Bravely Second : End Layer

Date Completed : November 9th, 2018

Bravely Second is the sequel to Bravely Default, the game that almost certainly is responsible for triggering tendinitis in my wrist and making me realize that I am now old.  It’s hard to remember what I was thinking when I decided to subject myself to that again but I somehow ended up with a pre-order of the collectors edition which I accidentally paid for and brought home so I suppose I felt that I probably had to put the time into it at that point.

The game has been out since 2016 so it took me quite a long time to get through it.  I wanted to finish the demo first and I took several long breaks while playing the game.  I had set the difficulty of the game to ‘Hard’ which turned out to be very difficult and I was always under-powered for whatever challenge was ahead of me.  I probably would have stayed more engaged if the game had been easier, but what’s the fun in winning?  Eventually I resorted to a ‘cheat’ to power-level my team to maximum and afterwards I had no issues staying motivated to play.

The game had some nice enhancements over the previous title and a lot of the same type of humor.  The story was pretty good, although I preferred the original.  I will say that I thought the entire ending sequence was fantastic and a lot of fun.  There were a lot of creative moments in this game and if you’re a RPG fan it’s worth the time.  Bravely Default has provided the kind of experience that Final Fantasy games used to provide back in the day.  I really hope they continue to make Bravely Default games although I’m not sure my wrists will survive many more titles!

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  100 hours
System: 3DS
Genre: RPG
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Golf Story

SQ_NSwitchDS_GolfStoryJune 16, 2018

When I was in college I owned Mario Golf for the Game Boy color and I really enjoyed it.  If you’re not familiar it combined RPG game elements with a Golf game.  One cool feature was the ability to take your character with you to the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Golf using the N64 Transfer Pack accessory.  I haven’t played many of the Mario Golf games since (with the exception of Mario Golf  : World Tour for the 3DS) but I was hoping that Golf Story would re-capture the enjoyment I had with Mario Golf for the Game Boy color.

As you might have surmised from the title Golf Story is a Golf game that incorporates a story element.  It also includes RPG elements and as you complete challenges (such as defeating an undead skeleton horde) you will level up your character and improve your stats.  The story is humorous and the golfing mechanic is everything you’d expect it to be.

I was very satisfied with this purchase and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys humor, RPGs and/or Golf games.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  13 hours
  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: RPG / Sports

Final Fantasy XV

Date Completed: January 25th, 2018

In my opinion the Final Fantasy series peaked during the Playstation One era and has been in a gradual decline since.  While I haven’t played XI or XIV (since they are online only) all of the main titles since X have been slightly inferior to the game immediately proceeding it.  I had decided long before FFXV was released that if it was not ‘good’ I would officially be hanging up my Final Fantasy hat.  So, did the game deliver?  Periodically my wife would walk in on me while I played and I’ll let her statements speak for the quality of the game.

“All I’ve ever seen you do in that game is drive around in your car.”

“You’re fishing now! That’s new.”

“They look like a boy band from the 90’s”

“Is that a Cup of Noodles hat?  Final Fantasy has finally jumped the shark.”

Ready for Battle.

So the question that must be answered is “Was Final Fantasy XV ‘good’ enough?”  The answer is “It’s complicated”.

While playing the game I was constantly irritated by various aspects of the game that I thought were either boring or poorly executed.  Most of the game takes place in a vast open area that you traverse by driving around in your car.  You don’t have access to controlling the car at first but you can tell your driver where you want to go.  If you think a game where you watch other people drive is ‘fun’ you are clearly insane.  You do eventually gain control of the car yourself however it still mostly self-pilots and isn’t very much fun to drive.

I also found the combat system to be both boring and frustrating.  Combat is performed by holding down either the attack or the defense button.  While a button is held down combat is mostly automatic.  I rarely felt like I (the player) was necessary for success and that my role in battle could have been fulfilled by a strategically placed rubber-band.  The frustrating parts occurred when I’d encounter a critter that would kick my butt and I’d have to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I spent some time reading online about the combat system trying to find out if there was something I was missing (There wasn’t).  Usually the answer was ‘level up more, die less’.  Good advice I suppose.

Final Fantasy games are traditionally very story driven but I found the story to be….suboptimal.  The story is broken up awkwardly and it’s clear that some decisions were made with the intention of selling additional content after release.  The story as told in the game makes very little sense so I found myself reading supplemental material online to fill in the gaps.  It also helped to watch the YouTube animated shorts as well as the Kingsglaive movie (available for an additional fee).  Even if you invest the time and the money into all the supplemental material the story is kinda dumb.  Beautifully animated though.

I could spend a lot of time complaining about the failings of this game but I should note that I did enjoy playing it enough to stick with it for 80 hours.  My three-year-old daughter really enjoyed watching me play and especially enjoyed the characters (Prince Noctis was her favorite).  While the game might not do anything particularly well it also doesn’t completely bomb either.  If I could put a review on the cover I’d write “Utterly Average”.  While average might be considered ‘good’ by some I was hoping for more.

So, am I giving up on Final Fantasy?  It’s hard to say.  FFXV failed to meet my expectations but if Final Fantasy XVI looks amazing I’m sure I’ll find myself being cautiously optimistic once again.

  • Is it fun: Yes – barely
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  80 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: RPG

 

Bravely Second Demo – The Ballad of the Three Cavaliers

Date Completed: January 16, 2017

Not much to say about this game, it was just a demo.  I normally wouldn’t write about a demo but this demo was over 10 hours long so I figured it warranted a mention.  Even so you can probably tell by the fact that I’m posting this almost a year late that it wasn’t a high priority on my list of things to write about.  I highly approve of the strategy of creating demos that are separate and supplementary to the full version of a particular game.  I enjoyed the original Bravely Default Demo quite a bit and I found this one similarly enjoyable.  I’ve been playing the full version of Bravely Second off-and-on since beating the demo and if I ever get to the end of that I’ll do a proper writeup.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Final Fantasy Explorers

Date Completed: February 28th, 2017

Holy dull game Batman!  This game was unbelievably boring.  It’s almost not even a game.  It was really more of a tech demo than an actual game.  The game consists of exploring a continent by completing a series of missions.  Once you have completed a mission you are automatically warped back to the single town that is available in the game where you can select a new mission that let you explore further away areas.  There is no real story to follow that was discernible,  Something about crystals.  Square-Enix offered a collector’s edition of the game when they released it and I am SUPER glad I didn’t sink any money into it.  They’ve offered collector’s editions of several games now that turned out to be total duds.  I think this game could be turned into something interesting with more development effort but this release was barely a real game.

  • Is it fun: No
  • Score: 3/10
  • Length:  ~20 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Pokémon Yellow

pokemon_yellow_cover_art_by_comunello76-d4xfrr5Date Completed: December 28th, 2016

One day one of my college roommates said unto me “Mike, you should try playing Pokemon.  You may think it’s just a game for kids, however I think you will be surprised to find that is is a surprisingly good RPG.”  I trusted my roommate’s opinion so went off to the store to purchase a copy.  The nearest used video game story was a place by the name of ‘Funcoland’ (Since purchased by GameStop) however due to several bad experiences there we usually pronounced the name without the first ‘n’.  My roommate owned Pokemon Blue so I decided to purchase Pokemon Yellow.  After buying the game we went to the adjacent store and found Pokemon Yellow on sale BRAND NEW for 10$ cheaper.  So I bought Pokemon Yellow again and returned the first copy.

 

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Pro Tip : Never type ‘Misty Cosplay’ into Google.

I was surprised to find that Pokemon was a surprisingly good RPG and I played the crap out of that little cartridge.  With my roommate’s help I managed to catch the first 150 Pokemon ( I didn’t know about the Mew glitch so I sadly never caught 151 ).  I really got into Pokemon after that.  I bought Pokemon Gold when it came out, and we had copies of Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap in the apartment.

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Morbid much?

I don’t own my original cartridge anymore so when Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow came out for the 3DS virtual console I jumped at the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane.

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

Something I learned about the past is that you can never go back.  Pokemon Yellow has not aged well.  Lots of frustrating mechanics have been ironed out in the many, many games released since generation I.  I forced myself to play all the way through to the end, although I ended up taking many breaks.

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I remember these guys…

I had taken my kids to one of the Pokemon card events at Toys R Us and overheard a portly nerd in the line in front of my discussing the recently released Pokemon virtual console games.  “Of course I bought all three of them!” he explained to another portly nerd.  I’m happy to say I’m not that guy anymore.  I enjoyed the nostalgia but I’m only going to stick with just this one game.

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Charizard FTW!

 

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~20 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

91bfa0z2jl-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed: September 24th, 2016

Holy Long Game Batman!  I was one of the few who owned the original version of the game when it was released on the Wii console.  I had started the game a few times but I never made it very far in and eventually I traded my Wii in for a Wii  U and lost my save.  I tried the game again on the Wii U but I never made it very far there either.  Eventually it came out for the ‘New’ 3DS and the portable form factor finally made it possible for me to sink the hundred hours into the game that were needed to beat it.

The ‘universe’ in Xenoblade consists of two massive titans (The Bionis and the Mechonis) who killed (or did they?) each other after some sort of timeless battle.  Several races of beings live on the bodies of these titans and naturally the beings on the Mechonis are at war with the beings on the Bionis.  Without giving too much away, the game will take you on an epic journey across the body of the Bionis.

The size of the game world is absolutely massive.  The scenery is breathtaking.  There are rivers, mountains, valleys, forests and swaps all magnificently realized with some amazing views.  The design teams plays fast and loose with gravity and there are tons of spots where it is possible to step right off the Bionis.  In fact, there is even an achievement for doing so.  This is the only game I can think of where I frequently found myself accidentally jumping off the world.

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The true test of the quality of an RPG is of course the story.  I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the story and it reminded me of back in the day when Final Fantasy games used to be good.  It was a wild and insane ride, but it all made enough sense that I didn’t have to hunt down a Wiki that explained anything.  The main characters were all interesting, realistic and likable.  Overall I’d say this game is a job well done.

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Like many other RPGs this game has way too many things to fiddle with.  There are weapons, armor, gems, skills, abilities, affinities and bonuses that make the whole system a little overwhelming.  The tutorials are vast but I always felt lost in the menus.  The FAQS I read online didn’t really help either.  I HATE paying for strategy guides but this certainly seems to be the type of game that needs one.

If you are the type of player who expects RPG characters to wear body armor that isn’t likely to protect you from a butter knife then Xenoblade may be the game for you.  While some of the armor available looked functional quite a bit of it could have doubled as swimwear.  The game isn’t sexist though!  The gents and the ladies both get the swimwear treatment.  In fact, I’ve seen the male character ‘Dunban’ referred to as the ‘Nekkid Ninja’ in forum posts.

Totally Functional...

Totally Functional…

Xenoblade Chronicles features a bazillion little side-quests in each area that took most of play time. The completionist in me hates missing anything but I found questing to get old quickly so I’d often push forward with the main story quest early.  It was always clear where the main story quest objectives were located, unfortunately I often found myself out classes when I arrived in a new area. I found that if I took the time to complete all of the quests in an area I was usually ready to go when I moved on.  So much for speed runs.

New Quest

Clearly more important than saving the world.

The graphics seem a little dated on the Wii, but they were more than passable on the ‘New’ 3DS.  It sucks that it’s not compatible with the older 3DS consoles but there were some occasions when the frame rate dropped and I doubt the older model would have been able to push as good an experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has the means to play it.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~100 hours
  • System: Nintendo 3DS
  • Genre: RPG