On My Time

Chrono Trigger

“If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh” – Magus

What can I say about this game that everyone in the world hasn’t already…hmmm. Well, at points the path forward is a bit obtuse & requires too many leaps in logic to understand what should happen next. And the big problem with that is, if you’re on the wrong route, you won’t know it until you reach the end of the area where nothing happens. Then you backtrack out of the area, fighting the same enemies again (which can get a bit tedious)…anything else…

Ah screw it, THIS IS A GREAT GAME!! And people gush about it all the time for good reason. The story is compelling, the characters are fleshed out with interesting personalities and motivations. The gameplay is satisfying since it deviates from the standard JRPG combat system using the Active Time Battle system. The variety of magic & special moves alone are impressive but the real kicker is being able to combine special moves with your other party members to make an even more massively impressive attack! The art style was, and still is, gorgeous. The music in each area having a unique flair that makes it stand out even today (especially impressive given the SNES could only hold about 64mb of ram for ALL music including SFX). The unique animations provided to each character to flesh out their personalities (even the “mirror to the player character” Chrono)…need I go on?

And I know some of you are snidely reading this and saying, “But the story is soooo generic! Just another boy needs to save the world story.” But what you’re missing in-between that greater plot thread is EVERY OTHER STORY ELEMENT! What makes it compelling is not the overarching goal, but the understanding why Magus is such a dick. Understanding why Frog feels like he must ostracize himself forever. Understanding how Marle feels being trapped in a royal lineage she wants no part in. Understanding that Ayla likes to beat the shit outta everything.

You owe it to yourself to try this game out. Find a legally available copy of this game & play it. Especially now, since “Octopath Traveler” just released. You’ll realize that you actually don’t even need to play that one if you just check out Chrono Trigger. It’ll scratch that itch and more!

On My Time

HyperZone

MOOOOOODDDDDEEEEE 7!!!!!

This isn’t a long game, nor is it even a memorable game. What it is is a great example of an arcade style game transitioning to a home console properly.

Released in 1991, this game is an on rails shooter to the core. You are thrust into a nondescript space ship and need only the basic understanding that everything else on the screen is a bad guy.

Internal edit: Nvm there IS a story (thanks wikipedia)

“The game is set in the year 2089, where Earth has become unable to support life due to humankind’s ignorance. The Earth Council has turned their attention to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – a place virtually untouched by civilization. But a hostile race of cybernetic beings has taken up residence there, and if humankind is to survive, the infestation must be eradicated…”

Just soak that all in folks

The beauty with this game comes in how quickly everything moves (which is critical for an arcade style game). When you move forward, you feel like your ship is really accelerating (moving at 448 speed!! such speed). When enemies come at you, they fly directly at your face & instinctively make you flinch (or maybe that was just me?). When you die, your next ship quickly & nonchalantly moves onscreen and you continue your fight near instantly. You run out of lives? It quickly boots you back to the title to try again. And what ties it all together is the fact that the game itself is only 8 stages total.

Granted the gameplay isn’t that deep. You get access to a laser weapon and, starting in level 2, a charge shot that tears through enemies. That’s it. No missiles, no special weapons to speak of. This could piss off hardcore shoot’em up fans considering that really diminishes the strategy available.

Come to think of it, this would be the perfect game to have as an app on your phone…can someone port this to the Google Play store for me? Or at least build a time machine, and port this to my TI-83 plus?

On My Time

E.V.O.: Search for Eden

“WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!?!?”

This game is weird in a great way. The basic premise is that you are Gaia’s chosen specimen fated to usher in the dawn of future civilizations…a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders (or dorsal fin) of any small creature. Thankfully, you can evolve in the blink of in eye into whatever nightmarish hell-monster you want! Feel like making a fish that has horns bigger than its face? Sure! Feel like making a comically small flying t-rex? Sure! Feel like making a bunny rabbit with the face/jaws of a cat that eventually evolves into early man?!? SURE, go for it!!

But seriously, when you break this game down to its core, it is a game about grinding. You need to grind to get EVO points so you can evolve and have better stats for the later enemies you will encounter. Granted, this grinding is wrapped up in a fun package with bit-sized levels (they may only take you 2-3 minutes to get through each). But, when you realize that you need to get those t-rex mandibles to stand a chance, you’re gonna need to stretch that 2-3 minute playtime into about 15-20 minutes depending on how efficiently you can grind out those 5000 EVO points when some enemies only net you 100 EVO per kill. Have fun!

The game makes up for this shortcoming by allowing you to literally make dozens of combinations of Cronenberg-esque disasterpieces. Or you can be like me and focus on only upgrading your Jaw to the max & leaving the rest of your stats to be upgraded whenever. I say that because the most important aspect of this game is learning how to lock your enemies in place. Once you get certain enemies in a specific position on the level, you can feasibly lock them into never moving or attacking because they continually reel back from your attacks…unless they can fly (stupid flying coelacanth…)

Let me put it this way, if you enjoyed the first half of Spore, then you’ll enjoy this game.

On My Time

ActRaiser

“Sir, I know it’s unexpected, but our people in X-STREAM have something to tell you”

Having been released in 1990, this game is incredibly ambitious for what it is. A combination civ-building simulation & side scrolling beat’em up. When initially hearing about this mashup, I thought it was going to shortchange both of the combined gaming styles to create a subpar experience overall. I was only partially right.

The beat’em up sections are straight forward enough and incorporate a ton of similar elements (if you blur your eyes while playing these sections, you’d swear you were playing Golden Axe). The sections last about 5-10 minutes at most & have the fun mechanic of platforming while not being able to change your mid-air trajectory. Which is super fun when you get to boss sections that have ONLY short-hop platforms to stand on while bombarding you with a flying boss.

The simulation sections are interesting enough in terms of using your miracle powers to clear the areas of obstacles for your disciples or get rid of all enemies on the screen…or just use your power to destroy everything your disciples have built in true civ-building sim fashion (if only you could summon Godzilla…). Problem is, this formula get’s quite repetitive over the 6 different areas:

      • Always direct your disciples to build towards the nearest monster nest
      • Shoot any monsters in their way
      • Move your disciples to the next nest
      • Destroy rocks
      • Repeat

Granted, there are some minor “sidequests” that are sprinkled into each area that will net you a new spell or magic mcguffin that saves someone from something ailing them…unless you’re that guy in the desert (hashtag you will be missed random disciple).  These spells make the beat’em up sections much more enjoyable as you use your spell once, realize you can’t use these unless you have magic scrolls, & save them for use specifically on bosses.

I know I’m coming off as harsh on this game, but it really was enjoyable enough that I wanted to see it through to the end, which is saying a lot for games released in 1990. Incredibly ambitious for the times, and if you happen to find a rentable copy of the game, do it.

On My Time

Nier Automata

[X-Stream][A hail of bullets rain down relentlessly. Despite this, I want to help you][Canada]

You need to play Nier Automata. I can’t say it any more plainly than that. You need to play, enjoy &, moreover, experience this game. I’ve played hundreds of games in my lifetime and none that made me experience the feeling of what it means for me to play video games.

Some may play games to show everyone how good you are at certain skill-based activities (eg: tasks that require intensive hand-eye coordination[first person shooters], or tasks that require you to remember/memorize very specific strings of inputs to always get your desired outcome[fighting games]). Some may that play games to get that feeling of accomplishment you may/or may not lack in your day-to-day life. Some may play games just for the hell of it, cause why not they’re fun right?

For me, it was a combination of all of the above. Was.

Playing Nier Automata made me realize something, that I play video games for the experience. I don’t play it to escape some problems that I may have, I don’t play it to show off to my friends & I certainly don’t play it to brag online about how many stupid achievements I have.

I play for the experience gaming provides over all other mediums of entertainment. Well, for the sake of not sounding too pretentious right now, lemme dial it back.

Gaming encompasses all mediums of entertainment in my opinion: A beautiful story [books] that is bolstered by hand-crafted visuals [art] and choreographed together [movies] all while being interactive.

Problem is though…none of this would have resonated with me if I’d just played the game through once. None of this realization happened until I made it to the true end of this game, which comes after about 4 different “endings”. Up until this point, they did a fantastic job of relaying the philosophical groundwork for “What Might Happen if Robots Rule a Post-Human World”. But the real moment where this game stands out is in that ending. I will not spoil it for you but wow…Yoko Taro…bravo. Let’s just say, I hope one of you out there is happy about the “sacrifice” I made on your behalf.

Come to think of it, I feel like I’m not doing this game justice by spouting philosophical nonsense about why I love gaming so much…so you may just need to experience this one on your own. If you’re looking for a solid action RPG with incredibly responsive controls, fluid motions & tons of customization options, then this game is worth your time, I promise you that.