Momentary lapse of reason

What am I doing at the office at 8 a.m.? No one but marketing even gets here until 10 or 11. It’s sort of eerie being alone here — just me, a museum’s worth of stupid collectibles and game swag, and the vaguely dorm-room-like odor that is the trademark of 1UP headquarters. Yum.

Looking at a magazine over some person’s shoulder on the train this morning (rude, yeah, but it was crowded and I standing and didn’t really have much choice), I discovered that Amy Winehouse is only 24. That’s probably the most shocking thing I’ll learn all week. I figured she was more like 42. But at least now we know what avoiding rehab will do to you.

Also, I finally finished Final Fantasy Tactics Advance last night — by which I mean I stopped playing once I reached the point where three laws are active at once. I toiled through for a few fights until I found myself in a battle against a team of Tonberries while being restricted from attacking, using techniques or hurting animal-class enemies — meaning that even if I had the abilities that would let me fight them, I’d lose for winning the fight anyway. Much as I hate to drone on about clichéd points of criticism: Seriously? This was someone’s idea of good game design? What. Ev. Er. So, I am cleansing my palate with a splash of Metroidvania before going to more ambitious things. Like, I dunno, maybe finally playing Fallout. In the meantime, I’m finally enjoying the fruits of my labor of a few years ago when I completed a 100%-soul run of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow — now I’m doing a New Game+ hard-mode run where I can just focus on running around using all my powers and not having to worry about the collection element. It’s even better than before! Especially since my weapon of choice is a handgun, which gives the whole thing a slight Mega Man feel.

What do you mean, that’s stupid and nerdy? Of course it is. I’ll take whatever little indulgences I can get these days.

31 thoughts on “Momentary lapse of reason

  1. You quit FFT:A at exactly the same point I did; and for exactly the same reason, which I’ve ranted upon in the forums more than once. The law system should have had some checks in law generation, like level generation in a roguelike, to prevent the Kobayashi Maru situation that hits you like a baseball bat to face. Instead, it plays out like the man that created that system actively hates games.

    As opposed to Etrian Odyssey II, which just likes to see you squirm, but treats you like MacGyver–you can always construct a way out of a situation if you have a paper clip and a chocolate bar or, baring that, the right skill set.

    Sorry to hear your year is going so badly, but you’re not alone. 2008 is a crappy year for most people I know. Can’t wait for it to be over.

  2. I endorse your interest in Fallout because of the many play options that Fallout offers. If you want to be a pacifist diplomat, you can. Or you can be a badass sniper.

    Just stay away from the console Fallout games. *shudder*

  3. Man, I love doing that in Castlevania. With Aria of Sorrow, I just run around with the positron rifle and throw hot curry. It’s a blast.

  4. Amy Winehouse writes interesting music, and has a very interesting voice, both of which are mitigated by that frightening mound of cthulu that has taken residence on her head.

  5. Yup, I’m doing the curry thing, because otherwise what’s the point? I guess I should go earn the positron rifle, though.

  6. Yes, you can play the Fallout games any way you want! As long as you don’t want to, you know, finish the game. Then you’d better play in some pretty particular ways.

  7. I’ve often wondered why Amy Winehouse smokes crack. I thought the government made that stuff for the ghetto. She’s famous, so you’d think she’d be well beyond crack right now.

  8. I don’t normally espouse piracy, but in Winehouse’s case I think an exception has to be made. I was going to buy her last record, but I didn’t want to support her various addictions. I don’t want to wake up one day and find out she’s died, and feel complicit.

  9. In FFTA aren’t laws randomly generated? I thought you could always restart with new laws (I know it doesn’t work that way in A2 but it’s been a while since I played the first). Not defending the laws but I always thought there were ways around them.

  10. Well, you can pad reset constantly to get conditions that actually allow you to win, yeah. But if you have to do that just to get through it, it kinda means the game is broken. That’s something I’ll tolerate from crappy budget PS1 games, but not from a Final Fantasy game. (Hell, I’m glad everybody else had to do that too. I felt like I was cheating or something!)

    Sure hope your year picks up, Parish. Mine is bucking the trends of the last couple and sucking less, but I’ve always been slightly out of step with everybody else.

  11. You can preview what laws will be in effect before starting a battle and simply move around on the map to change them. No reset necessary. The law list always repeats in the same order, until you reach a plot point that causes it to change.

  12. I did a replay of Harmony and Aria earlier this year. I found it a real shock to go back as there’s so much you take for granted in the DS games that you suddenly have to do without. Also, Aria’s Claimh Solais may be one of the most incredibly borked weapons in all of gaming but you don’t need to feel guilty for using it in a hard-mode game.

  13. I thought you met the guy who doles out law-canceling cards by the time you hit the three law battles? Ah well, you’re only causing yourself undue frustration by playing the game in your sparse free time. Throw your curry with utmost glee.

    What the heck brought you into work so early? Feeling productive?

  14. Hm, preparing yourself for a Fallout 3 review down the pipe (like you did when you played through Halo 1 or 2 last year)?

  15. I have no intention of reviewing Fallout 3… and I’d already played through the first two Halo games several years ago.

    I’m familiar with the way to track laws and game the system, but I shouldn’t have to reset and restart over and over so I can have a chance of winning a fight. And so far as I can tell the card shop never, ever sells anti-laws for current restrictions.

  16. What if your job was to be a candid photographer who is to follow Amy Winehouse around the world? I guess that’s why there are so many unclear shots of her out in the media world.

  17. There were usally other ways to deal with these situations, if you had the right abilities. In this case I think you could control a couple of tonberries at a time and have them attack each other? Memory fails me. Alternatively you could use generic antilaws (R1, R2, etc.) I didn’t use my antilaws in normal gameplay and just kept them around for cases like these. And finally you could just go ahead and break the laws, which in many cases didn’t have a lot of consequences. For instance you might not have been awarded AP for the battle.

    I mean, I know it’s kind of annoying but it’s also rare and usually not that big a deal. Think of it as a “challenge” to your munchkin skills.

  18. Except munchkining isn’t necessary in FFTA, because it’s so disgustingly challenge-free. The laws were an ill-considered attempt to compensate for the utter lack of difficulty by imposing artificial constraints rather than adjusting the game balance. It’s a bit like trying to make an overly-easy Mario level more difficult by killing Mario any time he jumps.

  19. Thing is, you’re still describing a game that is actively trying to frustrate your efforts to enjoy it. To me, a challenge is “Can you make this jump? Or beat this boss?” et cetera. Not “Can you keep from hurling this game across the room?” And an exercise in munchkinry kind of flows the other way to me- it’s when you try to break the game, not trying to keep the game from breaking itself.

    Seriously, the second thing I heard about FFXII that excited me (the first being Yasumi Matsuno’s involvement) was that I was gonna get to beat the living hell out of some Judges. So satisfying!

  20. “I’ve often wondered why Amy Winehouse smokes crack.” Probably ecause she’s addicted to it and hasn’t developed a taste for higher-class drugs yet.

  21. Unless things change further into the game, breaking a law has 2 consequences:
    – You cannot resurrect any fallen allies
    – You do not get bonus loot after the battle

    Am I missing something? Do the penalties get worse? Because I’ve had only one battle so far where I felt I had to break a law and just dealt with the consequences – no biggie.

  22. Guys: antilaw cards. They drop like candy out of a pinata. If you are not using them regularly, you are Doing It Wrong. The game’s story, what there is of it, makes it clear that you’re supposed to be weaseling out of the laws.

    I’ll agree that the game is very easy to break, though. I don’t mind that so much, battles take a long time to resolve.

  23. I remember getting jail time for some of my characters when they broke the law. I am pretty sure you needed to pay fines that got steeper over time.

    As Merus mentioned, those antilaw cards become pretty prevalent as you get deeper into the game. At some point, the laws really stop meaning anything and it is almost like the judge is no longer there. What difficulty the game held (beyond the “final” boss) drifted off when laws lost their relevance. It almost seems like a social commentary in that sense. :/

  24. No, antilaw cards were very rare in my game, I dont’ know what FFT:A you played. Maybe I didn’t play far enough to unbreak the system. I had battles you could NOT win because you’d send your entire party to jail before you could kill the enemy.

  25. FFTA2 doesn’t send your party members to jail, at least not yet. The penalties just don’t seem like enough of a deterrent to warrant all the bitching. Again, I’m only about 10 hours into the game so that part may change/get worse…

  26. I was referring to the GBA game in my post, not the DS sequel. A2 drops some of the bone-headed stupidity of the law system, but it screws up in completely different areas to compensate.

  27. It’s been a while since I played FFTA, but I never had a problem getting around the law system, and even enjoyed weaseling through. IIRC, anti-law cards were pretty common for me as well.

  28. There is also a guy who will trade law and anti-law cards in one of the cities. For the most part, you don’t need law cards – I’m told that enemies will sometimes respect them, but in my experience they get in the way more than they help.

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