Join Gillman and Zack as they play through the long awaited, long since announce, MMOFPSRPG Firefall. If you don’t know much about it, don’t worry, neither did Zack. Join us on our education of this new and mystical game. Watch live video from Varms on Twitch
Stark and Gillman are at it again. This week they are playing through a swath of Atelier Escha and Logy. Things go weird and with their minds fully in the gutter after about 20 minutes of play, because of course we do. We hang out for about three hours, starting at 9 AM, and are kind of planning on doing this going forward for awhile because we have nothing better to do. Feel free to join us next week to experience the fun live!
There are some game series out there that seemingly get better with time; which apparently is against the norm for the industry that is only be interested in driving every idea they have into the ground. The overarching Shin Megami Tensei has not only managed to evolve and improve its story telling since it was introduced, but the gameplay and interface doesn’t seem to be afraid to mix things up enough to make it simply not the same game presented a year later. The only real downside that can be mentioned is that the series seems to have an arbitrary naming convention, which when it comes down to it is probably the least of things to fault a JRPG with.
It wasn’t that long ago that almost every SMT game to come out rightfully earned the moniker of being only for the hardest of the hardcore gamer. Over the last decade the series has been slowly stepping away from that, and while some of the challenge remains in additional content or side story quests, most of the game is not much harder than many other classic JRPGs. With this newest addition there is even more of a modification as the game has introduced the ability to change the difficulty level if needed, allowing newer players to reduce the game to an easy mode. The game is now allowing players to continue even after they are killed by buying their way out of Hell with either Macca (in game currency) or Play Coins from their 3DS, although seeing as how it is now possible to save anywhere in the game it seems like it would just make sense to revert to a recent save then shit through the process of losing money.
Mega Ten 4 is also rather well written with an interesting mechanic of fading in and out of focus whoever is talking. The style of the story telling works rather well on the 3DS, and most segments are fully or partially voiced in some way. While the story focuses on several new recruit Samurai, basically the local cops of the area, it quickly spreads from that and establishes the world around it as something that is living and breathing. It isn’t enough to follow the heroes as they stumble through the world, the game also introduces a weird dichotomy between haves and have nots in society, and even a world where people don’t know about literature. It isn’t so much painting a story about strong willed heroes going on an adventure in a new world, it is a fantastically realized world in which these people find themselves on an adventure.
The battle mechanics of the game are relatively similar to what they have been in the past, turn based combat where the player’s goal most of the time is to hit the enemy’s elemental weakness to cause the most damage and gain an extra move. This time around the heroes’ team fights first, then the foes have a turn, and back and forth until one side either dies or is recruited by the player. One of the larger differences this time is that the NPCs that will randomly escort the player through an area will join in the battle, although they only engage in random attacks. The largest change is the way that merging demons works, in that the game presents “recommendations” for what it thinks that the player should have at that moment, strangely most of which are normally pretty good about being very useful in a given area. It is possible to look through a list of possible fusions, but it does normally require a little digging to find it.
For anyone who is a fan of JRPGS with a 3DS should run out and buy this game, and anyone who doesn’t own a 3DS and enjoys the genre should really start considering buying one. Not only are there enough great games out for the system, but the entire venture has officially reached a tipping point to where it is easy to point to one game and declare that is why you bought the handheld. That game is Shin Megami Tensei IV. It is out now and it is worth every penny that they are charging for it.
Oddly this series, and all of its off-shoots, have really enjoyed finding as many hard to pronounce words as they can and forcing people to say them back to back when they are talking about the series. To make matters even worse the series pretty much has tendrils of spin-offs that stretch in amazingly confusing ways, to the point that there are 13 games that fall under the “core” category and several “side” series as well—not to mention the fact that enough of the elements fall into other titles by the same company that they could almost be considered part of the series. Although, for most of the core games, there are a couple of things that break them apart from the others—namely:
You can pretty much do what you want
The game is based around an alchemist that wants to become an adventurer, oddly combining probably the two most dangerous jobs known to fantasy based man –mixing items to make other items, the results of which can and will randomly explode, and hunting and killing monsters. If that wasn’t enough, because it is from Japan, there is a large social element in it where the player gains gameplay bonuses for impressing their friends by how fantastic they are at life –which is great, because I know that when I am taking down a giant and possibly demon possessed jelly blob I love listening to my friends talk about robot cats on the way out of town. All that said the game is pretty good about letting you progress through it exactly how you want; want to make Totori out to be a reclusive “herbal” expert there is a way to do that and still beat it, want to make her some battle-hardened veteran—there isn’t anything besides common sense and her genetic disposition to breaking easily stopping you. While that sounds great there really is a sweet spot between those things, mainly making battle/healing items and exploring dangerous areas for better material to make better items for battle.
Although it should be brought up that while doing this:
There is a massive time constraint
After the tutorial ends the player is directly told that they have three, in game, years to achieve the highest ranking of adventurer that they can or their license—and right to explore things, I guess—will be revoked. That said everything done in the game takes an allotted amount of time, using the alchemy the series is based on requires a set amount of time, traveling from place to place takes time, and even some random events that happen in towns take time. The odd thing is that while the game is still rather easy and gives way more time than is needed, without the time limit the game would be impossibly easy. It basically asks if the player is going to spend the in-game time grinding experience from easier monster, or if that time instead be used to make a massive bomb that could take out some vastly higher level creatures for ten times the experience instead—mainly because most of the items in the game are stupidly powerful enough that there is always a way to make a bigger bomb to take out an enemy in one attack—which makes time management one of Japanese quickest growing sub-genres.
That taken into account; most people are going to miss something on the first play through, which makes sense because:
You aren’t supposed to beat it just once
Ignoring the time constraint reasoning, the game has a crazy amount of endings—several of which I believe Stark referred to as “mega yuri”, which I took to meaning the “good ones”. A surprising amount of things aren’t carried over to the start of the new game, boiling down to equipment and money—although that kind of is the “progress” in the game the same way that experience is in other games. While this isn’t the same as allowing the characters to carry the various weapons of mass destruction that the items become in the late game over with them, or even the means to make them, it comes pretty close to that—and could even be considered a significant speeding towards that. Sure, there are ways to min max the entire experience on the first play, but that seems more like sticking strictly to someone else’s schedule so closely that it feels more like watching some else’s game than anything. Also, most of that type of play is supposed to be earned, so learn your place.
This isn’t a terrible thing because:
It is a rather short RPG
I love role playing, even more when it is in game format. My main problem is that most of these games seem to like taking 40 hours to complete a single story arch, which is great when I only have one thing to play, but when eight of them are coming out a year I normally have other things to do instead of playing them all, like eat – a lot. The concept of the a game with new game + is that people are probably going to miss something in the game while play it, even if it is a small side story arch, and most of the audience is going to want to go and see that somehow. The time limit makes it hard because it makes missing things entirely possible, but the replay means that most of these things can be found and exploited to the fullest in a relatively easy manner, much like most of my high school girlfriends. This is awesome, because in the time it takes to beat a middling RPG Totori can be played about three times–each of them way better than most other games peak at.
This week we talk about Blaster Master and everything awesome that has involved with it.
I would love to blame this podcast going up late on my new job, but the truth of the matter is that I have just been sitting on possibly some of the easiest to edit content that we may have ever recorded. I don’t know why it hasn’t gotten upload, and you can blame that entirely on me. Besides the standard block of video game talk we also discuss important things like anime and old movies that no one besides the two of us would ever care about. You know, the things that really matter in life.
Also, tell us how you feel about the new– much longer– format. We always love reading any and all fan feedback.