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136  Media / Single-Player RPGs / How did I miss this epic-ness on: June 29, 2008, 08:19:26 PM
Simply divine.

On an related note, anyone know a good way of cleaning caramel latte off of a computer screen?
137  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Star Ocean: The Last Hope on: June 28, 2008, 10:49:08 AM
- Yeah, the story's stupid, but I kinda have to be thankful since it showed me I can still really like a game despite having a pretty dumb story, while XSII showed a decent enough story CAN NOT make a game, not unless the gameplay stayed out of the way (see: visual novels).

Completely agree with this. In a way, SO3 was kind of a turning point in my attitude towards RPGs. I began focusing a lot more on mechanics and replay value.
138  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Star Ocean: The Last Hope on: June 27, 2008, 08:58:38 PM
A new Famitsu came out yesterday, so I'm going to pick it up and see if there's anything on SO4. Not a huge amount of details on the battle system yet, though it does look like planetary exploration will be possible. I'm not hoping for another Mass Effect, though more non-linearity wouldn't hurt.

I don't have any issue with SO4 being on XBox 360. If a special edition comes out on PS3 later like the SO3 director's cut, that'd be fine by me. I won't get into the flame war of XBox 360 vs. PS3. My opinion is always the same: I own both systems, and when good games come out, I buy them. Beyond that, I'm not terribly interested.
139  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Bruhahaha on: June 27, 2008, 08:53:55 PM
As a long time fan who's beaten every version of Star Ocean in English and Japanese including the PSP remakes which I reviewed, I feel as though I should have been paying more attention to this thread...

I was a bit disappointed by the third game largely because of the gameplay, which I felt was a step down from the second game due to things like the Weak/Strong attack system (I don't have that kind of timing, sorry) and especially the awful Invention system, which was too expensive and random.

...SO3 was a huge disappointment to me because of the atmospheric experience it provided. I don't want to be stuck on backwater medieval planets when everything up until that point has promised a science-fiction setting. If Xenosaga can do it (albeit badly), why can't Star Ocean? It's not as though sci-fi environments are any more difficult to craft than muddy medieval locales...

...Thing that REALLY disappointed me about SO3 was, I wanted to hear more and actually get involved in the war between Aldian and Vendeen; and then, out of nowhere, the hand of God smites Aldian, without us ever even seeing Aldian.

I agree with the story criticisms but not the gameplay ones. I liked the more complex battle system. It added a bit more control and strategy whereas the early games were just based on hit rating and defense. The fact that the invention system is more difficult is also an improvement because it adds to the challenge. In the earlier games, you could invent anything anywhere at anytime instantly at virtually no cost save materials. In SO3, you have to find inventors, negotiate, sign them up, assign their location and work, and then consider the talents of a group when inventing single items. The process is complex, time consuming, and expensive, but the pay off is huge for the later areas. It added some much needed balance considering that SO1 and SO2 were a bit easy, even with the difficulty levels.

The story is the game's biggest flaw. Too many fetch quests. I hated Dion and Ameena. I would have preferred if Nel hadn't gone back to save that crazy high-pitched voice chick; she should have left them for dead. It would have made her character darker and more interesting. (Also, I hate Farleen). Oh, and you get to go copper mining.

In the context of this massive interstellar war, an anti-federation conspiracy, top secret genetically engineered bioweapons, and Fayt's family and friends being held hostage, it just feels strange spending so much time slaying dragons and dueling with knights. A better narrative and balance of medieval and sci-fi settings would have done wonders. Translate the invention and skill systems to a futuristic setting (maybe 'nanotech' instead of 'alchemy') and you'd have a fine game. Take Xenosaga's unashamedly sci-fi settings and plot depth combined with SO3's gameplay and you'd have a near perfect RPG.
140  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Since April on: June 24, 2008, 08:30:35 PM
Star Ocean: Second Evolution
Valkyria Chronicles
Breath of Fire 3 (PSP)


I have no idea. I'm thinking about doing the international versions of Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII, since there are some significant changes and I really miss playing games in English. But then there's Persona 4, and Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, and Disgaea DS, and Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk, and ten other games I should be playing / reviewing.

...sigh...I wish I had more free time. If only I could just yell "Za Warudo!" and freeze time and play rpgs for a few months non-stop. Oh man, that would rule so hard.
141  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Happens more often then you'd think on: April 03, 2008, 10:19:46 PM
If I include repeats...

Final Fantasy IV DS
Star Ocean (SNES)
Star Ocean: First Departure
Star Ocean: The Second Story (Japanese PS1 version)
Secret of Mana (8th time now, I think)
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
Disgaea 3: Is there a subtitle to this game?

I flew through the first two Disgaea's to refresh my memory for my review of the third game. I'm way into the post game for Disgaea 3 now. I'm also working on Tales of Innocence and Star Ocean: Second Evolution when I'm on the trains or late for work because some salaryman jumped on the tracks and killed himself.

Never finished Mass Effect or Lost Odyssey. Got kinda bored. I'll finish them later.
142  Media / Single-Player RPGs / My two cents on: March 31, 2008, 11:26:43 AM
c1. I really didn't like the graphics either. Even for DS, they're not amazing, and stylistically, the "puppet people" thing doesn't suit the game. Cecil's voice bugged me too but not that much.

2. If you've only played the American SNES version, this one will seem very hard since, as some of you probably know, the American version was ridiculously dumbed down. Story parts were cut, enemy stats were reduced, etc.

3. Complaining about remakes generally is stupid, I think, since like any other type of game, you have to take the good with the bad. The reason we are seeing so many of them these days is mostly economic. Games take a lot longer to develop now, and because of the huge time and money investment, starting new franchises is a risky business. Constantly making sequels and remakes is much safer bet, and when it comes to cautious business strategy, you can't beat Square Enix. With VIII and IX being exceptions, they have milked every Final Fantasy game for every penny they can get. International versions and sequels for X and XII, four updates for XI, and reissues of 1 through six on handhelds and consoles alike. As someone mentioned, this is the sixth version of FFIV, and it doesn't end there; a new cell phone game that's a direct sequel to FFIV is already in the works.  And we're not even mentioning other Square or Enix franchises.

I don't begrudge them too much for sticking with the tried and true. It's not easy to create new ideas that sell.  Look at Sakaguchi at Mistwalker. Lost Odyssey wasn't the smash hit he'd hoped for in Japan, and ASH for DS is retailing at under 1000 yen (like $8 US). When Square tried to do something somewhat original with Final Fantasy in the film department a la The Spirits Within, they got burned 120 million dollars style. They learned their lesson, gave the fans what they want with Advent Children, and laughed all the way to the bank while critics pointed out its absurd story and characters. We get what we are willing to pay for, and what we pay for influences what we're offered.

4. I agree that, in a sense, remakes are win-win; the company makes more money, people who missed the original may take notice, and older fans have something to spend their money on. In another sense, I think they are somewhat symptomatic of a kind of general malaise I've felt with RPGs for the last year or so. But for a few shining exceptions, gameplay and stories have gotten so formulaic and derivative. Lost Odyssey, Mass Effect, Disgaea 3 - all of them to varying degrees had a somewhat stale quality about them (IMHO, of course). I just wish some of these talented folks who are busy prettying up the eighth version of Tales of Phantasia were spending their time dreaming up original gameplay ideas, and good stories.

Oh, and I beat FFIV for DS a while ago and wrote a review. Wasn't crazy about it. I liked the GBA version better.
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