Tag Archives: rogue

FGC #308 Etrian Mystery Dungeon

LETS EXPLORE SOME DUNGEONS!I hate Etrian Mystery Dungeon.

Wait, no, that sounds bad. Let me try that again.

I hate everything about Etrian Mystery Dungon.

Let’s break that one down.

I Hate Rogue-Likes

This one is a biggie, and I realize I might be in the minority here. Actually, scratch that, considering the rogue-like genre languished for a solid twenty years of gaming history, I might actually be in the majority in not liking “rogue-like features”. Granted, rogues seem to have made a comeback in recent years (as rogues are wont to do), or maybe that’s just the latest trend in bullet points, like “over 80 hours of gameplay”, “contains RPG features”, or “a giant, open world”.

If you’re unfamiliar with the rogue-like genre, it goes something like this: you are an adventurer, and you’re going to explore some dungeons. The dungeons are usually randomly generated, and, rather than reconnoitering a carefully planned dungeon like one might find in a Zelda or Final Fantasy, you’re stuck with a completely different, completely random experience every time. This haphazardness pairs poorly with the other big draw of the rogue-like: death matters. While death is generally only an inconvenience in practically every videogame available, death in a rogue-like can often be devastating. For today’s game, death in a dungeon means losing all of your items (discovered treasures and purchased items) and cash. And, while hobos might seem like the ideal dungeon explorers, it turns out that money even makes spelunking go ‘round. In short, death has a greater sting in a rouge-like, and a randomly generated dungeon with a randomly generated super rock monster is going to lead to a lot of headaches.

Away we goAnd I loathe this kind of punishment. I’ve mentioned this before, but I play videogames to escape from real life. No, I suppose that terminology is a little off. It’s not so much that I want to flee from reality, I just want a reality with a few more… amenities. I’m a hoarder. I’m a hoarder by nature, and I despise how every facet of biology does not deal well with this desire. I would like nothing more than to visit an Golden Corral, devour seventeen pounds of hush puppies, and then not have to worry about eating for the rest of the month. But noooooo, the human body can’t deal with that for some stupid reason, and I have to eat every five hours like a caveman. Back in the day, we didn’t even have refrigerators, and we had to eat food when it was immediately available, or starve to death. Who has time for that? Not me. All of human history has been about making life more convenient, and preventing time lost. Rogue-likes… not so much.

I play videogames to experience magical fantasy worlds where I can keep a megalixer in my inventory until ten years after I’m dead, and my descendants finally decide to use it on that one super boss (lousy ungrateful children). I don’t play videogames to lose all my precious possessions to some stupid ape dork that managed to keep scoring criticals while I missed thirty times in a row.

Though while I’m on the topic of pathological hording…

I Hate Inventory Management

MOLE!I want everything at all times. I currently live in a world where, at the press of a button, I can have a delicious bread bowl filled with alfredo sauce and pineapple delivered to my door slightly ahead of my seventeen Amazon orders for books that were first published two hundred years ago. And while I’m doing that, I can download every Mega Man game ever made, assuming I haven’t already downloaded every Mega Man game ever made. The only thing that might wind up being an issue is that I may have already downloaded a hundred games I’m never going to play, so I filled up my hard drive. But no big! I can just buy a bigger hard drive, and we’re back in business! No need to clean out the fridge when you’ve got a bigger one on layaway. All the everything! All for me! MINE!

Etrian Mystery Dungeon has a limited inventory. You can initially stow only thirty items, but that number can be increased by a paltry ten or so at a time. How is that helpful at all? Have you ever explored a dungeon before? Been down to the Marsh Cave? I usually carry 99 antidotes, and only two monsters actually use poison attacks! But ooooh no, that’s not allowed in EMD. Despite the fact that you could encounter anything down there, you’re stuck with your meager inventory bag, and if you decided to go for a revive-on-the-last-floor item (in anticipation of a deadly boss) instead of a simple potion (to recover from a surprisingly difficult creature on a higher floor), you may be screwed before you even breach the dungeon’s maw.

I realize that some people enjoy inventory management, but those people are the same kind of twisted freaks that are capable of packing a suitcase while avoiding what is best described as a “clothesplosion”. I was a Boy Scout, I like to be prepared for everything, and when I have to choose between holding on to a delicious box lunch or grabbing some fresh treasure, my mind completely shuts down. I wake up a day later, my 3DS’s battery has been drained, and I’m not wearing pants anymore for some reason. Don’t put me in that situation, EMD! I’m running low on pants!

I Hate Grids

Videogames are a lie. I know that. Mario can’t really fly, he’s always going to hit the top of the scroll, and that’s as high as that raccoon-man goes. Link doesn’t really have the ability to explore an entire world, there’s always going to be an edge he can’t surpass. UghAnd even in JRPGs where you obtain an airship or flying dragon or magical balloon or whatever, the looping world is a complete hoax, and you’re actually traversing a planet that, were it actually scale, would be no larger than a watermelon. But the good games, the Marios, Zeldas, and Final Fantasies, trick the player’s stupid ape brain into thinking there is a vast, magical world out there. The first time you hit the world map in Final Fantasy 7, everything feels so massive! … It’s a complete lie, but that feeling of exploring an entire world is there.

Grids are the opposite of that. EMD divides every dungeon into a chessboard, and the seams of the universe show immediately. What could be vast, unexplored labyrinths quickly become “levels”, and… that’s it. You’re playing a videogame with little videogame people. You’re killing time. You’re not exploring, you’re moving pieces on a game board. May as well be playing Chutes and Ladders, you time wasting child.

Yes, the grid system does make exploration more straightforward, but I hate it all the same.

I Hate Anime

Okay, that’s a lie. The record will show that I have a very high tolerance for anime bullshit. But that’s probably because I like anime when I know I’m getting anime. If I cue up Attack on Titan or K-ON, I pretty much know what kind of experience I’m going to get (though I admit, I would watch the mash-up Attack on K-ON). It’s kind of like… Hm… I don’t eat doughnuts every day, and doughnuts are delicious, but if I were eating doughnuts, I wouldn’t want a big piece of steak sticking out of my bear claw. These are not two tastes that go great together.

And you know what else doesn’t go great together? Sexual dimorphism.

MEDIC!

I am perfectly okay with a game where you play as 12 year old girls. I am also okay with a game where you play as dungeon dudes. However, I am not okay with Etrian Mystery Dungeon, wherein all the boys are ready and willing dungeon dudes, and all the girls are underdressed, prepubescent gigantic eyeball delivery homunculi. It is… off-putting. And yes, I can see those giant eyeballs on the cover, I knew what I was in for, but seeing a male medic that is all cool and ready for healing times next to a female medic that decided a dungeon would be an appropriate place for adorable striped socks… it’s… not good. I hate it.

I hate Etrian Mystery Dungeon. It’s entirely possible the game gets more fun, interesting, and playable as time goes on, but after playing for a few hours, I dropped the wretched thing. I don’t like EMD’s core components. This game simply isn’t for me. It looks like there’s more than meets the eye to this adventure… but I’ll never see it.

And I hate that.

FGC #308 Etrian Mystery Dungeon

  • System: Nintendo 3DS. I have to say that the dual screen map thing will be missed whenever the 3DS finally retires.
  • Number of players: One person controls a four-people party. No, you can’t make them all fight each other for your amusement. I hate
    that.
  • This guySay something nice: The localization is pretty choice. This could easily be another “straight outta Japan” release that offers the most cursory of translations, but the people in the EMD world seem welcoming (and human) enough.
  • Goggle Bob’s proposed franchise mash-up alternative: Etrian Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
  • Favorite Class: Sovereign is just weird enough to be my favorite. Why would you take your royalty into a dungeon? To bark orders and keep morale up, obviously. Usually I prefer something with a little more battling oomph, but I have a hard time taking any of the physical classes seriously in a game with these ridiculous anime faces.
  • Did you know? The Wanderer class is based on the hero of the rogue-like genre, Shiren the Wanderer. This is also the only class in the game where the female version doesn’t set off alarm bells. Okay, maybe the Protector sneaks in there, too.
  • Would I play again: This isn’t a bad game, it’s just a bad game for Goggle Bob. I can’t stand so much of this game, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. I simply won’t enjoy it. Ever.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Excitebike for the NES! Vrooooooooooooooom! Please look forward to it!

Cool cool

FGC #096 X-Men vs. Street Fighter

Super Best BudsX-Men vs. Street Fighter was the start of, without question, one of my favorite Fighting Game franchises. On the other hand, to me, XvSF will always represent the end of an era.

It’s hard to describe today, but it seems like the arcades of yore are destined to be a singular, unique creature in the history of video games. Nowadays, arcade cabinets are something of a novelty. Look, you’re in a diner lobby, and there’s a copy of Ms. Pac-Man. How quaint! I can play a video game here in this alcove while I wait for my table… as if my phone can’t already do that. Similarly, actual arcades are now relegated to theme parks and tourist attractions, just as much a piece of entertainment fluff as Guess Your Weight Booths or Strong Man Contests. You wouldn’t spend a dollar to fill a clown’s mouth with liquid at home, and you wouldn’t blow 50¢ a pop to play a round of a video game either, but you might in the happy, shiny environment of a Six Flags. Whatever the case, arcades have ceased to become a destination, and are now nothing more than charming reminders of a time when tokens could be more valuable than gold.

To put all my cards on the table, I’m a child of the 80’s. As such, there was never a time in my memory that I did not possess a color television, VCR, and all the modern appliances of today (man, was the washing machine interesting to a ten year old). If there was something on TV I wanted to watch, I didn’t have to watch it through a store window like some Dickensian urchin, I watched it on the couch, or maybe a beanbag chair. What’s important was I didn’t have to wear shoes. We didn’t have Netflix, but we did have the video rental joint (heck, even the local supermarket rented movies), so any film I’d ever want to see (Back to the Future, over and over again) was available with like a buck and dad’s membership card. Point is, practically from birth, I had been spoiled with a complete lack of reasons to leave the house.

But the arcades were something different. I could puke out another seventeen paragraphs about this, but let’s take a quick look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the arcade…

Rockin' Steady

And then we’ve got the NES game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game.

Not so Steady

See the difference? It’s subtle, but I think you might be able to notice a slight graphical shift between the two versions. Even beyond that, TMNT NES was merely a two player game, while TMNT Arcade could support all four ninja turtles simultaneously. Couple this with a few other quality of life improvements (I want to fight Bebop and Rocksteady together, dammit!), and no one would ever claim the NES version had anything to offer over its arcade cousin, give or take the ability to be squashed by a snowplow.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the obvious example, but so many arcade games absolutely demolished their console brethren. Double Dragon and Robocop barely survived the switch from arcade to console, and some games, like Strider or Bad Dudes, became completely different experiences on the couch. Some games could barely be ported at all, like “sit down” racing games and more complex shooting games that included their own guns. And some essential titles never bothered, like The Simpsons and X-Men: The Arcade Game (which featured an amazing six players!). Donkey Kong, friggen Donkey Kong, never received an “arcade perfect” port, and that game was shorter than Jump Man!

So, to a child of the 80’s, the message was clear: the arcades are where the real games are, and the consoles will always be pale imitations. OuchYes, by the SNES era we were receiving “better” ports like SNES Street Fighter 2 or TMNT: Turtles in Time, but, inevitably, these games were still, in some fashion, gimped. The Playstation took it a step further, with console and arcade Tekken blurring the lines between home and arcade, but there was definitely one place the Playstation was left lacking…

Depending on who you ask, Capcom invented the Fighting Game genre with Street Fighter 2 (and you can see how there might be a flaw in that reasoning if you stop for a second to consider the “2” in there), and, from then on, redefined “a good fighting game” over and over again. Darkstalkers springs immediately to mind, but there are also lesser known titles like Rival Schools, Red Earth, and Star Gladiator. And through it all, we all knew pretty much anything involving Ryu would be golden, whether it was the Alpha series or that one aborted attempt at integrating skeleton luchadores. So when it was announced that Ryu and his street fighting buddies would battle against the X-Men, well, suffice it to say there was more than a little hype.

Ultimately, the Vs. series was just an evolution of the X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems fighting games that Capcom had already produced. Rather than create another fifteen 90’s X-Men sprites, Capcom decided to only manufacture a new trio (Rogue, Gambit, and Sabretooth), a new boss (Apocalypse), and populate the rest of the roster with reused Street Fighter Alpha 2 sprites. Granted, the Street Fighters gained new moves to properly compensate for a group of rivals that could literally kill with a glance, but, by and large, you can see how much of this game was a cost-cutting measure to continue exploiting a worthwhile license on a budget.

But, oh man, did it work.

Ryu vs. Cyclops, Ken vs. Wolverine, and M. Bison vs. Magneto were the “headliners” of the game, but it was kind of impossible to not have a favorite “who would win” matchup in that roster. My only complaint is that we never got the obvious Blanka vs. Beast match I’ve been waiting for for years (they’re both very smart! Blanka learned how to channel electricity from eels!), Best Buds 4 Everbut we did get Rogue vs. Cammy, Storm vs. Chun-Li, and, my personal favorite, Zangief vs. Juggernaut. And if you were just an X-Men fan, there were plenty of choices: Spiral and Iceman might not have made the cut, but Rogue vs. Gambit or Sabertooth vs. Wolverine are classic battles. And former bosses Juggernaut and Magneto are right there for the picking, so if you want to be a bad guy with a punch the length of the screen, feel free. All around, X-Men vs. Street Fighter was a fun, and unique, fighting game.

Assuming you were playing it in the arcade.

A trademark of the Vs. series is tag-team play: you choose two characters, and may switch between them both over the course of the match. There’s a surprising amount of strategy involved there, as, not only should you choose the fighter best suited to the current opponent, but you can also swap characters so your prime fighter may rest and recover some vitality while the partner is out tossing fireballs. In later games, this would be expanded to include “summons” that allowed your partner to come out for a single move while your main fighter prepped for some other shenanigans. Honestly, it’s a very obvious addition to the 2-D fighter (King of Fighters says what?), but its “instant” implementation here never stopped being a blast.

Assuming you weren’t playing on the Playstation, at least. The Playstation couldn’t handle the tag-team play, so, sorry, you’re Ken is the masterstuck with one fighter at a time, and the “partner” is relegated to the occasional counter or “Variable Combination”, which allows both of your characters to use a hyper move simultaneously. This dramatically decreases the strategy involved in the game (Cyclops becomes the only partner worth having. OPTIC BLAST!), and, couple that with the reduced framerates and muddier graphics, it was pretty clear the Playstation version was inferior to its arcade counterpart.

But, really, that’s what we all expected at the time. It was another arcade port, so, of course it can’t be as good as the arcade version. That’s how it works: arcade games are always better in the arcade. Duh.

Except, for my memory, that was the last time that happened. Yes, there was also Marvel vs. Street Fighter and, eventually, Marvel vs. Capcom for the Playstation, but they both wound up ignored for one reason (“Don’t I already have a vs. game?”) or another (“I got it on Dreamcast”). By the era of the Dreamcast/Playstation 2, and, specifically, Soul Calibur and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, arcade ports had become perfect. More than that, they had become better than perfect. Show me someone who spent as much time as playing DC Soul Calibur as Arcade Soul Calibur, and I’ll show you someone who didn’t know a system could be thinking. Poor, misbegotten soul. And, yes, as some of you have already no doubt leapt to explain, there was a “perfect” X-Men vs. Street Fighter port for the home consoles, and it was on the Sega Saturn, a system that, unfortunately, was only owned by drug dealers and the criminally insane.

So, to me, X-Men vs. Street Fighter will always be the capstone on the end of an era. This was the last game that made me think, “It’s cool, but I’d still like to play that arcade machine.” There are other factors, but, looking at it from that perspective, it’s no wonder that, following this game’s release, the arcade’s grip on the hearts and minds of gamers began to soften, and, within a console generation, the arcade would go from The Spot to a minor novelty remembered only by ranting old men on blogs.

X-Men vs. Street Fighter, you may have been the swan song of the arcade, but at least you sung it in style.

FGC #96 X-Men vs. Street Fighter

  • System: Playstation for a gimped version, Sega Saturn for a good version, Arcade for the proper version.
  • Number of Players: 2, because Fighting Game. We’d have to wait until Marvel vs. Capcom for the true four.
  • Favorite Fighter: Split between who I like Think about itto use and who I want to be able to use. Rogue is awesome: I love her 90’s design, and, conceptually, I love her animations and special attacks that, really, boil down to “Superman that likes to punch things”. That said, I can barely win a match with her. On the other hand, I can somehow destroy everything with Dhalsim. Is he overpowered in this game? I’ve never been one for tiers, but it seems like he can zone like a champ in this one.
  • Z-Fighters: All winning X-Men get an “X” silhouette background, but Street Fighters get… a stylized Z? I suppose it’s a holdover from Street Fighter Alpha 2, but it’s surprising how that little detail has aged poorly alongside the perennial Street Fighters featured in this game (their 90’s designs are their designs).
  • Apocalypse Now: I want to say this is the first 2-D fighter I ever played to feature a gigantic, almost action-game-esque final boss. Apocalypse becomes screen filling in his final form, and he would eventually be followed by Onslaught, Abyss, and Galactus in other Vs. games. This was, incidentally, the best thing Onslaught ever did. Beyond that, it appears the Blazblue franchise and other “anime fighters” have picked up the tradition… which can be really confusing in an arcade mode that is over before you’ve even mastered your character’s super jump…
  • Akuma Now: Akuma is, once again, the unlockable fighter of this game. Despite his “hidden” status, he’s right there on the cover of the game. Such is the amazing draw of the one and only Akuma.
  • Did you know? I want to say this is the first game to include a lesbian kiss. I’m almost certain it’s the first game to include a lesbian-clone kiss.
    Southern Belle
  • Would I play again: I want to say yes, but, no, it’s completely overwritten with either Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (which includes all the fighters seen here), or Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (which is the more modern interpretation). I guess this game does include a Rogue that can steal special moves as opposed to just stat boosts, but that’s no reason to ignore any and all games that include Morrigan.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Kid Chameleon for the Sega Genesis! Aw, I thought we might get a full week of Capcom. No matter, this is still a good one… assuming you have like six continuous hours to kill… Please look forward to it!

The End