Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate – The Missing Piece to the Puzzle (Backlog Tale)

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was the black sheep of the series to me. Generations was a celebration of the Monster Hunter series up to the point before Monster Hunter World came along and made the whole experience better. From revisiting old locations, both village and hunting grounds, old monsters returning, and familiar faces interacting and giving you quests, this should have easily been one of the best Monster Hunter games to play. I tried. I really tried when it came out. I could not find any enjoyment out of the game. For some reason, it took six years (starting from Generations on the 3DS) for me to appreciate this game for what it is. I now hold this game in a positive light from the dark corner I once casted it into.

Let’s travel back to 2016. Young adult me has been enjoying Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, when he hears that a new Monster Hunter is coming out that summer. Natural reaction, excited for it! I preorder not only the game, but the New 3DS model that was releasing along with it (I was in the market for a New 3DS anyway). July 15, 2016 comes around and the game…feels mediocre. Monster Hunter Generations starts off incredibly slow. There is a lot of information presented to you about the new mechanics of the game and how you can travel to different locations from previous games. The quests that you go on at the beginning all consist of gathering and slaying small groups of monsters. It isn’t until Village Quest Level 2 that you start to hunt the large monsters; which consist of the beginning large monsters like the Great Maccao, the Gendrome, and Cephadrome. These are good beginner monsters, but it slows the momentum of the game when you want to get to the good stuff. For a game that is a celebration of the Monster Hunter series up to that point, it felt more geared to players who were new to the series.

That was the point where I felt disconnected with the game. I had spent hours in 3U and 4U that being forced to start from square one again felt restrictive. I could have just ignored the village quests and head straight for the Hub quest, but I am the type of person who likes to do all of the quests if I can; and going back to the Village quest after doing the Hub would have been rough.* At that time of my life I was impatient. I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t stand how slow the game felt. To damper my spirits even more, Monster Hunter Generations did not include G Rank in the game. Not only was the game moving slowly, but the challenge I was looking for at the end was not included in the game. This isn’t the first time a Monster Hunter game was designed like this, but after 3U and 4U were released to the West, we would get the definitive version of the game.

*In Monster Hunter, you have a set of quests that you work on solo (Village) or with others (Hub). Village quests are designed to let new players become familiar with locals and monsters that you hunt. Village quests start on low rank and end at high rank. Hub quests are similar to village quests, but have some differences. The most noticeable difference is that the stats of the monster will adjust for the number of participants for the hunt. There are also certain monsters that only appear in the Hub area. In earlier games, the Hub was the only way to access G Rank hunts. This was changed in Monster Hunter World and Rise where an expansion would grant access to Master Rank.

The definitive version of Generations did come out, but not here in the States. Monster Hunter XX (Double Cross) was released on March 18, 2017 in Japan only and would get a Nintendo Switch release later that year on August 28, 2017. With Capcom originally stating that Monster Hunter XX was not coming to the states, my enthusiasm to play Generations quickly faded. It didn’t help that on June 12, 2017, we learned that Monster Hunter World was in development and was releasing early 2018. You could take one look at World and then Generations and decide on which game you would want to spend time playing. For all intents and purposes, my interest in Generations should have died then and there, but it didn’t.

Out of nowhere, Capcom announced on May 10, 2018 (four months after World released) that Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was coming worldwide on August 28, 2018. To legacy Monster Hunter players, this is what they were waiting for. For me, I was almost done with most things in World. I had no interest in returning to Generations in any shape or form, so I bought the game day one in order to give it another try. My interest in Monster Hunter was at an all time high after playing through World. Surely the momentum would help me see this game in a new light. Can you guess what happened next?

Where can I find the Minecraft shield?

I still disliked the game. Playing World and then going back to the old school style of Monster Hunter did not help at all! I had gotten used to the bounty of quality of life changes in World that most things just irritated me. It also didn’t help Capcom didn’t bother doing anything with the visuals since it looks like a 3DS game with a sprinkle of improvement (3U on the Wii U looked better than this).  I managed to get to High Rank in the Village quests, but I couldn’t find a playstyle that felt good to me. I hated the feeling of being slow and constantly forgetting items that I needed for hunts. There was nothing that I could do to make the game enjoyable for me, so I placed it on my shelf and left it as one of the many unfinished games on my backlog. There it sat for the next four years, waiting and binding its time for the right moment. Which brings us to a few weeks ago this year.

At an event where I was able to see some of my old college buddies, I was able to reconnect with my old hunting buddy (for the rest of the story I will call him Knivitor). Knivitor loves Monster Hunter as much as I do, but he is definitely more experienced than I am. His go to Monster Hunter game right now is Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. To him, it is one of the best Monster Hunter games even though he really liked World and Rise. When I mentioned that we should hunt more often, he asked if I wanted to play Generations Ultimate. I agreed with the pretense that this is what I might have been missing this whole time. I warned him that I was at Hunter Rank 1 and that it would take some time before I reached his level. All he did was flex his Hunter Rank 163 badge at me and said “Don’t worry. We got this.”

The coolest character in any Monster Hunter game.

In one week, I went from doing Low Hunter Rank 1 quest to G Rank level 2 quest. Was this from Knivitor carrying me all the way to this point? Most definitely. However, something along this journey awakened in me. All of my past experience with Monster Hunter came flowing back into me, and suddenly I was holding my own in most fights. While I switched around deciding on the Sword and Shield and the Switch Axe, I finally went back to my roots and picked up the Great Sword again. Once I did that, all the fun I had while playing Tri, 3U, and 4U all came back to me. I was trying so hard to adapt to the new, different ways to play the game that I never adapted back to playing the way I used to. Even though I was rocking the low rank Rathalos armor set during the final fights in High Rank, I was having fun using my skills and experience to become this glass cannon with a big sword. Even when we ended our group sessions for the night, I found myself wanting to play more of it and get some things done on my own just so we could press on through G Rank (he really wants me to fight the White Fatalis). The game has been on my mind constantly and most of my free time now is spent playing this and Rise (just started the Sunbreak expansion on Switch and blazing through the quests on PC).

These two bastards are my favorite.

So what happened? How did this game go from one of my least favorite games in the series to one of my all time highs? I guess the simple answer is that I started to play the game in a different way. I have been a very solo hunter these past years and I can definitely say that playing with others completely changes things. The strategy, the banter, the laughing and reacting to things that happen during the hunt turned the game into a completely different experience. I’m no longer playing the game just to get through the hunts and make it to the end. I’m now eagerly awaiting the next hunt with friends on my quest to regain my lost power. When I’m hunting solo, it is no longer about just checking off quests that I need to do; it’s now about getting the materials that I need to craft better things so that I’m ready for the next hunting session. My mind is all about making myself better just so I can enjoy hunting with my friends without being the one who gets carted the most. A simple change in perspectives helped me realize why a lot of veteran hunters still prefer this game over World and Rise.

The good times will not last forever. Eventually we might drift apart again or another game will come out that takes up our time. I think the best thing this revisit to Generations Ultimate did was help me revisit my glory days of playing Monster Hunter. With a game that celebrates the series as a whole up to that point, the one thing that I was missing with the experience was playing with other people. Now that the package feels complete, I feel like Generations Ultimate is one of the best Monster Hunter experiences that I’ve had after World. It’s too bad that the game feels out of date for anyone who started with World and the phrase “Monster Hunter on Nintendo Switch” makes people want to vomit for some reason. It is hard for me to recommend this game to others since Monster Hunter has become more accessible to people thanks to World and Rise. Believe me, I will not stop playing those games just because I found a new obsession with this game. If anything, I want to enjoy playing this game before the next Monster Hunter completely shadows it and becomes the next definitive Monster Hunter experience. From this point on, I won’t be afraid to open my hub up to random players who just want to hang out and hunt monsters with other players who enjoy doing the same thing. It can help turn a lackluster experience into one of the best times that you can have.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Statistics

Release Date: August 28, 2018
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Date First Started: August 28, 2018
Date Finished: September 4, 2022
Platform Played On: Nintendo Switch
Total Playtime: 90 Hours

Number of Quest Completed: 270 (At the time of this writing)
Weapon(s) of Choice: Great Sword, Sword and Shield, Switch Axe
Skills Used: Handicraft, Light Eater, Unscathed
Style: Guild
Hunter Arts Used: Absolute Evasion, Lion’s Maw II, Shoryugeki II
Palicos: Nico and Moonlight
Favorite Hunting Ground: Deserted Island (Where it all started)
Favorite Monsters to Hunt: Rathlos, Malfestio, Lagiacrus, Astalos, Gore Magala, Shagaru Magala, Valstrax

Bonus Gallery

Backlog Report – August 2022

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Why does my body hurt in the morning?

Hello all. I didn’t plan on going semi-MIA in August. Work really picked up for me and I have been too exhausted to do much. Any down time I have was spent taking time to myself or getting other small tasks done. September is not going to be any prettier, but I do hope I can write more since I really miss doing it. I have reached the point in my life where I need coffee to function properly at work, so the Keurig I got for my office will get its usage (all hail the magic bean).

I only wrote one thing this month, so I am going to omit my blog post section. I do know that when I do get time to write, I want it to be something positive since I’ve had a lot of negatives around me. I don’t want to take my frustration out on a game or a topic that doesn’t really deserve it (and vice versa, I don’t want to spend the time searching for something deserving of my rage). The list of topics for me to talk about continues to grow, but my time and energy to thoughtfully write them out continues to shrink. I can only continue to do what I’ve been doing and that is to write snippets of things every time something comes to mind. Hopefully, those snippets turn into full paragraphs that I can then use as “material.” Any who, I do appreciate everyone who reads my stuff and I’m sorry that I can’t do it as often (or maybe I shouldn’t be sorry since this is just a hobby? I don’t know. I’m tired…).

One thing that I have been very grateful for is my time spent playing with other people. Most of my gaming lately has been with others who give me the excuse to stop what I’m doing to join them in some fun. It’s been a blast playing Elden Ring with my regular friends, but now I’m also playing it with Meghan and Omni when our times line up. If this goes well maybe I can convince them into trying a Bloodborne multiplayer run! I also reconnected with my old Monster Hunter buddy and we have been tearing through Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. We have been working on getting me to G Rank along with his partner and another friend of ours. It has really reignited my love for Monster Hunter, and it feels so good being in a full group of four and taking less than five minutes to kill each target (that will change once we reach G Rank). These moments are going to carry me a lot for the next couple of months, and I am going to try my hardest to keep these connections strong.

Finished Games This Month

I wasn’t able to get anything done this month (sad trombone noise).

Games Added This Month

Xenosaga Episode III: Also sparch Zarathustra (PS2)

You are all now in a binding contract to never tell Kat how much I spent to get this game. I have been holding off buying this game for a while and finally decided to complete the set. I came to the conclusion that this game will never get cheap, so I bought it when I saw it was available through my reliable source. My goal was to originally get this on my birthday since I could justify it. Now that I have this game, I’m sure Monolith or Bandai are working on rereleasing this trilogy as we speak. The hole in my wallet is my gift to all of you if these games get released on modern platforms within the next year or so.

Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition (PC)

In my enduring quest to play all of the Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy XI Online is a game that I have to play. I do own the game for the Xbox 360, but I think playing this game on PC is the better option. Plus, it was on sale for $7, so it wasn’t a hard pass for me.

Monark

Meh. I saw a copy online for cheap, so I went with the purchase. I was interested in the game when it was first announced, but I knew it was going to be one of those games that I would get later down the road. Hopefully I don’t get around to this within the next year or so.

Prinny Presents: NIS Classics Vol. 3 (La Pucelle: Ragnarok / Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure)

Volume three of this collection may be the best one to get. La Pucelle: Ragnarok is a remake of the PS2 game that never released outside of Japan. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is an elusive game that came out on the PS and DS. Having these titles on the Switch and PC will make these games much more accessible.

Currently Playing

All month, I have been focused on playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3. So much in fact, that I have over 60 hours in the game and about halfway done I think?? I feel like I could have finished this game sooner, but Monolith has finally found a way to make their side quests worth doing this time around. I’ve tried to avoid doing some of them, but they do give you rewards like new heroes and unlocking the limits on classes that you have. I will say that I do not appreciate some story resolutions locked behind the optional quests. All in all though, every time I think I’m burnt out from this game, I get to the conclusion of the chapter and it hooks me straight back in. I should hopefully have this done by the end of September (I have other games I want to play…)

Thanks to my (monster) hunting buddy, I have been playing a lot of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. This was my least favorite Monster Hunter title, but I now have a new appreciation for it. I think playing with other people makes that game ten times better than struggling alone. I’m going to save the rest of my thoughts about the game for a later time. I need to get Sunbreak at some point since I really want to play through the expansion now.

The other game that I somehow went back to is Overwatch. The glory days of this game are gone, but I found it fun to replay when I needed to find other things to get mad at besides work and repetitive RPG side quests. I dare say that I’m looking forward to trying out Overwatch 2 when it comes out at some point (I don’t remember the date and I’m too tired to look it up).

I think that’s everything that’s been going on with me. I’m going to test and see what kills me first: work or these never ending side quests.

Til next time.

Learning Things About Myself – The End of My 50/50 Challenge

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

A year ago today, I challenged myself to lose 50 pounds and finish 50 games off my backlog. I decided on this challenge right after I had completed my Master’s program. I needed something to fill the void and to keep myself aiming for some goal or I would just sit around and feel miserable. Now that the challenge is over, I can share with you all my results and what I’ve learned from this experience.

After a year of working on my backlog and weight loss, here are my results:

Weight loss: Loss between 5-10 pounds (Can’t give accurate number since my scale started to act weird)

Games Finished: 29/50

Hooray I didn’t do it! To be completely honest, I knew that I wasn’t going to meet my goals. This is not me trying to sound defeatist. I try to not gave up on my goals at any time, but I didn’t put in all the effort that I know I’m capable of. If anything, this challenge has helped me understand more about myself that I was unaware of.

The Observation

I will say that the biggest thing that I have learned about myself is that I don’t like to do what I tell myself to do. It is bizarre and weird for different reasons. I am the type of person who will drop anything that I am doing to do any request asked of me. That trait is thanks to my upbringing (for better or worse), and I never hesitate to help others when asked (within reason). That doesn’t apply when I tell myself what I want/need to do. I will actively fight with myself over the things that I need to do over what I want to do. For example, if someone told me that I need to wash the dishes, I will get up and do it with little to no fuss. When I tell myself that I need to wash the dishes, I will mellow over it until I finally do it…a few hours or days later. It could be something subconsciously that weighs other’s tasks more important than mine, but that is a whole can of worms for another time.

So how did this affect my challenge? First and foremost, this was a self-imposed challenge that I gave myself. I was doing this for myself and no one else, so naturally I was going to stop caring about it sooner or later. Unlike other projects of mine, like this blog or my spreadsheet projects, I didn’t have the same amount of passion for it. Sure I was determined to make my goals, but at the end of the day it was just for me so my subconscious rejected it. This was very evident in my weight loss goal where I saw the least results in. The desire to lose weight is there, but the only motivator that I have is myself; and since I hate myself apparently, the motivation gets lost pretty quick. I thought talking about it would help keep me accountable, but no one (IRL) was keeping me to my word or encouraging me to keep going. Without that, I saw it as something only I wanted.

Video games are different apparently. Playing games has always been for my enjoyment, so playing through them is for my sole benefit. The problem came from my attitude when choosing and playing the games I want to play. Earlier this year, I made a post about the games that I wanted to finish this year and how they were going to be a priority for me. So far, I have finished 3 out of the 15 that I said I was going to do. Yes I still have time this year to get them done, but I no longer have a strong desire to do so back when I had the desire to play them. Kat was the one who actually pointed this out to me. I have a hard time agreeing to play games that people recommend to me. I tend to play only what I feel like playing right in the moment. When it came to deciding what games I should play for this challenge, the easiest thing that I could have done was to find all the games I had that could have been finished in the shortest time. That felt like cheating in some way. If I shied away from them during this period, then I would shy away from them in the future in my decision making. Being actively engaged with what I’m playing makes the hours-long RPGs go by faster since most of my time is spent only on them rather than sharing the game time with two to three other games. I know the response to this is “well duh,” but this is me that we are talking about.

The Positives

This whole challenge was not a bust. I did learn a lot about myself and what makes me tick. I also have started new habits that will benefit me in the long run.

My diet has changed drastically. In the past I have cut out soda and other sugary drinks, but now I’ve cut off almost all of those types of drinks by 98%. I will have one now and again, but now I gravitate more towards diet or zero sugar versions of those drinks (which are still not the best). Fast food no longer appeals to me. I now start to feel great discomfort whenever I eat at most places. I already didn’t eat a lot before, but now my portion sizes and what I eat have greatly diminished. The only thing holding me back are gummy candy since it gives me something to gnaw on while I’m playing or working on things. My hope is that my improved diet will help me reduce my calorie intake and start seeing small results there.

In addition to that, I do have some neat additions that will hopefully steer me to do better things. I convinced my boss that I needed a new desk for my office, so now I have an adjustable table where I can choose to sit or stand. I also keep a resistance band in my drawer so I can do some workouts during my breaks. For at home, I now have a workout bike on each floor, so now I have no excuse for when I feel like peddling.

With gaming, not much has changed. Now that I understand how my brain ticks, I have been playing more games to completion. According to my data, I have finished more games during this challenge than I have in any other year since 2017 when I started tracking. Currently, I am on track to finishing the most games than I ever have by the end of the year. This is good to know since I have so many games in the backlog to finish.

The Future

So what would I like to do with all of this information? For starters, I think it will be beneficial for me to either join others who are trying to lose weight or hire a personal trainer. I’m fortunate enough to have options via my job, so I may look into those benefits. It’s weird to think that I’m more motivated to do something if I know that others are willing to participate with me.

There are not a whole lot of changes that I need to do with gaming. The only real change is for me to start playing what I feel like playing and not something out of obligation. 

If I decide to do something like this again in the future, I think I will take some more time to prepare myself and be absolutely ready on day one. This doesn’t conclude my weight loss or backlog goals. Rather, I see this as a new outlook on what I want to accomplish in the future and what I need to do in order to see it through.

Backlog Report – July 2022

Hello July. Goodbye July. Another month has come and gone in what feels like a bullet train ride through the year. Despite the hot and sticky weather, I will try and cherish these last few days of good mental health before hell starts to break loose. Gaming and writing may take a back seat in the months to come.

This month marks the end of the 50/50 Challenge that I started last year. A post about my results and what I’ve learned will come out shortly after this post. Since I haven’t really been talking about it lately, you can kinda guess how that went.

In other boring news (but really exciting for me), I am almost done cataloging all of the video game guides and art books that I’ve been collecting. This should have been done sooner when I first decided that I was interested in collecting them, but it can also be fun cataloging things in a huge batch. I just have a few more to go since most non-guidebooks are kept in a different room. I want to write about why I’m seeking out these old guide books lately and what makes them interesting to have in 2022. My next inventory project will be to record all of the game systems that Kat and I own.


Blog Posts This Month

Kirby and the Forgotten Abilities (Backlog Tale) – While I enjoyed my time playing through Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. If you played through it and thought something was missing, maybe the structure of Kirby’s abilities was the culprit.

Finishing the Final Game in the Final Fantasy Advance Ports – Final Fantasy V (Backlog Tale) – I found Final Fantasy V to be lackluster, but that is a fault to the day and age that I played it (and games similar to it that I’ve played). While it is a classic game and has one of the best job systems in the mainline series, its spiritual successors like Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler have evolved the concept.


Games Finished This Month

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV

The meme is now over. After 168 hours and playing this game in chunks over the past year and a half, I have finally finished this part in the overlapping saga. If my tear ducts would work properly, I would have sobbed at the end. After getting to know these characters all these years and watching them grow into the heroes they become gave me so many emotions. I’m glad that I decided to randomly pick up this series since it has been an overall good experience for the most part. I would like to say that I am caught up on the current series, but I still have the Sky and Crossbell games to play through before I view all of the pieces in this epic saga. Just give me five to ten years to do all of that…

Gunstar Heroes

This is a blast from the past. I don’t have as much nostalgia for the Sega Genesis like I do with the Super Nintendo. There are a few games on the Genesis that are very nostalgic for me, and Gunstar Heroes is one of those games. We used to play this a lot at my cousin’s house, but we could never beat it due to its high difficulty toward the end. Thanks to the Sega Genesis library via Nintendo Switch Online, my brother and I were able to put this game to rest in a little over three hours. The game still holds up great despite all of the flashing lights (developers loved their epilepsy flashers back in the day). If you have never played this game with someone, now is one of the best times since you can play it with someone online.

Final Fantasy VII

Would it surprise you if I told you that I have never finished this game before? I have played it in the past, but I lost access to it right when I got to the Northern Crater. Despite owning an original copy of the game, I went with the PS4 version since the achievement list would encourage me to see all that the game had to offer. Additionally, turbo mode made getting through some sections a big time saver (wish all JRPGs had a turbo button). Overall, I really enjoyed this game and understand why so many people are fond of it. I appreciate Cloud as a character way more since I finally understand the type of character he is. I’m excited to see the events of Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth and the third game now that I have a better understanding of how the main game’s events flow (the final Midgar raid better be epic). I will now take back my JRPG Player card now that I have finished this game proper.


Games Added This Month

Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore

I wasn’t planning on getting many games this month after last month’s splurge fest. Of course deals would pop up that would be too good for me to resist. The first game that I was able to find cheap was Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore. I have wanted to try this game for a while, but didn’t feel like hooking up my Wii U just to play this. Hopefully I will find the time to play it soon since it is a good game from what I’ve heard.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

I completely forgot that I got this game this month (for some reason I thought it was last month). I’ve enjoyed the Phoenix Wright series due to its suspenseful nature. I need to finish the rest of the series past Apollo Justice at some point before bringing this game to the stand.

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town

This is a game that I’ve been waiting to get. Not only does it feed into my Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons collecting as of late, but it is technically a remake of one of the better games in the series. I would also like to point out that the case for this game is amazing since the reverse cover is a redesign of the Japanese box art for Friends of Mineral Town. I wish more companies would be creative with their cover art.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

I had no intention of getting this game, but for $10 USD I can be persuaded to give anything a try. After looking at game footage I’m starting to wonder why I wouldn’t be interested in this. I will have to give this game a try soon just so I don’t forget that I have it.

Harvest Moon 2, Harvest Moon 3 GBC, & Harvest Moon (SNES)

Yup. I’m back to collecting different versions of Harvest Moon. With the 3DS and Wii U shop closing soon, these may be the last games that I’m interested in getting on either system. Harvest Moon 64 is also available on the Wii U shop, but I’ve decided that I’m going to look for an authentic copy of the game (there are so many replications online). Good luck finding a cheap copy of Harvest Moon for the SNES once the store closes since that is a crazy expensive game.

Mario Golf Toadstool Tour & Mario Power Tennis

We can all agree that the Mario sports games have been extremely lackluster as of late. The whole “release the game now and we will add the rest of the content later” does not work with a full price game and Nintendo has ruined a lot of popular titles with this development model. I’m going to get off this topic now before this turns into an essay. I have never owned these titles despite really liking Mario Golf and Tennis on the N64. For some reason my older brother never had the urge to get these. I was able to find them both complete for a good price; and that means a lot considering that they are Gamecube games. 

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

If I hadn’t finished the other two Xenoblade games recently, I wouldn’t be as excited to play this. With both games’ stories still fresh in my memory, it’s best to play this now and dodge any potential spoilers that will be posted online next week (because people can’t help themselves). Will report once I get further into the game.

Digimon Survive

I felt bad for Digimon Survive. We’ve known about this game since 2018 and it’s finally being released….the same day as Xenoblade 3. That’s not their fault since Nintendo bumped XC3’s date up from its original September date. It is Bandai’s fault for not marketing this game until the last few months. It looks like a really good game with a mix of tactics RPG and visual novel segments. I wanted to support this game because I know this will be found in the bargain bin soon and considered a semi-flop (or maybe not since physical copies are slim).


Currently Playing

I wrapped up Final Fantasy VII for the first time. Despite the frustration I got while trying to navigate some areas, the original game still holds up greatly. I appreciate the whole FF7 universe now that I have a better understanding of the characters and world (I didn’t remember much from the first time I played it). Consider me excited to see where Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth goes and how the Remake project will conclude.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t played enough of Xenoblade 3 to give a formal opinion. I can only assume that I’m enjoying my time with the game and annoying people on the socials about it. This is where I will be for a while.

Once I’m done with Xenoblade 3, I want to take a break from long RPGs and break out into some other genres for a while. Maybe I will start playing through all of these Harvest Moon games since I will need something relaxing to play after work in the coming months. 


And that’s all I got this month. What are your plans and goals for this month? Try to stay cool out there.

Finishing the Final Game in the Final Fantasy Advance Ports – Final Fantasy V (Backlog Tale)

Image from Final Fantasy Wiki

I never really grew up with the Final Fantasy series. My first encounter with the games was watching my older cousins play Final Fantasy VII whenever we would visit them. It wouldn’t be until the re-releases on the GameBoy Advance that I would properly play through the games. I had Final Fantasy 1&2 Dawn of Souls, followed by Final Fantasy VI Advance, and then Final Fantasy IV Advance. The only game in the series that I never got around to buying was Final Fantasy V Advance. The game never really appeared in the stores that I encountered, and I had since given up on finding it. That all changed in 2016 when I discovered one of my favorite retro game stores [include link to estarland] and decided to mark the occasion by completing my set. Now six years later after obtaining it, I have finally played and finished Final Fantasy V Advance. Was it worth the wait? No really.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of FFV, here’s the brief. The world is slowly losing the power of the crystals after overabusing them. Noticing the weak state of the wind, the king of Tycoon heads off to the Wind Crystal with his daughter following behind. At the same time, a meteorite crashes near the castle carrying a man who has lost his memories. All the while, an adventurer with his trusty Chocobo happens to be in the area and rescues the princess near the crash site. The two team up with the asmethic man to investigate the Wind Crystal while picking up a pirate captain on the way. They soon witness the Wind Crystal shatter before them and then are tasked with protecting the remaining crystals with the new powers they have been bestowed. The rest of the story follows how they continue to fail to protect anything and lose a lot of people and places along the way. They eventually defeat the evil being known as Exdeath and somehow restore balance to the world.

If my story explanation seemed rushed at the end, that explains how I felt about the story in this game. The story was the weakest part of the game to me. It felt subpar to me if you consider the game that came before this and the one that came after. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI had a good story foundation that was carried greatly by their characters. The journey of Cecil is interesting to see him go from a dark knight to a paladin. The cast of FFVI all have their story motivation and you understand each of their motivations in both acts. FFV has a good plot to it, but none of the characters have a lasting motivation that carries from start to finish. You are given a reason why they are on this journey and small sections here and there to what keeps them going. There is little interest in these characters since they are not the main attraction in this game. If this game came out before FFIV, I believe that it would have more notoriety since future titles really started to focus on the character developments within the story.

The main attraction in this game is the new and improved job system. FFV allows you to fully customize your characters in any way that you see fit. Every time you fail to save a crystal, you are given shards of power that contain a new job for the group. Instead of worrying about your character level, the idea is to level up your job experience to unlock job abilities and stat growth.. While each character can only be assigned one job at a time, you do have the ability to assign a secondary action from any job that you have leveled up. This means you can have a knight who can cast black magic, a white mage with monk abilities, and so on. For me, this was the fun part about playing this game, but I wish there was more incentive to use all of the jobs.

You could play the game how the developers intended with changing out jobs when they would be most effective, but that makes little sense if you know the build that you want to go with. Since you normally get around 1 to 2 job points per battle and the number of points you need to level jobs increases, it makes most sense to just level up the jobs that you want to master to avoid the endless grind. Since I was familiar with the job system, I knew which jobs and abilities I wanted to give each character; making experimentation with other jobs pointless when I knew my end result would carry me through the endgame. When I got around to unlocking the “best” jobs in the game, I didn’t bother with them since I had the set up I wanted and didn’t want to grind out more points just to master them. Most of the playtime in FFV comes from grinding job points and not from the length of the game. My 30 hour playtime could have been reduced by a third if I didn’t grind for job points and the ultimate weapons.

While I am someone who enjoys grinding here and there, I was spoiled by the fact that I have played games with a similar job system and have done it better. The obvious example of this is Bravely Default. Bravely Default has the same job system from FFV, but streamlines it so most jobs have some appeal to them either through passive abilities or commands. Grinding job points was easier if you met certain requirements or unlocked abilities that granted more job points. The grind was fun in that game since the game was rewarding you from the start to get the most potential out of each job. If I had played FFV before Bravely Default, I would have personally rated it much higher.

In the end, I was met with a classic game that has been outdone by its spiritual successors in my opinion. After FFV, there would be no other Final Fantasy game in the mainline series that would use this type of job system. It was good for the time, but other games have proved that it can be much better. Pair that with a story, characters, and world that felt very flat to me, I feel like FFV is now at the bottom of my personal tier list. If I ever revisit it, it will probably be in the form of the Pixel Remasters since every other version that I’ve heard of is meh. To leave things off on a positive note, the best character in the game hands down is Gilgamesh. I now understand why he is a recurring character in the series and his death was the saddest one for me.

If you are wondering about my personal rankings of the GBA Final Fantasy games, they are:

VI Advance
Tactics Advance (need to finish)
1 & 2 Dawn of Souls
IV Advance
V Advance