Sunday, September 28, 2008

8-bit Fidelity

I have an interesting relationship with Mega Man 9. The deaths are cheap, the checkpoints few and the patterns unforgiving. Yet, there have been several occasion where I've actually smiled after a die. I thinks it's because I understand that the old-school mechanics and difficulty were a design choice. This is the way the game was meant to be, and it's a welcome change of pace from the admittedly challenge-deprived Dark Cloud.
Still, with my rapidly growing list of games and even more rapidily growing list of responsibilities, I don't know if I'll be able to allocate the time  that Mega Man 9 deserves. Maybe once October 6 or 20 rolls around, though…

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Dark Cloud was hard to get into at first. Explore a dungeon level. Leave the dungeon. Restock my supplies. Go to the next level. Repeat. On occasion something more interesting would happen. I might break a weapon. Maybe I'd lose a character and half my money to foolishness. Regardless, the game was becoming less and less rewarding. Then, I started getting into the Georama mode.
In Dark Cloud, each area has a village area and a dungeon area. The village is mostly empty when you first arrive. To fill that village, you have to find Alta, which contain houses, shops, people, everything you need to rebuild.
For one, this appeals to my affinity for collection. Each level becomes a chance to expand by acquisitions rather than an aimless search for the exit. Each piece collected in turn fuels the next appeal aspect of Georama. But, rebuilding the town isn't merely about collecting all the pieces. Each resident you rescue has certain aspirations for the placement of their homes. The game essentially becomes a puzzle, making sure this home is close enough to the shop while keeping enough tree around that home, all in a limited space. For me, the end of the area comes when I've completed the town at 100%, not when I beat the dungeon boss.
It all comes full circle, though, as the more you build up the village, the more items you get for the dungeon crawl, some necessary for the progression of the story, some merely to ease the difficulty. Suddenly, I'm no longer trapped in a level-by-level grind to the end boss, but an entertaining cycle of battle and building. Now if I could just make it through a dungeon without breaking my best weapon, I might start to fully enjoy myself.