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It's been a good run.
December 1, 2012 4:00 PM   Subscribe

It's touched the hearts of all sorts of people, but after twenty-four years, the final issue of Nintendo Power is here. One thing's for sure: if the cover doesn't make you feel all kinds of fuzzical nostalgia, then the doctors have called to say that you're dead inside and it's clear that your life is a god damn mess.
posted by DoctorFedora (68 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
*pours a green potion onto the curb*
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on December 1, 2012 [13 favorites]


Simpler times, simpler times...

*throws and shatters amber potion*
posted by gagglezoomer at 4:10 PM on December 1, 2012


*hits a ? block, lets it coast over and down into the pit on purpose*
posted by JHarris at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've missed the last 20 or so years of Howard and Nester. Can anyone catch me up?
posted by Rock Steady at 4:27 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


*throws koopas into quicksand*
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2012


Nester hit kind of a rough patch and dropped out of college.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting facts about Nintendo Power:

Steve Wozniak has multiple high Tetris scores in the magazine. One of them is under his name reversed, "Evets Kainzow." (From Metafilter comment.)

According to Wikipedia, Howard Phillips edited the magazine in its early days. While arguably not the best editor in the world (the magazine was full of mistakes and amateurish touches) Phillips' enthusiasm was infectious, and I have a fondness for those early issues. His most obviously visible role was as one half of the comic duo Howard & Nester. When he left Nintendo the comic soldiered on for a few issues without him but eventually ended. Nintendo actually published a bowling game starring Nester for the Virtual Boy.

They actually ran a promotion once where subscribers received a free Nintendo game, a copy of the original Dragon Warrior. It was part of an effort to get the genre of console RPGs up and running in the US. I took advantage of that myself and got a copy; the game doesn't really hold up, but it's still interesting. Nintendo also self-published Square's Final Fantasy in the US. Those efforts are at least partly responsible for the spread of JRPGs, although they didn't really become big until Final Fantasy VII.
posted by JHarris at 4:33 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Great, now where will I get combo diagrams for Street Fighter II?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:37 PM on December 1, 2012


*tosses red potion on curb*

*door appears*

*escapes into shadowy dreamworld*
posted by wanderingmind at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


Goddamn I wish I hadn't thrown out my collection. I had the first two or three years' worth, and I loved them to pieces. I taught myself how to draw copying the line art illustrations by eye, and I must have read their special Final Fantasy in-depth guide a hundred times.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:46 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stupid unimaginative Nintendo. Instead of shutting down one of their oldest and most valuable channels, they should have elevated it from a kids magazine to a sophisticated publication for their adult fans. For instance, why not a bimonthly magazine lush in behind-the-scene features, in-depth game analysis and nostalgia with a retro gaming design?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:55 PM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


↑↑↓↓←→←→BA .
posted by sidesh0w at 4:58 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


.

Gosh, I really really loved Nintendo Power when I was a kid. I'm probably a bit younger than most of you guys; I started in early n64 era, but man did I love Nintendo and the magazine. Well, I still love Nintendo. Around the Gamecube time I realized it was all propaganda and started reading IGN, but I'm not even embarrassed to say that Nintendo Power was in some ways formative for my current self. Hell, I still have dreams from time to time where I get really excited about the newest issue coming in the mail. Thanks, friends.

Does anyone know where I can buy the final issue?
posted by Buckt at 5:07 PM on December 1, 2012


My son had a subscription (and the Dragon Warrior cartridge). At around that time, Nintendo had a brief fling at "Nintendo on The Big Screen"....playing video games on a movie screen. I got three free tickets and took him and his best friend one Saturday afternoon. We kicked serious ass. I was the only parent who got up to play (I made it to the finals). We got magazines, t-shirts, hats, and posters....my son still remembers how much he enjoyed that day out and how I was the only mom cool enough to give it a go (I think it was a Street Fighter Tournament). In further mom news, last night I went to a video game bar and drank Fairy Fountain martinis with my daughter while watching run-throughs of Super Mario and listening to Ephixa.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 5:14 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]



↑↑↓↓←→←→BA...

Select, Start
posted by leotrotsky at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Does anyone know where I can buy the final issue?

Probably pretty much anywhere, starting December 11.
posted by JHarris at 5:27 PM on December 1, 2012


Select, Start

Only if you're playing with someone else.
posted by lumensimus at 5:31 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband and I were both Nintendo gamers as children - in fact, we still are today.

When we were moving in August, we had to do the ritual of packing up the bits of our childhood we had managed to hang on to. Among the relics (a PowerGlove, a Virtual Boy, two first gen GameBoys that still work, a Super Scope, RF connector, and so on) are three boxes of Nintendo Power back issues. They take up a lot of space. So do all the hardware relics. But we will never get rid of them.

We each held on to them, and treasure them, because they are so much a part of what the pre-internet community of gamers was: thousands of people, around the world, some lonely, some with many friends, but all playing the same games.

When I heard this news, I realized that I was seeing the end of something which changed the lives of thousands of kids. In those pages, we weren't alone, or stuck with the sibling or "friend" who wouldn't take turns. There were others who experienced the same things we did, and we KNEW they were there though this glossy paged lifeline.

I'm planning on spending my winter break putting the back issues we have into proper archival storage containers. It is the least those beautiful books deserve.
posted by strixus at 5:35 PM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Select key is necessary because it sets the game for two players. (You enter this from the title screen, you see.) It is not technically part of the code. It also works for NES Life Force. If you enter it from the pause screen in NES Gradius, it gives you full powerups, but only once per level. (If I remember correctly, though, you can "bank" uses of it; if you don't use it for three levels, then you have three uses of it to spare.)

Later console Gradius games, if you enter it while paused, will most often destroy your ship, but they frequently have other full-power codes.
posted by JHarris at 5:37 PM on December 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't it interesting, how much like the 'real' 3D Mario that first NP looked? I wonder if Miyamoto's team were inspired by that version when they went 3D? Or was it the artist, even? Or were they both drawing on some other source?
posted by Malor at 6:26 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was, I'd guess ages 8-16(?) I used to read video game magazines all the time. I started with Nintendo Power and read a couple of other magazines as well (EGM, Game Players, Next Generation) - as I got older it was pretty obvious that Nintendo Power was mostly marketing for Nintendo, while other game mags were more interesting because they were independent.

They had a deal once where you could buy the first 50 issues for $50. I was tempted but eventually they ran out of one particular issue and ended the offer.
Stupid unimaginative Nintendo. Instead of shutting down one of their oldest and most valuable channels, they should have elevated it from a kids magazine to a sophisticated publication for their adult fans.
I think that would be really difficult to pull off. Anyone who's really into video games today will be reading about them online why subscribe to a paper magazine that's up to a month out of date when you can read up to the minute stuff and comment on it online?

I mean, come on do you subscribe to paper video game mags?

And the other thing - ink, paper, printing and postage aren't free. A website costs nothing if no one goes to it (other then the cost of the content itself) while printing a magazine no one wants is hugely expensive. I would guess a lot of people probably subscribe for nostalgia sake and might not even read it.

Also, kids today are all on the internet. If Nintendo wants to keep the Nintendo Power brand alive the best thing they could do would be to make a youtube channel, I think.
posted by delmoi at 6:47 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've missed the last 20 or so years of Howard and Nester. Can anyone catch me up?

Howard had a bit of a meltdown at the end.
posted by Durhey at 6:48 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't it interesting, how much like the 'real' 3D Mario that first NP looked? I wonder if Miyamoto's team were inspired by that version when they went 3D? Or was it the artist, even?

They had art done by internal artists to use in manuals, in marketing and on packaging. You can see a prime example of it on the front cover of Super Mario 2, and the Japanese Super Mario 1. When they started making 3D models of Mario they went by those.
posted by JHarris at 7:09 PM on December 1, 2012


Durhey, the art style in that is dead-on!
posted by JHarris at 7:11 PM on December 1, 2012


Believe it or not, that's the real deal, made by the art staff at Nintendo Power for Howard's departure from the magazine. For obvious reasons, it was never published, but the man himself put it up on his Facebook page a while back.
Context.
posted by Durhey at 7:20 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is Mario being chased by the Alligator King? (I'd like to tell you, but my uncle who totally works at Nintendo, for real, swore me to secrecy.)
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:34 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is Mario being chased by the Alligator King?

That's actually Wart, the main villain from Super Mario Bros. 2, and the rare villain in a Mario game that isn't Bowser or some relation thereof.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:54 PM on December 1, 2012


That's a great story Durhey, one for that file in my brain of odd facts I'll never forget (which is how I remembered the thing about the Woz's Tetris score). Thanks for the info!
posted by JHarris at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2012


I'll see you at the save point.
posted by boo_radley at 8:18 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


That brings back an odd memory...

I remember, many many years ago, at probably 8-10 years old, getting stuck at one point in the second quest of Legend of Zelda. And Nintendo Fun Club (which later became Nintendo Power) had a number to call for game tips.

Not a 900 number, not a "credit card, please" number, but a totally legit 800 number. And an English-speaking guy answered, and not only did he not merely walk me through a script, he knew the game well enough that he "led" me to the right place with non-spoiler hints based on things I'd already seen in the game over about 10 minutes.

I have no idea what sort of job description he had, or if he worked directly for Nintendo, or if he even got paid for giving out game hints or did it as some sort of slave-labor-of-love sort of deal...

But I try to imagine something like that today... We of the Nintendo Generation definitely grew up in a different world.
posted by pla at 9:11 PM on December 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Isn't it interesting, how much like the 'real' 3D Mario that first NP looked? I wonder if Miyamoto's team were inspired by that version when they went 3D? Or was it the artist, even? Or were they both drawing on some other source?

I might be misremembering but I think the cartoon variation of Mario predates the NES and the original Super Mario Bros. game. If I'm recalling correctly there were variations of it on the coin operated and maybe the early handheld games.

Bowser on the other hand is totally different than the modern 3D cartoon version. He also looks nothing like Dennis Hopper.
posted by loquacious at 9:17 PM on December 1, 2012


Not a 900 number, not a "credit card, please" number, but a totally legit 800 number. And an English-speaking guy answered, and not only did he not merely walk me through a script, he knew the game well enough that he "led" me to the right place with non-spoiler hints based on things I'd already seen in the game over about 10 minutes.

Oh man, I...heavily abused that phone number. I don't think I ever actually called to get tips, I think it was only so I could get them to describe to me games that I really really wanted but didn't have yet. I remember doing this in particular with Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

"How do I beat Turtle Rock?"

"You're going to have to fight a three-headed dragon that breathes fire and ice at you."

I get to do WHAT?

"Then what happens?"

"Then you rescue Princess Zelda and go fight Ganon."

That's out of order! This game! I must have this game!

"What do I do then?"

"Go to the White Tower."

"Okay, how do I get to the White Tower?"

Pause as the tip line guy realizes what I'm actually up to, then reverts back to his casual professional tone.

"Walk left two screens and..."
posted by greenland at 9:54 PM on December 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Nintendo hired all those guys. They had books with the information they needed to help callers through games. The number wasn't actually an 800 number as I remember it, but it wasn't a 900 number either, it was a normal toll call to Washington state. It was very much in demand and was often busy. So often was it busy that it formed the basis of an in-joke in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! If you entered the NOA Game Councilor number as a password, the game would respond by playing back a busy signal.
posted by JHarris at 10:04 PM on December 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Goddamn I wish I hadn't thrown out my collection.

"My parents threw out my Nintendo Powers" is our generation's "My parents threw out my baseball cards."

Granted, I read my NPs to shredded death as a kid. But the point stands...
posted by thecaddy at 10:08 PM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stupid unimaginative Nintendo. Instead of shutting down one of their oldest and most valuable channels, they should have elevated it from a kids magazine to a sophisticated publication for their adult fans. For instance, why not a bimonthly magazine lush in behind-the-scene features, in-depth game analysis and nostalgia with a retro gaming design?

While that would be fun to read, Nintendo didn't actually print the magazine anymore. They licensed it out to Future Publishing (I think) a while back. Which means that the business decision wasn't really up to them.
posted by HostBryan at 10:18 PM on December 1, 2012


Wait, my bad. Apparently it was entirely Nintendo's decision.
posted by HostBryan at 10:19 PM on December 1, 2012


For some reason, I always found the photo covers fascinating. I remember vividly that the Zelda II issue was the first I got in my subscription, as a kid that was something special. I always wanted the first issue with the weird claymation-esque Super Mario Bros 2 cover.

I remember their short-lived strategy guide format where every other month you got a full blown strategy guide; the one for Ninja Gaiden II had comics in it which was good because the game was pretty damn hard IIRC and it was a challenge to get the story. There was also a great strategy guide for the first Final Fantasy, which was challenging for kids because it was easy to pick a bad party and get totally stuck by the time you got to the Elfland quest (you needed to be about 5 levels higher than you would get without stopping to level up).

Nintendo Power lost most of its relevance for me and my friends after the 16-bit era hit; we wanted news about games on other systems, which NP of course never had. By the mid-90s, you had to pretty much be a hardcore Nintendo devotee to keep up with it. Other gaming magazines had taken its place. But from 1989-1992 or so, the golden age of NES and the rise of the Super NES, it was really central to how we experienced video games.
posted by graymouser at 10:54 PM on December 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember vividly that the Zelda II issue was the first I got in my subscription

Aw, dude, that was my first one, too! And I remember those Ninja Gaiden comics so well...

I did eventually order a back issue of the SMB2 one, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:15 PM on December 1, 2012


That sound you hear? That's my 10-year-old self's jaw hitting the floor, as I travel back to 1991 to tell him that he'd be writing the soundtrack for the game on the cover of the second-to-last issue of Nintendo Power.

Then the little shit would be all like, "But I want to be a veterinarian!"

But I wouldn't hear him because I'd already be on the phone with a stockbroker, buying Apple shares.
posted by jake at 11:22 PM on December 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Dragon Warrior special is completely to blame for the JRPG itch I can't seem to scratch: the weird, random difficulty & esoteric clues of 8-bit RPGs + decent writing + nice visuals. Kind of like ye old nice apt/good job/hot date delimma, only with more nostalgia and the lack of time to sink into such a thing.
posted by smirkette at 11:52 PM on December 1, 2012


Oh, PC Accelerator... now those were the days. Back when "computer gaming" was relevant... But seriously, I had their last issue for the longest time then I make the mistake of leaving it behind when I go overseas.

Their final cover? Black background, centered size 16~ white text: It's over.
posted by whorl at 12:52 AM on December 2, 2012


.
posted by saslett at 1:12 AM on December 2, 2012


What is this "magazine" thing people keep referring to?
posted by fairmettle at 4:14 AM on December 2, 2012


It's a booklet printed on glossy paper comprising of various words and pictures on a particular theme or topic. HTH.
posted by mippy at 4:23 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank-you - - your assistance is greatly appreciated, though I now have one further question. In your answer you referred to a material called "paper". I remember my grandpappy referring to such a thing back in the day, but it's meaning has completely escaped me.
posted by fairmettle at 5:30 AM on December 2, 2012


Not a 900 number, not a "credit card, please" number, but a totally legit 800 number.

That was the Game Counselors line. They were in-house game experts, hired by Nintendo of America, who sat in the same room as the technical support people, but answered questions about games instead of power cables and RF adapters.

I was one of them. It was awesome. I was literally the internet for thousands of gamer kids (and adults). At one point, I had played (and beaten) every Nintendo game in existence.

A rare gaming merit badge, completely unattainable today.

Not that I've stopped trying.
posted by Aquaman at 7:39 AM on December 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


In your answer you referred to a material called "paper". I remember my grandpappy referring to such a thing back in the day, but it's meaning has completely escaped me.

Paper is flattened tree corpses.

At one time, if you can believe it, people killed trees and used them to wipe their asses. Seriously!
posted by Malor at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Asses! Inconceivable!
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just wanted to mention... Regarding back issues of Nintendo power, the world is ALL SET.
posted by jscott at 7:04 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG, I had totally forgotten the Nintendo Tip Line, which we used several times when my son got stuck on a game. We also had a Sega Genesis and while playing a game called, I think, Phantasy Star, I actually used Sega's tip line myself (after days of unsuccessfully trying to find a particular area of the ocean where the villianess had a web thing that you had to jump into, or something......it's been a long time). But in those days where there were no online walkthroughs available, those numbers were wonderful and those nice young men on the other end of the line, who were 'counsellors' an guides were saviours. It was, for a while, what my son figured would be his dream job when he grew up: Nintendo Game Counsellor.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 2:14 AM on December 3, 2012


Somehow this thread jogged my memory: the phone number to the Nintendo Game Counselors—my dream job when I was 10 years old—was (206) 885-7529. I think my calls to it were my parents' highest long-distance calling expense for several years running.
posted by glhaynes at 4:59 AM on December 3, 2012


It's a shame to see NP go even though it was way past its prime.

They actually ran a promotion once where subscribers received a free Nintendo game, a copy of the original Dragon Warrior. It was part of an effort to get the genre of console RPGs up and running in the US. I took advantage of that myself and got a copy; the game doesn't really hold up, but it's still interesting.


It depends. The SNES remake that has better graphics and slightly less punishing difficulty was still a fun game to play on the go. Things have evolved since then (sweet context-sensitive buttons), but the battles don't drag and the character progression feels satisfying even though the game rarely surprises you. It's also good at telling its sparse story, considering when the game came out. It's no Zelda or Super Mario Bros of course, but I think more people would have a good time with Dragon Warrior than with Final Fantasy I or II.

Pause as the tip line guy realizes what I'm actually up to, then reverts back to his casual professional tone.

"Walk left two screens and..."


And he lost the opportunity to tell you about the fire-breathing lions? With snazzy hair! That require a new type of shield!
posted by ersatz at 5:15 AM on December 3, 2012


The problems with Dragon Warrior/Quest are that the game is really simple with only a single party member, and it's really really grindy, even more than than most other JRPGs. Eventually JRPG designers figured that, if players don't run from battle, then they should be approximately as strong as they need in each stage of the game just fighting random monsters, but Dragon Quest came out before that trend took hold.
posted by JHarris at 5:44 AM on December 3, 2012


Final Fantasy, which came out later, had 4 party members, but it wasn't significantly more complex after making and outfitting the party for the first time*. DQ came out in 1986, so it was drawing on Ultima and Wizardry. It's more streamlined and less grindy compared to these games or to FF. Even in the remakes of FF you have to grind a lot whereas the remake of DQ is enjoyable though primitive.

Note that I think of DQ as a game of the era of the first three Ultimas and Wizardies; it cannot match the scope of Ultima IV, but then again even nowadays not many games try to make the protagonist virtuous rather than point him towards the bad guys.

*Since you like trivia, I was reading somewhere that the 64 spells of FF was the biggest number of spells to appear in an rpg at the time. I think it was the Hardcore Gaming 101 FF retrospective.
posted by ersatz at 9:29 AM on December 3, 2012


Huh, I think FF had a vastly more interesting and detailed world and storyline. (Even if the time travel thing was not entirely coherent, even by time travel story standards.) And having four party members with different abilities made combat much, much more interesting. (There were also, I think many more different kinds of enemies with different strategies required, more boss monsters, and more and deeper dungeons.)

I like DW ok, but never bothered finishing it because oh god, the grind. Whereas I have played FF through dozens of times and in fact have it on my iPhone just in case I have a craving.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:10 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best thing about the first FF was that I played it when I was too young to know how dumb a name Garland is for a bad guy. Kind of like how the recurring evil wizard in the Books of Swords is named "Wood".
posted by adamdschneider at 2:31 PM on December 3, 2012


Huh, I think FF had a vastly more interesting and detailed world and storyline. (Even if the time travel thing was not entirely coherent, even by time travel story standards.) And having four party members with different abilities made combat much, much more interesting. (There were also, I think many more different kinds of enemies with different strategies required, more boss monsters, and more and deeper dungeons.)

A more detailed world certainly and a more ambitious storyline even though it's all over the place. However, I preferred DQ's gameplay because in FF you still ended up using the same abilities each time after selecting your party and it required more grind with slower-paced battles. I accept that games are a matter of taste though. I've been thinking of replaying FFVI, so it's not as if I hate FFs in general.

Have you played the earlier Ultimas, r_n?
posted by ersatz at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2012


Just having four party members does significantly deepen the gameplay, all by itself, because they (potentially) have different strengths, and you can assign them different goals, and the game doesn't immediately end when one of your characters kicks the bitbucket. The scope for tactical planning is much greater, even if it's still not, objectively speaking, very large.

But something the original Final Fantasy doesn't have, despite reputation, is special-use weapons. That's a perception popularized by the Nintendo Power strategy guide for the game, which lists things like monster classes different weapons are good against. But it turns out, due to a bug in the game, those flags don't actually get checked during battle.

Something Dragon Quest has over FF, however, is items having uses other than their overt purpose. The Silver Harp's primary role in the game is to be traded for the Staff of Rain, but you can use it to get a monster fight whenever. Gwalin's Love is intended to be used in tracking down Erdrick's Token, but you can use it to get your bearings on the world map too. Things like that help to lift the game's structure (slightly) above the round-treasure-peg-fits-in-circular-quest-hole design that most RPGs, and plenty of other games like Metroidvanias, adopt.

If it comes to a choice between the two of them, I'd actually rather play Dragon Quest, as the writing is better, the plot is more cohesive, and it just feels more open-ended. Later Dragon Quest games do that a lot better though; my particular favorite is III, which has four-character parties you create yourself (other than your hero guy) and, starting about halfway in, a fairly non-linear quest that lets you bump around the world doing adventure stuff just like Glob intended.
posted by JHarris at 4:45 PM on December 3, 2012


Have you played the earlier Ultimas, r_n?

All of them except 2, at least a little. (2 has the weirdest memory management and I never really got it to run.) I came to the series with Underworld (which I adore) and then 7, so going back to the previous UI was agonizing. I'm intimately familiar with all the plots (during my stint on Ultima Online, we recreated the destruction of Magincia and later built the Stygian Abyss to give access to the gargoyle lands, all of which had us all doing research, plus I'm just an Ultima nerd) but can't really comment on grindiness or anything. I only ever finished U1 of the pre-mouse-driven games.

(I had a Nintendo, a Super Nintendo, and then a PC - no consoles post-Super Nintendo. It makes my gaming experience a little lopsided, especially since I mostly have played MMOs in the last fifteen years.)

That's a perception popularized by the Nintendo Power strategy guide for the game, which lists things like monster classes different weapons are good against

ARRRGH YES. So irritating. I figured out pretty quickly that it didn't work as described, and the super-limited inventory made it tricky to use anyway (the effects were, I believe, actually fixed in rereleases, but still aren't all that practical.) But it does have situational spells - a lot of them - and spell-casting items that made a knowledge of the magic system practical even if you went with an all-melee party, which I was prone to.

The writing on a sentence level was much better in Dragon Warrior - well, writing or translation, possibly both - but I didn't think the story was particularly compelling. FF1 had immediate quests, bigger-picture quests (finding the orbs) and then the gradually revealed end goal, which gave the whole thing some dramatic weight. (I will grant that it was very much a game on rails, though, which DW was not, or at least wasn't as obvious about.) Opinions certainly differ, though, and it sounds like later DW/DQ games were much more involved.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


how dumb a name Garland is for a bad guy.

That's the fantasy equivalent of the Boy Named Sue. With a name like that, he had to be a villain.
posted by Malor at 3:01 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


JHarris, in theory FF should be more tactical, but in practice I always end up using the same options with a shakeup when I get a better spell. You make a good point that you can resurrect your character without a game over though; I hadn't thought of it. Incidentally, a good metroidvania should let you juggle your round pegs. I quite liked Zero Mission, a remake of the first Metroid that traded the "hidden worlds" of the original for a tight gaming design that allowed the player to complete most of the game out of order with a minimum of items. I played DQ I & II back to back and I stopped before DQ III (for a SNES its graphics are to die for by the way). DQ V was great when it came to exploration too.

I came to the series with Underworld (which I adore)

Oh, absolutely. I've never been able to get it to run on a post-486 computer due to memory but maybe DOSbox could handle it nowadays. My question was chatty, but the Ultimas after IV can be easy if you know where to look, but a grind if you're fumbling around. I'd almost like to recommend Let's Play Ultima IV-VII by Nakar because he's very knowledgeable about the games, but iirc there's casual sexism in his dialogue. I didn't know UO opened up access to the Stygian Abyss - that's cool. The speed of my connection back then and the charges I'd have racked up prohibited me from playing UO in its heyday.

DQ was also mostly on rails; it would let you muck about a bit, but you mostly had to follow a fixed progression. I liked that FF kept Garland around to reuse him; in that regard it was better thought out than later games that pulled a final boss out of nowhere.
posted by ersatz at 5:54 AM on December 4, 2012


JHarris, in theory FF should be more tactical, but in practice I always end up using the same options with a shakeup when I get a better spell.

It's not very tactical, for sure, but there are choices to be made - focus fire vs spread it out, which enemy needs to die first, spend a (very limited) spell or just hit it with sticks, etc. Not much, but DQ has none of that.

I've never been able to get it to run on a post-486 computer due to memory but maybe DOSbox could handle it nowadays.

I can't remember if it's just DOSbox or a custom shell (like Exult for U7) but it's totally playable if you go looking. (It's actually on GoG.com too.)

I was, am, and always will be absolutely a fan of spoilers for RPGs. I have the Prima guides for both Underworlds, U7s, and U8, have read Nakar's series (yeah, the humor's juvenile but the guy knows the game) and probably just about every other walkthrough out there. It's part of why I know all the plots without having bothered to actually play some of the early games. I even bought the Ascension guide, read it, and returned it when the reviews were so terrible on the actual game. (I also cheat like mad, much of the time - I don't think I ever played Fallout 2 without using a pre-hacked character.) Not a gaming purist by any stretch, not me.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:43 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed on the lack of focus fire, but you can choose which enemy to kill first or whether to use a spell or go for melee in DQ. Or that's what I'd say before I checked, but all my random encounters were with a single enemy so I'm probably in the wrong here. Multiple enemies is an important one, so I'll have to admit that FF was more advanced tactically (although when it came out it would be competing with DQ2). The feature of FF that I loved though was the ability to promote your characters.

Thanks, I'll have to check it out when I've got the time. I remember a gorgeous guide for Breath of Fire II that was almost more intriguing than the game itself (it lacked grinding). Walkthroughs can be useful; if you only have time to play Planescape: Torment once and go blind, you might lose tons of content and conversations. I have developed allergy to grinding after repeated exposure to it, unless the battle system is very fast-paced, so I'm not above using shortcuts instead of grinding. That's why I never got into MMOs.

Fallout 2 lets you make almost-perfect characters normally. Take gifted and small frame (+1 AG) and your starting stats are:

ST 6 +1 (surgery) +4 (power armor)
PE 6 +1 (surgery)
END 6
CHA 6 +1 (surgery) +1 (shades)
INT 6 +1 (surgery)
AG 7
LU 6 +2 (from the scientologist) +2 (brain alignment)

You've also got 5 points to distribute and you can deduct a point or two from strength even if you go melee, so you can end up S:10 P:6 E:7 C:8 I:10 A:10 L:10 for melee with criticals and you could use the three points of CHA for another stat as it gets overruled by INT+speech or you could have a ranged character with S:8 P:10 E:8 C:5 I:10 A:10 L:10 without including stat-raising perks. Or you could just use fal2che. :)
posted by ersatz at 4:22 AM on December 5, 2012


I am morally certain DQ1 is single-enemy-only. I believe the sequels all have multiple enemies, though.

The difference between a hex-modded character in Fallout 2 and min-maxing one through regular gameplay is of course being able to play through the first half of the game with combat a non-issue (combat, in almost every RPG ever, is essentially a boring chore for me) and with (almost) all the conversation options open. Plus everyone will sleep with you.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2012


This is a good example of the perils of communication, how a simple assumed fact, not made explicit, can result in a disconnect in meaning and destroy the point one is trying to make. Because when I talked about having a party being intrinsically more tactically interesting than a single character, I had assumed that it was obvious that you'd be fighting opponents who worked the same way, that if you played a group of characters you'd naturally be fighting other groups. Indeed what would be the point, if you had four characters, if you were only fighting single opponents?

Just to be clear then, yes, Dragon Quest is entirely single-character-vs.-single-monster, from the early slimes all the way through to the Dragonlord himself. All of the later games pit parties of characters against groups of monsters (although at times you might only have a single guy).
posted by JHarris at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2012


Yeah, apparently I was thinking of DQ2 where you can fight at least up to 7 enemies (or see 7 metal slimes escape in turn); it doesn't help that I had played them back to back. Fighting more than one opponent changes the depth of the battle radically and I was wrong there.

The difference between a hex-modded character in Fallout 2 and min-maxing one through regular gameplay is of course being able to play through the first half of the game with combat a non-issue (combat, in almost every RPG ever, is essentially a boring chore for me) and with (almost) all the conversation options open. Plus everyone will sleep with you.

Makes sense if you dislike combat. I once played a melee-only character, without skipping sequence, who was using a sharpened spear for a big part of the game and trying to get EXP here and there to afford better equipment. It was a different experience listening to people call you a tribal when you were lacking both economic means and firepower. High INT and Speech keeps most conversations open although Kitty will snub you without a CHA of 9. However, the character editor is fun to play with and there are a few gender-specific options that you can take advantage of this way.
posted by ersatz at 1:54 PM on December 5, 2012


Ooh, now I want to see if you can turn both gender flags on at once.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:50 PM on December 5, 2012


fal2che treats them as exclusive but maybe the game doesn't. You probably already know about this, but I love this guide for FO2: it's comprehensive and a good read.
posted by ersatz at 5:02 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


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