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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion (英雄伝説 ガガーブトリロジー 朱紅い雫)

I'm gonna try to not rehash all that stuff about how Tear of Vermillion is LOH IV blah blah blah. To make a long story short, this is the second entry in the LOH Garghav trilogy. Chronologically, it takes place before White Witch but story-wise, the two games have pretty much zero connection so it really doesn't matter.

To be honest, it's been a while since I beat this game so I don't really remember the story details but I do remember it started out with a bang. My theory is it was to fix the absolutely mind-numbingly boring start of the previous game.

IMOUTO TAIMU, always a good start to a game. Oniichan is here Aimeru!!
In terms of graphics and game engine, everything looks pretty much the same as the first PSP port except they changed the weird pseudo ATB nature of the battle system into a standard turn based affair. I actually preferred the neat trick in the previous game of cancelling out of the menu and letting everybody duke it out automatically so having to select attack for every party member every turn was a bummer. At least it does a better job of showing your attack range so you don't have to waste a turn just trying to reach your enemy if you don't want to.

Attack, attack, attack, attack, standard RPG fare...
To be perfectly fair, you do want to use spells and skills that have area effects when the enemies are bunched together Chrono Trigger style. The change to a clearer turn-based system does make timing things easier compared to the rather chaotic free-for-all of the first game. Overall, there's nothing too special about the gameplay. Some of the more challenging boss battles did require some planning for special attacks since they charge over time (the POWER meter). The difficulty was a bit better balanced this time around compared to the super easy previous entry with the weird difficulty spike at the end. I actually died once or twice in this one.

Overall, I enjoyed the story much more than the previous game as well. The characters were more interesting and there was some good character development for at least some of the characters if not the main character. Sure, some of the plot elements are a bit cliche at this point but hey, this is a remake of a PC98 game from 1996. The music was pretty good too overall.

For some reason, I found this tune really catchy

The main "heroine" or as we now call it "damsel in distress in OMG TRIGGER WARNING MISOGYNIST WOMEN HATER GAME", is actually your little sister. So there's not much of a romance, but it was still cool to join in Avin's frantic quest to reunite with his cute imouto. Hey, if my sister was cute and 2D, I would have done exactly the same (my real 3D ones... um... not so much).

Score: 2.5 oh those innocent days before oreimo when everything wasn't tinged with weird imouto incest fetishes out of 5

Get a room, you guys!
Also, I hear it's legal in some States?
Might wanna check that out.
Obviously, in today's modern enlightened times, an RPG about chasing after your little sister would look very different (and to be perfectly honest, I would totally be all over that). Regardless, while nothing too special, I found the second part of the Garghav trilogy to be adequate enough to be an average fun title overall.

Given the scale of the ending in White Witch (which frankly was poorly done and came out of nowhere), I think there was a missed opportunity here to expand upon the overall story and grow the universe. Unfortunately, the tiniest bit of connection to the first game they show doesn't really add anything to the story as a trilogy. It remains to be seen if there's a larger picture here in the 3rd entry: Song of the Ocean. At this point, I think it may be too late to really tie anything together but we'll see I suppose.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Thursday, April 7, 2016

MOTHER2 ギーグの逆襲

Oh boy, just what the internet needs. Yet ANOTHER wannabe hipster gushing about probably one of the most overrated and talked to death "hidden gem" - MOTHER2 ギーグの逆襲 aka Earthbound to the unenlightened non-Jhipsters.

Bet you guys never heard of THIS "hidden" gem
But wait, am I going to gush about what I just called an overrated game? Read on to find out! Wait, no for real, I have a unique Jhipster perspective on this! Plz Internet tell me I matter!

Ahem, ANYHOOS, as my die-hard readers probably remember, I didn't really think too highly of Mother (to put it mildly), but playing the games in order really puts things in perspective. Because Mother was such a shitty game, the initial impression playing Mother 2 is like going from PS2 to PS4. It reminded me just how much difference a new console generation used to mean. In the good ol' days, we used to be blown away by the graphical differences in a new console by using something called our "eyes" without needing special tools to measure stupid shit like framerate and resolution and bitching like little crybabies on neogaf.

I wasn't joking when I said this was gonna be a recurring theme
Playing Mother 2 was like a breath of fresh air after the stank of Mother. Not only were the graphics "next-gen", every single shitty gameplay mechanic from Mother was fixed or at least vastly improved. The most notable being no more FUCKING SPLITTING XP BETWEEN PARTY MEMBERS!!

Another HUGE improvement is no more cheap one shot kills. Or to be more accurate, your HP slowly drains after getting hit so if you're quick enough, you can heal in the next turn before the HP reaches zero adding a bit of "real-time" aspect to battles. This makes the Franklin badge, a vital item in Mother 1 pretty much useless in Mother 2. The last dungeon has a difficulty spike but even so, the strongest heal PSI ability can recover your party members without having to trudge all the way back like fucking Mother.

The map is also no longer a huge, sprawling wasteland littered with random encounters galore. The dungeons and areas between towns are small enough that you don't really need a map at all (the town maps are still a nice addition though). Even the desert, which was one of the worst offenders in Mother, can be crossed relatively quickly (though getting heatstroke constantly was still annoying).

OH MY GOD!! LOOK AT DEM GRAPHICS!!
Really, I could go on and on about every single annoying thing in Mother that was fixed in Mother 2 (except running out of space in your inventory, that shit was still annoying as hell). I can discuss fixes such as a teleport spell that is actually usable and not completely worthless, etc., etc. But that's doesn't mean Mother 2 is a great game, it just shows how crappy Mother is. In the end, the improvements make this game much easier to play and elevates it to a standard multitasker instead of a frustrating mess only bearable with the miracle of save-states.

I barely had to use any strategy besides spamming attack and healing once in a while. Sure, I used attack spells on bosses and one boss required using fly honey. The whole fly honey thing was annoying by the way because it looked like you were doing damage but really not getting anywhere without it. The closest thing to a strategy I used was the chuwa machine (neutralizer) to break a boss's shield.

HINT: The combat system is so rich, you can spam A OR L. SO MANY OPTIONS!!
As for the story, I really liked the premise and start of the game but the middle was a long, boring journey of fetch quests and recruiting party members that get almost no character development. The amount of conversation you have with your party members is next to nil. However, the boring stretch is at least rewarded with a very interesting ending.

Without getting into any details, the ending and one very disturbing meditation part of the game makes all the petty localization changes to shield kids from religion and alcohol seem so stupid and pointless. (Cero A, seriously?!! Damn, those Japanese kids are hardcore.) Due to the almost maniac non-jhipster fanbase for this game, you can learn about the changes in far more detail than I would ever bother to look into given that I don't play these games in English.

I'm sure Starbucks would have pressured to keep "alcohol" in today's enlightened age of corporate overlords
I liked the music well enough, nothing special but the music for the first part of the final boss was great as well as the ending credits song. I played the GBA version and I thought the whole vinyl sound added character but others may prefer the crispier SFC version.

I thought the "vinyl" sound was on purpose. Turns out it's just GBA hardware limitation. I prefer it nevertheless.


Score: 3 OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST GAME OF ALL TIME! TAKE MY MONEY!! TAKE ALL IT IT!!! out of 5

I'm not quite sure why non-jhipsters are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to play what is essentially a standard multitasker SFC RPG. Yes, it has a unique charm but puns are not that funny to me. The story has some interesting parts and I enjoyed the game overall but honestly, I think I overpaid for my GBA copy of Mother 1+2 and I definitely didn't pay one Benjamin must less several. If it wasn't for the awful Nintendo DRM, I would have been happy to just settle for the eShop digital version.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely