Sonic the Hedgehog is Taco Bell

-by Dylan DiBona

I’ve got an imaginary wheel in my head spinning with tons of Sonic the Hedgehog topics. Do I ask if the original Genesis games were ever that great? Do I talk about the bizarrely terrible Sonic Underground cartoon? Do I compare the series to its old competitor Mario? I’ll just do them all right now.

Except Sonic Underground. I love and hate that show.

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If there was ever a Lindsey Lohan of video game mascots, it would unfortunately be Sonic. What was once a trusted face that acted as a seal of quality soon became a living meme on the internet. Bug-ridden games, awful concepts and controls and for some reason early 2000’s rock. Only the most dedicated of Sonic fans could find something to enjoy (granted there were the accidental two good games: Colors and Generations).

Don’t let the nature of my writing fool you though; I’ve only played Sonic 1 (beaten), half of Sonic 2 and currently Sonic Mania. I’m no scholar on the topic. But what happened? I like my Sonic old-school: chubby, stumpy legs and with loads of attitude. Why did he grow an extra two feet and change into some selfless good boy?

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No…

I’m at odds with myself. I should really not like Sonic. There are much better platformer series out there to play, but the times I do play Sonic (the older 2D games), I like it. Even though the main concept of going fast is NEVER utilized by the player and only triggered by environmental objects, Sonic has this charm and overall feel that is unique to the genre.

Levels are big with tons of pathways, gathering a bunch of rings can be a dangerous mission and finding those Chaos Emeralds is tricky! I find myself thinking a lot differently when I play Sonic compared to other platformers.

 

Even though I may not be a genius at Sonic, I do consider myself a prolific and knowledgeable player of the Super Mario games. You see, Mario isn’t as exciting as the blue blur, but he’s always been there and he’s always been pretty decent at his worst. In the past twenty years while Sonic has continuously tripped, we’ve gotten Super Mario Sunshine, both Galaxy games, 3D World and Super Mario Maker. I’m avidly disapproving of the New Super Mario Bros. series, but even those games can be solid with some friends. To me, a level in Mario is all about getting through a set path of obstacles with my skills and maybe finding a secret. A level in Sonic is all about running through a giant landscape and seeing what’s present while also going towards the end. If you look at it like this then I think it’s safe to say that Mario is almost objectively better as a platformer series. I came to a realization. Super Mario is Chipotle: quality ingredients, good taste and other than giving some people Ebola twice (New Super Mario Bros.) it’s trusted. Sonic the Hedgehog is Taco Bell: questionable ingredients, absolutely delicious, emphasis on aesthetic and flavor.

I love platformers. They are synonymous with video games in my head. Give me a handful of abilities and then test my skills to complete levels and find secrets: perfect. I thought I knew what I like and didn’t. I told myself that Sonic was trash and nostalgic icons such as Crash were infinitely better. Well guess what? After tons of hours with the Crash N Sane Trilogy, I realized I hate Crash! I guess what I’m saying is you’ll never know what you have a hidden affinity for unless you try it. I love Taco Bell.


Thank you guys so much for reading. Have a great latter half of the week!

Obesity: A Dark Side of Gaming [1/2]

-by Dylan DiBona

There I was in Costco, perhaps five or six years old, asking my father for a PlayStation 2. At the time, I had no idea what a PlayStation was, or video games, all I knew is I wanted a PlayStation 2. I don’t fully commit to the idea of “fate”, but if it does exist then there is no doubt in my mind that my ignorant asking for a PlayStation 2 was fate.

I love video games. I am willing to admit that I love video games over certain family members (the negligent ones of course). They distract me, they make me think, they make me excited and most importantly, they make me happy. But with any hobby, especially the stationary ones, they come with health problems.

The story I’m about to tell is 100% mine, and absolutely true. I don’t tell it as an attack on video games (obviously). I tell it to encourage and to warn people currently in the same position I once was, or people with children who are acting as I did.


Part One: The Gain

In my earliest days of playing video games, it was mainly a solitary act. I would stay in my room or basement for hours and occasionally my dad would sit down to watch me. Nobody in my family really took an interest in my main hobby. No one stopped me, but no one encouraged me either. I had a single friend down the block who also owned a PlayStation 2, I would watch him play at his house and we would go outside, reenacting the games best moments with our imagination. I was a relatively fit kid at that point. By the time I moved from that little neighborhood and closer to the city, gaming was my life. Xbox 360 was a thing, and so was playing games with your friends even when they weren’t with you through the power of the internet. I was the monkey on the cover of Roger Water’s Amused to Death; I stared at a screen constantly.

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Gaming was always something to revel in with my school friends, instead of running around at recess we would discuss the nights activities for Xbox Live. We would stay inside on hot summer days and play for hours either physically or technologically together.

I regrettably didn’t play any organized sports, but to be honest it wouldn’t have countered the vast amount of time me and my buddies were playing video games; all my friends played baseball or basketball and were still overweight. We were the fat kids, the ones who would always gather a bunch of processed snacks and played Halo or Minecraft during sleepovers. As for me, I was always the heaviest; I tried my best to hide it through the magic of loose fitting shirts and sucking in my gut.

Now obviously video games were not the only cause of our health problems, our parents should have regulated our diets and playing time a lot better, but this is where the story gets even worse.

All of those friends started to do the “normal” thing when we split up for high school. They went to co-ed schools while I went to an all male school. Due to the influence of pretty girls, video games and fatty foods took a backseat for them. They began to work out and play a little less, I didn’t. High school was a rough time for me. I didn’t really have any friends or even enemies; I was the invisible in-betweener who was always there but irrelevant. While my friends were out getting girlfriends or going to the gym, I was still playing video games like that mindless thirteen year old.

The loneliness of high school drove me into my hobby more; I went from seeing my best friends every day to seeing them on a lucky weekend. It was around this same time that I discovered the YouTube gaming community, and that my pile of games wasn’t just a bunch of stuff, it was a collection. All these elements culminated into the absolute worst form of myself; at age eighteen I was a whopping 330 pounds and only 5’11 (not that any height justifies that weight). Staircases felt like challenges, gym class was Hell, and for my high school graduation I wore a size 50 pair of pants. It felt terrible when on one episode of The Cleveland Show, the main character was struggling to get into his pants, stating “Come on! These are a size fifty, these have to fit!”; that was a middle aged man and here I was matching his pant size before hitting twenty.

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“Why exercise when I could be an amazing warrior?” Skyrim was one of the many games I used to escape my dire situation.

I hated going to the doctor, but before entering college it was necessary. He said the one horrifying combination of two words I had deluded myself into thinking wouldn’t apply to me:

Morbidly Obese

It hurt. He warned me of upcoming sicknesses and trials that would follow if I stayed on this route. He spoke to me as if I was already done for. I wanted to cry, but instead I hated myself. I still played my games and still ate horribly. My dad would make huge dinners every night and when I got home around 3:30 every day, I ate a meal. But that was too early, so when I got hungry again around 9 or 10 at night, I would eat another dinner and maybe go to sleep after some more video games. To say it was a terrible cycle is to be understating it. I was going to have momentous health issues if I didn’t wake up.

After that summer I packed up my bags and went off to dorm in college, absolutely overweight and with new braces on my teeth to make things worse for my confidence. College is where my path began to change; it’s one of the few times where I’ve heard of more pain actually doing somebody some good. I’ll get to that next time…

Don’t forget to check out Part 2 soon.


Does anybody else here have a similar story? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

Does the Gaming Market Need More Infinite Games?

-by Dylan DiBona

We’re used to the traditional forms of success in our market; if a product sales meet or surpass expectations, a sequel will arise. It was a way of telling fans “Thanks, here’s some more!” As time went on, consumers berated the entertainment market for endless sequels, spin-offs and reboots; for a decent period of time, that seemed to be all we had. Other than interactivity, gaming has one unique feature that other forms of entertainment do not, the ability to update a product.

There are games out in the market in which their respective developers continuously add more to. For a lack of a better term, let’s call these “Infinite” games. Of course the forefather of infinite games in today’s market is Minecraft by Mojang.

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While I’m not a player of present-day Minecraft, I must applaud Mojang for their nonstop dedication to their smash hit. The team had made a literally endless game, and with all the updates and new content, I’m pretty certain that some people would be continuously entertained if Minecraft was the only video game they could play in their lives.

I’d like to know how Minecraft is affecting Mojang today. Obviously they’re financially successful, but are they bored of the same game? Are they scared to move on? Why won’t they make a sequel? We’re going to be focusing on the last question today.

If you took the vanilla version of Minecraft and compared it to today’s version, they could be four or five sequels apart in terms of content. Maybe Mojang has a few masterminds in its offices that planned to have one massive market surrounding a single product. This inspires other games like the critical flop No Man’s Sky and my personal darling, Stardew Valley. Made by only one man, Stardew Valley has grown to have its own big market as well, people were in love with the game so much when it came out, that they bought extra copies for people who couldn’t afford it at the time.

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This makes me think of the Minecraft community, a group of people just building, discovering and imagining. Both of these communities (and even the genuine fans of No Man’s Sky) are positive influences, and I can’t help but feel that it’s a direct cause from these infinite games. It’s nice to not have to worry about buying a new sequel every year, to be able to have a single favorite video game that keeps introducing new things.

While the gaming market may not be stimulated by annual sequels because of these infinite games, it makes consumers happy; which at the end of the day will have a positive influence on both community and sales. Part of me does want to see Mojang move on or just release a Minecraft 2, but I’m fine with how things are now.


So what do you guys think about infinite games? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading!

How Persona 5 Ruined Persona 3 for Me

-by Dylan DiBona

Not much compares to the high I got from binging Persona 5 for six or seven hours a day. I had no job, enough money to live and a PlayStation 4 connected to a nice television. I was in love with the game; everything from the aesthetics and gameplay just did it for me. After finishing it came the inevitable emptiness and existential ennui. But wait, everybody online praises Persona 3; some people even prefer the dark tone of 3 when compared to 5! I thought I had another gem on my hands, and maybe I do but it’s rough by today’s standards.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is an interesting game solely for the reason of its influence on later Persona games. Things like “Social-Links” became a thing and soon the series felt like playable anime. I give credit to Persona 3 for this and also for still being somewhat unique for its tone.

I read somewhere that the brighter and much yellower sequel Persona 4 was designed in such a way to act as an opposite for the dark and suicidal themes of Persona 3. If this is true, I don’t know; but the third entry is a dark blue, jazz-pop filled bag of creepiness. I’m all down for something as different as that, but what really hurts this particular game is it’s sequels Persona 4 and 5.

 

Persona 4 is where things got a bit more cheery. Sure you were solving a murder case, but your friends were sillier, had more of an “anime-ness” to them and a good amount of energy. Same with 5 which is all about the colors and explosive pop of powerful characters. Nobody in my two and a half hours of Persona 3 even looked as interesting as somebody from the latter two games. I know, that amount of time is absolutely nothing for these types of games, but I can’t lie and say it didn’t discourage me.

Even worse are the mechanics. I was shocked to find out that in Persona 3 you can’t give commands to your teammates in battle (only yourself), leaving you with 1/4th the amount of gameplay of almost any other JRPG. I don’t understand this design choice, and I especially don’t understand not being able to shut it off.

I would be able to power through any less than exciting characters, but such a gameplay flaw? I can’t, not for 70-100 hours. Persona 5 is one of those examples of a new entry in a series doing everything almost flawlessly, that I just didn’t care enough to play it’s predecessor. It’s a shame honestly.


Have any of you guys had a similar experience? Sometimes sequels completely ruin original works! Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. Sorry for the short post today. As always, thanks for reading and have a good weekend!

What Are Your Thoughts on Grinding?

-by Dylan DiBona

A simple roadblock often happens in JRPGs and RPGs alike; you fight your way through the small baddies and finally come across a boss, and when you fight the boss you get absolutely wrecked. So what is a simple fix? Go back and kill more minions until you level up a few times! For some, this is boring and repetitive, but for others this is a way of getting more playtime out of their games. This concept is “grinding”, but is it a bad thing?

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Persona 4, a game I adore was a necessary grindfest at times

My opinion on grinding is kind of like a see-saw; some days I accept and even like the concept while others I despise it like I always have. I’ll never forget having a discussion with a high-school acquaintance about Pokémon when emulators on iPhones became a big deal. It went something like this (The non-bold text is me):

“I bet you’re the type of guy who tries to avoid battles.”

“They’re annoying! They break the flow of the game.”

“Battles are the game!”

It’s such a simple concept but it’s true. I’ve never really heard anybody praise JRPG overworlds; those compliments are usually saved for 3D platformers and Zelda games. The overworld and towns are merely a point of conveyance and comfort to the player. Nobody says “I can’t wait to pick up Final Fantasy VI to explore the world!” Sure, exploring is a beautiful and essential part of the package, but it’s the new party members and abilities that are the meat of the game. Grinding does break the flow of narrative, but is it a sign of an unbalanced game?

JRPGs are usually all about the numbers so let’s keep with that trend. If you’re exploring a dungeon and the enemies are all about level 5 but the boss is level 10, that isn’t too bad. In fact it’s more than likely that the developers intended for you to spend some extra time killing monsters and gaining new abilities. But if said level 5 weaklings are accompanied by a level 16 boss, then something is wrong. There’s too much of a gap between numbers and therefore abilities. A boss should never obliterate your party in seconds; instead they should seem just slightly out of your reach but possible with some training.

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Due to budget and time constraints, the original NES version of Dragon Quest II is unbelievably unbalanced towards the end.

The quicker games like Chrono Trigger don’t require  any grinding at all unless you’re strategically avoiding enemies on the field. For some, this is a point of praise because this means that Chrono Trigger is streamlined and almost deliberately designed with every step. This is the same genre that once had extremely hard to find directions, so add on some necessary grinding and you may have yourself an obnoxious experience.


So what do you guys think about grinding? Let me know down below and I’ll do my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading.

Dragon Quest V and Perfection

Perfection: isn’t it the very thing that all artists strive for? I understand if your answer is no, but I don’t believe that any creator doesn’t at least think once about making something perfect. It takes a truly unique person to want flaws in something they put their heart and souls into. So what the heck am I getting at?

As a creator myself, I’ve been struggling with the concept of perfection; does it even really exist? To some people, Citizen Kane is the perfect piece of cinema because of the way it’s shot, but to me part of a good movie is an interesting story and Kane just didn’t have that. Everybody wants something different from specific mediums and that’s why we can’t have an objective example of perfection.

Within all my days of gaming I really have only seen one example of a perfect game. By that I mean a title has a mix of exciting, fun and fulfilling gameplay and narrative. Not every song on the soundtrack has to be groundbreaking and memorable, not every second has to be blissful; to ask for that is to ask for the impossible. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the only perfect video game I’d played. And then I played Dragon Quest V.

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In the past I’ve described myself as “addicted to the sense of progression”. I stand by that remark and it’s the cause of my recent JRPG addiction. Seeing numeric evidence of my progression is immensely satisfying.

After finishing Dragon Quest I on my phone and then falling in love with Dragon Quest IV on my DS, I decided it was time to jump into a fan favorite, the fifth entry.

For 1992 DQV was an ambitious title. Yes you’ll still get those same sound effects, themes and monsters since Dragon Quest is all about traditionalism. But there are some ideas truly unique to this entry.

For one, the story takes you through the life of one man, from infancy to parenthood. You explore a vast world and by talking to everybody you see connections everywhere, it feels organic. You can choose a wife, name your kids and talk to your party members anytime for witty dialogue or tips. This isn’t a series usually praised for its narrative, and yet Dragon Quest V sports one of the greatest stories I’ve seen in video games. Yes it’s the classic “evil being wants to destroy mankind” but it’s the sprinkles and toppings that make the sundae complete.

From a gameplay side, we have the very mechanic that inspired Pokemon, yes Pokemon. You don’t always have humans to fight by your side in DQ V, so you can actually recruit monsters to fight alongside you. Side note: I find it a bit cooler than Pokemon to actually fight with your monsters instead of having them do all your bidding for you.

If you remember my Dragon Quest IV article, you may recall that my only complaint was a lack of guidance; too many times did I have to look up what to do or where to go. The fifth entry solves that with not only the aforementioned party member dialogue but a fortuneteller as well. So what do we have here?

  • Monster catching alongside traditional parties- exciting, fun and fulfilling.
  • A narrative that takes you throughout one persons whole life- exciting fun and fulfilling.

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For the second time in my life I’ve played a video game that was perfect. I won’t spoil a thing, but the option of three wives leaves me with a severe desire to revisit the game. There are still stones left unturned, dungeons left unexplored and I’m sure secret bosses alive. I will revisit Dragon Quest V annually like I do with Majora’s Mask. I like to challenge my idea of perfection: at one point I thought The Wind Waker was a perfect game, but now I do not.

Dragon Quest V is not only the greatest JRPG I’ve ever played, it’s quite possibly the best game I’ve played.


So guys how many games have you played that deserve the title perfect? Do you think perfection can even exist in our medium? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

The Golden Age of JRPGs

-by Dylan DiBona

Not too many genres really get a “golden age” within gaming; a golden age being a time period where plentiful high quality games of a specific genre come out. Some would say the Nintendo 64 singlehandedly ushered in a golden age of 3D-Platformers with Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie, Donkey Kong 64, Conker, etc.

At the 2017 E3 Conference, JRPGs were absolutely not in the spotlight, in fact the only ones I believe were present were remakes of Radiant Historia and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey on 3DS. It’s a tough pill to swallow but this genre is back to being niche and no so relevant with American audiences. It’s an odd thought because of all genres, JRPGs may just have had the longest and strongest golden age in gaming history.

The 16-Bit Former Half

While I acknowledge and endlessly respect the NES era of JRPGs for starting franchises such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, let’s be frank, those games have been topped. It just took a bit more technology to finally catch up with the imagination of developers.

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My personal favorite of this time period

Do I need to list off the obvious names like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI? What about games like Lufia, Terranigma or Illusion of Gaia?

I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of this era mostly because I haven’t played, beaten or enjoyed enough games from it.

If you were the type of person who just loved leveling up and gobbled up any JRPG story or gameplay, there was so much to play. Unlike the few other golden ages I can think of, the JRPG golden age actually jumped into the next generation of gaming.

 Three Dimensional Latter Half

It’s amazing to think of how many SNES JRPGs even got localized in North America, but it’s often times stated that the genre didn’t break out in the country until the PlayStation release of Final Fantasy VII. With such a huge list of titles, you couldn’t possible go one month without a JRPG without some sense of quality.

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There was the obscure Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy Tactics and Grandia. Whether it be huge franchises or small little titles, the genre could not be avoided.

While some years were surely better than others, you could argue that the golden age of JRPGs lasted between 1991 and 2000. That long reign is quite the feat when you consider the status of the genre today.

With games like I am Setsuna Lost Odyssey and Bravely Default, it’s obvious that there are developers who remember these games and want to bring them into the modern age. It’s a true shame that the genre is struggling to gain a good reputation again, but let us not forget one of the most important eras in video game history.


So what do you guys think about the golden age of JRPGs? Funny enough, most of my favorite games of the genre come after this time period! Let me know your thoughts down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

Sequels in the NES Era

-by Dylan DiBona

I’ve spoken about sequels plenty of times here on PlayingWithThought; it’s a topic that really intrigues me as a creator. There are so many different philosophies that can be put into a sequel. Do you copy what you did the first time? How much can you add onto the original formula without it being too different? Back when home console gaming was getting a resurgence thanks to the Nintendo Entertainment System, developers clearly had a tough time answering these questions. It’s why we got so many “black sheeps” in long standing franchises.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term black sheep, it essentially means an installment in a series that is different from its predecessors and or sequels. This happened a lot back in the eighties, as developers didn’t want to just rehash old ideas.

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Castlevania II Simon’s Quest is the definition of a game coming out too soon. While this entry has obvious problems like AI lying to its players and no guidance at all, the non-linearity is an element of Castlevania that fans and critics praise today. I’m not defending this game because I hate the necessity of walkthroughs; I’m merely bringing it up because Konami found success with a linear platformer and decided to go the opposite direction. Why?

We all know the story behind Super Mario Bros 2 and Doki Doki Panic. Most people know about Zelda II: Adventure of Link. Isn’t it fascinating that even Nintendo themselves decided to forsake formula at one point? One of the biggest complaints towards the company from outsiders is their over-reliance of old IP’s. Would the NES have been an even bigger success if we got true sequels instead of weirder ones?

Personally, I miss this antiquated approach to sequels. For some series I wouldn’t prefer it, but for others why not? Are there any clear examples of a black sheep video game today?

Although it’s fourteen years old today, the first game that came to mind was Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories. The original game on PlayStation 2 was an Action-JRPG, almost a hack ‘n slash at times; then we get a 2D pixel game on GameBoy Advance that uses a card-based battle system.

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So not only does this game not play like the original, it doesn’t even look or sound like it.

What’s really interesting in this case is that Chain of Memories actually introduces vital characters and story elements to the franchise while being the black sheep. We haven’t seen a Chain of Memories-esque card system return to the series, which really makes you wonder what Square Enix was thinking at the time.

Black sheep sequels are not a bad thing at all, they encourage creativity within development teams. Sequels today are often scolded for playing it too safe. It’s when developers take the halfway point between reusing ideas and coming up with completely new ones that sequels find overwhelming success.

So while sequels in the NES era were handled quite differenkyt, I wouldn’t mind seeing some developers take the same road as Square Enix and try something completely different with existing franchises. Who knows, they might strike gold.


So what do you guys think about sequels in the NES era? What do you think about black sheep? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

Why I Can’t Get Into Final Fantasy

-by Dylan DiBona

Zelda comes to mind when you think action-adventure, Mario when you think platformer, and more than likely Final Fantasy when you think JRPG.

Have you ever had a video game series you so desperately wanted to like, but just couldn’t? A prime example for me is Square Enix’s Final Fantasy.

Now before we delve in I want to make my experience with the series known. Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, VI VII, IX, X, and XV; I have tried by giving almost every one of those games hours of my time, and they just don’t do it for me. The ones I did end up liking (obviously not enough to see the credits) were I, IV, VII, and XV. Hell I’ve even tried Tactics a few times (didn’t get very far) and I’m always shocked by just how many people praise its complexity. The things I list and discuss are not objective flaws, just things that keep me from enjoying these games as much as others.

Active Time Battle

A battle scene, with four of the heroes on the right and two larger four-footed monsters on the left. The figures are displayed on a green field with mountains in the background, and the names and status of the figures is displayed in blue boxes in the bottom third of the screen.

So one common complaint from non-JRPG fans is the “boring” feel of turn-based fighting. Okay, fair enough. So how do you alleviate that? By creating a battle system in which time is always moving and you always have to think.

It sounds great on paper, but every time I actually experienced it, I didn’t have fun. In Final Fantasy games you can usually set your battles to “Wait” or “Active”. Active allows enemies to constantly attack you while you’re selecting a move, in exchange your teammates will always be charging up for their next move. Wait makes it so time freezes while you’re selecting a move, allowing you to strategize a bit better. While I prefer Wait mode for the ability to think harder, I never found the idea of time to be engaging in battle. Waiting for the bars to fill up never makes me excited, it makes me impatient. I actually don’t get how this battle system is supposed to be more exciting than traditional ones, when you still spend most of your time waiting.

In Chrono Trigger it’s not terrible and the same with I am Setsuna, but in my experiences those games were a bit easier than the early Final Fantasy titles. If you purchase Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation 4, you get the option to basically cheat the game in three different ways. You can speed up the game, make it so everybody is always healed, or have everybody’s Limit bar filled. Some battles got so boring I had to keep the speed up feature on.

There is a bit of contradiction in my complaints though; as I’ve said that the ATB isn’t even that different from traditional battles, it was still enough of a bother that I had to note it. It’s like being handed a green apple when you wanted a red one; they may look similar, have the same texture, but there’s a clear difference once you start eating.

Melodrama

Okay I have what is probably a very rare opinion, but Episode VII of Star Wars is my favorite. Why? Because it’s a Marvel movie. By that I mean the film conveyed a serious story of conflict, while taking breaks during action for a sense of comedy and humanity, much like the classic superhero brand. One minute in Persona 4 you’re trying to stop a serial killer, the next and you’re having a swimsuit competition at school. Final Fantasy doesn’t have too much of this.

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Now that’s not to say the series doesn’t have a few light moments, it does. When you throw at me with every game a new kingdom, cast of characters and antagonist, I need some reasons to care. Show me that these are people. In the Tales series you can stop exploring for a second and speak to your teammates, usually for humorous reasons but every now and then for serious ones. In the recent Fire Emblem games you can do the same thing as well.

It’s this constrained sense of seriousness that makes people look in any direction for a joke, and that’s why they pounced over the awkward Tidus laugh scene in X.

Turtles Pace

Out of curiosity I decided to start up Super Mario RPG on SNES, in less than five minutes I was already in a battle with Bowser. The game begins you on a straight path, teaching you how to battle.

Final Fantasy VI does practically the same thing, straight path to a cave. FFVI is marginally slower than Super Mario RPG. Maybe it goes back to the Active Time Battle System, but some of these games feel as slow as dripping molasses.

I hate disliking things, and I wouldn’t say I avidly dislike the Final Fantasy franchise, it’s just something I wish I could enjoy as much as others.


Any diehard Final Fantasy fans want to counter my complaints? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.

This article is a part of JRPG JULY, a celebratory month where I post JRPG themed articles every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Five Gaming YouTubers Worth Watching

-by Dylan DiBona

Once 2010 hit, everybody had a camera in their household. This turned the internet into a cesspool of videos; some funny gems, but most were low quality, repetitive or simply not noteworthy. With an overabundance of let’s players and reviewers, it’s hard to really pick out the best of the bunch. The five YouTubers I’m about to list have content that I have binged, content I come back to over and over again. I prefer these videos to television because they’re centered around my passions, our passion- video games. These are in no order of greatness, it’s just a simple list.

 

The Gaming Historian

(Genre: Educational)

Comedy gaming videos seem to be the main attraction on YouTube, and that’s fair enough; who doesn’t like gaming and laughing? I’m of the belief that, if you have a passion for something, you should have a suitable knowledge of it. If you want to know more about gaming in the early eras, urban legends and obscure titles, look no further than The Gaming Historian.

Norman aka The Gaming Historian, puts together videos of varying lengths with a goal to educate viewers on interesting gaming topics of yesteryear. Don’t worry, it’s not a snooze fest; the editing and layout of every video makes absorbing the facts fun and entertaining. It’s fascinating to learn how the ESRB was formed because of the United States government threatening the video game industry in court, or how Nintendo was sued for its Donkey Kong license “infringing” on the King Kong name. It’s fun but most importantly, educational.

 

Satchbag’s Goods

(Genre: Analysis)

Of all the channels I’ll list, this one is my favorite. It’s not only a shame that YouTuber Satchell doesn’t have more subscribers, but it’s also saddening that the gap between new videos can be unbearably long. What Satchell does here is something truly distinctive and monumental; he doesn’t look at video games, he looks at interactive entertainment. In his most fleshed out series, Case Study, he’ll examine a game and go insanely in-depth with how said game rewards its users.

I go back to these videos all the time, watching each Case Study more than once for a boost of inspiration. Satchell had inspired me to try and take games up a notch in the eyes of the public. This is a smart man making videos worth being shown in game design classes. It’s not like Game Theory where MatPat brings outside science and knowledge to explain in-game theories; Satchell is discussing the science of interaction. I really only recommend this channel if you agree with the theme on my home page, video games are more than just games.

 

Smooth McGroove

(Genre: Music)

Maybe it’s his majestic vocal chords or the inevitable nostalgia, but Smooth McGroove can attract an audience with incremental variety, even people who don’t play games anymore. Mr. Mcgroove or Max, takes old video game songs and recreates them in acapella form! He has no group, it’s all him singing. There’s really not much else to it. It’s a simple channel, one that can either excite you every time a new video comes out, or one you can play in the background while studying.

I love listening to original game songs and then jumping to Smooth’s version, just to hear the way he always accurately translates the tune. It’s always an astounding and enjoyable experience. Luckily he has tons of videos to keep you busy, and it can put you onto some great video game music!

 

Game Grumps (JonTron Era)

(Genre: “Let’s Play”)

I was thinking about adding JonTron’s true channel, but there’s another channel where you can see Jon Jafari be himself, Game Grumps. Now let me just say, nothing is really wrong with modern day Game Grumps (in which Dan Avidan took over Jon’s spot after leaving), but back in it’s first year the channel really had this feeling of two friends on a couch burping, farting, swearing and playing video games. And guess what? You could be part of the fun too!

Arin aka Egoraptor (famous for his video game cartoon series Awesome) is still on the show today, but back in the Jon era Arin was calmer and realer, which melded well with Jons crazier antics. Aside from the hysterical jokes, the duo would occasionally debate on certain game design topics (an aspect long dead on the show), or just tell interesting stories from their last. Do yourself a favor, go to the Game Grumps channel and go to their earliest videos. After discovering them almost three years ago, I still go back to the Jon era videos, they’re absolutely golden.

 

Brutalmoose

(Genre: Comedy)

I grew up a console gamer and still predominately play on then today. There’s nothing like sitting on the couch, flicking a switch and holding a controller, all while staring at a big screen. I’ve never been well versed in PC gaming, and only really played the educational games available at elementary school. Luckily for me, Ian aka Brutalmoose continuously pumps out PC game reviews. What really sets Ian’s channel apart is his style and delivery; most YouTube gaming comedians try to shock you with hyper-active silly jokes, but Ian has a very sarcastic, dry and witty sense of humor.

He also does old television show segments called Televoid, which are just as enjoyable, and the occasional review of a modern game as well. Luckily his personality works with these shows too. One of the best aspects of the Brutalmoose channel is the upload speed. You can expect around two high quality videos in a month. I usually take a few months absence from Ian’s videos, but then go on week long binges, and every time I do I crack up.


I hope you guys enjoyed the wide variety of YouTubers I listed! I think that most people correlate YouTube and gaming with comedy, but there’s so much more out there. Are there any gaming YouTubers you want to suggest in the comments below? Let me know and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.