There’s a new Wizardry

After waiting for seems like an eternity, Wizardry: The Five Ordeals has finally arrived. Naturally, as America’s Most Important Wizardry fan, I snagged a copy.

The titular Five Ordeals in question are five different campaigns that follow the traditional Wizardry rules: create a party, go into a dungeon, solve the mystery of said dungeon, which always means kill the big bad guy at the end, then transfer that party to the next campaign and do it all over. In and of itself, The Five Ordeals is more than worth the cost of thirty big ones. But there’s even more. See, this is a rerelease of a 2006 Japan-only PC game. The selling point of the original game was a scenario editor, which allowed you to create your own Wizardry campaigns. Now, unfortunately, the scenario editor is not yet implemented in the Steam version, so I can’t mess around with that and see how good it is. But to tide everyone over until then, a large number of fan-made campaigns from the original have been included. 59 to be exact. You combine that with the five main ordeals, and that is a whopping 64 different stories to play through. Granted, a number of them remain in Japanese, but there are a handful in varying degrees of English.

Right. I should point out that, as an early access game, the localization is not complete. The UI and the combat are in English, but any story beats require you to be able to read Japanese for a majority of the campaigns, including the official ones. The game is still entirely playable, but you may feel like you’re missing out on some things.

hachi machi

So, as such, I have not been playing any of the official chapters. Rather, I’ve spent the past week messing around with a couple of fan scenarios, settling on “Fate of Accursed Beings.”

As a veteran of many fan-content driven games, I have to tread carefully through this minefield. There’s a lot of would-be designers that like to pump out absolute garbage; I’m still trying to forget the dark days of LittleBigPlanet. Given that the scenarios for Wizardry’s Steam port were hand-picked by the devs, that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. And it is absolutely not an issue with Fate of Accursed Beings. If anything, these feel just as good, if not moreso, than many commercial releases of Wizardry.

Like any good Wizardry, Fate of Accursed Beings encourages you to take it slow. Make a bit of progress mapping out your environment, fight a couple monsters, run back to town to heal and buy/sell equipment, then go back in to make a little more progress. Each time, you get a little stronger, and you begin to recognize the layout of the dungeon. It’s clearing these small milestones that make Wizardry so rewarding. Yes, Wizardry can be difficult, if you run headfirst into everything with a level 1 party, expecting to clear each floor in a single trip. If you keep a cool head, and play cautiously, that level of challenge goes down more and more (it never fully goes away). Slowly chipping away at this wall until it comes crumbling down is half of what makes dungeon crawlers so good. The other half of course being in creating your party.

I’m currently on the fourth floor of the first dungeon (this scenario has two). Currently, there are a number of closed gates that I’m trying to find a switch for, to no avail. So I keep going down, further and further, to see if that switch can be found. Opening up these gates will allow me easier access to the elevator on the first floor, shortening the amount of time I spend on runs, until I can get to the wizard that’s causing all the problems down here.

Something about this game that I was worried would no be included, due to weird legal issues popping up earlier in the year, were the wireframe dungeons. There’s a weird fucking part of my brain that needs that extremely lo-fi visual aesthetic, and I’m glad it’s here. Not that the hand drawn environments are bad or anything, but I need wireframes. We also get the excellent monster designs from Jun Suemi, who is the best at creating a sense of wonder and majesty with her depictions of medieval fantasy.

She’s just a really fucking good artist:

The Five Ordeals is as worthy a successor to the Story of Llygamin crown as it can get. I get that same feeling playing this for a week than I have playing the Super Famicom compilation all these years. A perfect game to play, late at night, trudging your way through a black and white dungeon, watching numbers go up. All that’s left is to wait for that full localization and that editing tool. An editing tool that will bless the entire world with the gift of ENDLESS WIZARDRY.

If this takes off, I might have to add another recurring segment to the site where I play more fan-made scenarios. Another recurring segment that I will forget to do regularly after a few months, Laugh Out Loud.

the pc-engine is god’s favorite console: mini edition

That PC-Engine Mini I ordered finally arrived last Friday. Obviously, I’ve spent all week playing with it, getting used to holding a rectangular controller again, and generally thinking that this thing is really fucking cool.

I’ve also spent the past week trying to think of how to do a write up of it. I didn’t want to do a bit by bit run down of every game on the system as 1) I’ve already written about some of them and 2) that’s what everyone who owns a PC-Engine Mini has done.

3) I uh already streamed a bunch of games already:

oh hell yeah

So no, I won’t be doing the standard review for this. I’ll instead say that again, the PC-Engine Mini is really cool. The collection of games on it is very “Ramona-centric” I’ll say. Most of the classic Compile shooters, Gradius 1 and 2, Genpei Fucking Toumaden (among a couple other Namco classics), Parasol Stars, and Rondo of Blood. I never, ever thought that I would see a rerelease of Genpei Toumaden again, and yet here it is, on my big-ass TV. That’s awesome.

There are a few notable exceptions, for better and for worse. I was surprised at a lack of Valis, given how big a deal that series was for the CD-ROM add-on. Also, given the number of Namco games on here, there’s no Tower of Druaga, itself a big arcade hit with a great PC-Engine remake. While Bomberman ’93 and ’94 are utterly fantastic, I would have liked to see the original Bomberman included, if only for historical reasons. I mean, if The Kung Fu could be on there, why not? Another problem is the inclusion of shit like Appare! Gateball and the horrible port of Ninja Gaiden, a game where the background scrolls in the wrong direction.

On the plus side?


Good! It’s about time the world finally comes to an agreement that Keith Courage fucking sucks. Terrible, wretched game.

only thing that’s missing here is my old bottle of vicodin

One more complaint about the games: JJ and Jeff, but no Kato and Ken.

Those complaints aside, I have had so much fun with this little box. I realize that I spent over a hundred bucks in order to play games that I’ve already been playing for free the last twenty years, but it was worth it. While I am a huge proponent of emulation, and getting a hold of games any way possible, I still felt a desire of ownership for this one particular console. Granted, this isn’t the real PC-Engine, with its HuCards and CD-ROMS, but it’s a reasonable enough facsimile. There are PC-Engine games on my TV, with no frameskipping, so I’m seeing every frame, despite what emulators tell me when there’s an obvious frame skip happening. There’s no input lag, or at least no noticeable input lag when compared to running these games in Magic Engine or Mednafen (it’s about the same across the board). It’s Christmas, and this is the best gift I got, materialism-wise.

Long story short: the PC-Engine Mini rules, and I’m glad I was able to find one.

And here’s me 1cc’ing Gradius:

Romance of the Three Kingdoms X

Over the course of my life, I have developed and honed many skills. One particular skill I am absolutely, 100% lacking in is anything involving leadership. This is why I tend to work alone, or work with someone if they’re the one in charge. The multitasking and management is something I cannot wrap my head around. As such, I am completely unfit to be a politician or a cult leader (but I repeat myself).

Despite this, I still like to occasionally load up games that firmly put me in a leadership role. Stellaris, Sword of the Samurai (the best DOS game of all time), Sim City, A-Train, Mount and Blade, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I never get very far in any of these games, because I can’t manage for shit (except for Sword of the Samurai, which I can actually finish somehow). Maybe it’s out of some desire to improve this weak point I have? It’s not like they’re relaxing games to chill out to, what with all the war, financial disasters, natural disasters, and such.

I’ve spent the past couple days starting a new file in Romance of the Three Kingdoms X. ROTKX is one of those games I picked up on a whim one day, back when buying PS2 games wasn’t seemingly part of a money-laundering scheme. This would have been right when the PS3 was either on its way out, or had just debuted in horrific fashion, and when the prices on PS2 games had been slashed to shit. There had never been a better time to get invested in a Playstation 2, other than maybe when, you know, the system was at its peak. But hey, I was broke or homeless during most of the system’s life, and didn’t get mine until 2004. Anyways, during this time of stores wanting to clear out their inventory, people like me made out like bandits. I got ROTKX because it was different than the other stuff I had been picking up. And if it sucked? Who cares, it was like fifteen bucks.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a series that I had tried into before. Being so thoroughly entrenched in emulation, I had definitely tried out the first few games, to no avail: I was simply way too fucking stupid to Get It. This game, though, was either simple enough, or I had simply matured as a person, and got it pretty fucking quick.

This particular series of games is based on an extremely sensationalized historical novel that I somehow had the time and patience to read as a teenager. Boy howdy, there are parts of that book that are fucked up. The book itself is based on historical records from a period of major political upheaval in China. A lot of civil unrest, and various leaders plotting and scheming to unite the entire land under their rule. The kind of shit that makes for a good TV game. The rest of the world knows about this story from the Dynasty Warriors series, which is spun-off from the ROTK games.

I bring up the novel because this game has something I really appreciate: the “Fictional” mode. Rather than follow events as closely as possible to its source material (or at inasmuch as it can if you’re playing as a character that did not actually unify China), this mode plays a little more fast and loose with things. Some things, like Liu Bei swearing an oath of brotherhood with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are still present, as are events kicking off with the Yellow Turban Rebellion. My current game began with me, playing as Guan Yu, following Liu Bei into battle against the Yellow Turbans. Liu Bei, Tactical Genius, thought charging a well-stocked rebel army with only a few hundred troops was a good idea. I guess it makes sense: the ROTK novel makes Liu Bei out to be an absolute sociopath who relies on everyone else to think for him. Guan Yu got captured, was given an opportunity to join the Yellow Turbans, which I accepted so as to avoid public execution (you will always be executed if you say no), and that’s where I’m at now. Years in, the Yellow Turbans are still around, and are even taking over other lands, as opposed to being quickly destroyed by the combined efforts of the Royal Court.

Normally, these games place you firmly within the position of leader. You pick a character, and you run their particular territory, expanding more and more until you run it all. X however, changes things up. You don’t have to be a leader. This is great, because as I opened this post with, I am a terrible leader. I can spend the rest of Guan Yu’s life serving under this group. Maybe the Yellow Turbans get overthrown, or lose all their major territories, and I’m offered a job by a former enemy. I can serve long enough to earn enough money and influence to go rogue, and form my own kingdom. I can retire from office, and spend all my time wandering from town to town, helping regular people in need. I have this freedom to run a kingdom before I inevitably fuck it up, but I also have the freedom to become a renowned folk hero of the downtrodden. I can be known as a fearsome warrior who has never lost a duel, or a peace-loving intellectual master debater. The scope can be so massive, but then you can hone in and focus and the smallest of details: a person’s life. Given how fucked up a lot of the characters in this actually are, and how the events are essentially a series of brutal wars, maybe retreating from that life to do good things is the right course of action. It should be noted that this is one of the only games in the series to let you do this; the sequels went right back to leader-only roles.

Of all the off-beat PS2 games I bought “just because,” Romance of the Three Kingdoms X is among the best of that group. In a lot of ways, it really does feel like the PS2 was built off of its “weird” games. For every major title, like a Final Fantasy or a Metal Gear, you would have dozens of these unloved games full of heart. And yes, before anyone thinks to correct me, I am fully aware that Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a megahit in Asian territories. But like with Hydlide and Druaga, it’s an unloved bastard of a game over here in America. It has a reputation of being utterly inscrutable. I will tell you, as a Major Dumb Ass, that it really isn’t. I can’t run a country for shit, but that’s more to do with my own personal failings, rather than a lack of detailed instructions. I would say to at least take a quick look at the game and see if it’s for you. If not, hey, you can always wander the land, choosing to rule yourself, instead.


I’m kind of in a mood, so I wasn’t feeling up to doing another essay this week. I have a few things in the drafts folder that will be done fairly quick. Instead, I think I’ll use this space to I don’t know, talk about life, I guess?

After hemming and hawwing over it for a while, I’ve decided that I’m quitting sex work. Not because I’m ashamed of it, or because I got fucked over by the industry or anyone within it. Sure, the pay kind of sucked, but I suppose you can apply that to any other job in the world. No, I quit because I was sick and tired of the clientele. Working a phone sex line, you would imagine that you would be taking calls from horny dudes who wanted someone to moan and talk dirty in their ears; perfectly normal, understandable stuff. For a time, that was true. For the last couple months, shit has gotten dark. Disturbed men calling me at weird hours, telling me about their sexual fantasies involving children and animals. Telling me about wanting to watch their own daughters be gangbanged by a large group of Black men. Of course, they didn’t say “Black men,” they used a much different word that I’m not going to repeat. I don’t like being up until four in the morning, lying awake and feeling like shit over hearing some fucked up, depraved stuff for nearly an hour at a time. Hearing the absolute hate and venom in their voices, I can’t imagine that at least one of these assholes isn’t on Facebook, posting boomer memes about people like me in public bathrooms. Every week, some poor TGirl gets labeled a monster by the world at large, all over the stupidest shit: posting too many selfies, making a sex joke, being too popular, having self-confidence, you fucking name it. All the while, men like this can operate no fucking problem. It’s disgusting, and it has actively been affecting my mental well-being in extremely negative ways. Doesn’t help that Niteflirt does an extremely good job of making sure that nobody’s contact info is ever made public, so it’s not like I can report to them to some authority, who will then proceed to do absolutely nothing about it.

So I’m quitting. Financially speaking, this is certainly a terrible decision. In the long run, I think it will be better for me.

I suppose I quit just in time because, oh hell yeah, extremely fucked up transmisogyny is back in the news! Nothing I look forward to more than an ever-present reminder that me wanting to go the rest of my life playing games or watching an*me or pro wrestling in peace, except as a girl now, is way too much to ask of people who have absolutely nothing better going on in their lives other than to constantly load themselves up with hate like they’re a prejudiced Hummer.

Before I really get into this, I need to say one thing: Neon Yang is a talentless, opportunistic, transphobic piece of fucking trash. If that’s a sticking point for you, feel free to stick it up your ass. Also, please imagine that I am giving you The Finger as you read this.

This no-good motherfucker, this garbage excuse for a human being teams up with both the head of a Sci-Fi authors guild and a literal millionaire, and they all use their platforms to hound and harass a brand new trans author into a psych ward, causing her to detransition and disappear from public life. I’ve read a lot of great fiction from a lot of great misfits, and I’m saying that Isabel Fall’s short story was legitimately the best work I read in 2020. Now she’s gone, somewhere where the world can’t get her. Her defining work now only exists as a PDF file passed from person to person like it’s fucking contraband. To know what happened to Isabel, and what has happened before and after her, is infuriating. It always happens, some fucking sociopath gets into a jealousy-fueled rage and uses the underlying hate in society to unperson a person. Yeah, I’ve been around that block two or three times.

Seeing Yang gleefully take part in what was essentially a witch hunt over some manufactured “harm” that was done by a well-written science fiction story about the co-opting of gender and sexuality by the military; a story so “harmful” that it was universally praised and beloved by every trans woman who isn’t a moron, then pop up in some sci-fi anthology about…the co-opting of gender and sexuality by the military. Irony is fucking dead. Really, what can you do about it? It’s not like you can do sweet wrestling moves through your computer, or click a button to stop this thing from happening. All you can do is sit there and be mad about it. All you can do is talk shit for a couple hours, while these ghouls laugh at you, and their alt-right cheerleaders on the sidelines slap their thighs and yell out “TRIGGERED! TRIGGERED!” to nobody in particular. It sucks. And it sucks that being upset is wrong, because something something privilege something something marginalized people cannot be shitty towards other marginalized people something something I got all my politics from Tumblr.

Just…sick and tired of seeing so many girls being told to roll over and take it because some bootlicking fuck on a bad web site might subtweet you. Fighting back is Problematic now because it’s an act of male violence and Yang isn’t the spitting image of Mitt Romney. You know, I get cut off in traffic, I honk my horn, yell “HEY FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!” and maybe give the finger. I don’t pull over and mentally rank privilege, before ultimately deciding that I must have deserved it somehow. Some hack writer helping to whip up a braying mob of other shitheads to ruin a woman’s life, solely to take their place and do a much shittier job of it is, in my eyes, starting shit. Someone starts some shit, I will say some back. That’s that. Anyone who tries to tell me that this is an evil thing and “YOU’RE JUST AS BAD AS THEY ARE!!!!!!!” can fuck off.

It’s funny how a few posts ago, I was focusing on trying to be positive and happier in the coming year than I have been in this one. Well, that didn’t really work out, did it?

I’m 35 years old, yet I feel like this old grump. This curmudgeonly fuck that has a growing hatred of the way things are going. I’ve been writing about the hypocrisy of cis people and their bitch ass collaborators. Still writing about it! I’ve been writing about social media perpetuating the further erosion of communication and freedom that the internet once had, now being reduced to a husk of commercialism. So sick of the “hot take clout chasing nft armchair psychiatrist callout why media is bad and you’re stupid for liking it (run time 7:46:29) fleet spaces thread ya’ll quote dunk change my mind wholesome smol bun anime is a slur literally 30 year old media caused trump” culture. I hate what the internet has become. I feel so bad for all the kids that won’t be able to grow up and be able to discover themselves the way that I did, instead stuck with the bland, corporate mandated system of “engagements.” Not super related to my last two points, but fuck it, I’m still in a mood.

Not everything has been frustrating and soul-rending, at least. I did use the last of my Niteflirt earnings to buy myself a PC-Engine Mini. So now after twenty years, I can finally say that I own one. Kind of. Some people say that nostalgia is for those escaping their pain, so I guess it was a hell of a coincidence that this all came to a head while I spend money to relive my teen years in a more official capacity. You bet your ass I’ll be talking about this bad boy when it gets here. Whatever helps keep me indoors while another COVID strain spreads, and keeps me from having to talk to people I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. This Summer, I was planning on going Full Weaboo. I think in 2022, I will go full-on Hikkikomori. Have fun with your discourse and your barely-disguised transmisogyny, I have games to play.

mailbag #2

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Mostly due to a lack of questions. I know folks like to leave comments or ask me stuff on social media or in my Twitch chat, so the old mailbag gets neglected as a result. However, I’m still trying to reestablish Old World Internet things like this, a way of building a rapport with an audience, rather than posting into a void with others responding into another void.

Got a few questions here, so I will go ahead and answer them! Cool! My rule is to wait until I get five questions, but I had some good ones with long answers, so I stopped at three this time. By all means, feel free to ask stuff over here! Doesn’t even have to be about games! It could be anything, really: an*me, sports entertainment, anything that you think I would be able to answer with something other than absolute confusion.

From: Lariria

You’ve been playing Fallout 3, a game you despise. How come?

It’s the result of one of those nights of me discussing games with some friends over Discord. I’ve also been playing a lot of Shin Megami Tensei V, and I had been asked what personally appeals to me in regards to the overall plot and themes of the series.

I said, “The thing about going down the neutral path, or becoming a True Demon in Megaten, it’s like fucking, uh, like how there’s all those endings in Fallout New Vegas, right? But we all know that the only ending that matters is the one where you take control of the Yes Man and declare the Vegas Strip as a territory independent of the varying factions looking to re-implement old world ideologies that led to the world being a bombed out hellhole. It’s not ideal, but it’s fucking better than all that other shit.” My point of reference was Fallout, which is unusual, because it’s not one I see made all too often. That was how I explained myself.

This talk led to me wanting to load up a Fallout game. First, I did some New Vegas, because of course I would. The thing is, is that I’ve played New Vegas to death. You have played New Vegas to death. Everyone has played New Vegas to death. We know that game inside and out. We know all the characters, all the dialogue. We know all the words to “Big Iron.” We all know that patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish a nuclear winter. I wanted to do something different, and load up the other best Fallout: Fallout 2. I haven’t played this game in about eight years, so I was looking forward to going on a trip down memory lane. Fallout 2 is still amazing, having replayed it. These extremely well-written RPGs with solid mechanics. They really don’t make them like this all too often these days. I’m sure I will have another post on this in the near future.

Then I started thinking about Fallout 3, a real low point not just in the series, but for games as a whole, I feel. I haven’t played Fallout 3 since 2009, so I wanted to refresh myself, at least as much as you can “refresh” yourself with a terrible game. I wanted to remind myself just how badly Bethesda fucked things up. Yeah, it’s still bad. The writing is still garbage, the roleplaying element is still a joke that railroads you into playing the “right” way, the combat is still extremely rough and gives me a greater appreciation for how much Obsidian was able to salvage what they could from it for New Vegas. Fallout 3 really does feel like an insult to anyone who has played the originals, like me. The morally ambiguous, pointed critique at capitalism and American exceptionalism now becoming post-apocalyptic Star Wars; the Brotherhood of Steel are the good guys (rather than weird technofacists that only exist for you to steal shit from) and the Enclave are the bad guys and did you see Liberty Prime wow cool robot. The moral shades of gray you were presented with in the past now a firm black and white.

In Fallout 1, for example, you find the water chip you’ve been sent to look for in a vault full of Ghouls. Now, you can straight up steal it, which will kill the Ghouls inside, or you can fix their water pump and get the chip for doing so, which will keep them alive, but the water is still irradiated and will eventually turn the Ghouls into Feral Ghouls. The Fallout water chips are designed to break after a certain length of time, so there’s a commentary on artificial scarcity and planned obsolescence there. But also, a bleak point about the aftermath of a war that leaves people reducing others’ quality of life in order to improve their own, because the means to unite aren’t there, or at least not there yet. The game doesn’t beat this point over your head, Spec-Ops style, so it’s up to you as a player and your sense of morality and empathy to sit and think about what you’re doing.

Fallout 3, meanwhile, has a town built around an undetonated nuclear bomb. You can either disarm it, or blow it up. The choice reduced to literally pressing some buttons, or committing a genocide.

New Vegas has a town called “Novac.” Novac is built off of an abandoned motel, and the name comes from the remaining letters on a No Vacancy sign. It makes sense, and it’s a bit clever. People in a post-apocalypse don’t have a fucking clue what a vacancy is; they don’t even know who Elvis Presley is, so they see a sign that says Novac, and assume that it must have been the name of a town. Novac is a small detail that adds to the setting and to the world building.

Fallout 3 has a town called “Minefield.” It is called this because someone planted a number of armed land mines around it. Great.

I needed to replay Fallout 3 to remind myself that good games really are a form of magic. I needed to feel some despair that absolute shit can be considered acclaimed. To mourn Fallout as a series, because there is no way anyone other than Bethesda will ever work on one again. To see how much, yet how little, games (at least AAA ones) have changed in the time since its initial release. Fallout 3 is terrible, but it’s the kind of infuriating awful that needs to be experienced.

There’s so much more I can go on about, but this answer is already running pretty long, so I’ll end it here.

From: Ian Morris

i kind of miss licensed tie-in games some of them were fun and some were just fun to make fun of, did you enjoy any games that were mainly tie-ins to stuff besides game?

I think the obvious one off the top of my head is Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. Additionally, WCW/nWo Revenge, also on Nintendo 64.

But a real “Hidden Gem” so to speak would be the Sega Mega Drive version of True Lies, based on the action/comedy film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and everyone’s favorite Vega main, Jamie Lee Curtis.

I’m bringing this one up because of how surprising it is. It was made by Beam Software, a company known for two things: making absolute dogshit, and somehow also making Shadowrun for Super Famicom. True Lies should not be as good as it is, and yet, here is this fun top-down shooter with Doom-like key hunting and lots of blood and Tom Arnold managing to be funny despite the severe handicap of being Tom Arnold. Granted, the difficulty shoots through the roof a few stages in, and some of the larger levels can be a slog to navigate and find all the keys and doors for, but True Lies still manages to be this surprising good at best, above average at worst, game. Check it out.

From: Ian Morris

has there been a game that you feel needs to be remade that got left out of the trend of remakes and remasters?

King’s Field. Pick any one of the four From Software made, maybe all four. I think this is the old grump in me, but I am weary of constantly seeing this series only ever being referred to as “Dark Souls, before there was Dark Souls.” I love Dark Souls, but fuck me, not everything needs to be compared to it! Especially not a series that predates it by over a decade, and was influential on Dark Souls’ development. King’s Field is, to my knowledge, the second ever fully 3D game, at least on console (the first being Riverhill Soft’s Dr. Hauzer on the 3DO). That’s kind of an important, notable thing! Give it some dual analog controls, and the option to switch back and forth between the old graphics and whatever new ones FromSoft cook up, and you should be all set. King’s Field still rules, and I would like a new generation of players to be able to enjoy it.