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Mini Review: Tales of Xillia 2

It kinda feels that this blog is drifting away from its original purpose… Oh well. It’s not too often you find direct sequels for JRPGs and those which do get made are often though of as inferior to their predecessor and the series in general. Just think of FFX-2, or FFXIII-2 (though XIII was a turd anyway). The tales of series can’t escape that fate either. We’ve had Tales of Destiny 2 (a decent enough game but not as good as Destiny) and Tales of Symphonia: dawn of the new world. The less said about that, the better!

And so we come to Tales of Xillia 2, a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia which was released a year ago. Does it break the curse of the poor sequel? Erm… no.

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The story of Xillia 2 takes place 1 year after the events of XIllia so all that stuff you saw in the epilogue in the first game happened with only Leia really being markedly different from what the first game showed (she’s a journalist now instead of helping out at her family inn). The main character this time is Ludger Kresnik, a man with a mysterious power which allows him to go into alternate dimensions and destroy distortions within those dimensions and effectively wipe them out of existence. That kinda raises an interesting question about whether he’s destroying worlds or “merely” eliminating possibilities. Anyway, early on you meet a little girl by the name of Elle who joins up with you and you journey together. You also find ludgers brother being blamed for a terrorist attack and, due to a major event at the start of the game, you’re saddled with an immense amount of debt which you need to pay off in order to progress in the game.

Gameplay-wise, Xillia 2 keeps most of the systems from the first game. This is a very good thing as Xillia is definitely one of the better entries in the series. If I took the time to get the platinum trophy for it, you know it’s doing something right! But there are some changes here and there. Not all of them for the better. Now, the game limits you to 4 characters in dungeons and the world map. You can only change your party members (assuming they are available) at towns and you can no longer swap them out during battle. Lillium orbs have been replaced with allium orbs which allow you to accumulate element points which will unlock skills and artes when you gain a certain amount of them. Some are unlocked when you have enough of 2 different elements and it’s generally less linear than the lillium orbs in Xillia but it makes it very difficult to plan your characters growth too far ahead. Attacks are now also split into strike, slash and gun attacks with enemies being strong and weak to these new attack types as well as elements.

And then, there’s the debt. At certain points in the game, you need to make a payment towards clearing your debt before you are able to progress in the story. A job board allows you to take on sub-quests to bring in money to pay the debt if the main story didn’t provide enough. a neat enough idea but it tends to hinder more than make things interesting… The battle system is pretty much identical to the one seen in Xillia along with link artes and sacred artes returning for another round. The areas you visit are the same as the ones seen in the first game, although there are a few new areas and others have been expanded. Still, seeing the exact maps again in the game does feel a little lazy on the part of the devs.

Tales of Xillia 2 had some really big shoes to fill and it didn’t manage to do so but there were some bits which were worked well…

Continue reading Mini Review: Tales of Xillia 2

Unboxing: Tales of Xillia 2 Ludger Kresnik Collectors Edition

Thought I’d do something a little different for this weeks post. I’ve been playing around with my various video camera equipment while trying to find the best options for a different video review for something else which should appear soon but as a test, I was using the camera which came with the Call of Duty Ghosts Prestige edition (which I got for free last year at the Eurogamer Expo) to try an unboxing video for the special edition of Tales of Xillia 2 which was released last week. So, here’s the video!

 

 

 

I haven’t gotten very far in the game so I’m not in a position to review it yet but so far, I’d say it’s enjoyable enough but inferior to Xillia (and by extension, vesperia and Abyss). But the trinkets in the limited edition were cool!

Mini Review: Astebreed

I had planned to make this post an update on HomuHomu (she’s coming along, albeit slowly) but over the weekend, I went and picked up the Humble Bundle Japan edition and within that bundle was this real gem of a game which has been out for a while but I think really deserves a mention as it’s easily my favourite game from the bundle. That game is Astebreed!

Astebreed is a japanese doujin (read:indie) shmup which can be purchased via the English publishers website or on steam. The plot (yes, there is a genuine plot in this game!) sees mankind at war with an alien race (as usual) and fighting for their survival. The aliens are some kind of collective conscience and the prologue in the game has you playing as the father of 2 girls who is fighting to rescue them from the aliens. Unfortunately, you’re too late and they have been incorporated into 2 advanced but incomplete mecha. The dad jumps into one and fights his way out to return to earth while promising to come back for the other sister but dies enroute. Fast forward 6 months and the girl/mecha who escaped has now been completed and has been partnered with the main hero of the game and an earth fleet is sent with them as the vanguard to take on the aliens. No prizes for guessing who appears as their enemy while they make their trip… Yup, the other sister but *twist* she’s not on the aliens side either!!

As far as gameplay goes, Astebreed is closer to Panzer Dragoon than traditional bullet hell shmups. You get 3 types of attacks, a wide range shot, forward focused shot and a sword which does a lot of damage but has little range. However, if you hold down the shot buttons, you activate the lock-on attack. Again, the wide shot lock-on allows you to all enemies around you within range while the focused lock-on only allows you to lock onto an enemy within a small range, though you can change the direction using the directional keys. It’s the lock-on which you will be using the most in the game and bullets don’t come too thick and fast which makes them easier to dodge. Your mecha also gets a regenerating shield to protect you and it’s very lenient on easier difficulties.

One cool thing about the game is the perspective change which can occur seamlessly within the gameplay. Most of the game plays as a horizontal shooter but at times, the camera will pan to either above your mecha (forming a vertical shooter scenario) or behind (which forms something akin to the “behind the player” section in the NES contra game. Controls are identical throughout so there’s no jarring disconnect and the shift won’t affect the gameplay other than change the direction from where the enemy comes at you. It’s a neat trick and helps keeps things a little fresh.

The game itself is quite short (only 6 stages) and your mecha gets an upgrade around 3/4 of the way through the game. Finishing the game then allows you to select the upgraded mecha from the start. There’s also a boss mode and stage select for those who are more interested in high scores. How is the game tho?

Continue reading Mini Review: Astebreed

Wonder Festival 2014 Summer garage kit highlights

Bit of a late post this week as I’ve been working on the Tomopop GK coverage. You can check them out for a more complete gallery of the GK at this years Summer Wonder Festival but for this post, I’ll be focusing on the ones which I liked the most. Starting with the 1 kit I wish I managed to get…

Man, I really like this Noire kit!! Going to have to double my efforts next time!

Another kit I really liked the look of was this Cecilia kit but I have to admit that part of the reason was because it was Cecilia! She’s just too awesome and I don’t think Laura would work as well in this particular style. Houki might tho. There was a Charlotte kit which made an appearance at a previous event but screw Charlotte!

Continue reading Wonder Festival 2014 Summer garage kit highlights

Mini Review: Battle Princess of Arcadias

Well, this is a difficult one. I had planned to post this last week but wanted more time to progress more into it to ensure that I had a good grasp of what the game had to offer… Then the Destiny beta happened. Oh well, I did progress a fair bit so here goes with a mini review of Battle Princess of Arcadias.

Now, this is where things gets wierd because it’s very hard to peg what kind of game battle princess is. It’s published by Nippon Ichi Software but lacks a certain polish to its designs as well.

First, lets go into how the game looks. The story is presented in a stage like setting so if you’ve played puppeteer, it’s very similar. Graphics are drawn similar to waterpaintings for the backgrounds but with more vibrant colours. Characters are very basic but distinct. Overall, the look is pretty good in stills. It’s when they start moving where there are problems. The characters in particular, are oddly animated. They move as though they are puppets on strings so the arms and legs appear to stay stiff and rotate around a specific point to appear as though they are moving on the spot.

Gameplay-wise, it gets weird. Basically, it’s a scrolling fighting game with RPG elements. At it’s core, it’s most similar to the PS2 Game Odin Sphere with some major differences. Chiefly, there are three different types of stages; Combat, skirmish and Siege.

Combat is the one closest to odin sphere. You control one character and move through the stage and kill all enemies. However, at the start of the stage, you pick 3 characters from your  available cast and can freely swap between them in battle. Most characters have different weapons with different properties but there are a couple of duplicates who use the same weapons as other characters. They still retain original moves though.


Skirmish is a different take on things where you take on an enemy army with your own. Each weapon type allows you to command a unit consisting of users of that particular weapon and their levels are determined by how much money you use to upgrade them and the level of your character which uses the same weapon. So if one of your characters is level 10, you can raise the level of the unit to level 10. This is important! Combat wise, it’s fairly automatic as your units will automatically march in the background and attack the enemy. You can give them basic commands just as all out attack or defend as well as swap to the next unit in line but you are also in control of your own character who is attacking units in the foreground. Defeating these will provide small bonuses to your unit. Overall, most of the work is done by your units rather than yourself.
Siege is basically a boss battle. You send 3 of your characters to battle a large enemy and are accompanied with 150 units from your army. With this army, you need to break the shield surrounding the boss and deal direct damage until he dies. If you lose all 3 of your characters or all your units, then you lose. However, your units are replaced at a steady rate so it is possible to keep going even when you have few units left.

Storywise, it’s a mixed bag. Many of the individual characters act in tropes and stereotypes (they’ve even put in a chuunibyou sufferer in there) which makes for a lot of comic relief yet the story, at least later on, gets rather dark. Oh, and the king of the country is a Duck. Thought I’d throw that out there.

That’s it in terms of game description. From the world map, you pick a stage, which will be one of the three battle types mentioned above and work your way to the end. Characters get experience when you use them and you are able to buy/sell items and weapons from your home base as well as upgrading your troops. There’s also a limited scope for upgrading your weapons using items gathered during battles but aside from a few special skills which can be unlocked on certain weapons, I haven’t really found a use for it yet.

So, how is the game?

Continue reading Mini Review: Battle Princess of Arcadias

Anime Roundup: Summer 2014

The new anime season is upon us!! And this one actually has a few big names to it despite it being the summer season, which is usually one of the more dead seasons. And now, with spring anime winding up, now would be a good time to do the usual roundup! So first, as always, we look back at the previous seasons anime.

BEST SHOW

Hitsugi no Chaika

I’m not going to lie. The main reason why this show gets top billing is Chaika herself. There’s just something so endearing and loveable about the girl with her broken sentences and facial expressions. The show also gave me a strong Scrapped Princess vibe, which is good because scrapped princess is a great show which I would wholeheartedly recommend if you haven’t seen it yet!

Runner up: No Game No life, Kenzen Robo Daimidaler

Continue reading Anime Roundup: Summer 2014

Follow the Galaxy Fairy!

Just another quick post this time but I felt that this deserves a shoutout. As some of the more regular readers will know, I have a real soft spot for Sheryl Nome. She’s one of my favourite characters from any anime and I’ve built up a decent sized collection of figures of just Sheryl, which I have dubbed my Sheryl army! Well, the army got a few new additions recently so I decided to give a quick post to update how the army looks right now…

So here are the additions…

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So, from the right, we have the Ichiban Kuji Sheryl Nome Flagbearer version from Sayonara no Tsubasa, a chibi Sheryl and the huge Max Factory Universal bunny Sheryl to add to the army. How does it look now? Well…

Continue reading Follow the Galaxy Fairy!

Project: HomuHomu (part 3)

Just a very quick update this time around to show that progress is being made with Homura, albeit very slowly. The problem is that the parts quality is very low so after priming the parts, hundreds of airholes became visible on pretty much every part! The legs got it worst but I’ve been using liquid putty to try and fill in the holes and then sanding the parts down again before going through the priming process again and it’s been very very slow…

Here’s a pic of the head just to give you guys an idea:

Yup, each one of those specs is an airhole and there’s no guaranteed way of knowing which ones are filled and which ones aren’t until you re-prime the part. Hence why it’s taken this long just to get this far! Progress has been made but this has been a real slog and the end isn’t in sight yet. Hopefully, my next project won’t be as big a pain in the ass or as poor quality as this one…

Mini Review: Monster Monpiece

OK, I have to confess that I never thought this would get a western release and was a little adamant about buying it but decent word of mouth and general curiosity won me over… So let’s take a look at monster monpiece for the PS Vita

monmonpiece-review

At its core, this is collectible card battle game (think Yu-Gi-Oh or Weiss Schwarz) with a tower defence base to the battle mechanic. But if you’ve heard anything about this game recently, it’s probably due to the additional mechanic used when you want to upgrade your cards. We’ll get into that later…

And because the game is aiming squarely for the otaku market, every character in this game as well as every card you collect is female. Cue sexism outrage!!! All done? OK. The core of the game is a somewhat simple but surprisingly deep battle system where you and an opponent face eachother in a 7X3 grid. You control 3×3 squares on one end, the opponent takes the same space on the opposite side and a single neutral area separates the 2. The object of the game is to attack your opponents base on the opposite end of the field. To do this, you summon monsters on your side of the field and every turn after they are summoned, they will either advance one space or attack an adjacent enemy card. Once they reach the opponents end of the field, the card will then attack the enemy base and deal 1 piece of damage to the base. Once the enemy base runs out of HP, they lose. Simple!

There are 4 different types of cards, melee units (who attack adjacent cards for high damage), ranged units (who do less damage but can hit from further away), healers and buffers (who strengthen the ally card it’s next to). Cards have varying stats and some have special abilities, such as being able to move forward as soon as they are summoned, and more powerful skills which can affect areas of the board. Monsters are summoned using mana, which is generated at a variable rate but by default, is 3 mana per turn. You can increase the amount you get by summoning special cards or by utilizing a special chain feature in the game. Each card is given one of four colours. If you summon 3 monsters in succession, each corresponding summon will net you a small bonus which includes stat buffs for your cards on the field and additional mana. Still with me so far? Like all other card games, it looks complicated when you read the rules but is actually very simple when you just play it.

Monster cards can also be upgraded by paying a certain amount of points (obtained by winning battles) and then playing a minigame where you rub the artwork on the card and find a weakpoint to exploit. You’ll end up rubbing, poking and pinching your card to raise a bar and, if you fill it, you’ll upgrade the card to its next form. And if you do it well enough, you might also get the extreme rub mode where you rub the front and back touchpads to fill the bar up extra quickly, all the while being “serenaded” by the voice of the monster sounding aroused. Unsurprisingly, this is what most western publications has latched onto as being inappropriate and started waving the sexism banners and generally saying they’re outraged. Personally, I don’t care. Call me insensitive but I’m just tired of everyone trying to point out that everything is sexist. It’s good to raise awareness of problems within the male dominated games industry but now, it’s just turning into noise. I have a different problem with it, which I’ll get into later.

The game itself is wrapped around a simple but serviceable story involving a quest to save your friend from some evil power which has possessed her. A staple story from old school RPGs. It’s not going to win awards but it does the job and the characters are likeable enough to encourage you to keep going.

That’s about it for the info. How did it play?

Continue reading Mini Review: Monster Monpiece

Over the 7777

*Five Star Stories reference for those who didn’t know*

To be honest, I never thought that I would get this far but here I am, seven years in and still blogging about stuff nobody really cares about! And, as tradition demands, here’s the anniversary post for my purchases for the past year.

My volume of purchases this year has declined quite dramatically compared to last year, and yet I STILL had difficulty fitting them all onto my desk for the group shot! I blame the AGP Infinite Stratos girls!!

It was quite surprising to see that I have actually bought so few figures in the past 12 months. Part of that can be attributed to the massive purchase of mine which hit late last year (and isn’t in the pic), and part can also be attributed to my ever decreasing space to hold my purchases… Damn my hording instincts!! Then again, there really hasn’t been that much which has grabbed my attention too. Maybe I’m just getting jaded due to old age…

Anyways, on with the breakdown!

Continue reading Over the 7777