The Silver Lining
came out this weekend. It was due out Saturday morning, but I think
the masses of eager fans derailed that a bit by overwhelming the
poor servers. So, I ended up waiting until pretty late to go the
For those who don't know about this game, it's one of the single
most awesome stories possible of fans who know what they want and
know what is right and will stick to their guns to see it through.
The trek started a long time ago (around ten years back) when some
fans realized that King's Quest was done, and KQ8 would be the final
chapter. The problem was, KQ8 was anything but a real King's Quest
KQ8 was an action/adventure game which felt more like a primitive
attempt to make a Tomb Raider style game into a pseudo-RPG. Not a KQ
vibe if you ask me, or many of the loyal KQ fans.
Soon a group emerged to make a KQ9. A proper ending of the
franchise. The problem, of course, was that fans don't typically
hold licenses. Before long, the game started to seem to take some
shape when Vivendi sent out the cease and desist order. Being good
people, Phoenix Online (the studio these fans formed) stopped. They
wanted to conclude KQ, but they were not out to cause problems.
I just want to add that this is how to rightfully go about bringing
change to the world. You do what's right, but you also know what
limitations you must face. You cannot bring about change through
being a douche who ignores the rights of others.
Of course, this was soon reversed (the C&D order), when Phoenix
started talking with Vivendi. Before long a good agreement came
around. Phoenix would use the characters and settings of KQ, but
would drop the King's Quest title from the actual game. They would
also not charge for the game when it was released, which Phoenix
seems to have always wanted anyway. The game was back on.
After Activision took control of Vivendi, the C&D dance came around
again. This was earlier this year. Well, through another round of
talks, and another round of fans petitioning Activision to let the
project continue, things started to turn for the better again.
Activision granted permission a couple weeks ago after seeing that
the game would be a shining moment in the series and not just a
typically shoddy fan-fic.
The first episode is now out and it is damned good. Yes, some people
are a bit turned off right now due to various things, but it is a
really good game that shows professional skills, not the skills
you'd expect from people who did this for free in their free time
between jobs and other real responsibilities. There is quality voice
acting, some good nostalgic but quality modern visuals, and a great
plot that allows new and old KQ fans to get into the game pretty
The one problem that is mentioned a lot on message boards is the
length and challenge of the first chapter. Really, I don't see it.
Yes, the first episode is short and has no real puzzles. However, it
looks like this was meant to be a quick and simply return to the
world of the Daventry royal family. I think once episode two rolls
around, this will all be forgotten. As long as Phoenix keeps up with
the rumored release schedule (one episode every few months),
shortness on a single chapter will not be a problem at all. Plus,
for a free game to bring us back to the classic adventuring ways of
King's Quest, who can really complain?
I picked up Dragon Quest
IX a couple days ago. I was torn on if I should get the game or not.
On one hand, it was a new RPG, with old school nostalgic mechanics,
and some nice deep game play features (like the job system). On the
other hand, it's designed for the worst type of multiplayer; the
type that is only local and takes away from the base game.
The large problem
with the multiplayer is that it means characters have no
personalities or development, in the plot sense. In fact, the main
character never speaks, and the other characters are all generated
by the player and can be replaced and remade at any time, making
them uninteresting (never speaking). It is, more or less, the same
type of character development one would find from Final Fantasy 1.
The characters are there to solve problems, but never to contribute
anything else to the world.
Still, the need
for a new RPG won out. It also doesn't hurt that it's a $35 game (I
expected $40 for this DS title). Plus, since I wanted a portable
game (going on a trip soon), it fit the requirements in nearly every
So, I am now a
good six to eight hours in, but taking my time. I'm looking for
quests, hidden areas, bonus items, item farming locations (you can
item farm on the world map), and trying to open up some new skills
in the job system. The game offers a lot of diversions from the main
While I don't care
for the lack of character personalities (especially after how much I
enjoyed the characters of DQ8), it's nothing an old school RPG fan
couldn't get past. I mean the old wild west days of the NES and SNES
saw more main characters/protagonists without personality than one
would probably care to admit in some of the truly great games. DQ
1-3, FF 1-3, Inindo, the Mana (Secret of...) games, SaGa games (FF
Legend on the Gameboy), any Zelda title (Link still has no
personality)...the list can go on and on. However, while the lack of
personality in the protagonist(s) is a sad thing at times, it
doesn't have to hurt the game when the rest of the world is clearly
defined and involved.
I think my only
true complaint with DQ9, besides the fact that the multiplayer
(which I will probably never use) is only local, is that the text
can be a bit slow at times. In particular, it's at its worst when
using the frequent services (inn, saving at the church), during menu
access, and using alchemy (item creation). Ironically enough, the
opposite problem can occur as well, in which the text goes way too
fast. For example during some battles the game might say something
like, "Boss monster is getting angry. Boss monster..."
Unfortunately, that's all I could read before the text was gone.
DQ9 is a better experience, so far, than I expected when I first
heard of the game going to multiplayer.