Archive for 2008

Grandia 2 wrap-up

I wanted to consolidate my thoughts about Grandia 2 in one place before I go on to the next topic, so here goes.

Grandia 2 starts out quick and is really a great game for about 15 hours.  At around that point, there have been a few interesting subplots, including (to my mind) the best one (“the Eye”), which is both vaguely creepy and depressing.  Neither is done often in JRPGs, and in Grandia 2, they are done well with supporting and main characters feeling quite real.

Likewise, combat at that point is both swift and challenging.  Bosses are tough, and even regular enemies will wear your party down after a while.  The Eye in particular is tricky and satisfying to defeat.

Unfortunately, at that point the game begins to degrade.  Ryudo’s one-liners are still enjoyable, and he is among my favorite non-silent main characters… but the rest of the party becomes somewhat cliche.  Roan deserves mention for at least having an interesting struggle with himself in his subplot, but nobody else has any particularly redeeming development.

Things begin to slow down in battles, too.  Bosses become increasingly easy, and regular enemies are a joke – in the final dungeons, every normal battle can be finished with a single super-move, making each battle just 20 seconds of load-watch-super-move-end.  The end plot points are, naturally (it being a Game Arts game – both Lunars and Grandia 1 did the same) quite cliche, and would be nigh painful if Ryudo didn’t say something offbeat every so often.

Is it worth a play?  Certainly.  I’d say it’s in the upper half of PS2 RPGs.  It’s still good fun, but it does become rather tedious.


Grandia II, among other things

Few more Game-y things:

Over the trip I finished Final Fantasy IV DS and Advance Wars DS.  I was impressed with both, however:

  • FFIV has a tendency to slow down around 15 hours in.  This should be familiar to those who played the original (particularly the PSX remake, since it was the original difficulty).  You can Slow every enemy in the game, bosses included, which is the only winning strategy against most.  Augments make the game more interesting, but ultimately it is still FFIV with a more verbose plot, better graphics, and some other minor improvements.
  • Advance Wars DS has a RPG-ish leveling system, but it is effectively “boundless” (i.e. you can “grind” on stages outside of the campaign).  It’s a cool system, skill-based and all, but the later COs are impossible to keep up with your originals.

I have, since getting back, started in on Grandia II for the first time.  As it stands, it is so far beyond the first game, both in terms of characters and situations, that I’m really enjoying it.  Some of the subplots are really well done – one in particular was highly depressing (something that I so rarely see, but I’ve always enjoyed – I don’t see why stories always need to be happy).  I have been told that the battle system will become less enjoyable, but honestly – every so often, it’s fun to play a game that tries to do cliches well, instead of tripping all over itself trying to avoid cliche.


Japan Trip etc

Been a while!

Figured I’d post up a few pictures here, if nothing else.  Click on the “more” too see ’em, along with a description of the trip.

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And… off!

I recently picked up a Dreamcast and a copy of Shenmue.  I’d been planning on trying the Shenmue games for a while now, and finally got a chance.  The first is great in its own way – in some ways, it’s great for precisely the same reasons that it’s tedious.  I would recommend it for anybody who can tolerate a game that moves slowly.  I think I’m almost through the first game, but it looks like I won’t be able to finish it for a while.

In about 20 minutes, I’ll be leaving for the airport.  I’m headed on a trip to Japan.

Long time in the planning, but now that I think about it… there’s nothing in particular I want to see – just want to be there again, and have the chance to explore.  Sure, I’ll be looking for cool stuff – but the simple chance to get away from the routine (much as I enjoy routines) will be nice.  To say nothing of the appeal of the trip.  Japan is foreign and yet familiar, and (one of the themes in Shenmue, coincidentally) contains a culture centuries old that coexists with and is offset by one of the most consumerist, modern cultures on the planet.  It doesn’t do either halfway, either – nothing seems to be halfway there.  It’s a place of extremes.  That’s not to say it’s entirely a good thing… but it is certainly different from the usual.

I’ll be back, hopefully with more pictures and other goodness, at the beginning of September.

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Parasite Eve: Short and sweet

Over the past week, I played through Parasite Eve.  I’d played through it years ago, but only remembered a couple of the scenes and areas.  Now that it’s fresher in my mind, it’s a game that’s largely impressive, but has some issues here and there.

First, the game really is cinematic.  It makes great use of perspective, like the Resident Evil games, except in PE a sudden shift in perspective won’t kill you.  It has a great realistic ambiance and feel to it despite the fact that its premise is campy and the “engine” abandons any sense of realism (i.e. kill a rat, get 6 bullets, kill a T-Rex, get a nice pistol).  Whereas RE, Doom, and the like tend to go for cheap “shocks”, PE follows the footsteps of the System Shocks by generating an atmosphere of menace.  Its puzzles are likewise more realistic – instead of finding a key lying on the ground in a room, you might find it in a desk, or on a corpse – there’s a motivation to search everything that might contain something.

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