Isay Isay is a 32 year old gamer living in Columbia, SC. I cut my teeth on the early Sierra/Lucasarts adventure games and honed my skills on the Genesis. I'm a proud poppa of 2. You might already be aware of my style of PUN-ditry
Currently Playing DS - Final Fantasy 6 Advance
PSP - Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
PS3 - #Darksiders2
What's in a name? So where does Isay Isay come from? Well to amuse myself, I name all my characters I say so whenever someone talks to them they sound like Foghorn Leghorn or what I thought English people sounded like when I was little. Needless to say, I'm easily amused.
Most everyone around here knows about Persona 3/FES/4 and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is a hardcore RPG loverís dream, but there is another Atlus RPG that tends to get lost in flood of praise for those games. Digital Devil Saga (DDS) is a great side story/alternate universe in the SMT lineup and is something that any Atlus fan should experience. I ask you to name a better post-apocalyptic, cannibalistic RPG.
Welcome to the Junkyard
The world of DDS is bleak and grim. 6 tribes are locked in an unending struggle to gain control of the area and earn passage to Nirvana. There is no emotion. There are no signs of new life. The game begins with the main characterís tribe, the Embryon, waging war against there closest competitors, the Vangaurd. A mysterious pod appears close to the borders of both tribesí territory. Orders are given by a mysterious voice to destroy the object. During the fray, the pod opens and strange marks appear on everyone around it and suddenly all hell breaks loose (in a literal sense). People begin taking on demonic forms and immediately start devouring each other in a fury of blood lust and hunger. The main character eventually blacks out and dreams of a world unlike the Junkyard. When he and the rest of his tribe awaken, the pod is gone and a naked girl is discovered alone in a crater. The Embryon take the girl and return to their base.
After the incident, people are suddenly feeling emotions Ė establishing unique personalities. Your characters travel to the Vanguard headquarters in hopes of finding out more about what actually happened, but they find the Vanguardís leader, Harley, cowering in fear over these new demonic tendencies. The Embryon eventually defeat Harley and take over his tribesí land. Upon returning to the Embryon HQ, members of their own tribe are turning on each other. Suddenly, the mysterious girl, Sera, begins to sing and all the demons revert to their human forms. Just who is this girl and what is her purpose in this world?
The Karma Temple, the overarching power in this world that establishes the rules and tries to keep order, calls each leader of the tribes to a neutral location to discuss the incident. However, during the meeting a new being calling itself ďAngelĒ orders everyone to embrace their new powers, defeat and consume the other tribes and earn a place in Nirvana.
So begins the playerís journey to discover what drives this world and what role they and Sera play in it.
Gameplay: one part SMT + one part Final Fantasy? The core gameplay is exactly like the other SMT games: Each side in an encounter has a certain number of ďpress turnsĒ which allows actions to be gained or lost depending on both the playerís and the enemyís strengths and weaknesses. For example, if an enemy is weak against ice, using an ice spell allows the player another action during their turn.
My major gripe with SMT: Nocturne was playing Sophieís choice on any new ability I learned. As you progressed in that game, whenever you learn a new ability, you had to decide to keep it (and in most cases sacrifice another ability) or lose it forever. Is this new one worth it? Will I regret passing on it? Did I give up the wrong one? Very frustrating. DDS goes so far as to remove those choices altogether; once you learn an ability, you have it to use whenever you feel like it. This flexibility adds a nice layer of strategy as you continue to progress and encounter different types of enemies. This new system kind of resembles Final Fantasyís job system/sphere grid/job board where you can build any character in any way of your choosing. This can make your party very generic and some might say it makes the game easier in a sense. Well, the game is still ďAtlus hardĒ despite these new additions. Regular enemies can wipe your party if you arenít careful.
The Overall Story DDS doesnít have the greatest story ever, but it is enjoyable. Many personal elements are touched on here Ė Honor (Lupa), Regret (Jinana), Anger/Rage (Varin). Memories and prior sins of your party are foreshadowed in the first game and fully explained in the series sequel. Many moral questions can be brought up about your characters during certain plot twists. The story does fall flat in some respects like a reverse-Tron situation with characters at the end of the first game and the final battle with the ďSunĒ in the sequel.
The game does have some lighthearted moments which was a nice contrast to the overall tone of the game. Cieloís rant about Argilla in the ship was hilarious. Heatís multiple attempts to eat the Solids leader made me smile.
If you havenít played and can find a copy, by all means give it a try. It is a timesink, but what Atlus game isnít? I doubt another iteration in this series will ever happen, but I can still hope.
So last week marked the end of my first year as a dad and I thought I should reflect on how my gaming life has changed in that time. I will note that I wouldnít change anything that has happened during that time and if I have to sacrifice my gaming time, I have no problem with that.
100 cocktails to handhelds There was period of about 6 months or so where I didnít turn on a console for a game specific purpose. Heck, my Wii hasnít seen any serious action for even longer (insert marriage/parenting joke here). I just donít have time to sit down and play when my daughter is awake and by the time sheís in bed Iím too tired to even start anything let alone put any significant time. With so little console gaming time available, wasting that on grinding just seems frivolous and if you look at my queue Iíve got some grindy games to catch up on. However, give me a RPG on a handheld and Iím set. I can waste my lunch hour walking around in a circle on FFV. I can spend a few minutes sitting in bed making progress. I can easily close my DS and come back if needed without having to completely give up the console so we can watch Baby Einstein. Thank you DS and PSP Ė youíve allowed me to keep getting my fix.
100 cocktails to Goozex As you can see by my profile, Goozex has been my lifeblood. If youíve received a game from me, I hope you enjoyed it. If I got one from you, thanks a lot! I have still bought games when I felt games sales matter (Persona 4, Retro Game Challenge, SMT: DS2 for example) but Iíve mainly used Goozex as my own personal as needed Gamefly. I donít feel bad wasting a trade credit on a subpar game when I could just put it right back up for trade (pumps fist in the direction of Wild Arms XF). Itís a fantastic service and if you havenít setup an account, I hear thereís a pretty good reason to do so.
100 cocktails to the old school Ah, the good old days. No dodging lightning 100 straight times, no in depth convoluted card based minigames, just find secret dungeon and beat boss to get ultimate item. The old school no nonsense gameplay makes things a lot easier for me and my new gaming habits. During the Genesis/SNES wars of the early 90s, I sat firmly on the Genesis side. As a result of this stance, I missed out on [u]a lot[/u] of good games. Luckily, recent remakes have given me the opportunity to catch up.
100 cocktails to remakes Portable remakes have been a blessing. Games that used to sit on my shelf due to lack of playing time can now be enjoyed on the go. Should I feel bad buying/trading for the same game? Does this mean Iíll buy Persona 3 again for the 3rd time so I can play it on the go? Might be the only way I get to it anytime soon.
100 cocktails to all things Muppets Last weekend I watched Muppets Treasure Island about 7 times (seriously). Whenever my daughter is inconsolable, weíve always got the Muppets to cheer her up. Iím not sure if itís all the colors or she enjoys the sounds they make, thereís just something about them that immediately calms her down. Granted my wife and I may be at Kermit overload, itís better than the alternative.
Iím sure things will continue to change for me as my daughter grows up and perhaps some time down the line weíll be able to share some gaming experiences, but for now itís wonderful to watch her explore the world around her.
So I finished chapter 1 of the Tales of Monkey Island and it made me rethink episodic gaming and how it should be implemented. Did I have fun with Tales? Sure, it was an enjoyable couple hours, but I canít help but feel a little apprehensive about the way the game is being handled. Telltaleís previous forays into episodic gaming are like sitcoms Ė stand alone situations tangentially related to a grand story. For example, you could download and play any Sam & Max or Strongbad episode and could (for the most part) get though it with little knowledge of the previous chapters. To make the TV comparison, if a non-fan watched an episode from the most recent season of The Office or 30 Rock, they may be oblivious to the high level stories that the series has built, but could understand the comedy in that particular episode. Tales of Monkey Island on the other hand feels like a drama Ė an in-depth character/story arc building chapter to chapter. Again with a TV comparison, try watching an recent episode of Lost without any previous knowledge of past seasons and you would have no clue what is going on (well, I suppose Lost is a bad example, since Iíve watched it from the start and still have no clue what is going on).
So a couple months down the road, could someone new download episode 3 of Tales and really grasp all thatís going on? Granted this is a lot of extrapolation on my part but I look at Kingís Quest 7 as a benchmark for ďdrama-typeĒ episodic gaming. In KQ7, you could start the game at any of the gameís 6 chapters. While this was great to skip past sections you might have been having trouble with, many important things could be lost by doing so. How did I get this item? What does it do again? Whoís this guy and why do I need to blast him with the scepter? Part of the enjoyment in an adventure game like Monkey Island is the journey, finally using that seemingly useless item you got at the beginning of the game, seeing the jokes build and build to their ultimate conclusion. Being able to skip large chunks of the game would take away from what the game wants to be.
So what do yaíll think? Would games like Tales be better suited as a full release so you could get the whole story or are you OK with the episodic nature?