Hello Master Malstrom,

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I recently got the Retro gaming bug, and purchased an NES from Disc Replay and made sure everything is working correctly! I have bought many games, including Final Fantasy. I started playing the series on the Playstation as VII was my first game and loved it. Then I started to play its classic games with IV and VI (FF2, and 3 on the SNES). I notice how different the series has changed since Square transitioned from supporting Nintendo with the Franchise to Sony, and to be honest, I don’t like where the series is heading. I have played all Playstation FF’s and VIII being praised as the best FF ever from the fanboys has me a different view as it was the start of the down turn of the series.
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FFVIII was the start of Square now more catering to the Japanese market, with so many J-Pop themes and high school love story. Sakaguichi started to believe he was competent on making movies due to the cutscenes and making the entire franchise more like a cinematic simulator.
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Fastforward today, this is Final Fantasy XV
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What has happened to the Series? This new group of characters look like a generic boy band! The Japanese influence is strong and I have no doubt that this game will cripple Square Enix in cash as it taking 9 plus years to make.
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What has happened to Final Fantasy? Why do you ask such questions? You might as well ask ‘How high is the sky?’ or ‘How deep is the ocean’ or ‘Who is Sean Malstrom?’
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I think a better question is to ask what made Final Fantasy so epic in the first place. I love, love, love the first game (as well as the SNES titles). I ought to play Final Fantasy III using a language patched emulated version.
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I’ll give you one clue why I love the early FF games (I, IV, VI) aside from good fundamentals, etc. The games do an AMAZING job of contextualizing.
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Examples in Final Fantasy I:
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The ‘game’ is about killing Garland and saving the princess. You do that and cross the bridge. Only THEN does the intro credits begin. The game was trying to say, “Ahh, you thought the game was over. But the truth is that the game has just begun!” I really like how you slowly go through the world. I like how you go to a town conquered by pirates, kill the pirates to save the town, then you get a boat! I love the ancient technology in the game such as flying castles and shit up in the north where ‘civilization has crumbled’. Quite ominous!
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Final Fantasy succeeds when it is mythical. Mythical means the further back in time, the greater the technology (the opposite of modernity where future is where better technology is).
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Examples in Final Fantasy IV:
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The plot twists are crazy fun. Oh, a little girl. Girl casts Titan. Giant Earthquake! hahahaha I love how the characters join and leave your character at will. But there is always that contextual shift. OH LOOK! THERE IS THE UNDERWORLD! And you thought you were done! But that isn’t enough. OH LOOK! THERE IS THE MOON! The game seems huge by lowering your expectations of what the world size is early on.
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Examples in Final Fantasy VI:
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OH LOOK! WE BLEW UP THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! That’s pretty cool. If you want an experience like Final Fantasy VI, I suggest Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle (but do play Part I first). VI didn’t use technology as the mythological greater past but magic itself. At the end of the game, all your characters are casting Ultima and watching shit die to 9999 damage. So overpowered! So fun!
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I need to replay Final Fantasy I…. again. I usually go with the Fighter, Ninja, Black W, White W vanilla combo. I have done the 4 White W thing which is so not fun. With 4 White W, you just run from everything in the dungeon over and over and over skipping all chests (because they can’t equip anything anyway). I’d like the try the Red Mage but BW/WW magic is soooo good.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2014

Email: Blizzard’s Project Titan gets axed

Master Malstrom,
 
You’re probably inundated with emails on this news report right now, but here you go:
 
 
This is one of the reasons why Blizzard is still at, if not near, the top of their game in terms of quality, in my opinion
 
Some quotable quotes:
 
“We didn’t find the fun,” Morhaime continued. “We didn’t find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that’s the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.”
 
Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice president of story and franchise development, called the decision to cancel Titan “excruciating.” Morhaime agreed: “It’s always really, really hard to make those kind of decisions. It was hard when we canceled Warcraft Adventures. It was hard when we canceled StarCraft Ghost. But it has always resulted in better-quality work.”
 
“The discipline of knowing when to quit is important,” Metzen said. “We were losing perspective and getting lost in the weeds a little. We had to allow ourselves to take that step back and reassess why the hell we were doing that thing in the first place.”
Oh, that other game companies might be humble enough to do just this! In fact they also make mention of “smaller games” such as Hearthstone and HotS playing a factor in their decision, noting that it proved that they as a company didn’t need to hedge themselves in making games of a certain scale in order to be popular. In fact I love their quote about canceling products that might damage the trust gamers have in their games instead of trying to push through with it (*cough* ET, Sonic 2006 *cough*).
 
Hopefully this will mark the decline of “Soon™”.
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Blizzard is still one of the few game companies I actually like. There is much spilled milk over Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 but those are quality games. The spilled milk is coming from those who idealized their predecessors. You have to take games as they are. It took me a long while to appreciate Starcraft because I was so hung up on Warcraft 2. It took me a while to appreciate Warcraft 3 because I was hung up on Starcraft and Warcraft 2. World of Warcraft did so well in part because it was Blizzard’s first MMORPG. Titan would not have satisfied WoW fans because Titan would be a different game than WoW. Hearthstone did so well also because there was no Blizzard predecessor. Hearthstone 2, if such a game is made, will not match the love of current Hearthstone players.
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I’m not sure how Heroes of the Storm will be received.
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Blizzard is doing what I want them to do: make smaller games. Smaller games are actually Malstrom-sized games. For consoles, I consider 16-bit type games to be where I want them to be in terms of game length. I still think Final Fantasy 6 is an epic game. It takes 30 hours to beat it. Now every game takes 30 hours so there is much bloat.
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The games I want:
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Sequel to Rock and Roll Racing (3d perspective instead of overhead. 3d has been good to gaming. PC needs a Mario Kart type game badly)
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Turn Based Games like Master of Magic, Master of Orion, and Civilization.
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Warcraft 4
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Warcraft 1 and 2 Remastered.
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Starcraft 1 Remastered (this would actually be interesting to see).
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Another game about the Lost Vikings.
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I think Titan’s business model is ultimately what killed it. I am not a fan of free-to-play model, and I am still not. That model is good for third world countries. The problem is that the macro-economics have changed. We are all third world countries now. Subscription based will not work. Blizzard has to operate based on that.
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And when the hell is Legacy of the Void going to appear? The RTS team is doing Heroes so what happened to it? At least complete the damn Starcraft 2 story despite how nonsensical it has been.
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Here is the info about the movie. The director has figured out the magic of RTS storytelling. RTS storytelling was so strong, stronger than any other video game genre, because it depicted multiple perspectives. In Warcraft, you could be Humans or Orcs. Each has their own value structures. Each had their own perspective and feel. Just playing one wasn’t enough. Warcraft 3 was close to erring by making the four campaigns serialized instead of parallel. Starcraft 2 did commit full error in having only one side per expansion. RTS fun is about exploring different perspectives to the same conflict. Starcraft 2 doesn’t do this. Worse, Starcraft 2 is more character based than faction based. There are no Terran, Zerg, and Protoss campaigns. There is only Raynor, Kerrigan, and Zeratul campaigns. It is so dumb. Warcraft 4 better be about factions and not characters!
Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2014

Email: I’m looking forward to “game culture” dying

I’ve been following the GamerGate scandal for a while now (It’s been going on for a month), and the more I learn what’s going on, the more I want to see gaming culture collapse like a house of cards.  This is a battle that neither side will win at the end because both sides are making fools of themselves and I’m basically just sitting back and watching everything go to hell in a handbasket.There was even a video I saw last night about how gaming used to be back in the good old days, when we didn’t need to worry about over hyping games that ultimately don’t live up to their expectations (Watch Dogs and Destiny anyone?), people getting murdered or threatened over gaming systems or Call of Duty multiplayer matches (And it always involves Sony or Microsoft for some reason, never Nintendo, though I could be wrong), etc.

The Anti-Gamergate side is digging their own graves.  These social justice warriors are now starting to dox people in support of Gamergate, and backers of the Mighty No. 9 game are getting banned because they support Gamergate (The Community Manager is a SJW) and straw feminists are being just as immature as the gamers themselves.
And I know why, too.  Both sides at the end of the day are not so different.  Because both sides are fighting in the name of their politics, not in the name of solving the problem.  Both sides are not rational because they refuse to be rational.

I’ve found this quote in particular to be full of truth:

“I see the whole thing as hardcore gamer culture cannibalising itself.

Since the “cinematic” era of gaming began in the late 90s, hardcore gamers have been on a constant mission to “prove” something, anything, through games. Proving that games can be for adults, proving that games can be art, proving that games can be bastions of modern morality. Every time a big budget, cinematic, narrative-driven game was released by the AAA industry, hardcore gamers praised it to the heavens because it “proved” that gaming was sophisticated now. And if you showed preference for the old arcade-style games of the past, the hardcore would taunt you for your backwards thinking. In short, hardcore gamers since 1998 have been entitled little shits.

Hardcore gamer culture created people like Anita Sarkeesian, the gamers who think about games only in terms of narrative and social representations (even when it’s fucking Super Mario Bros.). These people feel entitled to lecture everyone about strong characters and ethical representations at every possible opportunity. Hardcore gamer culture also created a big budget industry devoted to blood, titillation and a veneer of “sophistication”. Is it really any wonder then that we also have a culture of entitled sexist male gamers, given that the biggest developers have spent the last fifteen years and billions of collective dollars stroking their massive throbbing egos?

This shitstorm is the hardcore gamers finally turning their entitled snobbery on each other. How about I get some popcorn and we just sit back and laugh at this whole stupid mess?”

 

I have a very succinct definition of the gamer versus hardcore gamer. The gamer plays games. The hardcore gamer is played by games. This is revealed in some of the following examples:

-Hardcore gamer tunnel focusing on just getting a higher score than ‘friends’.

-Hardcore gamer focusing on getting all the achievements.

-Hardcore gamer spending more time talking about games then playing them.

-Hardcore gamer taking gaming message forums as serious business.

-Hardcore gamer getting themselves hyped up through the game’s marketing.

-Hardcore gamer taking the lore of the games very seriously.

-Hardcore gamer buying all the ‘big industry games’ because the person is afraid of ‘missing out’.

Since the Game Industry wants to just be Hardcore Only, this means the customers are not playing games but getting played by games. In other words, getting manipulated by games. This manipulation is attracting ideologues of every stripe especially the Social Justice Warriors who see hardcore gaming as a way to ‘re-program’ men.

Normal gaming is immune to such corruption. Normal gaming > Hardcore gaming.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2014

Help! I’m in Hell!

The smell of upcoming oil money does attract them.

Yes, she did this to me. No, she didn’t actually use the Mario music, but she did use Mario. No spaghetti with hotdog pieces or pink milk. She does other stuff. And she is pretty hot. I’m in hell!

“Don’t stop!”

hahahaha

I’ve resisted these sirens before, and I will do so again.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 19, 2014

Super Mario Spikers

Looks interesting. As much as people like to say there was a casual/hardcore divide on the Wii, Super Mario Strikers Charged did sell very well. So who bought it? We know the hardcore don’t buy sports games and the ‘casuals’ didn’t buy it? So who bought it?

Or perhaps we should abandon the hardcore/casual lingo altogether.

I’d like to see Next Level Games make a Zelda. It’d give Aonuma a stroke!

PS- Yes, I have been busy.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 12, 2014

Email: Cartridges Make For Good Retro Consoles

Sean,

A while back, I got into retro game collecting, and I noticed that PS1
and Dreamcast games (this was near the end of the PS2 generation) were
much harder to find in shops than N64 cartridges. This is because the
lacquer used on CDs breaks down. The aluminum data layer then oxidizes
and becomes unreadable. Time for this process? About ten years. So PS1
discs are rapidly decaying and failing all at once.

Of course, that console didn’t have that instantaneous “feel” that the
older machines did anyway.

Meanwhile, cartridges last basically forever as long as you don’t
short them out. I collected a decent-sized pile of N64 games, and
every cart but one that I bought worked perfectly. And that one just
needed the leads cleaned.

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The non-cartridge consoles also break down much, much sooner. Non-moving parts = much, much longer life span.

 

 

A bunch of lame characters including gender swap Marth, some lazy black color repaint of Pit and  the lame lame LAME Bowser Jr. (his alts are the Koopa Kids though at least)  but a lost character from Melee returns………………..Dr. Mario and not Mewtwo you know the one everyone has been screaming for but that would go against Nintendo way’s of not listening to the customer over their “creativity”
Sakurai  even mocked people wanting Mewtwo in one of the trailers by making it seem like some new ninja frog from X/Y was him.
That is the ultimate example of bashing the custormer in with your creativity.
The dog from Duck Hunt making it in is cool at least.
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Huh?
Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 12, 2014

Email: Exclusive NES Design 3DS? Meh

 
I could care less about Persona (never liked most Atlus games), and I’m not enough of a Smash fan despite liking the series. But that NES controller design is particularly insulting. Who does Nintendo think they’re kidding here? They no longer adhere to the actual NES standards of old. This is no longer Yamauchi’s Nintendo.
 
We, the lapsed market, have grown up and moved on.
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NES fans aren’t on the 3DS. They were on the DS and Wii and even Gameboy Advance.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 12, 2014

Replaying original Legend of Zelda on original NES hardware

The game actually takes a while to complete. It only gets challenging starting with dungeon 6 with the wizards. Naturally, I haven’t died yet. I only have a couple dungeons left. Only with Quest 2 does the game become somewhat challenging. (If Zelda 1 didn’t have two quests, Zelda 2 would easily be the superior game.)

So how the fuck do I save? I don’t want to kill myself. So how do I save, Mr. Miyamoto? He does not answer. I had to go to the Internet and look it up.

To save: go to start subscreen and click up+start or some button on controller 2 to bring up the save menu. Really!? Now that is just so obvious! I think “how do I save?” and immediately come to the conclusion that I need to plug in controller 2 and press a combination of buttons. Yes, that is such a natural answer.

There is so much mystery in the 8-bit generation that even in order to save your game, you must do secret combos on the other controller.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 11, 2014

Email: Nintendo Missed the Boat on Minecraft

This move is curious considering the Microsoft investor rumblings to ditch the XBox division.

I remember buying Minecraft for $15 off of Notch’s site, and then gushing how incredible the game is reminding me even of the sacred Mario/Zelda/Metroid NES classic feel of how a game should be. I never say that about new games. But, here we are in the present, and look at where Minecraft is. Minecraft is definitely at that Mario/Zelda/Metroid NES classic phenomenon level.

Since I was there at minecraft’s beginning, I might as well be there at its end. I think we are at Peak Minecraft. Yes, Minecraft is very popular. So was NES Mario/Zelda/Metroid. People do get tired of a game after a while.

I don’t think Mojang is worth 2 billion. Microsoft must be eyeing the merchandise and all.

I’ve gotten bored of Minecraft and moved on. Others will too. Kids will get bored as well.

Mojang is a one hit wonder company. Also, when you sell a company, it is no longer fun to work for it. Notch and his friends will just make another company. As more and more people drift away from Minecraft, the merchandise line will dry up as well.

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