Recap Post: March 2010

March was pretty darn good as far as backlog progress went.  Though, for as many games that I finished that month, I ended up buying a whole bunch more and went from about 44 Unfinished games to about 49-50 Unfinished games.  Bak’laag’s presence is very strong around me.  I’m going to be lucky if I can get my backlog down to 40 Unfinished games by the end of this summer.  I’m working on Completing a game for once.  Surprise surprise.

Most of the games I’ve bought have been RPGs, which will take me a while to play through.  Though, I can actually put a good amount of time into some of those games because I tend to have long commutes in Tokyo.  As long as I remember to charge my Nintendo DSi or PSP the night before, I’m good.

In this blog post, I’m going to cover the games that I finished in March.  They are the following:

1) Star Ocean: Second Evolution

2) Hatsune Miku: Project Diva

3) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

4) Shadow Complex

5) Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath, and Beyond

6) Pac-Man World: 20th Anniversary

Since I know this may turn into a Too Long, Didn’t Read, I’ve broken up the post by game

Star Ocean: Second Evolution

On the surface, it looks like the same exact game as Star Ocean: First Departure.  You start out with a sci-fi backdrop, and then you’re dropped off on an underdeveloped planet, where you spend the first part of the game.  Again, the gameplay is the same.  You can have up to eight characters in your party in any given playthrough.  Every time you level up, you gain skill points which you can use to upgrade skills and learn special abilities along the way

This time, you can choose between two characters as your main character: Claude C. Kenny or Rena Lanford.  You get the same plot no matter which character you choose, but you will get a different perspective.  Also, you can recruit different characters depending on which person you main.

At around 25 hours on my first playthrough, the game is short enough that I can replay it without it being too repetitive.  The voice acting is much improved over the PS1 original.  Second Evolution has been cleaned up from First Departure, meaning there’s less room to exploit stuff and break the game.  It’s also far more challenging this time.  It’s a very welcome change.  In the first game, you could easily steamroll your way through certain parts.  This time, I had to really watch what I was doing.

That and there’s an optional sidequest you can do to in order to fight the final boss’ true form and therefore get the true ending.  I haven’t done it yet and I’ve only defeated his regular form with Claude, so I will save that for Rena’s playthrough.

Overall, it’s more polished than its predecessor.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva

I picked this game up in Osaka back in January, although I didn’t play through it until last month.  I am now working on a Completion, the first time I’m doing something like that in a while.  It’s easily one of my favorite games for the PSP.  It’s very easy to pick up and play for a music game.  You can play through the main game and see the credits within a few hours, but unlocking everything will take a while.  Even though the game is in Japanese, you don’t need much reading skill to get by and you can look up anything you have questions about online.  I just need to remember to save since the game doesn’t automatically do it for you.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

I picked up this game the day it came out in the States, despite not getting a PS3 until later in 2008.  I played through most of Act 1 last summer and saved the rest for the two weeks I was at home in the States in March.  Like the last three Metal Gear Solid games, MGS4 is very heavy on the cutscenes.  Half of the time you’re playing the game, the other half involves you watching the story unfold through cutscenes.

As far as cutscenes go, they do a very good job at telling the latest chapter in the MGS series.  The gameplay has been cleaned up a bit from MGS3.   I don’t have to worry about constantly changing my camoflauge since that has been simplified.  With the exception of a few weak spots, each Act really does a good job at letting you approach areas as you feel.  There are times when you can get away with running and gunning, while there are other times where you better sneak your way through.

The boss fights were by far my favorite parts of the game, although I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t played it yet.

Did I mention that the game looks good.  If you can play it on a high-def TV, do it.

If there’s only one thing I regret, it’s that I haven’t finished Metal Gear Solid 3 yet.  Then again, I can do that this summer when I’m back in the States.

By far my favorite game of the month.

Shadow Complex

I knew I wouldn’t have any time to play a console RPG while I was home, so I downloaded Shadow Complex off XBLA.  Since I love Super Metroid so much, I got a treat out of playing this game.  You get introduced to the plot of the game, which I honestly could care less about, and then got into the actual game.  I picked up upgrades along the way, did some backtracking, and about 4 gameplay hours later, finished the game.

The game has a leveling system, although it’s very light compared to other Metroidvanias, including the Castlevania games themselves.    Boss fights were fun, although they weren’t very challenging.  Then again, I played on Normal difficulty.  I wish the game was longer, even though I could have spent a lot of time hunting upgrades.  Though, it’s one of the best XBLA games out there.

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond

I wish I didn’t waste my money with this game.  A meh side-scrolling shooter that tries to parodies other games, but falls short.  Having to worry about shooting enemies in the background in addition to enemies coming to the left and right of me is no fun.  A lunar landing minigame thrown in later in the game only makes things worse.  There’s not much else I can say about this generic game other than avoid it at all costs.

Pac Man World

You can tell this game is made in the 90s, and it really shows its age as a platformer from the PS1 generation.  Pac-Man’s family has been kidnapped, and Pac-Man has to go through 6 different worlds to rescue each one of them and defeat the Big Bad.  I was very lazy about making progress in this game because I was watching through my backlog of anime, but also because this game had a tendency to piss me off.

Where do I start?  The camera.  It sucks.  It was fixed and therefore was the cause of many deaths because I didn’t know when enemies or platforms would show up.  That and I couldn’t make a good guess at where to jump to.  I would think I had a clear shot at landing somewhere, but nope, I fell to my doom.  If the camera wasn’t killing me, then the many frustrating jumping puzzles did.  It wasn’t too bad in the first area or two, but it went downhill from there.  Only being able to use the D-Pad on the PS controller did not help at all.  In this day and age, it would have been nice to be able to use analog sticks.

Boss fights were a mixed bag.  Some were ridiculously easy, while others were downright annoying (like a Galaxian-style level with only one checkpoint and an aggravating boss at the end).  Game had a lot of annoying difficulty spikes like that.  Final boss was ridiculously easy, but I’m not complaining.

The only other noteworthy thing I can say about Pac-Man World is that it features the most generic music I’ve seen in any game in a while, let alone a platformer

I now know why SnakeEyez paid me to take this game off him when I traded games with him last year.

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~ by WanderingMind on April 8, 2010.

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