Morrowind In 2019: A Great Gaming Experience That Will Never Die

If there’s anything that Super Mario Bros. taught me, it would be this: Truly classic video-games never die. A game can be old, but still fun to play in the modern age. There are few games that encapsulate this more than Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which is often heralded as the “Greatest RPG Ever”. Reading through this right now, I’m sure you have many questions.

Why is Morrowind still considered good to this very day? Why do people gush about it so much? Well, let’s backtrack back to 2002 and find out! Back in 2002, gaming was on its way to evolving into something completely new. We had Metroid Prime, Warcraft III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Age of Mythology, Hitman 2, and many others.

The market was flooded with many great games, and the gaming medium was on its way to becoming something far less niche. While 2002 wasn’t as good of a year for gaming as 2007 was, it definitely was one that would impact video-game market greatly. During this time, the world was introduced to “Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”.

At the time, no one knew what Elder Scrolls was. The first two games were incredibly obscure, and the fan-base for them was very small. However, this third entry is what changed all that. Morrowind introduced the world to the concept of a “Fully 3D Open-World RPG”. It wasn’t an isometric RPG, a dungeon-crawler, or an isometric game. Instead, it was a game that involved free-choice and building the kind of RPG experience you wanted!

You could be a spell-slinging Argonian Wizard, a Khajiit Thief, or a Nord Barbarian. You weren’t restricted by the character class you chose, and nothing stopped you from completely changing your build halfway through the game’s story. Now, Morrowind didn’t invent this genre of RPG.

Ultima Underworld helped craft that open-world RPG experience, while Elder Scrolls simply took it and refined it. The first two Elder Scrolls games were heralded at the time as being immensely solid and entertaining RPGs, but hard for the average player to get into. Morrowind was made more simplistic than its predecessors, but still kept a lot of the older games’ more complex systems.

For example, most of the “Skills” from Daggerfall made their triumphant return in this game. Skills like “Unarmored” and “Hand-To-Hand” were slowly phased out as the franchise progressed, but they were on full display here! I found myself focusing a lot on Unarmored, due to the fact that my character couldn’t wear boots by default. It’s the curse of being an Argonian reptile; armored boots just don’t fit lizard feet.

Morrowind’s skills aren’t its only draw, just one of the big ones. The game’s biggest asset is the alien world it presents, which feels far different than any other fantasy game on the market at the time. You start the game by getting off of a prison shop, right before being thrust into a strange and bizarre world. You are dropped off in a swampy town, while a giant monstrous insect looms over you. The insect isn’t some kind of giant monster, but rather just a vehicle for people to get around on.

This sets the stage for Morrowind’s aesthetic, which involves embracing the weirdness of its setting to the best of its ability. You’ll come across tons of bizarre monsters, interesting adventures, and odd scenarios. One of my favorite moments in the game is when you leave the starting village, only to be caught off guard by a mage falling out of the sky. He lands on the ground, allowing the player to loot his corpse of magical flying scrolls. Using these “Scrolls of Icarian Flight”, the player can take to the air and soar into the sky. However, you’ll be in for a rough landing as well if you attempt this, unless you use a special spell to break your fall.

The game is full of awesome magical spells like this, which actually make for some fantastic gameplay. You can levitate high up in the sky, walk on water, or even magically unlock treasure chests. The game also lets you create your own custom spells, which increases the amount of crazy magical things you can do in this game! The only limitation is the fact that spells fail most of the time, at least until you’ve leveled up the skills associated with them enough.

Morrowind is a game that lets you create your own experience, but it definitely takes a while before you fully get to that point. Morrowind’s biggest problem is its lack of accessibility, at least for beginners. Morrowind was a game designed with a more “hardcore” RPG audience in mind, and caters more to those ideals.

You’ll find no quest markers, dedicated “Fast Travel” system, or fair combat system here. This is a game where 90% of your attacks are guaranteed to miss, while your ass gets kicked by enemies far weaker than you. Morrowind throws you into an unforgiving world with minimal guidance, and expects you to fight your way through it on your own.

I’m not going to lie, I had to resort to using a strategy guide multiple times for this game. The directions it gives are often obtuse, and are even wrong in some cases. On top of this, the game doesn’t run well on modern PCs. Be prepared for lag, bugs, and slow loading screens. Thankfully, the OpenMW mod fixes a ton of these problems.

That’s another good thing about Morrowind: Its modding capabilities. Morrowind was made by Bethesda after all, which means people will automatically mod the heck out of it. You have mods that add new landscapes, monsters, cities, dungeons, etc. All of these mods make this already extremely long game even longer, while giving the player mountains upon mountains of new content.

You can even use mods to fix a lot of Morrowind’s dated issues, such as making the clunky combat much better. Regardless of whether you consider Morrowind bad or good, you can’t deny how popular the game still is to this day. Despite how poorly most of the game has aged, people STILL play it. It has a sizable player-base, one that still thrives to this day.

Heck, Bethesda just gave the game out for free earlier this week! On top of this, Bethesda went out of their way to set some expansions for their most recent games in Morrowind itself. It’s clear that the interest in this game is still there for its many fans, myself included. While I can admit that Morrowind has aged poorly and that a lot of its mechanics are horribly dated; I still find it to be a fair bit of fun. I don’t ask for perfection from my game, just a fun experience. To that end, this makes Morrowind a grand success in my book.

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You know people love your extremely old game, when they make massive multiplayer mods for it!

Why Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition For Switch Is A Bad Idea

I’ve spent the last couple weeks gushing about the Nintendo Switch I got. I love the Switch and it’s definitely become one of my favorite consoles, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. The Switch’s online game store is bloated with too many games, the “Joycons” that come packed with the console don’t last long, and the amount of really good first-party games is surprisingly low.

Worst of all, I’ve recently gotten word of a game coming to Switch, one that I feel wouldn’t fit on the console at all. I’m talking about Neverwinter Nights, a game that I’ve gushed about quite a bit. Neverwinter Nights was an old-school RPG made for the PC back in 2002. It was Bioware’s third attempt at a big RPG, and was definitely a daring one.

It was a game that focused less on its single-player content, and more on letting the fans create their own experiences. The game thrived on mods and player-run servers, which allowed it to foster a strong community. It also helped that it was based off a Dungeon & Dragons campaign setting, which already had a large built-in audience.

Of course, the game’s focus on multiplayer and modding weakened it a bit. The main-quest suffered greatly and ended up feeling stale, leaving the “Expansion Packs” and “Premium Modules” to pick up the pieces. While the add-ons had much better stories than the base game, it still wasn’t on the same level as Bioware’s previous entries.

So, what we have is a game that was built with multiplayer and modding in mind. This begs the question: How well would this translate to Nintendo Switch? My answer for this is a bit complicated, so let’s go over the basics. For one thing, Nintendo is adamantly against the modifying and altering of their products. They are against mods and fan-made projects of any caliber, so it’s doubtful that the game will have modding support on Switch. Unless Nintendo and Beamdog find a way to have the modded servers playable on the Switch, then they sadly won’t be able to bring the “pure” experience over from the PC.

Neverwinter Nights relies heavily on its fan-made content and support, and it would most likely flop without it. Gutting out the game’s mods and modded servers will just dissuade more players from wanting to give the game a shot on Switch. Worse still is the multiplayer, which will have to be heavily altered in its entirety. Without any sort of keyboard peripheral to use, there just won’t be any way to properly communicate with other players.

While there is an app for your phone that lets you communicate with other players in-game, I doubt this functionality would be available for the Switch port. After all, most people just tend to play their RPGs without voice-chat, so downloading the app may be seen as “unnecessary” to most. As such, it’s doubtful that there will be any meaningful way to talk with friends during gameplay.

So, is there any way they can craft a fun experience around the Switch port of Neverwinter Nights? Maybe, but it’ll require a lot of work. One thing I’d like to see included would be a bunch of fan-made modules packaged in with the game itself, which will allow non-PC players to experience what other fans have created. Also, it’d be great if they could find a way to somehow include the modded servers from the PC release. I know it would be impossible to include all of them, but it’d still be nice if we Switch owners could get a taste of Neverwinter Nights’ modding scene.

Furthermore, I’d like to see some good revisions to the multiplayer. Maybe find a way to include text-chat of some sort, or create a better voice-chat option. Lastly, I’d like to some new content exclusive to the Switch. How about giving us a new campaign based off the “Legend of Zelda” games? Or how about a module inspired by “Xenoblade Chronicles”? I’m not asking for anything too big, but I would like something that could help the Switch port of Neverwinter Night stand out.

Regardless, I probably won’t be getting Neverwinter Nights on Switch. I already own the PC version and don’t feel the need to take the plunge again. It would take a lot of additions to the pre-existing game to make me consider buying it twice. I hope that Beamdog can put something interesting together for the Switch release, but I doubt they’ll be able to make a port that perfectly captures what the PC version did. I’m holding out hope that they can do something good with it, but I’m going to remain skeptical up until its release.

Gotcha Force: The Best GameCube Game That Nobody Ever Played

I’ve often been described as a “hipster”, due to how I gravitate towards obscure properties. I love a popular game/show/movie as much as the next nerd, but give me a fantastic hidden gem any day. Being a guy who plays a lot of games, I’ve come across a ton of forgotten video-games in my day.¬† One such game I’ve talked about before is “Gotcha Force”, which happens to be one of my favorite games of all time.

Gotcha Force was one of those games that defied simple explanation. It was a third-person action game, one that combined elements of “Pokemon” with the arena-based combat of “Virtua-On”. Battles take place in a large arena, where you control a toy-sized alien warrior called a “Gotcha Borg”. You create a team of Borgs that you can use in battle, while collecting many new ones along the way.

As the game went on, you’d be given a ton of Borgs and points that you can spend on making a larger team. On top of this, you’d have to fight against the soldiers of the “Death Force”, which served as the main villainous threat of the game. You’d eventually end up doing battle against an evil chick with seaweed-like hair, a fat kid who has an unhealthy obsession with giant space fortresses, and a weird kid who likes scuba-divers. Yes, this is a pretty dang crazy game.

The characters in this game were certainly fun, even if the voice-acting was absolute garbage. Most of the kids sounded like they were voiced by real-life children, which resulted in most of them sounding pretty awful. If you can get past the awful voice-acting, then there’s a truly entertaining game for you to play.

The game has over 200 different Gotcha Borgs to collect, most of which have their own unique abilities and attacks. This gives you a near infinite number of options to build your team with, to the point where it becomes ridiculous. Want a team of 30 Normal Ninjas? Completely doable! Want to go old-school and have a team of transforming robots? Go for it, man!

The game oozes creativity in how it lets you craft your team, which gives you a ton of ways to approach any battle. The game also boasted some rather nice cartoonish visuals, which have aged rather well. You also have the game’s soundtrack on top of this, which featured a ton of songs that sound like they were ripped straight from an 80s exercise VHS tape. The music definitely has a cheesy quality to it, but I feel it adds to the overall package. It’s just a shame that the default volume for the soundtrack is blindingly loud.

Now, I’ve talked about Gotcha Force before on this blog in the past. Of course, there was one major thing that I didn’t really touch in said review: The failure of the game. You see, this game had zero advertising behind it. For whatever reason, Nintendo decided not to make any commercials for this game in both Japan and America. This is especially odd when you consider the fact that they made commercials for other obscure titles, such as “Custom Robo”.

The game also reviewed poorly, which is actually rather surprising. Despite the game being considered fun and one of the Gamecube’s best titles by fans, most major review outlets despised the game. The reviews painted the game as a generic kiddy game, giving it ratings lower than most crummy licensed games. This happened to another great game as well, “God Hand”, which was also completely destroyed by reviewers.

As a result of these factors, the game sold a measly 30,000 copies WORLDWIDE. It’s a crying shame that this game sold so poorly, especially with how good it is. The game itself is a rare collector’s item now, and it’s hard to even play it without emulation. After all, who would want to risk scratching a collector’s item such as this? To be fair, I ended up scratching and losing my copy when I was a kid, so I’m not one to talk! I still regret that, even after all these years…

Anyway, Gotcha Force was one of those special games that I wish would make a comeback. It was so unique for the time, while combining a lot of gameplay quirks that just work well together. It had problems and issues, but I still felt it shined in spite of them. It just sucks that Nintendo won’t remake/re-release this game, apart from a small Japan-only reissue they did in 2012. Here’s hoping the game gets another re-release, or an enhanced version. I imagine a version on Switch selling like hotcakes!

Personal Thoughts: How Much Should An RPG Video-Game Reward Its Players?

Look at all that sweet gear in RPG World! Just sucks that it’ll take forever to get all that stuff.

Rewards for one’s achievements are something that most people can attest to liking. I mean, who can say no to being rewarded adequately for their achievements? Likewise, video-games are no strangers to rewarding players for their in-game accomplishments. Players often like being rewarded with new powers, abilities, or customization options. Games in the RPG genre are all about rewarding their players, giving them unique gear or items.

After all, most RPGs focus on the power fantasy of your character constantly getting stronger. That being said, there’s a problem I’ve got when it comes to RPGs and their rewards. The problem is that too many RPGs don’t really know how to reward its players properly. I’ve played a lot of RPGs, so I consider myself a big expert on the mechanics that go into them.

So, let’s start with the first problem with RPG rewards: Giving too much for too little. Sometimes, a game will give you large rewards for the tiniest of tasks. I think a big example of this was Destiny 2, a game I recently played and reviewed. The problem with the game was that the final level was a complete joke. The enemies were easy enough to dispatch, and the final boss wasn’t difficult at all.

I took out the final boss in a matter of minutes, and I felt like I hadn’t really earned my victory at all. However, the game thought I did! Upon beating the game, I was gifted with way too many things at once! These various objects included: The ability to drive personal vehicles, a ton of “Legendary” items, a new hub area, several new quests and missions, some “Bright Engrams”, etc.

The amount of rewards that I got for simply beating the game was staggering! I really felt as though I felt that I hadn’t earned these rewards, since the final boss was so weak and pathetic. There are also games that reward the player very little for their accomplishments. For example, the Risen/Gothic games usually don’t reward their players all that much.

To be fair, the goal of both of those franchises is to make the player feel weak. They have to earn all of their accomplishments through hard work, and sometimes are given really crap rewards for said hard work. A good example of this is a side-quest in Risen 3, one that involves you meeting a minor character from Gothic 1 named “Mud”.

Now, Mud is by far the most annoying character in either game. He’ll follow you around the entire island of Kila in Risen 3, and is near impossible to get rid of. In order to get him off your back, you have to complete a fair amount of tasks first. After completing several missions, you bring Mud to the temple and clear it out. Your reward for this task is no longer having to deal with Mud. Aside from a bit of experience points, there is no other reward for such an annoying quest.

I would’ve preferred at least a few gold coins. Actually, most of the rewards for Risen 3 are gold. The game will never toss you rare weapons, forcing you to craft them instead. You’ll be given quests to find these individual pieces, and then using an anvil to forge said weapon. To be fair, gold is much more valuable in this game than rare weapons.

The worst RPGs when it comes to rewards tend to be MMORPGs. These games will give out items like candy on a consistent basis, often rendering your current gear obsolete in the process. As much as I love Maple Story 2, I always get annoyed by the fact that my gear is so easily replaceable. It’s hard to go a full hour in that game without changing your gear entirely. Sadly, almost all MMOs have this problem.

They feel the need to constantly shower players in new gear, devaluing your previous equipment in the process. With all these things in mind, we need to answer a very important question: How much should an RPG reward its players? Well, I think rewards should be handled this way:

  1. Rewards should be given out based on the difficulty of the challenge. It’s impossible to gauge how difficult a boss may be for a specific individual. Still, if you’re putting the player through something you deem a tough trial, there should be a reward equal to said challenge. After all, no one wants to fight a super hard boss and only receive a weak sword as a reward!
  2. Don’t over-reward the player. If you throw too many rewards at the player at once, then they end up with an overstuffed inventory and too many options for load-outs. A player should earn new weapons and gear at a decent pace, since they don’t need to flooded with too many options at all times. It also cheapens the rush of getting new gear, since you’re always getting new stuff that easily replaces it.
  3. Give us more unique rewards. Most games just give you cash and items for completing side-quests and side-content, which is a bit bland in my opinion. The best games reward you for completing side-missions by giving you bits of interesting lore, secrets areas, and interesting sights. A player doesn’t need to be given shiny loot all the time, it sometimes helps to just give them something unique for their troubles.

Hopefully, more games can adopt a similar reward system. It seems like a lot of games are severely lacking in giving players the right kind of rewards, but I’m sure this will change over time. I love a good reward in a game, but I find that I always get shafted in most games I play. While the list above is just my suggestions, I feel like they could greatly improve the reward systems in future games. That’s just my opinion though, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section!

Daemon X Machina: A Truly Interesting Mech Action Game

Anyone remember Armored Core? This was an awesome mech action game series that started in the 90s, which quickly garnered a small but dedicated fan-base upon release. The game revolved around you piloting a mech through a series of missions, while destroying everything in sight. You could customize your giant robot in a variety of ways, but you had to be careful about what you put on your mech.

You put on too much armor on and your mech would become slow-moving and more of a target, while putting on less¬†gear made you faster. You had to have the right balance when it comes to your mech build, or else you’d get obliterated. Armored Core was a series that ran for a whopping 16 years, while generating many titles in the process.

Developed by FromSoftware, it seemed like the series was destined to keep going until until the end of time. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out that way. The last game in the series came out in 2013 with very little fanfare, resulting in the series effectively dying. It’s been 6 years and we still haven’t heard anything about a new Armored Core game, but there is definitely hope on the horizon.

During last year’s E3, we were given a teaser for an interesting new game called “Daemon X Machina”. Being worked on by people who created the original Armored Core games, Daemon X Machina is essentially a “Spiritual Successor” to the original AC games. The game is being developed exclusively for Nintendo Switch, and features a unique and stylish art-style.

You play as a customizable pilot of a mecha called an “Arsenal”. You can swap out parts of your Arsenal for better equipment, but have to keep in mind weight distribution. For all intensive purposes, Daemon X Machina is essentially a fusion of Monster Hunter and Armored Core. You take on missions from your base, where you can customize your robot and character. From there, you go on missions where you fight robots and earn new gear.

You can also “upgrade” your human avatar, which will give him cybernetic enhancements that he can use outside of his mech. Of course, your human character will always be much weaker than your giant robot, which means that you can’t rely on it as much.

While the game won’t be released for a while, Nintendo did put a demo called “Prototype Missions”. I was able to play through the first few missions of the game and truly experience what it had to offer for myself, which I dug quite a bit. The visuals were gorgeous, the action was fast and fun, and the customization was fantastic.

Unfortunately, the few missions I did play had some severe problems. There was a sufficient lack of variety in mission structure, with most missions boiling down to “kill everything and move on”. On top of this, the cybernetic upgrades to your character didn’t seem to add all that much. For example, I got a mechanical arm that could sprout out a really cool beam sword to attack foes with.

The problem is that its almost entirely useless! I can only attack ground enemies with it, since I can’t really fly while not in the mech. The most I can do is swat at tanks with it, which are already easy enough to destroy without the sword. As annoying as the things I listed are, there’s one thing in this entire demo that watered down my experience: The boss fight. I kid you not, I spent 40 minutes trying to beat this thing and still couldn’t pull it off.

The boss is way too large and has way too much health, making the fight an annoying endurance match. You’ll run out of ammo halfway through it and will be forced to rely on your useless teammates. It’s just way too annoying to be fun and ended up draining most of the enjoyment the demo gave me.

I really hope that not all bosses in the main game are like this, or I will most likely go bald from pulling out my hair in frustration. I get that they were trying to make the first boss a giant damage-sponge, but it doesn’t work too well in a mech game. Regardless, I feel like the boss fight itself was the worst part of my experience with the demo.

I still have faith in Daemon X Machina, but the developers are going to have to work super hard to iron out all the kinks before release. If the game releases in a state where the bosses are frustrating un-fun chores to fight, the mission structure remains formulaic, and the cyborg upgrades remain useless, then I imagine this game will be unable to to garner a true fan-base. After all, problems like that can sometimes keep players away.

I imagine Daemon X Machina will be a game with a niche audience regardless, like most robot games that end up getting released. Regardless of how good the game actually is, it’ll only sell to certain people. I hope that Daemon can manage a solid release, since it’ll need all the good press it can get if it hopes to sell.

Kid Paddle: That One Canadian Cartoon Everyone Forgot About

Obscure early 2000s cartoons are among a few of my favorite things in this world. As much I loved shows from the 90s, the 2000s is when the production quality for cartoons really hit their stride. With new animation techniques came new ways to present cartoons, which lead to an era of experimentation. Some superb shows from this era include Megas XLR, My Life As A Teenage Robot, and Samurai Jack.

However, there were plenty of good shows made around this era that just ended up being forgotten. A big example of this is “Kid Paddle”, an obscure French/Canadian cartoon based off a Belgian comic about a group of nerdy kids who just like to chill and play video-games. The show revolves around the titular Kid Paddle and his friends, who are super invested in the “modern” gaming scene.

What made this show so interesting was its attention to detail at the time, especially in how it presented the video-games themselves. The cartoon would regularly show intricate video-games, or methods on how to do different things with them. One episode even had them hook up a game to an arcade machine via USB, albeit with unrealistic results.

One episode I enjoyed was the one where they eat these weird candy bug things, which looked like something out of “Creepy Crawlers”. There was certainly a lot of silly and interesting episodes out there, but good luck finding them in English! While the cartoon’s original French dubbed episodes are very easy to find, the English ones are much less so.

While the first two episodes were released in English on DVD, the many other episodes are seemingly lost. I know that the other episodes do exist in English, since I’ve seen clips of them here or there. The two episodes that are most readily available contain two segments each, which means that four shorts are available in total.

It’s a shame too, because the show itself is rather entertaining. With no way to watch the show in English, it’s hard for people who don’t speak French to really get into it. So, will Kid Paddle ever make a return on DVD? I mean, there’s a chance. Other shows on Teletoon have received DVD releases, namely Cybersix and Redwall.

To be fair, those shows had much larger fan-bases. No one really remembers Kid Paddle, aside from the few fans who grew up watching it on Teletoon. The show disappeared after only a few years of airing and never returned to the airwaves in Canada, at least not to my knowledge.

As far as I know, the comic is still going. You can find a ton of the trade paperbacks on Amazon, which include the newspaper comics. As for additional animated material beyond the cartoon, there isn’t much. I was able to find an animation on YouTube called “Game Over Episode 1”, but I have no idea if its official content or not. It’s essentially a one minute short set in the Kid Paddle universe, and is more of a straight-up adaptation of the newspaper comic’s “gag-a-day” formula.

Kid Paddle is kind of an enigma, at least in terms of it being a comic that was adapted to animation. English episodes are hard to find, information on the series is fairly scarce, and no one really talks about it anymore. Despite that, the show ran for 52 episodes and the comic is still running to this day.

Despite its obscurity, the series has managed some kind of longevity. I don’t think this show and comic will ever be celebrated as much as other Teletoon shows, but I think people will still look back on it fondly years down the line. Kid Paddle isn’t a show that’s unique, revolutionary, or interesting. However, it took the hobbies of nerdy kids and portrayed them in a way that made sense. I can still go back to this show and relate to the main characters, since I got roped up in a lot of similar shenanigans as a kid. For a show that stopped airing a decade and a half ago, that’s a pretty solid feat.