GW2 Path of Fire: Clear!!

Need to max out my Firebrand skills so I can test it out on my Guardian!

Finished all the story quests of the new Guild Wars 2 expansion, Path of Fire. There’s still a lot more to be done, but for now at least I’m going to revel in having cleared the story missions so quickly. Whoo!

Stuff I still need to do:

  • Get my jackal mount
  • Max out hero points on at least one of my characters, probably Firebrand
  • Do all the Heart quests from the new desert maps and Season 3 maps
  • Wait for Season 4 to start!

Overall I thought this expansion was a LOT better than Heart of Thorns… though that might just be because I truly hated the jungle maps. Grinding for masteries was just awful, and I hated that every fight in the jungle took frigging forever because of how tanky everything was and how enemies would respawn almost as soon as they went down. Navigating the jungle was also just such a pain, with lots of tight corridors (meaning you HAD to aggro enemies everywhere you went) and the layered maps were the worst. Practically every event was a group event, and by group I mean 5+. Even Hero Points were usually either locked behind a Champion fight or navigating the truly awful jungle layers, often aggroing tons and tons of horrible monsters everywhere. AUGH.

The desert in comparison is MUUUUUUUCH better. Hero Points are back to being mostly solo-able, with the occasional Champion that can be downed with as few as two players (or even soloed if you’re well-geared). Gaining masteries also doesn’t feel like a colossal chore, and instead feels like it happens naturally without much grinding. Heart quests are back so it’s fun to open up areas of the map again and have things to work towards besides events. Overall it just feels a lot more casual, and I say this as a good thing, because I am over thirty years old now and I just do not have the time or patience for MMO grinding anymore thankyouverymuch.

Maybe my biggest niggle about the expac is the jumping. Anet sure do love their jumping puzzles, which sucks because the jumping in this game (and all MMOs, let’s be real) is rubbish. The controls are too slippery, and the places where you can and can’t jump seem mushy and not defined. This has been the case since GW2’s inception, but with the introduction of the rabbit mount (!!!) the jumping frustration is worse than ever. Sigh.

Oh well. It’s still brilliant and fun, so let’s goooooo!!

Doldrums

Having some serious case of FF12 fatigue. I am around the 75% mark but I’m just not feeling it at all anymore. I tried breaking up story sections with Hunts, but to be quite honest those are just tedious as all heck. It was fine for the PS2 era when open-world games weren’t a dime or dozen, but nowadays, having to go to the hunting board, accept the hunts, speak to the quest giver, hunt down the thing, and then return to the quest giver, all without being able to set waypoints on the minimap, is just way too tedious. I’ve been on a break from it for a while and I feel like I really have to start kicking myself back into things and at least trying to clear the story before this game ends up being another one of those I-forget-where-I-was-so-better-start-all-over deals.

I’ve also run into a huge brick wall in Sonic Mania. I’m currently doing Hydro City Zone which, as you can tell by its name, is mostly underwater. Lemme tell you, I don’t know of anything I hate more in all of platforming history than Sonic’s underwater mechanics. You can’t swim freely, you can only “run” along the bottom, but you also have this floaty/laggy jump which means platforming takes longer as well.

What’s fun about Sonic games? Going fast and blazing through loops, right? Being underwater has a ton of slow, plodding sections where you’re just waiting for moving platforms to match up so you can slowwwwwly jump across where you will have to wait for the next set. And if you fall, have fun starting all over. Heaven help you if you happen to be too close to the wall and the platforms insta-kill you.

Did I also mention that Sonic can’t breathe underwater so you’ll die if you don’t come up for air fast enough? Yeah. Life sucks.

September game: Sonic Mania

I probably shouldn’t have bought a platformer, let alone a Sonic game. I love Sonic, don’t get me wrong, but I am just awful at them, so it has always been, so it always and forever shall be. The odds of completing this are… not great? I mean at least since it’s a “modern” Sonic game, it saves after clearing zones, so a game over doesn’t dump me all the back at the start. Still though, what are the odds I’ll ever collect all the Chaos Emeralds to see the super secret bonus levels?

Whatever though, IT’S SONIC, I couldn’t not get it.

Currently my save is right before the Stardust Speedway Zone. I love nearly everything about this game so far. I was a bit disappointed in some of the bosses, they swing between way too easy (Big Squeeze, Shiver Saw) to frustratingly hard (Heavy Shinobi). The ones in between are fine, but these extremes sort of put a damper on things.

The bulk of my Sonic memories come from Sonic 2 on the Genesis, so it’s nice to see the remade levels. My only gripe is Chemical Plant, which I hated back in the day and HAAAAATE now as a thirty-something adult who doesn’t have the time or patience for annoying level design anymore. You know that part after the checkpoint where you’re put underwater and have to painstakingly wait for the moving platforms to match up so you can slowwwwly jump your way back up to the top? And then once you get to the top, it’s ridiculously easy to fall through the fake platforms back to the bottom where you have to slowwwwwly do it again? Yeah. That sucked as a kid and it sucks now as an adult. Whyyyyyyy

I think that sums up my feelings towards this game, and Sonic as a whole. I love it, and also I hate it, and also I love to hate it.

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

My FF12 team!

I’ve been slowly winding my way through FF12:TZA. By slowly I mean slowly. I’ve had this game pretty much since it released in mid-July, but I’m still only just over halfway through. I’m currently in the ancient city Girguvegan. I didn’t put much thought into my classes, so my license boards are kind of a mess. Luckily, that’s not something a bit of grinding can’t overcome.

It’s been such slow going because, for starters, I already technically beat this game ages ago when it released on PS2. Not much as changed, so there’s not much keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Not only that, but can I just come out and say that it feels like a lot of this game is a headache just for the sake of switching things up. There is no reason, for example, for areas like the Feywood to have a garbled minimap. None at all! You can see the regular map with no problem, so the only thing a garbled minimap does is make you stop and open the map every three steps to figure out your orientation. It’s not fun, it sucks.

I also cannot for the life of me figure out why they didn’t add gambits for “If Ally = Unbuffed, Then Buff.” I mean I guess that would make it too easy to keep allies constantly buffed, but uh, who cares? There are gambits for “If Ally = Buffed, Then…” so why not the opposite?

I still love this game to death and 12 is definitely one of my favorite FFs of all time, but the flaws are really starting to stand out during the midgame doldrums.

Status

Guild Wars 2: odds and ends

I’ve long since given up on the idea of ever being a hardcore Guild Wars 2 player. Right now, I’ll just consider the game Completed when all of my toons are level 80. I’ve still got two left, my necromancer and ranger, both of which are in the 50ish range.

I also recently cleared out Living Story: Season 3 on my guardian and today polished off Season 2 on my elementalist. Just waiting for Path of Fire to hit on the 22nd!

August game: Pictlogica Final Fantasy

I was originally planning to get Splatoon 2 out of obligation as a Switch owner, but while browsing through the 3DS eShop, I knew I had to get this. I’m such a hopeless junkie for Picross. Forgive me, for I am weak!

This is a freemium title, but I splashed out and paid to unlock the full thing (3,000 yen). This might have been a mistake though since the free version’s timed unlocks at least helped me to put this down once in a while. With the game fully open to me, it’s become an obsession, as does every other Picross game that gets into my hot little hands. I’m currently on level 17 of 32 (?) despite only getting it a few days ago.

Thoughts so far: I like that, unlike Pokemon Picross before it, the boss fights aren’t gated behind random daily timers. I personally hated having that F2P sense of urgency hanging over me if I wanted to catch legendaries, so this more chillax and leisurely approach in Pictlogica is very appreciated. I also like that Mega Picross puzzles are unique and mixed in with the regular ones rather than being alternate versions of regular puzzles you already cleared.

Although I appreciate that you can totally skip over the battle stages and progress without having to do them, I’m not crazy about the battles themselves. Most of them are fine, you battle through and win new Memoria (FF characters) to add to your roster. However, a lot of the end-level boss fights tend to be stupidly overpowered. If your Memoria are at level cap, most times you will wipe to a 1HKO attack. You are supposed to just skip over them for the time being, continue progressing until you get a new level cap, then come back and clear out old bosses. There aren’t any penalties for wiping, unlike Pokemon, and there are no cooldown timers and the like to be angry over, but it can still feel frustrating that you lost because you weren’t supposed to attempt it yet, rather than because you did anything especially wrong.

Oh, and leveling up your entire roster of characters takes way too long. That’s my biggest nitpick, maybe. (Also not a fan of the BGM during the puzzles themselves, but who keeps the volume on when playing puzzle games?)

Anyway. These are a lot of words for what is basically “mobile F2P port of Final Fantasy and Picross on 3DS.”

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Awesomenauts

Awesomenauts had a big update at some point when I wasn’t looking. I haven’t been a regular player in months, and even when I did play a lot it was only ever private matches with friends versus bots. Still though, we put in enough hours to get up to Prestige 5 before the entire system got chucked out. I doubt I’ll ever play long enough to see Prestige 6 under the new rules. Oh well.

At least there are cute Gnaw profile pics now.

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Retropie Pics

I know, I’m about two weeks behind on this post. Anyway, the Famicom stickers came in and our Retropie looks very cute!

It is also considerably smaller than you’d think, and takes up hardly any shelf space. Here’s a picture of Henry and the Retropie to scale:

* Cat not included

Of course, not long after putting together the Retropie, the Steam Summer Sale began and we completely forgot about playing old retro games in favor of new awesome indie games. C’est la vie.

Retropie

I finally decided to sit down and put together a Retropie for our living room. I’m still waiting on a few more parts to come through before I get any pics up, but so far it’s been great.

I made a Retropie a couple of years back and we used it to play games on our projector, but it was such a hassle to have to set up every time. The projector had built-in mono speakers with awful sound quality, so we had to get an HDMI audio splitter that fed into a pair of computer speakers. Honestly, the jump in quality wasn’t even that great. On top of that, we don’t have a screen, so we’d just project the image onto the wall of our bedroom. That meant every time we wanted to use it, we’d have to lug out all the cables and set it up, then break it down when we finished. It was fun but far from ideal, and such a PITA that we hardly ever did it.

This time around, I’ve decided to do it properly. No more faffing about with projectors and cables, I’m just going to stick it in my entertainment center the way games are meant to be played®. I’ve moved up from a RasPi B+ to a RasPi 3, as well as upgrading my clunky Logitech F310s to the very cute FC30 controllers from 8BitDo. I’ve got the official case, and I’m waiting on some very cute Famicom-themed stickers to come into really seal the deal. I’ve got Retropie v4.2 set up and running, as well as the Pixel-Metadata theme for Emulation Station. It is all just too cute.

I ran into a bit of a snag at first because I was drawing power from a power bank instead of plugging directly into the wall, so a lot of games (SNES and GBA) had crippling lag and audio sync issues. However, switching to a high-speed AC adapter (the one I use for my Xperia phone works nicely) into the wall seemed to fix everything. I’m going to pick up the official RasPi charger at some point this week. I’m also planning to upgrade my microSD from its current 4GB to a much roomier 32GB when I can. (But for those asking, yes Retropie seems to do all right with just 4GB, so long as you don’t put in too many games.)

I’ll have pictures up as soon as those stickers get in!