Thoughts on what I’m playing: The return

1) I beat Mega Man Powered Up using Mega Man after letting it lay fallow on the final stage for almost a week. I had fun with most of the game, but the final stage is such a trainwreck it sapped my will to continue. It consists of a long, twisty corridor with a lot of enemies that takes forever to weave your way through, a moving platform with a jump that is literally pixel-perfect, and a boss which is almost a complete roll of the dice. Some of Wily’s attacks seem literally undodgeable, especially Oil Slider, and others might as well be in certain configurations, like Fire Storm or Ice Slasher when Wily is moving towards you. Your only hope is for Wily to use the harmless Time Slow a lot. There also seems to be a way to keep him locked down in hitstun, but if there’s a rhythm to doing it indefinitely I wasn’t able to work it out. And hey, if you run out of lives you can always spend the next twenty minutes faceplanting into spikes again.

I toyed around a bit with some of the other characters, but by that point I was pretty bored with the game and ready to set it aside.

2) Speaking of frustrating bosses, Ys. I picked up this game because it looked Zeldaesque, and I’m a sucker for anything that even remotely resembles Zelda (except, apparently Okami — at my current rate of progress I’ll probably beat that game sometime in 2040). And it’s fun… mostly. The bosses, though, appear to be exercises in frustration. The first one just had an exceedingly demanding pattern with little room for error, exacerbated by the fact that Adol apparently thinks jumping isn’t cool and will occasionally decline to do it even if you press the button. The second one could disassemble you in seconds and was only balanced by the fact that it was pretty easy to do the same to him.

The third one, though, is absolutely stupid. It doesn’t seem possible to outrun it, it follows you too tightly and quickly to avoid it, and trading hits with it will only take you so far. Even dialing the difficulty down as far as it would go didn’t seem to help — its movements appeared unaltered. I did eventually beat it, but I was clinging to a sliver of health at the time and I have little doubt that it was mostly luck. This is the third boss. How am I ever going to beat this game?

3) In my spare moments I’ve been fiddling around with Maria mode in Symphony. Maria’s an interesting character because she provides a markedly different playstyle than either of the other two playable characters in the game. She lacks both Alucard’s survivability and Richter’s sheer damage output, but she’s by far the most mobile character, able to fly through the rooms at warp speed.

With Maria, the game becomes about not killing monsters, but dodging them. She doesn’t level up, so there’s no need to kill anything. Her attacks deal so little damage that clearing a path is both dangerous and takes forever. She’s got a double jump, a slide, a super jump, a glide, and a single-button infinite-use air dash, though, so if there’s empty space between enemies and the walls chances are Maria can worm her way through those spaces somehow. Stopping to kill an enemy becomes a calculated risk that you do only when you have to, rather than the central aspect of the game, which is a very different flavor of gameplay and one which platformers don’t often take. It reminds me a little of NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits, where the PC was slow, sluggish, and nearly useless on the ground, but possessed almost perfect mobility in the air, which switched up the platforming gameplay considerably. I’d like to play a full, fleshed-out game designed around avoiding enemies in a 2-D space rather than just slicing your way through them.

4) I’m nearly done with Final Fantasy Tactics, but I’ve kind of stalled out near the end… I’ve reached that dead zone where my characters are about as good as they’re going to get and I just have to muster up the willpower to force my way through the last several chapters. It would be good to do it soon, too, because I’ve got Tactics Ogre, Jeanne d’Arc, and Wild ARMs XF waiting to go as far as tactical RPGs, and I can only focus on one of those at a time.

This is probably its own post, but I wasn’t as absorbed by FFT as I’d expected I would be, especially after having my life devoured by the Tactics Advance games. Everyone keeps telling me how much better the original is, and in some ways it still stands far above its progeny… but in others, it’s almost unbelievably primitive. As in, “I can’t believe they didn’t fix this shit when they were remaking it” primitive. Far too often I felt like I was fighting the game engine and user interface rather than the game itself, and that’s an awful feeling to have.

5) Bizarrely, the game I’ve spent the most time on recently is the one I thought I’d “beaten”, Dissidia. Weird thing is, I don’t really have a goal here, either. I’ve experimented with Labyrinth mode… played around a bit with quickbattle… exploited custom rulesets to powerlevel some level 1 characters… even given some thought to tackling the brutal postgame. The game has great pick-up-and-play value, and basically all my gaming these days has come in the form of picking up and playing.

Despite the fact that he’s my best character, I set aside Squall for a while (mostly because using him makes the game too easy) to focus on exploring some other character options. Surprisingly, I fell in love with Terra; her ranged game is a lot of fun and her difficulty killing things fades away once you learn Ultima, which is astonishingly easy to hit with. Yuna, too, becomes amazingly easy once she learns Megaflare, which the CPU opponents seem completely incapable of dodging.

I’ve put a few levels here and there into Cloud and Zidane, who are fun to use even if I can’t quite get a handle on how they’re supposed to play. I’ve tried out the Warrior of Light too, but he completely baffles me — I have no idea how his attacks are supposed to fit together, which is especially infuriating given that the computer flows through these long, graceful combos. I also want to learn Firion, Shantotto, and Prishe, but haven’t touched them in a while.


1 Response to “Thoughts on what I’m playing: The return”

  1. 1 kaisel July 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Ys (if this is Oath) has a very odd difficulty to it. The first time I played the game, I was getting demolished by just about every boss for at least a half dozen times before I beat them, but then the next time I played, each boss was a lot easier.

    The two tips that I can think of is to upgrade weapons when you have the chance (whether that’s by affording new weapons/armor or by using ravel ore or whatever it’s called) and then pretty much always use hit and run tactics. Most bosses have a very short time frame with which to hit them, and most of the rest of the battle is spent dodging.

    If it’s Ys: Seven (which is easier, more RPG-ish, and just a bit too long), the key there is to switch characters often, spam your powerful attacks, and basically try to key your strategy in setting off your EX attack, or whatever it’s called (the one that takes forever to charge up).

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