Posts tagged ‘jrpg’

Design Journals: Soul Sacrifice (omg this is awesome), BL2 redux, & Atelier Totori the mystery continues

**Soul Sacrifice** vita
You are not Conan, but this is the type of place Conan lives in.
You’re the type of peasant he knocks aside and as you emerge from that trough a wizard abducts you. Trapped in a grotesque prison you turn to your one nerdy pursuit reading. Soul Sacrifice uses the meta-narrative to further its gameplay, and much like Assassin’s Creed those novel skills carry over to the “real world” however unlike Assassin’s Creed the game with in a game really works. You see you’re reading the journal of the insane necrophile that trapped you in a cage of human bones. Desperation in the real world means the readings become surprisingly engaging especially as they involve a blood thirsty femme fatale who for reasons not yet revealed saves said future necrophiliac super crazy cannablistic wizard guy. The result is a monster hunter clone that is strangely anti-monster hunter. While the gory fantasy world is at odds with my taste, the set up works perfectly to make the gameplay more intriguing and the game has the balls to lets you decide which of 6 weapons you want to bring into battle. The result is blood spewing machine gun replicates (doesn’t work) to some beautiful and hefty ice swords to a pumpkin headed charge move. Loot is weapons in this game and weapons have about the shelf life as say a cauldron of healing potions or some twizzlers. Weapons wear out giving them a disposable feeling, but these little disposable tinker toys have surprising effects. The game lacks the Monster Hunter traps so far, but honestly this is quite different from monster hunter. Soul Sacrifice is an Inafune game to the core, weapon swaps are constant & the humor never ends. The game’s central mechanic revolves around the bleak surroundings and the sacrifice or save mechanic, which is nice I like choosing my exp and the moral decision to sacrifice or save is fun especially as this Conan like world values life about as highly as a Mars bar. The game encourages you to be a bad guy and Being a compulsive psychopath obsessed with collecting attack level ups is rewarding. Haven’t even gotten to the online play yet, but did i mention this is a romance novel too? Yes, that insane psychopath full of eyes and gore above was in love, how he ended up insane and if learning his old spells will really help you is for you to decide. Good work japan studio…. Just please the blood machine gun thing… No. Oh btw just played the demo am sold on full game pretty sure original and then maybe Delta. Also now super crazy hype for mighty no. 9

**Borderlands 2** ps3
Everyone I know has played this game to death, this week I finally played it to death. True vault hunter mode, co-op and I am tired. Just don’t see it anymore. Not as fun, even 86 gazillion guns gets old. But it still is the best co-op game of a generation of co-op games. Army of Two? Fuse? All,of these games think a co-operative mechanic makes a co-op game. What they didn’t get is that confining a player to working together makes the game less fun. They also failed to understand that progression is progression: you shouldn’t need a partner just to progress when last gen you could do it alone. What Borderlands understands is that each player makes the game expand. You go from being a shotgun wielding Berzerker to a support guy for a sniper who is all glass canon, the game opens up, cars fill with ready bodies waiting for the kill. The storyline is juvenile trash, funny at moments, but never rising above a teenager’s imagination. It did all of this by borrowing the elemental affinities from JRPGs and wrapping them in a fart joke of an FPS. Its all about retarded fun with friends, something overly serious co-op games just didn’t get. Glad to know Bungie was taking notes. Just around level 47 my Siren feels played, the game feels predictable, and the enemies start to come down with ease, still can’t remember the last time I replayed a game like this.

**Atelier Totori** Vita
The problem the game faces is that finding the right components for your crafting are the quests, but then the game wants you to go on its quests. You should just be able to click on a missing component for an item add it to a list and then go on finding missing components and there by producing quests and then maybe a time limit and reward for early completion with some points for extra daredevil battles. Throw in a midboss and final boss for the quest for components to craft silver ingots for a new armor plat for your tank. In other news I can now craft armor, but doing this will require numerous time consuming side trips that will not net me favor with the adventurer’s guild who prefer quests to be of the go there and get 3 of this variety. Time in Atelier is a factor, in fact you might want to fore go sleeping for a simple healing potion, but really the storyline is so meandering that I am not sure if I should waste time so as to advance the narrative or spend it all the more preciously because the game becomes a serious spreadsheet chomper towards the end I am told. Still the time based story events make the game feel fresh, as if the narrative is reacting to you which it is, the game features numerous endings, its just the ending to what that the story fails to remind you. Totori misses her teacher Rorona, but strangely fails to have the usual jrpg resolve to solve the mystery of her mother. For someone who vowed to become an adventurer to find a loved one, she is dizzy and inconsistent. But the game made me laugh and its like nothing else out there. So many ideas in this one, its just not quite made for me.

July 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Just Beat the Wonder Flick demo

Level-5 decided to take the jump into mobile gaming a little more seriously than their competitors and designed an entire RPG with the idea of mobile behind it. Wonder Flick is probably the most well designed iOS game I have ever played. the menus and dialogs are all touchable. the combat system uses the screen to good use. the design is similar to the family friendly stuff found in Popcap’s games. This is a jrpg designed with Peggle and Coin drop in mind.
The towns are maps you click on, as is the over world. Random encounters happen in lush fields as you make your way to the cave. The dungeons are fairly simple you rotate and tap a door to enter. It works well and the variety of dungeons probably improves over time. In other words Wonder flick is optimized for on the go play, long hauls to dungeons are turned into map jaunts, dungeons become choices between doors, the whole thing works, but nothing works as well as the combat system.

Wonder Flick presents you with a choose of circular jewels to flick at the enemy. The sword is a basic attack, the diamond is a skill, and the star is magic. You flick them at the enemies, left for the left most enemy, forward for the middle, and right for the rightie. Once flicked the tokens take a second to replenish and they respawn in a randomly. You can end up with a screen of only heal pots or all magic attacks and no MP. Basic attacks respawn quicker than abilities or magic making them your bread butter. Sometimes you stagger an enemy and have 5 seconds to flick the corresponding tokens into the Enemy to trigger an attack. Beyond the basic tokens are a series of circles in circles tokens that when flicked take 3 of your existing tokens to make a combo. Then there is an item token that can be used for potions for hp and mp and a mystery token that opens a roulette wheel that triggers item theft, a gold rush mini-game, or nothing at all. The gold rush can easily net you 200 gold in a go. The 3 circles combo token is useful because certain tokens can be used to trigger special abilities. When you flick the 3 circles token, 3 empty slots appear on the screen you flick into. You can throw an item pot on the end of a basic attack chain and you get a group heal, other buffs can be accessed similarly. This leads to a decent amount of strategy in the game as you save your pots waiting on circle chain tokens to trigger a group heal or a buff. It’s the right amount of skill and luck to make knowledgable use of tokens valuable while having you curse your luck if the corresponding token doesn’t spawn. The only major flaw with the system is that I often found myself,looking down at my tokens and not up at the enemies meaning I missed stagger combos if I didn’t hear the noise. Ad justing to the visual complexity of the can take time, you have to manage your attention between the tokens and the world.

After battle you get the option to take 15 gold (a little less than a health pot) or gamble on more by rolling three dice. I circulated between the options constantly. This does bring up a little problem: money can be a problem in Wonder Flick. After the first level of the Dungeon was completed I struggled to best the second boss and ended up farming for a day or two for more coins. The fact that the average battle doesn’t even pay enough for a heal pot makes saving difficult. At the end of each battle you can also spend pink currency to boost your rewards, I did this once and got 300g when I would have gotten 15. I am not sure, but I believe the pink currency can be purchased using micro transactions so beware, the game might require real cash for gold later on the game. The pink currency can also be used to power up your mystery attack but I am not sure how. Finally, the game keeps track of your daily in game movement and a red foot bar counts down to your final step. When I first tried for the dragon boss I ended up grinding so much I used up all of my footsteps twice in a day and had to use pink coins (the demo comes with 33 pinkies) hence consistent play appears to require cash too. Your footsteps appear to refill everyday though. the pink coins aren’t terribly obtrusive, there are no pop-ups wanting cash or otherwise. I was able to finish the demo in about 3 days with out paying a cent to Level-5. If the rest of the game will be free is another question. I kinda hope Level-5 makes the game affordable rather than free to play. Wonder Flick is a great jrpg with an innovative and necessary combat system and great art design, it just needs to avoid the temptation of trading in quality gameplay for a micro transaction fest. At times the limitations on footsteps and the pecuniary gold drops made the game feel like a slog towards micro translations, but it turned out I just needed to farm lower level dungeons and wait a day. If Level-5 can deal with the minor over grinding & money problems Wonder Flick could dominate. This might be the start of a new breed of jrpg and is a really necessary step forward in terms of iOS game design.

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December 7, 2013 at 6:20 am Leave a comment

In praise of fascism or Ni No Kuni

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About all we knew was that Shadar was evil. His means were horrendous, in the family safe environments of our game there exists a condition: broken hearted. Shader imposes this condition, how exactly he does I do not know. He has never come down to impose it on me, and the condition is so common that his imposition of it must spread like a disease, people all over the content are broken hearted except one little area Shadar decimated where he left behind a single witch to carry out his heart extracting activities.

Ni No Kuni approximately translates to another world. That is where the action happens in this game: in a fantasy land that connects with the “real” through a surprisingly wholesome mechanic of feelings. Why one world would be exciting, large, and quite adventurous and the other is a mundane town is another question. Does the excitement of the other world require a boring counterpart at it’s base? Is our world in other worlds a sedate pill from which fantasy suckles? Motorville is the emotionally regular plateau on which Ni No Kuni rests, an entire fantasy globe transcribed to a single linear plane of automobiles and country stores. This fact is rarely acknowledged in the storyline.

Shakespeare stole from other stories. He told tales he had heard from others, but his genuis was in finding the reasoning and diversity of people residing in them. Anyone can tell you Hamlet, but who can explain Hamlet? Much less who can make an indecisive brooding douche bag into a compelling character? Ni No Kuni follows acknowledged tropes: you are the Messiah, “the one the prophecies foretold” but the game offers little explanation for Oliver’s actions. Your name is Olivier btw, your magical doll is Mr. Drippy (high lord of the faeries) who comically has a Welsh or Scottish accent so deep it becomes amusing. Ni No Kuni might be designed by Level-5, but it lacks Miyazaki’s magical ability to make relatable characters. The characters in the game are literally cut from stereotypical cloth. In the 50 something hours I spent in the game, it rarely stopped for characterization and even story moments while often uplifting are scarce in plot detail. Ni No Kuni has great design, but a puny storyline unworthy of the Ghibli heritage. This isn’t a case of plot by theft, rather it is laid out in so stereotypical a fashion the story is in the commons: your are the Messiah.

As the Messiah Oliver espouses the virtues of kindness and selflessness. He is hardly as complicated as Buddha or compelling as Christ, rather he is plain and his philosophy hardly varies into the harsh reality of ethics. He is simply put a childhood fable, but one whose momentary influence on a child’s ethics will be shattered the moment a child decides to take a selfish act. Oliver acquires and maintains his status as the good guy by remaining “pure hearted” or simple in his ethical dimension. This is why Shadar is such a surprise.

Ni No Kuni’s main nemesis is a wizard known for leaving his victims “broken hearted”. The broken hearted are enfeebled in such a manor that they can no longer accomplish basic duties like opening doors, adventuring, etc. Shadar attacks your group several times in the game, but never quite fleshes out as a character. Once you beat him the game attempts an explanation of his actions: Shadar was a soldier blah blah saw some atrocities blah blah asked to kill kids refuses blah blah is horrified by war and… becomes an evil wizard to stop war. Yes Ni No Kuni is a game in love with fascism. Shadar’s global reign of evil is also a time of peace. In order to prevent war Shadar became a dark wizard who intimidated an entire globe into acquiescence. I know. Way to go Shadar. This one little factoid might be the storyline’s defining moment. It’s the only thing in Ni No Kuni that provides depth to the characters.

The Pokemon like battle system is awesome, in the higher levels your a.i. Driven companions can become a bit of a chore, but over all the affinities, the weaknesses, the strengths all balance out to a remarkably interesting team. Leveling up creatures to their final form isn’t a lengthy task and the game provides a gym somewhere to do it.

Graphically the game is just amazing. Studio Ghibli’s creations are some of the most intricate and well designed creations in the history of animation, and the expression and characterization their designs provide are amazing. In the end players of this game will go in for this reason. The battle system is ok, the storyline is passable, but drops into the horrid at times, however the world is enchanting and the privilege of raising Ghibli pets is hard to pass on. I had a lot of fun.

September 23, 2013 at 2:24 am Leave a comment


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