Atelier Totori, Skyrim Update, and Xenoblade Chronicles

Atelier Totori: Adventurer of Arland

I dropped Atelier Totori last night after about 13 hours of play time. While I wasn't totally hating it, I was having a lot of trouble finding the motivation to keep playing since the game is, in my opinion, pretty thin on story. I had never played one of the Atelier games before, and when I saw that Totori had come out last winter, I figured it was a good chance, since I could add it to my Christmas wish list. Critics had generally nice things to say about it, I like turn-based RPG combat, and the art seemed cute. I figured Totori and I would get along quite well.

And, I guess, in some respects we did. Atelier Totori's combat mechanics are perfectly serviceable -- same with the crafting mechanics (though I feel like the system relies more on the sheer volume of items you can create, rather than any meaningful depth or complexity). The problem is, I found little motivation to quest and craft when there was so little story to chase. Yes, I know that Totori is becoming an adventurer so that eventually she can search for her mother, but like Fate/Extra, the road to solving the mystery is incredibly repetitive. Go out, fight monsters, collect alchemy ingredients, return to City, claim quest rewards, go to Atelier, make stuff, go out to fight monsters again. I don't mind some routine in gameplay (I am, after all, a huge Persona fan), but in the case of Atelier Totori, I didn't find enough about any of it interesting enough to continue with the tedium.

I did appreciate having the ability to play the game in Japanese with English subtitles -- I wish this was something game companies who license and distribute Japanese games in the US would do more often. I also thought the art style was absolutely gorgeous, though while I love my cute things, the game was a little too moe in tone, even for me.

Skyrim

In one long play session, I was able to complete several small items on the bucket list I created last time, and I made some decent progress on some of the larger goals. Here's what I got done:

  1. Completed "A Night To Remember"
  2. Completed requirements to buy properties in Riften and Solitude (waiting until I get 100k gold to buy them)
  3. Reached just over 50k gold
  4. Obtained Explorer achievement
  5. Completed 1 side quest (The White Phial)
  6. Completed 1 main story quest (Diplomatic Immunity)

It's a decent amount of progress, I guess, for one play session. I have a major written assessment to do this weekend for a job I've applied for, so I'm thinking that next week while I'm waiting to hear back about whether or not I made the next round of selection would be a great time to fall back in to the Skyrim k-hole for a few days. I'm hoping in my next session to complete Act 2 of the main storyline, but we'll see.

Xenoblade Chronicles

I realized the other day that it is going to be impossible for me to ignore Xenoblade Chronicles. This is more than a little frustrating for me since the game is on the Wii. I bought the Wii when I was still figuring out the types of games I'd like to be playing as an adult, fuelled primarily by my childhood nostalgia for Mario and Kirby. The thing is, the adult me really doesn't care about platformers or cart racers, and I have been pretty content to allow my Wii to sit in a corner and gather dust since I realized that.

And then came Xenoblade Chronicles.

Since it's being lauded as one of the best JRPGs ever, there's no way I can leave it alone. The Wii must be dusted off, the batteries in the Wii-mote replaced. The real problem is that after I accomplished all this, I realized that I'd never connected my Wii to my HDTV and the composites make everything look terrible. Looks like in addition to the game, I'm going to need to pick up some Wii component cables and, likely, a classic controller pro.

The things we do for video games.

Anyone have any opinions on off-brand Wii Component cables? They run about $35 here and I wouldn't mind saving a bit of money and buying some weird brand, but I don't want to waste money on something that doesn't work.

7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Cathryn

Atelier Totori: Adventurer of Arland

I dropped Atelier Totori last night after about 13 hours of play time. While I wasn't totally hating it, I was having a lot of trouble finding the motivation to keep playing since the game is, in my opinion, pretty thin on story. I had never played one of the Atelier games before, and when I saw that Totori had come out last winter, I figured it was a good chance, since I could add it to my Christmas wish list. Critics had generally nice things to say about it, I like turn-based RPG combat, and the art seemed cute. I figured Totori and I would get along quite well.

And, I guess, in some respects we did. Atelier Totori's combat mechanics are perfectly serviceable -- same with the crafting mechanics (though I feel like the system relies more on the sheer volume of items you can create, rather than any meaningful depth or complexity). The problem is, I found little motivation to quest and craft when there was so little story to chase. Yes, I know that Totori is becoming an adventurer so that eventually she can search for her mother, but like Fate/Extra, the road to solving the mystery is incredibly repetitive. Go out, fight monsters, collect alchemy ingredients, return to City, claim quest rewards, go to Atelier, make stuff, go out to fight monsters again. I don't mind some routine in gameplay (I am, after all, a huge Persona fan), but in the case of Atelier Totori, I didn't find enough about any of it interesting enough to continue with the tedium.

I did appreciate having the ability to play the game in Japanese with English subtitles -- I wish this was something game companies who license and distribute Japanese games in the US would do more often. I also thought the art style was absolutely gorgeous, though while I love my cute things, the game was a little too moe in tone, even for me.

Skyrim

In one long play session, I was able to complete several small items on the bucket list I created last time, and I made some decent progress on some of the larger goals. Here's what I got done:

  1. Completed "A Night To Remember"
  2. Completed requirements to buy properties in Riften and Solitude (waiting until I get 100k gold to buy them)
  3. Reached just over 50k gold
  4. Obtained Explorer achievement
  5. Completed 1 side quest (The White Phial)
  6. Completed 1 main story quest (Diplomatic Immunity)

It's a decent amount of progress, I guess, for one play session. I have a major written assessment to do this weekend for a job I've applied for, so I'm thinking that next week while I'm waiting to hear back about whether or not I made the next round of selection would be a great time to fall back in to the Skyrim k-hole for a few days. I'm hoping in my next session to complete Act 2 of the main storyline, but we'll see.

Xenoblade Chronicles

I realized the other day that it is going to be impossible for me to ignore Xenoblade Chronicles. This is more than a little frustrating for me since the game is on the Wii. I bought the Wii when I was still figuring out the types of games I'd like to be playing as an adult, fuelled primarily by my childhood nostalgia for Mario and Kirby. The thing is, the adult me really doesn't care about platformers or cart racers, and I have been pretty content to allow my Wii to sit in a corner and gather dust since I realized that.

And then came Xenoblade Chronicles.

Since it's being lauded as one of the best JRPGs ever, there's no way I can leave it alone. The Wii must be dusted off, the batteries in the Wii-mote replaced. The real problem is that after I accomplished all this, I realized that I'd never connected my Wii to my HDTV and the composites make everything look terrible. Looks like in addition to the game, I'm going to need to pick up some Wii component cables and, likely, a classic controller pro.

The things we do for video games.

Anyone have any opinions on off-brand Wii Component cables? They run about $35 here and I wouldn't mind saving a bit of money and buying some weird brand, but I don't want to waste money on something that doesn't work.

Edited by believer258

The adult in me loves platformers and cart racers. It does not, however, enjoy anything moe. This might be totally ignorant of me, but how can one enjoy the anime-inspired graphics and stories of JRPG's and then turn around and say that they're too old for platformers? This blows my mind. Why, as an adult, can you not enjoy something colorful and whimsical?

Anyway, Skyrim. That's actually a great game for people with only short bursts of free time. You can save literally anywhere and it's easy to boot up the game, enjoy the world, and shut if off twenty minutes later. Or, come a day off, it's easy to boot up in the morning and then shut down the next morning because of hunger, tiredness, and a need to change pants.

Meanwhile, the Wii isn't going to look very good no matter what cables you plug into it. At this point in time, it's just a butt-ugly machine, even with component cables. Well, except for the Metroid Prime Trilogy, but even on Gamecube my rose-colored glasses make Metroid Prime 1 the most gorgeous game ever. And the critical side of me can't argue because the art and level design is still so damned good.

Edited by Cathryn

@believer258: Re: Platformers, etc...

I didn't play games (save for a few rare exceptions) from the time I was 12 until I got back in to them again when I was 25. I don't think you have to be a kid to enjoy games that are colourful and whimsical, I mean that the fact that I enjoyed them when I was a kid didn't mean I'd still enjoy them when I was 25. The thing is, though, in that long period of time, a person's tastes can change considerably.

I have a serious amount of childhood nostalgia for the first three Mario games. When I got back in to games years later, I figured I'd still enjoy that style of gameplay, so I spent a lot of money on Nintendo stuff, and then wound up not really liking platformers so much. Not because I don't like things that are colourful and whimsical, but because I just don't like those kinds of mechanics. Or, really, in first-party Nintendo stuff in general. They're just not the kinds of games I want to play.

I mean, Katamari is probably one of my favourite series. I don't think it gets much more colourful and whimsical than that ;D

Just looking at the menus, I know I need some kind of improvement on the Wii. Even if it's only slight, it'd feel like a major improvement to me, I think. I wouldn't mind giving it a try, at least.

Edited by Ducksworth

After doing a bit of research I bought Madcatz branded component cables. Apparently the more expensive brands like the official Nintendo cables do provide a slightly better picture than the cheaper ones but in the grand scheme of thing it's a negligible improvement. From what I've seen, even with the cables the picture wont improve all that much. You'll get a slightly nicer picture but that means that the jaggies become more visble.

The reason I went with the Madcatz cables is because they were very cheap ($12-$15) and they were also universal. I know that they support the PS2, Xbox, Wii and (I think) Xbox 360. It does not support Gamecube games but when you put a Gamecube game in the Wii it'll ask you if you want to run it in progressive scan mode. In general it does the job fine with Gamecube games but for whatever reasons Resident Evil 4 has this strange watery effect around Leon whenever he turns. Anyways, I hope that was helpful.

Edited by pekoe212

The Arland series is sort of a return to the traditional model of alchemy/shop management from the original games, from what I understand (but with combat added in). If you want something with a bit more story and less focus on item creation, and no time management, you could try the Atelier Iris series on PS2. This is the only other Atelier series I've played and I think they created it to appeal to a western audience. They took the item creation bit of the traditional Atelier games but put it in service of an RPG. The games are not perfect, they are low budget NIS games, but they are colorful and a lot of fun in my opinion. If I remember they also have Japanese language options too.

You have reminded me I need to check the status of my Wii. I bought it a couple years ago but have yet to complete a game on it. It's been gathering dust. I feel like I better start playing something and getting used to motion controls to prepare myself for Xenoblade.

Posted by Cathryn

@Ducksworth: Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. I'll keep an eye out for the Madcatz cables. I think the reason why the wii looks so bad to me is because the last time I used the wii on a regular basis, it was hooked up to a pretty nice-sized SD TV and, of course, it looked pretty good back then. On my HDTV, ugh, it looks so bad :/ Any improvement would be totally welcome.

@pekoe212: Yeah, that sounds more my bag, but with the size of my current backlog, I think I'll probably give it a pass and play more stuff I'm pretty certain I'll like better ;D

From what I've read about Xenoblade Chronicles, it's much better to play it using a classic controller anyway. You can use motion controls, but apparently they're inferior to regular controller controls.

Posted by believer258

@Cathryn said:

@believer258: Re: Platformers, etc...

I didn't play games (save for a few rare exceptions) from the time I was 12 until I got back in to them again when I was 25. I don't think you have to be a kid to enjoy games that are colourful and whimsical, I mean that the fact that I enjoyed them when I was a kid didn't mean I'd still enjoy them when I was 25. The thing is, though, in that long period of time, a person's tastes can change considerably.

I have a serious amount of childhood nostalgia for the first three Mario games. When I got back in to games years later, I figured I'd still enjoy that style of gameplay, so I spent a lot of money on Nintendo stuff, and then wound up not really liking platformers so much. Not because I don't like things that are colourful and whimsical, but because I just don't like those kinds of mechanics. Or, really, in first-party Nintendo stuff in general. They're just not the kinds of games I want to play.

I mean, Katamari is probably one of my favourite series. I don't think it gets much more colourful and whimsical than that ;D

Just looking at the menus, I know I need some kind of improvement on the Wii. Even if it's only slight, it'd feel like a major improvement to me, I think. I wouldn't mind giving it a try, at least.

Ah. Well, the way you worded it sounded like you were completely shunning anything like that simply because you were older. Excuse my misunderstanding.

Posted by AdzPearson

I agree with you regarding platformers. While I don't completely hate them, I don't really have the desire to spend a lot of time with games like that anymore. I've tried, but they just don't do anything for me like they used to. That's probably why I'm not interested in the majority of Nintendo's first party stuff.