Category Archives: First Impressions

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.

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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.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization – First Impressions

Bamco has released the third (well technically fifth) game in the popular anime franchise, Sword Art Online, and this time they decided to go back to the style of Aincrad. While these games have been mixed on a critical level, it must be selling fairly well if Bamco is cranking out a third game, with one of them having been remade, and getting a remastered port, because apparently people want to re-visit Aincrad over and over.

Anywho, this game takes place after Lost Song, and we are graced with the game called Sword Art Origin. A world based off of Aincrad (now called Ainground), and the mythology is that it’s the origin (shocking!) of the world of Sword Art Online. Unlike the previous games, this world is entirely non-canonical with the original franchise (I’m basing this on the fact that I haven’t read the light novels).

The developers seemed to have mixed what people liked from the previous two games, and they decided to mix the two together. The combat plays a lot like Lost Song, but the overall way the game plays is very reminiscent of Hollow Fragment. For those who were sad that the dating mechanic was missing in Lost Song, it’s back in full swing in Hollow Realization.

This time maxing out your favorite girl’s affection is a lot more time consuming. I will give them some credit, that with one of the updates, they sped it up significantly. You get to run around town with your favorite girl, and like Hollow Fragment, you take them to special “date spots”, indicated with a heart. Then you can chat them up, and you can either nod or shake your head depending on their questions.

This is actually pretty time consuming if you’re just trying to grind affection (which doesn’t seem to add anything to gameplay, besides trophies and bragging rights). Before the update, maxing out the level 5 affection was obnoxiously long. I grinded the affection for about two hours straight, and I barely saw any progress. Now you can grind a girl’s affection to max in about 45 minutes. Still pretty long, but beats sitting for several hours to max out one level. Don’t worry perverts, you can still bring a girl to bed and sleep with her, I mean “pillow talk” with her. Wow, my head went to the gutter there, because a girl spewing hearts of affection, and wearing sexually suggestive clothing, is going to just share a bed with a guy and not have sex. Hopefully Kirito can’t get virtual HIV from Yuuki. Sorry for the dark joke guys, won’t happen again.

So far the story here is actually kind of interesting. You meet an NPC named Premiere (minor spoiler), and her position in the game is very confusing. She comes off like a defunct NPC, but as the game progresses, you slowly discover her purpose. Also there’s something about NPC’s becoming more humanlike, kind of like Yui and Strea, but for the entire game. Also when they die, they die forever. Hopefully this is actually explored in a good way, because Seven’s experiment in Lost Song was incredibly lackluster.

So far I’m enjoying the game, the goofy cutscenes aren’t as frequent as Hollow Fragment, and so far aren’t as ridiculous. It’s also nice seeing Argo getting a bit more spotlight, as she’s very humorous, and is the only girl (besides Yui for obvious reasons), that isn’t trying to get into Kirito’s pants. Though SAO fans, don’t worry, your hero Kirito is still dimwitted when it comes to girls.

Dragon Quest VII Remake – First Impressions

About a year ago, I reviewed the original Dragon Quest VII, and is a game I quite enjoy. It’s a game that’s infamous for its length, though apparently a game very few people have actually seen the end of. It’s a game that’s fairly difficult for keeping people’s attention to the very end. The game also takes a really long time for you to level up, while it does artificially inflate the time, it’s still a really long game regardless.

15 years later, I finally get my hands on what I hope is the definitive version of the game. The graphics in the original were a bit dated for being a late release on the original Playstation. The remake looks very good. It’s nice seeing the characters moving their mouths when they’re talking, including the NPC’s. While the music isn’t orchestrated, the midi soundtrack sounds pretty good so far.

What might be a drawback for those who loved the inaccessible aspects of the original games, would be how aspects of the game feel a bit streamlined and toned down. A lot of the beginning was cut out to get you to the action a lot faster. In the original game, it was a good two hours or more to go through the beginning dungeon, and you finally get to your first battle. In the remake, I was 90 mins in, and already on level 5. What this also means, is that leveling up doesn’t seem to take as long, well so far at least.

The beginning of the original game did do a good job at making you curious at the mystery in that shrine, it does seem odd to have a scavenger hunt to get you to the dungeon, and an even longer time going through a lengthy dungeon with lots of puzzle solving. Most RPG’s try to get you to the action in the beginning to introduce you to the battle system, which is what you’ll be dealing with a majority of the time. The original game? Nah wait 3 hours.

One aspect of the remake that I feel makes things less annoying, is the tracker for the shards. In the game, you collect shards to unlock pedestals to access further places in the game. The original game had you search every nook and cranny in the hopes to find them. The remake makes that a lot easier, there’s an indicator that flashes one is nearby. I’m sure somebody out there enjoyed that the original game had you search high and low for them, but honestly, it makes it annoying to backtrack in the hopes of finding a shard. This is one of those cases where making it easier is a lot helpful.

The remake of the game so far is very promising, and honestly, I’m not sure how they could really mess it up. ArtePiazza’s remakes of other Dragon Quest games are very faithful and very good remakes, so there shouldn’t be any way they could ruin this remake.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – First Impressions

Tokyo Mirage Sessions, a mashup between the Shin Megami Tensei series and the Fire Emblem series. While I have never played a Fire Emblem game, I was quite interested to see how it would turn out. Developer Atlus, or even the Shin Megami Tensei series itself isn’t a newcomer to Tactical RPG’s with the Devil Survivor series, it made me expect that the mashup would be a Tactical RPG. Well with the results in my hand, clearly my assumptions were wrong.

Normally mashups give me a bad image. The mashups I have an experience with, are with characters from two series thrown together with a shit happened bullshit backstory, that took 30 seconds to explain, and the audience is supposed to just accept it. So typically it comes off as just as fanservice to see your favorite characters from two series either duke it out, or fight side by side. Basically the type of shit you’d see concocted by a middle schooler on the back of his notebook, then debated about on message boards.

Well in this case, they made it work. It takes a typical SMT type of scenario, and just slid in Fire Emblem characters. The thing that makes it work, is that you can take out the Fire Emblem characters, and the game could still stand on its own. While you could argue that the Fire Emblem characters are in some ways there for fanservice, it doesn’t seem forced. It takes the trope of characters from another series being in an alternate dimension, but Atlus molds it into a situation that works in a game you would expect from them.

In the Megami Tensei games, usually the bosses and summons, or creatures that aid you, are based off of different mythological creatures, they instead just use Fire Emblem characters as the base models. Which explains why I believe this game would still stand on its own if you remove the Fire Emblem characters. Instead of falling into the trap of throwing in your favorite SMT characters, or even just the characters from the popular Persona series, Atlus said “fuck it, new game, new characters”, and crafted a new game out of that.

Onto the game itself. While I think the concept of having the characters as idols, or aspiring idols, and the monsters feeding off the “performa” of said idols, the actual game is pretty fun. I really enjoy how they based the concept of battle off of the Digital Devil Saga games, rather than recruiting the FE characters, like in the main SMT games, or like Persona where you use them as summons. It’s nice to see that the characters become the classes from Fire Emblem.

The battle system has the familiar flair from a SMT game, and it’s nice that they do add in a different twist. Knowing the weakness of your enemy still plays a role in this game like in the others, but instead of just having your character who exploited said weakness attack again, or just having an extra turn, the advantage in this game makes it to where you get to chain attacks to do more damage. It reminds me a bit of Breath of Fire 4 in a sense.

While I’m only done with Chapter 1 of the game, it’s still enough to see that this game will continue to be enjoyable as I continue on. While I do think I’m missing out a bit for not getting the Fire Emblem references, it’s still fun for an outsider to the series to get into the game.

Breath of Fire – First Impressions

Having played two other games in the Breath of Fire series, I decided to check out the original game. There definitely has been a lot of series progression, but I can still see familiarity from this to the newer games.

Compared to the newer games, this one does feel a tad bit archaic, but seeing the era and console it came out on, you can’t really give it much flack. Though I will say that this game doesn’t feel as unique as BoF 3 or 4. So far it kind of feels like a generic sword and sorcery RPG. Hopefully the game gets better as it goes along.

One complaint I have is with battling bosses. The part where you deplete a boss’s HP and then they glimmer and then have an extra spurge of HP seems kind of pointless, and feels like the bosses are being padded out. It makes the concept feel more of a gimmick than adding tension to a boss fight, and also just makes it plain annoying. Maybe if it was say a big time boss, or the final boss, but for just a run of the mill boss, it just feels unecessary.