Update: Video section and new format

So I have added a new section called Video’s. This is where I will upload non-commentary playthroughs of games I like. I have put my playthrough of Painkiller up there for you to view.

Why am I doing this you ask? Well for one I like to keep a record of my gameplay but I hope that I will also be able to help others in certain sections (such as getting past the vampire at the end of the catacombs in Painkiller). For the most part, my playthroughs will be rather basic stuff. They won’t necessarily cover absolutely everything as I am not an expert at every game. They will moreso be a fun little side gig because as a gamer, I love to play games as well as write about them and why not share some of that.

If there is knowledge to impart I will share it, however I don’t want to feel obligated to inform you of everything, if you want that then you should go and watch Splitplaythrough’s video’s or something. The primary focus of these video’s isn’t to inform, it’s for me to have fun and add some variety to the site. Also it gives me a reason to continue making playthroughs. Whilst my Painkiller playthrough was admittedly rushed, I hope to make future playthroughs more in depth so that they can be more informative because it’s not just about me having fun, I want to offer something of value to the viewers.

Alongside the video’s will be a short paragraph describing what is going on in the video, kinda like a post commentary.  This can include commenting on funny stuff such as fails as well as providing tips for people who may be struggling at the game or want to see a completely different approach to a game. I often like to discuss the pros and cons of certain things such as the pros and cons of the stakegun in Painkiller.

The videos on here will likely be full on playthroughs and other one-time videos will be found on my Youtube Channel where I may or may not have footage for future videos.

The videos embedded on this site contain copyrighted content not owned by me, the only thing I can 100% guarentee with the videos is that all the gameplay is done my myself and that all of the annotations are written by myself as well as editing. As for the rest, it is all copyrighted material which I use under fair use to inform.

Videos have multiple purposes. A lot of the time, I find myself more interested in a game after having watched a playthrough of it. This is the main reason why I added this video section, to inspire others to give these games a try for they are all games I love. I will never play a game that I hate because why would I?

 

Click here to watch my recent videos

Advertisements

Update: Problems

Update: Problems

It looks like the site I used to bring all of my original reviews has disappeared off the face of the earth. This causes a lot of complications with the HTML of many of the images on the site and will take a while to repair. The hard part will be remembering where each image goes.

The site I speak of was called WeAreJustGamers.com I was asked to be a contributor to the site a while back. Thank god for Cynical Gaming Blog as it means I got to keep most of my work.

Unfortunately however many of the reviews I brought over from there have been buggered up. Images have gone missing and I have to search my entire PC for the images I used and upload them to this site.

Lesson learned folks, if you ever hope to make any form of written content, don’t rely on someone else. Set up a WordPress site.

Edit: I have fixed the disappeared images… if any images disappear in the future, be sure to let me know.

Painkiller Playthrough

Painkiller Playthrough

Here is my playthrough of the legendary Painkiller, easily my favorite first person shooter of all time. I uploaded this to Youtube a while back so that I could keep a record of it because I just love looking back at this awesome game. Feel free to watch it if you’re interested.

This isn’t so much of an in-depth guide moreso a playthrough for fun, I have every tarot card available so I cannot show you how to get them. However I may find secrets in the game that you may or may not know about.

Cemetary

The first level starts you off with the basic group of enemies, nice and easy, i do like the atmosphere too. Funnily enough this level has some very unique enemies for the most part which are never seen again throughout the entire game and don’t reappear until Overdose.

Atrium Complex

A bit of a boring level :/ But it serves it’s purpose, gets you used to dealing with so many enemies at once ald lets you practice a little with the Stakegun too. Still it’s easily one of the least impressive levels in the game and it just feels randomly put there as if it’s some kind of training level. The level design is similar to another level later on but not as good in my opinion.

Catacombs

I have a love hate relationship with this level. As much as i love the music and the simple yet detailed underground burial tunnels, a concept that is a staple of games such as this, the enemies in this level can prove quite annoying and theres an annoying glitch where the game crashes due to being unable to pop in the bridge. Plus the so called miniboss of this level can be quite tricky though since you’re watching this, you’ll probably know how to deal with him. This will probably be the first level you’ll ever want to use your cards in as it can get quite overwhelming later on though since i brought vitality with me, i didn’t have much problem. In any case, the super health below the bridge can help out a lot otherwise.

Cathedral

If you pay close attention, you’ll recognize the main hall from the intro cutscene. If the general is this close all along then why did Daniel go all the way back to the cemetery and through atrium complex and catacombs? You know what? Screw the story, this is Painkiller!
There’s a fair bit of everything in this level, you have a wide variety of enemies, mostly the same ones you fought in atrium complex but this time they’re tougher. There’s also a miniboss thrown in there too. I like the ambiance music of this level but i didn’t waste time listening to it as you’ll be able to hear it in the next video anyways.

Enclave

(Contains nudity)

This is the only uncensored cut scene I recorded besides the ending because I decided that my censorship skills are absolutely terrible. I censored them due to Youtube’s nudity policy but then I looked at the videos and thought it looked awkward… so yeah, sorry about that

(Censored version, though kinda unnecessary since kids shouldn’t be watching this game anyways)

This level isn’t really much of a level, it’s actually the first boss of the game and is easily my second favorite. The Necrogiant is huge, has spikes for feet and has a wide variety of powerful attacks. The main difficulty of this boss battle is the variety of attacks he has at his disposal, he has more attacks than any other boss in the game and can devastate you if you’re unprepared. The tarot card condition, despite what many people say is possible on your first playthrough so long as you have the haste tarot card. Gold tarot cards will make this big headed fool a joke, that’s why i’m not going to use them, in his second phase, you can hide under the grave markers where the armor and ammo is to avoid the tornado and there’s health in the middle if you need it so he’s not that tough.

Prison

This level is considerably more difficult than the last levels as you are introduced to mp40 wielding hell angels and they will put up quite a fight if you’re not prepared. Try to stick to the corners and snap them with the shotgun before the have a chance to barrage you with bullets. If you’re playing on insomnia/daydream then this level will be unavailable to you.

Opera House

Ninja’s in an Opera House? What am i missing here?
In any case i take way too long bopping around in this level and die a lot too so i had to nerf the quality so i could upload faster. If you’re playing on insomnia this will be the first level of chapter 2 and unlike prison which has many corner’s to take advantage of, opera house is naturally very open but it has it’s own fair share of nasties. In any case you can’t help but take time to appreciate the aesthetic design of this level, it even has a few easter eggs.

Asylum

(WARNING: If you’re easily frightened, don’t watch this video)

This level is supposed to be a breather level but how the hell could you consider a level like this to be easy going? The disturbing ambience of this level is impressive nonetheless. Keep an eye out for useful fire hydrants to use to your advantage (if you’re going for the tarot card) and watch out for lurkers behind corners, they hurt a lot.

Snowy Bridge

I hope you’re ready for more ninjas because there’s plenty of them here. Despite it’s name, there’s more to this level than you might think. There’s even a nice cable car ride thrown in there allowing you to take in the beautiful alpine views. They really thought of everything when designing this level. It also introduces the series’ most iconic weapon (besides the Painkiller itself) the electrodriver but i was having too much fun using my stake gun that i completely forgot it was there.

Town

I always love these themes. This level reminds me of running through Stratholme back when i used to play World Of Warcraft only with less rat traps, where’s the rat traps!? Watch out for Leper Monks who throw corpses at you, they can also hit you when up close with an invisible magic attack.

Swamp

This guy will deal 50 damage on nightmare (forgot how much he does on trauma but makes very little differrence) His tentacles deal 50 damage each, this can total to 100 damage i.e one hit ko unless you have blessing/vitality. This battle is the reason why i used Vitality for this run because it’s a serious pain in the ♥♥♥ boss who can 1 shot you in the cheapest way possible. Oh and by the way the shining ball attack does 100 damage so if you’re not using tarot cards, it’s a one shot kill. To kill “Swamp Thing” (how original…) you have to shoot the bubbles next to him until he turns solid, then you shoot him until he turns into a liquid again. Then you have to shoot the bubbles around the map which shoot other bubbles. Try to shoot the bubbles when they’re near him to weaken him until he goes solid then finish him with your shotgun.

(Swamp Bloopers)

As you can see, I failed multiple attempts at this guy

Train Station

Next stop… the most infuriating level so far… I swear, this level is NEVER easy. Getting the tarot card is hell on this level as you cannot collect a single soul. Now if you see the enemy count, you’ll realize how punishing this level is. The secrets also become a pain to get to as well, so much so that i skipped them all. I also missed the one carriage secret and checked all the carriages making me feel like an idiot. Thankfully I’m not doing a tarot card run, if I was, this video would take hours to record.

Abandoned Factory

Now this is my kind of level, 100’s of enemies in large packs swarming at you with tonnes of explosives littered everywhere and an awesome metal theme playing in the background. That’s what Painkiller is all about and this level illustrates that very clearly. Time to put that rocket launcher to good use…

Sadly i missed every single secret because i was way too busy having fun blowing up skeleton soldiers. God why don’t they make FPS like this anymore?

Military Base

I had to record this twice so expect a few jump cuts.

Despite the seemingly limitless amount of ammo you will get throughout this level, it is considerably less chaotic than the last level. Yes there’s tanks and mortars to watch out for but for the most part the enemy waves are a lot easier to manage. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable level but with a lot of recycled enemies you’ll have fought plenty of in the last level which might get a bit anemic.

In theory you would think this level to be a chaingun level but it felt more of a shotgun level for the most part (mainly due to those Maso Commando’s). Thankfully, Military Base combines both interior and exterior areas giving it a little more variety than the other two levels, tanks included. It just takes forever to get through which can get a little tedious.

Ruins

The Guardian does more damage to the actual level than he does to you, filling the level with debris blocking your path making it difficult to move around. His weakpoint is his massive hammer but afterwards pretty much anything goes. So long as you stay back and can weave your way through the wreckage, this boss will be a breeze. His only attacks are melee (though his hammer attacks can shake the ground so you have to be jumping to avoid them but that’s what bunnyhopping is for) so he’s pretty easy to avoid, the difficulty of the battle is moving through all the rubble. Put simply, if it wasn’t a ruins before, it’ll definitely be a ruins when this guy is done.

Castle

This level was a tad disappointing, I imagined it would be bigger but it wasn’t what I quite had in mind. Perhaps I’ve played too many fantasy games. Thankfully Painkiller Overdose’s Haunted Valley has a much bigger castle, in fact the entire level is 3x the size of this one. Probably one of the few things Mindware improved on.

In any case I forgot to cut this video and to be honest I fail so much that there is little point in hiding it. This level is a breather level for the most part. With the exception of the dogs and the annoying kleer-like enemies, the enemies for the most part are quite easy tbh. I show all the holy items required to get the tarot card.

The Palace

As much as i love this level which i really do, the platforming sections never cease to annoy me every time. I skipped the super health because not only was it near pointless for me to get it (as i already had super health) but it would have taken hours to get it. To get it, you have to use the yellow ladder and jump round to one of the balconies and then you have to pray and jump onto the pillar. This level introduces a lot of new enemies including the ever annoying templars, be sure to take them out first or they’ll ruin your day.

Babel

This is quite possibly the hardest level in the entire game overall. Sure Factory on Trauma can get quite tough simply due to the sheer ton of enemies as is Forest if you count the tarot card condition but Babel without Tarot cards is simply put insane on Trauma. Thankfully there are a few cheap tricks you can pull off to avoid those damn templar barrages such as covering behind pillars and you can use Tarot cards which possibly makes it slightly easier than the next level but still the enemies of the next level are weak, if a tad annoying. In any case this and the next level are arguably the toughest levels in the game overall, this being tougher overall since it’s hard on every run be it Trauma or Nightmare, though considerably more easier on Nightmare if you’re not doing a no gold tarot run like i am.

Forest

Lots and lots of enemies… and they’re all weak, surely this must be easy… unless you’re going for the final tarot card. Doing so is pointless unless you’re a completionist but to do so you cannot use ANY tarot cards, not even Vitality (which i am using) so i make this level look a little easier than it actually is as you are stuck with 100 health and have to survive against the massive clusters of weak enemies. quantity over quality comes to mind here to pull out the rocket launcher and go crazy, try not to blow yourself up though.

Oh and by the way in case you are wondering, this level is only accessible via Trauma. If you’re playing on Nightmare difficulty or lower you will skip straight to the final boss… only the game isn’t over for you yet for you. Essentially this is the penultimate level of the game if you choose to brave through the Trauma difficulty.

Tower (Nightmare Difficulty)

Alastor is the final boss of the game (unless you’re playing on Nightmare difficulty) and he is no pushover. I’d say he’s easily one of the most overlooked boss fights in a FPS i’ve ever fought. The hard part of the battle is the fall damage you receive in between sections and dodging his attacks can be a nightmare with all the debris spread out all over.

Alastor has 4 phases, the first phase he will pop out and attack you from the air, he is really weak in this phase but you have to watch out for the falling rain of fire. His second phase gives you an armor and a super health. IF YOU ARE PLAYING NIGHTMARE/TRAUMA, ARE NOT USING GOLD TAROT CARDS AND DO NOT PICK THIS UP, YOU’RE DEAD.

(The following levels are inaccessible on Trauma difficulty)

City On Water

Chapter 5’s levels consist of mostly water themed environments so you’ll want to be careful not to accidentally fall in as Daniel can’t swim. On the other hand the water can prove to be quite amusing as you can push enemies in and watch them drown. City On Water is no exception and it’s very easy to fall in when you’re bunny hopping everywhere.

This level has wonderful architecture, very much like Venice except there is a deep red aura in the sky which possibly symbolizes that the gates of hell are very close by. All i can say is, god must really hate Venice. In any case, it’s concepts like this which keep this game fresh and exciting.

This level has some of the most annoying secrets to get, i show all the easy ones but the hard ones are a pain to get…

Oh and I killed one of the enemies with a weapon normally unavailable in Painkiller’s base game simply because it’s a pain to hit but you’re supposed to use the chaingun.

Docks

Another water themed level, unlike the previous level however there is plenty of space for you to move around, this convenience is soon thrown out of the water when you encounter the well armed enemies this level throws at you (see what i did there?).

This is probably the toughest level on Nightmare difficulty. Babel being the hardest overall, especially if you choose to use tarot cards on Trauma. The enemies have nail guns and even rocket launchers here, so you will have to outgun them before they get nasty.

There are also a hell of a lot of secrets here with platforming to boot making this an interesting level as there are multiple routes to take depending on your platforming skill. The easy path allows you to completely skip an arena should you wish to, the hard path which yields you holy items at the cost of ones time gives you another area you must get through. I skip a lot of the platforming due to time constraints and there are a lot of cut points in this video.

Old Monastery

Time to meet some familiar faces… but this time they have a few tricks up their sleeves. This level is quite unique as it is a collect-a-thon level, your goal is to collect all the pentagrams to open the gates of hell (The gates of hell located in a monestary? Oh the irony) and there are multiple routes to take (though one pentagram requires collecting another to access it and if you choose the long route, you have to save it for last). There’s quite a lot of platforming here. There is also a lot of water but it’s thankfully shallow. I will show you the quickest and most straightforward path to take but if you want to get the pentagrams in a different order, have fun wasting time. Do note that the one in the small building with the bell is only accessed after grabbing the pentagram on the hill (the one the game intends you to go for first).

If you want to take the alternate route for whatever reason, go into the water, jump through the stalagmites in the middle until you reach the other side, there is a rock here that you could theoretically jump over to reach the other side but you can’t instead you have to go in the water and jump up the rock face, you’ll know you’re in the final room when you see a giant maw and a pentagram symbol etched in a rock with a bunch of rock columns used as a path down to the final area, jump up the rocks and you’ll eventually be in the penultimate arena and encounter enemies. After that there is a gap to jump over which is hard to jump over from this side but if you jump up the edge of the wall, you can cross that gap and you’re free to explore the rest of the level… backwards. Of course once you get all the pentagrams inside, the door to the monastery will still be locked so you will have to go all the way back to the beginning of the level the way you came to collect the other pentagrams and then jump back into the water to the final area and finish the level. Then you can question yourself on why you bothered with this needlessly complicated route.

Hell

War. war never changes… especially when it’s frozen in time.

Honestly this level feels like a war museum… only with endless waves of demon souls who all want you dead. An interesting take on Hell. Easily my favorite level in the game. I love how the ambiance changes from demonic chants, to clashing swords, to WW1 comm chatter (shamelessly ripped from military base) and finally the sound everyone fears…

Lucifer is basically a puzzle boss, he’s practically invincible but he’s pretty easy when you figure out how to kill him, if you don’t you might spend a while wondering what to do. Lucifer will attack you with his sword and will sent meteorites at you. To beat him you have to shoot your morph shots at the meteors to stun him after he is stunned he will throw his sword, a single morph shot at this sword kills him instantly.

After he’s dead, have fun exploring the now hostile-free hell… or you can just watch the video the whole way through.

Tower (Trauma Difficulty)

When you beat hell (the final level of the game) you unlock Trauma difficulty. This requires you to play chapters 1 – 4 again but with tougher enemies and no souls to heal you. This is the REAL final boss of the game and this time, he means business!

This boss is near impossible without tarot cards, I’ve tried and tested, the final fall deals 135 damage (possibly more) on Trauma, even with the super health which gives you 100 extra health after the first fall isn’t enough. My new set up is Vitality and Last Stand, last stand gives you 33 life after death. This way I can make the fight more enjoyable to watch than just gunning him down with iron will abuse. In any case, the battle is exactly the same as last time, only harder, Alastor has much more health than he does on Nightmare and he loves to breath fire, you want to stick close to him with your shotgun to prevent that from happening.

If you want to beat him without tarot cards at all, you will have to get lucky and land on the pillars to minimize fall damage.

Bonus:

Out Of Snowy Bridge

Train Station (Hell And Damnation Xmas DLC)

Multiplayer

Just a sneak peek at the multiplayer experience of Painkiller. It was cut short because the other player disconnected.

 

What a rip off…

 

Why do people in this day in age seem to treat the term “rip off” so negatively? I mean it’s not like I’m Jim Sterling number #356 trying to knock game publishers in the name of consumer justice… right? Right?

rip off

No, not that kind of rip off…

Ok, ok before people start throwing apples at me, let’s try to be rational about this. Jim Sterling himself is a rip off. I mean, we’re talking journalism here, In journalism you have the “yes” men and the “no fucking way” men (or women). Yes men pander to the publishers and just do as they are expected to do such as Geoff Keighley.

Why is Geoff Keighley such a successful journalist? Because he is a yes man. If he spoke out about certain publishers (lets forget the time he talked shit about Konami’s treatment of Kojima for a minute which considering Konami’s position, isn’t likely to affect him in any way, especially considering how diplomatically he put it) then he’d have nothing to cover and would lose a lot of his influence in the industry.

Then you have people like Jim Sterling, the “people’s journalist”, someone whom tries to relate to the woes of the general public at the risk of sounding controversial or radicalized. He’s a journalist who speaks his mind whatever it might be and although his points aren’t always widely agreed upon (seriously that review of Modern Warfare 3 was just…ugh), he manages to maintain a strong stature in the industry through his iron skin and his past accomplishments. His successes come from pandering to the consumer by enlightening people about the woes of the gaming industry and he does so in what seems to be an intentionally egotistical manner with quotes such as “Thank god for me”. It’s pretty obvious that Jim Sterling’s confidence in himself as a journalist is off the charts and that’s why he’s still going strong today.

But trying to be an inbetweener is futile. The industry doesn’t want original writers/journalists, they want people who can pander to a particular crowd and as such, they want extremists. Whether you want to be the ever lovable optimist or the strong idealistic pessimist is the question you should be asking yourself, you can’t be both and expect the same level of success because that’s inconsistent and inconsistency is poor journalism.

But lets stop talking about gaming media for now as I tire of hearing about it every single day. I already have the stupid SJW vs Gamergate breathing down my neck every day that the mere idea of discussing gaming politics is downright terrifying to say the least. Thankfully This article is more to do with videogames than writers, I was merely comparing myself to an established journalist.

2015-07-13_00001

No… not that kind of rip off either

So I’ve used the term rip off before, even blatant rip off. However, would I say that being a rip off is a bad thing? Hell no. In fact I want to see more of it.

Videogames have been a passion for me, so why can’t they be a passion for game creators too? I mean surely you’ve been inspired by a videogame in your lifetime, I know I have. I wanted to work in-game design for a long time in my youth and for good reason too. Games are inspiring. If you’ve ever finished a videogame, you’ll know that as the credits roll, your mind is filled to the brim with ideas. Rather than watching the credits, you spend the whole time thinking about the game and developing ideas from it.

2014-05-04_00005

Games like Space Engineers help satisfy my creative cravings.

With games as they are, it’s difficult not to think “What if they did it this way?” or “I wonder If I could do that?”. Inspiration goes beyond just videogames. Look at the recently deceased David Bowie for example (R.I.P man). That guy inspired countless people and has changed the way society works for the better. He was a revolutionary artist and people wanted to be like him. That is just the way things are with gaming too.

As such, how can we begrudge these people who want to bring their dreams to life? Their dreams based off of the dreams inspired through other dreams? Is it really wrong to think “Perhaps if I changed this a little, it could be like this”? I mean, if you are any kind of content creator, you will know that art breeds more art. It’s like a reproductory process. It’s like two ideas having intercourse. It is done out of passion (mostly) and it’s the same with games and other media.

So why should people have a problem with this? Because if you do have a problem with concepts ripping off of other concepts then take a good look at yourself because you yourself are a rip off, a mish-mash of genes from past ancestors. However you yourself are an individual. The same goes for videogames. Do I begrudge Warcraft 3 for being too much like Star Wars/Warhammer? Hell no. I love Warcraft lore (well I did before WOW was a thing), it is a well presented mish mash of countless stories told in a single book… only that the “Book” is technically a videogame.

war3 2015-05-20 17-35-59-29

And before someone states “but this game is original, not like your crappy Warcraft game”, how do you know for sure that it isn’t based off of other media? Have you experienced everything life has to offer? Ha, you don’t live long enough for that I’m afraid. We can’t all be like Lezard Valeth and have the world’s knowledge in our hands… oh wait isn’t that character another rip off? Oh hell yeah he is and a well-known one too. He’s based off of JK Rowling’s very own Harry Potter (but with a bit of Medivh shoehorned in there too for good measure). And yet comparing Lezard Valeth to Harry Potter is like comparing a snail to a python. There’s just no similarities besides their appearance and their background.

And whilst we’re on the topic of Valkyrie Profile, lets talk about Arngrim. This character in particular is interesting and his name manages to remain relevant to norse mythology despite being a blatant rip off of Guts from Berserk. I mean, Arngrim is a badass mofo and so is Guts and they both have similar looks and personality. However if you look deeply into norse mythology, you will see a mention of another Arngrim with a similar background to the Arngrim of Valkyrie Profile, a berserker who wielded the sword Tyrfing (technically the ultimate heavy warrior weapon of Valkyrie Profile 2).

valkyrie profile 211

However, the original story of Valkyrie Profile states that he owns a weapon called the Dragon Slayer which was apparently passed down by his father. This makes for a lot of interesting speculation such as “Is the world of Valkyrie Profile and Berserk intertwined?” Of course not, it’s just combining the ideas of berserk and norse mythology to make a character of their own. Though it’s pretty obvious where Masaki Norimoto’s inspiration’s came from

Speaking of Valkyrie Profile, Let’s talk about Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns, a game that I have secretly praised for ripping off Valkyrie Profile. However that praise still cannot get me over the fact that Lightning is the main character and that it is set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII. And so the director of Final Fantasy XIII thought “Let’s sacrifice originality for familiarity” and believe it or not, it worked… to some degree. However, Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns was an attempt to rectify an already broken series of games which should have been left behind. This I couldn’t ignore.

exist archive

However, with the release of tri-Ace’s Exist Archive. Tri-Ace were able to experiment with different ideas to make a completely different game. Valkyrie Profile was obviously partly an influence but it seems that other Japanese media had a huge influence in it as well and is probably the most exotic game tri-Ace has ever attempted at making. Nevertheless I’d rather play this game over Final Fantasy XIII Lightning Returns not because it’s original but because it’s not trying to shove an established concept into an already established world to try to compensate for the fact that the world itself sucks. As such, Lightning Returns is completely meaningless to me now.

Another example of a game that influenced many other games is Grandia 2. Grandia 2’s plot has been done to death now, so much so that its own plot comes across as cliché and generic. Games like Final Fantasy X, Tales Of Symphonia and Devil May Cry 4 may follow a similar plot formula but can we really say that they’re the same game? Devil May Cry 4 isn’t even an RPG for heaven’s sake, how can you compare it to Grandia 2? Then again, perhaps it’s not intentional. Perhaps the ideas that came up in the developer’s mind were of his own. Perhaps they never even played Grandia 2 to begin with, who knows?

Grandia 2 fixed image 3

As for Tales Of Symphonia, that game took a step further in the plot. Although Grandia 2 executed it far better than Tales Of Symphonia, Tales Of Symphonia chose to rush that part of the plot so that they could focus on another one. As for Final Fantasy X, looking back, I’d say it’s probably the most generic of the bunch. To be honest, presentation aside. Final Fantasy X felt rushed, I felt the characters were rushed too. As for the presentation, the setting was cool and all but the story itself was presented in such a lazy manner compared with Grandia 2 that it felt like a bad rip off.

On the other hand, Tales Of Symphonia was a good rip off. It established a completely new story built up off of a trope set by Grandia 2 (or whatever game originally started that trope) which was executed extremely well as there is also a lot of depth to the world and lore. This is what I appreciated about Warcraft so much. Sure, the plot and characters may be generic but the world was designed so well that it doesn’t matter, I enjoyed it. It doesn’t hurt to enjoy games every now and again, even for a cynical prick like me.

2015-07-02_00060

As for Devil May Cry 4, that game wasn’t even trying to tell an interesting story, it’s a series which has always been based around the gameplay over all else, so why should we care? The story works well enough for what it’s trying to do so that’s good enough if you ask me.

Now ever since the indie scene came to be, there have been some new ideas added to gaming such as Rocket League… oh wait, that was inspired by stuff like Top Gear. Uhh… how about Goat Simulator? Yeah, Goat Simulator is the perfect example of an original game… if you could call it that. Sure it has similar mechanics to Tony Hawk games but it’s not a Tony Hawk game, it’s a physics simulation game involving goats. Well technically speaking, it is kinda a mish-mash of other game mechanics such as skating games and MMO’s. Kinda like a parody. In a way, this makes it a completely original concept… using other concepts. Well that basically sums up how difficult it is to be original these days.

2014-07-12_00008

But here’s the problem. People don’t want something new or different, they want more of the same. This is where Nostalgia comes in… and actually connects with the point of this article entirely. As much as people love originality, once the novelty dies out, people get tired of it and then they seek something that can bring them back to the days of old. However sometimes it’s not the player who desires it, it’s the developer. This is why you’re seeing so many spiritual successors of games appearing on Kickstarter right now. They want to bring back an audience of a game that was laid to rest or defiled by their respective developer.

Now remember the review I made recently of Tales Of Phantasia and how it pioneered the Japanese action role playing game? Well that game not only inspired other ideas for games but it was also inspired by other games that preceded it such as Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy. Didn’t you get the not-so-vague hint in my review?

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]036

Well in any case, the spiritual successor to Tales Of Phantasia, Star Ocean is also a blatant rip off… just not of Secret Of Mana. Rather they combined both Tales Of Phantasia’s battle system with the story concept of Star Trek. Then it hit me, the reason why the intro cutscene to Star Ocean is voice acted in english, despite the fact that it is a Super Famicom exclusive game is simply because Star Trek was released in the west… and they wanted to emulate that.

I like the word emulate, even better than that of rip off simply because of its meaning “to imitate and or improve on”. This is exactly what developers try to do with their games. They brainstorm ideas from their mind (which is influenced by other media) and then they focus on making it the best they can. Every developer in the history of gaming has always developed a game with the mindset that it will be the best game ever made.

So before you start knocking games or any form of media for ripping off of other media. Remember that it is someone else’s image that has taken inspiration from something else. Be pleased for the games that rip off other games, do not scorn them. Instead, think of it as a form of alchemical art because that is what it is. People may disagree that videogames are art (which could be said for some… but then again games are a content medium and all content could be considered art in a way) but I find art to be the most fitting word to describe this as it is something all of us can relate to and appreciate.

If you want to see less and less games on the market, go ahead but know that 99% of the ideas in videogames are inspired by other forms of media or mythology or whatever. Just appreciate it for what it is for heaven’s sake.

Tales Of Phantasia Review

Tales of Phantasia (J) [!]000

Well this is a long time coming, I finished the game ages ago but I was too bummed out to do a review afterwards. In case you’re curious, I played the Dejap SFC version and believe me, its the best translation.

Playing Tales Of Phantasia has been an experience without a doubt, an experience that has taught me many things about RPGs and tri-Ace alike. I would consider this game a must play for any
Tales or tri-Ace fan but with that said, the experience you get from this game may be mixed. I will enlighten some of these points in my review.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]079

For starters, lets look at the premise of Tales Of Phantasia or should I say, the story. Tales Of Phantasia is a very ambitious storyline which suffers from archaic plot devices with lackluster execution but offers a somewhat interesting twist to the usual JRPG romp by establishing a somewhat interesting universe which could have been more than it turned out to be.

Though this just happens to be a continuation from Tales Of Symphonia Dawn Of The New World timeline wise, it feels kinda more like a prelude to what could have been an epic series. In fact it hit me the moment when I reached the city on the eastern continent and viewed that scene. I knew what I saw in that scene and what I saw was tri-Ace as they are now. It would seem that the Wolf Team were planning something big with Tales Of Phantasia, a whole series continuing the timeline and unfolding an epic universe with potentially an epic storyline… but instead we got a prequel which felt a bit too similar to Tales Of Phantasia, moreso a massive nod to the series, similar to what Star Ocean 4 did to Star Ocean 1.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]001

There are so many things you hear about in Tales Of Phantasia and it makes you want to learn more but the game’s plot felt half-baked. I honestly feel like we were playing only half a game… or maybe they were trying to build up a sequel… wait they did make a sequel, well sorta. It’s my favourite game of all time (well the second one at least). It all made sense now. tri-Ace pulled an Exist Archive on Tales Of Phantasia but they split it into two games. Those games being Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile, these were tri-Aces legacy but Tales Of Phantasia is where it all began.

Though technically a Namco game by right, this was a tri-Ace game by heart. You could tell this was a tri-Ace game with the whole long/short-range attacks and the fact that the entire interface and style mimics Star Ocean. This game was the foundation for all the tri-Ace games we have grown to love but not only that, it was the foundation to pretty much all JARPG’s (unless you count Secret Of Mana which was similar but very different and ultimately felt more like a Final Fantasy game than anything). Pretty much every action JRPG is built on this game’s foundation as such it’s the pioneer of the Japanese ARPG genre.

So Tales Of Phantasia has a lot of acclaim under its belt but what does it do to earn this praise? Well I can’t speak as a gamer of today but if we transport ourselves back to the early 90’s where the only ARPG’s around were Secret Of Mana and the Soul Blazer series (which were more like action puzzlers if you ask me), Tales Of Phantasia really stood out for its style. It was the first ARPG which didn’t feel like a Squaresoft game or a Zelda game. It instead opted to be different from the competitors in order to attract attention. If we look at gaming today, we can see that Tales Of Phantasia has outlived them in terms of its legacy.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]074

I don’t want to go in too deep with the story but I will say that it’s one of those stories you’ve likely seen before in some form but you probably won’t see it quite like this. Think Grandia 2 when I say this, only a lot more primitive. This game has a charm to it that separates itself from the other games of its time, something only tri-Ace could do. In fact, this game doesn’t really feel much like a Tales game at all, there aren’t any skits or anything you would consider to be “Tales”, if anything it felt more like Chrono Trigger/Secret Of Mana combined into one. This game has everything you would expect from a JRPG released in the early 90’s.

One of the things that took my interest immediately was the opening music. Whilst it wasn’t dubbed in english (unlike the strange intro of Star Ocean) it was pretty incredible to hear vocalized music coming out of a SFC game, something many games have adopted these days. While I’m not much of a fan of JPOP, I have to credit them for making this possible on such a dated system, there’s just something mysteriously alluring about hearing the primitive voice recordings on an SFC. It felt less of a Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest clone and more of a unique anime-like style RPG whilst not forgetting the preceding RPG games as it is quite clearly inspired by such games.

This looks awfully familiar... Well I suppose every mana tree has it's secrets.

This looks awfully familiar… Well I suppose every mana tree has it’s secrets.

To be honest, to call this game the core of every JRPG I love wouldn’t be too far off, though there would be a few exceptions, Tales Of Phantasia is the game that established many of the games I love today and as such, it earns my respect regardless.

As for playing the game yourself, if you go into this game with a more modern mindset, you’ll probably find yourself getting bored with all the currently archaic elements this game has and whilst this is true for pretty much all games released in the 90’s, this game sticks out like a saw thumb in the archaic department.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]006

Being the pioneer of the many games I love, it’s unsurprising that this game is so primitive. The characters line up in battle which causes movement issues, since your movement is restricted constantly. Tales Of Phantasia, like many early Japanese ARPG’s feels like a stunlock fest but it’s definitely a good one. However with this said, it can also prove to be bothersome as the movement issues tend to give you some trouble in boss fights. However the main thing to be concerned here is not the comboing, blocking or dodging like in most ARPG’s these days but with picking the best attacks for the job.

Comparing it to Star Ocean on the SFC, the combat is very different as it focuses more of elemental attacks and conventional JRPG strategy whereas Star Ocean is more about positioning yourself and picking the right attack string for the situation as you can manually move anywhere (though not directly with the d-pad, rather you control a cursor which position’s you). However the premise is very similar. You have special attacks and regular attacks at both long/short-range and whilst regular attacks have a bit more focus in this game, they don’t really amount too much.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]009

I was a bit peeved that the only character worth controlling was Cless and as much as you basically have to control pretty much everyone manually (due to some AI issues), you don’t really feel like you can play with different styles unlike Star Ocean which was a shame. Cless is pretty versatile though and has a lot of cool moves and different weapons but Chester… he’s kinda useless and boring, the rest of the cast are all… you guessed it, casters. This was fixed in later versions where they added a new character to balance things out.

There are quite a few side quests about, I didn’t bother with many of them though but some of them are pretty interesting and just enhance the game’s story more as well as the game’s world. If I could devote more time to this game, I might have done so but I tend to rush through most game’s these days.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]072

The visuals, whilst not as lush as Star Ocean’s are still rather nice, typical SNES stuff mostly, if you’ve played Seiken Densetsu 3 you’ll probably be in familiar territory here though I personally find Seiken Densetsu 3 to look better from what I’ve played (in fact that game looks more like Star Ocean to me). Still the good ol’ fashioned 16 bit top down world map never gets old.

The music was obviously composed by Motoi Sakuraba, who else would it be? Mickey Mouse? I mean, this is the game that pioneered practically 80% of games he composed for (basically everything except Golden Sun and Dark Souls). His soundtrack in this, whilst not completely as memorable as Star Ocean’s has some quirky ones to say the least. To say that this was the first soundtrack he ever did for a Japanese ARPG, it’s pretty unique and somewhat captivatingly magical… but not on the same level of Valkyrie Profile 2 of course.

However one song that really stuck out to me was the piano solo which was played at the adventurers guild which was played by none other than Motoi Sakuraba himself. He is actually a character in the game. That pretty much sums up just how important this game is to not only me, not only the fans but also the creators themselves. This is the game where Motoi Sakuraba made his mark and he is immortalized in this game for a reason.

Now that's my kinda music right there...

Now that’s my kinda music right there…

This game was developed out of passion and though it may be a series that has moved on since, it’s hard to consider Tales Of Phantasia to be a Tales game, it doesn’t belong to Namco, it belongs to no one because if tri-Ace can’t have it, no one can and whilst Namco themselves might disagree, they’ve yet to prove that they are worthy of owning the rights to this game because as it stands, this game is not only the centerpiece for the Tales series, it is the centerpiece for tri-Ace and practically every single game Motoi Sakuraba has ever composed for.

So whilst this may not be much of a review, let it be understood that whether you like this game or not, I urge you to play it just to experience it yourself if you consider yourself to be a fan of Tales, tri-Ace, tri-Crescendo and pretty much any Japanese ARPG in general. As for whether you enjoy it or not depends on your standards, if you really dislike archaic games, you probably won’t enjoy this, however if you’re open to these kind of games or are new to the genre, you might appreciate it more.

Tales of Phantasia (J) [T+Eng1.2UpCase_DeJap]037

Ultimately though, it is what it is and nothing can change that. At least I can safely say that this game has a lot of unique charm that is a nice change from most 16 bit JRPGs but to compare it with Star Ocean, I’m afraid I’ll have to give it to Star Ocean to be honest as that game tried a lot of cool new concepts whereas Tales Of Destiny focused on expanding current concepts.

Then again that basically sums up the difference between tri-Ace and Namco’s Tales team as developers, tri-Ace aim to innovate and tinker with new ideas, Namco aim to expand on current ideas to refine them to the best they can be. Regardless this game is the centerpiece of it all and it’s wonderful to see just how much it managed to accomplish in the long run, despite it’s shortcomings.

Who is the mysterious man of mystery? Which mysterious man of mystery is the real mysterious man of mystery? Or is that just another mystery?

Who is the mysterious man of mystery? Which mysterious man of mystery is the real mysterious man of mystery? Or is that just another mystery?

In general, Tales Of Phantasia is a good game but it hasn’t aged well. The archaic combat system of this game is unacceptable to today’s standards but if you’re just looking to re-live some of the series’ history or are wanting to see where many of the best ARPG’s began, you might want to give this a go, it’s definitely a worthwhile experience.
——————————
Story/Plot: Decent
Presentation: Good
Gameplay: So-So
Music: Great
Lifespan: Decent length
Would you replay? No
——————————

Overall: Satisfactory

——————————

Value: £25.00