Search This Blog

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series of role-playing games have always strayed from the beaten path when it comes to RPG storytelling, featuring a unique and compelling blend of contemporary settings (usually with a dash of cyberpunk for good measure) and realistic, morally ambiguous plotlines that often demands difficult decisions from the protagonist, and in turn the player. The series’ main titles have often presented the player with multiple flawed yet compelling philosophies, and asked them to choose which path, if any, they would stand for. The latest entry in this series, Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS, is no different in this regard, and ultimately tasks the player with charting a new course for the world.

The story of Shin Megami Tensei IV begins in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, a medieval society made up of a curious blend of European and Japanese culture, where children who come of age have a chance to become Samurai. Your character (named Flynn by default) is one of these chosen youths, along with the boisterous Walter, caring Jonathan, and standoffish Isabeau. Of course, this being a mainline SMT game, the group soon finds themselves in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Tokyo, which dwells beneath their kingdom. Tokyo has become a desolate place where humans dwell underground and demons roam the streets. Soon, the Samurai become embroiled in the politics of different factions across Tokyo, and discover horrifying revelations about the city and their own kingdom- revelations that will test their friendships and their loyalties, sending each one of them down a wildly different path.
Your companions will react differently to your decisions.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Four Things That Make JRPGs Great

What Makes A Great JRPG?

There’s something almost intangible about what makes an RPG truly special. Sometimes, the game’s mechanics, storyline, and presentation all come together and make a truly great experience, one that is more than the sum of its parts. Of course, sometimes one aspect of a game can be lacking, but it will have other features in excess, and it will still end up being enjoyable. Still other games just flat out suck, and fail to grasp even the fundamentals of good game design, making for a joyless, soul-crushing experience.  
Now, I came off from playing Xenosaga Episode 1 (which is one of those games that flat out sucks, just so we’re clear) and was feeling very, very disengaged from gaming afterwards. A double dose of Ocarina of Time and Shin Megami Tensei IV provided a cure of sorts, and though the Xenosaga games left a bitter taste in my mouth, they got me thinking about what makes the RPG genre tick for me. Where do some games succeed where others fail? I don’t really have any grand thesis where this topic is concerned, since a lot of it boils down to personal preference, but there are a few things that I think makes RPGs that much more enjoyable. Interestingly, these are all things that Xenosaga Episode 1 completely failed to provide, so consider this a protracted takedown of this awful, awful game, as well as an opportunity to remember some truly fantastic games that are far more deserving of a player’s time.
I will, for the record, leave my original review of Xenosaga 1 on the site, even though it really isn’t representative of my opinion of the game anymore (I would have been much, MUCH harsher).

Number One- Have an Exciting Beginning

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Final Fantasy Is Not Dead.

A link to the article. 

The picture in question

Final Fantasy isn’t dead…
…but it is in trouble.
It’s no secret that Final Fantasy, which was once the go-to series for excellent RPGs, has seen a bit of a decline in recent years. In the most recent piece of scuttlebutt discussing this, an article on proclaimed the death of the series, while showing a screenshot of the heroine Lightning (from the upcoming spinoff title Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII) dressed in a skimpy outfit. This was included with a snippet of an interview where the developers answered questions about Lightning’s redesign, including her increased bust size. The game itself, Lightning Returns, includes an assortment of outfits Lightning can switch between, which allow her to gain new abilities in combat.