This is the sequel to the first Ar Tonelico and improves upon it in almost every way possible. Although it does tell a standalone story, playing the games in order is still recommended because the worldview in the series is very intricate and terms and locations are expanded on from AT1. Either way, the fantasy sci-fi setting is highly detailed and the dynamics between the heroines are better.
Waifus and music: the RPG, from Gust. Since it’s Gust, expect some sort of unconventional customization system (even if it’s not hardcore alchemy). As soon as I finished this game, I went out and bought the second and third game online, so that in itself is pretty clear indication of how I feel about the game.
While being from the company most well-known for their alchemy RPGs starring female protagonists, Ar Tonelico plays more like a standard RPG centered around a guy’s journey to save the world. The progression is like a normal RPG with none of the Atelier games’ time-based system, but there is still an item-crafting system and flexible equipment and magic customization. The battle system is also worth noting in that while it is not as fast-paced and exciting as the Mana Khemia series, it has its own distinct take on magic that differs from the more standard turn-based battle systems other Atelier games have.
I managed to spend a lot less money this year, which means more money for importing games. I severely cut back on the impulse purchases, and that’s not due to an increased self-control level either. I think my main interests have been getting more and more niche each year, and I’ve been doing more importing/online shopping so I own almost all the existing English 7th-gen games I really want. Nevertheless, I did buy some goods:
Sora no Kiseki FC & SC Special Collection Book
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…
Because I realized my backlog is not decreasing at all and yet there’s still so many games I want to own, I’m gonna make a to-play list so I know exactly what I will play next. C’mon, I can do this! Clear that backlog! I’ll go by the no buying until I clear 2 games rule, with the following exceptions that I will get:
1) Atelier Meruru (because Atelier games I will always get)
2) Pokemon Black/White 2 (because main Pokemon game I will always get)
3) Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (preordered already)
Here’s the stuff I’m playing right now:
1) Conception: Ore no Kodomo o Unde Kure!
2) Legend of Heroes III: The Song of the Ocean
3) Hoshizora no Memoria (eroge)
To play, console ver.
1) Valkyria Chronicles – I’ve played this on-and-off for like half a year. I actually like the gameplay a lot, but I prefer playing it in short bursts instead of sitting in front of the TV for 5 hours
2) Skies of Arcadia – started this for a few hours, then got distracted. I remember really wanting this game a while back and spending my first large sum of commission money on a used copy. I definitely should continue, for the sake of my commission money.
3) Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne – I need my dungeon crawling. I think I’ll save this for the summer break.
4) Xenosaga I & III – missing second game, but there’s always Youtube. I’ve had the first game for a long time, but never started because I didn’t have the rest of the trilogy. I got the 3rd game last Christmas in the US, so I should start on this.
5) Arc Rise Fantasia – what I shall play if I miraculously finish all of the above before the year ends.
To play, handheld ver.
1) Phantom Brave – started, got distracted, didn’t touch again. I think I lost a battle the last time I played and figured I needed grinding, but then got lazy and played something else.
2) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 – I need my demon fusing dose.
3) Riviera: The Promised Land – so that I don’t end up playing too many SRPG in a row and get burnt out, I need a standard turn-based game here.
4) Blazing Souls: Accelate – Bought on sale in USA, I need to play some more non-NIS SRPGs because variety is good. I don’t think I’ve touched an SRPG not made by NIS on the PSP yet…
5) Phantasy Star Portable – Action RPGs because I need to play some of those once in a while or else my reflexes will dull.
6) Final Fantasy II
7) Wild Arms XF
8) Valkyria Chronicles II
To play. eroge ver.
1) D.C. Da Capo
2) Saihate no Ima
…and that should keep me occupied for the rest of the year and even more. I won’t necessarily play in that order, but close enough. With eroge, I don’t really need a plan as I’ll just play whatever I feel like. Come to think of it, I’ll get a bunch of PC games when I go to China in the summer too…
Oh yeah, and next week is Anime North! I’ll hopefully get a lot of 3DS streetpasses. I’ll also be going to the visual novel panel, definitely. Then when I come back I’ll have to start working on my damn painful physics car project.
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…
Well, since my game decided to die on me after I finally beat the freaking last boss on my 7th or so attempt, I just decided to Youtube the ending. I don’t feel like going through the hell that I went through today anymore, since it’s probably gonna take a bunch of attempts again. I’m too lazy to grind so that I actually have a better chance of beating the boss (currently lvl 42 for Jude, Yulie and Arnaud, lvl 46 Raquel) since I’ve got a huge backlog of games to finish.
Wild Arms 4 is developed by Media.Vision and published by XSeed. I haven’t played any previous Wild Arms game before, although I do have a recently bought copy of WA3 that looks very new and shiny despite being used. Anyway, the game stars a shota named Jude who lives in his doomed hometown Ciel. He lives with his mom and his dad isn’t here. Pretty typical-sounding beginning. So one day, Jude sees the sky literall crack open and some military ships come in through the crack. They set up a campsite there so Jude decides to investigate further. He goes inside, sees Yulie (the main heroine of the game), and is surprised because he has never seen a girl before. Wat. So like the traditional hero he is, he promises to get her out of her cell upon seeing her. Then he wanders around, finds a dude in another cell and frees him. His name is Arnaud, and he joins your party. So some more stuff happen, you break Yulie out, and the people basically take the villagers hostage. It turns out they’re looking for an ARM, which is really just a magical gun sort of thing that doesn’t have unlimited bullets, even during gameplay. So they dig out the ARM and Jude grabs it and is able to use it. So he’s like “Lol I haz a gun nao” and it goes out of control. Yulie has the power to control ARMs (reason why them army soldiers are after a loli) and calms Jude down. Then the villagers all escape Ciel using escape pods that bring them to the main continent of Filgaia. It turns out that Ciel is some kid of floating city thing in the shape of a sphere with its own sky. Jude, Yulie, and Arnaud land in the sea and they float to the shore. One dungeon later, they arrive at Port Rosalia and meets their fourth party member, Raquel. Together, they decide to travel because Jude wants to meet up with the other villagers and wants to figure out what the hell is going on, Yulie has army dudes after her, Arnaud is bored and has nothing better to do, and Raquel wants to see the beautiful things in the world.
This game is very fun, yet extremely irritating at the same time. Battle takes place in the HEX system, which is basically a field of 7 hexagons and the enemies and your party members are spread randomly (unless it’s a boss battle). You can move around in the 7 hexes, but only to an adjascent hex with no enemy characters in it. You can also attack an adjascent hex, or use skills which have varying areas of effects. This system is strangely addicting and incredibly fun. The battle difficulty isn’t very consistent though–I found the first few boss fights decently challenging and they seemed to increase in difficulty, but then afterwards they started getting easier and easier. Most of the fights that you expect to be hard are very easy. I usually had more trouble with the random encounter battles than most of the boss fights.
As much as I want to have babies with the HEX system, there also many, many frustrating things about this game that made me want to throw down my controller in traditional ragequit style. First of all, those puzzles and platforming elements. The puzzles themselves aren’t so bad and I can tolerate them, but the platforming parts are what almost broke the game for me. Some of the platforms you can’t even jump onto unless you’re at a VERY specific angle/position. The annoying camera angle just keeps changing so the jumping distance becomes difficult to tolerate, and sometimes you can’t even se what up next because the camera’s view is from the front and Jude is essentially running towards the viewer. You cannot change camera angles, and they’re stuck at pretty annoying angles for a lot of maps. The most tolerable view is certainly side view. If it weren’t for the platforming, I would have enjoyed the game much more.
On another rage worthy note, for a game that’s incredibly easy up until the second last boss, the final boss is a complete bitch. And the final dungeon is really slow for grinding, so even if it’s completely my fault for taking it on 10 levels before when most people did it, there’s no way for me to get to the right level without grinding like crazy. Other than that, this game really does require zero grinding. If my game didn’t go and die on me right after I beat the last boss, I would’ve beaten it at around 29-30 hours.
Despite all the cliches in the story, I actually throughly enjoyed it. The plot is quick-paced, direct, and never slows down. It kept my interest all the way through, despite being able to predict most of the twists. The dialogue is irritating at times since no one ever shuts up about the differences between a kid and an adult, but I let it go. The story is clearly on the idealistic side of the spectrum, but the rather realistic ending for such a happy game focusing on the bonds of friendship sure surprised me.
All in all, the story is well paced, and I felt that it was nicely executed. Don’t expect some sort of masterpiece that can make a grown man cry, or a truly shocking plot.
Over the course of the game, I actually got attatched to the characters. They’re nothing out of the ordinary and seem like a typical modern RPG party (courageous hero + healer girl + tall, smart dude + sword girl), but they do have their charms. Again, don’t expect anything revolutionary and you’ll be fine. I liked Raquel the most for her high damage output and overall awesomeness. Arnaud also comes out high on my list for his extremely useful support and a certain cutscene in the game where he killed the boss who seemed to never be able to die by sending several airplanes at him =D
I wish the game had cutscenes animated like the opening sequence. The 3D models are lazily done and have SQUARE FINGERS. An emotional scene can turn to Narm due to the models. Sometime they look right, and other times they don’t. The backgrounds are nothing special, although I did find the cave facing the sunset at Port Rosalia quite beautiful. At least the dungeons aren’t copypasta environments for the most part. The grachics aren’t the best, but they’re certainly tolerable. Most of the dungeons look grim and dark, but justified since there was a longass 78 year war that went on in Filgaia.
I don’t really remember most of the tracks; they just weren’t very memorable. And even if the voice acting is laughable for the most part, the vocals sound really nice (in English!). The last form of the final boss was wonderful since they played the extended version of the opening there instead of the usual boss-like themes. The English singer did a great job. Yulie also sings nicely in cutscenes.
Wild Arms 4 was an entertaining game that didn’t drag out at all. It’s got a great battle system, but I would’ve preferred it with no platforming elements since they were badly done and not fun at all. Still, I kept going with the hopes of a fun and challenging boss fight. At the end, I finally got my long fight, although it came more as a slap to the face since everything was so easy before. The game could’ve done with steadily increasing difficulty rather than the increasingly easy bosses until the last. Oh yeah, and I think I learned my lesson of buying too many used games. Screw you, stupid disc that encounters errors at the worst moment possible.
Anyways, this is a quick RPG that can be played without absorbing 100+ hours of your life and requires almost no grinding except for maybe the final boss (unless you actually want to do what I did and jump in at level 42). The game is extremely linear and offers no world map exploration, so the main draw would be the battles and maybe story. It’s so linear you can’t go back to previous towns and areas until the end where you get an airplane. By the end, I mean right before the final dungeon. There’s not a lot of side quests, although I heard mentions of several extra bosses. Maybe one day when I feel nostalgic, I’ll go fight the final boss again and pray that the game doesn’t freeze or loop or whatever.
Fucking retarded disc went into a loop AFTER I BEAT THE FINAL BOSS. Fuck, I now respect catridges with all my might because it doesn’t freeze or loop unless you yank the thing out of the system and it won’t go crazy because of a tiny scratch. Seriously, WHY RIGHT AFTER THE FINAL BOSS!? And for a game that was ridiculously easy 90% of the time, the final boss was sure a bitch. Took me like 3 tries to beat the second form, and like 5+ tries to beat the last one, 2 of which I died when I was supposed to gather everyone to use Arc Impulse for one last time. Granted I was under leveled and never upgraded my equips, but everything before it was freaking easy too. So when I finally beat the thing’s ass up, I was like “THANK FREAKING CHRIST LET’S WATCH THE ATTACK ANIMATION SINCE IT’S THE END” and boom…right after the thing got defeated, the game dropped me in a pit of blackness and looped it continuously. When I opened the status menu and closed it again, the thing didn’t disappear but you could still run and jump.
*sigh* I beat the boss due to luck anyways. I guess it’s time to grind to at least 50 and pray that the thing doesn’t die on me again.
Ouch, I remember my impulse buying of old PS2 games last summer, and I’ve still got some on my backlog. Seeing as how I’ve gotta work on my visual novel, Jack Atlus figure, and current games, it’s impossible for me to beat them all by 2011.
Mana Khemia II (Started)
Wild Arms 4 (Started)
Xenosaga I (Pretty high on priority list aside from stuff I already started)
La Pucelle Tactics (Started)
Final Fantasy XII (Eh…I don’t really follow Final Fantasy)
Dragon Quest VIII (Same here, although I might just play it because I liked DQ IX)
.hack//Mutation (Not really interested in .hack, but I’ll play when I run out of games)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist of the Roses (OTL I’m never gonna finish this, considering I’ll get Tag Force 5, 2011 AKA stuff that actually follow the rules and make sense)
Pokemon Colloseum (Started, although not really liking the system much)
Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (Will get around to it eventually)
Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life (The guys are do not want)
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Low priority, something I probably won’t get around to playing)
Tokimeki Memorial 4 (Playing right now, 7/12 girls done)
Zettai Hero Project (Will pick up the pace after TM4)
Chrono Trigger (Not too much interest in Squeenix)
Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar (Yeah…I’ll get around to it…soon…)
PC Visual Novels:
Cross Channel (Playing right now)
Little Busters! (Partial patch, so I’ll play it later)
Da Capo (Gonna play soon)
Fate/Stay Night (I actually never finished it OTL)
G-Senjou no Maoh (Will ditch everything else to play this once the patch somes out)
Yeah…I’m actually running out of things to play on the DS and I don’t really feel like playing Chrono Trigger. My next game will probably be Ghost Trick, which I’ll complete pretty quickly since it isn’t an RPG. Radiant Historia and Championship 2011 will last me until Pokemon Black, which can last me the rest of the year if I really stretch it (still playing Pearl). PSP-wise, ZHP and Tag Force 5 will last me a long while. My next galge will most likely be The IDOLMASTER since I’ve got my eyes on that, unless Dream C Club comes out in Bargain Edition. I refuse to buy anything for the PS2 until I beat at least Mana Khemia II and Wild Arms 4, unless I see a copy of Digital Devil Saga or something. The stuff I have on Wii and Gamecube are last resort.
Seeing my backlog, I’m probably more suited to handheld gaming rather than consoles. I keep getting dragged around OTL
If you frequent a certain Chinese otoge forum then you may already know this, but they’ve finished translating the PS2 version of Hiiro no Kakera. If your computer is powerful enought to run the PS2 emulator (I think this new laptop of mine is), then go and grab the patched ISO from otomedream.com!
You don’t need an account for it, so don’t worry about having to post enough for points.
According to the bottom of the first post, the PSP patch should come out soon.
I love the Chinese fan translation scene. Not are tons of text-heavy PC games translated, they’re even tackling portable and console games! Maybe it’s the amount of fans for these genres that make them fast, or maybe they’ve just got more drive since there aren’t many game localization companies in China? I haven’t seen many official Chinese games at all, about 99% of what I see is fan translations.