Monday, March 31, 2014

Shall We Do It? (leaving Bravely Default behind for a bit and playing Yoshi's New Island, Pokémon Battle Trozei and 3D Fantasy Zone instead)

I think I've reached my breaking point when it comes to playing Bravely Default.

It pains me to admit that, but it's true.

Of course, I've been hurtling toward this realization for some time now (since the middle of chapter six, if memory serves), so I'm not sure why I'm finding it so disappointing.

Maybe it's because I've come to really like the vast majority of this turn-based RPG--its characters, its setting, its soundtrack, its battle system--in the 75 or so hours I've spent with it thus far, and so it saddens me that one or two other aspects of the game are keeping me from wanting to finish it.

As for which aspects are bugging me: surprisingly, the wordiness I've complained about in past "Shall We Do It?" posts isn't one of them. Instead, one is related to where Bravely Default's story takes players during its second half (I'll stop there so as to avoid spoilers), while the other is related to some of the (overly cheap, in my opinion) optional boss fights that pop up near the end of the game.

So, I've decided to take a bit of a break from it. I fully plan to pick it up again soon, if only to finish the damn thing as quickly as possible (on easy, if need be), but I can't currently say when that's going to happen.

In the meantime, I'm going to spend my free time with a few other 3DS games--Yoshi's New IslandPokémon Battle Trozei and 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros., in particular.

Here are a few early-ish impressions of each of those recently released 3DS titles, in case any of you are interested:

3D Fantasy Zone: Opa-Opa Bros.--After years of turning my nose up at it, Sega's peculiar, pastel-filled shmup, Fantasy Zone, has really wormed its way into my heart in recent months. Because of that, I snatched up this 3D-enhanced version, which just hit the Japanese eShop last week, as soon as I was able.

So far, I've only spent about 30 minutes with it, but already I can tell I'm going to like it. A lot. In particular, I'm in love with the bevy of options that are available to players in this release. For instance, you can display the game using the original aspect ratio, you can make it fill the entirety of the 3DS' top screen or you can morph things a bit so it looks like you're playing it on an old, curved CRT monitor.

That said, pretty much all of the changes that are present here are superficial. The backbone is still a 28-year-old arcade game, so if that sounds at all unappealing to you, it may not be your thing. For me, though, I'm completely stoked that I can now play a slightly enhanced version of this wonderfully quirky little game on my 3DS whenever I feel like it.

Pokémon Battle Trozei--Although I've never been the biggest Pokémon fan, I've always been a fan of the series' colorful cast of creatures. I've also long been a fan of portable puzzle games, as anyone who has visited this blog for any amount of time can attest. So, I decided the second it was announced to pick up Pokémon Battle Trozei the day it hit the North American 3DS eShop--an event that took place just about a week ago.

Anyway, if you haven't yet educated yourself about this game (and there's certainly nothing wrong with that), here's the gist: it's a match-three puzzler than seemingly takes some cues from the über-popular Puzzle & Dragons.

There's a bit more to it than that, of course. For example: while matching panels on the bottom screen, you're also battling a handful (I've encountered between three and five per stage so far) "wild Pokémon" on the top screen. Reduce a creature's hit points to zero and you add it to your collection.

All of that's well and good, but so far the stages have gone by so quickly I've barely had time to acknowledge the presence of the Pokémon I'm facing at the moment let alone devise a proper strategy to use against it.

Thankfully, that hasn't mattered much up to this point. Should it become an issue on later stages, I could see it negatively impacting my enjoyment of the game, but for now I'm glad I decided to pick it up.

Yoshi's New Island--I've experienced a roller coaster of emotions since this game was revealed last April. Initially, I was beside myself with excitement, as the original Yoshi's Island is one of my all-time favorite games. After glimpsing a few rough-looking screenshots and videos of New Island at last year's E3, though, my excitement quickly turned to befuddlement.

I've since waffled back and forth between those extremes depending on the time of day (or so it has sometimes seemed) and the quality of the media I've most recently come across.

Now that I've played a good chunk of it (I've just started the sixth world), which of the previously expressed emotions--excitement or befuddlement--am I currently feeling in regard to Yoshi's New Island? Neither, to tell you the truth. I'm still enjoying the game quite a bit, though, despite the fact that it pales in comparison to its predecessor in nearly every single aspect.

The thing is, this New Island may not look as good as the old one, or sound as good, or feature controls that are as finely tuned, but even then I think it's a lot of fun to look at and listen to and play. It does seem to be slightly less engaging than the original so far, and it also feels a bit "cheaper" (as in, more difficult--in an unfair sort of way), but neither of those things are impeding my enjoyment of the game at the moment.

Are any of you also playing Yoshi's New Island--or Pokemon Battle Trozei or Bravely Default or even 3D Fantasy Zone? If so, what do you think of them so far?

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts


michaelstearns said...

I'm not playing any of these games but I do love Fantasy Zone. I never really gave it a thought until sometime several years ago when a friend recommended it and now it's one of my favorites, so this is yet another reason why I hope this run of Classics comes out over here. :) That said, I own the PS2 Fantasy Zone Collection with the new Fantasy Zone II DX included and can't even remember if I played it or not...

Do you know if the 3DS version includes the original song "Ne Ne Doushite" added to the Saturn version?

Also while looking for that song I found a couple videos showing some alternate bosses for certain stages! What's that about? said...

Hey there, Michael! Yeah, this is a game I also passed over for a long time for no real reason. I love it now, though, and I dearly wish I owned the PS2 collection you mentioned here. I own the Sega AGES "remake" of the first Fantasy Zone (for PS2) but not the Fantasy Zone Complete Collection that includes FZIIDX.

As for the rest of your comment: sadly, I don't yet have a NicoNico account, so I can't watch the videos you linked to here. I'll do that this afternoon, though, and then let you know what I think!

michaelstearns said...

Yeah eventually I just had to set one up (luckily it's easy). I tried to find the song on youtube but had no luck there! said...

Hey there, Walter! I don't know if I would call it "Yoshi's Island for Gen-Y Babies," but I agree with pretty much everything else you've said here. Everything really "clicked" for me after a few worlds, and by worlds 4, 5 and 6 I was really, really happy with what was going on in this game.

Walter Beast said...

I mean, its Yoshi's NEW Island. For a NEW generation, ya know? Its like a remake/retelling of the first entry. Kind of like the new Total Recall or Amazing Spider-man. Throwsback, but also makes new again.
I'm only halfway through World 3, and I know some people don't want to admit it, but I find it just as enjoyable as the first one. Then again, I'm a sucker for art style in video games, and then one is all over the place. Some people complain about that, but I'm all for it. Same goes for the music. Not quite Kirby's Epic Yarn, but its just as soothing. Its like Yoshi's New Island brought to you by Baby's First channel, hah! said...

OK, I think I get what you meant by "Yoshi's Island for Gen-Y Babies" now. I generally take any use of "babies" in relation to games/gaming to mean "bad," but it seems that's not what you're trying to say here, right?

Anyway, I can't say I'm enjoying New Island as much as the original, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit and that's all that matters to me.

Also, if you're only in World 3, all I can say to you is "just wait!" I really, really, enjoyed World 5, especially, for all sorts of reasons, although 4 and 6 were awesome, too.

Walter Beast said...

Oh yeah, totally. Not bad, just saying its for the new generation. I mean, if I was twelve when I played this game just like the first, I would LOVEEEE it. But of course, its not going to capture that magic because we had our Yoshi's Island. And I'm almost 30yrs old now, haha. But I still find it entertaining. Maybe "as much as the first" is a bit of an overstatement, but definitely enjoying it personally. Just like you said.
Oh man, yeah, I keep peaking and trying to see what worlds lie ahead, and I can't wait to get to them!

TheGameroomBlitz said...

I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time getting into the original Yoshi's Island. I'm playing it on the Game Boy Advance right now, and it seems like every new stage brings with it another aggravating, Yoshi-squishing gimmick. There are polygonal drums in the first castle that dump you into lava, falling stone blocks in the Meet the Koopas stage ("Whew, I just made it! What the hell, there are MORE? And now I can't escape?!"), and Chain Chomps that jump into the foreground, in the first stage! Forget the lullaby music and the crayon-colored graphics, this game is stone-cold sadistic!

I haven't played 3D Fantasy Zone yet, although I'm tempted. I do wish they would have went for Super Fantasy Zone for the Genesis, however, since it's a prettier, more advanced game. said...

I've never played the GBA port of Yoshi's Island, Jess, so I can't say how it may differ from the SNES original in any significant way. That said, I definitely can agree with you that the game, in general, isn't a pushover--which is one of the many reasons I like it, by the way :)

Anyway, I'd suggest sticking with it, as it's truly one of my all-time favorite games, but in the end if it's just not your thing, well, there's nothing wrong with that, either.

As for 3D Super Fantasy Zone: oh, would that be glorious! Or, how about 3D Fantasy Zone II DX? (What a mouthful the latter is/would be!)

Who knows? Maybe if this series, in general, and this specific game, in particular, sells well enough we'll get either/both of those in the future :) said...

I hear/get what you're saying, Walter. Anyway, I can't wait to hear what you think of the game's later worlds and stages--and of course the final boss encounters :)

Freezair said...

I never played the original Pokemon Trozei, but I'm loving its sequel. Its quickness is part of the reason I'm liking it myself--it's fast and chaotic, and I find myself thinking less of strategy and more how long I can keep an increasingly frenzied chain going. Considering that clearing boxes and making huge chains seems to be what makes most of the special Pokemon appear, I find myself treating it as an exercise in keeping the chains going long as possible, which I'm finding quite satisfying.

I have similar weird feelings about Yoshi's New Island, though I'll probably buy it eventually. Like TheGameroomBlitz, I'm not actually a big fan of the original. I've played both the SNES and GBA versions, and while I had fun with it, I wouldn't put it in my top 10 (or even top 20) 2D platformers. But I have a weird attraction to the series such that I can't help but want to play every installment. I don't even know why, since I'm nowhere near that kind of fan of them--although I do have a lot of nostalgic love for Yoshi's Story--but "New Yoshi game" somehow turns into "Play ASAP" with me! Weird. Eerie. Possibly proof that Yoshies themselves are an addictive substance. We may never know. said...

You've definitely got a point about the thrilling nature of Pokemon Battle Trozei, Freezair. I still wish the action were a *bit* less hectic, but at least in its current state I'm never going to be able to say it bores me :)

I'm surprised to hear you feel the need to play every Yoshi game when you didn't really like the original Yoshi's Island. I thought most of us continue to buy and play the games because we're hoping beyond hope that Nintendo is able to find that game's "magic" again ;)

I also have fond memories of Yoshi's Story, by the way. I don't like the game as much as I like Yoshi's Island or New Island, mind you, but I still like it quite a bit.

Anyway, as such, I'll be curious to see what Yarn Yoshi looks like if and when Nintendo shows it off again....

Justin Difazzio said...

I didn't realize Pokemon Battle Trozei was out! Sweet! I'm gonna have to snap that up. I just got Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, too...but I've pledged to finish Bravely Default before I start anything else, otherwise I think maybe I won't ever finish it. I need a prod or I'll give up. I'm at about the 30 hour mark. Maybe a little further. About to awaken the earth crystal and, I assume, find out about the second half of the game, about which I am WAY curious but am trying to avoid any spoilers. said...

Yep, it's out, and I'm liking it pretty well. It fell by the wayside this last week while I played through Yoshi's New Island (review coming shortly!), but I'll go back to it again this weekend or next week, for sure.

As for Bravely Default: yes, keep at it, I say--if only so you can share with me your reaction to the second half.

Without spoiling anything (I hope!), I will say that the initial surprise of the second half didn't bother me at all. It was some later surprises that nearly killed my interest in the game :|

That said, I'm going to be doing some traveling today and on Saturday, and I'm going to do my best to finish the game then.

Will I play it after that? Who knows? One thing I will do, though, is play through both FFV and The 4 Heroes of Light soon, in part to see if those games really are better than BD (which is my current line of thinking).

Freezair said...

I think it might be that I just love the Yoshi "mechanic"--slurp stuff up with your tongue, throw eggs, flutter jump--such that I enjoy games that use it even when I'm not a big fan of it. I am TOTALLY psyched for Yarn Yoshi, though, and hope it makes a dashing reappearance. I really loved Epic Yarn, and I think part of the reason why may be because it had a "Yoshi-like" vibe with the yarn whip being like the tongue. I suppose I should clarify that while I did enjoy my time spent with the first Yoshi's Island, it wasn't crazy impressive to me. I could do a whole analysis on why (indeed, it's something I've thought a lot about, especially since it's a game where my opinion and the widely "accepted" opinion differ), but it mostly boils down to the fact that I find the controls too slippery and the level design does some Things I don't like. Actually, from what I hear, YNI fixes one of those Things (the way red coins/flowers are handled), so who knows? I might actually like it better! said...

Oh, yes, I really like the mechanics that make up the Yoshi platformers, too. Combined, they make for a uniquely fun experience, IMO.

As for Yarn Yoshi: yes, I really hope it reappears soon, too. Maybe at this year's E3?

I'm not entirely sure I'd agree that YNI changes or even improves how YI handled things like red coins or flowers, BTW. That said, it's been a while since I've played through YI (I recently played a few levels of it, but not much more than that), so it's possible/likely I'm forgetting something here.