Gaming Overview: August 2012

Summer’s over, thank goodness!  It’ll stop being 100 degrees everyday (unless it’s like last year… then that won’t happen until October…), holidays are coming up, and the year’s inching closer to being over.  Oh, you’re wondering about my gaming stuff, I’m sure.  Here we go, a day early no less… and remember, I grab this information from my Backloggery page!

Any new games?

As if I’d go a month without buying something.  Compared to last month, though, there isn’t much. In order, I picked up Makai Kingdom (talking books!), Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (series killer!), Rhythm Heaven (tapping!), Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Best Buy sales!), Samurai Legend Musashi (misguided sequels!), The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (talking hats!), Driver: San Francisco (I don’t even know!), Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure (steal the beat!), Hyperdimension Neptunia MKII (parodies!), Breath of Fire III (European PSP games!), The Last Story (it’s about time!), and The Adventure of Shuggy (it’s a game!).

It’s definitely not as big as last month, but still a lot of games.  Now…

What did you beat?

Uh… well, it’s more than last month.

  • Psychonauts (8-03) – This was a Summer Challenge game, so here’s my post about it!
  • Analogue: A Hate Story (8-03) – I actually wrote a review of sorts for this on another site, so there that is!
  • Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (8-21)- Another Summer Challenge game, another link to a post!
  • Muv-Luv Extra (8-26) – The first visual novel in the Muv-Luv series… is really bland.  It’s supposed to be that way, giving a very different feel from the other two, but it was sort of boring.  It brings me closer to the awesome-ness that will be Muv-Luv Alternative, though, so it’s worth it.
  • Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure (8-28) – Fun little game.  The plot (yes, a plot in a rhythm game!) is wacky and insane, and most of the stages are fun, though some of the stages can get annoying (mainly the ones that involves tilting the 3DS).  The music is well composed and fitting, as well.

Most of the month went to trying to beat DQVI, but it’s no excuse!  Hopefully next month I’ll have a more impressive list.

Any other accomplishments?

This marks the end of my Summer Gaming Challenge… I managed to beat five out the ten games this year, which is far better than I can say for when I tried last year.  I’ll be starting a new marathon next month, which is why this is a day early… you’ll see soon!

Also, I started up a blog on the gaming website GamePodunk, called The Dusty Corner, and you get get a link to it in my sidebar, if you’re interested.  The only post I put up this month was my review of Analogue, but I’ll be posting there every once and a while, so keep a lookout!

That’s all for August!  September has me starting a new marathon, and the awesome Kirby Collection coming out!  See you then!

 

Summer Gaming Challenge #5 – Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation

It’s getting close to the end of the summer… but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my challenge!  This marks me being halfway done with my challenge, as well… of course, with only about eight or nine days left, I don’t think I’ll beat them all, but there’s still hope.  Anyway, on to the post.

How’s this one a classic?

The Dragon Quest series is well loved in Japan, and VI is not excluded from that love.  Realms of Revelation offers quite an unique storyline, and (keeping from posting anything too spoiler-y) gives the player large ‘realms’ to explore.  In addition, the vocation system allows the characters to take different jobs, customizing what they know and and their stats.  Finally, it’s just a good old Dragon Quest game:  You won’t get too many surprises when it comes to battling or core gameplay.  It’s the comfort zone of RPGs.

Before we get onto my thoughts…

This game came out AFTER Dragon Quest IX… this isn’t the first version of this game, is it?

That’s right!  The original version of DQIV was released on the Super Famicom in 1995… however, the original version never saw a Western release.  So, US and European audiences had to wait until the DS remake experience the game in English (without the help of fan translations).

Other than the cleaner visuals, there isn’t too much different between the two versions… except for with the Monster Master class.  In the original, you could recruit monsters; in the remake, you couldn’t.  There’s still a few monsters to recruit via other means, but you can no longer recruit them after a battle, like in Dragon Quest V or Dragon Quest Monsters.  Oh yeah, and there’s a touch screen mini game or something.

Now that all that’s out of the way…

What’s the verdict?

Dragon Quest VI stands up pretty well to the test of time… for the most part.  For one, it’s a Dragon Quest game:  The series didn’t make any kind of real change to its core gameplay until IX, so there’s no surprises here.  The vocation system entices players into wanting to fight battles to learn new abilities; however, vocations tend to take just a little to long to master, and unlocking just one second-tier vocation and mastering it can very well take the entire main game.

Exploring the world (or ‘realms’) is mainly painless and fun.  There are a couple points, however, where it’s a bit vague on where to go, and the constant onslaught of transportation methods to get to one or two places makes it easy to get frustrated.  Other than a couple hiccups, though, it’s not too hard to find out what to do, and the compact storylines taking place in one town/area really give a player a sense of accomplishment throughout the game.

It’s certainly a great game, with a fascinating story.  It deserves classic status, and is a great game for RPG fans.

Reading the Timeline in English

Great news!  Hyrule Historia is being translated and brought onto the Western shore.  The joy of being able to read the official timeline and more in English (and in the book’s natural form)!  It won’t come out until January 2013, but at $35, that’s a pretty decent price if you’re into artbooks and gaming history books!

Mine’s a short post, but you can check out the article here for more information about what’s in Hyrule Historia.

First Impressions – Castlevania: Lord of Shadow

I felt that the 3D Castlevanias were treated a little unfairly.  They may not be perfect, but they are trying to deviate from the tried and true 2D formulas, and it’s as though the fanbase wrongfully lashes at every little failure… but you know what?  Maybe they’re right.

Lord of Shadow (it took me way too long to not put an ‘s’ at the end of Lord or Shadow) sets to impress at first:  You’re introduced to battle mechanics at a nice pace, and quickly learn to kick butt.  Combined with the lovely graphics, it seems the game is going to be a fun ride.  However, after getting through Chapter I, my opinions quickly changed.  Instead of expanding, combat becomes more convoluted, requiring you to be able a few too many things at once.  Unlocking new combos can be exciting, but the times that you’ll be able to execute them (or remember to) dwindles as you find the few good ways to actually deal with the hoards of same-looking enemies.

Exploration is a pain; the camera tries to hide hidden paths, which isn’t the problem, but if the camera doesn’t cooperate AFTER you’ve found the spot, that is a problem.  Sometimes, if you go one path, you’ll realize too late that you can’t go back, making it that you potentially miss a secret and have to replay the level to get it.  Levels typically aren’t long, but the ones that you’ll be most likely to miss something on can be confusing, leading to frustration.

I thought the bosses are cool, at first; but running into the Ice Titan at the end of Chapter I dampened my mood a bit.  Having to play a Shadow of the Colossus battle was not something I was expecting, and it was far from fun.  However, despite that hiccup, the bosses are probably the best part about the game.  They require you to change it up and use different combos, so it’s almost a refreshing change of pace when you bump into one.

I really hope this game gets better.  I’m in Chapter II right now, and the level when you go inside the tree is very annoying (spiders hit HARD), and there’s a lot of game left to go.  There’s potential for the game to branch out a bit and become better, but I do worry that it’ll stick to its current, boring old tricks.

Finally, It Can Match!

A while back, the Japanese Club Nintendo had a gold Nunchuk you could get… mainly to match the splendid Skyward Sword WiiMote.  Other regions were understandably upset about not getting the reward… but fear not!  The gold nunchuk has finally hit the US Club Nintendo rewards!  It’s pretty neat, though it would have been awesome if it was a Gold/Platinum reward choice earlier in the year.

The bad news?  It costs 900 Coins.  900 Coins!  That’s more than a Game and Watch Collection!  It’s a high price just for a matching Nunchuk… There’s also limited quantities, but really at that price I wouldn’t worry about it running out too quickly.

Summer Gaming Challenge #4 – Psychonauts

The summer’s starting to wind down, but I’m not done yet!  In between surfing the web and doing a whole lot of nothing, I managed to beat the PC version (or, more specifically, the Steam version with achievements) of Psychonauts.  I know, I’m so productive!  Let’s see what I thought… but first:

How is this game a classic?

Psychonauts is one of the quirky games to come from Tim Schafer, and the first game to come from Double Fine Productions.  Featuring a unique concept and storyline, as well as a great atmosphere in both the campground and the within the minds that Raz explores, the game is still spoken highly of eight years later.  Even the most jaded gamers can find something to appreciate in this (somewhat) modern classic.

That’s the word on the street.  Now…

What’s the verdict?

…Please, do you expect me to do anything other than to gush over the game?  It’s amazing!  It’s really unlike nothing I played before; the use of psychic powers is fun, the premise of going into others’ psyches and see for yourself what makes them tick is great, and everything is pieced together masterfully.  The story and the sheer quirkiness kept me hooked, and bar a couple incidents, everything played great; it plays and looks better than some modern platformers I’ve played, and that says a lot coming from an eight year old game!  I’m a little sad I didn’t get to it until now… it’s been lot overdue to enjoy this classic!

I’m excited to try the other Double Fine games I picked up on Steam.  Hopefully they’ll be as great as Psychonauts!