Emerald Gaming Update – May 2016

I’ve been rather busy with sorting out a lot of things in my life, namely trying to get things together to study abroad, so this one’s going to be only three games rather than my usual five. I’ll probably go get five done next time around at the end of June!

I also may have played a shitton of Dark Souls II when I should have been focusing on games I haven’t played yet. I can’t afford the third game in the Dark Souls series, so I decided to settle with what I had in that regard and pretend to be part of the hype when I really couldn’t.

Yaaaaaaaay.


Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale for PC

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What an interesting little concept.

Recettear is a little game developed by EasyGameStation and published by CarpeFulgur, two companies I’ve never heard of and never played/heard of any games they’ve worked on, soooooo…there’s that, I suppose.

In Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, you play as Recette, whose dirtbag of a dad decided to take off for adventure and leave you all alone in the house. A fairy visits you, informing you that your dirtbag dad also took out a gigantic loan that now needs to be collected on. Before you start building your new box home to prepare for the eventual reposession of the estate, the loan shark fairy suggests converting your current home into an item shop and paying off the debt with the profits you make.

And so, the item shop tale begins, you buy things from guild distributors and markets, then resell them for higher. Sometimes you can hire an adventurer to go into a dungeon and get loot, but from my experience it usually isn’t worth it. Really, that’s it, that’s the game. You play the item shop that you usually get your items from in every other RPG you play until your full debt is paid five weeks later.

Sounds boring, huh? Well, sometimes it is, but it oddly sucked me in more than I expected a money management game to do. After a while I learned new tricks here and there, like how you can sell items marked as a higher value for that day usually for more than double the base price, which blew my mind. Some of the people that come in, like an adventurer a few weeks in, are so poor that they’ll try to get you to come down under the base price.

My biggest criticism would probably have to be the inability to turn away unreasonable shits outright. The little generic girl gave me so much trouble that I never wanted to do business with her again because many times it resulted in nothing, or worse, a deficit. Same with the adventurer later in the game, I really wish I just had a ‘f**k off’ button rather than having to put my prices to extremes before they get the picture.

Another thing that bugged me is that I never got to find out why my dirtbag dad went adventuring to be a hero in the first place. Granted, I beat the game but never continued on in endless mode, so for all I know I could have discovered his corpse somewhere and I’m the asshole for calling him a dirtbag this whole time, but if that’s the case, you’d think that would be a bigger part of the main story. As it stands in the main storyline, Recette just sort of accepts that her dad, her only guardian, is gone and seems to be mostly unconcerned with anything to do with him. It’s a bit of an odd thing.


Burnout Paradise for PC

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I feel like I’m missing the point of Burnout Paradise.

So, this is a game developed by Criterion Games, of the new Star Wars: Battlefront fame among other things, and this is gonna be a shorter section than the usual. Why?

Well, I’ll be frank, there’s not a lot to this game. So, you control a car, and your goal is to drive around finding minigames and winning them in order to unlock more cars to do more minigames and win more of them to unlock more cars. Yes, I realize that run-on sentence was rather cyclical, but that’s also the game. That’s it.

It literally just seems to be a collection of car minigames. No story, no progression other than more cars.

I mean, the car controls satisfyingly at least, and crashes are viscerally gratifying.

…I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what else to say. Do you want to play a game that strips everything out except cars and car-based minigames? Then this is the game for you, I suppose. It’s just so weird, I’d been hearing great things about it from my peers, and while it’s not a bad game by any means, it just seems…I dunno, lackluster. I’m having trouble coming up with anything to say about it. It’s…open-world? But that’s hardly impressive considering you can drive in most open-world games, this just happens to be one open-world game where you can’t get out of the car.

There’s something oddly dry about the whole game. I used to love Rush 2 for the Nintendo 64, although then again I played it basically always on the stunt stage and with cheats. I think that’s an issue I have with this game – because it’s open-world, there’s pretty much only one stage, and the lack of variety tends to bore me a bit. It still feels nice, but I mean…eeeehhhhhhh…

Then again, I don’t do very many driving games. So take that opinion with a grain of salt.


Kingdom Hearts 2(.5) for Playstation 3

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Kingdom Hearts. Hmmmmm. You know, putting my critical hat on, there are a lot of big flaws in the game, mostly how the entire franchise is basically a massive tangled web of contrivances as far as plot goes, and how cheesy and stilted the dialogue can get, but somehow I feel like that’s part of the charm of Kingdom Hearts, and most JRPGs I play nowadays. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe I just like the ridiculous absurdity of it all while still acknowledging its ridiculousness and absurdity.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, sorry. See, I’ve played Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2 multiple times, mostly around a decade ago when I was younger, so I feel an odd mix of nostalgia and slight disgust for how sincerely I enjoyed everything about this series when I was younger.

But ah, it was a different time back in 2005 when Square Enix’s second proper installment of the action-adventure hack ‘n slash-y franchise came out, still as shameless a crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney as it ever was. I was a wide-eyed early teen back then, now I’m a jaded and cynical early 20-something in comparison. The novelty of being a blatant young JRPG protagonist paired with Donald and Goofy as your party members was still so new and amazing to me, traveling to various Disney worlds and meeting their inhabitants, helping bring order and a happy ending to each one until you got to the end where the final boss has four hundred ten billion phases in the JRPG tradition, all of it was up my alley having grown up with Final Fantasy and getting all the little nods towards almost all the franchises.

I’ll be honest though, even now I can’t help but enjoy this game still. The gameplay is still fun for me, nothing like smoothly whacking baddies upside the head multiple colorful times with impractical blunt weapons shaped like keys.

I also had a new friend beside me, with which to pass the controller off to and from every world we beat. It was, admittedly, extremely entertaining to have someone to riff on the game with whenever someone said something particularly jerky, clunky, or silly, because man the game got silly. It got to the point where I made an impromptu drinking game out of every time any character said “Sora, Donald, Goofy” in that order, and while it didn’t send me to the hospital, I probably wasn’t going to be waking up the next day 100% if you catch my drift. I highly recommend this style of playthrough for anyone of drinking age.

Now, I played the Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix version that came with the re-release for Playstation 3, and while it had a lot of cool, new things like new keyblades, abilities and a new drive form, there were a couple of things that kind of niggled away at me. For one, while it does look better HD-ized, I swear loading times were better on the original. There were times that the game would load for a solid 15 seconds before bringing me to a new cutscene, something I don’t remember ever happening in the original PS2 release. On the note of performance, I also noticed a few instances of stuttering during battles – nothing quite game-breaking, but I took a couple of undeserved hits due to it – and loading into any Drive Form took significantly longer than the original. The Drive Form issue turned out to oddly be advantageous at times, due to the fact that in the middle of your transformation you don’t take damage from hits, and many times the loading time would out-wait an enemy’s entire combo string without taking a single hit from it. Still, I distinctly remember it not taking that long in the original.

Aside from odd performance issues when the game should be an upgrade, there are also extra scenes added in. Many of them are pretty good and flesh out certain events that didn’t get explained before, but I remember one point before the second fight with the water sitarist where an added scene took place that just sort of seemed long, and had little to do with the action at hand, pretty much a straight-up non-sequitur. There were a couple times where I felt the added scenes seemed a bit shoehorned in, but I’d say a solid three-fourths of them were fine being in there.


Other Quick Updates

Pokemon Gold for Game Boy Color

So I started this one after playing Pokemon Blue, hoping to continue my cruise through the history of Pokemon. I remember adoring it back when I first played it after playing Yellow, but man…something about it makes it hard for me to come back to. I think it’s because the animations are like…double the length of the previous game’s. It gets a little slow at times. But what can I say, Cyndaquil is still my favorite starter of all time, so I can’t complain too hard.

Tales of Vesperia for XBOX 360

So I recently started my first playthrough of a Tales Of game, and uh…well, the first thing I’ll say is that I was completely taken aback by the combat system. I was expecting a standard turn based JRPG affair when what I got was a Tekken-ish Dark Souls-ish affair very difficult to describe and felt extremely stilted at first.

Dark Souls II for PC

I am spending way too much time with this freakin’ game.

I also discovered it’s very difficult to go back to Dark Souls 1 after playing this for so long. Honestly, I’m beginning to think I like 2 better. Controversial opinion~~~! But to be fair, Dark Souls 1 is still better by a level design standard in my opinion.

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