Archive for Game Reviews

Now a true RPG fan!

It’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve been shoring up some of the other pages (creating an HTML version of the FFL2 FAQ in honor of SaGa2 DS and updating the Destiny of an Editor section to reflect more recent work).

I have also been playing one of the most popular RPG “classics” of our recently departed generation: Final Fantasy X.  This, no doubt, will give me the internet equivalent of street cred and my blog will now overflow with posts debating whether Sephiroth is the best villain ever.  My review follows.

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Tales of Symphonia

My friends have recommended this game to me many times, but I only just now got around to playing it due to the imminent release of Tales of Symphonia 2: Dawn of the New World.

Tales of Symphonia reminds me of Growlanser: Heritage of War for several reasons.  First is that the characters seem horribly cliched at first glance.  Second is that combat is almost unbelievably smooth; very, very few RPGs get this right, and ToS has pretty much no down-time (no loading time, no gameplay freezes during battle over .5s, easy controls).  Third is that the ToS world is full of intrigue and certain NPCs switch sides at least three times – when they don’t actively admit they’re working towards three different goals.  Fourth is that, sadly, I may forget this game before too long because the experience is almost too smooth.

But it really surpasses G:HOW in many respects.  The characters are actually pretty deep, and I found myself liking all of them (except Zelos, of course; nobody likes Zelos.  I suppose Genis gets a “meh” as well).  ToS has the JRPG standard where you explore the entire world and solve everybody’s problems.  In this respect it’s cliche; in the way that sometimes people die, and they’re not always bad people, it is not.  ToS also has good music, more balanced combat, and a much more enjoyable story.

All in all, a good game with a few flaws.  Some of the puzzles in dungeons are really annoying – not in the “hard-to-solve” way but rather the “why did they force me to do the same sequence 5 times” way.  AI is occasionally sketchy, but generally at least decent.  Difficulty is fairly well-balanced.  I lost a few boss battles along the way, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a team reorganization and a bit more planning.

Tales of Symphonia is highly derivative of Tales of Destiny 2 (Tales of Eternia, for those “in the know”) plot-wise but does just about everything better.  I would particularly recommend it for someone who hasn’t played any of the Tales series before.  It’s a really polished Action RPG, even if it does everything you’d expect from a JRPG.

I’m looking forward to Dawn of the New World.


Suikoden I-V Wrap-up

Suikoden 1: Graphics: 6/10 Sound: 8/10 Gameplay: 8/10 Story: 8/10 Translation: 8/10 Overall: 7.8/10

Suikoden 2: Graphics: 8.5/10 Sound: 8.5/10 Gameplay: 9/10 Story: 9.5/10 Translation: 6.5/10 Overall: 9.4/10

Suikoden 3: Graphics: 9/10 Sound: 6/10 Gameplay: 9/10 Story: 9.8/10 Translation: 9/10 Overall: 9/10

Suikoden 4: Graphics: 9/10 Sound: 8/10 Gameplay: 6/10 Story: 7/10 Translation: 8.5/10 Overall: 7/10

Suikoden 5: Graphics: 7/10 Sound: 9/10 Gameplay: 9.5/10 Story: 9.3/10 Translation: 10/10 Overall: 9.3/10

This is going to be an unusual review in that I’m looking at a whole series. I’ll mention briefly the overall themes, then describe each game in turn.

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Destiny of an Emperor Review

Overall: 9.1 Graphics: 8.0 Sound: 8.4 Theme: 9.5 Translation: 7.8
Note all values are relative to the system

Although not many RPGs were released for the NES, this one’s a gem. Compared to the “traditionalist” games, it has several more features, including character portraits, over 100 recruitable characters, a variable party system, several dozen different ‘tactics’, most of which have different effects… the list goes on. Although translation can be a little shaky, and there are some frustrations in the game, it manages to be a rewarding – and perhaps educational – experience.

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Warsong Review

Graphics: 8/10 Sound: 9/10 Gameplay: 9.5/10 Translation: 8/10 Overall: 9.2/10

Once, a very long time ago, I rented a Sega Genesis game on a whim. I knew the system had some good games, and this one looked sort of neat. The name wasn’t especially inspiring, but then others weren’t much better. In any case, I rented it that time and tried out the game. I liked it enough that over the next year (until the store didn’t stock Genesis games) I probably spent more money renting the game than it would’ve taken to buy it.

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