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Everything posted by Skummy

  1. Given half the screenshots I've seen seem to show her face retreating from her body....
  2. Everyone pointing out Bret's hair in that screenshot seems to be overlooking that Hogan is wearing two separate wigs.
  3. Ah shit, yeah, I got Laguna's two love interests confused. Squall is the son of Laguna and Raine, Julia was the singer in the nightclub bar. My mistake. It makes sense that Squall would always "be" Laguna in the flashbacks, given that connection. But what connects Zell and Selphie to Kiros and Ward, then? Because isn't it always those two? I know Elle says that she can only do the "send back in time" thing with people she's met, but I can't remember if it's ever stated that the two consciousnesses in question have to met as well? So Squall can be sent back into Laguna, or into Rinoa, because both Squall and Elle have met them. But Kiros and Ward?
  4. Finished this over the weekend, so here are some thoughts; Squall is a much more interesting character than I initially gave him credit for; as a teenager playing this for the first time, I saw him as a bit of a blank slate, or a surly "man of few words" in the same vein as Cloud. This time around, I see a lot more in his internal dialogue, and that his character is defined by being scared of getting close to people. As a result, the romance with Riona feels far more organic than I remember - I was always confused by it being held up as a great love story, but actually it's the real backbone of the story to this game. I think what I love about it is that it feels awkward and stumbling - because it's two teenagers figuring out their emotions, and not really knowing what happens next, rather than being presented as an epic romance. Similarly, Seifer is a far richer character than I can remember. He's flawed in a far more human way than most Final Fantasy antagonists; he's not as melodramatic as Sephiroth, or as crazy as Kefka, he's just a sad, scared boy. You basically see the same character traits as Squall, but taken in another direction. What was great about playing this remastered is that, in your final battle with Seifer, his coat is in tatters, he looks absolutely knackered. So you really get the impression of him as an increasingly desperate character. Him wanting to be the Sorceress' Knight feels like a very childish dream, but one that gives him purpose in a world he can't understand - he's every spoiled under-achiever thinking there's a fast track to success. What makes that story more interesting is that it's at least implied that the reason he wanted to be a Knight is because he watched the movie Laguna made in which he played that role (and used a Gunblade!), while Squall legitimately becomes Rinoa's Knight, rather than just allowing himself to be manipulated by the Sorceress. Speaking of Sorceresses, I still think this is probably the weakest part of the plot. Edea is introduced as a reasonably compelling villain, with some serious impact on the narrative. She's then fairly abruptly face turned, and we meet Adel as the next Sorceress, only for that to be a load of nothing, and to bring in Ultimecia as the final boss. Ultimecia's plan is so ill-explained and confusing (what, really, is the end goal of Time Compression?), and only made worse by the fact that you have absolutely zero interaction with her as a character. Edea you have a history with, Adel you have the (somewhat out of nowhere) outer space section of the game, in which she's released from her prison via possession of Rinoa, in probably the highest stakes part of the entire story - I just can't see why Adel couldn't have been the Big Bad from that moment, and what it adds to the story having THREE sorceresses when two, or just one, would have served the same purpose better. You obviously can't talk about Edea's face turn without talking about Turns Out I Forgot. Other than possibly the "seen once and then never mentioned again" Garden Master, this is probably the maddest part of the whole plot, and both were points where, even playing this for the first time, I felt "they're just making it up as they go along". If I've looked back negatively on Final Fantasy 8 for twenty years, it's because of this plot point. Now, there was some more foreshadowing of this than I had first realised - Quistis first mentions "GF Critics" prior to the Fire Cavern Quest, and Selphie's diary on the Garden computer explicitly says she's scared of losing her memory from GF use, while the orphanage itself is at least seen in Squall's brief childhood flashbacks (which start late enough in the game to still have a sense of "made up as we went along"). What really makes it unbearable, though, is that at no point does anyone even entertain the idea of not using GFs (I'm now wondering if it would be possible to make it this far in the game never junctioning a GF...), and you continue to collect more. Meanwhile, Irvine hasn't lost his memory, just at no point thought to bring up that he was at the same orphanage as all of you, or that the woman you were all hired to assassinate was your primary caregiver. A lot of stuff like this is why I actively disliked the story for so long, and while I'm not as angry at it now, it's still not good. But looking at it as the backdrop to the more inter-personal stories, it'll do. The Laguna stuff's weird, isn't it? Obviously it leads into the Time Compression story, but looking back, almost the entire story could have taken place without ever needing to do the Laguna missions. I remember them having been a much bigger part of the story than they are. Also, I feel like I missed some dialogue this time around, because I was sure it was made clear that Squall was Laguna's son? Maybe it's intentionally left open, but I thought that was a sure thing. If it is the case, then it's a bit of a mess of relationships, in that the love of Laguna's life ends up marrying Rinoa's dad, so are Squall and Rinoa step-siblings? Am I missing something? Moombas. What was all that about?
  5. I'd love the fantasy stuff as a special mode, or DLC, as part of a more fleshed out game - why not take the opportunity to do in video games what can't be done in real life? But in a game that's so obviously lazy, rushed and broken as this, it can fuck right off. Whether it's the case or not, it looks like they've focused on the silly stuff at the expense of quality elsewhere.
  6. Skummy


    Wasn't it literally part of the XFL's start-up pitch that players would be forced to respect the national anthem, or somesuch?
  7. This is a great summary of Trent Seven.
  8. for Omnibus, I'd just say the best way is to scroll through the episodes and pick out anything at all that might interest you, it's such a wide range of topics. I did that until it got to the point that I understood the in-jokes, and was familiar enough with Ken Jennings & John Roderick that I'd find them entertaining no matter what the topic. I find John's voice incredibly relaxing now. That said, some of my personal favourites were: Bone Wars Reindeer Wizards The Smoot The Bodies of Mount Everest Telling The Bees Scrappy Doo The Blue Men Of The Sahara The Boysenberry Megafauna But, again, it's really about just finding the stuff that works for you and going from there.
  9. Yeah, I've started doing that - I have a real compulsion to have one of everything, so tend to leave myself with one of each of every card, but there's no reason not to refine all that stuff into Items. I probably barely used that ability first time around, but I'm playing so much more tactically than I've probably played any Final Fantasy game before, and refining is a big part of that. Not using a walkthrough means not knowing how to get some of the rarer cards, but I've managed to get Seifer, Zell, Quistis and Selphie just through common sense figuring out who would be most likely to have to win them from, and a few GF cards on top of that, so I tend to get dealt a decent hand anyway. But I have a specific strategy most games around having cards good enough to block off either the corners or the top row pretty consistently, and not being able to rely on that is a nuisance. I also still can't figure out all the Plus/Combo rules and whatnot, which other people routinely use to fuck me over with otherwise low-level cards, yet never seems to work in my favour.
  10. I'm enjoying Final Fantasy VIII a lot more than I thought I would - it's not a game I replayed back at the time, so my initial run was a mixture of being confused by the story, and disappointed where it differed from VII conceptually, and then I watched Let's Plays and read up on it years later and laughed along with all the jokes about how completely bonkers and "made up as they went along" the storyline is. I've just got past "turns out the Garden can fly", so the story hasn't gone completely off the rails yet, but thus far it's felt a lot more tightly plotted than I remember. There's some mad shit, still - "there's a war between the headmaster and the Garden Master! Also, it turns out there's a Garden Master, by the way. And once that's over, let's never speak of it again" - and I know the worst is to come, but it's not been too egregious so far, and there's been little bits of foreshadowing that I would never have picked up on first time around. The cut from Disc One to Disc Two is still '60s Batman levels of walking back a cliffhanger, though, absolute dogshit of a non-resolution. "I thought I was wounded, turns out I'm not, lol". I've definitely got a better understanding of the Junction system now than I did first time around, and am playing with that a lot more tactically and efficiently, so can see the benefit of it, and why some people rave about it, though constant Junction Switching to other party members, and there being a maximum number of different magics each person can have, plus having to be overly picky about what commands to equip people with, is frustrating micro-management, though. The fast-forward button is a godsend, and I'm playing pretty much the whole game at that speed, which certainly helps, and means I'm spending less time grinding, and more time just following the story, which probably helps make it feel a little more tight than I remember. I'm playing without a strategy guide, so I'm surprised I haven't missed a GF yet, though have probably missed all sorts of other goodies. The only thing I've resorted to Googling was where to find the Water Stone in the Shumi Village, because fuck that nonsense. Fuck the random rule.
  11. If you're inside the garden, move the bag of compost and wooden crate for the left-hand side of the garden (by the cabbage patch), and there's a tunnel in and out, so you don't have to worry about whether the gate is locked or not.
  12. I'm behind on episodes, so haven't been able to notice the change yet, but Omnibus Project have left IHeartRadio to go independent, and launched a Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/omnibusproject
  13. I agree that too few levels on Mario Maker 2 feel like they could be real Mario levels. Sometimes that's part of the fun - thinking outside the box, breaking the mold and whatnot - but quite often it feels like they're designed out of spite. The beauty of Mario's level design is that it's so rare that you're ever blaming the game, or the design, for your mistakes. I can only think of one instance of a Mario game getting me into a controller-throwing rage because the camera, the controls, or the timing, or an enemy appearing out of nowhere, was the reason I was dying. That, to me, is the sign of a good game - when, even when you keep losing, you know it's because of your error, not because the mechanics don't work properly, or the design is conspiring against you.
  14. I still haven't stopped laughing at Tyler and Pete being in last year but not Trent, tbh.
  15. Skummy

    Stranger Things

    I finished it last night. It's still good, but I thought this series just got way too "busy", compared to how tightly focused the first series was, especially. The final episode was perfectly put together, though. I wasn't sure how they'd tie everything together without it feeling forced, but everything from the Suzie scene onwards was perfect. I kind of wanted to hate it as just a Deus Ex Machina, and lazy '80s nostalgia, but it was so good, and I popped for Suzie reading Ursula Le Guin. Back to it being too busy, though...there were just too many plotlines going on at once. The first series worked because it was about insular small town weirdness. The bigger the story gets, the more people have to know about it, and the less convincing it is that it can keep happening with only a select few people being really involved. The Bodysnatchers/The Thing plot of the Mind Flayer taking control over people really didn't pay off at all for me. We saw dozens of people apparently under its control, none of which ever served a purpose aside from Billy, who would disappear for several episodes at a time. Not to mention that Billy being the main "flayed" character meant the stakes were pretty low, as he was already an asshole, so you're not really rooting for him to be saved, nor is there much sense that he's acting out of character the way it would have seemed if another character had been controlled. It really felt like this whole plot only existed because they needed a way for Eleven to interact with the larger Monster, and could only figure it out by giving it a human face. Giant Monster was a bit of a letdown too. The unknowable spookiness of the Upside Down is far, far scarier than a slasher movie, "hide in a cabin while a monster stalks you" scene. Again, it felt like there needed to be more of a physical threat than the more supernatural element of the Upside Down, just because they needed an obvious way to up tension. Evil Russians...how many antagonists does this one series need? Evil Russians Part 1.0 being the Terminator-esque guy stalking Hopper, Part 2.0 being the crew under the mall. I'm not sure why the Russians feel the need to access the Upside Down to give them an advantage in the Cold War, considering they've already been able to infiltrate America so comprehensively as to create a heavily defended military installation there, but hey, what do I know? Again, another enemy that's not as compelling as the nature of the Upside Down. I also don't see why it needed to be Russians, other than a hacky Cold War arms race analogy - we know there are shady government agencies experimenting on the Upside Down, would it not have been more plausible, and believable, for it to be them operating here, rather than The Russians? I kind of hope this is it. As much as it was left open for another series ("The American" will be Hopper, I'm sure of it), and as the kids growing up while physically more separate from one another is the logical next step in the coming age of story, I don't know if I want to see the series get "bigger". I don't want to see it expand beyond Hawkins, and introducing Erica as a new character felt like a Cousin Oliver move to get a mouthy young kid in the mix as the original cast get older. In terms of casting and performance, she was probably the only weak point. All criticisms aside, the quality of the directing and acting is good enough to improve on the weaker parts of the writing/plotting and make it work. It left me wondering how from the first series this didn't lead to a broader career resurgence for Winona Ryder, I still love Hopper, Dustin and Steve, and I will never understand how Cary Elwes hasn't been a much bigger star. He was so brilliantly smarmy in this, and perfect as the uber-'80s corrupt mayor archetype - there was a point at the 4th July celebration when he speaks, and affects more of a "rural" accent than you've heard him speak with before, as it's the first time you see him speaking to the public, and I immediately felt my skin crawl. So good.
  16. Not that it ever went all that far downhill, but Omnibus Project has had a real return to form lately - the Droodles episode is my favourite in a long, long while.
  17. Skummy

    Music hot takes

    There's been a cultural shift in how we purchase music, and I'm really curious what - if anything - will be recognised as the culturally defining songs of this decade. The notion of defining songs of certain eras and genres was more or less dictated by radio DJs (both in what got played first time around, and what gets codified as, for example, "The Sound Of The 80s" on oldies stations), music journalists, and later by music TV. For all extents and purposes, all of those have gone the way of the Dodo. Kids aren't listening to the radio to hear the latest hits, music journalists and DJs have lost pretty much any power they had as tastemakers, and music TV is dead. There's not the energy behind one or two songs, or one or two artists, as "defining" one era or one genre. I haven't DJ'd in a few years, but when I go see friends play, or watch covers acts perform, the setlist is the same as it was ten to fifteen years ago. The requests you get are the same as they were ten to fifteen years ago. Kids ten or twelve years younger than me are requesting nothing but what was played on Kerrang! and MTV 2 when I was their age. I couldn't tell you what's in the charts right now, despite knowing people who work for the UK Charts, and I doubt any of my students could tell you either. It feels like precious little breaks through into a wider consciousness any more. Because the way we consume music, and discover new music, has become so intensely personalised, that there's no longer that mass energy behind a single song or artist.
  18. I would legitimately say Tetris. I first played it more than quarter of a century ago, and could still gladly play it every day now. I still get enjoyment out of it, still push myself to get better at it. And it was already an "old" game when I first played it. Even the biggest and boldest of the recent AAA titles being discussed here, aren't going to be played in thirty years time. And if you're talking "greatest ever", you have to factor longevity into that discussion.
  19. It's the first Chronicles that I'm playing. You're right that it's not really a JRPG, just that's the bracket it had always fallen into in my head, I'd always heard people comparing it to other games in that genre. It's a lot more fine-tuned, strategically, than I'm used to, so there's a definite learning curve, though the battles tend to be intuitive enough that if you fail at first you soon figure out what you're meant to be doing. I just had my first battle run out of turns, though, against Maximillian's tank, which is an absolute bastard.
  20. I'm playing Valkryia Chronicles now - an impulse purchase based on vague memories of it being spoken about as one of the great JRPGs. It's pretty good, and mind-bogglingly complex, but not at all what I thought it would be. As much as I like - but am admittedly terrible at - a tactical RPG, there being no real exploration element to it is putting me off investing too much time, as just battles interspersed with cut scenes isn't the most engaging of gameplay.
  21. I'm not a huge fan of season 2 of Conchords, but Murray is one of my favourite characters in anything. His reaction to being told they have girlfriends being, "what, even both of you?" is one of my favourite jokes ever. I've started watching Chernobyl and have no idea how people binge it. It's incredible, one of the most powerful things I've seen on TV in years, but it just wears me down, it's so heavy going. After one episode I need time to mull it over.
  22. Good Omens was flawed but great. I don't know if I enjoy it more or less for having re-read the book very recently, though. Its biggest strength is in the performances of Tennant and Sheen, and it kind of meanders a bit when not focused on those two, though the casting of some of the supporting cast is really inspired, and you can tell it was made with love, and is bursting with little easter eggs and references.
  23. If it weren't for yesterday, that would be the maddest thing I've seen in football in years. Mental.
  24. I'm not a football fan, but that was fucking incredible. Watched with my parents, both Liverpool supporters, and my half-brother who isn't, and even he & I were jumping out of our seat cheering. That corner will stay in my mind for as long as I live. Incredible stuff. And, as much as I don't follow football, I don't think there's a better atmosphere in the world than a celebratory Anfield crowd singing "You'll Never Walk Alone".
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