Archive for 2007

On the run from the law…s of physics.

I’ve been playing WA5 recently, having beaten P3.

I was skeptical at first.  WA4 was ridiculously easy and horribly short.  (I think the final boss could be beaten in 2-3 rounds, without trying, and the whole game was maybe 20 hours and a bit of change).

WA5 uses the same engine, and has several of the same characteristics (such as an incredibly annoying main character and a more action-based exploration system).   The engine’s hex-based and, also annoyingly, got rid of the Encounter Cancel system from WA2/3/F which made those games so nice.

Yet, somehow, despite the fact that it’s pretty much the same battle system, I’m enjoying it more.  They even got rid of one of the few redeeming features of WA4 (namely the giant character portraits that danced around the screen during plot scenes).  But I’m still liking it; it’s a decently tough game, with a few memorable characters.  Still rather cliched, but the characters are all decently fleshed out.  I’m even finding myself liking Rebecca some, and Greg is pretty much how Jack should’ve been done – a very dark character.  While they both have revenge as their main goal, Jack really doesn’t talk about it – at all – except when he confronts the demons (I think he mentions it twice?).  Sure, he hunts for the “Ultimate Power”, but he doesn’t say what he’s going to do with it much.

Anyway, yeah.  The difficulty level from the first couple games is back.  I don’t like how they did it (namely by making all magic spells cost a hell of a lot), and it’s still unbalanced (you heal HP to full after every battle, and Force moves are way overpowered), but it’s decent.  At this point there are a half-dozen PS2 RPGs I’d recommend over it, but I’m not done with it yet.  This game’s surprised me before and it may well again – and after all, Persona 3 is good at first, but it doesn’t really pick up until almost halfway through.

Other than WA5, I have picked up a copy each of God Hand and Lumines Plus.  GH is good fun – a simple-seeming, tough brawler.  Nothing really deep to it yet, but it takes a lot of skill to make it through.  For example, I continued 15 times in the first set of areas (about 2-3 hours of gameplay), but I *still* got a bonus for the number of continues I’d used.

Lumines Plus is a very soothing game.  All techno and puzzle.  When I start playing it, I find it hard to stop, honestly.  It’s quite immersive, but I haven’t played it a whole lot yet.


So it’s pretty good.

Beat Persona 3 yesterday. It’s good, but I’m sort of drained. The plot’s really intense, especially at the end. Don’t want to spoil anything, though, since some of my few readers have yet to beat it (and one of them had better do so! you know who you are). I’ll have a review on vl by the end of the week at latest.

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As a phoenix, I rise from the ashes… dust off my wings, and start burning again

Labor Day weekend, I got a lot of stuff done I’d been meaning to.  Among those things was a translation of the script of the NES game Akira, which I’d been gradually working on for nearly 3 months.

My Japanese has been getting rusty for a while, and I didn’t know if I had the willpower to start anything new for a while.

Then, one of my fellow writers, hearing I had finished a translation project, mentioned a game to me.  Curious, I looked it over… and it captured my soul.  The game is 1999: Hore, Mitakotoka! Seikimatsu, for the NES.  Basically, it’s a Japanese game of Life with an eventual goal of stopping aliens from taking over the world.

By coincidence, danke, the guy who is working on the hacking side of Akira, had looked at the game before and was more than willing to help out with the hacking of 1999.  Tyson, the writer who asked me about it, is more familiar with spoken Japanese than I, and will probably be better with the casual stuff in 1999 than me.  So it looks like it’s in good shape, I just need to find a good part of it to work on…

I also started another game of the Mount&Blade mod The Last Days, based on (the books of course) Tolkien’s LOTR.  Mount&Blade is an excellent engine – no single action/RPG/strategy can surpass it.  TLD is an incredible mod, bringing the minor skirmishes of “vanilla” M&B up a few notches to the grand warfare of Middle-Earth.  My only complaint is that it’s hard as hell, but that’s sort of the idea.

Also, I’m 40 hours into Persona 3.  I wasn’t really into the plot – it’s a little too grandiose to break it down into manageable chunks.  The atmosphere has been great since the beginning, but the plot seems a little… well, distant.

That changed on Friday.  Man, did it change.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more well-done set of scenes in a game before.


I post every so often

So the last half of last week, I took a plane trip home, ran around a bunch of places, had about 30 minutes of free time, slept some, and came back Sunday night.

I’m still feeling pretty exhausted.  Since I didn’t play any games (well, ~20 minutes of Smash Bros), here are a few observations.

  • People in groups can be inconsiderate normally, but if you put them in an airport they will surprise you with their blatant disregard for both other people and for their own brain.
  • Pianos are pretty damn cool.  Few other instruments can create such a variety of good music solo.
  • Getting a “real” job really helps your confidence when talking to people.
  • It feels good to compliment someone who deserves it in a public forum.
  • Never realized how rare it is to meet someone who’s made it through high school and still has an interest in math and science.  I mean, it’s nice enough to “be” a rare commodity, but… if we keep this pace up, the economy’s going to hell in a handbasket.

I was actually hoping to start the campaign of Kohan, since I really enjoy doing that every so often, but no use complaining about that.  Now I can play Persona 3, there’s not much reason to go for that.   Plus, Wild Arms 5 comes out tomorrow, and I still have this really nifty new computer I can play games on.  Now, if I can only find the time…


Persona 3 rocks my world.

I was skeptical at first.  I would sit back and watch reviews, I figured.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Oh, I was positive about Rogue Galaxy.  I enjoyed starting Final Fantasy XII.  But no game in the past year has hit me quite as hard as Persona 3 has.

Persona 3 continues the first game’s “high school cool” – high school students trying to figure out what’s going on in a world filled with the unknown – but also retains the school social element, which the first one lacked.

Social interactions in this game are entertaining.  They’re just detailed enough to be fun without getting overly involved, and none have really felt contrived so far.

The battle system is simple yet strategic.  It has many, many less things to worry about compared to the first game – in this one, you only control the main character, the status effects are less varied, and position doesn’t matter.  Somehow it retains a strong strategic element, particularly when it comes to a choice of persona.  Elemental weaknesses are king in this game, which keeps the simplicity of the system from making one bored.

And the atmosphere… is amazing, as it was with the first two games.  There is a keen sense of place throughout the game, which follows through from the localization (one thing, though – they kept all Japanese ‘titles’, for lack of a better word – -san, -kun,  and -tan have reared their faces… I don’t mind too much, but it may confuse some).  There isn’t quite the world-gone-horribly-wrong feeling of the first, nor the kinda-weird-stuff-but-still-okay of the second – it’s more of a “really weird stuff is going on, but nobody else can know!” feeling.  It’s cool, but it doesn’t really come through to the social interaction bits of the game so far, so it hasn’t “hit home”, so to speak.

And I’m only 5 hours in!  If only I could actually keep playing it over the next few days…