Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year (Eve)

First, some travel information for those heading to Central London to party tonight. Tube, DLR and Tramlink, night and 24 hour bus routes will run all night today. There will be free travel on journeys starting between 11:45pm and 4:30am.

No East London line today - instead take the replacement bus service. After 10:00pm, there will be no Piccadilly Line service between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge. On the Hammersmith & City line, there will be no service between Whitechapel and Barking. And finally Victoria line trains will not stop at Victoria station today as well as the whole week (pity them South East commuters).

The following stations will be closed during the certain times:

Arsenal (1900-0700)
Boston Manor (1900-0700)
Cannon Street (2100-0730)
Covent Garden (exit only from 1900 till 0300)
Embankment (2300-0200)
Kensington Olympia (2350-0700)
Leicester Square (interchange & exit only 1900-0015)
North Ealing (1900-0700)
Russell Square (2100-0700)
Sudbury Hill (1900-0700)
Temple (2300-0200)
Westminster (2100-0200)
Wood Green (1900-0700)

Buses will operate on a Saturday timetable apart from certain routes. However these bus routes will operate throughout the night: 51, 66, 71, 92, 96, 103, 113, 114, 116, 120, 121, 123, 145, 157, 161, 163, 164, 169, 174, 178, 183, 209, 210, 217, 221, 222, 229, 248, 252, 261, 262, 269, 275, 314, 319, 340, 358, 412, 422, 444, C10, E1, E7, H12, U3, U4, W3, W7.

Anyway we will be out and about tonight. Hope to bump into some of you.

Finally, Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What the hell...

Wow. The new rich mainstream and media friendly Nintendo is one stingy one worthy of Yamauchi's blessings... You would think with all the cash they are pulling in they can at least spare us 50 Wii points worth, but no. They probably sneaked in this new downgraded VIP:24 points policy when they forced us to agree to the privacy agreement some months ago...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Final Fantasy IV DS remake impressions

I had the chance to play an import copy of Final Fantasy IV remake whilst everyone was off away in London burdening their credit cards further. Played for 2-3 hours before turning it off just after I saved Rosa. I will wait for the localised version and I suggest everyone else to do so too. Here are my impressions from my limited play through:
  • Game is on top screen.
  • Didn't like the new logo. Seriously prefer Kain.
  • Dungeon maps has percentage value, like in Star Ocean 3. Getting 100% will produce bonus goods.
  • Battle frame rates are lower than FF III DS due to increased amount of characters on screen. Polygon counts are lowered because of this.
  • You can't zoom in the camera like in FF III DS.
  • Fixed side perspective for battle with nice pre-rendered background.
  • Intro FMV is encoded in a much lower bitrate with huge macro blocks so visible. I don't care for them so it isn't a huge loss. Might as well scrap it from the Westernised version and use the extra space for better textures or increased sound quality.
  • Cut scenes are rendered in real time using polygonal models and are very nice.
  • Speaking of cut scenes, these are very well directed. On par with Final Fantasy XII. This isn't surprising as the storyboard cut scenes were done by Yoshinori Kanada, key animator in such fine anime films like Mononoke-Hime and Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind.
  • Voice acting is superb though are restricted to 'important scenes'.
  • There is an Auto-battle mode with one gambit(?).
  • Difficulty seems higher than the last version I played (FF IV Advance), no doubt compounded by my lack of Japanese reading skills handicap as well as increased enemy stats.
  • Enemies are far more aggressive, picking on low-level Rydia. Could this really be a remake of the fabled original Super Famicom version (none EasyType)?
  • Loading time of 2-3 seconds FTL.
  • Rydia doesn't start with level 1. Instead she joins in with a calculated level based on Cecil's. She was level 7 on mine with some white and black magic and two summons (Chocobo and Pochika).
  • I have no idea what Pochika is or does, but it costs a bucket load of MPs to summon and so far isn't terribly useful. It looks like a Kodama from Mononoke-Hime.
  • The soundtrack seems to have been re-arranged. The Red Wings theme is majestic.
  • The original generic towns from previous versions are replaced with themed towns. Desert town Kaipo for example has middle-eastern architecture.
  • Rosa is hot.
  • Kain looks like Batman. And sounds like Batman too.
  • Boss fights are harder. Expect plenty of grinding. >.<
  • The game has three save slots and one quick save slot for quick gaming in the bus.
  • Thought bubbles materialised above a character's head when accessing the menu. If only I understood what they are...
  • You can change your avatar. So I use Rydia instead of Cecil, at least until I got Rosa.
  • There is a new Decant Ability System where party members can use an ability from previous party members who has left, but I have no idea yet how.
  • Like FF III DS, touch screen controls are *optional*. A huge plus in my books as I still prefer face buttons. Learn from that Nintendo.
  • Graphics aren't that amazing with minimal polygons, but there are subtle improvements such as shadows on character's body during cut scenes and better quality textures.
  • Facial expressions are amazing. Eyes blink, mouth moves etc.
  • Cecil still sleeps with his armour and helmet on...
And finally:
  • The dancers strips into bikinis and are more provocative here. Huzzah!
I do hope that some sort of code optimisation will be done to speed up the game, because right now I find the loading screens are annoying. I also happen to enjoy the voice acting but have a deep feeling that Square-Enix will replace them with English voices. Anyway as far as localisation is concerned, hurry up S-E. The increased in difficulty is a huge plus in my books and this alone makes this remake the definitive version of the game. No doubt plenty of reviewers will be complaining about the difficulty, though not me as I love it. Seems that reviewers are getting soft with modern RPG titles that holds your hands throughout the game (glares at Final Fantasy X).

Anyway sucks that I have to leave the game and return it to its original owner. But giant Mechs in S-E's tactical-RPG title Front Mission 1st should keep me occupied for now.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy holidays

Christmas card from CD Projekt RED STUDIO, the developer behind The Witcher

Will be spending the season watching reruns of Takeshi's Castle on the newly discovered Virgin1 channel (always have to remind myself to rescan Freeview every once in a while), getting drunk with SingStar and finishing a couple of PS2 back catalogues. All these while putting on some weight.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007: Top TV/Cinema ads

Via Adrian, tellyAds has compiled a top 20 list of TV ads featured on telly this year. WTF is that Cadbury monkey doing there on the top? This list really needs more surreality so I present MY list of wonderful 2007 TV/Cinema ads. Besides this blog needs more end of year lists, plus something to court the raving mad fanboys over here like the last time.

1. 'Playdoh' for Sony Bravia by Fallon London
Just brilliant. Nothing like the previous Bravia ads 'Paint' and 'Balls', but Playdoh is equally as memorable and even more adorable. You just want to watch it again and again as hundreds of bunnies invade New York. And no, it isn't a rip-off of Kozyndan and this coming from an admirer. A 'making-of' video is available here.

2. 'Text Your Head Off' for T-Mobile Top-Up Friday by Saatchi and Saatchi
Despite seeing this for like a thousandth time on TV it always catch my attention with its unique tune (The Whister by Claude VonStroke) and a bunch of headless goons walking around texting. It is simple and probably doesn't cost a lot to make.

3. 'Music Pieces' for Sony Walkman by Fallon / Academy
The first ever 'monophonic' ad (whatever), the ad features a group of 128 musicians with varying forms of instruments playing one note each to build up and achieve a catchy melody. I showed this to Jennifer, a skilled pianist, and she found it amazing and immediately quipped "I want to buy that now", in reference to Sony's amazing NWZA series Walkman. A making off video is available here. The ad is directed by music video director Nick Gordon.

4. 'Shadows' for John Lewis by Lowe
When we first saw this ad, Jennifer quipped that 'this is John Lewis'. I also thought it was John Lewis but didn't want to believe it because I hardly see any John Lewis ad on TV, so I guessed it was for uhm... Argos, except that I doubt that they have the skills to create an ad that didn't suck. She was right after all and watching it again I can see why. A classy ad for classy people who shops at a classy department store.

5. 'Premium Lager Lobster' for Heineken by Red Brick Road
A man feels guilty to see a lobster killed at a restaurant imagines his naked wife having an affair with the crustacean in a bath. He eventually flipped and we see the lobster getting thrown into hot boiling water. He smirks on while his wife looks truly disappointed. Bloody hilarious, even if it is a bit crass.

6. 'The Entertainment' for Sony PlayStation 3 by TBWA
This surreal ad features a magician changing an ugly mutt into a well groomed poodle, two dancers and a plasticky man dodging bullets. I know some fanboys loathe it, but then again they are fanboys (they loathe everything). This ad is primarily targeted at none-gamers arty type and I believe it works to expand the brand whether negatively or positively. It is one of the few ads that I will watch if I catch it while channel surfing. It beats watching generic shooters ads by Microsoft and Nicole Kidman suicide ads.

7. 'Time to Dance' for Dolce & Gabbana Jewels
The first three quarter of the ad is very generic with a beautiful sexy female and handsome male in tacky D&G haute coulture wares rushing to meet each other, before it is revealed that the girl is meeting another female and the guy with another man. They make out. It is very homoerotic, in a subtle and classy way. The fact that this will rile up any homophobes happening to be watching TV when the ad plays just makes me enjoy the ad even more. There are other D&G ads with the same message here and here, but I don't remember ever seeing them on TV.

TV show ad:
Okay this isn't strictly an advert but man was E4's cross channel promo for a repeat of Entrapment fucking funny. With Peter Dickson's voice over providing some of the most brilliant dry humour I can think off. I can't find a video of it online but from what I remember Peter Dickson's made various digs at Sean Connery's old age and Catherine Zeta-Jones' penchant for old males.

Worst ad:
Apple's patronising Iphone ads which tends to ask how did we managed to survive all our lives without doing stuffs like surfing the web, watching videos and listening to music on our phones. Well d'uh, we have been doing that for years! On our phones! Just because your ridiculously priced 'gadget' can do that now doesn't we haven't been enjoying e-mails, web, videos and music on our phones for years now. And we have copy and paste, MMS and native apps.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Update: January Sale


Micro Anvika's has a sale flyer for download at their site. Pretty crappy sale I must add, though it isn't surprising as they horribly overprice their products. Still their shop down in Selfridges is good place to visit tomorrow to gawk at gadgets, just don't buy there.


Sales at GAME and Gamestation is now on. I did remember seeing Assassin's Creed for £30 and God of War II for £25 at GameStation. At GAME: Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3) is now £20 and Eye of Judgement (with camera bundle) for a very cheap £35. Their online offers seems to be different to the sale at their brick and mortar store.

Plenty of parents were still out shopping for presents this noon. DS Lites and Wii are as ever still popular, but I can imagine plenty of disappointment tomorrow as I noticed shovelwares like Bratz and "the game where you can pet things" seems to have a high attach rate with those consoles. Another game that seems popular is SingStar, which is awesome news. Apologies to the many insecure gamers out there but SingStar is a great party series and deserves the title of best none game/party game, yes, even more so than Brain Age or Monkey Ball.

The January Sale has begun. Online at least.

First up Amazon UK. Remember free delivery on orders above £15.

Video Games:
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2) £18 <- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Bioshock (PC) £10
Bioshock (360) £25
Gunpey (DS) £9
Gitaroo Man (PS2) £10
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC) £10
The Witcher (PC) £18 <- RECOMMENDED
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) £28
Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (DS) £20

Creative ZEN 8GB £100
Sony NWZA816B 4GB £77
Sandisk Sansa E260 Live Lounge 4GB £60
Sandisk Cruzer Micro U3 4GB £15 <- VALUE FOR MONEY
Casio EX-Z75 7.2 Megapixel with 3x optical zoom digicam £80
Canon IXUS 950 IS 8 Megapixel with 4x optical zoom digicam £170
Freecom 250GB 2.5" ToughDrive external USB hardrive £100

Battlestar Galactica: Complete Season 1-3 boxset £40 <- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The West Wing: Complete Season 1-7 boxset £90

Now,'s January sale with free delivery.

Video Games:
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii) £28 <- RECOMMENDED
Lumines II (PSP) £10
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (PSP) £10 <- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP) £10
Final Fantasy XII (Platinum - PS2) £10 <- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Rogue Galaxy (PS2) £15
Dragon Quest VIII (Platinum - PS2) £10 <- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3) £18
Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter 2 (PS3) £18
Call of Duty 4 Limited Editon (360) £35

Six Feet Under season 3, 4 and 5 boxset for £25 each
Six Feet Under season 1 and 2 boxset for £18 each
Nokia 6300 Vodafone Pre-Pay £70 <- GOOD VALUE

Go ahead, spend your money. Forget about the pending economy doom and gloom.

2007: The Rise of Video Games

With EDGE, AP et. al. publishing their games award, this tiny blogger reminisce on his personal experience with video games in the year 2007, starting with what he thinks should be game of the year. Minimal next-gen games here as he doesn't own a PS3 because it is too expensive and 360 because he fears 3ROD (and the box is ugly). PC games are rare too as the gaming desktop is now badly ageing (single core FTL) barely capable of running many new games - at all. Also because he resides in a PAL region he gets to play 2006 titles can rate them as 2007 titles. A list resides here if you are keen to skip ahead of this sorry excuse of an essay, whose mindless rambling might numb you.

The first couple of 2007 has been what I termed the 'Final Fantasy' months as I slaved through replays of Final Fantasy IV, V and VI in their Gameboy Advance iterations. Then came the time when Square-Enix unleashed the PAL version of Final Fantasy XII on us, which after a second play through I can honestly say without a doubt that this is my favourite Final Fantasy game of all time. It had everything that the six feet under (?) Matsuna could have given us - a sense of grand scale plot, freedom and no teeny whiny melodramatic characters. After this going back to playing Final Fantasy X made it look archaic and highlights the obvious problems with the game for what it was - on-rails RPG, forgettable characters, horrible voice acting, and a cheesy storyline.

After completing Final Fantasy XII I immediately thought that as far as PAL regions are concern, XII has technically sealed my book as game of the year. But then Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria dropped into my lap. I am a huge fan of the first Valkyrie Profile game (which I had the chance to replay on the PSP), but this tri-Ace sequel simply outdoes it. Like Final Fantasy XII, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria eschews old school gameplay mechanics for a real time battle system. However unlike XII, it isn't revolutionary as these things has been done before in the PS1 title. But rather than reinventing the wheel, tri-Ace simply polish the gameplay to perfection. Silmeria is like Lenneth but in shiny new clothes, new storyline and a much more polished battle system.

On other fronts, The Console That Just Refuses To Die continues to impress throughout the year. We had God of War II, the excellent follow up to one of the most finest action games of all time. Euro gamers were lucky to receive two Shin Megami Tensei games, the closure to the Digital Devil Saga series and action RPG Devil Summoner. Rogue Galaxy, Level-5's spiritual successor to Dark Cloud 2 was pretty good despite the mediocre storyline and generic dungeon designs. And we had two games by the studio that crafted Viewtiful Joe and the producer who created Resident Evil - Okami and God Hand, both of which sold terribly but received wide critical praise.

In a year where hype meant more than anything and games like Halo 3 courting mainstream press attention that they do not deserve; Okami despite the numerous awards and positive buzz by the gaming press, was simply ignored by the mass majority of gamers. It is the sort of game that does not deserved to be ported to the Wii to succeed. Capcom eventually drop the axe on the studio (Clover) behind these classics, diverting their development cash to such mediocre titles like Lost Planet and cancelling projects.

On the portable side I only played one PSP game which was the previously mentioned Valkyrie Profile port. Sadly the port was just as awesome that the PSP Slim & Lite is now on my list of to get console. The DS on the other hand remained my second most played console after the PlayStation 2. Unfortunately it has been an average year for the DS compared to 2006. Hotel Dusk is currently receiving a huge push on UK telly by Fern and Philip, but back in January the arrogant protagonist and linear gameplay proved annoying enough that despite finishing the game the story was so forgettable I swore I was reading one of Dan Brown's book. I even blame it for destroying my import Enamel Navy DS Lite. The situation did not improve as Rare's port of a N64 game Diddy Kong Racing arrived in its DS form. It was pure and utter shit and easily the worst investment a gamer can ever invest in.

The quality of DS games eventually improved. The new Pokemon arrived and succeeds, proving that you do not need to shoehorn 'features' into a game to sell it well. Even a port of a GBA game Gyakuten Saiban 3 arrives intact with no crazy departures from the core gameplay. Coupled with an amazing storyline and a cast of likeable characters, Phoenix Wright's last outing was the best in the trilogy and a prove that if anything the point and touch genre didn't die with when Guybrush Threepwood went AWOL.

That was unlike the new Zelda game that despite being developed by an internal Nintendo EAD studio, disappoints greatly with its lack of puzzles, forced functions and repetitive gameplay, stamped with a huge 'Made for Touch Generations' on Link's forehead. December was a great month for DS games as Final Fantasy XII's sequel Revenant Wings impress with its unique RPG take on the RTS genre. Meanwhile Kuju's Geometry Wars: Galaxies became my second most addictive game on the platform just after Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (which is criminally still missing from PAL regions).

It would not be a video game year without some controversial shit storm. First was anti gaming rag The Daily Mail (the very same paper that described the Ipswich murder victims as "disgusting, drug-addled street whores" and their deaths as "no great loss") whose sister publication the Mail on Sunday printed a picture of a God of War II launch party where a decapitated goat was on hands to entertain the gaming press. The uproar caused Future Press to recall OPM where the uncensored picture was originally printed. Not all book stores heeded the request as a visit to Borders a week later made me a proud owner of what could eventually be a collector's item - as well as a 'This is Living' t-shirt which immediately found usefulness as a bathroom rag.

But this was nothing compared to the BBC's handling into the Manchester Cathedral versus Sony case in regards to Insomniac's Resistance: Fall of Man PS3 title. I still remember the day the 'news' broke out as it was the leading news on BBC News website for much of the day. To this day the many factually incorrect details regarding the game remains, a disappointment to the credibility of the BBC who are usually well known to be pretty thorough when it comes to accuracy. For example the fact that the architecture design belongs to the public domain was not reported. Then we have the banning of Manhunt 2. Readers will know that I came out against the ban but a part of me right now believes that it was right decision for the BBFC to ban it. You see while I am still against censorship, I find Rockstar's lack of talent in producing good games mind boggling. Instead it courts controversial by making abysmal games that revolves around violence just for the sake of it, and hopes it sells to minors who masturbates to blood. Not cool.

Recently a very minor uproar hit the gaming community when a Gamespot editor was allegedly fired because his review of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men did not conform with a publisher's wishes. The editor in question is Jeff Gerstmann, most famously flogged by Nintendo fanboys for giving The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess a positive review! The fact that the same video game fans are now supporting him is not without irony. Fact is nothing has been proven that links his 'firing' with Eidos, just dubious claims by various hypocritical gaming blogs, whose lack of editorial transparency and journalistic ethics are probably not that much better than CNet's. Even if such allegations are true there is no doubt that such a practice would continue. There is nothing a duffel bag with goodies worth $800 can't do to sway opinion.

But the year 2007 should be remembered as the acceptance of our beloved hobby by the mainstream, no thanks to Nintendo's Wii and the strong sales of the DS as well as Sony and Microsoft's effort to market their consoles as living room entertainment hubs. The Wii has been a hot commodity this year with everyone from kiddie gamers to OAPs clamouring for one at GAME. Lapsed gamers and people with no previous gaming background are finally buying a gaming console. The bad news here is that success tends to attract the unattractive and it isn't any different to the Wii with plenty of games released on it being *shit*.

The Wii has attracted shovelware like never before with PS2/PSP ports and games with graphics worse than its predecessors the GameCube and sometimes the ten year old N64. There are occasional gems like Super Mario Galaxy, who returns the king of platforming title to Kyoto's most famous plumber; as well as the brilliant but short on-rails shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. What pisses me off is instead of buying these, these supposed new gamers are instead investing in mediocre titles like Sega's Sonic and Mario at the Olympics, Boogie or High School Musical.

So what will 2008 bring us? Honestly, plenty. On The Console That Just Refuses To Die, KOEI/Atlus will be bringing us dating simulator/RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, which if the die hards on GAF and Associated Press (!!) is to be believed - is a rock solid RPG. Then Square-Enix will be publishing Vanillaware's Odin Sphere, whose excellent RTS Grim Grimoire PS2 title was a gem find. On the DS we will have such titles as Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Final Fantasy IV, Gyakuten Saiban 4 and hopefully Dragon Quest IV. Not a solid line-up unless Level-5 gets Dragon Quest IX out, in which case it would be the end of the world.

There is only one title on the Wii that so far interest me and that is Suda 51's No More Heroes while the deluge of quick development titles like Wii Fit and Wii Chess (!) should keep the none-gamers happy with their toy. The PS3 seems to be the console that has the most titles that currently ticks my skin but the price is still a barrier of entry into this fine dining club where such fine games like Disgaea 3, Knight White Story, Little Big Planet, Echochrome and Final Fantasy XIII would be served next year. If Sony would just cut the price to below £250 then 2008 may be the year I will be playing Metal Gear Solid 4.

2007: Video Games "The List"

  1. Final Fantasy XII (review)
  2. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (review)
  3. Okami (review)
  4. God of War II
  5. Super Mario Galaxy (review)
  6. Half-Life 2: Portal
  7. Sam & Max: season one
  8. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (impressions)
  9. God Hand (review)
  10. The Witcher
  11. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (review)
  12. Final Fantasy XII: The Revenant Wings (review)
  13. Gyakuten Saiban 3 (review)
  14. Geometry Wars: Galaxies (review)
  15. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2
  16. Final Fantasy VI Advance (review)
  17. Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (review)
  18. Rogue Galaxy (review)
  19. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (review)
  20. Grim Grimoire (review)
  21. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (review)
  22. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
PlayStation 2: Final Fantasy XII
PSP: Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (review)
Nintendo Wii: Super Mario Galaxy
Nintendo DS: Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
GameCube: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (released in 2006, but played in 07)
GBA: Final Fantasy VI Advance
PC: Half-Life 2: The Orange Box

Action: God of War II
FPS: Half-Life 2: The Orange Box
Adventure: Gyakuten Saiban 3
JRPG: Final Fantasy XII
Old School RPG: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2
Western RPG: The Witcher
Tactical RPG: Luminous Arc
RTS: Supreme Commander
Multiplayer: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Rhythm: Osu Tatakae Ouendan 2
Platformer: Super Mario Galaxy
Party: SingStar series
Sports: Wii Sports

Still don't get it: Guitar Hero series
Disappointing game of the year: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Worse game of the year: Diddy Kong Racing
Disappointment of the year: Nintendo Wii

Best game we keep rebuying: Pokemon Diamond & Pearl
Best game no one played: Okami
Best game no one played part two: God Hand
Most addictive game of the year: Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Best game I haven't played (yet): Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Best ad: 'The Entertainment' for Sony
Best console control scheme: Resident Evil: Wii edition
Worst ad(s): Nintendo's celebrity (i.e. none-gamers) endorsements particularly Ian Wright and Fern & Philip

Heartbreak: Capcom axing Clover Studios
Meltdown: Gamespot/Eidos

Villain of the year: Millions of space aliens
Hero of the year: Phoenix Wright from Gyakuten Saiban

Graphics: Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Visual style: Everyday Shooter
Architecture style: Final Fantasy XII
Character art design: Kazuma Kaneko for Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs the Soulless
Music: Hitoshi Sakimoto for Final Fantasy XII

More GOTY lists around the web (to be updated daily here until I grow bored):

Richard gives Crackdown and Super Mario Galaxy the thumbs up as well as giving conclusive evidence that the media's adoration for Halo 3 was half-baked.

Associated Press just created some enemies within the Nintendo fanboy community by awarding Ratchet & Clank Future a higher spot to Super Mario Galaxy. Which although I never played I see can where they are getting at. The R&C series always had that one thing that Mario lacked - riot fun. The fact that they even awarded a niche Shin Megami Tensei game into the top 10 gives meant that AP just gained massive kudos point from me when compared to specialised gaming press. And they didn't buy into the hype that was Halo 3. :)

The Guardian Gamesblog awards Warhawk the title of PS3 GOTY, which to be honest sounds about fine. I have witness the multiplayer awesomeness that it does bring to the living room, especially one equipped with a 37" LCD, so I have qualms about it. On the other hand they believe that GTA IV is the most promising game of 2008...

The New York Times gives Super Mario Galaxy a shaft and Ninty fanboys everywhere flips. To be fair the NYT's reasoning is quite reasonable. SMG without the gloss and waggle, is the same game we played ten years ago, like most Nintendo games. There are improvements no doubt, to graphics and gameplay but sometimes people just want something different.

GameSpy believes that God of War II deserves the title of GOTY for the PS2 and so does their readers. Honestly, if you remove all the 2006 late PAL arrivals you will also notice that God of War II would have been top of my GOTY list too. Their overall GOTY will be announced later.

There is no official Slashdot GOTY list but names like Portal (Half-Life 2: Orange Box), Super Mario Galaxy and Mass Effect gets the nod by some of the contributors.

Pocket Gamer lists Lifesigns as one of the worst DS games this year. While I won't argue that it is a magnificent game, the fact that they claimed that it is a rip-off of Trauma Center immediately invalidates the list. Shoddy journalism.

Eurogamer's official top 50 list is available now. Their top 10 list is very predictable. Phantom Hourglass at five. LMAO. Good decision not giving Mario Galaxy and Halo 3 top spot though.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manga Review: Gunsmith Cats: Revised Edition

Gunsmith Cats was originally published by Dark Horse comic in nine separate volumes. It was printed on quality paper and for most part was a very well received series. The only drawback was Dark Horse policy of flipping the art to conform with western's expectation of left-to-right reading. Recently they have decided to re-issue the series to coincide with the recent release of Kenichi Sonoda's Gunsmith Cats: Burst, this time as an omnibus over four volumes. Crucially it is the first Dark Horse version to retain the original Japanese right-to-left format. This review pertains to the first volume of which contains the first 2 1/2 tankoban of the original print.

Created by Kenichi Sonoda in 1991, Gunsmith Cats has since spawned several anime episodes and is considered a huge success and a sequel series (Burst). Gunsmith Cats consists of several storyline often told over a span of several volumes. The manga's title is based on the gunshop owned and run by two bounty hunters - 18 year old Rally and her 'business partner', the 17-year old bomb specialist Minnie May. Rally, whose penchant for classic cars is matched by her skills in firearms is most often thought to be the main protagonist of the series. May, whose interest includes all things explosive as well as sleeping around, I have always thought as Rally's kiddie sidekick though her storyline does eventually develops.

The thickness of the volume one is a whooping 3.8cm over a whooping 464 pages (not including bonus interviews and other stuff). That is thick and at first I was sceptical with the idea of having such a large volume. Fortunately the binding quality seems to be of the highest standard and I did not witness any pages falling off, yet. On a truly negative side, all the detail gained from the right-to-left format is immediately countered by the fact that the revised edition is shipped in a smaller format! Measuring 18.3 x 13.2 cm, the book is now in DVD size packaging format, just slightly larger than most paperbacks. This is in contrast to the usual Dark Horse manga size of 20.6 x 14.8 cm (the same size used for the new edition Ghost in the Shell), in which the old version was based on.

Truly appalling however is the decision by the publisher to print on lower quality paper. Unlike the magazine quality glossy white paper with high contrast ink you get in the original Dark Horse edition, the paper used here is equivalent to papers used on normal budget manga releases often favoured by TOKYOPOP and Viz Media. This isn't a huge problem considering the price and weight, but when compared to the original release and the quality usually associated with Dark Horse publications, it can be disappointing. As far as quality is concern the new revised edition compared to the old editions is one step forwards (non-flipped) but two steps backwards (smaller size and low quality paper). Fan service, like in the original version, are not censored so at least be thankful of that. Sound effects are also unedited.

So is this the definitive version of the manga series? Maybe - especially if you are truly concerned over the flipped images on the original Dark Horse versions. To me I never really thought of it as a huge problem and even today continue to enjoy reading the manga in its flipped format. Maybe I am just not as anal about it as other people and considering that the original version was printed on a larger format as well as better paper, I believe I have the better collection. But even then the revised edition should be considered a bargain as you will be able to enjoy the whole nine volumes for probably less than half it would be if purchasing the original nine volumes. Especially if you have yet to read Gunsmith Cats, in which case I wholeheartedly recommend the new revised edition (the old edition is out of print for years now).

Now if only Dark Horse would re-release the original edition in its large format, quality paper and unflip it then we wouldn't have this problem. Until then each version has their own drawbacks so decide on what you prefer - none-flipped or quality.

UK manga fans can order the first volume of Gunsmith Cats: Revised Edition here. Americans as usual are more accustomed to benefit from a better deal here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army mini-review

While Shin Megami fans in PAL region awaits patiently for Atlus and Koei to complete the PAL conversion of Persona 3, we will have at least one other game in their collection to kill time. Here is a round down on what to expect from Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army (hence forthwith be referred as Devil Summoner 3) the game with the longest title in PS2 history, also the quirkiest SMT game in recent history. Originally released back in April/May the title has taken some time to be hunted down, filtered into my collection, misplaced while moving, finding its way back into my collection and then finally getting played.

Devil Summoner 3 is a unique addition to the Megaten series as it is based in past: 1920s Japan during the fictional 20th year of the Taishō era in Edo (Tokyo) rather than the usual present or post-apocalyptic world. You play as Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th Devil Summoner from the Kuzunoha clan, whose job includes being a 17 year old student and more importantly works as an assistant detective at an occult agency known as Narumi Detective Agency, whose sole task involves investigating paranormal activities and inducing in Pokémon-like demon luring. The hero even has a talking sidekick cat. The game is divided into 12 episodes with each lasting 2-3 hours. As the title implies, Raidou has the power to summon captured demons. Demon actions can be controlled or left alone to its own device. Demons can also be summoned during exploration and each has their own unique abilities which Raidou can use to help his investigations.

Unlike main Megami Tensei games, Devil Summoner 3's battle combat system isn't turn based - it is action based! Encounters are still random, which makes for a slight jarring combat when experiencing the transition between exploration to battle mode. During combat Raidou is placed in an enclosed small open platform where the battle begins. You can tell that this isn't a speciality of Atlus as combat isn't as fluid as most action based games like Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. Camera is your worse enemy here as the over head camera's lack of interaction can be detrimental to the enjoyment of the game. An option for third person shoulder camera would have been wise and would have made hacking and slashing a bit more enjoyable. You will have access to two types of weapons (a sword for close range and a gun) and combos can be activated. Ammos can be upgraded to include elemental bullets and demons can be cross-bred and fused to toughen them up.

The 1920s industrialisation and westernisation of Tokyo visuals style of the game is matched by yet another stylistic character design by series staple designer Kazuma Kaneko. The graphics however isn't as impressive and certainly won't win any awards, much less nominated in them (probably if it was released on the Dreamcast). The prerendered backgrounds does serves its purpose as it allows for our hero to investigate around and interview people as in most point and click adventure games though because cameras are fixed I often find the Final Fantasy X's fixed camera style as detrimental to the gameplay. Dungeons are none-existent as random battles occurs during investigations in normal areas and backtracking and revisiting previously visited area is a must. The music style is virtually unchanged from the one you get in Nocturne (Lucifer Call) and Digital Devil Saga series, which isn't a bad thing as the roaring guitar score has always been part of the Megaten lore.

Devil Summoner 3 is perhaps the most mainstream of Megaten titles, not without irony as the title itself is pretty none-mainstream (and corny). The accessibility is mainly down to the carefree (and funny) linear plot as well as the simplified battle system which makes the game rather easy though I am not sure if the overuse of terminology will help (Atlus needs to publish a lexicon). However this should not put off fans of Megaten proper because Devil Summoner 3 is fun though hardcore jRPG fans may loathe it purely from a gameplay point of view alone. Replayability is a none-factor as it has almost none, but it does have a New Game+ mode for completists. If you love RPG and have an open mind on where games can take you then Devil Summoner 3 should be considered (if you can find it - I know most shops don't stock them, if ever).

Now Atlus, with Bloomberg (of all news organisation) announcing Persona 4, please please at least let us play Persona 3 first.


PAL shoppers can get the title here where as NTSC gamers should import from Play-Asia.

Christmas pudding

So what is the best out there? Can't be arsed to make one even if I knew how (plus I am a couple of months late). Candidate: Sainsbury's, Waitrose, M&S, Co-Op or Tesco (not if I can help it). Asda (Walmart UK edition) is too far and too unethical for me to consider anyway.

I enjoyed Waitrose last year but its a posh place for groceries.

Oh and here is a teaser from Duke Nukem Forever.

Does anyone seriously care about this vaporware anymore?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Not a review: Geometry Wars: Galaxies, an addiction

So yesterday on the train to Brighton, I booted up Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the first time. It was meant to be a quick short play while waiting for a missed train, but what a 'short' play it was. Two hours later my rather weak left arm hurts like hell and I demanded my 20th play. Exiting the station I started making my way to Kuju Brighton to demand injury compensation, except that Kuju Brighton is now called Zoe Mode and that Galaxies was actually developed by Kuju Sheffield.


To cut a long story short, no I didn't go to Sheffield. But I did let the minus one degree centigrade weather and some beer soothe the pain as I down some Thai Massaman curry from the local pub down at the Laines. And all I could think of was damn, let this social event end so I can head home and play me some more Geometry Wars (which I eventually did after being delayed at East Croydon for an hour on the way home and freezing in the cold because the National Rail monkeys forgot to turn on the heaters). Then buy a PS3 just so I can play Everyday Shooter and Super Stardust HD. But what I really needed to do is 'level-up' the stupid drone.

Yes, Geometry Wars: Galaxies has some RPG-esque gameplay mechanism, which weird as it may sound is actually brilliant. A tiny drone follows you around and is at first a pathetic little bugger. But as new galaxies are opened up with new abstract alien fighters coming after my spanner shaped starship, that drone has to be trained to defend me at all cost, or collect tiny currencies left over by dead aliens. Especially in later levels when the borders starts to shape shift into geometrically weird, uhm, shapes. Visually the game is wonderful with particles swarming the screen to great effect. Frame rate does occasionally suffer as combat gets frantic which is the biggest issue with the game.

You control your ship with the directional pad and use the stylus to shoot. It is that simple and effective and yet flawed as it keeps hurting my weak left arm. Why didn't you put an analog stick on the DS, Nintendo? Even a cheap one like on Sony's PSP would have sufficed. The soundtrack on the other hand is decent. A mixture of 90s psychedelic electro-techno dance music grace the DS tiny speaker proves how much the people of Sheffield are still stuck way in the past. But it does lend to the experience and yes, I do enjoy my rare moments with techno pop. Just make sure you have an earphone at hand as you will be wanting to play this at full volume.

Richard once quipped that the Xbox 360 is worth getting just for Geometry Wars version alone. Maybe, but golly no RROD for me please. So why not the Wii version? After all it is just like the DS, only on a bigger screen with better graphics, a leader board (who cares?) and with waggle control to boot. But why would one want to confine themselves to a stationary console when you can have a much better controlled version in your pocket to play whenever and wherever you want? Galaxies is one of the most addictive shooter to ever grace the DS and the perfect 'just one more time' game. Just ask my left arm.


Buy the DS version here (for all regions). The Wii version is only compatible with NTSC consoles.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two extended Final Fantasy XIII and Versus XIII trailers

I wasn't really looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII. Mainly because it will be directed by Motomu Toriyama of Final Fantasy X-2. But Toriyama did an excellent job on Revenant Wings. Then there is that brooding protagonist, Lightning, whose designed reminds me of another brooding Final Fantasy character. Now to me that is not a good thing, but it is still early days. But how about some facial variations for once Nomura?

Lightning demonsrates the real time battle system

Shiva morphs

Anyway the new extended trailer of XIII and Versus XIII are hot. XIII more so than Versus XIII (super moody characters FTL). I am digging the real time battle scenes of XIII, though it remains to be seen if Toshiro Tsuchida can match or surpass the Active Dimension Battle system from Final Fantasy XII. Not sure about a Shiva capable of turning her goddess (twin) self into a motorcycle though... If the final game matches the target render seen in the trailer then I have no idea how long it will be for me to be able to resist the PS3.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Six fictional female RPG characters

So here is another blog filler for December! Why six? I honestly have no clue. Probably just got too lazy to continue typing after six and I had to make time to write my review for Devil Summoner as well as other useless December fillers. But any who here is my personal list of the top six fictional female characters in role playing video games.

Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca
Appearances: Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
Until her boy husband gets himself killed in battle, Ashe was the princess of Dalmasca. Thought dead she founded an underground resistance group aimed at liberating her nation from the Archadian empire. At first seeking revenge, she ultimately rejected vengeance and the lure of power of the Nethicite and instead aligned herself with Larsa, the younger brother of the leader of the Archadian empire to seek peace between the warring nations of Ivalice. Personally I find Ashe, not only the most beautiful of all fictional female characters, but also the most powerful. Why else did I make her the party leader of my all-female main party? She wields a powerful sword, is agile, a good healer and her stats are well rounded. Basically a good all rounder and makes for a good tank mage hybrid. The fact that she has the miniest of all mini skirts makes her even more adorable, but beyond that never once did the developers attempted to sexualised her. All hail Queen Ashe.

Appearances: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Etna is a super skinny flat chested 1400 year old cute demon class female. She becomes immediately likeable after the first scene where we are treated with her gross method of waking up the slumbering prince of darkness, Laharl. Untrustworthy, Etna is a devious vassal who reveres the late king and her schemes brings much humour to the game. In one of the endings she murders Laharl and snatch the seat to become the new overlord or the Netherworld. Because there are various endings this may not be true for some, but I like to think of this as canonical. The beauty queen also leads the Prinny squad, an army of penguins with bat like wings, whose jobs includes being used as suicide bombers and slaves. A bonus mode based on what if Etna killed Laharl instead of waking him scenario is present in the PSP port of Disgaea, so make sure you buy Afternoon of Darkness.

Hrist Valkyrie
Appearances: Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

One of the three Valkyries chooser of the slain, Hrist is the elder sister of Lenneth and Silmeria. She isn't a playable character in both games, but she is ruthless and therefore memorable. Her hatred for humans is matched by her demented actions. Loyal to Odin, part of her deeds includes destroying Dipan at Midgard after the events of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria and before Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. Her schemes in trapping the fugitive Silmeria is downright cunning. Hrist also happens to appear in both games as a boss, and while not the strongest her appearances are both important to the mythology and storyline. It would be interesting if tri-Ace and Square Enix would eventually develop a third Valkyrie Profile game which allows us to play as the most mysterious of the goddess of fate.

Jessica Albert
Appearances: Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King
She may not be the best female character from the Dragon Quest series, but Jessica certainly is the most memorable. Part of this is no doubt due to the 3D nature of the game which allows more creative freedom for character development. While short tempered and have a lot of deal with after the death of her brother, Jessica proves very valuable to core gameplay and plot of Dragon Quest VIII, especially when she was briefly possessed. She is primarily a sorcerer although her whip does come in handy. Players can also change the clothings which includes 'Bunny's Costume' and 'Dangerous Bustier'. Her charm attack such as 'Puff Puff' and 'Hip Drop' also works well in lightening the mood as well as proving that the 360 is not the only console that can uhm, render jiggles.

Appearances: Final Fantasy IV
As a child Rydia was made an orphaned when Kain and Cecil of Baron gallivanted around and destroyed her village Mist and killed her mother (indirectly). Even at such a young age she has already shown potential by summoning Titan in anger, causing an earthquake that separates Cecil and Kain. She eventually agrees to join a repented Cecil to fight Baron. For a child she has the maturity of an adult as seen in her conversation with a wimpy Gilbert, the spoony bard. However it wasn't long until she was separated from the party when the group was attacked by Leviathan. Fortunately for her she was taken in to the land of summons where due to the different in time flow she aged differently, eventually re-emerging as a healthy, happy and hot adult Rydia. Though she lost her abilities to conjure white magic she has learnt to become the greatest summoner in Final Fantasy lore. The new render of her for Final Fantasy IV DS is hawt!

Princess Nadia
Appearances: Chrono Trigger
Marle is a tomboy princess of the Kingdom of Guardia, whose bored life was the catalyst for the event surrounding Chrono Trigger when she uses Lucca's teleporting machine and accidentally herself back in time to 600 A.D., creating a ripple in the space time continuum. Marle is pretty independent and strong for a princess as proven by her weapon of choice: the crossbow (yeah!). In one of the many alternate ending she eventually marries Chrono, the hero and main protagonist of the game. I like her because her character reminds me so much of Bulma (Dragon Ball), whose penchant for adventure is similar to that of Marle's. Obviously Marle is far more independent than the technology reliant and whiny Bulma.

So which female (or male) RPG characters rock your boat? Please no Tifa or Aerith.

No More Heroes

No More Heroes is my most anticipated, nay, my only anticipated Wii game for 2008. News that Europe/PAL region will be receiving a so-called "censored" version doesn't really bother me much, unlike the many prepubescent 12-year old gamers whose knee jerk reactions embarrass me. It is already a heavily stylized game anyway, so who is going to be bothered about some red blood or some headless corpse? Certainly not me. I don't need morbid curiosity to stir me up to actually play a game, watch a film or read a book. As long as it plays better than the turd that was Manhunt, then stop whining and play the damn game. People who rejects this game purely because it does not feature decapitation or blood are demented and needs professional help.

Here is a wallpaper (via GAF) for you to enjoy. Do it Travis style.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings review

Final Fantasy XII was one of the last blockbuster title to grace the PlayStation 2 and was easily one of the greatest Japanese RPG titles on the still ticking console. It was also ground breaking from a technical point of view where Square Enix introduced their new version of menu based combat system. Some say (me included) that it was the right evolution move that menu based RPG combat system should go, while some purists downright hate it. Unfortunately despite clocking in 70 hours for the main campaign, the plot-driven story was often deemed too grand as not enough attention was paid to character development. It was no surprised that while Vaan was initially thought to be the 'leading man' of the game, it was eventually made clear that his participation in the game is merely an observer of sorts. His story is sort of shelved early on in favour of plot development.

The sequel Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings aims to rectify some of this 'mistakes'. Released on the Nintendo DS platform, the game is part of the so called 'Ivalice Alliance' umbrella series. The common theme shared among the titles under the series are the games are based in Ivalice, the fictional world first appeared in the original Final Fantasy Tactics. The series was created to expand on the mythology of Ivalice with both old and new titles. The games includes Final Fantasy XII, the recent remake of PS1 classic Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (DS).

The game begins a year after the events of Final Fantasy XII with Vaan and Penelo now gallivanting sky pirates. After obtaining the Strahl with Balthier and Fran they encounter an airship that landed in Rabanastre. They and their band of sky pirates mates Kytes, Filo and Tomaj board it only to find themselves in Lemurés, the floating continent above Ivalice. While scavenging for treasures they meet Llyud, an Aegyl who has been defending his world from other sky pirates searching for magicites (known here as Auracite). Vaan decides to help the Aegyl and is soon joined by other well known Final Fantasy XII characters aimed at restoring peace to Ivalice. While Vaan remains the leader of sort, the plot of Revenant Wings much like Final Fantasy XII is far grander than the characters.

Plenty of previous characters from Final Fantasy XII makes an appearance including fan favourite Blathier as well as Ashe and Judge Magister Basch. Espers returns in a huge way in this title and can be summoned far more times than any other Final Fantasy titles (that I know of anyway). Character design is handled by Ryoma Ito and features a more unique super deformed child-like appearance and suits the overall visual style and the petite screen estate. Jobs are predefined and can't be changed. Penelo for example is a White Mage and Ashe's role is changed to a Time Mage bomber - which was a WTF moment as she was a sword wielding Battle Mage hybrid in the first game.

The battle system is a mixture of RTS, real time RPG and SRPG. Exploration occurs on a isometric 3D plane similar to Final Fantasy Tactics where the enemies are visible (no random battles here). To move you must select the character(s) via stylus and tap on the location you want them to move to. Tapping on an enemy will instruct the party selected to attack. Any enemies that comes close will trigger an auto-attack by members of the party. Like any RTS game 'tank rush' is one tactic that can be used but most of the time Espers (known as Yarhis) can not be summoned willingly unless an Esper Gate is captured and even then the amount of Esper summoned depends on the party's statistics.

Unlike Brownie Brown's disappointing Heroes of Mana, the SRPG elements are deeper than what most would have assumed. It includes changing the Gambit associated with each party member and using the character's various unique abilities. Gambit is used to control the party member's desired actions though these can easily be override manually, but unlike the Gambit used in Final Fantasy XII, you can only select one particular Gambit per party member. New Gambits can be obtained through reaching certain levels.

You will have the chance to strategies before each battles as the game allows you to choose from different types of Espers and five party members before the start. Each characters and Espers statistics can be viewed before hand and are divided into categories. First through the elements in which the Espers belongs to, then its combat style: melee, ranged and airborne and finally the rank levels (out of three). A limited amount of Yarhis can be summoned during a battle and capturing more summoning gates will help breach the limit as well as increasing stats.

New Espers (of which seasoned fans will recognise from previous Final Fantasy instalments) can be obtained by creating a pact with the Esper type through the Esper Pact Ring, similar to the License Board from Final Fantasy XII. Pacts can only be created by accumulating enough Auracite and trading them in. Party members can be upgraded with new weapons through purchasing or synthesizing weapons through alchemy with materials obtained through scavenging. Kinda like Dragon Quest VIII, but without the bloody annoyance of having to go through a green toad and waiting 30 minutes for a kettle bell.

Because Revenant Wings was designed from the ground up to be a portable title, the game is mission based rather than free exploration. Personally I find this great as it was nice being able to complete two or three missions per each train journey. Exploration is none existent and any dungeons featured are divided up into sub-missions. Missions range from infiltration to destroying enemy crystals and wiping out enemy leaders. It certainly makes it easier to pick up for a few minutes as the bus stop far easier to stomach. Tank rush (swarming) is an essential strategy to winning the majority of missions as the lack of real screen estate makes micro managing a torture, though at times you will find yourself applying different strategy (such as running around the map away from high level bosses).

The visuals of the game is certainly remarkable and in my opinion is the best looking DS game currently on the market. The usage of detailed 3D environments with 2D sprite characters works well. While the sprites are low-res, they are well animated to the point of recognising many signature moves by the party members including Vaan's ridiculous carefree pose. But seeing the characters animated such as Vaan throwing a punch at Balthier was satisfying as was when Penelo was helplessly slumped to the ground. Even character expressions like laughs or sadness are noticeable just from the changes a couple of pixels. Pixel art has certainly come a long way since the SNES days.

What I find impressive is that the game never stutters whenever combat gets heavy. At certain missions you can expect probably close to a hundred sprites on the battlefield each one animated independently, and even despite that I never notice the frame rate suffering. The music is good too as the soundtrack is again composed by Tactics Ogre's Hitoshi Sakimoto, so plenty of your favourite tunes from Final Fantasy XII are here. Unfortunately there are no voice acting to supplement the various dialogues and limited FMV cut-scenes.

The game isn't without its problems though. A.I. is an issue with Revenant Wings. You may find that sometimes your party members would prefer a 'shoot now think later' approach. Especially those ranged Espers who are sometimes useless in certain terrain conditions. They would occasionally fire at obstructions because the enemies are behind it rather than going around. I did mention the swarming strategy and while it is a good strategy, it doesn't always work. At times I felt detached from battles as I helplessly watch 30 Chocobos causing a traffic jam (with Basch slow as he is behind) at narrow passages, while enemies would attempt to manoeuvre around. It gets irritating because when a party member K.O. and I would like override Penelo's gambit in attempt to raise the fallen member but unable do so because I couldn't see the body! Revenant Wings is also a pretty easy game though apparently they did ramp up the difficulty over the Japanese version. But complete all the side quests and you will find yourself presented with a Level 99 boss. >_<" Overcrowding shenanigans aside I find Revenant Wings to be an appealing DS game. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings will probably not appeal to elitist jRPG gamers (of whom there are many who disowned Final Fantasy XII due to the real-time battle system and lack of tear-jerker plot), but it does for me (but I am both a fan of RTS and jRPG genres). It doesn't come close to matching the plot, gameplay mechanics and production values of Final Fantasy XII but it is fun light hearted game (like Final Fantasy X-2) with just about enough depth to be considered a very good portable game. You don't even need to know anything about Final Fantasy XII to enjoy this, as long as you are capable to understand that this is a spin-off. Despite being slightly easy it takes roughly 30-40 hours to complete the game depending on the amount of mission quests you take, which I think is decent for a DS game.

This holiday season do not pick up some other crappy non-game with your new DS Lite, instead get a proper video game. A good suggestion will be just this very title.


Import from Play-Asia