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Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
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196  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Any news on an Ar Tonelico 2 recall? on: March 14, 2009, 01:34:14 PM
The only major crash is the Raki bug, and any thorough player that does all the optional content to that point shouldn't have a problem getting around that.  Other than that, the game may have frozen once on me, if that.  In addition, there's no lack of savepoints.  If you fall in the "thorough player" category, the game is perfectly playable.  Note that the game doesn't seem to work on any model of PS3 except the 60GB PS3 with the Emotion chip for hardware emulation.
197  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Article - Best RPG of last generation... DQ8? on: March 14, 2009, 02:14:42 AM
I think the biggest reason I liked DQVIII was that it was closer to how I imagined JRPGs would become after seeing those first screenshots of Skies of Arcadia. It's kind of like an alternative evolution of the JRPG, working on a more fully realized world to explore rather than concentrating on being movie/anime like and presenting the game world in such a fashion (fixed, cinematic camera angles). Anyways, with how cheap it is I'd say it's worth a shot, even if it takes forever to complete wouldn't you arguably get your money's worth after just 20-ish?

One of my problems is I'm a completionist.  Give me too much to do and I get irritated, because I feel compelled to do it all whether I want to or not.  Dragon Quest VIII had a lot to do, but it was manageable at least.  Final Fantasy games drive me nuts, particularly due to their habit of including irrationally hidden extras and missable content.  I gave up on XII in disgust when I realized I'd missed out on the Genji steals in the first Gilgamesh fight and had just overwritten my save file (hurray for allowing multiple steals without making the player aware of it).
198  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Article - Best RPG of last generation... DQ8? on: March 14, 2009, 12:04:30 AM
If you like old-school RPG's, you'll probably like Dragon Quest 8 (having liked a previous game in the series never hurts either).  That said, I didn't really think it was anything special, although it kept me entertained for its duration.  It was a cartoony, traditional-style RPG that reminded me of a SNES game with a fresh coat of paint.  Dark Cloud 2 is another similar game that people raved over and didn't strike me as anything special.  Like anything else it's just a certain taste, I guess.
199  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 13, 2009, 07:33:09 PM
Final dungeons often serve as a lead-in to the ending, building tension until the climax, the final battle.  I think that's a role they generally serve well, which is why I don't see any need for final dungeons to be removed or even used less often than they are now.  Like many devices often termed cookie cutter, generic, or overused, final dungeons are common because they serve a purpose and they're appealing.  As flashrom says, they help create a sense of finality.  Are they required? No, but they're a well established, functional way of ending a linear-style game.

That said, there's better and worse ways to design a final dungeon, and as with anything there's a balance that needs to be struck between challenge and frustration, among other things.
200  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 12, 2009, 07:59:19 PM
Actually, I also get the impression that Microsoft wants to keep publishers from releasing games that span too many discs as id talked about high royalties for going beyond one.

Now that's interesting.  Did a search on it and got spammed by some game named Rage that apparently got a lot of attention because developers cut back on content to fit it on 2 discs, supposedly to avoid royalty fees.  I wonder what Microsoft's motive is there.  Is their motive really as silly as "not wanting to look bad because Xbox 360 versions require more discs than PS3 and PC versions?"  It'd seem to me that there'd be much more outcry over reduced visual quality and such on Xbox 360 versions to fit the games on less discs.

Although personally, for most multiplatform titles I'd go with the PC version anyway.  PCs are more powerful, clear and simple, and the consoles' advantage of unified technical specs is diminished when the game becomes multiplatform.
201  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 12, 2009, 05:51:47 PM
Star Ocean 4 has 3 discs.  All you have to do is make disc 1 the required play disc when playing off the hard drive.  Piracy solved (at least to the same extent that disk swapping did).

SO4 still came out just months after they implanted the hard drive installs. Actually, I suspect that the installs function more like running an ISO off of a disc emulator, it's not a proper installation and would still need/expect disc swaps. If anything it's Microsoft's fault, not tri-Ace's.

I wasn't pointing fingers in any particular direction.  As you say, the install appears to save like an ISO (I installed Tales of Vesperia and all discs of SO4, and the disc sizes were all approximately 4.5GB, which is near the max capacity of a DVD; in addition, the disc drive doesn't spin during gameplay).  That's actually why it seems like disc swapping would be so easy to avoid.  If the entire disc is saved on the hard drive, all the data is there, so the only reason for an "insert disc" prompt is security.  It'd be a different story if key pieces were missing from the install such as music tracks and movie sequences.  At least that'd save me hard drive space...though that would kind of defeat the whole purpose which was keep the disc drive from breaking and minimize the noise output.

Changing discs one or twice per playthrough is fine.  Having to change discs whenever you backtrack to areas on previous discs is sloppy programming/implementation when a full hard drive install is available.

As far as timeline is concerned, I wasn't aware hard drive installs were a new feature.  I got my Xbox 360 a month ago, but Tales of Vesperia was out in Autumn or so of last year.
202  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 12, 2009, 08:53:03 AM
Technical ineptitude is having to disk swap with an Xbox 360 game that's installed to the hard drive.

Don't be an idiot, most games aren't multidisc and those that are weren't programmed with the possibility in mind. Unless you mean having to play a game installed to the hard drive with the DVD in, in which case there'd be little stopping you from returning it to GameStop and getting a free game on your console.

Star Ocean 4 has 3 discs.  All you have to do is make disc 1 the required play disc when playing off the hard drive.  Piracy solved (at least to the same extent that disk swapping did).

No need to go namecalling over a simple disagreement...
203  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 11, 2009, 09:00:42 PM
Technical ineptitude is having to disk swap with an Xbox 360 game that's installed to the hard drive.
204  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Star Ocean: The Last Hope news.(56k Warning) on: March 11, 2009, 08:53:13 PM
I actually thought the characters look really good.  I'm perfectly fine with the "doll-like" look -- it fits Lymle especially well.  The faces certainly are leagues above the randomly generated faces Bethesda churns out in Morrowind and Oblivion.  It's just the same sort of 3D anime style as Xenosaga I right?
205  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS*** on: March 10, 2009, 11:05:36 PM
I'm a fan of optional bonus dungeons myself, which can serve the "test the player's mettle" aspect of the final dungeon.  The downside there is that if they contained core story elements, making them optional might detract from the storyline.  Thus bonus dungeons often don't have much story content to them.

But really, I can't recall a JRPG in recent memory where the final dungeon annoyed me.  Last bosses maybe (Persona 3...), but not the dungeons themselves.  It seems to me like ridiculously hard and grindy final dungeons are more a relic of the old traditional turn-based RPG's.

The length of Persona 3 was a problem for me as well.  I also liked it for about the first half.  At that point my hatred of randomly generated dungeons flared up and wouldn't die down again.  Ironically I was also playing a Japanese game at the time (Mine Fukaki Se ni Tayutau Uta) that did the randomly generated dungeon thing better, IMO.  Still need to finish that game...
206  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Gust RPGs very mediocre? on: March 10, 2009, 07:05:06 PM
These days it doesn't seem like any company is shying away from mediocre RPGs.  I will say pound for pound that Gust is lousy, but it really doesn't help when each and every NISA translation looks like it was done through Babelfish.

I play games using machine translations.  If they could pump out NISA-level translations I wouldn't need to keep working on my Japanese--as it is, the garble they spit out is often comprehensible but takes a LOT of effort to decipher (not to mention I have to do the same with the online walkthroughs -_-).

Heh, but at least the machine translators don't introduce game crashing bugs.
207  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Star Ocean: The Last Hope news.(56k Warning) on: March 10, 2009, 04:36:26 PM
My major gripe with SO4 so far (I'm still on disc 1) is one that seems ignored or badly articulated in the reviews I've seen.  Some say it has a good story, others say it has a bad story--but why?  I think SO4's problem is the writing can't keep up with the "epic" vision they had for the plot.  S04 wants to tell a story of world-spanning heroism, but that takes good writing to pull off.  Try it with poor writing and everything feels contrived.  And that's SO4's problem.  The plotline is terribly contrived.  In addition, the characters feel incredibly shallow, although this is a quality common to many games.  And no, it's not just the cartoonishness or anime quality, because I can appreciate that as an anime fan.  The characters don't really feel like they have the drive to do and say they things they do--it feels like the developers had a role that needed to be filled and they constructed a hollow persona to fill it that wouldn't ask any difficult questions--particulary in Edge's case, as the lead character and supposedly the one calling the shots.  Then you have the plotline where one unlikely yet convenient event happens after the other, and altogether it feels like the game is just going through the motions of "I'm an RPG so I have to have a story to go along with the cool battles!" without attending to the reason why there's a story in the first place: immersion in the gameworld.  That to me is what RPG's are all about.  With a good RPG, you should be able to strip out all the game mechanics and be left with a story that's worth telling, that stands alone, and I feel SO4 has failed that test, at least so far.  The contrived plotline and the shallow characters ruin the immersion for me, and I consistently find myself unable to connect with the characters feelings and actions (the reason for doing what I'm doing at any point in the game) because of it.

The players that like SO4's story like the epic quality of it I think, in that it tries to do so much (or they're simply used to threadbare stories and anything that isn't is a pleasant though ultimately insignificant surprise).  Those that dislike it sense the contrived quality (common in anime but often better concealed) but don't seem to know how to articulate it, or are unable to get past a simple dislike of anime-like comedy mixed together with a more serious epic plotline.

Other than the shallowness and contrivedness, I actually like the game and even the character themselves.  I believe you could take the same basic plot and characters, tie it together with improved writing, and make a really great game.  As it is, it stands as a deeply flawed title that's a lot of fun to play but doesn't pack the wow factor of a game like Baldur's Gate II, Fate/Stay Night, or Eien no Aselia.  But who knows, maybe my first impressions will change as I continue playing.
208  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Best RPG of Last Generation? on: March 06, 2009, 08:47:03 PM
On a similar note, some just feel that a cutscene is needlessly long and can be compressed some to not only waste less time, but be more effective. Case in point: the Nocturne discussion in this thread, and in generally more =/= better. Some of the very best stories in any medium can take very little time to tell.

I had that thought playing Ar Tonelico 2.  In particular I thought that a lot of the shopkeeper cutscenes were a waste of time.  On the other hand, I always read the item descriptions of crafted items because they tended to be amusing.
209  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Best RPG of Last Generation? on: March 06, 2009, 08:22:00 PM
I wonder sometimes, was the anime Serial Experiments: Lain's story good, or did I just think it was good because it was insanely obtuse?

I have to put Lain in the same category as Evangellion. On completion it makes you think/feel: "wow, that was deep", but the more you think about it later (if you DO think about it), you start to wonder whether all of the "depth" really meant anything at all, or was it just "deep" for the purpose of making the audience FEEL enlightened (even if they weren't actually being enlightened at all). I think this is one of the pitfalls of many anime and jRPGs (and wRPGs for that matter). A lot of the people in RPG demographic are the kind of people who want to feel enlightened. Many are bright, many actually do spend their lives thinking about deeper matters. But many are extremely needy of enlightenment, to the point where anything that has the pretense of being enlightened is automatically good.

Sometimes I think that anime and RPG developers know this, and are playing us for fools. I think the Lain team probably meant well, and they did succeed in creating a very eerie surreal atmosphere and feel. But I definitely wonder about the creator of Eva, my suspicion (as well as some of his comments) lead me to believe that he was playing a big Andy Coffman-esque joke.

I have no love for obtuse anime like Lain and (the 2nd half of) Evangelion.  Anime like Claymore are what I look for in terms of story.  I want a story that's deep without shoving it in your face.  I find preachiness annoying.  I also don't like exercises in "wtf."  I want a story, not a dissertation, not a sermon, not a creative blackhole that I'm supposed to fill because the designers wanted to be artsy.
210  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Best RPG of Last Generation? on: March 06, 2009, 08:09:43 PM
Beyond particularly bad examples like that though? You can make an argument that a game focuses on story to the fault of gameplay, I kinda feel like Twilight Princess did this since it was the first Zelda I noticed you couldn't do the dungeons in a semi-nonlinear fashion if you felt like it, and mostly held you from accessing new dungeons via story rather than gameplay. That could just as easily be an attempt to not let players get lost in the world and stuck though, since it's a bigger world than the prior games (not that it feels that way).

When I think of gamers complaining about story, I think Xenosaga.  Whether the story be good or bad, I don't think most gamers, to some extent even RPG gamers, value a story that dominates the gameplay (i.e., high cutscene to "gameplay" ratio).  They pick up an RPG expecting good gameplay with a story tacked on, not a good story with gameplay tacked on.  It's that attitude that I think suppresses the niche appeal of visual novels or even visual novels with some gameplay.  American gamers can't accept a game that focuses on story above all else.  Bioware's recent Dragon Age poll challenges this notion a bit (most voters attested that the story and characters were what made them excited about Dragon Age), but those same gamers would probably have little interest in the game if it didn't promise Bioware's staples of extensive exploration and a fun battle system.
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