Tuesday, March 3

100 Games 2015

Most recent article: Brave Fencer Musashi

Here is a list of 100 games I will be playing over the next year.  It's... daunting, and not the kind of thing I've ever done before, but it's also very exciting.  I'm going to be posting about each one, giving a general impression, but mostly trying to find the most interesting aspect of the game and talk about that.  If you have suggestions for future games, please let me know, and if you like what you read here, or think I'm missing an important point, speak your mind in comments.  Thanks, and here we go.

1.           A Mind Forever Voyaging
2.           A Ride Home
3.           Ace Combat 5
4.           Assassin's Creed: Recollection
5.           Babies Dream of Dead Worlds
6.           Bars of Black and White
7.           Beneath a Steel Sky
8.           The Binding of Isaac
9.           Bloodborne
10.        Brave Fencer Musashi
11.        Bushido Blade
12.        Cabela's Big Game Hunting
13.        Candy Crush Saga
14.        The Castle Doctrine
16.        The Cat and the Coup
17.        Chrono Trigger
18.        Combat
19.        Crusader Kings II
20.        Curtain
21.        The Dark Meadow
22.        Day of the Tentacle
23.        Day Z
24.        Deus Ex
25.        Digital Devi Saga
26.        Dungeon Keeper
27.        Dwarf Fortress
28.        Echochrome
29.        El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
30.        End of Us
31.        Ether One
32.        E.V.O.: Search for Eden
33.        Exploit
34.        Fallen London
35.        Fallout 2
36.        Fate of the World
37.        Grim Fandango
38.        Half-Life 2
39.        Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
40.        Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing
41.        Jade Empire
42.        Jet Set Radio Future
43.        King's Field II
44.        Kingdom of Loathing
45.        Kirby Super Star
46.        Knights of the Old Republic
47.        League of Legends
48.        Legend of Grimrock
50.        Lone Survivor
51.        Machinarium
52.        Madden
53.        Mass Effect 3
54.        Monaco: What's Yours is Mine
55.        M.U.L.E.
56.        No One Has to Die
57.        Order and Chaos Duels
58.        Passage
59.        Planescape: Torment
60.        Populous: The Beginning
61.        Procrastination
62.        Quest for Glory
63.        Realm of the Mad God
64.        Rehearsals and Returns
65.        Resident Evil
66.        Risk of Rain
67.        Road Rage
68.        Secret of Mana
69.        Shadowrun
70.        Silent Conversation
71.        The Sims 3
72.        Skies of Arcadia Legends
73.        Song of Saya
74.        Spacechem
75.        Spacewar
76.        Starcraft
77.        Suikoden II
79.        Super Metroid
80.        The Swapper
81.        System Shock 2
82.        Thief II: Deadly Shadows
83.        This War of Mine
84.        To The Moon
85.        Transistor
86.        Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
87.        Ultima VII: The Black Gate
88.        Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
89.        Uplink
90.        Valiant Hearts: The Great War
91.        Walk or Die
92.        The Walking Dead: Season 2
93.        Way of the Samurai 3
94.        Wing Commander: Privateer
96.        Xenogears
97.        Xevious
98.        Yakuza 3
99.        Yoshi's Island
100.     Zork I: The Great Underground Empire

Brave Fencer Musashi: For Lack of Memory

I remember this game.  Or I thought I did.  I remember renting it from Blockbuster, and keeping my Playstation on all night because I didn't own a memory card.  I never got past the first boss.  I had no idea what I was doing.  But I remember it being epic, broad.  A mighty swordsman slicing his way through a swatch of soldiers and fire, finding a magical sword and battling great monsters.
I was... mistaken.  That tiny lens of nostalgia has come up a few times in this list already, such as with A Link to the Past.  All I remembered about that game was that magnificent opening screen.  A mystical golden triforce, a magical land, and a sacred blade of power and truth.
Brave Fencer Musashi is goofy.  As the Allucaneet Kingdom battles the Thirstquencher Empire, the mighty swordsman and little kid Musashi is summoned to defeat the Thirstquenchers, and hijinks ensue.  The game is honestly pretty funny, or at least the dialogue is.  Every character has a comedic tick of some kind (although it occasionally relies on sadly reductive stereotypes), which range from just strange to very funny.  The translation must have been quite the task, but it's one of the best in a time where it just wasn't that great.
But the game.  It's frustrating.  It's the Playstation doing everything it can to have a grand and varied story and environments, but it just doesn't succeed.  There are portions of the game I found profoundly frustrating, and the amount of complexity they add in the form of night-day cycles, day-specific events, and hunger and sleep stats.  It's one of those games that reminds me of the importance of manuals in that day, and the present day necessity of thorough tutorials.
In fact, Brave Fencer Musashi is a game that seems to be trying too many things with little regard for the more established and understandable kind of design.  There's a mechanic where you can steal powers from your enemies in order to solve puzzles, but it's not like there's a tutorial for each one.  And while experimentation can be fun, it's really easy to get overwhelmed by constantly respawning enemies and the lethal environment.
Brave Fencer is trying to work too many angles at once.  It's not able to achieve the Game Loaf style of Yakuza 3, but still good benefit from focusing its gameplay a lot more.  I mean, a power stealing mechanic sounds awesome.  And it could have been something as awesome as Kirby crossed with Gauntlet Legends, but it can't stop wanting to be so much more.
It's not the kind of game I really recommend seeking out.  It's worth watching a let's play to see the best scenes and see what I mean about the potential, but there's not anything that transcendental.  Again, the translation manages to be really funny and clever, even with the heavy censoring I understood it had.  Brave Fencer Musashi was I game not recommended to me, but one I put on this list for myself, and it seems like my nostalgia let me down.  We'll see how often it does over the year.