Monthly Archives: July 2013

Level-5’s short story about an attack of tokusatsu shows

attack of the friday monsters review

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale is not really a game. It has a couple game-like elements to it, such as collecting glims to craft monster trading cards and battling with friends to gain power and superiority over them, but it’s more or less a short story about being a kid in a Tokyo suburb in the 1970s when tokusatsu shows were wildly popular. These are the type of television programming where giant monsters battle against larger-than-life heroes against a bustling city skyline. Think Kamen Rider and Power Rangers mixed with kaiju monster flicks like Gamera. I’m aware of them, but they’re not my kind of go-to entertainment choice…unless they are being poked and prodded by Joel and Crow via Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Anyways, after a total of three hours, I’m happy to have played Attack of the Friday Monsters!, but I wish it had been more. You control a young boy named Sohta living in a small town in the Tokyo suburbs. Your parents send you out on a simple delivery errand, with your Mom reminding you as you go that today is Friday, which means the monsters come out. She says it quite casually, and everyone in town is fine with the fact that this happens. As you explore the town, you meet some other kids and become friends with them. They teach Sohta how to play Monster Cards, which is based around Rock, Paper, Scissors, with some additional elements to it to determine ties. When you beat someone at Monster Cards, you become their master, now able to cast a silly spell on them to cause them to fall down dramatically. It’s pretty whimsical and innocent, reminding me a bit of my one time playing…you know, I no longer remember the name of the card game. Had something to do with spells and potions.

I played through Attack of the Friday Monsters! over two nights, but one could bang it out in a single setting. However, there is no reason to rush. Take your time and bask in the sereneness of the town, listen to the cicadas, watch the train chug on by. Setting is the star here. I found the story to be pretty light-hearted and teetering on nonsensical, but never offensive. There’s a couple of real cute moments, and keeping the Japanese voiceover work is always good. Also, that opening theme song is stellar. Quests overlap in the same style that mysteries opened and resolved in the Professor Layton series, and your reward for finishing up a task is always more glims. The monster cards are pretty cool looking in terms of art design, and you can combine multiple copies to increase the strength of one card, but other than that…the minigame is probably about 60% luck and 40% skill and never stressful or demanding that you grind for stronger cards. Just give it a go, and good luck.

The game’s titular attack was also a bit of a letdown, in how it ultimately played out. Visually, it’s a lot of fun. But honestly, I was expecting more giant monster stuff throughout, and there’s really only one instance of it, and you are basically a tiny part of the play. After the credits roll, you are placed back in town, free to run around and collect more glims, as well as battle your friends with Monster Cards. I did a quick tour of every place open once more to get what I could, but did not pick up any new quests to do, and so it seems like the only way now to get more glims is to win the card minigame over and over, which, if it was more like Tetra Master, I’d be into. Oh snap. But alas, it’s nothing to write home about.

So yeah, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, a really charming and peaceful tale about being a kid and creating your own world of fun–but just that. A tale.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #23 – Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale

2013 games completed friday monsters 2470824-2b

Monsters, aliens
And kids with card games, a lost
Charming childhood

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Harle, wilt thou leave me thus?

chrono cross harle leaves the party

RPG party members–they come, and they go. Quite frequently, actually. That’s just how some tales twist, after all. Very recently, I lost Harle in Chrono Cross (sorry, uh…spoilers?), and the whole happening was quietly handled in such an undermining manner that I couldn’t believe she was no longer selectable as a part of my team, despite being there only minutes before a cutscene occurred. But I checked, and she was magically replaced in my merry band by Viper, and no one even asked me if that was okay. Grrr.

Now, to be more specific on Harle’s vanishing act, about three-fourths through the game, she asks FauxLynx a Serious™ question. I thought I picked the answer that would most please her, but she said I was lying, and the next scene is her crying on Fargo’s S.S. Zelbess, watching as the gang sets off to fight some dragon-god bosses. Starky tries to figure out what’s wrong, but Harle won’t give up the details…and then, that’s it. She’s no longer there, no longer in your party, no longer accessible. And I’m the only one that notices. I am holding out hope that she reappears down the line–don’t tell me!–maybe before the final battle, but I really liked having her in my party as a potent healer and damage-disher. She was all about zee moons.

Harle’s suddenly vanishing act reminded me a bit of when Gremio bites the flesh-eating spores bullet in Suikoden, as well as when Sephiroth decided to poke Aerith a bit too hard in Final Fantasy VII. It kind of comes out of nowhere, and suddenly you are short one constant face and voice. Worst of all…you don’t get any of your stuff back. Whatever items, armor, and elements you had equipped goes buys the farm along with its bearer. So long, multiple counts of HellBound, Gravitonne, RecoverAll. You will be missed. Not that I can’t afford to buy more, as money in Chrono Cross is and never will be an issue, but it hurts seeing your hard-earned stuff taken away.

I’m now in the home stretch, but it is a little daunting. Basically, you have to go fight six element-themed dragons to get them on your side or gain a thingy from them. If I have this right, you can fight them in just about any order you want. Think the White Dragon has to be last though. Regardless: the world(s) are your oyster(s). I took on the Water Dragon first, beating it relatively easily, but now I don’t know where I want to go next. This type of openness can be a real danger to me, as without any guidance I could just wander around on the overworld map for all eternity, basking in the game’s beautiful soundtrack. I also don’t know who I am going to replace Harle with, as Viper is just okay. Maybe Zappa or Zoah? I don’t know.

Time marches on, and I creep closer to finally completing Chrono Cross. Can’t let these dragons and their “come at me, bro, in any order” mentality deter me. I will save the world(s). I will. For Harle.

SMT IV’s Minotaur boss is one loud wake up call

SMT IV minotaur boss fight

After dying four times during the tutorial section of Shin Megami Tensei IV, I’ve succumb to the blurry darkness a bunch more since then. Probably too many times to keep counting, actually. For a few of those deaths, I revived myself by paying Charon a hefty sum of Macca; other instances saw me just reload to an old save, losing a bit of progress, but keeping me out of downward spiral of debt. I now have the option to use Play Coins to return to the land of the living, but asking for nine is a bit too steep for my shoes, especially when I need to conserve them for Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Find Mii II. So yeah, life as a Samurai is hard, which I should have expected from my earlier time with Devil Summoner Overclocked, but I didn’t realize just how fast and cruel the Press Turn system can be, despite how enjoyable it is when it operates in my favor.

It all becomes clear when you reach the Minotaur boss fight, a few levels deep in Naraku. He’s weak to ice spells like Bufu, and you can get quite a few hits in before it is his turn to attack, but once he does…well, he wipes out my team in a single sweep thanks to the Press Turn system and smirking. I’m not sure exactly if I’m doing anything wrong specifically or chuck it up to bad luck, but it’s been a roadblock for sure. I’d say I’ve taken him on maybe five or six times now, just reloading an old save instead of going into debt with Charon. Boo and grrr and I’ll get you yet, you disturbing piece of Dali-esque artwork.

Until I’m strong enough or lucky enough to beat the Minotaur, I’m grinding and doing side stuff. Like collecting gryphon tails. And downloading free items from the store. No, wait. I’m actually downloading the quests that will allow me to gain these items, but they still require work/items, like 10 or so Life Stones. Every now and then I pop into the Cathedral of Shadows to see what I can do with fusion, but that place is scary and I’m always worried that I’m going to waste a good demon unit to create a subpar one. Right now, I’m rocking…you know, I can’t remember their names specifically and don’t have my 3DS open to check. Hmm, one is the weird connected horses beast. The other looks like a boar. I’m sorry, I just don’t have space in my brain to remember what these crazy critters are called, not when that information is fighting against Game of Thrones theory details and all 108 Stars of Destiny. Also trying to save up all my App points so I can buy the “recover MP while walking” one, quickly followed by “recover HP while walking” right after it–those seem like must-haves.

I’ll be back soon, Minotaur, to try again. If you have any handy tips on how to knock him out fast, please share. I don’t want this to be a permanent roadblock.

Died four times during Shin Megami Tensei IV’s first hour

smt iv death at first boss

So, yesterday, I picked up Shin Megami Tensei IV. At first, I couldn’t find it on the shelf at my local GameStop, not realizing that SMT IV got the special Atlus love, seeing it packaged it with a nice art/strategy book and soundtrack CD, placing it in a larger-than-norm 3DS box. Regardless, I got my copy and was able to play around an hour or so last night before I passed out before I could even enjoy the absurdity that is the Feedback Booth on Antiques Roadshow. Anyways, Atlus’ new role-playing adventure is cool, but I died four times and am not even out of the training tutorial thingy yet. Looks like it’s gonna be Devil Summoner Overclocked all over again.

SMT IV begins with a booming voice telling you that your choices will not just affect yourself. Yeah, that’s obvious. We call that living. And then, suddenly, your first choice is upon you: name the protagonist. I deleted Flynn and typed in Pauly. What happens next is unclear, but has you running around a destroyed landscape speaking with some folks that say cryptic things. It’s probably a dream. When you speak to a young girl who asks you to revive her, you are transported elsewhere, to the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado. Your buddy Isshachar introduces himself and tells you a bit about the Gauntlet Rite, which allows people to become Samurai.

To cut to the chase, Pauly is successful in becoming a Samurai. Afterwards, he meets some other graduates: Walter, Jonathan, Navarre, and Isabeau. Under the stern guidance of a man ironically named Hope, we five must endure some training exercises in Naraku, the Hall of Flame. These are basically tutorial stuff, which help you learn the basics of moving around an environment, how your chit-chatty menu device Burroughs works, and various aspects of combat (press turn, recruiting, leveling up). I was able to get through the first few quests just fine, but the last one–well, I assume it is the last one–which involves finding a specific item for Hope has consequently kicked my butt four times in a row. That’s because there’s a boss guarding the item, and it’s able to wipe out Pauly and company in two turns. We’re either underpowered, it’s either overpowered, or the game is just ridiculously hard from the get-go.

Now, when you die in SMT IV, you are transported to the Underworld. The Nether Realm. The Deadlands. I dunno. It’s a place of lost souls, and a man named Charon there will offer to revive you to the point just before where you died…for a price. Basically, some of your Macca, maybe about 75%. If you don’t have enough, he’ll still revive you, but put your bill on a tab, which you’ll have to pay later. I think I saw a forum thread somewhere mentioning that you can eventually use Play Coins too. The second time I died I was taken elsewhere, since Charon was busy sucking souls or something, and offered the ability to now change the difficulty level. Two more deaths after that have just resulted in a large tab.

I’m really looking forward to more demon recruiting though, as that aspect seems completely zany and random and wonderful. That’s where the real quirk shows up so far, followed by Burroughs calling me, “Hot stuff.” Recruiting is a multiple choice guessing game, wherein you might gain a friend, make an enemy, or just cause a demon to run away. I’ve not had much luck, getting only a…you know, I don’t really know the names of these demons. One is two centaurs joined, another is a gooey zombie, and the other is some kind of creepy doll. Have not opened up the ability to fuse and stuff, but I’m sure that’ll be soon enough.

A rough start, but I’m not deterred. Tonight I will do some more grinding and running back to the barracks to rest up and heal for free before I try to take on the item-guarding boss again. Ideally, I’d like Pauly to be around level 6, as well as my team of demons. That said, I need to recruit a few more, especially one with some healing magic. Don’t know if those thrive in Naraku or not. We’ll see, SMT IV. Pray for my soul.

Mean gnomes, friendly fire, tenacious towers, extra elements, and goliath beetles

gd videogames roundup fable-3

Alas, I’m still not in a place to really write at length about the videogames I’m playing (or thinking about playing). Y’know, unless that writing is really short and in the form of a haiku. This hard swing seems to happen every summer, and it’s mostly because I’m extremely stressed to day jobbery things that I won’t ever go into publicly and working on laying out a book of my 365 BAD COMICS, but I am still Pauly, which means I am playing games whether there are words to attach to them or not because they help soothe my soul. I figured it’d be easier to give y’all a little rundown on what I’m playing as of late and how it’s going than waiting for the inevitable to never happen.

And away we go.

Fable III

Well, this is not a very good game, in all aspects of something being a game. No, sir. It’s janky and lazy and poorly paced and unclear in its directions and overly interested in telling the player silly data, and I hate the “no menu” mentality, as there is nothing wrong with menus, so long as the menus are designed properly. The dog is pointless to the point of annoying and should have been left behind; that was Fable 2‘s thing. Being the king of Albion is not as cool or special as one might assume. I’m currently right near the end-all battle, but I want to clean up all the remaining side quests (finding gnomes, silver keys, gold keys) because I am never going to play this again. I’m glad it was free, but I’m sad to see how dry and drained it is compared to the previous adventure, something I enjoyed. There are still some very pretty locales and cool beard options though.

Battlefield 3

This is a game I really do want to write more about at length, as I’m playing it for educational purposes, to figure out what it is about realistic, war-themed FPS titles that I find so uninteresting and off-putting. So far, this game has all of that–whatever it is–and then some. I’m also finding it extremely difficult to see due to how real and dark the environments are, accidentally shooting my own teammates. Thankfully, friendly fire is in play–though the game openly states such actions will not be tolerated–so I’m not ruining missions at every turn. But yeah. I’ve done ground fights, tank fights, sky fights, sniper stuff, and so on. It’s pretty boring.

Defense Grid: The Awakening

This is the first free game for us Xbox 360 players with Gold accounts. It’s an old, downloadable RTS game from a few years back, with upgradable towers. It’s slow, as slow as if I was to actually build a tower myself, but I was able to play a few levels past the tutorial stuff. Not sure if I’ll hop back into it, as it is almost the exact opposite of the only RTS game I’ve really enjoyed recently: Kingdom Rush. Oh well.

Chrono Cross

I’m now at the turning point of my sorta re-play of Chrono Cross where I’m experiencing parts I’ve never gotten to before. This is exciting. I always got to the moment in time where Serge and Lynx do the Freaky Friday and then lost interest quickly after that. Despite some hiccups, this replay has been pretty steadily chugging along, and I’m now working on beating a bunch of dragon gods into submission. I still absolutely love the music and the battle system with a passion unlike anything else. More about Chrono Cross later, I promise.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

I am loving my new daily life as mayor of Arni in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but am taking it pretty slow. In fact, I’ve only gone to the island four or five times now, and that’s the place many players hop to and from to earn big bells thanks to the special beetles they got there. Just finished expanding the museum with a second floor and gift shop, and am now working on increasingly my house to have a larger second room. That’s gonna be where I put all my Japanese furniture. Other than that, it’s the same ol’ addiction and easygoing gameplay from the previous game, and the emergent gameplay in multiplayer is a joy to watch unfold.

So that’s the handful of games I’m currently playing. Pretty exciting, I know. I’m also contemplating if I’ll pick up Shin Megami Tensei IV or not tomorrow. Hmm, we’ll see…

2013 Game Review Haiku, #22 – Mario VS. Donkey Kong

2013 games completed mario vs donkey kong

Collect the gold key
Save mini Mario toy
Give Donkey Kong his

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Mario VS. Donkey Kong VS. Paul’s puzzle skills

392991-mario_vs._donkey_kong_15

Though they’ve been locked and loaded on my Nintendo 3DS for almost two years now, I’ve still not gotten around to playing all the 10 free GBA Ambassador games awarded to us early supporters of the system. For the record, I did beat both Metroid Fusion and Yoshi’s Island. I tried my luck with Kirby and The Amazing Mirror and Wario Land 4, both of which did not hold me for very long due to their lack of direction and unfair difficulty and horrible map designs. And I remember playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for like five minutes before putting it aside, but that was long before I got to experience Fire Emblem: Awakening, and I definitely plan to start FE: TSS up again now that I (kind of) get what that franchise is all about. So that just leaves us with the following pretty much untouched titles:

  • F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Mario Kart: Super Circuit
  • Mario vs Donkey Kong
  • WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgame$

We can discount the F-Zero and Mario Kart titles as something to “play” as all those games really ask of you is to run a track for a few minutes and try to place higher than fourth, which is fine and good for a bathroom break, but nothing you have to actually sink your teeth into and really dig deep to understand the lore and plot. I know next to nothing about the WarioWare game, and I’ve heard many a praises about The Minish Cap, but I need to be in a Zelda mood for a Zelda game, and I’m just not there yet. No idea when I’ll be either. All of this lengthy intro setup is to basically say this: I played Mario VS. Donkey Kong yesterday.

It’s surprisingly good, and a bit weird. Evidently, there are a bunch of MiniMario toys, and banana-crazy Donkey Kong falls in love with the idea of collecting them all after seeing a commercial for ’em. Unfortunately, the local toy store is all sold out. Now, here is where I am confused. The game part has you playing as Mario, trying to collect various MiniMarios and then battling Donkey Kong as the boss of each thematic world. Does this mean that you are trying to save these MiniMarios from getting into DK’s paws? Or are these somehow already in DK’s possession and you are trying to steal them back? Not sure. Either way, you do this by…solving platforming-based puzzles, and I’ve completed the first two worlds so far, with the puzzles ramping up with each level. Basically, you need to get a key into a door, and from there you are transported to a sub-level, where you must then reach a MiniMario safely and collect it. You can also grab presents along the way for a bonus game where you can win extra lives.

One aspect in Mario VS. Donkey Kong that I’m really worried about is that, so far, every single level introduces a new mechanic or twist on an already revealed mechanic, which leads me to believe that the final levels are just going to be a mess of things to keep track of. Or maybe not. I dunno. It hasn’t been too difficult so far, and the only times I’ve died is from carelessness and not from misunderstanding how to solve the puzzle. Mario does not control like he does in his platforming counterparts; here he is much slower and only able to jump so far, often relying on an odd, handstand-to-double jump trick to get to normally unreachable places. Also, while in this handstand, he doesn’t take damage from falling object, because plumber boots are made of indestructible material.

It’s a really quirky puzzle game that I’m interested in seeing where it goes. I just hope my skills are up to the later challenges. Otherwise, Mario will be falling over and crying “Mama-mia!” more than he cares to.