Let’s Blog Award, Round 3!-Alex’s Review Corner

I swore to myself I was going to finish with these posts before the end of the year. Of course, time being what it is, I’m still not sure, even as I’m writing this, that that’s necessarily going to work out, but hey, I’m giving it a good, honest effort here.

We hit AK’s questions out of the park a while back, nailed Red Metal’s questions perfectly, and now, it’s time for the final part of this three-ening of blog awards, taking the questions posed by Alex (I think it’s a fair assumption that that’s their name) of Alex’s Review Corner. Alex’s Review Corner is one I’ve only started following relatively recently, but I’ve rather enjoyed the movie and game reviews you can find there. They’ve also gone through all the Showa-era Godzilla films, so if you’ve been enjoying my work on the subject in my Project G posts, it might be worthwhile for you to check out their blog and get some alternative takes on the subject.

Let’s get on to Alex’s questions!

1: Is there a game and/or movie you particularly love from a genre you typically dislike?

I’d say Mario Kart. Pick a game from that series, although Mario Kart Double Dash and Mario Kart 8 are probably the ones I’ve given the most love to in recent years. I don’t really like racing games. I can’t necessarily say why, I remember playing a lot of them growing up, but they’re just not where I like to spend most of my gaming time. Mario Kart though, I’ll get down with any day. And it’s not just being a kart racer that does it. I’ve played plenty of other kart racers I don’t enjoy, either. I do Mario Kart, though. Quite dearly.

2: Reversely, is there a game and/or movie you particularly dislike from a genre you otherwise enjoy?

Alex already pointed to GTA V in their answer, but I have to go with a pretty similar tack here. I love open world games, and I also really enjoy those open world crime simulators, as evidenced by my love for the Saints Row series. I really enjoyed Grand Theft Auto III, and Bully was pretty good, but ever since, Rockstar Games output in that model just hasn’t been doing it for me. I tried to get into GTA IV and just wasn’t able to make it stick, Red Dead Redemption had some interesting ideas but I didn’t find it very fun, and I just started Grand Theft Auto V recently and want to give it a good chance to grab me, but I fear it’s heading in the same direction as the others. I think the main issue is that, for all that Rockstar is good at making large, expansive, and involved violence playgrounds that offer a lot of opportunity for fun, the actual gameplay you’ve got, your ability to interact and get involved with said playground, is outright clunky. Walking and driving in their games are kind of loose and slippery, and the running and gunning just doesn’t feel as good as most other games. GTA III and Bully still had those problems, but I think I give them a bit of a bye, as GTA III innovated the whole genre and so everything felt new and fresh with it, and Bully had such a unique setting and ways of interacting with it. Otherwise, I find Rockstar’s games get overshadowed in the same genre they put on the map, just by dint of other games having basic gameplay that feels a lot tighter and less clunky.

Also, when it was time to end my last GTA V session, I found that mission triggers were overlaid on top of all the save points available to me. So I’d be locked into a new mission and unable to actually go to the save point whenever I tried to record my progress so I could, you know, save the game. Seems a really basic oversight, but one that’s been representative of my whole experiences with these games. They get a lot right, but they do things wrong on the basic level. Here’s hoping the autosave has my back.

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Let’s Blog Award, Round 2!-Red Metal

We’re back!  As mentioned last time, we’ve got a combo of blog awards to respond to!  Today’s award comes courtesy of Red Metal, longtime official Friend of Lost to the Aether and a man with  many thoughts on films and video games.  Of which he writes.  And does a good job as well.  Normally, when a reviewer gives a game a rating score, it doesn’t really mean all that much.  Hence why I don’t really use them here.  Red Metal though, has it worked out such that any given score relates to a very distinct impression he has with it.  So there.  Red Metal.  Numbers you can use.  

Speaking of numbers, I’ve got a number of questions to answer!  Let’s hop to it.  

  1. Do you prefer RPGs where your characters end the game at a high level (70+) or a lower one (20-30 or so)? Assume that these outcomes are not simply the result of grinding levels for hours.

You know, this is one I haven’t really thought about before.  Both are good flavors of the same thing, and both could definitely apply better to given circumstances.  I think I’m going to err towards having a lower max level, because I like levels that are meaningful more, levels that give you more than just numbers going up, and you’re more likely to hit that more often when there’s a lower max level in the game.  Each level might unlock a new ability, or you might get a new perk every even level, or something like that.  That said, having a high max level does give a better sense of having progressed a huge amount since the start, and so that’s better for a lot of the epic scale adventures you’ll see it used in.

That said, you know what leveling system I like the best?  The ones where you have to unlock it bit by bit.  Like, you have your options, each of which costs a certain amount of resources, and you’re constantly having to pick and choose which of many options you’re going to go for.  Some of which might boost your stats, some of which might give you new active abilities, some might have good passives, etc.  Give me a sphere grid over a strict linear system any day.

2. Do you prefer RPGs with turn-based or real-time combat?

Again, both are good in their own ways,and this is kind of a hard comparison for me to make, because they end up being very different types of games.  At their best, I can’t say I’d have a preference, I really enjoy the both of them.  So, to really pick a winner on this, I’m having to compare them both at their middling level.  So we’re not, say, comparing Persona 4 with Tales of Symphonia, because even if they may both be what people think of when they’re talking about these styles of games, they’re both at the apex of their models and not the most representative of the type.
So, thinking of the hypothetical average turn-based RPG versus real-time, I’d have to give the hat tip to real-time combat.  I don’t like it when games become mindless, and the average turn-based RPG will usually have a lot of points where the best way through the jobbers it throws at you is to just mash the ‘fight’ command, over and over, and no real thought required.  Real-time combat may not always be the most involved, but it’ll require at least a bit more thought than that.

3. Do you prefer RPGs that introduce your entire lineup upfront with no changes beyond the prologue or ones that feature rotating lineups? Assume in either case that you have no control over your party lineup at any point.

Rotating lineups all the way.  In games that let you choose your party, I usually swap members in and out constantly.  I like the variety, and I like making full use of absolutely everyone in an RPG, so I’d much rather get some changes in there than have a static party the whole game.  

Now, if we have the same cast the whole game, but get to change up their classes so they do play very differently and I still get that gameplay variety, I’d be pretty ambivalent between the two.  In which case it’d all come down to they type of story they’re trying to tell.  I think having the rotating cast would usually lead to a stronger story even then, but I could see some using the static cast’s staying power to good effect, too.

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Let’s Blog Award, Round 1!-AK

As you know if you’ve been reading this space for any real length of time, Lost to the Aether is an astonishingly award-winning blog.  We’ve gotten so many.  I’m going to have to build a new room to hold all the trophies and plaques we’ve been issued here through these viral blog awards, as soon as the internet gets around to sending them.  Just check out my Stupid Blog Stuff category to see just how many we’ve gotten. I’m constantly checking the mail, just waiting for those physical representations to come.  My trophy room shall be so shiny.

In the meantime, though, we’ve been tagged for another one.  And not one that’s ever come our way before.  The Let’s Blog Award.  And we’ve been tagged not once, not twice, but thrice, in short order.  A three-hit combo of success and glory, coming first from AK of Everything is Bad for You, then next from Red Metal of Extra Life Reviews, and finishing off with the prolific Alex’s Review Corner of, uh, Alex’s Review Corner.  And I quite enjoy these blog awards.  Get a bit of rainy day blog content set up, and get to do one of my favorite things and just talk about myself at the same time.  It’s a win-win.

Of course, it’s December, time of stress, panic, and hatred, so time’s a little too limited this month for me to answer all of those tags in one long post, so we’ll break it up, and respond with a counter combo of our own.  First up here, we’ll be taking on the questions posed by AK of Everything is Bad for You, a blog that is in fact very good for you.  AK is weirdly good at getting me interested in big giant 40+ games I’d had kind of negative impressions of before.  I never thought I’d be trying out the Disgaea series, due to their grindiness, but the way he’s talked about them got me really interested, so I dipped my toes in, and it turned out to be a pretty good time.  And now he’s doing the same thing with the Atelier series. So if something happens and you never see me again it’s probably because AK made some big long Japanese game series I’d never normally consider look so good I broke down and got it and got so wrapped up I never emerged again.  

Let’s get on to AK’s questions before I do that.

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