I apologize for the lack of posts lately; it’s been a busy holiday season. Since I last wrote here, I’ve beaten Radiata Stories, read most of the holiday issue of Edge (purchased in large part because I wanted to see why they gave Bayonetta a 10[!!!]), did the Christmas thing (Ratchet & Clank was my sole game gift, but just everything else I got was great), played a lot of Planet Puzzle League, started playing the DS port of Chrono Trigger (which is excellent), played with pets, did the New Year’s thing, bought my first game of 2010 (Forza Motorsport 2, Platinum Hits version), came back home, ordered pizza, put stuff away, and now… here I am again. Oh, and I played the Torchlight demo this afternoon; good stuff, but I have a tendency to drop Diablo-style games after awhile, so I won’t be getting this one, at least not right now, even though Steam’s $5 sale price expires after today.
There’s a lot I want to write about, and plan on doing so throughout the month. For now, though, a backlog update. I usually do these things in the spring, but I figured that it would make more sense to move these posts to the beginning of the year, which is when I’m setting my gaming goals and starting the year’s Beaten Games Tab anyway. So, yes, I have a lot of games to play. Again. And I think Rogue Galaxy is now in its fourth or fifth year of having gone unplayed.
With that said, here’s my must-play games for 2010:
• Rogue Galaxy – For obvious reasons.
• Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story – The other DS RPG I brought with me to play over Christmas/New Year’s. Sadly, I haven’t gotten around to starting it yet.
• Chrono Cross – Sometime before March, or PAX East, at least.
• SMT: Nocturne and SMT: Persona 3 FES
• Tales of the Abyss
• Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer
• Halo – I’ve had this in my PC stack of shame for years. Figure it’s about time I pop it in and see what all the fuss is about.
Out of my twelve 2009 must-plays, I managed to beat eight of them, gave up on one due to annoyance (Billy Hatcher), and never touched the final three (the non-Digital Devil Saga MegaTen games). Not too shabby, methinks. And while I’m at it, here are all of the games I beat in 2009. If all goes well, the 2010 Beaten Games Tab will be posted on my LJ account tomorrow.
More later, including my annual Roundup. Stay tuned…
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There hasn’t been all that much going on with me lately, gaming-wise. Since my last post, I beat Etrian Odyssey and began delving into the postgame stratum, a set of floors with some especially tough monsters. As they approached or hit the level cap of 70, I knocked each member of my main party (a Landsknecht, a Dark Hunter, a Medic, a Survivalist, and a Troubadour) back ten levels for the privilege of being able to reassign their skill points. Then, I decided to retire them and start over with their apprentices back at level 1, taking advantage of certain stat benefits. With this new party, I’ve plowed through some of the optional quests I never took on, including what has to be the single most tedious one in the game. They’re now in their 40s, level-wise, but it will still be awhile before I can enter that postgame stratum again without worrying about being annihilated. As one can imagine, this grinding has become rather tedious, and thus, it’s since replaced Planet Puzzle League as my mainstay “laundry day game”.
Best. Podcast. Ever.
I’ve also taken to listening to the game’s sound on laundry days as well, which I never did with PPL. When playing the latter, my headphones would instead be hooked up to a crusty old iPod Mini loaded with episodes of Listen UP. I listened to their last-ever show in two sessions (three hours makes for a long podcast), the second being on Monday, as I folded my laundry (as opposed to washing and folding). I can’t recall exactly when I first started listening to 1UP Yours—sometime last spring, I think—but I loved both it and its successor, Four Guys One Up Listen UP, and downloaded the latest episode every week. Now there’s no more Whacha’ Been Playin?, John’s iPhone Game of the Week, Four Minute Warning, “weekend confirmed”, or “we are ghost”, but despite the team’s separation (with Garnett now at Shacknews, John gone to GamePro, and David still at 1UP), new, separate podcasts are being promised (and maybe with at least a couple of those old elements intact, as hinted at in the last episode?). Looking forward to whatever you guys come up with, and thanks for all the great shows. Also, congrats to Garnett for finally starting Yakuza 2!
What else has been going on lately? Well, I’ve been trying to stick to a daily routine in Wii Fit Plus. The “My Wii Fit Plus” feature is a fantastic addition to the regular Wii Fit formula, and there are a handful of other tweaks and additions that I like as well, most particularly the routines. One thing that’s particularly annoying, though, is the lack of drag-and-drop flexibility in the Custom Routine feature (I think this problem might also plague the pre-set routines, or rather, the part in which you can string many of said routines together, but I haven’t fiddled around with that enough to know if that is the case). If I want to add a new exercise to my routine, I can’t simply place it wherever I want. Instead, it automatically gets tacked on to the end. Therefore, if I want my exercises in a different order, I have to delete them and reset the whole routine. If there’s something I’m overlooking and drag-and-drop can be done, please let me know. Anyway, despite that and other nitpicky flaws, it’s still a great upgrade from Wii Fit, especially for $20.
There’s also been Tales of Legendia, which I beat back in September. I’ve finally went back to it this past weekend to start the Character Quests in earnest. I’m only a few hours into them, and so far, they’re very cutscene heavy, but all right. Even though much is familiar, the monsters are now tougher, several features that weren’t available to me in the main game are now, and there’s a certain change in my party’s makeup (which might be kind of spoilery, so this is all I’ll say about it). Though I’m enjoying them, I hope that these quests don’t take too long to get through; my backlog is still fairly big, and I need to whittle it down before getting certain games I’ve been holding off on buying. It’s the classic hardcore gamer’s dilemma: too many good games and not enough time to play them.
Just a quick roundup of links which you may or may not find interesting.
– I’d been hooked on Etrian Odyssey, but a certain plot development made me stop dead in my tracks. To say that I had a strong emotional reaction to this scene is an understatement. I finally picked up the game again this past weekend, and can kind of see where things are going. Please note that the post linked above contains spoilers.
– Also from that LJ post: Cloud Strife unisex perfume (aka, “Square Enix Products is even crazier than anyone thought”) and the news of Garnett Lee’s departure from 1UP. In addition to his regular journalistic duties, Garnett is (was?) the host of Listen UP, formerly 1UP Yours, one of video gaming’s most beloved podcasts. We’ll see what happens from here…
– Speaking of 1UP, I stumbled upon one of their newer blogs recently, which is devoted to translations of P.S. Triple, a Japanese four-panel comic which features game consoles as idol singers. It’s sort of like a cross between OS-tans and Castle Vidcons. For the best experience, start from the intro post on the last page and work your way up.
– Finally, Wii Fit Plus is now available! Just picked up my copy this morning, but have yet to set up the Balance Board and try it out. Metacritic only has two scores up at the moment; the IGN review is long-winded, as they tend to be, but the GameDaily one is a bit more concise and covers the major new features quite well.
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Feeling too tired to delve deeper into the story-heavy Tales of Legendia, and knowing that Etrian Odyssey was much lighter in that respect, I finally got around to starting the latter this afternoon. I had bought a copy listed as “New” from an Amazon Marketplace seller several months ago. The shrinkwrapping was surprisingly poor for Atlus, the case had some minor imperfections, and though the manual was present and in perfect shape, the usual DS Health and Safety Guide was missing. That said, I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised to find a save file on the cart once I fired it up. I had never left feedback for the seller, and it’s way too late to do so now, but I did file a complaint regarding the wrongly-labeled condition of the item.
Anyway, the game. I’d been intimidated by Etrian Odyssey, which is my main reason for putting off playing it for so long. Not because of its storied difficulty, but because of the map-drawing mechanic. Somehow, I had gotten the impression that the mapping tools enabled players to design the dungeons, including item, event, and enemy placements. I don’t know why I thought this, as it makes no sense, but there you go. It turns out that the mapping tools are not there for design, but actual cartography. Unlike other dungeon crawlers, which automatically draw the maps for you as you explore them, Etrian Odyssey makes you do the hard work. Maps have to be painted in, walls drawn to denote borders, treasure locations noted, and so on.
All this takes place in the land of Etria, where there’s just a town, and a labyrinth of a forest. Officials in the town are rewarding adventuring guilds for exploring the labyrinth, and the player is in charge of such a guild. The town contains all the necessities: an equipment store, a guildhall to create and manage party members, a hotel to rest and save at, an apothecary for healing purposes, and so on, and then there’s the untamed wilderness of the labyrinth, filled with random battles against monsters and things to do and see.
Navigating in the towns is done entirely through menus, while travel in the dungeon takes place in a 3D first-person point of view on the top screen, and on the map grid on the bottom one. Battles are carried out in the classic Dragon Quest style: your entire party’s commands are entered in before each turn, and still images of the enemies are shown on-screen with accompanying battle effects. The difficulty of said battles lives up to the game’s reputation, and I expect it will only get harder from here. Also throughout the dungeon are treasures, odd crystals which I don’t quite know the purpose of yet, and little events that are activated either automatically, or when the A button is pressed after a prompt.
So far, I’ve completed just one mission, and found an odd loophole in the midst of it. The beginners’ mission requires talking to a knight stationed within the first floor of the labyrinth; he asks you to map out a certain area before letting you pass, in order to complete the first task of mapping said floor. However, after I’d satisfied the knight, I did some backtracking to find areas I’d been to before, but died in the middle of (the only save point that I know of so far is in town; fortunately, newly mapped areas can be saved when the Game Over screen is reached). In the middle of this backtracking, I found a place I hadn’t mapped that appeared to be within the boundaries that the knight had originally specified. I don’t know if this was an oversight, a bug, or if I really didn’t have to map the whole area, just most of it. Doubt it’s the latter, though, and a quick look at a GameFAQs doc verified that the knight wanted the whole space within the set boundaries mapped. It should be interesting to see if there are any other such quirks as the game goes on. So far, it’s got the simple atmosphere I was hoping for, and holds my interest enough to me to stick with it. Not sure if it’s “engrossing” yet, but I can certainly see it becoming so.
Special Stage: Totally unrelated, but I rambled on a bit about the Compilation of FFVII and related matters in my LJ early this morning. I hope at least some of it makes sense.