Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rules and Ratings

First let's get through the rules. These are here to keep me honest, and inform you the readers what limitations I've placed on myself. Much of this is based on CRPG Addict's rules; I owe him for his example.

1) Console games: I've always considered myself a console gamer. I don't exclude PC games outright in my playing decisions, but as a kid whose dad took up the computer most of the time, I learned to get by with console games. Stability is the number one reason I enjoy consoles now; crashes aggravate me to no end. Also, the CRPG Addict has PC games covered.

2) CRPG inclusion: I have a list. It can be added to, but nothing is taken off it. I'll mark games on the list: yes it is or no it is not a CRPG. I'll post per release year discussing those games that don't meet my requirements. I may play a game if there's a strong call from the comments to include it.

3) US released games: I'm in the US, so it's just easier this way. There are many Japanese or European exclusive games that interest me, and I may play through some, but all NTSC-U is the goal here. The games are in chronological order based on original US release.

4) Official releases ideal: No emulators; however, allowances made for Wii Virtual Console, re-releases on other consoles, etc. Emulation is unstable for later games, and the roms are illegal currently. This means I may not have the next game, but I'll revisit those I've skipped as soon as I can. Any help to get games is appreciated. While this is all still true, and the preferred method is playing the original, I've altered my stance. If there's no current way to purchase a game that benefits the rights holder, then I'll make allowances for emulating the game in order to keep things moving. If ever a game becomes available to purchase legitimately, please let me know as I do believe in rewarding the creators of these works. I don't see how paying anyone else benefits the creation of these games. Emulated titles are denoted with a asterisk (*).

5) No cheating: No cheat codes, walkthroughs, or player-made maps. The only documentation that I'll allow myself is what originally came with the game or a port. I'd like to keep hints from readers and viewers kept to a minimum; use your best judgment on that. After I finish, I'll read a walkthrough or two to make sure I cover everything in the review.

6) Roll credits: I will play each game to the very end. Looking at the CRPG Addict's efforts, I wonder how sane this is, but I'm convinced it's the way to go. I want to give the game every chance to redeem itself. This also means the game needs to end or show an ending sequence. And, to be honest, we all know console games are easier, right? ;)

7) Minimal saving/loading: I'm not going to save at every other step nor after every risky encounter. Once per save point, per level, per dungeon, or in town only: whatever makes sense for the current game. I'll only reload a game if I get a game over.

Rating System
If you read the last post, then you can probably guess the categories of my rating system. I took the persona types and described them by a title. Taking a[nother] page from the CRPG Addict and the Adventure Gamer, I've come up with my own acronym to accompany my rating system. Here's a quick rundown of CAPICE:

Combatant - Stomping bad guys and overcoming the odds:
 - Balanced combat that remains challenging.
 - Interesting options and strategies during combat.
 - Enemies are unique, interesting, and fit well with the game world.
 - Fighting is heavily influenced by stats rather than a player's dexterity.
 - Satisfying and balanced rewards for defeating encounters.

Admirer - It's all about the 'my guys':
 - Abilities advance based on practiced or repeated actions.
 - Skills and magic are customizable.
 - Appearance is adjustable and changes based on items equipped.
 - Advancement options are available with equally viable options.
 - Control of the characters is intuitive, smooth, and satisfying.

Puzzler - For those less inclined to combat, these are the other obstacles to overcome:
 - Main quest or the next goal is clearly defined.
 - Side quests are available and interesting.
 - Puzzles and mini-games are challenging without being frustrating.
 - All the above mesh with the setting and the rewards are fitting.
 - Multiple solutions exist and lead to different outcomes.

Instigator - What would a CRPG be without a story to drive it?
 - Main narrative draws the player into the world as an active participant.
 - NPCs offer dialogue options and help with quests and puzzles.
 - Descriptions are provided for locations, items, enemies, NPCs, and characters.
 - Immersion is enhanced by all story elements.
 - Player decisions influence the story and the consequences are obvious.

Collector - Get stuff, sell stuff, get better stuff:
 - A variety of items exists in the game world to find.
 - Game world economy exists, and does not become irrelevant.
 - If party inventory is limited, a place exists to store equipment and items.
 - Relative strength and value of items is available in the game.
 - Achievements are tracked, and completion is obvious.

Explorer - A whole new world to find:
 - Graphics, music, and sound effects are not distracting from enjoyment.
 - World and environments are interesting, rewarding discovery.
 - Atmosphere is inviting and consistent.
 - Points of interest, unique features, and Easter eggs exist; they fit in the game world.
 - Exploration is open, and characters are not arbitrarily (invisible walls) cut off from places.

Each category has a max of 10 with 100% max total score being a perfect 60. Much like CRPG Addict, I'll be grading each game based on my enjoyment at the time I play it; historical significance is not reflected in this rating.

I think that about covers all the logistics. I appreciate comments on any area.

Sorry for the all text post, but I wanted to get these two topics out of the way now. In case you skipped over all the above (or your eyes just glazed over until this last bit), don't worry, relax, and enjoy the ride. On to the games!


  1. I tried to see if anything was missing, but it looks like you have it covered. The whole "CAPICE" thing is clever... how did you come up with that?

    1. I don't know if I thanked you for adding my blog to your side bar. So, thank you for doing that. I hope you enjoy the blog once I start really getting into the games.

    2. You didn't, but now you did. You're very welcome! I'm looking forward to reading about ze games. :)

  2. Well, I started with the personality types listed in Swords & Circuitry, boiled them down to a few one word descriptive titles, and looked for an acronym. Capice presented itself rather quickly, and I liked it. I think Instigator and Admirer were the only ones I had to seek out to fit this.

  3. I must say, despite how controversial they often were on the CRPG Addict the numerical ratings are the least interesting part of the reviews for me: I'm much more interested in your words and impressions then the numerical rating you give them.

    I've also voted on your poll: I vote for emulation, as it turns out that deveopers don't actually get diddlysquat for people buying their old games: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2012/02/why-dont-more-game-developers-see-royalties-from-their-work.ars

    I'd say if the game is cheap then you should play it on the original, but don't shell out $70 for a copy of Ogre Battle 64 or something. I would however google around and check for known emulation problems, and make sure to consider then in your review.

  4. Yes, I understand the argument that it doesn't benefit developers, and often not even publishers as is the case for purchasing something off ebay. Emulation issues are my biggest fear in this case. No worries about Ogre Battle 64, I got that for $10 on the WiiVC, at least I know the money is going to Nintendo and possibly SquareEnix. I'm definitely for helping the creators of the work whenever I can.

    I'll down play the numbers a bit more, and increase detailing my thoughts behind the numbers. Especially for games that I'm cutting since I've noticed I could expand those quite a bit.