I recently picked up a Wii during a Gamestop sale (it was only $60, so I figured I might as well). Finding games to play on it for outside Mario, Zelda, and Metroid have been difficult, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon sitting on a shelf at the store.I’ve been a Final Fantasy Fan for as long as I have been playing games, and I figured Chocobo’s Dungeon couldn’t be any worse than Final Fantasy X-2 (which has a a special, awful place in my heart).
Gameplay: The first thing I noticed on the cover, is this game is intended for players ages 7 and up, which set up my expectations going into the game. I wasn’t going in to this experience looking for a fight against a boss like Ruby Weapon. Players control Chocobo, a small yellow chocobo, and guide him through dungeons to collect memories. For each step Chocobo takes in a dungeon, an enemy is allowed to take another step. This does necessitate careful planning if you venture into an area with multiple enemies, as well as an awareness of the range of Chocobo’s attacks depending on what class he is currently employing. There are eight classes that can be unlocked throughout the game (natural, knight, white-mage, black-mage, dancer, dragoon, dark knight, scholar, thief, ninja) which should be fairly familiar to anyone who has played a Final Fantasy game in the past. Some classes are unlocked through natural progression of the story, and others must be unlocked through special missions and hidden quests. You can only level each class up to level 8, so there is no need to spend hours level-grinding in the game, unless you are a completionist. That said, leveling up Chocobo’s classes is fairly easy, which is facilitated by being able to re-play dungeons that Chocobo has conquered in the past. Most of the dungeons are straightforward, Chocobo needs to navigate through each level of the dungeon until he reaches the bottom level. As the difficulty of the dungeon’s increase, so do the number of levels within each dungeon. Early dungeons are only five levels deep, while the final dungeon of the game is forty levels. In addition to typical dungeons, there are special dungeons. These side dungeons have special rules, for instance in one Chocobo only has 1 hp, and require more strategy and cunning to play through. Their addition to the game adds a way to take a fun break from the main dungeons in order to build your character and allow him access to new items and classes. Overall, the gameplay is what I would call “finaly fantasy light”. There are random encounters, the combat is turned-based in its own way, but the level of difficulty is low, and the dungeons are bounded, finite, and easy to leave if a player is feeling overwhelmed. I thoroughly enjoyed this low-stress variety of Final Fantasy gameplay, and I had fun seeing Chocobo dressed up in the different classes. The game should also only take up 15-25 hours of time to finish the main storyline, so it doesn’t require a large chunk of time to enjoy. Overall the class, combat, and dungeon system is engaging, while not as frustrating as some Final Fantasy games can be.
Story: The story of Chocobo’s Dungeons centers on Chocobo and a Cid character as they search for Timeless Power. After finding the artifact, Chocobo and Cid are magically transported to the town of Lostime within the isle of Memoria. All of the town’s inhabitants are slowly losing their memories each time the town’s bell, the Bell of Oblivion rings. Chocobo is not affected by the bell, and with the help of Shrima, a young white mage, and a magical infant from the sky, Rafaello, is able to enter people’s minds (in the form of dungeons) and unlock precious memories for each of them.
As more and more memories are unlocked, Chocobo begins to uncover the mystery of Memoria, and slowly learn of Rafaello’s origins. This ultimately leads to a calamity that Chocobo must face to save his friends and the townspeople. The story brings a solid narrative to the game, and unlocking new memories is made more enjoyable by the fact that you are learning new things about some loveable characters. The allure of unlocking more memories is an incentive for playing the mini-dungeons, which pay off in some interesting side stories. Again, this game is made for a younger audience than most Final Fantasy games, it does lack sweeping, vast, and interconnected story lines like previous Final Fantasy games. While simplistic and at times predictable, the story is cohesive and melds well with the gameplay. My only complaint is that the player is forced to view the cut scenes when Chocobo unlocks a memory. While most are engaging, there are times when the memories were unexciting or repetitive.
Gender/Race/Sexuality: While this game does continue to position women as white mages, (you can look at an explanation of the trope here) the game is inclusive of both genders on an equal footing, with female characters represented as much or moreso than male characters. Race is a separate problem, and one that Square Enix has traditionally not dealt with well. Part of the problem is that Japan is composed of a homogenous population, and Japanese gaming companies often lack an understanding of race relations in other countries. While they have attempted to address this with characters like Barrett from FFVII and Sazh from FFXIII, Square Enix clearly still doesn’t understand quite how to address this issue, and tends to employ all-white casts of characters in many of its Final Fantasy games. Sexuality is not discussed within Chocobo’s dungeons, which makes sense as it is targeted towards younger audiences, but the relationships presented in the game are heterosexual. This is no different than any other Final Fantasy game currently in existence, unless you believe that Cloud and Barrett should belong together. Overall, while the game is problematic in its adherence to heterosexual norms and the lack of diverse races, the gender portrayals of the game seem positive, as many of the women Chocobo encounters are both empowered and non-sexualized.
To Play or Not to Play: I would recommend this to anyone that owns a Wii. Although the game will predominantly attract players that enjoy JRPG’s the gameplay and story are accessible enough to invite a wider variety of players. Also, the game is so old at this point that it is fairly cheap (10$) to pick up a used copy. So if you haven’t played Chocobo’s Dungeon yet, GO. PLAY. NOW.
So, Thursday’s are usually the day I’ve set aside for posting pictures and other nonsense. Instead of cute nonsense, today here are some pictures from the patent Apple has filed for a dual-shock controller.
Looks nifty (and very familiar). For more information/speculation you can check out this article from Kotaku and this article from GameRevolution. Do you think this means we’re going to see an Apple gaming system, or are gaming apps just going to get more intense?
So today on “Would You Rather” I will be looking at two women who have made some large contributions to the geek world in different ways. I realize that my past few posts have been a smidgen on the serious side, so today I’m letting my inner fan-girl out and I’m look at two of my female role-models/idols: Felicia Day (left) and Anita Sarkeesian (right).
Naturally, one of your first concerns is probably: who would win in a fight? This is a difficult question to answer because both Felcia Day and Anita Sarkeesian have proven themselves to be valiant warriors against hordes of internet trolls. To determine their overall effectiveness in battle, let’s briefly look at various techniques employed in their most recent battles.
Felicia Day, actress, writer, and one of the masterminds behind Geek and Sundry (“an internet community centered around web videos dealing with comics, games, books, and hobbies) has recently been under attack by ex-Destructoid writer Ryan Perez, and by anonymous internet trolls over the music video “Gamer Girl and Country Boy“. In the case of the YouTube video, most of the negative comments have currently been deleted by mods, or down-voted so many times they aren’t displayed. However, if you look hard enough you can find comments like this, which perhaps gives you a general idea of what Felicia was up against:
back to Felecia, sometimes you can turn down a job, even for a friend.
no good came from this.
it was so bad, and your make-up is terrible.
The yellow shit on your eyes especially made you look like a ghoul, and you totally ruined those tetris pants.
I saw the girl in the ad for those i thought the pants looked pretty hot, but you taught me that the pants really look retarded,and that the other girl was just hot.
whoever did hair,make-up,and wardrobe on this video deserves stomach cancer.
Ah, the good old stomach cancer comments. Other comments were more in this vein:
Felecia can’t even sing, she cant really do much of anything…but i respect the way she puts on the whole geek act to corner the female nerd market and also get paid selling autographs and shit to losers at game and comic cons… everyone needs to get paid and her plan has worked nicely.
Felicia’s way of handling it? Introspective maturity, and letting mods be mods. In her blog post in response to the flaming of her video (the comments I quoted are some of the only negative ones still up, it appears the worst of these were quickly struck down), Felicia Day thanks her fans for sticking up for her, and carefully considers why she feels like the video sparked controversy:
Clearly a segment of guys on the internet HATE “Gamer Girls”. This is the part I don’t understand, why they are so frikkin emotional about it. They hate on this type of girl who “pretends” to game for attention. This archetype they can somehow factually attribute to a few women (then paint the whole gender with the brush) that exploit them for attention, cheapens their hobby with “casualism”…who knows. The irony here is that the “Hot Gamer Girl” is there because….guys click on them/watch them more than non-hot girls. So yeah, talk about creating their own problem, lol.
She calmly addresses the problem, tries to legitimately understand why it happened, and moves on, head held high, relatively unscathed from a horde of negativity. Unfortunately, anonymous trolls are not the only ones that have recently attacked Day for (in their eyes) being a “glorified booth babe.” Ryan Perez, formally of Destructoid recently posted on twitter at Felicia Day:
@feliciaday, Question: Do you matter at all? Do you even provide anything useful to gaming besides “personality”?
This article from Jezebel covers most of the controversy. Clearly, Perez is unfamiliar with the bulk of Day’s work, which has contributed both to gaming culture in the from of The Guild but also to actual video game content like the “Mark of the Assassin” DLC for Dragon Age II. So what was Day’s response to this outrage? A gracious acceptance of an apology after her fans (and BFF Whil Wheaton) defended her and Perez was fired. Felicia Day’s battle strategy could be best described as turning the other cheek, and being the better (wo)man. Unless you say she’s not a gamer. Watch this amazing video for Whil Wheaton’s advice on how to respond to trolls, and Felicia Day’s defense of herself as gamer:
So, clearly Felicia qualifies as a troll vanquisher, even though she typically employs non-violent means. Anita Sarkeesian., though still nonviolent, can best be understood as constant crusader against trolls, in the media and on the internet. Sarkeesian’s series of videos “Tropes vs. Women” look at various tropes that many popular culture texts share and perpetuate. These well-researched videos have helped illuminate misogyny in popular culture for many people. The videos are frequently used in classrooms across the country to introduce good media criticism to beginners in the field.
While the “Tropes vs. Women” series has had the occasional troll comment, this did not prepare Sarkeesian for the response that she was greeted with when she announced a new project “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Here’s the intro video to the series:
Hardly the most offensive video out on the internet, yet this short video inspired attacks on her Kickstarter, attacks on the Feminist Frequency website, and an online game where players got to beat up Anita Sarkeesian. Not exactly a rational response to a woman that j wants to point out a few stereotype in gaming. Sarkeesian’s response has been to continue the project, with the help of over $160,000 that her Kickstarter raised. With the help of fans and other concerned people, Sarkeesian’s videos will come out in the near future with a bonus set on trolls on the internet. So not only did the trolls fail to take down her Kickstarter, Website, and Videos, they only fueled Sarkeesian to make more videos, this time (unlike the initial proposed project) specifically to look at trolls. Considering the success of Sarkeesian’s previous videos, I honestly can’t wait to see her counter-assault (video) on troll culture.
So, which of these women would win in a fight? For once I’m going to say it doesn’t matter. In culture women are often pitted each other in the whole ‘divide and conquer’ tactic. I can’t imagine a world where either of these women would fight each other, and I’d much rather celebrate both of their careers and troll-handling skills. I might be tempted to fight Felicia Day for her awesome yellow chair, or Anita Sarkeesian for her successful website and video series, but ultimately I’d rather hold them up as role-models to emulate as I begin my entrance into cyberspace.
This morning I read this article by simpleek called “You Aren’t a Gamer if You Haven’t experienced Gamer Rage”. Hopefully those of you reading this clearly understand what gamer rage means. It’s that moment when both you and a boss are one hit away from health, and you get hit first. The moment when you’re exploring the countryside of an open-world game and suddenly run into a monster/creature/villain designed to keep you from moving past a certain point, one that instantly KO’s you or your party AND YOU HAVEN’T SAVED THE GAME IN HOURS. These moments are often accompanied by faces like this:
And in general loud yelling: I personally curse like a sailor. Sometimes these feelings happen when you just can’t seem to beat a certain level/boss/area. In Dragon Age: Origins the Brood Mother wiped out my party time and time again before I finally flipped the power switch out of anger.
Being beaten over and over again by a creature this hideous looking in the bowels of dwarven tunnels was a harrowing experience for me, and I will admit to having at least one unfinished game stuck right before this boss level.
Rage is a natural emotion, and one very common to any experience involving goals and competition. Aggression can be productive and fuel us to finally beat the M*&($#F*#(*$# boss, or it can be destructive and lead us to smash a copy of Demon Souls in half because you just lost all your souls for THE LAST D*&%# TIME!
In multiplayer games this rage can surface, like in all games, but with the added bonus that you can direct it at real live people which in many cases feels a lot more satisfying. However, since multiplayer games foster aggression between team members and opponents, there can be consequences (not necessarily enough in my opinion) to expressing rage in what I would term, unproductive ways.
Today I’ll be looking at two of the penultimate (really rad) female video game characters and pitting them against each other. If somehow you have been stuck under a rock for the past twenty years, let me introduce you:
Samus Aran from the Metroid series (by transfuse)
and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series:
Both characters clearly powerful, Samus has a kick-ass suit of armor while Lara gets not one, but TWO guns, and both clearly beautiful by Western beauty standards. So today, we’ll look at a few different criteria and determine who is the more desirable characters (not like that you perv!).
Who Would Win in a Fight?
Let’s be honest, this is really a no-contest. While Lara is agile and dual wielding, Samus has an entire arsenal at her disposal in the form of her Arm Cannon. With the arm cannon, Samus can choose between multiple beam systems (power beam, wave beam, ice beam, plasma beam, phason beam) and missiles, which can be combined in charge combos. Plus, Samus can enter into a power ball mode (reminiscent of armadillos) with its own set of missiles. With these weapons, Samus is tasked with destroying space pirates a formidable organization attempting to harness the power of metroids. In comparison, Lara’s weapons (generally two pistols) can’t measure up, and while velociraptors, mercenaries, animals and other treasures hunters pose a decent challenge to Lara, a Metroid Prime could eat all of them in a single gulp. To sum up: there is absolutely no way that Lara’s dual pistols could put a dent in Samus’ armor, let alone match Samus’ arm cannon in terms of sheer firepower. In terms of fighting, Samus could blow Lara into so many pieces, no treasure hunter, no matter the skill, would ever be able to find her.
Who has the best personality?
This question is at first difficult to answer mainly due to the fact that Samus and Lara seem very similar at first. Both Lara and Samus are independent women who are generally assertive in accomplishing their goals. Of the two Lara’s history has been more developed and explored, in Tomb Raider: Underworld we learn about Lara’s mommy issues (we already knew she had daddy issues) and now with the upcoming Tomb Raider set to release in 2013, we get to learn just how Lara became the woman that adolescent males came to love (the answer according to executive producer Ron Rosenberg: attempted rape). Here’s the trailer if you want to delve into the controversy of the scene:
However, as one blogger points out:
This is a woman who we first met traipsing around freezing caves in naught but a pair of short-shorts and a low-cut top. Who has killed hundreds, possibly thousands of men, in her quest for Old Lost Shit. Who thinks shooting one gun at a time is simply not killy enough. A woman who takes an UZI with her on a tourist trip to the Great Wall of China and who doesn’t think twice about filling up every endangered species she meets along the way with hot metal. This, Lara-lovers, is a woman who made the dinosaurs extinct for a second time. She is a bona fide, pathological maniac.
So how does Samus Aran compare to that level of crazy? Well, considering she is silent for most of her escapades…which could be due to the fact that she began life in the 2-d world of the Nintendo Entertainment System…this is difficult to assess. Like Lara, Samus has killed hundreds of thousands of creatures in her employment as a bounty hunter. While her fight against the Space Pirates seems to place here in the morally “right” category, who knows how many other times that she has been contracted to kill “innocent’ creatures. Samus could potentially be just as maniacal as Lara in that regard.
Luckily for us (depending on how you define ‘lucky’) Metroid: Other M the most recent game featuring Samus, provides deep insights into the character of Samus Aran: she’s baby crazy. Don’t believe me? Check out the opening cutscene:
How many times can we mention the word ‘baby’ in one game? Seriously?? That the entire game of Metroid: Other M is predicated on a distress call coded as “baby” we can definitively put Samus into the baby crazy category (and potentially start to wonder and hope that this entire adventure is just happening in her mind).
So who is crazier in this scenario, the woman who goes on killing rampages for artifacts or the baby crazy bounty hunter? I’m going to have to hand it to Samus for this one, in my opinion most of Lara’s enemies have it coming.
Who is Most Objectified?
For our last, tie-breaker category I will briefly discuss which of these characters is most objectified. For those of you who don’t know, to objectify means simply to present something as an object. When using the term in relation to women, to objectify means to turn a human being into an object available for male consumption. The creators of Lara and Samus are both guilty of this. For those of you who remember the earliest version of Lara, her bust size was originally supposed to be much smaller but supposedly creator Toby Gard increased her breasts 150% instead of 15% and the entire developing team was perfectly happy with that. Go fig that a male development team would be perfectly happy with boobs increased 150% in size. This “creation myth” (the myth part is that it was possibly not an accident) leaves Lara pretty firmly in object territory. None of her original development team thought ‘Oh, maybe we should take care to make Lara a more realistic, fully developed (in terms of body AND mind) and instead left her with boobs so big that it would be physically impossible for her to exist in the real world due to a thing called gravity. However, in past games Lara’s breasts have seen a reduction in size, and there have been attempts made to flesh out her back story and develop her more as a character (having her repeatedly assaulted by men helps this somehow).
Samus on the other hand was anything but sexy in her first appearance. In 1986 she first appeared in pixels (totally not sexy) AND she was completely covered by a suit of armor. In fact, no one knew that Samus was a woman until the very end of Metroid, the reveal startled many a player. Since then, however, we have gotten to see Samus in a much sexier way.
In most cut scenes Samus is wearing skin-tight clothing and revealed to be a sexy blonde. Can we get anymore stereotypical here? In general, you get to see this a lot more often in Metroid: Other M than in other Metroid games, but once you’ve seen Samus like this, it’s hard to look at her the same way again, even if she is in her power suit.
So which one is most objectified? Clearly they both are, and both consistently make the top 10 in lists about hot game characters, but in this contest I’m going to have to go with Samus. While Lara may be all boobs, Samus has that + the blonde aspect. Blondes are people too (I am blonde) but the stereotypes are a stigma that gives Samus clear victory.
Who would YOU rather be?
This leaves Samus in the lead of my dubious comparison, although perhaps winning the “Most Objectified’ category should count as a negative point. Ultimately, I would rather be Samus. Her suit is amazing, she’s over 6 feet tall (one of my unobtainable life goals) and she owns her own spaceship. I can deal with baby crazy and objectified if I get to have my own spaceship. Although, I might reconsider if the new Lara Croft game featured Lara like this:
(picture of Meagan Marie. Photo by Victor Gamez)