Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Final Fantasy Tactics A2

I have been playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2 pretty much all of my free time since I got it last Wednesday. I’m 20 hours deep and still going strong. Over the weekend, I played until my DSL’s red light came on, then switched to my wife’s DS. Coincidentally, when her red light came on, my charge light went off, so I was able to continue my playing without interruption. The language difference hasn’t been any trouble – in fact, it’s actually been a lot of the fun.

In FFTA and FFTA2, each battle is regulated by Law. In FFTA2, there are 100 laws, and it is crucial to know what those are so you can get bonus items at the end of the battle – and to prevent your characters from going to jail.

Thankfully, a wiki site exists (run by Penguin Knight) that has translations for all of the laws, skills, job classes, etc. I’ve printed out and made myself a little handbook to use at home (and I have a print-out of all of the laws that fits neatly in my DS case for on the go). Within the first two days of playing, I already started recognizing certain characters – which was a nice sense of accomplishment. There are some walkthrus on there too, but that's not my style.

As far as the story goes, I of course have no idea what is going on. But that can wait for the North American release. If you read my FFTA retro review, you’ll know I wasn’t a big fan of that story, so that’s not the real appeal for this game. This game might have an excellent story, and I will definitely buy it and play it all over again when/if it comes stateside.

There are two difficulty levels - normal and hard – and when I finish the normal mode, I have every intention of playing through again on hard. A great aspect of the Tactics series, and specifically in FFTA2, is that you can play through multiple times and have a different experience each time due to the fact that there are 7 different races and over 50 job classes to play as, and the maximum amount of people you can have on the battlefield is 6…

The side-questing can be a little tricky – I basically just take on 3 or so quests, and then hop around the map looking for where they are located. If I were really diligent (and I may still do this), I would make a list of all of the areas on the map, and then figure out exactly in the quest text where the location is. But one benefit of map hopping is random battles and recruiting new units.

There is also an item crafting process, where you use various materials you find from defeating enemies and winning battles to craft new items. This is the only way to gain access to new weapons, armor, and accessories, as once you use your materials to craft new items, you then have to buy the items from the store. It seems a little silly, especially as money was a little tight in the beginning of the game, but it’s all gravy now.

Here are a couple of vids I took to show off FFTA2 (sorry for the crackly button clicking!).

That’s my progress thus far – as you can tell, I’m very pleased with my purchase. I would have bought it months ago when it came out if I knew the NA translation was going to take so long (or possibly not happen…). I will not make the same mistake again in the future.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So many games, so little time – Part the Second

If one already has a ton of games to play, why would one purchase more games? Because one is simply mad!

Back in Part the First, I spoke of having far too many games to play, and hardly enough time to play them. Time has not become more abundant, in fact it might even be less so, but my game collection still continues to grow.

After discovering that Dragon Quest Swords was a mere eight hour game with a steep $49.99 price tag, I decided to wait for a price drop. This freed up $50.00 of my very limited budget, so I decided to head to my favorite money sink – eBay.

eBay and myself have a great relationship – I give it my money, and it gives me games that I would not (or could not) pay full price for. So here’s what I did with said $50:

$14.00 – NDS - Metroid Prime Hunters (used): No longer being produced. This was a steal of a deal in my opinion. A copy of this game used sells for about what you would have paid for it at retail when it came out. Why Nintendo stopped producing it is a mystery to me, since it supports online multiplay, but I got it a great price (via a newly listed Buy It Now) and look forward to giving it a go.

$24.50 – SNES – Secret of Mana (used): I let my brother borrow this game years ago, but it disappeared. He doesn’t remember borrowing it, so I was out my second favorite game. I had purchased a copy on eBay a few years ago, but it had Blockbuster Video stickers on it, and didn’t hold the same sentimental value. This copy appears to be pretty clean, and I picked it up (via a newly listed Buy It Now auction) for about ten bucks cheaper than the average sale price.

$15.00 – NDS - Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (brand new): Retails $29.99. This has a pretty decent score on Metacritic, and IGN gave it a good score as well. I’m on a Final Fantasy kick right now, and while this was listed at $22.00 (shipping included), I offered the seller $15.00 (shipping included) and she accepted. I was very surprised, as I had told myself I would not get this game unless I could get it new for $15 or under, which is kind of unreasonable. Woot! (While I haven’t played this yet, I have read that this game is great for Final Fantasy beginners, but also entertaining for Final Fantasy vets. So if you have someone you might want to play Ring of Fates with in another month, maybe you could get their feet wet with this one first?)

On top of that, I recently imported Final Fantasy Tactics A2. I recently downloaded Harvest Moon SNES on the VC. Brawl is coming in less than a month. I still haven’t finished Mario Galaxy, Zack and Wiki, and several others…

Why did I just buy more games?!?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quick Update

I thought for sure one of the many stores around my town would have a copy of the new Dragon Quest Swords (Wow, for a game where in Japan "complaints of mass absenteeism from schools and places of work, Enix changed its policy of releasing new Dragon Quest games on weekdays", I had to go to a site from the UK {I am guessing} to find the NA DQS site) I checked around and of course the earliest a copy will be in town is tomorrow, and it is coming to one place I hate to go. I will not sully this fine site with its name, I am sure you know which one I am refering to.

That's when I decided that I might as well just wait a little bit longer. I have completed No More Heroes, all most of it at least. I am still working on the "real" ending, those of you that have played the game will know what I am talking about. I still need to get the last set of upgrades to my stats, accessories for the last beam katana and one last video, I believe. All that aside, I just want to go ahead and highly recommend this to everyone out there. Some may have minor objections to the copious amount of blood in the game, but the blood is anime-ish to say the least. The only class of people that I would not recommend this to, are those that think there is too much blood in anime. I know this reference point is not valid for large portions of the population that have no idea what anime is, but for the subset of the population that is interested in No More Heroes I think it is very apt. I really didn't want to post after myself like this but it seems my two slacker friends are goofing off.

ANYway, when I finally managed to make it home, what do I find waiting for me in my mail box? The copy of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn I ordered off ebay over a week ago, I nearly forgot about it. That just goes to show you, sometimes what you really want is already waiting for you at home.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thrill of the game

Wow, What an amazing finish! I know I am pretty late putting this up, but I really don't care. I had such an amazing weekend. I went out of town to pretty large, unfamiliar city. I hope that some of you caught the game on Sunday. It really came down to the last second. I can not remember a more exciting finish. All I can think of is seeing that ball being launched into the air. At first, I remember thinking that the ball looked to be off. As it arced more, I began to regret ever doubting such a gifted player. Ever.

As the ball made contact, the clock seemed to freeze for a few microseconds. The ball just sort of perched precariously on the edge. As time returned to normal speed, the events unfolded so rapidly that it was hard to be sure of the outcome. Did it count?

It took the replay for me to be sure of what I had just witnessed, and oh what a glorious play. It had all that is best about sports; talent and ability, hard work, perseverance, last second heroics and an underdog pulling out a win.

I am not sure about putting this picture up, but I am anyway. It is an AP Photo/Gerry Broome photo, to give credit where credit is due. Scroll down for one of the most exciting last second finishes in years.....

What? What game did you think I was talking about? The super bowl was a great game, but I had no interest in the Giant's winning the game. The only thing I cared about them winning was the result. On the other hand, fan's of the wolfpack know exactly of what I speak. When I saw that big left hand come flying through the air and slam the ball, I went crazy. SPP thought that I was going to upset the neighbors with my exuberance. I will say that B!Z, Zon and I had an idea for a picture to show our feelings about the "big" game. A nice high resolution shot of that last sack on Brady. It would say something along the lines of Perfect Epic Fail. A similar idea has already been done, so the rush to do our's has subsided. When Zon brought this to my attention this evening, it seemed that adding anything would be senseless. The image speaks for itself. Although, sometimes not saying anything is just the best policy.

An update about No More Heroes. I was able to hold off on buying a copy for about 24 hours longer than I thought, so maybe there is hope for me after all. It is a great game. I just wanted to start off by saying that fact. I also want to say that it is not for everyone. Even though Zon is a big third party Wii developer supporter, he is not interested. I have no compunctions about slicing and dicing my way through hordes of enemies. I will say that there is a bit of blood, but it is very much in the anime style of blood. Gushing over the top to say the least, but not gory to me at all. The grunts are cut down Kill Bill style (can anyone say "Shogun Assassin"?), but the atmosphere of the entire game is one of dark humor very suited to an over the top style of combat. The Wii remote is used to activate "death blows" that are the agents that deliver the previously mentioned blood, other than that I have seen nominal amounts of blood in the gameplay. The cut scenes between ranked fights is another matter, but the story being told is pretty funny. It seems to offset the violence by being at times witty, then over the top. The weak spots come mainly in the small variety. The "over-world", if you want to call it that, Santa Destroy is pretty interesting in its overall design. The fault is in it's implementation. At times, it seems to need some more time spent in house to get the edges tightened and a few other minor details in line. I felt that I could have been seeing True Crimes for the NGC when I was cruising around a comparatively small area. I have been driving around the city and passed a pedestrian by at least a foot. For some reason, the characters throw themselves to the ground. Just an example of the bugs, but I feel that this is a game that will really grow into it's potential in it's sequels. I think I will put up something about NMH after I finish the game, but who knows when that will happen.

One last thing about a little device that really helped me in the unfamiliar city I mentioned at the beginning. I used a Tomtom and I will say that it necessitated that I go out and procure one immediately. After I plugged in the address the device took me directly to my destination, even after several missed turns and pit stops. The route it used was new even to the person that lived there. All this in the biggest city in the state at rush hour on Friday. The only real traffic I saw was on the interstate or a major highway and only for a few minutes total. I could make a wrong turn or turn off for a break and it would recalculate a new route. In the end, it got me to my destination in less time, frustration and worry than I could have imagined. I would highly recommended one to anyone who travels or works in a field that has you going to unfamilar places and of course those that get lost often. ;-)


Thinking about importing a game? It's not a bad idea. If the Wii weren't region-locked, I think I would probably be playing Brawl right now instead of typing this. Too bad though, the Wii is region-locked, but the good old Nintendo DS is not.

I have a few DS games that are from Japan - and fortunately, they don't really require you to know any japanese.

However, I am planning on importing Final Fantasy Tactics A2, which was released in October in Japan, and has no NA release date - and Square Enix has already announced their first half of 2008 lineup.

FFTA2 is pretty heavy on the text, and I know absolutely zero japanese. You would think that would be a terrible idea, but back in the early 90s, I played my first all-japanese game, the Enix made RPG, Soul Blader. When you submerge yourself into something, you may be surprised to find that you will quickly start picking up on things. I have played through and beaten Soul Blader quite a few times. It's simply trial and error discovering what each option does. Not being able to read the text also eliminates the 'hand-holding' which can be somewhat detestable in some games now.

Now in Soul Blader's case, I of course had no idea what the story was beyond what I gleaned from gameplay, and in FFTA2's case, I'm honestly not even really concerned for the story as much as I just want another Tactics game to play. FFTA2 might have a great story, but I'll figure out the specifics when it actually gets released in North America. Who knows, maybe I'll write a FAQ about it when it's all said and done?

A few other DS imports I own:


Impulse buy ($8 used) from eBay a couple years ago. I went to Gamefaqs and found an outline and translation of the main menu and options. Gameplay requires no reading whatsoever. It's an okay game, a lot of puzzle solving with little reward. It got to be tiring after the first 25 (out of 100) stages or so.

Wario Ware Touched!

Bought from the same guy as I got Polarium from. Only $10 used (and combined shipping, woot!). This was some of the best money I ever spent on a DS game, as it's simple, fast-paced fun. You're handicapped slightly to start off with unless you can read japanese, as you don't know if it's telling you to touch, scratch, or whatever - BUT it doesn't impede your gaming at all, because the overall layout of the micro games are so easily understood - universal even. I'm glad I got this on eBay, as it is out of print now in NA, and in Japan as well I believe.


This one I did pay full price ($50, on eBay of course) for, as there were no plans on releasing it in North America at the time. While it was eventually released in NA a year or so after I bought it, it was a very limited release, and you'll be lucky to find a copy at a Gamestop as it was never sold in stores. This game had very little text, and was also very easily understood. A very relaxing music-making game features 10 different modes each consisting of a different electroplankton. You can also just choose to watch preloaded electroplankton in action, which is pretty neat.

While I haven't played Jump Super Stars or Jump Ultimate Stars yet, I have considered picking these up. The first one you can get pretty cheap ($20ish), the second one is still pretty new ($30ish) and supports online gameplay. It's basically a Super Smash Bros game with anime characters from the likes of Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, and tons of others. Sadly, I do not believe it has any plans on coming to NA... but I honestly don't believe a fighting game will require you to read a whole lot to figure stuff out - plus, with all the anime fans out there, I'm sure there are very detailed FAQs on the storyline, special moves, etc.