Did you enjoy how the Xillia bosses were either massive walls with loads of HP, broke out of your combos effortlessly every few seconds, or both? Well I sure didn’t like it when my battles amounted to endurance tests, so Tales of Hearts R was a wonderful breather by offering well-balanced bosses (for the most part) that you can pull off good combos on without turning into absolute punching bags. It’s fast-paced, more responsive than the console games, and places a strong emphasis on aerial game. Marrying features of older games and mechanics of newer ones, it manages to make a simpler and less flashy system as fun as Xillia 2 through good controls. This is a 3D remake of the 2D DS game, which means a complete overhaul of the battle system.
I haven’t touched the post-game dungeon yet so it’s probably hard to call this a full review, but for now here are my thoughts upon getting the ending.
Xillia 2 was a much-needed sequel due to the rushed nature of the first game, and improves on it quite a bit while also trying things that are new for the Tales franchise. They made the protagonist Ludger a silent MC that the player has control over dialogue choices with. Think Persona 3 and 4’s protagonists, except Ludger himself is more established personality- and action-wise . At first I wasn’t a fan of the departure, but I ended up liking Ludger a lot so I guess Namco’s experimentation worked out.
Tales of Hearts is the last released 2D Tales game, made by Team Destiny. Tt feels a lot like a 2D prototype of Tales of Graces, so I enjoyed it a whole lot. It shares the general light-hearted atmosphere, theme about human bonds, and doesn’t use TP in battle.
Preparing for university sucks, and I can’t wait for March when most of this shit is going to be over. Damn portfolio preparations. I could also do with a little less pride and bear with shittier school marks considering my first choice is a college with a average grade requirement of 65%, but parents want me to go into some program that will actually get me a job (like engineering!) and if I don’t apply for university, they are probably going to flip their shit and make what little left of my childhood into complete hell. I mean that figuratively, not Disagea’s Netherworld. Either way, I have all my painful courses this semester (full of projects and evaluations where I actually have to do things other than calculate on a piece of paper), and how I miss the time when I could just play games.
School is terrible, university/college will probably be much worse, and employment…well, I’ve gotta stop assuming that I’ll actually land myself a job once I get out of post-secondary education. Not with my non-existent people skills and motivation. Welp, since I’ve been angsting like hell over school and stuff, I haven’t been finishing many things.
Let’s see, games I recently played:
That’s right. It’s 2012, I can read enough Moonrunes to understand most games, and piracy for PSP games is rampant on the internet (…and it’s not like I don’t partake in such less-than-legal activities). By standard logic, I should have played Radiant Mythology 3, which is said to be the best in the RM series and actually involves a good number of characters from Tales games I’ve played or have watched Let’s Plays for. It has been stated several times on message boards that if there is one Radiant Mythology game that is actually worth playing, it’s the third one. However, I am known to throw away logic at times when I shouldn’t, so my “play games in chronological/release order” mindset kicked in here of all places, and I ended up grabbing a copy of the English version of Radiant Mythology 1 for $10 to begin my venture into the Radiant Mythology games.
I’m 20 hours in, and this game is damn FUN. I still prefer Graces’ battle system because CC >>>>>>> TP and there’s no side-stepping here, but there’s a lot of fun new mechanics that make me WANT to go into random battles. You know a game is doing it right when you actually LIKE fighting normal enemies. Boss fights, however, are rather frustrating. I’m playing on hard, and damn these bosses are annoying. The first boss was alright, but I ran out of all healing items by the end and Milla was dead (and you don’t have a proper healer at this time yet). The second boss I managed to knock him down to low HP before he started summoning mooks like crazy and I ran out of TP recovery items. I said “fuck this shit” and lowered the difficulty. The fact that it takes place in a dark area makes it more frustrating to dodge. Third boss was fine until I ran out of items when it was at very low HP, then it proceeded to murder me because none of my allies can dodge. Fourth boss was fine, since it was a one-on-one fight with Jude with no crappy ally AI, so I just had to learn the boss’ attack patterns.
I have a feeling this is gonna turn out like Abyss. Frustrating at first because you keep running out of TP, but much better later on when you can afford Pineapple Gels. Unfortunately, I still can’t buy Pineapple Gels in bulk without murdering my wallet. Jude is also extremely fun to play as, because of his awesome ability where if he backsteps an enemy attack at the right moment, he will teleport to behind the enemy. His attacks are also fast, which makes him very enjoyable to control. For a doctor, he sure is good at beating people up. Alvin plays more like your standard Tales hero with the sword and all, but he has a charge ability that increases attack power and changes some of his artes. Then there’s Milla, who I really, really want to marry.
Those delicious thighs…She has a bunch of elemental spells, but her ability makes it so that if you hold X, she casts, but mashing X will cause her to do close-range elemental artes that have no casting time. She is my favorite to use because I can hit enemy weak points like crazy, but she’s out of commission right now so I had to get used to Jude. Elise is the healer, which means I’ll never play as her for the first playthrough because I will forget to heal my allies. Rowen is a standard caster with lots of spells, but fragile defenses. I just got Leia, who seems to be a thief character with healing artes better than Jude, magic, and physical artes? Seems to be a jack of all trades.
Aside from each character having a unique ability, there’s also the partnering system. Basically you can link yourself to another character, and they will have a useful support skill. You can also perform a powerful combined Arte with your partner. Jude’s skill is Recover, which basically heals you when you are knocked down (and brings you back up). Milla can bind enemies (even bosses), Alvin can guard break, Rowen will give you and him and anyone close-by auto-magic guard (VERY useful), Elise drain enemy HP I think (never paid much attention to what it does exactly), and I haven’t used Leia enough to know what she does. I think she steals.
Plot is taking off decently, but it has slowed down a bit where I’m at. I think I like world design better than Graces, but it’s less interesting than Abyss (so far). I like all the party members, so that’s a plus. The fact that there’s at least 3 characters that are fun to play as even on first playthrough is great.
tl;dr: Fun game is fun.
I realized that once I enjoy a game, I will immediately seek out as many games in the same series as possible. After Xillia I might even look into some of the older Tales games (although I’m iffy about Tales without either Free Run or side-stepping), or the PS3 version of Vesperia since I heard it’s getting a The Best edition which will make it cost like $50 instead of $80+ to import. Thank Sony the PS3 is region-free.
Finally, I completed the Gagharv trilogy with Song of the Ocean! I must say, that was a strong conclusion to a truly epic trilogy that definitely needs more love. The Gagharv trilogy may be plagued with a unsatisfactory translation and slow and boring battle system, but I just can’t label them as bad. It’s interesting, really. There are many objectively well-designed games that I feel nothing towards, yet I like this flawed trilogy so much. Dammit Falcom, never stop making games.
Fabulous game is fabulous. Beat the game at 50 hours, didn’t do many sidequests since I’m pretty terrible at finding them and didn’t want to look at a guide for the first playthrough. I eventually got used to the battle system, and it ended up being really fun even if it wasn’t as smooth as Graces. The FoF rings are a cool concept and I still have complaints about bad ally AI, but the game became more balanced past the midway point so hard mode bosses weren’t as frustrating. A retry option or a cutscene skip would be a godsend, but this is a straight port of a 2006 game so there’s no point in nitpicking.
In terms of story, Abyss is better than Graces. The plot is more exciting, villains have clearer motives that actually make sense, and characters have more interesting backstories. The world in Abyss is also much more interesting than Graces. Characters interactions are awesome, but Graces has the funnier skits by far. Abyss has the better music.
My favorite character to control is Guy, since he gets a self-healing skill, a better variety of fonic artes, and is also faster than Luke. Final party was Guy, Tear, Natalia, and either Jade or Anise for last slot. The ally AI is especially bad when it comes to close-combat characters (reminds me of how I used to play action games: mindlessly mash attack and never dodge/guard). The final boss I managed to beat on Hard, but barely. I used up all my life bottles, Tear and Natalia died, and the boss does more damage in one hit than Guy could heal with center. I had to use the all-divide, and even then Jade still died.
Story-wise, I like Jade (dat trolling and dat sarcasm), Guy (fabulous friendship I like) and Tear (hnnnnnnng). Actually, I like everyone except for Luke. He goes from blunt brat who knows jack shit about the world to insecure dude with an inferiority complex almost overnight. I hate overly-extended moments of insecurity in a main character. Yeah, he can feel like that during a major turning point, but for fuck’s sake, don’t wait until the very end to finally take a level in badass. I liked Luke at the end, but got annoyed at him for the majority of the game. A certain other redhead also pissed me off to no end.
I’m gonna do a replay, for the sidequests that I’ve missed and the extra dungeon. Replaying is always more fun on a handheld, due to portability. I’ll probably attempt it on Very Hard, with 2x exp.
Because I have nothing else to say right now.
1) Getting ready for Disgaea 4 by…playing Disgaea 3. I don’t want to just miss 1 game in the series and it cost $20, so I got it. There’s some new classes, but mages, warriors, female archer, female healer, male gunner, thief, and beastmaster have the same sprites from Disgaea 2. New skill system sucks because instead of gaining generic skills through leveling up weapon mastery, you now have to buy them with mana. They also get stronger by upgrading by paying mana. In other words, mage spells don’t become stronger or AoE until you pay up and the class feels extremely nerfed. Other than that, I’m having a blast. I like the cast better than Disgaea 2. Almaz is adorable~! His facial expressions are moe. Raspberyl is also adorable, and then we have our princess Sapphire who tried to open someone’s heart using a chainsaw…
I’ve been checking some sites, and it seems like NISA is bringing over the PSP version of Phantom Brave eeveryone’s been wanting, along with Neptune (named Hyperdimension Neptunia for NA release). There’s actually a lot of stuff I didn’t know about, so I’m compiling a list for upcoming RPG both NA and JPN release.
Japanese releases are in italics
Pokemon Black & White (Spring 2011, DS)
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (Feb 14 2011, DS) – This should probably go under another company, but it’s listed on Nintendo’s website and counts for Club Nintendo points so I put it here.
Valkyria Chronicles 3 (January 27 2011, PSP)
Radiant Historia (Feb 2011, DS)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Tsumi (March 3 2011, PSP)
The Little Battlers (March 17 2011, PSP)
Hyperdimension Neptunia (Feb 2011, PS3)
Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle (March 2011, PSP)
Ys I & II Chronicles (Feb 2011, PSP)
Rune Factory Oceans (2011, PS3 + Wii)
Tale of the Last Promise (TBA, PSP)
Black Rock Shooter: The Game (Summer 2011, PSP)
Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection (Spring 2011, PSP)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (February 15 2011, PSP)
Atelier Violet: Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (February 3 2011, PSP)
Tales of Xillia (2011, PS3)
Venus & Braves (TBA, PSP)
Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 3 (Feb 2011, PSP)
…actually, I don’t wanna see any more news of Namco Bandai stuff so I’ll stop here unless they’re releasing something in English.
I probably missed some stuff here and there, but I’m pretty sure that’s it so far for English releases and noteworth Japanese games. I’m interested in the Atelier games by Gust, and anything NISA decides to bring over is at least worth a look for me. I’ve already got Radiant Historia pre-ordered and I’ve got my fingers crossed for P2. I do like FFIV and Tactics Ogre seems to have a lot of praise so I’ll check out SqEnix this time. Level 5’s The Little Battlers seems interesting, but I’ll wait to see how it does first. Imageepoch’s game has permadeath so I’ll have to wait and see instead of rushing into things head first. Now that they’re partnering with NISA, I’m more relieved for the company’s games being localized.
On a side note, on the PSP dating sim scene, we’ve got Photo Kano (links to Siliconera article), where the PSP is like an in-game camera and you take pictures of the girls. The 3D seems to be very well done here, especially the girls’ expressions. I’m not too fond of such realistic hair tones though. I prefer crazy anime hair colors to just browns and blacks. One of the reasons why I’m interested in Dream Club more than other recent-ish dating sims is because they’ve got a variety of hair colors.