The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

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The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:35 am

Like my previous gaming threads, here is where I am going to dump some reviews.

The DS had one of the best gaming libraries in any system, and the 3DS is not too shabby either. For the DS, I am going to review a number of games I never played before that are considered widely underrated and/or simply unknown to many.

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by VendettaRed07 on Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:26 am

Both amazing systems. DS has the best handheld library ever, but I've enjoyed my 3ds more. Hit higher highs for me. Especially since I got my red N3ds XL, a much better and smoother experience than the old 3ds by a significant margin.


The way I break down the systems goes like this. The DS had incredible third party support with so many awesome gems from so many different companies. The 3ds didn't get jack from third parties outside of Atlus (who have been amazing) but Nintendos first party support for the system themselves has been significantly better. Outside of Mario Kart DS, not many of Nintendos own offerings left much of an impression on me.

Top 5 3ds for me goes

1) Fire Emblem:Awakening
2) Animal Crossing: New Leaf
3) A Link Between Worlds
4) Persona Q
5) Etrian Odyssey IV

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Awesome on Mon Jun 22, 2015 7:57 am

Ah LS, you are officailly the reason why I will even bother posting on the forum right now. Laughing

On topic, I only have Pokeymanz & Smash Bros. DS & 3DS has a huge library of games I wanna try out. I must Fire Emblem & Bravely Default games before I die. Zelda 3DS is also on my list. So many RPG's.

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by VendettaRed07 on Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:54 am

Bravely Default is ... Ok. There are better RPGs on the 3ds worth investing time into. It's one of the best RPGs recently in someways but it's like the worst game ever in others

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Twoism on Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:58 pm

Bravely Default has really solid 1st 5 chapters and then boom

Spoiler:
you realize oh crap you gotta redo the game 2 more freaking times to get an ending, it's so horrid I have to watch ending on youtube. Also there is some job combo that completely breeze you through the game

As for others, I only Monster Hunters nowadays and there is MH story as well as Cross coming out. Probably my most played game on the system along with RE: Revelation.
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:56 am

For anyone playing Bravely Default.

Just break the Crystals the 2nd time you are able to do it.
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by RealGunner on Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:06 am

Would love to play BD but DS exclusive Sad
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:49 am

#1

Game: Radiant Historia.
Year: 2011.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Atlus.
Developer: Atlus.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

I am just going to come out and say it: Radiant Historia is one of the best RPGs in the DS library and is a serious contender in any top RPGs list. As is usual with Atlus games, I neither knew about this game or managed to see it in stores. Not being one of Atlus's main brands, this game was even more difficult to find and managed little exposure.

Thanks to the convenience of the Internet age, we can now easily find used and new copies of the game, which I recommend to any RPG fan to do immediately.

"The Way History should be"

Radiant Historia doesn't begin different enough from other JRPGs. You begin by controlling Stocke, a special intelligence agent for the nation of Allistel who have been in a long war with the kingdom of Granorg. In the background to this conflict, and indeed the root cause of it, is the increasing desertification of the world which increases the need for land.

Almost immediately, things begin to change as your first mission (not Stocke's first) goes terribly wrong. With a terrible injury and the death of his two subordinates, Stocke realizes that a previously acquired tome can manipulate time. This tome, the White Chronicle, gives Stocke the ability to jump through time to correct the course of history.

With possession of the White Chronicle and the ability to manipulate time, you are expected to find a solution for the desertification problem. However, this will require careful manipulation of the political situation and several failed attempts. Over the course of the game, Stocke must make crucial decisions that could lead to a game-over scree. However, these endings only serve to give you more context for the world at large while you go back and choose differently.

Ideally, there would be branching paths for each major decision in the game, but such a game would have been ludicrously huge. Here, we have two main paths that are widely different, with all other paths leading directly to some ending. Maneuvering through the two paths is pivotal for Stocke to be able to move forward. If stopped by an obstacle in one timeline, the solution could be in the other.

The main story of the game might not be anything special, but the amazing characterization of all the people involved gives it surprising depth. Starting from the main character himself, Stocke starts as the stoic RPG here, but grows convincingly well throughout the game. Here is a main character who takes it all in stride and rarely complains, which is a huge departure from overly emotional and enthusiastic RPG heroes.

Outside of the main character, we have a wide assortment of supporting cast with various shades to them. Do not expect the all ancient evil to show up; most evil probably started from good intentions. The world is harsh, and it is that harshness that is the root cause of conflict.

Of course, if not for the impeccable writing, neither story nor characters would be as fleshed out as they are. This writing makes us wonder as the sacrifices made during the SNES era for memory's sake. Sure, this text could be somewhat verbose, but it is well written and convincing. The game doesn't cheat in order to surprise you, and each twist have had proper foreshadowing and fits in with all the other events.

Great Story: +4
Great Characters: +5

"Search for possibilities in the shadows of history"

As the central thrust of the story, the time manipulation mechanic of Radiant Historia is intelligently incorporated into the gameplay. The story unfolds in a series of events; some of which are important "nodes" in history. At any save point (or the map) you can jump back and forward between these nodes for various purposes. Some times, you will need to go back to the past to learn something you can use in the future. At other times, you might want to jump to the second timeline to influence the first. By unlocking these nodes, you open up the game-world to discover new equipment (being sold at different times) and side-quests as well.

For anyone who ever played a game that dealt with time manipulation, they would immediately ask if they have to waste their time doing things they already did before. Thankfully, Radiant Historia takes the common sense approach by allowing you to skip through most dialogue and cut-scenes. However, sometimes you do wish the nodes were closer to each other, but that is mostly when you are trying to finish an unusually obtuse side-quest.

Mostly, the time jump mechanic is both intuitive and easy to use in the main story-line. Unfortunately, side-quests require more time jumping than you might care for, and doing them is needed for the good ending.

While the quests that ask you to jump back and forth are annoying, and those that require you to visit a place between two far apart nodes are a pain, the worst offender is something else. I get that something in the past is a prerequisite for an event in the future, but in no way should an event in the future be a prerequisite for an event in the past. Thankfully, only one or two side-quests are as bad as that, but I didn't care for the bulk of them all-together.

Rapid Time Jump Mechanic: +3
Story and Mechanics Align: +2
Weak Side-Quests: -3

"The only thing I'll sell you is a fist, want a free sample?"

To differentiate its turn-based battle system, Radiant Historia uses a puzzle-like 3x3 grid for the enemies. Each enemy can occupy from a single space to the entire grid based on its size (the latter reserved for bosses), and their damage slightly changes based on their position. Fighting these enemies revolve around managing your own turns and trying to score combo attacks.

In order to score a lengthy combo, you will need to change your turn order by advancing enemy attacks. Thus, for the reward of getting a long combo chain by having allies turn follow each other, your risking damage from the enemy.

In order to get the best of your attack, you would want to attack as many of the enemy as possible; and this where skills prove useful. A variety of skills move the enemy through their grid, and if you push one enemy into another, the next hit affects them both. Hence, an effective attack combo would push a bunch of enemies together in order to deliver one final blow to all of them. Which is why battles become a tactical affair that you cannot auto-play to win.

It is thankful then that with battles taking some time (not a lot) that you can go through a t a respectable level without having to fight that many battles. In fact, being under-level might add to the challenge. Even though, if you want to fight more battles, the MP supply you have ensures that your skill can be of use against all enemies, not only reserved for bosses.

Overall, the combat system is not revolutionary, but its a fast paced innovative design that keeps your attention. Best of all, each of your party members (if leveled properly) is useful in their own way (the party members that are typically not around to get leveled up are actually balanced to be stronger at lower levels).

Engaging Combat: +3
Useful Skills: +2

"This world is not worth the blood needed to save it"

The world of Vainqueur is not a pretty place. Both war an desertification had taken its toll on it. Probably to show more variety in locations, the game doesn't opt to use all desert locations, but even the grassy lands feel as if they are drying up. Hence, the contrast in places that are yet to be affected is greatly highlighted. Yet, its not the backgrounds you are invited to look at but the characters themselves.

Starting from the absolutely gorgeous art-work for each character to the impeccable sprite design and animation, you know that these are the stars of the graphical department. Sprites come in different shapes and sizes, and all animate well and with expressive motion both in and out of battle. As for the art-work design; its one of the best and most detailed I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, we might ave paid too much for that detail, because they are entirely static. This creates moments of disconnect at the game's most dramatic scenes in which I wish the art works was smartly hidden. When a certain character orders the burning of a city, we see her sprite animating in excitement, and her speech bubble is suggesting she is shouting the command. Yet, the neutral expression in the art work creates and odd separation of content and design, so much I would do without the beautiful portraits all together.

Fortunately, the soundtrack never fails to underscore the magnitude of any scene. In fact, you owe it to yourself to play this game exclusively while wearing headphones because this is some great stuff. Yoko Shimomura manages to craft one hell of a soundtrack. Starting from the amazing theme of Allistel, we see a blend of styles and a seriousness to the tale that stick throughout.

True, the soundtrack as a whole may have little in number of track, but it more than makes up for it through quality and variety.

Very Good Sprites: +4
Great Soundtrack: +5
Static Art Work: -2

In Conclusion:

Radiant Historia is a game that proves revisiting older consoles can be very rewarding. Here is a game I knew nothing about, and would have continued nothing about have I not decided to play and review little know DS games. Yet, now, I would have very much regretted not playing this game.

Simply, this looks and feels like a modern development of a a great SNES RPG. Indeed, this is what I imagine the best SNES RPGs would have been without the inherent limitations of their time. A truly historical.

Final: 50/50

"Tips"
1- You must do 10 specific side-quests to get the good ending.
2- Many side-quests you get early on cannot be completed until much later.
3- You can use Mana shards to complete heal yourself at save points.
4- Use larger enemies to push into two or more smaller enemies, then you can push all of them together again.
5- Chaining a long combo increases the damage for attack.
6- Don't ignore the under-leveled characters, because you might find them very useful.

"Next Game"

As an opening to my DS reviews list, I doubt any game could have been better. Radiant Historia is a game I would recommend anyone easily, and this would a very high bench-mark for the other games I will be reviewing.

The next game is one part of a the underrated Valkyrie Profile series; Valkyrie Chronicles: Covenant of the Plume. Here is hoping for a good games streak.

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by VendettaRed07 on Sat Jun 27, 2015 4:43 am

Never got to play it when it came out, but will certainly get it eventually thanks to this review. Really interested in playing it now

But all the money I have for gaming is going to go to the Shenmue 3 kickstarter lol. Soon as that's done I'll get into some RH

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Twoism on Sat Jun 27, 2015 4:47 am

The new Fire Emblem will be my next big 3ds game, watched JP gameplay on YT, everything I want from FE.
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Awesome on Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:51 am

I'm looking to a Golden Sun review here. Atlus is renowned for making quality RPG's on masse. Pretty sure we'll see more Atlus RPG's on this thread. Can't wait. Smile

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:23 pm

#2

Game: Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume.
Year: 2009.
Genre: SRPG.
Publisher: Square-Enix.
Developer: Tri-Ace.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Valkyrie Profile is one of those series that I have always knew existed but never tried before, which is a step-up from the majority who probably doesn't know anything about it Previously, I imagined the series had more titles to its name, but this DS iteration is the third in the series (with one "remake").

Inspired by Norse mythology, VP attempts to have a unique Western edge among its JRPG brethren, and it mostly succeeds.

I don't know how Covenant of the Plume fits in the VP canon, or whether being familiar with the series is of any consequence. However, I know that CotP is a very solid game that suggests the series should have been given more attention that it did.

"It is through sin that you will avenge your suffering"

Vengeance is a common theme in RPG games. Often, the hero character is out to get revenge against some evil that greatly affected their lives. Whether its a great ancient monster, or a militant empire. Usually, revenge then takes a back seat as more important goals are thrust upon the hero, as the world starts to expand and the main character is asked to be its savior.

Covenant of the Plume starts out as a quest for vengeance, and ends as a tale of vengeance. However, the object of Wyl's rage is not what can be considered a traditional evil, but death itself. In the world of VP, the Valkyrie is an angel of death of some sort. Simply put, she takes the souls of worthy warrior to Asgard in preparation for an end of world battle. Wyl's father was such a warrior, and the loss of the bread bringer in a medieval society meant that his family would suffer greatly. As a result, Wyl's sister died of starvation and his mother went mad with grief. Thus, begins Wyl's quest to avenge his father by killing the Valkyrie herself.

The main game studies the morality of revenge really well. In order for Wyl to be able to face the Valkyrie, he signs a covenant with Hel, the mistress of, well, hell. He agrees to accumulate sin through battle in exchange for the power to slay the Valkyrie, as well as resign his soul to the abyss. In order to accumulate enough sin though, Wyl also has to sacrifice his comrades in arms. For both the player an Wyl, this creates a dilemma, especially regarding the well-written characters you might have to sacrifice.

Few of the allies that join you are free of sin. Each might be as soaked in guilty blood as your MC is, and some are very attractive as sacrificial lambs. Morose, sacrifice serves a gameplay purpose as well. It adds a very strong skill to Wyl's arsenal, and practically wins you the battle you sacrifice some one in.

Depending on your choices regarding sacrifices, you will get one of three endings. I wish the criteria for each ending was slightly relaxed, because there is only one sacrifice between the first and second ending, and the second and third. For me, I tried getting along without sacrificing anyone from the onset, just to beaten soundly by the game. I needed to sacrifice someone for Wyl to get stronger, and that made me feel like Wyl needing Hel's help to avenge his father.

All the allies you will fight with are interesting characters in their own right, with great writing bringing them to life. Unfortunately, all ally characters are bound by their own chapters. Meaning that once their chapter ends, they shut up for the rest of the game. Even worse, there is no closure for these excellent characters at the end of the game, with the only possible closure being sacrificed by Wyl. This is an absolute disservice to a bunch of unique and well written characters that I felt needed that extra depth at the end.

Wyl's tale doesn't get such treatment, as it is properly concluded depending on your choices.

Great Story: +5
Great Characters: +5
Real Morality Choices: +3
Supporting Characters Get the Shaft after their Chapters: -3

"Torture and slay at your black heart's content while your sacrilege rips the gods from their heavens"

CofP uses a straightforward grid-based SRPG battle system with a twist. You control 4 units, each with an attack range. If you attack an enemy unit within the range of another ally; said ally would support your attack.

Attacking any unit transfers you to the battle screen, where you can inflict combos on the enemy with up to the maximum 4 characters. With long combos, you fill up the special gauge which can be used to unleash some super attacks. Of course, the enemy can do the same to you, which is why rushing ahead will get you killed.

Additionally, positioning the enemy between your units in certain way will initiate a "siege" attack which carries additional benefits with it.

Other than attacking, you can use techniques to aid you in your fight, or spell to heal and hurt. By far, the most useful techniques are those that Wyl learn by sacrificing his allies; some are downright broken which I will talk about below.

More than half the battle is won through preparation. Both proper equipment and level of experience in the difference between an impossible battle and a breeze. Ironically, the best equipment can only be gotten if you manage to breeze through.

In most battles, you are asked to accumulate some sin count, which happens by overkilling the poor sods you are facing. You overkill mostly by unleashing a guys beat-down on most enemies, which lead battles to drag-on more than they should.

Fast SRPG Battles: +4
Nice Combo System: +2
Can get Repetitive: -3

"One may despair and heap wrong upon wrong"

In my first few hours, I thought that this game was one of the hardest SRPGs I ever played. I barely managed to get the minimum sin count; so the double sin count reward was a distant dream. Escort missions were hell, and my revive items were being used at every turn. In those battles, I felt like I needed to Sacrifice someone, and that I thought was awesome game design.

As is usual with many SRPGs, you cannot grind between battles, which means that your stuck with your level at any given match. So sacrifice was the only way to beat that insurmountable boss character who can easily kill all of my characters and not get a dent. Because the sacrafised character immediately becomes superhuman, and can easily wipe the floor with everyone else in the battlefield. As a bonus, Wyl himself gets a powerful technique.

Up to the first sacrifice, this is a hard game. However, the moment you sacrifice Cheripha, the game nearly breaks. Because Cheripha's technique allows Wyl tpo paralyze nearly all enemy characters, it means you can gang up by 4 on each enemy character with little punishment, and nearly destroy all enemies by the time they are cured.

Additionally, playing with anything other than the same 4 guys is stupid, because level jumps are huge in effect. Hence, an under-leveled character is useless unless you are about to sacrifice them.

When playing the game again, you keep both skills and weapons from previous playthroughs. To enjoy the game more, I make a conscious decision to limit the weapons and techniques I use, which feels like me balancing the game for the developers. It ruins the tension that at first made the sacrifice mechanics so great.

Poor Balancing: -5

"The fires of passion burns brightest before the black of death"

After seeing the opening cinematic, you might think that VP follows the same style as other Square Enix JRPG characters. With a white haired hero who wears not one, but two pony tails. Seriously, two freaking pony tails. However, Wyl's design is actually in sharp contrast to the rest of the characters who are more realistically designed.

Both character portraits and sprites are well made, with a variety of facial expressions and characteristic models. The actual animation of attacks is actually a little complex, with special attention needed to get the best out of each character's attack animation and incorporate them into a good combo. A combo that should include a number of the over-the-top super moves that are thankfully skippable to increase the pace of combat.

Of special note is the in-battle voice acting, which packs incredible weight to the cool quotes expressed by each character when attacking. I wonder how those VA would have done with the dialogue of the game. Then again, its better to not have voice acting imo, than to have terrible performance.

Moving into the musical score, I am not sure what to say. Despite playing many battles, I don't remember any of the battle themes; only that they are different in enemy and ally phases. As for the regular game, only one theme stood up to me, and even that was by virtue of repetition rather than anything else.

Overall, this was one of the least memorable scores in an RPG, and I was not inspired to listen to any of it ever again.

Very Good Character Design: +5
Forgettable Soundtrack: -3

In Conclusion:

Despite its balancing problems and forgettable music soundtrack, I think CofP manages to be a unique SRPG that deserves more attention than it got. Ironically, a lot of the complaints it had are ones I find ridiculous. This is not a difficult game. On the contrary, once you get any one of the truly broken battle techniques, you can cruise through the game.

Outside of its gameplay though, this game tells a unique story that is worth playing through more than once. Especially since each play-through gives you a different perspective than the last.

Final: 35/50

"Tips"
1- Stick with 4 main Characters, it doesn't pay to have underleveled scrubs.
2- You can bring a character you want to use up to level through experience items.
3- If you want the easiest time at playing the game, sacrifice two characters in chapter 2 in your first play-through.
4- Healing can help, but leveling up is a sure way to heal yourself.
5- Cheripha's skill is greatly useful in Escort battles.
6- If you are having trouble accumulating sin in battles, try to set up "siege" situations.
7- To better enjoy the game in subsequent playthroughs, I suggest you purposely not use the strongest equipment until the end.

"Next Game"

Covenant of the Plume makes me more interested in going back and playing the first two Valkyrie Profile games. While I can't ignore its shortcomings, I actually enjoyed the game a lot for what it is, a stress-free romp with a nice story.

Next up in the little known DS games series is a throwback to the 16 bit era of RPGs. Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled is a game with a rather bipolar reception. A number of RPG enthusiasts really like the game, while more casual RPG player actively despise it (see Jim Sterling).

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:35 pm

#3

Game: Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled.
Year: 2009.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Graffiti Entertainment.
Developer: Studio Archcraft.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

These days, retro inspired games are so widespread that you could pick five random indie games, and one of them will be one. Back when the retrofication of games was novel, Black Sigil was in development. However, it only managed to release in 2009 after being in development for at least 3 years.

Looking at the end credits, we can see why. This is the work of few committed individuals who loved the RPGs of the past.

Being inspired by the 16bit era RPGs, Black Sigil is at once familiar and nostalgic. In fact, it might be too familiar for some. While this is a modern game wearing 16bit cloths, it feels like it also brought with it some of the undesirable elements of the past. How far you enjoy this game depends on how much you can tolerate those undesirable elements.

"Cleanse your cursed blood and wrest yourself from darkness"

The game begins with the main character, Kairu, getting a beatdown in training because he cannot use magic. He might be great with a sword, but that wouldn't help him against a fireball to the face. In the world of Bel Lenora, everyone can use magic, with the exception of Kairu, which marks him as a cursed being.

Because being cursed generally sucks, Kairu is soon exiled from the only world he ever knew, into a world that is in the edge of chaos. Luckily, he is accompanied by his half-sister, Aurora, who wasn't about to fall into the prejudice against her brother.

This starts off a fairly familiar RPG storyline, with a militaristic empire, an ancient evil, and a mysterious history.

What sets Black Sigil apart from both its peers and the RPGs of the past is not its main storyline, but the very smart dialogue and interaction between its characters. Both funny and endearing, I couldn't but enjoy the interactions between these interesting characters. Even when a character portrays a well-worn cliche, they still manage to bring something new and emotional to the mix.

That's not to say that the main storyline isn't interesting at all. Even though it does not break any new ground, the main story of Black Sigil still manages to have enough surprises and some genuinely exciting moments.

In order to get the best ending, you are expected to do some side-quests. Thankfully, many of these quests are highlighted by one character that your encouraged to visit, and none of them is miss-able. Many of those side-quests are fulfilling by themselves.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't end well, and I am not speaking about the ending itself. It is just that so much care have gone into the buildup, that I wish the finale had more effort put into it. In some way, its actually par the course for SNES RPGs, but not so for 2009.

OK Story: +3
Great Characters: +4
Smart Dialogue: +4
Poor Ending: -2

"Do you think you can stand my overwhelming power?"

By a wide margin, your ability to enjoy Black Sigil depends on your ability to withstand its frequent random encounter rate. As a general rule, random encounters gives gamers pause these days. Mostly a relic of the past, even in the SNES era, some games tries to give players control over the encounter rate by establishing enemy icons in the field. However, many of the most popular RPGs of the past did have Random Encounters (FF6), some of them quite frequent (FF4). Even today, games from Atlus such as Etrian Odyssey and Shin Megami Tensai are loved despite the frequent battles.

What makes Black Sigil's Random Encounters a problem is two things. First, the fact that its a modern game. Second, the fact that it has no control over the Random Encounter rate at all. Games like FF6 and Etrian Odyssey usually have items (repels) that sharply decrease the encounter rate. Unfortunately, Black Sigil does not have such an item.

As a result, while going through a straight path might be tolerable, getting lost in a dungeon can be seriously frustrating. Yet, even with as high an encounter rate as it does have, Black Sigil manages to be tolerable due to the fact that you can finish most battles in under a minute, and escape the rest in under a minute as well.

Employing an ATB-like turn based system, the battles in Black Sigil can either drag on forever if you have no idea what to do, or be done in less than a minute. For starters, you have a generous amount of Magic points to fuel your skills, which recovers slightly after each battle. Also, you have a highly diverse set of skills, which are all useful throughout the game. In order to finish any battle quickly, you only need to use the right skills at the right time. Especially the dual skills, which are team moves including two characters.

The number one time waster is going to be statues effects. Unlike many RPGs, statues effects can seriously hurt and help you. In the beginning part of the game, you will get random statues effects at the start of the match due to Kairu's curse. At that stage, equipping statues protection items is a must. Mostly, you need to keep your healers from getting silenced or paralyzed, particularly the latter.

Fortunately, you can use statues effects against your foes. Starting with a move that paralyzes most of your foes will ensure a fast victory, while poison and burn effects ensure a rapid decline of any boss.

What I seriously liked about the battles is how any combination of three characters work well. Some are obviously better, but its all well-balanced.

Outside of battle, its the usual SNES RPG style world traveling, mostly in a linear way despite having the freedom latter on. In dungeons, the puzzles would be interesting and fun if not for the fact that you are interrupted every 7 steps.

Be warned though, you will need to save often, which you can do in save points and the overworld. Because this game is reportedly glitches. According to my own play-through, the game crashed twice, and I was locked into a room when I tried to save one character's mother. Needless to say, I ignored the mother the second time, and the game didn't glitch then. It might have been a heartless decision, but it didn't actually matter, because she gets saved anyway.

Frequent Random Encounter Rate: -8
Nice Battle System: +4
Glitches: -2

"We be feedin' ye ta the sharks. If the sharks be full we be feedin' ye ta the whales"

As a game wearing its retro influence with pride, Black Sigil needed to realize that the retro badge is not about pure mimicry of the past. It needs to intelligently invoke Nostalgia through its design by doing something that couldn't have been done in the past. It needed to look like a 16 bit SNES RPG, while realizing its visually competing with the cream of the crop of that era without the nostalgia to back it up.

The result is one of the finest 16 bit RPG aesthetics that I ever seen, even with a lackluster soundtrack.

From the get-go, we realize that this couldn't have been done on the SNES. The character portraits are too animated for the SNES, and the amount of dialogue and animations would have take on too much space in those ancient cartridges. Each character has several facial animations, and several sprite animations. Both of which convey emotion and humor really well. Enemy sprites are not as varied an imaginative as they could have been, but bosses are generally good.

The stars of the graphical departments are the towns and backgrounds though. By far, the towns in Balck Sigil are one of the most varied, unique, and lively places in RPG history. Not only through the engineering design of the town, but also the interior, NPC placement, and general sense of life. Few games featuring as many towns manage this feat.

Clearly, much care has been out into the graphics of the game. As a result, this is a game that looks like a 16 bit title, but is probably impossible to build on the actual hardware of the SNES. At least not with all the dialogue and locations.

Unfortunately, the music is not as memorable. Sure, some tunes are really nice, and the battle music doesn't grow old despite being repeated several hundred times. It feels like a 16 bit title music, but it feels like it didn't go far enough. Its not as melodic as an SNES RPG, and perhaps its too clean. I enjoyed much of it, but none of the tracks felt particularly memorable.

Great Graphics: +5
Good Character Design: +3

In Conclusion:

I think Black Sigil have not been given enough chance. Many jumped at it due to its high encounter rate, without putting the fact that some great games had an even worse encounter rate, with a battle system that wasn't as smooth.

Honestly, I feel that if Black Sigil was released back in the 1990s, it would have been considered one of the RPG greats. Yet, in a modern time, where we expect more modern sensibilities, it stumbles a little.

Random Encounters are this title's worst weakness. If you can live with that, then Black Sigil is trip down 16bit memory lane, with both the good and the bad included

Final: 36/50

"Tips"
1- Hold B to escape.
2- If a certain group of enemies takes too long to defeat, just escape that group.
3- If you are not able to defeat most groups in under two minutes, rethink your strategies.
4- Hold R to freely move then use a skill (instead of holding position).
5- Save often.
6- Reportedly, changing the dialogue speed to 6 (the maximum) gets rid of some glitches.
7- Sell obsolete weapons to get some cash.
8- In order for two characters to learn a team move, they need to battle together to learn it (only if both have the pre-requisite skill).

"Next Game"

It turned out I actually liked Black Sigil. Sure, I wish I could control the Random Encounter rate, but it didn't kill the game for me. I feel like it would have been better defended if released by Atlus. Oh well, different folks with different strokes. Still warrants a chance though.

For my next game, I am going to the Visual Novel genre with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detectives, which is one of the visual novels that went down the radar because they are not Ace Attorney or Professor Layton.

Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:44 pm

#4

Game: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.
Year: 2011.
Genre: Adventure, Graphic Novel.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Creating one hit game can be attributed to luck, but managing to create a second hit is proof of skill. If you consider Shu Takumi's first hit to be the Ace Attorney series, then Ghost Trick is the second hit that proves both his ability and eye for the ridiculously sublime.

Reportedly, the idea for the game took five years to materialize, and those five years probably are the reason such an intricate plot managed to be.

Without exaggeration, Ghost Trick is one of the best games of its genre.

"Use your powers of the dead to find out the truth"

Right at the beginning, you are dead. A simple blue flame symbolizes your soul, the only attachment left in this earthly realm. With no form, no memories, you are tasked in answering the most existential questions about yourself.

Who are you? Why did you die?

Thankfully, your soul is unique among souls as it can influence the world of the living. Greeted to the world of the dead by a desk lamp (you read that well), you realize quickly that you have the ability to manipulate the world of the living, and that you should use that ability to find the truth about yourself.

One catch, you only have till dawn to find out before you disappear, and its 7PM now.

This sense of urgency propels the plot at breakneck speed. Yet, it always manage to entertain and surprise all the while keeping its pace. Along with the ability to manipulate simple objects, you are also able to rewind the death of others, to see if you can save them.

As you can imagine, your ability to save people who just died plays well into the story, as you change the fates of a host of different characters. Characters that are all well developed, likable, all the while being completely insane. I am talking about detectives that walk around dancing, and Pomeranian dogs (that can talk to you in the spirit world).

Thankfully, once you save any person, you are able to communicate with them (hence there is a lot of dialogue between the dead as well as the living). Which is great, because the dialogue is funny, smart, and all around just top-notch.

All of these elements combine to create a truly wonderful story. A story that manages to be thrilling, funny, and heartwarming all at the same time. Throughout all chapters, the mystery of yourself is being slowly solved. Yet, it is connected in significant ways to the mysteries each of the other characters are pursuing.

Twist and turns are plenty, and sometimes surprises spring like a landmine. However, the plot does not depend on those surprise. On the contrary, it is all crafted with the wonder, precision, and love of a perfect Rube Goldberg machine.

Great Story: +5
Great Characters: +5
Story Presentation: +5

"But what can I do? She is already dead"

The central conceit of Ghost Trick is preforming said "Ghost Tricks". Because of your ephemeral form, you are allowed to posses certain inanimate objects that posses "cores". Which objects posses cores? It doesn't really matter, because the game basically lays out a bunch of stuff that you are able to posses with all other stuff being background objects.

As a "ghost" you are supposed to manipulate objects to do two things: get around, and help people.

In the world of the dead, you are only able to be of influence to objects with "cores" and you can only travel through using them. Additionally, to can travel from place to place using phone lines (provided you know the number). Also, you only have limited travel distance between any two objects. Therefor, you will need to manipulate the environment in order to travel about. For example, you can slide a wheel chair from one end of the room to the other, or simply swivel a desk lamp to be nearer to another object that you can posses.

To help all the other people, and to help yourself in the process, you are frequently asked to rewind their death. Then, you see exactly how they died, and get a limited amount of time to save them. You can always rewind again if you fail, and sometimes you are forced to rewind if you do a serious mistake. You can even make things worse; its generally a bad idea to substitute a bullet with a hard hat.

For the casual reader, this might suggest a number of trial and error approaches, as you grind through the text you have already read (even though there is a fast-forward button). However, that is not the case.

Simply, while a brute force method can work, I found that most of the puzzles are intelligent and can be solved through careful examination of what you can do. In fact, it can be argued that its a little too simple

It is rare that any given puzzle gives you a false solution, and only latter in the game does you options expand beyond simple manipulation of inanimate objects. That is not to say that the gameplay becomes a chore at any stage, just that it doesn't often reach the heights it manages to occasionally reach itself.

Thematic Unique Gameplay: +3
Fast and Easy: +2
Not Challenging Enough: -3

"I feel like a top Pomeranian"

Honestly, I doubt the game's story and characters would have worked as well if not for the amazing style in which it was presented in. At first, the lower resolution graphics might make you wonder at Capcom's decision in using purely 3D animations in a 2D plane. Once those character's move, however, you will start realizing exactly how great this game looks.

Characters don't simply walk into a scene, they swagger in, they dance, they showcase their entire personality through their exaggerated body language. It says a lot that two similar looking characters are fleshed out entirely not only through their dialogue, but their completely different poses and animation.

Of course, the characters being animated are as well-designed as any Ace Attorney game. Ironically, despite the big personalities, the designs are actually a little more conservative than Ace Attorney games. Don't get me wrong, there is a guy with a pigeon for a hat, but you won't see whales testifying in court though.

What you are going to see a lot of is Missile the dog. Perhaps this is the single greatest side-kick character in videogames. Not only is he unbearably cute, but his whole design and personality is simply perfect.

This showcases that a game can look great despite low-res graphics, and again, we see how smart art direction than make use of the weakest of consoles.

As for the soundtrack. Initially, I thought it manages to lend to the atmosphere to the game without excelling too much. However, I started to appreciate it more as the game went on. Each character have their own theme that complements them well, and the puzzle sections are underscored with suitable music depending on the urgency of the situation.

Far from a truly memorable musical collection, the soundtrack manages to excel well enough to enhance the gaming experience without being a standout addition.

Great Animation: +4
Good Character Design: +3
Low Resolution: -2

In Conclusion:

Rare is a game that manages to grab my attention from start to finish, all the while consistently being engrossing and fun. Ghost Trick is perhaps one of the best games I played of the genre, and I am not sure I want a sequel.

The reason is that Ghost Trick is simply near perfect, especially in its conclusion, that a sequel cannot actually move forward much. Shu Takumi wouldn't have been able to make this game if the Ace Attorney games were not as successful. As a result, the idea stayed with him for a while, which is why the final product is such a well-crafted gem.

Also, it made me completely rethink my attitude towards dogs, which makes it one of the few games that affected me in some tangible way. Go Missile, we all love you, you brave lovable dog.

Final: 47/50

"Tips"
1- Hold B to fast forward.
2- You can always hit the rewind button if you are stuck.
3- If you feel you cannot get anywhere, listen to the hintsitio.
4- If you feel you still cannot get anywhere, maybe you need to wait for something n the environment to move.

"Next Game"

Ghost Trick is the reason I am doing these reviews; the hope that I play something truly fantastic and memorable.

Now, I am going back to RPGs with one game that perhaps five people know that Nintendo developed. Glory of Heracles is such a little-known game, Nintendo probably forgot they made it.

Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:01 pm

#5

Game: Glory of Heracles.
Year: 2010.
Genre: RPGl.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Paon.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

This game is actually the sixth in the Glory of Heracles series, a series that started in the NES and did not leave Japan at all. Through some bankruptcies, partnerships, and other mishaps, it somehow was acquired by Nintendo which released this title with little to no fanfare.

In fact, most wouldn't recognize Nintendo's hand in this title at all if not for the over generous tutorials. By far one of the companies least known titles, GoH suffers from a myriad of issues and problems. Yet, it managed to endear itself to me despite its obvious faults.

"An immortal with amnesia? Boy, you must have really ticked of the gods"

In this JRPG, its stars not one amnesiac hero, not two, but five who are also immortal. They cover the whole gamut of JRPG tropes, the silent protagonist, the tomboy girl (who unconvincingly pretends to be a boy for over half the game), the charming womanizer, the muscle head, and the creepy child characters.

These five characters go out to find answers about their identity and their immortality, which drives the first half of the plot. As you can guess from the title, the game take a lot of influence from Greek Mythology, but also takes liberties in using it.

Of course, the five immortals find themselves in the middle of a grand fight between the new gods (Zeus and friends) and the old gods (the Titans). Neither set of gods ever communicates with the heroes, but their cold war is influencing real wars in Greece such as the Trojan epic.

In the course of 30 something hours, characters discover who they are, betrayals happen, and sometimes what are supposedly emotionally poignant moments occur. I say supposedly because they in fact do not manage to get any emotion from me at all. Simply, the story sometimes is too silly to take seriously, and even dramatic events happen, they have very little effect.

A lot of it is due to the dialogue and poor characterization of most characters. Even in the middle of the most important story sequences, the characters would try to get in some Greek puns and generally joke around. Sure, there are some funny moments, but it is difficult to care about a cast that doesn't seem to care much about anything else.

After the boring first part of the game, where the five immortals linearly travel to find their answers, things happen that you don't care much about. Afterwards, your party linearly travels to stop other things from happening, and discover truths that don't seem to have much impact because of how little invested I was in the plot.

I didn't care for the plot: -4
Weak Characterizations: -4
Things Happen: +2
Interesting Setting: +2

"These battles... they never end, I want you to free me from this life"

Most of your time in GoH would be spent in turn-based battles which are randomly encountered. If you have any aversion to that, then this game is simply not for you. You see, these battles do not innovate in the field much, but are very solidly designed.

With a huge variety of moves, magical abilities, and strategies, these battles are surprisingly deep. There is an entire combat glossary of the conditions you can face in combat. For example, you can use moves that "attune" the enemy so that they are more susceptible to magic attack, or you can simply change their element so that you hit them with their weakness, or a dozen other strategies that you can use.

Both you and your enemies have access to a large variety of skills that significantly influence the battle. Besides the magic and skills each character can use, they also have innate abilities through equipment that activate at random. Also, they can equip two items that incur various effects, from reviving the dead, to increased critical chance.

Normally, battles wouldn't task you with a full use of the battle system. However, in bigger battles and boss battles, the system showcases its full potential. While basic in its application, it has a surprising depth an quality to it that few RPGs manage to beat. Better yet, the in-game glossary gives a comprehensive explanation of everything in a simple manner.

Additionally, probably in order to use the DS touchscreen, you can optionally strengthen special attacks by engaging in a variety of touch based mini-games. These are in fact fast, and don't waste time, and are useful and non-offensive at all.

Excellent Battle System: +5
Comprehensive Glossary: +4

"No one who incurs the wrath of the gods be surviven' for long, ya see"

The rest of your time when you are not in battle, you will be walking linearly from place to place. Literally, the entire journey is one long trek from A to Z; thankfully without backtracking at least.

In this journey, you go from town to town, only occasionally stopping by a shrine to get special skills, or simply shop in town. To add variety in this endeavor, the game offers up to 8 different kinds of shops, which means you won't be always able to find everything you need in every town you visit. Which is actually cool.

What is not cool is the fact that your entire journey is one tired slog with no break in between. In fact, GoH is a prime example of the importance of mini-games and side quests to the pacing of a game.

One Linear Slog: -4
Shop Variety: +1

"To Hades with Fate. I thought I was supposed to live my life as a man, but now I am Queen"

My first problem with GoH's looks is that there is nothing Greek about it. The architecture is medieval at the earliest, the map is not correct in any way, and even the numerical symbols used in the mini-games are Roman, not Greek.

This immediately ruins a lot of the novelty associated with the unique setting.

Then, there is the fact that it doesn't look that great. The character portraits are simply awful, and the polygonal graphics are weak and unimpressive. It looks washed out, even up to the DS's standards.

However, it animates really well. While the character sprites are not impressive, they are very expressive in their animation, and everything from the "cut-scenes" to the battle animations is done really well.

Thankfully, the music is better than the graphics, with a solid if unspectacular score. It still doesn't sound Greek, but its at least something worth listening to.

Very Good Animation: +4
Ugly Graphics: -3
Good Music: +3
Not Greek Enough: -3

In Conclusion:

Glory of Heracles is a difficult game to assess. Objectively, I shouldn't have enjoyed this game as much as I did. Other than the battle system and the OK music, it does everything wrong. I didn't care about the progression much, and the only difference I noticed as I went on are the Town names.

Yet, I was motivated enough to finish the game beyond having to write this review. Ultimately though, I wouldn't have played the game knowing what I know now.

Final: 28/50

"Tips"
1- In order to use magic, you must see if there is enough of that Mana in the field for you to do so.
2- If the encounter rate is annoying you, use Repel items to stop it.
3- Raising your stats mid-battle for a stronger attack is a very good strategy.
4- Use Attunment often when you use Magic against bosses.
5- You can hit a downed enemy to refill MP points in the same round.
6- Read the glossary if you don't understand something in battle.

"Next Game"

Glory of Heracles doesn't feel like a Nintendo game. There is a certain seal of quality missing from it. Yet, perhaps because of that, it is actually better than the quality sterile gams Nintendo sometimes release from time to time.

The next game I am reviewing is on of the DS's many adventure games, Trace Memory, which is actually one of the system's earliest games of that genre. Here is hoping for another surprise hit.

Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:04 pm

#6

Game: Trace Memory.
Year: 2005.
Genre: Graphic Novel.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Cing.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

With the release of the DS, Nintendo started going into their "blue ocean" strategy, and as such began to commission game that branch out from the traditional genre's. As a result, the graphic novel genre enjoyed a notable renaissance on the two screened gameboy.

Trace Memory is one of the pioneering games of that genre on the DS, and while it does not measure up to the best games, it is a nice enough game that was much overpriced for its short play-time.

"People only forget what they want to forget"

The game opens up with the character, a 13 year old girl, Ashley, going with her Aunt to the ridiculously named Blood Edward Island. Ashley is finally going to meet her father for the first time in 10 years.

Before that, we are treated to a number of mysterious flashbacks that suggest a deeper mystery, including murder, regarding both Blood Edward Island, and Ashley's father. At the start, we realize that Ashley's memory of her early childhood exist, but is not entirely clear.

The plot of Trace Memory deals with unreliability of memory, and the effects of a view point on the reality we perceive.

Once you reach the island, the aunt conveniently disappears, and Ashley goes around looking for her. Soon enough, she encounters D, a ghost that is obviously related to the island's mystery, and she agrees to help him regain his memories.

With only a few characters, Trace Memory aims to tell an intimate narrative. Surprisingly, the narratives regarding both Ashley and D are suitably poignant, and we can relate to the protagonist really well.

Good Story: +4
Good Characters: +3

"Finding out the truth can be scary"

Most of the game involves controlling Ashley from a top down position in the bottom screen, and investigating stuff in the upper screen. Occasionally, you need to solve a puzzle or two to progress, and you need to point and click on a lot of stuff to expose some clues.

Unfortunately, there is little else to the gameplay than that.

Literally, there are about 10-15 puzzles in the entire game, and while they are mostly smart and require both creative thinking and a thorough observation of the location, that is just too few.

The game can be beaten in less than 5 hours, and there is no reason to replay it. At the original asking price of $40, it is very difficult to recommend this title.

Really Short: -5

"The sea is calm, but my heart is a storm of emotions"

The game presents two view perspectives. The bottom screen shows a top down view with 3D elements, while the upper screen shows a first person still picture where the click and point action happen.

In the first perspective, you get a functional but not impressive 3D map that you walk around in. While in the second perspective, you get a better artistic rendering of the Blood Edward Mansion, but its all pretty drab.

Fortunately ,the character portraits are excellent. All members of the cast are drawn with detail, and they look more realistic than typical anime fare. Ashley in particular manages to be realistic with her facial emotions, and lends really well to the telling of the story.

Of particular note is the use of flashbacks and differing camera angles in telling the story. It tries to give form to act of remembering, and mostly succeeds by emphasizing the story elements.

Adding to the narrative is an excellent soundtrack that probably doesn't overstay its welcome because of how short the game is. While consisting of a few tunes, they add a sense of mystery and exploration that lends well to an otherwise empty exploration trip.

Drab graphics: -1
Good Character Design: +2
Good Soundtrack: +2

In Conclusion:

As one of the first graphic novel games on the DS, Trace Memory is important for introducing the genre, but is really outclassed in its genre. Even though it tells and good story, and tells it well, it fails at having the player interact well with the story.

In that regard, perhaps it is best that its as short as it is, which actually has its own problems. At the original asking price of $40, I wouldn't be able to recommend this game to the most die hard fan of the genre.

Final: 30/50

"Tips"
1- Try and play the game in one or two settings.
2- Pay attention when an object is talked about in highlighted font. You might need that object later.
3- Some puzzles will require using the DS's capabilities, from the microphone to the fact that is has two screens.

"Next Game"

Trace Memory's story might be somewhat memorable, but I can imagine it being much better as a digital download game on any other device, not a full titled game to be sold at retail price.

Next game is a cult hit, Infinite Space, which is an RPG often compared to Suikoden. As a fan of that series, I am expecting a lot from this game.

Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by RealGunner on Fri Nov 27, 2015 1:42 pm

Have you reviewed Bravely Default?
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by RealGunner on Tue Dec 01, 2015 11:18 pm

Think I have about 10 odd 3DS games I will buy over the next few months.

Shame Xenoblade Chronicles is exclusive to the new 3DS Sad

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:57 pm

#7

Game: Infinite Space.
Year: 2010.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Sega.
Developer: Nude Maker, Platinum Games.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

There is so much to this little package, you could scarcely believe its on the DS. Infinite Space somehow manages to tell a fully engrossing Space Opera tale, one that spans numerous galaxies and a significant passage of time.

Simply put, this is one huge, expansive game, and it tells one of the best stories on the DS. It wears its 80's space Anime influence on its sleeve, and it would make that genre proud. It proves again that the DS was probably last generations bastion for RPGs.

"Sometimes I wonder if it was good that people discovered how to travel faster than light"

The opening anime scene basically tells the entire plot of the opening chapter. Your hero, Yuri wants to go to space against the rules of the frontier planet he live in, and through meeting a Launcher (person responsible for getting people into space) Nia, he eventually manages to not only go to space, but also overthrow the system's ruler.

From then, the game truly tarts, as Yuri and crew travel the various galactic systems, both for the simple sake of traveling as "Zero-G Dogs", and to search for the meaning behind a mysterious artifact that Yuri owns.

Earlier, I described the game as a Space Opera, and it fits that description well. While it starts as a simple adventure, the plot soon kicks off as the 16 year old Yuri is embroiled in political intrigue between rival nations, battles against space pirate, the ever growing ambition of an expansionist empire, and the quantum existence of the universe.

Before you say this is too much for a 16 year old to be involved in, remember that Alexander the Great started his invasion of most of the known world at that age, and nearly completed it before 30. In comparison, Yuri, who grows significantly over the course of the plot, only acts as one of the major actors. As Yuri, you have a little impact on the story, as you are regularly asked to choose between tow missions, which sometimes have major repercussions. In fact, one of the best scenes in the game only happens if you choose to support A instead of supporting B, and you only see that cut-scene way near the end of the game, 30 hours after making that decision.

There is a lot of meat to the story, A lot of intrigue, mystery, and a host of great characters. While there are many characters that simply fill in their well established tropes, the great majority of characters are well developed, even those with limited screen time. Besides the main cast, Yuri can recruit a huge variety of people to his fleet, which is similar to how Suikoden operates but with a little less depth.

These characters might not be as well developed as the main cast, but they still have their lines of dialogue, and they do give a universal feel to our crew. They include people fro mall walks of life, and serve to underscore the Zero-G philosophy of Yuri's crew.

It is surprising how many times I lay down in bed, way past my bedtime, engrossed in the intergalactic tale of Infinite Space. Always, it manages to stay interesting, surprising, and always plays by its established rules. Like another famous Space Opera game, the ending might not satisfy a lot of people. However, it is an ending by the rules of the game, and it fits well with the entire narrative.

To get there, you might get attached to a lot of characters, and I actually felt their sacrifice each and every time. Every time, I felt how nearly infinite in scope is the game. Easily one of the best stories on the DS.

Excellent Story: +6
Great Characters: +4

"A desperate, all-out battle for survival"

Initially, I didn't think much of the battle system in the game. You control your fleet, as you battle another fleet, and you need to keep track of three things. First, the distance between your fleets and the respective range of your weaponry. Second, your own command gauge, which when filled allows you to issue commands such as firing and dodging. Finally, the enemy's own command gauge, which tells you exactly what moves they can make. It employs a rock-paper-scissors mechanics, where dodges work against barrages, and regular fire is weak but cannot be dodged.

It first, it was simple matter of firing regular shots, and dodging when the enemy's gauge is red (indicating that they can use a barrage). However, once the difficulty ramps up, and fighters are thrown into the mix, the system actually becomes more engaging than I first thought.

Battles become nearly psychological affairs against the computer, where you debate when to use the stronger barrage command, or wast your gauge in dodging. Many times, after repeated failures, I was really glad at getting a winning hit just at the brink of death.

However, the battles sometimes are really unfair. Many battles follow each other in rapid succession, before you get to the boss battles. In some of those cases, you can retreat and heal (which is WAY AGAINST THE FLOW OF THE STORY), but it often forces you to be always on your toes.

Yet, that is only half the battle, as the skirmish actually starts much earlier in your preparation of your fleet. Actually preparing your fleet is the core of the game's battle system. Using the money you earn in building ship to add to your fleet (a max of five ships), is what you will always need to do if you hit a wall. Its akin to an experience system, but with actual physical models.

There is actually a lot of depth to the acquiring of ships, which come in more than 60 models, and I can imagine stat-crunshers have the best value for money figured out, but you can figure it out at a glance as well. There are many stats which are never explained, but the in game helm menu is more than adequate. Each ship then can be individually customized as well, with modules, weapons, and fighters.

This all makes the combat system much deeper than you would initially think, and the difficulty of the game will force you to learn it if you want to succeed, because buying stronger ships is not always the best option, as they are too expensive, and sometimes you can make a weaker ship stronger through intelligent usage of modding

Engaging Battle System: +4
A lot of customization Options: +4
Sometimes Unfair difficulty: -1

"Peace or Virtual Enslavement, two faces of the same coin"

Since the battle system is all about the ships in your fleet, and the customization option for that, what good is your crew? They are actually one of the preparation aspects for your fleet.

Among the broad section of crew characters, you assign each to a job on the fleet according to their abilities. With each crew member on the job, your entire fleet functions better according to the various stats involved. Firepower improves, healing is faster, and your gauge fills quicker as well. If you remove all your crew from their jobs, you will notice a considerable dip in performance in battle.

However, the more noticeable aspect they add is increased sense of scale. With the crew collection aspect to the game, your quest FEELS more important, as they add more voices to your crew. That is not to say that the lesser important characters add much to the plot, but their collective mini-stories does make it better.

In the game, a lot of things add a sense of scale, even if it doesn't really make much of a difference. Take visiting planets for example. There is little difference in each planets, but the fact that some offer quests, while other sell stuff, and even some doesn't ofer anything of note, all makes you have to visit each planet to see what they got.

One thing that I found markedly annoying however is when you choose to talk to your crew. In most taverns, there is a "talk to your friends" option, which opens a conversation with one of your crew. However, it opens up any one of possible conversations at random. You cannot choose which crew member to talk to, and as a result you have no idea what conversations are possible, and you just randomly choose the option in the hope of getting a new conversation with a crew mate. Meanwhile, you might get the same conversation time and time again before you discover something new.

Thankfully, there is a fast-forward button, which works great in skipping those conversations, as well as whenever you are defeated in battle.

Crew Collection: +4
Visiting Planets:+1
Talk to Friends Option: -2

"I aim to travel all over the sea of stars"

Unfortunately, with the sheer size and scope of Infinite space, it suffers in its graphical presentation. For instance, there are less than 30 unique backgrounds for the entire game, and all 3D models are lacking in resolution. Similarly, character portraits locked in one expression, and the edges look a little washed out.

Its not a pretty game, but the visual design helps make up for it. For instance ,while you can complain about the resolution of the character portraits, you cannot complain about their design. They look like characters out of an 80s Space Anime, and are wonderful in their variety and design.

As for the 3D models, they don't look too good, but the huge number of ship models and their distinctive design makes up for it in some ways.

Then there are the anime stills, which are simply 2D drawings in an anime style, acting as highlights in important story scenes. While these are simple still,s they are drawn in such a dynamic way that you can practically imagine the sound and actions happening, especially if you watched any Space Opera.

Sound however maintains a consistent quality, with a pretty good soundtrack. The battle music is OK, and the track lends a lot of atmosphere to everything from the military power of the empire, to the mysticism of ancient religions. Of course, the wide assortment of laser sound, thrust engines, ans warp points are all what you expect fro ma Sci-Fi event.

One particularly great vocal track unexpectedly starts at the beginning of one of the most epic battles in the game, and because of that track, I now consider that boss battle among the best I played.

Washed out Graphics: -3
Interesting Art Design: +2
Great Sound: +4
That Boss Fight: +2

In Conclusion:

Infinite Space is one of the biggest, most ambitious RPGs on the DS, and it miraculously doesn't unravel under that conceit. Instead, it delivers one hell of a Space opera, and an engaging battle system to boot.

Under that, there is an extensive collection of ships, crew members, and planets to visit. It is only the icing in top of an already excellent cake. Simply put, Infinite Space is one of the best RPGs I ever played.

Final: 50/50

"Tips"
1- Use the Autosave feature.
2- Read the help options to learn what each stat means.
3- If you cannot progress because of a boss battle, you might need to build a stronger ship.
4- Sometimes, you will need to sell your older ships to finance newer ones.
5- Some boss battles require the use of special skills.
6- If you only plan to play the game once, choose to support Kalymnas when given the option. It ensures you see the best scene in the game.

"Next Game"

Well, that's another gem in the DS's RPG crown. Surely, the DS's RPG collection is among the strongest in any console. Its a damn shame that the game didn't manage to sell more than 200K units. What the hell is wrong with gamers ffs.

Next game is another little-known RPG, Knights in the Nightmare (get the pun), which is published by Atlus. Here is hoping it at least measures up to Infinite Space.

Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Jan 15, 2016 1:53 am

#8

Game: Hotel Dusk: Room 215.
Year: 2007.
Genre: Point and Click, Graphic Novel.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Cing.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Hotel Dusk is Cing's second attempt at creating a different kind of game on the DS. Similar to their first game, Trace Memory, this is more a graphic novel than a game. However, while Trace Memory seemed like a tech demo of the kinds of game Cing wants to make, Hotel Dusk is a full fledged title.

Make no mistake, if you are not interested in reading in your games, then you won't be interested in Hotel Dusk. If so, you will be missing out on one hell of a story, a story that is expertly delivered and is one of the best of its type on the DS.

"The famous officer Hyde, a Salesman!"

You play as ex officer Kyle Hyde, a current salesman scouring 1970's California looking for clues regarding the whereabouts of his ex partner, Bradley. As you would expect from someone with the name Hyde, and the setting itself, you are controlling the archetype of Noir detective fiction. A gruff, gritty man, who is not as hard as he pretends to be.

When the game starts, Hyde finds himself looking for something in Hotel Dusk, but it becomes immediately apparent that the hotel hides many secrets, and it is up to him to uncover them all and shed the light on its mysterious connection to his past.

There are many characters in Hotel Dusk, ranging from Wonder Maid Rosa, to the pompous writer Summers. It is through conversation with these characters, and general detective work, that the story unfolds.

Due to the great characterization of the characters, and one heck of a written dialogue, the story unfolds easily, and it is not difficult believing these characters or caring form them. In fact, in the 12 hours I spent on Hotel Dusk, I felt curiously attached to these characters, and like I imagine Kyle Hyde felts, I wondered what would happen to them.

Because we are uncovering the past in this game, Cing were brave enough to obscure the future. We get a glimpse of whay may happen yet, but we do not know. There is always enough mystery, and a room for ambiguity, that the tale feels more authentic.

This is not a story about exposing grand criminal schemes, solving life's issues, or even resolving your central objective. Everyone in Hotel Dusk has ghosts in the past to deal with, but the unknown future holds its own ghosts as well.

Great Story: +5
Great Characters: +5
Great Dialogue: +5

"All alone in this sad ol' wreck of a hotel"

Like in Trace Memory, Hotel Dusk is composed of three parts. First, there is dialogue, which takes most of the game's running time. While there are certain choices you make, they are obvious enough, and the game progresses linearly.

Outside of dialogue, there is simple walking around and interacting with the environment for clues and stuff. Like any point and click game, this is not overly complicated, and is simply a way to play the detective.

Then there are the overly simple puzzles. In fact, the puzzles are so simple, that even when they don't work (due to to technical errors), they are not a pain at all.

Like Trace Memory, this is a wasted opportunity to truly craft an interactive element worthy of the story like games such as Ace Attorney and Professor Layton. The interactivity of Hotel Dusk is very basic, and it shouldn't have been like that.

Two late sections in the game, one featuring a locked room scenario, provided glimpses of how the game could have been better. There was actually a non-punishing fail state as well.

Failure is rare in the game, but with such hilarious failure dialogue "I won't tolerate insomniac creeps in my establishment", I wished there were more chances of that happening.

Limited Interactive Gameplay: -5

"Busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicken' contest"

Besides its written dialogue, Hotel Dusk manages to present its story wonderfully through its excellent art direction. Immediately, the pencil drawing effect on the character models will grab your attention.

It is as if the characters are being continuously drawn in front of your eyes, and as they animate, the effect only makes it better. It doesn't hurt that the characters are well designed, with realistic, and varied style.

Sure, there is no good reason for old Helen to have an eye patch (other than making way for the nickname "Grandma Patches"), but it looks cool. More than that, these characters are drawn like real people, with varied shapes and sizes.

Because of these characters, it is easy to forgive the bland 3D rendering of Hotel Dusk. Although I appreciate how realistic its layout is (it actually is more of an inn than a hotel).

As for the music, its Jazzy tunes and melodies fit the Noir style of the game. More than that, it accentuates the story scenes, and adds a layer of drama to compensate for the lack of voice acting in a game that would have benefited from it.

Drab graphics: -2
Great Character Design: +5
Good Soundtrack: +3

In Conclusion:

In their second attempt, Cing managed to outdo their first big time in nearly every way. In its genre, Hotel Dusk has one of the best stories, and strongest cast of characters to back it up. While it might not be as interactive as other greats in the DS library, Hotel Dusk demands attention by virtue of its writing alone.

I am not sure those who are looking for action in their games, or actual gameplay, would enjoy Hotel Dusk. But, for anyone willing to enjoy a good mystery novel, or a Noir film, then Hotel Dusk is worthy of your time.

Final: 41/50

"Tips"
1- Tolerate the puzzles to enjoy the story.
2- Sometimes, you will need to use an actual notepad to jot down a few numbers you will need.

"Next Game"

Hotel Dusk is obviously what Cing aimed to create for the DS, and its a game that makes me mourn their loss. It was moderately successful, but life had another plan for them.

Next game is a remake of an SNES classic, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is actually a remake of a game a I reviewed and quite liked in my SNES reviews series.


Stay Tuned
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by RealGunner on Thu Jan 21, 2016 5:44 pm

Just bought Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:24 pm

RealFirenze Molenation

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by RealGunner on Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:25 pm

not opened 3DS in over a month now.
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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Lord Awesome on Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:01 pm

Nintendo's been putting so much more effort on their handhelds than the actual console. They're defo making a move for mobile gaming. I wonder if the NX will be a sort of mobile console.

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:03 pm

@Lord Awesome wrote:Nintendo's been putting so much more effort on their handhelds than the actual console. They're defo making a move for mobile gaming. I wonder if the NX will be a sort of mobile console.


That's pretty much a given tbh, too much info for it not to be.

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Re: The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread

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