Arkham Origins #6: A Bane in the Butt

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 11, 2022

Filed under: Streaming 50 comments

And so we come to the end of this series. Scroll down for some final thoughts, and a poll regarding what game we’ll cover next.

I complain a lot about how Batman behaves in these games. From Arkham City onward, he seems to be clumsy, violent, reactive, stubborn, and generally bad at working with his teammates.

People often stick up for the games like so:
Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Arkham Origins #6: A Bane in the Butt”



A Travelog of Ivalice: Introduction

By The Rocketeer Posted Friday Jan 7, 2022

Filed under: FFXII 91 comments

If I had to describe Final Fantasy XII in two words, I would pick “fascinatingly flawed.” The game is like a junk sculpture: a grand amalgam of pieces that, individually, are often nothing special, and are often, well, junk. But sometimes, in the right light, from the right angle, these parts form a whole that pushes back all of your expectations, and, for a moment, appears to take a new form, alien and intriguing, moving as though alive. And in that next moment, a hunk shudders and falls away, and the illusion is broken again. I’d be very hesitant to call it a great game, and at times I’d balk at calling it a good game. But nonetheless, I found myself circling it, time and again, stalking that one special angle, hoping to get one more glimpse of a mystique I was certain it hid.

Then a character would open their stupid damn mouth, and the spell was shattered with my controller.

Around a year ago, I got the chance to play through a real oddity: the final, updated version of Final Fantasy XII, verbosely entitled the “International Zodiac Job System.” I was curious about the mechanical, gameplay-oriented changes, but in the back of my head, I think I’d decided I wanted to play the game one last time, and get it out of my system once and for all. This was a real pull for me; I’d played the game two or three times already, and not in a dabbling, skittish fashion. FFXII, as I’ll be abbreviating it from here on, is not a short, small game, and I had multiple times pressed it headfirst into my mouth and kept pushing its flailing mass until nothing remained of it. This, despite finding the game often infuriating, blatantly flawed in several easily— and widely— observed facets, and, by this time, offering extraordinarily little I wasn’t, by now, well familiar with. Little, but not nothing.

In embarking on my last great odyssey of mist and magicite, the imperial and the empyreal, I set out to record and, with luck, pin down, if even for a moment, this ephemeral but inexorable pull the game seemed to have had on me. In fits and starts, whenever I played the game, I jotted down my impressions of it, assuring myself that when I was done, I’d be left with a concise distillation of all my sophisticated impressions of a bizarre, many-splendored game of our yesteryear. Looking back on the final product, so many months after first embarking upon it, I am struck by what I see:

I have created absolutely nothing of value in this respect.

So I said in 2014.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “A Travelog of Ivalice: Introduction”



FF12 Sightseeing Tour: Introduction

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jan 5, 2022

Filed under: Retrospectives 99 comments

You might remember that back in 2016, I did a retrospective on Final Fantasy X. You might also remember that during that series, The Rocketeer showed up in the comments, throwing down these huge walls of text that basically ran circles around my analysis. On one hand, it’s sort of embarrassing to have a member of the audience upstage you like this. On the other hand, I loved his analysis and always looked forward to his comments. I even went back to the series years later, just so I could re-read his posts.

What I didn’t know at the time was that he’d already done a full retrospective on Final Fantasy XII, which he posted to the Escapist forums way back in 2014. Then he re-posted that series to my own forums here on forums broke ages ago. Fixing them has been on my to-do list for a long time now. You know how it is with maintenance. People sent me links to it saying, “Hey Shamus, did you see this thing? You’d really dig it.” But I get a lot of messages like those, so I missed it again.

Then earlier this year I played through FFXII again. People once again sent me links to Rocketeer’s series, and I finally took notice.

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “FF12 Sightseeing Tour: Introduction”



Arkham Origins #5: Morgue-an Donor!

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 4, 2022

Filed under: Streaming 21 comments

Happy New Year! If you’ve been meaning to watch the Batman streams that Chris and I have been doing, then tonight is your last chance. We’re going to finish the game tonight on his Twitch channel. That show begins at 8pm Eastern.

Here is the VOD from last week:

Chris has been in the driver’s seat the whole time, and here are his thoughts on the combat:

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Arkham Origins #5: Morgue-an Donor!”



Dénouement 2021 Part 4: The Best Stuff

By Shamus Posted Thursday Dec 30, 2021

Filed under: Industry Events 107 comments

And here they are, my top 3 games from 2021. Keep in mind that the usual disclaimer applies: I’m just one guy, I mostly play PC games with an occasional flirtation with Playstation, and I’m an old man. 

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Dénouement 2021 Part 4: The Best Stuff”



Arkham Origins #4: Grate Move!

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 28, 2021

Filed under: Streaming 36 comments

Thanks to everyone who stopped in for the stream. I’m really enjoying these. We’ll be streaming again tonight at 7pm Eastern (click here for local time) on the RamblePak64 channel. I hope you’ll drop in and join the fun.

And here is the VOD from last week:

For the record, I played through this section this week. And sure enough, the entire Harley Quinn sequence is there.Fun fact: According to Steam I last played the game on Dec 15, 2015. This playthrough started on Dec 17 2021. Like Chris, I have no memory of this section, but I must have played through it back in 2015 and then flushed it down the memory hole. It’s interesting that we both forgot this part.

Also, I guess Blackgate Prison keeps a psychoanalyst on call at all times, even at 2AM on Christmas Eve, just in case any nutters get dropped off and we decide to analyze them in the middle of the night for fun?

And I also guess that Harley Quinn wasn’t slowly turned by the joker after months of manipulation. Apparently she fell for him during a ten minute conversation? Okay then.

And while we’re bitching and moaning about things: This Bane fight SUCKS. Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Arkham Origins #4: Grate Move!”



Dénouement 2021 Part 3: The Good Stuff

By Shamus Posted Monday Dec 27, 2021

Filed under: Industry Events 76 comments

Like I’ve belabored already, I didn’t get to play a lot of stuff this year. My general impression is that this year is a lot like 2014, which was a generally “meh” year that didn’t have a lot of standout titles. Or maybe there were some great games and I missed them because I was distracted. Or maybe the games I played were great, but I couldn’t really get into them because I wasn’t feeling my best. 

Ugh. Enough introspection. Whatever. I didn’t get excited about a lot of games in 2021, but I did manage to have a good time with a few. Here are the first four:

Continue reading ⟩⟩ “Dénouement 2021 Part 3: The Good Stuff”