Responding to My Sunshine Blogger Award

I’ll admit that I had thought that I had already been nominated for this- but apparently, there are two ‘Sunshine’ awards going around!  Either way, I’m super flattered that Rob over at I Played the Game! tossed one of these my way, as I haven’t followed his blog for a terribly long time but the more I read, the more I find myself both relating and coming back for more of his work.  I highly recommend checking out what he has to offer over that way.

As with most of these types of awards, the rules follow a pretty straightforward:

  • Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.  (Done, and once again, I suggest you check out his work!)
  • Answer the questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Before I go on with this, I want to ‘philosophize’ just a bit over why I love peer recognition awards like the one I’m embarking on.  For one, it gives folks who have just recently started a regular routine of reading blogs a few new avenues to check out to look into folks that they can communicate with about their interests and passions.  On another angle, it lets you get to know people, even if it’s on a passing and sometimes comical level.

Okay, that could just be me, but maybe you have strange interests like ‘finding out about people’ like I do!

Anyway- on with the show!
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Atelier Series Overview – Part 1 – The Arland Trilogy

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A Brief History of the Atelier Series


If you count yourself among those that find JRPGs interesting, you very well may have heard of the Atelier series.  Established in Japan with the original title, Atelier Marie: Alchemist of Salburg, the series has just recently reached its nineteenth entry with Atelier Lydie and Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings.  While the early entries of the series didn’t make it over to US shores, the majority of the series has found localization in on our shores.

In 2005, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana on the Playstation 2 was placed in the hands of NIS America and since then, each entry of the series on home consoles has been translated and made available across various regions.  While the gameplay and format have changed and evolved throughout the series, the central concept remains the same.

Playing as an ‘alchemist’- someone who engages in the practice of acquiring and combining items to create other items with the magical process of ‘alchemy’- you are faced with an objective that requires you to expand upon your abilities to be met.  As the game progresses, more recipes for items are unlocked, as well as locales to acquire items that are rarer or of better quality. Nearly all of the items your party will use are created through these items- healing items, offensive items, weapons, armor; all of it becomes the product of items that you collect throughout your adventure.  Each game has a different twist on this and later entries find deeper methods of alchemy to give the player more customization in their creations, but at its base, this concept is what the Atelier series revolves around.

Throughout this overview, I’ll be explaining each grouping of games in the Atelier series.  Much like the Fire Emblem overview I’ve been working on, there may be some glances of opinion and theory here and there, but for the most part, this is meant to be informational for those interested in learning about the Atelier series or possibly for those already familiar with the series who would like to take a trip down memory lane.

Whatever your reasons may be, I hope you enjoy this look at the Atelier series overall.  As usual, please be aware that I make an effort not to spoil anything plot related that you wouldn’t read within the packaging of the game, but there is the occasional slip so if you want to avoid spoilers, you’ve been warned that they may exist here however minor.  If you have any comments to add, questions to ask, or just want to discuss the games in each entry, feel free to leave a comment.

In this first entry, I’ll be writing about the Arland trilogy, comprised of Atelier Rorona, Atelier Totori, and Atelier Meruru.  While not the first games to be localized, they appeared to be the first that many had heard of the series.  As some of the more easily obtainable entries to the series, they seem like the best jumping off point to explore the series from!
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Bringing Up the Average – PC – Final Exam – 2013

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Final Exam
PC
Mighty Rocket Studios/Focus Home Entertainment
2013
Genre: Action Platformer

Much like the most prolific horror series’ have, some games need reboots.  Castlevania saw one with Lords of Shadow in 2010, as did Silent Hill when 2009 brought us Shattered Memories.  On a less established scale, under-the-radar horror franchise, ObsCure, found itself requiring a reboot after Hydravision, the original developer of the series, had announced that it had closed its doors in 2012.  Shortly after, they corrected that they were rebranding as Mighty Rocket Studios.

Having marginal success with the ObsCure series and a few other games as Hydravision, the company decided to go in a different direction with the series by establishing Final Exam.  While there had been rumor that a third ObsCure game was in the pipeline, the game that was talked about and the game that Final Exam turned out to be were pretty different and initial reviews of Final Exam didn’t play well as the third game in the series (hence the unrelated title).

Given my mixed feelings between the first and second games in the ObsCure series, starting up Final Exam brought up some concerns: would I enjoy the game universe?  Would I just be mildly offended? Would I even finish if it followed in the second game’s footsteps?

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5 Moments I Fondly Recall in Games (That Others Might Not Necessarily)

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Off the top of my head, I can list a vast quantity of high profile gaming moments that everyone seems to have been affected by in their formative gaming years- Final Fantasy VI’s opera scene, the final battle with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, any occurrence beginning with ‘the death of’; there are so many definitive events that people remember because of their magnitude within their games’ worlds or how abruptly they sideswiped the player.  This doesn’t change their impact. Heck, I have one of those moments tattooed on my leg it had such relevance to me.

What people don’t always actively take into account is that there are so many smaller beats that meant a lot to gamers for a wide variety of reasons.  Video games are established to illicit some kind of emotion or reaction from those participating in what they have to offer. Even through the memories of Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger ripping at my heartstrings, I started to reflect on moments that stood out to me that may not stand out to the community at large and why they still remained so prominent in my retrospective eye.

So feel free to check out some of my personal remembrances of times past!  They may not be industry shattering, but they are definitely a glimpse into my gamer inner workings.
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Turn Away from The Darkness – Playstation Portable – ObsCure: The Aftermath – 2009

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ObsCure: The Aftermath
Playstation Portable
Hydravision Entertainment/Ignition Entertainment
2009
Genre: Survival Horror

There are certain things that a horror movie needs to be effective, especially in the slasher genre.  First, there needs to be a discernible villain or danger; something that will strike fear into the viewer when it appears or is referenced by the characters.  Having a group of characters who are, for the most part, relatable and likable helps you want to root for the ‘heroes’ to survive and triumph over their circumstances.  Atmosphere is another element that cannot be underestimated, whether it is terrifying because of a lack of familiarity or because it is a familiar setting that has been invaded.

Cobbling together a survival horror game is the same way.  In 2005, Hydravision Entertainment released a game by the name of ObsCure, which was heavily influenced by 1990s horror films like The Faculty.  It introduced co-op horror in an effective way and made for a fun experience (which you can read my review of here, if you like).  Like any decent horror movie, it left the door open for the potential sequel, even if just a crack.  In 2008, ObsCure: The Aftermath hit the shelves for the Playstation 2, Wii, and Windows.  The next year, it hit the Playstation Portable, and in just the past few years, it arrived on Steam.

While ObsCure was a delightful horror romp with a few flaws here and there, did ObsCure: The Aftermath manage to capture the same magic that it’s progenitor created?  Let me save you the trouble:

No.  No it did not.

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