Friday, April 11, 2014

Shall We Do It? (saying sayonara to Bravely Default and Yoshi's New Island and konnichiwa to Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball and Etrian Odyssey IV)

After spending just over 100 hours playing it, I finally put a fork in (i.e., finished) Bravely Default on Wednesday.

In a way, I'm relieved, as a good handful--at least 10 or so, I'd say--of the final hours I spent with this 3DS RPG were not altogether enjoyable. I'm also kind of sad, though, as not only did I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the time I spent with the game, but I also got a real kick out of its final salvo.

So, where does that leave me in terms of how I feel about this title? Well, I no longer wish I'd never picked up a copy of it, I can tell you that much. In fact, after watching the captivating "special video" that's unlocked following the credit roll, I'm once again genuinely curious about the upcoming sequel.

I still believe the majority of the last third, if not the entire last half, of Bravely Default is flawed to the point that I have to imagine a lot of players will give up on it before ever encountering the end credits, mind you, but I also appreciate what its developers and writers were going for with that much-maligned section of the game--even if their execution of that vision left a lot to be desired.

Also, like I implied a few paragraphs ago, the last two battles really helped wash from my mouth the bad taste that had developed while I played through the bulk of the optional boss fights that preceded them.

Speaking of which, here's a little piece of late-game advice for anyone who may need it: if you find your interest in the game waning during any of its last three chapters (six, seven and eight), I'd highly recommend skipping the aforementioned boss battles--the optional ones, I mean--and instead focusing simply on what's required of you to complete them.

(To read some of my earlier impressions of Bravely Default, by the way, check out a few of my most recent "Shall We Do It?" posts. Also, keep an eye out for a "Great Gaymathon" review of the game that will be published in the next week or so.)

In other news, I also beat Yoshi's New Island last week after putting about 13 hours into it.

I'd like to save most of my comments about this just-released 3DS platformer for the review I'll be publishing early next week, but one basic thing I'd like to get off my chest here is that, in the end, I personally found Yoshi's New Island to be a worthy-enough successor to the original Yoshi's Island.

The key for me was that Yoshi's New Island was, for the most part, a lot of fun to play. Plus, I found its graphical stylings to be more than pleasant (and really, really well done in certain areas) and I even liked its laid-back soundtrack.

So, my recommendation to folks who are on the fence when it comes to this game: if you liked the SNES original, I'd at least consider picking up New Island if you're in the market for a 3DS platformer. And if you've never played Yoshi's Island? Again, I'd say that if you're in the mood for a platformer and you own a 3DS, you should at least consider giving it a try.

Just don't go into Yoshi's New Island thinking it's a cakewalk, because it isn't. Yes, it's easy to breeze through a good number of stages, but if you're playing the game as it's meant to be played--which means you're aiming to find and collect all of the flowers, red coins and stars hidden away in each level--you'll likely find it sufficiently challenging.

Now that I'm done with Bravely Default and Yoshi's New Island, which games am I calling on to fill whatever free time I have at the moment? One of them is Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, that Nintendo-made eShop-only title that was announced a few months back.

In case this is the first you've heard of it, Rusty's Real Deal Baseball is a free-to-play (initially, at least) compilation of baseball-themed mini-games. Basically. That's selling the title short, though, as along with all of the (very fun, in that "just one more try" kind of way that's surprisingly similar to Nintendo's Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku titles) mini-games that are packed into Real Deal Baseball there's an oddly and sometimes uncomfortably dark story that holds everything together as well as a similarly strange haggling aspect that comes into play whenever you decide to buy any of the 10 in-game "4DS" cartridges (each of which contain an assortment of unique mini-games).

Don't worry if some or all of the above doesn't make sense. The point I'm trying to make is that there's more to Rusty's than a couple of baseball-themed mini-games.

Anyway, I've handed over about $4 of real money in order to buy two of Rusty's in-game 4DS carts, "Bat & Switch--Hitting" and "Cage Match--Hitting," and I've devoted quite a bit of time to both of them thus far. Each in-game cartridge features a bevy of "challenges," by the way--as in, about 50. All of the challenges included in a particular cart (such as "Bat & Switch--Hitting") are similar to each other, but they also differ enough that it never feels like you're just doing the same thing over and over again.

One thing I think I should mention here: I'm not a baseball fan. At all. In fact, although I'm an athletic person, the only sport I care about in real life is tennis. Given that, I think it's kind of cool that I'm enjoying Rusty's as much as I currently am. In fact, I'm enjoying it so much that I'll very likely buy all of its in-game carts in the coming weeks. (Which should wind up costing me about $16, if what I've read on the Internet is true.)

Does that mean I think you, too, should spend $4, $8 or even $16 on this title? I'm not sure, to be completely honest. Thankfully, anyone can go and download the base game for free, so I'd highly recommend doing just that, if you're curious, and then playing through the six or so challenges that are unlocked from the outset. If you enjoy them, haggle with Rusty and buy the full version of "Bat & Switch--Hitting" from him after you've gotten him down to $2. From there, you should be able to decide for yourself if the rest of the content is worth your hard-earned money or not.

Even if you end up feeling like the game just isn't for you, though, the most you'll be out is a couple of bucks. So, what have you got to lose?

Last, but not least, I also started playing Etrian Odyssey IV on Wednesday--in large part so I could support my friend Anne's "Atlus Community Game-Along" event. So far, though, all I've done is create a "guild" and name a handful of party members (all after classic Final Fantasy characters, of course), so I can't say much about the experience right now. I promise to spend some more time with it this coming weekend, though, and report on any and all progress I've made next week.

In the meantime, which games are all of you playing right now, and are you enjoying them?

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

After taking in its first trailer, I'm still hot to trot for Nippon Ichi's htol#NiQ (Vita)

I'd be even more hot to trot (hotter to trot?) for this upcoming Vita game if said trailer, below, did a better job of showing or explaining how it will play, of course, but even in its current state I'm still pretty hot for it.

The game's full title is Hotaru no Nikki, by the way, which translates to something akin to Firefly's Diary or Firefly Diaries.

A digital version of htol#NiQ will hit the Japanese PlayStation Store (with a price tag of 3,086 yen, or approximately $30) on June 16, while a "premium box" will arrive at retail (for about $58) on the same day.

See also: 'You say htol#NiQ, I say gorgeous Vita game'

The day we've all (or at least three or four of us have) waited for has arrived: Tomodachi Collection is coming to Europe and North America this June

Surprisingly, the bigwigs at Nintendo have decided to retain the Tomodachi part of this seemingly crazy 3DS game's Japanese title, although in the Western world the game will be known as Tomodachi Life rather than Tomodachi Collection: New Life.

Oh, and it will hit both European and North American store shelves on June 6. (It'll carry a price tag of $34.99 in the latter region; I'm not yet sure what it'll cost in the former.)

For more information on this zany life sim, check out its first trailer, below.

If you'd like a more in-depth look at Tomodachi Life, both of Nintendo's Western arms uploaded rather in-depth (and completely bananas) Nintendo Direct broadcasts devoted to the game early this morning. Watch the North American one here, and the European one here.

See also: 'We interrupt this program to inform you that Tomodachi Collection: New Life is almost assuredly heading West'

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

It's always a good time for Chrono Trigger fan art, don't you think?

Although I've never played through Chrono Trigger (yes, my head is bowed in shame), I watched my older brother play through enough of it back in the day to feel like I played through it myself.

Don't worry, I'm not planning to go through life without actually experiencing this classic RPG all by myself. In fact, I'd like to finally give it a go sooner rather than later. (The question is, should I opt for the SNES original or the DS port that was released a couple of years ago?)

In the meantime, though, I'll have to make due with staring at the awesome Chrono Trigger-inspired poster collection concocted earlier this year by artist Mikaël Aguirre (aka Orioto).

The one to the right, "Renaissance," is my favorite of the six Aguirre created, but all of them are pretty darn great, in my humble opinion.

You can see the rest of them, by the way, by heading over to Aguirre's deviantART gallery. Oh, and you can buy either posters or framed prints of each of the pieces at Posters will run you between $16 and $42, while framed prints are $97 to $162.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Manual Stimulation: BurgerTime Deluxe (GameBoy)

Get ready for the return of the creepy BurgerTime Deluxe cover girl.

Thankfully, you're only going to have to look at her once in this post--as opposed to the numerous times readers were forced to look at her in my first write-up about this otherwise adorable GameBoy title.

To anyone who didn't believe me when I suggested a second ago that the rest of the Japanese BurgerTime Deluxe instruction manual was pretty darn cute: please check out the following pair of pages and then try to tell me that the illustrations of the game's protagonist are anything less than awww-inspiring.

The drawings that rest atop the next pair of pages--the first of which is dubbed the "Wonderland of BurgerTime Deluxe" and likely details the game's thrilling backstory--are even cuter, in my opinion.

Sorry, there are no cute illustrations to be found on the next couple of pages.

Don't worry, the designers responsible for this miniature manual are quick to bring back the drawings.

I don't know about you, but I find BurgerTime Deluxe's cast of enemies (shown on the left-hand page above) to be kind of bizarre. I mean, the "wiener" and pickle make sense, but the cracked egg and doughnut are questionable at best.

I'm sad to have to say that I'm not entirely sure what information the pages above and below are supposed to pass on to readers, although I'm pretty sure the left-hand page above explains BurgerTime Deluxe's password system and the pages below discuss its multi-player mode.

Regardless, there are a couple more adorable illustrations on the last few pages, so who really cares what all of the text around them is supposed to tell readers, right?

See also: previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts