Friday Favorites #8: Most Horrific Transformations

The Broodmother, Dragon Age: Origins 

The Broodmother was once an ordinary female dwarf, but Branka the Paragon let her be “fouled” by Darkspawn so that her transformation into a Broodmother could be studied. The Broodmother is a hideous mass of multi-breasted flesh that spawns more Darkspawn.

Continue reading Friday Favorites #8: Most Horrific Transformations

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Friday Favorites #7: Favorite Video Game Tropes

In no particular order:

1. Relationship Values

I like it when video games give you chances to deepen your bonds with other characters. Getting to know your party members better is often the best way to learn things about them that you otherwise would not.  

Favorite Examples: BioWare games, recent Persona and Fire Emblem games, and in Harvest Moon. 

2. Dialog Trees

Related to the above, dialog trees can be a lot of fun. I always like opportunities to impress my personality upon a game (those poor games). Dialog trees can impact a game’s story, characters, and endings. They can also affect what items you get and which areas you will go to. A nice addition to dialog trees is the integration of quick time events as seen in the Mass Effect series from 2 onward. These force you to make instinctual choices.

Favorite Examples: BioWare games, the Fallout series, Telltale’s games

3. Multiple Endings

I like these for similar reasons to the above tropes. What could be better than your decisions shaping your ultimate fate in a game? Of course, you run the risk of it not being the fate you want…

Favorite Examples: Shin Megami Tensei, Silent Hill

4. On-Rails Shooting Sections

(Possible?) Hot take: I like these when they pop up in third-person shooters and action games.

Favorite Examples: Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Uncharted

5. Training Modes That Teach You All of the Moves

These modes in fighting games seem to be unpopular with some, but I rather like them… until I get about halfway through a character’s move list. Then the combos start to make me crosseyed. 

Favorite Examples: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken

6. Create-a-Character

These can be fun to mess with for a while, especially to recreate characters from other sources, or to see what kind of twisted creations you can make…

Favorite Examples: Soulcalibur, WWE games

7. Randomized Dungeons

I like these in action-RPGs and roguelikes because they add some variety to the game.

Favorite Examples: Dark Cloud, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon

8. Skill Trees

The Sphere Grid

Skill trees may only offer an illusion of freedom, but I’ve loved them ever since I played Final Fantasy X. The more freedom, the better.

Favorite Examples: FFX, Tales of Xillia 1 and 2, Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra

What are your favorite game design tropes?

Friday (Least) Favorites #1: Game Tropes That Can Die in a Fire

Perhaps a more clickbaiting title would be better: Nine CRIPPLING Flaws You Won’t BELIEVE Video Games Get Away With!

I understand why these tropes exist, but that doesn’t make them much less annoying. 

1. Poor Checkpoint Placement and Restricted Saving

Checkpoints ain’t perfect. The ones that are placed just far enough apart to force you to replay segments over and over can annoy.

Saving restrictions are trickier to pin down. Some games implement it into the gameplay, like in the early Resident Evil games as a method of emphasizing the survival aspect. Other games can force you into replaying segments of the game if you don’t know how long it will be between save points. It seems that PC games (and sometimes their console ports) and handheld games have a slight advantage in this regard. Several PC games let you save wherever you want with numerous save slots, and plenty of handheld games are smart enough to let you at least make temporary saves, perfect for their portable nature.

2. Boss Rushes

I hate boss rushes. So much. Boss rushes clearly pad out a game, and can also be a right irritation. How much they bug you depends on how much you like the game, and its bosses. With that in mind, a boss rush in a Platinum game wouldn’t bother me, but a boss rush in a mean old game like Magician Lord would. I didn’t like ML much…

3. Overly Long Minigames

Minigames can be a welcome change of pace, but other times, they wear out their welcome. Take the shooter segment in Platinum’s otherwise-legendary Bayonetta… please.

Formulaic JRPG Blue Dragon is another example that offers up some on-rails shooter minigames. If you fail them, you have to start them all over again, bringing us back to the first entry on this list. However, they don’t last very long and they’re mostly optional in sidequests IIRC. 

At least Blue Dragon’s Mechat ship looks cute.

4. Controls You Can’t Fully CustomizePlease don’t force me to play with an inverted Y-axis. This quirk can dovetail with the previous entry on this list. 

5. Permanently Missable Content

This isn’t so bad in short games and/or games with new game plus, but when you’re two-thirds of the way through a long RPG like Final Fantasy VII…

Perhaps the remake will fix this. After all, does anyone really enjoy missing the Alexander summon on a slightly tedious snowswept mountain area?

6. Escort Missions

The classic. These don’t seem to be as much of a problem these days, however. But most developers didn’t take the time to make escort missions enjoyable outside of Resident Evil 4 and Ico.  

7. Trapped!

When a free-roaming game suddenly cuts you off from that sweet, sweet open world without warning.

8. Repetitive/Unskippable Dialog and Cutscenes

To be fair, some pieces of dialog bear repeating. But Fiona from the janky Mercenaries 2: World in Flames parrots the same tip and dialog whenever you start the game and leave your headquarters. Every. Single. Time. Hell is other people, truly. Another example (without voice acting) is Otis from Dead Rising. If you got interrupted while trying to hear an update from him on the transceiver, he would complain and start the dialog over again. Later games in the series fixed this.

9. Weird Achievements

I used to care a lot more about cheevos than I do now (caring about them too much almost ruined my gaming passion), but there are still some achievements that are lulzy, like zero-point achievements. Why. This is admittedly only a problem on Xbox; the PlayStation Trophy system assigns at least a small point value to your overall trophy level. I think I have a game that has a zero-pointer for getting all of the other Achievements. Madness. 

To a lesser extent, viral achievements which only unlock if you play against someone who already has the achievement and achievements that require you to play against someone on your friends list are nice in theory, but have issues in practice. There is no guarantee that you will be able to play against someone who has a viral achievement, and you may not have a friend who is willing and/or able to help you unlock certain achievements. Then there are the games with multiplayer achievements whose servers get shut down, making those achievements lost forever. Annual sports games are egregious in this aspect because last year’s game’s servers will get shut down to encourage people to buy the new game.

Finally, and this is an issue that existed before the Xbox 360’s Achievement system, the achievements that require you to fail. Do you intentionally fail to get as many cheevos as possible, and to work towards 100% completion? Do you intentionally let characters suffer and die to get all the endings? An example lies within the Resident Evil Outbreak games, some of the more obscure spinoffs in the series.


These games had Event Lists to track how much of each of the 10 scenarios (five per game) you have experienced. Dying at certain points and getting bad endings were requirements to fully complete the Event Lists.

I love achievement systems overall, but some achievements have flaws.

Well, there were some of my least favorite design decisions and nitpicks in games. What are some of yours?

Friday Favorites #6: Favorite Levels and Locations

Settings in video games are very important in terms of atmosphere, design, and storytelling. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII

Basically, a minigame town. The minigames include Mog House, which is like a brief virtual pet game, basketball, and arm wrestling. Though your first visit is probably the most impressive due to the minigames being their most fresh, subsequent visits will allow you to fight in a battle arena and race your own chocobos. The music is fun and peppy, too. 

It will be worth seeing how Gold Saucer will be presented in the FFVII remake… sometime in the next three years. :I

2. The Sunleth Waterscape, Final Fantasy XIII

The Sunleth Waterscape is a fun and beautiful place to explore with great music.

3. Fortune City, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

The sun may have set on Capcom’s open-world zombie-slaying series, but I’ll always have fond memories of the first few games (I’ve yet to play 3 and 4). Fortune City, an honage/parody of Las Vegas, allows DR2 to expand on the foundation of the first game. There are several secrets, weapons, slot machines, survivors, and psychopaths to find. The Off the Record rerelease adds a new area to Fortune City: Uranus Zone, a theme park.

4. Silent Hill

Silent Hill arguably had its strongest appeal with the first four games made by Team Silent. They created a town that was dark but atmospheric and compelling. It was also fun to explore parts of a city that you would never get to in real life. If Silent Hill is ever rebooted, whoever is in charge needs to portray the town as a character unto itself, and put real craft into designing it.

5. Raccoon City, various Resident Evil/Biohazard titles

Like Silent Hill, Raccoon City was once a nice, quiet little town with some dark secrets. Silent Hill still lingers somewhere out there, but Raccoon City met its apocalyptic end when the US government decided to nuke the town to contain the bio hazard outbreak plaguing it. 

Though RE/BH is more physical than metaphysical, exploring Raccoon City in such games as RE2, 3, and Outbreak has a similar appeal to Silent Hill in that we’re exploring places we’re not supposed to. Tee-hee! 

6. Dracula’s Castle, Castlevania/Vampire Killer

Dracula must have one hell of an interior design team, because every time a hero invades it, it has changed considerably. One consistent installation is the Clock Tower, featured in most CV games.

My first CV game was Symphony of the Night, so I’m partial to it. It’s one of my top five favorite games, and has my favorite vision of Dracula’s castle due to the atmosphere, enemies, and gorgeous music. Highlights include a creepy cavern; an underground water vein; a colosseum; a library; and the Royal Chapel. I ❤ the irony of Dracula having a chapel in his castle.

The stained glass in the background moves as you walk through the room. The effect blew me away when I first played through the game.

7. Melody Town, Kirby’s Epic Yarn

It has not come up much yet, but I loooove Kirby and his games. Melody Land is a very fun level in a very fun game. Imagine a stage in a platformer where every platform is a musical instrument that makes a sound when you interact with it. That’s Melody Land.

8. New York, Parasite Eve

The Chrysler Building

PE offered a recreated version of New York  with some landmarks to explore, which was pretty cool for a PS1 game.9. Rapture, BioShock

I really loved BioShock. Rapture was a gorgeous place to visit. The extremely well-done fire, ice, and water effects helped.

Perhaps one day, I will do a different version of this article for fighting game stages. 

What are your favorite locations in games?


Resident Evil Director’s Cut – Final Thoughts and Trivia

That was kind of fun, but also kind of difficult. The game is so tight with supplies that it emphasizes the survival aspect of survival horror. The backtracking got a little tedious. I can see why this game blew peoples’ minds back then, but I prefer Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis for the PS1 era of the series.

The voice actors apparently used pseudonyms.

One of the Tyrant’s attacks looked like the Shoryuken/Dragon Uppercut from Street Fighter.

I thought I would get graded on my playthrough, like in later RE games. I was expecting a terrible grade for saving so much. I used up almost every ink ribbon. Continue reading Resident Evil Director’s Cut – Final Thoughts and Trivia

Resident Evil Director’s Cut Part Two

 

August 24th, 2014: Your path through the mansion takes you out of the mansion and into… the Guard House on the mansion grounds.

I hate this place because I think I know what the game wants to do. So why doesn’t it just do it already?!

Brad called over the radio, but he could not hear Jill trying to respond to him.

The Guardhouse is full of weirdness like Plant 42, giant wasps, and sharks. When you drain the water in the rooms around the shark tank, the medium-sized shark and the two baby sharks just sort of flop around helplessly. Ha! Land animals, bitch. Continue reading Resident Evil Director’s Cut Part Two