Demo report: 7th Dragon III, Yo-kai Watch, Stella Glow, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

Checked a few 3DS demos to make sure they could be played with my wonky Y (and L?) buttons and half-broken circle pad. The results are as follows:

7th Dragon III Code: VFD – Works like a charm. I can run with either the circle pad or the direction pad and the Y button doesn’t seem to be used for anything too significant. Control issues aside, me playing the demo was just a formality. “Whether” I would play 7th Dragon III was never the question, it was always a matter of “when.” Still I was a bit worried when that mascot character started bossing my team around, seeing as I have bad memories of being ordered around by bureacrats from 7th Dragon 2020. But it seems like Nodens is just going to toss me into various time periods and leave me to fend for myself, which is just peachy. As a bonus I even get some rewards for carrying over my demo save data. Sweet!

Yo-kai Watch – Very cute and colorful, I really like the look of it and the small-town feel. The Y button is used for a radar, but you can use your stylus to tap on the option instead so there was no problem as long as I consciously avoided touching that button. The problem was the battle system – it is seriously messy. It’s just all over the place: you have your yokai attacking at the top, then you have to be spinning wheels and drawing symbols and tapping balls and doing all manner of things on the bottom screen while the enemies are having a field day with your party.

I scraped through the three demo fights and thought I was getting the hang of it, then the demo boss wiped me out completely orz. I hear Yo-kai Watch is the premier kids’ franchise in Japan today, but I can’t imagine myself as a kid begging my parents for this. “Please Daddy, make it stop!” is more like it. Still I like the aesthetics enough that I’m up to trying one of the later games with hopefully better gameplay. Very cute stuff.

Stella Glow – The prologue is kinda of talky but… ah, who am I kidding, I LOVE IT! And I love the meatiness of the demo, which is only brought down by the fact that I can’t carry over any save data to the real game. As long as they let me skip the prologue I’ll be very, very happy. In fact I’m very happy already. Bright happy colors, quick snappy gameplay and both Hilda and Lisette are potentially good waifus. If only they would talk a little less… but it’s that kind of game so I’ll roll with it. As a bonus Stella Glow makes me feel better about not liking Summon Night 5. It’s not me, it’s them for sure!

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity – The only failure on this list. I’m not really into Pokemon but I am into easy roguelikes, and I liked the relatively brighter, lighter atmosphere in this one. I would seriously consider playing it but the controls let me down. I got into the first cave and Pikachu would not, could not move. Oh he could turn in place all right, he could try to use moves, he could point diagonally but he just could not move forward. As far as I can tell, the Y button isn’t used for moving but instead the B + Directional Pad, but no amount of pressing and cajoling could make him take a single step forward. ;____; Oh well, there are always the earlier installments. And 3 out of 4 demos ain’t bad.

Now back to the games I should be playing instead of thinking about my next moves.

Games I quit early, 2016 edition

Time for another edition of games that sucked too much to even blog about.

Past editions: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 (there was no 2015 edition)

Crimson Empire ~Circumstances to Serve a Noble~ (PSP) – Otome game about an ex-assassin hired to protect a noble from other assassins. I detest Quinrose games because they always feature the most unlikeable love interests possible, but this game was supposed to have some kind of gameplay in it. It probably does, since I was asked to choose between Easy Mode and Normal Mode at the beginning. But in the two hours I spent alternately reading and fast-forwarding through reams of text, I saw none. Instead I had to sit through a lot of very, very boring and off-putting scenes.

Key lowlights: a demon who can’t stop kissing our heroine even though she’s only about 8 at the time, another guy who casually dislocates our heroine’s shoulder for talking back to him (cue everyone around gushing about how much he must like her since he personally took the time to injure her) and then finally she starts to serve the noble in the title and his first act is to tug on her hair painfully while she screams at him to stop. Okay, thank you, I’m outta here!

Wizardry Asterisk: Hiiro no Fuuin & Wizardry Boukyaku no Isan (DS) – Since I was having so much fun with more modern dungeon-crawlers like Entaku no Seito, I thought it might be fun to explore more traditional ones as well. I started each DS Wizardry game and wandered around the first dungeon for a while but quickly lost interest. I guess I underestimated how much of a graphical snob I was, plus I’ve been spoiled by the high polish of Experience Inc. games. TL;DR the DS Wizardry games were TU;DP (Too Ugly; Didn’t Play).

Ikamono Tantei, also known as Ikatan (DS) – A detective “game” about an agency that handles strange incidents that are deemed too trivial for the police to tackle themselves. For example the first case involved strange deliveries to a woman’s apartment. Deliveries of bulky toys that she had no choice but to store on her balcony, which just happened to be across the alleyway from a children’s hospital…

The premise was good, but the gameplay was pure visual novel, just going around questioning various people before an arbitrary time deadline hit – why is there even a deadline for such petty cases? What killed me was your bossy, pushy partner who was the daughter of your boss or somesuch so you couldn’t cross her but had to let her run roughshod all over you like a cheap mat. Please, spare me.

Sekai wa Ore de Mawatteru (PC) – Free game from Inutoneko, the makers of Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi, Harettari Kumottari N and Kaiyou Resutoran Uminekotei, all of which I loved and enjoyed. This particular game is a Comiket simulation of sorts, where money-grubbing character Shiba tries to make a quick buck by selling photobooks at a doujinshi market. Nothing wrong with the concept, but the gameplay was tedious with a lot of downtime spent waiting around hoping for people to come check out your stuff. A little too lifelike, haha. It probably gets better as you publish higher-quality books and get a name for yourself but the initial stages were too boring to keep me playing.

Farm Heroes Saga (Android) – Match-3 puzzle game with a vegetable gimmick. Shouldn’t really be on this list because I played this game a lot. A LOT. I know I made it past level 400, because that’s where the frogs first appear. I made it through the rabbit stages and the bomb stages and the spider stages, but gross-looking frogs that come in and lick up all your hard work were the last straw. Delete, delete, delete!

Pet Rescue Saga (Android) – Click on groups of blocks to make them vanish so you can get the pets on top all the way to the bottom. Kinda hard, also kinda boring. Even though it’s the one King.com game that you can successfully Google or Youtube your way through, I wasn’t motivated to do even that. Made it to level 50 or so then uninstalled it.

AlphaBetty Saga (Android) – Game where you create words from alphabet blocks. Started out well then got annoying quickly when they introduced word quotas then put all kinds of obstacles like locked blocks and mousetraps in your way to keep you from achieving them. Dropped like a hot bucket.

Candy Crush Saga (Android) Also shouldn’t be on this list since I played past level 1000, but included for closure since I once made a post about it. The levels all felt the same after a while, and then they included bombs one too many times and I just snapped.

Coded Soul: Uketsugareshi Idea (PSP) – Another game I played at length and even wrote about. Included here because I tried to continue it at the end of last year only to realise the magic was gone. I can’t remember what I ever saw in this game. All that lingers is the painful memory of slogging through a long, unsaveable dungeon only to die at the end. Unforgiveable. It’s over between us.

Summon Night Twin Age (DS) – Not sure whether to include it or not, since given my history with Summon Night games I might end up giving it another try. But the touchscreen-only controls were immensely off-putting, so much so that I quit immediately after the very first boss battle. So far it seems like one person auto-attacks while the other person just stands around spamming healing items and trying not to die? Do not like.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (PSP) – Tried this more than two years ago. It had something to do with a regular joe who got his body switched with a demon hunter or something bizarre like that, last thing I recall was my character wandering around a studio lot looking for his girlfriend, I think? The primitive graphics did me in (TU;DP) and the dark premise didn’t help much either. I doubt I’ll ever play it again so… yeah.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS) – I played about 2, 3 hours of this. Enough to make it into some skyscraper or the other and wander around and then stumble into the first boss’s room and die. Part of me wants to go back and level up a bit so I can continue the game but a bigger part of me is like “Meh!” so it goes on this list.

That’s it for last year. I liked it better in 2015 when I didn’t have any games to put on a list like this. Here’s hoping 2017 works out the same way. See you next year!

Happy New Year! No resolutions for 2017, at least for now

Happy New Year everyone! May your 2017 be full of peace and joy and laughter and God’s grace and as few celebrity deaths as possible!

I think the way you ring in the New Year sets the tone for the first month at least, and I spent New Year’s Eve trying out the 7th Dragon III Code: VFD demo (it works great) so we’re off to a good start. This is where I’d want to jump right in and start planning all the other games I’d like to play in 2017 but for once I’m going to hold back, for a number of reasons.

– I still haven’t played most of the games that were on my list last year. They get priority this year where possible.

1. There isn’t much I want to play that isn’t on the 3DS, which is messed up, and the VITA, which I haven’t bought yet but totally will. When I do get one later in the year (God willing) I’ll make a mountain of resolutions for that alone.

2. The few other games are on aged consoles and handhelds and there’s no telling how long any of them will hold up. My PS2 has been threatening to die for years, my DS has been half-broken for almost as long and even the buttons on my formerly strong PSP are starting to feel a little soft and mushy. I don’t want to make a long list of games and then come back all like “Whoops, can’t play this. Can’t play that either.”

3. I’d like to try harder to finish what I start. After I wrote my Legend of Legacy post a few days ago, a new reader asked me “Do you ever finish a game?” “Of course I do,” I protested, innocent tears filling my girlish eyes.* “How could you say that, haven’t you seen my track record?” Then I went back and actually looked at my record for this year and… it’s pretty bad. I only finished 7 games in 2016 as opposed to 15 in 2015 and 25 (!!) in 2014.*Parts of this account may have been slightly embellished.

On one hand it’s not my fault if a game isn’t worth finishing. And it’s only to be expected that my completion rate will drop as I hit the dregs of the gaming selection on my aging systems. And since I’ve been busy IRL these days, I played far fewer games to begin with and thus naturally completed far fewer.

But still! All those excuses aside, there’s plenty of room for improvement in 2017. I need to make better use of my time by picking better games to play in the first place. For example, even if the mountain of bad reviews didn’t give it away, it was obvious within the first hour that Mind Zero was a useless game. I should have quit sooner and started something else. This policy will likely lead to more dropped games, not fewer, but with any luck it allow me to clear out the dreck quicker, leaving more time for the stuff I really enjoy.

That’s the theory, anyway. In practice I’ll probably still end up playing anything that looks good and regretting it, just hopefully at a faster rate than before. I’ll also try to work a little harder at finishing one game before starting a newer, shinier one. That means my goal for January is FFXIII + Summon Night 5 + 7th Dragon III = No looking elsewhere until those are done!! I’ll take the rest of the year on a game by game basis.

Have a fun 2017, everyone!

Can’t play The Legend of Legacy either ;___;

A belated Merry Christmas to everybody! I would have posted earlier, but I was still recovering from pigging out like a piggy thing at our Christmas family reunion. I actually skipped breakfast that morning because I was planning to do a real number on succulent roast chicken and roast pork, but my stomach gave out after the third plate. Traitor!

Since I knew from long years of experience that there’s nothing better for pig-out recovery than a long gaming session, out came the 3DS and on came The Legend of Legacy. And it was going pretty well to begin with. I started with Meurs as my main and explored the Forest Ruins quite thoroughly – I love maps that fill in as you explore. The battles seemed really hard at first, but after a few skirmishes Meurs and Bianca both picked up some extra HP and ATK and everything went much better. Went to the next area, found the Singing Stone, fought the flying boss, beat him on the last attack after both Garnet and Bianca went down like chumps. So far so good.

After that I went back to town, met the Lord-Mayor, got the elemental scale, went back to the dungeons and that’s where the trouble started. Back with Rune Factory 4 the Y button would randomly stick and unstick itself, skipping large bits of text, but it wasn’t that critical to gameplay. Now the button seems to be stuck permanently, so every time I get into a battle the screen pans up to the elemental chart thingy and just stays there. No chance to select anything in battle or even run away or even SEE the options on the screen below. Completely useless. And it’s super weird because Y is also what’s supposed to bring up the menu in town and on the map, but everything’s fine over there. It’s only when I get into battle that everything goes pie-shaped. So Y plus something is off? Is it the touchscreen? Something on that corner of the screen? I just don’t get it. The only thing I could do was turn the game off in sorrow.

I thought the internet would have some good ideas, but Nintendo recommends the toothbrush technique that did diddly-squat for me last time (but I tried it again anyway) and the other solution of dripping rubbing alcohol under the button and pressing it rapidly sounded too risky (but I tried it anyway). All that effort fixed the problem for ONE battle and then it was back to square one. It looks like nothing short of a replacement of all the keys and pads will solve this issue.

In the meantime, I’m going to drown my sorrows in cake, ice cream and more cake. I also downloaded the demos for 7th Dragon III, Stella Glow, Yo-kai Watch and Etrian Odyssey Untold in the hopes at least one of them can be played without triggering that error. But first, cake! And ice cream! And cake! See you *burp* later!

Started Final Fantasy XIII – Exhausting to watch

Actually it’s not Final Fantasy XIII I wanted to play. What I really wanted was FF: Boyband Edition Final Fantasy XV but since I didn’t quite want it enough to buy a PS3/XBOne for, I had to settle for the next best thing, FFXIII on PC. All in all it’s not such a bad trade-off. I had a rough beginning and almost quit a few times early on, but I think I’m in it for the long haul now, hence this brief progress report.

Status: 8 hours and some minutes in, somewhere in chapter 3? 4? Right after Lightning and Hope fight Odin and then finally, finally take a break. I was tired just watching them run and run and run and run and run almost non-stop from the beginning of the game. Run, fight, talk, run, fight, talk, run run fight fight, come on guys, stop to breathe already! Eat something! Drink something! Go to the bathroom! I know they’re video game characters, and I’m all for action-packed beginnings, but 8 straight hours of non-stop running is too much even for me. That was one reason I almost dropped FFXIII early. I couldn’t play for more than 30 minutes at a go before mentally burning out.

The other reason was the horrible battle system, at least at the start. I hesitate to even call it a battle system, because it was just a matter of spamming the auto-attack option until the enemies died and you automatically got a 5-star rating. For doing what? Beats me. Luckily a few hours in someone realized “Whoa, this is terrible!” and added in some stuff about Paradigms (sort of like classes but not quite) and a pseudo-sphere grid thingy called a Crystarium. Paradigms I don’t care too much about, but I’m a huge sucker for upgrade systems where you use points to boost your skills and stats and stuff, so I’m happy there. These two additions haven’t quite made everything hunky-dory yet, but hopefully once I get some more skills and classes and paradigms under my belt – and maybe upgrade some of my weapons and accessories and stuff, things will pick up even further.

Final Fantasy games tend to be 50 hours long at a minimum, so 8 hours is barely scratching the surface. That’s why I’ll save any major complaints for the next report, whenever I get round to it. …Oh, but I can’t resist just a little one: I need more battles! And more boss battles! And also I need the characters to get all their talking out of the way at the start of a dungeon and just let me get on with fighting. It’s annoying to fight a bit then get some pointless flashback, then a little more fighting, another cutscene or flashback, run a few more steps, cutscene, REALLY ruins the pace of the game. Do you mind? I’m trying to get stronger here! FFXIII is probably going to end up like Xenoblade/The Last Story/Arc Rise Fantasia/other similar games where I just suffer through the story to get to the battles. I’m already flirting with the idea of skipping all the cutscenes and reading the story on Wikipedia later.

Incidentally, this isn’t my first brush with Final Fantasy XIII. I watched someone play the first 15minutes several years ago and immediately concluded it wasn’t for me. And I think I was plenty right in that assessment and wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I had played it any earlier. FF is just something I have to be in the mood for, and now that I am in the mood, chances are high that I’ll see this through till the end. And if I like it, that opens the way for me to play XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Win-win for everyone. So don’t mess up, Lightning & the gang!