Friday, January 27, 2017

Play Log: Switching gears

For the past couple months I've been playing primarily on my 3DS, but a lot my Vita games were calling out to me.

God Eater Resurrection
Well, I finally beat every single story mission.  Not that there's really any more story after you beat Arius Nova.  I like to think I've kinda extricated myself from the trophy hunting game, but I've come to like this game a lot over the months, and I'm reasonably close to platinuming it.  I even managed to do the solo rank 14 survival mission trophy.  The rest is essentially grinding out missions and completing a set of rank 14 gear.  One of the things I like most about this game is that you can really feel your progress.  When you first start out you're fighting Ogretails and other small fry.  You move up to medium size critters like Gboro Gboros and Kongous soon enough, but it's a long time before you feel like you're a bad enough dude to take on a real aragami solo.  By the end you're the top dog in the branch, and there really isn't much that can push you around.  I can only think of 1 or 2 enemies in the whole game that I would give me a hard time 1v1, and plenty that I could take down by myself even outnumbered, as long as I paced myself.

God Eater 2 Rage Burst
I finally bit the bullet and decided to move on to GE2, now that I've seen largely all that Resurrection has to offer.  It feels like I'm going 100+ hours back in time, starting from square one again, it's brutal.  Jury's still out on how I feel about the game compared to Resurrection.  In Rage Burst devouring doesn't seem to be nearly as important, and the burst mechanic is just kinda there.  To be fair, I felt largely the same way about the devour mechanics in Resurrection until I really started playing around with Predator Styles, but at least here at the outset, devouring seems like much more a complementary mechanic than it is in Resurrection.  I like the idea of Blood Arts; the one I'm using on my hammer that gives back stamina makes that Boost Hammers on the whole feel more viable than they ever were in Resurrection.  But it seems like Blood Arts take a lot of grinding, so it'll be a while before I can see how it really pans out.

I decided to make a character that, in my headcanon, is the sister of my character in Resurrection.  It made that scene where Alisa first showed up more fun, that's more sure.

Oh, and it was weird as hell fighting a Ravana in rank 2.  You don't encounter one of those in Resurrection until like rank 7 or something.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
I'm a little irritated with this game because it took so long to really get on its feet, both in terms of story and mechanics, but now I do find it pretty engaging.  The character writing is tropey but still manages to lend some depth and context to the characters, which is impressive because I think that's a pretty tight balance to walk.  I have zero interest in 100% completion but I still play with a guide in hand because I don't want to miss any chance for extra character interaction.

Thomas Was Alone
This game has been sitting on my Vita for ages, and I finally sat down with it for a couple of hours to see what it's all about it.  I see what this game is doing and I find it interesting, but eventually the tedium of playing a puzzle-platformer overtook the charm of going through a story inhabited solely by a cast of quadrilateral shapes.  It's unfortunate, because I read the synopsis of the game on Wikipedia and it sounds like it goes to some ridiculous places.

I also liked that each level had developer commentary.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Spice and Wolf Synopsis: Volume 4

I'm a big fan of the Spice and Wolf anime, and started reading the novels some time ago.  As a way to keep writing, and also as an exercise in reading comprehension, I decided to try keeping a synopsis of the books as I read them.

The goal is to provide a reading that is as brisk as possible while still providing a thoroughly detailed understanding of the story events in each volume.  What I specifically try to avoid doing is covering character interaction in great detail.  There are two reasons why.  One is because doing so is an incredibly easy way to end up with an unnecessarily bloated summary.  The other is that character interaction is the series' greatest strength, and arguably what you're really here for, and I don't want to spoil that.

So, why am I starting at volume 4?  Because the idea to do this didn't occur to me until I was reading that volume.  Then, without further ado:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Play Log: Back to God Eater

God Eater Resurrection
I played a tooon of this game last summer when it came out.  Just recently decided to get back into it. It's super fun.  I'm on Rank 14 now, finishing up the story and maybe going for the Platinum.  I played through most of the story using spears, blast guns and (in the later half) assault guns.  I've finally gotten just a little bored with my loadout though, so I decided to revisit other weapon types.  I still think hammers are really damn cool, but what I've really fallen head over heels in love with now is scythes.  I didn't think much of them when I was first starting out, but they're synergize so well with certain Predator Styles and skills.  I use Predator Style bonuses that boost oracle with each hit, and with the scythe's long range and ability to hit multiple times per sweep, I can rack up tons of ammo really quickly.  So now I use a scythe and blast gun, with custom shotgun-style canister rounds.  My scythe also has a chance of stunning enemies.  So I play the mid-range game, zoning enemies with the scythe while harvesting absurd amounts of oracle.  Than as soon as the paralysis kicks in, I move in and unload shell after shell into their face.  It does massive damage and usually breaks a lot of armor.

I've been doing a lot of tinkering with shotgun shells in general, mainly to make sick-looking airburst rounds.  Unfortunately, it seems like the game always calculates shell damage based on the distance between the player and the enemy, even if the mechanism firing the shell isn't actually the player, but a control orb launched by the player.  That's pretty unfortunate.

Oh, and the Vita's Party function works pretty well!  I used it to play this game for a couple of hours with friends over the weekend.  We would run missions and just chat about stuff.

Had someone I played send me a friend request the other day.  I'm not sure what the point of friending random people in this game is, since there's no chat system, and no way to interact beyond private battles.

Matchmaking's still rife with Shadow and Blood players, but at least I played a somewhat unusual Blood player recently.  He used all neutral cards.  I've been thinking about trying out a neutral card deck myself lately, as there are neutral cards that are very explicitly designed to synergize with other neutral cards.  Trouble is, I'm not sure which character would be best suited to a neutral deck.  I mean, they're neutral cards so maybe it doesn't matter.

Switch Stuff
Nintendo made a number of questionable calls here with the Switch.  The fact that they're doing paid online doesn't bother me in and of itself, but what they're offering for the price seems a little insulting.  NES/SNES games that you can only keep for a month?  A phone app for voice chat?  Come on, guys.  And while they teased a lot of upcoming projects, both 1st and 3rd party, the actual launch lineup seems pretty sparse.

That said, it's a really interesting gizmo, and I want one.  And that Breath of the Wild trailer was truly amazing.  I went from being largely uninterested in that game to wanting to play it immediately.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Play Log: Happy 2017?

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
Started and finished the first case.  So far, so good.  It's just as good as I remember.

I'm finally starting to come into some decks I can have a bit of confidence in.  Though right now this game's meta is pretty frustrating.  It feels like almost every player I run into these days is playing Bloodcraft or Shadowcraft, and it's getting really old, really fast.  That said, there are some interesting Forestcraft and Dragoncraft decks coming up too.  And we can't forget the all-powerful Dimensional Shift Runecraft deck.  With a bang and a boom!

Tiny Rails
This is one of those "games" where once you get up and running, you basically only boot it up a couple times a day to check in on it and spend any accumulated resources.  I like it well enough, though.

Super Toss the Turtle
Apparently this is a souped up version of an old Newgrounds flash game.  When I saw it, it instantly reminded me of this browser game I once played on Cartoon Network's website.  Basically, you have a cannon or catapult of some kind, and a hapless animal, and the goal is to launch it as far as you possibly can, using the environment and a limited amount of manual nudges.  This one's extra silly.  My poor turtle got shoryuken'd by a walking banana, suicide bombed by a Mad Max-style biplane, and had the stuffing kicked out of it by Super Saiyan Goku.

Cowboy Bebop
I've seen more than my share of anime, but this has long been one of the gaps in my completion list.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen Cowboy Bebop.  But only what episodes I would sometimes catch on Adult Swim back when I was a kid.  I've never done a proper, continuous viewing of the series.  Anyone who's even dabbled in anime will have heard plenty of praise for this show, as it's widely considered to be not only one of the greatest series of all time, but a very good gateway into the medium.  It's not uncommon for products to buckle under such prestigious reputations, but from what I've seen so far Cowboy Bebop really does earn every ounce of praise.  I'm only a handful of episodes in and it's already one of the most charming, engaging shows I've ever seen.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I powered through all of season two a week or so ago.  I'm still not sure what my overall opinion of IBO is.  There are things I think it does better than most other shows in the franchise, there are things that I think it does well, and there are things I think it does poorly.  For example, the action is top notch.  Or more specifically, the choreography is top notch.  The animation, however, often looks cheap.  The music is also great, and I really like the character dynamics.  Yet at the same time, I find it difficult to even remember many of the characters' names, even as I enjoy watching them interact.  The show does dialogue and interaction well, but the characters themselves aren't very interesting individuals, with some exceptions.  I also am still not really taking to the show's mechanical design.  The only suite I really like so far is Vidar.  Barbatos is cool, but that has more to do with it having a lot of cool scenes rather than it being a particularly cool MS, at least to me.