May 2nd, 2014
You can find part #1 here.
Fire Emblem Awakening
- Fire Emblem with the edges rounded off. Yusuke Kozaki’s character designs, an expressive localisation, and a streamlining of systems and interface give the game a humanity which is grounded by the core mechanical additions of strategic alignment of units and unit groupings. These two new mechanics are an elegant way of increasing the game’s strategic breadth while anchoring the characters. There’s certainly an aura to Fire Emblem Awakening.
- In saying these things, I’m highly skeptical of Fire Emblem‘s strategy gameplay. After I completed Game Design Companion, I played a number of SRPGs (Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, Jean d’arc, and Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together) and took extensive notes on the genre. At some point in the future, I’d like to write up a complete investigation.
Resident Evil Revelations
- Survival horror operates on the fine balance between resources and threat. In the earlier Resident Evil games, the player had few munitions and limited control over the camera, so even a small group of zombies were dangerous. In Resident Evil 4, the player’s artillery and control over the camera increased, but so did the number of threats. Revelations is a combination of both kinds of horror. Resources are scant, the player can control the camera (although their view, of course, is still restricted—perhaps even more so by the 3DS’s lower resolution forcing a closer perspective), and, in an unexpected twist, the enemies convulse sporadically, making them difficult to hit. From sparse groups, to mobs, to one-on-one encounters.
- My initial reaction was that the combat isn’t very fair, but I probably need more time and research to think this one out. I’m putting my thoughts on hold until The Evil Within comes out.
- The lack of enemy hit-stun is concerning.
- The first person mode is interesting in that it harkens back to the earlier versions of Resident Evil 4.
Final Fantasy: Theatrhythm
- An easier version of Elite Beat Agents with the notes coming in from left to right as oppose to appearing anywhere on the screen.
- Using the bottom screen to respond to notes on the top screen lacks the directness of simply touching the notes as they appear.
- Unlike Theatrhythm, actions in HarmoKnight are more direct because you’re pressing buttons to interact within the game world, as opposed to trying to match up your stylus movements with actions occurring on another screen.
- The cutscenes in this game are so attractive to look at.
- The meaty tutorial is front-loaded at the start of the demo, instead of presented in context when the player needs it. This puts a huge strain on the demo’s pacing and leaves the player with a list of things to remember that they have no conceptual understanding of. Worse still, when the player is later given the opportunity to play around with the game’s systems, the tutorial is nowhere to be found. A simple button on the touch screen would have been suffice. Because of the lack of tutorial, I found it hard to appreciate this game.
- This game is very Matsuno in style, and I’m a big fan, but it’s going to be a pass from me this time.
- The menus are a gorgeous mess. Key information should be prioritised. Everything else should be tucked away.
Project X Zone
Wow. How much time you got? This game is a complete mess . I’m not even going to bother writing about it.
April 8th, 2008
Its been some time since I’ve shared my thoughts on what I have been playing lately. Frankly it hasn’t been very much at all. As usual I’ve been working on the old stuff that I am happily clearing out, not much retroness in the past month and there aren’t any new releases that particularly interest me. Except for House of the Dead Return which is still overpriced down here in Australia. Fortunately I had the opportunity to finish House of the Dead 4 at an arcade lock-in a few days ago, that should tie me over in the meantime.
I might also play through Kirby’s Adventure on the NES again sometime soon. I’m thinking of doing a video feature highlighting it’s sublime visual and aural prowess. How does that sound?
Capcom Vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001
Continuing on with my quest to substitute my previously abandoned love for 2D fighters, Capcom Vs SNK 2 has been the latest gaming snack between study breaks for my brother and I. After settling into this Street Fighter/KOF hybrid it becomes clear that there is a lot to appreciate about this title. Capcom have successfully merged fighting styles from both franchises together with complete respect to the original titles. Characters can evade attack, dash, long jump much like in the KOF games yet there is still a feeling of tactical precision and real time chess like elements which the Street Fighter series birthed. On top of this the game plays in 3 Vs 3 matches with unfortunately no on the fly character switching.
Along with this unique blend of play comes the aptly named groves which are similar to ‘isms’ from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Each groove includes (and excludes) various play mechanics as well as a different way to perform special moves. Some specials require button holds to charge up the special meter, others increase with the damage dealt.
The hybrid of game styles, grooves, varied characters, 3 Vs 3 play all add on the layers of depth. There are so many options at hand here that you really can tailor the game to match your individual play style.
Fight wise I just love the feel of this game, keeping with the hybrid nature this game feels faster, flexible and more acrobatic than Street Fighter and more up to speed with the KOF series. Its just so much fun to play, the game feels versatile yet true to it’s roots.
The mix of 2D sprites and 3D backdrops is also interesting and adds to the flavour of the game. A few of the backdrops don’t feel close or far away enough to the sprites which can feel a little distracting at times. Some character sprites (Morgan’s) are of a painfully lower resolution which is extremely off putting and frankly ugly.
These blemishes as well as a few tacky presentation issues do little to hinder the overall enjoyment that I have had and undoubtedly will continue to have with this title for a long time.
Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones
Some gamers prefer Intelligent Systems other portable strategy title; Advance Wars. I myself? I’m a Fire Emblem fan. Both series’ have stood toe to toe in Japan for the past 20 years, originating on the Famicon (NES).Much like any new iteration from either series, Sacred Stones doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Theres no real reason for it to though as this is only the second FE iteration to hit Western shores. What it does do though is add a set of new over world mechanics which vary the gameplay considerably. Instead of continually playing a set of battles tied together with the same face sprite orientated cut scenes, Sacred Stones allows you to navigate around a world map in between battles. Enemy groups appear on the map and you can choose to gain experience by back tracking to do battle with them. It works similarly to Final Fantasy Tactics except enemy groups stay fixed in the one spot.
Even though the over world map is a fairly simple mechanic it adds a lot of breathing space. You can now buy new gear, organize your party and items before you begin a chapter. It also removes the static, dated feel of the linear, battle by battle game structure. In this version you can battle creatures as well as humans and there are a handful of new classes to upgrade up to.
So while the core gameplay remains largely unchanged the new features go a long way to fix the previous problems between levels. The strategy is still, of course incredibly addictive. For example, in one instance I was playing this one chapter on and off for about a week, probably totally 10+ attempts. Sure I was replaying the same level, each time slightly varying my attack plan but still this was highly addictive as the series has proven to be.
Theres not much new here but that isn’t what we should be asking for. As a huge fan of this series I am glad to be re-treading old ground over new soil.
Images From Hardcore Gaming101