Tag Archives: RPG

Quest 64 – Review

 

Released in 1998 on the Nintendo 64, Quest 64 was the first RPG released for the console in North America. The SNES was a goldmine for RPG’s, and everyone was starving for an RPG on the dry N64 library.

Story:

You play as a young boy Brian, and after hearing that your father has gone missing from his search for the Eletale Book, you begin your quest to find him and retrieve the book. During your travels to various countries, you find out that the four elemental orbs were stolen by thieves. This has nothing to do with the story whatsoever, and the only purpose it serves is to give you something to do in the game. Neither you collecting the orbs, or what purpose the Eletale Book does is ever explained in the game. This is also as far as deep the story gets, as it’s almost non-existent.

Gameplay:

Quest 64 differs from many RPG’s at the time, as it lacks an experience point system. Taking inspiration from Final Fantasy II, Quest 64 has a turn based battle system where you raise your stats from performing certain tasks in battle. Hitting things with your stick increases your attack, casting more magic increases magic, and getting hit a lot increases your HP. This can be counter-productive, as it increases the time spent grinding.

Your magic system is somewhat interesting, as you have four elements, and you increase it with gems to level up each element. There are two ways to gain gems: 1 – by grinding in battle until you are rewarded one, 2 – by finding them in hidden locations. Each time you gain a gem, you can select which element to apply it on. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to max out all four elements, so the realistic approach is to focus on two elements. The two most important elements are water and earth. Water is where your heal spells are, and earth has the most powerful spells, and the game breaking magic shield. Practically all of your enemies use magic to attack, and the magic shield makes you immune to magic. You could play the game normally, or reduce frustration by being a cheater, your choice.

Visuals:

This is probably the best part of the game. Unlike the majority of RPG’s on the PlayStation (or even a good bit on the PS2), Quest 64 is a full 3D game. It actually looks pretty nice running around in full 3D fantasy villages and castles. Even outside of town, the draw distance is actually fairly impressive for its time. Do keep in mind, that like other games from this time period, expect cardboard cutout fences/walls, and 2D trees. The only complaint with the visuals is that some of the towns and dungeons are kind of mazelike, and the shoddy camera controls don’t help.

Music:

The music is just okay. There are some decent tunes, but some of them seem uninspiring, or just bleepy. Don’t expect anything memorable.

 

Verdict:

For hardcore RPG fanatics, the lack of any kind of depth is going to put you off. The game itself is incredibly mediocre. You could ignore the lack of a story by having very entertaining gameplay, but that also is lackluster.

Music: 5/10.
Visuals (Or Graphics): 7/10.
Story: 5/10.
Content: 5/10.

Conclusion: 5/10

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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.

Phantasy Star II – First Impressions

Sega’s original main RPG franchise, Phantasy Star II was the first for the Genesis. It’s been re-released on multiple consoles throughout the years, so it’s not hard to find a copy lying around.

Released in 1989 in Japan and a year later in North America, this game does feel a bit archaic for those used to modern RPG’s in both graphics and in gameplay. Though for the time, it was actually one of the most advanced games in the genre on consoles, especially for the North American market. Dragon Warrior came out a year earlier, and Final Fantasy came out months after Phantasy Star II. Sadly the Genesis won’t pick up steam until a year later when Sonic The Hedgehog came out, so while Final Fantasy feels more outdated, more people came in contact with it.

Despite being a 16-bit game, it does feel like a slightly souped up NES game in the graphics department. Though we can’t give it too much flack, as it was still very early in the life of the Genesis, so it won’t be until later games where developers know how to take full advantage of the hardware. Also the first Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games on the SNES were just as guilty at looking like slightly better NES games.

Also like many early RPG’s, there is a lot of grinding involved before you can really do anything. It’s one of those aspects of the genre from this time period, as it’s basically in every console RPG at the time. Also new party members will also be underpowered, and also require grinding.

All in all, this is a pretty good game so far, but keep in mind it might be a bit hard to get into if you’re used to modern games. If you’re into early RPG’s, then this should be no issue for you.

Lunar Silver Star Harmony – First Impressions

The fourth iteration of the original Lunar game, Lunar: The Silver Star Story (there’s currently 5, but it’s really just a mobile friendly version of the second “Complete” version). This game is fondly remembered, not only for being one of the few quality games on the ill remembered Sega CD (or Mega CD for those outside of the US), or even one of the few traditional RPG’s on the console add-on. It’s just a quality game all around, and the remake on the original Playstation helped bring it into a larger audience (it’s also just a better version in general).

Before talking about this iteration of the game, it does beg the question of why Lunar 1 is the only game in the franchise that got so many iterations, and the second one only got a single remake. It’s a quality game in its own right, and depending on who you talk to, can be considered the better of the two. Maybe I’m just preaching to the choir, because I really enjoy Lunar 2. Aaaaanyway

Silver Star Harmony looks like an even more updated version of Complete, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s the superior of the three previous versions, complete with all the cutscenes and completely revoiced with new actors. The new voices sound pretty competent, and do sound less “Speed Racery” in the cutscenes. They did find a girl that sounds similar to Luna, and she can sing pretty well. Some of the new voices do take a bit of getting used to, but that’s just because they sound different instead of being bad. Most notably Nall. I’m used to him having a squeaky voice from the original CD and the PS1  versions, but his new VA seems pretty competent.

The graphics look really good compared to the older games, mostly because of it being on a more powerful system. It’s in an isometric view, so some of the new layouts of the towns and such will take a bit of getting used to, but it does give the game a bit more of a new feel to returning fans instead of just feeling like yet another rehash.

The music sounds really good as well. It’s still midi, but who cares if it still sounds good. The only major complaint I have about the soundtrack, is that the music fades out every time you change screens and starts up again when you get to a new screen. I’d understand if you were going to a spot with a change of music, as it’s kind of expected, but it’s really jarring when you’re going to a different screen in a town or dungeon (or enter a house), and the music stops, then starts back up again (at least it’s from where it left off). You’d think it’d be a simple thing to program to have it continue, as even basic programs like RPG Maker are able to do it. Who knows, it’s not game breaking, but it’s still an annoyance.

The gameplay and battle mechanics are largely untouched from the PS1 version. You can still move around the field and attack monsters based on your range, and Alex can still attack twice in a row. They even kept the aspect of being able to see the enemies on the field if you want to avoid them, though sadly they can still follow you around. It does make the concept seem null and void when many of the enemies are basically unavoidable. At least they didn’t bring back the random encounters from the Sega CD version. The biggest feature they added to this version, is that the characters basically have limit breaks. So like in Final Fantasy, the more you attack and such, your limit meter builds up. It also follows the FF10 model where you can save it for later, like Luna’s super heal when you’re in a tight spot in a boss fight.

Now a gripe, which is how the cutscenes are in a fairly low resolution. The 4:3 ratio is ignorable, as they most likely didn’t make those cutscenes in a wider screen format, but the low resolution videos seems like an odd choice. It looks really pixelated in many of the scenes, and was probably just copied straight from the PS1 game, and it’s not a PSP limitation, as other games have better video quality. It’s possible that those are the only versions of the cutscenes available for the staff.

Another possibility is that I’m playing it on the Vita, and on the PSTV, so it could make it more noticeable, like playing a PS1 game on the PS3. It does make the character images look more pixelated and the text more blurry, though some of the other PSP games I’ve played on the Vita don’t look like that. Who knows.

A gripe I do have with the game is the added intro to the game. While it does give some backstory to the game, it feels like a drag to go through a boss fight (which plays more like an interactive cutscene). It’s somewhat long and kind of annoying when you just want to get to the damn game.

Anywho, Silver Star Harmony so far is a very good remake of the game, and personally the best version of the game out there. Some might have nostalgia glasses on the older versions, or just prefer the top down nature of them, but it’s still enjoyable nonetheless.

Sword Art Online: Lost Song – First Impressions

Previously I talked about the previous Sword Art Online game Hollow Fragment, and while an enjoyable game, the fanservice cutscenes were a but much. Also it was a remake of the first SAO game, Infinity Moment, with basically an extra second game attached to it, so it feels like two games in the same engine patched together.

Lost Song, while technically the third release, is the second game in the Sword Art Online game franchise. Taking place in the second MMORPG in the series, Alfhiem Online, it incorporates many of the elements from the show into the gameplay. While the gameplay, including combat, was fun in Hollow Fragment, Lost Song is a massive upgrade. You have two different sword attacks, and you also have the option of casting spells. In Hollow Fragment, you really just had one sword attack, and you kept mashing X until it goes into burst attack, and if you weren’t a high enough level, the burst attack/sword skills were really the only way to get damage on enemies. Lost Song, all your attacks do enough damage. Also it’s much easier attacking multiple enemies at once. In Hollow Fragment, battles are constrained to one on one, despite the fact that multiple enemies can attack you at once. At times it got annoying when two or more enemies attack you.

The map screens were already decently sized in the previous game, Lost Song’s world’s are massive making exploration very fun. A feature of the game in the anime was flight, and good god is it amazing in this game. On foot exploration is a bit slow, but honestly, if you have the option to fly around without any consequences, why walk when you can fly? Regular flight mode is already fast enough, but since the worlds are large enough, you can also do a burst of speed. The only downside, is that they add a stamina meter, so you can only burst for a bit until you get too tired. Though you can stop speeding right before your stamina completely depletes, so you don’t pause from being too tired.

With flight, they also incorporated flight combat which is very fun. It works very similar to on foot combat, but flight combat adds a certain level of chaos (the good kind) to battles. Also aerial boss fights are a ton of fun. More regarding battle, you can also have two partners in your party as opposed to one. If you have two characters that have a lot of long distance attacks (like Sinon), they can whittle down the health of enemies while you go and tank them. Also with your partners, the other characters actually add different experiences of combat. With the previous game, the characters were very similar, so you really just partied with your favorite girl, but this time, it actually makes a different. Another feature, is that you can play as the other party members instead of just being Kirito. For the sake of simplicity for developers, you’re still Kirito in cutscenes, but in battle, you can have your player character as anyone in your party. So if you’ve ever wanted to play as Asuna or Silica, your dream has come true.

With the story, there’s more of an actual story so far in the game. Hollow Fragment had bits and pieces very sparsely placed in the game, but so far Lost Song has more of a story going on. Sadly the fanservice cutscenes are still present, and are basically the same as the other game. There’s still some typical ones like the girls trying on cat ears and asking who the cutest one is (Philia if you’re asking), but there’s racy ones like Strea making Asuna a set of underwear and having her try it on for her darling Kirito. Sadly I doubt they’re ever going to release a Sword Art Online game without these scenes, as it’s basically part of the anime, so it’s probably something that’s never going away, but at least they have more story going on. Hopefully they don’t drop the actual story somewhere along the game and just give you wave after wave of fanservice. Also in regards to fanservice, they added in alternate costumes, including swimsuits and bath towel costumes. To add “flair” to these costumes, they added boob jiggle physics. If that’s up your alley.

With all this in mind, Lost Song is a very fun game. If you enjoyed Hollow Fragment, then Lost Song is a guarantee like. It still has some of the flaws from the previous game, and they’re still catered towards people who have actually seen the show. Though if you can get over fanservice cut scenes, it’s still a very fun game, and aerial combat makes it almost worth it.

Sword Art Online – Hollow Fragment – Short Review

Ah, Sword Art Online, an anime I have mixed opinions over. With it’s interesting premise and world, yet questionable storywriting, it’s a fairly polarizing series. You either love it or hate it. Personally I’m in the camp that thinks it’s just okay and needs a bit more polishing.

Anyone can argue over the quality of the series, but you can’t deny that it’s an incredibly popular series. Like many anime series before it, it becomes a cash cow franchise spawning off all kinds of merchandise and media, and now an almost requirement, a video game spinoff. Though unlike other anime, like say To Love Ru, that gain a video game spinoff, this one on paper seemed the most promising.

Like the .Hack series before it, it’s a series based on characters playing a role playing game. So unlike other anime that either just make a visual novel or a fighting game, the series is already a video game with an established world. So all the developers have to do is just come up with an interesting story and do their best not to fuck up the gameplay. Hell they went to Bandai Namco who’s famous for their Tales series, so how could it go wrong?

Hollow Fragment starts off on the right foot, you (playing as series protagonist Kirito) and as part tutorial, and part technical show off, you fight a gigantic monster. It does give you a great feel of how gigantic the bosses were in the anime, and you get to experience it first hand in the game.

After quite a few hours of playing the game, I can say that while the game is quite enjoyable, it does have quite a few flaws. For the actual game itself, I wouldn’t call it directionless, but for the most part, there isn’t necessarily a large point or much direction in the game.

For the main section of Aincrad, your whole goal is to get to floor 100. So you basically just run around a floor, find the boss’s location, then you warp back to town and complete a quest or two (or if you’re smart, activate the quests right before you explore a floor), as the quests give you the boss info. Then go back to the teleport center, and your girlfriend Asuna gets together a group of fighters to take on the boss of the level. Once you defeat it, the floor is cleared, off to the next floor! Rinse and repeat!

The Aincrad part of the game doesn’t deviate from that so far, at all. Occasionally you’ll receive a message from random players asking for help to ask you for help in defeating monsters, but they’re just random field monsters, not boss monsters, or even high level monsters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is quite fun exploring the floors, and they at least change things up by having new mechanics to overcome while you explore. It’s not just wandering around and “oh shit, I found the boss!”.

The other big section of the game, the Hollow Areas, are the new feature of the game. It’s almost like two games in one. Your new friend, game original, Philia asks you for help in exploring the secrets of the Hollow Areas. Basically she gives you a point on the map that you have to traverse to, and it happens to be a dungeon to explore. This basically plays similar to the Aincrad levels, just with larger areas to explore, and tougher enemies. As you start the game at level 100, Aincrad has weak monsters that give you shit for experience points, so if an Aincrad boss is giving you trouble, just run around the Hollow Areas to level up Kirito (or just gain more skill points) to wipe the floor with him.

Combat itself is pretty decent. You gain skill points that boost the power of your sword abilities. After awhile, you’ll literally kill enemies with a single sword skill attack. You also get to travel with a partner, which basically consists of Kirito’s ever-growing harem and Klein, but fuck Klein if you can have cuties/badasses like Asuna or Sinon travel with you.

From what I’ve noticed, none of your partners have a noticeable difference in battle, they’re just at different levels. Characters like Asuna and Philia are initially stronger, as they’re close to the same level as Kirito, while Sinon and Silica are on much lower levels. Though if you run around with the lower level characters enough, they’ll level up quickly and make the gap between the higher level partners null and void.

The only story required partner is Philia in the Hollow Areas. Basically your job is to get her out, and magically she’s the only one that can use the items you find to unlock doors and stuff to progress. Other than that, you can pick whoever you want.

Now for the flaws of the game. Largely the flaws have to deal with the “story” and dialog. There isn’t necessarily an overarching story and after completing certain events, they unlock cutscenes for the characters which is the biggest flaw of the game. These cutscenes pretty much just serve as fanservice bits. With bits like following Silica and finding out that she works at a maid cafe, or sparing with Sinon and she falls over and gets wet and shows off some butt action. These bits feel very unnecessary and just shows off the cuteness of Kirito’s harem.

Then there’s the times where the various girls get Kirito in trouble. I shit you not that when you first leave the Hollow Area (aka the game tutorial), you first get bitched at by all the female characters for being missing for several minutes, then immediately get bitched at AGAIN for mentioning that you met yet another girl. As more cutscenes appear in the game, so increases your times of getting bitched at by either a girl, or multiple girls. Not even 5 minutes later, another game original character, Strea appears, and starts hitting on Kirito, then the ever-so-clueless Kirito takes her to a bar. The girls then walk in on Strea sitting on your lap, and then you get bitched at a third time. Gotta love that don’t you?

Let’s not talk about the silly scene where they all get jealous of your sibling relationship with Leafa, and then all pretend that they’re all your little sister. Sigh

Then there’s the relationship portion of the game. If the cutscenes weren’t enough fanservice for you, then all bets are off on this one. From what I’ve noticed, increasing the girls’ affection towards you serves pretty much no purpose. The purpose it pretty much serves is that you get to walk around town holding hands with your favorite girl, and if you increase their affection levels high enough, you get to bridal carry them to your room and “share your bed” with them. Yes you get to be a manwhore and fuck every girl in the game. I shit you not.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the game has either mixed reviews, or just rated lower than it should be. Unlike other JRPG’s like a Tales or Final Fantasy, the game really just caters to fans of the show. Instead of introducing you to the world, or even the cast, the game pretty much implies that you not only know who everyone is, but what’s going on. Especially when this game seems to take place after both seasons of the anime (or if it wasn’t for Sinon, after the first season). The game expects you to already know who Heathcliff is, or the events of the anime.

If the game wasn’t unfriendly enough to newcomers, the copious amounts of fanservice sure as hell isn’t helping either. While a flawed game, it’s definitely got its merits and is quite enjoyable. The combat is fun, and the graphics definitely give justice to the artstyle of the show. It’s obviously catered to a niche audience who consists of fans of the show who also happen to be fans of RPG’s.

Conclusion: 7/10

Breath of Fire IV – First Impressions

Prior to this, I played Breath of Fire 3, and while it’s a very slow game, it’s getting more fun since the last I’ve played it. Breath of Fire 4 on the other hand, is a much more interesting game from the get-go. So far the story is much faster paced, and you start off with two different stories going on at once.

The game seems to be an improvement in all aspects compared to 3. As a later release, the graphics are really nice. The only minor gripe is that the times they show polygonal monsters looks weird side by side with the 2D sprite characters. There’s a lot of fluid animation from the characters moving around. The characters, environments, and monsters look fantastic.

Controls are also an improvement, and instead of using the weird camera control from 3 where you hold the square button and use the D-pad to look around, they copy the camera controls from other games where you use the shoulder buttons to rotate. The only silly thing they did was that the camera is at a 45 degree angle, so even when rotating the camera, you only keep it at a 45 degree angle.

Definitely enjoying the game so far. Looking forward to seeing how the game progresses.