The PSP is almost dead in the North American market, and the release schedule has slowed to a small trickle of RPGs as life support. One such game is Ragnarok Tactics, a Strategy RPG developed by GungHo Online Entertainment and localized by Aksys. It is based off of the popular MMO Ragnarok Online, but aside from using the same classes and currency, I’m not sure how much of it is actually related to RO. It works fine as a standalone game, and everything is generic enough that if you change some names around, it would just be an average SRPG that slapped on the Ragnarok name to sell better.
Regardless, something about this game drove me to 100% it.
Finally, I got the Dark Ending on my 5th playthrough. It’s a troublesome-as-fuck ending that’s not worth it as it branches off in Chapter 13 and lasts 3 chapters. To open up the branch to the Dark route, you have to have obtained the True ending first, and then pick enough bad conversation options. There’s an invisible karma meter going on, and the easiest way to guarantee the opening of the Dark route is by repeating Chapters 1-3 because they have the most conversation options, and repeatedly act like a jackass. The branch will eventually appear at Chapter 13.
Spoilers below, for people who don’t want to bother with the Dark route.
To procrastinate further at school, I’ve decided to play Ragnarok Tactics. Yeah, it’s the time when there’s a shitload of projects and tests, plus those essays and personal activity forms I have to fill out for universities (because fucking retarded me chose to apply for engineering despite having unimpressive grades and shit work ethics), and here I am playing a recently-released PSP game. I’m not even working at that backlog of mine, haha.
Ragnarok Tactics is basically a very ordinary SRPG centered on a war between two countries. You get to create your character, who is some random mercenary belonging to a neutral “borderless” faction with cool middle aged guy Toren as your master. You meet two youngsters, belonging to the two countires in conflict, and they join you on your monster hunting adventure. After the first three battles, you go your separate ways and shit hits the fan (war breaks out). You now get to build your own army of generic classes and choose whether you want to help out Branshaldo, Aura, or Toren (neutral).
So far I beat the game twice, but due to different endings and the True Ending requirements, I’m still not done with the game. Each chapter you can choose between 3 or 4 different battles, so you can help out whatever faction you want. However, the same stuff still happens and the branching of routes happen at the end. I went for Aura first because I found Yuri to be cute (I-I like dudes who look like cute short-haired girls), but his route turned out pretty annoying with the whole “I’ll fight for my country and delude myself into thinking it’s obviously not evil” philosophy. Cynthia’s route was slightly better, but the events don’t change despite your helping in battle so you know exactly what happens, and you end up fighting for a princess that doesn’t get any development and barely any personality so you have no reason to care about her. I stayed for Cynthia because I liked her tsun moments. Next up is Toren, and I kinda saved him for last because I figured being neutral would be the most interesting and hey, he’s a cool middle aged guy. I’m not too far into his route, but I like it better so far (read: I actually manage to care about what is happening). It helps that he actually has some sort of backstory that sounds pretty plausible.
Plot gets pretty stale as you play further, and the characters don’t get much development or depth. The dude who rules over his country in tyranny and wants to purge the land of all members of the opposing nation (and anyone that doesn’t agree with his ways in general)? Stick in a “I’m doing all this because I have mommy issues and dead mother angst” and he gets his life spared. You can clearly tell they just stuck it in there for the sake of sticking it in there, because they put zero effort into making said revelation emotional. Both endings I’ve gotten so far are unsatisfactory, and go something along the lines of “you did all this shit in attempt to save the world, but no peace for you trolololol, enjoy being stuck in continuous conflict for what is presumably the majority of the rest of your life.” It feels like the routes just end off prematurely, like they should be the midpoint of the game but instead of getting into a plot-changing twist you get “okay that solved nothing, enjoy fighting more wars.” I’ll assume the True ending is where I’ll get my standard RPG “DEFEAT REAL BAD GUY AND EVERYONE IS FRIENDS” conclusion because I’m kinda hungry for that right now.
So yeah, the main story is pretty subpar. I liked the character interactions in the beginning, where they were just derping around on a monster hunt, but things became flat and boring when the game decides to go all SRS BSNS. The best thing narrative-wise so far are the sub-events. These things are pretty hilarious, and some of them are continuous and can give you a premature ending that you can make a clear file out of. I’m glad the sub-events are there, because they give you harder battles and more entertaining dialogue. You get a 5-episode series with a dude who falls in love with random girls and proposes to them in ways that would get him a good beating because he thinks he’s hot shit (and they end up calling security on him), a cook who can’t find inspiration and keeps telling you to grab stuff for him (it ends up with your beating him up as he spends a week making simple fried rice and not using the things you fetched for him), and a loli delivery girl who uses you as a meat shield and ends up falling for you (her subplot was probably one of the more interesting aspects, and I wished they explored it further).
Gameplay is not very outstanding, should I say. It’s basically your typical tactical RPG, except even easier. The enemy AI is so terrible it makes Luminous Arc seem hard in comparison. Nobody moves unless they get attacked, or you are in their attacking range. The classes are horribly unbalanced as well, and with the exception of High Priests (healers), they can be separated into massacre-the-map type and lag-behind-and-completely-useless type. Namely, Champions + ranged physical classes (Sniper, and Jonda to an extent. Kafras are cheap too, for something else) for the former, and everything else for the latter (mages in particular, since there’s a huge delay for using spells). Assassins are fast, but they’re pretty weak. Speed is the most important stat, and since Snipers have both speed and attack based off of dex, they are the best early-game classes. There isn’t really a reason why I should stick with this game instead of jumping to something critically-acclaimed in my backlog, but somehow I just can’t stop. The game is…so average it’s addicting? It’s pretty stress free, since I’m at the point where storyline battles no longer pose a challenge to me, but I can still easily level champions due to their broken skill than can pretty much wipe the map.
Two years ago when I played the prequel, 999, I was thoroughly impressed by the true ending. Virtue’s Last Reward jumped from being merely impressive to utterly mind-blowing. Needless to say, VLR blows its prequel out of the water and sets up for something much larger than I originally imagined. I have actually lost sleep over this game, which is not something I can say about most games, even for some of my absolute favorites (by “losing sleep,” I mean I slept for 3 hours and in those 3 hours I dreamt about myself playing the game).
When someone told me that the Japanese liked to call Idea Factory by the nickname “Idea Fuck,” they weren’t kidding. It’s one thing if a game is horrid from beginning to end, but having a great aspect ruined by various badly-designed mechanics feels like a critical hit to the privates. Now, taking that analogy, imagine dating a girl. She’s hot, and fun to be with, and you really want to like her. However, her favorite past-time is kicking you in the nads (sexual or not is up to your interpretation) with her pointed-toe high heel shoes and she is incapable of listening to your protests. Well? Do you still put up with her? Or do you dump her and try to find a girl who you get along with equally well, but doesn’t come with the nad-kicking hobby? If you chose the former, Blazing Souls Accelate might be for you. If the latter, then by all means skip this game.
I may have the social decency to pretend to be a polite teenager in front of random relatives instead of being glued to my handheld device like how I normally am, but dammit I need games for the airplane ride because how on Earth do I not play games during such a time where the games are begging to be played and my thumbs have to move? Also, because Chinese internet is slow and an ass to foreign sites, I’ll need my games to substitute for the net.
…And look, I’m bringing 6 games for my 2-week stay just to satisfy my terrible attention span! Although with most vacations, I end up bringing a bunch of games and only touching 1 or 2 because I’m hooked to them and a lot less ADD than I imagine myself to be. I’ve got my Ao no Kiseki, but in the case I need a break from that, I brought along Blazing Souls (SRPG I was playing before Ao arrived), Star Ocean (ARPG, in case I’m twitching for action) and Warriors of the Lost Empire (bought for $6 entirely on a whim, saw “hack and slash” on the back and thought this might just be short enough for my airplane trips). Also I’m flying from Canada to China and I highly doubt my PSP is going to last a double-digit amount of hours, so I brought along my DSLite. I’ve got Devil Survivor 2 in case my SRPG needs come up, and Glory of Heracles for a generic, easy turn-based game that I will play when watching airplane movies because I need to twiddle my thumbs.
As you’ve probably guessed, having nothing to do on an airplane trip is my nightmare. There was this one time 3 years ago where I was flying home from China, and my PSP ran out of batteries and so did my DS because I forgot to charge it. Even my iPod died on me, and the airplane movies either weren’t interesting, or I had watched on the trip to China. It was a terrible experience. Trying to sit still without some kind of distraction was a disaster, and I ended up eating 5 cups of instant noodles back-to-back because I was bored.
Because I don’t have a lot to post about recently, I guess I’ll make a report on stuff that I didn’t bother finishing. I’ll be heading to China next Wednesday so I’ll likely be gone for 2 weeks if The Great Firewall of China interferes. I don’t think I’ll be able to post anything while I’m in China anyways. Not even sure if relatives have wi-fi in their house. No consoles for at least 2 weeks, but I’ll be bringing along my handhelds because I never leave the house without them. I don’t have anything new to review since I’ve been going at Ao no Kiseki slowly (I’m trying to make this game last! There isn’t anything out after Ao no Kiseki at the time of writing, so I’m gonna savour this game!) and anything else that’s on PSP has been pushed aside to a pause. Without adieu, here is a list of games that I didn’t bother continuing.
Wild Arms 3 – It’s been like what, a year since I last played it? I couldn’t get into it. I liked the unusual cast and the Wild West setting is pretty cool, but the combat and puzzles didn’t grab me. I got spoiled by the hex system, and possibly the linearity of WA4. The story also hasn’t picked up.
Phantom Brave – I like NIS games. I like SRPGs. But I cannot like this game for some reason. The lack of grids on the maps makes things less organized, and the characters tend to slip or waste their time jumping, so they’ll never move where you want them to. Each unit having a turn limit doesn’t help. I wanted to like this game, but I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’ll give it another try in the future, since I have it on PSP and I’m much more tolerant when it comes to handheld games.
La Pucelle: Tactics – There’s a reason why people tell you to play the Disgaea series in order. The plot and characters are subjective, but the gameplay gets better with each installment. Most people who played Disgaea 2 on the PSP couldn’t go back to the first game afterwards. La Pucelle is essentially Disgaea 0 in gameplay – a less polished SRPG. I think I enjoyed it better than Phantom Brave, but I’ve still put it on pause because I’ve got other games in the backlog I want to play.
D. C. Da Capo – The legendary moe-ge that everybody knows. I didn’t even get past the common route because I found it to be real dull. I’m usually pretty good at pulling myself through long common routes, but in Da Capo it wasn’t even funny or charming so I stopped. The music isn’t outstanding, and the art clearly shows its age. Another reason I didn’t continue is probably because I watched both seasons of the anime long ago, back when harem anime was still fresh (I know, I know) and the scenario seemed original. There are plenty of media that were really good when they first came out, but their age clearly shows now. The only reason why I decided to try it out is because I liked Kotori and didn’t like how the anime went with Nemu, but my love for her died down through the years. I liked the rest of the cast back when I watched the anime, but not so much now. Maybe I would have played further if I could play the vn right after finishing the anime, like what I did with Clannad.
Blazing Souls Accelate – I still like this game, I just put it aside for Ao no Kiseki after reaching a battle where I’m too underleveled to get a move in and have to grind. I’ll be continuing this game after Ao, or when I feel like I need a bit of variety in China.
Oh yeah, and here’s an obligatory currently playing report, because that is what you do when you have nothing to do.
Ao no Kiseki – sdfdsfkdhdhdkghkgfdsflibfdlkadgh;fshgfdof;dsjfldskldsfjdklfskladhf *mashes keyboard uncontrollably* I MISSED YOU, CROSSBELL. ALSO OLIVIER AND KLOSE SFHKDFHKDHKFDKDVNKLDV DFJDFKDFKJFJESHK. RANDY SDKLFKLDSLDS BROS KJSDFDSKSDLF I THINK I’VE TAKEN A LIKING TO WAZY SDFKJDFLLS NOEL YOU FABULOUS MOB CLEANER YOU AND YOUR AOE NORMAL ATTACK DSJFHDSFHDKLSD CAN’T WAIT FOR TIO TO COME BACK KJDNFLKDFLDFSPD
Glory of Heracles – Got this for $5 new, thought you can’t go wrong with $5. It’s okay so far, certainly on the easy side. I’ll see how this continues. I’ve enjoyed some lines like “I found out I was immortal after my dad threw me off a cliff” “That’s some great parenting right there”
Devil Survivor 2 – Will be going at this slowly, I’m always slow with SRPGs. I’ve never found Devil Survivor to be OMFG amazing. SMT will always be better as a dungeon crawler for me.
SMT: Nocturne – Starting this on hard on my first playthrough is probably a bad idea, but I think I was enjoying the fact that I died in the very first dungeon (where you are solo) multiple times. Hopefully I won’t become a masochist after this. Also, starting this right before I head to China might not be such a good idea…
The way you make progress in the story is kusoge-levels of bad. Why the fuck would anyone make such a stupidly redundant way of unlocking new areas when you have the fool-proof method of making new locations appear as the plot demands? I don’t understand. If they gave us a simple list of available locations like Disgaea, this game would actually be great (judging from what I’ve experienced so far). But no, automatically unlocking new areas as the plot demands is too mainstream, apparently.
You basically start off with 2 locations on the world map: the place where you had your first mandatory plot battle, and a town you go to for various facilities. Any area that has a event scene will be marked by a star. What do you do when there are no more event scenes in either location? You search for new areas in hope that they are accompanied by an event (and they usually are, when you first find them). How do you find new areas? You have to go to the Guild to perform a search. You will be brought to the world map, where you can move a cursor around and press the X button to check if there’s a location on the part of the map that your cursor is pointing to. That’s right, you manually search the map, and it doesn’t help that the map is blurry as heck and you can barely tell whether something is supposed to be a landmark or not. Oh yeah, performing a search costs WP, and you can only search in unlocked sections of the map (unlocking new sections of the world map also costs WP). Even if you fail and find nothing, your WP will still be used up. To make things worse, WP is a rather scarce currency, obtainable only by some event sequences, completing a “collection,” or converting from CP.
The event sequences that give WP are limited, of course. The WP you get from completing collections are also limited, as there are only so many collections to fill out (difficulty varies, from “getting 8 slime jellies” to “collecting every type of weapon”). Converting CP to WP is the only way to get more of the latter should you screw up, and you only get CP for every chain combo in battle that is a multiple of 50. It’s not like you get a lot either, I got up to around 70 for my combo, and received a measly 2 CP. There’s also other things you can acquire by using CP, making it all the more precious. The solution? Save an reload lots when searching. Or use a guide.
Oh, and even if you use a guide and find the correct location, it’s not like the search will succeed either. To successfully find a new location, you need to hear a rumour about it first in the Guild. No rumour, no location. You start with some default rumours, but to get more you’ll need new aliases. To acquire those, you’ll need to complete some of the aforementioned collections. The problem is, the game doesn’t ever tell you what alias you need to get the rumour to find the next location that has a story sequence, so you’re stuck trying to fill out collections in hopes that they are the right ones unless you use a guide. I had several moments where I had unlocked all of the locations found in currently available rumours, did all the events I could up to that point, and had no idea what to do next because no new rumours were coming up so I couldn’t search for new locations even if I knew where they are. I had to look it up on the GameFAQs forums, only to find out that I needed to get more Slime Jellies to complete a collection and get a new alias in order for one new rumour to appear.
What the hell. Just what the fuck. I would have dropped the game normally, but the battles are really fun so I’m continuing. It’s an SRPG, and the amount of options and customization is great to experiment with. It’s the same feeling I had when I first played Disgaea: refreshing and endless. Hopefully that continues, and the shitty plot progression doesn’t ruin the game for me. I really like the battles. The plot hasn’t gone anywhere so far, but I do like the main party. The protagonist is a cold jerk and everyone else is pretty much pissed at him all the time, making for some fun to watch dynamics. Also, wasn’t the title Blazing Souls Accelerate? Why did Aksys change it to Accelate, which isn’t a real word and doesn’t make sense? This puzzles me. It’s not like the word “Accelate” attracts customers more than “Accelerate.”
Since I posted each route separately, I might as well make an index post that links to the walkthrough of each route. I just followed the walkthrough on otome.girly.jp and translated the choices to the localized version.
There are a total of 6 routes. You can play them in any order, but I’d suggest Hijikata’s route for last because it is the longest and sticks with the Shinsengumi ’til the end. It’s pretty much the “true” route.
Since this is a pretty long game and has 6 routes, I’ll be posting the walkthrough route-by-route. I pretty much just translated from a Japanese guide so it should be right.
Kazama’s route is entered by picking your choices evenly so you don’t get close to anyone in the Shinsengumi, and the normal end (AKA end up with no one end) branches from his route at the end. You do get CG for the normal end, so if you’re a completionist then go for it.