Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dragon Quest V Diary: Part 6

(Have you read Part 5? Or maybe you'd like to check out the rest Dragon Quest V Diary.)

Rubbing the crust out of my eyes from a deep slumber inside the comfy confines of a Reinhart hotel, I see a weapons shop across the way.

I load up on...I don't know, stuff? Whatever you use to kill people with. I gave my slime a Steel Fang, but only because it's self-cleaning, and his old teeth were...phew. Also, it does a lot of damage.

Inside the castle, Henry pulls me aside and tells me that I shouldn't mention his real identity to anyone, so we can stay on the down-low. I tell him that's a stupid idea, he doesn't respond because he's a videogame character.

There isn't much to find out, here in Reinhart, now that Henry's on the lam, so I decide to check out the bar/dining area. That's when I met this cheery bunch:

It seems these guys were part of the army that raided Santa Rosa. So, the king of Reinhart thought, after Henry was kidnapped, that my father, who died trying to save the little brat, was the kidnapper? So he pillaged our home town. Alright. It's gonna take a little more than a bouquet of flowers to fix this for me. Box of chocolates, at least.

No cherry-filled ones, either. Those things are nasty.

Henry mentions that we should look for a secret passageway into the throne room and what Henry wants, Henry gets, so lets go.

After (multiple) hours of searching, I found a boat docked outside the castle. After (half) an hour of more searching around the moat around the castle, I found a passageway underneath the bridge. Now, you've seen screenshots of this game, probably played a SNES JRPG or two hundred, you understand the perspective. "Underneath the bridge" looks like this:

See what I mean?

Well, it is pretty secret, I'll give it that.

Inside the passageway, there's a waterway that ends in an underground church-type affair that effectively communicates YES, YOU ARE INDEED ENTERING A DUNGEON.

...Which we'll explore next time.


Next Time: I just told you. Are you deaf? Or, blind, rather. Nah, know what? I'm not saying it again. Eff it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dragon Quest V Diary: Part 5

(Have you read The Rest of Part 4? Or maybe you'd like to check out the entirety of the Dragon Quest V Diary.)

The trip to Reinhart goes swimmingly. With the fishes, that is.

After finishing up in Santa Rosa, I hear there's some kind of cool thing in that cave where I saved that one dude in the beginning of the game. I'll investigate that later. For now, I'm on my way to Reinhart!

Actually, first, I had to stock up on some things. Then Reinhart.

Starting out my journey, as if only to hinder, I ran across a sea dividing me and Reinhart. How did I get there before? I've been to Reinhart, how is it that it's unreachable now?

Oh, there's a bridge.

Approaching the bridge, I am halted by a rather lonely-looking guard who tells me that the bridge is only drawn when I have the correct papers. Of course, Henry uses his debutante status to get us through. Either that, or he bullied him, I can't remember.

As he lets us pass, the guard tells me he had bad experiences with Prince Henry, but he doesn't mind.

Just let us through, already, man.

Before we set out again, Brown has to make a brownie.

On the way there, a thing riding a slime attacked me. It wasn't tough, but, still, it creeped me out. Of course, it also asked if it could tag along, to which I replied yes, cause why not? I got room. And as soon as I'm out of room I'm just gonna kick it out of my wagon, anyway. Plus, his name was Pierre. This team needed a little class, and Pierre was just the Slime Knight to do it.

Pierre would bring along fine cheeses whenever he could, just to perk up the gang. Oh, sure, he wasn't the strongest guy on the team (he is, after all, a dude precariously placed on top of a slime), but morale went up gangbusters when he joined up.

Also along the way, ran into this crazy guy:

So, on to Reinhart. Oh, no, nevermind, we're there.

Walking into the town of Reinhart, I'm greeted by a nice old man with a few words of encouragement:

Well. Uh. I guess I'll...just keep walking, then? Or maybe I'll just get some shut-eye at the inn, 'kay?

[Not pictured: Lost screenshot of Inn Lady charging 40 gold for a one night stay.]

40 gold!? What're you running here, sister? Do you even match your price to competitors? I was just in the Santa Rosa Inn and they charged a song. You know what that means? No, I'm not being hyperbolic, I mean I literally played her a song and she gave me a room. What's that? Why does it matter how much money I have? Well...4,120, alright? So, yeah, I can afford it. Oh, whatever, gimme the key.

End of Part 5

Next Stop: Castle Reinhart! I still have no idea what I'm going there for, but Henry wants to go, I guess. Oh, well, this hotel actually turned out pretty nice. They got those pillow mints.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Skyrim is: "Wings at the Speed of Sound" (or Happy Thanksgiving, Let's Talking About Skyrim)

Everytime I begin a new paragraph, I'll be talking about a different Elder Scrolls game in this order: Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, etc. I'm not gonna ever mention Arena or Daggerfall because I'm computer-illitarate and can't get DOSBox going.

In this order, from best to worst (also in alphabetical order, coincidentally), is what I think of each Older Scrells games:




I'm going to try and explain why I think the way I do through a few categories that I think sum up the entirety of the three games. (Disclaimer: Throughout this..."review", I treat Oblivion like some kind of unwanted step-child that isn't old enough to get a job and not young enough to find cute.)

Category #1: Openings
In the first half-hour-or-so (an hour if you're as undecisive as I am) of Morrowind, you can't kill the first few people you meet because you don't have a weapon. Then, after you are properly equipped, you may kill, steal, and (obviously the most egregious) sleep in the middle of the town square. At any moment throughout the game, no matter how game-breaking, you may kill anyone/everyone.

The opening of Oblivion is similar, only, after you get your weapons, there are select people who, when their health is depleted, rise from the dead again and again until you have deemed that this will not be the game you continue and load your last save. There are dozens of characters like this throughout the game.

Skyrim's beginning starts off with a Half-Life-style cart/Disney ride which takes you to the area where your character will move (all by himself, ain't he special) to the next area where you will run from dragons until the next area where you will equip swords (and maces and axes and battleaxes and 2 swords and 2 maces and 2 axes) which you will probably immediately use to try and decapitate your buddy-friend who will react in no way to your gliding swords across his back. You can't kill your buddy-dude, not even a scratch, until you leave the tutorial cavern (tutoriavern?). Why? So you don't mess up the game? He also does ALL the killing in the tutoriavern. I mean, you could kill a dude, I guess. If you get in front of him, that is. By the time you get to where the action is, he's already wiped off his blood-drenched swords with the dead rat carcasses. Or the dead rat carcasses with his blood-drenched swords, I can't remember which.

Also, a lot of people complain about the fact that kids are pretty much invincible (that must be a pretty crappy 18th birthday, "Jimmy the Snot-Nosed, I'm sorry, but you are no longer immune to any attacks, disease, fall damage, stealth kills, slipping down a flight of stairs, or sleeping on your carotid artery, slicing it ever-so-slightly) and kids are really the only ones that you feel compelled to kill. I mean, really, if you complain about it, that's kind of a strange that to complain about, but it does make a lot of sense. The point is: if there's no town where kids rule the roost and act like monster dicks to you at every given turn like Fallout 3's Little Lamplight, then kids shouldn't even be in the game. I mean, they add nothing but bounding boxes and literary context, which, in a game where you can have a fireball bomb cooking in one hand and a mace swinging in the other, maybe context isn't too important. And think of all the free room you'd have with all those kids out of your way. Oh boy, I sound like a serial killer, now, let's take a quick break:


The progression from Arena-to-Daggerfall-to-Morrowind-to-Oblivion-to-Skyrim is similar to the career of one of my personal favorite bands, Wings.

Starting out with their first album in 1971, Wild Life, to which everyone replied, "What the hell is this?" Then they followed up with a great album, Red Rose Speedway, my personal favorite album (which includes my personal favorite song, but that isn't very important). Not getting any commercial or critical success, but not being exactly shunned, the band then went on to Band On The Run, their most popular record.

After that, critical success, commercial success, you name it (...spiritual?), they were on top of it. So, what do they follow that up with? Venus and Mars. Not bad. Not Band On The Run, but not bad. Has some good numbers on there. Everyone knows 'Listen To What The Man Said', and some people know 'Letting Go'. Not bad. What next? Wings At the Speed of Sound? Hm. I...alright. It's not terrible. Half of the songs are listenable--enjoyable, even. But, come on...Cook of the House? (If you're keeping tabs: Arena = Wild Life, Daggerfall = Red Rose Speedway, Morrowind = Band on the Run, Oblivion = Venus and Mars, and Skyrim = Wings At the Speed of Sound) After all that, you have the somewhat-return-to-form London Town, which was a fine album, then Back to the Egg, which was...well, it was Back to the Egg. A very experimental album. What songs aren't pretty good (Getting Closer) are pretty god-awful (Arrow Through Me). All of this, of course, is only partially analogous because Paul McCartney had 5 more careers before and after Wings.

Bethesda, however, is not Paul McCartney (you can quote me on that).


Section #2: Attitude Towards Player
One of an enemy's taunts in Skyrim is, "I've fought worse than you!" What? You're saying I'm not bad? How is that helping you? This isn't some high-class British royalty fencing match. It's a barbaric, to-the-death fisty cuffs that will end with me peeling off the underwear on your hairy ass to sell to someone (preferably someone who needs barbarian underwear). You should be trying a little harder to intimidate me, maybe?

In contrast, Morrowind's residents (not just the hostile ones) will greet you, at best, with casual racism, calling you things like "Outlander" and "Cyrodil", which I believe is racist, but I'm not sure. I mean, calling someone outlander is actually a pretty rough, if you think about it. You're basically putting it right out on front street that they're not welcome in the slightest. I had to retrieve some dude's ring before he would even humor me with responses to my dumb questions about something dumb.

I don't remember what people said in Oblivion. It was probably along the lines of, "This is for the gods!" or something. (No, I remember one: "This is the part where you fall down and BLEED TO DEATH!", there's that one.)

This is how a citizen greets an orc: "Hello, Orc." Well, alright. I suppose I wouldn't like it if a dog came up to me and said, "Hello, human." Or maybe I would. I mean, how should he greet me? He could just say, "Hello." and that might go over better. Maybe he should just say, "Hey, man.", but say it in a very condescending manner. Where was I?

Part #3: Mission Structure
One of the first missions I got in my recent game of Morrowind began with me finding a dead body just outside of Seyda Neen, the starting town. On him was 200 gold, tax records of everyone in town, and some stupid-looking robe. I talked to some official dude in the census office (or whatever the beginning building was) and told him about the dead body. He asked if I found any money on his body, to which I replied, "Uh...nope, can't say I found any...what was it that you said? Money? No, none of that." He said, "Oh, alright, I guess. Nevermind. I was gonna offer you a reward, but..." Save file successfully loaded. "Did you find any money on his body?" "Why, yes! I did." "Oh, well, I'll take that." I poised my finger over the reload button. "If you can find the guy who killed him, I'll give the reward of 500 gold, more than double the money you returned!" Oh, alright. So I found him by searching the tax records, looking at the person with the highest tab. I confronted him, he confessed, even going so far as to say he'd do it again. Then he got pissed and started jabbing at me. So I killed him. I reported back to Official Guy and he gave me my reward. Then I thought...hey...if I killed that dude BEFORE I talked to Official Guy, I wouldn't have to give him the tax money AND I could get the reward. Okay, I didn't actually think that, I read it, but still. I mean, that isn't a quest line, it's more like what a tax collector would do, in that you have to figure out what outcome of events benefits you the most. It isn't some random series of events that at the end you get gold. You actually have to understand and be able to play with the rules of what is happening. I didn't even get into the part of the quest that involves a ring the tax collector had that his girlfriend wanted to remember him.

In Skyrim, there's a mission where you stab a guy in the face.

Actually, that's not fair, I've seen some Skyrim quests and their competent along the lines of story beats. But as far as what you do, it isn't very involved. (Even Oblivion had that great 'And Then There Were None'-style quest where you have to go to a large house filled with prospective winners of a fortune if they can spend the night in the house, but you had to kill them all, one-by-one, without anyone seeing you. That was pretty good.)

This isn't about Morrowind being about CHOICE, though. CHOICE is a ridiculous buzzword that has no real meaning by itself. But Morrowind was about...optimization? What I mean is that, at any given juncture, there are hundreds--thousands of things to do. Some of those things can be done in any order, but figuring out what order to do things can yield far greater results. Example: If I get hired to kill a guy who wants me to deliver a letter to someone, I should deliver his letter, get the reward, then kill him in his stupid, smug face.

Even in the RPG mechanics, it's about optimization. How can I raise my Acrobatics without spending any time on it? Hows about I jump everywhere I go?

Optimization may not sound like an inherently interesting theme for design, but in a world with Phoenix Wright, a game about lawyers (albeit sweaty, Japanese lawyers), I don't think that's a problem.

Now, to be sure, Morrowind's quests aren't all of the same quality. There are the broken Thieves Guild quests that are broken. Like, really, really broken. Like, how did they expect this to be done by a sane human? And without mods. And I could give you dozens of examples, but I haven't really played Morrowind past...I don't know, three towns? And I only kinda skimmed them for quests. All I know is that the purpose behind Morrowind is...purposeful? (Boy, this is falling apart fast). It wasn't bold to make an open world game with lots of quests, Fallout and Diablo had it beat long before. What was great about Morrowind was its sense of a world only a game could create. Oblivion and Skyrim would strive for worlds based on Lord of the Rings, and Morrowind's visual style is certainly copped from other stuff as well, but how many quests in Oblivion were about you finding a dead tax collector? (I think I might actually remember one, or at least a similar one.)

In Morrowind, when you are being directed somewhere, you are told through landmarks and directions, rather than arrows on the bottom. Skyrim's so afraid new players won't have any idea what to do that it insults them by never walking away and grabbing a sandwich. It's always behind you, pointing at where to go, like a nervous game developer at E3, scared to death that the press-man won't understand what they've been pouring the last 3 or so years into.

I think (to tie this into Thanksgiving) I'll say that we should be thankful for what we have this year, game-wise. For every new Assassin's Creed game, there's a Dark Souls. For every Modern Warfare 3/Battlefield 3/Uncharted 3/Gears of War 3/Just Dance 3(?), there's a Super Mario Land 3D. And for every Skyrim, there's a dentist appointment.

That was too harsh. Ah, screw it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dragon Quest V Diary: The Rest of Part 4

(Parts 1, 2, 3, and the beginning of 4 can be found here. The entire series will be collected under the Dragon Quest V Diary tag.)

I started out on my new journey as an adult by promptly beating a row of Slimes that attacked me as soon as I left town. After the battle, one of the Slimes (named Slalin) popped back up and asked if he could tag along. Of course, he's the weakest sort of monster in the game, but I decided that was a good jumping off point to get my Pokemon on in this game. Also, I didn't want to be rude.

After a little palling around with him (and having to revive him after every battle that didn't involve me killing all the enemies myself in one turn), another, stronger monster asked to join the party. Disturbingly named "Brown", he was a much better addition to the gang, though I hated to relegate Slalin to the wagon where all the unused monsters go (what I've cleverly deemed the 'Monster Wagon'), but he understood it was for the good of the team. Every once in a while, I can hear the faint sound of crying coming from the Monster Wagon, but it's usually drowned out by the battle music.

With a full party in tow, I felt like there needed to be something I was meant to do, now that I'm an adult. Bar? Been there. Lost $1000 on drinks. Casino? $2000. Strip joint? Oh, I can't even remember how much I lost there.

People told me of a town to the North, though. Which is odd, cause that's what people said in the last town. How far North am I going? "Is this the search for Santa?", I said to myself. No one heard. No matter, at least it's a direction. So I went there and, surprise, it's my old home town, Santa Rosa. I had no idea that last town was so close before. Guess I should've taken a moment or two to look around down there.

When I got there, the town looked exactly the same. Except, of course, for the fact that each building now had a great big chunk out of it, and bricks and cinder lay everywhere.

A man stands inside his house, talks about the terrible tragedy that has befallen the town.
"A terrible tragedy has befallen our town."
Oh, really? I hadn't noticed the fact that we are currently OUTSIDE.
As sobering a look at this town was, there wasn't too much to learn about or do. So further North, I traveled.

Oh, okay, that's a mountain range. [Not Pictured: The Mountain Range. Or, at least the Range of Mountains You Can't Cross. Sorry.] Alright, then, west!

West was my other old town, Alcapa. In Alcapa, I asked a bunch of people if they knew who Bianca (my short-lived childhood girlfriend) was, to which they scoffed, said "no", and told me to stay at the inn. So I did. Nothing better to do. In the middle of the night, Henry woke me up to talk about his old castle. What I WANTED to say was, "So, you don't think we've had enough problems, both of our fathers being killed, us becoming slaves for ten years, your younger brother whom everyone loved is now king, and now I learn everyone I know and love is now dead from some attack on the village, and you want to visit your castle because you're a little homesick?", but the game only has "Yes" or "No" answers, and they didn't even supply me with that choice, anyway, so we're going to Reinhart, I guess.

Other things that happened there: I bought an herb. I looked inside a jar somewhere and found a small medal, after which the game asked me if I wanted to send it to the "Medal King", to which I meant to reply "No! Medal King ain't gettin' none of my medals!", but then I accidentaly hit "Yes", so now I'm medal-less and the Medal King has one more medal, as if he needs them. Also, that woman in the bunny outfit who made fun of me as a kid? This is what she had to say:

I would like a yes, please.

Next time: Getting ready for the trip to Reinhart, the trip to Reinhart, being at Reinhart, and Brown antics.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Devil's Advocate - Dating Simulations

(Devil's Advocate is perhaps a new semi-regular feature on the Thunderware Games news feed (I will not call it a blog) that details how I think nothing is truly and purely without merit and that there is a redeeming quality to everything by taking concepts, characters, games, anything at all that people find almost unanimously negative and try to play devil's advocate to it. It's part of a new program my therapist has me on called "The Positive Side of Positivity". I'm not supposed to say anything negative. Along with negative thoughts comes immediate singing of "When Doves Cry", because I simply cannot stand that song.)

I've never played a dating sim, myself. At least, one of the non-X-rated variety. Unless there is something to the relationship in the game that you can't get out of a real relationship (and that usually means it's illegal), then it's hard to find a reason why you'd want to work at it. At least, from your perspective.

But while you're actually playing the game, it makes more sense. You are no longer you, you are your character. The player-named farmer from Harvest Moon, for instance. Oh, I forgot Harvest Moon was half-dating sim, okay, I have played a dating sim, then.

When you are Mr. Farmer, you want to tend a farm and raise a family. From a narrative perspective, the prospect of farms and families sounds interesting. How many games let you have kids? Well, a lot, I guess. The Sims. Oh, The Sims! That's also a dating sim. I've played more than I realize, I guess.

In The Sims, say you start off with a single, male father who is interested in the Automotive Industry. If you court your special lady and get married, you have clear cut benefits for having her around. Because in Video Game World, in place of REAL LOVE, you have VIDEOGAME BENEFITS. She can cook, she can clean, she can raise your kid, and, if she's feeling particularly 21st Century, she can get a job and pursue the Sports Industry, a line of work she's always wanted to go after.

In Harvest Moon, however, there aren't real game benefits to marriage. I mean, hey, maybe I'm just not an experienced enough player and there is actually some kind of upside to having a wife that wakes you up each morning talking about how country living is a new and
exciting life for her ever since you and her got married, except, before that, she worked on her mother's farm. Hold on, lemme check a wiki or something if there is.


As far as I could suss out, amongst the in-depth, lengthy guides written by moon harvesters that are difficult for me, a casual moon harvester (I really only harvest small asteroids at this point) to figure out, there are none-to-barely-any-at-all benefits to marriage and dating-in-general in Harvest Moon.

When you look at dating from Persona's (3 and 4) perspective, relationships are a thing to be used as a leveling up device. And, in the context of a grind-heavy RPG (and a Japanese one, at that), that's perfectly okay. In fact, it's a pretty neat idea. Since numbers are rising up as you fight bad dudes anyway, and those numbers usually represent more abstract things like "health" and "damage", why not put a spin on those same concepts that adds a bit more depth to the game while also mixing a story in with it. To be sure, it's a completely obtuse way of sticking a story in a game, but, right now, games could take obtuse stories that still blend in over dense stories that sit like pudding skin on the game.

Of course, the main problem with all this being that this dating is handled with one thing alone: dialogue boxes. Sure, voice acting, as well, but that's no more interactive, nor no less exhausting. Although dialogue boxes are something to be handled on a later installment of Devil's Advocate. The Sims (and Harvest Moon, to a certain extent) handles it much more eloquently by putting you in charge of everything, right down to remembering to go pee before a date so you don't leak all over her new shoes. Unless she gets stung by a jellyfish, of course. That makes it all the more satisfying when you get married, and all the more upsetting when she dies of old age. In other words: you are attached to the character.

I'll tell you the worst implementation of dating sim-ing I've ever seen applied is the Mass Effect series. Or Knights of the Old Republic, I guess, but, for those games I'm I'm not sure if that's the right word. Does sentimental mean I like the way your character's head bobs up and down as you pick dialogue options? If so, then, yes, sentimental.

Mass Effect's way of interstellar fraternization (or Space Chatting) is by talking to them when you get back to your ship, inbetween missions, which wastes no resource, takes no effort, requires no thinking other then "what does my space-racist love interest want me to say about aliens?", and the options to the dialogue never feel quite clear anyway, so it feels like a guessing game, which I'll grant is generally realistic when it comes to dating. You never feel really attached to the characters, no matter how well they are written, and they are written fairly well.

Personally, though, I like the writing in Harvest Moon better. They tell you exactly what you need to know. Nothing more.

In Harvest Moon:
Girl: I like flowers.
Me: Here are flowers.
Girl: I would totally say "yes" to a proposal from you.
Me: Will you marry me?
Girl: Yes.

Mass Effect:
Ashley: I grew up in a part of Zeta filled with a plant called Milliards. Our town was right next to the largest field of it in the galaxy.
Me: Here are a hand full of Milliards.
Ashley: WHAT!? Milliards!? How dare you! Milliards are what caused the death of a billion people on my planet!
Me: Will you make sweet space love to me?
Ashley: Alright.

Regardless of how the actual "dating" is handled, from the perspective of your character, a little dating can make sense. Dating is, after all, a natural part of human existence, right? Songs focus on it, movies focus on it, literature, art. Hell, even the most artistically void of mediums can't ever take a break from it. Like cable television. And every medium I just listed shows a different aspect of it. Music expresses the moods, movies express the situations that arise during a date or afterwards, literature expresses the thought patterns of someone on a date, can't games express the machinations behind a date? Figuring out where to go on a first date, what to complement- her hair or her clothes-, what do I say when she tells me she was molested as a small child, there are millions of things that can arise from these situations, and even afterwards: balancing a relationship, deciding when to propose, buying a ring, PROPOSING, marriage life, kids, kids growing up, kids moving out, growing old. Why hasn't a game been made about this, yet? Other than The Sims, I guess.

They don't have to be just dialogue boxes. They can be any genre, just twist it a little. Got a platformer? Have your (ex)girlfriend represent the platforms that you jump on. Don't do that, it's too art-house-y, but it's a start. Go from there.

I say the verdict I've reached here is that dating sims aren't all bad. Dating is inherently a game on its own. To put it in simple terms, you can "win" a date, or you can "lose" a date. People might make fun of dating sims, saying they are things lonely people do. I suppose they say that because it deals with something people who play games are stereotypically not familiar with. Dating sims shouldn't be used as substitutes for real human relationships, but you could also say the same thing about socially-withdrawn people who watch romantic comedies and use that as their basis for relationships. It's all relative in the game of life. But everything related to life should be up-for-grabs in art. Your mind, your body, your enviroment, when you are an artist, everything you see is fodder.
I remember a quote from Chris Crawford. Well, I don't actually remember, but I'll paraphrase it, "All the time we see games that are about things, things, things, THINGS! Why aren't there more games about people?" And, maybe this is what he had in mind, maybe it isn't, but it'd be a step in the right direction.

- Nick

P.S. - May I just state for the record, at no point was I ever talking about the "Dating Sim" filth on Newgrounds or what-have-you-Flash-sites. I do believe those are as meritless as QTE's.
P.P.S. - Oh, man. Son of a...
"How can u just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that's so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father too bold
Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied (She's never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry"
P.P.P.S. - Tip of the Day for Dating Sims: Always go Redhead, never go blonde. The blondes are always the crazy ones. And not the good crazy. Drama club-crazy.
P.P.P.P.S. - Next Time: "Devil's Advocate: Escort Missions".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dragon Quest V Diary: Parts 1, 2, 3, and bits of 4

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Designer: YĆ«ji Horii
Release Date: September 17, 1992

I've recently gotten access to a proliferation of vidja games (mostly SNES ones) (What? What do you mean? What are ROMs?), most of which it is unrealistic to play with my schedule. Not that I'm working. I should be, but my time is mostly taken up with catching up on Louie and looking at Wikipedia to see what crappy Nickelodeon/Disney Channel celebrities were born in the months surrounding my birthday (apparently white supremacist ones). But, every once in a while, I like to play one of them there gamey-games. And, this week (or month) I felt like loading up an RPG. A SNES one. The SNES had a deep well of RPG's, so I didn't have to go with the obvious ones (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI...Sailor Moon RPG). I've heard good things about the Dragon Quest series and enjoyed Dragon Warrior (in theory), so I went with Dragon Quest V for the inaugural Backlog.

Now, this was about 2 weeks ago. I didn't think I'd be doing this stupid post about it, so I didn't make any screenshots or bother to remember any of the plot points, but, hey, why should that stop me from trying to recount them?

SPOILERS, obviously.

- I get borned.

- Due to child birth complicatio
ns, I guess, my mother gets dead.

- Jump forward 8-or-so years, father and I getting off a boat onto a harbor that is part of no town. Just a harbor.

- We slug it to town (Santa Rosa), everyone loves my father, of course. People treat me with little respect, as I am a child. Can't even get respect from a bar maid wearing a bunny outfit.

- But everyone does like me in that oh-look-at-the-small-child kind of way.

- While my old man talks to som
e other old men, a little girl (Bianca) invites me up to her room (Friendly Reminder: I am the same age, if not younger then her).

- Boring stuff, saved some dude in a cave, yawn.

- Old man, Bianca, and I go to other town called Alcapa and spend the night.

- Awoken in the night by Bianca, we go to rid a castle of ghosts to save a suspicious-looking "kitten" from two terrible twins.

- My fears about the "kitten" are justified when, after we save it, it joins the party as a modestly strong member of the team. Ain't no kitten casting fireball.

- Got back to Santa Rosa, found invisible fairy, teleported to fairy land via magical basement staircase, saved fairy land, blah blah blah. I'll get better at trimming the fat with these Diaries.

- Back at Santa Rosa, bedtime arrives and sleep keeps me from seeing my father's exodus from town to yet another town (Reinhart) for he was beckoned by the King.

- But, wait, no, nevermind, he was too busy praying.

- At Reinhart, King and old man talk, I meet King's son who is a spoiled, little brat. I mean that in the best possible way, m'lord.

- Turns out, dad gets hired to babysit Henry. He doesn't seem too upset by this from talking to him, but you can just tell he's a little disappointed.

- Prince Henry, in a very clever scene involving a trap d
oor, is kidnapped and taken away to a dungeon by some thugs.

- Pops rushes off to save him, I have to spend about the next three hours trying to find where the dungeon is.

- Turns out, it was right behind the castle. Go figure.

- I hope you took heed of the SPOILER warning, cause this is a doozy: father dies trying to save Prince Henry, Prince Henry and I are taken away as slaves. What's this? Mother LIVES!?

- Skip ahead 10 years, I am pushing boulders. Prince Henry has turned into a slightly better human being, if only because he's older and less of a rich douche.

- New girl in slave camp gets pummeled by some thugs, I step in and save her, kinda. Well, I take a beating, too. Henry and I end up in slave jail, which just has to be the worst thing in the world to be a slave in slave jail, and the new girl and her brother (who's a guard) show up and, not only break us out, but also help us escape by shoving us in a barrel and throwing it down the river they use to send bodies into the sea.

- Barrel somehow floats right then up to a small monestary where Henry and I are given two hots and a cot. While there, nuns nurse me back to health, give me a handful of cash, and say things that make me suspect some of the members of whatever-church-this-is were playing "How Deep Of A Sleep Is This Guy-Who-Washed-Up-Near-Our-Monastery Right Now".

- I am bidded farewell by the members of the monastery, everyone makes a pretty big deal of me leaving, I get a little wierded out by their warnings of a "dangerous path", I scoff and throw the bird as I leave, and I barely make it to the nearest town with a dead prince in my party and 1 HP.

That's that, so far. I'll continue to update on my journey as I experience it.
Next on the agenda: figuring out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing now. Then buy a sword.
- Nick

P.S. - Pay no attention to the name in the screenshots. My character's name is Nikeless. But everybody calls me Nike.
P.P.S. - The shots I neglected to get myself were grabbed off of This "Chris" character will be my alternate-dimensional doppelganger for the remainder of my journey.
P.P.P.S. - Thank you, whoever made that walkthrough on that website. I assume your name is Chris. I hope that is not too presumptuous.
P.P.P.P.S. - You know what happens when you presume? You make a pre out of 'u' and 'me'.

Monday, June 13, 2011


A Shoot-Them-Up that teaches the skills of spatial memorization. Ew, that sounds terrible, let me write that again.
A ShootEmUp that takes your teeth and feeds them to it's invisible guard dogs. Too aggressive?

A Shmup that focuses on pattern memorization. As your score goes up, everything on the screen goes slowly invisible, forcing you to survive in the dark.

Note: No, the thing at the top is not cheese, it is the Sun.