Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I know it's been forever since my last post. I'm really sorry about that! Haha.
These past few weeks have been beyond hectic, between Spring break, schoolwork, some serious gaming, and an equal mixture of too much and not enough sleep.
Actually, I'm in class right now! It was the only amount of time I could find to give a decent update on here.

I've been playing quite a few different games lately. I've made a small amount of progress in Devil Summoner, but I've placed quite a bit more time over this past week or so in a little game called Street Fighter IV.

Let me begin by saying that I've never been much of a Street Fighter person. As far as fighting games go, I've always found it far too slow, far too technical, and largely overplayed; up until now, that is.
My friend purchased a used copy of this and brought it over. After getting torn apart a good few times, I slowly became more and more obsessed until I decided to sell off a few games I don't play any more to go buy it. I love it. It's as simple as that. I find myself constantly striving to get better and considering the difficulty level of the game, improvement in skill is an absolute must. I've been working my way through Arcade Mode with multiple characters to unlock different things, playing with friends, and venturing into the realm of Online Mode. Now, I'll be the first to say that Online Mode is no walk in the park. It's rare that I find a player that I can beat with ease and honestly, I find myself getting destroyed more often than not. Rather than getting discouraged, though, as frustrating as it is, it just forces me to become a better player.
Reconsidering my preconceived notions of what Street Fighter is, it's only slow when the players don't understand the game mechanics; understanding the game mechanics makes it seem much less technical, and it's widely played for good reason. While upon first glance, especially in comparison to other fighters like Guilty Gear or Dead or Alive, Street Fighter IV appears to less than impressive in terms of speed, but the more you play, the faster it gets. The less button mashing involved, the smoother battles play out and between dodging, blocking, and doing everything in your power to land each of your attacks and catch your enemy off guard, the overall gameplay ends up being more than fast, it's downright chaotic.
Super Combos and Ultra Combos play a very large part in this game and while they can often be blocked with ease, they are the perfect trump card for a player stuck in a tight situation. I've had many a comeback by way of these attacks and I don't believe they're overpowered or unfair. It's all a matter of catching your opponent at the right moment!
Speaking of overpowered, the games character selection is very well balanced; to be expected from such a high caliber fighting game. My characters of choice are both actually female, haha! Sakura and Cammy are my two most played characters in the entire roster.

If I had any gripes with a character, it would be Sagat. The internet as a whole seems to agree; Sagat is vastly overpowered. He has projectiles, long limbs, speed, and to make matters worse, all of his attacks do far too much damage. Not to say that he's an invincible character by any means, but as almost anyone online will tell you, he's probably the easiest character to pick up and win a battle with.

To wrap things up, who wants to play online? My PSN ID is Sharkboyyy. I'm still not that great at the game, but I'm always looking for new friends to duke it out with.

Until next time!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rainy Day Blues

Alas, it's only 5 PM and I'm sitting at home, relaxing. It's unusual for me, but certainly not an unwelcome change of pace.
I've had an incredibly eventful weekend that hasn't exactly provided me with too much time to play video games, but that doesn't mean I haven't used the free time I have had to engage in some (moderately) casual gaming with a few friends.

Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of Dokapon Kingdom. A fantastic place where you and three of your friends can battle enemies (or each other!), discover treasure, save towns, rob stores, and...piss each other off tremendously with a slew of humiliating options. Essentially, it's Mario Party with experience points and a full game takes a considerably longer amount of time to complete. (hell, we haven't even finished our first game) Don't get me wrong, though; Dokapon Kingdom is anything but some sort of clone game. The concept of a board/party game mixed with more conventional RPG elements, such as turn-based battles, character classes, the whole nine yards is fairly innovative to say the least. While it's a formula that could use perfecting, my friends and I haven't had this much fun with a game in ages.

I think the whole humiliation aspect of the game really just adds to the overall entertainment level; I mean, really, who doesn't want to steal their friends' hard-earned cash and goods (not IRL! lolololol), rename them with embarrassing words, or turn their hair into a pile of poop? At $25 used, this game was an absolute bargain and I'm confident my friends and I will all be spending quite a bit of time with it. The worst part is the fact that I have to wait for them to be around to play! (Well, there IS a single player mode, but honestly, I feel as if that kind of destroys the whole point.) Atlus scores another home run!

In other news, I've decided to basically give up on Breath of Fire. My saved game, for whatever reason, has disappeared and reverted back to an earlier point in the game and honestly...I really just don't care enough to bother with it and catch back up to where I was. Oh well, it just leaves room for another game to take its place!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ever get, like, totally hyped up for a boss battle in a game and end up being completely...whelmed?

Yeah, that.

I'm currently on Chapter 8 of Devil Summoner and after spending close to an hour to gain a level or two and max out the loyalty on some of my new demons, I ended up practically destroying what was supposed to be "one of the hardest bosses in the game."
Hard boss my foot! After getting used to his attack pattern, this little bugger was a piece of cake. Really delicious cake, though.

(Thank you, Google, for providing me awesome images all the time.)
Progression feels so good sometimes and the fact that I just destroyed this leafy bastard without problem means I'm ahead of the game -- something I certainly can't complain about. I'll be straight up with you and admit that yes, I've been using an online walkthrough to progress through certain parts faster. As much as I love the game, I really am playing it for completion and sometimes I'm in no mood for some of this silly puzzle nonsense. It's never anything too intense, I just get impatient. Especially when I'm almost 75% through the game! (and you know what that means!!)

(Just kidding! None of this nonsense.)
Once again, I'm really happy that Atlus has taken notice of the fact that the Shin Megami Tensei franchise has a rather extensive fanbase in the USA. They're one of the game companies that seems to have Stateside fans really in mind when they port a lot of the games they do. Sure, a lot of them may be really random and a lot of their releases have been hit or miss, but when it comes down to it, they're one of the best publishers/localizers in the RPG scene right now and they only seem to grow by the day.
I now present you Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. Notice the common theme in titles and content? It's interesting to see a different, more typical anime style artwork in a Shin Megami Tensei title. I wonder if this change in art direction reflects anything about the tone of the game? Only time will tell. Until the release, here's a teaser trailer from Atlus themselves to hold everyone over. Get pumped!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My laptop stays with me at almost all times and since often I'm not in a place where I have a game console at the ready, I decided to start playing through the first game in a fairly prominent RPG series since I had never attempted to before.

Breath of Fire is old-school JRPG to the tee. (lol at the silly American boxart) World maps, turn-based combat, traveling from town to town and buying new equipment along the way, etc. The whole shabang. Honestly, despite the overall simplicity of the title, I think that might be the charm I found in it. It's so rare to find a simple, basic, turn-based RPG these days and every once in a while it's nice to relive the wonder of the 16-bit era. I've completed the first two or three dungeons and I just spent the last hour or so level-grinding and collecting money to buy new armor before advancing on to the next main event.
While I hardly plan to spend as much time with this title as the other games I'm playing, it's nice to have something to do when I've got nothing to play outside of what's on my laptop.

It's good to be able to spend most of my free time enjoying the things I've enjoyed since I was as young as three years old. It just reminds me that no matter how old I get, I'll still have a snippet of my childhood stuck to me for as long as I live!

Now, speaking of replaying first installments in popular series, who else is excited for the PSP remake of the original Persona? I'm personally stoked to finally get to experience this game (on the go, at that!) without having to hunt down and pay large sums of money to obtain a copy of the PSX original. Here's to hoping for a US release! (and with the brimming popularity of Persona 3 and 4, there's no reason there shouldn't be!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

First post!

Well, this is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now.
I figure keeping a blog of the games I'm currently playing and my progress in them will give me incentive to continue and complete each game.
Now, for a quick introduction...
My name is Travis. I'm twenty years old and I reside in North Carolina. I'm a full time Communications student and I work part time as a pizza delivery guy. I love writing and why write about anything other than my first love? Video games! I've had an obsession with collecting and playing video games since my youngest years and my addiction has only grown ever since. I've got a LOT of games under my belt, many that I have yet to even touch, but I've been juggling quite a few lately, so I'll write about those and a few of the ones that have been moved to the backburner.

My primary game at the moment is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army. I've been playing it for about half a month right now and while the story has taken a little bit of time to get rollin', the game has finally taken flight, for lack of better words. To describe the game, mix a Tales-esque battle system with the collection aspect of Pokemon, toss in the occult themes generally found in any other Shin Megami Tensei title, and scramble it all up with some sort of detective/mystery angle and there you go.
I'm going to make sure to try and keep this blog spoiler free to the best of my abilities, so no worries unless I state that there is a possibility for spoilers.
After about a week-long break from the game due to school/work/going out of town, I'm back to playing it in full force. As of this morning, I've re. ached Chapter 7 out of 12, so I'm a little bit over halfway through the game. I've clocked in a good 15 hours and since I have yet to run into a sidequest, I'd say I've been following the main plot as close as one can outside of an hour or two here and there devoted to level-grinding and maxing out loyalty on new demons. (Loyalty is one of the more unique aspects of the game. A demon in your party is unable to be fused or used to its maximum potential until it has reached its maximum loyalty.)
To be blatantly honest, the game is pretty easy. When put in comparison to the other titles in the Shin Megami Tensei series, which as a whole has garnered quite a reputation for its difficulty, it's actually a piece of cake. The boss battles are rarely as difficult as expected, leveling up isn't very time consuming if you're where you should be in the story, and strategy, while present, is hardly an overpowering element of the game.
Despite these things, this is an incredibly addictive title and I just can't seem to put it down.

Moving on from Devil Summoner...

I spent this past weekend out of town and due to the rather lengthy car ride, I kept my PSP handy at all times. Due to the praise surrounding the game and the lack of time I had spent playing it earlier, I decided to continue playing Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. A slightly improved port of the Playstation original, Valkyrie Profile is an RPG unlike any other. You play as Lenneth, who has been sent on a mission to recruit the souls of warriors and other individuals who have passed away for miscellaneous reasons in preparations for a great battle. The story itself is actually very open-ended, as I find that I can go anywhere at any time and really do anything I want to, except for one very important issue. You, the player, are constantly on a time limit of sorts. Each chapter is broken up into 24 periods, periods being spent recruiting new characters in villages or battling your way through dungeons. This sense of urgency is made even more prevalant by the fact everything is counting down to one very important event: the end of the world.
To explain more of the actual gameplay, imagine your typical 2D platformer. All travel outside of the world map takes place in a unique side-scrolling view. Lenneth can jump, shoot crystals that can be used to assist in various situations, and swing her sword at enemies to get the upper hand when initiating battle. Battles themselves, while seemingly simplistic upon first glance, are far more strategic in nature than you might expect. Each character in your party is assigned to a button: X, O, Triangle, and Square. To make a character attack immediately, simply press their corresponding button and they'll jump into action. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Timing is key when executing attacks. Perfectly timing each attack and using each character to his or her potential can have fantastic results; breaking an enemies guard, performing a combo, or initiating an all-powerful special attack to obliterate anyone or anything in your way. Contrarily, poor timing and choice can lead to doing little to no damage at all or even just wasting a turn, only to be pummeled by your enemies.
I am currently about 11 hours into the game, close to the end of the third chapter. Seeing as I went into the game with next to no knowledge of what to do or how to do things, the first few chapters consisted primarily of me "feeling the game out." Actually, I'm still figuring out things that I can and can't do. Since it's a portable game, I haven't played it as frequently, only clocking in an hour or two when I've got nothing to do and my PSP is on hand, but I've made much more steady progress than I expected to.

Sorry that this post is so horribly lengthy, I promise they usually won't be as heavy as this one. I'm going to make it a point to update AT LEAST once a week, if not much more often than that. There are other games I'm playing as well and if it's my first post on a game, I'll give an introduction and description of the ins and outs of it, but as for now, I'll leave it at this.

Until next time!