2011 In Review

First off – 2011 was a banner year for video games.  I play a lot of old games – whether out of habit, desire for nostalgia, or the fact that they actually are good is debatable, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the best 2011 had to offer, despite the relative dearth of console JRPGs and strategy games.

However, some games in particular deserve mention for being especially outstanding.  I managed to only write three articles at www.videolamer.com last year, so I guess I’ll have to branch out from those.

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Ar Tonelico and other Gustiness

For a long time, I avoided Studio Gust.  It’s not that I expected their games to be bad, merely that I expected them to feel wrong in some way.  Unlike other studios, they seem to embrace the quirkiness and stereotypes of anime, lending them an even more bubblegum feel than the Persona games.  Such fears were, of course, not wholly unmerited – having played the first Ar Tonelico and the recent Atelier Totori, while not making me an expert in the subject of Gust games, at least tells me that much.

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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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Thoughts on PAX 2011

I attended PAX Prime again this year.  It’s a good chance to get in touch with (somewhat) local friends, and to visit Seattle, which is a pretty cool city to just walk around.  And, of course, there were games there.

I don’t usually visit the big booths on the Expo Hall floor, since – by and large – the same content is out in a few weeks, and coverage on it is out in a few days.  I did try out the intro for Mass Effect 3, which was fun enough, but not worth the 2-hour wait.  The best under-the-radar game I saw there was Shoot Many Robots – a co-operative, 1-4 player shoot-em-up, which feels like a post-apocalyptic, hick-themed Metal Slug.  Some brief bits follow:

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