Home

Hugh Likes Video Games: Final Fantasy Tactics

Leave a comment

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Published by Square-Enix
Played on PS Vita

1420516780966.jpg

The Skinny:The definitive version of the 1997 Classic that put tactical RPG’s on the map.

Final Fantasy Tactics isn’t the first isometric, turn-based tactical RPG, but it is a milestone in the sub-genre, and a breakthrough hit in The West that lead to the success of later games such as the Disgaea franchise. A stylistic follow up to developer Quest’s “Tactics Ogre,” both were directed by Yasumi Matsuno. FFT mixes the structure of Tactics Ogre with the Job System of Final Fantasy to create a highly-satisfying strategic game. And the depth of gameplay is perfectly set off by a complex, engaging fantasy story of power, betrayal, and warring houses.
Players are thrust into the boots of Ramza Beoulve, the youngest son of a minor but distinguished noble family. He gets caught up in a web of intrigue surround a set of mysterious, powerful artifacts during a civil war, forcing him to choose between protecting his family’s honor, and serving justice.
Twenty years later, Final Fantasy Tactics still holds up well. Its mix of highly-detailed 32-bit character sprites with 3D backgrounds works very well, and has a stylish quality. It doesn’t suffer from the same dated polygonal visuals the way contemporary games like Final Fantasy VII have. The original PSX release still has its flaws, though. The translation was spotty, and a few critical bugs in the game, including one that makes saved data unreadable, hamper play.
These were resolved in the 10th Anniversary PSP release, The War of the Lions. This feels like the definitive version, with a delightfully florid “Game of Thrones”-inflected translation, extra classes, new hidden characters, and animated cutscenes. The new cutscenes feel very much of their time, but the game plays and beautifully. The additions are all fun and do little to break the balance of the game. This is the most widely-available version, as the PSP port was carried over to the PS Vita store, and is available now for IOS and Android devices.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is the bar by which other tactical games are measured. If you haven’t played it, set aside fifty to one hundred hours of your time. It is well worth the investment.

Advertisements

Hugh Likes Video Games: Type:Rider

Leave a comment

Type:Rider, A Typographic Videogame
Created by: Cosmographik
Played on PS Vita
Type-rider
What if “Limbo” was about fonts? This is the premise of Type:Rider a combination documentary and puzzle-platformer from Cosmographik. Players take control of a humble colon as they roll through levels based on the history of typography, from cave paintings all the way to desktop publishing. The level architecture is made up of huge landscapes of letters.
Type:Rider isn’t particularly challenging, but it is very clever in its design choices. For the most part, your : handles like an implied motorcycle. You can move forward or back, and you can rotate clockwise or counterclockwise using the L and R triggers to navigate terrain. If either of your periods hits certain obstacles, usually shown in red, you die and have to start again, usually close by. For the most part, all of the collectable goodies are easy to spot and collect, although a few require some thought or dexterity, particularly the hidden ampersands. But this is a game that wants you to collect its secrets, and the main game is quite casual.
Each World is devoted to a different style of font, and collecting asterisks scattered throughout the levels unlocks short articles about notable figures or events in the development of print.
There is a “Speedrun” course for each level that is much more challenging once you complete each one for more skilled players. The music in each level is thematic, but the compositions are short and have a droning quality that gets annoying after a while. The only other downside is that the game is very Eurocentric. Outside a few short sections in the “Origins” chapter, the game focuses entirely on Roman characters. I would’ve loved to learn more about typography’s development in other languages.
Type:Rider isn’t a longterm commitment of a game, but it is quite clever and the subject matter is unexpected and interesting. Playstation Plus members can pick up this curiosity for free this month. It is also available on Steam and for mobile devices.

Thank you for reading this article. If you enjoyed it, please share it! You can also support me on Patreon for fiction, articles, podcasts, and more!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Curses ‘n Chaos

Leave a comment

Curses ‘n Chaos
Tribute Games
Played on PS4 and PS Vita
maxresdefault
Curses and Chaos is a single-screen brawler with old-school charm and difficulty to match. The 1-2 Player game stars Lea and Leo, a tiny pair of mach-punching, booty-shaking adventurers under a curse. They are constantly under attack by monsters, and even Death itself! Their only ally, is an alchemist. She can cure them with the Elixir of Life, but she’ll need the ingredients to make it. And there’s only one way to get them: Fight the horde of monsters on their tail!
The game is played out on a single screen in a series of waves. Players fight ten waves of monsters, then the boss to unlock the next stage. Enemies enter from the right or left side of the screen on the ground or in the air. Each enemy drops either money or items that can be saved to make new items using alchemy between levels. Players can only save one or two items, so the money collected in each stage can be used  to buy more ingredients.
Curses and Chaos works because it rides the line between quarter-eating old-school challenge and modern free-play styles. Initially only one stage is unlocked, but once the player completes it they can choose any one to start from with three lives. And they will need them because this game is HARD. It isn’t unfair, though. Each enemy has consistent movement and item drops. They key to success is learning how they move and what they give you so that you can build a chain. The higher your chain, or luck, the better items and more money you get.
The pixel art in the game is gorgeous and detailed, if a bit blandly colored. This is good, because as a single-screen beat ’em up that relies on replaying levels over and over for more loot, you’ll be seeing a lot of them. The music is catchy and nostalgic 8-bit tunes that fit the game well.
Curses ‘n’ Chaos is a synthesis of old and new gameplay that will fit very well in your game library alongside games like ‘Shovel Knight.’ The gameplay is heart-pumping and addictive, often leaving you defeated, but ready to try one more time. PS Plus members can try it for Vita and PS 4 free until May 2nd. I highly recommend you do, but it is worth paying full price for.

Thanks for reading this article! If you enjoyed it, Please share it! You can also support me on Patreon for more content!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Broforce

Leave a comment

Broforce
Free Lives/Digital Devolver
Steam & PS4

Broforce is a fun and frantic action game that combines the military run-and-gun platforming of games like Contra and Metal Slug with the try-and-fail puzzle gameplay of Super Meat Boy.  An over the top sendup of 80’s and 90’s action movie cliches, it provides steep challenge but the amount of variety, and the speed with which hte game resets after you lose a life make for an addictive combination.  This is a game that I often started intending to play only a few rounds, only to find that several hours had passed without realizing.
The player controls a small army of ‘bros,’ each of which is a parody of a recognizable 80’s or 90’s action move hero, with part of their name replaced with ‘bro,’ such as “Commandbro’ and “Brogeiver.”  Each has some kind of projectile, a melee attack, and some kind of special ability.  The goal is to navigate levels filled with Terrorists, Satan (yes actual Satan,) and Xenomorph-like aliens.  Players can free caged prisoners to get extra lives, but each time they do their player character changes to a new Bro, who plays slightly differently.  So if you are playing with a character you really like, rescues present a neat little risk/reward.  The goal is to reach the end of the level, which is sometimes difficult because just about every bit of 2D pixelated ground is destructible, meaning you can easily blow up ladders and bridges you need by firing wildly, which the game encourages with the hoard of enemies you’re up against.  You are rewarded with blasting guitar riffs and flashing red white and blue lights on the PS4 controller as your Bro flies to safety hanging from a helicopter, as you do.
Broforce is so commuted to its bro-tastic, jingoistic stance that, much like Paul Verhoevens “Starship Troopers,” I’m only mostly sure it’s a parody.  The general who gives you command briefings says things like “I’m pretty sure this is a country.” and “Explode them with Freedom!”  And there is a dedicated button which makes your little pixelated character flex.  There is also a local and online multiplayer function, so you can play this game solo, or with your own bros.
Broforce is a downloadable video game from Steam and Playstation network.

Thank you for reading this article.  If you enjoyed it, please share it.  You can also support me via Patreon to get more content.

Hugh Likes Video Games: Velocity 2X

Leave a comment

Hugh Likes Video Games
Velocity 2X
Published by FuturLab
Playstation 4/Playstation Vita
Velocity2X
“Velocity 2X” is a neat little indie game that defies classification.  The sequel to “Velocity Ultra,” it follows the adventures of ace pilot Kai Tana and her prototype teleporting space fighter the Qwarp jet as she fights an evil alien empire and searches for a way home.
Mashing up a traditional shooter with tricky teleportation puzzles, “Velocity Ultra” was a blast to play.  The sequel expands on it just about everywhere, with touched-up graphics, a delightful story, more bonus content, and platforming sections.  I expected the latter additions to break the flow of gameplay, but they are just as fun and challenging as the flying.  The controls and abilities used on foot cleverly echo what you do in the cockpit, and feel very organic.  Thanks to excellent level design, these sections feel like an enhancement rather than a disruption.
The other main enhancement in the sequel is a much beefed-up story.  Kai’s one-woman assault on a stock empire of war-like aliens feels like both a trope and an inversion.  She is hardly the first lone fighter pilot to go up against a fleet of aliens, but having her invade them, backed up by a slowly forming revolt of enslaved pacifist scientists, feels perfect.  Kai is an outstanding character of the mold we see too rarely in games.  She’s equal parts sass-mouthed and kind-hearted, and she’s a big enough bad-ass to back it up.  She’s got Samus Aran and Lara Croft in her DNA, and she is a one-woman army, not a sex object.
The gameplay remains strong overall, and the challenge ramps up at a nice curve for new players.  By the end of the game, you’ll be straining both your reflexes and your puzzle-solving skills to complete the labyrinthine mazes of each level.
Velocity 2X is a fun, challenging indie shooter that defies both genre and convention.  It is available for PS4 and Vita as a download from the Playstation store.
Patreon