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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Arcana Heart - Review

This is a fighter published by Atlus. Featuring only girl characters, it may trouble those that are "machismotically" challenged (Derivation: see Machismo). It seems like a typical fighter where one takes Melty Blood, and a key character from every fighter and combines it into one game. So what makes this special?

For one thing, the art is beautiful. It looks to be more sprites with higher quality rendering which always works well. Initiating "canceling" maneuvers requires a single button press (really. There's a specific button designated for canceling). No more pushing 2-3 buttons at the same time or moving your thumb or fore finger in an awkward position to hit that special combo that allows canceling. It's not just "super canceling" (special moves that allow hypercombo/desparation/super moves to be used during the middle of an animation) it's canceling for everything, including supers. Meaning, you not only have a delay cutting button, but that button can be used to fake out your opponent.

The character system is unique. There are 11 characters and 11 arcana. Arcana are magical beings that lend powers to the characters, so most "elemental" attacks are the arcana's doing. Now generally, the game itself is set so that [story wise and beginner gameplay wise] one arcana works well in conjunction with its respective character. However, you can choose a character and then choose ANY of the other 10 arcana if you wish. Meaning: There are technically 121 different combinations to choose from in terms of characters. Do some characters not work well with an arcana? Of COURSE. Arcana suited for close range, speed boosts won't work for long-mid range fighters who have few combos that allow decent chaining. Like wise, long range boost arcana don't work well with short range characters. But characters and arcana have separate move sets meaning that the character that you choose has her own abilities and then has the arcana's move list added on. It's truly and interesting way to play and gives you more choice or freedom to fight the way you like.

Stages are HUGE! When I was reading the back of the box, I thought, oh higher ceilings probably means a somewhat larger stage for air fighting. I was wrong. If you knock your opponent into the air well enough, the camera ZOOMS OUT to accommodate the fighting spiraling into the air, just to show you exactly how large the distance is from your character to the opponent's. Yes, there is a top of the screen, but by then you're still gaping at how small your character is in comparison to the backdrop...

Note to self: Edit this post and add screenshots...

There's AIR FIGHTING! No wall fighting yet, but it'll come soon in some game. Some characters can double jump and all can air dash. Some can even jump-dash then double jump, and then certain arcana give the characters the ability to triple jump and double air dash (I've pulled off a triple air dash but that took some time. Take that Chun-Li and Millia Rage). The cancel button also serves as a homing ability for your character so that it actually hurls your character towards the enemy. What does this mean? If you have two experts playing, and one has the chance to knock the other up into the air, and the other recovers... You can get up to a good 20 seconds of just pure air fighting if they home in on each other correctly and exploit the correct arcana. When I started air fighting the CPU, I stopped caring that I was losing.

Complex cancel moves and incredible chaining for combos. Max combo can go over 99 hits and the game will follow (101...102...104...110). If you haven't played Melty Blood, I don't really blame you, but Melty Blood is a game well known among hardcore fans as being one of the cheapest (yet most fun) game in fighter history. Melty Blood was especially known for being able to air combo your opponent to death. Think I'm lying? Just search any videos of it and record your jaw dropping as that reaction is always fun to watch. If Melty Blood was bad, then Arcana Heart must be the devil. There's so much potential that I have yet to unlock that it may take me a while to fully understand every character...

Complicated damage system allows longer battles and more precise damage measurements. Unless you're a hardcore fighter, it's possible to never notice this, but to those that are here are some stats to giggle like a girl at:
1. Max Hp is somewhere in the ten thousands. (I'm guessing around 24k)
2. Damage is dealt from the hundreds to the then thousands. (It's not just 100, 120. I'm talking about 524...628)
3. Damage penalties give a chance for the other guy to recover from near death. Like some fighters, the more hits you deal the less you deal in terms of % of the damage you dealt that hit. Meaning, it'll start from 100 and slowly drop. I believe they call those diminishing returns but I'm not sure.
4. Some arcana have stat boosters which change up the stats of the fighters and can counter instakill combos. There are some arcana that increase atk and some increase def. Then there are passive abilities that each arcana has which could change up how the damage is dealt.

There are some bad things about it. First off, the AI. It's too hard. I"m having issues beating the story mode with one character on the easiest difficulty setting. No joke. I'm not some newbie either, I'd like to consider myself a fairly decent player of fighter games that know a decent amount of the tricks of the trade. The AI is brutal, I think the only thing the difficulty setting changes is the damage you deal and receive, and a FEW AI tweaks (as in, the AI doesn't bash your head in once the round starts, it waits for you to try to attack, then bashes your head in). Not only is it a defense freak, but it's skilled in countering everything. Button mashers will be hit hardest since the game seems to recognize when a button masher is playing. The algorithms suddenly change and the CPU goes on the offensive avoiding random attacks and successfully wrapping around your character, knocking you into the air from behind and then finishing you off with a super move. I got to the final boss before I realized she was tougher than Onslaught from Marvel VS. Capcom.

There are sound issues... or rather volume control issues in the sound. The codec for voices seems to have been really shoddy as I can hear a bit of that fuzziness due to a poor codec and certain sound effects are just much too loud. There's this skater who makes really loud "clashing" sounds as her wheels hit the ground and it's just about 3 to 4 times louder than the rest of the game. There's another girl who drags a really large sword around and the "clank" from her dropping the sword on the ground (every time she jumps or finishes an attack) is ear shattering. What's more is that it seems that it's the sounds that seem to be used most often that are amplified to the point of annoyance (hint: Dash-jump-air dashing has ALWAYS been faster than running...). I don't really have an issue with the music, but I would've preferred a bit more variety and the opening for the PS2 version deserves to have not been recorded. Honestly, I don't mind the opening song, but when you add a semi-poor, nasally J-pop singer into the mix, it leaves a bad aftertaste.

I don't know if it's necessarily bad or not, but some characters are more or less direct rips from other games. There's this one girl whose move list has the ridiculous 360 spin things that Zangief has. Interestingly enough, she does a similar [the same] move leaving me, not using her that often. Heart fights like Sakura from Street Fighter and Yuri from KoF combined.

I'm a fan of fighters and this game is still high on my list. The sound does get annoying to some level, but considering the amount of work in a very clean gameplay, sometimes, it's hard to be angry. Air fighting will always be cool. Considering that you can also switch modes from the first to the second revision and fight from either one, it's a good buy. Maybe someone can tell me how to beat that final boss. Forcing it to block only works partially before she uses a super that doesn't use up the gauge....or maybe it does, but then it's an all screen attack...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Grandia Xtreme[ly bad]

Having played Grandia II for the Dreamcast (and later for the PS2) and LOVING it, I've followed the Grandia series for some time (and by that I mean, for the two other games and attempted to get into the Grandia Online beta test), I've recently picked up Grandia Xtreme (having HATED Grandia III) only to find it completely half-assed and absolutely horrible. Let's make a quick comparison.

Grandia II
Storyline = Not too bad, a bit generic but thought out and works very well later on. First thing I noticed was that Ryudo (the main character) starts at lvl 10 while the Elena, the priestesss that Ryudo escorts, starts at 1. It was interesting as it actually fit the storyline. Ryudo was actually more experienced starting off as that was his job.

Gameplay = Being part of the Grandia series, the battles were the coolest system ever. Screw ATB

Characters = Also a bit generic, but after you know them, they get really interesting.

Voice Acting = Surprising. Some parts were sketchy, but the voice acting was actually good.

Graphics = Sketchy. It's not BAD persay, but it's not that great.

Grandia Xtreme
Storyline = So close to II that it kinda made me die a bit inside. It was as if Game Arts had a meeting and said, okay... what if Ryudo went down a different path when he grew up?

Gameplay = Apparently something was supposed to be cleaned up. I don't see it. Team attacks are actually more of a nuisance than an addition. It's useful to have a high damage move but it's also troublesome to use two characters when I need to have all four to manipulate the monsters as well as possible. Most noticeable thing was that the IP gauge went from horizontal bar to circle which was then implemented in Grandia III. If anything, I think the skills actually look WORSE than they did in Grandia II. I'm comparing the skills and all my favorite early on skills look nerfed. All my favorite "super" skills look meh. At least the cinematic cut scenes in Grandia II looked really really cool.

Characters = I saw this coming. The handful of characters are "Meh." All of them look like they were ripped from ethnic stereotypes and slapped on. Theres this one character that looks aged, wears lots of fur and speaks in an obscenely archaic tone regarding nature... While some other girl from the same tribe speaks perfectly normally but is [supposed] to be really jumpy and hyperactive. I'll get to that supposed to thing later.

Voice Acting = I'll get to that later.

Graphics = Improved. Looks definitely cleaner.

What makes this game really bad?

The story, voice acting, and general progression of the game.
The storyline is so shallow that it's hard NOT to see what happens next. An "evil" looking soldier sends Evann (not a typo) on a bunch of quests for "world peace" with a handful of other people from different tribes. Evann doesn't trust him since the guy has been an "evil" person since childhood. But Evann's commanding officer (that Evann at some point comes to good terms with even though he only talks to her when receiving an assignment that he accepts despite being brought there against his will...) goes on to be that naive attitude believing that he really is for peace. 'Lo and behold! He betrays the army for his own personal gain to summon the greatest being ever... Sound familiar? Perhaps like EVERY OTHER GAME in existence? Probably because it is. All the plottwists are typical and there's really nothing unique about it.

Now for the Voice Acting.... Dear god. They're all atrocious. Yes, EVERY one of them are so bad I've actually stopped playing this game. First, let me just note that all these voice actors are following the text. By that, I'm not referring to what the lines say (though, the script is just as bad) but the pauses are so awkward and the actors pause when the text does (it's not lag, it's actually like that). The emphasis on words are awkwardly misplaced that I want to punch each of them in the face and the tones many many times are so flat they make TV screens look rugged. Please, continue to just read off the card for the first time and record. It sounds AMAZING... When you play the game, you then get a different impression of the characters when they're not voiced and when they are which makes you wonder if they all suffer from bi-polar disorders. Either that or they're all offspring of William Shatner... They can't even sound angry. There was this one part where an officer says "Shut up!" in a very firm tone that sounded decent but then went on a monologue that shattered all my hopes of believing there was potential in this game.

Myam, that hyperactive girl I mentioned earlier, is one of my favorite characters text wise since she seems to have the most character but when she speaks... She sounds bored and sometimes unnecessarily serious. There's this one skill where she's really jumpy and and fires an arrow into the air only because she leans back too far and falls backward. What does the voice actor do? She makes her sound intent on firing an arrow and being diligent, which Myam isn't. To me, she's a dizzy character that makes her personality childish, but amusing as her looks and faces match it. Too bad her voice actor thinks she's indifferent and aloof.

Another character Vitto is supposed to be the youngest of the group and generally doesn't speak much. He has an annoying childish character about him (which I generally don't mind, though whiny ones still bother me, so it irritates me a bit?) that is represented well in text, horribly done in voice. You can clearly tell the voice actor spent no effort on this. Tones were supposed to be different but since the volume was still at much more reserved level than the others any yelling came out as an exaggerated statement, and it was OBVIOUS that some 40 year old was voicing this guy. My eye began to involuntarily twitch as a child-like character with child-like appearance had a voice that sounded older than the main character.

There's another character which is the villain's sidekick (some nerdy scientist) that sounds so airy, nasally, and inexperienced, I felt like throwing something at the TV each time he had to speak. Every voice I heard was more than just a groan, it was a downright "Ok, mute this mother..." I'm not exaggerating either. I've stood by some bad stuff before (I beat all of Grandia III, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Tales of the World) but this was intolerable.

It's not like I dropped this game after four minutes of playing. I got through about half of the game before finally deciding to burn it. I had hoped that if I just went passed the first leg and plot twist (Oh my god! This WASN'T for world peace?!) it would hopefully get better. Too bad I was disappointed. There was just more of "groan, how typical." The only thing that kept me playing Grandia III was how amazing every spell looked and how clean the graphics were. Oh, and how awesome the battle system was. Yes, that's actually what kept me playing that.

I don't care if you're a Grandia fan. Don't get this game. It's SOO bad. Even renting it isn't worth your time. Just be glad that someone else wasted the time to play it for you. Really.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mehmore-ee uhll Dei OuiiKend (Memorial Day Weekend)

Apparently, I'm going to Amishland, Pennsylvania (for a lack of knowledge regarding what city it is) simply because my step family hasn't been there. So for the weekend, (or so my mom says, that's not happening though) we're going to be traveling, with the first stop being Amish town and then... well I don't know where. Regardless, this means that I can't post tomorrow (or can I?). I've got a good one planned for you guys.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

School Rumble Season 3 (Third Semester) trailer

Considering the trailer has been released now. I'm going to assume this will air mid-summer. I'm guessing late June to Mid-August

Getting my job at GameStop

In order to pay for my tuition at college, I've more or less decided to work the entire summer. I'm not going to some summer camp and so work would probably be the best deal for me. Technically, my school gives one of the best summer camp counselor wages, but I couldn't get in on that.

I decided to look around in terms of positions at GameStop (since they have their own unique system, cause they're just like that...) and came across this forum.

The stuff I read in that was absolutely hilarious.
I'll go over what some of them said but generally, most have said (in my own words) this:
"GameStop is filled with execs who only care about figures."

Excuse my language here but...
Well, no shit.

I'm not really sure what these people were expecting when deciding to work. How could they live in such a big bubble that they don't realize companies were made for money. Rather, is it that bad that they didn't even notice how GameStop (surprisingly) swallowed Electronics Boutique? GameStop was always like that, even before the "merger" so I don't really see how they expected anything else. Large companies get large numbers of employees that they can't really care about, besides, why would they put any value on store clerks, the most expendable part of the labor force? If you can prove yourself to be valuable, there's a better chance for climbing. How do I know this? My friend who worked at GameStop was a Store Manager, there were times when he was out of line, and he wasn't fired. Why? Because he was GOOD. It was because of him that the store he was managing held one of the highest profits in the district and was considered one of the best amongst local gamers even though he had one of the smallest spaces. All those who were serious gamers or fans came to that store and ignored the one 4 blocks away, which was literally next to the train station.

My other issue with this forum is that they seem to have issues separating their hobbies and their work. Here's a direct quote:
"'Hit the nail on the head. If you like video games and would like to continue liking video games, don't work at GameStop. I haven't been the same since i worked there as an ASM[Assistant Store Manager]. Something about unethically pushing subscriptions and reserves for numbers and betraying people who share your hobby just kind of strangles the kid inside you."

Well maybe you should learn to understand how business is done. To some extent, you have to keep a straight face and push those subscriptions, but that doesn't mean you should be a robot either. I get the weird feeling that these people decided to work ONLY because they liked games, and that they really had no idea what they were getting into. I don't have any sympathy for these people as they deserved it. You know that Store Manager I just mentioned? We spent over an hour discussing games and traded info about new ones. In fact, there's a handful of regulars who come into that store just to talk, so to have that kind of mindset while working means you screwed up bad when coming in.

Another idiot's post:
"Also if you do love games and consider it a hobby. Gamestop will change that for you and you will want nothing to do with them when you are working there. They do not care about their employees and only care about really unrealistic goals that will not be met. I mean listen to what I used to have to say CONSTANTLY on the phone everyday...
" Thanks for calling " " Gamestop where we buy and sell used games and where you can save $100 dollars on a PS3, how can I help you?" then you are basically REQUIRED to say really dumb things like... " Do you have an EDGE card? Oh you should get one, it's only 15 extra dollars for a magazine and 10% off used games.... blah blah blah" I mean next time you walk into a Gamestop take a look at the employees and how they are talking. My DM is the biggest dumb ass I ever met, corporate has NO trust in the employees and will never give it to you. All they do is look at numbers and nothing else.

not to mention your 6.50 an HOUR... HA"

That's your fault for thinking this would be a cakewalk. To come into work without any knowledge of the store's policy. I'd honestly like to know if there wasn't a large store that didn't have something the clerks were required to say. Large chains often have special cards that give discounts and others ask for coupons, so how is GameStop any different? Better yet, how did this guy not see that coming if he's a fan of video games? Did HE not listen to what they said?
I remember seeing a clerk standing at the door saying... excuse me, yelling "Welcome to GameStop, where we buy and sell used games, how can we help you today?" at every person. During a pause in the waves of people that came in, he and I had a good chat and we laughed at how he was required to say that to every person thereby annoying everyone else in the store.

Another friend of mine was scanning a game I was buying and as he handed me the bag he said, "Thank you for choosing GameStop to be your retailer." I stared at him and his attempt at straight face before we both started laughing and him following up with, "Sorry, I'm required to say that." Mind you, it's really weird to hear someone say that when you've known them to be a very lax person who's often very casual with you.

Now, what I don't get is how he actually CARES about saying that. I'd expect someone who's willing to work to get that into a habit, and really requiring little to no brain power. If there are people hung up on that, I really don't think I should take their opinion into consideration.

Of course there were two posts that I actually found useful but I'm not here to talk about the smart people, I like to laugh at the stupid ones.

Now as an overall question, I bet you're wondering as to why I, personally, would decide on GameStop. The store I'm applying to has a staff that I know, meaning that I won't have co-worker issues. And out of the other stores I'm considering, GameStop looks like the best. Yes, I'll probably end up dealing with a few parents who don't know jack, but it could be worse...

Like Stop&Shop for instance. Or any supermarket for that matter. Being a standing clerk and checking out and waiting for old ladies to pull out their coupon book? The interaction among coworkers is also atrocious and then there's the chance you could be put into... *shudder* Customer Service. Unless it is absolutely impossible for you to frown, Customer Service is the worst... job... ever. Dealing with returns is an abomination, or worse...

Starbucks. Honestly, the people who buy coffee from Starbucks are the worst customers on the face of the earth. When you're allowed to have a double espresso shot macchiato with half soy milk, half skim on a half caff regular in a venti hot chocolate... you know something's wrong. Better yet, why not deal with an entire swarm of these people everyday for 8 straight hours because coffee isn't just a morning/evening thing anymore. It's an all day thing. Apparently, you can never have enough caffeine. Really...

To top it all off, you're paid the same wage for all three stores. So, if you think about it that way... GameStop doesn't look so bad. No, there's no Wal-Mart around where I live, so I can't apply there. Apparently my town is too rich for Wal-Mart...


Officially, I'm out of High school. Last day of classes was last Thursday and Prom was last Friday. After-prom lasted 3 days...

I'm hoping I can assume that it's a legitimate excuse to as to why I didn't post. I just got back yesterday night and wasn't really expecting for after-prom to last so long. I don't think any of the other seniors did either. Regardless, I now have a system that I think I can follow.

For those of you who care, whenever I post at exactly 12:00 PM (GMT -5), you can expect that to be an automated one, any other time, you can assume I wrote it that day. (Well, technically, I wrote all of them, but only certain one's I've scheduled.)

I'm going out on a limb here. Personally, I'm running out of ideas. Rather, I still have a large load of ideas, but I continually reject them (a handful being on the grounds of "too old"). You can either click my avatar, or email me at for any requests. I know I don't have a large enough viewer base for this to work, but I'm trying.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Say Goodbye to G1, Hello to G2

I've spoken about Mabinogi before, and earlier, I mentioned about how it was still in it's early stages. I can't say that anymore.
Mabinogi is separated into "seasons" that the company/game refers to as "Generations." Each generation has a certain amount of content as well as a very well made storyline. I'm not sure if International Ragnarok Online has started, but KRO had a similar thing where there were special sets of quests that would be mainstream and affect the game and one's perception of it very greatly.

Think of it this way. Everything you've been doing are the like the side-quests. The Generation quests are the storyline quests. It requires for you to have paid for a premium service to access the mainstream quests, but you don't to pay monthly. Only during the times you want, so technically you can just "pay" during each new season. It's probably not the most effective way possible, but it is possible.
And so, I'll leave you with two videos. One that is reminiscent of the first generation, and the second celebrating the start of a new one.
(Yes, yes. Once more you'll get a slew of ambient music bothering you until I post more later)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

School Rumble - Review

I can't believe I never mentioned this show before. School Rumble is by far one of the best anime I have ever seen....ever. I'll get to the reasons in a moment. Right now, I have to do things systematically.

To put it loosely, School Rumble is about a high school girl named Tenma Tsukamoto who's in love with Ouji Karasuma. Then there's the typical biker delinquent Kenji Harima who's fallen for Tenma Tsukamoto. As both try to confess their loves to their respective crushes, things get in their way and begin to complicate matters on an exponential level.

To put it simply, this is a love story. A really funny one. It takes more or less everything you would know about a series like this and throws it out the window. You thought you knew Shounen or Shoujo genres? You were so wrong. Let me start off with the plot which sounds unusual. Typically, it's some form of love triangle mixed with comedy. Unfortunately, Karasuma's passion for curry renders him completely oblivious to Tenma's feelings for him (I can't make this up).

The storytelling is truly a work of art. It's a bit convoluted but is the best representation for that "If my high school life was a TV show" project (assuming you ever had such a project). Normally, these kinds of shows mainly focus on the main characters and have a handful of sub-par secondary characters that help the story move along. That doesn't happen in School Rumble. Not only do you get an entire class of character (like Mahou Sensei Negima for example) but nearly an entire grade and they all have a part. You see the all the archetypes but then you also see them warp into a necessary character for the show. They're not just some member of the general clutter of random people. You see everyone's personality and it doesn't require an episode to flesh it out. Just little bits from every episode help add to the personality of that character. Often you get some weird school where there's only like a few couples and because there are only a few couples they're the talk of the school. That doesn't happen. I remember reading this one review that said that keeping track of who has what relation with who made his head hurt. That was where I found beauty. School doesn't just revolve around a handful of people, it revolves around everyone and that's what this anime does. Some characters really couldn't care less about what happens to couple A. I remember wanting to show a few stand-alone episodes for my anime club but realized they all needed some form of background to understand. So I drew a flow chart. It was a mess.

There's Girl A and B who have a secret crush on Guy A, but he has an open crush with Girl C. Unfortunately, Guy B has a crush on Girl B who is the younger sister of Girl C and because of his general personality of being a serious, short-tempered person, he often mistook the relationship between Guy A and and Girl B when they worked together. Then there's Girl D who has a similar personality to Guy B and isn't true to herself about her feelings towards Guy B because of his aloof attitude towards her and the close professional relationship they have with each other in terms of being students of the same class... and on and on and on. What I found great was that it wasn't some shallow crush either and the viewer doesn't realize who has feelings for what until you see all the subtle changes in the personalities. That's amazing. It doesn't spoon feed you story but it also doesn't ask you to do any rocket science or force any illogical connections either. It's a blend that's really hard to find.

The comedy is equally amazing. It starts off with many typical scenarios and looks to be sub-par but then it surprises you. It doesn't take the turn you'd expect and instead goes completely awry. Some turns you didn't even know existed. Referring to that other review once again. There's a scene in which you have the class cleaning the pool, with soap and hose water. What does this often lead to? Fan service. Panty shots, wet shirts and a general glorification of the female body. What happens in School Rumble land? They somehow get into a hockey match involving bar soap and brooms.

The voice acting talent is just superb as well. Most anime in general feature only a very tiny amount of veteran actors who fill the roles of main characters. School Rumble? It's a gold mine of veteran actors and a slew of professional amateurs that embrace the stage. Just listening, it would be hard to believe some actors were given their first roles in School Rumble. Then there's all those one episode stand-in characters who are usually given to amateurs to break the ice. Even those are taken by veterans of the trade gracing your ears with more than just quality acting. It's a collaboration of talent to make a production amazing.

If you got to this point. I applaud you. I actually have more to say, but right now I'll answer that question that's in your mind. "Zerreth, all you've done so far is spew praise for this anime. I've read about (insert number here) of your reviews and you always found some fault in them. Is this the exception?" You're right. I did, and this is no exception. I don't think anything is perfect and so here goes.

If you think about it, the cost to do one episode must be outstanding. The thing is the production team leading this is Studio Comet. They're not bad, but they're not brimming with money like Kyoto Animation is, and so here's where the anime takes a hit. Generally, the art is clean and character designs are well done, but.... animation-wise, it's a bit disappointing. It's an odd combination really. If it was a voiced comic strip, it would look stunning, but once they start moving, the animation has many moments of spikes in quality. There's a lot of stills and cutting of corners where it's necessary. There's also a good deal of rendering which isn't properly blended and stands out significantly. It kind of feels like a let down knowing how much work went into the anime in general to see that the animation is the one that's hit hardest.

Occasionally, the story drags on a bit. It's not just filler per say, but it's one of those necessary evil episodes where technically nothing happens, but is there to reconfirm plot points. I personally don't mind these at all, but these are a certain type of "filler" and I know many who have an abhorrence to such a thing. One thing I do say however, is that quality doesn't drop with these episodes, so the high quality will be intact but it'll just be focused on... nothing.

Finally, what I feel to be one of the most important points and key part that makes me hesitate to recommend this is the phenomenal amount of the Japanese language, old Japanese culture and modern Japanese culture needed to fully understand the entire show very well. I took a gander at a quality fansubber's site and each episode had at least a page-two pages of side notes that they wrote down for those who weren't so savvy with the culture. Trust me. Being an avid watcher of anime won't be enough to understand everything. There are many points in which the anime uses puns and old sayings to add to humor and I know there will be many viewers who won't get it. The thing is, some of these very important comedic scenes are crucial for the next scenes and so one can easily be having problems understanding why something is happening or why there's an awkward silence following something witty.

Overall however, the good parts make the bad parts look like dust particles. I honestly believe that this is a work of genius and such a thing will be very hard to come by.

As a final note, there are two seasons along with a final third OVA that will be released. Interestingly enough, each season is referred to as a semester in the Japanese school calendar.

P.S. Haha! Check it out! I posted exactly at noon with this scheduler. This has made my day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Finally fixed that goddamn advertisement. Now you guys should see some variety. I know advertisements are are still advertisements, but at least they can be something related. Would you rather stare at a bunch of text referring to llama-sitting? I think not. (Though it would be amusing for the first two days or so)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tales of Symphonia: Knight of Ratatosk (Dawn of the New World) - Info

Don't know why they went out on a limb and changed the name drastically. Whatever. New Symphonia game. June 28 Japanese release, September 2008 US release, get it. There's a naked catgirl in it, go. Why is she there? Because it's a fetish that has existed in Japan for decades, next to the Gothic Lolitas....
Why aren't you using that time machine in your grandmother's basement yet?

In all seriousness however, this new tales game is actually a big deal. I'm not sure if the development team is the same from the Symphonia and Aybss team, but if it is, you can expect some really good, quality work. All but Kratos return in the new game and apparently even after 2 years, no one has changed in appearance, unless you count the increased saturation on one's clothes. Presea's got her feelings back (yay) which is all I care about really...

It's coming for the Wii and you can definitely expect this game to be very good. There hasn't been any word on whether or not Namco is going to use the same voice actors but I hope they do and they probably will. The japanese team did and they used a few of the same actors for Tales of the World, so hopefully we'll get some more high quality voice acting coupled with a game that has very good prospects.

Apparently, there's going to be a new system in which you can get monsters to be on your side (like Dragon Warrior Monsters). In total, you can have up to 10 characters in your party and 4 on the field. I haven't heard of any details on FoFs from Tales of the Abyss, but what Namco seems to be doing is a good strategy. They take a very effective battle system, and continue to improve it. I was a bit sad that Unison Attack wasn't in Tales of the Abyss, but I'm not really worried.

I wonder how they're going to incorporate the Wii mote. I'm probably going to just use a Wavebird but that seems to be defeating the entire purpose of the console...
Whatever, this will be another (among many) reasons to finally get that Wii. Me? I don't actually know. Disgaea 3 comes out on the PS3 but Tales of Symphonia comes out on the Wii... Decisions, decisions

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Scheduled Posts

May 1st update for Blog spot.
Apparently now I'm able to pre-write posts and then schedule them to be posted later on. This is great. This means that I can write whatever I'm thinking at the moment instead of copying and pasting and then ultimately losing what I was going to write while I was on a roll. I can just write whatever review I have and then schedule it.
It's like... anti-procrastination on a whole new level.

I have to say. From a scale of one to ten in ascending order of awesomeness this is probably one the best things to happen to blogspot.

Rondo of Swords

Funny thing that I would complete this faster that I would Baroque... Or FES for that matter. Then again, FES is pretty long (100+ Atlus says... including the first one)

To put it bluntly I would need to refer to something a friend of mine said:
"So basically, it's like drive-by Fire Emblem?"
I can't really break Rondo of Swords down into organized paragraphs now that I've done this, so sorry in advance.

Yes... Yes it is.
As a melee character, you have to use your stylus (or D-pad) to create a path with the available movement counters that you have which will go through an enemy(ies). This also works for your allies as if they run through each other, they can receive support boosts if the ally has it. It's a tactics RPG that utilizes an interesting way to fight. It would make more sense for the cavalier units but less sense for the footmen, unless your ideal game was to have everyone be some super assassin soldier that passes through enemies in that anime style slash (without the delayed death, as they're not all 1-hit kills). But with every Strategy RPG comes magic and bows. They're normal. You just move and then cast in place. Archers get to move and shoot but that's kinda minor. I have to say though, the pathfinding system does negate many strategies where you box in the weakest,yet strongest character making a mobile fortress(there are units with the ability to block movement, but that's a skill).

One thing to note is the AI, and the existence of one. In many other games it was very, very easy to exploit the AI by figuring the very simple algorithm that the developers have programmed.
IE: Fire Emblem enemies always aimed for the weakest character and rigged the critical "probability" system so that it would get lucky shots on healers in range. Disgaea had the enemy deal the most to those with the lowest HP numerically and used Area of Effect whenever possible. When the player's unit lvl passed a certain point beyond the enemies, they ditched the AI and just attacked normally.
In this, if the enemy ever gets into a tight corner, the game pauses. Not because it has to manage every unit, but because it has to manage every unit WELL. But first a footnote. Characters were all assigned a "Momentum Counter" or MC for short. This can be raised or lowered with various skills or raised by attacking/killing. The higher the MC, the more likely the enemy will go for that unit first.

Major things to note were that if there were units that the enemy could severely wound en route to the unit with the highest MC, it would, even if there was a slight detour involved. Meaning? You lag a unit, regardless of their MC, it will be targeted and killed first. If you leave a unit open to die, it WILL die. The computer will focus on removing major threats first as well. Threats involve (from highest priority) MC/HP-ATTK/MAG-MOV. If a healer's nearby, it will split up the gigantic mass of units to aim for the healer while going for the highest MC. The thing is, the MC priority isn't set in stone like the tutorial (which took me a good hour by the way). I noticed the computer "leans" toward the highest MC unit, but is definitely distracted by many other things. I LIKE THAT. You have to actually THINK in this game. You have to prioritize which units to kill first or else it'll come back to haunt you.
There's this one map I was playing where you were on the top right corner of the map and the unit to kill was in the bottom left. A river cut through the map from top left to bottom right, giving you two bridges to attack. So you go left and defeat the small squad of archers and knights or go south onto the wider bridge that is swarming with cavalier, mages, archers, and knights. I went west multiple times only to see my troops get pincered, and cut to pieces on the bridge. Formation is crucial and the enemy actually uses battlefield strategies. When a unit's HP falls below a certain percent they retreat to a larger mass of reinforcements.

In addition, it's never a case where your units can overpower your enemies units and wipe the map with one character (Except for Cotton, but even she has some restrictions). You have to choose your characters wisely and use all of them to get the best results. Of course there will be some that never see the light of day, but that's bound to happen.

The story is well done. It begins with what seems to be a typical Fire Emblem story but the twist comes in really early on. You play as the Crown Prince Serdic, who is escaping your kingdom of Bretvalde as the Grand Meir invades, or so you think. The truth is, you're playing not as Serdic, but his double. He has given you Spanta, the Holy Blade, for it is corrupt and it's your job as the double to to purify it. There's a slight problem. The real Crown Prince has been killed, and his double watched him die. No one else knows that the real prince died. Serdic's double is then forced to be the Crown Prince and restore Bretvalde. No one else knows, not even the Crown Prince's younger sister, Marie. So you play with the notion that at some point he will be exposed but when and how...

This game is difficult. It's not Hoshigami difficult but difficult enough to be FUN. It felt great that this was more or less on even playing field. All the enemies could do what you could do (except the archers, they didn't run and gun) and were capable of moves that exploited your weakness. There was effort put into this and it shows. What I enjoy is that there's usually a target, it's not just "defeat all enemies" and so how long the battle lasts is dependent how how well you can fight.