A very good friend once described me as “the ultimate fan.” He meant it affectionately (I think). When I become a genuine fan of something, I want to learn everything I can about it, I’m willing to drop a whole lot of dough to support whatever the thing is, and I’m generally able to maintain high levels of enthusiasm for the thing over time. So yes, I like to think my friend was right.
But I don’t become a fan of just anything. For instance, from kindergarten through college, I never went to a single school sporting event of any kind, and the entire concept of “school spirit” strikes me as misguided. With sports in general, the closest I ever came to being a fan of anything was with the New York Yankees because Dad is an almost-lifelong fan. I was a fairweather fan at best; once Rivera and Jeter retired, I kinda retired with them.
When it comes to me personally, I become a fan of individual people and art, not huge groups or institutions. Nonetheless, I can appreciate that there are many catalysts for how and why people become fans of things. So now I would like to expound on the subject of fandom here, delineating the healthy ways that people become fans of things–and also the self-destructive habits that can develop when fans become obsessive. Read more
Atlus’s Persona 5 is pure wish fulfillment for everyone who has ever felt circumscribed by society’s hierarchies and expectations. In this game, Japanese teenagers gain the mystical power to change people’s hearts and force them to confess to their crimes and misdeeds. No one is too important or too powerful for these “Phantom Thieves” to hit. And strikingly, the narrative is driven more by the heroes’ proactive attacks on villains than it is driven by heroes reacting to villains’ attacks. In other words, this is a game where the heroes uncharacteristically go on the offense, and it relays a powerful message–you are the master of your own fate, if you are willing to fight for it.
Mechanically speaking, Persona 5 perfects the formula that Persona 3 began. By removing some of the more forgiving elements of Persona 4 and tweaking many other aspects, this game feels challenging and fair in generally equal portions. The addition of several elements from Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse works out surprisingly well in the game’s favor too. And there have never been as many different ways to spend your days as in the expanded life simulation options present here. Basically, the game just works really well on every front that it tackles, and it does so with an unprecedented amount of style.
Some quirks and redundancy in the narrative leave me unable to prefer this game over 4, but if you’ve never played a Persona before and only have the time to take on one of these gargantuan adventures, you should probably make it this one. Read more
In spite of this being my own personal website, I usually am very careful not to talk too much about myself, because I don’t think people actually come here to learn about me. People stumble upon my website through Google searches for video games or sometimes for weird philosophy, so those are the two chief subjects I think I should be delivering.
But I realize that the only way I can expect to grow a more dedicated audience of readers is if I pull back the curtain and start letting you know a little more about me… which is why I’m writing another article about video games.
Video games make me who I am. And yes, I know how extraordinarily nerdy that is, but I don’t care. Video games are to me what books are to people who love reading. (Because in spite of having graduated summa cum laude with an English degree, and in spite of fiction writing being my major passion, the only fiction books I read are Star Wars.) I love video games, and I don’t regret having spent a ridiculous percentage of my childhood playing them at the expense of other opportunities.
So what follows below is–if I’m being honest–just another “favorite video games” list, one of the thousands available online. But I’m going to use it as a rare opportunity to put my actual personality out there, for those who might be curious. So let’s get started! Read more
Pretty early into my playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I decided it was the best video game that has ever been created so far. That’s an awfully lofty statement to make, I know. But since game journalism is practically exploding with 10/10 reviews already, it would be redundant of me to write another one. So instead, I would like to approach writing about this game from a different angle, much as I did with Metal Gear Solid V. I want to speak generally about the aspects of this game that, in my mind, succeed spectacularly–and I also want to talk about the aspects that could have been handled better, because even the best game ain’t perfect.
(No plot spoilers ahead, but some gameplay spoilers) Read more
The most dangerous enemies in all of Final Fantasy XV are trees. Not evil trees–just regular trees. The camera gets stuck on them mercilessly during combat, obstructing your view and making it almost literally impossible to fight near foliage. This is just one of many problems that makes this game the clunkiest and least polished main-series Final Fantasy title ever. I would be sensationalizing if I were to call the game bad, but it sure ain’t great, not in any context. Whether compared to past entries in the series or to other modern open-world games, Final Fantasy XV comes up short. Read more
For better or worse, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse looks and plays like expensive DLC for Shin Megami Tensei IV. It takes all the same locations from the first title and remixes it with a mostly new story, along with some new monsters and abilities. In theory, people who loved the original and want to play something else exactly like it have every reason to be thrilled. Heck, I myself have quietly regarded Shin Megami Tensei IV as my favorite game for Nintendo 3DS. But after playing Apocalypse–and in spite of it being a quality title in its own right–I can’t help but wonder if Atlus would have been better served to just dedicate its resources to making Shin Megami Tensei V. Read more
Guys, full disclosure–if I could live inside a Super Nintendo RPG, I would. My bias for Japanese RPGs in general is just ridiculous, but any RPG that draws influence from the 16-bit era piques my interest. With that in mind, I Am Setsuna is the most disappointingly flawed game I have played since Lunar: Dragon Song. Every aspect of its design suffers from problems that someone should have spotted during development. The game sells for a reduced retail price, but that can only excuse the game’s small scale. It does not excuse a bland and forgettable experience. Read more