Final Fantasy VII: Optional Characters
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 June 2014, 2:52 pm
Let's talk about Yuffie and Vincent, the optional characters in Final Fantasy VII.  I decided to use Yuffie as part of my core team in this playthrough.  I found her early and she's been in my party as much as possible since then.  I've never used her this much before and it's interesting to see the dialog she adds to scenes.  I really like her.



It often feels like she's outside the main story, but in an interesting way.  She has off-handed comments about the choices characters are making.  Although she doesn't directly break the fourth wall I feel myself relating to her because of these asides.

Her motivations aren't as complicated as the other characters, and it makes her easy to like.  She doesn't have angst or conflicting memories and emotions.  She wants Materia and she'll do whatever she needs to do to get it.  Maybe I just like her because I'm also on the hunt for Materia and I want to collect it all!  She's also the closest thing to a ninja in the FFVII universe, so that's cool.

On the other hand, Vincent is a little too serious for me.  He's very brooding and doesn't have a lighthearted bone in his body.  His story is more directly related to the main story than Yuffie's is, so he definitely has to be more serious.  I just didn't find him as enjoyable to have in my main party.  He gets to wait on the sidelines.



There are a few times that specific characters need to be in the party for quests.  Whenever that isn't the case my main party is now Cloud, Tifa, and Yuffie.  I'm probably going to keep it that way until the end of the game.

I'm now sitting at 20 hours of play time and I'm on disc 2 out of 3.


Final Fantasy VII: Open Worlds and Shining Systems
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 June 2014, 12:00 pm
I got out of Midgar and took a metaphorical breath of fresh air.  Finally!  The open world lay before me and I was going to explore it.  And explore it I have.

Compared to the last time I posted I'm having so much more fun with Final Fantasy VII.  I love the feel of an open world to explore in a JRPG.  It's a different feeling from an open world game from the west like GTA, Assassin's Creed, or Skyrim.  It's more abstracted and not as detailed, but it has it's unique charm.



I've been having fun wandering the overworld map and battling random enemies.  I've actually started hunting for enemy skills to acquire, which is something I don't typically do in Final Fantasy games.  Blue magic typically seems boring to me, but I'm interested since it's contained in a Materia this time.  I haven't really been grinding so much as exploring more than I strictly need to.  I just want to take in the world and poke at it's boundaries.

I also feel like this gives the story a better pace.  No longer am I constantly getting exposition info dumps from the characters.  The story is growing more organically and the overworld portions break it up nicely.

The most fun I've had so far is really getting a chance to play with the battle/materia system.  The battle system is a fairly standard ATB system from other Final Fantasy games.  Three characters are in your party and they each get to take an action when their ATB meter fills up.  They also have Limit Breaks, which are super powerful abilities that charge up each time the character takes damage.



In the open world, with random battles, there's some room to experiment and the Materia system starts to shine.

Materia is the unique aspect of FFVII.  Attack, Defend, and Item are always available to each character.  To use any other ability or Magic that character needs to equip Materia.  Each weapon and piece of armor comes with a number of slots that will hold Materia for that character.  Materia comes in the form of spheres that each have a unique ability.  For example, each spell type is its own Materia.  If you equip Lightning Materia on Cloud he will be able to cast the magic spell Bolt.  If that Materia goes through enough battles it will gain experience and level up.  At that point Cloud will be able to cast Bolt and also Bolt2, a powered up version of the first spell.



The interesting part of Materia is that it's independent of characters.  I can level up a set of Materia on Cloud and then move it all to Tifa and she will have the exact same skillset and abilities that he used to have.  It makes for a lot of customization options.  It also encourages playing around with different set ups since you don't have to permanently commit Materia to one person.

I've been switching Materia and characters a lot up to this point.  I'm not sure who my core team is going to be yet.  Cloud is obvious.  I'm leaning toward Tifa as my second.  In past playthroughs I've used Barret as my third, but he's not as appealing to me this time around.  Maybe I'll try one of the optional characters in that spot because I never have before.

Overall my opinion is much improved over my first post.  I don't know when I'll chime in next, but I'll definitely have more thoughts on FFVII for you later.


Final Fantasy VII Initial Impressions: Midgar
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 June 2014, 11:33 am


I'm currently about 8 hours into my playthrough of Final Fantasy VII and my feelings are mixed.  This is the third time I've played this game, and it will be the second time I've played it all the way to the end.  The last time I played was over ten years ago on the original Playstation.  This time I'm playing that same version, but through the PS1 classic option on my Playstation Vita.  I still have memories of all the major characters and plot points, but the nitty gritty details are slowly coming back to me as I play.

My first reaction with the intro sequence was, "Wow! Here we go!"  I love the very beginning of the game where Cloud leaps off a train and charges directly into a raid on a Mako reactor.  What a way to start!  Get the player engaged with no downtime or preamble.  This is done extremely well.

My second reaction, after the Mako reactor raid, was one of surprised frustration.  I had forgotten how linear and scripted Midgar is.  Midgar, for those who don't know, is the megacity in the world of FFVII and it's where you spend the first portion of the game.  There is basically only one way forward, it's explicitly spelled out, and it's full of exposition.  My god, the exposition.  It's a huge info dump early in the game and it definitely hurts the pacing.



Very quickly I started looking forward to leaving Midgar and getting to the open world.  Unfortunately, I forgot just how long Midgar takes to play through.  It's easily the first 6 hours of the game.  And that's for someone who has played through it before and knows what to do.

Now don't get me wrong, Midgar is an interesting setting.  The energy-sucking megacity is imposing and impressive.  The set pieces and backgrounds are beautiful and still hold up today.  They are extremely detailed because the game has a fixed camera position, which means each background can be hand drawn with great precision.  It looks great!  But, essentially, it's a straight path.  It actually made me think of the endless corridors of FFXIII even though it wasn't quite that linear.

My other initial letdown was with the character models.  In my mind's eye, with nostalgia in full-force, the characters were expressive and unique.  In reality, they are blocky polygons with hooves for hands.  You can barely see their eyes most of the time, much less their facial expressions.  I know there are some mods out for the PC version that helps this out but since I'm playing the PS1 classic version on my Vita it doesn't help me.



So, what's to like?  The characters are deeper and more developed than any other Final Fantasy game up to this point.  The battle system and materia system are interesting, but at this point in the game they haven't had quite enough time to become fun.  The set-pieces and setting are well done and memorable.  The story is epic in scope.

At 8 hours in I still feel like I'm just getting to some of the main story hooks.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just a change from previous games.

My initial impressions with FFVII weren't great.  This is basically how I felt for the first 6 hours of the game.  But now I'm a few hours past Midgar and I'm having a lot more fun with the game.  Expect more thoughts on that in the next post, once I've had more time to explore the open world.


Rapid Fire Gaming
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 May 2014, 11:16 pm
While I've been taking this short break from my Final Fantasy Project I've mostly been playing Chrono Trigger, but that's not all.  In anticipation of the next couple Final Fantasy games I picked up a Playstation Vita (to play FFVII through FFX).  I've had an active PS Plus subscription for awhile so I had a bunch of free Vita games waiting for me when I bought it.  I've been trying out all of the games I could download through PS Plus and I picked up a few others too... so here are my rapid-fire impressions.

Keep in mind, I think I only spent about $15 total (besides my Vita bundle) to get these games.

Thomas Was Alone
This is a fantastic platformer.  I never thought a bunch of rectangles could get me emotionally invested.  Easily one of the top games on this list for me.  If you are a platformer fan, Thomas Was Alone is probably on a console/PC that you own and you should buy it.  I fully endorse Thomas Was Alone.

Luftrausers
I actually spent money on this one.  It's a really fun arcade style plane flying / bullet dodging shooter.  It's lots of fun, especially in short bursts.  If you see it on sale for $5-$10 buy it.

Gravity Rush
Surprisingly good game that I had no prior knowledge of.  You can defy gravity and fly around a floating town.  It's fun and it looks like a full console game.  Great visuals.

Borderlands 2
Nothing surprising here.  It's borderlands 2.  There aren't as many characters on screen and it's definitely lower res than PC or console... but it's portable.  If you want a portable Borderlands game, this is it.

Muramasa Rebirth
A beautiful (really, seriously beautiful) Vanillaware beat-em-up game.  Lots of sword fighting.  Amazing visuals.  Gameplay is serviceable, but I'm just constantly amazed at how it looks in motion.

Wipeout 2048
Racing isn't my favorite genre but this seems to be a solid futuristic racer.  I won't put much time into it, but if you like futuristic racers you might want to take a look.  It could scratch that F-Zero itch.

Uncharted Golden Abyss
It feels like they tried to cram every touch gesture into this game even though it doesn't need it.  I was very underwhelmed by the gameplay and frustrated with the touch controls.

Monsters Ultimate HD
Not the best tower defense game I've played, not the worst.  I'll probably play it some more, but I wouldn't have spent money on it.

Retro City Rampage
This game is spastic.  It's kind of a top-down GTA / retrofest.  It didn't click with me at all.  I gave up on it after about 30 minutes.

Hotline Miami
I played through this on PC awhile ago.  I enjoyed it PC and the Vita version seem to control just fine.  It's not a game I liked enough to play through again.

Everyday Shooter
I really liked this game on PC.  I can't stand the controls on Vita.  It should be a twin-stick shooter but it isn't for some reason.

Stealth Inc
More of a puzzle game than a stealth game.  I got bored of it after 45 minutes or so.  I don't see myself going back to it.

Velocity Ultra
It's a fairly interesting vertical scrolling shooter.  It does some unique things with teleporting your ship around the screen while the action is going on.  I might put more time into it, but it's not my favorite genre.

ModNation Racers
Horrible racing game.  Don't even bother.

Sonic Transformed
Out of all the racing games I tried, this is the best.  It's probably the closest thing to Mario Kart you can find on the Vita.  I actually liked it.  If I didn't own a 3DS with an actual Mario Kart on it I would put a lot of time into this game.

Soul Sacrifice
Weird 3rd person action RPG.  Gorey for no apparent reason.  I hated the controls and the setting.  Would not recommend.

Street Fighter X Tekken
It's a fighter.  I don't love fighters, but this one seems decent.  I won't play much of it, but fighting fans would probably really enjoy this one.

Surge Deluxe
A puzzle game with a lot going on.  This would be a better fit on iOS or android because it seems to not use anything on the Vita except the front touch screen.


There you go, a ton of initial impressions.  If you have any questions or want to talk more in depth about these games leave a comment or reach out to me on twitter @grnmushroom.


Chrono Trigger Break
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 May 2014, 9:30 pm

I've been a little quiet here for a couple reasons.  The main one is that I got laid off from my job and went into overdrive looking for a new one.  For the moment I'm doing freelance web development for a start-up agency and loving it, so don't worry about me.  Once that was under control, I looked at what was next up for The Final Fantasy Project (FFVII!) and decided that maybe I should take a break and enjoy a non final fantasy game before I make the leap to the Playstation era.

Thanks to some twitter and blogger friends - like Syl and TishToshTesh - I decided it was time to finally play Chrono Trigger.  I don't know how I've avoided this game my whole life.  I obviously love a good JRPG and Chrono Trigger always makes it into the top lists of best RPGs ever.  So, it was time to get to it.


I'm so glad I did!  Chrono Trigger is a fantastic RPG.  I'm not even done with it yet but it's easily in my top two RPGs of the SNES era.  I'm not sure if I like it or FFVI more.  It's hard to form an opinion like that before I finish.  It does a lot of really smart things that just weren't commonplace at the time.

Coming from playing a bunch of Final Fantasy games in a row, the biggest difference in Chrono Trigger is no random battles!  Let me say that again, NO RANDOM BATTLES!  It's so nice to be able to actually see the enemies and choose whether or not to engage them in battle.  It also goes a long way toward making the world more immersive since it doesn't kick over to a separate battle screen.  Combat all takes place without any transition or load time.


I don't want to try to write a comprehensive review right now, but a few key things stand out:
  • Large sprite characters look really good on screen.
  • Time travel is so cool when it's done right, I wish more games would get creative with it.
  • There is no grind at all.
  • The music is extremely well done.  I could probably write a whole post about it.
  • The characters are diverse and unique.
I might come back and write up more about these things later but also maybe not.  I'm close to finishing the game (I think) and I'm excited to jump into FFVII.  I just want you to know, if you've ever wondered if Chrono Trigger is worth your time, the answer is yes!



Final Fantasy VI
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 April 2014, 10:12 am


Final Fantasy VI is really good.  It's the first Final Fantasy that I can see myself going back and replaying for fun.  The setting and game systems are good but the true heart of this game is the story.  Just FYI, there will be some spoilers in this review.

FFVI is set in an industrial world that exists generations after a magic war caused all magic to be lost from the world.  It's the first Final Fantasy to get out of the classic medieval fantasy setting.  I didn't realize how ready I was to get out of that setting and see something different and in this regard FFVI is a breath of fresh air.  And the world isn't just about going from point A to point B like so many Final Fantasy games up to this point.  There is really a world to explore, especially once the story causes it to change irrevocably.



Worth mentioning is the Mode 7 in this game.  Mode 7 is a technique used on the SNES to fake 3D with 2D.  It has a very distinct look.  It's the first time the overworld of a Final Fantasy game can be explored from a new perspective.  Once I got the airship I had a great time cruising around in Mode 7 and seeing the world in a new way.

FFVI has an ATB system just like the last two.  The iOS version I played made some great decisions, like having the character bars build up from the bottom, that really make it more mobile friendly.  Leveling up is pretty standard but each character can join with Espers and learn magic from them.  Espers can also be summoned and are powerful magic creatures and they tie into the story heavily.  On top of this, each character also has a unique skill.  Terra can enter a Trance state, Celes can nullify magic with Rune, Edgar can use custom Tools to attack.  It's different for every character.  My favorite is Sabin, who takes multiple button inputs to unleash cool martial arts moves with his Rush ability.

Each character has a unique ability because each character is truly unique.  That brings us to another interesting aspect of the game.  There is no main character.  How many games don't actually have a main character?  Not many.  Somehow FFVI succeeds even though it's true.  There are 14 playable characters and while they aren't all fleshed out, most of them are.  12 of them tie into the main story.  2 are optional, but interesting nonetheless.



I don't want to spoil too much of the story, but there are a few things that I'm sure will stick with me... like when the main villain succeeds in destroying the world!  I couldn't believe it at first!  The game is bold enough to let the heroes fail miserably and try to pick themselves back up again.  I haven't experienced anything else in an RPG like waking up with a single character on a deserted island in a post-apocalypse which I had failed to stop.  I wish more stories would take risks like this.

I've also never played an RPG that has an opera in the middle of it.  An actual opera with music and lines to memorize.  It's such a shift in the tone of the game, but it pans out beautifully.  The music from the opera scene was stuck in my head for days afterward and I was delighted to find a remastered version online.



The story contains more adult themes than previous games.  I don't mean "adult" as in violent or sexual.  I'm talking about the cost of making bad choices.  Striving for redemption afterwards.  What is it like for love to slowly form over time and be more complicated than "I like you, now we're in love."  There are characters which actually have a family that matters to them and is an integral part of their story.  Even the question of what is worth living for is addressed.  I was happy to see the change away from simple storytelling and the move towards the more complexity with nuances.

Having completed Final Fantasy VI now brings me to the halfway point in the mainline series, so it's probably time to start looking at how the games are stacking up in my mind.  I'll be updating this with each game from here on out.  For me, this is how it stands after the first six games.

Final Fantasy Ranking:
1. VI
2. IV
3. V
4. II
5. I
6. III

For the storytelling and compelling characters, FFVI takes the top spot easily.  I really liked the story and character driven plot in IV, which comes in second.  V had a great job system, but I didn't enjoy the story or the characters.  II was an interesting take on the leveling system, but it definitely shows it's age.  I is classic and it's the game that started it all, but it too is showing it's age.  I hated III, I just hated it.  It was the game that required the most grind and had some of the most obtuse ways to push the plot forward.  I hated it so much that it took me about a year and a half to actually suffer through it.  FFIII is the one Final Fantasy that I actively try to keep people away from.

That's just a quick summary of my feelings up to this point.  From here onward I'll just be updating with the latest game that I drop into the rankings.

As far as Final Fantasy VI goes, I had a great experience with it.  I would highly recommend it to any JRPG fan.

Total Completion Time:
25 hrs 4 mins


Fantasy Guidance
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 March 2014, 11:29 am
I wanted to take a chance during this break between games to talk about strategy guides.  I've been using them a lot lately.  The JRPG genre in general tends to have more use for guides than other genres and Final Fantasy is no exception.

I've used a strategy guide for four out of the five games I've played so far.  The game I did guide-less was FFIV.  I actively needed the guides for the other games.

That's the sad part, guides are basically a necessity for so many of these games.  It's really easy to get stuck in the early Final Fantasy games.  There are sections where the only option would be to wander the world aimlessly searching for hours... or look at a strategy guide for five minutes.  I will almost always choose the guide at that point.  Not to mention how easy it can be to get stuck somewhere and not be able to go back.  In a few places it's a very real possibility that you can get stuck in an area that is too high level for you.  And if you saved your game there and don't have a backup save you can be entirely screwed.

The iOS versions have gone a long way toward making it less possible for a player to get stuck somewhere with a bad save spot.  Although, they don't do much to help guide the player in the aimless wandering situations.

One of the reasons I loved FFIV so much was because it did such a great job of guiding me from place to place.  It did such a good job that I never needed to look at a guide.  This is one of the other places that FFV didn't live up to it's predecessor.  I was confused about where to go next a number of times.  In FFIV I always felt like I knew where to go, but I still had freedom to explore the world.  I didn't have to go to the next plot point immediately.  It wasn't linear and confining.  The main path was just well defined by the story.

Here's the way I've been approaching it.  I start a game and just play.  If I hit a spot where I get confused, lost, or feel like I could potentially miss an important item or character I'll look at a guide.  If looking at the guide gets me back on track I ignore it again and just play.  If I have to go back to the guide a second time... I find one that I like and commit to using it throughout the rest of the playthrough.

In case you're wondering, I've been using fan created guides on Gamefaqs.  Most of the time these are actually better than the "official" guide because they've had years to improve on them and find out secrets about the game.

I'm about to start FFVI.  I'll start without a guide but will probably end up using one.  From what I've heard, this is a Final Fantasy game with a lot of characters and I don't want to miss any of them.


Final Fantasy V
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 March 2014, 1:11 pm

Final Fantasy V was ok.  I finished it, but I wasn't inspired enough to write about it while I was in the middle of playing.  That should probably tell you something about how I feel about the game.  It was fine.  It wasn't bad.  There is no single thing I can point to and say "I hated this."  But, overall, it simply didn't click with me.

The story is perfectly serviceable.  It had semi-interesting characters, multiple worlds, Cid, Moogles, Chocobos, an airship, and an evil villain.  Exdeath, the big bad of this game, even had a more complicated plot than "destroy the world by destroying crystals."  Not much more complicated, but at least it's a step up from FFI, FFII, and FFIII.  The story was definitely better than those games.  My biggest problem with it is that it just isn't as good as FFIV.  It feels like a step back in terms of storytelling quality.



Maybe that's my overall problem with FFV.  It's not as good as FFIV.  FFIV did so many things in new and interesting ways and it executed a fantastic character driven story.  FFV is, no question, better than I-III but it doesn't reach the level of FFIV.

It doesn't help that I had played Bravely Default immediately before starting FFV.  After playing both games it's obviously that the job system from FFV was a direct predecessor to the job system in Bravely Default.  The problem is that Bravely Default improved on the job system by leaps and bounds.  It made it much more interesting and engaging.  So, for me, the job system in FFV felt dumbed down and shallow.  I'm sure it was revolutionary for it's time, but it doesn't hold up today.

The battle system is nothing to write home about.  It's a classic Active Time Battle (ATB) system like many Final Fantasy games.  I think I'm learning that I like turn based systems better.  But that comes down to personal preference.  The best part of the battle system are all the abilities different jobs gain access to, but most of the interesting decisions and customization is actually done outside of battle through the job system.



I'm not a huge fan of the graphics in this game.  I played the iOS version, just like I did for the first four games.  That might have been a mistake.  I really didn't like what they did with the remastered graphics.  I think I would have preferred the original pixel art instead.  I've heard really good things about the GBA version, so if you're looking to try this game out you may want to look there.  It fits with my common theme here today, the graphics weren't bad, they just weren't as good as the other remakes I've been playing lately.  Although, graphics come down entirely to personal preference.

As far as the iOS version in general, it was still fantastic to always have the game with me wherever I went.  I'm not sure what I think about them adding achievements to the game.  It's something they also did for FFIV too.  I guess it's fine, I just don't know how much it adds to a JRPG like this.  On the plus side, they added a battery indicator and a clock docked to the top of the screen (check out my screenshots).  I actually really liked this addition. When I was playing FFIV I was constantly hitting the home button to check the time and with FFV I didn't have to.

What else can I say about FFV?

I'm glad I completed it.  I'm happy that I haven't broken down and skipped a game in the series yet.  My review makes this game sound a lot worse than it is.  I would still recommend it over FFIII without hesitation.






It's not a bad game.  I think a lot of people would like it.  It's just not a game that I truly enjoyed.

Total Play Time: 26 hrs 42 mins


Bravely Default Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 March 2014, 8:09 pm
I've been taking a break from Final Fantasy games to play through Bravely Default, a new release for 3DS.  I just finished it up in the last few days and wanted to get some thoughts out there.

Honestly, this is the best Final Fantasy game that has been released since XII.  It's really funny that this isn't truly a Final Fantasy game.  I can definitely tell that it started out as one.  The job system, crystal story, items, and spells are all taken, almost directly, from Final Fantasy.  It started out as a sequel to Final Fantasy Four Warriors of Light but at some point in development it got to break away and become it's own brand.  Maybe that's why it's so good, because it doesn't have the weight of the Final Fantasy name on it's shoulders.

I love, Luxendarc, the world of Bravely Default.  Everything from the art direction to the music is top notch.  My god, the music!  I haven't enjoyed a game soundtrack this much since I played Final Fantasy X.  And the art department certainly earned their paychecks.  At times it feels as if you're wandering through a stylized storybook.  Other times the world is dark and imposing.  They've created a fantastic world.  The look and feel of the game is truly superb.

The job system is essentially expanded from Final Fantasy.  I saw a lot of the jobs I've run into before, but they seem to be more fleshed out here.  Characters are able to have a primary job and a secondary job at the same time.  This opens up all sorts of interesting combinations and experimentation.  On top of the 2 jobs, characters also get to pick up support abilities from other jobs they've leveled in.  I literally had hours of fun playing around with the job system.  That's probably a personal preference, but if you like playing around with systems you will love what Bravely Default offers.

The story has is a mixed bag.  This paragraph will have very minor spoilers.  The game is divided into chapters.  In chapters 1-4 you have to accomplish a similar task 4 separate times.  4 times feels perfect for the story and it works really well.  Each of the 4 tasks is similar, but unique in it's own way too.  I loved these chapters.  Then chapter 5 hit.  In chapter 5-8 you basically have to do that same task 16 more times and it loses all sense of fun and momentum.  I was extremely disappointed with this middle section of the game.  It's especially sad to see after such a strong start.  The final chapters of the game once again get interesting and I truly enjoyed the ending, but the middle section is a blemish on the overall story.

Bravely Default uses the 3DS features well.  I played the whole game in 3D and it really added something to the visuals.  That's not true of a lot of 3DS games.  The streetpass feature was fun too.  I was able to send and receive attacks and heals from other people playing the game and then summon them in the middle of battle.  It's actually a really cool implementation of streetpass.  The village rebuilding minigame was somewhat interesting too, but I got enough streetpasses that I was finished with it when I was about a fourth of the way through the game.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned the battle system yet.  It's a twist on a classic turn based battle.  Characters are able to Default which lets them save up actions.  On subsequent turns they can Brave and spend all of their saved up actions at the same time.  It really changed the way I thought about battle.  Random encounters became all about Braving and launching all-out attacks on monsters.  Boss battles become an intricate dance of when to use Brave and when to use Default.  Bosses were more challenging and interesting than I've encountered in a JRPG in a long time.

Not to mention some of the convenience systems in place in this game.  I set up a selection of good commands and used auto-battle to repeat them against random monsters.  Mix that with the ability to have battles play out at 4x speed and grinding becomes totally painless.  I sometimes took it in the extreme the other direction and turned off random encounters.  I love this option as it let me fully focus on exploring dungeons without any interruptions.  They don't advertise these convenience functions well, but they are there and I appreciated them.

Bravely Default is a good game.  Despite some story pacing issues in the middle I would still strongly recommend this game.  It's not going to appeal to everyone, but it's a must buy for anyone who owns a 3DS and is a fan of Final Fantasy or JRPGs in general.




Final Fantasy FFIV Wrap Up
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 February 2014, 10:17 pm

I'm already done with FFIV.  I didn't do any mid-way posts because the game held my attention so well.  It only took me a couple weeks of lunch breaks and commuting time to finish.  Let me tell you, Final Fantasy IV is a fantastic entry in the series!  More than anything else, the story made all the difference.

There was so much character development and interaction, especially compared to the first three entries.  Now that I've finished this game I've come to realize how much I was missing a solid story in the older games.  A memorable story with interesting characters has become a hallmark of a Final Fantasy game and this is the first place that it's evident.


This game actually has a bunch of firsts for Final Fantasy.  First use of the Active Time Battle system.  First time class is tied to characters and their personality.  First decent story.  First time having lots of temporary characters to fill out the roster.  First major character sacrifice.  First amazing music.

The music!  It's so good!  I absolutely love Nobuo Uematsu's work in the series and this is the first time it shines.  Themes from this game will stick with me forever.  I've already found a couple tracks that have made it into my regular playlist.

I don't know how much more I have to say about FFIV.  It's a good game.  The first good Final Fantasy.  I'll be recommending it to others in the future.  If anyone asks me how far back they should go in the FF lineup I'll be telling them to start with FFIV.  The first three are so skippable in comparison.


It's remarkable that my total play time is almost identical to my playthrough of  FFIII.  III felt like it took forever to slog through.  With IV I enjoyed each play session and I was disappointed when it was over.

Total Play Time: 25 hrs 6 mins.


Final Fantasy IV Initial Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 January 2014, 9:56 pm
Kain is here to ease my suffering from FFIII.  Thanks Kain.

I was planning on writing my initial impressions sooner, but FFIV pulled me in right away and hasn't let go.  I'm already about 8 hours into the game so I figure it's about time to put some thoughts down.

When I put on my headphones and first launched FFIV the music overwhelmed me.  It was so much better than the last three games I played.  I literally just sat there and listened to the title music for at least 5 minutes.  I don't know if the music has been remastered or if Square just hit their stride with this one, but the music is top notch.  This is where the work of Nobuo Uematsu truly starts to shine.  So many of his compositions and arrangements are in my mind forever and I know FFIV will add a few tracks of it's own.



It's also immediately obvious that the story in FFIV is meant to drive the game.  I'm invested in the saga of Cecil and his companions in a way that I never was with FFI through FFIII.  This is still from the era of Final Fantasy games that I've never played before, so each twist and turn is a delight for me.  I'm so excited to see where the characters end up.  *Spoilers* I've already guided Cecil on his path to redemption and watched him find solace in his transformation from a dark knight to a paladin.  I was touched when Polom and Porom sacrificed themselves so that the other members of the party could live.  I was legitimately upset when Rosa was taken away because I enjoyed seeing the positive influence she had on Cecil. *End Spoilers*  I don't know what the next twist will be, but I'm excited to experience it.



From a technical standpoint this is a better remake than FFIII.  Quickly I realized the virtual analog stick controls much better than FFIII, which is something I was never entirely satisfied with.  Character animations and models are given more attention, detail, and are used extremely well in cut scenes.  There is actual voice work in the game and it's not bad.  The game even has iOS achievements integrated well, if you're into that kind of thing.

I have a lot of other thoughts still bubbling in my head about FFIV, but I want to play more and see how things shake out.  At this point I can already recommend this over the first three entries in the series.  If you're looking for a classic Final Fantasy game to warm that old-school heart of yours you could do much worse than dropping a few bucks for Final Fantasy IV.


Finally Fantasy (III) is Complete!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 January 2014, 12:28 am
Victorious (Ignus usually looks like that after a boss battle)

I wanted to finish Final Fantasy III before the end of the year and I got it in just under the wire.  My drive to power through the rest of the game and wrap it up was because I was stuck for such a long time.  The last 20% of this game took me months and months simply because I didn't want to spend time grinding levels.

I would not recommend Final Fantasy III to other people.  It's the most grindy Final Fantasy game that I've played so far, and I've played most of them at one point or another.  FFIII was most definitely a slog, especially toward the end.  I'm not a fan of games that have mandatory level grinding to finish the game and unfortunately this falls into that category.

It wasn't a horrible game by any means, it just wasn't nearly as good as the other entries in the Final Fantasy series that I've played.  It had a more fleshed out story and better characters than FFI and FFII which is nice to see.  I also enjoyed the remastered 3D graphics which were a nice change of pace from the 2D sprites of the last two games.

It's been interesting to see the emergence of Final Fantasy staples over the course of the first three games.  Jobs finally made an appearance in FFIII and I had a lot of fun playing around with my party composition.  It's not as refined as some of the later job systems, but it gets the job done (pun by accident, sorry).

I don't know what else to say about this one.  I'm glad it's done.  I might take another break before diving into Final Fantasy IV.  From everything I've read it has a much better story than any of the first three games, but I dread the potential grind of a new title.  After this one, I definitely need a game with minimal or no grinding to keep me interested.

Total Completion Time: ~24hrs (over the course of 18 months)


A Little Strategy in Your Handheld
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 September 2013, 3:00 pm


I've been playing a lot of games for my 3DS.  Right now I'm playing through Fire Emblem: Awakening and enjoying it a ton.

The older I get the more I move away from real time strategy games and start to appreciate the turn-based format.  It's not that my reflexes are bad, I'm only 26, but I just don't have time to devote to getting really good at execution in games.  I'm usually playing less than an hour each night and I'm lucky if that is one uninterrupted block of time.

For me, right now, Fire Emblem: Awakening is perfect.  It's a turn based strategy with interesting mechanics that I can suspend at any time.  I constantly have it near me since my 3DS is almost always close by.  It's great to be able to take a turn and then put it down to come back to later.  Even if I know I only have 5 minutes I still get to make some progress and stretch my mind with some strategy.

It's more character driven than most turn-based RPGs I've played.  If you're a fan of character growth and interaction it will be right up your alley.  Some great character development and customization ties the whole game together.

I've recommended it to everyone that I know who owns a 3DS.  If you have one you should definitely look into it.




My Constant Companion
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 September 2013, 12:00 pm

I've mostly been gaming during my lunch hour or once my kids are in bed at night.  When I finally get a few free minutes to play a game I almost always turn to my 3DS.  It travels everywhere with me just in case I get an opportunity to bust it out for 5 minutes and play.

It's really an awesome system.  The 3D effect is cool, but not required.  It has a great lineup of games that's constantly growing.  It has support for digital purchases.  It's finally a Nintendo console with decent online play.  It's easy to carry around.  But most importantly, it's fun!

I've had a blast with Mario Kart 7, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Paper Mario Sticker Star, Donkey Kong Country Returns, New Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario 3D Land, Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Not to mention all the fantastic eShop and Virtual Console games I've been playing.  Nintendo has a lot to offer.

They're even catering to our nostalgic impulses.  I had a few weeks where all I played were the two Legend of Zelda Oracle games that intertwine.  They're amazing entries in the Zelda franchise and I had never finished them before.  I picked them up together for about $10 for Virtual Console and loved every minute of them.

The more they expand the lineup of new releases and nostalgic games the more I love the system.  With Pokemon X/Y, Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Mario Party: Island Tour, and Smash Brothers 3DS all around the corner I'm excited to see how well the system does this holiday season.


Gone Dark
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 September 2013, 12:00 pm
It's been a busy year.  I haven't written on here in about nine months, and I feel pretty bad about that.  Sometimes you just have to drop things to free up time for others.  In my case, I have 2 little kids, I moved my family, and I've been teaching myself the programing languages in a typical web stack (HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL).  My time is essentially accounted for with all of this on top of my full-time job.

I'm finally starting to feel the stress and the crazyness let up, so I'm hoping to write more.  If all goes well, you should see more posts here soon.

The last nine months have been busy but I have found time to play games.  I just haven't had time to write about them.

Steam and Nintendo have been my companions when I can find free time, all of my gaming has been taking place on PC and my 3DS.  My (fifth) Xbox 360 died a few months ago and I didn't feel like replacing it again.  I can basically play everything I want to play on PC through Steam for cheaper, so what's the point of re-buying yet another 360?  My 360 was used 99% of the time as a media streaming device so I ended up replacing it with a Roku which turned out to be a fantastic idea.

I just touched on a ton of topics which I can (hopefully) flesh out in later posts.  Sorry for my long absence.

I'm back!


Hearthstone May Be a CCG for Me
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 September 2013, 12:00 pm

There's a wave of hype building for Blizzard's new digital CCG, Hearthstone.  It's winning me over.  It's strange since I'm not normally a CCG guy, but I think this one could be for me.

I've dabbled in various card games over the years.  I've used other people's decks and played a little bit of Magic the Gathering and the Pokemon card game.  I got seriously into the Game of Thrones Living Card game for about a year.  It helped that one of my friends owned every single card from that game.  I also picked up a starter kit for the Netrunner Living Card Game and loved the ideas in it, I just didn't have anyone to play it with consistently.

So that's where I'm coming from.  A little of bit CCG and LCG knowledge paired with one year of fairly intense play (and a tournament) for the Game of Thrones LCG.

Why does Hearthstone appeal to me so much?  Well, it's the first digital card game created by a proven AAA video game design company.  I know that it will be super polished.  That's what Blizzard does.  A simple look at the UI already shows how much effort they're putting into this game.

They're doing things you can't do with a physical card game.  Persistent health is a really cool concept that doesn't translate to physical cards.  Digitally, you can easily add and subtract health to a card and have it appear directly on the card.  Not only that, but you can send a creature back to an opponent's hand with a negative effect still on it.  They're just scratching the surface of the unique things a digital card game offers, but I can't wait to see more.

It looks like a solid CCG.  From what I've seen it looks like a well developed game.  The creators obviously know their stuff when it comes to card games and it shows.

I can't wait to get my hands on Hearthstone.  It's always best to get in on the ground floor of a CCG or LCG.  It's when everyone else is still learning and their isn't a huge backlog of cards to pick up.  If you're interested in CCGs this will be one you should try out at launch.

If I get a beta key I'll definitely be writing more about it.


Progress
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 January 2013, 9:12 pm
I always like to feel like I'm making progress in life.  It's not just my career or family life, this extends into my hobbies as well.  I always have multiple things that I'm working my way through.

Generally, I have a game I'm playing, a TV show that I'm watching, a book that I'm reading, and a skill that I'm learning.  At any given time in the past 10 or so years I guarantee that I could name all four of those thing for you at the drop of a hat.  Every night I make some progress on one of those things.

Even when I have a "lazy day" I know that one of those will move along a little bit.  Does anyone else find themselves in the same mindset?  I find that I literally can't sit in front of a TV and just watch random stuff all day.  I feel like I'm not making progress on anything that counts and it drives me crazy.

Right now I'm finishing up watching Game of Thrones Season 1 again.  I'm in the middle of reading A Clash of Kings (Song of Ice and Fire Book 2).  I'm playing through both Final Fantasy III and Dishonored, depending on my mood.  And I'm learning Javascript with the help of a book and a fantastic website called Code Academy.

What type of things do you make progress on when you have free time?


Pointing and Clicking and Walking and Dying
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 December 2012, 12:37 am


I've never been much of an adventure game fan.  All that pointing and clicking didn't hold much appeal for me.  The stories were too slow and the puzzles too obtuse to enjoy.  Every time I played an adventure game I felt like I would rather be reading the story in a book or playing a more active version of the game.

This all changed when my brother convinced me to play The Walking Dead.  I have never played an adventure game like it.  For the first time ever I was drawn in and captivated by all the pointing and clicking.

But there is so much more to The Walking Dead than just that.  There are truly meaningful decisions and the most difficult moral choices that I've ever made in a game.  In an undead apocalypse who can you really trust and what are you willing to do to survive?  I made a lot of decisions that seemed like the best idea at the time but ended up with unforeseen consequences.

I want to give so many amazing examples from my playthrough, but this is a truly a game I don't want to spoil for anyone.  My simple recommendation is to play this game.  It's definitely not for the faint of heart but it's worth it to see the power a game can have when the decisions are difficult and everything is morally grey.




End of Summer, Start of Fall: Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 October 2012, 12:34 am


Life has been busy lately, but I've been playing games when I get a chance and I finally have time tonight to write up some quick impressions.  These are all games that I'm currently playing.

FTL
FTL: Faster Than Light is a game that I helped kickstart a while ago and it's great to see it doing so well on Steam!  It's a brutally challenging space survival game that I've been recommending to everyone.  My first round of impressions still stand.  For $10 on Steam you really can't go wrong.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
This is a fantastic refinement of the Counter-Strike series.  CS has been one of the quintessential competitive first person shooters since it was first released and I can see this latest iteration becoming huge in the esports community.  I convinced a bunch of co-workers to try it at work and we've been having tons of fun killing each other during lunch.  I also spent some time setting up a custom CS:GO linux server as a side project.  I don't sit down and play this for long stretches at a time, but I have been playing a match or two most days.  I was extremely impressed that Valve released CS:GO for $15 on day one for all systems.

Guild Wars 2
I've been having a lot of fun in this MMO.  I haven't played a MMO since about a month after Cataclysm released, so it's nice to get back into this type of world.  I'm picking away at it a little bit at a time.  I love all the little improvements and refinements, especially the downleveling that let's me play with my brother whenever we can both find the time.

The Walking Dead
I didn't think I was a fan of adventure games until my brother convinced me to play this one.  I've never been so engrossed in an adventure game before.  The classic zombie survival scenario is seriously given a human face here.  I'm invested in what happens to the characters around me and I'm genuinely saddened when they die or get hurt.  Having not played many adventure games I really don't know how to analyze this one but I'm really excited to dive back into the new episodes soon.

100000000
An amazing puzzle game with a hard name to search for (there are 8 zeros if you're wondering).  I obsessed over this game for 2 weeks straight and never got to write about it.  It's a twist on the classic match-3 style of puzzle game where the tiles slide around and you can make combos for bonus points.  The RPG style progression system build on top of the puzzle game is really what makes this one shine.  Every puzzle game fan should check it out.

Team Fortress 2
I'm still playing this regularly which I can't say about any other games that came out in 2007.  My wife and I have been having a lot of fun in the new Man vs Machine co-op mode.  It's a great addition to the TF2 roster.

Hero Academy
Another game that I've been playing for quite a while but that I'm still enjoying.  I play a couple turns in each of my games every day.  Check out my past impressions or just try this one out for free on the iOS app store.  It also recently released on Steam.

Final Fantasy III
I'm not having a lot of fun with this game so progression is really slow.  I want to finish it for my Final Fantasy Project but I'm only playing a little bit at a time.


What's everyone else been playing for the past couple months?  Are there any games you've been having a lot of fun with that I should look into?




Now That It's Live
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 September 2012, 12:14 pm


Guild Wars 2 has been out for about a week and I've been spending most of my gaming time with it.  I still really enjoy it and my feelings toward the game haven't changed much from my beta impressions.

I have come to realize that the driving force behind my purchase of the game is that there is no monthly subscription.  It's amazing to me that the business model plays such a huge factor, but the truth of the matter is that I wouldn't be playing this game if I had to pay for it monthly.  It has all sorts of incremental improvements on the genre but nothing is revolutionary to the point where I would dish out $15 a month to play.

My in game time is mainly taken up with exploring and completing zones.  I'm an explorer at heart which makes completing vistas and collecting points of interest appealing to me.

I'm also loving the ability to play with friends easily.  I love the down scaling of player level for content because it lets me and my brother play together without worrying about our levels, something that has always been an issue for us in MMOs.  It also keeps low level content fresh while exploring.

If you're sick of hotbar MMOs you're not going to be happy with GW2.  If, however, you're looking for the next stage of hotbar MMO with improvements and no subscription fee this is the game for you.



Final Fantasy III: Virtual Analog Stick Woes
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 August 2012, 11:49 pm

I've previously discussed my thought on the virtual d-pad implemented in FFI and FFII on iOS.  It generally works fine, it just doesn't have the tactile feedback I'm used to with a controller.  Final Fantasy III uses a virtual analog stick instead of a virtual d-pad and it's a totally different story.

The virtual analog stick is extremely frustrating to use.  The lack of tactical sensation makes it difficult to judge how far you actually have the analog stick pressed in one direction or another and which direction it's been pushed.  Not only is it hard to judge but the stick location actually moves around the screen depending on where your thumb is touching.  It's impossible to learn the area the virtual analog stick occupies because it is constantly moving every time you pick up your thumb and put it somewhere new.  If it wasn't constantly moving around I could at least learn to use it by spending enough time with it.

Final Fantasy III is a fully 3D game with 3D environments which means the player isn't confined to simple 4 direction movement like in FFI and FFII.  This makes having a reliable and functional input device a key aspect of the game design.  Unfortunately, it's sorely missing.

So far the graphics, story, and gameplay are all good but every time I sit down to play I immediately get frustrated with the controls.  I'll struggle my way through it for now and I'll write more once I'm farther into the game.



Now I'll Play It
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 August 2012, 2:53 pm

Most of you heard last week that Star Wars The Old Republic is going free to play.  This really isn't a surprise since their subscriber numbers have slowly been dwindling.  At this point it's hard for any quest based MMO to have a subscription model since they're immediately competing with World of Warcraft and it's 8 years of expansions and polish.  Even if that game has a huge intellectual property, like Star Wars, behind it.

When SWTOR was released I said that the only way I would play it is if they dropped the subscription.  Now that there will be no subscription I will most definitely be playing.  I don't know how much I'll like it, but I'll give the game a try.  I really enjoy Bioware RPGs and would have loved for SWTOR to have just been a new single player RPG when it released.  I never thought that it needed to actually enter the MMO space.  If they had made KOTOR 3 I would have bought it on release day.

Anyway, you can find all sorts of commentary about what SWTOR going F2P means, so I won't spend time diving into an analysis.  I'll just say that I'm happy they've finally caught up to modern online financial models.



Boxed Up Fun Contests!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 July 2012, 7:00 am


I'm really excited to announce that Boxed Up Fun is launching monthly board game giveaways!  This is just one of the features we've been working on and we're constantly striving to improve the site.

We want people to enjoy interacting with the site and this contest is all about leaving reviews and getting the word out about Boxed Up Fun!  You can see the official contest rules right here, but basically you get entries for writing a short (twitter length) review on a game, spreading the word about us on twitter, or posting on our facebook page.

This month we're giving away Eminent Domain.  It's a fun and fast sci-fi deck building game.  It has some interesting role selection mechanics on top of the deck building which all combines into a unique game.  I really like it because it's not too difficult to grasp, but it still has enough strategy to be enjoyable and it can be played fairly quickly.  Most of our play sessions have lasted 30-45 minutes.

Come visit, let us know what you think about the site, and interact to win a free board game while you're at it!



Me and My MMOs
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 July 2012, 11:36 pm
Tesh posted a great recap of where he's coming from when he talks about MMOs and it inspired me to do the same. I don't know how interesting this will be for other people, but I'm hoping it will give you some perspective on my MMO history.

The main thing you should know about me is that I love the idea of MMOs, but when I go to play them they rarely stick.  There have been some exceptions, but in most MMOs I only dabble before moving on.



My first MMO was Everquest.  My friends and I played this in middle school when it first came out.  I can still remember most of the details of Crushbone, one of the first zones in the game.  It's crazy that in my mind's eye I can see all of the hills, catacombs, the castle, the different routes through the zone, and I still remember the spawns.  It must be because I played the game so much, but never truly leveled very high.  I played from around launch in March of 1999 through the first 2 expansions.  I remember how monumental those expansions were.  Today, expansions are basically expected, but back then it was utterly amazing to have access to new continents, zones, and levels.  The Ruins of Kunark came out in early 2000 while The Scars of Velious came out later that same year.  They both kept me entertained for quite a while.  After that I started high school and MMOs held less sway.  They faded into the background as I moved on to different activities.

When my friend got hooked on Dark Age of Camelot in 2001 I gave that a try, but only played it for a few weeks.  It just never clicked with me.  The same thing happened in 2003 with Shadowbane, a game that promised player run cities and sieges.  It sounded fun, but again, it simply didn't hook me.  That same year I enjoyed Planetside, but my computer never ran it quite right, so I had to give up on that game too.

Then 2004 happened.  That's the year World of Warcraft was released.  WoW immediately grabbed the attention of my group of friends because we were huge WarCraft fans.  I had played WarCraft 2, WarCraft 3, and all the expansion packs that went with them.  Any game set in the same universe was an instant purchase.

Vanilla WoW held my attention until endgame.  I don't know how many months I played, but I started at launch and worked my way up to max level.  I tried a raid or two, realized it wasn't for me, and retired my subscription until late 2008 when Wrath of the Lich King released and my friends convinced me to resubscribe.  They then proceeded to power level me through The Burning Crusade content so that I could play Wrath with them.  Once again I reached max level, tried a few raids, and promptly unsubscribed.

When I went back and played through Cataclysm the same pattern emerged.  You can actually go read my posts about Cataclysm from my archive to see my progression if you're interested.

Along the way from Everquest to now (and my current zero MMOs) I've tried out Tabula Rasa, Star Wars Galaxies, Puzzle Pirates, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Anarchy Online, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XI, Runescape, Travian, Everquest II, Guild Wars, and probably some others that I've forgotten.

I guess the moral of the story is that I've tried my fair share of MMOs, but it takes a lot to keep me interested.



FTL: A Game of Many Things
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 June 2012, 7:00 am


FTL is a game about space exploration.  Well, that's what I initially thought.  Then I played it and learned that FTL is a game about survival.  But then I learned that the game is about managing the crew of a spaceship.  But the crew doesn't control the ship on their own, because the game is actually about balancing power and distributing it between different ship systems.  But... system power needs depend on what gear is currently equipped to the ship.  So I guess FTL is also about upgrading spaceships.

The truth is... FTL is a game about a lot of different things.  The important part is that they all work together and create something magical.  I've been told by others that FTL is a "Roguelike" but since I've never played a rougelike I don't know if that's an apt description.  I do know that in any one playthrough of the game you'll be doing all those things I mentioned above and, if you're like me, you'll be having a fantastic time doing them.

I could write for paragraphs about the different game systems and how they all interact, but to get a true feel for the game it's easier to give an example turn.  So let's do just that.

My FTL is fully charged so I jump to a nearby node in my current sector.  The node I jump to is in an uncharted nebula.  My scanners notice a ship trying to hide in the nebula and I decide to investigate further.  As I approach I notice that it's a slaver ship. It immediately powers up it's weapons and begins to unload on my ship.  I power up my lasers and - realizing they won't be enough to get through the enemy shields - I divert power from my engine to power up my missile launcher.  Now my ship has less of a chance to evade, but I have access to more firepower.  I use the missiles to target their shield generator room while using the lasers to disable their engines.  Unfortunately for me they decide to teleport 2 crew members to my ship to sabotage my shield generator.  I have to pull my weapons officer, engine officer, and shield officer off of their stations to fight the enemy in my shield generator room.  Our ships continue to trade volleys while our crews fight it out.  Mid-fight I have to send my weapons officer to the med bay because he's so injured that he might die.  My 2 remaining officers manage to eliminate the enemy but not before the enemy caused some damage to the shield generator room.  My officers immediately begin to repair the damage but not fast enough to prevent a laser volley from getting through to my O2 room and causing a fire.  Since so many officers are busy I have to pull my pilot out of the helm to extinguish the fire in the O2 room before our oxygen supply starts to dwindle.  While the fire dies down a final volley of lasers and a missile from me destroys the enemy ship.  I heal my officers, repair my ship, recover all the scrap I can from the enemy, charge up the FTL drive and get ready to jump again.

And that's only one node.  Not all of them contain battles.  Others have friendly encounters, interesting offers, stores, merchants, distress signals, and the occasional optional quest.  Each sector has around 25 nodes but on average you'll only get to visit 5-10 of them because you're carrying vital information for the federation and the rebel fleet is closing in on you.

The game becomes a precarious balance between maximizing how much exploration and upgrading you can do in each sector while still staying ahead of the rebel fleet.  When they catch up to you it's still possible to escape, but it becomes much more difficult.

I haven't even mentioned the difficulty.  I've sunk over 10 hours into this game already.  I've done a "full" playthrough 10 times.  I've played about half on normal and half on easy.  Every game has resulted in my death.  I still haven't beaten the game on easy.  This game is tough.  It really is about survival and one wrong move or bad jump can get you killed.  Honestly, I haven't been this challenged or excited by a game in quite some time.  I have a feeling that people who like devilishly difficult games are going to love this one.

FTL is currently in beta but since I helped fund the Kickstarter I'm in the early access beta group on steam.  The team has been amazingly responsive to the fans and new builds have been distributed frequently, every one having new features.  With more features in every build  I can't wait for the game to release so that the rest of you can experience it.  I'll be sure to keep you updated.




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Bethesda Blog [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Bio Break [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Bioware TOR Dev Blog [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Cloth 5 [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
GWJ Conference Call [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Lineage II [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Massively [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
mmocam! [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
MmoQuests.com [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
No Prisoners, No Mercy [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Raph Koster [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Reign of Gaming [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
The Ancient Gaming Noob [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Tobold [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Troll Racials are Overpowered [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Write the Game [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Zen of Design [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Updated this Week:
A Green Mushroom [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
DDOcast [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Joystiq MMO [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Low Elo [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Mystic Worlds [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
The Instance [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Updated this Month:
A Casual Stroll to Modor [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
A Casual Stroll to Modor Podcast [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Blue Kae [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Heartless Gamer [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Lost In The Grind [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Morphisat's Blog [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Player Versus Developer [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Terra Nova [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
The Crusading Noob [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Welshtroll [HTML] [XML] [FULL]
Wondrous Inventions [HTML] [XML] [FULL]