Bravely Default is widely considered to be a follow-up to Square Enix’s “Four Heroes of Light”, released on the DS a few years ago, and is meant to be a return to the more traditional style RPGs. However, in true Square-Enix tradition, it did have a couple of innovations…
Democracy 3 is the follow-up to the acclaimed Democracy 2, a political simulator. However, unlike Democracy 2, this Democracy involves real-world countries with their own different needs to be balanced through manipulating different policies and law. There are also a few add-ons for this game, which really do enhance the experience of being a country’s leader.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the updated remakes of the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire on the GBA, with a bit of extra content thrown in for good measure. The question was, however, were these remakes a gem, like the originals, or not?
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were the first in the generation of GBA Pokémon games, and were considered a massive step up from the limitations of the Pokémon games on the GBC. Continue reading Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire (GBA)
With the rise of many budget 4x turn based space strategy games, I thought I would give this game a good going over. The launch of Galactic Civilizations 3 is around 6 months away, so I thought it would be ideal to cover this now. Continue reading Galactic Civilizations 2: Twilight of the Arnor
Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth Remix is a remake of the original Hoshigami done by Atlus, which was originally released on the Playstation One. However, this remake didn’t really change much from the original.
I hate to say it, but past the initial ten minutes, this game doesn’t really have a plot. You start off as your standard mercenary who stays at home with your girlfriend in between fighting, up until the point where your girlfriend gets kidnapped, which gives you a reason to fight the bad guys. There are also a few clichés, most which are done in the opening scenes, such as the death of your mentor figure. It all gets a bit messy after the first ten minutes though, and the story falls by the wayside completely about six hours into the game. I also find it hard to take the story seriously when the main character is named ‘Fazz’, but that’s more of a niggle than anything.
Well, on one hand, the sound effects are good. I find the death scream that the characters make when they get killed in battle hilarious. Things like water splashes and magic effects are quite good as well. The battle music which you will be hearing a lot of, is okay. Nothing inspired, but a bit more variety would have been nice, especially as the main battle theme gets a bit monotonous after a while.
On one hand, it’s an SRPG, so I’m far more concerned about gameplay than I am about graphics. However, compared to other SRPGs out there, like Tactics A2 or Disgaea, the graphics in this are fairly bland. It almost looks like they’ve been ported straight from the original PS1 game and not been tarted up in the process. I mean, yeah, sure, they work well enough for the game, but really could have been done better. There’s a few minor graphical glitches I’ve found as well, where some of the sprites break apart during battles, but other than that, they’re, well, uninspired but workable. There is also a noticeable lag when there is too much on the screen.
Standard SRPG fare here, where you take your team up against a friend’s team on a few different battlefields. Variety would have been nice though. And good luck finding somebody else with this game.
It’s an SRPG, so any challenge this game could’ve had is blown out by the simple matter of overlevelling. If they’d done something like have opponents level up with you, rather than set enemies to be at a certain level at different points in the game, I think this game would’ve had a lot more challenge to it. As it is, the most challenge you can get out of this is by doing a low level run or no magic run, or no ranged weapons run. Something like that.
And we’re onto the meat of the game!
This plays like your usual tactics game, so you and the opponent take it in turns to move units around a set distance and either prepare attacks for the next round, attack opponents or cast magic. What sets this game apart from games such as Tactics A2 or Disgaea, however, is the addition of something called the ‘RAP Gauge’ which is altered depending on how many attacks you make, how much you move, magic cast, etc. This gauge controls how many actions you can carry out per unit, and it can be good fun seeing how much you can get out of a unit per round. It’s a bit different, and certainly makes a nice change from the standard one action per turn you see in most SRPGs.
Something else which is a minor annoyance during battles is the addition of another gauge which you get when you attack. You get a limited area in this gauge where you have to hit the ‘A’ button, and your closeness to the area determines if your attack misses or is a critical hit or not. It’s an imprecise science, and it does seem as though the AI manages to hit it in the critical area every time, which gets a bit wearying. If the AI was as inaccurate as you, or it wasn’t there, I think it would’ve been a bit better.
There are a variety of different weapons and magic you can use, all with different ranges and effects, and these do add a layer of strategy to the game. I have found however, as long as you have a good few swordsmen, a magic user and a couple of ranged attackers, you can take on most enemy teams, which is a bit disappointing in a way, I like being made to rethink my entire team for each battle, and not being able to do this does bring the game down a bit. The fact that all characters can use any weapon and all cast magic is a downside however, as it ruins any chance of you having specialised units, which are generally a staple of most SRPGs.
The weakness of most enemies is also a sore point, as most enemies will fall within a couple of whacks of a sword, and don’t really put up much of a fight. And I swear your opponents recover their turns quicker than you do. Well, suppose it adds a bit of challenge if they get to move before you do…
There is a mercenary element to this game, where you can go to a shop and hire mercenaries for your team. However, they’re all generic and come fairly low levelled, so chances are, the only time you’ll use them is when a member of your team dies in battle and you don’t get a chance to revive them before the battle finishes. It does make it feel like mist of your team is expendable however, and can be replaced at a whim, though.
Well, I haven’t been inspired to play through this game more than a couple of times. Maybe I’ll try and challenge myself one day or something. This game is so bland however, and the plot so non-existent, that it is very difficult to find a reason to play it again after the initial play through.
Replay Value: 4
I’d say go for this game if you want an easy entry point into the SPRG world, but don’t go in expecting anything fantastic. Some aspects of the battle system are done well, particularly the RAP gauge, so I can’t completely condemn this game.
Written by Karen.
Way back during the days of the Playstation One, there was an off-shoot of the main Final Fantasy games, called Final Fantasy Tactics, where Square decided to branch out into the realm of Strategy RPGs. That game was very well received, and a follow up on the Gameboy Advance came out…
As with all its other Final Fantasy games, Square-Enix likes to put the fantasy into overdrive in its games. At the beginning of the game you are a child with a disabled brother and school problem (and very dodgy hair. This doesn’t improve) At school is the typical outcast girl, strong willed and brave, and secondly is a teddy bear hugging boy that is liked by only a few.
Next, after some training events at school, one of your friends finds an old book at a bookstore, brings it to a gathering of the girl, you and your brother, and , of course, you open it. The text is too strange for you to understand, and you put it up.
Later in the evening after everyone is in bed, the book opens up and sucks the world up in a big flash. Everything is transformed into a wonderland of strange being and exotic locales. Everybody is transformed into creatures, except you. As you wake up in this strange new land, a Moogle greets you and offers to invite you to join his clan. Thus, the adventure begins…
This category can either make a game or break and in this case although it doesn’t necessarily make the game, but it does the job well enough. There are a couple of catchy tunes in this game, and I adore the Totema theme. You might find yourself getting a bit bored of the main battle music, but every now and then it does get changed for different fights, which keeps it fresh.
The graphics are bright and cheerful, I will give them that much. Sadly every Human Soldier looks the same, just as every Moogle Time Mage looks the same. The only dissimilarity in this is the main character, and they are stuck with one look as well regardless of their job. Now onto a more positive note; the spell effects, especially the more powerful ones like Thundaga and Blizzaga, are a joy to watch and to hear. And the Totema summons are brilliant. There is one small complaint, the summon spells used by summoners are disappointing in my opinion, especially as I was expecting bigger and better things from these summons from other FF games. I don’t know, I find it kinda insulting what they’ve done to the likes of Ifrit and Shiva…
Multi Player Options
I haven’t really played around with the multiplayer on this game, apart from a few times against myself using another cartridge and Gameboy.
However, the missions you do get to play through multiplayer are quite good fun, even if it’s more directed towards co-operative play rather than competitive. I think the main issue nowadays is that you’d be hard pressed to find somebody with a copy of this game and a Gameboy Advance to link with.
As far as challenge goes, the first ten hours are pretty easy, but as it serves as the introduction to the game, I’ll let that slide.
The challenge picks up a bit as laws are introduced, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly challenging for anybody who is acquainted with the tactical RPG genre.
Another aspect to the challenge would have to be deciding what you want to do. Random type battles are here so you’re not limited to how many opportunities you have to try out things. You can have a total of 23 members in your clan, and it can get overwhelming. Typically, and usually very quickly so, you’ll learn not to overextend yourself in too many directions.
However, you can challenge yourself (I dare you to do a no-ability run and see what happens when ‘Fight’ is outlawed!) which does make up for some of the lack of challenge. I’d say this is a nice game for breaking in new gamers to this genre.
This is the most important part of a tactical RPG, in my opinion. As far as gameplay goes, it is fairly simple to pick up and easy to control in battle. In battle, things are fairly simple once you’ve got a grasp on them. You have access to certain attacks based upon what abilities you have mastered from weapons and what weapons you currently have equipped. Alongside what abilities you have from your main ‘job’, you can also have the abilities of a secondary job, as long as you’ve learnt them. So you want a magic casting soldier? Go ahead. You want a Dragoon with the abilities of a Templar? Do it.
As well as the standard top-down isometric grid turned-based gameplay which seems the standard for many handheld SRPGs, this game likes to change it up a bit by adding in ‘laws’ for each battle. With the law system, you get penalised for breaking the law (either sent to jail if you KO an opponent whilst breaking the law, or given a yellow card, two yellow cards and it’s do not pass go, do not collect £200, go directly to jail) and rewarded if you do the recommended action. For example, there might be a law against fire in play – you get penalised for casting fire magic, but rewarded for casting ice magic. The games starts off with only one law being in play but goes up to three during the course of the game, making battles that slightly bit more interesting. Of course, you also get the ability to manipulate the laws as part of the story…
The main menu interface is a bit confusing to find your way around at first, but it’s easy enough once you’ve played around with it and gotten used to it. You can equip items, make units leave your clan, modify their abilities and equipment. Heck, I can spend hours in the main menu tinkering with my individual units and switching up equipment and abilities. You can also tap the R-button whilst in the menu and this will give you various bits of background information. The select button does the same in certain situations.
Overall, very well done and deserves and good 10/10.
I’m in two minds over replay value. I’d say a regular run through of this game will take around 50 hours to complete. For a more thorough play through, something like 100+ hours. I’ve currently got a game running which has just hit the 450 hour mark, and I’m nowhere near done yet. As for replay value, I’d say yes, this is a game you can replay – you can try things like solo character runs, Mage-only runs, Bangaa-only runs, runs where you deliberately try and set the laws against you, etc. You’d probably be more inclined to replay it a while after the first play though. But yeah, this game definitely has replay value.
Story ——— 7/10
Sound ——- 7/10
Graphics —- 6/10
MultiPlayer – 7/10
Challenge — 6/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Replay Value – 8/10
Overall ——- 7/10
Written by Karen
Artifact Red-X looks to become one of the best hybrid strategy/rpg games of all time, perhaps even beating most of the SRPG’s on the sci-fi genre market.
AR-X is set in a future where the humans are the bad guys (nice touch) and you have to go around marauding alien cities and stealing their resources… BUT…
A nice twist emerges before you can even think of wiping entire populations from a distance, acts of genocide go unpunished.
Your team is controlled in battle on a hexagonal grid, and it is turn based, you get upgrades for performing well and for atrocities you get punished. You need the resource that you loot in order to upgrade.
The game is set to be featured on PC and Ipad, one criticism is lack of support for android… despite the fact of their being several capable gaming devices, such as the xperia play, or the upcoming Nvidia shield.
Overall, this is a game that we can look forward to.