Frustration, fables, and the return of fate's utter hatred for me

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

( My hatred for this game reaches parts of the cosmos not known to any mortal man.) My hatred for this game eclipses that of my love for the genre; I planned on beginning this portion of the blog by describing my secret love affair with the genre, but between this and Treasure Hunter G, my love for her has been waning a bit. Oh, yes, we've had some excellent memories together, like Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy Crap How Many Times Will He Mention That One Game, but in more recent installations, my love has fallen short. I shall give her two more chances.
 
Don't think I'm unaware of where I'm posting this; I know of the endurance run, and how popular it is (I think), but I have some valid reasons as to why this particular SMT game is horrible. First, the story. Like several Shin Megami Tenseis before it, you play as a collection of Tokyo teens in a quest involving demons and a corrupt government. However, unlike all the other Shin Megami Tenseis, the plot rips off TWEWY so much, that I'm sure it's the only reason why it got such high marks. More on the high marks later; right now, I must explain the story. Guess what game I'm describing: teen youths meet in Shibuya and find out that they're locked in the area. They soon receive missions from a trendy piece of tech and must embark on a journey to discover the nature of their own mysterious powers and their very deaths. Yea, not even I can tell what that's supposed to describe.
 Exclusive to the Japanese version: text that fits in the boxes.
 
Fortunately, this game was made after TWEWY, so Atlus made some improvements and did a few things different. For example, while Shiki was an annoying teen girl with a chest so flat that her mangled corpse could be used as a coffee table, Devil Survivor's Shiki-fill-in looks like two beach balls stuffed into a tank top. Oh, and she's level-headed, but that pestering optimism had to go somewhere; specifically, another character. That reminds me: there are a lot more characters in Devil Survivor than there were in TWEWY. At times, it can be a bit confusing remember who does what or why they're of any use to the characters you control. Yet to contrast the bevy of NPCs, you only get to play as a handful of them at any given time; you only get three for the first half of the game, another character from that point on, and a few others when it's too late to matter. This may sound like a petty complaint, but the small number of playable characters severely limits the strategy.
 
Wait, I forgot to get back to the strategy RPG portion of the review. You know, the whole reason why I played this game. As I was saying, Devil Survivor is essentially any given Shin Megami Tensei game wrapped in a chocolatey SRPG shell. There's a turn order above the screen that you and the demons must both adhere to. You move a character, attack an enemy, heal, activate a special ability, pick your nose, write a blog, and, if you have to proper abilities, move back to where you started. It may sound cheap that you're able to use almost all of your abilities in the course of a single turn, and while it definitely is, the enemies also have this ability. However, they're usually in much greater numbers and have much better abilities, meaning they can walk up to you and get the crap kicked out of them, but just heal away the wounds and any sense of satisfaction.
 
This is major game breaker number one for me: the difficulty. For the first few in-game days, the difficulty stays at a manageable level of hard, but when you fight your first Demon King Guy, the difficulty rockets into the insane. No matter what you do, the game is always one step ahead, ready to force you into an unskippable game over screen. If you prioritize your abilities and skill cracks to the best of your abilities, enemies will start configuring themselves in the exact manner that destroys your carefully laid-out stratagem; if you decide to split up your forces to eliminate the demons more efficiently, they'll just gang up on your tiny little teams and absolutely massacre them; if the line between victory and defeat is the death of one enemy, the random number generator will randomly generate a game over screen; and i f you're somehow skilled enough to achieve your goals with little damage (or if you break down and buy a Game Shark), the game will suddenly lock up on you.
She knows that even level 2 enemies can kill you quickly.
 
Yes, the game freezes. I did the research and found out that legitimate copies of the game have a tendency to freeze on you for absolutely no reason. There are just so many things about this game that are rough and unfinished that I don't know where to begin. How about the localization? Simply put, it's awful. I wouldn't tolerate this crap from somebody's first fan translation, let alone a professional retail product. Certain demon names overflow into other people's stat boxes, some of the names aren't translated properly, there are a few typos, and one line of dialogue is in 100% untranslated Japanese. No, that is not a joke, there is actually an entire line in Japanese. The game doesn't give any context, it doesn't try to explain/justify it at all; it just pops up at the end of a cutscene, demanding that you translate it on Google. You'd think that Atlus would have proofread the text in this game, given how much of it there is. I had enough time to proofread it, but that's probably because you can't skip any of it. Oh, there's an option called "Message Skip", but it just makes long-winded speeches go by really fast, the trade-off being that quick exchanges between characters move at exactly the same speed.
 
So you can't skip any of the dialogue, so what? At least you get to experience an epic adventure of grand scope. Wait, about that....none of that is true. Again, it's rough, messy and cluttered. There are three main ideas to take from it: the Internet and all its ilk can summon demons from the depths of hell, the government has installed chips in microwaves that make them all transform into Optimus Prime, and you're locked in this city because God's testing humanity since the Internet has nullified what He did to us after Babel. Wait, what's that last one? Something about Christianity? Then why are there about 90 other gods roaming the city? Come to think of it, why do characters have death clocks when they always reset the day they're supposed to die? Why do the same characters explain the same things time and time again? WHY CAN'T THE GAME EXPLAIN ITSELF!? It seems that's another recurring theme in the game: not being able to explain itself. It's always placing draconian limits on how to achieve a mission or how powerful the bosses are, yet it never seems content. For example, just after you finished beating the boss who can attack you from halfway across the map, you face the one who can attack you anywhere on the map.
 
There's only one instance I can think of that has frustrated me more than this game, and that would be Romancing SaGa 2. That said, I feel it fitting to describe my experience with this game in the exact same way as I did Romancing SaGa 2: rape analogies. Again, you are fighting a rapist. Not too difficult, right? Wait, I'm not done. This particular rapist has a gun and has shot out both your kneecaps, preventing you from escaping. You are now this sick man's plaything. "Somebody will come to my aid eventually", you think to yourself. What do you know, a few people do c....what's that? Is that....yes, 30 naked midgets have popped out of the bushes, ready to rape you and anyone who dares come to your aid. Hold on, I'm not done. Now imagine this scenario happening EVERY DAY AT WHATEVER JOB YOU HAVE. And if there's one thing the rapist loves more than your ass, it's working out, meaning he gets stronger with every rape session. That, dear readers, is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, and it is also why I'm confused about the reviews for this game. Just about every review I've seen gives the game extremely high marks. Either the reviewers got a much more polished copy of the game than the consumers, or I'm severely underestimating the appeal of being forced to wear diapers the rest of your life.
 
The only other explanation is that the devil fusion thing, which is good, but not good enough to fix all those issues. At any time in the game, you can buy demons and use them to fuse for better demons. It's a cool system that encourages experimenting and variety, and it doesn't have any major flaws. OK, the money you earn in the game can only go towards more demons, and the game outright demands the best fusions from you at all times, but other than that, there aren't that many issues with the system. However, there are a lot with the game, especially if you judge by the past billion articles of text. However, to those of you tuning in just now, let me summarize the review in the following twelve words: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is the worst strategy RPG I've played. In fact, that's the award I'll give it: The Worst Strategy RPG I've Played A-
 
 Malebolgia said:

I can sense the anger swelling within you. You wish revenge upon the critics who deceived you time and time again. Just speak my name, and my powers will be yours to command.

Am I hearing voices in my head? No, I won't speak your name. I don't need your powers, and I don't think many people are going to understand this reference.
 
 Malebolgia said:

Oh. It is not as if I need you. The vitriolic hatred of your review, when taken with the fact that it is on the Internet, will allow me to enter your human world of my own will! *evil laugh*

Fuck.
 

Review Synopsis

  • The story can be confusing and will rip off TWEWY at multiple points.
  • It seems that this is a strategy RPG that absolutely abhors strategy.
  • This game is rougher than PS1-era textures.
 
 
 
 
Hey, remember my Takeshi's Challenge blog? You know, where I went insane and my wife posted the first half of my blog/Ren & Stimpy episode? Well, here's the second half, which at this point in time, comes off as a much-needed catharsis.
 
 
 

Fable II

( Oh my, it seems that yet again, I have beaten an Xbox 360 WRPG starting with F alongside a DS JRPG!) How could I have known that such a thing would happen? *unconvincing wink* OK, I'm not totally clueless on the fact that this was planned. There were two reasons why I did this: because I sort of planned it as a sequel to my first ever Bushwald Sexyface blog, and it seemed that my beating this game was lining up with Devil Survivor. However, neither of those reasons ever held up in the end, but you already know that. At least you know that for the Devil Survivor part, given how delayed this blog is.
 
 Notice the complete and utter lack of Sexyface. An unforgivable crime.
But what about the Sexyface part? I have yet to delve into it. I shall, but not now. First, I want to say that this game had the potential for one of the best intros ever. It begins with a bird fluttering through a medieval forest. It flies about the world like a more graceful Navi, showing us a vibrant, highly realistic CGI world with limitless opportunities. The bird arrives at your town, knowing that you are the hero of legend. Elated, the bird displays perhaps the most realistic depiction of bird shit in video game history. In a far simpler tone, the game begins with a bird shitting on the protagonist. Notice how I didn't say "your protagonist", as Fable II lacks character customization. What the hell, Molyneux? You don't give me character customization? OK, to be fair, you can buy certain clothes, hairdos, and tattoos, all completely legitimate forms of customization. However, they've all some stat which affects how people see you, which is only semi-legitimate. We don't enter Bullshit Backwoods until we find that the only way to change your look is to act/look a certain way throughout the game.
 
I played this game so that I could relive the life of Bushwald Sexyface for an end-of-the-year blog thing I'm planning; but when I discovered the utter lack of character customization, I gave this game the Sexyface Seal of Disapproval. Oh, and I decided that my new character would forever wear a dress and poofy wig to display his shame for all to see. However, this plan went downhill when I noticed all the men in town were trying to get inside my Little Sparrow. So I dressed him a bit differently and proposed to the nearest girl with an "I love you" fart that lasted nine hours. Why I married her is still a mystery; she serves absolutely no purpose in the actual game whatsoever. As in real life, her only purpose is to suck up your time and money until she hits you with a divorce. I couldn't find any purpose to this feature in the game.
 
However, it was quite easy for me to think of a very obvious way this could have affected the game somehow: a party system. Yea, both you and your wife could journey the land, fighting enemies in the name of justice. Hell, I can name a billion games that have already done something like this (Lufia II, Dragon Quest V, Fire Emblem 4, Lost Odyssey, Fire Emblem 7, etc.), but none of them seem to be WRPGs. Why is it that none of the WRPGs I've played feature a party system of any kind? It's not like the genre is incapable of this; I remember Ultima games having a party system, and I've always thought MMORPGs evolved from WRPGs, yet none of the WRPGs I've played have had any substantial party system. Yet unlike Fallout 3 and Shadowrun, Fable II teases you with very realistic possibilities of a party system. Wifey aside, there's a collection of recurring heroes who, time and time again, prove their worth in battle for one mission. There's little to no reason why they can't join you in battle, but it seems their only purpose is to relax at the base while you do all the world-saving.
 
The only help you get is a street mutt blessed with an extremely long life, but at the cost of any intelligence or ability to be trained. You see, rather than actually helping you during combat or doing anything else that could be interpreted at useful, he spends most of his time sniffing out treasure, something he loves to do. Oh, the game says he'll give up the hunt when there are enemies nearby, but I've never once seen the dog enter a fight, let alone sacrifice treasure for it. And it's not even good treasure he finds; usually, it's absolute crap like condoms or things I could have found myself without any help whatsoever. Still, he's the only reliable source of income I had throughout the game, as after a few in-day hours of work, I refused to take another job for the rest of my days. They're all underpaying variations of the exact same mini-game again and again. Just like real life!
 
Yet in a video game, I'd rather spend my time beating people up, especially if that particular game happens to be Fable II. After all, the story isn't particularly thrilling, the character interaction is a bit weird compared to other WRPGs, and the world feels too linear to explore. So combat. You get three areas where you can specialize: swordplay, ranged weapons and magic. It's a good system that seems to encourage playing the game according to your own style, gaining experience based on what you do and investing it in what you please. How you gain experience is weird and flow-breaking, but I'll explain it a bit more later. Anyway, each of the three combat styles are easy to use and kill enemies efficiently, save the piece of crap guns you'll fire throughout your journey. The only problem (and arguably the major one) is the fact that magic beats all other options. Early in the game, I decided I'd don a black cloak, shove all my points into lightning, and electrocute anything with legs while screaming "ULTIMATE POWER!!!!" The game didn't chastise me much for it, since I could die at any minute with death penalties so lenient, you'd think Fable II was set in New England. To be fair, though, I'm aware that my spell had special effects on it and that the other spells don't, but the lack of MP and brevity of charge time don't lend any faith to other opinions.
Could it be....a conspiracy!?
 
I guess that's pretty much Fable II in a nutsh-crap, questing! I forgot questing! Well, maybe there's a good reason: there's not much to say about it. The game's linear, we know that, but every now and then, it'll arbitrarily force you to do a few sidequests before you can proceed through the game. It has the good intentions of making the game less linear, something I'd welcome after Fallout 3's almost linear mission structure, but it feels like a rough way of implementing it. I could see it as a great mix of linear story focus and non-linear exploration in another game, but it still needs a bit more work before such a thing is possible. OK, so that's Fable II in a nutshell: still not what I've expected from the genre. Yet oddly enough, it's a game that every reviewer has loved enough to call GOTY, despite nobody I know having confessed to liking the game. Therefore, I give it the Halo 3 Award, and await every single one of you to flame me based on that one comment. It doesn't piss me off; hopefully, all that anger will be enough to summon enough demons to fill 9 football stadiums.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Several of the features, like the heroes/wifeys/dog, serve one purpose: tease you about the possibility of a party system.
  • The battle system is OK, if too easy.
  • This game has the best rendering of bird shit I've seen in any video game.
 

A Third Thing

(As long as we're on RPGs, I might as well mention something.) Before me sit three RPGs I could potentially play. Now the smart thing would be to do what I feel is best, but because I'm an Internet whore, I've decided that you shall vote for it! My Parliamenty Fresh, here are your choices:
 
Golden Sun, since it's a "unique" JRPG that I feel people will urge me to play for all time.
Mother 1+2, as I've found a way to play them both in English, and it'd be interesting to see my opinions on them now.
Mystic Ark. Weird, but you have to realize a full translation has come out, allowing me to replay the game as it should have been to begin with. Besides, nobody else has recommended any games I should replay. I'm entirely open to that, but nobody's coming in.
 
Now vote, my Parliamenty Fresh, for I am quite sure all the citizens will be too busy yelling at me for not liking these games.
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37 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

( My hatred for this game reaches parts of the cosmos not known to any mortal man.) My hatred for this game eclipses that of my love for the genre; I planned on beginning this portion of the blog by describing my secret love affair with the genre, but between this and Treasure Hunter G, my love for her has been waning a bit. Oh, yes, we've had some excellent memories together, like Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy Crap How Many Times Will He Mention That One Game, but in more recent installations, my love has fallen short. I shall give her two more chances.
 
Don't think I'm unaware of where I'm posting this; I know of the endurance run, and how popular it is (I think), but I have some valid reasons as to why this particular SMT game is horrible. First, the story. Like several Shin Megami Tenseis before it, you play as a collection of Tokyo teens in a quest involving demons and a corrupt government. However, unlike all the other Shin Megami Tenseis, the plot rips off TWEWY so much, that I'm sure it's the only reason why it got such high marks. More on the high marks later; right now, I must explain the story. Guess what game I'm describing: teen youths meet in Shibuya and find out that they're locked in the area. They soon receive missions from a trendy piece of tech and must embark on a journey to discover the nature of their own mysterious powers and their very deaths. Yea, not even I can tell what that's supposed to describe.
 Exclusive to the Japanese version: text that fits in the boxes.
 
Fortunately, this game was made after TWEWY, so Atlus made some improvements and did a few things different. For example, while Shiki was an annoying teen girl with a chest so flat that her mangled corpse could be used as a coffee table, Devil Survivor's Shiki-fill-in looks like two beach balls stuffed into a tank top. Oh, and she's level-headed, but that pestering optimism had to go somewhere; specifically, another character. That reminds me: there are a lot more characters in Devil Survivor than there were in TWEWY. At times, it can be a bit confusing remember who does what or why they're of any use to the characters you control. Yet to contrast the bevy of NPCs, you only get to play as a handful of them at any given time; you only get three for the first half of the game, another character from that point on, and a few others when it's too late to matter. This may sound like a petty complaint, but the small number of playable characters severely limits the strategy.
 
Wait, I forgot to get back to the strategy RPG portion of the review. You know, the whole reason why I played this game. As I was saying, Devil Survivor is essentially any given Shin Megami Tensei game wrapped in a chocolatey SRPG shell. There's a turn order above the screen that you and the demons must both adhere to. You move a character, attack an enemy, heal, activate a special ability, pick your nose, write a blog, and, if you have to proper abilities, move back to where you started. It may sound cheap that you're able to use almost all of your abilities in the course of a single turn, and while it definitely is, the enemies also have this ability. However, they're usually in much greater numbers and have much better abilities, meaning they can walk up to you and get the crap kicked out of them, but just heal away the wounds and any sense of satisfaction.
 
This is major game breaker number one for me: the difficulty. For the first few in-game days, the difficulty stays at a manageable level of hard, but when you fight your first Demon King Guy, the difficulty rockets into the insane. No matter what you do, the game is always one step ahead, ready to force you into an unskippable game over screen. If you prioritize your abilities and skill cracks to the best of your abilities, enemies will start configuring themselves in the exact manner that destroys your carefully laid-out stratagem; if you decide to split up your forces to eliminate the demons more efficiently, they'll just gang up on your tiny little teams and absolutely massacre them; if the line between victory and defeat is the death of one enemy, the random number generator will randomly generate a game over screen; and i f you're somehow skilled enough to achieve your goals with little damage (or if you break down and buy a Game Shark), the game will suddenly lock up on you.
She knows that even level 2 enemies can kill you quickly.
 
Yes, the game freezes. I did the research and found out that legitimate copies of the game have a tendency to freeze on you for absolutely no reason. There are just so many things about this game that are rough and unfinished that I don't know where to begin. How about the localization? Simply put, it's awful. I wouldn't tolerate this crap from somebody's first fan translation, let alone a professional retail product. Certain demon names overflow into other people's stat boxes, some of the names aren't translated properly, there are a few typos, and one line of dialogue is in 100% untranslated Japanese. No, that is not a joke, there is actually an entire line in Japanese. The game doesn't give any context, it doesn't try to explain/justify it at all; it just pops up at the end of a cutscene, demanding that you translate it on Google. You'd think that Atlus would have proofread the text in this game, given how much of it there is. I had enough time to proofread it, but that's probably because you can't skip any of it. Oh, there's an option called "Message Skip", but it just makes long-winded speeches go by really fast, the trade-off being that quick exchanges between characters move at exactly the same speed.
 
So you can't skip any of the dialogue, so what? At least you get to experience an epic adventure of grand scope. Wait, about that....none of that is true. Again, it's rough, messy and cluttered. There are three main ideas to take from it: the Internet and all its ilk can summon demons from the depths of hell, the government has installed chips in microwaves that make them all transform into Optimus Prime, and you're locked in this city because God's testing humanity since the Internet has nullified what He did to us after Babel. Wait, what's that last one? Something about Christianity? Then why are there about 90 other gods roaming the city? Come to think of it, why do characters have death clocks when they always reset the day they're supposed to die? Why do the same characters explain the same things time and time again? WHY CAN'T THE GAME EXPLAIN ITSELF!? It seems that's another recurring theme in the game: not being able to explain itself. It's always placing draconian limits on how to achieve a mission or how powerful the bosses are, yet it never seems content. For example, just after you finished beating the boss who can attack you from halfway across the map, you face the one who can attack you anywhere on the map.
 
There's only one instance I can think of that has frustrated me more than this game, and that would be Romancing SaGa 2. That said, I feel it fitting to describe my experience with this game in the exact same way as I did Romancing SaGa 2: rape analogies. Again, you are fighting a rapist. Not too difficult, right? Wait, I'm not done. This particular rapist has a gun and has shot out both your kneecaps, preventing you from escaping. You are now this sick man's plaything. "Somebody will come to my aid eventually", you think to yourself. What do you know, a few people do c....what's that? Is that....yes, 30 naked midgets have popped out of the bushes, ready to rape you and anyone who dares come to your aid. Hold on, I'm not done. Now imagine this scenario happening EVERY DAY AT WHATEVER JOB YOU HAVE. And if there's one thing the rapist loves more than your ass, it's working out, meaning he gets stronger with every rape session. That, dear readers, is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, and it is also why I'm confused about the reviews for this game. Just about every review I've seen gives the game extremely high marks. Either the reviewers got a much more polished copy of the game than the consumers, or I'm severely underestimating the appeal of being forced to wear diapers the rest of your life.
 
The only other explanation is that the devil fusion thing, which is good, but not good enough to fix all those issues. At any time in the game, you can buy demons and use them to fuse for better demons. It's a cool system that encourages experimenting and variety, and it doesn't have any major flaws. OK, the money you earn in the game can only go towards more demons, and the game outright demands the best fusions from you at all times, but other than that, there aren't that many issues with the system. However, there are a lot with the game, especially if you judge by the past billion articles of text. However, to those of you tuning in just now, let me summarize the review in the following twelve words: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is the worst strategy RPG I've played. In fact, that's the award I'll give it: The Worst Strategy RPG I've Played A-
 
 Malebolgia said:

I can sense the anger swelling within you. You wish revenge upon the critics who deceived you time and time again. Just speak my name, and my powers will be yours to command.

Am I hearing voices in my head? No, I won't speak your name. I don't need your powers, and I don't think many people are going to understand this reference.
 
 Malebolgia said:

Oh. It is not as if I need you. The vitriolic hatred of your review, when taken with the fact that it is on the Internet, will allow me to enter your human world of my own will! *evil laugh*

Fuck.
 

Review Synopsis

  • The story can be confusing and will rip off TWEWY at multiple points.
  • It seems that this is a strategy RPG that absolutely abhors strategy.
  • This game is rougher than PS1-era textures.
 
 
 
 
Hey, remember my Takeshi's Challenge blog? You know, where I went insane and my wife posted the first half of my blog/Ren & Stimpy episode? Well, here's the second half, which at this point in time, comes off as a much-needed catharsis.
 
 
 

Fable II

( Oh my, it seems that yet again, I have beaten an Xbox 360 WRPG starting with F alongside a DS JRPG!) How could I have known that such a thing would happen? *unconvincing wink* OK, I'm not totally clueless on the fact that this was planned. There were two reasons why I did this: because I sort of planned it as a sequel to my first ever Bushwald Sexyface blog, and it seemed that my beating this game was lining up with Devil Survivor. However, neither of those reasons ever held up in the end, but you already know that. At least you know that for the Devil Survivor part, given how delayed this blog is.
 
 Notice the complete and utter lack of Sexyface. An unforgivable crime.
But what about the Sexyface part? I have yet to delve into it. I shall, but not now. First, I want to say that this game had the potential for one of the best intros ever. It begins with a bird fluttering through a medieval forest. It flies about the world like a more graceful Navi, showing us a vibrant, highly realistic CGI world with limitless opportunities. The bird arrives at your town, knowing that you are the hero of legend. Elated, the bird displays perhaps the most realistic depiction of bird shit in video game history. In a far simpler tone, the game begins with a bird shitting on the protagonist. Notice how I didn't say "your protagonist", as Fable II lacks character customization. What the hell, Molyneux? You don't give me character customization? OK, to be fair, you can buy certain clothes, hairdos, and tattoos, all completely legitimate forms of customization. However, they've all some stat which affects how people see you, which is only semi-legitimate. We don't enter Bullshit Backwoods until we find that the only way to change your look is to act/look a certain way throughout the game.
 
I played this game so that I could relive the life of Bushwald Sexyface for an end-of-the-year blog thing I'm planning; but when I discovered the utter lack of character customization, I gave this game the Sexyface Seal of Disapproval. Oh, and I decided that my new character would forever wear a dress and poofy wig to display his shame for all to see. However, this plan went downhill when I noticed all the men in town were trying to get inside my Little Sparrow. So I dressed him a bit differently and proposed to the nearest girl with an "I love you" fart that lasted nine hours. Why I married her is still a mystery; she serves absolutely no purpose in the actual game whatsoever. As in real life, her only purpose is to suck up your time and money until she hits you with a divorce. I couldn't find any purpose to this feature in the game.
 
However, it was quite easy for me to think of a very obvious way this could have affected the game somehow: a party system. Yea, both you and your wife could journey the land, fighting enemies in the name of justice. Hell, I can name a billion games that have already done something like this (Lufia II, Dragon Quest V, Fire Emblem 4, Lost Odyssey, Fire Emblem 7, etc.), but none of them seem to be WRPGs. Why is it that none of the WRPGs I've played feature a party system of any kind? It's not like the genre is incapable of this; I remember Ultima games having a party system, and I've always thought MMORPGs evolved from WRPGs, yet none of the WRPGs I've played have had any substantial party system. Yet unlike Fallout 3 and Shadowrun, Fable II teases you with very realistic possibilities of a party system. Wifey aside, there's a collection of recurring heroes who, time and time again, prove their worth in battle for one mission. There's little to no reason why they can't join you in battle, but it seems their only purpose is to relax at the base while you do all the world-saving.
 
The only help you get is a street mutt blessed with an extremely long life, but at the cost of any intelligence or ability to be trained. You see, rather than actually helping you during combat or doing anything else that could be interpreted at useful, he spends most of his time sniffing out treasure, something he loves to do. Oh, the game says he'll give up the hunt when there are enemies nearby, but I've never once seen the dog enter a fight, let alone sacrifice treasure for it. And it's not even good treasure he finds; usually, it's absolute crap like condoms or things I could have found myself without any help whatsoever. Still, he's the only reliable source of income I had throughout the game, as after a few in-day hours of work, I refused to take another job for the rest of my days. They're all underpaying variations of the exact same mini-game again and again. Just like real life!
 
Yet in a video game, I'd rather spend my time beating people up, especially if that particular game happens to be Fable II. After all, the story isn't particularly thrilling, the character interaction is a bit weird compared to other WRPGs, and the world feels too linear to explore. So combat. You get three areas where you can specialize: swordplay, ranged weapons and magic. It's a good system that seems to encourage playing the game according to your own style, gaining experience based on what you do and investing it in what you please. How you gain experience is weird and flow-breaking, but I'll explain it a bit more later. Anyway, each of the three combat styles are easy to use and kill enemies efficiently, save the piece of crap guns you'll fire throughout your journey. The only problem (and arguably the major one) is the fact that magic beats all other options. Early in the game, I decided I'd don a black cloak, shove all my points into lightning, and electrocute anything with legs while screaming "ULTIMATE POWER!!!!" The game didn't chastise me much for it, since I could die at any minute with death penalties so lenient, you'd think Fable II was set in New England. To be fair, though, I'm aware that my spell had special effects on it and that the other spells don't, but the lack of MP and brevity of charge time don't lend any faith to other opinions.
Could it be....a conspiracy!?
 
I guess that's pretty much Fable II in a nutsh-crap, questing! I forgot questing! Well, maybe there's a good reason: there's not much to say about it. The game's linear, we know that, but every now and then, it'll arbitrarily force you to do a few sidequests before you can proceed through the game. It has the good intentions of making the game less linear, something I'd welcome after Fallout 3's almost linear mission structure, but it feels like a rough way of implementing it. I could see it as a great mix of linear story focus and non-linear exploration in another game, but it still needs a bit more work before such a thing is possible. OK, so that's Fable II in a nutshell: still not what I've expected from the genre. Yet oddly enough, it's a game that every reviewer has loved enough to call GOTY, despite nobody I know having confessed to liking the game. Therefore, I give it the Halo 3 Award, and await every single one of you to flame me based on that one comment. It doesn't piss me off; hopefully, all that anger will be enough to summon enough demons to fill 9 football stadiums.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Several of the features, like the heroes/wifeys/dog, serve one purpose: tease you about the possibility of a party system.
  • The battle system is OK, if too easy.
  • This game has the best rendering of bird shit I've seen in any video game.
 

A Third Thing

(As long as we're on RPGs, I might as well mention something.) Before me sit three RPGs I could potentially play. Now the smart thing would be to do what I feel is best, but because I'm an Internet whore, I've decided that you shall vote for it! My Parliamenty Fresh, here are your choices:
 
Golden Sun, since it's a "unique" JRPG that I feel people will urge me to play for all time.
Mother 1+2, as I've found a way to play them both in English, and it'd be interesting to see my opinions on them now.
Mystic Ark. Weird, but you have to realize a full translation has come out, allowing me to replay the game as it should have been to begin with. Besides, nobody else has recommended any games I should replay. I'm entirely open to that, but nobody's coming in.
 
Now vote, my Parliamenty Fresh, for I am quite sure all the citizens will be too busy yelling at me for not liking these games.
Posted by Oni

Golden sun! Golden Sun! Golden Sun! And you HAVE to play part 2 after it, it pays off in spades. The first game is great, the second is fucking EPIC.
 
Also Fable 2 is fun but shallow. And the people in that game are annoying.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Oni: 
 
Oddly enough, that was the game I was hoping would get the least votes. Nothing against it, but the other blogs I feel would be a bit more interesting.
 
Exactly. Who thought a fat hero would work? Or a pompous rich guy who hates your guts?
Posted by Breadfan

Kicking chickens and being a general dick is great fun in Fable II

Edited by Claude

Knights of the Old Republic was WRPG and it had a party system, Mass Effect too. I liked Fable 2 and my dog fought for me, even got hurt quite a few times, good dog.

Posted by Eirikr

Devil Survivor's story is only similar to TWEWY at first, mostly because of its location and the death clocks. The idea of a demon lockdown in Tokyo actually apes more from the first Shin Megami Tensei more than anything.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Br3adfan: 
 
But combat and quests aren't, unfortunately :P.
 
@Claude:
 
I haven't played those games, so I'll tackle that when I get there.
 
@Eirikr:
 
Plus there's the whole "Japanese government is evil and highly incompetent if a couple of teens can take them down" thing. I played a bit of the first one, but navigation was so confusing and horrible that I just gave up.
Posted by RHCPfan24

Wow, very long blog you got there. I have been skeptical about Devil Survivor but interested nonetheless. This blog really changes my view though; Scribblenauts will be my next DS game for sure.  Fable II is awesome though; I see you liked it but had qualms as well. Me too, I thought combat wasn't excellent and there were some weak side quests as well the main quest. But I still loved it and spent a long time with it.

Posted by Eirikr
@Video_Game_King: *shrugs* 
 
It would just help if more people knew the greater context of the Megami Tensei series, is all.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@RHCPfan24: 
 
If it isn't, I'd suggest Professor Layton, seeing as how that game is really good.
 
@Eirikr:
 
Wait, gameplay-wise or story-wise? I can see the latter, but not the former, given how the game keeps pushing the limit of how hard a boss is, even though they passed the limit about nine bosses ago, probably in an entirely different game.
Posted by Eirikr
@Video_Game_King: I meant story-wise, but I guess knowing how to abuse the gameplay works too. 
 
I definitely had trouble with certain bosses in Devil Survivor, but usually when this series throws a brick wall at you, they give at least one vine to climb over it. It's just a matter of figuring it out, I guess. I also don't think you are necessarily wrong about criticizing its difficulty either, so you know.
Posted by RHCPfan24
@Video_Game_King: Oh, I already bought Layton. That game is damn fine, I must say.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Eirikr: 
 
Still, it seems to get carried away too early with this here's an example, using the 7th day I had:
 
One hard boss
Two bosses who add up to be harder than the first guy
A boss who can hit you halfway across the screen
A boss who can hit you wherever you are, but you can't reach him unless hack your way through 12 enemies before him. Oh, and just for the hell of it, essentially an automatic game over if you have one guy left.
Two normal bosses. This is a break.
Many of the bosses from previous points in the game, faced one after the other, no healing or revival, topped by a boss who can attack you anywhere and who changes weakness whenever his turn comes up.
 
For that last one, the only vine I saw was "use my Suspend feature to abuse the RNG." It was my only hope, since only the protagonist survived.
Posted by Eirikr
@Video_Game_King: I had no troubles at all with the final day. By then, I had learned that having a tank unit with three Almighty spell casters + MP recovery passive skills equaled unmatched destruction. But hey, it sounds like you beat the game anyway, so the end result is the same regardless of how either of us got there.
Posted by ryanwho

DS was an alright game, except for the final boss if you take the path that strips you of your demons. That was kinda messed.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Eirikr: 
 
Yes: a bad ending :P.
 
I took the path that may as well have stripped me of my demons, since they all died by the time I saw the giant black eye-thing.
Edited by Jeust

I agree with you... 
 
But i add that SMT: DS had too much text and too little interaction with the gameworld, as almost all of the time you pass between combat, dialogs and menus... there is no exploration of the enviroment. 
 
I found it a bit dull :( 
 
Fable 2 is tasteless after a while, as you see as paper thin the albion is. 
 
I liked much more Fable. 
 
@Video_Game_King: Play SILENT HILL 2! :p 
 
If not you can try Mystic Ark, as golden sun isn't as special as that. The story is very derivated, though it was a good plot twist if you play gs1 and gs2. 
 
Cheers

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Jeust: 
 
Yea, it seemed like a lot of the interaction was just the game's way of wasting time until something big happened. Usually, your character's chance to skullfuck the Grim Reaper by avoiding death far more often than he should have.
 
Wait, you know of Mystic Ark? I'd say it's just because you didn't like Golden Sun that much, but if that was the case, you'd probably have gone for Mother 1+2.
Posted by crunchUK

You can get parties in fable. Just get people ot like you enough until they will follow you.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@crunchUK: 
 
Do they help you in combat, like in most RPGs I've played? Or are they there solely for inflating your ego :P?
Edited by Jeust
@Video_Game_King said:

" @Jeust:   Yea, it seemed like a lot of the interaction was just the game's way of wasting time until something big happened. Usually, your character's chance to skullfuck the Grim Reaper by avoiding death far more often than he should have.  Wait, you know of Mystic Ark? I'd say it's just because you didn't like Golden Sun that much, but if that was the case, you'd probably have gone for Mother 1+2. "

 
I know... I didn't like much golden sun, because it doesn't have nothing trully remarkable, except... maybe the graphics for at the time there wasn't all that many games like it. It was a game that paid homage and bought decent rpgs to the gameboy advance.
 
I know Mystic Ark... And i love rpgs, but good ones. Sadly i haven't play all that many rpgs on the snes. Illusion of Time was cool though, as final fantasy VI. 
 
Ahhh and another rpg-ish, that falls in the category of SRPG, you might like and should try is Lost Magic for the DS. It's a great game, with just one problem: stupid as a door knob minions. 
Posted by ArbitraryWater

You really didn't like Devil Summoner, did you? Oh well, I'm sure that I would have had more fun with it than Jagged Alliance (a game which I purchased instead of SMT:DS). It might have been good in 1994, but it sucks now, especially for full price.
 
I am actually playing through Fable II right now, and I can say that I enjoy it. Sure, the game itself is somewhat flat and linear, and the RPG elements are rather shallow, but the "why the hell not?" tone throughout the game, as well as the surprisingly good combat system are what I find enjoyable. 
 
However, I agree that the lack of Bushwald Sexyface is definitely a con (and I can also see why you don't like it)

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Jeust: 
 
Damn it, now you've colored my view of the game that I will eventually play! Damn it!
 
Weird, but whatever.
 
Racist! I'll have you know that some of my smartest friends are doorknobs :P.
 
@ArbitraryWater:
 
Um, probably? Not that much of a PC gamer, so the end result would probably be a multiple of your hatred for the game.
 
Wait, what "why the hell not?" tone? I didn't notice that part.
 
Anything lacking in Bushwald Sexyface is a shame to mankind. However, if something has the components of Bushwald Sexyface, then all is forgiven.
Edited by ArbitraryWater
@Video_Game_King: I bought Jagged Alliance for the DS at the full price of $29.99 USD, which is perhaps why it was harder for me to deal with than usual. 
 
As for Fable II's tone, the game really doesn't take itself very seriously and that can be said for a lot of the stuff you can do throughout the game. Want to get married? Sure. (It is at this point that I will tell you that you do, in fact, get a larger bonus of whatever your house grants you when you have sex with your wife instead of sleeping alone) Want to marry a dude?  Sure.  Want to marry 3 dudes and murder them all? Sure. etc.
 
I found this tone to be a nice contrast from all the gravitas and melodrama that can be found in both Western and Japanese RPGs, but that's just me.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
Oh, OK, I get what you're saying. After all, the game does feel incredibly Disney-fyed, if Disney movies had sex and farts.
 
Eh, sometimes I find that melodrama fitting. All that's needed is a matching feel; otherwise, it comes off as hypocritical or just plain boring.
Posted by Jeust
@Video_Game_King said:
" @crunchUK:   Do they help you in combat, like in most RPGs I've played? Or are they there solely for inflating your ego :P? "
And you can hire a bodyguard if you want. 
 
So it can help you in combat. 
 
Sorry about colouring your view... but by the time you'll play it, my opinion will be just a blur. 
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Jeust: 
 
Especially since I've decided not to play it yet, purely to maintain a sense of objectivity.
Edited by Jeust
@Video_Game_King:  
 
True... but in my experience, the views of others generally don't infer in a bad way in my appreciation of the game.  
 
Well if they say "its the best EVA", i'm generally bound to be dissapointed, and criticize the game maybe overly. 
 
But if not, generally i have a more complex and sustained view of the game, that i can totally scrap, and call it a bland lie or i understand where it comes from but still it i have  my own opinion. 
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Jeust: 
 
Same here, but I'd like to keep things safe. I don't like other opinions on the scene when I'm trying to form my own.
Posted by Jeust
@Video_Game_King:  
 
You do well :) 
Posted by AgentJ
@Oni said:
" Golden sun! Golden Sun! Golden Sun! And you HAVE to play part 2 after it, it pays off in spades. The first game is great, the second is fucking EPIC.  Also Fable 2 is fun but shallow. And the people in that game are annoying. "
I agree! GOLDEN SUN GOLDEN SUN GOLDEN SUN! DO BOTH! 
 
I'm interested in the complaints you lodged against the SMT game, but i'll probably still pick it up. 
Posted by Video_Game_King
@AgentJ: 
 
Don't. Keep in mind that I reserve rape analogies for only the most frustrating moments in video games. It's not like I'm comparing the puzzles in Professor Layton to ass-ramming, am I?
Posted by AgentJ
@Video_Game_King said:
" @AgentJ:   Don't. Keep in mind that I reserve rape analogies for only the most frustrating moments in video games. It's not like I'm comparing the puzzles in Professor Layton to ass-ramming, am I? "
Sorry, but you actually partly contributed to my want by comparing it to TWEWY so closely. Besides, not everyone is super-frustrated by the same games. I would compare Disgaea to rape, thats for sure. 
Posted by Video_Game_King
@AgentJ: 
 
I wouldn't, as I haven't played the game. Then again, perhaps it is possible that Disgaea is a lot like rape. I know that these two games are both very much like rape.
Edited by crunchUK
@Video_Game_King said:

" @crunchUK:   Do they help you in combat, like in most RPGs I've played? Or are they there solely for inflating your ego :P? "

IF they're fighty they will fight enemies. If that makes any sense...... And i don't remember in fable 2 whether you could do this but in fable 1 you could go to twinblade's bandit camp, get bandits to foollow you and they would attack the innocent too.
Posted by Oni

Oh dude if you haven't played the Knights of the Old Republic games, those are an absolute must, as well. The first one, anyway.
 
ALso I still have no idea how you have the time to fully play all of these games!

Posted by Video_Game_King

It's just a stupidly huge amount of free time.