Category Archives: First Impressions

Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei – First Impressions

Outside of Japan, the Megaten series is called the Shin Megami Tensei series, as the series came out after everything started being called Shin Megami Tensei. I checked out the original SMT game, a game few have played, but I decided to delve even deeper and go with the original game, Megami Tensei, a game even less have played.

Knowing this was an NES game, I knew I was going to have to deal with outdated mechanics. I personally have no problem with playing NES RPG’s, hell I even played the original incarnation of Dragon Quest. Despite my experience with NES RPG’s, Megami Tensei was kind of a different beast. I’ve almost entirely played the top-down NES RPG’s, a game that’s entirely in first person was completely new to me on the console. It kind of reminded me of the dungeons from the original Phantasy Star. Though this game does give me some of the similar frustrations to that game.

The 16-Bit or later first person games either give you an auto-map on the bottom of the screen or even have a map menu. Also the navigation was a lot less confusing. Any post-16-Bit RPG also makes it much easier to navigate, as it’s a lot easier to navigate in a 3D rendered environment in first person. 8-bit, not so much. Due to the graphical limitations, everything tends to look the same.

Due to this, I was happy to hear that Megami Tensei had a remake on the SNES, which was almost like a godsend when it came to navigation. I honestly tried the NES version, but I got so lost in that beginning town it was a nightmare for me. Now to the actual gameplay…

Megami Tensei is a first person dungeon crawler reminiscent of Shining in the Darkness, despite coming out first. There’s essentially a hub town, and you navigate through a sprawling dungeon. This wasn’t much of a drastic change from later SMT games, as healing and saving points are usually spread significantly thing. The typical frustration with the difficulty is typical from SMT games.

A welcome feature they added to the remake that was absent in the original is how you get fully healed when you level up. This is really nice when you’re really close to a boss, but your MP is basically zero. If you’re pretty close to leveling up, you can just grind for a tad bit, and now you’re fully prepared to take on that boss.

I’m looking forward to playing more of this game, a dungeon crawler is a change of pace from what I’m used to. Though this is one of those games where you have to legitimately sit down and play, and not just pick up and play for a couple of mins because of how spread out the sections of the game are.

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Time and Eternity – First Impressions

I heard horror stories about this game, and I had the chance to get ahold of this game. The only reason why I bothered picking it up was that the store was having a buy two get one free sale. Before I even heard the horror stories with how the game was, I knew I was going to have mixed opinions on the actual game due to the fact that it was released by NIS.

NIS tends to release really quirky games, quirky gameplay, and quirky stories, and this one is no exception. From the onset, you find out your main protagonist is this lecherous pervert and is thinking about how he wants to bang his fiancee’s friends. Then later he sees a guy kissing this girl’s cheek, and he’s freaking out that this guy got farther than the protagonist ever had. It’s really weird that they’ve been dating, and he’s never kissed this girl on the cheek. There’s also some really cartoony dialog in the game, sure I’m not expecting something serious, but some of the conversation and comments in the game are really over the top and cartoony.

Then there’s the actual gameplay. Navigation is really awkward. You move around in a 3D-ish environment, but then the camera is inches away from the character’s back, who’s a 2D sprite. It just looks really weird. Then there’s the battle system where it’s in real time and you can dodge attacks from enemies. The problem with the dodging, is that the timing is really awkward. If you dodge right when the attack is close to hit you, you didn’t dodge it, and you get hit. You essentially have to time before the attack actually happens or you’ll receive a ton of damage.

I might play more of this game, but honestly there isn’t much to enjoy in the first few hours of the game.

First Impressions – Shin Megami Tensei

Megami Tensei, a franchise that had a troubled start in the US, and slowly started getting more mainstream recognition during the PS2 days. That was when the franchise started appearing in the West. In Japan, it started way back on the NES with Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei (first impression on that game will come out later). The series basically pulled a Metal Gear Solid by changing the franchise name by going with Shin Megami Tensei ever since. Seeing how I enjoyed the later games in the franchise, I decided to start with the first SMT game on the SNES.

Comparing Nocturne and SMT4 to the first SMT, one of the biggest differences is that it’s entirely first person. This can make navigation a bit confusing in the dungeons, so you either have to keep pulling up the map menu, or casting the mappara spell. You could do what others did back in the day, get graph paper. If you played either the first Persona game, SMT Strange Journey, or Soul Hackers, this won’t be unusual for you, albeit with better interfaces.

The difficulty of this game is definitely higher than the newer games. One of the reasons is because you have to have magnetite to keep your demon allies alive, and walking around drains magnetite. I’m honestly not sure why this mechanic exists, but it does get annoying when you start running out of it. Having more demons in your party drains your magnetite faster, it’s almost like its a punishment for having a party. You also lose it faster when you’re trying to recruit demons, because the majority of them constantly ask for magnetite. It essentially doubles your time grinding. You earn magnetite at the end of battles, along with your typical EXP and money. Though in some areas, you earn very little to no magnetite. I was in one area where I grinded for 30 mins straight and only earned 25 magnetite. It was ridiculous.

The press turn system the franchise is known for isn’t in this game, but what this game goes overboard with, is the status effects. It’s almost like a 90% chance of being inflicted with most of these effects, paralyze being the most annoying as it’s the most frequently used. If your party gets hit with mazio, you’d be lucky if only one party member doesn’t get paralyzed. This becomes incredibly frustration at one part of the game. Here, you get teleported to a new area, and your party gets spread out in the dungeon. Your job is to find them. This part was ridiculous. While partially it was due to me being underleveled, but I was constantly getting in the encounter with a party of demons that cast Zio. With the obnoxiously high rate of being inflicted, I got paralyzed every single time, and they continuously wailed on me until I died.

The original SMT is really good so far, but this game is definitely not one to recommend to anyone who’s only casually into RPG’s.

Tales of Vesperia – First Impressions

Tales of Vesperia is a bit of an anomaly. It’s similar to Tales of Symphonia where it’s one of the better-known games in the franchise and is considered one of the best the franchise has to offer. It’s entirely possible that a big deal of the hype surrounding the game is just like Symphonia where most of its praise and hype were due to it being exclusive for a console that’s somewhat void of JRPG’s (outside of Japan). Due to this, the game sticks out like a sore thumb unlike, say an RPG on a Sony console, like the vast majority of the franchise. This is largely speculation, as I’m not far enough in the game to cast a real judgment if its worthy of its praise amongst the rest of the franchise. Onto the game itself.

I’ll start off with the biggest criticism I have with the game itself, it’s still at a fixed camera angle. It’s definitely weird that JRPG’s are one of the last genres to really become fully three-dimensional. It is a genre that’s fairly slow to break away from tradition, as it took awhile to really break away from random encounters, and being stuck in a fixed camera angle is also probably a style that the genre got stuck in. It made sense that the genre got stuck in the style because of the limitations of the PS1, and early knowledge of how to program for the PS2 (Final Fantasy was guilty of this with X and X-2). Though seeing that other big name RPG titles on the PS2 got full 3D games, it took Tales until Xillia, a later PS3 title, to transition to 3D. You would think that developing a game on a more powerful console would allow you to create a JRPG in full 3D, and Blue Dragon (a game that came out 2 years earlier) was able to be a 3D game. It doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the game, but it’s weird that RPG’s on the seventh gen consoles took awhile to be fully 3D.

The game feels very similar to Tales of the Abyss, which isn’t a surprise, as it’s the game that came directly before it. The Tales Team probably felt it was safe to just take the engine and make it with better graphics. So if you’ve played Abyss, you’ll feel at home with Vesperia. Overall battling feels like your typical Tales venture, not much to really comment on here. The only weird thing is how attacking feels weird. The A button is used to confirm menus and such, but it’s the block button, and the B button, used to cancel menus, is the attack button. It’s possible that the buttons fit how it is in Japan, as those button placements match how PlayStation games are in Japan, and Nintendo games in general, and they forgot to program the battles to fit with the North American placement of buttons. The only other game in the franchise I’ve played to this point that has this reversed button placement for battles and menus would be Zesteria.

So far the characters are pretty fun and entertaining. Yuri is a fun protagonist to play as, especially with his IDGAF attitude towards things. Estelle is an entertaining foil for Yuri’s personality, as she’s a prim and proper princess type character, and her overall ignorance of the outside world is cute and fun. Then there’s Rita, who’s the quirkier out of the initial main party members, and her quick to set people on fire is great. Repede is a badass dog, what more needs to be said? Karol is the only character who’s kind of a letdown, but we’ll see how he progresses as a character.

So far Vesperia is a pretty fun romp, and definitely a great game to pick up on the RPG starved Xbox 360.

Digimon World 3 – First Impressions

Digimon World 3 was a game I haven’t played in years. Deciding to dig up some nostalgia of my childhood, I decided to procure a copy. While this isn’t inherently a first impression, it does feel a bit like one after not touching the game for over 15 years.

In essence, this game feels a lot like a Pokemon game in concept. You are given a team of monsters, and your job is to be the best tamer in the Digital World by defeating all of the gym leaders. Sound familiar huh? As unoriginal as it sounds, it’s a fairly underrated game. While this isn’t, say Final Fantasy IX levels of awesomeness, this one is definitely not an insult to play. The game sticks to a standard tried-and-true battle system, which is turn based. You have to really try to mess up a turn based battle system. Though instead of battling with your full party, like most other RPG’s, Digimon World 3 decides to go down the Pokemon route by having your mon’s fight one on one, and tagging them out when they die.

The two biggest gripes I have with the game are: backtracking, and grinding. They tend to go hand-in-hand as they make you walk back and forth between several areas throughout the game, with no fast travel. In the initial part of the game, this isn’t so bad, as you just destroy any enemy that comes your way. You steamroll the gym leader, and then you reach the second area. Uh oh, all the enemies are MUCH stronger here. No longer are you one-shotting enemies.

I found it really unnecessary¬†that when you reach the area with the second gym, they make you walk ALL the way back to the beginning town, and then trek all the way back again to the second gym. This feels like they’re dragging out the game to make it feel longer than possible.

The only positive out of grinding is finding out what Digimon you can get from which level combination. Your rookie Digimon level up very slowly as that’s their base stage. Their digivolved forms level up significantly faster. This way, it doesn’t take significantly long to have multiple forms for your team.

Digimon World 3 is a pretty fun game. While definitely not groundbreaking or original, it’s still a fun game for those who love very basic JRPG’s, and find fun with what Digimon they can customize for their party.

Dragon Quest VIII 3DS – First Impressions

Previously I’ve talked about the mobile version of Dragon Quest VIII, while visually more impressive than the original game on the Playstation 2, the touchscreen nature of a 3D game was kind of awkward. On top of that, it seemed like the text in the battle sequence was squashed together to fit the aspect ratio of the phone screen. Now we have a “true” handheld port of this game on the 3DS.

For those who were salty over the lack of voice acting missing in the mobile version, the voices are back in this version. My only confusion is that they couldn’t get Jessica’s actress back, though maybe the actress from Dragon Quest Heroes is the new canon actress. It’s sort of like how the voice for Chie Satonaka in Persona 4 got replaced, and they’re sticking to it.

Another missing feature, is the beautiful orchestral music. This is probably due to the space limitations of the cartridge format, and also the original Japanese game never had it. While definitely not a deal breaker, it would be a nice feature, but we’re happy that Square actually wanted to release a Dragon Quest game in the US based on the delayed release of both DQ7 and 8.

As for the actual gameplay, it plays very comfortably on the 3DS. The game does play better on a New 3DS, as the second stick makes camera control a lot more at home. Using the trigger buttons are fine when you just rotate the camera left and right, but using the D Pad for camera control is pretty awkward.

They did take something from the mobile port. They took the exclamation points for interactive items. While not a necessity, it’s probably there to easily identify for new players what you can and can’t interact with. While a neat feature, veterans probably won’t pay it any mind.

One of the biggest features in this port, is something Enix has been using in the series since DQ9, is that random encounters are replaced with enemies generated on the field. While the original game didn’t have¬†a crazy rate of random encounters, like say Final Fantasy 2’s PS1 version, or Digital Devil Saga, it does encourage exploration more when you don’t feel bogged down with random encounters. It definitely isn’t an unwelcome modern addition to this game.

Another change taken from DQ9, is with the alchemy pot. Instead of having to walk for a certain number of steps, waiting for your concoction to be done, it not instantly creates your items. A feature that I highly doubt much of anyone is going to complain that’s missing.

One new feature unique to the 3DS version, is that they added in a feature where you can take pictures. Probably added in for the Street Pass feature of the 3DS, it adds a social aspect to the game. Also with this, a guy named Cameron Obscura (real clever Enix), asks the player to embark on a series of picture related missions. You earn stamps, like when you partake in quests in Ni no Kuni, and you might earn some items from it. Not sure really, as I haven’t gained enough stamps, or care about the feature much.

Dragon Quest VIII on 3DS is definitely a great port on a portable device, and you’ll definitely enjoy it for fans new and old alike.

Sword Art Online: Re Hollow Fragment – First Impressions

I know that this is my third post on Hollow Fragment, but strolling around on PSN, I saw the Bamco anime game sales. I saw that this game was on sale for $5, so I figured why not. I beat the original game, so why not dick around in the remaster?

To be honest, I’m not completely sure why this remaster exists. Is it because they were going to make more money with a PS4 version, because the Vita has fairly lackluster sales? Is this game really popular enough to remaster a remake of a PSP game? If it really was that popular, why is it still only available as a digital download? Hell I might have actually paid $20 for a physical copy. They really should have released this alongside the Vita game, like the other two games, and have it cross compatible.

I was initially content with how the game looked on my Vita screen, and it still looked fairly well on the PSTV (or is it the Vita TV?). Not dogging on how it looks on the PS4, I expected it to look better. Though if you owned the original, don’t get your hopes up that much, as it’s really just a much higher resolution version of the Vita game. I will give Bamco credit for having the decency to not have the lower-resolution Vita cutscenes just upscaled to 1080P, like other remasters have.

The game plays pretty much exactly the same, just ditching touch screen features. Though the game does play at a higher framerate, so grinding affection at dating spots doesn’t feel quite as long. If you own the Vita game, you can transfer your save, and play it as a new game plus. It’s sadly not cross compatible like Lost Song, or Hollow Realization.

The game is supposed to be a director’s cut of sorts, I just haven’t researched into what extra stuff was added. In all honesty, if you own the Vita version, you’re not missing out much. It just feels like a game that should have came out a lot earlier, instead of later. If you didn’t, check it out if you want a lengthy JRPG to spend time on.