Review – The Last Remnant

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about The Last Remnant.  On the one hand, its Akitoshi Kawazu pedigree shines through, with an incredibly nuanced battle system that never fully makes up for its terrible plot.  On the other hand, that battle system is really very good and worth playing the game for on its own, it’s just that the plot was made even worse – seemingly deliberately – to balance things out.

Kawazu has a long history of working on the SaGa games, and it is entirely reasonable to call TLR a stealth entry in the series, since it has many of the hallmarks.  Aside from standard battle system/plot dichotomy, there’s a wonderfully imaginative world that very little is actually done with, entertaining side characters that never really break into the third dimension, incredibly good music that has only bits and pieces of substance to go with, and enough sidequests to deliberately avoid the main story for hour on end.  Atmosphere is fed in small spoonfuls for completing hour-long quests, while stat increases are passed out like candy on Halloween after every single battle.

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Digital Distribution is the Future – and Soon it Will Have the Past too

This evening I felt the need to sift through my old book of CDs – mostly PS1 and 2 games, but a smattering of PC.  First I noticed one game I had a digital copy of, then another, then another… and, well, things went on like this for a while.  By the end of it I had a small pile of games I had bought twice – voluntarily, of course, to support distributors bringing such old games back.  And surprisingly, I play them, too – I had not actually beaten Baldur’s Gate II until a few months ago, when I purchased it from Good Old Games.  The set (which is incomplete, since it doesn’t include Kohan 1, Seven Kingdoms, or any Blizzard games) is below.

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Hints of SaGa2 & 3 DS Localization on iTunes

Normally I wouldn’t specifically mention iTunes, as honestly one store is much like another (although iTunes is classy, easy to use and all that stuff).

However – and I’m not sure when exactly this happened, but I noticed it last night – every single SaGa game soundtrack is now on iTunes.  This includes the Romancing SaGas, which weren’t localized, and the original Game Boy SaGa games, which were brought over to the USA as Final Fantasy Legends 1, 2 and 3.  To me, the game boy renditions are well worth the money alone, to say nothing of the DS remakes.

Now – the most incredible part to me actually happened tonight.  Literally in the past 24 hours, someone with the ‘pull’ to do so changed the SaGa2 and SaGa3 DS soundtracks so that they now have the US branding!  SaGa 3 is now Final Fantasy Legend 3: Shadow or Light and SaGa2 is  Final Fantasy Legend II Goddess of Destiny. Even names which weren’t directly rendered (Steslos -> Talon, Ragna -> Xagor) the first time around were modified to fit with the original US renditions of a game that came out on the original Game Boy.

Maybe this is some particularly dedicated (and awesome!) Square Enix employee, or maybe this was planned all along when the soundtracks were released in the US store.  But because I’m the sappy type, I’m going to hope until someone tells me otherwise 🙂

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Review – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

I’ve heard many a tale of the popularity of Sora no Kiseki in Japan, but I had pretty much given up hope of seeing it in English barring a fan translation.  Given the sheer size of the series, fan translation itself would have been highly unlikely as well.  Luckily, XSeed has got our collective RPG-loving backs.  Despite the PSP’s near-dead status, they’ve committed to bringing over all three of the games in the series.  Now that I’ve finished the first one, I can confirm that it’s not just an impressive game, it’ll be an impressive series.

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GOTM: Monster Hunter 3 Tri

When Monster Hunter Tri was announced for Wii, I hadn’t heard of the Monster Hunter phenomenon.  I was only glad to hear that a AAA (or at least AA) third-party title was finally announced for the system, and that it was something I would be moderately interested in.

I’m conflicted in a way about Monster Hunter; fundamentally, it’s a game that’s quite similar to Shadow of the Colossus: Much of the time, you’re fighting something much bigger than you, gradually chipping away at the right places and avoiding its spiny parts.  It also requires a good deal more teamwork, preparation, thought, and luck.  But as a consequence, it is incredibly slow to progress.

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