April 30, 2013

Suikoden II – Hard to Imagine Without Suikoden I

Posted in video games tagged , at 4:01 pm by riulyn

Beware of all the spoilers following for Suikoden and Suikoden II. You have been warned.

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April 8, 2013

2013 Q1 Roundup

Posted in video games tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by riulyn

I couldn’t think of a funny title or a really interesting question. I just wanted to post on games, so I’ll just ramble on about all the games I’ve played from January to the end of March. Feel free to read whatever parts you feel like reading or skipping this altogether.

Dragon Quest VIII

Not only was this game part of the wonderful RPGamer marathon going on at the RPGamer forums, but it is one of the easiest/cheapest Dragon Quest games to buy. Since it’s the only Dragon Quest game that I’ve played, there’s not much for me to say to long-time Dragon Quest fans about this game. It still looks gorgeous, the music is still good, and the scale of the game is great.

Personally I liked the story but I felt like it took a while to get going, due to the game being hard for me and thus battling and gathering items being more important at the beginning. I also found battling to be quite repetitive as I ended up using the same spells/items for almost all of them. I suppose, in that sense, the game is pretty traditional as many old RPGs didn’t do status ailments or elemental weaknesses too well… Life gets interesting once you get a ship (but also quite dangerous) and even better once you gain the ability to fast travel. Stick the game out and you feel very fulfilled when you beat it.

On my scale from hate to love: LIKE

Favorite character: Yangus

Recommendations: Use alchemy. Really, really you should use it or you may grind for levels and/or money forever. Also, it’s better to take this game at a more leisurely pace than I did.

Jeanne D’Arc

I actually started this at the end of December and I got it for $10 earlier last year. For some people this is a really short game but I spent 40 hours in it.

The game is pretty simple and feels fast due to quick leveling up, turn limits, etc. It has basic classes and basic customization, weapon and magic triangles, counter attacking, etc. The story has a few surprises and it’s interesting to see what fits with history and what doesn’t. I try to think of a reason why someone wouldn’t like this game if they like this genre. Maybe it is a bit on the easy side?

Another thing about this game is most of your party members talk throughout the story. That also means there are few optional characters. But I think there are 12-ish automatic characters, so that gives you enough ways to customize.

On my scale from hate to love: REALLY LIKE

Favorite character: Gilles

Recommendations: Use Colet and Marcel. I had no idea they were so awesome until I looked at a FAQ when I did get stuck in one battle. They are pretty awesome characters. Also it can’t hurt to do optional battles to get some neat equipment and more skills.

Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

Another game in the marathon and personally a game I would have never picked up had it not been for the marathon. It didn’t seem like my type of game, and it really wasn’t, but I am glad that I played it. Really worth a try to anyone with the slightest interest in it, and it definitely helps that this game is relatively cheap to acquire.

What I didn’t know before playing the game is how good the story would be. It’s one of those good stories told in not very many words. Even with the extra scenes I unlocked because I restarted a few times, the extra scenes are rather short and just give a few more hints at motivations and emotions of the characters. Usually I like rather verbose and complicated/ambitious stories, but this is the opposite. I think the atmosphere of the entire game ends up being so well done that you can’t think of it being done any other way.

Of course, the stronger the unity of a piece like this is, the stronger it repels people who don’t like its style. I found myself simultaneously impressed and annoyed with this game. I hated the SOL system but dealt with it at the beginning of the game and didn’t need to worry about it later; it ended up being a good thing since I got the extra cutscenes (save for New Game + ones) right away. I hated the idea of save tokens and was pretty stressed about my last save being 3 hours before I met the final boss. Personally I found the save limit a lot more stressful/annoying than the “difficulty” and SOL system. I really had to think about when to save – before or after I do purchases, at this save box or at the next one?

On my scale from hate to love: LIKE

Favorite character: Lin

Recommendations: If you are nervous about the difficulty, don’t be afraid to SOL restart a few times at the beginning of the game. Just make sure to choose the Give Up function whenever possible instead of letting yourself get wiped in battle, as then you don’t lose half of your party experience and money. Also, don’t use your D-Counter unless you really, really have to, and then if you do, use it wisely.

Ys I

I had Ys longings so I went ahead and picked up Ys I & II for the PSP and for Steam. I’ve only touched the PSP versions so far; I love having it portable, but I think that the PC version is better? I’ll let you know later. It’s probably cheaper on PC anyway, as the PSP version is rather old.

There’s not much story but there’s also not much game (my game file said 6 hours). It’s all about bosses. While basic combat is just playing bumper cars with everything (that’s how you talk to people, collect items, and hit enemies), the boss battles throw a few tricks at you. There was one bat boss that confused me so much that I had to look up YouTube videos to figure out how to even hurt him. Also that last battle…I must have tried it over 300 times. But you feel so good when you beat the game.

There is some interesting background story going on which continues on in Ys II. Thankfully most modern editions of the game come with both Ys I and II.

On my scale from hate to love: REALLY LIKE

Favorite character: Dogi? For the 3 seconds he’s around 🙂

Recommendations: Don’t feel bad if you start on easy or normal. I think the only differences between the difficulties is how many times you have to successfully execute the winning strategy before the boss goes down. You can’t use healing items during boss battles, so it’s all beating the boss before you run out of HP. Also, the fun of the game is in the boss battles, so I don’t think looking up how to find items in a FAQ ruins the experience. Actually a few things might  not be intuitive (like certain items you need to find and where to get them) so don’t feel bad about the FAQ use.

Shining Hearts

The first game that I beat that was only in Japanese. I feel pretty happy to manage that. Otherwise… The game tries to do too many different things but it doesn’t really do anything besides the bread-making and the character side quests with enough proficiency.

Battle system is good if you ever felt the need to go beyond auto-battle, which is not very much of the time. Encounter rate is high for a game that requires almost no grinding except for a few parts, but that can also be alleviated if you don’t act like I do and try to balance out all the non-required battle party members. The characters that join you but aren’t required to be used come with unique abilities and they can all be useful; they all need to get leveled up and leveling up is a bit slow in this game.

The main plot…it suddenly appears. It could have been interesting. It goes by rather fast compared to the rest of the game. Wait, the actual reason you play this game is to get a girl to fall into your arms at the end of the game? Um…

On my scale from hate to love: SOMEWHAT DISLIKE

Favorite character: Roana (but more for her battle skills)

Recommendations: Make all the bread and then feed all the characters of your party with it. Don’t worry about Madera or the townspeople. Defend is really useful, and so are status spells like poison and sleep (didn’t really use the other types, but I’m sure they work). I think choosing the cleric as your second party member makes the game easier, but I have not tried the other ones yet. Also, know at least basic Japanese or be willing to use a guide as not everything shows up on the quest guide.


Yes, I replayed this game again. I still love it, and the more you play it, the faster it goes. Even when you go for 108 Stars.

I’m too much of a fan to worry about the limited dialogue and true interactions with half of your stars, and the drama in the game may be a bit over the top, but if you get a few hours into the game and don’t feel it (after a certain event in Lenankamp) then the game is probably not for you. You don’t play this game for the battle system or for true character customization, and you may not be able to handle the ridiculous way the game expects you to deal with item inventories. You’ll also find out if these things really matter to you within the first few hours.

The game is so cheap for most people, especially being on PSN. Getting a used PS1 disc isn’t too bad either. There’s no excuse to not give this game a try if you have any interest towards it.

On my scale from hate to love: REALLY LIKE

Favorite character: Viktor

Recommendations: I think the best way to play the game for the first time is to not use a guide. It’s not hard enough of a game to require one, and I think the game is short enough and good enough that it’s worth a replay if you aren’t satisfied with your results from the first run. There’s also a decent number of game-breaking unites or rune powers to play around with if that’s your thing.

Tales of the Abyss

I replayed this game for the RPGamer marathon, and it was worth a replay after 5 years or so. I played the PS2 version once again. I hear the 3DS port is almost the same as the PS2 version, so I might look into that some day. The game should work pretty well on the 3DS, I think.

Anyway, if you don’t like anime then you won’t like Tales. If you hate characters being in your face all the time, then this game isn’t for you. I personally like anime and characters interacting all the time. Tales of the Abyss might have actually had too many character interactions even for me. There are also scripts which would have been a lot better with voice acting, and sidequests which can unlock more character interactions. The whole plot is driven by character development. I think you know what I’m getting at.

Gameplay is pretty standard for modern Tales games and in some ways it’s better because it’s simpler, but I think it may be slower than the more recent games. Soon I’ll play Tales of Graces f and see if that is truly the best of the Tales series in terms of battling.

I caught a lot more things the second playthrough than I did in the first, so I think the game is worth a replay as well as a first play.

On my scale from hate to love: REALLY LIKE

Favorite character: Guy

Recommendations: The game is better played over more than 3 weeks like I did it. Also, free run is awesome. Also, Anise is a lot more powerful than (most of) you think.

Xenoblade Chronicles

I think this game, save for the battle system and the number of kill quests, was pretty much made for me, so there’s too much and not that much to say. Obviously I spent a lot of time with the game and a lot of good time with the game. Just look at my earlier posts and you can see that I even took on more content than was required to beat the game, which means I got a bit obsessive with it. Had no idea I would become like that. And I even grew an appreciation for the battle system.

There’s plenty of short character interactions, plenty of world to explore, plenty of background info and relationships to change with the NPCs, and plenty of plot and enough surprises even to the end (at least for me). The game feels very rhythmic most of the time; if this “down-time”/traveling time bothers you then I don’t think there’s anything to really remedy that. I personally found small conveniences like skip travel and the directional arrow to save me from most annoyances of long travel that bother me in games like FFXII and Dragon Quest VIII, but your mileage may vary. Also the music is awesome. It’s too bad I was overleveled at the end so I didn’t get to enjoy the last bits to their fullest in context, but I can enjoy their full sound with the soundtrack on my mp3 player 🙂

On my scale from hate to love: LOVE

Favorite character: Melia

Recommendations: Don’t get bogged down by quests, but also don’t put them all off unless you don’t plan to do them at all. When collecting quests, talk to people multiple times especially if they give kill quests since those people tend to have a lot. Don’t be afraid to wiki for quests; some of them are a real pain in the butt. If you are going the quest route, also talk to anyone that has a name even without the exclamation point as that can help with raising city affinity and unlocking more quests.

Also, try playing as different characters in the lead and see who you like best. I personally liked playing as Shulk, Dunban, and Seven, but I also played Melia a lot since her AI is pretty bad.

November 30, 2012

Suikoden Day

Posted in video games tagged , at 9:57 am by riulyn

Today is Suikoden Day, an event organized on Facebook for Suikoden fans to gather, share stuff, chat, and have fun. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite days of the year. The day pretty much covers the reasons I love the Suikoden games.

  1. A gathering of a huge variety of people with different skills/opinions/personalities.
  2. A big ol’ party.
  3. Banter.
  4. Multiple entries in the same “world”.

Yeah, that was a bit of a stretch to relate the two. I think why I participate in Suikoden Day and wouldn’t do so for most other series is because Suikoden holds a special place in my heart. The Suikoden series kept me in gaming (during my sparse period of 2008-2012 with Suikoden Tierkreis being one of the few games I bought and beat). The Suikoden series motivates me to learn Japanese. It’s certainly fun to transcribe music from it.

There’s just something desperate about this event too. We crave more main series games because we need to know what happens  in the world post Suikoden III. We gather and rally because if we don’t, we worry that we’ll never know the answer.

Maybe we’re wondering, if we gather together, can we change our destiny? At least there is well more than 108 of us trying 🙂

August 4, 2011

A Bit More Creativity Needed Here

Posted in life, music, video games tagged , , , , , at 2:21 pm by riulyn

So the vacation to China was overall a good thing despite some bad luck with planes (at least no canceled flights, but lots of delays). It’s kind of interesting to go on a vacation without most of the things that tie you down to your everyday life. I didn’t have my laptop and my music files, my videogames or free access to the Internet, etc. I always feel like vacations like these always reset my mind, in some way.

Upon returning to my rather uneventful life, I wandered over to OCRemix and since I’m such a big Suikoden series fan to see if any new Suikoden remixes had been posted there since I last checked. Unfortunately there hasn’t been anything. I know the site is very selective and such, but when a cult game like Xenogears is continuing to get stuff (then again, the music for that game is a lot better for the casual fan than Suikoden stuff), I was just a bit sad. And now with the recent news that the Suikoden team has indeed been disbanded and 5 years since the last main storyline game, the series is pretty much dead.

Anyway, since I’ve had Suikoden music and randomly Cosmo Canyon from FFVII stuck in my head, particularly “An Old Irish Song” from Suikoden I which I have already made a simple arrangement of, I have been trying to create a fancier, awesomer arrangement of that song. I really am not a good composer myself and really should brush up on music theory, etc., before I get something to type up. And I really should stick to what I do best, which is transcribing stuff. My ability to identify pitches is probably my only actual musical skill, especially since I’ve started making arrangements that I can’t even play myself…

So yeah, in summary, I want to do more with my arrangements but I probably won’t. I’m also in a Suikoden mood so when I get back to working on those “simple” arrangements, I’ll probably do some Suikoden stuff. I just started replaying Suikoden Tactics on a whim and should try to arrange one of those songs, maybe.

December 8, 2010

A bit of procrastination…

Posted in life, video games tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:19 pm by riulyn

I have a week before I have my exam. For those of you who are curious, I am presenting my proposed thesis/dissertation research. When I was working on this proposal, I realized that I have a lot of goals for this project. I am either going to be in grad school for a very long time or fall short of the lofty goals. It’ll probably be the former. Oh well. I’m getting a stipend and I have time to work on things like sheet music and play videogames as long as I get a decent amount of work done at the bench. I hope I didn’t just fling a ton of jargon at you all. Anyway, I learned recently that, since I did relatively well on the written portion of it in June, that I’ll probably have less questions to answer next Wednesday. I’m just ready to have that done so I can start working on sheet music transcriptions again. I just checked the guestbook so I know someone is waiting for Revival from Tales of Symphonia… (I have to say my memory of that game is hazy, but the soundtrack is fun, I guess…)

So I’m posting because I don’t want to read my paper and I guess I feel less guilty if I spend a few minutes typing here. Plus, I somehow lost the .exe of the sheet music program I was using before and so I can’t open up my old files. I’m trying to figure out still how much I want to splurge on a sheet music program and if I want to use a different one. Finale has some limitations, though it is what I am used to.

While studying these past few months I’ve put on videogame soundtracks and realized that I want to replay Final Fantasy IX. I’m guessing because I listened to so much FFIX music that the game got stuck in my head, but the music isn’t that good. It is relatively simple (I came to this realization that Nobuo Uematsu’s music is usually better when it’s “simple” thus FFVI music being awesome) and I keep thinking that I’ll do more of it because it’s nice to have some quick gratification instead of hours laboring over one song. Then I remind myself that it’s the lazy bum’s route and while I am a lazy bum, I shouldn’t always be one. I might do a few to get my ears warmed back up again after such a long layoff from transcription by ear. You’ll see, hopefully in January 🙂

I’ve also majorly distracted myself at times by livestreaming college volleyball and soccer. It’s tournament time for these two sports so I have the livestream rolling while I pretend to study figures. I wonder if I learn anything during those times. Whatever 🙂

I’ve also gotten back into a side project, which is replaying the Suikoden games and typing up interesting lines. I am playing Suikoden 1 right now and the dialogue feels a bit weird. Back then, videogame characters sure talked strangely at least in the US versions of games. It was probably a combination of bad translations and not quite as much emphasis put on polishing up the speech. I’m glad the translation issue has been mostly resolved, since I still play mostly JRPGs. I have such a laundry list of languages I want to learn, so Japanese keeps being pushed further and further down the list…