Archive for the Clean up needed Category

Persona 3 Portable

Posted in Clean up needed, Games, RPG with tags , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by link6616

I finally finished P3P! I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit, but thought I’d put off writing anything about it until I finished it, for now, here’s write up which is in need of a clean up, but should be presentable enough.

If you are reading this blog, you are probably familiar with P3 and its 2 spin offs FES and Portable, both of which are better than the original in different ways, but build off the original game in different ways.

FES is an expansion on the original adding an extra chapter to the main story at the end called “The Answer” which supposedly stars Aigis and features an interesting, grindtastic story that feels like a fan fiction, a good fan fiction, but fan fiction. I’ve never played FES or just P3, but I have it on good authority that one of the more interesting things about The Answer game play wise was that it really pushed the rules of the game, as Persona 3’s knock down system was abuseable, but also forced you to wrestle with AI, which was very predictable and thus the battles were puzzles which the goal was to make your party AI get into the right flow. This can either be interesting or insanely annoying depending on how you felt about the AI in the first place.

P3P takes a very different approach, and ditches the added “Answer” but keeps much of the extra content it added for the main game. However P3P changes up a bit aswell. Aside from adding the Female main character, which gives the already deep and well written P3 cast more depth it also changed the battle system quite drastically. It basically drags P4s battle system and places it into P3. To those who haven’t played p3 like myself, this feels pretty natural. However it does change the dynamic of the game a little, shifting from setting up the situation you want to just doing what you want (p3p allows manual control of party members). This coupled with the change to the stamina system which in p3 was designed to prevent you from grinding too long in the Tartarus basically doesn’t exist in p3p. You can become tired by having a character die and be brought back to ground floor dead, or by going to the tartarus every night many nights in a row.

That change prompted yet another change to P3 which is times, in p3 you had your afternoons, evenings, and late nights free to do things, this allowed extra study among other things, however, given that in a single Tartarus trip you can get through a lot more of the tower your Late Night time period is simply removed from the game. This can make getting Academics harder to get to max than it was in previous P3 games, however, as a plus, the fact you don’t need to worry about stamina as much makes the game far more accessible.
The change to a portable, also creates one extra change to the gameplay, the over world is gone and the game outside of tartarus is simply moving a cursor over people and things to interact with them, rather than exploring 3d environments, this drastically improves pacing for these times, but does reduce atmosphere, and the game feel more like a visual novel during these moments (which can be a good or bad thing depending on who you are.

In persona 3, your character has the ability to fuse and use multiple personas, making him the jack of all trades, switching and fusing persona is requirement to playing the game outside of self set challenges. Fusing Personas together creates new persona, however, even though you can often see you could make a new persona which are much higher levels than you, only those with a base level lower or equal to yours can be created. However, there is a way to get around this, and it’s through the system that makes persona 3 and 4 some of the more unique RPGs in a long time; Social Links.

Social Links are a really clever and neat system for many reasons. These links are on a purely mechanical level, just give a persona of the same arcana as the link an XP boost which might cause them to level up multiple times right after making it. However, the social links also help create interest in the world around you. They provide both substantial mechanical advantage, and also the the main tool the game gives you to spend time with the well written and interesting NPCs, which in most games would go totally ignored. A social link is made up of 10 ranks, covers a significant issue for the character, and often results in being best friends or a relationship. While the structure is simple, and quickly becomes apparent, these characters stories not only serve as a great foil for the fantastic adventure you are on, but they are genuinely believable characters (mostly), with slightly exaggerated but still quite real issues.

The desirability of these social links create a tension though, in order to get many of the links you’ll need to have high courage, academics or charm, which require a lot time invested either in the evening when you could be training in the tartarus or the afternoon where you could be developing social links. This creates, in theory, a bunch of interesting choices for how players choose the manage their time between all these activities. However, it is possible to max out all the social links and stats in the game, but you’d need a guide to do that.

Persona 3 really relies on the fact you are shifting between all sorts of different things though, as the school days and social links can get tiresome when done for hours, as can climbing the tartarus. However, when you’ve got the flow going, and the ease to switch between all these interesting but tiresome activities, you have a game that is able to change it’s tune when you need it too, and that, is possibly one of the strongest things about it…

You’ll notice at this point I’ve covered very little of the plot, and that’s mainly because anything in the plot worth saying is either really obvious, makes little sense out of context, or will ruin the surprise. The plot is however well told, with the core cast being an interesting diverse group of people who’ll you enjoy being around even if you don’t like them all. They all raise a lot of questions about life, and social interaction, and while it does get a little melodramatic at times, the characters remain believable as possible given the rather bizarre life thus to onto them. If you’d like to have a good write up on the plot, http://gamecareerguide.com/features/908/game_narrative_review_persona_.php

is a good one.

I’ll probably clean this up later… but I think it’s good enough to post for now. Suggestions welcome in comments, as well as questions on what I haven’t addressed well enough.

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Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of light, first impressions

Posted in Clean up needed, Games, RPG with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by link6616

I’ve been getting sick of RPGs recently… Sure I put in my required hours into demon’s souls and FFXIII among other things, but overall I’ve really not been enjoying them…

Then 4 Heroes comes out… and on a whim, I go why not, I need a new DS game and I didn’t want DQIX (although I might try it now). Expecting to be burned out after a while and then lend to my much more RPG loving X partner.  I’d heard that the new action point and item systems basically make the game a little bit more what I like about riveria. I was worried about the ‘old school’ aspects though,  as I’ve never even finished FFIV and V… Also, I hated these guys remakes.

So basically I shouldn’t have bought this game.

However,  I love it. Perhaps it hit me at the right the time just after I’ve dealt with most of my uni work, perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the many hours I grinded in Pokemon Silver… but 4 heroes manages to do a lot of RPG things very right, without being overly old school.

The game uses the basic structure of any old school RPG, wake up, go see king, perform basic task, meet 3 other varied teenagers, kill first boss, cause curse to ruin kingdom, save kingdom.

However it changes up this structure just a little by both giving the characters some personality, and by splitting up the party and having them separated by the narrative early on… Otherwise, you’ll need to examine everywhere for items, solutions and hints towards your goals. Normally, i hate this… But I think 4 heroes combines using less NPCs and making typically more interesting dialog from each (also nicely pacing hints from NPCs on how the battle system works) with a varied world to make it easier to find the hint you need.

The other core difference to many old school RPGs is the battle system… The battles in most RPGs only served to wear down your supplies and reserves. Well, 4 heroes uses the same principle in the end I suppose. However it makes this task a little less daunting and annoying by having a very low encounter rate with fairly quick dungeons, that it’s more about not dying in a given round more than anything else. As with most RPGs you have 3 core resources, Health, MP, items/money. 4 Heroes makes managing all these much more interesting than most old school RPGs (so far anyway) by using megaten like give and take on life (meaning your life goes up and down a lot, making it a real worry), an AP system over standard MP, and forcing inventory management to a new level for an FF games.  I’m going to tackle those last two seperately

Battles occur in standard turn based fashion ad revolve around one very important resource, AP. You only have at best 5 points, you get one a turn, and even attacking or using an item costs one of these points. Spells and special abilities cost more of course.  You can only have upto 6 additional actions prepared for you to do before a battle starts, so only 6 spells, or 2 spells and 4 skills. Meaning you will always have a pretty limited set of choices forcing you to plan ahead. Adding to that the auto targeting system in the game, which uses quickly learnable rules on what is targets (spells hit rear weakest foe for example), will force you to create a party that can deal with everything.

Finally item management forms a big part of 4 Heroes, you only have 15 slots for each character, including armor, equipment, spells and consumables. Given you will typically have 4 pieces of equipment plus 2 spellbooks, that’s 6 slots, leaving very few to pick up treasures. But that’s not all. After battles you do NOT get money. You get gems… Gems are currency for 3 things.
-selling for gill
-using to upgrade classes
-used to pay for gameovers

Gems come in a lot of types and each job needs different amounts of each gem to be upgraded. This causes some nice tension between what you want, you could not get those lovely items and more easily get better classes quicker, or get the items now and the classes when you can later…

Well, that’s about I have on 4 heroes of light for now. I’d talk about classes but there isn’t much to say, they’re highly focused, but so far not that interesting (only have 4 jobs so far)… So hopefully I’ll have more to say later.

It’s all about Style, Eretzvaju Part 2

Posted in Clean up needed, Fighters, Games with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2008 by link6616

I’m not going to worry about mechanics anymore….. Eretzvaju is very much, a game that tries to look cool. A great deal of effort was placed in making sure the characters looked ripped out of an anime. And it succeeds. From attacks looking impressive, stances, multi angle work, Eretzuvaju really FEELS like an anime and that is probably one of it’s major draws.

Story mode only strengthens it, by giving each character their own ‘show’ complete with coming next week segments, tells each character’s story, and a short cut scene before and after each fight. The voice acting was so terrible that it this idea was marred a bit, but the voice acting is so terrible that its actually funny to watch.

To help with the anime feel, attacks are exaggerated, you are surrounded by energy when charging, everything from copies of a character, lasers, cards, fireballs, energy disks/beams, everything you’ve seen in more then a few animes is here.

“But that’s unoriginal” you cry out, “don’t games need to be original?” Well, it helps, but they use it to their advantage, you know your characters before you even play them, and they may have a twist, but you feel ok with each character from the start, and you can have a laugh at how much they fit to their molds.

Eretzuvaju is a good example of a game that knew what it’s purpose what, to make a fighter that felt like an anime.

It does that, focusing on the second more then the first. It didn’t bother making an elaborate new plot, or fighting system. It just made stuff that looked cool, was fun and that everyone could do.

What else do you want from an anime fighter, other then to fight like anime characters?

A fighting game with 2 buttons, Eretzvaju, Part 1

Posted in Clean up needed, Fighters, Games with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2008 by link6616

Button counts

Street fighter, 6
Tekken, 4
Virtua Fighter, 3
Super Smash Brothers, 3 or 4 if you count the jump

You may be wondering why I’m counting buttons, the more astute of you may have realized that the game I’m going to talk about uses only 2 buttons. I’m willing to admit that it isn’t the greatest fighter ever made, but it does quite a few things very well, and only uses 2 buttons.

Welcome to Eretzuvaju (otherwise known as Evil Zone). It’s a 3D fighter that appeared on the PS1 in 1999 that pits 10 anime stereotypes against each other and finally a under dressed boss with angel wings.

Each character has a surprisingly big back story and the amount of story is quite impressive given that its a fighting game. Story mode is presented like a different anime TV series for each character, complete with previews about the next episode. All of them end up at the same spot, and it’s not very good or well dubbed, but it is quite a nice change from fight fight fight. But the story isn’t my main concern, it’s the battle design that grabs me.

The controls are simple, Triangle is attack, Square is block, everything else isn’t.
Just Triangle will let you perform a 3 hit combo
Up, left, right and triangle will perform a special move, double triangle will vary it slightly (projectiles will often spread)
Down performs throws
Double forwards Triangle is a dash attack
Double up triangle or square performs a jump or block.
Double backwards triangle will let use a ‘crystal’ to fire a bullet that will unleash a supermove.
There are a few other moves, but for the moment, we’ll leave it at that.

Doesn’t really sound all that hard does it. One of the first nice things that should be quite apparent from that list is that nothing there looks hard to do, no quarter circles or anything. Since all the moves are readily there and usable then most people can just play and look impressive. This is a surprisingly important aspect, players FEEL powerful.

One thing that is not apparent from that list however is that pretty much every attack is always useful. Most attacks are long range, or move you a distance across the screen, almost as if a long range attack. So however far away you are, you can always attack and have lots of options. Eretzvaju doesn’t feel deep at first, in fact it took me a long time to realize that there was more to the game then throws, which can seem over powered. Thanks to always having lots of options, the room for mind games is quite impressive, and lots of ways to punish an opponent for making the wrong move, although often the best way is a throw.

“Super moves”

Supers aren’t unique to Eretzvaju, but it’s way of managing them is clever. You can hold Triangle to charge up a yellow bar in your life gauge. When this bar hits the top of your life gauge you get a crystal, which can be used to either power up a normal move, or used to unleash a separate super move that not only looks impressive but deals lots of damage. Since when you are low on health you can charge up quicker you can output more damage the closer to death you are, this not only allows comebacks, but encourages them much more then other fighters. These moves aren’t over powered though, so losing won’t make you win, but it will make it so much easier then not having them.

Well, thats it for now.