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May 9, 2014

Welcome to another edition of the mailbag! This week we have the final part of the King of Content's massive letter. I've been busy playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Demon Gaze so let's jump right in so I can get back to those!

- Michael "Wheels" Apps

This Edition's Contents:

Grand Space Emperor of Content Part 3

(Continued Agarest War talk from the previous week)

I'm going to be slightly constructive with my criticisms here by trying to highlight what it does wrong.  Here's the first thing: in an ostensibly tactical game, to just have your characters move to a spot the computer chooses for you when making a move is a stupid, boneheaded, asinine decision.  Why does this matter?  Oh, I don't know, maybe because it can disrupt the formation I had built (because your characters need to stay in their zones of effect in order to do things as you would like) without a hope of putting it back before the next turn?  Maybe because some moves affect an area, and not being able to choose something like the square which is the epicenter of an attack on a gigantic thing that takes up 9 whole squares is a dumb idea?  Maybe because once you've found a stratagem that works there is no reason to change it ever, unless the enemies get faster (which they of course do) so you might want to act with a character sooner to avoid taking a beating?  Naw, it couldn't be things like that.  Maybe because every environment is exactly the same with no geographical effects or terrain conditions to take into account, so things get boring way too fast?  Nah!  That's value for your money!

Wheels' Comment

So sounds like Agarest is your game of the year?

Maybe I can slam the inventory requirements.  Now, I don't remember if I addressed this topic with you, so a little explanation is required.  The starting inventory of the shops is pathetic.  How to get more?  Easy!  Kill every enemy and make sure you get its special drops, often by means of overkilling things because they drop something different that way (and isn't it great to have to try doing that on every enemy?  If you said no, you're obviously not on Idea Factory's QA team!).  Take this stuff to the blacksmith.  If you've got the right stuff, he'll be able to craft new things.  Some of those (the less-useful as the game progresses, naturally) get added into the shop inventory for additional purchase.  And you'd better get more, because just about all of them serve as component parts for more equipment that's yet to be created!  What, you don't like holding onto some of every item in the game?  Ha ha ha ha, what's the matter with you? 

Wheels' Comment

This sounds like the best game ever! I mean think of all that grinding. That's what I call replay value!

Oh, but here's the great part!  Guess what happens if you forgot to overkill every enemy enough times to be sure you got enough parts?  Certain items become inaccessible!  These items are, naturally, components for further things along the chain!  Isn't that great?  Knowing that because you didn't feel like spending twice the turns in the early game making sure things were really really dead, you can't even come close to filling out the equipment roster?  It's awesome, isn't it???  Especially since the generational system means there's no going back!

Wheels' Comment

Man whatever, the later generations sound like moochers, they should be able to get their own components!

I think i dumped on the story enough last time, but in the very late going the writers hilariously try to have Dyshana (the blank-faced inhuman female of some kind who got the whole thing started) suddenly get a personality.  This equates to her interviewing all the characters about why they've stuck around this long.  Not that the characters have anything more substantive than the more tired statements on 'it's the right thing to do' or 'I feel good with these people' to say in response, but Dyshana never said anything on this subject until the fifth generation takes place.  Good writers understand that subjects cannot be left fallow until the very end of the game.  Idea Factory's writers may have many things said about them, but the adjectives I would employ do not include 'good.'

Wheels' Comment

Idea Factory has writers?

Subject change again!  A few weeks ago my friend had the idea that I could watch him play some Dark Souls II.  Turned out to be quite an informative evening, and I even helped out a few times by pointing out some things in the area that he hadn't yet seen.  I got to see the game in action, and now I understand a fair amount more regarding this series.  It was the day after the game had come out so his progress wasn't too great, but he managed to accrue enough souls to go up several levels.  I learned that the wild pigs hiding behind a house in those dwellings near the exposition-spouting woman take a lot of effort to kill.  I learned that lots of people playing the game had tried to jump off cliffs successfully.  I learned there's a big monster spitting fire in some cave that my friend didn't feel up to tackling yet.  So now your forthcoming review interests me a bit.

Wheels' Comment

Well, that review is up, and I'll just leave this here for you to peruse.

I have now experienced a great deal of what Fallout 2 has to offer.  It's a whole lot of fun, frankly.  The opening does suck, and I have to tell you that in case you try it (which you should).  Once I started to learn the joys of targeting enemies in battle it got to be a big gas though.  See, by expending one more action point than normal, you can hit with a targeted shot at a certain part of the anatomy.  Best thing is to go for the eyes, as criticals happen a lot there and do massive damage if they don't just make the enemy's head blow up and kill it that way. 

Then there's getting experience from things other than fighting, like getting the part to repair a nuclear reactor or revealing that the thing a guy is charging people to see isn't a mummy but a ghoul who takes VERY heavy naps.  This game is worth experiencing, although Steam doesn't have it anymore.  Too bad.

I haven't played Fallout 3 or New Vegas, though I have heard mostly good things about them.  What say you?

Wheels' Comment

Fallout 2 is an absolute classic which I haven't played nearly enough of. I think I should fix that. Doesn't take long playing it to realize why many still love it. That combat is a lot of fun.

The newer Fallout games are fantastic, and I've found them to be far better than other Bethesda releases like Skyrim. I highly recommend starting with New Vegas, which is developed by Obsidian (which has some of the staff of the original two games). That one is a lot better as far as story and world go.

Let's try another association... link Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) with Albert Odyssey on SFC!

Another Agarest is coming to Steam, meaning people bought the first one in large quantities.  Mugen Souls Z is crossing the ocean imminently (or it already did, I forget right now).  Idea Factory's stockholders must be happy people.  How does this make you feel?

Wheels' Comment

Hey, HEY! No more connection challenges. I can take any more digging through IMBD!

Not very good actually. I think I've heard their visual novels are decent (maybe since less programming is required?) but absolutely every game developed by Idea Factory that I've tried has been an utter mess. Mugen Souls had all sorts of loading issues and game mechanics that just didn't seem to make much sense. Meanwhile we're missing out on lots of much better JRPGs. I can only hope that their apparent increased popularity leads to hiring some more developers. I will say that Sorcery Saga is a pretty decent roguelike, hindered by way too much terrible story.

Extensive experience with the first and second Arc the Lad games has made me unhappy that save points were so scarce in many games of the mid 90s.  I also find the inventory system horribly constraining - with 11 human characters not counting monsters, having 99 items for a limit is really bothersome.  It's a fun game though (speaking of the second in particular, as the first feels like a launch RPG in many respects), and I'm glad Working Designs brought it over.  Oddly, item descriptions in the text are often so sparse as to be nearly useless, though I suspect that stems from the original game.  WD could be weird when it came to keeping annoying aspects in titles though. 

Wheels' Comment

Yeah, on the whole another great little gem for them to bring over. I am glad the various games in the collection are available on PSN. Working Designs games are way too expensive as I'm sure you know. I hope the Lunar games end up on PSN as well at some point.

I don't think I mentioned One Piece: Romance Dawn to you, did I?  Since my review of it produced almost no interest, I think it's warranted.

Now.  Understand that this is a licensed game in the respect that if you aren't familiar with the source material, I really can't see it becoming a new favorite.  Certainly not based on this game's presentation.  The art of One Piece is goofy and kinetic, so of course this game doles out static images with character portraits that don't have many variants, then dumps exposition in huge text piles that make things appear boring.  Told this way, the story is indeed boring.  If you had any interest in the series, I recommend the manga.  I've enjoyed it for years and continue to do so.  Go for the anime if you want, but I just prefer manga these days because I can control the pace with which I read and don't have to put up with blatant filler to stretch the budget. 

As for the game sans story, it has a fun combat system.  Its environments are dull and feel randomly generated even when they aren't, the thing actually crashed multiple times on me and forced me to reload from the 3DS main menu, the inventory system is awful, and it skips huge chunks of the extant story just because... um... I'm sure there was a reason.  Too damn bad, isn't it?  The appeal of playing characters I know well would be lost on you also, so I can't recommend it for many people.

Wheels' Comment

I have no One Piece experience despite having the anime recommended to me. Shame that licensed games are so often mediocre. I know it's easy to get people to just buy these things, but they do often sell better when they're actually really good. Just look a Goldeneye, and Kingdom Hearts. Come on developers!

Um - Bravely Default!  Job system rocks!  Game takes too long to finish!  It does something awesome though - if you get impatient and decide to go for the worse ending (as anyone who's gone through chapters 5-8 probably understands), the game allows you to go back to before you embarked upon that path while keeping all the proceeds you got along the way!  Isn't that a good thing?

Wheels' Comment

That is a nice touch, which more games should do to make it easier to enjoy all endings. As much as I enjoy Bravely Default I'm not sure I'll care too much about getting the best ending as I don't care at all about the story. Then again I suppose more of that combat wouldn't be bad?

Man, A Link Between Worlds deserves to be experienced by everyone who enjoyed A Link to the Past  I hadn't seriously taken the plunge into this series for years, but it managed to remind me of how much I enjoyed the one SNES game without being a carbon copy.

Do you have enough content for a huge column?  I think you do by now!  Enjoy!

Wheels' Comment

A Link Between Worlds is an absolute masterpiece. I was shocked! At first glace it just looks like a Link to the Past rehash, but once you did in to it you find all the clever and smart ways it reworks the classic. Absolutely one of the best 2D Zelda games in the whole series. Can't recommend it enough to people.

Anyway, thank you for three mailbags worth of content!


I'm sure you'll change your mind after playing the first 50 hours of Mugen Souls Z. Have fun :P


Wheels' Comment

Daniel Bryan NO
I'm afraid I've got some bad news

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Wheels' Comment

Mr. Cunningham has taught us all a valuable lesson folks: always be sure to confirm what game a PSN code is actually for before finishing redemption.

Jim, you couldn't have picked a better time to jump into the Shin Megami Tensei series. The majority of the series is now easy to get and quite affordable. Heck, you can even experience the original in English on iOS now. Enjoy Nocturne and enjoy digging into the rest of the series!

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See you next week!

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