Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Still More Etrian Odyssey

So I battled down to level 3 only to discover that the FOEs that inhabit the first rooms are far and away too tough for anything below, I'm guessing, level 17. I think it's possible that I could take them out earlier, so long as I had a preemptive turn and could also double-hit with both of my landsknechts. But I'm just saying, at the moment there is no freaking way I'm doing anything but running the edges of the rooms (the good news is that they've got short-term memory issues, so you can maneuver them out of your way and then carry on). That leads me to suspect that I should work to complete the Wolf King (Fenrir, nice touch on the name) quest first, see where I'm at, then consider beating down on the slayers. Of course, it will be extremely gratifying to add their stats to the mean, Monstrous Codex.

These (and other) comparisons are obvious but one relevant point is that there is absolutely no freaking comparison in depth of play, or maturity of title. Having slogged through my share of precious gems, I find myself totally uninterested in Diamond/Pearl, despite having picked the game up like all the other good little DS'ers in the world. But Atlus has it beat by a looong way with Etrian Odyssey.

I should say, "for gamer dorks like me who remember interactive fiction and whatnot, Atlus has Pokemon kold." I'm pleasantly surprised to discover the reviews being kind to the game even though it's clear that this title will actually excite an extremely narrow segment of the DS audience. But those mesozoic denizens will be so happy over the next month that they wouldn't care if the reviews were uniformly horrible. Heck, I played "Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder" on GBA, if you want to discuss bad titles...

Just remember to run from the Slayers. Seriously. Like 95 points per hit.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


So, in Etrian Odyssey, there's like a home base on top of the Labyrinth, right? And you can manage characters in your party, buy stuff, sell loot, whatever. Sometimes when you sell loot it enables the shopkeeper to make new items that were previously unavailable. There's odd jobs to be had at the tavern and plot-line quests at the castle. So you get your marching orders, head in, mapping your merry way through the maze, and grab loot from random encounters and side quests. Then you dash back to the surface and regroup. The myth is that no one's ever been to the bottom of the Labyrinth...

In other words, it's a roguelike, but pretty, and with a more robust skill tree than ever before attempted in, say, Nethack (but maybe ADOM, which everyone says is awesome but which I cannot for the life of me bring myself to play, has more depth in that area?). And like all roguelikes, it's crack - at least to that very odd subset of people who like getting all the way down to the bottom of a massively multi-level dungeon.

This game will afford you hours of entertainment in the same way that Random, the Evil Human Tourist, afforded me months of entertainment in Nethack. Then he got sandwiched between a passel of orcs and a tea party of jellies, alas. At least in Etrian Odyssey there's no guilt associated with returning to a save point...

I have not yet investigated what happens if you try to solo. If the game adjusts to the number of PCs then you can probably go old-school. If not, you'll likely just die a lot with the more interesting classes. One of the hack-n-slashers could probably do it, though...

New Media Matters

Just a heads up that a pretty smart blog on narrative in all forms can be found here. Authored by Chris Kubasik, it explores narrative across media and begins the difficult work of investigating hybrid narratives, told cross-platform and/or poached and/or ported into different platforms. Haven't read enough, but like what I see to date.

Friday, May 18, 2007

DM of the Rings

Too funny. This guy nails a lot of the perils of pencil paper pillage, as well - I believe one might refer to that as value-added.

If only I could be clever and wield a pen! Alas...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Generating Buzz

All right, I couldn't help it. After all, it's not every day a comedy legend jumps off a roof at Cannes. I will say that "Bee Movie" is the first Dreamworks animated film that I will not immediately sneer at. I find the prospect of any animated film authored by Jerry Seinfeld to be enormously promising.

So I have eschewed my Puzzle Questing for the sake of a run at Touch Detective. Never mind that I'm horribly behind the times on this one - it was in the interest of finding a Scooby-Doo-esque title for the pumpkin. Turns out it is a bit to text-heavy to properly share with the little bug but it's amusing for her to manipulate the objects once they've been found. Also, dude, it's a tiny little Polyanna detective with saucer-eyes and a butler. What's not to love? I thus far have found the puzzles (especially post-intro/tutorial/whatever) to be legitimately challenging, if somewhat burdened by Holmes' maxim that, after all other avenues have been tried, what remains, however improbable, is the solution. It seems to defy credulity, for example, that you use your sentient mushroom pet's spores to jam the planetarium's central apparatus. (Man, that sentence should win an award.) Similar examples abound. That said, I think it's pretty adorable.

It's been a pleasant intro into Atlus, as well, considering that I'm growing increasingly needful of Etrian Odyssey despite having absolutely no time for another diversion...ah, the perils of gaming.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Then I can get that +5 Skull...

Being something of a slave to the RPG, and having managed to catch the second wave of copies flooding into stores, I am now happily enmeshed in Puzzle Quest. The idea that Bejeweled + Progress Bar is enough to make me engage in high level spatial reasoning in the name of mana development is, I think, some comment on my desperate wish to be considered clever by machines that do not consider me one way or the other. My humble DS can, of course, parse the ramifications of a specific rearranging of the game grid far faster than I can, and seems to smirk at me as I miss the obvious Four of a Kind that I could have done in advance of the cool thing that distracted me.

Until I got the Ultimate Troll Ring or whatever it is, that regenerates three points per turn so long as my blue mana pool is at some level (15?), I was getting schooled. I firmly believe that I was spending waaay too much money on my citadel in the early game, and not enough on bling. This is perhaps a function of not reading the manual, yet. I mean, how hard can it be, right?! On the other hand, much of the Shop is level-locked, so I don’t quite characterize it as misuse of funds, really. Suffice it to say that with the ring my little wizard is rocking the kazbah. Need a new burn spell, though. Fire Bolt is weak sauce.

Anyway, the point is that having acquired an “RPG” which promises dual-dialogue cut scenes aplenty, I was aghast and agog to discover that a bona fide contender in the RPG genre was released today for the DS. Looking a little like the prettiest Hunt the Wumpus you ever did see, Etrian Odyssey has a lot going for it on paper – a mapping subtheme that allows you to remember your own damn way out of the Labyrinth, rich graphics, and spritely anime heroes to level up to your heart’s content. I was a little bummed to see that the dialogue and menu options appear to still require the use of the direction pad and A spamming (as opposed to the immensely more gratifying tap-spamming) but all in all it looks like a pretty darn good game, and a no-brainer for people like me who just can’t wait to spend skill points like a mad fiend…

In other news, I also picked up Touch Detective today, in the hopes that it would be appropriate for the boo boo to play along. She is a fiend for the mysteries. I’m beginning to think that I’m just going to have to design a scenario-based tabletop detective game for her - a la 221B Baker Street, but in this case more like 221B Sesame Street.

Has anyone come up with a workable solution to the “tiny chip, gigantic box” problem with DS games? I’ve seen some tacky little folios that solve the “where’s my game” problem, but I have no idea where to stick the cases…might be time for a purge.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

For those special times when you're waaaaay on edge...

Just be happy that you're not as crazy as this guy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hershey Plant to close in California

I'm torn between feeling some remorse for a hallowed American institution (and in particular, its workers) and thinking that Hershey was due. The product line is not exactly winning the hearts and minds of the newly health conscious America.

One wonders how big that demographic actually is, though. After all, we're fatter than ever.

I suppose the other hit to Hershey is the discovery of real chocolate - and on these very shores, no less. Now that all the snobby gourmands can get actual chocolate, why ever go back? I certainly don't know, although I do enjoy the occasional caramel Kiss. Yummy.