June 30th, 2007
If there’s one thing that I sometimes feel guilty about is not being social enough. This is normally a result of me focusing too much on one particular thing and whoring it out until I am satisfied. Now I must admit, for the last 2 weeks I have been doing this for my Chinese study. I guess its a good thing though as I have made some astounding progress and am very proud of it.
Fortunately for gamer nerds like me(and probably you) I can have a great social life and game at the same time. I wanted to bring this up as I am now officially on holidays an there are a slew of great gaming events going on that are going to keep me constantly busy. Plus I had one of our regular gatherings with the boys yesterday, so it reminded me to post this. Here’s a list of what is on this holidays:
Avcon Adelaide’s Anime and Video game Convention
LPC Lan Party Central(meant to be more consoles than PCs)
Nintendo Connection Tour
O-LAN Street Geek(prolly won’t go, but its likey that my brother + friends will)
Now add to this a few general gaming sessions with the usual friends as well as catching up and doing non gaming social stuff and you have a pretty packed 3 week holiday. Don’t even let me get started on the 60+ list of games that I need to finish or future blogging plans.
I decided to post this to prove that gaming can also help out in your social life, there are plenty of great gaming events going on in your community, so I strongly recomend getting some mates together and taking a look. Even if there isn’t something on in your area create something, its not too hard to organize this sorta set up.
If you need some ideas of what events go on then here are a few suggestions:
There are piles of these on all the time, everywhere. They are definetly not too hard to find. If your into your PC games then this is the event for you. Personally I’m not really much of a PC gamer(just ain’t my vibe) so sometimes they have a few consoles set up for the softies like me.
These are definetly more popular in large/important places in the world. And down here in South Australia we don’t get enough of these. But in America they do, basically these events are to plug games to the public. So stuff like the Nintendo Connection Tour, the Fusion Tour or the Final Fantasy party that I mentioned in the last entry. You can also get freebies, so go there!
Expos are like promo events but much larger. There are a few down here in Australia, so if we have them then everywhere else in the world must have at least a few per country. I also added concerts here for game music concerts like Eminence.
Basically like LANs, but they happen on a regular basis. Usually weekly/bi-weekly. These are pretty popular at places like Universities or community centres, so look around to see whats going on in your area.
Get your mates around
Probably my favourite as everyone that attends is your friend. All that you need to do is get some mates around(usually at least 3 + yourself), get the gear and game on. This is cool as you get to choose what systems you want to play, the food etc etc. Plus there’s no sponsers. You can also mix and match, have people playing some consoles while others are on the PCs in a LAN, have a Singstar/Guitar Hero/whatever themed party.
So there you have it, go out there are get socially active fellow gamers. And be sure to drop us a little comment to tell us how you use gaming as a tool for social activity. I’d be totally interested to hear what other people do.
June 27th, 2007
Children feel really warm inside when a parent treats their child to something special. Much like children gamers feel the same way when a developer decides to treat their gamers with something special. This kind of consumer love should definitely not go unnoticed. So I have decided to talk about some of these highlights for the gamer.
Final Fantasy I + II
The great thing about these remakes are that most gamers haven’t really played the original games. There’s a lot of Final Fantasy fanboys out there that would have killed to own the original FF games but thankfully Square Enix has prevented any deaths with these two remade games. This is such a positive thing for the gaming industry as it gives gamers what they have wanted for years and honestly what we deserved.
Final Fantasy I has been shipped out to retailers just recently. Infact Square Enix know how badly people want this game that they had/have(damn American timezones) a launch party down at the Metreon Playstation Store in San Francisco.
Not to be forgotten a pile of media for FF II has been recently shown off which is definitely worth a look.
Grand Theft Auto Collectors Edition
If there’s one thing that we love as gamers, its collectables. So promotions like this one are always very welcomed. Basically for $89.99(assumingly, that’s $AUS108) you get:
-GTAIV the game for whichever console you prefer
-an artbook, which is awesome as GTA has some superbly stylistic artwork
-the original soundtrack for the game(which is only available in this pack :()
-a safety deposit box and Rockstar keychain
-a Rockstar duffel bag
This is an excellent package as its clever(the duffel bag and safety deposit box) and contains a pile of stuff that collectors and fans alike would be proud to have in your collection. Well done.
NB: This was announced sometime ago, but the first pictures have been released just recently.
Exclusive Characters for Soul Calibur IV
Much like with what happened with Soul Calibur II; Soul Calibur IV shall have console exclusive characters. Which is awesome news, although I’m not sure who they will cast for the Xbox 360 version of the game. Many Sony fans believe that Kratos from the God of War series would be an excellent choice. I of which agree as he fits into the SC universe quite nicely. Being mythical like and all. But as for the 360 who could they choose? Master Chief is far too modern for SC.
Well there you have it folks, 3 reasons to be excited about games. I love in when developers do this kind of stuff, just for us. ^_^ This might become a regular segment, not sure yet, we’ll have to see if this sort of business keeps up.
June 24th, 2007
Welcome to this new and now regular segment; Retro Review where I look back at games of old. This isn’t like a game review though, think of it more so like a retrospective. The name ‘Retro Review’ wouldn’t stop poking at my brain when it came to brainstorming names, so thats why its the review.
Lufia 2 was developed by Neverland and released on the SNES in 1996. Lufia 2 is the second title in the Lufia series and the first Lufia game to be released in PAL territories. Despite being the second in the series it is actually a prequel to the original Lufia. So where Lufia 2’s story finishes Lufia’s starts.
Lufia 2 is one of the many RPGs to have graced the Super Nintendo. Unfortunately for all its worth it received little notice from the gaming community due to its late release in the system’s life cycle. Which is disappointing as Lufia 2 was the first RPG that I fell in love with. Like many RPGs of the time period Lufia 2 contained the usual RPG cliches but what made it such a great game was its differences from the norm. The game’s story constantly evolved as you played the game. That is you did not know what the final goal was, you just waited for the next event to move you through the game.Its a bit like the TV series 24, everything is based of leads or clues to the next part. This allowed for a good variety of story scenarios and hence made the gameplay very fruitful.
After a quick tutorial the story follows, something like this. Lufia 2 begins the quiet town of Elcid. A red head swordsman called Maxim(its not that bad) and his childhood friend Tia are quietly eating dinner. Once they are done they hear news from two guards that monsters have stolen the door key at the passing between Elcid and Sundletan(a nearby village). Maxim volunteers to sort out the mess and does so successfully. After defeating the boss of that dungeon a strange woman appears and informs Maxim that his fate is to save the world. Maxim doesn’t really understand but he feels compelled to continue his adventure (you know the whole “its my destiny” thing?).
GameplayLufia 2’s gameplay is similar to that of all RPG games. That is you move from one place to another achieving various goals in order to get to the next part in the game. Lufia 2 is split up into 2 types of areas, that is the world map and specific areas. Specific areas are places of significance like dungeons, towns etc.
Battles are initiated in two ways. When traversing the world map random battles occur in the typical manner. When inside specific areas monsters walk around and once they touch you the battle begins. As the game progresses the enemies become more aggressive and get in your way quite often. These enemies can be stunned by skill items, which I will get to later.
The battle system in Lufia 2 is rather similar to the Final Fantasy series (and most 2D RPGs for that matter). When you begin a battle you have you 3 basic options of fighting, fleeing or re-arranging the character order. If you choose to fight you are presented with 5 options: Fight, defend, use item, cast spell and IP attack. IP attacks and Limit breaks (Final fantasy VII) are very similar. Basically as the character losses health the IP bar increases, once you have enough IP you can select an IP attack, these are more effective than regular attacks. IP attacks are determined by the equipment that the character is wearing.
As you proceed in the game you find various Capsule Monsters, these monsters act like an aditional party member but they cannot be contolled. There are seven different capsue monsters in the game world and they each belong to a respective element. These capsule monsters range from some sort of hulk look-a-like to a stone head, angel and some sort of ice cream man. Like all pet like creatures in RPGs they love to eat your discarded daggers and spears in order to evolve.
The further you proceed in the game the more ‘skill’ items you can obtain. This is very similar(some items are actually the same) to the items like the bow and hookshot in Zelda. Some of these skill items allow you to paralyze enemies so that you can avoid them. Although the main purpose of the skill items is to aid in solving the various puzzles situated in the dungeons.
The game’s puzzles are very well done, my main gripe with them is that many of the don’t move beyond one or two rooms. Generally they are simple puzzles that don’t get much more complex than move the block to fire the arrow at the switch which opens the gate. There are ocassional puzzles which last the whole dungeon. But most of them are just confined to a limited space. Overall they aren’t too bad.
Another feature that impressed me about Lufia 2 was the variety. The dungeons varied from cave like dungeons,towers, mountains, volcanoes, castle basements etc. Some areas such as the towers allowed you to move out to the balcony area(the camera changes to 2D) and solve further puzzles.
The most challenging aspect of Lufia 2 is the Ancient Cave. When entering this dungeon players are stripped of their items and knocked down to level one. The player must try to to survive the dungeon thru finding items scattered around the dungeon and battling enemies to level themselves up in preparation for the final boss battle. The most challenging aspect of this dungon is that it is 100 floors, thats right folks 100 floors of Lufia insanity.
Along Maxim’s travels he finds a inventory/scientsit whom joins his party and eventually creates the ultimate form of world map transport. No, its not just a blimp, its a submarine and a blimp in one. So you can fly around the map and then(in one magic transition) your blimp turns into a sub which allows you to explore the murky depths of the world map. This is really useful as it opens up a number of hidden secrets.
Almost every RPG out there has some sort of mini game system in place, for Lufia 2 that is the Markao Casino, situated at Markao the casino is full of your typial casino games like blackjack and poker. These games are all implemented so well and are insanely addictive, luckily it not a real life addicion. A cool note to add is that in the Japanese version the females in the casino are all dressed in bunnies. Awesomeness
Something that I almost forgot, each time that you finish the game you can restart the game with 2x,3x or 4x experience points. That is the first time you finish the game you can play thru again and you recieved 2x the experience points when finishing a battle.
Something that just annoyed me about this game was how they included a fairy/elf called Artea whom joins your team near the end of the game. The reasons for why I dislike him are obvious, despite being a male the guy looks ladylike, his dialogue is pouncy and his name is just so damn confusing, he is called Artea in the game and yet on the menu screen he is called Arty. He also joins your party too late in the game, so you don’t really want to use him as you have all of the other cool characters t play with. At least he has some cool dark magic spells like Fry.
There’s no denying that Lufia 2 has some clever puzzles, but they got it all wrong when it came down to the puzzle at Alunze Kindgom Basement. I was stuck on this puzzle for about 4 months. Right near the end of the dungeon, just before you reach the final boss they spring 3 block puzzles on you. It was the final one that stumped me. Fortunately I nabbed a play guide off the net and managed to defeat this monstorous puzzle. I also managed to nab a screen dump of this puzzle being solved. Just incase you too need the help.
PAL and NTSC differences
Lufia 2 is the first Lufia game for PAL regions, the original Lufia: Fortress of Doom was never released in PAL territories and hence Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals is shortened to just Lufia. The box art is also different, the background is a pinky purple colour in the PAL regions. The PAL version was also released a year after the NTSC version.
Lufia 2:Rise of the Sinestrals is a great RPG game that had unfortunately missed the boat due to its late release. The game in an interesting mix of Final Fantasy-esque battles and Zelda like adventuring. The game is somewhat a typical RPG affair but its differences make it a worthy game for any traditional RPG fan out there.