It’s that time of month again.
Best Performer: Stop Quitting Early
This past month I tried to take things a bit easier. I deliberately forced myself off of social media, and also made a concerted effort to only check in on the blog once a day. I’d developed a habit of checking Twitter and my blog whenever I was bored, instead of addressing the underlying boredom. By focusing on something productive instead, I got a lot more things done around the apartment, while also spending more time playing games. Funny how that works.
I’ve also been thinking on what direction to take the blog in. When it comes to blogging, I don’t feel like I’ve had a clear goal for a while now. This has caused me to coast listlessly from post to post, which hasn’t felt great. I know that probably seems strange because I’ve had a higher output this year compared to past years, but I’ve mostly been flying by the seat of my pants.
To that end, I believe my first goal is going to be leveling up my English. I was talking with a fellow blogger, who shall go unnamed, and they pointed out I could stand to improve my grammar. They also graciously agreed to help me improve in that department, so I’m currently getting a crash course on grammar rules. I’m not the greatest student, but there are a few things they’ve pointed out that will likely help with the overall quality of my writing going forward. Here’s hoping I don’t prove to be an unteachable student.
Throughout November, Ian from Adventure Rules was playing a Pokémon Firered randomizer on his Tuesday night streams. As someone with a strong nostalgic affinity for this era of Pokémon, this spurred me to pick up one of the GBA Pokémon games myself. I decided to play through Emerald and have concluded the game has a lot of problems. Despite this, it was still fun to play through.
To my mind there are two massive problems with the Hoenn games. The first is the region’s design. I know that it is half land and half water for thematic reasons, but the “too much water” lady was right. The overwhelming majority of the water based sections of the game fall in its second half, and fighting an army of Tentacool gets old very fast. The lack of variety in what you can battle and catch in the second half of the game makes Emerald feel like a total slog to finish.
The other major issue is related to which TMs you get from the gym leaders. For those who don’t know, TMs are a reward you receive from beating each of the different gym leaders (bosses) in Pokémon games. They’re used to teach a specified attack to one of your Pokémon. Generally, reward TMs are the signature move of the leader, and proportional in power to where you are in the game. That is to say, you won’t get super powerful attacking moves early on as that would make a leader extremely difficult and give players access to an overpowered attack.
Pokémon Emerald missed the memo though, so you earn the strongest fire move in the game, which is also one of the strongest attacks period, from the fourth boss. This fight is oppressive, but gives players access to an absolutely nuclear attack less than halfway through the game. In contrast, the eighth boss rewards players with a water attack that is weaker than all of the other water attacks they’ve accumulated up to that point. This ultimately leads to Emerald’s game balance feeling all over the place.
While my time returning to Emerald might have had me scratching my head in confusion, I ultimately still had fun with it. The game is flawed, sure, but it was still fun to run through all of the familiar locations. There’s something to be said for the power of nostalgia.
I don’t know exactly what compelled me to return to Stardew Valley, but after having not played the game for almost five years I decided to start a new save file. Returning as a veteran player provides a couple advantages, but I was really surprised at how much the game has changed since I last played. Obviously the focus is still on farming, but new quests, locations, items, and even dialogue have been added since I last played. While it didn’t feel like I was playing a brand new game, my current playthrough of Stardew felt quite different from my previous.
The biggest change overall to my day to day farming was that I understood how to build a much more well rounded farmer. As such I didn’t just tunnel vision farming, so I was able to make quite a bit of money in the early game from fishing, secure a few tool upgrades, and finish the mines before the first year completed. With that initial setup, I was able to build out the necessary infrastructure to turn my farm into a winery well before the end of year two. Naturally this meant I raked in a ton of cash, which allowed me to further expand the Scungaloid Wine Empire! Muhahahah!
I think it’s also worth mentioning how I found the older characters a lot more relatable. When I first played Stardew, I appreciated how each of the romantic option characters was written to be older when compared to Harvest Moon. Now that I’m in my late twenties though, I found the parent characters a lot more endearing and their problems spoke to a lot of what I go through in my own life. This ultimately left me wondering if there are other characters in games I’ve played that may leave a stronger or weaker impression were I to play them again. Perhaps I’ll play through some of them next year to see.
Guilty Gear Strive
You thought you could escape from Guilty Gear talk? Nonsense.
Shortly after the big October patch I took a short break from playing Strive so I could focus on a few other gaming and non-gaming related efforts. Unfortunately, the pull is strong so I eventually got sucked back in. I say that like it’s a bad thing, but I’ve been having a blast. The break also gave me some time to internalize a few things I’d been working on, so despite not playing for a couple weeks, I returned able to reliably do a handful of combos that I hadn’t quite nailed down prior to starting the break.
Following the v1.05 changes, May’s dolphin special attack has been nerfed into oblivion. While the nerf hurts, I actually like it. By reigning in dolphin, I’ve actually been forced to engage with Guilty Gear’s various movement options, as opposed to simply riding the dolphin into combat. The nerfs haven’t even really hurt my ability to play May either because I managed to reach the tenth floor (of eleven) in ranked for the first time. In fact, I think that through nerfing my best button, ArcSys has managed to provide me with the tools to become an even more oppressive player. Now I can do even more soul crushing shit with the tiny girl who makes grown men cry salty, salty tears.
It may seem obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: Strive is absolutely my game of the year. Its ability to repeatedly pull me back in is the mark of a great game. At least to me it is. I know some long time Guilty Gear players took issue with it, but I’ve been having a blast over the past few months playing Strive. I’m glad I decided to give it a shot even though I wasn’t planning to based off of the unfavourable stance that developer ArcSys had on rollback netcode despite implementing it. Strive has easily been the game I’ve had the most fun with, while also being a game I could easily see myself continuing to play into the new year.
As always, here are five posts from other folks around WordPress that are worth checking out. I know I normally include five blog posts, but I’ve opted to include a comic that gave me a sensible chuckle for the final entry this time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
DanamesX | Tales from the Backlog – My Time With the Nintendo DS
Ellie | The Almighty Backlog – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Robert Ian Shepard | Adventure Rules – Unpacking is a Great Example of Using Setting and Mechanics to Tell a Story
The Jenkins Comics – Raccoon Free Christmas
Well that’s it for Novemeber. Thank you if you managed to read this far and I’ll see you in the next post.