Moon Intern

Most times, when you look around on Kickstarter, it’s not too pretty.  Sure, there’s projects like the Double Fine Adventure game that are completely awesome, but just looking around doesn’t always yield the best results.  However, Moon Intern looks to be a promising little game.

The video on the Kickstarter page explains everything best, but I’ll do my best to sum it up here.  You play as, you guessed a, a intern on the surface of the moon, helping out the denizens and taking care of problems, including alien rebels and haunted ships.  There is a lot to do, and many ways to get it done, and how you handle everything takes you along different play paths and scenarios that best matched your play style.  It’s a nice system, allowing everyone a somewhat tailored game experience.

The other interesting thing is about the people of the moon; they’re based on real people… specifically they’re people that donated to the game on Kickstarter and filled out an extensive survey to get a unique NPC.  It costs a little extra, but it’s worth it for those who have the extra cash to donate.

The problem is, Moon Intern isn’t quite funded yet; with seven days to go, they still need $5,000 out of the $80,000 needed.  They’re very close, but they need that final push to get the game made.  So if it interests you, make sure to donate the ten bucks for a digital copy!

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Humble Music Bundle

Many of us have heard of the Humble Indie Bundle before:  It made the whole concept of ‘selling a bunch of indie games for cheap (and usually for charity)’ popular.  Of course, after everyone was bombarded with bundle after bundle, it’s a little hard to get excited when one probably owns a good deal of the games already.  Thankfully, the makers of the Humble bundles realize this, and decide to shake it up a bit.

The Humble Music Bundle, instead of offering games, offers music, and gives Humble’s typical deal:  You can pay what you want and get some awesome DRM free music, but if you pay above the average, you get extra goodies as well!  The music on offer is pretty neat as well… you can see the whole list on the site, but with music from They Might Be Giants, MC Frontalot, and Valkyria Chronicles, you can’t go go wrong with a pay what you want deal!  If you pay above the average, you even get an album from OK Go, who is extremely awesome!

I’m a little sad, however, that this bundle just doesn’t seem to be selling as much as their older bundles.  It’s probably because they aren’t games, and the people who watch for these deals are looking for games or gaming related goods, and while this might have a Valkyria Chronicles soundtrack, it isn’t anything like the Indie Game Music Bundle.  However, I’m hoping word gets out to music fans that would enjoy these, and sales pick up… so get the word out about the new bundle!

First Impressions – Shining Force

I decided to start Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, the Genesis’s flagship SRPG, as part of my Summer Gaming Challenge.  I tried playing it in the past, but only got to the end of Chapter I before getting distracted, which really is unfortunate.  This is a solid game, though being the first of a new IP really seems to show through at points.

Battles play well enough, similar to most SRPGs:  You move characters around on a grid in a turn based fashion, beating up foes and gaining levels.  One thing I immediately noticed that was different, and made me have to rethink strategies, is that combatants don’t actually exchange blows; they simply attack.  So, if Max went up and hit a Goblin, that’d be it… no counter attack, and the same happens when the enemy’s turn comes up.  It’s really not even a big change, but when you’re mainly used to Fire Emblem, the change can really make you think differently about approaching certain scenarios.

Also, some things seem a little unbalanced.  Magic seems incredibly overpowered on both sides of the field, allowing my mage to decimate everyone, but at the same time an enemy mage almost completely cuts down my multiple of meatiest troops in a single hit.  It seems that the physical classes will never catch up to that level of destruction.  Some enemy AI seems off, too; I can’t fathom some of the reasons enemies will go and attack other units instead of getting an easy kill, while at other times I’m surprised at how well the AI worked into destroying the full-health main character and forcing me to restart the battle.  Good thing there’s no permadeath!

I find other small grievances, but I can’t blame the game; little things like having to access the menu and select things like ‘talk’ and ‘search’ are archaic mechanics found in a lot of RPGs during this time. The inventory system is also a pain, if only for the reason that if Max is full, I can’t loot chests, making it annoying to always micromanage who has what items.  Why couldn’t it move to the next person in line?

I’m excited to be able to promote units (like in Fire Emblem, you can promote as soon as level 10, but it’s always best to wait until you reach the cap at 20 and have 10 extra levels to grow into),  it’s neat that stat levels up are somewhat randomized (Ken even got an empty level!), and just playing the game is pretty fun.  Despite my complaints, I’m having some fun with this title, and I’m expecting it to get even better once I have some more cool party members.

Before & After the Sequel

Fan works are great.  Depending on the series, fan games can be an extension of an already great gameplay or story, a completely different experience with a familiar shell, or in the case of Sonic fan games, reliving old times.  Many Sonic fan games try to emulate the style of the Genesis classics, with varying degrees of success.  I usually try to stay away from these types of fan games; why play something LIKE the classics when I can just play the classics themselves?  Sonic: Before the Sequel, however, is an exception… it’s masterfully created and downright fun.

This fan game takes place in the time between the original Sonic and Sonic 2, attempting to explain how Sonic met with Tails and other random bits.  The story, however, doesn’t matter compared to the gameplay.  Built from the ground up instead of being a ROM hack, it really feels like an enhanced version of the classics.  The stages and bosses are all new, but it plays and looks almost just like the Genesis games.  You can tell how much love was put into the game… and it’s even better when you see it in action.  Despite the trailer saying the game is coming out soon, though, the game is already out, and you can download it for free here.

It’s not over yet, though!  It gets better…

LakeFeperd (who really needs to get a homepage or blog or something!) were not fit to rest on their laurels.  He made a great Sonic fan game, and now he’s making a sequel.  Yes, a sequel to the game that came BEFORE the sequel.  Sonic: After the Sequel comes after the events of Sonic 2, as you might gather, and promises to be another great old-school flavored Sonic romp.  The video doesn’t disappoint, either!  This one hasn’t been released yet, but there is a playable demo available to give you a taste of more Sonic goodness.

In a swath of Sonic fan games, these really stand out as products of love and design skill.  Give them a try–if you like the Genesis Sonic games, you’ll likely love these!

FFV Fiesta #8: My Only Friend, The End

Here we are!  The final gauntlet that’ll lead us to victory!  There’s quite a few baddies that aren’t happy to see us, though… I guess we’ll have to take care of them before we can take down Exdeath.

The Rift is a mishmash of places we’ve seen throughout the game, giving the impression that you’re really running through the places that Exdeath was such a jerk to suck up in the Void.  But hey, it makes for a pretty entertaining final dungeon.

So, we walk for a bit, and…

Hey, that doesn’t sound too– Oh wait, we gotta save the world, no time for rest!

I’d tell you something about her, but she died before she really got to do anything.  The raw power of this party is undeniably awesome, but they tend to run into issues if battles last more than two minutes.

Onward, and…

OH SHIT IT’S OMEGA RUN RUN RUN

Well, yeah, I wouldn’t expect anyone to either, with what that terrible murdering machine right outside the door.  Too bad we don’t get props for getting past it and have to fight Apanda.

Oh look, a palette swap of that one boss way early in the game.  He’s about as impressive as you’d expect.  Let’s keep going.

This guy’s weird.  He asked the group if they were the crystal bearers… then after some contemplation, he attacks.  You can say no, and he’ll let you carry on your business without a fight.  Neat, but there’s a reason why we want to fight him.

Azulmagia knows a LOT of Blue Magic spells.  Doesn’t really help him, but hey, there you have it.

After you defeat him, Azulmagia turns into a save point.  Handy, because it’s been awhile!  In this area, there are some old men running around in a few cells.  They’re kinda mid-bosses, and they’re protecting Dancer equipment, which I already have, so I didn’t bother.  I try to open the cell on the far top right, and…

STOP PUSHING ME OH GOD I’M GONNA HIT THE WALL AHHHHH

Catastrophe is dangerous because of its powerful Earth Shaker.  And I think he counters physicals or something.  I can’t remember, he died pretty fast as well.

So, we freed a young (presumably hot) young lady from the cell with Catastrophe, who gives us a kiss and goes upon her merry way.  Odd…

That young woman cast a spell with her kiss, and now we have to kill her to get away!

She can inflict status ailments… mostly Toad.  She isn’t a challenge.

So, finally, to the top of the castle!

Oh, Twintania.  The first boss in the Rift I had trouble with.

First, I learned it had Tidal Wave, which massacred me quickly.

So I equipped my Coral Rings.  I thought I was in for an easy victory, but…

Then I learned about Twintania having Mega Flare.  Well, that sucks.  I could use the Reflect Rings, but then I couldn’t be healed by Tidal Wave, and that would likely kill me before Mega Flare would activate.

Eventually, I do win.  You can click above for a video!

And finally, we enter the final area of the Rift, the real area.  I spot someone too… another boss?  Let’s see…

Gilgamesh!  He’s alive!  It’s a miracle!  We trade blows for a while, until he recognizes the party.  We stop fighting, and give him directions to leave the Rift.  There’s a video of the battle above; I highly recommend watching it, for Gilgamesh’s dialogue alone.

Things are going well.  I trampled all the bosses, found Gilgamesh in one piece, and am mere steps away from beating down Exdeath.  However, it’s sure been a while since a save point, and there’s some glowing object off to the side.  It tells me the light it his, and we fight…

This guy’s a little annoying.  You can’t hurt him until you destroy the barriers… the barriers don’t have much health, but they do launch high power reflected spells at you.  It takes a few tries, but I get the barriers down… despite this, though, Necrophobe still isn’t taking much damage, and my party’s not looking to hot.  Guess I’ll have to reset–Oh, wait, what?

Wait, Gilgamesh, what are you doing here?  Don’t tell me you’re… No, don’t say your goodbyes, don’t die, please, no no no….!

He… self-destructs to defeat Necrophobe, and we get a save point.  But at what cost!?  (Note: I had a video, but the battle before Gilgamesh showed up took so long it was too boring to make people watch.  So you don’t get to see Gilgamesh’s interesting farewells.  Sorry.)

Well, this is it.  It’s time to defeat Exdeath!

Let’s not forget that the big bad boss of this game is a tree!  This is not an environmentally-friendly game.

Exdeath’s first form is easy enough, you beat on him for a couple minutes, before Exdeath gets consumed by the power of the Void.

Oh yay, real final boss time!

Ouch.

Neo Exdeath isn’t a pushover.  He has four parts, that all do different attacks.  The top, grey part that’s sticking out does the physical attacks and Vacuum Wave.  The red, lion-looking head in the middle is the piece that casts Grand Cross, a spell that inflicts ANY random status effect on characters, up to and including Death.  Underneath that piece, around were the ram’s head is in the middle, is the part that casts Almagest, an extremely powerful attack that hits for ~1700 to each party member.  Finally, somewhere in the back is the magical piece, which casts Holy, Flare, Meteor, and the elemental spells.  You have to be careful, too, as when you defeat three out of Neo Exdeath’s ‘pieces’, the fourth gains the abilities of the others, can attack super quickly, and can cast Almagest and Grand Cross without charging it.  Harsh.

So, Almagest is the most dangerous ability to me in this battle (a lot of people have difficulties with Grand Cross, but I couldn’t really survive the damage), so I strive to defat that part first.  There’s a lot of unlucky shots, and plain bad moves on my part, but eventually I get it down.  Second, I take out the Grand Cross piece, mainly because it’s a pain.  Then, the front piece.  The back piece starts spamming everything, but there’s a trick.

If you use a Magic Lamp, Odin always casts his instant kill move.

The back piece is susceptible to it.

And there we go!  Oh, something interesting…

If a party member is dead when you kill Exdeath, they can’t escape the Void and you LEAVE THEM BEHIND.  Seriously.  Not too bad, though, they’ll get revived at the end, but you DO miss their bit of the ending.

That’s Final Fantasy V Advance, Fiesta style!  Let’s look at some stats before wrapping this up:

Bartz, the Knight in shining armor, protecting the princesses from harm!

Lenna, running around in a skimpy fur suit and smashing monsters’ heads in!  I guess blood IS kinda hard to clean out of fur, so she’s got a good idea.

Faris, looking remarkably different!  Galuf said early in the game that ‘it’s a shame to hide those assets’.  She took it to heart.

Krile, who’s ready to take a nap!  It’s adorable.

And finally, my time…

Not even 22 hours!  Pretty fast.

That’s all for the fiesta!  Thanks for reading, I hope you had as much fun reading as I did playing!  Maybe I’ll see you again next year!

 

Oh Yeah!

For those who hadn’t heard yet, a certain Kickstarter project has been making big waves the last few days in the gaming industry (well, at least, the indie part of it).  The OUYA (pronounced oh-yeh) is a new type of gaming console–one that, at only $99, supports the free-to-play model and offers a hassle-free way for developers to create high end, HD console games.  The OUYA will get rid of the roadblocks and difficulties of producing games for consoles, giving developers the freedoms they have on the PC and Mac fronts to make creative games… as the good ol’ days of gaming let them do, as it were.

This is all very exciting, but some of this really requires explanation… for example, what do they mean by ‘free-to-play model’?  Well, their FAQ explains it well enough:

…every game will be free to play: what this means is that there will at least be a free demo, or you’ll be able to play the entirety of the game for free but may have access to additional items, upgrades, or other features that come at a cost.

Think of League of Legends: The game is completely free, and you can play it without spending a dime… but you can also get unique character skins, or unlock a character you want with money instead of using the in-game currency.  It’s a model that’s worked in the past, and while it is yet unproven on consoles, the OUYA might yet thrive on it.

But what about games?  A console, no matter how cool sounding, cannot survive without any games… but thankfully, that’s being worked on as well.  If the project is successful, the makers od OUYA can send out developer kits to interested parties, so that when the console launches in 2013, they can have a nice set of launch games, as well as possible console exclusives!  Also, since 300 people have already committed to the OUYA model that comes with developer’s tools built in the five days the Kickstarter has been up, it seems at least some are excited to make games for it as well as play them!

That does beg the question… will the project be successful?  It already is!  The project’s goal was a little under a million dollars, but in these past five days those expectations were completely shattered and the project has raised over FOUR AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.  In five days!  It’s incredible!  So many of the $99 pre-order OUYAs were sold, even, that the makers had to put up a second pledge listing for them, and that’s filling up fast, too.

Even if you don’t support the OUYA financially, or in other ways, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on… while I’m not sold that this will completely change console gaming, I have to wonder how the big companies are going to respond if the system takes off.