At first glance, I wasn’t even aware I was looking at Final Fantasy XIII-2. The incredibly bland character design of Serah and Noel, the new character who tags along with Lightning’s sister, made me think I was looking at some B-tier Tales game, not a AAA Final Fantasy title. But it ain’t the’ 90s anymore, so Final Fantasy probably belongs with the rest of the second stringers at this point. I doubt XIII-2, which now has More Stuff to Do than its predecessor, will change that.
Archive for the ‘RPG’ Category
It’s almost the end of the year. Time to clean house. Here’s an outdated review I meant to get out there way earlier. Whoopsie!
Is it possible to be nostalgic for 2008? There was Speed Racer, the first Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, and a fresh-faced JRPG all the kids raved about called Persona 3: FES. It was good, but there was one thing that irked me about it: That the game wasn’t available on a portable system. It would have been a perfect fit for Sony’s PSP.
Then, as if reading my mind, or more likely following industry trends (JRPGs such as Ys Seven, 4 Heroes of Light and Etrian Odyssey III wouldn’t survive on consoles), Atlus announced Persona 3 Portable for the PSP the following year. Initially, I was a tad miffed– I clocked over 70 hours in my FES file! — but consternation turned to excitement. With a portable version handy I could potentially finish the game while I’m out and about, and not depend on sitting in front of a TV for hours on end. Plus, Atlus promised a lot of new content and features special to the portable version, allowing for a slightly new experience. And Atlus delivered.
Final Fantasy, a series never content to remain the same, finds itself re-imagined yet again in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Wasting no time at all, 4 Heroes‘ story revolves around Brandt who (I renamed Chrono), upon waking up on his 14th birthday, goes to the king to begin his rite of passage into adulthood. Turns out that’s to rescue the king’s kidnapped daughter who’s held prisoner by a witch in a cave. After meeting his brooding, impatient friend Jusqua (Xeno) and the stalwart female knight Yunita (Saga), together they rescue Princess Aire (Mana) and defeat the witch, whereupon they’re greeted by a giant crystal that informs them of the important journey they must go on.
All this happens quickly and efficiently with little text or fluff, and by the end of the intro you know exactly who everyone is, the kind of fairytale world they inhabit and most importantly, how the battle system works. It’s a nice, quick introduction to the game, which mixes some of the old (towns, simple story) with the new (swift, engaging battle system) of Final Fantasy, making for something entirely welcome on the Nintendo DS.
For someone who grew up seeing E3 through the pages of EGM and later through the web pages of IGN you’d think it’d be a dream come true to actually be there at the Candyland of video games. Well, let me tell ya. It was an exhausting, mind numbing experience. Sensory overload the likes of which I’ve rarely seen, felt, smelled, touched or heard. Remember that episode of Batman Beyond where the bad guy goes deaf from the all the sounds of the city piercing his brain all at once and he screams in agony from it all?
Sorry, I got Batman Beyond on the mind since that Splice review. Great show.
But anyway, that was me. For three days! Surrounded by sweating nerds, servile booth babes and sycophantic industry types in a bombed out section of L.A. no one wants to be in, except for this one giant convention. Seriously, otherwise the place is a ghost town, which is a very weird (and scary) place to be in coming from New York friggin’ City.
Not that any of that matters really. E3 is about one thing: games. Lots and lots of games. And I got my grubby hands on all of them. Well, a lot of them. Not all of them. Off the bat I’ll say I missed Zelda: Skyward Sword, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Microsoft’s and Sony’s Wii-too nonsense. So if you’re looking for the umpteenth amount of armchair punditry for those — whoops. This is just one simple chump’s first visit to E3, trying to find something that wasn’t a derivative arm-waving simulator or a FPS about shooting foreigners.
But boy, does that Move controller look like a luminescent dildo or what?
It’s been quite a whirlwind, grumpeteers! Over half a year of catching up with Sega’s underappreciated classic RPG series Phantasy Star. Why, you ask? Partly because of their historical significance to role-playing, especially Japanese role-playing, games. Partly to experience and describe to others a series of games they most likely missed out upon but always wondered what they were like. And partly because I was unemployed, taking a relatively untaxing curriculum and Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection came out for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (which my circle of online friends refer to as Spinhog’s Software Pile) with all four iterations bundled neatly together for the first time in the West. In fact, I wouldn’t be lying if I said most of the reason I bought the collection was to be able to give Phantasy Star the sort of attention I thought it probably always deserved from me. It seems I have a sort of lingering condition from my days as a little lonely kid who only owned a Genesis where I feel like I must do everything in my power to try to like a Sega franchise. After completing this leg of my journey, the next logical step is trying to chronicle the Shining series and working up the nerve to start Yakuza again. But those are stories for a later time. For now, onwards with the story of Phantasy Star IV! Forget everything you knew about Phantasy Star III. Really. Just do it. You’ll feel better.
After completion of the monumental undertaking Phantasy Star II must have been, the development team was at the top of their game. They’d created a work of staggering importance to the medium of video game RPGs, so where to go from there? Apparently, to other things. One of the most important core members, Yuji Naka, left to create what would later become Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s 16-bit savior, leaving a large hole in the team. Ever the type to shoot themselves in the foot, Sega decided that they NEEDED another Phantasy Star, whether the original creators were available or not. So instead of patiently waiting for the band to get back together, they put together a team of questionably-qualified individuals and churned out Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom. I think you might already know where this is headed…
In my ongoing attempt to catch up on the overlooked RPG series, we revisit Phantasy Star II. Released a scant seven months after the Genesis’ launch, Phantasy Star II was hurried into development soon after the completion of the original Phantasy Star. Of course, this was back in the days where RPGs didn’t take five years to develop. Phantasy Star was one of the last games to hit SEGA’s Master System, and with newer, shinier technology at their grasp, Rieko Kodama & Co. decided to reach for the stars…