Tag Archives: JRPG

White Knight Chronicles International Ed. Cover

White Knight Chronicles (PS3) Review

I still remember back in 2010, I know nothing about this game. I was at the gaming department of the store and I thought the cover looked cool and I am going to have a fun with it. So, I bought the game on a whim. Subconsciously, I already know that it’s a high-quality game. After all, if you are fan of Rogue Galaxy developed by Level-5 and Japan Studio, it has that same adventurous charm. I didn’t play the game as soon as I bought it. At the time, I was a college student who was overwhelmed with intense writing courses (whoever said writing is easy should really think twice). I waited until summer break to the play game. As I mentioned before in my previous blog post: Fashionable JRPG Video Games (PS3), the game has a high learning curve, and I didn’t feel like sitting hours learning the gaming mechanics when my time was occupied with school work. This is definitely not the game you can play with a breeze if you want to enjoy the game to its max, especially for someone as thorough as me. It really is a hit or miss game to some folks.

Initially, I thought the story to this game is generic. To some extent, yes, but I didn’t mind it so much playing the second time around. The male protagonist, Leonard is a shiny white-knight armor who has come to rescue a princess named Cisna who happens to be a reincarnation of a queen from an ancient civilization. He later learns that he is one of the 5 knights who was chosen during infant for the purpose of an ancient war that never did got resolved. I think I said more than I should about the plot but the game only takes about 30 hours to complete if you just focus on the story. It’s not so long for a JRPG and this is where it might turn off some JRPG fans who emphasize on story. Keep in mind though, there are three parts to this series: White Knight Chronicles II and White Knight Chronicles Origins (available only on the PSP). However, unlike Tales of Arise, which I thought has a mediocre story, the game has so much to offer in terms of gameplay and stage designs, which often go unnoticed by video game reviewers because most people review games from a player and not from a creative perspective. Some of the stages reminded me of going through a maze. It’s pretty massive for those who love to explore. It’s a puzzle in itself. It’s biggest selling point, however, is the ability to create your own hometown and upload its online server for other players to visit, join and create quests. For someone who doesn’t play MMORPG, it was actually exciting. I get to meet other random players.

I have never played Monster Hunter, but it is sort of similar to that. You grind to get rare drops to enhance your armor or weapon, and oh boy when you do finally get the rare drop from so many attempts, you get that adrenaline rush. I wonder is that the same feeling that gamblers experienced? Anyway, you can see how addictive the game is. Sometimes not for the better. I had to say NO to online games because of this game, which apparently, I didn’t play many of them beforehand, but it only takes one to let me know if it’s the type of game I want to invest my time in. Also, the social part of the game can be quite entertaining because we all know that players are more unpredictable than playing with an AI. The downside is that time is precious and I got other games to complete, which is why I tend to stick with single-player games.

For some JRPG fans, this is a terrible game, but for a few of us–this game is really fun. It’s a hybrid game: half single-player game and half-multiplayer game. It’s an interesting concept for the Playstation3 that offers a seamless, relaxing game experience. The combos and moves are pretty fun to execute. It also has an excellent soundtrack. On top of that the cutscenes are far more charming and impressive than Tales of Arise. I hope someday, this franchise would return. It has a lot of potential and it’s definitely a work of art.

Alphen and Shionne standing side by side

Tales of Arise Review: A Pretty Mediocre Game

I was watching Bambi, the Disney cartoon, and I am reminded, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say at all.” But I sort of disagree with that statement. Agreeing for the sake of keeping good company is a bad thing for mental health even if your opinion goes against the consensus. After all, the game did preach to the audience that we shouldn’t be slave to someone’s ideas (critics). I wouldn’t be creating this blog if I didn’t somehow feel like it’s the only safe place where I can voice my opinions. I do this out of my own terms as a gaming enthusiast. All of my posts, I have been very civil about my dislikes and likes. And sometimes, I do feel bad for not liking a certain aspect of a game, film or book because I know that it’s easier to critique than to create. However, I still stand by what I believe: Tales Arise is just a pretty mediocre game.

First off, I won’t into go into lengthy details and point out all the things I didn’t like about the game because anything that is considered unpleasant means work to me, and I don’t want to do that unless I get paid to critique. Instead, I will talk about the positives. Where Tales of Arise shines is its powerful political statement: It stands for friendship, warmth, love, freedom and all the good things people seek in life. On top of that, it has an epically beautiful open world. What more can you ask for in a JRPG? Well, this is where it becomes a matter of taste and preference: If video game is art then I didn’t feel a connection with this artwork. I prefer the works done by the folks on Tales of Xillia and Vesperia more.

While playing the game, I had to remind myself that it was the franchise’s 25th anniversary and there is something to celebrate. The entire game is just epically flashy from the dialogues, cutscenes, battles, music to the overall atmosphere. It’s undeniably a well-polished game that went as far as giving out an epic speech about liberty and freedom and challenging the very existence of one’s being in the universe. And yet underneath it all, Tale Arise is really nothing new in the JRPG department. It’s just a really pretty game to look at with a polished gameplay (if button mashing is your thing, that is). But it made me wonder, if it was directed by a different game director, would I have enjoyed this game more?

Would I recommend this game to those who have not played Tales games? Yes and no. No, if I were a 14 year old girl and this was my first JRPG, I probably would not have liked it. It feels as if I was sitting in Sunday’s School class being lectured on morality, but yes, if you want to play a high quality JRPG. It’s really a pretty game and I can see the huge effort put into it. However, it’s definitely not the game for those who want to escape into solitary away from society; or who is looking for some good humor to laugh at life itself; or who want superb storytelling; and/or most importantly to a gaming enthusiast like myself, a fun innovative gameplay.

Since I like to leave on a positive note, one thing I like about this game is the message that you don’t have to walk alone all the time. Needing one another is not a form of weakness, it’s a form of strength. Life is so much better when we are in pairs. Don’t be the lonely villain who is full of hatred.

Tales of Xillia for the PS3 Review: ‘We All Just Want to Live’

May contain minor spoilers. This is a story focused structure-like essay review with some criticisms. May be the longest review I have ever written for this blog. I suppose it’s a nice way to end the year.

If you are a do-gooder who cares a lot about living organisms (yes, that includes destructive human beings) and you enjoy reading science college textbook, you’re going love this game. First off, you probably took an introduction course to biology and came across the term symbiosis. If I were to sum up the entire story to Tales of Xillia (developed by Namco released 2011), that is the structure to the story of which it involves. So, despite what some professional reviewers said about this game, it’s not just another generic JRPG story saving the world. In fact, I would even argue that there’s no saving the world in this game but rather protecting it. Tales of Xillia is about how life forms help each other to exist: humans and spirits coexisting and working in harmony or humans and an advanced technology called spyrites coexisting and working in harmony. I think you get the gist. In this story, there’s no real main evil villain and there’s a lot of philosophical conversation that happens among the characters, on top of the added humor. Does that sound like your cup of tea? Hey, I could always play a feel-good game in this day and age. The skits among the characters got me laughing hard; apparently, I did not view all of them as there is a trophy for it called Obsessive Skit Viewer. It is awarded to Xillia’s most dedicated couch potatoes. Wow, what a lovely way to mock your audience. You should be happy that your game is being purchased and played or else you wouldn’t have a job. The joke is on you too! I digress. Whatever happens to the concept of symbiosis that the game was so focused on preaching.

Joke aside, I did spend enough time with the game to have the characters grow on me. What I like the characters in this game is how imperfectly admirable they are. They got a lot of evolving to do which makes them a charming bunch. Yes, that includes Milla Maxwell who is a spirit that takes the form of a 20 year-old woman and who learns that there are limitations to being a human such as hunger and emotions; Jude Mathius an indecisive med-student who cares too much and lacks direction; Elize, an orphan child who suffers from verbalizing her thoughts and thus making friends, which is why she is accompanied by a “talking toy” named Teepo; Alvin, a lonely shady mercenary who changes sides like the unpredictable weather; Rowen, an old passive, self-conscious military tactician who fails to lead; and lastly, Lei, a childhood friend of Jude who lacks femininity and grace to attract a partner and start a family of her own. They are not the ideal heroes and heroines you see in most video games and that is exactly what I like about it. In fact, they are a bit on the “special” side. In other words, they are unevolved human beings. They are characters you can sympathize and relate with. After all, as a human being, “There’s always room for improvement,” says Rowen, the character who is often referred to grandpa by the other characters because of his age.

In contrast to the heroes and heroines, the “villains” aren’t all that evil as they appear. What’s separate them from the heroes and heroines is their outlook in life. And here I will mention again, where I came to the conclusion about the plot and how I refer it to symbiosis. The “good” and the “bad” guy have the same mission and that is to protect what they hold dear to them. In fact, when life forms help each other to their benefits it’s called symbiosis. One does not have to kill the other in order to survive. They just co-exist and even strengthens one another. So, it’s no surprise that the villains seem a bit one dimensional and stiff to my liking and even laughable and unrealistic. They could have been explored a bit more. At times, I felt as if they served a purpose only to give depth to the heroes and heroines by highlighting and contrasting their weaknesses. As absurd as it sounds, the heroes and heroines can learn some useful traits from the villains such as having a clear mission in life. They are “evil” for a reason because they stay true to their conviction. For this reason, the characters are not the game’s strongest strength rather it’s the concept of symbiosis and its humor that take the spotlight in the story.

But of course, the game has more to offer than its creative storytelling. The gameplay is flashy and fun! There are enough places to explore and gather materials to enhance shops. I found it quite addictive, just collecting materials and galds (video game currency). I like how I am rewarded for unlocking more items in each shop (foods, items, accessories, weapons, armors etc.) so I can make characters stronger in battles because the game battle system is entertainingly fun. I could easily get sucked into grinding for materials to expand these shops which may reach to level 99 or 100. The furthest I got with one of the shops is level 90. I stopped there since story is the main reason, I played the game for and I already clocked in 88 hours! So here I give my 2 cents on game design: I find it ironic how the male protagonist is as an honor med student. I bet he doesn’t play video games during his break because he is too busy hitting the books. If you are going to preach to your audience (which is probably your typical 20 year-old college student), you got to learn how not to slap his or her face at it. Only hardcore trophy hunters would spend hours on this game. Yeah, in life you can’t please everyone. Perhaps, you should practice what you preach and take Milla Maxwell’s route: stick to a point. As for the boss fights, they were challenging but not too difficult. There’s some strategy involved for those who like to tinker and customize their characters. And for those who just want to experience the story, the player can always select the option to optimize their character skills automatically. The only effort from the player is to mash certain buttons while in battle. Yep, this game is for you button masher! Not so difficult to learn. In fact, gameplay is quite generous. If you failed a boss fight, it opens the battle menu for players to re-strategize the characters. I found that extremely helpful and rewarding when I do finally defeat the boss. It’s a casual game that is manageable towards the end of the day. However, the down side to the gameplay is that on your second play through, the enemy and boss encounters can get pretty easy and boring fast until you meet the final boss, which makes me question the game’s development and its consistency. The only reasons I can think of is to play the game the second time around with less effort since most players might just want to experience the story in their chosen protagonist (you can either start off the game as Milla Maxwell or Jude Mathius), and view the cinematic cutscenes and collect some materials to max out the shops for trophy purpose. The game was meant to be played twice. Regardless, I didn’t think it flow well from a player’s perspective, especially if the story is the focal point of the game.

Overall, I really did enjoy my time with this bright colored game and its colorful casts even though it’s not a perfect seamless game, but still quite impressionable and ambitious. The greatest thing I got out of this game is the reminder that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what is our life’s mission; whether it is to protect our family, support your love ones, make friends or lead a country etc., it’s important to stick to a mission and not waver. You can say that is a form of strength. In the end of it all, we fight because “We all just want to live,” I quoted Jude, the main male protagonist. From a gamer to another gamer, I highly recommend this game to any JRPG fan.

Ice Stages are the coolest in video games

My Video Game Shopping List: More JRPG Games

Looking back this year, all I played are RPG games and going forward I will continue to play lengthy games which require big time investment. There’s something addictive about it, especially when you started learning and appreciating the battle system of the game on top of great storytelling.

So far, I have put in 49 plus hours in Tales of Xillia. And just finished the game as Mila Maxwell. I have yet to play Jude Mathius’ route. Yes, you can select either one to complete the story. The replay value is great for gamers who want to get the most out of their money. I remember I only spent 20 dollars on the limited edition which came with an artbook and a soundtrack which is so cool because these days we don’t get artbook or a video game instruction pamphlet anymore.

Like books, I do feel accomplished for beating a great game. And will probably look into other Tales games afterwards. Its cinematic cut scenes are high quality and refreshing. I found myself sometimes just watching the opening trailer over and over before hitting the Continue button. Games like this reminded me why I started hunting for quality games in the first place. Will give Tales of Xillia proper review at a later time.

So here are three games in my shopping cart:

1) Sakura Wars

Videogame shopping list

Out of pure curiosity, I want to see what the hype is all about. A few random gamers on Twitter kept praising the game saying how it missed the radar. You know how fanatic gamers can get defensive about their games. It’s like religion. So, being the skeptic that I am, I want to play the game for myself. Then I can make the decision and write it on my blog because I’m a passionate gamer and I don’t have anything else better to do such as wasting time on social media! Oh wait, I think I am a hypocrite. I did hear about the game on Twitter where busy adult gamers randomly tweet video game stuff.

2) Neo: The World Ends With You

video game shopping list

My brother told me about this game and anything brother likes is most likely good. In fact, I used to go to him for video game recommendations and it never fails. So, this one is going on my backlog once I purchase it! Plus, according to an article I read recently, it didn’t sell well. I’m all for advocating for niche games so they are definitely getting my business.

3) Tales of Arise

Well…no mystery here. I actually enjoy the Tales series and appreciate quality games so I know the chance of being disappointed is slim. Unless, the series becomes like Dynasty Warrior games, then I might get tired eventually. Right now, a good story and some pretty visual gameplay that are manageable is what I’m looking for. Games like Elder Ring can wait. I’m just not in the mood for another soul-like game. All thanks to the git gud fan base. I still have not completed Dark Souls II DLCs. It is a shame because I love Fromsoftware as a game developer. They produce some high- quality games for sure. But like any business, you got to cater towards your customers to keep them coming back and sometimes that’s not always good for developers and gaming enthusiasts.

Yes, I know it’s all PS4. I am not in rush to buy PS5 and I am a PlayStation fan. It’s really all about the innovation and the story for me more than the competitive play. It just happens that PlayStation console wins my time.

Well, that’s it for now. I know I am a little late, and a little tardy as I normally post on Mondays. I am only human. Hope you found something interesting on this list!

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 (2021): My Impression

I am going to do something a bit more casual here. I am going to write an impression instead of a review because I am not here to sell you anything but give you my impression of the game as a fellow gamer who is just trying to help out some gamers out there whether you should play this game or not. so I’m too lazy to articulate my thoughts, especially after playing a heavy loaded game like this. I have already put over 60 hours of gameplay into this game. Not going to 100 % it. I did it with Nier Gestalt years ago, but would at least try to 100 % the side quests. Currently, while writing this post, I’m at 83%. Weapons completion is also important as well. This is a story driven game. You would appreciate the story more by completing these tasks.

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 released 2021 of April, is not a remake or a remaster of Nier Gestalt (2010). It’s more closely related to the Japan’s version Nier Replicant which players play as the brother instead of the father. Some additional content have been added to this upgraded version to flesh out the story. So if you have played Nier Gestalt and wonder whether you should purchase it, you should but not at full price. You are not missing much. It’s just less convoluted than the one released in 2010. Perhaps, this is what some players need, a straightforward story?

The upgraded version gameplay feels a lot smoother and fluid like you would play in Nier Automata (2017). Gameplay is very simple: hack and slash with plenty of of weapons and magic to choose from, although let me warn you that gameplay was never the game biggest strength. I stick to one weapon and two magic: Dark Lance and Dark Hand the entire time. As for difficulty settings, there are Normal Mode which is really Easy Mode and Hard Mode. I can only imagine what Easy Mode is like. You’d go through the game without a sweat. Well I can see it being an option, if you are into speed run. Some of the trophies required players to beat a boss with a certain amount of time. And if you are just interested in experiencing the story, then there is no reason to play on Normal or Hard Mode.

Without spoiling the story for those who have not experienced this masterpiece (yes it was a masterpiece in my eyes when I first played it). It’s about a brother who is trying to find a cure to the disease called Black Scrawl which has inflicted his sister. There are some heavy topics such as body dysmorphia, homosexual and borderline incest introduced in this game. Yes, it’s not your typical heroes and heroine you see every day. They are humans, but are they?

As I mentioned earlier, the side quests add to the story so don’t skip them. They are fun and addictive with a twisted sense of humor. The greatest attribute to this game is the soundtrack, however the music arrangement is not as on point like in Nier Gestalt, which did affect my experience. I didn’t like how it sounds unnaturally flawless. So, I didn’t enjoy the game to its max. It feels kind of soulless. Well, it’s not soul’s game if that’s what you are expecting. If I were to compare this game with Nier Gestalt, I would still pick Nier Gestalt over Nier Replicant, playing as a father seems more logical. I don’t know though, I never had brothers who go to an extreme to protect me so it didn’t make any sense to play as an overly protective brother.

Although I can say, I know what it is like to be the protective big sister. I guess there is some similarity in that sense, or it’s just the fact, I’m as crazy as the protagonist. I just like killing stuff. Clearly though, the game was not intended for female demographic but why is it so popular among female players? That’s something to think about.

So what’s so great about this game? Well, it’s the story. The soundtrack, but more importantly how it was executed. The game allows players to see in different angles and it starts to question your morality. Who are the real humans? Even if you think you are right, does that justify killing?

I think you get my point. The game will make you think about your actions. Are you really righteous?

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy me talking about video games you can follow me on Twitter @Poetry_Huntress for gaming tweets and blog updates.

My Notes on Nier Automata

Originally posted 6/18/2017. Re-blogging in celebration to one of my all time favorite game–Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139 which will be released 4/23/2021. 

I highly recommend playing the game before reading this post.  I will not elaborate the storyline into details.  My intention is to share my summary of the game which may differ from yours.

For those who followed this blog from the beginning probably knew that I was anticipating for Nier Automata (2017) ever since its announcement.  In fact, I was very hungry to play another game like Nier (2010)  and was hoping Drakengard III (2013) would be just as good. To my disappointment, I  didn’t enjoy it as much mainly because of the frustrating gaming mechanics ( I didn’t enjoy flying the dragon).  And yet I stuck with it because of the storyline and it’s humorous dialogue.  I have not reached the ultimate, final boss yet which I heard was difficult.

I had to stop the game because I couldn’t understand  Zero’s (the protagonist) cruel intention to kill all her sisters. The character was hard for me to relate.  I was definitely playing a killer.  But after I watched Yoko Taro’s interview Philosophy of Violence, I learned to appreciate his approach in storytelling and the concept behind it.  I realized Zero’s behavior is natural, but primitive.  Instinctively we want to remove whatever is in our path.  Defeating our obstacles give us a sense of control and remove all of our competitions.  However, if we killed everyone in our way, we would end up dying alone and the aftermath would be Nier Automata.

I came to conclusion because I had to grasp my head around this killing frenzy around Yoko Taro’s games,  so I categorize his three games that I played into the following:

  • Drakengard III- killing to be the only one
  • Nier Gestalt- killing is justified as long as you think it is right
  • Nier Automata- killing loneliness

*One important thing to note, this is just my notes for the time being.  I really would like to complete the Drakengard series *

Onward to the main topic,  so when I started Nier Automata, I already knew it was about killing.  The game started off strong, which reminded me of Xenoblade Chronicles’ introduction where the characters are thrown into battle against the machines.   Once I arrived to a safe place (a city reclaimed by Mother Nature), I sensed that I was entering a world where a great civilization (mankind in general) once stood, but mysteriously drove itself to extinction.

NieR:Automata_20170310182757

All we have left are machines and androids fighting one another.  In some ways, the game has a particular viewpoint about existence, which is hard not to notice if you do the side quests. It clearly pointed out that all lifeforms don’t want to fight all the time– they just want to co-exist. What meaning is there to killing? Why?

The real motive behind all the killing is more than just impaired thinking–it’s loneliness.   In the end, no one stands. But the tragedy is not the cycle of destruction, it’s actually the inability to view the world harmoniously, which is probably why 2B and 9S wear blindfolds. They exist to take orders without comprehending their actions.

NieR:Automata_20170325091138

I won’t go any further into details about the game’s concept because I am beginning to develop my own theory, which is probably not what the game intended.  I do just want to mention my overall experience with the game is good, but it is not one of my favorites. I like the first installment more partly due to nostalgia. Even though, I did not enjoyed the game as much, the game made me want to play Ikaruga, which has been sitting in my backlog of games to play.

Lastly, my final thought in regards to Nier Automata,  I’m starting to understand that it’s difficult to introduce big ideas and incorporate gameplay due to unforeseen limitation (e.g, technical, budget, translation etc.).  So I really do appreciate when game developers attempt to give meaning to their creation.

Well that is it for now. Thanks for reading guys. Until next time, take care!

P.S

Think I will play Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon next to clear my backlog before I jump into a new game.  My backlog began to grow back in 2010-2011 when I started playing co-op/multiplayer games. It is time to seriously tackle the single-player games list!

Welcome to Halsdoll’s Boutique!!! Code Vein Photo Shoot–A Fun Co-Op Adventure J-RPG GAME!!!(Mini-Review)

It’s a shame that Code Vein doesn’t have more clothing selection because that would stop my dress addiction purchases because as much I like it, I rarely wear a dress in public. Only during special occasions such a recent interview where I wore a black dress for the first time that I bought back in 2018. Thought it would be nice to sale clothes for a living since I am in between jobs. I just don’t want anything mentally strenuous so I can focus on my health and this blog, but unfortunately the plan didn’t work. I should have not dressed like I was going to the funeral at a preppy high-end store that has a lawsuit on its back for racism (Black Lives Matter!). Oh well, at least I get to wear a dress and a black one too! Now I did recall, the interviewee asked me what is my style. I couldn’t answer her at the time, but now I know–it’s the classic edgy, librarian. Yep, it’s not going to work!

Today, I present my fashion catalog to my boutique and briefly summarize the game. The highlight of this game for me was changing my character’s appearance. Perhaps, digital dresses might not be such a bad idea in terms of game design for a soul-like game. I know I will grind for a pretty dress. Dresses are like flowers; it relaxes me.

Code Vein, developed by BANDAI NAMCO Studios, released in 2019, is a great co-op/solo game with a lot of playstyle customization, which I won’t go into details because there are plenty of YouTube videos on it. If you are the type who enjoy trying out different weapons and codes (just another term for class) and changing you character’s appearance, this is the game for you. The amount of content is well worth the purchase, although the game is generic in the story department but it’s not so convoluted that’s hard for players to understand. Yes, it’s about humanity. It’s about corporation, service, interdependence, selflessness etc. All the good traits that make humanity beautiful. We don’t need to live in a single minded world where we have to choose the option between a prey and a predator.

Overall, it’s nice to play a feel good game that doesn’t bash humanity (I play games to escape reality, I don’t need to be reinforced how terrible the world is!). In terms of game design, obviously it took some parts from Dark Souls. Some bosses and monsters are a total ripped off done intentionally. The developers did it successfully to corporate those elements from souls’ games without jeopardizing their own creativity to create something new. Innovation is a risky business but ya gotta please your fans if ya still wanna job in the gaming industry.

Please enjoy Halsdoll’s Boutique photo shoot–one of the highlights of this game.

Thank you for browsing Halsdoll’s Boutique which may go out of business soon if I don’t start selling products that people want. Until, next see ya~