Final Fantasy XV

Date Completed: January 25th, 2018

In my opinion the Final Fantasy series peaked during the Playstation One era and has been in a gradual decline since.  While I haven’t played XI or XIV (since they are online only) all of the main titles since X have been slightly inferior to the game immediately proceeding it.  I had decided long before FFXV was released that if it was not ‘good’ I would officially be hanging up my Final Fantasy hat.  So, did the game deliver?  Periodically my wife would walk in on me while I played and I’ll let her statements speak for the quality of the game.

“All I’ve ever seen you do in that game is drive around in your car.”

“You’re fishing now! That’s new.”

“They look like a boy band from the 90’s”

“Is that a Cup of Noodles hat?  Final Fantasy has finally jumped the shark.”

Ready for Battle.

So the question that must be answered is “Was Final Fantasy XV ‘good’ enough?”  The answer is “It’s complicated”.

While playing the game I was constantly irritated by various aspects of the game that I thought were either boring or poorly executed.  Most of the game takes place in a vast open area that you traverse by driving around in your car.  You don’t have access to controlling the car at first but you can tell your driver where you want to go.  If you think a game where you watch other people drive is ‘fun’ you are clearly insane.  You do eventually gain control of the car yourself however it still mostly self-pilots and isn’t very much fun to drive.

I also found the combat system to be both boring and frustrating.  Combat is performed by holding down either the attack or the defense button.  While a button is held down combat is mostly automatic.  I rarely felt like I (the player) was necessary for success and that my role in battle could have been fulfilled by a strategically placed rubber-band.  The frustrating parts occurred when I’d encounter a critter that would kick my butt and I’d have to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I spent some time reading online about the combat system trying to find out if there was something I was missing (There wasn’t).  Usually the answer was ‘level up more, die less’.  Good advice I suppose.

Final Fantasy games are traditionally very story driven but I found the story to be….suboptimal.  The story is broken up awkwardly and it’s clear that some decisions were made with the intention of selling additional content after release.  The story as told in the game makes very little sense so I found myself reading supplemental material online to fill in the gaps.  It also helped to watch the YouTube animated shorts as well as the Kingsglaive movie (available for an additional fee).  Even if you invest the time and the money into all the supplemental material the story is kinda dumb.  Beautifully animated though.

I could spend a lot of time complaining about the failings of this game but I should note that I did enjoy playing it enough to stick with it for 80 hours.  My three-year-old daughter really enjoyed watching me play and especially enjoyed the characters (Prince Noctis was her favorite).  While the game might not do anything particularly well it also doesn’t completely bomb either.  If I could put a review on the cover I’d write “Utterly Average”.  While average might be considered ‘good’ by some I was hoping for more.

So, am I giving up on Final Fantasy?  It’s hard to say.  FFXV failed to meet my expectations but if Final Fantasy XVI looks amazing I’m sure I’ll find myself being cautiously optimistic once again.

  • Is it fun: Yes – barely
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  80 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: RPG



Bravely Second Demo – The Ballad of the Three Cavaliers

Date Completed: January 16, 2017

Not much to say about this game, it was just a demo.  I normally wouldn’t write about a demo but this demo was over 10 hours long so I figured it warranted a mention.  Even so you can probably tell by the fact that I’m posting this almost a year late that it wasn’t a high priority on my list of things to write about.  I highly approve of the strategy of creating demos that are separate and supplementary to the full version of a particular game.  I enjoyed the original Bravely Default Demo quite a bit and I found this one similarly enjoyable.  I’ve been playing the full version of Bravely Second off-and-on since beating the demo and if I ever get to the end of that I’ll do a proper writeup.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Final Fantasy Explorers

Date Completed: February 28th, 2017

Holy dull game Batman!  This game was unbelievably boring.  It’s almost not even a game.  It was really more of a tech demo than an actual game.  The game consists of exploring a continent by completing a series of missions.  Once you have completed a mission you are automatically warped back to the single town that is available in the game where you can select a new mission that let you explore further away areas.  There is no real story to follow that was discernible,  Something about crystals.  Square-Enix offered a collector’s edition of the game when they released it and I am SUPER glad I didn’t sink any money into it.  They’ve offered collector’s editions of several games now that turned out to be total duds.  I think this game could be turned into something interesting with more development effort but this release was barely a real game.

  • Is it fun: No
  • Score: 3/10
  • Length:  ~20 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Pokémon Yellow

pokemon_yellow_cover_art_by_comunello76-d4xfrr5Date Completed: December 28th, 2016

One day one of my college roommates said unto me “Mike, you should try playing Pokemon.  You may think it’s just a game for kids, however I think you will be surprised to find that is is a surprisingly good RPG.”  I trusted my roommate’s opinion so went off to the store to purchase a copy.  The nearest used video game story was a place by the name of ‘Funcoland’ (Since purchased by GameStop) however due to several bad experiences there we usually pronounced the name without the first ‘n’.  My roommate owned Pokemon Blue so I decided to purchase Pokemon Yellow.  After buying the game we went to the adjacent store and found Pokemon Yellow on sale BRAND NEW for 10$ cheaper.  So I bought Pokemon Yellow again and returned the first copy.



Pro Tip : Never type ‘Misty Cosplay’ into Google.

I was surprised to find that Pokemon was a surprisingly good RPG and I played the crap out of that little cartridge.  With my roommate’s help I managed to catch the first 150 Pokemon ( I didn’t know about the Mew glitch so I sadly never caught 151 ).  I really got into Pokemon after that.  I bought Pokemon Gold when it came out, and we had copies of Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap in the apartment.


Morbid much?

I don’t own my original cartridge anymore so when Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow came out for the 3DS virtual console I jumped at the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane.


Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

Something I learned about the past is that you can never go back.  Pokemon Yellow has not aged well.  Lots of frustrating mechanics have been ironed out in the many, many games released since generation I.  I forced myself to play all the way through to the end, although I ended up taking many breaks.


I remember these guys…

I had taken my kids to one of the Pokemon card events at Toys R Us and overheard a portly nerd in the line in front of my discussing the recently released Pokemon virtual console games.  “Of course I bought all three of them!” he explained to another portly nerd.  I’m happy to say I’m not that guy anymore.  I enjoyed the nostalgia but I’m only going to stick with just this one game.


Charizard FTW!


  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~20 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

91bfa0z2jl-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: September 24th, 2016

Holy Long Game Batman!  I was one of the few who owned the original version of the game when it was released on the Wii console.  I had started the game a few times but I never made it very far in and eventually I traded my Wii in for a Wii  U and lost my save.  I tried the game again on the Wii U but I never made it very far there either.  Eventually it came out for the ‘New’ 3DS and the portable form factor finally made it possible for me to sink the hundred hours into the game that were needed to beat it.

The ‘universe’ in Xenoblade consists of two massive titans (The Bionis and the Mechonis) who killed (or did they?) each other after some sort of timeless battle.  Several races of beings live on the bodies of these titans and naturally the beings on the Mechonis are at war with the beings on the Bionis.  Without giving too much away, the game will take you on an epic journey across the body of the Bionis.

The size of the game world is absolutely massive.  The scenery is breathtaking.  There are rivers, mountains, valleys, forests and swaps all magnificently realized with some amazing views.  The design teams plays fast and loose with gravity and there are tons of spots where it is possible to step right off the Bionis.  In fact, there is even an achievement for doing so.  This is the only game I can think of where I frequently found myself accidentally jumping off the world.


The true test of the quality of an RPG is of course the story.  I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the story and it reminded me of back in the day when Final Fantasy games used to be good.  It was a wild and insane ride, but it all made enough sense that I didn’t have to hunt down a Wiki that explained anything.  The main characters were all interesting, realistic and likable.  Overall I’d say this game is a job well done.


Like many other RPGs this game has way too many things to fiddle with.  There are weapons, armor, gems, skills, abilities, affinities and bonuses that make the whole system a little overwhelming.  The tutorials are vast but I always felt lost in the menus.  The FAQS I read online didn’t really help either.  I HATE paying for strategy guides but this certainly seems to be the type of game that needs one.

If you are the type of player who expects RPG characters to wear body armor that isn’t likely to protect you from a butter knife then Xenoblade may be the game for you.  While some of the armor available looked functional quite a bit of it could have doubled as swimwear.  The game isn’t sexist though!  The gents and the ladies both get the swimwear treatment.  In fact, I’ve seen the male character ‘Dunban’ referred to as the ‘Nekkid Ninja’ in forum posts.

Totally Functional...

Totally Functional…

Xenoblade Chronicles features a bazillion little side-quests in each area that took most of play time. The completionist in me hates missing anything but I found questing to get old quickly so I’d often push forward with the main story quest early.  It was always clear where the main story quest objectives were located, unfortunately I often found myself out classes when I arrived in a new area. I found that if I took the time to complete all of the quests in an area I was usually ready to go when I moved on.  So much for speed runs.

New Quest

Clearly more important than saving the world.

The graphics seem a little dated on the Wii, but they were more than passable on the ‘New’ 3DS.  It sucks that it’s not compatible with the older 3DS consoles but there were some occasions when the frame rate dropped and I doubt the older model would have been able to push as good an experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has the means to play it.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~100 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix

911khmDJL3L._SL1500_Date Completed: October 18th, 2015

Two years and two days before finishing Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMix finished with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix.  I had vague memories of beating Kingdom Hearts 2 when it originally came out but I remembered almost nothing of it except Sora gets a little bigger, and there was a 6 hour unskippable introduction sequence before the game really gets under way.

The game re-visits several of the (mostly Disney themed) worlds from Kingdom Hearts 1 and throws a few new ones into the mix.  The story this time around is a lot thinner.  I was never entirely sure why I was revisiting the worlds from the first game except I had a space ship and there were places I hadn’t been yet.  After visiting all of the worlds you get to visit all of the worlds AGAIN, then the final area unlocks which you can access from the WORLD YOU STARTED ON.  It all feels a bit like you’re walking in circles.

The game itself plays mostly like it’s immediate predecessor with the addition of ‘Drive Forms’.  Sora can use a ‘Drive’ to transform into a ‘Form’ that has upgraded abilities.  Each form has unique abilities and if you keep leveling up the forms you can use these abilities without transforming.  To make the game more fun attempting to transform will randomly transform Sora into a useless form called the ‘Anti Form’ which almost always results in Sora getting killed by whatever happens to be near.  Leveling up all of the forms is not something you’re likely to accomplish without hefty amounts of level grinding.

I realized something while playing this game.  Kingdom Hearts is awful.  Almost everything playing this game is frustrating from the story to the battle mechanics to the leveling system.  Lengthy cut-scenes had an irritating habit of popping up when I was looking for a save spot so I could turn the game off.  The story doesn’t make any sense and clearly wasn’t meant to be thought about too much.  The only redeeming quality is the lovable cast of familiar characters

My kids loved the game.  It’s very watchable and I think I would have preferred the game more if I was watching someone else play it.  I took several lengthy breaks from playing the game because I was rarely in the mood to put more time into it.  I told my wife while I was playing it that I was ready for it to be over.  I generally feel this way after playing Kingdom Hearts games and I am forced to wonder why I keep coming back to them.

I admit I’ll probably buy Kingdom Hearts III when it comes out but over the last few years I’ve rapidly lost enthusiasm for the series.  I don’t have as much time to play games as I used to and Kingdom Hearts won’t continue to make the cut if it doesn’t do something to shape up real soon.


  • Cast of familiar, lovable characters.


  • Insane story.
  • Awful battle system.
  • Repetitive level progression.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length:  ~40 hours
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Action / RPG

Pokemon Y

Pokemon Y Version BoxartWhen I started collecting vintage video games off eBay I briefly had an infatuation with Pokemon games.  I bought up the N-64 versions of Stadium and I had copies of Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Gold that I could play on them.  I also had versions of the Gamecube era games including (but sadly not limited to) Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Emerald.  I eventually reached a point in my life when I realized that you actually don’t have to catch them all.  After a brief stint in Pokemon rehab I sold all my old vintage games and I stayed clean for a few years.  Then one fateful day in February my kids got sick and I introduced them to Pokemon cartoons on Netflix (My wife was not pleased).  The kids enjoyed Pokemon so much that I started thinking the latest generation of games might be something fun to play with them.

Over the years I’ve collected many rare Pokemon from various events, either at GameStop, Toys R Us or Online.  I didn’t want to loose any of them, or the time I had invested into previous titles so I spent several days with two DS’s on my lap transferring Pokemon.  Almost all Pokemon games have had some mechanism to transfer from previous generations of the game, if you’re willing to jump through several hoops.  This generation requires the Pokemon Transport application, which is included with Pokemon Bank (which is a 3DS application available from the eShop and costs 5$ / year).  Transport can transfer 30 Pokemon at a time but it only works with 5th generation games.  Most of my Pokemon were still sitting in Pokemon Platinum which is a 4th generation game and is not compatible with the Pokemon Transport application.  First I had to transfer all of my Pokemon from Platinum to the copy of Pokemon White I still had laying around, which is a much slower process and is limited to 6 Pokemon at a time.  I spaced the transfer process out over the course of a week and while I didn’t keep detailed records I’m sure it took at least 4 hours.  There is something seriously wrong with you game when you spent more time managing inventory than you spend actually playing the game.

Eventually everything was transferred and I was finally ready to start playing the game.  Last year my third and final child (and my first daughter) was born.  This is relevant because for the first time in Pokemon history I played as a female trainer and I named her after my daughter.  I’ve named all the Pokemon trainers I’ve played since my first son was born after my children and now the trend has continued.


Lady ‘L’ on her Pokemon journey.

The game itself has gone through a visual upgrade but plays basically the same as it always has.  You wander around catching Pokemon and forcing them to battle each other.  Your goal is to collect 8 gym badges so that you can challenge the Pokemon League and become the ultimate champion.  Along the way a ‘Team’ of bad guys is up to no good and you have to defeat them.  The motivations of the ‘Team’ you face in these games has become progressively more insane over the last six generations.  Team rocket started as a Pokemon stealing ring and now, 5 generations later, Team Flare wants to use the ULTIMATE WEAPON TO ELIMINATE ALL LIFE EXCEPT TEAM FLARE.

Some strange stones...

Lady ‘L’ investigating some strange stones…

I’ve actually liked how the last few generations of Pokemon games have tried to portray a more complicated villain than the first few games.  Each team functions as a cult – they feature a charismatic leader who gathers followers that want to improve the world in some way.  They want to correct some perceived flaw in the world although they resort to extreme and illegal means to achieve their goals.

I thought my kids would enjoy watching me play the game as much as they enjoyed watching the show but they were only interested in small sub-sets of game play.  They basically didn’t care what was going on in the game unless I was naming a recently captured Pokemon, catching a Legendary or involved in a Gym battle.  The rest of the game didn’t hold their interest for very long.

Lady 'L' enjoying the scenery.

Lady ‘L’ enjoying the scenery.

I could talk more about new features such as the new Fairy type and Mega evolutions but these didn’t really do much to change the overall feeling of the game.  If you’ve played, and enjoyed a previous Pokemon title then there will be no major surprises in this game.


  • More New Pokemon
  • New ‘Fairy’ type
  • New ‘Mega’ evolutions


  • Transfer process from previous generations sucks (and costs 5$)
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  22 hours
System: 3DS
Genre: RPG