Posts Tagged ‘jRPGs

24
Jan
15

Terra Battle Continued

Terra Battle

With only one interruption, I’ve been firing up Terra Battle on a daily basis.  I’m certain I still have a great deal of battles to go, but I’ve been enjoying collecting and building a small army of characters in my “deck.”  The game offers you a drip feed of resources to do this: each day you login results in acquisition of money, “energy”, and items.  It’s been enough to continue farming for experience points and tinker with the game’s mechanics.  The core mechanics of clearing the game board of enemies by arranging your party with a single character each turn results in quick, snappy battles that let you quickly iterate on strategies.  It’s not an incredibly deep system; you won’t be building layered strategies as you would in a game like Final Fantasy VII.  But there’s enough here to keep you engaged.  There are options to quickly power-level your characters, farm items to expand your character’s jobs, and to continue growing your ranks.

Terra Battle compels you to simply try to turn over all of its stones.  What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth.  And it continues to grow as Mistwalker adds cooperative play, battle items, and more which retains the game’s audience and helps to bring new players in.  I’ve still not invested any money in the game to purchase “energy.”  It does make me wonder how Mistwalker will make money from it, but it’s not difficult for me to envision other players who are ready to play the game for longer sessions, or wish to collect characters more quickly than the game’s daily offerings allow.  It’s certainly kept me coming back, and if I were playing this game 10 or 15 years ago, I’d want to get more out of it, more quickly.  But today, I’m perfectly happy playing the game in slow motion, and continue putting my money into games that are known quantities to me, right now.  But I’m not the target audience here.  Terra Battle, for a company with a heritage reaching back into some of the biggest jRPG franchises in gaming history, is an acknowledgement of how the video game industry and community has grown more diverse.  I hope the game continues to grow and lead to more interesting future projects from Mistwalker.

07
Jul
13

Evoland

Do you find yourself thinking back to the 90’s and remembering how you played Legend of Zelda/Final Fantasy/Diablo for X hundreds of hours.  Then you think about how tedious it would be to do that over again, which makes you sad.  Evoland is here to bring that feel back for you with only a small fraction of the tedium to overcome.  The game tasks itself with providing the player with a survey of many of the game mechanics and presentation conventions of role playing games.

Make no mistake, this is definitely a game for those who have a sense of nostalgia for years of gaming past.  Many of the jokes are going to directly tied to games of the era, and most power-ups have little consequence on the gameplay itself.  It’s a well crafted guided tour and you can know from the outset whether or not it’s for you.  Shiro Games nails the concept and knows their audience and knows the games they are emulating.  All in all, Evoland will provide you with several hours of entertainment, and then the option to go back and leave no stone un-turned.

There were a couple points where the shortcomings of legacy game mechanics caused me to quit in frustration (perhaps I’ve had it too good recently?) but I suppose that’s part of the package, and shouldn’t deter you from playing.  You can’t really go wrong with it if you’re already a fan of any of the games I outlined back at the start of the post.  Evoland will scratch that gaming itch for you without having to feel like you’re taking on a second job.

03
Mar
13

So let me get this straight…

We’re going straight into the weeds.  So look out.  I beat Final Fantasy IX for the fourth time and I feel like I’m still just wrapping my brain around the story.  It’s kind of insane that it’s taken me that many play-throughs (I docked the score I gave it in my previous review) but it’s still an interesting story.  So if you’re interested in cutting to the chase of FFIX, or want to check my understanding of it, then go ahead and click through.  In any case, you’ve been warned.
Continue reading ‘So let me get this straight…’

26
Aug
12

Impressions: The Last Story

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got my mitts on Hironobu Sakaguchi’s “The Last Story.”  While it’s been released in Japan for the better part of 2 years, and in Europe for the past six months, it wasn’t until Xseed Games agreed to publish the game that it was released in North America.  I’ve consistently enjoyed Sakaguchi’s games over the past 10 or so years, so I was eager to see what he had done this time around; enough to take the Operation Rainfall approach of pre-ordering/purchasing Xenoblade Chronicles to try and convince Nintendo to publish The Last Story in NA.  I suppose the strategy worked well enough, as Xseed did pick up the game and so I’ve sat on my pre-order for it since April.  Much to my dismay, I checked out Destructoid’s review of the game, which was less than favorable, but I kept my pre-order because of the otherwise positive reviews that it has garnered.

Now that I’ve been able to spend four hours in the game, I think I’ve seen enough to start forming my own opinion on it.  The first thing to strike me was that this is more along the lines of what I wanted from Final Fantasy XIII after it’s debut trailer at E3 2006.  You are part of a party of characters who, other than the protagonist, are controlled by the game.  The Last Story allows you to move about the field at will, doing lots of flashy dives and flips over characters, and otherwise chopping up targets with swords large enough to be the envy of Pyramid Head.  The game slowly introduces more complex verbs that actually affect the flow of battle, such as the gathering ability which brings all enemy targets to attack Zael, the protagonist. This is useful to take the heat off of your party’s mages who require long, uninterrupted, casting times.  Zael can also enter a first person mode to fire his crossbow, but also to identify advantages in the environment.  You continue to gain useful individual abilities, but eventually you are given the option of issuing direct commands to other party members.  This isn’t to change the game to become a real-time strategy experience, but to allow you to exploit the strengths of other party members at key times to gain an advantage in battle.  While the game follows many jRPG patterns outside of battles (levels, equipment, town exploration, etc.) the battle system is an interesting take on jRPG combat.  I haven’t seen enough of the game yet to gauge whether this continues to build in an satisfying way, or devolves into a chaotic mess.

Outside of combat, the game reminds me in some ways of Chrono Cross.  Both are aesthetically pleasing games which encourage players to just plunk themselves down and enjoy the world around them.  The primary caveat to The Last Story’s presentation would be the character outfits, where men wearing hot pants and chaps aren’t given a second look in a world that takes much inspiration from medieval Europe and Japan.  The story definitely makes use of jRPG tropes (the protagonist is an orphan whose parents died in a war, whose town was destroyed, and whose love interest is a princess) and I would have thought that would be enough to turn me off to the game, but then again I am playing a game and not reading a book, so it can be easier to overlook some of this if you’re enjoying the game itself.  The Last Story is a game that’s simultaneously novel and familiar in such a way that I don’t really mind sitting down in front of the TV to play a jRPG again.  I’m not sure how or if this translates to a more mainstream appeal, but for those out there who are still looking for jRPGs, I don’t think this will disappoint you.




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