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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by alienjesus Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:11 pm

Exhuminator wrote:I'd never even heard of "Hyper Sonic". :shock: Thanks for the breakdown.


Also, you can save progress in the whole thing just like in Sonic 3. Sonic & Knuckles didn't have a save feature on it's own.
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by Sarge Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:27 pm

Xeogred wrote:
Sarge wrote:There are US tracks I like as well, though.

But yeah, Sonic CD never really impressed me much. Something always felt a little off with it for me. I'm looking forward to see how Sonic Mania turns out, though.

Here's the winner.

Yep, that was definitely one of my faves.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by marurun Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:48 pm

1. Axiom Verge (Windows/Steam)
2. Fire Emblem Heroes (iOS/no IAP)

Before I get into this review, I have a guilty admission to make. I have not played many SRPGs. I own several, but I've never successfully beaten one, save Military Madness (which is a little more tactical and without much RP outside of unit experience). My experience with the genre is limited to Blazing Heroes/Mystaria: Realms of Lore, Shining Force 3 (US ep 1), Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and a bit of Odium (seriously under-appreciated PC SRPG) and Zone of Enders: Fist of Mars, along with the aforementioned Military Madness and it's sequel, Neo Nectaris (Jpn PC-Engine).

Wait, wait... I did get really close to beating Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis. Want to know why I didn't? A 1 hour+ battle. That fight just took too long, and I put down the game long enough I couldn't pick it back up. This might reveal some of my biases. I love SRPGs in theory, but in practice I struggle with them, and one of the reasons is that most of them are either very difficult or have battles that stretch out far too long without the ability to quick-save in the middle so you can put them down and resume later. So what's a guy like me supposed to do?

Play Fire Emblem Heroes, apparently. I had never played an FE game before, despite owning one for the GBA. This means I didn't know any of the characters in FE Heroes. But I didn't need to. Even though they have only brief interactions, their dialogue, written and spoken, is full of character. It's easy to get a feel for their basic inclinations and personality. But that's not what helped me get through it. What helped was the limited scale and scope of battles.

Every battle you fight plays out on a 6 x 8 grid that displays on a single screen, and you can bring up to 4 characters to the fight. In the PVE battles your opponent will be anywhere from 3 to 5 units, some named characters and some nameless generics. Your characters have 4 core stats: Atk, Def, Res (defense against magic attackers), and Spd (if you are faster than your opponent by a certain amount you get extra attacks on them). The math is simple. When you attack an opponent, subtract their Def (or Res, for magical attacks) from your Atk. What remains is your damage.

But there's also a paper-rock-scissors mechanic called the weapon triangle. Red/Swords beat Green/Axes beat Blue/Lances beat Red. This applies to magic and physical attacks. But there are also colorless characters. They are archers, ninjas (shuriken ranged attackers), and healers (can optionally do ranged colorless magic damage). There are also certain advantage pairings outside the color triangle. Archers are strong against flyers. Some magic and shuriken weapons are strong against infantry. Some units are Armored, and have additional defense against physical attacks, but are vulnerable to characters with special armorbreaker weapons. So while the triangle is fairly simple, these other strengths and vulnerabilities also have to be juggled.

You add characters to your roster through several means. There are daily challenges, usually a normal and a hard, where you can add a 1 or 2 star character to your roster. There's also a gashapon-style summoning mechanic where you can summon new heroes, who will most likely be of a 3 or 4 star rarity, but on rare occasions, can be 5 star or 5+. Now, every character has levels, so what does this rarity mechanic do? Characters with higher star ratings start with better weapons and powers, and better stats. And when they level up, they are more likely to get better stat bonuses, though a lot of that is left to chance. There are some characters you can only get at higher rarities. And those higher rarity characters can dominate. If you go into the Arena, which is basically CPU-driven PVP, if you get paired with a team of all 5 star characters, there's a good chance you'll get hosed unless you got lucky enough to totally out-level them or have your own 5 star team. And since match-making still has some bugs to iron out, that's not an uncommon occurrence, to be paired with a team no amount of skill will help you defeat. I have had several encounters where I had half my team wiped out right out the gate and my remaining two characters couldn't even damage the remaining opponents. Fortunately, if you grind enough items you can upgrade your characters to higher star categories, but you don't automatically get the items and specials those characters would start with. You have to buy them yourself with skill points (SP). Further, you'll never get those 5 star-only characters without using the summoning mechanic. Planning and luck are your friend.

So rarity is really critical to having a powerful enough team to advance through the game, but levels are important as well. The structure of the game is that there for PVE there are 9 worlds, each with 5 battles. To "beat" the game, you have to complete all 45 battles in Normal difficulty. Fighting a battle, either PVE or training or daily special, costs stamina points. You start with 50, and easier battles only cost a few, but hard and lunatic level battles can cost large amounts of stamina, and the only way to get it back is to use up a stamina potion (uncommon) or wait for the timer to charge you back up. Arena battles, oddly, don't use stamina, instead using a separate sword token, of which you get 3 each day and restore with a different item. Each battle has a level associated with it, that seems to be the average of your opponents' levels. So early battles will be levels 1-7, but later battles will get up to 22 in normal difficulty. Checking the battle's level is only so helpful, though, because later battles will require you have a healthy roster of 3 and 4 star characters. 1 and 2 stars are too weak to compete, even if they meet the level requirements, simply due to having weaker weapons, lower stats, and fewer skills and abilities. Frustratingly, however, you only earn experience from fighting enemies within a few levels of you. So if you go into the endgame with only the 1 and 2 star starting characters, you must be massively over-leveled, meaning the actual PVE game battles will end up earning you no new experience. It can be frustrating. Fortunately, unless you make some missteps early, you won't be stuck with just your starter characters.

The currency you purchase with IAP in this game is Orbs. Orbs are used to summon new characters, restore health and fallen characters in battle, and upgrade your castle (which improves experience earned). You get an orb for the first time you beat a story level, and there are some quest rewards that earn orbs, and early adopters can get bonus orbs, too. Summoning a character costs 5 orbs, but if you summon a full 5-character slate from a single summoning screen you get a discount and can get all 5 characters for 20 orbs. But this is all gashapon, so you don't know what you'll get save their colors, which are randomly selected for your summoning screen. You'll do fine expanding your roster as you go, so long as you save up your orbs and don't blow them all on your castle first chance you get. With these characters you collect you can construct 5 teams of 4 characters. You can go to the Allies screen to change the membership of the teams between battles, but those 5 team slots just make it easy to have some basic configurations handy to tackle most levels without having to hand pick each character every time.

I have really only scratched the basics here. There's a lot more under the surface, but while it's a bit to manage, it isn't TOO complicated, and unless you're one of those obsessive perfect players, you'll likely manage to have fun without spending anything. I think it's a strong game for a few hours on the go. And if you do really want to spend money, you'll likely get some good returns from your investment in the form of an expanded roster and more flexibility. Just don't obsess and be ready to put the game down when you start to get annoyed and you'll have a good time.

tl;dr FE Heroes is several fun hours of simplified FE action that doesn't require any IAP to enjoy, and it's easy to put down when it starts to get frustrating. Unlike some other F2P/Freemium games, this one gives you just enough to start out OK. By the time the game starts to reveal its money-driven true colors you'll already have beaten the game on normal and will be able to put it down before it tries to eat your soul, unless you like that sort of thing, in which case this may be the F2P game for you.
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by Sarge Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Great writeup, maru.

I can definitely relate vis-à-vis SRPGs. They appeal to me, but in practice, I rarely finish them. The Shining Force and Arc the Lad games are notable exceptions, though. Fire Emblem sees me play a little too obsessively to have finished one. But Heroes is a nice bite-sized, manageable chunk of SRPG play. I'm still surprised it made the transition to the IAP model so well.

Seriously, though, if you want a good SRPG, I recommend Shining Force II in particular. I think the Genesis games are superior to Shining Force III.
Last edited by Sarge on Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by Exhuminator Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:59 pm

Yeah I was wondering how Heroes would pan out, but it looks like Nintendo identified a niche and filled correctly. That is to say; creating an FE-lite catered to those who find normal FE too prolonged or daunting. Smart move!
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by Sarge Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:01 pm

It also has me interested in picking up Fates/Conquest, so... yeah, good job, Ninty.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by isiolia Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:04 pm

I still think that it would be preferable if getting/leveling additional characters were simpler and not as tied to chance. More or less because you do get to the point where being able to adjust your roster to suit a challenge would be preferable, but may not be something you have on hand.

I did finally get a five-star character, albeit one that is somewhat redundant with a couple of my 4 star (got Lucina, when I have 4-star Chrom and Marth).

I think the main thing with higher star rated characters is that they get access to more/higher tier Skills.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by marurun Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:11 pm

Sarge wrote:Great writeup, maru.


Thank goodness someone thinks so. I know it's a bit long and no pictures or graphics to break it up, but I wanted to make sure to explain enough of it that someone with no experience with the title could get a good idea of whether or not it might be worth trying.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by marurun Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:11 pm

isiolia wrote:II think the main thing with higher star rated characters is that they get access to more/higher tier Skills.


It isn't just that. Their stats tend to also be significantly higher over time.
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Re: Games Beaten 2017

by Sarge Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:15 pm

Yeah, if you pull a 5-star, you'll want to replace your 4-star. Seriously, the difference between my 4-star Tiki and 5-star is ridiculous. Huge stat differences, a much more powerful default attack, it's just worth it all around to grind them up even if you've put a lot of time into the same 4-star.
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