I got the true ending and platinum trophy to Steins;Gate this morning. Stayed up until 5:30 and then had to take a nap before I completed it to do it, but it has been done.
I owe this game more words when I have the time and energy to muster them, but in the event I never get to it, Steins;Gate is a brilliant, beautiful game. Right up there with 999 as my favorite visual novel. It's sad — depressing almost, at times — and chilling, quirky and brilliant. Much like 999 and VLR, it mixes plot-y VN stuff with science (hard science, in this case) in a really enjoyable and entertaining way. It's a game that I wish I could pry open and go even deeper into. Maybe that's what the sequel will be.
In any event, in my attempts to write these things down so that I don't forget them, I'm sitting here listening to the soundtrack now (it's now safe to listen to, since I can't have audio-spoilers now that I completed the game) and just feeling kind of melancholy thinking of the in-game scenes where some of these music cues hit. The big thematic plot elements for GATE OF STEINER -Piano-. hesitative consideration's mix of despair and resolve when things go astray. Solitude's heartwrenching pain, but also its core's role in underscoring a lot of the game's pivotal tender moments (a role shared with the pensive, yet sometimes joyful, caution of Believe me). The ending themes. Skyclad Observer's role as the opening theme, but also kind of an ending theme. Select of Sorrow's tension. The day-to-days of so many other tracks. Hell, the meta-quality of how easily the game bounces between themes in the soundtrack.
I wish I could spoil a bunch of things here, just to recall them, and have them recallable at a moment's notice, but I won't. The game's too high on the "must play" list to do that to everyone else.
Game music is such an important element of my enjoyment of games that I savor this part of completing a game almost as much as the game's ending itself — pouring over the memories associated with soundtracks, just sitting and recalling. The soundtrack is beautiful because of how I experienced it in a beautiful game. I hope I play through Steins;Gate again some time. I want to play through Steins;Gate again some time. I want to let the memories of it rest a bit, settle in my mind, and then bring them back to the fore a year from now, or two years from now, or whenever makes sense. I'll revisit it.
But if I don't ever, I'll have the soundtrack and posts like this one to remind me of how much I love that game.
I poured more into this post than I thought I would. I just want to never forget this game. I've been saying that about a number of games lately, but I don't feel shame over it. Maybe a bit embarrassed that I'm worried I'll forget them, but whatever.
Please play Steins;Gate.
The super pretty-looking IA/VT Colorful's Crystal Box comes with a pouch, Vita skin, sticker set, cleaning cloth, strap, charm strap, card case, and fancy collector's box.
I've only had this on preorder for two years or something, looking forward to finally playing it.
Been playing a bunch of games, haven't had the time to write up anything on any of them, but I'm hoping to get to it eventually. In any event, games:
Lots of fun, certainly one of my favorite action games on Vita to this point. Wandering around in virtual Akihabara is a treat. Platinumed.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Even more rad than the first one. The plot's as insane, the characters pretty cool (but not as cool as the first game's, unfortunately), gameplay quite improved. Really hoping we get Another Episode and that a third game happens. Platinumed.
Alright. Would have liked it a lot more had it used traditional controls rather than touch controls. The style of it, though, so great, and having an Akira Yamaoka end theme is awesome.
I'm currently playing (among others) Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, and Freedom Wars, trying to make some ground before the next big thing I'm looking forward to, Tales of Hearts R. GAMES
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.
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've been really bad at updating, lately, but I just beat Final Fantasy X HD (on Vita, naturally). This is a game I really should have played a long time ago. :(
Detailed impressions maybe later some time, but yeah, liked it a lot. Maybe one of my favorite FFs now? Hard to say.
Just finished Persona 3 Portable a couple minutes ago. I should sleep, and write more later, but what a lovely game.
Danganronpa is stylish as hell, crammed with catchy music, some interesting gameplay hybrids, and a pretty pointed bit of commentary. High school students, the ultimate in their respective skills, are trapped in a school where the only escape is murder. It's been described as Ace Attorney x Zero Escape, among similar comparisons, and that is accurate — making, unsurprisingly, a pretty excellent combination.
The game is, essentially, a visual novel with minigames, each chapter having three general sections. For the first couple days in each chapter, the majority of your time is spent talking to your fellow students in a Persona Social Link kind of system. This yields some skills for use in the third section of the chapter. Eventually the free time is interrupted by a murder, and you have a fairly procedural murder investigation to conduct, inspecting crime scenes and bodies and beginning to string together your evidence in the form of Truth Bullets. These bullets are used in the third section, the actual trial, where you have to present evidence, shoot down lies, and engage in various minigames to uncover truths and ultimately prove the case.
The murder investigations are never too obtuse, and set a pretty good balance between "easy, but playable" and "full of expected twists". People familiar with games of this ilk will probably not find much outlandishly surprising, but will have enough to latch on to to have a good time with the investigations and trials regardless.
An awful lot has to be said about how stylish the game is. The character designs and art style are very distinctive, and especially on the Vita, have a large degree of "pop", both chromatically and as a style. The blood, for example, is not blood in order to skirt Japanese ratings, but the bright pink hue is more distinctive and just as memorable. The entire game, in short, just looks great.
It sounds great, too. The game has a number of earworms, composed by Masafumi Takada, that play at certain thematic events through the chapters, and the voice acting is strong and impressively diverse. A huge breadth of character is shown throughout the game among the eclectic cast, and for the most part the voice actors nail it.
Without wandering too much into spoilers, because essentially the rest of the internet has at this point, the game revels in the message of despair — and with the game's murder mystery investigation trappings, it has plenty of space to do so. But as the game pivots from straight murder mystery to an overarching metaplot, it makes sure that you do not forget despair. The final chapter of the game, of course, brings its themes and messages to the fore, to great effect, and perhaps in a future post I'll write more about what I thought of the final chapter and epilogue. It's pretty great though.
I have to do the bonus content still, so I'm not done, but yeah — pretty great. I hope to eventually do the more spoilery post, too.
I liked Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God more than I expected I would.
The best part of Sorcery Saga is how endearingly, saccharinely cute the entire thing is. This isn't to say much against the rest of the game, but Sorcery Saga is about how fun and delightful it all is. The protagonist, Pupuru, is super cute. She's has a naivety that is there to be silly, but is strong enough to tell the villains, all inept in their own amusing ways, when (and how) to take a hike because she has a restaurant to save with great curry recipes, darn it!
The game, ultimately, is a pretty forgiving roguelike, as far as roguelikes go. Your pet needs to eat, but you do not, you can return to town to store items, even when you die, you can usually make it out of the dungeons with your equipped weapon and shield, so on and on. It is not a roguelike made to punish, it is one made to just have a nice, casual game about curry and dungeon crawling.
There's some good music, primarily the town themes and the great opening theme. Cutscenes are mostly portraits, with a handful of full illustrations for story stuff. All in all, the game is just fun. It's pleasant to play and never demands too much from you. No deep plot to follow, no extreme challenge, just a nice game to play.
And, that is probably its only weakness — I'll admit to getting kind of overpowered by wise weapon management and flying through the end as a result, but the game kind of overstayed its welcome at the end. The main game is pretty well-paced, but it's a bit too easy, and walking over dungeons without much risk and two-shotting bosses has the unfortunate effect of making the gameplay a bit of a slog to get to the next (great) story element. Perhaps I'm just too used to these kinds of games.
The only other criticism really noteworthy is that in large dungeon floors with a lot of monsters running around, the game slows down as you move, which is annoying and a bit frustrating because the game looks pretty good otherwise.
Nevertheless, a good little game, I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a delightful little roguelike. Pupuru, her allies, and the rogue's gallery of inept antagonists are all just too much fun.
... I really miss how P4G does dungeon exploration. Fatigue is such a drag! Otherwise I'm really enjoying it, and it's interesting to see the pieces that obviously inspired P4 and/or P4G. Still working on picking my waifu.
(Oh yeah, and I'll maybe get my Sorcery Saga and Ys backlog cleared this week, now that I'm back home and not ailed with the plague.)