Egge's New PC adventures, Part #2 - Emulation Nation

Yet another advantage of having a new gaming PC is that you can emulate more hardware-intense console platforms such as the PlayStation 2. For a very long time, the critically acclaimed dungeon crawler Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (2001) didn' not work very well on the leading PS2 emulator (PCSX2), but with version 0.9.8 the game finally appears to run without problems.

As far as Japanese Wizardry spin-offs go, Tale of the Forsaken Land is easily among the most original and atmospheric entries. Apart from immersive dungeon exploration and turn-based combat in a fully polygonal graphics engine, ToFL also introduces additional elements to the conventional party system by having individualized recruitable party members with goals and aspirations of their own, as well as an intriguing trust/alignment system which lets the player's actions in the game have a direct effect on what the party members think of him or her.

Despite having meant to check out ToFL for quite some time now I've still not played the game much at all, but with this new convenient option to play on the PC instead of having to hook up a PS2 to my HD TV (not the greatest idea to begin with) I just might get around to it...

Another PS2 game which I've criminally neglected, despite owning sealed copies of both it and its sequel, is Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga. Designed as a slightly more accessible title than the unabashedly hardcore JRPGs Atlus was primarily known for at the time, DDS weaves a fascinating and unsettling tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which a group of young people become possessed by demons and are forced to literally devour other living beings in order to stay alive.

DDS1's art design is slick and heavily stylized (almost as cool as Shoji Meguro's rock-heavy soundtrack), and the intriguing game world is inspired by Indian and Buddhist traditions which appear to give extra weight to an already compelling narrative. The actual gameplay revolves around a conveniently fast-paced turn-based combat system, which nonetheless has the usual depth in battle tactics and character/upgrade customization that one might expect from an Atlus RPG. I have no idea when I'll ever find time to play through DDS1+DDS2 (which together form a complete story split up in two parts), but from what little I've seen both games seem to provide a unique, atmospheric and addictive JRPG experience.