Monday, August 30, 2010

Now Playing - "Its time to churn!"

Ok, I would have posted this yesterday but I ended up going out for drinks with some friends. We went to Hive which had a metal/rock/punk kind of night on. I don't think I've been on Sunday before, can't really remember. It was pretty dead and I only had limited money to spend on stuff. Drinks were £1 each though, so not too bad a night. 

Looks like we won't be playing Super Street Fighter IV at Daves for a while, Aaron got annoyed, chucked the controller across the room only for it to land on the xbox and dislodge the disc and scratch it to fuck. Joe got so pissed off...

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked..

I was aiming to finish off Ys Seven (PSP) story last week (Sun-Sun) and did so, its a fairly short game for an RPG, and seemed to have to drag itself out a little bit,  but its an enjoyable game. It was a good positive introduction to the series for me I thought. It has really frantic fast paced button mashy combat which is pretty fun. Its on the verge of being an action game as opposed to an RPG if you look at some aspects of it, like combat. 

Omg...blogger signed me out so I lost half of what I was going to say..

Well, I had some fun with the game even though the story is pretty generic and predictable. One or two twists in there keep it interesting though. Some of the cutscenes and fact that you have to go to dungeon after dungeon getting each of the shrines unsealed and then the sanctums one after the other-I didn't especially like that slightly lazy game design. Still, its a pretty cool introduction to the Ys series, at least for me. I'll probably pick some more titles up when Xseed localises them, or I might track down the existing game on the ps2/psp. I think thats about it that we got over in europe, but not sure.

I only picked up a PS3 relatively recently so I am playing catch up on a lot of the big exclusive titles, and at least for fans of the RPG genre, this is one of them. It has its cult following, but a lot of things about it will probably not appeal to the mainstream market, but I am going to try and recommend it to as many people as I can. So what game am I talking about? Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) - I started this up the other day and I've been enjoying it apart from some ridiculous frustrating battles. There are some gameplay balance issues which means you can either abuse them or see the enemy do the same (occassionally, depending on what units the AI has and whether they use them right.) 

It has absolutely gorgeous cel-shaded presentation, I'm really liking that side of it. The character designs and the way everything looks, sound effects popping up like in a comic, textures, effects, backgrounds, environments, graphically I can't fault it. In fact so far I'm finding this game hard to fault. Perhaps difficulty might put some people off, for me I haven't minded too much yet. I kept going on a sort of trial and error basis, slowly learning from my mistakes on where to position, what troops to use, etc. Some of the controls for actually positioning where you want to go don't feel as tight as they could be perhaps though.

Still, I'm definitely liking this game so far. I'm aiming to finish it by Friday, but I seriously doubt that I'll make that. I won't have as much time to play it during the weekend as my friends are coming over if everything goes to plan, and we are going to do stuff from Friday to Monday. Shortly after that I'll be off to uni... *nervous* 

The sequel(second in series, I'm not sure if it is a prequel/sequel) is actually coming out fairly soon for the psp. In fact, a lot of trailers are up, along with a demo on psn at the moment. That didn't really factor into it when I chose to play it, but it makes sense as I wanted to see what all the fuss is about for this game, and as a big srpg/trpg fan(listen to RPGcast#142 and Active Time Babble#21 and you'll understand this pointless semantic differentiation-imo they are one and the same.) I wanted to experience this before I go back to uni and might not have access to my ps3. 

There are some trailers for you to see what I mean, and one about the sequel if you are interested. I've not watched more than the first second or two of the 2nd one as I don't want to spoil it, but I think its the recent English trailer, its from Machinima.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I had to go for my check up and appointment with the dentist and hygienist on Friday. I've known for a few months or so that I would need to get 1 or 2 of my Wisdom teeth out as they were growing in at the wrong angle and would cause pressure on my other teeth. So I had to get 1 taken out on Friday. Its sore, and a strange pain...kind of comes and goes in dull waves. I don't like it... T_T

And I still need to get the other top one out next time I go fair! 

I put some time into Ys on the Friday as I had most of the day on trains getting to and from my dentists, so I'll probably hit my aim of finishing the story by Sunday. I'll post some impressions in Sunday's Now Playing post.

Anyway, I need to catch up on sleep now. ~o~ *ZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Yay! I got into the course at uni I had applied for! My appeal must have gone through successfully =D

After all that stress, emailing, phonecalling, finding certificates, jumping through hoops it paid off! Good times! So I'll start work on my 2nd degree on the 13th of September I believe. I'll have less free time from then on, but I'm back on track again at least. =)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies Review

I thought I'd try get back into reviewing games as I've not done any since I was involved in my Final Fantasy marathon, of sorts. I'm always looking to improve on my review writing though, I tend to go on about things a bit uneccessarily, in terms of length. Plus the rating system is something I've always struggled with. Currently, I'm using a rating out of 10 points (10=top), with individual ratings for certain categories ie. Graphics, Gameplay and a few others, you'll see which ones over the course of this review. (If you read it)

So, first a little about my experience of the series and some background. I'm a fan of the Dragon Quest series, I have been for a few years since I initially played Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (one of the spin off titles) many years ago. I actually picked up a copy of the first Dragon Warrior Monsters when one of my good friends randomly sent it out to me in along with a lot of other stuff, but thats another story. I've played DQIV and V on the DS (the recent remakes) and really enjoyed them. I'm definitely looking forward to picking up the last of those 3 games when it is released eventually. Dragon Quest VI will be remade for the DS at some point soon, I'm hoping. I still need to get around to playing Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2, I've heard a lot of good things about it, plus based on what I've liked about the series, I might pick up some of the older games at some point if I can find them. So how does this one rank in terms of an entry point to the series? Well, in short, I think it is a fairly good entry point. Similar to Final Fantasy, there isn't any overarching story between the games, so  you don't have to worry about not having played I through VIII before this. Secondly, this one has many of the core aspects fans of the series enjoy, but mixes things up slightly as well, and has some features that will keep people interested, such as the job system, side quests etc. Lastly, this one is not a massively long game, and has a good difficulty balance-it isn't overly grindy or hard so newcomers will not necessarily be turned off. By no means do I believe I am an expert on the series, so hopefully that is clear and hopefully that viewpoint will resonate with some of you out there in reading this review-maybe some of you are in similar situations having played a few of the games and enjoyed them.


Ok, starting with the gameplay. This is one area in which the games are very similar it seems. The fans love the games because of the traditional feel to them-from what I've heard they haven't deviated much from the original games in terms of the battle system, lengthy dialogue explaining things, menus and many other things. So its clear that you have to be ok with the relatively (some might say) archaic gameplay mechanics in order to enjoy these games. Personally, I am fine with this. I don't want to over-generalise, but many jrpgs and some western rpgs still reuse a lot of the unique features that were seen years ago in the genre. Anyway, I am going off on a tangent. 
So where to start? The battle system perhaps. The battle system in this is pretty standard stuff. It has the same commands as some of the other games in the series; you can set up tactics and lineup in the middle of battles (but it isn't that important, I didn't use those once the whole game.) You have standard attacks, spells, abilities, as well as Coup de Grace attacks (basically limit break type attacks depending on the vocation your character has.) So there is quite a lot of depth to the battle system, mainly coming from the different attacks and abilities each enemy has, and the ones your party has access to. It is quite a traditional turn based battle system, basically the same as IV and V although they do make this one look a lot better. The enemies move and the backgrounds are fairly nice but nothing groundbreaking. I do like that when you've selected your moves, the characters and enemies move around the battlefield in order to launch their attacks. It reminded me of FFXIII. Its kind of unneccessary but makes it more interesting to look at. One thing that was absent from this game was the monster recruiting seen in other games in the series. It added a lot in my opinion and would have liked it if this one had that feature. Although there is plenty more to make up for the lack of that. 

There is a lot of optional content to partake in. There are 184 sidequests, including the ones that have to be unlocked via wi-fi. These range from simple fetch quests, item quests and alchemy quests to very challenging combat related accomplishments which might unlock one of the 12(?) vocations and quests involving grottoes, which are pretty challenging postgame dungeons. I'll mention quickly that there is a lot to do after the main story. You'll definitely get your money's worth with this game. Other than the quests, there is the Wardrobe and Item List, the Alchemy list (I can't spell it off the top of my head) and Accolades, which are essentially titles given when you reach certain milestones ie. 1000 battles or progress in your main character's skill tree. Some might not really be that bothered about the accolades, but I think they could be fun to get, and definitely add to the list of things to do, at least for some people.

Traditional stuff: Saving in churches, still there of course, although the quicksave is there and is a welcome addition for a portable game. I used it a few times when I had to get off the bus or whatever. You still need to go to a churce to find out how much exp you need to level up, but there is a spell to make up for that. Thats a minor addition, but it does show that they were trying to move away from some of the pointlessly annoying mechanics. Which brings me to the next point, there are no random encounters in this game, instead, you've got monsters appearing on the world map or dungeon you are in, similar to a lot of games now ie. Tales of Symphonia. If you touch the enemies, you then get drawn into one of the turn based battles. This might have annoyed purists and it can be annoying when you are trying to farm certain enemies such as Metal Slimes, but it does help in places for example when you have to backtrack or run a large distance across the map. Personally, I'd probably rather have the random battles, but its not to say I don't like this system. I enjoyed this as a slight departure from the standard of the series.

I've been going on about the gameplay for about 3 years now, so I'll quickly run over the last few things. There is a strong multiplayer aspect to this game, you can do co-op multiplayer via a local network ie. you need to be in ds-ds close range. But what happens is your friends replace any of your 3 'NPC' characters, well NPC isnt right..I mean they replace any of the characters in your party who are not your main character. I think they get boosted experience while doing this, so that is something I haven't tried but could be fun. You can also do multiplayer things with Treasure Maps and other stuff. In some ways, the game seems intended for this multiplayer, which of course would have had a better chance of taking off in Japan with the serie's success there. Perhaps the game would have benefited from wi-fi multiplayer available from the start, and the Japanese release. So does the game feel weaker as a result of this multiplayer aspect? I don't think so. It doesn't feel essential, but it feels like it could be very seamless and easy to set up. I'd have to experience it to say more though.

Gameplay: 9/10


Story and Characters

The story in Dragon Quest IX started out full of promise for me. The story starts out in the Observatory, a stronghold in the sky inhabited by the Celestrians, a winged guardian angel race essentially. Your character (which you can customise in a fairly deep creator) basically has to protect and help out the mortals in the realm of the Protectorate below, in order to gather crystallised Benevolessence (yeah, some stupid names in this game.)  The story takes a bit of a twist and you are forced to gather up Fyggs. This takes the form of mini stories involving different towns, and usually a dungeon and boss to solve a major plot quest. I felt this stop start story telling went on a bit too long, you have to gather up 7 Fyggs from what I remember, and meanwhile the main story is essentially put on hold. It leaves a lot of things to the end, in which it picks up a bit, but I was still feeling a bit confused when I first learned of the character who was to be the end boss. The story could have been handled better, but I did enjoy it when it worked. The characters in this game are another area in which the game could have been a lot stronger. The main character and the Celestrians are fairly interesting, we see them at the start and through various points in the story, but perhaps not enough is shown of Apus Major and the other ones. I would have liked more cutscenes interspersed throughout the game, especially during the Fygg collecting bit of the story. Stella, the fairy that joins you throughout your quest is actually quite funny and a good addition. My main gripe about the characters is that the 3 other party members do not talk or have any personality. This is due to the fact that they easily swap out in the event of co-op multiplayer. They are also randomly generated using the character creator. Although you can make your own if you are not happy, you could end up with some bizarre looking silent party members. To be honest, I didn't mind the fact that they didn't have any dialogue. A lot of RPGs are similar in that respect, plus I like the fact that you have a lot of customisation options, in terms of appearance and vocation for your party.

Story and Characters: 7/10



For a DS game, Dragon Quest IX actually looks pretty good. While its obviously not up to the level of Dragon Quest VIII, a PS2 game, textures and colours look pretty good. It seems it is in the same direction as VIII, a semi-cel shaded look for this one. They had the same developers on board for this one and it does show. Things are outlined in black and look quite bold and vibrant. There is a lot of detail put into the important characters and the polygonal stuff never looks too rough or pixelated (not obtrusively so, at least.) 

The graphics in battle look really good compared to the remakes of IV and V. Everything is smooth: the enemies and your character's models are very well done, and move around the battlefield without any technical issues. The font and numbers in battle, for displaying damage etc are clear, easy to read and link in with the sound effects very well. 

The monsters, many of which are staples of the series are well animated and well rendered, especially in the overworld and dungeons. As for cutscenes, they look very nice in this game, with a sketchy, watered down colour look to them. They look good in my opinion and don't seem to tax the DS hardware that much. Take a look at this video and see what I mean. Of course, a bit is lost in quality in the transition to youtube, but you'll at least understand what I mean by the style.

So, it has a nice graphical style throughout, the only real flaw I can note is that there is slowdown in places on the overworld and towns. This only seems to happen occasionally when you have a full party of 4 and there is a lot going on in the area. Its isn't crippling, just a very minor slowdown of things. It might annoy some people, but it is on the verge of unnoticeable. Very good looking game in terms of a DS title. You can tell it was developed with the DS in mind.

Graphics: 8.5/10



I was speaking about the combo system in battle earlier. Think of it as a Zelda: Wind Waker style combo system linked with the sound effects. If your characters hit an enemy in close succession, you will get a boost in damage, 1.2x and so on, indicated by a sound effect. This was a nice addition and the sound here is integrated very well. 

Overall, the audio quality is good for a DS game, but many of the actual tracks weren't that memorable. They do fit in with the tone of a lot of the scenes though. I feel they won't be given much credit, as they don't jump out and scream in your face, if you know what I mean. Instead, they are well orchestrated pieces of music by the series composer Koichi Sugiyama. The tone of the story in many places is actually quite dark and sad and some of these pieces fit quite well with the melancholy mood. Some songs are nice and light though as well, like the Tavern song. The battle theme is fairly average, but it works. Its the "I Won't Lose" video below. 

Audio: 7/10


So overall, I do recommend this game-I had a lot of fun with it and I intend to go back and do more of the postgame optional stuff at some point. The game isn't perfect, but I think its nearly right up there amongst my favourite DS games, despite its few flaws. So if you are one of the people who haven't picked this up and are interested in it, go out and get it. I hope you'll enjoy it. If you weren't interested in this to begin with and managed to read all the way to here, well, thank you! =D I hope I've sold you on this game, which as with all Dragon Quest games, has a lot of charm. There is something about them that always draws me in. This is a solid title, and comes recommended.

Overall: 8/10


Information on the game:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Upcoming Review Schedule.

Woot! I'm writing some reviews again! I must have too much time on my hands. They are kinda like ninjas on this site, seldom seen...and..they have throwing stars..(gimme a break, I had to make that awesome pic relevant XD) I don't know if you guys care about reviews much, hopefully you do. Feel free to leave me feedback though, as I'm always happy to take criticism on board if it can help me improve in the future, and review writing is something I quite enjoy (if I can find the time to do a good job on them.)

Anyway, these are planned-expect them in the next few weeks, probably in this order:

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ Wed 25th August

Sakura Wars: So Long My Love (Wii) ~ Wed/Thurs 1st or 2nd September

Demon's Souls (PS3) ~ ???

Ys Seven (PSP) ~ possibly, when I finish it. I am aiming to finish the game this week.

If by some miracle I get through them, I might do some more, I'm sure there are games I finished and had wanted to review but never got around to it. I can't exactly remember what ones though..

RPG heavy...thats all I play apparantely XD

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Now Playing - "The end of all things begins!"

I finished off a couple games this week and played little bits here and there of others when I wasn't watching football or TV. I haven't put much time into the games I am currently playing, so I've just got early impressions on them so far. Other than that, I'm a bit worried about my laptop-its been locking up and displaying an error message on startup occasionally. I don't know what it was going on about though...might take it to the computer shop if my friends in computing don't know what is up with it. I don't have a huge amount of stuff saved on it, but I'd rather not do a system restore..I don't like the idea of having to start from scratch. Plus last time we did system restore, it was on my ex-girlfriend's computer and that didn't help much, in fact it caused more problems in places. Damn computers...why do they randomly stop working at times...

Anyway, I'm running out of time just now, so I'll turn my attention to the games I've been playing this week. I'm going out to my friend's place today (in fact I was supposed to be there already.)

I finished up Demon's Souls (PS3) eventually, I was having problems with the False King battle-some of his attacks are really damn strong, plus I hate that he can drain your soul levels. He did that a few times and knocked one of my Spell memory slots off, taking with it Soul Ray, a pretty good spell I wanted to use in the final battle. Speaking of which, the final battle is a joke, I don't see how it can get anywhere near even attacking you if you have spells. For a mage, it seems very easy. But that doesn't bug me really, to make up for it there was a hard fight at the end of 1-4, the one I was talking about previously. Its a very hard game in places, so I can see why people might be put off initially. You really need to be patient with it to get through some of the stages. But once you get used to your character and understand the attack patterns the enemies have, where they spawn, the traps and all the other stuff, it is manageable. And it is very rewarding when you get through the bit you were having problems with. 

Such an atmospheric game as well, it has quite a dark feel to the world and it is pretty disturbing and creepy in places, which I really appreciate. It breathes life into an RPG which is a bit light on the story. 

One other potential flaw I could say it has would be the camera and controls. They can be unwieldy at times and contributed to my death on more than one occasion. Its damn frustrating to get a boss nearly dead, then get backed up against a wall, roll away to dodge and have the camera spinning out of control so you end up walking or rolling into the bosses attack. The lock on feature, while it is pretty much essential for some forms of attack (spells, for example), can also lead to some camera annoyances.

It has some pretty nice music as well, it's never really too jarring and it seems to fit the scenes it is assigned to, even if it is over the top at times. I think it adds to the tense nature of some of the battles, some of which really get you on edge. They leave you shaking from the adrenaline rush. Well, they did for me, I can't take stress very well, but I liked the rush it gave me. Here's one of the songs from 5-3. 

Other than the few minor flaws it might have, this is a brilliant game, probably one of the best action RPGs I've played, definitely up there among my favourites from this year. (We just got the EU release a month or two ago T_T)

I finished up Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) as well, at least the main story. There is a lot more to do for me, but I've been a bit frustrated postgame, as I don't know what quests to do first, or where to go for the easiest grottoes. I got wiped out by a single normal enemy at one point. So after that, its been neglected a bit. I might go back to this some day and try and fill out the bestiary, do more quests etc. I really enjoyed the game though, it has some very nice graphics and a fairly good story. It is a bit fragmented, and slows down in the middle, where you have to go around doing mini-vignette type stories which involve a lot of talking, a dungeon and a boss at the very least. Some of them I found enjoyable, whereas others (like the Swinedimples Academy one) weren't quite up to scratch. 

As a Dragon Quest game, I can't really tell how it compares to some of the others, its slightly different from say IV and V, but has the same sense of humour and quirkyness, the same life they have tried to inject it with by giving certain townspeople accents to try and differentiate them. One thing I liked about it was the vocations, similar to FFIII or other RPGs with class systems, you can chop and change the classes of your characters when you wish. (Not at any time, you have to go back to a certain area to do so.) That adds a lot of replayability and will make different people's playthroughs go differently depending on what they choose. I like that in RPGs-there should always be some scope to do things differently in my opinion. FFXIII was a recent offender in that area. It puts you into a tunnel for 20 or 30 hours so there really is no chance to do things differently until you get to Pulse later in the game. RPGs should have lots of things to do, they shouldn't be as streamlined as that I reckon. It was a bit of a step back for the series and I seriously hope they change things back for their next games.

I had my eye on Eternal Poison (PS2) ever since it was announced for US release, and sadly it never found its way over to Europe or other PAL regions. I'm a big fan of tactical RPGs and this one had a really nice dark tone and style to it from what I had seen. So now that I can play NTSC games on the PS2, I picked this one up. I've not put in much time so far, but I am appreciating some of the character designs (the artbook it came with is fantastic, by the way) and the story seems interesting so far. Its kinda strange that it is going to be a large dungeon with many floors though, that is more of a dungeon-crawler RPG convention. And apparantely grinding is not possible in this game! ;_; Oh well, I can enjoy other aspects, like collecting all the Majin I can, for one thing. I'll have to play more of this in order to recommend it or otherwise.

Ys Seven (PSP) This game arrived only a few days after the US release! I had been waiting on this game being released for a while now, definitely interested in it all the way, despite never having played an Ys game, so I've put a couple hours in so far and I have been fairly impressed by the battle system which is nice and fast paced and doesn't have that disconnect of the enemies appearing on the world map, or random encounters and then the transition into battle, it is all seamless. You hack away at the enemies as they appear and they shower money and items on their deaths. It is very kind of a zelda game or something similar. 

As my first experience of an Ys game, I am fairly happy so far. There are some things that seem odd, like the super silent protagonist, Adol. Its like they go out of their way to make him say nothing, for example, a message will come up saying "Adol thanks the King" or whatever. They could have done the same with less lines of dialogue by making him just say "Thanks" or something similar. The inventory screen will take some getting used to for me, but so far I'm not even far enough in to have many items heheh.. XD

Its got really cool music and some quite nice character designs, as with many Falcom games. Here is the opening to the game. 

I played a little bit more of Diablo II (PC), continuing my Elemental druid playthrough I started a couple months ago. I was determined to get through Act I, as I think it is the most boring of the five for me, as I've seen it so many times. That's due to me having played so many different characters so many times in this game though. I put in a few more hours of this, and got past Andariel (the final Act I boss) really easily. Seriously, she fell faster than any other character I've used from what I can remember. Some of the Druid's Fire spells are pretty powerful from the looks of it. Don't think I've died once so far. I put this back on hold though, in an effort to finish off Demon's Souls and DQIX. While waiting for Ys and Eternal Poison to arrive, I put in a few more games of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) multiplayer. The cover system still isn't perfect, but I'm surprised by how good the multiplayer for this is. It does have flaws though, it seems if there aren't people online for an optimal game, it will throw you in with whoever is on, even if means guys at the max level. It does try to balance the teams out though. I suck at this, but I'm up to lv22 online now. It was pretty satisfying to bring a game or two back for our team, coming back from behind to win. I seem to start really poorly, but improve as each game goes on.

I couldn't find many decent pictures for this post T_T Maybe next time...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gaems..dunno what to play =/

Ok, so I finished up Dragon Quest IX and Demon's Souls and now I don't know exactly what to play next. Ys Seven and Eternal Poison will be here soon, so I've left out the psp from this random selection in an effort to decide what to play next. I've taken 3 Fortune Cookie Picks from Backloggery, from the following unfinished games on these consoles: PS3, PS2, PS1, DS, GBA, PC. Basically what it does is take a random game and suggest it to you, apparantely it is always right. ¬_¬

#1 Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone (GBA) ~ Hmm, I've tried the start of this game and liked Riviera, which was the first game in the Dept. Heaven series. Might give this a shot, as many people go on about how good this is. Its a tactical RPG with quite a unique flavour to it, as with many Sting games.
#2 Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard (DS) ~ I can't play this yet, not finished the first game and probably will not for a while. Its a hardcore dungeon crawler, with a really cool old school feel in places. Some people say it was a step back from the first, others say it improved upon things slightly. I'm enjoying the first game, getting through it slowly. I'm a bit worried about the fact that your quest log can only have a maximum amount of ongoing quests in this one though. I don't want to have to play with a walkthrough so I don't screw myself over. I'm not using one for the first game and I'm doing ok.  Its rewarding when you progress down a floor or level up enough to take on the enemies or FOEs, but I can tell the first stratum boss is gonna kick seven shades of shit outta me.. -_-
#3 Vagrant Story (PS1) ~ Another highly regarded game which I've not finished. I tried to play this a few months ago when I joined up with the RPG-a-thon on backlog but got frustrated with it and quit. Some of the things about it haven't aged well and pissed me off (camera for one). I ended up getting disorientated and lost. I really should put some more time into this and see where the story goes. Its supposed to be a very good action RPG from the ps1 era. I played it for around 2 or 3 hours last time I played, and I think I was nearly used to the gameplay mechanics. There was one I can vaguely remember that pissed me off slightly, and it was something to do with accuracy in combat, the Risk element...I think. It just seemed unessecary (I can't spell..)

So which one am I gonna play outta these? I'm not too sure. Think I'll put Vagrant Story in for another blast. The story is supposed to be really good. If it annoys me I'll play some Uncharted 2 multiplayer or do some DQIX postgame. I'll probably end up playing Ys Seven when it arrives though.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Games on my Radar #6

I've got a couple games with relatively stupid names I'm going to talk about today. Lets hope the games are better than the names. Rhyming...

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC/PS3/360) 

I've not seen an awful lot on this game yet, there is only one trailer out and a few pieces of art from what I can tell. It will either be brilliant or really dissapointing. I mean, they've got such good pedigree on the team (is that the right word?) - R.A. Salvatore is designing the world, Todd McFarlane is designing the characters and controlling art direction and they've got Ken Rolston from the Elder Scrolls III and IV overseeing stuff. They have promised a high fantasy western action rpg and I hope they deliver. I have to say, I'm not a big fan of Todd McFarlane's western comic stuff like Spawn and I hope that his stuff doesn't ruin the game, or indeed that any of the other people on board do. If it all comes together, this one could be good. I don't think it will be out for ages, but I'm liking the fact that we are getting more western RPGs. I really enjoyed Dragon Age, at times it was a bit bland, but I had a lot of fun with it. If this is anywhere near it's level, I'll be happy. I'm looking forward to this one, but I'm slightly sceptical as well.

Links: Official Site / Games Radar

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP) Lettuce.. wha? o.o Stupid name...

I've never actually played any of these Tactics Ogre games, but I've heard a lot of good things from people on podcasts, youtube videos and various sites. So this one is a remake of the SNES game and it is being handled by the same team that did the Final Fantasy Tactics 'remake' for the PSP, which was really good I thought. I didn't get bugged by the lagging animations or other technical flaws in that game. Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to this one most out of these three games. I love strategy RPGs and this series is one I've not had the chance to try yet. I'm hoping for a deep, customisable game with a good story. From what I've heard, I'll get it from this game. I'll need to look into this series more as the release date draws nearer.

Links: 1UP / RPGamer / IGN / Siliconera / RPGFan / RPGamer

Hunted: The Demon's Forge (PC/PS3/360)

From the developers of The Bard's Tale and published by Bethesda, this will be a 3rd person action RPG with co-op multiplayer. I don't know very much about The Bard's Tale, but I think it had its fans. Regardless, I like the look of this trailer. I do like multiplayer in RPGs, if it is done well. Borderlands for example, looked like it did it fairly seamlessly. I mean, it had its flaws, glitches everywhere for example, and it might not even be much of an RPG depending on your opinion, but hopefully this Hunted game can have something in the same vein. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Football season starts up!

So its the first weekend of the new football season and I'm satisfied so far. No particularly brilliant games in the SPL or the Barclays Premier League, but my team won their game.

I was most impressed with Blackpool in the Premier League. They were favourites to get relegated from the premiership last year and they got promoted to the top division and won their opening game 4-0. So I thought that was a good opening day result for them, but then again, the Premier League is one of the top football leagues in the world. Burnley had a good start to their season last year and  got relegated after a drop in standards.

Match of the Day 2 is back, but without Adrian Chiles..who did they get to replace him? Colin Murray from Channel 5 or Itv4 or whatever crappy channel he had been on before. I don't have anything against him, just don't like the coverage the channels he has been on has been like... (that makes little to no sense)

And seriously guys, the new MotD2 opening? And where did 2 good 2 bad go? That was awesome! =( Its still not very serious the programme, but something about it doesnt seem as good..they are a bit more obssessed over games from the past, clear from the opening and one or two of the videos they showed.

I looked for a video of the new opening, but its a combination of the show only having been on today and a lack of people uploading the openings I think. No luck. Probably a good thing. So heres a video of a 2 good 2 bad from MotD2, damn you bbc/Colin Murray... *shakes fist*

Now Playing - "The Almighty is coming in my ear"

Hahaha, whenever I'm playing a Dragon Quest game I find it really easy to get quotes for this column's titles. Such awesomely scripted games.

Well, that gives you an idea of what I've been playing this past week. If you've been frequenting any RPG related sites recently, most people are playing Dragon Quest IX, or at least they were. I'm still playing through it though, as I had to wait till a bit after the EU release to get it.

Dragon Quest IX (DS) - I think I'm fairly far through this now but I'm not too sure. I've put over 40 hours in so far and I'm still enjoying it. I'm trying to fill the Monster Compendium to 100% as I go along, and doing as much collecting of items, alchemy and quests as I can, so its taking time to get through the story. I will probably try and go for 100% completion at some point though, depending on how long that will take and if I can do it without DQVC and multiplayer assistance. I have been going on the VC to 'download' quests and buy items, its pretty cool for getting rare stuff but I usually find my money dissapearing quickly... hehe

Anyway, if you are still on the fence about this game, lemme give you some info. Graphically, it has not dissapointed me in the slightest. Some people don't like DS 3D polygonal graphics, but this looks a lot better than say, FFIII DS for example. It has a kinda cel-shaded look slightly. Most things are outlined in black and have quite nice colours, its not muddy looking at all. The style reminds me of DQVIII actually. Which makes sense as Level 5 were on board for this one as well. I really like some of the aspects, for example how every piece of gear shows up on your character models.

Content wise, man there is absolutely tonnes. If you want to do everything possible, I'm just guessing but I reckon it would take a good 60-100hrs, probably more for all the grinding of vocations and skills. I think I talked about this last time, but it is really well set out, you have the Battle Record which tells you of your percentage completion of each thing as you go along. There are Quests, around 184 or so including the ones from the DQVC which you need to connect to the net to get. The stuff is actually on the cart already, it just needs to be unlocked when they decide to give it to us. They are getting through them quickly though, which is good I guess. Some of the quests are your basic fetch quests, but some are actually kind of tough, like the ones to unlock the advanced vocations. For example, one of them wants you to set up a Wizard Ward spell and then kill 2 Metal Slimes with the caster of the Ward. Metal Slimes are fairly hard to kill as they are rare in the first dungeon you find them in, and then they thend to like to Flee from battle. That quest took a while, but there are even harder ones than that. It'll definitely keep me occupied for a while, this game.

The story is dragging a bit in the middle, but for the most part I've enjoyed it. I'm at a point where you have to basically go around the world collecting the Fyggs from the Yggdrasil Tree or whatever. So its a bit disjointed, but the little vignettes do interest me, they are pretty melancholy and dark at times. People die, and there is nothing you can do about it. People learn from their mistakes and supposedly become better people from their trials etc. I was really impressed with the opening of the game though, but they stripped us of our power and made us go on a journey in typical DQ style in which the character supposedly learns and discovers themselves.

Demon's Souls (PS3) - Other than DQIX, I've been putting a lot of time into this, mostly grinding and working on getting good gear and slowly progressing with the 'storyline.' I guess critics of the game might say it doesnt have much of a storyline, but to be honest..I don't mind that much. I'm usually all about story in RPGs, but dungeon crawlers can get away without if they have good gameplay or atmosphere, both of which this has checked. 

Its so tense in places, I actually found myself shaking slightly and getting a real rush out of it. Tower of Latria scared the crap outta me the first time round. After I grinded up in 4-2 and came back to it, I could more or less oneshot everything so I had less to worry about, but still got creeped out by some of the stuff. Shrine of Storms, as well. I really liked those stages. 4-2... I actually found really hard with those beam shooting respawning guys who are basically invisible. Took me ages to get through that one even after grinding to SL65 or 70. I was really liking the atmosphere of those stages, the 3rd one with the Archdemon was damn cool. Slicing through the heavens with that sword kicked ass... *makes slashing motion and noise*

I've kind of got Demon's Souls on hold for a while now. I've only got a few of the stages left before the end game, plus my brother has the disc at the moment. To be honest, I'm kind of procrastinating..I just don't want to go through that horrible swamp in the Valley of Defilement... *shudders* Its so dark and nasty and those big Depraved Goblin dudes scare the shit out've me... T_T

I want to get all of the spells for my character, but that will take at least another 1 or 2 playthroughs to get the needed Demons souls and give them to Yuria or Freke. If I do decide to try and plat this, it will take a couple playthroughs, but I think that is normal for most people...dont think its possible to get it all on one go.

So apart from those games, I've not been playing much else this week. Depending on when Eternal Poison arrives, I'll start that up. Kindof dark toned Strategy RPG, so basically two things I love.

Hmm, or if not, I'll try another PS2 game, possibly Ico or Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. Anyway, those are for another time. I've rambled enough. Eternal Poison still ain't here... T_T I ordered Ys 7 for the psp the other night, so once it releases tomorrow (I think) it'll ship, well..I hope. But I imagine it'll have to ship to the UK seller first and then on to me. Might take a while...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My top RPG time-stealers

Thought I'd do a post on some of the games that have stolen the most of my time over the years. I got the idea from some guy's list on backloggery after browsing through people's pages. Here's mine. I like RPGs and games to give me a lot of content and a lot of replayability. These days I don't replay games as much as I used to, but I still occasionally go back to older games I like, or ones I have lots to do in and just try and have some fun with them. Hopefully this list can give you guys some ideas of games that will give you lots to do.

I like the idea of doing lists, but I am a really indecisive guy, so this seems like a good starting point as there is little actual deciding on this top 5. The only rule I'll make for this is that there will be a max of 1 game per series. Otherwise this list would be seriously that way I can get an actual numbered countdown. I'll still talk about some of the other ones in the series that I played to death. Its kinda not a Top 5 per se, but whatever. I'll talk a bit about each one and some of the others in each series. Hopefully you will enjoy hearing about my obsessive gaming habits of the past...I swear...some of these games were so awesome.

I'll list the platform the game is (and where applicable, the one I played on) and my play time in brackets... *eesh* here goes..

1. Pokemon Emerald (GBA) (559 hrs 28) Man....this gaem stole so much of my time. First of all, I tried to get the entire dex filled in, and I got pretty far actually, surprisingly so for not having many other people to trade with. (I had a handful, but the biggest help was from having 2 GBAs and multiple games to get pokes from). My current dex completion is 381/386. I say current, but its not like I still play this game any more. It was at this point that I was starting to get into the 'competitive' game. You'll know what I mean if you've ever dabbled in that scene. Its all about breeding and training up the pokemon so that their stats mean that they can outrun and outpunch other ones that don't necessarily have as high IVs (Individual values that vary from pokemon to pokemon, but can be passed on by breeding) It is very time consuming, but once you get a decent egg pokemon (having rare candied it to lv100 to check IVs, and reset) you can begin the EV training. Yet more time-sinking. And after that comes the grinding to lv100. Another brilliant thing about this game was the cloning glitch, which was invaluable to my completing the dex in Diamond. Cloning items and legendaries and pal-parking em over really helped me get stuff to trade over wi-fi. We had a lot of fun with these games, me and my friends..but now I've kinda become a bit burnt out on pokemon games, having played them fairly religiously up to Platinum. Other games in the series I played look like this in terms of hours: Pokemon Diamond (390 hrs 06)-But I finished the pokedex completely =D, Pokemon Leaf Green (382 hrs) and Pokemon Silver (328 hrs 19). My favourite pokemon game is probably a tossup between Silver and Emerald.

Edit 11/8/10: So I did go along to that tournament I was talking about earlier. I ended up winning, in fact not losing a single game. I felt quite bad though, it was a lot of kids, not all of whom had lv100s. Prize was a set of sealed Pokemon The First Movie and Pikachu's Vacation comics signed by the Brock and Meowth voice actors from back inthe original series. Man, those comics took me back. I went to see the first movie in the cinema if I remember rightly... XD

2. Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP) (151 hrs 43) Technically not #2, but I don't wanna talk about Pokemon too much in this list...*shudders* Similar to FFXIII, I am strangely compelled by this game despite it's flaws and the fact I despise it at times. I was really looking forward to this before it launched. Like, seriously looking forward to it. So when it arrived, I was seriously addicted for a good while until I finished it. I still haven't got good at the game, I'm sucky at the timing of blocking, dodging and attacking. There is so much depth to this game, but I am still really dissapointed with it. For a game I claim to hate at times, I sure have played it a lot. Theres so much, perhaps too much to do for completionists...I guess I got my money's worth though. My file looks like this currently: Accomplishments 72%, Catalogue 97%, Battlegen 79%, Shop 82%. Lv100s: 5. Who knows, I might go back some time and try and get decent at the actual battling side, or try and finish off the accomplishments and shop (the 2 hardest things from what I remember.)

3. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) (134 hrs+)..I really don't know why, or how I've played this so much. Its nowhere near my top 3 of the FF series, but I think its because I knew I could get everything I needed for 100% completion in 1 playthrough, and the goals were relatively simple for the most part, I kept grinding and pressing on with the hunt sidequests to the stage I am at now; I've done all the missions and just need 2 or 3 more trophies (treasure hunter, the 5* mission one, dunno what else) before I am done. Plus it looks absolutely amazing, apart from that though, there are way too many flaws with this game: for me, it is too linear, has boring characters and confusing, convoluted (and downright stupid in places) story and many other little things I don't like. Once I eventually get enough Trapezehedrons I will be really satisfied. Why? Because that'll mean I don't need to play this game anymore... Others in the series I've played to death: Final Fantasy VIII (120 hrs +) I played this back when it came out a fair few times, but never did finish it. Somehow my most recent file took me 100 hrs or so (although that included 2 nights of me falling asleep hehee...) It may get a lot of hate, but I like a lot about it. It has the nostalgia factor for me, since it was one of the first FFs I played. I know VIII has it's flaws, but I still like it. Gotta love Triple Triad!

I've actually picked up my save on FFXIII in an effort to finish it off completely. I just need the Treasure Hunter trophy and then I'm done, but I gotta do a lot of Gil farming and get a few catalysts like Dark Matters to get there. I do like some things about it, but its far from my favourite in the series. Too many flaws and a tedious postgame at times.

4. Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's Adventure (GBC) (127 hrs 51) If you like Pokemon and Dragon Quest (especially the DQM: Joker games), this one is still viable-it has aged quite well actually. I put a lot of time into it a couple years ago trying to breed and grind up a strong team. Its basically got a fusion monster mechanic at it's core, (kinda like SMT and Pokemon in a way) where you can combine any 2 monsters together to get a new one with the moves and stats passed on (to an extent) to the new monster. Its got a lot of depth-if you want to get the boss family monsters as well as all the other ones, expect to put in at least what I have-probably a lot more time. Definitely a good game. I have the 2 first Dragon Warrior Monsters games, and I've still not finished DQM1 yet, but want to some time. Really cool game, check this one out if you see it cheap.

5. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP) (104 hrs+) Another game I absolutely love. I'm a big fan of tactical RPGs and this series is about as deep as it gets. You can for one thing, get all the way up to lv9999. There are many classes to unlock, items to find (just completing the item list is a massive challenge in itself), Dark Assembly stuff to do. Tonnes more that I've not touched on. A youtube user I follow was working through this game and put over 600 hours in and still had a lot to do. The psp port of the first game also has multiplayer and Etna story mode added, as if you needed more content. Etna mode has even more of the quirky, over the top humour that the series has as it's style. I reckon this is the strongest in the series, things started to go downhill since then. Although I still need to play the 3rd, so I can't really say that for sure. If you are a completionist, man..this game could kill you. But it will be an awesome, Prinny-filled death. I'll definitely go back to this game some time and play more of it. I like it a lot.

Honorable Mentions: Diablo II (PC) I love this game. I've played through the story at least 4 or 5 times over the years since it was released (I got it right around the time of release) and have many good memories of it. I don't think it has suffered over the last few years-it has aged pretty well. It has been such an influential game in defining and dominating the hack and slash type WRPGs, often with a focus on loot or dungeon crawling. Dungeon Siege, Torchlight, many others would not have existed had it not been for this and Diablo coming out. Its a must play. Another one I'll mention quickly is Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP). This one is a remake of the PS1 game Final Fantasy Tactics, and has a fair amount to do. Sidequests, unlocking job classes, tonnes of items, Treasure Hunter items hidden around the stages and a few additions from the original, as well as a nice new translation. Only drawback in this one is some of the lag you will see in battle.

I recommend: Thought I'd chuck another few games in there to make this more interesting. I'm picking these based on the amount of replayability and content they have. So if for some reason you have read through this and are inspired to go pick up a lengthy, content filled RPG, or you want value for money, you should check these RPGs out: Chrono Trigger (DS) with its 13 or so endings, Bestiary, Item compendium and much more, it has a lot to do and is often described as one of the best games of all time. Check this one out if you didnt see the other versions, this has been described as the definitive version, and it will keep you occupied for a while if you are a completionist. It has a really decent New Game+ system so you can just run through time after time to pick up different endings. I really want to go back to my file at some point soon and try and complete it more. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC/Xbox)-strangely enough I'm recommending this one over Oblivion, based on my opinion of the two so far. I felt Oblivion wasn't quite as interesting in places. I'm still yet to finish Oblivion or quite get into it as much as I did with Morrowind. But either of those games have massive amounts to do, especially if you dabble with the modding aspect of the PC versions. Fallout 3 (360/PS3/PC) might actually be more people's cup of tea though, it has a more interesting world (though not to everyone's taste) than Oblivion and arguably Morrowind. All 3: Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3 have their share of flaws but equally all 3 have some brilliant aspects. Pick up the Game of the Year editions for maximum content. I could easily recommend more games in here but this article has gone on much longer than I planned already. 

Hope you liked it, or found it entertaining at least. Its pretty clear that a) Pokemon is crack in video form for me, b) I should definitely steer clear of MMORPGs... and c) I don't have much motivation any more to play a single game for huge periods of time. Anyway, if you haven't checked out some of those games, have a look into them. I recommend the majority of them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Now Playing - "I sound like a sign"

So I played a bunch of stuff over the last few weeks, I was away on holiday in France for 2 and a bit weeks and then played some during this week. But I've got some complicated stuff going on so haven't put a lot of time into any one game at the moment.

Pokemon SoulSilver (DS) I played this all the way through from the start of my holiday and planned from the beginning that I would go for a mono-water team. It was much easier than I thought actually, with Pokemon like Quagsire to keep my Electric weaknesses at bay. It wasn't quite as good as I remember Silver to be, but thats probably because I haven't been much into the games recently, and only picked this up for lack of a better game to take away on holiday with me. Still, there is tonnes to do as before, which is good. And they have added some things and made some adjustments here and there. But to be honest, I had to actually force myself to get through certain parts. It wasn't quite as enjoyable as I would have liked, but still a pretty good game, and I had fun doing this challenge. I have all 16 badges now and got a fair chunk of the dex filled in, but I won't be going back to this one for a while. I go through periods of playing pokemon and staying far away, so I'm either in the staying away phase, or completely sick of the series in general. I did say I would stay away from the competitive scene completely as it has consumed way too much of my time. Then again, there is a Yugioh TCG/Pokemon DS tournament on Tuesday that some friends are going to. I'm still debating going to this and playing some pokaymans, but I don't really want to be the only one older than 12 at it.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (PSP) I've put around 3 or 4 hours into this, when I was away in France and got to the 2nd chapter I think, but a lot of the stuff is really poorly explained I think. I didn't realise the significance of the traits and hero values each character could get until the end of the chapter when I was told that we would be surely doomed if things didn't improve or something to that effect. Anyway, that kinda turned me off so I wanted to restart when I actually knew about the gameplay mechanics. Its very..obscure some of the stuff in this. I will go back to it at some point, but its more or less on hold for now. I also didn't realise weapons could break, and I ended up unknowingly breaking one of the valuable weapons you get early on. I need to get a decent FAQ or fan site for this which will explain some shit for me...

Etrian Odyssey (DS) I played this for a bit more on the way back from holiday (and on the bus going to get DQIX) after which, well it got neglected hehe... I do like this game, but it is pretty damn hard. That is one of the things that makes it really rewarding though. I'm working through it slowly. Think I'm getting near the end of the first stratum~I'm on the 4th floor and I think I'm well levelled enough..but then FOEs come along and rape my face >< ...Hehe...awesome game. Check it out if you like hardcore dungeon crawlers. You can have a team of lolis! XD Pretty cool site for EO fans& players

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) I've been playing this most of all recently, and I've got past the stage where you get the vocation changing at Alltrades Abbey and done the dungeon after that to beat Lleviathan. I'm really enjoying taking my time with it, picking up sidequests and working on the Item list and getting Alchemy recipes and materials. There is a lot to do, in whatever way you want to really. And a lot of it is definitely optional, I know a few people who have already breezed through the main story (as I'm quite a bit behind-I had to wait till a week after the PAL release to start T_T) and they've said mixed things, its good but not brilliant, that the story drags a bit and lots of other stuff. But I'm definitely enjoying it so far. I might review this or Demon's Souls in the future if I can find time. Definitely looking forward to playing more of this. I just went on the in game marketplace for 'DLC' today and got a few items and quests added to my game..well thats not strictly true. All the DLC is actually on the cart, you just need to wait to be able to activate it on the DQVC when they allow you. V_V

The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (DS) I finally finished this off a few weeks ago just before I left for France. Its pretty cool, with some points that really amazed me with their ingenuity. I was really impressed with the puzzle where you had to shut the ds screens in order to transfer a map to something. Little things like that, along with the pretty tight stylus controls and nice visuals were what I liked about this. The main thing I didn't like was what most people complain about, the Temple of the Ocean King. Its a big long dungeon which you keep coming back to throughout the course of the story once you have certain plot items. At the end you are able to get right to the bottom and progress to the final stages of the game. It is timed, which I stressful ><>

Tales of Eternia (PSP) I don't think I talked about this last time but I finished it before I went away on holiday a few weeks back. I slowly started to like it more as I went through, but still a lot of things annoyed me about it. The characters were fairly boring and annoying in places. The art style hasn't aged well at all-its one of the uglier looking games I've seen. Although some bits in game are quite nice-there are lots of FMVs and the battles look pretty good. I did some of the optional stuff but really I have no desire to 100% this game, definitely not. I didnt bother to scan or steal from enemies the entire game. Overall, I'd say its worth what I payed for it, around £12, but unless you are a big Tales fan, you might be slightly dissapointed with it. Don't go paying large amounts to import it unless you are definitely sure. (I'm in the EU, so didn't need to import this one which didnt make it to the US.)

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) I played this a bit more the other day, and worked on improving my mission ratings up to 5 star. Eventually after some nasty ones, I got all the ones that needed it improved to 5 stars for the Trophy. I still have a fair chunk to do though for the last one. I need quite a bit of money and some Dark Matters (I'm not sure how easy or hard they are to obtain yet) to upgrade weapons and accessories. I've put it back on the shelf for now though, as I'm playing through another PS3 game...

Demon's Souls (PS3) I'm slowly working through this one, I finally got to the stage where my Royal Mage has enough strength to wield my Compound Long Bow 2 handed! So I can grind pretty well in 4-2 against those Manta fucks and the Reaper dude on the stairs. I'm up around Soul lv46 or so now I think, about 20 hours in. Its hard to tell what level you should be at for each stage though, and in which order you should do them. I have the guide book that came with the Black Phantom Edition of the game, and of course the awesome but for someone who hasn't finished the game yet, it can be intimidating in places. I think once I get into the game enough though, I can have the required level of patience, as I've solo'd each of the stages and not had too many problems with the bosses. It more or less getting the enemies attack patterns down and not getting owned by ridiculous traps or cliffs or stuff that takes time. Its a really cool game this one. So many unique and interesting things to do with this, the seamless multiplayer and online support for one. Check it out if you have a PS3 (and are up for a challenge!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back from holiday!

I'm just back from holiday today. Will perhaps edit this post, or if not, post more in the next few days. Might post a bit about what it was like. 

And some gaming content, no doubt. I got a few games and played quite a couple as well. [Gotta love Cubone]

Hope everyone has been having a good summer!