I played the game early on in its life. Conversations were had around my elementary school lunch table, and I specifically recall playing during one of my trips to Dad’s office at CBS/KCAL (sometime between 2006 and 2009).
Like Realm of the Mad God, the game meant a lot to me growing up. I even thought about revisiting it a year ago:
Because I never did, I wanted to try and write something for July 4 this year. I looked up the website hoping to get some work in for a more fleshed out reflection.
I signed up for this particular new Naruto-Arena to give it a fair shot. It’s in an early build where all characters are available to test, and some key elements like character unlock missions are being implemented.
But it aesthetically nails the old look:
Right down to the statistical layout on the right side of the scroll.
It didn’t take me very long to come into a quick game. Though the transition into battle was rough, battling itself hit my nostalgia hard.
This remake replicates the way lingering technique effects stack beside each character, and the way your overall ranking changes their portrait’s accessories.
I also have to give this remake props for proving to me that over 10-year-old muscle memory is just as potent as ever:
I just did a quick game, but this new Naruto-Arena has a fairly fleshed out leaderboard to make up for features that are being implemented.
If I start to tackle ranked battles, who knows where I could get?
Though… I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend on this version of Naruto-Arena. It needs a little more time to gestate, and has received updates as recently as June 10.
I’d like to at least have the satisfaction of unlocking characters before diving in.
Yet I really can’t complain. It may have hit me hard to find out a childhood favorite closed without my knowing, but that loss clearly affected a host of other people too. Enough that some of them went on to try and revitalize it.
That’s the truly powerful thing about fandom: A strong sense of community forged in the small, unofficial details.
I’m glad I got to be a part of that for a time.
RIP Naruto-Arena. Sorry I couldn’t be there for your swan song.
For my Gaming in American Culture class today, we spent a good two hours or so playing board games.
As a means of practicing different ways of analyzing games. Not for fun.
Except… There was a lot of fun being had in my group.
Because we played The BarbieGame: Queen of the Prom.
In case you can’t read it through the box glare, the tag line for the game is “A fun game with real life appeal for all girls.”
Developed in the 1960s.
If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what will.
That being said, I’m still about to tell you everything you need to know because by God this game is phenomenal in how atrocious it is.
Yet, we need to talk about some decent aspects of the game first. Namely its aesthetic presentation.
There’s some cacophony on first glance, but the board itself is quite well laid out and screams art deco.
The box itself also comes with this nifty stage for all of the different relevant cards and bank money:
Don’t worry, I’ll get into what these mean soon enough.
Our version of the game, provided by the professor, also happened to include some extra charm in the way of additional player pieces:
So the game is pretty and well laid out.
Unfortunately, that does not save it from being a perfect window into the sexist ways of the 1960s.
So what is the “real life appeal for all girls” that this game boasts?
Well, obviously the ultimate goal is to become prom queen.
In order to make the arduous journey to prom, there are three things that you (presumably as one of four different Barbie girls™) need to collect along the way.
A prom dress — This one actually makes a decent amount of sense.
A steady boyfriend — Not just a boyfriend. You can get a boyfriend, but he won’t be REAL until he asks you out at a football game and you go steady. Also these are your choices:
The presidency in a school club — Seriously, how do you expect to be prom queen if you aren’t even the president of the drama club? You plebe.
With all three, you can achieve true supremacy.
Oh, and that’s only half a joke. The game is designed to make it harder for players to catch up if one is ahead. For instance, most of the club spaces are specific, so players who land there after you cannot receive the same presidency.
Though they may not want to considering how inept the drama club is.
On top of that, two players cannot share a single boyfriend, so it might be harder to find the stragglers.
That said, boyfriends can’t be THAT hard to come by. Especially if you’re the most popular girl in school.
Or you get set up on a double date.
Or you know that some loser is an exploitable secret admirer.
Or even better, just pick one out of a hat!
It’s amazing that I never scored a boyfriend during our playtime when there are so many of them getting thrown about.
… Though that said I might not have wanted one, when date time includes things like this:
So finally, there’s the prom dress. I saved this one for last because it’s arguably the most interesting as a game mechanic.
There are four dresses. The cheapest is $30 and the most expensive is $65.
In 2019 that sounds dope as hell. However, this is also Inflation: the game.
You start with $25 and make (typically) $5 at most. One of the few exceptions to that rule is a perfect example of why players who aren’t quick enough to get the cheap dresses are basically screwed.
All things considered, these goals might not seem like that much compared to a game like Monopoly, where you need to own the entire planet, build out hotels and literally bankrupt all of your friends (as well as your friendships with them).
But what I haven’t told you is that The BarbieGame has one four-sided dice.
So you’re moving around the board at a snail’s pace. While there are a number of spaces and “surprise” cards that allow you to go to whatever part of the board you want — arguably the only semblance of strategy in the entire experience, there are an infinitum more ways to wind up getting sent back home.
We found that this in itself was an interesting commentary on the nature of a teenage girl in the 60s only being able to go out to do one thing at a time before forcibly getting dragged back home for any number of reasons.
But you know. 2019 foresight again.
To extend the game’s runtime even further, there are a few different spaces which do literally nothing.
There was some 2010s time traveler in the room when they made this game who threw in this sarcastic Internet-era joke, I swear.
We didn’t get to finish a full game, so unfortunately I can’t regale you with the triumphant story of some lucky prom queen. But I hope if nothing else, this gave you a very interesting look into the mindset of people more than 50 years ago.
Good thing we’ve moved past this kind of stuff.
Oh wait that’s right, this was a reprint of the game.
We haven’t learned shit.
Luckily my group played a much better game soon after to wipe away the tears.
I do actually have some fond memories of playing Burnout games on the PlayStation 2 with my dad that I could probably talk about some day.
That’s just not my plan for right now.
No, instead I just wanted to briefly touch on a more depressing, real-world form of burnout: School burnout.
The end of this semester is kind of killing me with stress right now, guys.
We only have two weeks of regular classes left at this point, and after that there are three days worth of final exams I’ll have to take. So we’re hitting the last stretch of fall 2018.
That means all of my teachers are stepping up their games with a number of incoming deadlines and attempts to squeeze in as much information as possible in a short amount of time.
Obviously this post is just here for me to vent on everything I have going on that’s contributing to stress, so let’s lay it all out.
In the next week or so I have two major papers due, as well as a couple of smaller two-page papers to write.
One of those major papers is almost done, but the other one I haven’t really started on… Yikes.
At least one more quiz tomorrow in my Sensation and Perception class, though probably another one coming next week if I’m being honest.
By the way, last week the professor of that class introduced at least six more lecture PowerPoints online to fit into only four more lecture sessions AND let us know his cumulative final will not be curved — nice guy.
Whatever other homework I need to get done that will be assigned in the next two weeks.
Three exam finals, one of which being a cumulative test as I mentioned, as well as a fourth exam that’s a case study analysis for my Mass Media Ethics class.
But let’s not forget about all the other responsibilities I have lining up!
I’ve scheduled out at least three interviews for Gladeo in the near future to focus work on.
A potential sit-down with a family friend about a new potential job opportunity that I could take on. Not yet scheduled.
My friend Tiana wants me to help her edit another one of her papers, which I’m more than happy to do but don’t know if I have the cycles free — and the thought of turning her down due to time management almost stresses me out as much as adding helping her onto my workload…
Wanting to fit in continual trips to the gym into my schedule so I don’t fall off that commitment, especially after moving boxes the other day made me feel less confident about the progress I’ve made thus far.
Trying to keep up writing a blog post a day.
Yeah this blog does stress me out, in a similar way to going to the gym. It has become an obligation for me that I feel terrible about skipping, especially after things like my dad complimenting my commitment to writing during lunch with a family friend yesterday.
Just generally thinking about girls and wanting a relationship but feeling like I don’t know if I have the time to commit to one (more of a deeply personal grievance).
Plus a couple new video games I own thanks to Hanukkah that I have not gotten the chance to start yet.
Probably the lowest rung on my priority list, but it’s there.
Like I said, I actually feel really bad when I have to miss writing something. Yesterday I was simply too buried in a small mountain of homework to get around to writing anything, unfortunately.
So I wanted to write something up today for the ten of you or so who read this stuff regularly. Even if it just amounted to me barfing up all the obligations that are stressing me out for the next couple weeks.
If I’m going anywhere with this post besides making it a ventilation system for my stress, I suppose the through line is my asking for forgiveness ahead of time if I don’t get to writing as often over the next couple weeks.
… Though knowing the way my brain works, I’ll wind up writing a lot here anyway in place of taking extra time to study. Because it’s a decent stress reliever and my priorities are weird.
Also because I love you all. Especially when you stick with me for things like this.
As much as it’s better to be busy than bored, I’ve been a little stretched thin. Unfortunately that means some things have to fall through the cracks, and some big Fire Emblem Heroes stuff happens to be what fell through said cracks this time around. It’s a shame too, there have been multiple things that I otherwise would have loved to talk about in a more timely manner.
But look at me complaining about missing fun stuff because work and responsibilities got in the way. Probably time to move on to what I’m talking about today before the world’s smallest violin busts out a tune.
Since I gabbed about the game’s Brave Heroes update last time around, quite a few things have happened. First and foremost:
That’s right, I got me a special Lucy.
Humblebrag that may be, but Lucina is one of my favorite characters given her high prestige as my Super Smash Bros. 4 main fighter. So I’m excited about it and wanted to share it with the world.
The last Voting Gauntlet also wound up being much more of an intense game than I’ve seen in some time. As I predicted at the beginning of the competition, Ike won.
The guy is so popular that it was hard to imagine he wouldn’t, and I got off with plenty of hero feathers thanks to my lucky intelligent deduction, so you’ll hear no complains from me. Camilla did put up a good fight though, and the intense competition both in the overall Gauntlet and within my friend group (as we literally split down the middle with our support) made things way more engaging.
Also we got 4 orbs every two days for each of the three rounds. That’s a nice incentive as well. Feel free to keep nice stuff like that flowing, Intelligent Systems.
Then as things moved into September, we got an event calendar for the month that preempted a bunch of cool things coming in the near future:
A few of these events have started already, and those are the crux of what I’m here to talk about today. So let’s get going and split it up appropriately, shall we?
Ironically this version update is the biggest news to come out of Fire Emblem Heroes in a long time… Yet I don’t have a ton to say about it.
Fire Emblem has become known not only for its high difficulty strategy-RPG gameplay, but also for its comprehensive unit support systems across many of the games in the series. In Fire Emblem Heroes, only one of those things has been represented since the initial release.
Until now, that is.
Ally support systems are in the game, and with it comes endless possibilities for ships in serious and in meme-worthy contexts. As someone who has loved shipping in Fire Emblem games since my first venture into Sacred Stones, I’m more than excited to see that we can pair up characters to our hearts content.
Just like in the main series titles, allies who fight near one another in battle gain support rankings that range from C to S when undergoing support training. However, an interesting component to Heroes’ model comes from the fact that you can constantly switch who your hero supports. You could have an S-support with a unit only to break that off and start another one back at C, and you can do so as many times as you want.
While I haven’t had the chance to build much support beyond basic C-level stuff, it seems as though the characters interact in a cute little cutscene to show how much they enjoy each other’s company for every rank you climb. You can view the little vignettes that come with this whenever you want.
In battle, supporting allies gain bonuses depending on their rank and distance from one another:
C-rank grants units +1 resistance from one space away, double that when adjacent.
B-rank grants units +1 resistance and defense from one space away, double that when adjacent.
A-rank grants units +1 resistance, defense and speed from one space away, double that when adjacent.
S-rank grants units +1 resistance, defense, speed and attack from one space away, double that when adjacent.
However, on the battlefield itself, it doesn’t appear as though supporting units get special indication beyond a heart over the support partner when you select one or the other. Perhaps there’s more if you get higher that I haven’t seen, but in this case there’s no way for me to know.
I do hope they add in a small heart animation when units fight side by side though. That would be amazing.
The other interesting thing to note about ally support is that you, the summoner, can get in on the anime-themed shipping action as well!
That’s right, what would a modern Fire Emblem game be without a self-insert character to pair with any unit you desire? The concept behind how this works is exactly the same so long as you replace each instance of “two units” with “one unit,” as you technically count as the second presence in the room.
The scaling benefits are also slightly better for summoner supported allies:
A C-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance and +3 health at all times.
A B-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense and +4 health at all times.
An A-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense, speed and +4 health at all times.
An S-rank grants the summoner-supporting unit +2 resistance, defense, speed, attack and +5 health at all times.
Okay by slightly better I actually mean infinitely better. These are some amazing stat buffs to be able to bestow upon one ally.
Which, of course, brings us to the question that serves as this post’s title.
Are you the kind of player that will pair your units together because you canonically love them as a pairing in the story of their games/the story of your imagination’s choosing?
Or are you the kind of player that will pair your units strictly to build the strongest team imaginable, letting no stat points go to waste?
Personally… I haven’t decided which category I am. In all other circumstances I would wholeheartedly go for option 1, as I ship literally anything and everything in any video game I play, TV show I watch, book I read and more. But for Fire Emblem Heroes the pure stat buffs are awfully tempting… Especially on my cavalier team.
I would kill for some high-leveled units to get even stronger.
But for the summoner support especially I’m at a loss. Who do I want to be with? Do I pair myself with a powerful unit like a Brave Lyn to make her a battling monster? Do I pair with a sentimental unit like Eirika from my favorite Fire Emblem game (despite her actual husband being available)? Or do I pair myself with a unit like Nino, my first true Fire Emblem Heroes waifu? I literally have no idea.
Oh well. I’ll have time to figure it out.
Overall, I would say the Ally Support system is a welcome addition to this mobile title that, despite being somewhat barebones right now, easily serves its purpose and has opened the flood gates for people to do whatever they please in terms of customizable relationships.
In a sense it’s somewhat ingenious to have the feature in a mobile game styled like Heroes is where each player can build their own experiences with unit pairing. Sure it’s only porting an already existing idea over, but I still think it lends itself uproariously well.
And if I ever summon her I’ll be able to finally get revenge on the restrictive Echoes by shipping Genny and Tobin.
While shipping is easily the biggest addition to Version 1.7.0, it isn’t the only one.
Though there isn’t a lot, so the pictures above basically sum everything up.
A search option for skill inheritance is a great idea, one that I’m sure already has, is continuing to and will from here on out save people tons of time when building teams. The rest of the stuff boils down to some aesthetic and deep mechanical adjustments that I don’t feel like I have to dive into that deeply.
If anything, I just think it’s safe to say that I appreciate the game developers for constantly updating things to make the best user experience possible. So far nothing they’ve done has failed me yet and it seems like the community as a whole enjoys the changes too.
Keep it up Intelligent Systems, and I’ll keep up giving you some free publicity whenever you start up new developments. New interesting developments.
New interesting developments such as –
Tempest Trials Mini: To Die on the Battlefield
A new Tempest Trial, which launched just today!
In other words, this is the section of this post that kept me from getting that much sleep last night. Thanks game, you always know how to prod at my insomniac button.
The Trials start off about how we’ve come to expect them at this point. Masked Lucina has teamed up with the four top Bonus Allies for this go around (Eliwood, Lyn, Hector and Ninian) to help lead them into the Tempest so they can protect their world.
However, she does warn them that the character at the end of the Trial is a special kind of foe:
After you break through the usual barrage of battles (seven at the highest Lunatic difficulty in my case), you come across that special foe. The build-up is intense, the anticipation is great, and in the end…
It’s Hector. Given the description Lucina gave for him I suppose it makes sense that this is the character who’d show up at the end, but I wouldn’t liked to see something more novel-
I’m sorry, what was that? 85 health?
And Distant Counter?
My god… This unit is completely overpowered.
I actually legitimately think it’s glorious just how overpowered he is. Hector is already considered to be one of the most powerful units in the game and they buffed him to high hell for this event. Thank god they keep units weak after you lose a fight, otherwise this might have been next to impossible. He actually beat down quite a few of my units before I was able to finally take him down the first time, ending the first of many future runs at the same challenges that I’ll be playing for the next week.
Oh, uhh… Also the background is pretty.
Hector kind of overshadows it, but I do think it’s quite nice. Thought that would be worth mentioning.
Mechanically speaking, not all that much is new this time around. Everything that has been added throughout the last couple of Tempest Trials runs have made their return, and I definitely appreciate their continued appearance. Weaker opponents upon losing a fight and switching to a new team still probably being my favorite. Though a close second is the two daily rounds of extra bonus points for completing runs on top of the separate daily rewards you receive for completing said runs that really encourage continued habit-building playing.
This particular event only lasting a week instead of two weeks (hence the “Mini” modifier) also means there are less reward tiers, making everything easier to collect. Bonus Allies become that much more worthwhile as a result, since they continue to boast stat boosts across the board on top of their value as point multipliers.
Now, it may sound like I just glossed over the idea that the event is shorter and has less rewards, which is something I’m sure plenty of people have found reason to complain about… But frankly I glossed over it because I think it’s rather nice.
As my very complaint-filled introduction at the beginning suggested, I don’t have a ton of time to spare as of late. Thus, having a smaller and more manageable event with easier goals to reach is a godsend if anything.
On top of that the rewards are so tightly packed that it feels like we’re getting plenty of bang for our buck in quantity.
Though that does bring up another point. These rewards are… Fairly disappointing overall.
Don’t get me wrong, things like free orbs are a commodity I’ll never complain about, and with my huge stockpile of Stamina Potions I have no doubt that all of those sweet little spheres will be in my inventory in no time flat. But these Trials tend to be known for big special prizes throughout the point accumulation process that serve as driving forces.
This run doesn’t really have that, for me at least.
Masked Lucina is the character reward, and even my love for her doesn’t change the fact that I already own a five-star version to use. Defense 1 and Quickened Pulse are also pretty ‘meh’ rewards, as they are Sacred Seals I already have (though I do encourage anyone who doesn’t have it to go after Quickened Pulse).
Distant Defense is brand new at least, and it certainly looks like it will be right at home on a bulky unit I own sometime soon. However, that’s about it beyond the orbs. Maybe I’m just feeling picky, which I know I shouldn’t considering there’s a full Tempest Trial coming at the end of the month that I’m sure will have all the cool stuff we could ask for.
One thing this trial does have going for it is a pretty dope summoning focus banner based on the Bonus Allies. Basically everyone on the list is a super cool and powerful hero to have, so even though I haven’t decided whether to use my own orbs yet I know the risk will certainly be worth it for some.
For now, however, I’m sticking with Masked Lucina as my main multiplier. Girl puts in work with those stat buffs.
Unless more comes up as I play through the next week of fights, that’s really all I have to say about these Trials. I like the idea that miniature versions can exist, and I hope that means more events will be encouraged in the future, but this particular run doesn’t add too much to the overarching plot line or the pile of special prizes we’ve seen in the past.
If nothing else it simply serves as a nice transition into a focus on some Blazing Blade content. Speaking of, how’s about we move into the next thing.
Bound Hero Battle: Ephraim & Eirika
Though I don’t normally talk about these events, the fact that Sacred Stones has been the focus makes it worth at least bringing up as a farewell of sorts.
The mid-to-late portion of August was spent in the world of Sacred Stones between new heroes and a Grand Hero Battle. By the looks of it, this event may be the last hurrah for it on Heroes for a while as things move into The Blazing Blade with the mini Tempest Trial.
Though I think it’s a shame, more than one game does deserve to have the spotlight. Life moves on and all that, so I’ll just look forward to the next shot we might get at Neimi. #NeverGiveUpNeverSurrender
In terms of the Bound Hero Battle itself there isn’t all that much to say. It features one difficult battle with three challenge levels that offer scaling rewards.
Hard mode gives out two orbs, Lunatic gives out three orbs and Infernal gives out a whopping four orbs. Nine orbs ain’t too shabby.
For the actual playable map itself, I can’t honestly decipher which map from the original game it’s trying to emulate. This one seems just a bit too simple to really give any substantial hints in my opinion, though it has been driving me crazy enough that I tried doing some outside research on the matter.
Oh, and as an added note, thank god for Serenes Forest having these maps available to see. If it didn’t my wall would probably have a very distinct Jason-shaped hole in it right about now.
The Bound Hero Battle also comes with a summoning banner featuring Eirika, Ephraim and Seth. The only one on the list that I don’t personally own is Ephraim, and considering he’s also on another banner that’s running at the same time…
I probably won’t be summoning off of this focus. Sorry Ephraim, I’ll snatch you up eventually.
Boy oh boy that was a lot. On the bright side, I think that should cover my personal obligation to talk about Fire Emblem Heroes for a good while.
Or for at least a week. At which point we get new heroes according to the schedule. Then we’ll get another Bound Hero Battle, a full Tempest Trials run and some Fire Emblem Warriors-themed maps after that.
… Yeah alright, maybe there’s more coming up than I expected. Guess it’ll give me a nice break from the already ever-present slog of school if I make the time to talk about them.
Which of course I will, so look forward to some of that!
How do you feel about character pairings coming to the mobile Fire Emblem hit? Or about the prospects of a potentially more frequent miniature version of the Tempest Trials? Or about the many events coming down the pipeline? Let me know in the comments below!
For a soon to be 20-year-old bachelor on Valentine’s Day, it helps to remember the small things that make what would otherwise be something similar to every other day into something more special thanks to that spirit of love in the air.
Like staying up into the early hours of the morning reading a book about one of the worst workplace disasters in American history.
Or taking a quiz about said awful tragedy.
Or eating pizza while doing homework, studying Bonobos for my primate class.
(I bet those Bonobos are jealous they don’t have pizza like this, I tell you what)
Playing Fire Emblem Heroes even seems to be just a touch more romantic, I’d say.