My Not-Quite Epic RPG Journey

I’ve typically considered myself to have a fairly broad taste across my range of interests – music, food, etc. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, this blog being named Gaming OMNIVORE and all, that video games are no different; there’s no genre of game that I refuse to play…an enormous backlog serves as testament to this. However, my childhood years were spent playing primarily action/platformers and the broadening of my gaming tastes occurred in my later teens/early twenties. RPGs, as a genre, were something I had very limited knowledge about and even less experience with – my best definition of an RPG growing up would have been “I dunno…like a Zelda game?” I have since come to really appreciate the memorable characters, worlds, and stories of games like Chrono Trigger or Tales of Symphonia. Lately, I’ve found myself playing more RPGs; there’s been something strangely…comforting(?) in diving headfirst into some epic quest in distant land, if only for a short time. I’ve been on a bit of a Dragon Quest kick as of late, so there’s been plenty of level grinding as well.

For today’s post, I’ve mapped out some of my most significant stops along my RPG questline. These are games that have meant quite a lot to me over the years and are largely responsible for growing my appreciation of role-playing (video)games. First up, a game that due to its packaging and slight variation in approach to the genre, I didn’t even realize shared nearly every established trait of an RPG when I played it…

Pokémon Red

Pokémon. The game that traded the settings of “Chosen One and accompanying party battles forces of darkness” to “child catches every cute monster in sight on the way to become the greatest trainer.” This was THE stepping stone to RPGs as a genre for myself, along with many, many others. Whether you consider the games a legit RPG or not, Pokémon is responsible for introducing millions upon millions of kids to RPG gameplay staples like level progression, elemental weakness/resistance, and turn-based battles. I had always thought the concept of turn-based combat – politely waiting your turn to whack your enemy, sounded rather…dull. It wasn’t until after I’d spent countless hours playing Pokémon Red that it dawned on me that I had in fact, been playing a game incorporating turn-based combat.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

I’ll be honest, Knights of the Old Republic wasn’t going to be a hard sell for me, even with my limited experience with RPGs in 2003 – a Star Wars game in which you travel to different worlds across the galaxy, along with customizing your own lightsaber and recruiting a homicidal droid named HK-47. How could that NOT sound awesome? KOTOR is an example of a game where I found myself more engaged in the story, characters, and worlds than the gameplay, which was still enjoyable and nicely complemented the game’s other strengths. Knights of the Old Republic also introduced me to BioWare, whose writing and characters I would fall in love with all over again in 2007. I have a hard time not immediately blurting out “KOTOR!” when asked my favorite Star Wars game, let alone my favorite RPG…

Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls

As a kid in the 90’s, I was aware enough of Final Fantasy as a series. This was especially true reading gaming magazines counting down the release of Final Fantasy VII, which I knew was an anticipated release, but didn’t fully understand the extent of it. It wasn’t until my later teens that I bought Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls – a compilation of Final Fantasy 1 & 2, shortly after release that the series finally started to click for me. Something about the combination of FF1’s approachable, but not shallow game mechanics, story, music and 16-bit charm resonated with me and I became completely hooked. I had just begun taking a few college classes prior to the game’s release and distinctly remember much of my time between classes being spent sitting playing Final Fantasy…when I probably should have been studying(sounds surprising, right?). This is where my appreciation for 16-bit JRPGs officially began…

Mass Effect 2

Knights of the Old Republic was my introduction to BioWare, but it was the Mass Effect games(Dragon Age: Origins, too) that propelled them to one of my favorite developers. Mass Effect 2 took everything that I loved about the previous game and managed to improve it. I didn’t get around to playing ME2 until about a year or so later, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The game still feels as close to a perfect action-RPG as I’ve ever played, balancing the traditional role-playing elements of ME1 and the more action-oriented set pieces of ME3. Similar to KOTOR, Mass Effect 2 is another game I’d immediately nominate for all-time favorite RPG, thanks BioWare.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

My first exposure to Fire Emblem comes from the exact same place as nearly everyone else outside of Japan – Super Smash Bros. Melee. I remember having to look up which games sword fighters(naturally) Marth and Roy were from and having absolutely no idea what Fire Emblem was. I eventually played a little bit of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on the GameCube, and later FE: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS. I found the games intriguing, but just like Final Fantasy, or any JRPGs really, I felt like I didn’t completely “get it”. Fast forward to the summer of 2019, Fire Emblem: Three Houses was set to be released and I was a little tentative, but eager to try another Fire Emblem game. I had been keeping an eye on the game and Three Houses gave every indication of being the most accessible FE game yet. I don’t know what it was that finally clicked – understanding of FE’s weapon triangle? Academic dating sim? My boy, Dimitri? Either way, I loved every minute of Three Houses and it went on to become one of my favorite Switch games. It even gave me the…confidence(?) to try seek out and try a few other SRPGs(my weakest genre) such as Shining Force or Advance Wars.

Backlog RPGs

For every RPG that I actually finish, it seems like there’s 5-10 more that I’d like to play; just Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games alone would keep me busy for quite some time. There’s also Persona 5, a game that I loved for the few hours I’ve played and has turned into a bit of a running backlog joke -“I’m actually gonna finish Persona 5 this year”. Here’s just a few of the many RPGs I have in my backlog that I’d like to finish up or begin playing in the near future.

  • Persona 5 Royal
  • Final Fantasy X
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
  • Shining Force 2
  • Chrono Cross

In closing, I’ll also use this post to segue into a shoutout for The Great JRPG Showdown. Fellow blogger and RPG/Anime expert – Pix, from Shoot The Rookie has once again put on an elimination-style tournament à la Mortal Kombat and it’s cool to see the different games nominated by everyone. I strongly encourage any JRPG fans out there to check it out if not already doing so. That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Weekend Gaming Review – Delays & DLC

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about recent happenings and general news within the gaming world, but there’s been no shortage of things to follow(or try to ignore) on social media. I figured I would throw in my two cents from the luxury of my own WordPress soapbox rather than within the 280 character confines of Twitter.

Delayed Expectations

Remember how crowded the release schedule for this spring was looking, with what seemed to be highly-anticipated games getting released nearly every week? Well…the months of March and April aren’t quite as crowded as they once were.

It first started with both Animal Crossing New Horizons and Doom Eternal being delayed from a Fall 2019 releases to both games ironically announcing a March 20 2020 release date. I’m having a hard time explaining precisely why I love the thought of buying a new Animal Crossing game at the same time as a new Doom game…I dunno. The release date of mega-hyped The Last of Us Part 2 was given a release date of February 21 2020 during Sony’s State of Play presentation this past September, but only a few weeks later the game was delayed and slated for a May 29 release.

In the past couple weeks another barrage of delays were announced by Square Enix with the Final Fantasy 7 remake being delayed from March 3 to April 10 and also Marvel’s Avengers was pushed from its planned release of May 15 to September 4. The FF7 remake wasn’t much of a suprise to me, as the development of the game has been ongoing for years with speculation for a long time about whether not the project would see light of day. The Avengers game also isn’t suprising, considering how little anyone knows about the game other than the cast portraying Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and that the game has been hinted as being a living, open-world game. Coincidentally enough, the Iron Man VR game for PS4 has also been delayed from February until May 15.

And finally, another game delay that, while not as much SURPRISING as disappointing was the CD Projekt Red’s announcement that Cyberpunk 2077, their follow-up to The Witcher 3 has been delayed from its intended release of April 16 to September 17. Cyberpunk is one of the games I’m most anxious to play so I’m a little bummed to hear of a delay, but coming from CD Projekt Red, delays are never all that surprising.

I’m completely fine with the recent delays, most people have expressed a similar feeling and mentioned the words of Shigeru Miyamoto himself as he stated “A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever”. Another common reaction to the news was that of being disappointed to hear a game is delayed, if it means the dev team isn’t put under as many crunch hours. This is where I applaude publishers and developers for agreeing to delay a release and mention nice things like employee work-life balance, but what I fear is this becoming something said solely to maintain goodwill as we’ve become more aware of the strain of crunch hours on developers and testers. The delay of Cyberpunk 2077 was quickly followed CD Projekt Red confirming that it will still be requiring extra crunch-time hours from its dev team. Maybe I’m just being too cynical? Progress has been made in bringing awareness of crunch and its effects on those creating the games we love to instantly consume, but there’s still more to be improved upon. I’ve linked an article articulating this far better than I can.

https://kotaku.com/game-delays-cause-more-crunch-1841065204

Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC Announced

Over the past few years Nintendo has been on a wildly successful streak starting with the release of the Nintendo Switch in February 2017 and continued all the way through 2019. As we entered 2020, much specualation had begun as to when Nintendo would announce another Direct presentation to announce new games, features, or even a rumored Switch Pro. Within the past couple weeks Nintendo has indeed hosted two Direct broadcasts, the first being Pokemon-related and the second announcing the fifth and final DLC fighter for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass(more on that in a minute).

The first Nintendo Direct was held on January 9 and was specifically Pokemon-centered(…get it?). During the presentation a paid DLC bundle for Pokemon Sword & Shield was announced; each containing a brand new area to explore with new Legendary Pokemon as well as over 200 others returning from previous generations. The first pack – Isle of Armor will release in June, with the second – Crown Tundra to be released later this Fall. The announcement was met with a generally(?) positive reaction as those who already enjoy the game will be simply offered more of it, but also noticed others who still felt that Game Freak had betrayed their loyalty. Some felt add-on DLC with more Pokemon is simply a way to squeeze extra money out of gamers when CLEARLY Sword/Shield should have contained every one of the 800+ Pokemon. Those who were felt they were being railroaded into buying the same game AGAIN to “catch em’ all”. I find being upset about DLC coming to Sword/Shield a little humorous as if you REALLY want to scrutinize, you could come to the conclusion that we’ve been buying 3 versions of essentially the same game since 1998. I think adding DLC to Sword/Shield is perfectly fine and in a broader way shows Nintendo and Game Freak are slowly, but surely entering the modern era of gaming in regards to post-release content.

Smash Bros. 5th DLC Fighter Announced

Another Nintendo Direct presentation was announced for January 16 2020 to cover the fifth and final DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At any given time there’s a consistent swirl of rumors and speculation as to just who Mr. Sakurai will announce as the newest addition to what is already the greatest-selling fighting game in history. Being the final fighter in the Fighters Pass, there was an even bigger frenzy of guesses, wishes, or demands, so Smash fans were more than eager to see who would receive the latest invitation. Many fans wanted to see a character representing other games like Sora from Kingdom Hearts or Dante from Devil May Cry, there were even those rumors of Master Chief or the Demon Slayer from Doom. The possibilities seemed endless as the Smash community had been treated, to the point of being spoiled by some outrageously awesome additions like Joker(Persona 5), Hero(Dragon Quest), Banjo(Banjo-Kazooie), and Terry Bogard(Fatal Fury/King of Fighters). So when Sakurai announced Fire Emblem: Three Houses main protagonist Byleth as the next fighter, many fans felt disappointed and frustrated and quickly voiced their opinions via social media, as trending hashtags on Twitter indicated.

I completely understand being disappointed with the newest Smash character announcement, but when it turns into the inevitable bickering and fighting is when I’m unable to empathize. It’s only a couple months since we went through the EXACT SAME thing when Terry was announced and a large portion of the fanbase went “who’s Terry?”. Many fans look at Byleth’s inclusion to the Smash Bros gigantic roster as completely uneccessary, “There’s too many Fire Emblem characters!!” or less deserving than others ” ANOTHER anime sword-fighter??”. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was one of the best of Nintendo’s many great 2019 releases and I have no issue with Byleth being part of the already incredible roster of characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate. For those complaining about the over-representation of Fire Emblem characters(8) in SSBU; if there was a game that warranted an abuncance of FE characters it would be Smash Bros. How many of us may not have ever been inroduced to the Fire Emblem games if not for Roy and Marth’s inclusion to Smash Bros Melee back on the Gamecube. Also, how awesome does that Cuphead Mii Gunner outfit look?

Smash fans: No more sword-fighters
Also Smash fans: We want Dante!

In addition to Byleth joining the Smash roster, Sakurai announced a second Fighters Pass which contains 6 DLC fighters that will be introduced throughout the year and completing in January 2021. So for all the fun we’ve had with the first 5 fighters, we can look forward to 6 more….along with another year of the…healthy discourse within the Smash community.

I think that’s all for now, what do you think of Nintendo’s recent DLC Directs? Are you disappointed with the recent game delays? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!