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8:58 PM on 04.20.2009

Persona 4 review

If you played Persona 3, enjoyed it, and haven't played Persona 4 yet; stop reading and get this game now. Persona 4 mostly keeps the same level of quality as the previous game and sometimes even surpasses it in some aspects. With that said, onto my review.



Persona 4 is at its core is a JRPG that consists of mainly two parts. These two parts are the dungeon crawling portion, and the social interaction part. The dungeon crawling part involves your party going through various dungeons basically beating the crap out of shadows, the main enemies of this game. The battles are typical Shin Megami Tensei fanfare, turn based combat that rewards exploiting enemies' weaknesses with extra turns and attacks. The combat is pretty much as streamlined as turn based combat can be. One improvement that Persona 4 made over Persona 3 is the ability to directly control everybody aside from the main character. While this does make the battles longer than they were in Persona 3; it beats HOPING the character AI will do what you want them to do.



Keeping true with the series, personas make triumphant return here. Personas are the avatars that the playable characters use to cast magic and personas also dictate their strengths and weaknesses. The main character also has the ability to switch between multiple personas that you can catch and fuse. The fusion system can be used to essentially make custom personas and a player that really invests themselves to this system will be rewarded with Personas that are built for their play style.



The big thing that separates the recent Persona entries from every other JRPG out there is the social interactions in game. While there are NPCs in every RPG that you play that you can talk to, in the recent Persona games they actually affect how powerful the personas you create are. These social interactions with these characters also help deepen the story by providing subplots outside the main plot. One neat thing that occurs with these interactions is the manner in which they intertwine with the story. This has a very immersive quality as everything connects to another within the story. The story plays out like a murder mystery within the confines of a small Japanese town with some dangerous TV dimension thrown in for good measure. The story also does not require the player to have any knowledge of what happened in Persona 3, though there are nice cameos and easter eggs for those that have played Persona 3.



Personally, I preferred the Persona 3 story. While Persona 4 is certainly more palatable with its story, it just didn't have the trademark Shin Megami Tensei atmosphere of being constantly messed up. That was what really drew me to Persona 3 and the Shin Megami Tensei series in general, and was a little bit disappointed with the mostly light-hearted atmosphere. This is a fairly minor gripe though and really didn't take away from the great story in the grand scheme of things. That and Persona 4 is quite simply mechanically better than Persona 3 was



All of these make Persona 4 an excellent place to start for people new to the Persona series. Persona 4 is more than likely the best JRPG of 2008 and should be an instant buy for fans of the genre, and a game to check out for those people that haven't played many JRPGs to sample the best the genre can offer.

Score: 9.5   read


5:06 PM on 03.17.2009

Persona 4 impressions (I'm Late I know)

Time for the long overdue impressions that I promised you guys. Right Now I am past the sixth dungeon and I think I am fairly far into the game. With a game like Persona 4 though, I don't think that I am too close at beating the game yet. Here are the impressions I have from the game so far.



I really like how Persona 4 streamlined so many things that Persona 3 did. Traveling in town is much faster, you have access to many more social links at the get go, the story is more approachable, you control all characters in battle, the list can keep on going if I really wanted to. That and all the stuff that I really liked from Persona 3 is here, examples being social links and the turn based combat.



The social links are about as good as they were in Persona 3 with the exception of two in particular. All the social links focus on a particular moral dilemma that a person can really think about and maybe apply it to real life. Some of the social links actually hit really close to home for me at times, I grew up in a very small neighborhood so some of the issues really resonated with me.

I don't like the fact that SP is now what dictates how long you stay in dungeons. As long as you keep the SP high, you can spend an indefinite amount of time in the dungeon. This is quite possible if you play your cards right, literally speaking; and if you strengthen a particular social link. It got to the point where I beat the last dungeon I was in with only one trip.



The story, up to the point I am playing at least, seems pretty good. It actually plays around with the Persona name and focuses on the facades people put on in front of others. That being said, I still prefer the Persona 3 story for some reason. Probably because the sense of urgency Persona 3 throughout the game and the fact that you can only do so many things in one time in that game added so much too the mood. Though Persona 4 could totally pull the rug from under me since some of the game's big mysteries don't seem even close to being solved.

So far from what I have seen though Persona 4 does the name proud though since it is easily again one of the better RPGs I have played in awhile. Whether or not it is better than Persona 3 at this point depends where the Persona 4 story goes from here.   read


10:42 PM on 03.01.2009

Re-Learning Street Fighter

MadCatz.



That name represents wasted money and crap products to this day to many a gamer out there. MadCatz know this so their PR people are actually trying disprove that, now that accessories are in vogue like guitars and joysticks. Too bad that they still can not make a good controller for the life of them. I made the decision to buy the fight pad form them. And at first all was great actually, the controller did make a difference for the better in my playing. Of course all this is true until the buttons decided to crap out and activate at times when I didn't even press them. Thanks to some connections I had with the store I was able to return the controller and just pay the difference on an arcade stick, made by motherf^%$in MadCatz of all companies.



Its MadCatz I know, but I can actually get this modded if needs be to be a better joystick relatively easily. That and I always wanted a joystick. "Now that I have a joystick, I will be able to just demolish even more people!" I thought.



I went from a state of being in absolute complacency with the level of control I had in fighting games, to feeling the white hot rage that comes from not being able pull a Shoryuken motion consistently. Several years of complacency like that makes your pride hurt real bad when you can't do a special attack. That feeling of helplessness that comes from knowing what you have to do but can't is the worst. "I want to actually pull off my Soul Throw Dammit!" ran through my mind countless times. This was also when I realized I did actually care for my BP in Street Fighter. I went from 2100 BP to a lowly 1500 BP quickly because I refused to use a PS3 controller. Eventually I got mad enough where I started using a controller for the rest of the ranked matches and switched to the arcade stick during arcade mode. "I am better than this!" I thought. I was angry at myself for essentially being back in square one.

The night after it clicked.

I was in a place where I haven't been since I started playing the original Street Fighter Alpha. I was actually learning to play fighting games all over again in a sense. This realization filled me with nostalgia about the days where I could care less about technique and winning and just having fun again. So what if I can't do a Shoryuken? I improvised back when I was playing alpha, I'll just have to improvise once more. I was in essence re-learning how to play fighting games.



"I'll get there eventually. I'll master Shoryukens again someday. I'll become a competent fighter again" were the thoughts that ran through my head. It was then that I realized that because of my retained experience and determination, that I was not in square one in terms of fighting games. All of this was familiar yet new at the same time. I realized I was in the New Game + of fighting games. My BP right now is about 1400 and will probably fall more, but thatís ok now. I'm new to Fighting games in sense. I'll just have to get back on the square I was at, one Shoryuken at a time.

  read


2:58 PM on 02.26.2009

Street Fighter IV Review and an Open Challenge

Street Fighter 4 is quite arguably the most anticipated fighting game to have come out in a while. Capcom hasn't come out with a main branch Street Fighter since Third Strike, and that has been out for quite a while now. I was optimistic about this fighter though I wouldn't be surprised if it was a complete disaster given that something as cool sounding as Capcom Fighting Evolution turned out to be garbage. Thank goodness it wasn't close to being a disaster.



As a fighting game fan, I really like this game. I think that this game is worthy of being a main branch Street Fighter game. While I would have preferred the combo system to be a tad tighter in this game, SF4 doesn't get too loose to the point where its actually detracts from the playing experience. The revenge gauge is also a nice touch, always having that "great equalizer" effect on a lot of matches and can really provide a player of lesser skill too actually make a comeback. The revenge gauge is also not as broken as the Guilty Gear Instant Kills are, but not as irrelevant as Soul Calibur's. The Focus Attacks are also a pretty cool addition since you can treat them as unblockables or as parries given the situation.



Street Fighter 4 also has the prerequisite modes every fighter should have by now: Arcade, Versus, Online, and Training. It also comes with challenge mode which is basically just a mission mode that has time attack, survival, and trial mode which just has you making combos. While it also has Gallery mode, the amount of modes is kind of disappointing and they really could have done some really interesting with challenge mode (like showing you how to use focus attacks to parry more than one attack). While the developer wanted to go back to the simplicity of Street Fighter 2, this is not that much more inviting of newcomers to fighting games than Street Fighter 3 was.



Online isÖboth good and bad at the same time. The actual online fighting is pretty much good. Most matches are lag free to my knowledge but you of course run into the few people that lag like crazy and make you wanna punch a puppy. There are a few questionable decisions made with online, like making online lobbies limited to two people and being able to see who you fight in ranked matches; but if youíre here for just the fight, these shouldn't bother you too much. Aside from online, there is also a tad bit of replayability left with some unlockables. While unlockable characters are always a plus with most people, your mileage with unlockable titles and tiles may vary.



Overall, I was satisfied with Street Fighter 4. SF4 by no means astounded me though. Then again, I don't think a fighter has done that since the original Guilty Gear X2 for PS2. It is by all means still a fun fighting game that shouldn't be missed by Street Fighter fans, or fans of the genre for that matter.

Score 8.5

I also want to issue an open challenge to the fine people here. Tired of fighting the endless legion of Ken users online? I'm taking on all challengers. I have a somewhat competent Rose and a BP of about 2100 if that matters much to you. Just send me an invite on PSN. And with that I leave you with an image of my SF4 stuff.

  read


10:47 PM on 02.01.2009

10 Things you probably didn't know about Shiro

1.) I took 3 months of a Mixed Martial Arts class.

It was really fun and I would really go back into training again if only I had the time (and not as many games to beat). I can say with a straight face that I can actually hold my own in a one on one fight :P



2.) I like my coffee with ABSOLUTELY nothing in it.

I drink coffee, not coffee flavored sugar and milk. I also like it really strong.



3.) I used my PS2 for absolutely nothing but DDR MAX 2 for 3 months straight.

I got DDR MAX 2 with the mat for Christmas about 6 years ago (man does that make me feel old for some reason) and was so hooked on it thatís all I played. Now that I think about, it that is probably the leanest I have ever been too.


4.) I actually enjoy watching the occasional sports game.

It doesn't matter what sport it is really (American Football, REAL Football, Tennis, Etc.) I'll watch it if it catches my interest and is a close game. And yes I did watch the Super Bowl even though its kinda taboo here in Destrucoid.



5.) I like singing in Rock Band.

I never got into karaoke before hand and I just like singing in Rock Band. This likely due to the fact that I can go into my insane/obnoxious theatrics a lot better when I am singing than with any other instruments. This is also probably why I don't like playing the drums much either.


6.) A magician made me disappear in a car on the eve of my ninth birthday.

And I don't mean the cheap magician that you hire for a kids birthday party. It was freakin' Lance Burton on one of his shows in the Monte Carlo (I dunno if he is still popular or not but that is one of my most cherished memories). To this day, I have only told two people (My Grandpa, and a good friend) the exact way on how he pulled off this trick. Man that was seriously cool.



7.) I think that my manner of writing/speaking is a little too pretentious.

I use way too many big words when I speak or write. I sometimes think that it gives me that aura of "that pompous d-bag". Sometimes I need to remind myself to use more words that are common.


8.) My screen name actually came in two parts.

The first time I ever joined a community I used the overly long "Crashes to Crushes" as my screen name. After some time everyone there just shortened it to C2C and it just stuck to everything else online I did. I used Shiro on all the games that allowed me to name the characters for a while (Not anymore though I just name them off of whatever comes to my head). I just combined the two and thatís been my handle for many things now.


9.) Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have bought a PS3 when I did.

Don't get me wrong, I like my 60GB PS3; but when I bought it, I was under the illusion that certain games would remain console exclusive (Tekken and Final Fantasy are the big ones that come to mind). There are only a couple of PS3 exclusive games that prevent me from selling my PS3 right now.



10.) My favorite movie as a kid was Little Nemo.

Back in the day I could recite the whole "hajamapajama" line by memory. Sadly, I never played the NES game though I plan to fix that sooner or later. Man after posting this Iím actually going to watch that movie again for nostalgiaís sake.   read


2:24 PM on 01.31.2009

Review: DJ Max Portable

The PSP is kinda notorious now for not really having too many great games .To be quite frank, I would have to agree since I know I would've sold my PSP a while back had it not been for one series of games. That series is the DJ Max series





The DJ max series of games are basically Beatmania clones with a couple of tweaks. Notes scroll down in with the music and you must hit the right button at the appropriate time. What separates DJ Max from Beatmania is the fact that you can change the scrolling speed at anytime to make some notes much easier to hit. Also, in DJ Max you can you can switch the appearance of some of the notes and even the HUD, which they call the gear for some reason. The DJ Max series had its start on PC and is now branching out to PSP and Arcade. The first entry to the PSP is DJ Max portable.



The song list in this game offers a good variety of genres and songs to choose from, albeit with a bias towards more dance songs , it is a rhythm game after all. Depending on your skill level, the game offers different note charts that require fewer/more buttons. These note charts are 4 buttons, 6 buttons, and 8 buttons; you do however have to unlock 8 button mode (though if you are new to the series it'll be a while before you are able to stand your own with 8 buttons).



Speaking of unlockables, there are a TON of unlockables in DJ Max portable. . Unlockables range from hidden songs, gears, notes, and some extra stuff like movies and images that you can't even use in the game itself. This is really great for people who want replayability and like to unlock stuff (I know I do). The two ways you unlock stuff is by playing songs and getting a certain amount of combos. While playing a certain amount of songs is somewhat standard for these kind of games, unlocking stuff by combos is more tedious than it should be. The reason for this is because you can only unlock one thing via combo per play through; the sheer amount of unlockables makes this the longest and most annoying stuff to get.



Another problem with this game is that the note charts don't seem to accommodate the fact that you are using the PSP. Since you are basically limited to your thumbs, and in some cases your index fingers, you can't really pull of some of the stuff that you can on PC. DJ Max portable also really isn't very friendly to new players because of this. Depending on which version of this game you get, the original or international version, you may also not get the option to change the menus to English. In the games defense though there isn't many menus in the original version that will trip up the non-Korean speaker.



Although a little rough around the edges, the first DJ Max for the PSP is still a good game for DJ Max veterans. For everyone else though, there are better DJ Max game on the PSP at this point and is only really worth checking out after you've had ample time with the series.


Grade: 7.0   read


3:21 PM on 01.30.2009

Autosave: a double edged sword for RPGs



For a time I thought that manual saving was an obsolete relic of times past. Though I certainly did play many games during the pre-PS2 eras, most of my gaming experience comes from the PS2 era where autosave games were starting to get quite common. Many of the games I played (mostly the arcade kind) had autosave saving me from spending time actually trying to save. But it always bugged me that most, if not all, the RPGs that I played at the time didn't come with this awesome feature.



Almost anyone who has played some kind of RPG that required you to save has some kind of horror story of losing hours of progress on an RPG just because they didn't save. This situation isn't even exclusive to RPGs, I think I just attribute it more to them because of how time intensive those kind of games are. It is the worst feeling, having to retread old ground in a game simply because you didn't save the first time around. This anti-manual save stigma grew to the point where I thought that every 360 were the game without autosave would annoy me to some degree. Cue in Fallout 3.



Fallout 3 would have been good game had it not been so janked up with so many glitches and problems. In an ironic twist though it wasn't a glitch that made me hate Fallout 3, but the autosave feature that I so highly viewed. In Fallout 3 every time you enter an area the game autosaves. Late in the game I entered an area, a building in this case, where I wasn't supposed to be and angered the wrong kind of people. So I got turned into Swiss Cheese. "No biggy, I'll just load up the save and get outta the building", I thought. Nope, the people outside were pissed too; seeming to telepathically know that I pissed off the people inside and proceeded to tear me to pieces. I then came to the realization that the autosave screwed me over into a situation that I could not win nor escape. The last manual save was 16 Hours before this.

I stopped playing Fallout 3 since then.

I have now grown to appreciate manual saving and no longer view it negatively. Both autosaving and manual saving have their advantages and disadvantages. Manual saving puts you in charge of saving and only you are to blame for any progress lost because you didnít save often. Autosave spares you from having to remember to autosave but can royally screw you over if it saves you in a horrible situation. But I had to re-learn a basic lesson from RPG Playing 101, save and save often.   read


10:31 PM on 01.06.2009

Goodbye 1UP podcasts

As many of you know, 1UP was in essence castrated today by UGO, this included podcasts and all that was basically cool with 1UP. I was gonna write a really long article about the good quality of the 1UP podcasts and such; but I'll bore you instead with an image of the 1UP podcasts I subscribed to on the brink of deletion.



Yup, about 1/3rd of my podcasts had their final episode not too long ago. Oh well, at least most of them ended with a really good episode; a fitting end I guess for some good podcasts out there. In an ironic twist though most of these were year-end episodes that looked towards the future. I guess I'm podcast hunting now.

Goodbye EGM, Goodbye 1UP. It was good times while it lasted.

EGM 1989-2009

1UP 2003-2009   read


10:25 PM on 12.22.2008

Review: Dash of Destruction

When I barely got my X-Box 360, I remember watching some of the free promotional videos for a make your own video game contest. There was some good ideas here and there by some contestants, I remember some dude describing what was in essence Audiosurf but with a more race-car feel to it that sounded neat. I knew though that this would not end well after simply because it was Dorritos sponsored. I remember the last time a game came out by a non-game company and that game was Yaris. The result is better than Yaris, but that is not saying much at all



The premise of the game is your either a T. Rex going after Dorrito Delivery Trucks, or youíre the truck delivering Dorritos while avoiding the T. Rex. To balance out the gameplay, trucks handle better than T. Rexes but the lumbering oaf of a dinosaur can tear through buildings.



The premise could have made for a fun game, somehow, but it is no good predictably. The controls are horrible in this game. Playing as a T. Rex is a chore and not fun, and controlling the truck is only marginally better. The game also decides to throw in another truck/T. Rex combo on some modes which only causes utter chaos, in the bad way.

Normally this would merit a score of 4 (subpar) by itself but the game decides to get cute and throw some jokes between rounds. Wit is a good addition when done right and enhances games in certain cases. Just ask Valve. The comedy in this game however falls flat on its face. It uses the kind of jokes that make you cringe. It made me cringe even more because the person writing this garbage probably thought it was funny.



There are really only two justifiable reasons anyone should download this game:

1.) Your broke after buying your Xbox 360 and you download all the free games available,
2.) Your going after the easy achievement points.

And even then there are better options out there for both reasons, at this point your just scraping off the bottom of the barrel.

Score: 3.5   read


8:14 PM on 12.21.2008

Yakuza 2 Review

Yakuza is a very well known series in Japan. From what I hear, the newest Yakuza game that came out in Japan is considered a PS3 seller. If you look towards the west, the Yakuza series is still relatively unknown. The latest Yakuza game to come out in the west is Yakuza 2.



Yakuza 2 is in essence a 3D brawler. The combat isn't deep at all at first and only adds depth later on with some new combos and techniques. Yakuza 2 is very combo-centric and sometimes Kazuma, the main character of the story and the dude you control, will keep punching air if you wiff a combo. You can also pick up weapons in this game to use against opponents. The weapons, while generally really effective against regular enemies, are useless against bosses and are cumbersome compared to regular hand to hand combat. The real highlight in the combat is what is called heat moves. Heat Moves are basically the equivalent of a super move in a fighting, once your heat gauge is full you can perform heat moves that do huge damage. Most heat moves look absolutely brutal when performed, something that never gets old.



Yakuza 2 also has some RPG elements to it. After every fight you gain experience points that you can spend on improving some aspect of Kazuma. These improvements range from increased health, learning a new technique, to doing more damage while your heat gauge is full. You can also equip Kazuma with weapons and armor before a match starts with some special effects. These are varied and are usually very helpful.



This should obviously go without saying, but don't go into Yakuza 2 expecting really great graphics. Even for a PS2 game the engine Yakuza 2 uses shows its age and even the PS3's upscaling doesn't help matters much. That being said, stylistic point of view Yakuza 2 is great. When you walk around the cityscape, it looks as though you are walking in a real city. Yakuza aims for a realistic yakuza feel and it does, all the people and locales fit within the feel. As far as presentation goes Yakuza 2 is almost at a MGS4 level as far as story-telling is concerned, it is just limited by it engine.

The story is really good and could easily be in a yakuza themed action-movie. If you missed the first Yakuza (like I did), Yakuza 2 puts you up to speed with the events that happened in the first game. The story is very much mired into general Japanese and yakuza culture, so all the Japanophiles out there will get an immediate kick out of this game. The only complaint I have with the story is that a couple of the final scenes have too many twists that were not really well executed. The story as whole more than makes up for this though. The reason I don't go too in depth of what the story is about is because it is that good.



If you just play through the story and pay little attention to anything else, the game is a tad on the shorter side of things. The story should last about 14-18 hours depending on how hellbent you are in finishing this game. To remedy this Yakuza 2 has many kinds of mini-games to pad out the time. The most infamous of these are the hostess bars where you can play a dating minigame. Most of these are hit or miss, and I didn't really bother with most of them since I wanted the story to keep on going.

Overall though if you want game with a great story that isn't the usual "Save The World from the Nazis/Demons/Aliens/Evil Twin" on the PS2, it is really hard to do better than Yakuza 2


Score 8.5   read


12:21 PM on 12.16.2008

You pick what I review

I want to try my hand at reviewing some games. The problem is I don't know what you guys want a review of. So instead of taking a wild a guess and hoping for the best I'll let you guys decide what game you want a review of (taking the general idea from Pliskin's blog). You get to choose 1 game for each category of review I'll be doing. Voting for the games I review ends on Thursday.


Future Game Review:
This review will come as soon as I beat the game (I haven't beat any of the games on here), with impressions of the game as I go along.



ShinMegaTen: Persona 4
Valkyria Chronicles
ShinMegaTen: Devil Summoner
Lost Odyssey
DJ Max Portable Clazziquai

Quick Game Review:
All of these games I have beaten (or have gotten far enough where I can review it), and will post a review 2 days after voting closes.



Wartech: Senko No Ronde
ShinMegaTen: Persona 3
Yakuza 2
Call of Duty: WaW (360)
DJ Max Portable 2

Retro Game Review:
Lastly, these are retro games that I haven't played and will post a review as soon as I beat the game with some impressions along the way.



Megaman 2
Earthworm Jim (SNES)
Earthbound
Comix Zone
Phantasy Star II


*My lack of retro gaming must really show right about now :P


Remember voting ends on Thursday.   read


12:46 PM on 12.10.2008

Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine impressions



When I heard that the Shin Megami MMO was getting translated into Enlgish, I signed up to get into the closed beta in an instant. Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine sounded like an MMO that could actually be different because of what is expected of a Shin Megami game. It seems this is a beta that wears the Shin Megami license on its sleeves.

There are a lot of disconnecting issues in this MMO but this is ok since itís a beta. The combat reminds me a bit of Sword of the New World's combat system since you can control more than one person at times (yourself and your demon partner). The talk system is back from the older ShinMegaTen games to recruit demons this time around. For those who haven't played these games, you talk to the demons to recruit them into your party, give you stuff, or just plain give up the fight. It's kinda like Pokemon in a sense, but satanic.



The pacing is a little bit off since the rate at which you get money here is a little on the slow side of things. This means that you can't even get the beginning armors/weapons without grinding a bit. This MMO also has more of the original Shin Megami Tensei vibe than the later Persona games everyone loves so much. You have to talk to the demons to recruit them instead of just picking one up randomly after the battle, and this is set in a post apocalyptic Tokyo instead of the somewhat close to real life Tokyo. This actually also brings another point. It doesn't do anything really different though aside from the demon recruiting when you compare it to any other MMO. You still grind when you want better anything and combat feels mostly the same, with the exception of perhaps some counter moves. It's not a bad MMO by any means, it just isn't that good either.



If you like Persona but have no experience with the other ShinMegaTen games, pass this up since it caters to a different audience. If you liked Nocturne or any of the retro ShinMegaTen games, give this a go. As for me, I think I'm done with the beta and I'll wait for the full release to see if some of the stability issues resolve.   read





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