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July 11th, 2014
My Final Fantasy Second Chance writeup is going to come next week. In the meantime, we've got the first part of a massive letter from the King of Content.

Anyway, let's get right to it, Demon Gaze refuses to end...

- Michael "Wheels" Apps

This Edition's Contents:


Alright then, Mr. Glow Wheels.  You're bowing out of this role soon, so I'd better make sure you have one more massive dose of content to keep the switchover from seeming too easy!  Here we go!

Let's start... actually with something you love.  Put Bruce Willis into an RPG!

Wheels' Comment

An RPG sequel to that terrible Bruce Willis game from Activision, Apocalypse. Titled Apocalypse Gaiden. Like the legendary Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden it will have little to do with the previous game and be completely awesome. Just think of the possibilities! It could be some sort of strange Fallout-type game only with lots of Bruce Willis.

I feel a further examination of this thing called Idea Factory is warranted.  I'm not deliberately trying to stir up your blood pressure, nor do I want to give myself an aneurysm, so let's keep the talk about certain titles to a minimum.  We've already said enough on them anyway.  Though I think noting that this developer was started in October 1994 is very useful information, in that it conveys how long these people have been around.

I have not played anything in the surprisingly large Spectral Force series.  I understand one of the DS titles was never reviewed on our site due to its overwhelming ineptitude.  Anything to contribute?

Wheels' Comment

1994? You have to be kidding me. Idea Factory has been around since 1994? How have they not been able to improve their development methods in all that time?

I don't have anything to contribute as far as Spectral Force goes. I think a few of the titles in the series that were localized had okay receptions. That's about all I can say on the matter.

Now on the subject of Chaos Wars I actually have some thoughts.  After all, a game that resurrects certain characters from Shadow Hearts (even if the localization is the stuff of legend) and is ostensibly tactical might be worth a look.

Wheels' Comment

Might be worth a look? Is this a joke? I don't believe I just read those words. Let's see if they're words you regret.

Or so I would have said until I tried a certain game and learned firsthand what Idea Factory does.  This just seems like something that slipped through the cracks though, from its legendarily terrible voice acting to it coming across the Pacific from a company no one had ever heard of that did no advertising and then wondered why its sales receipts weren't stunning.  Maybe - maybe - I'll play it someday after the pain from my earlier encounter with the company has had a chance to fade.  What are your thoughts?

Wheels' Comment

I would avoid it like the plague? I've heard some good things in the past, other than the obvious localization woes, so there may be a decent enough game hidden in there. There are tons of great tactical RPGs out there though, so is it really worth spending time on? Even with characters from Shadow Hearts?

All I know from a distance, given that I haven't played it or investigated playing it, is that Cross Edge gave our mutual acquaintance Mr. Willis a horrible time a number of years ago.  Can you elaborate upon the thing?  Also, can you offer a reason for why Wikipedia doesn't list that game on its Idea Factory page even when the game's own page clearly states its developer?

Wheels' Comment

Oh Cross Edge. What a steaming pile of dung. I can't elaborate too much, as I don't think I played as much as Phil. I can describe it as trying to play like Valkyrie Profile and failing miserably, with a terrible crossover story and heaps of technical issues piled on top. Avoid at all costs.

Trinity Universe doesn't even prompt that much of a reaction from me, though I certainly haven't heard that it's good.   What do you know of the subject?

Rather than go through the entire catalog of the company, let's close with a unique question.  Assuming this site suddenly offered monetary compensation, what would your demand for reviewing the follow-up to your own experience with Idea Factory be?

Wheels' Comment

I've never played Trinity Universe, but I have heard that it is far less terrible than Cross Edge.

I would require $100 an hour to review Mugen Souls Z, or some kind of awesome swag. I can always be swayed by awesome swag especially relating to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.

Let's try another easy one (I think)... make a James Bond RPG!  No, not James Pond, since I never played those even if the title caught my eye in old Gamepro issues.

Wheels' Comment

This one is actually really easy. Alpha Protocol showed the decent template for espionage RPGs. With a bit of polish to that and some James Bond flair it wouldn't take much to make a fantastic RPG. The only hard part, assuming you were given the power to choose, would be in choosing which Bond actor to base the game on.

Now that I've played through every Arc the Lad game (except the one on WonderSwan, since I don't have one of those) I might as well tell you about them!

Unless you want to do pretty much everything in the second game, you can skip the first.  Sure it's short.  It also has a wonky difficulty curve, a plot that will either make you laugh at the constant use of things that were already over-familiar in 1995 or just bore you, and some very nice sprite work.  The length is purported to be a positive by some, which is true: if the game was longer you'd have an opportunity to get sick of it.  Still, its tactical ideas are used better in the sequels.

Wheels' Comment

Yeah, I'm not too sure I really see the need to tackle the first, but at the very least it exists as a historical piece. Even when things aren't necessarily worth playing, best to have access to them anyway. This is more true of games with updated versions when you may want to see how the original plays.

Like the second game, which has an awful lot of stuff.  If you want to try capturing and cultivating monster soldiers, you'll have plenty of time to try it.  I did almost every job and tried to complete all that I could, winding up with something like 78 hours on the clock.  It uses that glorious Shining Force tactic of taking away half your money if the enemies beat you instead of a game over, which I appreciated after taking on a few optional jobs with only one character and winding up with very little money for awhile.  The story is a mix of the intriguing and some villains who might as well wear big neon signs that say I'm evil! given what they say and do.  The final boss is a time-consuming jerk, but by that point I wasn't about to let the fact that it was a 90 minute fight put me off too much.

Wheels' Comment

A 90 minute fight? That's cool, I've always been a fan of long boss battles. They do a better job of making you feel like you're taking part in an epic confrontation. Sounds like Arc the Lad II is the highlight of the whole collection by far (I skipped ahead to your opinion of three). It's a good thing that it can now be purchased individually on PSN so people don't have to track down the whole pricey collection.

The third game?  I like the mission structure.  It let me see a bunch of goofy things like a family full of would-be merchants who keep dosing your characters with bad things - like something that's supposed to make them stronger, but has such a strong reaction that you can't use physical attacks in the battle that results.  The visuals are a rare use of sprites that aren't super-deformed yet are in good enough resolution that you can discern things they're doing - at least, I haven't seen many games like that.  Of course everything is a drab color though.... It's a fair bit easier than the first and second, though I enjoyed the sheer speed with which encounters play out.

Wheels' Comment

Sounds like a step back from two, but not bad by any means. I think that was the one that spanned two discs as well? Will be sure to go through that one at some point.

The fourth game (Twilight of the Spirits) is another good one.  A gridless tactical combat setup is interesting and fun to play with.  Having spells be recharged by spirit stones you actually can find from enemies, and being stuck with the same total of MP for the whole game, is interesting.  The plot is alternately interesting and hilarious (don't you think someone who just had wings, powerful enough to lift him off the ground and into the air, would be just a little crippled after they were torn out of his shoulders?) and the game deserves to be remembered better than it currently is.

Wheels' Comment

Yeah, there doesn't seem to be too much love for Twilight of the Spirits. This was actually the first Arc the Lad game I played and I found it to be quite good, especially for the conveniently cheap price I found it for. Just another example of fans rejecting any kind of change I guess? Oh well, this one doesn't have a digital release but I believe physical copies are still cheap.

The fifth game is where it all fell apart.  We know another tactical series that went action with poor results, don't we?  I guess one thing Sega never thought to force into those later titles was online functionality though, complete with not being able to pause.  At all.  Man, that's a wonderful feature to have in your action RPG, isn't it?  Let alone having a theoretically wide range of characters, but only being able to use Edda (the guy on the cover) in story missions.  Yeah, that's awesome.  Or only being able to dodge enemies if you have the camera zoomed in so far that you'll never see things right next to you.  Yeah, this game deserved its fate.  Too bad it killed the whole series out of spite.

Wheels' Comment

That's a shame, as it just looked like some kind of fan game where people could play as favorites from the series and such. Too bad it ended up putting a cap on the series completely. So that's another RPG property along with Wild Arms that Sony has done nothing with since the PS2 days. Wouldn't these things make for great additions to their slim Vita library?

 just started playing something called Squid Odyssey, which is a cute idea (bounce the cephalopods around the screen using the touch screen - or the controls, but this was made for iOS first) in tactical action.  Already I'm getting really ticked off that I can't tell where my little squiddy friends are going to go though.  That necessitates perfect aim, or else they might just get tossed off a cliff.  Which is bad.  The game lets you keep whatever you got from previous go-rounds in a level, but shouldn't a tactical game be better about showing you your path instead of letting you find out the hard way that your aim was just a smidgen off? 



Wheels' Comment

Certainly there should be a bit more in the way of aim control, but I suppose we can't expect too much from an iOS port. Sounds like they have a neat concept though, would love a more in-depth 3DS/Vita only version if this port does well. Going to have to give this a try.

Shadow Hearts

Shadow Hearts and SH: Covenant. These games need more attention.


Wheels' Comment

I suppose they may be hurt somewhat by being PS2 RPGs, as that system has an incredibly deep library. That said, I see them talked about a lot, especially any time an unappreciated RPG list comes up. I don't think they're completely lacking in attention. I've yet to play them myself of course. I think you'll find plenty of support for the games on RPGamer. You should check out the relevant episode of RPG Backtrack as well! Add them to the list of Konami RPGs in need of releases.

Top Tweets

Wheels' Comment

Anyone that follows on twitter will know that you already bought both, but I felt it necessary to discuss this a bit more anyway. Both Etrian Odyssey IV and Etrian Odyssey Untold are great starting points for the series, so really either is a good choice.  IV has a bit more variety to it thanks to the balloon travel and various side dungeons and objectives. Untold has two completely different ways to play, both of which use a more straightforward dungeon that is a fine update of the original game in the series. The good news is both have demos as well, so it is easy to try them and see which is more your fit. Etrian Odyssey is really the best first-person dungeon crawling series out there, so I can't recommend them enough.

Hot Topics

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  • Dragon Quest :(
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See you next week!

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