My Final Fantasy VII Remake Wishlist

We were all so, so overjoyed to hear about a Final Fantasy VII remake finally being confirmed. However, some wind was taken out my proverbial sail when articles started popping up confirming that they will be ‘adding’ to the story.

I’m sure that, at this point, I am far from the only person thinking about what things I do not want Square Enix to change, and some things that might be nice to see, given how video gaming as evolved. So, after some awesome discussion with my friends, I decided to make my own wishlist for the FFVII remake.

Some of this I am sure you will scream to the heavens in agreement with. I am sure you will threaten me with bodily harm at some others. Regardless, here is my wishlist! Please keep in mind that I may add or alter this list in the future.

Please, Square Enix, DO NOT RUIN:

  • The Materia System. I know you will be tempted to want to enhance this, but please don’t go throwing my materia into a sphere grid or some shit. Equipping it to my stuff and leveling it up is just fine, thank you.
  • The Battle System. ATB was fun as hell for me. At least keep it turn-based, please!
  • The Don Corneo Fiasco. I know that SJWs are going to come around and rage at themes from a game made in 1997, but please do not bow to that pressure. Things like Cloud cross-dressing and lining up for Don Corneo as a potential bedmate after escaping a hot tub full of mostly naked, burly men is the kind of magical thing that makes FFVII so great. Let’s leave it that way, please?
  • The Gold Saucer. Please do not fill it with in-game purchases, DLC unlocks, or any crap like that. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
  • Snowboarding. Snowboarding for days. Don’t fuck it up.
  • Barrett and Cid’s Cursing. If you’re going to censor them again, find a creative way to do it, please. I will be heart broken if ‘DRINK YOUR %&#%@ TEA!’ does not come out of Cid’s mouth.
  • Aeris’ Death. You will, I’m sure, be tempted to give us a way to bring her back to life. Don’t. You’ll cheapen her death, and have to change the ending to boot, and that is a slippery slope to a world of pain. Just ask Bioware about Mass Effect 3.
  • The Turks. I love them. Do not break my heart, Square Enix. Do. Not. Do. It.

Hey, Square Enix, It Might Be Cool To See:

  • A Not-Shitty Version of the Motorcycle Mini-Game. I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but that mini-game sucked. Hard. It’d be cool to see it not suck.
  • Less Confusing Chocobo Breeding. I remember this being a pain in the ass. What are the best Greens and Nuts to feed these guys? What combination of what Chocobos make what colors again? If we could have an in-game way to get this information, that’d be awesome, thanks.
  • A Better Translation of the Script. However, it’d be kinda cool to keep some of the more famous errors in there. ‘This guy are sick’ is just iconic at this point.
  • A Well-Paced Version of the Fort Condor Mini-Game. I found this game painfully slow, boring, and tedious. If you could find a way to make it engaging and pace it nicely, it might be a cool addition!
  • Uematsu Return to Remaster the Soundtrack. The music is perfection. Why not get the master to make it even more perfect?
  • Better Achievements. People love their ‘chieves, but the ones for the Steam version were terrible. Some more creative ones that we would actually have to work at would be sweet!

In the end, however, let us keep in mind that this is a remake, not a remaster. Things are going to be changed, and we should be open to it and welcome it. There is no way anything Square Enix creates is going to replicate the feelings we all had playing FFVII when it first came out, so expecting it to do so is simply pointless. As long as it is a solid game that stays true to the spirit of the original, I will be absolutely thrilled.

Please feel free to share your wishes and/or other thoughts for the Final Fantasy VII remake in the comments!

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How E3 2015 Made Me Realize How Much I Love the Gaming Industry Again

It’s been rather easy to become disenchanted with the video game industry in the past few years. We’ve seen many huge, beloved series’ such as Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed fall flat in the eyes of many fans over time. We’ve seen the advent of DLC, in-game purchases, console exclusives, and early access games, all of which have sparked massive amounts of controversy. We’ve experienced GamerGate, which opened up several cans of worms and other nasty things that have circulated a lot of negativity into the community and the industry. Konami fired Hideo freakin’ Kojima. Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!

So you can imagine my surprise last night when I found myself literally crying with joy over E3.

It started Sunday night with Bethesda, who had their first ever E3 conference. We all knew that they would be discussing Fallout 4, which everyone was more than excited about to begin with, but then they just went insane. Like Collector’s Editions of games? Here, have your very own Pip Boy! A Fallout mobile game sound good to you? You can go play it tonight! Can’t wait for Fallout 4 to come out? How does November 10th, 2015 sound to you?

It sounds beautiful. Thank you, Bethesda.

That wasn’t all they had to offer, of courser. Doom looked deliciously gory and gorgeous, and it’s letting us create our own levels to share. Battlecry‘s global beta sign-ups began. Disohonored 2 was announced, and it’s predecessor is getting a Definitive Edition! Cries of ‘Bethesda Won E3!’ rang into the night. Many who find themselves disheartened by E3 every year thought it wouldn’t get better than this.

Then Monday came and smacked those people in the face.

Microsoft put Fallout 4 mods on their console and Minecraft on a table (and reminded us that it’s pronounced ‘Mo-yang’, thank you very much). Dark Souls III was announced, sending masochistic gamers everywhere into a frenzy. Oh, and they’re finally doing that backwards compatibility thing that Nintendo and Sony have been doing for years. Good for them.

EA announced that Mass Effect: Andromeda would bring its swanky space cowboy self to us during the 2016 holiday season. Mirror’s Edge got a sequel. Star Wars got, like, an army of new stuff. Oh, and sports. Lots and lots and lots of sports. Then, things got really real. Like, really real.

A sweet little Swedish developer by the name of Martin Sahlin came on stage to talk about Unravel, a game he created starring a little creature made of yarn. He pulled a real-life version of his yarn-made character out with shaky hands, holding it as his eyes gleamed. He spoke passionately and honestly about his inspiration for the game. You could see how nervous and scared and elated and joyous he was. It radiated from every word he spoke. The crowd felt it. They cheered for him. It looked gorgeous and promising, but it was the creator who stole the show.

When was the last time we had seen such raw, honest passion for gaming? This game stood out among everything else at E3, not just because of how great the game looked, but because of how the experience of watching a creator share his creation made us feel.

Then, the excitement kept rolling with Ubisoft. South Park: The Stick of Truth got a surprising sequel. We got Tom Clancy’s Tom Clancy: The Clancying. A new IP, For Honor, took everyone’s breath away. We learned that Ubisoft gave the new Assassin’s Creed game enough of a budget to afford a female main character (we know how expensive those are to make, after all!). To top it all off, we got a game with a cat riding on a goddamned unicorn with a triple rainbow in the background.

Then came Sony.

And oh, Sony. Sony is known for knocking it out of the park every year at E3. I’m pretty sure, however, that they knocked it off of the planet, out of orbit, and into some unknown corner of the galaxy which we will surely explore in No Man’s Sky (which looked absolutely incredible, by the way).

First of all, they started their conference with The Last Guardiana game that many were convinced would never even happen. Yet, here it was, a legendary myth come to life. If this is how they began, I wondered, what in the world do they have to show us after this?

Well, as it turns out, they had a warrior woman hunting mechanical dinosaurs. This exciting gem is called Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it’s a new IP that took everyone by surprise. They also had Street Fighter V and a new Hitman to show us, but that seemed timid to me compared to everything else. Dreams is an abstract-looking game that not everyone seemed to get. Sony seemed to be losing steam at this point.

Then, they start talking about a beloved franchise, coming back fresh and new. I felt a chill go down my spine. My pulse began to quicken. What could it be?

Oh, it’s World of Final Fantasy. All the character together, looking adorable, and it’s on the Vita. That’s cute. Geez, for a minute there, I thought they were going to announce a Final Fantasy VII remake. Stupid thought.

At least, it was a stupid thought, until they announced a Final Fantasy VII remake.

Those of you that have read my previous posts here know how much this game means to me, not because of my nifty pair of nostalgia goggles, but because FFVII was the game that turned me into a gamer. It was the beginning of my love of the industry and became the gateway to all of the games I have experienced and loved throughout the years.

The Internet went insane. I was crying. Everyone was crying. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. I took a deep breath. It’s the middle of the conference! Why did they announce this now? How could they top this?

With a Shenmue 3 Kickstarter, that’s how.

At this point, I felt numb. I didn’t know if my heart could take much more. Yeah, we got yet another Call of Duty, and the new Uncharted looked awesome, but my mind was still reeling. Sony basically did a mic drop and gave Microsoft and Nintendo the middle finger as they backed off of the stage.

That was how I found myself crying at 10:30 at night, unable to sleep. I had witnessed video gaming history. I saw games announced that I never thought I would ever see. There was an astonishing number of female characters shown. Most of all, I was excited.

Not just ‘oh cool, Aisha Tyler is hosting Ubisoft again!’ excited (she was awesome as always, by the way), but truly, deep in my bones, bellowing from the dark cockles of my heart excited. I still feel my entire body buzzing. My mind is just filled with emotions. Nintendo and Square Enix haven’t even had their conferences yet! Nintendo might be a legitimate risk to my health at this point.

This is an incredible feeling, and an extremely exciting time for the gaming industry and the gaming community. Not everything that we saw was perfect, of course (early access on consoles? Yeesh!), but that certainly doesn’t tarnish the experience, at least for me.

I am so, so joyously happy. Amazing games are on the horizon. There is true passion injected into the developers this time around. There’s far more positivity buzzing around than there has been in a long time. I feel like a breath of life has been pushed into the gaming industry, and I could not be more elated to see it happen.

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“From Hyrule to Haiyan” – Whoa Guy Gaming Charity Event for the Philippines!


My friends and I at Whoa Guy Gaming, a charity gaming group, are stepping up to help the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan! After the success of our charity events for Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes, we knew the moment that Haiyan made landfall that we needed to gear up to do what we could.

We can’t do it alone, however; we need you guys! If you’ve never participated in a gaming charity event before, it’s simple: we play video games and entertain you, and you watch, donate, and help spread the word!

This event’s game series is The Legend of Zelda! We hope that you will join us on Sunday, November 24th, 2013, and donate so we can get relief to the people that need it the most!

Here’s some more information on the event and how you can help:

Details on the Games:

We have planned for the original “The Legend of Zelda”, followed by “The Adventure of Link”, “A Link to the Past”, and “Link’s Awakening DX”. More games may be put on the list if time (and player energy) permits.

How to Watch & Donate:

Starting at 10am Eastern time on Sunday, November 24, 2013, we will be streaming our play on Twitch at . We encourage you to watch, as that is the primary attraction for our fundraiser- funny people playing great games for a good cause. During the broadcast, we encourage you to make a donation and then challenge us to do something in or out of the game!

To donate with PayPal, visit , click the green “Donate” button and follow the instructions there.

If you wish to donate Bitcoin, use the address:
or the QR code here:

Please also visit our Facebook page at and join our public Facebook event.

Distribution of Donations:

100% of all donations will be forwarded to the International Red Cross and will go directly to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Remember, even the smallest donations help! If you can’t donate, then please spread the word by sharing this blog post, sharing any of the links above, or visiting our Official Website to get more information and to stay updated on any future charity events. Any little thing that you can do can help us do our part to bring relief efforts to the people of the Philippines during this tragic time. We CAN make a difference, so let’s get together and do what we can!

Also, feel free to drop me an e-mail or reply to this post any questions you may have. Game on!

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Why Am I Buying Final Fantasy 7 For The Third Time?

As you may or may not have heard, today Final Fantasy VII was finally released on Steam, after many months of knowledge that info for the classic Squaresoft RPG has been hidden deep in Steam’s files. I immediately grabbed for my wallet to purchase it, hopping around in my chair like a little Mog. I stopped, however, when I realized that I also own this game for the original Playstation and on my PSP.

This got me thinking: why am I buying this game for the third time?

Well, as you may guess, the answer is a rather personal one. I’ve played video game all my life, starting with begging my parents to let me play on their NES, running immediately to my grandmother’s basement during visits to play her Intellivision II, and sharing my Genesis with my little brother while he shared his SNES with me. Still, I was so young at that point that I didn’t really think of video gaming as the incredible creative medium that I now recognize it as.

For me, gaming wasn’t serious as a child. I stopped playing video games and began to play outside in the backyard and with my other toys, so my mother gave my Genesis to my cousin, and I never missed it once until adulthood. Aside from the rare round of Mortal Kombat with the kid down the street, I never thought about or touched video games when my age got into the double digits.

Then, my family moved. The first person I made friends with at my new school happened to be a gamer. She invited me over to her house one day after school and insisted that she show me this amazing new RPG she’s playing. My first question was ‘what’s an RPG?’.

Oh, what a silly little thing I was.

She simply smiled and turned on Final Fantasy VII. I remember seeing commercials for it and being rather confused. Where were the other 6? (As well all know now, the answer to that question is not an easy one). I had never heard of this game series before until they had put ads on TV, and I had certainly never seen the game in action before.

She spent hours showing me the game, explaining how turn-based combat worked, how equipping items worked, how leveling up worked. I was in absolute awe. I felt adrenaline running through my body. I was completely transfixed. I was experiencing something that was going to change my life.

A few months later, my 13th birthday rolled around. I asked my friends for money as a gift, and then had my mother take me to the local Toys ‘R Us and picked up a Playstation, the biggest memory card I could find, and FFVII, along with its strategy guide.. I spent years playing this game with that friend. We’d hang out with our strategy guides and write notes in it for certain parts to help each other out (my copy of the guide now has no cover and has so many things written in it and highlighted that it’s almost sad). We’d breed chocobos and compare them. We’d find new armor and items that we didn’t know existed and would share our findings. We’d come to each other crying in frustration over boss battles, and would help each other beat them.

Not only that, but my brother eventually got into it, too. He would grab the controller and run around as Cloud whenever I had to step away, and was perfectly content to just explore whatever town or area of the world map I was in. He would play with his toys in my room just so he could watch me play as well. Sometimes, he would even get up and pretend he was Cloud when I was in a battle, slashing and dodging at an invisible enemy, and loving every moment of it.

It wasn’t just a game, it was a bonding experience.

Finally, one day, alone in my room, my mother called me down for dinner. I came to the stairs in tears, and my mother instantly got worried. “What’s wrong?”, she’d asked me. I simply sobbed harder. “I just beat Final Fantasy VII. It’s over, Mom!”

Of course, she told me to stop being so over-dramatic and to wash up for dinner, but she didn’t understand the experience I had just gone through. She didn’t understand how invested I had become in the story, in the characters, in the entire process of playing through my first RPG, one that, whether you like it or not, changed the RPG genre forever. It may not be as great as everyone with their nostalgia goggles on claims it to be, but it was and still is a damn good game. It was my first RPG, and first foray into my life as a serious gamer.

So, yes, Final Fantasy VII is more to me than just an old-school RPG that many think is overhyped (it is, in my opinion, but that doesn’t make the game any less great!). To me, it is a definitive mark in my life as a gamer. It was the beginning of what I know will be a lifelong passion of mine.

And that, my friends, is why I am not hesitating to open my wallet again.

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Gaming Charity Event!

Hey, guys! Been a while!

My friend and I at Whoa Guy Gaming are hosting a charity event to benefit the Oklahoma tornado victims. We’d love it if you guys would join us and watch, or simply donate, or even just spread the word. Hope to see you there!

I unfortunately cannot make it physically, but I will be watching some of it, and of course, donating. You all should do the same! Thank you for your support!

Here’s the info:

Date: Saturday, June 1, 2013 starting at 11:00 AM EDT

Games: We will start with the Genesis Sonic games: Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3+Knuckles, and possibly Sonic 3D Blast. Then the Dreamcast-era games Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. More games, such as Sonic Generations, may be put on the list if time (and player energy) permits.

How to Watch & Donate: We will be streaming our play on Twitch at . We encourage you to watch, as that is the primary attraction for our fundraiser- funny people playing great games for a good cause. During the broadcast, we encourage you to make a donation and then challenge us to do something in or out of the game!

Donations can be made through our page at GoGetFunding, which is here:

If you wish to donate Bitcoin, use the address:
or the QR code here:

Distribution of Donations: 25% of all money raised will be sent to the Central Oklahoma Red Cross to provide medical aid, 25% to the Oklahoma Humane Society, which has been working to give medical care to pets lost or injured in the disaster, and 50% to a to-be-determined fund that will directly help those who lost their homes or were displaced because of damage.

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Samurai Pizza Cat DVDs Are Coming!


Who do you call when you want some pepperoni? Apparently, a little company called Discotek Media!

Crunchyroll made many an old school anime fan squeal with glee when they released an article saying that Discotek Media announced they will be releasing Samurai Pizza Cats on DVD! Apparently, it will come in two versions: an English dub, and the original Japanese language track with English subtitles.

For those who don’t know what Samurai Pizza Cats is, well, I feel damned sorry for you. This show was a big part of my childhood, and my little brother and I still sing the theme song to each other every now and again.

I will be picking up the English dub. Why? Well, to be honest, it’s fricken’ hilarious, and I can’t imagine watching the show without all of the jokes I remember from my childhood.

I’d love to know who else is excited about this, and what version you guys will be picking up. I’m assuming that a DVD release means that I’m far from the only person who remembers this gem of a show. I hope you all are as excited as I am!

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How I Got Trolled On Christmas

First off, let me start by wishing all of my readers a happy holiday and a wonderful new year! You guys are amazing, and I’ve adored getting to know all of you this year, and continuing to write for this blog (however intermittently that may be. Sigh.)

My Christmas was amazing! My father shocked the absolute hell out of me by getting me a Kindle Fire! It’s an absolutely gorgeous device, and I can’t wait to play around with it more, download more apps, and see what the little bugger is made of! I just have to get a nice, sturdy case for it…

Anyway, my brother Anthony, a.k.a. Opal Phoenix of The Opal Phoenix Nest, decided to troll me this season. Hard. In the most amazing. Way. Possible.

On Christmas Eve, I had picked up my present under the tree and found that it was extremely light. I had also noticed that my brother’s Christmas card to me had been missing from my stocking. I immediately turned to him and said ‘Did you put my card in a goddamn box to troll me?’ He answered by threatening my life if I didn’t put the box down, so I did. ‘No,’ I said to myself, ‘There’s no way he’d do that to me. He just forgot the card in his bedroom or something.’

So, fast forward to Christmas morning. I unwrap the present and it is a plain cardboard box. Inside the box is nothing but my Christmas card. As I look at my brother in mock rage, he begins to laugh.

I picked up the card and opened it, and this is what I found.

No…he didn’t

I immediately tackled him with hugs and kisses, squeeling like a little girl. My brother bought me Skyrim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I played it for the first time last night, and suffice to say, my entire life is over. It was nice knowing you all and stuff, but I have epic quests to embark on.

I love my brother.

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The ‘Dragon Age’ Franchise: An Editorial


Let’s face it: Bioware makes great games (most of the time, at least). One of their biggest franchises is the Dragon Age franchise. The first game, Dragon Age: Origins, was a huge success, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest role-playing games of all time. It’s sequel, Dragon Age II, was…well…not so well-received, for several reasons.

So, what made DA:O so popular? What made DA2 not so popular? Does the second game deserve the bad rap it gets? Most importantly, what could possibly be in store for Dragon Age‘s future?

Dragon Age: Origins

On November 3rd, 2009, Bioware’s newest game, Dragon Age: Origins, hit shelves for the PC, XBox 360, and Playstation 3, with the Mac version hitting stores about a month later. It was an instant success, pulling the player into what Bioware described as a “dark heroic fantasy” set on the continent of Thedas in a country called Ferelden. It offered six origins to choose from: a human noble, a human or elven mage, a city elf, a woodland elf, a noble dwarf, and a commoner dwarf. Factoring in the additional choices of gender and character class, along with different weapon and ability specialties, the possibilities were so vast that it felt like you could literally do or be anything you wanted. There was, however, a specific goal.

Regardless of your origin, you wound up as the newest member of the Grey Wardens, a group of warriors dedicated to protecting the world from the evil demonic creatures known as ‘darkspawn’. When a supremely powerful darkspawn, known as the Archdemon, rises and begins to give direction to the darkspawn’s normally random actions, it signifies the beginning of a Blight, or an all-out war waged by the darkspawn against all living creatures. As luck would have it, a Blight is currently upon the land, and after the king of Ferelden is betrayed by one of his closest allies, it is up to you, the player, to unite Ferelden in the fight against the Blight.

The storyline progresses in a way that delivers a truly epic, sprawling adventure, where you learn about the history and people of Thedas, and then subsequently carve your own name into history. It’s a beautiful, incredibly well-done introduction into the story’s universe, focusing on two main aspects of the game: combat and social interaction.

The combat in DA:O had its flaws, but was a good system overall. It focuses mainly on tactics, and allows you to either micromanage each party member’s moves, or set up a system of tactical directions for them to follow automatically. Creating a strong, balanced party that can take advantage of other party members’ powers and the layout of the battlefield is the key to mastering the fighting system. Add into this the ability to enchant your weapons and armor with runes, as well as the ability to craft poisons, bombs, and other nifty little items to use in battle, and you have a well-rounded combat system that literally has something for everyone.

Not only does leveling your character affect you in battle, it changes the way you interact with the residents of Ferelden. With enough powers of persuasion or intimidation, you can weasel your way out of (and, in some cases, into) battles and other tricky situations. You’ll find yourself very surprised with how wide-spread the effects of your words and actions are. Bringing certain party members into certain situations can also change the outcome, and your party members even have personal quests and gifts that you can give them to help your rapport with them. Along with different conversation options, a solid system is built that tracks your relationships with your party members, which can range from being passionate lovers to mortal enemies. Cross your companions one too many times, and you may find yourself on the wrong side of their weapons.

There are also a plethora of side-quests that earn you lots of items and gold, as well as access to other quests or recruitable characters. The map system does a fairly decent job of tracking where you need to go, using arrows to show you where quest goals and quest-giving NPCs are located. You can hold down the ‘Tab’ button to highlight any clickable items or objects to help you if you’re stuck as well. Several towns also have a Chanter’s Board, which holds several side-quests that can earn you gold, among other things. The map also houses your campsite, where you can go to heal your injuries, buy or sell items, and interact with your party members.

So, as you can tell, Dragon Age: Origins is an amazing game, and it’s easy to see why it was so well-received. There were flaws, but no game is without a flaw or two, right? You can’t possibly get mad at a game for being imperfect, right?

You can, however, get mad at a game for messing with your favorite parts of the already established storyverse.

Dragon Age II

The second game in this series, Dragon Age II came out in early March of 2011 for the PS3, 360, PC, and Mac. Many fans were beyond excited for the second entry into the Dragon Age series. The screenshots looked gorgeous, we were getting ready to be itroduced into a whole new area of Thedas, the Free Marches, and there was a laundry list of characters from the first game who would be making appearances both big and small.

Unfortunately, the game fell flat of expectations in the eyes of many of the fans. There are many things that Bioware got both right and wrong by their approach in DA2. So, because I absolutely adore this series, let’s start with what they, in my opinion, got right.

The battle system is much improved in the second game, in my opinion. It’s much more face-paced and exciting, and adding character-specific ability trees truly makes each character unique, which was a departure from the original game where it was possible to teach every character several specialties. They also streamlined the item system, giving you ‘junk’ items that were purely for selling, and offering armor upgrades for your companions rather than having to purchase multiple pieces of armor for each of them. Your character still requires several pieces of armor to protect themselves, however.

It also shook things up in regards to said companions. The main character, Hawke, has two siblings, and their fates differ depending on your starting class and choices you make at a specific point in the game (I won’t elaborate to avoid spoiling). It also offered the ability for a male and female main character to romance any of the four romantic interests (save for Sebastian, who can only be romanced by a female Hawke and is only available via DLC). This was a good thing for many of those who downloaded mods to allow some same-sex lovin’ in the first game, but it was overshadowed by several flaws (which I will delve into a bit later).

As for the companions themselves, I have to say that I love and enjoy them just as much, maybe even more so, than the original game’s companions. I don’t know if it’s the writing, or the way their relationships are presented, but I feel as if the companions in DA2 were portrayed as much more bonded with each other than the original game’s bunch. The issues that do pop up between the characters seem to be a bit deeper and more complex to me than the ones in the first game, save perhaps for Alistair and Morrigan’s dislike of each other due to their obviously differing issues of apostate mages.

I didn’t experience all of the romances in DA2; in fact, I’ve only romanced Fenris so far, and I found his romance with Hawke to be deeper and more developed than that of the Warden and Alistair, or the Warden and Zevran. I enjoyed all three romances, but the one with Fenris was by far my favorite. I don’t want to spoil any of the romances for you, but the Fenris romance in particular is far from the fairytale one, yet it feels more fulfilling and genuine than any other playable romance in either game, save for perhaps Alistair’s.

I feel the second game also improved upon some other smaller gameplay aspects. One of my favorite additions to the game is the ability to not have every interactable item glowing. If you’re the kind of person that likes to discover every little secret for yourself, this is perfect for you, although I will admit that I wound up turning on the ability to have everything highlighted after a while. You can still hold down ‘tab’ to show interactable objects like in the first game, but I found it to be just too tiring on my fingers.

As for the story, although it also had some large issues, it hit on a lot of interesting points that were only lightly touched upon in Origins, the biggest one being the portrayal of mages in society. You got to travel to the Circle of Magi in the first game and see a bit of how they were treated by the soldiers employed to watch over them known as the Templars, but this is a large focus of DA2‘s story. While you did get treated a bit differently if you were a mage in the first game, choosing this class has a much larger impact the second time around. Not to fear, though; the creators did a great job of not letting your choice in class prevent you from participating in any of the larger points of the game.

Another big thing that the second game hit on was the Qunari, a race of large, intelligent, yet almost bestial creatures that come from afar. A Qunari named Sten was an optional party member in the first game, but we get to see much more of the Qunari and the way their society works in the second game. In fact, they themselves also play a rather large part in the overall plot. Add this to the return of many beloved characters, and you’ve got an experience that will delight many fans of the first game.

Of course, you can’t please everyone. With that, let’s look at what Dragon Age II got wrong.

We’ll start with the point I just touched on above. While it was exciting to see many of the beloved characters from the first game return, not every cameo was a satisfying one. Everyone’s favorite rogue elf, Zevran, makes a brief appearance, but with the almost alien-like redesign of the elves in the second game, many of those who romanced him in the first game were unhappy with his new look. There were also a few other favorite characters, such as Bann Teagan and Nathaniel Howe, who were downplayed much more than the fans would have liked. These two in particular were also big favorites of the ladies, and they were remorse (myself included) to find that they were unromancable yet again in this game.

This all paled in comparision, however, to the gigantic blunder that was the return of Anders.

Anders is a runaway mage that you meet and can conscript into the Grey Wardens in the Dragon Age: Origins: Awakening DLC. Many were delighted to find that he would not only be returning, but would be a main companion character, and romancable to boot. The time in between the first and second game didn’t treat Anders kindly, however, as he made a huge mistake that resulted in a horrific outcome for the poor guy. What really got everyone angry about this was his change in personality.

It’s understandable that Anders’ normally flirtacious, quirky, and bubbly personality would be toned down by what he experienced in between the two games, but they took his character into a direction that nobody saw coming. He became a loose cannon, obsessed with making templars pay for their unethical treatment of mages, resulting in huge destruction and several innocent deaths. Not only that, but many people felt as if his romanced was rather rushed, as he becomes just as obsessed about the player character as he is about freeing mages, and in a rather short amount of time. I personally enjoy what they did to his character, and I think that the anger of the fans is more due to the initial shock of the direction they took his character in than anything else.

The interaction with characters in general got revamped in the second game as well. DA2 adapted the conversational ‘wheel’ mechanic straight out of another popular Bioware game series, Mass Effect (which, ironically, has been coined by many as ‘Dragon Age in space’!). I do enjoy the conversation wheel, however, what actually comes out of Hawke’s mouth isn’t exactly what’s written in the wheel (which is intentional, as the system alters what you say depending on how many good, sarcastic, or evil conversation choices you make, but I found it slightly jarring at times nonetheless), and I felt like it was a rather odd choice that they made this game adapt Mass Effect‘s system rather than keep its own unique one.

Another thing about DA2 that irks me is the copious reuse of the same maps over and over again. Whether this was due to time constraints, budget constraints, or just plain laziness on the part of the level designers, I find that it breaks the feeling of immersion in the game a bit. Given, I am fairly sure that there are a lot more side quests in the second game than in the first, and it would take a lot more time to create individual maps for all of them, but I do feel more effort could have been put into this. I’ll just have to comfort myself with the idea that it’s all actually Varric’s fault.

There are a few notable flaws in both games that are worth looking at as well. One of the biggest ones is the plethora of glitches, missing sound files, graphical glitches, and other little errors. These games run on a sort of ‘flag’ system, like many games do, where certain conversation options or other events are triggered by a ‘flag’ that lets the game know that a certain criteria has been met. Many flags fail to initiate in both games, resulting in missing conversations and other issues. One of the most well-known of these concerns Zevran’s romance in Origins, which is riddled with these glitches, and even robs the player of a romance-based last conversation with him before the final battle. Luckily, the fans of this series are incredibly talented and dedicated, and many patches exist to fix these errors and restore lost content.

I myself encountered many glitches in both games, but I find that the glitches in DA2 are more noticable to me. There are several item-based side quests in the second game, where you find an item and simply have to return it to its original owner for a reward. I found that about a quarter of these that I turned in were glitched, having my Hawke say one thing, but having the words she was speaking on the screen say another. I also have found a hefty handful of instances where, right after a scene plays, a companion will say something, but the sound won’t trigger. I have to wheel around and read the words above their head quickly before they disappear and I miss it! I’ve also found a lot of the conversation animations to be a bit choppy when one line finishes and another begins. I could probably find mods created by the fans to fix all of these, but it has yet to bug me to the point that I feel the need to seek such a thing out.

So, as you can hopefully see by what I’ve already discussed, Dragon Age is a beautiful, yet flawed, game series. Do I dislike Dragon Age II for it’s drastic changes? Not at all, actually. I am thoroughly enjoying the game, to be honest, and my brother loved it, too. There are a lot of other people who enjoyed it as well, despite the legions of fans that will try to convince you to avoid it all costs.

As for the future of the franchise, it looks very bright and promising. Bioware clearly has the ability to branch out with the franchise, creating a much beloved mini web series, as well as a Facebook game. Bioware has also made it a point to listen to the fans, and has publicly acknowledged the fan’s displeasure with the second game, and has assured us that they are taking all of that feedback into account to be sure that the players get what they want out of Dragon Age III.

Personally, I just want Bann Teagan and Nathaniel Howe romancable. Please, Bioware? I swear, I’ll be your best friend forever!

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SNL Takes a Stab at Otaku Culture

As you may or may not have heard, last night’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by the always-funny Anna Faris, featured a skit called “J-Pop America Fun Time Now!”, which basically took a few completely overblown stereotypes about Japanese and Otaku culture and beat them to death.

I personally found the skit hilarious, but if you watch the video via Crunchyroll here and read the comments, this made a lot of anime fans very, very angry.

I can see why people would be angry at it, and I was slightly irked by it myself, but they made it very clear a little ways into the skit that this is clearly not what the culture is really like, and that the people hosting this ‘show’ were being borderline racist. Even so, most people who left comments seemed to have gotten so disgusted that they didn’t even watch that far into the video.

This skit seems to be taking more shots at American fans of anime and Japanese culture than the actual culture itself, and that is the part of it that irritates me. Either way, I don’t feel particularly offended by it.

What is your take on it? Did SNL go too far, or is the anime community overreacting? Share your thoughts, I’m very interested in hearing them!

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My Video Game Collection: Nintendo DS

My video game videos continue with my two-part Nintendo DS Collection! Check it out and enjoy!

My PSP Collection will be next, so stay tuned for that!

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