Thursday, July 19, 2012

Everything must come to an end...

Hey fellas,

it's been a while since I last posted, so I think what I have to announce today won't come as a surprise to anybody...

I work in a professional field that alternates long periods of time where you have nothing much to do except gaming and blogging, and long periods of time where you just can't take your breath back considering the gigantic amount of work that falls onto your shoulders.

I'm currently working on the next Christophe Gans' movie (Silent Hill director, how ironic) for about three weeks now. I honestly tried to keep the blog updated. I've tried twice to boot Soul Reaver again, and I was constantly getting confused at what to do and where to go. This is not a game that takes too kindly of players that don't come back regularly. It's too much complex and you can't really stop for a long time without being completely lost.

Of course, I'm delighted to work with this director. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the money is good too, considering I was unemployed a bit too long. But the movie going on till april 2013, I won't ask you guys to wait... I know how flickering a blog audience can be, especially considering I didn't work long enough to get a lot of followers.

Hence, I'm quitting. The fettuc leaves for now.

There is always the possibility that the movie doesn't come to its end or simply for me to get fired (for example, for writing this post during business hours ;). Maybe I'll then be motivated to come back to the world of Raziel (or Hyrule, or Raccoon City...) and write about it, but considering it could be in a few months, I don't want the blog to be idle for this period of time.

I would like to thank all of you readers and commenters, especially Chet, Trick and Zenic who gave me the impulse to start blogging, and everybody else who supported me during this (too) brief period.

I'll try to read and comment on the other blogs of the community, so maybe we'll meet again.

Keep on playing!

See you soon.

Clement a.k.a Alfred n the Fettuc

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Hi guys,

first of all, I wanted to apologize from the title of this post, but I guess it can't hurt to have a few more people looking around the blog, even if it's for the wrong reasons ;)

And if you have some spare time, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Cracked because it's the funniest website ever.
So, why boobs, you may ask? Because of the choice of the next franchise this blog will tackle! And a warm applause to... Lara Croft!

This choice comes a bit as a surprise for me, because I confess I was expecting to see some kind of close tie-in between Metroid and Metal Gear. Metroid made indeed a nice score, with 5 votes among 23, but Snake didn't get any vote. At all! Well, I'm guessing Lara's dreamy assets and nice adventure setting was more appealing than Snake's Modern Cold War universe. So Lara took the lead with almost half the votes (10 among 23), while the rest of the franchises shared the rest of the votes, with 2 votes for Silent Hill / Dizzy / Jak and Daxter, and only 1 vote for Mario RPGs and Wonder Boy.

Here is the rundown of the titles for the Tomb Raider series :


D1 - Tomb Raider 1996 PSX
D2 - Tomb Raider II 1997 PSX
D3 - Tomb Raider III 1998 PSX
D4 - Tomb Raider : The Last Revelation 1999 PSX
D5 - Tomb Raider 2000 GBC
D6 - Tomb Raider Chronicles 2000 PSX
D7 - Tomb Raider : Curse of the Sword 2001 GBC
D8 - Tomb Raider : The Prophecy 2002 GBA
D9 - Tomb Raider : The Angel of Darkness 2003 PS2
D10 - Tomb Raider : Legend 2006 PS2
D11 - Tomb Raider : Anniversary 2007 PS2
D12 - Tomb Raider : Underworld 2008 PS3
D13 - Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light 2010 PS3
D14 - Tomb Raider 2012 PS3

So that's another series with 14 games in it... We're in for the long run, my friends...

Then again, I can imagine worse company...

The other poll was what I'd call a zombie success. Almost everyone of the voters went for keeping the Resident Evil series a part of this blog. I'm very happy about this result, because I was worried my first choice of franchise might have been a bad one. I'm happy to see a lot of you guys wanting to keep this franchise among us. Guess I'll be back to killing zombies soon! 

Concerning the work at hand, it will be again a few days before I can reinstall my TV set and my PS3, and go back into the dark world of the Legacy of Kain. I'll go for the third game in each of the existent franchises before trying to play the first Tomb Raider, because I think no one want to make A Link to the Past wait more than it should do. You can see the new list of games in the master game list somewhere in the northeastern region of the blog.

See you very soon!

Keep you posted.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Moving and Working

Hi guys!

Just a quick update today to tell you I'm moving from my apartment tomorrow and my PS3 is buried underneath a lot of things, including my TV set. So I won't be able to post for a while, considering I'll be working for about two weeks just afterwards far from my beloved PS3 and TV set...

I promise I'll be back to playing and blogging as soon as possible!

See you very soon.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Game C2 : Soul Reaver - Dazed and Confused

Time played : 3h

Well, the Legacy of Kain series sure hold its share of surprises! Soul Reaver is another weird game, but another fascinating one as well, even if, as its older sibling, it's crippled with defaults making one wonders once again what it could have been.

But first things first : the story. It builds up on Blood Omen's story in an interesting way. Instead of witnessing Kain's rise to power, the game takes place a long time after the first one, showing Kain as a twisted god-like vampire, who has taken over Nosgoth and reigns from the remains of the Pillars. The first cinematic of the game introduces Raziel, his first lieutenant and protagonist of the game.

Kain sure has aged since the first game. He looks like an even nicer fellow...

Kain and his six lieutenant have total power over the world and just wait for their powers to grow and gain new abilities every now and then (which is apparently what vampires do). However, this little family won't be united for long because Raziel suddenly has wings sprouting out of his back. These little mutations don't seem to be surprising for his friends. The only problem is that, usually, Kain develops these mutations before his sons. Seeing Raziel getting a new power before him kind of bothers him, and he shows it by tearing his wings apart and throwing Raziel into a neverending abyss.

The game then starts a few hundred years later, where Raziel awakens to consciousness once again, in a twisted form, apparently resurrected by an unknown power. The new Raziel has a an emaciated figure, lacks the bottom of his jaw and has moth-like wing remains dropping from his back. Even with all that, he manages to be one of the classiest character in video game memory.

You *might* want to change sidewalks if you run into him at night, though.
And he is out for vengeance! So, with that out of the way, what does the game itself look like? As I've mentioned before, the whole presentation looks like a Tomb Raider ripoff. It's a third-person action game, with an emphasis on exploration. You wander around dark corridors of Nosgoth, now apparently almost entirely underground (for now) and try to figure out where to go next. The battle system in itself is quite interesting. At first, and before gaining access to the very classy Soul Reaver, Raziel has only his claws to fight, quite clumsily I might add. Where it becomes interesting is that the majority of the enemies are vampires (or affiliated) and cannot be killed by just mashing their heads with fists. Once you've hit the foe a few times, it becomes dazed. You have to grab them and throw them into fire, water, sunlight or ram them into spikes in order to really kill them. The soul of the foe then starts to fly away and you have to quickly "drink" it to avoid it to reintegrate the body.

This is a nice change with more basic battle systems, because you have to constantly observe your surroundings, in order to find where to send your enemies ad patres. You can also grab a lot of weapons and decorations from the walls to make for an improvised spear with which you can pierce their bodies, making dispatching them easier. Once you gain the Soul Reaver, though, which happens around two hours into the game, combat is much easier because you can impale your foes really quickly. However, get hit once and the blade is gone, leaving you with your fists and back to the pick them/throw them into fire motto until you've recovered full health.

One vampire shish-kabob, one!

The other major twist behind Soul Reaver is that you progress between the physical realm and the spirit realm. When you're in the physical realm, you lose health constantly (except when you still yield the Soul Reaver) and battles are harder. Get killed into the physical realm (or fall in water) and you're back in the spirit realm. The trick is that you can't interact with anything when you're in the spirit realm, and you have to find a spawn point (thankfully pretty numerous) in order to regain your physical body. You can also voluntarily abandon your body, which is quite useful considering a few different paths can only be taken while in the spirit form.

And a few different paths there are. That's where my major problem with Soul Reaver lies : This game is confusing. And I mean really confusing. First of all, all the places kinda look the same. A few spots like a cemetery or the entrance to a cathedral stand apart but otherwise, it's difficult to be sure what your entry point was when you've just finished fighting in a room. Every once in a while, you unlock a teleporter (much like in the first game) that allows you to go instantly from one place to another, but they use a symbol system which is confusing as well. You better have quite a memory to remember what symbol refers to what place. Add to this that the path you're supposed to take is never clearly defined, nor is your current objective. Of course, no map, as it would be too easy.

I don't remember if this leads to underground random place #1, or to underground random place #2....
Sometimes, it's fun to search all around the place to find the next path, but when you arrive at the end of what was obvious (and obvious is a strong term for this game), you usually can't remember where to go next, and the cryptic clues at your disposal are not what I'd call helpful. For example, my last achievement was to defeat Kain (who will obviously come back soon) and get the Soul Reaver. Then my "invisible mentor" tells me to go east to find my next battle, and that the blade should allow me to reach places I haven't found yet. First of all, I don't know where east is (no map and no compass), and the blade don't seem to unlock anything (except new ways to eviscerate enemies). I've been running around since, trying to find something I overlooked.

Add to this the fact that the mandatory path is sometimes as hard to find as a secret path in a "classic" game (involving complicated combinations of pushing blocks or stacking them in order to gain access to a high corridor you can't really see if you're not thorough in your investigation) and you have a confusing game, for sure. I usually have no problem directing myself in a 3D world (I've finished Descent and Descent 2, damnit!) but this one is really challenging...

You sometimes feel like in a Dali landscape.

But, of course, I'll stick to this one! So far, I've beaten one of my brothers, and had the upper hand on Kain for the first time, allowing me the power to walk through grids (T-1000 style) and to use the Soul Reaver. The sub menu shows that there is at least four other powers to unlock, probably giving me new possibilities for exploring, so I'm eager to see what the game is still hiding from me. This is a really intriguing game (much like its older brother), but it sure is a tough nut to crack!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Game C2 : Soul Reaver - Introduction

Usually, in the videogame industry (or in any industry for that matter), when two companies ally to create an Intellectual property, and that it becomes successful, it's not long before they throw at each other's throats in order to gain full control over said IP. It's exactly what happened about The Legacy of Kain. The first game was created by Silicon Knights (who would later create Eternal Darkness or the Metal Gear Solid Remake, Twin Snakes, for the Gamecube) and published by Crystal Dynamics (makers of Gex, Pandemonium and all the last Tomb Raider games). After a chaotic release, Blood Omen proved to be quite successful, and the two companies started a battle to see who would keep the rights. What happened next is usually what happens in this situation : the big one won. Crystal Dynamics would retain the rights to the Legacy of Kain franchise, as long as they let the "Legacy of Kain created by Silicon Knights" line in subsequent games of the series.

Pictured : Crystal Dynamics CEO about to seal the deal.

Silicon Knights scrapped their own sequel to Blood Omen, who was supposed to evolve directly from the first game appearance, and Crystal Dynamics then worked on their own sequel, Soul Reaver, where Kain was supposed to be the bad guy, and where the hero was Raziel, one of Kain's lieutenants, seeking revenge from his former master. The whole top-down view was scrapped as well, going for a full-3D Tomb Raider lookalike, with fangs instead of boobs. It would be released on Playstation and Windows in 1999, then ported to Dreamcast in 2000.

So it's funny the developers chose to give the life bar the form of the Dreamcast logo.

The development of this game was chaotic as well, and it meant the last parts of the game have been cut short due to delays. This would not refrain the game from being insanely successful, appearing in a lot of "Best Playstation games of all time" lists, and selling a lot of copies. The success to the game was supposedly helped by the release of a lot of horror-themed movies around the same time, namely The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project or The Mummy. Crystal Dynamics put a lot of money in advertising campaigns as well, and the game had its own comic tie-in. 

So it's time to go back to the grim lands of Nosgoth. I'm really excited about this one, because it's the first game of my list that I have never played before. I just hope I won't experience the same problems I had with Legacy of Kain. If I do have another problem with the PSN version, I swear to all that is sacred that I won't ever buy another Playstation Classic on the PSN. I sure hope this one works correctly! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game B2 : The Adventure of Link - Final Rating

It's time to grade my experience through The Adventure of Link and establish once and for all if this installment is indeed Zelda's black sheep (or at least, tell my opinion about it ;)

Once again, I'd like to tell that I haven't read any of Zenic's posts about the game, and I don't remember how he graded it. I'll look at his review of the game afterwards. Should be interesting to see if we agree or disagree on this one.

First, the MAMA for this game goes to : The Blue Iron Knuckle!

Heavy armored MAMA
The MAMA for this game had a lot of contenders. The Deathhawks are really annoying too and hard to hit. The flying eyes (especially the ones that are invisible at first) are a pain and I had quite a hard time with the flail-throwing monsters. However, the Blue Iron Knuckle is the more common one. He hits hard, has jedi-reflexes for parrying your attacks, throw a furry of swords at you and takes quite a lot of hits to go down (even when you're fully powered up). Worst of all : they give only 150 experience points, which is the same as a lot of much more easy foes, and appears pretty soon in the game, when you're far from prepared to see this kind of bad guys. So he wins the cup.

Let's go for the ratings :

P for Pleasure/Enjoyment
I sure had a good time through this adventure of Link. As I've said before, the combat system is highly enjoyable and the overworld is huge. The sense of adventure is definitely there and you have this feeling of tackling a huge quest, one palace at a time. However, and that's a pretty big however, the endgame is infuriating. Once you gain access to the second continent, you die often, progress slowly, and you can easily get stuck for a long time on a few subquests or mandatory hidden items. The game is good, and I appreciate the fact it does not take you by the hand, but losing hours because you can't find a Magic container or just because you have to start all over again after being pushed in a lava pit by an unavoidable flying skull is NOT fun. The gaming pleasure is quite lowered by these defaults. I'll go with the middle ground here.
Rating : 5

For example, here, whatever my skills are, I'm gonna get hit by something in one second.

I for Intelligence
Here is another area where Link alternatively shines and fumbles. Exploring the overworld is great, and the inclusion of the subquests adds nicely to the variety. However, the player is not really often required to use his brains to solve them. A lot of the subquests are simply resolved by walking into a cavern, taking down foes and retrieving the trophy/elixir/kidnapped child. The mirror quest is a cheap one and don't get me started on the waterboy quest. When you put the game back in the context, though, it holds quite a few nice ideas for a 1988 adventure. The big black spot here is the dungeons. They are dull and repetitive, and mostly require you to dispatch enemies and try not to get lost. The alternative paths in them are much too rare and don't really require an effort from the player until the sixth or seventh palace. I said enough about the mandatory hidden items to find, and the XP system is a nice idea but doesn't really change a lot of the overall experience. I'll go with the middle ground here too, considering I would have given a 7 for the overworld and a 3 for the dungeons.
Rating : 5

Yay, a kid! Come on, get in the bag, with the rest of my stuff.
C for Controls/Inventory
Controls are slick and responsive, and the battle system is a joy. You really feel in control of your movements and besting a difficult foe is always great, especially since so many of them have access to a lot of your moves, making a lot of battles feel like duels. Inventory use is almost nonexistent, which is weird for a Zelda game. You can use the hammer and the flute on the overworld, but all the other items are used automatically. The magic system adds variety to the mix, but relies on the overuse of Shield and Life spells for the majority of the game, asking you to cast the other ones at some points in order to progress. The occasional misstep of letting an enemy push you in a lava pit can almost always be avoided and the overall feeling of the battle system is definitely one of the greatest feats of the game, so it's a pretty good grade here.
Rating : 7

Shame the Fairy spell never made it to another game of the series...

A for Appeal
The graphics of the game are crisp and colorful, and the size of the sprites is a nice accomplishment for the NES firepower. They don't feel as stable as the first Legend of Zelda, but it's mainly because of the fact that a lot of the action takes place on the same horizontal lines, and we know the NES doesn't like that. The bosses are not particularly imaginative and the overall art style didn't strike me as much as the first game's, though. Much of the enemies/bosses are humanoid creatures and I kinda miss the dodongos or Digdogger. The music is good but not as catchy as the Legend of Zelda overworld and dungeon themes... Nothing much to say here, but thanks to Nintendo's magic, it's still a clear step ahead the majority of contemporary NES games anyway.
Rating : 6

The floating horse is kinda classy, though.

S for Storytelling
The story itself is nothing special. It's still "go in a number of places, battle guardians, get treasures and vanquish evil". Granted, you have to put crystals into place instead of retrieving things, but otherwise, it's the same recipe as ever. However, where this game is a huge improvement over the first one is that Hyrule feels a much more lively place. The towns are nice to explore and talking to people is an interesting touch. One great thing is the difference of ambiance between the first and second continent. The people seem to live in a time of peace on the first continent, even if the monsters are an issue, while the people on the second continent seem much more desperate, asking Like to save Hyrule. The reduced size of dialog boxes and occasional translation missteps drag the whole thing down, and all the towns look like the other ones, with a few exceptions. Nice step in the right direction, though.
Rating : 4

I understand, invisible monsters can be a pain for the neighborhood... 

O for Optional Stuff
Well, sorry guys, but nothing much to see around here. There are four heart containers and four magic containers, and only the hearts can be considered optional, because you need magic to go on (I rambled about that quite a lot). They are not often hidden in obvious places too, asking you to search every tile instead of sending you on optional paths in order to find them. I guess getting the Shield and Life spell is not mandatory, but I think that trying to complete the game without them is the video game equivalent of repeatedly smashing your fingers with a hammer. No second quest this time neither, even if you can go for a "New game +" after finishing the game, restarting all over again while keeping your experience levels, but I'm not sure this is worth it. We're really far from the first game in this category.
Rating : 2

You sometimes tumble upon XP bags or lives, but that's about it...


For its second outing, the Picaso rating pleases me and the grade is coherent with my vision of the game. It's still a good game, but we're far from the first one (and miles from A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time). Should the endgame be less irritating, I would probably have gone with a few extra points, but I'm comfortable with this rating. Now I'll allow myself to go look at Zenic's review again, and see how he rated this one.

But now I'm pretty excited to play through the next game on my list. I've never played Soul Reaver and it's supposed to be a really good game. It's time to go back to vampires and gothic worlds!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Game B2 : Adventure of Link - Won!

Time played : 3h30 (9h total) -- "Return of Ganon" screens : 14 (28 total)

Ending screens are as verbose as ever...

Wow. This game was HARD. I mean hard hard. The game is enjoyably hard until the last palace, but it becomes nightmarishly hard around there. But first things first, how did I manage to get out of my stuck situation? 

Well, out of sheer luck, really. I went back to exploring most of Hyrule, hoping I would have missed something obvious. I went through Death Mountain labyrinth again, I explored all the marshes and forests I could find, and I even returned to most of the caves I ran into, hoping that I would find the elusive last magic container. Finally, I went back to the Island Labyrinth (where I found the missing child) and fell down a hole I managed to avoid the first time, once again in a tile that looks like all the other ones.

Somewhere around here...

Turns out the last magic container was down this hole, allowing me to gain access to the old woman's house in New Kasuto, then to the old sage's magic, and to the remaining of the game. Let me get this straight : I love exploring games and I think finding the elusive hidden heart piece or item is really part of the Zelda charm, but the problem here is that it's mandatory. There is no way to finish the game if you don't find this hidden item! Or if you don't find the tree to break with the hammer. Or if you miss the mirror under the table. Zelda II has a few places like this where you can lose two hours searching for an item needed to go on with your adventure. I didn't remember losing that much time with this magic container in my last playthroughs, so I think it means I fell down this hole every time until then. I'm all for viciously hidden items, but not if you HAVE to find them in order to complete the game. Granted, games nowadays have the opposite tendency to hold your hand too much, but I think there is a middle ground to be found here...

So the old woman in New Kasuto gave me the very last magic container, and the sage gave me the "Spell" magic. They told me there was a secret at the edge of town. I noticed earlier that the far right of New Kasuto was a seemingly empty space, bound to hide a secret of some sort, so I went back there and cast the "Spell" spell. A house appeared out of nowhere and I found the Magic key in it. I think it's the only place in the game where this spell is useful, but I may be wrong. With the Magic key in hand, I could then finally make progress in the sixth palace. This one is a little more interesting to explore, considering you have to find a few hidden ways to progress. There is a endless pit in the middle of the place, giving you access to a few floors, and you even have to turn into a fairy during your fall to be able to enter in the right tunnel. 

Suits well the pink color of the place...

The battles are harsh too around here, and you can find two places where you have to battle once again the horse-riding iron knuckle, going back to the Zelda tradition of mini-bosses (which was in the first game, but absent from this one until now). The treasure of the palace is the Cross, which allows you to see invisible enemies (so it means we'll finally be able to enter the western path without getting our arses kicked in a few seconds). The boss is a dragon and is a tough one too (as Chalgyr told in his first comment about this game). The difficulty of this battle comes from the fact that you have to avoid falling down the lava pits every time you get hit, and it can prove tricky doing so while trying to hit the reptile's head.

Hey, it's Hydra from Kid Icarus! Where are my angel minions?

With the beast down, I now have access to the last palace. I first made a stop at Old Kasuto in order to gain the last magic, "Thunder", which kills everyone on screen, but is really expensive (around 2/3 of your fully-upgraded magic meter). Then it's time to tackle the path to the Great Palace. The path is tough as nails as every enemy encounter takes place in areas full of lava pits and it's all too easy to lose lives around here (as you've seen at the beginning of the post, I did lose a few times...). Don't forget that when you lose your three lives, it's back to Hyrule castle for you, so this path can be really bothersome if you're not overly cautious, because losing your three lives can mean easily ten minutes of play in order to come back where you lost.

Ok guys, think! How will you get my blood to resurrect your boss if you throw me in a lava pit?
I finally was able to get in the Great Palace, which is a HUGE place. It's easily two or three times bigger than the sixth one. Once again, you need to keep track of your progress on paper, and the layout is pretty confusing as well. Here too you need to search for hidden paths every now and then, and I have to admit it's a pretty interesting place, with a great sense of accomplishment when you find a new way to explore. Thankfully, Nintendo's sadism was a bit reduced here, because when you die, you only come back at the beginning of the Palace (and it's a good thing too, because I think it would really have killed the game not to). A lot of new enemies are here to ensure you'll die a lot too, the worse being the Deathhawks, who combine the jump of the skeletons with the attack pattern of Iron Knuckles, making them really difficult foes.

Even the slimes are harder to kill around here!

After spending a long time in this place, I finally found my way to the last guardian. It's a huge Inca-bird lookalike, called Thunderbird. At first, he seems impervious to all your attacks. The only way to beat him is to first cast the "Thunder" spell (hoping you still have enough magic to cast it once you arrive here), then go for the head (harder than usual considering this one flies) while avoiding the fire rain he throws at you. This boss is really hard, but it's all about figuring out the pattern and exploiting it. Nothing compared to the next boss. Yeah. Because there is a next boss. Once you've beaten Thunderbird, you enter the last room of the Palace, where some kind of weird gnome guy is waiting, holding the Triforce (Zelda Wiki refers to him as the Triforce Keeper, so it seems he's just been waiting here for years for the hero to come).

This guy.
Once Link enters the chamber, the creepy guy withdraws in the darkness and Link's shadow jumps out of Link's body for the last battle. And this one is hard. Really. In my opinion, it's Ninja Gaiden's hard (just between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battletoads on the NES difficulty scale). I fought this guy four or five times before being able to just hit him. Maybe there is a clever way to beat him, but I just found myself mashing the attack button while trying desperately to block his lightning-fast attacks. But I did it! I think it's the first time ever I'm able to best him and it's really a huge accomplishment for me! It made me remember the battle against the shadow in Prince of Persia, except this one was cleverer in the fact that in order to beat him, you were supposed to sheathe your sword and connect with your shadow (I guess as a final showdown, it would have been anticlimactic).

I think the worst thing about this guy is the color of the background during the battle.
Once Dark Link is (finally) down, the Triforce Keeper comes back and gives Link the No3 Triforce (ok, we'll call it Triforce of Courage), which he uses to awaken Zelda from her slumber and... what? Did he kiss her? Link... and Zelda? Wow. Ok, it happens behind the almost closed curtain, but the move of their feet can only means that they kiss. My god. It would be like witnessing Mario humping Peach. All my childhood innocence has just gone down the drain.

And considering Zelda's been asleep for a hundred years and Link is 16, this seems kinda wrong.

This is the end! I vanquished Zelda II! I'm quite proud of myself for this one! This is definitely one hard game and it's great to be able to move on in the Zelda history with a spotless record for once! So it's time to put on a Final Rating for this one and go for another game I've never played before!

What did you expect? Another quest? You thought it was Zelda I?