We've done just a bit of site work here. Nicole and Derek now has an archive page
. And the N&D Asks we did mid-May have been moved to the end of Final Battle Showdown, so they don't interrupt your reading experience. We've adjusted the comments and tags and everything so it really ought to be seamless. We hope.
Unrelatedly, if you play PC games at all, the Steam Sale is going on now. Grim Fandano, Monkey Island 1 and 2, FTL, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Portal, The Stanley Parable, Gunpoint, and Dungeons of Dredmor are all on sale for very cheap indeed.
Let me tell you about Gunpoint. I've been meaning to for a while. It's a futuristic noir action game. You are Richard Conway. ("Professional Spy. Amateur electrician. Weaponized jerk."). You have a set of Bullfrog Projectile Trousers that let you jump about eighty feet into the air, crash through fifth-story windows, and so on. You're offered a job investigating corporate espionage.
Shortly before you arrive, the person who hired you is killed by someone with Bullfrog Projectile Trousers. Since you were seen entering the building, this leads to some uncomfortable questions.
From there, you need to get to the bottom of this, clear your name, and so on. The game itself is a stealth puzzle game. I liked it. Takes about 4 hours to beat.
No new comic today. So I figure I should write something.
Fire Emblem: Fates. Did I mention that I really enjoyed the previous one, Fire Emblem: Awakening? So many things I meant to write about but never got around to. Anyhow, it's a turn-based tactical war game, much like Advance Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics. You move your dudes and attack, then the enemy moves their dudes and attacks.
What's the game about? Well, a nearby king suddenly turned evil. It's up to you and a ragtag bunch of soldiers to stop him, using a Fire Emblem. Along the way, you find out that the bad guy is end-the-world evil, instead of just invade-your-country evil. Also, turns out dragons are real and that weird kid you recruited turns out to be a powerful ancient dragon. That's about 90% accurate for any game in the series.
The distinctive thing about the Fire Emblem series is that death is permanent*. If Rolf dies in mission 5, he stays dead the entire game. This means you play cautiously and/or save often.
Because each character is unique and you can permanently lose a couple characters on a mission if you're not careful, new characters show up pretty regularly. In early games, this wasn't really an issue. If Red Axe Guy got killed, you just used Green Axe Guy instead, and there wasn't much difference.
In Awakening - the previous game- the characters hit you with as much personality as they can, as quickly and often as possible. Everyone had a few core traits and their interactions spring from those. It let you get a solid read on who everyone was. And really soon, I was playing the game mainly for those interactions and to pair characters up**. I was choosing who to take on missions*** based on how fun they were. It got me thinking about how characters worked and it influenced Nicole and Derek
In Fates, the mechanics are as solid as ever, but I'm just not feeling the characters. It's got a solid plot (you were kidnapped at age 3 and raised by King Garon. You are reunited with your birth family, who are royalty of another kingdom. Your birth family and foster family are at war and you need to choose a side.), but when I had to choose between playing Fire Emblem: Fates and playing Shantae and the Pirates Curse, well, I beat Shantae in a week's time instead (which I got from a Humble Bundle last week. It's a well-done Metroid/Castlevania-style game that [usually] plays fair).
So, Fire Emblem: Fates - it's not a bad game, but it lacks Awakening's sense of fun. I wanted to be excited for it, but I'm just not digging it the way I wanted to.
*: This can be turned off in Awakening and Fates, the two most recent games. I got tired of reloading levels a dozen times and turned it off. But the games are designed with permanent character death in mind.
**: Due to time-travel, your characters fought alongside their children. So your characters would get to know each other, get married, and have their 20-year-old child appear from a time portal. Basically, Fire Emblem: Awakening was about 30% dating simulator.
***: There's a cap; even if all thirty of your characters have survived to the final chapter, you only can take twelve or so on each mission.