I wasn’t excited for E3 this year. Of the games I knew that were coming out, there wasn’t much that I absolutely needed to see more of, and my anticipation for the as-yet-unannounced was low. It turns out that I was right to skip the Microsoft and Sony press conference streams, as there was practically nothing of interest to me in the liveblogs that I read (well, there wasHalo 4, but I’m doing my best to avoid spoilers for it at the moment). The following day, I caved and watched Nintendo’s presser, but found it to be sorely lacking.
After several days’ worth of coverage, only one new game piqued my interest, and that was “Project P-100”, a crowd management action title, directed by Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya, that seems to have gotten barely any attention from the press at all. This game is similar to his earlier Viewtiful Joe in its Super Sentai aesthetic, and the basic concept of controlling a crowd that turns into weapons to beat giant villains is pretty awesome. The one thing about this game that came as a disappointment was that it is for WiiU, a system I don’t have any interest in getting. Other than that, and a welcome reminder that the 3DS Paper Mario exists and is on its way, there wasn’t anything for me.
In the meantime, I’ve been continuing on with my main personal goal for 2012: reducing my backlog as much as possible. April is the current record-holder month with seven games beaten, including one (Soul Nomad & the World Eaters) that took me nearly 45 hours, and the two Pinky:st DS titles that I reviewed in my previous post. Some highlights these past few months include the DS remake of Dragon Quest VI, massively moe and just plain charming doujin shop sim/dungeon crawler Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, bare-bones browser-based JRPG Parameters, fantastic expansion pack Tropico 4: Modern Times, and Pokemon White Version, which I’ve written about before and was top-notch all around.
There was also Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, played co-op with my Halo-detractor husband. We had a good time, playing the game with the new graphics and old soundtrack, though I have some quibbles regarding the former. The new maps are brightly lit compared to the original versions, which, along with the whole co-op thing, made the game’s scariest moment a bit less so. Also, some of the new character models were lacking, especially Sergeant Johnson and 343 Guilty Spark. More than anything, I’m now cautiously optimistic about Halo 4.
I also played a couple of platformers, namely The Legendary Starfy on DS and Ratchet & Clank for PS2. Starfy was a decent game with a lot of character, but it was also much wordier than I expected, with more cutscenes than is average for a platformer. Ratchet is not as good as its first-party brethren Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus and also has some irritating bugs. However, the weapon/gadget system at its heart is well thought-out, and the storytelling, which is similar in tone to Jak and Sly, is enjoyable enough.
There have been a smattering of others, including the two Izuna games, mystery dungeons with an emphasis on humor and fanservice, and, on the negative side, vague endings that lack so much as a credit roll or “The End” text before dumping the player into Postgame Territory. I also beat the puzzle game RUSH and attempted to play EDGE, but the bad controls and mediocre design of the latter led me to quit. Finally, over the weekend I played through Breath of Death VII, a parody RPG that resembles an early Dragon Quest and contains jokes and references that range from the silly to the sillier; despite some design quirks, it’s well worth a play if you love the genre.
That’s it for what I’ve beaten these past few months. As for what I’m actively playing right now, I’m approaching the end of “The Journey”, aka the main game in Persona 3 FES. This RPG has been unlike most others I’ve ever played, in a good way, and I hope to write about it at length later on. I’m also playing Dance Dance Revolution again (SuperNOVA 2, specifically); after a long ordeal, a couple of new, working pads arrived yesterday.
Once I wrap up “The Journey”, I plan to put Persona 3 FES aside for awhile before taking on the bonus episode “The Answer”. Right now, I’m considering starting de Blob 2 and/or Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 as my next game (or games). As usual, we’ll see.
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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I typically save episodes of Listen UP for when I need to kill time, and sometimes wind up with a backlog. This wasn’t the case this time around, as I only had last Friday’s episode to catch up on while doing laundry today. I was particularly intrigued by the bit about EA Sports Active, which is out this week. Wii Fit has not stuck with me at all, and I still slip from my regular DDR routine from time to time. This sounds like it’s worth a look.
Speaking of 1UP, I visited the site today and skimmed through their recent feature titled, “101 Free Games 2009”. The presence of the wacky fan-made RPG Barkley, Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden, which I played earlier this year, surprised me, but I’m not complaining. This unholy marriage of JRPG and NBA is short but sweet, and fairly competent for what it is. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Today’s announcement of Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii was another pleasant surprise. I haven’t played any of the Metroid Prime series—or any Metroid games, for that matter—and had always heard good things about them. This is getting a place on my “want” list. Which reminds me, I also have to get the New Play Control version of Pikmin…