Games Summary: February 2015

a few of the games I tried this month
a few of the games I tried this month
A quick recap of the games I’ve played this month:
Italicized games are new to me

3DS

  • Final Fantasy Explorers
  • StreetPass Mii Plaza (as always)
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

iOS

  • Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector
  • Card Crawl
  • QuizUp
  • Final Fantasy Record Keeper

WiiU

  • MarioKart 8
  • Just Dance 2016

PC

  • A Tale in the Desert (barely – just enough to make sure the livestock survive)
  • XCOM2
  • Viridi

PS3/4/Vita
None, though I downloaded Jeanne D’Arc for Vita

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Layton Brothers Mystery Room

layton

I’m a bit late to the party, I know. Layton Brothers Mystery Room was released in 2012 in Japan, and 2013 in the US. However, it’s new to me because I didn’t get an iPad until May of 2014, and it took me a few months to realize that the game was actually available in the English language. Better late than never, right?

I’ve found Level-5 games to be a bit quirky, and this game is no exception. On one hand, you’re in the Professor Layton universe. On the other, you’re not an archaeologist solving puzzles, but a new detective constable assigned to work the toughest murder cases with Alfendi Layton, son of Professor Hershel Layton.

The game feels more like Ace Attorney to me than like Professor Layton, due to the clicking about, examining clues, and comparing the evidence to witness statements. It’s perfect for tablets. The main difference is that there are no attorneys involved. It’s Order without Law. It’s difficult to go into much detail without spoiling the story, but it’s pretty true to the Layton formula. Another plus is that there’s no penalty for incorrect deductions, which is good because some of the leaps in logic didn’t make much sense to me.

It’s a short game; I finished in under 10 hours. The first third of the game is free, while the rest is split into two inexpensive DLC packs that cost a total of $4.98 US. I can’t help but notice that this format leaves a great opening for more add-on content. At the end of the game thus far, there are still mysteries left unsolved, such as:

  • Who is Alfendi’s mother?
  • Where’s the other Layton Brother?
  • What’s the Professor up to now?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Layton Brothers Mystery Room official site

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Open Apology to E.L. James

Let me start out by apologizing to E.L. James, and then I’ll tell you how I got to this point.

I was lying in bed, playing Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, hanging out in Mt. Gagazet, killing some bandersnatches. The word “bandersnatch” reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch. I then remembered a picture I saw a couple of weeks ago that shows his natural hair color, with is surprisingly gingery. That led me to think of the bias against red-headed men, and how they’re supposedly considered unattractive, so ginger actors often dye their hair for their roles. I remembered that Christian Grey, the title character of Fifty Shades of Grey, is described as having “copper” hair, yet he is portrayed in the movies as being quite brunet. “Gosh, that was a horrid piece of fanfiction,” I thought, “it was such a train wreck toward the end of the second book, I couldn’t stand to get the third one.”

I then remembered the moment when I thought Fifty Shades had truly jumped the shark. It was at the very end, when Anastasia’s former boss is revealed to have tampered with Christian’s plane in a murder attempt. The man was trying to get his revenge because Grey stopped him from sexually assaulting Anastasia. Oh, and Grey had bought out the publishing company Ana and Jack worked for.

“How convoluted,” I thought. “How could anyone consider this to be remotely realistic?”

Then I thought of GamerGate. People are having their private details published all over the Internet. Police are getting false alarm calls to homes of people who disagree with “Gators.” Women are getting rape and murder threats, ostensibly because of “ethics in journalism.” In actuality, a bunch of boys feel threatened because some are calling for more inclusivity in the video game industry.

It’s a lot like a man who ostensibly is angry because he was fired from his job, but, in actuality, is pissed off because he was out-alpha’ed by a rich, powerful guy who got the girl he wanted. Or it’s about ethics in publishing.

Either way, that whole scenario in Fifty Shades seems a hell of a lot more feasible, now that life is imitating art.

Once again, I apologize, Ms. James.

But I still think your work is crap.

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I didn’t choose the Fantasy Life; the Fantasy Life chose me.

Fantasy Life logo

Fantasy Life is the latest role-playing game (PRG) from Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS. I noticed, while trying to come up with stuff to say for this post, that I have a lot of brand loyalty when it comes to game developers. The name Fantasy Life didn’t mean much to me, but one look at the Level-5-esque characters had me intrigued. It’s not that the characters are exceptionally drawn or anything, it’s just that they have that distinctive style that evokes Professor Layton and Ni No Kuni, both of which I love.

Fantasy Life Witch
How can you say “no” to those beady little eyes?

 

Anyway, I bought this game on a whim, or perhaps it was a double-whim. First, I thought I had pre-ordered it on Amazon, but this past Monday, I realized that the release day had come and gone, which meant that I hadn’t ordered it after all. I immediately ordered my copy.

The short story: this game has everything I like about MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online RPGs), but without the MMO part, if that makes any sense. You have the option of calling your Nintendo DS friends over to play with you, but it’s not required in any way (that I know of). However, it does note which of your friends has the game and integrates them into your game. For example, it placed the house of one of my friends, complete with his interior décor, next door to mine. (I was confused – one of my DS buddies has a similar name to one of the NPCs. It’s the NPC’s house that’s next door to mine. Steele vs. Stele, it’s an easy mistake to make, right?)

This game has one major thing that most single-player PRGs does not: crafting! Along with the standard combat classes (known in this game as “lives”) such as paladin, mercenary, hunter, and wizard, you can also choose a gathering “life,” such as a miner, or a crafting one, such as blacksmith.

I started out as an alchemist, a crafter of potions and charms, and boy did my character need them! Alchemists can use daggers in battle, but aren’t very good at defense, so those potions come in handy. However, you can change your “life” often, and without penalty, so long as you’re not in the middle of a main story quest. This means that you can mine, chop wood, gather herbs, fish, and fight in the same area, without having to run back and forth to switch lives! Admittedly, it took me about eight in-game hours to realize that, so I did have some back-and-forth to do, but now I know, and now you know, too!

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle
Courtesy of G.I. Joe (and thethingswesay.com)

 

I don’t think I’m anywhere near finished with the story yet (I just unlocked the third city), and it’s obvious that Butterfly is hiding something, but this game will have me wasting many an hour trying to become a god in all lives.

Bravely Default: (where the) (f)airy (f)lies
Thanks to Airy, I still have trust issues with winged guides.

 

If only it were as easy to master skills in real life. Oh, well. Those fish aren’t going to catch themselves, so I’ll catch you later!

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call logo
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call logo

I’m a Final Fantasy fiend. Ever since my (now) husband moved in with his Playstation and Final Fantasy VIII, I’ve been hooked. That means I’m a sucker for almost any game with the words “Final Fantasy,” is made by Square-Enix, (I’m looking at you, Bravely Default) or, in the case of that Kickstarter, involves the composer Nobuo Uematsu. I also love rhythm/music games; I’ve owned Dance Dance Revolution (including the super-expensive RedOctane dance mats), Beatmania, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Rocksmith, even Elite Beat Agents.

Needless to say, when the second installment of Final Fantasy’s rhythm game was announced, I pounced on the collector’s edition. Extra Final Fantasy soundtrack albums? Yes, please!

I know people have had problems with Digital River, the folks who run Square-Enix’s online store, but I’ve never had an issue. Final Fantasy XIV and Lightning Returns, arrived with no issues. Despite the warning on their site that the game might not arrive by the release day of September 16, I got it on the 13th. Three days early.

Time to get a good head start on the game, right?

I actually found the timing of the notes to be more forgiving than the original game. It was a lot easier for me to get critical hits and some nice combos. It got to the point where I developed very high standards for myself; a score of A or below seemed like failure. (Note: at the end of each song, you receive a letter grade. Above A is S, SS, and SSS.)

The song selection is insane. There are apparently over 200 songs available, though they’re not all available right away. I’ve put about 20 hours into the game so far, and just hit the achievement of playing 100 songs.

Apart from the regular mode, there’s a Quest Medley mode, in which you play multiple stages, and even “fight” bosses by making critical hits (i.e., hitting the notes in time). Beating the quests helps you unlock different player characters for your kick-ass rhythm party. My only gripe is that Fang from Final Fantasy XIII isn’t available; I’ve developed a soft spot for the “Magical Lesbian Death Squad,*” and I would have rounded out the party of four with the Lightning Returns version of Lightning.

The versus mode is pretty neat; you get to face off against either AI, a Nintendo 3DS friend, or a random person online. You can narrow down the search for random people by song difficulty and location (domestic or international). Then, you get to both play a song, and whoever gets the higher score wins. However, there is a trick! You get to inflict different status effects on each other, which can change the speed or direction of the notes. One effect even makes the timing super-strict! The status effects are random, but a friendly Moogle will warn you when they’re coming.

There is also the option to get more songs through DLC (downloadable content). I caved and bought “Shuffle or Boogie” from Final Fantasy VIII, because I spent many an hour playing the Triple Triad minigame.

Initial impression: It’s a super-fun game and the awesome music makes me nostalgic for all the old games in the Final Fantasy franchise.

More to come as I progress in the game. For now, however, my thumbs are sore.

 

*The Magic Lesbian Death Squad consists of Lightning, Fang and Vanille (thanks, ClockworkHouse). I hope it doesn’t come across as disrespectful; all I’m implying is that the Death Squad is pretty kick-ass. Also, Fang and Vanille really love each other, and remind me of Xena and Gabrielle.

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