the walking writer

I missed FF13 when it originally came out as I didn’t have a console that could play it. Just before the start of summer, however, I significantly upgraded my computer and made the game my first purchase to try out on my new desktop’s gaming capabilities. After the disappointment I had with FF12, I wasn’t too sure what to expect with FF13, and I had heard a number of critical comments about the game over the years. Unfortunately, I now agree with most of the criticism, especially:

The Linearity of the Game

FF13 is a very linear game; in fact, some have referred to it as a hallway simulator. Most of the game is spent running through hallways, just to get to point X and fighting tons of monsters along the way. There are no towns with NPCs to chat to or stores to visit for goods; you always have access to the shops through the save points. Some fans of FF13 point out that FF10 was solidly linear as well. This is true, but the world of FF10 was populated and rich with interesting people, beautiful backdrops and actual towns to visit. In FF10, your path makes sense: You’re helping Yuna on her pilgrimage that has a set list of destinations. In FF13, there were plenty of chances to go off exploring, but you were never allowed to do so.

Unappealing Characters

Every Final Fantasy game has at least one character players don’t like, but I struggle to really identify one character I do like in FF13. Lightning is probably the closest, although she is quite similar to Cloud from FF7. Vanille fulfills the Rikku-type role, but even Rikku was more likable than Vanille. Hope is fairly annoying early on, but he do improve eventually. The others are just sort of there, and they didn’t really make much of an impression on me.

Open-World Boredom

When you’ve finished most of FF13, you are finally shipped off to an open world. When I made it to that point, I was hopeful. Although this open zone is nice enough to look at and has some interesting creatures, there’s really not much to do except undertake some “Kill X” type quests. This was a good spot for there to be more to the game, but it was lacking.

The Frustrating Battle System

The battle system is frustrating to me. I don’t expect every Final Fantasy to use the exact same battle system; innovation is a good thing. But I couldn’t stand the system in this game. I absolutely detest not having control over my characters. I don’t like crossing my fingers and hoping that Vanille manages to heal Lightning before she dies. I can handle controlling three characters just fine; it’s not that difficult. The paradigm shifting seemed cool in the first few dozen battles, but constantly switching around (and having to remake your paradigms after every single party change) was annoying.

Poor Storytelling

When I play a Final Fantasy game, I except a good story. Despite not being a big fan of FF12, I can still appreciate that it had an intricate and interesting storyline. FF13 doesn’t rank highly in that regard. The story starts off quite confusing for a very stupid reason: terms with very different meanings have very similar spelling, making them easy to confuse (l’Cie, Fal’Cie, etc). Many of the game’s cut scenes don’t really add much to the story and go on too long. Extra information is stashed away in the game’s datalog in the menu, which is very lazy way to explain the story.

FF13 did have two main features that helped, but unfortunately were not enough to save the game, namely the music and the graphics. The music is exceptional and memorable, including the main battle theme and my personal favorite, Sunleth Waterscape. I enjoy playing the music of FF13 in Theatrhythm on the 3DS. The graphics are also breathtakingly beautiful in FF13. As I was playing the game, I sometimes caught myself thinking about seeing an older Final Fantasy title, such as FF6, in a game as beautiful as FF13.

In the end, I just couldn’t force myself to finish FF13. When I was younger and the available video game selection was lacking, I played all my games until I was done. But now, with better games sitting in my backlog, I just can’t suffer through a bad game anymore.





Image via reddit

Image via reddit

Although I’ve been playing Nintendo games since I was a child, along with several siblings, not every member of my family was interested in games. It wasn’t until the release of the Wii that my entire family suddenly became a family of gamers. Many cold winter evenings were spent playing bowling in Wii Sports. At times, we treated it seriously, complete with bragging rights for the winner. Other nights we held challenges with the various exercise games in Wii Fit. Years later, the Wii is a treasured possession at my parent’s house, now becoming the source of hours of entertainment for the youngest members of my growing extended family.

All of this is thanks to Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo who sadly passed away over the weekend. His vision helped make the Wii one of the best consoles of all time and brought so many more people to gaming because of it. Clearly, he was a man who loved his job and wanted to bring joy to everyone.

I am forever thankful to him for the many wonderful memories my family created with a simple game console.





One of my favorite parts of the Sims community is the immense wealth of mods and custom content to keep your game fresh and alive. Unlike in The Sims 3, the mods I use for The Sims 4 mostly add fun things to the game, instead of fixing lag and errors. Here is a sampling of my favorite mods so far:

Door Locks
Door locks are a useful feature in The Sims, and were always included in the previous games. For whatever reason, The Sims 4 has no locking system. This missing feature is especially annoying after the release of the Get to Work expansion. Fortunately, a brilliant mod creator heard the cries of the players and gave us this excellent mod. Now you can keep wandering store visitors from using your employee’s break room.

My rebellious teenage Sim having fun at school.

My rebellious teenage Sim having fun at school.

Go to School
Although I haven’t used this mod too much, I am thoroughly impressed by this mod’s very existence. Basically, the author used the active career system from the Get to Work expansion to create active school days for kids and teens. With this mod, you can choose to follow your younger Sims to school and direct them to participate in a variety of activities, including socializing and skill building. This mod is definitely worth it if you want to have more to do with your young Sims.

No Mosaic
I’m adult, and I think mosaics on Barbie dolls look silly.

Friendlier Ask to Leave
I’m not sure why the game is coded to make Sims look angry or embarrassed when they ask someone to leave. This mod changes the animation played so that everyone is happier.

Crazy Career Outfit in The Sims 4

If you really want to, you can send your Sim to work looking like this.

Customizable Career Outfit
This mod’s goal is is simple: it lets you alter the outfit your Sim wears to work.

MC Command Center
One of the missed features from The Sims 3 is the game’s story progression. Essentially, story progression gave Sims you didn’t control their own lives; they got married, had kids, found jobs and more. The Sims 4 does not have this feature, probably in an effort to help the game run more smoothly on lower-end computers. Fortunately, this mod came along to offer some of the same features. The mod does a number of things to liven your town, such as having Sims in relationships have kids to help replenish your town’s population. The mod also adds some other features and has optional modules. One of my favorite features of the mod is the ability to edit a townie’s look without using cheats.

Renamed Emotions
This is a simple cosmetic fix for the game. Instead of seeing your Sim’s emotions as “very angry,” you’ll see “furious” and so on.

No More Same Sims Everywhere
Not long after creating a new Sim, I usually take them out to socialize with their fellow Sims. No matter where I go, I see the same townie Sims over and over again. Don Lothario, please go away! This mod forces the game to actually randomize the Sims you’ll see at any public location.

If you haven’t tried out any mods for your game, I highly give it a shot. Mods are easy to install and can really spice up your game.





Plotting Evil?

What is going on here?

Unfortunately, I usually forget to take screenshots while I’m playing The Sims 4. However, I did manage to grab this one. I wonder what exactly is going on in her mind. Is she plotting how she can use that fire to burn down a building? Why is her hot dog an unusual shade? So many mysteries.





Playing The Sims 4 has had two downsides:

1. I can’t imagine going back to The Sims 3.

There’s a lot I left unfinished in The Sims 3, including maxing out skills, doing all of the careers in the Ambitions expansion and collecting stuff in the open world. Since The Sims 3 is a complete game with a number of expansions, of course there’s more to do than in The Sims 4. But I just can’t part with the silky smooth performance of The Sims 4.

2. I can’t imagine going back to The Sims 2.

I only got the Sims 2 Ultimate Collection a couple of months ago on Origin. The Sims 2 was easily my favorite game during college. I played that game for hours and hours and that was without owning most of the expansions packs. With the Ultimate Collection, I can play the expansions I missed and enjoy a smoother performance on a more modern computer. However, I just can’t bring myself to play it after playing The Sims 4.

This isn’t something unique to The Sims; I’ve discovered I feel the same way about other video games. For example, Final Fantasy 7 is easily one of my favorite games of all time. When it was first released, I played through it several times. Although I still love the game, I don’t foresee playing it again anytime soon. I think there are two reasons for this:

1. There are so many other (new!) games to play.

Although I certainly enjoy revisiting old favorites, including books and movies, my brain yearns for new things from time to time. Thanks to Steam and similar services, new video games are just a click away. Compared to the early days of gaming, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the available choices. There’s only so many hours in the day; why spend it replaying a game you’ve played several times before?

2. The technology is old and out of date.

I’m not really much of a graphics or audio snob, but most old games show their age. Some classics, such as many of the early Super Nintendo games, have an endearing charm to them that has aged well. Other games, such as the previously mentioned Final Fantasy 7, show their age quite clearly when compared to modern games. I will admit that if Final Fantasy 7 were remade for a current console, I would jump at the chance to play it.

Thinking about this topic should encourage me to consider tossing some of my old games, but I’m not planning on it. I guess I’m just a bit too sentimental sometimes.





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