Category Archives: Let’s Talk Games

Let’s Talk Gaming: Things Final Fantasy XIV Did Wrong – Starting Cities

Before I begin, let me preface this by saying that I think Final Fantasy XIV does a lot of things correctly when it comes to being a very solid MMORPG. I enjoy the game a lot, and I’ve spent plenty of time (and subscription money) to frolic around in Eorzea. What’s Eorzea you ask? Well, it’s the fictional world Final Fantasy XIV is set within.

A bit of backstory seems prudent. I began playing Final Fantasy XI back when it first released in the USA in the early 2000’s. I played the original Final Fantasy XIV before Square Enix tossed aside the project and went back to the drawing board (more on that game and its countless failings in a separate post). That’ll be a rabbit hole if I ever decide to explain that mess.

Anyway, when the game later released anew under the name “A Realm Reborn” I claimed my free copy offered to those of us who had played on the old game for so long and dove headfirst into my favorite type of MMORPG, the Final Fantasy kind.

For years though, I’ve always thought that Final Fantasy XIV made a few decisions that weren’t exactly wise for gamers like myself, coming from other MMORPG’s with the intent to “static” with other players.

What is a “static” you ask? Well, that’s simple, it’s when you play a game only with a select few people, and you do so regularly. In FFXI, static parties were a commonality among close friends. Many MMORPG’s seem to put systems into place that destroy the “static mindset” and considering that FFXI thrived on that style of gameplay, you can guess how I might feel about that…

Generally speaking, I’m not too happy at all with the concept.

While Final Fantasy XIV has plenty to praise, the story line particularly, it also has one thing I absolutely despise… well, it has a few things I despise, but none more so than they way they start you in a city based on what job you plan to level, rather than where you’d LIKE to start.

Say for example, what’s going on for Kresh and I currently as we plan a stream day around Final Fantasy XIV (yes, we both like the game that much, that we’re going to stream it regularly soon). There’s just one problem, I plan to level WHM (White Mage, a healer for the uninitiated). Kresh plans to level a tank… however, there are no tank jobs that start in Gridania, meaning Kresh would have to start elsewhere.

See what I mean?

It kind of defeats the purpose of friends starting off together on new characters. If don’t start there, I would need to wait to level the job required to unlock WHM, however, if we don’t start in the city Kresh where Kresh can get a tanking job, then it makes for the same problem in reverse. This is a confine of the game directly, and it makes for something of problem that is strangely antiquated despite the fact that the much older MMORPG (FFXI) never had this problem if the first place. Jobs were not implemented in this way.

Final Fantasy XI never had any such issue, because you could choose your job and your starting location. It wasn’t a lose-lose situation. It didn’t have to be. Final Fantasy XIV should have followed suit in my personal opinion, because games that discourage friends to play together based on something as arbitrary as starting cities loses focus on what an MMORPG truly is.

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Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game… that’s what MMORPG stands for, and it should be at the core of the valuable systems indicative of the gameplay experience.

In this particular aspect, and a few others, Final Fantasy XIV failed that concept. The starting cities based upon your job within the game is a key point to make about this.

Now, to be clear World of Warcraft had a similar ideology at one point. It was irksome there as well, particularly during the dark ages when being a druid forced you onto starting as either a Tauren or a Night Elf. However, at least in World of Warcraft that made sense within the wider lore and universe. Final Fantasy XIV has no set player-verses-player standard the way that World of Warcraft did, nor, longstanding lore to draw from. Therefore, I find the “lore” argument a harder one to make or even defend for Final Fantasy XIV.

Now, to be clear, in Final Fantasy XIV this really is just a minor annoyance at best, as you can change your job at whim… however, that’s kind of the point. In World of Warcraft, you couldn’t do that. If you picked say… a warrior for example, then that’s what you were… a warrior… you couldn’t suddenly change your job to a mage or or a priest just because you felt like it. You had to start another character and begin the grind again.

In Final Fantasy XI and in Final Fantasy XIV you can level all of the jobs on one single character, with no need to make a second or a third. With this ideology in mind, surely you can see how it might be just a little reductive and in some ways flat out idiotic to demand a starting location based on your starting job alone.

Some games pull off that sort of limitation more believably than others, but in my personal opinion, Final Fantasy XIV just isn’t one of them… you may actually like this system the way it is, and if you do, that’s fine too. This, to me, is just a personal annoyance, but one that sticks out so perniciously as one very bad idea, and one that just didn’t have any real need to be implemented in the first place.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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The “Bad Writing” of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

To start with, we’ve all heard that excuse time and time again from fandom. In our favorite shows, movies, books and other media, there’s always someone who shouts two simple words into the void; “bad writing!”. They shout this before leaving the matter at that.

I’ve seen messy writing in plenty of pieces of media, I’ve seen poorly executed writing even beyond that. However, bad writing is an outlier in such a drastic way that it actually annoys me to hear this turn of phrase more often than not…

Typically a person says this if they don’t agree with a narrative decision within the media presented to them. There’s plenty of discourse to be had about how something could have been done better, sure enough. No story is flawless, after all.

In point of fact, and I say this very adamantly, I tend to find that the “bad writing” argument crops up more often when a person can’t pin down why they dislike the writing so much. That’s why I’m very unrepentant when I say that the “bad writing” argument is a misnomer for greater prevailing issues.

The issue itself could be many things. Perhaps a personal chord was plucked to make someone feel that way. A story could in fact have “bad” moments of “writing” within the material to upset a person. To someone directly and pointedly offended, “bad writing” might be a solid critique of the way a certain theme was handled… I see that argument a lot in the RWBY fandom. Certain subject matters aren’t always handled with care and concern, so that’s why the critique crops up… but really, in that example, the writing isn’t “bad” per-say, just poorly executed.

There are occasions that it could just be “bad writing” though, truth be told, because there are very rare circumstances when what lies before you is actually little more than a pile of irredeemable drivel. The issue is, that’s an oddity, not a rule… but I have located an oddity recently.

As a gamer, I’ve seen poorly contrived plot elements take a back seat for the sake of bombastic gameplay more times than not. In gaming, this is sometimes a serviceable tactic, but not always… a most recent example comes to mind in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. You can watch our gameplay of that over on our Twitch channel…

What makes writing bad, generally comes down to how core issues present the themes in the game. To another point, I find the characters themselves generally unlikable. I find this to be the main problem in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

To be pointedly clear though, this really only applies to the beginning and middle of the game. The last hour and a half, two things happen. Firstly, the cut scenes vastly improve. Secondly, the story actually gets VERY, VERY good!

However, the very good part only applies to the latter section of the game, not everything preceding it, and that’s the reason I’m using it as an example today.

In the earliest parts of the game the plot line often comes down to finding a way to cram the word “Chaos” into as much of the dialogue as humanly possible… in some cases, the story itself jumps the shark by doing a fast-forward to skip an event or two that was obviously deemed required by the writing staff.

Let me walk you through why this is “bad writing” directly on its face. Three guys meet, and immediately after introducing themselves, we get a “bro-fist” as they decide to join together. Then, directly after the very questionable act of deciding to become best buddies, we get two throw away paragraphs about what happens after, with no context or plot driven narrative to fall back upon.

That problem is, that jump in content reduces down to explaining the events that took place, without player related input, or even screen splash showing the event. It’s just a black background with white colored words explaining what players should have gotten to experience…

That’s it, just those two plain black images about visiting with the king, who refuses to allow them to take on their intended mission. Instead, they spend weeks together slaying monsters, and that’s it… literally, that’s all you get before the screen fades to black.

Why were they refused? Why do these supposed crystals look like giant cockroach turds? Why are these characters joining forces simply because the crystals can “sense each other” as one of the characters says they can? Why, amid what amounts to be a throw-away paragraph does it seem like a total and complete afterthought?

It feels like either pure laziness, or a decision compounded by some freakish lack of planning, or a budget crisis. Bad design, no cookie for you. Either way, the story goes on from there… a game shouldn’t feel that way, if it could in any way be avoided.

As a player, you return to these characters, who by now know each other, although we the players still know nothing of them. They’re all sitting upon a boat, complaining about how bored they are, and how they want to do the job they came for already, defeating “Chaos”.

We still don’t have a “why” for any of the above that feels reasonable, and you’d be correct to call that “messy writing” by video game standards. You’d be fair to call it lazy in general. In that singular case, where neither gameplay nor firm story-line exists yet, you could go so far as to call it bad writing. You’d even be right to do so… because at this point, we know next to nothing about these characters, or their deeper motivations.

I don’t often care much for the “show, don’t tell” rule in writing. There are times you do have to “tell” an off-screen plot element or two instead of showcasing it… but this use of “telling” is much too flagrant here. It is bad writing, firm and flat out… that’s why I fall to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin as my foremost example of “bad writing”, because frankly, there was just no excuse.

As I said before though, in gaming, a good story-line typically takes a back seat to bombastic gameplay. To be honest, that game is very bombastic, over the top in the best of times.

According to Kresh, who is playing the game on the stream, it’s also pretty fun on occasion. Perhaps that’s a saving grace, but the story-line and the occasional direct lack of it, does hinder the game too.

I cannot personally comment on how “fun” it is to play. I can only speak upon the theatricality of the combat itself. However, I’ll say this, you’d be hard pressed to call the gameplay itself boring, as even your small, typically encountered leveling fodder have a habit to explode in bright, if ominous colors.

This tends to leave a crystalline residue of their exploded corpses in their wake… and frankly, as I said, it is bombastic. I don’t think you could call it brilliant, or even tangentially metaphorical to the plot-line at all. It has ties to the deeper themes, sure enough… but it doesn’t lend to the world building in a way that feels satisfactory. It just looks cool.

All-in-all if you need a very recent example of bad writing in game design, look no further than Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Does it entirely ruin the game? No, not exactly. It’s still a serviceable gameplay experience. It’s interesting enough for me to watch, and for Kresh to play… so there is that at least. That said, if you want a solid narrative, this isn’t the Final Fantasy title for you… far from it.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, early fiction chapters and more.

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Patreon Supporters:
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Fandom: Resident Evil 3 Remake Announcement Trailer


The announcement trailer can be found above.

As you can likely guess from the disclaimer, this is an old post. That being said, when the initial hype for the game was in full swing, I was one of the many fans excited for the game.

I’m sad to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the game, but I’ll talk about why when I review the game in it’s entirety. That’s a separate post though. For now, the content below is merely a time in fandom when I was far too excited for my own good.

The official trailer for the Resident Evil 3: Remake has me so excited to see what’s in store for the survival horror genre.

Old fans of the series will easily recall the dynamic game-play of the original game, released for PlayStation back in September of 1999. I’d like to take a few moments to share my fondness of Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis particularly.

Playing as Jill Valentine was one of my favorite things to do in the early days of Resident Evil. Back in the first game, I played her story over Chris’s. Getting to return to her character after the events of Resident Evil 2 was what made me beg my mom for the game. She agreed to get it as a late birthday gift. I counted the days until it hit store shelves. Unfortunately the game dropped on a Wednesday, and I had to wait until Friday after school to get it.

The wait seemed like forever. Finally the day came, and I immediately started playing as soon as we arrived home with the game disc in hand. Playing Resident Evil three was a very memorable moment in my life. While many fans call Resident Evil 2 the best game in the franchise, I have always loved Resident Evil 3: Nemesis even more.

Despite the many flaws that Resident Evil 3: Nemesis had, I fondly recall that it was the first survival horror game I was able to beat on my own. My birthday is in the middle of September. I was a child, and survival horror was something that I just couldn’t help but be enamored with. The problem was that I was very young for a mature rated game. My older brother, 7 years my senior, usually had to help me with other games in the genre.

At the time, I was too young to understand some of the puzzles. I had trouble overcoming the problems that came with having a limited supply of ammo. Other survival horror games had me stumped, or were simply too difficult at the time. Without help, I didn’t get a chance to beat the games at all.

At least, not until Resident Evil 3: Nemesis released for the PlayStation. It was the game that allowed me to fully experience survival horror, without help from anyone. Looking back as an adult, the easy mode was probably too easy.

In hindsight offering such a huge capacity of weapons and ammo allowed me to blast my way through the entire game. I didn’t need assistance, but I also didn’t learn the skills required of other survival horror games. That said, while easy mode was too easy, the normal mode and beyond provided a sufficient challenge. After playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on easy, I returned to it invigorated. Feeling empowered and encouraged, I beat it two more times. Once on normal and once on hard. After that, I was able to return back to the other releases in the franchise. Finally, I could play them entirely on my own.

As you can see, I owe a lot of my love for survival horror genre to Resident Evil 3. Seeing this remake come out is a dream come true for me.

The release date for Resident Evil 3: Remake is April 3, 2020, and there seems to be plenty to look forward to.

I’m honestly at the edge of my seat waiting for this game to come out. I haven’t felt this much child-like glee for a game release in years. With a burst of healthy nostalgia, and an overwhelming excitement to see what changes have been made, I sit here with a smile on my face. For me, this heartfelt elation is what it means to be a gamer.

Seeing this franchise come back to life the way that it has in recent years does my soul good. There are few things in this world as simple as sitting down to play a game. Only a handful are more rewarding than sharing that passion with others like myself. Watching the hype slowly build as the fan base grows. I can’t put a price on it. It’s too valuable to me.

In some ways, I feel like a child again. I’m eagerly waiting to have the game in my hands. I can’t help counting away the moments until I can experience Jill’s story and Raccoon City anew.

When the game comes out, I’ll be playing, will you?

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Meanwhile, check out some of our other great content below. You can also find more information about supporting us at the bottom of this post.

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier. If you don’t care for Patreon, and don’t care about perks, you can always support us through PayPal too… links below.

Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, and more.

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Patreon Supporters:
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Gameplay: Kreshenne Plays Jazz Jackrabbit

In the video below, Kreshenne takes on Jazz Jackrabbit, a somewhat difficult platformer developed and published by Epic MegaGames. Originally released in 1994 for PC on the DOS operating system, this game saw a fairly decent player base in it’s heyday. Nowadays, Speed runners return to the game, showcasing impressive speeds, glitches, and more.

Sadly, there’s no such impressive feats of skill here. Just Kresh getting annoyed and Kern laughing at all havoc.

Kresh Plays: Jazz Jackrabbit


More About The Game

Hey everyone, Kernook here. I just want to give a little bit more information about the game for those who haven’t played it or heard of it before. Hopefully you enjoy the gameplay video above, but let’s talk about the game a bit.

Jazz Jackrabbit also saw releases for Mac and Windows in 1995 and 1996. It was one of the first titles to bring platformer games to computers. The game was re-released on GOG.com in November of 2017.

Notable titles in the series include: Jazz Jackrabbit 2 (1998), Jazz Jackrabbit 3 (1999), and a few others.

The game is set in a fantasy world, akin to “The Tortoise and the Hare“. The old children’s story providing the perfect set dressing to this awesome platformer. Though it pulls inspiration from a classic, this game is distinctly futuristic. Space travel and planetary conquest gives the game a unique spin.

The basic story is that the ongoing animosity between tortoises and hares lingers for about three thousand years. The tortoise in the telling of the story is named named Devan Shell, a rather evil tortoise and a mastermind to boot. Jazz Jackrabbit is not only the titular character, but the protagonist of the game as well. Jazz aims to defeat Devan and make his home planet a happy place one more. To do this, he must also rescue his planet’s princess, a common trope of platforming titles.

Jazz is depicted as a bright green jackrabbit with attitude. He’s a rough and tumble sort of rabbit. He’s often shown wearing a red bandanna and matching bracers. He toes a blue “blaster” style gun, which the player uses in combat against enemies.

Gameplay

This is your standard platformer in many ways. The player controls Jazz. He will gain momentum and run faster the longer he moves forward. He also jumps higher too. The player will need to avoid the traps. Lost players will occasionally see an arrow or two to guide their way, but navigation isn’t too difficult.

There’s a lives system, and a health system.

You can collect up to ten lives total. When you lose a life, Jazz starts from the beginning of the level. If you managed yo reach a checkpoint before you lost a life, you begin at that checkpoint sign.

Jazz can get hurt, and that’s why he has a life bar.  It will change in color depending on how much health he has left. Jazz can only take a few hits, and the number changes based on the difficulty. Easy mode provides five, the most you can get. Medium offers four. Hard and Turbo modes offer only three. When Jazz gets hurt you can try to find a carrot to heal him.

There’s also a system of “buffs”, items that can help you on your way. As mentioned above, you can pick up carrots as healing items, and occasionally find an extra life. There’s also a shield that protects Jazz from getting hurt. You can also find upgrades that give Jazz the ability of rapid fire and super jumps. There are collectibles too, and that’s important for each stage.

While Jazz begins with his basic blue blaster, you can upgrade that too. Some of the weapons include bouncing launcher grenades, flame bullets, and TNT. Jazz can also get a sidekick in the form of a bird as well.

Like most platformers the game has a timer. You need to complete the level in the time you have. If time counts down to zero, Jazz loses a life. To complete each stage, the player must reach the finish and shoot the sign before time runs out. The player is then provided with additional points awarded for the remaining time. If a player receives a perfect score by collecting all of the items, they will get to play a bonus stage.

Bonus Stages and Secret Levels

If the player finishes the stage with a big red diamond, they’ll enter a bonus stage. The objective is to collect as many blue diamonds as possible before the timer runs out. If you can beat the bonus stage, you’ll get an extra life as a reward.

Bonus games aren’t the only thing you’ll find. Jazz Jackrabbit also has secret levels. I hope you’ll play the game yourself, so I won’t discuss them at length here.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

Click to Donate

You can help support us through PayPal or Patreon.

Meanwhile, check out some of our other great content below. You can also find more information about supporting us at the bottom of this post.

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier. If you don’t care for Patreon, and don’t care about perks, you can always support us through PayPal too… links below.

Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, early fiction chapters and more.

Click to Donate

To Our Supporters

Thank you for helping us to enrich our content.

Patreon Supporters:
($3) Little Ferrets: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy and Andrew Wheal.
($7) Fandom Ferret: None
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($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret/Fluffy Ferret: Josh Sayer

Is Death Stranding Worth playing?

Hideo Kojima is a master at making objectively good games. It’s not a question, it’s fact. He’s a risk taker, making games with mechanics that don’t have a “one size fits all” approach. From the early Metal Gear series, to the P.T. Demo, Kojima has proven time and time again that he knows what it takes to make a good game. His greatest games push incredibly deep narratives, multifaceted, and compelling.

Then Death Stranding came out and made waves among the gaming community. Although it sold well, the game just wasn’t as well-received as it could have been. Strong positive reviews aside, hard-core gaming critics and casuals alike raised eyebrows at this odd title. While most of the reviews seemed to be positive, of them slammed the game for having uninteresting point A-to-B slog with questionable story telling. Others complained about the fiddly controls in the game. Even I have to admit a few of the mechanics were pretty annoying.

At the time, the occasional annoyed rants from the larger review sites only fueled my desire to play it. I didn’t really know what I was in for. My expectations weren’t incredibly high. Personally, I feel that the higher my expectations are for something, the more I let myself down when those desires aren’t reached.

After all, game developers don’t owe me anything just because their artistic vision didn’t meet my own criteria for what a good game should be. That said, I have three basic criteria for any game I play.

If a game can meet these standards and I still don’t like it, then it’s my fault. If I ended up buying a game I don’t like, and that’s not something I can blame a developer for.

My three rules are the following:

  1. The game must ultimately be playable. No game breaking bugs, visual eye-sores, or glitches that will severely hinder and impede my game-play experience.
  2. The game must be reasonably priced for what it has to offer. If I shell out money for a game, I want to know that I’m getting a quality experience that at least reflects that price. I don’t mind paying large amounts of money for a shorter game-play experience, but, that experience must be worth something.
  3. The game must be accessible for me play on some basic level. I have a fine motor-skill disorder. That often means games like Dark Souls kill me repeatedly on hard mode. That said, I can still play, beat, and enjoy the game. I don’t ask for an easy game. However, I expect the controls to be fluid. The subtitles must be easy to see and to read. The mechanics of the game must choreograph properly what’s happening on screen.

For example, if something’s about to shoot at me, I want an obvious sign of that someplace. I don’t want to be sniped and have no obvious way to tell. If I’m about to get a “game over”, I want a clear and consist metric that’s about to happen.

I think that those three criteria are essential for any good game. With the building blocks in place, any game has a chance to be a fun, interactive piece of media.

Having completed Death Stranding, I’ll say this: For adults, Death Stranding is worth playing at least once.

This is not a children’s game, and it doesn’t try to be. This game was crafted for an adult gamer, with a firm sense of self, and a firm grasp of morally grey ideology. Parents should use caution when buying it for their mature teenagers. Do your research first, and don’t just pluck this game off of the first shelf you see.

The controls are a little clunky, yes. There is absolutely no disputing that. However, if I can figure them out and navigate the game with Dyspraxia, then the controls must not be a complete failure. They are repetitive, but that serves a narrative purpose. It’s not complete and total garbage. They’re just not the greatest, either.

Multiple layers of subtext in the game will always be important, and Death Stranding uses mechanics as a metaphor. Yes, perhaps it is a bit overdone. Yet, everything in this game seems to have been placed there intentionally, and the story is captivating in its own strange way. I adore the opening quote at the start of the game, and the somber opening song.

The themes are dark and heavy, the game reflects that masterfully. The world is beautifully crafted, and the design is completely immersive. The mechanics aren’t always easy. There are times when the game falls a little short, but it isn’t a bad game.

If you start to look at the game as a complete narrative experience, it’s actually quite good. If you haven’t played it yet, pick the game up when it’s on sale. Give it a try. You may end up liking it too.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier. If you don’t care for Patreon, and don’t care about perks, you can always support us through PayPal too… links below.

Those who join via Patreon get special perks, such as extra content, quicker updates, early fiction chapters and more.

Click to Donate

To Our Supporters

Thank you for helping us to enrich our content.

Patreon Supporters:
($3) Little Ferrets: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy and Andrew Wheal.
($7) Fandom Ferret: None
($14) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret/Fluffy Ferret: Josh Sayer