Final Fantasy Explorers Review [Pixelkin]

Fans of Crystal Chronicles and online RPGs may find some enjoyment, though the action can quickly grow repetitive if playing alone.

Read the full Review at Pixelkin

Final Fantasy Explorers Logo

Over a decade ago Final Fantasy fans were presented with an odd spinoff. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles used a much more action-oriented, real-time combat system. The big hook was allowing friends to venture together in a static world, not unlike your typical online role-playing game.

Final Fantasy Explorers offers the same quest-driven gameplay with a threadbare story and piles of loot to collect and craft. Online multiplayer lets you play together with up to three other explorers using a variety of classic Final Fantasy classes such as Black Mage, Knight, and Ranger. Fans of Crystal Chronicles and online RPGs may find some enjoyment, though the action can quickly grow repetitive if playing alone.

Read the full Review at Pixelkin

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 18 Recap

A final showdown with the Black Spider, meeting the leader of the Undead, and finding the Forge of Spells brings Wave Echo Cave and our four-month long campaign to a close.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

A final showdown with the Black Spider, meeting the leader of the Undead, and finding the Forge of Spells brings Wave Echo Cave and our four-month long campaign to a close.

First the party had to deal with the flameskull. Though the guardian undead lay defeated, they learned it would rise again in an hour. Without the proper spells or tools to prevent its rejuvenation, the party had to go into D&D: Mythbusters mode involving the nearby smelter.

I don’t exactly have the extended lore or concrete details regarding flameskull regeneration other than if it’s destroyed the pieces will reform. However, I imagine if you can trap it in an effective manner, it would still be trapped. The flameskull has access to powerful fire magic, but that does it little good when its melted into liquid metal!

I was impressed with the way the party came together to work the smelter and agree on how to deal with the flameskull. It was a great act of improvising a solution, and I definitely allowed it to work – later teasing that the creature was banging against the inside of the smelter in impotent rage.

The task dealt with, the PCs retreated to the nearby barracks for a Short Rest. They planned on continuing East and dealing with the flameskull’s master, presumably another powerful undead. But the Black Spider wasn’t idly sitting by. One of the advantages with having a live DM is you can make a dungeon a truly living, breathing thing that reacts to the party’s actions. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 18 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 17 Recap

A good old-fashioned dungeon crawl culminates in an awesome boss fight with a flaming skull and his zombie army in this giant 4-hour session.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

It’s amazing how much progress you can make in a marathon four-hour session. How about five separate battles, including an epic confrontation with a fireball-slinging Flameskull and his army of zombies?

We started our session a bit earlier on Sunday. At this point “Lost Mine of Phandelver” has lasted us nearly four months, doing weekly 2-3 hour sessions. We’re coming up to a busy schedule for me at the end of January/beginning of February: a gaming convention followed by a family vacation. Wrapping up this campaign and going on a brief but necessary two week hiatus would be extremely helpful to my sanity.

Thus not only did we start earlier, but we ended up going an additional hour later than usual! I was impressed by my players’ energy levels and enthusiasm throughout this session. They were in their element – this entire session was one big dungeon crawl filled with baddies to deal with, culminating in the biggest fight of their lives. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 17 Recap”

Xenoblade Chronicles X Review [Pixelkin]

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a fantastic genre blend of the best elements of Western and Japanese RPGs.

Read the my full review at Pixelkin

xenoblade chronicles x

Platform: Wii U

You stand on a cliff overlooking the Grieving Plains. The grasslands and lakes of Primorida stretch out in every direction. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fascinating native creatures. Humans are the aliens here. The domed city of New Los Angeles is your last bastion of safety in a dangerous world full of tyrants and treasures.

Welcome to planet Mira. Welcome to Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Read the my full review at Pixelkin

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap

Our heroes reach level 4 and finally journey to the titular mine – Wave Echo Cave. It’s full of bad things.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

What happens when the players get ahead of the DM’s preparations? Panic and chaos, mostly.

I’d gotten far enough ahead in prepping “The Lost Mine of Phandelver that I hadn’t had to do any major work in weeks. By ‘major work’ I mean building out the maps in Roll20, finding pics, creating tokens, creating character sheets, etc.

Every week I do about an hour of prep work. This mostly consists of notes to myself regarding the specific section of the adventure we’re in. I like to write out longer dialogue sessions so I don’t have to “um” and “uh” may way through ad-libbing, for example.

Unfortunately due to the general busyness of the holiday season, our sessions finally caught up to me. At the last minute we decided to move our normal Sunday session up a day earlier, and I spent a good chunk of the day making the titular mine – the final area of the adventure.

Wave Echo Cave is a mega-dungeon, a large area with over a dozen rooms with various creatures, loot, and other treasures and dangers. Thankfully I’d already found and downloaded some great-looking battlemaps that someone had created, and had spent the painstaking time to line them up to Roll20’s grid. I still had to get all the tokens placed, roll hit points, set up dynamic lighting, and create a few new character sheets for unique NPCs.

Since the dungeon is a bit open-ended, I felt like I had to do the whole thing just in case. I got about 90% finished and called it good enough. And of course, my players (newly leveled up to 4) stumbled on that last damn 10%. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1

Obsidian’s delightfully old-school RPG Pillars of Eternity is my #1 Game of the Year for 2015!

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

#5 Yo-Kai Watch

#4 Fallout 4

#3 Xenoblade Chronicles X

#2 Heroes of the Storm

#1 Pillars of Eternity

pillars of eternity

My #1 Game of the Mid-Year remained on top despite some truly excellent games released in the Fall. Obsidian’s record-breaking (at the time) Kickstarter project recalled the computer RPG nostalgia of the late 90s and early 2000s, such as Baldur’s Gate and Fallout. Needless to say, I jumped all over the chance for one of my favorite RPG developers to tackle a wholly original project.

I’m pleased to report that Pillars of Eternity is a smashing success. It manages to invoke all the best mechanics and themes of the classic isometric, tactical role-playing game while infusing lots of modern designs and philosophy. All of that plus Obsidian’s trademark superior writing create a wonderfully immersive new fantasy world that I spent over two months and 70s hours getting lost in. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #3

The astonishingly gigantic open-world RPG Xenoblade Chronicles X is my #3 Game of the Year for 2015!

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

#5 Yo-Kai Watch

#4 Fallout 4

#3 Xenoblade Chronicles X

xenoblade-chronicles-x

I’ve gained a real cynicism and disdain for Japanese games over the last decade. JRPGs were and are among some of my all time favorite games – back in the 90s.

Since then I’ve largely fallen out of love with them. Their storytelling goes in increasingly bizarre and goofy directions, and my distaste for anime is exemplified by grating cutscenes, voice-work, and writing that was previously the marquee of cutesy pixels and simple text.

So, it’s a pretty damn big deal that not only did I enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles X, but that I’ve ranked it so high on my Game of the Year list. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #3”