So for some reason I had it in my head that I wanted to import that Dragon Quest trilogy for Switch. But, ugh, the price on that sucker felt a bit too steep given that it's ultimately three mobile ports of NES games. And to be honest, I don't even feel like the mobile ports look all that good.
But I had it in my head that I needed a copy of Dragon Quest because it was my first RPG as a kid and I don't know, I was feeling nostalgic. It turns out that the GBC port - which I have played and enjoyed - is now pretty expensive. So I guess I could seek out a NES cart of Dragon Warrior, but eh, I also kind of wanted the quality of life improvements (namely: being able to save anywhere) of the remake.
It dawned on me I could just buy the eShop game. I'll be honest, I REALLY prefer physical versions of games. But here we are. The trilogy was $50 to import, or I could nab the first game - the one I was in the mood to play - for $3 on sale. Oh, and because I had some eShop coins saved up... it was technically "free" for me to grab that game. So yeah. I got that version.
That was weeks ago. And it just sat on my home screen saying "hi" whenever I went and fired up Overwatch instead. So last night I figured, eh, maybe I'll give that one a shot for a while.
Like I said, Dragon Warrior was my first RPG. Final Fantasy was my second. And I vastly preferred FF, mainly because of the four-character party. But Dragon Quest bursts with personality. I can't hear that music without thinking of getting my free copy of the game from Nintendo Power back in the day. It was possibly the most awesome magazine promotion EVER. Ever.
Now about this Switch/mobile port. First of all... it looks like a mobile port. And I might have a sickness, because I did actually (try to) play this on Android some years back and was disturbed by how poor the Android version felt. In fairness, that was with touch controls and a forced portrait mode. PORTRAIT mode! Why??? The Switch version has neither of things, so I feel better. But I'll be honest here: it's ugly. At least the Hero is ugly. He doesn't look like he belongs in the same series of games as like those DS releases. Which feels weird. But whatever.
If you've never played Dragon Quest (or any of its sequels) you should know this: it opens up SLOW, dudes. Like real slow. And I spent about an hour grinding around the first town until I had enough loot for the best stuff at the shops. By then I was level 5. And so I went up to the little cave up north and read the tombstone and then went to the second village where - you guessed it - there's more expensive gear. So now I'm grinding around there.
I don't think I've ever taken the time to actually beat the first DQ. And I don't think it's actually a super long game. So I guess maybe I'll use this as sort of mindless grinding while listening to TV. For now. We'll see how it goes.
Mindless grinding while listening to TV? Yes!
I'm now level 10 and have done a fair amount of grinding for new armor and other stuff. My take on leveling has been thus: I go to a new town, check out the shop. I then take note of how much money I'll need to buy the absolute BEST stuff there, and then go out and kill stuff for an hour or whatever until I have enough for that best stuff. And there's your grind. But y'know what? It's kind of nice.
Having recently played through the DQXI demo, I'm in a total DQ fandom phase right now. Like, the other morning I sat and watched the first half of the new DQ Netflix movie with my daughter (who's teething by the way...). And I was just really in the mood for more DQ but didn't want to go out and buy a new game, so I just figured I'd get back into the first one. And dammit if I'm not having fun. The nostalgia bomb is in full effect.
It's funny how tastes change over time. But then again, time itself is funny. Or rather our perception of time - that perception itself changes over time. When you're a kid, everything feels like a long time. Then you grow up and time won't stop barrelling down the highway.
I was nine years old when Nintendo Power sent out free copies of Dragon Warrior. And while I thought the game was cool - I was really intrigued by all things Dungeons & Dragons at the time - I was far too young to really appreciate a slowburn like this. I didn't have the patience to grind, nor did I understand the necessity.
I was in my twenties when I played the GBC port of the game, and while I was drawn into the nostalgia of replaying it - again, I wasn't yet patient enough to truly savor the game. At the time, I was more into the fast-paced genres like shmups and fighters. Who has an hour to grind the same patch of a map to gain enough gold for new armor? I'll tell you who: a dude in his late thirties.
Last night my wife put on This Is Us, and I listened to the cabin saga unravel as I walked around hoping to find some Golems for big gold. I needed to get 7,700 gold for the magic armor that would replenish health as I walked. If this sounds boring to you, then you're just not there yet. For me, it was a perfect quiet night.
Look, Overwatch is pretty much my favorite game like ever. But sometimes playing that before bed is just too much for my brain. It makes it tough to get to sleep. (The same can be said for Tetris). But Dragon Quest? It's perfect for slowing things down.
Anyway, I got my magic armor and went off and rescued a princess from a dragon. This is the stuff of my D&D dreams as a kid. I know I've said for years that I prefer Final Fantasy games, but lately, I don't know. Maybe I don't need all the crazy or the teen angst anymore. Maybe tastes change. Maybe the pure and simple joy of Dragon Quest is exactly what the late thirties version of the gamer Me really needs.
It took me thirty years, but I can finally say I've beaten Dragon Quest. It was an awesome victory for me. And I was a bit nervous going into the final boss at level 20 (the level cap is 30) but I walked away unscathed, no problem.
The bigger victory is that I've walked away with this huge new love and respect for the Dragon Quest series. I'm hooked. These games rule.
Back when I was super into GameCube, I remember avoiding Four Swords Adventure because I ASSUMED it was a four-player only game, and I didn't have three friends with three GBA's to play it with. But then I found out there was a single player campaign so quickly picked it up and LOVED it. It was glorious to see a new 2D Zelda game on the GCN hardware. And the whole gimmick of swapping between four Links felt awesome.
Around the same time I picked up the Link To The Past port on GBA which included a similar game simply titled "Four Swords." This one unfortunately WAS a four-player only game, so I never messed with it.
Fast-forward quite a few years and somehow I ended up with a free copy of Four Swords Anniversary Edition on 3DS. I don't remember how I got this. Did everyone get it free? Hmm. Anyway, this updated port allows for you to play in single player so I figured why not finally get around to it?
Well, it turns out I don't like this game. It truly pains me to say this about a Zelda game. But I mean, it's gonna happen. I guess. The truth is it's been over a decade since I played Four Swords Adventure, so I don't really remember why I liked it so much or how this experience differs. I just know I'm not having fun.
The fact that the levels are sort of randomized, and the puzzles often don't make a whole heck of a lot of sense... the fact that you can put yourself into a no-win state AND NOT REALIZE IT. I mean, at what point do you just check a FAQ to see if there's a way to proceed or not? I don't like that kind of feeling in a game.
So yeah. About an hour into this I just quit. I'm all set.
If I was forced to pick a favorite Mega Man game of all time, it'd be Mega Man X. And I'd consider Mega Man X4 to be the second best X game in the series. I've loved that one for years. Which is sort of weird, because I don't actually think that the X series is all that good or consistent as a whole. But something about X4 has always just kind of clicked with me.
Last night I was sort of between games and not sure what I felt like playing so I fired up Mega Man X4 on the Switch Legacy Collection. I was all set to plow through this game that I'd beaten numerous times over the years. And then something dawned on me. Regardless of how much I was into this game, for some reason I had never bothered to play through it as Zero in the past. So I decided I'd finally do that.
Well it turns out that playing Zero's campaign is like a totally different game. Disclaimer here, I've actually never played any of those Zero/ZX games in the past. Something I might fix now that I've enjoyed his X4 campaign and given the upcoming release of the collection on Switch.
Anyway, Zero differs from X a lot. He uses his sword and relies on mostly melee attacks. He doesn't steal fallen boss robot powers, but instead learns new sword techniques. It's very very different. And it makes for a fun experience to play a game that I knew so well but with new powers and new limitations.
It only took me about two hours to rush through to the end, but I had a good time playing this game in a new light. Good stuff.
Overwatch on Switch is kind of a big deal for me. I'll cut right to the bottom line and say that I'd consider Overwatch to be my favorite game of the DECADE. It was such a big deal for me that I literally sold my Xbox One the week that the Switch port was announced. In fact, I was relieved that I didn't have to pay for another year of Xbox Live. Or Gold. Or whatever it was called.
Back when Overwatch launched in 2016, I actually preordered it based solely on how much I had enjoyed Hearthstone and Heroes Of The Storm. Two totally different games from a competitive 'hero shooter,' but I figured why not? And initially Overwatch felt like a Team Fortress kind of deal and I bounced off it. But a few months later I gave it another try, and started reading about it more and it just clicked with me.
In the years since, it's remained in my rotation. And I've actually kept up with it like no other game. Like I mentioned, I bought it again on Xbox One when I got out of PC gaming and had some friends willing to play it with me on console. Even weirder, I even got into Overwatch League, and have been watching it for the first two seasons.
I should maybe NOT admit how into the game I can be. But whatever. There's literally Luci-O's cereal in my kitchen right now. I still wear my Boston Uprising 'inaugural season' t-shirt probably weekly. I've received all kinds of Overwatch merch as gifts. Heck, there's even a Pachimari plush toy in my daughter's nursery. I'm just not like this about other games.
But please don't think I'm saying I'm good or anything. I'm not. I'm fine. I'm competent. I try hard. I care about not dragging my team down. But I'm perfectly happy staying in a casual lane. And when I'm practicing a new character, I'm also fine with playing against bots. I have no delusions of being great. But that's not what OW is about for me. It's just a great way to relax.
Anyway, I'm approaching this Switch port as someone who has played hundreds of hours over the past several years - both on PC and on Xbox One. Is the framerate lower? Yup. Are textures going to be simplified? Sure. Is it the absolute best version of OW available? Of course not. But here's the thing - and this is true of many Switch ports nowadays for me - it doesn't matter. What matters is that the EXPERIENCE is here. The past few nights I've played OW in a way I was never able to before: sitting on the couch, next to my wife while she read a book; or while listening to the TV in the background. It's an absolute game changer for me to have the ability to play OW without shutting myself away in the game room. And that is worth whatever sacrifices the port makes.
My personally, I don't find the handheld great for FPS games. I think my hands are too big, and I don't like position of the analog sticks. But I've been standing the Switch up and playing with a Pro Controller and it's perfect for me. People are going to hate that progression isn't cross platform. And that's a legit downer. But I can deal. I had to start over on console once before. It is what it is.
All I can tell you is this: since the Switch came out, my number one dream port was Overwatch. That's the one game I wanted, and now it's here. I'm beyond happy that this exists. And that it's playable! And for now, I'm having fun grabbing Halloween loot boxes as I slowly level up once again.
I had taken a break from Overwatch for the past few months because I felt like the rumors of it coming to Switch HAD to be true and I didn't want to re-up my Xbox subscription. Coming back to the game now is soooo comforting. Who says you can't go home again, folks?
Quick Play now has a queuing system where you choose the roles you're willing to play: Tank, Healer, or Damage. It's a nice touch. And now there are mandatory slots for two of each of those roles on a team. I can see the pros and cons of this, though I think the pros win ultimately.
The downside is that this may prevent some truly insane and interesting team compositions. I mean, if a team was really badass using six healers, I'd want to see that. Y'know? But really what this does is cut down on some tension on picks. There's no more situations where you go into a match annoyed that nobody wanted to play healer.
Of course a mandatory composition does mean that things could get sort of stale (such as with the so called GOATS meta that invaded Overwatch League for a while there... I remember the most exciting matches were ones where teams got creative with their picks and bucked the trend). But then on the flip, each class does have some picks that could still think outside the box. It's been shown that Zenyatta can be a legit pick for damage. And D.Va is a tank, sure, but she feels more like a damage-tank combo. Even Soldier 76 can be seen as a quasi-healer if played right.
The bigger thing for me is that it's helping me branch out a bit more outside of my chosen favorites. If I get called in to tank and someone else picks D.Va (my absolute favorite in the game) then I need to get better with someone else. And though it seems like I get picked to damage less than the other roles (not surprising), it's fun to see what the team looks like and pick accordingly, bouncing around between whoever - Solider 76 or Widowmaker or anyone really.
Anyway, I'm still having a blast YEARS into playing this game. The Halloween event is always fun, and starting from scratch (YET AGAIN) means unlocking new skins and stuff feels sort of more exciting than it had for me in a while.
I mentioned before that I actually quite like the new 2-2-2 role requirement in quick play. Well, this is why... it's forced me to start experimenting with new characters instead of sticking solely to my favorites. Personally, I always queue up to play ANY role and let the cards fall where they fall.
It's rare that I get picked to play damage, but when I do there's generally a few picks I'll have. I've been a longtime fan of Soldier 76. But I'll sometimes attempt Widowmaker on a defend map. And there's a handful of others I enjoy playing. So that's not too much to think about.
On the tank front, D.VA's been my favorite forever. Though given my preference to play her somewhat aggressively, I'll now tend to wait and see what the other tank player chooses and try to compliment them with D.VA or Orissa as necessary. So that's cool.
For a while support was a tough role for me. If I could get Zenyatta then I was happy. I feel like I'm comfortable with him and can kind of swap between playing him aggressively or not depending on the situation. However, I didn't really have a secondary support so if someone grabbed him first then I felt like a detriment. Until now.
It turns out that I REALLY enjoy playing as Ana as well. As a sniper, she feels a little less stressful or stealthy to play as than Widowmaker. And as a healer she's interesting as her ammo heals allies which means you're still doing a ton of shooting and throwing grenades for damage while healing at the same time. It's an interesting approach. Plus, her sleep darts are badass if used in a well thought out way. Congrats, Overwatch. You've made it fun to play support.
You can't open competitive play in OW until you hit level 25. Not that I play comp, but it's still like a badge to earn. And obviously I've already done this on PC and Xbox One long ago. Anyway, last night I was a small bit of XP away from 25, so I'm like I want to do this as D.VA (my fav) and make this an awesome win. It was a payload map. We're so close. We can see the goal. Clock's ticking down. Four seconds left. Their whole team is like a brick wall. I use my boosters and fly up over them, drop behind them and self destruct and jump on the payload un-meched. We're in OT now. It's moving slow. My team catches up to me. I'm back in the mech. Problem is we're right at their side, so as they respawn they have like zero walk to get back to us and defend. Overtime, overtime, overtime, it just keeps going. Every time I see one of their players go down, two more respawn. If one of us go down it's a longer walk to get back. Overtime, overtime, overtime, just keeps going! We are but an inch away from victory but they won't let up. I get un-meched and pushed back and we lose. My heart's pounding. I hit 25. I send kudos to three of my teammates. Even though it was a loss, it felt like a win in the same way that Rocky did. We lost, but I knew I had played the hardest and smartest that I could of. I did everything "right." Every decision was what I should have been doing, they just played better. But that's okay.
I always enjoy the holiday events in Overwatch. I feel like the temptation of those limited edition skins really brings out the best (skill) in players. Which is to say, I've been seeing a lot of losses this week. Everyone wants those sweet sweet skins. I'm close to nabbing that Soldier 76 ugly sweater myself.
It's crazy that a game that I've been playing on other consoles for years is already my #5 most played Switch game right now. This is within a two month span!
Also I got a Play Of The Game as Zenyatta which blew me away. It's not often you see a POTG from a Support. And it was for actually saving lives, not for kills. I think he's my best Support - easily - yet, I admit also play him fairly aggressively. So it was cool seeing the POTG was me dropping Transcendence at just the right time to turn the tides.
The new season of Overwatch League started over the weekend. It was exciting for me, and thank goodness my daughter decided to take a nap just in time for me to catch Boston Uprising's match against New York. Sadly, NYXL crushed the Uprising but it was still a lot of fun to get back into OWL.
The Uprising's roster is totally different this year. I only recognized two faces - Fusions and Colourahex. And the rest of the chairs are filled by rookies, which is interesting anyway. Clearly from this game it looks like they've got a ways to go before the gain the synergy that some of my favorite players shared.
One of the reasons I love watching OWL is because it pumps me up to play the damn game, though. Like, I only started playing Zenyatta last year after catching some phenomenal plays with him in OWL. And because of that I started playing him fairly aggressive. Watching this game, it got me pumped to play Tracer who I haven't bothered with since the beta in 2016. I jumped into a game last night and on my first map as Tracer got like 14-1 KDR. That felt good.
There are good Zelda clones and bad Zelda clones. The good ones are few and far between. Things like Golden Axe Warrior or 3D Dot Game Heroes. Those stand out to me as games that sort of understood what makes Zelda great. And then there are others that just go for a similar look or playstyle and hope for the best without really grasping what makes a great game. Quest For Camelot is pretty much the latter.
Having said that, I still think that digging through old licensed games is a pretty interesting thing. You find these games made based on random movies or whatever and you never really know what they'll be. More often than not it's a collectathon platformer. But every once in a while, you'll find that a developer used a license to just make a tribute to a game. It's sort of a backdoor way to make a sequel to a series you wish you got to work on.
I've never seen the movie Quest For Camelot. I don't even remember it. Apparently it was a late 90's thing and must have been fairly big budget as it's got a decent enough voice cast. It looks to me like kind of a Disney wannabe deal. Also the art reminds me a bit of Dragon's Lair.
Anyway the game is a total Zelda ripoff. But not in a good way. For one thing there's no overworld, so each area is just its own thing. You start in a village, and that's one level. There's a few tasks you'll need to do to advance to the next. So in the village I had to find five chickens (boring) and then get a sword and then learn to use it and then kill all the knights in that area (boring).
The battle system is pretty meh. But at least you can upgrade your sword's power by killing more enemies. By far the worst thing here is the menu system. The music is awful - that's a close second. And it's repetitive so after a while I just shut the volume off. But the menu... Okay, so to save your game you need to equip "SAVE" by mapping it to one of the buttons. So press Start, and select Save, then Start to get back to the game and hit the button you mapped Save to. Then you wait a second and asks if you want to save. Then you wait a second and it confirms it saved. So every time you load a saved game you immediately have to go into that same menu and unequip the Save thingy. It's so so bad. OH! And it costs you 30 gold to save! Which wouldn't be so bad if my cart didn't seem to have some issues causing it to glitch randomly making me paranoid of losing any progress! UGH!
The second level is a castle. In here I had to find a guy's dog (boring) and then I got a shield and then I had to kill all the ghosts (boring) and then I could open a magic door to get the hookshot to get to the roof to the dungeon key which let me fight the boss. He... did nothing. I just hit him over and over and he just kinda walked around. On to level three.
So yeah. This game sucks. It feels like a poor man's Crystalis. It's janky and clunky and bad. But... I might stick with it. How Long To Beat says it's like a four hour game, and I'm a sucker for short games. Also, I happen to have the issue of Nintendo Power that contains a walkthrough. So it should be a breeze? We'll see if I can hang in there long enough to finish this bad game.
Retro sports games are a tricky thing. There's this weird balancing act going on between being - for lack of better terms - too retro or too modern. Take for example some of the greats... you've got your NHL 94's and NBA Jams and so on. These games feel retro, yes. They don't have all the modern features or quality of life additions. But they don't feel quite as old and basic as like... y'know, Baseball on NES or something like that.
I guess the thing is this - I can't really describe what makes a retro sports game compelling to me. I just know it when i play it. There are some retro sports games that just feel a little too old to me and make me wish I was playing something newer with better controls or better features or what have you. Others hit the mark, such as the aforementioned NHL 94. That game - I could obviously pick up a far newer hockey title, but why? That game is so perfect.
I fired up Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr today which is a totally different game than Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball. Try to wrap your head around that titling convention. Even worse is that there were other games in the series like Ken Griffey Jr's Winning Run or whatever. This was before it was obvious that sports games would end up being annual things so just stick a year after them. Or then again, maybe it wasn't because remember - NHL 94.
Anyway, for clarity here, I'll refer to this N64 game as simply "MLB," but you'll get it. So I fired up MLB today because mostly I wanted to finally get a chance to mess around with this new N64 wireless controller that I got. The Hyperkin Admiral was launched right around Christmas, and I grabbed one with an Amazon gift card. This thing is really sweet. First of all, it ditches the old bulky N64 controller design altogether and instead apes those Hori pads that were released in Japan. If you haven't seen them, they tend to be way closer to something like a Gamecube controller. It is infinitely more comfortable than the stock N64 controller. Also of comfort is that this thing is wireless. That's huge for me. My TV is far enough away from my couch that I'd need to use an extension cable on N64. That's such a pain and makes more of a mess with wires everywhere. So anyway, I will go ahead and recommend the Admiral controller. It's pretty excellent.
MLB on the other hand, it's good. Just good. It's fine. Nothing special. Nothing bad. That sort of fence I talked about between Retro and Modern, it kind of sits on that fence in a frustrating way. It feels retro enough that it's sort of got an arcade feel. But it's not QUITE simple enough to feel charming. The default batting controls are way too tough for me to feel comfortable with so I have to switch it to Classic mode which is a lot easier, but on the other hand pitching feels so over-simplified that it's almost boring to me. Fielding is so so. But also the game also feels kind of modern in the sense that the 3D looks pretty damn good here, and the voice work is actually pretty impressive. The problem there is that if I'm comparing it to a modern baseball game then the presentation leaves a fair amount to be desired.
I guess what I'm saying is that while I can't find any true faults with this game - I actually think it's perfectly competent - it leaves me wishing I was playing something either truly charmingly retro (I always had a soft sport for LJN's MLB game on NES) or something truly realistically modern (was there a good baseball game on Wii U? I don't think so. Wii, though right?). So yeah. I don't know.