on your quest. It’s still undoubtedly an adventure, but one that requires a lot more thought and planning than other Zelda titles have.

So the game has survival mechanics. Neat. But why is that neat? Why are survival mechanics found in Breath of the Wild or even Minecraft so appealing to players? I’m not talking about the mechanics in the game and how they work, but what is psychologically appealing in these games.

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Choose Your Path

Every Zelda game before Breath of the Wild gave you goals to achieve. The main one is always something like “defeat Ganon” or whoever the main villain is, but in order to do that the game will give you the goals of first clearing the forest dungeon, then the fire dungeon, then the water dungeon, then the desert dungeon, and then maybe a few others, and THEN you can beat Ganon. Which is fine, so long as it’s a fun experience. There’s nothing wrong with a linear game.

Breath of the Wild does the same thing to a certain extent. At the beginning of the game you are given the main objective of defeating Ganon.  Then the game gives you some quests that can help you do so, such as going to the dungeons. There’s also treasure to collect, mini dungeons called shrines to complete, and other things to find. All of which are completely unnecessary to accomplishing your main goal. Helpful, but unnecessary.

So I think the reason this game is appealing is because it gives you the opportunity to create your own goals. With so many unnecessary yet helpful things in the game, you have the freedom to go at whatever pace you want. If there’s a dungeon you don’t like, then do it later, or just skip it entirely. Or do ALL the dungeons. Or if you’re skilled enough, go straight to Ganon.

The same can apply to Minecraft. There are bosses in the game that you can prepare for such as the Ender Dragon and the Wither. But they’re completely unnecessary if you so choose. You can spend the whole time just building houses and neighborhoods if that’s what you like.

While linear games can throw you from one event to the next without much break in between, survival games like Breath of the Wild allow you to set your own goals and progress at your own pace. Now, there are survival games that are way more stressful where you have to race against the clock of hunger or a mass flooding or something. And I could compare Breath of the Wild‘s appeal to that of other types of games like shooters and fighters. And maybe I will analyze those kinds of games later. But I compared survival to linear in this post because that’s how Zelda used to be for the most part, barring maybe the first game and Link to the Past. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Zelda franchise took a step in the right direction with Breath of the Wild.

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

 

Picture credits:

https://www.planetminecraft.com/project/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-hyrule-castle-pre-calamity/

https://kotaku.com/five-ways-nintendo-could-fix-breath-of-the-wilds-clunky-1793957796

http://www.gosunoob.com/zelda-breath-of-wild/how-to-turn-on-heros-path/

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Rivals of Melee

Finally I’m writing about a game that just came out.

The Indie Fighter

Don’t let the pixel graphics fool you. Rivals of Aether is a Super Smash Brothers inspired fighting game created by Dan Fornace that was fully released Tuesday.

To call it a clone or a knock off of the still popular Super Smash Brothers: Melee would not do it justice in the least. Yes, it is a fighting game where damage is taken in the form of percents. Yes, the objective of each fight is to knock the other player off the screen. Yes, it has many technical similarities to SSBM such as wavedashing and teching. But it’s creativity, balance, and innovation sets it apart from being merely a “knock off.”

Most games that try to be like SSBM aim for their game to be a fighting game with mascots. Much like how SSMB features characters from various Nintendo games like Mario, Link, Fox, and Samus, Playstation tried to do the same thing with their game All-Stars Battle Royale, which featured characters from various Playstation games.

Fornace, of course, doesn’t have 20 or more years of unique games under his belt. So Rivals of Aether features original animal characters. While the characters do have backstories and the game features a story mode, the game is focused more on the technicality of the game rather than watching Mario fight Sonic, which is not the essence of Super Smash Brothers, but it is what other industries see and have tried to replicate.

“We have seen some Smash-style games in the past,” said Fornace in an interview with Kotaku, “but often, they are looking to replicate the ‘mascot brawler’ aspect of Smash and not the ‘platform fighter’ aspect that we see at tournaments.”

Rivals of Aether appears to be more of a game of skill than a game for a party. This is probably because it borrows some of the technical moves and techniques from SSBM and combines them with original movesets and characters. Some of the characters do have moves that are similar to those from SSBM, for example the fire lion Zetterburn has a special move that looks identical to Fox’s from SSBM, but the rest of him is so unique that you can’t say, “he’s just like Fox,” or “he’s just a Fox clone.”

To say that the game is perfectly balanced would be a lie. Nothing’s perfect. But it does really well.

When I was playing the game with my friend, I was pretty upset with two of the characters he would play: the ice summoning bear Etalus and the rock summoning beetle Kragg. Both had what I called “stupid combos,” meaning he could do a simple move three times in a row and then do a stronger move to defeat me early.

I wasn’t liking the game too much because of that. But then I realized that every character had a “stupid combo.” Some were just not as obvious as others. So then it became a game of who could pull off their combos first and who could read their opponent better to pull off more.

There are ways to avoid those combos, but I soon learned that I am simply not that great at the game.

Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite indie games next to Shovel Knight and Undertale and definitely one of my favorite Smash games next to Project M.

But that’s just my opinion.

Picture Sources:

https://pvplive.net/c/rivals-of-aether-kicks-off-first-esports-online-pr

The Wild Release

It would not be appropriate to say that people are going “wild” over The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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That isn’t to say people aren’t enjoying the game. “Wild” just isn’t the best way to describe the impact the game is having on the people who have played it. If you still wanted to describe it using a word from the game title, it would be better to say that it is taking people’s breath away. With all the attention the game has been getting, it would seem that it is one of the best games of all time, much less one of the best console release games that Nintendo has ever put out with the birth of the new system. In fact, the reviews for the Zelda game are better than the reviews for the system it is introducing: the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an immersive, open-world adventure game. It was released with the Nintendo Switch on March 3. The move to an open-world game is a new take for the Zelda series, and many were skeptical at first that this new way of play would detract from what Zelda fans love about the previous games. Most fans were not disappointed, however, as the larger world only added to the qualities of previous Zelda games. Other new game elements are weapon durability, cooking, and a lack of hand-holding, all of which have been accepted warmly by most players. It is reportedly a hard game to put down.

An article form the Time magazine said, “Exploring its expansive collage of verdant, gelid and sun-scorched zones is akin to tromping onto the set of a painterly Studio Ghibli film. It’s like nothing else Nintendo has made, an experience so simultaneously prodigious and accomplished that it feels like a mind-blowing mic drop to the sort of “open world” games (Grand Theft Auto V, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, The Witcher 3) the industry seems bent on proliferating.”

Despite all of its praise, Breath of the Wild is not a perfect game, nor is it liked by everyone. Some players have found the constant weapon breaking to be tedious and others have found the map too expansive and forgettable. One common complaint that all players have made is about the constant drops in frame rate. This happens when there are many animations going on at once in the area your character is in, animations such as fields of grass and trees swaying in the wind. However, these drops are most common in the beginning area of the game, and players have found that there are drastically less past that part, so it is a small issue.

Though it is a testament that a new Switch almost can’t handle its first major game, which isn’t a good sign. For the most part, Switch owners like their new consoles. The materials it is made of are sturdy, the controllers aren’t as awkward as people thought they would be, and it has a fair battery life. All these elements make the portability of the console practical and convenient.

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There are several inconveniences as well. Though the dock is neatly designed, it is nothing special, and can possibly scratch the screen if the user isn’t careful with putting it in or pulling it out. The Switch also performs noticeably worse when it is played on the television, in reference to the previously mentioned frame rate problem. The Switch screen has a kickstand so it can be propped up while played on a table or other flat surface. However, the charging port is on the bottom of the device to accommodate the dock, making it impossible to charge while the kickstand is set up.

Many Switch owners have experienced problems that have not been problems for others. For example, many players have experienced connection issues when they detach the controllers from the screen and then something like someone walking by comes in between them and interferes with the communication. Others have tried to re-create this issue but have not been successful in re-creating the problem. Some have had problems with inputs from the left thumb stick, but again, others have only heard of this problem.

The Zelda-Switch relationship was appropriately described by YouTuber Chad “Chadtronic” Bergström:

“I feel like the full potential for this game was only held back by the system it has to run on. I would have really liked to see this game, and play this game, on a system that is not the Nintendo Switch.”

According to the reviews, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will take your breath away, but you may have to hold it for the Switch.

Picture Credits:

https://www.vg247.com/2017/03/07/zelda-breath-of-the-wild-guide-great-fairy-fountain-locations-and-armor-upgrades/

https://www.cnet.com/products/nintendo-switch/review/

 

Which Skyrim Is Coming to the Switch?

For some people who play video games, knowing the quality of the programming and graphics that have gone into the dragon they’re about to fight is just as important as fighting the dragon itself, but when those details are unclear, it turns the dragon into an elephant in the room instead.

In Fall of 2017, a Bethesda game will be on the Nintendo console for the first time. This is a big step for Nintendo, especially since Skyrim is still a popular game today, and might attract attention from consumers who don’t normally buy Nintendo products. However, when Bethesda’s Todd Howard was asked which version of the game would be on the Switch, Howard said he “can’t say,” according to a Polygon article. Knowing the version of the game will give  consumers an idea of what level of quality to expect from it, but will also help them estimate the potential of the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities.

There are three possibilities for Skyrim on the Switch: it could be a port of the original 2011 version, a port of the 2016 special edition, or an entirely new custom-built version.

If you are unfamiliar with the term “port,” it refers to when developers go to an already created game and copy and paste it so it can be playable on a different system.

When Bethesda created the 2016 version, they made major improvements to things such as the graphics and shortening the load times. If the 2011 version is ported, it could imply that the Switch isn’t capable of managing high definition graphics. If the 2016 version is ported, it would imply the opposite. From images of the Switch’s release game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it would seem that the Switch does have those capabilities, but there is a chance that it does not.

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If they were to build a custom version, it could ensure the game running very well on the Switch in general and could avoid possible problems that come with ports, especially a port like the 2016 version, which gave the PS4 problems because of its modding capabilities.

Perhaps Howard is refraining from confirming the version because Bethesda is not sure which will be best for the Switch. Or the reason could be simpler than that.

Joe Skrebels of IGN wrote, “It may … simply be a case of [pre-release] planning – Bethesda may want to announce the Special Edition for Switch on its own terms, leading Howard to answer in noncommittal fashion.”

Whatever the reason may be, if Howard “can’t say” which version it will be, then the players simply “can’t say” how enjoyable that dragon battle will be.

Picture credit:

https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/20/nintendo-switch-games-mario-kart-splatoon-skyrim-nba/

http://www.zeldainformer.com/breath-of-the-wild-has-a-vastly-improved-draw-distance-on-nintendo-switch/

Spending Time, Not Money, On Fire Emblem: Heores

Once again, I find myself writing about Fire Emblem.

I play more than just Fire Emblem, I swear. In fact, I swear I play more than just Nintendo games. I promise I will get to those non-Nintendo games I like…later.

I know in my last post I was pretty optimistic about these mobile games that Nintendo has put out. I downloaded Fire Emblem: Heroes the day it came out and it went beyond my expectations, but not necessarily above.

MINI FIRE EMBLEM

Fire Emblem: Heroes is exactly what I expected it to be in the last post: a miniature, watered down version of the series. I immediately forgave the game for having smaller maps, lacking character conversations and support, weapon durability, and permanent character deaths. There is only so much content you can afford to create in a free-to-play game.

But I was surprised at how much there is to do in Fire Emblem: Heroes. It has a main story that you can play multiple times on harder difficulties, it has an arena where you can pit your characters against another, it has a training area, special missions, and something else that I haven’t even unlocked yet. The game also features character art in different styles and voice actors for each character and just enough dialogue for me to be interested in and appreciate every single one. I spent many more hours at once on this game than I ever anticipated.

MINI TIME CONSUMER

But that’s the thing that really bothered me with the game. I didn’t plan on spending as much time as I have on it, nor did I really want to going into it. I figured this would be a game where I could it pick up and be satisfied with only ten minutes of play, but it never happened that way. Kellie Plagge of Gamespot felt the same way; “Before I’d put together a strong team, I started to lose interest in playing; but once I pulled good characters, I had a hard time putting my phone down. It’s very tempting to keep playing thanks to Heroes’ quick grind-reward loop…”

The short story: I put the game down because it was taking up too much of my time, and I was neglecting other things I wanted to do because of it. Which is true for a lot of things in my life, to be honest. But the real reason I put it down goes deeper than that and has to do with how I play games.

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MINI GOALS

Before I start playing a game, I usually go in with a certain goal in mind for that period of play. These goals can be as simple as “today I’m just going to beat the next level or two” to as complicated as “today I’m going to EV train my Jolteon until it’s maxed out on it’s speed and special attack stats!”

So I tried going into Fire Emblem: Heroes with similar goals, but even the simple goals take a lot longer to accomplish than in games I’m used to. Unless I paid money. Paying money makes things happen very quickly.

In my last post I talked about how Pokemon Duel was a waiting game, where certain things will unlock only after a certain time period, and Fire Emblem: Heroes is almost the same way. In order to summon heroes for your army, you need at least five Orbs to summon one, and twenty to summon five at once. Two Orbs are given to you each day, but they can also be obtained by playing levels or by accomplishing certain objectives. To play levels, you need to spend stamina points, which you regain over time, but if you run out, there’s not much you can do.

So you can’t have a goal of getting five new heroes when you have no Orbs, because it would take a long time. So I found myself making smaller goals, but spending just as long trying to accomplish them as I would with larger goals in other games. Basically this game takes twice as long to get s much progressive fulfillment as I would in another game with more content such as Fire Emblem: Awakening. And I haven’t even gotten into the amount of work it takes to level up characters and to get ones that already know certain abilities. This game has a lot of content, if I didn’t mention that before.

MINI LESSON IN MOBILE GAMING

I’ve learned from this that Nintendo’s mobile games have enough content in them for you to dedicate as much time to it as their other console games. Which is pretty impressive. So maybe I’ll actually do that when I’m done with the other games that I’m playing right now, because I do enjoy the game. But since I didn’t expect that, and I don’t want to commit that much time to it, it’s on the back burner for me. And maybe having it there will give me the opportunity to decide whether I really want to play it.

It is a good game if you want to play it, and it’s free if you want to spend the time on it. Just remember that what Nintendo has done is made it a real game, not just an app. So if you have the time, I highly recommend it.

But that’s just my opinion.

Picture credits:

http://hdwallpapershdpics.com/fire-emblem-heroes/

https://www.destructoid.com/review-fire-emblem-heroes-417440.phtml

Nintendo Mobile Gaming Potential

Even with the new Nintendo Switch coming out in March, Nintendo is beginning to delve into the mobile game market, as they have just announced Tuesday that they will be making two to three mobile games each year, according to Engadget’s Tom Regan.

Nintendo began their involvement with mobile gaming with their one-week-hit that was Pokemon Go!, which was an adventurous yet watered-down version of the Pokemon games. Then they came out with Super Mario Run, which is a watered-down version of the Super Mario Brothers games. And on February 2 they will release Fire Emblem: Heroes, which is pretty much a high school reunion for all of your favorite Fire Emblem characters, which, as a fan of Fire Emblem, I am excited for, even though it will undoubtedly be a watered-down version of all the other Fire Emblem games. Not to mention there will be an Animal Crossing mobile game coming out next year, which will probably just be a – well, you get the idea.

All of these games, except for Super Mario Run, , will be free-to-play with in-game purchases.

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I am not a fan of mobile games. They often do not feel like real games to me. They are small and they usually don’t have much content. I also am not a fan of simplifying games that I am a fan of. Again, it doesn’t feel like the real thing to me, like it’s trying to pretend to be like what it is representing, but falling ever so short.

But I am a fan of Nintendo. And I am a fan of “free.”

So I decided to try out one of their new free games. The game I downloaded is a little gem called Pokemon Duel. Take note that this is not a normal Pokemon game, nor is it a watered down version of a Pokemon game. It’s a new game entirely that just uses Pokemon characters. Think of this game like chess. The player can collect virtual figures that they can use in-game on a board, and the objective is to get one of your figurines on the base of the other team while protecting your own. If you want a more in-depth description of the game, Adweek describes it well.

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So far, I’m pretty impressed. For one thing, it looks great! Of course, I guess all they had to do was program statues to hop around the board, but they did a good job at it. And I’m having fun despite it’s simplicity. And I’ve been winning. With only the base set, too.

However, this game did confirm the fears I did have.

With most free-to-play games, there is incentive to pay real money to progress, but you don’t have to. This gives the player two options: pay, or grind/wait. By grind, I mean that the player has to play a lot to get things he could get in a second if he just paid. By wait, I mean that the game is willing to give the player things, but only after a certain time period, normally by the next day, forcing the player to play consistently, but not necessarily for long periods of time. And Pokemon Duel is definitely a waiting game, and I don’t like that aspect of it. I would rather play more to progress faster rather than wait for my in-game presents to unlock.

But this doesn’t make the game terrible, it makes it slow. Moreover, it makes it a mobile game, which is what it’s supposed to be. And I know that a bunch of people don’t like that, in fact I bet they expect for Nintendo to port full console games onto mobile devices, but the size of those games are too big for that to ever happen.

I say, if Nintendo wants to keep making these games on a regular basis, more power to them. I doubt these games will hurt the company in any way, especially since Super Mario Run got 78 million downloads and earned them $53 million. And for the player, you only waste time if you download a free game you don’t like. Or at least hopefully you figured out you don’t like it before you spent money on it.

So in response to the announcement of even more mobile games: bring it on. Give me a reason to use my iPad for more than just an alarm clock.

But that’s just my opinion.

Picture credits:

https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/17/nintendo-s-long-awaited-step-into-mobile/ 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/01/18/fire-emblem-heroes-is-free-to-play-coming-to-android-first/#6a4197407d06

http://www.adweek.com/digital/pokemon-duel-strategy-game-launches-on-mobile/

Upcoming Details About Nintendo Switch Revealed In Interview With ProJared

Reginald “Reggie” Fils-Aimé, President of Nintendo of America, revealed that there will be an abundance of third-party games and online capabilities coming to the Nintendo Switch in an interview with popular YouTube reviewer Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer Wednesday.

 

Knabenbauer was able to have the opportunity to speak with Fils-Aimé at the Nintendo Switch preview event in New York City. During the interview, Knabenbauer was able to ask Fils-Aimé questions about what to expect from the Nintendo Switch, and Fils-Aimé was able to ask Knabenbauer questions about what he, as a customer, wanted from the Nintendo Switch.

Fils-Aimé reported that there are currently 80 new games in development, and 50 of those will be made by different developers. He also said that the new dedicated online service will be a subscription service that will require either a monthly or annual fee. Features of this service will include matchmaking, lobbies, Virtual Console content, and voice chat.

“What we’re trying to do is create something that’s differentiated from our competitors but also solves the need of our consumers in terms of what they want and what they expect from an online experience,” said Fils-Aimé.

He then confirmed that the portable capabilities of the Nintendo Switch will not hinder the progress of their most popular portable gaming system, the Nintendo 3DS.

Knabenbauer told Fils-Aimé that, as a customer, he was really excited for most of the games revealed at the event, such as Splatoon 2Fire Emblem: Warriors, and the new Square Enix RPG. He recommended that a new Monster Hunter game should be made for the Switch.

The new Nintendo Switch console will be available to the public on March 3, 2017.

Picture Credit:

https://gamerant.com/wii-u-sales-forecast-ps4-xbox-one-comparison/

 

Choose Your Games Wisely

This isn’t going to be a post about which specific games are the best and which you should avoid. Things like that are entirely up to you. Instead, this is going to be about how to choose the best game for you. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on how to choose games to play and to identify the ones you don’t want to waste time on.

“E” DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN “ENJOYABLE”

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The ESRB rating system is there to let us know about the maturity content in video games, but not how good the game is. For a good summary of the ESRB ratings, visit this blog on Surfnetkids. It also briefly goes over things I’m about to go over. It’s a good read.

Make sure when you’re checking the ESRB rating, you read the reasons for the rating. Some games aren’t as bad as the rating would initially have you believe, and some are worse. For example, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V are both rated “M,” but Skyrim has WAY less swearing and sexual innuendos than GTAV does, and GTAV has a LOT.

Don’t undermine a game because of it’s rating either. Just because something is rated “E” and is targeted towards kids doesn’t mean that it’s poorly made and an adult might actually enjoy it too. But no rating guarantees a well-made game either. The ESRB is specifically rating for content, not game play. However, it should still be one of the first things you check before buying a game.

YOUR OPINION IS NOT THE REVIEW

Watching reviews of the game you want to get is a good way to determine if you want it or not, but always keep in mind that reviews are completely subjective to the opinion of the reviewer. A reviewer may enjoy a game, but you may not, and vice versa. For example, a reviewer I often watch really enjoyed a game I was planning on getting, and so did my friends. When I purchased the game, I really enjoyed it for all of the reasons they said I should. But I soon got bored with it, and I still haven’t played it in a while. Be wary of things like that.

One thing to definitely trust reviewers on is if they report that the game is poorly made or has game-breaking glitches, or both. When a game is like that, many reviewers will end up reporting on the same problems, so you can trust that the game is bad. So don’t buy it.

The most reliable reviews you can get will be from your friends who already have the game. Whether you end up enjoying the game or not, you will at least have someone to play it with.

sun_moon_demo_late_morning__medium APPRECIATE FREE DEMOS

Game developers often publish free demos of the game they plan to release later to introduce its gameplay and features. These demos are usually short and restrictive, but they can give you a good feel for the game. And they’re free, all you have to do is download it, and if you don’t like it, delete it. That’s all there is to it, really.

RENTING GAMES

I have nothing to say about renting games. I’ve never tried these new game renting businesses. I couldn’t say if it’s worth it or not. If you want to give it a shot, here’s a link to Gamefly. Have fun.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, PUT IT DOWN

Too often does our curiosity get the better of us. Have you ever found yourself watching a show you didn’t like, but you didn’t stop watching it because you were genuinely curious about the ending? Don’t let that happen to you when you’re playing a game. Don’t be afraid to stop playing, just like what I did with Fire Emblem. Ideally, make that decision within the time that you are eligible to return the game and get a full refund.

With that said, be wary about downloading games instead of getting a physical copy. You cannot return a downloaded game! Be aware of that when you’re getting a PC game, since downloading has been the main way to get PC games as of late.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Always remember that you are in control of your time and what games you play. Find what genre you like. Experiment with some you aren’t as familiar with. Play games with friends. Whatever you do, make sure you are playing games that you like, not just what everyone else likes. Games can excite you. They can relax you. They can make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. Don’t play those ones. But most of all, make sure you’re balancing your game time with the things that are more important, like family and your religion, if you have one. Don’t make video games your top priority. Just have fun with them.

But that’s just my opinion.

Picture credits:

https://popuptee.com/collections/popular-t-shirts/game?page=2

https://www.esrb.org/ratings/

https://www.gamnesia.com/news/the-pokemon-sun-moon-demo-releases-on-nintendo-3ds-late-tomorrow-morning

Why I Prefer Fire Emblem: Awakening Over Fire Emblem: Fates

It began in the main hall of my high school, about three years ago. My friend Hoth ‘Raka (which is his “internet name” as I like to call it) had recently picked up the latest game of a long running Nintendo Role Playing Game (RPG) series called Fire Emblem, this one titled Fire Emblem: Awakening. But he kept nagging me about it, ending some of our conversations with, “by the way, get Fire Emblem.”

So eventually I did. To my surprise, the game quickly made it’s way to the top of my personal top ten list of favorite video games. I ended up beating it twice before Hoth beat it once.

So you would imagine that I was thrilled to hear that its sequel would be released in the summer of 2015, a game with the title of Fire Emblem: Fates that was split between three games titled Birthright, Conquest, and Revelations similar to how the main Pokemon games are released. Polygon.com gave each version at least an 8/10 in their reviews, as did many other established reviewers such as IGN and Eurogamer.

I, however, was not so impressed.

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FIRE EMBLEM: A GAME OF WAR AND LOSS

If you’re not familiar with the Fire Emblem series, you should look into it. It is a turn-based RPG strategy game, where the player controls an army’s movement, weapons, and classes as he attempts to vanquish the apposing army and progress through the story.

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Throughout his adventures, the player gets familiar with each character in his army. When the characters fight side-by-side on the battlefield, they develop relationships which are expounded on through dialogue in between battles.

But here’s the kicker: If a character falls in battle, they’re dead for good. This puts a great deal of emotional battle in the game, making the player choose each move carefully in order to avoid loss.

fire_emblem_awakening___all_characters_wallpaper_by_jadefiresaph-d5vuxii THE CHARACTER DIFFERENCE

These next three sections are about the major differences I noticed between the games. This first is probably the weakest and most biased opinion I have, but I’m going to say it. Above is a pic of most of the characters in Awakening. Seems like a lot, right? I promise if you play this game you will fall in love with all 43 characters here, plus there are about six extra ones you can unlock. I’m pretty sure I can name most of them still, even though I haven’t played the game in a while. Now here are the characters in Fates:

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I count 82. At least six of those characters will never be in your army, but it’s still a lot. The game was $40 when it came out. If you want to get to know all of these characters, you have to pay another $40 dollars to get the other versions of the game. I suppose it’s a good price for triple the content, as each version has different characters and a different story, but I personally feel it’s a bit overwhelming, and I didn’t want to spend that much.

But I did anyways. For my sister. She loves the game.

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THE RELATIONSHIP DIFFERENCE

As I said before, your characters can form bonds by fighting together. In Awakening, these bonds will allow that character of having a better chance of getting an extra hit in, or blocking damage potentially done to the other character if he is placed right next to him on the battlefield. When the bond is between a man and a woman, their relationship can blossom into marriage. If your avatar character gets married, you get a bonus single-frame cut-scene with that character, and the best fighting support when you have your  spouse with you on the field. Except for some bonus dialogue that all couples get when they land on certain squares of the map, that’s about it.

Fates does everything Awakening does in terms of relationships but makes it weird. In Fates, your avatar’s spouse moves in with you, shares your bed, along with…other things.  To quote Martin Robinson on his post about the game, “I’m not particularly keen on stroking the faces of Fire Emblem’s cast,…” The stoking isn’t during a cut-scene. You can physically rub the character with the stylus. Or with your finger, if you want.

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  THE CLASS DIFFERENCE

The class customization was definitely my favorite thing about Awakening. Most characters started knowing a base class and could be upgraded to an advanced class using something called a Master Seal. Different classes were proficient with different weapons and learned different abilities. Another item called a Second Seal could change a character’s class to a different one, but the character kept the abilities they learned. This allowed many unique class options that were fun to play with.

The most frustrating thing about Fates is that it changed all of that. They removed the Second Seal and replaced it with four other Seals that allowed you to change classes based on who that character was in a relationship with. To put it briefly, if you wanted someone to be a Ninja, they had to marry a Ninja! This made the class customization really restrictive and confusing. The authors of the Polygon review of Fates agree, saying, “Fire Emblem Fates needlessly complicates the series’ already pretty complicated class adoption mechanic…Even once you understand how the system works, there’s so much confusion about the best way to use it…”

IT’S STILL FIRE EMBLEM

Despite everything I’ve said, Fates is still a good game. Because it’s a Fire Emblem game. It’s gameplay is unique, it’s dialogue is pretty good, and the animation is amazing. The unique objectives of Conquest  are challenging and interesting. It is indisputably a very fun and well made game. But it just made me feel uncomfortable playing it, having played Awakening beforehand. And it just never stopped getting more and more uncomfortable. So I stopped playing it. I’d rather have a third go at Awakening.

But that’s just my opinion.

Picture credits in order:

http://fireemblem.nintendo.com/downloads/

http://www.giantbomb.com/fire-emblem-fates/3030-48580/

http://www.technobuffalo.com/2015/05/26/fire-emblem-awakening-destroys-all-expectations-at-1-8-million-sold/

http://jadefiresaph.deviantart.com/art/Fire-Emblem-Awakening-All-Characters-Wallpaper-355842090

http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/995524-fire-emblem

http://www.getlinkyoutube.com/watch?v=8gfrY6JKUGo

http://gearnuke.com/fire-emblem-fates-class-progression-inforgraphic/