Retro Reviews!

One of the main things I wanted to do by making my own WordPress theme was add a new aspect to the blog: reviews. I like to review the games I play to collect my thoughts and look back at times, so I have quite a few reviews lying around in various places. Now, I want to consolidate them here.

As the title mentions, I’m focused mainly on retro reviews, for the simple reason that I’ve been playing a lot of retro games lately. (This is the main reason progress on the Final Fantasy VII guide has stalled, so sorry about that!) And when I say “retro” I mean it: the main platform I’ve been playing is the original NES.

I do want to mention a few things about these reviews up front. I really like retro games, and I score them with that in mind. Given the choice, I would definitely rather play Mega Man 2 than almost any modern action game, so I’m going to give it a high score. If you have serious issues with old, pixelated graphics, I suggest you take my scores and opinions with a generous grain of salt. I will be reviewing modern games I happen to play as well, but I’m not grading old games on a curve or anything. I genuinely don’t have an issue with SD graphics. I mean, I’m playing these games on an actual CRT even though I have a ton of HD options. So keep that in mind.  (That said, I can’t deal with terribly play control in any era.)

The reviewed games won’t be restricted to games I’ve made guides for, or even RPGs. Despite the nature of my site, I’m a fan of many game genres. I will be putting up a retro review every Tuesday until I run out, which should take quite a while. Any non-retro reviews will go up whenever I get around to writing them. I hope you guys enjoy these, and I’m looking to add a few more types of non-guide content to the blog as well, so keep an eye out!

The Long Night Approaches its End

It’s nearly time to emerge from my day job work cocoon and actually do something interesting again. Or at least, work on the Gamer Corner. The first priority is, of course, to finish the Final Fantasy VII guide, but with FFXV delayed, I’m not sure what will be next. There’s probably time for an FFXII guide in the interim, but I may take some time to recover and play something new.

I also would like to do more blogging, just for a change of pace. I’m not really sure what form that will take. Hopefully something with a little more content than this post!

Sorting is Fixed

Every time someone leaves feedback, I get a little alert telling me that there’s new feedback, and then I go to the feedback page. Recently, I got some feedback and checked the page to find a note asking for more cross-referencing in the guide. Since that was sent from an FFXIII page, I assumed the user wanted the same sort of linking the newer guides have on the FFXIII guide, and set out to make that happen.  As a result, the FFXIII guide cards should be a lot more usable going forward.

However, as I discovered, that was all a lie. It turns out I had broken the sorting on most of the guides, including the feedback module, which prevented me from noticing the actual latest feedback: that sorting was broken.  Yes, the sorting bug prevented me from learning about the sorting bug.  Oops!  The good news is, sorting is now fixed.

I want to thank guide user Joe for pointing that out, even though it took me way too long to notice. In my defense, I’ve been extremely busy with my day job and continue to be so. (Which is also why the FFVII guide is, unfortunately, not making any progress. It may be delayed all the way until the end of the month. 🙁 )

Comparing FF6 and FF7 Data

The FF7 guide is coming along nicely, with almost everything done except for actually re-playing the game.  Things are about to get crazy at work, so I’m going to try to finish this one soon, but we’ll see.  I definitely want to make a guide for I am Setsuna, but I may need to put that off for quite a while.

In the meantime, while writing up all the data models for FF7, it struck me that FF6 had much more complicated data.  This seems odd, because FF6 isn’t actually that complicated a game.  I believe this is mostly due to FF6 having a dozen different types of abilities that all shared some basic structure.  In FF7, you basically only have spells, and individual character abilities are covered by limit breaks.  These are fewer in number than all the Blitzes, SwdTechs, and whatnot, and all function in the same basic way, so it cleans things up a bit.

Nonetheless, it has made me appreciate FF7 a bit more.  The materia system allows enough complexity that they could surround it with relatively simple systems and the game still ends up being incredibly deep. I still have some issues with the balance of the materia system, which I’m sure I’ll post about some time later, but it does a good job of creating interesting mechanics without a bunch of convoluted systems.

Moving Day

This weekend I spent quite a lot of time making architectural changes to the site, most of which will hopefully be invisible to the user. (Much like the progress on the FF7 guide! Har har har.)  The exception is this blog.  Wordpress.com is cool and free and all, but I do have some WordPress development experience so I’ve decided to host my own blog so I can eventually create a nifty custom theme.  For now it’s just Twenty-Sixteen, but you know, eventually it’ll be new and spiffy.

Your WordPress.com user should still work for leaving comments, and you can also use Facebook or Twitter to do so.  (Or Google Plus, if you’re into that sort of thing.)  So comment away!

Making Progress!

After many years of ignoring todos on the subject, I’ve finally gone back and finished the FFVIII Junction Workshop. Things like ST-Def-J are now counted as redundant if you have ST-Def-Jx2 or ST-Def-Jx4, and GFHP+X% abilities are redundant if the GF’s HP at level 99 would be 9999 without them.  In addition, the page is now mobile friendly…ish.  It’s certainly usable, but by its nature it’s not a great experience if you can only see a small amount of information at a time.  Nonetheless, that was the last mobile unfriendly page on the site that I was aware of, so that’s something!

I’ve also added a “new guide coming soon” widget to the home page, mostly to keep myself honest.  Which means it is official, I am indeed working on the Final Fantasy VII guide.  It doesn’t look like it will be at all applicable to the remake, but it’s a classic game and purists like me will still play the original forever anyway.  Because who needs progress?!  Oh wait, that’s the title of this post… never mind.

Lots and Lots of Changes

Since I quit FFXIV, I’ve had a lot more time to play RPGs and work on the site.  And as you’ve probably noticed, the site has undergone some significant changes recently.  The most obvious is a new, dark color scheme (and a move away from the previous, Windows 8-inspired design), but the most important is that the entire site* should now be mobile friendly!  That’s been a long time coming, and I hope it will vastly improve the site experience on all devices.  Part of making the site mobile-friendly was making it generally run faster, so everyone should benefit.

(*except the FF8 junction workshop. I’m open to ideas there!)

There are a lot of big Final Fantasy games coming out: the Final Fantasy VII and XII re-makes, as well as FFXV, and my goal is to create guides for the originals before the remakes come out, starting with FFVII. These are games I haven’t played in a while so it should be fun to revisit them, particularly FFXII.

I also hope to be a bit more communicative about the site going forward, and to that end I have created a Facebook page that this blog will post content to, along with the new (old!) Twitter account.  So let me know what you think, as long as it’s all positive!

A FAQ Appears!

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback lately, which is great, and I decided to put up a FAQ to address the most common questions. Though I will also answer the most common question here: yes, I am making more guides, FF7 is most likely next, and I have no idea when that will actually happen.

In other news, I made a tweak to how the reference column works. Clicking links outside the reference column will now always open a new window, as if it weren’t there. However, if you hover over a link for a short time, the reference column will scroll to that card. Hopefully this addresses one of the more annoying UI issues with the site.

There will likely be some other UI tweaks coming up soon to make things a little nicer, especially on mobile.

FF6, FF7, and the Nature of Criticism

Final Fantasy VI may be my favorite games in the series. Final Fantasy 7 is my least-favorite. This started as backlash to its popularity, but I’ve refined my criticisms over time. There’s just one problem: my issues with FF7 generally apply to FF6 as well.

FF7 isn’t really high fantasy, but nor is FF6. Sephiroth is an overwrought villain, but less so than Kefka. Both games’ translations miss many series references. The characters in FF7 are effectively interchangeable due to materia, but FF6’s esper system has similar problems. I find Cloud distractingly angsty, but I feel the same way about Terra.

I had to rethink my position on both games once I realized this. Is my analysis of FF7 wrong? Is my love of FF6 simple nostalgia? Perhaps, but I think this is more straightforward: it’s easy to criticize things you don’t like.

I could pick apart any game in the series, including the ones I love. Indeed, I would use many of the same arguments as haters of the series. I still love the series anyway.

The truth is, I don’t know why I like FF6 or dislike FF7 as much as I do. I think people are generally very bad at identifying why they feel the way they do about something. For almost any singular criticism of a game, you can name a game that’s great despite doing the same thing. As a Final Fantasy fan in 2014, I remind myself of this often.