Hidden Gem: Crash N Tense (fan-made game)

Developer: Metalsonic3 aka Jargonfox
Publisher: Sonic Fan Games HQ

This probably won’t be old news to some people of the Crash Bandicoot fan base, but for others, you need to see this.

There’s an extraordinary amount of love for the orange marsupial. He was the first of the Sony craze to be reviatalized after the glory days of the late 90’s and 00’s. Ever since then there’s been repeated amounts of tries to keep him in the relevant light, but sadly the good attempts were cancelled, and the bad ones were published.

The fans, however, had plans to help him prosper. Go, and look for Crash fan games, and you’ll find so many. The fans have discovered why the unique formula of Crash Bandicoot worked for its time, but didn’t age well. 3D Platforming is a beast. I hate being one of those writers that claims to have never made a game, which is why I tried my hand at programming before giving in to my passions. Making a game that takes off is a combination of luck, and vision.

The most notable platformers of all time would be the Jak and Daxter series, and Mario. It’s impossible to say which of the previous two are better, because they are apples and oranges. Jak and Daxter is platforming with a story. Mario is platforming with gameplay. Both are fun, but serve two different purposes. Jak creating a functioning world, and Mario is for being the pinnacle of platform gaming.

All that to say, Crash is the weird middle experiment between a cohesive world, and pure platforming. It succeeded in the world of 3D by being a 2D game shifted so left and right became forward and back. It would become its own niche, and wear out quickly as the minds of Naughtydog saw, we fans saw with Wrath of Cortex. That’s why Twinsanity, and the Titan series, changed direction.

Twinsanity did show fans that an open world Crash game with a cohesive world is possible. It is a natural evolution, platforming is seamless, and the challenge is an adequate ascension.

Unlike Jak and Daxter, and Mario, getting around in Twinsanity is, most of the time, a one-way street.

Twinsanity is a precursor for a solid foundation of 3D Crash to work from. Lots of fan projects have used it as a template for that fact alone. But one fan game in particular decided to take two steps back, and bring Crash into a highly successful light that may take Crash Bandicoot further than 3D.

Crash N Tense went to 2D and slapped hand drawn art all over it to make Huge Adventure, and N-Tranced blush.

I played through all three levels of their demo and was amazed by the attention to detail. The crouching while holding on to the bars, the little faces he gives jumping, and hanging, and the way Crash and Coco behave during each and every breath is more love than I think the original developers made.

The controls are nearly perfect. In my opinion, the stop mechanics of Crash 2 were crisp, and clean, and Crash 1 had sluggish handling. The controls for N Tense did not hinder the game-play at all, so if they were the final product, it would be an excellent final product.
However jumping gaps as Coco in her kart is a nightmare. The box was extremely small and hard to find to make it perfectly across large and small gaps. I had the most failures there.

Obviously there are many things still in the works so I have no other critiques. Years ago, the games frame rate was colossal slow, and the animations were basic, Metalsonic3 cranked out more blood and sweat and made a flawless cartoon-ish Crash that rivals any Crash conception, and longer level layouts than the original trilogy themselves.

Best of all, this game is free, and it doesn’t take a good laptop to run.

In conclusion I make this same argument for Yooka-Laylee. It was fine as 3D, but the choices made and transition have proven that side-scrolling works in favor, overall. Mario works well in 3D because of how much toil went into making it work. Twinsanity proves Crash can work in 3D, but it only scratched the surface. Linear 3D like the crash trilogy is just side-scrolling from behind. The 2.5D with the trilogy might have been better for Crash, save the running, biking, flying, wave riding levels. This fanmade Crash game is proving just that. 2D Crash is better because of what more it can do. A modern 2D cartoon Crash Bandicoot works exponentially better than a classic Sonic.

Story Time- Gonna’ Get Left Behind on an Old Dirt Road

Cue the fireworks!

Cue the singers!

And cue the huge line of butlers holding identical cakes!

It’s story time!

I’ve told you guys a few good ones that could only happen to the primo shenanigan. But this time, I’m gonna hit home for everybody today. Everyone has at least been put up to something in their life. If they haven’t, then their life is still young.

And speaking of young, this story takes place when I was just a sprouting boy. The chronic disease hadn’t quite taken hold of me, but it was in the early stages. I believe I mentioned before, I participated in an activities group for young boys and men to teach them about the great outdoors, and proper virtues.

The Royal Rangers, they called us.

Our leader was a big outdoorsman. Fishing, hunting, driving a truck, wearing flannel with the breast pocket, the weird chafe walk, and the almost undecypherable country accent.

He was the real deal.

This man even had the most outdoorsman, country, last name-

-NASH

Nash was a chill man.

…Except for when he was taking care of his little niece.

But other than that!

Nash was a cold, intense, man with a stare that could shoot a turkey out of the sky!

#ItstrueIsawhimdoit

Nash had built a potato gun once. A POTATO GUN! It could shoot PO TAY TOES!!!

Circa my face upon firing the illegal potato gun

At the time my little squishy Spongebob brain couldn’t handle the amount of awesome his invention was. It also couldn’t comprehend that it was illegal…

…and also not entirely his invention. But it was still cool.

I mean the potato went into space practically.

So aside from our adventures of raccon hunting with dogs, staying at a deer lodge and camping overnight in tents, our Ranger leader showed us much about the outdoors, and fostered my love for the forrest, and its majesty. But he also had other plans. Dark, insidious plans, born from a void of total mischief that involved coaxing me into a false sense of security. Of thinking that as long as I’m with him, everything was okay. I would soon learn…

He likes the night.

Nights can be scary. Especially the setting of the night.

If you’re home, in bed, behind a blanket, a locked door, and a cozy room, it’s not bad.

But a silent dirt road with an abandoned house deep in the backroads of Georgia?

Cue. ominous. music.

But that’s the setting. Our wise leader was taking us for a ride Wednesday night. By we I mean the battalio -er- group of boys. There was myself, my younger brother, and three older boys in their late teens. I was in my earliest of teens. As early and as barely as you can imagine. I may have even convinced myself that twelve was a teen year. I had gone through a lot up until then. Drinking vinegar I thought was tea, falling and opening my head on a toilet, breaking my adult teeth, performing little piano recitals for the elderly- I went through alot. I deserved to be a teen!

We were in the back of a pick-up truck, enjoying the night air. Even with a radio, comrades, and wheels, the bumpy old truck felt safe from the dark trees trying to reach for us, and yank us away to the dark elf gnome masters, to be subjugated as little tunic seemstresses.

Thankfully, our master commander drove fast enough to escape captivity. We were under the mighty help of our fearless leader. Every meeting with him, he used to teach. He had a lot of outdoor knowledge to pass on, and tonight was a special lesson.

A lesson in shenanigans. *cue full cirle metaphor*

He was going to show us a rare sight: The House of Usher. No, it wasn’t the book, or play adaption, or the movie (I don’t know if there’s a House Usher movie), and not even the actual house, which makes me upset in my adult years. But it was like the House of Usher because it was a house, in the middle of nowhere, run down, and possibly occupied?

It was the “possibly” we were going to investigate.

We arrived after a lengthy drive. I stared at the distant building and I began to understand what fear was.

I didn’t see a house, I saw a silouhette of a house, blocking the moonlight. I could clearly see through the windows lined so perfectly that the woods on the backside were visible from the front. I looked for the suburban, sidewalk and white fence walkway up to the frontdoor, but quickly found brush and grass too high to see the ground. It was clear the battle for reaching the door would begin with carving a path through snake-infested, disease-bug riddled, plant-eating, ivy smothering forestation!

*Again I was twelve, and didn’t go outside much*

I then received my order. “Go and check out the house.” To my little mind, I heard, “ALRIGHT FLOYD, LEAD THE TROOPS, AND PREPARE TO INVADE!”

So I hopped out, ready to take on death with friends watching my back when-

A horrifying scream came from the house.

I found out very quickly that my reaction to stress was flight. I reached for the truck when-

The red lights taunting me as they became smaller only added confusion to my immediate horror. The laughter I hear tickling my ears. What was happening was a rare moment. Nash had an assistant when showing young men how to become wise, and full of virtue and character. I had finally met this renowned teacher, Professor Experience. The title of his TED talk was, “Tomfoolery; Fear is Funny, Pain is Hilarious”

There was no adventure. There was no great discovery of a haunted house. There was only a joke. And I was the butt.

Seeing such injustice I did what any teen in his right mind would do.

Cue caught with pants on ground metaphor

The prank was short lived so I wasn’t running very long. My climb into the truck was welcoming. I was shaken, but that disappeared when the warm fuzzies of comradery helped me forget those pesky dark elves on my tail.

Turns out that scream was our assistant commander who snuck to the house beforehand. It was great day for learning. I walked away with a great attitude, because I was with great people.

There are lots of times when people go out to have fun at others expense. They single out the weak one, or the shy one, or the one having a bad day, and leave them at a scary house and drive away. Only difference is they don’t come back, or they continue to use them and not make it up. That’s not cool to me. Having fun is great and all, and using people’s expense I think is okay, but it’s a fine line there.

If you’re going to do that, then you need to be a great person. Be willing to be treated like that yourself. Don’t go overboard with playing around, learn when to stop, and nurture the relationship.

I got compliments for being a good sport, I felt included, and got to take part in the next prank. This time, it was all in good fun, true good fun.

True good fun out there exists. This story is a good example of it.

It’s important that stories of tragedy need to be told to expose darkness and raise awareness of people’s behaviors needing some adjusting. And it’s also important to stories of hope and good times also be shared. Because they’re out there. Don’t give up finding them.

Stop Getting Upset at Microtransactions

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled having microtransactions is a good idea. Change my mind.

What are the arguments I hear from the side that doesn’t like it?

“Kids who are impatient could spend money, and not learn the value of a dollar.”

“Kids could be spending their parents money without consent.”

“It shows how greedy the company is.”

“It takes away the integrity of the game.”

“Gamers will feel the compulsion to play less.”

Here’s another side of the argument that Activision probably takes the side of.

WE’RE MOSTLY ADULTS NOW

I have a wife, a puppy, and a 40-50 and even sometimes 60 hour job. When I come home, I wanna play a game and relax. Those old games? Their requirements for silly trinkets and extra costumes were absurd, but back in the day when all I had was time, I didn’t think about. And it was a proud mark to bear, since achievements and online flexing didn’t exist yet.

But now if I want Crash to be purple, I don’t have time to play that long to earn it.

Would it be one thing if said purple said made me a better gamer? Gave me an edge, perhaps? Sure! I’ll earn it, then feel good about my enemies seeing my purple kuester in front of them.

But it’s not. It’s just a color swap.

Now Fake Crash, and N. Tropy are nice bragging rights. And they’re still in the game as unlockables; obtainables. So are others. And the adventure mode had a great amount of them.

Theres a great big reason why I’m glad theres a way to earn useless coins, for useless skins. My time is way more precious than my currency.

Almighty Nintendo isn’t even above this. Locking their Mario Run game behind a ten dollar wall, and their rainbow tickets. The entire game is locked behind a big money wall that’s giving Trump a seductive eye.

At least Pokemon Go isn’t that bad, you want coins? WHAT COINS?

You can earn them if you’re good enough to keep your Pokemon in a gym. But that’s an option. An OPTION. Because our parental game figures have many children of huge age differences. Those with time, and those without.

And that’s the crux of my entire point. Time, its precious, and most or us are wasting it. I’m to blame as well at times. Theres no absolute way of spending it, we just have to be careful and figure it out amongst ourselves.

I felt it was worth taking the time to say this. And of you’re right here at this word, thanks for spending yours with me. Maybe it wasn’t a waste, and maybe we can help others be a little wiser.

Anticipation for New Games

Yooka Laylee: The Impossible Lair

This. I thought the first game was okay, what with its massive empty map flaws, but great characters and return to form. But this is the perfect direction for this series. It looks so natural, so pleasing to the genre it’s a part of, and great for the time. I mean, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze has done well and Kirby Star Allies proves not every next gen jump has to be Breath of the Wild or Odyssey.

I am really looking forward to how they implement the other characters, like Kartos, into this dimensional shift, but I’m expecting a great result. This upcoming game seemingly will take all the potential it missed from its first title, and make Yooka Laylee a permanent name in households.

Are you READY KIDS?????

Because I am! Oh man, how I’ve waited for a new Spongebob game. And I’ll overlook the fact that it’s a remake. Toys for Bob have shown that old can be new again and remakes carry new stuff, like the almost released Crash Team Racing.

This is bound to make a lot of people happy. And create a cry for more Spongebob. And I hope THQNordic listens.

Yeah, you heard us, put down that Darksiders for a second, we need more Spongey… SHENANIGANS!

I was late to this party, but I’m just in time to enjoy a new sequel! I like the possibility that we’ll be exploring the old man’s mind, and exploring the Mother Lobe, on a brand new adventure this 2019.

So there’s a couple games I’m looking forward to. And now you know a little of what’s coming out. What have you seen coming out that you’re excited for? You should tell me!

Rip Van Runescape- The World Wakes (my thoughts)

The years of 2012 to 2013 were very pivotal for Jagex, as everyone knows. Especially those who have climbed the hill of Old School or RS3 and prepared their coffin, these years are all too familiar. Unfortunately, for myself, college took such a hard turn and my attention was super focused on life. These years went by, and my computer hardly signed on to the main page.

So, imagine I’m like the modern day version of Rip Van Winkle who slept through a massive Runescape revolution, and woke up on the other side looking at a divided fan-base going, “Why? There was just a graphical update, right?” And the chance to catch up has been long lost. Thankfully, a nice video of the last 15 years popped up recently on the Runescape YouTube channel, and I educated myself and am currently picking up the pieces as I go along, to get back into the know.

Buuuuuuuuuuut I’m still working on it.

In the meantime, I get to provide a unique perspective few Runescape veterans have, and even fewer post online.

When I stopped playing, my last achievements were the quests, Mournings End Pt. 2, and Devious Minds. I felt accomplished, and it felt like a good time to take a break. Years later, all of these wonderful new things kept popping up as I kept an eye on the game. I touched the EoC, watched the cutscene of Saradomin and Zamorak fight behind Lumbridge Castle (without knowledge of Guthix’s edicts), and I rode the Hasslehoff, got the crown, saved the town, and MR. KRAAAAAAAABS!

Sorry, got lost…

With a lot of touch and go, I rememeber the last update I wanted to see first hand was the Player Owned Ports, the best thing I think they ever could have made. But alas, my mere account could not enjoy it; the stats were simply too low. So while I enjoyed what I could see, I pushed the game back, went on, yet making sure I didn’t forget to check in on the game every once in a while.

But then my heart returned after heeding the call of some friends. From the PoS, to now, I didn’t keep in touch, so I’ve missed A LOT. I mean, new Asia themed provinces, more epic quests, new ways to level up the skills, new higher tiered weapons and armor, new metals, new costumes, and a whole trove of new dungeons, where was a guy to begin?

Well for me it was easy: begin where I can!

And that was World Wakes. I was barely able to start it. And even though While Guthix Sleeps, or The Ritual of Mahajarrat, were obvious prequels, I didn’t care! I wanted more glorious questing!

Well no one told me the first three enemies could instantly kill you.

And I learned quickly that EoC wasn’t Legacy fighting anymore.

So I took some time to get my way around the new system, learn the attacks, learn the strategies, look up some guides, and I tried again. It was a cinch, but an unknowing testament to the road ahead. Because after that, came a FREAKING GOD DUNGEON BOSS. People get in raids to fight this guy, and he wants a peace of me?

Runescape Kratos says, “Boi?”

After that fight, a harmless hallway descent down, turns into a huge ascent into lore. Many familiar characters appear, and join the story and lines are drawn almost immediately. Per true Jagex form, you have a say in how to proceed in dialogue, and the people you stand with. As well, puzzles and problem solving rely on you, which has been the crux of every hand crafted tale on Gielnor. While the brutish opponents of Guthix try and smash down the door, you cleverly work some puzzles and the door opens for you. Then a huge moment occurs in which a new line, the battle line, is drawn, and the followers true to their god come and attack.

The four major battles in the storage cells were all intense moments. I took advantage of every break to restock food and potions, and calm my nerves before entering again. Running around while rocks fell, keeping ymself secluded to a corner to avoid dangerous attacks, and ignoring small fry in order to attack magic portals was one thing. But the true enemy of that quest… Was Enakhra.

No matter what, the skill of passing a test always comes down to the individual. I had the guides, but they couldn’t beat her for me. I had to use my own skill, and it was a true challenge. To go against your instincts, and let your health drain, and keep it low tried not only your tenacity, but your butt cheeks. Every clenching moment where her health rose, and mine lowered was another bead of sweat down my forehead. Until finally she ran away like a punk!

And after all that, I still had to watch a saddening cutscene, which sets the online rpg game in motion to change ages.

It’s incredible to say the least, Jagex making humongous lore changes on a large multiplayer online game. Companies add content every day, but I’ve never seen such a bold change such as this. I think the Age change was great, adding galaxy levels of content for them making quest stories bigger and better, and adds possibilities for new dungeons like a Saradomin dungeon, and new lands to make. A personal idea of mine is Sky Land, where we’ll see Aviansie make a come back somehow, and we’ll learn how to get around on this new city, like gnome inventions, or winged dingy boats in the clouds? Who knows, maybe Jagex’ll hear me, maybe not.

As for the Evolution of Combat, I think making an Old School server was a good idea in the end. It hurts to see a divided fan-base, because the intentions behind the new RS3 I think are pure and good.

I’m an adult now. And gooooooooooooone are the days as a kid or a teenager. But once I heard that the new RS3 game introduced double XP weekends, and new ways the train skills faster, I was fully supportive. And I still have an account to go back into Old School and play and enjoy when I have that opportunity. The Old School is great on mobile devices and times when I’m waiting around, and I still will pull it up and grind fishing while working.

But I have to say that hardest thing to get used to was separate content. I’m all for it, it gives me a great reason to play both. But I don’t want it to make the division wider. I want both sides to respect each other and the livelihoods that are allowed to enjoy Runescape at any capacity.

So come on, fellow ‘Scapers, we have our corners, so let’s enjoy it all peacefully. There’s enough Saradominists and Zamorakians in the real world fighting because either is on one end of the spectrum than the other. We need to be more like Guthix and maintain a balance for the good of everyone happily, not begrudgingly.

So anyway, what’s this Kourend I keep hearing about?

!w00t! Runescape !w00t!

Hoo boy, two weeks without a new entry. That’s a little rough, and definitely going on my permanent record. I would say things have been busy, but I won’t because:

1.) It’s true, but no one likes the truth
2.) Any excuse is still an excuse, so with that said…
4.) I also ran out of peanut butter
5.) The moon told me not to…
6.) Number 3’s excuse was so lame the number changed, and I bet you didn’t notice.

But man- these two weeks have been crazy am I right?

  • Got a new job at Pepsi
  • ENDGAME
  • I got back into a classic game that was one of my favorites growing up (spoiler, title of this blog :p )
  • ENDGAME
  • I don’t watch it, but I hear Game of Thrones has been doing crazy things again
  • ENDGAME
  • Oh, and Marvel produced their epic conclusion to a saga they’ve been making for over ten years now. What was it called again?

Haaaaa, I’m kidding. The movie was phenomenal, but we’re not here to talk about that! There’s plenty of reviews out there, and my opinions not that unique enough to make a blog about so instead I’m going to move forward with something that has been rekindled so such an amount, I would feel foolish not doing it.

RUNESCAPE

Big name, big game, not the same, as others. It shares the common things as other MMORPG’s but what make it stand out above all the others? And why was it my choice of gaming after so long bringing me back? Well I’m sure it would be a question my dad would even like to know.

As a funny story, back in the day, we had to show the games me and my brother wanted to play, to our parents. They were being cool, we were young, and didn’t want us doing Grand Theft Auto level things, or Gears of War level things, and there was a lot they didn’t know about the internet, so being cautious and compromising was their game. And they were good at it. I, on the other hand, was bad at selling.

I could not present a case for myself to save my life. To this day, I am the king of underselling something. I have left that to greater men and women. People would ask me what my favorite kind of music was, and I would list off bands, and they were all, “ew gross, really? WHY?” and then I was like, “uhh, uhh, because the song is all BAM, and the guitar is like JAM!”

…In college I had to quickly learn the phrase, “eh different strokes for different folks” so I could avoid having to put up a case for my opinion.

And my dad was also intimidating. Just picture Dwayne the Rock Johnson, add hair, a pastoral career, and maybe… fifty pounds and boom my dad! tadaaaa

Easily the epitome of free quests

But I was able to play Runescape, despite how he looked at it, he said it looked boring. To his credit though, I was walking around trying to find out what kind of content to show him, but there was so much, I should have prepared something in advance.

This entry is going to be like a letter to my dad. To explain why I played this boring game so much, why I gave it money, how this influenced my career choice, and what this game is going to involve the future of this blog.

May, 2004. Just off the cuff of releasing their graphical update that will forever stick, Jagex released Big Chompy Hunting. At this time I was being introduced to this new game called ‘Run-escape’, by my friend. At the end of Tutorial Island I was entranced in this unique system of Java based gaming you could play anywhere. The way fighting happened was really cool to me, even though it was A attacks B, then B attacks A, and rinse and repeat. But everything was a skill to earn by your own making, from cooking to fishing, to cutting wood, to making crafts, and mining, and fighting. All of the skills have a symbiotic relationship that one supports the other, (excluding Dungeoneering- a beast of its own.) and with the proper knowledge of locations and monster locations, you didn’t need to buy anything.

Okay maybe you might need to buy a bucket.

This first concept was amazing to me. To earn everything in the game was on you. Yes, this is a basic thing in MMO games, but this was my first, and until this time I was used to playing console games like Crash Bandicoot, and Kingdom Hearts. This game was where I -me- was the adventurer. I could customize this avatar to look how I wanted, try out hairstyles and beard trims that I didn’t have, and have fun with it without suffering consequences.

Suddenly, I was with my friend! We were in the same game and we weren’t in the same room!

But what’s this?

There were hundreds of other people also playing this game! Words were appearing above their avatar heads, they were running around, all looking different, some with noob clothes (like me) to the most decorated player with all the latest armor and weapons. And those weird polygon graphics looked so cool. That was another thing, the armor and weapons you picked up- you wore them! Other games didn’t do that. They didn’t want to take their precious Sora and give him a legit necklace change, bangle, or ring when you equipped it.

My friend began to take me to a cow field where I could train my combat skills to get stronger so we could take on harder enemies like evil wizards, goblins, hill giants, and… dragons! Yes, this game was looking so good to me!

“But Chronic, Lord of the Rings online has all of that, so does Ultima Online, Star Wars KotOR, Ragnarok, Eva, Guild Wars, and least of all: World of Warcraft!”

Yes well all of those games did not have the magical hidden charm Runescape possessed. Why? Because those games were all trying to mimic each other, and say they were better, despite all having the same lifeless avatar, controls, quest-text directive, key-bound ability based combat fighting, and arrow key movement. All of that is fine, in fact I’ve spent my fair share on those games, so I feel I’m safe in making my claims. But, here comes my shade…

They were all BORING!

The NPC’s had no character to them! The quests didn’t feel epic, they felt like fetch quests. The main story-lines were the only good parts. Period.

The two best things I find the most fun in any game are the story, and the exploration. I like a lot of color, and fantasy elements thrown together to make something that I’m not going to see in real life. To see the limits of the imagination challenged and stretched, but not to the point of insanity, and still make sense.

Let’s take two comparisons, Runescape has a large Elven city call Prffindas, and even though Lord of the Rings Online has Elven cities, I’m going to use Minis Tirith because it’s fairer to pit two hub worlds together. Hub worlds I mean you can practice all of your skills in one place. For these two in particular they are highest level in-game content. You have to nearly be maxed out to make to these places, which is awesome, settings goals and providing challenges are what game are for. Graphically it has to be given to LOTRO, the scale is enormous, and it’s a real accomplishment to have visually mastered the image J.R.R Tolkien set out to create.

I think he would be proud and definitely be playing it all day long. And if the game had the rights to create the Westlands, the final resting place fo the Elfs, then maybe… just maybe it may beat out my preference. But it probably won’t because the combination of Jagex’s charm of lovable and charismatic NPC’s, your own characters character, and the unlimited potential on the imagination means they can do much more than Warner Bros. Sadly, for all the things Lord of the Rings did, I also like, and prefer the higher fantasy I get to enjoy with Runescape.

Runescape has the Barrow Brothers, six brothers who died but their ghosts remain. Their skirmish rewards you their armor, which is another visually appealing commodity.

This game also has the God War Dungeons. Four factions time locked in a frozen dungeon and are eternally fighting. Players can shove themselves right in the middle of it all, and make their way to the God representative general, fight them and get a chance to also be awarded a ‘Godsword’ a weapon both practical and impractical.

You can also fish for sharks and those funny Monkfish, but they also make their own aquatic life called Rocktail and Karambwan.

They have so many different colonization of creatures and people. From right and proper Varrok, to the jungles of Karamja, to Feldip Hills with Zogres, to the Death Plateau with rock Trolls, to the valleys of Goblins, the desert of Kalphites, Mummies, and Egyptians, over to swamps and vampires and werewolves, to under ground with the lava dwelling Tok rock beings, and to the far west lands of crystal-house dwelling Elves. And let’s not forget about the gnomes! Those rascals…

It’s a fantasy lovers dream game.

But all of that wasn’t even my favorite part.

It was the quests.

The story. It was the story, and is the story that kept me going, and hooked me back in. The story is, the world of Gielnor has not one but many stories as many creatures as there are. And many are great in length, vivid in detail, smothered with humor, and encounters feel more intimate than any other boss fight other MMORPG’s couldn’t offer.

The community is the icing on the cake. It being a relatively niche environment, the players all have a special brand of pride when they meet outside the game. I met a player on my first day, and only my first day. It was a fun day, but I’ve never seen them again. But with that in mind, it’s a game you can play solo and not feel bored. It’s definitely better playing with friends or other people. No one feels like a stranger on the game, because you instantly have something to talk about: your skill level. And if they have a cool piece of armor or weapon or item, or a cosmetic, or they’re in the same quest as you, you find a special bond.

This one time, I was playing a quest where you have to infiltrate a village of monkeys. and if one of them saw you, they kicked you out, and you had to start over. The quest was hard, they made very few places to hide, and some of those places had snakes attacking you. It got to this part, near the end, where these gorillas were blocking the way to the door, and I didn’t have the combat requirements needed to face them. I needed to defeat them, so I could use what they carried to make a disguise and become a gorilla too, which I needed to finish the quest.

But anyway, there was this guy training on them, and he was like, “You need me to defeat them?”
And I went, “That would definitely help me out”
And he said, “Alright cool”

And he just took care of them! What I needed dropped on the floor, and I picked it up, and was able to finish way under the level a normal player should have been. But that’s why I like them! Most of them will let you in even though you don’t meet their “height requirements” and if you beat them, then you get all the spoils afterwards, and it just might level up your character enough to the right level 😉

There’s a guy on YouTube called Settled playing a hardcore account where he keeps his character in the swamps, and can only stay in there and use whatever he can find to become strong enough to face the hardest challenge, “Theatre of Blood”. So there are people making their own game out of the game, and there are others just coming in to play the game and conquer it like Zezima, the best player historically.

So anyway, dear dad, that is why I love playing Runescape. It’s a game for all player types and more, I didn’t even mention all the minigames like Gnomeball and Castle Wars. Or the devastating Player vs. player action of the Wilderness. I normally stay away from those areas. Mainly because I’m still leveling up after fifteen years of playing. But I level up according to my next quest goal. So I’m working on my level 80 skills now. And yes, I’m playing on the new Runescape 3. I love the Old School, and I love the New School. I can go back anytime and play like I remember, but now that I’m an adult with less time than my teenage self, I like how easy they make the game for those with busy lives. Jagex understood who their audience was, a bunch of kids who grew up and still wanted to play. But they also kept the Old School running, just because there was enough people who liked it that way.

They didn’t have to do that, but they did, because they love us. And that shows. What about you, Blizzard? Lucasfilms? Warner Bros? You guys are looking like you love your wallets a little more than your fans. Just saying…

If it wasn’t for the final point that this game is now mobile, and I can train my fishing while working on papers and blog entries, then I’d have a hard time vouching for this game. I’m grateful the original guys wanted to make a flash game that could be logged into anywhere, and now that the game is on every mobile device, Runescape is up with the current times and hopefully is here to stay for a long long time.

I love this game so much, that a lot of my future posts will be ideas for quests that Jagex can have for free, without even having to give me credit (okay maybe like a private email giving me a thumbs up, followed by a message saying, don’t tell anyone, that would be sweet). I keep a lot of story ideas and honestly, Runescape is a great place where I think one day it would be cool to see them implemented.

So I guess you could say this is the Chronic Shenanigan Syndrome’s first blog goal: Get a Quest on Runescape.

Quest Requirements: Level 99 Writing, Level 99 Charisma, Level 99 Commitment, Level 99 Begging and Pleading, Level 99 Self-Confidence, and need a ball of wool

Rewards: A private email with a thumbs up

Phew! That was a lot of gushing. Alright guys that is all I have to say for this week. I have to get back to fishing for Monkfish so I can finally get sharks (woohoo!). Let me know how you feel about the game, my thoughts, or your thoughts on my thoughts, or your thoughts on the game. If my dad is reading this, then I’m sorry for the lame jokes, and that it took fifteen years to tell you why I like something. Love you!

Cites:

Runescape- https://www.runescape.com
Settled- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs-w7E2HZWwXmjt9RTvBB_A

Shining Force IV- needs you!

I never thought there would be another Crash Bandicoot game for as long as I lived. When the series hit that weird mark of changing his appearance and added some creatures to possess and control, the dear orange marsupial had seen his end. But, much later, when Activision released the remastered trilogy, it made me happy and hopeful again, to see that interest in that icon was around, and not just around, but can still run with the big boys of gaming. It wouldn’t surprise me if Crash or Spyro became a hidden character in Smash Ultimate.

And from the ashes of series-being-reborn, is a resurgence of titles finding remastered life. MediEvil, Spyro, and Ratchet and Clank all saw glorious return-to-basics changes, with Pixar quality graphics, and storytelling, to flesh out the lack of from its early years ( B.T.W., the story of Spyro is a coming of age trial, just my head cannon).

Heck, with the Nintendo Switch, Mario, Link, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Star Fox and eventually Samus are seeing graphical updates, with new games that are making themselves the epitome of their franchise lately. Developers are currently taking a step back and looking at their ancient works to see what they can pull back and revitalize. So, its understandable why people are going crazy and reluctantly getting hopes up for their old favorites they thought were forgotten.

It even helps when said developers from twenty years ago are also interested and they verbally express interest. I bring all of this up to discuss my main idea. A while back, Hiroyuki Takahashi, head of Camelot Software Planning, said he would love to make a Shining Force IV.

What is a Shining Force?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

These… These are a Shining Force.

Back in the day (When I was born), this company called Camelot answered the call to produce an RPG to keep up with the Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, and now insane lose-your-unit-forever- craze, Fire Emblem sweeping the NES. What could someone do against three games setting the bar for superior RPG excellence? Should they keep development on their Phantasy Star series? (yes, obviously), would their efforts beat the likes of the NES? Or would it fall to the level of still well known games, but less popularity, like Ultima, or Crystalis?

Enter Sega CD4, Camelot, Sonic! Software Planning. A small team dedicated to making what would be known as the Shining series.

The Shining series started as a dungeon crawler, with units taking turns to use weapons, spells, or items. But after that success it took a brand new route, and went to a strategic, role-playing turn by turn where you had a large (or small) field, multiple units, and grid based movement taking turns to use weapons, spells, or items.

“Okay, Chronic, every other game you mentioned has that!” I hear you saying. Let me finish!

The developers combined the dungeon crawling screen, and the grid-moving action into one, smooth cohesion where you had a bird’s eye view of all your units, and the enemies, and once they collided, it would switch to a more ‘intimate’ view where your character was fully stylized and moving, swing a sword, or firing a bow. It was in this moment that the characters came alive, and they were more than just a little 8-bit collection of miniature figures. Capes waving in the wind, their chest moving up and down from breathing, wings flapping, and feet shifting really added such a depth that the sprites of Fire Emblem kind of did, but not to this extent. So yes, Shining Force raised the bar on style and deliverance of action.

I mean look at the above pictures! I love the scene of the lava below, a magical-glass floor, cliffs on either side, and the sky- blue and innocent above- really shows the clash of light versus darkness in this moment. And for those of you who know this fight, then you know the kind of clash we went up against.

Many of the games, save for Shining in the Ark, and Shining Wisdom, kept this formula, for it twas not broken, and twas not needed to be fixed. Even the games that became portable, and then later ported and remastered had this fighting mechanic. You could even buy stronger weapons, revive lost comrades, and save your game at “bases” (that term would go from a literal base, to a complete town, to just one screen of a town). Some of the bigger games even had town and field exploration. Sonic! Software Planning loved putting in hidden things for people to find, and reward the careful observer, and greater reward the truly insane. You might find a chest only a flying character can reach, or search a barrel for the town exploration to be enhanced, OR if you manage to search a cave wall with no prompt or direction and find a bikini, you could! Or how about walking down the field to fight a wimpy boss, when all of a sudden BAM, rock-head-monsters spawn out of nowhere! Or skeletons with machine guns constantly appearing during the most pivotal fight, and standing on the spot keeps them at bay.

This is all a taste of the gaming experience they produced, I haven’t even went into the Promotion system, the character bonding system, secret characters, difficulty setting, secret naming option, or the Shining story!

Speaking of story, the Shining series kept a lot of their later installments in the same universe. There were branches, and there were time lapses, but for the biggest titles, you could find the mention of Darksol, and Dark Dragon, or follow the family tree of certain important characters.

Sadly, in 1997, when they were developing their widely considered Shining Force 3, the crew was dropped, as Sega focused their attention on the Dreamcast (hilarious, I know). The poor game probably has such a unique and interesting history and renown because of what happened to it, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if it had been completely released.

Well, after putting that behind them, Sonic! Camelot became friends with Nintendo, and made them many sports games. But, they dipped their toes in RPG again and produced a fantastic series called Golden Sun.

So, it’s 2019, we have an unfinished Golden Sun series, an unfinished Shining in the Ark series, a sporadic Shining Force 3 game, and a myriad of titles stretched across every Sega platform ever crafted.

What are we as fans to do?

We need to tell them.

We need to get together and make one voice of what we want. First of all, a single place where we can get all of our Shining titles, including the missing gems: CD, Wisdom, Ark, and more importantly, working with those making an English patch to re-release Shining Force 3 as a whole.

Next, we need a conclusion to the Golden Sun series. The first two were so great, and the third title is good, but because there’s no immediate sequel, it is severely hurting us to not have a true ending.

And then after all of that, you can hit us with Shining Force IV. A return to Guardiana, a new Belzome, a new Devil, a hero becoming the villain, Camelot, we’ll leave the storytelling to you, because that’s what you’re great at. That one time we’re chasing a false king, and we’re pinched between masked enemies and a neutral territory force?
What about that other time when we have to fight our own father for the princess so we can collect her tears later?
Or that other time we spend an hour trying to cross a land-bridge because of one mechanical eye.
Or that time we’re washed up on shore with no weapons and we have to search through the wreckage to reclaim them?
The hero who doesn’t talk once, the entire game, only to say his party won’t die with him, as he teleports them to safety while he (allegedly) goes down with an ancient city?
A phoenix bird?
A baby dragon?
The sword Chaosbreaker?
…THIS GUY?

WE. NEED. MORE. ARMED. SKELETONS.

Give us your best, because your best is filled with memorable moments from gameplay and story combined. Only Camelot can produce fantasy and sci-fi elements together unlike other RPG games. And there isn’t another game that is going to give us our fix.

Start a Kickstarter! An Indiegogo, or a Fig, we’ll give you our money!

Okay, that’s the end of my rant, but before I go I want to thank Shining Force Central for being the oldest and biggest site for Shining Force lovers. I have followed their work for years, and am super proud to know of them. Also, I am giving the links to all of the sites I used to evaluate where most people stand on what they want. Also the link to Shining Force Central, where you can see what awesome things they’re up to.

Shining Force Central:
https://www.shiningforcecentral.com/?p=home

https://kotaku.com/shining-force-s-brilliant-use-of-geography-and-tactics-1825563927

https://www.resetera.com/threads/camelot-wishes-to-make-shining-force-4-and-other-camelot-and-treasures-tidbits.2030/

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2017/10/camelot_software_boss_is_keen_to_make_shining_force_iv_a_reality

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/189706-nintendo-switch/75941722

https://www.polygon.com/2018/2/21/17035780/shining-resonance-refrain-remaster-ps4-nintendo-switch-xbox-one-sega-release-date-price

http://www.camelot.co.jp/public-wpFIu30X/