And vice-versa

That latest pair of previews I’ve cobbled together for 1UP proves that while everything old is new again, the reverse is also true.

Tomb Raider Anniversary is way better than I had expected — it’s no callow bit of shovelware but a total retrofitting of the best game in the series that keeps all the good stuff while bringing it up to current standards. You know how Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes tried doing the same thing but ended up being horribly broken because they just used levels designed for a more simplistic skill set? Anniversary’s levels are completely retooled so that Lara’s newfound ability to move without being constrained by a grid doesn’t let you simply breeze past entire chunks of the game. And it looks nice! So thumbs up all around.

Meanwhile, Etrian Odyssey is compulsively addictive in the best old-school way, and even includes deliberate throwbacks to old PC RPGs. You have to make your own maps! It’s quite charming. As is the character art. And then you venture into the dungeon proper and promptly have your sad arse handed to you by every new monster you encounter and you realize the charm is all a grim lie to lure you into a false sense of security. But it’s too late because you’ve begun customizing your team and are addicted to the exploration and level-building. I had to beg off reviewing it since the localization was (expertly) crafted by a good friend and former roommate/coworker, which I figure probably counts as a conflict of interest, but if I were reviewing it I would give it a glowing write-up, I’m sure. Glowing through the bruises inflicted by its vicious difficulty.

Also, yesterday’s Retronauts session was the best we’ve ever done… so for the time being I’m not feeling quite so gloomy about the venture’s future. We’ll see if we can sustain this quality. My guess is probably not. This is not pessimism! It is an extrapolation based on prior data.

19 thoughts on “And vice-versa

  1. Pokemon = BEST. RETRONAUTS. EVAR? Ack!

    That said, all of the Mega Man 2 mayhem that’s being spewed around the 1up offices this week would suggest that a Mega Man-oriented installment of the podcast may be around the corner, no?

  2. The best Retronauts ever is… Pokemon? Well, I’m excited to hear it, but… Pokemon? The best Retronauts is Pocket Monsters? I guess I’ll take your word for it. I’m excited to listen even if I’m not hype about the topic, just because I enjoy the show. But, you know all the forum kids will totally FLAME j00! Oooo, damn, how will you like that Parish? Getting not-so-wittily dismantled by all the 133t h@XX0rs on teh forumz? Yeah, take that!

  3. I really hope Tomb Raider Anniversary lives up to my expectations, as well, since I’m pretty much the only creepy diehard fan left. I just hope it’s more difficult/open-ended than Legend. Well, not really open-ended, it’s just that it felt like you were always walking along a straight line in that game. Granted, you’re basically doing that in TR1, but they disguised it in a lot of more interesting ways.

  4. Whoa, Etrian Odyssey looks incredible, thanks for bringing it to our attention. The map made me think of Nethack right off.

  5. I’m looking forward to both games. I’ve never been into the Tomb Raider franchise but I’ve got my eye on Anniversary. Glad to hear positive things about it. I’ve been interested in Etrian Odyssey back when it was still going by Yggdrasil Labyrinth. I’ll be crossing my fingers and praying that maybe the game just has a steep learning curve and gets easier as you progress.

  6. “It is an extrapolation based on prior data.”

    *Pessimistic* extrapolation! Everyone knows the right way to do it is to take the last two shows, approximate the derivative from those points, and use a linear predictive model. I predict quality — endless, boundless quality — as far as the eye can see!

  7. Etrian Odyssey differs from Nethack in one very important way: No randomly-generated maps. Also, it’s a five-person battle system. As for the learning curve… I played for five hours, and once I finally reached the third level of the dungeon I had my ass handed to me by the first monster I encountered. I’m pretty sure it’s tough through and through.

    And don’t be put off by the topic! Tomorrow’s Retronauts is the second one to truly make me proud (the first being the music episode).

  8. No one likes spending 10 hrs a week to make something they think is mediocre. We all understand that, but if it’s the quality of the work that bothers you now why not spend *more* time on them, and not less? Make them bi-weekly or even monthly, but with more structure, more planning, whatever it takes to make it something that you yourself can feel satisfied with.

    If you feel like it’s just not possible with the retronauts podcast, or if there’s something else that you want to do instead, I say go for it.

    /puts on trite old fogey hat +1

    In my own experience though, the grass usually isn’t greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you water it.
    Though there’s no point in watering a patch of weeds either.
    Whether you’re standing on a dry field of grass, or a patch of weeds, only you can decide.

    /leaves hat on and goes cosplaying in the park


  9. I’m glad the Pokemon show will be grand. I do so love the Pokemons! Can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say about them. Also glad to hear Etrian Odyssey is looking good. I also do so love to explore a dungeon!

  10. I get this feeling that Parish won’t be worried by the forum kiddies paying him out for giving serious examination to (unless I’ve forgotten one, no, Tales and the Soul Blazer trilogy don’t count) the no 3. RPG franchise in terms of popularity. This is because he plays retro games, reviews games harshly, and doesn’t think FF7 and Ocarina of Time are teh best ever!!!!1!!!

    He has a thick skin, basically. (That, or self-righteousness, but that’s harder to make a case for.)

  11. Wait, I forgot. Is “bi-weekly” twice a week, or every other week? That puzzles me every time.

    I have never played a Pokémon game. I think I tried the first Pikachu edition, but I didn’t get past the first field of grass. Do I need to get my Poké-groove before listening to the podcast?

  12. Bi-weekly is twice a week. Bi-monthly is twice a month.
    (I remember this because Marvel Comics Presents was Bi-Monthly)

  13. Usage lesson courtesy of Merriam Webster:
    Main Entry: bi·week·ly
    Pronunciation: (“)bI-‘wE-klE
    Function: adjective
    1 : occurring twice a week
    2 : occurring every two weeks

  14. I really liked the podcast, though I may be biased, since I’m a real Pokémon enthusiast. But I’ve listened to a couple of others, and liked them, too; I’ll download a few more and see if they feel as lackluster as you make them out to be.

    Also, I’m with the majority on the MMOPRG issue. The sense of “mastery” inherent in the single-player game is something that I think can be overlooked, and is. I don’t know many Pokémon players who’re content with just beating the story mode; they battle their friends, enter competitive battling circuits, or failing that, pop in Colosseum or XD which, despite their myriad painful features, contain ancillary battle modes with matches far more challenging that what you find in the basic handheld story. Expanding the roster of opponents seems like a logical progression. Which I guess is what they’re doing with WiFi-enabled batting for the fourth generation, so maybe there’s some hope for this insane venture after all.

    And because I’m a bastard, I’ll point out that the transfer mechanic with Diamond and Pearl only reaches back to the third generation, since the first and second were incompatible with the third, which basically forced us all to start over. Still, it’s a bit of a pain, and given the size of the third generation, transferring your favorites is looking to be a considerable task.

  15. Michael Nicolai — are you sure? Generally in publishing it’s the other way around (biweekly == once every two weeks), although of course outside of that specific professional context it could mean either one.

    (Also if you actually read Ruly’s post he obviously means once every two weeks …)

  16. So, that’s what it means.

    Anyway, I have no problem with hot pants (and I take hot pant-clad ladies quite seriously), but I do have an issue with hot pants in video games. I’m not fourteen anymore.

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