Thoughts on 2D vs. 3D Shooters

I’m honestly not sure what my first experience with 2D shooters was or when I first played one. I would love to say it was Space Invaders but that would make me a liar and I would prefer that if I have to lie to my readers, it wouldn’t be two sentences into a blog post. It is a little embarrassing to admit this, but I am pretty sure my first exposure to 2D shooters as a concept was in a Kirby game. Don’t ask me to remember which one. I understand that is a weird way to be introduced to a genre, but in fairness I pretty much grew up on Nintendo. That and there is some sort of law saying every Kirby game must have a shooter section. I am pretty sure every other experience I have had with the genre has been in a dungeon crawler. Oh wait, I have played Space Invaders since then so nevermind. That being said, I wasn’t very good at it.

My first experience with 3D shooters is a lot less all over the place. I was in high school when my friends introduced me to Halo: Combat Evolved in high school. I was utter trash at it. Especially in firefights because I could not rely on anyone but myself. At least in team matches I could potentially be a decent meat shield. Throughout the years I would occasionally return to the genre, with similar results each time. In fact whenever I was able to get a kill, it was usually because I managed to melee someone from behind when they weren’t paying attention. Not really something I should be proud of, but sometimes when life gives you lemons then you’ve got to suck them dry. Wait… I think that saying was so that you wouldn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth? I feel like something is wrong there, but I should probably move on before things actually get sour. Besides there is only so much time I can spend on how I am not good at shooters. So, I decided that I would at least try to understand why I have so much trouble adapting to 3D shooters.

Now I know what you want to say, it is because you have barely any experience playing a decent shooter. That’s most certainly true. If I hadn’t started to come across the wonderful world of bullet-hells in college, who knows if I would even be able to talk about 2D shooters, let alone shooters in general. However, it should be more than that. I don’t mean to brag, but I have played a good amount of videogames since I have been introduced to them. I wouldn’t consider myself a pro gamer, not by a long shot, but I would consider myself someone who is capable enough to get used to a control scheme after playing for a little while. So the most likely reason is because I just can’t get used to the gameplay style. I am used to going in guns blazing and having different ways to dodge around. 2D shooters usually give me the freedom to do that, whereas in an 3D environment I am not sure where I should run to or who I am even running from in the first place. Maybe I just can’t feel as exciting without knowing who I’m going after and what I’m trying to do. Maybe because 3d games are more complicated, I feel like I need more context. Or maybe I am making excuses here. After all, no matter which one you prefer the objective is the same: defeat everyone else and try not to die. And I don’t need to make this all about me. There are some games I just am not as good at and that’s just fine. So I guess my thoughts after all of this is no matter how trash you are at a certain genre, you can at least write a post about it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much to improve skills. Oh well.

Now Hear Me Out: Stories in Shooters

If you know me, you know that when I play a videogame I like it to have a good story. It isn’t a deal breaker if it doesn’t, but I like to at least have some sort of direction and understanding of the stakes. Now in my personal experience I usually see three different ways a story is incorporated into a game. The first type of story is one that is meant to have a tight fitting plot. It is designed to be an interesting story that you can experience along with the gameplay. The second is when the story is part of an overarching storyline where the storyline is part of a larger sequence. The third and final type is when the story is essentially only background noise so that you can spend time focusing on the gameplay. Now, obviously I am generalizing so there are some exceptions, but for the most part I think they play out in one of those three ways. Now I would like you to hear me out on which type I would like to see more of in shooters and, by extension, games in general.

Now let’s start with the third type because I feel like this type is the most prevalent in the industry right now. Many shooters are a one and done sort of affair with many not being referenced much after a few months of spotlight. These types usually, not always, have campaigns that do not add much playtime to the game and are usually only there to justify the game being at full price. Truth be told there is no point in justifying why the videogame companies choose to do things like this, but I feel that if you don’t want to bother putting in a decent story for the single-player campaign, then you shouldn’t be charging full price for the game. A multiplayer experience is great, but without the single-player experience it still feels like there is something missing. The problem I have is that the types of games that have this type of model to them seem to only be doing it to pump out titles as efficiently and as quickly as possible without making the experience feel like it will last for awhile. I just don’t think that is a healthy practice for both the producers and the consumers of these games.

Now you might be thinking since I harp on story so much I would like to see more of the first type I listed earlier when talking about videogame stories. Well you would be right, but that is mostly because of the fact that I mainly want them to balance out the oversaturation we seem to have of the third type. There aren’t too many shooters that have a serious focus on story, but when they do they can be really good. In the end a good story will always last longer than a multiplayer server. the thing is that most good stories involving shooters tend to deal with darker and depressing themes. That is fine, but it is not the thing that you would want to come back to each time for some fun. Ultimately the reason why we play videogames is to have fun and unwind. So, multiplayer tends to win in that regard since playing with other people is usually more fun than playing by yourself. The exceptions of course are any games in the Mario Party series as that only destroys friendships.

So truth be told I believe that the second type is that one that I want to see the most of in the industry. You know, more games along the lines of Halo where there is an overarching story that you can come back to it and it has a story that is at least meaty enough that you can be comfortable with the weapons going into the multiplayer. Is it me, or are there less and less games in the shooter genre that actually have tangible story threads with their predecessors? It is too much to ask for a bit of context while we are taking down our enemies? Just wondering if we can have more series lead to bigger stories and bigger conflicts while also allowing for fun multiplayer modes and experiences. That’s all I ask. Does that seem too greedy, because if it does then I think you are not greedy enough. Seriously, how many series in the shooter genre have established themselves long enough to be relevant and actually fall under this category? Sandbox games don’t count here. Look, you may think that the current way games are done is fine, but I think we at least try for a bit more variety.

Regenerating Health Cliché

One thing I didn’t go into specifics on is the mechanics on more modern day shooters. The entire structure for them has changed and there are certain things one can expect to see from them. One of the most notorious is regenerating health. Now while it wasn’t an entirely new concept, I don’t expect that people who played classic shooters would have believed that it would become a staple part of the genre. I’m pretty sure that starting in the 2000s everyone starting making the shift over to this formula. Although the Halo series manages to pretend they don’t by having a regenerating shield which at least makes more sense. Regenerating health is something that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you really think about it. You take about fifteen or twenty bullets and then instead of bleeding out, you hide in a corner and all of a sudden all of your wounds go away. Unless you are some sort of superhuman then by all accounts that many bullets just leads to death. Now to be fair, some shooters do start out by saying that you are some sort of super soldier, but the majority of the more realistic ones do not have any such excuse. So you have to ask then, or at least you should ask, why do they put regenerating health in as a game mechanic? Well, it would be because it is a mechanic needed for the experience. Let’s take a look at how this mechanic works.

Now shooters used to be very fast paced. They would have you keep moving and shooting anything that entered your line of sight. You could use whatever you wanted to kill the enemies before they killed you. However, the game has now changed. The goal is still the same since you still don’t want to leave a single enemy alive. The only problem is that due to the heavier emphasis on realism, to our now have to reload and can only carry limited amounts of weapons and ammo. Also, every single enemy will get the drop on you as soon as one is alerted. Presumably because the enemies all have some sort of psychic link with each other. So naturally, you will end up needing to hide a lot when you lead to reload or get some ammo or maybe just take a breath. That’s is where regenerating health bars alleviate some of the pressure and help even the scales. Since you can’t just go in and start shooting with reckless abandon, you need to pay attention to the timing. You have to figure out when to shoot, when to reload, when to dodge, when to take cover, when to grenade, when to use the bathroom, wait…. ignore that last one. Anyway, things get a lot more tactical and so having more control over your health bar should make it easier to make decisions when you need to make them. You don’t have to worry about how much health you have if you know you can get at least some of it back so long as you don’t accidentally stick your pinky finger out of cover. They’ll come for those pinkies man. So you need to play smart if you want to succeed. With all that being said, doesn’t this justify the mechanic’s placement in so many shooters. Absolutely not.

You probably got I was going to say yes for a second didn’t you? Well, if I were going to defend this topic I wouldn’t have titled this as being a cliché in the first place. I just wanted to make the point clear that I don’t hate the mechanic itself, but I do not like the way it is currently used. You see regenerating health makes the most sense in games that are built around having lots of cover and needing to find certain vantage points. The pacing is meant to be controlled that way and so it makes sense for things such as regenerating health to exist in shooters that have that type of mindset. So tell me why we have this same mechanic in almost every single game that has come out as a AAA title in the last ten years. I understand I am being a bit dramatic, but do we really need this mechanic for everything? We even see it in stealth games now. STEALTH GAMES. At least in a shooter you have to get the bad guys, but you don’t have to do any of that in a stealth game. I don’t get it. Are you just supposed to hide and suck your thumb after you get caught so everyone forgets about you and moves on? Weren’t games supposed to be getting more realistic? The least they could do is make it a consumable item that you could find more of depending on the difficulty you play on. Something more than just peace out and come back later when you feel like this time I might absorb enough bullets before needing to run away. Heck at least in Far Cry 3 it made sense that the main character could breeze through all that. He was so juiced up that he may as well have been superhuman. Although if he really wanted to be indestructible he should have taken whatever Nathan Drake used to survive half of his adventures. Look, I am not asking for a lot here. Okay, maybe I am, but can we at least take moments to consider why regenerating health has to be the default and only option for so many games? I’ve given up on shooters because at least that formula works, but if I ever see a dating sim with regenerating health then I might just lose my mind.

Thoughts on the Shooters of Today

This month I am going to venture out of my comfort zone and so we will be talking about shooters. The reason this is outside my comfort zone is because while shooters take up a considerable part of today’s industry, I am not very good at them. I don’t want to say I am awful, because I am very stubborn and in denial, but it is not my usual genre to wind down and relax with after a long day of work. In fact, I don’t know if I even wind down at all nowadays. Usually I am just trying to finish at least one of the current hundreds of games I have on backlog. Yes, there are certain shooters included in this category. So, that I smoothly and expertly got things back on topic, I want to talk a little about shooters mean to me and what I think of their progression throughout the years. To be fair, I haven’t really played videogames for long enough to encompass everything that I am about to cover, but let me just talk for a bit and see where this goes.

So shooters have gone through a lot of changes since they were first introduced. At first you were in an arcade shooting alien lifeforms in Space Invaders and then forty years go by and you are playing the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise. Things have gone a long way since the concept of a shooter was first introduced. I would say that there were two major changes to the genre as the years went on. And no, I am not talking about graphics because that should be a given here. The first big change is that there seemed to be a shift in the target audience of the shooter genre. What I mean is that there was a shift where shooters decided to focus more on the multiplayer experience than on the single-player experience. That’s not to say we don’t have shooters that have a focus on single-player campaigns, but that is no longer the industry standard you see today. Games like Doom and Serious Sam are not nearly as prevalent as games in series such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. I am not saying that there is a problem with the focus on multiplayer shooters. As someone who spend most of his life playing single-player games, usually this kind of genre didn’t appeal to me, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t fun. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t be able to keep making the same kind of game each time and still make a profit. If it still works then why change it? I’m pretty sure that has been Nintendo’s business policy for a while now. So, sometimes it is just easier to turn your brain off and start blasting. This leads me to the second big change that shooters have gone through over the years.

Now it could just be me, but I feel like a lot of early shooters involve shooting monsters and aliens. Especially aliens. We really seemed to be afraid of them back then. Nowadays I feel as though most shooters involve you shooting other people or at least other avatars. This makes more sense from the whole multiplayer shift thing that I was talking about earlier. If you somehow missed that, then you may want to get some new reading glasses. That is provided you have reading glasses of course, I wouldn’t want to assume. If I am being honest, I am not entirely sure of the reason for this change other than trying to make games feel more realistic. Maybe that’s the reason people see videogames as more violent than before when we were just trying to take out aliens. However, it shouldn’t matter what the target is as long as we are having fun. So I do want to say one thing for all those people out there who get all riled up about this sort of thing. It’s just a videogame. The only harm that might come of it is a kid breaking his hand by punching through his monitor. There is no reason to get that heated in the first place. Sorry to say kid, but breaking your hand won’t help you not be trash. Videogames should be a way to have fun and unwind, so if blasting a person in the face is more your style then it’s up to you. I personally don’t care as long as there are certain boundaries that we all agree to respect while we are having fun. I may be terrible at shooters, yes I am freely admitting it now, but at least I am honest about it and can find my own ways to have fun. Usually, it’s to go to the single player campaign, but in fairness I didn’t do any better there either. So to sum all this up, shooters have become increasing more competitive and realistic, but try your best to unwind and not take things to heart. After all, paying for a new monitor and medical bills is probably not the best outcome to losing in a firefight. If it’s Mario Party though, totally understandable.

Thoughts on Kingdom Hearts III

I think we all knew things had to end like this. Or maybe it was just me considering I came up with this plan from the beginning. I couldn’t help myself. It was too tempting to not hold off my general thoughts and ramblings of the final conclusion to this saga that has taken nearly twenty years to get to the third game. Seriously though, Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2005 and its true sequel came out nearly fifteen years later. Man, the wait must have been brutal to those people eagerly anticipating it. However, they are at least better than Valve since they are able to create the third installment of a videogame. It’s not like I have a serious emotional investment in these games to be honest. The main reason is because I haven’t really played any of them. In fact, the whole reason I started this month in the first place, other than a severe lapse in judgment, is because I found this series to be interesting. I have harped on about how complicated the storyline is time and time again, but I can’t help but be impressed with this epic storyline that has been going on for about twenty years now. That being said, that mainly applies to the story as a whole. I am not talking about each individual game since they work best as a collective series. To further elaborate, let’s actually start talking about Kingdom Hearts III.

Now let me start off by saying that the endgame where everyone comes together to save the day was everything I hoped for in an JRPG. However, I can’t help but feel that the payoff was built off by the groundwork laid by previous games in the series and this one just kind of killed time until its conclusion. Look, imagine if you were just starting this series and for some insane reason that us mere mortals could never hope to understand, you decided to start with this one. I know it sounds crazy, but if we could just go along with this hypothetical scenario for a little bit. Now, imagine you start going through different Disney worlds to get stronger so that you can unlock your powers and yet you never seem to awaken them until you have gone through the prerequisite amount of Disney worlds. In fact, some of them especially seem to just have you along for the ride with barely any actual presence in the world itself. Looking at you Frozen world. I just feel like you are just killing time and adding some things in to set up later games in the franchise. Like that whole black box thing that doesn’t come up until the end of the game. What was the point of that side story. Also, WHAT’S IN THE BOX? Sorry about that, I just couldn’t help myself. I’ll see myself out……….. not really though. Anyway I feel as though certain things could have had a bit more time to flesh them out.

I want to talk about how replicas suddenly became magic and how nobodies have their own hearts now. I feel like that sort of came out of nowhere. Was I super excited to see the reunion of Roxas, Xion, and Axel? Absolutely. Was I confused as to how it all worked out? You know it. Maybe I blinked and missed some dialogue somewhere about how they can just easily extract allow hearts to return to being human like it is nothing so long as a replica is within spitting distance. I mean Sora had to work hard to unlock Ventus’ heart! I think? Maybe? Actually, I still am not sure if the beginning of the game actually contributed to that or if maybe he just found out that the power was actually inside him all along and so now he is obligated to use it. It could go either way, but it still doesn’t explain when Roxas and Xion found their way out of Sora’s heart. Xion I can maybe understand since she was fighting with Sora and he might have release her heart unconsciously during the battle. However, there is no way he was clued into the whole Roxas plan so I have no idea how that worked out. Maybe I am just to dumb to understand what was going on at certain points or maybe I was just by cool fights that I missed some details here and there. I don’t really know for sure, but maybe that will have to just remain a mystery for me. After all, the game is still pretty good, it just could have maybe used some more side notes for dumb people like me as to how Sora is as bad as Samus Aran in keeping her powers between games. Or am I missing something else? Probably. But those are my thoughts so blame this series if you found all this confusing, because frankly I still am confused. Entertained, but confused.

The Power of Friendship Cliché

Hey everyone, it’s time for another cliché! However, I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to pick this time. Like I said before, there are so many different ones to choose from in this series. However, I realized that this was the first time I was covering a JRPG series on this blog. For the record, I am ignoring Pokémon in this instance because it doesn’t count as a JRPG in my eyes. It has no interesting battle mechanics, no heavy emphasis on story, and you don’t end up winning through the power of friendship. Sure, you can say that your little monsters love you just because you captured them in a portable capsule, but you are only fooling yourself. However, this series screams the power of friendship since that is the main motivation for our main character’s every action. Sora spends each game embarking on some sort of journey so that he can save his friends. Especially in the first two games where all he wanted was to be reunited with everyone on Destiny Islands. He just basically wanders around through different worlds making friends wherever he goes and connects the hearts of others in the process. For those of you who are not aware, this is very typical of such protagonists in JRPGs, hence why I consider it to be a cliché. However, I do not consider this to be a bad thing. In fact, I find it to be a staple of the genre. Although, that does not mean that they all play out in the same way. The most typical way is that when all hope is lost the main character suddenly receives some power out of nowhere when all hope is lost due to their friends believing in them. This series is no stranger to that idea. However, they do take the idea in interesting directions and the reason they can is due to their focus on hearts.

You see, the series is entirely based around how hearts can connect to each other. So it naturally gives the whole friendship thing a bit more weight to it. Strong bonds lead to characters overcoming great challenges because they know they are not alone. Typically in the series, that is how many of the characters recovered from the darkness. For instance, in the first game when Sora becomes a heartless after setting Kairi’s heart free, he uses Kairi’s light of friendship as a guide to return to his original self. In the second game (or third if you want to be picky about it), after Sora and Riku get trapped in the realm of darkness, the light of their friends guides them back to the destiny islands. The entire game is built on its connections to people, so it makes sense that these connections would be capable of bringing people closer together. Does that excuse the cliché from happening. Nope. Absolutely not. However, if you know you are going to just ending up resorting to that cliché anyway, then it is probably for the best that you just go all out with it from the start.

One more thing I have to say about this before I sign off for today. I want it to be understood that the only reason this works in the Kingdom Hearts series is because the series is meant to be taken that seriously in addition to having a JRPG background. Framing the game around the power of friendship is only possible because of the characters and storyline they want to work with here. That does not mean it will work it other settings. For instance, there are some games where characters get through tough situations while being all buddy-buddy the whole way through and then expect us to take this all seriously when the only trait these characters seem to have is that they are like family. They expect that just because we are with a group of characters that are near each other for a considerable portion of the game, that we are just supposed to support them with everything they have despite them being not well characterized. The only reasons it works in JRPGs is because they spend a lot of time with each character (whether you wan to or not) and because they do things in such an over-the-top fashion that you can’t take them seriously. The cliché is definitely overused in JRPGs and games with a similar feel, but it still works. So, I just ask to all of the games industry people who totally read this random guy’s blog to not have friendship be a key part of the story if you are not going to use it properly. Just a suggestion, you know, if you’re out there. Alright people, see you next week for the conclusion to this crazy month.

Now Hear Me Out: Birth by Sleep and Prequels

Now in earlier posts I have mentioned that there were some prequels that I found feel cliché and do not really add anything on their own. Now I am not opposed to having prequels to games and I want to make that point clear. Prequels can be interesting as long as they are trying to do something with it. It could just be for the sake of having something different. It doesn’t have to be amazing since it is already based upon a preexisting idea. It just has to have some reason for why it exists on its own. So to illustrate this, I want to talk about Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep so that you understand what I consider to be good for a prequel game. So let’s first start with the most important aspect of understanding good prequels and that is the continuity should be kept consistent.

You see, the problem with setting the events of the game before the events of another can be a serious challenge for continuity. I should have to explain why the timeline could end up with continuity issues, but since I love hearing myself talk I’ll talk about it anyway. Now a game series usually has its gameplay become more refined as it goes forward. So naturally certain issues that existed in a preceding title with not exist in subsequent ones. I am not saying there is anything specific to the Kingdom Hearts series that needed this treatment but just hear me out for a bit. If there were changes that were made to gameplay later, then if would be harder to justify giving those same advantages to characters you already know in an earlier point on your timeline. So then the best thing to do is to simply not base your prequel around them. In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep you play as three keyblade wielders from before the event of the main story named Terra, Ventus, and Aqua. the three of them travel through different realms while each dealing with Master Xehanort’s schemes in different ways. Along the way you see some familiar faces from the current timeline including Riku, Sora, and Kairi. Each of the three plays a bit differently from the others and have their own pieces of story to tell. So we have established a story that adds some closure to the events of the other games while not making any sacrifices to the continuity on the timeline. However, it doesn’t end there.

Now, it is one thing to create a previous storyline to help shed some light on things from the main series. For instance, the reason Sora’s nobody didn’t look like him at all was because of Ventus’ heart sleeping inside his own. However, that fact alone creates an explanation that needs its own form of closure. What I enjoy the most about this series is that everything has a purpose. While that can again be annoying since they add games on so many different platforms, they make each game feel like it is part of something bigger which I like. This is a prequel that not only answers questions that we had in Kingdom Hearts II, but it also paves the way for Kingdom Hearts III. You can’t help but respect that kind of ambition to have everything tied in like that. Of course, you only get the full effect after playing through each character’s campaign and even then Aqua is the one who actually knows the most about what is going on in the story. Terra spends most of his time just trying to not fall to darkness and Ventus just tries not to become one with Vanitas. In all honesty, Aqua might be the only one of the three who understands the full scope of what Xehanort did to her friends. However, even though the story is broken into fragments, the story at least has its own purpose.

If you haven’t seen what I am getting at here, it is probably because I beat around the bush too much. Or maybe I’m just that bad at writing. Who knows? So for the sake of making sure my point is crystal clear let me just cut to the chase. An acceptable prequel must be able to stand on it’s own two feet. It cannot be completely dependent on the original source material. It is totally find to reference things or have a similar structure to the original games, but it should have some reason for being there other than a tie-in. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep justifies its existence by adding necessary backstory to the events of the main series. However, other prequels just exist as a sideshow when writers have written themselves into a corner. There can’t be any progression if you are moving backwards. That’s just common sense. So why do we feel the need to bring in prequels that don’t add anything to the series they are from and don’t have any semblance of their own identity. I won’t name any names, at least not in this blog post, but I just want it to be understood that a prequel has to do more than a sequel to be interesting. A sequel is meant to build on a preexisting franchise, but a prequel needs to build up the existing franchise while still having its own identity. It’s crazy to think about when I put it like that huh? It’s my honest opinion though. Oh, and the game should be fun too. That’s kind of a given though. Anyway, thanks for hearing me out and see you next time!

Now Hear Me Out: Multiple Consoles and Kingdom Hearts

I see what the plan was Square Enix. You had ambition. You thought that you should use some of your greatest characters along with some of the most popular characters of all time to create an epic adventure across multiple games so that you could go nuts with all of the crazy ideas you have in your head. Now, I respect such ambition and the Kingdom Hearts series has come a long way. Here is my only gripe with that plan. Why did you feel the need to tell your epic adventure using so many different games and so many different consoles? This only leads to confusion since each game builds upon the last. It’s true that you have too much story for one game, but please tell me how you find it acceptable to just dump a bunch of important story elements in games that can have entirely different rule sets and don’t even seem relevant at first glance. To illustrate this point further, let us imagine how the development of this series went for a second.

Developer A-“Alright guys, we did great work on Kingdom Hearts. Now let’s get to work on the sequel everybody!”

Now at this point we will transition to a man named Josh and his opinions on how to move forward. (Note: Josh is a fictional character created to make a point and is in no way based on anyone that I know. I just felt like naming this guy Josh for some reason.)

Josh-“How about we do Kingdom Hearts 1.5 instead and have it be important to the beginning of the next game with an entirely different gameplay system?”

Now at this point Developer A, who will not be named since he is a sensible minded person and therefore doesn’t exist, believes this is a crazy idea but since he thinks it will be a short little side story to the main event, he thinks nothing of it and comes to regret it and this new game is on an entirely different system picking up right where the last game left off and shows important information of the upcoming villain threat in the true sequel.

Let’s fast forward again to after Kingdom Hearts II is released.

Developer A- “Alright everyone, that was great. now we can begin work on Kingdom Hearts III right? No objections?”

Josh-“…What if… we did Kingdoms Hearts 0.2 instead?”

Developer A- “Why?”

Josh-” To explain some plot holes and set up Kingdom Hearts III and the true final battle.”

Developer A-“…Fine, but not on a random console okay?”

Josh-“So…. the PSP?”

Developer A-“I hate you Josh.”

Josh- “I know. By the way, how do you feel about phone games?”

I could go on with this little bit. I really could but I want you all to take away how absurd it sounds to split plot important games across multiple random consoles and adding new threads to each on of them. There is no way that you can add that many threads to that many different games without losing track of a couple of them. More importantly, there is no way the fanbase is going to be able to keep track of all that stuff so they just wonder what exactly is going on with certain characters every few games. I mean, why pout one of the most important games in the saga on the PSP of all things? It just boggles my mind how they could spend so much time developing threads that you actually have to hunt for and yet take forever actually trying to tie them all together. I have no problem adding in prequels that lead to answering important questions for future games. I do have a problem with the fact that they thought that anyone was actually going to be playing it on a PSP. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Look, if I had to boil all of this down, I just want to say that if Kingdom Hearts IV ever becomes a thing, I don’t want to be playing it on an iPad. However if you want to talk about VR, then I might be listening.

Kingdom Hearts and the Dialogue Cliché

Why did I decide to do this again? Someone please tell me why I though this was a good idea. I understand that there were other themes I could have gone with here. So tell me what I am doing theming a month around the Kingdom Hearts series. I must have officially lost my mind. Or maybe that has been because I have been watching some of the cutscenes from the games to refresh my memory on what the heck the storyline is about in this series. Okay, now I know I do not normally start off the month with a cliché and that I have talked about dialogue as a cliché before during Sonic month. however, I am giving myself a pass on this for two reasons. The first is because this is a criticism that is more focused on the Kingdom Hearts series as a whole. The second i that since I had to suffer through it, then you should allow me to share my pain. It’s only fair.

Truth be told, I was debating for the longest time whether I should do a light and darkness cliché or a heart cliché for this one because they are such prevalent themes in the series. However, I really that I actually did believe that they were doing enough to at least make the topics interesting. I enjoy that light and darkness aren’t entirely just good and evil and that there is a bit of grey area with what is light and what is darkness. I also enjoy the topic on what is required for something to have a soul heart. The villains are definitely the ones who play with the idea more, but it great to see it brought up. So if I like the main topics so much, why do I still get annoyed each time they talk about it. Then I realized that even if the themes are interesting, hearing the exact same argument over and over can really grate on your ears. Now in my opinion, this series suffers from a different dialogue problem than Sonic games. The problem with the dialogue is that since the game largely follows the same formula for each section and so the dialogue for each encounter can become painfully repetitive. It has the same back and forth each time and so I am left with the same feeling of some bad guy saying darkness is all powerful until we knock his shadows out. You see what I did there? The point is that despite it being a interesting storyline, you rarely get to see that intrigue in the actual game. In fact, going to the Disney worlds seems to be one of the least interesting parts of the whole franchise. The reason being is that you just keep watching a bunch of different actors read from the same script. It is honestly not that much of an issue, but after a while it can start getting on your nerves.

The worst part of all this though is that while each world may have a satisfactory conclusion, the problem is that outside of each world there is no real resolution to any of these questions. While they show how darkness does have its uses sometimes, I never quite understand how powerful darkness actually is or how much of it can be used without corruption. Also I really have trouble wrapping my head around where exactly hearts go once someone falls to darkness. It is probably super obvious to some people out there and all the power to you. However, I really have no idea how hearts work at all. I really can’t even tell if a heart is different from a soul or not. I want to assume to answer is yes, but goodness it is hard to even try and commit to that assumption. The dialogue isn’t helping there either as it just kind of introduces concepts and speeds along before I even said I was ready to move on. I would go into some examples about Heartless and Nobodies and all that, but if don’t want to do that to you guys. I would much rather you guys go and look for yourselves so that you can try and answer these questions for me. You would think for a game with Disney characters in it that it wouldn’t have such a convoluted plot. Whelp, now we know. Look, I am not saying the ideas are bad or that the presentation is bad. I am just saying that they don’t mix very well. Then again, you would have to be crazy to think that things wouldn’t get out of hand when creating a franchise that combines Disney and the Final Fantasy series. How do you even come up with that anyway? No joke, I serious am curious how loopy you have to be to come up with that idea. Who created this series again? Square Enix? Well, I guess I answered my own question. Hopefully, the next series they make will have a more coherent storyline that is easy to follow and engage with….. who am I kidding? Like that’ll ever happen. I can tell this is going to be a long month guys.

Thoughts on the Resident Evil Series

Resident Evil is fortunately one of the few times zombie games don’t get depressing. The benefit this series has is that you barely have any human interaction throughout the game. At most you will find maybe two people that aren’t completely insane monster hybrids or just monsters themselves. So it has more time to focus on the gameplay elements and story. I say focus on story, but it is that kind of incredibly cartoonish and evil plot where bad guys want to take over the world so it doesn’t really matter to the whole experience. It is kind of weird though that they always want to use zombies as a way to fulfill their goals. Then again, I guess you would technically rule the world if everyone else was just a mindless husk. So, for once I will not be delving tooo deep into story because it will not do much to illustrate the point I want to make. Instead, I feel that a good starting point would be to look at the name of this series and break it down for a bit. A resident is defined as a person who has lived in an area for an extended period of time. Evil is something I shouldn’t have to define but I will do it anyway for the sake of consistency. Evil is bad. When I say bad, I mean super duper bad stuff here. So upon breaking things down here the series is about some super duper bad stuff that has been in an area for a while. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the stuff I am referring to is zombies. So when zombies have control of an area for an extended period of time then that should be what makes a Resident Evil game.

Now since we have gotten definitions out of the way, let’s look at where each game takes place. I will not be diving into spinoff games because I really don’t want to delve into story here. The first game takes place in the Spencer Mansion where you navigate the undead monstrosities within and occasionally solve puzzles that if they were in an actual mansion would be considered eccentric at best. Then the next two take place in place in Raccoon City during the outbreak of the virus that the Umbrella Corporation released on the population. After that we have a Spanish village for the next installment of the series. Then yet another village for the one after that with the main difference being that it is now in Africa. The we have the next installment taking place in a bunch of different areas. If I am being honest I do not remember the names of these places nor do I feel they are that important so we are moving on. The next installment was in a crazy residence with a family of psychos in Louisiana. Finally, the latest installment is some village in Europe. It is pretty clear to everyone at this point, especially after the latest installment that these monsters quite literally grow out of the freaking mildew. So my question is that if there seems to be no end to the amount of creatures that can pop up, then what is the endgame?

Now a series as long as this is bound to have its up and downs and it is pretty clear which games fall in which category. The thing I want to bring attention to is that when a series survives as long as this one has, it will go through a lot of different phases. It has gone from survival horror to survival action to everything in between with varying degrees of success. The question for this series in my mind is will there come a point where this series reaches an apocalyptic scenario. They seem to be on the verge of outbreaks all the time in various different areas around the world and yet we have it always contained in time. I just want to understand exactly how zombies work in this universe and if we are constantly trying to stop some psychotic villains from trying to create the apocalypse for their own personal gain. The main reason I didn’t want to talk about the story here is because I don’t know where it is headed. The most recent games have gone back to old formulas and refined them for a more modern experience, but they also leave me with more questions as to whether there is an endgame in mind or if they plan to continue this series until you wouldn’t be caught dead playing it. Pun intended. I know this series isn’t meant to be taken seriously and I don’t really intend to do so, but you have to wonder if one day Chris Redfield can finally retire and go punch boulders in peace. Thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts today and I look forward to next month. I think.