Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rogue Galaxy session 3

Knowing I needed to have the Factory Key to continue, I began searching.  I found two chests but neither contained the Factory Key.  There's also these locked chests that require keys I don't yet have to open, I can only assume I'll get these keys later on and then get to experience the fun of going back through all previous areas looking for chests to open with them.

So basically, grinding session.  I found that certain enemies dropped an item that a bunch of my characters needed for various things in their respective Revelation Flows, so I stopped to farm for a while.  Strangely, during this, the game told me after a fight that my inventory was full and I'd have to drop something.  Even though I have two free rows on the third tab and three entirely empty tabs of inventory space.  It seems like I can have a max of 104 inventory slots used currently.  Maybe that'll increase sometime soon?  Or maybe I should sell stuff or do item synthesis.  I dunno.

After going all the way back to the entrance to the place I'm in and working my way back to the door, I found zero unopened chests that didn't require keys.  I am now thoroughly confused as to how I'm supposed to get the Factory Key so I can continue with the game.  I'd look it up, but I'm really trying to do this first playthrough without any guides...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dream Fiction: Jungle Planet

A few nights ago I had this dream that actually ended up being the basis for a good story.

It morphed a bit between when I woke up and when I got to the computer but it got more coherent as it morphed so I think it'll be all right.

It starts with a group of colonists on a jungle planet.  The planet is known to be inhabited, by primitive tribes that wear loincloths, headdresses, etc.  Most of these tribes are not too fond of the colonists, but there are a couple tribes that are friendly.

The main characters are a couple named Jack and Audrey.  Last names unknown.  Also, this is the rare story I write without a main character that's supposed to be me.  I guess that makes it better than my usual stuff.

I have ideas for plot points further into the story, but no inspiration to continue writing it.  I might post the plot points/spoilers/whatever you want to call them at some point, but not now.

Edit: over two years later, I have posted the aforementioned plot points/spoilers/whatever.

The story begins after the break.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rogue Galaxy session 2

This session can be summarized by saying that Zegram is a douchebag.

I wandered around the jungle planet for a while looking for what I needed for my ship, which was a fruit that produced an oil for the engines.  After a while of running around I got the good word passed to a rather xenophobic village and was allowed to enter, where I then had to save a girl from being sacrificed to a god to try and end some nonsense.  Zegram disappeared partway through and appeared after the big boss fight with the necessary oil ready to go.  Because of defiance of said god, the person I had been fighting with got exiled and decided to come with me.

So I now have my ranged character, Lilika.  She's pretty decent too.

After that we flew to our actual destination, the most technologically advanced planet in the galaxy.  Here my task was deceptively simple: renew the ship's galactic travel visa.  Thanks to Zegram and a stupid idol girl this led to me having to break out of jail, and then some other douchebag named Jupis, whose name is pronounced "jew piss", took over the company that houses all the computers for the galactic travel visa stuff, so I got sent there to go kill him or something.

My characters have a fair amount of abilities by now, except for Zegram, whose Revelation Flow I stopped adding items to after he started being a douchebag.  The 5-hit combo things are pretty awesome to watch.  I ultimately stopped playing when I got stuck in a room because I'm derping and can't find the factory key I need to continue.  I'm sure this will clear itself up after I get some sleep.

I didn't really set aside any time specifically to grind experience or weapon stuff, but I seem to be advancing in level quite nicely as-is.  I know I'm not overlevelled because my characters keep dying.  Sadly I'm not yet at the point where I get 100% control over who's in my party.  That and getting world map travel are always two of the more major milestones in any RPG anyway.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts About Rogue Galaxy Thus Far

I'm not very far into the game, which is touted as being over 100 hours long.  I expect to take quite a bit longer than that simply because it's my nature to explore absofuckinglutely everywhere and do absofuckinglutely everything before continuing a role-playing game's story.

First off, how did I even find out about the game?  After all, there's no prior mention of it here, and then all of a sudden I have it and am playing through it.  I found out about the game a couple weeks ago when I was at a friend's place helping him pack the last truck-full of stuff to complete his move to Maryland to live with his girlfriend.  Being that he ran MAGFest from its second incarnation through its ninth, he's got a fuckton of gaming-related stuff pretty much everywhere.

I spent a while playing random games I'd found for the GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance when there wasn't really much left to do and we were sitting around drinking the remnants of a keg of Woodchuck.  Among some of his stuff was an old gaming magazine, the exact name of which I've forgotten.  The cover story was about Rogue Galaxy on the PS2.

I will admit that the entire reason I flipped back to the article about the game was the female character depicted on the cover of the magazine.  You get introduced to her just after fighting the first boss, and her name is Kisala.  After reading a bit about it, I was basically convinced I needed to check it out.

The game starts out with the area you're in being under attack.  There's also some back story involving the planet you live on essentially being enslaved by people from elsewhere with lots of military power.  These people are, surprisingly enough, relatively useless against the attack that's happening.  You control the main character, Jaster, and he decides in cutscenes to run in and take care of things himself.  Almost right away you meet a mysterious hooded character who fights with you for a while and then leaves, gifting you his sword as he leaves.  His identity is made pretty much obvious a little bit later.  Shortly thereafter you meet the comedic relief duo of Simon and Steve, who so happen to be controllable characters.  Simon is short and stout and speaks with a Scottish accent, and Steve is a tall, thin robot.

Throughout all of this the game is educating you on its battle system, which is a bit tricky at first but ends up being really neat once you get the hang of it.  It's an action RPG, and battles take place in a manner fairly similar to the ever-popular Tales series, where you can run around and attack at will and all characters can be doing stuff at the same time.  However, this is only a singleplayer game.  It actually has some options and features geared towards making the task of controlling three characters simultaneously easier.

You can set each character's battle behavior, and configure a list of their available skills that they will suggest at any given point in time.  Whoever you're not controlling will be controlled by the AI, basically.  The suggestion thing is actually pretty cool.  Periodically in battle one of your party members will suggest one of their skills, a healing item, or whatever, and you can tell them to do that with the press of a single button.  In addition each character has a primary weapon, typically a melee weapon, and a sub-weapon which is typically ranged.  The sub-weapon slot seems to be more of a utility slot though, so I'm hoping I'll get a true ranged character at some point further into the game.

You can also press a button to bring up a menu and manually activate people's skills, use items, change equipment, or swap which character you're controlling.  Doing so pauses the battle momentarily.  So basically, they're giving you every tool you need to make a battle system like this one work well.

Story-wise, it seems pretty good so far.  Jaster's tired of being on the planet and wants to go up into space.  Simon and Steve are space pirates who are actually looking for the mysterious hooded character, but mistake you for him since you have his sword.  Jaster's basic train of thought is "Well, whatever, I'm not the guy they're looking for, but going with them will let me go into space.  I wonder how long it'll be before they figure out I'm not actually the guy they're looking for...".

Once you get on the ship you meet a few other characters, including a mercenary like the one you were mistaken for, named Zegram, who joins your party along with Kisala.  I haven't actually seen him in action yet but he looks pretty neat.

Obtaining skills works through a system that's basically a simplified version of the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X.  You need various combinations of items to unlock abilities and once you do, you can then unlock adjacent abilities.  The items you use are gotten from battles and shops, and are also generally restorative or buff items, but a few seem to have no other use.  You usually have the items to spare when you want to unlock something, so there's no real disadvantage anyway.  The process of unlocking new abilities for any given character ends up being quite straightforward, and a little time spent killing enemies to get items and money to buy items can benefit you in the process.

Graphics-wise it's among the best of what the PS2 has to offer.  What I'd really like to focus on is the functionality of the graphics, though.  Certain things in an RPG naturally need to stand out from the surrounding environment.  I'm thinking mainly chests and save points.  The chests will actually glow once you're close enough and looking at them, and the save points are incredibly hard to miss.  The save points also have extra functionality, in that they let you teleport from one to another in the area you're currently in, which makes for pretty decent fast travel.  Also, periodically you'll kill an enemy with a bounty and you can turn your battle record in for a reward at a save point.

What I've heard of the music so far has been great.  No complaints here.

Gameplay-wise it's solid since most of it revolves around the battle system.  However I do have some gripes here and there.  I wish I could zoom the camera out a bit further as I'm wandering around any given area.  I set the camera to be as far away as possible but it still seems to be too close to the ground for my liking.  Those are relatively minor gripes, though.

I'll conclude by briefly revisiting the story and then my usual closing thoughts.  After getting on the pirate ship you go down to the deck to get a good look at a particular space feature whose name I've forgotten that you're flying by, and happen upon Kisala.  Naturally you get to talking, which is interrupted by enemies attacking.  After this the ship is damaged and is forced to crash-land on a jungle planet, where you need to go hunt for stuff to fix the ship.  The moment where you arrive on that planet is where I realized I'd just spent over two hours on essentially the introductory areas of the game and that I should save and shut it off or I'd never get any sleep.

That brings me to my closing thoughts.  I can see that this is a very good game that I will lose a good number of hours of my life to.  I'm fine with that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Future Gaming Plans

Because planning is good.

Sometime in the near future I hope to rope a friend into playing Magicka co-op.  That is, if we can get our computers to connect to each other.  I'm behind a NAT and can't host because Magicka freezes, and he's on a university connection.

I also hope to get some Portal 2 co-op in.  Either that or I'm uninstalling to get my 11GB of hard drive space back.

In the console realm of things, I'm going to be playing through Rogue Galaxy on the PS2.  I've already beaten the first boss and the game seems to be pretty good so far, so I'm looking forward to dumping hours of my time into playing it.  I hope to get Rogue Galaxy done before the summer arrives, because then it's time for a lingering project of mine.

I call this project "Project 'Bout Fuckin' Time".  This project entails beating both a Legend of Zelda game and a Final Fantasy game.  Because I haven't done either of those yet.  Lined up to be knocked down are The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX and Final Fantasy IV.

Technically speaking I have a save in Link's Awakening DX that's on the eighth dungeon, but somehow I missed getting enough of the stupid seeds or acorns or whatever to get the second level sword.  So I'll be starting over from the beginning.  I'll also be playing it on my GameCube thanks to the Gameboy Player.

As far as Final Fantasy IV goes, when I got it along with Chrono Trigger in the PSX collection Final Fantasy Chronicles, I got it to the first save point, saved, and shut it off.  So there's still a lot of work to go there.  I really just bought the collection to get Chrono Trigger...

Also I have over a dozen games on Steam that I haven't even touched since getting them.  Not even joking.  Damn you, Humble Indie Bundle...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Small Bits of Food

I have a few food-related posts I want to do, but I don't really have a lot to say about each one.  So I decided to combine them all into this one post.

SuperPretzel Sofstix

These are small snack-size breadsticks with cheese stuffed inside.  The concept sounds great, after all, bread and cheese do go well together.

First disappointment: You don't get very many per package.  I think I got 12 or so.
Second disappointment: The directions.  They say to heat them in a 350°F oven for 5-6 minutes.  I preheated and popped them in for 6 minutes, then sampled one.  It still had cold spots.  To get them warm I had to double the stated cooking time.
Third disappointment: The bread tastes horrible.  The cheese is fine, but the bread just has a bad taste and outer texture.

Overall: Don't buy.  If you must, and you're preparing them in the oven, double the stated cooking time.

El Monterey Taquitos

I know I've posted in the past about switching to Jose Ole, but El Monterey is comparable in price and has a better variety of flavors.  I was specifically happy to find that Giant carried the steak ones as well as the chicken ones.  I was getting rather bored of chicken taquitos.

Then on our usual post-meeting, post-dinner Wal-Mart trip with CAINE, I walked down their frozen aisle and saw that they carried two more flavors: Southwest Chicken, and Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.  I've had both and they're awesome.  I've had other El Monterey products before (their burritos/chimichangas) and to be honest they're all great.

The Southwest Chicken taquitos just might get me back into eating chicken taquitos.  I'd never thought about coating the outside of the taquito with something before, but these have seasoning on the outside and are quite delicious.

The Bacon, Egg, and Cheese taquitos are pretty good in their own right.  They're basically miniature open-ended breakfast burritos.

Overall: Great stuff.

Totino's Pizza Stuffers

Pretty much everyone should be familiar with Totino's Pizza Rolls.  Hell, I even found them at a Chinese buffet place a few years back, which sparked a whole thing about eating them with chopsticks.  Anyway.

I happened upon these at Wal-Mart and became hooked pretty much immediately.  The size is just right, the format is just right, and the texture is just right.  It's essentially portable pizza in a nice soft crust.  My only wish is that there were more in a box.

Overall: I'll go with the theme of the second sentence in the second paragraph.  Just right.

FarmRich Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers

You're probably familiar with White Castle's burgers and how small they are, right?  Well, guess what.  These are even smaller.  Which, oddly enough, makes for better snacking.

Rather than having a patty of ground beef, they have small balls of ground beef.  It contributes to the small size and overall snack-friendly form factor.  You can just toss a few in the oven and end up with a nice snack.  To top that off, you get around 20 in a package.  In other words, there's plenty of snacking to be had.

Overall: A great way to bring hamburgers into the realm of snack food.