Tag Archive | psx

Einhander: A Shoot-Em-Up Classic from an Unlikely Source

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In the 16-bit era, shoot-em-ups were enjoying their new found technological freedom. As technology stepped up, so too did the amount of enemy ships trying to blast you out of the air. Levels lengthened, enemies took on a wide variety, and bullets split the sky in various patterns. I was in heaven.

In the 32-bit era things went decidedly differently. Perhaps this was due to the continued decline of arcades and the inherent arcade nature of shmups. Polygonal hit boxes and the commonly low budgets for shmup developers (things that are still true today) clearly had an impact as well. Most great shoot-em-ups of the 16-bit days either went dormant, or stuck with the tried and true gameplay of their past iterations. New shoot-em-up franchises you say? Maybe in Japan, but even with the PSX being the money maker it was, publishers rarely cared to put in the comparatively minimal effort needed to bring them stateside.

Then Square stepped up to the plate by releasing Einhander in the US in 1998. Perhaps feeling cocky by the release of FFVII they were translating and releasing everything they could develop searching for their next big hit. Even things that were not RPGs were getting developed by Square, practically unheard of today.

Not only did Sony bring shmups into the polygon era, they nailed it on the first swing. Large bosses, huge variety of guns and strategy to using them, great music, amazing graphics. Any criteria you could use to judge whether a shmup is good or not (meaning don’t judge it on the story whatsoever) was impressive. I still go back and play this game when I want to blast hundreds of generic enemy ships into oblivion.

I, as I am wont to assume, believed that this was the beginning of an incredible series, rather than a one off experiment. Evenually other companies dragged shoot-em-ups new and old into today, but Square was so far ahead of the curve it is truly surprising that they didn’t capitalize on it. Square never saw fit to develop a sequel, nor any other shmup game ever since. Even worse, they are too lazy to let me download the originalon PSN, even though it is available on the Japanese PSN!

Oh Square-Enix, finding the dumbest ways to try and take my money while simultaneously finding other ways to keep me from throwing money at them.

A Small Realization about Final Fantasy

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It has become tough to remember a time when I would have listed the Final Fantasy series at the top, alongside some of my favorite games.

I think it has more to do with me than anything Square-Enix did (and they did a lot) to drive me away as a die hard fan from the burgeoning polygonal heyday of Squaresoft.

I just don’t game at the efficiency I used to. I could skip homework to play FFVII for a dozens of dozens of hours, but I can’t skip actual work to drop the hundreds of hours necessary to completing the latest foray into mainline Final Fantasy (and its mainline spinoffs, damn Square-Enix for even making that a thing). 

I like chunks of riveting, and dare I say, novel gameplay experiences. It has been a long time since “Over 70 hours of gameplay!” was a reason to buy a game for me. 

As for what Final Fantasy did, how about got caught up in over-budget terrible-writing fests for a few years. Going Bankrupt. Needlessly pandering to fans while letting their in house artists fly into outerspace with ridiculous design choices and not letting someone competent handle those translations properly.

Wait a minute. This has happened over the entire history of Final Fantasy!

You know what Square, keep doing what you’re doing.

Maybe us generations of FF fans ain’t so different after all.

(Final Fantasy periodic table image by Rafi)

Final Fantasy IX, Synthesis, and Poor Business Management

Now FFIX is a Damn fine game in many respects. The weapon synthesis system is nowhere near one of the best aspects of the game.

Imagine you stop at a fast food restaurant for a quick bite to eat. You order a delicious hamburger, and prepare to hand over the cash, but not so fast!

The restaurant employee informs you that they don’t have the buns or meat to make your hamburger. Looks like you’ll have to find them yourself, and then he will take your ingredients, still charge you, and make you a burger.

What the H!?

The issue becomes even more ridiculous if you imagine that the burger joint is located right next to a supermarket.

This is exactly what the synthesis shops do in FFIX!

Why doesn’t the synthesis shop just buy their own weapons to combine and sell? The weapon store is literally right next to you! You could build a fucking door between your stores! Don’t act like you don’t have an ax in your weapon shop! Why don’t you and the weapon shop just merge into one store!?

But then where would all the meaningless fetch quests come from? Not to mention the fact that I can’t sell any weapons ever again since you might need them for future synthesizing!

A minute for a cutscene from Tales of Phantasia

gabi-hime said: Yeah, I can think of games with important snow landscapes and plot events, but not a lot of games that are just snow and winter all the time.

There are likely a few memorable scenes like that in all the games I have played, but one comes readily to mind. A small moment in between saving the world in Tales of Phantasia. While resting up in a northern, snow covered inn, instead of just immediately resting for the night, then scene change to waking up, an entire cut scene takes place.

I was lucky enough to find the scene from the GBA version (I originally played the fan translated SNES version, but a hard drive crash kept me from finishing the game. I eventually did get the chance to finish the re-released GBA version).

It’s not the greatest scene ever, but damn good for SNES era, and came at a pretty hefty time in the game when you are questing so fast and so hard that you sort of forget what it is all for and how it all got started.