Archive for the 'In passing' Category


Remembering: Little Nemo The Dream Master

Little Nemo The Dream Master

I’m sure this game will some day be remastered, rebooted, or revived to some sort of modern platform.  With DuckTales: Remastered being released for free to PS+ members, I’ve finally decided to see their modern take on it.  It’s enjoyable, and there are plenty of nods to the original.  But when it comes to nostalgia, it’s always the little quirks and imperfections that bring memories rushing back.  It would be silly though to assume that game was meant for people like me who played the original so many years years ago.  I like to think that limitations on NES games were part of what made them classics, but “quirks” for me are impediments for the kids of today.  I was willing to overlook them, because it was the best games had to offer at the time.  We don’t have those limitations today, and younger audiences know it.

Little Nemo may be a property with little traction with today’s audiences.  Originating with a comic strip that itself ended almost 90 years ago, it’s surprising to me that Nemo found the success it did on the NES 24 years ago.  I certainly had no reference point to the comic strip, but it’s fair to say that fantastic spirit of the world of Little Nemo shaped the world of the game.  It only had eight levels, and relied on making you replay them as you got game overs, but for myself those levels were so refined as to make a long lasting impression.  Each level distinct from the last, carrying a memorable soundtrack, and leaving plenty of nooks and crannies to be explored.  They are classic spaces in my mind.  It was at a time where Mario sported platforming stunts, and Sonic offered flash and speed.  Meanwhile, Nemo was a plodding, almost puzzle-game, explorer.

It was a relatively simple game.  Nemo’s not very capable of navigating the levels himself.  He must coax animals into assisting them by offering them candy. And then he…crawls inside them?  (Remember what I was saying about quirks?)  No matter, it’s a small part of the emerging Metroidvania genre of titles that opens up levels to you as you obtained new abilities.  It’s not as sprawling as a Metroid or Castlevania, but every inch of the screen was rewarding.  “Remastering” these games, no matter how well intentioned, no matter how much attention is given to detail, robs them of their original voice.  I’m comfortable leaving this game right where it is in history and letting younger audiences enjoy it, warts and all, or watch over someone else’s shoulder via a “let’s play.”


I’m joining the future, which is actually the present

Alien: Isolation

Greetings.  I’m going to be honest – I haven’t had a whole lot to say here since the events surrounding #GamerGate occurred over the last couple months.  I have a post sitting in the queue about it, which I’ll hopefully pull the trigger on soon.  It’s been tremendously discouraging, and I feel it’s inappropriate for me to write essay length posts about speculative elements of video games without acknowledging what’s been going on.

With that being said, I’ve experienced some gaming good will recently that’s motivating me to dive back in once again and start playing the latest generation of games.  I’ll be kicking things off with Alien: Isolation, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Last of Us Remastered.  After waiting for a year, I’ve been persuaded that the next generation of games are worth getting invested in.  I’ve got a PS4 now, and I’m learning all about it’s video capture and streaming capabilities, which will hopefully lead to more media-rich posts. Stay tuned.

You can also check out the Ruminatron Tumblr where I post other thoughts and interesting pieces of media.


Final Fantasy X Revisited

In my experience with the Final Fantasy series, you can draw a line roughly between two types of worlds that are offered by each game.  It’s not the most significant distinguishing feature between the games, but one that resonated with me when I was immersing myself in that genre.  Earlier in the series, you saw the games providing world’s that leaned heavily on mystical qualities to provide thematic coherence.  Derived from works of fantasy and myth, early Final Fantasy games constructed quasi-medieval worlds where legends were alive in contexts that we might understand them as children listening to a fairy tale.  They were compelling in a self-contained universe and captured the imagination by removing us from our own worlds.

By the time Final Fantasy VI rolled around, you began to see a stronger reliance on themes in science fiction to build worlds.  With VI, this had a dramatic effect to make it feel more real, even while retaining the fantasy trappings of magic and legendary creatures.  VII, VIII, and IX also pursued this direction in different ways, but each framed their world by pulling in speculative science fiction from our own.  It’s that quality that drew me into the series and captured my own imagination.  Final Fantasy X, I felt, began to turn the formula back towards the mystical again.  Colored by the plot’s attention to religion, the world of Spira was built around metaphysical qualities that was less interested in aliens, space, and technology.  Final Fantasy X was a fine game, and I stuck with it through the end, but I’ve held it in lower regard for not engaging me the same way prior games had.

But now I’ve got a PS3, and Square-Enix has put a lot of effort into polishing up FFX for the HD era.  It’s held in such high regard by fans of the series that I’ve decided to give it another shot.  With many of my teenage biases eliminated, I’m hoping to enjoy it for what it is and not I wanted it to be (which was apparently Final Fantasy IX given the number of times I’ve played through it.)  I’m not the biggest fan of some of its qualities, but if I could learn to love Final Fantasy VIII, then I really should give X more of a shot.  I’ve fired up my digital copy and decided to play through the expert sphere grid.  It’s got some great music, an interesting take on the turn based battle system, and plenty of content to keep me engaged and exploring for quite a while.

As far as Final Fantasy X-2 HD goes, well, perhaps I’ll play that in another lifetime.



Gaming Links Roundup for March 2nd

Grossly Incandescent.

Why I’m Not Okay With Sony Ditching PSP Discs
For a device that’s supposed to do so much, the Vita not being able to play UMD based games seems like a pretty big caveat when you’re marketing it toward core PSP gamers.

Square Enix announces remix album dedicated to beer
Haha.  Wait, what?

XSEED Will Do What Nintenwon’t, Agrees to Localize ‘The Last Story’ for North America
I’m thrilled to hear that we’ll get a chance to play this.

Tim Schafer Says Publishers Aren’t Worried About Kickstarter
It’s not surprising that publishers wouldn’t be impressed by $2 million.  But if they feel an existential threat posed by used games and $0.99 mobile games then I’m sure that the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter is causing them some degree of distress.  Publishers only survive with developers on their side, and there are more and more ways for developers to escape that relationship every day.

Are 100-Hour Games Just A Waste Of Our Time?
People who spend 100 hours playing games would disagree (as I am one.)  Articulating why it’s worth the time and pointing to it is challenging though I’m sure if we tallied up the amount of time that people spend on other activities then this wouldn’t sound as dramatic as it does.  See also: Hell Yes, 100-Hour Video Games Are Worthwhile and Sunbro.

Jet Grind Radio HD Re-release Confirmed
I used to think HD re-releases were shameless cash-ins, but then I tried playing SD games on an HD TV.

Silent Hell: the rage-fueled tale of Book of Memories
I don’t know what happened with Silent Hill but whatever enthusiasm I had for the series has evaporated.  I’ll still pick up the Silent Hill Collection later this month though (even if it’s not much of a collection.)


Still Clinging Together

Where are your parents?  Are you lost?

After about 95 hours, I’m still dumping time and effort into Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together on the PSP.  I had figured that after my first play through I would be satisfied with the game’s story and more or less fed up with trying to build my characters.  With the World Tarot being featured as prominently as it is, I should have expected that this game wasn’t meant to be played just once (although it’s still quite enjoyable that way.)  Since it has an excellent soundtrack and a steady stream of unlockable characters, abilities, and events it was easy to jump back into the game and continue to explore it.  The branching storyline in combination with the World Tarot dismantles the conventional structure of the beginning, middle, and ending of a game and subtly reveals a meta-story of sorts which stands apart from any individual story branch.  I’ve enjoyed going back and indulging the game’s “what if” scenarios that tweak the personalities in the game such that you can observe what changes about a character based on circumstance and what is consistently true about a character no matter what scenario they find themselves in.  The characters of Tactics Ogre are not especially deep but have a texture to them that’s not always present in other games.  It is rewarding to play even 100 hours in and I’ve come to appreciate it more since I completed my first play through and review.


Weekly Links for January 21st



Resident Evil 6 unveiled, with a surprise November release
What’s funny is as time’s gone on I’ve become more and more of a Resident Evil fan. I skipped the first, cheated through the second and finally

“Deus Ex” Live Action Film Behind the Scenes – Stunt/ Fight Choreography
I wish very badly for this to be a real thing. But I guess it’s not. (via: Kotaku)

Vita Sales Get Even Worse
I was surprised, but then I remembered that this is Sony that we’re talking about.

AMY dev claims its game is just ‘hard’ instead of ‘crap’
You know you’re desperate when you’re reduced to responding to your critics by saying “well, you’re just stupid.”

ESA spent $190,000 to support PIPA lobbyists
Nothing like spending a ton of money to try and get Washington to hurt people you don’t like.

What I’ve Been Playing

Dark Souls
On to Sen’s Fortress.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
The more I explore the plot branches in this game the higher my opinion of it becomes.

Bonus Video


Weekly Links for January 15th



What I’ve Been Playing

Bonus Video

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