Monthly Archives: January 2009

GOTY Revisions

I updated my Game of the Year post because I couldn’t decide between Professor Layton and the Curious Village and No More Heroes. I’m just leaving it a tie between the two!

Top 10 Games of 2008

Here are my top ten games from 2008. I listed twelve games because I’m including Ubeat, which was only location tested in America, and Rhythm Tengoku Gold, which is only available in Japan. If I’m considering those two games, my list should stop at entry ten; If I’m not, then disregard them but consider the last two entries.
1. No More Heroes
1. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
3. Ubeat
4. The World Ends With You
5. Castle Crashers
6. Braid
7. Wrath of the Lich King
8. Rhythm Tengoku Gold
9. LittleBigPlanet
10. Grand Theft Auto IV
11. Left 4 Dead
12. Mario Kart Wii

Guilty Gear XX ^ Core (Wii)

Finally I was able to try the game at which I’ve been aiming! Guilty Gear XX ^ Core great graphics and character design, cool music, and challenging fighting. The aesthetic is great. Characters are varied and extremely interesting with quite beautiful sprites. Heavy metal music plays most of the time, and the levels have pretty interesting also. The whole thing has a futuristic, industrial, fantasy vibe to it. There isn’t a story mode, only arcade, versus, and survival. I haven’t really got a good feel for the tension gauge and special moves; I’m pretty new to fighting games actually, so I’m not sure I’m going to get the hang of it! I’m enjoying it so far though and plan to put more time into it.

I Will Make You Something Chain Letter Thing

I got this from William, who got this from Allison.
The first Seven (7) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
– I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
– What I create will be just for you.
– It’ll be done this year (2009).
– You have no clue what it’s going to be. It may be a mix CD. It may be a poem. I may draw or paint something. I might bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
– I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.
The catch? Oh, the catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well, if you expect me to do something for you!

I don’t have comments enabled, so just let me know any way you want.

Posts To Write

In place of actually writing posts that I’ve been meaning to write, here’s a list of my post backlog!

  • What I’ve Been Playing for last Thursday (even though in a couple days I’ll need a new one)
  • Review of Naruto Clash of Ninja Revolution
  • Retro Review of Super Off Road
  • Obama!
  • Review of Ninjatown
  • Review of Tap Tap Revenge
  • Review of DDR S Lite
  • Review of TapDefense
  • Review Monster Hunter Freedom
  • Review Prey the Stars
  • Top 10 Games of 2008
  • Top 12 Games to Finish in 2009
  • Analysis of Games Purchased and Played in 2008

Hellgate: London to Stay Alive

Massively reported today at 10:00 AM Pacific that Hellgate: London will not go down at the end of January! Flagship Studios, the developer, was only going to continue to run servers until January 31, 2009; however, HanbitSoft, the current IP owner, has decided to keep the game online using the free-to-play model.
This is great news! I do feel bad for all the people who have been giving away items and palladium. Luckily I was not one of those people! I suppose the free-to-play model implies that HanbitSoft will be offering microtransactions to make money off the game. That’s fine with me! The article also mentions the possibility of an expansion. According to Wikipedia, Flagship Studios was working on an expansion called The Second Invasion that would take place in Korea. Of course, HanbitSoft now owns the rights to that too, but there hasn’t been any confirmation of them releasing it. In the novels, which take place before HG:L the game, there were rumors of Hellgates opening all over the world. Assuming this expansion takes place after Hellgate: London and that it is indeed about the second invasion, those rumors the characters heard must have been false.

Platypus (PSP)

Summary: Cool claymation graphics, but not much else going for it.
Platypus for PSP caught my eye because it was a horizontal scrolling shooter with an interesting look. The graphics are entirely claymation. The game was created by Squashy Software, who is actually one man, which is impressive.
The game has a relatively simple story: Aliens are attacking the planet, and you have to defend your home. I’m fine with playing a scrolling shooter without caring about a complicated story. The music is satisfactory but nothing special. The levels all seem pretty similar as do the enemies. The only real difference in the enemy types are their speeds and how many hits it takes to destroy them. There are a handful of powerups which change your attack for a limited amount of time. Because they’re time based, there is no reason to hold your fire. Platypus includes a survival mode that seems interesting. There’s also online co-op, but I didn’t have any luck finding someone with whom to play.
The game is moderately fun, the graphics are pretty cool, and it’s impressive that a single person made the game; However, I would recommend skipping this PSP purchase unless it’s very cheap. If you really want to take a look, it’s available for free on the PC. Check Squashy Software to download it.

Guilty Gear 2 Overture (360)

Summary after 15 minutes: Rather ugly, bland, and cliché. I’m interested in getting a little farther to see what it feels like outside of the tutorials, but I don’t think I’ll play it after tonight.
Extended summary: The combat system is more interesting than I originally thought, but the game seems average overall. It’s hard to overcome the clichés and bad voice acting.
Guilty Gear 2 Overture seems to be a cross between a 3D hack and slash like Devil May Cry and a 2D fighter. The introduction was very bland. The game gives a little background, teaching the player that giant, living machines called Gears were used in a great war, but they’re no longer used – an overused idea. You play as a bounty hunter who now has been forced to simply hunt rabbits. You seem to hate anything to do with the monarch of the kingdom. Your apprentice for some reason demands that you train, asking you to move, jump, slash, and other things that an apprentice should not ask of a master. You also don’t seem to know the apprentice. Is this another overused concept, amnesia, or something else?
The graphics started out pretty bland through the long and boring introduction. The training area is not skipable and simply teaches controls that could be guessed. The left stick moves, the right stick moves the camera, A jumps, X and Y attack, and the right trigger locks-on. Like most 3D hack and slash games, hitting different attacks in different orders causes your character to do different combos. I was amused that the achievement that unlocked for finishing the training mission was titled “Hello World.”
The game seems to borrow some flavoring from Japanese RPGs in a minor sense. In addition to being able to use items during battle, the character designs remind of common Japanese RPG or SRPG characters. Also, when the characters talk, a portrait of the character appears along with the text of what he is saying. The voice acting was rather bad so far.
The music is decent enough and fitting, but the graphics were darker than I expected. I was hoping for bright, colorful, beautiful characters but was instead greeted with dull, dark colors, characters who seemed apathetic (common in Japanese RPGs it seems), and a sword that clipped through the ground when the character stood still.
After that first training mission, I was able to start the next mission. The game changes to focus on the monarch that was disliked earlier. While the castle was rather dark, the monarch and his guards were colorful and detailed, giving me what I was hoping for in terms of aesthetics.
I think I made the mistake of trying out Guilty Gear 2 Overture when I should have been looking at some of the previous Guilty Gear titles.
Added after an additional 15 to 20 minutes of play:
The combat is a bit more interesting than I originally thought. You can attack certain structures to gain various other units/soldiers that fight alongside you, with each offering a different advantage. This is very similar to use of different types of units in RTS games. Guilty Gear 2 Overture actually has a quite interesting game mechanic, making it a 3D strategy hack and slash. The clichés, including a character with cat-like ears, mixed with the original strategy mechanic makes this game remind me of the niche strategy and SRPGs made by NIS or Atlus. That said, I think this game is missing the charm that those have. To fully see the intrigue of this game to see if you like it you should definitely play at least a half hour, but I still think the game is just average and will not continue to play it.

Best Music Game and UBeat, Rhythm Tengoku Gold

Someone brought up why I didn’t choose UBeat for Best Music Game of the year. On the one hand, Japan has a great number of games released that we don’t get or haven’t yet received here in America. For that reason, it seems unfair to consider them in the award choices. On the other hand, I also didn’t play the majority of US releases. I considered the games I played, and I did play both UBeat and Rhythm Tengoku Gold. If these games were to be considered, they would both beat Rock Band 2 by a large margin with UBeat coming out as the champion.
For that reason I think I should stick with my choice for Best Music Game, but I’d like to talk about why UBeat would have won if it was released and why I’m sure it’ll win in the future if and when it’s released here.
UBeat is basically Whac-A-Mole set to music with a 4 x 4 grid of buttons with LCD screens instead of moles. Each screen plays a short video when it’s time to hit them, with a particular point in the video being the exact moment at which the LCD button should be pressed. The song list during the location test here in Irvine was small but impressive. I was thrilled to see Scatman John’s Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop) in the game and played it quite a few times. The machine is also sexy as hell. I know that Konami wants to suck me in with the flashy machine, but I have to say, if lights and the look of the physical machine count as an attract mode, this game has a much better attract mode than any other game I’ve played! On a side note, Dance Dance Revolution X, which was also location tested at the same place and time, was also quite flashier than its predecessors. To get back on topic, the UBeat cabinets were small, sleek, and sexy! I’d love to have on in my house some day, and I’m really hoping they’re brought to America. You can read my review of it here.
Rhythm Tengoku Gold is a DS game utilizing only the touch screen in various rhythm based games. While most music/rhythm games could be played without the music, Rhythm Tengoku Gold would be impossible without the music. In fact, once I’ve figured out how a particular game works, which is hard because the game’s in Japanese, I can close my eyes and continue to play based only on the audio cues.

Video Game Awards 2008

To follow what I did last year, it’s time for me to declare my video game awards for 2008 using Spike TV’s categories. Obviously, I’m didn’t play every game that came out or even every major game; this shows my preferences based on what I played, not true ranking of 2008’s games.
I’m revising my Game of the Year. I’ve been really torn, so I’m just leaving it a tie between No More Heroes and Professor Layton and the Curious Village.
Game of the Year: No More Heroes
I had a lot of fun playing this. The controls were interesting, and the bosses were fun, humorous, and challenging. Many of the bosses tempted me to try to find strategies online, but I managed to resist. I felt like I really shared the main character’s feelings of both excitement and disappointment. Only another year until No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle!
Studio of the Year: Grasshopper Manufacture
They made No More Heroes! Win!
Game of the Year: Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) by Level-5
This game was just wonderful. I was first drawn in by the beautiful art and was pleased to find such an amazing game. Level-5 did a great job blending a point and click adventure game into a puzzle / riddle game. Both aspects of the game would be far less fun without the other. The music, characters, and story were all great, and I find myself still exclaiming “I think I’ve got it” when I’ve solved a problem. It was very enjoyable to play this while two other people I knew played copies as well, and it kept me entertained for a long time. I’m looking forward to Pandora’s Box.
Studio of the Year: Level-5
This seems like a weird category to me. I suppose a company that released many really great games could be considered better than a company that released one game that was the best, but I’d say as a rule of thumb, the studio behind the Game of the Year should be studio of the year. For that reason and the reasons I included in my reasoning behind picking Layton as game of the year, I think Level-5 is studio of the year.
Best Shooter: Left 4 Dead (Steam) by Valve
This was a touch choice for me because I really enjoyed Gears of War 2. However, Gears just felt like more of the same only a cheaper experience (although it was a truly bromantic game). I also feel like I haven’t given Left 4 Dead proper attention yet. I didn’t want to play online with random people until I had time to sit down and play it with friends, but I still haven’t. How can I talk about a game designed for multiplayer without having ever played it with another human? Really, I shouldn’t. But I will. The game feels amazing with the multitude of zombies and the speed that they come at the player. It feels like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Weeks Later. The graphics look amazing, and I love the B-movie feel. Each campaign has a corresponding movie poster, and the film grain setting makes the game feel like a horror B-movie. Another wonderful job from Valve.
Best RPG: The World Ends With You (DS) by Square-Enix
This game definitely surprised me! I haven’t really liked an RPG in a long time, but The World Ends With You was very close to being my game of the year. What really drew me in was the amazing art style. The game looked amazing with its urban inspired graphics and motion comic style (comic book style art with frames that occasionally have small amounts of motion). With rock, hip-hop, and electronica, the soundtrack was great and perfectly fit, at least to an American, the graphics and feel of Shibuya, the setting of the game. The plot was definitely intriguing and motivating, but Square-Enix never disappoints there. The battle system was fascinating and complex, requiring gamers to control two characters separately, one on each screen, and each with a different battle system. The game required players to stop into stores for new clothes and food, reminding me very much of Rivercity Ransom, one of my all time favorite games. Probably the greatest feature of this game was the ability to change the difficulty on the fly, which changes what drops you can get from enemies, and the ability to lower your level, which causes the drop rate to increase. The World Ends With You was truly an amazing game.
Best Individual Sports Game: Wii Fit (Wii) by Nintendo EAD
I’m not sure I’d call Wii Fit an individual sports game, but Spike TV did. Honestly, I definitely think it helps people lose weight if they keep at it. It’s fun to play with friends (at first), and it’s entertaining when people refuse to play because it calls them fat. However, I have to admit that I can’t think of any other games I played that fit in this category. Win by default!
Best Handheld Game: Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) by Level-5
Big surprise there, eh?
Best Graphics: The World Ends With You (DS) by Square-Enix
I don’t think there’s a need to praise this game again. It was beautiful though.
Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360) by LucasArts
I want to start by saying that this game definitely had its share of problems. I don’t think it deserves to be anywhere near a game of the year discussion, but there weren’t a lot of games that I played based on movies of TV shows. There problems with having to replay long areas after dying and spiking difficulty in some bosses. That said, it was a fun hack and slash and a great addition to the Star Wars universe. The game looked great, and I liked the voice acting. Most importantly, I really liked learning the story of the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and seeing the formation of the Rebel Alliance.
Best Music Game: Rock Band 2 (360) by Harmonix
What can I say? I wanted to stick with Harmonix because they’ve been in the genre longer and had experience with full band games. I like the feel of it more than Guitar Hero World Tour, its main competitor, and think the song selection is better. Nothing beats playing Rock Band 2 at parties, and it’s also great when a friend or two visit. There are a ton of songs to download, and the ability to rip the songs from the original Rock Band is fantastic.
Best Driving Game: Mario Kart Wii (Wii) by Nintendo EAD
Mario Kart Wii didn’t hold me like Mario Kart Double Dash did, but it was still a lot of fun! It was fun to play casually with non-gamers using the wheel and fun to play competitively with Mario Kart fans without the wheel. I just wish the online play didn’t have the blasted friend code nonsense. Also, I have to say that despite the game not being a “driving game,” Grand Theft Auto IV came very close in this category. Driving in it is fantastic.
Best Action Adventure Game: Grand Theft Auto IV (360) by Rockstar North
Before playing this game, I thought it was horribly stupid. I didn’t want to pretend to be some gangster. After putting a few hours into this game, I was truly amazed. There are some annoying controls, and at the beginning of the game, players are taught how to do things that they don’t really need to do. However, the driving is a ton of fun, and story is definitely motivating enough to continue playing. The voice acting is superb, and the satire and critique of the United States was very entertaining. I find myself always listening to talk radio when driving just to hear them make fun of our country. I also really like that the game gives players a lot of options as to what to do next while still never leaving the player feeling confused about their next goal.
Best Soundtrack: The World Ends With You (DS) by Square-Enix
I already talked about this before, so there’s no reason to talk about it again. However, I’d like to mention that I think games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero don’t belong in this category. What makes a soundtrack good is not only great songs but also songs that fit the feel of the game well. There is no game outside of the songs in Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
Best Xbox 360 Game: Castle Crashers (XBLA) by The Behemoth
What an amazing four player experience this game is! I’ve completed it at least four or five times now and look forward to playing it more! It’s a fantastic four player online or local hack and slash with the feel of an SNES era arcade game but modern game ideas and RPG elements. Leveling up makes the game interesting, and the ability to resuscitate fallen allies make the game very fun! There’s definitely a lot of entertainment when I’m playing with three of my friends and we spend a minute or two bringing each other back to life while we continually die. There’s a lot of humor in the game, and a lot of characters, weapons, and animal orbs (helpers) in the game. I’m definitely anxious to see what The Behemoth is working on next.
Best Wii Game: No More Heroes (Wii) by Grasshopper Manufacture
This is by far the best Wii game released to date. This was my first Suda51 game, and I was very happy with it. You play as Travis Touchdown, a young man who gets a beam katana and decides to become an assassin. The storyline is crazy and fun, and I’ve been using the main riff as my town tune in Animal Crossing. The graphics are stylish and interesting, and the story becomes clearer and crazier at the same time. This is one of the few (only?) action games on the Wii to actually benefit from the motion controls. Yes, games like Trauma Center would suck without motion controls, but it seems to me that while No More Heroes probably could be played with a standard controller, it actually benefited from having the motion controls as opposed to most games in which the motion control feels forced. The game consists of a series of bad mini-games in a fake open world environment followed by a boss battle. The mini-games only take a few minutes; the bulk of the game is boss battles. Beating each boss feels very fulfilling, and I loved every one of them. My favorite part of this game was minor spoiler (click to show).
Best PS3 Game: LittleBigPlanet (PS3) by Media Molecule
This may have been my biggest dissapointment on PS3, but it was also my favorite! It was buggy, “floaty” feeling, and imprecise, but it was adorable and a lot of fun. I love platformers, and I definitely don’t regret purchasing this despite not having a PS3. I haven’t played it since the online features were improved, so hopefully finding new levels has been made easier. I played a wonderful Shadow of the Colossus level when the game first came out that made me appreciate the user created levels. I’m looking forward to playing this more with my girlfriend and friends and hope to play through the Metal Gear Solid DLC soon.
Best PC Game: Wrath of the Lich King (PC) by Blizzard
I feel a little torn about this. As someone who is usually a little more artsy, it seems weird to give an award to World of Warcraft. Really though, Blizzard did some fantastic work here. I would like to say right off that I’m including some content that went with Wrath of the Lich King but was available to people who didn’t purchase it in my consideration of Wrath. First, the achievement system gives some great incentive to do some interesting things and provides casual end-game. The statistics are also entertaining. The world plague leading up to the release sounded fantastic, and I’m pleased Blizzard included that kind of thing. Sadly, I didn’t see it. The Death Knight class is interesting, and the Death Knight starting zone was some of the most amazing gameplay I’d had in World of Warcraft. Also, I’m happy that Wrath introduces raids that have both 10-man and 25-man settings and that Blizzard has made raids easier. This means that I now have a chance to see end-game properly.
Best Original Score: The World Ends With You (DS) by Square-Enix
Skipping this explanation!
Best Multiplayer Game: Castle Crashers (XBLA) by The Behemoth
I talked about this one already too.
Best Independent Game: Braid (XBLA) by Number None, Inc.
I enjoy the simple seeming platforming and time mechanic that slowly changes and gets more complex as the game proceeds. I’ve never seen this kind of mechanic in a game before. Some levels allow you to reverse time by holding down a button on the controller; some levels make running a certain direction on the screen cause time to flow in the reverse direction. There’s a lot of references to other games, and Jonathan Blow, the creator, definitely loves video games. It’s really quite beautiful and feels like a twisted Super Mario Bros.
Best Fighting Game: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) by Sora
I really didn’t play all the fighting games I wanted to this year, but I did enjoy Brawl. It didn’t hold my attention much after the first few weeks, but the multiplayer was crazy when it first came out, and I really enjoyed the single player campaign despite players being forced to replay the same levels. I especially liked the fan service with Sonic in the single player. My only complaints are that the online multiplayer sucked and the characters look so damn small in four player matches when everyone is far apart and the camera is way back.
Best Male Voice: Stephen Fry as The Narrator in LittleBigPlanet (PS3) by Media Molecule
Just go watch the introduction. Really.
Best Female Voice: Paula Tiso as Sylvia Christel in No More Heroes (Wii) by Grasshopper Manufacture
I loved how Tiso made Sylvia seemed angry, violent, sadistic, sexual, and flirtatious all at once. Sylvia was a wonderful character, and Tiso really made her come alive. Without her talented voice work, this game would not have been anywhere near as great as it was.
Big Name in the Game Male, Big Name in the Game Female, Best Team Sports Game: N/A
I don’t feel like I can properly make decisions for these categories. I have no opinion on the first two and didn’t play any team sports games at all.

Another Late Game Journal

It looks like I missed two weeks of Game Journal. But that’s okay, because I’m sure this isn’t even interesting to anyone!
I’ve put most of my at home gaming time into World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto IV. In GTA4 I managed to make it to the third island and am still enjoying it, although this past week or two I’ve been slacking in that game. In WoW we finally hit 55 and created Death Knights. The DK starting area is really cool. I enjoyed it a lot. I went herbalism/inscription on my Death Knight, so I’ve actually spend some time just running around collecting herbs. How sad! I gave up skinning on Devee to take enchanting. I’m a little sad about losing skinning, but my enchanting is now at 250-something, so that’s cool!
Lately I’ve been playing TapDefense and Warfare Incorporated quite a bit on my iPhone. It’s starting to replace my DS as my primary portable gaming device. It’s not that it’s a better gaming system; it’s definitely not. It’s just that it’s always with me, and my DS, now that I have some iPhone games, isn’t. I was also playing Space Deadbeef, a cool scrolling shooter, which I wrote about.
On the DS I’ve been trying to finish the bonus puzzles in Layton as well as play through Phoenix Wright: Justice for All.
And of course, I’ve been making an amazing tree in plantae!

Quite the Night

Early this evening, I was bitching that I didn’t think anything would get done tonight. It was already about 8 or 9 o’clock, and I had accomplished nothing. But that changed! First, William, gem and I completed the third homing beacon quest and got our Mechanical Chicken! I was pretty thrilled =D During the quest, a ?? Paladin killed me and chased gem, finally killing her. Then Calabrand, our guild’s 80, caught up with him. It was fun watching the fight! Calabrand won!
Next I finally got the courage to give up skinning! I’ll miss all the presents 🙁 I feel kind of bad about it. But I did pick up enchanting! It’s at 72 right now. There are a lot of mats for it though. Luckily Calabrand bought me an enchanting bag and a mining bag.
Lastly, on the zep on the way from Orgrimmar to Undercity, the zep from Undercity to Northrend went past me, and I managed to jump on top of it. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but then the game loaded in Northrend. I was still on top of the zep and was kind of stuck. I kept hitting jump and eventually was able to jump down. Sadly there wasn’t a lot for me to do there, so I just hearthed away. It sure was fun though!

Space Deadbeef Not Worthy of GameFAQs

Apparently GameFAQs thinks Space Deadbeef is not worthy of being on its site. I cross-post most WebPageless game reviews onto GameFAQs as well. However, Space Deadbeef wasn’t listed. I submitted data for the game, and it took over a week for them to reject it, saying I needed to submit proof. The data you submitted needs to be confirmed. Please provide a link to an official or reputable web site that confirms this submission’s accuracy. Funny, when I submitted data for UBeat it didn’t need any proof.
I submitted again with links to the Apple Store. They rejected it again, with a message that made me angrier. GameFAQs normally lists only commercially released games, with a few exceptions for very popular non-commercial titles. The game you submitted does not meet those requirements at this time.
GameFAQs has Chex Quest in its database. It was free, but yes, it was popular. It also has Codename: Gordon, the Steam game that was removed from Steam’s listings because the game has a link to the developer’s website in it, and that site is now some sort of porn or piracy site. The only way to install it is with a direct link, and I don’t think Codename: Gordon was very popular. Maybe I’m wrong though. I did enjoy the game.
GameFAQs also has Aegis Wing, a free horizontal scrolling shooter for XBLA, in its database. I don’t think that was very popular either, but I guess the 360 is pretty popular. But GameFAQs even has Yaris in its database. Yaris is a horrible advertisement game created by Toyoto to promote its Yaris car. It was a bad XBLA game that I’ve tried. It was horrible. Horrible by every evaluation.
Space Deadbeef is free game for the iPhone, which might not have numbers like other consoles but is still pretty popular. That said, it’s one of the few games that’s really a game. It’s one of the few that prove that the iPhone can actually be a gaming platform. People were promoting it as a gaming platform when the App Store first opened and bad versions of Monkey Ball and Bomberman were available. Now that an actually interesting game from a known and talented (although maybe not well known in the West) developer is in the App Store, GameFAQs refuses to list it simply because it’s free? It seems stupid to me that they’re hurting this game’s reputation because the developer chose to give it away for free. Please, if anyone reads this and has an iPhone, at least give it a download and try it.

Steambot Chronicles (PS2)

Summary: Pretty and worth looking at a little longer but very annoying and cliché.
In an effort to move through my Game Fly queue more quickly and accomplish something while I’m at it, I’ve decided (at gem’s suggestion) to write reviews of games after having played them for fifteen minutes each! First up is Steambot Chronicles for the PS2, published by Atlus and developed by Irem Software Engineering.
The game has some rather bland graphics for the general world, but the characters are done in a nice looking cell shading. The tutorial begins with some pirates finding two young children (teens?) stowed away, one of them being you. The captain offers to teach you to pilot Trotmobiles, and if you can do so correctly, she’ll let you stay and join. The tutorial was really boring. They go through steps just to teach you that it uses the two sticks for tank controls. Then it goes through some more steps to teach you that R2 jumps and L2 boosts. I figured out that R1 causes me to punch (or do something that looks like punching). I skipped the boosting tutorial because it seems my L2 is broken. Shortly after I gave up and quit the tutorial. It was very boring.
The game starts with a short quiz about how you’d respond to particular scenarios. I’m guessing this determines your personality. They were interesting and short at only three questions. Next your character wakes up on a beach unable to remember anything, and a young woman finds him. There are some dialog choices and a little bit of running around before you get a Trotmobile again.
Every time you run up to something you can interact with, an icon appears on the screen. After you press the X button, there’s some lag before a menu pops up asking what you want to do. Usually there’s just “do whatever you wanted to do” and “cancel.” Can’t the game assume I want to open the door if I walked up and pressed X? Why would I want to open a menu and then click cancel? There’s lag before every choice, menu, and dialog. Also, doing anything changes to a very small segment in which control is taken away from the player. Of course, there’s lag before these as well. The voice acting is not very good, but it’s not so horrible as to make me mute my television. Also, the game has the annoying feature that so many jrpgs do of making loud splashing noises when I run through water, crunching noises when I run through grass, and shuffling noises when I run through dirt. Worst of all, there are cicadas making noises constantly. What the hell is wrong with Japanese people putting these in anime and games?
And that was about fifteen minutes into the game. So, what did I think of it? The story seems pretty generic. I’m a young guy found by a pretty girl (so far called Pretty Girl) who can’t remember his past. How pathetically cliché. Despite the fact that the graphics have bits of ugly 3Dness, I like the cell shading a lot. The audio is very annoying, but I kind of like the talking in a bad voice acting kind of way. The characters have a tendency to do some sliding while running (common in older games especially), and I wish the camera would look left when I press left rather than look right. I haven’t reached any sort of combat yet at all or level system (if there is one). The game interests me enough to make me want to continue playing it at least until I see combat. If I don’t get a chance to tonight, I’ll still hold on to the game for a few more days. That said, if I don’t get to it by the end of the week, I’m sending it back anyways.