The Games of Summer: 2016-2017

From CRPG Adventures

I’ve done one of these posts over the last few holiday seasons, so I figured I might as well make it an annual tradition. Usually summer finds me playing a lot of games, but not doing much in the way of writing and blogging. This year was no different. These are the games that have been keeping me occupied, and holding up the blog.

Final Fantasy 1 and 2: Smartphones are great for portable gaming, but I find that most modern phone games don’t really do it for me. So rather than limit myself to what’s available on the Android store, I downloaded a NES emulator and have been running through the first two games in the Final Fantasy series.  The first game is a cracker. It draws heavily from Ultima and Wizardry, and provides a really complete RPG experience for 1987. I can’t think of any areas that it’s weak in, to be honest, and it avoids a lot of the over-linearity that plagues later JRPGs. Final Fantasy 2 (I’m playing a fan translation of the Japanese game, which was never officially released in English in its original form) has much more of a story focus, and although the combat and magic are similar the character advancement is completely different (FF1 had classes and levels, whereas FF2 has skills that level up through use). It’s refreshingly open world – my first foray into the wilderness ended when I wandered into an area full of monsters that I had no business fighting yet. It’s not as immediately enjoyable as FF1, and I’m starting to lose my grip on the story a bit, but there’s a lot of potential.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: I’m a bit of a Zelda nut, but I’d taken a fairly long hiatus from the series after Wind Waker (which I loved). I spent much of the early part of last year completing Twilight Princess (which is good but too long) and now I’m trying to wrap up Skyward Sword before the new game comes out. I like it, but it’s lacking a lot of the exploratory fun of the older games in the series. There’s also a lot of backtracking, and it can get tedious playing through the same areas over again. The motion controls for sword-fighting are really well done, though. There’s a lot of clever stuff in this game, but it doesn’t really give me what I’m looking for in a Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Recently I got bitten by the retro collector bug, as well as the authenticity bug, so I acquired an old CRT television. Now I have my old consoles ready to hook up to it, and I’m planning to play through all of my childhood games before building up my collection. I decided to start with Ocarina, mostly because I couldn’t find the cord to my Super Nintendo which meant that I wasn’t able to play A Link to the Past. (Yes, A Link to the Past is better than Ocarina of Time. Why is this even a debate?) Ocarina basically ruled my life for a good chunk of the late 90s, and I remember it very well. I thought I’d discovered everything in it, but this time around I’m still finding new stuff. It’s a little ropier than I remembered, but then again it is nearly 20 years old. It holds up remarkably well.

I’ve also been watching quite a bit of FIFA ’17, as my son plays it a lot, as well as playing Moria of course.  This might seem like a lot of games to have on the go simultaneously, but it’s not so bad.  I have a phone game for when I’m out of the house, a game connected to the main home TV, a game to play on my CRT when the main TV is being used, and a game to play on my laptop for the blog.  I’m just covering all of my bases.

As for Moria, I have a character who just became Guild Master of the Circle of Wizards, the second time I’ve achieved that mark. I might be jinxing myself here, but I’m making good progress. I’ve also started on Oubliette, another PLATO RPG, so expect a post on that fairly soon.

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