super robot wars

Game update

-Super Robot Wars Z3: Jigoku Hen to be released on 4/10. Some of the previous series from Z2 have been dumped in favor of Aquarion EVOL, Fullmetal Panic!, and Gundam Unicorn, which rounds out the stoic supersoldier quartet of Heero Yuy, Setsuna F. Seiei, Sagara Sousuke, and Chirico Kuuvey (sp?). It's also announced that, having concluded the TV series plot in Z2, Gundam Wing and 00 will be introducing their movie plots, plus "Quattro Bajeena will not appear as a pilot", which is SRW-speak for "Char has gone off the deep end and is looking to drop a really big rock on Earth, again". Thus, the player will likely be trading one Original Char [tm] for two Char Clones (Mirialdo Peacecraft and Graham Aker), Evil Char Clone (Full Frontal) free of charge. Also appearing in the trailer is the Tengen Toppa Guren Lagann, which indicates that the Anti-Spiral fight will occur, but it's uncertain if any of your allies would be able to help because at that scale they'd be about 1/100th of a pixel on the combat map. As suggested by the name, this will be the first installment of a 2-part series that concludes the Z timeline. Kudos to Bandai for actually announcing that ahead of time, at least.

-While we're at it, Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story: Missing Link is under development as an action game set in the UC0079 One Year War, just like War in the Pocket, 08 MS Team, Blue Destiny, and a host of other spinoffs. Given the scale and scope of the One Year War (only relatively even, long-term engagement between actual warring nations), you could posit any number of events and engagements within its timeframe. It's unclear whether the player is supposed to be playing on the side of the Federation or Zeon squad that have been introduced thus far, though the Zeon guys seem to be more standard protagonist material than the Feds.

-Would mention something about the pending release of The Elder Scrolls Online but their idiot check (the script that causes many people to be born on 1/1/whatever out of annoyance) apparently does not like my IP. The answer to "can you play Imperial" is apparently "yes, but only if you buy the Fanboys Hate Money Edition". Release is supposedly April 2014.

-Sequel to Sen no Kiseki announced, creatively called... Sen no Kiseki II. Given some interview leaks one suspects this is because there may be a III or IV somewhere down the line. It should be noted that Sen is considered the eighth game in the Legend of Heroes series (III: White Witch, IV: Tear of Vermilion, V: Cagesong of the Ocean, VI: Sora, VII: Zero/Ao), so it's actually The Legend of Heroes VIII: Sen no Kiseki II. Jedi Academy comes to mind for some reason.

-And if you really wanted to make up that $100 difference between the NextBox and PS4, Microsoft is offering a $100 credit trade-in for PS3 consoles, so you can buy a next-gen console that will not be compatible with any of your games. Neither of them are, actually, but you could also just keep your PS3 and buy a PS4 for the same amount?

-This also appears to be the year in which Japanese devs discover crowd-sourcing, though most of the Japanese collaboration projects have yet to take off, some big names have pitched in. Unsung Story is the latest effort from Yasumi Matsuno and now Akihiko Yoshida as well, an SRPG spanning a decades-long conflict in the same politics/war/magic style of Tactics Ogre etc.

-In other news, English language game review sites have been going wild over Bravely Default (English version ETA 1 week), citing it as a glorious return to the days of the classic Final Fantasy template. Which is a little odd, since Those Horrible Linear JRPGs are their favorite chew toy when extolling the virtues of the latest sandbox or Bioware style Western RPG, and contributed a fair bit to some gaps in localization as well as some misguided attempts at appealing to "Western gamers" from the Japanese industry. The very things that they whined about so much - linear story progression, turn-based combat, cutesy art and sprites, non-grittiness - are apparently okay if coming from a popular title that can be used to unfavorably compare the current Final Fantasy series to. Not that I'm a fan of the recent direction of the FF series myself, but ragging on popular franchises makes you chic, or something, I guess.
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Catching Fire: Same reaction as the first one, it's a reasonably well-put-together movie but I still don't get what the fuss is about. It's probably just a personal preferences thing - the themes and characters are well-written but fail to emotionally engage me on a personal level. Ends a bit abruptly.

Hobbit 2: Desolation of Smaug: The answer to "what to do with a movie for which most of the content is not even in the source material" was apparently "insert a lot of action sequences", which is not a bad approach, particularly the white water rafting barreling sequence. Grudgingly understand ubiquitous Legolas as fanservice for LotR fans, but Tauriel is the collective glitter of a hundred thousand Mary Sue fanfics and completely unnecessary.
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Game news (again?)

Nothing that interesting is happening in the Big Blue Room, so more game news. Fortunately there's been some activity on the RPG front.

-Persona 5 announced for winter 2014. It's quite a ways off but one assumes that the fans would have invaded Atlus headquarters in an enraged mob if they'd done their big announcement of all the various spinoffs without announcing 5. Said spinoffs include Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (random dungeon crawling game), Persona 4: Dancing All Night (rhythm dancing game?), and Persona 4: The Ultimate Ultra Suplex Hold (yet another installment in the fighting game series). Not much info is available yet on P5, but instead of shooting yourself in the head or wearing funny sunglasses, we're now apparently in the realm of furniture emancipation. The surprise is that the platform is still PS3 despite a release date a year from now, when one assumes that the next-gen systems will be in full swing.

-The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki mostly lived up to expectations... and then concluded on a complete cliffhanger, which is apparently not that unusual to the series. So the sequel being all-but-announced (via magazine interview) for summer 2014 is welcome, but raises a few questions regarding how fast the developers can work given the technical problems that plagued the original. One assumes that things like UI, character models, and combat system can be reused, but new areas and cut-scenes would have to be created from scratch. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into one of those infamous rush job disasters.

-Also on the horizon is the next Tales game, Tales of Zestiria. After giving up on mostly-English-coherent names like Destiny and Phantasia, the series appears to be heading towards names with partially-made-up-words. In this case, "Zestiria" is meant to be based off of "Zest", as in enthusiasm. Landed west of Albuquerque, etc. The plot as thus far revealed appears to be the standard "everyman protagonist meets magical girl", a bit like Xilia, except there's also a dragon involved and some sort of sage/prophet legend (導師 never translates well, BDFF went with "Devout" apparently), who may or may not be the magical girl.

-Koei and Capcom are having something of a Sengoku event competition as both have new Sengoku games in the works and are stepping hard on the PR with grandiose seiyuu events. Basara 4 looks pretty much like Basara 1 because the series never changes character designs, while Musou 4's characters have taken a turn for the whacky, perhaps because there are only so many ways to arrange samurai armor and kimonos and they'd used up all the saner variations. Which of these approaches is better is quite debatable.

-Patch 2.1 of Final Fantasy XIV will be released on 12/17, featuring a new raid tier, player housing, ninja barbers, a fight against moogles, and finally some new instances that provide Myth Tomes so that players will finally leave Ampador Keep.

-The Elder Scrolls Online release announced for 4/14/2014.


Unrelated: Should merge blogs or something, have too many.
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Game News

Websites that are blocked in China: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, various blogging sites, search engines for various blogging sites (including the Chinese Weibo), Compile Heart, figurine manufacturers. Strangely enough, not 2ch or 4chan. If part of the purpose of the Great Firewall is to "avoid corruption of the country's youth" as is the excuse given for many idiotic laws, they need to make a tad more effort at it.

And because mooncakes beget corruption this year has been disappointingly lacking in pastry. Perhaps some sort of mooncake based revolutionary moniker is in order?


-To handle the problem of need to retain years-old save files from previous games, Bioware is implementing a cloud-based world state generator for Dragon Age 3, where a player can reconstruct their plot decisions for import into the new game should they have lost their previous saves due to, eg, their OS drive dying and Windows-based games insisting on saving to C: *cough* There were save corruption and incorrect flags in even the import to DA2, so it's probably a much better approach than hoping that people will have old saves ready.

-Recent interview with the director of FF14 has turned up some interesting prospects, such as buffing Warrior (by indirectly nerfing Paladin?) and Dragoon (though not Monk or other melee) and the potential of adding a "efficiency" or "first-timers welcome" tickybox to LFR so that players may elect to avoid Elitist Jerks/Scrubs (pick one) at their leisure and being able to post LFG on a board so players can choose which party to join. It's a compromise between the traditional LFG model as implemented by WoW and shouting in Trade, and would be interesting to see how it pans out. Directly copied from WoW is a random daily instance that would award Tomes (=VP) so that you're not forced to run Ampador Keep ad nauseum at 50.

-Trailer released for Kingdom Hearts 3, promising great and glorious things. However, as it is even earlier in development than FF13 Versus FF15, one assumes that the game will actually be released around 2025 or so. Supposedly this installment will finish the "Seeker of Pickles Darkness" story centering around Xehanort and his bazillion clones, though obviously cash cows must be milked so the series itself will continue.

-Sengoku Musou 4 finally announced, a bit later than their traditional rival this time around. No actual info on improvements to the game system, though it appears that the roster has expanded enough for Story Mode to be faction based rather than character based. The character designers, on the other hand, appear to have been partying too hard as Sanada Nobuyuki looks like a refugee from Menzoberranzan and Ishida Mitsunari seems to have taken up Kabuki.

-Speaking of rival, Sengoku Basara 4 is apparently giving up all pretense at the "historical" and simply making things up as they go. Which, given the nature of the series, is probably not that much of a deviation in the first place, though then one wonders why it would be necessary to borrow names from the Sengoku period.

-Tears To Tiara II is a turn-based SRPG by Aquaplus, which... well, claims to be less a bishoujo game than an actual RPG despite the developer's reputation. Certainly a fair bit of attention seems to be paid to the combat system.

-Next in the endless stream of remakes is Disgaea 4 Returns.

-Marvelous AQL is the king of bizarre widget games, and Bakumatsu ROCK is apparently about defeating the corrupt Bakumatsu Shogunate using the power of ROCK. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Except. Wut.
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Great Wall

Would post funny travel pictures on Twitter as seems to be the norm, except the country I traveled to does not believe in such things. Off comms for the next couple of weeks until I get back to somewhere without Internet Police. Or at least official Internet Police.
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    Yanni - In Celebration of Life
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FFXIV Review

Been losing sleep to this recently, which is a bit of a surprise as the game wasn't even on my radar until some friends recommended it. The most important factor is that it seems to actually implement the concept of the story-based MMO better than SWToR, because in addition to having a main storyline it is also single-player and casual-friendly. Also, cats.

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Game News Update

-Diablo 3 expansion announced, to feature a new Act, higher level caps and/or new abilities, and the Crusader class.

-Warrior Princess of Arcadias appears to be Nippon Ichi's answer to the Odin Sphere style games.

-Shin Sangoku Musou 7 Moushouden announced. Because it's logical that players would want 3 Musou games in as many months or something?

-Tales of Symphonia: Unison Pack release date on 10/10. There doesn't appear to be anything in the way of new content and the polygon graphic style is a bit dated, so it is more a port for people who haven't played the game (and don't want to dig up a Gamecube) than a true remake.

-3rd game in the Drag-on Dragoon, aka Drakengard aka That Game With The Ridiculous Endings That Spawned Nier release delayed to 12/19. Thus far most of the information released have been about... a set of magical sisters motivated by lust. Draw your own conclusions.

-PS3 port of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma scheduled for 10/24.

-Final Fantasy 13: Lightning Returns has taken a page from FFX-2 and features Magical Dressup Lightning, including a catgirl outfit which always looks ridiculous in semi-realistic artstyles. Also there is now a fourth continent and Snow has turned evil for some reason.

-Development/pre-release on The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki coming along. Trying to combine "fantasy RPG" with the trappings of a school setting is always a bit hit-and-miss, though it can be done well (Mana Khemia, for example). Falcom has yet to drop the ball on the series, even if the overarcing plot is approaching Kingdom Hearts levels of complexity, so probably worth a look.

-Speaking of Kingdom Hearts, just in case you thought the franchise wasn't convoluted enough or didn't cover enough platforms, there is now a browser game called キングダム ハーツ χ (pronounced "key", however that works). One can only hope it's not required reading for KH4.

-On the Kickstarter side of things, Project Phoenix appears to be the first JRPG to use the system for funding.
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