Friday, November 07, 2014

I've spent two weeks with Fantasy Life (3DS) and here's what I think of it so far

The copy of Fantasy Life I pre-ordered months ago and have longed for ever since has been in my hands--or, rather, crammed inside my pink-and-white 3DS XL--for just about two weeks now.

In those 15 or so days, I've spent more than 45 hours with this Level-5-made title. (In fact, nearly 12 of those 45 hours occurred during my first weekend with the game.)

Given that, you might assume I consider Fantasy Life to be the greatest thing since sliced bread (or whatever the gaming equivalent of that would be). It's not, of course. Oh, it's a pretty stellar game overall, no doubt about it, but it's also got its share of flaws--with its sluggish start and subsequent wordiness being the two biggest.

My character, Lenna, early on during my playthrough.

Aside from those unfortunate niggles, though, I've found Fantasy Life to be an absolute joy to play thus far. As for why that is, here are what I hope to be a few pertinent thoughts:

Job number one--There's no question that, for me, the main draw of Fantasy Life was its vaunted job system. Specifically, the ability to spend my time in this game as a blacksmith or carpenter or cook--or all three, along with any of its other nine occupations--was something I considered too enticing to pass up. And you know what? Doing just that is even more fun than I thought it would be. Granted, some of the jobs aren't entirely what you may have imagined them to be--as a cook, you don't really help run a restaurant, for instance--but even so they're quite a bit of fun. (Note: I've only worked on five "classes" so far: angler, blacksmith, mercenary, miner and woodcutter--though I plan on trying out carpenter, hunter and tailor this weekend.) The best part, in my humble opinion, is that whenever you tire of one occupation, you can simply switch to another until you're ready to give the original one another shot.

Fishing is, by far, my favorite "job."

How can they be baddies if they look so goodie?--I doubt anyone is going to describe Fantasy Life as the most attractive 3DS game they've ever come across, but that doesn't mean it's not pretty darn easy on the eyes. That's especially true of the multitudes of enemies that players encounter while traversing its overworld. A healthy percentage of them wouldn't be out of place in a Dragon Quest game--and I mean that in the best possible way. Lumbering dragons, loping panthers, swooping owls and even shuddering trees (palm trees, in fact) abound, and all of them are admirably--and amusingly--constructed and animated. (One of my favorites is the blue bear who cartoonishly pirouettes upon being slain.) Oh, and the many men and women (and other creatures) who tend to accompany players on their journeys are similarly impressive from both a design and animation standpoint.

Although I also enjoy exploring caves.

The soundtrack of my life--Although I'm sure renowned composer Nobuo Uematsu has his detractors, I've never been one of them. As such, it shouldn't be too surprising to hear me say that I'm fairly enamored with Fantasy Life's soundtrack. The tunes that resonate with me most are those that are subtle and atmospheric--like the shimmering one that kicks in at the top of Mount Snowpeak or the one that's present while exploring Cacto Cove. The rousing, bombastic ones--like the jaunty overworld and boss-battle themes--are nice, too, don't get me wrong, but I tend to prefer the softer, more lyrical ones.

I told you I like fishing.

Whack-a-mole? More like whack-everything-in-sight--Another area of Fantasy Life that's really dug its claws into me so far is its battle system. Actually, it feels kind of funny to call what's present here a battle "system," as it isn't all that different from what's found in games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (or A Link to the Past before it). Still, the combos and charged attacks that are included in Fantasy Life add just enough depth to the proceedings for them to seem fresh and fun--or at least keep them from seeming like brainless hack-and-slash affairs. Anyway, all that really needed to be said here is that, even after more than 40 hours of play, I still get a kick out of fighting this game's enemies--and that's not something you can say about a lot of RPGs these days.

Easily one of the prettiest areas of the game.

I know the above doesn't cover all that Fantasy Life has to offer, but I hope it covers enough to give interested parties an idea as to why I've enjoyed the game so much to this point--and why I'm not planning on putting it away anytime soon.

I'll do my best to share additional thoughts in an upcoming post or two (or maybe even--gasp!--a "Great Gaymathon" review), but in the meantime I'd like to hear from any of you who also are playing through this adorable RPG. What do you think of it so far? Which parts of it do you like best--or least?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

I think yesterday's Nintendo Direct sold me on Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. (3DS) and Splatoon (Wii U)

I'm especially enamored with Splatoon, which reminds me of something Sega's geniuses might've concocted back in the day, after encountering the footage below during yesterday's Nintendo Direct.

Honestly, what was shown of this upcoming Wii U title at this year's E3 event didn't impress me much. The following video, though, did just the opposite and even caused a huge grin to spread across my face.

As a result, Splatoon, which is being made by the software-development group at Nintendo of Japan that previously produced Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Nintendo Land, is now on my "Wii U wish list"--despite the fact that I still don't own a Wii U.

Who knows, maybe I'll finally buy one when the luscious-looking Kirby and the Rainbow Curse drops in February? (Which would give me a few months to break in the system before Splatoon hits the streets.)

Yesterday's Nintendo Direct also sold me on Project S.T.E.A.M. for 3DS, which will be hitting both physical and virtual store shelves throughout North America this coming spring (alongside The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, curiously enough).

As was the case with Splatoon, the E3 reveal of Project S.T.E.A.M. left me more than a smidge cold--which is pretty sad when you consider it's being developed by the mad scientists at Intelligent Systems, makers of the Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Paper Mario and WarioWare franchises.

The trailer (above) shown as part of the most recent Nintendo Direct, though, went a long way toward defrosting me in regard to this tactical title. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's now a shoo-in purchase for me, but it's at least a "probable pick-up" at this point.

How about all of you? Did yesterday's Nintendo Direct sell you on Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. or Splatoon or any of the other 3DS or Wii U games that were showcased?

Looks like I'm finally going to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

I don't know if you heard, but Nintendo finally, officially announced a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask for 3DS during yesterday's Nintendo Direct.

That "revelation" excited me less than it excited some folks, I'm sure--in part because Nintendo has been teasing this sucker for what seems like eons now--but it excited me nonetheless.

Why? Because I've never played this particular Zelda adventure. My older brother and I owned a copy of the Nintendo 64 original back in the day, but I never actually played it myself--though I did watch him play through a good chunk of it.

Anyway, I've wanted to experience it for some time now, but I've failed to do so because, well, I just haven't been all that interested in picking up a copy of the game and then shoving it into and playing it on my mothballed Nintendo 64. (I know I could buy it via the Wii's eShop, too, but I'm even less interested in going that route these days.)

Are any of you also Majora's Mask virgins who will be, uh, addressing that issue when the 3DS remake drops next spring?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

You don't need to be a Mega Man fan to dig this custom-painted PlayStation

I should know, as I haven't been much of a fan of Mega Man, the character or the series, since Mega Man X was released in 1993.

What can I say? The change in aesthetics just didn't appeal it for me, which I realize is an admittance that's akin to blasphemy.

Still, I'm bowled over by the custom-painted PlayStation that's showcased in the photo above.

It was produced, of course, by the artist who calls himself Oskunk. To see more photos of this creation, check out this post on Oskunk's blog, Custom Art.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

If you're going to own an EarthBound-inspired keychain (or two), it may as well be one of these

Although I need a bunch of keychains like I need a hole in the head, I'm seriously considering pre-ordering the "Mother 2 Kizetsu Plate" set shown below.

After all, these aren't your typical EarthBound/Mother 2 keychains; rather, they feature the game's four main characters--Ness, Paula, Poo and Jeff--in their "unconscious" states, halo-topped noggins and all.

For me, though, the standout of this set is the "teleport failure" keychain. That's the one I'd be sporting if I were to pick up these Takara Tomy Arts-made gashapon figures.

Thankfully, I've got a bit of time before I have to make up my mind one way or another, as it appears they won't be made available until February of next year.

Should any of you already know you want them, though, you can pre-order a complete set (for $22.90) via

Monday, November 03, 2014

Someone bought this rad FM Towns II computer via eBay late last week and now I'm sad

I'm sad, of course, because, in a perfect world, I would've won this particular auction, as I've wanted to own some sort of FM Towns system since I first laid eyes on one in an old issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine.

Granted, if I were to drop my hard-earned dough on one of maker Fujitsu's FM Towns machines, which were released in Japan between 1989 and 1997, it probably would make more sense for me to pick up an FM Towns Marty console rather than the PC variant seen below, but the latter won me over with its "original Macintosh" looks.

Anyway, this entire conversation is moot due to the fact that I only discovered this auction after it had wrapped up--and even if I'd come across it earlier, I wouldn't have had $960 to blow on it.

As for which games I would've bought alongside this FM Towns II (in the hypothetical situation that would've allowed me to do such a thing): the system's arcade-perfect Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands ports, for starters. I'd also love its supposedly spot-on Splatterhouse conversion, although I've heard copies tend to be pricey.