Archive for Game Reviews

Paladin’s Quest Review

In the vein of games like Arcana and 7th Saga, I picked up a copy of Paladin’s Quest.  Unlike the former two, I find Paladin’s Quest to be quite tolerable in difficulty, if unintuitive.  All three have their strong points, but PQ is by far the most playable.

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Some thoughts on 7th Saga

I’m not sure I can call this a “review”, but I do want to write down a few things about the much-maligned (and rightly so!) 7th Saga.

First off – it is a difficult game, but only in its form as The 7th Saga.  The 7th Saga is a cruel, unforgiving grind-fest of a game which will offer only a few lines of dialogue for every hour of wasting time fighting the same enemies over and over.  I spent 16 hours trying to play this game in its “original” US format, and I got perhaps a third of the way through.  More than ten hours were spent not trying to progress – not even exploring, or side-questing, or talking to villagers – merely trying to survive in the new area where suddenly I was once again in grave danger of dying in every single battle.

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Review – The Last Remnant

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about The Last Remnant.  On the one hand, its Akitoshi Kawazu pedigree shines through, with an incredibly nuanced battle system that never fully makes up for its terrible plot.  On the other hand, that battle system is really very good and worth playing the game for on its own, it’s just that the plot was made even worse – seemingly deliberately – to balance things out.

Kawazu has a long history of working on the SaGa games, and it is entirely reasonable to call TLR a stealth entry in the series, since it has many of the hallmarks.  Aside from standard battle system/plot dichotomy, there’s a wonderfully imaginative world that very little is actually done with, entertaining side characters that never really break into the third dimension, incredibly good music that has only bits and pieces of substance to go with, and enough sidequests to deliberately avoid the main story for hour on end.  Atmosphere is fed in small spoonfuls for completing hour-long quests, while stat increases are passed out like candy on Halloween after every single battle.

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Review – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

I’ve heard many a tale of the popularity of Sora no Kiseki in Japan, but I had pretty much given up hope of seeing it in English barring a fan translation.  Given the sheer size of the series, fan translation itself would have been highly unlikely as well.  Luckily, XSeed has got our collective RPG-loving backs.  Despite the PSP’s near-dead status, they’ve committed to bringing over all three of the games in the series.  Now that I’ve finished the first one, I can confirm that it’s not just an impressive game, it’ll be an impressive series.

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GotM – Recettear

Shop sims have always interested me. A long, long time ago (I was… well, let’s just say this was around ’92), I was fascinated by an edutainment store simulator I remember only as “Bentley Bear’s Store”. I would play this game nonstop when I would get a chance, at a computer learning camp I attended through early elementary school. (Googling does not bring up the game, although it does indicate Bentley Bear was the main character in Crystal Castles – no help).

In this ancient shop simulation, you would buy various items (clothes, appliances, and so on) at a base price, and sell these items at a markup, arranging them in your store to draw in customers. You could even visit the nearby department huge store to view their prices, and undercut them slightly to draw in more people. I think there was even an initial debt to repay.

After I stopped going to that computer camp, I simply stopped playing the game. It was sort of interesting, but back then the internet was a mere fledgling of what it is now, and I doubt that the halls of AOL or Compuserve would have had any information on it regardless.

Recettear is the modern Bentley Bear’s Store. Known long-form as “An Item Shop’s Tale”, Recettear is the poster child for translation of Japanese indie (often called “doujin”) games. Much like the store-sim game of my youth, in Recettear you purchase items from either a Guild Shop or the global Marketplace, and sell them at a negotiated markup (that markup often depending upon the willingness of the customer in question to haggle). You arrange them in the store in such a way as to draw in customers, and later you can even design the walls, floor, and counters of your store to attract specific kinds.

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