Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 312016

a-night-in-the-lonesome-octoberHappy Halloween!

Every October, fans read A Night in the Lonesome October, which has one chapter for each day of the month in which it’s set.

(I read it in January and forgot about re-reading it this month, but that’s beside the point.)

A Night in the Lonesome October is an unusual and quirky novel. The overall plot, about a door to another world that can be opened on Halloween and the people who try to either enable this or prevent it, takes clear inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft.

Everything is told from the point of view of Snuff, a dog who belongs to one the “Players” trying to keep the door closed, Jack. Although never directly stated, it’s strongly implied that he is Jack the Ripper.

(In fact, according to rumor, the author wrote A Night in the Lonesome October because someone made a bet he couldn’t get readers to root for Jack the Ripper.)

But Jack isn’t the only familiar face. From “The Great Detective” to Larry Talbot, most of the cast comes straight from traditional stories. Part of the fun of reading it for the first time is figuring out who is who.

And Snuff isn’t the only animal. Every Player has a familiar. These animals are just as much characters as the humans, which adds even more charm to the story. Oh, and no one knows who is on which side.

Although many dark things happen during the story, it’s fairly light in tone… occupying a middle ground between the Lovecraftian stories we looked at earlier this month, Eternal Darkness (darker than dark) and Cthulhu Saves the World (outright comedy).

A Night in the Lonesome October is an enjoyable and mysterious story, all the more so due to its cast and themes. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. If you want to read something that’s a little bit spooky and all-around fun, look this one up and enjoy your night in the lonesome October.

Buy A Night in the Lonesome October from Amazon

Remember, today is your last chance to win copies of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World! Read the guidelines here for more details.

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Oct 282016

kingdom-hearts-2-8-aquaYesterday was a huge day for Kingdom Hearts news.

Let’s start with something minor: this winter, Sora will be added to World of Final Fantasy as a free limited-time DLC Champion.

I’ve been enjoying World of Final Fantasy, and I’m curious if this means they’ll add other characters as time goes on. (Champions are essentially summons.)

Next, in a shocking announcement many people thought would never come, the Kingdom Hearts compilations are coming to the PlayStation 4! Kingdom Hearts 1.5 & 2.5 will be available on March 9th in Japan, March 28th in North America, and March 31st 2017 in Europe. You can already pre-order it from Amazon.

If you’re unfamiliar with the remixes, this collection contains:

  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD cutscenes only)
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD cutscenes only)

In other words, this is the definitive way to catch up on the series aside from the content included in Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. If you’re unsure of the correct order to play the Kingdom Hearts games, I’ve written a guide.

And speaking of which, Square Enix also released the opening movie of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2, part of the upcoming 2.8 collection. It’s truly epic.

Finally, two new Kingdom Hearts 3 screenshots were revealed. They show Olympus and Sora using new Drive Forms, which confirms that Drive Forms will return.

Are you excited for Kingdom Hearts 2.8 and Kingdom Hearts 3? What do you think about the full collection finally being available on the PS4? Let me know your thoughts on yesterday’s Kingdom Hearts news and the awesome opening movie in the comments.

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Oct 262016

suikodenFor many years, I heard people recommend the classic JRPG Suikoden. It eventually became available on PSN, which is good, since physical copies are rare and expensive now.

Going into it, all I really knew about Suikoden is that you can recruit a lot of characters. 108 of them, in fact. This is both what I liked the most about the game and what I liked the least.

I liked it the most because at a certain point, you get a base and can begin to recruit characters. It’s always exciting to talk to an NPC and realize you can recruit them, either immediately or after fulfilling specific criteria.

For example, one character wouldn’t join until I reached a high enough level. Another needed me to have a certain character in my party first.

By the end of the game, I was only missing a handful of characters, so I used a guide to find the remaining handful, some of whom were a bit tricky to get. (The guide also told me when the last chance to recruit people was, since the game doesn’t make it clear.) Getting all 108 characters earns you the best ending.

Not all of these characters are useful in combat. Some add new features to your base instead. By the end, my base had shopkeepers, its own inn (and save point), a guy painting a mural of the heroes, a teleportation system that effectively allows for fast travel, and more!

I loved returning after recruiting a bunch of people to see how my based had changed.

Screenshot borrowed from the Internet since I can't take screenshots of this game.

Screenshot borrowed from the Internet since I can’t take screenshots of this game.

So then, what made it something I liked the least? Just like with another RPG I played this year, Xenoblade Chronicles X, the sheer number of characters gets in the way of character development.

At the start of the game, I grew fond of the small starting cast. Then I met more characters. And more. And more. I slowly stopped caring about them as much. It isn’t possible for a game to give 108 characters meaningful screen time in 20-30 hours.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. It had a more grounded story than a lot of JRPGs, with a focus on overthrowing an empire rather than saving the world (despite magic playing an important role), which I think also would have benefited from more character development.

Gameplay-wise, it’s a traditional turn-based RPG. You can have six party members in battle at a time, three in the front row (short and medium-range attacks) and three in the back row (medium and long-range attacks). Interestingly, you don’t equip new weapons. Each character has a weapon you can upgrade by visiting a blacksmith. Magic and other special abilities are handled through runes you can attach to each character.

There are also large-scale battles between armies and special one-on-one duels, although both of these come down largely to a rock-paper-scissors style of countering attacks. Characters can die permanently in these battles if you aren’t careful.

Overall, I enjoyed Suikoden. It isn’t a new favorite, but it’s a classic and I’m happy I tried it. I look forward to playing Suikoden II, which many people praise as one of the greatest JRPGs of all.

Have you played Suikoden? What did you think of it?

Buy Suikoden from PSN

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