What the well-dressed Viera is wearing this season…

Pictured: A really mean fairy.

I am still alive. Honest!

Life has, however, been getting in the way of doing anything worth writing about.  In the last few weeks, we’ve lost one cat and another has developed not-terribly-serious kidney problems that nonetheless have me giving him subcutaneous fluids every other night.  My wife and I both have needle phobias.  This does not make for fun times for anyone involved, much less the cat that is being jabbed with a needle in the back of the neck.

But enough seriousness.

When I have been getting time to goof off with a controller in my hands, it’s been spent on Final Fantasy XIV.  I am officially in the stage of the game where I am more or less playing to make my numbers bigger, and that is where I would normally put an MMO aside…

…except that it’s actually kind of FUN to make my numbers bigger in this one, and I have been diving into some of the post-game raid content.  It’s… well, it’s different from raiding in pretty much any MMO I’ve played before.  I mean, sure, the basic ideas are the same – you get a bunch of your closest friends* together, walk up to a boss, die repeatedly until you’ve figured out how to stop dying, curse a bit because you didn’t get the loot you wanted, and then keep killing it until either you have your loot or until the group disbands due to internal drama.

* Much of the time they aren’t really all that friendly.

Where FFXIV differs in a huge way is that bosses are, for lack of a better term, solvable.  They always do the same attacks at the same time, which means that you can time your attacks and movement around a boss script that never varies.  This is, frankly, an alien concept, and it has taken me a long time to get used to the idea.

The boss that I have been beating my head against for the last few weeks is a big damn fairy named Titania, because someone at Square is a Midsummer Night’s Dream fan. She drops really nice looking weapons.

My character uses big damn axes.  I like pretty things.  A big damn axe that looks like butterfly wings is about as pretty as you get.  It only took me three wins to luck into this one.

I have no idea how many times my groups failed to kill this boss. A low estimate would be  20 or more times over several nights, which was getting a little depressing and had me really leaning into the is-this-worth-it? line of questioning that usually results in me rage quitting a game.

Now I have beaten her, I am flush with the glow of accomplishment, and all that rage is a thing of memory.  Yeah, baby, feel that dopamine kick right in the old lizard brain.

Square also dropped a series of 8-man raids a couple of weeks after the expansion launched, and they are far more forgiving and fairly shower you in loot.  It’s only taken about four weeks of raiding one night a week to reach the point where all of my stuff MATCHES, which is really the end game for any MMORPG.

Just look at all that wonderfully coordinated armor that will be made obsolete as soon as the next set of raids launches.

Anyway, short version, I have reached the “loot treadmill” stage with FFXIV but it has not yet annoyed me to where I stop playing.  Also I would like my cats to stop making me poke them with needles.

 

Posted in MMORPG, PC Gaming | Leave a comment

On hard-coded values and unintended consequences.

Serious degrees of navel-gazing going on in today’s post.  You are forewarned.

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve gotten through the story content in the latest Final Fantasy XIV expansion and decided to start checking out some of the end-game encounters.  Specifically, I took a couple of shots at “The Dancing Plague (Extreme)”, which is a turned-up-to-11 version of one of the mandatory story encounters and which drops the current best weapons in the game.

I didn’t actually beat it, but I felt like I was doing better on every attempt.  I’ll try a few more times in the coming week.

Anyway, one of the fight mechanics is needing to dodge an area effect spell that inflicts a “Confusion” status effect on your character.  This makes you lose control of your character  at a point in the fight where not having control of your character is a very bad thing, since he or she suddenly starts running around randomly instead of going to the very specific safe spot he or she needs to be in.  Seeing this happen reminded me of one of my favorite stories from the days of Everquest, which I will now inflict upon you.

Some background.

Everquest was designed during the days of dial-up internet, so it wasn’t too weird to lose connection to the game.  In anticipating this, the developers didn’t want to leave you completely defenseless as the result of a momentary dropout, so they coded player characters to behave as non-player characters for the duration of their “linkdead” status.  So your character would defend himself or herself, not terribly WELL but well enough to maybe survive the fight they were in at the point where your internet decided to drop.

That’s one important thing to know.  The other important thing to know is that the original Everquest was designed with a level 50 cap, and the developers wanted to make sure that anything you were fighting in a raid encounter couldn’t be trivialized by crowd-control spells designed for monsters you were fighting in group content, so they put in a hard cap where spells like sleep, fear, and stun wouldn’t affect any monsters above level 52.  Spells cast on player characters did NOT have this same cap, mind you.

OK.  So, as time went on and Everquest started accumulating expansions and level caps, most of these hard caps got lifted.  Fear, however, stayed stuck with a level 52 cap from 1999 all the way until March 2005, when it was removed to address a long-standing complaint from people playing the game’s “Necromancer” class.

Again, my head is full of this sort of trivia and I really wish I could scrub some of it to make room for more important stuff.

Where this all comes together is with a raid fight where you face off against an undead dragon named Aerin’Dar, the Crystalline Dragon.

For obvious reasons.

Aerin’Dar was part of the 2002 expansion, Planes of Power, and he wasn’t much of a challenge, even if you counted the ten guardian golems he came with.  He really was just one of a set of fairly easy encounters that you needed to overcome in order to gain access to the REAL raid zones.

One of his few mechanics was a nearly-irresistible Fear spell that would make everyone stop what they were doing and run away for six seconds, while also doing a little bit of damage (700 hp, maybe 15% of the average player’s health).  Not terrible, really.  It usually meant a few missed heals and maybe a couple dead players, but as long as you were on your toes recovery wasn’t an issue.

So.  March 2005 rolls around, and I am part of a rather behind-the-times guild just going through Planes of Power raid content, and we are off to kill Aerin’Dar for the umpteenth time to get keys for some new members because they can’t get into the real raid zones without slapping the crystalline punching bag around.

Anyway.  This is where we discovered the interaction of quite a few interesting coincidences.

Aerin’Dar casts his fear spell, which causes everyone to lose control of their characters.  Rather than running around for a few seconds, however, everyone keeps running away, defenseless, and the pushover dragon and his laughable golem guards utterly massacre us.  The fight takes place in sort of a big fishbowl of a cavern and the players got to watch their characters literally climbing the walls to get away from this suddenly-much-more-menacing dragon, unable to do anything about it.

A couple more attempts at the fight went just about as well, so we retreated to lick our wounds and figure out what went wrong.

It turned out to be a combination of a few things.

  1. Aerin’Dar’s fear spell had always been designed to last for 42 seconds, not 6 seconds, and was supposed to be a damage over time spell causing 700hp damage every 6 seconds, enough to kill most players or at least bring them down to an extremely vulnerable point.
  2. On the other hand, a designer back in 1999 who was tasked with deciding what happened to players that were feared decided to just set them to “linkdead” status, so players would behave like NPCs for the duration of the fear.
  3. This meant that your player was seen as an PC when hit by the fear spell, so you wouldn’t be immune – but, after taking that initial damage and running away for a few seconds, the game would look at your character and go “here is an NPC that should be immune to the fear spell currently affecting it, remove the fear effect which also removes the damage-over-time effect.”
  4. You would quickly regain control of your character and resume beating up the dragon.

So removing (3) above fixed a long-standing bug that had made this encounter FAR easier than intended for nearly three years.  Only, since it had been bugged for so long, nobody had ever fought the as-originally-intended version to see how utterly brutal the full-duration damage spell was, or how the pathing for fleeing NPCs in Aerin’Dar’s chamber ignored the laws of gravity – with a short duration fear, you couldn’t reach the sides in the first place, much less climb them to the ceiling with a swarm of golems beating on you the whole time.

Anyway, it got patched in reasonably quick fashion.  Still, 14 years later it still comes to mind whenever I see a bunch of MMO characters running around wildly.

I may have even told this story before on this same blog at some point.

Hopefully I told it better this time.

 

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FFXIV: Shadowbringers: Bun-buns of Steel

I’m pretty sure that “Jump into an MMO expansion as soon as it comes out and rush to hit the level cap and the end of the storyline before you can get spoiled” ranks pretty high on the list of “ways to burn yourself out on an MMO”, but remarkably I managed to pull it off with the latest FFXIV expansion without actually wanting to hurl the PS4 out a window as soon as the credits rolled.

It helped that the expansion was really good.  More about that later, but first I would like to talk about something more fluffy.

Well, in this case not so much fluffy as “presumably fluffy, under the full plate armor”.

A major selling point of Shadowbringers – apart from, you know, a storyline long enough to easily qualify as a full RPG in itself and the addition of two character jobs – was the addition of Viera, the bunnyesque race from FFXII and the other Ivalice games.

Oh, and I guess they added Hrothgar, too.  You remember the useless blue dude from FFX?  Those guys.

Going strictly by FF lore, Viera should be super rare to see. They are reclusive to the point of xenophobia and having the temerity to leave their home town is a one-way trip since you won’t be allowed back in.

Now, FFXIV heavily discourages creating multiple characters and instead allows any character to do any and all of the available jobs, so alts aren’t terribly common.  A race change, however, is a mere $10 in the cash shop…

What I’m saying is, the suits at Square-Enix did the math on “How many players do we have?  What percentage do we think would like to be a giant humanoid rabbit?  Multiply that by ten bucks is HOW MUCH money?” and said “screw the lore, bunny girls for all!”

To their sole credit, they didn’t make fall into the trap of making them especially cute.  They’re one of the taller races and their emotes and animations are pretty …rugged? Rugged is a good word.

Or, as I like to say, the options on the FFXIV character creation scheme for “furry” and “lolicon” are presented as a radio selector, not as checkboxes.  That would be more Tera’s thing.

It’s OK, she’s a centuries-old immortal nature spirit.

Enough about Viera.  Moving on. Let’s talk about the story in vague terms.

Ever since the reboot of FFXIV, the story has been broken up into releases, where you get a massive chunk of story and then some credits roll, and patches, where they slowly dole out story content over the life of an expansion.  Shadowbringers is a sequel to the patch story that took place between the game’s first and second expansions, so they have had this one sitting on the back burner for some while.

It also wraps up the storyline for the 24-man raid content from the base game.  They did some digging into the past to find plot threads to tie off, is what I’m saying here, and explained a ton of mysterious foreshadowing from the last few years while setting up some new mysteries which will presumably get sorted out in the post-release patches or maybe in a future expansion.  I was really happy with how it went.

It’s also easier to experience the story this time, thanks to the addition of “Trusts” which are a bunch of non-playable characters who you can team up with in order to do certain kinds of group content.  Since previous expansions have had the problem of telling you to go and clear a dungeon and then letting the main quest line grind to a halt while you try to get other people to clear the dungeon with you, this is a massive quality of life change.  Not only can you do the story dungeons at your own pace, but the NPCs are programmed to clear the dungeons successfully, if not particularly quickly, so learning fight gimmicks can just be a matter of watching what they’re doing and trying to keep up with it.

Speaking of which, boss fights are really well-designed to teach you the fights in Shadowbringers.  They almost always consist of the boss using an attack, followed by a pause, then the boss using the same attack again and maybe making it a little more complex, and then a third time but maybe combining it with another attack so now you have two things to dodge…

Basically, it’s a really subtle form of tutorialization, which my browser is trying to tell me is not a word.

In between dungeons, there is a great deal of running hither and fro and meeting people and doing quests, some of Great Import and some where you are, well, delivering sandwiches.  The Warrior of Light Darkness has a very busy life.

There are a lot of “kill ten rats” style quests in all this, but at least the game has a sense of humor about it.

This is actually where one of my small quibbles with the expansion comes up.  As is traditional for FFXIV expansions, you aren’t able to use a flying mount until you have finished all of the quests for an area, and the zones are really quite dense with aggressive monsters, frequently with the rats you DON’T need to kill mixed in with the rats you DO need to kill to satisfy an NPC’s lust for rat blood.  I got into a lot of little fights I would have preferred to avoid.

After the sandwiches have all been delivered and the expansion’s Big Bad sent packing,  there’s a bunch of optional content.  Naturally, this is divided into stuff that you can do easily, which is for filthy casuals, and stuff that you can’t manage to beat, which is obviously designed for no-life try-hards.

I may have stolen that from a George Carlin sketch about drivers.

Anyway, I haven’t done much of the optional content, but it’s where you go to make your numbers bigger.  I am invested enough in the game that I WANT to make my numbers bigger, so I will be digging into that this weekend.

 

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Oh, Ubisoft.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been playing a fair bit of Ghost Recon: Wildlands with a friend, and quite recommend it. As a caveat, I haven’t played previous Ghost Recon entries to know how well it fits in with the rest of the series. So this may be like the Metroid games, where I’ve only played The One Everyone Hates and enjoyed it.

I have been vaguely curious, however, as to why the game starts off with a disclaimer every single time you boot it.

I mean, I get that they want to cover their bases in the event that they are seen as misrepresenting Bolivia, but in the process of brutally killing hundreds of armed cartel soldiers, being hunted by corrupt military forces, propping up a homegrown rebellion, and generally sowing chaos across the entire country, I haven’t seen anything to really warrant the disclaimer.

Well.

I hadn’t.

Please observe the following screenshot:

Specifically:

OK, take a minute to recover and let’s talk about what we’re looking at.

These are obviously standard NEMA 5-15 Grounded electrical outlets. Someone deliberately modeled these and put them in the game. They kind of clash with the wall texture but let’s not get pedantic.

You would never find these in Bolivia. You might find NEMA 1-15 UN-grounded outlets, or CEE 7/16 “Europlug” Type C outlets, but these? No. Someone messed up, big time, and it somehow got through QA and into the final product. This in a game with probably about a $100 million development budget.

What I don’t get is why they didn’t just replace the texture instead of slapping on a big old disclaimer you have to sit through every time you start the game.

Anyway, I’m going to try to put this aside and just enjoy the game, regardless. Still, it’s definitely going to count against it in the final score.

This is the sort of observation that drives my friend a little crazy when we are playing games together.

Side note: My other Ghost Recon thought of the night was that the game could be greatly improved by having a squad member, preferably named “Carl”, who was a total botany nut and who would always be rattling off Interesting Plant Facts during covert operations. and that LB could be mapped to the “shut UP, Carl” feature instead of “Throw explosive” which  I feel would be far more interesting.

Side side note: I call out LB specifically because I have been playing a lot of FFXIV, where LB is the adjust camera button, and the result is that every one of our Ghost Recon sessions starts with me loading into game and immediately throwing a grenade, which usually blows up whatever transport he has painstakingly collected for us.  I’d rather my character just randomly shout “shut UP, Carl” at the start of each session.

 

Posted in videogames, Xbox One | 2 Comments

Being, the Story of Two Months of Final Fantasy XIV

Eorzea continues to be a ridiculously fun place to run around in.

Actually, let me take a moment to mention the OTHER thing I’ve been playing, which is Ghost Recon: Wildlands.  It’s about as far from a high-fantasy MMO as you can get, but I have been having a really good time playing it with an old friend and one-upping each other on the many ways to destroy helicopters that we have just carefully liberated from the Evil Cartel.  I am not sure whether him landing a helicopter directly in the middle of a river trumps the time I set one down in an alley just wide enough for the body but – critically – not wide enough for the rotors, but either way we have not been kind to the flying machines of fictional Bolivia.  If you enjoy slowly opening up a map covered with icons and then methodically going to each and every one of those icons and clearing it, I profoundly recommend this game.  Moving on.

The most notable feature of Final Fantasy XIV – apart from, you know, it being full of references to older Final Fantasy games – is the ability of every character to take on every possible job.  You can go from a hulking meat shield to a glass cannon with the simple switch of your weapon, and this means that you will theoretically never get stuck in the position of having devoted hundreds of hours to a character who is suddenly “off-meta” and fundamentally undesirable for group content.  It’s a pretty brilliant thing.

Of course, it means that you can lose a stunning amount of free time to levelling all of those other jobs.  This game can be murder if you have an alt habit.

In the last few weeks, I’ve completed two expansions worth of story, gone through all of the normal-difficulty raid content for the most current expansion, and found a really good Free Company (FFXIV’s version of guilds), full of people to hang out with.  I am 100% prepped for the launch of Shadowbringers on the 28th, and could theoretically stop playing while I wait for that to come out.

Nah.

One of my biggest worries with FFXIV when I decided to come back was that I really enjoy playing tank classes, but certain MMOs make it very difficult to actually do so effectively.  Everquest 2 will always come to mind here, with its 24-man raids that demanded eight healers, eight “support” classes, seven random DPS classes and a single tank.  Getting that single tank spot was like winning a lottery.  Getting the gear needed to even buy a lottery ticket?  You had best be Midas levels of rich.

FFXIV reserves tank slots at a 1/4 or 1/8 ratio, depending on the content you’re doing, so there is always demand for tanks.  Gear?  Well, if you’re doing a dungeon as a tank and a piece of plate armor drops, you get first dibs – you’re not losing that to the wizard.  You also get a guaranteed piece of gear at the end of almost every dungeon on your way to the level cap, so you are always getting stronger.

The FFXIV team also made some design decisions that vastly improve the general feel of tanking.

Aggro, for example.  Enmity, to use the FFXIV term.  THE most important thing about tanking in any MMO, since you don’t get to use that armor rating and all of those hit points unless the enemies are trying to kill YOU and not the other, squishier, group members.

When I last played FFXIV, enmity came almost exclusively from damage output.  Tanks, being generally lower on the dps scale, had a tremendous disadvantage here, so the meta – I really hate that word, but let’s roll with it – was for tanks to use as much dps gear as they could.  Optimizing for taking hits was considered to make you a poor player.

(And, arguably, this was true for the very highest-end content.  Of course, the attitudes tended to filter down into levels of play where they had no place being.)

At some point in the last few years, someone decided that this was dumb, and now tanks have abilities and stances that generate considerable enmity without actually doing a ton of damage.  There’s no need to straddle the line between the tank role and the dps role – unless, yes, you are doing that super high-end content.

So, in case you haven’t gotten the gist of where I’m heading yet, FFXIV makes it fun to tank and easy to do so if you want to.  Since I like tanking, this is basically an MMO made for me.

And, if I ever get tired of soaking hits, I just need to change out my Big Damn Axe for a grimoire and suddenly I am the frail magic user at the back of the group who must be protected at all costs.

Perfection.

Oh, and there’s mahjong.

MORE perfection.

Posted in MMORPG | 2 Comments

Nioh Nioh Ni

Nioh was one of my favorite games of 2017, and the sequel announcement during last year’s E3 was a very pleasant surprise.  With From Software taking a well-deserved break from new Souls games, and Code Vein seemingly AWOL, it looks like the next game to scratch that particular masochistic gaming itch.

Having Sony drop an alpha code for Nioh 2 in my inbox was another very pleasant surprise, and I feel I should return the favor by saying nice things about it here.

So I’ll be up-front here, I’m not going to be particularly critical.  I loved the first game, and this looks like more of the same.  This is pretty much just going to be a post of observations based on how much I’ve seen so far – which is to say, I’ve gotten to the first boss and am currently banging my head against him until one of us gives up.

Wait, one criticism.  The alpha disables the PS4 share button, so I can’t get any screenshots.  I get it, I really do, but I still wish they hadn’t done that.

This is the best you get.  Sorry.

Anyway.  The demo doesn’t really give a sense for WHEN Nioh 2 is set.  William isn’t in it, but it’s plainly set in roughly the same time period.  The first level takes place in what I suspect is meant to be Shimane prefecture, since it revolves around an iron production facility.  Shimane would have been in a state of considerable flux after Sekigahara, which is prominently featured in Nioh, so it seems a likely place for Yokai to pop up and start making trouble.

That’s all speculation, of course.  On to observations!

First: There’s a character creator, and quite a robust one.  I’m not one to dive into sliders and color pickers, so I just went with one of the default female characters.

As I mentioned, I’m currently banging my head against the boss at the end of the opening level, so I can’t comment on the level design past that point, but I love what they did with the first level.  It has all kinds of shortcuts to open and carefully-placed items in concealed nooks and really rewards carefully poking around and seeing where every little dead-end path leads to.

The respawn system seems to have gotten a bit of a change-up.  About halfway through the level, I found a huge corrupted area full of assorted nasties, including a Yokai that served as a miniboss.  Killing him cleared the entire area and stuff stopped respawning in it, even after I died or visited shrines.  Other enemies seem to respawn every time you do, like you’d expect from a game built around the Souls formula.

In addition to being able to team up with live players for active co-op, you can leave a “beneficial grave” which shows up in other words as a blue grave marker.  They can spend ochoko cups to pull you in to their game and help out with fights.

Summoned blue phantoms do have limitations, of course.  They die just as easily as a player would, and they have a limit on how long they’ll stick around.  It seems to be based on how much stuff they fight with you rather than a time limit, though.

The Guardian Spirit system has gotten a bit of a revamp.  Using a guardian spirit changes you into your yokai form, for the usual massive damage output and damage absorption traits.  You can also customize Guardian Spirits using monster-dropped “Spirit Cores”.  I didn’t dig into this too much, other than to equip a couple of Spirit Cores that looked promising, but I suspect there will be a lot of depth here.

Speaking of monsters, there are quite a few familiar faces in Nioh 2.  I suppose some reuse of assets was inevitable, and it’s not like EVERY enemy is a repaint of something you probably murdered a thousand times over in the first game, but expect to kill a whole lot of those annoying crawling zombies with the pickaxes again.

Hunting for kodama spirits makes a return, and it brings a smile to my face to see the shrine population slowly grow as I track them down.  There are also some differently-colored Kodama who you can drop items for, and they will evaluate the items and give you some presents in return if they like what you offer.

They do NOT say “so soft, so smooth” or anything of the sort.

On the lighter side of things, I occasionally stumbled across a strange fat calico cat who I could pet, and who would then follow me around and rub against my legs.  This seemed to give me some sort of buff, though I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was buffing.

Here is where I went low-tech and just pointed a camera at the screen, in lieu of an actual screenshot:

If Koei Tecmo does not produce and sell plush versions of this little guy, I will be quite surprised.

Anyway, I may have more to say after I finally get past the guy who has been giving me so much trouble.  He’s killed me eight times so far, and I’m starting to get a feel for his move set.  I just need to work on getting out of his way and learning when I can safely punish his attacks.  Should only take another twenty or thirty deaths.  The alpha is active until June 4th.  I can do this!

 

Posted in PS4, Souls | 1 Comment

Super Real Mahjong PVI for Nintendo Switch

Finally, it is 2019 and there is time for …not Klax.  Klax is not available on the Nintendo Switch.  Super Real Mahjong PVI, on the other hand, is!  Let’s talk about it a little bit.

First, of course, an apology for the lack of any posts of substance recently.  As is normal, this means that I am playing an MMO and am in the MUST PLAY EVERY WAKING MOMENT phase of the addiction.

On the other hand, for reasons not worth mentioning, I wound up in Agness, Oregon yesterday, a region of the state that was supposed to be named Agnes but someone wrote it down on a form wrong.

I’m not kidding.

The only other thing you need to know about Agness is this:

I could not live in Agness, Oregon.

On the other hand, I had my Switch with me, and there was a new icon on the home screen, so I had something to do.

Side note: The icon to the right of SRMPVI is for “Blades of Time”, possibly the worst Switch icon I’ve seen yet.  Pity, because it’s a pretty good game with an excellent multiplayer mode. Moving on.

SRMPVI is the second Switch port from the SRM series, and the first one went very poorly.  It was delayed by a couple of months, finally hit the eShop in March, and was immediately pulled from availability when people noticed that the Mysterious Glowing Censor Lights didn’t quite cover up EVERYTHING.  I was not expecting MightyCraft to bother releasing future games in the series after that mess.

This is about as close as I figured we would ever come to getting it on Switch.

Like the previous game, SRMPVI is tuned for maximum rage, at least on the default settings.  The very first opponent LOVES to call Riichi about three tiles into a match and then mysteriously pull the winning tile on her very next turn.  If you do manage to win a match, getting her to remove a layer of clothing in the process, she will put it right back on with her next victory.  There are substantial obstacles between the player and the low-resolution cartoon jubblies that they are, presumably, here for.

…unless you go into the settings menu and fiddle a bit, of course.

Here I have set the Mahjong difficulty to a low setting, but left the penalty for losing a hand on.  Alternately, I’d suggest turning the lost hand penalty off and leaving it at the default difficulty.  Either should provide moderate levels of rage, but not to a Switch-throwing extent.

Even with the difficulty dialed down, the CPU still did a really good job of winning, and  I wound up needing to almost completely needing to change the way I play to turn the tide.  I’m about to go deep into the Mahjong weeds at this point, so if you want further discussion on the port quality you may want to just scroll down until you see another image.

SRMPVI allows for open tanyao wins.  Tanyao is a win condition you can reach if you build a hand up out of, basically, junk tiles that meet the bare minimum conditions for a winning hand.  You can’t have any “honor” tiles (winds or dragons), and you can’t have any “terminals” (1 or 9 tiles), but other than that you just need to build up your four pons or chis and a pair.

OPEN tanyao allows you to build your hand of junk using the discards of other players, and many mahjong games don’t consider this a win condition.  I have never, ever, intentionally tried to achieve an open tanyao win before because a) games don’t allow it and b) it’s worth almost no points.  If you’re trying to run your opponent out of points, it’s a waste of time.

Edit: Someone called me on this in the comments, and I was rather embarrassed to find that I am quite wrong on whether games allow or disallow open tanyao.  Apparently it’s the default setting in most games and I just picked up a habit of avoiding it at some point in the last couple decades.

Your opponents in SRMPVI don’t have points, though you do.  If you want to mahjong the knickers off of them, you need to just win hand after hand, preferably without losing any hands if you have the losing penalty turned on.

I quickly settled on a strategy of trying to get one win with a decent scoring hand, followed by cheesing with open tanyao after open tanyao until victory.  It was not something I would ever do in a match against actual people, but it worked in this case.

So let’s talk about the port quality, now that you’ve sat through that.

SRMPVI keeps most of the Saturn elements at their original aspect ratio.  It trims the play screen a bit to make it fill the Switch’s wider screen, but not in a way that affects anything. It also replaces the original text with a much easier to read font for things like scoring, as follows:

The old scoring font.

The new font.  Much more readable.

More interestingly, the end credits have gotten a revamp.  They went back and replaced the Saturn-resolution art with much prettier versions of the same images.  Completely unexpected and unnecessary, but a nice touch.

The original ending.

The new ending.

Of course, the Mysterious Glowing Censor Bars ARE back, and apparently MightyCraft didn’t want to leave anything to chance for this release so they show up even when characters are still fairly covered.

It is what it is.

To sum up, if I haven’t made it clear, this is a pretty solid port of what has always been a very enjoyable mahjong game.  It’s a little silly that the old visuals were just TOO SPICY for the modern day, but I’m glad we got it in any form.

 

Posted in mahjong, Switch | 3 Comments