Monday, October 27, 2008

So many games...

I've got so many games piling up that I need to complete or even start...

Currently, I'm playing these, with my progress so far in each. I'll probably write reviews of them once I finish them if I have time, or ever finish them. I'm closest to finishing Eternal Sonata or Children of Mana.

Eternal Sonata ~ Chapter 7 ~ Game Time: 35:41

Lost Odyssey Disc 3 ~ Game Time: 45:10

Children of Mana ~ Chapter 6 ~ Game Time: 26:13

New Super Mario Bros ~ World 5

Spore Creatures ~ Planet 2

Then after I complete some of those, I will try finish off The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. An awesome game, but I find it very frustrating at times, and need to concentrate on it. I'm quite near the end of that. Think I'm looking for the last Pure Metal in it.

Then theres the list of games I havent started yet...hehe.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance ~ Game Boy Advance

Final Fantasy IV ~ Nintendo DS

Final Fantasy V Advance ~ Game Boy Advance

Final Fantasy VI Advance ~ Game Boy Advance

Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core ~ Sony PSP

Gears of War 2 ~ Xbox 360 [Preordered it :D]

Luminous Arc ~ Nintendo DS

And looking forward to playing and obtaining these; 

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia ~ Nintendo DS

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin ~ Nintendo DS [Still havent played this, need to get it played before OoE]

Fable 2 ~ Xbox 360

Infinite Undiscovery ~ Xbox 360

The Last Remnant ~ Xbox 360

Riviera: The Promised Land ~ Game Boy Advance/PSP [I'll probably go for the GBA version, see what I think of it first. I've heard good things though]

Tales of Vesperia ~ Xbox 360

And all those titles I mentioned for the PSP, plus a few more I think I've forgotten. Too many games, not enough time. Same with anime...too much of that...

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

The rather awesome cover art for Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

As a huge fan of Castlevania games, I cant wait to play this game. Its out in Japan and USA now, so I'm not sure when I'm gonna get it. They've changed the style a bit, going from the anime inspired style (a little bit badly designed in terms of characters and style) of Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin which I liked to a more traditional gothic style. I really liked the GBA titles and hope to see more of the amazingly designed backgrounds, enemies, attacks and characters that were in the previous titles. I just love the style of Castlevania games, hopefully this has lots of what I like about them.

Release Dates:

Japan: 23/10/08 [out now]

USA: 21/10/08 [out now] Actually, I dont know how the US managed to get this before Japan, but its a trend I've noticed for a few game releases now...

UK & EU: ??/01/09 

Trailer..fanmade I think, but it shows lots of the game, and the opening, which I really like! Cant wait to play this ^_^


Got a PSP the other day. Its quite an awesome console from what I've seen so far. I need to get more games and downgrade the firmware for homebrew. So far, I'm wanting to try these; 

Breath of Fire III

Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition

Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core(got this, not started it yet ><)

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PSP 3000

The new model(3000 series) comes with a brighter screen than previous models and a built in microphone(which has limited uses so far~Skype and maybe some multiplayer games I think)

It also has newer security measures built in and a different motherboard from older models which have so far been hacked to allow downgrading of firmware, adding of custom firmware and homebrew to the PSP 3000 series. 3000s are unable to be booted from a pandora battery. I dont know much about hacking PSPs, but thats bad for hackers. For Sony its good though.

Actually, its kinda bad so far because there have been lots of complaints of the screen display not being up to scratch. Lots of errors have been reported from what I've heard. No solution from Sony for this, however. 

On the plus side, Playstation Network is compatible with PSPs with the latest firmware now. I'm new to Sony products, but thats more or less the equivalent of xbox live downloads from what I can tell. Hopefully they'll make lots of games available for download quickly.

Need to get me some more games for the PSP...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Magical Starsign Review

Magical Starsign

Platform: Nintendo DS

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Brownie Brown 

Genre: Role-playing game

Released last year on the DS, this rpg follows on from Brownie Brown's Magical Vacation, which was only released in Japan, I believe.

I picked the game up a few months ago, in summer when I saw it on sale. I had read about the game ages ago in a magazine, and the visuals, coupled with the turn based combat and the fact that it was an rpg were enough for me to buy it. 

The gameplay in this game is fairly easy overall, with only a few battles in the game that gave me problems. Also, only minimal grinding is required to make the game very easy. I kinda would have preferred a bit more of a challenge from the game. Even the end bosses aren't that hard, with easy to exploit weaknesses and strategies.

What I didn't really like about this game(even though I would say this makes the game quite unique) is the magic system. When I first started the game, I was really looking forward to mastering a lot of spells as I levelled up and played through the game with the 6 playable characters. Unfortunately, each character only gets 5 spells, some of which are near enough useless, so essentially 3 or 4 offensive spells each. This leads to insanely repetitive battles, with the player having to watch the sometimes quite long spell animations. The graphical animations, while nice at first, become boring and annoying by the end of the game. Also, since the spells do between 2 and 5(and more) times the amount of damage melee attacks do, there is essentially no need for melee attacks(apart from against a few enemies who are resistant to magic or enemies which starsign means they take less damage from certain elements.)

This leads me on to one aspect of the gameplay I quite liked, as it was quite original. There are different elemental powers, one of which is associated with each character and enemy in the game. These are Wind, Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Light/Dark. At the beginning of the game, you choose between male and female, and light and dark. This doesnt change much in the game, apart from you will be stronger against certain bosses and enemies and weaker against others. Each of these elements are linked to a planet which, when it comes into alignment, will strengthen the character in battle, allowing them to do more damage and receive other benefits. For the light and dark characters, they receive these bonuses when it is daytime, or night time, respectively. Also, these planets are the world that becomes explored throughout the game. One thing I thought was quite annoying was the fact that the majority of the planets are visited twice in the game, even though new areas of the planet are unlocked, it still feels a bit boring. I would have liked it if there was a greater degree of free roaming, or more planets to visit. Side quests wouldnt have gone amiss either...

Puffoon-one of the planets you go to throughout the course of the game.

One thing I didnt like about the game was that it never seemed serious enough. In the later part of the game you are searching for Millennium "gummies" of each element. This pretty much sums up the style of the game. It has a kind of unique 'charm or wit', thats how I would describe it. It is different from most other rpgs I've played, and at times I liked it, but I definitely feel that it detracted from the potentially dramatic and serious parts of the story.

Gameplay: 6/10

The graphics in this game are very good-they are vibrant and make the game visually fun to play. They help bring the unusual and interesting game world to life. The battles look very good, with the many different environments and enemies animated very nicely.

Graphics: 7/10

The story and characters are two of the weaker areas of the game. The characters dont really have much in the way of personality and are quite annoying at times. I think the choice to include 6 playable characters all of which can be in the party at one time might have been a bit of a mistake. More characters means less development for each. The game world has many interesting and amusing creatures and characters, many of which have quite...wierd names. Makes for quite an interesting play through the game, but unfortunately, the most important aspect is severely lacking. The story hardly makes any sense, and is hardly serious enough, even at the end of the game. The story basically entails the teacher of this class in this magical academy thing(Harry Potter *cough*) going missing and then the students go hunting the galaxy for her...what kind of students would do that? -_- Anyway, it then branches into other parts of the story but it still isnt going to win any awards, for sure.

Story and Characters: 4/10

The game has a few features which would lead to extra gameplay and replay options. Trying to get 100% of the bestiary could be one area, as well as a hidden dungeon and multiplayer. Apart from those, there are not many other extras or sidequests that contribute to a decent amount of replayability. After I completed the game, I had very little desire to play the game again...

Replayability and Extras: 2/10

The game has another aspect that I didnt like particularly, although some people actually do quite like this. The controls are almost all driven by the touch screen, including spell strikes to power up spells, reflex type dodging or blocking and basically everything else, including the control in the field. One of the reasons I didnt like this was running around is a bit awkward considering its hard to stop. When you touch the screen in one direction, the team then runs in that direction until you change or run into a wall or something. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I think dual controls(touch screen and D-pad) could have made vast improvements to this game. Menus and some interfaces are sometimes quite frustrating, but at times they are quite well designed-for example the battle menu which I thought was quite well designed.

Controls and Innovation: 5/10

Some things I liked about this game when I started, but by the end of it, I was relieved to be finished it because it just got repetitive, boring and felt like a chore. Worth a look for its interesting world and some of its characters, but in my opinion, it has its fair share of flaws.

Overall: 6/10

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Final Fantasy III Review

Final Fantasy III

Platform: Nintendo DS

Publisher & Developer: Square Enix

I only just completed this recently, after playing it on and off for ages(I got it when it was released on the DS in the UK on...May 2007, around then.) I am going to try and review the games I play through to the end from now on.

So, I wanted to review this game, because I really enjoyed it however there were some aspects I thought could have been better. I'll highlight them over the course of this short review.

Ok, so some basic info about the game now. This is a remake of Final Fantasy 3 for the NES, with new and improved 3D graphics, remastered sound and touchscreen controls and some extra content( I havent played the original version, so I am just going on what I have read online.) New material comes in the form of the wi-fi unlockable content such as the Onion Knight job class and Master Blacksmith and some other stuff. This makes for good replayability options, and adds to the already large gameplay time you can expect from this title.

One thing that might put people off this game is the difficulty. I dont know how this compares to the original NES version, but I am reviewing this as FF3 on the DS and trying not to keep comparing it to the original version. The difficulty, as I said previously is one thing that puts people off this game. It is quite hard at first, with little details such as Phoenix Downs adding to the frustration value. You cant actually buy Phoenix Downs(which revive dead characters if you didnt already know) and this leads to many instances when I was pissed off at the game, which can be of a manageable difficulty anywhere up to incredibly hard. Its a challenge, though, which I liked. As you progress through the game though, and with a bit of grinding here and there your job level and overall levels will increase making the game that bit easier or more manageable. Quite late on, you will get the White Magic "Raise" and eventually(right at the end of the game pretty much) "Full-Life"(Its got a different name which I forget lol.) These, along with the Cure spells your Mages can use take the focus away from potions, healing items and Phoenix Downs, which makes it easier as you go along thankfully. Its also very old school, with no mid-dungeon saving apart from the quick save option, and the fact that characters keep statuses and KO status after battle(annoying at first, you eventually get solutions to these status 'woes'

That leads me on to the gameplay. I really liked the battle system in this game, which is your average turn based rpg style. There was not much innovation ie use of the ATB system in other remakes and other Final Fantasy games, but I still liked the standard attack/magic/item/special ability type battles. The reason I would say I quite liked the gameplay despite the unoriginal battles was the job and level up system used. Your characters, of which there are only 4 playable throughout the game can be up to lvl 99 overall. In addition to this overall level, they can choose any job from this list of 23 jobs which you unlock in 4 sets of jobs as you go through the main game(and one unlocked on completing a sidequest.)

  White Mage
  Black Mage
  Red Mage
  Dark Knight
  Black Belt
  Onion Knight

So there is a lot of scope for customising your characters however you want, as you can have up to lvl 99 in each, or any of these jobs, each of which lead to different stat growth, ie. Black Belt, which gives very high Vit. to the character on each level up, in turn giving you high HP growth on each lvl up. I think out of the gameplay, the job system is the redeeming feature of Final Fantasy III and leads me to give the game...

Gameplay: 7/10

The graphics are one area of the game that looks really good-the DS can cope with the 3D engine really well, experiencing no slowdown whatsoever, but some of the time minor things could be noticed that probably weren't supposed to be there. The character models look very good, well designed and dont look to pixelly or crappy with the 3D graphics and cutscenes where they zoom in quite close. Some of the textures and backgrounds look a little bit nasty, so I would say that is the only area I think the graphics fall down in.

Screenshots of FFIII @ RPGFan

I would say I liked the graphics, they are very good 3D graphics considering the power of the DS and I would give FFIII...

Graphics: 8/10

Perhaps the most important part of an RPG is the ability to tell a story, to draw a player in and keep them playing until the end. Be it as a result of good characterisation, interaction between characters and NPCs, choices in dialogue, options, whatever-a good RPG should have a good story and characters. FFIII isnt going to win any prizes for story, thats for sure. Its pretty much still the same as FFI and FFII, generic heroes arise and have to do something involving 4 crystals in order to save the world...The game is very long, with many different areas and sidequests that can be played through. The vast number of NPCs and cutscenes help to drive the story on, but the fundamental flaw I believe is the generic characters, who only really have the smallest bit of personality each. Adding to this, you have a world map in which you often need to explore every inch of in order to find where you are supposed to be going, as directions are unclear at times. This was very frustrating at times, and was probably what had me going to guides online more than anything for this game. 

Story & Characters: 6/10

One thing I thought wasnt too important, but it did leave me feeling shortchanged and what I thought was even quite lazy in terms of game design from the developers, the esteemed Square Enix, was the control system. Yes, you can use the stylus to control the battle and other things in the game, but it doesnt feel intuitive. The game also hardly ever uses both screens at one time, one aspect I think DS games MUST utilise, if they are going to stand out from other platforms and games. I think the D-pad remains the only way to control the game effectively, but it is done quite well. So I would give the game...

Controls and Innovation: 4/10

Replayability, there is quite a lot of this,  with the multitude of job classes, ultimate weapons for each class, onion knight job and other wi-fi quests, all the items you can obtain only by stealing from enemies and bosses, hidden chests, sidequests...loads and loads of replay options in this game, which is really good. I felt satisfied with this aspect of the game, despite having only played it once through so far. I felt I had got a lot for my money, which is always good. 

Replayability: 9/10

I guess the sound is pretty good in this game, with the high quality music everyone comes to expect from FF titles.

Sound: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Its a good game, pretty hardcore difficulty and play time might put some people off, but theres lots to do, which is good.