Now Loading Update (08.23.2012) - Catchin' Up With Ya

My brain is exploding trying to think of all the things that I have done since I "retired" back in May. Hell, I haven't even really updated you technically since sometime in April. I am probably just going to separate these in to small paragraphs just to keep this from becoming insanely long. I'm going to try to recall what I did month by month so let's get started.

APRIL
In April I was still around but I was focused on bringing you NLID (Now Loading In-Depth) coverage of Phantasy Star 2 and didn't talk about the games that I had been playing much. The first was Fez and fun little puzzle platformer with some amazing secrets locked away by a cryptic code for players to decipher. Then I picked up the Witcher 2, other than the amazing graphics and interesting characters, I never found any enjoyment from the clunky combat. Lastly it was MLB 2K12 / NBA 2K12... I kind of wanted to play a baseball videogame and for $10 more I could get NBA 2K12, so I figured what the hell and tried them both out. Turns out the hitting in MLB 2K12 is just about as frustratingly difficult as it is in real-life and I don't have a clue about basketball so when the game was yelling at me for bad "transitional defense" I had no clue what that meant so I gave on both games.

MAY
May was a pretty crazy month for games and which was what partly inspired me to stop blogging. First was Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition which my friends and I proceeded to play for play for 10 hours a day for nearly a week. I have still been playing it quite a bit and it's now updated to 1.7.3 and it looks like the next update will get to be a least on par with the PC version. I picked up 7 games from the bargain bin for about $20 bucks each but I have only played 3 of them. Duke Nukem Forever is a pretty messed up game but it has some fun old school game play that I enjoyed to a certain point, gotta finish this one soon. Next was RAGE, more old school FPS action and I enjoyed the game up all the to ending, no epic final boss, no closure... the game sort of just stops... there aren't even any credits. I then played Metro 2033, this game has great atmosphere, but the feel of the weaponry just did click with me. There was something weird with the aiming and I it sucked a lot of the fun out of the game. The last game of the month was Dragon's Dogma, there is a lot to like about this game and a lot to dislike as well. Fighting epic monsters by climbing and grabbing on to the them is amazing, the pawn system is cool, but has flaws and the repetitive placement of the monsters gets pretty old... I'll have to get back in to this one and finish it off.

JUNE
June was when I actually played Rage, but the game I played the most was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I started a new character and played almost 140 hours with it until I burned out in mid-july. I also played through the Dawnguard expansion and it was pretty good and the new weapons and armor add some fresh new flavor to the game. Other than that not too much happened.

JULY
I finished Metro 2033. The main thing I did was playthrough the entire Saints Row series. Saints Row 1 was a fun start, Saints Row 2 took that great start and made it a champion with tons of new gameplay, music and customization. Then we have Saints Row: The Third, a fun game in its own right, but as a 3rd game in series pales in comparison to the second game. The streamlining kills it, everything is menu driven and even things like clothing customization is simplified. Though on a technical note this is Volition's best game as the graphics and polish level are high. Bottomline: 2nd game is still my favorite. I played the XBLA release of Dungeon Fighter and it is a fun game with too many flaws, plus it is a pain to play multiplayer as you have to invite all your friends back to a party after every dungeon. Last new was Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. I enjoy the fact the game goes back to the basics, but it goes a bit too far leaving out the wonderful revert from THPS 3. Plus it's a bit glitchy. I also got into Tales of Vesperia but got distracted by a game I started playing in the next month.

AUGUST
Well, this isn't the game distracted me, but I bought Deadlight at the beginning of the month and while it has enjoyable parts, it especially makes a good first impression, by the end the frustrations of trial and error sections really dragged the game down for me. The game that distracted me was one of my favorites this generation: Fallout 3, I spent another 70 hours playing a new character through the main game / broken steel and all the DLC's. I then moved on to Fallout: New Vegas, I actually discovered it is cheaper to buy the Ultimate Edition with all the DLC then it is to buy all the DLC off the store. That's right it costs more for the DLC on the marketplace then it does to buy THE GAME AND THE DLC with the Ultimate Edition. I have put over 50 hours in to my new character and have been enjoying myself and the new patches seem to have helped the game tremendously since I last played it in December 2010. Also Old World Blues is awesome.

I think that about covers it what I have been doing the last few months. I'll let this sit here for a few days and then I will post the first of the two Top 10 lists I did while I was away... My 10 favorite games of this generation. Talk to you then, Loading Complete!
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Gamer's Rant #16: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Criterion)

I'm back!! I know I "officially" retired or whatever but you know what, screw that! I said I wanted to do all that stuff and maybe make a name for myself with fancy video bloggery and video content... here's the thing I am too lazy to do that **** I just want to play videogames and talk about them. So I am back because I have some stuff to talk about... and what a way to make a come back than to drop a Gamer's Rant on you!

Gamer's Rant #16: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Criterion, 2010)
I did a finished article on this game back in January 2011 and some of this rant is going to be a reiteration of that stuff but I think my love of Criterion caused me to give the game too much credit. Bottom Line: NFS: Hot Pursuit is a mediocre game at best. The game lacks personality, there are no rivals, no interesting characters, just the omnipresent Seacrest County Police Department (SCPD) serving and protecting... their ROADS. That's it. Their ****ing roads. There is no major city in Seacrest County and other than a couple of scattered tiny settlements, a few million dollar mountain houses and a couple of major landmarks such as a cost guard base and satellite dish array there are no signs of civilization here. It's just roads... and more roads. Sure that sounds fine, it's a racing game, there has to be roads to drive on but the fact that there is nothing for the police to "serve and protect" (it actually does say that on the police cars) they seem really out of place.

The second major issue is the roads are not that fun to drive on. While I do like them better than Burnout Paradise's open route races the "tracks" which are point to point races here are just not fun to race on. They are full of annoying long sweeping curves and mountain style switch backs and when you are driving some of the fastest cars on earth and have the "need for speed" you just don't get that on a lot of the tracks when you are constantly drifting going 150 when you could be going over 200. Don't get me wrong I ain't against turns any good course needs 'em there are just too many on these tracks and you can't build speed. These curves are also effected by the game's handling engine... the drifting mechanic feels weird. The cars generally handle very stiffly and react slowly to steering commands. In other words you have to hold the stick full right or full left for a second or so before the car start to be effected by the commands. It makes dodging things at the speeds the game travels more difficult then it needs to be. Then the drifting, because of the sluggish reactions of the controls you tend to over-steer your drifts and scrub off more speed than you need too because you felt the car was not responding. I really don't understand why Criterion felt the need to "Need for Speed" the controls so much when the "darty and dodgy" controls of their previous games were near perfect.

Next up: too many ****ing time trials. Criterion's time trails are a point of contention in all their games... from controller spiking burning laps in Burnout 3 / Revenge to some insane Burning Routes in Paradise they have a notorious history. Let me explain; Criterion's time trails are annoying because they fall into two categories: Perfects and Pathetics. In perfects, you have to be pretty much be perfect to get the gold medal and even so you still have to maintain good speed throughout to beat the goal time by a second or two... then there are the "pathetics" these runs are usually a joke you can crash three times and bounce off the walls all over the place and still beat the gold time by 5 - 10 seconds... a little balance would be nice. Here's the catch in NFS: HP, the racer events are like that 100%... the cop events give penalties of 2 seconds (wall hits) and 3 seconds (traffic car hits) on top of the speed or time you lost from screwing up in the first place. It makes you feel tentative and hesitant to drive fast, the thing is you are still racing the clock... it's about as fun as it sounds.

To sum up the Hot Pursuits events are the best races in the game for both the cops and the racers as it's a great battle to either win and escape or stop those damn street racers from defiling your precious roads with their need for speed. Everything else is pretty boring and generic actually. Autolog is a cool feature but only if you got a bunch of friends to compete against and even so they have to be playing the game at any given time. I really don't think it is enough to replace actual gameplay events with unless as I said you happen to have a bunch of friends and all you do is play Hot Pursuit. It's not Criterion's best effort which is why they are basically remaking Paradise as a NFS game with Most Wanted a game which I am pretty excited for. I think I feel better now... I had to get that out of my system, but hey, it got me to come out retirement.

The Future
I am back and I am ready to cover some stuff. I might have a "what I have been doing summary" in the next few days and I wrote a couple Top 10 lists in the time I was away that I should probably share with you guys. As for NLID... we are on the brink of gaming's busy season with game's like NHL 13 and Borderlands 2 hitting around a month and then you have NFS: Most Wanted, Halo 4, Black Ops II, Resident Evil 6, FarCry 3 and Forza Horizon so I don't think it will be back this year but I will probably continue it as soon as possible once things cool down on the gaming front. That should cover it, check back in a few days and I will have another blog ready to go covering in summary what I was doing during my "retirement". Talk to you then. OH YEEAH! Now Loading is back! Loading Complete!
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10 Memorable Boss Fights I Could Remember

PLEASE NOTE: This is not an official Now Loading Post. I simply had no other place to post this article.

10 MEMORABLE BOSS FIGHTS I COULD REMEMBER

Welcome to my list of 10 memorable boss fights that I could remember. This is probably one of the toughest lists I have ever tried doing; the sheer amount of boss fights that I have played, mixed with all the elements of deciding why I liked them so much made rooting through my brain for them tough. Lastly, as usual, this is my list and if you don't like it or the bosses on it... make your own and I'll be glad to check it out. This list is order from #10 to #1.

ALSO SPOILERS!!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! FINAL WARNING!

NUMBER 10: TANZRA / SATAN (ACTRAISER, SNES, 1991)

This isn't the hardest fight in the world but it takes a bit to get to as you must fight a boss rush against all 6 bosses which also have been given faster movement. You also have limited lives here so you want to make them count for the final boss because dying means doing the boss rush over. Besides in the Japanese version this guy is Satan and you are the God of this world... don't let evil win!

NUMBER 9: LENUS (THE LEGEND OF DRAGOON, PS1, 2000)

This is an odd one as it is memorable for not so good reasons. This is one of those difficulty curve breaking bosses where you'll be doing fine and then boom you meet Lenus and her incredible speed. We're talking up three turns in a row here with powerful magic item attacks that can leave your physical attackers hurting. A careful strategy is needed to survive the opening turns and even then can still end in failure; although after you do enough damage her speed is reduced and her turns are normalized. This is THE most difficult boss in the game other than the ultimate hidden boss.

NUMBER 8: META RIDLEY (METROID PRIME, GAMECUBE, 2002)

You and your rival. You have been chasing this guy all over Tallon IV and now it's time for the final showdown. But he's not gonna go down without a serious fight so you better be ready to use everything you've got to take him down. I think this is a great example of an amazing first person old-school style boss fight.

NUMBER 7: BOWSER (SUPER MARIO WORLD, SNES, 1991)

This was what the Super Nintendo could do! This is one of the more personal choices but when I got my Super NES back in 1991 and I saw this in action I was blown away. It's a classic boss fight and I love it, enough said.

NUMBER 6: JACK KRAUSER (RESIDENT EVIL 4, GAMECUBE, 2005)

The amazing QTE (quick time event) knife fight (video) where one mistake means instant death to the challenging gauntlet on the way to the tower where the final showdown happens. In which he grows a huge mutation out of his arm which he uses as a shield, he still has his incredible speed and you have a time limit. Hope you brought your TMP ammo and have been saving up that magnum you're gonna need it.

NUMBER 5: General Raam (Gears of War, Xbox 360, 2006)

General Raam... This is before Gears of War had sissy boss fights. This guy is going to kill you, especially if you don't have a co-op partner and CPU Dom is getting himself chunked by the Kryill. If there is one thing I really remember about the first Gears it is this serious boss fight... even on "casual".

NUMBER 4: YELLOW DEVIL (MEGA MAN (1), NES, 1986)

Welcome to your nightmare and the end of your Mega Man (1) playthrough. Even if you use the "select trick" to pause the game and get multiple hits with the elec beam you still have to dodge at least three waves of boss moving across the screen. You don't have any E-Tanks to save you, it's just you and the boss and he's going to win. In fact I have NEVER done it without the select trick EVAR.

NUMBER 3: MOTHER BRAIN (SUPER METROID, SNES, 1994)

You get to the end of Turian and there is good old Mother Brain in her glass jar pretty much completely helpless and you win... right? Wrong! She get's up with a huge body towering over Samus and you can't even make a dent. You're down on one knee at the mercy of Mother Brain who is reeling her head back to launch the killing blow and... you're saved by the super sized baby Metroid who drains Mother Brain's energy and gives it to Samus... Mother Brain springs back to life and does the unthinkable... SHE'S GOING DOWN FOR THAT!

NUMBER 2: GANON (ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME, N64, 1998)

Another classic epic final battle. Gannondorf uses the triforce of power to become Ganon! You are surrounded by fire, princess Zelda watching from the outside and then you have the Master Sword knocked away. Improvising you weaken him, the fire drops, Zelda holds him in place and you retrieve the Master Sword. All that's left is the bloody final blows. That's right blood in a Nintendo game, all of the Gold carts and the near release Grey carts had red blood... though most versions you find nowadays (i.e. virtual console, Wind Waker bonus disc) have green blood.

NUMBER 1: GIYGAS (EARTHBOUND, SNES, 1995)

This I will admit is a gimmick boss battle and by that I mean it's one of those bosses you don't beat through physical force alone. After you reach the second phase of the boss you are put up against something so powerful you can't even comprehend its attacks. The only way to win is to have Paula pray for the help of the people they have met along their journey... though sometimes that prayer is absorbed by the darkness putting a feeling of hopelessness over the battle. The 4 kids have Giygas on the ropes, but Paula can't think of any one else to help them pray... until you the player hear her call and start praying, delivering the final death blow to evil. The game even has you enter your real name in a 4th wall breaking moment earlier in the game. It's makes the final battle very personal and one I will never forget. Oh, and who can forget the metal theme from the first part of the fight.

So there you have it 10 boss fights that I could remember. I am sure if I wanted to take more time to review more games I could have even thought of some that could even replace the ones on this list, but regardless hope you enjoyed it.

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#719: Loading Complete!

Hi Giant Bomb,

I have decided to cancel Now Loading. I really feel the final post has the most attachment to GameSpot so if you'd like to read the final Now Loading post to end a 7 year, 7 month run which included 718 posts please go and check it out here: http://is.gd/DgWSO6. It was a tough decision but I want something more from my blogging and I want to do something bigger but I have to step away from Now Loading to think about all the stuff I need to be successful with the next era of Now Loading.

You can follow me on Twitter: @alpha99

Thanks to anyone who read the blog on here,

Tom Aitken (alpha99)

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Now Loading Update (04.24.2012) - Unfocused

The last couple of weeks I have been playing all kinds of games and enjoying them for the most part but I haven't really been able to focus on anything in particular. This of course does a number on Now Loading In-Depth a gameplay series that requires that I concentrate my efforts on a single game so that I can do write ups on it frequently. There a couple of important things to cover then I think we are good for this update, first is impressions of The Witcher 2 and second is a quick NLID status update.

Impressions: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition (X360)
I am near the end of the first chapter, just a bit after defeating the first boss monster and I still don't really know what to think of the Witcher 2. It has some good dialog, characters and some really nice graphics but so far I have found the combat clunky and unintuitive. Slash, slash, roll, magic, slash, slash, roll... I am sure it opens up but because of the focus on fighting groups of 4+ enemies you can't really lock on to just one enemy and unless you have traps you have to use hit and run tactics to make sure you aren't owned. I appreciate the fact that too many mistakes equals death but I think the combat would have been more enjoyable if you fought less enemies at once. The menus are also clunky and it is hard to get important info on an item or weapon at a glance you always have to click the item and inspect it to see the important details such as bonuses or special effects. Finding important characters and side quests is also clunky as most NPCs just say one line so you are forced to talk to everyone in the hopes of finding quests. I'll have more on it soon as I progress.

NLID Update: Phantasy Star II
I don't want to say too much because I want to save most of the info for NLID #61 but I am making good progress and I'd say if I put my mind to it I could probably have Phantasy Star II completed by the next update. I'm not going to make any promises when, because I fail at that, but I will attempt to have it done before this time next week if not sooner.

That about covers it for this update. I really want the blog to be update more frequently but that requires me to play games to update it with... Hopefully things will work out better in the next few weeks. I'll talk to you later. Loading Complete!
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In-Depth #60: Phantasy Star Series Event: Phantasy Star II #3

Wow. Can you believe we have done sixty of these things? 60! But I digress because it is time to talk about Phantasy Star II again. I really want to update you guys a bit more often, especially if I hope to even come close to clearing 150 posts in the year, but PSII just is not a game that take well to multiple updates; there just isn't anything to discuss. There is a story: something about the Mother Brain computer, who helped create peace and ease, is now causing problems for the galaxy. It sets the stage but it doesn't really do anything more than that. Therefore not much to talk about that front. What it boils down to is Phantasy Star II is one of those old school RPGs that is more about random battles and dungeons then it is about characters and story elements. I mean after that one crazy moment I mentioned in the first PSII update back in NLID #58 there really hasn't been anything worth talking about. Another thing to note is that the translation really impacts what story elements there are.

The second thing I guess is worth talking about is the supposed difficulty of the game. All I read in both the GameFAQs message boards and in the two different guides I have been using is how difficult the game is... let me put it this way... it's nothing a few old-school RPG skills can't handle. As long as you keep your levels up and keep yourself well equipped you should have no problems. If you rush in to a new area unprepared you will get smoked, it's just old-school RPGs 101. The dungeon difficulty can easily be mitigated by using a map and walkthrough to avoid getting lost in the mazes of teleporters.

The last thing I want to discuss is the Music in the game. Let me get this out there first... I can't usually stand Sega Genesis music and sound, while sound effects are nothing to get excited about; pretty typical Genesis stuff... the music is amazingly well done and has some great listenable instrument sounds. It is one of the best sound-tracks I have ever heard on the Genesis. I think that about covers it for this entry. I will try to have another as soon as possible I am almost done with the first planet of the game so hopefully more interesting stuff will happen as I make progress. Talk to you then. Loading Complete!
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In-Depth #59: Phantasy Star Series Event: Phantasy Star II #2

I'm finding that there isn't too much to say when it comes to Phantasy Star II; it's a pretty basic J-RPG. The futuristic / sci-fi elements give it charm for sure but the gameplay is pretty rudimentary. You go from town to town, dungeon to dungeon solving problems or grabbing key items. The battle system is different in that you don't select moves the way you do in most J-RPGs. Usually you select all your moves with each character and then the battle plays out... in Phantasy Star II you have a button marked fight (FGHT) and a button marked orders (ORDR). If you click fight the battle starts and does not stop until either one side is defeated or you press a button to interrupt the battle which stops after the current round of turns. The button marked orders lets you change each characters moves, but is a time consuming process and whatever you set here will play out every turn when you hit fight. So on one hand it streamlines the fighting down to hitting a single option, but it also makes it quite the process to change up what you are doing... if say you want to use a technique (magic) only for one turn... you'd have to cancel the current fight command then go into the orders section and change that characters orders again.

Phantasy Star II is grindtastic. Just like the first game it will mostly be for money but in PSII you will need to keep your characters leveled and equipped with the latest gear as the monster difficulty in each new area spikes pretty drastically. The other thing that causes the grinding is when you get new party members they all start at level 1 which means you are forced to raise them up so they don't just die immediately. Then there are the dungeons... these are over head mazes of teleporters. With maps they are only difficult if you are under-prepared for the monsters which are quite a bit tougher than the ones outside the dungeon. I think that about covers most of the gameplay mechanics... just like a lot of old 8 and 16 bit RPGs this game suffers from old-school issues like all the menus closing after using magic or items and a lot of the spell names are meaningless... you just try and guess what the hell Foi, Sagen, Shinb, Zan, Hinas or Ryuka do because the game isn't going to tell you. That's fire elemental attack, damage biomonster, make biomonster run away, wind elemental attack, escape dungeon and return to the last town you saved at in case you were curious.

As I said that about covers it for this update. I am enjoying the game, let me make that clear but some of these old-school design choices are tough to battle through at times. The next update will hopefully arrive in the next few days but we'll see what happens. I'll talk to you then. Loading Complete!
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In-Depth #58: Phantasy Star Series Event: Phantasy Star II #1

This one is going to rather short because I have been up for quite a while but finally decided to sit down and write this. Phantasy Star II for the Sega Genesis takes place 1000 years after the first game and even starts with the main character having a dream about Alis fighting the final boss from the first game. Unfortunately the translations don't match up and Motavia somehow became Mota, but you do start in Paseo which does have the same name of the town in the first game. I'll talk more about the game's mechanics in the next update but soon after I finished the first game I discovered something while reading up on PSII... Phantasy Star II is supposedly a very difficult game. While I can't confirm this for myself just yet as I am only 3+ hours into the game its nothing maps of the complicated dungeons and a few extra level ups can't deal with so far. Again I'll talk more about the dungeons and stuff in the next update in a couple of days; what really spurred this update to be released more quickly was a certain scene that played out...

Let me set the stage. After raiding the hideout of "scoundrels" you discover a ransom note to a man named Darum calling for him to dish up 50,000 meseta for the "scoundrels" to release his daughter Teim who they are holding in the tower of Nido. After rescuing the girl and putting a veil on her to protect her identity you bring her back to her father who has turned to a life of crime to get the money for her release... then (SPOILERS!!) THIS HAPPENS. DAMN... I never expected to see that... That's pretty damn shocking for a 16-bit game from 1989.

Next update I will talk more about the game mechanics and the crazy dungeons but I really wanted to not only share that crazy moment but get the next update under my belt. I will talk to you in couple of days or so with that. Loading Complete!
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Month-In-Review: March 2012

Welcome to the third Month-In-Review of 2012. Today we are going to review March and I think it was a decent month. There were a couple of dry spells and I didn't quite make the 12+ posts a month rate, but there still is a lot to talk about with 7 posts this month. Go, go, go!

MARCH 4, 2012
I gave you my impressions of the new SSX game and Split Second. SSX doesn't quite capture the magic that SSX 3 did mostly because of crappy tracks filled with bottomless pits. Split Second is a arcade racer with potential but with its developer gone will never see that potential reached.

MARCH 8, 2012
This is one of the shortest posts that I have ever made on here. In one paragraph I talk about Mass Effect 3 multiplayer a bit.

MARCH 13, 2012
This was a set of three finished article quickies where I wrote one paragraph (give or take) for each game. I covered Kingdoms of Amalur, a fun game that over stays its welcome. SSX (2012), the lackluster single player and the dumb pit filled tracks killed my enthusiasm for playing. And lastly, Mass Effect 3, I wasn't able to say much, but its a really good game with some great story moments and a slightly confusing but thought provoking ending.

MARCH 14, 2012
(NLID #55) A bit of a controversial decision had to made as I was just playing Final Fantasy 13 because I thought I had to for whatever reason. Doing that was starting to weigh on me as I honest was not getting anything from the game. I didn't really like most of the characters, the story didn't really impress me and the combat while very interesting and challenging, I felt it didn't allow for broad enough strategies and boiled down in to: you're doing it right: you win easily; you're doing it wrong: you die in minutes. It's sad but I think I am done with the Final Fantasy series for future installments.

MARCH 16, 2012
This was the quick obligatory holy crap GameSpot and Giant Bomb are joining the same group reaction post. It was pretty sweet to hear and see Jeff Gerstmann get Gerstmann-gate off of his chest though. I also listed some of my anticipated games of 2012.

MARCH 17, 2012
(NLID #56) I begin the Phantasy Star Series Event where I plan to play through Phantasy Star 1 - 4. I needed to go old-school for a while to maybe recharge my modern game batteries, I don't know if it worked but I will complete this series challenge. Most importantly: TURN OFF THE SOUND if you play the first Phantasy Star.

MARCH 27, 2012
(NLID #57) This one got delayed for two reasons I was busy playing some other games and I wanted to delay the update because I knew I was edging closer to the end of the first Phantasy Star. Regardless, it is a really enjoyable little RPG but suffers from its retro game design: A poor translation with cryptic, hard to find story triggers, grinding for money to buy KEY ITEMS and those terrible 3-D corridor maze dungeons. I have moved on to Phantasy Star II and will update you on it soon.

There you have it, March 2012 in a nut-shell. I will attempt to have more NLID updates in April as I don't think there are too many new games coming out for a while. I will have the first Phantasy Star II update in a day or two as I need to get a bit further before I can write my first thoughts. I will talk to you soon. Here's to a great April. Loading Complete!
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In-Depth #57: Phantasy Star Event: Phantasy Star #2 (Final)

The first game in the Phantasy Star Series Event has been completed. There are a lot of positive things to say about 1988's Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System. It's a decently long game for its time as it took me nearly 15 hours even with a walkthrough and all the maps. The graphics are pretty nice and there are some nice use of cut-scenes for some of the key sequences. Phantasy Star is a really good game, but the biggest problem is that it is one of those unfortunate old-school games that just does not hold up here in 2012. There are just too many old-school design issues for the game to be playable the way it was intended; without a walkthrough and maps. Here are the few that I feel hold the game back the most.

1. Poor translation / Cryptic Story Triggers
This is the flaw that most holds back someone having fun with Phantasy Star. The translation ranges from okay to bad and I am pretty sure a lot of the clues to finding the triggers for progression were lost in translation. Of course even with hints these still might tough to find... I'd say without a walkthrough you'd be extremely lucky if you figured out what to do after leaving the first town. Secrets are nice and discovering them is rewarding but there is a point were your game is being held back by not giving the player enough information to progress.

2. Grinding
This is only on here because the game doesn't have that much grinding in it. You're probably not going to be grinding for levels too much... but you will be grinding for money. There are sections of the game where you have to grind for hours to get enough money to buy key items. 12000 for a key item and the best money dropping enemies drop between 135 and 405 (group)... that's a lot of fights.

3. Pseudo 3D Corridor Maze Dungeons
These things are beyond annoying. With and without a map it is really hard to get your bearings and even the provided compass is useless because compass directions are relative to the direction you are facing and if you are turned around are not going to help you. Bottom line: mazes suck.

I think that really covers it. Those elements just make the game tough to play at times... probably now (2012) and then (1988.) If you want to play it I recommend that you use a walkthrough and maps for those stupid maze dungeons and you should have a good time if you are in the mood for an old-school RPG. The next game is of course 1989's Phantasy Star II for the Sega Genesis. I will talk to you again as soon I feel I have played enough to warrant an update. I'll try to get that update in before Saturday's Month-In-Review. Talk to you soon. Does the breeze knows of the hardships they went through? Loading Complete!
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