dmilewski: (Default)
Alphadia 2 (2013) is an old school RPG for the Android operating system. By the aspect ration, I must assume that the game was ported from a platform with a squarer screen. The game is a direct sequel to Alphadia, featuring the same world and several characters from the last game, such as Enah, the android. Most of the game mechanics remain identical, including rings and infusing.

The overall play difficulty of this sequel was noticeably more challenging than the first installment. While I could cruise through most fights on auto, the fights themselves ground down my party. At times, I found myself constantly healing party members after every fight. The fights could also be grinding while exploring, with encounters erupting as frequent intervals. Scout Orbs are available to avoid fights, but they don't last long.

While the primary artwork was pixels and sprites, each character had a high res portrait for conversations that looked clean.

For the most part, I didn't care about the characters or the plot, not that you need much plot for dungeon delving. Where the story hewed to "go there," I was happy enough. I wasn't ever in doubt about where to go. When the story skewed towards the actual plot, I didn't care, with tiresome conversation following tiresome conversation.

This game had a mission mode which I found annoying. While most missions were straight forward, and therefore fun, some missions that required finding certain items dragged on and on because those items didn't drop. By the end of the game, I still hadn't found enough of one drop type, even with farming, to complete the first set of basic missions. While the missions did offer a mission store which used mission currency, I found it cheaper and easier to just purchase the items from a vendor. This made 95% of all store items useless to me. One early mission didn't work right when the receiving clerk refused to accept my items. Since that part of the game was bugged, I didn't go any further. Later on, I found out that you were supposed to give those items to somebody else, which is completely stupid because you are supposed to give all mission items to the receiving clerk. 

I found the ending tougher than expected. I'm used to hard endings, but this one seemed harder than it ought to be. I think it's an example of, "you must win by playing a certain way" style of ending, where I played the game wrong, so I lost repeatedly. If I had really liked the game, I would have thrown myself at the ending, but as I don't care, I don't find myself well motivated. I may try the ending again, but I won't work hard at it.

On the whole, I'd give this game a medium review. It's entertaining enough, but there's really nothing here to fall in love with.
dmilewski: (Default)
Seven Sacred Beasts (2013) is a JRPG released by Kemco on the Kindle Fire. It's a basic monster evolution and fighting RPG, containing all the mechanics that you've come to expect from the genre. You capture monsters, evolve monsters, and fight monsters. To add some spice, there's a competition. All of that sounds like a nice relaxing grindfest of monster-fighting-fun. But wait, there's more, because between the various fights are interminable cut scenes where the characters yak and yak and yak. Oh My GOD, will they ever shut up? This game would have worked well enough as a monster-fighter with a light plot.

If that's not enough, you'd think that a game featuring a tournament would feature the tournament as the end fight. You'd be wrong. The whole thing is really about a final boss battle. I understand following convention, but isn't that taking convention a little too far and a little too literally?

As a monster fighter, the game is a lighthearted grindfest appropriate for anyone. Go team! As an RPG, it feel like somebody dropped a piano from the third story. Don't play this game for the story. 

Alphadia

Apr. 9th, 2017 04:31 pm
dmilewski: (Default)
 Alphadia is such the epitome of a JRPG that even with all the words removed, you could still figure out what's happening with little to no trouble. An ordinary young man gets into an adventure, finds out he's special, quests to save the world through numerous dungeons with random monsters, and then saves the world by fighting a boss at the end three times.

Most games implement formula with some freshness, but this hits the formula like three day old donuts. The story will mildly entertain you at best, but has no heart as the story implements the JRPG formula in the most straightforward and dull way possible, by using the formula as a story. Flat soda has more perk.

I felt that the game was aimed at the younger JRPG player. If you have a kid that likes this sort of game, the mechanics are mostly straight forward and simple, so even by going wrong, they can't go too wrong.

The game itself is easy to play. Set to auto, almost every combat is winnable simply by picking the hardest hitting characters. A few combats did need actual player participation, like the final fight of the final boss's three fight death match.

I don't give the game many stars, but it did amuse me for a while. If you need a game where you wander about and bash monsters, this will scratch your itch.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Fallout 4 (2016) brings us back the same Fallout that we've known since Fallout 3 and Fallout NV. The wasteland is the wasteland and war, war never ends.

I'll get to the bad stuff first. The bad stuff for me is more apparent, while the good stuff takes a little thinking about.

This game went on too long for me. If a game goes over 100 hours of gameplay, I get bored. Once I finished exploring the wasteland, I rushed through the ending, happy to be done. Which brings me to a second part of the game, unengagement. I often walked through these quests, no caring who lived or died. Part of this was their use of random quests to fill out the game. At first I didn't notice this as the quests were new, but once I got to know that these were just randomized quests, they lost any real story meaning for me.

The story didn't feel like a 200 years later sort of story. That never felt right. This story should have been a thirty years later sort of story, or maybe seventy, but not two hundred. For two hundred, I needed a wasteland stranger and even more decrepit than Fallout 3.

I felt pretty mixed about the settlement system. Early on, I just ignored it. Later, as the end game came on, I appreciated its use in game play. Its through the settlement system that you build rapport with the Minutemen. By literally walking in their shoes and taking on their jobs, you build an appreciation of their goal, which is to rebuild the Commonwealth. When the end choices come, this gives them a powerful implicit argument to support their side, which is what I went with. I could support a military dictatorship (the Brotherhood of Steel), a meritocracy (the Institute), or a Democracy (the Minutemen). I'm not surprised that I went on to support the democratic solution.

I enjoyed the robot content. Here is where the humor and the twisted ideas of the original Fallout remained in full force. Here is the biting social commentary and outlandish personalities. Everywhere the robots showed up, they worked.

With the customizable guns and armor, I wound up enjoying the equipment crafting system a little less than I had expected. Once I settled on my kit, very little came around that could replace it. I went the rifle route, with a close rifle and shotgun, and a sniper rifle for longer ranged engagements, with my combat rifle and sniper rifle acting as my main weapons. I didn't have the points to put anything into hiding, so I wasn't a super-sniper.

I spent my entire game with Dogmeat. His strange wandering about patterns made sense for a dog. When I went about with a companion, they always felt a bit weird acting as strange as Dogmeat did. For most of the game, I was heavily committed to the lone wanderer lifestyle.

As for VATS, I didn't use it at all. That saved me a massive number of points, but it made dealing with insects absolutely infuriating. Otherwise, I found that I didn't need it for most fight. By pointing with my mouse, I found that I was well coordinated enough to hit most opponents.

While Power Armor was interesting, I found that the armor provided just as many negatives as positives, so I went about in Combat Armor instead, doing just fine in most situations. I only fell back on power armor when the radiation levels got too high or the opponents got too tough for my level.

Unlike previous Fallouts, this Fallout scaled well above 30th level. Only when I reached 60 did I start encountering enemies that proved ridiculously resilient. In previous Fallouts, that happened around Level 30. (If I ever play Fallout NV again, I am so taking the level 30 limit perk.)

I haven't done any of the DLCs, mostly because I don't want to pay for them as they cost more than what I paid for F4 on sale. The main game gave me enough content. (Admittedly, Nuka World does look tempting. There has to be something twisted to it.) Eventually I may purchase some content, but not until it's cheaper.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Final Fantasy X (2001) is highly regarded as one of the best, if not the best, of the Final Fantasy (FF) series. Replaying this game fifteen years later, I still find the story solid, the mechanics solid, the game play solid, and the mini-games so god-screamingly fubar that I want to murder a game developer. For this revisit, I bought the Remastered HD version for PC.

The HD remaster looks very, very nice, while retaining the bright colors and vibrancy of the original version. Thank you, artists, for not ruining the wonderful aesthetic. FFX is truly one of the most beautiful RPGs ever created.

The story itself follows the understandable Final Fantasy arc. We get a team, a crisis, a journey, eventually leading to an airship, and a final boss battle in an etherial place. It's what they did from there that made the story work. This is the first FF (I think) where a major point of the story is the romance between the hero and the heroine. It's a tragic love story. Over the course of the story, we learn that if she succeed, she dies, but if he succeed, then he dies. Our lovers are star crossed, their eternal longing certain. It's the success of this element, played straight, that expanded the story from being a boy's story to being and everybody story. Add to that the story of the previous generation, told through flashbacks, the stories of all the other companions, and the stories of other peoples, and you get a FF so packed with story that it splits its seams when it laughs.

You see all the usual FF classes, all the same, and yet all a little different. Yuna is both a summoner and a white mage, and the Aeons she summons don't just flash through for a round, but stick around and fight as their own beings. With the Aeons being so powerful, it means that Yuna is easily the most powerful character in the game when you need her to be. Lulu is a black mage, down to her black dress. She doesn't have a pointy hat, but her stuff animals that she uses to cast spells are of all the cutsie creatures that his version of FF didn't use (such as moogles and onion knights). Kimari combines the powers of a blue mage and a dragoon, in the most disappointing combo in the game, not being a strong enough spellcaster to matter and not being a strong enough warrior to matter. Rikku is both a thief and an alchemist. Auron is a swordsman. Tidus is another swordsman with elements of a bard. Wakka is an archer in the guise of a blitzball player, his specialty being status ailments.

The advancement system is like nothing that I've seen before or since, with the characters buying spheres on a grid, growing in power not by leveling, but by traversing the vast sphere grid. As the characters fight, they acquire both sphere levels and spheres for activating those levels.

Power doesn't just proceed linearly, it proceeds laterally. Rikku enables the modification of weapons using collected items and spheres. A few encounters allow the same with aeons, also using collected items and spheres. Combine the right things together for the right kinds of fight, and your characters can now grow powerful in completely new ways.

As all FF games, this one has bosses galore. Sometimes the boss fights are fun, sometimes they're annoying, and sometimes they are grinding long, especially at the end. Most of the time, I had fun with the bosses. My only annoyance with them is that they are immune to anything interesting that your character do. This makes sense, as the game developers didn't want you using any "I WIN" spell combo to trivialize the boss fight.

The PC Remastered version came with controls to increase or remove random encounters, a mechanical auto-fight, and a gameplay speedup. This helped in many instances later in the game when things got grindy.

Along with all the good comes a little bad. While some of the mini-games included were fun, for the most part, I found too many annoying, and some flat-out murderously frustrating. The monster arena subquest, where you seek to catch 10 of every monster, proceeds quickly at first, but in the later dungeons, some of the encounters show up so rarely that you can spend hours grinding just to get to 10 encounters. (I'm looking at you, Tonberry.) One subquest required that I dodge lightning bolts, but I dodged 0 lightning bolts in 30 or 40 tries. I think that my video was lagging behind the software so that when the image appeared on my monitor, I was already too late to dodge the lightning bolt. Even so, you had to dodge 200 of those thing in a row. That's FUBAR crazy. Challenges are one thing, but self-torture is entirely a different thing.

Getting to some of the best spells in the game proved rather hard. At this point, I haven't found enough Lvl. 4 key spheres to unlock any of the best spells. With enough work, yes, I can collect them, but that just brings us back to the grind. I had this problem on the first play through. Fortunately, you don't need the best of everything to complete the game. I think that those super spells were there to satisfy the completionist and challenge-obsessed players. They like the crazy hard challenges thrown into games.

The characters have all sorts of special celestial weapons that they can acquire, which is fun except for all the mini-games that have to get played to acquire said weapons. There's even a few hidden aeons that can be acquired.

This HD version is descended from the International version, which introduced dark aeons to the game. For some unfathomable reason, the designers put super-impossible (but not impossible) aeons into places where you had to face them, whereupon you got butchered. I found that they sucked so much fun out of the game that I used a game editor to remove them. I had no problem with the challenge, but I had every problem with the designers requiring you to power up your characters so that you could get the items that you needed to power up your characters. By the time that you can defeat the dark aeons, you don't need the special items at all.

As normal, the final boss fights are insanely hard and long, with multiple stages of defeat. Fortunately, you can work them out. The problem in losing, of course, is that you need to go through all the cut scenes all over again, and you can't skip.

My main problem with the end game is that it got rather grindy. I ran into this problem when I first played FFX. I can grind valiant at first, but soon I flag. There soon comes a point where the potential reward is offset by the tedium of the journey. The offered challenge is just not enough to draw me on.

And then there's Blitzball. I figured out more of it this time, but truth be said, the game bores me and your opponents run over you for so long that playing the game just gets unrewarding fast. Even worse, some of Wakka's best moves are tied to the blitzball subgame, so if you don't play it, one of your characters doesn't get his best stuff. Evil!!!

That much said, don't let my rants about the endgame fool you. The flaws of the endgame stand out so starkly because the reset of the game works so fabulously well. And for some, the flaws are what they love. There are people who love blitzball. There are people who love the challenges. There are people who love the crazy side quests. It's all good for somebody.

I hope that ten years from now, I take the time to play it again.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Eclipse of Illusion from Kemko Games is built around the classic, 8-bit style Final Fantasy framework, only taking far less time to play through. There's nothing new under the sun here, but there's also nothing bad. This game is like going to a diner and ordering eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. There's nothing special about it, but it is exactly what it needs to be.

While this game won't blow you away, but you'll be entertained for your money. Your characters will advance up jobs, you'll fight monsters, you'll summon suits of power armor, and you'll fight bosses. You start off as nobodies and end up saving the world. In between, they hit all the beats, even giving you your own airship.

Once you're done, there's a new dungeon, some super-hard bosses, rare weapons, and the like. If you choose to play again, you'll start at your current level with all your gear.

The combat system is straight forward. You have an AUTO mode for the fights, which isn't brilliant but will serve you most of the game. If you've played enough JPRGs, you'll recognize all the mechanics.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
I spent from December to March playing Elder Scrolls Online. I paid $30 for the privilege, and I feel that I got my money's worth out of the game.

The game itself is split into three segments: the primary play through, where you get all the side-quests and world-building quests, a second and third play through where you play through the storylines of the other factions, and a PVP storyline (I suppose, as I didn't do much PVP). Once you get to be a high-enough level, you can PVP, while the other area storylines weren't opened to your character until they completed the main storyline.

I appreciated how the game split the storylines into manageable chunks for their writing teams. One team wrote the main plot, which was the same everywhere you played. It didn't interact with the regional plots very much, instead focusing on the big story that drove all the regional stories. The guild stories spanned all regions as well, but they were optional (I assume). Each guild had its own crisis and opened up its own area in the end. Finally, each region had a crisis connected to the character of each region. The regional storylines were all unique, so the only way to experience them was to play through a second and third time. With this structure, each team was able to plot very independently, making an otherwise impossible situation workable.

Your character advanced levels, but in addition to advancing levels, they also collected experience in their skills. Even with allowing you to reallocated, you couldn't just become an expert in a skill immediately. You had to work it up. However, once you drop a skill, you'll maintain any experience that you have in it, so swapping back is easy, if expensive.

In terms of disk space, the game was a whopper, taking up 50 gb.

I played the game as an extended single-player game. I rarely teamed up with anyone, but I got through most things fine. Some things were frustrating, but often I only needed one other opportunistic player to team up with. Many dungeons were closed to me, but I don't feel that I missed much.

I found the crafting practical if uninspiring. I studied smith. The crafting gave me some advantage, but no more so than money would have. I could have gotten by on looted equipment. Crafting itself was mostly creating static recipes with mix and match bonuses.

All in all, the game entertained me well while I played it. I got halfway through the second set of quests when I hit my "I'm done with the game" apathy. I just didn't want to play it any more. My attention had simply wandered. That happens with me, which I why I only paid $30 for the game.

Overall, I rate the game as an enjoyable experience and I recommend it to my friends. It's a fun Elder Scrolls distraction and a fine addition to the Elder Scrolls line. Have fun. Play it. When you're done, move on.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
I played through the Android version of Final Fantasy V over the last few weeks. Clocking in at 30-40 hours of main-story game play, I found the game light-hearted, fun, having a well paced story teamed up with an interesting job mechanic and usually interesting boss fights. From my perspective, this was the most fun that I had playing these older-versioned Final Fantasies. Much of the game hit my sweet spot.

A meteor lands, uniting four unlikely companions, who gain powers from the shards of a destroyed crystal. What's destroying the great crystals? This can't be good. It's an adventure that leads across three worlds, and in the end, battles to save existence itself.

For the most part, game play went smoothly. I figured out the jobs. I found many interesting little things along the way, but also missed quite a few. The money managed out reasonably. I rarely had to grind for more than a short while to cover my gear or gain a few levels. Most of the time, I didn't need to grind at all, but generally, grinding a little is a smart thing to do in these early FF's. The auto fight mode worked acceptably, repeating your previous commands, easing the oppressive weight of ordinary fights. The spells and items all work like you'd expect in the Final Fantasy genre.

I did have some difficulties with the game. I had a tendency to hit plot points where I couldn't figure out where to go, so I wandered around until I got lucky. On a few levels, I couldn't quite figure out the dungeons, but my 9 year old daughter proved invaluable in helping me. The final battle proved difficult until I read about how the boss functioned, then I was able to beat it handily.

As a complaint, the end credits went on forever and a day.

The fight system itself was timed, which is a type of fighting that I dislike, but turning down the speed aided me greatly. I vastly prefer paused-time combat. Even so, I found it tolerable and not too annoying in this iteration. At times, I did get frustrated as time was supposed to stop as I picked spells (I picked that option), but on many boss fights, my character died while I was in the spell menu. That's a big no-no. That's why I dislike timed-input fights.

All in all, I do recommend this game for the RPG aficionado. It's good fun with a light heart and an optimistic tone. That's how I like my games.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
If you ever wanted more of the same in a JRPG, then Grinsia is the game for you. There is nothing new under the sun, and this game embraces that theology with a passion unmatched since Jesus invented the Stations of the Cross. Four characters, two substitute party members, and a goddess go on an epic journey to loot six lost artifacts from six improbable dungeons, opposed only by the might of an entire empire. If that weren't enough, there's a few extra side dungeons as well. The girls characters all had their required busts bursting out, and the boys all had their gelled hair.

If you play JRPGs, then you know the routine. You'll start this game and settle into the routine pretty fast. Hack, slash, loot, and a cut scene for every dungeon.

There were a few fights that I found overly difficult. By overly difficult, I mean that the bosses got MORE dangerous as the fight went on, rather than less dangerous. As one of those was the final boss, I said "screw it", because I really didn't need the agony of fighting that last boss to unlock the final cut scene where everything was set to rights.

As games go, this one will amuse you as you expect. I'm not sure that it amused me $7.99 worth of amusement. I'd rather pay $3.99 for Kemko games. I don't expect much at that price point and Kemko usually meets my low expectations. I need some brain candy for when bedtime rolls around.

I did enjoy the teleportation unlocking mechanism in the game. That made going back and forth way easier. So instead of a healing point before a boss fight, you hit a teleporter. It served the same function plus added the utility of a teleporter. If I didn't have enough levels to tackle a boss, I could rest up, come back, and grind the dungeon for a bit.

When I got tired of the game, I could play the in-game game of target shooting. If successful, you would win fabulous prizes. The game came across as rather dorky, but I'm fond of dorkness, so it was cool in my book. Sometimes you just have to fire arrows as passing icons.

I would term the encounter frequency of this game as "oppressive." Random encounters are fun, but this game often took random encounters to absurd frequencies. At least they had a spell which mitigated such encounters from oppressive to merely a bit much. The fights themselves felt rather repetative as the fights were rather repetative.

The dialog was dull but informative, and I found that the translation rather solid, always resembling native speaking English.

Most notable about the game were the things that it lacked. It had no flying ships, but don't worry, the game gives you a magical flying bird near the finale. There was no abstract space area for the final dungeon, instead sending you down into the bowels of the earth. Likewise, there were no romances nor were there

Overall, I think that I spent about 15 hours on the game, which is more than a usual Kemko.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
There comes a time in every JPRG where a game must follow in the footsteps of those that have come before. Soul Historica is that game. If you closed your eyes and guessed what this game was about, you'd ben 90% right. Classes, fighting, spells, jobs, and all the usual mechanics are there. In addition, most of the usual plot stuff is there: go dungeon delving, repeatedly encounter the same enemies, cumulating in an airship and a delve into a timeless space dungeon.

Where this game deviates from routine is in its split path play. Late in the story, you can either follow the BOY or the GIRL. WOOT. My daughter loved that we could switch to having the girl as the lead in the story. While entertaining, the twist didn't really add much to the game.

The whole adventure felt rather lackluster, so much so that I almost abandoned the game. This was no Symphony of the Origin. At the price, it'll keep you distracted for ten hours.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
If you need a turnkey style Japanese RPG, and you need it right now, then End of Aspiriation is for you.

Just go down the checklist to see that it contains everything that a JRPG should have:

  • Group of Heroes

  • Orphan (and lots of 'em)

  • Fallen Tech Civilzation

  • Ancient Ruins

  • Spells

  • Boss Fights

  • Buying and Selling

  • Chests

  • Dungeon Delving Quests for Widgets

Of note, this game did NOT have:

  • Betrayals

  • Romances

On the whole, you can guess what goes down. An orphan takes up the fight agains the Mafia, gathers a gang of do-gooders, then stomps around kicking evil in the balls. Do you really need more than that?

The battle system itself was a bit slow, but the Auto button worked well enough if I got bored. Sometimes, the frequency of fights got a bit tedious.

The talking heads part tended to drag as all the conversations were functional, often feeling stilted. The conversations conveyed the information that you needed to know, but did so without style. At best, the characterization was sufficient.

The game took me about 12 hours to complete, which is on-par with most Kemco games. This RPG will keep you occupied quite nicely for that time, and end when you've had enough of the game. (This is good in my opinion. It keeps the developers from adding in fluff content just to meet an arbitrary play time quota. Same story, fewer time wasters.) It's not the most amazing game in the world, but you didn't pay for that.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
I've been writing my little reviews for a while now, and I have now progressed to the point where I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. That's good. That means that I'm learning. So where should I go from here? Where should I develop and progress?

I think that my reviews should be informative, entertaining, and fun. My reviews should contain sentences hereto unimagined by man, and if imagined, promptly discarded as unacceptable. My reviews should be a bit longer, covering more topics.

Part of writing these reviews is to get the writing practice in. Talking about something is a skill that you use all the time in stories, so if I'm going to do this, I may as well learn to make the prose interesting and engaging.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Fortuna Magus is a Japanese RPG released by Kemko for Android and Kindle Fire. I presume that Kemko translated an existing game.

The game itself contains all required JRPG elements, such as orphans (three, just to be sure), betrayals, cynicism, and endless dungeon wandering quests. The mechanics included spells, upgrading weapons, boss battles, special attacks, team attacks, and a big bag of one-shot items.

Overall, I found the game occupying, but not engaging. All the characters pretty much said and did what you would expected of them, no more, no less. At time I completely forgot why I was in a dungeon, but that didn't matter at all. I found the game dull enough that I can't even find enough humor to tear into it.

The main twist of Fortuna Magus appears to be its multiple endings. If you get to one ending, the game tells you that there are additional endings. By the time that I reached ending #1, I didn't care that there were more endings. Playing this phoned-in game once was enough for me.

One play through took me 10 hours.

I can't recommend the game, so if you're feeling the JRPG itch, go buy Symphony of the Origin instead. 
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
I never expected to play Final Fantasy III. I had relegated it to history as I never intended to track down the game, nor did I ever intend to own a console again that would play that series. I had once owned a PS2, and on it I had played Final Fantasy X and X-2. That would be it. There would be no more. Then the tablet revoltion happened, and a very intelligent Square Enix remastered their Final Fantasy series, putting out the series for Android. As FF3 was only $5, a bargain in my book, I decided to buy and play.

I found FF3 a fairly charming story of four youths, four Warriors of Light, out to save their weird little corner of their polygon world. How do we know this? A sentient crystal told us so. The silly thing is that I never realized, until right now, that I had gotten my question from a sentient crystal. Perhaps it had some sort of being in it? Anyhow, once the crystal told me that I had a Mission-From-God to Save-the-Orphanage, it was time to hit the road and get the band together.

The band? A group of four young people from all walks of life, each given their own assigned color. Where have we seen that before?

So by now, you should realize that there's nothing original in this story. Most of the adventure revolves around grabbing something from some dungeon and then putting it into another dungeon, and then a boss fight happens. After the boss fight, something big may or may not happen that allows you to go out and find more dungeons for more boss fights. You can pretend that you saved the world after any boss fight that you want to because the story will vary very little.  Yet, that's not a knock on the game. As I said, the game is charming. It contains no cynicism or betrayal. In that way, it may be an early entrant into the New Sincerity movement. Or would it be late? I always misremember when that movement started.

As for hitting the road, you hit the road in style, receiving a series of ever-better and ever-cooler ships to wisk you about the world, sometimes above it, and sometimes below it. There never seems to be a lack of new ships.

My biggest mechanical complaint was for the final battle. You had to fight through multiple dungeons, beat multiple bosses, then take out the main biggest-baddest-boss, all without saving. That last battle was an all-or-nothing marathon. I guess that was to make sure that you showed your true grit, but for me, that was an annoying way to lose several hours of gameplay with one bad battle.

My smaller mechanical complaint was occasional need for grinding. I would run into absolutely brutal boss fights, barely eeking my way through. I eventually figured out that I wasn't grinding at all, and that my characters were completing dungeons seriously under-leveled. In a way, I guess that I showed what a bad-assed RPG player that I was, but that wasn't my intention. What I really wanted was some brain candy and some auto-fighting.

Early on, I did lose the plot a few times, wandering about the world like a lost fool, which turned out to be helpful as that was grinding, except not grinding because I did have some fun exploring.

The 3D part drained my Kindle's battery like nobody's business. All 3D games suck down power on my Kindle.

Would I have paid $50 for this game? I don't think so. But at $5 for my Kindle, I think that it worked out well enough. 
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
A few years back, I bought a slew of Bioware games for dirt cheap. By the time that I completed Dragon Age, I was thoroughly sick of Bioware games. Fast forward two years, and I finally felt up to playing Dragon Age 2.

It was a game, and what there was, it had a lot of it.

I'm not a fan of Bioware storytelling. I find the whole cinematic story a bridge too far for me. For crying out loud, drop the cut scenes and give me shit to fight, OK? Fortunately, I learned the use of the ESC key to grind through the cut scense faster.

I finally learned what it was that annoyed me about the cut scenes. I think that they use novel writers to create the dialog, which I think is a pretty bad idea. You do want the novel writers creating the story and the world, but when it comes to dialog, if you want a cinematic story, you need SCREENWRITERS. If Bioware ever gets smart enough to hire halfway decent screenwriters, those cut scenes might become worth watching.

The story itself follows a rags-to-riches structure. Hawke and family, fleeing from war, come as refugees to the city. Here, Hawke, a person of no particular character, advances through the city ranks through butchery of everyone else's foes. After enough butchery, she rises in status, and a new chapter of the story unfolds, with all the same heartless butchery as the previous chapter.

Apathy. That's what best decribes the first act. I went though all the adventures with total apathy. With chapter two, apatchy was replaced with disgust. By the time that I ended that chapter, I wanted to walk out of that city and let the place burn to the ground. It deserved it. Chapter three was just annoying, and I that I wanted to do was to board a boat with Tits, the Pirate Girl, who is most notable for her huge and well displayed tits, and Jugs, my sister, and leave the town in ruins, a victim of its own turpitude.

Your supporting party would have been better played by a slate of characters without any personality at all, as that would have beaten the annoying and irritating personalities that they were given. In short, they each deserved to be abandoned to their fates. It's only because you got almost free XP from helping them that you actually bothered helping them at all.

A major plot thread centers around the conflict between the mages and the Templars, the military mage herders. To say that each was institutionally stupid understates the pure strains of stupidity driving a wedge between the groups. It seems that mages can use demons to make themselves strong, and the only way to defeat them is by organzing into a group and not fighting them one-on-one. Given that the Templars can kick a wizard's ass, its doesn't seem that wizards should even be a problem, and yet, they are to be feared without limit. So naturally, the Templars stick all the mages together into one place, because that's safer, right? Right?

In my imagination, I walked out of the game at the end of Act 2. In truth, I took the game to the end, fought the final battle, then went to bed without thinking about the ending at all. At this point, the ending is already hazy, which shows you how important the ending was.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
I've been playing a console-style RPG on my Kindle lately, Symphony of the Origin. As the title implies, this Japanese style RPG has translation issues. By issues, I mean that the game producers didn't even try to clean up their translation. Despite that, the game is charming in its Japanese ways. You literally fight EVILS. LOL.

My daughter noticed this new game quickly, so now we are playing it together. I fight through dungeons, while she reads all the text and then watches the boss battles. This is geeky-endearing in all the most geeky ways.

I now have a theory that the power of a warrior is determined by the amount of hair-gel that he uses.

I really need to get my girl chewing on my anime. She would adore Takahashi. I need to see what's on Netflix.
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Further on this road of freshman year, 1984, we encounter the 1982 game Ultimat II: The Revenge of the Enchantress. In this particular game, you wandered here and there across a large land, eventually leading to an epic battle against somebody over something, most likely involving the fate of the world. Besides wandering about the world, you got to wander about in the past, in the future, and even on other planets.



Unlike Wizardry, my memories of this game are far duller. I never attempted to play it again over the years. Part of that comes from the two weeks that I played this game and only playing this game. Eat, Sleep, Class, and Ultima. Maybe I did some homework in there. I frequently blame this game for failing me out of Engineering and Calculus.

I remember having a tough time leveling a wizard character because any character only got XP for the characters that they killed, and the wizard tended to wound enemies while the fighters killed them. Once I learned how to fireball properly, the tables turned, and the wizards burned up levels.

The largest challenge in this game's quests was finding the quest giver again. If you didn't make very good notes about the quest when you got it, you could easily never complete it simply because there were so many possible places for the quest giver to be.

I went on to play Ultima 1 and Ultima 3, but by the time of Ultima 4, I had just gotten burned out on this style of game. I just didn't like running about in the ways that the game required, and so I abandoned one of the greatest RPG francheses ever created. 

Wizardry!

Sep. 8th, 2014 10:38 am
dmilewski: (Macbeth the Usurper)
Let's jump out of the hardware of 1984 and into the software. I'm talking about games and I'm talking about Wizardry.

I got my copy of Wizardry from the guy across the hall. He copied the game from somebody else. That's how it worked back in the day. We were the people, copying rampantly at college, who inspired the need for copy protection.

Wizardry itself was published in 1981, so was already three years old by the time that I got my copy in 1984. The game featured ray-traced graphics and bitmapped monsters, all in brilliant 4-color palat, assuming that you had a color monitor. (Back then, color monitors were not a gvien.)

Today, Wizadry would be called a hardcore game. You faced your fate and you faced it without nets, dying horribly and repeatedly. Being intelligent people, we devised our own nets.  We copied off our game disks if we were patient. If we forgot to do that, on learning that your characters were about to die, we simply opened up your floppy drive and stopped the computer from writing your fate onto the disk. Rebooting, we recovered your characters and continued onward.

In building your party, the most reliable strategy was to train up new fighters in the back rows, then change their class to Wizard or Priest. You now had a wizard or priest with many hit point. Eventually you graduated those into bishops, who had two full ranks of spells, meaning that they could dish out damage and heal as well.

It's easy to dis fighters in this game, but early on, they were vital. They were the most survivable character, so that when you hit the bad encounters that savaged your party, they could fight their way out of the dungeon. Of course, bad luck being what it is, you sometimes hit another lethal battle and died there and then. Even so, a long dungeon expedition required that you use your resources wisely, so your fighters did most of the work most of the time. That extended your ability to explore and acquire wealth.

A few mule characters were very useful. Once you had a character that could raise the dead, then keeping him around just to do that save you significant amounts of money. Additionally, you wanted a mule to hold your most valuable duplicate equipment and excess gold. That way, if your party wiped early on, you had accumulated enough wealth that starting your next party would be significantly easier.

Maps were inredibly important in this game. Being pre-internet, we had to make our  own maps. I spent hours thoroughly mapping the 10 level dungeon that was the Maze. As the entire game was featureless raytraced graphics, you got turned around far too easily. The map also featured secret and one-way doors, along with pits to lower levels, just to make your life a little more irritating.

Later on in my life, I acquired carpel tunnel, which I ascribe to the automatic mapping in games. Before automatic mapping, my game play paused as I drew maps, but afterwards, I played without pause, which is very bad for your hands.

I played some of Wizardry 2,3, 4, and 5. I didn't really get back into the franchise until 6, 7, and 8. By then, it had lost its crazy insane hardcore roots and worked far more like other RPGs.
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