Mind Zero is, in the end, a game done in by its own averageness, which is a shame because it had some pretty interesting ideas buried in it. Too much of the game reminds you of its overall drabness, especially the actual dungeon crawling and encounters, which is probably the most damning part, because it is thick with random encounters.
The game isn't all bad. The general premise and aesthetic are derivative at first glance, but the theme of Mind Zero manages to be basically engaging, even if it's underdeveloped. The skill card mechanism of upgrading skills and spells is fairly interesting, using random skill drops to level up the ones you care about, but it sucks having to leave the dungeon to upgrade them, since it's a pretty major disruption to the game to trek back out to Yokohama when you fill up on skills.
The most redeeming feature of the game is that it has an interesting meter system. There are three meters, Life Points, Mind Points, and Tech Points — Tech Points power your skills, and Life Points and Mind Points fall into a kind of balance where LP is the health of your character and MP the health of your MIND, a Jojo's Stand-esque entity that you can have fight for you. Take damage in one form, and just switch modes and heal up. It sets an interesting kind of rhythm to some fights where you have to be careful with the meter management.
Unfortunately, the complicated balancing act of the meters makes the many, many random encounters feel all the more tedious, and it isn't really compelling enough on its own to make all the fights feel engaging. The game has some balance issues, as a mob of the right enemies can quickly drain your meters and leave you with rounds of recovering before you can get back to addressing the fight.
Additionally, the same meter system also makes solo enemies, including many of the later bosses, extremely trivial if you have a good party dialed in — the boss's damage output, even with the occasional special or two attacks per round, just can't crack through both meters fast enough to really be a threat. The last few bosses, including the two-phase final boss, were nothing but battles of attrition, chipping away at huge health bars while never really being worried about occasionally healing.
Otherwise, the game is an average gridder. You talk to your friends in the overworld, then dive into the dungeon, which has fairly average environments, mostly unmemorable music, and a disappointingly underdeveloped graphics engine. And maybe that's the hardest part of the game to stomach — compared to the wonderful Demon Gaze that came out just months ago, Mind Zero, by itself, offers so little, even if it has plenty of potential good ideas that never fully pay off.
The game pretty shamelessly ends with a setup for a sequel, which may or may not ever come as it was considered kusoge in Japan (an overblown label, in my opinion) and didn't do much better here in the West, but I do kind of hope they try another game, if they improve on it — the core idea is pretty good, and I do think they have the beginnings of some interesting mechanics to work with.
Ultimately though, I wouldn't really recommend for or against Mind Zero. Check it out if you feel interested, skip it if you don't. Not bad or not great, I kinda liked it, but it's a difficult thing to like.
(I'm testing some Unicode, don't mind me.)
This has been pretty alright so far. I heard a lot of bad things from a vocal group of people, but actually playing it, I'm enjoying it enough. It doesn't compare favorably to Persona or anything, but that's an unnecessary comparison and it's decent enough on its own merits. A nice, kind of moody game, with dungeon crawling gameplay and amusing little visual novel cutscene interludes. It could use a bit more polish throughout, but unless something changes I'm definitely going to play this to completion. I'm enjoying the narrative and even when the gameplay is a bit rough or lacking, it's still good enough.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection
Lots of amusement here. The game is an idol maker sim, but the gameplay is pretty light and I understand it's neither difficult nor long (I'm only around 1/4 of the way through my first playthrough). The draw is absolutely in hanging out with the Hyperdimension Neptunia CPUs and getting in all sorts of silly little scenarios. Being a HN game, there's a lot of little gaming nods, and the main narrative excuse for the game, an idol group named MOB48 has started taking over and the CPUs need to fight back by becoming idols themselves, seems like some kind of weird parable on mobile games in Japan. Maybe I'm just reading into it though.
I bought this game out of curiosity, but it turns out the actual gameplay is pretty solid — the deck-building nature to the game's core card game is very well done. You can buy more card packs with real money, but so far I haven't had a single need to, and I've been running over most opponents with the occasional difficult one or two. It's shockingly well-done! I can't help but be self-conscious while doing the rubbing monster girl cards thing, but aside from that the game is absolutely clean (which just makes the rubbing all the more curious in its contrast, really). I don't know if it's my "favorite" game of the three, but I usually put aside a half hour or so every day just to get a couple battles in before playing other stuff.
I've been meaning to write something on Ys: Memories of Celceta for so long that my points kind of escaped me, so here's the cliffs notes version:
The action of the game is a lot of fun. It moves fast, the attacks all feel good and the skills are very tangible in terms of what they do when they hit. It's all very tight. The music's pretty good, though listening to some earlier Ys soundtracks, I don't think it's Falcom's best. Still pretty rad though, and a nice mix of rock action tracks and some calmer, near ballad-y things. The plot is pretty basic and won't really surprise anyone. "Servicable" is probably the right word.
All in all, absolutely play it.
I DID IT
I was talking about all the Vita games I have coming up and made a list. Thought I should probably reproduce it here, for posterity's sake and to see if I get anywhere near accomplishing any of it.
This year I've beaten, what, Sorcery Saga, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Danganronpa, Persona 3 Portable, and Final Fantasy X HD so far? Not bad at all. Here's the list of stuff I have and want to complete:
- Demon Gaze (almost done)
- Mind Zero (early, might just restart to do it for real because it's literally maybe an hour in, probably next game)
- Final Fantasy X-2 (handful of hours in)
- Monster Monpiece (early, usually just doing a battle or two in the margins before dinner/sleep/whatever)
- Project Diva f (third time playing the game, slowly maybe getting around to platting it in the margins?)
- The Walking Dead Season 2 (need to start)
- Conception II (handful of hours in, got bumped by more interesting stuff (not that I don't like it))
- Luftrausers (I doubt I'll "beat" this but I would like to see a blimp some time)
- Deception IV (might play some time)
- Soul Sacrifice Delta (I dunno, might play some time)
And here's stuff I either have and have put off for the near future, or are upcoming/preordered:
- Danganronpa 2
- Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
- Project Diva F 2nd (I have the import, haven't played it much, might just wait until the NA release)
- Akiba's Trip
- XBlaze Code: Embryo
- BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (going to do story mode on Vita I think)
- Atelier Rorona Plus (I've started Totori, but won't resume it until I play Rorona, now that it's coming out)
- Atelier Totori Plus
- Atelier Meruru Plus
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
- Freedom Wars
- Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!!
- Axiom Verge if we get that this year?
- Some other indies I probably forgot about
I can't hold all these Vitas.
Lime green Vita Slim!
I've been playing an awful lot of Demon Gaze, the dungeon crawler by Experience Inc., and I have to say it is probably one of my favorite crawlers I've played, up there (so far, anyway) with the classics and with my initial dive into the first Etrian Odyssey. It moves extremely quickly, builds all seem viable and easy to customize to one's whims, and the anime style is just the right level of easy on the eyes.
One feature that's been really cool is the inclusion of artifacts, equippable items that augment skills, enable skills from other classes, and so on. The builds you can come up with as a result are pretty impressive. For example, my Ney Samurai has a Divine Body artifact equipped, which allows her to have the passive Paladin skill of the same name, which helps her poor DEF stat and also gives a random chance of halve the damage taken from a blow in combat. Overall my damage machine is a bit more survivable because of that choice.
And a damage machine she is. She has an attack that targets the entire front line of enemies, which is great for mobs, and for single targets, her Carnage, which keeps hitting until she is hit by a counterattack, dishes out tons of damage thanks to her high EVD. Where other classes used to be the main damage dealers, it's now focusing more on her, with some backup from an archer in the back and the main character.
Yeah, it's been pretty fun. Some people might be turned off by the silly 2 lewd 4 me bits, but they're missing out on a great dungeon crawler.
I finished playing
so now it's time to play