August in Review

3pmegamanstyle

Hey folks! I’m a few days late, but it’s been a hectic beginning to September so I hope you’ll all forgive me.

So far as life is concerned, it’s mostly been work and trying to be social where I can. A lot of that involves gaming, which is nice, but I’ve also been working on getting back into reading. I’ve pretty much careened through the first book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, in an effort to read through some of his connected mythos. It’s been nice having a book reel me back in again, and I’m hoping the reading bug catches me this time around. There are a lot of great works out that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I also featured on a co-stream with my best friend, Sparkhive (who’s stream can be caught here!) and introduced her to the game, ObsCure (which I also reviewed here). It was a blast to not only collaborate with a good friend live and in front of a bunch of fun folks, but it reminded me that I enjoyed streaming when I could for the most part before. It may be something I look into doing every so often once I have an apartment or a place to live where I can do it in peace.

Gaming itself has also been pretty erratic, though I’ve tended toward the spooky over the past month. I managed my way through the original Fatal Frame and have started up with Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. I’ve also worked through three or four run-throughs of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, Supermassive’s follow-up effort to one of my favorite games, Until Dawn, which I’ll have some impressions of up on here shortly for. My co-op playthrough of Dead Rising 2 is coming to a close soon, too. Not to be outdone, though, my Switch has gotten quite a bit of playtime with a second run-through in Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered release a few days ago.

Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a gamer!

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Reviews and Posts

Keeping on my horror slant, most of the games I wrote about this month had some hand in the macabre. Exploring Castlevania 64 after all of these years was a fun romp into one of my favorite series, even if the experience is a bit lacking. The original Dead Rising left the same kind of taste but as the origin point of the series, it kind of makes sense that there were some bumps in the road. Surprisingly, DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark was a solid sequel that followed the original DreadOut (review) faithfully and kept most of what worked so well in the original.

The one deviation was A Boy and His Blob which I had wanted to revisit since I first owned it on the NES years ago. It’s an interesting little title that’s worth a peek and has made me interested in the remake that came out on the Wii some time ago.

Castlevania (N64)
Dead Rising (360)
A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia (NES)
DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark (PC)

The only editorial piece I did this month came from the “Adventures in Collecting” series I’ve attempted to keep up- though this one was a bit of a warning to budding collectors more than anything. From my advice pile to you: “make sure you read the fine print”.

(Mis)Adventures in Collecting – Fire Emblem

Looking Ahead

Aside from write-ups on Fatal Frame and some impression on Man of Medan, I’m hoping to continue on with my Dead Rising write-ups and finally put the finishing touches on my overview of Left 4 Dead. I have a few other games that I’m looking forward to but I hesitate to chat about which ones I’ll actually get to jot my impressions of down in here before the end of the month. It’s actually feeling like there might be quite a few editorial pieces upcoming for some reason.

Really, the sky’s the limit and I’m not totally sure what will be coming up in the blog for September- especially since we’re heading into the Halloween season, my favorite season of all. If my gaming habits are any indication, though, you’ll be seeing some fun horror and RPG titles over the next few weeks.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic start to your month- and I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading, watching, gaming, or just generally doing that you’d like to share!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

(Mis)Adventures in Collecting – Fire Emblem

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It’s been a little while since I wrote anything about collecting. It’s not that I’ve stopped necessarily. In fact, I have plenty of material to share but my methods of collecting aren’t super interesting on the whole. I’ve had a few lucky finds nearby or wound up with some neat stuff by searching around on the usual websites. For me, it’s more about what I find over how.

There are dangers with every hobby, however, and game collecting has a metric ton of pitfalls to run into while trying to curate certain pieces at a quality one might like. There are questionable descriptions on eBay and Amazon, for example. Your version of “very good” might not be exactly what the person selling to you believes it to be. You may find that perfect listing for a complete-in-box copy of the game you were looking for- until you read the fine print that says “manual only”. Found a copy of some old Playstation game at your local thrift shop? You had better make sure to check the back of the disc unless you want to take the risk that it looks fresh off of a sanding belt.

My point is that there needs to be some attention to detail once you hit a point where you aren’t just generally collecting whatever you can find. As I’ve shown with some of my Atelier posts in the past, it can certainly be as simple as finding a copy of Mana Khemia when you dip into a retro store while on a day trip or hunting down a copy of the Premium Box of Atelier Rorona on Amazon to snatch up. All of my adventures collecting for the Atelier series have been pretty painless.

In contrast, collecting for Fire Emblem has been a nightmare.

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Of course, I’m being a little hyperbolic here, but I’ve run into more difficulties trying to buff up my collection of the Nintendo property than I have all of my other online purchases combined. Everything from outright cancellations for no reason to being sent a tablet meant for someone else while my product was missing in action and even issues involving a monsoon (which is clearly understandable but unfortunate nonetheless). A few months ago, though, I found someone selling a copy of Fire Emblem for the Gameboy Advance at a fairly reasonable price. I took a quick look at the pictures and clicked to buy it immediately. I was going to manifest my good luck into this purchase. I kept looking at the tracking number over the next couple of weeks and it arrived a day or two early, to my excitement.

I opened the parcel, and the game’s box was a little beaten up- but I had seen that in the pictures. I pulled open the top of the box and slid the cartridge out. It looked a little strange- but I had seen that in the pictures. There was no manual, which I had known, so while I decided on how I was going to tackle finding that, I looked at the back of the box.

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My face flushed. I felt my head shaking as I let out a deep sigh. Despite the boasts of this being a 100% authentic copy of the product, the packaging read like a mistranslated mess that was just a basic description of the game mechanics. After taking a moment to reconcile with the fact that this was another issue with my Fire Emblem collecting, I went back to look over the listing I had followed on eBay.

Even in the pictures, I could tell where I had gone wrong. Everything was as I had received, hackneyed translation and all. I had left a ‘Neutral’ rating for the transaction- everything was as shown in the ad and the product arrived on time but the game was certainly not an authentic Nintendo product. Like any great social media interaction, the seller immediately contacted me to change the feedback. I tried explaining myself and received a response still telling me that I was wrong- until I wrote out the description on the back of the box. Mind that I hadn’t even asked for my money back. Sure, I was entitled to it but the hassle felt like it wasn’t worth it and really, I just wanted people to know that this was not a legitimate claim. The seller immediately dropped the argument, apologizing for my dissatisfaction and tell me not to buy from them again.
It went without saying, but at least they were standing their ground.

So now I own this:

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It’s not a substitute, though I would imagine it plays correctly on a system and functions as it should, but as a collector, I’m obviously disappointed. Thankfully, it didn’t set me back too much so for now, it’s more of a placeholder or maybe something to give a friend if they want to play through the game. Maybe this could act as a cautionary tale, too, even if it’s one that’s already tried-and-true.

Make sure you examine everything about the product you’re buying. While it would be nice if everyone were honest and well-meaning, it’s really up to you to make sure that what you’re getting is actually what you intended.

Just a Short Trip Back for More – PC – DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark – 2016

20190811102407_1.jpgDreadOut: Keepers of the Dark
PC
Digital Happiness
Genre: Survival Action Horror
2016

Certain games lend themselves to a convoluted and drawn-out mythos. Taking into account some certain popular horror games, you could easily find essays about Silent Hill’s background and characters. Personally, I’ve poured through a number of analyses about Rule of Rose and the symbolism within the world drawn up over the game’s events. While a lot of that is in the eye and explanations of the analyst behind the keyboard, most franchises are not foreign to the idea of adding more to an already existing mythos to explain mysteries or flesh out their universe. It’s what endears people to their work, after all.

The original DreadOut (which I reviewed a while back here) took its inspiration from some already existing mythology, sending a group of trapped teenagers and their teacher up against some of the specters and demons in Indonesian stories. The game didn’t just rest on this, as it had its own plot and story to tell, but the combination of existing and specifically created histories made for an interesting plot to watch unfold as the horrors played out.

Keepers of the Dark is not a straight sequel to DreadOut as one might be led to believe from the title and timeline. I say this not only informationally but as a bit of a warning for the discussion to follow since there is almost no way to discuss the game without referring to elements from the original DreadOut and possibly giving some spoilers. Acting more like a “missing chapter”, according to the game’s page on Steam, it sort of takes a quick sidestep from the plot of the original and has events that relate to it. If you haven’t played the original game and don’t want it ruined for you, feel free to turn away now. No hard feelings here, I promise!

Otherwise, take a peek at what I thought of this extra chapter from the DreadOut universe and how effective it may or may not have been as a standalone piece. Continue reading

Two of Us Against the World – Nintendo Entertainment System – A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia – 1990

Title.jpgA Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia
Nintendo Entertainment System
Imagineering / Absolute Entertainment
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
1990

The introduction of the NES to the video gaming market felt like it was a time where a lot of chances were taken. Not to belittle the consoles that had come before it. There were plenty of games that tried something new, but it felt like there was a marked shift in capabilities for the system and the approach to video game mechanics began to spread to a larger variety that was accessible to more developers. With that, some companies attempted to step outside of the box a bit, jumping from their work on earlier consoles to embrace the growth of technology in the field.

Such was the case with Imagineering and Absolute Entertainment who had produced and published games for the Atari and Commodore 64 before making the jump onto the Nintendo Entertainment System. With a bit of innovation and some high aspirations, their first attempt to break into the NES market in conjunction with one another was with a little game that has seen a few entries in its legacy called A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia.

Attempting to put a spin on the classic adventure platformers that were so plentiful in the system’s library, the idea was to create a game that did away with tedious inventory management and would be another step forward in the genre given the influence designer and programmer David Crane had already with his work on Pitfall!, a classic in its own right that pushed the adventure scene in a promising direction.

Having played this game as a kid, I had never finished it and remembered it being a bit too challenging when I had attempted it last. One morning, with my renewed resolved and a few more years of gaming under my belt, I decided to take a swing through the game and take a journey with A Boy and His Blob. Continue reading

All’s Fair in Love and Covering Wars – XBox 360 – Dead Rising – 2006

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XBox 360
Capcom
Genre: Action Horror
2006

Zombie games are everywhere. Like the creeping undead they promote, they seem to have vastly grown in number and even when you don’t think they have made their way in, games suddenly have a new mode that has you facing off against the hellish creatures. As someone who swears by Zombie Ate My Neighbors being one of my favorite games of all time, even I have to admit that there’s a lot to look through and not much to be done to make the zombie pseudo-genre feel fresh.

Looking back a bit, though, it didn’t feel like the wave of zombie-centric gaming started to swell until popular games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Rising hit the scene, bringing a more action-oriented approach to slaying the already slain than many of their predecessors of the era. Plenty of ground had been struck within the Resident Evil series and other one-off titles here and there to give credit where it’s due. At the time of its release, though, Dead Rising felt like a revival of a sort. It was shiny and new while calling back to similar works from film and gaming.

There’s also been about thirteen years of efforts to replicate those shiny and new feelings in a number of ways since. Some have been successful while others have paled in comparison. It only feels right to look back into Capcom’s Dead Rising series, one of the original members of the new wave, and see how it stands up now that so many other games have come around. Plenty of games make a splash and get lost in an ocean of titles and efforts to be the best.

After all of this time, does Dead Rising still hold its own in the arena?
Continue reading