Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now Playing - "Don't drink the water if it smells funny."

Sorry for the lateness of this, I was out at the weekend and stayed over at my friend's on Sunday, so couldn't post this. Still, I don't think that it is quite apocalypse-causing material, but I like to have an order to things and stick to them. So here is what I've been playing this week.

I've been putting a lot more time into Dragon Age: Origins (360) since last time I posted on here, I got through Orzammar which was the last of the main story quests you can choose to do in an order you want. Now I'm mucking around Denerim, doing sidequests and going on with the Landsmeet part of the main quest. I got my Drakescale and Dragonscale armour! =D Really good stuff, I play it on and off, but when I do play it, it really sucks me in and gets me addicted. Its really well written, but it seems to lack a bit of polish in some places. Perhaps the combat could be better, although I imagine it would be a LOT better on the PC, where you can pause it and move to an isometric camera angle like in the Baldur's Gate games. The combat seems a bit frantic with the enemy AI clashing with your AI controlled party members, especially when choke points like a door or small rooms are involved. Still, definitely loving this game, one of my favourite 360 games that I've played so far, at least out of the RPGs. I love the detail Bioware put into the Codex in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, like this reference to Mass Effect in Dragon Age's codex: 

"Mass will have an effect," he says.

As long as it lifts us out, I figure.

Should have specified "within my lifetime."

"Gives us time to talk", he says.

"How's a dwarf get named Shepard?"

Up yer shaft.

"No really, because blah, blah, blah."

Axe answers, but I still hear him.

Drip... ground.

Drip... ground.

Worse than his talking.

Think I'll drop out for some air. 

Excerpt: Dwarven Verse in One Volume

Selection: Load Limit Reached

Anonymous scratching recovered from a cage hoist... eventually."

I had been mucking around with Etrian Odyssey (DS) in the first few floors, watching some videos and following some hints on sites to try and get ahead in this game, which I think I've got down. I've got a trick with the Chop skill on some of my secondary guild members to bring in money whenever I need it, its very slow paced and grindy this game, but enjoyable once you get a feel for the game. I've kinda put it on hold for now. I started up Golden Sun again, going through that and I'll probably come back to EO soonish so I can put more time into it and hopefully the 2nd before the 3rd in the series comes out.

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2). I had a savegame on this from a couple months back and decided to pick it up again. I got through the last couple missions of the game and finished it off in a day or two. Took me about 11 or so hours  I think, and the challenge really dropped off in the last stages of the game, which was odd. You get to go to some really cool areas though, I was thinking it was quite average for the early parts of the game, but when you get to see the scenes in Midgar and past that point in the story, it really started to grow on me, even things that bugged me like the camera, controls, ammo system, money/exp system and targetting reticule became kinda forgotten cos I had started to enjoy it more. So pretty good game, more for FFVII fans than anything else though. It still feels a bit clunky on the gameplay side though.

I played loads more of Halo 3 (360) and Halo: ODST (360) multiplayer at my friend's place, ODST has grown on me a bit since I first played it and thought a lot of things were odd about it, like the darkness and how hard it is to see things, and the noises, stamina and health system. Firefight seems a cool multiplayer game, its basically like Horde in Gears of War 2, or Nazi Zombies in CoD:WaW if I remember right. Your basic survival mode, facing up against waves of dudes. For Halo fans, there will be a Halo Reach beta coming out soon if you have the ODST disc. Wednesday this week I think it was. (Although that was just what I overheard on Xbox Live, so that might not be right)

I was aiming to get the max map completion and all the Alucard endings in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1) and managed that near the start of the week. The only thing I need to do now for 100% is get all the items and beat Richter mode which is unlocked after clearing the game I think. Actually, there are Axe Armour and another code  that I forget, but I think they are hidden extras. I might get around to some of that stuff in a few months or somethng, since I really like this game. Definitely among my favourite Castlevania games, if not my top. Really good controls compared to some of the other metroidvanias which take some steps backwards at times, as well as brilliant music and graphics for a quite old PS1 game. The inverse castle felt a bit like lazy game programming, but it was interesting to see some of the areas with a different feel. After a while, it did feel completely different. 

I've started up a new save on Golden Sun (GBA), after I originally beat the game, but lost my cartridges for both GS and the sequel GS:tLA... T_T Thats what happen when people borrow your games, seriously... So I wanted to play through Golden Sun and the 2nd, Golden Sun: The Lost Age before Golden Sun DS comes out at some point, possibly getting 100% in this one if its not too hard, as I've played it before many times, I can refer to guides if I need without spoiling stuff too much.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tesla coil music! =o

There are more on youtube. These are pretty damn awesomez! =p


Site overhaul/reworking.

I've taken the links sidebar away and I'm gonna try reworking a few things on the blog in the next few weeks. I will put a more improved links list up eventually. I might also try fiddling around with my regular(ish) column type posts:

Now Playing - this is basically where I talk each week about the games I've been playing, what I think about them etc. Posted every Sunday.

Game of the Month - I try (not very successfully)to put one of these out each month on games I think are exceptional in some regards. I might stop writing these, because I sometimes fail to initially decide on each game, and then take ages writing the things.

Anime Impressions - the newest column I've introduced, and one I will continue to work on assuming I watch enough anime. I'm really wanting to keep this one up as it brings more about anime to the blog, which I haven't talked about on here in ages.

Recent Purchases - pretty much dead, as I am trying to buy less and less games, but who knows, I'll keep my options open and not stop writing these completely. I might post some of these in the future. I'm gonna be getting a shitload of stuff around March..

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Now Playing - "Now your job is finish."

Sunday, and time for another Now Playing post. =p I kinda like having things like this set to a certain day. Makes it slightly easier to manage, and prepare in time. Anyways, enough of my thoughts. 

So this week, my Final Fantasy Challenge more or less fell to pieces. I had set out aims for the final 2 games in my head, and put them up on my Backlog page. I was aiming to beat both by the time FFXIII hits in March. So I was away last weekend at my grampa's place up north for his birthday and obviously didn't get a chance to play any more of Final Fantasy X during the weekend. Which I wasn't too bothered about, since I was right at the end stages anyway, and figured I'd only need an hour or so more to beat the game.

Final Fantasy X (Beat in the first 2 weeks of February)

Final Fantasy XII (Beat in the 2nd 2 weeks of Feb/early march)

But there was an unforeseen problem, a spanner in the works perhaps. On getting back from the weekend, I plugged onwards and got to the final save point, only to find Jecht pretty damn impossible. I've grinded a bit since then, and can get to his 2nd form, but I've given up for now. I'll come back to it, but I really don't think I'll manage to finish X and XII before March now. T_T

And its kinda putting me off playing games in general, this whole FFX thing, since I don't particularly like the game that much, and just want to finish it so I can move on to FFXII. I mean, gaming should be about enjoying games, having fun in my opinion, not having to force yourself to play them. Which is kind of the case now. I reckon I would have enjoyed the game more if I hadn't had such a harsh self-imposed time constraint on finishing it. If I had maybe taken more time and done some of the sidequests it might be easier, I guess I can always still do them. I'm still not entirely convinced if I like the game that much..the characters annoy me to the very end, as does the voice acting. Even in the final cutscenes before the boss, at such a crucial place, it seems not quite up to scratch. Check up on youtube.

 I wanted something that I know I enjoy, so where better to look than Castlevania, one of my favourite series. I recently shelled out a fair chunk of money for the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night PAL collector's edition that comes with the soundtrack and artbook (and is worth quite a bit.) So I thought I'd stick it on, I REALLY like SOTN. The first time I played it was on the PSP-the version that comes squished into the rather awesome compilation Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, which I'd definitely recommend. Since I played it then, I really liked it (in fact, I've always been a fan of the metroidvania Castlevania games) and always kind of wanted the true original version of Symphony of the Night, or Akumajō Dracula X: Gekka no Yasōkyoku​ (悪魔城ドラキュラX 月下の夜想曲, officially translated as Devil's Castle Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight. So now that I finally have it, I'm loving it! Getting to play it on a decent sized screen, with better audio output really gives it what it deserves. I dunno what they were thinking when they ported it onto the Dracula X Chronicles UMD. For some reason they put a border around it so it didn't quite fit the whole screen. Sure, you can fiddle with the settings a bit, with the option to customise the size and background image from a select few, but it probably would have been better in my opinion to maximise the usage of the PSP's decent sized handheld screen. Anyway, enough of my pedantry. The music in this game is absolutely amazing, Castlevania games are well known for their scores, and this one has a lot of my favourite songs. Michiru Yamane, who has worked on a lot of the Castlevania games, I feel really has done well with this soundtrack. She composed the majority of the songs on the OST. Seriously, I can't praise this game enough, it is both amazing visually and in terms of audio. (Perhaps with the exceptions of some of the English Voice acting, but hey, I can overlook that) Actually, now that I think about it, some of the scripting could be a bit tighter, but a lot of PSX era games had that problem, minor though it may be in my opinion. 

Whoa, I didn't mean to more or less review Symphony of the Night o.o That is an idea for the future though, if I get through the FFIX onwards reviews from my FF Challenge.

So, if you are still reading, well done! You get a cookie because I went on much longer than I wanted to. 

Other than those games, I've been trying to finish off Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS.) I managed to beat it on Saturday, after a rather scary trek through the end area. I went into the final battle massively unprepared-I hadn't saved in ages, and forgot to take a lot of the decent items out of the bag for use in battle. Somehow I managed it though, it was one of those cases when all my MP was almost out on all my characters, so if it went on much longer I wouldn't have been able to survive for much longer.

I really enjoyed the game, probably the only bit I didn't really like was marriage bit. Seems so random and forced. I could only really choose Bianca since it seemed to make more sense than the other 2 who I didn't know. Real marriage doesn't work like that though...anyway, it was pretty cool how your kids inherit the power, and surpass you and your wife. Kinda DBZish, like Goku and Gohan. Hell, Parry even looks like Gohan due to the Toriyama character designs. Awesome stuff!

I picked up my Etrian Odyssey save again today, grinded a bit and did some more quests in the 1st stratum of the labyrinth. I can tell so far that I'll like this game if the difficulty doesn't get massively out of hand. I've heard it is brutal, and I do like some challenge but when it starts to get ridiculous, it can take the fun out of games.  Oh, before I forget, I tried the Half-Minute Hero demo on PSN, its better than I expected. Its quite unique and has a good sense of humour. I'd recommend it from what I've seen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Some assorted awesomeness.

I was shown this website the other week, and there are some pretty cool lists, videos, columns and more on it. Some really funny, and some just plain awesome. Here's a couple of links for your perusal.

The only 5 characters in Bioware games. This is...strangely correct for the most part o.o

6 Adorable Cat Behaviours with shockingly evil explanations. Ever think that cats are secretly evil? Maybe you were right...

7 Man-made Substances that laugh in the face of Physics. This is just...awesome. Check out those Ferrofluids!

12 Most insane things you can buy on the Internet

Worst 10 in-game quotes. Gotta love bad scripting. "This guy are sick!"

Enjoy! ;D


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Now Playing - "Mother Ocker"

Thought I'd talk some more about the games I've been playing this week.

Throughout the week when I've been in the house I've been trying to finish off Final Fantasy X (PS2) - I think I'm getting quite near the end, since I've beaten quite a few of the endgame bosses, some of which have been kinda hard, but still probably nothing as hard as the Seymour Flux boss or whatever it was that had me stuck for a while after going up Mt. Gagazet. 

So far, I'm still a bit annoyed by the majority of the characters, even though some aspects of them are growing on me slightly. Lulu and Auron seem to be the only two I like anything about. The story has picked up since the earlier stages, and its keeping me interested. Some people really like this game, and I want to give it more of a chance. Still, there are some things I like about it. The Spheregrid still seems clunky and slow, I mean I only got 1 lvl 3 Keysphere the whole way through the game so far. Something about the slow pace of getting stat boosts annoys me sometimes...

I was away up north for the weekend so took my DS and a game or two, one of which was Dragon Quest: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS). I managed to get quite a bit further on the long drive up there. I'm now on the 3rd generation of the story, so reckon I'm within about 10 hours of the end I think, but who knows..I've not beaten it before. 

Apart from the lack of direction sometimes, I'm really liking almost everything about this game. The graphics are really nice, and the story seems pretty damn epic for such an old RPG. They really tried to infuse some emotion into the characters and the trials you go through.  The story goes through arcs of a sort, you start out as a kid, and follow your story as you grow older, get married (I didn't like that bit) and go in search for the truth behind your ancestors and the Zenithians. Its quite similar to DQIV actually, I reckon I am enjoying this way of doing the story better than the stop-start chapter driven story of IV, even though I did like that game as well.

I started up my Etrian Odyssey (DS) save as well. Man..this is one hard game. I like it so far though, pretty cool writing, character design and gameplay. I kinda like the map drawing, even though I'm not quite used to it yet. 

I might be working on a FFIX review next if I can find some time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Anime Impressions - Makai Senki Disgaea.


I thought I'd start up another column for my blog, although I don't know how frequent it will be, I wanted to talk a bit about the anime series I've been watching most recently-Makai Senki Disgaea, the Disgaea anime.

I've not been watching much anime in a while, so I can't really say much about this in relation to the other stuff that has come out in the past few months, or anything about them in general. There is a huge pile of anime I want to get through, and doubt I will get round to half of it at least (I still wanna watch Soul Eater, D.Gray-man, the new Full Metal Alchemist series and Haruhi stuff, and a lot more) I will probably try to watch more anime from now on. I used to watch a lot, and maybe this column-which I'll do whenever I want to give some impressions of the series I'm watching will encourage me to watch some more stuff. =D

So here goes, some of my impressions on the Disgaea anime, Maki Senkai Disgaea

I've just finished watching all 12 episodes and although it has some quite funny bits and some interesting episodes, there is like no story continuity between each episode (or barely any). It more or less follows the 'monster of the week' template for the most part, but it does capture a good bit of the quirkiness that the Disgaea games have. Towards the end though, it starts to get quite interesting. 

The 12 episodes follow Prince Laharl and the characters from the first Disgaea game. In fact, it quite closely resembles the story of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness/Afternoon of Darkness/Disgaea DS (different versions of the same game, the first in the series.) with some differences and changes to parts here and there. This brings me onto what I would say is one of the main flaws for this series. It really feels quite low budget, perhaps rushed. I am convinced that it suffers from being 'the anime of the game.' It is too closely based on the events of the game and feels quite recycled and low quality in places. I mentioned it was perhaps low budget...I don't know, I just get that feeling because in some places, you have bits of action sequences which are static, with sound playing over it. I've seen that before in anime, I think it is to cut corners on the budget, but I'm not sure. It also has the same music and enemies as the game, taken straight out of the game. I would have liked it if it was more loosely based on the game.

It does have some poor humour, but it does also have Prinnies! =D They are awesome! And some of the stuff Flonne and Etna do is hilarious.

One of the major dissapointments for me though, was the animation and I guess the style of it. I love the style of the Disgaea games, in terms of character design. Here are some links: 

http://www.creativeuncut.com/art_disgaea-hour-of-darkness_a.html

http://www.creativeuncut.com/art_disgaea-2-cursed-memories_a.html

This anime, however doesn't always have the unique character art that the games have, instead, it looks kinda rushed and done quickly. Perhaps even low budget in places. Not the best or most memorable character designs, even if they are based off the game characters (and the personalities have been well translated I guess)

So I'd rate it something like a 7/10. 

Its pretty good as a comedy anime which succeeds at cramming the events of Disgaea into 12 episodes, but it wouldn't really win any awards from me. Look it up if you are big fans of the series, or looking for a quick laugh from a short series. Its 12 eps and has some quite good comedy moments.

..._...::|:_:|::..._...

So what will I be watching next? Hmm... I've got a couple seasons of stuff I've still not watched. Ergo Proxy, Noein, Samurai Champloo and tonnes more. I dunno, I'll think of something and maybe write another Anime Impressions post when I get into it. It'll probably something from my DVD stack so I can watch it on the big fuckoff massive TV =D

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Now Playing - "Ridess zee Shoopuf?"



Final Fantasy X (PS2) - I started this up the other day after beating FFIX, so far I am about 14 hours or so into it. I had a bit of a preconception as to what it was going to be like. The addition of voice acting is, for some fans, signs of progress in the franchise. As the first Final Fantasy game on the PS2, it brings improved graphics and audio quality to the field.


For me so far though, the voice acting isn't anything to be too pleased about. Pretty much all the time it is terrible. Its like the voice actors don't know what the context for the script is. They take long pauses in all the wrong places, and a lot of the inflections sound off, or wrong.

And its really too linear for my liking. You don't get times when you have a bit of freedom to go looking for sidequests further afield, you don't get too explore optional stuff on a world map. Nope, doesn't seem to be any of that. FFXIII is gonna be just as linear... T_T


Oh god...and don't even get me started on Tidus or Blitzball. I'm not feelin it yet, and Tidus is an annoying little prick.

I guess I should say something good for it, since I am kinda enjoying playing the game. I'm finding it quite addictive and compelling. The story so far, and the battle system seem quite enjoyable. The battles particularly-they are quite dynamic and fast. Coming straight out of the slow ATB battle system of IX, it seems good since it flows quite well, you have some nice camera switches, good animations, and the ability to switch your party members and equipment on the fly. Each of the characters are good against certain kinds of enemies so far, like Flyers, physical resistant ones etc, so I've found myself using all of them equally. 

The spheregrid and the fact that you don't actually level up or gain stats outside of the spheregrid is quite odd, and its something I'm slowly getting used to.


Dragon Age: Origins (360) I've not played much of this since last time, but early in the week I downloaded some of the DLC. They sold it pretty well to me, going through all this story about the Soldier's Peak fortress etc, then asked if I wanted to download it. I couldnt say no after hearing all about it T_T

I beat it and the Shale DLC pretty quickly, and got some good stuff out of them. I can finally wear the Juggernaut Plate Mail I found in the Brecilian forest ages ago! =D I think I'm quite far through now, as I've beaten the Elf quest, Mage quest and Earl of Redcliffe recruiting part. Just Orzammar next and then I'll be able to move on to the next part of the story. I'm gonna put some more time into FFX though, so this'll have to wait for a bit.


I started up a new game on Friday and beat it in the same day, since I was a bit RPG'd out. Castlevania: Judgment (Wii) got some average to ok reviews and I had tried a bit of nearer Christmas. The waggle motion controls were a bit confusing, so I tried the tutorials before playing this time. I've actually been getting used to it quite nicely. I am on Easy mode (cos I suck at Fighting games, seriously), but I've been putting some time into beating it on Story mode with all the characters. Apparantely you unlock another bit of the story once you manage that. Yeah, you get True Story mode, which lets you get the true endings for each character. 

Oh, there is an option for Gamecube pad controls, which I like when they put in games as motion controls can be really frustrating in some games. I've not tried it out, as I trained so far with the Remote and Nunchuk controls, but I might plug a GC pad in if I can find one.

So far, the style is very unusual. The characters are probably the most unique thing about it, but I'll definitely say I don't particularly like some of the outfits. Graphically the game isn't amazing, but its quite polished and looks pretty good-it doesn't seem to have any bugs or glitches so far. Some of the Hyper Attacks are really cool. I'm quite liking it so far. I have a few minor gripes about it, the camera is pretty damn bad at times, it constantly moves to try and stay behind your shoulder, only it seems to cause more problems than anything. A lot of the characters seem to be quite unbalanced, with some pretty broken moves. Its kinda flawed, but I had some fun with it.

See the picture? Thats Maria Renard from Symphony of the Night, Dracula X Chronicles, Rondo of Blood and a few others. This reinvention of the characters is one thing people seem to have disliked about the game. I quite like Maria's wierd style, but a few of the others aren't particularly brilliant.

Final Fantasy XIII preview.


So this will be coming out pretty soon now, almost a month and I've been keeping an eye on people's impressions of the Japanese release. 

I've got a bad feeling it is going to be quite dissapointing, and I've been looking forward to playing it for so long, even attempting to beat my unfinished FF games so I can start this one up immediately. Sounds like heresy? Allow me to present my case.

1) It seems they are shitting over half the FF staples and mythology, like Shiva for example. OK, motorcycle-transforming twins with wheels on their heads? Who the hell thought of that? I guess some people will be thinking it is good that they are changing stuff and trying new ideas, but there is a limit to the madness, or there should be.

http://kotaku.com/5290572/shivas-lesbian-motorcycle-mode-solves-an-age+old-dilemma

http://uk.ps3.ign.com/articles/992/992315p1.html

2) Hectic looking combat. For me, I am more a fan of battle styles that I have a bit of time to think about what I am going to do. I mean, I'm not completely against action RPGs, in fact I really like some. I'll probably have to actually play it to see what I think. XII's battle system alienated people and fans of the series who preferred the turn based combat of the earlier games. I reckon if the battle system isn't top notch, people might dislike it.

3) Linearity. Urgh...I am not a big fan of linear RPGs. I like a bit of exploration, and by the sounds of it, this is just as much as, perhaps even more linear than Final Fantasy X. 

I reckon this game could have a big mainstream audience now, and perhaps a linear run of the story might help newcomers to the series or genre stick with it.

4) Healing after every battle, like Dragon Age: Origins did, you get healed fully after every battle. They did this so that the game can keep flowing, you don't get bogged down in dungeons or have to hold back on using your abilities. This can work, if the challenge of the actual battles is well balanced enough, but it could be seen as a flaw, perhaps making it too easy. We shall see. Mages and Healing classes are some of my favourite, so will this be a good thing or a bad thing?

http://www.destructoid.com/ten-things-i-didn-t-love-about-final-fantasy-xiii-162684.phtml

Conversely, the author did a post on the things they did like about the game. So perhaps there is hope.

http://www.destructoid.com/ten-things-i-loved-about-final-fantasy-xiii-162457.phtml

Some stuff on the reviews it has seen:

Famitsu

I really can't believe there was so much 'controversy' over a 39/40

RPGfan

http://ps3.nowgamer.com/reviews/ps3/8864/final-fantasy-xiii

Official Playstation Magazine(to be honest, they don't know what they are talking about. FFX-2 is not the first PS2 FF)

My thoughts, I'm going to make up my own mind when I play it. And OPM, remind me never to buy that magazine.

I've preordered my copy for the PS3, so I'm looking forward to playing it in March. I'll need to actually get a PS3 for it...March is gonna be expensive.