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3:28 PM on 07.31.2015

Wii REVIEWS: Fragile Dream: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

39- Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon:
Year: 2010.
Genre: Action RPG, Survival.
Publisher: Xseed.
Developer: Namco Bandai, Tri-Crescendo. 

 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

When it comes to videogame narrative, I am usually skeptic. Usually, games that try to mimic other forms of media in their storytelling end up delivering an experience that would have been better as a film. Which is why I always approach games renowned for their emotional power like Fragile Memories with a degree of caution.

Turns out, Fragile Dreams manages to tell a gripping story while trying to involve gameplay into the narrative. Unfortunately, while the game succeeds in establishing a wonderful story, its gameplay leaves much to be desired.

"I just want someone to be with"

Company is a powerful thing, we take it so much for granted that once we miss it, and we feel sad, we sometimes do not recognize where our sadness comes from. In a post-apocalyptic world, where more than 99% of population disappeared, the rest of humanity survived in very small groups, and sometimes only as individual loners. Seto is such a survivor, left in the world by himself after his "grandfather" dies.

While there is an overarching story in Fragile Dreams, it only shows itself at the end. Most of the tale is of Seto's attempt to find anyone to be with. In the beggening of the game he sees Ren, a mysterious (since she is only the second human he saw) silver-haired girl. This acts as proof that he is not alone, and therefore Seto tries to find her again.

Through Seto's journey to find Ren, he learns more about himself and his own need for company. This is not a protagonist who is on top of things, but a vulnerable 15 year old boy. From the onset of the tale, we learn the meaning of living in a dying world, and Seto's emotions are mostly subtly conveyed.

Strong Story: +5
Strong Characterization: +4

Beauty in top of ruin

"At that moment, I was truly alone in the world"

Central to the emotional impact of the story is all the background information, the memories of the departed, which Fragile Dreams attempts to emphasize. Much of the game's gameplay consists of walking from place to place, occasionally picking up objects on the ground. These objects contain the memories of people that already left the earth.

Such memories vary from those of parents mourning their sons, to messages of regret, proclamations of hope, and even the sad pathetic thoughts of pet. When collecting these objects, Seto "reads" the memories included whenever he rests at a checkpoint bonfire.

Regularly, these memories painted a powerful image of the world as it approached its doom. In many cases, the consistent theme of companionship and loneliness is touched upon, and we feel as Seto probably feels, alternately hopeful and depressed.

The best of these tales are ones that are divided into several parts that tell a "complete" stories" Usually, I would be frustrated if I was asked to find several objects to get one full story. However, here the memories are not numbered and each doesn't betray the existence of another part. As such, when a story grabs my attention, I find myself wishing for a better conclusion that I got.

For instance, in one particularly great story, it is divided among scraps of a torn picture. Every time, I wish there is another scrap for me to find. Even by an end which I am still unsure is the end, I am hoping there is another scrap that I didn't find; a scrap that had a happier end.

Great Micro-Stories: +5

The most surprising of things can keep you copmany...WILSOOON

"Whatever happens in the future, I will always have this moment"

So far, I have only covered the narrative elements of the game, which is normal for a videogame that doesn;t inspire much through its actual gameplay. In a few words, Fragile Dreams gameplay is simply busy work. As proof by its own amorphous genre definition, this is not game that is easily classified. However, that is not because it does so much from very different genres, but because it does so little.

In order to reach his objective, Seto must walk, walk, and walk some more. Generally, most of the game involves a lot of walking, which is occasionally interrupted by bland combat. Seto might be lonely, but he has a lot of ghost company to deal with. Adding to the busy work is weapons that break and inventory management.

None of this is particularly offensive, but the fact that all of it is basically designed to keep you busy as you progress the story feels like a placeholder for something that should have been better. True, the long walks establish a sense of scale and loneliness that truly works for the story, but then why the pitiful combat.

Combat is basically an excuse to "level up" which gives you more HP and ATK, and an excuse to break your weapons and the manage your inventory. Its a dull, brain-dead system that is neither annoying nor rewarding. While some found that weapon breakage to be annoying, I thought it as a non-issue, especially since you can simply run away from all conflicts. In fact, you shouldn't feel compelled to kill every ghost you see, simply move along.

While there are boss battles that must be fought, stacking up on healing items and stronger weapons does the trick. Especially since weapons only break after the fight. Just a note, ranged weapons are much preferred in the final boss fights.

Busy Work Gameplay: -10

You can't say that they are not well-designed enemies though

"The world is over, but it might wake up again"

When games try ton convey the desolation of the post-apocalypse, they usually go with cold color palettes and images of ruin. In that regard, Fragile Dreams is not different, but it is different by its own character art style, and that imposing beautiful moon.

Despite being an anime fan, I didn't care much about the specific style used in the game. Seto and friends are all uniquely designed, but I found that they were distracting more so than compelling. For instance, nothing would compelling any sane character to dress as Ren does, it is simply a poor excuse for a dress.

Outside of the characters, the environment doesn't break any new ground in presentation. Yet, it shows a really gorgeous skyline, especially when the moon is visible. It also showcases a variety of distraught locations, from a theme park to a hotel. Unfortunately, the latter stages of the game take place in industrial tunnels and buildings. It lacks the beauty and variety of the earlier sections.

Complementing the post-apocalyptic theme is a minimalist soundtrack that attempts at invoking loneliness and desperation. While Riei Saito's work is, as the graphics are, not groundbreaking, it manages to be a little more memorable. Especially the battle music which makes combat a little more bearable than it is.

Of special not regarding minimalistic soundtracks is the excellent use of natural sounds. Usually, games that intentionally limit their musical input in a minimalistic effort tend to rely on unrealistic silence. In the contrary, Fragile Dreams use nature's sounds as a better substitute of silence.

Good Graphics: +3
Good Sound Design: +3

At its best, the graphics can be truely stunning

In Conclusion:

Fragile Dreams is a game that you simply cannot play again. Its a one-time experience. While this experience might be hampered by some sub-par gameplay, I don't think its annoying enough to subtract from an otherwise great story.

This is exactly the sort of title which I feel greater care in its gameplay elements could have elevated into another level. As it stand, Fragile Dreams is still worth experiencing, even if it involves a lot of busy work.

Oh, and there is a merchant wearing a chicken head who you will end up sympathizing with. Not many games can say that.

Final: 35/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

Here we have a review by Jim Sterling, who revied the game back in 03.21.2010 and gave it a 6. This would suggest that Jim didn't like it much, however his review was very conflicting as summed up by him: "How do you review a game that has simultaneously brought you endless frustration and endless wonder? A game that has made you want to throw the controller and keep your eyes glued to the screen with a dropped jaw all at once? Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a conundrum. A deep, dark, desolate and thoroughly beautiful experience married to an aggravating, repetitive and lacking game."

Generally, I found the comment's section to be more optimistic about the prospects of enjoying the game.

A 6 is not so bad in Dtoid, says GoldenGamerXero:

"If the terrible parts come up that often and yet the game is still above average I'm willing to give this a try.

This is why I love Destructoid. A 6 or Above Average rating genuinely means something."

Current Dtoid employer Kyle MacGregor hoped the gameplay wasn't so crap:

"I've been looking forward to this title for ages. The art direction made me fall in love at first sight. It makes me so sad that the game aspect of it is so crap."

What's funny is a consistent theme laughing at FFXIII for getting a lower score than Fragile Dreams, as aptly said by janoDX:

"Agreed, but a 7 is more a fair score... Well, this is better than Final Fantasy XIII"

Which actually makes sense, becase FD is the better game.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

I don't think anyone would think this game would do well. Its an emotional game about a 15 year old effiminate boy with very limited gameplay. Its also a game asociated with the "weebo" culture, and the sort of game Japanes companies like Sega are afraid of localizing.

Turns out that's mostly right. FD only managed to sell about 360K units, which is actually not good for a project with such production values. However, it sold 280K units in the use compared to 60K in Japan, which suggests that the common idea of the overly Japanese games not selling well in the west to be ludicrous. In fact, the Japanese market is sometimes more cutthroat on those titles than the west.

"Tips"

1- Have an additional weapon in case yours break.
2- Use bonfires frequently to save and read memories, as well as store stuff.
3- In the final bosses, a ranged weapon is a much better choice.
4- You can always ignore enemies to speed things up.

"Next Game"

Few game narratives worked on me, but the story of Fragile Dreams, as well as all the micro-stories were presented very well and in more ways the regular cut-scenes. It was a worth-it narrative experience.

The next series of games are also narrative focused. Atlus's Trauma Center series focuses on the lives of doctors, and the player is put in the role of surgeons. Only the third game in the series, Trauma Team is on the list at #37. However, for better context, I will play the other two first. So my next game will be Trauma Center: Second Opinion.

Stay Tuned

For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

No screenshots at mobygames

  read


10:07 AM on 07.27.2015

Better with Age: Actually Finishing Mega Man

Actually Finishing the Damn Game:

I have been a fan of Mega Man games for a long time. Yet, I never actually managed to finish any one of them before I played them in the Mega Man anniversary editions that included all the original 8. Before that, the farthest I would usually go to was reaching the final stages. In most games, the Yellow Devil or some similar monster would be my end.

For the regular 8 Robot Masters, one of them at least would be a pushover that I can defeat after some difficulty. Afterwards, it is just a matter of using that Master’s weapon against another until all 8 are defeated. However, the bosses in the final stages usually do not have the same weakness, and my younger self couldn’t deal with them.

The Derpiest Picture I could find

After playing Mega Man anniversary and reaching the final stages for the first time, I thought I will have the same problems again. However, I found that I had more developed more skills as I grew up, and that my attention wasn’t grabbed by other games. Donkey Kong Country 2 wasn’t around anymore to entice me away from the tenth defeat against that one eye bastard.

As I grew up and accumulated more gaming experience, the quality of Mega Man did not suffer at all. Its simplistic 8-bit graphics (or amazing 16-bit graphics for the X games) looked as bright and colorful as ever, and the tunes were super memorable as well. Additionally, you cannot fault the game’s mechanics which evolved well from game to game while maintain the core precision Mega Man demands.

With time, not only did I grow but also my appreciation for the simple yet sublime gameplay of Mega Man. By actually managing to finish the game, I discovered more ways to play it. More ways to enjoy it, some really due to the modern tools incorporated into the game.

The Ability to bend the laws of time and physics, AKA as Loading a Save State

Namely,

Save States:

Let me start by saying that I agree with the common argument that finishing an old game using save states doesn’t really count. For example, a speed run of a game should use the same rules that have been used to play the game in the past.

However, save states have had a number of positive impacts on my Mega Man experience. First, I could use them right behind memorable boss battlers that I want to more easily relive. Second, I can use them to make my run easier if I wanted a relaxing time. Third, I can simply use them instead of the redundant password system as a saving option.

Yet, the best use of it by far is to train myself to get better.

It's not like Mega Man uses anything other than his Buster Cannon (or a gun) in all of that Terrible Art Work

One of the most coveted ways to finish a Mega Man games is by a Buster gun only run. Which would usually require a lot of practice to master, especially in the boss fights. In the past, such practice would usually entail going through the whole stage to fight the boss, and repeat the process after each game over. With save states, you can simply accelerate the whole process by saving before the boss, and fighting them over and over again with the neutral weapon.

I wouldn’t say a game run that uses that technique before every boss is that impressive, but it gives you the training that you need to actually make a valid run through.

Using save states in such a way, I was able to finish most of the original Mega Man games with only my neutral weapon. It was hard, at times painfully so, but by the end, it was very much worth it.

Nostalgia:

The power of memories is astonishing. Simple pockets of information stored in your mind that influences not only what you think, but how. Often, I see people complaining about the effects of “Nostalgia Goggles” on people’s perception, as if that is a necessarily bad thing.

Listening to the distinctive sounds of Mega Man can trigger a wide variety of emotions, emotions that wouldn’t be triggered in a carbon copy game of Mega Man. Seeing all those now iconic sprite movment. Removing these emotions from enjoying these classics is an impossibility.

Especially that epic jump

When I go back and play these Mega Man games, I remember all the past times I played it. I remember the time I stumbled upon a password in Mega Man X that transferred me to the final stages. I remember the distinctive Proto Man whistle. I remember thinking Zero was just a Proto Man redesign, a memory that continuous to resurface despite knowing its wrong.

These feelings are one reason I frequently revisit older games I fell in love with. They remind me of myself at the time I did. Today, I frequently play older games that I missed before. Other than the graphical and musical style, those games do not contain the memories stored in my brain like Mega Man.

In the future, when I remember for the umpteenth time that Cut Man’s weapon beats Electric Man easily, and when I go through each level. Mega Man will not be alone traversing the level; he will be accompanied by innumerable phantom sprites trudging through with him. Some will play like him, others would beat the boss with only the buster cannon, and many others would simply die in the way.

Games do not change with age, only our perception of them change. For those classics that resist all negative perception and only hold on to the best of both memory and actual gameplay; they stay on our minds. As we play them, we play as adults, as children, as parents, and as we are now.

All of us, together, enjoying that jump through the boss’s door.

Would Mega Man be such an iconic character in Smash if they didn't use so much from his heritage?

  read


8:55 AM on 07.24.2015

Wii REVIEWS: MadWorld

For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

45- MadWorld:
Year: 2009.
Genre: Action, Beat-em-up.
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: Platinum. 

 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

MadWorld is a game that strongly wants to stand out among its peers. With a bold black and white graphical style, accompanied by bright red splashes of color made frequent by its bloody premise. This is a game that stands out as not only one of the few rated-M titles on the Wii, but also as a unique Action game.

"Like Polo, with chainsaws"

Before talking about anything, the readers should be aware of how different this game is from the usual Action games designed by Platinum and others. MadWorld's action is not as much in combat as it is in the simple actions of murdering your enemies. Your main character, Jack, is not usually bothered by the pawns he has to kill. In fact, they offer very little resistance, and Jack himself has a limited repertoire of moves in which to deal with them.

These pawns exist for Jack to kill and rake in points depending on how he killed them. Simply using your chainsaw to slice and dice around will do the job, but it only counts for little points. Better still, you can beat the fodder up before executing them with some pretty graphic attacks for more points.

However, for the high scores, you will need to be more creative and use both your skills and the environment. For example, you can slam a barrel on top of someone's head, stick in 2 signs and a candle, and then throw them into a grinder. Or, you can stick some pumpkin heads into a few idiots, line them up, and then launch them into a spike wall with a baseball bat.

As Jack, you are asked to be creative with your kills, and you are scored accordingly. Which is why the action is not in subjecting the pawns as much as in killing them. In fact, the combat is very basic and is only used to push enemies around and stun them. Which is okay because combat is not the goal of the game, execution is.

Unfortunately, the game does not prove to be as varied as it should be. While both execution animations and environmental hazards are varied, the actual mechanics are not. Sure, signs, candles, poles, and fans are different, but all of them are stuck into pawns heads in the same way. Similarly, most of the environmental hazards are either activated by the same push of a button or by throwing some pug into them. Its like if Mortal Kombat's entire gameplay is the fatalities. Sure, they look cool, but its becomes repetitive after a while.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Its Repetitive: -7

There Will Be Blood

"It's either kill or be killed "

I can seriously imagine the guys at Platinum first coming up with both the gameplay idea and the graphical style. At that point, they probably realized they needed a plot to go along with it. Which is why the plot in MadWorld feels both forced and it fits really well.

Take the gameplay for instance, kills are allocated points depending on how gruesome the kill is. In the game, you are a participants in the Death Watch games, which grade players based on how creatively they kill the competition.

This might seem like a violent game then, but the violence is ramped up to such an extreme it became more slapstick comedy than gritty murder. Sure, you split a guy in half with a chainsaw, but that is equal to Tom getting chopped in half by Jerry (which happened a few times).

Whoever is in charge of Death Watch has trapped an island resembling Manhattan and forced them to take part in the games. As Jack, you are a participant in these games, but there is more to you than meets the eye. The Death Watch games serve as both the creative thrust for both the gameplay and the plot, which manages to be cool in its cliche.

Like with many Platinum games, the overall plot is ridiculous and over-the-top. Yet, it is carried out in such a way as to make it exciting. Not only are the characters interesting and fun, but the entire presentation as well. Take the two game announcers for example, they hammer in the idea that this is some sort of game for the masses to watch.

Cool Story: +3
Excellent Presentation: +4

I have a chainsaw for a right arm, no need to worry about me

"Just throw a Motherfucker into this jet engine and watch his ass accelerate to hell"

Each level in MadWorld is structured around gaining enough points to meet the boss of that level. You usually get points by murdering pawns, but each level has a mini-game of sort that helps you get to the end total faster. Those mini-games, dubbed Bloodbath Challenges, usually require you to murder cannon fodder in specifically hilarious ways.

For instance, one of these challenges require you to launch some worthless hooligans into a large dartboard, and it scores it as if in a real dartboard game. Another asks you to run over aliens with your pimped up motorcycle.

Generally, these are not deep affairs, but they add a little variety to each stage.

The boss battles however, are dull an unimaginative, as opposed to their excellent design. These battles usually devolve into Wii specific quick time events, meaning you will need to swing the Wii mote or shake it violently. Ironically, the actual swinging around with the Wii is not problematic in the actual gameplay, and is intuitively integrated.

However, in the boss battles, where sometimes you get the same QTE for 4 times in a battle, the swings get annoyingly repetitive, and the vigorous shaking downright offensive. I think each boss battle required me to shake my hands like a madman at least twice. I had to remove my watch because it started hurting my wrist.

Unfortunately, MadWorld's bosses only offer spectacle in their design and in the cut-scenes. Yet in the actual battle itself, they are simply pedestrian.

Bloodbath Challenges: +2
Boring Boss Battles: -4

Go pick on somone your own size, or I will cut you down to size

"Whatever makes the audience happy"

After finishing the game, I asked myself the question: can this game work without the visual style?

I seriously doubt it could. Everything in the game from its plot presentation, to its gameplay elements, is enhanced by the Sin City inspired graphics. I decry the gameplay for being a little repetitive, but the visual style kept it from being unbearably so. I loved the plot presentation and style, but that owes as much to the graphics as to the writing itself.

Through its use of the two contrasting colors, the game world devolves into a unique perspective not encountered much in videogames. It immediately becomes something unique and its flaws are therefore more easily forgiven.

Similarly, we see the game's soundtrack being influenced by its graphical presentation. With a number of original rap songs, the game has an energetic style to its music that helps you around while dismantling hapless foes. I do wish however, that you could switch around the songs as if in a radio, because it makes it less repetitive in the longer stages.

Of special not is the Voice Acting, which delivers a top-notch performance in all its roles, especially the two bickering announcers who manage to make Death Watch a believable dude-bro sport.

Excellent Visual Presentation: +6
Good Sound Design: +3

Would you mind getting reamed by her?

In Conclusion:

By many standards, MadWorld is among the weakest of Platinum's games. Which is not saying much knowing how well regarded Platinum is. I find myself agreeing with that sentiment, while acknowledging that even at their worst, Platinum still made a damn fun game.

Perhaps lacking the usual depth of Platinum's games, MadWorld nevertheless still retains their trademark fun and exciting style.

Final: 35/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

Destructoid's review of MadWorld was one of their two reviews experiments in 03.24.2009, featuring a review by former Editor-in-cheif Jonathan Holmes who gave it an 8.5 and a nother by former Dtoid writer Anthony Burch who gave it a 6.5; averaging a total score of 7.5.

Holmes sums it up: "It was only after playing it for about a half hour that I figured out that MadWorld isn't a beat-'em-up; it's a "kill-'em-up." Not judging it against prior beat-'em-ups really went a long way towards helping me appreciate the game. It was also at about the half-hour mark that the game went from being "sort of weird" to "totally batshit insane," which also did a lot to win me over."

While Burch offers an alternate tak: "MadWorld is an odd beast. Its violence and core controls are remarkably pleasing on a visceral level and its sense of humor is so startlingly unpretentious that it's difficult not to admire, but its over-the-top premise is rarely exploited to its fullest potential."

For some weird reason, there are no comments at all on the review, which probably means they were not ported from whatever comment system Dtoid used before.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

This one game that I am actually intrested on the history of its sales. MadWorld is infamously used as one of the Mature titles that do not sell on the Wii by Sega, who even went on record by saying it might have done better on the PS3. After the dust settled on this tale, we find that MadWorld sold 770K units world-wide, performing noticably bad in Japan. When compared to other Sega-Platinum titles, MadWorld actually sold more on one console than any other game besides Bayonetta.

In fact, MadWorld is among the best selling 100 for Sega despite being on one consol only, and in fact outselled similar games in its genre.

Frankly, given how Sega operates, their complaint against the performance of MadWorld is just them being full of shit, especially when it outsold both Aliens Colonial Marines and Aliens Isolation (in one Consol) despite having a divisive art style and no known brand to back it up.

"Tips"

1- Each stage has some unique objective that is not necessary to win, but gives a lot of points.
2- If you are surrounded by enemies, dispatching them with the chainsaw is an easy exit strategy.
3- Try and save the weapons you get for the bosses, instead of breaking them.
4- Explore around the stages to find some more killing traps.
5- Some enemies always drop some health, know which do that and look for them when low on health.
6- The game's visuals are not problematic at all, everything is clear and fine.

"Next Game"

I am still surprised by how good Platinum are at making games. Even their worst titles are enjoyable to play, and highly polished as well. The next game in the list is going to be something very different from the mindless violence of MadWorld. At #37, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon promises to be a deep and emotional story.

Usually, I found almost all videogame's "emotional and deep" stories to be largely inferior to their counterparts in all other media. However, I am hoping to be proven wrong here.

Stay Tuned

For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

Screenshots

  read


1:29 AM on 07.23.2015

As Your New Royal Reservist: Ask Me Anything

Finally, my plan to infilitrate Dtoid's community circles have worked, and now I am reshaping this crazy website into my image and......

Shit, I uncovered a lot of my plan. You can safely ingnore that.

I am honored at finally being able to repay back the community that I belonged to for some time now. Destructoid is actually only the second online community I ever belonged to, and is my only interaction with other people online along with the football forum I am part off. I never was attracted by social media, and my facebook page has long died and went the way of the dodo, and I never could see me being part of Twitter.

Generally, I am more of a face-to-face kind of guy, but Lord Spencer has long been another face of my personality that doesn't find many kinderd souls to interact with.

The little blurb I have in the side does say a lot about me, but I felt you might wanted to know more about your new Reserve Recapper. Mostly so you can send me bribes and gifts.

So, come on fellow kinderd souls, Asky Me Anything. If you dare...

  read


12:59 AM on 07.22.2015

My Blogs:

Hello all, I have been blogging here in Dtoid since the start of 2014. In the beginning, I really did not think I would continue blogging for such a long time. At first, I only started with the goal of finishing up my SNES reviews series, which is still ongoing now (that’s a long time coming). However, I managed to branch out into other Review series now, as well as other blogs and topics.

In an effort to keep all my writings organized in one place, I am going to categorize all my blogs here for now and the future.

Total Blog Count: 58

Personal:

Here is my more personal blogs. Mostly, these are simply off-topic blogs rather than actual personal writings.

Attempts at Humor:

Whether these attempts work or not is up to your judgment; some of the readers seemed to enjoy them.

Something Something Videogames:

Here is where I discuss things related to videogames, from game mechanics discussions to angry rants.

Reviews:

Since I have a lot of reviews, I am just going to put in the review list link which then links to all the other reviews.

The SNES Stuff:

The Wii Stuff:

The DS Stuff:

  read


2:48 AM on 07.16.2015

Why I Cry for Satoru Iwata

Why I Cry for Satoru Iwata:

The news of Mr. Iwata’s death hit me like a brick. I was loafing around at work, wasting time, and suddenly see Mr. Iwata’s face which always brought the widest smiles to my face under the most ominous of titles. I clicked on the article’s title hoping I read it wrong, hoping I was simply mixing two articles together. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t do anything else at work. I was struggling not to tear up, knowing I wouldn’t be able to explain it to my non-gaming peers.

Mr. Iwata passed away. That singular thought continues to ping in my mind at each unguarded moment. Realization that someone I admired so much is not here anymore. Realization that for all the sadness I and many fans feel, it must be that much worse for his friends and family.

Today I realize that Iwata, and a lot of what he stood for, are major reasons I love videogames and love Nintendo so much. Simply put, nearly every time I saw his name at the end game’s credit, it was after a much rewarding and fun experience. And this guy had so much to do with it, across the board.

I never could help smiling whenever I hear him talk. He was the embodiment of Nintendo’s purest form, that of joy, wonder, and the many smiles.

Iwata laughs

Dedication, Perseverance, and Confidence:

For anyone familiar with Japanese culture, they would realize that your day-job is a very important part of who you are. It is both a declaration of statues and input in life. After graduating from college, Mr. Iwata joined the small upcoming company HAL laboratories much to the chagrin of his father. Jokingly, Mr. Iwata used to mention how his father first tried to convince him to get a normal job, and then stopped talking to him all together in an effort to sway his mind.

Young Satoru Iwata, who was the eldest child, was not planning in displeasing his father. He knew HAL was going to be a success, and he planned to stick to it.

We are familiar with the smiling and pleasant face of the man, but he became Nintendo’s president because of the same qualities that led him to defy his father and make a success story out of the small HAL studio.

This is a man who consistently took on difficult tasks upon himself only to solve them in a short manner of time. Earthbound was a mess by all accounts; an over-budget title that had troubled development. When Iwata came into the project, the code was all over the place. The short turn around in programming is one reason the game saw the light of the day, and Iwata and Itoi continued to be friends.

As CEO, Nintendo persisted in their unique ways, only to reap dividends with the Wii and the DS. Similarly, Nintendo persisted in the handheld market in the face of the doomsayers of the smart-phone boom, and while the 3DS had a rock start it is now a success.

In Mr. Iwata’s tenure, Nintendo recorded the most profit in its history, and it propelled its previous president Hiroshi Yamauichi into becoming the richest man in Japan for a year or so.

Through the latter year’s hardships, Iwata planned to continue in Nintendo’s path, convinced that the company would reverse its fortunes (as it started doing) but will still play with its own terms.

Reggie never stood a chance

Humility:

Not many CEOs would admit to their mistakes, but Mr. Iwata was not any of your run-of-the mill corporate headshots. He worked upwards in the core business of Nintendo, and he was empathetic towards his employees. As we hear from those he worked with, Iwata pushed them as much as he pushed himself, all the while making himself as accessible as possible.

Most famously, Iwata halved his own salary when Nintendo posted their first loss in more than 20 years. He was quoted as saying he would rather not get paid than to fire his employees, as people fearing for their jobs would not be able to perform it the quality Nintendo asks for. People little know that he halved it again the next year, effectively reducing it to one quarter of what it once was.

Ironically, this actually did little to help Nintendo’s financials, because his pay was simply not that much for a CEO. In a world where Don Mattick makes millions by essentially failing at two companies, Mr. Iwata was one of the least paid CEOs in the gaming business.

Iwata was not afraid to show he is as human as the rest of us

It’s All about Fun:

Back when computers used to fill in a room or two, tech enthusiasts like Iwata used programmable calculator to play around with code. In high school, the young Iwata started programing games, and the smiles his games brought to his friends were pivotal in his decision to use his programing skills in working for Nintendo in the future.

For him, the fact that his work managed to bring some fun to another person’s life was a goal in of itself. This was the basis Iwata started his career in HAL lab, and the basis he in which he run Nintendo. The promise of making fun-filled games. While game technology have exponentially grown in the past two decades, Nintendo has always stuck to its roots as a toy company.

The pursuit for fun did not stop at the game development stage though. What Nintendo aimed for was to create an entire experience for its fans that is fun, weird, and simply Nintendo. What other CEO shows up at your video game console as a weirdly shaped avatar, asking you to enjoy e3?

Through the personality Mr. Iwata created, and all the jokes and weird humor that he showed in all the presentation, he became a larger than life figure. He wasn’t only the CEO of Nintendo, but also the guy holding the bananas, the guy surrounded by Luigis. He became another Nintendo character, one that will live on in our memory.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president and mascot

Both as a programmer and as president (of both HAL and Nintendo), Satoru Iwata has made providing fun experiences for all people his goal. He gave us many smiles, to all of us from all walks of life. Today, I am enjoying my time with the Wii U and the 3DS. Before that, I remember the first time me and my siblings ever played together with my parents on the Wii. In college, I saw the brawls that were taking place on the Gamecube. As part of some research I did, I saw old people in retiring homes reliving their sport days on the Wii. Till today, my Grandmother keeps her brain active with the Brain Age series on the DS.

Mr. Iwata, you gave me and many of us innumerable smiles. May your final smile last for eternity.

Thank You, and Good Night

  read


11:34 PM on 07.11.2015

Wii REVIEWS: Ivy the Kiwi?

For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

50- Ivy the Kiwi?:
Year: 2010.
Genre: Platformer.
Publisher: Xseed.
Developer: Prope. 

 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Ivy the Kiwi is one of those games that can easily be ignored and forgotten, and in fact, was largely ignored and forgotten sale-wise and only managed to grab any attention because it is a game designed by Yuji Naka; the man behind Sonic.

If not for that connection, I find it hard to see how gaming websites would even look at the game. Made by a nearly unknown developer, published by the little known (but very resilient) Xseed, and featuring a new platforming character in the console that is brimming with platformers.

Additionally, business decisions and pricing options also contributed to the low sales of the game. No one would buy the game at this high of a price, and the game itself could not justify it. Which is unfortunate, because Ivy is a nice enough game that could have succeeded if handled differently. Especially since it has a very solid mechanical base to build on.

"One day a polka-dot egg fell from the sky"

From the egg, hatched a red bird that couldn't fly. It looked around, and without a sound, it realized her mother could not be found. At that she began to cry, and as she looked around, to find her mother she must try. And so, the bird named Ivy (but what had named her so) began to run, beneath the snow, the rain, and the scorching sun. As Ivy ran, the player watched, her path he drew, with vines stretched. Because without the player Ivy may fall, and her mother she would not able to call.

Ivy is should be thankful none of those animals wanted to et her


Ivy the Kiwi is set up initially as a fairy tale, and from that set up comes the entire story-book design. Unfortunately, besides the beginning and end, the game does not uncover any pages throughout the chapter. Its not like I needed a narrative reason to go through with the game, but even little lines of dialogue to show you the game did not forget its roots would have been enough.

The story-book style is not unique to Ivy, and has been done before and in a bigger way in the Yoshi games. Even though, the Ivy story itself is nice enough that I can use as a bed-time story to the youngest members of my family.

Mainly, Ivy's search for her mom is just the plot reason for both her inability to fly, and for her run through the levels. Levels of which there are few off, too few for a full retail price.

Too few Levels: -4

"Ivy set off running, searching for her mother"

Since Ivy is a child, I am going to forgive her suicidal tendency to run without break like a road runner on meth. Because she cannot fly, Ivy thinks that running in a straight line would somehow compromise. She only changes direction if she hits a wall or something.

Here is where the game's unique platforming comes into play.

While Ivy is busy running without any control from the player, the player has the ability to draw vines with the Wii Pointer. These vines can act as both ramps and gap stoppers, but also should be used to cover dangerous obstacles and otherwise guide Ivy's path.

However, Drawing vines is not static, but is a dynamic activity. For instance, you can draw a vine behind Ivy, and as she runs, you can move the vine and push her with it to launch her forwards and upward. In fact, this dynamic usage of the vines is more important than the static laying of bridge vines.

Another use of the vines is as a sling of some sorts. By pulling on an already placed vine under Ivy's kegs, Ivy is then launched opposite the direction of the pull to destroy a number of obstacles and blocks.

These obstacles are periodically introduced to the game to switch things around. From rats that move right and left, to crows that move up and down. And of course, the most dangerous of all, droplets of what I can only assume is highly concentrated Hydrochloric Acid that dissolves Ivy completely on contact.

They may look like water drops, but the kill on contact



Hence, you have to worry about a number of different things, including collectibles, as you help Ivy navigate each level. Which is a both hectic and rewarding process that can be used in widely different ways.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't use the mechanics to their fullest potential, and would rather invite you to master the short campaign it has than to fully explore the possibilities within its gameplay.

Similar to Sonic, this is a game about mastering a limited number of mechanics that can make Ivy do widely different things. Using dynamic vine movements to throw Ivy from one side to another, all the while trying to keep her away from crows and rats, as well as draw shielding vines to keep the drops of Nightshade Poison from killing Ivy, is as a hectic as it sounds. But when you are able to pull it off, you feel like champ. Especially since there is probably no better way to do this than the Wii Pointer.

Great Unique Mechanics: +5
Varied Obstacle: +3

"The story of the bird who ran to the top of the sky"

Taking from its story-book inspiration, Ivy the Kiwi uses a story-book style in its graphical presentation. Its a charming style that fits the game, but there is not enough variety in locations. Hence, outside of the different backgrounds, and graphical filters, there isn't much here that suggest work from the developer.

Aside from the levels themselves, the storybook that is featured at the beginning and end of the game is very well drawn. It looks like what a real story-book would look like, and what the game aimed for in the start.

Good night blue sky


Similar to the graphical presentation, the music fits well with the game, even if it repeats itself more often than it should. With probably only 10 tracks, each track should have had a longer melody before it looped to give it more substance.

Sure, its a nice enough sound track, but the final two chapters shouldn't have had the same music.

Nice enough Presentation: +1

In Conclusion:

As a Wii-Ware game, or even an eshop-only title today, Ivy the Kiwi would be a game that is easy to recommend. However, as it was released; as a retail-game. The game, like Ivy herself, does not have the wings to carry it far.

This is why, even though it is a mechanically great game, Ivy commercially flopped. This should have been sold in the same category as Super Meat Boy, not with Super Mario Galaxy.

Final: 30/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

There was no review for the Wii version of this game in destructoid.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

As Everyone probably expected, this game flopped commercially, only managing to sell 70 thousand units on the Wii. It also managed only similiar numbers on the DS and abysmal numbers on mobile devices. Which is a bummer, because this game could have had wings with smarter pricing and marketing.

"Tips"

1- Use Dynamic Vine movement to navigate Ivy around.
2- Collect all 10 Red Feathers to get a life.
3- If you want to get red of all your vines quickly, just draw dot vines on the outside quickly.
4- Sometimes it pays to put Ivy in a vine cage as you plan your next move.
5- Sometime it pays to destroy crows and rats so that you don't have to deal with them.
6- Time can be a real pain, so watch that clock.

"Next Game"


Ivy the Kiwi should be re-released on the eShop. It would be perfect as even a 10$ game. However, I cannot imagine paying 40$+ for it at all.

Now, I am going to play a game by the wonderful Platinum games, MadWorld. Which is at number 45 in Gamesradar list. MadWorld is a hyper violent game with a unique visual flourish that turned off more people than it excited, but Platinum are not known for their sales anyway.

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

There are no screenshots for this game at mobygames.com

  read


1:20 PM on 07.07.2015

DS REVIEWS: Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume

For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great underappreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.

Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume:
Year: 2009.
Genre: SRPG.
Publisher: Square-Enix.
Developer: Tri-Ace.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Valkyrie Profile is one of those series that I have always knew existed but never tried before, which is a step-up from the majority who probably doesn't know anything about it Previously, I imagined the series had more titles to its name, but this DS iteration is the third in the series (with one "remake").

Inspired by Norse mythology, VP attempts to have a unique Western edge among its JRPG brethren, and it mostly succeeds.

I don't know how Covenant of the Plume fits in the VP canon, or whether being familiar with the series is of any consequence. However, I know that CotP is a very solid game that suggests the series should have been given more attention that it did.

"It is through sin that you will avenge your suffering"

Vengeance is a common theme in RPG games. Often, the hero character is out to get revenge against some evil that greatly affected their lives. Whether its a great ancient monster, or a militant empire. Usually, revenge then takes a back seat as more important goals are thrust upon the hero, as the world starts to expand and the main character is asked to be its savior.

Covenant of the Plume starts out as a quest for vengeance, and ends as a tale of vengeance. However, the object of Wyl's rage is not what can be considered a traditional evil, but death itself. In the world of VP, the Valkyrie is an angel of death of some sort. Simply put, she takes the souls of worthy warrior to Asgard in preparation for an end of world battle. Wyl's father was such a warrior, and the loss of the bread bringer in a medieval society meant that his family would suffer greatly. As a result, Wyl's sister died of starvation and his mother went mad with grief. Thus, begins Wyl's quest to avenge his father by killing the Valkyrie herself.

The main game studies the morality of revenge really well. In order for Wyl to be able to face the Valkyrie, he signs a covenant with Hel, the mistress of, well, hell. He agrees to accumulate sin through battle in exchange for the power to slay the Valkyrie, as well as resign his soul to the abyss. In order to accumulate enough sin though, Wyl also has to sacrifice his comrades in arms. For both the player an Wyl, this creates a dilemma, especially regarding the well-written characters you might have to sacrifice.

Few of the allies that join you are free of sin. Each might be as soaked in guilty blood as your MC is, and some are very attractive as sacrificial lambs. Morose, sacrifice serves a gameplay purpose as well. It adds a very strong skill to Wyl's arsenal, and practically wins you the battle you sacrifice some one in.

Depending on your choices regarding sacrifices, you will get one of three endings. I wish the criteria for each ending was slightly relaxed, because there is only one sacrifice between the first and second ending, and the second and third. For me, I tried getting along without sacrificing anyone from the onset, just to beaten soundly by the game. I needed to sacrifice someone for Wyl to get stronger, and that made me feel like Wyl needing Hel's help to avenge his father.

All the allies you will fight with are interesting characters in their own right, with great writing bringing them to life. Unfortunately, all ally characters are bound by their own chapters. Meaning that once their chapter ends, they shut up for the rest of the game. Even worse, there is no closure for these excellent characters at the end of the game, with the only possible closure being sacrificed by Wyl. This is an absolute disservice to a bunch of unique and well written characters that I felt needed that extra depth at the end.

Wyl's tale doesn't get such treatment, as it is properly concluded depending on your choices.

Great Story: +5
Great Characters: +5
Real Morality Choices: +3
Supporting Characters Get the Shaft after their Chapters: -3

Will Wyl accept fate's will

"Torture and slay at your black heart's content while your sacrilege rips the gods from their heavens"

CofP uses a straightforward grid-based SRPG battle system with a twist. You control 4 units, each with an attack range. If you attack an enemy unit within the range of another ally; said ally would support your attack.

Attacking any unit transfers you to the battle screen, where you can inflict combos on the enemy with up to the maximum 4 characters. With long combos, you fill up the special gauge which can be used to unleash some super attacks. Of course, the enemy can do the same to you, which is why rushing ahead will get you killed.

Additionally, positioning the enemy between your units in certain way will initiate a "siege" attack which carries additional benefits with it.

Other than attacking, you can use techniques to aid you in your fight, or spell to heal and hurt. By far, the most useful techniques are those that Wyl learn by sacrificing his allies; some are downright broken which I will talk about below.

More than half the battle is won through preparation. Both proper equipment and level of experience in the difference between an impossible battle and a breeze. Ironically, the best equipment can only be gotten if you manage to breeze through.

In most battles, you are asked to accumulate some sin count, which happens by overkilling the poor sods you are facing. You overkill mostly by unleashing a guys beat-down on most enemies, which lead battles to drag-on more than they should.

Fast SRPG Battles: +4
Nice Combo System: +2
Can get Repetitive: -3

This guy is going to get seriously beaten up


"One may despair and heap wrong upon wrong"

In my first few hours, I thought that this game was one of the hardest SRPGs I ever played. I barely managed to get the minimum sin count; so the double sin count reward was a distant dream. Escort missions were hell, and my revive items were being used at every turn. In those battles, I felt like I needed to Sacrifice someone, and that I thought was awesome game design.

As is usual with many SRPGs, you cannot grind between battles, which means that your stuck with your level at any given match. So sacrifice was the only way to beat that insurmountable boss character who can easily kill all of my characters and not get a dent. Because the sacrafised character immediately becomes superhuman, and can easily wipe the floor with everyone else in the battlefield. As a bonus, Wyl himself gets a powerful technique.

Up to the first sacrifice, this is a hard game. However, the moment you sacrifice Cheripha, the game nearly breaks. Because Cheripha's technique allows Wyl tpo paralyze nearly all enemy characters, it means you can gang up by 4 on each enemy character with little punishment, and nearly destroy all enemies by the time they are cured.

Additionally, playing with anything other than the same 4 guys is stupid, because level jumps are huge in effect. Hence, an under-leveled character is useless unless you are about to sacrifice them.

When playing the game again, you keep both skills and weapons from previous playthroughs. To enjoy the game more, I make a conscious decision to limit the weapons and techniques I use, which feels like me balancing the game for the developers. It ruins the tension that at first made the sacrifice mechanics so great.

Poor Balancing: -5

Wyl is not the only one to lose kin to the Valkyrie


"The fires of passion burns brightest before the black of death"

After seeing the opening cinematic, you might think that VP follows the same style as other Square Enix JRPG characters. With a white haired hero who wears not one, but two pony tails. Seriously, two freaking pony tails. However, Wyl's design is actually in sharp contrast to the rest of the characters who are more realistically designed.

Both character portraits and sprites are well made, with a variety of facial expressions and characteristic models. The actual animation of attacks is actually a little complex, with special attention needed to get the best out of each character's attack animation and incorporate them into a good combo. A combo that should include a number of the over-the-top super moves that are thankfully skippable to increase the pace of combat.

Of special note is the in-battle voice acting, which packs incredible weight to the cool quotes expressed by each character when attacking. I wonder how those VA would have done with the dialogue of the game. Then again, its better to not have voice acting imo, than to have terrible performance.

Moving into the musical score, I am not sure what to say. Despite playing many battles, I don't remember any of the battle themes; only that they are different in enemy and ally phases. As for the regular game, only one theme stood up to me, and even that was by virtue of repetition rather than anything else.

Overall, this was one of the least memorable scores in an RPG, and I was not inspired to listen to any of it ever again.

Very Good Character Design: +5
Forgettable Soundtrack: -3

Wyl is also not the only one to seek vengeance


In Conclusion:

Despite its balancing problems and forgettable music soundtrack, I think CofP manages to be a unique SRPG that deserves more attention than it got. Ironically, a lot of the complaints it had are ones I find ridiculous. This is not a difficult game. On the contrary, once you get any one of the truly broken battle techniques, you can cruise through the game.

Outside of its gameplay though, this game tells a unique story that is worth playing through more than once. Especially since each play-through gives you a different perspective than the last.

Final: 35/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

I couldn't see any review of this game from Destructoid's staff, which tells you about how little anttention it got. However, community blogger Terry 309 reviewed the game in his underrated games series, and he gave it an Excellent score which transelates to a 9. His biggest praise probably that he liked the game despite being an SRPG: "Do you find SRPG'S boring? Do you get tired of watching silly automatic battle sequences every time you engage an enemy? This is the game for you. Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume mixes the strategic game play of Final Fantasy Tactics with the action of Valkyrie Profile so well that it never gets boring, battles are always intense and fun and you never get tired of them. This is coming from someone who dislikes SRPG's and finds them boring due to the fact that the game play takes too long. Covenant Of The Plume speeds things up a bit with it's formations and link attacks.".

As is usual with review blogs, there wasn't a lot of comments. AboveUp really liked the sacrafise mechanic and wishes another famous SRPG series uses something like it:

"I always really loved that Sacrifice mechanic of this game. Wish something like Fire Emblem would do this one of these days, as a sort of last resort for when shit has really hit the fan and there's no way out.

Such a good game. Challenging too."

Probably did not sacrafise Cheripha early on.

Jonathan Holmes forgot that this game existed, which is probably why Destructoid did not cover the game:

"I totally forgot this existed. Thanks for the reminder!"

Another person who probably did not sacrafise Cheripha is Weisritter:

"The defend/protect this person missions killed the game for me.

They had no concept of self preservation and would never move, on top of that they would actively attack anyone near them, do like 20 damage and take 10,000 in return."

Seriously, sacrafise Cheripha, and the suicadal AI of your allies wouldn't be a problem at all.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

Despite being constantly forgotten, this game managed to sell more than 400K units, which is more than profitable and critically acclaimed Atlus games do. Surprisingly, this series sold more than three times units in North America as in Japan. In fact, this game continues a trend where northern sales increase while Japanese sale decrease. With Square-Enix's western push of late, I am surprised they did not see this as evidence the west likes JRPGs.


"Tips"

1- Stick with 4 main Characters, it doesn't pay to have underleveled scrubs.
2- You can bring a character you want to use up to level through experience items.
3- If you want the easiest time at playing the game, sacrifice two characters in chapter 2 in your first play-through.
4- Healing can help, but leveling up is a sure way to heal yourself.
5- Cheripha's skill is greatly useful in Escort battles.
6- If you are having trouble accumulating sin in battles, try to set up "siege" situations.
7- To better enjoy the game in subsequent playthroughs, I suggest you purposely not use the strongest equipment until the end.

"Next Game"

Covenant of the Plume makes me more interested in going back and playing the first two Valkyrie Profile games. While I can't ignore its shortcomings, I actually enjoyed the game a lot for what it is, a stress-free romp with a nice story.

Next up in the little known DS games series is a throwback to the 16 bit era of RPGs. Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled is a game with a rather bipolar reception. A number of RPG enthusiasts really like the game, while more casual RPG player actively despise it (see Jim Sterling).

Stay Tuned


For Previous DS game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

There is no screenshots in mobygames for this game.

  read


12:08 PM on 07.05.2015

Wii Reviews: Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love

For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

46- Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love:
Year: 2010.
Genre: SRPG/ Dating Sim.
Publisher: NIS America.
Developer: Sega, Idea Factory. 

 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

For those unfamiliar with this game's path to localization, it isn't much different than the multitude of games developed by Sega that never sees a western release. Originally developed in 2005 for the PS2, Sakura Wars only managed to release over the sea in 2010 on the Wii.

To be fair, this is one game that Sega might have been justified in their reluctance to localize. Most obviously, there are hundreds of lines to translate and voice act. In addition, this is one game style that Sega were not sure would find its audience in the West, especially since its part of an established series in Japan.

While this game can be considered a solid SRPG, it is defined by its Dating Sim gameplay and anime tropes. This already puts it in a niche within an niche in the west, and this is a game that doesn't try to go beyond its audience, for good and bad.

"The peace of New York rests in your shoulders"

The setup to the story should be familiar to anyone who ever watched Saturday night cartoons or shows like the Power Rangers. Shinjiro Taiga, your semi-avatar, is a young Japanese military graduate who is transferred to the New York department of a force that battles demon deities. Of course, it makes sense in the game's world that you almost immediately become the captain of squad and find yourself in the middle of great demon's resurrection.

Did I mention that you pilot mechs to defeat those demons and their demon robots.

As the captain of Star Division, you are expected to defend New York from all evil. But first, you must prove to be a worthy captain for your team. Which, because this is a dating sim, is composed of a varied cast of females.

In fact, the aforementioned resurrection of the big bad thankfully takes a backseat to the individual stories of the characters and only act as a catalyst for the plot. It is these stories and the resulting relationships between the characters that aim to differentiate Sakura Wars from the Power Rangers crowd.

Unfortunately, I simply did not find the characters any more interesting than the plot. Depending on your Anime mileage and your resistance to tropes and cliches, you might find something different in the characters. Of course, there is the annoying child character, but there is also the aloof smart girl, the sickly super nice girl, and other archetypes. Rarely did a story development ever grab my attention. Sometimes, plot development is just insulting; there is this storyline where a crippled girl manages to walk again because of the power of positivity.

Mostly, I think this is due to our own boring Avatar. True, we actually control the choices in a conversation, but they are all choices coming from a dull person.

Positively, Sakura Wars tries to use the New York setting well. Star Division are a Broadway-show as a side-gig, and New York despite being squeaky clean still manages to rub some soul into the game. Even if the game does try to beat the "soul of Harlem" into our head.

Cliched Story: -4
Uninteresting Characters: -4

One of the few moments where Rosalita is not super annoying


"Find a way to make your mark"

As a game with Dating Sim elements, interaction with other characters is all part of the gameplay, and governing that gameplay is the LIPS system. I already forgot the full name which was forced into that acronym.

Doing well in the Dating Sim aspect of the game is important for two main reasons. First, you want to end the game with your girl of choice. Second, building up relationships is the only way to level up everyone's mechs (which is a really cool twist).

The LIPS system is brilliant at what it does; creating tension and investment to the game's conversations. The most basic LIPS give you a limited time to make a choice, with silence being a valid option.

Other types of LIPS ask you to make a sequence of choices instead of one, which are rare. The second most common type ask you to input a series of commands to simulate an action your character should be doing in the story.

Unfortunately, in these command LIPS, the game's origin in the PS2 is clear. While you should be asked to manipulate two Analog sticks; in the Wii you are asked to use the D-Pad in the Wiimote instead of the second analog. This makes some sequences more difficult than they should be, which is why I recommend using a Wii Controller Pro or something like it.

Generally, the LIPS system is a great way of adding investment into the story sections of the game (which is about 70%). However, a great interaction tool can do very little when the interactions themselves are not all that great.

LIPS System: +4
Needs Pro-Controller Support: -2

This guys has as many migrains as you think he would


"Fly for me, whose time is nearing its end"

The battles in Sakura Wars might be the less heralded aspect of the game, but they are actually quite good.

Think of these battles in the same way as grid-based SRPGs without the grid. Movement is in a 3D environment, but otherwise its similar in many ways. Each character get a turn based on their speed stat, which means ally turns will be separated by faster enemy turns and so on. In their turn, each character has a number of movement points, which they can use to move and attack as they see fit.

Surprisingly, there is a multitude of actions available for use. Other than movement or attack, the mechs can use points to pull-out a defensive barrier or charge up their special gauge. This gauge allows each unit to heal itself, joint attack with other units, or use its super move. Hence, managing your points is essential to maximize your effectiveness. You can unleash a 5-hit combo to try and destroy an enemy unit, but if you fail you already lost the units necessary to shield yourself. Each unit has a unique attack range, with some being able to hit foes from far away, and others managing to sweep multiple enemies in one hit.

Additionally, there are flight mod battles which shake things up fairly well. Its not a dramatic change other than in scenery; as the game still uses the same movement points system. However, it does change the way you think about spacing and distance.

With a solid gameplay system in place, Sakura Wars does well in greatly varying the battles themselves. From a battle that require both ground and air troops to defend your airship engines, to another that take place in top of a runaway subway train. This is a game that shakes things up regularly, and stays fresh as a result.

Great Battle System: +4
Variety in Battles: +4

Flying gives battles a larger scale


"The World Needs More Smiles"

The moment you boot the game-up in an HD television, you will notice that the game is locked in a square TV aspect-Ratio. Obviously, this would be jarring for many, but it is done to keep the anime-style drawings from stretching out into ugly messes.

All characters and backgrounds depicted in the LIPS segments are drawn in a clear cut clean style of animation that is neither unique or too redundant. With each character having a variety of different poses and facial expressions. Special props to the evil characters who are mostly well-designed, with one bad guy standing out because of the sword impaling his head. There is little animation outside of the cut-scenes which are generally short but are spread out.

In the battlefield, the mechs are designed in an oddly clunky way that is more unique and endearing than the regular Gundam rip-offs. Graphically, this is not the Wii at its best, but its passable especially regarding the boss robots who are well designed.

As for the music, it tries to convey Jazz and soul music influence, which is mostly manages to do even if the music is a little repetitive. For some reason, the music is louder than the voice acting and the settings cannot be changed to adjust that. The voice acting itself is not worth listening to though, as its rarely good, and mostly mediocre and sometimes seriously annoying. Rosalita, the child character, is the worst offender with what is possibly the most terrible Mexican rendition of a child's accent ever.

Generally, you can say that Sakura Wars does well in its presentation. However, given that Star Division are supposed to be a Broadway group, the game seriously loses and opportunity by not leveraging that. In some scenes, there should be singing and music worthy of Broadway (or worthy of pretending to be Broadway) but there is only silence. I don't know if that is the case of not translating the original Japanese or it simply wasn't there to begin with. Maybe its actually a blessing in disguise, as I would hate to see the VAs over-dramatize their lines or fall flat as they usually do.

One tune that always perked me up is the main theme, which I grew to really like as the game went on. It did the job of providing a memorable tune to this team of Power Rangers, as well as underscore any rallying moment in a battle. Whenever the song started, I felt extra compelled to kick the big bad in the rear.

Ok Graphics: +3
Aspect Ratio Locked: -3
Good Music: +3
Bad VA: -2
Awesome Main Theme: +2

With sword skills like that, why would she need a mech?


In Conclusion:

Sakura Wars is made for a specific crowd, and it doesn't aim further than that crowd. For those who are resistant to anime tropes or simply did not encounter them enough, they will find that there is a very solid SRPG within this Dating Sim game. Unfortunately, for those who might not be part of Sakura Wars niche, the great battle system cannot justify the 70% of mundane Dating Sim aspects.

That being said, I don't regret playing this game. It had really good battles. As for the story, in the end, despite not caring for the majority of the characters and story. I cared enough about one character to ensure she doesn't end up with my unfathomably boring Avatar.

Final: 30/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

This game was reviewed by Josh Tolentino, who was also an editor for Dtoid's sister site, back in 06.09.2010, and he gave it an 8. As someone experienced in anime, him liking it might suggest that anime veterans can find the story enjoyable. He sums it up in a positive note: "Sakura Wars is a game apart. It is a niche game within a niche genre, and is quite proud of it. The open-minded and unafraid will find a cheerful experience that is happily free of more contemporary obsessions with maturity and grit, content to be silly, fluffy, quirky and madly "anime".

In the comment section, nearly half of the comments were spammers, but there people happy at getting the game. TheCleaningGuy cleaned up in the game quite early but didn't finish the job, yet:

"'m loving this game. I picked it up day one (due to your earlier articles), but I put it down a while back and haven't gotten back to it lately. I'll have to do that. Great review!"

In the other hand, The Silent Protagonist absolutely hated the game, as in seriously hated it:

"This is one of the most horrible games I have ever experienced. The only way I could even endure the six hours I played of it was the English dub, which took the horrible fanfic of a story and made it mildly amusing.Its one of those everything-comes-easy-to-the-hero kinds of anime tales. He saves Harlem from a rezoning project the second day off the boat, and he goes from ticket-ripper to captain of the STARs team on his first day.

And for the six hours of that rubbish I had to endure, I only got two battles from the game. Sorry, but when you market something as SRPG, there needs to be more combat than cutscenes.

Hell, this game couldn't even do the steampunk setting right. Yeah, technology advances astoundingly, but its the 1920s - where's the fashion and the big band music? The street thugs are practically ripped out of the 1980s. The broadway stuff didn't even have actual singing. Like I said - bad fan fic.

If you must buy this reeking shitpile of a game, have the dignity to buy it used. No one developer deserves to be rewarded financially for this sort of thing."

Spelunking into the comment section, we also see Jonathan Holmes, who actually liked the game and is surprised at The Silent Protagoist's reaction:

"I really like this game, which is weird, because me and The Silent Protagonist are normally perfect clones.

Maybe my DNA is fucked up or something."

Maybe that's sarcasem. Yeah, I am sure it is.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

In Japan, the game managed to sell about 70K units. After localization, the game manged to sell 100K units on the Wii, and another 100K+ on the PS2.

I am not sure about you, but I think that thos extra 200K games sold are more than worth the price of localization, and Sega should see that as proof that there is a market for their game in the west. Even those that are not as well-made as Yakuza 5 (I REALLY WANT UAKUZA 5).


"Tips"

1- Use a Wii Pro Controller if you want an easier time in Command LIPS.
2- The face in the save file is that of the girl with the highest trust level.
3- Joint attacks might appear useless early on, but they are a great way of hitting multiple enemies.
4- Don't get an unit destroyed, it will affect your relationship negatively.
5- If you want to get multiple different endings on the same save-file, keep a save at Chapter 7.

"Next Game"

While I didn't necessarily like Sakura Wars that much, I am still thankful that NIS localized and released it state-wise. It was a different and unique experience that I believe could have made a much better game with better writing and story.

For the next game in the list, I am actually going back to #50 to play Ivy and the Kiwi since my sister just bought it and other games in the list from the US.

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

There are no screenshots for this game at mobygames.com

  read


1:30 PM on 06.24.2015

DS REVIEWS: Radiant Historia

For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great underappreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.

Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

1- Radiant Historia:
Year: 2011.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Atlus.
Developer: Atlus. 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

I am just going to come out and say it: Radiant Historia is one of the best RPGs in the DS library and is a serious contender in any top RPGs list. As is usual with Atlus games, I neither knew about this game or managed to see it in stores. Not being one of Atlus's main brands, this game was even more difficult to find and managed little exposure.

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet age, we can now easily find used and new copies of the game, which I recommend to any RPG fan to do immediately.

"The Way History should be"

Radiant Historia doesn't begin different enough from other JRPGs. You begin by controlling Stocke, a special intelligence agent for the nation of Allistel who have been in a long war with the kingdom of Granorg. In the background to this conflict, and indeed the root cause of it, is the increasing desertification of the world which increases the need for land.

Almost immediately, things begin to change as your first mission (not Stocke's first) goes terribly wrong. With a terrible injury and the death of his two subordinates, Stocke realizes that a previously acquired tome can manipulate time. This tome, the White Chronicle, gives Stocke the ability to jump through time to correct the course of history.

With possession of the White Chronicle and the ability to manipulate time, you are expected to find a solution for the desertification problem. However, this will require careful manipulation of the political situation and several failed attempts. Over the course of the game, Stocke must make crucial decisions that could lead to a game-over scree. However, these endings only serve to give you more context for the world at large while you go back and choose differently.

Ideally, there would be branching paths for each major decision in the game, but such a game would have been ludicrously huge. Here, we have two main paths that are widely different, with all other paths leading directly to some ending. Maneuvering through the two paths is pivotal for Stocke to be able to move forward. If stopped by an obstacle in one timeline, the solution could be in the other.

The main story of the game might not be anything special, but the amazing characterization of all the people involved gives it surprising depth. Starting from the main character himself, Stocke starts as the stoic RPG here, but grows convincingly well throughout the game. Here is a main character who takes it all in stride and rarely complains, which is a huge departure from overly emotional and enthusiastic RPG heroes.

Outside of the main character, we have a wide assortment of supporting cast with various shades to them. Do not expect the all ancient evil to show up; most evil probably started from good intentions. The world is harsh, and it is that harshness that is the root cause of conflict.

Of course, if not for the impeccable writing, neither story nor characters would be as fleshed out as they are. This writing makes us wonder as the sacrifices made during the SNES era for memory's sake. Sure, this text could be somewhat verbose, but it is well written and convincing. The game doesn't cheat in order to surprise you, and each twist have had proper foreshadowing and fits in with all the other events.

Great Story: +4
Great Characters: +5

A moment of decesion taking


"Search for possibilities in the shadows of history"

As the central thrust of the story, the time manipulation mechanic of Radiant Historia is intelligently incorporated into the gameplay. The story unfolds in a series of events; some of which are important "nodes" in history. At any save point (or the map) you can jump back and forward between these nodes for various purposes. Some times, you will need to go back to the past to learn something you can use in the future. At other times, you might want to jump to the second timeline to influence the first. By unlocking these nodes, you open up the game-world to discover new equipment (being sold at different times) and side-quests as well.

For anyone who ever played a game that dealt with time manipulation, they would immediately ask if they have to waste their time doing things they already did before. Thankfully, Radiant Historia takes the common sense approach by allowing you to skip through most dialogue and cut-scenes. However, sometimes you do wish the nodes were closer to each other, but that is mostly when you are trying to finish an unusually obtuse side-quest.

Mostly, the time jump mechanic is both intuitive and easy to use in the main story-line. Unfortunately, side-quests require more time jumping than you might care for, and doing them is needed for the good ending.

While the quests that ask you to jump back and forth are annoying, and those that require you to visit a place between two far apart nodes are a pain, the worst offender is something else. I get that something in the past is a prerequisite for an event in the future, but in no way should an event in the future be a prerequisite for an event in the past. Thankfully, only one or two side-quests are as bad as that, but I didn't care for the bulk of them all-together.

Rapid Time Jump Mechanic: +3
Story and Mechanics Align: +2
Weak Side-Quests: -3

Nodes show you the story in an organized way

"The only thing I'll sell you is a fist, want a free sample?"

To differentiate its turn-based battle system, Radiant Historia uses a puzzle-like 3x3 grid for the enemies. Each enemy can occupy from a single space to the entire grid based on its size (the latter reserved for bosses), and their damage slightly changes based on their position. Fighting these enemies revolve around managing your own turns and trying to score combo attacks.

In order to score a lengthy combo, you will need to change your turn order by advancing enemy attacks. Thus, for the reward of getting a long combo chain by having allies turn follow each other, your risking damage from the enemy.

In order to get the best of your attack, you would want to attack as many of the enemy as possible; and this where skills prove useful. A variety of skills move the enemy through their grid, and if you push one enemy into another, the next hit affects them both. Hence, an effective attack combo would push a bunch of enemies together in order to deliver one final blow to all of them. Which is why battles become a tactical affair that you cannot auto-play to win.

It is thankful then that with battles taking some time (not a lot) that you can go through a t a respectable level without having to fight that many battles. In fact, being under-level might add to the challenge. Even though, if you want to fight more battles, the MP supply you have ensures that your skill can be of use against all enemies, not only reserved for bosses.

Overall, the combat system is not revolutionary, but its a fast paced innovative design that keeps your attention. Best of all, each of your party members (if leveled properly) is useful in their own way (the party members that are typically not around to get leveled up are actually balanced to be stronger at lower levels).

Engaging Combat: +3
Useful Skills: +2

Hope you don't have archanophobia

"This world is not worth the blood needed to save it"

The world of Vainqueur is not a pretty place. Both war an desertification had taken its toll on it. Probably to show more variety in locations, the game doesn't opt to use all desert locations, but even the grassy lands feel as if they are drying up. Hence, the contrast in places that are yet to be affected is greatly highlighted. Yet, its not the backgrounds you are invited to look at but the characters themselves.

Starting from the absolutely gorgeous art-work for each character to the impeccable sprite design and animation, you know that these are the stars of the graphical department. Sprites come in different shapes and sizes, and all animate well and with expressive motion both in and out of battle. As for the art-work design; its one of the best and most detailed I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, we might ave paid too much for that detail, because they are entirely static. This creates moments of disconnect at the game's most dramatic scenes in which I wish the art works was smartly hidden. When a certain character orders the burning of a city, we see her sprite animating in excitement, and her speech bubble is suggesting she is shouting the command. Yet, the neutral expression in the art work creates and odd separation of content and design, so much I would do without the beautiful portraits all together.

Fortunately, the soundtrack never fails to underscore the magnitude of any scene. In fact, you owe it to yourself to play this game exclusively while wearing headphones because this is some great stuff. Yoko Shimomura manages to craft one hell of a soundtrack. Starting from the amazing theme of Allistel, we see a blend of styles and a seriousness to the tale that stick throughout.

True, the soundtrack as a whole may have little in number of track, but it more than makes up for it through quality and variety.

Very Good Sprites: +4
Great Soundtrack: +5
Static Art Work: -2

Its beutiful artwork but only static


In Conclusion:

Radiant Historia is a game that proves revisiting older consoles can be very rewarding. Here is a game I knew nothing about, and would have continued nothing about have I not decided to play and review little know DS games. Yet, now, I would have very much regretted not playing this game.

Simply, this looks and feels like a modern development of a a great SNES RPG. Indeed, this is what I imagine the best SNES RPGs would have been without the inherent limitations of their time. A truly historical.

Final: 50/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

This game was reviewed by the previous Editor-in-Cheif and Corgin whispere Dale North back in 02.02.2011, and he gave it an 8.5.  As an Atlus fan, Dales was bound to love this one. "It's not often that we see a DS RPG with this level of creativity and polish in the story and gameplay departments, and the fantastic music and art only accentuate that. Even if you think you've done the time-travel RPG before, you should still definitely play Radiant Historia."

The comments section was curiously lacking in activity since this is a site that truely appreciates Atlus as expressed by Xenugears:

"Atlus is the new Square."

Shinta was thinking about picking the game up, but he was surprised at the lack of comparisons to Chrono Triger (he shuld be surprised again):

"Looks awesome, and I'm definitely picking this one up.

I'm kind of surprised that you didn't compare it to Chrono Trigger at all, given the time travel element."

Of course, it wouldn't be a Destructoid comments section without anyone wanting to do something sexual with the game like MrJoe wants:

"I want this game inside of me"

I can see how he would feel that way about this game.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

As is usual with Atlus games, this is another game that managed profit with only 300K units sold. Maybe that would have been more had they printed more copies the first time around as there were serious scarcity issues. For context, 300K is good for Atlus and its the 28th best selling game for the publisher.


"Tips"

1- You must do 10 specific side-quests to get the good ending.
2- Many side-quests you get early on cannot be completed until much later.
3- You can use Mana shards to complete heal yourself at save points.
4- Use larger enemies to push into two or more smaller enemies, then you can push all of them together again.
5- Chaining a long combo increases the damage for attack.
6- Don't ignore the under-leveled characters, because you might find them very useful.

"Next Game"

As an opening to my DS reviews list, I doubt any game could have been better. Radiant Historia is a game I would recommend anyone easily, and this would a very high bench-mark for the other games I will be reviewing.

The next game is one part of a the underrated Valkyrie Profile series; Valkyrie Chronicles: Covenant of the Plume. Here is hoping for a good games streak.

Stay Tuned


For Previous DS game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

There is no screenshots in mobygames for this game.

  read


5:30 AM on 06.24.2015

DS REVIEWS: Radiant Historia

For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great underappreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.

Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

1- Radiant Historia:
Year: 2011.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Atlus.
Developer: Atlus. 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

I am just going to come out and say it: Radiant Historia is one of the best RPGs in the DS library and is a serious contender in any top RPGs list. As is usual with Atlus games, I neither knew about this game or managed to see it in stores. Not being one of Atlus's main brands, this game was even more difficult to find and managed little exposure.

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet age, we can now easily find used and new copies of the game, which I recommend to any RPG fan to do immediately.

"The Way History should be"

Radiant Historia doesn't begin different enough from other JRPGs. You begin by controlling Stocke, a special intelligence agent for the nation of Allistel who have been in a long war with the kingdom of Granorg. In the background to this conflict, and indeed the root cause of it, is the increasing desertification of the world which increases the need for land.

Almost immediately, things begin to change as your first mission (not Stocke's first) goes terribly wrong. With a terrible injury and the death of his two subordinates, Stocke realizes that a previously acquired tome can manipulate time. This tome, the White Chronicle, gives Stocke the ability to jump through time to correct the course of history.

With possession of the White Chronicle and the ability to manipulate time, you are expected to find a solution for the desertification problem. However, this will require careful manipulation of the political situation and several failed attempts. Over the course of the game, Stocke must make crucial decisions that could lead to a game-over scree. However, these endings only serve to give you more context for the world at large while you go back and choose differently.

Ideally, there would be branching paths for each major decision in the game, but such a game would have been ludicrously huge. Here, we have two main paths that are widely different, with all other paths leading directly to some ending. Maneuvering through the two paths is pivotal for Stocke to be able to move forward. If stopped by an obstacle in one timeline, the solution could be in the other.

The main story of the game might not be anything special, but the amazing characterization of all the people involved gives it surprising depth. Starting from the main character himself, Stocke starts as the stoic RPG here, but grows convincingly well throughout the game. Here is a main character who takes it all in stride and rarely complains, which is a huge departure from overly emotional and enthusiastic RPG heroes.

Outside of the main character, we have a wide assortment of supporting cast with various shades to them. Do not expect the all ancient evil to show up; most evil probably started from good intentions. The world is harsh, and it is that harshness that is the root cause of conflict.

Of course, if not for the impeccable writing, neither story nor characters would be as fleshed out as they are. This writing makes us wonder as the sacrifices made during the SNES era for memory's sake. Sure, this text could be somewhat verbose, but it is well written and convincing. The game doesn't cheat in order to surprise you, and each twist have had proper foreshadowing and fits in with all the other events.

Great Story: +4
Great Characters: +5

A moment of decesion taking


"Search for possibilities in the shadows of history"

As the central thrust of the story, the time manipulation mechanic of Radiant Historia is intelligently incorporated into the gameplay. The story unfolds in a series of events; some of which are important "nodes" in history. At any save point (or the map) you can jump back and forward between these nodes for various purposes. Some times, you will need to go back to the past to learn something you can use in the future. At other times, you might want to jump to the second timeline to influence the first. By unlocking these nodes, you open up the game-world to discover new equipment (being sold at different times) and side-quests as well.

For anyone who ever played a game that dealt with time manipulation, they would immediately ask if they have to waste their time doing things they already did before. Thankfully, Radiant Historia takes the common sense approach by allowing you to skip through most dialogue and cut-scenes. However, sometimes you do wish the nodes were closer to each other, but that is mostly when you are trying to finish an unusually obtuse side-quest.

Mostly, the time jump mechanic is both intuitive and easy to use in the main story-line. Unfortunately, side-quests require more time jumping than you might care for, and doing them is needed for the good ending.

While the quests that ask you to jump back and forth are annoying, and those that require you to visit a place between two far apart nodes are a pain, the worst offender is something else. I get that something in the past is a prerequisite for an event in the future, but in no way should an event in the future be a prerequisite for an event in the past. Thankfully, only one or two side-quests are as bad as that, but I didn't care for the bulk of them all-together.

Rapid Time Jump Mechanic: +3
Story and Mechanics Align: +2
Weak Side-Quests: -3

Nodes show you the story in an organized way

"The only thing I'll sell you is a fist, want a free sample?"

To differentiate its turn-based battle system, Radiant Historia uses a puzzle-like 3x3 grid for the enemies. Each enemy can occupy from a single space to the entire grid based on its size (the latter reserved for bosses), and their damage slightly changes based on their position. Fighting these enemies revolve around managing your own turns and trying to score combo attacks.

In order to score a lengthy combo, you will need to change your turn order by advancing enemy attacks. Thus, for the reward of getting a long combo chain by having allies turn follow each other, your risking damage from the enemy.

In order to get the best of your attack, you would want to attack as many of the enemy as possible; and this where skills prove useful. A variety of skills move the enemy through their grid, and if you push one enemy into another, the next hit affects them both. Hence, an effective attack combo would push a bunch of enemies together in order to deliver one final blow to all of them. Which is why battles become a tactical affair that you cannot auto-play to win.

It is thankful then that with battles taking some time (not a lot) that you can go through a t a respectable level without having to fight that many battles. In fact, being under-level might add to the challenge. Even though, if you want to fight more battles, the MP supply you have ensures that your skill can be of use against all enemies, not only reserved for bosses.

Overall, the combat system is not revolutionary, but its a fast paced innovative design that keeps your attention. Best of all, each of your party members (if leveled properly) is useful in their own way (the party members that are typically not around to get leveled up are actually balanced to be stronger at lower levels).

Engaging Combat: +3
Useful Skills: +2

Hope you don't have archanophobia

"This world is not worth the blood needed to save it"

The world of Vainqueur is not a pretty place. Both war an desertification had taken its toll on it. Probably to show more variety in locations, the game doesn't opt to use all desert locations, but even the grassy lands feel as if they are drying up. Hence, the contrast in places that are yet to be affected is greatly highlighted. Yet, its not the backgrounds you are invited to look at but the characters themselves.

Starting from the absolutely gorgeous art-work for each character to the impeccable sprite design and animation, you know that these are the stars of the graphical department. Sprites come in different shapes and sizes, and all animate well and with expressive motion both in and out of battle. As for the art-work design; its one of the best and most detailed I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, we might ave paid too much for that detail, because they are entirely static. This creates moments of disconnect at the game's most dramatic scenes in which I wish the art works was smartly hidden. When a certain character orders the burning of a city, we see her sprite animating in excitement, and her speech bubble is suggesting she is shouting the command. Yet, the neutral expression in the art work creates and odd separation of content and design, so much I would do without the beautiful portraits all together.

Fortunately, the soundtrack never fails to underscore the magnitude of any scene. In fact, you owe it to yourself to play this game exclusively while wearing headphones because this is some great stuff. Yoko Shimomura manages to craft one hell of a soundtrack. Starting from the amazing theme of Allistel, we see a blend of styles and a seriousness to the tale that stick throughout.

True, the soundtrack as a whole may have little in number of track, but it more than makes up for it through quality and variety.

Very Good Sprites: +4
Great Soundtrack: +5
Static Art Work: -2

Its beutiful artwork but only static


In Conclusion:

Radiant Historia is a game that proves revisiting older consoles can be very rewarding. Here is a game I knew nothing about, and would have continued nothing about have I not decided to play and review little know DS games. Yet, now, I would have very much regretted not playing this game.

Simply, this looks and feels like a modern development of a a great SNES RPG. Indeed, this is what I imagine the best SNES RPGs would have been without the inherent limitations of their time. A truly historical.

Final: 50/50

*****************************************************************

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

This game was reviewed by the previous Editor-in-Cheif and Corgin whispere Dale North back in 02.02.2011, and he gave it an 8.5.  As an Atlus fan, Dales was bound to love this one. "It's not often that we see a DS RPG with this level of creativity and polish in the story and gameplay departments, and the fantastic music and art only accentuate that. Even if you think you've done the time-travel RPG before, you should still definitely play Radiant Historia."

The comments section was curiously lacking in activity since this is a site that truely appreciates Atlus as expressed by Xenugears:

"Atlus is the new Square."

Shinta was thinking about picking the game up, but he was surprised at the lack of comparisons to Chrono Triger (he shuld be surprised again):

"Looks awesome, and I'm definitely picking this one up.

I'm kind of surprised that you didn't compare it to Chrono Trigger at all, given the time travel element."

Of course, it wouldn't be a Destructoid comments section without anyone wanting to do something sexual with the game like MrJoe wants:

"I want this game inside of me"

I can see how he would feel that way about this game.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

As is usual with Atlus games, this is another game that managed profit with only 300K units sold. Maybe that would have been more had they printed more copies the first time around as there were serious scarcity issues. For context, 300K is good for Atlus and its the 28th best selling game for the publisher.


"Tips"

1- You must do 10 specific side-quests to get the good ending.
2- Many side-quests you get early on cannot be completed until much later.
3- You can use Mana shards to complete heal yourself at save points.
4- Use larger enemies to push into two or more smaller enemies, then you can push all of them together again.
5- Chaining a long combo increases the damage for attack.
6- Don't ignore the under-leveled characters, because you might find them very useful.

"Next Game"

As an opening to my DS reviews list, I doubt any game could have been better. Radiant Historia is a game I would recommend anyone easily, and this would a very high bench-mark for the other games I will be reviewing.

The next game is one part of a the underrated Valkyrie Profile series; Valkyrie Chronicles: Covenant of the Plume. Here is hoping for a good games streak.

Stay Tuned


For Previous DS game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

There is no screenshots in mobygames for this game.

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5:27 PM on 06.21.2015

DS REVIEWS: The List

What was supposedly a 3rd pillar in Nintendo's strategy in the new century soon showed itself as the true replacment of the dominant Gameboy line. And what a replacment it was. The DS is easily one of my favorite systems I ever played. Which is why choosing to review games for it proved to be such a challenge. I alreayd played a 100+ games in the system, and if I tried to playthrough any top 100 list, I would probably end up playing 10 games tops (since I would have played most of what is already in the list). Hence, I realized I needed to look for some underappreciated games and review those instead.

So this here is my underappreciated list fo DS games review list.

Since this is a personal list, I am not refering to any online list unlike my other review series. However, I did look at a number of games that are considered underrated or unknown by many. In Destructoid, these games might actually find their audience.


The Dual Screens that ruled them all

Rules:

I won't Review games:

  1. I already played before (that's most of Nintendo's main stuff).
  2. That are best experienced in multiplayer (still have no freinds).
  3. That doesn't intrest me at all (few games actually fall into this category).
  4. Non-Retail games.

Review Style:

Because the 50 point scale have been useful for me while reviewing all those SNES games, I will probably continue with it. Every game starts with 25 points, then I add/subrract points based on many aspects I feel are important for games in general, or the genre in particular. While this might seem to mathematical for some readers, I actually assign points based on how I feel about the game. If the sum at the end doesn't match what I feel about the game, it actually serves as great fuel for an inner conversation about the game.

I write reviews because I want to have a conversation about the games, and I feel that all the points of intrest I add in to the review can serve as conversation starters.

Also, for each review, I am going spelunking into the Dtoid review of the game (if it exists) and see both the comments and the review itself. So it might be a nice historical revision of the Dtoid mindset of the day. Finally, I am going to do some economical investigation regarding the game' performance, because it might shed some light on the Wii U's misfortunes.

The List:

Here is the list I compiled of games I am going to review, feel free to suggest some others:

  • Radiant Historia.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
  • Okamiden.
  • Luminous Arc.
  • Luminous Arc 2.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.
  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume.
  • Black Sigil: Blades of the Exiled.
  • Glory of Heracles.
  • Infinite Space.
  • Knights in the Nightmare.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals.
  • Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.
  • Trace Memory.
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings.

Dtoid Challenge:

This is might prove to be a non winnable challenge, but it would be fun to bet on which games Chris Carter didn't play from this list (and the updated ones). For the SNES review list, the only game he didn't play wasn't even released in the US. So, we actually know that young Chris was actually limited by his physical space, if not his temporal state.

Is the Wii era Chrisbot as omnipreset and omnipotent as we think, or is there a chink in his gaming armor?

Out of the List Games:

As always, feel free to suggest more games. However, realize that I most likely have played most of the well-rated games in the system.

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