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  1. Last month saw the first anniversary of what marked the beginning of the MeToo movement, which were the sexual abuse accusations on Harvey Weinstein. From there, the #MeToo movement spread amongst women in showbiz across the United States and eventually other countries as well. It highlighted how women in showbiz can be vulnerable under sexual exploitation in Hollywood, and encouraged women to speak up against it. Japan did not see the same level of activity in the MeToo movement, where the wrong kind of conservatism prevails in my home country. However, there are three cases that spoke out against it (and possibly more that I am unaware about). The first, and ongoing one is a journalist named Ito Shiori who was raped by a senior journalist. The second, and more relevant to this, was Perfect Blue, an animated movie which is a story of an ex-idol's desparate attempt to further her career in showbiz, and discussed sexual exploitation in showbiz years before MeToo did. The third one, which basically dropped the same anvil as the second one (albeit in a much more family-friendly manner with a happier ending) was Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The Gameplay Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a rhythm and dancing game with a "Where are they now" story after the canon epilogue of Persona 4 Golden. As a persona who has only passing interest in dancing games, this was perhaps the only one that I actually was interested in, and played fairly extensively. And considering that, the game was easy enough to get used to. The interface and controls were intiutive, with the notes spreading outwards, indicating which outer buttons on the PS Vita I need to press or hold down, and it was easy to follow the notes. You can play the various songs from various Persona 4 entries, with many remixed by various Japanese artists, in which they appear at certain points in Story Mode, or as a score attack in Free Mode. Bonuses for high scores and story mode progressions appear in the form of extra costumes which you can buy using in-game currency in this game's versions' Tanaka's Amazing Commodities, or pay and download via DLC. As for the difficulty of this game, it is very easy to get used to (as mentioned before), yet very difficult to master. There are four modes in score attack, which are Easy, Normal, Hard, and All Night. Easy is very much for beginners to the genre, while Normal is also managable. The former two settings are also the modes available in Story Mode, which means that you can enjoy the story without having blisters on your fingers. On the other hand, Hard is quite challenging, while only the best rhythm gamers will be able to even have a go at All Night, let alone master this difficulty setting. So far, this sounds like what a good rhythm game should be. So why did I pick up this game and not, say, Dance Dance Revolution, or even Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight? Story Part 1: Overview What Persona 4: Dancing All Night had which others lacked is a story - while less substantial than the main game, was nevertheless a story very much worth watching, and was the main reason I got into this game. So Rise Kujikawa, the J-Pop idol who went back to the city (presumably Tokyo) after her adventures in Persona 4 (Golden), and was going to join an all-star concert with the upcoming Kanamin Kitchen as her comeback debut. And she wants Yu Narukami and his friends from their old school (who all solved the serial murders together) join in as backup dancers for her debut. However, the game soon takes a darker turn which focuses on the other idols gone missing, and it is up to the Yu and his Investigation Team to solve the case. Yes, sure, there is quite a lot of fanservice in this game, but the story is much more than that; it probably helped me appreciate some of the basic aspects of the MeToo movement, and Atlus should be commended for not shying away . Zhiqing Wan has wrote a review that I almost wholeheartely agree with, so expect a number of quotes from her. (I strongly urge readers to read her review too.) One of Dancing All Night's discussion is the dark side of people's true self versus people's perceptions. Wan wrote: Dancing All Night follows a slightly different path and instead deals with issues like meeting the expectations of others, and putting on a façade or adopting an entirely different personality so as to be accepted by the majority. Suddenly, the very notion of bringing pop idols into the silly mix of jumping into different dimensions and ‘dancing’ Shadows to death seems completely rational and not out of place at all. [omitted]...Dancing All Night brings back the personal connection we all felt when we played the original Persona 4 for the first time back on the PS2. How many times have we felt unappreciated or unloved for being ourselves? And how often have we tried to change who we are just to fit societal expectations? Persona 4: Dancing All Night tackles these questions with finesse and, just like Persona 4, proves to be a very human game that we can latch onto easily. I can very much relate to the above paragraph that Wan wrote, as I had a similar issue with my classmates. Back in 1997, my family and I returned to our hometown of Tokyo from San Francisco, where my dad worked as a bank's branch manager. And the conformist Japanese classroom was as such that I felt punished for acting assertive or even honest, whether it was through the regimented curriculum, or the bullying I experienced from my classmates. It felt like Atlus questioned the usage of tatemae (the veneer we all have in our lives) versus honne (our real opinions) in modern Japanese society, and how we should be not afraid to be more honest with ourselves. Story Part 2: J-Pop Idols and sexual exploitation The other moral that Atlus explored was the lives of Japanese pop idols. This is the industry where older people (mainly men) are attracted to the idols, which we see has some of the strictest lifestyles of Japanese professionals (both private and public). Wan described it succinctly here: As happy and cheery as the game’s box art looks, Dancing All Night doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to exploring the lives of Japanese pop idols either. There are a few narrative sequences in the game where we get to witness the emotional turmoil of the four Kanamin Kitchen girls, and the struggles they face within the industry. These sequences are all incredibly stylized within the game, of course, but just like in Perfect Blue, it’s shockingly easy to draw parallels between the in-game events and real life itself. The story's critique got me curious and I had a look at some of the stuff that idols had to go through. Many of the idols have to follow codes of behaviour that demands a high level of politeness and purity: the extent that bans having boyfriends and requires prior permission to marry. One idol member from AKB48 shaved her head and made a public apology for going out with a boyfriend - something many of us do as part of our teenage lives. Even worse, unlike stars on the Disney Channel which at least has the justification that they are starring on a children's show, the situation surrounding the J-Pop idols are basically the hypocrisy of the managers and audiences alike. Hannah Lee, a Law/Asian Studies student from Australian National University writes, for example: Most fans who follow groups like AKB48 are middle-aged men. The idols themselves are teenagers, who begin performing at around 13 years old. Idols are often presented in cute school outfits and perform in synchronised groups. Whilst sexualisation of women is not limited to Japan, Japanese idol groups specifically pander to a young girl fetish, which is encouraged for the sake of record sales. But what young girl would ever consent to this? If consent is ‘free and informed’, there is simply is no way that a girl, at 12 years old, can knowingly consent to being sexualised by men four times her age. Equally disturbing is the fact that this idol fad came as the counter-response to the first wave of Japanese feminism in the 1970s (referenced from the link). Japan Subculture Research Center describe's AKB48's founder, Yasushi Akimoto, as follows: Yasushi Akimoto was a Zegen [sex merchant] with a vision – having never been popular in high school himself, he recognized the deep sexual frustration and vast need for sexual fantasies festering in the educated and dateless Japanese male. When he came out with “Onyanko Club” in the mid-1980s, people were blinded by the sheer genius of this man. Here he was, peddling quite ordinary high school girls on TV, who all got up on the studio stage to teasingly sing “oh please don’t take my school uniform off, no-no-no!” to an audience who could never hear such titillating pleas when they were 18 so was totally stoked to hear it now, from a gaggle of winking girls all beckoning SIMULTANEOUSLY. And perhaps not as obvious, but also a question that I have is this: Why do many Japanese VAs for anime tend to voice female characters like chipmunks when the majority of females in real life don't sound like the saccharine, cutesy voices? The only times I remember hearing pitch ranges that are not absurdly high in Japanese animations are perhaps Naoto or Yukiko in Persona 4, or the Japanese dubs from Disney. Through many of the articles, I now understand why Atlus was so critical about the idol industry. And the above mentioned are just the articles written in English - there are more on that on Japanese news sites. As for myself: While I enjoyed watching the so called gravure idols in their swimsuits (and to some extent still do), this has made me have second thoughts about the stuff they possibly have to go through. The game (and the subsequent research) was quite enough to make me feel uncomfortable about myself, and acknowledge that I have my fair share of misogyny that I may have contributed. And my thoughts do not end here. While Atlus was warning people about the dark side of the idol industry in particular, it was perhaps also warning us about the dark side of sexual exploitation in showbiz in general. And this game was released a couple of years before the Weinstein scandal had its cover blown in 2017. Granted, it probably did not have the effect in kicking off the MeToo movement anywhere near the level of other factors, and it definitely has not in Japan, sadly. But I cannot help but think about how the release had such perfect timing. The other thing is that the English localisation had a response in implying a possible reconstruction of the idol's role. While a lot of people seem to miss Laura Bailey as Rise's English VA, I actually welcome the more mature treatment of Rise by her new VA, Ashly Burch. It seems like Rise asked her agency for permission to assume a more mature persona for her new idol role instead of the airhead-ish role of her old idol persona, and it seemed like she did so assertively too. It's a very good thing, considering how idols should be able to grow up and be more independent like the rest of us. Conversely, it's to my high disappointment (and my only disappointment in this game) that the Japanese original of the game did not do so in the first place - either Rie Kugimiya (the Japanese VA) should have toned down the chipmunky voice Rise turned out as, or Atlus should have casted someone else to sound more in-line with Ashly Burch. Story Part 3: Other comments There are also some interesting tidbits to read from the characters speeches as well. The characters don't get much character development per se, partly because the story only takes 2-3 in-universe days at most, and also because I think, understandably, everyone in general wants to be more like silly, carefree teenagers after their harrowing work in solving the serial murders in the prequel. This particularly applies to Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko, as they are in their final year in high school and will be having their university/job entrance exams soon - this is their last opportunity before they need to get serious again. However, there are many retrospective reflections that come into play when they interact with each others, and with the idols they are saving and befriending. Many are very heartwarming and awesome to see, precisely because of how they reflected upon their own issues, and how their generally honest interactions with each other over the past year in the prequel strengthened their friendships, and how they became more confident with each other. And for that, there is Persona 4 Golden which is the prequel (and the main story) everyone should play before this game, as they won't be able to appreciate Dancing All Night's story otherwise. (See here for my reviews of that game.) Both this and the prequel are on PS Vita, so if you can play this game, you practically have no excuse to not get Golden! Special props goes to Uncle Ryotaro and Nanako Dojima: Conclusion So there you have it. If there was a game that not only wrote a story worth reading, but highlights some of the social issues Japan's biggest fad has tucked away conveniently, this is the game. I encourage everyone to either borrow a friend's copy of Dancing All Night (or even better buy a copy, but not before understanding the story of Persona 4 Golden) and look up "the dark side of japanese idol industry" on Google. And maybe spread the word. I'm not sure how I myself can do to address the issue that Dancing All Night rightly raises apart from acknowledging my contribution to misogyny, but at least I can say that Atlus has done a great service in raising the social issue, and they should not be ashamed for it. Verdict: Buy the game, and look up the info on the social issues. (But play P4G first!)
  2. As the title says above, who here reads/trust reviews from critics/reviewers before deciding to purchase a game? It can be anyone - professionals from say IGN or Kotaku, to reviewers from their Youtube channels, or even from forum members' reviews. And what were the ones that were good or otherwise? While I am not going to elaborate too much (as it is 3am local time), SuperButterBuns from Youtube was definitely one factor that prompted me to make the purchases for Persona 3 (Portable) and 4 (the other factor being playing a bit of Tokyo Mirage Sessions and loving that, no less) and her review of Catherine also solidified my decision to get Catherine: Full Body next year, and maybe FF12 some time after. While I generally get opinions from others as well, I say she's very entertaining, and goes in-depth in the reasons for recommendations.
  3. So, I just got back from another run of Birthright, and it amazes me how toxic the community is over Fates. I will acknowledge that the game CERTAINLY isn't perfect. And while I will say that Birthright is the best path in my opinion, due to balance and plot reasons, people are just destined to argue over the game for all eternity. But is it really that horrible? Well, Conquest and Revelations are pretty bad balance-wise, and Conquest is even worse in the plot department. But I digress, because Birthright is one of the best games I have played, personally. So, let me explain this to you guys. First, I didn't try too hard to compare it to the rest of the series. And that seems to be what's earning this game, as well as Awakening, negativity in the community. Don't think of it as much as a Fire Emblem game, and especially don't try to compare it to Blazing Blade or Radiant Dawn; you'll almost certainly be disappointed. But think of it as a standalone experience. Here's my analysis: I thought the game was BRILLIANT. The setup was amazing; the whole "pick a family" dynamic was just so cruel, it was good. As you know, this IS a Birthright analysis, so I would choose Hoshido. And this, dear readers, is where the fun begins. For convenience, I've sorted my review into four main categories; characters, gameplay, story, and map design. For the purpose of this review, I'm playing Classic Normal, and I've also decided to use female Corrin, because personally, I generally prefer her to male Corrin. Section 1: Characters Section 2: Gameplay Section 3: Story Section 4: Map Design So with all of that in mind (and keep in mind, this IS my opinion), I give the game a 3/5 on my part. I'm planning on picking up Awakening next, and if it's anything like what I've heard (similar to Birthright, but better), I'll probably enjoy it. But what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
  4. After hearing a lot of things from this game, I decided to finally try it out. I love a lot of games from the SNES era, and I have my favourite Fire Emblem games, so it seems logical to try out one of the biggest titles in the series. I wouldn't go back to play the games from the NES era, so this is the oldest title I'm going to ever touch, but let's just see how much it was worth it for me. First of all, the plot and characters. Whenever I watch a movie or play a game (especially one which is story based), I'm expecting good things out of it. I think characters are very important to make a memorable plot, so if I see a movie with bad characters, the plot is already a lost cause. In Fire Emblem games the story usually doesn't capture me that much, but I had some fun with the Binding Blade storyline. It was pretty simple, yet it worked well for that title. With a fun roster of characters. Now Genealogy of the Holy War has a story that is waaaay better than any other FE games have, and I'm expecting that it's going to stay the best storyline in the series - but prove me wrong. There are interesting characters, conflicts and lots of possibilities. So if you like the story, you might play the story over. But it's a game first, so it's also very important to look on how the gameplay and the balance is. At first I really like the villages and the huge maps we can go through. Quickly learned how holy weapons are making units broken compared to everyone else. I also really like how I can work on the relationship of my units, and I am actually thinking right now how I can achieve a more satisfying ending. But as an old FE title, it doesn't have everything right. The trading through Pawnbroker is bad. If the game doesn't want us to trade on the battlefield, that's ok - but at least give a better mean to give the items I want to the character who actually needs them. The fact that enemy units have infinite usage on all items is really annoying, especially with all those ballistas, sleep staffs and bolting tomes they have. The game really loves the brave weapons in the end, which also doesn't make it easier for us. But my biggest like and dislike is the map design. It's really nice how we can see every corner of Judgral, but forest and desert tiles restricting movement to 2-3 moves on huge maps like this is really bothering, and makes me question if I want to play it again. It's especially bad on the Silesse map, where half the squad can't even go to the other side of the mountain to conquer the final castles. The Arena also fun, but when you have it at the start of every map, and you want to go through it with all 20 characters, it's just too much grinding. But it feels like you need that to stay competitive, so it's also a bad thing. I had some issue with the brigand raids, because sometimes I would reach those brigands with a flier unit in time, unless the maps plot armor wouldn't block my path with yellow blocks. After experiencing that, I just couldn't care less about rescuing villages. I could farm enough gold from the Arena anyway. If they would remake the game and would fix the issue, they should also split it into more maps. Some maps feels like 5 Fire Emblem map in one, and I'd feel better if we could get some breething time between some of the battles. Chapter 2 had too much turns just to backtrack to the other end of Agustria for example. These things hurt the replayability of the game, which has so many possibilities. (Lewyn and Erin paired up gives you one of the most broken units, also Ares is a champ)
  5. Alright, I typically don’t write reviews. However, Xenogears is an amazing game so I wanted to go in depth with my thoughts on the game. WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! However, said spoilers will be hidden, so if you haven’t beaten the game yet, you can safely keep reading and just skip the spoilery-bits. I apologize if this review feels half-assed or unprofessional or something, again, I’m not really good at these. Story Even before playing Xenogears, I have heard how much of a masterpiece it’s story is. So naturally, that the biggest thing I was looking forward to when I played this game. And you know what? This story is a masterpiece. Easily on the level of Xenoblade 1 or even higher than that. The opening cutscene had me intrigued from the start and while the Kislev arc was pretty slow, I still found myself wanting to keep playing. I’ve heard about the complexity of Xenogears’ story but I didn’t see it at first. I’m one that tends to look at things at face value. However, after reading about the themes and topics of the game, I came to appreciate it more and holy shit, there’s a lot. There’s the obvious stuff like religion, which every Xeno game has, but then you get to stuff like the deeper meaning of society, human nature, sexuality, technology and it’s role and more. It’s definitely a game that requires you to play it more than once to fully understand it (but it’s a Xeno game, why wouldn’t you play it more than once?) There were somethings I didn’t like about the story though. Some of it can be chalked up to the incompleteness of Disc 2 but even in Disc 1, I found myself going “why”? Characters Fei’s got some great character development Fei’s also a pretty likable protagonist. I can’t compare him to Shion or KOS-MOS as I haven’t played the Xenosaga Trilogy yet but compared to Shulk and Rex, I do feel he’s more complex and better written than those two (though in terms of likability, I personally still think Rex wins in that part). Then there’s the rest of the playable cast. Citan, Elly, Bart, Rico, Billy, Maria, Chu-Chu, and Citan was a great mentor figure and I liked his personality. I like to compare him to Dunban. Just like how Dunban is a mentor figure to Shulk, Citan is a mentor figure to Fei. Next up is Elly, the love interest of the game. Before playing the game, I’ve heard that Fei and Elly were one of the best couples in both the Xeno series and gaming in general, beating out Xenoblade 1’s Shulk and Fiora and Xenoblade 2’s Rex and Pyra/Mythra. Listen, people weren’t wrong when they said that. I can 100% agree that Fei x Elly is the best ship. It starts of slowly and develops, but then As for Elly herself, she’s a great character. I was surprised to see her temporarily leave early in the game Elly is best girl. Best boy is Bart. Bart’s such a great character. I love how he can be both funny (“BART MISSILES!") and serious when the time calls for it. Because of that, he reminds me of Xenoblade 2’s Zeke, especially since both of them wear an eyepatch and I also think he’s got the best design out of the main cast. Also, I found out that he personally customized his Gear, Brigandier, to have a an eyepatch over the left camera and that sounds like it would be a bad idea but it clearly shows Bart’s personality and I love it. Rico, the first demi-human that we see in the game. I actually didn’t think Rico would be playable. I figured he would be important but didn’t think he would join. He’s definitely the brute force party member, which helped out quite honestly. Personality-wise, it was interesting but besides that, I don’t have much to say. I liked him as a character but Rico starts a trend with the following party members and that is that, once his story arc is done, he becomes irrelevant unless he’s in the party. And if he’s not in the party, then he only becomes relevant when something affects the entire group or him specifically. Billy is the next character on our list. Gameplay-wise, he reminded me a lot of Melia in Xenoblade 1 in how they both have this learning curve to them. I personally didn’t like Billy’s gameplay-style so I didn’t use him that much. He’s a great healer though, since he doesn’t have to use up a turn like Citan in order to heal the entire party. Billy is underdeveloped though. I liked him as a character and was nice but past that, like Rico, there isn’t much to say. He pretty much drops off of the radar after his arc is done, unless he’s in the party. Maria is both the weakest and one of the strongest characters in the game. I used her less than Billy because she can’t learn Deathblows but when it came to Gear fights, I tended to bring her along because her Gear, Siebzehn, is OP as fuck. Character-wise, like Rico and Billy above, there isn’t much to say. Likable character but her relevancy drops immensely after her character arc. She only has eight mandatory lines in Disc 2. Eight! EIGHT! Still, I liked her. Chu-Chu. I actually have not much to say. Chu-Chu surprised the fuck out of me but beyond that, I felt that I couldn’t really take Chu-Chu seriously. She’s the mascot of Xenogears, similar to the Nopon in Xenoblade, but unlike the Nopon, I didn’t find myself caring about Chu-Chu that much. I do appreciate that she can heal Gears but we’ll get to that. Compared to Riki in Xenoblade 1 and especially Tora in Xenoblade 2, Chu-Chu just…..exists, I guess. Again, I didn’t really care about her. She’s better than Tatsu from Xenoblade X though. Everyone is better than Tatsu. And then there’s the rest of the cast. I won’t go into too much detail since there’s a lot but I’ll be sure to talk about the villains. Margie was really nice (also, why does a non-playable character have more relevance than a majority of the party). Her relationship with Bart was well done and she did more things in the story than I was expecting. Sigurd’s cool. Maison was cool. Jesaiah had potential but he basically doesn’t exist in Disc 2. I really liked Hammer The Villains Grahf had an interesting backstory, I just wish I got to fight him more often. Ramsus was pretty great. He starts off as this calm-headed individual who slowly becomes more and more aggressive over the course of the game Miang Krellain was also an interesting character Gameplay Overall, I enjoyed Xenogears’ gameplay. While I do prefer Xenoblade gameplay, Xenogears’ gameplay was still fun. It was more than just a simple turn-based JRPG. There was a kind-of fighting game mechanic in how you use the Deathblows. Gear battles were fun too though I do feel they were inferior to on-foot battles. The difficulty itself wasn’t that hard, at least for on-foot battles. The only times I really had to use revival items was when I got hit by those instant-death moves. On to Gear combat though, while I liked it, my biggest gripe is that you’re unable to heal Gears mid-combat unless you have HP Frames equipped. If you didn’t have them, you were basically fucked when the game starts throwing boss rushes at you/you temporarily get locked out of the world map a few times. So like, I just turned on infinite Gear HP cheats out of spite. Also, for on-foot combat, this is benefit of the doubt but I wouldn’t have known about how Deathblows work if someone didn’t tell me. I say it’s benefit of the doubt because it was maybe in the game’s manual. I emulated the game so I didn’t have access to it. My other two gripes with the gameplay are the camera and the sense of direction. I got lost so many times and I had to look up a walkthrough just to find out how to progress. With the exception of the Kislev sewers, that one dungeon in Shevat, and the final dungeon, there are no dungeon maps (and for the former two, you have to actually find the maps). So whenever I found items and stuff, I didn’t find them because I was exploring the dungeon, I found them because I got lost and just happened to stumble across it. However, these gripes can easily be chalked up to the game’s age. A remake should easily fix those issues. The gameplay is still great, it just really shows it’s age sometimes. Music Xenogears soundtrack is great. Perhaps not God-tier like the soundtracks in the Xenoblade games but still great. Easily has some of my favorite town themes. (Thames is my favorite). Also, y’all talk about the Oblivia and Mor Ardain themes but no one ever talks about Dazil, the original Xeno desert theme. The battle theme, I felt was alright. It didn’t stand out that much. Knights of Fire (the boss theme), however, is great and it WILL get stuck in your head. Every night in my dreams, I hear “total sentence imposed is ten”. It’s an amazing song. Some of the event themes were pretty cool. But you know what part of the soundtrack is God-tier? The ending theme. Like, even if you have no interest in playing Xenogears, go listen to the ending theme. It’s called Small Two of Pieces. Stars of Tears is also a God-tier song that unfortunately isn’t heard in the game. An instrumental version is used as the overworld theme though. References Ok so this part is where I realized how much Xenogears references where in Xenoblade 2 and as such, there WILL be spoilers for both games. But also, this part is really only for those who’ve beaten both games. I would like for people who haven’t to find out themselves by playing. But honestly, playing Gears had me appreciate the rest of the series even more. Final thoughts So yeah, this game is a JRPG masterpiece and if you haven’t played it, you should. As for where I would rank it compared to the other Xeno games, well, I’ve only played Xenogears, Xenoblade 1, and Xenoblade 2. I haven't played X or the Xenosaga Trilogy but X will be in some of the rankings below since i'm decently familiar with it. Story: Xenogears=Xenoblade>Xenoblade 2>>Xenoblade X Characters: Xenoblade 2>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears (but Fei x Elly>>Shulk x Fiora>Rex x Pyra/Mythra) Gameplay: Xenoblade 2>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears Music: Xenoblade 2>>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears>Xenoblade X (but Small Two of Pieces>Beyond the Sky=One Last You) Overall: there is no ranking overall, I love them all equally. I mean, Xenoblade 2 is still my favorite but that’s only because one of them has to be the favorite. Of the three Xeno games I’ve played, they are all masterpieces. You can’t rank masterpieces. You can rank their individual parts but you can’t rank the overall package. These games are just that good. Now time to wait for the prequels and sequels to Xenogears that will never happen. Edit: I just realized that i posted this on the 20th anniversary of the game (in Japan, as it's already February 11th over there). Talk about timing.
  6. A bit of context: In recent years, I have been playing a lot of Zelda games. While I first played Link's Awakening in 1996-7, and the Oracle Games in 2002-2003, it wasn't until recently that I started to appreciate the story and gameplay of the franchise. Last year, I completed Ocarina of Time 3DS; earlier this year, I played and experienced the various stories within Majora's Mask, and saw myself wage war in an epic series of battles from Hyrule Warriors. For the future, I am looking forward to play the classics from GC and Wii, that are Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. Right now, I am playing Spirit Tracks, and sadly, this has been disappointing. In particular both the story and the gameplay seemed quite mediocre/underwhelming at best compared to other titles I have played. While I am at a point just before the final battle, I am considering ditching the adventure altogether. For gameplay, while there were some good bits, including the very fact that I get to be a train driver, I had a lot of trouble with the controls. It was awkward having to use the touch screen to run, slash, and dodge, as sometimes if the stylus touches the screen wrong, Link would do a different action to what I want him to do, for example, Link accidentally bumping into an enemy when I wanted him to slash the enemy instead. What made this worse was the lack of an option for some basic button controls that was the standard in the other two 2D games I played. Having played the other games, I saw myself fumbling with the controls due to said reason, and such design in controlling link felt very unintuitive, not to mention unreliable. And I found this a huge problem against bosses, when I needed Link to both dodge and attack. While I am not sure about Skyward Sword's alleged gameplay problems, I am really glad that the touch-screen exclusivity has remained a DS-specific gimmick. At least if the story was good and memorable, then it would be easier for me to overlook the bad gameplay. Unfortunately, the story in Spirit Tracks wasn't compelling enough. The main story seemed to be just a variation of Link saving the damsel in distress from a maniacally evil villain (that is also nowhere near as epic as Ganondorf) - though to its credit, Zelda did have her moments to shine. There also seemed to be a lack of backstory and interesting lore explaining how the Zeldaverse transitioned from Wind Waker to Spirit Tracks, which was another minus, especially considering that the sequel-prequel connection was, I think, more explicit here. I admit, I cheated myself and saw the boss fight in Youtube, but I'm starting to think that the story and its conclusion isn't worth what I see as an even worse version of yet another frustrating gameplay shitfight. Other games I played had something substantial to contribute to my experience: Link's Awakening had a surprisingly compelling story, which seemingly featured a standard "Link's quest to defeat an evil villain", but also showed the warning of the consequences in which defeating the Nightmare would also make Koholint Island disappear, including those Link befriended. While I found the difficulty was generally higher than the later games, everything seemed intuitive once I got used to them. While I can't comment on the N64 version, the 3DS remakes of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask had gameplay controls that I got used to easily, and both had memorable stories. Ocarina of Time was essentially an simple, yet effective analogy of having to face the fears of growing up, while Majora's Mask really focused on the backstories of the various characters, and how the lunar doomsday psychologically affected them. Both also had genuinely scary moments; something that I found missing in Spirit Tracks. Hyrule Warriors may not have a compelling story as those mentioned above, but even it had its good moments, such as Zelda, Impa, and others being just as badass as Link is, an actual evil campaign arc featuring Ganondorf as the arc's protagonist, and even him outright winning against Link and Zelda in an open fight for the first time in the franchise's real-life history - and one that you can witness directly yourself. (And this happened despite Link and Zelda having parts of the Triforce!) The sheer scale of the battles and the bombastic orchestral music gives a great epic feeling. And the gameplay is, again, easy to learn, yet still a challenge to master, and is a lot of actual fun trying to go all-out Rambo-style. Compared to the above-mentioned, Spirit Tracks just does not give me the patience to engage the final boss anymore.
  7. First of all: I've never ever done a reiew before, so constructive criticism is appreciated to learn from it. I think it's time to review the videogame which has inspired me probably the most in my life yet. It introduced me into one of the most exciting videogame franchises and to this forum. It is Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn, the 10th part of this series, and the sequel of Path of Radiance. Story RD plays three years after Daein's and King Ashnard's fall. In this game you control different parties who have their own independent task and intentions. Each party has a lord, to be more precise a main character who may not die in their part. The first part deals with Daein. The Dawn Brigade with their leader Micaiah tries to free Daein from Begnion's cruel occupation. Begnion's leader tries to prevent it with all the possibilities he has without any consideration towards the Daeins and his own men. Micaiah has the hard task to stop Begnion's cruel schemings. His childhood friend Sothe (familar character from Path of Radiance) fights along side with her. Otherwise you'll see some new faces in the beginning and some familar characters later on. Part two is about Crimea's restore after the war against Daein. Elincia, the new and still unexperienced queen of Crimea, tries to look for freedom with Daein. However the nobles are scared that Daein takes the chance after its recovery to start a war against Crimea once again. This scepticism and fear propagate to the simple folk who start a rebellion against Elincia. The leader of the rebellion tries by all means (including hostage taking) to dethrone Elincia. The Crimean Knights have the task to stop this guy and to bring freedom back among the Crimeans. All units except for one are familar. In part three you control all three parties including the last one, the Greil's Mercenaries with their leader Ike. They also fight against Begnion but for a different reason. They support the Laguz because it came to light that Begnion is responsible for the burning in Serenesforest and the death of the former empress. As consequence the established Alliance of Laguz declared war against Begnion. The problem is that Daein's new king is helping Begnion quite suddenly who was Daein's biggest foe before its liberation. Micaiah, as loyal she is, follows his advices and fights for Begnion and against the Alliance of Laguz which means that Micaiah and Ike will become opponents. The result is that a total war is going to happen in Tellius. If you played the prequel, you will know what might happen... Gameplay RD has pretty much a similar gameplay to its prequel with a few improvements: skills can be removed without losing them third tier class system ledge feature which gives you a massive hit bosst / nerf when you attack from a platform above / below a few more mission objectives are added like defeaing certain number of enemies, destroying things in a turncount skippable battle animations biorhythm is more important dark magic exists knives are an own weapon type new weapons (a few were removed) introducing of authority stars (= leadership stars) unlimited forging in each chapter I'm pretty sure RD has the largest number of main story maps in FE with 43 and their variety is also large. A mix of defat, seize, escape, turnlimit and defend missions. Especially the defend chapters are really fun and challenging. Of course there are few less enjoyable chapters in the game but overall the map design is really good. However this game also has its issues. The main problem is the units's and difficulty balance. The difficulty curve isn't constant straight and the availibility of several units is horrible. The Dawn Brigade is that this is the party with the hardest chapters. The main issue is that Micaiah and some other DB members are really squishy and you lack on tanky units who can withstand several hits. Sothe is the only one who can, but he's basically your Jeigan, a prepromoted unit who steals the exp. early on. Micaiah herself is really squishy and sorta slow. Keep her out of any enemy attack ranges to keep her alive because she may not die at any time of this game. Same goes for all the other DB members till the fourth map. In general: This game has different Game Over conditions than the other parts. Many (side) characters may not die in certain chapters, so make sure to read the losing conditions every time not to get a bad surprise. Another issue is that Micaiah is the only one who has no authority stars so she can't grant her allies any hit / evasion boost which makes it for her group even harder. The other two parties start already second tier who even fight first tier units partly so they have a much easier time with the enemies. Now about the units's availibility, FE10's main weakpoint in terms of gameplay: Some units are going to leave in midgame and return (unautoleveled) close before the endgame. It's pure pain to let them catch up the others. It's really sad because it disqualifies some potential good units with a nice character. Also two allies for the DB join either underleveled or with below average bases. On harder difficulties it's very bothersome to train them. The graphics are really improved compared to FE9. The battle animations aren't static anymore, but they're really authentic now. Still my favorite animations in Fire Emblem up to date. The maps and characters are really well designed. Same goes for the soundtrack. Some tracks from FE9 return remixed and lots of new tracks are added. Most of them are enjoyable to listen and fit to the situation. Not my favorite soundtrack in FE but still a good one. Radiant Dawn has a better gameplay than Path of Radiance (close tied with Thracia 776 and Conquest) despite mentioned issues (there are still a few more minor issues). Storywise it's really good too but it has a few plotholes and it's a bit rushed mainly part 3. I don't really care for this because I prefer the gameplay over the story in a FE game. The main issue could be it's not really the best game for a newcomer to this series. Not because you have to play PoR first to understand the story, but because the difficulty of the DB chapters can cause you serious trouble. A few of your allies are so "weak" that they can be oneshotted. I highly recommend for any newcomer to read the really well explained tutorial guide. Radiant Dawn was my first game too and its difficulty almost made me want to ragequit it but the tutorial helped me to get into this game and series. If you're not aware of PoR's story and characters, RD has a dictionary about all the existing characters and some terms reagarding Tellius, so it will help you to get into the story. Overall it's a really enjoyable game especially if you play FE because of its gameplay. However it has not a massive replay potential (however still one replay guaranteed) because several units are really hard to use because of their limited availibility.
  8. A friend of mine runs a podcast called Monkey Broadcast. It's latest episode features a spoiler free review of Echoes, so be sure to check it out at your leisure as any he would appreciate support or feedback you could give him. At 1:02:10 his co-host, SvenTheCrusader, starts a discussion on the Dungeons and Dragons based web series Critical Role, run by Matt Mercer, the voice of Chrom, and starring other FE VAs such as Laura Bailey, Sam Riegel, Travis Willingham and Liam O'Brien:
  9. Hinata Review

    Hinata is the Retainer of Takumi. Hinata I see him as an Energetic Swordsman with a Bright Personality. He those have flaws but I can't describe it Personal Skill Triple Threat This skill is super Effective and I love this skill this skill mix with Counter magic and Miracle can make Hinata a Deadly Unit. The only Flaw is that it doesn't counter Magic Bows and Daggers Growth Rates Samurai HP 65% Str 45% Mag 0% Ski 40% Spd 35% Lck 60% Def 45% Res 25% As a Samurai Hinata is a Defensive and Powerful tank but His res are awful and I can see why but his Luck is fabulous making him have a chance of activating Skills like Miracle but his Low Spd is a throwback since it loses to all stats besides Mag and res and mag doesn't matter to him. Having Less spd makes him easy to hit and it makes Ninjas easier to weaken Hinata his skill is decent. Sword Master HP 65% Str 45% Mag 5% Ski 40% Spd 35% Lck 60% Def 45% Res 25% Nothing to say look at Samurai Master of Arms HP 70% Str 50% Mag 0% ski 35% Spd 25% Lck 55% Def 55% Res 15% Now this Promotion set is better then sword master to be honest since of his high HP Str lck and def growth rate is good his res is much worse and his spd and his ski but this is a better promotion since it improves many of his growth rates. Overall I give HInata a 4 out 5 stars his stats are good for Master of arms and not that good in sword master and I like his personality but he is weak as a swordmaster so that is it thank you for reading
  10. ​​Well hello there! This may seem very out of the blue and very unorthodox to put here, but I thought I would do it anyway. Let me explain what this is first. This will be me watching the TV series, Super Sentai, and reviewing it episode by episode hence the title (yes, the title does serve a purpose). ​I'm not very sure if this goes in Entertainment, since I think I'm the first one to do this on this forum, but we can roll with it. By the way, if anyone else wants to join me in watching this, then please pm me and I'll gladly share the experience with you through Discord. Also, if anyone else wants to do something like this, then go right ahead, it'll be fun! Onto the important stuff, "what is Super Sentai?". Well, have you heard of Power Rangers? If yes, then you have a step ahead of everyone else, hooray! But for those who don't, it's about a group of 5 or more characters who have the ability to transform into powerful forms using some form of device or power and they fight against an organization of evil. The series known as Super Sentai started in 1979 with the series known as Battle Fever J. For those hard core Otakus that I probably just confused please wait for me to explain. Technically, the series started in 1975 with the release of Himitsu Sentai Goranger, but wasn't technically "Super Sentai". The releases of the first two season, Goranger and JAQK, were made without giant robots, giant robots are what added the "Super" part onto Super Sentai. These two series were technically not canon until much later into the series. "What does this mean?" you might ask, this means that I'll be starting my episode by episode review with Battle Fever J instead of Goranger (although it's really awesome and everyone should go watch it). ​Talking about Power Rangers, the Super Sentai season Zyuranger was adapted for American audiences into Mighty Morphin which is what is known more prominently today (thanks mostly to the movie). Also, the reason I'm not doing Power Rangers is because I've regrettably seen every episode of it (and grew up with it), so my review standpoint wouldn't be very unbiased or uninformed. ​Let's talk format. The format for this topic will be very erratic. Honestly, I'll watch the episodes when I want to and immediately do the review after. There won't be a "schedule" for this, mainly because I'm lazy, but also because I've got school. I'll post my thoughts and opinions on the story, characters, what happened in the episode, etc. I'll be taking notes during the show while I'm watching it, so I don't forget what I want to talk about. Also, I'm probably going to try and be comedic and funnily critical in order to add some spice to the review, so you guys don't fall asleep while reading it. ​I think that's about it. If you have any questions, then please ask them because I'm sure I missed something. EDIT: I'm adding a rule that if I don't enjoy a season after the first 3 episodes then we'll move onto the next series. The reason I'm adding this is because there are 38 Seasons of Super Sentai and each of them have 50 or so episodes. This would be a very long thread that would last many years if we did the entire series. ​[spoiler=Table of Reviews] (done) ​Episode 1: http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=67014&p=4585510 Episode 2: http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=67014&p=4587637 ​Episode 3: http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=67014&p=4593436 ​ ​
  11. FE: Fates Review

    Intro: Welcome to my review of Fire Emblem: Fates wherein I will share with you, what I liked, didn't like, and everything in between. Let's get stared! Story: Choose a path! Gameplay: An SRPG that introduces new objectives with each chapters and choice that affect the story's direction. A first for the Fire Emblem series. The Good: Graphics: A huge step up from Awakening, for one the characters are more lively, more detailed and visibly show emotion for the first time since Radiant Dawn. Character models are also a million times more detailed. I wish I could the say the same of the level design, though, it feels bland in comparison to what Awakening. Music: Enjoyable but as not listen-able on repeat as Awakening's, at least in my opinion. The Bad: Story: The three paths are straightforward to the untrained eye, but as someone who plays for story, I have enough problem with Fates' writing for an "Everything Wrong With..." video, I'll not spoil what those problems are for those who haven't played the game. Basically, following exposition, you're forced to choose between the two warring nations of Hoshido and Nohr, with a third choice that essentially has you going neutral. Each one of them affects the direction the rest of the story takes. If only the paths weren't pre-determined by your purchase... Support system: What led to this review, Fates' support system that's broken and poorly-executed, best example is support rank A+. A character can only reach this with one other character, sometimes the unintended one. This can completely screw a character out of a certain class. Marriage works much the same way, though both parties gain a new class. Speaking of marriage, second generation units return in this game, though their presence is explained as poorly as Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is programmed, leading to controversy. The kids don't even impact the story like they did in Awakening! The Ugly: MyCastle and online play: Whilst Awakening had the Star Fox-esque straight path to the finish, Fates introduces the customizable MyCastle, which acts as a resting area in between chapters, it's where you obtain, buy and sell items through the buildings you can add to it. It's also where you access the game's online features, though that it's own can of worms. Multiple versions: The selling point of Fates is its choose-a-path system which was supposed to be a simple in-game mechanic. It ended up turning into Pokemon Emblem and it certainly shows which certain characters and other elements only appearing in certain versions of the game. Needless to say, no one, especially not me, is a fan of this. I absolutely hate having to pay extra for a full-priced retail game. Conclusion: Fire Emblem: Fates is a game with as many problems as good things, though the good will be more noticeable than the bad, at least to a casual fan. I recommend this to longtime fans for its story and higher overall difficulty and for beginners who just want to experience the game without having to worry about RNJesus. Either way, the path is yours to climb.
  12. [There shall be spoilers here, variously placed...] Here in the Forest, I know this review will be preaching to a choir (and some preachers), but there really isn't any place else to put forth this review... except my blog but that's like preaching to some crickets. And anyway, isn't this supposed to be a Fire Emblem Fansite? Aren't we supposed to support each other, support compatibility be damned? As the internet has become (not sure about the timeframe, I will need more hindsight before I can be certain) a place to be angry at other peeps and to also throw said peeps in the dirt for not knowing everything and getting with a program... I should set my expectations low... or something. Whatever. I'm getting a bit misanthropic and I haven't even started the review yet! Plus, my ability to amass a very long paragraph never ceases to fascinate me... The following review will touch on points that have been touched, poked, prodded, and beaten to death far too many times before (you guys' ability to finish, be done with, and intellectually digest a game many months in advance of this review amazes me. Well done, I believe your chances of survival might be greater in the era when machines are our bosses and all they care about is speed and efficiency). I hope that you might find some of the points I touch on and some of the thoughts I share to be new(ish). Now, time to put my college-level analysis skills to work! So, I finally dug into Fire Emblem Fates sometime in April. I bought the Special Edition at way over retail pricing, bought most of the DLC, and even forked over for five amiibos just so I could have Marth, Ike, Avatar MK III, and Lucina in the game. It's now nearing August and my 3DS sits in the corner, unused. My third playthrough, Revelations, is about 7 chapters before the end and I can't really bring myself to finishing it. I know I'll eventually get around to finishing it but I've never quite experienced this before in a Fire Emblem game. This is still (technically) the first playthrough of the whole kit-and-kabootle and I can't really find the motivation to finish it off. So, "what's the issue?" I asked myself. Many of you have already asked this question and already addressed your thoughts on this website. I'll attempt to list my thoughts here without trying to follow the majority's thoughts. My conclusions I came to on my own: if they match up with other people's previous thoughts, I assure you it's 90% coincidence. I only really started peeking around SF to try and see if other people were feeling the same way about this game as I a few weeks ago and a lot of this stuff was brewing in my head before that. So, I'm going to talk about various pros and cons to the game. Hopefully as we go along we'll discover what I think makes Fire Emblem special and what of what specialness is missing from Fates... So without further TL;DR, let's get cracking! Pros 1. This is a pretty game. The characters are well detailed (we'll get to that in greater detail, I assure you) and the maps are all very well put together. The designs for the various classes are excellent. The artwork is pleasing (for the most part). The cutscenes are exemplary and they really put a lot of effort into the battle-model cutscene-ish type stuff (such a gamer I am) in the in-between-battle conversations. The game, in short, *looks* great. 2. Music is fantastic. As you know, music is all important in a video game to help bring home emotions and the general feel of the game (Skyrim still takes the crown for best use of this, but as my close second is a game from 1998 called FreeSpace, you'll realize quickly how much of a bumpkin I am). The music in Fates accomplishes this task well. And then it takes things up to eleven with these pieces: I only wish this piece would've been used in an all-sky battle with dragons fighting pegesi... but then you'd be restricted to like 6 units so yeah. Why couldn't this have been the battle theme for fighting on Grima's back??? Overall, the music is an improvement over Awakening (though Awakening had some good moments... maybe I'm just not a fan of accordion) and well done. 3. This game is mechanically well put together. Now that doesn't mean the game is perfect. Over-nerfing anything that isn't a Killer or Iron weapon is something they should never do again. The Dragon Vein function is a bit overused and reduced to gimmickry at times. That said, the maps are a tremendous improvement over Awakening. They did succeed in nerfing the pair-up function just enough, which gives something that resembles an actual challenge. The AI is a little more competent and you can't block reinforcements anymore, which is well done (being the type that likes to squeeze as much EXP out of a battle as possible, it's nice to know I won't be missing out on some enemies whist taking advantage of a fort). Ah, are the pros finished? I'd best get to the cons then... Cons 1. The story takes center stage. When I finished Birthright, my first thought was, "Was that Fire Emblem? That didn't feel like Fire Emblem." To me, Fire Emblem is about the secondary/tertiary characters. The fact that you can raise such a side character from mediocrity up into an UltraBadass as a honored member of the team is extraordinary. To date I have not encountered another game that allows you to do this (and if you, reader, know of another game like this, please let me know! I crave it! (TearRing Saga and Berwick Saga don't count)). It makes the player feel like they're doing something special, something that they're not supposed to do. (Train up some practically-an-NPC? Preposterous!) And some games in the series reward you for this: through support conversations, you learn that this practical nobody has thoughts and feelings of their own and the character starts to come to life. One of the ways FE7 (I'll be picking on this'un a lot) does this is the story. The main characters aren't tremendously interesting in my opinion and the main story as such is only "there" if you want it. Basically, it's easy to get into the story but just as easy to remove yourself from it as well. The main attraction isn't quite the main story but instead the little paralell stories of your selected team as they intertwine with the main story here and there between going off in their own directions. Fates doesn't really allow this to happen. Fates felt like an anime. Not a shabby one, but an anime nonetheless. Makes sense, considering the main guy who wrote it is a famous manga writer. The story isn't gelling with the Fire Emblem concept (in my eyes), it's trying to fight it. The story feels like this really deep manga that's trying to get out and become the center of attention... but we gotta pause all that because some "Fire Emblem nonsense" has to be observed. We gotta take this battle in turns. The stunning cutscenes and the really long inbetween-chapter dialogues really hammer this home. It's like the really Fire Emblem-y bits (you know, the battles) don't play a very big part of this story. And there's resistance to this story-dominated idea too. The "world map" function (not exactly as such) will show you where your next battle is... but in order to get to the context of how you bloody got there (in some cases, on a completely different continent) is all had in about thirty-odd minutes of conversations and cutscenes before the battle (which is where the point on the map is). It is, to say the least, totally immersion-breaking. Lastly, the story taking center stage (as the hype touted) means that there are more eyes on it, which means the flaws are more obvious. Sure, FE7 is not without its flaws in the story, but in that game you have the ability to turn off the story in your mind just enough to not care about said flaws but not enough for the battle to be meaningless. Here, you are so focused on taking the story seriously that the whole experience is ruined. 2. There is little context for the cutscenes. All the cutscenes are so pretty and cool and well done (with the exception of one that really Erks me) that you feel like you're catching glimpses of a really cool anime. The story really doesn't live up to them. I'll pick on the most problematic cutscene, the opening battle thing: Now that is a fantastic little piece. Gosh, I'd want to play the game that comes from... Oh snap. So what's the context of that scene? I'll have a go: Xander takes a shitton of soldiers over a handful of precarious rope bridges over a bottomless pit in less than a week at most and manages to get several miles (again, at least) into his enemy's country. Chronologically and logistically that's impossible. Why does Xander do this? To get Avatar back? Because Daddy said so? To show Hoshido his might? Were they even at war? There's no reason at all; none is given and there's no way you can accurately guess. If you say Xander invaded after Mikoto's death then how could he have possibly known the barrier was down, amassed a shitton of soldiers, crossed the border, and gotten a third of the way into Hoshido... in a matter of hours? Are these countries like two miles across? (This is actually another problem, I'm getting off topic) Where does the battle go from there? Who wins? Who loses? Did Xander's men turn around and go home? Did the invasion continue? Your guess is as good as mine. See, the battle cutscene has no context. It's merely there because LobsterChan ShockySword needs an awesome setting to challenge ChizzledBrow EvilSword. The thing is, if there wasn't all this hype about how great FE Fates's story was gonna be, I wouldn't care... well, not as much, anyway. 3. For a game with a player created character... you don't have much input in your character. I've somewhat touched on this before (slightly) but Fire Emblem is a backward series. I suppose it's really Nintendo, isn't it? Whatever the reason, Fire Emblem has always been somewhat behind the times. FE1 would be more at home in 1985 than 1990, right? FE5 came out in 1999... on the SNES... because nine year old platforms are better? FE9's graphics are more 2000 than 2005. Finally, IS gave you an Avatar, a nod to what "Western" RPGs have been doing since the mid 90s... Now I'm really needlessly ragging (to an extent). State-of-the-Art graphics don't make a good game (case in point) and I would say Fire Emblem is fun and unique despite any shortcomings it terms of modernity it may have. But you have to understand the context. IS seems to integrate things into their games as token nods to trends. One of their nods is the Avatar. In Awakening, you were given two (three? can't remember) moments where you were asked what to do with your Avatar ("Let Lucina slice you up with her Falchion?" "Sacrifice Emmeryn for Juna Fruit?") and aside from the big decision at the end, they had no baring on the plot what-so-ever. It was a token nod to games like Skyrim and Dragon Age (yeah, you didn't have much choice in these games either, but it felt like you did...) and even so, it did make you feel like you had a thimble-full of control over the story... harharhar... And then in Fates, you have no control at all. Basically, you chose what skin model your Avatar has. You get to sit back and watch as your Avatar is a hypocrite and a terrible person. We all know this. There was more room for head cannon in Awakening partially because the traditional "story can fade into the background" Fire Emblem method and partially because the Avatar in that game was so personality-less than you could insert anything you wanted pretty much into that character. I'm not saying I want every Fire Emblem to have this sort of thing forevermore... rather, as a one-time-only thing, it works enough. In Fates, your fate is to decide: A. You are an airhead, blind to the hypocrisy around you and within you, whist pretending you want to really change your evil country for the better. B. You are an airhead, blind to the hypocrisy around you and within you, whist pretending you're doing the good guy thing. C. You are an airhead, but in an uncharacteristic stroke of sense, you decide there must be something more to all the crap going on around you. We at IS apologize for making this sound like a cooler option because somehow, it's just not. So not only can you not put any characterization of your own onto YOUR AVATAR THAT YOU MADE (this is, as you've guessed, the primary reason why Avatars exist in video games and also this is usually where a player derives joy and pleasure from their creativity) but the character that you get your name/looks stamped onto is generally unlikable. 4. Does anybody learn anything in this story? Sorta? The purpose of a story is that a main character learns something. Like really, a character starts out an idiot (give or take) and then ends off way more wise. Does the Avatar do any of this? Is this where IS expected us to put our head cannon? I dunno...moving on. 5. There's no real reason to use anybody who isn't a Royal. This is especially obvious in Revelation. You've got ten royals: one's a singer, two are healers, one's a mage glass cannon, three are powerhouse tanks, two are flyers, the Avatar never fails to be one of the best units in the game, and Leo's not too shabby of a unit either. They all can support most of the others, half of them come with no-strings-attached badass weapons (which has become quite a commodity in this game which is bogus by itself), Elise is so crazy with MAG that you could give her a regular Thunder and call it a day, and every single one of them can use a Dragon Vein. That's an ultimate dreamteam if there ever was one. Who could ask for anything more? That's a problem. Why does one replay Fire Emblem? To try out other characters and unlock supports (and then just keep beating Hector Hard Mode until the Sun melts your cartridge). Why would you want to do that here when your obvious dreamteam never changes? What's the point of switching things up when: 1. The Royals stats, weapons (in some cases), and abilities are all so superior. 2. The story is so in your face (with so much time taken on conversations and so many cutscenes) that you feel compelled to use the relevant characters: The Royals. Now of course you don't "have" to use the royals (Thank God) but the game certainly favors them, which puts the other characters at a disadvantage... And why is it 90% of the non-Royal characters are retainers of said royals? It just doesn't make the game's world seem all that big. This leads to... 6. There is a ton of build up and very little payoff; The worldbuilding sucks. Who are the Astral Dragons? Who are the First Dragons? What was Xander, Leo, and Camilla's big mission before they joined Avatar in Conquest? Why is there a Dragon's Gate in Nohr? Who possessed Takumi (really) and why wasn't he possessed at all in Revelation? The Avatar was quarantined? What was the story of the Avatar's life in Nohr? What's the Rainbow Sage's deal? Why were Divine Weapons given to 16 year olds; did they have to prove themselves? Where did the Divine Weapons come from? Where did Ganglari and Evil!Takumi's Evil!Yumi come from? If FE14 was just a one part story, these questions (and more) would just add up to some terrible writing and a lackluster game... But Fates is in three parts. That made things way, way worse. I call it Trilogy Syndrome, actually. The first story is pretty good, the second not so much, and the third... wtf was that?!? Various trilogies suffer from this to varying degrees. The idea being at the end of the first installment, anything goes and you develop what you think'll happen in your head, in the second one, your ideas are narrowed by how the storytellers went, and by the third one you're pissed because things went way different than what went on in your head. Fates is special because it's all one story... but still it suffers from Trilogy Syndrome. At the end of Birthright, I had more questions than answers... and so I thought the next two would answer those questions. Sure, Conquest opened things up more, but not enough and not in the right places. Now on Revelation and take your pick of above. None of those things are answered (not really). Too much is left to the imagination. The support conversations, the Avatar's past, the history of the land, the name of the bloody continent... I could go on for hours. It's a very barren, bony world. I think the developers thought that you, as the Avatar, would already know this stuff. That's what it feels like. The game just starts with very very little backstory as to what happened before. Every other Fire Emblem worldbuilds better. Not the most exemplary of worldbuilding, sure, but I got a sense of what Elibe was like, of who lived there and what they believed. What the relationship between the countries was. Just a little bit of prompting and I could imagine myself there... I couldn't even tell you the name of the FE14 continent. Nobody can. It doesn't even have a name. It's like they stopped trying. 7. Even Anna seems less interesting. It's like Anna has become a parody of her FE13 self. I much rather preferred that voice actress anyway. Why couldn't they just import FE13 Anna into this game??? 8. What is up with Charlotte??? Charlotte is an appalling character... Why is she going into battle in her panties? (It's like they're not even trying) Why is she such a disgusting person? Why is she literally a sex object? ("Did you come for business or... leik idk pleasur?") I had already branded Camilla as Aversa Mk II but then I found this one. I guess she's something of a female Vaike. Vaike was his own crazy... I guess Ylisse has coastline and desert... but what context does Chrom's Shepherds have for a really tanned surfer dude? I guess he's so ridiculous he's somehow likable... but Charlotte... literally has been the acme of unlikable. I dunno, maybe it's just a minor offense compared to the story... oh, and the following... 9. The children. WTF!?!?! (I know, I know, so many people have said this before. I need to vent, please) So firstly, the characters decided that instead of waiting until after the war to have kids LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WOULD AND LIKE IN EVERY OTHER FIRE EMBLEM, they ought to get it on with each other immediately with such ravishing that each female got knocked up. Then, because in Fates time is... wha? ...apparently, every female had a baby in a matter of (insert time unit most convenient for plot) while the war is on... (can you fight pregnant? No, no you can't) and this is why worldbuilding is important because the bogus-ness of this sentence is impossible. Now, because everybody in the army lives in an untouchable castle in a pocket Astral dimension that can't be breached unless the plot demands it... the Avatar and/or Lilith decided it was too dangerous to have a bunch of babies around... despite there being a full time butler, two maids, a ninja, whomever you decided to bench, an untold amount of nameless villagers, and a Jeigan on hand, despite your aforementioned castle having enough dragon veins to easily make a fully impenetrable fortress-daycarecentre. So, to deal with the non-existent danger to the babies, Avatar and Lilith decided to chuck all the babies into different pocket dimensions where time is accelerated so that in a few days (I guess) the babies are teenagers and/or grown adults. There's no mention of whom will take care of the babies/toddlers/kids but it's certainly not the parents or anybody from the army... so babies can get their own food in this world... or--I don't even know. So after all that, which is defined as child abuse, these teens/adults are supposed to like their parents showing up to save their rears one day... and then they join the army. You got all that? I sure haven't. I can't believe somebody wrote that and thought "that's a good idea." ...I'm going to leave it there. These aren't the only problems Fates has, just the ones that really really cripple it to death. The thing is, I want to like this game... I wish some of these characters were in a better game. I guess there's always fan fiction? Overall, it was a nice idea at first but what we got wasn't what we were promised; that was clearly the biggest mistake on their part. Clearly several right hands had no idea what the left hands were doing. The best way to improve, first and foremost, is to have a congruent team. This story was so bad... but the gameplay was rather enjoyable. And maybe IS should either make an Avatar that the player can actually have make decisions for different outcomes or just forgo the Avatar entirely. Of course we all know they aren't gonna learn from Fates or treat it as a mistake. They've found the cash cow, they reckon, and now they're going to milk it dry... It's sad that Fire Emblem is like this now. The series was saved but at what cost? Maybe the next game will be better... maybe Vestaria Saga will be better... maybe it's time to move on...
  13. Unit Review: Felica

    Hello everyone! I decided to make a new series, a charakter review for all units in the game, on a daily basis (maybe all two days, thats a lot of work tho). Once the game launches on EU I planned to post something similar on Youtube, but for now I planned to post it here. I'm pretty sure there is more about that charakter than I can tell you, but I want to focus on the unit-aspect, not the charakter behind the unit. This list should help new players to detemine wheather certain charakter suits his/her playstyle. Since its a review type of thing, I will end every "chapter" with my personal opinion about that unit. With that all been said, since this is the first post of this type, I'll show you my list of topic's for this and future units. If you think i did forget smt important please let me know. I want to improve, and constructiv critisism is the best way for that. Note: This will be focussing on Birthright and Conquest. I will maybe update this for Revalations in the future, but i dont think i've got any good information about most of the units in the DLC. List of topics: 1.: Name, Side (Nohr/Hoshido), recruit chapter (general introduction, short to keep it spoiler-free) 2.: Start stats and effectivness at that point of the game. 3.: Grow rates of the unit and all possible classes (without the second seal thingy) 4.: Optainable skills (useful or lackluster) and possible weapon choises 5.: Good setups for playthroughs & multiplayer 6.: Overall review PS.: This is the first unit review of mine. All above will not occure in the future, only changes to the formular will be explained. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter one: Felicia At first we will be looking at Felicia, one of the two Maiden/Butler units you will be starting with. She will join a male Avatar on chapter 2, or after chapter 15 if the Avatar is female. She will be serving the Avatar on both sides (your decision between Nohr or Hoshido wont affect her. HP:19 | Str:5 | Mag:9 | Skl:10 | Spd:10 | Lck:12 | Def:5 | Res: 9 Unlike the usual promoted unit you get at the start, Felicia isn't on a horseback. She also doesn't oneshot everyone or is super tanky, but is a very nice support unit. As Maiden her weapons of choise are the hidden onces (shuriken and daggers) & staffs/rods. She has less Str and HP than Jakob, but a better Spd and Mag stat, making her a better supporter, but less good fighter. Her personal skill, Devoted Partner, boosts the combat ability from the Avatar, and helps very good in the early game. Since she is a promoted unit, she got both skills of the troubadour tree, Resitence +2 and Demoiselle, boosting even more the Avatar. Another good thing going for her is the synergy within herself: for combat, she can attack enemy unit's from range, since she uses hidden weapons. Those give stat debuffs, but mostly important debuff on the enemy deffense. Your Avatar can now fill the gab between her and the enemy unit, not only for the dual strike with her AND attack the lowed deffense on the enemy, but also getting the Demoiselle boost. For Hoshido she is one of the best staff/rod users you will get and her Exp gain isn't so bad, since she can get Exp via healing, attacking and supporting (dual strikes), she will also level up very quickly. For Nohr she isn't very bad either. You've got a good healer, with 6 movement and, as mentient ealier, an early unit with the ability to use hidden weapons. But what makes her shine in Nohr is her speed: the nohrian soldiers are more about Str and less about Spd, making her a good pair-up unit, since Butlers/Maiden give +2Mag/+2Spd/+2Res (and with only support C +1 more speed!). On the Nohr side her late join chapter 15 is also very good since she can still do good work with her staff and you got a magic shurikan at chapter 12, so even her combat will help your party. HP:40 Str:20 Mag:45 Skl:45 Spd:55 Lck:65 Def:20 Res:45 (Felicias growth rate as Maiden / % chance per level-up) As display'd above Felicia excells at Spd, Skl, Mag, Res & Lck. Also nice HP growth for a healing unit, but very poor Def and Str. Her biggest problem is her bad Str growth: she wont hit very hard till you get the Flame Shurikan or change her class. Talking about changing her classes, she has the Troubadour and the Mercenary tree on her own. In the Mercenary tree she can go Hero and push her HP, Str and Def, since the Hero's growth rates are better than the Maides in therms of physical combat. Other good reclass option is Strategist, but keep in mind you will loose the ability to use hidden weapons, but gain the ability to use scrolls/books. She will loose even more bulk that way, making her very vurlneble for any sort of physical damage, but her Movement will help her to play around the enemys aggro range. With decend Mag stat on her own and good growth in this class she can dish out very good damage, and her heals are also very good. Skillwise she gains some quite good ones for supporting. Rally Skill (Bowknight) and rally Resistence (Strategist) for example to boost some stats. Inspiration (Strategist) and Demoiselle (Troubadoure) boost the allies around her, Bow and Tome - Breaker (Bowknight & Maiden) help her stayng alive while healing, but only in some situations. Sol (Hero) is also a good skill, since she has somewhat good skill, but for selfhealing Life to Serve (Maiden) will also be pretty good, since she should be a staff/rod using unit in the end anyway. For playthrough setups I think she is best suited as Maiden or Strategist. Via early acces to heart seals she is one of the better candidates to use it at the beginning. While healing she will be able to get at least C-supports with pretty much everybody, which is very good, but realy needed for Nohr, since her C-Support pair-up stat boost is Spd. But the rally skills, Life to Serve, Inspiration and Demosielle will make her a very vailable unit even late in the game. I prefer chaning her back into Maiden in the end, because hidden weapons realy support in a good way, she got a little bit more bulk and she looses the weakness to beastbane & beastkiller type weapons, which can oneshot her late, even if the enemy can't double her. For online setups i can't help atm, but if this format keeps going, i'll try to figure something out in the future. As ratings for her, with no heart feelings, I would give her a solid 7/10. She is realy good on both sides. Compared to the start Paladins and Great Knights of the past, Felicia doesn't protect the protagonist, she supports him, to make him a very strong unit even at the beginning and she scales ok-ish into the late playthrough. A very diverse unit to fill alot of gaps in your party. Since this is only MY opinion abuot the unit Felicia, it mustn't be yours. I wouldn't be suprised to see some people rank her even higher. Thanks for reading so far! If you are still with me, please bare in mind this is my first try doing soemthing like this. I did put alot of time into this, and will update this topic from the suggestions of the comments.
  14. Undertale Review

    Feeling Determined I can't believe I just did that. Damn you, Undertale! You made me break a vow I made for myself. What was that you ask? Well, I vowed to never, ever use fonts as bad as Comic Sans and Papyrus for anything I write! Unless I made a game like Undertale, I guess. Or if I made a review of it. I played it first at a friend’s house for both our first time, not just mine. We were thinking “Damn, one designer made this outstanding game, can we make something this good?” Heh, anything’s possible. If one of my indie games gathers this much of a cult following, crying tears of joy would be the least thing I’d do. So yeah, the next morning in my own home, I just started playing it again and I didn’t stop until I reached the end. So here’s my review for a game made by one very talented designer (And a couple of other people.) I’ll use the format I introduced in Persona 3, I felt like it allowed me to talk about specific parts of the game with more depth as a short version of articles I could on those key points, and believe me, I will consider writing separate threads on, for example how well Persona does character development or why the Metroid Prime trilogy succeeds as a 3D Metroid Vania so on and so forth, I’ll leave that in consideration. In the meantime, enjoy my review. To Save an Underworld Undertale’s tale (No pun intended) is based on your player character, a human kid (Boy? Girl?) known as “The Fallen Human” Basically what happens at the beginning is you obviously name your character, then you fall down the underworld and you get to meet Flowy, a flower (Duh) that actually attacks you and then Tories, your goat mother figure character comes in for the rescue, and then everything onwards becomes a tutorial level. Until you leave the ruins and finish the prologue, after that you get to go to explore the game’s world and meet a variety of different colorful characters. Pretty much every character in this game is great, they’re all fun to listen to and interact with. The game’s story is short in length, took me about 8 hours, though theoretically it should be like 10 since I explored the early game more in my friend’s house, but anyway, it’s one of those games that are short but sweet, length is hardly an issue here. Wide Appeal It’s controversial to say that Undertale is universally appealing because there’s never a 100% universal appeal in pretty much anything, one of my readers right now could hate drinking water, or breathing Oxygen, I don’t know. (Okay if you hate breathing Oxygen I actually need to have a word with you) But I digress. I find Undertale’s gameplay and narrative to have so many choices of how to play through it that it could potentially have a pretty wide appeal. First of all, I’ll explain how it works. Undertale is a game that’s a bit similar to Earthbound in style (I dunno how similar it is since I haven’t played Earthbound despite constantly being told to play it, I will one day.) The game’s combat system works like a JRPG, its combat is turn based and you have your basic actions. Attack, Special, Item and Escape. Except here it’s Fight, Act, Item and Mercy. Fight and Item are pretty much the same as with every JRPG. Act and Mercy are quite different, though. Mercy gives you two options, to spare an enemy’s life or flee from the battle yourself. Act gives you context based actions, most of the time it’s choices that can convince the other enemy not to fight, and you will thus be able to Spare. That goes back to the idea of this game, being able to be as merciful and as bloodthirsty as you can, and your choices will provide you with one of three different endings. The Neutral ending is the one I got, and it has many different variations on it, but this adds to the replayibility and I may go back to see the other two endings. But most importantly, it goes back to my idea that this game has a wide appeal, a lot of players love grinding and battling, the game has that. Some others don’t like grinding at all, you don’t have to do it to win. Well… you may have to grind sparing enemies for money so you can buy healing items but that won’t be necessary if you’re very good at the dodging minigame. But that’s not the only part of this game that makes it appealing, the fact that there’s choices that alter the narrative is an appealing idea to many players, myself included. Because some players play for the story, and the story is already good. The story itself has a lot of humorous and serious moments so that could be considered as one of the things that make this game appealing to a wide variety of players. A lot of stories are like that but I feel like Undertale does it very well, and it touches on themes like genocide and death. It also has a lot of great cultural references, two great characters in this game are based off the worst fonts ever! I just couldn’t praise Undertale enough for all of the great qualities it has as a game. Other Comments: There’s a lot of other great things this game has that I could talk about, the soundtrack composed by Toby Fox, this game’s designer is fantastic. The variety of the tunes is as impressive as the tunes themselves, almost every boss has a different music track, unlike most RPGs where there’s one or two boss tracks that are repeated until the final boss. There’s not much to say about the sound design, it’s retro but has a couple of notable sound effects and voices that would be impossible in an old game due to the restrictions those consoles had. There’s not much else I could talk about in this game without spoiling it, but I do have some major problems that may just be me but I really don’t like the lack of key bindings, I have a feeling that they were designed in this way because if they were more convenient they would be a bit easy, I guess? I don’t like using the arrow keys as much as I like the good old WASD, the fact that the other important buttons are Z (Or Enter) X (Or Shift) isn’t too convenient for me, either. Perhaps I would like it more with a controller, but no excuse for making the Keyboard controls like that, the alternate keys don’t fix much. I don’t hate the bullet hell minigame I thought there was a lot of variety put into it, but the controls made it frustrating. The game’s short but I’m glad I got to talk extensively about it, Final Verdict time. Final Verdict: Undertale is a special game, I didn’t expect much out of it but got plenty, and I wish I played it the moment it released because it was such a huge thing, it’s still big now. I think missing Undertale is to miss out, it’s easily one of the best games of the year, and a big contender for me. It’s unique, charming, witty and just overall awesome. It’s really hard to find many faults with it, even though the length’s short which is to be expected, it still feels just long enough. The journey is one I wouldn’t dare spoiling and if you haven’t played it already then you should now. Undertale is a game that’s different but similar, short but sweet. Augh! It’s so good, play it now! Final Score: LOVE/10 Huh?! Failed to compile the script? What do you mean strings are unacceptable? Fine! 9/10 What did you guys think about Undertale? I know it stirred up quite the discussion here in particular, I want to know why at least some of you guys found this game pretty special. I thought it was the best indie game this year next to Lovers In a Dangerous Spaceime. (Check that game out if you have a friend willing to play along.)
  15. Review of Halo 5: Guardians

    Update 11/04: Edited in details on Warzone maps As a few of you may know (if from nothing else my moaning about its fanbase), I'm a Halo fan. As more than a few of you are probably vaguely aware of, Halo 5 launched on October 27th. So naturally, I bought the game and played through the campaign while investing several hours into multi-player. So, here's how the review is going to be set up: first, I'll cover the graphics, then soundtrack campaign, multi-player, weapons, and lastly overall. Note, I'm going to explain some things in the middle of the review, but I can't explain everything. If you haven't really played Halo in the past five years, good luck. Anyways, now that that's out of the way, let's get this review started. Graphics and Sountrack Now, for my rambly campaign review/summary. Campaign Multiplayer First, I'd just like to say that I haven't really played Arena. I'm not that type of uber-competitive fan; as such, this part touches upon only Warzone. Secondly, and more importantly, I want to clear up the REQ situation. Req Packs I'm just getting this thing out right now, so you have the facts before you judge. Now, onto Warzone. Warzone and Gunplay OVERALL Halo 5 is two steps forward, one step back. The multiplayer is vastly improved for both sides of the casual-competitive divide. The gunplay is the smoothest and most balanced in the series yet. However, the campaign makes many of the same mistakes that both Halo 2's and Halo 4's did. There's buildup and reveals, but no real climax. It relies upon the lore and outside sources to even know who half the new characters, yet is afraid to fully embrace and develop those characters (quite possibly because of those reasons). Expectations are set for Halo 6; whether 343 is successful again, it remains to be seen. Enjoyment Rating: B P.S: Vale says "Hah! They flee like cowards!" way too much; I'm not sure if I can listen to any of Laura Bailey's roles without hearing that line.
  16. Persona 3 FES Review

    I’ll Burn my Dread and Then Face Myself It’s 12 o’clock midnight and it’s time to get wild. *Entering the Dark Hour* Not that wild, please no. *Survives the onslaught* Perhaps it’s best to never stay up past 12AM, unless you’re playing a game as good as Persona 3 perhaps, it’s your responsibility in the end, but be wary of those shadows, they will not hesitate to finish you off. Hey guys, I had many suggestions to play Persona 3 and after playing it for an entire month, I’ve seen it through to the end, so comes my review for it, I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Here's Yuriofwind's video review of it if you wanna see how the game works. Dreamless Dorm, Ticking Clock Persona games, at least the ones I played are fixated on this “Midnight” thing, Persona 3 more so than 4. The story of Persona 3 takes place in a small town in Japan and focuses on the Special Extracurricular Execution Squad. (SEES for short) They are high school students who live on the same dorm, all with the same special power Persona which I’ll elaborate on later, their goal is to restore peace to the world by defeating the evil creatures known as shadows. As the opening song states, this is indeed a dorm that rarely gets decent enough sleep. The only way to face the shadows is via the Dark Hour which takes place right when the clock hits 12AM, you know that time when people are usually asleep. The story takes place over little less than a year, the characters must defeat strong shadows every full moon so there’s a very important boss every month to advance the story. One of the many things that make Persona special is the character development, almost every character in the game is three dimensional and flawed, they may have special powers but they’re just high school kids, they get tired in battle, they face difficulties in real life tasks, but most importantly, they face themselves (No pun intended) Junpei is a video game nerd who could care less about his grades and finds his Persona ability to be the only important thing he’s proficient with, Ken is a 10 year old kid despite being mature about it, and Aigis is a bloody robot. Every character in the game have very clear and well thought out story arcs and the resolution for those story arcs not only change the character but also changing gameplay, as they literally unlock a new Persona better matching to their current state. (Except the OP as hell MC he has access to multiple Personas) Akihiko is my favorite character, I mean he’s just too badass besides developing a relationship with his old friend Shinji. But the story and plot are also interesting in their own right and have a lot of twists and turns like any good story has, the theme of the game is facing death, its inevitability and questioning life. The characters are very suited to the theme, as almost all of them have personal issues to deal with on top of being placed with the burden of saving the world. It’s a well written story filled with intriguing villains and grey morality. On par with that of Persona 4. The Arcana is The Means by Which All Is Revealed Persona 3 is a game that is very similar to Persona 4, or should I say the opposite, but it’s a very different game at the same time. A lot of the combat and gameplay aspects remain similar, there’s of course the Personas which are the series’ equivalent to Pokémon or Yu Gi Oh in a way, and they are spirits summoned from one’s heart into battle, each of them are related to the Tarot cards major arcana if you’re familiar with those cards. The game’s combat system is similar to that of a typical turn based JRPG, each party member takes turns followed by the enemy (Unless the enemy has higher speed) and the battle pretty much continues on until one of either party is dead. Don’t die though, just like in most JRPGs boy do you lose progress and you get to watch that lovely 5 minute boss intro scene which thankfully didn’t happen to me all that much as I almost never died against the major story bosses, only once during the Wheel of Fortune/Strength boss. The tower bosses are a different case, we’ll talk about those in a while. The only thing that makes combat in Persona different than other JRPGs are, well, Personas. These Personas each have different traits to them, different skills, strengths and weaknesses. And really one of the most fun parts of the game is Persona Fusion, fusion does what the name suggests, it literally fuses all different Personas you have to give you a single Persona that’s usually stronger depending on your fusion choice. Near the beginning, you get to fuse two or three Personas in a single fusion operation, and later on, you’ll be able to fuse even more than that. The cascade of synergy is the most exciting part of the game’s combat, managing a team of Personas on top of managing party members in battle adds flavor to the game. A Different Twin But what makes it very different to Persona 4? Well, it’s two major things among others, two of my biggest problems with this otherwise fantastic game. First of all, Tartarus. The game has only a single dungeon if you don’t count the very short pre major boss areas in which you mostly don’t do much, and that dungeon is Tartarus, a 264 floor tower that’s procedurally generated, just like Persona 4’s much more diverse procedural dungeons. You can progress in it a specific amount of stairs in each block, you’ll be able to explore it further every months, as blockades will disappear and allow you to progress further. And every now and then, you’ll reach a non-randomly generated floor that has a boss in it. Tartarus is a very boring dungeon, it’s visually repetitive, it’s repetitive in its exploration and it’s just tedious. Persona 4 was able to hide it’s repetition under the mask of its diverse settings in those dungeons and the reason why you pretty much rarely feel the dungeons in Persona 4 is that they are on average 10 floors long, not 264. Alright, every block in Tartarus has vastly different aesthetics and slightly different music, but they’re mostly pretty boring in my opinion, the game’s combat system and trying out different Personas/Party members make it not as painful as it sounds but when your core central part of the plot, this insane tower that’s a labyrinth of death is really just a 264 floors with variation in about every 40 or so of them. That’s never a good thing to have in your game. I have to at least commend the developers for trying to be different, but you can do better than that, even if you wanna be different. It doesn’t help that the tower bosses are usually cheap and uncreative, there are a lot of bosses in Tartarus that will just make you wanna throw the controller across your room, and others that are pathetically easy. The cheap ones have incredibly unpredictable attacks that stomp your party, sometimes in one hit if they’re weak to the ailment or are under leveled. If it weren’t for Akihiko and his debuffs, the battles would’ve been other levels of ridiculous, a couple of the bosses are just a case of having a good team and good Personas, but some have insane difficulty curves like the Sleeping Table which is a higher level boss than the ones after it in the freaking next block. But really the biggest problem I have with this game and the other major difference from its sequel is the fact that party members cannot be manually controlled, and the AI is so stupid, the only way to make them semi-reliable is going to the tactics menu every now and then and order them to change their behavior, but that’s not nearly as efficient as controlling them yourself like you can in Persona 4. There were a lot of times when I lost a battle just because of a party member’s dumb actions like waking a downed enemy up that I was setting up for an all-out attack, and there were a lot of cases where I would’ve loved if they could’ve used items from my inventory but guess what? They can’t, they only use items through their stupid infinite magical supply inventory that only has two or four crappy items. And there are times when I wanted them to use a different buff, having Akihiko only debuff an enemy on Heal/Support instead of healing an ally that barely took any damage. The final boss in the game was very good and very symbolic but it would’ve been much easier if I could’ve controlled party members instead of rotating the wheel every turn for different tactics that aren’t as reliable as manual control. There are other smaller differences like the stamina system, fight too many battles and you’ll eventually be too tired and suffer penalties, and eventually have to head back home. At first I thought it was a cool system because it brought a sense of urgency and gave a makes players choose their battles wisely, grind too much, and you’ll be too exhausted to keep fighting. But since the game required too much grinding, I just disliked it later on. The overall UI and Menus are much harder to navigate, it’s tedious having to talk to each specific character in order to change their inventory, in Persona 4 there’s one menu that has all of those options, but it’s a slow and tedious process in this game. In terms of technical differences there aren’t that much, the game uses the same engine as Persona 4 so nothing notable in terms of graphical, animation quality and sound differences. One major difference to the visuals is the 2D portraits, every different expression isn’t just a different facial expression but the whole body stance changes, dunno why they left that out in P4, too much work and drawing, I guess? The voice actors are just as excellent as they were before and the soundtrack is great, albeit less memorable than Persona 4’s. The game’s flaws frustrated me a bit, mostly the AI one with Tartarus as a close second, but the other parts of this game are its saving grace. Meaningful Choice This is one of the terms that game designers love to use, immersion is a word that both gamers and game designers love using but meaningful choice helps with that, greatly. Getting immersed in the game is greatly amplified if the game offers meaningful choice. If you’ve studied game design, or you like watching Extra Credits or read some of Gamasutra’s articles, then you’re probably familiar with the term. If you aren’t, I’ll quickly elaborate since I didn’t in my Persona 4 review. Meaningful choice is when a game gives you different choices that have unequal outcomes, those choices can be either gameplay related or story related, or even both. But they must have different results, one could be good or bad, good and better, bad or worse. These meaningful choices help immerse the player in the game’s world and sometimes the Illusion of Choice can be used instead in different games which isn’t as great but also effective. The Persona series has meaningful choice built onto its core, every day you can do a single activity, you can’t possibly do all since it’ll be late and you have to sleep, everyone has to sleep eventually. But what you do with your time is your choice and yours alone, whether you’re developing your social stats or hanging out with your friends is your decision, and you can’t hang out with all of your friends, only with one at a time. This game introduced the social link system that has become prominent throughout the series, and those different social links and different friends you get to hang out with will make certain arcanas stronger for you, making fusion offer more experience points and overall better results with more skills and such since they’ll level up further. A strength and an admirable quality in the Persona series, here it’s slightly weaker than in Persona 4 since you only have 3 social skills as opposed to 6 which means if you’re playing like me you’ll probably max them all out less than halfway through, which means you gotta rely on hanging out with your friends as your sole time killer and they’re not always there, and there are less of them than in P4. But otherwise, it’s an amazing part of the series, very amazing and I always look forward to see the results and fruit of my work. As a player, it empowers me emotionally, immersing me further into the world and making me care more about its characters. As a designer, it inspires me. I think it’s very clear to see that the strongest component of the series is still very much alive in this game, what’s the final verdict? Final Verdict: Persona 3 is an epic video game. It has its fair share of flaws and I wish I played it before Persona 4, or hell I wish I played Persona 3 Portable which had party control. But still, this game laid the foundation when Persona 4 polished it greatly, and there are a lot of suggestions I have for Persona 5 that can make it the perfect Persona game, and I’m pretty sure many others have such suggestions. But I digress, Persona 3 is a very good game and its final chapter was definitely better than Persona 4, while I still think Persona 4 is the overall better game, I still can find lots to appreciate here. Despite Tartarus and Lack of AI control, I’m still gonna give it a better verdict than you may have expected, a nine. The good outweighed the bad for me. Especially after how masterful some of its moments were. Final Score: 9/10 Excellent If you're interested, my Persona 4 review is here. The next game may be Okami, I still haven't beaten Dragon Age Inquisition and don't have the patience to restart it, I lost my save. But yeah, there's a good chance that I'll play Okami soon. And I have not played the extra chapter that came with the FES version of Persona 3, I may play that but I need a break from it. And yeah, new review style, even though I've been writing reviews as an on and off hobby since early 2011 I'm still up for making changes. Thank you for reading, feel free to post your thoughts on Persona 3 and tell me which one you like better, Persona 3 or 4? And why?
  17. Hey all, I'm new to this forum but I love Fire Emblem a lot. I recently uploaded a half-an-hour in length in-depth review to youtube that I've been working on for a month. I've sent it to a couple of friends as well and gotten a lot of the critique on what I did wrong and need to fix such as forced jokes, redundant explanation, lack of visuals, etc. All of which I acknowledge. I am posting this here in hopes of two things: One, that maybe some of you will enjoy it and stick around to watch more when I finally get good enough to one day retrospect that review and two, for some honest criticism so I can make my next review better. I'm counting on you, Fire Emblem fans! I need you're help! It's good to be here! (Also yes for those of you who love Radiant Dawn I do kind of get on Micaiah's case for being a bit squishy. So just to clarify I understand that she's a very powerful unit.) c: Thanks a lot guys! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE6oEgiSJLg
  18. Yeah, I did a review for Awakening a while back around the time it came out. Reread it recently when my resurgent Fire Emblem obsession came back around, and it actually wasn't a horrible review, so I thought I'd share it. I know most people know Awakening like the back of their hands by now so there's probably no untreaded ground here, but take from it what you will, I suppose.
  19. Shadow Dragon. What can I say? My favorite FE, and the first I happened to play. Truly, it is the ultimate form of the game that started it all. But i'm not going to mercilessly defend every flaw like a fanboy. Any game is going to have flaws. Blazing Sword had that incredibly forced tutorial that Japan loathed it for. The Radiant series had the Biorythem and the infamous Easy mode memory transfer glitch. Genealogy had it's "Never turn off, no reseting" love system that permanently swapped upon power down. And Mystery had the removal of key elements from Book 1. But still, most people overlook these flaws because these can be amazing games if you power through the crap spots, kinda like Wonderful 101. Why didn't people do that with Shadow Dragon? All i usually hear from engish players is that this game sucks and it's nowhere near the Radiant Series. I set out to find: is it really that bad? So, I compiled a list of the pros and cons of Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon to conduct a written review and comparision, and ask what you think about it. What do you like and dislike about it? Here's my input: THE PROS First official Translation of a Japanese Fire Emblem No one ever brings this up. Seriously, this is a grace from Nintendo for this to happen. They never did it ever before, even though the English Fire Emblem almost explicitly sets up Binding Blade with Athos' dying vision and the Birth of Roy, and Nintendo didn't take the chance to localize it. So to translate a game that never even had a related game across the pond was something special. Awakening continued this trend in bits and chunks with other things in it's DLC. Translaters, Heroes of Shadow, people WHY HAVEN'T YOUFIXEDYOURPATCHESYET?!?!? No offense, but "Maris" sounds like very fruent engrish now and "Roro" is annoying, especially now that i think he quotes a Bible verse in Chapter 10X that was overlooked (I am Legion, for we are many). Reclassing Really, no one can argue that this is a godsend. Even Awakening utilized this. This allows an otherwise useless character to have potential, and a powerful character to maximize his/her potential, like the Avatar can in the sequel. It can't save a doomed unit like Caesar, but it can turn better units into unstoppable swiss army knives if you use it well enough. The Controls I don't know why, but for me personally the touch controls worked like a charm, allowing me to move units in a precise path rather than a path the cpu genrates to move that unit to point X (example: have Marth move in a zigzag rather than a straight line). Maybe it's just me though. Blade of Light, Mystery of the Emblem Style Only fans really notice this: the game seamlessly Combines Ankoku Ryuu with Monsho No Nazo Book 1, making it seem like it was fixing the flaws with Book 1 more than remaking a NES game. Why is this a good thing? Because it looks and sounds damn amazing. Even haters usually say that this game (and by extension it's sequel) have the single best rendititon of the FE theme to date, and the game looks brilliant.... especially comapared to the NES version. The more the merrier People hate this, but I actually like this: to a degree. The FE series has a special focus on caracter development, so more characters means more content. I do dislike not being able to use them all, but... More replay value! Online Features For the first FE game to have online features, it really was well executed. Exibit A: Online Battles. Register your buddies, and you won't have to travel cross country to play for a mere hour! Weather or not you can have a four player war like in FE7 i'll never know for sure....(forever alone) And the online shop, the first instance of FE DLC, although maps wouldn't happen till the sequel, the most notable thing is that Starting on Dec. 31 2008, Players could buy an Elesian Whip on days that end in 1. (eg. Apr. 21) Shadow Dragon Ditched the multi item promotions that FE1 and 3 had for Master Seal based promos, (one of maybe 3 changes from the original if you sacrifice Frey and don't get to Gaiden Chapters) but this whip offered a secret means of promoting Pegasus Knights into Falcon Knights like in Gaiden and later games, which is perferred if you want to keep a high resistance. Remember how i said this was my first game? The tutorial Nintendo, you really nailed it with this. FE7's tutorial (Lyn Mode) is incredibly forced, and when you think about it Lyn's story is half of the game! HALF OF THE GAME IS A TUTORIAL! SD though, has a streamlined, and effective turorial. I didn't know the first fuck about FE except "There's this dude named Marth in Smash Bros., and he kicks a lot more ass than Roy and Ike", and I was close to an expert by the end of Chapter 6. Clearly that says something. Plus, the Prologue is interesting on it's own, and you can turn of the actual tutorial and just play through it. (Granted, there's no real reason other than story and it's insultingly easy, a stark contrast to the sequel's BS FE mode which takes place right after this prolouge) Now, we're flipping the Switch: THE CONS (BUM BUM BUUUUUUUUM!) Who the fuck is Whymp?!?!? He's Auffle! Really, this game was probably made at least somewhat with beginers in mind, but this is rediculus! If FE has a moral lession, it's that war is bad and a life cannot be restored. (Aum Staff, but there's only one of those) So why in the flying mother of fungleberries does this game have REPLACEMENT UNITS?!?!?!?!? If you really suck and everyone dies, FE makes sure that A: You feel like the biggest douch in the world, B: You're screwed and have to start the Game over, C: You have no chance of recruiting more arrow fodder, And D: You are not rewarded for this. SO WHY DO YOU GET MADE UP, RANDOMIZED CHARACTERS TO REPLACE YOUR 50 DEAD ONES?!?!?!?!?! And noone ever sees them unless they do it on purpose, so if you see someone's DS with a save file consisting only of Marth and these, DUCK AND ROLL IMMEDIATELY, because it's very likely they are behind you with a blood stained axe and a body in their closet. Sadly, the sequel isn't off the hook about this either, and there you have to be even MORE intentional because that game has 81 playable characters in all! And speaking of killing off units intentionally: THE GAIDEN CHAPTERS THAT EVERYONE NEVER PLAYED Gaiden Chapters! I don't care what i have to do, it adds an element of challenge to the mix, and sometimes you have to get every chapter unlocked to get to the end game (*cough* FE7 and FE6). Kill all theves before they escape? Ok. Use X item? Ok. Go west four spaces, use the red jewel, conjure up a raging windstorm to whisk you away, MAKE SURE you attack the theif with the Master Sward on turn 14 and get exactly 29 damnedge in? A challenge I shall accept!!!!! Kill off all your units? O- Wait WHAT? WHOS BRIGHT IDEA WAS THIS? Someone is fired at NoJ. The whole point of a Gaiden Chapter is to reward the player for completing mundane, difficult, and/or sometimes nonsensical tasks (How was i supposed to know not to kill the enemy clerics?), but this game says "Ya'know, wouldn't it be a great idea to reward the player for sucking?", Let's rip into this too: everyone is alive in the sequel yes? I can't check their pulse, but i'm pretty sure that is a living tone of skin they have. So, the sequel inexplicably has the events of the Gaiden Chapters, where EVERYONE IS DEAD, apparently have happened rather than having them say "this is the first time Marth meets them because noones dead", apparently the Gaiden Chapters happened with everyone alive.....(5...4...3..2...1..and...) (WTF BOMB scene) JESUS CHRIST NINTENDO, ARE YOU THAT THICK?!?!?!?!?!??!!??!?!? A DEAD PERSON IS DEAD!!!!!!!!! SOMEHOW EVERYONE IS DEAD, BUT NOONE'S DEAD, AND CHAPTER 24x NEVER HAPPENED BUT IT HAPPENED AN JUST, JUS, WHAT THE F#$% I CAN'T EVEN RAP MY BRAIN AROUND IT!!! MY BRAN IS MELTNG RIGHT NOW!!!!!! ........... I don't know, maybe they forgot to program another way to get into these chapters and put it on the market, released a sequel, and THEN realised that they made that error. BUT WHAT ABOUT 24X?..... Let's just assume that the SD gaiden chapters are non-canon and let inconsistencies fall where they may. That's the cons but those are some REALLY big cons. Before anyone brings it up, I have a rebuttle for: Pre Promoted Unit Overkill Really, it's not that bad. Most are really quite good, except for Jagen, who actually i was able to use well into Chapter 8. Look at sedgar and wolf. Look at Jeorge. Look at Lorenz. And the series just started, so newcomers might not have found the items for promotion, so they put in pre promotes, and made promos one item in the remakes to rectify this (not counting the previously mentioned Elysion Whip of course) Thanks for reding all that! Overall, i'd say this is a solid game that has some gaping flaws, but i'd expect that from a NES game. we'll need 1.21 gigawatts to rectify the Gaiden Chapter Paradox, and i don't think i'll be able to predict a direct lightning strike. This is Hero of the Fire Emblems, yes all five of them, signing off, and asking your opinions about it, otherwise it wouldn't make sense for this to be a topic!
  20. I'm rewatching the Pokemon anime....and reviewing it. Because clearly I have nothing better to do (don't judge me, bro!). http://refathegreat.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/pokemon-episode-1-pokemon-i-choose-you-review/ If you find yourself in the same camp, feel free to read. Otherwise, I dunno, talk about how Ash is worse than Red or how much the GS ball sucks.