AdventureQuest 3D: The Phantom Launch


AdventureQuest 3D didn’t actually launch this past week — it was more of a soft launch, what the devs are calling open beta. From what I can tell, it marked the start of a persistent game open to the public, so that’s a soft launch in my book.

I’d been pretty excited to give this a go on my mobile devices, but that wasn’t in the cards. While the PC, Mac, and Android versions all came out on the 19th, the Apple version is (at the time of this writing) still going through the approval process. I told myself that was fine, I could wait… and then impatience got the best of me and I logged in over the weekend on the PC client so that I wasn’t completely behind the curve. I’m counting this as my Try-It Tuesday pick because I did spend a lot of time fiddling about in it.

Thus, Syppi the Rogue entered the world. The art style of AQ3D seems to divide people, but I’m on the side that likes it. It’s a somewhat low fidelity game to accommodate the mobile crowd, but the stylish cel-shading art helps one get over that.


I’m pretty new to the whole AdventureQuest scene, but what I got from the start here is that it’s very tongue-in-cheek and willing to be all sorts of meta. Zorbak, the somewhat-evil little critter that serves as your tutorial guide (despite him hating them) has a lot of laugh-out-loud comments if you take the time to thumb through his whole dialogue.


Zorbak is very up front with the state of AQ3D — open beta is still beta, and this game has a long, long way to go. It’ll probably launch before the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be near what we’d think of a launch state. The devs have a good track record of pumping out content, so here’s hoping.


Yes sir!

And off I was. The current client uses the same interface that’s designed for mobile, although a PC-specific UI is presumably on the way. What would probably feel very natural for a mobile user is a little awkward for the PC. For the most part it’s easy to intuit, but there are missing chunks that require some adjustment.

The combat and movement both are fine, which is definitely a big plus. No auto-attacking here; you’re going to be spamming the action buttons a lot. Could use more contact response from mobs and sound effects. I liked how my character looked swinging her giant dagger around (a sword, really).


The tutorial is pretty entertaining. The dialogue from the few NPCs is worth reading in full, and I liked how this above guy was flinging skeletons to and fro in the background. Nice touch.


I started off with a bare-bones inventory save for my awesome Massively OP cape. I’m going to wear this with pride! Do pink and orange go together? No matter.


This… is not the MMO you want to play if you’re worried about fourth wall-breaking. Sally here was a hoot, particularly when you brought her back the amulet of her mother, confirming her death. Sally kind of cracks up and goes insane. I hope she becomes a supervillain later on.


Following the tutorial is the introduction of the town of Battleon. It’s an amusing place to poke around in, especially the inn. This picture begs an explanation.

The inn also has a “secret” passageway down into the sewers where some level 10 slimes await. Too high level for my blood, so I’ll come back to that later.


The band playing on the stage was pretty amusing. Would have loved to hear music from them, though.


About half of Battleon’s buildings can’t be entered, as you get a notification screen like this one. It was like this in alpha, and I had hopes that these places would be built by the time open beta went live.


I’m guessing this studio loves its little in-jokes among the small dev team.


Even tombstones are under construction! Lots of work seems to have gone into these screens.

Anyway, I went out into the first zone and gamely worked on quests. Without a map and with only the ability to track one quest at a time, it was a little confusing. I would love a multi-quest tracker — and quests that pay out better rewards than a paltry handful of coins and XP. I’m still wearing my gear from the tutorial.


I remembered back during my dev tour that there was a cave with a giant chicken/dragon thing, so I made my way in there. Took a lot of fights against these level 3 beasts to get to her at the center. Finally, there I was, drinking in her majesty. Then she pecked me to death.

AdventureQuest 3D will be mostly a mobile activity for me, so I was happy when the Apple store unlocked it on Saturday night. The download was incredibly small and quick, and I was back onto the same character I played on the PC not 15 minutes previous. The interface definitely works better with mobile as it is and I ran it through the paces for about a half hour with no difficulty. I couldn’t enable some of the more advanced graphic effects without bringing it to a crippling halt.

All in all, it should be said that AQ3D is very, very much in a beta state. It’s a little too grindy and the gear system isn’t the clearest in the world, and there isn’t much to do right now other than follow the string of standard quests and hope to level up. It’s probably best enjoyed on an incredibly casual basis right now until more features and content gets added. I think it has a lot of potential, to be sure, and the core functionality is there, but this isn’t as full-featured as you might expect from a standard (even a cheap Asian) MMO. There’s probably no shame in waiting until release.

On the other hand, the Halloween event starts this week, so I do want to see what they come up with for a haunted house. Should be interesting.

Music Mondays: Mario, Amiga, Ys, and more

Here’s another batch of terrific video game music that I’ve listened to recently and wanted to share with you! Today we’re going to start with “Everyone’s a Super Star” from Mario Party 64. Just a crazy, cheerful track that has a few Mario tune reprises tucked in there.

I’ve only looked upon the Ys series from afar, but I gotta say that I really like “First Step Towards Wars” (although not the name, ugh). So peppy and inspiring!

“The City” is so heartbreakingly sad while offering just a small, tiny sliver of hope. It’s such a different type of music track than you’d normally hear in a game — almost church-like in its purity.

I love me some good Amiga tunes, and “Theme” from The Humans is a great example of why this system boasts some of the best retro computer tunes. It’s fast-paced, tribal, and extremely memorable. Let’s play it again!

If you want music that puts you in a good and relaxing mood, you usually can’t go wrong with a Sims soundtrack. I’m going through these song compilations and am finding them to be perfect writing music.

The Secret World: Fill in the blank endings (City of the Sun God #4)


(Join Syp as he attempts to document a complete playthrough of The Secret World from start to finish. What will The Secret Adventures discover next? Find out in this exciting installment! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)

Bugged (side mission)

Clearing up a couple of missions on the north side of the Black Pyramid, I get the marching orders to exterminate some locust nests with extreme prejudice. Actually, the game often presents these quests as initiative on your part instead of someone telling you, “Go here, do this.” Maybe my character just really doesn’t like bugs? Doesn’t believe in a live and let live kind of world?

Not a hard mission. A tedious one, to be sure, lots of killing bugs and hives, but nothing hard. I only got in trouble when I accidentally tagged about three hives in a row and got literally swarmed by giant locusts. I valiantly put up a fight, but there’s only so much I can do, y’know?


Ghoul, Well Done (side mission)

Out of all of The Secret World’s enemy groups, I can’t say that I’m particularly up to speed on the ghouls. I’m not even sure what they are, other than stock monsters. Did someone make them? Are they filth related? Bah, no time to google it, I have an article to write!

Our fascinating story begins with the above ghoul totem, which is apparently six third-grade art class sessions more sophisticated than one would normally expect from ghouls. Someone has been organizing and training these ghouls in deadly artcraft — but who?

Turns out, a grumpy jinn. Grumpy jinns are the cause of a lot of problems in this zone, so that’s not so much of a surprise as a, “oh, there’s another dead Orochi.” Just take it for granted.


Points of Impact (side mission)

It’s time for a little rant about one of the most frustrating aspects of TSW. We all praise the game’s storytelling, strong characters, and voice acting, and that’s all deserved — at least in my opinion. But it’s not perfect, and probably the place that it starts to come apart is in the conclusion.

Every quest is a three-act story (more or less). The cutscene — or text box — serves as the introduction, delivering the backstory, setting up the field, and giving us motivation. Then there’s the action on the part of the player to complete the mission. And then there’s the conclusion — or, more often than not, no conclusion at all. No resolution. Just interesting questions and situations that are scarcely explained. It’s lazy and frustrating and it always makes me feel like I *missed* something or that I have to go to outside sources to find that resolution.

This side mission is a good example. I find a weird meteor impact in the desert and am told to investigate other landing points for something “sinister.” The meteor in fact turns out to be a whole lot of lava golems that have crash landed. I kill about eight of them and then run off to warn the nearest statue-child about their existence. And then… the mission is over. No closing text — and no answers.

It’s a small mission, but what’s going on here? Are these lava golems from outer space? Weapons sent by the Black Pharaoh? A botched science experiment? If I’ve killed them all, why am I warning the statue-child? There’s just a big hole where explanation should be. I guess we’re supposed to fill in the blank with our own ideas and thank the game for being so magnanimous.

In all fairness, TSW has seemed to be getting better with more definite conclusions and better explanations, going so far as to occasionally including ending cutscenes. But nothing infuriates me more than a mission that shudders to an awkward halt with a form letter when you turn it in via the HUD.

OK. Enough ranting. Let’s move on.


The Dark Places (action mission)

It’s time to meet another one of the stone children: Thutmose. He’s the oldest son and, from what I can tell, a complete drip. Kind of wonder why these kids haven’t gone completely insane from a thousand or so years being trapped in statues with only their siblings to talk to. My kids can’t go 20 minutes without getting into fights if they’re in the same room.

Anyway, Thutmose is dismayed that a bunch of filth ghosts are starting to make trouble nearby and enlists my help to cut them off at the head. Guess that’s going to take a lot of bullets.

/Syp puts on the Ghostbusters theme. WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

I have to hand it to this mission: It really surprised me. I expected to just go blasting through waves of mobs, but from the start, it turned out to be very unusual. For starters, I was tasked to go to a high point and scope things out with binoculars. The second I did that, the game startled me by throwing a large bird creature at me that knocked me off the perch and down into the canyon. Follow that up with an onslaught of mobs that ended up killing me within a minute — and that’s all part of the mission progression.

I had to find help in the spirit world. Fortunately, there was a “ghostly warrior” hanging out nearby. Wonder what he does in his off days.


It doesn’t get any less surprising from here. Using portals, I hop back and forth from the land of the dead to the land of the living, winning myself a magical sword that somehow rallies a quartet of identical ghost warriors to join me in my crusade against the spirits.

Then it’s a rematch of the battle that I first lost, only this time I have a full party with me. We plow through an entire liquor cabinet worth of spirits, slicing, dicing, and shooting. It all ends with a showdown against a mini-Flappy, but by then it was ridiculously easy. Way to keep me on my toes, game!


The Eye of Horus (action mission)

With the Black Pharaoh raising an army and the statues challenged with waning power and a distinct lack of mobility, it once again rests upon me to save the world. At least Thutmose promises that if I can craft a sigil, he’ll lend me some of his power. We hope that it will be useful power and not, say, the ability to eat pop-tarts without gaining weight.

This mission took me to the Reformatory, just another ugly grey-and-tan-and-sandy temple with a lot of Atenists, filth, and nary a food court to be found. Again, this isn’t a particularly difficult mission — it is very straight-forward — but it does embrace the tedious side, as you have to assassinate a string of specific mobs all around the place. At least I’m having fun with my AoE field build that I’ve been tweaking. My kingdom for one more passive ability slot!

Afterward, Geary said that the Illuminati are supporting the statues not just because of aligned interests, but because their desperation makes for a good opportunity to gain leverage later on. They’ll owe us, big-time.

Star Control 2: QuasiSpace


(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Control 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

On the advice of a long-range Spathi patrol, we head out into deep space to investigate a star that apparently blinks into existence three days every month. Turns out that this is a portal to a different type of hyperspace called QuasiSpace!


Ted, the studio intern, had to work ALL DAY to flip those color filters!

Other than being very, very, very green, QuasiSpace is remarkably empty compared to normal space. There is a small cluster of systems in the middle of a whole lot of nothingness as well as a larger system over to the side.


It’s here that I meet the mystical Arilou. They’re kind of insufferable mentors of humanity and a former part of the Alliance. Once earth got captured and — in the eyes of the Arilou — made “safe” behind the shield, the Arilou left to return to QuasiSpace instead of fighting the Ur’Quan. They mention that they’ve been tinkering with things on earth for thousands of years now, altering humanity and something about other species that we shouldn’t be allowed to see, or else it would be bad.


Space Guru there tells me that I could get my ship equipped with a generator that would allow for access anywhere in and out of QuasiSpace, but I’m going to need to go get a part for it first.


It’s not the easiest thing to do in the world, but I finally discover the Ur’Quan wreck and loot the part I need. Time to pimp my ride!

Getting back to QuasiSpace is tricky. The only regular portal opens up but a few days a month, so you have to wait around if you’re not in that window. I zip back to the Arilou and get my reward: a portal generator of my own.

This is actually great news. First of all, QuasiSpace doesn’t consume fuel once you’re there. Second, all of what I thought were other systems in QuasiSpace are actually portals going to different places across the starmap in regular space. This means that I can hop into QuasiSpace and take shortcuts around the galaxy for a relatively low fuel cost. Huzzah!

Star Control 2: Cuddly vs. cowardly


(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Control 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

In order to curry favor with the cowardly, neurotic Spathi, I am given the near-impossible task of going to their home planet and ridding it of all of the “Evil Ones” that forced the Spathi into an organized retreat hundreds of years ago. My crew, of which only about 50% remain in our current voyage, is totally psyched to have this task ahead of them. Never a pleasure planet, eh?


Heading over to the homeworld, I do a biological scan and pull up a few dozen life signs. Y’know, some in the water, some not, just scattered about. The terrain on planets doesn’t seem to matter for object placement or your lander, so I guess it’s just scenery.

Of course, the fact that the Evil Ones(tm) aren’t nearly at the technological level of the Spathi make me wonder why the Spathi couldn’t just nuke them from orbit. Or ask their Ur’Quan masters for some help. Or create robots to do their bidding. Why wait until I show up? It doesn’t make sense.




Seriously, these are the cutest, most cuddliest alien bad guys ever. I want to hug all of them! But instead, I zap them with my lander’s laser, which transforms them into containers for convenient pick-up. Sure. Why not.

It’s not a particularly hard task, just somewhat time-consuming. The Evil Ones, such as they are, won’t move or attack unless you make contact with them. If you do that, your lander gets one-shotted. So it’s kind of a little tricky to make sure you don’t accidentally run into one, which is actually a problem since you only get this teeny-tiny window showing a short radius around your lander. It’s one of the more annoying aspects of this game’s design and I can’t believe that the devs thought it was a good idea to banish all surface action to 1/15th of the screen.


We’re going to dump these Evil Ones into your rec room and see what happens, you dorks.


How cowardly are the Spathi? To repopulate the presumably cleansed planet (although they don’t 100% believe me on this), they’re going to send the babies and old people first. I can’t even make this up, folks.

The Spathi then start dragging their feet on joining my alliance as promised. They ask for me to wait “ten, fifteen years tops” to resettle their homeworld. NUH UH. No way. That’s the final straw. I threaten to unload all of the Evil Ones on the Spathi, and they finally capitulate and agree to head to Earth to join the alliance. Well, we got the cowards on our side, so that’s something. Not much, but something.


Heading back to Earth, I bump into another Spathi unit that talks about passing the time by playing this “entertainment device” that sounds identical to, well, Star Control 2. Meta humor, boys and girls!


With just three (!) units of fuel remaining, I limp back into the solar system and make my way to the space station. At least the Spathi have held to their agreement and made their ships and captains available for purchase. Not that I’m going to buy any, but good to know. I offload all of my cargo and reap in a ton of RUs, which I use for resupply.


My flagship is definitely coming along. I’m able to add a couple more fuel pods, doubling my range, and another crew pod, increasing my “health” to 100. Plus, more storage, turning jets, and fusion thrusters. I’m a legend.

Is Retro-Bit Generations a serious challenger to the NES Classic Edition?


About the time that the NES Classic Edition will launch (and, considering the pre-order situation already, completely sold out), there will be a lesser-known but similar product coming to the shelves. Retro-Bit Generations is, in many respects, a competitor to the NES Classic, boasting a bundle of old school games in a plug-and-play device.

But will it be a challenger? The obstacles are steep here. This console hasn’t been getting the press or has the instant name recognition that the NES Classic has. It’s also not going to feature any first-party NES games. Even so, it might have an edge on the Classic in a few ways that could make it worth picking up.

For starters, Generations has more games (90 versus 30) that span several consoles (NES, SNES, arcade, and Gameboy, mostly). It also has a stronger third-party focus, with Capcom, Data East, and Jaleco leading the pack. Many of the games are more obscure, but there are several classics in the list, including Bionic Commando (which was shamefully omitted from the NES Classic), 1942/43, Knights of the Round, Bases Loaded, Commando, Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Gun Smoke, two Kid Niki games, and R-Type 3.

It also has an SD slot to save/transfer games and possibly expand on this list, something the Classic lacks. I’m ambivalent about the controllers, which are modeled after the Genesis, but we’ll see. The price tag, $60, puts it right there against the NES Classic, and might be a hard sell without the nostalgia design or strong first-party titles.

This YouTuber actually seems more excited about the Generations console than the Classic, so check it out:

World of Warcraft: Deathlord Syp (and Burpface)


My kids absolutely love the abomination that fights alongside of my Death Knight, probably because one day I told them that his name was (as the name generator spawned) “Burpface.” Burpface and Syp, against the world. It’s the stuff of legends.

I’ve settled into a comfortable routine with World of Warcraft while keeping my focus mostly on my main (DK). If I don’t have a lot of time during a day, I do try to log in for 20-30 minutes to do my emissary world quests. I’m getting better about blasting through those, sorting out which ones might take too long or be in a more difficult spot. I know rep is important, but I’m always excited to open up the big treasure chest at the end of these and cross my finger for something good. No legendaries yet, of course, but I have gotten a lot of good purples. Syppy is now iLevel 836 and starting to get to the point where pushing up past that means that I’ll need to run raids or mythics.

Raids are doable with the raid finder, but mythics are more difficult to get a foot in the door. My guild, while wonderful and welcoming, is still mostly struggling to get leveled and geared up to the mythic level, so we haven’t run anything together yet (plus, we’re like one tank, 5,000 DPS, and no healers, so that’s an issue). And I guess WoW doesn’t use the LFG tool for mythics? That stinks, it really does. I don’t like games taking away useful grouping tools.

If I have more time, then I pour over the rewards for the other world quests to see if there are any huge gold bounties (I found one the other day that paid out 648 gold for running a dungeon, so yes please on that) or better gear.


Then I’ve been hacking away at my to-do list, AKA my quest log. I have quests scattered all over the place, remnants of old chains or this or that. I made it my focus to finish up the Death Knight campaign and my order hall campaign, both of which I was able to accomplish this past week. I got a particular kick out of (spoiler) how you end up taking on the role of Illidan in the raid boss fight. The NPC “party” names were funny and the comments more so, if a little meta and fourth-wall-breaking for what was supposed to be a serious story beat. Eh, I don’t mind a little silly.


The final fight through the Paladin class hall was, if not particularly hard, neat to do. Got me in the spirit of being a Death Knight, since we’re pretty much at odds with the Paladin worldview. Finally, I was crowned Deathlord and the story of the four horse…people of the apocalypse came to a conclusion.

I didn’t understand why my third artifact relic slot hadn’t opened up yet, which took some investigating. It’s not really clear, but you have to go back and talk to someone near where you level up your weapon, and that was obscured on my map.

With all of that, my iLevel is approaching 850 and I am starting to think of options for the future. Random raids? Look for mythic group runs? Or work on my Druid? I think our guild will start doing more coordinated activities once it settles down and grows more (it’s a fairly new guild but lots of great attitudes and friendships already).


I lightly amused myself with dabbling in some of the Halloween content. I fought the Headless Horseman for the first time since 2008, and boy was that a rush of nostalgia. Fight’s over within seconds, but at least the LFG tool makes it easy to pop in and out.

I think I’m getting to a point in the post-expansion period where I’m able to scale down my time/interest to a more normal level, which is great for all of the other MMOs that I’ve been neglecting. Patch 7.1 is coming next week, so there might be some more stuff to do. I also should clean up quests and look at other personal goals.