Posted by AdzPearson (201 posts) -

Last week, I took down yet another RPG. The fact that it was one of my favourite RPGs was the icing on the cake. After failing to complete it in 2005, I managed to take down the final boss with ease. I’m still surprised at how short it was, though. It only took 22 hours for me to complete. Still, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re looking for an unusual RPG.

Small word of warning to anyone playing it on an original 80GB PS3 (like I was); don’t play the lottery. It results in the game being stuck after the judgement ring stops. It seems to be a common issue. It’s a pity that it can’t be played, but it’s certainly not game breaking.

Pros

As I’ve said before, I love the judgement ring. It’s a nice twist on the turn-based formula. While it means you can’t just simply spam ‘Attack’ all the time, it feels rewarding when you pull off a chain of powerful attacks. As mentioned in the previous blog, the ring is also used outside battles. I look forward to revisiting it in the sequels.

All of the characters are pretty unique. They include a Harmonixer (a person capable of fusing with demons), a daughter of a priest and a Chinese sage. I’ll keep the rest of the characters a surprise, but they’re all interesting in their own way.

I like the fact that was set in the ‘real world’ in 1913. Not many RPGs have been set in the real world full stop. They took some artistic license here and there (the outfits of the female party members being one...), but that’s to be expected. After all, it is a game that contains demons and magic.

The music has a pretty unique sound to it. However, I could just about recognise which songs Yasunori Mitsuda probably worked on (the other composer is Yoshitaka Hirota, who went on to do some of the music for the sequels). Both the regular battle music and the boss battle music are something you wouldn’t normally expect, but I think they still work well.

Cons

The worst thing about Shadow Hearts is easily the voice acting. While I realise they were probably on a budget to voice the characters, it’s really off-putting that all the characters speak with an American accent (despite their nationalities being clearly stated). For example, the main bad guy is a typical English gentleman. This is reflected in the text-only dialogue, but it is completely ruined by his voice. Thankfully, voiced scenes are few and far between.

...oh, and just wait for the ghost story early in the game. Hilarious, in an awkward way...

Some parts of the story are pretty predictable. While I originally thought it was an early game thing, it also crops up later. I’d played the game before, but I could sometimes read what was going to happen next going by the dialogue between characters.

If you’re not careful, Sanity Points can be very frustrating. Sanity goes down by 1 with each turn. If it reaches 0, the character goes berserk. As a result, you sometimes need to restore sanity with a ‘pure leaf/seed /root’. This usually comes into play with long battles. There will be times when you really don’t want to do it. Situations like this can be avoided if you’re careful, but later enemies sap SP, which means it’ll become an issue eventually.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you may have seen throughout the week, I did not get on well with Dark Cloud. Aside from it not being my kind of RPG, it had a number of problems for me. It had some interesting things, but not quite enough to keep me going.

The game starts off with a disaster befalling a small village. This is thanks to a military-looking guy and the Dark Genie. The main character is saved by the Fairy King, who gives him special powers (contained in a wristband). As it’s soon explained to you, you now have the power to free people and objects from Atla stones and place them back in the world.

The town rebuilding aspect is what I’d heard a lot about before playing it. When you collect specific Atla stones, you can place them back in the blank bit of space outside the cave (more about the cave in a bit). Houses require items to be slotted into them via the Georama menu (along with whoever lives there). When you complete someone’s house, you’ll get an item from one of the owners. Some are meh, while others are pretty useful.

To get hold of these Atla stones, you must wander around dungeons. The first (and only) dungeon I wandered around was the Divine Beast Cave. It’s very much the tutorial cave, as the Fairy King appears often to explain things. While going around the cave, you can find Atla stones, chests containing items and, perhaps not surprisingly, monsters. To move onto the next floor, you must grab hold of a special key. This is dropped by a random enemy, so you must defeat all the enemies until you get it. All the floors are generated randomly, so you’ll never get the same room twice. They may look similar in some cases, but there are usually certain differences.

If you die in a cave, you lose half your current money. When you can buy items later in the game, it’s pretty frustrating. The mayor is happy to give you a few items for free whenever you visit him at first, but this stops as soon as you complete the shop in the village. He says that you can’t rely on him forever. Bit of an odd attitude towards someone who’s in the process of saving the entire village, but oh well...

There is no levelling up in the game. Instead, you need to improve weapons. This is done by slotting stones on them in the customisation menu. Each of the stones has unique properties. For example, some grant extra attack power or more power against specific enemy types. Once you’ve used an item enough with the stones inserted, you’ve given the option to upgrade it. This will give the weapon permanent stat boosts based on the stones you had inserted. You can then repeat the process. This is one of the things I liked about Dark Cloud. However...

...weapons can break. You will need to repair them with ‘Repair Powder’. Whenever you hear a continuous beep, it’s usually a good idea to repair it. At the start, it isn’t too much of a problem, as you can just get repair powder from the mayor. Your weapon is also slow, so it’s hard to get carried away. But, when you weapon becomes faster and more powerful due to upgrading it, it’s very easy to miss the beep. Once a weapon breaks, it’s gone for good (apart from your starting weapon, which is conveniently protected by a spell).

In my experience, the game consisted of going back and forth between the village and the dungeon. This is something the game encourages. However, I eventually found it pretty tedious. You can re-enter the dungeon at the floor you made it up to, which is fine, but it still doesn’t get rid of the monotony. After 14 floors, I reached the bottom. I had to fight the first boss. I think I knew how to defeat it, but I found the process pretty boring. It looks as though I had to use my new ally (a cat who you transform into a cat girl with special powder...erm, yeah...) to make it land by firing her slingshot at it, then pummel it as much as you can with the main character.

After dying a few times, I decided to improve my weapon further. It was pretty going well. My weapon was in the 5th iteration. It was powerful and fast. Fast. Yes, fast...

...during a fight with a tougher enemy, I managed to break the thing with little warning. You know how you just naturally keep hacking at an enemy until it dies? Yeah...

I made the decision to quit the game while I was ahead. When a game gives me trouble very early in the game, it’s usually not a good sign. The weapon breaking was the final straw. I realised that was probably going to happen again and again throughout the game, so I couldn’t be doing with that. Most importantly, I wasn’t really enjoying the game. I stuck with it more than I wanted to, but it still turned out sour.

Goodbye, Dark Cloud. You shall not be missed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As it came second in the poll (and I thought I might as well check it out anyway), I decided to start Wild Arms 3. I won’t go into depth this week, but it’s already looking as though I’ll have a lot more joy with it. Turn-based RPGs are usually a safe bet for me. It also has a lot of interesting features, which I look forward to going into.

One nice thing that I’ll mention is that I’m given a choice to play it in PAL or NTSC whenever I start it up. While the standard is still PAL here in the UK, most TVs have been able to support it for quite a while now. When given the choice, NTSC is the obvious way to go. I accidently put it on PAL once and I could see the difference.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hong Kong - Deus Ex

If you like synth, I can't recommend the Deus Ex soundtrack enough. This is one of many favourites from the game. I enjoy listening to the soundtrack while typing out a long document. I find it really helps to keep me in the zone.

Menu Music 2 - Super Smash Bros: Brawl

I personally prefer this version of the menu music over the default. When I unlocked it, I always had it set to this. I think it's because of the Melee music remix in it.

Prague - Shadow Hearts

I feel this track is a good representation of how varied the music is in Shadow Hearts. The style of the music changes depending on the location. They're not always strictly based on the music of the area, though. The music ranges from oriental-style to some more jazzy numbers.

That's all for now. Next week: Some Wild Arms 3 details. Thanks for reading.

#1 Edited by AdzPearson (201 posts) -

Last week, I took down yet another RPG. The fact that it was one of my favourite RPGs was the icing on the cake. After failing to complete it in 2005, I managed to take down the final boss with ease. I’m still surprised at how short it was, though. It only took 22 hours for me to complete. Still, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re looking for an unusual RPG.

Small word of warning to anyone playing it on an original 80GB PS3 (like I was); don’t play the lottery. It results in the game being stuck after the judgement ring stops. It seems to be a common issue. It’s a pity that it can’t be played, but it’s certainly not game breaking.

Pros

As I’ve said before, I love the judgement ring. It’s a nice twist on the turn-based formula. While it means you can’t just simply spam ‘Attack’ all the time, it feels rewarding when you pull off a chain of powerful attacks. As mentioned in the previous blog, the ring is also used outside battles. I look forward to revisiting it in the sequels.

All of the characters are pretty unique. They include a Harmonixer (a person capable of fusing with demons), a daughter of a priest and a Chinese sage. I’ll keep the rest of the characters a surprise, but they’re all interesting in their own way.

I like the fact that was set in the ‘real world’ in 1913. Not many RPGs have been set in the real world full stop. They took some artistic license here and there (the outfits of the female party members being one...), but that’s to be expected. After all, it is a game that contains demons and magic.

The music has a pretty unique sound to it. However, I could just about recognise which songs Yasunori Mitsuda probably worked on (the other composer is Yoshitaka Hirota, who went on to do some of the music for the sequels). Both the regular battle music and the boss battle music are something you wouldn’t normally expect, but I think they still work well.

Cons

The worst thing about Shadow Hearts is easily the voice acting. While I realise they were probably on a budget to voice the characters, it’s really off-putting that all the characters speak with an American accent (despite their nationalities being clearly stated). For example, the main bad guy is a typical English gentleman. This is reflected in the text-only dialogue, but it is completely ruined by his voice. Thankfully, voiced scenes are few and far between.

...oh, and just wait for the ghost story early in the game. Hilarious, in an awkward way...

Some parts of the story are pretty predictable. While I originally thought it was an early game thing, it also crops up later. I’d played the game before, but I could sometimes read what was going to happen next going by the dialogue between characters.

If you’re not careful, Sanity Points can be very frustrating. Sanity goes down by 1 with each turn. If it reaches 0, the character goes berserk. As a result, you sometimes need to restore sanity with a ‘pure leaf/seed /root’. This usually comes into play with long battles. There will be times when you really don’t want to do it. Situations like this can be avoided if you’re careful, but later enemies sap SP, which means it’ll become an issue eventually.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you may have seen throughout the week, I did not get on well with Dark Cloud. Aside from it not being my kind of RPG, it had a number of problems for me. It had some interesting things, but not quite enough to keep me going.

The game starts off with a disaster befalling a small village. This is thanks to a military-looking guy and the Dark Genie. The main character is saved by the Fairy King, who gives him special powers (contained in a wristband). As it’s soon explained to you, you now have the power to free people and objects from Atla stones and place them back in the world.

The town rebuilding aspect is what I’d heard a lot about before playing it. When you collect specific Atla stones, you can place them back in the blank bit of space outside the cave (more about the cave in a bit). Houses require items to be slotted into them via the Georama menu (along with whoever lives there). When you complete someone’s house, you’ll get an item from one of the owners. Some are meh, while others are pretty useful.

To get hold of these Atla stones, you must wander around dungeons. The first (and only) dungeon I wandered around was the Divine Beast Cave. It’s very much the tutorial cave, as the Fairy King appears often to explain things. While going around the cave, you can find Atla stones, chests containing items and, perhaps not surprisingly, monsters. To move onto the next floor, you must grab hold of a special key. This is dropped by a random enemy, so you must defeat all the enemies until you get it. All the floors are generated randomly, so you’ll never get the same room twice. They may look similar in some cases, but there are usually certain differences.

If you die in a cave, you lose half your current money. When you can buy items later in the game, it’s pretty frustrating. The mayor is happy to give you a few items for free whenever you visit him at first, but this stops as soon as you complete the shop in the village. He says that you can’t rely on him forever. Bit of an odd attitude towards someone who’s in the process of saving the entire village, but oh well...

There is no levelling up in the game. Instead, you need to improve weapons. This is done by slotting stones on them in the customisation menu. Each of the stones has unique properties. For example, some grant extra attack power or more power against specific enemy types. Once you’ve used an item enough with the stones inserted, you’ve given the option to upgrade it. This will give the weapon permanent stat boosts based on the stones you had inserted. You can then repeat the process. This is one of the things I liked about Dark Cloud. However...

...weapons can break. You will need to repair them with ‘Repair Powder’. Whenever you hear a continuous beep, it’s usually a good idea to repair it. At the start, it isn’t too much of a problem, as you can just get repair powder from the mayor. Your weapon is also slow, so it’s hard to get carried away. But, when you weapon becomes faster and more powerful due to upgrading it, it’s very easy to miss the beep. Once a weapon breaks, it’s gone for good (apart from your starting weapon, which is conveniently protected by a spell).

In my experience, the game consisted of going back and forth between the village and the dungeon. This is something the game encourages. However, I eventually found it pretty tedious. You can re-enter the dungeon at the floor you made it up to, which is fine, but it still doesn’t get rid of the monotony. After 14 floors, I reached the bottom. I had to fight the first boss. I think I knew how to defeat it, but I found the process pretty boring. It looks as though I had to use my new ally (a cat who you transform into a cat girl with special powder...erm, yeah...) to make it land by firing her slingshot at it, then pummel it as much as you can with the main character.

After dying a few times, I decided to improve my weapon further. It was pretty going well. My weapon was in the 5th iteration. It was powerful and fast. Fast. Yes, fast...

...during a fight with a tougher enemy, I managed to break the thing with little warning. You know how you just naturally keep hacking at an enemy until it dies? Yeah...

I made the decision to quit the game while I was ahead. When a game gives me trouble very early in the game, it’s usually not a good sign. The weapon breaking was the final straw. I realised that was probably going to happen again and again throughout the game, so I couldn’t be doing with that. Most importantly, I wasn’t really enjoying the game. I stuck with it more than I wanted to, but it still turned out sour.

Goodbye, Dark Cloud. You shall not be missed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As it came second in the poll (and I thought I might as well check it out anyway), I decided to start Wild Arms 3. I won’t go into depth this week, but it’s already looking as though I’ll have a lot more joy with it. Turn-based RPGs are usually a safe bet for me. It also has a lot of interesting features, which I look forward to going into.

One nice thing that I’ll mention is that I’m given a choice to play it in PAL or NTSC whenever I start it up. While the standard is still PAL here in the UK, most TVs have been able to support it for quite a while now. When given the choice, NTSC is the obvious way to go. I accidently put it on PAL once and I could see the difference.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hong Kong - Deus Ex

If you like synth, I can't recommend the Deus Ex soundtrack enough. This is one of many favourites from the game. I enjoy listening to the soundtrack while typing out a long document. I find it really helps to keep me in the zone.

Menu Music 2 - Super Smash Bros: Brawl

I personally prefer this version of the menu music over the default. When I unlocked it, I always had it set to this. I think it's because of the Melee music remix in it.

Prague - Shadow Hearts

I feel this track is a good representation of how varied the music is in Shadow Hearts. The style of the music changes depending on the location. They're not always strictly based on the music of the area, though. The music ranges from oriental-style to some more jazzy numbers.

That's all for now. Next week: Some Wild Arms 3 details. Thanks for reading.