Archive for Rantings

In Which I Dwell on PAX East

I had the opportunity and motivation to go to PAX East this year – one I think I took full advantage of, more so than either attendance of Prime thus far – and it was a blast. Took first place in an Earth Defense Force tourney (thereafter referred to as “The Blue Guy” due to my stylish DQ9 shirt and Junpei hat), my team took 3rd in a 64-team League of Legends tourney (my main account is lv 24/30, indicating I don’t play enough to deserve it) and overall had a great time.

I’d apologize for not covering it yet (after all, it’s been three whole weeks!), but honestly I doubt enough people read it who care.  Might sound a little crazy, but this is more an outlet for myself – writing on my own interests – than out of a particular desire to share, which is a nice enough side effect.

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Biggest Gaming Disappointments of 2010

2010 was a good year.  We saw tons of innovative games, some solid entries in existing franchises, and (as usual) the slow, plodding approximation of “progress” that Koei and Natsume put into their Warriors and Harvest Moon / Rune Factory franchises.  It may not have been a great year, but then I’m not much interested in the mainstream games so much – if I’m disappointed, it’s just that the obscure games I found  (or the few mainstream ones I played) weren’t quite as good as I’d hoped, not that the gaming industry has suffered some setback it will never recover from.  Here are a few highlights.

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A Few Quick Reviews

In the past few weeks I’ve started playing a few more games… as usual.

At release, I picked up Etrian Odyssey III. I finally started it up and the class variety is much better – and class choice more significant, it seems – than in the original.  I never played II, but I don’t think I’m missing out on much for not having played it.  If you’re in the mood for a long dungeon-crawler with lots of cute art and frequent frustration, it’s probably right up your alley.  I think it’s parallel to mine, but not quite exactly right.

More recently I picked up Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.  Most any franchise that is inspired by Journey to the West (or Saiyuki, or whatever you’d like to call it) has at least the core of a good story.  Enslaved has three decent characters, a lot of frustrating gameplay, and the occasional beautiful view.  I finished it, and I’m convinced it’s really not worth release price.

Finally, I found a cool thread at NeoGAF that discussed an iOS game called Game Dev Story.  Although it was briefly tempting to pick up an iPhone (why yes, I will consider it seriously for a dinky $4 game), there is a free-to-download PC version.  The thread calls it a “sequel”, but it seems to be the same game with a slightly different feature set.  Given it’s incredibly awesome (devoured most of a weekend), I made a quick guide for the layman English speaker.

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March is on fire for games; also other stuff.

So it’s been a long time since I wrote up anything here.  More than two months, in fact.

My main purpose in posting here is to point out the nice swath of RPG/strategy (or in one case, just incredibly interesting) games that are coming out in March.

Infinite Space is a Sega RPG on DS that looks to have more breadth and depth than most of Sega’s fare; I’m hoping it turns out as good or better than Valkyria Chronicles.  From what I’ve heard so far, you get to do some exploring reminiscent of Skies and command a fleet of ships, assigning roles to various crew members and such.  It sounds very interesting, and I haven’t read anything negative about it yet – but it’s a bit early for that, obviously.  It’s out 3/16.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is an adventure / survival game for the Wii where the main character wanders alone in a post-apocalyptic world filled mostly with ruins.  Although it has combat, it sounds like the focus is more on puzzle and story elements.  I love any game with a somber or lonely tone (if only because they’re so rare).  It sounded for a while like this was going to be yet another Japan-only game, but XSeed picked it up and it will also release 3/16.

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is appropriately titled, given it is a PS2 game.  It will also release on the Wii in a less-deluxe set.  It’s the first game in the much-vaunted Sakura Wars series to reach our shores.  Other games in the series routinely find their way to the top of fan-voted lists, so even if this game is a pale shadow of the best games in the series it will probably be worth it to see what all the fuss is about.  The series is sort of relationship-RPG-strategy, where how well you get along with your companions affects their performance in battle.  It will probably be at least partly Guilty Pleasure genre, but still should be a good time.  It comes out on 3/23.

Finally, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey will be coming out for DS.  The SMT series is so consistently solid mechanics-wise and intriguing story-wise that it would be hard to pass this one up.  Particularly after Devil Survivor was so good, Strange Journey should be one hell of a trip to the Antarctic.  It will also release 3/23.

January and February look sort of slow – the actual US release of White Knight Chronicle aside – so I’m hoping to knock my current set of games well out of the way so that I can start in on these entries once they arrive.

Lately I’ve been playing Eternal Sonata and Civ 4: Colonization.  Eternal Sonata is pretty and sounds very nice, but the difficulty is just short of crushing.  If it gets much worse, I might not end up beating it.  Story-wise it’s like a standard JRPG interrupted briefly by History Channel-esque segments on events in Chopin’s life.  I’m not even seeing much in the way of allegory here.  As far as Colonization goes, I enjoyed the original a lot and this is just more of the same – slightly improved, spiffier-looking, and more expensive.  Can’t really complain.

Projects are trucking along as always – sometimes more, sometimes less, including some minor work continuing on Jesus.  There’s not much to show at this point – or more accurately, what there is is hardly mine to show, as I’m just retranslating.  Stardust Crusaders of offered to take a look at expanding things, so he’s doing the hard part.

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Persona PSP Remake – The Power of Sound

I picked up the PSP remake of Persona last week.  Thus far I’ve found it to be mostly superior to the original, with some relatively minor negatives.

The biggest positive is that the relatively low-quality and occasionally downright strange original localization has been replaced with a spiffy, high-quality and more accurate job.  No longer does the game pretend to take place in the sleepy U.S. town of Lunarvale, and no longer does Guido Sardenia plot to do evil things to said sleepy town.  The localization work in PPSP is overall great and, near as I can tell, accurate (aside from one small gaffe [/edit: Not actually a gaffe, the gaffe was mine; see comments]; apparently the “Hiremon Stone” is in St. Hermelin’s courtyard, rather than the Philemon Stone).

The only negatives I’ve seen thus far have to do with sound effects.  While I do miss the original voicing (remarkably good for the time) the new stuff is better.  But the small pieces that formed a greater feel for the game – the sort-of-scifi sound effects, the Persona summon sound effect, even the surprised scream when you walk into a trapdoor – all are missing, usually simply silent.  When the Deva System goes into overload, there’s no indication whatsoever.

While it’s still worth picking up – I can’t help but think that it still lost something in the process of gaining a new subquest, improved translation and reworked soundtrack.

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