I've dipped my toes into Radiant Historia, my pick for #JRPGJuly. We've had this game for a while, but it was in my spouse's DS and then got lost in the backlog. I've wanted to get to it, though. I'm taking a cross-country flight next week, so a portable RPG seemed like the perfect choice!
Thus, I've joined Stocke, a secret agent who seems like the strong, silent type but is really a big softie, on his time-bending adventures. He's got this magic White Chronicle that he has to use to travel through two timelines in an attempt to stitch together the true history of his world that will keep everything from turning into a lifeless desert. Together with his mercenary buddies and his best friend Rosch, who are in the dark about his powers, Stocke has to make important choices that will determine the fate of his nation and the world itself.
I'm digging the game so far. There's lots of intrigue going on, which is definitely my cup of tea, and the turn-based battle system has a neat system that allows you to manipulate turn order and troop placement to your advantage. I've just unlocked the two major timelines that Stocke has to deal with, the "real" history in which he remains a secret agent, and an "alternate" history in which he becomes a soldier under Rosch's command. He's got to manipulate both histories in his favor because there's another Chronicle user out there who is actively attempting to thwart his plans. Good times!
You can follow Becky on Twitter @BeckyCFreelance for more updates.
In an interesting twist, I said I was going to be playing Shin Megami Tensei IV. However, what I didn't realize at the time was that I was really close to the end of the game. I have actually beaten it since the announcement of RPGamer participating in #JRPGJuly, completing it at a little over 33 hours. Realizing I couldn't be out of the game this early, I switched to a game I've had in my backlog for a long time — Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana.
I've never touched the Iris series, despite owning all the games. Since our announcement post I've put in ten hours, and have acquired both mirrors to open Henmil's Gate, except that my party has only just figured out that they need more mana in order for the gate to open.
What I am finding with Atelier Iris is that the simplicity of the game's combat and synthesis systems are quite refreshing. I thought it would be challenging to go back to an older synthesis system, but I love that Klein can synthesize items right in the middle of combat and use them instantly. Furthermore, the cast of characters are just delightful, especially Delsus, who is just such a pervert. It's entertaining to play this game in English, because it seems like the entire cast of Cowboy Bebop makes an appearance somewhere.
I am really enjoying my time with the game. The localization is downright hilarious, often breaking the fourth wall. Here's a couple examples of what I mean:
Overall, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana has been a comfortable and fun game to play. Hopefully next week I'll be close to finishing the game or at least make more progress that I can share. Keep following me on Twitter, as I'll be continuing to post weird quotes from the game.
You can follow Sam on Twitter @merrygodown for more updates.
This week, I have been encouraged by #JRPGJuly and some of my friends at RPGamer to dive back into two JRPGs that I started earlier in the year, but put on hold for various reasons... Tales of Phantasia and Dragon Quest VI.
The way Dragon Quest VI opens up with not one, but two open worlds, giving little direction as to what to do next, discouraged me in that past. For #JRPGJuly, I tackle this iteration in the iconic series with a FAQ in hand. The details of my exploits back into Dragon Quest VI can be found in the links below.
After I put Dragon Quest VI back on the shelf, I decided I needed a break from the traditional JRPG formula, and decided to try the "Tales of Series." After deciding that Tales of Phantasia was a bit too old-school for my tastes, I jumped into the well-known Tales of Symphonia. While I enjoyed my first few hours, I got frustrated with combat and my lack of control over party members during the fast paced combat. I walked away from the title to play some mindless first person shooters instead.
Now, with my bloodlust quenched, I returned back to the world of Sylvarant. It quickly became clear to me that I allowed impatience and fatigue to get the better of me, as with a little focus and planning, I easily overcame those obstacles causing me frustration earlier. I plan to start a gaming journal on this early next week.
You can receive real time thoughts and screen shots from my #JRPGJuly exploits on Twitter @jcservant!
I have played through the tutorial and a few missions in Front Mission each night before bed. I am really digging the Amano art. I had forgotten he worked on the game.
The story and plot are still trying to build up steam. A tragic event happens at the start, and the protagonist joins a mercenary group seeking revenge. So fairly standard stuff there.
The combat seems to be the typical tactical RPG affair. I am not really expecting the gameplay to get much more complex as this was an earlier tactical RPG.
I am liking all the wanzer (mech) customization thus far. It has opened up quickly and hopefully looks to have some depth to the system. Being able to mix and match my wanzer load outs really scratches that itch of fine tuning and customizing my squad that I enjoy.
Anna Marie Privitere
I dove into Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker on June 28, just in time for #JRPGJuly to start – good coincidence. I’d played the original back when it first came out in 2011, but only remembered bits and pieces of the story; since I regularly mix up the first and second Devil Survivor games, it was like playing a new title of sorts. Originally, I took Daichi's path, but elected to go a different route this time (Alcor).
I decided I also wanted to make as many different decisions as my first playthrough, so among other changes, I peeped in on the girls’ exams like a perv. The doctor sent me a chiding email for my troubles, but the dialogue was so hilarious it was very much worth it~ I was really tempted to make this a "total jerkface" playthrough, as you can answer most every dialogue option with something polite/neutral, or something rude/unhelpful.
However, I decided to instead work on getting as many Fates as high as possible (something that’s much harder if you’re going to be crass about everything). I ended up with two Fives, mostly Fours, and a couple of Threes before the decision split, leaving Keita and Otome behind (along with the two characters who are not accessible unless you’re on their specific paths). Screw Keita anyways; I really dislike that character. I also decided to stick with the female guide (was there a male in the original? Now I can’t remember), because bunny Tico-Tico is awesome and adorkable.
Here’s a snapshot of my party at the start of Friday; I utilized the Macca and EXP DLCs liberally to get an edge up and to purchase/fuse numerous demons. I finished the story arc with my Compendium at about 57% completed – not too bad for a first run, especially one that I didn't go all the way up to 99 in. I did eventually move the healing spells onto adjoining demons so that my character could focus specifically on the Dance spells, as they become super crazy OP at 40 magic with 50% bonus MP. This is also the team I stuck with until the Final Day (because they were the first to unlock SDTP), though my final party ended up being Io, Hinako, and Al Saiduq.
This is one of my favourite demons I fused, and became the base of many of the demons I made after her. She was in my main party through to the end credits. I completed the game with my characters all in the 60s, with my character around 65ish. It took me about 38 hours, including grinding, playing on Blessed (the new easier difficulty introduced in the remake). I like the ebb and flow of combat, although I feel like either I had a run of really bad luck, or the developers tweaked up the amount of status effects that landed in the remake.
I've moved straight into the second, new story arc, and that will probably take up most of the second week of #JRPGJuly for me, since it's supposed to be about as long as the first arc. Keep watching my Twitter for lots of pics as I play through (or stay tuned RIGHT HERE next week).
Michael A Cunningham
While I've been trying to get deeper into Xenoblade on 3DS, my real goal right now is to complete a lot of stuff that I missed in Final Fantasy XI. As I've beaten every other Final Fantasy, I've considered XI and XIV "beaten enough" as I defeated the Shadow Lord obtaining Rank 6 status and finished FFXIV's 2.0 story content, but there are always expansions and new content to touch. My first goal was to dive back into Final Fantasy XI and see if I could finish all nation missions for San d'Oria and start in on completing the expansions. My first accomplishment was Rank 7 with some help from a old Linkshell mate from over ten years ago when I was first started playing this game.
Along with the nation missions, I started into the Wings of the Goddess expansion. While I would like to give this one an 11 out of 5, there are some "interesting" design decisions within the new areas that drive me crazy. They are beyond mazelike with maps leading you in one direction just to get blocked by something not actually shown on the map. Other than that, the story is really great. I've decided to use the Dancer job that was introduced in this expansion and really love it. As a Galka, I've been doing the Bastok quests and have fallen for Captain Klara of the Mythril Musketeers. Sadly, she respects me, but has little interest in me beyond that.
Thankfully, my namesake Zeid is back and at the forefront. I really love his character's personality and design, so getting to see more of his past is great. Love it. Also, he saved me from an Antica.
After a few missions there, I went back to working on areas I've avoided in the past. The Ugly Temple was a pain at first, but I've come to understand it and respect it. And thankfully, the new Trust system they added to FFXI means that I can solo a lot of stuff that I'd have needed a full party for back in the day. Now I can bring my own party, and I love it.
With some more help from Sive, I was able to complete the missions needed to get me Rank 9 and am on my way to getting Rank 10. It shouldn't be long now and one part will be completed. I'm level 65 and ever moving along.
You can follow Michael on Twitter @FinalMacstorm for more updates.
I suppose I should first preface this by saying that there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS for Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker. I'll do my best to not reveal everything, but it will be hard to avoid.
I started the month with defeating Polaris on the Yamato route. I really don't agree with his Meritocracy world, but I've already done the Restorer (Daichi's ending where they don't kill Polaris) and Kingmaker (aka the Anguished One's route) endings on the original DS version. I still find it interesting how this game eschews the usual Megami Tensei alignments for ones that mix aspects of law and chaos. The neutral routes are very much in line with MegaTen, though: humans are capable of incredible things, be they good or bad.
On a random note, I really can't take the protagonist's bunny ear hood seriously. The hero in the original Devil Survivor had headphones that were suppose to vaguely resemble cat ears, but they never looked this silly.
Before I began the Triangulum arc proper, I got to choose some bonuses based on the titles I've obtained. I really didn't get that many points. I could only transfer one of my old demons, and a few other things like keeping the auction and removing the EXP cap. From the looks of it, this may be on purpose, as story-wise, it seems you're suppose to start off mostly fresh in the Triangulum arc. This wouldn't apply to New Game+, obviously. The demon I did transfer was my trusty Hecate, one of my most favorite in the metaseries. Actually, it seems this game will allow me to summon all four of my most favorite MegaTen demons, the others being Culebre, Amaterasu, and Huang Long. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get them in this playthrough, though.
I find it interesting how the Triangulum story starts off with both Ticos right off the bat. You get to choose one of them a little later. I was somewhat curious as to how the female Tico sounded. Yeah, I'm sticking to the male, at least for this playthrough. It's not because I dislike her voice, mind you. It's fitting; I just find her personality in general to be annoying.
Currently Daichi and Io are my only playable characters, though I have met and jogged the memories of Makoto, Otome, Airi, and Hinako. Oddly, this arc seems to assume that the player has done the Kingmaker ending, regardless of which one they actually did. Any newcomers to Devil Survivor 2 who are not aware of all of the endings are probably confused. I have yet to meet Miyako Hotsuin. I recall her being regarded as Yamato's sister in promotional materials, but the truth seems to be more complicated.
On another random note to close out, I had noticed recently that Daichi's voice sounds rather familiar. As it turns out, his voice actor is Benjamin Diskin, who is also the voice of Gurio Umino from the Viz release of Sailor Moon (Melvin to those only familiar with the TV dub). Now there's an curious, though not really strange, character association.
Playing games in a mother language comes with a number of risks, and it didn't take me long to bump into a few such issues. The first involved somehow selecting the path which leads to the DLC campaign, and then saving over my old save, meaning I could either buy the DLC or start over. Luckily I had a backup save a few battles back and managed to not lose too much progress. The second instance saw me somehow lowering the difficulty unintentionally. This also set me back a few battles. Thankfully I didn't mind all that much. Why is that, you ask?
Because as it turns out Fire Emblem If is quite good. I chose the harder of the two versions, which has provided for some challenging battles. Though the look and feel of the game are very reminiscent of Fire Emblem Awakening, the battles certainly feel more akin to the older games, or at least what I recall of them. The scenarios have also tended to not be a simple matter of vanquishing all foes, and even when they are there have been plenty of wrinkles, such as interactive spots on the map that the player's main character can use to gain an advantage. One example of this was a battle where a frozen lake separated things, and the player could use the main character to unfreeze it for a turn, making anyone that was standing on the frozen lake unable to move.
The other big change is that weapons no longer use durability, except for healing staves. This is a rather big change for the series, but has felt quite natural to the point that I've hardly noticed it. The game has really grabbed me to the point of distracting a bit from reviewing Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3. One especially cool battle had me surviving waves of enemies, trying to prevent them from reaching a set of spots on the map, for a certain number of turns. It was gruelling and did take me a few attempts. I decided to play with permadeath turned off, and this has proven to be an especially smart move. I can't say much about the game story-wise other than the fact that there is an optional "touching" mini-game that is incredibly stupid. Fire Emblem If has ditched the map layout of Awakening as well and instead you get a customizable home base where you can shop and perform other tasks all in one place. It has worked out quite nicely so far. If this first week is anything to go by, July is going to be great fun.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @AskWheels for more updates.
I'm playing Valkyria Chronicles on the PC for the first time. The tank controls are clumsy. It's fun learning about a large group of protagonists.
Despite playing a lot of games with firearms, and being familiar with the JRPG child hero, I'm surprised when my child soldiers get shot with minimal consequences. Something about the WWI/WWII technology makes me expect a game where lives are fragile and hard-won. A tank ran over one of my soldiers, killing him permanently; however, so many others have survived brutalities with no consequence. The beautiful storybook graphics add to this feeling of cognitive dissonance.
All of this sounds like negative criticism, but it's not. Rather, I'm surprised to discover a new set of hidden expectation. Wars are romanticized and gamified all the time. I've led untold hundreds of faux Renaissance soldiers to their doom, so what is it about storming a machine gun nest or crawling through no man's land that makes me want to remove the youngest soldiers and Darcsen haters from the active duty roster?
I'm on chapter 7.
You can follow Zach on Twitter @ZachRPG for more updates.
So I've been playing Xenoblade on the 3DS.
I've gotten sidetracked.
I'm supposed to kill this guy.
But after him wiping my face into the ground repeatedly, I decided to grind some levels.
But it seems I have become obsessed with making everything in this list have a green crown next to it.
Someone save me from this sidequest hell. I finish one and two more pop up! Oh well, at least I've gained 7 levels and 100000 gold.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @sabin1001 for more updates.
Week One Wrap Ups — complete! Check back with us next week and see who makes some progress, and who stumbles to get any further. Remember to follow @RPGamer to see some updates, or use #JRPGJuly to get in on the action.