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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by alienjesus Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:37 pm

First 50:
1. Star Fox 2 SNES
2. Sonic Advance 2 GBA
3. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Wii U
4. Advance Wars: Dark Conflict DS
5. Joy Mech Fight Famicom
6. Grandia PS1
7. Money Idol Exchanger Game Boy
8. The Battle of Olympus NES
9. Lost Kingdoms 2 GC
10. Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon DS
11. Code of Princess 3DS DL
12. Discworld Saturn
13. Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru [For the Frog the Bell Tolls] Game Boy
14. 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 3DS DL
15. 3D Streets of Rage 3DS DL
16. Pokémon Shuffle 3DS DL
17. 3D Altered Beast 3DS DL
18. 3D Super Hang-On 3DS DL
19. 3D Space Harrier 3DS DL
20. 3D Galaxy Force II 3DS DL
21. 3D Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master 3DS DL
22. Sonic 3 & Knuckles Mega Drive
23. Bayonetta Wii U
24. Fighting Vipers Saturn
25. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan 3DS
26. Super Castlevania IV SNES
27. Shovel Knight Wii U eShop
28. Discworld II: Missing, Presumed...!? PC
29. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo Saturn
30. Chameleon Twist N64
31. Live a Live SFC
32. Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland DS
33. Splatoon Wii U
34. Mega Man X Wii U VC
35. Game & Watch Gallery Advance GBA
36. Metroid: Zero Mission GBA
37. Saturn Bomberman Saturn
38. Touch My Katamari PSN
39. Banjo-Tooie N64
40. Transbot SMS
41. Talmit's Adventure Mega Drive
42. Alien 3 SMS
43. Shinobi 3DS VC
44. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Vita
45. Super Street Fighter II X: Grand Master Challenge 3DO
46. The Curse of Monkey Island PC
47. Final Fantasy VIII PS1
48. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 PSN
49. The Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse Game Gear
50. The Legend of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse Game Gear

51. Deep Duck Trouble starring Donald Duck Game Gear
52. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX 3DS *NEW*
53. Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush Wii U *NEW*
54. Retro Game Challenge DS *NEW*

3 new games for the list!

Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX

Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX is the latest in the series of Hatsune Miku/Vocaloid rhythm games which started with Project DIVA on PSP. It is a revised version of the Japan-only Project Mirai 2, which was itself a seuql to the original Project Mirai on DS.

Project Mirai has similar gameplay mechanics to the DIVA games, with icons appearing over a music video which you must hit in time with the music. This time, you can either play with the A,B,Y and X buttons or with the touch screen. Both work well, but I prefer the buttons for accuracy, especially for high speed sections on harder difficulties. One unique mechanic of this game is that the game sometimes asks you to press 2 buttons at once, or to hold one button whilst tapping others (you can use the d-pad as well, so this isn't some crazy finger gymnastics).

Aesthetically, the game uses a super-deformed chibi style, based on the Nendoroid figurines of the characters. It's very cutesy and charming, but I don't like it nearly as much as the character designs in DIVA, as it limits the range of animations available and makes the videos a lot mroe boring. In addition, the videos feel a lot less ambitious than those in DIVA F and F 2nd, and it just feels kinda lower budget over all.

The game has a large song selection, and a nice feature is that all of the songs are included in their full, original versions, as opposed to DIVA F which sometimes cut the songs down a bit. The songs sound alright, but they're not as clear and loud as the songs in DIVA F/F 2nd. I'm not sure if this is due to compression on the cartridge or the 3DS hardware, but it is a bit disappointing either way.

Outside of the music modes, there are a few bonus features which are neat, including decorating the DIVA room, creating small music themes using a kinda crappy on-screen keyboard and the usual Vocaloid interactive mode. The intraction and room decoration mechanics here feel really stripped back, which I don't mind as they were kinda weird and superfluous before anyway, but they added a few nice features like the ablity to play Go with the Vocaloids. There's also a Puyo Puyo game included for some reason which is a ton of fun. It's short, but it's charming and I like it. I think it's a reworking of a download title released only in Japan.

GUMI appears as a guest star in the game in a few duets with other characters. As she's owned by a different company, her appearances are limited, but it's nice to see her, and many of the songs she's in are the best in the game, so I hope she comes back for other games in the series in future.

My biggest issue with Mirai DX is that the game is too easy. Hard mode is the highest most songs get, as opposed to the DIVA series' Extreme mode difficulty. 6 songs have newly added 'Super Hard' mode patterns which are mostly a lot of fun, but the whole game really needed it. 2 of the 'Super Hard' patterns aren't that hard anyway, there are some Hard mode songs that are tougher. As a bit of a DIVA pro, the low difficulty it massively offputting as this feels like a walk in the park, although if you're new to the series it'll likely still be quite challenging. It's a true shame there's nothing harder though, as the aformentioned two buttons at a time adds a lot of potential for some very challenging note charts that just ends up feeling wasted.

I'm also not a fan of the song selection, which has a couple of great songs, but quite a lot of stuff that's not my thing - lots of slow electronic songs and not enough rock and pop for my liking. The song list needed a few more up-tempo songs imo

Judged on it's own, Project Mirai DX is a pretty great rhythm game - one of the best in fact. It has a ton of content, engaging gameplay and it just is a ton of fun to play. Judged in comparison to the recent Project DIVA F and Project DIVA F 2nd though, it just feels lacking. The visuals and sound have less impact, the note charts aren't as challenging or fun and the soundtrack is good, but not as well rounded as the others, despite having more songs. Pick the game up if it sounds good to you, but if you're a bit of a series pro, maybe give it a second thought.

That said, I can't wait for the upcoming releases in the series...

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush

I've started a new mission to try and beat 1 game every weekend where I'm not otherwise occupied. The 3 GG games I beat recently were the result of my first weekend doing this challenge, and this is the result of the second.

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush (Kirby and the Rainbow Curse in North America) is the sequel to the DS game Kirby and the Power Paintbrush (Kirby and the Canvas Curse in America). The game has Kirby rolling around as a ball whilst you draw lines on the touchscreen to direct him around obstacles, tap him to make him dash attack enemies, and try to help Kirby through the games obstacles intact. The DS release was an early game on the system, but remains one of the ebst for showing off the touch screen, and is a personal favourite of mine.

Visually, KatRP is a treat. The whole game is rendered in a claymation style and it looks beautiful. You can see fingerprints in the textures, the way Kirby splats into walls and floors is satisfying, and the game has so much colour - it's absolutely beautiful. The premise of the game is the evil witch Claycia has stolen colour from Kirby's world and used it to make a variety of other colourful worlds full of enemies, and it lives up to that concept - the game is utterly vibrant and beatuiful. You can also unlock clay sculptures of game characters that look great, and have absolutely hilarious descriptions to boot.

The audio of the game is a treat too - the music sounds wonderful, with the usual big pompy Kirby brass base lines and twiddly melodys all present and accounted for and sounding awesome. You can unlock new versions of classic Kirby songs as rewards too, and they sound fantastic. The reworking of Coo the Owl's theme from Dream Land 2 is a particular delight.

Gameplay wise, the game is solid and fun, levels have a good amount of variety, and the transformation sequences (which felt a lot like those in Epic Yarn, rather than the normal Kirby fare) were a ton of fun too, with Kirby blasting enemies as a Tank or shooting around battleships as a missile. Amiibo support is here, but unnecessary really - it just offers power ups for a stage a day each (depending which Kirby amiibo you use) and the game is plenty easy without it. Challenge mode levels are unlocked too, but I've yet to play these.

Whilst I had fun with Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush, one thought I couldn't shake was that it just wasn't quite as good as the DS game. The physics are different - Kirby can't be sped up with loops now, and he sticks to the bottom of ropes sometimes aswell as the top. He doesn't feel like he has as much gravity to him anymore, and it makes the game feel a bit looser and like Kirby has less impact than in the speedier DS game.

However, the game is fun. It's a short romp, about 5-6 hours, but it's enjoyable all the way through and the graphics and music are wonderful. I recommend picking the game up when you can.

Retro Game Challenge

Retro Game Challenge is a game which includes 8 Retro-styled 'mini' games (as in shorter games, not the usual meaning of mini-game) which aim to capture the spirit of the 80s and the Famicom. It's actually a localised port of Game Center CX, which is based on a fantastic Japanese TV show everyone who is reading should watch where a Japanese comedian named Arino tries to beat classic games.

The game includes a few traces of the original source here and there, with Arino himself showing up and talking to you, but a lot of other references to reoccuring staff members of the show seems to have been erased in favour of Americanising it more, which is a shame in my eyes.

The plot of the game is that Arino is so angry about being bad at games he sends you back to the 80s to play games with his child self and forces you to beat them to return to your own time. It's not deep or anything, it's nice and silly and to the point, just like 80s games were. One of the nice things about having your character sent back to the 80s is that in between playing games, time passes and new games releases come out, and you get more 'gaming magazines' to read which have details on the new titles, cheat codes and more. It's a wonderful throwback to gaming era of yesteryear (although I was a 90s kid myself, it all still rings true).

There are 8 games in the pack to play and beat, although it cheats somewhat as some are almost identical. My thoughts on all 8 are below. You will be asked to complete challenges on all 8 by Arino, but they kinda suck and are more like tutorials for the games. It's dumb, because the target audience of the game already has a good idea how to play, and the point of these types of games are that you shouldnt need to have a tutorial anyway. Thankfully, the last challenge is just to beat all 8. My thoughts on them:

Cosmic Gate: This one is an obvious Galaga clone - the game was published by Bandai Namco, so I assume they wanted to pay homage to their old stuff. It plays well and has some neat mechanics with it's missile weapon upgrade and asteroid field. It's probably the most traditional and least unique of the 8 games, but it is fun. There are 64 levels here, so it's quite fully featured.

Robot Ninja Haggleman: Haggleman is an interesting one. It's clearly portrayed to be the in-universe rendition of Super Mario Bros. but it actually doesn't play like that at all, and reminds me more of Ninja JaJaMaru-Kun. You can kill enemies by flipping doors on screen and must defeat them all to clear the levels. The game pulls a Ghouls n' Ghosts at the end and forces you to replay the whole thing, but it's still very short overall. Not too bad, but not the best game on her for sure.

Rally King: This one is a top down racing game that I suppose draws on some racing games of the time like RC Pro Am, but nothing felt particularly familiar. The game is very smooth to control and also very fast - it doesn't really feel like it would be possible on an actual NES. It has a neat drifting mechanic which works very well and it's actually a lot of fun to play. It has only 4 tracks, but forces you to place 1st to beat the game, so it'll take a couple of tries most likely.

Star Prince: This is a overheard shmup which draws a lot from the likes of Star Soldier. There are multiple weapons you can grab that change how you shoot, and you get an in-game 'turbo controller' so you can shoot faster by pressing Y. The game is one of the more challenging games in the game, but is a lot of fun. Bizarrely, it also pulls the Ghost n' Goblins 'play again for the true ending' bullshit on you. It's fun overall, and one of the best games included.

Rally King SP: This is a sort of jokey game really - it's a competition only 'sponsored' version of the original Rally King with lots of Chicken Noodle references in it. It's won through a magazine competition. It's clearly a joke about the likes of the All-Night Nippon Mario Bros or the lieks. It feels a bit cheap as one of the 8 games though as it is nearly identical. Graphics look like night time and the courses are very, very slightly different (to almost make no difference). Beating this just feels like beating Rally King again. Kinda crappy.

Robot Ninja Haggleman 2: Right after Rally King, the game pulls the same trick again with Robot Ninja Haggleman 2. This is meant to be the overly similar, much harder sequel akin to the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2, but it doesnt really work as it's not that hard still and the original game is too basic for this to feel like a sequel. It's OK again, but it wasn't needed.

Guadia Quest:This is an RPG draws a lot from the likes of Dragon Quest 2, and is suprisingly fully featured - we're talking a 12 -15 hour game here - several times longer than the other 7 games put together. The game has magic spells, monsters who can join your party, a basic but fun plot and even has secret boss fights, ultimate weapons and the likes. It's quite impressive. It's also true to the grindiness of old RPGs, although noticeably easier overall. This could have been released as downloadable game on it's own and people would have been impressed by it. The second Game Center CX has a 'Super' sequel, so it'll be interesting to try it someday.

Robot Ninja Haggleman 3: Luckily this isn't another clne of the first game - instead it's completely different. Althought the in-universe expy for Mario 3 and labelled as a real game changer, it mostly draws upon Ninja Gaiden fo it's game mechanics, with a dash of Metroid. It has huge sprawling levels, sotry cutscenes in between, giant demonic bosses, and some exploration to find new equipment in order to proceed. It's very solid overall, and a good length despite being only 3 levels. This is one of the best game in here, although where to go can be a bit obtuse sometimes.

Overall, the games in Retro Game Challenge were all good and offered fun trubutes to 80s gaming, even if none were absolute classics. Some were more fully featured than I would have expected, but I wasn't impressed by having 2 'clone' games in there, especially as they were both basic action games so there was no room for a 'new' experience at all. RGC is worth a buy though, and now that the sequel is fully translated, I intend to give that one a try sometime soon too!
Last edited by alienjesus on Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by GSZX1337 Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:37 pm

1) Cannon Spike - Dreamcast
2) I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream - PC
3) Mighty Gunvolt - 3DS (as Mighty No. 9)
4) Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X - PSP (Vile Mode)
5) StarCraft - PC
6) Naughty Bear - Xbox 360
7) The Last of Us - PS3
8] Eets (100-percented) - PC
9) Gunpoint - PC
10) The Last Story - Wii
11) Papers, Please - PC (Ending 18)
12) King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (AGD VGA remake)
13) Dune 2000 - PC (easy :()
14) Clock Tower: The First Fear - PC (S Ending)
15-19) Sam & Max Season 3: The Devil's Playhouse - PC
20) Dishonored - PC
21) Call of Juarez - PC
22) Gargoyle's Quest - GameBoy
23) Assassin's Creed - PC

This is a frustrating game, but not in the usual way. This is frustrating because overall the game sucks, but there are qualities and specialties that are fun, but they're buried under trivial bullshit and unrelenting tedium. Since the list will be much shorter, I'll start with the positives: The sword-fighting, while frustrating at times, does lend the game a cinematic flair. Released two years before inFAMOUS, this title boasts a climbing/Parkour system that's almost as goood. This system makes the chases in the villages exciting and again feel cinematic. Lastly, the story starts to get really interesting at the end of the game. And by "the end of the game," I mean right before the credits.

Now get ready for the negatives:
Holy shit, does this game like to waste your time. Prior to assassinating your targets, you gotta find information on them (which doesn't seem to affect Altair's plans much). Before you do that, you gotta perform tasks to get that information. Among the tasks included are sitting on a bench, punching random dudes, and collecting flags before the informant becomes bored with them. Before you do that, you have to find where they are by climbing massive towers, pressing a button to spin the camera around, and then diving off said tower into a failed suicide jump. Now repeat this twenty some odd times, and there's the majority of the game.

The combat often devolves into a clunky, clumsy mess. In lieu of a thought out control scheme, Ubisoft Montreal have you switch between two main modes (low profile and high profile). Having to switch between these two modes manually all the time can lead to some awkward situations and random fuckups. It also doesn't help matters when you need to enter a mode, then enter another mode just to perform one action, then enter another mode for your main combat strategy. Ironically, the game actually controls worse when using the built-in 5 mouse button control scheme. A much more streamlined control scheme could've been implemented and kept this game from being so damn frustrating to play.

There's more, but those are the main problems I have with the game. I'd go on, but I don't feel like making a novella-length review. Okay, maybe it wouldn't be that long. :P
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Key-Glyph Wed Sep 30, 2015 4:43 pm

:lol: That ice cream truck. Clearly it plays "Dem Bones" as it drives around.

To keep things in perspective, though, I suck at every Mario game except Mario 64 -- and I'm told that one doesn't really count. So let's not go crazy here.

Ranger X is challenging, but it's fair to the player. It also has different difficulty settings, which is always awesome. I couldn't beat it on Normal until I'd done a pass on Easy. And a six-button controller does make certain situations easier, but it's by no means required. I switched to a three-button after I got tired of holding my beloved Nomad and still managed just fine.

Also, to be clear, does 1CC mean you don't lose any ships? Because I do lose ships in TFIII -- just not enough hit a continue screen.

EDIT: And now that I think of it, I'm not sure I should be claiming I 1CCd Ranger X on Heavy. When you lose a life, it asks you if you want to continue and gives you a countdown. I lost a couple lives, so I should change that.
Last edited by Key-Glyph on Wed Sep 30, 2015 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by noiseredux Wed Sep 30, 2015 4:46 pm

Key-Glyph wrote:Also, to be clear, does 1CC mean you don't lose any ships? Because I do lose ships in TFIII -- just not enough hit a continue screen.

no 1CC means you used one 'credit.' You didn't continue.
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Games Beaten 2015

by Blu Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:12 pm

1. Super Smash Brothers - N64 (January 3)
2. Shovel Knight - Wii U (January 6)
3. NES Remix - Wii U (January 14)
4. NES Remix 2 - Wii U (January 14)
5. Streets of Rage - Genesis (January 16)
6. F-Zero - SNES (January 21)
7. Super Mario 3D World - Wii U (January 28)
8. Hyrule Warriors - Wii U (February 5)
9. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - 3DS (February 23)
10. Double Dragon Neon - PC (March 1)
11. Mario Kart 8 - Wii U (March 3)
12. Hotline Miami - PS3 (March 14)
13. Pokemon White - Nintendo DS (March 17)
14. Pokemon Soul Silver - Nintendo DS (April 2)
15. Pokemon White 2 - Nintendo DS (April 14)
16. Pokemon X - Nintendo 3DS (April 30)
17. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Xbox One (May 3)
18. Pokemon Shuffle - Nintendo 3DS (May 12)
19. Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain - PC / iPhone (May 17)
20. Splatoon - Wii U (June 7)
21. Fallout Shelter - iOS (June 21)
22. Phantasy Star Online Episode II - GameCube (August 24)
22. Resident Evil 4 - Wii (August 31)
23. Earthbound - Wii U Virtual Console (September 7)
24. Legend of Zelda - Wii U Virtual Console (September 21)
25. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. - Nintendo 3DS (September 30)

Preface: I totally adore this series.
My impressions and thoughts: I am a rad pad designer. Bob the cat wanted this floral themed home. Well Bob, hope you don't have allergies because you've got a garden for a house now.

Tangy? You want fruit everywhere? Better fire up that blender and have your toilet ready, because your diet is 100% fiber. Pretty sure cats can't survive off fruit either, but that's beside the point.

I also designed a beautiful city. Then the credits rolled. It was bittersweet, then I woke up the next morning to see Lottie expect me to design more houses. I am up for the task.

Closing: this is a great game and one I'll continue to play. There's something relaxing about designing homes for little critters. Amiibo function is pretty cool too. If you like the series, give it a go.


Bone, I didn't do second quest. Worth going through? Is there another ending?

Key-Glyph, I'm glad you enjoyed my narrative from Leon's perspective. I figured most people glossed it over, so I appreciate the shout out!
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by MrPopo Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:43 pm

Blu wrote:Bone, I didn't do second quest. Worth going through? Is there another ending?

If you like pain, and you get a different final screen as seen here:

Of course, the original ending wasn't exactly deep.
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Sep 30, 2015 8:57 pm

The second quest feels a bit arbitrary and ROM-hacky in parts. Not completely necessary.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Sload Soap Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:09 pm

I have been a bit lax updating but in the last month and a bit I have beat:

Mega Man 6 (Xbox One)
Mega Man 5 (Xbox One)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Xbox One)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Xbox One)
Metal Gear (Xbox 360)

Many games beginning with M not a bad game among 'em.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by MrPopo Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:41 pm

First 50:

51. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne - PC
52. Starflight - PC
53. Skies of Arcadia - Dreamcast
54. Aliens versus Predator Classic 2000 - PC
55. Super Star Wars - SNES
56. Shadowrun: Hong Kong - PC
57. Hexen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel - PC
58. The Catacomb - PC
59. Azure Striker Gunvolt - 3DS
60. Mighty Gunvolt - 3DS
61. Catacomb Abyss - PC
62. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge - PC
63. Strike Suit Zero - Director's Cut - PC
64. Wolfenstein 3D Spear of Destiny - PC
65. StarCraft - PC
66. Metal Storm - NES
67. Septerra Core - PC

Hah! Finished with you, you fucker. I'm so glad to have this bastard behind me. It's not like the legendarily bad games out there; instead Septerra Core is an exercise in a lot of good/interesting ideas with shitty execution.

Septerra Core is the work of a small dev team trying to emulate the JRPG with a western twist. And here lies the first set of problems; they don't go all in on their JRPGness. The game sits in between the understated nature of most WRPGs and the craziness of JRPGs, and that's a bad spot to be. Things are implausible but not implausible enough. Characters ham it up but they don't ham it up enough.

The second thing you see from the western influence is the game takes a lot of cues from adventure games. Throughout the game you will be having to keep your eye out for key items, some of which need to be combined with others, or taken to an NPC to be refined, and not all of the key items are really noticeable on the background (while others are only if you're thinking to look for them). Several end up being "hey, remember that thing from several hours ago? You should go back there and pick it up now that you have this doohickey". I highly recommend a walkthrough so you don't have to deal with that level of frustration, especially due to another terrible design decision they made.

And that is the massive tedious backtracking. The game likes to make you revisit areas now that you have some key item/party member, and it's never a fast trip. Even when you massively outlevel enemies combat is a slow affair. And to add to that is the fact that most dungeons consist of going deep into it, getting the item/event, then backtracking out through the way you came. Only occasionally will you have tunnel dungeons where you go from one end to the other and now you're in a new area you want to be in. And the game never gives you any fast escape (either through shortcut or magic), except in the final dungeon past the point of no return. At that point it's like the game is taunting you: "oh yeah, we just learned how to make dungeon crawling suck less".

Speaking of sucky dungeon crawling, the game includes the nice feature of an in game map that's prepopulated. Sounds nice, right? Well, the first frustrating part is you can't open it up while your character is moving. Since movement is click driven this means you'll frequently try to open the map to check where you're going and get the error message. You can open the menu while moving, just not the map, because fuck you. And there's the minor quibble that the map is always forced into filling the screen, even though the actual terrain might be some very narrow rectangle, which leads to terrible distortion. But the real sucky thing is that they decided that they still wanted you to wander around like a drunk monkey, so instead of just having confusing layouts (not so confusing when you have a map) they add in a ton of switches that open/close parts of the level. So even though you might know where you want to go eventually, you still have to figure out the locations of all the switches and the right order (and they aren't on the map).

Combat is another area where they manage to cock things up. The game uses a modification of the ATB system, where your bar is divided into three segments. Once you have a full segment your character can act, whether it be attacking, using an item, magic, or attempting to flee. Many attacks require more than one segment, and magic is more powerful if you have multiple segments. Each character starts with three attacks (basic attack using 1-3 segments) and can gain six more, giving you a 3x3 grid of attacks (3 for 1 segment, 3 for 2, 3 for 3). These attacks might be added area damage, status effect, or just a harder hit, but the non-basic ones also require MP as a balancing act. The magic system is based on cards, where you have a selection of basic cards such as elemental magic or a barrier spell and then a few modifiers, like hit-all or mirror. You can combine cards in several combinations that make intuitive sense, such as barrier-mirror-all to remove a barrier from all enemies. All this sounds like it would make for an interesting combat engine with lots of decision points, right? Well, they fucked up the balance. A level 3 basic attack does more than 3x the damage of a level 1, which makes level 1 attacks useless outside of situations where you need to tap an enemy to finish him off. Similarly, the various MP costing attacks either do too little damage in exchange for their aoe properties or come too late to be worthwhile, as in the last third of the game magic takes over. Speaking of, the first two thirds of the game magic is terrible due to extremely low MP and low power, and all of the good support magic only coming near the end. But in the last third you gain access to the best hit-all spell that utterly trashes everything outside of one dungeon on a level 1 charge (and in that dungeon you just use a level 3 charge instead). At that point combat goes from long and tedious and boring to short and boring and popping cheap MP items like candy.

The general story stuff is also a really mixed bag. They had the cool idea of taking WRPG style conversations, so when you interact with an NPC you can ask them about several topics, or even have your individual characters talk to them (which might unlock new info, or items, or trigger an event). All the dialog is fully voiced, which consists of main characters voiced by external voice actors (with bad scripts and not the greatest delivery a lot of times) and side characters voiced by members of the studio (which is all kinds of bad). But going back to those key items, if you want to give a key item to an NPC you need to exit conversation and use the item interface to give it to them; there's no provision to do it in conversation, which is dumb. And as for the overall story, it starts off with your typical JRPG "must save the world from the bad guy who wants to rule it" but it kinda falls flat on a few key points. The two most egregious are:

First, after you get the twin swords of Marduk so you can kick the big bad's ass you come out and find out "oh yeah, we totally blew up his ships while you were gone and now his ship is crashed, go kick his ass", which is so anti climatic. Secondly, the ending is just awful. You spend the entire game trying to stop the big bad from destroying the planet while he tries to fulfill the prophecy. At the end you end up beating him in combat, he realizes YOU must be the chosen one, not him, then you let his plan finish, but now since you were involved it's good? And it doesn't really mention how the planet (which was supposed to be about to be destroyed from the work being done to fulfill the prophecy) suddenly isn't about to die. I guess the difference was I beat the selfish out of him and that made things ok? But aside from his motivations the exact same shit goes down if I beat him or if he would have finished his plan.

There is one thing I can say about the game that is 100% great: it has the best airship ever. The airship replaces your overworld character and can land on any spot you were able to walk into before; no hunting around for a spot you can land, get out, and go to the hotspot, possibly having to trek over a long area of unlandable terrain. You get it after having seen all seven shells that make up the world, and it really reduces the potential tedium that could have happened considering how much hopping around you do at that point. Oh, and I guess the idea behind the world is also interesting. It's a planet that consists of seven world shells. The outer six are essentially floating continents, and each one allows them to explore a variety of terrain and town types. So the scenery doesn't get boring.

Fuck, so happy to be done with this. Do not buy this game. Anyone who tells you it's good is lying to you.
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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