Geek Babble – Still Kicking, Still Gaming Part 1

I haven’t died or anything, but it has been a while since I’ve penned a column on Damage Control. Ever since I made the switch from working part-time to full-time, I’ve had to combat burnout and limited free-time. Working a steady 6PM to 3AM can be exhausting. But enough about my working life, I’m here to talk about my geek life.


Escaping Gaming Purgatory

My biggest gaming accomplishment this summer has been removing another game from my backlog– namely, Shin Megami Tensei IV. Ever since I had to restart in 2014, I’ve been playing it off and on. It took me three years to get back to where I left off when my game and 3DS were stolen. Before my forced restart I was extremely close to the end of the game. I had been playing for 100 hours and it would have only taken another 10 to 12 hours to see the credits roll. When I put down the final boss in September a weight had been lifted off my chest and I was free from the burden of finishing SMTIV.


With the specter of that game gone, I could finally move onto something else in my backlog. I returned to 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors but, I found myself focused on Persona 5. I’m still not done with the game yet, but if I play a few hours a week I should be on pace to complete the game before December. I’m currently in the seventh palace/dungeon and as long as I don’t stumble into a bad ending, I’ll be able to do the eighth and final palace.


My time in P5 isn’t nearly as satisfying as in Persona 4 in terms of relationships with Confidants (aka Social Links). I want do second shorter playthrough in the near future to max out my relationships. Unless you’re incredibly focused (or use a walkthrough), it is impossible to max out every Confidant in one playthrough, especially since the bar for spending time with them can be high. Sometimes a stat rank of five is just needed to make progress with a Confidant. I’m going to use my remaining time in this playthrough and focus on the social stats I need, so I can breeze through relationships during my replay.


Fire Emblem Rage

I tried to go two-for-two and finish Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest right after SMTIV. However, my attempt to finish the final map was meet with frustration multiple times. This ultimately spurred me to move on to 999 for my handheld adventures. Right now, I’m stuck in a place of genuinely wanting to finish the game and rage quitting. When I finally took the game out of my 3DS, it was after a rough night that left me heated. For a moment, I briefly considered snapping my game cart in half.


The final map is a grueling two stage fight complete with two bosses, powerful enemies, and no opportunity to save between bosses. On the final boss, enemies spawn infinitely and if you move too quickly, you risk being surrounded and destroyed. Adding to the frustration is having to waste a turn using a royal family member to activate a Dragon Vein in order to erect a barrier to blunt map-wide energy wave attacks. Unlike other Fire Emblem games, there is no opportunity to grind (without paying for DLC) in Conquest, so unless you’re really good at the game (I am not), or are willing to sacrifice multiple units (I’m not), the final map can feel impossible. The ability to save between fights would have gone a long way to fend off that impossible feeling. In short, I’m really feeling the pull of the philosophy that if a game isn’t fun, it’s time to move on.


Classic SNES

I successfully obtained an SNES Mini. As Drew touched upon in his epic pre-ordering ordeal, getting the console was next to impossible online. In the end, I drove over to my nearest GameStop and pre-ordered in-store. That store had 10 units, and I was the third person to order. I picked mine up on the 29th without issue (GS even called me). Sometimes going old-fashioned is best, because as of this writing people on Amazon and Walmart still haven’t gotten their orders. Ouch.


The SNES Mini itself is a fascinating little piece of hardware. Like the NES Mini, it’s small, light, and adorable. More importantly, it delivers an easy and pain-free emulation experience to any HDTV. Plug it in and it just works. It’s nice that two controllers with longer cords are included. I started out by playing Final Fantasy III (AKA FFVI). While I haven’t gotten far into the game, the experience is a nice throwback to the past. I’m also loving the automatic save point feature. Reset any game and you are given the option to create three save files for each game on the Mini. It’s going to be a great asset when I’m short on time, need to stop playing, or an in-game save point is nowhere to be found. I also tried my hand at Contra III, but was handily trounced on the first stage. I skipped this game as a child, so I don’t have memories to rely on. Well, that and games really were much less forgiving a few decades ago.


Read part two of my column covering TV and some of the 2017 fall anime season.


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