If you’ve been reading this blog or listening to our podcasts, you will know what a stickler I am for endings and having a good, engaging story to keep you warm on those long RPG nights. However, I am a fair woman and, as much as I believe that story is important, it’s not everything. I believe that Xenoblade Chronicles is a game changer as far as the RPG genre goes, and worthy of all the critical success it has achieved. It is beautiful, majestic, pioneering, and all those good words. I am a believer. I am a huge fan. Therefore, rest assured, what lies ahead are the complaints of an ardent fangirl.
This contains storyline spoilers for late in the game, so read at own risk. And if you haven’t played Xenoblade Chronicles to completion already… what are you waiting for?! One of the best RPGs, even games, of all time awaits.
The Rune Factory series, a spinoff of the Harvest Moon franchise, eerily responds to all my criticisms of a recent Harvest Moon game. Frontier boasts an impressive cast of likable characters, enjoyable gameplay, solid storytelling, and variety, an element distinctly lacking in some of the Harvest Moon games. Not only do you get to befriend townspeople, cook and take care of your fields, you also fight in dungeons, befriend monsters, and forge your own weapons, tools and equipment. There’s so much to do in fact that is the first part of a double post. The second post will explore the weird gender dynamics in the game, of which there’s much to discuss, but for now I’m going to summarise the game and set out my space-time continuum theories about Frontier. Continue reading
Replaying the original Half-Life recently has been fun for all kinds of reasons. After several years absence from the Black Mesa facility it all feels very fresh. Alongside the entertaining (if at times infuriating) gameplay, there’s the story. Obsessing over storytelling in games is nothing new for this blog and I’m afraid that’s where I want to go with this post too. There’s also a bonus at the end…but you’ll have to see. Continue reading
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on Gamecube is one of the most expensive games we own so I was naturally a little suspect of it, sitting there on the shelf, looking innocuous and yet oh so smug in the way expensive things do. But you know what? I loved this game. As a girl who is obsessed with any decent combination of meaningful subtext, storytelling and engaging gameplay, Fire Emblem delivers on these fronts and many more. Crucially (listen up Persona), the translation was phenomenal; it nails the “ye olde” fantasy setting perfectly, and manages to be poetic without being hokey or overwrought. Continue reading
Revivals of classic franchises are a useful means of reading the temperature of the video game industry: Pacman Championship Edition channeled Peggle’s neon, crack-addled aesthetic in 2007 while Elevator Action Returns channeled Contra and Metal Slug’s run ‘n’ gun conventions in 1994. That’s why today’s post is going to probe Space Invaders: Invasion Day (aka Space Raiders in the US) on PS2, which is less interesting for its gameplay than what it reveals about trends in videogame storytelling in 2002.
I have to say, the screenshot of a CG-rendered busty woman on the game’s back cover is what piqued my interest in this game, so to speak. So much that I bought it right then and there on the spot. (Admittedly, at £1 it was hardly a big investment.) “How low would Taito go to try and make Space Invaders hip with the kids?”, I wondered. Very low, it turns out. Let’s get the gameplay out of the way: thoroughly uninspiring all round, a (very) poor man’s Sin and Punishment. The game’s presentation, on the other hand, is fascinating. It’s so telling of its era you really have to laugh. Continue reading