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8:30 PM on 01.01.2013

New Year's Resolution 2013: Beat 8 game series

Itís that time again!



To complain about video games?



To blog about not having a sex life?



NOOOOooOo its time to learn the lesson of My 60 game year challengeÖ



Well I learned that I havenít played a lot of gaming series. I mean going through 60 games you tend to realize there are a lot of games apart of a series and you still havenít played them. So thatís exactly what I plan to do! While itís probably not as difficult as beating 60 games in a year itís something I need to do to increase my knowledge on gaming! So for this challenge, this New Yearís resolution of 2013, I plan to beat 8 whole gaming series. Why 8? I like the number, and whos going to stop me? you? I donít think so.

Anyway, 8 gaming series within a year, I think itís a very good challenge, and while I canít say I know how many games Iím going to play or what series I will play I know I will at least get done with the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy is a series I really need to beat and thus is automatically one of the series I will beat for this challenge. The rules apply a little differently for Final Fantasy because two of the main series games are MMOs, thus games I just donít want to play. But in their place are 3 other games that are semi-main game titles, FF X-2, FFXII: Revenant Wings, and FFXIII-2.

The Rules are somewhat the same, if not a bit modified for this challenge.

1) A series of games must be at least 3 games long and must have at least 3 games I havenít beaten yet.

2) It must be a whole series, so as long as there is one game I havenít played I have not beaten the whole series.
3) I have from Jan. 1 till Dec. 31st of 2013 to beat 8 game series.
4) I must shout out my thoughts to the unhearing people of the internets

4B) Any game previously beaten before this challenge must still have thoughts record on it like the rest.

4B1) Games beaten on my previous challenge, 60 game year challenge, are considered recorded.

5) Final Fantasy must be one of the series I beat; itís been far too long to not do so.

5B) Not counting 11/14 as they are MMOs, but including FFX2, FFXII:RW, and FFXIII2


Wish me look yaíll I fear this may end up being harder than the last one! I don't know when the next time Ill post, but Ill try to make it as quick as possible! Feel free to join in on the fight with your own challenges if you want!   read


2:30 PM on 12.29.2012

60 game year challenge: COMPLETE

Well Dtoid, people of the internets I'm finally done! After almost but not quite a year I have beaten 60 games! It has been a long journey throughout, and sometimes I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. Thankfully though, I beat my challenge, I got rid of a good chuck of my backlog and increased my gaming knowledge by 20%. I'm rather surprised at all the games I haven't played yet, and picking games up throughout the challenge I have to say I still have a long way to go to beat the rest of the games I have. But i will continue to playthrough these games and hopefully still report my thoughts on the internet in hopes that someone cares. At the very least I played a good chuck of games that were awesome, and some that I would be extremely sad to have never seen me play. Will I do something like this again next year? Probably, but it will be different because I like to shake things up a bit. For now though I think I earned a little celebration, and for you people out there, here are the final 3 games for my challenge.

Special Thanks to PK493 for being one of the first to cheer me on, and any other commenter that said anything to me. While I don't always respond, I do appreciate the thought people have when commenting and makes me want to keep beating games.



Game 58: Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors Ė date beat November 30th



Impressions:

Despite my hate for the last Dragon Quest game I played, VI, I still love the series, and strive to play as many games from the series as possible. It really is quite charming, and even with its supposed bad titles they can still be miles more entertaining than most games. I understand why Dragon Quest Swords isnít really heard of, but to hear that itís really bad just makes me wonder what game people played. Sure, DQ Swords isnít great but for such an out of the box experiment, it works. Personally, I like DQ Swords a lot more than DQVI, and think that more people should play the game because its overall enjoyable, short and sweet game.

While I understand that people may be put off that this DQ game is short, it certainly doesnít make it bad. The fact that it changed the perspective and made the game work and even more enjoyable is great. While the controls arenít top notch, it gets the job done and it really makes you feel a little more immersive in the DQ world. As well, the game requires a lot more skill than most DQ games do and for that I love it. I just love when I can go through games unaware that Iím under leveled, only to realize that I was simply too good. Or the simple idea that any stage is beatable no matter what level you are, as long as you play well. This is what makes DQ Swords so enjoyable for me, skill matters more than grinding. Itís the type of action RPG I have come to love and respect. The fact that Square Enix was able to make such a bold move for a well-established franchise, and make it work impresses me and I really wish they continue this series again. The story was pretty good too, which is something I just donít understand is another gripe about this game. It held my interest throughout, didnít drag on for long, unlike a certain DQVI did, and it had some pretty good voice acting if you ask me. I also love that the stages are replayable and there is a scoring system to them. Where all the hate comes from for this game Iím not really sure, but perhaps I love this game so much because I bought it at a 5$ price tag; I mean if it was higher than 10$ I probably be mad at this game too.

Conclusion: Dragon Quest Swords certainly isnít a horrible game like some fans may claim it to be, but it certainly isnít a prize winner either. With a decent story, a unique take on a franchise, and somewhat decent controls, Dragon Quest Swords is a game that can captive any fans interest, as long as they are interested.

Game 59: Street Fighter X Mega Man Ė date beat December 17th



Impressions:

Like many out there I was very upset that Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3. The fact they let fans participate and give feedback was wonderful and it really was going to be a way to get me into the Mega Man Legends Series. Sadly it didnít come true and in the coming months it seemed that Capcom really wanted nothing to do with Mega Man, with cancelling projects left and right and not letting Mega Man join in any Marvel vs. Capcom games, it really felt like the end for the blue bomber. Then they announced Street Fighter X Mega Man, and that it was going to be free to play and was inspired by a build by a big fan of the Capcom games. Sure, this isnít the greatest start to building a bridge to fans everywhere, but it is still a start. And I for one welcome this new genre that Mega Man has crossed into.

As for the game itself, it really was quite wonderful. I probably put this game somewhere along the lines of MM3 and MM2 in all honesty. Sure itís a fan made game that Capcom help build, but it really itís an apology to Mega Man fans from Capcom USA. It has the same classic feel of older Mega Man games, along with the same level design and boss patterns to memorize. The fact it combines two franchises style and makes them both work is very appealing as well. Street Fighter characters work well in a basic pattern mind set, almost following flow charts that are used to mock how some people play certain characters. Not to mention that, all the Street Fighter characters have cute little sprite animations that just work so well that it really feels like youíre seeing an 8 bit Street Fighter 4 game. As well, Mega Man still has the same tight controls as before along with the same challenging gameplay. It really is just fun seeing Mega Man and Street Fighter characters go toe to toe, and really makes me want to see more of Mega Man versus games. I also love the fact you can now use multiple weapons at once which makes for an interesting way to play Mega Man than it is originally intend. The game is also just so atmospheric and pays homage to SF and MM so well. The music and stages are all so unique compared to the rest of the franchise and make for an interesting treat. This game really feels like Mega Man moved up to the next level in sprite designs, and uses the 8-bit graphics as more of a charm rather than for graphics.

That being said there a bunch of little problems I have with SF X MM. For one, why do I have to do this all in one play through? Seriously, I thought we were passed the days in which progress saving was not an issue. While I personally donít have an actual problem beating this game in one playthrough I know most will. Despite its levels being somewhat easier than most Mega Man games, and that your weapon energy is always refilled when you die, the bosses themselves are still challenging. So for some to beat the bosses and not want to move on to the second course of stages is an acceptable thing. So when you donít have the option to save or use a password it can really suck. Thankfully though the game is fairly short so itís not a huge problem, but it is one that can easily be fixed. As well, the last sets of stages are quite short. With only 3 stages and 2 possible boss battles I have to say I was hoping for more of a fight. I mean, itís supposed to be an anniversary, why canít I face Sagat? Or like whereís bisonís stage? Why is Balrogís stage so short? It really just seems like the ending half of SFxMM couldíve been more, but itís just played as an afterthought.

Conclusion: While there is still a lot of untapped potential and small fixes that should be made to Street Fighter X Mega Man there is still enough there to give any fan a few glees of excitement over. With lots of good music, some great level design, awesome homage to franchises, and wonderful boss battles: Mega Man is back.


Game 60: The Last Story Ė Christmas Day



Impressions:


Finally at last! The last game in my 60 game year challenge, The Last Story. I have to say that overall I was impressed. Iím fully aware that if it wasnít for the efforts of Operation Rainfall the states wouldnít even have The Last Story, and that would have really sucked. I didnít play this game as my last game for this challenge for the sake of irony though; I truly did want to play The Last Story because it really did look interesting. The timing was perfect. I found a limited edition copy of The Last Story at my local gamestop, and it was selling for 40$. So I figured it was destined to be.

As for the way the game turned out though, well itís wonderful really. While I canít say that itís one of the best games I have ever played, it certainly is a great one at least. The way the stories told, the way the game is played, and the ways the characters act are all a little bit different than a typical JRPG. The Last Story, in a way, feels more real than a game in the sense that it works off characters rather than tropes in JRPGs. While I understand that most of the characters in this game are still very much a trope, they also have a little something off about them. I canít say I can really explain it without exposing the story, but for the most part all the characters are more than just one dimension. That is honestly what I think makes the game shine, and the cast of voice actors makes this game all the more fun to watch and play. The music is wonderful too and offers to set the mood throughout the game. This is especially true for the last few battles in the game and really makes me want to find the OST just to hear those last few battle songs.

As for the gameplay itself, well, itís much different than most JRPGs and RPGs that I have played. While there are still a lot of concepts that are borrowed from both, all around youíre just dealing with a different monster when you play this game. There is a little bit of tactics, a little bit of grinding, a little bit of mindless button mashing, and a lot of fun to be had. While the game tends to give out a lot of information all at once, and often stops the game so you can learn, itís still pretty simple to play and about an hour or two in youíll get the hang of things. Itís also interesting to note that throughout the game you play as different characters from your party from time to time; this mix up of play can sometimes make the game even more engaging due to it not feeling like only one character is in charge of the game. Not to mention there is a co-op online multiplayer to be had as well, which Iím sure makes for some rather fun runs than compared to most solo runs.

However, as much as I like a lot of The Last Story, its real fault is just taking a while to get really good and break away from traditions. While the chapters are a nice touch to help show progress throughout the game, it can also be a bit of a hindrance. Sometimes chapters just end up being misleading and may sometimes question whether or not a chapter has really ended because of how long or short they can be. As well, it really does take a while for The Last Story to build their characters and break away from their one dimension and make interesting character arks. Frankly, most of beginning chapters are just cutscenes and tutorials lessons so it can be very off putting for people that just want to battle a bunch of monsters. The Last Story may like to build its characters too much, and while this isnít a bad thing, more often than not, they lose an audience that doesnít want to stick around because it hasnít become good yet. Some areas are also repeated so it can be somewhat annoying when there isnít new scenery around, but TLS does divide the use of already used areas quite well that it isnít too over used, or all that noticeable in the long run.

As well, The Last Story isnít exactly the prettiest girl in the ball, and while it isnít bad to look at, it certainly is outdated. Often I heard my wii cry out in terror because so much was going on during the game that it just couldnít process it. The cutscenes also look more like they were from the PS2 era with how often the lip syncing can be off and the stiff character motions that are shown.

Conclusion:

The Last Story is a great edition to the RPG genre that mixes up story elements and gameplay elements often enough to differ itself from the rest of the crowd. While it may take long to build up, and the graphics may not be the best, The Last Story has a lot of heart to it, and proves itself to be a wonderful game throughout.   read


4:11 PM on 12.24.2012

60 game year challenge: All I want for Christmas is to beat this challenge

Well Dtoid, its almost Christmas and soon enough it will be the start of new years day. With only one more entree to go and one more game to go I think I will accomplish my goal. Its been a long ride, and with the world not ending it looks like I truly have to finish this challenge. Still I only have a little less than a week left, its a bit surreal. But for now, my thoughts on games I have beaten.


Game 55: Castlevania Ė Date Beat November 1st



Impressions:


Castlevania is a wonderful game, but man is it challenging. The last boss alone took me about as much as the rest of the game to beat. Weíre talking like 5 hours ongoing, all just for one boss. Castlevania just demands so much from the player that it can often be overwhelming. I literally started playing around February during this challenge, but once I got to the final boss I just couldnít do it. 2 forms, only getting a chance to get hit 3 times, it was intense! But when Halloween drew near I knew I had to get back on the trolley. So during Halloween I spent several hours trying to beat Dracula. I still couldnít, struck with defeat I decided to turn in for tomorrow, and try again later. And well during school I decided, after a friend stated ďit was easyĒ that I had to beat it then and there. Focused, I finally won the battle, but as for myself I was still feeling adrenaline rushing through my body, and my hands shaking. To say the least, Castlevania gave me a challenge of a life time, and for that I thank it.

See Castlevania has this wonderful system of challenging you throughout the whole game. It never really stops testing you, and you always have to be on your toes and sharp as a whip. The fact the game bases everything on the direction youíre going through is amazing, and really something more developers should focus on. Itís just one of those games that give out tough love, itís not trying to sugarcoat anything for you, and thatís what makes it so fun. I tired as hard as I could, but when I failed the game simply said try again. Sure I was mad, but it still gives you the tools to get things done in the end. The way to the reaper, and the way to Dracula are paved with everything you need to take them down, so even if you die, you still have the tools available to you. So you still have to earn everything you do, but you fill so much more enjoyment when you actually beat it. For this reason, I say the first Castlevania game is the best I have ever played. Itís not just the monster lore, the catchy music or the visuals, but the game design itself. Itís rewarding, challenging, and thatís what makes it fun.

Conclusion:

Castlevania has everything going for it, and you can see the love the designers put into it. The visuals, music, enemies, power-ups, everything about it is just top notch. But what truly makes this game shine is the challenge it provides, itís never too difficult to get past, but just enough to always keep you on edge.


Game 56: Sonic Advance 3 date beat November 20th





Impressions:

As someone that is an avid fan of the sonic series and the advance series, SA3 just doesn't cut it. I understand that people like it, and ya itís not a bad game, but itís the weakest of the series. Just everything about it doesn't grab my attention like other advance games do. There are just a lot of little problems I have with it that don't make it fundamentally a good sonic game to me. Sonic thrives on fast place gameplay mixed with well-timed jumps and speed running tactics, and that's something I don't really see in SA3.

Zones are, for some reason, there to explore rather than acting as a nice way to divided all the acts. As well, the way these zones act are already a big turret for me to even play the game. I understand they were trying to go with a sonic adventure vibe, but the zones are just far too shallow and pointless to really make anything worthwhile by having them there. The game would have easily benefited with a quicker menu option.

Getting chaos emeralds are even more tedious than ever as well. While in the first two games getting chaos emeralds was simpler, you got the chaos emeralds by both collecting 50 rings and finding a spring to the special stage or collecting 7 rings scattered throughout certain levels. SA3 however, has you collecting all the chao's in a zone, and SA3 doesnt just stop there, as after getting the chao's you then have to find a key found in one of the acts of a zone to unlock the special stage and then past the stage in order to get the chaos emerald. This new way to get chaos emeralds is really off putting to me, and it just ruins the concept of skill in getting a chaos emerald, and replaces it with tedious treasure hunting.

On top of that, the majority of the ending levels are just too long for their own good. In my opinion, Sonic does best when each level is around 3-4 mins long around the first time beating it, and about 2-3 during speed runs, if not faster. During my playthrough however I sometimes got to around 5-6 mins. just trying my best on getting to the end. While I'm not the best sonic player, I have to say that a lot of these levels just drag on. It gets annoying when you keep dying at one spot only to realize you were only half way through the level. Not to mention that a few levels have small loops here and there that makes progress annoying as hell because if you mess up on one part itís pretty much back to start. I also want to know why partners are able to hinder your way through a level; its just really dumb to see the CPU use up a platform that will fall if you or the CPU land on it.

As for the other parts of the game, mainly the new partner system, not a fan. While I usually have something good to say or something of the like, SA3 just makes me mad at what might have been. The partner system just seems a bit broken to me. The way it gives advantages and disadvantages toward certain pairings just makes it control bad, and itís just awkward in the long run. Too many things change with each different character in order to play them like you usually would pending on your partner. For instance, having pretty much anyone but tails as your partner automatically makes sonic lose his tricks and his ball when he jumps. This makes for a lot of annoying mechanics rather than nice additional ones. I understand they donít want to make a truly broken pairing which breaks the game, but changing the way the character moves, runs, and walks makes playing a game based on physics really hard to adjust too. Frankly it just got to the point of just sticking to sonic and tails because they seemed to be the only pairing that actually worked.

Conclusion: Sonic Advance 3 is easily the weakest in the series, and this is due to a lot of interesting ideas being executed in a mediocre fashion. While SA3 certainly isn't a bad game, it really tries too many things at once to really create a robust system for any of the new ideas it wants to try. At the least, SA3 can be enjoyed by fans, but itís better if everyone else plays one of the earlier games in the advance series.



Game 57: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation Ė date beat Thanksgiving day




Impressions:


While I normally like Dragon Quest games, DQVI I have an utter dislike for. Everything about DQ6 could be right, but itís just not, itís just long, drawn out, boring, hallow, and dumb. The biggest problem I have with it is the constant padding throughout the game. There are just so many things this game could cut to make it shorter and thus less drawn out, but the game constantly insists to waste your time. Truth be total the padding wouldnít be so bad either if the random battle rates weren't that bad either, but that isn't true. My game clocked in well above 50 hrs. and it really got to the point of just wanting to stop for the longest time.

The story itself just isn't interesting either, and while it does try to get interesting it really just ends up being a hallow mess of interest. The fact that the game starts out with amnesia characters is bad enough, but the way they develop them is slow and then increasingly fast, then none at all. I personally had more emotion for side characters in DQ9 than I did for the main characters in DQ6. And you'd think that the idea behind a dream world and real world would be a little more interesting, but it just doesn't quite get there. And also the fact that there are even more areas to travel make me incredibly annoyed because there are just so much bloody space on the map, so itís like why donít you use all of it? On top of that, the game doesn't give you a strong sense of direction not even half way through the game; I'd say it took about an hour in to start wondering where you should go. But perhaps the worst part about this game is that it just doesn't end, and it goes so slow. Iím really not sure if I would have beat this game if I didnít watch all of the supernatural series while playing this game throughout the episodes.

Perhaps, the only redeeming note DQ6 has is the vocation system. While itís somewhat present in DQ8, I have been missing how great it was like in DQ9. While DQ6's vocation system isn't as robust as DQ9's vocation, itís still a fun system that can help boost characters and make them better than ever. Just something about making your characters your own personal healer or attacker or what have you, makes things a little more enjoyable to play the game. But overall, DQ6 is just really weak as a game, and I strongly suggest even fans to not play it, itís not bad, but man is it disappointing. What probably hurts more is that it was just now a recent port to the states.

Conclusion: Dragon Quest 6's only good contribute to the franchise is the vocation system, the ability to choose what class you want to be gives a sense of customizing and itís a fun, exciting system. As for the rest of DQ6, itís a pile of mess that is way too drawn out, and not nearly as in depth as it wants to appear to be. I strongly suggest scratching your Dragon Quest itch with a different game.   read


7:55 PM on 12.16.2012

60 game year challenge: A series of wonderful events

We are getting down to the wire Dtoid! While I only have half this month to go, and still two games to beat, 6 to write about in total, I really feel like I'm going to beat this challenge! Its been a long ride, but we are getting really close! As such I like to thank this challenge for having introduced me to some new series I haven't even played before. The reason why I'm thanking my challenge now is because this post is packed with series I wouldn't have been playing if it weren't for my challenge. Thankfully I did this challenge and played these series, and well I have to say I really feel like I'm doing my gaming duty! Anyway this is what I thought about the inFAMOUS series and perhaps the best Dragon Quest game I have played to date!



Game 52: inFAMOUS Ė date beat October 17





Impressions:

I find it odd that both inFAMOUS and Prototype were released around the same time, with nearly the same concepts and gameplay. I mean, while I played inFAMOUS I was like ďthis is like Prototype but betterĒ. Itís just weird how two things can look the same, but one is clearly better. inFAMOUS is just far more realized and fleshed out. Heck, the story is actually interesting, and gave me a few surprises, but it was all in context and I could actually understand this story without any holes in the way. The bosses were actually more creative than Prototype as well, ditto for the powers that you get throughout. It just kinda makes me mad that Prototype probably stole some of inFAMOUSís thunder (pun intended) just because they were released around the same time.

I donít have much bad to say about inFAMOUS save for the lighting, ya, I suppose Iím being a bit punny today. Just sometimes you lose a battle with the enemies you fight simply because you canít see. It doesnít help when the overworld can literally be a shade of grey. It just got to the point where the contrast of lightning shooting from your hand and the nothing but blackish-greyish area in between really bothered me while I was playing that I just wanted to get the game done. I like to explore, but seeing the over world become like all grey? No thanks. Some of the missions can be pretty repetitive too, but itís nowhere near as bad as Prototypeís side missions. Also the whole good and evil thing seemed a bit pointless after a while, ya it did impact the story a bit, but it just wasnít nearly as present as it lets on. I personally think the game would be better off without the good and evil mechanics. Just make Cole out to be a hero that is perceived as bad I think thatís a better dynamic than just choose if youíre good or evil. Cole just seems much more complex than that, especially considering the ending of this game.

Conclusion: The best way I can personally describe inFAMOUS is the better version of Prototype, although I suppose itís exactly the opposite. While I personally have a problem with the lighting inFAMOUS provides, and the fact it wants you to stick to either a good or evil motive, inFAMOUS still lights up my spirits of new IPs making waves in the gaming world.


Game 53: inFAMOUS 2 - date beat October 21





Impressions:

After the first inFAMOUS I really did wonder how well the second one would improve on it. Not that inFAMOUS was that amazing though, just that I was wondering how much better it really got. Well as it turned out, inFAMOUS 2 is a great improvement on the first. For starters, the actual karma choice mechanic actually makes more sense now, and effectively enough to not see the series going anywhere without it. The things that happen, the choices you make, well they aren't always what you think they be, and for that I thank it. The first game was just too obvious, but thankfully the second one gave a much more subtle approach. Little things like finding blast shards, climbing up faster, and certain moves have been enhanced to make them far more useful than in the previous game as well. Not to mention that most of the main characters are actually developed more in the 2nd than the first one. Itís gotten to the point where I can't see myself enjoying the 1st inFAMOUS because of the marginal-able improvements the 2nd has.

The only things I really have to complain about this game are minor, and for the most part barely worth mentioning. The only true complaint is that climbing seems to be a lot stickier in the 2nd than the 1st; I just keep grabbing walls sometimes when I didn't want to. It was a bit annoying to only have two islands/cities as well, but both are varied enough to say that itís far more of an improvement. Each city has landscape and areas that are just a bigger contrast to one another. All the newer characters are interesting as well, same goes for the story too. While the first one took about half the game to actually get interesting, the second takes far less time, and makes for an exciting ride. The endings especially are better, and even though I only finished the evil side, I know that both are distinct and fitting. I haven't actually tired the UGC yet either, but the fact itís there to give you something new to play with makes postgame far more worthwhile than the first inFAMOUS.

Conclusion: inFAMOUS 2 is a great sequel to the first game, and truly makes me like this series for existing. The story itself is far more interesting, the powers are far better this time around, and the characters even have more depth. This is certainly an IP I want to see more of.

Game 54: Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride Ėdate beat October 25





Impressions:

I really do love the Dragon Quest series a whole bunch, and if it wasnít for this challenge I donít think I be playing any of the games at this point. DQ5 is a particular gem that I would be very sad to see myself not play, now that I have played. Itís just so different in terms of story in RPGs, and frankly it baffles me that Dragon Quest can be so revolutionary yet still the same to its predecessors. I mean, playing DQ5 still felt the same, the monsters, music, and battles are all similar to the previous 3 Dragon Quest games I have played, and yet the game presents itself so differently that I canít keep myself away from it. Just the fact that you pretty much play an RPG of your own life is awesome. You have a childhood and go off adventuring, become a teen and get married, then have kids and go off as a family to save the world. Itís so surreal and wonderful how itís executed. The characters, mainly the wives, add so much charm to it too, and doing this run on the DS version I pick Debora as my wife because Iím a softy for women that are tsundere types. Itís just amazing to watch her grow as a person when youíre with her as her husband, she changes, and you can tell she does throughout the story. Just little things like that that make me love DQ5 all the more.

Course, DQ5 has its flaws, but there is only a minor and major one I see, but they are tolerable. Minor problem DQ5 has is in one particular area where it really isnít made clear what youíre supposed to do. Like I literally had no problems knowing where to go till I got to this a certain point in the game, and bam! Stuck. The game just kinda loses ya because of how fast itís going. It got really annoying, but again itís a minor problem and it doesn't really happen again. The major problem I have with DQ5 though, the bias of the wives. While the game gives you a choice, it sure does guilt you do making the one it wants you to make. Like it really gets annoying with the amount of ďyou should marry BiancaĒ guilt, like is it really giving me a choice? Kinda like your parents giving you an option when clearly they want you to do one and not the other option. I mean, it gets to the point where itís shown in the gameplay, like the other two wives, Nera and Debora, you have to grind them to decent levels and even then they are then unusable for the majority of the game. Like why even give us a wife to use, when we canít even use her? I know it sounds like a lot of complaining for something so trivial, especially considering that this game pretty much invented pokemon, but I really did like the wives in DQ5. They were a really cool concept, and I suppose I didnít want the honeymoon to be over, perhaps I just have some issues to work out?

Conclusion: Dragon Quest 5 did something I really donít see RPGs do, and yet it still was the same game from the same series I grew to love. Aside from a few hand selected problems, DQ5 charmed me with its life growing story, interesting characters, and inspiring monster/ally system.   read


6:06 PM on 12.13.2012

60 game year challenge: Entering the home-stretch

Well Dtoid its coming close to the end of the year, and I've reached the home-stretch of my 60 game year challenge. We finally enter into the 50's and I personally only have 2 more games to go...and 9 more to write about. Thankfully, I'm done with my finals and now I can focus on the important things in life, video games! Anyway,here is the next batch of games from my challenge, and expect the next batch soon.


Game 49: Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn- Date Beat October 3



Impressions:

Radiant Dawn really is a fine example of storytelling through gameplay. Playing as pretty much each individual nation and then seeing each of them fight each other really makes you more emotionally involved then just seeing these characters through some sort cutscene. I really do love Fire Emblem because the characters help create the universe youíre in and make it feel just a little more real. Tellius is, perhaps, the most real Fire Emblem universe to date. Itís not just the fact that Radiant Dawn goes through several different parts showing different sides of opposition. Itís the fact that RD builds these sides based off the game that came before it, and largely owes much of its success because there was a predecessor.

Course, not everything is great with Radiant Dawn, and it does have a lot of glaring issues. For one, itís a hard game. Even Fire Emblem veterans like me donít have an easy time with this game because of how hard it can be in the beginning and near the end. Itís not just hard, but it also doesnít steady its difficulty, some chapters may take you forever and others will be a breeze. Radiant Dawn just never quite cuts the player any slack, and itís quite maddening to play through a whole chapter in one sitting just to see one little thing get screwed up, and making you start over again. Luckily, Radiant Dawn covers such a cruel fate with the new addition of battle saves, and something that truly saved my sanity. For the first 6 chapters I didnít use battle save, assuming it was only a quick save, but once I found out how useful it was, and the ability to abuse it was present RD suddenly did a 180 on difficulty. Now instead of getting headaches over chapters, I was getting them over leveling up my units, the way I normally play.

The other issue RD presents is the availability of units, something not present in most fire emblem games. The vast majority of your units wonít be around for most of the chapters so there is a lot of micro managing in terms of who gets to use who, which units should be used, and not always being able to use people that you want. The main problem, in all honesty, is that RD just has too many good units and you kinda want to train them all, but you only get some much time with each of them so then you have to quickly narrow down who you train. Many units even suffer greatly from their short usage, and end up being nearly improbable to use. Also thanks to the great deal of units, many of the supports that were once there to give great detail about characters are now nothing more than an add bonus and a generic dialogue tree. This really did disappoint me greatly as supports are one of the best aspects of fire emblem. Supports gave the characters depth, and reasons to like them more, so we get angry more when they die on the battlefield.
In spite of all these issues though, Radiant Dawn really just ends up being a different beast of a fire emblem game. Sure, RD still has the same old level up systems, the same old weapon system, and the same old animations. Pretty much everything that made fire emblem good, stayed good in RD. But the thing that is ever present in RD, and what separates it clearly from other fire emblem games I have played is how grand it is. Everything is set in a grander scale; chapters are far longer than they used to be; the amount of units you have far outclass any fire emblem game I have played; and the story expands even between two games. Radiant Dawn feels like it was an experiment of how big a fire emblem game can be, and for that I thank it and wish more of it.

Conclusion: At times Radiant Dawn can provide to be too big of a mess of sorts, with its odd sense of difficulty, support system, and choosing which characters to exactly use throughout the game. But if you invest time in Radiant Dawn it will provide you with a grand experience, with a story, cast of characters, and game that match that.

Game 50: Breath of Death VII: The Beginning Ė date beat October 7




Impressions:

Seeing many reviews mentioning Breath of Death VII, an indie game, as a great RPG to pick up for only a dollar peaked my curiosity into this game. Further through these reviews I saw that it was hilarious and had a battle system that could change RPGs forever. The battle system in question, having a limited number of random encounters, had me sold; this was the RPG for me. The fact it was humorous was just icing on a chocolate mountain. I bought the game, and began to sing praises of it throughout the land. I told many of my friends about this awesomely awesome game that was super cheap and funny. Then when it arrived on steam along with another charming game, Cthulu saves the world, I bought it again. I even bought a few for packs of BoDVII/ CStW for my friends because I love Breath of Death so much, and along with another game it was easy to give it to my friends to play. Course, I did all this without even touching Cthulu Saves the World or even beating Breath of Death, a game I had for well over a year. I overhyped this game so much to my friends whenever I mentioned it, and I didnít even beat it. If there were ever a game I personally needed to beat for this challenge, it be this one.

After playing through the whole game, was it worth all the praise I gave it? Well sorta, accounting everything like price, gameplay, story, and whatnot BoDVII was good. The game itself is a dollar and what it gives out is unique to its own genre, and effectively enough, BoDVII is revolutionary. Yet there is this slight distaste I have for it, perhaps I praised it too much, but needless to say it didnít live up to what I sold it on. Yes, the game can be quite funny and the battle system was everything I made it out to be, but for the largest part of playing through this game I kept fighting sleep. Perhaps I should blame this on the fact I usually played this game at the wee hours of the night, but the game could just not grab my attention enough to make me stay awake. There are a lot of moments throughout the game were the battles can get somewhat tedious, as many random encounters can end up unchallenging because how you abuse the battle system it gives you; one where you can just fight all the forced random encounters at once. Perhaps I made the game boring, but perhaps the game needed a little something more. I mean this game can get really challenging, and I did die from certain bosses numerous times. The combo and do or die battle system is also one of my favorite combat systems in RPGs. I like the fact that if I spend too long on a boss, or I use a wrong move the game will effectively kick my ass. I like the fact that I can grind easily enough and then go exploring without interruptions. But the thing I didnít like in this game was a constant need to grind to get rid of random encounters, this made the game just take too long, and what made me want to fall asleep.

Such a complaint however only tampered my experience for this game a little, and for what this game was, it was still enjoyable and funny. While it can be a bit repetitive, and the story can also be a bit lackluster, if only for the sake of humor, the game wins a lot of points for how cheap it is, how unique its battle system is, and for creating challenging, fast pace battles. Iíll still recommend Breath of Death even though it wasnít the God sent I was hoping for a RPG, I may down play my recommending this time as well, but needless to say Breath of Death does deserve praise.

Conclusion:
Breath of Death VII: The Beginning is an ambitious indie RPG that is not only cheap to get, but also has a revolutionary battle system to boot. While BoDVII is short with a mediocre story it also provides to be witty and replayable with its custom skill tree and score attack mode. To say the least you are getting a lot of bang for your buck.


Game 51: Bloodrayne: Betrayal date beat October 10




Impressions:

When I first saw Wayforward was making BloodRayne: Betrayal, I was ecstatic. Betrayal was looking to be like a Castlevania game, but with a badass female as the lead character. I really donít know much about the BloodRayne series itself, but if this was supposed to be there big comeback game Iíd say Wayforward delivered, well, mostly anyway.

Itís not really that I have a big problem with Betrayal, but there are a lot of things that kind of damper my spirits when playing this game. For instance, about 1/3 of Betrayalís levels have conflicting shades in the background that make it extremely hard to see your character and actions while playing through the game. I understand that itís largely there to be ascetically pleasing to the eye, but it also lowers my eyesight during gameplay, to the point Iím just guessing where Iím go. Some of the level design is also questionable, itís not really that itís flawed, but there are points in the game where you really question how it escalated so quickly. Whether itís a large wave of enemies, the death traps throughout the levels or a combination of the two, Betrayal will eventually let you know that itís not fucking around. Course these sudden spikes of difficulty are always welcomed with checkpoints, mostly in well placed areas. These checkpoints then allow you to practice these areas of difficultly over and over again till you get it right. This is, of course, I nice change of pace from the gaming industry as Betrayal doesnít baby you, nor does it ever become too difficult to pass. Youíll just have a few frustrating moments, but eventually youíll be able to pass an area of difficulty as it becomes easier and easier the more you learn it.

However, the bigger problem is the somewhat odd physics Betrayal has, at certain points Rayne will end up with unpredicted momentum and can easily screw you over and kill you. Rayne is also kind slippery as a whole, so itís hard to stop on a dime like you would normally want to in a platformer such as this. Rayne also tends to get locked up in whatever move she is currently doing so she canít always dodge the way you would want her too, and her recovery is horrible as you can recover at the exact moment that another enemy hits you, leaving you unable to retaliate. Overall though, much of Betrayals problems can easily be conquered with practice.

While Betrayal doesnít really have much of a story going for it, much of its art direction does. Many of the backgrounds, which can be annoying, are also stunning to look at. While playing the game I was sometimes just distracted because of how pretty the background can look. Also the fact that I canít really see Rayne is somewhat bothersome because the camera is always in a locked position that makes sure that Rayne only covers a tiny part of the screen. Bosses in Betrayal are also rather hit and miss, itís not that the bosses arenít challenging or different, but that they lack a certain appeal. Rankings were also rather lackluster as much of the ranking system just seems harsh. While it certainly isnít noticeable at first, the fact is that you have to play to near perfection if you want the highest rank possible. I understand that I canít get higher ranks my first run through, but sometimes I legitimately try to do well, and Iíll still get an F Rank because I didnít kill my enemies fast enough, collect treasure, or got injured. The game simply wants too much of me and in the end I donít care about the rankings because itís simply too hard.

I know I complain a lot about Betrayal, but I really did have fun with it. The music is stellar and the graphics are pleasing to the eye, for the most part. It also reminds me of my times with Castlevania and how hard it can be, and thatís why I like Betrayal, its challenging. Sure it has a lot of trial and error moments, but in the end it feels more so challenging rather than tedious. If you set out and play this game just donít look to play to perfection as much of it is just too demanding and youíll just end up being frustrated in the end. But if you look at this game as a mountain to conquer, youíll find it to be an enjoyable experience.

Conclusion:
BloodRayne Betrayal is far from a perfect game, aside from excellent music and visuals the game has many glaring issues with combat, level design, and ranking systems. But Betrayal also provides to be a challenging game that ends up feeling very rewarding in the end, and with that note Betrayal is still a good game.   read


11:27 AM on 11.27.2012

60 game year challenge: Back to school blues

It's that time again Dtoid. While thanksgiving and black friday weekend maybe gone now and everyone gets back to work, I'm getting back to writing.And with that I am ever so much closer to completing my goal of 60 games in a year. Currently I am 57/60, so I'm at the home stretch, and I already know what game I will be making that 60. For now, here are my impressions of games 46-48.

Game 46: Mighty Flip Champs! Ė Date beat September 16



Impressions:

Wayforward is a company that crawled into my heart and laid a parasite there to dwell for all eternity, and Iím fine with that. Thereís just something about Wayforward that always makes me enjoy their games; Mighty Flip Champs provides for a great example about how awesome Wayforward can be. See MFC only has 2 buttons, the d-pad and a Flip button. Now, normally you wouldnít think you could make a game with such simple controls, but Wayforward goes out of their way to do just that. Heck, you canít even use both the dpad and flip button at the same time. MFC is just so simple, and yet it provides a lot of challenge and thinking. Thatís why I really like this game, simple concept executed in not so simple ways. Wayforward is just able to make such basic things enjoyable that it just makes me love this company so much.

There are a lot of stages in MFC, which at times can seem like it has no end. The game provides to be challenging throughout these stages so beating each stage can get somewhat tiresome, tricky, and frustrating to do. But MFC works best as a pick up and play game, and often you will find yourself spending more time than you thought you would because you want to beat a certain stage. On top of all the stages it has, it also has rankings you can get for each stage so there is even more to do when you actually manage to beat the last level. Beating a stage is a simple matter of reaching the goal while managing to collect any animals (sometimes none) along the way. This can get a little dull at first, but MFC always provides to throw in something that makes the challenge a little harder or trickier to do, and this is where the heart of the game shows up. Such a simple concept of flipping and collecting animals starts to get more confusing and challenging with simply adding different obstacles, different paths to choose, more layers to flip through, and even giving a time limit of how far you can go. Things start to get really challenging, and with only flipping as your main weapon it provides to make a wonderful brain teaser of a game.

Conclusion: Wayforward manages to make a simple concept harder and trickier to do with simply adding a few different hazards in the game; providing for an even more challenging and enjoyable experience on a simple concept. This makes Mighty Flip Champs such a unique experience in gaming because of its simple, but hard to master style of gameplay, and I recommend this to anyone that is a fan of having their brain pushed to the limit.

Game 47: Sonic Generations date beat Ė Sept. 23



Impressions:

I have a very odd chemistry with Sonic games. Just the way they are designed often frustrates me, and if you ever caught me playing one I probably be cursing up a storm if I made one little mistake. But by no means do I hate Sonic; itís just that I demand perfection when playing through the game, even when itís the first time Iím playing a stage. I usually do end up falling in love with most Sonic games because of how they are designed for speed runs, and finding ways to go through as fast as possible is always fun. So when playing Generations I did curse a lot, and I was constantly yelling at the game, but I have to say in the end it was pretty dang fun.

Generations certainly has a lot of flaws though, and while playing through it I made sure to tell the game what it was doing wrong, although that may just be me yelling at it. For one, playing as Classic Sonic just has some weird physics to it. You just canít jump pass a certain height, nor do you carry much momentum when jumping, and curling into a ball while running actually slows you down opposed to speeding you up like it used to. On top of that, Classic Sonic gets a very heavy knockback whenever he gets hit by enemies, which can be quite annoying when you get hit again when you are recovering from just getting hit.

Modern Sonic has some odd physics too, but it just takes some getting used to. Like his homing attack will pretty much cancel any momentum you had and drop you straight down after itís done with the attack. His other main feature, boosting, can help you get further than a homing attack, but its far harder to control and more often than not just send you dying if you use it wildly. Boosting is still pretty great as it still uses the unleashed physics, but it can get really troublesome when the stages switch from a 3D to a 2D layout. And thatís the main problem with Modern Sonicís stages, unleashes physics just donít work well with a 2D design as it was built for a lot of room and the ability to see where you are going. So when you are boosting as Modern Sonic this can often lead to some untimely deaths that where just not able to be seen. But 2D only happens a few times throughout levels and really isnít noticeable till the last few stages.

The story in Generations also failed to meet my expectations. What could have been a grand adventure through time and space just felt like ďhey, guys remember this level? Pretty awesome right?Ē For the most part, none of the stages were original, and often left me wanting something a little new and fresh. Perhaps, I would have like this game a lot more if at the least the story gave some kind of connection to each stage with like a cutscene or something. I mean, we are traveling through time and space right? Iíd like to hear a better explanation then, letís just randomly go to some of the best levels in the Sonic universe! Perhaps, Iím being too harsh on this game, but the story really left room for desire. Sure there are a few inside jokes, and a somewhat decent amount of cutscenes, but I just felt that they lost a lot of potential storytelling, something Adventure 2 excelled at.

Still, Generations is still a blast to play through, and it nowhere near has as much problems as the Sonic Adventure series, or Sonic Unleashed did. All the stages that come back are well picked, and are iconic to the games they are from, but unfortunately there are no space levels, despite being the usual last zone. The challenges the stages have are also some of the best challenges the Sonic series has ever had; with many of them being varied and never getting dull. One challenge in particular, the Episo grappling hook one, is something I want to see more of. Generations also has a well thought out design for online ranking called 30 second trials. I was very impressed with the idea of getting as far as you could in 30 seconds, and I would certainly like to see more in upcoming sonic games. Most of the bosses were also very fun to play against, and wanted me to play more bosses like them, especially the rival boss battles. The only boss battle I hated was the last one, because in the end it was just mindless boosting. But by far the best thing about Sonic Generations: all the new organized music. Just a lot of the remixes and remakes of the songs of past Sonic games make generations soundtrack stand out so much, and the fact you can play them on any stage once unlocked? Wonderful.

Conclusion: Sure, the Story is subpar and the physics require some getting used to, but Sonic Generations simply offers too much of the good than the bad. All the returning stages were well picked, and seeing them in new 2D and 3D renditions is a blast. The challenges for each stage are also the best any Sonic game has ever offered. The remixes of past Sonic music are also well done and are clearly a love letter to the fanbase. Overall, if you ever wanted a brief history on Sonic, Generations would be your first stop.

Game 48: Double Dragon Neon Ė Date Beat October 1



Impressions:

I really do love Wayforward, they are just able to do so many great things with games that it makes me wonder how much they love games. Double Dragon Neon really does feel like the biggest love letter to the Ď80s. The gameplay, music, and presentation are just so rad that they could have been in the Ď80s if they had the technology that we have today. This is especially true for the soundtrack, Jake Kaufman did just such an amazing job on the soundtrack that it made me fall head over heels with Neon without even having to play it. The levels and gameplay themselves are no push over either, beating down on enemies never felt this rad before. With a bunch of mixtapes and stances to make sure that you can adjust your playstyle to whatever you want, makes Neon one of the best beat-ups this generation.

The world that Neon creates is also radical with how many different places that you seemingly, randomly visit. You just never quite know where Neon is ever going. The Story is also just as ridiculous, in a good way, with what little dialogue that is there its sure to make you smile with one of their one liners. And while I have only just beaten it, Neon is looking to offer a lot more than just what I played. I still have to do a bro-op run, play on two other difficults, and get all my mix tapes together. While it may have not taken me long to beat Neon, it will take me far longer to complete it.

That being said, Double Dragon Neon is a rather short game, only expanding to about 10 stages total, and with half the stages actually having a boss. I literally beat the game within a matter of 4 hrs, including several repeats of stages, and a small amount of grinding. Neon also has some grinding mechanics as well, which isnít exactly cool. While the aspect of leveling up certain moves and stances are nice to have, having to upgrade with either random drops or store purchases in a select amount of areas is a bummer. It then becomes an extra pain when there are only two stages that have shops to upgrade your mix tapes. As well, both characters in Neon move slow, and it can often get annoying walking around like a tank everywhere. More often than not, youíll want to run everywhere rather than walk because of how slow the characters are. It also would have been nicer to have a little more to the story as well, as a lot of the dialogue that was shown was quite humorous, and it would have been nice to see a little more interaction between the villain, damsel, and hero. But these are all just really harsh nitpicks, and in the end Double Dragon Neon still shines brightly, and its soundtrack is quite amazing, really if you donít plan to buy the game, get the soundtrack at least.

Conclusion: While Double Dragon Neon maybe a bit on the short side, there are just too many things on the plus side to say that itís not worth your time. The game offers so much from different playstyles, Bro-op, and an amazing soundtrack that any nitpicking seems to be unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. Neon is a great game, and anyone looking for a beatíem up or a Co-op game or even to listen to some really good music should play it.   read


1:01 PM on 11.20.2012

60 game year challenge, I'm thankful for almost being done.

Well Dtoid I'm getting close, while I'm still not quite caught up on writing, I'm almost caught up on my video game challenge. I'm still at 55/60, but I assume that will change this coming thanksgiving weekend. So while I'm thankful that my challenge will soon be over for me, for now enjoy the games that reached me to 3/4 the way there.

Game 43: Onimusha: Warlords Ė Date Beat August 26



Impressions:

So this game was made for the PS2 right? Because it sure doesnít feel like it was. Starting out the biggest problem with this game is the controls. Why is there no analog support? Why does my character move like a tank? Why canít the camera angles make up their mind at where they want to be? And why must I endure such bad voice acting? There were just so many questions starting out with Onimusha that I didnít know what to do with, and once I finished the game, I still didnít get any answers. If anything it makes me wonder why this really exists. The game is very short, with me clocking a bit above 4 hours on my first playthrough, and for what is supposed to be a survival horror game, it did not scary me at all. Not scaring me is pretty hard, considering I donít like a lot of things and I scare easily enough, but this game was just full of a few ďjump inĒ enemies that try to scary you, but really they just get annoying. The enemies donít really try to attack you either, but with the camera angles working against you it kinda balances out the difficulty of the enemies.

Aside from all the bad, the actual concept is very interesting; zombies/ demons in the feudal era could make for a really good game. Course, we just got Onimusha, which is just not a good game. Is it a bad one? Iím not sure; it certainly doesnít last long enough to give a big impression on me. I mean, I liked the orb absorbing, leveling up items, playing as two different characters from time to time, and some of the puzzle solving. But really I donít think Iíd play this game again. There are just so many other better games to play, so itís like, why play one thatís rather average, when you can play a good one again? This is what I constantly asked myself when playing Onimusha, and why I probably wonít go back to it.

Conclusion: Onimusha, while it has a good concept, just falls apart at the seams. Camera, and control issues hinder it from being an enjoyable experience, and the story doesnít exactly make you want to stay either. Perhaps, Onimushaís only real defining feature is that itís short.

Game 44: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Ė August 29



Impressions:

I started this game a while ago, and the very reason I stopped playing it was because I couldnít beat the black knight. And for those that donít know, itís a fight during the game that you have the option to win or draw at and then progress through the game. You also have to have the ability Aether to have a clear chance for victory. I didnít have Aether though, and while I wanted to beat the black knight, I decided it be best to just suck up my pride and move forward. So I did and wouldnít you know it I was close to the end of the whole game. So I proceed forth and beat it in record time.

Path of Radiance was perhaps the first fire emblem game to have me actually care what happened in the storyline. Iíll admit that I never really cared about the story so far in fire emblem games because they were often bland to me, and the characters themselves were just far more interesting. Thatís not to say that Path of Radiance didnít have good characters though, in fact this is the biggest cast of characters that I have liked in a Fire Emblem game as well. There were just so many people that I wanted to use that in the end, I couldnít fit them all in the final battle, nor have them all properly trained. But Path of Radiance literally made me stall at beating it because I wanted to beat the black knight; I wanted to give Ike his rightful victory. PoR made me feel that I was actually fighting for something, something no other FE game has really made me consider. Everything just feels bigger in Path of Radiance, the battles, the characters, cutscenes, and story itself. I suppose this was true because it was the first console game in a while and most certainly the first one in the states. But PoR made me care.

Path of Radiance didnít get everything right though, and it certainly isnít my favorite fire emblem. For one, the 3d models are just boring and feel so lifeless compared to the sprites they used to use. I really did like to watch every battle take place on the GBA fire emblem games, but Path of Radiance quickly had me turning off the battle animation in favor of the quicker battle animations on the map. As well, PoR wasnít a pick up and play type of game that Iím used to in the fire emblem series. I have always been fond of the fact that fire emblem was very portable and even turning off the game still kept you in your place without saving. But PoR doesnít exactly have that option and while itís understandable why it doesnít, it doesnít change the fact I still want that type of playstyle.

Course, I donít hate everything that PoR offers, and the fact it gives so many tools makes me love it. For instance, I loved all the little extra abilities the characters had, and it often gave more strategy to the game than anything else. I also liked the new way the support system was laid out, with supports going by battles and not by turns, so I no longer had to waste a lot of turns to get the supports I wanted. The base was also an amazing addition giving the option for extra battle experience points, conversions, and shops all in one place. The base just makes planning in do much easier than it has in the past FE games. And for gameplay thatís where PoR shines, introducing all these little mechanics that make life easier.

Conclusion: Path of Radiance feels like a much grander Fire Emblem than I am used to playing, and it added a lot of new welcomed additions to the original Fire Emblem formula that I would love to see continue and improve on. While the battle animations are lifeless and the game is no longer ďpick up and playĒ; Path of Radiance still makes for a grand time and I would recommend any fan of strategy games to play it.

Game 45: Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen -date beat September 11



Impressions:

Iím always surprised about how much I love Dragon Quest games. I mean I have never liked RPG games when I was little, and growing up I have learned to tolerate them to the point where I can play them. However, Dragon Quest always seems to draw my attention like no other RPG can, it makes me like to grind, it makes me want to get equipment, advance the story, and any other thing that it will ask me to do. Iím sure fans of RPGs probably understand this fetish, but to me itís still new and awkward. I never really thought Iíd like a RPG series like this, and especially not something as JRPG as DQ. And after I beat Dragon Quest VIII I knew I had to continue my dragon quest high so I decided to begin the Zenthian saga, or Dragon Quest 4, 5, and 6 for those that donít know.

Starting out Dragon Quest IV I already knew I liked it more than VIII. I just have a thing for ported RPGs, but IV was also able to draw my attention by the chapter system it used to tell its tale. I love the chapter system, and itís one of the main reasons why I love Paper Mario so much. I feel that it provides a show of progress while still having a combined story with other smaller stories in it. Itís a bit artificial, I know, but it makes the game feel fast, and for RPGs thatís a need for me. The fact that these chapters are also like origin stories makes me feel all the more connected to the characters as well. Iím not really sure which chapter I like the most, but Tornekoís chapter was perhaps the most interesting. And thatís another thing I like about this game, the characters. Most RPGs fall on a lot of archetypes, but Dragon Quest IV just feels like itís different. I know some of the cast are typical archetype RPG characters, but the introduction of Torneko was really the one that kept me off guard. The majority of his chapter is just getting money, but the way it presents itself just makes it feel fresh, and I understand why he got a few spin-offs.

I really donít have a lot of bad things to say about DQ4 though. Sure, sometimes I would be at a loss of what to do, mainly the magic key bit, but there were enough clues that could have lead me to it eventually. Perhaps, why I never really felt lost in this game is because I never felt hindered to just explore the world, and thatís another thing I like about this game. While you are restricted through all the side stories, the main game is pretty much exploring the world and getting team members back and looking for legendary armor. It really brought back memories of Final Fantasy VI and was probably the inspiration FFVI had. The only few problems I have with this game is the soundtrack, and the fact that dark moments arenít emphasized enough. I know I donít like my RPGs to be fully serious all the time, but there are several points in the game where things get really dark, but the music just doesnít drive the point nor does some of the dialogue. It took me a while to soak in some of the events that were happening in DQ4 and its like ďdamn that was actually really dark and sadĒ, but the music and dialogue just donít drive it home. Itís a minor problem though, and easily over looked considering all the fun that is had throughout the game though. Also long final boss is long.

Conclusion: Dragon Quest IV knows how to push all the right buttons with me, and for that I found it to be one of my most enjoyed RPG ventures. While the story isnít always present, the exploration, and characters are, and for that DQ4 certainly deserves all the attention it gets.   read


12:08 PM on 11.13.2012

60 game year challenge: update 9, gotta believe in rhythm quest

Dtoid, its been a while. Ya, I know I don't write to you often, but you know what I'm doing very important gamer business, I think. Look, beating 60 games in a year is hard, and well I still got a lot to write about. Thankfully we are almost to the point where I am at for my challenge. So for now, please accept this offering of games 40, 41, and 42 of the now currently 55/60 games I have beaten this year.


PaRappa the Rapper 2 Ė Date beat August 18



Impressions:

I have beaten the first game and seen some of Unjammer Lammy (the spin off to parappa) and to watch and then play this game, I am disappointed. Not only are the songs not nearly as catch, quirky, or anything particularly capturing, but itís far too easy. I bought the game the day before, and I have just now beaten it the day after, took me less than 3 hrs, if not 4. The game just gives you far too many chances to pass the song, and while I didnít like how unforgiving the first was, making things easier isnít exactly better either. The answer is usually somewhere in the middle, and PaRappa didnít really hit anywhere near that. The story is ridiculous, corny, and even more childish compared to the first one. While the first one wasnít anything really serious, it was still about PaRappa going on a musical journey to better himself for the girl he loved; this one however, is about how he hates noodles and being called a baby.

This game just misses everything that the first gives with charm. I know that compared to games now, PaRappa was a horrible game, but the way it presented itself like it didnít care and it did its own thing gave it the kind charm you could love. PaRappa 2 just feels like here is another game featuring PaRappa because you guys missed him. Not to say that PaRappa 2 is all kinds of horrible though. There were some improvements, like how you can save a replay of your awesome rapping style. There are also a number of different difficultly levels, which may explain why itís so easy the first time. And there are more stages to play through too, 8 instead of the original 6. Still these are just too little improvements and there is just less heart in this game to say itís something worth getting.

Conclusion: PaRappa the Rapper 2 misses everything that made the original so great. It lacks the charm, originality, and awesome music the first had, and does little to nothing to improve on the formula to make it better than the first. Frankly, itís better if fans stand away from this game to keep it from soiling memories of the original PaRappa the Rapper.

Rhythm Heaven Fever Ė Date beat August 23



Impressions:

Rhythm Heaven Fever first caught my attention at a local gamestop where I would play it on occasion and try to beat some of the levels that were unlocked. I certainly wasnít the best at it, but the overall challenge and fun attitude of grading really got me into it. I did, however decide to pass it up because, while the game was fairly cheap, I was cheaper and didnít have that kind of money to spend on just any game I wanted. Course, a wonderful best buy sale came along, and I was able to snag this game for 5 dollars by price comparing it at Walmart, Twas awesome. Anyway, I made sure to play it as soon as I was able to, and boy was it hard starting out. I donít know what it is, but that golf mini-game took me so long to get the hang of, just something about the swing and rhythm didnít get along with me. After what seemed like 30 tries I was able to finally move on and play the rest of the game.

Once I was done fine tuning my rhythm I was able to blast through the majority of the game thanks to the ability to skip ones I just wasnít getting and practicing my heart out on ones I wanted to pass, mainly the remixes. The game is somewhat forgiving when it comes to passing the levels, but getting superb medals are brutal, not to mention perfects. I really do love how quirky this game can be, but sometimes it can be your worst enemy. The majority of feedbacks donít really help, and the fact that you think you are doing great only to find out it wasnít nearly up to par with what the game wanted from you makes things quite annoying sometimes. This is especially true for Remix 10, which I took a lot of time on just passing. Having to learn the motions it goes through, and thinking I was good at it only to find I needed to try again was disheartening. Still, for what this game is, it does what it says and delivers it with charm. RHF is all about the rhythm, and for such a simple amount of controls it has, it really does deliver a lot of action and thought to what simply comes down to pressing a button at the right time.

Conclusion: Rhythm Heaven Fever lures you into what appears to be a simple, quirky, and somewhat cutesy game. But in reality itís one of the most challenging games I have ever played, and one that requires a lot patience and devotion to master. Still RHF always manages to keep the mood light, and one can hardly stay mad at it for long, and really the cheery, upbeat attitude is what makes RHF what it is.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King Date Beat Ė August 25



Impressions:

I got Dragon Quest VIII due to how much I liked DQ9, and the fact I like to collect a lot of games. And when starting out, well, you can tell it isnít the exact same game has DQ9 lets on. At the least, everything looked and acted the same, but it certainly was more JRPG then I come to expected, but I knew it wasnít going to be exactly the same game as 9 was. Still, I had a lot of trouble playing it in the beginning. DQ8 just didnít get my attention like 9 did. In fact, I can say that I fell asleep playing it, as it was just that boring starting up. But once you get your third party member things really do pick up, and eventually it hooks you in to playing hours on end. That would be my major complaint for DQ8 as it takes too much time to get to the meat of it. DQ8 has so much to offer any given player, and while I understand that it doesnít want to ransack me with loads of information it still doesnít grab my attention as much as it should in the beginning.

Still, once you get to the heart of the game, it is quite light hearted, and filled with characters that you can relate to and actually feel for. While the voice acting may not always lend it to be the best it at least gets the job done. Characters are given a certain personality as well, something you can latch on to, and establish a relationship with. And when everything is said and done, you really will miss saying goodbye to these characters in the end. The story itself is also the same as the rest of the game, as you never quite know what is going on till you are actually wrapped in the story to the point where you want to keep seeing what happens next. And perhaps, thatís the main drive of DQ8, everything hits you without you really realizing it and in that regard, I think it makes it a good game. Aside from that though, many of the Dragon Quest tropes are all back in action, and stronger than ever. Youíll see, hear, and play the same game you have always been playing throughout the series. Good or bad, it really is nice to have a game that can be so in touch with its roots, but be completely different from past games, story wise.

Conclusion: Dragon Quest 8 starts off slow and steady. And while that may drive some players off, if you stick with it, DQ8 will win your heart with its endearing characters, and larger than life story. 8 still contains much of the same tropes of the Dragon Quest series it is a part of, but this proves to be much more of a good element to the series, then a tiring one.   read


11:43 AM on 10.18.2012

60 game year challenge update 8: Why did this take me so long?

Hello again Dtoid, I know its been a while. While I haven't been posting on here as nearly much as I should, I'm still giving it my all to beat 60 games in the matter of a year. While it certainly doesn't look like I'm close to reaching my goal here I am far more along my actual challenge, I just haven't written it up for ya. So without further stalling for time, I present games, 37,38, and 39.

Retro Game Challenge Ė Date beat July 23



Impressions:

Boy is this game a call back to the NES era. If anything this game is more like a simulator for the Ď80s than a game. Just the world Retro Game Challenge creates is impressive, and that alone is worth a look into this game and makes my nostalgia tingle. Thereís a memo system to write down codes that you get from in-game magazines, the magazines themselves feel like a literal blast from the past with news mock ups of delays and reviews. There is even gossip talk about released video games that you witness throughout the story. Just everything about this game makes me feel like itís the good old days of gaming where things were creative and whimsical. Where the internet wasnít around to damper your spirits about playing a game, and the only information you got was from magazines and kids that were lying. In other words, Retro Game Challenge lives up to the name retro.

RGC also gives the player 8 retro games to play from, and 6 of which that can be defined as completely different games. All the games feel fully fleshed out for the time of their supposed release, and could have very well been old classics companies never released till now. The sounds, graphics, and gameplay are just so similar to retro games of old that itís eerie sometimes. They also captured the harsh difficult of past games, along with plenty of cheat codes to make the game easier.

The first game available at the start is called Cosmo Gate, and itís a shooter that resembles the likes of Galaga. The game itself is pretty straight forward kill enemies, gain points. Itís not very noteworthy, but it certainly captures the past.

The 2nd and 5th games available are Robot Ninja Haggle Man 1&2 respectively. Both appear to resemble arcade games like Flicky, and are about killing enemies and finding the door to move on to the next stage, with the 2nd going further by adding a boss at the end of the game. While it certainly is more fleshed out than Cosmo Gate and Rally King / SP it feels more generic, and is probably the weakest game(s) in this ďretro collectionĒ.

Rally King, the 3rd RGC game, and its special edition: Rally King SP, the 6th RGC game, are the top down racing games of RGC and are similar to games like Pole Position. Itís a simple race to the finish and get first place, the only thing really noteworthy is that Rally King has drifting involved with its game mechanics, which is something I donít remember having in most top down racers. While Rally King itself is good, the fact RGC adds another game that is pretty much exactly like it, but harder certainly feels like a rip off to the player.

By far my favorite game though is Star Prince, the 4th game, as it feels like an awesome shmup that was lost in the early Ď90s. Itís a more fleshed out Cosmo Gate with a lot of cool power ups, backgrounds, and enemies, although the bosses are all pretty much the same. Star Prince honestly doesnít have much going for it, but it charmed me in its way to pretty much duplicate any given arcade shmup you saw in theater arcades in the early Ď90s.

The 7th game is actually a full blown RPG called Guardia Quest that requires constant grinding and actually has a decent story to it. Guardia Quest is actually pretty long too, about 10-15 hours give or take. The fact they were able to fit a whole RPG in RGC impressed me enough to say that Guardia Quest is probably the best in terms of quality, but my favorite in this collection still goes to Star Prince.

The last game RGC offers is Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3, a sequel to the rather generic Haggle Man series of this collection; however this time it comes back as what seems to be a Ninja Gaiden inspired sequel. The game focuses on tricky platforming and grinding for power ups so you can become more powerful to kill your enemies. The game itself is alright, but with the lack of creative bosses and the odd leveling up system, RNHM3 ends up being rather barebones when it could have been something much more.

Conclusion: Retro Game Challenge is a trip to the past in the most literal sense to gaming. Even if youíre not a fan of nostalgia, these games stand on their own merit, and deliver fun gameplay, while mimicking retro gaming to an eerie level. If youíre a fan of Retro Gaming this game is certainly a must.

Okamiden Ė date beat July 28



Impressions:

I love Okami just so very much. It gave me so much to go through within a game. The art style is amazing, the story is wonderful, the characters are awesome, the gameplay is nostalgic, inventive, clever, and basically Okami is just all kinds of awesome. Okamiden, however, is not so much like its predecessor. Itís heavily the same game as Okami is, but cuter and shorter. Chibitersu is adorable, and some of the newer characters are interesting, and for older characters it builds on them. But overall Okamiden feels a bit more like a side story within Okami, then an actual sequel to it.

I know Iím making Okamiden out to be a bad follow up, but really it is quite ambitious in its endeavors, and following up Okami is no easy task. At the least Okamiden brings a few new things in to the mix, and the partner system is a good edition. Also the ability to use the stylus throughout the game makes game play much smoother than Okami ever could make it. The story itself is pretty interesting as well, especially when it starts to interact with the first story, but it also dampers playthroughs of Okami if the player played Okamiden first. This game is also plagued with a lot of tedious puzzle solving that just makes you question the game. Like why do I have to press 3 different switches when the action could have been completed with one switch? But it still has good puzzles in it, just too many filler puzzles that outweigh the good.

Really though, Okamiden just never really captivated me enough to love it as much as I did with Okami, it just felt like it was simply building on what Okami did. I want to say Okamiden was a lazy game, but I donít think thatís what it is. It just doesnít offer enough to build itself as a sequel, but relies on Okami to succeed as a good game. And in that regard it works, and it works well. But as a standalone, Okamiden just doesnít offer much to those that havenít played the original.

Conclusion: I canít say Okamiden stands on its own, but when played after Okami, itís a game that wets the appetite of those that wanted more from Okami. While a lot of the game is stuck in Okamiís shadow, it still offers exactly what Okami offered, and really thatís enough to give it a play. Also chibitersu is cute, so whatís not to love.

Legend of Zelda - Date beat August 5th



Impressions:

Iím a bit ashamed to say that I never beat Legend of Zelda till today. Considering that I was a big fan of the series ever since one of my grade school friends introduced me with Linkís Awakening. But I canít say the first Zelda really pulled me in either, while I did miss out during the NES era, I was given a chance to play it during the gamecube era, thanks to the collectorís edition. Zelda provided to be too hard for me, and because I had no idea where to go I decided to give up and move on to other games. The fact that it was just so wide open, and gave you no direction of where to go was just off putting to me. But when I got Zelda via the ambassador program, I decided to just go for it, for the sake of this challenge and my gaming honor. With me playing Zelda on a portable handheld, the help of a ďsave stateĒ, and the internet, I was able to finally beat this game.

Usually Iím against using the internet for helping me game, or at the least, ashamed of it, but Legend of Zelda is just too open ended to not ask for or seek help. There is just so much to this game, and the NES is only able to store so much information to tell you where to go or what to do. I may be a bit of an old hat in gaming, but I had a lot of trouble finding some of these dungeons. I also had to use the ďsave statesĒ the 3DS gives you to beat this game. It still proved to be too hard for me not to. Just some of the enemies in this game, mainly wizarobes, give out so much damage for one attack that you are down like 10 hearts in a matter of seconds. And is it just me, or is the heart drop rate really small in dungeons? I swear I could kill 10 enemies, and get maybe 1 heart if Iím lucky. I really just donít understand how kids younger than me had an easier time with this game, maybe we were just tougher back then? Games nowadays tend to hold our hands quite often too, so I guess I just got soft. But either way Zelda certainly is Nintendo hard in my book.

I know Iím complaining a lot about it, like ďya, games back then were hardĒ, but in the end I did find Zelda to be quite an enjoyable game. In fact, I would say that it gets better with each play through. I mean despite my hang ups with my first playthrough I know I can go back to this game and play it differently than I did last time, and that excites me. I canít exactly say that about other Zeldas, no matter what, I still have to beat all the dungeons as a kid first before I become an adult in Ocarina of Time, canít exactly go to turtle rock right away in Link to the Past, nor can I get anywhere during the 2nd half without my horse in Majoraís Mask. I mean when was the last time you could say you beat the 3rd level before you beat the 1st? Sure Mega Man gives you that kind of option, in a way, but itís not inside a full blown world. This type of exploring is really fun, and needs to be a little more present in video games. I mean everyoneís first playthrough of Zelda may not be exactly the same as others. No one person gets the exact same experience. As well when you are actually done with this game you can change your routes, were you go, what you do, etc. You can effectively make speed runs in any way you want, make challenges like the no sword run. The actual end to Zelda is just your imagination on how to play it, and I think thatís what makes it such a great game.

Conclusion: Legend of Zelda is not for the light hearted, it can sometimes be unfair, frustrating, and confusing. But Legend of Zelda is a classic for a reason, and if you give the time of day to play it, it will give you something fun and unique to play over and over again   read


2:55 AM on 09.17.2012

60 Game Year Challenge Update 7: Adventure edition

I'm getting closer and closer Dtoid. While I still haven't fully caught up with my present self in writing these articles, I can say right now that I'm a little over the 3/4th mark on my 60 game year challenge. I just need to write my thoughts on the latest games I beat, and tell you about them Dtoid! For now here's some catch up commentary of games 34, 35, and 36 that I beat during this challenge

Professor Layton and the Unwounded Future Ė date beat July 8



Impressions:

Layton games have always been an odd form of addiction and torture. Sometimes I know the answer right away, and other times I have spent an hour just trying to figure out one puzzle. Despite this, Layton games always catch my attention when I play them, and I can beat them within a weekís time because of how addicting it can get. Unlike other games I get addicted to though; Layton games donít leave me with such a heavy impression, Unwounded Future however did. Unwounded Future is, for all purposes, about how Layton got his hat. I know that sounds really stupid at first, but when you played the game all the way through you should understand where Iím getting at. Pretty much all this game centers on is how and why Layton is the way he is. You really do feel for Layton in the end, and honestly the ending got me to smile in a bit of a bitter sweet moment. We want Layton to be happy, but that simply isnít possible. I think that ending, that moment, will stick with me the most. But as for the rest of Unwounded Future, well it certainly is filled with a lot of twists, and turns that I honestly doubt anyone, aside from Layton himself would be able to figure out.
Aside from the story, Unwounded Future gave the Layton series a few new key features and overall the game had a diverse amount of puzzles. Rarely, I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again, and that was something the previous two Layton games were suffering from heavily. The hint system is even more robust with super hints that can often just solve the puzzle for, and I will honestly admit I used it for quite a few puzzles. There was also a new feature in Unwounded Future that I would like to see more of in the rest of the series, and for the best way I can describe it, it was a battle of wits. This really gave Layton a lot more conflict, and climatic moments that really not present in the other two games. I mean Layton had some pretty awesome moments in the other two games, but when you see the pictrats appear, and then that calming music turns on it kinda ruins the mood, you know? The pacing just felt better in Unwounded Future because it felt like you were in on the action, instead of in calm music land solving puzzles while a movie plays for you afterward.
Despite all this though, I canít really say I liked Unwounded Future more than Diabolical Box though. There was just something about diabolical box that made it a bit more interesting, that it was a bit of a tighter package of mysteries together. Unwounded Future's only real flaw I see is that the plot itself is all over the place, I mean I beat it, but I still canít make much sense of it. I understand how everything took place, but I think Diabolical Box simply had better transitions compared to Unwounded Future. Still though, Unwounded Future is a close runner up as the ending alone gives it a lot of impact on the player. Honestly felt like crying at the end, but I couldnít help, but smile as I learned I truly cared what happen to Layton and Luke. At some point these two characters climbed into my heart.

Conclusion: Unwounded Future may not be my favorite Layton game, but I think Iíll remember it the most. The characters are just far more endearing this time around, and somehow I care about them so much more. Puzzles can still be hit and miss, but the pacing is far better this time around, and overall the ending really just makes this game so special.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors -date beat July 12



Impressions:

If there was anything that blurred video games, and how they fit into any kind of media, 999 would be the best example. I have to say playing through this ďgameĒ really made me confused for what makes a video game, a video game. The story started out rather dull, if only for the constant explanations, but as I learned more and more about each character I became compelled to keep playing this game. The characters just had so much depth to them that you get lost in their stories and explanations. Like how did they learn about this? Who is this person really? And why is this all happening to them? The story had a pretty awesome idea behind it too, that quite frankly Iím rather interested to see if any of what was mentioned in the story is actually real. And after a while I wanted to desperately get past the puzzles it gave me just to continue the story. Beyond this point the puzzles just werenít cutting it; the story was far too good and the puzzles were in the way. I was just so tied up in 999ís story to realize that what I was playing was actually a game. And I have to wonder, did I read 999? Experience it? Or played it? The only thing I truly know is that 999 had an amazing story and concept to it.
Whatever 999 is, it still has puzzles in it to break the story together, and give you some interaction with the game. The puzzles themselves were often clever, but rather frustrating to execute. It took me far longer to get these puzzles done then I hope to care for, and it tended to break tension with how long it took. If the puzzles actually took place in real time I would have been dead twice over just because of how long these puzzles can take to figure out. Knowing that, I still think an actual timer on the puzzles would make this game far more interesting and tense. At the very least the puzzles were challenging, but not so hard that I couldnít figure it out on my own. 999 also has multiple paths, but you really only need to play it twice to get the true ending, and luckily for me thatís exactly what I did. The first ending I actually got was amazing, tense, and confusing. It pumped me up so much that I just had to play 999 again to get the true ending. And although Iím still trying to make sense of the true ending in my head, 999 will stick with me with its great story and characters. Thankfully I wonít have to wait long for the much needed sequel.

Conclusion: 999 is one of the best things I have ever read, and as a game it certainly has put a hold on me that not many games can say they have. I like to think of 999 as more of an experience then a game, something that can be taken with you into real life, but perhaps that isnít all true. Either way anyone that plays this game will likely fall in love with it, its characters, and the ideas that it shows. I know I did.

Wild Guns Ė date beat July 21



Impressions:

While browsing through the interwebs I came across this little gem called Wild Guns. It was in a list of games that people probably havenít heard of and I certainly never have. Once I saw this game I knew I had to get it; so through a quick search on Amazon I saw the game was heavily priced. Down, but not out I decided to just watch some more gameplay of this game, and see exactly what I was missing. Then I stumbled on a review of Wild Guns that mentioned it was on the Wii Virtual Console, and me having an extra 800 wii points knew it was destined to be! I hooked up my Wii as soon as I could and started playing it. It amazed me so much, the music, the high risk gameplay everything about it just made me stand in awe. What turned out to simply a play test turned into something a little more, and before I knew it I wasted 2 hours just learning the ropes and passing two levels, and going on a third. I knew I wasnít going to be able to beat it then, so I decided to save it for another day.
Wild Guns was obliviously a game I loved the moment I started playing it, but really whatís not to love about it? There is literally a guy named Clint and a girl name Annie shooting at robots in the Wild West! The game itself seems to be based off true grit, but with a more parody, '90s video game take on the movie. Itís also really hard, like you get hit once and you die hard. Itís also somewhat short too, but donít let that discourage you; there is plenty to replay as I doubt anyone will get good at this game right away. Wild Guns is very high risk, high reward, the better you play the more likely you build meter for your super mode which makes you invincible and rack up more points. You also get power ups, and bombs to aid you as well. You can either plan cautiously and dodge enemy fire, or go the more offensive route, and counter attack them when they throw things like dynamite at you. There is a lot to learn and do in this game, but by all means this game is more than fair. While you have to go through a whole stage on one continue, you can go through the game with as many as it takes, but leaving you on the stage you were last at.
The only real bad thing about Wild Guns is the control scheme, while it certainly works and works well I might add, the game only uses the d-pad and three buttons. The SNES had three other buttons, but they do nothing at all, while one button, shoot, is needed for three separate things. Hold shoot to, shoot, tap constantly to use your lasso, and tab shoot and dodge to perform a side dodge. Why couldnít they button the lasso and side dodge as a separate button? Itís not like I donít like the layout, but it certainly is odd that they donít consider it an option. Aside from that, Wild Guns is amazing gem from the SNES era, and well worth the 800 wii points it will cost on the virtual console.

Conclusion: Wild Guns is certainly one of those gems of a game that you see every so often. Itís wonderful, executed well, has a great premise, and its only fault is not getting enough attention. The music alone is worth a look, but the game itself is an amazing high risk, high reward arcade shooter. Seriously get it if you can!   read


2:44 AM on 08.30.2012

60 Game Year Challenge Update 6: The quest for more views

lostleader here, and still as ambitious as ever to getting through my 60 year game challenge done! Finally making it to the end of June, but I still have the rest of the summer of games that I have beaten that need to get up here on Dtoid! Here are the games I beat for 31, 32, and 33 of my 60 game year challenge!

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia date beat June 19



Impressions:

Order of Eccelsia certainly is an oddity in the castlevania series, not that itís different ,but that it combines two different things to make something new all together. Itís like combining Simonís quest and Symphony of the Night, it has the challenging gameplay and exploration of SotN along with visiting different locations like Simon's Quest. I donít know how to exactly describe it ,but a lot of this game makes sure that skill wins overall. Sure there are RPG elements from the older metroidvania games, but if you can't beat the boss because you lack the skill, grinding to higher levels won't make it easier to beat the boss. There are also plenty of new areas to explore ,but a lot of the exploration is more like traveling to different locations then actually exploring them. In fact the vast amount of these areas are pretty straight forward and some of them donít even have a save point, which can be rather bothersome your first time playing through them and hoping for one. Thankfully enough the game designers werenít so cruel to leave you stranded ,and they give you a magic ticket that lets you travel back to a village you frequent so you can save and plan your strategy for the stage youíre at. That may seem like it makes the game too easy, but you will be needing those tickets throughout the game. This is mainly due to the game throwing too much at you at once, and gives you no save point in sight to make sure you are actual progressing through the game. Course this leads to a lot of backtracking throughout the same areas you been through so while it can be tedious, it never gets quite so tedious as Simon's Quest did.
Speaking of biting off more than you can chew, the bosses in this game are impossible to beat! Or at least it seems that way at first. The majority of OoE is just figuring out boss patterns, adjusting your play style to them ,and living long enough to beat them. And frankly I love that about OoE. Sure I didn't like it at first, but I kept pressing forward and when I finally beat that boss I've been struggling with it, it gives me a certain sense of accomplishment that is rather rare in games these ages.I remember screaming phrases like "oh ya I beat you, but you didn't think I could do it, did you?" or like " hell yeah I won!" Just bursting out with joy when you beat a boss, not the game, a boss? Ya I haven't had that feeling in a while. Course OoE isn't all about beating bosses as it does have a story to it, and while
the story itself can be heartwarming at times itís just not really there. In all honest the game really only focuses on one character throughout the game, and unfortunately itís not the main one. It would be nice if they actually treated Shanoa as an actual character rather than a tool throughout the game that the player uses but itís just not the case.In the end I truly do like Order of Ecclesia, it just gives you that ďI did itĒ moment and frankly that is rather rare nowadays.As well it even borrows a page from SotN ,and pretty much has a second game to unlock after you "beat it". Still though, I really would have liked Shanoa to have explored better, but I suppose that was just asking too much.

Conclusion:
Order of Ecclesia brings back old Castlevania toughness with some metroidvania style gameplay. While it can be tough grinding now and again, a lot of this games fun comes from overcoming what you thought was impossible at first, and thatís something every game should try to offer!

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon -date beat June 21



Impressions:

After playing Order of Ecclesia I have to say this is quite a disappointing bunch of bosses. I know it's rather harsh to judge past games because of what the newer ones had, but in truth the old castlevania games also had some of the best bosses. But CotM? Save for a Dracula that can pretty much K.O. you in one go, these bosses are really easy. Throughout most of the game I was a bit under leveled yet I had no problem taking any of them down, in fact the toughest time I had with this game is just walking to the next location to progress.There are just many reasons why these bosses just don't work, and for one there actually aren't a lot of bosses compared to other castlevania games. The majority of the game is just traveling around, and finding equipment to get better at moving around the castle instead of fighting a bunch of bosses. Second, the bosses are just honestly kind of dumb, playing a majority of castlevania games throughout this challenge, I have to say these are pretty weak bosses and references compared to the rest of the series. A lot of the other castlevania games have a lot of references to mythological creatures, but this one just kinda dropped the ball. The difficulty was a big problem too, all the bosses patterns are rather easy to get down, and the "boomerang" weapon easily breaks this games difficulty. I seriously killed death on my first try simply because I spammed boomerangs, it really gets to the point that no other weapon should be used. It is not so much an issue of a broken weapon, I love those in single player games, but the fact it just distracts so much attention to actual strategy in a castlevania game is sad. One of the bigger parts of Castlevania is fighting "monsters and demons" from different myths and having a difficult time till you finally nail a pattern down and beat them. This castlevania however was all about boomerang spam.
Aside from boss fights though I do like this game a bit, and I have to say its one of the better GBA castlevania games.The story is sub par, really isn't there the majority of the time, but the music is a nice call back to the old school games. I like the fact you can use a whip, but this is probably due to using a lot of different weapons in the games I have been playing before it, either way it makes a nice design choice as a lot of the game really does make use for the whip itself. I also really like the fact this game plays a bit more like metroid then it does castlevania compared to the other ones. See in castlevania its simple grind and exploration, but with metroid your always looking for something to further your progress. CotM however works more like metroid making its main focus on exploration and movement, compared to bosses and grinding, which I suppose is the trade up for what was mentioned earlier. Nonetheless I have to say I enjoyed this game quite a bit, especially considering I played through it within a matter of two days. While the game is indeed short, especially for those a little more skilled, CotM does have a nice niche of replay value as you can play through the game again focusing on different aspects of the games mechanics. If your more into spells you can be a magician instead, or if you want to focus on strength then you can do that. Its an interest bonus for sure, and frankly should be added to more castlevania games. But for now I think Castlevania is better off following the lead of Order of Ecclesia then Circle of the Moon.

Conclusion: What it lacks in creative and challenging bosses, Circle of the Moon makes up for pure exploration, nostalgic music, and interesting ways to replay the game. While I can't recommend this over most of the Castlevania games I played, it still as the addictiveness of any castlevania game, and that should be a good enough sale for anyone.

Pokemon Conquest date beat Ė June 27



Impressions:

When I first saw Pokemon Conquest I realized it was the type of game that was ďjust so crazy that it might workĒ. And wouldnít you know that phrase matches this game perfectly. I never would have guessed I like playing a game with as much micro managing as conquest gives you. Literally the whole main game is a tutorial to teach you the basics of what you are going to do post game. This kinda makes post game a big downer in the way just like cakes feel like lies. I just grew so attached to my units, and having to start over from scratch really doesnít feel worth it, but overtime with two post game episodes under my belt I have to say it could be worse. Sure I may have lost all linking percentages, and everything may feel like a lie, but it is for the greater good. If I had all my broken units there be no challenge in the game, and post game certainly offers so much more then what the main game lets on. See in the main game the AI is terribad, nearly never responding to empty castles or putting up a great fight. In post game everything changes, enemies are more aggressive and strategy is a lot more involved. As well I barely scratched the surface of post game, with nearly 4 pages full of side missions and already 25 hours under my belt you beat this would take a large amount of time to complete all the episodes.
As for the main game itself, itís a little disappointing that it ends up being one big tutorial, but it does give you the opportunity to do what you want and leave you room for grinding. That can help in post game if you plan things correctly, but only if you actually plan it. Really wish a lot more strategy games did make you play through a main story like Conquest did though, as its an easier way to not baby a player, and actually adds to the game more than it hinders it. In a way itís like Lynís story in FE7, it pretty much is its own game, but sets up for the bigger adventure, without just throwing you in the deep end. The story itself is also a little bit interesting as it provides for a nice little history on Nobunga, but blends ruthless dictatorship with cutesy pokemon sprites so it ends up being a lot more light-hearted than what history would like you to believe. But that's probably why Conquest is so interesting, blending two things that shouldn't match make for an interesting recipe, it could end up horrible like Street Fighter in 3D or wonderful like Kingdom Hearts.Conquest's gameplay is also quite addictive, just finding each units best link or as I like to call it, OTP (one true pairing), and managing units to go to certain castles really burns a lot of your time and you find yourself picking it up for 10 minutes only to find a hour has gone by. And really that's something that doesn't happen to me often, but Conquest is just one of those games that gets you wrapped up in itself.

Conclusion: Pokemon Conquest works so well that it wraps you into things that may seem tedious at first, but makes them come out as fun in the end.With tons of episodes for post game, getting the best out of resources, fighting and defending from enemies, and making sure you make your army the best they can be, conquest gives you so much to handle that you will never be truly bored of it. Conquest is also the best spin-off Pokemon has had since Pokemon Snap, and while itís a bit of a shame it took so long, it is well worth looking into for any Pokemon fan or tactic RPGer.   read


3:56 AM on 08.20.2012

60 Game Year Challenge Update 5! We're half way there!

Howdy Ya'll. I've been awfully busy doing nothing and updating my backloggery. Ya, decided to finally updated it, although I got it a long time ago, I never updated it. So without further Apu, My backloggery: http://www.backloggery.com/lostleader . Also ya finally posting the midway point of my 60 game year challenge! I assure you though, I have gotten much further and continue to strive to complete this challenge! Also will try to update this little blog a little better, but I'm sure we all heard that one, ya?


Ďsplosion Man Ė Date Beat May 13



Impression:

Ďsplosion Man was simply a game I heard about amongst forums, and honestly didnít pay much mind to it. That was till a faithful holiday season when it was on sale for 150 MS points. I mean, itís a game worthy of praise being sold for pretty much a candy bar, hell ya Iíll try it! And well I didnít like. Well that is to say when I played through it, I didnít like. I mean it seems from the 1st set of levels that its pretty much just Ďsplode and venture through some random labs. Certainly not something that gave me much to look forward to or care about. So I decided to just drop it, and move on with other games and pay no mind to it. Then during this 60 year game challenge I picked it back up, and learned to love Ďsplosion Man.
Iíll admit, it took me some time, playing this game time after time and barely just reaching the midway point in the game, and it clicked! The game is tough as nails but its forgiving, challenging but fun. However there was so much more to just the Ďsploding. Really what first turns out to be a simple mechanic turns out to be a wonderful device for some very clever platforming. I canít imagine another point in time in my life that I had this much trouble with a game, let alone a platformer. It wasnít really that it was annoying me, or it felt unfair, but rather it was just, in general, challenging. Like I was back to the old school days of games and all the charm was packed in a newer coat. Really there is so much quirkiness to this game and charm that it just ends up growing on you. It really captures a spirit and some of the music is just really, really catchy! I have to say by the end, I love Ďsplosion for what it is, quirky over the top platforming goodness. And frankly I wouldnít want it any other way.

Conclusion: Ďsplosion Man captures the spirit of old school platformers by both being hard and incredibly quirky. Luckily its far more forgiving compared to its older cousins, but sometimes it does feel rather trying and the fact it doesnít really explore any other environment, save for a lab, is rather disappointing. But mostly Iíll remember the laughs.


PixelJunk Shooter Ėdate beat May 18



Impressions:

Having a few extra bucks from buying Skull Girls on the PSN I occasionally look to see the daily deals and when I saw the PixelJunk games for a dollar I was shocked and interested. So, of course, I bought them all, and for a mere 3 dollars no less! 4 new games, all from the PixelJunk series, a series I didnít really know about but I was interested in. After playing them for about 20 minutes each, I came to realize I wasnít exactly ecstatic about my purchase, maybe I needed to play them more? Maybe I just donít get it, but then I finally played PixelJunk Shooter! This is the PixelJunk game that clearly stands out as the best. The story is interesting, the gameplay is fun, and the puzzles are inventive. Just everything about it just stands out to you and says play me! The music will also get you in a bit of a bouncy mood, which is nice compared to the other ones, which currently seem absent in my mind.
There isnít much too really complain about with PixelJunk Shooter, aside from nitpicking, but it does have problems like every game does. For one thing, the game doesnít really punish you, itís pretty much a walk in the park compared to the rest of the PixelJunk series, and itís not a hard series to begin with. You can literally kill the people you are trying to save and still move on, and even if you donít save enough you simply restart from the same screen you were at. There doesnít seem to be a real game over screen either because you can just keep dying and it doesnít matter, you respawn at the same point and try to solve it. This really takes down the challenge a lot in this game, and to have some sort of punishment may have made this game last longer artificially and given it more of a sense of accomplishment, but perhaps that isnít exactly better for some. As well the game is rather short, it honestly didnít take me that long just saving the survivors at all, and getting most of the treasure only held me back for another hour or two. But really itís a great game, and any complaints I have donít really matter much to me, I had lots of fun, and I think everyone that plays this game will too. It's a simple game that uses the elements to solve puzzles, simple concept, but effectively making it an good game.

Conclusion: PixelJunk Shooter is certainly the one PixelJunk game you want to play if you only play one of PixelJunk games. With an easy difficulty, a lot of fun, and inventive puzzles this game will make anyone have a good time, and especially make them bounce to the music.


Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin -date beat June 12



Impressions:

Portrait of Ruin continues what SOTN, and Dawn of Sorrow left off, Classic 2-d Metroidvania goodness. There is a new cast of characters to play as like Charlotte, and Jonathan as well as a few that are unlocked once you beat the story, like the sisters and Richter from bloodlines. But all in all itís pretty much just another Metroidvania game. Other than the fact there is additional character with you at all times and there is some team work it's just more of the same. Teamwork stuff and power moves affect the game so little that it really isnít as noticeable as you would think. In fact most of the time I left my partner on the side lines because it was far more useful to have them come in for a power attack rather than have them drain my meter to perform special attacks. Overall I donít understand why they tried to make this mechanic and just instead developed the characters more then what they did. Both characters seemed interesting at first, but they just donít interact throughout the story like you think they will, no real bonding points or cutscenes really make it clear. Other characters in the story have this problem too, but the main characters where really lacking in development and its sad because they did have the potential to be interesting.
I also have to wonder why Dracula was really involved with this game, the story didnít really call for it and frankly I would have loved to see Charlotte and Jonathan just travel the world rather than thru portraits. Its fun going to places other than Draculaís castle for once, and PoR really did bring that part out. However all these segments do end up suffering in lack of detail or exploration and in turn make Draculaís castle the same. There doesnít seem to be much detail in either sections and thatís because they are trying too hard to deliver two things at once to players when really they should have focused on one or the other. I didnít feel like I was exploring Draculaís castle once again, but rather just jumping from point A in the overworld, and finding point B in it only to do the same thing I did in A, but in a different location. Also save points were often scattered far too much and that tended to make the game annoying when exploring newer areas. But not everything is all bad, once you beat the game youíre reward with tons of new stuff to play with, like a sisters mode, cap levels, hard mode, boss challenge, and a bunch of other cool stuff. It can at least be said that Portrait of Ruin does deliver content and for that I admire it. I canít say Portrait of Ruin is my favorite Castlevania game, but itís far from the worse.

Conclusion:
Portrait of Ruin really could have been better if we didnít actually return to Draculaís castle. However that is not the case, and while itís not a bad game, a lot of potential was missed. Still Portrait of Ruin offers a lot to players and I think if youíre even remotely interested in Castlevania you will have fun with this game.   read


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