Becky "Ocelot" Cunningham's Halftime Report
Stuff That's Already Out

What can I say about my gaming habits for the first half of this year? They've been characterized by large chunks of time spent on non-traditional RPGs, mixed with short chunks of time spent on gaming ADD. Since I'm a cheap so-and-so, most of the games I play are not particularly recent, but that's all right. One of the awesome things about the RPGamer community is that it isn't obsessed with only playing the latest games. In that light, I'll write about the games that have most captured my interest, or at least taken up the most of my time.

1st Place · Pokémon SoulSilver

Pokémon SoulSilver has taken by far the largest chunk of my gaming time this year. Completing the entire game, then going insane and trying to "catch them all" took a significant chunk of time. All in all, SoulSilver is a solid remake and a strong combination of the many elements that make the Pokémon series so darn addictive.

2nd Place · Harvest Moon: Animal Parade

Harvest Moon: Animal Parade features a fun cast and a ton of goals to shoot for at your own discretion. The days are very long and making enough money to upgrade your farm takes a lot of work, so it's not for the impatient. I'll have my Animal Parade review up eventually. In the meantime, if you're looking at the Harvest Moon Wii games, here's my suggestion: if you're new to the series and aren't sure if you'll like it, try Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility. It's simpler, faster, and has a better tutorial than Animal Parade. If you're a hardcore Harvest Moon fan, Animal Parade is the game for you. It's slower-paced, more polished, more complex, and has more of everything to play around with. Both are very good Harvest Moon games, so you can't go wrong.

3rd Place · Monster Hunter Tri

Tragically, I haven't had a lot of time to play Monster Hunter Tri yet. I've enjoyed what I've played so far, and the game is difficult enough that I feel like I'm paying proper penance after playing Pokémon and Harvest Moon. I did write an editorial that was basically an ode to my female character, who looks proud and tough and like she can totally go toe-to-toe with the nasty monsters in the game. I like the fact that I need to carefully prepare for each mission, and the game doesn't hold your hand too much. Hopefully I'll spend more time with this game later this summer, as one of my good friends has it now, and she and I might get some multiplayer in.

4th Place · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

I resisted buying Oblivion for a long time, having heard that it's a lackluster experience unless heavily modded. I couldn't resist a recent Steam sale for $8.00, though. Modding Oblivion to one's liking is practically a game in itself, but I've finally got my copy up and running smoothly. It sure looks pretty with an enhanced texture pack, enhanced character textures, a mod that redoes all the NPC faces to reduce their fuglification, and an enhanced weather/nature system. Not to mention the mod that gives the enemies static levels and sensical loot tables, the mod that overhauls the character levelling system, and the mod that adds a ton of new enemies and gives them more interesting AI. Since the game I'm playing barely resembles the original in terms of visuals and mechanics, I figured I'd make it my own personal sandbox. I'm playing a custom human race with a few animal attributes who rides a dapple-grey unicorn with a flowing mane and tail. That's right, I'm a catgirl riding a freaking My Little Pony, robbing the rich and giving to myself. I don't really know if The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is any good, but the game I'm playing is a ton of fun.

Special Rage-Inducing Category · Divinity II: Ego Draconis

My first review for RPGamer, awesome! Too bad it was a bit of a stinker. I liked the first half of Divinity II well enough, but the second half caused me to fly off the handle. From dumping me into dragon combat for the first time with about 30 towers shooting at me to having various quest bugs and interface glitches that nearly caused me to fling my mouse through my monitor, poor Divinity II's score dropped more the longer I played it. And after all that aggravation, what did I get? A bummer of an ending that couldn't have been altered by any choice I made in the game. I suppose I should have expected that type of experience, but the lure of finding another gem like The Witcher keeps me volunteering to review possibly dodgy PC RPGs by small European publishers.

Stuff That Isn't Out Yet

The second half of 2010 is a bit lacking in blockbuster games from Japan, but it's awash in North American/European releases and in smaller games that I'm likely to enjoy. Plus, I don't mind some breathing room in which I can actually work on my backlog. Once I'm done with some of that and I've gotten tired of playing Catgirl on a My Little Pony: The Bloodletting, here are some games I'm looking forward to:

1st Place · Epic Mickey

I'm not sure how Warren Spector of Deus Ex fame convinced Disney to let him make a game featuring Mickey Mouse, but I'm glad he did. Spector specializes in genre-bending hybrid games, and Epic Mickey looks delightful. With the paint and paint thinner mechanic as well as with quest options, Mickey can make a lot of choices, and Spector insists that the game will respond to the gamer's playstyle. Should be interesting!

2nd Place · Dragon Quest IX

Once again, a game company caters to my love of customization in RPGs, with a fully-customizable main character and party in Dragon Quest IX. I honestly don't know a lot more about this game, despite it having been out in Japan for ages. What's to know? It's Dragon Quest. You make a party, then go out, get some quests, and beat on some adorable Level 5 monsters in turn-based combat. Unlike Mac, I don't care about wifi multiplayer, so what the game has is plenty good enough for me.

3rd Place · Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Although I was only a moderate fan of the original Golden Sun games, I adored the psynergy dungeon puzzles. Those alone are enough to recommend Golden Sun: Dark Dawn to me, plus the graphics look lovely. The fact that Nintendo showcased Dark Dawn at two E3s is promising, since the Big N's usually only showcases games that have a high level of polish and playability.

4th Place · DeathSpank

DeathSpank just looks like a lot of fun. Everybody needs a Diablo-style game every once in a while, and seeing one that refuses to take itself seriously is a breath of fresh air. Why do PC action RPGs all have to be grimdark, anyway? From the official site's description of the game, it appears to wander into the territory of dark humor, with a paladin-style protagonist who ends up messing up the world he believes he's protecting. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing, as well as for the light adventure-game-style puzzles it promises.

5th Place · Fallout: New Vegas/Fable III

Here we have the two big North American releases, but I'm not sure what I think about them yet. Will Fable III introduce more NPCs with interesting personalities, or will we continue to be expected to woo brainless vegetables? Will it present more interesting ways to develop your character, or will it continue to be a simulation of extremely unhealthy veganism (mmm, celery)? Will Obdisian manage to give Fallout: New Vegas a stronger narrative and a better choice/consequence system than Fallout 3 had, or will they flounder in Bethesda's sandbox? I'll be checking to see how these games turn out before I plunk down my hard-earned cash on them.

So that's this crazy RPG year in a nutshell, for me. It's been a fun ride so far, and the future still looks bright.
© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy