Weekly Gaming Update #16 – Hey, wait a second…

What happened to #15? I was pretty sick last week, so I didn’t want to write anything.  So this will just have two weeks worth of updates instead!

Of course, this is a day late itself…

New Games Bought

Super Mario Run
I played the demo, it was fun enough, so I bought it.

Backstage Pass
I bought an indie VN bundle from Indiegala, but this is the only game I decided to actually keep from it.  Seeing as it retailed at $30 and the bundle was $4.49, so it was a decent deal regardless.  Hopefully the game is good!

Burly Men At Sea, Kathy Rain, Machinarium
These are the games I decided to keep from the Humble Mobile Great Adventures Bundle.  Yay more mobile games!

Shovel Knight: Specter of Darkness
I didn’t technically buy this, but the update finally came through on Wii U!  I only love more Shovel Knight.

New Games Started

Kirby: Planet Robobot – In Progress
Super Mario Run – Beaten
Burly Men at Sea – Beaten
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment – In Progress

Games Beaten

Burly Men At Sea
It’s a very short, but pretty and neat adventure game.  There’s really nothing more to say about it, though.

Super Mario Run
I found Super Mario Run to be… weird.  I like it, but at the same time, I don’t.  The Tour mode is extremely short, so the bulk of game time goes to Toad Rally.  Toad Rally is interesting in theory… race against other people and go for the best score.  But, with different colored Toads to collect, kind of ridiculous requirements to unlock things, and losing Toads if you happen to lose, it’s more of a grind than any premium game has any right to be.  But, it’s still fun.  I got particularly good at the sky Toad Rally stages, so I was able to eventually accumulate Toads, but it can really be a pain losing by a couple points and losing 20 or 30 Toads.

In Progress

Persona 5
I’ve been making progress, but with such a long game, it’ll take a while to get through.  I’ve made it to the fifth Palace, and I’m still loving the game.  It’s the mix between Persona 3 and 4 that I always wanted.  I wish it didn’t take so long to really level up social skills, though… I want to level up Confidants, darn it!

Kirby: Planet Robobot
I’ve gotten through the first three areas.  This is probably the best Kirby game I’ve played–the ways that they mixed up the ‘same old’ formula is amazing, and it’s done without having to change the core of the game like Mass Attack or Rainbow Curse do.  It’s really worth picking up and playing.  Additionally, the Code Cubes (read: Progress MacGuffins) are pretty easy to pick up if you’re observant, so I don’t feel like I’m being gated because I have the wrong power at the wrong time or something.

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
I’ve been waiting for this!  Specter Knight plays really differently from Shovel Knight and Plague Knight, but it’s so much fun using the auto lock on and dashing around maps.  Of course, I’m kind of bad at it, so I have to have the clock that prevents auto-death from pitfalls and spikes at all times, but it’s worth it.  I’m working through the final stages now, and it really requires some precision platforming.  It’s a blast!

Goals for Next Week:

I need to beat some shorter games… My spending has caused a bit of a problem with my backlog this month!  So, I want to at least try and even it all out, or at least not have the numbers looking as bad as they are now.  I have several shorter games to work through, so it’s time to take a break from Persona 5 and bunker down on them!

Well, we’ll see how I do next week.

Advertisements

Weekly Gaming Update #14 – Never See You Coming

Damn battle theme is on repeat in my head.  At least it’s a good one!

New Games Bought:

Persona 5
It’s finally here!

New Games Started:

Persona 5 – In Progress

In Progress:

Persona 5
Well, I actually took a vacation to play this, so it’s little wonder that this is all I played this week.  I’ve gotten about 30 hours in, and I’ve gotten through the third Palace.  Other than feeling like the game is really restricting my time during certain periods, the game is pretty much exactly what I wanted from it.  Damn these unlucky deaths, though…

Goals for Next Week:

Maybe try to beat Monkey Island?  I’m mainly going to play Persona 5, I’m not going to lie.

See you next week!

 

Review A Great Game Day – Riviera: The Promised Land

art

Sting is a relatively long standing game development company, but not necessarily a well known one.  Many of their early games were confined to Japan, and even when Atlus started picking up localizations for some of their games in the sixth generation of consoles, they were very niche games for system that were usually nearing the end of their lifespan.

If anyone knows Sting, it’s probably from one of two things–either the extremely strange and disturbing rouge-like Baroque, or their self dubbed Dept. Heaven series of games.  We first saw the Dept. Heaven games in the West with the Game Boy Advance remake of Riviera: The Promised Land (originally released on the WonderSwan), and the game was released over six months after the Nintendo DS hit store shelves.  Needless to say, both Riveria and the Episode II to Dept. Heaven, Yggdra Union (which released on Game Boy Advance a year later) were mostly ignored by the gaming community.  Despite PSP remakes of Riviera, Yggdra Union, and Knights in the Nightmare (Dept. Heaven Episode IV… no, there’s no episode III), Sting’s Dept. Heaven games are still relatively niche and unknown, and that’s really a shame.  The four games in the series (the last one is Gungnir, since I’m naming them off) are all very unique games, twisting and stretching genre conventions in such ways that you’ll never play anything like them… even within the same series.

So, let’s start at the beginning then, shall we?

5

Riviera: The Promised Land tells the story of Ein, a Grim Angel.  To understand what a Grim Angel is, though, requires a look into the game’s backstory.  A thousand years before the beginning of Riviera, the ancient prophesied battle of Ragnarok took place.  As per legend, the battle is supposed to wipe everything out… but the gods of Asgard broke their deal of the ancient pact, and instead of dying on the field of battle, they sacrificed themselves to create the Grim Angels.  These Angels fight the demons of Utgard and eventually defeated them, turning the land of Utgard into the peaceful realm of Riviera.

Fast forward a thousand years, and according to the Seven Magi (entrusted with the knowledge of the gods of Asgard to watch over Riviera) the demons are beginning to resurface, and it’s up to Ein and his partner Ledah to stop them, although it will destroy Riviera in the process.  However, they fail, and Ein is struck with convenient amnesia, to give him the chance to bond with the citizens of Riviera and learn the true, dark secrets of the Seven Magi.

Riviera doesn’t really have a revolutionary story–it’s really just there to give the player a reason to go from point to point, and why exactly they’re fighting in the first place.  All of the plot twists are foreshadowed far in advance, and anyone with a passing knowledge of JRPG plots will know how Riviera will play out.  But this game’s brightest point isn’t the story; instead, it’s in the game’s deep and complex mechanics that Riviera really shines.

2

Instead of dungeons, Riviera is separated into different ‘Stages’.  While you explore them a bit like dungeons, you can’t just run around them, and they’re split into separate rooms with their own events to trigger.  However, you can’t just check everything in every room all willy-nilly… you need Trigger Points to perform most actions in a Stage.  Not only that, but not all actions are beneficial to your party, just being a waste of Trigger Points or downright hurt someone (even with permanent stat decreases!).  So, it’s very important to know when and where to use Trigger Points to your benefit.

You may be asking, though, how do you get more Trigger Points?  By doing well in battle!  Battling isn’t much like an average RPG, either.  It is turn based, and theoretically you use attacks and items to win the day, but even these seemingly simple concepts are changed into something far more strategic.

I’m don’t think that I’m the best one to explain the battle in and of itself, so let’s take a bit from Damian Thomas’ RPGFan review of the game from long long ago:

Every now and then, when you enter an area or activate a trigger event, you’ll encounter demons. If you agree or are forced to fight, you are given lots of options. First, you can check out the enemy, including their stats, formation, weaknesses, and receive some handy hints on tackling that particular enemy or group. Next, you choose the three party members that will fight the battle and what formation they will take. Finally, you get to choose four weapons/items to take with you into battle. This can sound limiting, but it’s really not that bad, and it forces the player to implement a strategy, rather than just hack away with whatever they have on.

As the PCs and enemies trade blows, gauges fill up. The enemies have a “Rage” meter and when it fills up, the next enemy to attack will use its Max move, which can be pretty damaging. Fortunately, as they attack, the enemies use up part of the Rage meter, thereby staving off the threat of a Max attack. As you kill off enemies, the Rage meter shortens to a maximum of half its original size, making it easier for the enemies to get Max attacks.

The other gauge is the three-level Overdrive meter. As mentioned before, mastering certain weapons/items unlocks an Overdrive move. When the players give and receive damage, the Overdrive meter fills up. If the meter fills up enough, the character can use an Overdrive move linked to one of the weapons/items you took into battle. These can range from powerful attacks to cooking, but are always very helpful; doubly so because finishing a battle with an Overdrive move, combined with the amount of time it took to complete the battle, helps increase your rank for the battle. Higher rank results in more trigger points and better loot.

Basically, do well in battle and understand the system, and you’ll be rewarded with your effort with more Trigger Points and better items, to make both exploring and battling easier.

4

However, there’s also the matter of weapons and items, and how differently even those work.  Each weapon and item (aside from Ein’s Diviner) has a limited number of uses, and will break once you use them all up.  However, each weapon also has an Overdrive move that characters proficient in that weapon type can learn by using the weapon (or item) a certain number of times.  Additionally, it’s the only way to ‘level up’ your characters, as mastering a weapon or item is what gives your characters stat ups.  But, it’s an odd situation… if weapons break after enough uses, you have to use them to get better, and you can’t buy new ones, what are you supposed to do?  Thankfully, players can engage in practice battles that will not use up weapon or item, allowing you to grind out weapon experience as needed (don’t worry, it never takes too long).  Of course, practice battles don’t give you any Trigger Points or any decent items to work with, so it’s only really good for grinding weapon experience out so that you can do your best in real battles.

All of this might seem odd or convoluted out of context, but when playing Riviera it clicks really well–you’ll get the hang of it really quickly, and have a blast.  There’s even more there that I haven’t explained, but it all works quite well together and makes for a truly unique RPG system to play with as you progress through the plot.

3

There’s also little things I like about Riviera, that really help me remember it fondly.  I like how the character with the highest HP in the game is the person with the stereotypical ‘mage’ look, messing with that typical mage archetype.  I like how, in the Japanese version of the game, during the conversation before the final battle, Ein uses clever advantage of Japanese honorifics, beginning as respectful (-dono) and becoming less and less so as the antagonist shows just how evil he is.  I really like the game’s soundtrack, something that as a portable game, players may never hear:

It’s really a shame that Riviera and Sting’s other Dept. Heaven games aren’t as well known as they should be, but that doesn’t stop anyone from playing them now!  I would recommend the PSP version, of the two available–it’s easier to get (as you can buy it digitally), the graphics are improved, there’s a lot of voice acting, and there’s even an extra chapter you can try to do after beating the game.  There’s a lot going on there.  But, if you can only pick up the Game Boy Advance version for whatever reason, that one is great too.  Make sure to give this great game the good old college try!

Weekly Gaming Update #13 – Crap, I Completely Forgot About This

Totally forgot about making a post… whoops!  Well, I’m not tired, so might as well get to it!

New Games Bought:

Harmonia, Princess Maker 2 Refine, Paint It Back!
I got all three of these during the Steam Anime Sale.  Well, Paint It Back! isn’t anime, but it was on sale, so… there you have it.

New Games Started:

Harmonia – Completed
Princess Maker 2 Refine – Completed
Paint It Back! – In Progress

Games Beaten:

Tokyo Jungle
This is such a… unique game.  It’s a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one of the few cases where I just feel like it’d be better without a Story Mode.  Story Mode is a bit annoying at the start, to downright frustrating at the middle and end.  Survival is clearly both the best and main game mode, and it would have sufficed to tell what little Story Mode told in a couple extra data caches or whatever.  Trying to unlock Story Mode acts made playing in Survival is tedious, too, as my runs would end up being “run to data as fast as possible, pick up, die” with maybe a sprinkle of trying to unlock a new animal while I’m at it.  It’s such a fun and interesting game, so it’s a shame that it kind of trips over itself when it really could have done great as just an arcade-y game.

Harmonia
This was a kinetic visual novel, so basically I just read it.  It was a great tale, though, as expected from Key.  Very emotional, and I really found it great.  The twist around the end even makes you think about things, a bit… It’s well recommended, especially since it’s only $10 full price.

Princess Maker 2 Refine
So, I played Long Live The Queen, and really liked that.  It was pretty dope.  So I figured, might as well try a game that inspired it!  But man, Princess Maker 2 is weird.  It’s obviously a bit… outdated, since the game originally came out in 1993, but there’s just a lot of stuff going on that really gives the player issues.  Stats and what raises them/how they’re raised isn’t explained all that well; your daughter can get moody and delinquent and figuring out why that happens requires an Internet search; the amount of endings is overwhelming and the overload of stats makes getting any of the ones you actually want impossible without a guide; and so on.  It’s not bad, but when Long Live The Queen does the whole ‘raising sim’ thing better, I can’t really recommend this one over that.

In Progress

Paint It Back!
So, Paint It Back! is a Picross game, so I like it well enough.  It’s got the dumbest premise, but I don’t really care, just gimme the puzzles.  Unlike a typical Nintendo Picross game, Paint It Back! isn’t afraid to use oblong puzzle maps, or even gigantic 40×40 puzzles.  Also, you can always pick a lower difficulty that splits the puzzle into smaller parts that make huge maps a lot more tolerable.  I’m working through a few puzzles at a time, this will likely keep me busy for a while.  I do miss having it on the go with my 3DS, though…

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
I played more than a half an hour!  I’ve finished two out of the three trials that I got from the pirates.  And yes, I used a guide for it.  It’s a neat game, I really wish the controls were… better for a special edition, though.  Using or grabbing items is far too much of a pain in the ass.

Goals for Next Week

Are you kidding me?  Persona 5 is next week!

That about does it!  Next week’s entry will surely be shorter…