Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No excuses

Six and a half years. The PS2 has been around for more than six and a half years. Pretty amazing when you really think about it. By now, every developer knows exactly how to squeeze every last drop of power out of the machine. Slowdown is a thing of the past, especially in 2-D games. At least it should be, right?

I really wanted my next post to be about something other than Odin Sphere, since this blog is coming dangerously close to "Odin Sphere fanboy" status. Everyone knows that God hates fanboys, so I wanted to avoid that if I could, but alas, I succumbed.

You may have a hard time believing it, but a game that was released in the US more than 2300 days after the American debut of the PS2 is still a victim of slowdown: and it's the kind of slowdown that you can't ignore. While it's not as bad as something along the lines of Dynasty Warriors 3 (but to be fair, DW 3 is over 5 years old), but it's still bad enough to cause your death. In game, of course.

If this happened four or five years ago, I never would have paid it a second thought. Now, though, I can't see any reason why a 2-D game should have any slowdown, noticeable or otherwise, regardless of how fancy the sprites look. 2-D is still 2-D, and after all this time, there is no excuse for a game like this not to run as smooth as silk.

If you're counting, that's 9 straight Odin Sphere-related posts. We are such dorks.

Pause the Game Every Once in a While

As a note to everyone out there playing Odin Sphere (which is probably a lot of you, since my local EB only had one shelf copy. More on this at a later date), I recommend pausing the game every once in a while. I know this sounds ridiculous, but have you really looked through the pause menu? I hadn't until Sunday, when I found the "Story" menu. It's displays how the five stories mesh together chronologically. Very useful if you were looking for, let's say, which characters had coincidental boss battles.

However, there are two distinct sections of the time-line. In addition to the main time-line, on which it seems that the main story seems to take place, there is also a second, separate time-line further along that is completely disconnected from the main chart. I haven't accessed anything in this area yet, so your guess as good as mine as to what happens there. Is it part of the ending? Some sort of epilogue? A series of bonus dungeons, perhaps? I don't know right now, but there's only one way to ascertain the answer: playing more Odin Sphere!!!

At least until tomorrow, when hopefully Atelier Iris 3 will show up on my front step.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I <3 Odin Sphere

The title pretty much says it all. I absolutely love Odin Sphere and I can barely stop playing it long enough to write this post. The visuals are fantastic, the story and characters are interesting and engrossing, and the crafting system adds a whole second level to the combat. I am enjoying the game way more than I expected, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes action RPGs or games with a strong driving narrative.

I do have one criticism - I am about halfway through the second character and the game reuses many of the bosses from the first character's journey (I've fought one new one). I'm not sure if this trend will continue throughout the different stories, but it does take away a little of the wonder and awe to be beating up the same enemies just in a different order/location. Still, at this point it hasn't detracted much from my experience, but I imagine fighting the same boss for the fifth time might feel a bit tedious. We'll see, but as of right now, I am giving this game a solid 9.0, just terrific.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Re: One Odin Sphere Answer

No worries, I decided to purchase it anyway, and I believe the answer is: yes, the story is cool and very well presented.

I haven't gotten to try another character yet, but Gwen's story is very well done I think and I am very much enjoying the game. It's somewhat strange to have a side scrolling beat-em-up that focuses primarily on farming, cooking, and crafting (the fighting seems almost secondary), but I think it is that strange uniqueness that makes the game so appealing. That and the beautiful almost storybook style visuals. Right now, I would put it somewhere in the 8 - 9 range, and it has the potential to go up from there, depending on how well they intertwine the different stories.

Oh, poor Kingdom Hearts, I'm never gonna finish you...

Friday, May 25, 2007

One Odin Sphere Answer

I'm still only 90 minutes in (I've had a nightmare week), but the story seems to be shaping up quite well. I've only controlled one character so far, but I do know that all-told there are five playable characters. What I am led to believe is that each character will present a different perspective on the war that serves as a focal point for the narratives. Certainly an interesting premise, to say the least. It's reminiscent of Suikoden 3, only with a better story.

I wish I had a more complete answer, but this is the best I can do right now. I do plan to push onwards and upwards with it tomorrow afternoon, so if it takes a catastrophic turn, I'll keep you updated.

One Odin Sphere Question...

Incognito, can you rate what you think of the story so far? Everything I've read seems to indicate the story is quite good and well executed, which is a huge selling point for me, so I am strongly considering purchasing it. What do you think?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Sorry that my Starcraft II post wasn't as timely as you would have like, Incognito. I'll try to step it up for future updates. I guess that while I am excited about the concept of (considering it is arguably the best RTS ever) the lack of any substantive information at the demonstration makes it difficult to get too excited about the whole thing. I will no doubt buy it and love it, I have the utmost faith in Blizzard to produce a high quality product. I also have faith that they will take their sweet time in doing so, so I'm not going to start holding my breath just yet.

As for your description of Odin Sphere, that's basically the feeling I've been getting from the different reviews I've read. Despite your abject distaste for reviews they are often pretty good a conveying what the game is, if not its quality. Generally, it sounds like a lot of flash with relatively little substance marred by some technical failings. I guess the hype surrounding it had me excited, but the actual product doesn't quite meet expectations. Oh well, here's hoping Shadowrun ends up being as good as everyone hopes (not holding my breath there either).

Also, I got a chance to see a lot of the Gamer Day stuff this morning while I was getting ready for work, and I must say for once that I am pretty excited to be a PS3 owner. It seems like the PS3 is shaping up to have some great properties, and that all the consoles will have a place within this generation. Hooray!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Incognito's RPG Impressions: Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere is here! Huzzah! I've spent 90 minutes with it so far, and I feel like I have a good enough feel for it to post some initial impressions.

This is one of the most beautiful games ever. Period. Trying to describe it with words won't do it justice, nor will YouTube-quality video captures. No, to really appreciate it, you have to see it in person.

Avenger posted the quote from the WorthPlaying review in which they lament the monotony of the combat. After playing it, I have to wonder if they played for more than thirty minutes. I'll admit that I was getting a little bit bored near the end of the first chapter, where the only battle diversion is planting seeds and harvesting their fruit. However, once you start the second chapter you gain access to alchemy, allowing you to fabricate wondrous potions and explosives from Mandragoras. The ability to fashion offensive items on the fly is an immediate upgrade to the entertainment value of the game. Plus, I still haven't learned how to cook, so I've yet to reach the height of my item creation powers.

So far, my only two gripes with the battle system are largely superficial. Your character seems to have very slippery shoes: accelerating is a painfully slow process, and you always slide for a bit when you try to stop. This is also problematic for reasons other than movement/evasion, since in order to use an item or cast a spell, you must be completely motionless. This led me to rapidly tap the menu buttons when I wanted to open a menu, to assure I opened it as soon as possible. These things became less noticeable as I got more familiar with the system's wrinkles, but I doubt the controls will ever feel as tight as I think they should.

As of right now, my final verdict is this: B-. As I mentioned before, this is one of the most breathtaking games of all time. This can not be discounted, and it could be the factor that keeps me going with it. However, I think the loose controls in the battlefield will prevent me from ever playing it for more than an hour of two at a time; eventually I'll get tired of sliding around like a dog on a frozen pond, and I'll have to put the controller down. With Atelier Iris 3 less than a week away, Odin Sphere will really have to hook me to assure that I go back to it when I get distracted in the coming weeks. As of the first 90 minutes, that magic moment hasn't come yet, but I'm not throwing in the towel after round one.

This won't be the last you'll hear from me about Odin Sphere, one way or the other.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Re: WorthPlaying Pans Odin Sphere

Avenger, you are such a review whore.

Also, I was blown away by how long it took you to say something about Starcraft II. You're the biggest RTS fan I know, and this had to have been one of the biggest RTS announcements ever. When I checked the blog on Saturday afternoon and saw a lack of Starcraft-relating blogging, I was floored. Let's hope you have a quicker reaction time with Starcraft III in 2019.

I'll try to get some initial impressions of Odin Sphere posted tomorrow night.

Starcraft II!

Yeah, I know pretty much everybody has already heard this by now, but...Starcraft II! Here's what Gamespot had to say:
SEOUL, South Korea--Crowds of fans and press file continuously into the Olympic Gymnastic Stadium in the Gangnam province of Seoul, South Korea, to await the announcement of Blizzard's new game title. The big-screen monitors onstage, which previously showed looped footage of tournaments held at last year's Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, now show only the logo for this year's event, which takes place today and tomorrow. The anticipation and excitement in the air from the crowds of fans and international press are palpable.

The announcement session is underway, and the lights are up. The Korean emcees are making announcements about the tournaments and music concerts that will also be held at the event. Blizzard Korea managing director Jungwan Han has taken the stage to deliver the opening remarks, greeting and thanking Blizzard fans worldwide for their support. He takes his seat, and the emcees briefly introduce Blizzard's top brass, including Mike Morhaime, Rob Pardo, and Chris Metzen.

Next up are the introductions for the professional gamers, who are greeted with great fanfare by the audience as they're announced individually and step onstage. First are the Starcraft players, introduced by their name, faction played (protoss, zerg, or terran), and country of origin. These are followed by the Warcraft III professional players, also introduced by their name, played faction (humans, orcs, undead, or night elves), and country of origin. After the players are all onstage, they are brought forward individually to take an "oath" of fair play.

Once the players are ushered away, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime takes the stage to make the big announcement, noting first that this year's event will host more tournaments than any previous event (including competitions for Starcraft, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft), then introducing a video montage with footage from Blizzard's previous games (such as the original Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft) and previous tournament events. Morhaime is finally getting closer to the announcement...the crowd cheers in anticipation. Says Morhaime, "When it came time to make this announcement, it was easy to decide where it should take place." The president praises the enthusiasm and support of Korean game players, then introduces a video trailer for the new game.

The trailer begins with a spaceship lowering a coffinlike object. The camera cuts to a chamber, then to a gigantic metal gate that cranks open, and finally to a man with a cigar in his mouth, wearing shackles on his ankles. The man steps into mechanical restraints that lock around his ankles and the platform around him rises. The cofflinlike object sprouts metal pincers that brace his wrists while the champers reveal whirring turbines that sprout metallic drills and rivets that fit metallic armor on his body. The figure is a Terran soldier, and the camera pans up his body, cutting to scenes of Protoss and Zerg warriors rushing to battle. The new game, as rumored, is Starcraft II.

Morhaime then introduces the lead designer of the project to discuss it--none other than former EALA designer Dustin Browder (who worked previously on The Battle for Middle-earth and Command & Conquer series). The video screen cuts to a demonstration that shows a fleet of Protoss ships that disembark several zealot infantry units, then cuts to a scene showing Terran transports touching down and becoming base structures, spouting infantry and vehicle units. Browder points out that this demonstration is in a very early stage of code. As we see in the demonstration, the new game will add abilities to existing units--the Protoss zealot, for instance, will now be able to charge into battle to quickly close the distance against Terran gunners. The Terrans retaliate by bringing in siege tanks to shell the Protoss from a distance. The Protoss respond by commissioning Immortals--heavy-duty tanks with powerful energy shields.

The Terrans then commission reapers, which are medium infantry with jetpacks that can jump barriers to raid enemy bases more effectively. The reapers leap into action against the Protoss base to attack the pylons, but the Protoss have a new series of structures that help them be much more resilient when attacked at their base, such as phase prisms, which let you quickly move units from place to place. The Protoss stalker unit has a "blink" ability that lets them jump anywhere they can see and makes them excellent pursuers.

The Zerg have arrived, sending Zerglings to overwhelm the Protoss stalkers--a huge swarm of them charges the Protoss. Browder points out that Starcraft II will still be a game about large armies against large armies. The Zerg then run into a few Protoss colossi--gigantic walkers with cutting lasers that specialize in liquifying Zerglings. The Zerg have mutated into a new kind of suicide unit that explodes in a burst of acid. The colossi also use inverse kinematic animation to walk up and down cliffs. The colossus unit is vulnerable to air attacks, such as mutalisks, which slaughter it. In response, the Protoss have a new unit, the phoenix, which can "overload" to eliminate squads of nearby airborne enemies but leave them helpless and immobile briefly afterward. The new game will also have new texture work and deep space background environments. The phoenix can't hold its own against Terran battlecruisers, which crush them--in response, the Protoss commission the Warprey, a laser-firing ship that deals more damage the longer it focuses its fire on an enemy. Browder caps the demonstration with one last new unit, the Protoss mothership, the ultimate weapon in the Protoss army. It's an incredibly expensive unit with a "time bomb" ability that distorts time within an energy field, making enemy fire too slow to actually reach and hit the mothership. Once the time field collapses, enemy shells clatter uselessly to the ground. The mothership also possesses the "planet cracker," a stream of multiple lasers that devastate anything beneath it. Finally, the mothership can create a black hole--an extremely damaging ability that wrecks flying enemies. The glowing black hole simply sucks in the Terran warships, which distort in appearance before disappearing utterly into oblivion.

The demonstration ends with a battle between the Protoss and the Terrans, who wail on each other mercilessly. As you might expect from the successor to Starcraft, it seems clear that the key to success in the sequel will be combined force of arms, as both armies pummel each other to a standstill, racking up casualties on each side as they grind away at each other. The battle ends with an orbital strike that wipes out both sides, save for one infantry unit on each side. Both get mobbed by Zerg units, which crawl out of the ground and butcher them and then mutate into their new form and crawl into formation to spell out the letters "GG" (an abbreviation many online players use to say "good game"). After the Starcraft II demonstration, another video montage is shown, this time featuring a series of concept art drawings that gives way to another gameplay demo that highlights various units new and old, such as the Protoss colossus, the Zergling, and others, ending with two portraits that appear to be Jim Raynor and Kerrigan.

Worth Playing Pans Odin Sphere

Worth Playing recently gave the much lauded Odin Sphere a 6.8, and had this to say about the experience:
Many people accuse recent 3-D games of being all flash and no substance, and alas, Odin Sphere shows that 2-D games are not immune to the same syndrome. Odin Sphere is stunning. Rarely have games floored me with their animations and graphics as much as Odin Sphere did, but that is almost all that is worth recommending. The gameplay is dull and clunky and worst of all, repetitive. The characters are bland and boring, and the controls are a bit stiff and frustrating to wrangle with. I wanted to like Odin Sphere — no, I wanted to love Odin Sphere — but at best, I could tolerate it, and it was only the beautiful animations that kept me going. Don't misunderstand. While it has its flaws, Odin Sphere isn't unplayable or unworkably flawed; it just quickly grows tedious. The few elements that truly shine may be enough to justify purchasing this beautiful title, but be warned not to expect a gameplay experience as stunning as the graphics.
While Worth Playing probably isn't in my top five or even top ten review sources, it does give me pause, where I originally had no doubts about purchasing this game. Now I think I'll be waiting to see more reviews before I make my final decision.

Check out the full review to decide for yourself.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why no Eternal Sonata love for America?

Riddle me this Microsoft: why would someone who was jonesing to play the Eternal Sonata demo be unable to download it? There's no punchline here, and I'm sorry if you were expecting one. This was something that was puzzling me yesterday whilst i was Googling "japan postal codes" (something that I never dreamt that I would Google, by the way). The game has been announced for an American release, so distribution licenses of something of that nature isn't the problem. The demo is entirely in English, so the language barrier isn't even a factor. The only reason I could imagine as to why someone would have to make a fake Japan-region Live account to get it was that there was no reason. Microsoft just decided that it would be Japan only, and that was that.

On the subject of the game itself, I'm still on the fence. Tri-Crescendo was involved with Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (admittedly, only on sound design, but still), which it still a sore spot for me. I hated Till the End of Time's battle system, and anything that makes me reminiscent of it is difficult for me to play. Fortunately for me, Eternal Sonata's battle system is just different enough. It's strongly influenced by position; every character can set two abilities for use. One of these abilities is a "light" ability, and can only be used the the "light" areas of the battlefield. The other ability is, coincidentally, a "dark" ability, and the reverse area restrictions apply. The timing is a mix of real-time and turn-based, and there are apparently different levels for the battle system that change the timing dynamics. There is also a defensive timing mechanism, similar to that of Paper Mario. However, this only works on attacks from the front and sides, further emphasizing the importance of positioning.

All-in-all I did enjoy the demo, and I think I will definitely be picking this one up later this year. I would recommend the demo to anyone who wants to go through the trouble of getting it. For the record: Japanese postal codes are in the form: XXX-XXXX. You're welcome.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Diary of an Aspiring Game Designer - 5.19.07

Dude, thank you for the awesomeness, that game looks sweet. I wish some more exciting PS3 titles were coming in this half of the year, but I guess beggars can't be choosers...

In other news, I have been officially accepted to the Guildhall for the July term (with the ability to defer to January if I so choose). I got a call from the Recruitment Director yesterday while I was at work and got the official email a few minutes later. There's still the decision to be made of July vs. January, but right now I am just so overjoyed at having gotten in I haven't even been thinking about it. It's the first real "success" since I started this journey and, I believe, worthy of much celebration. Probably in the form of gorging myself on Kingdom Hearts, LOTRO, and Halo 3 Beta.


Gamer's Day Goodness

If you've been to any game-related sites over the past few days, it's been hard to avoid footage from Sony's Gamer's Day event. If you haven't done so already, do yourself a favor and check out the videos (particularly the developer walkthrough) for Folklore. It looks like the freakish love-child of God of War and Phantom Dust, with a dash of Lost Kingdoms. Is that a good thing? Hell yes. This just became my most anticipated PS3 game of the year. Sorry, Ratchet.

You know what? I'll just save you the trouble of searching for it and point you to the awesomeness. You can thank me later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nothing's tricksier than a hobbit...

except maybe a Spaniard.

That's it. Don't ask why I said it, just accept that I did and move on. There was never going to be a better time to drop that inside joke, and I had to seize the opportunity.

I'm a tricksy little hobbit

Don't you worry, Incognito, I haven't given up on KH just yet, it just hasn't quite grabbed me the way FFXII did at first glance. That may be do in part to my social situation being different than it was last October. Back then, I had just moved here, and I hadn't really assembled my core group of friends so I had all the time in the world and nothing better to do than play videogames until my eyes hurt. The reason I didn't play KH this last weekend was because Friday night I went out to a concert, Saturday I ended up playing Catan on the XBL with a couple friends all morning and then hung out with people the rest of the day, and Sunday I was mostly busy with errands I my newest gaming obsession, Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a checkered past with MMOs. I often get excited for them play them for a little while but ultimately discard them for one reason or another. I am not sure that LOTRO will be any exception, but I will say that my initial impressions have been fantastic. While the game doesn't do anything new that I am aware of (maybe the way it handles PvP) it does bring together some of the best elements from games like City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Final Fantasy XI and many others. Add to that that it looks absolutely gorgeous (sorry WoW, you are starting to show your age) and that Middle Earth is a great place to play in and you've put together a very powerful MMO experience. I think I've played for around 10-12 hours so far and obviously haven't seen even a fraction of the content that is available. There are so many quests, deeds, and other things to do that I imagine this game could even keep the most hardcore MMO fan busy for quite some time.

I play as a hobbit burglar named Borbo, actually Borbo the Undefeated right now (the title system allows you to add various titles to your name, depending on deeds you've accomplished) and I occasionally run around with a Human Captain name Teoric (Sidious' avatar), so if you're every on the Windfola server keep an eye out for us. Until then I'll be busy making sure all the hobbits get their mail and pies in timely fashion. Ah, the life of a hobbit...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's about time

Finally! Someone else makes a post!

Avenger, it would be a real shame if you got distracted from Kingdom Hearts. Unless, of course, you get distracted from it because you finally decided to go back and finish Shadow Hearts. You were on the precipice, but for some reason you refused to take that last step! Don't make the same mistake twice. Also, don't be such an Final Fantasy fanboy with your RPGs. If you can haul yourself though 70+ hours of FF XII, I think you can manage to make it though KH.

In short: don't be that guy, Domino.

My Return

Wow, I leave for a couple weeks and when I come back it's basically just Incognito yammering to himself about his RPGs. Well, somebody has to put a stop to that, so I guess that's going to be me...

So, first order of business, my application to the Guildhall is complete and submitted. The recruitment director informed me I should expect to hear something by the end of this week or early next week. Needless to say, I am a little nervous about the whole thing. This is what I consider my greatest opportunity, so a rejection here would cause me to seriously reconsider this whole game design thing as a career choice. Regardless, there's nothing to be done about it now so I have been using my newfound free time to go back to my most favored pastime of actually playing games, which brings me to my second point.

Typically, when I play I tend to meander between games and get easily distracted by new and shiny things (as this post will further reveal). Occasionally, however, I consciously or unconsciously decide to really pour myself into a game and just get totally absorbed in it's storyline and characters. As that hasn't really been a natural occurrence as of late, I decided to look into my substantial backlog of games (likely larger than even Incognito's, with perhaps fewer RPGs) and choose something to just blitz with whatever free time I had available.

This decision, much like Incognito's was not an easy one, and I had several options that I think could have provided excellent experiences: Metroid Prime, STALKER, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, Dragon Quest 8, Rogue Galaxy, Okami, among others. Instead of one of these I chose to try to re-engage with a game that didn't originally grab me, Kingdom Hearts.

The first time I tried to play Kingdom Hearts I think I mostly was turned off to it by the battle system. The story and characters seemed interesting (I like Disney), though the narrative moved a little too slowly for my taste, but the battle system just irritated me. Say what you will about FFXII and the gambit system, it beats the crap out of the downright stupid AI partners you get in KH. Donald and Goofy will in no uncertain terms run at the closest enemy and basically blow all of their MP as fast as possible, and then they will die. No attempt to evade attacks or at least minimize damage from bosses highly predictable special attacks. Nope, full-on right in the face and then dead.

This second time through I think I am enjoying things a bit more because I have just learned to accept it. You are on your own and your companions are more like set pieces than actual gameplay elements. I am about 7 hours in and I am heading back to Traverse Town after doing Tarzan world, Alice in Wonderland world, and Hercules world, so I know I have barely scratched the surface, but unfortunately I have yet again been distracted by something new and shiny, and worry that I may not complete it as planned...again.

I think this post is already long enough so I will leave the new game for my next post, but I'll give you a hint, it's a new MMO. Talk to you all later!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wii-markable Timing

So, I was on the way out of BestBuy today, and as I'm approaching the exit, an employee passes me with what appear to be three shiny new Wiis. For a second, I just stood there staring; I was dumbstruck. When I snapped out of it, I asked if those happened to be for sale.


"Can I get one?"

"Sure, just get back in line."

And so, just a few weeks after I resigned myself to go without a Wii until the holiday season, one just falls into my lap. The only downside is that I leave town for the rest of the week tomorrow night, so I'll cherish it tonight while I can.

So, in short...

Who's got two thumbs and a Wii?! THIS GUY!!

I apologize for blurting that out. I just really wanted to work that into this post, but I couldn't manage to do so in any sort of clever fashion.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Incognito's RPG Impressions: Replacing Ar Tonelico

Before we get to the meat of this post, lets play some Jeopardy!

Answer: 4

Question: How many time would someone see the credits roll in Ar Tonelico if they completed the game and Shurelia's (spoiler) Cosmoshere?

This is a record that I don't expect to be broken any time soon.

Now that Ar Tonelico is finished, I've had the same problem that I often have in these situations: finding a new game to occupy myself with. Even with my extensive back log of games from which to choose, this proposition is not as easy as it sounds.

Since Persona 3 is on the horizon, the first game I though of was Persona 2. This lasted all of 2 hours. It's not that there is anything wrong with the story. On the contrary, the story started of strong. The problem was with the battle system. Well, sort of. You see, because of that huge backlog of games that I mentioned earlier, I can be very picky about which one I play. The big turn-off in Persona 2 was the ridiculous menu system in battle. The default battle system is an auto battle; you set actions for all you characters and they will automatically perform them until you say stop. But what if you don't want it to go progress automatically? Well, there is an option to do one round at a time, but to do that you have to wade through menu level after menu level. As you can imagine, this gets really cumbersome, really fast.

So I decided to put my time to better use that paging through battle menus, and I picked up Rogue Galaxy again. You might remember Rogue Galaxy from when Avenger raved about it back in the day. In short, I was less than thrilled. I first started it soon after it was released, but I put it down after an hour, largely due to my dislike of the points-based real time battle system (which I will discuss in a future website article). Admittedly, its biggest short-coming is all in my head. Rogue Galaxy was developed by Level 5, the same crew that is responsible for Dark Cloud 2. I loved Dark Cloud 2, and I had always imagined that Rogue Galaxy would be Dark Cloud 2 in space. Well, it's not. It's much more hack 'n slash, much more .hack than Dark Cloud. All I can think about while playing Rogue Galaxy is how much more I would like it if it was Dark Cloud 2: IN SPACE! As far as non-superficial grievances go, however, the comparative strength of physical attacks versus special abilities is laughable. Why would I bother even used my sword, and risk having one of the retarded AI-controlled characters die in 3 seconds, when I can kill every enemy in one hit with Desert Wind? Recharge drinks can be acquired on the cheap, so constantly using AP is no sweat. At about the 10 hour mark, I finally decided to put Rogue Galaxy down again.

So, what next? Coincidentally, I already mentioned it: .hack. .hack//G.U. to be precise. Yes, I am one of the people who enjoyed the original .hack series. And recently, I've had the strange desire to dive into The World again. And now that my first two attempts at replacing Ar Tonelico have failed, it's time to go out and add to The List again.

If anyone out in reader-land has an any comments/feedback on this series of posts (love it/hate it/change this/change that), please let me know.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Calling All Bullet Points

  • Calling All Cars - It's here, finally. I gave it a whirl when I got home from work today. I tried one game offline, but the computer's perfect aim was driving me insane. So, online I went. It could be kind of difficult to find a game, since there is no way to sort the list that I could find, so you basically have to scroll down the list until you find a game that isn't in progress. Of course, you could join a game in progress, if you don't mind waiting a while and listening to some twelve-year-old in voice chat. The game play is fast and simple, and highly enjoyable. I'm sure it's even more enjoyable if you know how to use more than one of the weapons.
  • Forza 2 - I tried out the demo last night. Naturally, it didn't seem as gorgeous as the trailers made it seem, but that doesn't mean it's not easy on the eyes. It's hard to get a feel for it since there is only one track, but the cars handle magnificently, and I'm excited to get my hands on the full version and get my tune on.
  • Settlers of Catan - I have often felt like I was in the minority: nerds who have not played the original board game. Now, thanks to Big Huge Games, I can enjoy all the fun of the board game on my 360! Huzzah! As best as I can tell, it functions as a reasonable facsimile for the real thing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Linkin' and Thinkin'

First up, there is this article up that (eventually) gets to some info about Lost Odyssey game play. Really, it's not very insightful, other than giving an idea of how large to game is. No, what this is about is when they mention that the director of Legend of Mana is involved in the project. Yikes. Legend of Mana was a disaster. That was years ago, though, and hopefully whatever influences Legend of Mana has on Lost Odyssey are slight. Or better yet, non-existent.

Next, there is this press release for Shadowrun (via EvilAvatar). What bothers me is the second to last line, where they state the prices for the 360 and Windows version. Am I the only one confused as to why the prices aren't the same? I was under the impression that both versions were identical. Was I mistaken? Are there some fancy exclusives on the 360 version? If not, why is it $10 more? Can someone explain to me how this makes sense!? I mean, you're already shelling out the extra $50 a year for online multiplayer on XBL (which is available with the silver membership on Windows Live) with the 360, and now you're going to have to pay $10 more per cross-MS-platform title? Someone tell me why 360 owners should be OK with this! Jimmy, you have a degree in econ, maybe you can sort out this mess for me.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Almost like I dream about

There is going to be another Kingdom Hearts, but it's not going to be KH 3. No, instead it's much closer to what I fantasize about. While it's not exactly how I imagined it, it's close enough to get me all hot and bothered. If Riku is a playable character again... it's just too awesome to imagine. I think I need to go lie down for a minute.

Obviously, I'm very excited about this... unless it's PSP only. That would be a real downer. Of course, if there was one game that would force a PSP purchase from me, this is it.

Friday, May 04, 2007


I'll let the video speak for itself. May 22 seems so far away.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Drat! Foiled again!

First, there was my confrontation with the DDR dance pad. Now, it the SIXAXIS that is screwing with me. Exactly how is it accomplishing this, you ask? By running out if power, of course. There I am, preparing for the final battles of Ar Tonelico, and up pops the "controller is low on power" message.

This was most frustrating, since the PS3 recharge cable is only 3 feet long. Of course, I don't sit within three feet of my PS3, so it was nuts to me finishing Ar Tonelico. I'm not sure what Sony was thinking when they decided on a length for the recharge cable. Looks like I'll have to make a trip to the BestBuy to buy a third-party cable of reasonable length.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Incognito's RPG Impressions: Taking It In Stride

Game du jour: more Ar Tonelico. Just some general notes and comments; today I'm keeping it light and fresh.

1. Phase 3 of Ar Tonelico can be described as very Xenogears-Disc-Two-esque. There is a lot of text, followed my more text, then maybe a battle or two, and then some more text (for a change of pace). This is mainly a result of the fact that I already got to the top of the tower. The entire world has pretty much been explored, evidenced by the fact that I've only seen one new area in the last 6 hours. The only up-side is that I finally got the last Reyvateil, which means I get to explore another cosmosphere, which is by far my favorite part of the game.

2. If you were walking through the personal library of the major villain in a game, and as you were reading his diaries you realized that at one time or another he manipulated and/or attempted to kill all but one of the member of your party, you'd expect some kind of reaction, right? You'd expect someone, anyone, to say something, wouldn't you? Well, if you were to expect that from the characters in Ar Tonelico, you'd be wrong. For all the talking in that game, you'd think that someone would mention something from those diaries sometime, but no. Ridiculous.

3. I have seen the credits roll twice, and I'm still not done the game! Speaking of rolling credits, there is an update on the fake-out ending from the last post. It really is an ending, if you want it to be. Or at least I assume so, since I picked the text option that I thought was least likely to end the game.

I know I said I would keep it "light and fresh," but I guess I got a little carried away.

I'm gonna go lie down now. This blog is heavy, and my shoulders are starting to ache from carrying it. **OH SNAP!!!**