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Topics - DariaRPG

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So found this project on reddit yeserday, the kickstarter just started a few days ago and they have a 2 hour demo available. My expectations weren't high but I found that I really enjoyed the game. It cuts out a lot of the old school "fat" of retro style RPGs and focuses on quick ability-laden battles and (hopefully?) engaging dungeon puzzles. There's no random encounters, and zero grinding. The script is well written, and the dungeon segments are fairly short with a good pacing inbettwen side quests (diversions). Anyway I put together a review video to share the things that I liked about the project so far. Or -

Check Out Shadows of Adam on Kickstarter:
Vote to Greenlight on Steam:
Play the Demo Online:

Single-Player RPGs / Top 5 JRPGs for Total n00bs! - Post Yours!
« on: July 30, 2015, 11:29:14 PM »
What 5 games would you recommend to a JRPG virgin and why?

TL;DR? Watch the video:

Despite the title this is more a retrospective on some quality games than any sort of definitive list. Lots of games qualify, these are just the ones I personally picked. I personal wanted to avoid making a list the gets dominated by a single developer so I laid out some ground rules:

Rule number 1: Only one game per developer – If someone new to the genre is turned off by one developer’s style it makes little sense to keep suggesting more of the same.
Rule number 2: Traditional RPGs only – so expect a plethora of turn based menu battles here. Branching out into alternate battle styles is a rabbit hole we don’t need to explore. I could easily devote an entire list to strategy RPGs alone but that would give a new player an inaccurate representation of the “standard” seasoned gamers are familiar with.
Rule number 3: The game should be funny – There’s probably a time and place for overly serious RPGs with deep moral implications and philosophical ponderings. But it sure as hell ain’t here. The most beloved games of the genre keep us laughing even when the world is falling apart around us.
Rule number 4: The storyline should be an epic adventure – This list is all about celebrating tried and true JRPG tropes and clichés. One constant between all these titles is a world spanning adventure which may or may not involve air ships and fire dungeons. You wouldn’t want your first taste of the genre to be totally unlike any other experience you’ll ever have.
Rule number 5: The characters should be memorable – If the game doesn’t have you itching to draw some fanart like an obsessed 12 year old then it doesn’t deserve to be on this list. The characters should feel human with real emotions and dilemmas. By the end of the game the player should feel attached to the characters they just spent 60 hours adventuring with, or what was the whole point?

NOW with all that out of the way, on to the list:

Dragon Quest 8 – PS2/iOS – Enix/Level 5
Dragon Quest 8 developed by Level 5 for SquareEnix is obviously the 8th installment of a very long running series. That’s not to say DQ8 is necessarily the best DQ game out there but I think it’s the most accessible to new players. The gorgeous cell-shaded visuals and orchestrated music provide plenty of candy for the eyes and ears. The main storyline is exciting enough, but long after you’ve forgotten who the cursed king was where he was going you’ll still be picturing Yangus performing the underpants dance. The game introduces you to the basics of turn based combat while staying fun and silly with some highly entertaining animations. There’s also plenty to do for those OCD completionist gamers with a ton of optional side quests like gambling, recruiting monsters for your monster squad, crafting recipes in your alchemy pot, and collecting mini-medals hidden throughout the world, plus once the journey’s over you can keep coming back to beat the crap out of an optional boss to unlock some pretty cool bragging rights and bitchin’ armor. Is DQ8 the best RPG ever made? Hell I don’t know, but it exemplifies everything that’s fun about the genre.

Skies of Arcadia – DC/NGC – Sega
Sega’s never been very prolific with their RPGs, but when they release do one you can expect the experience to be nothing short of amazing - and this is certainly no exception. From beginning to end Skies is a fun cinematic adventure complete with air pirates, larger than-life-titans, and a long lost civilization. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think someone at Sega was writing an interactive love letter to Hayo Miyazaki. Anyway, for the most part Skies is a very traditional RPG. Battles are again turned-based and characters unlock powerful skills which use up valuable resources allotted to the team each turn. There’s an element of strategy involved with deciding when to go all out on an attack and when to conserve energy in the here and now for a harder hitting payoff later. But the real charm lies with the game’s epic-sized ship battles. Your team will go bow-to-bow against other flying aircrafts and against the affor-mentioned monstrous titans. Despite the game’s lack of voice acting the characters (heroes and villains alike) manage to extrude a ton of personality through their facial expressions.  Forget the days of 16 bit sprites wiggling around a screen Vyse, Fina, and Aika act out a whole range of emotions which only enhances the movie-like quality of the game.

Lunar – SCD/PSX/GBA/PSP/PSN – GameArts
Lunar’s been remade on a number of different platforms, but the version I’m specifically recommending is Silver Star Story Complete for the PSOne. I personally feel this version has the best blend of storyline and localization, but since Working Designs tends to elicit a love hate response the PSP version is also very good if you prefer your games to be serious over slightly silly. There’s little reason to play the Sega CD original besides nostalgia, which new RPG gamers won’t have and the GBA’s Lunar Legends was just bad. Painfully bad. Avoid completely. Trust me. That said - Lunar is the perfect example of every RPG: A hero and his band of friends embark on a mission across the known world to save it and the girl he loves. Despite the seriousness of this task the game is utterly hilarious: the banter between friends is really what keeps the player going throughout the adventure. Although the studio quality animated cut scenes don’t hurt. Random battles, although common to the genre, are an exercise in frustration. And probably one of the surest things to turn off new players. Lunar does away with convention and instead allows you to see the enemies (and potentially avoid them) before you trigger a battle. I don’t know if this actually cuts down on the number of encounters you’ll fight, but it feels better especially when you’re desperately trying to reach an exit. Also there’s Ghaleon, one of the best non player characters ever written. If you can’t find something to love about Lunar, you simply have no heart.

Chrono Trigger - SNES/PSX/NDS/Virtual Console – Squaresoft
No JRPG list would be complete without a 16bit entry from Squaresoft. Many fans fondly remember the 90s as the glory days of the genre and picking a beginning’s first RPG from their massive library was no easy task. But I feel that Chrono Trigger represents everything that great about the genre, is fucking gorgeous, and manages to hold up just as well today as it did in 1995. I’ve always been a sucker for Time Traveling storylines, and for good reason - It’s just a lot of fun jumping back and forth between widely different eras. One plot point may have you taking down massive dinosaurs to aid a band of prehistoric nomads and the next battling futuristic robots in a dystopian society. There’s never a moment of down time as your party frantically fights their way to the end of time to undo the world’s complete annihilation. But hey – no pressure. You have all the time in the world to play mini games, seek out epic gear, and complete character backstory quests. Like Lunar, Chrono Trigger does away with random battles plus it rectifies the monotony of the menu-based battle system by incorporating (a totally optional) action bar. As time passes, this bar fills up and players and monsters alike can react. Even if you’re casually navigating the spell list a monster can and will interrupt your turn. It may not always feel strategic but it adds a flair of twitch gaming to an otherwise “thinking man’s genre”. 

Breath of Fire 3 – PSX/PSP/PSN – Capcom
In the days before Capcom was a one trick street fighting pony they were churning out great games from just about every genre – and RPGs were certainly not excluded. Capcom knew that deep down all JRPG gamers secretly wanted to morph into dragons and roast their enemies to a crisp – and so they delivered one great Breath of Fire game after another. Like many of the titles on this list Breath of Fire 3 is ultimately a game about friendship, and all the ups and downs that come with it. The ending may turn out to be bitter sweet but the journey is so much more important than the destination. Also just look at it, the game’s fucking pretty. Breath of Fire 3 also introduces an important gameplay element that’s pretty common to the genre – environmental puzzles. Every so often you’ll be exploring a dungeon, kicking ass and making good time when you’ll run into a room full of shipping containers that just so happen to conveniently block your path to the other side of the room. Different party members have special abilities and you’ll have to use the correct character to advance the game. It’s a nice diversion to the monotony of dungeon crawling, and you’ll welcome the much needed break from those pesky random battles. 

And that’s my list. So are these 5 games the greatest JRPGs ever released? Probably not, but they’re all great games and really that’s what your first experience with the genre should be -  just immersing yourself in a solid game that grabs your attention from beginning to end and stays with you years after you put down the controller. That said, I’m willing to bet that if you’re going to enjoy JRPGs at all then you’ll find something in this list to love.

Game Journals / Daria plays Faria.
« on: April 15, 2015, 04:57:08 PM »
Oh dear god that's a terrible title. :P

Anyway I started playing Faria the other day, I'd like to play through my NES RPG library in full and well how can I not like a Game Arts title? Lunar Dragon Song aside anyway.

Round 1:

About the game:
Faria is an action RPG, and not a kinda-sorta-straddling-the-fence Zelda clone either; There's XP to be had, and a ton of monsters are gonna bleed so I can accumulate it. World map battles are random and trigger an environmentally appropriate arena to fight in: think Chronicles of Radia War (if you've played it). These battle tends to be hard because you have to line up perfectly along either the x or y axis to hit enemies. Dungeon's are populated with set monsters, I find the close-quarters easier for monster bashing as you're generally already facing an enemy when you enter. There's just a lot less dancing around to orient yourself.

The initial story of the game is that you're a traveller who has sailed to the Kingdom of Faria, upon your arrival word is buzzing about town that the princess has been kidnapped by a wizard. What's an inexperienced vagabond to do but invest the whole of his life savings in weaponry and armour and set off on an impromptu rescue mission?

Initial Impressions:
A lot of love went into the character art. As par for any NES RPG the main hero is a generic faceless avatar for the player behind the controller, but the NPCs are distinctive. Sure every soldier in Faria looks identical, but they look unique to this particular game; It's world building. I like it. If anything Faria seems influenced by 80s era studio Ghibli, it gives the seemingly medieval world a whimsical scfi-fi flair. My next realization is that this game is tediously hard, I foresee a Dragon Quest level of grinding in my future.

Upon talking to the locals I learn that the Kingdom's princess has been kidnapped by an evil wizard (zero points for plot originality) and that I should travel north to speak to the king. I decide that nudity is perhaps a dangerous lifestyle in the wilderness and spend all my money on a dirk (second worst weapon) and some pelt armour (second worst armour). I neglect to buy a bow or healing potions at this time. I aimlessly wander around outside looting aliens (seriously these monsters are trippy looking, it's refreshing to battle creatures that aren't derivative of slimes, kobolds, or orcs) and racking up the XP (slowly). I let my prowess with the dirk get to my head and dive into the forest where I'm promptly eaten by some sort of gigantic blob. Dying apparently costs you half your gold on hand and doesn't affect your XP. Good to know.

I purchase some (healing) balms and strike out for the castle. King welcomes and implores me to rescue his daughter. He shows me a photograph and she's apparently some sort of insect in a cocoon. Did I mention that I get to marry the princess bug if I rescue her? Yuck. He also gave me some money (yay!), which I promptly lost when I stepped outside and died (boo!). I can only assume no one else in Faria is brave (dumb) enough to volunteer for the job if the king is handing out bags of money to just anybody who shows up for the job. Maybe I should be concerned about this wizard after all? Nah....

Now that I've spoken to the king I can cross the bridge north of town and enter a new town: here I learn there's an invisible tower to the east I can't enter, a tower to the west populated with deadly monsters, and a cave to to north with a monster that can only be vanquished by a sword I don't own. I stock up on supplies, and new equipment and head out for the western cave. The dungeons in Faria are vaguely Zelda-like. There's more corridors of course, but there was a block I had to shove over to open the front door. Some of the floors are made of ice and you slip-slide around while fighting, other floors are like conveyor belts that slowly shove you across the room, and some rooms spontaneously burst into flames (died once!). I end up exploring the tower twice between deaths and can't discover a reason for being there: although I did find a sweet pearl I can sell for some decent cash.

I head back towards town. I read the manual. I also stop to explore a conspicuous patch of foliage near the town: Holy crap! The princess bug is taking a nap in these woods? Eureka: quest over! Suddenly a mysterious voice laughs at my folly. So apparently that's not the princess, damn insects all look alike.

Back in town I buy a hyperspeed1. The first time I saw it for sale I assumed it was some sort of use once potion, but it's more like a pair of speed shoes. According to the manual I move faster in dungeons and world map battles. Sweet! I also need to save up some money to buy a light so I can explore that cave to the north (I assume).

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