Final Fantasy V is one of the mainline FF games that I never got around to playing. Of course back in the SNES days I didn't even know it existed, since it didn't actually come to the US. Instead, we got Final Fantasy IV and VI repackaged as II and III. It was a confusing time to be a gamer. And I mean, when suddenly Final Fantasy VII showed up on our shores, I was definitely baffled at what we had missed.
Anyway, I had always kind of meant to play V, but it was sort of lower on my list. See, any mention of V comes with mention of its job system, and I think I was worried that V was going to be like II - which is a game that I pretty much hate.
But over the past few years I've played and adored both Octopath Traveler and Bravely Second, which are for all intents and purposes, spiritual sequels to Final Fantasy V. So I felt like now was a good time to finally dig into that official English translation that we got on the GBA all those years ago. I even bought an aftermarket for my GBA SP, since it wasn't holding a good charge.
Right off the bat, the game looks terrific. It's got that classic 16-bit look that IV and VI are so beloved over. I'm probably two or three hours in now, though I can't be certain because apparently putting the GBA in sleep mode still keeps the in-game clock running, so it thinks I've played seven hours.
The game is a little talkier than I'd like, but maybe that's just the beginning. The job system is really cool - and familiar to me because of Bravely/Octopath. For now I'm rolling with a very traditional "Four Heroes Of Light" set-up with a Knight, Thief, White Mage and Black Mage.
I made it up to the ship graveyard, and to a boss fight that completely wrecked me. I think I need to do some grinding here. I think my party is hovering around LVL 7 right now. But yeah. Solid game so far.
Alright, so Final Fantasy V is definitely one of the good ones. Boss battles are no joke, and keep you thinking. They're like little strategy puzzles or something. Good stuff. Definitely does remind me of Octopath/Bravely games. And I like that.
I've made some good progress. Leveled everyone up to LVL 10 and am fighting my way through the mountain to the north. Also got some fresh new gear.
The job system is super interesting, and yet I've barely messed with it. The game was made to welcome exploiting the job system to your heart's content, and yet I'm sort of approaching it like a standard FF game where I'm trying to see what happens if I keep the basic Four Heroes lineup I started with and see what kind of challenge that presents.
At any rate, V is sort of like if II had been a good game.
I lied. I could not resist the allure of the jobs system once new ones were offered up. So now my Knight is a Mystic Knight; White Mage is Red Mage; Thief is Berzerker; and Black Knight is Blue Knight.
I don't really understand what the Mystic Knight does.
The Red Mage I'm also confused about. Her Red Mage ability should allow me to use both black and white magic, but only white magic is showing up in the menu - none of the black magic I've purchased for my party is there.
The Berzerker seems to attack on his own, without my input. I don't know how I feel about that - but he does he hard and looks cool.
The Blue Mage is so far not a huge upgrade because I have no blue magic. Or rather, I guess blue magic is spells you learn from monsters? I'm not sure how that happens, but it hasn't yet.
So I'm confused, but intrigued.
Two things: this game is great; and I don't know that I have the time to commit to it right now.
I made some good progress. My Berzerker became a Ninja. My Blue Mage learned some monster spells. I beat the ship section that leads to the Fire Crystal. Then I went of to a library. I was feeling good.
The library was really cool by the way. The monsters all come out of books and are just named page numbers. Weird touch. But then I got to the boss battle and got wrecked. I checked a guide online, and the suggested party level is 24 for this boss. My party is all level 14. Wow.
So this is my issue - I love natural grinding in RPG's. Meaning, I'll fight every battle from town to town. And then when I get to a new town, I'll grind around there until I can afford the best armor, weapons and spells. To me, that should be enough grinding to feel natural. Like, I'm just organically leveling up as I need to. But to get to a boss - and have no problem in that dungeon! - only to find out that I should be like ten levels higher? Man, I just don't think I have the time for this.
Back before we had a baby in the house, I had no issue staying up until midnight to play a game. Now, my gaming time (and sleep time) is far more limited. So unfortunately, I don't think I'll be sticking with Final Fantasy V much longer. Which is a shame as it's an excellent game. Some day, I will return to it. Some day.
So this is interesting. When I was a kid, I loved Donkey Kong Country on SNES. And yet, when I went back and replayed it a year ago or so, I was very underwhelmed. I assumed that meant I just wasn't really a fan of the DK series anymore. Yet, I decided to play Donkey Kong Land III this week out of curiosity. I played the Game Boy trilogy of games about a decade ago and was super impressed with them. Our baby has had sleeping issues the past week, so it felt like I wanted to play something fairly simple to try to relax before bed.
Anyway, here's what's interesting - about thirty minutes in, I kind of feel like the Donkey Kong Land games on GB might actually hold up better over the years than their big brother console analogs. I don't know. I'm still very early into playing this one. But it kind of feels like when bringing these games to GB they simplified in such a way as to highlight the pure platforming and omit a lot of the BS that infuriated me about the SNES games. Maybe I'm wrong, and I just haven't seen enough yet. We'll find out.
But for right now, I'm having a good time. And I actually find the visuals are just insanely impressive on GB. I don't know how they managed to get that faux polygon look working on such primitive hardware. In demaking it, they made it even more awesome. Which is ironic because I find the SNES games now look horribly dated.
I changed my mind. While I'm still impressed with the technical feats of Donkey Kong Land III, I find it still suffers from the same problem I tend to have with EVERY Donkey Kong Country/etc game. Basically, the solid platforming lulls me into feeling like I'm going to like the game, only to find that I get thrown into some part that's just so frustrating that I end up tossing the controller (or in this case, 3DS) aside in disgust after dying over and over again.
The first big boss fight of the game is against an oyster who lets smaller oysters go after you (you're a swordfish at this part, by the way) and you need to wait until the right moment to push them into the big oyster. This is after avoiding them AND getting them into the right position to be aimed at him. The problem is your sprite is so large that dodging them is a huge issue. So after seven or eight deaths, I just gave up. Why? Because the game stopped feeling fun. Just stopped dead in its tracks. Ugh.
Wow. Tastes really do change over the years. Back when Ninja Gaiden III was released, it seemed like a big deal. I would have been ten years old at the time. And NOTHING was cooler than ninjas. I remember getting this one for Christmas and being so psyched. Back then, I guess I had more patience. I definitely had more time. And less responsibilities. And stress.
I'm 39 now. And Ninja Gaiden III... I don't have the patience for. Even playing on Wii U with save states. Yeah. I can't be bothered to trial and error my way through this one.
Wait. I should at least point out the good. This game looks excellent. This was a late era SNES game, arriving on North American shores at the same time as the SNES itself. So developers definitely had time to know what they were doing with NES games by this point. And it shows.
The graphics are far more polished than on say the first Ninja Gaiden. And Tecmo was smart enough by this point to steal the whole hanging from pipes thing that Shadow Of The Ninja had done when they ripped of Ninja Gaiden. So it's come full circle. (Actually, in a funny turn of events a planned Shadow Of The Ninja port eventually turned into a full on new Ninja Gaiden game on Game Boy called - wait for it - Ninja Gaiden Shadow. The 90's were truly the wild west of video games).
But I digress. These ramblings here fully display that at this point I'd have more fun TALKING about old Ninja Gaiden games than actually playing them. So be it.
The Game Boy Mega Man games are an interesting bunch. Instead of straight ports, the first four were essentially remixes. So like this first game in the series is a mix of levels from the NES Mega Man 1 & 2. And the levels aren't really the same, either. So again, they're like remixes. The fifth GB game was an original beast of itself. But I'll talk about that one another time. Maybe.
Playing this first game, though... I'm both impressed and bored. For one thing, I'm probably pretty Mega Manned out these days. And I did run through both 1 & 2 on NES not that long ago. So it's kind of a slog to replay these levels in lesser form.
Mega Man moves SLOW in this one. And his sprite feels gigantic. The whole thing just feels a little off to me. Between the slow movement, and the fact that The Monochrome Bomber takes up way too much screen real estate, it just kind of proves to be an exercise in frustration. I found myself dying way too often because of things that felt out of my control - platforms I didn't realize were platforms, or annoying enemy placement.
I feel like this game was definitely impressive upon its initial release, but going back to it really doesn't feel fun. There's just way too many Mega Man games that I have access to now, and this one doesn't seem worth the time.
Look, I love a good JRPG. Heck, I even love some not so good JRPG's. But right now, my time is limited. Having just spent the duration of one of my daughter's naps playing Summon Knight: Swordcraft Story, I am not impressed.
First of all, how much inane dialogue can you stand? My threshold is fairly low. And after the umpteenth time that I had to read my character respond with some form of "are you kidding," and then the other NPC saying, "no, I'm not kidding," I realized that this isn't exactly a compelling script.
Of course I don't always play RPG's for the story. Mostly I don't really. And I knew that this one was a dungeon crawler, so I was excited to get to the grind. But my goodness that took a long time. And once I finally set foot inside a dungeon I had all of my optimism for this game crushed. The combat is HORRIBLE.
Battles take place on a 2D view, and it's sort of like sidescrolling fights. Think Zelda II, only horrible. Basically, you can move, attack or guard. It's beyond boring. You can't even jump. I don't know. It feels like they tried to make this an action game, but sucked the fun out of the action.
I made my way to the first tournament, promptly saw a Game Over and just shut the game off in disgust. Nothing felt fun about this experience for me. Not the dungeon crawl, not the weapon crafting, not the story or characters - NOTHING. I don't say this often about a game, but I'm pretty sure I hate this one.
Maybe I'm spoiled. Maybe because I came to this one so late, I've had the pleasure of playing Etrian Odyssey games already and those are A+ dungeon crawlers. This game, who knows - perhaps if I had played it way back when it was released, maybe I'd have liked it. I'm not sure. But yeah. I think it sucks now.
Who doesn't like a good Breakout clone? I do. There's something kind of pure about such a simple game. And I have memories of playing SOME version of Breakout on everything from an old Tandy PC when I was a kid to Alleyway on Game Boy or who knows - Flash homebrew games in a web browser or whatever.
I also enjoy digging through obscure shovelware from time to time. And Break Em All on DS is just that. Yet it has one glaring flaw for me: stylus controls.
Are you kidding me? Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one? Who really thought that the ONLY way I'd want to play Breakout is with a stylus? This is just dumb. At least give us the OPTION to use the d-pad. Wow.
So I'll be honest, I didn't even really dig into this one. There's various modes, such as a boss rush and so on, but I'm not even interested because actually PLAYING the damn game feels like a chore. These sort of forced gimmick control schemes always bummed me out. I'm happy when games took advantage of the capabilities of hardware. But my goodness, don't force the gamer to play something familiar in an uncomfortable way. Hard pass.
So for a while now I've been really into collecting old Nintendo Power magazines and going through them and making lists of old games that scored well. So far it's been a fascinating journey and leading me to good games, bad games, classics and forgotten games.
Having now played Tecmo NBA, I KNOW that I played this back in like sixth grade at this kid, Richard's house. I bet I was even into it at the time. But man. It feels rough to play now. Just wrapping my head around the controls feels like a chore, and all that flicker is maddening.
So yeah, unfortunately I don't have a lot to say about this one. I'm sure it was a marvel at the time, but it's painful to play now.
Having said that, I used this game to test out my new My Arcade Retro Champ which my wife got me for my birthday. It's this cool tablet thingy that plays NES and Famicom games. So far, it seems absolutely awesome and I look forward to tackling some better games on it. I feel like this device is PERFECT for RPG's.