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46  The Rest / The Helper Monkey / Re: Shadow Hearts question on: August 03, 2015, 02:05:54 AM
Thanks, everyone!  I'm going to give the original Shadow Hearts another shot, and if I don't like it then I'll switch to Covenant.  If I still don't like THAT, I'm giving up.  Probably gonna do that sometime in the fall. 
47  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: August 03, 2015, 01:55:33 AM
I've been trying to get every conversation achievement in this Diablo III run, and I MISSED ONE right at the start of Act III.  Major bummer.  Might have to do another character to get that. 

I don't remember if you have to beat the game first, but you can go back to previous chapters just by picking it. In fact, some of the conversation achievements can only be gotten by talking to characters at points in the game you shouldn't normally have access to them.
Yeah, you were right.  You do have to beat the game first, but you can go back in the mode select menu.  I found that out and did some Achievements cleanup today, then ran Grifts for a few hours. 
48  The Rest / The Helper Monkey / Shadow Hearts question on: August 01, 2015, 02:44:16 AM
I own all three Shadow Hearts games, but haven't made it past the 4-hour mark in any of them (or even the 0-hour mark in From the New World).  I'm not the most fiscally responsible guy when it comes to video games.  I plan on getting into at least one of them later this year.  My question is: do I really need to play the first one?  I remember the second one made a lot of gameplay improvements, and most Shadow Hearts fans say Covenant is the best one in the series.  So is it okay to skip over the first one and jump into Covenant, or will I miss out on major story payoffs if I do that? 
49  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: August 01, 2015, 02:17:10 AM
I've been trying to get every conversation achievement in this Diablo III run, and I MISSED ONE right at the start of Act III.  Major bummer.  Might have to do another character to get that. 
50  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Dragon Quest XI announced for PS4 and 3DS on: July 28, 2015, 08:14:11 AM
I'm really curious as to the major differences between the two versions.  Weren't the DS and PS3 versions of Ni no Kuni two very different games?  I'm not very knowledgeable about Ni no Kuni DS....

But really I hope that North America gets both versions.  Along with the 3DS versions of VII and VIII.  I hope Square-Enix makes good on Horii's accidental announcement, heh. 
51  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 27, 2015, 10:33:27 AM
Finished Danganronpa this morning.  It was... pretty good.  The premise is equally fascinating and gruesome, the over-the-top anime nonsense is amusing, and it has some genuinely suspenseful and intense moments.  The writing... is subpar compared to other high-profile mystery visual novels like Virtue's Last Reward or Ace Attorney, and the courtroom case / shooting gallery / rhythm game mechanics basically get the job done, but are a little much.  Danganronpa's mystery writing seems so directed, while in Phoenix Wright games the mystery writing feels more earned and the player makes more decisions to influence the case.  I would have liked it better if Danganronpa didn't solve so much of the mystery for you and maybe had FEWER active gameplay mechanics.  

And the weirdest part to me is that most of the culprits don't seem like criminals.  With the exceptions of case 3 and the final boss, the murderers are teenagers that that are pushed into a corner and then act rashly.  The developers make an effort to make the murderers seem more sympathetic, and that's a little strange even though one of the game's motifs is that of despair forcing good people to do bad things.  I dunno, I'm probably alone in thinking this, but it seemed like Danganronpa was making too many excuses for murder.  The final boss was delightfully insane though, and I wish more of the cases had that level of payoff.  

But that doesn't mean I didn't like the game!  When Danganronpa's cases are good, they're awesome; cases 3, 4, and 6 are really solid.  I'm interested in picking up the sequel, but maybe not until it goes down in price a little (papa needs to save up for Persona 5 a pair of Trails games).  It was a fun handheld visual novel / mystery game and I'm going to try like hell to avoid spoilers for the rest of the series.  
52  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Completion List 2015 on: July 26, 2015, 01:43:23 PM
Games Beaten: 2014 Edition

1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
2. Ys: The Ark of Napishtim
3. Fire Emblem: Awakening
4. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
5. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (NG+)
6. Persona 4 Golden
7. Ys: Memories of Celceta
8. Her Story
9. Final Fantasy X HD Remaster
10. Persona 4 Golden (Platinum)
11. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
12. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
13. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

I'm a little behind.  I was hoping to get at least 25 on the year, and I'm not sure I'll be able to reach that goal.  I didn't help myself by playing Persona 4 Golden twice, either....  Up next is either Danganronpa or Paper Mario, with The Last Story on deck. 
53  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: The best decade for cartoons on: July 26, 2015, 01:20:14 PM
While I adore Duck Tales, it was mostly released in the '80s and had repeats shown through the 90s.  The series was capped off by its movie, which was also 1990.  If I had to say it belonged to a particular decade, it would be the 1980s.  On a similar note, Dexter's Laboratory originally aired from 1996 to 2003 and PowerPuff girls aired from 1998 to 2005, so they also straddle two decades. 

And while my answer to this question is the 1990s beyond a shadow of a doubt (Batman TAS, Superman TAS, Pirates of Dark Water, X-Men AS, Dexter's Lab, Cartoon Network's suite of programming, etc.), I want to bring up two particular favorite series of mine. 

Young Justice - the best animated superhero series in the past fifteen years, but sadly only had two seasons in 2010-2011 and 2012-2013.  Real bummer there. 

Pirates of Dark Water - Aired in 1991 and 1992, I LOVED this Hanna-Barbera series.  It still bugs me that they ended the series on a semi-cliffhanger without any explanation. 

And I would also submit the 1960s as a strong decade for cartoons.  Disney's cartoons and Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes were still at the top of their respective games through that era (MGM's strongest period was in the 40s and 50s, unfortunately), and the 1960s also saw the debuts of The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo, Johnny Quest, Speed Racer, Underdog, and the Charlie Brown cartoon specials.  Tom & Jerry also had a Looney Tunes run in the 1960s, but the best Tom & Jerry cartoons are the MGM ones in the 40s. 
54  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 25, 2015, 12:40:09 PM
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward is a goddamn masterpiece.  It solves my biggest problem with 999 (having to repeat content multiple times with almost no guidance as to which are the "right" pathways) and matches or exceeds the quality and quantity of puzzles in 999.  The flowchart setup makes a lot of sense, and has real story relevance in addition to being a convenient and fun delivery system for the puzzles, choices, and story beats.  The characters are all interesting with really solid dialog throughout the game, and almost all of them have a hidden side that is fascinating to discover.  This game is excellent. 

...and I haven't even beaten it yet!  I was up super-late last night (around 5 AM, which late for an old man like me that wakes up at 6 AM on weekdays), because I hit a point in the story where it was hard to put down.  Without going into spoilers, I completed 15 out of the 16 puzzle rooms and immediately had a lot of character endings made available to me.  Before playing hardcore last night, I had beaten 9 puzzle rooms and only found two character endings.  I unlocked five or six of them last night.  This morning I beat the final puzzle room and got some more story content out of the way, but I definitely have some more visual novel segments ahead of me.  I don't know if I'll ever replay this game, but it was a hell of a ride and I can't wait for the sequel.  Pretty sure I'll have the Platinum trophy locked down once I get that final ending. 
55  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 24, 2015, 08:26:26 AM
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Beat Act V and got my first D3 character up to level 67.  Now I'll wait it out for the new Diablo III season to start and maybe run some multiplayer games in seasonal mode.  For now I can take a break for some...

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward - holy hell this game has gotten good.  I've unlocked four character endings and a bunch of bad endings, so some of the endgame plot stuff is starting to get un-muddled.  And holy smoke, it's interesting.  The flowchart is so much improved over 999's story, that the amount of puzzle content is roughly the same (I think both games had 16 puzzles, but VLR might have more) but with less repetition and more secrets behind each character.  I'm going to platinum this shit, which seems doable because I think you get the platinum trophy by getting every ending and unlocking all the Gold Files, which I want to do anyway. 
56  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 21, 2015, 06:07:18 PM
Binged pretty hard into Diablo III's Reaper of Souls expansion, which was a generous gift from a friend (it was on sale this weekend and he owed me for some movie tickets; my friend is a cheap mofo).  Did all of Act V solo in 2 evenings.  Really, really love the adjusted experience curve and greater loot drops.  Looking forward to jumping into Adventure Mode! 

...and I still have Danganronpa, Virtue's Last Reward, and Paper Mario to play.  Hopefully I can knock those out and put some time into Diablo before I run out of July. 
57  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 19, 2015, 05:13:46 PM
Made some game progress over the past several days:

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward - Holy crap this game is 999 with fewer problems, better writing, and more endings and possibilities (from what I can glean from the trophy list).  I've hit a few bad endings already, and five or six "To Be Continued" points, but I still don't have a great idea about what's going on.  I love it.  The differences between each timeline and the total lack of repeating puzzle rooms make moving through each run feel like a (mostly) new experience.  That was a major weakness of 999. 

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - I like the interesting twist on the "bunch of strangers trapped in an area begin to murder each other" premise that's the subject of tons of manga and visual novels, and Class Trial segments are pretty dope, even though I wish it was a little more... straightforward?  The Truth Bullets shooting gallery for presenting evidence and the rhythm game for a final argument seems... like a little much.  Whatever.  I'm enjoying Danganronpa (finished two cases, nobody's died to kick off the third one yet). 

Paper Mario - I've been playing this on and off since February, and it's really good, but just always seems to be the 2nd or 3rd game in my priority list rather than the most important thing.  I'm about to fight the boss of Flower Fields, so if I get another hour or so in I should have six out of seven Star Spirits.  I absolutely adored The Thousand-Year Door but never played the original (never owned an N64, playing this via the Wii Virtual Console) so it's cool that I'm having that itch scratched again. 
58  Media / Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn on: July 15, 2015, 07:43:21 AM
I only finished about 140 of the 150 puzzles, but I finished Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask at last.  Sweet ending.  Story was pretty well-executed, with the flashbacks supporting the present-day narrative in mostly smart ways, but as a result I could see the very-endgame twist coming a mile away.  I'll have to keep an eye out on the prices for Azran Legacy.  Not sure how long I'll be able to hold out. 

recently obtained Danganronpa and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, so that'll be my next week or two.  After those, it'll be the fourth game for Retro Encounter! 
59  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Evolution 2015 on: July 14, 2015, 11:07:01 PM
Holy crap.  A ton of prize money added, compared to previous years.  I'll be all over the streams for USF4 and P4U. 
60  Media / Game Journals / Re: Retro Encounter Podcast Thread on: July 14, 2015, 12:02:43 AM
Get in line. 

(FF Tactics is my favorite Final Fantasy game, and my second-favorite Square-Enix game, heh)

It's my Favorite Video Game OF ALL TIME!!  So nah!  :P[/quote]
Uh, I was mostly referring to actually being on staff and not which of us likes Final Fantasy Tactics better, dood.  But that was just me giving you the business; this month's crew did a really solid job with the first episode and I'm psyched to hear more.  They don't need any outside help :)

And while I'm here I guess I'll post some favorite builds of mine.  Nothing terribly earth-shattering, just stuff that I go back to, uh, a lot.  Using PS1 nomenclature, because it's what I've played more.  Except I'm calling Wizards Black Mages because, c'mon. 

Black Mage

Equipment for boosting MA as much as possible, incl. Genji Glove, Wizard Rod.  Robe of Lords might be better than a Wizard Robe because of HP and other bonuses.  Similar choice between Thief Hat and Flash Hat. 

Draw Out / Iaido
MP Switch
Magic Attack Up
Move MP Up

Pretty simple concept - use the Draw Out for offense, defense, and support, backed up by the famous MP Switch / Move MP Up combo.  You'll never take HP damage as long as your MP remains above zero.  Draw Out doesn't rely on Faith calculation, has pretty high multipliers, has a casting time of zero, AND distinguishes between allies and enemies (so no enemy heals or friendly fire).  Holy crap.  Draw Out is a contender for the best non-Math Skill moveset in the game, but it's wasted on a physical class.  Give it to a Chapter 4 Ramza, a Black Mage, or a Summoner?  Monstrous.  Also great for Oracles, who are good melee-mages thanks to Rods. 

If you don't like the MP Switch / Move MP Up combo you can replace it with something safe like Blade Grasp / Move +2.  Having low movement really sucks, but I love having such a high MP buffer, especially since Wizards have large MP and I probably won't be using black magic.  Only bummer is the range of Draw Out skills (other than Kikuichimoji), but them's the breaks. 

Ninja nonsense

Equipment for boosting Speed and PA as much as possible, but mostly Speed.  Thief Hat is a must.  Rubber Suit probably isn't; just use whatever your best Clothes are.  Chantage or Setiemson for a lady ninja, probably a Feather Mantle for guys. 

...I won't list skills here, but only recommend Move +2 and either Blade Grasp or Sunken State.  A team of two ninjas with Blade Grasp and some combination of Punch Art / Martial Arts, Thief Skill / whatever, or Battle Skill / Attack Up will do incredible damage.  Throw is a very boring, safe skill that's nice to use at range, but combining the dual-wielding ninja with Battle Skill or Martial Arts is incredible, especially since the Thief has such higher speed and movement than a Monk or Knight.  Very easy to use class that's extremely versatile for different builds and useful through to the endgame. 

...so yeah basically every time I play FF Tactics I end up using Samurai and Ninja a lot, the former to give their skills to magic classes and the latter for using the skills of other classes.  I really like putting Ramza in that Samurai build class because his Squire class has ridiculously good MA (I think on average only 1 or 2 less than a Wizard?) plus great HP, the ability to equip any male armor and accessory, any shield, and a Rune Bladeg?  Total monster.  And Scream is the perfect skill to use when you don't need to use a support katana and aren't in range of the enemy.  Whatever.  Final Fantasy Tactics is the best.  It's a shame that its sequels pale in comparison. 
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