When Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix released a week ago, I came up with the bright idea of playing Kingdom Hearts Final Mix on Final Mix: Proud difficulty. I figured that I already beat the game on Normal years ago, so the added challenge might be refreshing, and there’s also a Trophy in store for accomplishing the feat. This is a decision I am regretting now.
Final Mix: Proud is flat-out frustrating and demoralizing. The game already suffers from camera issues and somewhat stiff combat mechanics as it is, but these issues are far, far less pronounced on Normal. On Proud, they simply become more debilitating as every move counts and one wrong move could mean the end of you, especially in boss fights. It’s become so infuriating that I have actually avoided fights just to progress because some fights become drawn-out affairs and Goofy and Donald are knocked out constantly, leaving me to my own devices as reviving them would simply be a waste of much-needed mana that is used for my own survival. I’m currently on the fight with Chernabog, but having difficulty finishing him off because as soon as he starts launching firrballs, it’s over as I can’t dodge them and can’t survive them, either. It reached the point where I went on Facebook last night and announced that I was done trying to finish the game on Proud.
Then, I sat down and did some thinking and I realized that I’m actually missing some crucial stuff. I don’t have Curaga, I only have Aero, and I don’t even have the Oblivion keyblade. I’ve been having trouble completing the Hercules Cup in the Olympus Coliseum, which leads to learning the Yellow Trinity and thus makes getting Aerora impossible, which is why that is not upgraded. I then thought, though, that I want to collect all of the Dalmatians, which leads to an Aero upgrade, and activate all of the Trinities anyway, so I’ve decided that I’m going to go back and collect all of these while leveling up in the process. Perhaps this will make things easier for me in the long run, as even if I defeat Chernabog, Ansem is probably going to hand my ass to me, so I better be ready.
Proud difficulty is frustrating, yes, but I think part of the problem was me neglecting things simply so I could push through the difficulty and get the playthrough over with. In essense, Proud difficulty ruined the experience for me, but I’m going to try and finish it. I simply hate leaving things unfinished, especially a great game like Kingdom Hearts.
It finally happened, folks. Operation Rainfall came full circle last month when Pandora’s Tower launched for the Nintendo Wii, serving as a sendoff for the insanely successful console. The voices of gamers across the nation were heard by the industry, and while Nintendo of America themselves barely foot the bill after getting an exclusive deal with GameStop for Xenoblade Chronicles and allowing XSEED Games to publish both The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower, at least the games finally hit North American shores. The dust has settled and one of the largest campaigns in industry history has become a success. I, for one, really ponder how much of a success such an endeavor was, though.
Now, hear me out. I don’t deny the fact that a crap-ton of gamers banding together for a common cause was in any way, shape, or form not a triumph. It was, and it was wonderful to be a part of it by posting on Facebook and Twitter to Nintendo of America, demanding these games. I have to think of what we all received out of the deal in terms of the quality of the games. When this campaign launched, I had already heard of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story and really wanted them to come stateside, as the development teams behind them have reputations that precede them. I never heard of Pandora’s Tower, and if you’ve read my recent review, I wish I never had, but buying and playing it was an obligation; I merely followed through on my word that I would buy the game as part of the campaign. After playing all three titles, I can’t help but think that the campaign may have indeed been a waste.
I’ll start on a positive note. Xenoblade Chronicles was good. It was a bit too long for its own good, didn’t have the greatest pacing, and the characters and plot weren’t overly remarkable, but the battle system felt fresh and the open nature of the environments made for some memorable sights. I had a good time with it, and while it certainly isn’t Monolith Soft’s greatest work, it was definitely one of the better titles on the Wii, which isn’t a hard feat to accomplish given the paltry selection of quality titles on the all-but-dead console. The issues with the selection of games we received from the campaign starts with The Last Story.
Hironobu Sakaguchi is a genius. His work on the Final fantasy series and Lost Odyssey were nothing short of amazing, so of course, my hopes were high on The Last Story being just as fantastic. What we received, however, was a boring, poorly-developed story that ended too soon, had one of the most unmemorable cast of characters I’ve ever seen, and was dragged even further down by a shoddy framerate, bland visuals, and a laughable combat system that completely failed to find its identity. The only redeeming element of it was the work of composer Nobuo Uematsu, and even then, this was some of his worst work to date, with only a few standout tracks. Needless to say, I felt like The Last Story was a complete and utter waste.
Pandora’s Tower was a chance for redemption, and while it wasn’t a game I would have picked up normally, my obligation is what led me to purchasing it. The game was just flat-out bad, with only the boss fights being any sort of redeeming quality. Everything else was either boring or broken. If you’re keeping score, this means that Operation Rainfall has a record of 1-2, as in one winning game and two losers. This is what obligated me to write this. I sat down and thought out how on Earth we benefitted from the campaign seeing as two of the three games were garbage. It honestly feels like a wasted effort, and I feel entirely let down about it all.
With that kind of mentality, though, I’d be missing the bigger picture. So two of the games sucked. So what? The journey and effort of getting those games here was a monumental one. Operation Rainfall proved that gamers can band together peacefully for a common cause and that we’re not the stuck-up, incorrigible, and childish crowd stereotypes label us as. People took to Facebook, Twitter, and snail mail to prove to Nintendo that they wanted these games, myself included. And it worked. Like I said, Nintendo shouldn’t take all of the credit for listening, not by a long shot, but, damn, did it work.
What about the fallout of it all, though? Has it made gamers too demanding of publishers, as if we’re owed something? Since Operation Rainfall, I’ve witnessed more and more people being vocal, both with their words and their wallets. People demanded more Tales games. Namco-Bandai issues an ultimatum, saying either Tales of Graces F sells decently, or the franchise is essentially dead in North America. What happened? People spread the word around, causing many more to buy it up, myself included, and now we’re getting Tales of Xillia this year. EA included micro-transactions in Dead Space 3. The result? It fails to meet sales goals as people complain about EA nickel and diming them. How about the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco? People complained so much that Bioware made an “extended cut” ending to shut them up. There have been both positive and negative ramifications, clearly. I’m still unhappy about the Mass Effect 3 deal, myself. That was an example of how blatantly gutsy and entitled some gamers have become, and it actually makes me sick.
In the end, it really all depends on how you look at it. From a game standpoint, it wasn’t really worth it, with two weak titles coming our way, though we did ask for them. On the other hand, though, it showed us the power of gamers banding together for a common cause, as well as sparking future campaigns and vocal protests, both good and bad. To me, the campaign has its upside for sure, but after a poor selection of games and some of the entitlement gamers have developed over the past couple years, I can’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t the best thing for us after all.
Look what came in the mail for me today! After a delay with Amazon receiving their allotted copies, my copy of Persona 4 Golden was delivered just before noon this morning. I was a little concerned after they initially pushed the delivery date back to December 19th, but thankfully, it worked itself out, and now I have a rare Collector’s Edition. Atlus only printed 10,000 copies of this edition and pre-orders sold out quickly, so I’m very fortunate to have gotten my hands on one. Of course, every game is meant to played, so I opened my copy because this isn’t something I plan on reselling and will be a cool showpiece for my collection. Not only that, I’ve held off on buying Persona 4 for a long time, and I hear it’s a unique and enjoyable Japanese RPG. Here are some pics of this highly collectable package.
The front and back cover of the outer box. I was fortunate for this to come without any damage, considering I’ve heard reports of some Amazon orders coming in bubble envelopes, where the box would actually be crushed. Mine came in a box with air packets, thankfully. The logo on the front is actually embossed, making this box a real showpiece.
All of the goodies this $70 edition contains, except the faceplate is inside the zipper case, which I’ll show in a later pic.
Two sheets of stickers featuring characters from the game. I haven’t actually played it, yet, so I don’t know who these folks are, but if you have something to decorate, these would certainly do the job. I probably won’t use them as I’d be afraid to ruin them.
This is a skin for the face of the Vita. I’m not too keen on sticking things on my consoles and handhelds, so this will stay in the wrapping, but it’s cool nonetheless. If you read the part on the screen portion, you can actually download wallpapers for the Vita that match the skin, so it all looks like one seamless image. Nice touch.
Here is the zipper case/pouch, manufactured by Hori. It’s sturdy and has a hard outer shell, but with a smooth texture to it, just like Hori’s other Vita cases (one of which I own and love). The art on it is pretty neat and compliments the game well. The inside features a flap that holds three game cards.
Here is the face cover I was telling you about. This actually houses the entire system, and isn’t just a faceplate that attaches to the Vita, as it doesn’t have any hardware expansion ports like the two threaded holes it’s predecessor, the PlayStation Portable, had. As this came in the package inside the zipper pouch, this can obviously be used in tandem with it.
Some pics of the game itself. Note that I only took a pic of the game card, as Vita titles do not include physical manuals, so the rest of the case is empty. I’m quite fond of the cover art, as busy as it is. It just seems eye-catching and interesting. This version of Persona 4 includes new content that the original version on the PS2 did not have, which includes a new character, additional dungeons and events, online features that allow you to gain stat boosts by having other players cheer you on, and, a Vita staple, Trophy support. The visuals have also been updated to take advantage of the increased horsepower of the Vita.
All in all, this is a really cool package for the money and I’m happy to have it in my collection. Hopefully, I can get started on this soon, once I wrap up Hitman trophies and PlayStation All-Stars. Until next time, folks, and thanks for reading!