Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Ar tonelico III

Ar tonelico III: Sekai Shuuen no Hikigane wa Shoujo no Uta ga Hiku
Platform: PS3
Genre: RPG
Playtime: 35:35 on True End path, add on ~3 hours for Bad/Normal ends
Blew through this in just over a week...

Gameplay: 7/10 Even though it's the same rating, I feel as if it's a step down from AT2's system. Jumping has returned, but field magic is still gone. Well, lots of things are gone. Each RT only has one spell per personality, and those personalities also replace the costumes that up stats. Hymma are added to the songs to give buffs to the vanguard, but aren't as special as the IPDs from 2. Item creation is like AT1's system, but costs DP to do, which gets annoying early on when you're short on DP (endgame it's fine because you have too much AGAIN).
Battle is a step down -- it's mostly mashing square until you can purge your RT to level up her magic. Vanguards do pathetic damage -- I was just breaking 300 a hit on weaker enemies at endgame, so get used to seeing the magic casting spells over and over and over again. And enemies themselves...weren't that interesting. Poms are only at the start of the game very briefly, and then it's generic robots and other plant things. Each area doesn't really have it's own set of enemies, once you're in phase 4 you'll be seeing the same pear-vine and robot things in every area.
Dunno where else to put this, but the world felt really small compared to the other games.

Story: null No rating due to me not being fluent in Japanese. It's not the same if I rated it based on other people's opinions/writings of what happens anyway.

Characters: 9/10 Even though the party was dropped from 8 people to 6, this gives every character a chance to have plot based around them. The most useless character seemed to be Hikari Gojyou, but only really because Aoto is the main character, and Cocona is special already. We finally get a playable Origin back in Tilia, and I have to say, she has the most personality out of the three Origins. Saki and Finnel hold their own in the end, but by the end game, it's mostly about helping Tilia with her project (at least, from what I could get)

Graphics: 7.5/10 Well...they LOOK nice, but they could do so much more. The "2D images over a background while people talk with textboxes" from pretty much every other Gust game is back, but falls flat here due to the background images not changing when characters leave, enter, or move in the scene. There could've been so much more done with the 3D models, and some parts scream laziness (like when Aoto is thinking to himself at the end of Phase 2, his mouth loops through an animation over and over) Also, lots of clipping with sleeves and heads into shoulders.
Song magic and EX attacks, which are usually nice to watch, get boring fast because each girl only has one, and each level is just a slight variation on the animation. The Flipsphere attacks are also boring to see because EVERY girl has the same forumla -- small things drop, girl poses, larger thing drops.

Music: 9/10 As usual, Gust delivers with a stellar OST and vocal songs. Favorites are Z, Cosmoflips, and Harmonics Tilia. As for OST songs, the world map theme, the menu/dive shop theme, and a couple of the town themes were good (not Clusternia town theme argh)

Overall Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: If you know Japanese well or are a big enough fan of the series to play through without understanding, go ahead and import this. Otherwise, wait a year and see if we get an English version.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Early Opinions on Ar tonelico III

9 hours in and at the end of Phase 1, let's go!

-Since it's in moonspeak I've pretty much been skipping the text...there have been some funny scenes, though
-Okay, purging was a nice gimmick at first, but I'm tired of seeing the scenes and fake boobs now.
-The battle system is mash buttan, die anyway. I'm only on normal and I'm still having trouble with things
-Don't like how item synthing uses precious DP
-The first song you hear after starting the game is Cutypump. The next is Ep=Nova. It's like they want your ears to be raw and bleeding before you get to the good shit
-Hearing Tatsumi use "boku" makes me laugh
-Some dungons have an overhead camera that zooms in and out and makes me dizzy

Monday, February 1, 2010

Review: Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles
Platform: PS3
Genre: SRPG
Playtime: 32:31
Stupid January class made me take forever on this, but it still lasted only a month.

Gameplay: 8/10 Like most SRPGs, there's no fancy world map. What we do have is a book as a framing device, and you pick scenes/battles from the book. It gets annoying at times as not all scenes are linked together, and you have to always confirm before you play the scene.
Battle wise, it combines a lot of different views together. Top down map view to choose a unit, third person view to run around with a unit, and then a closer, near first person view when you're shooting things. The camera gets screwy sometimes, which blows when you're trying to move a unit as best as possible with the limited AP (basically running power) that they have.
It gets points knocked off for some tough enemy AI early on, especially with snipers, and endgame, when a scout rush is the solution to nearly every battle.

Story: 9/10 Hoo boy, I'm a sucker for this story. It's very much an anime plot (not like the anime got it right though), but I loved it. Love, hatred, wins, losses...yeah, okay. Son of a hero Welkin, his sister Isara, and their new friend Alicia end up drafted into the Gallian militia to fight in the Second Europan War against the Empire. Mix in some magical girls and you've got the basic plot of the game. The story is pretty well paced, with each chapter in the book being a major event. It gives you a couple plot twists in the middle, leaving enough time for it all to be resolved in the end.

Characters: 9/10 There's two "types" of characters in this game, the important playable characters the story revolves around, and the LPCs, or lesser playable characters. The LPCs are the units that join your squad who can permadie. Now, in most SRPGs, you take a blank slate and use them and they stay a blank slate. VC is different because each unit has their own backstory and personality. You really get attached to the characters and end up using favorites, sometimes even if their skills are bad. I personally got real attached to Lynn and Nadine (and of course cameo characters Vyse and Aika!)
As for the main characters, they're all quite unique with strengths and flaws. I'd go into more detail but going into TOO much detail would be major spoilers for a good number of characters. My favorite overall turned out to be Isara >>

Graphics: 9/10 Sega's first use of the CANVAS engine is a good one, giving semi-realistic graphics, but still able to keep a sketchy anime-style look. Shame that the sequel is more styled after the anime, but eh.

Music: 8/10 The first OST by Hitoshi Sakimoto that I've heard, and it was enjoyable. Some of the tracks sound alike, especially the battle themes, though. Also, you'll pretty much hear the same few tracks throughout the game, since you spend more time in certain places than in others. I'd comment about the OP/ED song "No Matter The Distance" but it was cut for the US version...

Localization: 10/10 Probably one of the strongest localizations I've played in a while (though that's not saying much). The JP voice track is included, though the subtitles for scenes match the English track which throws off some lines at points, but I played with English voices so I don't really care that much.

Overall Rating: 8.8 rounded up to a 9/10
Recommendation: One of the PS3 must-buy games, I highly recommend this to any SRPG or JRPG fan, or even someone wanting to try something new. It's only $20 now if you can find it, so why not?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Early Opinions on Valkyria Chronicles

Can you call it early when I'm halfway through the game? Oh well.

-This is proving how much I suck at strategy. I just can't see ahead as to what I should do turns from now sometimes.
-Also, objectives can be a little unclear, and the maps hard to read.
-Isara is mai waifu!
-Rosie is mai other waifu! And Aika, Lynn, Nadine, Cherry, Ramona, Alicia, Ellet, Varrot...
-Hans is still cute, mooink.
-Everything is less moe than the anime.
-Just because they were in the anime doesn't mean they're a good character to use.
-Orders are broken.
-Selvie's PEW PEW PEW noise scares me ;A;

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stuff from the last post until now

Disgaea DS
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team
Knights in the Nightmare
Um Jammer Lammy
Elite Beat Agents

So yeah, I've been busy with portables. On the console
I got Skies of Arcadia Legends, got to the first save point.
Ar tonelico III was announced, I'm getting that.
Valkyria Chronicles II was announced and isn't a console game, getting that too.
Mom bought my PS3 but I can't play it until Christmas :(
Still on that topic, the Valkyria Chronicles anime finished and I gave it a 6/10. Now watching Tatakau Shisho and Tales of the Abyss...the former is a really confusing show, maybe a 7/10 right now, and the latter is awesome, probably a 8/10 now.

School sucks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis
Platform: PS2
Genre: RPG
Playtime: 42:12
Beat it exactly one week before MK2's release. Let's go.

Gameplay: 6/10 Do you remember Atelier Iris 3? Well, the controls are exactly the same. Jump button, slashing button, dungeons that you run through multiple times to get into deeper areas that gets annoying FAST.
Instead of a quest based system, there's a class based system...which is about the same thing. You take a class, you get the assignment, you do it, and time marches on. In Free Time (if you got enoug units), you can take Jobs -- fetch quests or beat-up-monster quests -- which is the best way to get money in the game. And you'll need a lot of money to do alchemy.
Alchemy hasn't changed much either. Expect to do a lot of running back and forth between your workshop and the athanor (equipment making place) to get all the items. You get recipes from the field and boss fights, but can also do derivation to make new items (like using a different type of stone to get a different colored steel). The difference from AI3 is with the element wheel that determines the level and added effects of the item. It's easy to get down, though, even though you don't always want the level at 100. Character's stats are completely determined by alchemy by way of the Grow Book -- think of the Sphere Grid from FFX and you've got the same idea.
The battle system is 95% identical to Atelier Iris 3, save for the Finishing Bursts, Variable Strikes, and attack/defense support from the backline characters. Enemies are also on screen in the same types of blobs as AI3, and yes, I still avoided them too often.

Story: 6/10 Vayne and his mana, Sulpher, get to go to Al-Revis Academy for alchemy, and they meet lots of weird people there as they go through their three years of school. That's about it until you get about 35 hours in and learn that Vayne isn't really normal. The story is VERY slow moving, and there's no real bigbad until the very end of the game. They hide the plot points from you, trying to add mystery, but it ended up annoying me more than anything. JUST TELL ME ALREADY, ISOLDE.

Characters: 8/10 Unlike AI3, there's a lot of characters with their own personality quirks. Jess is a girl that blows up things with a sad past, Nikki is a hyperactive catgirl who wants lots of babies, Flay thinks he's a superhero and he also flunks all his classes, Roxis is the random rival, Anna is the loli with a crazy imagination, Pamela is a ghost, and Muppy is an alien. The NPCs don't get much backstory except for Isolde, so there's no problem like AI3 had with that. During free time you can also do character quests -- completing one person's is necessary for the good ending, but if you get As in every class, you'll have enough free time to have every ending available at endgame. These character quests add more personality to the characters, though there's sometimes a bit of an AT1 problem where things that happen in the character quests are never mentioned in the main story.
Voices were good all around. Hello Liam O'Brien doing someone who isn't evil and bishy, for once. Stephanie Sheh returns as Nikki, and she's not annoying and crazy high pitched! Anna's voice, whoever it was, is a bit too low for a 12-year-old...not like Anna really LOOKS 12 anyway.

Graphics: 7.5/10 2D Gust RPG, blah blah blah. I knocked off a half-point because it reuses a lot of stuff from AI3 :B

Music: 8/10 Lots of catchy songs and good battle themes. Each character even has their own theme!

Localization: 7/10 As a pre-AT2 NISA localization, it's good. There's a few awkward lines (Orgasmic bomb property?), and sometimes the text boxes get one word looking lonely on a line. I don't remember many spelling/grammar errors. The worst part is that only 60% or so of the game is voiced in English. The character quests aren't voiced at all, and many of the shopkeepers don't have voices. At least important story scenes kept their voices.

Overall Rating: 7/10
Recommendation: If you like Gust's RPGs, but want something a bit different. This is still more on the side of a typical JRPG, but the fact that alchemy/item crafting determines your stats pushes it more towards what an older Atelier game is probably like. It's also the longest out of the four Atelier games currently released in the US (though MK2 is out next week and is longer...)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Early Opinions on Mana Khemia

-Oh god dammit they reused sound effects and sprites from Atelier Iris 3. I'm sick of that enemy and sound set.
-Hooray they reused the Atelier Iris 3 battle system and "random" encounter system!
-Still running around to synth items. Buy something from the store to synth an item in the workshop to synth a weapon in the...weapon-synth-place.
-Grow Book reminds me of the Sphere Grid from FF10. Interesting system.
-I thought Vayne would be less of a pussy. At least he can JUMP.
-Vayne is also mysterious. I'M SURE THIS WON'T COME INTO PLAY LATER.