Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First Archimpressions: Injustice: Gods among us.

 It´s good. Really, really gooooooood.
 Just finished story-mode, it was great, albeit the comic implied a different... direction, the story was pretty good, despite some oddities(Superman shooting down cars, passenger included? Aquaman would fight Insurgency Superman but not Regime Superman?). As for the game itself, I love it. It´s fast, like, really really fast, much faster than Mortal Kombat, and I dig the speed. Other things I liked, is that Throw and Interact are button combinations, makes it easier to do on an Arcade Stick(seriously, having a separate button for throwing and enhancing in MK 9 was annoying, and MK VS DC? The horror...).
 The game´s most impressive feat, personally, is how they reworked the characters from MK VS DC. MK VS DC had awful and stiff animations and stupid attacks(Don´t let me get started on the stripper that cosplays as Wonder Woman...). Well, Injustice remade all the characters movements, and the animations are even better than MK 9. There´s still the one odd looking kick or punch, but they are the exception, heck, some animations, like getting hit by Aquaman´s trident, look incredibly fluid.
 So, yeah, awesome game, gonna keep on playin´, on tandem with Chrono Cross!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Sendoff: Chrono Cross

 So, the Uruguayan goverment is a piece of shit, they changed the importation laws, again, which means I won´t be able to get as many old games as before. Because Uruguay is known for selling original old games, right? It´s my fault that Shopping Center´s sales dropped by 6% since I been buying these easy to find(sarcasm) old PS1 games. Right. Fuck you, Uruguay, fuck you.
 Anyways, what better way to send off PS1Archile than with the game that inspired my first E-mail adress. A game I adored, which, at one point, held above Final Fantasy VII, of course, I speak of Chrono Cross.

Xenogears and Chrono Cross:
 I read that some of XG´s staff worked on Chrono Cross, and holy molly, how did I not notice before? Right from the start, check Fei´s or Serge´s bed, and he´ll take his "savings"(Called like so on both games) which amount to 200g. On both games. Combat? Up to 7 AP or 7.0 Stamina, with three different attacks, one that consumes 1 AP or 1.0 STA, one that costs 2 or 2.0 and another one take takes up 3 AP or 3.0 STA.
 And what about the fact that the fathers of both heroes turned into the personal antagonists of both, Graf and Lynx. And both of them saved their childs once, taking them to the village. "The" Village? Yup, both characters live in small villages, with a very rural look to them. There are probably many more similarities and shouts-outs, and I can´t wait to find them.

First Impressions:
 I´m not gonna lie... I wasn´t too impressed. I mean... I held this game so highly in my mind, but... it´s not as awesome as I remembered it. Maybe as I play more and unlock the special techs and get to customize my spells, maybe... but so far? Mediocre.
 Oh and the enemies look so silly. I remember feeling it back then too, on one of the many, many playthroughs I did through the game. Most enemies look pretty silly and harmless. Not a deal breaker, but I´d like meaner enemies.

Archview #25: Dragon Valor

 This is the most underrated PS1 game I´ve ever played. Ever.
 Dragon Valor is an action-adventure game which puts you in the role of a Dragon Valor, wielder of a magic Sword and slayer of Dragons. The game´s gimmick is that the story takes places among multiple generations of Dragon Valors. On paper it sounds kinda cool, but it could´ve been handled a bit better, but I´m getting ahead of myself.
 The game is divided in five chapters, each one has it´s own hero, the offspring of the previous character, and a dragon to defeat. Although the first chapter has alternate levels, as in, choose one stage over another, it´s the only one like so, the rest of the chapters offer no choice at all, bah, sometimes you can go to a shop before going to the next stage. One thing to keep in mind, is that you cannot backtrack at all, so be sure to collect all that is there to collect on a level before finishing it. Furthermore, you cannot return to the shops either, and these ones offer different services. They may buy your items, sell you items or trade items, but not  more than one service. Wether they buy, sell or trade, they only stock 3 different items, and you have to go through each one. Want to sell a harp? You are gonna have to say "No" to the previous 2 items, assuming it´s in the last slot, it´s very time consuming, which makes visiting shops quite a drag.
 Like the game itself, stages are very linear. There are a few forks every now and then, but probably puzzle related. There are puzzles, but most of them are pretty easy, and are a mixture of block pushing, switch pressing, lever turning and key finding. There are also numerous traps to avoid, from spikes to explosive mines. While you have 3D movement, the camera can´t be moved, but it rarely gets in the way, heck, a lot of items are hidden behind objects. Your hero has a deceptively long moveset. You have a basic 3 slash string, jump and double jump, 3 types of jump attacks, rising slashes, launcher slashes, a backstep that can be followed with a flying kick(really) or another backstep and a couple of variations to the 3-slash combo. You also have access to magic, there are 8 different spells, which range from offensive magic, like Fire or Ice to support magic, like Heal and Stealth.
 The game has a few RPG elements, namely numerical stats. You increase these buy buying certain items or from random monster drops. There are two types of stat-increasing items, those that have a green name and those that have a blue name. The green-named ones provide minimal increases, but they are hereditary from generation to generation, blue-named items however, provide larger increases, but only for the duration of the chapter. It can be quite annoying to have to go back almost to scratch every time you go to the next chapter and having to grind the random drops.
 The game is moderately challenging, but nothing too hard. Bosses are the kind that follow a certain pattern, learn it and you deal the most damage. Funnily enough, sometimes you can get the bosses stuck in a pseudo-loops, enabling easy damage. There´s no real punishment to dying, besides a small coin-loss, and if you die on a boss fight, you restart on it, fully healed. Die during the stage, and you are back to the beginning of it, but they are pretty short, so no biggie.
 Visually, it looks surprisingly good. Models are blocky and simple, but they look good. The stages themselves offer a nice variety, and they are pretty interesting. The music, while fitting and decent, it´s pretty forgettable.
 The game lasts a good 7-8 hours, but there are 3 different branches. During chapter 1, Clovis may marry either Celia or Caroline, which takes you to two completely different different chapter 2s. One of these chapter 2s has another branching path, for a total of three completely different chapter 3s. Chapter 4 and 5 however, are very similar between the three branches. Two of the branches have the same leads, Anna and Mihaile(Their fathers do marry the same women, and they do have the genes from the same Dragon Valor), but you play them in different orders(Mihaile on Chapter 4 and Anna on Chapter 5 on one branch and vice versa on the other), As similar as they are, they at least bothered to change the puzzles and the enemies(not the bosses), so it´s not completely identical. Sadly, all three endings are basically the same, the dialogues are almost the same, which is dissapointing.
 The game does have replay value, as stated, three different paths, with different storylines(Even if the conclusion is the same), and it´s very interesing seeing just who will be the successor. While all the Dragon Valors play mostly the same, with very slight differences, each chapter lasts about 1 hour, the latter ones a bit more, so it´s not a huge drawback. You also unlock an art gallery, and the art is pretty good. Heck, even the concept and unused assets are very interesting!
 Notably, I came upon a game-breaking bug, where an item would not spawn. It only happened once in my 16 hour, 3-playthrough run through it, but it´s worth mentioning. Lastly, the game has it´s way with details, for example, each character has their own answers to the shop owners! While Anna might refuse with a "Why no", Mihail has a more shy "Um no" and after every chapter you are presented with a family tree, and the biographies of the ancestors might change depending on how you played. Favored magic? It will mention how his magic was feared by the demons, favored sword fighting instead? He was an expert swordsman then!
 Dragon Valor is a criminally underrated game. Currently, it holds a 56 on Metacritic and I can´t fathom why.  It´s simple, yes, but it´s also very good, not quite great, but a very solid action game.
7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Dragon Valor

 Eff the critics.
  Seriously. Currently, this game holds a 57 on Metacritic. Effing really? Really? I don´t care if it came "late" during the PS1´s life so that made it have to be awesome. This game is solid, it´s simple and, above all, it´s fun.
 So, I used to love this game. And I love it now, almost 2 hours into the game. I´ll leave the details for the review, but the mechanics are pretty interesting. One thing I can see myself hating is having to get the stats back up for each generation. I do hope there´s new game+, since I don´t really remember....

Archview #24: Xenogears

 Stand tall & Shake the Heavens.
 Xenogears is a very ambitious, highly compromised, RPG. It has an excellent first disc, but a borderline mediocre second one, rumor says Squaresoft saw fit to move staff and money to FFVIII, it´s a shame, as the
game could´ve been so much more.
 It´s hard to describe the story without spoiling stuff, but basically, the game is set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic world. All the high-end technology and futuristic stuff are actually remnants of a civilization long gone. The story follows Fei, an amnesiac hero who´s been living in the rural town of Lahan after he was brought to the town, heavily injured, by an stranger. Eventualy the plot twists and turns, and has you overthrowing an evil king, exposing a religious sect for what it is, invading an empire and a lot, lot more.
 Like other Rpgs of yore, there´s a large world map for the player to explore, and like said rpgs, there are random encounters. There are two types of Combat: On-foot and on Mech. On foot you have the usual Item, Ether(Magic), Defense and escape commands, however, Attack is anything but usual.Here, you have 7 Ability Points, which allow you to attack with three different attacks: Weak(Consumes 1 AP), Medium(Consumes 2 AP) and Strong(Consumes 3 AP). Some combinations produce Deathblows, read special attacks, which deal a lot of damage. Mech Combat is similar, but it has it´s own nuances. Here, you get the same basic Item, Defense and Ether commands, with the addition of Booster, which consumes fuel per turn, that makes your turns come up faster. Attacking is slightly different too, instead of AP, you use fuel, and deathblows don´t use more than two buttons. Fighting on Mechs is also more challenging, as you can´t restore fuel with magic or items, it requires special vendors that are, sometimes, placed on towns or dungeons.
 The graphics are a mixed bag. The 3D used for enviroments and mechs looks amazing, specially for a Playstation game, but the 2D sprites, used for characters and small enemies, are heavily pixelated. However, as pixelated as they get, the animations are very smooth and movement from move to move is very fluid. Music is fantastic, while some tunes get used a bit more than they should, it sounds great, and there are many pieces, ranging from epic to depressing. There´s also a tiny bit of voice-acting, used during the cinema scenes and a couple of events, but it´s not too good. Speaking of the anime cut-scenes, they were made by Production I.G, and it shows. They scream of quality, the animation is top-notch and is heavily reminiscing of 80s anime, with clear colors, cryptic sounds and angles... quality stuff.
 It has to be mentioned, while the first disc last more than 30 hours, and it´s incredible, there´s a noticeable dip in quality on the 2nd disc. You don´t get to move throught the overworld until the very end, and you get dragged from event to event through narration by the main characters set to some screenshots. Playing the 2nd disc is incredibly vexing, because the story is really good, and some set-pieces that could´ve been amazing to play, were reduced to mere events, sometimes, just to a couple of dialogue lines. Luckily, the story is interesing enough as to keep you hooked, but some of the hour-long exposition scenes on the 2nd disc tend to drag oh so much.
 Despite a dissapointing second disc, the game itself is fantastic, it´s fun to play, it has an interesting story and the presentation, ranging from graphics and sound to the colorful translation, is top notch, but one has to wonder about what it could´ve been.
 9 out of 10.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Archview #23: Destrega

 At least, you can say it´s interesting.

 Destrega is a 1 on 1 arena-based Fighting game that focuses on long range fighting. It´s original, that´s for sure, however, it ends up not feeling quite like a fighting game. There is close ranged fighting mind you, but it´s a very shallow 2 button affair. When fighting in close quarters, you have a Weak attack, a Heavy attack(Which can be comboed into) and a "dodge attack" that circles around the oponent. Put some distance between you and the enemy, and those three attacks become Tidu, Est and Foh, which translate into Fast Magic, Strong Magic and Spread magic. There are three universal moves that don´t change regardless of distance: Dash, Jump and block.
 The game is a lot deeper than that though. For starters, magic can´t be blocked, you can only dodge it, by moving, repel it, by timing the Block button, place a barrier, which consumes your magic gauge or countering with the aproppiate counter: Tidu beats Est, Est beats Foh and Foh beats Tidu. Below your life gauge lies the Magic gauge. Using magic consumes this gauge, but it regenerates quite quickly.  Whenever you press a magic button, the character charges up for a few seconds, during this time you can initiate a Barrier, a Charge Dash which homes in on the oponent, a charge jumps that allows you to unleash loads of magic attacks for a small cost or use higher level magic. Higher level magic is executed by pressing more magic buttons as the character charges the spell.
 There are four different magic levels; Level 1- A basic spell, Level 2- Two spells used together, FohEst, EstFoh, FohFoh, etc, Level 3- Three spells, using one twice, like FohFohEst, FohFohFoh,EstFohTidu, etc and Level 4, which unleashes the Special move for your your character, by pressing each spell once. There´s another "Rock,Paper, Scissors" triad, Magic beats Melee, Melee beat Charge Dashes and Charge Dashes beat magic. So, yeah, it´s a pretty deep game, sadly, I´d have wished the melee fighting would´ve recieved the same care. Also, sometimes it´s a bit hard to gauge distances, as to know if you will get a melee attack or a spell by pressing square. True, the magic gauge turns red when you are in melee, but in the thick of battle, is not advantageous to keep track of it if you move in close.
  The graphics are passable. The respectable 12-character roster is pretty diverse, but most designs are passable, forgetable or just bad. The models themselves are pretty bland, but they do have their fare share of detail. The arenas look pretty good, and there´s nary a hint of slowdown. Voice acting is in the realm of "So bad it´s good", the awful dialogue doesn´t help it´s cause one bit, but I found myself laughing at some of the story scenes, so that´s a good thing. Maybe. Kinda. There are not many unlockables, but each character has a 2nd costumes(which is just as bad or worse than their normal outfits) and unlockable Dynasty Warriors  skins, and sadly, they tend to look better than most of the cast of the game.
 The game has all the modes that fighters tend to have, Arcade, Survival and Time Attack. It also has a hilariously bad Story Mode. It´s really boring and dumb, but at least it´s there. The game itself isn´t bad, but it´s not a great game. It´s just... average. It tries something different, and it works, but it´s not my cup of tea.
 5 out of 10.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Destrega

 It´s Kensei all over again, almost.
 Taking a break from Xenogears, which by the way, I´m 23 hours in and still am not done with Disc 1, this game is massive. Massive and awesome. Just like with Kensei, I had fond memories of this game, so I pick Tieme( Who came up with the names?!) and.... holy smokes, movement is sloppy. Regardless, eventually I got the hang of it. Gameplay is interesting, you have 3 long-range attacks and 2 short range attacks. For close range, you have a very limited moveset, Weak Attack can be chained up to four time, and you can place a Strong attack mid-string to finish the combo, which gives you a total of 5 combo strings. However, the game places emphasis in long ranged combat. You have 3 different spells(Fast, Strong, Spread) and you can mix spells to add different properties to your attacks. Want a faster Strong attack? Press Strong, Fast. Want a stronger Strong? Strong then Strong and so forth. It´s interesting, but not my cup of tea.
 The music has a very... "epic" feel to it, fitting of an RPG. It´s good. The graphics are decent and get the job done. One thing that unsettles me... By clearing 1P battle mode, you unlock a Dynasty Warriors skin for that character. Female character Angie gets a Xu Zhu skin.... howeverm Xu keeps Angies voice!
 Ah well, there´s still time for the game to grow on me, like Kensei did.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The art of opening packages

 Say, a package just arrived? And you need open it in order to get it´s videogamey contentes? Been there, done that.
 Safety comes first, so you are gonna need gloves to handle the... tools.
 Make your pick, now... strap them on.
 This next part is a toughie... You will have to pick a tool to get the job done.
 You are going to need a tool that is made for opening this kind of package...
 If it´s too long it might damage the goods.
...nor too short.
 Eventually, you should find the tool that fits the task.
 Now it´s my favorite part, stabby time!
 After drawing first blood, slide gracefully the other end. Congratulations, you just made the cut!
 Now, grab both sides of the openings and pull, it´s time loot the insides....

 Congratulations! You just opened your first package! Now go into the wild and pillage your nearby stores, using the technique you just learned, you should have no trouble opening any kind of package that separates you from what´s rightfully yours. And remember, winners don´t do drugs, not during daytime anyways.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Megaman StarForce Spectacular

 So, how much do I like the Star Force series?
 Enough to own all versions and the Artbook, I´d say a lot. Truth be told, while replaying them I found out that I don´t like the series as much as I used to, but they were still enjoyable, except StarForce 2, but I´ll get to it in a jiffy. All games follow the same basic formula, you explore the town as Geo Stelar, and accept quests from townfolk, but to do the fighting, Geo turns into Megaman. While playing as Megaman, you are subject to random encounters. While Fighting, you are placed in a 3x5 Grid. Megaman can only move to the sides, while enemies get to move through rows too. Before each battle, you get to pick among 6 cards, randomly selected from your 30(Up to 5 mega and 1 giga card per deck) card deck. You have a choice of six cards, but you can only choose: Same cards, cards of the same Column or cards of the same row. While fighting, a gauge starts filling, once it´s filled, you can pick new cards. After each fight you either get money or a new card.
 Battles use a Rock-Paper-Scissors kind of system. Fire cards deal double damage on Wood enemies or enemies standing over Wood panels. Wood deals double damage to Electric enemies or enemies over electric panels. Electric cards deal double damage to water enemies and enemies that are frozen. And Water deals double damage to fire enemies. There are also non-elemental cards. Megaman, usually, is non-elemental, but if he uses one of the special forms, he gains an elemental affinity. Get hit with your weakness, and you revert to Normal Megaman.
 Megaman can only increase his HP by collecting HP ups hidden throught the world, or by equipping abilities(StarForce 2 and 3 only). Another trend, is that there are alwasy 150 standard cards and 5 giga cards. Mega cards vary from game to game(30 in SF1, 42 in SF2 and 45 in SF3). Then there are the special forms, each version of each game has a different form for Geo to use in battle, if he fulfills a certain condition. A neat extra, all games have "achievements" of sorts(Get all Standard cards, beat all V2 bosses, etc) and they grant you medals on the Push Start screen.
 Sadly, all three games suffer from the same flaws:
A) Most of the cards from each game carry over to the next. There are very few new cards introduced per game, and most of the time, they act as some of the older cards.
B) Bosses must be refought many times. Up to four times in SF 2, more if you plan to get every card on the game.
C) Getting cards is a grindfest. SF1 and SF3 have the Card Finder, which make sure that after every battle, you will get a card, but getting the card you want can take a while, which means loads and loads of battles. And getting the stronger cards of the bosses means getting an S rank on them, not an easy task.
 With all that out of the way, onwards to...
 Megaman StarForce: Dragon/Leo/Pegasus.
Favorite Transformation
 I mean, Red and Orange? Fire related? Plus he looks badass? Yeah, this is my fave.
Favorite Standard Card: Break Sabre, a diagonal slash that deals 200 dmg. Awesome.
Favorite Mega Card: Cancer Bubble, leaves the enemies in a bubble, opening them up for a follow up. Use an Electric card, and it deals double damage. Neat!
Favorite Giga Card: Pegasus Magic, not as strong as Leo Kingdom, but leaves the enemy frozen, allowing a follow up. Like an Electric card for double damage.
Favorite Charged Shot: Pegasus. Leo is too slow, Dragon is unimpressive. Pegasus freezes!
Favorite StarForce Big Bang: Atomic Blazer. Yes, Magician´s freeze freezes, but Atomic Blazer looks much more awesome.
With that out of the way... Megaman StarForce begins with a depressed Geo. He´s been skipping classes for a long time now, and neglects friends, due to fear of being hurt, since his dad went into space some years ago and he neve came back. Eventually, Geo meets the alien Omega-Xis, Mega for short, who grants him the power to turn into MegaMan. Due to many circumstances, he befriends the trio of Luna Platz, Bud Bison and Zack, and he starts going back into school. This is just a small introduction, the story is actually pretty solid and engaging, specially for a portable kid´s game.
 The game takes place in the future, so there are tons of technological advancements and comodities. For starters, when Geo turns into Megaman, he becomes and EM-entity, unable to directly interact with the real world. He can, however, jack into various devices, and he will need to, in order to clear the viruses. While Geo himself cannot walk on the EM-Roads, he can put on his visualizer  in order to see them and talk with nearby EM entities. To turn into Megaman, Geo has to stand over  over special zones, and he goes directly into the EM-wave roads above town. Worth mentioning, since the next games will change this quite a bit. Interestingly, each of the intitial dungeons have some sort of gimmick that requires the player to use the Stylus. They are not bad, but they are just a gimmick.
 The game is a grindfest, though. Getting cards means hours of grinding. Y´see, each enemy holds a different card, and after each random encounter, you either get ONE card from ONE of the enemies or money. Don´t get the card you want? You have to earch for the same enemy again. And you will need to get all cards in order to access the post-game. Luckily you can find the Card Finder, that makes sure that you will get a card, or the Zenny Finder, which makes it so that you can only get money from random encounters. Bosses are a whole different can of worms. First of all, refighting bosses is a bit of a chore, as they are the rarest random encounters, and getting to them doesn´t mean you will get the card you want. There are three versions of each boss card, and they depend on the rank you get. 1-7 is the vanilla card, 8-10 is the V2 card and 10(rarely) or S gets you the V3 card. Get ready to grind a lot.
  In order to use the transformations, Geo has to get the StarForce card and pick it. While you can only use the version of your form, if you link up with players with the other versions, you can use their transformations. You could do this via Wi-Fi, but I doubt the community is still alive. This also means that I´m never deleting my Pegasus file, since I have all the transformations avaiable. Another change between versions are the Giga Cards and the last Boss. Pegasus players be warned, Pegasus Magic is the hardest of all three AMians.
 The 3D, used in battles, looks very nice, although the rest of the game is made in 2D. While I felt the sprites looked pretty nice(Megaman has a different sprite for facing left and for facing right!), the next two games make it look quite crappy. The game lasts a solid 20 hours, and there are loads and loads of quests.... which can get a bit annoying, since you need to:
1st) Pulse into the Wave Roads, get above the NPC, read his transer(A device everyone carries around, like a cellphone)
2nd) Pulse out, talk to them as Geo.
3rd) Do the quest. You can´t accept any other quest until you finish the last one you accepted.
It gets a bit tedious having to traverse the wave roads just to read their transer first.
 StarForce 1 is a 7 out of 10.
 Megaman Starforce 2 Zerker X Ninja/Zerker X Saurian.
Favorite Form: 
Zerker Saurian!
 Zerker Saurian is the result of a Zerker activating a Saurian transformation. He looks awesome
Favorite Standard Card: Elec Slash, deals 150 damage and paralyzes.
Favorite Mega Card: Cancer Bubble
Favorite Giga Card: 
Flying Impact, but I usually turn a blank card into Pegasus Magic, so...
Favorite Charge Shot: Thunder Slash
Favorite StarForce Big Bang: 
Elemental Blade.
 First of all, the whole game has been redrawn. All the 2D sprites now look way more colorful, and way prettier. From the town to the characters. While the 3D models look the same, the grid looks much tidier. Combat itself feels a bit tighter too.
 Sadly... the story isn´t as engaging. While the introduction of Solo/Rogue is a bit neat, the whole ancient civilization stuff isn´t too interesting. Megaman lost the ability to use the powers of the three administrators(Leo, Pegasus and Dragon), so now he gains access to the ancient tribes. Fire Saurian, Electric Zerker and Wood Ninja. Unlike the previous game, if you are playing the Saurian version, you cannot turn into a Zerker or a Ninja... however, if you befriend Zerker or Ninja players, you can "Double Tribe" into a combination. Combinations have the strengths of both tribes, while only having the weakness of the tribe that was used last. If you have friends of all tribes, you can Triple Tribe into the over powered(and ridiculous looking) Tribe King. While in Tribe King  form, all cards deal double damage. So, for example, if you use Pegasus Magic, instead of dealing 450 damage, it would now deal 900. And it freezes the enemy, which grants you a free hit, overpowered alright.
 The out-of combat sections also were improved upong. This time around, Megaman walks on the ground, just like Geo, however, only Megaman can walk over the EM roads that extend from the ground. It looks much neater. Another neat, and pointless, addition, is that when using the visualizer, you can see Omega-Xis tagging along! Sadly, taking quests is still annoying. Since EM roads are no longer above the ground, getting to the NPCs to read their Hunters(The Transers got upgraded!) is much easier.
 The best new addition, by far, is a customizable Megaman. By registering real-life players or some NPCs you gain ability points, which can be used to customize Megaman. Maybe turn his Charged Shot into an X shaped attack? How about a forcefield at the start of the battle? Maybe take two Giga cards instead of 1? It´s pretty neat. Combat, while it feels tighter, has two new additions, first, you may randomly get to fight Giant Viruses. When beaten, this enemies leave behind "Star Cards". This cards use special slots in your deck(Meaning that they are not part of the 30 cards that make up your deck) and add extra damage to the non-star versions of the card. Hardly game changing. The other addition are Hertzes. During random encounters, you may find a Hertz. Beat the enemies without the Hertz getting damage, and he will give you an ability to customize Megaman with.
 The game has a few issues though. The bosses are incredibly hard, even their normal versions. It was probably done in order to balance the incredibly over powered Tribe King, but since most players won´t get to use that form unless they befriend all three tribes or cheat, it becomes a bit taxing, specially S-ranking their hardest version just to get all the Mega Cards. There´s also a pretty big reason as to why I hate this game... The Skywave. You will have to use the Skywave to reach some places, many times( And many more if you plan to do all the sidequests). The Skywave can only be accessed by Megaman, which means Random Encounters. It´s also a pretty labyrinthic place, where it´s easy to get lost or wound up in places you didn´t want to reach. This area alone makes me despise this game with passion. It´s a vexing and annoying area that must be visited many, many times. Sure, you can open up some short cuts later on, but it´s still easy to get lost. 
 While it looks better and feels tighter than part 1, the story is not as interesting, and the Skywave is way too annoying, making this game a drag to play.
 StarForce 2 is a 4 out of 10.
 Megaman StarForce 3: Black Ace/Red Joker
Favorite Form: Red Joker/Rogue Noise
 For standard forms, I prefer Rogue Noise. Not only does Black Megaman look badass, you get enhanced Sword Cards and a regenerating barrier. Rogue Noise is amazing. But, between both Finalized Forms, Red Joker looks so awesome. Black Ace may be cooler, but Red Joker... I MEAN JUST LOOK AT IT
Favorite Standard Card: SwordFighter deals 50 but slashes 5 times. It looks awesome
Favorite Mega Card: Cancer Bubble/ Apollo Flame
Favorite Giga Card: 
Dread Laser.... or Pegasus Magic
Favorite Charge Shot: Rogue Shot
Favorite StarForce Big Bang: 
Red Gaia Eraser.
 The story, this time around, has Geo fighting off the terrorist group Dealer, led by King. It sounds simple, but it deals with some darker elements, including the death of two characters, one being one of the main characters(Both of them get better though, one is resurrected as a matter of fact). While it is still a kid´s game at heart, the new darker themes are much more interesting. Heck, you can even get some one on one time between Geo and Sonia or Geo and Luna depending on a certain choice(I picked Luna both times).
 Gameplay wise... there are loads of new features, the best one, you can turn into Megaman any time you want, no longer have you got to find those annoying portholes, about time! Getting Quests is also made simpler, you just talk to the NPCs as Geo, and if they have a Quest icon on the touchscreen, you touch it and BAM! You just accepted a quest. The customizable Megaman from SF 2 returns, albeit slightly deeper. Now, Megaman has access to 11 different forms(You gain them after defeating giant viruses, you can choose to change or keep the form you are using). Each form has it´s own abilities, use them a lot and you unlock those abilities for you to customize Megaman.
 Battles now have a "Noise" gauge. You fill it up by using non-elemental cards. Whenever you defeat an enemy, if you deal more damage than needed, that overflow goes towards the Noise gauge, for example, kill an enemy with 30 HP left with a 50 damage card, and you increase the gauge by 20. During boss battles, half the damage you deal goes towards the Noise gauge. When the Noise Gauge reaches 50, Megaman "Colors out" and his armor takes the color of whichever noise he is affected with, and gains it´s charge shot and Big Bang attack. If you register real-life people, you can mix noise forms. Now, if you go beyond 100 in the noise gauge, it gets interesting. For starters, the gauge will drop steadily until it gets to 99. While above 100 noise, you can hurt enemies as they blink. If you reach 200 or beyond, you can access the Meteor Server, which lets you use Black Ace or Red Joker forms. Besides being stupidly powerful, you have access to the strongest cards in the game while in this form, however, the Noise Gauge drops back to 0.
 It doesn´t end there, if you finish a battle with over 100 noise, you get Illegal data instead of the normal cards. Illegal data means cards from older gamess, including the overpowered Pegasus Magic! What card you get is random, but S-Ranking the bosses with over 100 noise give out 3 different rewards. Picking cards also got reworked, now cards have different sizes and positions. If a card is above another one, the latter card takes special properties. You can either use it as a support card(Different elements have different support uses) or pick that one single card and use it normally. It adds a bit of randomness and strategy at the same time, which makes fighting a tad more fun.
 This game has many more cards and forms than the previous games. The story is as tight as the first entry, and the tone is a bit darker and more serious. Another neat thing, in this game you can see just how much the cast has grown. Geo is no longer the depressed character he used to be, he is much more confident and strong willed than before. And it finally provides closure to the series and Geo. This is the best Megaman StarForce game, but it´s probably a good idea to play StarForce 1 to get the most of it.
 StarForce 3 is an 8 out of 10.

 And thus concludes Megaman StarForce Spectacular. I´m not doing this again. Ever. Except maybe for Onimusha(Oh Capcom, why do you make the games I love the most, yet try to rip everyone off, why?!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My beef with Xenosaga

 So it´s little past the wee hours of the morning(9:30 AM give or take) and I can´t sleep... Seeing how I have a blog, why not tire myself out from writing? And what´s more tiresome than Xenosaga? Nothing.
 Why do I hate it so much? Well... let´s start with the characters:

Shion Uzuki: In Xenosaga 1 she dresses just like Elly from Xenogears, albeit with different colors. She was a breath of fresh air, she was the main heroine, and she didn´t need to show any skin. She was nerdy, cute and a bit of a go getter, but then...
 Yup, in Xenosaga 2 she ditches the glasses, and now shows more skin, including the navel. Worst part? She is not even the main heroine, the obnoxious Jr. takes her place. Awesome. But Monolith wasn´t done, oh no, they just had to strip her further...
 This is ridiculuos. The outfit doesn´t even make any sense. When I found out that XS3´s designer is a known hentai artist, I wasn´t surprised at all. Still, appearance is the least of her problems. The most annoying part of her persona, is how Monolith played her relationship with KOS-MOS adding subtle lesbic undertones. Sex sells, but...

 I´m fine with lesbians. I love them. But this is exploitation in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Besides that, it´s quite dumb how she keeps treating KOS-MOS like a person, she is not, she is not even a realian, she doesn´t feel. "But she created it", yes, Shion did FINISH her after KOS-MOS killed Shion´s lover. Instead of despising the machine, Shion now loves her. Makes sense. Still, by XS3 she goes completely mental on how no one cares about her but spoiler, which is hilarious, since the whole game the party has been caring about her. Oh, and she finds out that her lover has been using her since even before the game started, so what does she do? Turn to his side. She is actually the penultimate boss of the game, alongside her lover. And even funnier? The big bad comments on her strong will. Yeah, such a strong will that she switched sides, to the boyfriend that used her, and it took her friends getting beat up for her to change her mind again. Strong will my ass. Shion, as a character, only gets worse with each installment.
 Rubedo(Jr.): The other lead, Jr is my most hated character EVER. EVER. I tend to overreact, but this time, I don´t, He is annoying. His voice is annoying. His personality is annoying. And he is the lead of Xenosaga 2. Xenosaga 2 is the worst game in the series for various reasons, and now you expect us to endure him as the focus? Please kill me. He is supposed to be quite older, but his body doesn´t grow up. Right... he still acts like a kid during all three games. Maybe it´s supposed to be funny, how he keeps saying he is not a kid, but acts like one, but it always came off as annoying. By Xenosaga 3 he is the character with the most lines, probably even more than Shion, and he is the de-facto leader of the group. Imamgine my vexation when, in his first appearance on XS3, he bosses everyone around... and they listen to him and follow him. Ziggy, 100 years old, way more mature than this ****, taking orders from him. Right.
 To add insult to the injury, his physical design is based on Billy, from Xenogears, but he takes Bart´s role. Instead of "Young master", everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, calls him "Little Master". Vexing, oh, so, vexing. However, unlike Bart, Jr. is not charming. Whenever Bart came off as impulsive and messed up, it was kind of endearing. When Jr. acts impulsively, it´s just annoying.
 chaos: chaos is, probably, the character I hate the least. His fighting style is partially inspired on Fei´s hand to hand combat, sharing a few similar moves. He is the most mysterious character of the cast. By mysterious it means that you don´t find anything about him ´till Xenosaga 3. Sure, you do know he has powers. You do know that he knows the big bad. You do know that he can see Nephilim, but you find nothing about him until Xenosaga 3. Yeah, there´s not much I can say about him, he is the least offensive character of the bunch.
 KOS-MOS: The mascot of the series. Someone at Monolith must like her a lot, since she keeps popping up in every crossover game they can put her in. For starters, her design makes no sense. She is supposed to be this one of a kind weapon, so she dresses in the least combat-friendly attires possible. Miniskirts? Sure. High heels? Why not. And in order to use her most powerful weapon? She must show even more cleaveage. Why? Why not, let´s have boobs. It makes no sense. KOS-MOS makes no sense. KOS-MOS was made with fanservice as the focus, there really isn´t much more to her than that. Oh yeah, and she houses some sort of soul of someone inside of her. This soul completely skips Xenosaga 2, but returns for part 3, where she eventually takes over KOS-MOS´s body. The worst part? Normal KOS-MOS has no personality at all. She is a robot. she is so uninteresting as a character, so she makes up with fanservice.
 Ziggurat 8(Ziggy): Ziggy is by far the most interesting character in the game. He used to be a soldier, ´till his family was murdered, and he commited suicide. He was so awesome, that he was revived as a Cyborg. Now he is a mercenary, doing missions, until eventually he can get his whole body to be robotic, as to forget his memories. He also develops a father-daughter relationship with MOMO which is quite cute. Except that he, alongside MOMO, gets shifted to the side during most of XS 3. Actually, you could argue that he loses his role to Jin during XS2. In XS1 he is the silent, mature guy, who advices the rest. Since XS 2 introduces Jin, he simply becomes the stoic, silent guy. He is probably the character with the least lines in XS 3, second only to MOMO.
 MOMO: During Xenosaga 1, she sucks. She´s used only for gratuitious panty shots. Because I want to be flashed panty shots of a little girl. By Xenosaga 2 they fixed her up, gave her a new, skirtless, wardrobe, and stopped exploiting camera angles. She actually has a couple of really badass moments in XS 2, one of the few, very, very few highlights of the game. Sadly, she is completely relegated to "look out!" line in XS 3. She has the least lines, and the least scenes. Heck, her lone, big scene serves only to develop a side character. Yeah, screw the few interesting characters you´ve got and focus on the most annoying ones. Well played Monolith, well played.
 Jin Uzuki: He looks just like Citan Uzuki from Xenogears, both in look, personality and fighting style. He is introduced in part 2 and takes Ziggy´s place as the mature, advicey guy of the party. He also gets some of the most amazing sword duels I´ve ever, ever seen. There´s really not much else to say about him.

 So yeah, I hate the main cast. I hate them so much, that the highlights of XS 3, for me, was seeing references to Xenogears. Oh! a character that looks just like Fei Fong Wong(epic name) from Xenogears! And he is named Abel!(Fei was one of Abel´s reincarnations, bonus points for details). Nephilim looks just like Elly. So seeing Abel and Nephilim holding hands at the end, just like Fei and Elly, the eternal lovers, was quite heartwarming. Or how they managed to add most of the Gears from Xenogears as bosses in Xenosaga 3, that was awesome.
 But then again, even the supporting cast sucks. I don´t remember too much of part 1 and 2, and I refuse to play them, but every new character introduced in part 3 is of the "Asshole with a soft side" variety. The first time they did it, it worked. It was cute. The second one was stretching it, an the third time was just annoying. All the characters were assholes, not a single, likeable one. Then there´s the fact that many of the character´s motivations made no sense. I thought Febronia and Virgil leaving together, with Febronia convincing him, was quite cute, but it didn´t make any sense. So Virgil chose to become a testament because he KNEW that he´d go back in time? And he was... rejecting himself? So that´s w... it made no sense. It really didn´t. Most of Xenosaga 3 didn´t make any sense anyways.
 Another reason why I hate the characters? After I started playing XS 3, after 4 years since finishing part 2, it was kind of nostalgic seeing all these characters again.... until I noticed that none of them had grown much. It´s been three games and almost no character developement. At least XS 3 gave closure to EVERYONE, even the villains, but it was too little, too late.
 One thing I love about Xenogears is how each character has his own mech, and it suits him. Xenosaga 1 gave you 3 or 4 generic mechs. They looked so boring, so lifeless... By XS 2, they gave you 4 unique mechs, which was nice, they looked good. Not as good as Xenogears´s, but it was a step in the right direction. In XS 3, each of those mechs has it´s default pilots, and the mechs had their weaponry match the pilot... which means that Ashur, the mech chaos piloted since before the games even began, was outfitted to match Jr´s style. Simply awesome؟(That´s the sarcasm punctation symbol).
 Still, my biggest dissapointment actually came from the combat itself. I loved... love, Xenogears combat. As a Fighting game lover, I love that by imputing certain button combinations you get special attacks. By the time I heard of Xenosaga, I expected the same system or an evolution. We got a watered down version. In Xenogears, you had up to 7 "points", which could be spent by mixing Triangle(Worth 1 point), Square(2 points) and X(3 points). There were loads of animations per characters, and loads of specials. Xenosaga´s battle system is more akin the mech combat in Xenogears, except only with Square and triangle. And you could only mix up to two buttons in order to use special attacks, if I remember correctly.
 Seems I wasn´t the only one who disliked the new combat system, so by Xenosaga 2 they... kept everything I didn´t like from 1, and made it worse. Now there are Float and Grounded status effects, which can only be applied by certain characters, and are vital to survive the random encounters. Also, there are no shops, so instead of equipping items with affinities, each character has a different affinity to it´s attacks. Even better, not everyone can attack "floating enemies". So you have to use a party taking into account all those things. Uneededly complicated, and uneededly annoying. I basically had to use Jr against my will. because I needed his guns to attack airborne enemies. The combat system was so flawed, that Random encounters could and would be harder than boss encounters. True story.
 By Xenosaga 3, they removed combinations, you only get a normal Attack. It´s more streamlined than before, but compared to 2, it´s faster, simpler, and way more engaging. I find it funny that the back of the box actually uses a bullet point to mention "The return of shops and equipment". You know your game was bad, when you have to mention the return of shops and equipment as a noteworthy feature.

 I dislike Xenosaga. Xenosaga 2 is everything that is wrong with JRPGS. Convoluted and nonsensical plot, impossibly complicated combat system and uneeded fanservice. To be fair, lots of JRPGs make no sense when you examine them hard enough, but the key to a good story, is to make it engaging. If you are invested in it, you will offer it your suspension of disbelief. Xenosaga´s story is not a good story. It´s too pretentious, and a lot of times it feels like it pulls stuff out of it´s ass.
 Look at Xenogears, supposedly, it was meant to be a 4 disc game. But funding and time run out, so it had to be shipped in 2 discs. The 2nd disc is so obviously rushed, but it still manages to make sense. It manages to sell you it´s world, it´s story. Xenosaga was planned as a 6 part game from the start, and they couldn´t manage to make a cohesive, entertaining story even though they had 2 more games than Xenogears.
 The moral of the story is: Thank god Xenosaga was cancelled after part 3. Part 5 was to be a reimagining of Xenogears. Thank god they didn´t get to rape one of my favorite games ever.