By Video_Game_King 5 Comments
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride(As gamers, I think we can all agree on one thing: the number 4 is awesome.) Look at all the great games in history, and you'll notice that the recurring motif is 4. Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Phantasy Star, Dragon Quest, Legend of Zelda 4, Call of Duty, Panzer Dragoon, Final Fantasy, F-yea. But look at all of those games for me. Don't most of them have sequels? Yea, the number 5 isn't usually as good as 4, but whatever, it's still pretty good, just in its own way. The best example I can think of that fits this is Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride.
You guys should already know (but don't, because you never read my first blog) that I consider Dragon Quest IV to be one of the best games ever; what you probably don't know is that when I first played Dragon Quest V, I considered it not as good as its predecessor. I still think that, but it doesn't mean the game isn't good; again, it's good, but in a different way than Dragon Quest IV. For lack of better phrasing, DQ5 is less an epic adventure to save the world and more a personal quest for your own purposes. It all begins when you, the player, are born to a mustached king named Pankraz. The game then picks up about 8 years later, when you and your dad embark on a quest to look for your mom.
That's what I meant by personal: the game focuses a lot on the major, broadly encompassing events of the protagonist's life. Everything is there, from marriage, parental death, and your first pet to having kids, teen pregnancy, and even your own death. It's a very unique way to tell the story, and it makes the game yet another in the series that will make you cry. Also like the other games, it has its own major "thing": the marriage system. In the original version, you were given a very tough choice about 40% through the game, explained here. In this reiteration, the choice is made a bit harder with a third option: a tomboy bitch who probably only marries you because she has nothing better to do. Yea, that part seemed a bit weird, especially how I've seen her explained. I've heard that she's supposed to be the wife for people who want combat-focused kids, but Bianca was fulfilling that role long before the new girl gothed her way into the game.
For those paying attention, you may have noticed that the marriage system has an actual (albeit subtle) effect on gameplay. It's not just something the developers threw in for story purposes; no, it has an effect on your battles in the late parts of the game. Speaking of battles, the battle system in Dragon Quest V is just like that of its forerunner. You know, turn based combat with a set of very general commands you can issue to either individual members or the entire team. So then why should you play this game and not Chapters of the Chosen? Or, phrased a bit more fairly, what sets this apart from its predecessor? The monster system. The basic idea is that you can recruit monsters for use in your own party. Don't be fooled, though, it's not like Pokemon or Dragon Warrior Monsters. There's no way to influence whether or not a given monster will join your party, it's mostly luck. Also, the abilities the monsters learn aren't better than that of your own party members, so the whole thing comes off as a bit superfluous. It's nice to see that some of my original complaints are still totally right.
However, some of my original complaints, like those linked to the fact that it was a very early SNES RPG, have been addressed in this remake. The graphics have received an excellent overhaul, and the music isn't as trumpety-flutey-violiny as before. So at least from a technical point of view, the game no longer feels like a very early SNES RPG. However, with this comes several new complaints I couldn't make about the SNES version, like the new board game thing. Here's how it works: you roll a die. That's it. Since there's only one path to follow, there's not really any strategy to it, making it a game of luck. You'd think that because it's not a necessary part of the game, I wouldn't criticize it so much. Yet like the friend feature of GTA4, DQ5 seems a bit too eager about this feature. About half the items you stumble across are tickets to play the game, and you can even win tickets to play the game while playing the game. If I were to compare that to something from GTA4, I'd probably say the TV thing I didn't like.
You know what, I'm already on the GTA4 analogies, so why not continue the trend? Next up are the highly annoying accents. Yes, they were in the previous game, but your allies didn't talk as much. However, your friends in this game speak quite a bit, bringing up several problems. The best I can think of is your kids. Shortly after they're born, you and your wife are frozen as stone statues. For ten years, a man with a Spanish accent thicker than your dad's mustache raises your children. When they eventually come to your aid, the first thing you discover is that they speak perfect English without so much as an abbreviated word, let alone Spanish accents of any kind. How the hell did the translators resolve this, especially since (I imagine) it's kinda hard to add accents in Japanese?
Paradoxically, I also hated when recurring characters had these stupid accents. The major villains of the game all speak in fractured Engrish the translators laughably deemed a "Russian accent." If you thought Chapter 2 in Chapters of the Chosen was annoying, spread that frustration out over the entire game. Now make the final boss speak in an ancient tongue resmebling Wingdings and give one of the characters a Ned Flanders speech impediment, and you have the stupid accents of Dragon Quest V. Yes, I'm aware that it's extremely petty to criticize a good game for something as trivial as this, but it's just something that bothered me while playing the game. I'm aware I could criticize it for worse transgressions, like short length or high random encounter rate, or laud it for the excellent story or decent animations, but I'm pretty sure I've already done most of that. In fact, I'm sure I've already said everything I wanted to say about this game. Why am I still typing this? Oh, right, the award-thing. I guess I'll give it the McCafé Award for Crapé Accénts. I can't be the only one who hates those commercials, right....é?
- The story is unique and emotional.
- Just ignore the underdeveloped monster recruitment system.
- When the hell are we getting Dragon Quest VI DS?
Since we're talking about Dragon Quest, I thought I'd post this video. It's a Dragon Quest VI ROM hack meant to be DQ4, only with a few "changes" (hint: errors) to the story.
Fallout 3 (Does anybody remember what I said back in my GTA4 review?) You know, about how I'm an expert at reviewing RPGs? Well, time to admit something: that only applies to JRPGs. It's not that I don't like WRPGs, it's just that I've never been able to get into them. The ones I've played were either incredibly confusing or just plain bad. Which one of these categories does Fallout 3...fall...into? Well, I suggest you actually read the review to find out.
It seems fate has something against me, since this blog also features a JRPG review, guaranteeing this will quickly turn into a flame war between the two sides. The WRPG side will decry the JRPG side for using the term RPG; they'll say that the fact that you don't create your own characters means that they're not RPGs. A crap argument, but whatever, I kept this in mind while playing Fallout 3, and decided to play as a character of my own creation. Not me, though, since I'm already a fictional persona. So who did I play as? From my mind came the character Bushwald Sexyface, world's sexiest albino. He's got a gruff Cockney accent, his theme song is this, and I have made a rough approximation of what he looks like:
Another complaint I kept in mind was that NPC dialogue in JRPGs kinda sucks (so I've heard), which is why I decided that Bushwald would specialize in speech. However, I soon found this to be a grave mistake, since the game is more combat-oriented than I thought it would be. Part of the problem is the apocalyptic theme, and a bigger part of the problem is that Bethesda didn't think ahead; a lot of the time, there's vast expanses of land where you won't see a soul (mutants have no souls, mind you), and Bushwald only had about three or four opportunities to seduce women. Even then, though, the dialogue isn't as open ended as I thought it'd be. Most of the dialogue choices were either inconsequential or the exact same thing as something else. The only difference was that one was what Robin would say, and the other was incredibly dickish. Bushwald would've been better off studying things like science, lockpicking, or guns. Especially guns, as another thing I soon discovered was that this game was very gun-oriented. But before I get into that, let me add this little disclaimer: the melee weapons are decent, fun to use, and there for people to use. Fisticuffs suck, but hammers and chain-hacksaws are good.
That said, the game tends to focus quite a bit on the guns. Most of the weapons in the game are guns, and most of the enemies you encounter use guns, meaning you should, too, if you don't want to become the Swiss cheese in some Super Mutant Brute's sandwich. Of course, with guns comes an added benefit: targetting specific body parts. In enters the VATS system, the game's primary battle system. In VATS, you target a specific body part a number of times, depending on how many action points you have. Then you get to watch some kickass cinematics of Bushwald missing half the time. What I like about it is that it's as strategic as you want it to be; I usually aimed for the head (for reasons mentioned later), but I can see how somebdoy could use the system strategically. However, for this to work, you have to have action points. What happens when you run out of action points? Well, you can manually aim your weapon and pretend you're playing a first person shooter.
I'm not even kidding here, it really plays a lot like a first person shooter. Circle strafing actually works better than it does in most FPSes, and you can even take cover from the enemies until you recover AP. No, not in the good "Gears of War, we actually acknowledge it" way; more in the bad, "I'm not gonna mention that game, but you know which one I'm talking about" way. I shouldn't criticize Fallout 3 too much for it, though, since you can recover AP while circle strafing, as well. Sure, the chance of being hit is larger, and it's a somewhat weird combat dance, but you still have the option.
Also, it's unfair to review Fallout 3 as if it were an FPS. This game is an RPG, and it must be treated as such, which makes it all the more amazing that I've gone several paragraphs without once mentioning anything about the story. Well, the story follows thusly: it's the year 2277, and the world has suffered a massive, crippling nuclear apocalypse. Because of it, the surface world is an irradiated hellhole, and culturally, everything froze at around 1955. You are born to Oskar Schindler, and the first hour or so of the game comprises several key moments of your life mixed with gameplay aspects like skill selection and combat. On your 19th birthday, everybody in your Vault decides to kill each other. Your dad, being the smart man that he is, decides to leave the Vault for the relatively safer nuclear hellscape of the outside world. Your duty is to find out where he went and what he plans on doing. OK, so it's already ripping off both Dragon Quest V and The Venture Bros., but the story itself is quite decent. There's a goal for the protagonist, several obstacles along the way, a few villains, and some allies along the way.
It's just a shame you can't recruit any of them. I know it's a minor issue, but why are there so few characters to recruit in the game? During my experiences, I found quite a few who you'd think would join you on your quest, but I guess they had better things to do with their time. I was only able to recruit one guy in the entire game, and it was so incredibly late in the game that I don't see why I should have bothered. Again, let me say this was a minor issue; a larger problem I found was the karma system. Like many games out there, you can choose whether to be good or evil, but it's too damn easy to be good. I was breaking into people's rooms and rummaging through their underwear more than I should have, and I still never ranked below "Good." Hell, one time I was even ranked "Very Good", represented by a picture of Pip Boy Jesus. I even managed to kill off a recurring character in the ending, and the game still found a way to make me out as the hero. Kinda like the Republicans who stuck by Bush, no matter what he did.
So what the hell is my opinion on this game? Well, it wasn't as good as I expected, but there are several reasons for that. The flaws are an obvious one, but there's also the possibility that I set my expectations too high for my first WRPG, or that I played it incorrectly. I have all this anger because of this game, but I can't exactly use it on the game. I guess I'll just insult the PC gamers who insulted JRPGs, therefore building up my expectations for their beloved WRPGs. Yea, you guys suck! What did Fallout 3 offer that made TWEWY look bad, Yahtzee? OK, I'm done with my angrying. Regardless of my overall opinion, I saw it as a good start to my foray into WRPGs. All I need are a few more transition games (some SaGa here, Septerra Core there), and I'll be speeding through games like Planescape and Baldur's Gate in no time. For this reason and one more, I give it the Great Beginnings Award. The other reason is that I now have one more game left in my Xbox 360 Marathon Rush Thing! (I consider it a beginning, somewhat.) Celebrations are in order! Let's p-what's that? I still have Dead Rising? And the two Skates? And a few guitar games? Eh, fuck 'em.