Video games are wildly diverse, LusiHobbits. Even within a single series, the genre and definition of “game” can be on all sorts of unexpected ends of the spectrum. Just take the sorts of game I played this week for instance.
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
Back when Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix was released over a year ago, I was excited to dive into what I remembered as the strongest entry in the series. The game looked quite good in HD just as it did for the time in SD twelve years ago – yes, twelve – but while I expecting a flawed but fun romp into my memories, I was instead struck by terrible platforming, awful level design, and gummi ship sections which were somehow worse than my memory. Each consecutive level I got to I thought to myself “oh, right, this level sucks, but I think it gets better after that.” Not the case, dear readers. In fact, the game does not stop sucking until nearly the end as I discovered recently. Out of sheer determination, I decided I should beat the game in full to get a proper decade-after look at the one of the games I loved so much as a teenager.
The strange thing is that Hollow Bastion is a pretty good location. The level design is not amazing, but it finally appears to understand what sort of game Kingdom Hearts is instead of trying to pigeonhole itself into another genre. There is no precise platforming, it rewards paying attention in a search for additional items, and the story actually becomes interesting. It is important to note that Hollow Bastion is a non-Disney level. As novel and exciting as it can be to visit a Disney world for the first time, it appears that it also massively confuses the gameplay as it tries to suit the world without straying too far from the core gameplay. Nothing good gets accomplished as a result and most of the game is lukewarm.
Also, it seems to me like the game was built backwards. By Hollow Bastion, Sora and crew have most of their important abilities and suddenly combat and movement makes a lot more sense. While many games employ a slow build to a powerful state, they appeared to be designed with that in mind. Kingdom Hearts – conversely – punishes players for not yet being at the endgame. It makes no sense. With the game’s giant feet and excellent cartoony character design, the level design needs to match. It does not and it is very noticeable a decade later when the novelty has long faded away. It is great that they added places only reachable with endgame abilities, but the whole game should not be designed to only feel comfortable at that point. I am almost done now. Just in time for Kingdom Hearts II HD 2.5 Remix. There is going to be no more room for satire with a title like that.
Tappy tappy level up
I never played the original Theatrhythm but I treated myself to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call as a mindless thing to play on the toilet or at night when my work is done. I have absolutely no idea how to feel about it. On one hand, as a general, distant fan of Guitar Hero-style games, I can appreciate the score-chasing and perfection-hunting involved in it. I also enjoy the giant track list as a way to familiarize myself with OSTs in the series that I might not be as initimate with as I am with the PlayStation entries. Leveling-up and unlocking items, characters, and even menu options are inherently satisfying for a life-long RPG fanatic like myself, but at the same time, I cannot bring myself to understand why it is satisfying for any other reason than habit. Also I hate, hate, hate the art style. I understand the need to find something to suit the artistic needs of all the entries in the series in addition to keeping a more “casual” look for the different genre the game is in, but man do I ever wish they chose something that was not the “soulless super-deformed puppet” style. Also, why are monsters more accurately mapped to the game the battle music takes place in?
Also I learned that the entire Lightning Returns OST must just be Blinded by the Light variations.
I went out looking for a cheap copy of Lightning Returns but $25 was too much for me. Has anybody here played it? Is it worth it if I skip the cutscenes?
Back to basics
I also downloaded my previously purchased digital copy of Final Fantasy Origins to my Vita and booted up the original Final Fantasy. I prefer the original graphics, but man, sometimes it is refreshing to play a classic RPG like that. Modern RPGs could learn something of the trim exploration-based storytelling present in the games that started it all.
I am apparently getting a copy of both Hyrule Warriors and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS so you can all be sure that I will be talking about those things next week. Until then, let us talk about what you have been playing and what you think about it. Do not be a Mel! Comment! (Sorry Mel).