Turns out I wasn’t too far away from the end in Play Report (1). In fact I was only about two playthroughs from the end, since the amount of repetition this game has actually makes the true ending very easy to get. It also helps that Vivi happened to be just there in the first dungeon I entered on my true ending playthrough and I managed to recruit her, never having time problems ever again.
I haven’t reached the second half of the game yet but I did do four “playthroughs” so I felt like I should write something here. I’m trying to clear Vivi’s request on the 5th (current) round but if I fuck up I’m not sure if I want to play another round to try and unlock the real deal events.
Wow I slacked off for 3 months because I was playing games and hopping onto a new game immediately instead of writing anything. This is the way life is supposed to be; I was born to play games not write blog posts about them.
Refrain is a dungeon RPG by NIS, developed by the same team who did Majo to Hyakkihei (also known as The Witch and the Hundred Knight in English). I didn’t play the latter (but I sure plan to thanks to Refrain!) so I don’t really have any grounds for comparison.
NIS may be know for their Disgaea series or various RPGs that encourage grinding and obtaining highly inflated stats, but they’ve also had a history with publishing adventure games (or rather, visual novels) for the console audience…not that many of them have gone west or even gained recognition beyond a small but dedicated fanbase. For their 20th anniversary, they made an adventure game in collaboration with a local television broadcasting station, with Kiyohara Hiro (artist of the Another manga) as the character designer. Tokushuu Houdoubu puts the player behind a video camera lens as Yuhara Ryou, a new member of the Special Report Division where they chase after the occult and supernatural occurrences.
I did one out of the three routes in the game and decided to write something about it, since it’s unlikely that I’ll go back for the others.
The official genre is “Women and Money Simulation,” which is more or less spot-on with the exception that you don’t really do any simulation with the “women” part outside of the first month since you have to pick a girl early on and stick with her for the rest of the game. You’re an unnamed blacksmith fated to die in exactly one year due to an incurable disease. Since you’re going to die soon, why not just use the time you have left to play around and be irresponsible with your life? …Or so an agent of the 嬢郭 (Red Light District-like place) says, introducing you to three beautiful ladies who work there.
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 Arland games get more lenient with time-management each installment. I managed to get the Normal end, Good end, both endings involving Rorona, and one of the Strong Meruru ends (lost terribly to Masked G). I also reached level 50, but that isn’t so hard this time around with enemies that are over level 50. You can even get to lvl 99 if you build the statue. Boss fights got harder, they actually feel like legit boss battles where you have to craft good equipment and bring lots of healing items and utilize buffs/debuffs. I kind of miss the old days where I could just make a Terabomb with Explosion Damage and Narrow Range, register it, and wipe the floor with it. The strongest boss in Rorona went down in 2 Terabombs lol. Attacking items in Meruru feel severely nerfed, although it was going down that path since Totori.
For those too intimidated by deadlines to play the Atelier series, rejoice as Meruru has one mandatory deadline that is pretty much impossible to miss unless you do absolutely jack shit for 3 years. I found it to be the easiest of the Arland trilogy for the first playthrough. It’s also got the most polished gameplay, and not surprisngly, the nicest graphics. Man, Gust has come a long way since Rorona. I remember playing that and not caring for the music, but I’ve grown to like the soundtrack since Totori. The main disappointment with Meruru is the fact that there are no character endings. You’ve got the friendship events and a CG event at 80 friendship, but you don’t get actual endings with anyone bar 2 Rorona-based endings. The 10 endings are the general “what happened to the kingdom/Meruru’s life” ones. Ever played Atelier Annie? Yeah, the endings are like the ones in that.
As for characters, Meruru is awesome. Moreso in some endings than others. I find her to be the most awesome Arland alchemist, although Totori wins for hnnnnnnng level. Rorona is now a loli because Japan don’t want 30-year-old Rorona, despite the fact that Kishida Mel’s 40-year-olds still look 20 so I don’t see why anyone complains about it. He could have just palette-swapped 22-year-old Rorona’s outfit and voila! If 2ch is anything to go by, people actually prefer older Rorona. Gust, Japan might like lolis, but they also like tits!
Sterk is badass as usual, with an awesome special move where he cuts the moon. Mimi has grown since the last game and is even more delicious now with higher grade zettai ryouiki. Esty is awesome, with high speed and AoE normal attack. エスティさん意外と萌え！Totori returns looking just as flat-chested as ever, with a calmer voice. Gino clearly looks older, but keeps his shota voice which isn’t very fitting. Also, apparently Peter has a wife!? So in Arland, it’s only playable characters who are forever alone. Seems legit. Oh yeah, and those composer comments are freaking hilarious.
The True ending and Popular ending are only available on New Game+. Since it’s summer and all, time to do another playthrough!