Nindies Showcase – Summer 2018

This morning, Nintendo streamed a commercial about upcoming indie games for Switch. It’s not really too important to me, because indie games don’t fit into my budget anymore. Still, I watched it like a good little consumer whore. Here are some vague impressions on the video games that were showed off, because these mindless lists are so easy to write as compared to expressing perceptive and insightful thoughts.

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Through the Good Half

As you may expect, I have been playing the Mega Man X Legacy Collection somewhat obsessively lately. To that end, I have beaten X2 through X4 and also the bonus X Challenge mode. And I have some things to say about these games!

Let’s start off by noting the less obvious: I almost never replay these games. It’s always the original Mega Man X that I go back to, so I’m not nearly as familiar with the rest of the series. As such, I had to do a lot more goofing around in them, looking for hidden secrets and trying desperately to remember which weapon works on which boss. Sometimes it worked in a game’s favour, sometimes not so much. How did it all roll out? Let’s take a look!

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My Opinion Has Certainly Risen

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t officially start airing until September, but I guess you can already watch a few episodes on the Nickelodeon app or something? Anyway, those episodes are all available online, and so of course I immediately watched them all.

While I was as wary as anyone when the Rise character designs were initially revealed, I came around on them pretty quick, appreciating the unique look that Nick is bringing to their second TMNT series. I’ve been following the little previews on social media, and I loved the new theme song since my first listen. Now that I’ve actually watched the show? It’s really great!

As per usual, there are many loud detractors online, being complete dicks about this new iteration of the TMNT. While some of the more mature folks raise perfectly valid points (the animation style is not my favourite), the bellyaching mostly boils down to “this is different than previous TMNT” which, in my opinion, is ridiculous and stupid. And I can’t stress that enough.

Of course it’s different. Rise is a new show with a new target demo in mind. This is one of the things I hate most about when a franchise lives long enough to see a remake or a reboot: so many fans think it should just be the same thing over again, but new. But what would be the point of that? If you’re just going to rehash the exact same thing, why even bother? And to the angry fan: why be so pissed off about a change to an established property? The old series that you love and cherish (clearly a little too much) is still there for you to enjoy. Nobody’s taking that away.

Change is constant and inevitable. Especially in the world of consumer media, it’s absolutely necessary to stay relevant. And while not every change ends up being a winner, at least it means that there are creative people out there who are willing to try new things. And you know what? A lot of the time, changes can work out just fine, as long as you’re open-minded enough to give them a fair shot. It seems so dumb to me, to be so pointlessly butthurt over something so trivial, when you could instead just go with the flow and have a great time.

But enough of that tangent! I do really like Rise of the TMNT! I would have liked the animation to be a little smoother, but it’s a really fun show that does a great job of reinventing the Turtles. They’re all different species this time! That’s awesome! NEW APRIL KICKS BUTT! The villains are all new instead of leaning on the Shredder yet again! One of the early baddies is an animatronic bear, which is absolutely something that will resonate with a modern audience. I’ll admit that the show’s style is maybe a little more in-your-face than I would like, but I still think it’s doing a great job of walking the line between action and comedy. Specifically, Donatello is deadpan gold this time around and I love it. The “Repo Mantis” episode gives us a rare focus on Donnie and Mikey and it is absolute beauty from start to finish.

With all that said, for a show that I was very unsure about at first, I am now 100% on board with Rise, and I cannot –cannot– wait for more episodes.

Smash Bros Direct 8-8-18

Yesterday, I witnessed evidence that we indeed live in the brightest timeline. But we’ll have to build up to that.

Among other things, yesterday was the day that Nintendo aired a big, beautiful Nintendo Direct focused solely on Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Despite the fact that I’m already 100% on-board for the new Smash, I was a little bit concerned about what could be revealed in this presentation. You know, given some of the more questionable design decisions in Super Smash Bros for Wii U. But it all turned out great! Everyone is here and everything is great!

I won’t ponder everything that they showed off, but I am going to discuss some of the things that I found the most interesting and/or hype-generating.

Castlevania – So the Direct starts off by revealing that Simon Belmont is now a fighter. Okay, cool. That’s literally all I needed. A++ presentation. Thank you and good night.

Then they go on to show off this sweet new Dracula’s Castle stage, and that Richter Belmont is also going to be a playable fighter, as an Echo of Simon. Okay! Super! Really, you had me at Simon. Then they show off all the cool monsters that will appear in Dracula’s Castle, and that Dracula himself will show up and do the traditional Dracula boss fight from all those Castlevania games that he’s in. Guys really you have done a wonderful job. THEN they show how there are going to be over 30 music tracks from the Castlevania series in the game. Also there’s going to be a Death’s Scythe items that instantly kills fighters with high enough damage, and Alucard is an assist trophy character.

I’m dying now. Dying of happiness. Castlevania is one of my favourite video game franchises and it just invaded Super Smash Bros in a major way. Thank you, Mr. Sakurai, for giving me this. Simon is going to be my new main. Sorry Ike, but there’s a new beefcake in town.

But! The cherry on top here is that when they showed off all the monsters that can appear in Dracula’s Castle, there was a shadow that was noted only as ?????.

You know what that is? It’s friggin’ Dracula-Kun! Yes, the main character of the Castlevania parody series Boku Dracula-Kun -also known as Kid Dracula or Baby Alucard- is in Super Smash Bros. I could never have even dreamed of something so wonderful happening. There are only two other things in the world that could make me this happy, and one has absolutely nothing to do with video games. So yes, I’m pretty damn stoked on this new Smash game.

Shovel Knight – Shovel Knight is in Smash too! Oh, happy day! …but he’s just an assist trophy? Oh… Well that’s a little disappointing. But Shovel Knight is still in Smash! He’s now officially reached the Legendary tier of video game characters. Did you know that Shovel Knight is my favourite anything of everything?

Chrom and Dark Samus – Two popular characters that I don’t really have much of affinity for, being introduced as Echo fighters. Chrom seems to be a faster version of Ike, which is… I’ve always been fond of Ike the way he is. He’s so immensely powerful that I don’t mind the lack of speed. And Dark Samus… whatever. She’s cool, but I’ve sadly grown out of Samus. She was my main in Smash 64 and Melee, but those days are behind us.

Stages – New Donk City Hall is the other new stage that they showed off in this Direct, and it looks pretty sweet. What really needs to be mention is that there are 103 stages in Smash Ultimate. One hundred and three. That… that may be too many. I already had a tough time picking a stage from Melee’s 29 options. Probably I’ll just pick Dream Land from Smash 3DS all the time because that’s the best stage ever. Oh! But there’s a stage morph option now that makes the game flip between two stages, which is neat. I would love if it could just morph into anything at any time, but I can see how that might be unfeasible.

Final Smash Meter – This is a feature that needed to be there from the point where Final Smashes were first introduced (Brawl). Instead of breaking a Smash Ball, a meter builds during the fight, and when it fills, you get a Final Smash! It’s less powerful than the Smash Ball version, but that’s okay! This is how every other fighting game with equivalent super moves works, so it’s weird that Smash Bros hadn’t incorporated it until now.

I would like to take a little sidebar here to reiterate how brilliant the Fake Smash Ball is. I love it.

Monster Hunter – Smash 4 had a couple Monster Hunter costumes for the Mii Fighters as DLC, but Smash Ultimate is ramping it up a bit with… Rathalos? Just Rathalos? Apparently he appears as a boss, and also an assist trophy, but they didn’t really elaborate on anything else. The stage on which he is a boss is clearly based on the Ancestral Steppe map from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, but they didn’t call it out at all. And does that mean that there will be a Hunter as a playable fighter? Really, the Rathalos clip just left me with more questions than anything. Regardless, I am jazzed that Monster Hunter is now officially a part of Smash.

Other stuff – The menu seems to be… slightly better than Smash Wii U’s awful mess? It still looks like a big mess, but at least it’s laid out a little better. I can still see myself getting lost trying to find anything that isn’t the main Smash mode, so that’s not great. I’m curious about the mystery mode that they censored out for this video, but not so much that I feel the need to speculate. And: It looks like they fixed Classic Mode! It’s just like it used to be in Smash 64 and Melee, but tailored to each character! It remains to be seen if it’ll be fun again or not, but it’s looking good so far! Hopefully that dreadful Master Fortress has been trashed.

King K. Rool – I’m all for adding more villains to Smash (because you can only have heroes beat each other up for so long), but I personally don’t give a single flip about K. Rool. Here’s a third Donkey Kong series character that I’ll never play as. Where the heck is Dixie already? K. Rool’s reveal trailer was absolutely the best thing, however.

Lastly, for your viewing pleasure, an embedded video of the presentation I just typed over one thousand words about:

Bloodstained: Homage of the Year

I’ve been a huge fan of Japanese game developer IntiCreates for years. Since Mega Man Zero’s release in 2002, to be exact. And while I do have an appreciation for their more modern (for the time of release) projects, I feel like their true calling is in the retraux scene. Note my love for the recent Blaster Master Zero and Mighty Gunvolt Burst.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst, in particular, was nice because it was an impeccable stand-in for a new Mega Man game in a time when it seemed like there wouldn’t be any more new Mega Man games. And then, seemingly out of nowhere (because I’m terrible at paying attention), they come out with this brand-spanking-new game that looks exactly like an NES Castlevania.

I backed the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, so I should have been fully aware that the “teaser” retro throwback game, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, was coming. But I mostly just toss any emails from Kickstarter into archive folders these days, unless they obviously contain a download code of some description. So Curse of the Moon came as a delectable little surprise to me, and I could not be any more pleased with it.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon takes place in an alternate timeline from that of the “main” Bloodstained game. And by that, I mean a world where Castlevania stopped evolving from its NES roots and remained a tough-as-nails stage-based platformer. If you look at Curse’s graphics and compare them side-to-side with, say, Castlevania III, you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence that they’re different games. Oh, sure, the art style varies a little, but on the whole, there’s no mistaking where Inti Creates took inspiration from.

The gameplay is also very much in line with Castlevania III, sending you through a number of spooky stages to vanquish demons, all the while recruiting a team of friends, allowing you to swap between characters on the fly. Each party member in Curse has the requisite unique abilities and attacks, but all of them maintain the age-old Castlevania crutch of not being able to change direction mid-jump.

One of the things that makes Curse unique is the way it handles replays. First of all, you’re given access to an ability to go back to previous stages at any time. This allows you to search out any power-ups you missed, or maybe make different choices, as it also undoes any recruitments that you’d made. There are also a handful of different endings based on those choices, and two unlockable alternate game modes which serve as New Game +es to a couple of those endings. So there’s really quite a lot of reasons to play through multiple times. And there’s a Boss Rush mode as well, for those who have the stomach for such things.

Another thing that separates Curse from its inspiration is its level of difficulty. On the normal mode (Veteran), it’s exactly like a less sadistic version of Castlevania III. Tough, but fair. And never makes you want to chuck a controller across the room. I cleared the “hard path” on Veteran without any Game Overs, so hooray for me. The Casual mode takes it one step further by eliminating the knockback you take when you get hit, and also giving you infinite lives. Veteran mode refills your stock of lives on every stage, too, so it’s not like Game Overs are going to be much of a problem either way. Personally, I felt that the game was even a little too easy, but having recently played through Castlevania III for the first time (and nearly lost my mind doing it), I’m definitely not going to complain about it.

The last thing that really makes Curse stand out are the bosses. While it will otherwise hew very close to NES standards, the amount of colours and spectacular effects on display in the boss fights would likely make an actual NES explode. They are beautiful and fantastic, and generally very fun, with clever gimmicks. The only thing I don’t like is that every boss has a final desperation move that they execute just before death, and these are very difficult to anticipate and dodge. I mean, it’s an awesome touch, but kind of a cheap way to screw you over if you only won by the skin of your teeth. (Note: Upon further investigation, the bosses’ final attacks only seem to do one pip of damage; not especially dangerous.)

At the end of the day, I’m going to tell you “Hell yes play this game!” Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a fantastic throwback to the good ol’ days of Castlevania, but without that nigh-impossible level of difficulty. It’s made so that you can reminisce but not have to worry about getting frustrated to the point of a rage-quit. While it’s going to be a very different kind of game, I’m now more hyped than ever for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

I hate healthy eating

You know what? I friggin’ hate yogurt.

But this is no surprise to me. I’ve never liked it ever since I was a kid, and I still don’t. Regardless, I’m eating the stuff nearly every day now, having replaced my daily sandwich with a cup of plain Greek yogurt and blueberries, but it’s not getting any better. It’s not growing on me and I am not acquiring a taste for it.

Eating healthy in general blows. Maybe it needs more than a month to take, since I’ve made a pretty massive shift in my eating habits all at once, but I’m already sick of it. Replacing candy and chips with nuts and legumes is presumably good for me, but I haven’t lost a pound and I don’t feel any better either physically or mentally. All I feel is the salad-shaped hole in my life that used to be filled with junk food.

I’m highly considering going back to processed junk and fast food. It’ll probably be way easier just to learn to accept being fat and out of shape.

Migraine Watch: August 2, 2018

Another migraine this evening. Not really sure from whence it came, but it did. I haven’t got a damn clue what triggered it, as life has been fairly good lately. If there’s been any one thing stressing me out, I hate to admit that I’ve been feeling intensely lonely as of late. Has it been weighing on my soul that heavily? My sleeping hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been so bad that I feel it’s affecting me. I’ve heard that sharp changes in diet can trigger migraines, but I’ve been eating healthier than ever before over the last month, and I have a hard time believing that a positive change like that could cause my brain to feel like it’s self-destructing.

Anyway, it really did come out of the blue. I was sitting on the couch after dinner, playing some Picross, when I suddenly noticed that my vision was starting to blur more than usual. I popped on my glasses, but they did nothing to help. I tried to deny it for a bit, but it was obviously the aura of an oncoming migraine, so I quickly made my way to the bathroom and popped an ibuprofen. I then abandoned the Picross and decided to just shut off all the lights and hop into bed.

That’s when my left leg went all tingly. Over a short period of time, it made its way up my body, through my arm and finally into my jaw. I would say the tingling lasted maybe twenty minutes at most, and by then I could tell that my vision had corrected itself, even in the dark. Though at this point, I could feel the pain in my head begin, and being curled up in bed became an extra boon, because I suddenly caught a terrible case of the chills. Overall, a varied and somewhat long-lasting sequence of auras, but fairly normal and not nearly as scary as the times when I have completely lost my vision or ability to comprehend language.

I’m writing this about an hour after the aura onset, and all the extra symptoms have gone. Now it’s just a relatively mild throbbing in the right side of my head. Significantly less crippling than it could be, so I’m pretty glad I downed that pill. All things considered, this is probably about as well as a migraine can go. I really just wish there had been some clear link to any previous attacks, because I’d love to know what’s triggering these migraines so that I could cut it out of my life.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2018

~ Game Over ~

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (PS4) – A free “prologue” for Life is Strange 2. I’m still not entirely clear on whether this will have anything to do with the full game or not.

Mega Man 7 (Switch) – I’m usually pretty hard on MM7, but playing it right after MM8 made me realize that it’s actually not all that bad! Except for Slash Man. He can go suck an egg.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch) – Nightmare mode run for true(?) ending.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch) – Another replay, Zangetsu-only this time.

Mega Man 2 (Switch) – Wait, Mega Man’s feet are slippery in this one, too? Why do I not remember this? Maybe that’s why I don’t think it’s quite as perfect as MM3.

Mega Man 3 (Switch) – Speaking of which, I did that too.

I Am Setsuna. (Switch) – I’m glad I played it, but something about it felt hollow. Maybe because the team very clearly wanted to make a Chrono Trigger sequel but weren’t allowed the license.

Fran Bow (PC) – The first two chapters of the game are very interesting and spooky, and then it kind of veers off in a completely different fantasy-styled direction before circling back to spooky.

Tales of Berseria (PS4) – It took about 30 hours before the plot finally got interesting and the characters started growing on me. But this may have been Stockholm Syndrome setting in.

Heavy Rain (PS4) – I prefer to try to find the positives in every game I play, but this one… While the high-level story was interesting, pretty much everything else about it was plain ol’ bad.

Mega Man X (Switch) – Yes, I have two portable versions of Mega Man X already, but I never take my 3DS or PSP out with me anymore. Plus, this one comes with all the sequels!

Rockman X (Switch) – The X Legacy Collection allows you to play the Japanese versions of all included games, so… I did that. As it turns out, not much was changed for the localization!

Mega Man X2 (Switch) – Maybe it’s because I play it much less frequently, but X2 is significantly tougher than the original. A little trolly too, in regards to the placement of several power-ups.

Mega Man X3 (Switch) – And then you get to this one, which is ridiculously tough, and even moreso if you’re trying a buster-only run. But at least it gives you a bunch of cool new abilities.

~ Now Playing ~

MGSV: The Phantom Pain (PC) – I bless the rains down in Africa, gonna cover up all of the sounds from my footsteps, ooh-ooh.

Pokémon Quest (Switch) – I’d like to complain about the completely erratic difficulty spikes, but that’s freemium for you! And I’m certainly not paying a cent into this one.

Slain: Back From Hell (Switch) – It’s kind of like if Doom and Castlevania had baby, and then that baby got really into heavy metal. Which is to say I love this game.

Octopath Traveler (Switch) – It’s a little bit too talky, but the battle system is excellent and a ton of fun. Feels a little bit like a more hands-on FFXIII, in a way. (NB: I’m a big fan of FFXIII.)

Soul Blazer (SNES) – I really adore Illusion of Gaia, but had never played its prequel, so I hacked my tiny SNES to do so. It’s quite good! I just need to make some more time for it.

Mega Man X Legacy Collection (Switch) – I’ve been listing the individual games here as I play them, but the new X Challenge mode can’t fit in that way. Short review: it is BONKERS.

Wherein I type words about Mega Man X again

If there’s only one absolutely consistent thing in my life, it’s my love for Mega Man X. And it’s not just because I’m a card-carrying fanboy of (mostly) all things Mega Man, but because I firmly believe that it is one of the best video games ever made. It is probably about as close to flawless as any game will ever come, and even after playing it seventeen million times, I still get a kick out of it on each and every replay.

With the recent release of the Mega Man X Legacy Collections, I have now purchased this game somewhere between six and eight times, which gives it the top billing for games that I have purchased more than once. I fully admit that I have a problem. I bought the original cartridge on SNES, the Mega Man X Collection on Gamecube, the stellar remake Maverick Hunter X on PSP, the generally sub-par iPhone port, the Virtual Console release on 3DS, and now the X Legacy Collection on Switch. I can’t recall for sure whether I bought it on Virtual Console for Wii or Wii U, but I’d say that the likelihood for at least one of them is pretty high.

The X Legacy Collection has added a couple neat new wrinkles to the mix. In fact, it it hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have even bothered writing this thing. The smallest, but most mind-blowing thing of all is something I discovered when poking around to see if I could change the control layout (you can’t): if you have a special weapon selected and press L and R at the same time, it’ll automatically unequip the weapon and put you back to the X-Buster. This is a huge revelation because I thought you had to scroll through them all individually, or use the pause menu to swap. It’s not really a game-changer, but it’s a fun little trick that I never knew about, despite having played through the game so many times.

Another neat thing is that the X Legacy Collection includes pre-release trailers of all the included games. Though nearly all of them are in Japanese, it’s still cool to see that footage of earlier versions of the games, and pick out all the things that changed. I’ve only watched the MMX trailer so far, but I was delighted to see enemies that didn’t make it into the full version, little graphical changes, and some level layouts that got changed around slightly.

Lastly, you can choose to play either the North American or Japanese versions of all the games on the collection, and astoundingly enough, I’ve never actually played a Japanese version of any Mega Man X game. So I decided to check out Rockman X, and to my surprise, there really weren’t many changes made for the localization. Aside from the edited logo and text boxes being resized to accommodate the different languages, it seems like the only thing that changed are the bosses’ names. And maybe –maybe- they upped the drop rate for health pickups in the North American version, but it’s impossible to really know without looking at the actual code. It just seems like they aren’t quite as plentiful as I’m used to.

(Note: The Cutting Room Floor reveals a few other itty-bitty changes that I would have never noticed, and says nothing either way about drop rates.)

I said before that I think Mega Man X is as close to perfect as any video game is ever going to get, and I stand by that. Part of that is owed to its simplicity; it’s harder to get things wrong when you’re not bloating your game with superfluous features and systems (see nearly every sequel). But most of all, I just don’t think that there are very many things that you’d write up as problems. The only major one is that the final boss is too hard. Compounded by the fact that it’s a string of three fights in a row, the final form hits so hard that only the best players will be able to defeat it without draining all four of their sub-tanks. Combine that with the fact that he’s got a tiny hitbox that is only vulnerable to the least practical weapon in X’s arsenal, and you’ve got a real pain in the butt on your hands.

Aside from that, my other complaints are relatively minor: when you use a password, neither your sub-tanks’ stored energy or your progress through Sigma’s fortress are saved. The sub-tanks are a minor pain, since you can grind health pick-ups fairly quickly to fill them again, but the lost progress in Sigma’s fortress is a little harder to swallow. The levels are short -maybe five minutes each- but it’s still a pain to have to blast your way through them again if you started making your way through and had to take a break.

Anyway, I think that’s about enough of a spiel for today. Lord knows that I’ve already published enough material about Mega Man X that I don’t need to go on for another thousand words, though I’ve never written an actual review. And it’s not like this is going to be the last time I write about it either. I just thought it would be fun to go over a few unique little nuggets of info about the game that not everyone would be aware of. With the X Legacy Collections absorbing all my thoughts lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if some more writing about the rest of the series pops up in the near future.

Octopath Traveler: First Impressions

Octopath Traveler was one of the games revealed at the first big Switch event way back in January of 2017. As a retro-styled JRPG from the same team at Square-Enix that did Bravely Default and its sequel, I was immediately interested. Over time, it even managed to become one of my most hotly anticipated major Switch releases, despite the fact that I ignored both demos for the sake of being able to get the most out of the full release.

And now, I have had the game for three full days and have only been able to put just shy of three hours into it. Which is weird, because usually when I get a game that I’m this hyped about, that’s basically all I’ll do during the release weekend. (Or for the next two months, if it’s a Xenoblade game.) Even though I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with it, I’ve already got a lot of strong feelings about Octopath Traveler, and most of them are good!

Most importantly, the premise of the game is that you’re following the stories of eight different characters, who will (presumably) all meet up and join forces to defeat a greater evil, much like in Dragon Quest IV. The difference here is that while DQIV take you on a guided tour of all the characters’ stories in a predetermined order, Octopath lets you choose your starting character, and the order in which you meet up with everyone else. It’s almost like a Mega Man RPG!

I really like this format, as while the stories are always going to be the same, it’ll encourage replays, as you can try different paths through the game. I’ve heard that dialogue changes depending on who is in your party, and that your initial character choice will affect certain parts of the game. The freedom to go about as you please also makes me wonder if you don’t have to recruit everyone? Or if you can even choose to play the entire game with a single character? Who knows! I don’t! And I’m not looking it up ‘cause I don’t want spoilers!

Anyway, I started the game as H’aanit the huntress. At least to me, she seemed like the obvious choice. With weapon proficiencies in bows and axes (the best weapons), the ability to capture and summon monsters in battle, and a snow leopard as a best friend, why would you choose anyone else? H’aanit’s story begins with the hunt of a rampaging monster who has been killing people and (more importantly?) disrupting the ecosystem of the forest. Once that little introductory scenario plays out, you leave on a grand journey across the world to find H’aanit’s master.

The forest quest seemed fairly simple at first, as every encounter is one-on-one and you can usually just capture every monster to end fights quickly. But then I got to the boss and… it was a really rough battle! Balancing the need to break its guard with using your boost points at the right time was tricky, and I even needed to pop a couple healing items to survive. Who has ever heard of that? Having to heal at the first boss? Of course this all paled in comparison to the second boss I went up against, who wiped my party the first time around and forced me to use a bunch of revives (“olive of life” as they’re called here) to just barely claim victory on my second try. I get the feeling that Octopath Traveler won’t be pulling any punches!

Speaking of the battle system, it’s surprisingly awesome. Every monster has a little number representing their defense. When you hit them that many times with a weapon/element they’re susceptible to, their guard is broken and you get a free turn to wail on them for extra damage. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because that’s basically how the battle system in Final Fantasy XIII worked. The main difference here is that you’re in complete control of your party, and not just telling them when to switch into a defensive stance or healing mode. Now I was one of those weirdos who greatly enjoyed FFXIII, so obviously when you take that and make it more engaging, it’s going to win me over big time. Plus you also get access to subclasses later on that lets you mix and match passive abilities like in Final Fantasy Tactics, which I am all about.

One thing I don’t really understand yet is the field abilities. Or, I should say, I don’t understand H’aanit’s field ability. Every character has one unique way to interact with NPC characters, and H’aanit has the ability to… have her monsters beat the crap out of people. Seriously. It makes you enter a battle with a common townsperson and then knock them out with your monster buddies. Ophelia the cleric can have people follow the party so you can summon them into battle to help out with random skills. But H’aanit just beats people up and takes their lunch money. I’m sure there’s a practical use for this skill, but I really have no idea what it is, and experimentation with it is making me feel bad.

So all that aside, I think the only problem I have with the game so far is that the mini-map is really just a radar. Like, it’s a foggy patch of black and grey with points of interest floating around in there all nebulously and whatnot. It’s not really a problem, because the maps aren’t especially complicated (yet), but the cartographer in me desperately wants to have a real map that fills in as I explore. And I don’t know, maybe one of the later characters will give me that ability. Or not, but I’mma keep my fingers crossed.

And so finally, I can proclaim that yes, after three hours, Octopath Traveler is 2018 GOTY.

Well, maybe not. But it is very good! And now that I’m done work for the day, I have the rest of the week off, and I fully intend to play Octopath until I pass out from exhaustion tonight. Or until I run into an ever harder boss and need to step back for a while to collect my thoughts and plan out a better strategy. Whichever one comes first. Either way I am pumped!

(It also really bugs me that they don’t spell “Traveler” with two Ls, but what can you do?)