Tag Archives: videogames

Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth Remix (DS)

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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.

Story

3/10

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.

Sound

7/10

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.

Graphics

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5/10

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.

Multiplayer Options

5/10

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.

Challenge

4/10

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.

Gameplay

7/10

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.

Replay Value

4/10

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.

Overall

Story:  3

Sound:  5

Graphics:  5

Multiplayer:  5

Challenge:  4

Gameplay:  7

Replay Value:  4

 

Overall:  5/10

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.

The Urbz: Sims in the City (DS)

In all niceness, I’m sure anyone who hasn’t heard of the Sims series must have spent the last twenty years or so hiding under a rock. The Urbz games are a mission based take on the PC Sims games, and allows you to venture outside of your home to complete various tasks, something which wasn’t really seen on the PC games at the time. The handheld games also introduce an almost RPG like element to the game, which is new. Kinda how “Bustin’ Out” was for the Gameboy Advance, which this game can also be seen as a sequel too, depending on how you interpret various hints from the game.

Story

5/10

On the whole, the game has a fairly simple plot. You start off as a window cleaner for a large office building, you lose your job due to an egotistical old man called Daddy Bigbucks, and through events in the beginning you discover he has plans to take the town over. The rest of the game really charts your efforts to rally the residents of the town against him and then enters a free form mode of sorts after the main story is resolved.  I wouldn’t call it a fantastic story, and there are no real twists or turns in the plot to think of. And you will hate Daddy Bigbucks, so at least the game does well at setting him up as the villain.

However, props to EA for at least trying to stick a story in a Sims game, even if the results are less than stellar. I did like all the little throw backs to “Bustin’ Out” on the GBA that this game made, at least.

Sound

7/10

The main BGM for this game is okay. It’s decent, not amazingly memorable, but you will find yourself humming along to the tracks at certain points. Where this game does stand out, for me is when you’re in conversation with other Urbs or passing them, and you hear them call out in Simlish. There are also the groans and complaints your Urb makes when certain motives get low.

Graphics

5/10

The graphics aren’t brilliant in this game. You can tell they’ve been ported directly from the GBA version of this game, which is a shame, as the DS can do a lot better than this. However, the character portraits for when you’re in conversation are nicely detailed, and there are a few well done animations for the important cut scenes. I still think they could’ve done better, however.

Multiplayer Options

2/10

Outside of swapping items, I cannot recall there being any use of multiplayer for this game. Then again, the thought of a multiplayer Sims game makes me shudder anyway…

Challenge

4/10

Outside of keeping your motives up which can drop suddenly, especially during conversations and jobs, there isn’t really much of a challenge to this game. I mean sure, you might struggle a bit during the Bayou and Paradise Island sections of this game due to a lack of objects available for use at those times, but there isn’t really a challenge here. Although a lack of money at the start of the game might cause problems, which again, is something that is easily averted.

Gameplay

9/10

As far as gameplay itself goes, it plays a bit like a typical RPG game, where you move your character around with the D-Pad and interact with objects using the ‘A’ button. Although there a few times where you need to be quite close to an object in order to interact and get the direction right for it, these are minor niggles. This game also departs from a traditional Sims game in that rather than interacting with an object by clicking on it to get your Sim to do stuff; you hit the ‘A’ buttong when a yellow arrow pops up above the item you want to use. Bit annoying at start, but you do quickly get used to it. I personally quite like it as well, but I’m probably too used to that sort of thing from other games.

This game does include all eight motives from the PC and console Sims games, and they do drop at a fairly steady rate. However, keeping them up isn’t much of an issue, as there’s always somewhere to sit down or eat or go to the loo in the town, if you find yourself caught short outside your home. You also have access to things called ‘Xizzles’ which are basically little power-up things which decrease the rate at which your motives decline, which also help.

The social aspect of this game is huge, with around 60 characters you have to befriend. The social part of this game is fairly well done, with each character having their own individual likes and dislikes. You can also have fun playing ‘spot the pop culture reference’ during conversation.

As far as jobs go, similar to how “Bustin’ Out” and the console versions go, you get to play the jobs as minigames. These make for a fairly nice diversion. And I swear it’s impossible to not get addicted to the ‘Comic Explosion’ minigame, which has you running back and forth to avoid rotten tomatoes being thrown at you.

There are other little side distractions such as decorating your home, creating your own pets and cooking, all of which are good for entertainment value, and it is difficult to get bored with this game.

Replay Value

8/10

I don’t know what it is about this game, but I personally find myself constantly playing it over and over again, seeing what I can do differently, what happens if I change this one little thing, and yeah. Suppose it’s like a proper PC Sims game in that sense…

Overall

Story: 5

Sound: 7

Graphics: 5

Multiplayer: 2

Challenge: 4

Gameplay: 9

Replay Value: 8

 

Overall:  6/10

Overall, I’d say this was a brilliant game, let down by its graphics and multiplayer. Buy it and love it, if you’re a Sims fan.

Written by Karen