Archive for Rantings

Paradise and Hell in the Tower

Playing through Persona 3 gradually for nearly a month straight has really taken away my will to play; I’m considering just giving up on the main story and going on ahead to The Answer.

Perhaps as a reaction to Persona 3, in which the main dungeon is the endless-seeming tower of Tartarus, I started playing through Final Fantasy Legend, whose story centers around The Demon Tower.

The best feature of Final Fantasy Legend is the fact that it is mysterious – much like Drakkhen, I find myself coming back to it time and again if only in the hope I will find something new again this time around. FFL rarely disappoints. There are four “cardinal” worlds:

  • The starting world, which is standard fantasy fare: three kings seek to unify the world.
  • The ocean world, with pirates, wizards, and the dragon Seiryu’s undersea palace;
  • The sky world, in which Byakko’s glider-planes seek domination over an ongoing rebellion;
  • The post-apocalyptic world, in which the fiery phoenix Suzaku destroys all who stray from the few protected dwellings.

Of these four, the last has the most compelling plot, in which your party aids a small group in raiding an abandoned nuclear power plant to obtain the technology to neutralize Suzaku.

And yet, though these worlds have in themselves good sub-stories, still more miniature worlds hide in the Tower for the most adventurous to find.

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Opoona finished; Brief Metal Saga disappointment

I finished Opoona over the weekend.  I’d say overall it’s not the best game ever, but definitely a game worth playing.  There is a raw charm to it that is appealing to me.  It may not be anything amazingly groundbreaking, but it is a good experience.

After Opoona, I briefly tried the old PS2 open RPG Metal Saga.  It was $15 new, and I figured I couldn’t lose.  I wouldn’t say I lost, but I just about broke even.

It sounds great.  Post-apocalyptic, tanks, exploring, anime-styled, open-ended.  It builds up a great atmosphere… then thoroughly disembowels it.

Imagine you’re walking through an abandoned office building… it’s a dark area, complete with overturned desks, some junk in the corner a few chairs, all covered in dust.  You’re scrounging through closets for anything useful to sell.  These pre-disaster places sometimes still have untouched stuff… then you get into an encounter.  Is it bat-wielding ruffians?  Perhaps some sort of mutated critter?  Not exactly.  You’re fighting a rifle standing atop two bare human legs.  It is called “Pocket Rocket”.

Plus it has the worst loading times in towns of any game I’d ever seen.  If it takes 10 seconds of loading to enter and exit a shop, you had better have a damn good rest of the game – sadly, it does not.  I wanted to give this game a try, and I don’t feel good about giving it up, but it is damnably frustrating.

I have since started Star Ocean: The Second Story for the third time.  I’m not sure if I’ll play it all the way through, but it’ll do for now.

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More Opoonerism

The game has taken a twist toward more standard JRPG fare, and I’m not sure whether I’m somewhat depressed or relieved.  I do like how gradually the feel of the game changed, and the environments are still interesting… but at the same time it feels like an entirely different game, and not nearly as open-ended as the first portion.

That said, here are a few more screenshots.

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Opoona screenshots and brief impressions

Wow.  This game looks and sounds really nice.  It gets sci-fi right, with hints of anime and traditional JRPG style here and there.  Unfortunately, the translation is pretty bad (especially for a modern game), for example “Star” and “Planet” used interchangeably (almost always here, “Planet” is meant, whereas in Japanese these are both “Hoshi” and use the same kanji).  Maybe Koei can finally do an entirely new game right.

I played this game over five hours straight after I bought it.  Part of this is because it’s got a great style and good music, but part is because there’s a strong variety of minigames – some tedious, but most quite manageable.  Unfortunately it’s a bit easy to get lost in the first city.

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The nature of the JRPG and the power of music

Reader beware! The following post is meandering, vague, switches focus (and tense) and is likely to bore the hell out of anyone who doesn’t like the JRPG genre. I try to remain somewhat focused for my usual posts, but it has failed here and so I must say: Beware of blog!

A year or so ago, I was trying to figure out what I liked most in RPGs. I laid out the requisite pieces for an RPG – battle system and story – and eventually I decided that a solid battle engine was a necessity, while plot is merely a nice-to-have.

Then I played Persona 3 in August. “Story” split into “Plot” (the main thread of the story) and “Characterization”, since the story of P3 was pretty much unknown until 4/5 of the way through the game. I decided both were good, but not absolutely needed.

Shortly after Persona 3, I played through Skies of Arcadia. Now, I should really have picked up on this with other games – most notably Wild Arms 3 – but I picked up on something entirely separate with Skies. The plot is incredibly cliched, the characters (with 2 exceptions) feel factory-made, and battles are bland and numerous. The setting, however, makes the entire game worth it. Top to bottom, end to end, the game feels hand-crafted. Cities feel entirely as though they belong in their home-country, shopkeepers gesticulate wildly as they ask you to look over their wares, ships careen through the sky on their merry way. It’s hard not to get at least a little bit sucked in by the excitement throughout the game. As I’ve said before – it’s fantasy in the classic sense. An entirely new world to explore.

So it added “setting”. Surely there’s more out there… but a good setting is pretty much necessary, right?

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