These past few weeks I have spent way more time watching anime than playing games, which is sad, but the reason is I'm getting excited for Sakura-con. I wish there was more JRPG representation at Sakuracon, but I will still buy anime-related things. I suppose some JRPG franchises have made it huge as animes after all, such as Persona 4. If Tales anime means I can get Tales posters, then I'm all for that! Of course, the Xenosaga animation didn't lead to amazing Xenosaga everywhere, partly because I heard it was really bad. You'd think they could have fixed up the story in the anime considering how some of the events felt just thrown together in the trilogy. Then again I'm due for a Xenosaga trilogy replay...if I could get my PS2 working...

Anyway, so I can't say I necessarily hate all brother/sister shows since I did enjoy Oreimo. It being trashy yet funny was why I ended up watching it all the way through. I am not totally against incest as I don't think you can help those types of feelings when they do happen. However, I don't understand why it seems to be everywhere. This feeling is not nearly as common as it is in anime right now. Two shows being simulcast this season on Crunchyroll, The Irregular at Magic High School and No Game, No Life, both have elements of it. Of course some of it is trolling the viewers and some of it seems real. Supposedly Sword Art Online also had some incest-ish things going on (I have not watched it yet). There were also some other stepsibling romance shows that were on Crunchyroll that I can't remember the name of.

The only JRPG I know of that has incest is Drakengard. Even so, I believe it was added to the story to be "disturbing". How much of that is a selling point is unclear in a game where there's a lady who wants to eat children and a main character who wants to murder everybody. I would think the main character who wants to murder everything would be the bigger selling point (and dragons, of course).

In Tales of Legendia, the childhood friend pair disguises themselves as "brother and sister" for a while. However, it is clearly the "brother" who thinks of his "sister" as a sister platonically and the "sister" who is in love with the "brother" but mostly accepts that a sibling-like relationship is the way it will be. Of course I can't say for sure if this stays true since I only got as far as the beginning of the Character Chapters. Therefore it's another case where brother/sister is not romanticized.

In Tales of Graces f, they try very very hard to shove Asbel/Cheria in your face (a thing that I have complained about before). However, supposedly one of the more popular pairings in fandom is Asbel/Sophie. Maybe it's a sign that fandom ships brother/sister, father/daughter or whatever the two proclaim themselves to be? Or the writers can't write a good brother/sister or father/daughter relationship? Maybe both?

Anyway, so far the major JRPG franchises have been pretty good at keeping the relationships side relatively free of squicks for most people such as incest and have done the fanservice mostly in the visuals. However if this light novel/anime/manga trend gets bigger, I wonder if a medium-sized JRPG producer (like a Compile Heart or NIS) will slip in a game with incest where it isn't considered horrible, disgusting, and/or weird.

As for why it always seems like the sister is more into the brother in all these situations is a matter for a different discussion...
My posts have been kind of boring, so sorry about that. I guess I could go on a rant on how Gust is such a tease and never officially gets any of their battle couples together in the Atelier Iris trilogy, but it probably just be frustration in all caps. Maybe I'll think of something later.

Anyway, Happy April everyone! In a few weeks I'm going to Sakuracon so there's some anime I should probably watch before then (like Attack on Titan), but I'll probably put off watching the show some more with some gaming. Now that I've already conquered the Atelier Iris trilogy, my life will have less Gust. However, I'll be diving into Ar tonelico 2 some more, and other things like:

PS3 - Ni No Kuni. I can't stand the protagonist but probably because I don't really like child protagonists. Drippy is okay but talks too much.
PSP - Sol Trigger. Slowly. I don't really understand everything, but it certainly has a cool world and story, which would be cooler if I understood it.
PSVita - Tales of Hearts R. Also slowly. Shing (no idea what they officially romanized his name to) shares most of the traits with Asbel, but he feels more cheerful and also more sheltered. Hisui is pretty cool and Veril's tsundere-ness is not annoying yet. I'm a little worried though. I know it's a shoddy remake but the story so far is pretty good and the battle system controls are way better than Tales of Innocence R's.
PS2 - Besides Ar tonelico 2, I want to continue in Ar tonelico 1 to as many other endings I can get. However, my PS2 and this game's disc haven't gotten along so who knows. I might try again with Tales of Legendia, but that disc isn't being read either at the moment.

Wii - The Last Story. I'm going to be replaying it on New Game +. It'll probably be a relatively quick run.
3DS - Bravely Default. I'm nearing the end of Bravely Default, but doing all the side stuff gives much better characters/story than the main plot and some fun side battles. I'm also interested in using it for German practice, but I also now have Devil Survivor Overclocked to play.
DS - Suikoden Tierkreis replay in Spanish is still happening. It appears to be Latin America slang when slang occurs, which is understandable being a NA copy of the game. Though I had no idea that "churro" could also refer to a type of sheep.

Unlikely but also
PSX - Wild ARMs 2. The dungeons are fine, but the rest isn't very inspiring to me. It doesn't suffer from things not happening or happening too slowly, but I don't care.
GBA - Breath of Fire. I think I need to find a FAQ. I am wandering around with Nina and her guards and I haven't figured out what to do next.
I just have to turn in some forms and upload my .pdf and wait for the graduate school to officially give me a degree, but I am pretty much an official Ph.D. now. Phew! Now on to games.

I'm going to be taking this month relatively easy though I will be job searching and working on some paper drafts, but it won't be with nearly the same amount of stress as the dissertation. I think my professor knows that once the graduation part finished things would turn out that way. My income from him ends this month anyway. Then I have to not spend all the money I got from selling mutual funds...

Anyway, I'm once again playing a bunch of different games, partly due to the fact that my PS2 doesn't always cooperate (to be honest I probably should buy a new one, but I can still get this one to work sometimes so I've been putting it off). I really want to focus on finishing Ar tonelico but my PS2 may not cooperate. Therefore I have a lot of other games in rotation including

PS2 - Drakengard (struggling majorly through it - stupid camera!) and Atelier Iris 3
PS3 - Ni No Kuni (as I just finished Valkyria Chronicles!)
PS1/emulator - Wild ARMs 2. When I remember to do so.
PSP - Sol Trigger (put aside Hana Ki Sou for now)
Vita - Tales of Hearts R. Mostly playing it a little bit each weekend.
3DS - Bravely Default - though mostly just battling and not really progressing quickly
DS - Suikoden Tierkreis replay in Spanish. Learning some new expressions as I already know the plot pretty well from a previous English run.
GBA - Breath of Fire? Kind of playing it, kind of not. Don't remember what I need to do.
Wii - Pandora's Tower. I really should get back to it.

So yeah, a lot of stuff but mostly PS2 and PS3 time for me at the moment. I'm not really into any of the games except for Ar tonelico (near the beginning of so many of the others so it's no surprise I'm not into them yet), but as I said, my PS2 and Ar tonelico don't get along that often. I'd like to finish at least one of these things by the end of the month. If I had better skills I could probably finish Drakengard (at least getting one of the endings) in a day as it's supposedly a 15 hour game, but I just HATE that camera so much. I die so often because of that stupid thing!

I've done a pretty good job on my backlog this year as I've only bought 2 games so far, but to be honest I still rather have the opposite problem aka the expanding backlog. Well, hopefully I figure out the money situation and then I can start buying the games again. A lot of interesting stuff came out recently or will come out soon, and I don't even feel comfortable preordering any games until right before release because I don't know where I'll be even in a month (if things go that fast). Drakengard 3 is my next planned preorder but the closer the release comes, the more I think I'll just buy it digitally. I need some Zero in my life :D
Even though my body sometimes forgets it needs to sleep especially when I am tired, I still am alive enough to play games. And I happen to be close to graduating too, though to no job because I fail at life. That's a rant for somewhere else. But at least I have games.

Last night I did a Valkyria Chronicles marathon and made my way from Chapter 11 to Chapter 14. After some trickiness which was the second battle of Chapter 10 (at least I think I found it tricky), I found Chapter 12 and 13 to be quite easy. Chapter 11 really reminded me that I do love this game's characters. It definitely gave me a hurting. I am sort of sad that means that I'll be done with my Valkyria Chronicles adventure in a few more chapters, but on the other hand I think the story will be the right length that way. There's also only so much variety they can make in battlefields with the current system. I think they've done a decent job making things interesting, though I did not invest in snipers, making them useless for me and annoying when they are enemies. I find all the rest useful at least.

I've also been playing Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana and Ar tonelico on the PS2. I like both of them, though Ar tonelico better due to its bigger story focus. They do a decent job with the main girls in Ar tonelico as well. Supposedly that's not as much of the case in the later games, which is a pity. I'll still play them, though. I like the battle system and the world and the music.

I also have been playing Bravely Default. I didn't really hype it for myself since it seemed quite simple story-wise, which means I usually just have fun but find it nothing to harp on about. I basically have that reaction to the game. So I guess it's good that it matched my expectations. Still, it seems like so far there is potential for character development, but it's all been with Edea so far. I'm sure if I do other side quests other people will get involved. I just wish Tiz wasn't so lame! I am only in Chapter 2, so he does have a chance to redeem himself.

I also beat a bunch of games since I last posted, but none of them I really recommend without reservations. Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki is plot and text-heavy, but there's nothing really amazing about the story and really felt kind of burdened by the fact it needed to have 108+ characters to fulfill the "Suikoden-ness" of the game. Sorcery Saga is moe and over-the-top silly in the plot, but the dungeon crawling has some really annoying aspects. Tales of Innocence R was fun enough for me (but I think I'm not terribly picky when it comes to RPGs) but it is definitely my least favorite Tales game. Hana Ki Sou was a short game but I didn't really understand it. There are supposedly 16 different endings (acc to the game's photo gallery) so I am at least going to play it again. There are lots of places where you are given choices, so I guess it is possible to have lots of endings based on some sort of tree.

Well, that's a lot of text for now. I don't know if I'll update again until after my oral defense (which is March 10). I'll be gaming between now and the next update for sure, and maybe I'll have something useful to say next time :D
I went to Japan in December, bought a lot of games and doujins, and have been playing two of those games right now: Tales of Innocence R and Tokimeki Memorial: Girl's 1st Love Plus. The Japanese isn't as hard as it is in Suikoden Tsumu, with Tokimeki being easier since it's more daily conversation material and a bit more repetitive as well. I'm enjoying both of them right now. Innocence is fun but from what I can tell of the plot, it's not better than any of the Tales games that did make it over to the U.S. except maybe Destiny. Then again, I haven't finished Legendia so maybe it could be better than that?

Tokimeki has been great fun and the experience is more like a simulator with most weeks you deciding what stat to grind (by playing sports, studying, reading mags, etc.). You schedule dates by calling one of the boys whose phone numbers you have but even if the boy isn't free it still takes up one of your free days (thus I always save before I make a call and reload if it doesn't work out). I've gotten close enough to the basketball player that he will invite me out sometimes, which is nice. I think the default? choice is the model student and my little brother (who keeps track of your relationship statuses) gives me warnings when model student is starting to get angry with me. Mostly because I don't care to hang out with him lol. But yeah, the language is relatively easy and I see a bunch of replay value in it. I'll probably finish my first run soon.

Anyway, with the start of a new year I'm participating in another RPG-marathon, though not in all the months this time. For January, the marathon game is Chrono Cross so I'll participate once I return to my apartment. I'm due for a replay anyway; I think it was 2002 or so when I last messed around in it. Otherwise I'll just chug along with my current games, try to get further in Suikoden Tsumu, and wait for Bravely Default in February.
October went by really quickly. I've barely been around here (busy doing lab/school stuff) and in the last part of the month I tried to work my ass off to get dissertation chapter drafts finished. It didn't happen. At least my professor isn't mad; he kind of predicted this already at the beginning of the quarter but it was good to set a goal. I have some breathing room but I still have a goal to finish the drafts by the end of the quarter.

Gaming-wise, my Disgaea playthrough fell off the map after I got suckered into Hakuoki and then I got really into sports manga. At least I still managed some gaming, beating SMT IV finally on the chaos route and also gloriously indulging in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in the last few days because it was my birthday and Halloween. I only have like 6 more games or so that I need to play? I want them all but I shouldn't spend the money yet... Edgeworth is ridiculously attractive gah...

Now that it is November, I am back to doing Suikoden replays and did a few hours of Suikoden V yesterday. Otherwise I am slowly working through Suikoden PSP and once in a while playing Muramasa (just have a few blades and the last set of endings) or Dragon Quest IX. I plan to get back into The Last Story and finish it sometime, so maybe on weekends I'll do that? Really, the only main thing is Suikoden V before I head off to Japan in December.

I'm worried about when Ys is coming out so I think I'll have to send that one to my parents' house. I really don't want it stuck in my held mail for who knows how long...
Before I get into the spoilers, my quick recommendation is YES. If you have any interest in this game, play it. Not sure the 3DS version is necessary (check up on all the details) but I have spent this whole week if not more pretty much thinking about this game and getting all the endings. It ate my soul.

Reasons not to get the game: 1) not into visual novel style 2) not into historical or supernatural 3) hate violence 4) don't care about romance games

Read more... )

It's hard to think of a recommended order for tackling the character chapters. I think going into the game blind is best and just seeing whichever person you get on your first time. Probably don't do Saito's and Hijikata's chapters close to each other. I was pretty happy ending with Harada's but for some other people Hijikata's might be the most satisfying. Harada's is the happiest and Hijikata's is the meatiest and Heisuke's is the cutest (maybe). I read online somewhere while I was having issues beating Hijikata's path that some people find Saito's path the most "boring". I have to agree that it isn't the most romantic of the paths, but I love Saito so much that it was still quite satisfying.

Even though I should be shipping Saito/Chizuru so hard because I love Saito, I kind of ship Hijikata/Saito instead. Oops?
I got decently distracted by Hakuoki 3DS and just life in general. Saito <3 My personal rankings of the romanceable men so far are Saito, Okita, Hijikata, Toudou, Harada. I like Harada but more as Nagakura's bro. Surprised Nagakura is not a choice.

Anyway, this month's focus is Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. I managed to finish off Ys Oath, Tales of Xillia, and Atelier Iris 2 right at the end of September, so my backlog is in somewhat better shape. I'm a little farther in SMT 4 but my enthusiasm for that game comes in waves. I got my money's worth, I think, and I think the world stuff is cool, but those companions...

Not much else planned for the month. I'll be trying to do more work so it'll mostly be Disgaea and Hakuoki, though I hope to play a bit more of Suikoden PSP and The Last Story.

Slow times

Sep. 20th, 2013 10:30 am
I feel like I should post, but what's really been going on in my video gaming life? It's starting to resemble the other parts of my real life too much. Time passes quickly and not much happens. Except in Tales of Xillia, of course.

But seriously, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood continues to move like molasses, if only because the battles take so long and the creators didn't think having the characters go through a 4-area dungeon twice in a row with two different parties would be no issue. Of course the second time through you know the area better and your two different parties magically share the same inventory, but there are still a considerable number of enemies to fight in the way. I guess it's good for levels, but not great for getting the best experience for the time spent. I can't figure out just how far I am in the game. I'm already past 35 hours but I may only be halfway. And I don't feel like an incredible amount of things have happened and I haven't wandered off to do side quests, so why has it been so long?

SMT IV is moving somewhat faster, but I have cruised along because of my early wandering into a demon domain got my quite overleveled. I did spend a while lost in Shibuya not able to find a certain area because I didn't notice a staircase leading to it. I feel myself close to halfway in this game too, though at some point a difficulty spike is going to happen and I will have to spend time getting better demons instead of just picking them up and fusing whatever along the way. Money isn't as much of a problem now as it was early in the game, but it's still pretty easy to spend all of it, as equipment is always expensive.

Tales of Xillia is moving the fastest, and had quite a nice bit of scenes between Chapters 3 and 4. I'm probably halfway through that game too, but the determination quotes have started coming out a bit earlier than usual. I suppose more badass things are yet to come, and according to the Internet this game doesn't quite feel finished anyway. So I'll expect the good end in Xillia 2.
PAX was great because not only did I demo a ton of interesting stuff, but I met up with a fellow Suikoden fan. Was JRPG-ing up the Western comics and gaming convention :D Then I got a bit sick.

But the culmination of some recent good news (in terms of JRPGs) came on Friday with the announcement of Trails in the Sky SC localization coming out next year! If Trails in the Sky SC, which is one of the hugest text RPGs, is coming in English, then localizations will keep coming, right? Also, I feel a lot better about recommending the second game since Estelle's intro (that dragged on too long) was the only major downer of the first game. Second game should be kicking ass everywhere, right?

So that's a game for next year. Bravely Default's updated version is also coming out next year, so there's that. Before all of that is the impressive Silver anniversary edition of Ys Celceta. I'm really hoping that early November date is the true date. (I will definitely have Ys Oath finished by then.)

The only other preorder I have besides Ys Celceta is Hakuoki because I need me some Otome and pictures with beautiful animated men :D I'll pick up some other visual novels later, as I'm trying to rebalance how I buy games. Without knowing if I'll have income next year (for who knows how long), it's hard to make long-term plans. Then again, I always neglect my plans and buy what I want if financially feasible.

October has some good games coming out but nothing that I plan to preorder, so I am parsing through my long list of games I want to get but haven't yet. Here's the short list:

Devil Survivor Overclocked (3DS)
999 (and Virtue's Last Reward?) (DS)
Disgaea 2 (PSP)
Disgaea 3 (Vita)
Soul Sacrifice (Vita)
One of the Etrian Odyssey games*

*I could preorder Millenium girl but I'm just undecided, plus I was thinking of spending ~30 or less

I'm only considering physical copies of games at the moment because I can buy digital stuff anytime. Digital-wise, I could pick up a bunch of PS1 classics with Vagrant Story and Grandia (1) being on the top of the list at the moment. But since they are digital, I am going to pick them up right before I decide to play them.

Or I can see what the awesome used game store nearby has since they collect some pretty good Japanese gems. That'd probably be the time I pick up another PS2 game (I never have enough of those :D
This weekend I'm hitting up PAX, so I've been thinking about games when I don't feel guilty for not doing anything productive in my job search. The guilt means I will be cutting out at least two days/week from gaming schedule to work on applications, mope, etc. Maybe more if I am getting really screwed on my dissertation progress (which is not so great at the moment...).

If I was following along with the RPGamer marathon, September would be X-men Legends. I have interest in the game, but I have so many games in progress that I really should finish some off. Wednesdays will probably be Tales of Xillia until I finish that and then back to Valkyria Chronicles. The PS2 game will probably be Magna Carta (I really, really should finish it), and when my PS2 is being finicky, I can load up The Last Story. I have Ys 3 on the PSP as well as Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki which I have been playing on Sunday mornings. I'll keep it like that for a bit longer.

As for new games, I did preorder Hakuoki for the 3DS so I'll dive into that when it comes in (ordered via Amazon so it'll be a week late). I should get further in SMT IV but for some reason I just rather play my console games. I use the Vita to browse the internet while I'm in bed instead of playing games with it... That'll definitely change when Ys IV arrives, whenever that does...

So tldr September is a "finish off games and get myself to do some other things" month. Let's hope those things actually happen.
So I've been playing a lot of Wild ARMs 3 and I love the fact that the main character is Virginia. In so many other games, the main lead is a naive teenager on the cusp of becoming an adult who is trying to find his place in the world as well as can't help but get into a lot of "trouble". Virginia is much of the same but just happens to be a female. She's curious, hot-headed, wanting to find justice and truth, optimistic, stubborn... all these traits are not related to her gender at all and should not be. This was back in 2002 where the only other females leads had to be badass from the start or have some amazing magical power. Virginia is pretty much normal save for a healthy dose of self-motivation. Just like many of the stereotypical main male JRPG leads.

So why is she "handsome"? For me, she's a very good-looking character but I don't actually find her beautiful in the same way as Chris from Suikoden 3 or Garnet from FFIX or Yuna from FFX, etc. Some of it is the animation style where I feel like she is given a harsher look; steeled with determination she doesn't give off soft eyes, her hair is practically tied, her outfit makes her look normal and not regal. She could dress as a guy and I would think she was male.

And maybe some of it is the fact that I'd like her to "dominate" me if we were ever in a relationship, but I should stop being so 2d-otaku...
It's been a few weeks since I beat Wild ARMs 4 so I should have done it earlier, especially now that WA3 is more in my head.

Wild ARMs 4, at least from what little I have played of Wild ARMs 3, shares the same type of Wild ARMs humor/cheesiness/quirkiness but otherwise feels significantly different. The battle system uses a HEX system. There are 7 spots that the player or the enemy can occupy, with 3 of them having one of 4 elemental properties. Attacks damage everyone in the HEX, whether your party members or enemies. Buffs affect the HEX and not individual people. Overall the system is fine, except it is very unbalanced. The placement on the HEX grid and people's initial turn order is randomized, so sometimes you can have very bad luck and get wiped before you could do anything. Thankfully, the game allows you to retry battles with different randomized conditions with no penalty. Otherwise, one character is incredibly prone to getting killed by physical attacks and one character is weak to magic but otherwise does all the damage dealing and tends to get all or most of the EXP bonuses due to killing enemies. That character ended up being 4 levels above the others at the end of my game, and I even spent some conscious effort tailoring who would deliver killing blows.

The plot takes a few hours to start up and feels similar to Wild ARMs 5 for the first part. The whole exploring the world and learning about its realities is quite similar (Wild ARMs 3 has some of this too but seems to have more of a save the world thing going earlier on), but it's combined with running away in order to protect one of the characters from capture. While you are running away, you go through some dungeons with some pretty hard to execute the solution of puzzles and some just 3-screen linear areas where the point is to have cutscenes between each screen. It doesn't feel as talky as a Tales game but it definitely has more party dialogue/hour than Wild ARMs 3 or 5.

Anyway, my major problem with the game was how smooth-sailing it was for the most part. Boss battles were more like find the trick, exploit it, and win easily. Bosses as characters were not very deep either. Any "plot twist" seemed really obvious for the most part. A lot of characters just seem so stupid. Thankfully the main party themselves are an enjoyable bunch. The major thing the game does right is not overstay its welcome. It is rather unfortunate the ability to travel all over the world is given right at the end, but the game is rather fast-paced and took me 30 hours.

So once again it's hard for me to necessarily recommend this game, but it's certainly one worth trying if you already have access to it. Otherwise, I think Wild ARMs 5 is the better of the HEX-battle system games to play.
So I haven't been around here much. I have a lot I could talk about but too much laziness to do anything about it. Gaming plans I can talk about though.

This month the focus is Wild ARMs 3. I hear it is a long game so I will probably put some hours into it every day. So far so good, though I was also pretty tired yesterday. Main lead is a female who takes the place of naive 18-year-old boys of most other JRPGs. I really hope I continue to like her and the rest of the game.

Otherwise, I'll probably get distracted from my slow playthrough of Valkyria Chronicles when Tales of Xillia arrives, and if I'm up for "I don't exactly know what I'm doing but I somehow progress" then I'll get farther in The Last Story. That game is ridiculous with chapters. I'm in Chapter 22 and it's only been 8 hours. Some chapters have been super short and the game has been pretty narrator-heavy, but I'll save my thoughts on that for another post.

I have SMT IV for the 3DS but I haven't really been doing more than walking around with it. I haven't gotten addicted to the game and I probably won't have too much time for it.

I hope to play some Ys Oath this month and continue my slow trek through Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki. I may play a little bit of Lufia: Ruins of Lore. I am quite close to the end but though the game's story has improved since the beginning, it's still so bare bones and the battle system sucks and I'm probably going to walkthrough it to the end and get it over with someday...
The Facebook fan celebration of the Suikoden series is today, July 11, this year. July 11 was the Japanese release date of Suikoden 3. So I'm going to talk about why I love Suikoden 3 below.

Read more... )

So in short, I love Suikoden 3 because of its story and its way of presenting it. I still have a few things that could have made it better, but it's a serious treat for those into the Suikoden lore and especially those who played 1 and 2.
18 hours into Shadow Hearts: Covenant (or Shadow Hearts 2 in Japan) and it's been great. I'm enjoying it and it really does everything that's good in the first game even better. It's a little less "dark" though the first game was never really dark but just things creaking in the night, spirits, ghosts, wailing, etc.

It's not necessarily a game I can marathon, as the Judgment ring mechanic means I need to be paying attention and timing things right. 4 hours seems to be my limit. Also compared to the first game the pace is a bit slower here. It's not a bad thing since there is still plenty of plot to go around. The first game was more like a mad dash and this one is more of a stroll.

I did enjoy the cast of the first game better than this group so far due to a bit more wit and intelligence among the first game's cast, but Yuri is still awesome and there's still plenty of wit. I also just saw the one of the big "twists" of the games that really made the decision to play the first game first even better. To get the most out of the second game I really think you need to play the first.

Too bad all these games are kind of expensive. Well, the first two are like $40+ used at this point. I managed to get the third for $30 and I guess that one's more of a standalone.

Also, I don't think anyone would really be offended by the sexual humor of the second game, but it is definitely there and stronger than in the first. There is a certain sequence where you can comment on a certain busty blonde's breasts and I took the "get me out of here" choices because I didn't find her attractive at all. Still the choice is there for those who'd like it.

Finally, I really miss Yuri's trenchcoat. It was awesome.
Since my PS2 was being super finicky yesterday, the only games I managed to load were Wild ARMs 3 and Wild ARMs 4. I went with the latter since I want to join in the Wild ARMs 3 marathon next month. Plus it's the most divisive of the Wild ARMs games, at least from an outsider's perspective.

So far controls feel quite like Wild ARMs 5. We'll see how the battle system really shakes up with what appears to be 4 instead of 3 people on the battle field. The initial HPs in the 2000 range is still weird to me, but maybe it's a Wild ARMs staple? The platforming required so far wasn't too bad but I'm sure there will be a part that will annoy me. Hopefully I will be able to turn off encounters on those screens and just focus on jumping.

As for the story... It seems okay? Sheltered kid going on an adventure, though I do like the fact that the main character admits that he is scared, even when he charges into things. Everyone keeps praising and telling him to cherish his innocence, so I'm not sure exactly what kind of message the game is trying to send us yet. Also just watched a rather painfully scripted cutscene involving the villains. I guess we were supposed to dislike them but I just found myself thinking they were all pretty lame.

Wild ARMs 5 didn't catch my fancy at first either, so perhaps I'll get into it more later. I hear, though, that this game is significantly shorter so the game better become more interesting sooner rather than later.
Sorry for the double post today. I am at the lab for AC purposes and not for work purposes. I mean, I should be doing work but I can't get off my half-ass motivation. So, games...if only I had brought my DS with me...

Anyway, I have been playing lots of Tales of Graces f and I'm into the "f" part of the game (which wasn't included in the original Wii version) and the game's shipping dial has been turned up to 11. Well, not really that high but it is a dramatic increase and it feels like 75% of the conversations/skits deal with someone's romance or other.

But yeah, since I'll be talking about canon romances, this post will be full of spoilers. I have never been in a relationship so I may not understand exactly how they work, but there's a reason some canon romances work better than others, right?

Significant spoilers for Final Fantasy 8, Tales of the Abyss, Tales of Graces f )

So to wrap up, canon romances need to establish that there is an interest in both sides of the party before declaring a happy ending between them. Character development prior to a realization can also work too if the development of interest is purposely delayed for storyline purposes. Otherwise a sudden "this is the canon romance" declaration will be looked upon with disbelieving eyes.
It's too hot at home so I went to the lab early and have proceeded to waste all my time so far browsing the internet. Go me!

Anyway July is Covenant month. I am pumped for the Shadow Hearts sequel. I will definitely get to that tonight.

Otherwise, I plan to play lots of Project X Zone and Muramasa when those games come in. I may continue to play a bit of Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki on the weekends. The story seems fine enough but maybe due to the language barrier I feel like it has less charm than Suikoden Tierkreis and if it's not going to be a main series Suikoden I want the Suikoden charm at least. It's still better than Shining Hearts but I am lacking a lot of important vocabulary so I spend plenty of time with the dictionary as well.

On weekends I hope to continue with Tales of Graces f as well. I finished the part that was in the Wii version and have moved on to Lineages and Legacies. The plot may be meh in this part but the character interactions are wonderful. I really can't say too much because it would be one big spoiler. I still have barely managed to get costumes. I don't really care that much but it's just that I did talk to most of the townspeople I think and fulfilled quite a few sidequests. I earned quite a few titles that way but none of them led to costumes...

Lufia: Ruins of Lore is still a drag but I'll probably manage a few more hours with that this month. And if I have more Fire Emblem urges I'll continue on with Ephraim's path in Sacred Stones (currently in Chapter 13). I think my shiny new games will be sufficient distraction.

SMT IV will be coming in later this month as well, but I don't think I'll touch that one this month or any time soon, unless I magically finish Project X Zone and Muramasa even with my focus on Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

Oh wait, I will also be playing Suikoden IV this month. I'll probably finish it this month since it's like a 20 hours game.

And thus concludes my unorganized gaming plan list :)
Or in other words, things I should post about a while ago but didn't.

Mini Okami review )

Dark Cloud 2 review )

In conclusion, both Okami and Dark Cloud 2 do a good job at what they are advertised to do. They both lack in the story-telling and characters department and feel more like explore dungeons 1-10. Okami does a better job than Dark Cloud 2 in terms of story and combat variety, and Dark Cloud 2 does a better job than Okami at not forcing annoying mini-games. Because they don't produce a gameplay or story experience that is truly mind-blowing, I think these are games worth demoing or at least watching gameplay videos of if you are on the fence about buying them.

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