Well, the weekend has concluded. Back to work I go on Monday. I was able to get around 20 hours of Octopath Traveler in for the weekend. I know you kids will probably easily surpass that, but that is a good show for the Old Man.

So what did I do? Well, I completed all the Prologue Chapters. This actually takes a significant amount of time. I then got all 8 of the sub-classes (I know there are four ‘special’ ones that come later). I got four of my guys in the level 20ish zone. This week, I’ll probably try to slip in an hour or two. But only on Friday night, can I sink time again on this game.

There are many different ways to play this game. I tend to be doing the most unimaginative thing by going the Octopath pattern and spiraling outwards from the center. I’ll be doing all Chapter 2s, then Chapter 3s, etc. and level all my guys up at the same time. It may be tedious, but when I leave an area, I do not want to come back to it!

So what is my recommendation on this game? If you like games like Final Fantasy 6 or Final Fantasy 5 (or 4), you should buy a Switch to get to this game. It is that satisfying. If you like SNES or NES RPGs, this game was designed for you.

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Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2018

Email: Thanks for making me laugh

Greetings Master Malstrom

I write to you upon taking a break from own playing of Octopath. I picked Cyrus – because the idea of Fantasy Sherlock Holmes was too good to pass up. I can’t quite say I passed out but I have clearly spent more time than I intended playing. This game is rather good, isn’t it?

Out of mild curiosity I went to your site to see if you’d posted anything and promptly broke out in a fit of laughter that has yet to stop.

Thank you for constantly documenting how terrible game ‘experts’ supposedly are.

Seriously, how dumb can they be?

Of course there had to be an NPC that could help out. This is a game about eight individual quests. Why would they gate beating the first boss behind recruiting other main characters considering how the game marketed itself?

They’ve had longer to play this game than anyone else, how are they not good at this?

Once again, thank you for the laugh, now back I go to book hunting.

Have fun on your mission from god.

Regards

A Reader

What’s worse is that the prologue chapters have been available TO EVERYONE for months! Yet, they still can’t figure it out.

The only reason why anyone reads what they write is because of their early access. If you remove the early access, no one would read them. If game publishers only gave out previews to the public (e.g. demos) with no ‘early copies for review’, all the ‘game media’ sites would go out of business.

When I get done with Octopath, I am going to go through what they wrote about it. (I am avoiding them now.) And believe me, we will have fun.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2018

Email: You’re right about the reviewers being worthless.

One of them said that you couldn’t use a second job until you maxed out your first one. I’m playing Primrose, I ran through a few towns and found a guy in a bar that has max strength (but can only be summoned 4 times). I took him back to a level 17 area near Primrose’s start, got a second job just by exploring. I’m also using this guy and plan to use others to quickly level myself up. I’m doing Primrose solo, I’ve already jumped to level 14 in the first three hours by using the right people to fight for me when I can’t fight for myself.

Primrose! You filthy whore!

Related image

Above: It is fitting that she carries daggers.

One of the genius things about this game is how there are so many ways to play it. ANYONE can make a game with a linear path. But to give the player this much freedom?

Speaking of Primrose, this game is fun to think about it ‘hard’. Why on earth would any man follow Primrose to go into dark caves and fight dragons? She *has* to be doing more than just snapping her fingers at him. Since everything is in pixels, our imagination fills in the rest.

This is something the Game Industry doesn’t understand. They understand THEIR imagination, but the players are not allowed to use their imagination… except during hype time. “Just imagine how wonderful our game is! Pre-order it now!”

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2018

Octopath Traveler Prologues

One of the interesting things about this game is how people take different paths as they play it. I, perhaps, chose the least imaginative path possible. I started with Ophilia and then went clockwise until I reached Flamesgrace again doing all the prologue chapters in OCTOPATH fashion (each letter in Octopath is the first letter of each character’s name). Doing all the prologues took me about 15 hours.

There’s no spoilers here since all this material was available in the last demo.

My least favorite prologues: Alfyn and to a lesser one Tressa.

Some people love Alfyn, but I think I despise him. Maybe I need to play with him more. When a character tells him, “Hey Alf..” I think…

Image result for alf

Above: Alf

And the boss of Alfyn’s stage is SO annoying and stupid. “Oh no, a snake! Noooo! A snaaaaake!” Badger, badger, badger…

Above: At 23 seconds is how I felt how lame Alfyn’s boss was.

Other than that I liked all the stories.

“What! The writing is terrible! Oh, Malstrom, certainly you can call out the horrible writing!”

Whoa, whoa, wait a minute, reader. Let’s examine the writing for a moment.

“Yes! Let us do so.”

Would you agree that Octopath Traveler being a video game means it should be about doing video game things correctly as priority, as opposed to movies, writing, and everything else?

“I would agree.”

Then the video game systems should come first.

“Of course.”

Is it not clear that the eight characters are divided into rogue and noble causes?

“They are.”

In many ways, they are duplicates of one another. Tressa’s purchase is noble, but Therion’s stealing is bad. Yet, they achieve the same thing: taking items from NPCs. Olberic and H’aanit can both knock out NPCs. And so on.

“Is there a point to this?”

The point is that the stories would also be crafted to the noble and rogue causes. Tressa is noble story, while Therion is a rogue story.

“You speak the obvious.”

So due to the game mechanics, we have noble stories and rogue stories.

“Yeah. So what?”

If anyone knows anything about writing, they know about the *problem* with Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost was written by John Milton, a fantastic poet. Paradise Lost was a poetic form of The Garden of Eden. Despite how amazing it was, a problem occurred: all the readers saw Satan as the protagonist. God, in the story, is boring. But Satan, he is interesting and funny!

This is why writers give their characters flaws. No one wants to read about a saint because the saint is too boring. This is why stories are often written about rogues, about thieves, about villians, and so on. It is why in Star Wars, Han Solo is more interesting than Luke. Yet, when the Jedi Strikes Back, parents were alarmed when children began play-acting Darth Vader because Darth Vader became the most interesting character in the films.

“So what you’re saying is that no amount of writing can make the story of a noble interesting.”

Right. Human nature desires flawed characters. This is why the story of a prostitute, Primrose, ends up more interesting than a religious nun, Ophilia.

Having a noble/rogue binary only allows boring noble stories. There is no way to out-write it. You can make a murderer interesting, but not Nice Guy.

Octopath Travelers works so well as a game because the gameplay comes first, and the “story” is written around those systems.

The story doesn’t make any sense when you try to think about it real hard. Why do only FOUR of the Octopath Travelers get to travel? The other four just get to chill out in the tavern all day. What is up with THAT, dear reader?

“I… I don’t know!”

It is because the game system is dictating the content. It makes no sense that Mario can run on an underground ceiling to get to Warp Zone in Super Mario Brothers, but video game logic prevails. It is why Tressa can steal thousands of rupees from H’aanit’s ‘Forest Monster’ even though the monster has no hands and has no need for currency.

Octopath Traveler is a game, not a movie. And this is why the game rocks.

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 14, 2018

Guardian of the First Flame

Been playing non-stop Octopath until I passed out (oops), and now I am back at it again. I am going the Ophilia route.

Image result for octopath traveler ophilia

Above: That’s my girl!

After I beat the first boss, I looked up to see how it was ‘supposed to be done’ to make sure I am learning the game mechanics correctly. Imagine my surprise when our trusted esteemed ‘game journalists’ have no idea how to play this game!

Above: This boss is said to be the ‘toughest’ of the prologue bosses. It isn’t. People just don’t know how to play the game.

This game isn’t World of Warcraft. You need to upgrade your equipment! Then, you need to use Ophilia’s guide ability for the right NPC. The guy with the arrows is NOT the right NPC. You want the guy with the poison who is in the Tavern. Poison is weak on the boss.

When you (or your guided ally) break the boss (using staff or the poison), boost your Holy Power to the max. You should be pulling off around 750+ damage-on-break on the boss (his max hitpoints is around 4000).

Also, break him when he starts to power-up to attack. This battle is not hard.

“But Malstrom,” says the gentle reader, “what do our glorious game ‘experts’ have to say about this battle?”

Let’s find out!

If you are struggling with this Boss try venturing out to add Cyrus or Therion to your party as they specialize in some of its weaknesses.

-From IGN

Nooooo. That is not the right answer IGN.

 

For this boss fight, the best travelers for your party are Cyrus or Therion. Adding them to your party will make the boss fight much easier as they can exploit the boss’s weakness.

-From Segment Next

You guys have no idea how to play this game, do you? All you do is copy each other to put up shit on a deadline.

Image result for ymir final fantasy 6

Above: First boss of Final Fantasy 6

These are the same ‘game experts’ that said decades ago to diligently keep attacking the Ymir, snail extraordinaire, while he was still in his shell while you heal with other allies. Durrrr, do you guys play with the controllers in your mouth?

Worthless game media…

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 11, 2018

Octopath Sabbatical

If you email me, I won’t answer. You guys can go to hell, I’m going to Orsterra.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 11, 2018

Email: Octopath

Hi Sean (hope that’s ok).

Hell no, it isn’t. You think this is some normal blog?

I reserved the Wayfarer edition at Bestbuy back in April. The game won’t be available to me and most people until Friday, but you may be able to get a copy from Walmart early if you don’t mind a bit of social engineering. Apparently a few people on reddit have found the game at Walmart. It has a streetdate lock, but in the past inexperienced employees or those that don’t care about games have sold games before street date. Even if it involved scanning another game of the same price to get it. If I didn’t have that special edition pre-ordered with the 20% discount, I’d be doing a bit of driving right now to see if I could get the game early.

Nah, I also have the Wayfarer edition pre-ordered from Best Buy (using GCU of course). In fact, Octopath was what got me to buy the GCU just days after they discontinued people from buying it! So my GCU expires sometime in 2020 haha.

To people who do not understand why customers are going nuts right now over the Octopath, it has everything to do with the value of 8-bit/16-bit gaming.

Once upon a time, in the Blessed 8-Bit Era, the Greatest Game Console Of All, the NES, was there (hush Master System fans). And on this system were many games. Most of these games were action games, platformers, sports games, or some pc ports. But the JRPGs of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior were quite interesting then. It was extremely unusual, in the West, to play a game just by hitting a button. They were long games. I think they were great when you were sick and didn’t have the stamina for other games. But the thing is that experience was far more potent and stayed with you than other games on the system.

I remember when the SNES came out. One of the games was Final Fantasy II (IV) which cost $90!!!!! “How can a game cost that much?” I wondered. I rented games then. And I rented Final Fantasy II (since I obviously owned the first one on my NES). I was hooked, but got stuck. Then I’d rent it again. And again. And again. I kept going back to the game.

Was it the music? The story? It was something.

I eventually did buy it, and I have never regretted doing so.

I bought Final Fantasy 3 (6) the day it came out. I was so disappointed that it didn’t come with a cloth map (haha, my standards were high even back then!). The game was… odd. Then you come to the World of Ruin and I’m like, “WTF!? The world just blew up!” hahaha.

But the point is that I played the game again, and again, and again. I even bought the soundtrack before buying game soundtracks were cool. And over the decades, I have enjoyed replaying the game.

I have tried several times to get into Final Fantasy 7. I never could. Not sure why. Perhaps it is the ‘OMG 3d!’ rammed at you.

The value of a quality JRPG such as Octopath made in the spirit of Final Fantasy VI is well understood by those who played such games in the 80s and 90s. I think THAT is what is translating to the Octopath hype.

Now, the Game Industry does not see this. “Oh, it is summer. Nothing is coming out. That is why people are buying the Octopath.” If only it were as simple to sell something by releasing it during a slow time! The Game Industry missed NSMB DS and NSMB Wii because they did not understand the value of 2d Mario. Even Nintendo was stunned by their numbers.

Now, I do not know how big the Octopath market is. But I do know there is a huge market desire for this type of game. Hell, an entire GENRE was there back a couple of decades ago. The JRPG didn’t so much die as get killed by terrible 3d, tropes, and terrible writing and world building.

Whether Octopath is a good game or not doesn’t matter anymore. People want this genre to come back. They want well made turn based JRPGs. If Bravely Default didn’t sell, how did it get a sequel?

The Switch is a great place for this genre because…

A) Turn based JRPGs perform great on handheld systems. Look at Gunpei’s system the WonderSwan. Ports of early Final Fantasy games appeared on it causing WonderSwan to sell, which is why Nintendo then locked down publishing rights to early Final Fantasy games on their handhelds.

B) Switch has an install base of Breath of the Wild players. These players enjoy large single player worlds.

C) Many, many Nintendo gamers today were Nintendo kids of the 80s and 90s. If Octopath was on another system, it likely would have been ignored. (Besides, Sony and Microsoft do not want such a game on their system that isn’t utilizing their ‘elite’ hardware.)

The reviews tomorrow are going to be shit. I don’t think they know how to review this game. But we don’t need them anyway. Within 24 hours, people will have the game themselves, and they can use the Internet to communicate the game’s value.

With playable demos, what is the point of reviews?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 11, 2018

Email: The death of single player gamers

Dear Master Malstrom,

I urge you to read the following article:

http://gearnuke.com/amy-hennig-sp-games-are-expensive-more-content-not-sustainable/

What it says is that single player games are getting too expensive to make and thus they are not sustainable. It’s interesting because developer Amy Henig in the article mentions that she loves stories in games, but it doesn’t seem to occur to her that the mass market doesn’t like these story-driven cinematic games. If the games are so expensive to make, then part of the answer would be to use less expensive graphics, wouldn’t it? Also, to make games that people want to play over and over again as replayability adds a lot of value. But Henig doesn’t seem to realize this. She actually mentions subscription models and digital distribution as possible solutions to the problem! But the mass market doesn’t like subscription models or digital distribution, so again we see developers who want to try to force a business model on the consumer that the consumer does not want. Will these people ever learn?

No, they will not learn. Skyrim’s success was so ‘shocking’ because when it came out, GENERATIONS AGO, people said the single player game was ‘over’.

 

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 10, 2018

Only Malstrom should be allowed to review Octopath Traveler

dos equis what GIF by Dos Equis Gifs to the World

Above: Malstrom looks at the Internet

Cue the music:

Now we can get this post going.

It is O Minus 3 days from when Octopath launches (maybe two in Japan land now). The reviews come out on Thursday, a day before.

So what?

Why do we even have reviewers at all anymore? The game will be in our hands just hours later. People on the Internet talk, and they can say whether or not the game is good. This is not ‘Word of Mouth’. This is customers posting their own reviews (trumping the ‘official reviewers’). In other words, Malstrom’s Review > Everyone Else. In the same way, Your Review > Everyone Else.

Octopath is not hiding what it is. Every trailer plainly says, “These are eight stories,” and “What role will you choose?” There are even multiple demos. NO ONE should be surprised by what this game offers. The only people who will be surprised by this game are the reviewers because game sites keep hiring from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Let us take a look at this video. Cut to 1:40 please.

It talks about Rogue and Noble actions. Cool stuff.

But then it talks about Side Stories. “A quest will often have more than one way of resolution. Do you want to fight your way through? Or do you want to steal the item that solves the problem? What will you choose? You decide.” This is what it is saying (paraphrasing).

Do the shitty reviewers know this? Probably not. This isn’t like in Final Fantasy 6 when Locke MUST steal the soldier’s clothes. This time, Locke could do something else such as fight his way though. Again and again, the trailers are emphasizing ROLE PLAYING.

“Where is the big baddy, Malstrom? We need to gather up and defeat a god!”

There is a reason why I did the ‘Origin of Worlds’ book (online for free). Ultima is a good measuring stick of the evolution of the RPG. The JRPG came from Ultima III (and to an extent, Ultima I and II). In both those games, you fight EVIL GOD. JRPGs have been stuck in an Ultima III timeloop forever.

After Ultima III, there were no more ‘EVIL GOD’s to kill (except for Martian Dreams, but that is a spin-off). In Ultima IV, eight travelers (you aren’t the Avatar yet) go from town to town, and it ends with going to the Abyss where your main character becomes the Avatar by getting the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. No EVIL GOD is killed. This… really hadn’t been done before in gaming. Ultima V and VI also had no EVIL GOD. VII, VIII, IX were more like YOU vs. EVIL GOD and the people were what you were fighting over.

There’s no Canterbury Tales here. Come on guys, look at gaming, not your High School Text Books. If I was a JRPG maker who wanted to go BEYOND the great 16-bit era Final Fantasy games, I’d follow the road Ultima took out of Ultima III. It’d be a game about multiple travelers in a happy renaissance type land with no EVIL GOD.

What I cannot shake is that Octopath Traveler keeps emphasizing ROLE PLAY in the definition that only Ultima used it. When we hear ROLE PLAY today, we think of systems or loot. Diablo is a role playing game, but do you role play? What games do you actually ROLE PLAY today? I can’t think of any. The only I can think of I would have to go back to Ultima. It certainly isn’t in any Final Fantasy game. Maybe Elder Scrolls but that is all I can imagine.

Above: My favorite Octopath trailer

“What’s it like to play a role?” I don’t know. There’s been no true role-playing game in decades.

Readers, I am going to take a sabbatical. This game has already leaked out, and I don’t want to stumble upon spoilers and worthless reviews. When I return, you’ll see my review on it.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 10, 2018

Switch Reviews Table of Contents

These are the reviews for Nintendo Switch hardware and software. You may ask: “Why do I need these reviews with all the other sites out there?” The answer is that the definition of ‘quality’ here is how often do I return to the game. Games you keep going back to are games worth owning. If you buy a game, beat it, and never play it again, is it worth it? Did you buy a game or a digital experience?

In addition, I buy my own games. I have a full time job that requires about 50 hours a week. No one gives me games (though, they have tried). Since I have spent my own money on these games, it gives me closer to the true value than if someone gave them to me for free.

Review breakdowns (for software) is as follows:

A means the game is so good, you should buy the system for it. This game doesn’t get boring. You keep coming back to it.

B means the game keeps you coming back to it, though it may become a chore over time. You want this game in your collection.

C is an average game. You come back to it now and then. If you like the genre of this game, you should get it. If not, feel free to skip it.

D is mediocre. You do not come back to this game. You might beat it once and that is it. Unless you are a huge fan of the genre or series, skip this game.

F games are terrible. You do not even want to play the game let alone come back to it! This game could be buggy, or it could just not be fun.

Warning: Most of this list will not follow the cult-like ‘metacritic’ approved quality ratings. If that is what you are looking for, go somewhere else.

Only physical versions are reviewed. As far as I am concerned, if there is no physical version, the software DOESN’T EXIST.

Software Reviews

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild A+

Steamworld Dig 2 B+

Software Reviews Coming Soon

Octopath Traveler

Puyo Puyo Tetris

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Splatoon 2

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Bomberman R

Sonic Mania

Binding of Isaac: Aftermath

Fire Emblem Warriors

Has Been Heroes

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

Xenoblade 2

 

Hardware Reviews

Switch Hardware

JoyCons

Pro Controller

Xenoblade Pro Controller

Mayflash Controller Adapter

 

 

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