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FFWF

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  1. Absolutely hilarious stuff. The reports from the preview teaser a few days ago all sounded to me like they'd backpedalled hard on the design, that we were really just going to get standard Sonic with a furry texture - but no. Somehow, I don't know how, they actually managed to make something exactly as bad as everyone had feared since the day we heard "live action" - if not worse! The little beady eyes, the Ken Penders musculature, the mismatched proportions and out-of-place real sneakers - there's no single element of the design that isn't a grotesque failure. I'm genuinely impressed that they managed to make it as bad as they have. This pretty much completes the list of strikes against the film. Wrong premise, wrong setting, wrong design - just about everything that could go wrong with the movie has now been established to have gone wrong. It's a classic case of a popular franchise with wide appeal being rebooted to drop the existing fanbase like a rock in order to appeal to a fictitious construction of a western taste for the "realistic," which apparently means ugly. In that sense, I'm amazed that SEGA managed to repeat the Boom fiasco so soon - just how bad is their management? They clearly understand nothing about either their fanbase or their product. Fortunately, the precedent for those indicates that we can soon expect this laughing stock to be kicked into the trash, hopefully with Mania 2 (or just about anything else, really) coming out hot on its heels to wash the bad taste out.
  2. FFWF

    Elements/Tropes You Hate in Video Games

    I don't mind impossible boss fights so long as the developers aren't putting their fingers on the scales. They're a lot easier to pull off in RPGs, where it's not hard to make an enemy vastly more powerful than your playable characters but who nonetheless can be fairly beaten later in the narrative; the example I always remember is Saturos and Menardi in Golden Sun. In other systems it would be much harder to accomplish... Now what is disappointing is when the end of a game clearly received less budget and attention than the rest. It's a tragedy when your final impression of a game is of how rushed the ending was.
  3. Sonic's design has always shifted and evolved between games; his sprite in Sonic 3 is considerably closer to what we now call "Modern Sonic" than his sprite in the previous classic games. The division between "Classic" and "Modern" designs is an anachronistic and retrospective classification which bears no resemblance to the actual continuity of Sonic's designs over the years. There is no Classic and Modern Sonic; and there certainly won't be in the movie.
  4. FFWF

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    Regarding the decisions made for the story of the TSR tie-in comic... Well, the game itself has a story mode; and I assume that will also make an attempt to explain why all the characters are around and what the point of it all is. So my suspicion is that the writer of the adaptation wasn't given access to the game story and indeed was specifically told not to touch on those issues, because they'd be covered in the game instead. All that really leaves is talking about the game mechanics and basic character interaction.
  5. FFWF

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    Except that's not what happened, is it? In Generations, Classic Sonic was described consistently throughout as being from the past, and the game ends with Modern Sonic explicitly identifying Classic Sonic's future with his own past - "Enjoy your future, it's gonna be great!" If Classic Sonic's timeline was going to branch off, Modern Sonic wouldn't know anything about his future. Furthermore, if we accept the premise that any time-travel or knowledge of the future affects the past and creates a split timeline, then the very moment Modern and Classic met, Classic would already be from "another dimension" - and yet he is never described as such. In Forces, Classic Sonic is described consistently throughout as being from a different dimension, without hesitation or question. There's no reason to suppose that Modern Sonic and Tails would even know that Classic Sonic's timeline had become a separate one; and in fact even if Classic Sonic had branched off into a different timeline, the fact is that he would still be referred to as a past Sonic because he's visibly not advanced enough years to catch up with Modern Sonic in age, indicating that he'd still be from an earlier point in time in his corresponding timeline. I don't know anything about Dragonball, but in a branching timeline situation, likewise anyone from a potential future would still be described as being from the future, if an alternate one; they wouldn't use the "dimension" terminology as if their worlds had no relation. After all, by that logic, no time-traveller from the future would ever actually be from the determined future if their very presence was affecting the past. See, in this case, Silver, who is always referred to as being from the future rather than from another dimension - which he should be, if we're taking the premise that all time-travel affects the past. The treatment of Silver in the series proves that Classic Sonic is not from another timeline that splits off after Generations. The Classic-Modern split has nothing to do with branching timelines; nor can anyone pretend that the series ever indicates as such. Forces flat-out retcons Generations, indisputably. And this change, at least, is one that the games themselves are entirely open and honest about - unlike two worlds, which they have never acknowledged, and probably never will.
  6. FFWF

    General British Politics Thread.

    I hope you won't mind if I ask you a question, actually. I heard somewhere recently that the whole Brexit mess as regards the Irish border has actually resulted in young people in Northern Ireland growing less antagonistic, or perhaps just more apathetic or resigned, to the idea of Irish unification. Is that something you get a sense of on the ground, or is it just hot air?
  7. The Wisps are, thematically, completely broken at this point. They're back each time solely because they were popular exactly once, but it's a complete shoehorn affair that has literally no story relevance; they're a bit like the Chao, in that respect. Forces exposes the truth that Wisps aren't back for gameplay reasons either, because Sonic Team had to invent completely new gameplay for them because they couldn't justify the original. Team Sonic Racing was either mandated to use them to continue the push, or possibly is just unoriginal; neither would be surprising. I strongly suspect that Sonic Team is crossing their fingers that Wisps will be merchandisable one day, and haven't gotten the message yet that it's not going to happen.
  8. FFWF

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    I do actually agree with the premise that "two worlds" is not actually meant to be taken completely literally. The games have never acknowledged it, and for that matter the Japanese developers have never acknowledged it; literally the only people who ever acknowledge it are western representatives of the franchise. We only know about it at all because of a leaked series bible, correct? And Webber, at least, has as I recall given the impression of not really understanding it; while Ian Flynn clearly thinks it's idiotic, no matter how much he has to play nice with his employers, and is doing his level best to ignore it. Somebody should press Iizuka on the details sometime; I strongly suspect that he'll give as non-committal an answer as possible. What I think is actually the case is that Sonic Team wants to segregate two different interpretations of the franchise: Human-dominated, and anthro-dominated. It's reasonable to suggest that these correspond to different audiences; or at the very least to different themes and aesthetics. Sonic Team have decided that they don't want to have both depicted simultaneously, and that instead each game should follow and dedicate itself to one interpretation only, without worrying about the other. It's a bit like how Mario and Bowser are sometimes bitter enemies, and sometimes they play sports or race together; they're different interpretations of the franchise and they aren't meant to interact (which is a large part of the reason why Daisy and Waluigi don't appear in mainline games). Likewise, Sonic Team has decided to put the human and anthro interpretations of the franchise each in their own little bubble. But series bibles aren't the sort of places where you can just say "the canon doesn't really matter," so they handwaved in a nebulous and unseen portal ostensibly linking the two, in order to preserve the fiction that there's just one Modern Sonic whose adventures share continuity. (This is completely arbitrary now that Classic Sonic is a separate character, but that decision didn't make sense either so we can abandon the fiction that Sonic Team's ideas make sense.) You can't "world-build" with two worlds because it is literally an excuse to avoid world-building. I strongly suspect that if Ian Flynn pitched a comic storyline which explicitly acknowledged two worlds and the portal, it would be rejected.
  9. FFWF

    What game are you currently playing?

    Octopath Traveler (Switch) - A wildly ambitious tech demo which overstays its welcome. The hand of the designer is conspicuously present in Octopath Traveler. With its emphasis on individual choice and an almost open-world map, there is a clear system to the construction of the game. Each character has four chapters, spread across three concentring rings of towns; an inner circle for Chapter 1, a middle circle for Chapters 2 and 3, and an outer circle for Chapter 4. The map connections between these locations and the positioning of short optional dungeons are strictly regular; there are a few deviations, but they only serve to highlight the overall rule. So the map construction is almost ritual, artificial. The characters and their stories are equally ritualistic in construction, but considerably varying in quality. Each chapter consists of a short series of interactions followed invariably by a boss fight, no matter how little sense it makes for there to be a boss fight; and several chapters rely on the contrivance of a monster suddenly leaping out of nowhere, or in one case, Team Rocket leaping out of nowhere. Story objectives are marked on the minimap, making the whole exercise feel rote and handhold-y, especially as characters' individual talents often feel only thinly-utilised or, in some cases, flat-out abandoned. Tone and importance of incident vary wildly; one character's Chapter 2 might confront you with "the villagers are being kidnapped and their blood is being drained and turned into occult blood crystals," while another is "oh no a child got lost in the woods" - but the variation is joyous in its unpredictability; nonetheless, there are distinct dud chapters where the moral and overall theme seem confused (Alfyn's Chapter 3 ignores the existence of town guards and systems of law and order generally, and Primrose's Chapter 4, while it's great theatre, I simply can't comprehend the point of). Final chapters tend to have a link to the hidden overarching story, and these too vary in how organically they're worked in; Primrose's story is essentially one big nod to the overarching narrative, while Olberic and Tressa's links are dropped in more awkwardly, particularly in the latter case where the sudden intrusion of the grander picture has essentially nothing to do with the rest of her story at all. Because of the emphasis on individual choice, character stories individually have zero interaction and zero crossover, which feels like a waste; postgame side-stories and the final dungeon reveal a great number of hidden connections, and in a way these feel like what the game should have been. The story might have been better off structured like Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen, or the more recent Alliance Alive, where you'd go through every character's introductory storyline and then they would all meet up and join together - at which point the storylines could merge more organically. Each character has a path action, a specific means of interacting with the many and varied NPCs; and these vary widely in usefulness, with Inquire/Scrutinise and Steal more or less essential, Guide/Allure dropping off enormously after the early game, Purchase only really being viable in the endgame, Challenge being only of use in occasional artificial moments, and Provoke being inferior to Challenge in just about every respect. One respects enormously the attempt to make what is essentially a town-based RPG rather than a dungeon-based one; but the path actions really need rebalancing. Perhaps the summons produced by Guide/Allure and beast capturing should be infinite-use, and/or of higher strength generally; perhaps Challenging/Provoking could get you the rewards from Purchase/Steal as victory profits, or perhaps Scrutinise/Inquire could also log an NPC's aptitude in an overall index of recruitable characters. There are ways of intertwining these actions, ways which aren't taken. "Noble" path actions are level-gated or restricted in other ways; "rogue" path actions are probability-based (which in effect is also just level-gating, but level-gating which can be savescummed), and failing the roll results in a loss of "reputation"; but a small donation is enough to restore your reputation. This seems like a missed opportunity for a more sophisticated system of interactions. Challenge unpopular characters to gain reputation; give items and money rather than taking them; reputation-gate story developments. Turn the reputation system into something which can be gamed in multiple ways to ingratiate yourself with different factions for different ends in particular character storylines. The battle system is deceptively simple, with just the right level of complexity and flexibility. Boost to gain more powerful actions or multiple attacks, attack enemy weakpoints to drop their defences, add extra job abilities with the crucial restriction of there being only one spare copy of each job, so you can't just overload the party with the "best" (as you might in, say, the Bravely Default games). This system carries the entire game and creates a myriad party-building options as well as enemy-construction options, and experimenting is a great deal of fun; the downside is tedious amounts of equipment micro-managing, but it's hard to see how they could have avoided that. The major flaw in the battle element is a tragically wonky level curve combined with the stingy decision to only give experience to active party members; by their respective Chapter 3s, my main party members were overlevelled for everything in the rest of their storylines and had already defeated the high-level optional bosses, while my non-main party members languished in the low levels. The intention is presumably that you would in fact be swapping out party members regularly; but if that's the case, why offer the illusion of choice at all? This could all have been avoided by rewarding full experience to all party members, and holding back on the experience gains for higher-level characters so they wouldn't zoom wildly ahead of the story. But the fact that you have eight sets of chapters to go through, each stage of which assumes you're at parity with every corresponding stage, inevitably means you'll either be underlevelled or overlevelled; which is another reason why it would have been better for storylines to merge. The graphics, as I believe I've noted before, are beautiful and a fascinating attempt to merge the game's SNES-era inspirations with modern 3D and HD design; the result is uncompromisingly stylised and quite unique. The large-scale boss illustrations, which ignore the usual sense of scale between human characters, create appropriately imposing and striking designs. I don't have much of an ear for music, but it made enjoyable listening, appropriate to the mood of each scene; and a good thing too, as they sure got a lot of milage out of some of those tracks... Last but not least, a few words on the hidden postgame dungeon. Ordinarily I am not fond of postgame bonus dungeons which are in fact the true ending of the story, though in the case of this game I think it was the right decision. Nor am I fond of high-level, intricate bosses which require a ton of level-grinding and a pretty narrow set of strategies in order to defeat, though even this I could live with. But what I can't forgive is busy-work. So, an amazing game, but let down in parts probably by the sheer weight of work involved in creating what is a frankly enormous title; and this is where that "overstays its welcome" part comes in, because if I'm honest I was getting fatigued with this game by the eighty-hour mark, and by the time I quit I was at literally double that. I would be happy with a sequel that's only half as long and much more tightly and organically-constructed; the Bravely Second to this game's Bravely Default, if you like, and on that note I'm certainly looking forward to whatever this team comes up with next, whether it's Bravely Sword or Nonaquest Journeyer. Coming up next: Well, it's been a long journey, but at last I have only one game in my backlog, and it should be relatively quick to beat before yet more long RPGs start coming out in the New Year. ...So naturally I'm not doing that, I'm doing something I've been meaning to do for years: Replay Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS). I want to refresh my memory on what went wrong. Well, according to my completed save file from my original playthrough, it's only a quarter of the length of Octopath Traveler, so it can't take that long!
  10. Actually, since we're on the subject: Is there really nothing at all from the Ace Attorney franchise in Ultimate? Considering that it's a fairly recognisable, largely Nintendo-exclusive franchise from a third party which has otherwise been pretty generous with lending their material to Smash, I have to say its absence seems curious to me.
  11. I do think that flowmotion would be an amazing fit for a Sonic game - not that that really has anything to do with the RPG aspect, of course.
  12. Regarding the costume edit in question, the obvious point of comparison here is the way the ESRB submission for Smash 4 included a Tharja trophy, and that trophy was removed for the final game; Mythra's costume change is a similar sort of quick fix. My understanding is that the ESRB looks at, or rather asks to be given, a representative sample of material from a game for them to look over when assessing an age rating. It might be that they were given a sample including the Mythra spirit and picked up on her specifically; or perhaps Nintendo had had difficulties with them over Mythra before, when rating Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and so for this game they edited her design pre-emptively just to be on the safe side.
  13. FFWF

    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog

    It's the perfect plan - the only way to stop the IDW Sonic comic madness is to buy a different IDW Sonic comic! There's no way Sega could misunderstand this simple message!
  14. Stepping aside from the question of execution for the moment, and thinking purely in terms of theory: I doubt that jaded longtime fans are Sega's primary audience for any Sonic product, save perhaps Mania - and did anyone complain about the friends being in that? (Of course, there's a certain school of jaded longtime fan which will buy anything with Sonic's name on it anyway, just in case.) Sega's pitching for open-minded and less critical children, who don't come saddled with all the baggage of associations from Sonic's tarnished history. Sonic's friends aren't a particular sales risk on their own, I suspect.
  15. Interesting, but I don't really believe in the implications of that for a second.
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