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Integrity

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About Integrity

  • Birthday 08/16/1991

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    always have high high hopes

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    He/Him
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    Free D, Lobby 3

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    Fates: Revelation

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  1. DAVE THE DIVER (MINTROCKET, 2023) Finished: 20/2/24. Playtime: 35.3 hours. When it rains, it pours. It's always funny when multiple weeks-long projects converge by accident with a shorter one to produce more posts in a week than some entire months get, isn't it? Dave the Diver is the absolute poster child for scattergun game design. Complete kitchen sink bullshit. Concocted as "a game to represent the essence of fun" by Korean titan Nexon's fresh subsidiary Mintrocket, I'm modestly positive that the developers of Dave the Diver simply took every idea that they thought was good and did their best to make a cohesive product out of all of them. A less-corporate-feeling Resident Evil 6, if one will. Unlike Resident Evil 6, though, it largely comes together well. Your gameplay loops chiefly between a 2D swimming game with a harpoon gun (and, later, other options) to catch fish as you go deep into the ocean, and a Cook, Serve, Delicious! lite serving simulator each night to make money to fund the diving. It's a simple loop, but it absolutely works, and I'm known to be a sucker for anything that can be vaguely compared to the core loop of Recettear. There's not nearly as much variety in the swimming or serving as the game seems to purport early on, but there's just enough to get through the game's story without the tedium setting in. The tedium is, unfortunately, far more a matter of when than if, but you're still getting an easy 20-25 hours out of it by my reckoning. Dave the Diver attempts to spice things up by minigamizing everything. I mean fucking everything. There's three different minigames to serve three different kinds of drinks during the food rush, in addition to grinding wasabi for your head chef. You unlock, hell, four or five different tools to accomplish one- or two-time minigames while exploring the ocean, which are then discarded. There's about two and a half stealth sequences, but nothing at all like that in normal gameplay. There's a casino that you get access to halfway through the story with its own entire set of games. You control other guys a few times. You participate in cooking challenges that drop you completely cold into a Cooking Mama-style food preparation game. I'm not even touching on the phone games (including a complete set of Tamagotchi to collect and raise) or all the different side-objectives you get while diving or any of the actual restaurant management stuff - because not only do you get to manage your restaurant, you also get a second restaurant that's managed exclusively by people you appoint and you have to send them ingredients and personnel to function, and you get three different types of farm to manage as much or as little as you want to on top of those. There's even a free DLC tie-in with Dredge that involves, as you would expect, a complete recreation of the sailing and dredging mechanics from that game and animated renditions of a handful of the aberrations. While all of it is ultimately shallow content, the game equivalent of Val Kilmer's Top Secret!, the sheer unbridled breadth of it all is a little bit staggering. I think a big part of it comes back to a comment I made about The Great War, and many other times besides. Dave the Diver has all the elements of a hundred-hour roguelite fishing experience to it, and I could see someone being taken by those and thinking it's something it's not, but in the end it's a 25 hour game for 20 dollars. It's not a deep game, it's not a forever game, and it never really pretends to be. It's a game that I wholeheartedly recommend pretty much anyone look into, and you'll know within the first hour if you're going to enjoy the game or not. The game doesn't terribly outstay its welcome if you go for 100% achievements, but it does gently outstay it. A game day is divided into three time periods: morning and afternoon are strictly for diving, and last One Dive no matter how long or short that takes. Evening is initially for One Shift at the restaurant, but later you gain the ability to do a nighttime dive (or, occasionally, a Dredging) at the cost of one third of your restaurant hours before you do the One Shift. I saw the game's story through in 43ish days, began to feel the fatigue setting in around 52 days, and finished the achievements on Day 60 exactly. The last three or four days were just wheel-spinning, completely out of achievement-related things to really work on besides passing the time. Completion essentially just relates to playing the game a lot. Get Bancho Sushi to the top rank, see all except one of the sidestories through to their conclusions, take most of the pictures, discover all of the guns, upgrade your farms all the way, and such. Only one thing is missable, and that's during the Metal Gear Solid parody level (which is there, for some reason!) you can eat some food off the ground. Most people get this by accident - it's pretty in your way - but if you miss it, you'll need a whole new file to get back there. Everything else just comes as you go, keeping going into the postgame after beating the story to get more fish and wring all the blood out of the stone. My last two achievements were to evolve five different Tamagotchi, with an arcane system that you pretty much need a guide or a lot of personal grit to get through, and to feed the cat 20 times. I didn't see a single tin of cat food in the last 9 days of diving, until finally finding my 20th on the afternoon of Day 59. Poor little guy. If you don't mind a little tail-end grind for stuff like that, a few hours of tedium to cap off a good game, Dave the Diver is not at all a chore to max out and you'll have a lot of fun most of the time. Keep the food in mind, ignore any guides at all until the end of the game and don't worry even if you fail some things - everything comes back in the postgame except the rations, and you can figure out what's left to do after the credits. I like games like that a lot.
  2. FINAL FANTASY III (SQUARE, 1990) Finished: 19/2/24. Playtime: 18.2 hours. Here's the upset of the fucking century. I played Final Fantasy 3 DS ages ago and completely bounced off it. It was such a terrible game that I never made it far past the Viking bit. It was, by a distance, the worst Final Fantasy I had ever played, and might even have held that title in the face of spinoff titles like Dirge of Cerberus. Final Fantasy 3 DS is an awful game. Final Fantasy 3 Pixel Remaster is a fucking fantastic game, what the hell? What happened? It's not a game without flaws, to be sure, some of the warts of 1990 Famicom absolutely show through, particularly as the game runs on. But, particularly with the quality of life brought by the Pixel Remaster (quicksaves, no job change penalties, maps, etc.) the sheer quality of game underneath manages to shine through. Final Fantasy 3 is a game with heart, to a genuinely incredible degree. Every ounce of it drips with the joy of kids on an adventure with sticks in the woods behind the house. The dialogue is cheesy as shit in a completely-deliberate way, the story is simple and fun, and the game hardly even distinguishes between which party member is talking at any given point because it honestly does not matter. The jobs aren't guys in outfits, they're completely idealized forms of the class, because it isn't Kid 1 dressing up as a Black Mage, it's Kid 1 imagining himself as the perfect Black Mage. It rules. It's such an amazing vibe. What about the game, though? It's fun! Final Fantasy 3 invents the job system to be carried forward into all of the good Final Fantasies in the future, and while it's rudimentary, it's still a fun time. Jobs in this one are pretty fluid but reward you only for sticking with a single job, not a family of jobs or anything. There's nothing to port over between jobs, and no real reason to poke around. It's definitely the first stab at the system, but it's the first stab at an absolutely legendary system and it does a lot to elevate the game. They do play with it a bit early on, with dungeons that require all your guys to be wizards, but they don't really get too creative with it. Understandable, I think. There's also some fuckularity with job balance, particularly later as everything converges into the Eureka jobs late in the game. I did not succumb to this temptation, and kept my extremely aesthetic Viking - Devout - Knight - Magus to the end of the game. Screw you, Ninja. The dungeons and world are both improved over 2's versions to absolutely bonkers degrees. There's optional dungeons again, and the world is gated in incredibly unexpected ways (you get a fuckin submarine!!) to encourage exploration like how 1 did, rather than how 2 failed to. Dungeons themselves are much more organic in the scheme of 1, rather than the bespoke space-filling paths of 2. It's just a far better put-together game overall... up until the end. The Crystal Tower and World of Darkness are infamous among RPG fans for a reason, being an impressively-long series of dungeons including some awfully hard fights. Legendarily, the Famicom version of 3's Crystal Tower to endgame fiesta tends to last about three hours if you're paying attention and playing well, with no breaks to save and scant breaks to replenish your resources. It's much more palatable in the Pixel Remaster, with quicksaves to fall back on and quicker gameplay, but it's still an insane difficulty spike even after having done all optional content in the game. Still, it's barely a sin. The game looks amazing, with a lot of stupid little animations to enjoy and some absolutely wonderful messed up guys for enemy sprites. The game sounds amazing, with some of the best music I've heard in a Final Fantasy to date, including the modern ones. The game's fun and playing it feels personalized to a degree that 1 nearly landed and 2 never got close to. Scrungler, COOLRANCH, Luneth, and Greg represented a party not quite like how anyone else I know played it, and it brought me sincere joy to slug through. The achievements are in the vein of 2's, with less missable stuff. Get all the treasures (and all the hidden items, not in chests), meet every monster, and a handful of other crimes. Get all the Eureka weapons, get one guy to Job Level 99, stuff like that. Nothing nasty, and as long as you're cognizant of the handful of one-time dungeons, you can vibe through it pretty handily. Honestly shocked by how much I enjoyed Final Fantasy 3, clawing its way out from the bottom of the lists of all the Final Fantasies I've ever played. Miracles happen every day if we know where to look, don't they?
  3. MEGA MAN LEGACY COLLECTION 2 (CAPCOM, VARIOUS) Finished: 17/2/24. Playtime: 43 hours. It's back! While the games themselves were hit-and-miss, I did enjoy the improvement loop of the first collection enough to splash on the later Mega Men and see what opinions I could cook up on them. That's really the final goal of all of this, in the end: concocting capital-O Opinions. I'm finally slugging through Engage for the first time as I write this for exactly the same reason. Let's get cooking. Same caveats as the first post apply. MEGA MAN 7 (1995) I liked Mega Man 7. If 6 was just a kind of neutral good, this was just kind of a neutral good+. The transition to the SNES did wonders for how the game played at a fundamental level, having things like 'buttons' to work with in development, but my most common deaths were still 'jumped when I meant to slide or vice versa'. I wonder if any of these Men will change up the controls to fix that. Besides that, the Man typing was goofy but ultimately pretty memorable, and while a few were kinda shitty (Turbo, Shade), only one truly sucked out loud (Slash Man). The Wily stages were, as usual, a step down from the main game and occasionally super rude, but nowhere near as bad as in the bad games. The true final Wily fight, Wily Capsule 7, blew absolute ass, but if I docked a Mega Man for a crappy final phase of the final boss too hard I'd hate every one of these damn games. He took three E-tanks, which is silly, but he only took four tries to get through. Not that bad in the scheme of things. One point about Mega Man 7's design that I think keeps it below 4 is that I've actually beaten most of the game twice for a simple reason. 7 has a lot more optional collectibles (many of which can be bought in a shop too, so you can ...grind in your Mega Man), and the four letter plates in the first four stages combine to give you the Super Adaptor, without which I just washed out of Wily Castle, put the game down for six months, and ended up restarting. So I'd say I liked 7, but with a pretty non-trivial caveat alongside "liked" there. MEGA MAN 8 (1996) Mega Man 8 was a weird game. I've gathered it's a bit of a black sheep, and kind of killed mainline Mega Man games for like twenty years, and honestly I kinda see why. That's not to say I didn't find things to like about Mega Man 8 - the back half of the robot masters genuinely have some pretty good stages (Sword Man being the standout), and the couple of Gradius stages were always welcome on account of I just really like Gradius. The theming was weird overall, though, and the game suffered from a total lack of cohesion in design and a wild lack of memorability. The Wily stages, Gradius section aside, sucked insanely, though. Worse even than Mega Man 7's. Yeesh. While Mega Man 8 wasn't a bad game overall, if not a particularly good one, there's still an elephant in the room. Mega Man 8 is an unbelievably cringe game. The conversations are longer than any other game's, there's periodic anime cutscenes (and they're baaaaad), and just overall the game leans harder into having A Story than the previous games, and it is far to its detriment. Wily himself suffers the worst, with about a minute of roleplay before every single attempt at his two-phase fight - and worse, it involves Proto Man. MEGA MAN 9 (2008) After Mega Man was kill came Mega Man 9, a deliberate throwback in pretty much every way. And honestly? You all read my thoughts on the 8bit Mega Men - I was not excessively kind to them, and I really only liked a single game. I liked Mega Man 9, though. The stages are more hits than misses (though they have their misses), but the game chokes hard in the Wily stages. It's a Mega Man tradition, I guess. Still, I didn't find myself feeling as bad about them as I did many previous Mega Men on account of they did feel deliberately designed and not particularly slapped together. They were bad, but they were bad with a purpose. They represented an idea that wasn't quite realized, not just a total miss. I can respect that. The outlier to this was the antigravity Wily screens. There's two sections where Mega Man gets inverted and floated upwards, and your only method of movement is to fire the Buster, which imparts velocity on Mega Man left or right opposite to where you shot. I don't know why, given as the concept is simple and the screens are not long, but these two sections were maybe the most fun I've had with Mega Man as a franchise so far. Wild. MEGA MAN 10 (2010) Of all the games in the franchise I've played, I would certainly count Mega Man 10 among them. It wasn't a terrible game, and I definitely liked it more than 8 overall, but it failed to crack the better half of the games it's deliberately aping. It seems silly to mock a late-era Mega Man for the Men theming, but it commits a horrible sin: one of the Men is Strike Man, and his stage is generically sports-themed, not baseball specifically. What the fuck! Besides that, it's just a bit forgettable overall, and the weapons they provide are anemic at best except for Blade Man's, and Blade Man himself might have been my least favorite Man to date. Even the Wily stages just aren't really worth remarking on. There's another Devil, tedious flying blocks and all (why do they keep doing this), there's a take on the antigrav from 9 that's just worse designed and less fun, there's a series of fights against classic era Men but in the laziest way possible, where it's just generic diamonds that use their attack patterns. The Wily fights might or might not be hard, I have no earthly idea, because I had a whopping six E-tanks going into them and just wanted to tank through and end it. None of it is interesting to talk about. I'm shocked I strung together this many words about the game. The ranking now expands: Mega Man 4 > 9 > 7 > 6 > 2 > 10 > 5 > 8 > 1 > 3 THE REPLAYS Unlike the first collection, a clear of each game is insufficient for completion. Mega Men 9 and 10 have alternative characters (Proto Man in both, Bass in 10) who are playable, and there's an achievement for finishing each of those three bonus runs. MEGA MAN 9 [PROTO VER.] Proto Man is intended as a challenge run for 9, and I presume will be for 10 as well. His deal is that he gains back the buster charge and the slide from past Mega Men, but in exchange he has no access to the shop and takes double damage from all sources. It sounds nastier than it is, honestly - most of my deaths in this game are environmental because I'm kinda shit at platforming, so this downside only really killed me on bosses with any regularity. Lacking the shop does mean that he doesn't get access to the Energy Balancer, a nice little quality of life tool that makes weapon energy you pick up automatically siphon into unequipped weapons if it can't fill the one you've got, and I missed that a lot. It also means that he can't stock up on E-tanks to cheese his way through the final boss, which sucks because Wily 9 is a tremendous pain in the ass. I scavenged three of them through the game, though, and needed all three to beat Wily Capsule 9. Still, nothing really held me back, and I pulled off the Proto Man run in a few hours in a single session, and got to play more Mega Man 9 as a treat. MEGA MAN 10 [PROTO VER.] Interestingly, Proto Man's toolkit made large swathes of Mega Man 10 much better. He's the same as he was in 9, but with access to the shop. A lot of the more tedious bits of stage design in 10 ended up papered over significantly with the slide, access to charged shots, or even just the fact that he starts out with Rush Jet rather than only getting it for the back half of the main stages. I'd say I even had a decent amount of fun with Proto Man's attack on the first half of Mega Man 10! The Wily stages were absolute hell, though. Poor checkpointing, it turns out, sucks massively when you're taking double damage from everything. I took more combat and miniboss deaths as Proto Man in 10 as compared to 9 by a huge margin. All together, it just ended up kinda making me sad - there's clearly a decent game in Mega Man 10, just not quite fully realized, and instead it's just forgettable slop. During this run, I also watched a speedrun of Hard Mode just out of curiosity, and it brought to mind a conversation from the Discord from the other day: kinda like with 2D Sonic, Mega Man 10 seems like a game that it feels amazing to be really good at, but with the huge weight on its neck that unless I were predisposed to sink that time in, the first impression isn't good enough to convince me to put in the time to get to the point where the game 'becomes' good. Odd dilemma to have. MEGA MAN 10 [BASS VER.] Bass is a weird guy, kind of a mix of Proto and Mega Men. He's locked to rapid fire, no charge, and actually locked in place while he's shooting, which is hard to get used to. However, he can fire in any direction except straight down, which makes some things a hell of a lot easier. He retains the slide, mechanically, as a dash, but it doesn't squish his hitbox to get through one-tile attacks, but it does maintain momentum if you jump out of it. He doesn't get Jet or Coil, but can instead combine with his dog to go jetpack mode, flying around and firing a spread shot as long as energy remains. It's a nice way to skip whole sections of the game, but doesn't trivialize quite as much as you'd think from the description. The Bass run was, through some combination of experience and Bass' extras, by a good distance the easiest of the three runs. Just having seven-way shot smooths out so much shit on its own, let alone his other stuff. I ended up capped out on energy tanks by the end of the game, which made the Wily fights a little bit silly. Go ahead, hit me. I have more health than your phases combined. THE CHALLENGES They're back! The big change from the NES games is that there are no more cross-game challenges like the first legacy collection had. There's four discrete categories of challenges, one for each game, and you pick any 50 from 74 total to get gold medals in, as well as finishing the unrestricted boss rush for each game, which you'll almost certainly do along the way. Through some combination of no cross-game challenges, the screen mix challenges being limited to three longer runs (rather than the insanity of LC1), and more generous time limits overall, these ended up being worlds easier than the first set. On top of that, Mega Man 9 and 10 had all of their challenges in duplicate and triplicate, respectively, for Mega/Proto and Mega/Proto/Bass. I do want to call a little attention to this, because I think this actually enhanced Mega Man 9 pretty significantly - the loop changed from mastery and moving on in 1-8 to taking Mega Man through the pretty generous time limit, scouting places to change weapons and screens to use Jet, getting my gold over the course of a modest number of runs, and then turning around and fucking obliterating the same challenge as Proto Man. It felt fantastic. It felt so good that I'm genuinely tempted to reverse the 4/9 ranking at the top of the order. I'm sticking by my guns, for now, but I'll probably forget in the future and say that 9 was my favorite Mega Man. Not too big a shame, honestly! 10's generally-worse stages and need to do it three times outstayed the welcome, though. Typical Mega Man 10. Besides that, the list of challenges gives you the leeway to do zero <Buster Only> challenges, though all games have them, and zero Wily challenges if you so desire. I ended up getting golds on Wily 10, because one of the others is to do all nine Weapon Archive re-fights from 10 without dying - while the time limit is generous, time is absolutely not my issue with those. I stuck to bullying Wily a few more times. I'd already beaten him three times, after all - what's twice more? Honestly, there's not too much to say about the challenges compared to the first, and I think that's for the better overall. I definitely preferred this second set of games to the first, and while I wouldn't call any of them among my favorites, I am actually looking forward to starting Mega Man 11. That's obviously going to show up in this thread in time - if the first ten Mega Men and 30XX couldn't stop me, what the hell will?
  4. it's actually not odd, i circled back with the big boss and it's a skin issue. that's something i can fix, i just gotta get up and do it
  5. no, 1988 was only advanced enough for dual wielding. maria had a wizard staff in each fist and beat legions of men to death with them.
  6. yeah i was expecting to make a post like this for, like, 3 or 4, not "immediately" lol i really expected this one to be more like "ff2 is a weird ass game that has good ideas that ultimately don't quite coalesce" and it was not that basically, i expected it to be sonic cd
  7. FINAL FANTASY II (SQUARE, 1988) Finished: 14/2/24. Playtime: 19.2 hours. It's very difficult to avoid making a "guess it wasn't so final after all!" kinda joke, won't lie. Final Fantasy 2 was not the followup to Final Fantasy I wanted, though I do respect it as a historical relic. While Final Fantasy was very much a JRPG (before that was even a term) in the direct lineage of Dungeons & Dragons and the Wizardry games, Final Fantasy 2 is recognizably Final Fantasy, in the way that later games in the series would shape as an identity. It's got characters and a plot, though neither piqued my interest at any point at all. It's got a bunch of mechanical changes that would stick around variously, like dual-wielding, bows, the front-back row system, MP, flexible spell targeting, the fucking perspective trick secret doors, so many others. Most importantly, though, it's got so many of the trappings of later Final Fantasies - chocobos, dragoons, a shitload of iconic enemy designs like malboros, bombs, Behemoth, the list goes on. Despite debuting the iconic jobs and the perennial focus on crystals, just waiting to be perfected in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Final Fantasy is very much a fairly generic RPG. Final Fantasy 2 is the first truly Final Fantasy-type game. It's also just a way worse one. The thing peddled about a lot about Final Fantasy 2 is its weird progression system. It forgoes things like "growths" and "experience" to instead have a kind of prototype Elder Scrolls-style progression, where you get more intellect by casting more black magic, and you get more HP by getting the piss kicked out of you repeatedly. There's certainly elements of this system that I like, honestly. In particular, spending MP to raise your maximum MP did, for quite a while, keep me using magic when I was on my way back to town to get my guys' MP meters bigger. My guys getting stronger via hitting things is reasonably sensible, and getting bulkier by getting whacked the same. The problem, in practice, is twofold. First, that you're really overrewarded for committing hard to a playstyle early and consistently and punished for not doing that. I've always been a strong proponent of setting up The Engine in games like this - magic is nice, sure, but if you can't use it on every fight, you're lugging a little dead weight compared to having an extra fighter. The tradeoff is absolutely that the wizard will show up better in high-stakes combats, like boss fights. The problem with 2 in this regard, then, is that by constantly having my wizard conserve MP in fights, my wizard is not only not gaining more MP to be able to use spells in more fights, but is not gaining the casting stats needed for magic to have an impact when I do need it. On top of that, by autoattacking with the staves alongside my melee guys, my wizard is growing strength at the same rate they are. I had earmarked Maria to be a wizard, but by the time the fourth or so dungeon was done, she was just doing more damage in melee than she was with spells on all targets besides the dedicated magic sinks like flans, and this included bosses. By the final third of the game, she was oneshotting even those with crits in melee. As I continued to unga bunga into things, everyone just kept getting better at unga bungaing into things, and as such why would I change my tactics to grind up intellect? Maria was my highest damage melee fighter for most of the game, and every time she was hitting guys with sticks, she was rolling on a table to gain more strength, to get better at hitting guys with sticks. Second, that every spell and weapon class levels independently, and the system for it stymies progressing badly if you commit hard to a playstyle. Essentially, every character has a proficiency from 1 to 16 with every spell and every type of weapon. Your weapon proficiency determines your accuracy and damage to a punishing degree; when I was rocking, like, 4s and 5s in proficiencies I had to swap weapons on Firion and he went through a period of missing over half his shots until he got to rank 2. Your spell proficiency determines both the efficacy and the cost of the spell; there's no Fira or Firaga in this, Fire simply goes from Fire I (low damage, 1 MP) to Fire XVI (huge damage, 16 MP). There's a few awful holes in this, like the fact that Esuna I only cures blindness, not even poison, and you have to spam cast it to level it up to be able to use it to cure anything worth curing, but that's a separate issue. One problem with this is availability of weapons. Let's say, out the gate, you decide to take Guy out with axes, like I did. You get the starting axe, get a few upgrades, get the mythril ore, get the mythril axe, it's gravy. That's it, though. The next better axe you can get is the Ogrekiller, which is in about five hours of gameplay. Maria got enough staff upgrades that I had a pair of handmedown staves that were still better in every aspect than the best axe Guy had found at any point. Swords went through a similar, but shorter draught. There was a single knife, a main gauche I found in a box, between the starting knife and the endgame knives I was getting in the final two hours. On the flip side, staves were being consistently upgraded all game long - but I only ever found a single copy of the final staff, the Diamond Mace, while I was getting the final axes and swords and spears lamped into me from every angle. Maria ended the game, after dominating all game long, with a Wizard Staff from about five hours ago in her offhand, because nothing better ever arrived. It was still better than training up one of her other proficiencies from rank 1, though. The other big problem with this is how the leveling actually works. The short of it is that, at the end of combat, you gain experience equal to how many times you attacked plus the enemies' average level minus your current rank. The problem is that enemies cap out around rank 7, with a few 8s in the deepest final dungeon. As you gain weapon experience, you gain damage, and you start to oneshot. Maria got to rank 12 in staves in a certain dungeon, and didn't gain a single point of experience outside of boss fights for the next about four dungeons, because she was oneshotting enemies, and the algebra for weapon experience gain started at -4 for her, and no fights were lasting long enough for her to get that positive, so it was just rounding up to 0 every time. This might sound like it's not a big deal, but for me it completely undermines the feeling of the system. It takes a system that's based on usage and consistent gradual progression and makes it so that overperformance is inevitable and grinds your progression to a complete halt. The intent was to make it so that you couldn't grind shitty enemies to raise your skills, but in so doing they created a system where not grinding is the best way to not progress by the midgame. Nobody wins. All the while, too, Maria is gaining strength from attacking every once in a while, and I'm getting new staves, helping her continue to hit oneshot thresholds until the end of the game. Spells work identical to this, incidentally, with the extra caveat that you also need to grind up your MP to be able to spam them for progress. All told, these just combine to make leveling feel like an impossibly smooth progress with absolutely zero ding! moments, an endless series of +12 max HP and +1 strengths that all mean less than nothing, and all combine to feel worse than even 1's monolithic +1 HP levels. Further not helping this is the encounter variety and world design of 2. To put it bluntly, it's garbage. Monsters are recycled, not even recolored, at preposterous rates, including bosses showing up as trash mobs in the very next dungeon all the time. The encounter rate is obscenely high, eating time up for, as said, little progression, but with monsters that I quickly grew to oneshot and, even when they acted, generally did a pittance of damage. This carried forward all the way to the final dungeon, with a majority of enemies inflicting no major debuffs, being oneshot by 3/4 of my party, being outsped by 4/4 of my party, and if they got their action off it was to bite off 43 of Guy's 5,000 HP or to cast Fire XI for 18/12/24/31 across the party. On the other hand, it walked that tightrope of being both plodding tedium and high octane action, as interspersed with these losers that I could autobattle and alt-tab off of were things like coeurls, who caused an instant kill with every single attack they landed on me, or death knights, who would chomp off one to three thousand health off a guy with each attack. About half the dungeons had some random encounter or monster-in-a-box that was just ah, I hit autobattle unthinkingly during the fight intro and now my guest party member has died instantly, and possibly so has Guy. It's the worst of both worlds, where you can ignore 96% of random encounters and let autoattack do its thing, but that 4% might just game over you. Topically, the only game overs I recall taking in the entirety of the game was a chest with a Lamia Queen and six Coeurl. I opened it the first time, focused the lamia down, and four coeurl each landed an autoattack for 0 damage and instantly killed a party member. Reload. The second time, I was ambushed, giving the enemy a free turn, and four coeurl each landed an autoattack for 0 damage and instantly killed a party member. Reload. The third time was identical to the second. The fourth time, my first four actions killed four coeurl before the enemy got to act, and my living three party members finished the fight after the enemy acted. Horrible fight. That brings us to the saving grace of Final Fantasy 2: world and dungeon design. They're both worse than Final Fantasy's. The world is almost completely devoid of any feature to make you want to go exploring, being only a series of key locations that you must go to in order and have no real ability or incentive to go out of that order. Even once you get the boat, you gain the ability to go to about three total new places, and these are the three places you end up having to go in rough order to get to the next step of the quest. It's the most terribly barren linear-pretending-to-be-open world I've seen in a video game, possibly ever. The dungeons, meanwhile, are far bigger than the ones in 1, and they're comprised entirely of space-filling paths, multiple mutually inaccessible sections in a floor, perspective trick walls, doors that go nowhere, damage tiles, warp tiles, and exactly two trapdoors across the whole game. There's genuinely nothing to recommend about the dungeon design of Final Fantasy 2, it's among the worst I've seen in an RPG even before you factor in the insane encounter rate. To cap it off: the plot and characters are complete nothings and the music isn't nearly as good as in the first game, outside of the motifs that the first game already laid out like the generic battle theme. The dungeoneering themes, notably, have this absolutely pounding tension and pressure to them like in Nolan's worst film, Dunkirk, all the time, while you continue to eviscerate legions with no challenge. It's deeply annoying. 100%ing 2 is a lot more annoying than 1 for a simple reason: shit is now missable. The requirements are pretty much exactly the same: get all the treasure, meet all the monsters, learn the new Key Words that function as a prototype dialogue system, beat the game. This has a wrench in it that a handful of dungeons are one-time visits, and those chests are permanently inaccessible after you leave. Keep on your toes. Some of the enemies in these dungeons, but not all, are also inaccessible after leaving, and there's a worldchanging event midway through that changes the encounter tables on the overworld and removes a handful of enemies from the spawn pool. You have to be fairly meticulous and pay attention while going through the game to get it all, as compared to 1's far more vibes-forward approach where you enjoy the game and go back later. Unfortunately, I've got a bad feeling this is going to be the norm going forward. 2 does deserve a special shout for a pair of achievements: maxing out proficiency in a single weapon and a single spell. Maxing out a spell is simple yet tedious: load up on mana restoration items and go into a dungeon with damaging floor tiles. Turn off encounters, take a step, pause, and heal everyone individually. Progression is based entirely on how many times you cast the spell. I had to heal 99 ethers and 1 elixir worth of times (I dunno how many that ends up being, ballpark 2,400 mana of 12-15 cost spells) over the course of like four minutes to top it off. The weapon one is harder because, as said, you have to attack multiple times against your strongest available foes to even gain weapon experience past a certain point, and there's still several hundred experience left to earn after that point. People point to downgrading your gear to tier 1 shit, but I am a genius: enter the Healing Staff. The Healing Staff does no damage, and heals the target... but it's a staff. I found the worst trash I could, grabbed lunch, and set everyone but Maria to defend while Maria autoattacked with the Healing Staff. Start a new battle every six or so minutes because you can only level up once per combat, and Bob's your uncle. All told, I did not enjoy Final Fantasy 2, if that wasn't gently clear from all that. On the one hand, I think that it's quite a bad game with very little, if anything, to recommend it. On the other hand, it's quite a bad game in that uniquely late-80s-early-90s way, where a sequel would take a huge random shot in another direction and, depending on who you ask, flop utterly at it or be the continued-unmatched best game in the series. I'm glad, if nothing else, that I gutted through Final Fantasy 2 as part of the historic record, because it was at least fascinating to see the DNA of Final Fantasy coalescing so suddenly and so recognizably, including a lot of things I just assumed 4 had invented. We'll get there in time, though. Ever onwards...
  8. interesting, that box has been there for years for me i wonder if it was set to only appear for staff for a while and the new migration just fixed it and nobody knew???
  9. events have been around for over a decade and i don't think a single one's been scheduled since 2011 (they just all got scheduled as long series), you're just noticing them for the first time this, however, might be a recent break. i'll take a look at it after work today e: oh hey the recent forums update broke badges
  10. i like blitzball, you fool get in e: a fun fact: per steam global achievement metrics, fewer people have Won A Single Game Of Blitzball In FFX-2 than Have 100% Completed FFX
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