December 17, 2017

Xenoblade 1 vs 2 Quick Comparison (Personal Opinions)

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 11:23 pm by riulyn

Xenoblade 1 wins over 2

  • Characters and story impact. Main characters are better in 1 for sure. Especially the main character, but the overall cast as well is a bit too “shonen jump cast”. “Villains” are about even, though more tropey in 2. The story has more tropey elements in 2, though I think it was intentional as the director was saying it was a “boy meets girl”, “simple” story.
  • World building. Maybe because the game came out first, but the first game’s world building made more of an impression and had less hand-waving. At least that’s how I saw it.
  • Music. I like the music a bit more in the first than the second Xenoblade. Both have great soundtracks and I will definitely be in the hunt for a Xenoblade 2 OST once it releases.
  • World map design. Sure, I got lost at times in Xenoblade 1, but something about the maps and the verticality and the arrow button indicating where to go was just not as good in Xenoblade 2. At least for me.

Xenoblade 2 wins over 1

  • Story pacing. The chapter format allows for a more swelling of action into cool boss moments.
  • “Xeno-ness”. Lots of cutscenes, especially later. Really reminds me of Xenosaga. Xenoblade 2 felt like Xenoblade 1 x Xenosaga at times.
  • Quests. The sidequests are much improved in Xenoblade 2. Getting blades that you can get story quests for is nice. Less lame “kill this monster for me ok cool thanks” quests. Not many had twists like Nier quests, but a good number were not straightforward from beginning to end.
  • Graphics. Gosh it is hard to look at Xenoblade 1’s in-game art after Xenoblade 2’s. Also feel like characters are animated quite well, especially Tora!

Overall Xenoblade 1 is still my preferred Xenoblade game, but I easily put 100 hours into Xenoblade 2 in about 10 days. I just couldn’t put the game down! Basically I forced myself to stop playing because I want to replay Tokyo Xanadu (with the eX+ version now in my hands). Switch games are really starting to pile up, but still many are ports. Need a beautiful Fire Emblem game on Switch next, I think…

Advertisements

December 29, 2013

2013 Wrap-Up

Posted in video games tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:19 pm by riulyn

2013 was quite a fast year for me, probably because I spent so many hours gaming 😀 They were many good hours, which I hope to continue with next year. So my personal 2013 game awards are as follows:

Best game that I beat in 2013 – Xenoblade Chronicles (honorable mention Persona 4 Golden)
I think I have enough posts on how much I love Xenoblade Chronicles. If I could accurately dictate why I loved the game so much, I think I would be able to write a good fanfic out of it at least. Persona 4 was quite the challenger, but maybe because I didn’t get the powerful true/great/whatever ending, I find that the end just comes and it left with a bit of a unsatisfactory taste. Anyway, Xenoblade for me had a great mix of interesting places and lore to explore, relationships to develop everywhere (and I think I liked “matchmaking” as my team more than being the center of everything as is the case more for Persona games), and a plot that moves at a good pace most of the time with some very crazy and some very emotionally moving segments.

Best game that I replayed in 2013 – Suikoden II (honorable mention Suikoden V)
I probably don’t need to write this section, do I? I love Suikoden games too much.

Worst game that I beat in 2013 – Lufia 2: Curse of the Sinistrals (honorable mention Magna Carta: Tears of Blood)
I knew Lufia 2: Curse of the Sinistrals was going to be a bad game, but I already bought it and figured I should beat it anyway. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t play it; the puzzles weren’t bad per se. The game tried to be too serious and too funny at the same time, doing a worse job than Star Ocean IV with this. It somehow felt more compressed compared to the original and most of the relationships between people (esp. the romances) were portrayed horribly. In addition I never really liked the action controls. I abused the retry and level boost, finding myself not caring enough to figure out the controls completely.
Magna Carta deserves a write-up for being a game that makes you do way too much repeated backtracking just so your characters can be at reasonable levels in the late game. There are many issues with the battle system which I’ve written about before. What saves this game from being the absolute bottom is a background lore and Yason dealings that were decently interesting. The way the story ended up being told, though, was quite inefficient. If many of the gameplay issues are resolved in the sequel, then I can see myself really enjoying Magna Carta 2.

Favorite game that I beat that was released in 2013 – Ys: Memories of Celceta (honorable mention Tales of Xillia)
I beat a good mix of turn-based, tactical, and action RPGs this year and action RPGs ended up being my favorite. Ys IV gets the top spot for being so crazily fun. The battle system is improved upon Ys Seven’s with a fun synthesis system added on. Characters are a bit sharper and smarter than in Ys Seven, the pacing is great, and map-making is both fun and story relevant. Tales of Xillia gets honorable mention because it takes too long to get to the good stuff. The good stuff is really good though, and the battle system beats that of Tales of Graces f for me due to Linked Artes. I highly anticipate Tales of Xillia 2 due to the way the first game ended; at the same time that means I don’t end up rating Tales of Xillia as highly due to that not so satisfactory finish.

Game that I beat in 2013 that surpassed my expectations the most – Shadow Hearts (honorable mention Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter)
I’ve already mentioned in previous posts how Shadow Hearts games were something I knew of but never wandered into. The early 2000s was filled with RPGs from everywhere, and I was still playing a decent number of PS1 games in the PS2 era. However, I knew enough people who liked Shadow Hearts and I figured that I like most games so I’d enjoy Shadow Hearts too. What I didn’t expect was how charmed I would be by the game. Yuri was more obviously a character that I would like from the beginning, but Alice was also amazingly charming. I liked the battle system more than I expected to as well. I already knew the music was good but it fits with the game ridiculously well.
Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter began with a frustrating start and it was hard to have expectations for this polarizing game. Even so, it seemed like it would be light on the story and be more about the battle system at first. The amount of depth and care in the presentation really took me by surprise. It’s hard for me to really, really enjoy a game that made me stress out while playing it, but I can definitely appreciate how it was put together.

Game that I beat in 2013 that fell short of my expectations the most – Shining Hearts (honorable mention Lufia 2: Curse of the Sinistrals)
I heard Shining games were good. I heard Shining Hearts was good fun. I did not hear just how annoying the battles could be. I didn’t think such a “fun” game would have such a bad plot. I didn’t think the other characters were that great; they definitely get more interesting if you do their sidequests, but they still felt mostly one-dimensional and not a mix of good tropes like Tales characters. Of course if I had looked more into Shining Hearts before I played it I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.
On the other hand, I already knew how bad Lufia 2: Curse of the Sinistrals was for most people. Still, I thought people might have been exaggerating their issues with the plot bastardization since the original’s plot wasn’t amazing either. Also I didn’t expect myself to find myself mostly at odds with the battle system (though those skills for puzzles weren’t so bad, since it didn’t involve chaining attacks). At least the music didn’t disappoint.

Best soundtrack (from games I beat in 2013) – Xenoblade Chronicles (honorable mention Muramasa Rebirth)
I can’t think of a single bad song on either Xenoblade’s or Muramasa’s soundtracks. Xenoblade’s soundtrack has some of the most beautiful songs for locations and some of the most sweeping songs for important moments. Almost all the battle themes kick ass as well. The soundtrack is just so beautiful. Muramasa’s soundtrack is more unified with amazing instrumentation for their melodic Japanese with a twist music, but I would have loved to have just a few more tracks. Then again, the game is a bit short and the emotional punches aren’t quite there compared to Xenoblade, so in a sense there’s no reason for the game to have so much music. I think the Xenoblade and Muramasa soundtracks highlight my bias towards catchy melodies with long enough (30 sec+ I think) loops; Persona and some Tales music will loop too quickly while Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and later FF soundtracks tend to have less emphasis on melodies. Still, I enjoyed many games with great music this year; music definitely was not an issue for me.

Here are some other stats for the year:

  • Game that took me the least hours to beat in 2013 – Ys I
  • Game that took me the most hours to beat in 2013 – Xenoblade Chronicles (honorable mention Fire Emblem Awakening)
  • Total games beaten in 2013 – 28 (1 in Japanese)
  • Total games purchased in 2013 – 53 (darn you Steam sale and all those last minute Japanese games)

This was certainly a backlog-expanding year, but I also got to play many different types of games, including my first forays into SMT, Shadow Hearts, Breath of Fire, Ace Attorney, otome, and Atelier games. I certainly feel more like a JRPG veteran than I did just a year ago and I feel blessed that I can continue to find a variety of fresh experiences in my backlog. My Japanese knowledge continues to improve but the localization market still seems healthy enough to get most of the big releases. I think next year can be another good year of gaming (even if I don’t buy so many games), and I’ll let you know my goals in the next post.

December 2, 2013

5 of my favorite JRPG “bromances”

Posted in video games tagged , , , , , , at 10:22 am by riulyn

I’m limiting it to 1 per series, or this entire list would be Suikoden ones 😀

1. Viktor & Flik (Suikoden 1 & 2 and Suikogaidens). This is the life partnership/bromance/etc. that any classic Suikoden fan thinks of when the topic is brought up, and it’s my favorite from the Suikoden series. It doesn’t hurt that their relationship is featured quite a bit in the main scripts of Suikoden 1 & 2. For me, the relationship between Viktor and Flik combines a good amount of teasing, bragging, and serious emotional understanding/support of each other when those times are necessary. Also, the bath scripts involving these 2 are classic.

2. Shulk & Reyn (Xenoblade Chronicles). This friendship has the added charm of watching Shulk and Reyn grow both physically and emotionally more capable over the course of the game. They both get better at expressing their doubts and relying on each other, despite the whole “vulnerable feeling” these actions may sometimes bring. It’s a feel-good, support for life type of friendship.

3. Sora & Riku (Kingdom Hearts series). This friendship highlights trust/belief (esp. Sora) and protectiveness (esp. Riku) of one’s friends. Also, despite a potential love triangle involving Kairi, I find the Sora/Riku to be the strongest of the three sides (and their relationship is sort of ambiguously romantic/platonic).

4. Adol & Dogi (Ys series). I love this friendship because Adol gets himself into a lot of trouble while traveling (Adol is a trouble magnet for sure) and instead of being overly protective/restrictive, Dogi rather teasingly scolds Adol for being so troublesome. Dogi is really like an older brother to Adol.

5. Yuri & Flynn (Tales of Vesperia). Most male friendships in JRPGs (and many other media) involve a rivalry of some sort, and Yuri and Flynn are no exception. This friendship stands out in my mind particularly because despite having strikingly different philosophies towards justice/honor/etc., they believe in each other as good people. They don’t really actively rely on each other since the rivalry mentality makes them want to look “cool” in front of each other, but they know each other so well that they try their best to cover for each other’s weaknesses.

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.

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.

Suikoden

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.

March 26, 2013

Xenotastic!

Posted in video games tagged , at 10:22 am by riulyn

On Sunday, I finished up my first run through Xenoblade. It was more like I decided that it was about time to see the ending because I need my Wii for Okami next month. Also, Last Story and Pandora’s Tower will be waiting.

I’ve focused more on gameplay in my last few posts on Xenoblade, but today I will talk about it’s story with as few spoilers as possible. It’s actually kind of hard to say anything about this game without feeling like it’s a spoiler, so if you are a sensitive type, turn away now! I’ve warned you! (And go play the game :D)

Xenoblade is very Xeno and its Xeno goodness is great. But it feels less “Xeno” than Xenosaga or Xenogears in two ways. First, it feels less technology-based. There is technology but it doesn’t feel as advanced. There aren’t many ships for travel or even gear-like Mechon and there’s no space travel. And nope, you don’t get to pilot a gear (but maybe in X you will). Second, the game isn’t as much of a mind-screw. It’s actually a very straight-forward game, not in a predictable sense, but in that you don’t need to consult a Perfect Works guide to figure out what is going on and what terms mean and you don’t need to study philosophy or religion. The game impresses more with the characters and their relationships than with the overarching plot. Even the reveals towards the end feel rather tame compared to previous Xeno games, and the morality actually feels more black and white than grey.

Xenoblade is still great for Xeno fans, I think. There are similar character types, a plot that might actually be more generic than the other Xeno games but still has plenty of “only Testuya Takahashi would do this” flavor to it, and great music. Xenoblade is also more accessible to non Xeno fans not only because it’s the most recent game but also due to it being a rather straightforward game with pretty straightforward characters. I think they are easier to relate to, but it also makes them not as interesting as previous Xeno characters.

Overall I loved (obviously) this game. I can’t wait to new game+ the game just to see the plot again. I think this game slides into my top RPGs that I’ve played at spot #3 behind Xenogears and Suikoden II. I plan to replay Suikoden II in April so I will see whether it truly stands above Xenoblade in my mind.

Edit: I had no idea I actually previously ranked my favorite games as Suikoden 2 at #1 and Xenogears at #2. Those games tend to flip-flop places in my mind all the time, and both are great games for different reasons. Take home message is to play all the games!

March 18, 2013

Xenoblade – Easing my way into side content

Posted in video games tagged , , at 3:56 pm by riulyn

If you have paid any attention to Xenoblade, you will know that this game is massive. I’m over 130 hours in it at this point, and every time I get myself nearer to completing my current quest list, I pick up 2 more. For me that’s not a problem since I’ll keep doing quests and battling until I get max affinity for everyone. The final boss will be easy-peasy once I get to him, though, since I skipped my way out and gained like 10 levels since Dunban asked me if I was ready. I’ll probably have 5-10 more before I’m done with what I want, since learning more about the Giants is on my list, and the monsters in the way are still “beating me good”.

To be honest, when I started playing Xenoblade I figured “Oh I’ll just play for the story”. Since I knew I wasn’t going to finish the game before Christmas break, I decided once I finished a major plot point sort of near halfway into the game that I’d start doing quests and exploring more of the world. It didn’t feel tedious at all, strangely, for two reasons.

1. Gorgeous world + gorgeous music. I didn’t mind just swimming around Eryth Sea just to flesh out my map and find new areas. The exp. bonus is nice but not even required for this unexpected fun in just finding more places. Skip travel is very convenient too; it’s easy to get pretty close to the area you were about to explore but ran away from because the monsters there were too hard. Of course having skip travel to every location would have been awesomer, but probably a pain in the ass to implement since the world is so huge.

2. Quests have sizeable reward collectively. Once you get enough affinity (usually after doing enough “bash enemy” quests), the quests start to become more personal. In a way it got a bit more annoying as you had to find people at the right time and place, but you get to change relationships. You also got to learn more about the traditions of different races. Frontier Village is a pain to run around, but I think a lot of the Nopon stuff was pretty interesting. Also I want to learn more about the past. Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks Xenoblade might have overkilled on the number of quests. I don’t mind that it takes some affinity to unlock personal quests; just maybe make the affinity rise faster and get rid of all the quests by unnamed people.

World-exploring and side quests are things in a lot of other RPGs but for some reason I never did many of them until now. It is possible that a faltering in Xenoblade’s story could have allowed me to be distracted, but I think it’s more that Xenoblade makes world exploring and side quests easy and fast, and the rewards are well worth it.

February 22, 2013

Geneal Update – Fire Emblem: Awakening Happened

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 11:32 am by riulyn

And now I don’t post as often as I did before 🙂 Well, I have also had a few other things increase in my life besides games, like a few more “social links” and some Java class stuff. Did pretty good on that midterm but I’m no programming genius, so I’m not jumping ship on careers yet.

Still, my personal life sucks so let’s continue to talk about games! Like the Fire Emblem: Awakening 3DS bundle finally making it into my hands. Progress is slow as a few other games have priority over it, but I’m playing on Hard/Casual which makes me think but I’m sure I’ll let a unit “die” on the battlefield at some point. Mostly I’ve been abusing the in-game save capability, not only to go back a turn or two to make sure my dainty mages don’t die but also sometimes to make sure an action produces those hearts. Yes, I’m a bit too obsessed with increasing support.

I’m playing as a female and I’ve already married Chrom at the end of Chapter 6. I didn’t realize that the love confessions meant marriage. And I’m probably locked out of the other S convos… At least there is no lame 5-support limit like in Sacred Stones. Unless this game has some amazing plot, I don’t think I’m playing through the plot 10+ times.  I will grind my people so they can class change and all love each other and it can be an orgy…if the game allowed it 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. I got a little too cocky and careless and so my D Counter is higher than it should be, but not enough to prevent me from finishing the game. Also, I allowed some CrushedHearts to wipe me out recently. Either way, with 3 restarts on my file I believe I’m not missing any scenes except for cleared data scenes. I’m not sure I’ll play this game again, to be honest. I like it and hate it; I enjoy some of the strategy but it also feels quite stressful. The colors aren’t great and the plot is decent but not amazing (to me). There’s bonus/challenge dungeons and stuff but I have a large PS2 backlog which may grow once I splurge on Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts: From the New World. And there’s also the Drakengard games, Ar Tonelico, Odin Sphere, Rogue Galaxy…amazing the number of PS2 games.

I’ve also made progress in Xenoblade, but once again doing quests as I know the end is coming and I want to unlock more Heart to Hearts. I will put the hammer down by the end of March, though, since the RPGamer marathon game for April is Okami and I’ll need that Wii. Plus the Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, and Skies of Arcadia Legends (I have a backwards-compatible Wii) are waiting.

Lastly, I’ve made some great progress in Shining Hearts and I think it’s actually a pretty good game for an upper beginner Japanese learner like I am. Lots of features which makes it easy to continue on in the story even if you don’t exactly know what happened. Spell names and bread names are “English” in katakana. There have been only two main instances where I had no clue whatsoever what just happened, and I’m sure I’m nearing the end of this game. Which is good, since I’ll have Ys games to play on the PSP and Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki is coming to my house soon.

I’m pretty bummed that I missed out on the Amazon deal for the 250 GB PS3 but I think I’ll be getting that sometime between April and August. When I’ll actually use it…October so I can replay Xenogears? I have games for the PS3 but not the time…yet.

November 29, 2012

Xenoblade Chronicles

Posted in video games tagged , at 3:50 pm by riulyn

I’m not sure what to say. There’s something very addictive about this game. There’s just so much going on, so much you can do, even at the beginning of the game. The fact that you are freaking exploring the world that exists on top of an ancient robot like it’s the most normal thing in the world. The fact that most battles are quick, avoidable, and scary enemies are all over the place. The fact that there is so much treasure. The fact that the world is huge but there is this awesome thing called skipping that can teleport you if you don’t want to crush monsters and gather treasure on your way around. The fact that the music is awesome.

I don’t think I hyped this game for myself. I really tried not to. But I really wanted to love this game because I convinced my brother to give me his Wii for this game. Because other people loved the game and I wanted to love it to. It’s just so great when you can be satisfied like this.

I’ve decided not to rush through the game and go for about 10-20 hours/week. The only unfortunate happening is being away from the game around Christmas time. I will need to hold back a bit so I don’t die of desire to finish off the game. Maybe when I’m home I’ll finish off Persona 3 Portable run #1. My psp backlog is long after all.

The only downside to Xenoblade-ing right now – I completely dropped the ball on my Suikoden Day stuff. Maybe I’ll get a Suikoden 2 sheet done tonight, but I had much bigger plans…