August 27, 2013

Well I’m going to PAX after all…

Posted in video games tagged , at 9:18 am by riulyn

I guess I know some of the right people on the Internet, because I have gotten passes through a friend of a friend and will be doing the full 4 days this year.

Once again I’m not sure there’s anything in particular that I’m looking forward to at PAX. Sure, there will be PS4s and Xbox Ones and stuff, but I’m not planning to buy any of those systems anytime soon. It’s not like there will be an X demo or SMT x Fire Emblem or really too much in terms of Japanese RPGs. Not like there should be, since I know JRPGs are a niche and I think only Square-Enix would come to PAX with JRPGs. Still there may be a few to demo in the Sony or Nintendo booths, so I have that. And there are indie RPGs all over, I believe.

I feel kind of bad when it comes to indie RPGs. Since they are all digital, I haven’t bought any unless they’ve been on a huge sale because when it’s digital, I can buy it any time since it won’t become rare. There are no preorder bonuses that I’d care for for digital products like an artbook. Yes, I do like my mini artbooks. Music CDs aren’t really necessary since if I love a soundtrack, I’ll want the entire OST.

So PAX is more for me about playing all the other types of games that I don’t play because I spend most of the year playing JRPGs. One day that might change, but not this year or the next. On my way to the lab today i saw an ad for Project Diva on a bus so maybe I can demo that at PAX? As much as I want to support something like that (more localizations please), I don’t know if that type of game is my type of game.

Since I have 4 days, I can also go to some panels! On Friday I may hit the localization panel, but it’s not a high priority. On Saturday the panel on White Knights and Trolls happens again. I watched the video of that panel from PAX East and it was quite entertaining, so I’m looking forward to that. Besides, it happens after the expo hall is closed anyway. On Sunday there’s the OCRemix panel that I plan to go to even though I don’t do much at that site and have never made a real remix. The Final Fantasy panel will depend on my mood, as well as the video game music trivia panel. I’m not the hugest FF fan and I’ve not played a good chunk of FF games (though I doubt the panel will really be about anything other than the main line series, which is kind of sad but whatever). As for video game music trivia, you know that I really only know JRPG music. It might be cool to see how much JRPG music makes it into the trivia game. Suikoden, Shadow Hearts, or Ys music would be pretty cool. If I’m still around, I could go to the crafting panel. I really only knit when I do stuff, and I’ve only really thought of knitting Jacques’ (Suikoden 3) or Lorelai’s (Suikoden 5 in particular) sweaters. One day I’ll cosplay a Suikoden character…maybe? Monday there’s a 3 decades of video game music panel which I may or may not go to, or I might wander into the board gaming world. Who knows.

Unlike Sakuracon, there aren’t really any late nights planned, so I might spend my nights with my comfort games. I have so many in progress that I even played some Magna Carta again after 6 months or so of not playing it. Who knows how long my PS2 will be willing to play it. I’m trying to put off buying another one because I may move in a few months and having to pack up another console…


August 19, 2013

When you think it’s a sidequest and it’s not (WA3 post)

Posted in video games tagged at 7:46 am by riulyn

Halfway-through Wild ARMs 3 and I’ve felt an openness to this game that isn’t so common nowadays and not even present in the later Wild ARMs games. There aren’t these “invisible plot walls” where a character says “you can’t go there yet”, but finding certain locations even with your scanner requires you to have heard about them from someone. It’s a game where multiple times you are told to ask around and visit towns you’ve been to over and over again, though they give you some pretty quick ways to travel around the world as early as with horses but eventually with a dragon (which I’m on my way to get now).

Being told you should go ask around usually means you find that one person who helps advance the plot. Sure there is some of that, but many times in this game when you go talk to people, they tell you about 10+ things going on. One of them is the “plot-moving” event usually, except in this game where you find out you’ll have to do most of them after all.

For example, the sandcraft sounds like a sidequest at first. It opens up super early, and the girl asks for something that’s really rare at that time in order to get one. Some time later, you find out you need her craft to get to a required location. Unless you have been super lucky, you’ll end up getting the required materials by fighting what at first sounded like an optional boss.

Right now I’m being told about a place for fighters to gather, about a dragon, etc. The story has given me a clue of where I should actually go via a cutscene of a certain gem-hunting group, but with how this game has gone, I figure I’ll need the dragon sooner or later and dragons are fast. While confused as to how to navigate the lair, I stumbled upon a LP and found that the person visited the dragon lair like 5 levels before I did.

The only problem I’ve really noticed with this kind of “non-linear” plot progression is that levels don’t seem to matter as much as they did earlier in the game, where there was more of “you go here next”. Story bosses haven’t been hard in general except for the first encounter with an enemy who liked to use Negative Rainbow to majorly damage my party (left intentionally vague), but now they’ve become more “long” and less “dangerous” as I just chip away at them. Or sometimes I get lucky and Grav works against them.

Levels are still nice to have, though, as you can allocate points for skills to protect against status, different elements, etc. There are a lot of status effects in the game and there’s always some battle where I forget what the status symbol is actually representing and waste a few turns using the wrong items trying to cure it… The instant death skills that more and more enemies are starting to use is pretty annoying, though, and I don’t have enough wards, but I got it on the guy with the revive spell and the guy with the heal spell so I will survive those battles of attrition at least. And if not, I have plenty of Gimel coins.

Anyway, the game itself is still great and I’m not exactly tired of it, but after playing so many linear games and the shiny Tales of Xillia just distracting me, I’m a bit more half-hearted towards the game than before. I guess it’s good that I wasn’t planning to play WIld ARMs 2 this year anyway, since I’ll probably need a Wild ARMs break again.

August 14, 2013

The Sad Case of Xenoblade in the US

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 9:12 pm by riulyn

So, supposedly used copies of Xenoblade Chronicles go for $90+ in the U.S. There is speculation that Gamestop is possibly opening up new copies of the game (reprints or possibly held-back stock) and selling them as used because they don’t feel like they can sell new copies above MSRP but used game prices go by the marketplace. Well, Gamestop’s idea of the marketplace since I’ve always found Gamestop’s used prices to be on the high side, though in this case it doesn’t seem to be that way.

This is a situation that only happens when a game is sold as an exclusive. As an exclusive, Gamestop can do whatever it wants with the game. Maybe another retailer would have been “nice” and lowered the price of the game because of new inventory. However there’s no driving force to lower the price back to MSRP, if no other large distributor can flood the market with copies at a lower price.

Xenoblade’s price hike and rare status approximately 8 months after release is actually pretty similar to what happened to Radiant Historia. Radiant Historia didn’t have a huge initial print run. By the time I had heard of the game, the game was selling used at $80+. I wanted to buy the game but I was not willing to put that much money towards something I had seen a LP of but did not love to death (it was no Suikoden II to me).

Radiant Historia was published by Atlus and was sold to all different retailers. Early 2012, Atlus did a reprint. Prices fell back down to $32 for a new game. Why? It is possible that the reprint really increased the numbers in circulation. I don’t know how many new copies were made in the second run. I think, more importantly, the game was sold to any game store. I picked mine up at a convention because I was too excited about seeing the reprint, but the store at the convention was only $0.50 more than Amazon at that time. So it was no loss for me, really.

While Xenoblade was certainly more popular than The Last Story, the reason why The Last Story has not skyrocketed in price is because a reprint was done earlier and XSEED sold it to everyone willing to stock it. XSEED and Atlus seem cool enough to reprint games that start getting pricey. Maybe they realize that doing that gives them more money.

Nintendo must have had no faith in Xenoblade, while Gamestop saw a lot of potential in the game. Maybe they didn’t see enough people order directly from their website (I believe that was an option back in April 2012) and ignored what was going on with Xenoblade ever since then. Who knows for sure? Maybe Nintendo’s “no comment” is to try to keep peace with Gamestop, but you’d think they’d have to be kicking themselves at the moment realizing all the money that could have been theirs going to Gamestop or random people on Ebay. Especially with how they’ve actually done promotion of “X”. You’d think they would want lots of people to play Xenoblade to build a larger X-fanbase.

Ah well. It’s a pity that XSEED, Atlus, etc. didn’t get to distribute Xenoblade. At least I got the game early (I did not preorder but decided 2 weeks later I really needed the game). Sometimes early investments do pay off.

August 11, 2013

Tales of Xillia so far

Posted in video games tagged , at 8:56 pm by riulyn

I’m not that far in Tales of Xillia but I feel like blogging more often so the 2 people who read my blog have more things to read. So far so good. I can’t really comment on the quality of the game as a whole but it does start off a bit slowly. I’m still getting tutorials 4 hours in and I only have 3 characters. I don’t feel like a ton has happened in the plot yet either. I started off as Milla but supposedly Jude’s story path is more straightforward, so I am strongly considering starting a new playthrough with him. Even if I think I’ll like Milla better as a character in the end.

Battle system so far is smooth overall but I find having a TP and a CC gauge to be pretty confusing. At this point I have paid no attention to the CC gauge and worry about my TP. The way I’ve been growing my Lilion for each character (has been a pretty general start from the center and spiral outward for the most part), I’ve been getting new artes that take up a good chunk of my TP. Auto-item is nice since you can have your characters auto-use orange gels (or other items) up until you only have a certain number of orange gels left. I haven’t changed strategy for my other party members yet as battles have been pretty easy for the most part. I’ve moved up to Moderate but I may go higher so battles take more than 20 seconds of hitting X. Linking is cool so far but it seems that I haven’t unlocked its true potential yet. Mostly linking has been great for the special artes you can unleash once you fill up certain amounts of the link gauge and for regaining your linked partner’s TP (or your own, depending on how you play) faster. Jude seems to drain out his TP all the time for some reason…

Characters-wise, Jude is like the typical Tales protagonist (young, idealistic, asking questions) but at least he also comes with some book smarts. Alvin must find Jude incredibly “cute” as he seems to manhandle Jude all the time Inigo of FE:A would be incredibly jealous. Milla so far is “not so human” but done in a good way. Unlike some previous non-human Tales characters, she doesn’t suffer from “amnesia” and isn’t a child; she has an interesting way of seeing the world/thinking that comes off as logical even though it is different. Her voice was weird at first but I like it a lot now. Milla in general takes some time to get used to, both in an audiovisual sense and gameplay-wise. I haven’t tried the others yet as I still find Milla interesting to use.

I love how they did the map for this game. It marks down the spawn points and the treasure chests you have used, so it can be fun to mark the map. It doesn’t seem to mark chests that you have opened but didn’t take the things out of, which is a little unfortunate. So far those chests have only contained Apple gels for me, which seem to be dropped in high frequency from monsters.

Titles give you Grade in this game, so I guess it’s useful later. Lilion (Tales’ answer to the sphere grid) is the way to enhance your characters’ stats and learn skills. At 3 GP per level gained, you can learn new skills and artes almost every level and not have the capacity to equip all the skills. I guess that’s a better problem to have then to have not enough skills and artes to play around with.

Music-wise, I don’t really care for it. The regular battle theme is kind of mediocre. I am hoping that the soundtrack is better than Tales of Graces’, but I can’t tell so early on.

And that’s it for now! I’m more focused on Wild ARMs 3 than Tales of Xillia so I may not have updated thoughts on Xillia for a while. As for Wild ARMs 3, I feel like it started off much better than 4 and 5, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I can certainly feel the Wild ARMs style coming through, which makes me confident that I’ll enjoy 1 and 2 when that time comes.

August 5, 2013

Personal Preferences or Homophobia?

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 7:08 pm by riulyn

Earlier today I was reading another article about Exstestra on Siliconera, a game they call the “Kissing RPG”, and the comments section were pretty disheartening to me. In this game, the main character recruits people (or something like that) by kissing them. He recruits both males and females. So far the only art has shown the male lead kissing girls on the lips, so the assumption is that he’d do the same with the guys he would recruit. I guess for a lot of the people on that site, this fact will turn them away from the game.

When people start saying things like “I won’t buy this game because the main male character has to kiss guys”, I can’t help but wonder if they are all homophobic. I just don’t know when it’s fair to make that judgment and when it’s not. I mean, I don’t like big boobs or extremely large men and too much of that is an art-style turn-off for me, and I rather not see my video game characters try to date or have sex with all the people interested in him/her. These things happen in games that I still enjoy (Muramasa, Persona 3) but they weren’t reason enough for me to not buy and play those games that I already had interest in. To be fair, I didn’t realize that some of the art in Muramasa would be in a style that would bother me. However, for a game I wasn’t interested in like Dragon’s Crown, the fact that I really dislike the art-style means I still won’t buy the game. For comments like “I won’t buy the game because the main male kisses guys”, is it from people who only had a passing interest in the game or from people who would really dig the game and are disgusted by men kissing men? I know it’s way too early to tell. I’m just really hoping that something like a small game mechanic (I’m sure the main character wouldn’t be forced to kiss a ton of guys) isn’t the sole reason why someone who’d otherwise like that type of game doesn’t buy it.

I guess I’m still pretty sensitive to potentially homophobic comments since I feel like (also with racism and sexism and other things) there are too many people who say there’s no big problem with that and modern gaming or modern society, and they just don’t want to have discussions about it. “Making a problem when there isn’t one” or something like that is the sentiment of many of these people. “People who make games don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, non-white, non-heterosexual, etc.” or something like that is used as justification for a lack of variety in game leads or for the other types of characters to be more commonly portrayed in shallow, one-dimensional ways. “Why do we have to cater to a minority” many people think. Money (or perceived money) talks. Maybe the gameplay won’t change significantly because of perceived notions of what gamers want, but advertising will change for sure. People already speculate that no shots of the male lead kissing guys in Exstestra have been released because they don’t want to hurt their sales. It’s not a game that would expect a lot of sales in the first place, but they expect more sales than an indie studio and perhaps that’s why any small difference matters much more than sticking to the better concept. The potential compromise that may occur due to homophobia (or other things) just makes me sad if I think about it too much.

All I can really conclude is that not enough people share my taste in liking or at least not hating men kissing men and women kissing women. There’s a serious lack of that in video games, especially ones that make it out of Japan.

August 1, 2013

July Roundup

Posted in video games tagged , , , , at 1:34 pm by riulyn

You might be wondering, what was so special about July that it gets its own roundup? Well, the last roundup took a long time to write up and in July I finished 5 games! I will write about music and maybe my life again at some point (like how much I’m into the Ar Tonelico soundtracks right now or how much less time I should have for games when I think about all the work I need to get done by November).

July’s finished games: Tales of Graces f, Muramasa Rebirth, Wild ARMs 4, Project X Zone, Suikoden 4

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