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#JRPGJuly - Week Three Update



Welcome to RPGamer's Week Three update! With only a week left in the month, let's see what progress has been made before the final update!

Sam "Nyx" Wachter:

This week my life has been work, work, work and OH LOOK Zero Time Dilemma. Which I finished this week, because apparently sleep is not a thing I need when moving between libraries. Okay, that's a lie, but still.

I did make some more progress in Chapter 4 of Okage, and completed another dungeon. The Evil Bull King was a thorn in my side so I had to do a lot of grinding to kick his behind in. Now I am working towards finding the next Evil King, though I have a large hunch as to who I think it might be. I hope to have at least Chapter 4 finished by the last update. Wish me luck!

Pascal "SquigglyLeo" Tekaia:

In week three I did what I thought I'd do in week 2: finish Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. Last week I wrote that I was only minutes away from finishing. Yeah, that didn't happen. Instead, it took another ten hours, mostly due to the fact that I had been breezing through the game and was way too ill-prepared for the final boss. Even with the extra grinding, the last few bosses proved a formidable challenge. Some wonky balancing there, as all bosses up to that point were more or less a joke. But be that as it may, it is done. Now on to the review!

Further, I've now taken my first steps in I Am Setsuna, my pick for E3 2016's Game of the Show. I haven't come far enough to comment in much detail yet, but I'm a big fan so far of the music and graphics. The battle system is in equal measures a trip down memory lane and so filled with minute considerations honestly a little much to wrap my head around. But what I'm really hoping for is a story that stands up to the 16-bit RPGs it's spiritually based on. Keeping my fingers crossed for this one!

Kelley "redrock963" Ryan:

My journey through Filgaea continues this week. I have now reached the point in the story where the light-hearted tone has started to fade away. Now, stuff is starting to get serious, and you find out character motivations and villain plots. I can't get too much into it without spoilers, but let's just say some heroes are turning out not to be so heroic. But hey, who cares about deep interpersonal turmoil from characters, I just got FIRE BULLETS! Now I can light torches from across the room! Yeah baby, this game is AWESOME!

Nathan "TwinBahamut" Schlothan:

My progress in Romancing SaGa 2 has stalled quite a bit, as I have only managed to play six hours this week. In truth, this loss in momentum was caused by a series of events that has left me struggling to keep going. Put simply, I messed up badly, and pretty much my entire fifth generation party suffered a slow, agonizing death.

It all began when I encountered a terrifying magic force that, according to the story, was sucking the life out innocent people. Naturally, my newly formed team of fifth-generation heroes righted this wrong and restored peace to the land, taking home a shiny souvenir in the process. However, in my foolishness I converted this souvenir into a piece of magical equipment and gave it to one of my party members, oblivious to the fact that the life-draining properties of that souvenir were still perfectly intact. The result was that I had inadvertently created the perfect cursed item, and I didn't even realize it was affecting me until it was far too late. I probably lost half the Life Points of my entire party to this mistake before I figured out what was happening and how to mitigate the danger. I'm the kind of gamer who doesn't respond well to this kind of setback, so it has been a struggle to keep moving forward.

On the positive side of things, the Empire has liberated the desert, navigated dangerous seas, prevented a catastrophic volcanic eruption, defeated Noel, the fourth of the Seven Heroes, and organized a concert at the peak of frozen mountain. That somehow hasn't been enough to move on to the next generation, so I am currently working out how to defeat Rocbouquet, the fifth of the Seven Heroes. However, trying to defeat her has been almost as much of a disaster as the incident with the cursed item. Still, with some luck I should be able to return to form and make some good progress next week.

Cassandra "Strawberry Eggs" Ramos:

I'm still in chapter one of Bravely Second, but I completed two side quests, defeated two ba'als and earned the red mage, astrologer, summoner, and catmancer jobs. In the struggle between the Jackal and DeRosa, I sided with the thief, as I trust the red mage about as far as I can throw him. Maybe he's more earnest than I expect, and it seems the Jackal has his own ulterior motives, but I had to start somewhere. Besides, red mage abilities are quite useful. Later on I encountered an indirect spat between the swordmaster Kamiizumi and the summoner Mephilia. Both of them gave advice to an NPC named Gho Getter over whether or not he should continue to work for a company that made him start with hard labor. I sided with the swordmaster, as while Mephilia has regained some of her sanity, she's still not exactly trustworthy. She's clearly more interested in a new summon than she is in Gho's well being. It did remind me of how much she's changed since Bravely Default. It seems I can look forward to at least one new summon spell: Amaterasu.

After defeating a familiar-looking ba'al, more have popped up in Fort-Lune. I attempted to take on Neo Goldie and the New Firstborn freaky teddy bear thing at their full strength. Without access to many more jobs and abilities, they promptly beat me to a pulp. There's no shame in waiting, of course. I did use the moon ships to blast another Goldie to a more manageable level, then defeated it using a special. I can hypothetically level down all of the ba'al to one and all of that EXP and job points is tempting, where is the challenge in that? I'll maybe do it to a few more ba'als, but not all of them.

Story-wise, Minette the catmancer has been defeated, but not before another Glantz Empire crony grabbed a mystical artifact of great importance that I'm going to assume will be given to Emperor Oblivion anyway. The party is certainly going to try to get it back, regardless. The plot itself hasn't picked up much yet, with only the vaguest hints as to something grander. What I am enjoying is the all of banter and interaction among the heroes, villains, and NPCs alike. The first game was a lot like that early on, too. I've heard conflicting things about the story's quality, but so far I can say I'm still enjoying it as much as its predecessor.


Michael "GaijinMonogatari" Baker:

After much trial, trepidation, and diving into side-dungeons, I finally managed to defeat this one boss that was giving me so much trouble. It was a victory hard-won, for certain. Now I am off into the dark, strange southern lands of Scream to discover the truth behind the ancient apocalypse that so damaged this world. The item creation aspects remain a mixed bag (no surprise there), with the armor enchantment upgrades being really hard to get right. I'm still relying far more on dropped items for my defensive needs, and that's rarely a good sign.

A bigger issue so far has been getting new combat abilities for people. The magic-users are pretty easy: get them to a certain amount of MP and/or intelligence stat, and they will spark new spells off of existing ones mid-battle. Precis and Chisato require certain electronic gadgets to learn abilities, and these items have to be made with the Machinery creation skill. Ashton and Dias are the annoying ones. To start with, their attacks all have minimum MP levels as prerequisites, but it's really difficult to raise their MP for much of the game. Even then, with the right MP levels, the right learned skills, and the right stats, they just don't seem to want to spark their other attacks. This isn't too much of a worry, since they're veritable juggernauts with just the standard attacks, but it's starting to bug me.

In other news, I've been working my way through the backlog, one game a day, with a simple Keep/Sell decision each night. The games have been an interesting assortment so far.

Note: You can read a longer version of Gaijin's adventures here.


Robert "lolwhoops" Sinclair & Anna Marie "Paws" Privitere

RS: I've been playing a bit more of 7th Dragon III and managed to take down the second true dragon. Interesting things are happening, though I get the distinct impression that some of these events are supposed to have more impact due to backstory from the other games in the series. I've been doing all the side quests and I'm just about to head to the next place to find another true dragon. It has been a rough week for me so I haven't played nearly as much as I would have liked. This next week will be a blitz, hopefully.

AMP: I almost passed over 7th Dragon III: VFD, as the game flew under my radar. That is, until the reviews hit. Etrian Odyssey combined with dating elements?! Could there be a game more appealing to my tastes? Well, maybe, but it turns out VFD is fantastic.

Much like Etrian Odyssey, the game opens with you creating characters around certain classes. There’s a nice set of options to choose from, with more unlocking as the game progresses. Also similar to the EO series is the enemy appearance meter, which slowly shifts from safe to a warning red. In addition, dragons roam the map in designated patterns, much like an FOE does. Combat takes places in first perspective.  

But after that, VFD separates itself from its shared roots with the Etrian Odyssey series and does its own thing.  Exploration is generally an overheard, third person environment and movement is not square-based.  You have a navigator assisting you, so the map is drawn automatically on the screen (and considering how complex some maps can get with multiple levels within the same zones, that’s a good thing). 

In combat, you see your characters fling themselves out to attack the enemies.  The game limits you to just three elemental types of attacks (fire, ice, lightning), which most classes don’t have access to.  You’ll also get more abilities than you could readily learn, so it’s a matter of picking and choosing what you want.  After level 30, characters can be reclassed at a cost of 10 levels, but they are refunded all skill points and given some sort of boon for doing so.

Another cool aspect of the game is the part system.  At first, you’re running a solo party of three.  Eventually this will grow to two parties of three, and then a third as well, making your party a full nine members.  Only the front party actively fights in combat, but the rear parties can amass “turns” which can be used to set off special attacks, negate enemy debuffs, and buff your party.  At select points in the game, your team splits up into individual parties, which makes you miss and appreciate having everyone together (and lets you experiment with different class combos).

The game also gives you a slew of options to build a character any way you want to, including after they’ve been initially created.  I was finding a particular class wasn’t working in one of my parties, so I changed their class, appearance, and name to suit their new role, without having to re-roll a new character that starts at level 1.  There’s also fun stuff to do outside combat, like complete quests and build new facilities.  And rescuing cats – very important.

I do have a couple of small nitpicks about the game.  First, by and large the game is pretty easy, even more so on the casual difficulty.  I’d recommend starting on standard and moving down if you find things get tough (like in Chapter 5).  Second, the extra money DLC is oddly locked until chapter 3, when the player should already have enough on-hand…and just fighting regular enemies nets them more than the “special” enemies in the quest.  Third, the story doesn’t hold up to any sort of scrutiny, as during one point you travel to the future to fix the present.  What?  That being said, these are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things and the game is otherwise fun and well-paced.

As an aside, before diving into the main game it’s probably worth the time to download and play the demo.  It only takes an hour or so and you can pick up the story right into the main game, while netting a couple nice accessories and an early game lump of cash.

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