Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: "Sonny"

Armor Games have a huge list of games, most of them clones of one another with a little twist. I figured I was going almost nowhere trying the game kind of game one after another, so I dropped by the forum to see if there's any recommendation.

That's where I stumbled upon Sonny. Well, the game isn't much, but considering it's probably made by one person (Krin), and considering its polish-ness and features, I can see why many people love it.

Sonny is essentially very much like a turn-based combat JRPG, minus the dungeon crawling portion. If you have played FF:Mystic Quest, you might see some resemblance in initiating combat. Every part of the 'world map' has three functions for you to advance: The Shop, The Training Fight (take it as the random encounter version of Sonny), and the Plot Advancement.

When you start the game, you will be asked to pick one of the four 'archetypes', each one highly affecting your stat growth, so read the description carefully and pick what you really want to play. The skill tree in Sonny is shared amongst all the archetypes so don't be confused when you see a skill that doesn't make sense to you (like a Destroyer that can pick Magic Bolt).

Other than that, Sonny is very well done as a whole. It has decent voice acting, interesting plot, good animations and graphics and a skill list that looks semi-abusable yet fun. The background music might be a little off considering the setting, but it's still good. It serves a respec button if you need to reset your stats and skills, and also an autosave function. I'm not sure if the saving function is cookie based though and I don't really want to risk it just to see if it wipes my character or not =)

Overall, Sonny came out clean and polished with almost all the features you can find in a basic JRPG game. If you have loads of time in your hands, or just bored after doing some work, Sonny is a game to try out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

4E DND: "Archetype Overview: Defenders"

Before I get started with reviewing classes, I'd like to make a overview so that people can expect what a certain archetype is meant to do. Here, we'll talk about Defenders in general. I decided to start off with Defenders because it's the archetype I'm most used to surprisingly, since I always play some sort of support in 3E and MMOs. Also, when I review classes, I try not to talk about Multiclassing or Hybrids. Those are best left for your imagination to dwell upon.

As a Defender, your main role is to protect your party. To be more specific, you are supposed to give your enemies a higher incentive to hit you and your high AC/HP instead of your party member's lower defensive stats. This can prove to be quite difficult, since your party members are usually doing the more painful/annoying stuff and are quite squishy compared to you.

So there are a few points to look out for when creating a Defender of your choice:
1) Stickiness. This is mainly talking about your unique defender's mark. This is the measure of how much incentive there is for your marked opponent to stay at where you want him to be and/or hit you instead of your friends.

2) Durability. Every Defender has more or less the same defenses, but some can pull out a bit more from their pocket change. Remember that every 1AC/Defence can make you 5% harder to hit. Same goes for HP and surges, and any other class features that increases your lifespan.

3) Damage. If you can deal damage, enemies won't look at you as just a great wall between them and their targets. Suddenly, your Opportunity Attacks hurts, giving you a source of stickiness without marking, which is really a great asset to have.

4) Battlefield Control. Defenders are like mini-controllers. Some of them can slow, some of them can teleport, some of them can slide and push. This is a measure of how well they can transverse the battlefield, as well as their ability to make movement painful for their opponents.

Here are a few disclaimers about some topics within upcoming guides I'm making;
1) Class Features. Every defender has something unique that sets them apart from the rest of the cast. It can be really good, it can be situational, it can be ignorable-unless-it-happened. This is usually covered under one of the sections above.

2) Class Skills. Well, I wouldn't talk much about this, seeing that it's mostly for skill challenges. All skills in 4E are useful, although if you are planning to get Skill Powers (Player's Handbook 3), it's good to consider the good ones like Perception, Endurance or even Insight. Otherwise, I won't be covering Class Skills.

3) Powers and Feats. Even though they are quite important to your decision, there's quite a huge list of them that are constantly updating as new supplements arrive, so I'm not going to review them one by one as it can take forever and it will not be updated. At the very most, I will definitely point out a few here and there in the sections mentioned above.

That being said, I think Defenders are the most fun archetype to play next to the Leader. They are also the most important archetype to have in a party, aside from the Leader, because they are the ones preventing damage from hitting the wrong people.

Keep in mind, that being a defender means you have to be highly aware of your party members and enemies around you. You are expected to protect your friends and they are relying on you to keep mobs away from them. To put it in technical terms, your friends are concerned about your Move Action, and where you end your turn will affect the whole flow of the battle.

You are also expected to take hits and eat them bravely. If you are afraid of getting hits or DM rolling dices against you, the Defender is probably not for you. If you grit your teeth at the sign of a critical hit against you, maybe you should play a less stressful class, like Warlock (not to spite that class...I think ^^).

A Defender can make or break a team. Good defenders usually choose the best position to force enemies to attack him instead of his friends. Bad defenders are...well...if you have played MMOs like WoW, you know what it's like when the tank dies. It's usually the cause of death for the entire team.

If you choose to pick up the Defender, I hope you'll have an enjoyable time playing it. The satisfaction I get to play one is a pretty nice feeling to have =)

last editied: 19/08/10

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh the Irony of me

You know, I've been blogging about games for a couple of years now. I've also been ranting about things happening in my life here and there, but I've never blogged about what takes up most of my time. Ironic, isn't it?

Honestly, I don't spend all my time playing different PS3 or X360, that's why my reviews are slow and usually dated. Else, I could've reviewed a hell lot more stuff. I just realized not long ago that I've never, or hardly, blogged about the things I do with most of my free time.

Firstly, there's fighting games. I been playing fighting games more than anything else. It's very safe to say that I go down to the nearby arcade as often (or maybe more) as a good Christian goes to church. If I remember right, I started visiting the arcade since 2004/5. Still, not a single post I've made to this blog.

I think posting about fighting games just...breaks the blog. To a lesser extent, RTS as well. I could never look at them as single player games. It just doesn't feel right to say "Stage 8 of SSF4 is quite hard" because I'm under the impression that you don't play fighting games or RTS' to play the single player mode. You play to compete and pit your skills against other opponents. When I get Starcraft 2, I don't think I'll be posting a review on it. Maybe videos of awesome things happening like the Pimpest Plays I posted quite some time ago, but that's all.

I can really go on and on about this but you get the point: I'm not going to blog about my fighting games stuff. If I were to start posting about it, it will really become extremely one-side for my blog. Every week you will just see repeated posts with embedded videos going "Haha, epic shoryuken at 0:58" or "Nice IB into great damage at 1:31". It will just become a news center, which there are better sites to go to.

Then, there are projects. If I wanted to save money and stay at home, I will spend most of it doing some projects. Back then I spent a lot of time attempting to integrate N+'s physics into my codes which I thankfully succeeded well enough to put it aside until I have more free time to properly change it into a nice system in C++.

With that aside, I'm still helping YH on his game project, although it's becoming stagnant as of late. I can't spare the details why, but basically it's a bit hard to work when there is limited manpower and concepts. What can I say? We are all working for free so it's hard to get the right motivation at times.

Again, I didn't blog about about that. And I can't. But it does takes up some of my time.

So what is the conclusion? Well, I think the reason I started this post was because suddenly I realized that there isn't enough variations of stuff I'm posting. After thinking, I realized I can't post about them. Typing tutorials for games programming will take a ridiculous amount of effort per topic which I'm not willing to invest my time on. And I've already stated my reasons for fighting games. Both or these are hobbies which I spend regular amount of time on for the past...many many years?

A bit ironic isn't it? That I start about blog to post my views and my ideas, and yet not a single thing I posted is about the 2 things I spend most of my time on: Fighting Games and Games Programming. They are, technically, still about games and that's what this blog is all about.

Still, with reasons I've stated above, I guess I have to blog about different things. 4E DnD is a good start, and I've seen some interesting game mechanic implementations recently. So yes, maybe I'll start there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: "Resonance of Fate"


I admit, I didn't completely go all the way with this game, but as far as I can tell from video walkthroughs posted online, I figured it's the same game from the start to the end. I'm not complaining since it is really typical of JRPGs, and to me, the most important thing in a JRPG is whether the mechanics and/or story can keep a player going.

So I'm just going out of the way and say that the story is mildly interesting at most, so it boils down to mechanics. Resonance of Fate has two main mechanics that are rather unique to the game. First it's their battle system, and the other is the unlocking the world through hex pieces.

I'm not going to start a tutorial here explaining those since they are more or less available online. A full explanation will take a ridiculous amount of pages.

For the hexes thing, basically the world map made of hexes and they are locked. You are supposed to collect and find hex pieces, either from monsters or quests, and use them to unlock the world map. There are also special colored hex pieces that serve two purposes: to unlock an impassable colored hex or to give bonuses from power stations. A video should make this clear:

The battle system is what makes you love the game, or hate the game. I think it's a really really good try though there are flaws here and there, especially at earlier levels.

As a brief description: There are basically 2 kinds of damage: Direct and Scratch. Scratch damage is very easy to deal as you dish out ridiculous numbers Direct damage will never see, but it cannot kill. When an opponent who has Scratch damage on him is dealt Direct damage, the Direct damage's first hit will deal the accumulated Scratch damage's worth of damage on top of its own damage.

Every other mechanic in the battle system are mechanics to make combat more interesting and help you deal more damage per turn. It's quite hard to get used to it at first since you have no idea what is the 'right' way to play, but if you are smart enough (which you should if you play games like these), you will be able to find a way. Perhaps a video will help:

Combat is also extremely beautiful to look at as you can see from the above video. It's almost like watching matrix all the time. The combat system was shown in the trailers and it's probably what sucks most of us to get the game.

However, it is really a risk to take. If you don't like the battle system, be prepared to put down the game within 15 mins of play. Of course, like most JRPGs, as you get more power ups, the game will get more fun, but if you don't even like the foundation of the system, I don't think you should waste your time giving it a second chance (or rather, giving yourself a second chance).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: "3D Dot Game Hero"

At S$56, I really thought this game would be a steal. Honestly, it depends on how much you like traditional Zelda games, really. I bought this because I thought the graphical design aspect of the game is noble and daring. If you ask me to be honest, the '3D pixel' art is really painful to watch at extended periods of time.

The game idea is really simple: create a Zelda game, give it a novel art direction, and exaggerate some mechanics/break the 4th wall to create nostalgia or comedy or whatever Kojima does to his Metal Gear games. It's still very much a 2D game with 3D graphical direction.

Hmm where have i seen this before?

What strange, yet simple, art direction games does not have an editor? 3D Dot Game Heroes allows you to make your own 3D-Dotted character. With a few mixing and matching, and comparing with ready-made characters, even one unskilled in 3D modelling and art such as myself managed to create a simple, average, human-looking character, though I probably spent too much time on it.

Then you enter the game. The gameplay is very simple design-wise; I cannot emphasize this enough. You are a hero with a sword and shield, much like Zelda, and along the way you will get tools like bombs, arrows and boomerangs, much like Zelda.

What a boner!

The slight difference, and probably the most 'wtfbbq' and innovative part of the game, is that your sword can be modified to ridiculous extents. It is possible to make your sword incredible wide and long that it looks like it covers half the screen, espacially when you aim upwards. You can also enable your sword to be able to spin while it's active on the screen (like Zelda, only at the more ridiculous degree), or pierce through static objects.

Looks pretty overpowered, especially when you try to use it in dungeons, until you realize that it only happens when you get a certain powerup, or when your health is full. The moment you get hit, it's more or less a downhill battle with a crappy powerless sword as you desperately try to find ways to restore your health.

So basically, you, as the hero, have to travel to 6 temples and save the sages so that they can give you power while you confront the BBEG. So you'll enter a temple, obtain the unique item (be it a boomerang or a hookshot), obtain keys, obtain poss key, kill boss, obtain 1 more heart to your maximum health and learn magic from the sage to use at the next dungeon. Very Zelda-like.

The in-game camera angle. It actually looks weird on big TVs

Seriously, if you are familiar with Zelda, I can guarantee that at least 80% of the mechanics from Zelda are available in this game. You still cut grass to get money, fight some monsters that looks very similar to Zelda monsters, and collect Pieces of Heart to increase your maximum health.


Wow, I'm running out of material to talk about. Anyway, there are tons of secrets to discover and mini-games to play so be sure to read a guide (the GameFAQs one is very well written) while playing. I spent alot of time on the tower defence mini-games, but that's just me.

So alot of mix opinions and feelings here and there for me. I would like to give it a 7, but I also feel that it's being too generous even then. It's still a game worth looking at, maybe not for $56.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekly Reflection

So before I go on to reviewing another game, I just I'll just post some heads up first. I haven't really been playing much new games recently, so maybe I'll go back to posting reviews of old games. It's fun to revisit those great games I've played from the past like Theme Hospital and stuff like that.

I sometimes find myself jaded just thinking of reviewing certain games. Sometimes I think it's not worth the effort. "Oh it's basically another JRPG, with a little something extra that people may or may not like". I post these reviews so that I can try to understand the development more and what's going through the dev's head, but when they make a 'better clone', there's not much to review is there other than "it's like xxx but more polished!".

All the more I think I should really get a closer look at indie games. But even then, indie games are just what they are...indie games. They are short, sweet and creative, but not big. When games are big, it's much more interesting to see how the developers allow their players to enjoy through the entire game process. That's why I think people like Kojima is a genius and to a lesser extent, ZUN.

Also, there isn't really a game I would like to try out recently. Transformers is cool but it requires multiplayer to be enjoyable. The only other thing to look forward to is Blazblue Continuum Shift. I went to Beergut's house to peek at the JPN LE version. Some of the challenge mode combos can be really hard for some characters to the point where I think it's not a really nice thing to throw at newcomers, but I think it's pretty fun to do.

It's been a routine thus far this couple of weeks. Basically me working for my mum for some cash, thinking about Blazblue stuff, going down to arcade and working on the popcap project. I can actually start posting about BBCS stuff every two days but the posts are going to be incredibly boring to read since posts about fighting games aren't that interesting unless I post a video or the few people who read are very very interested in BBCS (unlikely).

It's much more fun creating random videos with Touhou Labyrinth since I can feed Touhou fans random stuff, the game is very very obtainable, and the game design for the boss fights themselves can be quite interesting. If you liked games like Etrian Odyssey, or JRPG dungeon crawling, you should play this.

Even then, things have been quite slow as far as trying out new games go. I still do have games I don't mind reviewing like Homeworld 2, just that these few days have been pretty hot on Blazblue since the recent console release. Also I'm trying to put some effort into the popcap project. I want to make sure that it progresses at the very least.

And also there's a issue of Digipen. I really can't wait for it to start, and I'm glad it's starting on a good month like September. Gives me time to clear some stuff away, hobo and enjoy before it begins. Despite my desire to slack, I find it really really hard to pick up an MMO. I found the reason why and it kinda shocked me: I feel that I'm wasting my time playing one. I keep thinking that there are tons of other more productive things to do to improve myself, to the extent that I'd rather read a book about vector maths or C++ than play an MMO.

Zzz, am I getting old? Am I going to forsake MMOs if I really do become a game developer/designer/programmer. I feel that I'm probably no longer playing games for the same kind of fun other people play it for. I feel that I'm playing to learn about how I would react and other people would react to a situation in the game, which I in turn find it really fun and interesting.

That's why I find fighting games and the arcade so 'fun' I guess. All the people gathered at one place to use their characters in their own special way to defeat their opponent. A lot of information is being exchanged very quickly in fighting games, that's why I love it. To a lesser extent, RTS are like that too, just that there's less reaction-to-action and more planning. I'm not saying that to discredit RTS, just to state that it's the same, yet very different kind of fun.

Well, for the next few posts it's gonna be the same old stuff again: reviews, rants and more Touhou Labyrinth videos. I'm actually at 5F looking for the exit for 6F already, just finding a suitable background music for the next video. It's quite fun to figure out all the video stuff when I was trying to make the video HD =p

Saturday, July 3, 2010

[Touhou] Labyrinth of Touhou, Youmu Boss Fight 3F (2)

Hello, I'm back with another attempt of the 3F boss fight in Touhou Labyrinth. This time I'm focusing on taking Myon out first to see if it makes any difference. Again, please double click the video above to access the widescreen in Youtube, don't watch from here.

Below is the video description:

This is my 2nd attempt at fighting Youmu. The first attempt along with boss details and such can be found here:

Audio Tracks:
Hiroari Shoots a Strange Bird ~ Till When?
Ancient Temple

The party setup is the exact same as the first video, just that in this video, I tried to remove Myon from the battlefield first instead of Youmu.

I did a lot of mistakes compared to the first video, but the difference should be there; I didn't need to deal with the poison Myon does in this video and that helped significantly.

Sorry for the irritating cursor!