January 30, 2013

“Cheating” the System with Save Anywhere in Shining Hearts

Posted in video games tagged , , at 12:45 pm by riulyn

I love save anywhere. I die a lot in Xenoblade because I like to go charging in. I’m trying to raise affinities between party members so sometimes I don’t even bring the healer. And I fall off of cliffs sometimes. Oops 🙂

But really, this post is more about Shining Hearts. Yes, I finally managed to play a Japanese game in Japanese that I don’t know the plot of. My comprehension is maybe 30%? It’s like some lines I totally understand and some lines I totally don’t. But I do understand the basic mechanics.

Shining Hearts, at least a few “days” in, is a “quest-based” game. You work at a bakery and each day you report to work and your boss Madera tells you to deliver bread goods to different people. You can also pick up quests from other people, some of them being automatically prompted when you walk by them (at least some of the monster hunting ones). Others can be picked up by talking to people. Most quests have a time limit; time passes automatically during the game. You can also change the time to evening or the next day by deciding to go to bed.

Quests consist of deliveries, monster hunting, collecting items, and making breads, at least so far. Items can be harvested from around town and the outskirts, with these things replenishing with time. On the third day or so you are allowed to start making bread. It requires materials you can collect or buy. You can give bread to people to increase how much they like you and of course to collect more hearts.

Lots and lots of hearts. You can earn hearts from pretty much anything. Walking around by people with nice-smelling bread in your pocket, pressing the square button while you are near them to get even more hearts, completing quests, beating up monsters. Hearts can be used for some battle skills and for baking bread. I’m sure there are more uses once I get further into the game.

Since time passes automatically, you can end up picking up too many quests and not finishing within the time limit. Either you ran out of time to walk to the area or you didn’t have the materials in time. At the end of each day, you get a status report on how many quests you completed, are in progress, and failed. Also you get to see how many hearts you’ve collected and you get a “grade” of some sort at the bottom.

So this is where I “cheat”. I save right before taking on a quest. If I don’t complete it in time, I load. I save right before using the bread-making machine. I load if I make crappy bread. I could also reload to get the best “heart-choice” for dialogue choices, but I can’t save right before those events so I usually don’t bother. But with save anywhere, it wouldn’t take too long to get back to that time. I’m sure if I actually wanted a specific character ending I’d care more about it, but it’s pretty rare that I can manage to read all the dialogue choices in time (and understand them) within the time limit. I figure I’m probably saving the island/world anyway, so it doesn’t really matter about girls 🙂 It’s not like I’d understand it anyway…

January 24, 2013

“X” – Monolith Soft’s New “Hype” Train?

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 11:41 am by riulyn

Yesterday’s news made me really giddy, and I proceeded to (once I was at home) bug the three people who I talk games with about Monolith’s new title “X” (probably a different name later). Of course there wasn’t a ton of things to see in that video, but the one thing that got me riled up was when the player was able to jump into a mech and fly off. That just made my jaw drop.

I would buy this game just to fly around in a gorgeous world on a mech. I think the only way “X” would disappoint me would be if that game mechanic was removed.

Of course there are other expectations for this game after the awesomeness of Xenoblade Chronicles, and I’m sure there are plenty of people jumping onto the “hype train”. Battle system changes, co-op, graphics, etc., is whatever to me for the most part. I guess I have some expectations for the story to be good or at least interesting, but I have loved the stories of anything Xeno – Xenogears and all the Xenosaga games had good stories. So I don’t think the story would suddenly be not enjoyable to me.

Music from the trailer was pretty good, so I expect that to be solid. Xenoblade’s soundtrack is amazing with some new names, so even if I don’t know Sawano, I am trusting in Takahashi’s taste.

For me, the biggest reason to try not to hype too much for this game is the fact that it’s a Wii U game. I have to get a Wii U first, and then hope that this game gets localized since I believe the Wii U is region locked. I’m battling between wanting the game now and not until 2014 for my wallet’s sake.

January 21, 2013

Walkthrough – Marathoning Aid

Posted in video games tagged , , at 12:14 am by riulyn

As you can tell from my previous posts, I am spending most of my video game time with Dragon Quest VIII. This is a good thing in the sense that I did want to beat this game that I let get away some 7 years ago. It’s a bad thing in the sense that I didn’t let myself naturally fall in love with the game, and thus I’m not having the greatest time while playing it.

The thing is, I heard this game was 70-100 hours long and I was starting a week into January. I wanted to finish the game within the month because I wanted to take on the challenge of actually beating the marathon game within the month. At this point I think I am in good shape to do so, as I at 47 hours (of game time, actual time is clearly larger) and I have maybe 1/3 of the walkthrough to go. I may actually beat it by next Sunday, if my plan for 25 hours this week actually comes true.

Anyway, in order to beat this game this month, I resorted to using a detailed walkthrough for this game from start to finish. As I spent time playing Bingo at the casino or finishing off the Monster Arena, I wondered if using the walkthrough was actually saving me time or not. By the way, using a walkthrough line by line is not my typical style; I usually use a walkthrough only if I get stuck and use it for that specific moment, or if I suddenly catch the “do all the sidequests” bug like I did for NieR (except I skipped a few at the end anyway). For Persona 3 Portable, I found recommended levels and party members for the boss battles because I just had no idea how much I should grind. But for that game, there was no obvious “okay if you make it from point A to point B you’ll be fine”. The bosses usually got progressively harder, but the monsters on the floors in between didn’t get harder at the same rate, if that makes sense. It ended up that on normal mode I could usually just beat up on all the enemies on the floor, move on to the next, etc., and I’d be fine. Dragon Quest VIII’s world map monsters don’t give that much experience either compared to the amount needed to gain a level, but unlike Persona 3 it has obvious dungeon sizes and distances between locations. By following a walkthrough for Dragon Quest VII, I was wandering into new areas in a directed fashion and concocting all types of things in my Alchemy Pot. I also spent quite a bit of time gambling. The order of some of these actions would be considered major “detours” but these “detours” took care of the “grinding” both in the experience and the items gained. It also “helps” that I sometimes can’t read directions, so I spent some time running around in small circles…

I know I said that I stopped playing Dragon Quest VIII because Suikoden V came out, and that is still true. But I think I might have quit right after the ship because I kept dying on the ocean. I just have the feeling that it also took me 40 hours to get to the ship, but that sounds a bit ridiculous and also too convenient of a number. Even so, I think in the end, using that walkthrough is saving me time. I probably should have picked one that didn’t have plot scene summaries, but it’s too late now. I just have to stop reading too far ahead!

January 13, 2013

On Town Themes…

Posted in music tagged , at 1:11 am by riulyn

After spending 15+ hours in Dragon Quest VIII, I am starting to feel that the game’s soundtrack, while beautiful, seems incredibly repetitive. For such a long game it seems like I hear the same song for hours. To be fair, I could do a better job at getting from point A to point B. But even if I’m warping from one town to the next, I don’t really get much of a change of music. I have to enter a church or a casino, or go outside. There’s a day and night theme for towns, but that’s it. Of course maybe there is some special town further into the game that has new music, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

The whole “town theme” designation first reminded me of Lufia. Lufia games (which may have been imagined from DQ games) have one theme for towns. But they also have a village theme and a port town theme. So there are 3 songs to choose from.

Still, I prefer each town having its own theme. For me, town themes give each town more of a distinction than their look or the dialogue that takes place in it. I like it when certain towns get the “snowy bells” theme, the “lively” theme, the “sad” theme, the “peaceful” theme. In Xenogears you blow up your hometown within the first moments of the game, but that place had one memorable theme. In Chrono Cross, I loved the variations on a theme for each place depending on the world. I think I prefer almost all of the “another” versions over the “home” versions, but they are both very good.

It just feels weird that a place like Pickham has the same music as Farebury. But I suppose a town is a town, no matter what shape it’s in.

January 10, 2013

Dragon Quest VIII – Gorgeous

Posted in video games tagged , , at 1:01 pm by riulyn

Gorgeous is my one word summary for the game so far.

The visuals are still beautiful even in 2013, and the music. Wow that music. There hasn’t been a lot of variety yet, but Koichi Sugiyama made some beautiful songs that are arranged nicely for orchestra. This might be a soundtrack I might look into buying, though I don’t know how easy it would be to get.

I’m not particularly fond of the art style (both for this game and Jeanne D’Arc) but there’s nothing offensive or extremely ridiculous like those designs for Lost Odyssey. I’m a terrible art critic and I have no sense of style, but I like my JRPGs with bright colors, and those are a plenty here.

I played this game once before in early 2006 but got distracted 1/3 or 1/2-way by Suikoden V. Marathons are good for finishing off games like these (planning about 80 hours for it this month, hope that is enough), and I can finally feel like a more “legitimate” JRPG fan after beating a DQ game. It’s just such a big series that I should at least kill some metal slimes, if nothing else.

January 7, 2013

Happy 2013!

Posted in video games tagged , , , , at 8:23 am by riulyn

I would have typed this up earlier, but my replacement laptop charger died about a month after I got it. I can only get it at Battpit so I don’t have many options. Maybe I have to buy a new laptop…

Anyway, because of the loss of my laptop, my break actually was much more productive on the gaming front. I pretty much marathoned to the best of my ability the rest of Persona 3 Portable. I thought I had made pretty good progress into the game, 60 hours into a “80-hour” game. Well, that game actually took me 101 hours. But I know for May, when I’ll be using this only version of Persona 3 for the RPGamer marathon, that I won’t spend hours just staring at possible fusions.

It was rather sad that I ended up not caring much about the social links at the end as I had to grind almost half of the Tartarus for the last few “months”. And after a long “final” boss battle, the scripted nature of the plot ending just made it…Did I really need those other party members at all?

I also finished my Eirika-run through Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and then proceeded to read through all the support conversations in a FAQ. I just don’t love this game enough to do it myself. On the plane home I was working on my Ephraim run but managed to hit a battle that I don’t remember how I beat without someone dying. Critical hits early in the game are truly killer.

I started up Jeanne D’Arc and made it into Chapter 7, and for me this game will be 30-40 hours long. Once again, distracted by unlocking skill binding combinations. It’s a fun game, but at one fight I got stuck until I did a few optional battles to get upgraded swords and a few levels. You level up pretty quick in this game. I know I’m near the end of the game because I looked up a FAQ when I was stuck. I can see this game being a 20 hour game for most people, but 10 hours? How do you play this game that fast?

Now that I’ve bored you all with my gaming update, let’s just say I hope this next year is a great year for gaming and everything else for everyone! I have a growing backlog that needs some love and lots of worlds I want to travel to. First off is joining everyone in DQ8. Of course that means only short stints in Xenoblade. I will finish that game…eventually 🙂