Review: Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening Feature

The Nintendo 3DS has had some great games in the past few months with one of the most notable being Fire Emblem Awakening. Having a love-affair with strategy games and being a Fire Emblem virgin, I was anxious to delve into the game and see what all the fuss was about.

The Story

The story of Fire Emblem is a bit of a mixed bag. It starts off in an interesting, if cliched fashion: your custom avatar wakes up in a field with amnesia. Now, I know what you’re thinking but stick with me, the story gets better. Having been found by Chrom, the prince of the kingdom of Ylissia, and his companions, you help them in defending the countryside from marauders, eventually joining them in the greater struggles that await. These struggles range from demonic Risen to all manner of political intrigue and attemped coups. Chrom’s sister rules the kingdom and he enforces her rule, but there are neighboring nations that have nefarious plans of their own, all of which give you a reason to do what you do best: fight some battles and kick some ass. The story encompasses everything from bandits to time travel to world-ending dragons, so there should be something in here that appeals to everyone. Continue reading Review: Fire Emblem Awakening

Resetting the Past in Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem Awakening

I’ve recently started digging deep into Fire Emblem: Awakening and I’m having a great time so far. It’s taken me a bit to get used to its own special brand of SRPG, but I am starting to understand the mechanics and I’m improving with every battle, which is all you can really ask for. You can’t expect to master a game like this from the outset, otherwise, where is the strategy there?

But with this learning curve comes a danger: perma-death. That’s right, the terrible tragedy of losing one of your favorite characters lurks at every turn. To make matters even more frustrating, the enemy has no such fears. They will rush forward in a suicidal frenzy, knowing with certainty that you will kill them on your next turn, but they pay no heed to their own safety. For them, it’s worth it if they can take down one of your squad. It’s not fair and makes the game even more challenging than it would be normally, but that’s what makes it nerve-wracking. Continue reading Resetting the Past in Fire Emblem

Ni No More Kuni For Me

Ni No Kuni

I am done with Ni No Kuni.

No, I haven’t finished it. I’m just done with it. After stopping for a month to play Bioshock Infinite (twice) and Tomb Raider, the thought of going back to Ni No Kuni was enough to make my body recoil in revulsion. I wasn’t sure why, but I had a similar feeling when I stopped Ni No Kuni the first time in order to play Dead Space 3. But once I started playing again, I found it surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things. I put 24 hours into it before I took my month-long break.

But just like last time, I decided to throw it back into the old PS3 and see if my sudden aversion to the game would dissipate once I got going again. It didn’t. The moment I started playing I wanted to stop. The first battle I got into was literally the last battle I ever wanted to play in this game, which I think is the crux of the problem. I love the characters, the world and the story, but the battle system, while tolerable for the first 20 or so hours, just suddenly hit a wall for me. I love everything else about this game except for the battle system. I thought back to some of the tedious boss battles I had been through and I knew I didn’t want any part of that again. In the end, they were more of a chore than enjoyable. Continue reading Ni No More Kuni For Me

To Guide or Not to Guide in Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni

I’ve been bit with a bit of a completionist bug lately. I mainly blame Ni No Kuni and its charming world, which has totally sucked me in, much like the game’s main character Oliver, as he looks for a way to save his mother with the help of his fairy friend, Mr. Drippy.

While I’m not normally the kind of guy that I used to be with RPGs — namely, the guy that does every possible sidequest before moving onto the story — Ni No Kuni is making me feel like a kid again, and I don’t mind plumbing the world’s depths for bounties, errands, and familiars. But it is causing me to run into an issue: to guide or not to guide? Continue reading To Guide or Not to Guide in Ni No Kuni

The Last Disappointment

The Last Story Cover

There will be no review of The Last Story.

No, it’s not because I am too lazy to write it. It’s because I played 10 hours and couldn’t take another minute. It wasn’t a terrible game, exactly. It just wasn’t fun. I wasn’t having a good time and one of my promises to myself going forward is not to feel obligated to play something if I am not enjoying it. The second I turned off the game and drove to GameStop, I felt better. Justified. Like a new person. That’s how I knew I made the right decision.

I’m sure you are asking what was so wrong with The Last Story? What could be so bad coming from Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy? Well, let’s start with the story: it’s pretty bland. You play as Zael, one of a group of mercenaries who dream of becoming knights and gaining a higher station in life. Zael is a standard RPG hero: compassionate and boring. His comrades are far more interesting, even if they all fall into easy to categorize descriptions: the drunken woman who parties too much, the womanizer, the emo mage…I didn’t hate any of them and the British accents made what they said pleasant to hear. The problem is, it was all so mundane that the second the screen went black indicating a cut-scene was starting, I was checking my phone to see if anyone made a Hero Academy move. Not a good sign. Continue reading The Last Disappointment

Chrono Cross Game Blog Part VI: The Stupidest Man Ever

Welcome back! When we last left off, I had just made the pivotal decision to go with Miki as my guide into Viper Manor, in order to figure out just what in the hell is going on around here. So, I thought it would be best if I actually tell Miki about my decision. She thanks me and tells me to head to the very originally named Shadow Forest to look for Nikki, the wayward rock star. I thought she was going to guide me! I feel betrayed and hurt. Is this what pain feels like? Continue reading Chrono Cross Game Blog Part VI: The Stupidest Man Ever

GamerSushi Asks: Giving Up On Games?

DarksidersIn the past, I’ve been foolishly devoted to games at some points. I’m the guy that used to play the JRPGs, even when I couldn’t stand them, all the way to the end. There’s something to me about giving the game the benefit of the doubt, and giving it a chance to unfold a little bit. If I hadn’t done that, there would have been plenty of games I would have missed out on.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do that kind of thing as much anymore. Games have to get my attention fairly early on in order for me stick them out, unless they’re known to be pretty short. This is why I stuck out Splinter Cell: Conviction even though I wasn’t thrilled through it. Tonight I played Darksiders. I’ve heard a few good things about it, so I thought I would give it the trial run earlier. Much to my surprise though, a few minutes in, I caught a game breaking glitch and couldn’t play it anymore. I immediately put it back in the GameFly envelope and lost interest.

This is kind of odd for me as I’ve never given up on a game that quickly. It felt rash at the time, but now I’m glad I did it, as it frees up time for me to play the Halo: Reach Beta on Monday. What’s funny is that I can’t remember the last time I’ve done something like that. I think the most recent game was Red Faction. It made me wonder about you guys, and what’s the fastest time for you to have given up on a game? Go!

GamerSushi Review: Demon’s Souls

I want those souls.

This thought runs through my head over and over as I eat my dinner, barely focusing on the food before me. My thoughts are filled with the bloodstain chock-full of souls I left splattered in the middle of the Boletarian Castle, surrounded by demon warriors just waiting for me return for them.

I need those souls back.

Demon’s Souls is the new action-RPG from Atlus and it is not for the faint of heart. If Halo ever frustrated you with the Library, then you are not ready for Demon’s Souls. This game makes the Library look like World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. The concept of the game is that you are a warrior who decides to try to lift the darkness from the world by defeating the evil demon lords who rule it. Or something like that. The story, though well-written and voice-acted, is barely there. It’s simply an excuse to throw you into hell and watch you claw your way out.

The game is played in a 3rd-person perspective and at the start you create a character and choose one of several classes to start with, but fear not: you are not constricted in anyway by what class you choose. You can start off as a mage and never learn another magic spell if you desire and become a powerful melee warrior. The choice is up to you. The classes merely determine how your initial stat points are distributed. It’s up to you how you want to distribute them, one point at a time.

Which leads to how you improve your character. Now, let me preface this by saying that you don’t have to level up a single time. You can literally play the entire game with the stats you start with, from start to finish, and defeat the final boss as such. God help whoever does that, because I expect you will be doing about 1 HP of damage to said boss per attack, so I hope you don’t have to go to the bathroom because you can’t pause Demon’s Souls. Ever. At all. Just warning you..

Now, when you defeat an enemy you gain souls. Some enemies give you as little as 8 souls, some as much as 2000. It just varies on the strength of the foe you have vanquished. Souls are used as both experience and currency. Want to level up your character’s HP? Get some souls. Want to buy a better sword or upgrade it? Get some souls. Need arrows or healing items? (And you will) Get some souls. Magic spell in the shop caught your eye? You guessed it…souls. The fun part is that the amount you need to raise your attributes increases every time you do so don’t expect to grind your stats and simply overpower the game because you will likely go insane first.

When the game starts, you find yourself in a brief tutorial area, which ends with you getting pwned by a giant boss. Your souls goes to the Nexus, which is the hub of the game. Here you level up, buy weapons and spells and pick which area you want to go to next. There are 5 worlds, each one having a few sections in them and once you defeat the first area, you are free to explore as you wish. I recommend doing so, as some great items can be found in different areas if you look hard enough. When in soul form, your health is cut in half, although a ring you find near the start brings this up by 25%. As a bonus, you do more damage in soul form, which is fine because you will spend most of the game in soul form. In order to get your body back, you must defeat the area’s boss or use a rare item. Generally, beating the boss is the best option.

When going through a level, in soul or in body form, when you die (Notice I said WHEN, not IF) you will return to the Nexus with all of your equipment and items, but you lose your souls. So if you had about 3000 souls and didn’t return to the Nexus to spend them, they are gone. Unless…you manage to fight your way back to the place you died and touch the bloodstain you left. If you can do so, you get your souls back. If you die on the way, those souls are gone forever. Now, since enemies respawn every time you return to the Nexus, you can always fight more demons, but you run the risk of doing what I did the other night, which is play for an hour and a half only to lose all my souls and have nothing to show for my wasted time. Being overconfident and not focusing on the battle at hand has led to many a lost batch of souls.

So why does such a game, which reeks of repetition, which I revile, appeal to me so much? Namely, thanks to the combat, which is so spot on, that when I die, I know it was MY fault. I mistimed a parry or didn’t watch my stamina bar close enough. There are NO cheap deaths here. The enemies all have distinct patterns and it is a matter if simply being observant and quick. When you see an opening, don’t hesitate or you will regret it. I got more of a rush playing Demon’s Souls than any game since the original God of War. When you slice through katana-wielding lizardmen like a hot knife through butter, you know it was complete skill that won the day for you and that feeling is addictive.

Demon’s Souls also boasts the most unique online system I have ever seen. As you play, you sometimes see blue specters running around. Those are other people playing the game right at that moment, at that spot. You are always connected to the servers, unless you sign out of PSN, but I would not play any other way. There are also messages, short and tweet-like, that players can leave for one another. Some give hints such as, “There is a treasure up ahead” or “The next enemy is weak against fire”. Such messages can be a life-saver, as one instructed me not to bother with a shield, which was sage advice because if I had tried to block the ensuing attack with my shield, I would have died. And if messages are helpful, you can give them a thumbs-up, which heals the person who left the message, wherever they are. This can be a great boon when you are in trouble and suddenly you are notified that someone liked your message and your health fills. It creates a great sense of community, of us against this harsh game world, and it truly adds a layer of awesome to the whole thing.

If you are having trouble and are in body form, you can drop a blue stone and pull someone in the same level who is in soul form into your game and suddenly, Demon’s Souls is a co-op game! Together you can defeat the boss of the area and then the soul form player returns to his game. The soul form player must also drop a similar stone, so don’t worry that you may get pulled out against your will. But there is a more sinister aspect of this: another player can invade your game if in soul form and attempt to kill you! If they do, they get their body back. Imagine the terror of seeing a message that states, “Black Phantom Starkiller81 has invaded your realm!” and knowing that there is another human being walking around your level, waiting for you to be hip-deep in demons before plunging a knife in your back. Talk about survival horror! Dead Space and Resident Evil can’t compete with that kind of tension.

One thing I want to mention that adds to the difficulty is the fact that you can’t manually save the game. Demon’s Souls auto-saves almost constantly, so if you think you are going to simply reload your last save and recover your souls, you got another thing coming.

The graphics and music are also very well done and coupled with the tight controls that never fail you make for a game like no other I have ever played. Except for the extreme difficulty of the game, there is not one bad thing I can say about it. Demon’s Souls is one game that no hardcore player can afford to miss out on. You will curse and gnash your teeth, but you will dive right back in again and again until the last demon is slain. For Christmas this year, I received Demon’s Souls, Dragon Age: Origins, Uncharted 2 and Modern Warfare 2 and I have been playing a little bit of each waiting for one of them to really hook me. It has finally happened because for the last 4 days, I have been on a straight Demon’s Souls bender and there is no end in sight. I can’t recommend this game enough, one of the best of the year.

GamerSushi Score:


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Final Fantasy 13: The Last Traditional FF Game?

Final Fantasy 13Have you ever tried to tell a non-gamer that you are playing Final Fantasy (insert random number here), only to have them reply with the stupid joke “guess the other ones weren’t so final”? Because that has happened to me more times than I can count, honestly. Well, it looks like that dumb remark might actually find its punchline with Final Fantasy XIII, in a sense.

Square Enix head dude Yoichi Wada said in an interview today that Final Fantasy XIII could mark the end of an era, and that whether or not the franchise will continue its current format “remains to be seen.” Apparently, the team might move on to bigger and better things, including “next generation” play styles to hit a new audience. I’m not entirely certain what that means, but I’ve got a couple of guesses: namely that “a new audience” is not-so-subtle code for “Westerners”, and the new “play styles” they mention could involve motion controls or FPS/action games.

I’m not suggesting an FF FPS, but that Square might move into a genre they think is more suitable to broadening their core buyers. Regardless of what it entails, I do have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, I love JRPG’s and their emphasis on grand stories and gorgeous art. On the other hand, the formula is stale (though FF does it best) and might need a shot in the arm.

What do you guys make of this news?

Source- Shacknews

GamerSushi Asks: Making Changes

staroceanI’m playing Star Ocean: The Last Hope right now, and it’s the first JRPG that I’ve played in a good long while. After playing some games like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect, it really feels childish and completely ridiculous in comparison, and really got me thinking a bit about the choices that designers sometimes make in games.

The reason for this is that while I’m overall enjoying the game, there are some things about it that really irritate me, and lead me to ask “why would they do that”. For instance, the game starts with a 30 minute battle tutorial followed by both a 20 minute cut scene and a 2 hour dungeon. How does that even make sense in terms of not boring the person playing it to tears? In addition, there are some minor character and script issues that bug me, such as the annoying item creation character and adding a six year old to the party that ends all her sentences in “kay?”.

Like I said, overall I’m having fun, but there are some simple things that keep this game from being great. What’s the last game that you’ve played that you felt that way about? Solid mechanics, but if it wasn’t for one or two things, you would have loved it? Go!