A search for the heart of gaming
My sentiments here have been echoed thousands of times throughout the course of gaming’s existence, at least over the past decade or so, so I apologize if it seems like this is rehashed. It’s just how I feel, and I’m hoping that it connects somewhere along the way.
Streamlining ‘Destiny’ with minimal but good content
Bungie’s “Destiny” has had a contentious life. From the promise of a sweeping space epic from E3 a few years ago to the segmented and fairly small - albeit very polished - game we ended up getting last September, opinions are generally polarized. To Bungie’s credit, they’ve been cutting down the amount of grinding and frustration necessary to make a decent character, but the real shame is in the lack of content. There just hasn’t been a whole lot for the “Destiny” faithful to do.
How the hardcore help the casual
The post-arcade world has had a gentrifying effect on the tenacity of the majority of gamers. Once the hardcore players started leaving the battlefield of blinking screens and started bringing home the games that they enjoyed, suddenly people forgot their roots steeped in pursuit of the leaderboard.
A cautionary tale of corporate involvement
It wasn’t too long ago that Nintendo completely ignored not only the competitive Smash community, but pretty much the entire Smash community as a whole. Any events or tournaments that fans created were summarily dismissed; the Big N never mingled with the fan base they had created. The “Smash Bros.” community would simply dive into the grassroots, powered only by their love for the game and the support of each other.
“Final Fantasy Record Keeper” might as well be called “We Packaged A Bunch of Nostalgia Up For You.” Square Enix has taken the “Final Fantasy” series, condensed it down into a lovely sprite form, and made a fair free-to-play system that doesn’t feel pay-to-win, the end result being an excellent stop-and-pop mobile game that tugs on the heartstrings of fans old and new.
The (fairly light) story revolves around the keeper of a gallery of the “Final Fantasy” stories getting thrust into all of the worlds he’s been taking care of after an event throws all of history into chaos. The result is a game-hopping romp that collects your favorite characters and scenes from a myriad of “Final Fantasy” games and mashes them together in glorious, turn-based combat. You set up your party, pick a game world to hop into and then fight your way through dungeons, leveling up and reliving the past glories of the SNES, PS1 and PS2 games, complete with fantastically made sprite art. Party customization is robust, and setting up your party for success with equipment and abilities is just as important as your character levels.
What a terrible night to have a curse!
It’s all very familiar. My character is awakened in a dark, dingy place with nothing but my bare hands and a few scraps of clothing. There’s a beast up ahead that I have little to no chance of defeating in my current situation, and the gigantic werewolf-ish thing is taking up my only route of escape. I’m probably about to die, but I will absolutely go down swinging and flailing wildly rather than let death take me gently by dismemberment.
It’s definitely a “Souls” game. Make no mistake about it, “Bloodborne,” despite its new locale and the gothic, Van Helsing vibe that runs through it, hearkens back to its predecessors and finds all new ways to make you love the fact that you want to break your controller.
The grassroots fighting game scene right here in Maine
I’m not sure if I put too much stock in it, or if I actually put any stock in at all. I’m in a gazebo surrounded by a bunch of other men and women, most of them sharing the same steely-eyed gaze toward the myriad screens showing a mix of “Street Fighter,” various iterations of “Super Smash Bros.” and the occasional oddball game of “Killer Instinct” or “Guilty Gear Xrd.” My next match is about to be called, and while I’m not necessarily nervous, I don’t feel particularly warmed up, either. I haven’t played the current iteration of “Street Fighter” consistently for close to six months, and my first tournament match of the night just showed that. It’s double elimination, so I have a chance to redeem myself here or watch myself dip out of the brackets with zero dignity or grace.
Modern games that should be arcade classics
There was once a time when gaming was done inside of arcades, and multiplayer meant getting face-to-face with both your compatriots and enemies alike, dumping pounds of quarters into machines in a bid to put your initials at the top of the leaderboards. Even though arcades have died and taken their place in our memories, the spirit of those games carries on today and inspires an entirely new generation of developers. Here are a few games that could easily have had cabinets in a Dave & Buster’s in the ’80s and ’90s:
Game soundtracks that tied games together
I was recently stuck in a Tim Horton’s, with naught but my phone and some delicious buffalo chicken mac ‘n’ cheese to keep my ADD mind from exploding out of boredom. However, I knew I had a bit of saving grace encased in my Otterbox, the Squaresoft (now Square Enix) classic “Chrono Trigger.” Just as I was about to enter back into that world that held a more wibbly-wobbly timeline than the good Doctor Who himself, I had a thought: I had no headphones. Now, “Chrono Trigger” is one of those timeless games, an RPG that truly transcends gaming trends to earn its place amongst the classics, but being a decent human being that doesn’t take incredible joy in bothering the strangers closest to him by using his cell phone as a boom box, I couldn’t partake in the music that brings it all together in one glorious package. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t force every customer in that Timmy’s to listen to Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu’s incredible soundtrack, and without that music, I couldn’t bring myself to play an incomplete version of a game I loved.
Where the love of a gaming began
It started when you first invited me over to your house and placed your fresh copy of “Final Fantasy VIII” into your PS1. From the very first moment of that CGI opening, my mouth was agape and my eyes were insatiable for those pre-rendered backgrounds and pixelated polygons mixed in the holiest of matrimonies. Watching Squall and his party walking in synchronous step through the gorgeous scenery of Balamb Garden set my mind on fire. As someone that had an NES and SNES for the greater part of his childhood, seeing graphics like this was completely unexpected. I wanted more. I needed more.
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