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Your 2024 Gaming Diary

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18 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

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I also played through the GBA WarioWare game. This was due to Nando posting about his adventures on the more recent Switch version. Its been years since I played the original game and so set about fully completing it. This required me to unlock every mini game and also beat the high score on each of them. This took some doing and so I was just tackling a few at a time, in between other games.

It was fun playing though it again and reminded me of when it was first released. I would take my GBA to work with me and during our lunch break, me and the lads would take turns trying to get the high scores. 

 

Who would've thought that this little game would give us the greatest Nintendo leaker to ever live... He even looks shifty here already!

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Posted (edited)
On 14/04/2024 at 3:08 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

I LOVED this. I vaguely remember @RedShell enjoying this a couple of years back and now I can see why. It's a massive love letter to Pikmin and plays exactly how a top down, 2D Pikmin game should. Instead of a whistle to call your creatures, the main character rocks what is essentially a Proton Pack from Ghostbusters. You suck up the little creatures to get them back to you. The development team knew what they were referencing because when you fully upgrade it this is what the trophy us called. :D

Yeah, great little game. Glad to hear you also enjoyed it. :cool:

Been a while since I posted an update, hmm... let's see if I can remember what I've played... 

Well, February got pretty much completely taken over by one game, a controversial game that a lot of people loved to hate, I am of course talking about:

Palworld:

 

While I wasn't exactly sold on it at first, I ended up getting hooked on the damn thing and then couldn't stop playing it! :D As an early access game (and one made by an inexperienced dev team at that) it obviously has quite a lot of issues, and it's not exactly the most original game ever made *cough* :heh: but you know what? Neither of those things stopped it from (eventually) being a lot of fun! Played it for around 100 hours in total and in that time I caught the majority of the Pokém-err... Pals, defeated all bosses and unlocked every achievement.

It was the base building aspect that ended up appealing to me the most though, it's super simple to use yet pretty flexible in what it allows you to build. But me being me, I went and made a 15 storey Baby Face tower for my main base: :laughing:

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Yep, it was just a bit big: :heh:

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So yeah, base building was really great, and alongside being able to make essentially any shape base you like, there's an assortment of furniture items available to craft for decoration. It's cute how your Pals also help out with constructing stuff and can be assigned to various tasks within the base itself, like planting/harvesting food, manufacturing items or weapons, etc. And depending on the type of Pal/skills, they'll be better suited to certain tasks, it makes collecting and levelling them up feel a lot more worthwhile as a result. Unlike in Pokémon, where I always focus on my team and all remaining Pokémon are just left gathering dust in the storage box, in Palworld you want to have a load of different Pals trained up and then set to your base/s.

Another aspect where Palworld seems to make an improvement over Pokémon is in the online play department, although it's not something I personally tested, as far as I'm aware the entire game is playable in co-op. No doubt a contributing factor to the crazy success of this game.

Despite Palworld one-upping Pokémon in some areas though, it still needs work, it's an ambitious title with a lot going on and all in a huge open world, Pals can get stuck on parts of the environment, characters will randomly T-pose, all that sort of fun stuff. There were already a few updates back while I was still playing that fixed up some bugs, including a major one where it was possible to capture bosses! That's right, not just the Pals, but their NPC trainers too! :laughing: Luckily I managed to "catch 'em all" before the fix arrived, an unusual advantage of playing via Game Pass, where patches would be delayed over the Steam version.

Oh, quick mention on the music before I move on. For the most part it was basically non-existent, as they were going for that BotW vibe :p just some light piano here and there. So I'd come to the conclusion that the game wasn't going to offer much in that regard, but then I was hit with this!:

Crazy good! :o
It's basically the only memorable track from the entire game (for me at least) but yeah, what a belter. :bowdown:

Anyway, I stand by what I said about Palworld originally, in that I just hope its success will snap Game Freak out of their rut. It's quite frankly embarrassing how a small rookie studio (regardless of how they went about it) has been able to produce a more entertaining "Pokémon" game than any of the recent titles in that series.
Game Freak needed a wake up call, and hopefully this is it.

 

While subbed to Game Pass I noticed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night had returned to the service, it's a game that I'd previously played through on there and really enjoyed, so I decided to download and check it out again. A couple of hours into it and I was having such a blast once more that I realised I should probably just buy it, so picked up a copy on Steam. It's rare that I replay games, but this one is so good that I simply couldn't resist. I absolutely love it! :love: The visuals, the music, the flow of the game and huge variety of weapons and movesets all make it super replayable.

There's only 1 thing wrong with Bloodstained, and that's the atrocious font they used for the dialogue text. Yuck! What were they thinking with that!? I tried searching for a mod to change it to a serif style, something a bit more... Gothic, but there was nothing. I know, that's such a trivial thing to complain about, but it still really annoys me. :heh:
On the plus side, I discovered other mods that helped distract me from the horrible font at least. ;)

@Jonnas, I see this is one of your games to play this year, hope you get around to it.

 

Very briefly revisited Stray to check out a mod that let's you play as Garfield:

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Game is now 11/10. :laughing:

 

No More Heroes III:

This also popped up on Game Pass, having already played 1, 2 and Travis Strikes Again, I figured I should finally give 3 a go as well.
But apart from the combat (which was really good) and the humour (that's so unbelievably stupid it made me laugh, a lot :grin:) it's probably the weakest entry in the series, I just wasn't a fan of the way it's structured. You have several large areas with pretty much nothing in them that are just like hubs for mission markers, you then have to do a number of these repetitive missions to open up the boss battles, that was ok initially, but towards the later stages of the game it got pretty tiresome. :zzz: I would've preferred some proper levels to explore with a greater number of enemies to progress through occasionally. ::shrug:
Anyway, the boss battles and ridiculous story/cutscenes were enough to keep me playing through to the end, but were it not for those things I would've struggled to finish it I reckon.

 

Dead Rising:

Where the hell has this game been all my life?! :eek:
So I randomly purchased this on Steam as I was in the mood for even more silliness after NMH3, and let's just say that this game did not disappoint! :D
Playing this for the very first time in 2024 was quite the experience, a fantastic blast from the past, back when big developers were still relatively free to make highly entertaining games without needing to worry about political correctness and all the other constrictive nonsense they have to deal with now.

Anyway, won't go into details on what I liked about this game, because that's basically everything! :grin: So I'll instead comment on the single aspect that I truly hated and that stops Dead Rising from being absolutely perfect, and that's its boss battles. :shakehead
My word, frustrating doesn't even begin to describe how awful they are. Damage sponges that can destroy you within seconds using attacks that are so damn cheap it feels like encountering a cheater in an online game. You need to either possess super human reflexes, or cheese the AI in some way to create a window of opportunity to attack. And even then they can just pull a completely unpredictable move which will be impossible to react to. Infuriating.

Terrible bosses aside though, this game is gold. The setting, the freaky characters, the OTT (non-boss) gameplay :heh:... so much fun. I was also super impressed by the amount of zombies on screen simultaneously and the multitude of ways they react to attacks too, that must've been so impressive back in 2006! It still holds up really well today. I completely lost it the first time I threw a metal pipe at one and it got stuck inside them. "Let off some steam, Bennett!" :laughing:

I've come to realise that apart from some indie stuff I actually have a lot more fun playing older games now than modern ones, so I'm going to try and catch up on other classics that I might have missed out on over the years, provided they can be found on PC. Hopefully I'll be able to discover some other wacky gems like Dead Rising. :)

 

Well, that's my gaming diary up to now, I think. :hehe:

Spoiler
  • Bramble: The Mountain King
  • Stray
  • Palworld
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (replay)
  • No More Heroes III
  • Dead Rising

The only other thing I've been playing regularly alongside everything else is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, N-E online battles on Saturday's and creating custom stages the rest of the time I'm on it. :idea:
Yep, still addicted to making those, here are some screens of my latest creations:

U8JFv8n.jpg

:peace:

Edited by RedShell
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@RedShell Yeah, the original Dead Rising is fantastic. I had a huge amount of fun on it back when it was released on the 360. The sequel is pretty good as well but everything after that turned a bit rubbish. You're right in saying that the amount of zombies on screen back then was super impressive. I think there was an achievement for killing 50,000 of them or something ridiculous like that. I vaguely remember having to drive around in the tunnels in a van and grind the kills that way.

That Garfield mod looks hilarious. :D 

 

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3 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

@RedShell Yeah, the original Dead Rising is fantastic. I had a huge amount of fun on it back when it was released on the 360. The sequel is pretty good as well but everything after that turned a bit rubbish.

Yeah, I'd heard that the games dip in quality after the sequel. I definitely plan to check out the second game at least, I'm just a bit confused about which version to get as it seems there are 2 Dead Rising 2. :heh: As far as I can tell, the "off the record" version is the one to go for, because it features Frank and all the photography stuff again.

4 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I think there was an achievement for killing 50,000 of them or something ridiculous like that. I vaguely remember having to drive around in the tunnels in a van and grind the kills that way.

Indeed there is. :grin: And for sure, you would've done it buy driving around the maintenance tunnels, ludicrous amounts of zombies in there.

4 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

That Garfield mod looks hilarious. :D 

Yup, unfortunately it doesn't make the cat talk, had it also included Garfield's sarcastic commentary I would have replayed the entire game! There is, however, another mod that replaces all cat meows with fart sound effects, which combines well with the Garfield skin. :laughing:

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Posted (edited)

Word of warning, apparantly the PC version of DR2/Off The Record does not support Xbox One/Series controllers.  They will only support Xbox 360 controllers and nothing else from what I understand.

Edited by Dcubed
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57 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

Word of warning, apparantly the PC version of DR2/Off The Record does not support Xbox One/Series controllers.  They will only support Xbox 360 controllers and nothing else from what I understand.

Cheers for the heads-up.

How strange though. DR1, 3 and 4 all have full controller support. :hmm:

On the pcgaming wiki page it has a green check mark next to XInput compatible controllers, pretty sure the controller I use can be switched to that. Anyway, even if it doesn't work, I could always use the custom controller mapping feature in Steam, right?

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I’ve played a few GameBoy games on NSO recently:

Kirby’s Dream Land
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It was nice to see where the pink (err… white) puffball started, but ultimately felt this was pretty underwhelming.

I appreciate the inhale technique was improved in future games with the ability to take on abilities. Here you can suck enemies in and spit them out. While this created the unique attacking concept for defeating many enemies, the fact that you can simply inhale air and spit it out as an attack nulled a lot of the need for me to use enemies as projectiles instead.

Yes this would’ve been impressive and likely fun at the time, as far as early handheld platformers go, but really feeling its age now for me.


Super Mario Land 2
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The bulky sprites make this look like a Mario game and add character to the cast. However, the compromise of having large characters on a small screen meant the gameplay is really slowed down to allow for the subsequent small viewing area.

Not as good as I remember. Just so slow with a low difficulty level.

It’s not a tricky game. It was fun finding the hidden exits, but even though I hadn’t played this in around a decade (as a download on 3DS) I was able to blast through it in just over an hour, finding most of the hidden routes. I can imagine most people getting through it faster.

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Posted (edited)

Argh! So many people not going into the NSO options to remove the buttons on the bottom of the screen! I hate it!

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Star Ocean: The Second Story R is an action RPG developed by Gemdrops, and was released on the Switch, PS4, PS5, and PC last year. It's a remake of the PS1 game, "Star Ocean: The Second Story"

The game follows two characters, the first is Claude C. Kenny, an ensign of the Earth Federation (Think of it as the Federation from Star Trek). He's on a mission of some sort, when weirdness happens. Said weirdness transports him to the planet Expel, where he meets the second protagonist, Rena Lanford. Expel isn't aware of intergalactic life, so when Claude whips out a Laser Gun to save Rena from the local wildlife, she mistakes him for a hero in the local legends that wields a "Sword of Light". Word of this gets out quick, and the town mayor asks Claude to investigate the Sorcery Globe, a meteorite that has spawned monsters all over the planet. Claude agrees to look into it, but only so he can find a way off of the planet (he doesn't tell them that). Rena tags along because she wants to find her real parents, she's adopted.

The framing device is interesting, you choose between Claude and Rena as the main character, and this tweaks the plot a little, as there's a number of scenes where the two are separated and you only see what happens to the character you chose. So there's naturally a few gaps in the plot.

The general plot is fine, but my big issue is that for 75% of the game, the game kinda forgets that it's in a Sci-Fi setting. The planet Expel is for all intents and purposes, a medieval planet, and Claude's laser gun breaks in the first half hour, so he's stuck swinging a sword for the rest of the game. It does remember that the game is called Star Ocean in the last 25% of the game, but it's kinda too late, and it feels like a missed opportunity.

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The game plays similarly to the "Tales of" games, in that battles are all real time, with you controlling one character, and the AI handling the other members of the party. They're pretty dumb though, with them running towards enemies with no regard for how dangerous that might be. Luckily, there are a veritable smorgasbord of ways to become incredibly powerful, and they all come from the Speciality system.

As you play the game and level up, characters accrue SP, which can be spent to improve various things, such as "Aesthetic Sense" or "Penmanship". Some of these provide immediate benefits, but with the right combination of stuff, that character develops a speciality that can be used for certain benefits.
For example, leveling up Penmanship allows that character to write books that help other characters level up specialties. As well as that, there are "Super Specialties" that require mutliple party members. If multiple characters develop a talent for writing, then they can work together to write an excellent book that you can get published and start collecting royalties for, which is an excellent way to amass loads of money.

It's not limited to that, you can do other stuff like doubling your EXP gains, calling some weird rabbit monster to help you travel over mountains, or even flat out steal from NPC's (Yes, @Dcubed, Octopath Traveler got that idea from this game)!

It all snowballed into hilarity for me as Claude accidentally forged the best sword in the game halfway through it, and went on to apply a HP draining effect to said best sword. Add to that an accessory that triples the amount of times he hits an enemy, and he was literally invincible!

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For comparison's sake, the second highest ATK in my party was 2,100

I haven't played a game that heavily encourages the player to utterly demolish it like this since Bravely Default, it's loads of fun!

Anyway, the second unique aspect of Star Ocean is how you build a party. Claude and Rena are the only mandatory characters in the game, but there are 13 other characters you can get, and they are all optional. You can finish the game with none of them if you want. I don't recommend it, but you can.
The problem is that you only have space for 8 characters, so you can never recruit everyone in one playthrough. The ending cutscenes are determined by who is in your party, and how much they like each other. There's 99 different cutscenes you can see in the ending (!), so multiple playthroughs are encouraged. Good thing this game only took me about 30 hours to beat then.

The game looks drop dead gorgeous, utilising the 2D-HD look that Team Asano games have popularised in recent times. You probably know by now, that I love this style! If only the Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters looked this good. The portraits that show up in cutscenes also look great. Incredible detail that makes the PSP versions look positively amateurish.
The music is also great. You have the option to use the original PS1 soundtrack, or an arranged version. I preferred the arranged version, but I've not played the other versions before, so I don't really have any nostalgia for them.

This is a fantastic remake, the only problems I have are small nitpicks with the structure of the original game, but it's not enough to affect my enjoyment. Highly recommended!

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Dragons, Sci-Fi, that whole connection!

Spoiler

Sea of Stars
Chained Echoes

Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore
Princess Peach Will Star As The Main Character In A Brand New Game
Star Ocean: The Second Story R

 

Edited by Glen-i
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Nice write up, @Glen-i.

It's a game I certainly want to play but I would like to go through Star Ocean First Departure R before doing so. That, along with a bunch of other SO games have been in my backlog for many moons now. 

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15 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

It's a game I certainly want to play but I would like to go through Star Ocean First Departure R before doing so. That, along with a bunch of other SO games have been in my backlog for many moons now. 

My adventure begins. Loving the pixel graphics.

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Only put a few hours into it but it's been a fun experience so far. Found a nice area to grind levels in and so done plenty of XP farming for a while. Early story seems intriguing. Looks like theres going to be some time travel shenanigans going on. 

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Huh, now that I notice it, Second Story R doesn't force that Square Enix trademark on screenshots like they do with almost every other game.
Weird, but appreciated.

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4 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Huh, now that I notice it, Second Story R doesn't force that Square Enix trademark on screenshots like they do with almost every other game.
Weird, but appreciated.

Just had a look at my Octopath 2 and Bravely Default 2 images and they don't have it either. I wonder if they've ditched doing it now? Star Ocean First Departure R is pretty old in comparison.

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3 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Just had a look at my Octopath 2 and Bravely Default 2 images and they don't have it either. I wonder if they've ditched doing it now? Star Ocean First Departure R is pretty old in comparison.

Not sure about that. Theatrhythm definitely does it.

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1 minute ago, Glen-i said:

Not sure about that. Theatrhythm definitely does it.

Just checked my DQ Monsters images and they have them. Very weird. ::shrug:

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Put some more time into Star Ocean this morning. Found this area in my current location.

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It's a statue that heals everyone with unlimited uses. This means for the next hour I'll be walking around in a circle, getting into random battles and farming XP. :D I started at level 21 (currently level 24) and will probably stick around until everyone is level 30.

I picked up my first extra character.

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Dude is called Ashlay and he seems decent enough. High attack power and high HP...my kinda team member. 

I love the character expression when they get hit during battle. They are hilarious. They give the game a bit of personality.

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Speaking of the battles, the enemy AI is quite clever. Despite being overlevelled, things can still go south for me quite quickly if the enemy manages to surround me/get me in a pincer attack. I always have to keep an eye on my positioning.

 

 

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Added another party member to the team.

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Dude clearly wanted to join us. I mean, just look at what happened to him when he ventured off on his own...

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I'm happy to have him on board though. It's about time I had someone who can heal on my team. 

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So, I hit a massive difficulty spike earlier this afternoon. I figured I must have wandered off the correct path but that wasn't the case at all. A quick search on the internet and this was indeed the correct way and it was a difficulty spike that many players before me encountered. Simple level grinding wasn't going to cut it and so I decided to learn all about the SP skills that @Glen-i mentioned when playing the second game. Once I got to grips with these skills I completely broke the game.

There's a skill that allows you to make exp cards that give you double experience points after a battle. There's then a skill that gives you the ability to replicate items, these cards included. Next, there's an ability that allows you to improve/create your own weapons. Finally, another ability is available that gives you the opportunity to fight a super boss at any point in the game. Linking all of these things together gave me some fantastic results.

I created two of the best swords in the game. These deal critical hits and also cause the enemy to be dazed. Having these on 2 characters was the first step.

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Next, I created the experience boosting cards and replicated a whole bunch of them. This took a while as its down to RNG and so a bit of reloading of the game was required but totally worth it.

After that, I summoned the super boss, used a card and then proceeded to beat the Hell out of it with my new weapons. The amount of experience I get from the fights in the area I'm in usually give around 1000-1500. This gave me...

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It took around 3 hours of prep to get everything in order but the results have been worth it. I jumped from level 37 to 80+ in the space of half an hour of battling.

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I got an exp farm on tap. Love it. :D

With Glen doing something similar in the sequel, it must be a common thing in this series. :p

 

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2 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

With Glen doing something similar in the sequel, it must be a common thing in this series. :p

Yeah, sure looks like it, I recognised a lot of those things you did in your prep.

Most games these days would try their best to patch up stuff like this, but this series seems to relish in it. It really rewards players who put in the work to make the SP system work in their favour, and it's my favourite thing about it.

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I continue to play Star Ocean First Departure R. I'm now in the late game area and it's ridiculous just how much back tracking is needed to continue the story. What's worse is that there is no fast travel system or airship available. The best you get is the ability to travel around via a few select ship ports. It's made things very, very tedious. 

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31 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

What's worse is that there is no fast travel system or airship available.

I can assure you that Second Story R has both. Hell, you can fast travel to any specific shop, let alone, town.

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13 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

I can assure you that Second Story R has both. Hell, you can fast travel to any specific shop, let alone, town.

That's good to hear. 

It's a baffling decision not to have such a system in this game, especially when there were many JRPGs that came before it that had things like airships and fast travel. I'm quite surprised they didn't add it to this updated version.

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The credits have rolled and my adventure is over.

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As you can see, there's still a stupid amount to do if I want the platinum, which I probably wont go for. It would take another 3 runs through the story and this is because of the amount of extra characters you can team up with. Your team can only hold 4 extras and so thats where the multiple playthroughs come in. 

Apart from the difficulty spike, as well as the lack of fast travel, I really enjoyed playing through this. It's about time I finally dipped my toe into this franchise and it was fitting that I started with this one.

It goes to show how bloated games have become. This game offered around 20-25 hours of play time and it just flew by. There were no pointless fetch quests or countless cutscenes that waffled on for ages but said very little. The game was straight forward and to the point, just like a lot of games that were made back then.

The SP system is very interesting when you start delving into it. There are an abundance of options at your disposal. Sure, you can break the game but it also allows you to play the game how you want. It's also one of the best ways to get the best gear. Kinda reminds me of Dragon Quest and the melding pot.

Very happy to have experienced this and I'm now set to pick up the next game when the time is right.

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On 21/04/2024 at 5:21 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

As you can see, there's still a stupid amount to do if I want the platinum, which I probably wont go for. It would take another 3 runs through the story and this is because of the amount of extra characters you can team up with. Your team can only hold 4 extras and so thats where the multiple playthroughs come in. 

Well, I was stupid/crazy enough to go for it.

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Took another 3 playthroughs of the game. It honestly wasn't that bad. Each time I finished it I got better/faster at completing it, until I eventually got my final run down to just over 8 hours. Nuts how fast you can get through it once you get a good handle on the SP system and which skills to utilise.

The secret super boss in the game was pretty rough though. The fight is pretty cheap and very RNG based. Your level doesn't really matter and it's pretty much down to luck whether or not the boss will use killer moves or not. If all goes to plan, you can finish the fight in about 10 seconds but it it doesn't then you'll be dead in the same amount of time. 

I also tackled the super post game dungeon. I really had to grind to get through this. The max level in the game is not 100 but rather 255. I tried the dungeon at around the level 120 mark and just could not get through it and so I done some extreme XP farming. Was a cake walk once I tried it when I was level 180. :D

Playing through the game multiple times let me see the characters stories play out in different ways. It was cool how certain blanks were filled in if you chose a different team. There was also a new ending and a secret anime cutscene that I unlocked by going to an optional dungeon with certain characters.

Fantastic JRPG and one that I certainly got my monies worth from. 

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