Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

I intended to write about Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age when I was about halfway through it, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, the game completely took control of me in a way that few games do.  It is very similar to the weeks I spent enthralled by Breath of the Wild earlier this year. That doesn’t happen to me often, for it to happen twice in the same year is unusual.

 

Especially since I have already played Final Fantasy XII. It got me like this all the way back when it first came out.  I went to a midnight launch of the game at a Gamestop and played it pretty much nonstop until I beat it.  This remaster is largely the same game; very little of the content is changed.  The biggest changes are in the license board character growth system, since The Zodiac Age is based on the International special edition of the game that introduced job specific license boards instead of one identical one.  It’s a change I feared going in, thinking that it would upset the game balance by limiting the characters. While it does limit them, it also makes for more specialization. They are better at the few things they can do.  It takes for some adjusting, but all it really takes it knowing what abilities you have at your disposal.

 

Some of the game’s flaws are still there.  A lot of abilities are hidden in randomly spawning chests in dungeons.  That makes it really hard to make full use of your abilities when the best ones are hidden three quarters of the way through the game.  Some really great strategies are just impossible until you have the right skills, which even if you unlock them on the board you might never have.  I don’t know why they did it that way, but it is a very extent annoyance.

Still, I burned through The Zodiac Age in about a week of play.  In my head, FFXII turned into a slog about halfway through and dragged on way too long, like a lot of PS2 games did.  I did not find that to be the case this time.  I cleared the game in about 40 hours, which is about how long I like JRPGs to take.  I don’t mind the occasional 80 hour super-epic, but I prefer the Chrono Triggerian focused 25 experience.  FFXII fits right in between the two of them.  It is just about perfect.

The story does take a back seat after an action packed opening, but the world it task the player with exploring is the best.  I stopped caring that my task got kind of lost, because I was having too much fun exploring the caves and plains and beaches of Ivalice. There is just so much there, enough to keep anyone busy for at least as long again as playing through the story takes.  The world is the star of this game.

Honestly, though, I am a big fan of the story of this game as well.  It has one of my favorite casts.  Basch, Balthier and Ashe are all great characters.  A lot of people really don’t like Vaan and Penelo, but I find them inordinately charming.  Vaan positioning as the protagonist, even though he is not even close to the driving figure of the story, can be annoying, but the character himself is a lot fun.  His youthful exuberance is the perfect antidote to the often closed and jaded characters like Basch.  It takes more than a few cues from Star Wars, but Vaan is not the Luke of this story, he’s more like the R2D2.  A vital part of the team, but not really a driving force of plot. (the others match like this Balthier = Han, Fran = Chewie, Basch = Luke/Obi Wan, Ashe = Leia and Penelo = C-3PO) It gets a little lost in the middle, mostly because the story is split by vast stretches of land, it honestly holds together a lot better than I remembered.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is FFXII just like you remember it, much in the same way that the 3DS remakes of the N64 Zeldas are just like you remember them.  They are not as the game’s actually were, but they are close and everything that is different just removes annoyances to let you get at the great game that has always been underneath.  This remake is the rose tinted version of the game, minus a bunch of small complaints that didn’t even occur to players at the time.  I put up my Final Fantasy rankings a month or so ago and I stand by XII’s placement on the list. This game is one of the greats.

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What I Read August 2017

Two more Agatha Christie’s for August and I expect that this will be the pace for most of the next couple of years.  All I do for class is read; it makes it hard to find the drive to read for fun.  Still, I can’t imagine I stop reading entirely.

Cat Among the Pigeons

Agatha Christie

A solid Poirot story that reads more like a Marple story.  By that I mean that Poirot doesn’t show up until near the end of the story and mostly just solves the mystery instead of doing any investigating.  This involves intrigue and murder at a girl’s school, as well as Middle Eastern royalty.  A Middle East King, facing revolution, entrusts some gems to a British friend, who hides them among his visiting sister and her daughter’s possessions. When she gets back to school, things take a murderous turn

It works. The two halves don’t quite fit together, and part of the eventual solution seemed come out of nowhere.  I really prefer when the detective is a more active part of the story. The mystery here is fine, but the solving doesn’t quite live up to it.  It is kind of great how the Christie tells you exactly what is going on, yet it is still hard to pinpoint the villain. This one is not a favorite, but it is solid enough.

Passenger to Frankfurt

Agatha Christie

I’ve read some Christie that I thought was not great or was actually rather weak, but until this book I don’t think I’d encountered any of her books that I would call downright bad.  Passenger to Frankfurt, though, is downright bad.  It is strangely formless and scattered, with a lot of grand, if maybe poorly considered, ideas strewn about a plot that makes even the most convoluted and stupid Bond movies look downright intelligible.

Ostensibly, Passenger to Frankfurt is about Stafford Nye, a British foreign official who gets caught up in some international intrigue and espionage.  For the first half that is exactly what happens.  He meets a mysterious woman, he tracks her down again and learns of an important mission, and they head off to exotic locals to prevent disaster.  I guess, anyway.  A little past the midpoint, Nye all but disappears from the book as it becomes a much more general look at a plot to cause anarchy and overthrow Western governments.  There are threads about fake sons of Hitler and lobotomizing super drugs. It is weird as hell and not especially coherent. It is a big miss.

Now Playing August 2017

Beaten

Lufia 2: The Fortress of Doom – I didn’t beat it, but I am done with it. I am sorry, I am going write up my experiences with the first half or so of the game.  One day I will get back to this, like I intend to go back to the original Lufia and several other SNES rpgs.  It just isn’t clicking with me right now and I don’t feel like dragging my 25 SNES project out any longer.  I will try to play Terranigma sometime in the next month or so, but my free time is severely constrained.

Ongoing

Persona 5

I started this up right after its release, but I really only got invested in it in the last few weeks. Right now, I don’t like it as much as I liked Persona 3, let alone Persona 4.  It isn’t bad, but it just isn’t captivating me the same way either of those two games did. That is likely as much on me as anything in the game.  Persona 4 came out nearly a decade ago.  I was a different person then, in a different stage of my life.  I had the time to spent full days doing nothing but playing those games, now I really don’t. I am also less investing in the travails of high schoolers.  Ten years ago I was only a few years out of high school, those problems and considerations were much more relatable.  I don’t think the game should change, those high schoolers should have games that speak to them like Persona 4 spoke to me.  It just means that I connect with it a little less now.  At least the gameplay is still great.

Chrono Trigger – I’ve got a big post coming about this game, but recently I had the strong desire to replay one of my all time favorites. CT is still great.  No matter how many times I play it, I always want to play it again.  This might be my absolute favorite.

Sword Coast Legends – It was cheap on PSN and I still have affection for the old Infinity Engine games.  I beat the prologue.  There are problems, like reading tiny dialogue on the TV and ‘reading’ the screen in general because it is clearly designed for the PC with the players face inches instead of feet from the screen, or its extensive loading times, but I am still getting some enjoyment out of it. Enough to be worth the less than $5 I payed for it.

Upcoming

Yakuza 0/Kiwami – One of these is up next once I finish with or wander away from Persona 5.  They are starting to stack up on me now that Sega is actually committed to localizing them.  I will get to them, while I am considering spending a significant portion of my gaming budget on the special edition of Yakuza 6.  I love this series.

Monster Hunter Stories – It’s coming from Amazon. I might actually loan it to my brother while I play the next game on this list and finish Chrono Trigger.

Metroid: Samus Returns – Also coming from Amazon. This is the only Metroid game I haven’t beaten.

Terranigma – Now that I am done with Lufia 2 for the foreseeable future, I am eager to finally get to this last game on my list.  I will at least start in September.

Mario Games – I am having problems with my Wii and don’t have access to my WiiU, which means all the remaining games aside from 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros 2 are currently inaccessible to me. I will get back to this, but it could be a little while.  I will certainly not finish before Super Mario Odyssey comes out, which I will not get to play because I still don’t own a Switch.  But I do intend to finish this series.

Lucky Logan Review

I’m not a big Steven Soderbergh fan. Not that I don’t like his movies, only that I’ve only seen the Ocean’s trilogy and those, while enjoyable and essentially perfectly crafted, didn’t leave that big of an impression on me. Logan Lucky uses a similar formula, but replaces Ocean’s Vegas glitz with West Virginia grit. It works, with strong performances all around and funny moments from start to finish.

Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan; a divorced father who loses his job thanks to an old football injury that causes a liability issue at the same time he finds out his ex is taking their daughter and moving.  He needs money.  So he concocts a plan with his siblings, the one armed Clyde (Adam Driver) and hairdresser Mellie (Riley Keough), to rob a race track.  They recruit another group of siblings, the Bang brothers, to help them.  It is a heist movie, with the characters going through the usual hurdles of a heist movie, like needing to appear to be one place when they are actually somewhere else, before it all comes together.

It is a joy to watch even these largely kind of stupid characters be good at their jobs.  The Logan brothers are especially competent, while Joe Bang, played by a Daniel Craig who appears to be having a blast, MacGyver like knowledge of explosives is delightful.  Soderbergh knows the heist game as well as anybody, and he executes it again here.

I don’t want to explain more of the plot, because the joy is seeing it play out for yourself.  Any plot details, other than the base premise seem to spoil something.  This is a tight movie, with everything working just as it should.  Tatum is the perfect rock for the rest of oddball characters to play off of. He and Driver really manage to feel like brothers, with long standing gripes with each other but no doubt that the two of them always have each other’s backs.

This is the perfect movie to close out a somewhat disappointing summer.  It is just so competent and entertaining.  It isn’t a desperate attempt to set up a franchise or the dying gasp of last decade’s franchise.  Its plot is complex without being convoluted and just so goddamned effortlessly entertaining.

****1/2

What I Read in July 2017

July was another three book month, and all three were relatively short Agatha Christie books I picked up in a recent binge.  This time I have some excuse for my paltry reading efforts, though.  In the middle of July I made the decision to attend law school.  Well, I had been planning to go to law school for some time, I took the LSAT last March, but in July I decided which law school and that I would be going this fall.  So most of July was spent planning the move and getting ready for school.  That did not leave a lot of time for reading. I am going to guess that the next three years are not going to afford me a lot of time for recreational reading, though there is no chance I stop entirely.  For now, I’ve still got some Agatha Christie that I haven’t finished, and for July I have three of hers that I read.

So Many Steps to Death

Agatha Christie

This is a strange one.  It is kind of a spy thriller, like a Bond book. Only instead of a hyper competent spy at the middle of it, this stars a woman who just so happens to look quite a bit like the wife of a suspected Communist defector who died in an accident.  So she is recruited to take that woman’s place as she goes to meet up with her husband.

It gets into some fully crazy territory, with a secret villain lair hidden as a leper colony and faked plane crashes to cover people’s tracks.  I don’t know that I would call it particularly good.  It is like one of the more ridiculous Bond movies in its plotting, but it moves at a fast enough clip that I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

Five Little Pigs

Agatha Christie

This is a fun one.  16 years after her mother was convicted of murdering her father, Carla goes to Poirot to ask him to investigate what really happened, since her mother sent her a letter from prison saying that she didn’t do it.  Intrigued, Poirot sets out to investigate the other guests at the house at the time of the murder, uncovering the sordid affairs of all involved.

This is among my favorite of Poirot’s outings.  It sets up a perfectly limited group of suspects and does something of a Rashomon with them, (this book predates Rashomon) letting everyone tell their versions of the story and uncovering lies and reasons for lies with the conflicting takes. When it gets to the end and all is clear, it is just about as satisfying a mystery as I have read. This is a good one.

Sad Cypress

Agatha Christie

Another very good one.  This one does not hide its culprit especially well, but it does hide the motive.  There were only three people there when one of them was murdered; one of the other two is almost certainly the murderer.  And the book gives ample reason to believe that the accused is responsible, though since Poirot is investigating on her behalf it is almost certain that she is not.  So you turn to the other possible suspect, and there is no reason at all to suspect her.  This in a mystery is suspicious in and of itself.

This is one that seems more about the characters than the plot; at least as far Poirot mysteries are concerned.  It gives more intimate details of the lives of it primary characters.  Lots of details that are not primarily related to the case. With the ticking clock of the impending trial as a backdrop, you really feel for some of these characters.  It is really enjoyable.

Final Crisis

Grant Morrison, JG Jones, Doug Mahnke and Others

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but my excitement for the Justice League movie got me to pull the best Justice League vs Darkseid story.  Yeah, I said it, though I expect the movie to take more of its cues from the New 52 origin.  Final Crisis is a beautiful, wonderful mess.  I will write a full review of this book at some point, so I am saving deeper thoughts for that.

Summer Movie Round Up 2017

The summer movie season has ended with something like a month long whimper. July had some good stuff, including from what I hear War For the Planet of the Apes, which seems to be the only worthwhile wide release I missed this summer. Maybe Cars 3 as well. Ehh. So how about a countdown of my favorite movies of the summer.

10 Atomic Blonde – I’m kind of on the middle with this one.  The action is excellent, the spy stuff is turgid. I would say it is certainly worth watching, but it isn’t in the same strata as some other recent action movies, like either John Wick.

9 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – There is a lot of dead space in this movie, but there it had just enough energy to be enjoyable, especially since Jack Sparrow was back to being the wild card rather than the protagonist.

8 Spider-Man Homecoming – I am going to guess I am the low man on this one.  Something about this movie just didn’t click with me.  I don’t know what lesson Peter was supposed to have learned and I couldn’t really sympathize with the supposedly sympathetic villain after he straight up murdered one of his allies and made a joke about it.  I get why people liked it, but I only barely did.

7 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – There is plenty that doesn’t quite work here, but I found the general tone and energy to be compelling.  It isn’t a great movie, and I can see people just straight up disliking it, but something about it just clicked for me.

6 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – In my heart, this movie would be about 4 spots higher. I am already regretting not putting it above Guardians 2.  It is a love it or hate it sci fi adventure and I am firmly on the love it side. It is wild, perfect nonsense.

5A Okja – I gave this a very strong review when I first saw it and I stand by that. But in making this list I am looking at the movies I would most like to watch right now, and I don’t feel a compelling need to watch this again right now. From here on up are the movies I genuinely like and have excellent chances to show up on my year’s 10 best list. It is also the only Netflix movie on the list, and since some other Netflix movies would have made had I counted them, I went ahead and gave Okja a bit of an asterisk.

5 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – Just like the first, it is tons of fun with a killer soundtrack and an excellent cast.  Some of the jokes in this one were big misses for me, but the vast majority of the movie is pure fun.

4 Logan Lucky – I am not the biggest Soderbergh fan. Not that I don’t like his movies, only that I have really only seen the Ocean’s Trilogy and those mostly very recently.  This is along those same lines in terms of quality and content.  Logan Lucky trades the Vegas glitz for Appalachian grit, but it is still a slickly funny heist movie. It is the perfect late summer antidote to big explosions and CGI.

3 Dunkirk – another of Nolan’s perfect puzzle box movies. It is completely enthralling, though somewhat distant. Any of the three stories it combined would have been enough for its own movie and he combines them masterfully.

2 Wonder Woman – This is a superhero movie in a different mold from most current ones, with a stronger sense of earnestness than any since Captain America or even the original Superman.  It does revert to form in the last act, but everything before that is great.

1 Baby Driver – There really isn’t any question here.  Baby Driver is the easy frontrunner for my movie of the year. It would take a tremendous upset for anything to unseat it.  It might not be the best Edgar Wright movie, but even the worst Edgar Wright movie would rank highly on any yearly list.

I’ll be back soon with a post highlighting the movies I’m looking forward to over the last third of the year.  The summer might have been half lackluster, but there are some big movies coming over the next few months.

The Dark Tower Review

I am disappointed on all fronts with The Dark Tower, as much because it is not especially bad as I am because it is not good.  I am not one, generally, to root against a movie.  I didn’t want The Dark Tower to be bad, but as its release neared and possibility that it would be good seemed ever more remote, I had hoped that it would be truly, spectacularly awful. At least that would have been interesting.  The Dark Tower can’t even manage that. It bungles everything just enough to blandly pointless, not to be terrible enough to get any ironic enjoyment out of it.

Idris Elba, who is awesome as usual, plays Roland, the last of the gunslingers.  I start with him, even though he is not the lead.  That is the young Tom Taylor who plays Jake Chambers, a young boy who has visions of the alternate reality where Roland and his enemy, the Man in Black, live.  The movie follows his story, not Roland’s, for almost the entire first half and the second half is at best even between the two.

Fans of the book will recognize many elements of the movie, but many of them who have been rearranged into new forms. I don’t want to give much away, because spotting call backs to the books is one of the chief pleasures anyone watching this movie will glean from it.

It starts with Jake having visions of the Man in Black and his attacks on the Tower.  The people around Jake think he is crazy, including his step-dad, who wants to send him to some kind of sanitarium.  Just as he is to be sent upstate to visit this facility, which he already knows is connected to the Man in Black and his evil allies.

From there, it is mostly a collection of disinterested clichés.  Roland has given up on his gunslinger calling, but Jake attempts to inspire him to be better while learning about the relationship between various alternate realities.  Idris Elba is really good, but the movie can’t maintain any moment or generate any really interest outside of a few isolated scenes, which leaves him with nothing to do most of the time.

I’ll repeat that it isn’t a disaster.  It feels like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, which ended up sanding off anything interesting.  It makes sense from a scene to scene basis, though it never really takes the time to explain itself.  It feels less propulsive and more like the connections were edited out. Still, there is hint of something good here that just couldn’t find its way out.

I’m not really a fan of The Dark Tower books. I was at one time, but I really didn’t care for much in the last two books and found the ending somewhat insulting.  I haven’t read the books at all since I finished the 7th just a few days after I got it for Christmas the year if its release.  Watching this movie reminded me of what I once liked about this series, even if it actually delivers very little of that enjoyment.

**1/2

Dunkirk Review

Dunkirk is another of Christopher Nolan’s puzzle box movies. Taking what could have been a very straightforward war movie, he does things with the timeline to make it clearly his own.  Even without the differing timelines, it still would not have been a particularly traditional war movie.  Dunkirk is an intense, impossible to look away from movie that is unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Dunkirk is a war movie, chronicling the escape from the Nazis of the defeated allied army from the beach at Dunkirk. It does this without ever showing an enemy soldier, other than a few planes.  They shoot from off-screen and drop bombs from mostly unseen planes.  It is all about the the soldiers on the beach, the civilians coming over in their own boats to help evacuate and the pilots flying cover for them.

Each of those three segments is also somewhat oddly structured.  For one, the characters are barely named.  We get some names, but we learn almost nothing about the majority of the characters.  We know almost nothing about the soldiers on the beach other than they are soldiers on the beach who want to get off the beach.  We know nothing about the pilots other than that they are pilots.  We do learn a fraction more about the civilians on the boat, but only a fraction.  That is not to say it doesn’t create relatable characters, only that they are largely examined in the present rather than the past.

Then there is how it handles its three different timelines.  Events on the beach take place over the course of a week, while events on the boat take place over the course of one day and events in the plane take place over the course of an hour. So things happen in the planes before we see their effects on the boat or the beach.

I’m not sure the structure, other than being interesting in and of itself, helps the telling of the story.  The story being told is good enough to not need any embellishing.  Each of the three storylines would be enough to support an entire movie in their own right.  There is heroism to be found in each part.

That is where the movie truly succeeds.  Each scene is tense and enthralling.  Whether it is the soldiers trying to escape a sinking ship or the pilots in an intense dogfight, every scene has something to add.  It is too the movie’s credit that each even though it never lets up it also never feels overwhelming.  It manages to make the evacuation seem not like a victory, which it wasn’t, but an achievement.

Dunkirk is easily among the best movies I’ve seen this year.  Nolan is a master craftsman and this movie shows it.  And if I am being honest, when the movie nears its end with Churchill’s address to the nation I teared up a little bit.  Nolan has long since proven himself a master, and Dunkirk is another feather in his cap.

*****

What I Watched July 2017

Movies

Nocturnal Animals – I don’t really know what to make of this movie. It opens with deliberately off putting imagery that is almost completely disconnected from the rest of the movie before starting its various narratives. Half of the movie follows Amy Adams as she reads the manuscript of her ex-husband’s novel, with some flashback scenes to their marriage and its dissolution.  The other half follows the plot of the novel.  The novel sections are vastly more compelling than the others.  It is a mostly straightforward crime/revenge story, with Michael Shannon as a cop dying of cancer who agrees to help a husband get revenge for his murdered wife and child.  The other thread is trying to do something more, but it even in its tale of low key revenge I couldn’t help but think about the details it has to elide.  It sets up Adams’ character as living an empty and unhappy existence. One that a possible reconnection with her ex could change. But it elides the whole life she has lived in the 20 years since she last saw her husband, which included raising a child and building a successful career.  I think the movie wants us to side with the husband and his raising and dashing of her hopes, but I’m not sure about that.  Nocturnal Animals is a well made but largely cold movie.  It pushes the viewer away, making you want to analyze instead of feel. I can’t quite sort out my feelings toward it, but there is clear quality here.  ****

Ocean’s Eleven – This is a perfectly slick, fun little caper.  It really does feel like an awfully small movie for all the star power it brings to bear.  It isn’t one of my favorite movies, but there really isn’t anything I can point to that I dislike about it.  ****

Man of Steel – I watched this and its sequel for something I was writing that probably won’t happen. (Maybe in the lead up to Justice League.) I am ever frustrated by how wrong this movie gets some things despite how right or close to right it gets others.  If it didn’t have that absurdly destructive last act maybe people would remember how truly heroic Superman is early. Maybe if it didn’t screw up Pa Kent so badly I could watch it without making a face.  ***

Batman v Superman – I like this movie more each time I watch it.  I know that my reaction is the opposite of just about everybody else’s, I don’t care, I greatly enjoy this movie.  Especially the extended cut, which actually lets the plot make sense.  Like with Man of Steel, I have more to say on this, including diving into the religious underpinnings of the story, that I hope to have done before Justice League hits. ****

Land Before Time – For some reason the Netflix version of this movie has about 10 minutes cut out of its already short runtime, including a line that proved inexplicably memorable for my family.  It feels really jumpy as it is on Netflix right now, especially compared to my memories of it.  Maybe I’ll find the full version some time to see if it holds up. ** (for this version)

Spider-Man Homecoming – read review here.  ***1/2

Baby Driver – read review here. *****

Valerian And the City of a Thousand Planets – read review here. ****1/2

Atomic Blonde – read review here.  ***

The Prestige – This was one of the few Nolan movies that I had never seen all the way through. I had seen most of it, but never from start to finish. It is very good.  *****

Rocky – This is one of my absolute favorite movies. Each time I watch it only reinforces how much much I love this movie.  It is just about perfect. *****

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – I watched this again and I liked even more the second time. This is the tense sort of drama that that non-action scenes of Atomic Blonde was going for, but this movie does it right.  ****1/2

TV

One Day at A Time – This is a very old fashioned show with very forward thinking subject matter. It deals with a lot of progressive issues in a show that is very much styled like a 70’s multi-camera sitcom.  It works. The format is the hardest part for me, it absolutely nails what is both great and terrible about those shows.  I find the very forced and artificial set ups of those shows to be pretty grating and One Day at A Time is no different.  But there is something to be said about the largely episodic nature of this show.  It also does a solid job of foregrounding issues that should be discussed in ways that don’t get in the way of the jokes.  This is an admirable show done in a fashion that I don’t much like.

The Ranch S2 Part 1 – This is still comfortably terrible show, but its jokes about drunk driving got old a long time ago.  Honestly, even the appeal of a cast that I largely like is starting to wear thin with me.  I don’t know if I’ll be back for the next batch of episodes.  I like Sam Elliott and Debra Winger and I like Kutcher and Masterson together, but this show needs better plots and jokes if I am going to stick with it any further.

Castlevania – This has gotten largely positive reviews and I can’t say I agree with them at all. It is competently produced, but it takes the mostly goofy stylings of the Castlevania series and turns it into try-hard edgey nonsense.  I guess that is a little harsh, but it is only four episodes and it doesn’t even start to get good until more than halfway through the third episode. Hopefully the next batch of episodes is more like the second half here.

Trailer Park Boys S11 – I think I am just about done with Trailer Park Boys. I don’t really think the show has gotten worse, I’ve just seen enough. Maybe when the next season hits I’ll feel differently, but as much as I enjoyed parts of this season it really felt like a chore to watch at times.  This is the same show it has always been, for better or worse.

Bosch S1 – I read a few of the books a few months ago and thought I would try out the show. It’s good.  A little slow, but well done. It takes the cop procedural formula and turns it into something like a prestige show.  It stretches cases along the season, but still nails that mystery feeling.  It contains just enough from books I’ve read to throw me off, which is good.  I really want to get to the next couple of seasons, because this was good.

Now Playing July 2017

Finished

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age – Read about it here.

Ever Oasis Read about it here.

New Super Mario Bros. – Read about it here.

Ongoing

The Last Guardian – I barely played it again, but I feel like I am just a moment or two of being completely captured by this game, like I was with Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.  Right now, it is playing out more like Ico.  I love that game, but I fought with it for a few hours before I started to enjoy it and after that I really enjoyed it.  I feel like I am on the cusp of that with this game.  I guess time will tell.

River City Knights of Justice – For some reason, these River City Ransom follow ups keep deviating from that NES classic in strange ways.  Last year’s Tokyo Rumble was more of a take on Renegade, a game that precisely no one likes, instead of RCR, from which the game mostly just took the look. In this Fantasy RPG themed River City game they for some reason took out all the character building stuff.  I sincerely don’t get it.  There is very little sense of character building, something that both RPGs and River City Ransom are known for. The fighting and the setting are still fun, but the game kind of sets out with little help making sense of what is going on.  I really feel like I need a Nintendo Power guide to figure this out.  Most of the game seems to be completing little nonsense missions.  Though I did just fight a big ass dragon, which was cool.  I guess I am saying I like the game, but not as much as I hoped to like it.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst – From beating about two levels of this it looks like the game that everyone wanted Mighty No 9 to be. It is a essentially an 8-bit Mega Man game with the characters replaced with slightly different characters.  I actually kind of liked MN9, but so far this is a better, if smaller, game.  The bosses do take too many hits to kill, but otherwise I am having a lot fun with. With Inticreates keeping the DLC coming, I expect to have a lot of fun with this before I’m done with it.

Shin Megami Tensei Apocalypse – I’ve tried to get back into this, but for some reason it just isn’t clicking with me.  Which is odd, because I have liked just about every SMT game I’ve played before this one.  I’m about ten hours into this, but I am having trouble finding the desire to move forward.  I might drop this back and pick up another of my unfinished 3DS games. I am not giving up on this game forever.

Lufia 2 – I wouldn’t believe me either.

Upcoming

Persona 5 – It fell out of the rotation thanks to Final Fantasy XII, but I will get back to in the coming month.

Super Mario Sunshine – I finally got my Wii hooked back up and ready to go. I’ll be getting on this soon.

Super Mario Galaxy – As soon as I am done with Sunshine it is on to what I remember as being one of the greatest games of all time, though I haven’t played since shortly after its release.