February 3rd, 2013

Wizardry Online and Elminage

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention these two games considering my whole website is based on their idea.


First off is Elminage from UFO Interactive. They’ve been mostly busy with in house stuff, probably to drum up the money for stuff like this. However if you need a traditional Wizardry fix, this game is it and now it’s in English thanks to UFO Interactive. So go and buy it i you want to see more like this.
Elminage as most don’t know is Starfish‘s “Wizardry”. It uses some of the same races and most of the same classes and is basically a Wizardry game for all intents and purposes. Starfish no longer has rights to the license I don’t think, and it’s now bought up by Aquire, thus this might be the answer to that.
What is cool about Elminage is that you can use your own icons for the faces. They have to be BMP and edited a certain way, but you can customize it further. Later games in the series even allow you to import character graphics for the profile page. This has led people to use characters from other first person dungeon crawlers.
You can buy it form the new PSN Online store here. It works on the PSP and the PSV.

Elminage screenshot

Wizardry Online

Next is an actual Wizardry title, Wizardry Online. It just launched a few days ago and it takes MUCH from the Wizardry formula. First is the “YOU CAN DIE FOREVER” you can die, then ash and then gone… time to reroll a new character. You however can get some of the stats from the old character and use them on the new one. However everything that character was carrying is now GONE unless you put it into a bank.

Being a criminal is pretty brutal too. If you get in prison you have a few way to escape, one of which is talking to a rat. Talk to the rat too early and you reset your sentence….AND EVERYONE ELSE’S. They basically made this game super tough on criminals so being one isn’t any good. Also if you are a criminal in prison, you can’t play any of your other characters. Wizardry brutal.

Wizardry Online – View from Tavern

Overall the game is an action RPG. Mash the mouse to attack, rather than auto-attack and mash skill keys. This means there is some skill involved in side stepping, jumping back and guarding so you take no damage in an attack.
My brief playing with it was enjoyable and the world has a nice feeling to it, however the town music is terrible so it’s good you can groove out to something different in shops.

Overall it’s good to see new entries into the First Peron 3D Dungeon RPG genre.

December 8th, 2012

Astro Garden – First Look

So I went looking for new Facebook games to play when I got a little bored and this was one of the ones I came across.

This game is very similar to Frontierville when it was still around/a thing. Basically you start with a house and you have to build up from there, clearing the land and planting crops etc. Your goal is to build up an awesome place to live and or a town/city.

The story is that you were struck by lightening or something, it only shows you what’s happening and doesn’t explain too much, and you end up on this wacky different place with Exotic Eggplants and strange chickens and you have to build a lab to research hybrid weird crops and animals.
The intro to the game shows that you can be as great as THESE scientists.. Newton, Einstein and Da Vinci.. yup all male. No Curies, Lovelaces or any of them. Which.. I have no idea how they really factor into the game other than you are researching crops.


April 21st, 2012

Xenoblade Chronicles – First Look



Xenoblade Chronicles is a game that exists to show that the Wii could have been so much more, if this had happened earlier in it’s life. It’s an RPG game proving that the Wii can do more than those silly party/mini-games that unfortunately, came late in the Wii’s life. Along with this game comes The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. These game are pretty much the swan song of the Wii, because coming November in Japan is the Wii-U, which looks to be even more party based mini-game gimmicks.

What is Xenoblade Chronicles about?
That sword of there, the Monado, is pretty much all you see about the game. However this is a standard jRPG. Complete with fridgings for motivation, sexualized female armor, and ridiculous weapons. There is the machine empire that seems to want to wipe out the human race and the people of the Bionis, (Homs, Nopon, Ancient Race of people that actually know what’s REALLY going on!) and they are at odds with each other and you have to find out why take revenge for your dead childhood friend. Of course being a jRPG there is so much more behind the scenes. “Why does that character have that other character’s voice” for instance if you happen to be a fan of Norio Wakamoto. Is the Bionis alive? Who made these two ultra-giant robots? Etc. Yes this game DOES have a Japanese Voice option. (Unlike The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower which need undubs.)

So you get to play Shulk (the chosen one), Reyn (the tank), Karna (Sharla: the “archer/healer”), Dunban (the other sword guy), Melia (the mage) and Riki (the cute team mascot character who actually isn’t as useless as the other cute animal characters).  These character have something at stake going with Shulk to get revenge on a certain Mechon for killing Fiora his childhood friend. Karna, for instance, wants to find Gadou who seems to either be her boyfriend or at least a good friend. Dunban just happens to be the former Monado owner, Melia becomes the guide character and Riki, well, is the mascot “cute animal” character. You can also take the main character out of the party completely!

So really that sword in the picture isn’t all that important to the plot other than it might provide tropey backstory to “The Chosen One” Shulk as to why he can only use it and what is it really.

What’s Different?
This game seems to borrow heavily from the western RPG market. Not all of it is good however, as it borrows from the MMO market more. You have skill trees and characters who’s character model reflects what they are wearing. You’ve also got pointless, seemingly never ending kill quests and impossible to find items! Huzzah! The story for itself is more a sci-fi story than a fantasy story so it’s got that going for it as well.

The Good?
The good bits are the fact it does have questing. These quests usually help to flesh out most of the named town inhabitants and partially flesh out the party characters. I say partially because they have repeating dialogue. It has Dunban, who’s “gimmick” is his naked fighting skills. He gets bonuses for fighting without armor, which does indeed strip him down to his shorts and skin. The plot can easily be advanced through if you want, by ignoring exploration and collecting completely and the characters all seem to be somewhat three dimensional even though they are the typical RPG stereotypes.
The music isn’t half bad either. It’s a mix of Final Fantasy VII and a little part of Phantasy Star Online as well as a bit of it’s own thing. The voice acting is of course top notch (Japanese voices, the English ones.. not so top notch.) and the fact it even HAS the voice option that SO MANY other jRPGs out there don’t even bother with. (Tales of Graces f, The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, Arc Rise Fantasia *shiver*, Tales of the Abyss (PS2 and 3DS), Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Persona 3+ and Portable, Star Ocean 1&2+portable remakes, Tales of Vesperia, Tales of Xillia, Final Fatnasy XIII+-2, Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon, FF: Crystal Chronicles, The list goes on and on and on and…)
Also, sometimes it feels good to sit back, run around and collect things and not worry about the next plot point. The frustration sets in when you have the time based quests and want to advance the plot yet can’t go forward without thinking you might go beyond the point of no return.
Being able to boot Shulk out from the party so you can have the party YOU want to play with and not be forced to play with “the dude” in the party.
Exploring is actually fun, since your getting a few battles in along the way and there are no random battles. It has the MMO setup that they will only attack you if your a certain level and if you trigger their aggro type (visual/sound). The enemies feel plentiful without feeling that there are too many or not enough as some enemies don’t aggro at all and others you can sneak by. Which is more fun when you level 20 and playing sneak by the 85 level ogre/giant to explore behind it!

There’s also “Unique/Notorious Monsters” that you can kill to get some equipment that can’t be bought in stores that is sometimes better than what you are wearing. These battles are usually more fun that the boss battles.

The quest system does leave little “!”s around the map for who you are to talk to and where that item you need to collect is. The problem is that you only see them when you get close to them and not on the main map.

The Bad?
Let’s start with the story! Tell me if you’ve heard it before. There’s a man and a woman and they are childhood friends/genderfriends/REALLY CLOSE SOMEHOW and then along comes the big bad or a big bad henchie and BAM the woman is killed! The man is so distraught by this he seeks revenge and thus the story is about how Dude gets his revenge, also some world story happens, but REVENGE! Yeah, that’s this plot. The ONLY reason Shulk leaves Colony 9 is because “his” woman died and he wants revenge. To add insult to this he has a dudebro chat with his buddy Reyn about how much he’s NOT CRYING over her death and is instead filling that in with anger. It’s a real dudebro story… really. Karna’s plot is second to his plot as she doesn’t have evidence of Gadou being dead, just his rifle. Of course her whole point is about pining after a man and if he’s dead or not. One of her death quotes is “Gadou, I…”, so she only lives for him.
The female characters armor. Yep, every RPG seems to have a problem putting women in reasonable armor,  this is no exception. Karna either has a boob squisher and short-shorts or a boob window and short-shorts. Melia has a choice of boob window or a very low cut top. The other characters? They can get armor that makes them look like freaking ROBOTS. (Of course this all looks different on each character. Another thing is that whenever Karna turns to speak, her breasts jiggle. Yes, the programmers decided they needed to sexualize her some more and add THAT. There is no reason for it and honestly it looks silly when she is trying to be serious and there they are wobbling all over the place. I really feel character creators and programmers need to go to a class on proper armor and how clothing and anatomy work, as all this stuff looks juvenile and is misogynistic.

Quests are both the good and the bad. The bad is that on some quests you end up spending numerous hours trying to find a certain rare collectable or getting a part to drop. The parts dropping hasn’t been too much of a pain yet as the “rare” parts tend to drop more readily than some of the common collectable items can be found. The collectables being these glowing orbs  that give you an item that is only good for trading… and quests. Some collectable can only be found in a certain place (usually a ‘secret’ area), at a certain time, in the rain. Even then it’s random. By the way the Fire Tarantula is only in the secret area called Believer’s Paradise. Some of the collectables can be traded for, however it only shows up when the town is at a certain affinity (star) level. Which  you need this quest in order to raise affinity. Then there’s the “overtrading” where you can get some items. Good luck with that. It’s good to have a guide on hand or a wikia up… which probably makes this game a Guide Dang It. It’s probably saved however if you get out some form of document creator and make a table yourself. The game doesn’t do that for you.
Also the quests are the common ones you usually find in an MMO: Kill X these, Collect X this, take this to X and come back. The not really fun quests. Some kill quests are short with the “Kill 2 X” while some collect quests are long “Collect 6 uncommon X collectable”. It seems when you get the quest the percent change to get that item drops considerably. However you can trade with NPCs for some items and just do it that way.. which brings me to…
Certain NPC characters + Night/Day + Huge Confusing Town + NPCs move around = I’m still finding NEW people in Colony 9 and I’m about 40 hours in. (Mostly questing/collecting/exploring). So if you DO want to trade for a quest item, have fun trying to FIND that NPC. The map does give pointers with blue dots for named NPCs, however you don’t know who they are and what they are willing to trade and what was your affinity level for the town? How do you get up to them exactly? Hey where’d they go they were here a second ago? So you also end up having to plot out where the NPC is at what exact time of day as well.

The visions!! While the visions are nice to point out quest items if you want to collect ahead of time, you can’t skip them. They also happen in battle and are unskippable. Sometimes I don’t care that a character is going to die, yes fine that’s nice, I was planning on healing them anyways.

The sound also has some bad to it as you can’t adjust the volume levels, so often the music is drowning out the voices and sound effects.

This game has good and bad going for it. The plot is a tired, misogynistic in parts and hackneyed one, however it also has the “mysterious invaders” going for it to draw you forward. It’s a jRPG at it’s core and it has a Japanese voice option. It’s on the Wii and it’s about time. It offers more exploration of the environment and the towns, however can overwhelm someone who wants to breeze by the plot just finding out how to navigate the landscape.

January 27th, 2012

Brave 10 (1st Look)

With EVOL in the trash can, I decided to view another shounen/seinen anime.

Brave 10, so called that because there will be ten people with magical powers too… save Japan or something. I’ve heard it’s based on a specific historical event, but forgot which one. You can be assured that history didn’t play out exactly like this.

This anime feels like one of those anime they are making that’s targeted at men, but women are supposed to secretly like it. However this just feels… boring. The character designs are more like what you’d see in an otome game or a shoujo anime, which makes this feel like a ‘for women’ but targeting men anime.

The whole point of the anime is to show how awesome these men are and how sexy and awesome and… yeah. I don’t mind if characters get that crowning moment of awesome, or even if there’s a fight. Here’s the but, when the whole anime is crowning moments of awesome, it kinda dulls the feeling and makes me go “Yes yes he’s awesome, get on with it!”. More than “Squee, he just awesomed those ninja to death!”.

Another drawback is of course the maiden in distress. Izanami doesn’t really do much UNTIL she’s put into extreme danger, then she faints out and this hair ornament does some explodey zappy thing and everything is withered and decayed instantly. Yay passivism. While she seems to be a more active hero in that she knows she needs help and seeks it out, she’s probably never going to be given her moment to shine like the other heroes will.

I’m going to watch a few more episodes to see if they get better, get horrible, or stay the course. Right now I would give it a 5 on a 1-10 scale. Average as average can get.

April 13th, 2011

Spiral Knights! First Look/Review

There’s a new game I was turned onto by Joe Tortuga on twitter. This new game is Spiral Knights from Three Rings (Puzzle Pirates) and SEGA, yes that SEGA.

Spiral Knights is a new MMO game out that has instanced levels, item crafting and and is a play for free setup. What makes this game different is that you CAN play for free, also it’s not set in notEurope. It’s also an adventure game with no levels and no skills to worry about treeing or what skills you need. You don’t even need to worry about what class you want to be.