Monthly Archives: December 2016

Xenosaga Episode III Part 22: Love in the Time of Testaments

Prevously on Xenosaga: Shion found Jesus! And then Kevin!

Here he is!

Shion is excited! She’s outrunning a cyborg and an android!


Kevin, she’s successfully murdered every living thing between here and the Elsa. You should be scared.

Kevin has all the answers! Make Shion great again!

Kevin decides that it’s time to reveal his amazing backstory. Get popcorn!

Year in Review: 2016

2016… wow, what a year, am I right? I mean, I got a new hammock, and… uh…. I’m sure some other stuff happened, but I can’t really recall exactly what right now. Oh, no matter, let’s talk about some videogames.

Disappointment of the Year: Street Fighter V

Right in the kisserYou don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…

When I was first informed (by the owner of the videogame store that was selling me the game) that Street Fighter V launched with a limited story mode that included all of two or three battles per character, I was undeterred. “I don’t play Street Fighter for the arcade mode,” I feistily boasted, “I’m here for the rad characters and cool combos. I could care less about one player content in my fighting games.”

Turns out I’m very good at lying to myself and others.

I didn’t even realize it until Street Fighter 5, but apparently “arcade mode” is the main way I experience fighting games, and, when arcade mode is missing, I very quickly lose interest. I like fighting online against randos! I swear! But that experience is very… uneven? I can’t recall the last time I fought five online opponents at the same continuous difficulty level. It’s amazing when you feel out a fighter and learn the proper footsie game that is going to guarantee your victory… but most of the time you’re either fighting “someone too good”, “someone who uses the same three moves all the time”, or “clearly a ten year old”. And the ten year old is the worst! Even when I win that fight, I feel like that one jackass from the arcade that kept hogging the Mortal Kombat machine and stealing the quarters of the good children of the mall.

… I have issues.

So, with a lack of arcade mode, Street Fighter V went from one of my most anticipated games of the year to something that just randomly gets fired up when a new character is released. I want to play this game more, but every time I do, I wind up quitting within a half hour. It’s silly, but after the 27 Street Fighter iterations of the last few decades, this game somehow winds up being the best and worst all in one box. Well, it’s actually mostly DLC at this point, so maybe it isn’t really in the box…

Uh, anyway, I just don’t want to play survival mode. Too stressful.

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Disney Infinity Figures

Look, they were on sale at Toys R Us, and I always liked the character designs for Inside Out. And then I figured I’d pick up a couple of cool characters, and I always thought Brave was underrated, and wouldn’t it be cool to have a shelf of all Disney heroines, and then there was another sale… and, long story short, I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house.


And, yes, the Amiibo collection grew, too. And there wasn’t even a sale on those…

Game with the absolute worst release date of the Year: World of Final Fantasy

World of Final Fantasy is a great concept for a videogame: What if Final Fantasy and Pokémon had a baby, and it was adorable? There, done, game of the year. Add in a Kingdom Hearts-esque plot about crossover characters that kinda sorta make sense in a delightful little world, and we’re all set.

But I have barely played World of Final Fantasy. Why? Because about a month after World of Final Fantasy, we had a real Pokémon game, and a real Final Fantasy game. That’s the first new, not-a-MMORPG, not-a-sequel, not-formerly-a-PSP-game Final Fantasy in, what, seven years? Seven years between Final Fantasy games, three years between Pokémon iterations… and Final Fantasy World is released a month before both. Good job, Squeenix. Way to look at a calendar.

World of Final Fantasy looks like a lot of fun, and I’ll get back to it after I devote years of my life to these other two games. Could have been a lovely Summer release, but nooooooo.

Compilation of the Year: Megaman Legacy Collection (3DS)

As long as they keep releasing this game on different systems, I’m going to keep calling it the best thing on those systems. Switch next year, guys!

Remake of the Year: Dragon Quest 7 Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Poor galI still haven’t finished any version of DQ7, but thank Yggdrasil 3DS Dragon Quest 7 exists. I’ve always told myself that I’d return to the PSX DQ7, a game I fished out of a used bin sometime after the release of DQ8, but coming back to that game after 8 was… difficult. And then we got 9, my absolute favorite adventure featuring questing dragons (weren’t they actually angels?), and it seemed very unlikely that I would ever touch 7 again. It’s so slow, guys! Like, if a turtle was trapped in a molasses spill while being menaced by a particularly curious cat slow. Bah, why do I feel like that’s probably the premise of an entire island in this game?

But DQ7:3DS (working title) is much more in line with the pacing of its DS/3DS brethren. Yes, it’s still long as hell, and it takes a slime’s age to get anywhere, but it does actually feel like you’re getting somewhere. And the translation is no longer drier than a sandslash’s armpit, so it’s even interesting to play, too. This is one of those rare, awesome remakes that improves upon the original in every conceivable way.

And, yes, you might be able to debate that statement, but that would require playing PSX DQ7, and I see now that that task is completely impossible.

Title of the Year: Nitro + Blasterz Heroines Infinite Duel

Because her name is.... nevermindHey, look everybody, it’s another anime fighting game with a ridiculous title. Will wonders never cease?

Nitro + is actually a pretty fun game. It’s got an all-female cast of mostly characters I don’t recognize (and I feel kind of bad that I immediately recognize Sonico and her supporting “other” character), and it could be just another lazy “let’s toss all these disparate characters together and feed off the nerds” affair. But it’s good! Well… it’s no Blazblue or Street Fighter (I said it was disappointing, not bad), but it’s still a fighting game that has some decent (and new!) ideas. Sonico, seemingly the headliner for this game (she sings the theme song!) attacks… with cats. Like… a lot of cats. That’s a little different from your typical Ryu. Oh, and the game actually looks like a PS4 game, and not something that could have easily worked on the SNES, like a lot of random anime battlers. Anybody play that J-Stars kinda-fighting game? For a game where Goku could punch Naruto, it was pretty damn lackluster.

System of the Year:

Nope. Moving on.

Game of the Year: Pokémon Go

GO!I’m completely serious about this: my videogame of the year is barely a videogame. And it’s on a cell phone! I don’t even know who I am anymore!

Okay, yes, Pokémon Go is kind of lousy as a game-game. Its desire to drain your pockets is obvious (boy, if you buy a bunch of incubators and walk around a lot, you’re practically saving money!), the “ball tossing” elements are about as complicated as learning to snap your fingers (… okay that took me like twelve years), and the whole “gotta catch ‘em all” setup is there to leave you crazy and wandering the streets at 3 AM hoping against hope that a porygon might show up and not immediately run away. This is not a good game, and Final Fantasy 15 or Overwatch should have this spot. Hell, even the surprisingly innovative Pokémon Sun/Moon should hold the “best Pokémon game” spot.

That said…

I’ve dex’ed 141 pokémon, captured 5,572 random beasts, evolved 419 mons, visted 5,706 Pokéstops, and walked… a whole lot. Apparently Go doesn’t have an in game clock… and that’s probably for the best.

So why is Pokémon Go my game of the year? It’s not just because I played it more than any other videogame this year (which is true and obvious), and it’s not just because my OCD compels me to play any Pokémon game (or “game”) until I have become the very best, like no one ever was. No, the reason Pokémon Go wins my vote is simply that it recontextualized reality. I’ve always been a fan of “walks”, but I got out of the habit a few years ago (usually because it becomes a might cold around these parts for a solid four months or so, and by the time that changes, I’ve rediscovered inside activities). With Pokémon Go, though, I suddenly had a reason to get out there and walk again, and maybe investigate the nooks and crannies of my local neighborhoods while I’m at it. There’s an apartment complex at the edge of town that I never noticed in three decades, but when there’s a Koffing nest on the radar, well, it’s time for some exploring. And I’m an insomniac, so a game that rewards me for playing at 4 AM on an August morning is amazing (the reward is less people around, the greatest reward of all).

Pokémon Go wasn’t the best videogame of the year, but it’s a videogame that seemed uniquely suited to my unique neuroses, so it’s my game of the year.

Now can someone tell me how to get rid of this fat guy hanging in front of my house repeating, “Isn’t technology wonderful?” over and over again?

Come to papa

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Overwatch, Doom, Final Fantasy 15

I basically got all these games within the last month, thanks to sales or release schedules. I’ll get to them!

Games I’m sure are great, but I still haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Undertale

I was working on other stuff! Introspection 2016

I’m really regretting starting the site last Summer, because, had I started at the beginning of the year, I would be able to say this has been Year 2 of Now, what, I have to say it’s been Year 1.5? Lame.

Rock outOther than terrible timing, I’m still enjoying the site, and I’m continually amazed by that. I really thought I would peter out on this thing around FGC #30 (which was actually… Rampage Through Time? Sounds about right), but here we are, looking forward to #223. What’s that robot going to choose next? Who knows! (Actually, I usually “roll” ROB for about fifteen to twenty articles in advance. I like to know what’s coming.)

I suppose a new thing this year has been the “theme weeks”, like Final Fantasy 7-palooza or even the recent Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past week (which basically happened because I couldn’t stop talking about one game I’ve played constantly… go fig), and those will likely continue to happen, because, in a weird way, a week of stability seems to work well for my mental health. It’s hard to switch gears from B.O.B. to Pinball Quest to Super Scope 6! I can only do it so much! Theme weeks let me work with some basic truth and expand it to a couple of days/articles. I think my brain likes that.

Oh, and this is the year that was practically defined by the Xenosaga LP, which is in its closing chapters as the year draws to an end. I’ll retrospect on that one a little more in its own section, but I’m amazed at how enjoyable that project has been, and that, ya know, I’m actually finishing it. That seemed impossible last year.

And here are five random articles from 2016 that I enjoyed writing/reading (and that I haven’t already mentioned):

You can mention your favorites in the comments. Or don’t, as seems to be the tradition. See if I care.

And, honestly, even though I don’t say it enough, thank you to everyone that has ever enjoyed an article, commented, and/or linked the site or commented about it on social media. It’s all very appreciated, and this blog is brought to you by viewers like you. I promise I’ll get better at Twitter, soon.

Alright, that’s it for 2016! Let’s hope next year is at least a marginal improvement!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Lollipop Chainsaw! Okay, not what I would have picked to start out the year, but it’s still a fun game. Next year, get me a chainsaw. Please look forward to it!

One big one for the end of the year

FGC #222 Out to Lunch

Fun times aheadSometimes I wonder if Nintendo Power did permanent damage to my brain.

Today’s game is Out to Lunch. Out to Lunch is one of those “could have worked on the NES” style SNES games. You’re Pierre le Chef, a happy little dude that apparently lives in a waking Hell where all food items are giant, sentient, and capable of escaping from the fridge. Pierre doesn’t want to starve to death, so he grabs his best butterfly net and sets out to re-capture the ingredients for… let’s see here… potatoes, turnips, tomatoes… I suppose he’s making Ice Climber soup. Each level winds up being something of an expanded-Bubble Bobble type affair: each “board” is a seemingly random assortment of obstacles, and you’ve got to stalk your veggies all over the map, capture ‘em, and then drag them (presumably kicking and screaming) back to a specially prepared giant vegetable cage. Jumping on an escaped foodstuff stuns the thing-that-should-not-be, and there are a few powerups lying around, like hot sauce that can lead to fire breath, and salt that is… salt. Look out for Le Chef Noir (roughly translated: something racist), Pierre’s nefarious rival, who will open the cage and let your meals run wild again! The lunch rush was never so literal! Food pun!

Out to Lunch isn’t a bad game, but that paragraph contained basically everything there is to see in the game. Aside from a roaming bacteria or two, practically every trick and trap this game has in store for the player can be experienced within the first level, and, a half hour in, you’ll be ready to put the controller down and play something slightly more robust, like Duck Hunt. Yet, somehow, there are 48 separate levels in this game. That would be kind of impressive on a NES cartridge, but this thing is on the same system as Super Mario World, and that game had 96 exits and a dinosaur. Nowadays, Out to Lunch would be a simple browser or cell phone game, and maybe it would be pay-per-salt to gain an advantage over your unseasoned foes. There they goOne guy would pay a thousand dollars for a million Lunch Coins, Facebook would mock him for a solid week, and that would be that. The world keeps turning, and Out to Lunch is quickly forgotten.

But… why do I own a copy of Out to Lunch?

It’s not because it’s a treasured childhood memory. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even rent this generic platforming whateverthingy. Launch games like the previously mentioned Super Mario World, Final Fight, and even Gradius 3 were all much better experiences than OtL. And it’s not because Pierre le Chef is some beloved childhood character. Even today, I’m likely to buy a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Star Wars game on the spot on the power of license, because I’m weak and a slave to my desires. But Out to Lunch has no such hold over me. Where did this blasted cartridge come from?

And then it hit me: this game was a mistake.

I never wanted Out to Lunch. I wanted Panic Restaurant.

I still have yet to play Panic Restaurant. And why is that? Simple, it currently sells for about $500 used. It’s a NES game, and it was one of the last ones off the assembly line, and nobody bought it because panicking eating establishments are not the most appealing venues for videogames, and, fast forward about two decades, now only six people have a copy. There was probably a time in history that I would have shelled out that kind of dough for a rare NES game, but now, even with a more significant disposable income, the rise of reproduction carts has frightened me away from the field. What’s the point if you can’t even know you’re buying the real McCoy? And am I going to disassemble something I bought for half a grand to find out for sure? Hell no. It’s not like the ROM isn’t right there, and I probably know enough about cart engineering to make my own if I was really that dedicated. YummyWhere was I? Oh yeah, I’m never playing Panic Restaurant for some stupid excuse I’ve concocted. Same goes for you, Little Samson!

But I did always want to play Panic Restaurant, and that’s entirely thanks to Nintendo Power. Panic Restaurant was featured in Issue 38 of Nintendo Power, coincidentally the issue that covered Street Fighter 2. As you can probably guess, since I was young and hungry for street fighting, I read that issue an estimated twelve billion times. It was also the July issue for the year, which meant it got some “extra” reading over the course of the annual Florida vacation (which involved a car ride that lasted roughly as long as the rise and fall of the Roman Empire). Oh, and was this an issue with that Legend of Zelda comic? It was! Oh God! This is a perfect storm, people! I might be able to recite portions of this magazine from memory. I bet Super Mario Bros. 3 was the number one NES game that month! … Okay, that was a gimme.

But, as I now leaf through this issue of Nintendo Power (yes, I have it readily accessible… don’t you?), I realize that a number of these games I wouldn’t play for another ten years, if at all. Magic Sword? Going to have to wait for emulation for that, young Goggle Bob. Gameboy Toxic Avengers? Sorry, same deal (and it ain’t gonna be pretty). Even R-Type, Super Smash TV, and Shatterhand, all featured in this month’s Classified Information, were games that I wouldn’t touch for years, if not decades. Make no mistake, I wanted to play Super Smash TV (the arcade… comes home!), but I think I want to rent the new, BOUNCEnot-in-arcades Mega Man X this week. But that desire… the need to play these games featured in a magazine I read over and over… that only grows… and festers… and, soon enough, I’m at a used game store ten years later, looking at a SNES cartridge with a whacky chef on the cover, and… yeah… I think this is something I want, right? Yes, please, let’s buy this, play it for five minutes, and then never think about it again until some daffy robot demands it be played. That’s a plan!

And I wonder: if Nintendo Power can get me to buy some weird 16-bit game on a misplaced memory of an 8-bit game, how else is that beloved publication influencing my thinking today? Are articles I read twenty years ago manipulating the life or death decisions I make daily? Is Counselor’s Corner controlling the man I am now? Oof, that’s almost too much to contemplate. I’m my own person, dammit, I’m not going to let Nintendo Power tell me what to do!

I think I have to go lie down now. Maybe I’ll call my doctor, get some advice straight from the pros…

FGC #222 Out to Lunch

  • System: Super Nintendo and Gameboy. This game would be more tolerable in a portable format… but then it would probably also just be Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle. That’s not a good thing.
  • Number of players: Two player alternating. And you both play as the same chef. Couldn’t get a recolor going, guys? Lame.
  • GotchaFavorite powerup: There are spiked shoes, and I thought they would help stomp on enemies more effectively, but, nope, they let Chef “stick” to the icy platforms, and not slip around. Considering that damn slipperiness pretty much killed my desire to keep playing this game, I’d say that’s the best powerup available.
  • So, did you beat it? Nope. I’m not sure I’ll ever be bored enough to grapple with this much tedium.
  • Did you know? Because I will never own the game, I will never review Panic Restaurant as part of the FGC. And that looks like a more interesting game than Out to Lunch, too! Right here in Nintendo Power, it says that…
  • Would I play again: I never wanted to play this game in the first place!

What’s next? Let’s review 2016! Please look forward to it!