Thursday, December 31, 2009

Now Playing - "How can you transform into something so sexy?"

Now that I have a few less games on my plate, I am trying to put some more time into Final Fantasy VI Advance which I think I am getting nearish the end (probably about 5 or 10 hours away.) I've just got past a kinda frustrating bit in the story where I need to go around getting everyone back in the party. You'll know where I mean probably if you've played the game.

Now I'm just getting some of the Espers and grinding up my characters, but I've lost patience with it slightly-there is quite a bit of grinding to do to get all your characters sufficient in enough of the spells, which I want them to be before I go to the end game stages. A lot of my characters have no magic whatsoever and are a good 10 or 20 levels lower than my main party...so I think I've quite a bit to do.

I'm still really enjoying FFVI, once I beat it that'll be just FFIX, X and XII to beat in my Final Fantasy Challenge before XIII comes out in early March.

Final Fantasy I

Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy XII

Also, since I last wrote one of these Now Playing posts, I got and played Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Its a really gorgeous looking game, and one that I was looking forward to for ages since I played Odin Sphere. I bought it just after Christmas and finished it a couple days after starting it. Its not long, but its a really cool game. I'd recommend it! I might do a review of it at some point, since it is one of the Wii games I really enjoyed, despite a few minor annoyances or flaws.

I also finished off Final Fantasy VIII, the ending was pretty damn cool once I eventually got past the awesomeness that is Griever, he wiped me out a couple times with Shockwave Pulsar or whatever it is called. I was gripped till the end, cos I ended up fighting the final stage with just Rinoa and Zell and the music is awesome, it kept me on edge!

It says I'm also playing Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Warrior Monsters as well, but I haven't really touched them at all for a while. I'll need to rectify that I guess.

Since I never really explain the quotes I pull out of games, music, movies or tv that I choose for these Now Playing posts, I thought I would for this one for a change. It is a quote from Kisuke from Muramasa: The Demon Blade describing Yuzuruha(sp?), the Kitsune from his story. Pic above, the one with the parasol thing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recent Purchases #3 ~ Christmas games

I thought I'd do a quick roundup and talk a little bit about some of the games I got given, or bought with the money I was given over Christmas in a 'Christmassy' edition of this not-very-regular column of mine, Recent Purchases.

Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (Xbox 360)

I've been wanting to play this for ages, like since it came out and never really got the game. So when I heard there was going to be a 'goty' edition released, I thought I'd wait for that. In fact, it kind of dropped off my radar for a couple months, so I don't know when it actually got released, but thought it would be one of the games I'd ask for. (I purposefully tried not to ask for many games cos I've got so many still to beat)

Definitely looking forward to playing this quite extensive edition of the game, with 5 of the DLC packs.

Castlevania: Judgment (Wii) My bro knows I love Castlevania games, so got this for me. So far I've just tried a couple battles in a few of the modes. I'm liking what I've played so far, apart from the graphics looking a bit odd and fuzzy, and some bizarre character designs by Takeshi Obata of Death Note fame. But the uniqueness and extravagance of these characters kinda interests me. They are like different takes on the original characters. There are some cool features in this game, like the wifi multiplayer options (I have no idea what it is involved) and the DS connectivity with Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, which I just ordered the other day.

Okami (Wii) 

I've wanted this game for ages, so was quite happy when my bro got me it for Christmas. It looks amazing, and I've heard really good things about it. Still not had a chance to start it. (I don't like playing too many games at one time, so my preference for RPGs causes me to get through games REALLY slowly lol)

Pikmin (Wii)

I loved this game when I played it on the Gamecube what seems like ages ago...I think it was the first Gamecube game we got. I think its pretty short, so I'll take a look at this soon when I get a chance. Along with Okami, think my bro might be playing one of them at the moment, so I'll finish off a couple of the games I'm playing first.


Alone in the Dark (360)

I've not played any of this series before, but having watched my brother play this a bit (its a shared present) I saw that the game has a few nice ideas, like the fire, but the camera angles seem a bit annoying at times, one aspect I think plagues these kind of games (then again, I have a limited experience of them)

I reckoned my Wii was a bit neglected, so when I got it back from my brother just before Christmas and set it up on my new TV I got for Christmas, I decided to buy these other Wii games:

Little King's Story (Wii)


Still not started this, but it got some really good criticism on RPGamer and a lot of other sites and it is pretty hard to find where I stay, so when I saw it in the shops, I picked it up just after Christmas along with..

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

This game is really cool, its very like Odin Sphere, which kinda makes sense seeing as how it is also by Vanillaware. Its a very short game, I beat it in around 15 or 16 hours for both stories in the game, Kisuke's and Momohime's. Its really well drawn graphically, I love 2D stuff when it is done well. There is a fair amount of backtracking and because the enemies aren't very common, a lot of the time you will be running through empty areas, albeit very impressive ones graphically. It has a similar system to Odin Sphere, with the forging of swords. You get Spirit for eating food, and with the souls you get from beating enemies, or collecting in the areas (like Rings in Sonic or something), you can Forge more powerful swords. There are 108, and I only got around 70 or so, so I think there is quite a bit of replayability, and a few different endings depending on what swords you have equipped at the end. Its a really cool game, but if there was a bit more variability and maybe a bit longer it would have impressed me even more. I mean its good, but I think I preferred Odin Sphere slightly.



And now, I've just bought Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and the sequel on the PS2, because I saw someone on Backloggery playing them, decided to watch a couple Let's Play videos and then got that wave of Nostalgia, so picked them both up on ebay for less than £6.50 inc shipping! Soul Reaver only cost me £1.15! :D They should be on their way in the post soon, and I'll definitely look forward to playing them again.

I also finally decided to pick up Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, as it is the last metroidvania game I need to play post Symphony of the Night. Some people have given it amazing reviews, even saying it is the best Castlevania! Wow, I'll have to wait and see.

I'm running out of stuff to say, so I'll leave it at that for now. I'll be talking a bit more about the games I've been playing(and beating! :D) over Christmas next.

Seasons Greetings!


I hope you have all been having a good holiday season, and have a good new year. I'll be posting more in the next few weeks, but I'm enjoying chilling out for now :P

Monday, December 21, 2009

2010 Previews.

Its almost Christmas time, so were are nearly in 2010 now. There have been a LOT of decent games announced for next year, so I'll be doing a brief roundup of them, talking a bit about the ones that interest me most and perhaps doing some analysing, speculating and whatnot, with the games in no particular order.

Xbox 360

I think the 360 is still way ahead of the PS3 in terms of decent games at the moment, as well as value for money for the actual console. Sure, the PS3 has a Blu-ray player built in, but I still prefer the 360. Will that change with 2010's game releases? Will I be tempted to buy a PS3, will I play my 360 more than I currently do? (which is not a lot)

There are a lot of good games announced for 2010 on the big home consoles at the moment.

Mass Effect 2-I really am looking forward to this, perhaps more than FFXIII, because the first game in this trilogy really blew me away. Sure it had flaws, like the textures issues, the relatively bland planets you could explore(I still enjoyed the whole experience), perhaps the controls in battle, and the AI being stupid. A lot of these issues are apparantely being addressed in the 2nd game. They have also added an amazing cast to the game, with a lot of well known actors and actresses.  I just kinda hope we don't get this boxart in the UK, I think it looks ugly and badly designed. There is always the special edition actually, I might pick that up.

Mass Effect 2@Gamespot

Final Fantasy XIII- As a fan of the series since FFVIII came out, and since then I have gone on to play most of the games and really like them, I am definitely interested to see what the latest outing will be like. So far it has got good reviews, the controversial (?) 39/40 review from Famitsu has been much discussed online. It has sold a lot of copies so far, over 1 million copies on the first day! So that bodes well, hopefully it doesn't dissapoint because it has surely been one of the most hyped games all year. 

Defintely looks amazing. Screenshots@RPGamer

Official FFXIII site

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow-I am really interested in playing this one. Hopefully they don't make it too simplistic with the actiony/3rd person look. I still want a lot of the influences in there from the old school platformers and the metroidvania games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. With Hideo Kojima on board though, and a great cast of voice actors-Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle, I reckon this will not dissapoint. 

Official Lords of Shadow site

Bayonetta-I'm not convinced this is going to be as good as people keep saying, still I do think some of the scenes look amazing, like the bit where you are fighting on a clock tower which is falling through the sky. Thats pretty freakin cool =p

Other stuff; Bioshock 2(also on PS3), Splinter Cell Conviction(also on PS3), No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise, Darksiders, Dante's Inferno(also on PS3), Fable 3(the 2nd was average, but had massive flaws and shortcomings in my opinion)

Darksiders Trailer-I reckon this, along with Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno will dissapoint me. I'm not hugely into the ol' Devil May Cry clones.

Kotaku's 360 preview

Playstation 3

I won't really say much about the PS3 titles because I don't have one and don't know an awful lot about the games that are coming out. What I do know however, is that a few of the RPGs coming  out look awesome. 

3D Dot Game Heroes is one of them. Man, I love the old school references in here. And look at the graphical style! 

White Knight Chronicles is an RPG coming out from Level 5(who brought us the Professor Layton games and Dark Cloud games.) It came out quite a while ago in Japan and received average reviews(a 29/40 from Famitsu.) I'll want to check this one out if I ever get a PS3, some of the mecha-ish designs look really cool. See the concept art below.

Some other major PS3 titles that really need to sell well to help out the PS3 hardware/software sales: Heavy Rain, God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIV Online, Dead Space 2(also on 360), Super Street Fighter IV(also on 360), Lost Planet 2(also on 360)-I really have no desire to play the last one, I never got into the first game.

Kotaku's PS3 preview

Wii

The Wii is still one system I've really not put much time into, I dunno why. Sometimes the controls in games are unresponsive and you end up failing something for no real fault of your own, sometimes the batteries die at an unconvenient time, or maybe its just the library of games that are on it that puts me off. There are a couple of games currently though that I really want to play, and just haven't really had a chance-Super Mario Galaxy, of which there is a 2nd on the way, Okami, which I've heard amazing things about(and must play before Okamiden comes out on the DS), No More Heroes(which I have), Endless Ocean, Little King's Story..I could go on to the Multitude of Virtual Console games, but I am getting sidetracked. Anyway, my point is, will there be some games released next year to really get me into the Wii, thats what I am wondering.

 

So what is coming out for the Wii?

The major titles from what I can tell are Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M, I haven't played the first Galaxy (maybe like 5 or 10 mins at most), but really want to play more of it, it looks amazing. I don't know an awful lot about Metroid: Other M, but for Metroid fans, its another good thing after the collection released on the Wii this year.

For me, there are a couple games that I am most looking forward to on the Wii. Arc Rise Fantasia is an RPG coming from imageepoch and Marvelous entertainment, with quite a lot of guests helping develop the game, like the game's director Kenichi Yoshida, who worked on some amazing series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Turn A Gundam, Wolf's Rain, Planetes and quite a few movies like Princess Mononoke. A few of the staff from the Namco Tales studio as well are working on this game. It looks amazing visually

Arc Rise Fantasia@IGN

Arc Rise Fantasia@RPGamer

So what else is there? Red Steel 2? Hm, my expectations for this one certaintly aren't too great based on the first one. Extremely linear levels and unresponsive controls plagued the first game in my opinion. And what the hell was with the holding your gun upside down? =/

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle-should be good if they don't screw up too much, I've heard amazing things about the first game, and I will get around to playing it before the 2nd is released hopefully.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon-a postapocalyptic RPG outing from Tri-Crescendo, of Eternal Sonata, Baten Kaitos. This one looks to me like it could be hit or miss, it seems they are going to be mashing a couple of influences from survival horror, with flashlight controls and adventure into an rpg. The producer does state that it won't be a survival horror, but this one definitely intrigues me, I am looking forward to it.

Kotaku's Wii preview

Nintendo DS

My favourite console so far in this generation has a great deal of awesome looking games coming out this year.

Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver- Woot! I am obsessed about pokemon games and always seem to pick up the newest releases. I haven't played Platinum that much seeing as how it is so similar to Diamond(which I played the hell out of) and have quite a lot of other games to get through, but Pokemon Silver, Gold and Crystal were many people's favourite Pokemon games and these remakes should definitely go down well.

Ninokuni: The Another World-this one is pencilled in for a Japanese release in 2010, but so far nothing has been announced for the US or PAL regions. One can hope though, as this is a Studio Ghibli-Level 5 collaboration and has a lot of people seriously wanting this to get translated.

Golden Sun DS-I really enjoyed the GBA games all those years ago, and it seems our prayers for a sequel have been answered. This one might not make it over here in 2010, but all the same, I thought I'd include it as it's one of my most anticipated DS games. It will feature characters that are descended from those in the original games apparantely. And I've heard some things about GBA game support. Maybe transferring of data? Or maybe just some bonuses when you have a game in your GBA slot while playing like in the Pokemon 3rd/4th gen games and Knights in the Knightmare with Yggdra Union.


Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky-I'm not entirely sure of the name we will be getting, but Square Enix have been working on this one so it can come out some time around FFXIII's release in 2010. Its already out in Japan and sold a HUGE amount of copies, as DQ games always seem to over there. It will have 4 player multiplayer options, but it had no Wi-Fi multiplayer option when released in Japan. It will be interesting to see if anything is changed as it gets localised for optimised success in our western culture.

Okamiden-This one looks pretty cool, the very first time I saw gameplay footage of Okami a few years ago, I thought "I hope this is on DS", in fact I thought it was on DS, which surely would have been the perfect platform. Or the Wii. This second game will bring the franchise to the DS and I'm definitely intrigued to see what it will be like. I must play the first game before this one hits, I've heard so many good things about it. Just need to shell out for it when I see the Wii version.

Final Fantasy Gaiden: Four Warriors of Light-I kinda doubt that this one will make it over here in 2010, but who knows. I really like the cute Final Fantasy III DS-esque graphics, and the class system looks unusual. It looks like they are trying something new, but with the roots and influences clearly in the early Final Fantasy games.

Infinite Space-I don't know much at all about this game, it has kinda gone unnoticed on my radar for some reason, but if the cutscenes shown in the trailer are anything to go by, this should be rather cool. It will fit a bit of a niche on the DS, there aren't enough sci-fi style RPGs in my opinion.

Infinite Space@Eurogamer

Some other games to come out next year: Phantasy Star ZeroShin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and I'm hoping some of the American releases from the past year come over here, some of the RPGs I was looking to get: The Dark Spire, Hero's Saga Laevatein Tactics, A Witch's Tale, Nostalgia (despite the latter two receiving poor-average reviews)

Kotaku's DS preview

PSP

Valkyria Chronicles II-This is much anticipated by fans of the PS3 game, I can't say much about it other than it will be out some time in 2010. The first game is apparantely amazing, having got a lot of attention from RPG gamers this year. Its one I must play if, or when I do get a PS3.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker-this one has a lot of people interested, as a sequel to MGS 3, and with multiplayer options apparantely. I amn't hugely experienced when it comes to the series, so I can't really comment on it too much.

Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake-I thought the PS3 downloadable title looked awesome, who knows what this one will be like. Hopefully good.

Pocketgamer's 10 most anticipated 2010 PSP releases

Eurogamer's 2010 release dates

For some more upcoming RPGs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now Playing - "Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll...I'll be your knight."

Final Fantasy VIII


"I'll be waiting for you. If you come here, you'll find me. I promise."

I've put quite a bit more time into FFVIII now that I've finished uni for the christmas break and I'm fairly far through disc 3 (I think.) Hm, I can't get spoiler tags on here, so I'll try not to potentially ruin the story for people. [I know its an old game, but now with the PSN release, people who never beat it might be currently playing it. Plus, I hate getting stories spoiled.] I'm starting to get more into it now, as I've got a bit of freedom to go around picking stuff up that I missed, and just stocking up on my items, magic and getting more GFs. I just got Cactuar, so now I just need a few more. (I really doubt I'll go for Doomtrain its a lot of hassle and I might have actually missed my chance, because I didnt get that ring you need anyway) 

And the story is starting to get really involving and emotional, which is keeping me playing. So I'm kinda getting over the annoyances of the draw and junction system now that I've got more options to make my characters strong, and my overall opinion of the game is looking a little more positive. 

1 Tent makes 10 Curagas? Thats an awesome deal, I refined a bunch of them on the Ragnarok to help against those goddamn aliens. Got 100 for Squall and Rinoa and junctioned em up to my HP to raise them through the roof compared to what I had with Life or Ultima equipped.

I'm also working on getting the abilities on Tonberry to make shopping more lucrative so I can try and get unlimited money by buying Tents and Cottages and Refining them to Megapotions or whatever it is you get, and then selling them on for profit. Although I think I have more than enough money as it is. There isn't a whole lot you actually need to spend money on in this game is there?

Cactuar Island is pretty damn good for learning abilities, I've almost got all my GFs to learn all the different abilities, a few ones left on the later Guardian Forces. I got a bit bored though, and turned it off. I think I'll learn a few more and continue on with the story.

By the looks of it, theres a tonne more optional stuff to do that I haven't, so I'm not sure which things I will attempt. (I've already given up on getting all the cards, so I'm gonna mod the rare ones I did get at some point. 100 elixirs from Angelo? kthnx =D) I don't know if I can be bothered doing all the optional stuff, seeing as how my play time is already over 80 hours...(I fell asleep with it on twice or so)

Final Fantasy VI Advance

Still really enjoying this, but I've got to a bit in the game where the enemies are pretty damn strong. Its when you drop onto the floating continent, they seem way harder than anything I've fought before-Behemoths, Platinum Dragons, Misfits and a wierd one, its just called Dragon, and it back attacks me each time. When it wiped me out before, I didn't actually get a game over, although I might be wrong, I might not have noticed.

OK since then, I beat the incredibly badass Ultima Weapon and got off the floating continent. 

I think I'll be able to finish this if I put in another 10 or 20 hours, but I'm gonna try beat FFVIII first-I'm closer to the end in it.

Dragon Warrior Monsters

I'm still not too far into this(although I might be, I've just beaten the Bravery World.) I'm finding it a lot harder to level up compared to the 2nd game, and I need to breed some stronger monsters and raise them high enough for their stats and skills to be good enough to take on the next Arena battle. Grindy, as with a lot of Dragon Quest games, to be expected. I still haven't got my full level of patience with this yet. That usually comes when I put a fair bit of time into a game, and you need it on these games to keep rebreeding and strengthening mons.

Behold the awesomeness and hilariousness of the boxart. 10 year old GB games rule =p

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.

This is one game I've had my eye on for a month or two now, its set for release in the US some time next year from Atlus. Its currently out in Japan and some gamers and journalists have got their hands on the Japanese version and, by the looks of it, the English version. 

Here is some wiki-goodness about the game: link.

IGN have this preview on their site here.

RPGamer have a preview of the English version up now as well.

Official Site

The style looks very unusual, but the story really intrigues me.

I couldn't seem to find any English trailers yet, but maybe they aren't out yet. 

I've got a feeling the difficulty is gonna be quite tough and hardcore, as with quite a few of the SMT games ie. Nocturne or Lucifer's Call as it is known in the UK


IGN Games of the Year.

IGN have posted up some videos of their games of the year, as well as stuff on the website I think. 

I haven't played a lot of the games that were nominated or the winners, so I can't comment too much, but I still found a couple of them surprising. What do you think? Not many niche titles or RPGS T_T

IGN Xbox 360 Game of the Year

IGN PS3 Game of the Year

IGN Wii Game of the Year

IGN PC Game of the Year

IGN PSP Game of the Year

IGN DS Game of the Year

Now Playing - "Kneel before me!"

Still not had much time to play games, but when I did find time, I played a couple more hours on Final Fantasy VIII, getting to disc 3 finally, and decided to go looking for some of the optional stuff that I missed earlier ie. Tonberry and Odin. I never got these when I originally played the game, so checked up how to do so on a guide. Although I do remember hearing how to get Tonberry King to appear back in the day-kill 20 Tonberries. I am currently in the middle of doing that, I think I beat 7 so far. I managed to get Odin, with 35 seconds to spare lol >.<

I love the Tonberries, such an awesome enemy =p Tough lil critters!

I also played a bit more of Final Fantasy VI Advance. I got to the bit on Crescent Island after the burning house in Thamasa, I'm now heading for the mountains after that bit. So far, I'm really liking the Esper system for learning magic and getting stat gains, thats one aspect that I can see myself putting a lot of time into. I reckon I'll try and get all the spells, or as many as I can on a lot of my characters.

And I started up Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Game Boy, well continued on with the save I had. I'm around an hour and a half into it now, and here is my team of awesome.


Well to be honest, they aren't that awesome, I just have what I have got in the story so far, I've not got into the monster breeding yet. I don't think I'm quite at that stage yet even though I've unlocked the Starry Night thing ie ability to breed the monsters. Will need to put some more time into this when I get the chance.

Its quite an old game, and doesn't look particularly good, but the substance is there, from what I can tell. I played the hell out of the 2nd one, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's Adventure and I'd definitely recommend it if you like Monster collecting games like Pokemon, but not. You can get all the monsters in game, without having to go to Japan, or get 2 DSes and 4 or so seperate games. Saying, that, I do still love Pokemon games, and I've been playing a wee bit here and there of Pokemon Platinum, trying to put more dex entries in, but theres so many...its damn intimidating. 

Anyways, till next time! I'll be writing some reviews of FFVI Advance and FFVIII when I eventually beat them, and probably Dragon Warrior Monsters too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shadow of the Colossus Review


Ok, I thought I'd review this since it really impressed me recently. I eventually beat it after taking quite a while to play it (a couple months of on and off play) even though it is a relatively short game. It is quite a unique game and I've been thinking it could be a challenge to review in the same categories as I normally use. Anyway...

Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

This game was released not very long ago-Feb 2006 in PAL regions and a couple months earlier elsewhere. it was one of the later PS2 games to be released and I think many people missed out on it and it really deserves some more attention. It is quite an amazing game, with a few minor flaws.


Gameplay

The game plays like an action/adventure with a fair shake of adventuring(?) and platforming thrown in. Think Zelda crossed with Assassin's Creed perhaps. It is quite an unusual game in that the only enemies you fight are 16 colossi, which are essentially epic big boss battles where they are actually the stage you fight on for the most part. So for one thing, this makes the game relatively short. I finished the game in 12 and a half hours or so, but I don't think that counts the times I got killed and had to retry. Anyway, in my opinion the game time isn't really a negative point in that the game is very entertaining. Short, but sweet. There are some absolutely amazing fights in this game. 

Some of the issues I have with the game are the controls and the camera. At times the controls are unresponsive, for example-I was trying to switch to my bow at one point to take advantage of a weakness I had triggered in one of the colossi, pushing right or left on the PS2's D-pad to change weapons. I pushed the button at least 4 or 5 times and it still wouldn't change, or if it did, it skipped past the bow to the sword again. Frustrating as hell because it meant I had to do that bit over again. This wasn't the only time I had problems with the buttons, many times the main character would lose his grip even though I was holding on and had grip left in my meter. Now I'm not exactly sure, this could be mainly down to my unofficial [Patrick from Spongebob] PS2 controller being on it's last legs, but I'm sure at times it wasn't the hardware's fault. So I'll not take this into account too much. There are lots of options for remapping controls and camera as well, which is a good thing.

More than that though, the camera. I found this extremely annoying at times. The camera constantly tries to rotate back around to the default position. There were times that I would be running around the area and trying to manually move the camera so I could see not only where the colossus was, but what options I had in terms of the environment I was fighting it in. There is a button to automatically lock on to the colossus, and this definitely helps, but when you are trying not to die or fall off a ledge and simultaneously rotate the camera to see what options you have and it is moving itself back around, apparantely trying to kill you...it gets frustrating. One of the few flaws in the game, however not everyone notices it as much from what I've heard.

There are some amazing battles which double up as puzzles, because some of them are quite hard to find out how to beat. If you like well designed, screen filling bosses, then this will not dissapoint you.

There is a fair bit in terms of replayability as well, on beating the game for the first time you get access to Time Attack Mode and Hard Mode, and there are a few unlockables on your 2nd playthrough I think. Also first time round (and in any of the playthroughs) you can find secrets that will give you increased health and stamina gauges(like Zelda.) Apparantely there are fruit trees and lizards hidden around the world, I found one or two, but didnt realise their purpose till near the end, so just left them all for another game.

For such a simple game, you only have 2 weapons the whole game and only a couple of maneuvers at your disposal(rolls, jumps, gripping and shimmying) the things they have done with the simple palette of gameplay options is quite intriguing. Less is more-I think that effectively describes the succinctness of the game in many aspects.

Gameplay ~ 9/10

Story

The story is very 'read between the lines' and there has been much speculation and theorizing about the story, characters and ending on the internet. There is not a lot of dialogue, as you play the main character Wander, his only companion for the game being his horse Agro. The only dialogue present is really the clues coming after you beat each colossus, telling you of your next fight, and a bit at the end in a couple cutscenes. I mean, it is a very minimalistic, thin story, but I still find it very well done and effective. 

Essentially the story is that Wander, the protagonist has come to this land to try and save his lover (most likely, but it is not ever 100% said for sure how she relates to him) who is ill or dead (I'm not entirely sure.) The legends say that even the dead can be brought back if all the colossus of this land are slain-they can grant a wish. So with this legendary sword and bow in hand, he rides out with Mono on his horse, and comes across a massive, beautiful temple, which he leaves Mono in and this serves as the 'base' for the game. There are no towns or other NPCs in the game, I should add. So there is an immense feeling of loneliness throughout. Its really an amazing tale of how far one would go for their loved one, it can be very moving. So even though there is hardly any dialogue or story laid down explicitly for you, the implied story is quite amazing. Its very subtle and quite unique. I am only really marking it down since I think it would have benefited from more a bit more text, perhaps in the form of cutscenes, flashbacks or narration. Actually...that would probably weaken it. I like it as the minimalist piece of storytelling that it is. 

Story ~ 8/10

Characters

There is really not a lot to the characters, at times even their names do not seem important, it is all about the motives behind the actions of the main character, what lengths he would go to for Mono. This is made very clear and I think that is the only thing that we really need to know about the characters. Other than Wander, Mono and Agro, towards the end of the game we see a few other characters, and I'll not spoil anything for you, but very simple but strong characters in the game. Not an awful lot of growth, but still, I can't really fault the game too much. It is very different this game and I think all of the parts came together really strongly in the game. It is a work of art at times.

Characters ~ 7/10

Graphics

For a PS2 title, the game has very nice graphics, there are only a few times where some jaggy bits, bad textures etc. At times, I was really impressed with some of the lighting, as you ride into one of the valleys, the sun is streaming towards you over the landscape and it looks like you are riding across a heavenly plain.

The graphics are really well done, they have created this amazing game world which is on a huge scale for a game where you only fight 16 enemies. I mean, you could explore the world just to look at some of the areas-they really are nice. I found myself saying "wow" in my head a lot over the course of the game, it is such a nicely drawn game. My clumsy writing style doesn't do it justice, you should really play the game or have a look at some videos to get a better idea of just how nice looking it is.

Graphics ~ 9/10

Audio

Again, the game really tries to add to the starkness and bleakness of the world with the audio, and does so very well. As you wander the land, there is actually no music, this might sound strange but it is quite interesting. You are listening to the sound of your character, the horse, the wind whistling past and it adds a lot of atmosphere-it makes it feel even more lonely in a way.

When the music does kick in, it is mainly in the colossus battles, wherein stirring battle music plays, adding to the excitement and immersion (I like that word, don't know if its correctly used there though.)

By doing things in an experimental, different way, the developers have succeeded in adding to the game's most important facet, the atmosphere, with the audio, by making it as minimalist as possible. Here's a playlist link with the soundtrack on youtube: link

Audio ~ 10/10

A PS2 gem with only a few minor flaws and imperfections. A must play.

Overall ~ 9/10

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Awesome! =D





Yeah! If I ever get an office in the forseeable future, I must get this put on the door!







Also, Wtf is with this? Link


Mana Potions...

Hehehe, I found out about these the other week from an article on lusipurr.com I think, and for some strange reason decided to order some off ebay. I didn't exactly realise that the price i was paying was for 3, and not 6 (the ebay auction had 6 in the picture) so it was kinda disappointing, plus the bottles are tiny, but in a strange geeky way, they are quite awesome.

I can imagine playing games all night and drinking those to "bump" up my mana

Or not really, lol who the hell thought of these?


[Also, I'm working on the link list in the sidebar, its a bit of a work in progress]

Now Playing - "the sweet music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison!"

Not had much time to play games what with exams taking up most of my time... but here is what I am still playing =p

Final Fantasy VI Advance (GBA)

I only really played a couple more hours on this since the last time I posted, but I am really getting into it. The characters, music and story are really good so far. I haven't played this before and I'm starting to see what all the hype for this game is about.

I'm about 13 or so hours in now, after the Magitek Research Facility and the cutscenes in the Esper World, I  just got the 2 magicite stones from the Auction House...and I can't remember where I have to go next cos its a while since I last played *sigh* I'll have to check an FAQ...

Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)

I think I'm getting near the end of disc 2 now, I decided to go look for the optional GFs after going through Balamb and the Trabia Garden cutscenes, and forgot that you get sucked into a couple scenes and battles against the other garden...so I am now in the middle of the Galbadia Garden, maybe I'll go get Tonberry and Odin later on if I still have the chance..

Other than that, I've been trying to get my SEED rank higher, its 22 or 23 at the moment...I really don't like that you have to rely on that to get money, couldn't they give you money in battle as well? That would have made more sense..but then again there are a few ways to exploit things and get unlimited money.

Dragon Age: Origins (X360)

I haven't really had a chance to play much of DA this week, I've been concentrating on FFVI and FFVIII. Other than that, I put FFIX in the PS2 to check if it worked, but nothing much else played this week. Stupid exams meaning I have to study...Maybe something more interesting next time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random videos..

I kinda saw some of this stuff when I was revising my chemistry, for Solid State stuff

Also, randomly... In Japan, they get a smexy woman for McDonalds, what do we get? A freaky pedo clown...

Zombies! OMG!


Hehehe I found this rather awesome publication while looking for some revision stuff online.


http://www.mathstat.uottawa.ca/~rsmith/Zombies.pdf


I wonder if they were bored or something...I can't imagine writing an article like that and expecting anyone to take it seriously, or even expecting it to avoid ridicule. It is awesome though! =D

Monday, December 7, 2009

Final Fantasy V Advance Review


I mentioned a few times that I would be playing (and attempting to beat) the Final Fantasy games that I haven't finished before Final Fantasy XIII comes out in March 2010. This Final Fantasy Challenge has kind of inspired me to get back into the habit of writing reviews for some of the games I finish. So I think I am going to write some reviews for the Final Fantasy games. 

I recently finished Final Fantasy V Advance and this is what I will be reviewing first. (I might write a few more on FFVI and VIII onwards, but they might not happen for a while, since I must beat them first.)

 


Final Fantasy V Advance (GBA)

This is not the original form of the game, this remake was released in Japan in 2006. The original version was released on the Super Famicom in 1992, then the PS1 in 1998-2002. I haven't played the original versions, but from what I hear, there are only minor differences. I had a look back at some of the older reviews on the blog and they seem to have way too many unnecessary categories, so I will be condensing this one a fair bit, into the following areas: Gameplay, Story, Characters, Graphics and Audio.

Gameplay

This is where the game shines in my opinion, FFV has an extensive job system, with a total of 26 jobs to choose from in the FFV Advance version. If you liked FFIII's or Tactics' system, this is very similar, with each character able to choose 1 job and gain points towards mastering the job. Abilities are gained as progress is made, and can be put in a 2nd slot, so customisable characters are very easy to make. For example, you could have a Black Mage with a White Mage ability in the 2nd skill slot, meaning they could cast Black Magic and whatever level of White Magic they had got to as a White Mage. This was one aspect of the game that definitely kept me interested, there is definitely a lot of scope here for people to replay the game, or just put a lot of time into the game before they beat it. 

The battle system is the ATB-type Turn based battles that are in quite a few other Final Fantasy games(IV, VII etc.) It is fairly good, but a few of the minor flaws in the game became apparent to me fairly quickly. In battle, you can only see your current HP as a number, you can't see your maximum HP for each character, or the MP your characters are on unless you go into the spellcasting menus, then you can see the more detailed stats you might want. This is only really an annoyance, as you eventually get used to the game and you are able to judge the flow of things if you pay attention. So I mean, aesthetically, I would have preferred these things to be present, but this is only a minor flaw really. Otherwise, pretty solid gameplay overall. If you like Job systems, you have to play this, as it is surely one of the stronger job based rpgs, particularly FF games.

Gameplay ~ 9/10

Story

The story is kind of cliched and thin at times, with the whole idea of the crystals at it's center. I don't want to say too much in the way of spoilers, but your party begins by searching for the crystals to protect them from being destroyed as this leads to the world seeing some negative effects, like the winds dying down etc. You are searching for Exdeath, who for the most part of the game seems to not have much motive for being evil, but later on at least some reasons become apparent. The game as a whole has quite an unusual style, which I guess could be a good thing, or a bad thing depending on your opinion. It is quite light hearted at times and funny at times, but what I liked about it was that it had an underlying dark tone, which became important towards the end. I guess the humourous bits are hit or miss, but I did like some of the quotes, definitely. I would say it makes it stand  out from the other Final Fantasy games.

"Galuf: That lobster just got served!
Bartz: With cheese biscuits and mashed potatoes!"

"Gilgamesh: Enough expository banter. It's time we fight like men. And ladies. And ladies who dress like men. For Gilgamesh...IT IS MORPHING TIME!"

Story ~ 7/10

Characters

For the most part, there isn't a lot of character development in this game and some more back story and history for the characters would be better. There is some in the form of flashbacks etc, but the game would have benefited from further development I think. At times the characters are quite thinly developed and bland, for example Exdeath, who seems to be a cliched, stereotypical villian with no motive. He even has that ridiculous 'bad guy laugh' "mwhahahaha" ... By the end though, I did become a bit attached to them, the playable characters are likeable due to their quirkyness.

Characters ~ 6/10

Graphics

I usually find it hard to judge the graphics in older games as I sometimes forget a lot of the games I played for that console and therefore find it harder to get a good idea of what to compare the game to. (If that makes any sense) Anyway, the graphics in this are fairly good, the battles are in the same vein as Final Fantasy I, II, III and IV (at least the original versions of each), where most stuff in battle is viewed in a side-on 2D view. The battle animations and spell effects are pretty good, with some nice spell and summon effects. Nice sprites as in other oldschool(ish) RPGs, which is one thing I always loved about them.

Graphics ~ 8/10

Audio

There are some awesome songs in this game, from the famous Battle on the Big Bridge song played during one of the many battles with Gilgamesh right through to the final battle. Overall I liked the soundtrack, it gives the game some atmosphere, the sound effects aren't too shabby either, for a Game Boy Advance game, they seem good. Its not the best soundtrack I've ever heard, but then again I can't really fault it much either.

Audio ~ 7/10

Other than that, there seemed to be a few glitches(which strangely enough were only on my SP and DS phat) and annoyances, but overall, its quite a fun game with a lighthearted storyline and engaging job system.

Overall ~ 7/10

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cat Mario!

Remember Cat Mario? =D I posted about it ages ago, its hilarious...so sadistic. Play it online here:

http://www.geocities.jp/z_gundam_tanosii/home/applet/Main.html

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Game of the Month. (12/09)

Its been a month or two since I last did a game of the month and thought I'd do something that isn't too old, but its still well worth checking out. Plus its not too hard to find, its usually quite cheap and on a current console. 

My passion for RPGs is something that is probably quite apparent from the posts on the blog, and this Game of the Month is another one. Probably most people have heard of this game, but I know that a lot of people haven't really given it a chance and it has been ignored in many cases, in favour of rpgs from bigger, more reknowned studios like Mass Effect, or Bethesda's Oblivion and Fallout 3 to a greater extent.

RPGs haven't really taken off on the 360 despite the couple releases each year, I think that is due to the demographic that plays games on the 360, maybe it is a bit of a stereotype, but I think that the 360 gamers are more keen on action games, hack n slash and shooters(FPS and 3rd person). Hopefully we still see decent RPGs like Oblivion, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 etc being released on the 360, and I hope we still see games like these being released and played.





Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

This got released not too long ago, in 2007 in Japan and early 2008 over here and elsewhere. It is from the people who made Blue Dragon-Mistwalker, which wasn't that well received, and from what I've heard, most people prefer this one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_odyssey

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Dragon

Gamerankings



So where to start? It is an RPG with admittedly a slightly cliched storyline at times, there is a lot of focus on memories and the main character's past. There are a few interesting twists and unique bits to the game though, the main character, Kaim Argonar, is an immortal and is trying to regain his memories. One thing I quite liked in the gameplay was the way that the mortal playable characters that join your party can learn skills by linking to the immortals. You can also learn skills from items obtained as you go through the game. There is a huge amount to find and do in the game. There are a LOT of skills, so it is good for completionists, and anyone else, as you can run through the game relatively quickly if you don't want to go into too much depth. I found myself putting in around 100 hrs before I beat the game, and I didn't download the DLC dungeons, so I can't really comment on that, how good it is or how much material it adds on.

The soundtrack is quite good as well, scored by Nobuo Uematsu. At times it adds a lot of atmosphere, but some of the tracks I wasn't entirely keen on, they seemed a bit unusual. I really love the world map music once it gets going though, here it is:



Some of the visuals are incredible actually, it does look really impressive. RPGs on the 360 are on the whole really good visually, I loved Eternal Sonata and Mass Effect, despite the numerous texture issues in the latter. So we aren't exactly spoiled for good looking RPGs this generation, but as I've always said, its not the graphics that make the game, they are an added bonus, but I look for a lot of aspects all to jump out at me when I look for games I like. In Lost Odyssey, the story is one of the main selling points, it is really emotionally charged at times, and very well written throughout.

One very cool added extra for those who don't mind a bit of reading is the Thousand Years of Dreams. I still haven't read all of these optional bits of story that get added to the main menu so you can read them when you want. If you like to read, you will be impressed by the quality of these bits of the back story of the characters and game.

 The battle system and gameplay as I touched on earlier, is quite good. Its nothing groundbreaking, but the minor tweaks to the formula of turn based battles and gameplay as a whole keep it interesting. 

The Target ring system is slightly reminiscent of Squall's gunblade trigger, you have to get your timing right to get a boost to damage and enable some effects from your character's equipped ring and weapon.

I quite liked the way they did the row wall system in battle. Depending on the combined current HP of your front row characters, your back row characters will be further protected if the front row is kept well healed, or more in danger if the front row is weakened. Quite a good way of quantifying the protection they get, you can tell how endangered you are. It adds another bit of strategy to it, so you can take this into account when thinking about what moves to make.

Turn based RPGs are seen by some as a thing of the past, but games like this I think show they still have a lot to offer.

So I would definitely recommend this, it is well worth a look if you haven't played it already. I think it will appeal to people who like their RPGs to have good epic, storylines or if you like a game with a heck of a lot to do, you won't be dissapointed with this one. You can probably pick it up for £10-20 at the moment.

Super Half Life Bros :O

Another quality video from Machinima =P

And an awesome challenge from Top Gear

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now Playing - "Guns and women"


I've mostly been playing Final Fantasy VIII this week, I got to a point on disc 2 where my disc didn't let me progress-its quite badly scratched and some cutscenes jump and stop completely. So that put my game on hold for a few days until the weekend when I borrowed my friend's copy of the game so I could progress.

So I've just left Fisherman's Horizon now, I quite like that place, nice scrap-industrial style to it. I forgot about a lot of the stuff here in the story because I haven't played it as much as the earlier parts of the game and it was ages since I last played this part onwards. 

Anyway, what the hell is with Quistis assigning herself and Xu some posts in the garden? I'm in charge now, and I if I had a choice, she would be demoted even further. I don't like Quistis, she is annoying and fucked things up when we had to assassinate the sorceress by being a whiney bitch. "Omg, I was too hard on Rinoa, I should go apologise right now when we just so happen to have something incredibly important to do at a certain time" Fuck that...

Also, I kinda wish that the Mayor of FH got killed in the end, he acted like a close-minded pacifist, but something about him annoyed me ever so slightly, maybe the way he didn't even consider other ways of going about doing things. I mean, yeah, it really worked trying to talk to the invading Galbadian forces and reason with them.... /facepalm

Anyway, tangent aside, I now am at that point in an rpg when you get a whole load of freedom and world map to explore (usually resulting from the party's acquisition of some kind of vehicle ie. airship, boat, garden!?) So I'm considering going and trying to get some of the optional GFs I can get now, like Tonberry, Phoenix, (Odin), Chocobo (according to the guide). The only one I can remember how to get is Tonberry, but I'll have a think and see if I wanna try get a few of them or just fire on with the story. 

One thing I have liked so far about the story is the way they are not giving much away, it is frustrating because I know basically nothing about what is going on and I am on disc 2. It does however keep me interested, because I want to know what happens as the story progresses. What is the deal with Laguna, the "dream world" and Ellone, what is the real story behind the SEEDs, Cid and Edea? Those are some of the questions that are bugging me right now. I can't remember much of the time I played it last, and how much I actually got through of the story. All I can remember is that I got quite far (disc 3 I think) and got stuck, but a lot of the details I can't seem to remember. The characters...hmmm quite a few of them I don't particularly like, some are kind of boring, others just irritating. Rinoa for example, at first she really got on my nerves, but she has grown on me slightly as this playthrough has gone on. Irvine is just a pathetic, whiny womaniser. Maybe they will try to capitalise on his dual outer confidence and inner weakness that came through at the end of disc 1 and build it up through the story, but I dunno, he just kinda annoys me.

What else? I played a little bit of Dragon Age: Origins on the 360, decided to go speak to the Dalish Elves for help and quickly got recruited into doing a few quests for them. So I'm in the forest near their camp, apart from that I've not yet made a huge amount of progress since my focus has been on the FF games I've been playing.


Not sure if I talked about this last week, but in case not, I started up Final Fantasy VI Advance not too long ago, and so far I've been impressed, it has good audio and in the couple hours I've played so far, interesting characters. Kefka is pretty much Final Fantasy's answer to the Joker...actually, which came first? 

Ok, wow the Joker (1940) came way before Kefka (1994). I didn't know the character of the Joker was created so long ago (then again, I know hardly anything about western comics.)

Its been pretty cool so far, I am slightly stuck early on though. I have the choice of the first 3 scenarios, something which surprised me actually, as I haven't seen this that often, especially in FF games, anyway Locke is escaping from the town of Narshe, or whatever it is called. I can make quite a bit of progress by stealing merchants or guard's uniforms and sneaking through the town, but I can't quite figure out exactly where to go now. So I got frustrated and turned it off, I'll have to do it again from the scenario screen, or choose another one. I might do that actually, or check a guide to find out where to go next in the town. 

Anyway, enough of the minutiae of the story. So far I've really liked the steampunk setting, it feels quite fresh and unique since it hasn't been seen much in the other Final Fantasy games. Also, some of the soundtrack is really impressive. I love Terra's theme (the world map music) and the battle music. Here's a vid:

 

Anyway, that should be enough for now. I will post more another time. Coming soon - a long overdue Game of the Month post, for December


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random sites.


Here are some kinda funny sites and stuff which I saw today(some of which I had seen before, and some not),anyway, they are all pretty funny, so enjoy =p

http://failblog.org/

http://winblog.org/

http://autocompleteme.com/

http://www.epicfail.com/

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Final Fantasy Challenge update.


I've been putting a bit of time into FFVIII now that I beat TWEWY earlier, I loved the ending. Quite an awesome game. Its mostly Triple Triad in VIII that has been taking my time, which was going fine until I started to get unlucky just there. I had won a lot of the Lv6 boss cards from the girl in Galbadia garden and then she managed to pull a combo on me using the Same Rule (Which admittedly I can't remember how it works, I really should check a guide or something). So it might have been me not paying enough attention, but she ran away with my Zell card and refused to use it like they always seem to in this game. Then as I was trying to win it back, she got another combo on me. I was going to lose another high level card, so the PS2 had to go off. *sigh* thats a good hour or so (of mainly getting lv6 bosses) lost. I am slightly pissed off at Triple Triad now, and beginning to think I'll not put as much focus into getting all the cards since I might have already missed my chance to get the Siren card.

If I do want to beat the Final Fantasy games before XIII comes out, I might have to cut some corners...maybe my aim to get all the cards this playthrough might have to be sacrificed. Still, I am quite liking VIII this time, there are lots of ways to break the system even more. The junctions, GFs, limit breaks, and magic system are kinda flawed but there are lots of ways to make your characters very strong. 

Here's something interesting if you like Triple Triad like me (but not at the moment¬_¬)

http://www.tripletriadextreme.com/

There are quite a few online places to play Triple triad if you feel the desire. I haven't tried any out, but I imagine they would be pretty addictive. The minigame in VIII is fiendishly at times.

I'm considering starting up FFVI advance so I have a portable game I can play when I am at uni or whatever, but on the other hand, I only just started Dragon Age: Origins, am not far into VIII and if I started FFVI, that would make it 4 games on the go at once, 3 of which would be RPGs.

I'll try post some more if I find anything interesting in VIII