Daily Archives: May 16, 2011

Got the itch to Quidditch

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and everything from the books to the movies to the LEGO-ized videogames to the tiny, but fantastic theme parks are laced with pure joy because once I interact with them, I’m beyond content. Here’s some photographic proof too, of Tara and I enjoying some frozen butterbeer on our honeymoon, even if it’s probably overpriced:

I think the world and lore and workings of the Harry Potter universe are stellar, with J.K. Rowling going the extra seventy-seven miles to make sure that everything clicked and made sense in a magical manner. She even made up her very own sport, which, contrarily to what you may believe, is not a simple task: you need rules, goals, strategy, players, teams, fields, designs, logos, tournaments, history, and so on. Quidditch is no Calvinball.

Quidditch is a mix of soccer, basketball, and football, with the most striking difference being that it’s played by witches and wizards on brooms and not on the ground. There’s a lot happening at once, with multiple balls to pay attention to: the Quaffle is a large red ball used for scoring points by tossing it through an opposing team’s hoops; Bludgers are angry, enchanted balls that Beaters hit away or at other players; and the Golden Snitch is a small, golden ball the size of a walnut that, when caught by a team’s Seeker, rewards that team with 150 points, ultimately ending the match. It’s fast-paced and anyone’s game all the way down to the Snitch.

And so it’s strange that, for all these years of Harry Potter’s growing popularity, there’s only been one videogame take on the magical Quidditch. I mean, what with the big push of online multiplayer and socializing these days, I find it amazing that Quidditch hasn’t been bundled in with the latest Harry Potter game as a multiplayer option. Instead, we just have Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, and Game Boy Advance. Recently, as I searched high and low for PS2 games to add to my collection, I found the Ps2 version of Quidditch World Cup for $2.99 and said, “Bloody brilliant!” Well, no, I didn’t actually say that. But if Ron was with me, surely he would’ve.

The game’s okay. You start out doing some broom challenges, which teach you the basics of passing, shooting, stealing, catching the Snitch, and so on. Then you pick a House team, and it’s off to try to win the Hogwarts cup. I went with Ravenclaw since that’s the House I belong to, and I found beating Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Gryffindor to be extremely easy. Like, they never scored a point against me. Maybe I was just really awesome at virtual broom-flying? Nah, that’s not it. After the Hogwarts cup, it’s on to the Quidditch World Cup, and I chose Japan, dueling it out with good ol’ USA. The spike in difficulty was sharp, and the game was super close, ultimately coming down to whoever caught the Snitch first. Thankfully, Cho did her thing, and we won, a victory surely earned unlike those back in the Hogwarts days. After that intense match, I took a break and checked out some of the Chocolate Frog cards I unlocked throughout play.

If anything, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup showed how much of a Muggle I actually am. The game taught me about the Golden Snidget, a small, golden-yellow bird previous used in Quidditch before it became deemed too cruel and unsafe for the animals. I never knew about this backstory to the wizarding sport, and in all seriousness, I just assumed Electric Arts decided to spell Snitch wrong or in a special British way. Go figure.

30 Days of Gaming, #18 – Craziest thing in a game

The original 30 Days of Gaming topic for today was a sort of follow-up to “favorite antagonist,” with the focus this time being on the yin to its yang–“favorite protagonist.” The problem with that is that it is a little too similar to the topic I did for “favorite character,” and while many could argue that Gremio was not the main protagonist in Suikoden, he was a main character, and so he still remains my favorite of those. In short: frak this list, I’m making my own topic up. Let’s go with “craziest thing in a game,” okay?

Final Fantasy XII was determined to be different. It wanted to fuse MMO elements with a traditional epic plot, as well as introduce a license board, hunting for marks, and using gambits to streamline combat effectively. And it did do all of those things, somewhat successfully, but Squaresoft also added in a pinch of pure bat-shit crazy because there’s the Zodiac Spear. What’s that? Why, it’s only the strongest weapon in the game, with +150 Attack and +8 Evasion. See the shiny:

The tricky part is that for your band of girly boys and boyish girls to find this kick-ass weapon, they’re going to have to not open specific treasure chests. That’s right. Not open them. The chests to steer clear of are as follows:

  • The chest outside Old Dalan’s place in Lowtown.
  • There are two chests in the southeast corner of the Palace Cellar. Open them and all hope is lost.
  • When Vaan gets captured, he gets sent to the Confiscatory. Don’t open any of the chests there.
  • There’s an island on the Phon Coast with 16 chests on it. Touch them and die.

Leave those chests alone and you’ll find the Zodiac Spear in the Necrohol of Nabudis. Seems pretty simple, right? If only.

Naturally, during my one and only playthrough, I had opened many of these chests by the time I went online and learned of all this. Why wouldn’t I open them? Gamers are trained from very early on that opening treasure chests is a good thing, a solid way to ensure spoils and weapons and maybe even a battle with a fake treasure chest monster. I hate those things so much. It’s plain crazy to hide away such power and greatness by punishing us that play the way we’ve all been taught to play. At that point, the developers might as well took away super strong spells simply because we spoke to a Moogle in Rabanastre or used an Elixir after losing some HP. It’s just a bit boggling, and I have to wonder how anyone other than those involved in the game discovered the trick to getting the Zodiac Spear. Surely it had to be leaked out or something like that hidden room in Batman: Arkham Asylum. I mean, this didn’t hinder my love for Final Fantasy XII or stop me from completing many moons ago, but I do love collecting and completing collections; missing out on the “ultimate weapon” in a Final Fantasy game hits home hard, almost like a spear to the gut…a Zodiac Spear.