Monday, March 3, 2014

Diary Entry #13: CSI:CSIICSA and Wrapping up Ultima V

               After completing Ultima V, I started investigating other bloggers opinions of the game. Most of them offer some pretty in depth coverage, which I didn't. I play so many games, giving a complete run down of everything I touch would mean quitting my job, my friends, my girlfriend, and valuable gaming time. Until I'm one of those crazy bloggers who makes twenty dollars a post, it's highlights, highlights, and more disparate highlights.

               Posts on Ultima V at Blogging Ultima, a chronicle of one man's journey through every Ultima, echoed my sentiments about the game's early stages. The grinding is atrocious, and while enemies drop a lot more loot, it's hardly any compensation for the grueling early stages. Aside from the Marsh Cave in Final Fantasy 1, I've never been poisoned so frequently in the first few hours of a game. Snakes, swamps, I want to destroy them all. Food's too expensive early on, much like Ultima II, although healing is very affordable.

Lord British is scary as hell!

               Occasionally, Lord British appears while I'm resting out in the wilderness. He automatically heals characters and levels them up. Ultima's revered king is still alive, but that won't stop his ghost from just popping up to annoy you anyway. 

Jash is very concerned about this guy's drinking problem.

               Another blogger, the CRPG Addict, is much more enthusiastic about the game, mostly because of its phenomenal conversation system. Everybody has a ton of stuff to say, all enfolding through the use of simple keywords. It's very intuitive and rarely dull, sometimes giving you really interesting side tasks. My favorite was a discussion that led to me meeting with a secret resistance group late in the night. They didn't have too many good clues themselves, but it was awesome anyway.

               The dungeons felt a lot easier than they did in previous games, but they're a lot more maze-like, often requiring you to find a hidden passage by pushing on a random block somewhere. Very Zelda-esque if you ask me.

               The ending is pretty intense. Lord British asks if you have his sandlewood box, and I replied "y". He opened a moongate and a smooth story sequence proceeded. I remember Ultima VI starts with a cool story scene as well, so I'm wondering if I should jump right into that. Another enticing prospect is playing Ultima IV for the NES. I actually enjoyed the NES version of Ultima III a lot, mixing the visuals of Japanese RPGs with Western RPG aesthetics. Totally nutty stuff!

Why 1 month, 21 days?

               Yesterday, I installed CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Interactive Crime-Solving Adventure, hereby referred to as CSI:CSIICSA, and dove right in. I played through four of the game's scenarios, but I only cared enough to document the initial one.

               Generally, the missions start with a random crime, most frequently a murder. Here, a woman has been tied to a bedpost and murdered. The game is pretty basic: I click on stuff to examine stuff, use cotton swabs and other junk to collect evidence, and then compare data to draw conclusions.

               Frequently, the game plays some pretty graphic stuff. On the right, an unknown killer strangles the aforementioned woman to death. On the left, her neck snaps. I'm pretty sure shows like CSI and House do this zoom inside the body shot all the time, so the fact that CSI:CSIICSA adopts this effectively is pretty cool. It breaks up the monotony of cotton swabbing people and blood.

               Eventually, you get to play around on people's computers. Mostly this involves perusing e-mails or message boards, but I think the meta-computing aspect is pretty trippy. It reminds me of the awesome Missing: Since February and the less awesome eXperience112.

               After finding enough evidence, you get to interrogate people. They don't have a whole lot of interesting stuff to say aside from eventually confessing to the crime. Eventually, the two guys on the left start gabbing about what you should do next or tell you the case is closed. If it's the former, you go cotton swab some more stuff. I liked it, but the storylines are pretty tepid fair. The guy pictured above is upset that a girl gave him Hepatitis C, so he killed her and eventually confessed. The end. I'm still going to wrap it up today or tomorrow, but it's definitely not a top 500 game of all time.

Courtesy of Mobygames. At one point in time,
running around a room and throwing furniture at
a person qualified as a forty dollar PS1 purchase.

               My girlfriend and I picked up three games yesterday after we got sushi. The first was Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction. It was sealed for a couple bucks, which really should have pointed out one thing: nobody even wanted to open this abomination. Hackneyed game-bashing aside, I really enjoyed my forty-five minutes with the game.

               As Blossom, Bubbles, or Buttercup, you are locked in a 3D room with a villain. You need to A) kick the crap out of them, B) throw stuff at them, or C) collect enough chemical X to shoot laser beams at them. You can get through the first five or six bosses without any issue, but the final boss, Mojo Jojo, is a real prick. He never stops jumping about, running around, and grabbing junk to throw at you. I eventually mastered the art of spamming laser beams, but learning this otherwise useless skill was a daunting task. I guess there's a FINAL final boss if you play through the game as all three Powerpuff Girls, but I'm not in any hurry.

               Another cheap sealed game on display was Superstar Dance Club #1 Hits. This game definitely looks better than the Powerpuff Girls, but it's even more basic. A generic hyper-club DDR song plays and you hit buttons to the beat. I want to say something derogatory, but it's impossible. This game's a lot of fun for a quick burst of stupidity.

               The Game Boy Color version of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine was actually the most expensive item of the litter. I'd say it's for quality reasons: this game rules! My first two minutes, a venomous scorpion bit me, I swung over several pits, and I broke through the floor and fell down a waterfall. Honestly, it looks better than the N64/Windows version, though I need to play those too before I can pass any judgement.

               Where I'm going from here is sort of a mystery. More CSI:CSIICSA (which wants to autocorrect itself to ASTROPHYSICS in all caps), Ultima IV for NES, or Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine GBC. I'll make that decision after I pig out on homemade pizza.

               PS: I've also been playing .hack//Infection. It's totally awesome. I kind of want to make a post that discusses how it's greater than some critically revered RPG, but I'm unsure which one to pick. Kingdom Hearts is too obvious and I really, really hate it, so comparing them will just lead to a lot of negative crap. I've been considering Final Fantasy VII, a game I feel is overrated that I still enjoy.

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