Lorule WTF

Zelda: A Link Between Perspectives

So, I’ve been watching updates on the latest games coming out, as is typical of me. Naturally, as a huge fan of the Zelda series I’m watching the latest info on A Link Between Worlds, the “newest” Zelda game to come out touted as being a sequel to A Link to the Past. I have not spared any time professing to others my criticisms about the game, and after an exchange with one of my fellow Zelda fans on deviantART, I decided to discuss it in further detail.

I love the Zelda series; that’s why I’m critical of things that I don’t like. It seems to me though that a lot of Zelda fans go out and bash anyone who has ANY critiques about an upcoming game. I try to expound on my opinions and I have people yelling and criticizing me for being concerned. Naturally, of course, I’ve seen a lot of the same people criticizing new Sonic games and bashing others for telling them the exact same thing they tell others.

Zelda is for Kids Apparently…

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the latest example, and I’ve been critical of it ever since its first appearance. A Link to the Past is awesome, a remake of A Link to the Past? EPIC! Except… wait, its a sequel? Set hundreds of years later? But the world looks EXACTLY THE SAME? Oh, and they’re introduced a new mechanic… Link can… TURN INTO A PAINTING! Seriously?

Lorule WTFAfter a nice looking artwork which started to make me feel better about the game, they revealed that the other world’s name is… Lorule… which is a more direct parallel of Hyrule as opposed to the Dark World. They also showed off the Ganondorf wannabe main antagonist and Hilda, a blatant dark doppleganger of Zelda. Whom is apparently suddenly the world’s greatest thing now that we’ve seen her for about five minutes and looks literally like a recolored Zelda.

The recent concept artwork? That’s about the ONLY thing that kinda interested me about the game. The gameplay concepts could be interesting from a puzzle solving aspect, but storyline wise its completely and totally ridiculous. And the graphics look atrocious as well. And all of this goes back to that overly kiddy feel that the Zelda series keeps trying to portray in recent years. Even if you argue that the early Zelda games were aimed for kids, most of said “kids” are grown up now.

Classic Zelda Wasn’t 4Kids

The early Zelda games concept art weren’t dark and gritty and in fact looked somewhat childish… but the games themselves certainly were NOT made for children. Or if they were, the developers certainly misjudged how difficult the games were for children to accomplish. These games were incredibly difficult and complex, something that a child could never even hope to get through. ESPECIALLY The Adventure of Link, which is even overall quite dark and gritty as well, with some areas of the game downright creepy.

A Link to the Past is probably the first one where a younger audience would be more likely to be able to clear it, but even that’s questionable. Its the first Zelda game I managed to beat and is easily my favorite. The graphics however were NOT kiddy, they weren’t gritty, they were balanced. Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Twilight Princess were all about the same as well. Twilight Princess was slightly more gritty, but that’s about it.

Ocarina of Time, I’ve heard arguments about that one as well. Despite what people say, it wasn’t geared towards entirely young audiences, and the game can be very dark at times. Majora’s Mask is even worse. So people trying to argue that those games were just as child like as The Wind Waker are stretching things greatly. The Wind Waker blatantly goes for a kiddy super-deformed graphical art style. Twilight Princess is FAR more accurate to the portrayal of the older games than Wind Waker is.

I’m not saying that the Zelda series can’t be aimed towards child-like audiences and should be more dark and gritty. I think Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask are at a fairly safe level; designed to be more well-balanced. Not too dark, but not all sunshine and roses either with extremely bright color palettes (which the old games certainly never did replicate). The series is always balanced, but more often than not has the series shown a very dark perspective on the series as a whole, which is why people complain when childish elements keep getting flung around all over the place nowadays.

Its not nitpicking, its not being overly argumentative. I’m not hating on them trying something new. I’m annoyed by the constant perspective that Zelda fans are nothing but kids and constantly portraying the series to young audiences instead of simply a more general audience overall. And I get really annoyed when people complain about my concerns about something, like I’m just plain nitpicking to be nitpicky.

I’m not niticking; in fact, I’m the kind of person that is far more accepting that a lot of people. And its really frustrating having to deal with this kind of thing all the time.

[/rant]

Why I’ve slowed down on playing Runescape…

So when I got up earlier, I decided to check my stats in Runescape. Then I noticed I had a challenge for Dungeoneering: Dive Into Daemonheim. I decided to work on it since I wanted to level up strength a bit first. Before though, I really wanted to work on my Aquanite slayer task for a bit since I was already equipped and everything. Then I decided since I was doing all this I might as well use my Jack of Trades aura as well.

With that decided, I went into my bank, filled my inventory with food and checked my inventory. Remembering how much I hate having to pick up and bury all the bones, I remembered to grab my Bone Crusher and Herbicide (in case they dropped herbs I didn’t want to pick up), so I rushed down to Aquanites to finish up quickly.

Well, I had about 110 aquanites left. By the time I ran out of food about an hour or so later I was down to around 65. Yeah, I still had a long way to go. Well, I was tired of them and still needed to do my challenge, so I used the ring I grabbed with me to teleport to Daemonheim…

Except I realized that I grabbed my Explorer’s Ring, not my Ring of Kinship, so I couldn’t teleport directly to Daemonheim. I had to go to a bank first then go. So I did as such, got to Daemonheim, unequipped all my items except my Ring of Kinship and Jack of Trades, then went to the dungeon…

And I realized I couldn’t take my Jack of Trades aura into the dungeon. If I unequipped the aura I’d lose my progress. So I went and created a unstrung magic shortbow, burned a magic log, and cooked a shark to exhaust the last three skills I needed to get xp in. Unfortunately I had to waste my magic logs because I didn’t have any other logs.

So, I finally got into Daemonheim. Since I still barely made any progress in my Daemonheim tasks, I decided to work on them while I was in there. One task I recalled I needed was to get the “Beast Mode” title at the end of a dungeon. This requires me to exhaust all resources I have the levels to do along the critical path (critical path meaning the path through the dungeon required to reach the boss).

Since I wanted to do some skilling anyway, I decided to do everything I could, and since I needed strength xp for Birthright of the Dwarves, I also opted to kill EVERY single monster in the dungeon. Doing so took me about 2 hours STRAIGHT. At the end I had a ton of resources and a ton of rusty coins, so I sold as much as I could to get Gorgonite and made the Gorgonite into off-hand Gorgonite knives because I was trying to get dual wield equipment in Daemonheim.

With all of this done, I finally went and defeated the boss. Boss was extremely easy as per usual. Counting up all my bonus XP and everything, the total tally came out to around 60k of Dungeoneering experience, which also pushed my over to get level 88 Dungeoneering (88 is my highest skill total in Runescape; my next highest skill is 85, Magic, and after that I have several skills sitting at 84).

Despite this, I still did not have the easy tasks in Dungeoneering and I really wanted them. I went in and redid Floor 1 again to complete a task requiring me to solo the boss on Floor 1… I completed it… and realized I already got that challenge. Finally, I moved on and re-did the first Fremmenik Saga, also for a task. This time I did get the task, so that was nice.

With all this over and done with, I finally went through and turned in my challenge, gaining about 80k xp for completing a Dive into Daemonheim challenge, and then I proceeded to turn in my Jack of Trades aura for xp, about 6k, which naturally I put on Strength. Unfortunately my strength is still 82, and I need 85.

On the other hand, I gained a ton of xp in other skills, leveling up Divination to 25 (its a new skill and I’ve barely worked on it; everything else is 77+), and my Mining almost hit 85 as well. I’ve got practically nothing left to the next level; about 7k or so. That’ll go by quickly.

But, still, I spent almost 4 hours playing Runescape, barely got any xp in the skill I wanted to level up and wasted a whole lot of time I’d have rather spent finishing my spritesheets or designing the Kuhraiy website.

I have limited time as is… whenever I start to get into Runescape for a bit, its always a huge waste of time for me. That just bites.

Website Updates 10/12/13

So, I updated WordPress to the latest version and updated all my plugins installed as well. I’m currently looking into the possibility of upgrading the theme on this website to use jrBlog. I’m also going to post up a new journal entry here and soon I’m going to try and link this blog up to my new Tumblr account.

That’s about it for now. I’ll follow up with an MMORPG rant related to Runescape.

Story vs. Gameplay

Yeah, after a long hiatus I’m posting again. I’ve found blogging to be a lot harder than I thought, but I’m going to try and work things out.

Now, ask anyone about a video game and they’ll probably tell you that gameplay is more important than story. Ask many people about a video game and they’ll probably tell you that story doesn’t matter at all.

For me, it does matter.

As this is an article about storylines, this WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Granted, I’m often a lot more lenient about stories in video games. Well, perhaps in general, really. I don’t know, either I think a story is underrated, or I think a story seen to be confusing has a much deeper meaning that other people think and I piece together my interpretation of it. This has also caused a huge dilemma for me, because then I get the urge to promote my ideas, which often results in my wanting to write fanfiction.

Good Story, Bad Gameplay

khwp-01My first dilemma comes from a good story I like and gameplay I’m not too fond of. Believe it or not… I REALLY don’t like the gameplay in Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts 2 is MUCH better in that respect, but even then, I’m not that much of a fan of purely action-based RPG’s like Kingdom Hearts.

Another game I kinda like from a series I LOVE, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, is the same way. I love traditional turn-based RPG’s with a traditional battle and leveling system. Even if its action-based with a traditional battle and leveling system, such as Star Ocean and Tales, I still do enjoy it somewhat, though often not as much as turn-based RPG’s which are more about strategy than hitting buttons fast enough. Even Final Fantasy XIII; I prefer XIII’s battle system any day (other than the inability to control partners and especially inability to change leader during battle) to an action-based RPG game.

Despite my dislike of Kingdom Hearts’ battle system, I love the story in the games. Ironic, because I think most people say the opposite. I really, really like piecing together the storyline and imagining what’s going to happen next. Even when most of it does not come to fruition, I’m deeply into the storyline. Naturally, if the story sucks I probably wouldn’t play an action-based RPG game. Typically RPG’s in general have good stories, though, so it doesn’t bother me much.

Kingdom Hearts is fantasy, and tons of unexpected things always happen in fantasy games. That’s why when Nomura throws a curveball I just deal with it instead of screaming at him like a baby. I like plot twists, and I like it when strange things happen. As long as its not an out of the blue sort of thing, but usually Nomura leaves things open in the story so he can expand on it.

The ending to Dream Drop Distance (which I have not played but I have read up on the story for it) is one such example. Yes, SPOILER ALERT!

The main antagonist ends up being Young Master Xehanort from the past, whom has been collecting various versions of Xehanort to fill in the missing members of Organization XIII. Other nobodies reborn such as Isa (Saix) and Braig (Xigbar) also return. Braig is obvious, since he’s been hinted at quite a bit, but all the other versions of Xehanort? And a new version we haven’t seen before?

Well, actually, Young Master Xehanort is shown in Birth By Sleep during a flashback. Plus, its been confirmed that the mysterious figure that appears to be Xemnas unlockable as a secret super boss is actually Young Master Xehanort traveling through time. They changed Organization XIII around as well, but honestly, something seemed rather fishy about their goals to begin with in Kingdom Hearts 2. I kinda like how they went back and reworked the story behind them.

In any case, in Kingdom Hearts I really do like the story. The gameplay isn’t my favorite, but its good enough to not make me absolutely hate it to rage quit. Really, though, if it wasn’t for the story I wouldn’t have finished Kingdom Hearts. Chain of Memories was incredibly annoying, as well.

Sonic ’06 is another HUGE example of this. Its storyline is heavily loathed, but I actually like it… to an extent. They put in a lot of good backstories and the overall plot and scheme is good. I just think there’s a lot missing from the story because of its trashy development. Many early leaked plot details (leaked along with the gameplay) indicated several things missing from the final.

One of the first things is the notion that Mephiles is actually a demon as opposed to the other half of Solaris. This is a much more interesting development that what most people believe. There’s also the statement that this takes place before Sonic Rush, and that Blaze never actually met Sonic during the game. Plus, Gerald was indicated to be involved in the backstory and had worked with the Duke of Soleanna in the past, one huge part that was missing.

In my honest opinion I believe this game was primarily exploring Blaze’s past. She doesn’t play a huge role in the story, but she was included because it was critical to her backstory. She even seems to remember Crisis City in Sonic Generations. One major factor I keep seeing is that Elise is the only one capable of sealing Iblis, then in the future Blaze is the only one. Only a royal soul can house Iblis, apparently only one directly connected to the house of Soleanna.

All of this depth makes me really admire Sonic ’06 on the story front, despite its lousy execution. Numerous things happened in the story that probably weren’t supposed to, such as Blaze meeting Sonic for example. Either that or when she sent herself to an alternate dimension at the end she was split off and gained her own memories from this new dimension instead of the one she was truly from. The game was a train wreck, and Sonic’s story kinda sucked, but I still found it to have a much deeper backstory built around it, it just wasn’t executed very well.

Good Gameplay, Lousy Storyline

I’ve seen this happen sometimes. Some games have pretty good gameplay, but I just hate the story so much I give up and stop playing. Honestly I’m tired of seeing plotlines where some religious organization that’s predominant in the world is actually evil and trying to take over, or they themselves aren’t specifically evil but they’re God actually is.

Luminous Arc is the first example I can come up with. I liked the gameplay in Luminous Arc, but honestly it just kept pushing so much into this crappy overused plot device that I really didn’t like it. Even with the crappy plot device the plot just overall sucked from the start and the dialogue was horrible. Luminous Arc 2 I found to be a lot better in that respect, and I enjoyed the story much more since it went in a different direction.

Sonic-Colors-sonic-the-hedgehog-12523236-1200-1450Platformer games aren’t known well for good storylines, but Sonic games often have decent stories. Even Unleashed’s story was pretty decent. Sonic Colors on the other hand is just laughable. Even Sonic Generations has a decent storyline with a pretty cool plot twist, but Sonic Generations more lives off of nostalgia. Sonic Colors? I quickly got bored of it. The gameplay is great, though, I really DID like the gameplay. But I rented the game for one weekend and almost beat it over the weekend. The plot wasn’t all that interested, and I never picked it up again. At this point I have no plans to buy the game, either (unless I get a Wii/Wii U and find it in a bargain bin).

Mario is another pretty good example of a series without particularly grand stories. Most Mario stories suck. That’s a given, assuming they even HAVE a story of course. This is the kind of game where a good story may have kept me more interested in playing the game. Despite what it may seem I really did like the stories in Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door and Super Paper Mario. Super Mario Galaxy? It was fun, but it wasn’t super awesome like everyone has stated, and the lack of a good story didn’t help much.

Many classic games had almost no story at all, either. Sonic the Hedgehog? Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Super Mario Brothers? The Legend of Zelda? Games without any real storyline have to be VERY fun and enjoyable to really get my attention. I’m starting to finally go back and actually finish The Legend of Zelda, but its kinda boring without the narrative to keep me going.

I’ve never beat Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or Legend of Zelda. Donkey Kong Country is an exception in that case; I liked the gameplay enough and it wasn’t so insanely hard that I quit long before reaching the end. Of course, the ability to save also helps.

Well, perhaps platformers aren’t a good example, then, hmm? Let’s take a look at some RPG’s. Final Fantasy III. The REAL Final Fantasy III, not Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy VI has an awesome storyline). FFIII really doesn’t have much of a good story, honestly. I got a little ways but not much further than that. I just got bored of it too quickly.

Lufia: The Legend Returns is a questionable example, but most people seemed to enjoy this one and hated Lufia: Ruins of Lore from what I had read. So, playing through it, the gameplay isn’t that bad. I kinda liked it. I’d have liked it a lot better if they didn’t make all of the dungeons identical (e.g. exactly like the Ancient Cave). And I did beat this game. But why did I beat this game?

Because I thought the story was going to get better! I feel like I wasted the whole game waiting on a good ending and it was incredibly anticlimactic. I loved Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, I loved Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. For the former it was moreso the story; the gameplay pales in comparison after you start playing Lufia II, but the gameplay isn’t bad persay. But The Legend Returns really just failed.

Another game I really liked, but hated the story on, was The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. This game would’ve been far better if you had been playing as the REAL fellowship rather than some crappy fancharacters that sucked. They could’ve made the story decent, and Lord of the Rings is epic. What’s worst of all, though, is the final boss.

Okay, seriously, how the HELL did they get all the way into Bara-dur and attack the Eye of Sauron head-on? Yeah, it was a cool boss battle, but… guys? What the hell? The real characters don’t even do that! Oh, and to top it all off, we DON’T EVEN SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHARACTERS WE’VE BEEN PLAYING AS THE WHOLE GAME! Yeah, as much as I like this game, the story SERIOUSLY pissed me off. It IS a good, traditional RPG game experience, but its got a lousy story on top of it.

Franchise Killers

On the other hand, there’s another extreme I have seen in regards to story versus gameplay. Sometimes, a story sucks so bad that people not only say it ruins the whole game but the entire franchise. I’m… really not sure how that works, with few exceptions.

Star+Ocean+-+Till+The+End+Of+Time-g1The main aspect I keep thinking about here is Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Getting down to it, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is epic. Probably the one thing that annoys me is the ability to die by losing all MP, and even then I didn’t think this was really all that bad. I actually thought it was a clever change from the norm, it wasn’t really that much of a nuisance, and furthermore, its incredibly helpful against a number of otherwise incredibly difficult battles.

In any case, that’s not why Star Ocean: Till the End of Time gets so much hate. No, somehow it apparently kills the entire franchise because of its plot twist. Its rather quite infamous, really; apparently the entire universe is one giant MMORPG created by creatures known as fourth-dimensional beings whom are now trying to kill everyone because they realized that the characters in the game have evolved souls of their own.

Now, I both dislike and love this plot twist. I really think its a cool twist to happen in this kind of game, and I don’t see what’s wrong with it all in the context of the series. I don’t see how it ruins what happened in any past games at all. Even anything, this plot twist explains them even BETTER, also hinting that these fourth-dimension beings were heavily involved in many of the plots of the main antagonists of prior games.

How, exactly, does this plot twist kill the franchise? I think the plot twist is epic. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the whole thing essentially amounts to killing God. Even then, why does it destroy the events of the prior games? I have a hard time understanding this. Its well established in this game that the characters have long-since “evolved” thoughts and feelings of their own, they’re not bound to the creators of the universe whatsoever. This really boggles the mind.

Then the developers make it even worse by claiming that Star Ocean: The Last Hope does not take place in the eternal sphere. Lolwut? Its WELL established that The Last Hope is a direct (LITERALLY DIRECT) prequel to Star Ocean, with the events of the game taking place only a couple years before the main events of Star Ocean (the main events take place 300 years in the past) and directly mentions several characters. Honestly, this is worse; they could’ve at least hinted and acknowledged the fact that SO3 established the universe as being a creation. There is ONE theory I have about this glaring plothole, but I’m not going to get into that yet.

On the other hand, I have heard about a storyline that essentially did kill the franchise; namely Mass Effect 3. I don’t play Mass Effect, but this topic has been discussed lately and brought up several times on a topic in the General Video games forum over there, so I kinda know what happened. Essentially, because of the ending, everything you have physically done is pointless by the end.

This is a HUGE, HUGE different from SO3. In Star Ocean 3, nothing that you did in prior games is rendered pointless. I really don’t get the complaints here. You can change some aspects of the game endings, but it doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot, and it certainly doesn’t change anything that happened in prior titles. In fact, by the end of the game the universe IS SAVED. Unlike in Mass Effect 3 (though they did try to fix it after the fact).

In any case, that’s all for this discussion right now. I’ll try posting another article soon…

Read Only SFBBS

As I have just posted on the SFBBS, I have officially permanently placed the SFBBS in a read only status. The Shadow Realm isn’t going anywhere, and I’ve got plans to keep on updating it, but the SFBBS is really just a nuisance right now. I primarily desired to migrate the SFBBS to PHPBB because I thought people would be interested in returning to post again. Apparently I’m the only one who thought so, though.

I’ll still work on trying to keep the code up-to-date so it can remain permanently as a read-only archive. But regardless of the circumstances, its over. I keep getting spambots submitting the forms, and since I don’t have time to create a custom theme with things like Captcha (well, Are You a Human? that is), its just a huge waste of time trying to keep up with it, and I hate getting spammed every day with new member registrations that are nothing but bots.

Not only that, but the transfer from IPB caused numerous problems. It seems it didn’t work as well as I thought. For example, right now I can’t stay logged into the SFBBS for five minutes before it kicks me out. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with it, but it won’t work right. And its really pissing me off.

The SFBBS is now not only read only, but registrations have been disabled as well. And its going to stay that way. If anyone is still interested in a forum, I will create a NEW TSR forum. But I can’t do it yet, and unless there IS interest, I won’t do it. And I mean a lot of interest. People wanting to chat about content on the site will be able to do so in the comments, and so far I haven’t gotten any real comments, either.

I’m also disabling the WP-PHPBB bridge I have enabled, at least for registered users anyway. I’m going to try and keep the theme the same, but I can’t keep up with updating WP United in the SFBBS all the time. So I’m going to try and add the wrapper code permanently to the theme just to keep the layout.

And that, as they say, is that.

RIP SFBBS.

Old School Runescape: The Nostalgia Factor

So, nostalgia. Is nostalgia always a winner? There’s been a lot of hype about Runescape (yes, I’m going there) releasing brand-new 2007 servers. I’ll admit, its interesting going back and seeing how much the game has changed over the years. But does that make it good?

A lot of people are playing it. I decided to vote myself, despite opposing the idea of 2007 servers. Why? Well, it was a given anyway, and the first month is free. I decided to try it out just for the sake of trying it out. And honestly, I don’t get it. What the hell is so special about 2007 Runescape?

oldschool_rs_1

No, I’m not kidding. That’s what Relm looks like in old-school RS.

I signed into the game. First thing’s first, the screen is so tiny I can hardly see anything. I recreated RelmKisaragi in the oldschool, pre-HD update graphics. I take a look at her, and here’s what I notice. She looks like crap.

Ok, so, besides that, what else is up? Take a close look. I get frustrated in modern RS when I lose screen space. Do you see how tiny this screen is? In addition, how about the gameplay itself? I have to CLICK THROUGH text. I can’t just press “spacebar” to skip it. I also can only fish for one shrimp at a time.

Is this what people want? Nostalgia isn’t all its cracked up to be. There are many reasons why I quit Runescape in 2006. In the first place, the game just wasn’t all that fun. I was unable to enjoy myself playing it. I didn’t have a membership, that probably didn’t help. But even before I got my membership on RelmKisaragi, I was still HAVING FUN playing the free game. I got my levels way higher on F2P this time that I ever did on my original account (which I later found again and renamed DaltonAlder).

Honestly, I don’t see these Old-School Runescape servers lasting very long. If they do and can successfully run beside the main game, fine, hopefully it gets the classic fans to shut up. But its not going to. In fact, they’re already complaining and asking for pre-EoC servers in the forums. Meanwhile, The World Wakes, supposedly the most important quest we will ever play, has been pushed back a week for nostalgia.

Relm posing decked out in a quest point cape, Verac's, Bandos Boots, Dragon Scimitar and Offhand Dragon Dagger.

Relm posing decked out in a quest point cape, Verac’s, Bandos Boots, Dragon Scimitar and Offhand Dragon Dagger.

I played Runescape back in the day too, but I quit. When I came back, I’ve been enjoying it, and I love the new combat. One of the biggest things I hated about old Runescape was, in fact, the combat. It sucked, plain and simple. The new combat system isn’t perfect, but its a huge improvement and will only continue to get better.

Meanwhile, while I wait for the wake, I guess old school fans get to enjoy their nostalgia for a time. But nostalgia will only last for so long. When the nostalgia wears off, can the old-school servers truly last?

I don’t see it. Runescape Classic only proves it; RS Classic is dead right now. Old School Runescape will go on for a while, they’ll play it, but it’ll slowly die to the point where only the truly diehard fans will stick to it. Meanwhile, I look forward to the good future RS has and pray this old school stuff doesn’t affect the main game again (as has already happened with The World Wakes).

Review: Destinia (Mobile)

I made a promise to you two weeks ago, and I must keep that promise. I promised you… REVIEWS!

This first review is going to a little complicated. I’m using a plugin to generate the stars, and its not very good or easy to use (despite being called Easy Review Builder). Regardless, I’m going to do my best.

This review contains SPOILERS, not that it matters much, I’m probably saving you the trouble of playing through it just for the story.

So, I finally have finished Destinia. Here’s the thing about this “fun” little Mobile game. It really, really raises the expectations early on. Its graphics appear to be a little more realistic (despite being 2D) than its Zenonia counterpart. The game sets it off as being more epic in plot, at least that’s the impresssion I got out of it. The gameplay and graphics trick you with interesting scenery, which really isn’t expanded upon late in the game.

Gameplay

So, first, the gameplay. The main thing I like about Destinia is the fact that its not as “level grinding” as most Mobile RPG’s tend to be. There’s still some grinding involved, but its really not so bad. The regular fighting is fun at first. But all enemies and bosses are identical, and so by the end of the game the fighting will bore you to tears. Especially since its the only thing you ever do; there are NO puzzles in this game.

The idea of having backpack extensions is a unique twist as well. There are three extra backpack slots, and you can get extensions that have a number of extra slots on them and assign them to the three empty slots for more space. I think this is a much, much nicer alternative to Zenonia’s weight system (which they actually dropped after 2).

There’s also a Pets system and a Combine system. The combine system is interesting, and weird. You can combine items to make new ones. I later discovered that its pretty much useless. Combine only when you run out of space, otherwise SELL EVERYTHING you don’t need. You’ll have tons of cash by the end of the game. The Pets system is also useless and doesn’t seem to do anything. I don’t even know why this waste of space is even here.

So, the only thing good about the gameplay is its not nearly as level grindy as the Zenonia series and the backpack is a neat twist on item limitations. That’s all.

Graphics

So, the graphics of the game aren’t that bad for a Mobile game. Yeah, they’re 2D, but overall they appear to take a slightly more realistic approach to the Zenonia games. The initial dungeon doesn’t look that bad and the enemies encounter look interesting.

Then you get to the first town, technically just a Resistance Base, and its looking nice. Its just a cute little village area out in the woods. The characters are more accurately proportioned in this game than in Zenonia, and I kinda like that. There’s another set of woods to the north then you enter the Spirit Den (a cave) to finish the first quest.

So, the graphics don’t look so bad, right? Ok, we got that settled. Now we head south, and you enter into a watery area. Ok. Second town. Wait, the second town looks virtually identical to the first; all the graphics are the same, just repeated and placed in different areas. And honestly, its so tiny it doesn’t even look like a town.

Now we move onto a mountain range. It looks just like the first forest you entered at the beginning except its got a few hills in it. This is supposed to be a mountain range? You also find an optional cave you gotta go to in a couple of side quests. It looks just like the first cave.

Throughout the whole game, you’re just repeatedly the same six environments (town, cave, dungeon, hills, water, and forest). Many of the exact screens are even repeated, looking identical to screens you’ve been on before. The monsters change, but most are just recolors of past ones fought. EVEN THE IMPERIAL CAPITAL LOOKS JUST LIKE THE NORMAL FOREST TOWNS YOU SEE EVERYWHERE ELSE.

In Zenonia, as you progress through the game the environment CHANGES. You see a lot of the same-looking NPC characters, but at least each town and each environment looks different as you progress. In this game, everything is just repeating from the six basic types of areas.

Sound

Honestly, by this point I was so fed up with everything else I didn’t pay attention much to the sound. I guess its not too bad. The music is ok, but once again, there’s a lot of repeating music.

Oh… the sound isn’t very good, but here’s what makes it worse. There isn’t any boss music. The bosses have the same exact music as the rest of the dungeon you’re currently in. I’m not joking. At the very least add some boss music, even if the bosses all have the same music!

Cast

Ok, the characters. I decided to add a category for them. Most suck, but let’s review. This contains SPOILERS.

Duke – Wuss who let Kaiser’s sister die and so Kaiser hates him now. Duke never really develops from a bland character he was shown to be at the beginning.

Kaiser – Main antagonist throughout most of the story. For some reason he works for the imperials that supposedly were responsible for killing his sister. Not really sure how it all works out. Overall he’s just a Sephiroth wannabe with a giant sword to boot (well, a giant sword that resembles Cloud’s Buster Sword more than Sephiroth’s Masamune).

Crystal – Princess of some kingdom taken over by the imperials now head of a resistance group. Overall a bland character.

Urpa – Old man who helps the resistance. Duke saves him at the beginning. Overall he doesn’t do much in the story.

Tamur – Loves Rebecca, one of the resistance members. He likes Duke for some reason and often goes off with Duke.

Rebecca – A femme fatale member of the resistance, complete with an extremely revealing outfit. No wonder Tamur wants her. -_-

Cipher – Resistance member who later betrays them. He does not like Duke. He had an agreement to marry Crystal after the war was over in exchange for helping them. Crystal seemed to think he just wanted the kingdom, but in reality he wanted her, and he betrays them because he thinks Crystal is too into Duke.

Raina – Duke’s childhood friend. Just a generic damsel in distress.

Defcan – This imperial soldier with an afro and crappy name has a huge crush on Raina. Attacks Duke several times over Raina, before randomly having a face-heel-turn and helps Duke. Doesn’t appear again after that.

Barthandelus – I can’t remember his name exactly. He’s not the emperor, but apparently he’s corrupting the emperor (whoever that is, its never stated). He’s only mentioned late in the game, you meet him once, you fight him once and then Diablo kills him. Overall, he sucks. Period.

Diablo – Not sure if its the exact name either. Final boss. Overall, he plays just like every other boss and doesn’t have any special music playing either. He’s mentioned twice earlier before he’s resurrected and then kills Barthandelus, and the you kill him.

Nothing much to see here. None of the characters really intrigued me much.

Plot

So, the plot. The one thing that I was really, really interested in by the end of the game. Even that turned out to be complete and utter failure. But let’s review, shall we? There are SPOILERS here. Not that it matters; I’m going to sum up how bad the plot of the game is in three paragraphs.

So, big bad Kaiser beats up Duke, our hero, whom is then rescued by a resistance group led by Crystal. Duke helps them save Urpa with Tamur, goes off on his own way, discovers Defcan looking for Raina whom Duke then goes out to find. She’s been poisoned, Duke rescues here and defeats Defcan, resistance crew shows up again to help, Duke finds cure and defeats Defcan again, and ends up joining said resistance by Raina’s request.

Following this, resistance crew release a witch trying to find something in an ancient temple. Duke defeats the witch, whom talks about the coming of evil big bad. Upon leaving, Cipher betrays you to Kaiser and the Imperials, and Tamur himself to save everyone (and show off his love to Rebecca). Back at the base, Rebecca runs off to the imperial capital in rage over Tamur’s death.

Duke goes after her, enters the castle dungeon and finds Rebecca with Tamur (who is apparently alive but turned into some sort of monster). Monster Tamur kills Cipher, then Duke defeats Tamur. Kaiser appears out of thin air and is promptly defeated by Duke. Tamur is taken by the resistance and Duke heads off to stop Barthandelus from releasing Diablo. Duke defeats Barthandelus, Diablo kills Barthandelus, Kaiser out of the blue forgives Duke, sacrificing himself to weaken Diablo so Duke finish diablo off and save the day.

There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT of story missing. Reference is made a lot to the emperor. The big bad, Barthandelus or something like that (I can’t even remember his name), isn’t the emperor. So who the heck is? I didn’t think it was Kaiser. Kaiser is also Duke’s former friend, but he did something horrible and Kaiser never forgave him for it. Turns out Duke got scared and let Kaiser’s little sister die. Wuss. Doesn’t explain why Kaiser is suddenly working for the imperials that he hated before, or at least was implied so.

Destinia
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Fun at first but gets boring. Extra things like combining and pets are virtually useless.
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The graphics aren't bad, but the game simply constantly reuses screens with little variety in how each area of the game looks.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Extremely repetitive. More annoying is that there's no epic music for boss fights at all, making it incredibly lackluster.
Castwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The semi-large cast is kinda nice. Well, they would be if they didn't all suck.
Plotwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The plot sets up so much, but never seems to get anywhere. So much vital information is completely ignored. Not really worth the hype placed on it early in the game.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Everything in the game was overhyped at the beginning. I kept expecting it to get better, but it never did. It can be fun as a time waster, but after having played it I'd rather have not wasted my time to begin with.

First Article, Pages Added

Well, I’ve now finally written my first TSR article. Let me know what you think. I’ve also got a system in place where I should be able to provide Reviews. I’m going to try that out later.

In addition, I created two new pages: What is The Shadow Realm? and History of The Shadow Realm. The history will be gradually updated, but I provided a full history of TSR to date with some images of past version of the site.

Furthermore, I updated the sidebar widgets on the right side of the page. I added a section for the currently logged in SFBBS member, currently logged in users, and forum stats. Also watch us on Twitter or with RSS; I added both links to the sidebar at the top. I’m going to move them once I get the chance.

I’m going to try and add a better footer area to the site later, as well, so I can update the copyright and have content in the footer. I tried to add a Sitemap but this theme doesn’t have anything like that. Really an annoyance, but that’s ok, I need to update my themes anyway.

The SFBBS has also been updated a little. I altered the theme I was using slightly so it fits more with the WordPress wrapper, and I managed to remove the TSR logo. Unfortunately, I don’t have an SFBBS logo like I thought, so I still need to look for one. I also fixed up ranks; or did I do that last update? Either way, its done.

Keep an eye out on my Github this weekend; I’m going to be making a lot of updates on a project I’m working on. Hopefully I can finish the first version for this guy I’m working with over the weekend, maybe even finishing it all-together. I’ll see what I can do.

That’s all for now. I’m going to add a review of Destinia to TSR soonish; MAYBE this weekend, but I’m not sure yet. Keep an eye out.

What’s so Special About Mobile Gaming?

Yes, its my very first official gaming article on the Shadow Realm. Recently, I’ve been insanely busy. The only time I ever get a chance to play games is for quick bouts on my Mobile phone, where I’ve got quite a few games installed. As a huge RPG gamer myself, naturally I’ve got a lot of RPG’s as well.

I must confess. I don’t consider Mobile gaming hardcore. I also don’t think its “the way of the future” either. Its only for quick time-wasters. I’d much rather spend time playing Runescape than spend a lot of time playing games on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Runescape membership at this point. I should be able to get my character RelmKisaragi her membership back this week, though, and with a Gold Membership as well.

Whatever the case may be, let’s review the nature of Mobile gaming. Typically, they’re always short. Obviously, you can’t exactly have an epically long game on a Mobile device with very little memory; that’s the first major disadvantage to Mobile games. I’ve played a large variety of games, and there’s really only several varieties that exist, all of which use touch pad controls in some way.

Literally all of the RPG games I play are nothing but long, extended fetch quests. The plots are generally quite insignificant. So far, the only Mobile RPG I’ve play where I was honestly enthralled by the deep sense of plot was Destinia, by Gameville. Until I played through the game and realized; there’s absolutely no substance to it. And unlike Gameville’s other series, Zenonia, the environments you’re playing through… ARE EXACTLY THE SAME.

Another thing that really kills these Mobile RPG’s in addition to the fetch quests in level grinding. All of these games essentially feel like miniature MMO’s that are incredibly short, boring, and single player. I compare them to MMO’s because, essentially, all you do in the grand majority of MMO’s is fetch quest and level grind. The only MMO I’ve played where I actually enjoyed the quests in Runescape, which has purely amazing questing in it (so long as you fork over the cash for a membership).

So, not only are Mobile games short, they’re also boring for the most part. The plots are generally lackluster as well. Plus, in Zenonia there’s a boss that’s incredibly impossible to beat because he heals himself infinitely. I was slaughtering everything else in the dungeon, but that ghost kept infinitely healing himself and it took me forever to beat him. And now in the next dungeon I’m getting slaughtered again, and I have no quests to help speed up the leveling process.

I guess the only reason why I really play Mobile games is because they are pick up and play. If I want to play on my PS2, I gotta get up, turn on the console, wait for it to load, and it takes a long, long time just to get started. On my Mobile phone, I just open up the game, play a little bit, save, and quit. I don’t have to spend hours just trying to find a save point.

Of course, as a consequence of Mobile gaming, you really lose all the substance and enjoyment of an epic long adventure. Although it does appear the latter Zenonia games are getting better… but then there’s also the fact that literally all free Mobile games (and some paid ones) constantly beg you to buy things in them. Its really, really frustrating.

Granted, there are some non-RPG games which aren’t so bad. I love my FreeCell, Temple Run, and Sonic Jump. Yup, a Sonic reference for a change. But even these get boring after a while. This only gives me the desire to make my own Mobile games even greater, but I’ll need to get a Mac before I can possibly hope to accomplish such a task.

Spam Cleaned

Ok, guys. I’ve now cleaned out all the spam on the homepage and in the forums. I think the reason why this happened is because I screwed up when installing PHPBB. I ran the update to transfer members and posts to PHPBB from IPB, but I forgot to check permissions. Guests were enabled to post in the forums and started spamming a lot.

It took me forever to figure out how to use PHPBB to get rid of the spam, but I finally did it. I also fixed the user group icons now. Instead of icons being on groups, they’re entirely on ranks. So I set up custom ranks for all the required custom icons, uploaded the icons, and now we’re all set. Well, I assigned the “special” ranks to the required groups, of course.

I also ran through the moderator groups and cleared them out. I still kept Speed as an Admin for now, but I’ll probably demote him as well unless he comes back. Of course, all the images were created by Speed.

So yes, now all the forum group permissions are fixed again. Well, not necessarily forum-specific settings yet; that would take way too long. But all the necessary ones are.