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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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Post by RealGunner on Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:32 pm

Anyone picking Fire: Emblem Fates?
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Post by Lord Awesome on Sat Feb 27, 2016 4:02 am

@RealGunner wrote:Anyone picking Fire: Emblem Fates?


Heard nothing but good reviews. Sadly I can't pick it up at the moment as I'm broke but come the middle of the year imma pick this up along with both Bravely Default & Second Layer.

Waifu Emblem :bow:

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Post by Lord Spencer on Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:48 pm

@RealGunner wrote:not opened 3DS in over a month now.


I nearly play it everyday.

My most played console of all time.
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:52 pm

#9

Game: Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals.
Year: 2010.
Genre: ARPG.
Publisher: Square Enix, Natsume.
Developer: Neverland, Square Enix.

The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread - Page 2 Lufia_DS

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.

The Lufia games are a little know RPG series that began in the SNES era. The first game was a mediocre RPG with a potentially good story, but the second was a little known masterpiece. I myself consider it among the top five of SNES RPGs. Yet, after that game, the series went silent for nearly 15 years, and no one probably expected a revival.

Which is why this DS remake of the second Lufia was such a surprise. It was not made because of any fan demand, but because those who worked on the original game wanted to make it.

This is a faithful remake of the original in both story in tone, but it updates something, and changes the gameplay dramatically into an ARPG. It results in a very good game, the unfortunately bombed, reminding us that even if you do everything right, you are not guaranteed to succeed.

"I'd fight my way out of hell to get back to you"

Unlike the original game, the story in Curse of the Sinistrals start right from the start. Gades, the Sinistral of destruction shows his face from the beginning this time. Maxim, being the hero he is, takes it upon himself to defeat Gades, and so he tries to gather around a group to help him.

The Sinistrals are god-like beings, who are upset at how humanity are developing beyond the need of gods, and as such, want to force it to bow down to them. Its really just a different way of ancient evil threatening the world, but it is more interesting because the Sinistrals are characterized well, even if only within one dimension.

However, it is not the Sinistrals that are the most interesting about the story, but the characterization of the world and main players that are driven to oppose them. Maxim, Selan, Tia, and the others are well defined characters that go beyond JRPG tropes.

In many ways, the characterization is more developed than the original. Yet, strangely so, the relationship between Maxim and Selan was more natural before, even if it is still presented well here. All and all, the characters are all interesting ,and both individually, and together, they make this a better tale. One that while depends on a lot of tried and true JRPG tropes, is still interesting enough to even veterans of the genre.

Basic Story: -2
Very Good Characters: +4
Good World Design: +2

"I will destroy your dismal little civilization, and remake it into something more to my liking"

Unlike the original Lufia II, the remake is an Action RPG. It is also a smaller game in scope. You pick destinations among a list, and then enter them without having to travel an overworld. Compared to the original game, there are much less places to visit. This is partially explained because the game-world is made for Action gampelay this time.

Each of the six characters can be controlled, and there is a unique fighting style for each characters (one character can use all styles). Maxim can combo quickly, and his special technique is excellent in fighting multiple characters, while Tia is more about keeping her range, and dealing heavy damage from afar. This variety in gampelay keeps it interesting, even if we soon realize there is little reason to become proficient in the system.

While the Action gampelay is solid, the fact that there is very little challenge unfortunately means we rarely need to use it to its fullest potential. Indeed, unless you deliberately never upgrade your equipment, you will never be in danger of losing once you get the hang of the combat system.

The only cases where I felt threatened was during the admittedly interesting boss battles. Yet, even those battles were far and few between, and some are repeated several times.

Still, this doesn't mean the game is not fun even if you are going into auto-pilot. There is some joy in trying to chain a huge combo together, especially because the better you play, the more experience and gold you receive, and it is always a pleasure to see more gold and experience burst out of a dead enemy as you pummel it beyond death.

One way to force challenge into the gameplay is through opting out of the GRID system. The GRID is where you equip statues boosting gems that you earn through combat to your characters, both increasing their stats and giving them extra benefits. Unlike purposely underequiping yourself, under utilizing the GRID system doesn't severely handicap you.

However, something worth noting is the frequent frame drops when there are many enemies on screen, especially as you attempt more complex combos. While it never goes beyond an occasional noticeable dip in performance, it is nonetheless annoying to see.

Good Action Gameplay: +3
Limited Challenge: -4
Varied Gameplay Between Characters: +3
Rewards for Excellence: +2
Some Frame Dips: -2

"You must bow for us and wish for mercy"

Other than combat, dungeons are home to many puzzles that impede your progress. The original Lufia II didn't have many puzzles, but the few puzzles it had apparently inspired the developers to make more this time around.

These puzzles are not particularly interesting, nor are they ever obtuse of boring. Running the gamut of basic puzzles, from moving blocks to manipulating light beams, Curse of the Sinistrals involve you in dungeons in more than battles. In fact, roughly half the time spent in dungeons is in solving these puzzles, and that's not a bad thing.

Generally, an action RPG with little challenge (it is surprising how many easy ARPGs there are) grows to become a mindless hack 'n slash. However, by virtue of breaking up the action sequences with puzzles, this game manages to keep both puzzles and battles interesting despite the easy nature of both.

Yet, for some reason, the game saw fit to reuse a lot of the dungoens several time. True, we are usually exploring different levels of the same dungeon, but usually the puzzle style of each dungeon is the same.

This contributes to the decrease in scale in comparison to the original. There are fewer dungeons, fewer cities, and fewer things to do. Still, we cannot complain much when what is there to be done is fun enough that we rarely notice the lack in scale until we look closer and discover the same backgrounds.

Puzzles are Fun: +3
Doesn't Stagnate: +2


"Chaos! Beautiful, beautiful chaos"

It must be said that Curse of the Sinistrals truly tried to push the DS for all its worth. The graphics were in full 3D, with some seriously epic boss designs. The music of Lufia II was updated to an excellent resolution. And there is even some Voice Acting, which was a bad idea.

Thankfully, we don't have to suffer the VA much, as the characters only speak in some of the important plot points, and not all the time. For some reason, they actually do not speak where a plot point will usually demand VA, but in random times. Since I didn't enjoy the acting of most characters (other than the Sinistral), that was actually a good point.

As for the graphics, pushing the DS to its limit doesn't mean the graphics are actually pretty. In fact, it just shows us that trying to circumvent the DS's limitations with smart art direction is a smarter approach of trying to brute force more polygons into the models.

While not bad in any way, the environment is usually drab and lacks resolution up front, but looks okay from the distance. One things that is consistently good are the character models, which are nice enough in 3d, but excellent in their portrait form. Each character is uniquely designed, and all of them have excellent portraits with many expressions. The tearing up expression of many characters, especially the President of Parcelyte, are priceless.

Finally, the music is actually pretty great. The original Lufia had some good tunes, but suffered from a lower quality ceiling compared to other games on the SNES. Curse of the Sinistrals updates the best tunes of the original, and adds some of its own. The One Who Will Save the Earth is one of the best on the DS, and its a remix of a 15 year old song.

Ugly Polygonal Graphics: -3
Very Good Portraits: +2
Very Good Music: +4

In Conclusion:

Curse of the Sinistrals is the rare remake that neither ruins nor supersedes a game. In fact, both this remake and the original can be enjoyed for different reasons. Fans of 16 bit RPGs will still want to play the original, but they will enjoy this game as well.

In the end, this is a fine remake of a fine game. Even though it financially bombed, and now that the series is most probably dead, it went out with a very good game.

Final: 39/50

"Tips"
1- Don't buy the full load of potions, because you are probably going to find some in each dungeon.
2- Older weapons and armor are practically useless.
3- Make sure the last checkpoint is close enough if you ever use the reset function.
4- The endless dungeon is only endless if you play New Game+.
5- If a character is weak against magic, they will be decimated against bosses, only use them to hit hard then switch them out.

"Next Game"

Lufia II was a surprise hit for me during my SNES reviews series, and it narrowly missed the top 10. Because of that, I am happy that its remake turned out to be a good game. Too bad about the series being a financial failure though.

The next game might as well be a financial failure, because Nintendo apparently treats it as such. The Advance Wars series is not as loved by Nintendo as the Fire Emblem series, and the next game I am playing is Advance Wars: Dual Strike, the first AW game on the DS.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:09 pm

#10

Game: Advance Wars: Dual Strike.
Year: 2005.
Genre: Tactical Strategy.
Publisher: Nintend0.
Developer: Intelligent Systems.

The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread - Page 2 Advance_Wars_DS_cover_art

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.

The Advance Wars series is the second strategy focused series made by the fine folks at Intelligent Systems, who are more famous for making the Fire Emblem games. Unlike Fire Emblem, Advance Wars actually focuses more on strategy and has little RPG elements. Also, it takes place in an "Advanced" age, with tanks and air crafts ruling the battlefield.

By all accounts, this is one of the most overlooked Nintendo franchises, especially since it is so critically lauded. And possibly reflects that more than Dual Strike on the DS, which despite being one of the best games you could own on the system, never managed to sell more than half a million copies.

"Determined to free their homeland, they launched a counter strike"

In regards to its plot, Dual Strike doesn't pretend to deliver anything more than a constant narrative push for more battles, and that's only in the main campaign. The Black Hole army have risen again, and they are planning to invade Omega Land. Yet, their purpose is probably not only to conquer it, but also to suck all energy out of it as they turn it into arid deserts.

Standing against them are the allied forces, lead by the unlikely duo of Jake and Rachel (sister of Nell from another AW game). Along with those two, you are supported by a colorful cast of characters, 4 of which you battle in a training match to convince them of your leadership (because of course you must do that).

Both in dialogue and exposition, the game takes a minimal approach, only using them when you pick a stage on the game's map, and at the beginning of battles. It doesn't mean that dialogue is not fun, or that the plot is boring, its just adequate window dressing for the actual gameplay.

Thankfully, its actually good window dressing, as the characters in-game are interesting in their one dimensional styles, including the bad guys. This is just a bunch of fan cartoon characters that are tell you everything you need from their unique design.

One thing I didn't like is that the bad guys have a noticeably small cast. It should have been at least double the size, as it gets boring fighting the same peons again and again.

Basic Story: -3
Good Colorful Characters: +4
Limited Enemy Characters: -2

"Conserving energy for current task. Splitting you like an atom"

I came in to Dual Strike expecting a campaign of roughly 20+ hours, with perhaps varying difficulties to go through. I sure did not expect the deluge of content that game has to offer. Especially considering the variety of what's on offer.

Simply put, you can play this game for a year and you probably won't finish everything there is in it. Other than the campaign, there is probably a hundred battle maps, each which can be played in various difficulties.

Other than the traditional battles, there is also survival mode, where you go through back to back battles with significant constraints attached. Then there is Combat mode, which is a real-time game, that is more like a DS specific mini-game rather than a full fledged option.

Finally, there is actually multiplayer, and while it could be difficult finding friends to play against (the Wi-Fi service is dead now), playing a Fog of War map against a human opponent is the best multiplayer strategy experience I ever had.

What makes this avalanche of content work however is not its quantity, nor is it really its quality. Just that there is great variety built into the game from the start. Each character (known as CO) has their own strengths and weaknesses that can dramatically change the you approach a level, and each level has its own advantages and disadvantages that you need to think through.

This creates an internal challenge dynamic, where you try and beat your own score by employing an even more advanced strategy. Playing a level with Jake is different than using Javier. Of course, you can use more than one CO at a time (up to four in some levels).

Ton of Content: +5
A Lot of Variety: +5

"Running around without a plan is like painting a fat bright target on your chest"

Supporting the sizable content of the game is an excellent underlying tactical strategy game.

The game is played with three types of units, land, naval, and air based units. Each type has several unit choices, further divided into ranged, direct, and support. While some maps have additional objectives, the main gist of the game is to destroy your opponents units. How you approach that is widely different depending on the map and your COs of choice.

Not all maps support naval combat for instance, and some have weather conditions that sometimes significantly affects gameplay. Rain, snow, and desert storms for example affect movement, range, and fuel usage. However, Fog of War drastically changes how you approach the game. With it enabled, you will need to employ scouts to uncover enemy locations, and generally play differently that you usually would.

Other than that, there are maps that utilize an army in both screens (meaning a CO would fight in each screen). Maps that have more than two armies fighting in the same screen, and others that simply use different rules.

Each CO has a special ability that fills up as you fight. These abilities significantly changes the battle. For instance, one ability actually summons rain and fog of war for a turn, while another raises the range of all ranged units. When playing with two COs, you can fill up two special bars and use a Dual Strike, which allows you to play TWO turns in a row.

Generally, the campaign has more elaborate set-ups than the battle maps outside of it, with it forcing you to use every trick in the book. By the end of the campaign, I used every unit type, and had to adjust my tactics more than once, and that's on the normal difficulty.

After finishing the game, you might want to tackle it on harder difficulties again, or simply to play around in the war room. As you use your COs, they rank up, giving them access to skills that ups their stats. Some difficulty levels do not allow you to used those skills though.

To win the most battles, especially in higher difficulties, its not enough to spam units against the computer and brute force your way through them. It requires actual thought behind it, as you identify key locations and quickly move to secure them.

Each battle can be won in several ways, depending on the COs you use. However, I would say that all battles are either won or lost in the first 10 days (turns). Unfortunately, even in some of those battles that you will surely win, the match can drag on for a while. This doesn't happen in the campaign, and theoretically you could avoid that with a better plan and some luck. Yet, it happens often in the War Room that makes some maps nearly excruciatingly boring on higher difficulties.

I cannot say that I even enjoy fighting against Sensei.

Excellent Strategic System: +5
Challenge and Accessibility: +5
Some Battles Can Seriously Drag: -2

"Out guns will sound a requiem for the allied troops"

Clearly, Dual Strike is a great fit to the DS. As a tactical strategy game, it benefits greatly from the dual screens and touch input, meaning that relevant information and unit placement are easily shown on both screens. Its clean, and because of the colorful sprites the series is known for, its really pretty.

Units are shown by appropriate sprites that tell you at a glance what each unit is. When units face off in battle, the top screen shows an animated battle between the two, highlighting the unique cartoonish design of the sprites. That quick cut scene can be disabled to speed up gameplay, but it doesn't actually take any time.

Continuing with the game's overall style, each CO's art is clear and distinct. Additionally, you can change the color pallet for each office if you so choose. Unfortunately, while the COs portraits and overall design is great, they are a little bit low resolution. Also, they do not have much facial expressions, which is not that big of a problem considering the limited dialogue of the game

Musically, the game's soundtrack is pretty solid if not brilliant. Nearly each CO has a unique track, which means that you control the soundtrack of each stage by whomever officer you use. Some tracks are better than others, but I don't think I hated any.

Unfortunately, due to the limited number of enemy COs in the campaign, it means the enemy phase tracks repeat for a lot of stages. Its a minor blemish, since enemy turns are quite fast, but it could have been better by giving the enemy COs more varied themes.

Colorful Stylistic Graphics: +4
Cool Design: +2
Good Music: +2
Some limitations in Graphics and Music: -2

In Conclusion:

When it was unveiled, the DS was clearly seen to be the potential home of meaty portable tactical strategy games. Dual Strike perfectly showcases that potential by having one of the best games of that genre. Not only on the DS, but in general.

The Advance Wars series might not have had many fans, but those who bought into this game were surely rewarded. Because, for a long time, they were able to enjoy a game that continued to give well past the excellent campaign.

Final: 48/50

"Tips"
1- Take a careful look over the map before commiting your CO choices.
2- When possible, always save for a tag team CO power, because acting twice in a row can drastically change the battle conditions.
3- If you are having trouble in the campaign, you can use the COs you want to use in the War Room and rank them up for skills.
4- When you unlock skills, don't forget to actually equip them.
5- In some maps, going fast and capturing that airport or factory can be the difference between loss and victory.

"Next Game"

Officially, I am now asking for Nintendo to make another Advance Wars game. Dual Strike is without a doubt one of the best games on the DS, and I had a blast playing it. Wish I bought it back then so I would play multiplayer with more people.

Next game to be reviewed is a little known SRPG on the DS, Luminous Arc. Which apparently was successful enough to launch two sequels on the same console.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:52 pm

#11

Game: Luminous Arc.
Year: 2007.
Genre: Tactical RPG.
Publisher: Atlus/ Marvelous Interactive Inc.
Developer: imageepoch.

The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread - Page 2 250px-Luminous_Arc_Coverart

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.

When it starts, Luminous Arc appears like a basic, even pretty good, Tactical RPG with a cliched story. For a while, it continues being that. However, as it progresses, and as cliche is built atop cliche, both the plot and the characters start getting on your nerve.

Finally, the terrible plot, characters, and overall presentation of the story is what makes playing this game difficult. While the battle system is pretty good, its not good enough to hide such a truly awful and predictable plot.

"The peace that has been protected by Luminous is ending"

At first, the game's plot appears to be inoffensively trite. The classic case of the big bad evil church "condemning" the actual good guys. With a collection of cliched character tropes, the effeminate little brother, the horny friend, the ditzy mage, the good guy protagonist, you expect there to be little intelligence in play.

However, the game's plot then goes into the ridiculously stupid territory, as it adds more cliched characters, gets worse in its dialogue and VA, and offers you the most blatantly evil church to ever exist.

You must seriously doubt the intelligence of every person in the game's world, because the church's officials are so cartoonishly evil, you could imagine them running around sporting long mustaches and putting ladies in trains.

What makes it worse though, is that the good guys are even more one-dimensional than the evil guys. A simple collection of tropes, none of these characters you haven't seen in other games and anime. Yet, this game even finds away to reducing a trope to its most basic and simple form.

First, I didn't think the VA was bad, and I actually still don't think its the VAs fault even as it continued to grind on my ears. This is clearly due to an obviously amateurish dialogue. Not only is it written in such way as to convey information in more words than needed, it is also rife with grammatical errors and inconsistencies. The game introduces a lot of terms, and yet it does not offer a correct way of using those terms culminating in terrible dialogue whenever such a term is mentioned. Which is about 50% of the time.

Normally, for me, a game can get away from having a truly terrible plot. However, Luminous Arc's story forces itself on you, and is represented in such a way that it is supposed to be a driving reason behind playing the game.

Before each battle and after it, some lengthy scenes play out, supposedly to reward me with story exposition. All it does is make me apprehensive at starting the next scenario because the story is becoming more offensively stupid as it progresses.

Terrible Story: -5
Terrible Characters: -5
Bad Dialogue: -4

"You've got balls kid, too bad I will turn them to ashes"

Before you start playing the game, do yourself a favor and only use button controls. While you would think that touch controls would work wonderfully for a Tactical RPG, the developers here made sure you will have a terrible time if you tried to here.

Into the actual gameplay, Luminous Arc is a pretty good Tactical RPG that doesn't try to do anything different. Literally everything here has been done in some other games, but it is done well and is fun enough.

Characters move in a square grid map, with various differences between them. Nearly every character you can use is different in one way. With many witches in your team, it is surprising how each one of them can be used in very different ways.

While never very difficult, the game progresses at a pace that if you opt to keep all your characters close in level, would be enough to pleasantly challenge you. This means that you will often lose characters in the middle of a battle, but you will rarely be in a serious danger of loosing.

The game is fast enough, with turns going back and forth between you and the computer. Except, sometimes the game has some noticeable frame-drops, which happened frequently enough for me to notice.

Solid Gameplay: +4
Noticeable Character Differences and Uses: +4
Some Frame Drops: -1

"Who's the girl with the bold fashion sense"

Apparently, the decision to have one dimensional flat characters originated from their design. Each character can easily convey all the depth of their "personality" visually through both their portraits and facial expression. In fact, if the game was presented in such way, it would have been better.

Characters have various facial expressions, the design follows standard anime design principle. Each character is differentiated with a color scheme almost always relating to their magical element, as well as an individual style.

The sprites for each character are also made with such detail, perfectly capturing the 2D portraits. Both fiends and enemies are well designed, and there is absolutely nothing I can complain about in the visual front aside from the aforementioned frame drops.

In the sound department, while I don't necessarily blame the Voice Actors themselves, I found it to be increasingly annoying. At first, I didn't complain, but as the game introduced some of the more outlandish characters it also introduced more and more terrible voice acting. Through both content and delivery, there were multiple cringe worthy moments.

As for the game's soundtrack, its adequate in most cases, but it is barely noticeable. More so than usual with this genre, the tracks disappear into the background.

Great Character Design: +4
Pretty Good Sprites: +3
Terrible Abundant VA: -3
Just There Music: -2

In Conclusion:

Rarely, a game's story can carry mediocre gameplay. Normally, its the gameplay that can carry a mediocre story. In this case, Luminous Arc's solid gameplay is not enough to counter what I see as an offensively boring and cliched story.

For some who are not at all familiar with anime cliches and JRPG tropes, this wouldn't be a problem, and I actually would suggest this game for kids just starting to get into more complex genres. However, for many of us cynical veterans of videogames, this is simply not worth wasting our time on.

Final: 20/50

"Tips"
1- Try to keep all your characters in the same level.
2- When leveling up, you go back to 0 exp, so save the kill for someone who just leveled up and not for someone who is close.
3- When the battle winds down, use that opportunity to help some characters level up.
4- Money is scarce, so its not always wise to buy everything.
5- In order for the seal-looking character to be of any use, you must fuse his weapon with stones that will raise his pitiful accuracy stat.

"Next Game"

I usually have higher tolerance now towards these cliched JRPG stories than I did in my late teen years. Now I actually play Tales games without cringing every second scene. However, Lumnious Arc's level of cheese was just too much for me.

Next, I am going back to the Advance Wars series, specifically to Advance Wars: Days of Ruin which is the last game in the series so far. Lets see the title apparently Nintendo wants to leave as the last in the franchise.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Awesome on Wed May 04, 2016 8:52 pm

I think Advance Wars was just abandoned in the same light as titles like Golden Sun. Golden Sun kills me cause Issac is at least somewhat popular. I'm bnasing all this on the Smash Ballot.

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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri May 06, 2016 9:25 am

@Lord Awesome wrote:I think Advance Wars was just abandoned in the same light as titles like Golden Sun. Golden Sun kills me cause Issac is at least somewhat popular. I'm bnasing all this on the Smash Ballot.


With Golden Sun, you can argue that the series basically concluded with the DS game.

However, we can't say the same for Advance Wars which is not continuous in its plot.
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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:55 am

#12

Game: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin.
Year: 2008.
Genre: Tactical Strategy.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Intelligent Systems.

The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread - Page 2 Advance_Wars_4_Cover

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.

For three consecutive games, the Advance Wars continued with the same style, much of the same characters, a limited story, and focused on developing the base game play without shaking things too far. This culminated with the excellent release of Dual Strike, which is one of the best games on the DS.

With Days of Ruin, Intelligent Systems wanted to change things as much as possible. Introducing a renewed focus on story, and a different style, they could have made an even better Advance Wars game than Dual Strike.

However, for that step forward, they took two steps back through the unnecessary changes to the gameplay, which in my opinion makes this an ultimately less fun game than its predecessor.

"We stopped being soldiers when the meteors hit"

The biggest and most apparent change to the Advance Wars formula is how story is now actually given some attention. While the plot of the past games was simply a background for some cool characters to interact with each other and give the player some battles to fight, Days of Ruin actually attempts to tell a story. It does a pretty good job at it.

If anyone wants to see Nintendo take a stab at the post-apocalyptic theme, then Days of Ruin would be their game. Even before the meteors hit the earth and reduced mankind to a fraction of what they were, humanity was in a constant case of war.

With the apocalypse, war became the default mean of survival, especially with a sinister disease being spread around.

While the plot is somewhat basic, its told well, and it remains interesting throughout, even if its almost always predictable. At least you cannot say the game cheats you with its "surprise" reveals. Unfortunately, the cast of characters is not as memorable as in past AW games, but that is to bee expected with this more serious story.

Focusing on Will, a previous cadet who now idolizes the heroic Commander Brenner who save him, the game makes a small mistake. Will isn't an interesting character, and the game would have been much more interesting with Lt. Lin being at center stage.

Still, Lin does have her moments, and Will is ok as far as over eager JRPG heroes go.

Good Story: +3
Good Dialogue: +2
Interesting Setting: +2
Boring Characters: -2

"]Will you let your gun take the place of your honor"

At its most basic, Dual Strike still offers the same solid tactical strategy gameplay the series is known far. In each turn, you can control the various units at your disposal to destroy the enemy. In most maps, you can utilize factories to build more units while capturing cities to secure funds. Usually you can see the entire map, but some levels shake things up by introducing the fog of war, which significantly changes the way you approach a level.

Dual Strike does little to change the basics other than change the balancing a little bit and add some extra units. Some of these units are very good additions, like an artillery unit that can defend itself and a fast infantry unit that makes capturing cities easier. Other new units are cool, but have limited use like the Flare unit.

Some changes to the balancing are negative, especially the increased strength of the rocket launcher unit to compensate for its low maneuverability. It makes it a powerful defense weapon, which greatly benefits the computer who rarely ever need to actually attack you.

Outside of the main campaign, there isn't the wealth of content available in the last AW game. While there are training maps to be enjoyed, they do not come close to the variety and number of the past titles.

However, that is not a problem, because even if the maps were there, I don't think I would play Days of Ruin much past its campaign. Simply because going back and playing Dual Strike again is simply more fun.

Same Solid Base: +3
A Good Campaign: +2
Some Good Additions: +1

"The reality is there is nothing out there but corpses and cockroaches"

While Days of Ruin doesn't change the basic gameplay format much, it changed something major in how the game played. Basically, it killed all influence of CO powers.

For those unfamiliar with the term, CO powers is basically the special power available to the commanding officer leading the battle, and associated bonuses as well. In past AW games, this ensured the CO will have a significant effect on how you approach a battle. Besides their passive abilities, which encourage you to use some specific strategies, they also have special powers that have drastic effects.

Using those powers ensured battle wouldn't drag on, as you can unleash them at a stage where you can totally obliterate the enemy in two turns, when otherwise a war of attrition (which you will eventually win) can drag to ten.

In Days of Ruin, CO powers were nearly thrown out of the window. In fact, it might have been better if they did. First, they no longer effect all your soldiers. No, you must first WASTE a turn to have your CO board a unit. Then, only units around the very narrow radius of that unit can benefit from those bonuses. To use the special move, that same unit that you would rather protect should kill of enemy units to fill the special gauge.

When that happens, you are treated to unremarkable special moves.

In fact, the entire system is useless for most characters you are nearly punished for using it. Apparently ,the game knows CO powers suck, which is why they introduce them only after the halfway point in the campaign.

Not having these CO powers make battle noticeably less fun that past AW games. Due to the way the game is played, you can virtually be in the course of winning a battle, with no chance of defeat, but will need to chip down at a losing AI for 20 more turns to finally win. In the past, CO powers helped deliver the Coup de grace to the enemy, bring you back from defeat, or even give them a fighting chance against your superior intellect.

Worse yet, this eliminates the wonderful variety CO powers helped create in past games. Playing with different COs meant a different play-style, but these Days of Ruin bastards might all be cardboard cutouts of the same character.

Useless COs: -5
Lack of Variety in Playing: -3

"Dust covered the earth, bloating all signs of the sun"

With a post apocalyptic setting, it is tough making your art stand out from the rest of the grey brown painted  games using the setting, and Days of Ruin doesn't necessarily try to do that. Instead, it commits to theme, and adapts AWs colorful style to fit the world. The cartoonish red tanks of past games are not similar looking, but with more realistic colors and extra details showing wear and tear. As for the environment, its looks like one deprived from the sun.

Its the CO drawings that seal the deal though, as the series abandons the stylish colorful portraits of the past. The drawings here are much more detailed, and they are showing characters wearing actual functional clothing instead of just a stylish wardrobe. It works really well for the setting of the game, especially as each characters has a lot of detail in their design.

Where the game really shines though is in its soundtrack, which I think is really the only thing better than past games. The tracks are more complex, more varied, and more special. However, unlike past games where you can choose a level's track through selecting the CO, all of Days of Ruin campaigns select the CO for you.

This can be a major annoyance, and it probably keeps me from praising the music as much as I want to. Since I am not interested in playing anything outside of the campaign, some of the best CO track I rarely had the chance to listen to.

Suitable Graphical Style: +2
Cool Sprites: +2
Very Good Music: +3


In Conclusion:

As I said above, Days of Ruin is one step forward for the series, but two step back. It delivers a good campaign, with an interesting story and interesting characters. However, the much marginalized CO powers makes it a less fun game.

While it ends up being a more balanced game in the process, Days of Ruin forgot what made the past games fun to begin with.

Still, this doesn't mean this is a bad game, or that's its ultimately very boring. It still is a good game, and a must play for fans of the series, even if I am just going back to playing Dual Strike after this.

Final: 35/50

"Tips"
1- Do not incorporate CO powers in your regular strategy, they are mostly luxury bonuses.
2- You can upgrade your units through destroying other units, protect upgraded units if you can.
3- While the bike units is great for capturing cities, it doesn't mean you should neglect infantry and mechs.
4- In this game, due to not having CO powers, bunching up and attacking from one front is usually better than dividing your forces.
5- Rockets can seriously kill your advance, make sure to take out enemy artillery before going forward.

"Next Game"

As a send off to the Advance Wars series, Days of Ruin doesn't do a goo enough job. We really should be getting another game in the series, one that hopefully has better CO powers.

Next game I am playing is a sequel to on of my favorite games, Okamiden is a natural follow-up to the excellent Okami game. Hopefully it doesn't cause me to scratch my new 3DS screen.

Stay Tuned
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Post by Lord Awesome on Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:42 pm

I've yet to play the original Okami but I will pretty soon after reading this. Heard the game was legendary.

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Post by Lord Spencer on Fri May 19, 2017 8:53 am

#13

Game: Okamiden.
Year: 2011.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Mobile & Game Studio Inc.

The Official DS and 3DS Gaming Thread - Page 2 Okamiden-cover

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.

When Okami was first released at the end of the PS2's life cycle, many were blindsided by such a late masterpiece. Maybe that is why it financially disappointed though. As a result, we were not sure a sequel would even be made.

As a result, it was surprising to hear Capcom were going to make Okamiden, more surprising was the decision to make it on the DS as well.

The result is simply another Okami, with all the heart of the original but at a smaller scale.

"I mean, is 9 months all it takes for humans to forget"

The story is set 9 months after the demon Orochi was defeated by the goddess Amaterasu (Ammie). In that time, the people of Nippon forgot the darkness and evil spread by that vile serpent, and as such, started forgetting the blessing of Amaterasu. This allowed evil another opportunity to thrive, and this is where you come in.

As the cute and adorable Chibiterasu (the son of Ammie), you are going to travel through some familiar places with his partners, looking for that opportunistic evil force in order to vanquish it.

If you noticed anything from that brief introduction, it should have been the words "travel" and "partners".

Like in Okami, there is actually a lot of smaller quests, all leading to a bigger quest, with a lot of long dialogue in between. A common complaint of these segment is to call them "fetch quests". However, that is a greatly misleading label.

Taking the major quest of Okamiden, it is simply a god figure defeating a great evil. There is nothing interesting or unique about that. However, it is more interesting dealing with the smaller stories of your partner characters, as well as the world being affected by this evil.

In this game, we thankfully are rid of the annoying Issun. Instead, Chibi is accompanied by different partners, each with their own personality and stories. These characters are what give the game most of its heart. The relationship they build with Chibi are both endearing, and realistically enduring. Since Chibi is a pup, and all of these partners are kids, we realistically see an innocent relationship develop.

Supporting those heartfelt connections is the weird humor that characterized the first Okami game. While not as pronounced or original as the first game, the writing is still funny, and the physical humor still managed to make me smile.

Great Characters: +4
A Lot of Heart and Humor: +4
Interesting Setting: +2

"He who troubles young maidens... will taste my blade"

As I mentioned above, the majority of the game involves going from place to place, fixing some problems to get the story going. With the power to use the Celestial Brush, the first Okami game linked fixing problems with the ability to manipulate nature, at least early on.

In Okamiden, all major problems are solved in one way: go into a dungeon and defeat a boss. The Celestial Brush techniques are not linked to actual game in any way other than special abilities, and that's somewhat a shame.

Yet, the main cycle of going into dungeons to defeat bosses cannot be particularly faulted, especially since its effective and on point. Also, there are in-between diversions between dungeons that it never becomes a routine formula.

For instance, one of the best segments in the game is when Chibi and one of his partners infiltrate a Demon's Market Place. That is then followed by the Pagoda dungeon, an excellent dungeon that uses a lot of Chibi's abilities to solve puzzles and advance forward.

In general, the game's dungeon's are well-built, and the story advances in ways that the basic formula is rarely apparent.

Since the game is on the DS, using the touchscreen becomes a natural way to use the Celestial Brush abilities, and it works exceptionally well.

Other than traveling Nippon in the main story line, there is an optional Village Building mini-quest. This quest really only involve talking to people and invite them into Yakushi village, but you see it thrive in front of your eyes.

Good Dungeons: +3
Yakushi Village: +2

"Forget about it. It is a swordsman's duty to help people"

Among things simplified from the original, the combat is surely the most affected. While the first game had a deeper combo system, as well as a greater incentive to use Celestial Brush techniques mid-combat, its much simpler here.

To account for both the simplified combat, and the camera limitations, enemies are now significantly easier. In many ways, they rarely attack, and when defeated, they will replenish most of your health at the spot. The best thing is the light puzzle elements in knowing which Celestial Brush technique opens up an enemy for attack, but that slowly becomes routine.

Sure, it can be fun bashing random imps into oblivion, but the lack of challenge or complexity means that combat is, in essence, simple busy work. In order for that busy work not to be too grating, your weapons must be upgraded. Which you can do by collecting lucky coins (found in treasure chests and through quests) and demon parts (which you harvest by killing enemies in certain ways). This means that there probably is a minimum number encounters you need to fight to at least upgrade your primary weapon.

One big disadvantage apparent in both exploration and combat is due to the DS hardware. Moving into 3D space with the D-Pad is not ideal, and it quite simply, sucks. Which is why I would strongly suggest using the 3DS if you can when playing this game.

Note though, that while regular battles are boring, boss battles are actually quite good. Since they are actually more puzzle fights (a la zelda) than actual button mashing combat, they are approached differently and are both fun and memorable.

Boring Combat: -3
Poor Movement Controls (DS only): -3
Good Boss Battles: +2

"Welcome demons, ogres, and imps to the 29th annual Big Evil Power championship"

Like many DS, and even 3DS games, looking at screenshots of the game doesn't do the game justice. At higher resolutions, the graphical limitations show more than when playing the actual system.

Just like Okami, the game's graphical style is heavily influenced with Japanese art, using cell-shaded  graphics to recreate a style similiar to ukiyo-e drawings, but also very different. From its theme of ink drawings, the world physically moves with visible ink strokes, and you see the hard ink lines in the edge of mountains.

Showcasing that unique art style is also a unique character design and animation. Chibi is a cute and adorable wolf pup, but it is how he moves and reacts that make him stand out. Similarly, all other partner characters and NPC have a memorable design to them, something similar to the way Zelda games design their characters.

However, it is apparent that the scope of the game may be too much on the DS's hardware, as the game's colors are less apparent. Sometimes, it feels like the game's graphics simply mesh together into a single unattractive image, and that the game's art would pop more if it was made on the 3DS for instance.

Musically, the game uses the same Japanese-inspired style of the original. It works really well with the art style of the game, as well as with its general tone. It can be comic when it needs to, exciting when the scene calls for it, and emotional when the story starts getting serious.

Usually, for great soundtracks, I like to mention a couple of tracks which were especially noteworthy. However, in Okamiden's case, the collective power of the soundtrack is its greatest strength, and there isn't any stand out songs.

Great Graphical Style and Design: +5
Washed Out Graphics: -3
Great Music: +4

In Conclusion:

Simply put, Okamiden is the same as Okami, with a strong heart, but at a smaller scale.

Would making Okamiden on the PS3 have worked? I don't think so, because if so, it could have lost the heart of Okami in trying to be a bigger game.

However, it could have been delayed and made for the 3DS, which would have ensured we have a portable masterpiece, just as the first game was a console masterpiece.

Still, Okamiden cannot be faulted for what it could have been. As it is, it is a very good game with a lot of heart, a unique style, and a very cute and adorable main pup for a main character.

Final: 42/50 (45 using a 3DS)

"Tips"
1- Some items in dungeons are miss-able, so make sure to search thoroughly before you finish a dungeon.
2- To get demon parts, you must use specific brush skills on enemies after you kill them, or to kill them.
3- Collect praise by doing side quests, as well as fixing nature, in order to level up.
4- Boss battles are more puzzles than brawls, if you don't figure them out, they will take a long time.

"Next Game"

I really like Okamiden, and it made me want to go back and play the HD remaster of the original game. Both are really good games, and I hope Capcom does something with the series.

Next game is the last Rockstar game to be released on a Nintendo console (I could be wrong here). Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars, is a return of the top down style of the original GTA games (which I greatly prefer). I think its going to be fun.

Stay Tuned
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