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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Suishou no Dragon (水晶の龍)

After Alpha, Square published some shooters (meh) with Thexder and King's Knight. But we all know their true soul is in adventure games so I'll be skipping those. Which brings us to their first console debut on the Family Disk System: Suishou no Dragon (again not counting Thexder cause it was licensed).

Yeah fuck Kanji, "Ryu" is so passé
Not sure why they used the Kanji for "Ryu" and yet read it in English as "Dragon". I guess it's because English is "cool". Anyways, does Suishou no Dragon live up to the high standards of Alpha, despite being crippled by outdated console technology? Let's find out! (totally unbiased)

Loading... loading... please wait... ok... WAIT load some more... aaaand... loading again
The game starts out with an interesting premise. Right away, your ship is shot down by a flying dragon IN SPACE. Yeah, a space dragon (cool) and then....please wait.

As I explained previously, I didn't grow up with the luxury of importing every (any) piece of fancy gaming hardware back in the day so this is actually my first time playing a FDS game and man, the loading time is a big bummer. The emulator I was using unfortunately pauses when I try to multitask so I had to actually watch it do its fake emulated loading shit. At least I didn't have to get out of the chair to flip the disk, something that happens annoying while moving around in the middle of town.

Her name Yujin ironically also means "friend" (spoiler... not really)
The character design is pretty good even though it definitely has that family Famicon look to it. The control sceme is a bit awkward in that you first have to move your cursor BEFORE you select the action but I got used to it. Oddly enough, you never need to use the"throw" command in the entire game (the flying rock command on the upper right). I especially liked the fact that when you die, it automatically starts you a few actions before, removing the need to save incessantly. That's some next gen Call of Duty shit right there.

Aaaaand the game is over. No seriously, this game is probably about the same length as WILL Death Trap 2 and can be beaten in under an hour with a guide. Yes, I did waste some time aimlessly wandering around in space and desert but there's no map so it's not like you can enjoy even manually mapping anything. The story is slightly better than Death Trap 2 but not by much. You barely interact with any characters and the plot just barfs all over you in like 5 seconds. In fact, I can probably write more about the scandal surrounding this game than about the actual game itself.

The infamous scene with Shinshia (whom you barely interact with)
The first thing that shows up on a google search for this game is the whole Famitsu fake article "scandal" hinting at... um, I don't really know given my cleansed, pure soul. Of course I'm talking Jhipster google search as an English search just turns up roms and translation patches. (English, English, English is that all you guys care about? Geesh!)

Apparently "Family" Disk System also caters to the masturbating teenage son (or daughter, no need to be sexist)
Apparently a lot of hopeful boys (or girls, or fuck it let's just include gender-neutral and gender-curious, it's fucking 2017 after all #trump #armageddon) were dissapointed to find out the rock-paper-scissor easter egg mini game was just Famitsu's ploy to trick its competitors. They flat out made up shit with elaborate fake screenshots apparently just to figure out which competitors were wholesale copying their content.

Now, non-jhipsters may say you'd be stupid to think there would be nudity in a Nintendo console game but that's for Reggie-Puritan-OMG-Congressional-Hearing-Time NoA. After all, your beloved DQ father Horii was a perv back in the good ol' days.

The good ol' days before all that squeeky clean DQ mainstream shit (no nipples though)

Other than that interesting bit of history, I don't think you would be missing much by skipping this one. While it started out interesting, the story is short and dead simple, there's pretty much zero character development and the puzzles were nothing special. Compared to Alpha, this is a pretty big downgrade. Even Alpha had at least music for both the intro and ending, this game only has ONE song at the end and the rest is either silence or super annoying sfx. At the very least, I got a kick out of the space scooter that you putz around in space with.

Don't worry, your space scooter will be upgraded to a space motercycle later
Score: 1.5 yes, a scooter sounds like the perfect engineering design to explore space!!! out of 5

At least now I'm a more learned gaming historian and "in the know" for future references and parodies. I'm sure that'll totally come in handy in real life.

Oh, I GET IT NOW AHAHAHAHA!! Ok, where's my paycheck? I've got bills to pay!
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, November 10, 2016

Tales of Phantasia X (テイルズオブファンタジア クロスエディション)

I've started just about every Tales game in the series but never got much further than the first few hours. I generally couldn't get into them because of the constant mashing of buttons that is required. I also made the mistake of playing on hard difficulty because as a gamer elite, I always play my games on hard. I eventually discovered that playing a tales game on hard just means more grind and even MORE button mashing. It's not like Metal Gear Solid where you can just get good at the boss fights and use something called um I dunno... skills?? It's a standard RPG where you need to equip the right equipment and be at an adequate level just with more mash. HULK MASH! ME MASH GOOD!

NO MASH? WHEN I MASH?????
Even though I'm obviously not a huge fan of the mashing battle system, I found it didn't detract too much from the game. You can set special moves for each direction + x button and your TP recovers slightly after every battle. This, combined with the Holy Symbol, was a nice touch that saved you from having to heal yourself every few battles unlike pretty much every standard (FF/DQ) RPG up until you know... Squeenix went all crazy n shit. As you gain more abilities, I found myself queing them up in boss fights for the other characters cause the AI kinda sucks. For example: nurse, nurse, INDIGNATION, nurse, Maxwell, INDIGNATION, nurse, EXASPERATION, FRUSTRATION, nurse, DEPRESSION QUEST. The later Playstation versions updated the battle system so spells don't pause the game and it can get kind of frantic, waiting for that nurse to kick in while you and Mint are getting your asses kicked.

INDIGESTION! (sorry had beans for lunch)
I played on the PSP, the best system of all time, OBVIOUSLY. Not only does this version have voice acting for the main story, an improved battle system, and a whole new party member, but it also comes completely FREE with the sequel: Narikiri Dungeon X. HOLY SHIT BATMAN! You just have to get the day one edition and hope the DLC code hasn't expired... LOL just kidding, this came out back in the good ol' days instead of the diarrhea shit we deal with today.

INDIVIDUALIZATION!!
OMG, there's so many versions of this game. This is PSP version I played #BAE
The skits, which are now a standard Tales feature, was a great idea. They add tons of additonal details into the characters in nice fully voiced short sequences that are nonintrusive. I just wish there was an icon or indicator that showed when a new skit was available so I didn't have to constantly press select to see if a new one popped up. And by the way, speaking of those skits, Chester is SUCH an asshole. Also, Arche #1 WAIFU no contest.

There are also tons of missable side quests that also trigger their own skits including a cute one where Mint teaches a girl piano. I referenced a guide from time to time in order to avoid missing the good ones.

The speed at which piano skills are attained are totally unrealistic. Realism RUINED

Speaking of guides, while most of the dungeons are not that bad, there are few nasty puzzles especially in the Moria mines (ugh). For example, how the hell you supposed to know to leave Arche on a switch because she can fly up through a hole? JESUS! Besides some lame puzzles, and not one but THREE dungeons that require you to heal yourself every few seconds with environmental bullshit (not bathing in lava at least), the dungeons were pretty manageable and not too obnoxious.

Another interesting note to make about the gamplay is how terrible the items are managed. Rune Bottles are like your bread and butter. You can use them to save 50% on shop purchases, they identify unknown items, and you can turn shitty Apple and Orange Gumi into the good shit (AWWW YEAH). Yet, they are just another item in a huge list of shit. Yeah, you can sort but is having a category asking too much? Not to mention weird items that add options in your game settings or enable combo gameplay. Finally, you get titles for doing various whatever and as far as I can tell, they don't do JACK except for ONE title that lets you do a super move in a pinch by pressing □+△+○. Maybe they explain it all in the manual but my DLC code for it expired already.



You may want to skip to the end of the post if you are super spoiler sensitive.



As for the story, man, it starts off REAL heavy. GAWD DAMN! I first got interested in the plot a few hours into the game ironically when meeting the extra bonus character in the remake: Rondoline E. Effenberg. EFFENBERG LOOOOOOL

I guess she's in mobile gacha shit nowadays. EFFENBERG DAT SHIT!
Anyways, you meet her and she's like, oh, you don't know me yet? Hmm... the plot thickens. Unfortunately, as you later find out, the overall plot just makes no freaking sense and you can clearly tell Rondoline was kinda shoved in after the fact.

On the one hand, I'm kinda glad it wasn't a hollywood, "oh somehow we saved everybody kind of story" but still. Whoever wrote this story apparently never watched Back to the Future. That's all I'm saying on that matter.

I didn't think too much of the soundtrack but was later pleasantly surprised at the variety and some straight up gems in the OST.

One of the gems, most other songs are just OK.

Score: 3 well that story made no sense- OOH Arche #1 WAIFU!!! out of 5 (35 hours and apparently 1,146 encounters to beat)

While I'm biased against ARPGs in general, I still thought the mechanics of the game was fun to play. While the story was a mess, I just couldn't help but like the characters and their little skits. Sure, there's barely any character development but I'm a sucker for that nostalgic classic 90's anime voice acting. This was clearly apparent when I booted up the sequel  (on the same UMD remember, DEAL!!) and it had the standard moepocalypse VA. It's fine but it definitely lacks that 90's charm. If I wasn't playing the PSP #BAE full voice edition, I would give this game a meh 2.5. However, Arche and Suzu bring this game up to a solid average score of 3 even IF Suzu is pretty much useless in battle. She's 11 years old and yet not super annoying like moe child characters nowadays. And that's good enough for me.

If you're not a Jhipster, your best option is to probably go for the PSX fan translation since they shit canned the microtrans buttonless iOS crapfest. Or if you wanna go all official English retail, then pony up the moola for the inferior GBA version. Yeah, you're missing out on the best version but you should be used to that by now.

What? Just sayin'
Oh, and how can I forget to mention this cute little mini-game? That's like almost three games in one ISO- err, I mean UMD. DEAL!!!

3 for 1 deal just in time for black friday too!!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Alpha (アルファー)

I thought I was being clever when I snarkily remarked that Square didn't do fan service in the good ol' days until their 3rd title in 1986 but I forgot about Cruise Chaser Blassty so I actually meant their 4th title (ignoring Thexder which was not developed by Square). So I guess the joke's on me, SJWs WIN AGAIN! Anyway, here we are finally, playing Square's first masterpiece, Final Fan- err, I mean Alpha. Oh, you play as a girl with no memories NOR any pants? GOTY!!!

Let's make Beta next! Naw fuck it, go straight to Final (Fantasy)
At first, I was so spoiled by the compass directions in Will Death Trap II that I was totally lost until I realized that the game was dumbed down even further by allowing you to use directional keypad to make your way around. (Geesh, kids nowadays...) Not the arrow keys, I'm talking turn Num Lock off directional keypad old-school.

Knowing how to move around, you can figure out most things by playing blind except it has this weird thing where you have to get caught by robots like 3 times to progress the game. HOWEVER, you'll lose all your items so you have to wait until a certain point to pick up anything.

They take the gun but apparently you were able to hide the gold key... somewhere. HEH HEH HEH
In typical old school adventure style, if you lose your items, you're pretty much screwed and beating the game is now impossible without starting from an earlier state.

I'm not doing anything shady, no siree!
This game feels like what Will Death Trap 2 should have been if it was 3x longer and actually had a plot. There's a bit of story with even somewhat of a minor twist. Plenty of that nice ascii por- err I mean traditional pixel artwork. There's lots of places to explore though the "maps" on either side of the screen are totally useless this time around. Good thing I have the trusty internet to guide me.

Yeah, there are some kinks, like how the Stadium which blows up at the very beginning of the game still have people running away even at the end. And sometimes you can shoot the robot police and sometimes you can't. Basically, if you can't shoot the robot, then you've missed something or you're going the wrong way.

The most incompetent robot police ever. Stupid devs probably didn't QA them.
Overall, I think Alpha is a huge step forward from Square's previous adventure games. There's a lot of great looking art, a couple cool animations, and plenty to like in terms of fan service. Though technically, the well positioned strand of hair means it's not really a 18+ game. The one song that plays in the intro and ending is pretty good too. If they keep this up, there may be some amazing visual novels coming from those guys in later years.

 
The rest of the game is filled with horrible sound effects but this OP is not half bad

Score: 2 I bet these Square guys must be making some great visual novels nowadays, right?! out of 5.

That's a pretty cool logo, wonder what happened to these guys?
Additional screenshot for the future gaming historians.

You might want to look into a chiropractor for that back problem...

Apparently radar is far more useful than we originally imagined

Zero-gravity and boobs... I think we're onto something here Square! $$$!!

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