Monday, March 28, 2016

15 annoyances that gamers of the 90's still remember

Today I am going to go a little retro on the blog and make a list of those annoyances that we gamers in the 90's had to go through, but are completely unknown by anybody who is too young to remember. There is a lot of talk about how good gaming was in that decade, but not everything was sugar coated for us, so let's begin.

Anti videogames

1. Living in the years when videogames became very unpopular with parents in America. This happened in the early 90's and it meant that a lot of times we were forced to play less than we wanted to and when we did play we were heavily criticized because we were "going to do bad at school", "suffer mind problems or epileptic attacks", "playing videogames that came from the devil" or just because "those things used too much electricity".

2. Been a broke (or too young to work) gamer and having to buy cheap discarded disc based games at video clubs. It was really a gamble where we had to bet 5 to 15 dollars in favor of the game actually working when we put it on our console. Sometimes it paid off, some times it didn't (and as far as I know, there were no returns).

3. Buying a game because the cover and description looked nice (information was scarce), only to find out that it was a piece of crap. In other cases it would be a good game, but one that could be finished in just a couple hours, which also felt like wasted money (I'm looking at you D!)

4. Been unable to buy a newly released game and spend months going to the video club each week to see if that sole copy of the game was available for rent.

5. Having your parents bring you a new game as a surprise, hear them boasting about how expensive it was, only to find out that is was a crappy game. You had to pretend you were having the time of your life so you were not considered an ungrateful brat.

Gaming tip line

6. Calling a gaming tips line (because some of us didn't knew about the concept of payed calls at the time) and then been scolded when a buffed up phone bill arrived.

7. Pre-ordering a game, wait for it to release, go to the store on release day and find out that the UPS (or Fedex, I don't remember) hadn't delivered the orders yet so you would have to wait for hours or just go home (which wasn't an option if you weren't old enough to drive and depended on others). This is the only thing where the standardized Tuesday release date of these times work to our advantage.

8. Having your console's internal battery go dead and be forced to go to the clock screen each and every time you turned it on (Sega Saturn owners can relate).

9. Hearing a dumb rumor about doing something incredible with your console (like using the extension sockets on a console to play games from another) and waste hours trying to do it (don't blame us, most of us were gullible kids at the time and internet was limited if not non-existent for us).

10. Trying to surf the web on a Sega Saturn or Dreamcast browser because you didn't had a computer yet. Yep, browsing on 56k modem with a browser that had an outdated Javascript version in it, fun right?

Super Castlevania glitched

11. Been all pumped up playing a stage in a game (cartridge based), then having somebody stumble upon the gamepad's cord. Now your game graphics are all glitched and you have to hold on to dear life, hoping that when the screen changes the problem goes away and you can keep playing without having to restart the console.

12. When you had to do a lot of networking in order to borrow games so you could play them. It was sort of like bartering in ancient times because if you didn't had a game that the other person was interested in you were screwed. Also visiting a neighbor or just calling him/her out just because you wanted to borrow a game was not fun at all.

13. Been clueless about what was happening in the industry (magazines did not had it all covered) and having your hype crushed by unexpected delays, changes to the game or in the worst case scenario, the game been cancelled.

14. Renting a game that you couldn't understand (remember, most of us 90's gamers were kids at the time) and having to rely on trial and error if the video club wouldn't let you change it. (I love all rpg games now, but my first experience as a kid was Shadowgate (NES) and it was horrible to say the least).

15. Playing a disc based game that skips all over in the cinematic scenes because the disc was slightly scratched at the wrong part, you could play the game, but could not see the video cutscenes which sucked at a time where the reason you passed the stages was to see the shiny graphically polished videos.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 things Final Fantasy XV needs in order to equal the older games

"It's been a long time... Too long. Not much longer..."

That phrase at the end of the Final Fantasy XV trailer still gives me chills because it has indeed been too long. Up until now the game looks like it's going to be epic, but at the same time fans of the Final Fantasy games of the golden years (late 90's) are still pondering about if this one will really be the revival of the franchise we were waiting for. Up until now everything points to a resounding "yes", but there are still a few things that the game will need in order to be up to par with its older brothers, so let's see what are those "things" that are mandatory for the newest entry in the series.

garden festival ffviii
Garden Festival (FFVIII)
1) Diversity of Events
Out of every Final Fantasy game in the 90's, we got a lot more than just fighting non-stop in order to advance the storyline. For example we have events like Fort Condor in FFVII, helping Selphie do the garden festival in FFVIII and even the spooky doom train in FFIII (VI). What diversity of events mean is that the game needs to put us in all kinds of situations that add value to our experience and gives us a little more than just punching our way through the story. The protagonists in FFXV are on a cross-country road trip, so if Square Enix doesn't do this, they will miss a great opportunity.

How close is FFXV from this?
It seems real close, judging for the city parts, demo gameplay and especially from the footage that shows how the game will be while infiltrating a military base.

celes suicide ffvi
Celes thinking about ending her life (FFIII or VI)
2) Dramatic and touching situations
Drama and touching/sad/cute moments are part of what made the old Final Fantasy games so special.Tifa and Cloud talking about their childhood dreams while sitting in the park where they used to play in FFVII and the scene where Celes is singing alone at the top of the hill thinking about ending her life in FFIII (VI) are great examples of AAA story telling and Final Fantasy XV will need this in order to captivate players to a point where the game becomes unforgettable.

How close is FFXV from this?
It seems too early to tell, but at least we know that Noctis has a seemingly deep background story involving his family and the war which shows a lot of promise. Let's just hope that there are a lot more stories like that.

treno ffix
Treno: The Dark City (FFIX)
3) Towns that feel alive
Towns are a big part of what encompasses a good rpg game and as older Final Fantasy games have taught us, a good town in a FF game is one where everywhere we explore we find something cool, be it an item inside a house, a side story or just a cleverly placed dialogue. As FFXV is a next (current) generation game, fans expect it to have towns that mean a lot more than mere resting hubs (I am looking at you FFXIII!).

How close is FFXV from this?
The FFXV demo proved that this can be done in the game, as the garage had a lot of detail even though it was just a small place. They only need to keep this level of detail on the cities that Noctis and his friends will explore and this requirement will be fulfilled.

zach side quest ffvi
Zach's side quest (FFIII or VI)
4) Side quests that actually mean something
Older FF games had some side quests in them and most of them had a good purpose and reward, rather than just killing x number of enemies for experience points or fetching something for an item. We all know that the game will be open world and that this type of design makes it hard to add significance to everything, but at least they could throw some quests now and then that makes us feel that we did good when we decided to stray from the main story of the game.

How close is FFXV from this?
This one is really an unknown factor, so we will all know about it when we actually play the full game. If they manage to pull this off even when the game has an open world design, they will definitely receive a lot of appreciation for it.

sephiroth ffvii
Sephiroth (FFVII)
5) Have cool and admirable characters
From the days of old up to our present time. Rpg fans have always appreciated cool and/or admirable characters that we can feel catharsis for. Be it a brave girl with a troubled past, an iron clad military general that fights his/her rival on an epic fight or just a mercenary that redefines the term "coolness", FFXV definitely needs to have something along those lines or else it will not be as memorable as its predecessors.

How close is FFXV from this?
Well, the protagonists are cool, but we need some other characters because the heroic/evil factor can't just fall on them alone. The footage where they show the characters going through a military facility shows a mysterious lancer type character (later revealed to be a girl called Aranea Highwind) at the very end of the video so yeah, we may get some cool characters after all.