No-Game November!

I’m taking November off from playing games. It’s already been Day 3 of my self-imposed gaming fast and I feel fine. Actually I haven’t played much of anything since mid-October so it’s not too much of a difference. Not being able to check into Paradise Bay at least once a day itches a bit, though.

As for all the games I mentioned giving a second chance to a couple of posts ago… yeah, they’re all dropped. Good riddance. From December I’ll be starting anew with a fresh batch of games.

Why a break now? Because I’ve virtually exhausted my DS and PSP libraries. There are a few RPGs and otome games I haven’t played yet, but they’re mostly things I’m not really interested in. If I were interested I would have played them by now, see? After all I’ve had a DS for over 10 years and a PSP for over 6. That’s plenty of time. The 3DS is largely in the same boat, sadly enough. There’s SMTIV Apocalypse, DQ7 and then maybe I might try the Etrian Odyssey reboots but that’s about it. Wii and PS2 are on ice because I don’t have a TV any more (long story. Very long story).

Basically I’m out of things to play. That I really want to play, that is. That makes this is a good time to evaluate whether I want to move on to new consoles and handhelds or just clean up odds and ends and call it a day when it comes to gaming. Right now my mind is pretty firmly made up to get a PS Vita before the end of the year and Switch before the end of 2018 (Xenoblade 2!!!!). But that’s because I’m taking it for granted that I want to keep playing games. But do I really? Or am I just coasting off inertia?

No-Game November is an experiment to see if I’ll miss playing games this month, and if so how badly. I’ve done a gaming fast before a couple of years ago, but the circumstances were a bit different (another long story). November is a month for exploring other hobbies. It’s also a time to get in touch with my inner feelings and listen to the voice of the games with me… NOT! 😀

Okay, kinda. It will be useful to know know exactly what kind of games I feel like playing and when I feel like playing them. I’ve already learned that I miss Paradise Bay a lot, so maybe that means I should experiment more with cheerful, low-pressure casual games in future. I also realized I feel like playing games when I’m bored (duh) but also when I’m cranky or tired or have a lot to do and need to procrastinate. Obviously that means I should experiment more with more casual games. And I’ve realized I don’t feel like reading a lot any more, I just want to jump in and play as soon as possible. Yup, more casual games!

At the same time I wouldn’t mind playing an ARPG with a lot of loot and a lot of weapons in it. Something like Phantasy Star Portable or Rune Factory in terms of both mood and difficulty. I already have a couple of titles in mind so… No! Bad Kina! No games till December!

TL;DR – This blog is on hiatus until December while I decide whether to buy more consoles/handhelds or move in a more casual direction. See you guys next month!

Ace Attorney Investigations 2 – Faster to read spoilers online.

I “finished” Ace Attorney Investigations 2 last night by reading spoilers for the last two cases online. It’s not my fault. I was reading and reading and reading and reading and still the game wasn’t ending. And then this really gross-looking character called Blaise Debeste showed up like, ewwww, you know? Not the kind of guy I want to see at 1 in the morning. So I read summaries on a wiki. Hmm, hmm, ah so… Ya don’t say. A balloon eh, that’s new. Hmhmhm, I see I see. Okay, that’s a wrap! And that’s how I finished this bloody game at long last. I should have done this 6 months ago.

Brief final thoughts: It SUCKED. There’s no court scene in these games so the investigation and interrogation should make up for that, but it all takes so long. You can’t investigate until the game lets you. As soon as you’ve checked a few things, the Investigation auto-completes, whether you’re ready for it to end or not. Even before that, you can’t take two steps into a scene without that dumb Debeste kid and his irritating handler showing up to ruin your parade. And that’s not getting into how dumb it is of all of you to be traipsing around a crime scene with the body right there, no gloves, no protective shoes, no nothing, just grabbing bloody artifacts and shoving them into your pockets.

Every case dragged on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. And you have to argue every little case with every minor witness just to get them to tell you the time of day. Whyyyyy??? And the cases are so convoluted, and this one killed that one and hid him in this thing for this long and everyone’s carrying bodies left and right like there’s a two-for-one sale, and then that character was supposed to have done this thing but actually did that thing over there and on and on and on and on. AAHHH get to the point already!

And the accusations never make a lick of sense. Jeff Masters is arrested for killing a contestant just because they were in the same building. But then anyone else could have been a suspect, but noooooo, he’s the first one they found so it’s gotta be him.

And the prosecutors are so hypocritical. There’s a case where they accuse Kay of killing the victim because she may or may not have entered a room with her. But another character who definitely entered the same room says “It wasn’t me” and that’s the end of the matter. Well what were you doing there? “Stuff.” “Oh, okay.” And the matter is dropped just like that. You can’t prove Kay was there but I can prove you were there, but somehow I’m on the losing end?! Just because that one character can overrule anything she wants to no matter how much sense it makes? RRGHGHGHGH.

But if I start questioning that, I might as well stop playing the whole series. A lot of it is done on purpose to highlight just how corrupt the system is, but what’s the point of going that far if you end up turning the player off as well? Whatevs, I’m done. Not even gonna think about this game any more. At least now we know why it wasn’t localized. As with Soma Bringer, sometimes companies are doing us a favor when they let a game stay in Japan. Think on it.

BRB restarting FFXIII

It’s been so long since I played Final Fantasy XIII that I’ve forgotten how the battle mechanics work. Especially what Paradigms are used for and double-especially whatever that mechanic I was supposed to use to beat some scorpion-like mecha that wiped me out about 5 times. So I thought I’d start again, skip all the cutscenes till I get there and then resume my old save once I’m sure I have the hang of things again.

Incidentally the reason I stopped playing FFXIII was because of the controls. Somehow the keyboard controls just didn’t feel right even after several hours. I entertained the thought of buying a controller just for it, but it didn’t seem worth the trouble so I just quit. Recently it occurred to me that I could get one of those USB doohickeys that let you connect your PS2 controller to a PC. So that’s what I did. It’s not perfect – I’m going to need to remap the keys and the analog sticks to make them point where I want them to, but it feels much, much better than using the keyboard. As a bonus I’ll be able to use the controller when I’m emulating PSX games on ePSXE in future.

The problem right now is… replaying FFXIII is a dreary experience. TBH I haven’t missed it at all these past months. But my memory tells me I was starting to enjoy the battle system and the Crystarium thingy when I quit. Besides I’m not replaying the whole thing, just a little bit until I’m back to speed. Skipping all the cutscenes really makes you realize the “Corridor Simulator” claims aren’t far off at all. Run run run, fight, run run run, fight, run run run…

While that’s going on, I just remembered I haven’t finished Ace Attorney Investigations 2 either. I’ll be playing it on the side as well and will probably finish it long before I catch up in FFXIII. Details on this story as it progresses.

Oukoku Shoutengai – Being a mayor is more boring than I’d thought.

Oukoku Shoutengai is a 2010 simulation game made by Japanese indie developers inutoneko. I’ve had a blast playing their earlier games and was really looking forward to this one, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. A marathon 5 hour session yesterday was enough for me. I’ll explain why in a second, but first the story/premise:

The city-state of Ishwald is in dire economic straits. Sister Sophia and her superior at the church of Ishwald decide to revitalize the rundown local shopping district in order to create jobs, generate funds and raise public morale. Unfortunately her superior has to leave almost immediately on official business. It’s all up to Sister Sophia to save the district, with a little help from her friends and a lot of bribery.

The reason I didn’t enjoy Oukoku Shoutengai as much as the others is because it requires much less micromanaging. There’s always something to do every day when you’re farming or running a restaurant or a shop. Managing a shopping district is a lot less labor-intensive and thus a lot less fun.

At the beginning of the season you have two main jobs to do. The first is to lease shops to interested businesses. In selecting the best fit for the spaces, you must consider a number of factors. Can you afford to pay them to set up shop? You pay them a signing fee and make it back with a cut of their profits, so you’ll be looking for profitable shops with a high demand for their services.

The percentage sign shows the level of demand. You also have to think about store quality, target demographic (young, old, male female), seasonal popularity (e.g. a swimsuit store will do better in the summer) and a few other things along those lines. You want a good mix to keep different people coming in. But in the end it’s all stuff you get out of the way on day one of the season.

After that you just kind of sit there and watch the customers roll in for the next 30 days. Morning to evening, morning to evening, just sitting and watching customers going in and out and slowly making money. Morning to evening, sitting and watching, sitting and watching, sitting and watching, sitting and watching, sitting and watching… If you don’t get the picture I can repeat “sitting and watching” another hundred times until you do, feel free to ask. It will be more interesting than actually playing Oukoku Shoutengai, I guarantee it.

The other thing you do at the start of the season is meet the newest members of the City Council and try to establish friendly relations with them. That’s a euphemism for “bribe the hell out of them so they’ll pass the legislation you want.” Oh wait, it’s only called bribery when it’s done in third world countries right? Lobbying, that’s the word. You lobby the fine upstanding ladies and gentlemen of the Council once a month.

The star next to a member’s name means you’ve already “taken good care” of them that month. The percentage shows how much they like you, which goes up faster if you get them stuff they prefer. Some of them want money (err “political donations”), some of them want land, some want free labor, others want your hard-earned Guild points. It’s not really optional either, since you have to go through the Council to get a lot of things done. Want a grant? Pay us. Want more land? Pay us. Better security? Pay us. They’re like the Mafia but even more blatant.

The higher a council member’s level (D > E > F etc.) the more weight they carry at council meetings, so you want to lobby them first and foremost. You can pass legislation to raise the level of the members, but this is a bad idea if you do it too soon. I learned that the hard way. More powerful members can give you bigger benefits, but they also have outrageous appetites. Stick to the petty criminals at the start.

Council meetings take place on the 14th and 28th of the month and you can see above that they rejected my humble appeal for more GP because they didn’t like me enough. No refunds for the money I spent wining and dining them either. Plus the council gets shuffled every season, presumably to prevent corruption, so you have to work with a largely new council every season. The good news is that affection is cumulative AND the pool of members is limited. Keep up the bribery long enough and eventually everyone will hit 100%. Phew!

So those are the two main activities Oukoku Shoutengai offers. I’ll admit that bribery lobbying is kinda fun, but it only takes a few seconds here and there. Same with picking shops. The other 95% of the game is just sitting and watching and sitting and watching. Oh sure, there are a few more things you can do like:

  • They added half-body portraits for cutscenes, which is nice. But Tico’s chest is just… ???

    Play mini-games and chat with people who stop by. The characters have made a bit of progress in their relationships (Eve is finally getting the message that Fill doesn’t like her) but the story moves so slowly that it’s not worth reading.

  • Expand your stores using forage materials like sticks, stones and water.
  • Buy maps and send adventurers to forage for items. This is an extremely dreary process you have 0 control over. Adventurers will pick up very little at the start and will frequently die to bosses, resetting exploration progress to zero.
  • Occasionally assign extra staff to stores to cope with demand.
  • Research forage items so you can make your own via a magical garden.
  • Do a little meaningless alchemy with items you have lying around.
  • Do a little shopping for items to expand your store.

But all these still take up only a tiny fraction of your time. The rest of the game is spent sitting and watching. And I don’t play games just to sit and watch. The developers should have added the option to skip up to a whole season at a time and give you a rundown of your profits. They could also have added more things to manage like sanitation, inspections, advertising, hiring assistants, charity work, active participation in festivals, taxes, etc etc etc.

This is one of Inutoneko’s lazier efforts and barely qualifies as a game. I’m happy to cut them a lot of slack in recognition of past achievements though. After all even the late great Imageepoch of Time and Eternity fame made the occasional dud. Besides, meager as it was, Oukoku Shoutengai did scratch my simulation game itch. I’m ready to get back to more robust game systems now.

Next up: We’re into the last quarter of the year, which means it’s time to clean up loose ends. Time to take another look at games I stopped playing but haven’t definitively dropped yet. Off the top of the head I can think of Final Fantasy XIII, Legend of Legacy, Summon Night 5 and Operation Abyss. The point is not necessarily to finish them but to arrive at some sort of conclusion with each one. First up is FFXIII.

Granblue Fantasy – Of sparks and men

Welcome to another update on Granblue Fantasy, the game I allegedly quit 9 months ago! And I did quit… for about two months. Then my mind told me “Come on, it wasn’t so bad…” and I started checking in every other day. Then every day. By the Golden Week celebration I was back in full force. “I’m only here for magnafest,” I told myself, but I haven’t left since.

I don’t play too seriously outside magfest but it has been 9 months since my last post so I’ve definitely made some progress. I’ve unlocked Tier IV classes and FLB’ed several weapons. I can post updates on my grids another time if anyone is super-interested but today I’m here to talk about sparking Summer Zooey!

Why a spark? TBH I didn’t really need to save up for a spark. I have decent gacha luck and serviceable SSRs in all elements. But other people have sparked and I haven’t. I’m missing out. I must spark too! Why Summer Zooey? Because other people have her and I don’t. What kind of world would this be if everyone were content with their lot? I must have S. Zooey and that’s final.

And I could have had her way back in the July Legfest but I got greedy and decided to wait. Thus I fell victim to the Great Zooey Switcheroo of Summer 2017. That’s why even though I’m tempted to wait and see what’s available at Halloween, Christmas and New Year, I’ll stick with the certain and spark now.

What I want: Shiva-tier summons. Korwa! I’ve always wanted Korwa. Altair because I need a Water buffer that benefits from my Baha dagger. Ayer because my Earth team needs more firepower. SSR swords and daggers to reduce for my Earth/Water FLBs. That’s it, I guess. I told you I had good teams already.

What I’m getting: Summer Zooey. If I manage to pull her before the end, Mahira. If I pull both, Lecia.

Here are my most recent characters before the spark:

And here we gooooo. 110 single ticket draws and 57,000 crystal pulls. I’ll stick to posting the SSRs only.

Sweet, a dagger! Can’t wait to reduce it. Oh wait, it’s a sword? A sword is fine too!

Oh. The new SSR. I was afraid of this. But the melee weapon will come in handy when it’s time to FLB another Celeste Claw.

A reward? Or punishment? for skipping Baalfest. I’m overflowing with Earth quartz so I’ll stick him in a stash for now.

My second Lich. I like his design a lot, it’s very “fantasy.” But because of the way Granblue works I don’t have much use for him in my parties. Stash for now.

I just realized rare crystals glow slightly as they pop out if they contain a + mark. That’s nice.
…Gold moon. That’s nice too.

I’m almost done with my grids. I can’t, I won’t go back to the mines now. *stash*

200 more sword stones get! FLB Ygg Sword, here I come! I’m not sure if Beatrix is any good or not. Will check later.

Yes! YES!! Vortex Dragon! I’m not even kidding, I really need light quartz! Thank you for coming home, please come again!

Another gold moon. And it’s the same Fusion Mobius as before. Clarisse must really like me, but I don’t need any harp stones. …Ah, yet another gold moon. This time it’s Eugen’s AK-4A. I reduced the first one. Better hang on to this just in case.

Welp, that’s it for the 110 single tickets. So far I have 7 new SSRs, 3 gold moons and two or three new SR and R characters. Stan, Rosine, Philosophia and maybe someone else too. Time for the crystal draws.

1st: Nothing good.
2nd: Junk.
3rd: Silver moon, bronze moon.
4th: Silver moon, two bronze moons.
5th: My second Anubis:

Anubis-sama, I haven’t forgotten how you carried me when I was a tiny little scrub just starting out. I will never reduce you but will treat you kindly and tenderly until the day I finally MLB you. Please rest quietly in my stash for now.

If Granblue Fantasy ever releases a must-have harp weapon, I’ll be ready to FLB it on day one.

6th: Gold moon, SR Dante, R Feather and…

A sword I can’t reduce and an SSR I don’t really need. Nice try Varuna, but it’s not gonna happen.

7th:

No Agni, you and me aren’t going to happen either. Not until Granblue provides a way of getting Sunlight Stones that doesn’t involve grinding like a madman for one week straight.

8th:

Another potentially-useful sword I can’t reduce. I hear Dark Jeanne d’Arc is a powerful character though. I’ll put her through her paces in a bit, right now I have a spark to finish.

9th: Beatrix gold moon, more sword stones for me. And…

In retrospect it’s a good thing I didn’t spark back in July. I would have missed the increase in summon draw rates and missed all these good summons. I don’t run much difficult content nowadays but Europa has a place in my water party at least.

10th: Bronze moon, Dorothy and Claudia gold moon.
11th: Silver moon.
12th:

Don’t need staff, don’t need dark healer, but I’ll take the 50 crystals.

I said, I don’t need staff stones and I don’t need dark healers. Listen when I’m talking to you, GBF!

13th:

Awesome! I like those piercing blue eyes, very cool. My Earth team was lagging behind the others so this is just the pick me up I needed. Xeno Cocytus, here I come!

14th: Nothing, not even a moon.
15th:

More sword stones! I don’t really use my Dark party all that much so I can’t think of any battles that really need a Veil… Hmm. Well, let’s keep moving.

16th: Two bronze moons.
17th:

Sword stones up the wazoo! And I might actually have a place for Siegfried on my earth team. Welcome aboard!

18th: Two silver moons, one bronze moon.
19th (final): Silver moon.

And done! It won’t let me draw any more until I’ve traded the sparks. Last chance to change my mind and get Mahira or Lecia instead…

But no, I too must become one of the Zooey-endowed elite! Here goes nothing~ …Wot, they just sent it to my crate. No sparkly rainbow crystal and cool music? No ticker tape parade for getting 300 sparks?

Guess not! Well, that was pretty satisfying anyway.

Final haul

SSR characters: Albert, Dorothy & Claudia, Beatrix, Arriet, Katalina (water), Jeanne D’Arc (dark), Cagliostro (dark), Marquiares, Vira, Siegfried, Summer Zooey.
SSR summons: Baal, Lich, Varuna, Vortex Dragon, Anubis, Agni, Europa, Godsworn Alexiel.
SR characters: Carren, Sarya, Dante, Mimlemel.
R characters: Rosine, Philosophia, Stan, Dante, Feather, Ryan.
Moons: 29 bronze moons, 16 silver moons (at least 5 of which are Sarya’s weapon) and 6 gold moons.
Plus marks: +10 for summons, +20 for weapons

Most recent characters after spark

Most recent summons after spark

9/10 would spark again

You’ve poked me with that thing for the last time, Luminiera!

Was it worth the wait? Yes and no. “Yes” because I’ve had a lot of fun today. It may look like I pulled everything all at once, but I actually spread the spark out over a couple of hours. It was great getting a rainbow surprise every hour ^_^. In an ideal world I would have spread it out over the entire weekend but knowing myself I’d forget to log in on Sunday and then (o)___(o)”” T_____T So it’s better this way.

Plus I got 19 SSRs (25 if you count gold moons), which is about right for the 6% SSR rate. Way more than I was expecting. I’m not too disappointed I didn’t get any character on my wishlist because now I have future draws and sparks to look forward to. I already have 13,136 crystals and 5 single tickets waiting for the next Summer Zooey-level gamebreaker.

“No” because I think I waited a little too long to spark. My parties are mostly finalized and it will take a lot for a new character to break into the frontlines. Apart from Summer Zooey and maybe Siegfried and Dark Jeanne d’Arc, everyone is going straight to the bench. I’m pretty happy with the great summons I got, but again at this point I mainly use sub-summons for their stats. Those without good auras or calls are going straight to the stash. Except Vortex Dragon, he is already dead.

Plus waiting for a spark as a free-to-play player can limit your grids because you lack weapon stones for final uncaps. Of course there’s no guarantee you will get them if you pull normally, but if you don’t pull for 7-9 months then you’re entirely at the mercy of Cygames and the occasional free pull.

I’ve been so desperate for sword and dagger stones that I’ve been buying all the SR weapon tickets Rise of the Beasts has to offer. And it’s still not enough. Oh, how I’ve regretted making a Skofnung for my Class Champion Weapon. Thanks to the spark I’m finally swimming in sharp pointy sword stones ouch ouch ouch but it’s been a long time coming.

Final thoughts

Sparking is fun~ When can I spark again? It took 7 months last time because I had a lot of unfinished quests and trophies. Now I estimate another 8-9 months, so probably May, June 2018. No guarantees I’ll still be playing Granblue Fantasy then but if I am, please join me for another spark. Thanks for reading!