Okay, so we’re two-thirds of the way through the 30 days’ worth of video game posts. And I still haven’t found a more eloquent way of describing that. Anyway, we’ve got another “what’s your favorite something-or-other” topic to discuss, my favorite game genre. As usual, I find this to be a pretty difficult question indeed because I have a wide variety of favorite games spanning several different genres. Continue reading Day 20: Favorite Video Game Genre
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of replaying one of my favorite games of all time, Okami. I really love adventure games, and Okami certainly delivers an unforgettable adventure, coupled with unique gameplay where you draw various brushstrokes in order to fight enemies and solve puzzles. The game is so good…I still love it despite the fact that my drawings don’t register a large percentage of the time. (I get angry quite often at this game, in fact, and yet I still adore it.) Yet another area where Okami excels is the excellent soundtrack. Behold, my top ten songs from the game! Continue reading Top 10 Songs from Okami
Not long ago, I finished playing “Muramasa: The Demon Blade” after a two year break (I got a new XBox 360 halfway through and then was distracted by that and other various things for quite some time afterward). What I noticed first and foremost about this game when I found it at the store was the interesting art style and the rich colors on the front and back covers, which ended up being the main reason I decided to buy it (plus, the game store was having some kind of sale, so why not?). But, first, a summary of the game.
This game is a side-scrolling action game. Throughout the game, you collect or forge different swords, each with its own special skill, some of which can break different barriers that block your progress to various locations. Battles are fought with three of your swords, which you can switch between, preferably before your current sword breaks, and switching swords at the right time allows you to attack all enemies on-screen at once. The strategy involved in fighting in this game makes the battle system more interesting than simple button mashing (which is what I still largely did, though). The game is also composed of two stories, the story of Momohime (though, I don’t know if that is accurate, as she is possessed nearly the entire time) and the story of Kisuke, plus multiple secret endings. The stories and characters were fairly interesting, though they didn’t particularly appeal to me. It was other aspects of the game that made it stand out to me the most.
One aspect of the game I liked was that it takes place in Japan, and I enjoyed being able to play a game while also learning a bit about the country and its mythology. (The game is actually named after the famous Japanese sword smith, Muramasa, whose blades were rumored to not return to their sheaths until they “tasted blood”, if you will, even forcing the wielder to commit suicide if no other victim could be found.) I also encountered various monsters from Japanese folklore, like the Kappa, Tengu, and the most bizarre Kasa-obake, a strange umbrella monster that hops around on one foot. The game, while having dialogue written in English, is also spoken entirely in Japanese, which I also found interesting.
What distinguishes this game from others the most, though, is the style of artwork. This game has some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen. The backgrounds (and characters) are more in a 2D style, but the background is kind of layered in a way, so it gives a more 3D feel to it. The locations use such vibrant colors and are positively beautiful to behold, from a stormy ocean (with a cameo appearance of the famous woodblock print “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”) to snowy hills with a frozen river running off into the horizon, from mysterious forests to tranquil fields of wheat at sunset. This game mainly involves fighting enemies and traveling, and the traveling doesn’t get as boring as I think it would have otherwise because the scenery is so lovely to look at.
And this makes me think of other games that use beautiful art styles, like “Rayman Origins” and “Okami” (the latter of which uses more of the Japanese ink art style in its scenery and characters). These games, along with “Muramasa”, stand out from other games, not because their graphics are realistic, but because they are unique and beautiful. Sure, games like “Halo 4” and “Final Fantasy XIII” look amazing. But, now that technology has reached that point, we’re going to see a lot more games that look like that. It’s not going to be so novel anymore once most games look that good, and we have become used to it.
It is the games with the different styles that will stand out in terms of graphics and are the ones that will always be beautiful to look at, even after the excitement of nearly-realistic graphics wears off. It’s like the difference between a photo and a painting. A well-taken photo can be nice to look at, but for me, a beautiful painting is so much more interesting to look at. A painting can use a style and colors that brings out emotions that a photo can’t. A photo shows you what’s there. Yes, photographers can be artsy with lighting and angle, but paintings still can do things photos can’t.
So I have gotten a bit off-topic about this game. The game is a lot of fun, with a story and characters that are perfectly adequate (like I said, I didn’t get overly attached to these aspects, but they certainly weren’t bad). But, it was the art style that stood out to me the most. This game is an interactive piece of art, and it has one of the most beautiful art styles I have ever seen. (I noticed this when I bought it, and this initial impression only grew when I saw that it also has one of the loveliest manuals and disks the world has ever known.) So while this game is not among my list of favorites, it still will always stand out to me because of its stunning art style. That alone might be reason enough to check this game out so you can see its glory for yourself.
The Duck Blade
Since I loved “Okami” so much, I wanted to play “Okamiden” someday…but I never did. But, Dylan from Planet Zombo has, so why not hop over to his blog and read his thoughts on “Okamiden”. (His review sounds negative at first, but he has positive thoughts on the game later on.)
Horrible. Disgusting. Poorly Done. These three words exemplify the perfect antonyms to describe Capcom’s Okamiden. It’s shameful that it’s taken me all of seven years to play an Okami game. What started as a boring and utterly confusing story, mixed with an annoying combat system, transformed itself into one of my favorite Nintendo DS releases of all-time.
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Come on over for another list of things worthy of hate and disappointment. Yes, the duck decided to do another one of these things. It’s…egregious things…cubed!
I don’t like when names of stores or whatever use ‘n’ in place of and. It just bugs me. Put an’ if you’re going to be goofy, but not ‘n’. No one says ‘n’. It’s not natural. They’d say and or an’. It’s not even that easy to say ‘n’. Which is easier to say: Ducks an’ Geese or Ducks ‘n’ Geese? Normal sentient beings do not say ‘n’! I don’t like ‘n’! That’s a big N for NO! I have also always hated the phrases “for him”, “for her”, or “his and hers”. They’re just creepy. I can’t explain how. It’s like they’re implying they know the person you’re giving something to or whatever, and a simple “him” or “her” is sufficient. I don’t know. It’s just weird.
I hated PE in school. I don’t really need to get into detail since it is a deep disdain felt by nearly every living being in the galaxy, and possibly by some inanimate objects as well, but I will anyway. I hated every bit of it. For one thing, getting into your undies in front of your classmates. Or anyone for that matter. Why are a bunch of children expected to get nearly naked in front of each other? What sick mind thought that up?
And of course, I was the type to get picked last, though that’s not completely true. The second to last person is picked last. The last person isn’t picked at all. So more accurately, I was never picked. I’m sure a bunch of you know how that is. And why are a bunch of children put in a situation where they get verbally abused by other children? They took their darn volleyball so seriously. I’m sorry I missed the ball, okay! Maybe I’m just distracted by the fact that I’ll have to get naked in front of you guys yet again in about a half hour.
And I have to throw in math class, of course. And what the darn is a logarithm? And try naming one instance where you need it. Just one. I dare you.
Also, people in art class could be brutal. So what, I didn’t draw nostrils just right. Sue me.
Another thing I absolutely hate is when video games are hard just because they’re not made right. I have no problem with video games being hard. I want something that challenges me. I love when it actually takes effort to beat a boss. When I have to spend quite a bit of thinking to solve a puzzle. When I get quite lost in a dungeon, and then I finally figure out what to do next. (I have “The Legend of Zelda” on my mind right now because this is a series that treats its players right. That’s one of the many reasons I love it. Thank you, “TLoZ”. Try pronouncing that.)
But, I can’t stand when a game is hard for stupid reasons. When I was playing “Sonic Heroes”, I would die so many times, and it wasn’t even my fault. I would press one button, and the character would go speeding off a ledge. Or they would fall off things they never usually fell off of. I hate when games are super persnickety, like “Okami”. I love “Okami”, but sometimes you had to draw things just right. I drew a circle a zillion times, and they just didn’t like it. I don’t know what I did wrong. It had to be just close enough to the object, I guess, but not too close. And I also hate when game controls are absurd. Rocket barrel levels of “Donkey Kong Country Returns”, yeah, I’m talking to you. Those levels were bad enough to make you pull out your hair (or feathers) until you’re bald. I die because I hold the button down a fraction of a second too long or not long enough. What kind of a world do we live in when such things can happen to good people? This should be a punishment in prison.
And there’s another list of things I hate. What kind of things do you hate?
The Duck Who Was a Loser in P.E. Because P.E. Stands For Pure Evil
Sana requested a post in which I tell you guys about what I like in video games and what’s not my cup of tea. Sounds fun. Thanks for the idea! Here I go!
The things I like are pretty obvious. Of course, a game must be fun, but what makes some games stand out from others is when they have a good story and good characters. These are pretty important. That’s why I love games from the Kingdom Hearts and Jak and Daxter series so much. Good stories, awesome characters. And lots of fun. The cut scenes are often as much fun as the game. They get a very special place in my heart. Like a nice apartment. With a view. Because I can’t fit houses in my heart. I still, of course, like games that don’t have good plots, or plots at all, such as those from the Mario or Donkey Kong series because they are still fun and creative. They are just not quite as special to me. But, still special. They get a slightly less nice apartment in my heart.
Good graphics and music are always nice, but not super important. Good, or at least, not bad dialogue helps, too. Other things that make me happy are when you have a lot of places to explore, items to collect, new moves to learn, which is why I like Metroid games better than Halo, even though both are awesome. In Metroid, you get upgraded weapons and moves as you play and can collect things to upgrade your health and missile capacity. Plus, there are many places to explore. Unique ideas are fun, too. In “Okami”, for example, you drew things with a brush, which was neat.
I also like when you can save often enough, don’t have to redo a lot when you die, and can skip cut scenes. “Kingdom Hearts”, for example, made you rewatch cut scenes, and it was annoying. Square Enix must have realized how annoying it was because you get to skip them now. I also like when games are a challenge, but not ridiculous. I hate absurdly hard games.
Specifically, my favorite games are platformers, RPG’s, and other such things with action or exploring or whatever.
Now for the things I hate. These are the things that will cause me to sell or not even buy a game. One is dirtiness. Some games think that because they’re rated M, they need to have as many bad things as they’re allowed. When I was looking at new games for the XBox 360, the only games that looked good were rated M, so I checked the back, and they had things I didn’t want. So I’m not even going to try them. What’s nice about the Halo series is all they have is violence and a little bit of swearing. Being rated M, they could have more, but there is no dirty things and minimal swearing. In fact, “Halo: Reach” doesn’t even have swearing. I’m proud of you, Bungie. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t like super corny games. I can only handle a small amount of corn.
I was also kept from getting a game because I heard it had a limited number of saves. That would be so annoying. I also hate it in games when you can’t save at all.
I also hate bad controls, like when the camera won’t obey you or you can’t control it at all, and you often die just because you can’t see where you’re going. I also hate that “Sonic and the Secret Rings” is only hard because the controls are so bad. They tried something new, where Sonic is always moving, and you tilt the Wii remote left or right to go left or right, forward to speed up, and back to slow down. I think you can make Sonic stop, but it’s hard. I feel like I have very little control over him. It’s very aggravating.
This next thing is tolerable or horrible, depending on what game it is. I don’t like when games have battles start randomly. Most games, you can see the enemies and choose if you want to fight. In games like “Final Fantasy X” and “Quest 64”, you never know when a battle may start because you can’t see any enemies. You’re just walking, and then suddenly you have to fight things and can’t easily get away. In the former game, though, it’s a good game so it doesn’t bother me as much, but the latter is already not a great game, and this is pretty much the worst part of it.
Also, like I said, I hate super hard games. I really hate them. It’s bad enough that the final bosses of “Vexx” and “Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep” are insane, but when a whole game is a chore… No way. I also hate having to do stupid things or you can’t move on, such as beating the super annoying “Donkey Kong Arcade” in “Donkey Kong 64” not once, but twice, in order to get a necessary item. I also hate when you must fight zillions of enemies or when they take super long to kill. All this fuels the duck’s feathery rage.
The types of games I dislike are sports, really simple games like pinball or Pacman, and fighting games that aren’t “Super Smash Brothers” and racing games other than “Jak X” or “F-Zero”.
And now, the things that simply disappoint me. For one thing, when things don’t feel complete. In the 2006 version of “Sonic the Hedgehog”, it was a good game, but they left some things unfinished. For example, things would fall in the water without a splash. Such a simple thing to fix. I felt like they sold the game before they were completely done with it.
I am also disappointed by bad graphics and bad music, but that’s not a big deal. I am saddened when games are too short, especially good ones.
I also don’t like bad dialogue and skimpy outfits. Too skimpy, and this nears the Bad. I also don’t like when you get to the end of the game and aren’t allowed to return to previous areas, like in “Okami” and “Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier”. I don’t mind when it’s a kind of game where there’s nothing to collect, but in these, there is, and I couldn’t go back for what I missed.
I also don’t like when they think they’re too cool. I’m talking to you, Sonic. And the characters in “Jak X”. I don’t think they were as obnoxious in the previous games….
Well, there you go.
An Opinionated Duck
I remember seeing this one game whenever I went to the electronics store. Blue cover, white wolf. It was called Okami, I remembered. I thought about it. It looked good, but I didn’t get it for a while. One day, I decided I would buy it. I went to the store, and it was gone. But then, I found it at the game store. Again, I wasn’t sure. My taste in little-known game sometimes was good, sometimes bad. I waited. But, not long later, I came back for it. It was still there. And it was a great idea.
The main character is a white wolf (hence the title, the Japanese word for wolf), the Japanese sun god, Amaterasu (Ammy for short), and you go on a long quest to destroy the evil and restore the land to its former beauty. Along the way, you learn more techniques, many of which require you to draw simple pictures. Drawing a circle on the water makes a lily pad. Drawing a swirl in the air makes wind. Drawing a line with a pointed end over an enemy will cut it. You can even draw in what’s missing from certain objects to fix them. Sometimes, it could be really annoying if you didn’t draw things just right, and you would have to try again and again, but it was worth it. I just couldn’t give up. I had to finish.
The story and locations are very interesting, too, and extends much farther than just the battle with Orochi. Two times I thought the game was done, and then I was delighted to find that it was much longer than I realized. And the artwork has a Japanese style, so it’s fun to look at, as well. The music’s very good and unique, too, especially several songs near the end. Just awesome!
Another thing I like is that you don’t get experience (called praise in this game) from fighting. Instead, you get it from restoring dead trees, making clovers sprout, and by feeding animals. There are a lot of things to do, a lot of items to find. The game takes a long time, and it’s fun the whole way through. It can be quite beautiful, sometimes sad, sometimes silly. Sometimes creepy, like in the case of the spider queen or the nasty, old couple…
Though, this game really needs to be played to know what I mean. Words can’t fully describe how great it is. It’s just beautiful, and this is one game where I’ll never question using that word. Without a doubt, the most beautiful game I have ever played, and I have played many. I am quite inspired by it. I want to make something at least half as beautiful, yet when I get to work on a story, a poem, a picture, I find that I can’t get anywhere near what that game has. I just can’t replicate the feeling the game gave me in my own work. Maybe if I keep trying, I can, and I can share that feeling with others.
That is one of the reasons why I write and draw because it is a good way to create and share a feeling. And that’s also part of why I play video games. Most are fun and that is enough, but sometimes there comes along something that touches you. Sometimes it’s a character, or a song, but in this case, it’s the whole thing. Many people make fun of video games. A waste of time. Brain rot. They don’t understand what a video game can really be. Much more than just a simple game. Okami. Wolf. If you can, check it out.
The Duck Who Wants to Share the Love