What's Mecherath Playing This Week?

If you've been reading my site on a regular basis, you've probably noticed that I mention video games very frequently. I try my best to keep you up to date with the games as I beat them, but occasionally I'll forget, or miss a few days. This feature will allow you to see what games I'm playing, and what my current impressions of them are. So if you want to increase your gaming prowess, just follow along with me, and you'll be playing RPGs with the best of them. I mean, GoGamer.com doesn't give me a free t-shirt every month for nothing.

Suikoden II
Konami of America

        When my friend Dave picked up Suikoden III for the PS2 over Christmas break, I just had to play it. That is, until I learned that you could import data from the second game into the third game. And of course, you could also import data from the first game into the second, leaving me no choice but to play the three games in sequence. Since I'm all about owning games rather than borrowing them, I took a trip over to the local EB Games to pick up a copy. I was able to get Suikoden I for around $30, which is higher than I expected, but cheap compared to Suikoden II, which is selling for upwards of $120 on half.com. Fortunately my brother happens to have a copy of that from a few years back, so I'm considering it to be on permanent loan. Thus I began my quest to play through all three Suikoden games, taking great care to recruit all 108 available characters. This is harder than it looks, since I make it a point not to use walkthroughs my first time through a game. I had to play through three times before I got everything, which wasn't so bad, since it's only about a 15 hour game.

I started Suikoden II yesterday, and it's everything I ever hoped for. Released in 1999, it's about as good as PlayStation RPGs can get. The story picks up 30 years after the first game ended, which is really cool, since you end up recruiting many of the same characters. The gameplay is basically the same, so if you don't like turn-based battles, this probably isn't for you. I happen to love them, especially when I have 108 different fighters to mess around with. The spell animations are pretty cool to look at, and actually don't take too long, unlike certain Final Fantasy summons. You don't need a special rune to dash in this one, which means I won't have to keep that loser elf in my party, just so I can run. Stallion appears in this game too, of course, but without the True Holy Rune, he's not worth mentioning.

I haven't gotten very far into the storyline yet, but that hasn't stopped me from being betrayed by the Prince. I don't even know why people even bother coming into power in these games. You just know they're going to get corrupted, prompting a hardy group of adventures to start a resistance movement. Anyway, my friend Jowy and I were going to be executed by the Kingdom under the false pretense of treason, when Viktor and Flik showed up to save the day. They hauled us back to their fortress, which we had just escaped from earlier that day. I'd be upset at them right now, but I just know that I'll be in charge of the whole operation before the game is half over.

Gathering of Developers

        I picked up this game way back in the summer of 2000, to celebrate the new Dell computer I had just bought. I only really played it for a few hours, before getting frustrated that the spell system wasn't working the way I expected it to. I decided to give it another try when I got the Krebstar 3000, and it turns out that I was just being stupid the whole time. The spell system works just fine, and if I had bothered to read the instructions, I would have played the game years ago. The game is very similar in concept to Diablo, though the graphics and gameplay are much improved. It's got about 21 different quests, seven of which you must complete each time you play the game. So while it's bound to get redundant after a little while, you could actually play three times without getting too bored. I'll probably end up playing through four times or so, since the higher difficulty levels require you to be higher level. Of course, my favorite aspect of Darkstone is that you get to play two different characters at once. Not one character and a mercenary like in Diablo II... two separate characters. I chose Mecherath the Wizard to be my main character, with Redaem the Warrior to be my meat shield.

I just got through the first area of the game today, which consisted of a village, a lake, and two small dungeons. The village was full of a bunch of lamers that were starving to death because some monster stole the Horn of Plenty from them. Even though I think Cornucopia is a much cooler name, I crawled into the dungeon, defeated a pair of elementals, and got their silly horn for them. Just when I thought eternal gratitude would be me only reward, the spirit of a dead villager gives me a magic crystal, the first of seven. One quest out of the way, I headed over to the lake, where a really annoying faerie informed me that I need to play the reeds in order "from the smallest to the biggest." I had no idea what she meant, but when I went into the second dungeon, I did indeed find five reeds of varying length. The final floor of the dungeon had an entire room full of these killer snakes, which killed me on more than one occasion. I finally managed to defeat them, by luring them out of their room one at a time, then closing the door behind them. Well, it turns out that I could have saved myself the trouble if I had just taken a moment to look around. On the far side of the room I was fighting on were a series of stone heads. If I had placed the reeds in their mouths in ascending order, like the stupid faerie had told me, I would have rendered the snakes harmless. My way was a whole lot manlier though.

Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions

        I got this game with my tax return last year, in the fateful shopping spree that started my love affair with GoGamer.com. This is the second game in a series of three, from what I can tell, though I won't swear by that. It consists of around 250 different puzzles, ranging in difficulty from simple tutorials to complicated Rube Goldberg Devices. The contraptions use just about everything, from lasers, to lava lamps, to mandrills in cages. A mandrill is an old world ape, if you're wondering, but since he's named Pavlov, Avi consistently refers to him as a dog. The game can get frustrating at times, especially if you play by yourself. The game is awesome with a friend though, since two heads are better than one, and I typically employ the aid of Jon, Avi, or Joel. We got through 93 levels in about three hours today, though we spent over half on hour on level 62. The object was to get a bunch of blimps into a "hangar" which we assumed was in the upper left corner of the screen. After a long series of frustrating attempts, we realized that the hangar referred to the entire right side of the screen. We cursed our stupidity for a few moments, then quickly solved the puzzle. We might have played for a little while longer, but I wanted to work on my site for a bit, and I have to sleep sometime.

Well, that's it for this week's gaming update. I probably won't beat any of these games any time soon, so next week's update will be comparably short. Also, expect The Incredible Machine to be on this list for a long time, since I probably won't play it unless Avi is free to assist me.

Next Week ->