Shining Force 3 and game reviews: Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2, Walking Dead, Portal 2.

Not a lot of heavy lifting on the blog today.  I’m still running a fever and didn’t sleep well and Michaelyn had dentistry work done and is all numb.  So how about some lighter fair like game reviews?  :D

First, I’ve managed to find the English-translated roms for Shining Force III!!!  Why is this so awesome?  Well, back in the early to mid 90s there was a golden age of RPG games.  That was when we were lucky enough to have masterpieces like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Secret of Mana, Earthbound, and others.  It was a glorious time!  One of the series that flew under the radar at the time, but was every bit as good (and which has since developed a following amongst retro RPG nuts) was Shining Force.  The original and its sequel were both released for the Sega Genesis and my brother and I rented and re-rented the first continually.  We also pined for the sequel which never showed up in any of our video stores (which is probably why it’s a sought after cartridge for collectors).

Anyway, later emulators would be a thing and I would finally taste the glory that was Shining Force II.  It was so good!

Then I learned that there was a third game made for Sega Saturn.  The game was released in three parts, but wasn’t initially translated and released in the US because it came on the very back end of the Saturn’s life span.  Eventually the first CD was released with a mangled story that gave closure, so the fans hopefully wouldn’t lament not getting the last two of the three chapters.  Well, the fans did lament, and a translation project was launched.  And now, I have the roms for Shining Force III in English!  W000t!  I will undoubtedly spend a fair portion of December playing through this beauty!

Other games I’ve played in the last few months:

Borderlands 2: B+

Solid game for multi-player fun.  It really does rock with a group (maybe we can get some godless peeps together for a game come December).

The single-player was a little blah, though.  The voice acting is solid and the controls are easy to pick up, but it got too repetitive.  Handsome Jack is the real hero though.

The game doesn’t get an A- because a week after release they put out some DLC which most of us had to pay for if we wanted to play the new mechromancer class.  That’s right, presumably they produced a whole new class, complete with artwork in a week.  Or, more likely, it was ready at release and they just wanted to bilk a few extra dollars after we doled out $60 for the game.

Torchlight 2: A-

Dungeon crawler that runs smoothly and is actually a lot of fun.  Way cheaper than Diablo 3 and yet infinitely more enjoyable.  Although, to be fair, so is a root canal.  Pick it up for $20 if you miss old school Diablo and want to see a simple, but vast improvement on the idea.

The Walking Dead:  A

How had I not played this game?  It’s a story driven zombie survival game.  Ordinarily I like more blood and guts, but this one is so well produced that you actually feel like you’re in a movie.  I always watch zombie movies and yell at the characters for not making the obviously right choices.  However, when I’m put in those situations, the choices aren’t always so obvious.  They are also continuing to release new episodes, so the replay value of this one is pretty high.  At $25, it’s a pretty good deal.

Portal 2:  A+

I actually never played the first Portal game, but now I may have to.  This is what Adventures of Lolo could be if you made it 3D and game it a sci-fi twist.  Plus, there’s a two-player mode which Michaelyn and I have played partially through.  If you like puzzlers, this is a great pickup!

I also have a new tablet (an ASUS Transformer).  I got it a few weeks ago and, frankly, I’m not sure how I lived without one.  It runs powerpoint, so no more lugging my monster gaming laptop around with me when I travel.  The TSA will be grateful.  The other upside is that now I can game on airplanes!  Toward that end I’ve grabbed the remakes of Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy III.  I’ve been able to drop about ten minutes into FF3 and can’t wait to travel to my next gig so I can justify playing it some more!

I remember playing the first Final Fantasy.  I was so sad to abandon the franchise after FF12 (X-2 was the biggest pile of shit on the PS2), despite what a masterpiece I thought FFX was.  The updated graphics and game play for the original have me dying to play it again!  Gaaaaaah!  So many games on my retro list for December.

I will probably play them in this order:

1.   Shining Force III
2.  Final Fantasy III
3.  Final Fantasy

That’s how you know I’m a retro gamer – I’m going to get through all the old school favorites before I even start trying to conquer Portal 2!  :P  Who do I have to kill to get a FF4 and FF6 port with updated graphics like these?

MORNING HAPPINESS: This is acceptable.
GAMING & GAY RIGHTS: League of Legends tournament that limited number of trans players reverses decision.
PERSONAL: My wife holding a brain.
Gaming and Religion
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Yes, play the first Portal! Aperture Science – we do what we must because we can.

    My daughters and I had the closing theme song to Portal stuck in our heads for two weeks! (Thanks to Jonathan Coulton). Then we got the theme song to the second one stuck as well.

  • Nate Frein

    I have not had much luck getting sega saturn emulation working on my computer (and I really want to because I missed the Panzer Dragoon Saga boat). How do you work it?

  • Nox

    The programming team that made Torchlight 2 had a much better understanding of why Diablo was fun than the company that made Diablo 3.

    • Chrisj

      That’s because the people responsible for making Diablo fun were all working on Torchlight 2, not Diablo 3. (They also did a beta that was, you know, actually a beta, and changed a whole bunch of stuff because the players said “this feature is good, but it would be better if it worked like this”. It was a pretty amazing game even then, but they applied some serious polish between then and release.)

  • Bryon Roche

    You forgot Ogre Battle!

  • Kaoru Negisa

    Did you see Jim Sterling’s video on the use of children in media as a generic conflict because of our instinct to protect them regardless of how stupid and useless they are? What got me to play Walking Dead, other than it being a Tell Tale game, was how he described Clemintine as how we should use child characters, i.e. make them real people with strenghts, weaknesses, and complex personalities. I can buy into Clementine, I care about her and I make decisions with her in mind because she matters to me as a player.

  • Taneth

    There are a couple things I need to say about your BL2 comments. First off, Gaige was released three weeks after release, not one. And Gearbox was entirely open and transparent that she was being developed before the game was out, and would not be ready for release. She was freely given out to all who pre-ordered, and to everyone who buys the season pass, which if you enjoy the game, you really should anyways, since it gives you access to all the future dlc at a much cheaper rate. Normally I wouldn’t care, but when you accuse gearbox of all people of trying to bilk people out of money, it just irks me.

    • Stogoe

      It’s a pattern of behavior from game designers, though. Release the barren husk of a game for twice what it’s worth, then make the customer bleed through the nose for content which should have been included on release.

      • Sunny Day

        If this had any similarity to what Gearbox did, you might have a point.

      • RuQu

        But this isn’t the same. Even if you didn’t pre-order, the season pass included the Mechromancer for free, not the 25% off of the other DLC. It clearly supports their claim that the class simply wasn’t ready yet.

        I simply pre-ordered it, and then shelved it for a month instead of playing it on release day. Problem solved.

  • Krisko

    Are you doing this on a console or PC?
    Also, BL2 might have been valid in charging for the add-on if the disc was full (something like 6.5GB). Although Portal 2 released a lot of free DLC because not all of it would fit on a disc. Well, they’re always gonna bend you over on some aspect of the game.

    • Sunny Day

      How much time after the release of a game has to go by before a company can justifiably charge you for additional content?

      • Stogoe

        Six months? A year? It would be slightly more defensible if they didn’t charge you $60 for an empty box and then come back at you for another $30 two weeks later for the actual content.

        • Sunny Day

          Sense, you make none.
          Perhaps you should cut out the hyperbole and try saying what you actually mean.

      • Avicenna

        DLC is fine if it expands on the world which you play in in a positive manner. Either by telling a “Story” or giving you a new way to play.

        Mass Effect has an example of a good and bad DLC. Lair of the Shadow Broker is “good”. It’s a piece of story independant from the main line with little to no effect. Liara’s (spoilers) story post ME1 is explored a bit and you get to be a part of them. Her story has little to no bearing on the main storyline. It doesn’t “explain” anything vital.

        Mass Effect 3′s DLC is however bad. It’s released early, it’s designed at flogging more units and it does so by creating a faux mystery. (Spoilers) It doesn’t give you a new way to play the game. It doesn’t give you a new perspective (Honestly? Getting Grunt in it would have been nicer…), it gives you the MOST IMPORTANT ONE. It gives you a prothean to play with. A prothean who interacts with your crew and tells you about stuff that answers a tonne of questions.

        That is bad DLC. It punishes those who don’t want to pay with vital plot rather than provides those who do pay with a new way of looking at existing plot.