A Week of Gaming - 28-4-12

I completed it in the early hours of this morning. I’m very satisfied with the experience. I don’t regret picking it up. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s still a great RPG. If you’re interested in playing it, I’d buy it now before the restock copies disappear. I expect it’ll become pretty steep once that happens. While it's a good game, I'm not sure if it's £60+ good...

Pros

First and foremost; the battle system. It’s one of the most interesting battles system I’ve came across for a while. It really makes you think several steps ahead and you how can make the most of damaging your opponents (especially later in the game). I also like the ‘Mana Burst’ that’s eventually introduced. This initially allows you to delete an opponent’s turn from the sequence, but each of the characters get their own unique abilities later in the game.

As I’ve said before, I like the way game handles time travel. It’s a bit different compared to other time travel games. While the two timelines may initially lead to some confusion, it’s nice how they weave together. I found the story to be enjoyable, too. It’s not the most original story (it’s also pretty predictable in parts), but I think it did the job. I personally liked the ending a lot. I’ll leave the battering to harsher critics.

The music is very well-orchestrated. It’s like some of the tracks were composed by Yasunori Mitsuda (maybe he was cloned and spread across the industry...who knows?). There is one problem, however, and I’ll get to that in a bit...

You can skip entire scenes that you’ve seen before by simply pressing ‘start’. It’s amazing what a difference the simple things make sometimes. I dread to think how I would have got on without it. Every game should have this feature.

Cons

There are one or two instances where you can easily advance from one battle to another without getting an obvious chance to save. I fell afoul of this once and I had to redo a boss battle as a result. A minor complaint, but I’m sure this will annoy some people.

As much as the music was great, it’s a pity there was so little of it. Pretty much all of the tracks are reused multiple times throughout the game. It gets to the point where you can kind of predict which one is coming up. A great shame, but I’m guessing they just didn’t have the technical budget for more tracks (it is a DS game, after all).

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As planned, I’m going to play Shadow Hearts next. This will be my second attempt to complete it. I played it back in 2005 and I got pretty far (near the end, I believe). I forgot why I stopped playing it, but I expect I got stuck or distracted by another game. I remember certain parts of the storyline, but some of it is a bit hazy. I expect I’ll recognise parts as I play it. That doesn’t really bother me, as I can’t wait to get stuck into it again.

From the outset, Shadow Hearts is not a game which shies away from gore. It may play like a turn-based RPG, but the visuals are akin to a survival horror game. It’s clear they were going for a horror vibe, as I remember some of the enemies looking like things out of Silent Hill or the Shin Megami Tensei games. While I’m personally not creeped out by these things, it’s something to bear in mind if you’re interested in playing it. Another thing worth noting is that's set in the 'real world'. It takes place in 1913, just a year before World War I.

One of the main reasons for me wanting to replay the game is the ‘Judgement Ring’ that gets used in battle. Each action (attacking, casting a spell, using an item) is governed by it. If you want to boost the effectiveness of any of your actions, you have to hit the sweet spots on the ring. If you hit them, great stuff. If you miss them, your action either won’t be as effective or it won’t happen at all. It adds a nice element of ‘risk and reward’.

I tested it out with my PS3 the other night and there were no problems. It launched and it even looks as though the PS3 does a good job of upscaling the in-game graphics. I hope it continues throughout the game. I’ll be starting it later today.

Other Stuff

It’s really weird, but the 360 dying might be the best thing to happen to me for a while. It’s allowed me to jump back into the world of JRPGs. Even if I get a replacement 360 now, I’m likely to have more of a focus towards them compared to recent years.

For the next game after Shadow Hearts, I’m actually thinking of putting it up to a vote. What I’ll probably do is choose a selection of JRPGs I already own. Each of them will have their own unique features. Whatever wins the vote, I’ll play it. The current plan is to put up the vote when I’m nearing the end of Shadow Hearts (maybe in a separate blog). I’ll post more details when the time comes around.

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Disco x Prince – We Love Katamari

Aside from the obvious awesomeness of 'Katamari on the Rocks', this is my other favourite from the Katamari games. It's easily one the best tracks for me to listen to while I terrorise the inhabitants of the Katamari universe. Like with many other games, expect more Katamari music in the furture...

Your Affection – Persona 4

Even before the Endurance Run, this was one of my personal faves from P4. The Engrish doesn't ruin it for me (something about 'pickled peppers'...I think...).

VIP Lounge - Dead Rising 2

This could have easily gone to the other 'muzak' tracks in the game, but I think this is probably the best example of it. I realise some people hate muzak, but I personally like it a lot. I've liked it since the 'Pages From Ceefax' days (before you ask, it's a British thing).

As always, thanks for reading. More Shadow Hearts next week (and some other stuff, hopefully).

10 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by AdzPearson

I completed it in the early hours of this morning. I’m very satisfied with the experience. I don’t regret picking it up. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s still a great RPG. If you’re interested in playing it, I’d buy it now before the restock copies disappear. I expect it’ll become pretty steep once that happens. While it's a good game, I'm not sure if it's £60+ good...

Pros

First and foremost; the battle system. It’s one of the most interesting battles system I’ve came across for a while. It really makes you think several steps ahead and you how can make the most of damaging your opponents (especially later in the game). I also like the ‘Mana Burst’ that’s eventually introduced. This initially allows you to delete an opponent’s turn from the sequence, but each of the characters get their own unique abilities later in the game.

As I’ve said before, I like the way game handles time travel. It’s a bit different compared to other time travel games. While the two timelines may initially lead to some confusion, it’s nice how they weave together. I found the story to be enjoyable, too. It’s not the most original story (it’s also pretty predictable in parts), but I think it did the job. I personally liked the ending a lot. I’ll leave the battering to harsher critics.

The music is very well-orchestrated. It’s like some of the tracks were composed by Yasunori Mitsuda (maybe he was cloned and spread across the industry...who knows?). There is one problem, however, and I’ll get to that in a bit...

You can skip entire scenes that you’ve seen before by simply pressing ‘start’. It’s amazing what a difference the simple things make sometimes. I dread to think how I would have got on without it. Every game should have this feature.

Cons

There are one or two instances where you can easily advance from one battle to another without getting an obvious chance to save. I fell afoul of this once and I had to redo a boss battle as a result. A minor complaint, but I’m sure this will annoy some people.

As much as the music was great, it’s a pity there was so little of it. Pretty much all of the tracks are reused multiple times throughout the game. It gets to the point where you can kind of predict which one is coming up. A great shame, but I’m guessing they just didn’t have the technical budget for more tracks (it is a DS game, after all).

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

As planned, I’m going to play Shadow Hearts next. This will be my second attempt to complete it. I played it back in 2005 and I got pretty far (near the end, I believe). I forgot why I stopped playing it, but I expect I got stuck or distracted by another game. I remember certain parts of the storyline, but some of it is a bit hazy. I expect I’ll recognise parts as I play it. That doesn’t really bother me, as I can’t wait to get stuck into it again.

From the outset, Shadow Hearts is not a game which shies away from gore. It may play like a turn-based RPG, but the visuals are akin to a survival horror game. It’s clear they were going for a horror vibe, as I remember some of the enemies looking like things out of Silent Hill or the Shin Megami Tensei games. While I’m personally not creeped out by these things, it’s something to bear in mind if you’re interested in playing it. Another thing worth noting is that's set in the 'real world'. It takes place in 1913, just a year before World War I.

One of the main reasons for me wanting to replay the game is the ‘Judgement Ring’ that gets used in battle. Each action (attacking, casting a spell, using an item) is governed by it. If you want to boost the effectiveness of any of your actions, you have to hit the sweet spots on the ring. If you hit them, great stuff. If you miss them, your action either won’t be as effective or it won’t happen at all. It adds a nice element of ‘risk and reward’.

I tested it out with my PS3 the other night and there were no problems. It launched and it even looks as though the PS3 does a good job of upscaling the in-game graphics. I hope it continues throughout the game. I’ll be starting it later today.

Other Stuff

It’s really weird, but the 360 dying might be the best thing to happen to me for a while. It’s allowed me to jump back into the world of JRPGs. Even if I get a replacement 360 now, I’m likely to have more of a focus towards them compared to recent years.

For the next game after Shadow Hearts, I’m actually thinking of putting it up to a vote. What I’ll probably do is choose a selection of JRPGs I already own. Each of them will have their own unique features. Whatever wins the vote, I’ll play it. The current plan is to put up the vote when I’m nearing the end of Shadow Hearts (maybe in a separate blog). I’ll post more details when the time comes around.

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

Disco x Prince – We Love Katamari

Aside from the obvious awesomeness of 'Katamari on the Rocks', this is my other favourite from the Katamari games. It's easily one the best tracks for me to listen to while I terrorise the inhabitants of the Katamari universe. Like with many other games, expect more Katamari music in the furture...

Your Affection – Persona 4

Even before the Endurance Run, this was one of my personal faves from P4. The Engrish doesn't ruin it for me (something about 'pickled peppers'...I think...).

VIP Lounge - Dead Rising 2

This could have easily gone to the other 'muzak' tracks in the game, but I think this is probably the best example of it. I realise some people hate muzak, but I personally like it a lot. I've liked it since the 'Pages From Ceefax' days (before you ask, it's a British thing).

As always, thanks for reading. More Shadow Hearts next week (and some other stuff, hopefully).

Posted by Video_Game_King

Actually, I'm sure that the Engrish is supposed to be stylistic. As I've said before, you can't call it out on a grammatical level, but the words still don't come together in a way that makes a ton of sense.

Posted by PixelPrinny

Grats on beating RH, glad to hear you liked it. I don't remember any parts where it pushed you from one fight to another with little chance to save.... but maybe I'm just forgetting; I hardly even remember the ending, anymore lol.

Good luck with beating Shadow Hearts; I can't say I've ever made it through that one myself... though I recall only playing a small bit of it at a friend's house long ago.

Edited by AdzPearson

@Video_Game_King: Well, I wouldn't say it bothers me much anyway. I'm used to Engrish at this point because of all the anime I've seen. Yeah, you're probably right about the stylistic nature of it. I know the Japanese market likes English thrown into just about anything.

@PixelPrinny: It was the part where...

After you defeat Viola, there's some small scenes before you get sent directly to Historia. You're then advised to go back to the other timeline (because you now have Etherion). So I did...only to end up heading straight into a battle with little health and MP. It was all dialogue up until that point, so I couldn't save when I jumped. After dying, I had to fight Viola again. When I got to Historia this time, I made sure to go back to an earlier timeline where I know I could save. Easily solved, but only when you've already made that 'mistake'.

Just a minor complaint, though. The game was pretty kind with saves otherwise.

Posted by Cathryn

Glad to hear you liked Radiant Historia. I don't know what it is about that game, but I had to force myself to get through the 15 hours I played of it and I just had to put it down at one point. I wish I could articulate what it is about it what I don't like, but this is one of those where it just kind've gave me the no feeling and I have no good explanation for it :/

Your Affection is probably one of my favourite game soundtrack songs of all time. Love it. Engrish is one of the main things that puts me off of Jrock and Jpop and it doesn't bother me in any of Shoji Meguro's Persona music at all, for some odd reason.

I have to say my favourite non-Katamari on the Rocks Katamari song is Wanda Wanda:

Posted by AdzPearson

@Cathryn: I guess it comes down to personal taste. I wouldn't force myself to play through a game I'm not enjoying. Last year, I played a bit of Alundra. While the story was interesting and the music was great, the gameplay wasn't really what I was looking for. I may go into it with a different attitude one day, but I'll only complete it if I enjoy it.

'Wanda Wanda' is another cool track. I like most of the tracks in the Katamari games. They're part of the whole crazy experience. I'm not sure the game would have worked if they used licensed tracks we all know.

Posted by Cathryn

@AdzPearson: Yeah, I don't like to force myself either, but when games have good reviews and word of mouth from peers, I find it tough to stop. I find myself pushing to play more because I'm trying to see what they see, to figure out why they like it so much and why I've got such lukewarm feelings. I nearly always wind up dropping in the end, though, I can't think of a time when I really disliked a game and actually bothered to finish it. I'm really glad I don't have to review games for a living, for that particular reason.

Posted by pekoe212

Oooh, Shadow Hearts. Love that game! I've just never encountered something quite like it, even among Japanese games. An odd, creepy, romantic mix of Asia and Europe in pre-WW1, with a supernatural/horror atmosphere and a bizarre sense of humor. Still need to complete SH2 and 3, but I definitely can recommend the first one.

Posted by AdzPearson

@pekoe212: Yeah, I agree with you there. The prequel, Koudelka, is also in the same vein. As for the sequels, I haven't played them yet. But yeah, there aren't many RPGs out there like the Shadow Hearts games.

About the only thing I don't like about Shadows Hearts is the dubbing. I wasn't a big fan of it when I originally played (I didn't like the fact that every single character had an American accent, despite their nationality), but I didn't realise how bad it was until I fired up the game for my current playthrough. One of the Japanese guards at the start speaks in a typical New York accent. XD The voice actors aren't exactly convincing, either. I'm glad the dub situation for games has improved since then.

Posted by pekoe212

@AdzPearson: Oh, wow, I didn't know about Koudelka! Thanks for mentioning it, I will check that out if I can find it.