There's also not much thought or effort put into anything thrown into this dustbin of a blog. Don't expect too much.
I'm sticking this at the top of my blog to serve as a warning: This entire blog is full of spoilers for the games I'm playing.
There's also not much thought or effort put into anything thrown into this dustbin of a blog. Don't expect too much.
I've always wanted to do a blog post about Elona. With me thinking about starting playing it again, and a new game coming out soon from the creator of it, I figure now is as good a time as any!
So, what is Elona? It can loosely be described as a forgiving, grindy Roguelike ('Rogue-lite', death causes some bad effects but it doesn't delete your save unless you play on hardcore mode) with an extremely open-ended world, and hundreds of hours of things to do. It's a free game by a Japanese developer who goes by the alias 'Noa'. There IS a story, but most players don't pay much attention to it. It's free and can be played on any Windows machine that isn't a literal toaster.
Basically, you are shipwrecked and washed ashore in North Tyris, a region in the game wold of Irva. You start off with your basic adventurer rags, and you can use the cave you were nursed back to health in as a temporary home while you're getting your footing, but you'll want to set forth for the first town of Vernis to make your way in the world as soon as possible. There, you'll reunite with your lost pet companion, and then you can begin your adventure in earnest.
And what exactly IS your adventure? Well, there's a main storyline, but a lot of people just ignore it, or put it on indefinite hold. The whole of North Tyris is yours to explore, with its various cities, dungeons, trading routes, and secrets. Do you want to become a fearsome warrior or powerful mage and find powerful weapons, armor and artifacts, like in normal RPGs? You can do that if you want. Do you want to become a shopkeeper and set up a merchant empire? You can do that too. Do you want to live off the land and become a farmer? Go for it.
The biggest threat to you in the early and mid-game is probably the dreaded etherwind. Blue, dust-like rain falls on the overworld at certain periods, and staying outside when the etherwind is blowing is a surefire way to get a bunch of nasty mutations. Now, sometimes mutations can give you positive effects, but it's best not to risk it. The first thing to do when you're starting off is to stay close to a town so you can take refuge in the etherwind shelter that every major town has (or in your home, if you have one) when the etherwind starts blowing. Until you can afford the very expensive and rare potions that cure mutation, you need to plan your movements carefully!
For my first character (started many, many years back when Noa was still actively developing the game), I rolled up random race and class to play and swore to just roll with whatever I got. Race: Fairy. Class: Farmer. This is problematic for a huge number of reasons - fairies are tiny, they're weak, they can't even equip gear that weighs more than 0.1kg, and farming is a strength-reliant profession! Did I reroll? No! I just set out to make it work anyway. Short term goals: Save up some money (buying a farm aint cheap!). Medium term goals: Grind up my STR and Weight Training so that I could carry more stuff despite my tiny size, to someday become a good farmer. Also, pledge myself to the God of Harvest, Kumiromi, and pray to him daily for his divine blessings and farming boons.
Long story short, I eventually bought that farm and became the best goddamn fairy farmer Yowyn has ever seen, growing fresh food and herbs that you can eat to increase your stat growth potential. A 1kg fairy capable of harvesting 60kg giant vegetables with ease! I set my farm up near the farming town of Yowyn, and eventually also bought a house to place near my farms, and then a shop where I could sell my goods and food, and much more. Eventually I could afford strong enough gear that even my tiny fairy self could clear the main storyline as almost an afterthought, and that's not even including the pets and companions I met along the way to help along the way.
I kept on farming until my Farming skill was higher than the God of Farming, Kumiromi! Now officially better at farming than a god, I decided to play the faith field and worship other gods to earn their favor (gods periodically give you gifts as your devotion to them increases, such as god-pet companions and special magic items). After a particularly exploitful usage of a Staff of Wish where I wished to summoned the goddess Lulwy into a high-level dungeon to rampage and kill a boss I couldn't possibly hope to kill on my own and looted its evolution stone, I evolved my pet black cat into a catgirl with it and made her into a dual-wielding ninja, and then eventually lesbian-married her when we became close enough after our dungeon delving adventures together. Why the hell not? This is Elona, you do what you want. If you want to restart a new character, you can play as the child of your previous character and their lover (gender, species, and even sentience doesn't matter here - my fairy character and the catgirl could make a kid, or I could have romanced a rock golem or an eldritch abomination instead, it doesn't matter). The game is very quirky, a bit perverted at times (but it's not an h-game, so don't worry about porn suddenly showing up on your screen or anything), and has an often unintentional sense of humor ('I accidentally drank alien spores from a well and got incubated with an alien baby that eventually burst out of my chest and killed half the townsfolk while I was hemorrhaging blood everywhere and spamming heal on myself to not die of bleed damage' is just one of many random situations you may find yourself in)
Noa stopped development of Elona several years ago, but the devoted Japanese fan community picked it right back up with the development of Elona+, a continuation of new features and fixes that continues to have new releases to this day. Anyone who starts playing Elona today should be playing Elona+, if the original Elona had 200+ hours of stuff to do before you hit an endless grind, Elona+ has double that. I need to catch up on it, myself.
Elona+ has dev releases and stable releases - for maximum stability in transferring over your character from release to release, it's recommended to only update on stable updates, but if you're willing to risk your character data getting messed up (always keep backups!), then you can hop into every dev update. The Elona+ wiki is here, and you can also download the game here:
"But Mellow, I don't know Japanese, aren't you just teasing me with a game I can't play?". Absolutely not! Elona has had English support (with varying levels of completeness) for a very long time, and while I haven't played it myself, there is an English version branched from Elona+ called Elona+ Custom that seems to be actively maintained by a devoted group of people. You can see their page here: http://elona.wikia.com/wiki/Thread:25014
To be clear, even just the plain Elona+ will ask you if you want to play in Japanese or English on startup so you have always been able to play it in English, but a lot of lines and features (especially in the dev builds) remain untranslated or gibberish for long periods of time. It seems Elona+ Custom was created to provide quicker, higher-quality English, so give it a try if the Japanese version is too intimidating.
You can also find Elona discussion and beginner tips at your favorite gaming site, whatever that may be. I won't link to any of them out of courtesy to communities that sometimes prefer to stay small, but a simple google search should take you to your preferred place (and if your favorite gaming site doesn't have somewhere for Elona discussion, consider that your favorite site may suck).
I made the mistake of transferring my original character Naomi, the lovely harvest genius fairy farmer with 200+ hours played, across way too many unstable dev builds. Her data is corrupted nearly beyond repair at this point, and I'm thinking of starting up a brand new character since it's been a couple years since I played. Maybe this time I'll go with a mad scientist gene engineer character? Who knows, maybe I'll just random it up again and go where the etherwind takes me.
Also, I must plug the original developer's new game in development, 'Elin'. Noa keeps a devlog here where they post updates, and apparently it will eventually be coming to Steam. Noa is friendly to the English community so it's likely to include an English option as well, although that's just a guess from me, not based on any actual info. I have no idea if it will be good or not, but I like the look of it so far and I'll be buying it anyway as a way of saying 'thank you' for the free hundreds of hours Noa's first game has provided me: http://ylvania.org/jp/elin
Maybe I'll get to review Elin if/when it finally releases, the first PC game review on this site.
Do you play Elona, or did you give it a try because of this post? What's your character's objective and playstyle? If you feel like it, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Just a couple days ago, I blogged about dropping Dungeon Travelers 2-2, and how I wasn't sure what to play until August 31st. I mentioned that Alliance Alive's system didn't seem to appeal to me, and also that the text hurt my eyes.
Well, if I'm being honest, I didn't play enough of Alliance Alive to get a good feel for the system, it was mostly the text wreaking havoc on my eyes that turned me off from it. Here's an example image from their site that shows what I'm talking about - the blurry outline behind the text at first gave me a headache and made me feel dizzy:
Does it hurt your eyes? It hurts mine. This is what it felt like back when I played the demo. However, it only really applies on the status screens and on some cutscenes, and I'm really, really bored, so I decided to just deal with it. I bought Alliance Alive, booted it up, went to Galil's status screen and...hey, my eyes are fine! Here's an actual screenshot from my retail copy:
So how about this one, can you see the difference (besides 'Status' being corrected, obviously)? It's like night and day for me - no problem at all anymore! What a pleasant surprise. I'm still not sure if it's a difference between the demo and the real game, or the website and the demo (in which case, it's a placebo effect and I somehow just got used to it). Either way, no more headaches or dizziness anymore from looking at it, so hooray!
This should be an interesting game. I looked around for Japanese impressions of the game, and they're very split. It's got some people saying "Wow, they made a great game, totally made up for the blunder that was their last game! Super impressed, 5 stars!" and on the other hand you've got people saying "It's still garbage, Furyu is Furyu, 1 star". I don't know about you guys, but playing love/hate games is a lot more exciting to me than playing a game where you know the general impression is "Eh, it's okay, I guess", even if the average score is the same. The wider the spread, the more interesting it is for me to find out what I think of it personally!
The Alliance Alive starts with two characters, Galil and Ursula, as members of a resistance living in a small village. Resistance against what, you might ask? Well, a thousand or so years ago (it's always a thousand years!), beings called mazoku and their servant youma (honestly, how do professional translators decide on what to call these? 'demons' 'spirits' 'ghosts' aren't always appropriate answers) took over and split the world asunder - one side effect of this being that the sky is always black. Ursula's favorite pasttime is looking at the sky and imagining how pretty it would be if it were blue, like the old legends say it once was. Galil and Ursula are childhood friends, Ursula's father took Galil in as an adoptive son when he was little, and he sends them off to a nearby settlement to deliver a message to other members of the resistance, a mission that Ursula insists on tagging along for despite Galil's objections.
Well, at the city they arrive at, they hear a bunch of rumors about an abandoned museum that the mazoku seem to have an interest in. A bunch of rumors are floating around about it, but the one that sticks most to Ursula (and immediately sets off 'this is not going to end well, is it?' alarms in Galil's head) is that there's a painting of the world back when it had a blue sky in the museum.
Well, what do you think we're gonna do next, report back to dad? No, of course Ursula is going to drag Galil with her to the museum. If he doesn't go with her, she'll just go by herself! Fine, fine. The museum is our first dungeon - ignoring the youma at the front who won't let us inside, Ursula uses her symbol arts to open a side-route (blast a side-route through a wall more like it, but details, details...).
Inside the museum, there are a bunch of puzzles (and this is where I was really reminded that this game is Cero A - these 'puzzles' are easily solvable by a 6 year old, but who honestly expects challenging puzzles in their JRPGs anyway?). Galil and Ursula find a relic, and the relic eventually leads them up to a gallery in the sky which contains...a giant mural of a beautiful blue sky, much to Ursula's delight! However, this is when The Big Baddie arrives. He tells the foolish humans that he's here to PROTECT ORDER and PUNISHMENT MUST BE DEALT. He's the first mazoku we've run into, standing about twice as tall as Galil and Ursula, and the fight against him is unwinnable.
After our party is knocked flat, the mazoku delivers punishment to Ursula first when she tries using her symbol arts to shield Galil - his magic seals her vision, blinding her. Then he turns to Galil, but the now-blind Ursula stands back up and draws a relic weapon from her mother, unleashing its power to distract the mazoku long enough to let them escape (but using up the weapon's power in the process).
Now I know it's chuuni as hell, but I thought this was so cool. Whose doesn't get excited when you have a blind character with an awesome headband/blindfold? They also went the less common route of the girl being the one who protects someone. Thanks to her symbol arts, Ursula can still sense her surroundings even if she can't see them, so she's not leaving our party (and she absolutely refuses to leave, regardless). Galil promises that somehow, some way he'll find a way to let her see the blue sky again. Actually, she's not physically blinded, just magically blinded, so if we can find magic strong enough to counteract the mazoku's power her sight should be able to be healed. That's apparently no easy task, though.
Anyway, that's where I am in the game right now. Our next task is to head north, where a researcher is who can decipher the meaning of that artifact we found and just barely escaped with our lives intact. Two more members of the resistance joined our party and we're headed north!
I have a good feeling about the game so far. Part of that may be the fact that later on, a foxgirl will be joining my party, looking at the character list on the game site. Having any sort of cat/fox/other 10%girl in it is enough to get me to buy almost anything.
The battle system I need more time to play with, but it seems interesting enough with the formations. Especially now that I have 4 characters, there are different formations I can use that give various characters bonuses to atk/def/spd/heal depending on where they are.
Anyway, I'm glad I found something to play before Nights of Azure 2! Hopefully I end up liking it and can post a review of it before then. Thanks for stopping by.
I got off to a nice start in 2017, finishing and reviewing 4 games by April. It's now July and I still haven't finished another JRPG. What's my deal?
Well, the game 'next up' after Blue Reflection that I wanted to play was Dungeon Travelers 2-2. It's taken a while for me to admit it to myself, but I think I can consider it dropped right now.
The previous entry Dungeon Travelers 2 was, in my opinion, one of the crown jewels of the twilight age of the PSP (it's better known in the west for its Vita port, but it was actually originally a PSP game). Along with Fate/Extra CCC, it was a well made exclusive that showed off what the PSP can do, and it had a cast of wonderfully charming characters to go with the dungeon traveling.
I had high hopes for Dungeon Travelers 2-2. How could I not? The corruption aspect looked interesting (the trickle of new 'corrupted' designs week by week in preview magazines was fun to follow), and I was looking forward to getting the gang back together for another adventure. I preordered the Limited Edition with one of the special bonuses. Yet, I'm only halfway done with Chapter 8 and I'm pretty sure I won't ever finish the game. What happened?
I guess the answer for me is, too much of the same.
"The game is called Dungeon Travelers 2-2, how could you complain about it being similar to Dungeon Travelers 2?" I can hear someone quite reasonably saying.
Okay, that's a fair point. But given Dungeon Travelers 2's status as a crown jewel of PSP, I was hoping for something similar for the Vita in its twilight hours. Instead, it's virtually identical to the previous game:
- The jobs and the skills are identical or so close to identical that you'd need to consult a wiki to tell the difference. Why not switch up the skills in each job, at least? Rehaul the skills, say that the demon lord's power going crazy had some weird effects on things or whatever, it'd be easy to wave away in-game.
- When old characters join back up, they're mostly just rehashing the same 'character traits' they had in the previous game in an overdone manner. I don't want to call it Flanderization, but...whoops, I just did. Anyway, the two new characters (Siena and Luko) were great and I loved them both, but it was much more boring than I expected to get the old gang back together.
- The 'corruption' angle was basically nothing, at least as far as I played. The girls you encounter from your previous party are hostile and 'corrupted', which usually just means she's got her character trait hyper-exaggerated, and then you beat her in a boss fight, seal the bad monster corrupting her, and she turns right back to normal. It would have been very cool if they could transform into their corrupted forms even once you recruited them every now and then, sort of like blood skelter/genocide mode in Mary Skelter. Instead, it's just 'this chapter's boss is this corrupted party member, go beat her up, turn her back to normal and recruit her'.
I should mention some good things about the game, though. They made it so that you can have any character with any job appearance that you've unlocked, which is great when your favorite looking job is terrible. They sped up the combat and navigation a bit. It's a bit easier to clean up your inventory. It keeps the same unforgiving hard difficulty that I love. That's about all I can think of.
Anyway, I don't really know what I was expecting. The reception in Japan seems mostly positive, so you shouldn't let my opinion prevent you from getting it if all you wanted was more DT2, but I found myself pretty bored trying to play it after games like Mary Skelter (with the great blood combat system), 7th Dragon III (more dynamic battle animations), and most of all Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain (great everything - you must buy this game when NISA brings it over). Coven aside, I was definitely expecting to like DT2-2 more than Skelter & 7th Dragon, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be for me. Honestly, even though I'm saying it's 'dropped', I could still conceivably finish it in the event I get sent on a business trip somewhere and end up with only my handhelds to keep me busy. By that time, though, it will probably be out in the west and you won't need a review from me!
I'm not quite sure what I'm going to play next. I tried the demo for Alliance Alive and while it looks charming and I can definitely see people enjoying it, the system just didn't appeal to me, and the text hurt my eyes. I will definitely be playing Nights of Azure 2, even though I'm skeptical about it, simply because I'm a slave to Gust. That's not until August 31st though, so I've got quite a bit of time. Maybe I'll hit my backlog a bit.
As always, thanks for stopping by this obscure little corner of the internet if you're here. I'm sorry I haven't been able to provide as much new content this year as I would have liked to at this point.
Last year in October, I wrote a blog post about my concerns for Gust's current state, and mentioned that I thought I would have a better idea of where they were going as a company around this time, this year.
I was wrong - I still feel as confused as I was last year. I had hoped to wait until after all the games previewed last post were played to make a follow-up, but with Nights of Azure delayed to August 31st, it may as well fall into the 'next batch' of Gust games at this point. With that being said, let's take a look at the four games I mentioned in the last blog post and how I feel they ended up. For the two with reviews (Firis and Blue Reflection), you can click the names to go to the reviews.
Most of my thoughts are covered in the review linked above - I thought it was ambitious and enjoyable, but didn't quite mesh together as well as it should have. I also didn't like the characters as much as I usually do, but other than that I thought it was a great game.
However, that's talking about the PS4 version. From what I have seen of screenshots and heard from other peoples' impressions, the Vita and PC versions have serious flaws - much more serious than a few crashes that were fixed in later patches. The Vita version is, to put it simply, not able to keep up with the design and engine at this point. The Arland games were great on the Vita, with the 2D character portraits and less demanding engine, but it's becoming clearer with each installment that the Vita simply can't keep up with the power needed to run these games cleanly.
The PC should have no excuse, and yet the PC port has inexplicable oddities (I've heard that many of the assets used for it are actually from the Vita version and not the PS4 version, which would be a very strange decision if true - can anyone confirm?).
Either way, technical problems combined with a low initial PS4 sales count make this look bad for Gust's bottom line. I don't know how many sales they needed to break even on Firis, but I doubt they reached the target.
How about the next Atelier game, then? Well, I'm a bit tired of the Mysterious series, part of me hopes they just make it a 2-game arc and start a new setting next release. If they go with Part 3, though, there are a few things I hope for:
- Closure on the Sophie/Plachta story arc about Sophie trying to get Plachta a human body. One complaint about Atelier Shallie was that it felt like very few story arcs were tied up from Ayesha/E&L
- Better characters. I realize how incredibly subjective this is, so maybe I just mean 'characters I end up liking more'.
For me, this one benefited from low expectations. I went in fully prepared to love or hate it, and ended up falling far closer to love than I thought.
The problem of the game having incredibly low difficulty (even on Hard setting) continues to baffle me, though. It still hasn't been patched, either. The game could be so much better with an extremely simple difficulty adjustment patch, it's a real shame it hasn't happened yet.
Even more baffling, however, has got to be Gust's DLC for this game. They have a whole schedule lined out, 5 months in advance, for when different costume DLC is going to drop. They make a big deal of each DLC release on their social media. The glaring, obvious problem? There is no replayability in the game, and therefore no reason to buy any of the DLC! It's mind-boggling how they haven't done something to fix this if they actually expect to profit off their DLC. Let's list up how worthless this costume DLC is:
- There is no New Game+ component
- There is no new Very Hard difficulty to replay the game on.
- The costumes only show up when wandering around the school, when you fight the characters are in their magical girl outfits, not the DLC costumes.
- There is no postgame dungeon that people who didn't fully finish things up earlier could maybe come back to and complete. You can easily finish everything in 30 hours.
Just recently in Atelier Sophie, Gust had added in a 'Despair' difficulty a few months after release, and of course they also release new dungeons too. I had expected the same for Blue Reflection, especially if they wanted to make bank with their DLC, but there's nothing. What's going on? Make money properly off your products, please!
I gave some first impressions of this game earlier, and I'd like to take back just one complaint: I was very harsh on the artwork for the 2D enemies, but in reality most of them are quite lovely. It's just that, for some (again, mind-boggling) reason, they decided to make the ugliest, lowest-quality art enemies the ones you ran into first. Obviously when a new player is giving your game a try you want to put your best face on, so I have no idea why they didn't showcase more of their prettier curan for the first few chapters. Once the players are hooked, then you can let some low-quality art leak in without causing as many problems.
Garbage mobage combat aside, the main characters are all great, I love them. You can feel that it's a Tsuchiya game, and it reminds me again that fun characters are one of the main reasons I love Tsuchiya's settings so much. Maybe I'll write up more about it later, right now the game is still in its story's opening phase, with drama about to drop soon (at least, it feels that way).
Am I in danger of slowing down on reviews of console games because I'm playing Trinary? No, absolutely not, don't worry. I load up Trinary and use up my stamina in quick battles and then log back out, only committing more time than that to it once per week when a new episode comes out. The recent slowdown in reviews is more due to there just being no games I want to play and review at the moment besides Dungeon Travelers 2-2 (which I am currently playing, but saving most of it for an upcoming overseas trip so I can bring my Vita and use it to stave off boredom while over there).
Nights of Azure 2
Well, I sure thought I'd have a review up for this one by now, but the new release date is August 31st. I have to be honest and say that my expectations have fallen very low for this game's characters and story, while they've risen for the gameplay.
When they first revealed this sequel, my first thoughts were "Huh, so a love triangle at the center of the story? Might be interesting, even though the rest of the plot sounds like a rehash of the first game."
Each time they've delayed the game, though, they've added new 'Lily' partners as 'compensation' for the delay. Now look, I'm not a professional writer, but if the game had a coherent plot and gripping drama between the main 3 characters, it would not be possible to just toss new girls (who, if the 'Lily' system is any indication, will probably have at least some romantic subtext with the protagonist) into the plot.
No, we've firmly entered territory where one of the following two things is likely:
1) It's become a harem game. Hey, nothing wrong with that - but was it designed that way from the start? The initial promo material made it look like a lot more interleaved personal drama between the main 3 girls, not a yuri harem with drag-and-drop love interests.
2) Plot breakdown, where oddly glued-on extra character arcs and romance options that feel out of place compared to the first two girls are haphazardly littered about the plot because they weren't part of the original narrative.
I'm not sure which is worse - a straight (ha-ha) up yuri harem might be the least awkward option at this point.
At the very least, we can at least expect some very, very polished up gameplay! Come on Gust, you've had an extra ten months to work on the gameplay, so we can hopefully expect some great action RPG combat.
After I got over the shock and disappointment at the announcement of Gust's Tsuchiya working on a smartphone game instead of a proper console game, I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be playing it anyway. I love his settings too much not to.
So, what is Augmented Reality Girls Trinary? Well, if you don't know what Ciel nosurge was, maybe that's a good place to start reading. While Ciel nosurge was a blend of VN, relationship sim, and raising sim, Trinary is basically all that but with an anime and mobage combat attached.
If you landed here from a search engine and were interested mostly in the anime, then I'm sorry but this blog is mostly about the game portion of the experience.
Much like in the Ciel/Ar nosurge universe where you play as 'you' connecting to 'their' world via a device, in Trinary you are contacted by a guide named Chiharu upon loading the game. So far, Chiharu is easily the most amusing piece of the game for me. She's very meta - upon entering the game, she basically says "Hey, I know we just met 30 seconds ago, but I need you to marry a bunch of girls in my world."
Your only two options to this sudden proposal are 'Okay' and 'But I'm a girl...'. Selecting the second one just leads Chiharu to assure you that it's okay - girls can marry girls, no excuses, you're marrying these girls, okay? Once that's settled, she frowns and says something to the effect of "Statistically, if I don't let you flirt with these cute girls within 5 minutes, you're going to uninstall this program" (referring to the app). Oh, the harsh realities of free-to-play mobile gaming...you get the option to protest here, promising that you won't uninstall if she takes her time to introduce the setting and characters to you, or to just skip to the promised happy fun time with the girls. I'm at home playing this, I'm in no hurry, so of course I tell Chiharu to take her time. "It'll take around 32 minutes, are you sure? You promise you won't uninstall before then?" Yeah yeah I promise, properly introduce the setting to me, I'll be patient!
So at this point, I'm given the option of streaming the first episode of the Augmented Reality Girls Trinary anime from within the app - high quality, medium quality, or just a text summary. Again, I'm at home on Wifi, so I choose high quality. Basically, we have Gust's favorite 'emotions going berserk' plot here again. The time and setting is Tokyo, Japan, 2016, but it's in an alternate timeline to our own (one example: there is a heavy proxy civil war going on between NATO and Russia in Poland, which is a hot, active warzone). Very strong feelings can cause an irregular phenomenon to occur and distort reality in a spiderweb-shaped area, where everyone inside becomes brainwashed and things are warped to the emotionally disturbed person's fantasy.
The only people who can enter these areas without being brainwashed themselves are, you guessed it, our special Augmented Reality Trinary girls. These strong emotions manifest as berserk 'Curan', creatures that you will both use as allies and fight as enemies in the game. Chiharu introduces you to the Trinary girls as a chat bot - you send them an SNS message, with them initially just thinking you're a bot that they can bounce questions to and from, and eventually you can get closer to them through these messages, and choose to reveal that you're a real person, becoming friends, lovers, and eventually getting married (virtually? how does this work?) to these girls. We get a preview (a vision of 'one possible future' according to Chiharu) where each of the Trinary girls considers you their lover and texts soppy stuff to you.
Sending these texts, by the way, costs emotion crystals. Each crystal corresponds to certain types of responses (reassuring, cheerful, sympathetic, etc.), and if you don't have enough of a certain crystal you can't choose the answer you want to give! How cunning, using cute anime girls and holding you hostage to buying more gems from the shop in order to choose the dialogue option you want. Of course, you can also just save up the gems from daily quests and wait until you have enough of all of them to make sure that you're never short of any types for all dialogue choices, which is what I plan to do.
Cut back to Chiharu. 32 minutes are up, do you get the setting now? Which girl is your favorite? Here you get the option to say something to the effect of "forget the Trinary girls, I'm only interested in you, Chiharu!" which will cause her to snap and repeat "I am NOT romanceable! Please get it through your head already, I am NOT romanceable!" over and over again as you keep insisting that she's your favorite. But Chiharu is the cutest! It's not fair. Luckily, it seems like many times you interact with her later on in the story, you get to tease her about wanting to forget this whole Trinary harem business and just wanting Chiharu. Maybe eventually she will become romanceable despite all the teasing.
The game limits you to pre-determined dialogue options at all times - there is no actual chat bot where you can free-form send texts to anyone. I hope they add something like that in the future.
Also hey, isn't anyone going to at least say something about polygamy here? Nobody asked me if I wanted a harem, what if I just want to romance one of them? You can protest with this line of thinking, but Chiharu sure isn't bothered by harems - she has specifically separated connections to each girl so that you can romance each of them without them interfering with each other, and wants you to marry ALL of them. Her reasoning is that you need to provide them with emotional support so they can do their jobs...okay, but why do I need to marry them? It's a mystery (for now), I guess.
So, the gameplay...basically, you follow along with the anime's story in VN format at key parts, and send text messages to the girls, giving advice, and also diving into their minds to defeat bad feelings/emotions. Of course there's diving into a spirit world, it's a Tsuchiya game. Generally, diving into battles requires AP, which is your standard slowly-regenerating-mobage-resource.
The battles themselves are...uh...not very good. Also, the style is bizarre. The Trinary girl you're helping stands her ground as a 3D model, facing a 2D (paper-like flat) enemy. Many of the 2D enemies also have incredibly bad artwork, especially the ones at the very beginning of the game where you'd think they would want to use the few decent-looking ones to lure people in. Like, is this stylistic? It just looks cheap to me, I could randomly click DeviantArt and find better art (maybe an exaggeration, but only slightly). Later on when some actual somewhat decent looking 2D enemies showed up, it made me realize again how incredibly important art is in these games...the rest of the game feels quite decent budget (not to mention the cost of having it's own anime), did they really need to skimp out on the budget for static 2D enemy portraits?
The combat has you bring 4 characters (+1 assist from another player) into battle. They have skills which consume energy to use, and countering elements (emotion-flavored instead of the usual fire-water-wind-earth, but the same basic idea). You can also form chains of energy, attack, or heal (each of which are randomly allotted to your 5 characters each round) to heal or gain bonus attack power/energy each round. Of course, these characters can be fused with feeder characters to level up and evolve and all that mobage garbage. You can spin the gacha with your mobage gems for SSRs, SRs and all that bullshit.
I'll keep playing a little bit a day to use my AP it as it unfolds (it's currently stopped at the end of the anime's Episode 6, presumably the game scenarios will unfurl in sync with the anime), but have no intent of ever paying for anything. Bring your games back to consoles, Tsuchiya...it's a nice setting and the characters are entertaining and funny, but the mobage components are just awful. In the meantime, here are some more screens (it's harder to pad these blog posts with vertical-oriented screenshots than horizontal ones!).
Happy virtual girlfriends to all of you if you decide to play. The waifu golden age is approaching ever nearer. That's all for now.
I'll mitigate spoilers in this guide as best as I can, but that's not saying much because the dialogue selections contain huge spoilers. To try and save you from that, I'll separate the guide into sections with bold italics at the front telling you when to read them. Still, you should assume you may get spoiled by reading any of this.
Chapter 3 Event (Mysterious Note at Door)
You will get a note telling you to explore a room, since 'that person' is away at the moment. You will get a choice of places to go investigate with Alice. Investigate The Laboratory so that you find The Monitor Room.
Safe to Read Anytime:
You need to upgrade Jack's Mary Gun three times as one condition for the Good Ending. You do this by finding parts for it and bringing them to Haru back at base.
You can find the first motor part from Chapter 4 onward, in the Old Shopping District, Area 4, at (X:06 Y:38)
The second motor part can be found from Chapter 5 onward, in the School District, Area 2, at (X:31 Y:07)
The third motor part can be found from Chapter 7 onward, in the Old Train Station, Area 1, at (X:14 Y:33)
An Optional, But Recommended Detour After Completing the Mary Gun
There is a hidden character that you can recruit once you have the fully upgraded Mary Gun Reverser. She is not technically required for the Good Ending (there are two versions, one with her and one without her), but she's a fun character and you don't want to miss out on her, do you? If you're a stickler for unlocking all CGs though, you might want to make a save before recruiting her so that you can get the ending CG without her in it, as well.
Go back to the very first dungeon in the game with the Mary Gun Reverser. In Area 2 at the bottom-right of the map, there is a ravine four spaces long (in other words, too far for Gretel's bread crumbs to reach across). Point away from the ravine and fire Jack's Mary Gun Reverser to fling yourself back far enough to cross it, and head downstairs.
Boss Fight: Hameln
On 'Fear' difficulty, she hits like a truck, and multiple times in a row. Forget about tanking her with Paladin's cover/guard, most of her attacks are party-wide. Not much to say except stack up that def/res and speed, level up and buff up your gear, debuff the hell out of her, bring tons and tons of revival and healing items. After defeating her, Hameln will join your party - she's a mage like Thumbelina.
BIG SPOILERS BIG SPOILERS BIG SPOILERS
Chapter 9 Dialogue Selections
At the top of the tower, there will be an investigating series of questions and choices to make. Failing a single one of these will lead to the bad end. Make a save before this point so that you can see both the bad ending and the good ending, and also so that you can change up your individual character endings. If you've done all that, you can stop reading until you reach floor 11 before reading further.
The dialogue choices begin with everyone meeting up at the top.
(The XXXXXX is...)
- Within Daybreak <-- Correct
- Within the Church of the Sun
(The XXXXXX is...)
- Professor <-- Correct
(The item that proves it is...)
- The memo with a drawing of a magnolia leaf on it. <-- Select this item from your inventory
(The place in question is...)
- Jack's room.
- The laboratory.
- The monitor room. <-- Correct
- The weapon shop.
- The Church of the Sun
If you got this far and have the Mary Gun fully upgraded, good job, you're on the way to a Good End with a Character End of your choice as well.
After beating the final boss, Jack will have an opportunity to use one special ability. Use the Mary Gun Reverser that you unlock when Mary Gun reaches Lv.3. To be clear, do NOT fire the Mary Gun Lv.3, use the separate Mary Gun Reverser ability.
Along with your Good End, you'll also get one character ending. The conditions for which character ending you get were quite confusing and at the time of writing this guide, none of the Japanese wikis have it written quite correctly. I painstakingly tested the conditions to confirm them myself, please read carefully.
First, you need full affection with the character whose ending you want. That means full hearts if you check their condition in Jack's room. However, that alone is not enough. You also need to see all of their character events. Usually that means following their events until you get the lewd CG event for a particular character. Even if you have full affection, sometimes their events only trigger in certain dungeons at certain areas, so you might mistakenly think you're prepared for their ending when you aren't.
Second, in the event you have multiple characters that fulfill the above requirements (and you most likely will), priority goes to the character at the highest slot in your party. A lot of people end up getting Alice's ending just because they never removed her from the first slot. How it works is that the game will go through your party slots in order from top to bottom, 1 to 5, and check: 'Have all of this character's events been unlocked and seen?'. If character 1 doesn't fit those criteria, it'll check character 2...so on and so forth, until it finds one that does. So just change your party formation and put the character whose ending you want at the top of your party.
Points of Caution (Save Slots)
I recommend saving in many different slots at the following spots:
- Before recruiting Hameln (only if you care about collecting all CGs, the Hameln-less ending version is not required for platinum) NOTE: As of Patch 1.04 in the Japanese version, and apparently also the latest patch in the English version, this is no longer necessary as unlocking the version with Hameln will unlock the version without her as well (thanks bloodshed113094 in the comments section for pointing this out).
- Before being questioned at the 11F of the tower, in two different slots. One where you answer correctly (for reloading for Good End + different character endings), and one where you answer incorrectly.
Points of Caution (Hameln)
Of all characters, Hameln is the one most likely to reach max affection without you finding all her events, since she joins so late. If you want her ending (or any other girl's ending) but can't seem to progress their events even at max affection, go dungeon exploring and look for dialogue events on the map. For example, Hameln has one in the Old Train Station, Area 3, at (X: 23 Y: 03) and a second one after it at the tower, Area 3, (X: 21 Y:18).
That's it for today. I hope this guide is helpful for people playing the game in English, and if the wording is different in the localized version for any of the dialogue choices, please feel free to let me know in the comments so I can update it.
I'll have a review up for Neptune 4GO some time this weekend, probably. Until then...
There's a warning that this blog is a waste of time to read, so this is a perfect place to dump the stats I collected for my own amusement while playing Neptune: Four Goddesses Online.
Basically, every time I hosted or entered a multiplayer map, I tallied up who the other players were using.
Note: Purple Heart, Black Heart, White Heart, and Green Heart are separate characters in this game from Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert. Also, PH, BH, WH, and GH don't become available to play as until halfway through the game, so they naturally didn't show up much in the earlier dungeons. You can decide how to read the data yourself. So with no further ado, here it is:
Neptune - 16
Noire - 8
Blanc - 12
Vert - 7
Nepgear - 13
Uni - 13
Rom - 14
Ram - 5
Purple Heart - 7
Black Heart - 6
White Heart - 9
Green Heart - 4
This probably shouldn't be taken as a complete 'character popularity' poll - clearly character balance also matters here. I mostly played as Uni, Nepgear, Blanc and Rom, but from what little I played of Ram her ninja class seemed very underpowered compared to Rom's samurai, which could explain why she's so low.
I also saw a lot more of the dedicated healer/buffer Blanc at lower levels than at higher levels - probably because at higher levels, people wreck bosses so fast and carry enough healing consumables that a dedicated healer isn't really needed.
As a sad note, this was supposed to be 'Vert's game', but both her normal form and her goddess form have the lowest usage of the four main goddesses in my dataset. Isn't it sad, Vert?
I finished playing Fate/Extella a long time ago, but wanted to hold off on making a blog post about it until after it was released and mainstream places reviewed it. The reasons I wanted to wait basically boils down to this: This is NOT a review.
I am woefully unqualified to review a musou game. The last musou I remember playing was one of the Dynasty Warriors games in the PS2 era.
I am also completely under-qualified as a Fate series fan. My exposure to it is limited to the anime a decade or so ago, and then the two PSP games (Fate/Extra, and Fate/Extra CCC).
Search engines have a bad habit of picking up any game I talk about in the blog section and serving them up to users looking for (game name) review, so I wanted to avoid that. With it released and the big sites having their reviews out, now it's safe to talk about here.
I enjoyed Fate/Extra and CCC quite a bit despite their lackluster battle systems, so I was really heartbroken when the third game was announced to be a musou instead of a more traditional JRPG. I ended up picking it up with low expectations, just wanting to see what they did with the setting I enjoyed in the last games.
I'll just go ahead and admit that I'm the worst sort of person and I played Extra and CCC with fem-Hakuno and Tamamo the whole way through. I didn't play the other routes. So with that said, the first thing that sticks out about Fate/Extella is that they retcon the previous games. The canon story for Fate/Extra in the Fate/Extella universe has been retconned so that you summoned Nero (Saber) at the start no matter what, and Tamamo (Caster) was your 'sub-servant' who joined up around the 4th round. This is the common, shared past no matter which route you play in Extella, since they all share the same past (if not the same worldline, but let's not get into that).
The practical effect of this new canon is that Fate/Extella essentially feels like Nero's game, with guest appearance by Tamamo. To make matters worse for Tamamo fans, her route revolves mainly around an insecurity that you and her already solved together in the previous games. The only reason it's an issue is because of the sad new canon where she was a 'sub-servant' playing second fiddle to Nero and is incredibly insecure about it. That was upsetting - we had done this plotline already! It was resolved! I was looking forward to new adventures with Tamamo! Alas, it's just a retread of the old plotline again.
While I didn't play Nero's routes in the previous games, I have to say that I took a surprising liking to her from this game. She's a fun character, and if I ever get unlimited time to revisit my backlog, I'd like to replay Extra and CCC with her as my servant this time. Umu. I think Nero fans will probably enjoy themselves with Extella, but Tamamo fans, depending on how fanatical they are, may feel pretty betrayed. Let's not even talk about how down in the dumps people who stuck with Mumei (Archer) must feel, with him relegated to tertiary character status with only a tiny shoutout in his mini-route about his possible past role in Extra. I was also sad about Liz - Extella pays a tiny tribute to her possibly trying to repent for her behavior in CCC, but that goes out the window quickly and she's back to just her old CCC ways again, maybe for the sake of fans who never met her before.
As far as the gameplay itself goes, again, I haven't played a musou in like a decade. It was alright I guess - slaughter a bunch of hopelessly inept small-fry until you can build up your super gauges you'll need to take on enemy servants and the like. Didn't really bore me or excite me, I don't feel any need to go check out other musou games or get into the genre. Whatever. One thing I did wish is for the ability to re-bind combos - for example, I wanted to use Liz in freeplay but had to stop because her later combos are too annoying (they force her stationary, have long repetitive animations, and leave her vulnerable), and I ended up mostly just sticking with Nero since her moves were much smoother. If I could reassign those, I could play with a wider variety of characters with less stress.
In my (again, horribly unqualified) opinion, this game will probably only appeal to Fate series fans, and could be fun for those whose favorite people made it into the roster, since they'll get to control them and run around wreaking havoc with their favorite character. Tamamo fans should tread lightly and expect disappointment if you thought you'd get more development between her and Hakuno.
If I was in charge of this game's planning (probably a terrible idea, but hey) I'd have made each story mode unconnected to the others, like in Extra and CCC, and have the four routes be Nero, Tamamo, Mumei, and Liz.
Anyway, back to JRPGs - I'm just about finished with Mary Skelter, so I should have a real, proper review out for that relatively soon. Thanks for reading.
So, my review for Atelier Firis is up. I mentioned in another blog post that I wanted to blog about each of the Gust games coming out after finishing them, so here's the first one about how I feel after playing Atelier Firis.
First off - I enjoyed it. I truly believe it's a good game overall despite its flaws, and have no regrets about giving it 8.7/10.
Still, I feel a bit unsatisfied. In my mind, it feels like the Atelier series hit its peak for me personally around Meruru/Ayesha (both of which I would have given a 9.2 or higher without second thought) and has been coasting on fumes since then. I was happy that they added back in a bunch of classic Atelier mechanics and tried new things, I hope they keep doing that, but I just couldn't get into the characters that much. Characters are really, really important for JRPGs and I just am not feeling much attachment to anyone in the Mysterious trilogy so far. I feel a bit unreasonable, wondering if the problem is with me and not with JRPGs.
Maybe I'm just getting old, is a lot of the magic that drew me to JRPGs when I was younger is gone now?
While this is technically a review site, it's really just a place where someone with a lifelong love of JRPGs wanted to blog about the games he likes.
[Real Life blogging warning]
Love of Japanese RPGs was the main catalyst for me wanting to learn Japanese in the first place. I spent countless hours playing games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Xenogears as a kid, I continued to enjoy games like Ar tonelico 1 & 2 later on. In college I majored in CS, but spent a lot of my free time playing Japanese MMORPGs and single player RPGs to get more language practice.
Some time after graduating college in the US, I realized I wanted to do more than just play games with the time I'd invested in the language. I got a job offer from a software company in Japan two years ago and hopped on it - I don't regret it. Japan is a wonderful country, and I've made many great friends here. The work culture is a bit crazy, and I haven't had as much time to refine my language skills as I'd like (most Japanese people will not correct your spoken Japanese as long as they can understand you, so even if I talk to Japanese people every day, my spoken and composed Japanese is still pretty bad).
[End of real life blogging]
What I'm saying is that JRPGs are a lifelong passion of mine, and when I started this site I was looking forward to a 2015 and 2016 with a lot of games that I could proudly spread the word about to other people with glowing 9+/10 reviews. It hasn't happened. The only 9/10 game so far on here is Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain, and that just barely squeaked out a 9. I haven't been able to write up about some 9.8/10 masterpiece JRPG, because there hasn't been one for me. In fact, when I really dislike a game, more often than not I just drop it and don't review it - I don't want to hurt companies with poor reviews when I feel like the problem is with me and my mindset rather than just the game. I would have eviscerated Exist Archive and maybe hit Etrian Odyssey 5 a bit too if I could have been bothered to finish them, but rather than soldier through them and put up my honest thoughts about them, I just dropped them and didn't review them at all. Cowardly. I remember when I gave Star Ocean 5 a mediocre review, I got quite a bit of hate for it, not just on this site but on other discussion boards linking to it - "How can this guy give Atelier Sophie a good score but give Star Ocean a 7?" well surprise surprise, the English versions are out and Metacritic has Star Ocean at 5.9/10 and Sophie far above it, despite most mainstream review sites being allergic to Atelier. I'd much rather be the deliverer of good news than of bad, though. That Star Ocean review spiked my traffic hugely for a few weeks, but I don't have ads or anything so it's not like I have any good reason to clickbait.
I've come to a point where long running and famous staples of JRPG fandom like Final Fantasy XV and Persona 5 are games that I'm not even considering buying. It's not out of some weird niche hobby elitism, I don't 'hate things that are popular' or anything like that, I just somehow fell off the fan train for these series.
Gust is the last remaining company that I fanboy for pretty hard. Right now I'm having to face the reality that they've been having a very bumpy ride these past few years. While I love Ciel/Ar nosurge, the business execution for those games was a disaster, and now the director, Tsuchiya, is doing a mobile game/anime crossover instead of my long hoped for Exa Pico universe sequel. The song magic games side of Gust seem to be dead and buried, and that's depressing. Atelier Shallie was a disaster in my opinion, Sophie was good but it (along with Shallie) jettisoned a big chunk of the fanbase by shedding time limits only to bring them back in Firis mid-trilogy...it's not very encouraging. I still think they can right this ship when it comes to Atelier, especially next trilogy when they get to do an artist/world reset.
Anyway, I don't know what I'm gonna play next. The Vita has a couple DRPGs that look decent (Demon Gaze 2, Mary Skelter), but DRPG fatigue is real. I want to save my DRPG hype for Dungeon Travelers 2-2. That doesn't come out until April 2017 though, so maybe I can fit one more DRPG in. There's always Tales of Beseria - I'm not much of a Tales person (I've only played Symphonia, Vesperia and Xillia) but it might be interesting to step back in and see how it is. Also, it's not a JRPG but I might pick up Fate/Extella once the price drops even though I expect it to be mediocre. I loved Fate/Extra CCC and was crushed when I found out Extella was a musou instead of a JRPG.
Thanks for reading, let me know how you feel about the overall state of JRPGs in the comments if you feel like it.
Random JRPG blogging about the games I'm currently playing.