YamiShikiMoon's Blog

Sarcastic girly nerd that talks about anything Anime, Manga, Game related that is of interest.


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FFXIV and Cutscenes in Story Dungeons

This is something I meant to write about ages ago when I played Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn for the first time, and now currently playing the newest expansion Stormblood I felt the need to take this up now since I feel this is still (somewhat) relevant with even more new players joining in the mmo. (Also felt like ranting cuz I got these dungeons in the Main Story Roulette recently lol)
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OH BOY, after finishing Final Fantasy A Realm Reborn Story Quest in patch 2.0 (lvl 1-50) I have some things to say, specifically the last two story dungeons, because this a huge issue that Square Enix need to deal with. (beware of very long ass wall text)

So, Cutscenes in Story Dungeons…

I just recently finished The Praetorium and Castrum Meridanium for the first time, and while the people in the group didn’t seem to mind/notice that they were effectively 7 manning, I was pretty annoyed with SE by the end. At one point the group had actually gotten 2 bosses ahead of the cutscene I was on, and it felt like the last 30 mins was just cutscenes running back to back. I spent maybe 2 minutes of the entire run actually experiencing a boss fight, and that completely ruined the experience. I could have done the same thing on Youtube. It should really be redesigned at some point. It’s a bad experience waiting to happen for every new player coming up.

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My first Praetorium experience – AKA a new player’s worst nightmare

Praetorium or Castrum Meridianum each have 10-20 cutscenes, nothing is worse than skipping the cutscene to save time on the timer and coming out of the cutscene to find yourself locked in insta-battle with something large and only 3 of the 8 people in your party present. It just drops you in the battle. I seriously believe that it is a design flaw in the coding to have the timer run while anyone is in a cutscene, and the game should never drop you into a battle directly out of a cutscene without an opportunity to regroup and strategize. Changes in this manner by the programmers could eliminate a lot of pain and suffering.

I always watch the CS during my first run through of a dungeon. Don’t like it? I’ll drop the dungeon and i”m sure my WHM will find another PUG before the time you finish typing your all caps response to tell me to hurry up. I fully understand that if i’m in a PUG that there are people that are going through the first, as a matter of fact, it tells you in the very beginning:

“hey, jackass, there are players here on their first time through, chill the @#%^ out and wait”. Of course, I’m paraphrasing but still.

If you’re in that big of a hurry, don’t do PUGs. Go find some friends that are just as impatient as you are and run dungeons to your hearts content. I do feel a little guilty, though, knowing that there are probably people waiting for me. I understand some people want to get it done fast, but first timers have every right to watch every cutscene. You might argue that you can rewatch it back in your inn, but for some people that’s besides the point. I’m talking about immersion.

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I’m one of those people who enjoy the actual journey to lvl 50 just as much as the destination itself.

Rewatching it in the inn destroys the immersion for me. I know some people feel the same way I do, and I know some people beg to differ. There is no right or wrong in this situation, but know that that is an online game where you play with others. If someone wants to watch the story unfold, they have every right to.

They should make it so that the time limit freezes as long as someone is in a cutscene.

I’m playing a game with a story, I’m watching/reading the story as I play it. That’s not ignorance or disrespect it’s quite literally how the game is designed to be played. When I enter a cut scene I just pop a quick “cs” in party chat so everyone is aware, they can wait a minute or two while I enjoy my video game. This isn’t a job, I have no obligation to skip content just because you (not you specifically) don’t want to watch it.

If you want to speed run dungeons, make a group and agree to those terms prior to entering, this has the added benefit of allowing you to run multiple runs without waiting on the duty finder.

I shouldn’t have to piece together the story post run just because you’re too impatient to wait a couple of minutes at a boss fight/[insert cs starting event here].

 

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This is Final Fantasy, it’s all about story.

I’m surprised by the people (mostly on gaming boards) saying that Prae and CM CS should be skipped because they’re “old content” or that they can be watched and the dungeon run by seven. I don’t care why you’re running an instance – if it’s tied into the story, you have to expect that there will be new players. They may slow you down watching CS or they may fuck up and wipe the group a few times. If you don’t like it, DON’T run the main scenario roulette.

Don’t just tell new players to watch stuff at the Inn later. Especially in the case of Prae/CM, the cutscenes have all of your party members – unless you watch it at the inn, in which case you’re alone. It ruins immersion in a game so widely praised for its story.
Similarly, don’t go ahead without them – part of the story is the fact that you actually get to experience it, you’d be furious if someone ruined you experience; why do it to others?

 

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Final Fantasy XV Rant and Thoughts

This rant was made prior to all the recent news of upcoming DLC and other things as I’ll primarily talking about the ending mostly. Beware of lots of capslock rage and incoherent words haha.

And of course it goes without saying Spoilers warning!

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I have never cried so fucking much over a final fantasy.

THAT IS NOT FUCKING FAIR. FUCK YOU ARDYN. ABSOLUTELY FUCK YOU. SHE WOULD HAVE LIVED. I FUCKING HATE YOU. IT’S NOT FAIR IT’S NOT FAIR IT’S NOT FAIR AND I’M SO FUCKING MAD LUNA DESERVED SO MUCH BETTER. I THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO DIE HEROICALLY. I KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO BUT NOT LIKE THIS ITS SO FUCKING UNFAIR THEY NEVER GET TO REUNITE UNTIL THE END WHEN THEY’RE BOTH FUCKING DEAD.

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LITERALLY THEY NEVER INTERACT I HATE IT. I LITERALLY RACED THROUGH THE GAME TO SEE THEM TOGETHER, EVEN FOR A LITTLE BIT, IT’S NOT FUCKING FAIR. I HATE HIM. I HATE HIM SO MUCH I’M LIKE SOBBING. POOR NOCT. I CAN’T. I legitimately like, felt like I was going to throw up. I’m so mad. I just want Noctis to come to me and let’s pretend like this didn’t happen. Or, kind of like 13, EVERYONE COMES BACK AND IT’S FINE. LET’S LIVE IN THE NEW WORLD. PLEASE I DONT WANT THE CANON.

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I’m still so emotionally drained from World of Ruin, the ending etc. Also, Noctis expressing his gratitude to his friends at the campfire. I cried so hard. The last game to manage that was Crisis Core. (Which was directed by FFXV’s director HOW FUCKING IRONIC)

The ending was very abrupt, and you could definitely feel that they didn’t get everything done that they wanted to (remember, older Noct hadn’t been modeled until June according to many sources). I’m not happy with the way it was handled, or part of the ending itself really… I understand that Noct had to die to avoid him becoming like Ardyn, but the guys shouldn’t have died. It’s a giant plot hole. They got killed by Iron Giants??? We’ve fought so many of those. Also, weren’t they just knocked out inside the palace? So Noct went inside to get them, went back out, and then left them for dead while he went to his own death? Why did they need to fight them anyway? Daemons couldn’t get inside the palace, they could have just stayed inside and waited for the sun to rise. They should have been with him when he took the throne. They threw away their whole lives getting him there and should have been with him when it happened. But no. Off screen death. I’m bitter.

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Personally I think there were just so many things that weren’t mentioned properly and also many things that seemed to contribute nothing to the story at all.

Examples are:

Why does Gladio leave the group? Only reason I see is to make a point for the DLC.

Why bring the fact that Prompto is a magitec up, solely for the point of him being able to unlock one single door?

Why and how did Ignis lose his eyes? Again, that would be only necessary for the DLC.

What about Ifrit? If you don’t read anything outside of the game, he has no point in being there, as he wasn’t explained at all.

Where was Noctis all these years? We just see him 10 years later and Umbra gives him a letter from his friends, like they waited exactly 10 years to contact him.

There’s so much they could have added, like flashbacks of Ardyn’s past or the events leading to the Imperial capital being overrun by demons and Ledolas ending up dead.

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I’m also kind of disappointed about the fact that only Noctis was the one suffering from the start? Like what’s Gladio, Ignis and Prompto’s pov when insomnia fell? They looked so awfully calm and things got worse and worse but they didn’t show anything. Also when they fought on the train I wanted to see Gladio and Noct talking it out and get on good terms like there wasn’t even a hint of it because I saw Gladio eternally pissed at Noctis.
Also I felt Ravus should’ve had more screentime as he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Just having him there for one short scene with the guys and another scene with Luna before killing him off-screen wasn’t fair.

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I can’t help but think of how amazing and epic it would have been if when Noctis found Ravus, and he was still alive and well, once he claimed his father’s sword, the two of them could have fought side by side as the brothers they really were meant to be. Noctis and Luna’s marriage would’ve made Ravus officially apart of his family and, in Ravus’ last days he finally came to understand Luna and Noctis really needed him. HE CAME THROUGH FOR THEIR SAKES. He was the whole reason Noctis reunited with Regis’ sword. Ravus safe guarded it for him. And since the bros weren’t able to fight alongside Noctis during most of his venture into that dark and sad place, Ravus would have been a perfect ally.
To me, that’s how it should have ended and if Ravus did have to die, then why not let him die by Noct’s side, protecting him, fighting beside him, and being “physically” there with him and for him since Luna could not be. He would have been remembered as a hero. In my opinion, that would have made Luna and his mother so proud of Ravus and he could have shown so much potential as a fighter. We already saw how strong he was when he appeared to the boys at the base attack. Even Gladio was weaker against him. And if his tragic end wasn’t bad enough, we never got to see him as the hooded man Square said he would be. DAMN IT. WHY? WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DO HIM SO DIRTY??? I don’t get it at all. And go back to Kingsglaive where his mother died to save him and the fact he was the only person “deemed unworthy” to put the Lucii Ring on and live to tell about it. He deserved better. MUCH BETTER. Simple as that.

I went into FFXV after watching Kingsglaive thinking I don’t care for Ravus, he need to go somewhere or just die.

My thoughts on him after beating FFXV? Ravus did not deserve that.

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Same goes for Luna, they did so much advertising for her before the release, but in the game she barely gets any screentime and when she does, she dies literally 10 minutes later.
I wished they would’ve showed more of a Noctis that’s scared and overwhelmed by the whole situation. He doesn’t even question it a single time. Cor shows up and says you have to gather these weapons and Noctis is just like yeah whatever. This game is beautiful but they didn’t make a really good story out of it. With this plot, the story could’ve easily reached the 40-50 hours even if you just rush through the main story. Its fault is that literally half of the stuff that has an impact on the overall story happened off-screen. I think XV could’ve used a little more of cutscenes to better explain the story (No, not like the Omen cutscene, that scene contributed nothing to the story at all)

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Took 33 hours for me to complete the main story. I cried so hard at the end especially during the scene where you have to choose a picture from Prompto. The gang’s comments on some of the pictures really hit me hard… It felt like 10 years really had passed in real time for me. Looking back on the memories with them feels nostalgic for some reason. I love how the game devs really made them feel so human.

What was the MOST disappointing for me though… (Adding on the list lol)
It is that the game took them 10 years to create… It’s just the story and the main quests seems really off and it feels like when you make a project and you keep on editing bits and pieces here and there and you end up with each part as stunningly beautiful but as a whole looks inconsistent and wrong… I dunno… Very disappointed. The game is above average definitely… But the story feels really short… I guess my expectations was too high… (Unlike Kingsglaive, it was a masterpiece for me. Ie the movie’s part of the story appealed to me more)…

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I actually enjoyed Kingsglaive and made me hopeful/excited to explore and learn about this world and how the story would unfold.
Moving on to another point, am I the only one hoping that the ending is a ‘Bad ending’? Not literally but in a way that there’s multiple endings, good and bad. Obviously we got the latter.
The tagline for the game is “Reclaim your throne”. The buildup right to the end kept hinting that Noct will head back to Insomnia with the gang to restore it to its former glory yet the game forces you to witness a 10 year time skip and ultimately ends the story by killing everyone.

I’m saying isn’t that sort of a really bad scenario where you did something wrong in the past, leading to it? Just like most games that have multiple endings.

10 years and Square Enix still killed everyone off WTF…what kind of fantasy is this…

10 years and this is the best ending they could come up with?

…It’s a slap in the face.

Personally I prefer happy endings but I’ve also watch ones where the sad ending has such an impact was so memorable it had me brawling my eyes out. This one just left me feeling so empty.

I’m just hoping the upcoming DLC has an option for us to continue our journey from the past in an alternate timeline where Ardyn doesn’t exist. This’ll provide more screentime/development for Emperor Ledolas and the other Niff higher ups. It’s disappointing that we didn’t really get to know them as characters in the game. Now because of the ending I have a really hard time picking up my controller to continue finishing off the side quests/extras in the game… Need to cooldown for a bit.
For now I’m just going to keep telling myself that the ending for the game is a ‘Bad Ending’ and hope that the upcoming DLC will include the proper more fleshed out story/ending we all deserve.

I am left with a bitter after-taste.

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Like how we were supposed to collect the swords, but it didn’t matter whether you do so or not. It was not given any importance. Upgrading the regalia was optional. You don’t get to visit the other cities, even part of it. I was hoping to explore the world. Some people complain Final Fantasy X was linear. But at least we got around everywhere, and interacted in different ways. But here… I feel disappointed. I was hoping to see a reason why the empire was hell-bent on invading lucis. But that was all Ardyns doing. Yeah go figure. What? That’s all we get? Really?

Those little tid-bits of the story that were missing from the game made it really… sad for me as a FF fan from a long time.

All the other FFs had a lot of story, a lot of conversations. A lot of explanations. I missed that.

I feeel so depressed after the game now because everyone dies. I was expecting so many things about the marriage, Noctis is going to be the new king. But NOOOOoooooo!! The ending is just a dream that he got married with Luna.

I was personally very interested to see how relationship between Noct and Luna would play out but after seeing what actually unfold I have to say it was extremely weak and god damn she had more screen time in Kingsglaive movie than the main game. I mean seriously? You don’t just kill off main heroine literally a minute after she finally gets to meet the main protagonist. I know Tabata is all in for tragedy but that was just laughable.
I bonded with everyone of the members and enjoyed the trip, I just didn’t expect it was the last trip to enjoy his life with his friends and meeting his beloved one last time. It hurts so much thinking Noct to die on his fate.

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The last Royal standing to save the world and his Kingdom. What will happen to Insomia after this? I want to know what happened to the people and everyone. Did they bury Noct and his friends? It now became part of their History books. It’s just sad okay, just sad. But I have to say the game is good, I like the game but when you get to the point of everythiiing -_- It’s just sad and depressing.

I don’t know how to feel. I fucking loved the game. I have no words. But now I just feel empty. I have a serious case of post-game withdrawal. The 10 year time skip really messed with my head and my emotions. When Luna died I figured Noctis would follow suit upon saving the world, but knowing that 10 years pass since her death, and everyone will have had to live with the knowledge that there is no more Oracle. Prompto, Gladio and Ignis.
They all had to live for 10 years in darkness without Noctis. 10 years is a really fucking long time (I think we all know exactly how long it is, lol). And just thinking about having to live like that. I just became depressed throughout the rest of the chapter. You know that nauseous feeling you can get when you miss someone or something so desperately? That. This game messed with me on an emotional level no other game has done, right now I just feel so emotionally devastated at what happened to these fictional characters, I don’t know what to do with myself.

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Overall, I think it could have been so much better with all those 10 years of developing time.


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Games and Anime highlights of 2016 (Part 1)

I’m not gonna sugarcoat this, 2016 sucked as a year, just as a year in general. Not specifically animated or gamewise. Just fuck 2016.

So many good people died, tragedies have happened all across the world, USA got Donald Trump as a president and it’s terrifying and just so many things happening this year that it is probably going to go down as a year to be remembered. And not in a good way.

Thankfully though for anime and game fans, we actually had quite a good year and had some really awesome games and anime that I think are worth mentioning.

This is not going to be a Top10 or really a list per se, but just me telling you guys my personal favorite anime and games that have come out this year that I loved.

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If a particular game or anime you’re looking for isn’t here, the most probable answer is I have yet to play/watch it because I have been busy with other things and I maybe got stuck playing a boss in some rpg lol who knows

Anyway let’s roll and I’ll start with games in this one!

FIRST OFF, some honourable mentions of games that i haven’t played personally (more like watching other people playing it lol) but I still count as highlights of the year regardless and will probably play once I got the money and time for it:

Overwatch, Uncharted 4, Watch Dogs 2, The Last Guardian, Project X Zone 2, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, Steins;Gate 0 and Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice.

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God Eater Resurrection and God Eater 2: Rage Burst (PS4)

I played Gods Eater Burst when it first came out back in 2011 on PSP and was one of my fave rpgs on that console and just as an rpg in general. So imagine my surprise 5 years later when we didn’t just get the sequel localized, but an enhanced remake of the first game as well. I just really love these games for many reasons and I’m just happy that even after waiting for that long and giving up hope, we actually got these games. Just bless.

Speaking of waiting for long…

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Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

Oh. My. God. Did we wait long for this game. TEN WHOLE YEARS IN FACT.

Was it worth it?

…Kind of?

I mean I love the game, there are many things I love about this game but there’s also a lot I don’t like about it in regards to the development cycle and the so many “this could have been in the game” that made me… “Slightly” angry haha… but, nonetheless the fact remains that we actually got the game out and I could actually play it. so gg Squeenix, now I’m just waiting for the story update and the DLC lol.

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Pokémon: Sun and Moon (3DS)

I haven’t gotten so far as I just got it for my christmas present and I haven’t played a lot but my general impression is that I quite like it! And I just want to give Team Skull a hug.

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Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PS4)

Not much to say really, I just love both the first and the second game so much that I had to play it again dammit, and oh man the memories were coming back…

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Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS4)

Another remake and remastered game, of PS2’s Odin Sphere, with new animation, stages, changes to gameplay etc. It’s just a really pretty game and I’m so happy that they wanted to make it prettier lolol

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Bravely Second: End Layer

I absolutely loved the first game, I loved the visuals, the characters, the music, the gameplay and now when we got the sequel i squeeled with joy. Truly an awesome rpg game that everyone should play.

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Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

Throwback to my Awakening review, I loved that game and now we got a new saga with new characters (with also some similar faces returning) and with similar gameplaydesign. I enjoyed playing Conquest and Revelation (have not played Birthright) and it was a very good game that I think everyone will enjoy regardless if they like strategy or not.

And this was it for Part 1 and in Part 2 i will talk about Anime and will probably be much MUCH longer hahaha

What were your game highlights of 2016?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Last Remnant Review (PC ver.)

Every now and then a game will come along that flies under the radar. This is very true in the JRPG world, since it’s not mainstream unless it has Final and Fantasy in the title. A lot of these sleeper hits come from the creators of FF, whether they are still employed by Square Enix or not. Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Shadow Hearts, Lost Odyssey, all created by Square or former employees and all underground hits. The Last Remnant features the Unlimited Saga team, and will be the next in line to fall under the category of a truly great, unsung hero.

You’d think when you have a game that was released in 2008, you would have finished playing it by now.

But then you finish playing it, and you don’t know what to do with your life anymore.

Which brings me to the game I’m going to talk about, The Last Remnant.

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The Last Remnant is a game developed by Square Enix and released in 2008.

It was first made to Xbox 360 and then later ported to PC via Steam, I personally owning the PC version.

So you’d think that since it’s a game by Square Enix it would be rather popular right?

Well…maybe?

I don’t know why but I seem to have a tendency to love games that no one knows about or don’t take them in high regard (Star Ocean The Last Hope and Infinite Undiscovery just to name a few) and I think the reason why is that I like when a game try to be different and try out new things, instead of having the “status quo” and I think this game did succeed with that, well at least for me.

Still, I didn’t believe that this was going to be a safe pick, but boy was this game ACTUALLY GOOD.

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~STORY~

The story does a good job of drawing you into their world. No, it’s nothing that will blow your mind innovative wise. Yet, they do the cliché’ “boy grows strong and overcomes adversity to save the world” thing well. Very well.

Sticking to the plot and spoiler-free, the story is about Rush Sykes, the son of two very well-respected scientists who study the Remnants. Remnants are the equivalent of what the wonders of the world are to Earth. Ancient artifacts from a mysterious past. Some are worshiped, some are even used as weapons. The bond between those who rule the Remnants and those who obey is broken, and the story that unfolds will keep you interested in moving the plot along. The main villain is very mysterious and has the “it” factor that a lot of villains don’t.

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I felt the main story was actually good, but the main attraction I felt was the side quests. Normally when you play a jrpg, the main story line is probably 90% of the story. This is not the case for The Last Remnant. Side quest I’d say holds 40% of the whole story. You’ll learn about the politics in the game/different culture/conquest/history/personal rivalry/etc. The Last Remnant does a really good job of making the story not just about the main character Rush, but the world as a whole…

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~GRAPHICS~

The details of the environments are extremely well done, very comparable to Lost Odyssey or any other new-gen jrpg. The characters and enemy models are nearly perfect, and some of the weapon arts is amazing. Most spells are very fluid and have nice effects to them.
Yes, there are graphical issues with this game even on the PC. random texture pop ups that makes the game look like it came out of a PS2 and other stupid stuff that makes characters look really really weird. BUT I don’t care about all of this as long as the game was playable and fun and this is where it hit the mark.

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Everyone wants to know about the technical problems, mainly due to the fact there are sometimes 40+ people on a screen fighting. First off, the texture popping is much less frequent than in many games rated very highly by your media types. Off the top of my head I can think of Mass Effect and GTA4 (rated a perfect 10) having bigger texture popping issues than TLR. As for the slowdown and lag during occasional battles, it’s there and noticeable at times, but in no ways annoying or a major slowdown of battles. Most battles move at a fairly rapid pace in spite of it. Besides the technical issues I addressed, the graphics are in tune with the times and the CG cut-scenes you get are well appreciated. Only other minor gripe is I would’ve liked to see a day/night feature to the game or some random weather in a few of the zones.

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~EXPLORATION~

Pretty much if I had to pick a game that The Last Remnant was most similar to in terms of exploration, it’d be Final Fantasy X perfected. The problem with FFX in my opinion was that the game was too linear, but I did feel like they had the right idea. Instead of moving around the world map, the game gave off a sense of travel and journey, made me feel like the world was actually bigger than it was.

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The old days of walking on a world map within 1 min with medieval technology made in theory, the world uninhabitable due to the lack of enough gravity to facilitate life. The Last Remnant hits the mark on this by not only using the FFX system and just creating random fork in the road, but giving purpose to each of these forks by utilizing quest/unique VERY CHALLENGING monsters/treasure chest/mining/”fishing”/etc.

It was just a blast to actually go and try to fully discover each of the zones and there are places that you have to discover yourself if you want to go there because the main quest won’t take you there. It’s a feeling that I haven’t had in a while from a JRPG.

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~BATTLE SYSTEM~

Mainly for being unique, trying something new in the classic turn based sense, and for creating strategy and difficulty into the genre. They basically combined elements of the action rpg game, the strategy rpg game, and the cookie cutter turn based rpg game. What they came up with was brilliance to this reviewer.

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This will be as quick of a rookie rundown as possible. First off, before the fight occurs this will seem like an action RPG. You will see the enemy on the screen, and a bubble over his head will determine his mood. You have a slowdown ability that basically freezes the enemy, and allows you to attract more monsters or run away in some cases. Some enemies can even do status ailments outside of the battle screen to you, making you unable to run….etc. The action rpg elements of picking and choosing fights and pulling more than one monster are incorporated to TLR. Once you engage said enemy(s), this is where your strategy and turn based elements come into play. Instead of controlling party members, you control Unions. Unions are made up of party members, or Units. Unions share the combined HP and AP of the Units that make them up. Once the HP of a Union goes down, all Units in it die. Get familiar with the Game Over screen. 🙂

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AP is action points and are needed to do the Combat Skills, basically your above average attacks. Mystic Arts, or magic, is done from weapons and also take AP. Item Arts, or basic healing/buffing/debuffing from items takes no AP. Strategy comes into play because your movement of the Unions will allow for Flank Attacks, or Rear Attacks, giving your allies the upper hand. The orders you can give a certain Union is vast and sometimes seem random depending on an array of factors. There’s also strategy in the formations you choose to create a Union in. You start with a few basic ones and can unlock many more throughout the game, giving you ample options to customize. You also recruit leaders from guilds, and can buy soldiers from a city to complement your battles, allowing you to basically play through the game a few times with an almost completely different list of party members. This battle system also allows the player to create his own difficulty in a way. You have the option of fighting a single enemy, or taking your chance at a few. Risk-reward? The more enemies you pull and engage into battle the better the chance at rewards. But, just because you pull a single enemy doesn’t mean there won’t be 2+ Unions within. This can seem a bit unfair at times, and there are also a few moves by enemies that seem a bit “cheap” ala “Calvary Call“.

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Be careful, and oh yeah, get used to the Game Over screen. 🙂

The battle system also did something that I felt JRPGs needed for a long time. A big problem with a ton of JRPGs is the hit point system. For some reason a tiny guy would have 6920 hit points and take shots from Meteors/other magic spells that make him look like an ant and still survive. What’s worse in my opinion is that a character can take a million slashes from a sword and still have a majority of his health left.

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The Last Remnant got rid of majority of these feelings by making the battle squad based. Battles are no longer 1v4/3v4/3v3 in a straight line but there’s tactics and flanking involved. The game’s battle system is a genuine battle that involves quite a lot of characters fighting together like a team. Which is probably one of my favorite things about this game, because I can honestly not name another game which have or remotely similar kind of battle system.

Characters no longer had astronomical hit points, but are seriously susceptible to any attack and you really had to manage your squad. There are some randomness to who gets hit and all, but it was fair. I did sometimes feel a bit cheated, but at the same time it was within reason. Also side note is that characters bleed when they get hit, and also even when you are in the middle of choosing your actions, instead of just having the characters standing there idly, they are aware of their surroundings and sometimes block attacks from other enemies or “poke” them with their weapons.

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~GAMEPLAY~

The crafting/leveling system is also pretty interesting. Gone are the days where you go to a store and buy a new equipment every once in a while in order to get your squad stacked up. In this game, its best to upgrade your weapons because the weapons you buy from store are trash and the benefit to this system was that it created a sense of meaning for items. I no longer horded items I came across during the game for no reason at all, but instead kept it because I knew it’ll be useful. Also it amplified the effects of exploration because, you’ll use your digger to dig everywhere.

Another important thing this did was that it made the weapons have a history. A problem with JRPGs is that you go to one town, buy a sword, go to the next one sell the sword and get a better sword… etc. By making weapons upgradable, you get a real sense of history with the item and also more options. Also, rare loot was a very good implementation in this game, it made me want to discover the game’s world because on random occasions you’ll find a pretty good sword lying around inside of a chest.

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~DIFFICULTY~

I LOVE THE CHALLENGE OF THIS GAME. JRPGs have become REALLY easy, but in The Last Remnant I had to retry killing a monster 10x+ in order to finally kill it. This is one of those games where you can die on a random encounter as much as you can on a boss battle. It was a rare monster that had an AOE spell that could one-shot my entire team. I could tell the monster was killable, but that I had to use my brain and when I finally did, it felt so goooooooood. Also since you can tie in multiple monsters at the same time the difficulty can spike up to your choice. The bosses in this game are also no push over.

There is a reason why almost all forums of this game is about asking for help to defeat bosses.

~SOUND/MUSIC~

Excellent. Superb even. Although this whole review is obviously opinionated, this category seems to be a bit more than the rest. Especially when discussing the soundtrack. What’s a beautiful symphony or a grinding boss battle theme to me may be flat out noise to another. I think SE did a great job offering a variety of tracks and not repeating many at all. Also, the battle music tends to become more dramatic if a long battle is ensuing, which is appreciated and helped to give the epic feel. There’s no denying this game has excellent sound effects. The sound of an axe chopping away, or a shield blocking an attack is very lifelike. Some of the character’s one-liners are a tad on the lame side, but aren’t they always? The voice acting is above average and on par with or better than most VA in games today. Absolutely no complaints out of me in this particular category, TLR nails it in every way.

Also you can switch between jap and eng voices anytime you want.

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~FUN/REPLAY VALUE~

The battle system alone makes this game extremely fun. Let’s face it, in Jrpg’s the only way to advance is to fight, and fight A LOT. If that’s the case, the game better have a somewhat interesting format to get from point A to B. TLR does and is a truly unique experience. Tons of customization can be done with components dropped after fights. The component list is deep, so creating new weapons, enhancing old weapons, and creating accessories will give you plenty to hunt and search for. There’s dig spots, and a buddy named Mr. Diggs to help you salvage its contents. Mr. Diggs also levels up as you use him, making him the equivalent of a party member learning new skills and techniques for treasure hunting.

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There’s also leaders and soldiers you may or may not hire, and want to on another play through, adding replay value. An intriguing storyline can also make a game fun, which TLR again does very nicely. It is very well written and acted out, which gives the player an urge to keep going. It’s pretty rare you find heavy replay value in a JRPG, but I can see myself going through this game again in due time. Some JRPG’s can stand the test of time, and are games that a player gets the itch to play over numerous times for a variety of reasons. Some games just flat out aren’t worth the trade-in value. Like I said earlier, I’m not a completion-ist and definitely wouldn’t try to do everything in this game on a first run. It should be enjoyed for its story and challenge, which would be null if you max’d everything before beating it.

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But now that I got the goods out of the way. Here’s the negative. The game simply felt like it wasn’t really finished. Example, the story. The reason why I said it was good was because the story was satisfying, but it really felt like Square didn’t finish the job “Going to stop here to not say any spoilers”. There are other parts of the game that I felt was lazily designed. As great as the crafting/leveling system was, you can only customize Rush. All the other characters require you to give them items to customize themselves. This wasn’t a game breaker by no means, but I felt that Square was hasty in this department. Instead of giving you full control over every member in your party, you kind of have to play sort of a wait and see game of praying that one of your party members ask you for permission to have this item/focus on this part of his job. Those of you who played this game already should know that this is by no means a game breaker, it just could’ve been better.

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If you ever had any fun with a JRPG, you should absolutely BUY THIS GAME. It presents a totally unique turn-based battle system, a cool cast of characters in a fascinating detailed world, and a challenge unlike most games in the genre. Compared to the more recent old school and new gen JRPG’s, this is very non-linear giving you the feeling of freedom in most cases.

Absolutely underrated by the masses.

So there you have it. IN MY OPINION The Last Remnant is a great game for all JRPG fans. If you enjoyed playing all the JRPG of yore FF/Chrono/Breath of Fire/etc. then this game is 100% for you and I doubt you’ll regret it.

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This is a late review since the game is pretty old already, but as said at the beginning of the review, I have owned this game since 2010 and it took me 5 years to actually finish it.

And now when I actually have finished it, I will probably play it again. And this time I’ll try to not die too much.


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Don’t Lose Hope: Why Hope Estheim is an Awesome Character – eternal.quiet Blog – www.GameInformer.com

Hope Estheim is one of my absolute favorite final fantasy characters and this post…

OH. MY. FRICKING. GOD. Man, you don’t know how much I love this analysis. I have always been a strong defender of Hope as a character myself, and can’t be any more pleased that they literally deconstructed his entire character in a way audiences can relate, and even threw in some sociology to boot!

From one blogger to another, they’ve done a fantastic job.

Don’t Lose Hope: Why Hope Estheim is an Awesome Character – eternal.quiet Blog – www.GameInformer.com.


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Fire Emblem Awakening Review

“It’s so nice to feel special for once!”

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Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strategy based RPG that covers the story of a war between several fantasy nations. It is very strong across all areas of the game, having particularly good character development and interaction, engaging gameplay and high quality music.

Story and Characters

This game is set in a traditional fantasy setting, covering the story of the wars between Ylisse, Plegia and followers of the Fell Dragon Grima. At the start, you create an avatar, which will be the main focus of the game. As you progress through the game, you are joined by several other characters, notably Chrom, the lord of Ylisse, to join his cause to win the war. Your character plays a very important part in the storyline, as you are in control of what the other members of your army decide to do.

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There are many decisions that you have to make, both gameplay and story wise, which means that if you play the game again, you can have a totally different experience from last time. While the main objectives remain the same, the way it unfolds is different due to the different ways characters can develop. Characters can build relationships throughout the game, which unlocks support conversations which give an insight on each character’s thoughts. It is even possible to get characters to marry each other if you are dedicated enough.

One thing I liked about the support conversations is that most of them are unique and that they strengthen how each character is portrayed. There are a few stereotypical character designs, such as a clumsy girl and a hero, which are implied to be paired together. There are also some character designs more typical of Eastern culture, such as a crazily obsessed girl, so it may seem odd to Western players. However, this game, unlike some other RPG games, allows you to break these typical setups in many ways through your decision making. It is even possible to get your character involved as well, with some quite interesting results and conversations.

The main story is quite strong and that game does a good job in putting you in the shoes of your avatar. There are many emotional highs and lows throughout the game which give you feelings of empathy for the characters. I also found it easy to identify with some of the characters in the game, which made it much more enjoyable and gave a feeling of purpose to the story.

There are many subtle lines of dialogue that add to character development here. For example, there are random conversations in the barracks, conversations while fighting enemies and even a short sentence when you buy items at the shop.

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Overall, the story and characters are developed very well. Unlike other stereotypical RPGs where you just defeat the villains because you have to, which just passes through your head without a second thought, Fire Emblem: Awakening gives you a compelling reason to go through and make decisions.

Gameplay

The main story consists of fighting enemies on a grid like map in turn based battles. Each side takes turns in moving their units in order to attack, defend or reach certain areas of the map. At certain points in some battle, the enemy can send in reinforcements, which act immediately on harder difficulties, so some prediction is required. Good planning is crucial to clear the maps near the end. At first, you’ll only have a choice of a few people to fight against the enemy, but as you progress, you have to choose which units to bring in. You get a full preview of the map beforehand, so it is up to you to choose which units the use, as they all have various advantages and disadvantages. There are 27 main battles, which mainly consist of beating all enemies or just the boss. There are also a number of side scenarios where you can recruit other people, including children once your characters get married.

There are initially three difficulty settings, with a choice to play either Casual or Classic Mode. Each difficulty level increases the complexity of the maps and enemies, meaning you’ll need to be more careful with planning. While Casual Mode is forgiving, Classic Mode makes your decisions even more meaningful, because once a character dies in Classic Mode, they are unable to battle for the rest of the game (although you can reset if you really want to).

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Each unit has different abilities, weaknesses and strengths depending on what class they are in. For example, the Tactician class, which your character starts off in, can use magic tomes and swords and is fairly balanced overall. The Pegasus Knight can move further in a turn, has high speed and good resistance against magic, but is weak against bows. This means that you want to position your characters carefully on the map in order to avoid being sniped, which you’ll quickly learn if you place a Cleric (healer class) in range of the enemy.

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Characters can also change to a more powerful class, or even switch to another class to a limited extent. This becomes useful, as each class has different skills. Some skills provide simple stat boosts, while another skill, Vengeance, allows you to deal more damage when your health is low, which can be risky but rewarding. You don’t have to grind for particular skills to succeed normally, but choosing the right skills and classes can definitely make the game much easier.

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You’ll also want to watch out for enemy skills in order to avoid being killed. One such example is Counter, which causes counterattacks when the holder takes damage from an adjacent square, which can end up killing your unit. There are a few random elements in the game, such as accuracy, critical hits and skill activation, but success mostly comes down to your strategy, as you can see all stats, abilities and weapons of the enemy. These additions to the combat system give much more depth.

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Resource management is also fairly important as you only start off with a limited amount of money. Weapons and tomes break after a certain number of uses and items allowing you to promote units are single use. Only certain enemies have drops throughout the story, so it is essential to manage your weapons well. There are also treasure chests which are only available in certain battles. Occasionally, you can get random battles with various item drops and a chance to gain additional EXP and items. You can also spawn enemies if you think you need to level up a bit more with an item called the Reeking Box, although on harder difficulties, the cost outweighs the reward you gain, which makes good planning necessary (unless you have the Golden Pack DLC, which exists solely for extra money and EXP, although you don’t need it to beat the game). This adds to the planning aspect of the game.

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The Support system in this game allows you to pair up two units in combat, giving a boost to the lead unit while protecting the supporting unit from attacks. The more you use them in battle as a pair, the stronger their support becomes as you unlock their conversations. These support actions include making a second attack and blocking an attack for no damage. These effects become stronger as you level up. This system was done very well, adding additional layers of strategy to the game and also adding to character development.

StreetPass allows you to send items and even your own team to other players to challenge them to a battle. The incentives to winning these battles include gaining extra Renown, which opens up a range of useful items, as well as recruiting guest avatars. There is also content available through SpotPass, such as enemy teams from previous games in the Fire Emblem series, as well as 6 extra characters from the game that can be recruited. There is also DLC available for the game, which mainly consist of extra scenarios and some of the most challenging battles. This content gives you many things to do, even after you’ve finished the story.

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Graphics and Sound

The graphics have been done quite well in this game. It uses an anime based art style for the character portraits as well as having 3D character models. What I liked most about the animation was the combat animations. In particular, when a character is knocked out, there is a slow motion animation of them collapsing to make the scene more dramatic. In addition, when a skill that causes instant death activates, the screen goes red with shadows of blood. 3D graphics were used very well in this game for the combat animation and maps and was not overused to the point where it ruined the art style.

The music in this game is nothing short of a masterpiece. The music in Awakening really fits the mood of different times with some being happy, strong/pumping up, sad, epic and even happy-go lucky. There are parts in the game though, where it really shines through setting an environment up (along with the story and characters) where people are moved to tears by how much emotion is put into it. I’m very impressed with the sound and love the music.

In particular, the music that plays when your avatar or Chrom dies in combat was done well, as it feels like you’ve failed to accomplish your goals and that doom is impending.

Another important part is the voice acting in the game. The voice acting is nothing but astounding. It has got to be one of the few games which I had played the game with the characters to have their english voice acting rather than the japanese voice acting (the game gives you the option of both). The voices actually fit the characters giving off one of the best voice acting I’ve heard in years!

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Other Features

There are a few other minor features. One of them is the Hubba Tester, where you test the compatibility of two units. This result is random, so it can lead to somewhat hilarious results sometimes. The other feature is Double Duel which allows you to co-operate with another player to defeat some enemies, although there is no map. I didn’t find myself using these features too much, but it’s a nice way to have some fun.

Final Thoughts

The story is the strongest part of Fire Emblem: Awakening. This game is one of the few games where I actually felt actively involved with the story and character development. The gameplay is also strong and adheres to the genre very well, requiring thoughtful planning while being more forgiving on the easier difficulties. It’s definitely not a casual game by any means, but it definitely gives a challenge to hardcore gamers while being accessible to players that enjoy strategy or RPG games.

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The game can take 20 to 40 hours to finish and if you want to truly complete everything, you’ll be playing through many times in order to unlock the support conversations. One strength with this game is that every playthrough is different in some way, so it is harder to get bored.

As someone whose main interest is RPG games, I tried this game out and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you are interested in strategy or RPG games, I recommend that you buy this game. If you aren’t interested in either genre, you may find this game hard to enjoy though.

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Digital Devil Saga 1&2 Review

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Megami Tensei is probably one of those under-rated series you have never heard about. Compared to the marketing budget that series like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Star Ocean, Tales Of, Suikoden or even .Hack can afford, the developer/publisher Atlus are very well known for producing very limited numbers of their games, in order to minimise losses (remember the E.T. scandal?) as well as recognizing that the the Japanese role-playing games genre belongs to a small niche market, dominated only by a single franchise; Final Fantasy. Perhaps it makes sense from a marketing point of view, but it doesn’t help in introducing a great series to people.

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The original Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga spin-off was one of my favorite RPGs when I first got the ps2, at least in terms of tactical gameplay – particularly the Press Turn combat system. It was actually the third Megami Tensei game I ever played. Since then I have also gone through Shin Megami Tensei III: Lucifer’s Call (Nocturne in North America.), the third game in the canonical Shin Megami numbered series. The games are so fucking rare, especially in the Europe, it makes me want to clutch my copy of these future collectors even harder.

Digital Devil Saga 2 is a direct sequel to Digital Devil Saga and it is probably essential to be able to play the predecessor rather than jumping straight into this game. You will also get to import the save file from Digital Devil Saga for bonuses. I won’t explain any plot details here out of fear of spoilers (plus the plot is complicated enough to try to fit into a small essay, but it essentially revolves around a band of tribe called Embryon lead by this guy called Serph and their constant war with other tribes in order to ascend to Nirvana). Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 attempts to tie up any loose-ends from the first game (in which there are plenty) and providing more back story to each factions, then expanding those into a story worthy of a singular standalone game.

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One of my favorite aspect of both Shin Megami Tensei III: Lucifer’s Call and Digital Devil Saga are the stunning visual style of the games. As Digital Devil Saga 2 uses the same engine, Kazuma Kaneko’s demonic character design is once again the highlight, as a unique visual characteristic of the game. Have always been a fan of these demonic art style and just the classic SMT character design in general. The visuals are rendered in 3D (naturally) with cel-shaded look and simple textures. The original bleak and post-apocalyptic cyber-punk look of the original has been retained and the environment effect has been improved. There is also the distinct voice acting which is in my opinion really good, and underrated.

Digital Devil Saga was awfully difficult and challenging, and Digital Devil Saga 2 was no different. It is unfortunate that such great games often goes overlooked by the public. Looking at the rather depressing EU game charts you can’t blame Atlus for the lack of care when it comes to promoting this (and their other titles). The game is available at most stores for a low price of £15 (or £25 with a limited edition soundtrack, either that or you going to have to look for it a really long time on the internet market. (Seriously, Lucifer’s call and Star Ocean 3 took me like 4 years to find, not kidding.)

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Let’s start with the review.

Technically this game is only the first of two, as it does end on a bit of a cliff hanger which is resolved in the sequel. However I did not know this when I first played it and I have to say that it holds up rather well by itself. And in my opinion that’s a mark of a great game, as even though it isn’t meant to stand by itself DDS doesn’t take the easy way out like a lot of modern games. Instead it closes on a note where the events of the game were, in my opinion, tied up rather nicely. Heck, if you cut out the bit after the credits then I could almost see the story ending like that, with the characters transitioning into the unknown as a sort of dramatic cliffhanger.

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(the main character Serph)

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so what do you say we actually look at the story as a whole before I spoil it? It’s actually a fairly interesting premise, as the game opens up on a scene of your party members in a heated battle with a rival faction, when all of a sudden the mysterious object that they were fighting over activates. This has two interesting effects: one, it turns all of the game’s characters into monsters, with all of the important characters having the ability to change between their human and monster forms (to an extent), and two, it reveals a strange girl who can calm down said monsters, allowing the party to largely retain its sanity. This turns into a quest to either team up with or kill all of the other factions so that you can escape from the Junkyard, though in the end only one faction can remain.

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The reason why I find this premise so interesting is because it raises so many questions in the player early on. Where is this strange wasteland where these people are fighting? Why are they turning into monsters all of a sudden? Is this world even real? How are you supposed to overcome all of the other factions? Why does no one seem to have any emotions until this event occurred? By raising all of these questions early on the game manages to draw the player in, keeping them focused on the game world right up until the end when most of the pieces finally fall into place. This is the kind of storytelling I’d like to see more of in the gaming industry, where you are just dropped into the action without warning and it is up to you to put together the pieces as you play. Flashbacks and narratives introductions may provide helpful tools for setting up a game, but they can be as much of hindrance as they are a help.

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The game’s sense of mystery is only compounded by its artistic direction, which consists almost entirely of drab and dull colors. Which makes sense, as the entire game takes place in a wasteland known only as the Junkyard, with the only real color being the demons that have been introduced. This contrast gives the game both a sense of tension and despair, as you wonder whether or not it is even possible to survive in this bleak and now thoroughly corrupted world. But the beautiful part is how the musical score counterbalances this with high energy tracks that prevent the world’s gloom from affecting the player farther than fostering the sense of mystery. I actually found myself rocking out during some of the boss fights, as I got caught up by the awesome musical score even as my party was struggling to survive.

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And yes, I mean struggling. This game, while not the hardest in the Megaten roster (that honor goes to Lucifer’s Call/Nocturne), is by no means a cakewalk, with the majority of the boss fights putting up a respectable challenge. In fact, several of them will require more than one try in order to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are for the next time. And that’s really the trick to this game, as while all of your party members have their own strengths and weaknesses they can all be modified to have whatever abilities you choose, to the point where by end game you can switch between character types between major fights.

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This is a good thing, as without this ability to customize your ability layout some of the earlier bosses would be next to impossible. A great example of this difficulty is the fact that this is one of the few games in which I have not only reached max level but have also maxed out all of my characters stats, and yet some of the bosses still provided a significant challenge to me. So yes, this is a difficult game and if you’re not a fan of RPG games then this may not be a good game with which to introduce you to the genre. But the game play is solid, and by utilizing the press turn system you can shift the tide of battle your way by exploiting your enemies’ weaknesses.

 

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And if you can overcome this difficulty curve then this is one of the more enjoyable and involved RPGs available for the Playstation 2. The game manages to combine the elements of individual character builds with fully customizable skill trees so as to give both a sense of control while still retaining the characters’ sense of self. And when you add this dynamic to the overall quality of the art direction and interesting story you have an RPG that is really worth looking into. If you’ve either played other Megaten games and are looking for more or are just looking for a quality RPG that will give you a bit of a challenge, then I cannot recommend this title highly enough. It can be a bit tricky to find nowadays, but I’ve seen a few used copies online for below average, so if you’re interested it shouldn’t be too difficult to give this game a shot.