Sorcery Saga? Atelier Totori Plus? Legend of Legacy? Something else?

What to play, what to play… It’s not that these games are bad or anything but I want something more exciting! Something faster-paced and slashier with a high enemy density. Something like… an action RPG. Tokyo Xanadu is calling me. Phantasy Star Nova is calling me.

But what do I do with these games I’ve already started? I know myself. If I stop now, I will never come back to them in a million years. And if I start dropping games left and right in February, the rest of 2018 is in danger. Therefore I must control myself and either finish what I’m working on or play enough to know I don’t want to continue.

All right, then. A progress report.

Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Curry God – A rogue-like about a girl named Pupuru who is exploring a series of dungeons to find ingredients for he ultimate curry. The game itself is fine, just normal roguelike stuff, but the “humorous” skits and events leave me cold. They’re not cute, they’re not funny, they’re just repetitive and energy-sapping. Roguelikes don’t need stories!

I’m on my second dungeon (Volcano thingy), just fought my second boss. Haven’t died yet, but I’ve cut it close before. Those Warp scrolls really come in handy. Apart from that there’s nothing much to report. I’ll write a proper post about it when I’ve finished… hmm, let’s say 4 dungeons. Or died 10 times, whichever one comes first.

Atelier Totori Plus – Cutesy alchemist wants to be an adventurer. This is super petty of me, but I can’t stand the way Totori runs. Who runs like that? Is she even trying? It’s not a deal breaker though. I’m more bothered by the loading times that seem a tad long to me. Especially right before a battle, when I compare it to Rorona it feels so slow. I barely started this and haven’t been motivated to continue. But I’m sure it will be fine once it opens up a little bit and I can visit places beyond Alanya Village.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Haven’t forgotten about this one, but the Switch is currently out of my hands. I miss it. A console you can take to bed with you is just too handy.

Legend of Legacy – I started this… last year? Eh, two years ago?! I liked it but my 3DS was acting up. It’s working fine now, but maybe I should rush through all the 3DS RPGs I want to play like this one and Etrian Odyssey Untold and SMTIV Apocalypse before it starts its nonsense again.

“He who chases two rabbits catches neither.”
“You can’t look into a bottle with both eyes at the same time.”

The ancients were full of wisdom when it comes to the order in which video games should be played.Try to play everything at the same time and you’ll burn out and drop them all. So I’m going to impose some discipline on my myself. Sorcery Saga + Legend of Legacy right now, no touching other games. (Waaahhh… But I must…) Then sandwich an ARPG in there real quick. Then Atelier Totori and Xenoblade 2.

La Corda d’Oro 2 – Hihara true end, Shimizu, Tsukimori and Yunoki GET!

I have been a busy little gamer, haven’t I? In addition to doing all these routes I also started Atelier Totori Plus, played it a little, wasn’t feeling it and started Sorcery Saga instead, which is right up my alley. Plus it’s a roguelike so I’ll be done soon, just as soon as I die about 30 times. More on those games some other time. Today let’s talk about all the routes I did in La Corda d’Oro 2 and how I finally got Hihara-sempai’s true ending.

Okay, “true” ending isn’t how the game describes it (IIRC they call it the 連鎖/chain route or something) and the ending itself isn’t any sparklier or prettier than the regular ending. However it does have a developing story that makes it more deserving of the term “true ending” than the ambivalent mushy-wushiness of the normal route.

It’s also considerably harder to get because, as I suspected, raising a guy’s affections too high too quickly causes him to forget all his troubles and focus only on his love for Kahoko. There’s a lot more drama and less romance on the events route, but IMO the payoff is much more satisfying because you’ve supported him through difficult times. Or at least you were in the general vicinity when it was all going down, which is virtually the same thing.

The tricky part about getting a chain ending is triggering the 3rd chain event. You’re likely to be close to unlocking a guy’s third heart (400-500 affection) by the time it becomes available. If you get the third heart first, you can’t get the third chain. If you even trigger a third heart events – even if you answer wrongly – the chain route is closed off forever. Earlier and later chains are also tricky, but it’s the 3rd that trips me up on every route. You have to keep multiple saves and keep reloading once you meet the conditions so you trigger the right events. Phew!

The sad thing is by the time I finally swallowed my pride and checked the FAQs for how to get the alternate routes, I had already done the regular routes for every character except Shimizu, Fuyumi, Kanazawa and Amou. Much as I love La Corda d’Oro 2, there’s no way I could do the whole thing all over again. I had to pick whose story I really, really, really wanted to see before putting the game away for a while and only the mystery of Hihara-sempai’s commercial came to mind.

What’s eating Kazuki Hihara?

As I mentioned on his normal route, Hihara-sempai got a starring role in a commercial. However he didn’t seem too thrilled with the way it turned out. What could be making Hihara-sempai so unhappy? Did they stiff him on the payment or something? That would make me depressed, I tell you.

The IRS wants what percent?!

But in a way, what they did was worse. They had Hihara play the trumpet for the advert but dubbed his performance over with a pro’s. On top of that, he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing him from telling anyone the truth. I don’t know what’s worse for a budding musician: being told your playing is lousy, being forced to pretend someone else’s performance is your own or realizing that none of your friends and family can tell the difference. Poor Hihara-sempai. There there, I’ll comfort you.

Yunoki, move! I said I’d do it!

Luckily he has a few discerning and understanding friends like Yunoki, Kaji and… Hino? Hino you’re lying, you didn’t notice a thing. But she pretends she did and he buys it. So although Hihara desperately wants to confess the truth to the world, his friends persuade him to wait 50 years before saying anything in order to minimize the legal fallout. Kaji also talks him into signing up for external music competitions so he can see where he really stands in the world. And a good time was had by all.

After all that drama, it feels really natural when Hihara shows up under the Christmas tree and tells you how special you are to him and how he wants to be with you forever and ever. Awww, Hihara-sempai~<3~~<3~ And that’s why I call this the true ending.

Shimizu GET along the way

Shimizu’s is the… collateral damage ending, I guess you could call it? Meaning I got him without trying while aiming for Hihara’s true end. As long as you get a guy’s affection up to 920-ish before the final concert, La Corda d’Oro 2 will give you his normal ending. You might have to see at least one event and go on one date as well, not sure. Either way it wasn’t a problem because I had a lot of time to spare while trying to avoid raising Hihara’s affection too high.

Shimizu’s issue is that he’s searching for a muse to help him write better music. Somewhere along the line he realizes he writes and plays better when Hino is around. Then I lost his true route, which is fine. Something-something Alma Mahler something Shimizu is such a weirdo something. When I met him under the Christmas tree at the end, he told me that his music sounds better when I’m around so he hopes I’ll stick around for a while longer. Yeah sure, I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

My opinion of Shimizu hasn’t changed much since the last game. He’s still a dull, sleepy slacker. If anything he seems even more sluggish than before. His dedication to music does come through very clearly and I admire that. But as a romantic prospect he’s not exciting at all. You wouldn’t be able to talk to him about very ordinary things like movies or fashion or computers or anything that’s not music. Let’s just be friends forever, Shimizu-kun.

Violinist-zoned by Tsukimori

“I’m attracted to you…. as a violinist.”
“I want you to stay around forever… as my rival.”
Thus spake Tsukimori Len in his so-called normal ending. As the face of the game, Tsukimori has always played harder to get than the other characters but I thought he would make an exception this time, seeing as I got his affection so high and stuff. Nope. You will be hard pressed to hear him say anything that could possibly be construed as warm or affectionate throughout his route, even when he’s walking you to and from school every day.

His story is that he developed an interest in studying abroad after hearing about Ousaki’s trip to Vienna. He put in an application somewhere or the other and that’s the last I heard before losing the true route. Doesn’t sound like he needs/wants my help for anything so… let’s just be violinist rivals forever, Mr. Moon Forest.

Yunoki is as mean as ever

Yunoki’s storyline is that he promised his family that he would only pursue music until he graduated from high school. Now that day is drawing nearer and he doesn’t know how to feel. Plus his family business is on the rocks so he might not have the luxury of following his dreams for much longer. Sounds nice and serious, right? Like something I would want to dig deeper into and try to help him solve… if he wasn’t such a massive jerk all the time.

Seriously, he can’t get through a five-line conversation without sneaking something mean in there. Even his nicest comments are backhanded compliments. Stuff like “You actually look good for once” or “This black tea is amazing. Not that someone like you can appreciate it, of course.” I think the modern kids call it ‘negging’? I call it a cue to run far, far away. Of course I went ahead and got Yunoki’s normal ending anyway (it’s not romantic in the least) but after that I want absolutely nothing to do with him.

It’s strange though, because he’s such a nice guy on Hihara’s route. A really caring and perceptive friend who always looks out for Hihara’s best interests. He even calls me out and tells me not to dare break his best buddy’s heart. I thought this might be because Hihara doesn’t know Yunoki’s true nature, but I’ve seen two different events where Yunoki lets his mask slip in front of Hihara and they’re still as tight as ever afterwards. So Yunoki’s just nasty to me and nice to everyone else. One of those guys. Yeah, no.

What’s next for me and La Corda d’Oro 2?

Part of me still wants to get everyone’s true ending. Let’s see, if I played on Easy and skipped every event I had already seen… It’s not… impossible. Another part of me wants to play the 2 Encore fandisk, which is short but offers a new form of gameplay. And a third part of me wants to start a completely different otome game altogether. My otome game backlog is so long I’ve gotta play at least one a month or I’ll never get anywhere.

That being the case I will very reluctantly move on from La Corda d’Oro 2 and start something else soon. In the meantime Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Sorcery Saga and Totori will keep me occupied for the next couple of weeks.

On second thought, let’s not play Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It is a silly game.

13 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which is a good time for a break. The first of many such breaks, if my record with the original is anything to go by. It’s good that I waited 13 hours before posting because now I have a better handle on the battle system and controls. Now I can write something more positive and fun.

Why a break, then? Two reasons. One, I’m starting to enjoy the system but the story is just…………….. ….. yeah. And the cutscenes are way too long and pointless. Xenosaga-level.

In fact the direct trigger for the break was when I found myself skipping a post-boss cutscene that just wouldn’t end. I didn’t mean to skip, but before I knew it I had subconsciously pressed the buttons. As a result, I have no idea how Rex and his team ended up all buddy-buddy with the guys at the Garfont camp. All I know is it’s a bad sign when you find yourself skipping story scenes this early in a game’s life. Hence time to take a break and recover my movie-watching capacity.

The second reason for the break is because I want to spend the 9th-14th grinding up two FLB Fimbuls in Granblue Fantasy. Granblue Fans are already familiar with this special form of torture. Those who don’t know are better off not knowing. Either way the less said the better.

Regular Xenoblading activities will resume in a week or two. In the meantime I’m not sure whether I should give my thoughts on XC2 or not. It hasn’t been long since I started and I only just found my feet, so my opinion is bound to change as I go along. I guess it can’t hurt to note a few things that stood out to me (mild spoilers below).

Geh. I just spoiled myself a bit.

Let’s start on a positive note: Bright, happy colors! And a great soundtrack too. And the battle system is starting to get interesting with all these combos and arts and blades and affinities and on and on. It’s very promising so far.

My biggest problem with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the reason why I can put it down so easily is that the whole map is drawn for you at the start. I was looking forward to swimming and climbing for hours to get all the maps filled out only to find out 90% of the work has been done for me already. I’m still interested and motivated, but it’s gone from a Must Play to a Sure I Guess now.

Btw, just because the map is available doesn’t mean it’s actually useful. If anything, it makes it easier to get lost because now it’s really difficult to tell where you’ve already been vs. where you have yet to go. It’s faster to count the times when I didn’t get hopelessly lost on my way somewhere than the times I did.

The hero Rex is yet another plucky, feeble-brained hero who dares all things and believes all things just because a pretty girl told him so. Seeing as the JRPG industry couldn’t exist without these fine, gullible fellows, I don’t want to be too hard on Rex-Rex but… He’s even dumber than the usual examples. Not only does he not question anything Pyra says or does but he won’t allow anyone else to do so either. Have it your way, lover boy. Just don’t come crying to me about how she tricked you or hid the truth further down the line.

Minor nitpick: If you’re hiding from some unsavory dudes and you have distinctive looks, maybe you should disguise yourself? Not just once in a while but all the time? Or does that make too much sense, Pyra?

I hate that thing RPGs do where we beat the boss resoundly in battle but in the cutscene afterwards everyone’s on the ground panting, “Huff, huff, they’re too strong! We can’t take them!” I WAS TAKING THEM! Didn’t you see me taking them? Where do you think all this EXP came from?! GRRRHHKGKKK! It’s not just one boss, it’s almost all the bosses I’ve fought so far. Why do you think I started skipping the movies?

It’s really funny how the gameplay works against the story when you’re supposed to be trapped or on the run but you can warp out at any time and go rest, do sidequests, level up, anything you want. The story is all like “How do we break out of here?” then five seconds later Rex and co. are at the mall getting some burgers and restocking, then another five seconds later: “We’ll never get out of this dungeon!” XDDD

I understand why Monolith designed the game that way, because otherwise you might get stuck on boss fights. I experienced it myself in an early battle when Rex was only level 6 or so. Dead in 30 seconds, never knew what hit me. A quick trip to the inn to level up and readjust my accessories after respawning and I went right back to the battlefield where the bosses were kindly waiting for me. It was an easy fight this time so yeah, I get why they made that option available. It’s still silly, though.

I was all fired up to do lots of sidequests but each one is so lengthy and the rewards are so poor that I’ve put them on hold for now. “Get me X” -> “Okay, now get me Y” -> “I forgot, I need Z too” -> “Oops, my A is broken, I need someone to fix it.” The quest doesn’t end until you’ve done every chore they had on their To Do List that day. Lazy wretches.

Welp, that’s enough for the early thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Sometime this weekend I hope to find the time to do a few more La Corda d’Oro 2 routes and start Atelier Totori Plus. I haven’t forgotten about Tokyo Xanadu eX+ either, but I’m okay on the ARPG front for now so I’m kicking it down the road to March. See you guys next week!

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army (2) – “Finished”

Where “Finished” means I got to the last dungeon and quit to read ending spoilers. What happened was, I reached a point where I had to re-fight the most annoying boss in the game (Mishaguji) but didn’t have a demon with Bufudyne to take him on. I tried with Ouyatsumi and Mabufudyne, but he’s just too slow when the boss hits 50%.

So I backtracked to Victor’s Goumaden with my demons in tow, all ready and happy to fuse something nice. Oh, Orochi looks like a good fit and I have the right set of demons. Let’s do thi… “You cannot handle this demon as you are now.” What? Why? It turns out Orochi is level 63 and Raidou is only level 61. In other words, Atlus wants me to grind. Ha. When Xenoblade 2 is waiting for me. Ha. *click* Off with the PS2.

But I did want to find out what the Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army story was ultimately about, so I read up on the final confrontation and ending from a detailed Let’s Play. Huh…? From the future…? Ambassador who…? Based on the events of SMT II? But I haven’t played SMT II, I don’t know any of this stuff. What does all that have to do with Kaya’s bloodline? I just wanted to fuse demons and kill things. Why must everything be so complicated? Well apparently everything ended happily ever after so that’s good enough.

Final thoughts on Raidou Kuzunoha: I was a bit worried because it was an ARPG but wasn’t too hard. Just that camera doesn’t move so it’s easy to move Raidou somewhere where you can’t see what he’s doing. Small flying enemies can also be hard to target for that reason. But it’s not a difficult game to play otherwise.

The story was… meh. I’d heard that it was lighter in tone than the other SMT games. Certainly it has a lower body count for named NPCs, but otherwise I don’t see it. The mood is very gloomy and the “jokes” are very juvenile. Actually I haven’t played most of the mainline SMT games, so I’m not in a position to compare. You know what? I’ve gotta stop pretending to care and get on with playing Xenoblade 2.

Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army is not a bad game. It’s just dry and bland with an unexciting payoff. If that sounds like your kind of thing, be my guest. I’m moving on to better things.

I was going to write my thoughts on the Project Octopath Traveler demo…

…But just this morning Square-Enix released a video where they address all the complaints I had (slow travel, dull colors, poor visibility… they even made it harder to save over your files like I accidentally did with my Olberic clear) and then some. So I’ve got nothing to say except I’m really looking forward to the full game coming out later this year. I really liked the soundtrack, the battle system is a more exciting version of Bravely Default’s and the stories are really interesting. Will Primrose ever get revenge on the three crows?

The only thing I still have mixed feelings about is the idea of eventually forming a party. It might be because of my recent fondness for Action RPGs, but I quite enjoyed being a one-man army in the demo. Right up to the point where the Brigand boss killed me on Olberic’s route, hehe. Even then a little bit of grinding and some equipment problems were enough to solve the problem. “Turn-based” doesn’t have to mean “piss-easy.” Still encounters do drag on a bit when you’re alone so maybe a party won’t be so bad after all. In any case Octopath Traveler is a day one buy for me no matter when it comes out. Looking forward to it!

Updates on the other stuff I’m playing:

Raidou Kuzunoha – Reached chapter 8, about to enter Dark Sakuradayama or whatever it’s called. The place with the tall tower everyone keeps making snide remarks about. The antagonists’ motivations have been largely revealed but there are still a few questions to be revealed like what role Kaya plays in all this and what Narumi is up to behind the scenes. I estimate I’m 2/3rd of the way through now.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – MEH. I’d made up my mind not to comment until I reached the 10-hour mark (4 hours in now) and maybe I should stick to it. Right now I’m having to adjust the camera all the time and it’s severely affecting my ability to enjoy exploration the way I wanted to. It might be better for me to come back once I’m better used to both the controls and the battle system. I’m seeing signs that this will be like the first game though, where I loved the exploration and sidequests and was kinda iffy on everything else. We’ll talk more once I’ve played more.