bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Jan 18th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under NES, Persona 4 Golden, Dragon Quest Builders 2

2019 was probably the personal best year for gaming that I have had in a very long time.  I played nearly all of the NES games for the RFGen NES Challenge for fun (and even finished some), got a new game system (a year earlier than anticipated), and per usual ended up playing a completely different subset of gaming than I anticipated.  So, please join me as I take a final look over 2019 as we take our first steps into this year.

Back in December 2018, I really thought 2019 was going to be an RPG glut on my new Vita, interspersed with some NES gaming.  I even purchased a Hori PSVita Remote Play Assist grip, not only in anticipation of (perhaps) purchasing a PS4 on which to play the up and coming Dragon Quest Builders 2 (remotely), but also for the hundreds of hours I would be playing RPGs on the handheld system itself.  Well, I guess to put it bluntly, things didn't turn out quite the way I thought it would.

Biggest Disappointment of 2019 (Please Read Fine Print)

I'll start by prefacing that I really dig this game, like, a lot. Looking over the Looking Toward 2019 article I wrote at the beginning of last year, I can say Persona 4: Golden was easily my most anticipated game.  The intro to the story (which is about two hours and involves little gameplay) grabbed me so hard I was simply stunned; the story, the characters, the setting - all of this mashed together into something that just seemed...  magical.  And to top it off the game could be purchased new for only $20, which if you don't know is pretty good for a "must have" Vita title.  Overall, I came to this game with very high expectations, which perhaps isn't the best approach to take.

So what is the issue?  In a nutshell, twofold; I am not a fan of the high school component (didn't even like HS in real life) and I do not like the dungeons at all.  Despite this I was still able to finish Persona 4: Golden, but the daily grind of high school (irregardless of any activities) really brought the experience down for me, and coupled with the generic feel of the dungeon experience of the game, even more.  But please keep in mind that at the end I still really like the game, and if the game would have been $50 instead of $20 I still would have enjoyed it and felt like I got my money's worth, but my enjoyment is solely based on the story and characters, not my choices in the HS simulator portion of the game.  I felt more anxiety about missing important events because of my participation in jobs and culture clubs than I got enjoyment out of them, and when I tried playing the game without them the monotony of just going to school and grinding in the TV world bored me to tears.

The good part?  The story and characters are top notch, and easily rate in my personal top five JRPGs of all time.  I found the music wonderful and catchy and would regularly visit "TV Listings" menu in the title screen to listen to the tunes again.  Heck, I still do that, even though I haven't played the game in months.

I loved Persona 4: Golden, and will most definitely want to experience it again, though I will likely watch the twenty hour "movie" on YouTube instead of giving it another ninety-hour play through.

Biggest Change of 2019

As I said in the introductory paragraph, by the end of 2018 I was ready to dig into the Vita's amazing back catalog as well as some amazing gems from the PSN store, and 2019 would forever be known to me as the "Year of RPGs, Mostly on the PSVita."  Then, as a slightly early Father's Day gift my family dropped a Nintendo Switch into my lap, and everything changed. 

I still played (and play) my Vita, but with my new Switch in hand I was ecstatic, and immediately began downloading demos and building up a wishlist.  I received SNK 40th Anniversary for Father's Day just a few days later, so I had something to really sink my teeth into, but whilst doing that I also fully exploited the available Switch games at my local library. The biggest change here wasn't so much that I got the Switch, but I was not playing a lot of multiplayer with my family, everything from Mario Party to Mario Kart, and even Monopoly.  It was then that I came to the realization that this might be the best "party" system that Nintendo has released.  My family and I had played some games this way before (on my son's Switch), but this was always contingent on him either not playing the Switch (which he does quite a bit) and being in a mood to share (which he often is not).

When the Nintendo Switch Lite was announced at an unbelievable $200 USD price point, I expected to be angry, but instead I was indifferent.  I do really like the Lite's inclusion of the d-pad (the four buttons thing only goes so far for some games), but losing the ability to play multiplayer on the big screen takes away a large amount of the fun, in my household.  If I would have waited and gotten the Switch Lite, I would have still been happy, but my family would have still been beholden to my son and his barbaric rules (he makes us wash our hands before playing his Switch) when my daughter and wife just want to play a few mini-games in Mario Party.

Biggest Surprise of 2019

Some of you may already know about the dreaded "Switch Tax."  To those not in the know, it describes the increase in price that older games re-released for the Nintendo Switch get.  Some of these prices hikes tend to be rather high, but for the most part they tend to be about ten percent higher on the Switch.  Partly due to this (and partly due to my own frugality) I was practically nixing all of my general game collecting, and refused to buy anything I wasn't going to play immediately.  Enter August 14, 2019 on the "Hot Deal, Promotions, Giveaways, and Sales" thread on RFG, and our own Fleabitten informed that several 3DS games have appeared at the Five Below chain of discount stores, and for some reason I got a bee in my bonnet to pick up Yo-kai Watch.  I don't know why, as I certainly didn't like playing the demo four years ago, but I did anyway.  And because I didn't want the game to just end up in my collection and possibly never get played, I decided to dust off my New 2DS XL and pop it in.  I then wrote an article about my experience (perhaps you've read it?).  I had a surprising about of fun with the game, even inspiring me to purchase a grip accessory to make the overall experience better (I have large hands).

But it didn't stop there, because I now had Yo-kai Watch fever.  Or madness, whatever you prefer.  Next was Yo-Kai Watch 2, in which I was unwilling to wait the week an ebay purchase would require to get the "superior" Psychic Specters version, and instead bought the "inferior" Bony Spirits version at a local Walmart instead.  The amount of fun I had with this game was astronomical, despite the issues with story pacing and fetch quests.  When I realize that the madness had taken hold was when I found myself trying to decide if I should pay the inflated price of ~$75 USD for Yo-kai Watch 3 (physical) or just import the Japanese original of Yo-kai Watch 4 on Switch instead.  Considering how frugal I am with games, and the (at the time) month away release of several excellent games on the Switch, I can safely say this was out of character for me.

Favorite-est Dragon Quest game of 2019

This would seem strange if I had not actually played a large amount of DQ games this year, but I did.  Hungry for what the impending release of Dragon Quest XI S on my new Switch promised, I went through DQ IV and DQ V on the DS (silently wishing for a 16-bit  "demake" or maybe a legal way to play the SNES versions in English), then picked up DQ7 on the 3DS again.  The nice thing about DQ7 is that the story is fragmented into a large amount of "little" stories, all with their own areas and bosses, so the game feels compartmentalized in a way.  I play it once or twice a year, reviewing any notes I left for myself (and the "Story Until Now" option in one of the menus), and play a story or two, check out my character path, then turn it off.  It may not sound like fun, but it is.  Trust me.

But that wasn't enough, then the hammer dropped and suddenly we had a demo for Dragon Quest Builders 2, then shortly after that a very long demo for Dragon Quest XI S on the Switch.  Again, I was very happy and played them both, assuming that DQXI would be the clear winner of my $60 (or b-day present).  But it turned out to not be so.  See, I really want to eschew all the hard work that Squenix did on the 3D visuals (which are pretty) and play the game in 2D, 16-bit-style.  But the demo didn't have that mode available, and predictably, I lost interest after only an hour of looking at the Akira Toriyama-style non-monster character designs (which are my least favorite part of his art).  I really wanted 2D, and what I saw didn't really pique my interest all that much.

Fast forward a little while (enough for me to play through and enjoy Yo-kai Watch 1 and 2), and I began playing Dragon Quest Builders 2, and wow, just wow!  Overall, the game feels far more dynamic than the previous game, and doesn't quite stick to the same formula, which at first blush really bummed me out (I really loved the first!) but it didn't take long to grow on me.  There is just so much to do and see in the game, it reminds me (in that aspect) of Yo-kai Watch 2, where at every turn there is something else to catch my attention and mess around with. DQB2, like most DQ games, manages to appear fairly simple but contain a massive depth, and though it is not a mainline Dragon Quest game, it perfectly shows why the DQ series is king of the JRPGs

To those on the fence about DQB2 I say just do it, especially if you liked the first game.  Given this is a Nintendo system, don't expect this game to go down in price, so jump on it while you can.

Well, that is all.  This year was great for gaming for the most part, and while it likely won't end all that well for gaming (personally), 2019 will easily be remembered by me as a wonderfully dense year of NES games, retro compilations and remakes, discovery of a new franchise, and a lot of gaming on Nintendo systems (that aren't twenty years old).

Thanks for reading!

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Sounds like a great year! I need to get DQ Builders 1 & 2. I was on the fence about them, but EZ Racer let me play his copy of DQB, and I thought it was pretty fun. I just haven't followed up with a purchase yet. But it's on my list, and something I think I would enjoy putting more time into.

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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