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"The Beginning and the End"

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 25 August 2013 06:52 (A review of Xenogears)

Video games can be anything, there is a lot of possibilities that can be done. In a way, anything can be possible and any concept could be tackled as long the game’s aspects work. The concept, gameplay, music, controls, and even visually can work together to create a compelling game to play. What if only one aspect is focused more than the others aspects, does it mean the game will fail? My opinion is that it depends on the player’s preference playing the game as each person has his/her own play style. Not to mention, these types of games can be done right as long the execution of this works overall. But what does all of this have to do with this game? Well this game is really one of it’s kind, a type you don’t normally see everyday. A game that really depends on the preference of anyone playing it. This fascinating, but flawed game in question is Tetsuya Takahashi’s “Xenogears”.

For some background on the game’s history, this was originally a concept in the development of Final Fantasy VII, Squaresoft however was against the idea due to it being complex, but eventually let Takahashi work on it as a stand alone project. Square wasn't sure on doing a localization on the game due to the plot and the themes on religion, but thankfully, it got a release in the US while it never got a release in Europe for some reason. This game was supposed to be part of a series that’s about six episodes with this the fifth game. But it never happened due to that Square made a deal saying that they continue the series if this sells million copies worldwide. This came close but it didn't reach it.

The plot revolves around the main character Fei Fong Wong who lives in the peaceful village of Lahan. He was brought here one night three years earlier by a mysterious mask wearing person. However Fei has no memories of anything in his past. Recently everyone in the village is getting really for the wedding of Fei’s best friends Alice and Timothy. On that day, Fei went to get camera equipment from the village’s doctor Citan for the wedding. However things began to go horribly wrong as robotic like things called gears start attacking the village. While getting everyone to safely, Fei notices a gear with no one inside, so he take control of it to take the other gears out. This goes well until something terrible happens to everything around Fei. Okay, this is as far I can go without getting into even more details. This is one game you should experience without knowing the major things about it. Let’s just say this game dives into religion, the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and psychology using the ideals of both Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.

It also helps that this game has one of the most unusual plots to be ever made for a video game. For what it is, it’s really good. You can tell they put a lot of effect on the story with many concepts like the gears, the locations, the characters, and the good amount of research on religion, philosophy, and psychology. Each characters has their own personality and moments ranging from likable, wait the heck, and times you want to slash someone with a sword. It helps that most of the main cast is developed on the most part even if their character arc ended earlier. Heck even the minor characters who don’t have a lot of screen-time ends up being very memorable that makes you wish they had more screen-time. If there's one thing worth replaying “Xenogears” is for the story. There’s a good amount of foreshadowing at those moments you didn't caught at the first time, but going through it again. It reveals more about the key characters and the terms they use become more understandable adding the element of finding something new each thing you play the game or look up the story online for more research. I’m not going to lie, but this game has a lot of awesome moments when taken down a force of gears, seeing a sweet moment unfold, and those “the heck” moments that are ridiculous, but sometimes ends up being unintentionally hilarious. Overall the story is Xenogears biggest strength, but it kind of suffers during the second disk which I will get into later on. Also the translation can be a bit off at times. It’s understandable since the game as translated by only one person and that would be really difficult to do especially a game like this.

Another thing that really compliments the story is the music. Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda who did “Chrono Trigger” and later on “Chrono Cross”. Mitsuda did a amazing job on the music here. Each tune is memorable and really fits to any moment in the game. There’s a good amount of variety of themes from the theme of Lahan, the beautiful “The Wounded Shall Advance to the Light”, and the engaging boss theme “Knight of Fire”. It immerses you to their world and sucks you in for an interesting ride.

Now on to the gameplay part of “Xenogears”, it has a usual RPG set up of going to towns, dungeons, going through cutscenes, traveling through the world map, and doing one of the few sidequests. In the towns, you get to explore the shops, talk with countless NPCs, playing minigames like a card game named Speed in certain location. In the shops, its has the usual items like healing, equipment, and most important on some shops are the Gear parts needed to upgrade your Gear. In most towns, there are some items that are easy to miss, and some are important in getting a better item later on in the game. The world map also like your usual RPG map with random encounters, traveling by walking or using any sort of transportation you get later in the game.

In the dungeons, you travel through out until reaching a certain part of the dungeon after doing a few objectives among the way. The dungeons are huge with puzzles in the mix that makes it some parts straightforward or tedious at times. You have a compass at the bottom right of the screen showing which is north, south, west, and east where your at. There’s two types of dungeons, the ones with just human characters, the other uses gears to get around. Like some RPGs of that era, this has random encounters that might not be liked, not to mention that the rate can be high at some areas making it kind of annoying.

Now I get into the jumping and the camera aspects. You can jump anytime you want in towns and dungeons. The dungeons has platforms to jump through to progress deeper. This works fine mostly, but has an annoying flaw. When you jump, you still have a chance of a random encounter appearing. Right as you about to jump or even during a jump, it doesn't register as the screen changes to the battle. This is annoying since if that happens as you jump, you fall meaning you have to go all the way back to do that jump. On the camera, you can rotate it around to get a feel of where you at. It also works fine upset at some moments, the camera doesn't help on getting the right angle somewhere that can be confusing especially when planning that good jump on some certain locations.

There are two types of battles, the human fights and the gear fights. The human battles use a active time battle system. Like any battle system, you get the usual commands to attack, defend, using items, ether(magic attacks or chi in this game), and escape. You also get other commands like combos and calling out your gear in any case. Unlike other battles systems, you get to chose three different types of attacks. The first is the weak attack , the second called strong attacks, and the third called fierce attacks. These attacks cost AP which you might use when thinking of a combo. To get more points, you can cancel your attack anytime like if you have four AP and used weak attack. You have three points left since you cancel your attack. To use combos, you must learn any deathblows as possible. Deathblows are important as they do a lot of damage and plays a huge role in gear fights. You can learn deathblows by choosing random attack patterns until it shows up on the status with a percentage on how close you are on learning it. In a way you spam deathblows a lot since they do a lot of damage, but its actually fun. It’s fun on trying out different combos and the difficulty is about just right. Some bosses can be rough, but with updating equipment, gears, and leveling up, it wouldn't be a issue.

The gear fights plays out similar to the human fights. You get three type of attacks, special options, ether attacks, and items. If you learn deathblows, you can use a gear version of any deathblows you known to deal out damage. To use deathblows, you have to attack once to increase your attack power. Once its at a certain level, you now can use any deathblow you know at that level and it resets back. A huge difference between both styles is that most actions by gears consume fuel. The gears fights focuses of choosing your moves wisely or you run out of fuel. Thankfully there are ways to recover fuel. One is using the charge option in battle to recover some bit of fuel. Second is finding a recovery bot somewhere in any dungeon. Another huge difference is the equipment setup, you need to buy lots of equipment to update your gear’s power and defenses. Like in human fights, they are status effects so you might consider which one to build a resistance for. In the end like human fights, you spam the heck out of deathblows to deal damage with fuel to consider. I have to admit, I have fun using the gears. There’s something fun about using gears when crashing small enemies with one attack and battling a boss. It’s straightforward, but at least the combat isn’t tedious and boring to do.

Okay now let’s talk about the infamous last one-third of “Xenogears” or in other words, disk two. To talk about it without spoiling anything, here’s how the overall setting is like. You see a character seating on a chair telling us what happens, basically a summary of key events with a picture of that event on screen. Sometimes, you get to experience a small part of that event usually a boss, a dungeon or a key moment. Even the world map is nonexistent until you have access to the final dungeon. On the positive side, this part has a lot of really juicy story elements that may redeem this, and the pacing moves quicker compared to disk one. The negatives aside from less gameplay is not being able to fully experience these events. At times, I really wanted to explore the key areas, but can’t. Another negative is some of the more tedious dungeons are present in disk two that aren't fun to go through.

The reason from what I heard on why disk two came to be is due to budget cuts and time issues. Others say Square cut funding on Xenogears to focus on the development of Final Fantasy VIII, and other say something else. This part is one reason that really depends on the player’s preference as the gameplay style changes, and things are rushed to finish the game before the deadline. I can see why people may not like this while I did like the story parts of it. There are some parts that bothered me like the dungeon bits and the not experiencing the full event. I must really wonder what the game could be like if the whole budget thing didn't happen, could be interesting. On a bright side, at least they didn't straight out cancel the game during development.

Lastly on the visual side, the visuals looked good for its time. At times, it can look blocky, but it at least works. The locations looks good, the gears are detailed, and the character animation looks fine. Unlike other RPGs of that time, this has full motion anime cutscenes during key moments. The animation does its job and the voices in the dub at least decent, but the lip sync is awful. At times, the mouth moves with no talking at first, and then talks quickly to end with the mouth still moving despite there’s no voice. The lip sync can be decent at times, but some scenes it's very noticeable that it takes you out of that moment.

Overall “Xenogears” is really one of its kind that really depends on the gamer’s view on a gameplay and story standpoint. People that enjoy really good stories would like this. People who valves gameplay over story may not like this. Personally this game is really interesting. Yes, there are noticeable flaws that I won’t deny, however it was one heck of a experience. The story really made me consider my past actions and motives behind them, and I learn a pretty powerful lesson I can’t mention since it spoils the whole game. If you interested for a different experience, this might be the game for you.

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A Tale Not To Miss

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 22 May 2013 01:28 (A review of Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch: Wizard's Edition)

I will admit that I enjoy the tiny bits of life. I appreciate the feeling of the wind’s breeze, the unpredictable shapes and sizes of the clouds, the tiny random things that happens everyday, and the variety of any hobby you're into. It really keeps everything from being boring and dull. That’s what this game is. It is a joy filled game with a well made story, and most of all, gameplay with content among with tiny details that is fun to play that gets you into completing it as possible. This is Level 5 and Studio Ghibli’s “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch”. Also, I’m going to do some comparisons on this and the Japan only DS version that came out in 2010.

The story still has the same core as the DS version does. In the fictional town of Motorville, Oliver with his friend Phil try out a car that Phil made himself. However things go horribly wrong as the car goes out of control crashing into the water with Oliver inside. Fortunately his mother made it there before it’s too late to rescue Oliver. Then she dies from a heart attack the next day devastating Oliver. For the next three days, Oliver mourns on his lost remembering the times between him and his mother. His tears fell on a doll that was given to him by his mother which transforms naturally freaking Oliver out. This doll reveals himself to be a fairy named Drippy who was forced on being a doll by a spell. He offers Oliver to go into Another World to save the land from the executor Shadar who steals emotions from people’s hearts, and bans magic so no one can stand against him. Oliver at first refuses until he finds out that there’s a way to save his mom. In both worlds, each person has two sides that are connected like soulmates. Oliver’s mom happens to be the great sage Alicia in Another World who try to stand up against Shadar. However she got trapped so if Oliver frees Alicia from Shadar, his mother in the real world might come back to life. Oliver accepts this chance so after finding a book called the Wizard’s Companion, and a stick with at least some magic within. He cast the gateway spell to head into Another World.

Here’s there the differences are noticeable story-wise in both versions. In the PS3 version a new antagonist is introduced called the White Witch who tampers with the car to kill Oliver so he doesn't live as he’s the chosen one who will save Another World, while the DS version never had that character. Another character that appears only to Oliver named Pea who helps him out at certain moments never appeared in the DS version. Even the locations are new for this version like some were taken away from the DS version. For example, one place I won’t name due to spoiler reasons you get to explore in the DS version, while Shadar destroys it in the PS3 version.

Thankfully the story in both versions are well made to the point that you swear that Studio Ghibli wrote this. But the writers at Level 5 actually wrote this surprising. It very feels like a game version of Studio Ghibli’s work. It has all the imagination on the locations, the Familiars, themes, and the overall feel. Yes the saving the world plot has been done in so many games, but here its done rather well here, believable, and it never insults your intelligence. Granted the ending could have been better since they have everything all set, but it missed a chance for abit more closure at the end. But at least it felt like something Studio Ghibli would do in their films. Heck even the things about the game’s logic makes the player question things like in the movies where it won’t apply in real life or people acting unrealistically in a situation. For instance, no one in Motorville has any problem with a kid wearing out of place clothes, while talking to himself since people can’t see magic. No one questions his long absence especially the school Oliver apparently goes to that was mentioned earlier. There's even one point where he uses magic to break into a house to see one character, than that character’s parents came in apparently having no problem with this kid that just broke into their house.

Speaking of characters, they are likable here with each one has their own personality and voice that fits in the environment of Ni no Kuni. In Oliver’s case, he is a kind, respectful, and caring kid who wants to see his mom again willing to go to a new world to take down Shadar. While the whole “Chosen One” thing has been done before in many games, it's done well here as we see him grow in both gameplay and story wise. At first, he was nervous when facing an enemy. Then after getting used to everything, he’s more determined through his dialogue during and after the battle. Thankfully the dubbing is done well. Each voice adds a sense of believably to their world. Drippy’s voice is one where his welsh accent is very convincing that he’s a fairy. Each one never falls into that so bad it’s good type like some localizations end up. The villains did a really good job especially Shadar’s voice actor who nailed the sinister side of the character.

Before I get into the gameplay on Familiars, the towns and fields, I will talk about the battle system and the Familiars. In the DS Version, its plays as a turn based system with the usual commands. You could move down a section of the gird for more defense, the top for attack power, or to avoid an attack. Anytime if your allies died or want to switch, you can switch back with another anytime you want. In the PS3 version, you still have the commands, but you can move around freely with your AI controlled friends. When sending your Familiars out, you have to watch the timer or else they become weak due to not being charged back to its usual self. Any time in battle, you could switch to another member to use any specific Familiars or switched because one died on you. Than you have the option to change the tactics of each AI members which is quite needed. One problem with the AIs is that they tend to waste up their MP as fast as they can which is inconvenience when you want to save up for a boss fight. Another issue is that they never use any defend option at all which makes thing a bit annoying in the ⅓ of the game until getting a option. Thankfully these are minor and it never gets in the way of the engaging battles that honestly never gets old and adds in the fun factor.

On the Familiars, the Pokemon like creatures in the game are what you get to help you out. To capture them, you have to keep battling them until randomly, you have a chance to play a song that gets them to join you. While the DS version, each Familiar had its own stats, HP and MP. The PS3 version took out the HP/MP stat and had it pretty much share the HP/MP of the main characters. Each Familiar is able to equip weapons, items, tricks/special attacks set to improve their combats skills, and possibly cover any weaknesses a specific Familiar has. If this sounded simple at first, there's more to it. Each Familiar has a different style like Milites tend to be warriors for instance. Another thing on Familiars is that each one has a different sign that plays a part on their performance in battle. Familiars with the Sun sign are strong against the Moon, Moon strong against the Stars, Stars strong over the Sun. These signs also have twin versions with effects like their sole version and play out the same way. However the rare Planet sign is strong against the other signs with Twin Planet as its king ruling above all others.

Lastly Familiars also evolve from battling and feeding it specific treats to improve its stats, they evolve by using a gem that there's sign. However after evolving they go back to level 1 so you have to be careful during battles until it’s ready for any part. Here’s where the feeding part loss some potential. In the DS version, You not only feed them, but you can play with them, pet them, and brush them. But the PS3 version just went with the feeding part instead which is a shame since the aspects of petting, and playing with them made the Familiars stood out from anything similar to them, and add a sense of immersion to them. Thankfully, the Familiars never come off of being a Pokemon ripoff at any point and its fun to experiment with many different types.

Another thing "Ni no Kuni" does well is on the content side. Not only you have the Familiars to try out, you have a numbers of areas in the world map to explore. In each town, you have side quests where its the usual “kill this, collect this item, etc”. Than you have this type of quest where you heal the brokenhearted by taking out a emotion from other healthy people. Each quest rewards you with money, items, and stamps to use to get a really useful award from doing quests. If you don’t want to do quests, there are other things to do. Each part of the world map has hidden treasure chests you can collect. There’s a casino you could play when you’re feeling the mood to do so. Want to mix items up for the heck of it? You can when you get a Cauldron where you use formulas or just experiment to get that one great item. After beating the game, you get to compete in a Colosseum like place facing against others.

If that’s still not enough, you get to read through the Wizard’s Companion in game which contains every spell, item, Familiar, background information on areas, short stories connected to the game’s events, and even has a made up alphabet called Nazcaan which you use in certain times. This book really adds to the depth of their world, and useful for a number of things. You actually use it when casting spells, looking up Nazcaan, looking at any Familiars you’re interested in, or solving anything that’s connected to the book. It really connects you into their world overall.

On the final aspects, I have to say that visually, its beautiful to look at. Each area looks different with many details in mind. It even had me just moving the camera around just to see the details before exploring more. The style really suits the game and really has that feeling of being in a world created by the minds of Studio Ghibli. Lastly the soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi is really good. Each track suits the areas, and it really captures the emotions during moments and the exploring feel to it during the world map. The score combined with the hand-drawn scenes really makes moments really powerful.

Overall “Ni no Kuni” is really a game worth checking out. A lot of its aspects while parts of it flawed are still made it a fun RPG to play . While the PS3 version extended from what the DS version came up with, both are worthwhile to get if you ask me. People who enjoy Studio Ghibli’s films, and those who enjoy RPGs will like this. People not fans of RPGs or the childlike feel to this may not like it. Nevertheless I highly recommend this.

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So Much Potential But Misused

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 19 March 2013 11:17 (A review of .hack//LINK: Zettai Houi Pack [Japan Import])

The .hack series is kind of like a slice of cheesecake, the type that keeps me in it’s spell even after I finished the piece. You just want that experience again and again. The series really nailed the concept of playing a MMO within a game being realistic in having aspects that makes a MMO like a forums to visit, email, quests to take, and teaming up to beat monsters. The stories are done well in the mysterious aspect of finding out the key aspects of “The World” with characters you care about and learn about them. Music wise, this series always has a rather odd aura to it that adds to the obsession that is .hack. While the gameplay may have it’s questionable aspects to it but it remains at least fun and adds to the experience. However some aspects in any movies, books, and games may be done well while other aspects just suck to the point of not caring. That’s this game, it would've been good, but it really suffers on one aspect that made me felt sick of it. The currently Japan only title .hack//link.

The plot revolves on Tokio a gamer who has an odd dream since he was a kid of saving a princess and her words as the dream end. He wanted to get the new version of “The World” but he didn't get a pass needed for it. At class there is a new student named Saika who happens to look like the princess in his dream. Saika who takes Tokio to the roof than with a black disc, she spends him into “The World”. Tokio lands there the worst time possible since a battle is going on between a mysterious hacker named Fluegel from the group Schicksal and Kite from Twilight Knights. Kite than sacrifice himself to save Tokio from the hacker by his gun that transform Kite into crystal like state. Tokio was able to get out and ended up on a ship called the Grand Whale. He see Saika and agrees to help her on getting to the top the Akashic Records, restoring the timeline of past data and it’s members to take down the hacker group Schicksal.

The story turns out surprisingly well while it goes through every sort of .hack event up to this game. It manages to be interesting and fans will be pleased to see all kinds of characters that made it to this game. Tokio I didn't think of much but I like that he grew from the events around him and you really see his growth throughout the game. The past games and anime they cover may be predictable plot wise but it manages to be interesting with different takes of event that doesn't get stale. While they did it well on the story side, but how about the gameplay?

On the dungeon aspect of the gameplay, you simply go through the rooms to the boss room to beat it and getting the bonuses at the end. Like in Phantasy Star Zero, you travel to the end of one room than loads to the next one. At times you partner may ask you to do something, if you agree and it works. Than it increases your bond with that partner and more chances of his/her giving you a item sometimes. In combat each enemy has a bar you have to keep attacking until it breaks for what I call the a juggle beat the crap out of it type system. After getting rid of the enemy's bar, you and your partner go to a phase where you push the enemy up to the air so your partner attacks it. Than the enemy will be send back to you to attack it back to your partner to continue the combo. You do this until the enemy is dead, or good a decent amount of damage to any boss sending it to the wall. As you continue the combos, you gain points by pressing at the correct moment to get some or none. You need these points at max to do a special move called Cross Rengeki. In this you watch you and your partner beat the living crap out of anything while pressing a button at times to increase your bond with each other. While you can’t skip it and have to see it everything. It didn't bother me that much and on the bright side. The controls are at least manageable as in nothing special, but works and it's easy to play despite in Japanese. Despite the positives, the game has one fatal flaw that amazes me.

What is this fatal flaw you may ask? On the battle system I mention where you juggle the crap out of an enemy to damage their HP. That is all you do from the beginning to the very end of this game. You have to do this at every single enemy and boss and the only way to destroy their HP since doing just normal attacks will do very little until you overpowered. You know what else that makes it so much better? The dungeons often repeats itself and it’s really a shame. The .hack always has this potential to have amazing looking areas due to the whole concept of “The World” but it doesn’t dives right into it’s own potential. It also doesn’t help that enemies and even bosses often repeated as well. All of these aspects gets so old very quickly and get too boring for the game’s own good, especially that this game takes about 30 to 60 hours to beat. I can’t count on so many times I felt bored out of my mind and I came really close of not finishing it. But I did finished it not because of the story or music. Just to get it over well since it’s very tedious.There is no reason for making this so boring to play. Hell even doing a drinking game on the Kingdom Hearts series is more fun and varied than this. Joking aside, my point is that it’s good to have variety of content in games so if you want to do something else instead of going through the main game. You have this choice to play bonus areas, minigames, or something that adds to the excitement that make games fun to play. Than in the main story mode, you have other choices of moves, equipment, and objectives to give you motivation to continue. This content helps keep the gameplay from getting stale and it increases the replay value of any game. Even the older .hack games have other content that you could do. Like in the original series, you could feed a pet to ride on and to do races. You also get to play around with equipment with different spells to it which adds customization potential to tap into in your team of choice. If you don’t want to do that, you could look at the news and forums to see the discussion people started offline. Than in the GU series, you could level up your guild, do side quests from NPCs, ride a bike, and even battling at the arena. Again during “offline” you are able to look at the forums, news, videos, and listening to music. If these games before this title can do it, why not this?

While I talked on the dungeon aspect of the gameplay, how are the other content? Well there’s not even a decent amount of content that can save it from the already train wreck of a battle system. On the towns standpoint, fans may be disappointed that you can’t explore the towns or trade with players anymore. I can understand from a perspective since it’s on the PSP but I won’t lie that it took the magic away of exploring that made the MMO aspect work on the series. Instead you are able to go to a shop for items,and such. Other places you could see are for story reasons so it’s nothing special. On the base of the Grand Whale, you are able to check your emails, and go through different time periods. You get to chose optional ones that expands on the past .hack manga and other works for non story content if you’re interested enough. Unfortunately the replay value here is non existent as the periods you can’t go back. It just have the cutscenes of events that happen during it. Another thing to check is the shop for customization items to add to your character for a somewhat amusing look. From what I can gather, you can set up something with the team members on board to set up some abilities to level up during the game. Than you have the others shops that sells expansion, wallpapers and BGM(background music) to listen to.

Speaking of the music, thankfully it’s one of the few things that this game excels on. Chikayo Fukuda composed new music mixed with older tracks from the past anime and games creating a pleasant soundtrack that shows how far the series got musically and the choices fits the cutscenes thankfully. The sounds are done well, catchy, and the vocals is very pleasant to listen to in usual .hack style. Strangely the music helped out through the gameplay of feeling somewhat invested in that aspect. It excites you when a special story event boss appears, and you want to beat it in a timely fashion with the music perfectly synced at that moment. It also adds to the impact of a critical plot event in the cutscene creating motivation needed in playing this.

I don’t know what happened to this game. It could have been good, the story is well done, the music is excellent, and the ideas it had for gameplay could have worked. However it really suffers from the lack of any exciting gameplay filled with repeating areas, enemies,and bosses. It felt boring to the point that you don’t have any motivation to care despite the positive things about the game. The addiction that’s around this series mixed with the gameplay, music and concept, that makes it so interesting isn't here. All I felt was just complete boredom from this mess. I don’t really recommend this to anyone but if you are curious enough and have a Japanese PSN account. There is a free demo to try out if you want a small taste of it. Now I really hope the most recently title “.hack Versus” is better.

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Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 9 February 2013 05:03 (A review of Pokemon Green Version)

Back in the mid-nineties and the beginning 2000s, Pokemon was a huge craze taking the whole world by storm. However what part of the series that made it so huge worldwide? Could it be the cards, the hit anime, movies, or the countless controversies grabbing headlines while some are debatable nonsensical. The part of the series that made it their in the market is the games themselves. In a quick summary of Red and Blue, while graphic wise isn't the best, and the story is not exactly deep as in the standards of the other notable RPGs of the mid-nineties. The reason in my opinion on what made the series worthwhile is the premise of getting all Pokemon to be the best trainer in the world and the gameplay both work together to make a very worthwhile experience to millions of gamers and still doing so nowadays. However the versions everywhere not Japan got first which is Red and Blue aren't actually the “first” versions. In 1996 Pokemon or Pocket Monsters in it’s Japanese name release in Japan with the title versions “Red” and “Green”. After it’s first release, the development team worked on a third version that improved the graphics, Pokemon sprites and other changes called Blue. For it’s first release overseas, they used the Japanese version of Blue as a basic of Red and Blue with Green ending up staying in Japan. Despite it’s Japan only status, is it still worthwhile to import, I would say yes it is.

The plot remains the same between the Japanese and English versions of the Gen 1 games. You start off at Pallet Town as a ten year old boy who’s ready to become a Pokemon trainer. After running into Professor Oak in the wild grass, both heads back to his lab where he gives you a choice of one of the three Pokemon available. You chose your own while your rival who wants to be the strongest Pokemon trainer in the world chose his own. After doing an errand in the nearby town. You get your own Pokedex which records any Pokemon you encounter. The moment you get the Pokedex shows you are ready to head to your journey in the region of Kanto to be a Pokemon Master while dealing with ordeals from an organization called Team Rocket. Again the story is very simple compared to other RPG’s of it’s time that anyone looking for a good story may be disappointed in this but however. It’s the gameplay that makes the series strong.

Gameplay wise, you travel around the Kanto region through towns, caves, and oceans to head to the 8 gyms. After you beat all the gyms, you’re ready to face the Elite Four to become the strongest. To be ready it’s necessary to have a team of six Pokemon of different types caught in the wild or got from a trade. One place of very importance is the Pokemon Center where you have the option to not only heal your battle wary Pokemon but have access to the PC to switch Pokemon around from your party and out. The actual battles are turn based type battles where you chose 4 or less moves you current Pokemon knows to attack or using stats involving moves to beat your opponent which depends on your own Pokemon’s stats to survive. Here’s there I realize a huge thing that makes the games worthwhile is the element of surprise it has. Any location has a few or more different Pokemon in the wild that adds to the variety of Pokemon between versions. In these routes, you may find countless trainers eager to face you or finding a hidden item that happens to be in the ground. Even in the towns, you may find worthwhile places to visit like a casino like place, and a museum with fossil Pokemon. Also the items in the market shops in each town changes as you progress through Kanto. The element of surprise combined with the battle system, and the countless Pokemon you can choose from at make that ideal team mix into a compelling addiction that’s very satisfying and adds a great amount of replay value even after beating the game especially with a link cable to connect with friends to finish up your Pokedex. Graphic wise it may not be the best but they work for what it is on the Gameboy. Honestly it actually interesting to me seeing the different sprites of each Pokemon of what it used to be like before the sprites afterwards we know of today. Sound and music wise, pretty much the same compared to both Japanese and the English versions and it’s on the memorable side adding to the obsession.

Now let’s talk about the Import Friendliness of this game since it’s in Japanese. It’s between the so-so and not bad section as it goes. It’s not hard knowing where to go next especially if you are familiar to the series. However the moves and the items are the problem since you may not know which is which and you may let’s say accidentally used an item you've not suppose to use or forget a move you wanted to keep in the first place and now have a move you don’t want. It can be quite annoying but at the bright side of things. Sites like Serebii have detailed information of the items, every Pokemon and their movesets, and TMs making things convenient. Overall it’s at least easier to play then the DS version of Ni no Kuni due to the Physical Book needed to play that game.

Overall even in Japanese, it’s still fun to play, has that addicting charm to it, and conveniently cheap to get considering how pricey importing can be. Recommended.

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Surprising Pleasant!

Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 9 December 2012 02:29 (A review of Solatorobo: Red the Hunter)

Does this case ever happen to anyone like you brought one game that you just happen to see in a store and for so reason. You didn't played it for awhile, then you start to feel more interested from looking at it’s cover. Lastly the last straw appear when you look up info or a track on it and you said to yourself “This is what I missed for awhile? I got to play this now.” This happen to me when I got this game with Pokemon Black 2 back two months ago, than a week ago finally playing it for the first time. I regret not playing it earlier but I’m glad I did play this game called Solatorobo Red the Hunter. It is part of the lesser known series called Little Tail Bronx whose first game was called Tail Concerto a cult classic on the PS1 from what I heard. Originally Concerto was going to get a sequel but never got the green light due to poor sales, but however after 7 years after Concerto came out with CyberConnect2 wanted to continue the series. They finally got the thumbs up to start another game which this game was born in 3 years of development. Before I start, I haven’t played Tail Concerto so I can’t compare it to Solatorobo to talk about its similarities and differences.

At the sky of floating Islands in the Shepherd Republic where it’s populated by dog like people called Caninu and cat like people called Felineko. Our main character an Caninu named Red a optimistic hunter who’s on a mission to get important files from a huge ship called the Hindenburg. After beating anything in his path and getting the papers, he also finds a medallion. However events get more chaotic when a giant titan like monster appear out of the bottom of the sky damaging the ship big time. Before escaping he also takes a Felineko child that passed out in the ship. Red and his sister Chocolat put the child in one of the bed in their ship while heading to Airedale to report back. They told what happen but they didn't get paid due to the files being burned during escaping. After doing a random quest to earn rings, you learn that the Felineko child name is Elh who ask about the medallion. Elh looks at the medallion to find that its already activated due to Red touching the center of it back at the Hindenburg. Afterward the Island is being attacked by mysterious creatures which Elh calls them Shades. After taking the one commanding all of the Shades. Elh tells Red that they after the medallion and they came out of the giant from earlier called Lares. Elh then makes a deal with Red to have him help Elh out on sealing Lares for a billion rings.

At the many Islands in the sky, you are able to interact with the NPC’s in town while accepting a quest from the Quest Broker to complete. These quests revolved around helping out a certain character or someone else with a task like competing in a contest, racing, saving people from someone and other types. Quests are very important to do not because of earning rings, but most of them are for increasing your hunter rank. The higher your rank is the more quests you can do like lets say you at rank 5 and it means you can do quests from rank 1 to rank 5 until you increase your rank to 6. Not all quests offer points to level your rank up and some of repeatable after completing them. At every Island, there is a parts shop to buy parts for you robot to customize the stats you want. Another shop at the first Island in the game lets you buy cutscenes after you see a specific one during the main story to view at your ship. At your ship, you have the option to head to the other locations your unlock so far, customize your robot if you like while you could customize even during battle, check where to go next, or head to the cabin. At the cabin you can check the library to learn more of the universe of the Republic and it’s history. To unlock more content for each subject in the library, you have to do a certain action when you play like you need to get tons of rings to read more content for culture and another one needs you to break tons of things to learn more of it’s lifestyle. Lastly there options to watch the cutscenes you brought, photo to look at, and composing music which you need to find music notes around the world to listen to any piece.

In customizing, you see a grid like system where you set any part for a certain stat for any slots you have. To unlock more slots, you use P crystals you find during your journey to have more room for what you have in mind. The stats in question are attack, defense, hydraulics that increase the speed of lifting enemies for quicker action, mobility for more movement and revive just in case you die and if you do the part dissolves after you check it during battle. Later in the game, you get more customization on your robot and the rest I can’t mention in this review due to spoilers.

In the gameplay and controls, moving around is self-explanatory using the D pad. The A button in non battle mode is used for a action if you find a switch or open a treasure chest if Red is off the robot. B button is used for jumping or tackling to shun a enemy battle wise. The Y button is for Red to get off his robot to move around to search for anything in the ground like rings or P crystals, and has a stun gun to stun any enemies to get away when he’s not in his robot. During a battle you can grab an enemy at front or behind to give you an advantage and repeatedly tap the A button to lift it up to throw it to the ground for damage. You can also do a mid air combo where you jump after lifting it and throw it right to the ground. Another thing to note that you can also grab anything that the enemy fires at you and you can throw it back at them. However there also different parts to play other than running in a robot. Some moments let you fly in a map. After jumping, you move forward to set it in flying mode with the option to do a spin around to move faster but you need to watch the gauge and if it reach zero you fall down which sends you back to where you last land until of dying. It restore when you land in a small platform to continue flying. Speaking of flying, there also a racing mode that has the usual commands like ascending or descending by down and up respectively, L and R buttons are used to turn where it needed to keep up, and pressing B to gain more speed in a boost until you lose what you collected from random energy balls in the course. Lastly others mode are crab fishing where you follow the commands from the top screen and the mine segments where you jump to dodge anything upcoming and garb any box that might have anything inside it.

Now lets dive into the good and bad aspects of this. I will give the game this, it has a really nice atmosphere to it. Solatorobo has this joyful feel to it that silently takes you into their world when you’re playing it for the first time and I couldn't stop playing it after the first day. It also helps quite alot that the overall story while having its cliche moments is well thought out with interesting characters, background information on their world from looking at the library and some interesting twists to throw one unguarded during their play through. It also helps that on visuals wise, it looks pretty good with each location looking different and interesting to the eye with really neat looking 3D cutscenes to watch with some animated FMVs in the openings. The gameplay isn't perfect and those looking for a challenging game will be disappointed because this is on the easy side and puzzle wise the normal cutscene straight out tell you what to do without you think about it at all. Despite that it oddly work in a way that I have fun toying around with your enemy and it never annoyed me about the easy side of the game throughout but however this still might turn off the person wanting to play this. The flying works in both in a map/ racing type, and the crab fishing is neat time to kill then not doing any quests. Thankfully the controls works while one point it felt odd using the D pad when you are trying to move perfectly during a time limited non flying race in one of the quest which you need to make the most of the time you given. I also wish they could've added more to customizing your robot like different weapons to use while still having the option to grab and throw them to add different tides to the table in battle. Lastly the music by .hack composer Chikayo Fukuda is pretty good with memorable themes and it get bonus point to the opening and ending song. Explaining why these songs are good won’t do these justice so I post the link of the opening song at the end of the review if you are interested to take a look on.

Overall while there are flaws that might ruin it depending on the POV of the person playing it. It works oddly thanks to a surprising neat story, a great atmosphere to it, fun characters, and the music making a good impression. Definitely give this one a shot if you are interested about this or want a play an interesting game on the DS.

The song from the opening with link below.
[Link removed - login to see]

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Come out Persona! *headshot*

Posted : 11 years, 7 months ago on 26 October 2012 10:40 (A review of Persona 3)

High school is pretty much a love it or not like it to anyone. I thought it went well in my case while it does have it’s hard times with exams and homework. However what if you went to a high school where you have to be social to level up a special link which lets you power up your Personas which you summon by using a special type of gun to shoot yourself to use it’s skills/spells against enemies in a huge tower at a dark hour. Has that type of concept caught your eye? When welcome to the world of Persona 3. For those who don’t know, the Persona series is a side series part of the main series called Shin Megami Tensei where in the games you have to negotiate with countless demons to join your team while dealing with odd situations. The series started with it's first Japan only game called Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei released for the NES while later titles on the main and different side series released in different consoles some of the more recent titles finally released to other parts of the world.

The plot has our main character just getting to his location at Port Island while he feels something is off walking to the dorm he’s staying in. At the dorm you were greeted by a mysterious person giving him a contract about something he looks at and signs it. He goes to school the next day getting use to everything while meeting the other people at his dorm. At night the chairman of the school board Shuji Ikutsuki and two other people Mitsuru Kirijo and Yukari Takeba are watching over him due to his potential of having a Persona. A Persona is another soul that is in your body that releases when the person is facing a very odd ordeal. There the only one to combat the creatures called Shadows that are around the area during the Dark Hour. The Dark Hour is an odd time at midnight where only people that have the potential to summon a Persona can see while a normal person will be in a coffin unaware of anything going on. One evening a huge Shadow attacks the dorm. Yukari wakes the MC up and gives him a weapon to defend himself. At the rooftop they ran into it. The MC picks a special type of gun called the evoker. He pulls the trigger that summons his Persona to defeat the Shadow. He passes out and awakens in a room called The Velvet Room in his mind. He encounters a strange person called Igor that provides some interesting words and you find out that you have an ability to have more than one Persona and can switch them anytime as you please. After waking up in a hospital since the attack. He joins the group with Yukari, and Mitsuru called SEEDS to take Shadows down at a huge tower called Tartarus.

During the day, you head to school unless it’s a holiday or summon vacation day. One thing that is important is to increase your everyday stats like charm, courage, and knowledge that can help you out in the social links. A way to increase your stats is answering questions at random times from the teacher, staying awake at school and other hobbies like seeing a type of movie. An extremely important routine to do is the social link. You have to create as much as possible as joining a club, or talking to certain people getting to know them to level up that one link. When you level up your link to one person. That one class for persona can get a bonus EXP when you fuse to one that you have a link to that one Persona class at The Velvet Room. After school, you have the choice to go somewhere else like the mall, Port Island, the Naganaki Shrine and other places to hang out or raise stats. Once you head back to the dorm it turns to evening, you have the choice to sleep, study, or go to Tartarus for grinding.

At the main door to the tower, you get to choose your teammates depending on their condition. If you rest well, your battle stats will increase due to your condition. If one of the characters or you are tried or sick, your or their stats will decrease and you will have a hard time at a battles until you leave Tratarus. You also have access to The Velvet Room or in the mall during the day. At that room, you can take requests to do a single objective. After you have finished it, you get a reward. The biggest feature is fusing two or more Personas to make one powerful Persona. You need to think about this as well because the newly fused persona gets the other offering’s skills/spells so you need to consider what skills you like to have to survive the floors of the tower. You could also buy Personas you once had for a fee. At the floors, you explore the tower looking for the next floors to a boss floor until you reach a dead-end for now until you unlock it for story reasons. Also there is a wrap point where you switch floors from the recent one back to the main door. You are able to combat shadows or avoid them. If you hit them first, you get the advantage to attack first. However if the shadows attack you first than they go first instead of you. This game has a turn based combat you can choose you usual attack, defend, item, escape with also the option to choose another Persona for that turn, wait for the next turn, and tactics to give to your AI controlled teammates. At battle using the enemies weakness to your advantage is very important since it knocks the enemy off the ground giving you an extra turn or if all enemies are knocked out, you can all-out attack for more damage. One thing to watch out is the status ailments, one could mess you up in battle unless you heal it before it’s too late.

Now on to the good and the bad aspects of this game. The concept is really interesting exploring to a huge tower at night fighting shadows by summoning Personas by using a evoker while in the beginning of the day being social and dealing with high school everyday. A concept like that grabs your attention and gets you very interested. The story is done really well with very developed characters from your dorm and at school. You get to know each one’s motives, past, and other facts about them while seeing them grow during the game making you root for them and want them to go for what they like to do and there final decision later on. The battle system is engaging to get into with countless personas to customize to be ready for anything and having a strategy feel with the weaknesses, and much more. There is two minor things I didn't get is the whole if the MC dies in battle, game over. It didn't make any sense since your party members might have items to heal and not to mention, one even has a spell to revive someone in battle so I wonder why they do nothing after you are down. Lastly the AI on your teammates can have their dumb moments like an enemy cast a repel spell on a certain element and one of your guys cast that element it repels back to you damaging or killing you. I revive that person and that same person does that last command again until you change his tactics to prevent that person from that. The music is pretty catchy with tunes that be stuck in you head for a while. Content wise, this has a really good amount of it with personas to collect, many social links to choose from, a random dungeon you unlock later and new game plus to play after beating it the first time. I didn't mind it but this aspect someone may not mind or some may not like a lot because there is a very noticeable repetitive nature of the game because of doing the same route of going to high school, hanging out with people, and grinding at night on a tower that floors like the same aside some background differences on another block.

Overall with some minor things and one aspect that may ruin it for some. Persona 3 is one game you should try out with its concept, story, and the really good amount of content to try out. I highly recommend this.

On a random side note, am I not the only one to find Jack Frost to be adorable?

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"Welcome to The World"

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 20 October 2012 12:20 (A review of .hack//G.U. vol. 1//Rebirth)

The .hack series didn't started with the original 4 games. There was an anime set before the events of the 4 games in the first series called .hack SIGN which was a hit for the time. After the first series of .hack were released to mixed reviews, there was a manga/anime series after the events of the first game series called .hack//Legend of the Twilight. Then in 2008, the new game series set years later the events of the first series, and "Legend of the Twilight" anime released in the US and Japan in 2006 called .hack//GU Rebirth with the other two games release in 2007.

This time a new version of “The World” came out since the last version had it’s data destroyed in a mysterious fire at CC Corp. Our main character Haseo logs in for the first time to meet two random people at the main gate who wants to help him out get used in The World. Haseo joins their party and head to a level 1 field. They teach Haseo the aspects of The World while completing the objective. At the last room where the treasure is, they attacked Haseo revealing themselves to be player killers or PKs who attack low-level players. They were about to finish him off but a mysterious guy named Ovan took both of the PKs out and saved him. Months later, Haseo is now famous/infamous for being a Player killer killer or PKK that got him the nickname “The Terror of Death”. He gets a message from Ovan one day to meet him in an random area. Ovan tells him that Tri-Edge, a mysterious person that PKs people and send the real players to comas is heading back to a church like area. Haseo searches for him ever since he PK’d one of his best friends named Shino. Haseo heads to the spot he is going to show up. Tri-Edge shows up and his appearance is like a zombie like version of Kite from the first .hack series. However Tri-Edge was able to handle any attack from Haseo and data drained him with all of his emails, weapons gone and his level went back to one. He logs back in and finds out about this affect. He gets involved to two other players that are in a guild and at the treasure room. The party almost got PK’d by two PKers that Haseo defeated in the past. He was saved by a woman named Pi who tells him that their's a dangerous power growing inside him.

Like in the first .hack series, you can check up your desktop for emails that continues the story, you can send them to whoever have you on your friend list and you could send a greeting card asking a question that increase affection between you and your friend which you might get better deals for trading. The News makes a return and now you can play short animated movies about them. Also new is a card mini game called Crimson VS but it's isn't playable in this volume. Like any online game, there is a forum with sub forums to post, The sub forums are pretty much one on rumors, “The World” board, news board, and a art one called Apkallu where you download wallpaper for your desktop. Lastly you have a movie player which plays any of the events that you unlocked during the game, and you have the options to change your settings as you like. At the log in screen before you play, you could check on the official site where you could look up information about “The World” and it’s history. Theirs an official forum where you look up on recent posts about the game.

At the town or server you go to. You could go to one of the many shops that sells items, equipment, spells used for only once, scroll to learn the spell to use anytime you like, materials to customize your equipment for affects like adding a fire element to your attack, and EXP up 10%, and later on steam bike parts to customize your steam bike. New in this game is being in a guild for story reasons called the @Home you are able to go to. At the @Home, you can talk to your guild’s grunty to check up your progress on the Book of 1000 that tracks on what you do during the game which unlock BGM, wallpapers, movies, greeting cards and such. Also new is the quest counter, you get to chose one and each one give different rewards and some you be in a party or solo. You can only choose one until you completed it. When you are ready to go to an area, you send an invite to the members that are on. At the chaos gate, you can choose random area words to make an area, or make you own in your choice. The ones you get from emails, quests, and forums will show up in bookmarks. Lastly you can check the wrap history and can switch to another town if you like. At the other root town is the arena where you compete with other players in story or in survival mode and limit battle. In an arena battle, the one that defeats the leader in the party first wins the round.

In the field, the objective depends on the areas words you use like it could be find three items to open the treasure room, defeat a boss, or go in a dungeon until whatever floor has the treasure room. One thing to know that it’s important to collect Chim spheres you use to open certain doors of the area. Also you encounter lucky animals where once you kicked them. You get an effect depending on which one you kicked. To encounter enemies, you can run into them or do a surprise attack on them. Unlike the first .hack series where you can attack once, this is a beat them up action role-playing type battle system where you do many attacks on the enemies. You only have two weapons choices, the twin blades where you attack countless times and the broadsword where you do one attack and a hold button to a follow up power up attack. Another attack you have the option to called skills trigger where you press R1 to chose 4 skills of the weapon you have on now to do more damage while costing SP. If you damage the enemy enough to see a bluish ring around it when you are able to perform a Rengeki that’s more powered up skill and you get bonus EXP each time you perform it. Lastly if you do good actions that helps out the team or do rengeki’s, it increases the morale level and once it’s filled up completely, you could perform a Awakening mode to use a different strength in battle. There are two awakenings you could use, one is beast awakening where your power and speed increases and you just beat up on the enemies until the morale is depleted. The other mode demon awakening where all three of you and your teammates use powerful spells at the same time by pressing the X button rapidly.

I would mention the names in this aspect but I can’t give it away because it’s a major part in the plot but in this different type of battles. You move around and you are able to dash to the enemy or away from its attacks. You can fire energy balls that if you hit a good bunch to it, then it be shunned for you to attack doing more damage. At a certain part during the battle, you have to hit all of the buttons at the same time to not get a lot of damage. Finally once you have the enemy’s HP down, you have to fire a certain skill for about a minute to end the battle unless time goes out and the enemy gets some health back.

Now to the good aspects, like the first .hack series, this does a really good job on making you feel like you’re on a computer checking the emails, news, forums, and such and playing “The World”. There is a good amount of content to play with the quests, the forums post that triggers an event, the arena, and increasing your progress with the Book of 1000. Now to the story, as it went since this is the first volume and there is two volumes after this is surprising good. There are some aspects that people may not like, the characters are fun to see with amusing moments while some of the characters you may don’t care for and it may not help that Haseo comes out as a jerk during this. In my opinion in the case of Haseo, yes he is a jerk but you see growth during the events, you see his soft side sometimes and I started to like him for his character growth through out the game. The music is fine on the most part fitting at the moments the game matters the most while some tracks are forgettable like the battle theme. The gameplay while in my opinion doesn't have the same intensity as the first series, however it’s still fun beating up monsters and being in the arena and it’s helps that the series still have a addicting feel to it that gets you into it and you won’t escape it for a while. Now for the bad, like the first series, it can be repetitive at times checking the emails routine, and the battles. It also doesn't help that there’s not much variety to the areas in the game. It’s abit disappointing seeing that it a game like this, it has a lot of potential to have some really interesting places and it didn't go that far it to take it.

Overall, this is a good start for volume one with a good amount of content to it, the story gets you into ‘The World, battle system fun to play. Now in my opinion of this series, I prefer this to the first series because of the new content and I have to give them credit that in volumes 2 and 3. There are noticeable changes in some of its aspects that surprise me considering that the first series didn't changed a lot in the volumes. If you like the first series, you may like it. If you don’t like repetitive games, you may not like it. I would say give this one a shot and see if “The World” gets you into the .hack addiction.

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The Whole New World Reborned

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 26 September 2012 02:21 (A review of Phantasy Star Online 2)

I remember back in 2002 watching a trailer for Phantasy Star Online Ep 1&2 for the Gamecube on a promotion DVD I think was from Nintendo Power. I remember it from my point of view as a kid being amazed by the music. Later as years went by, I forgot about the game’s existence and the music that amazed me when I was a kid. Until at the very beginning of this year, I was looking at the CWCki a wiki on Chris Chan(the Sonichu guy). I was reading about the insane craziest things about him in pure curiosity. Than reading his Mumble 6 chat, someone in the chat mention a game that somehow reminded me of something back in my childhood. I did a Google search and watch a trailer on it. I just smiled finally remembered the game. The next day, I ordered the game at ebay soon as possible. I got it days later. While I can’t comment on it’s online, it can be repetitive, and the story isn’t anything deep. There was something about it that have me keep going back to it during this year. Liking the game, later at June/July I got Phantasy Star Zero for the DS and then looking at Operation Rainfall’s website. I found out that Phantasy Star Online 2 is being release soon. I check at many sites about the game finding that it’s free to play and it could be possible playing on my PC. So I ended up downloading it from the SEGA site and once it finally finished installing. I logged in and saw the opening title and just smiled entering this new world.

I can’t comment on the story since it’s in Japanese as of now but from what I gather from some sites and from seeing the cutscenes at the story missions. You and other races are on these ships called Arks that are exploring the unknown regions of galaxies for the adventure valve and for some for building towns in these planets. However monsters appear and you also with other NPCs have to stop them.

When you first start the game, you chose what ship you want to be on and later on if you want. You can switch to another ship with a fee to play to do so. After choosing a ship, you get to customize your character choosing a race each one plays differently. After choosing your race and class, you chose on making whatever you want on your character and you’re ready to go.

At the lobby, you get to chat to other people in the server choosing commands like invites, chatting and other features. You are able to go to different blocks which depends on how many people are playing as some are not busy while others are packed. There are many types shops to get items, armor parts, clothes, weapons, powering up weapons with a new ability, and your room items that cost “AC” which you get for special items from pretty much your real money. Like in Phantasy Star Portable, you are able to switch classes anytime you want in the lobby each at level 1 at start. After doing certain objectives, you get your own Mag which you can give it any items which increases certain stats based on the item. Once at a level it evolves and it gets auto command like it may fire a beam at a enemy. Also it lets you use a Photon Blast which depends on what you give to it. One of the many things to do for grinding is completing clients orders from NPCs which you get from doing the other quests, leveling up, and unlocking areas. Some may be kill this 10 times, or get certain amounts of items, or do a timed mission while getting S rank. You are able to accept all of them at the same time. Any client orders from Koffee near the quest counter is very important to complete since these unlock your first Mag, other features, and areas. To unlock the story missions, you have to complete objectives from the Matter Board that are those orange orbs in the pages. The objectives for some are finding this tablets at certain areas, a gold drop from enemies, or talking to a NPC at the lobby. You earn weapons, armor, and unlocking storyline events for doing them. At the Quest Counter, you accept missions while some missions are available for a limited time which are the grinding bits you take advantage of. Looking at your selected mission, you can take normal or hard mode depending if you complete the order to get hard mode. You are able to set rules to you quest for let’s say only your teammates are allowed to join or something like that. Finally you are able to join on someone’s party at any quest there at.

At the lobby like room before you take your mission. You have access to buy some quick items before you go, your storage, and the missions which you could change at anytime before you start. You have the option to inviting one of the NPC you met to help out. The area you end up at, you go through the randomly generated maps and you are able to see any players that are in the field at that time. Like in Phantasy Star Portable, you’re able to switch weapons that your class can use at any time. Each weapon/spell has a art that uses PP and as you slash your weapon at enemies, the PP recovers for next use. During the missions you may encounter a random emergency code at any time where you have to do a objective like kill 9 enemies, collecting a number of items for opening this door for exp.You have the option of seeing a tablets where you see a random NPC in the field talking to you. Once you completed the mission, you head back to the lobby room and you get a rank depending on how well you do and the number of enemies you killed.

Now to the good, this game is alot of fun to play. It is downright addictive playing at the areas with others, helping others, and even if you don’t know any Japanese at all. The people I encountered on the most part are really nice. The controls on the keyboard/mouse standpoint since I don’t have the gamepad controller for this game are very good and it feels natural and not forced. For those worried about the Japanese text since it’s not in English, the really good thing is that this game is very straightforward on what to do and there is a fan translation to help you out understand parts of the game. The replay valve is definitely here with switchable classes, client orders, and friends to be with, lots to do. Lastly there is a good amount of customization on your character being able to change his height, eye color and such. On the bad side, the grinding can be tedious at times especially getting to a certain level where it take a good amount of time getting to that one level to unlock a feature. Quests and client orders can also be tedious at times due for some being timed and you have to get S rank. It doesn’t help that sometimes doing a timed mission, a emergency code might appear and you have to rush it since it’s natural that when you are in a rush, you have to go and it just a pain in the neck to do.

Overall if you liked the first Phantasy Star Online, you going to like this. People that don’t like alot for grinding may not like this. This is alot of fun with endless replay, good controls, very straightforward for those worried on the Japanese text, a neat community to be with, and new content heading out soon. I recommend this to Phantasy Star fans, MMO fans, and PC gamers.

*Note: Whatever you do, don’t put Chris Chan on Google search, you be better off not knowing about that.*

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Just Bad

Posted : 11 years, 9 months ago on 17 September 2012 12:45 (A review of Rock 'n' Roll Adventures)

Since the Wii is coming to an end and with the WiiU heading to store at 11/19 this year. My final thoughts on the Wii is it’s fun to play with friends, there are a couple of really good games on it, it has it has alot of potential but it didn’t go well due to sales after 2008, Nintendo not being good on the localization part, and have bad games like Ninjabread Man and this one I'll be talking about. Like Breadman, this is also made by Data Design Interactive so this is not really a good start but who knows, maybe this won’t be as bad as Ninjabread Man right?

Like Breadman, this doesn’t have a story aside the one on the case which is pretty much monster are invading the land of music and you have to stop them.

The gameplay has you collect 8 discs to get the teleporter to work. To attack you swing the Wii remote to use your weapon. Jumping requires you to shake the nunchuck or press the Z button to get through most places in the games. Also jumping at enemies may kill them in a few hits. You also have a projective attack which the more times it hit, it gets more powerful. There are acouple modes other than the normal main mode. You have the Score Pickups mode where you have to pick up a number of items with the 8 disks to get to the next level. Another mode is the Time Attack which is self explanatory. Lastly you have the Hidden Pickups where you have to get 20 items throughout the level to get the teleporter to work.

For the ones that played Ninjabread Man, you might be wondering why this game sounds familiar to Breadman. Well because this is pretty much the same game upset the setting is changed.

This is a picture from Breadman.

Than a picture of this.

It still have the godawful motion controls that barely work which doesn’t help that you try to attack but you can’t while enemies are murdering the heck out of you. Not to mention the jumping is worst since you need to jump alot, the controls doesn’t help and the game lie to you on the Z button again. Both games and the manuels never mention the Z button’s use at all. The level design is on the bland side, not interesting or fun to see the environments and nothing in it stands out. All of this make this game just tedious to play. On the bright side, it is short like the other one so you have to deal with it in only 30 minutes.

Overall this is just a bad game that shows that Data Design doesn’t even try to make something decent here and just copy one of their other games. I wasn't mad as much I was with Ninjabread Man but I don’t recommend this. Well I think another good thing is these games might make for some good motivational posters that are around the Internet.

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Posted : 11 years, 9 months ago on 15 September 2012 09:54 (A review of Phantasy Star Portable)

I am not going to lie about this that I have a weird case then to repetitive games. I am aware that they are but I still enjoy them also for their other aspects. For example I can see why Persona 3 can be like that since you go to a tower that has alot of floor, the backgrounds change barely and not to mention the daily routine of the social links. However I really enjoy it for the concept, story is really neat, the social links draws you more into the game, and the battles are fun to play with countless Personas to collect. Another one is the .hack series, it’s definitely repetitive and it doesn’t help that the areas are about the same upset for the environments but I found it have an engaging story, nice illusion of playing a MMO, and I find the gameplay to be addicting. Why am I mentioning this? Well this game tested me on repetitive in games and this is the first game I regret playing.

The plot has our character( which you create into anything you like) join the GUARDIANS and your first task is to discover the mystery of some machines that went loose. A CAST named Vivienne joins you in this mission. During the mission you found this woman called Helga which your party thinks she made the machines loose. There has been attacks over sites around the galaxy that may be related to this. You and Vivienne go to the other systems searching for Helga, while having allies that help you in your path and finding why these recent events are happening.

If you have data of this from the demo, you are able to send the save data to the game. At character creation, you can pick on what race you want to be if you want to be a human, newman, cast, or a beast and customize your own character. At one of the sites you are on, you are able to shop at the many stores for your items, weapons, armor, add ons to your equipment, more clothing for you character, and a update shop to power up. A feature at the GUARDIANS Colony is the room where your robot/parent is there. At your room, you are able to take or put items into storage, game achievements when you a title playing through this and you earn items as well. It also serves as a dressing room to change your appearance or your robot’s parts. Also at GUARDIANS, you head to their headquarters often for details on the next missions and assigning your teammates.There are two types of missions, the story missions that are self explanatory, and the free missions that each one can be repeated and there are other levels you can do for that mission for more items.

At the field, you are able to switch your weapons and items by using the action palette for quick access. Every weapon has a different effect to any enemies depending of the element of your weapon, it may do some big damage or not much damage. Each place usual go about 2-4 tiers which you defeat a certain enemy or a boss. At each place before a boss, you are giving the choice of healing yourself at a device or using a PP device to restore your weapon’s PP. Each type of weapon have a photon art which can be linked to your weapon for a powerful attack which can be leveled up the more time you use the art.

At this point, I wasn’t able to go online to try out the online features, when I do. I will add it on here.

For the good and the bad of this. In the good, it does have a nice selection to customize your character. You are able to switch weapons for different uses which is nice and the ability to switch classes is also a good addition. The voice acting in the story is decent on the most part while their was one I swear sounded bored during this. The game is fun to play for a few hours. Now for the bad, the story isn’t anything special and it can be boring at parts. A minor complaint is there is noticeable lag during the single player mode as it’s start to slow down due to the enemies on the screen. Now for my big complaint that kills this game for me is how it gets way too boring. It has a repetitive feel that is very noticeable in the gameplay. The difficulty is easy on the most part as you could spam the crap out of you photon art and also the only parts that are hard is some bosses and the final boss. The music is their but it is forgettable on the most part aside from the catchy theme song when you put the game in the PSP. It doesn’t help at all that the missions are the same objective, just kill this one enemy. Seriously, why can’t there be other missions you don’t have that objective. At least the quests in PSO doesn’t involved to just killing things. Some you have to find things, and some you have to help this random person out at a certain area for something. This makes the gameplay feel very old and just tedious to play that their were a good amount of times I wanted to turn the game off. Now let’s get into the AI of your teammates, it is horrible. There were times I was attacking and they just stood there or moved but did nothing and they die easily. Sometimes they even get stucked at a pathway for no reason. For lockon wise, why can’t spells count for targeting? You have to fire at it randomly on the area hoping that it hits.

Overall if you like Phantasy Star Online or Universe, you may like this. For those are doubtful they is a demo to check out if you are interested. Honestly, this can be a fun game to play but the overall feel of repetitiveness kills this for me with other issues making this a mediocre game and this is coming from a guy that like games like the ones I mention on the first paragraph. It may be best to do a rental on this.

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