Video Games – Crimson Gem Saga

Atlus, one of my favorite pubs, is releasing Crimson Gem Saga for the PSP.  It’s a turn-based RPG, which automatically elevates it to my gotta have it list.  It’s shipping May 26.

The box art alone makes me want to play this!

Yay!  Cute little 2D characters!

Visits to drinking establishments with underage characters!

Pastel colors!  Flowers! Street lamps!  And cheap beer!!!

Video Games News – Sacred 2 Delayed

It never fails.  Every time I am geeked about an upcoming video game, it gets delayed.  Sacred 2: Fallen Angel for the 360 looks pretty awesome, but I’ll have to wait until May to play it.   The game, both the PS3 and 360 versions, has been pushed to May 12.

Here are some screenshots so we can wait impatiently together.

Flaming green skeletons!  Blood splotches! Gets me all tingly.

Hammers have many uses – pounding in nails and smashing in heads.  Yay!

Not the best choice of footwear for a romp through a dungeon

I want to ride on a dragon and fight monsters, too!

A Look at Blue Dragon Plus

I received a review copy of the Nintendo DS game, Blue Dragon Plus.  I was pretty excited to get it, because I haven’t played a game in a while, and because it is a strategy RPG, which are among my favorite kinds of game.  The character designs were also created by Akira Toriyama, so right off the bat, this game had a lot of positives for me.  After buckling down and spending some time with it, I found it enjoyable, but also very, very frustrating.  With a few minor game tweaks, this would have been an awesome game. 

Gorgeous in game cinemas

The game starts a year after the events of Blue Dragon, a 360 game.  I did not play this, but it did not affect my understanding of the game.  Nene was defeated at the end of the last game, but in typical game fashion, he’s come back to menace lead character Shu and his friends.  Now they have to join together to end this new threat.  Armed with their powerful Shadows, which give them magical abilities, they set off to to explore the mysterious cube that has appeared, fighting monsters along the way.

Shadow attack!

So far, so good.  The story isn’t the most original, but it’s certainly easy to understand.  The game play mechanics aren’t overly difficult, either.  You use the stylus to mobilize your troops, swiping command boxes on the screen.  There are boxes for deploying everyone in a group, or for isolating only certain units and sending them off into the heat of battle.  You can also tap directly on a character to issue your marching orders.  Magic spells and items are used by tapping a unit and then tapping a symbol for the desired command.  Again, pretty straightforward.  It did get annoying when the screen became a little cluttered with characters and monsters, as it was sometimes difficult the tap on the unit you wanted to quickly save from an untimely demise.  This was especially irritating when, after issuing a command, your silly little trooper heads off on an unexpected path, making you wonder why in the heck it was taking the looonng way around or when it walked directly in the path of an attacking monster.

Time stops when the a character uses a Shadow skill

Several times I found myself yelling at the stupidity of the AI as my party members wandered aimlessly about, ignoring my carefully thought out instructions.  Argh!  How can these guys be that dumb? They were so dumb that I soon gave up any real tactical planning – it was just too cumbersome in the real time environment.  Instead, the best strategy, unless the battle had time constraints, was to just gang up on one or two enemies at a time, utilizing healing spells or potions to make sure that nobody dropped dead from their inability to think even the slightest bit.  Cooperate with other party members?  Nope.  Just stand and occupy a square on the grid so nobody would attack from behind?  Not unless I made a very frenzied effort to keep them in one place.  It’s even worse when one of the party members is under the computer’s control, and not yours.  It will wander around like a dying goldfish, unmindful of anything save the need to allow itself to be surrounded by attacking monsters and obliterated. Oh, so frustrating.

Parties take turns moving around the map

The 2D graphics and 3D cinematics were nice, utilizing both screens on the DS.  The character designs were colorful and eye-catching, as were the monster designs.  The Shadows were all different as well, and were nicely animated as they initiated their magical attacks.  The backgrounds were a little repetitious, and I sometimes had a hard time telling Maru and his siblings apart, too.  They were all small and a little too similar.  The menu screen layouts were clean and neat, and very easy to navigate, but having to equip items was a little cumbersome.  There are also ample opportunities to save your progress, both during and after a battle.

Monster bashing!

The game tries to add a little spice to the monster bashing, by introducing quests that the party can undertake.  These were of the fetch this or kill that variety.  While not a quest, you even get to save a pink Poo Snake from being "flushed."  I don’t know where it was going to be flushed, though the mechanism did look suspiciously like a toilet.  Yay!  And he joins your party.  He even carries a spear around in his pink coils of pooey-ness.  Yeah, that’s one character I don’t think I’ll ever forget. 

Nene can be a drama queen.

If you are a fan of RPGs or strategy games, Blue Dragon Plus is worth taking a look at. But if you are easily frustrated when your characters wander aimlessly to their doom, you will want to think twice.  Even the game’s good looks won’t make you feel better when your party loses a mission because of the questionable AI.

Lux-Pain to Ship with Exclusive Art Book

I love it when video games ship with exclusives, like art books, game guides, or music CDs.  I just received my copy of Legacy of Ys, and it had a music CD.  Knights in the Nightmare ships with a music CD and an art book. 

All first ship quantities of Lux Pain will come with an exclusive art book.  Now you can enjoy the creepy goodness of the game whenever the urge hits you.  But you have to order early, or you’ll miss out on all the fun.

 

Why doesn’t manga come with little goodies?  Bookmarks would be awesome, and so would sticker sheets. 

What are some of your favorite freebies?

Gearing up for the DSi

With the DSi on the horizon, the gamer girl in me is getting a little giddy.  Video games are what got me into anime and manga in the first place, which may sound like a round about way to start a decades long obsession, but old school RPGs played like animated storybooks.  Ys will forever hold a special place in my heart, and the SNES Final Fantasy games were the stuff of legend.  I am always excited at the possibility of a game that will bring back the joy of those adventures.  A couple of games that have me geeked are:

Knights in the Nightmare – Atlus – June 2, 2009 – I love most Atlus games, and this one incorporates strategy RPG, real-time strategy, and shooter elements.  I’m always a little hesitant when companies promise that their game will be the most unique gaming experience ever, because they seldom live up to the hype.  Still, I’m a sucker for fantasy settings, so I might have to give this one a chance.

Suikoden Tierkreis – Konami – March 17, 2009 – I have been playing Suikoden games for what seems like forever.  There’s nothing terribly unique about the game play anymore, but the running around searching for all 108 heroes has always been fun.  This game has an online component, where players can trade characters and items.  Unfortunately, I don’t see myself making much use of that feature, but these games have never failed to please.

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II – Atlus – Available Now – Yeah, yeah, so it came out on Feb 24, but I just ordered my copy today.  It may be a remake of an 80s game, but it was a great 80s game!  This made it worth buying the Turbo Duo, all by itself.  Loved it then, am curious to see if what I’ll think of it now.

Lux Pain – Ignition Entertainment – March 24, 2009 – This seems like a creepy, dark adventure, with plenty of horror elements to spice up the game play.  Set in historical Kisaragi City, “Silent” worms, born through hate or sadness,  plague the populace. The emphasis is on the storytelling, and the player gets to perform autopsies on worms.  Yeah, that might be fun…

There are a ton of interesting games on the horizon, and with the arrival of the DSi, I might actually be motivated to play a few.  What are you looking forward to checking out?

Rock Band Guitar Trouble? Help May Soon Be On the Way!

If you were lucky enough to score a copy of Rock Band and were less than thrilled with the flimsy guitar controller, have no fear!  Both Harmonix and EA have acknowledged that there are issues with the included controller, and they promise to make things all better.   Read about it here.

For those who were able to get their hands on the game, is it worth the lofty price tag?  Please let us know what you think of it!

The Evolution of Girls Dating Sims

There was an posted at The Daily Yomiuri that explores the history of dating sims for girls and women. 

With the high cost of porting the games into English, and low perceived interest in them,  it’s unlikely that any will make it over here.  I wonder if there is a market for these kinds of games in the States, and would like to think that with the popularity of manga among girls, there is one now.  With many manga properties based on the games, and some of them even licensed in the US, maybe some enterprising company will snap one up and release it in English.  Harukanaru Toki no Naka de and Kin-iro no Corda are both coming out from VIZ, so many they’ll give it a try?  I won’t hold my breath waiting, but it’s something I’d like to see released here.

Wii Profit Margins

Here’s an interesting article from GameDaily about the Wii profit margins. Nikko Citigroup analyst Soichiro Fukuda is cited by the Financial Times, estimating that the Wii makes a profit of $13 per system in Japan, $49 in the US, and $74 in Europe.

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime has indicated that an "unprecedented" supply of the systems will be available for the upcoming holiday season.  I have to raise my eyebrows at that one – it’s still pretty tough to get one in my neck of the woods.

Click here for the full article.