Archive for February, 2016

After Playing Dragon Quest V, I Think I Finally Get Dragon Quest

Like many others, I got a free copy of Dragon Warrior with Nintendo Power.  I (eventually) beat the game, but neither the gameplay nor the overall aesthetic really grabbed me.  I mostly tuned out the series until a glowing 1Up Review of DQV for DS convinced me to pick up that game and the others in the series.  I figured I’d play them in order, but never got past the second entry (on Gameboy Color).

Well, an episode of Axe of the Blood God finally convinced me to skip the intervening games and give Dragon Quest V a try.  I was hankering for an old-school RPG and the multi-generational story seemed very appealing.  I just finished the game and immediately decided to write this gushing blog post.

Dragon Quest V impressed me greatly in two very different ways.  First and foremost was the story.  It is exceedingly rare for me to actually play a video game RPG “in character,” and certainly not a Japanese RPG, but this was the exception.  This game builds strong personal connections with many characters, even beyond your wife and kids, and doesn’t waste time on irrelevant side quests and whatnot to take away from that.  I have a bunch of new entries in my list of most powerful RPG memories.

I played DQV specifically for the story, so I’m not too shocked that it lived up to expectations.  What I am rather shocked about is that this game made me not only understand but fully embrace and enjoy the Dragon Quest style of game.  It’s not at all like Final Fantasy, and I’ve always considered that a negative.  This time, though, I realized that they had somehow taken the spirit of really old-school RPGs (like Ultima III) and distilled it.

I’m the most at a loss to explain how not only did I not mind the game’s grindiness, but actually enjoyed it.  Maybe I’ve played too many MMOs and just having a grind with an end is that much more appealing.  However I think it’s the comfort in the knowledge that, sooner or later, you can get to where you need to be.  I could probably write a thesis paper about the subject of RPG grinding based on this game, but I’ll spare you.

The bottom line is, Dragon Quest V is incredible and if you haven’t played it, you should.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go give the Dragon Quest series another look.

Judge Others a Little Less, and Yourself a Little More

I find the amount of negativity from people, especially online, very wearing.  Sometimes it seems like the only thing anyone agrees on these days is how much they hate some other person or group.  The incident that really brought this into sharp relief for me was of an offline nature, though.

A few years ago, my car got towed.  It was entirely my own fault – to save money, I parked at a garage a few blocks away rather than paying for a dedicated spot in my building, but I would sometimes park in the reserved spots behind the building for a few minutes to drop off groceries before re-parking.  One time, I got a phone call while putting stuff in the fridge, and forgot to move my car.  I left it there a whole week (I was walking to work at the time), and it got towed.

The feeling I got when I realized that my car was neither in the garage or behind the building was absolutely awful.  I had no idea where my car was, or how much it was going to cost me to get it back.  It was a simple mistake and the consequences seemed drastically out of proportion.  I wanted to lash out at someone.

Instead, I called the number of the tow place, and they confirmed they had  my car.  I walked two miles in the sweltering summer heat, waited 45 minutes for the guy to show up, and then asked him what I had to do to get my car back.  I filled out some paperwork, forked over a few hundred bucks, and in the middle of it all he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

“You know, you’re really being good about this,” he said.

Well yeah, I explained, it was entirely my own fault for being an idiot and leaving my car illegally parked for a week.  It wasn’t his fault.

“Most people don’t see it that way,” he said, a bit sadly.

At that point I realized just how awful a job this guy has.  Someone’s got to tow illegally parked cars, wrecks, and what have you.  Very few people are ever happy to have to talk to the guy who towed their car.  I’m sure they heap mountains of abuse on these guys, because they’re mad, and this guy is now asking for a whole lot of money for them to get their car back.  (Which I’m sure, in their eyes, was unfairly towed in the first place.)  This particular guy seemed almost resigned when I met him, and looked at me like I was some kind of weirdo, apparently for not blowing up at him.

So please, people.  Don’t take out your anger on people who don’t deserve it.  Don’t assume every person who wrongs you in some small way did so maliciously, and don’t overreact to mistakes people make.  Every time you get cut off, remember that time you cut someone off but you had a perfectly good excuse (“he was in my blind spot!”).  They probably do, too.  And if they don’t, getting mad at them isn’t going to change anything anyway.