09/05/2021

Random Gaming Thoughts

 

Hullo, dear fellow gamers! Hope you’re doing mighty fine, and gaming like it’s going out of fashion. I feel like rambling a bit about this, that and other gaming matters today; and I’ll start with no less than a first debrief of my now tried-and-tested OWOG system.

 

According to plan, I should have played 18 games already. Did I? Nope, not even close! The OWOG system is not at fault there, though. The culprit that makes my gaming schedule derail on a regular basis is none other than my darn real life, which leaves little to no time or energy for gaming these days. Whole days pass without me getting the opportunity to lay my thumb on a D-Pad, when it’s not a full darn week. I’m mightily miffed, all the more so as when I can pull off the OWOG system, it works like a charm and feels really fulfilling. However, I don’t fret too much over this: my busy IRL schedule is purely circumstantial, and not bound to last on the long run. It sure overstayed its welcome already; still, things will cool down after some time, and then I’ll be able to indulge more in sweet, sweet gaming.

 

So hot, so hot, you're on my radar ♥

I cannot game as much as I’d like these days, but I can sure buy as many games as I’d like. And oh boy, do I have games to covet and get my paws on indeed: the first half of 2021 was littered with appetizing releases, and more yummy titles are piling up all the way to the end of the year. And of course, I have to welcome the brand-new dark blue Switch Lite in my precious collection sooner or later unless I keep it as 2021’s Official Christmas Gift from my lil’ sister, of course. But wait! Maybe Ninty will deliver a limited edition Switch Lite along Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and my, wouldn't that be the perfect gift.

 

And yep I notice you, you're on my radar too ♥

Let's move on to the upcoming Gen IV remakes, whose names alone make me drool with anticipation. I vowed to never again take part in heated internet gaming debates after being forced to eat a big piece of humble pie upon playing (and loving) Let’s Go Eevee, and I’ll keep that oath. Suffice it to say that I’m extremely hyped about these games indeed, and impervious to the controversy surrounding them. So the art style is deemed too primitive for Gen VII entries? Please b*tch, no art style is too primitive for a gamer who started their career in 1990. I last played Diamond&Pearl two years ago, and it will be pure joy to dive into revamped versions of that pair. Heck, I'm even itching to be reunited with my little chap Barry, and to see if Vintage 2021 Barry is as excitable as Vintage 2006 Barry. My sole little worry lies in the fact that these remakes are being handled by external developer ILCA rather than by GameFreak themselves. On the other hand, GameFreak are not exactly the most outstanding developer out there, and I’m pretty sure the games will be quality-controlled into oblivion; so why worry? Let the hype take over, baby!

 

What else? I played a bunch of demos lately, which led to some welcome savings as I didn’t fancy them enough to purchase the games they hailed from. Here’s a quick recap:

 

  Blaster Master: Instant & utter dislike. I managed to last exactly 30 seconds, before exiting the demo and erasing it from my memory card. Heck, just remembering these 30 seconds of abject old-fashioned platforming makes me retch.

 

Cris Tales: The art style kinda offended my retinas, and the gameplay was not stellar enough to make me forget what I saw. Also, I dislike games that look like cartoons as a rule, as well as games that sell themselves as homages to a genre that’s still alive and kicking. B*tch, if I wanna get myself some JRPG, I’ll go and play some Tales or some Seiken Densetsu, not some indie that poses as a JRPG homage yet looks like a Disney movie.

 

  R-Type Final 2: The plasticky art style was not to my retinas' liking at all; but anyway, the game had lost me before that, when it forced some kind of cinematic intro on me. The original R-Type, although I didn’t fancy it, had at least the decency to let me shoot stuff right away.

 

  Sea of Solitude: I really liked it at first, actually. Very intuitive gameplay, mesmerizing setting, splendid art style, and a really haunting atmosphere. Alas, that excellent first impression was tainted by the demo’s handholding and patronizing, which kinda spoilt the joy of discovery and exploration. But the real dealbreaker came when I realised that SoS, like so many indies these days, has a message to deliver; and so, it just won’t let me project my own thoughts and fantasies into its world, which really bothers me. (I didn’t go far enough to unveil the message in question, but I’d bet my Switch that the whole game is a metaphor for depression or the like.) Still, I haven't written off SoS completely yet; it's still tugging at my gamer's heart ever-so-slightly, and I may well give it a second chance if only because the gameplay was so darn smooth.

 

That’s all for my ramblings du jour, dear fellow gamers; I’ll see you soon with my freshest run report, or any other kind of gaming goodness. In the meantime, keep playing and take care!

 

28/04/2021

Arc of Alchemist: Breathtaking

 


There’s not a shred of irony in that title, dear fellow gamers; and I’m not gonna write that AoA is so bad that it robbed me of my breath, or anything like that. I am totally sincere here; for the third time since I started that blog, I find myself loving to pieces a game that has been slandered in reviews. The first two were Hometown Story and Astonishia Story; but with AoA, we’re breaking a new record when it comes to the gap between my own feelings and the general perception of the reviewing community. 

 


See, we’re talking about a game that can claim the horrendous score of 36 on Metacritic, and the dubious honour of being the 6th lowest-rated Switch game on that same site since the machine’s release. Heck, the reviews were so insanely scathing that I gave AoA a hard pass at first, despite the fact that my gaming instinct was very interested by that game. I thought I was done with AoA then; but lo and behold, my gaming instinct roared to life lately and claimed that game, and wouldn’t be swayed by no bad review. I know better than to go against the gaming instinct, folks; and that’s how I found myself ordering a copy of the game, to be played upon receipt. 

 


Two and a half hours of play later, I’m deeply in love with AoA and seriously in awe of it as well. I didn’t choose that post’s title randomly: AoA really took my breath away, leaving me a bit shuddery and disoriented in a most pleasant way. First thing first, I dig sandy vistas just as much as wintery vistas. In fact, you could say that I dig all barren, arid, open-horizon vistas, whether they be cold or hot: from the Gobi Desert in Terranigma to the Land of Dusk in Ayesha, those landscapes stir something deep within my soul. AoA’s ergs and regs are no exception, and running through them makes my gamer’s heart flutter deliciously. I genuinely emitted a cry of delight upon entering the darkened pass in the Abandoned City for the first time and seeing my characters silhouetted against the gushes of sandy wind. Heck yeah, Compile Heart do you know I love you more by the friggin’ game

 


Beyond my being a sucker for all things desert, AoA reawakened that wondrous feeling of wonderment already roused by games such as Legend of Legacy and Myst III: Exile. Once again, I felt like an explorer in an unknown world, left free to piece things together and try to understand what happened. I cannot describe that sweet, puzzled awe that grips my heart every time a contraption pops out of the sand, reminding me that I’m cruising a world full of mysteries. Who built that stuff, and what for? I don’t even want the answer by the end of the game, to be honest; just wondering, and fantasizing about that world, is more than enough for me especially when it’s backed up by such a splendid soundtrack. Oh boy, that soundtrack! It’s heart-wrenchingly splendid, pure ear-candy that complements the vistas to pure perfection. Let me tell you: I ordered the Japanese PS4 Limited Edition just to get my greedy paws on the OST CD, and I don’t regret it one bit. Compile Heart is totally deserving of that purchase, and more, for giving me so many feels through a single bloody game.

 


But what about AoA’s glaring flaws, the ones that had reviewers seething and raging? Sure enough, that game is far from being perfect; but it's not that horrendous either. Combat, in particular, is much better than reviews would have led me to believe. It can be a hot mess that is, if you're too lazy to use the dodging and target-locking features like I am most of the time. When you take the time to use them properly, you gain much tighter control over the flow of battle, and you can enjoy the fulfilling physics and dazzling animations to the fullest. The in medias res story is totally fine by me, because a) I don’t care about stories in RPGs, and b) I kinda like what I’m witnessing so far. I’ve already gone all mushy seeing Jester awaken to emotions through his cat, and I have an inkling I’ll end up shipping Queen x Gareth and Axel x Micah before I’m done with the game. 

 


I didn’t quite notice the framerate issue everybody rants about; either I’m very tolerant when it comes to slowdowns in games (which is highly likely anyway), or the game runs better on the Lite than on the regular Switch and let’s face it, it’s probably a mix of both. What else? I don’t mind the general fuzziness, the lack of detailed backgrounds and the endlessly beige landscapes, because they come with the territory — meaning both the desert setting and the budget game one. I don’t mind the general simplicity and lack of depth of the game, because I fancy a simple and straightforward game as a refresher on a regular basis. Last but not least, I don’t mind the lo-fi graphics, because I’m a complete retro whore, and we all know it. 

 


Long story short: I adore Arc of Alchemist. It makes me feel things I don’t feel so often in games these days — wonderment, wanderlust, awe, and the general feeling of being nine years old and taking my first steps into the world of videogaming again. Heck, it makes me feel, full stop; and any game that does that is more than worthy of my undying love. So, what does my loving a nearly universally vilified game prove? Well, it proves that one gamer’s trash is another gamer’s treasure indeed, and that my faithful gaming instinct is the most reliable compass I could ever dream of. I won’t go and recommend AoA still, for fear of making my fellow gamers lose their hard-earned money; but heck, I won’t deny my vibrant feelings for that game, and I totally own them. Until more gaming goodness comes, dear fellow gamers, keep playing and take care!