Posts tagged ‘DS’

08/17/2011

Iron Blue Intention

by wfgodbold

Unlike previous games in the series, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin features dual protagonists; the player can switch between them on the fly to solve puzzles or change from whip damage to magic damage.

Set during WWII, Portrait of Ruin features more vampires than just Dracula; the secondary antagonist is the vampire painter Victor Brauner, who has learned how to create pocket dimensions inside paintings. Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin, the player characters, have to enter these paintings while they make their way through Dracula’s castle if the players wants the best possible ending.

08/15/2011

Layton’s Theme

by wfgodbold

As ATLUS learned when they published Catherine, the key to making a successful puzzle franchise is a plot of some sort. Level 5 already knew this; their Professor Layton series (which began with Professor Layton and the Curious Village) has five complete stand-alone games, an animated film, and a crossover game with the Ace Attorney series (still in development), and they’re working on a sixth game even now.

I’ve not yet played the series, but it’s been well reviewed (and thanks to the weekly Amazon deal, the first game is on the way for ~$13); given Tycho’s propensity for language (and not math), I’m inclined to take Penny Arcade’s Layton-inspired strip as a recommendation. Since it sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide, I’m sure it’ll be worth $13.

Hell, I paid half that to watch Dylan Dog*, and it was only two hours long (though it did seem much, much longer). Paying twice that for 138 puzzles is a bargain!

*I’m pretty sure I caught it for the 24 hours it was in theaters. It was so bad they didn’t even show trailers before it; I assume no other studios wanted their films associated with it.

08/13/2011

Bullet Striker

by wfgodbold

Namco Bandai is fortunate; when they make the various Super Robot Wars games (through their subsidiary, Banpresto), they don’t have to license most of the material. Sunrise (famed super robot anime studio (for certain definitions of famed, I guess)) is also one of their subsidiaries, and that drastically cuts down on what they have to license.

Super Robot Wars W was the first game in the franchise to be released on the Nintendo DS; it’s also the first game in the series in which all of the robots featured are from shows licensed (at least in part) in the US.

Bullet Striker is the main character’s theme; like all main characters in SRW games, he’s original and not from an existing property (enough games have been made for Banpresto to release so-called Original Generation games, which feature exclusively characters and super robots created for SRW games).

08/11/2011

The Time of Decisive Battle (決戦の時)

by wfgodbold

As popular as Final Fantasy is, it’s nothing compared to the Dragon Quest series (in Japan, at any rate); in the first two days after its Japanese release, more than 2.1 million copies of Dragon Quest IX had been sold.

The main character is one of the angelic Celestrians, who live in a city in the sky and protect humans from supernatural harm. They are invisible, and by helping humans behind the scenes, they also help the growth of the Yggdrasil. At last, after much work, the Celestrians finally see the result of their endeavors and the Yggdrasil bears fruit; before they can use this fruit to pass into the realm of the Almighty, disaster strikes!

The Space Train that was going to take them to the realm of the Almighty crashes, the fyggs are scattered all over the earth, and the player character falls to earth, in the process losing his/her halo and wings. From here, the player starts on the quest to collect the fyggs, find out what happened, and save the world (of course!).

It’s a pretty good game; the characters are highly customizable, and the Dragon Quest battle system is practically unchanged from previous games (just the way we hidebound reactionaries like it).

08/07/2011

Final Battle Theme

by wfgodbold

Take a hit slapstick alien invasion anime series and tell Namco Bandai to make an RPG out of it, and what do you get?

Tales of Keroro RPG: The Knight, the Samurai, and the Legendary Pirate!

Sergeant Keroro and his platoon of incompetent froglike alien invaders are thrust into adventure when the old game system Keroro bought crashes, somehow causing the RPG he was playing to crossover into the real world.

What follows is an RPG filled with Tales of series style battles and fetch quests (the predominance of said fetch quests was the only complaint Famitsu had). Namco Bandai never brought the game out over here, and I haven’t played it; I remember reading about it when it was in development, but it wasn’t until I was watching Sgt. Frog on hulu the other day that I remembered it.

08/03/2011

Pitch Black Intrusion

by wfgodbold

In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Soma Cruz returns as the protagonist; Dracula’s castle has returned again, and he’s the only one who can stop it!

I would say Dracula never learns, but if you played the last game Soma Cruz was in (Aria of Sorrow for the GBA), you know that’s not really the case here.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t Dracula-worshipping cults out there aiming to bring about his rebirth! They’ve conspired to bring the castle back early yet again (it must be really easy to pull that off), and Soma and his friends have to stop them.

08/01/2011

Crises of Fate

by wfgodbold

I finished up the first Ace Attorney Investigations game this weekend; instead of controlling Phoenix Wright and attempting to prove your client’s innocence, you control Miles Edgeworth (who is accompanied by various sidekicks, depending on which case you’re on) as he investigates crime scenes and deduces who the real criminal is.

As in the Phoenix Wright games, the five cases end up being related, even if at first glance they don’t appear to be. Lots of characters from the Phoenix games make appearances, including Dick Gumshoe and Franziska von Karma (I’d mention more, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise).

The logic puzzles are mostly solvable, though I did get stuck a few times; presenting the wrong evidence during testimony still reduces your health, and if you reduce it to zero, Miles fails to solve the case.

I’m not sure if the second Miles Edgeworth game is ever going to cross the Pacific; it came out in February of this year, and according to Capcom, there are currently no plans to release it outside Japan.

Fortunately, it’s a DS game and not a 3DS game; if I choose to, I can import it and play it on my US region DS.

07/26/2011

Inform the Truth 2004

by wfgodbold

I finished playing the third Phoenix Wright game over the weekend (Trials and Tribulations); it’s the final entry in the series that stars Phoenix Wright himself (the fourth game stars Apollo Justice, and two more games feature Miles Edgeworth, the prosecutor).

This game delves more into the story of the Fey clan of spirit mediums, and even features a flashback case or two from Mia Fey’s point of view (she’s Phoenix’s attorney mentor, and elder sister of his plucky sidekick, Maya). It ties up (rather neatly) plot points from the previous two games, and does a good job bringing Phoenix’s story to a close (or does it?!).

The following track plays when Phoenix has finally figured out the identity of the real killer, and can actually prove it. As he explains what really happened to the prosecutor and the judge, he’s accompanied by triumphant background music.

07/19/2011

On playing video games in a foreign language

by wfgodbold

Some commenters on today’s Xenoblade letter-writing-campaign against Nintendo piece on Kotaku (wow, that’s a mouthful) suggest that the only way to be sure you’ll get to play the games you want is to import, and that people who are complaining should instead spend their time learning Japanese.

Other commenters point out that any Japanese you learn in a few months’ time isn’t going to let you fully understand the game, and so why bother? It’s better to lobby for the localization of the game, so that they don’t miss any of the plot!

I’m of two minds; on the one hand, I play games in Japanese all the time, and understand probably 80-90% of the text. On the other hand, I’ve spent a few years studying Japanese, including almost ten months in a homestay program in Japan. Not everyone has that kind of time to devote to learning a language just so that they can play video games that might or might not come out in English.

On the gripping hand, the argument that you have to be able to understand everything is flat out stupid; most of the actual important gameplay related instructions are going to be in normal Japanese, as are the various quests and such. If you can understand “Go to location X, kill monster Y, and bring me item Z,” then it doesn’t really matter what those MacGuffins are, just that you be able to recognize those names when they pop up again.

I first realized this several years back while playing through Xenosaga on the PS2 in Japanese; at first, I was struggling to pause and translate every bit of dialogue in the cutscenes. After a couple hours of this, though, it struck me: I was translating technobabble.

It wasn’t going to actually mean anything whether I glossed over it in Japanese or strung together a bunch of sciencey English words; it’s all made up as fancy window dressing. You run into the same effect in fantasy games; the magic sword of magic is just as magical if it’s powered by angels or faeries or song or whatever. The details are unimportant.

Aside from technobabble/magicbabble/mechababble, most of the dialogue in video games is going to be standard dialogue that you would go over in a language class; once you’ve learned the right verbs, following the plot becomes easy (unfortunately, my classes didn’t cover important vocab like fight, kill, attack, magic, and such; I had to pick it all up on my own).

While a basic understanding of the language is obviously necessary, you don’t have to be fluent to enjoy import gaming.

All you need is a console that can play import games (PS3, PSP, DS), and a willingness to take a bit longer on your playthrough than you might with a game in your native language.

07/16/2011

Examination ~ Allegro 2001

by wfgodbold

In the not-so-distant future, crime has become so prevalent that the justice system has been overhauled; trials last only three days, and are decided by judges, not juries. If the defense screws up three times, the client is guilty. The world of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is not friendly to the accused, to say the least.

Phoenix is a defense attorney, and since the police are incompetent (hey, at least this comically dystopian future has something in common with the present!), it’s incumbent upon him to prove his clients’ innocence; not only does he have to ask the right questions during the trial, and object at the right times, but he has to spend his time out of court interviewing witnesses, investigating crime scenes, and finding out who the real killer is. Once that’s done, he has to finagle the trial so that they take the stand and implicate themselves, setting his client free. The prosecuting attorney, Miles Edgeworth, was a friend of Phoenix’s back in school, and is a true magnificent bastard.

The art style might put you off, but this really is a modern take on the adventure games that were so prevalent in the ’80s and early ’90s, before the genre completely imploded. It’s fun, the puzzles are generally solvable and not completely retarded (King’s Quest, I’m looking at you), and the puns are so bad they’re awesome.

It’s been popular enough in Japan for 3 games starring Phoenix, one spinoff starring a younger attorney named Apollo Justice (yes, really), and one spinoff starring Miles Edgeworth. Takashi Miike is currently working on the live-action film adaptation, which should be … interesting, given Miike’s body of work.

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