December 28, 2015

Persona Q 3DS Review

Filed under: Nintendo — Tags: , , , , , — Yukino @ 4:08 PM

PQ P4 Leader

I took far too long to finish Persona Q. Not because I didn’t enjoy the P3/P4 crossover game, because I really did, even when I was stuck on a dungeon floor for three days figuring out the FOE pattern. There’s just something about Persona and JRPG games that makes me want to sink a ridiculous amount of time into them. I literally spent three weeks worth of evenings grinding my characters into the 90 levels and fusing new Personas to push my compendium completion to 90%.

I know. I have a problem. (more…)

May 4, 2012

Trauma Centre: Under the Knife 2 (Project Backlog)

Status: Main game completed, varying difficulties

When I spot games that are under $10 I instinctively want to add them to my game library (much to the chagrin of my husband). Hence why I’m rarely allowed to peruse the game section at Fry’s when we stop in there. For the most part I’ve scored big, finding titles that I’d either forgotten I wanted or oddities that seemed to fly under everyone’s radar.

I really only picked up Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 because 1) it was cheap, and 2) I wanted to see just how well this surgical game played. I’d heard about the ridiculousness of having to disarm a bomb using medical supplies in a previous installment, probably what had originally caused me to avoid the franchise. (more…)

October 5, 2011

Persona 4 (Project Backlog)

Filed under: Playstation,Project Backlog — Tags: , , , , , — Yukino @ 8:09 PM

Status: Finished once on Normal (107h 40m) with the Good Ending, started New Game+ on Expert

The Persona franchise is one of my absolute favourites. It combines so many things that I love into one giant ball of twistedness, and I always go back in for seconds or thirds. Persona 4 is no exception to that rule, as I began a New Game+ just as soon as the ending credits finished rolling. (more…)

July 15, 2010

Persona 3 Portable (P3P)

Filed under: Playstation — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Yukino @ 3:09 PM

By far one of the most-loved JRPGs of the Playstation 2 era, Persona 3 Portable (or P3P) gives us the opportunity to re-visit the Dark Hour and discover the various Personas that our mind is able to call upon in the fight against the Shadows.

By day, you are a typical high school junior. You go to class, make friends, participate in school clubs and work part time for some extra spending money. By night, you and your dorm-mates enter into a time known as the Dark Hour where you battle your way up the looming tower Tartarus in hopes that you can right wrongs belonging to those who came before you. The story of Persona 3 still holds up as one of the best and most enjoyable titles I have had the pleasure of wasting away my time with the JRPG category over the past few years.

P3P strikes a wonderful balance between grinding in the randomly generated levels of the Tartarus dungeon and enhancing your Persona-wielding life-style with extra-curricular activities. Exploring Tartarus and defeating the Shadows lurking around each and every corner brings you closer to ending the Dark Hour for good. Making friends and creating strong bonds with them is what brings additional power to the Persona you create to assist you in your quest.

Unlocking Personas is like catching Pokemon. Once you start, you just can’t stop! When you first enter Tartarus you’ll only have the inherent Orpheus available. As you defeat Shadows you’ll be able to hold more Personas acquired by obtaining special tarot cards. The further you climb to the top of Tartarus, the more powerful the cards you can find. Visiting the Velvet Room, a mainstay of the Persona franchise, you’ll want to fuse as many new Personas as possible, with some instances requiring up to six Persona cards in a fusion.

Featured in this new handheld version of the game, P3P now allows you to chose between a male or female main character. Social Links with classmates and other residents around Port Island will differ depending on which you choose. While the overall story is the same, it’s the little things that impact you will remember your high school days.

Social Linking with Yukari strengthens the Lovers Arcana

This being my second time through the story of the SEES group, I chose to experience life at Gekkoukan High School as a female student. Choosing the female option, your cursor and other icons are a soft shade of pink as opposed to the blue for the male option. I joined several clubs, including the volleyball team and student council, making a lot of wonderful female friends. I also spent time after school hanging out with fellow SEES members Junpei and Akihiko in an attempt to get closer to them. With the female character, you can also choose if Igor’s assistant in the Velvet Room is the beloved Elizabeth or the new male option, Theodore.

The one aspect of playing with the female character that I was most interested in exploring was seeing if it was possible for her to date the guys around her much as the male character could in the original. I spent nights slaving at Chagall Cafe either working or just having the Pheromone Coffee so that I could increase my Charm to a level that would allow me to build my Social Link with the dreamy and sought-after Akihiko-senpai. Sadly, there was no smooching or hand holding to be had. Once I had maxed out the Social Link, Akihiko was not to be found in his usual spot Monday and Friday afternoons in the Lab Hallway. I was unable to find any information to see if I had done anything incorrectly, which means my poor high school crush on Akihiko will forever remain just a crush.

Atlus has also included the part-time job option which allows you to earn some money while increasing your Academic, Charm and Courage skills. Before you could only enhance these skills by studying, correctly answering questions during class and spending money at certain establishments. While you can still simply spend some money and do so, working at a shop helps boost two of these areas at a time as well as pocketing some money to help by that fancy new weapon you’ve got your eye on.

My favourite new additions to P3P are the outrageous outfits to stuff into my wardrobe. It’s an added bonus that your characters really do wear these in Tartarus. My favourite was the Battle Panties, a white bra and panty set with matching knee-high stockings giving the wearer a plus two stat bump to their Magic skills. Santa suits, bathing suits and maid outfits are other special apparel you can collect.

Other tweaks to P3P include bringing two new difficulty modes, meaning you now have five degrees of difficulty at your fingertips, as well as the much desired battle command control as was offered in Persona 4. Using the Tactics option from your in-battle menu, you can now set parameters for those members currently part of your team. This option can only be accessed when you are controlling the main character and gives you a much better handle on those tough bosses.

Use the Battle Menu to set Tactics for your AI characters

P3P is not a perfect port of the original PS2 title. Due to the limitations of the PSP disc, the anime cut-scenes have been replaced with game graphic voiced over scenarios. I do miss them, but it is a small sacrifice to make in order to have everything else introduced to this version of P3. Also excluded from P3P is the additional content The Answer which was released with Persona 3: FES.

Overall Opinion

Since P3P arrived at my doorstep I have done nothing aside from spend all day on my PSP. Even in my sleep, I am thinking of what extra-curricular activities I want to do over the next school week, figure out how many floors in Tartarus I want to climb and which types of Personas I need to create so that I can get the best of the best for the inevitable final battle. Looking for something to waste countless of hours on? Then this is your game, as you can grind and grind to your heart’s content. There is so much content on this disc that it’s about to burst at the seams. Do yourself a favour and buy this game now. Buy it for a friend, too. Share the love of the twisted darkness that is Persona with as many people as you can.

Buy Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable from Amazon today!

June 20, 2010

Hexyz Force

Filed under: Playstation — Tags: , , , — Yukino @ 1:53 PM

Ancient prophesies have begun to come true in the land of Berge. The forces of Creation and Destruction are battling against each other for the power to change the fate of the world. Someone is destroying ancient Monoliths keeping Delgaia, God of Destruction, sealed off from Berge, and it is up to you to gather Force and influence the outcome of this battle.

Hexyz Force provides you two main characters to play through the story with: Cecilia Armaclite and Levant von Schweitzer. Both characters are Hexyz, re-incarnations of divinities from the dawn of Berge’s beginnings, and each have their own unique story leading them on a quest to tip the scales of Berge’s fate. Atlus truly provides a 2-in-1 roleplaying experience with this amazingly fun and humourous title.

And while Cecilia and Levant each have a unique story, they are not completely separate of each other. At several points throughout their journeys, the two Pillars will meet as they share a similar goal. One story told by the actions of two heroes. Both sides with vibrant, lovable and friends and family fighting for their futures.

~~~

Cecilia’s Story

My first playthrough was with the lazy and slightly ignorant Cecilia, a cleric in the Temple of Palfina who’d rather spend her time staring up at the sky than studying. Her destiny confronts her one afternoon when a thick miasma descends on the Temple, bringing with it monsters and a mysterious evil creature leading them. Suddenly, she is enveloped in a magnificent white light and transported to the Holy Vessel, the source of Force, and informed that she is a Hexyz – a reincarnation of the divine Palfina. She inherits the Staff of Palfina (Holy Riafalt) and is given the task of tipping the scales back towards that of Creation in order to save Berge.

Cecilia reluctantly sets out to gather Force from the Monoliths that keep Berge’s enemy sealed away, with her furry friend Ralu and another Hexyz, Raffi, as her companions. Along the way she will cross paths with races unknown on her side of Berge, meeting both friend and foe from both sides of the Black Precipice.

Levant’s Story

On the other side of Berge, someone kills the fiance of Levant’s ruler, destroying hope for peace with all races on Dark Berge. The death of his beloved suddenly changes Axel, and he commands his armies to purge the land of the Elves, Lycans and all others who seek to destroy him. Levant cannot understand what has happened to his friend, and when he assists those Axel accuses of killing his fiance, Levant is marked and sentenced to death for treason.

Spirited away from the dungeons by Irene, half-sister to Axel whom Levant swore to protect, and a Lycan named Greik, Levant seeks out the truth of what happened that night in the Elven Forest. For he is one of the Pillars, wielder of a holy Ragnafact hidden and protected by the Elves for centuries.

~~~

One of the key components of this game is the use of Force. Force is the energy of Berge, both Creative and Destructive, that flows naturally throughout the world. The Hexyz can utilize this power to search for hidden items, strengthen weapons, open doors and create walkways using Force Scan. Force is gained along with Experience Points at the end of each battle.

The Hexyz characters also wield special weapons bestowed upon them by the divinities they embody. These weapons, Ragnafacts, can be strengthened by infusing them with Force, enhancing three developmental properties. Each Ragnafact can learn a wide variety of combat, healing, and support actions. These are automatically designated as you infuse more and more Force into them. Of course, the tougher the enemies you fight, the more Force you will obtain. At times, not all characters in your party will have Ragnafacts, either because you haven’t located them yet or that particular character cannot wield them.

Additional weapons and accessories are created by combining various materials, sometimes with a dash of Force for good measure. These materials are collected by enemy drops after battles, looting chests and finding Harvest spots. From the Fusion option in the menu, you can create Forcefacts (disposable weapons with limited durability), accessories to protect your characters from head to toe, and special materials used for making stronger items.

Cecilia uses her Ragnafact's healing power in battle

Cecilia uses her Ragnafact’s healing powers in battle

Hexyz Force utilizes a turn based battle system, featuring Force Burst as a special technique for the Hexyz you control. When equipped with a Ragnafact that has a strong bond with your Hexyz these Force Burst abilities are accessible. In order to use them, the Burst Gauge must have reached the minimum level required, ranging from Level 1 to 3 (the max), which slowly fills as you attack or take damage in battle.

Upon completing each Phase (aka-Chapter) of the game, Creation and Destruction points will flow into the scales of the Holy Vessel. Your actions during each Phase are tallied up and will add to the weight on both sides of the scale. Completing side quests and selecting the correct dialogue responses during conversations are a part of the scoring. General rule of thumb – the first response leans to Destruction, the middle for neutral, and the last response adds points to Creation.

Hexyz Force features several fully voiced over anime cut scenes, as well as an intriguing story filled with informative and entertaining dialogue. Everyone knows that a good roleplaying game needs a solid storyline and engaging characters, which Hexyz Force truly brings to the table. They also did an amazing job ensuring that both stories meld together harmoniously, with no discrepancies between the two that I have encountered thus far. I find myself so easily lost in the story that my PSP battery dies often. There hasn’t been a PSP title that has had that affect on me in a while, and it was an absolute delight to spend so much time with a fresh roleplaying game.

Rafael admonishes Cecilia for acting impetuously

Overall Opinion

This is definitely a game hardcore JRPG gamers will want to invest the time and money into, as well as gamers looking for a great new RPG title for the PSP library. With two stories to play through and several sidequests and areas to explore for rare items, you are easily getting at least 50 hours of game time out of Hexyz Force. Aside from the usual repetitive battle cries from the characters, the overall voice cast is pretty decent. However there are a few characters who are a bit too over the top for me. There almost always seems to be one or two of those in dubbed games. If space had allowed, I would have liked seeing the Japanese audio track with subtitles as an option, but this is a PSP title, so space is limited. For $30 US you can’t go wrong with putting Hexyz Force beside Lunar and Persona on your PSP game shelf.

You can purchase Hexyz Force on UMD or a digital download code from Amazon now

Review product (code) was provided by Atlus and does not affect the outcome of this review.

June 4, 2010

3D Dot Game Heroes

Filed under: Playstation — Tags: , , , , — Yukino @ 12:13 AM

Purchase 3D Dot Game Heroes now from Amazon

(Playing a trade copy of the game which does not have trophies enabled.)

There is a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That is definitely the case with 3D Dot Game Heroes as it pays its respects to the classic 2D role playing masterpieces that shaped so many gamers of my generation.

3D Dot Game Heroes is a brilliant adventure game styled after the most famous 2D adventure RPG of all time: Legend of Zelda. A tale of a reluctant hero summoned by the King to retrieve six magical orbs and defeat an evil sorcerer, the only thing missing from this story is a princess in distress. Throw in a few dashes of humour, and a 3-D environment, and you have yourself an entertaining jaunt through the vast land of Dotnia.

After a brief cinematic where the King of Dotnia pleads with you to save the kingdom, you collect the Ancient Sword and begin your journey across the vast plains, forests and deserts of Dotnia. You’ll want to start out wandering the fields close to Dotnia and its neighbouring village in search of some coin to purchase a nifty shield and some other supplies, not to mention start a couple of side quests moving along. Now you are on your way to becoming a grade A hero.

Your destiny includes listening to smart-ass comments from old men in temples

I believe I wasted a good three or four hours traveling the countryside and talking with villagers, slashing up enemies and tufts of grass for coins in order to enhance my sword. While the basic sword is fine and you don’t have to upgrade or use any other sword, I felt that beefing up my sword was best for getting through the later temples. The extra length and width allowed me to move more quickly through rooms that I had been struggling in and dying too soon for my liking. Exploring the countryside early on proved a bit of a mistake as I soon found myself far off on pathways that I was not prepared for with no means to defend myself. Nothing like getting hit with projectiles and not having a shield to defend with.

Along the way you will acquire the rest of the weapons for your arsenal. It wouldn’t be right if this game didn’t include a boomerang, trusty bombs, and special foot gear. The boomerang is perfect for hitting those just out of reach red buttons. Hidden passages and caves can be discovered with a well-placed bomb in front of cracked walls or stones. Yes, there are even fairy caverns where you can replenish your health at no cost. My favourite cave is From Cave, where there are plenty of in-jokes regarding From Software’s games, including Demon’s Souls.

Now, I was never a big fan of Zelda games. Link never seemed to question why Princess Zelda was always getting herself in trouble. The top-down view of the original games just didn’t appeal to me. I even attempted to play one of the Nintendo 64 versions hoping that I would enjoy it, but it only took a few hours to remind me that I just cannot get into the Zelda groove. This may be due to the lack of proper direction that seems to plague me. 3D Dot Heroes suffers from the same lack of direction, or extremely vague directions, at various points throughout the game. Armed with nothing more than “head west” and a flashing marker on your world map, there are times when you just have to wander around and pray you are going in the right direction.

Once I got past that minor hurdle, the game progressed much more smoothly. Within a few short hours I had made my way through three caves, solved a couple puzzles, delivered mail (a fun little side quest that netted me another Life Shard) and even located a bow for long range attacks. All I needed was to get into a rhythm and I was flying through the main storyline. All told, the main quest doesn’t take too long to complete; a little over a dozen or so hours if you run through the basics. Dungeons can be revisited and new rooms discovered with coloured keys for added bonuses. You can also replay any of the bosses if you wish.

Dotnia’s #1 Mini-Game: Block Defense

In between temple and cave spelunking, there are oodles of side quests and some very addicting mini-games your hero can enjoy. Everyone needs to take a break once in a while, so why not do it playing a fun game and maybe pocket some free money or prizes in the process? My personal favourite is Blockout, a brick breaking game which you can find in Ortego Village on your way to the third temple. You can also put your fancy Dash Boots to use by running laps in Dash Circuit, where the goal is to complete three laps without bumping into obstacles which will slow you down. The third mini-game, very popular with Dotnians of all ages, is Block Defense and it plays exactly like you think it would. Like any tower defense game, you must build defenses along a path to stop oncoming waves of enemies from reaching and destroying your castle.

By far the best selling point of 3D Dot Game Heroes is the character creation tool. Hours can be lovingly wasted on building all sorts of people, animals, mecha and just plain random objects to become your avatar as you slay the beasts of Dotnia. Using the in-game tool or the online version, you can save your heroes to a USB stick and upload them to the Hall of Heroes. At the Hall, you can also browse through other submitted Heroes and download them to use in your own game. 3D Dot Game Heroes has a great community of creators Atlus is committed to nurturing and assisting it in any way that it can. Atlus has always been great to its fans, and this is just one more notch on their belt of awesome.

Bringing back the Pompadour

Overall Opinion

If you are looking to relive your gamer roots, give 3D Dot Game Heroes a spin in your PS3. Not only will you remember everything you loved and hated way back when, you’ll also get a good kick out of the several load screen images featuring all kinds of RPG game covers remade in 3D Dot style. Since the text is pretty limited in most cases and fairly easy to understand, you can introduce your kids to the sometimes frustratingly good, clean fun that was our childhood. And at $40 for a brand new copy, including all the things that were once DLC in Japan, 3D Dot Game Heroes won’t hurt your wallet too much.

Review product was provided by Atlus, and does not affect the outcome of this review.

Original First Look from GamingAngels (March 2010)

Once upon a time, in an 8-bit land not so very far away, the 8-bit people and their 8-bit pets, 8-bit grannies and 8-bit monsters came to the realization that 8-bit worlds didn’t have the market value they once did. The money stopped pouring in and life became pretty stagnant. It was around this time they sold their story to the fine creative minds at Atlus, at a reduced rate of course, and proclaimed that they would try this “3-D” craze all the kids have been talking about. (Plus, the King had seen James Cameron’s Avatar, and he knew that 3-D meant billion dollar sales, so he figured it couldn’t hurt.)

Coming May 2010 – 3D Dot Game Heroes: The Game

Dotnia is a land of many classic dungeons and colour coded keys. And swords. Like the giant one the greatest Hero of them all used to wield, until he stuck it into the ground. His sword was so great that it was nearly three times his size and could go through trees. No other sword can do that, just his uber special “yeah that’s not really a glitch” sword. And there are orbs. Because the people of Dotnia have seen countless fantasy movies at the 8-bit drive in and they know that magical orbs don’t get enough love these days.

Oh the humority!

So the King gets up from his throne and declares they are going to upgrade from a 3D 8-bit existence to a 3D one. Now everyone is excited. There is purpose again to their mundane lives. Something is going to happen! And you are chosen to be the new Hero. Aren’t you just happy?

Here we are in 2010 and we are talking about an 8-bit game that isn’t pre-1990s. Why? Because 8-bit games have universal appeal, they are fun and charming, and 3D Dot Heroes is probably the best flattery for the classic 2D action adventure genre that ever will be.

Everybody wants to play a game that is fun. 3D Dot Heroes has all the in-humour and basic yet not-so-basic familiarity of games such as Legend of Zelda or Castlevania way back in the day. From what I have seen via the live web demo I attended last week and through various clips online, I have determined that this game is going to have copious amounts of fun wrapped inside a candy coating of awesome. It’s up to you just how much fun you want to have. Journeying in seven expansive dungeons and exploring the vast lands of Dotnia will probably take about 15 hours for a basic start to finish with a bit of dabbling adventure. Increased difficulties can be unlocked for those who want more of a hardcore “I grew up in the 80s!” experience. (And for those of you out there, just because we grew up with these games in the 80s doesn’t mean they didn’t kick our bumbs back then.)

You can choose from one of three various alignments for your Hero – Royal Heir (balanced), Scholar (one of those nerdy book loving… I mean more magically inclined) or Hero (the slightly more I’m going to bash you with this club type). Instead of leveling up your character, all health and magic points are attached to your sword. So make sure you keep an eye out for red (healing) and green (magic) apples if you see you are about to die. And play smart! If you see a monster with a golden crown symbol over his head, that means he’s going to be a bit tougher than an ordinary one of his kind. Don’t think you can take him on? There is no shame in running from a battle if it means you will live to see another dungeon.

And how about mini-games? During the demo I was able to check out two of the three mini-games that are included at NO EXTRA CHARGE! Block Defense is a tower defense mini game in which you will try to stop the bad guys from getting to Point B from Point A, setting up towers (Ha!) along the way in hopes to kill them D-E-D dead. You can also use your custom made character to help if you want, or you can make your towers do all the work (boy, you really are a lazy Hero!). The second game Blockout challenges you to clear out all of the offending blocks in your way with just a few balls at your disposal.

Now, the Japanese were able to get an awesome version of 3D Dot Heroes a few months ago, which is cool and all, but they had to wait for some things to be released as download content and we North Americans don’t. Neener neener neener! There are bonus Block Defense levels that we get on the disc, as well as some added pre-made characters to choose from, the option to install the game to the PS3 hard drive (yes, I said “option”-you don’t have to, but the game will load faster if you do) and the best part of it all – the Loading Screen Gallery.

I could spend hours just watching the Loading Screen Gallery. Our 8-bit inhabitants spent hours posing themselves against white backdrops to look like our favourite game box art just to get our attention. Part of the fun is trying to guess them all.

So what do the people of Dotnia ask in return for all the awesome fun they are bundling up for us?

$39.99 US

Yup, for all that stuff I talked about and the epic in-game soundtrack that I am mentioning now, $39.99 will buy you a ginormous good time. There will be several hours of creating amazing characters that you can save to USB and share online with friends and strangers, all of which will be supported by Atlus. Can’t forget about all those cool trophies you’ll want to collect, which will mean more than one play through, not like you won’t play it over and over again to see if you can find all the swords and easter eggs without cheating. You also get a handy camera option, so you can take snapshots of your character taking down hordes of beasts and then use that as a desktop or PS3 background and brag to your friends or impress that boy/girl in your life with your “skillz”.

If you start saving 20 cents a day right now, you will be able to buy 3D Dot Game Heroes on May 11th and bring some financial stability back to Dotnia. What are you waiting for? Check your couches, your car and your linty pockets and pre-order it now!

(No editors were harmed during the writing of this article, however you are urged have a tall latte instead of a grande one and use that 20 cents you save everyday to help the Dotnians clothe and feed their pet dragons. And if you do that, they just might let Yukino out of the Flame Temple. It’s pretty hot in here. There’s fire in the Flame Temple, you know.)

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