Weekly Gaming Update #19 – Let’s Not Do That Today

Look Morgana, yes I went to go see a movie yesterday… no, I waited until the afternoon, but I have plenty of time before bed to write this blog post!  Dude, a two hour movie isn’t THAT tiring.  I can stay up past 7PM, I promise I won’t throw a tantrum when I have to get up early the next day.

Annoying cat.

New Games Started

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga – In Progress

Games Beaten

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
It’s short.  It’s okay.  I’m glad it finishes up the storyline from the first game at least.  It’s so short that I can’t really recommend against playing it, but I wouldn’t say it really wowed me or anything either.  It’s just kind of there.

In Progress

Persona 5
I’m back to this again.  Was I back to this last week?  I can’t really remember.  Oh well.  I’m really determined to beat this before I start the Summer Gaming Challenge (more on that in a bit), so I’m focusing mainly on this for the rest of the month.  I’m 60 hours in, on the sixth Palace, and I see that I’m ramping towards the conclusion.  I’ve been working on some random achievements and social stat building instead of Confidants so that the second playthrough I can max out all the Confidants instead of having to do tedious book reading or take baths or whatever.  I wish I could freaking find Mishima though and FINALLY finish that off, he’s been at Rank 9 for ages.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga
I have limited access to my PS3 since it’s downstairs at the moment, but I had some time on Sunday to play it and so I started this.  I’m only a couple hours in, and I’m really liking this… The Mantra setups (I think they’re called) are fun to mess with, and thank goodness the battle continues if the main character is down.  Excited to play more of this one when I can!

Goals for Next Week

Alright, so, as yearly tradition I’m participating in the Summer Gaming Challenge, in which I play 10 games considered ‘classics’ and such.  I’ll go more into detail when I make the blog post itself.  I had planned on starting on May 14th, but on second thought I decided it would be better to get the time sucking behemoth that is Persona 5 out of the way first, as it’ll definitely cut into my Summer Gaming time otherwise.  So, I’m starting around June 1st this year.  Of course, I want to get Persona 5 out of the way (if I concentrate on it, I *might* be able to beat it this week), but also hopefully Tomb Raider and any other recent backlog stragglers standing in my way.  So that’s my game plan for the rest of the month!

See you next week!

Weekly Gaming Update #18 – *slightly louder than average scream*

*speechless, continued*

New Games Bought

Yoshi’s Wooly World
It’s the final Wii U game that I wanted, and I turned in some other games for Amazon credit… and I decided to get it!

Catherine
The PSN Golden Week sale had a lot of great things to get, but I mainly rebought stuff.  Catherine, however, is a new grab.  I was always wary of picking it up because of the difficulty, but a friend told me about Easy Mode and how cool the plot is so I decided to grab it on the cheap.

New Games Started

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition – In Progress

Games Beaten

Puyo Puyo Tetris
I had a ton of fun with this, more than I thought I would.  I had a few trouble points (I needed my boyfriend to beat a few of the harder Tetris stages), but it’s all great fun, with a lot more single player content than I ever expected.  I’m still working through the post game content… it would be cool if I could platinum this game, but given that there’s a few online trophies, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to (either because I’m not good enough, or the servers will die).  We’ll see!

In Progress

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Honestly, this has kind of bored me so far.  I’m not too interested in the plot… the characters aren’t really that interesting, and how is it that everyone but Lara is susceptible to the injuries they get in cutscenes?  I think I’m a little under halfway through, so I’ll probably just finish it off and sell it.  It’s not bad, just… so by the numbers that it’s not interesting to play at all.

Goals for Next Week

I spent most of my week play Puyo Puyo Tetris and not actually playing many games.  I hope to play a few more games… probably not Tomb Raider, as my cat chewed through my headset and I was streaming that for the hell of it.  I’d like the whole playthrough on Twitch if possible!  Maybe I’ll try to get farther in Pikmin 3… I have to keep restarting days so progress is a little slow.

See you next week!

Weekly Gaming Update #17 – A Day Late, A Dollar Short

Whoops, a little late on this again.  April was such a bleh month for me for whatever reason–I had trouble doing much of anything productive, let alone make these posts.  I’m sure May will be better.

Games Started

Pikmin 3 – In Progress
Puyo Puyo Tetris – In Progress

Games Beaten

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Probably my favorite of the three Shovel Knight campaigns.  Specter Knight is a little hard to control at first, but once you get the hang of midair slashes and the like it’s really fun to play.  I’m really thankful for the cloak that has you not auto-die if you hit spikes or fall in a bottomless pit though… sometimes landing those jumps are incredibly difficult.

Backstage Pass
I wanted to like this, but my god is it so simultaneously dull and infuriating.  Like I was trying to work towards a specific character’s romance ending, but suddenly the hearts just stopped… filling up, which is the indication for the romance ending.  I dunno why.  And two other characters’ (who I only talked to from time to time) stars started filling up (friendship endings), despite me not talking to them.  Then the ending I actually saw was the fourth of these characters, who I almost never talked to, and of course that path ended terribly because I never talked to him!  And I have no clue how any of this happened.  Any of it.  And, there was a bunch of stat raising and I don’t really know the point of it other than me having to click more and sometimes get a random conversation and how am I talking to John again my god I don’t remember wanting to talk to you ever how did I get this ending!  Despite all this I really want to play through again just to get a semi-satisfying ending (with a guide, of course) and since the damn game likes John so much I guess I’ll just do his path because why would I want to date Adam, fine game you win

Kirby Planet Robobot
Definitely my favorite Kirby game.  I really like the robot and how the powers work with it, and I enjoyed the new powers too (at least new for me, it’s been a bit since I played a modern Kirby game).  It’s not too long, and doesn’t really force any stringent requirements on the play to beat (I’m looking at you and those Rainbow Coins, Mass Attack).  If you’re playing the levels even somewhat like you should and being a little observant, you can easily get the number of Code Cubes you need to reach the bosses.  I really like how they balanced it!

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
I guess I could some this up in a word, that word being ‘meh’, but I’ll say more.  I sort of wish that the Special Edition gave the game more than a facelift… maybe including a hint system for what to do next if you get stuck would be nice.  Monkey Island is a pretty old game, so I can’t fault it too much for its archaic and obtuse nature, but they could have tried to modernize it at least a little.  Also, in my opinion, trying to play the thing with a keyboard and mouse was really more difficult than it should have been… it’s a point and click adventure game!  I eventually switched to a 360 controller.  and why doesn’t the Steam version have the 360 achievements on it?  Oh, and the art style was kinda… meh.  Honestly I probably should have just played the original version…

In Progress

Puyo Puyo Tetris
Adventure Mode is hard, I suck at Tetris, and am only passable at Puyo Puyo.  That about sums it up.

Pikmin 3
Gotten through a few days, this is a lot of fun!  The time limit stresses me out a tiny bit, but it seems less overbearing than the first game’s limit, at least.  Still only have Red and Rock Pikmin at the moment, but I assume I’ll get more types soon, as I’m still unlocking new areas.

Goals for Next Week

I’d like to start working on my Steam games.  It’s my highest collection of unbeaten games, and I’d like to get it below 10 unbeaten ones before the Summer Sale comes along to ruin any progress.  Also I’m trying to get through a few more games (Pikmin 3 being one of them), so maybe work on them, too.  I’m taking a little break from Persona 5, as great as it is I’m a little burned out by so much playtime in such a short period…

See you next week!

 

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.

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!